Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Milk alternatives

Being milk-free is a huge pain in the butt.  As with wheat and corn, it is in absolutely EVERYTHING!  Luckily I seem to be okay with it in small amounts cooked into food, but as I don't know for certain where Squish's threshold is, it's better for me to just avoid it.  I've been drinking soy milk since the early days of my pregnancy (regularly dairy milk gave me horrible acid stomach...I should have known right then and there!)  When I started researching healthy foods in preparation for my 100 days of real food challenge, I discovered some really disturbing articles concerning the dangers of too much soy and decided to switch  to something else.  Because rashes from consuming coconut are only so much fun for me, I decided to go the way of almond milk.  While it has fewer grams of protein per 1 cup serving, it does have more nutrients than rice milk, and the taste is much more palatable to me than hemp or oat milk.  The stores in my area do carry it, but at an exorbitant price, and it's not always easy to get out to the store when you have kids.

Plus, did you know--it's actually VERY simple to make your own almond milk?

Soak the almonds overnight in just enough water to cover (or at least 8 hours if you don't want to wait that long.)  Discard the water and rinse.

Fill a blender with water (3 - 4 cups should do) and then add the almonds.  Blend on high until smooth.

Yummy yummy...

It's okay if I drink it straight from the pitcher, right?
 Get a medium bowl (or an 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup!) and put a cotton towel in it.  Pour the almond mixture into the bowl, then carefully strain the almond meal out of it.  You can keep the almond meal for use in baking (spread it out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden), find a friend who loves it, or discard it.  I don't have pictures of that part because I am silly and assumed that cheesecloth would work just fine.  It didn't.  Don't use cheesecloth or you will be sad like me and wind up with no almond meal after!

Store the almond milk in a quart-size mason jar in your fridge and enjoy!  You can flavor it (vanilla, chocolate, honey, whatever!) or leave it plain.  It does separate between uses, so make sure to shake it well before pouring it on cereal, using it in baking, or drinking it plain.  I started out with just straight almond milk over Rice Chex (amazing!!!!), then in a cup with a little bit of honey (also amazing!!!!)  I gave some to my son, too...I think he approves.

That's love right there!!
Almond Milk
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 4 cups water
  • honey or maple syrup
1) Cover almonds with water and soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.  Drain.
2) Put 4 cups of water in the blender; add almonds and sweetener (I wouldn't add more than a tablespoon; you really don't need much.)  Blend on high for a few minutes.
3) Put a thin cotton tea towel over a bowl and strain out the almond meal.  Set meal aside.
4) Pour almond milk into two 1/2-qt jars and seal.  Milk separates between use, so shake well.
5) Roast almond meal on a baking sheet at 350 for approximately 15 minutes.  Let cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Freggies: a whole food challenge (and a recipe!)

One of the challenges of eating around all of my "no" foods is how much it forces me to cook from scratch.  I don't get to be lazy and just order out pizza because even if it is wheat-free, it is most likely not corn-free.  Prepackaged approved foods are few and far between, and often hellishly expensive.  The ones that aren't are filled with all sorts of nasties like silicon dioxide (glass!!) and preservatives.  I'm pretty sure that something that has enough chemicals to last fifty years on a store shelf shouldn't get put into my belly.

A friend of mine recently challenged us to do 100 days of real food with her starting January 1.  I'm looking forward to it because I feel like I should cut out more of the processed stuff I do eat out of my diet.  Like, I don't really need that cane sugar soda...or the corn- and GF chips...or the ice cream that hurts my stomach anyway....

One of the suggestions that Lisa, the blogger from 100 Days, recommends is starting off with "mini challenges."  She has posted 14 weeks (98 days) of ideas to make your eating habits healthier.  I decided to do one challenge a week until the new year, and this week's was incorporating at least 2 fruits and/or vegetables into each meal you eat.  So far I have been doing pretty well, especially considering that I usually get maybe 2 servings a day.  I know, bad...especially since I have kids and should be a better role model.  I'm hoping that this challenge will help me to eat more "freggies" than my sad little produce drawer used to boast.

I started on Tuesday and did pretty well the first day, but yesterday was kind of awful.  I let myself get into one of those "I just don't care" moods.  I even cheated and stole a French fry off of my sweet overworked DH's plate (they are coated in corn starch, one of my non-Liz-friendly foods.)

I did much better today--I started out with a bowl of cereal and an apple, and then finished it off with a cup of "peach milkshake" (non-dairy milk with frozen peaches grown by a family friend.)  Lunch was lamb stew with a TON of veggies.  I am not sure what dinner will be yet (it might be leftovers, YUM!)

I don't make up recipes very often (it's something I'm trying to get into, what with the food blog and all!) but I thought the stew came out pretty awesome.  It was inspired by the soup I ate the other day at our local co-op grocery store.  I'm still salivating over that stew.

Get your ingredients together.  Enjoy the colors!!

Saute the onions and garlic in EVOO until the onions are just starting to become translucent.  Add your meat.

Add the remaining veggies and sautee for 5 minutes.  Add broth, beans, spices, and starch, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Try not to eat it all in one sitting.  DH is going away with a friend for the weekend, I'm pretty sure I'm going to live off this stuff.  This, and the GF farmhouse bread I bought the other day.  Oh yeahhhh.

Lamb Stew
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 lb. lamb or other red meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot(s), sliced into medallions
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and sliced into medallions
  • 1 qt vegetable broth
  • 1 can (or 1 1/2 cups dried, prepped) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 - 1 tsp black pepper (I like my soups spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp potato or other starch
1) In a medium-size pot, saute onion and garlic in EVOO until the onion is almost translucent.  Add lamb (or other red meat) and brown.
2) Add remaining veggies.  Cook to your desired tenderness.  I prefer my carrots to still have crunch to them, so this was about 3 minutes.
3) Add broth, beans, spices, and starch.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Makes six 1-1/2 cup servings.