Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gluten Allergy/Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity



Okay, you've been to the doctor and you've been told you have a wheat allergy, a gluten allergy or that you have celiac disease or that you may be 'sensitive' to wheat.  What does this mean?  Are they the same thing? And what on earth do I do now?  NO, they are not the same thing.  So, let's start off by defining what each term means.

Definitions:

Gluten allergy (aka Wheat allergy) - any allergy is when the body's immune system attacks the protein given off by a substance and attacks that substance in the body.  In doing so, the body essentially is attacking itself.  In other words, it is an abnormal reaction of the body to a normal substance.  However, not all 'reactions' are allergies.  Sometimes, these 'reactions' are 'sensitivities' such as when a person takes an antibiotic and gets diarrhea.  This is not an allergic reaction.  To test positive for a gluten allergy, you must have the antibody in the blood stream or have a positive skin test to have the allergy.

Celiac Disease - this is the chronic failure of the gut (intestines) to digest food triggered by hypersensitivity of the intestines to gluten (wheat protein).  It slowly destroys the intestines because of it causing a variety of symptoms from upset stomach to brain 'fog' to diarrhea, weight loss, weight gain, and more.  It affects about 1 in 133 people of  Northern European descent mostly (Celtic descent especially) but can affect other cultures as well.  If individuals continue to eat gluten, it can lead to cancer.  This is also a genetic condition and is passed on in families.  This can be very tricky to diagnose as well!  In order to get a correct diagnosis, you must be actively EATING gluten when you are tested!!  If not, the results are INVALID!!

Gluten Sensitivity - this is a newer term in the last few years.  An individual doesn't test positive to the allergy testing or celiac disease testing.  However, when the person eats gluten they have all the symptoms of gluten allergy or celiac and when they avoid it, their symptoms resolve.  This is not fully understood yet.

Treatment:

There is only one treatment for all of this!!  Complete avoidance of gluten!!  Gluten is found everywhere!!  Not just breads, cakes, pasta, and cereals but in soy sauces, creams, fillings, pastes, and so, so much more!!  I have found gluten in some of the strangest places!!  I went to pick up some vodka to make extracts!  Guess what?  Vodka is no longer just made from potatoes (known to be gluten free!)!!  Nope!!  It is now made from 'grain alcohol!'  This could be ANY type of alcohol and could include wheat!!  As a matter of fact it took me nearly a month to find a safe, gluten free vodka to make my extracts!  Mark One was it and is made from corn.  Another hidden place?  Artificial food colorings!  Yep, how about caramel coloring? Food starch is another one, Miso, smoke flavorings, stock, artificial seafoods, and more!!  So, if it isn't clearly labeled as gluten free and you are on a gluten free diet - do NOT buy it!!  For a list of unsafe foods, see celiac.com.  They are a great resource for a gluten free diet!!

If you should have any questions, feel free to ask and I will try to answer; however as always seek the help of your medical professional if you are concerned about your health conditions!!  Thank you!


I have a gluten allergy and sensitivity.  I was tested while NOT eating wheat (positive allergy test, negative celiac test)!  I have been gluten free for about 5 1/2 years and have done far, far better than when I was eating gluten.  I actually have a rare complement cascade immune disorder that causes this.  I have lots of recipes and experience in eating gluten free with a family that eats wheat!!  It is possible to eat very well on a gluten free diet!!  I am also allergic to rice.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Special -Ends in 1 week!!


Anyone who orders of $10.00 or more off this site for the next week will get a free order of my luscious lip balm!!  So, don't delay, order today!!  I have set myself a goal and I need to meet it!!  Also, don't forget I have a new dip mix and new spice refills!!  Check out the products page today!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Dip Mix and a few Spice Refills!!

Yeah!!  A new Vegetable Dip Mix and a few of the spice blends are now in 2 oz refill sizes!!  The Vegetable Dip Mix is - A mix of dried chopped vegetables including carrot, spinach, green and red peppers with smoked sea salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and sun dried tomatoes for a wonderful chip dip!!
2oz Heat Sealed pack $3.00

The Italian Spice Blend, Bayou Spice Blend and Mexican Spice Blend are now available in 2 oz refill sizes!! The bags are heat sealed so you know they are not tampered with!!  As soon as I can get the bags for the 4 oz refill sizes I will have those as well!!  I was told the bags would hold 4 oz, but unfortunately they only hold 2 oz.  So, stay tuned!!  You can find these items on the products page and are available now!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Allergy to Fowl?

Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I'm allergic to fowl.  Any and all fowl.  What is fowl?  Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.  One of the lowest cholesterol, lowest fat meats you can eat and I have to be allergic to it!!  Talk about a frustration!!  I didn't even know I was until they did blood work and tested me.  I was having so many health issues and stomach problems, I would have never known!!  Anything you eat that has a 'protein' molecule in it, you can have or develop an allergy.  However, I'm NOT allergic to eggs.  How can that possibly be?  Well, when eggs cook it 'denatures' or 'changes' the protein molecule and makes it slightly different.  So, I can eat eggs!  I know, it's really weird.

So, what does one possibly do when you're allergic to so many meats?  You find alternative meats to eat!!  Some of my friends often are afraid to eat at my house or try my foods as they just don't know what to expect!! hahahaha!!  But, it is often very, very good and we eat very healthy!!  Tonight we enjoyed goat!  Yes, goat.  I found it in a little Mexican Cantanina (grocery store) that I go to to purchase unusual fruits and vegetables or spices that I can't get in many of my local grocery stores or even the farmer's market (like tomatillo's, guava's when the store is out, Mexican oregano, etc.).  They also can be far less in price on Lamb.  These stores have to pass the same inspections that every other grocery store have to pass so don't be afraid to try one!!  We've also tried alligator, venison (deer), frog legs, shark, and more.  Alligator is actually quite good!  I use the frog legs and fry them like I would if they were chicken legs when I am 'craving' something absolutely fried like a chicken leg (which is pretty rare).  We do venison whenever I can get my hands on it!!  My future son-in-law's father does deer hunting so he often provides that to me and I will can it up to save it!  It is one of the tenderest meats you could have and far healthier than beef.

My daughter prepared dinner tonight and it was fabulous!!  She roasted the goat in the oven with wonderful spices on a low set oven most of the day.  Goat can be tough and it came out quite tender.  We also picked up purple potatoes and Ruby Red Swiss Chard to make a wonderful salad.  It was a fantastic dinner.  So, don't be afraid to try 'unusual' things or shop in different places!!  You would be surprised what you can find when you look!!


Roasted Goat
2 lbs goat roast
¾ cup Grape Juice
¼ cup Vinegar
1 tbsp dried Rosemary
4-6 juniper berries
½ tsp peppercorns
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil

Put all dry ingredients into a coffee bean grinder or spice grinder and blend into a powder.  Rub dry mix over goat.  Put oil in a pan and get pan hot.  Place goat in pan and pan sear it.  Mix grape juice and vinegar in a bowl.  Deglaze the pan with the grape juice/vinegar mixture.  Place goat and liquid mixture in an oven safe roasting dish and roast in oven at 250 degrees F. for 5-6 hours.

Purple Potatoes with Shitake Mushrooms

1 ½ pounds of Purple potatoes (they’re small so no need to peel), chopped in pieces.
3 slices beef bacon
½ package Shitake Mushrooms
Smoked Salt & pepper to taste

Using a non-stick pan, brown bacon in pan until crisp, remove from pan and chop the bits, set aside.  Add the potato pieces to bacon grease.  Add smoked salt and pepper.  Cook until just tender and add mushrooms and bacon until fully done.  Serve.

Ruby Red Swiss Chard Salad

½  head of Ruby Red Swiss Chard
1 pear, cored and chopped
½ pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 handful of hazelnuts lightly chopped
Dash of salt and pepper
2 oz of Goat Cheese, crumbled
Dash of oil
Dash of lime juice

Chop Swiss Chard, pear, strawberries and hazelnuts.  Put in a bowl and toss with oil, salt and pepper.  Add the lime juice, toss again.  Add the goat cheese and toss again.  Serve.







Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All Natural Food Colorings



Artificial Food colorings have been found to cause allergies, cancer, possibly contribute to hyperactivity, and multiple other problems in lots of people.  I for one am allergic to nearly every artificial food coloring there is.  Just what is artificial food coloring made from?  It really depends on what color you are talking about.  The Food & Drug Administration has a labeling requirement that they must meet certain strict requirements to pass their inspections to be allowed to be put into foods or cosmetics.  However, these requirements have changed tremendously over the years.  If I were to tell you that certain colorings had acetone, hexane, petroleum, coal, or derivatives of bugs in them?  Would you eat that?  I certainly would not.  But, that is what is in many artificial food colorings.  What's even more surprising is that many Eastern European countries have now banned the use of artificial food colorings and have turned to natural food colorings!  So, why does the USA and the FDA still allow this junk to remain in our food?  I for one think it is criminal that they continue to do so, but that is my personal opinion!!

What is a Natural Food Coloring?  Natural Food Colorings are those things that are found 'naturally' in nature that can be used to color something else.  Several examples:

Turmeric or saffron are excellent choices to color things in the yellow hues.

Beet Powder can be used for red or even any red berry.

