Posts tagged ‘ingredients’

September 13, 2016

My Grandmother’s Kitchen

I’ve been thinking about my grandmother’s kitchen. My first grandchild is 10 weeks old. He spent the afternoon with me yesterday. For the first time, he didn’t want me to put him down. Other than during a few minutes of tummy time and a walk in the stroller, he fussed every minute he wasn’t asleep unless I carried him around.

I remember being able to do most household tasks with a baby in hand, but it’s been a long time since I used that skill. Nonetheless, we managed to water the plants, fix his bottles, and take clothes out of the dryer without benefit of a baby carrier. I didn’t attempt cooking. We´ll save that for later.

recipe boxMy grandmother never seemed to miss a beat whether or not we were around. She made play dough for us using flour, water, salt, and food coloring and let us use her cookie cutters to cut it into shapes at the kitchen table. If we behaved, she’d offer us an oatmeal cookie or ginger snap from her ever full cookie jar. (Speaking of, we always behaved because when she stomped her foot in irritation, we knew she meant business and stopped all shenanigans immediately.) She made lunch and dinner with us underfoot sending us to the refrigerator to fetch whatever she needed.

When I was 8 or 9, GranGran started teaching me how to cook. I was already reading recipes and baking at home, but my grandmother rarely used recipes. Or at least, she rarely pulled a recipe card out of the box. She may have had them all memorized. Her beef and noodles always tasted the same whether she used a recipe or not.

I loved being in my grandmother´s kitchen and I love reminders of it today. I recently went through the recipes in my mother’s kitchen and found recipe cards in my grandmother´s handwriting. On these cards, there’s no list of ingredients at the top. Instead, they appear as you add them to the mix. It’s like each recipe was dictated by the cook who was making the dish and someone wrote it down. I find this charming.

The recipes are much like my grandmother — simple, to the point, and easy to understand. Here´s one I found:

Porcupine Meatballs (Serves 4)

Mix 1/4 cup Campbell’s tomato soup with 1 lb. ground beef, 1/4 cup uncooked rice, 1 egg (slightly beaten), 1/4 cup minced onion, 2 tbsp minced parsley, 1 tsp salt.

Shape into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Brown in 2 tbsp shortening with one small minced clove garlic in large skillet.

Blend in rest of can of soup and 1 cup water.

Simmer about 40 minutes or until rice is tender stirring now and then.

Now, I can´t vouch for the results of this recipe. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. That pipsqueak of a grandson of mine thinks I should hold him instead.

Perhaps you could try it for me and let me know what you think!

February 8, 2013

Gluten-Free. Back to Basics. Prohibited Foods.

Last night, I was invited to join a going-away dinner for a friend that reminded me how easy gluten-free basics can be.  She wanted to meet at her favorite Italian restaurant.  The menu is not online, so there was no way to prepare in advance for possible ordering options.  Armed with a server card, I went without a back-up plan, trusting that I could find a suitable option. As it turns out, this restaurant offered gluten-free pasta, so ordering was easy.

The simplicity of my interaction with the waitress piqued the interest of the woman to my right.  She asked, “Is it pretty easy to follow that diet?”

My answer was yes.  All I have to avoid are foods containing wheat, rye, barley, malt and their derivatives.  I also avoid oats unless they’re certified gluten-free.  The list of foods I can eat is much longer than the list of foods I cannot.  The only area in which I feel limited is processed food.

Now let’s get to the Gluten-Free. Back to Basics. Prohibited Foods. For those of you who are considering a zero gluten way of living and are wondering what will be prohibited, you must avoid foods listing any of these items on the label:

Barley

Barley Grass

Barley Malt

Beer (there are GF varieties)

Bleached Flour

Bran

Bread Flour

Brewer’s Yeast

Brown Flour

Bulgur Wheat

Cookie Crumbs

Cookie Dough

Couscous

Durum wheat

Edible Coatings

Edible Films

Edible Starch

Enriched Bleached Flour

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour

Enriched Flour

Farina

Farina Graham

Farro

Filler

Flour

Fu

Germ

Graham Flour

Groats

Hard Wheat

Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein

Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch

Kamut

Maida

Malt

Malted Barley Flour

Malted Milk

Malt Extract

Malt Flavoring

Malt Vinegar

Matza

Matzo

Matzo Semolina

Orzo Pasta

Pasta

Pearl Barley

Triticum

Roux

Rusk

Rye

Semolina

Semolina Triticum

Spelt

Sprouted Wheat or Barley

Tabbouleh

Unbleached Flour

Vital Wheat Gluten

Wheat

Wheat Bran Extract

Wheat Germ Extract

Wheat Nuts

Wheat Protein

Whole-Meal Flour

The following items sometimes contain gluten:

