Sunday, 17 July 2011

Ryvita 3 Ways

I have been a big fan of Ryvita for many years, especially the multi-grain variety.  We like them with peanut butter, humus, or dhal, but you can do more with them.  These ideas would work with other crispbreads as well.

Toasted Cheese

Sprinkle with shredded or sliced cheese and place in a hot oven/grill. 
Watch carefully.  They only take about 5 minutes and can burn quickly.

You can add slices of tomato, onion, avocado...before or after cooking.


You will need tomato paste and a cheese of your choice.  Salt, pepper, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes are optional.  Assemble your pizzas and cook as above.  If you take the pizzas out while the cheese is melted and the crackers are soft, you can cut them, cool them down and put them in a lunchbox.  But we prefer them hot.

Ryvita with Satay Chicken

I often cheat by using some plain peanut butter with leftover spicy roast chicken.  Simply spread your peanut butter or some satay sauce on the cracker.  Add strips of cooked chicken.  If you have time (which I usually don't) you can add a bit of something fresh and green like shredded lettuce, herbs, or green onion.

I am not including a proper recipe for satay sauce here.  There are plenty on  I sometimes make a quick one by placing half a cup of peanut butter, a spoon of a natural brown sugar, and a splash of rice wine vinegar in a pan.  Melt carefully.  Thin with water if necessary and whisk to a smooth sauce.  Remove from the heat and add a splash of soy sauce.  Whisk smooth again.  Serve as above or with a fresh salad and cold roast chicken.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Recipes Using Soaked Grains

Here are my attempts at some "soaked grains" recipes found in the Nourshing Traditions Cookbook, a few other sources, and recipes I have adapted myself.

Soaked Pancakes

Soaked Pancakes

This is my first attempt at soaking flour (if you don't count my disastrous first attempts at making a sourdough starter). 

You will need:

2 cups whole wheat, spelt or kamut flour (preferably freshly ground--mine wasn't)
2 cups yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, (or water mixed with 2 tbsp whey, vinegar, or lemon juice)--I used organic yoghurt

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt (preferably unrefined)
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
2 tbsp melted butter

1.  On the first day, stir the flour with your chosen soaking liquid in a large bowl.  Place this in a warm place for 12-24 hours.  (I used plastic wrap over it and placed it in a warm kitchen for about 18 hours). 

2.  When you are ready to cook, mix the rest of the ingredients in.  You can thin the mix with water if necessary.  Cook in a hot frying pan.  Serve with maple syrup, butter and or jam.

My son and I make pancakes most weekends and so he was very excited to hear that we were having them this morning.  That is until he was given the bowl of soaked flour, which had become a bit smelly according to him.  He was no longer enthusiastic and asked if we could make regular pancakes instead.  I told him we could after we finish this batch.  He did help with some of the stirring despite his misgivings. 

Fortunately, he enjoyed the finished pancakes which had a bit more flavour than our usual plain recipe.  We actually add spices most of the time and I might try that next time.  I think the only disadvantages I can think of are the expense of the yoghurt and having to remember to prepare the flour the day before (which isn't arduous).  I plan to use buttermilk leftover from our butter-making when I get around to the butter-making.  Otherwise, water with a bit of vinegar seems a really cheap alternative to organic yoghurt, or when we have run out.

Disclaimer (or I am just an average consumer)

I would like to say that I am just an average mother, worker, woman, consumer.  I have a bachelor's degree, but not in nutrition, finance or art.  And so I am making my decisions based on the little I know, a bit I read, with a dose of practicality mixed in.  This blog is about my experiences and contains only occasional research. 

Do we need to soak our grains or not?

I bet most people reading this will never have heard of soaking your grains anyway.  Apparently many traditional societies worldwide soaked most of their grains, beans, nuts, and some seeds to make them easier to digest and more nutritious by releasing good nutrients.  In some books, plain water is enough, while other folks advocate using yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, or water with lemon or vinegar added.  These products help to start breaking down the difficult-to-digest products.  This makes it easier for you to get the good stuff before it passes through your system.  With all of the new fangle food allergies out there I think that this is worth a look.  If you would like to read more about this you can check out more information on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. 