Matcha Powder or Spirulina Powder - Matcha Powder is a natural green tea found in health food stores.  Gives a wonderful fluorescent color to bright green color.  Spirulina Powder is a blue-green algae that is really a dark green (almost hunter green) in color and is more for a solid food coloring such as cakes, frostings, etc.  You can also use spinach juice or whole crushed dried leaves.  I tried the Spirulina Powder in a jelly (liquid) and it didn't quite turn out.  I will try the Matcha Powder next to see how that does.

Carrot Juice - will give you orange

Grape Juice - will give you purple, but you can also use red cabbage (cut the cabbage and boil in water until you get the desired hue)!!

To get blue, use the same red cabbage but add in baking soda until you get the hue you want!!  I have used this color and it works well!!

I'm still experimenting with how to make these colorings and am open to any and all questions about what to do, how to do things!!  If you have any questions, comments, please by all means, leave them!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gluten Free AND Rice Free Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway Seeds!!

Cooking gluten free is hard enough, but add in a rice allergy and it becomes a nightmare!  When I found out that I had a gluten allergy, giving up bread was heart breaking.  What was I going to do?  It became even worse when I found out about the rice allergy as most gluten free cooking has rice in it!!  Oh boy!  I found a wonderful cooking school online and with the help of the owner, we came up with an incredible 'All-Purpose' GF-RF Flour mix that I could use in place of most 'All-Purpose' flours!  Hooray!  This school is called the 'GlutenFreeCookingSchool'!!  I signed up and have been enrolled since!  I have since refined many of my techniques and altered many recipes!  This is one of them (I can't even recall where I originally found this recipe, but changed it up a bit).  I was looking to make a traditional Irish meal for my family for St. Patrick's Day last year and wanted a traditional Irish Soda Bread that was Gluten Free.  The only problem was the flour mix.  So, I developed this one with her help.  It is fabulous!!  Light, flaky, not dense, and very filling!  It's more filling than regular breads because of the higher protein content from the 'bean' flours!  Bonus!!  It also is very flavorful!  I am also listing all the 'alternatives' you can use in place of any 'allergy' potentials!!  I so HATE when a recipe doesn't list what you can substitute things!!  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!!

All purpose GF/RF Flour Mix

3 'parts' Garfava Flour (this is the mixed garbanzo/fava bean flour)
3 'parts' Corn Starch *
2 'parts' Sorghum Flour
1 'part' Masa Harina *

(*Note: If you're allergic to corn, you can substitute arrowroot powder for the cornstarch and for the Masa Harina you can use Tapioca Flour).


GF/RF Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway Seeds


Ingredients:
5 C All Purpose GF/RF Flour (above, you will have some left over!)
1 C Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 Tsps Salt
3 Tsps Xantham Gum
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, cubed (1 stick) ****
2 1/2 C Raisins
2 Tbsps Caraway Seeds
2 1/2 C Buttermilk ***
1 Lg Egg **
Cooking Spray


** If allergic to egg, use 2 1/2 tbsp ground flax seed with 3 tbsp water, let sit and 'meld together' until gelatinous
*** If allergic to milk you can use any non-dairy milk and add 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon to 1 cup non-dairy milk to make a 'butter-milk' such as rice milk, almond milk, etc.
**** If allergic to milk can use any non-dairy butter alternative as long as it comes in a 'stick' to mix with the bread dough.


Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Generously butter a heavy ovenproof 10 to 12 inch "skillet" or stoneware pan with a 2 to 2 1/2 inch high side or use cooking spray.

3. Whisk or sift together first 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend.

4. Add butter, using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form.

5. Stir in raisings and caraway seeds.

6. Mix buttermilk and egg together to blend in separate bowl.

7. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients using a wooden spoon; stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky which is not like typical breads!).

8. Transfer dough to prepared skillet/stonewear; smooth top, mounding slightly in center.  Spray top lightly with cooking spray (helps it 'brown' while cooking).

9. Using a small sharp knife dipped in GF/RF flour, cut 1-inch deep X in top center of dough.

10. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

11. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes.

12. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

This is by far one of my favorite breads to make!!  It is also fairly easy and is yeast free for those allergic to yeast as well!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vacuum Sealers!! A Must Have Tool!!

If you've never used a vacuum sealer or don't know what one is, let me first tell you about what a wonderful and invaluable tool this is to have in the kitchen!!  If you are about saving time, money, and energy, this is definitely a tool for you!!  Whether you are just freezing, dehydrating, or storing dried goods, this tool is very, very versatile.  Certain models can even seal mason jars!!  I have one that does and it certainly saves me time!!  This is not a tool to replace heated canning though.  It is more to vacuum seal items such as dry goods, dehydrated goods, etc.