But there are many people, including "experts" who believe that soaking your grains, etc is unnecessary.  The reasons are that a.  soaking is not enough to get rid of the bad stuff (the one most often cited is called phytic acid) and that only true fermenting will do this, b.  that we get enough nutrients in our diet and so we don't need to free the nutrients from grains (which makes me wonder why we need to eat them if we aren't getting much from them), c. some critics claim that the people who advocate soaking do not have scientific proof of the benefits, and finally d.  there are critics who don't say much of anything substantial at all.  If you would like to read more about this debate check out NutritionDiva and Kitchen Stewardship to get you started.

I think that with all of these diets the average reader gets bombarded with sciencey sounding words.  And if you don't have a very thorough education in this kind of stuff (as I don't), then you can either be won over or left confused (which I am).   But if you have more than a passing interest in trying to get the best nutrition into your family you have to make a decision.  I don't have too much time on my hands (I am actually typing one handed while trying to calm a fussy baby), and so I will take a leap of faith here.  I am trying out a few recipes from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook.  I am not sure what I am looking for in terms of results, but here I go.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Making the Switch to Whole Foods?

I have been interested in making the switch to whole foods since I read Sugar Blues by William Dufty nearly twenty years ago.  Interested, tried a few times, failed a whole lot, and for the most part felt bad about my diet ever since! 

I have a sweet tooth.  And although I have spent a few years avoiding refined sugars, it has never been a permanent change.  And I suspect it might not ever happen.  I guess I just couldn't imagine not eating wedding cake at my own wedding.  And although I would love to give my children a very healthy diet, I don't want them to go completely berserk at a birthday party at their first taste of refined sugar or, God forbid, sweeteners!

I have been inspired by the Nourishing Traditions way of eating because it might help explain why I did not necessarily enjoy improved health during my ten years as a vegetarian.  The key elements I am taking away from my reading, and introducing into my home are:
  • Whole Foods contain nutrients which are stripped away during processing.  And so I am purchasing unrefined salt, unrefined sugars, and unrefined oils as much as possible.
  • Some whole foods, such as grains, nuts and seeds are not easily digested by humans and therefore require processing.  By processing I do not mean heat and industrial conveyor belts, but fermenting, soaking, and sprouting.  These are time consuming activities, but possibly worth it?
  • You will be hungry until you provide your body with the nutrients it needs.  By eating properly, cravings for sweets and the like diminish naturally. 
Having said all of that, I need to take things slowly.  After reading about the shocking things I am doing to my body by eating too much junk, it is easy to become fanatical, like one who has found a new religion.  But it is not that easy to change from convenience foods to cooking everything--including ketchup--from scratch. 

And so I am working my way through my pantry.  Using up what I have, replacing with whole foods options, and simply not buying the more processed products.  I am not entirely sure where this journey will take me.  We will see how I get on.  And how the family gets on as well!

Vanilla Ice Cream

I purchased cream to make some homemade butter, but decided to make some nice organic ice cream instead.  My son and I had a blast and we know more or less where the ingredients came from.  I would love to try it with raw milk in the Nourishing Traditions style, but we do not have access to it where I live.

You will need:

4 cups whole milk (I used non-homogenized milk)
1-1.5 cups demerara or raw sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups cream

1.  Stir the milk, sugar and vanilla together until the vanilla dissolves.
2.  Stir in the cream and combine well. (I used an immersion blender)
3.  Either pour this mixture into your ice cream maker, or pour into a tub and place in the freezer.  If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can stir the mixture a few times over the next few hours to help make the ice cream creamier.   Otherwise your ice cream will be icy---but still delicious!

I find that this recipe is very rich and you only need a small bowlful at a time--probably a good thing considering the sugar content.


I put my next batch in individual jelly pots with lids to make serving both fun and easy.  You could use any small containers with lids.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss

?This was my hands down favourite when I was a kid.  I have now introduced my worn copy (with the front cover missing) to my four-year old and he is also having fun exploring the pages.  There is a certain magic about Dr. Seuss books, but this one in particular has great illustrations which you can literally explore for ages--as my son proves every time I try to read it to him. 

In addition to the usual rhymes, there is always a moral to the story.  In this one, a young man meets a wise old man in the desert, who tells him about all sorts of weird and wonderful---and unfortunate creatures that have a much more difficult time of it. 

I will say that this age and older are probably a more suitable audience for the book.  I tried to share it with him a few times in the past, and although there are a lot of fun rhymes, he just wasn't into it a couple of years ago.