What to look for: The most common brand is Food Saver.  It is by far the most readily available but not the only available.  It is available in most 'box market's' and is easy to find supplies.  Other brands include Rival, Deni, Seal-A-Meal, and Weston.  The only ones of those I have personally seen in most 'box market's' is Seal-A-Meal.  I use Food Saver myself.  Mine does have the attachment for the 'jar sealer' that allows me to seal mason jars.

Here are some examples: 


This is a vertical standing Food Saver
















This is a standard Food Saver that sits flat on the counter top.
















These are canisters you can get to vacuum seal with the Food Saver















Hose attachment to vacuum seal jars & canisters











Rolls to make 'bags' for food saver







Pre-made bags













Attachments to seal Jars:                       Wide Mouth                                      Regular Mouth



If you decide to get a vacuum sealer, I would highly recommend getting one that seals the mason jars/canisters as well as the bags and being able to make your own bags.  I seal mason jars of all sizes with things such as flour, clear jel, xantham gum (expensive stuff!), beans, dried peppers, herbs, bulk spices, and even lettuce!!  Yep, I vacuum seal lettuce to keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (that will be a different post!!)!!  I use the bags to seal vegetables and meats for the freezer as well.  We often buy in bulk packages and this saves us money.  If I can't get to canning vegetables or fruits right away, this saves them from going bad too quickly.




Jar with vacuum sealer and hose attached

You can often get them as a kit but most do not come with the jar sealer (or maybe just one of them so check the box!).  So, get your vacuum sealer today and start saving money on those bulk goods and frozen goods!!  It is very much a very valuable tool indeed!!













Sunday, July 22, 2012

Candied Eggplant

I was on one of my favorite sites, SB Canning and someone had posted about making Zucchini Candy.  It apparently was like making home made gummy bears!  Well, I was intrigued.  While I'm allergic to Zucchini, there just HAD to be something else that I could use to make something like it!!  After much discussion, we found the answer!  Eggplant!  So, after much alteration, finding the 'right' kool-aid that I COULD use (most have food dies that I can't have), it was a success! Here are step-by-step pictures and directions!!  If you are allergic to squash, this is your alternative!!


Candied Eggplant

10 cups peeled diced eggplant 1/2 inch cubes ( I use "worms" about 3 inches long and 1/12 inch thick and wide)
3 cups water
2 pkgs. unsweetened Kool-aid  (I use Berry Blue as I can only use Blue food coloring!)
2 1/2 cups sugar



Peel, dice and remove the seeds from the eggplant.


Mix the liquid syrup together. 





Add eggplant to the syrup and bring to a boil.  





Simmer for 25 min. 





Drain. 





Put on dehydrator trays. Dry 14 hours at 125 degrees. 





Turn pieces over and dry another 4 hours. 

If you would like, at this point you can dip them in sugar. 

This will feel dry and not sticky when done. Store in jars or other tightly sealed containers. If you dip in sugar when you turn them, they will be more like "gum drops" on the outside.  (I didn't with this batch).  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

'Allergy-Free' Mayonnaise - from Scratch!!

If you're allergic to so many things (as I am) finding things such as ketchup, mustard, or even mayonnaise is impossible in the store!  I can't buy ANY commercial mayonnaise at all!  I make all mine at home and it is so, so, so easy!!  Regardless of what you are allergic to, you CAN make it at home!!

Whisk method

So, what do you need to make mayonnaise?  Oil, egg/egg substitute or flax seed/water, an 'acid' (such as a vinegar or lemon juice) and mustard powder.  Simple ingredients!!  You will also need either a high powered mixer/blender/immersion blender or better yet, a food processor.  I use a food processor.  I used a mixer for a long time and it just took forever!

Mayo in a food processor

As eggs can carry salmonella and other germs, ensure you are getting your eggs are very, very fresh, pasteurized, or you can 'cook' them!  You can 'cook' them (or 'temper' them) over a very low heat using a double boiler method without actually 'cooking' them!  I've done it!  Ensure the egg doesn't get above 160 degrees!  Use a thermometer to check it and do it very, very slowly!  This is by far the BEST mayo I have EVER eaten!!  It is very time consuming but tastes better than anything you could ever buy!!  You will then want to strain the eggs through a fine mesh strainer to ensure there aren't any 'bits' of cooked egg.

'tempering' eggs

Mayonnaise Directions

Ingredients:
1 cup oil (of any choice!) I often use flax seed oil for the extra Omega 3 oils
1 egg yolk/egg white replacement/or flax seed replacement if allergic to egg! ** (see below)
1 tbsp 'acid' of choice (this could be vinegar or lemon juice)
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions for a food processor:
In food processor, mix egg white replacement (or egg yolk/flax seed replacement) with 'acid', salt and mustard powder for 1 minute.  Through opening at top, slowly drizzle oil in while machine is on.  Drizzle it very slowly!!  This will begin to start the 'emulsion' process!  You will see it begin to change.  Ensure you add all the oil very slowly!  It takes about 10 minutes to add all the oil if you do it right.

Directions for a blender, immersion blender or whisk:
Combine the egg yolk/egg white replacement (or flaxseed substitute) and the acid in a bowl and begin to whisk or beat.  Very, very, very slowly (drop by drop!) add the oil until you begin to see an emulsion form.  You can then begin to add it in a little quicker now (this is usually after about 1/3 of the oil is added).  Once all the oil is added, add in the mustard powder and salt!  This method takes about 30 minutes.

**To make the ground flax seed egg substitute, you will need to do this FIRST.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons hot water
Instructions:

Directions:
Mix the ground flaxseed with hot water in a blender or with a wisk or fork for 1 - 2 minutes or until an egg-like consistency has been reached.  NOTE:  I've not actually done it this way but have read it is possible!!  As such I can not attest to how well it will turn out.  I will test it out soon as let you all know!!

My 'jarred' mayo!!

Home made mayonnaise is safe stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks to a couple of months.  It doesn't last that long in my house!  Since I tend to use an egg-white replacement that I found at my local grocery store (that does NOT contain any alliums and is pasteurized), I tend to make 3 cups at a time, put it in canning jars and vacuum seal two of them.  It still only lasts about six weeks!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Probiotics - Are they really worth it?

In a nutshell - YES!  Every human body has both good and bad bacteria on and in their body.  It is this symbiotic relationship that helps us survive every day.  But when something goes awry, we get sick, often get put on antibiotics to fight an infection, the bad bacteria has taken over and those antibiotics set out and destroy that bad bacteria.  What you don't know is that while that antibiotic is 'killing' the 'bad' bacteria it is ALSO killing the 'good' bacteria that you need to survive!  The symbiotic relationship that you had going on in your body is no longer there!!  This is why many women get yeast infections, children and infants get thrush, you can get diarrhea, upset stomach, etc. just from taking an antibiotic!!  It also leads more to allergies as well as what is known as 'leaky gut' syndrome.  So, take it from me, someone who has learned more the hard way, take probiotics daily!  It does a body good!!

Are all probiotics equal?  No!  Some probiotics have only one probiotic in it!  In order to get the full benefit it is best to get an organic, all natural probiotic that is gluten free, has no artificial colorings or additives, and has at least 2 billion colony forming units of the probiotics that it contains.  It should also contain more than one probiotic.  A probiotic containing at least six is best!  These are considered multi-complex and are most beneficial.  It also should be one that requires refrigeration!!  A good probiotic needs refrigeration to keep the probiotics alive!  Whenever I write a prescription for a patient, it is followed with a recommendation for a probiotic.  If their insurance will cover it, they get a script for one!  It helps prevent those nasty side effects one doesn't want when taking those antibiotics.  My patients are forever grateful when they take them!  What probiotic do I take?  I have found a great one recently!  It is "Nature's Dynamics Organics - Digestion Probiotics".  You can find them online or at a grocery store!  I found mine at my local Publix Grocery store very inexpensively!  Once the bottle is open, you do have to refrigerate these!  A bonus with this one is that it contains Flax seed, blueberry, elderberry, pomegranate, kale, and ginger!  All very helpful in digestion and immune function **.  It is also Vegan for those of you who are vegetarian!!  So, take that probiotic every day!  You won't regret it!!

7/20/12 UPDATE NOTE:!!  Exciting news!!  COUPON ALERT!! Anyone who orders from my site on 'Nature's Dynamic's Organic's can use an EXCLUSIVE COUPON CODE!!!  When ordering, just enter l'ecuyer exactly like that and you will receive 30% off your order (don't forget the apostrophe!!)!!!  I contacted them last night and just got the email today!!  Awesome!!



** DISCLAIMER: The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Required 'Canning Class'!

I FINALLY found a scheduled required FDA/USDA Canning class known as the "Better Process Control School" which fulfills the FDA/USDA "Good Manufacturing Practices for requirements to certify supervisors of acidification, thermal processing, and container closure evaluation operations during the canning of low-acid or acidified foods. Companies which manufacture low-acid or acidified foods must operate with a certified supervisor on the premises when processing as a specified in FDA’s 21 CFR Part 108.25(f) and 108.35(g) or in USDA’s CFR 318.300 and 381.300."  It will be the end of November!!  In order to take this class I need to fulfill something!!  I need to boost sales as this is a very expensive class!!  I would love to get my canned items out to you all as well, but this class is quite expensive!!  See my Products Page and order products that I already have available (that don't require this class!)!!  Then I can get my sauces, condiments, jams, jellies, etc out to you all as well!!  Thanks so much!!  Have a great day!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Updated Shipping!! Now including Canada & the UK!!


If you live in Canada or the UK, I can now ship to those areas using the 'Pay One Price' boxes from the USPS!!  If you hadn't considered ordering because of this, please do so!!  It must fit in one of those boxes!! These boxes are by FAR the least expensive shipping from the US!!  To Canada it will take 3-6 days, to the UK it will take 6-10 days for shipping.  Have a great night everyone!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spice Blends Now Available!!!






Four Different Spice Blends are now available!!
 My wonderful Italian Spice Blend, Mexican Spice Blend, Bayou Spice Blend and Chili Powder are now available online!!  It's been a very long endeavor and I appreciate everyone's patience while waiting to get this under way!!  My spices are free of onions, garlic, sulfites and more!!  As I am allergic to gluten, rice, and many, many other things you can rest assured it will not contain allergens that you are allergic to!!  My spices are processed on a separate line using separate equipment to ensure it stays free of allergens!!  I personally process it myself.  Click on the products page for ordering information!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

National Can-It-Forward Day Achievements!!

Today's National Can-It-Forward day brought about a lot of people canning lots of interesting 'goodies'!  My husband, daughter and I started the day off by visiting the State Farmer's Market.  I love going there!  We got some great buys including Mango for $0.75 each!  I bought a dozen and one recipe we made was Mango jam!  It is amazing!  We also picked up lots of peppers; red, green, and jalapeno as well as pickling cucumbers for my daughter (she LOVES pickles!).  $3.00 a basket was a great price this year!!  They usually run for more than that so I bought at least 2 baskets of each!  My husband picked up some peaches just to each (I'm allergic) and we then headed to the commissary to pick up items we couldn't get at the farmer's market.  Bok Choy is often one thing I can't get at the farmer's market at today was no different.  I also needed parsley (my plant has finally died off from last year and the new one hasn't gotten big yet) as well as cilantro.  I need those for recipes for tomorrow.

We then headed for home after stopping for dinner.  As we got home home we set out to prepare our cucumbers from the farmers market and the green tomatoes that I got from the CSA Farmer yesterday.  It was a lot of work but well worth it!  Just look below and you will see our bounty!!  My daughter helped me all night in the kitchen!!  I'm very proud of her!!  I have included the recipes as well!!  As usual these recipes have all been adapted for my allergies!!  I have changed each one, either because I changed the measurements, changed the ingredients, or added to them in some way!  Enjoy!!

Mango Jam

(adapted from Audrey's recipe)
12 medium Mango's peeled, pitted, chopped
2 cups of sugar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 pkg Low Sugar Sure Jell

Place mangos in pot with sugar and lime juice, bring to a simmer.  Once warmed, puree in the pot with an immersion blender and bring to a boil.  Add Low Sugar Sure Jell and whisk and bring back to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars.  Process jars in a water bath for 15 minutes.


Pickled Green Tomatoes with Red & Green Peppers
(adapted from Ball Blue Book)
5 pounds Green tomatoes
3 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt
1/4 cup each of red & green sweet peppers
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped or ¼ cup dill seeds
12 Peppercorns each jar

Wash tomatoes. Core tomatoes and cut in halves or quarters. Combine vinegar, water, salt in large pot. Bring to a boil. Place 1/6 of fresh dill (or 2 tsp seeds) and 12 peppercorns in each jar. Pack tomato pieces into jars and cover with vinegar solution, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process in water bath for 15 minutes at a full boil.

Green Tomato Relish with Red & Green Peppers

5 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped bok choy **
1/4 cup finely chopped green sweet peppers
1/4 cups finely chopped red sweet peppers
1/4 cup pickling salt
Cold water
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 T dill seeds
1/2 T mustard seeds

In a large non-reactive bowl combine tomatoes, bok choy, and sweet peppers. Sprinkle with salt, toss gently to coat. Add enough cold water to cover vegetables. Cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 3 hours. 

Transfer vegetables mixture to a large colander set in sink. Rinse with cold water; drain.
In an 8 quart stainless steel, enamel or nonstick heavy pot combine sugar vinegar, the 1/4 cup water, dill seeds, and mustard seeds. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Add drained vegetables mixture. Return to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Ladle hot relish into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (starting timer when the canner water returns to a full rolling boil).  Remove the jars from canner. Makes 5 half pints. 

** Note: You can use onion here if you like, I'm allergic to onion and as I have posted before, I am all about 'Allium' Free!



Friday, July 13, 2012

National Canning-It-Forward Day!!



Tomorrow, Saturday, June 14th is National Canning-It-Forward day!!  What will you be canning?  I will be doing Green Tomato Relish, pickled Green Tomatoes, and Caponata (an Eggplant Appetizer).  They are great recipes and when I am done I will post my results!!  Don't forget to go to my 'give-a-way' page and sign up!!  Read all the instructions on how to enter!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Updated Tool Page!!

Looking for your next 'investment' kitchen tool?  Here's one you should have!!  A food processor!  I don't know how I have lived all these years without one!!  I just got one this past January and wow!

Food Processor - A MUST for anyone doing lots of canning or cooking.  It is so versatile it is unreal.  I have different blades and attachments for mine and I have a large cup model (11 cups).  I highly recommend Cuisinart!!  You can get all replacement parts online including extra 'cups' to have on hand so you can keep going.  You can also get blade storage compartments so they aren't 'floating around' in your drawers and someone gets cut by them!  You can chop, puree, julienne, slice, and more!!  I even do some doughs in it!  The best thing I do is my home made mayonnaise!!  I can make 3 cups of mayonnaise in it in 10 minutes!!  Awesome!!  It is very much worth the investment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dehydrating food!!

Have you ever wondered about how to dehydrate food?  How on earth do they get all the water out of it?  It's so easy!!  Or better yet, how do they make jerky?  Jerky is so expensive to buy, but so inexpensive to make!!  With all the food allergies that I have (and so many others suffer with), I found that many foods I use to enjoy I was unable to purchase anymore.  I am starting a page on dehydrating!!  Many dehydrated foods contain sulfates/sulfites (discussed last night in allium allergies) or even food colorings.

Why dehydrate food?  Well, to preserve it for one, to make snacks such as fruit roll ups or jerky for another and to be self-sustaining lastly!  If you have an abundance of a food and you don't want it to spoil, it is a good way to keep it from going bad.  There are a few tools you will need to dehydrate food, most importantly a dehydrator.  The least expensive way to get one is at a garage sale, a second hand store or through trades such as Craig's List.  Secondly you can go to an on-line site such as Amazon.com.  You will also need some basic kitchen items such as a cutting board, mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.  Then you're off!  One of the easiest things to make is a fruit leather (aka fruit roll-up!).  I love making strawberry - guava!!  So, so yummy!

Strawberry-Guava Fruit Roll-up

1 container Strawberries, hulled and cleaned
1 small Guava, peeled and chopped
1 tsp lime juice (helps preserve them)

Put in a food processor or blender and puree until liquid.  Place on fruit leather tray of dehydrator tray.  Set temp of dehydrator to140 degrees F.  When it is about 1/2 way dry (about 2 hours though may vary depending on the wattage of your machine) loosen from trays (turn machine off of course!) and you can 'roll' in things like nuts, coconut, etc. if you like (optional!)!  Place back on trays and continue to dry until fully dry.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What is an Allium and could I be allergic?


According to numerous sources on the internet, 'The genus contains hundreds of distinct species; many have been harvested through human history, but only about a dozen are still economically important today as crops or garden vegetables. Many others are cultivated as ornamental plants......Allium is a genus of perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cysteine sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor. Many are used as food plants, though not all members of the genus are equally flavorful. In most cases, both bulb and leaves are edible. Their taste may be strong or weaker, depending on the species.' There are actually over 700 species with 57 genera. Most commonly known species include garlic, onion, leeks, chives, shallots, and ramps. Related to these are flowering lilies! 

Because they have a strong sulfate compound in them, if you are allergic to sulfa compounds you could very well be allergic to alliums! Ask me, I know first hand! Any allium makes me sick as well as sulfites. Whether it is in food or a flower it will make me sick. If you are allergic to sulfites you need to be aware of looking for it hidden in items you may not be aware that it could be in! I found out the hard way! It was in my toothpaste and my shampoo!! Once I eliminated it from those areas as well, things improved. So, what do I use for toothpaste? There are 'natural' products available without them, but they are hard to find! So, good ole' baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for me. I'm still trying to find something commercially available. As for shampoo, I have found one that is free of sulfites, artificial colors, and salacylic acid (aspirin)! It wasn't easy. I'm looking for a good recipe to make my own.

What kind of symptoms could you have if you're allergic?  Everyone is different and it depends on how you are exposed.  Some people have upset stomach, rash, wheezing, shortness of breath or worse including anaphylaxis.  Others could have just mild symptoms including a headache or mild irritation to the scalp (if topically exposed).  The best thing would be to monitor how you feel after eating it and keep a diary to take to your health care provider.  If you have any life-threatening symptoms, call 911 immediately.  It took me weeks to 'clear it' from my system once we figured out what it was and 'heal' my scalp and gut!  Keeping it out of my diet was a whole different issue as garlic and onions are in EVERYTHING!!

Try picking up any bottle of 'sauce' in a grocery store, a bottle of salad dressing, a soup, a broth and see what I mean.  Eating out became a nightmare!!  But, it is possible to eat safely.  Finding restaurants that will work with you is another thing but once you do, let them know you WILL frequent them!  I have three to four restaurants that we go to all the time and we take all our friends there!!  They appreciate the extra business and work with me very closely!!  My two favorites are Red Robin and Harbor Inn Seafood.  Fast Food wise, I can do Wendy's fairly well.  We also go to O'Charley's on a regular basis and the Longhorn Steakhouse near us works with me pretty good.  It's tough but we don't go out all that often anymore.

Lastly, sulfites are found in many other things including wine, some cheeses, some cured meats, certain processed foods including jams & jellies, condiments, certain fish & seafood, gelatins, puddings, grain products & pastas, nuts & nut products, dried fruits, and certain teas.  If you have migraines, you want to avoid these as well as they will make them worse!  So, what's one to do?  Read the labels!!  There is a movement going on about labeling and ensuring that things in our food are clearly identified.  I would suggest that everyone sign the petition to ensure that it's clearly and plainly marked so you know it's there!!  Garlic, onions, and 'alliums' as well as other 'spices' do NOT have to be labeled on anything nor does sulfites!  If it is not in the 'Top 8' allergens it is NOT required to be listed!!  Every Ingredient of Every Food by Change.org is working on changing this.  YOU can help make a difference!!  I hope this helps those of you that didn't understand what 'allium' meant or why many could be allergic to them!!  An allergy is NOT a choice nor is it that we are trying to be 'difficult'.  It can become life-threatening for many of us!  To those family members, friends, restaurants, etc. that want to believe it is a choice, THINK AGAIN!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

National 'Can It Forward Day!'

Ball & Jarden Foods is sponsoring the National 'Can It Forward Day' next Saturday, July 14th!!  I am going to do a give-a-way of a case of canning jars to those that 1. 'Like' me on Facbook  2. Agree to can something to 'share' on Facebook AND 3. Sign up on the Give-a-way page!!  Good luck everyone!!

I will be canning away next weekend!!  I need to do blueberries, more green beans and something else!  Anything else!!  I'll be looking up recipes during the week!  I'm going to try to get some friends over to learn too!

Whipped Shea Butter Body Scrub!!




Now Available!!  Whipped Shea Butter Body Scrub - A whipped version of the sugar scrub. With shea butter, almond and vitamin E oil, and corn starch to exfoliate your skin!  Scented with Eucalyptus Spearmint for a calming effect!! This scrub is oh so smooth and creamy!!   Price for a 4 oz sealed jar is $9.00  See the products page for ordering information!!  This is a must have!!  

Cinnamon Allergy?


If you're allergic to cinnamon what is one to do?  So many recipes call for cinnamon!  Additionally, did you know that cinnamon is in the same family as bay leaves, kiwi, bananas and latex?  They come from the family 'Laurel' and you can 'cross-react' to all of them if you are allergic to one of them!  So, avoid them all so you don't react to any of them.

When I found out I was allergic to cinnamon about 15 years ago, I thought I would die!  I LOVED cinnamon!!  What on earth would I do?  No cinnamon rolls, no apple pie (though I can't have apples any more either!), no sweet potato pie!  Heaven's no!  I set out to find a substitute!  It took many attempts to find the right 'mix' of spices but I finally did it!!  There are some great spices to mix up and you can create your own 'cinnamon flavor' very easily!!  Your first 'expense' in doing this will be a bit costly, but it lasts a good while!

There is a wonderful spice known as Cardamon!!  It comes in two colors but mostly you will be looking for 'Ground Cardamon' from the green pods.  It is quite expensive to buy BUT you use very, very little!!  You will also need allspice and nutmeg.  Here is the mix!!

1/8 tsp Ground Cardamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

This is equivalent to 1 tsp of Cinnamon!!  That is it!!  If you need more, just use the proportions above and you have your 'faux Cinnamon!'  So, so simple and you avoid your allergy altogether!!  Enjoy!!

Shower Scrub Cubes!!

Now available!!


Shower Scrub Cubes - These glycerin shower scrub cubes are full of richness and will leave your body feeling incredible!  Almond and grapeseed oils, sugar, and botanical herbs and flowers.  Scented with citrus and vanilla!!  Oh so yummy!!  Price for four 1/2 oz cubes is $3.00 or 10/$8.00.



Get them now!!  See products page for ordering!!

Give-A-Way

The Give-A-Way is now closed and a winner has been chosen by the Random Number Generator!! Thank you all to those that helped me reach my goal!! I will have another give-a-way soon so stay tuned!! Check the Give-a-way page for the name of the winner!!



On the agenda today is Whipped Shea Butter Body Scrubs and Shower Scrub Cubes in great shapes (picture is just an example)!! I will also be creating a new jam again! I'm working on recipes to enter into the State Fair!  Have a great day everyone!