Artificial Color

Baking Powder

Boxed Cereals

Broth

Caramel Color

Caramel Flavoring

Clarifying Agents

Coloring

Dextrins

Dextrimaltose

Dry Roasted Nuts

Emulsifiers

Enzymes

Fat Replacer

Flavoring

Food Starch

Food Starch Modified

Glucose Syrup

HPP

HVP

Hydrolyzed Plant Protein

Hydrolyzed Protein

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate

Hydroxypropylated Starch

Maltose

Miso

Modified Food Starch

Modified Starch

Natural Flavoring

Salad Dressing

Natural Flavors

Non-dairy Creamer

Oats

Seasonings

Soba noodles

Soy Sauce

Soup

Stabilizers

Starch

Tomato Paste

Vegetable Gum

Vegetable Starch

Vitamins

Wheat Starch

To fully eliminate gluten from your diet, it is important to review the ingredient list on all foods before you decide to consume them. If you live in the US, you’ll even need to read the ingredients on products that say “Gluten-Free”.  Why?  The FDA has never established a standard for foods to qualify as gluten-free.

When I eliminated gluten from my eating plan, label reading quickly became part of my daily routine. It’s not too time consuming, and it doesn’t take long for it to become a habit.  It’s one of the few simple steps required for gluten-free living. Print out this list, and give it a try!

Server card ad

 

If you want to read more about safe or prohibited items, visit www.celiac.com.

April 30, 2012

The Benefits of Cooking – Part 1: The Food

One of my kids recently asked why we’re called Cooking2Thrive rather than Eating2Thrive? Given how much all of us like to eat, it’s a valid question. Not only that, but say the word cook and lots of folks want to run for the hills ’cause it sounds time consuming and difficult so why would we want that in our name?

Since the question has been posed, I’m going to answer it with a series I’ll call The Benefits of Cooking.

So here goes – The Benefits of Cooking – Part 1

The Food

I like to focus on rewards, and one of the rewards of cooking is having great tasting food to eat. When I say cooking, I am referring to the act of preparing food using basic ingredients like meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, rice, polenta, honey, herbs, spices, milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you grew up eating home-cooked meals, your mouth may start watering just thinking about Sunday dinner. It’s hard to argue that food made from fresh ingredients does not taste better than food that has been processed to stay consistent in appearance through weeks or months of transportation and shelf-life.

I grew up helping my grandmother in the garden. Every time I see a pale, hard, overly trucked tomato in the grocery store, I cringe as my memory plays the contrasting picture of a soft, dark red, full flavored tomato just plucked from the vine. You know, the kind that sends juice running down your chin when you take a bite! It’s the sort of memory that has many of us attempting to grow tomatoes on the porch when we don’t have a yard. I still miss my grandmother’s tomato juice canned in glass and sitting on a shelf in the basement. That tomato juice started with those vine-ripened tomatoes and ended up as a critical ingredient in my grandmother’s chili or sometimes disappeared as I gulped it thick and sweet from a glass when it was chilled.

tomatoes

The juiciness of a strawberry, the brightness of a sugar snap pea, the crispness of a golden delicious apple with tender skin – all are better when ripened before picking and prepared fresh. As a child, some of my favorite dishes were corn-on-the-cob, fried okra, baked sweet potatoes, green rice, and beef & noodles. Oh, and don’t forget the lemon meringue pie. I requested it for every birthday. My sister preferred cherry pie made with bing cherries from a tree in the yard. One year my mother discovered a fresh peach pie recipe. We bought local peaches in season, peeled them, sliced them, and placed them in a sweetened gelatin atop her flaky piecrust. Topped with whipped cream, this cold pie showcased the uncooked peaches perfectly.

These days I’m quite fond of boneless skinless chicken thighs seasoned with jerk spices, seared in coconut oil, and baked in a cast iron skillet with a little chicken broth, curried pork chops and polenta, mashed butternut squash, roasted cauliflower with a hint of crushed red pepper, steamed sugar snap peas, and my own version of my grandmother’s chili. Since cooking is the easiest way to consume my favorites often, I’m happy to spend some time in the kitchen.

Not only does freshly prepared food taste better, it makes it easier to avoid flavor enhancing chemicals, high sodium content, preservatives, and excess sugars. Even if you’re a great label reader, when you purchase processed food products, you may be consuming chemicals that are not required to be listed or specified on the label. Obviously, most of these won’t kill you on the spot or people would be dropping like flies, so there’s no need to be alarmist and say never ever buy prepared convenience foods from the store or eat what a friend is serving at a party, but it is naive to believe that these chemicals do not alter your body chemistry or affect your brain’s response to food.

And it may not take a large amount of an additive to change how you feel. A study cited in the April 2010 “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” reported that runners who rinsed their mouths with a carbohydrate solution right before and every 15 minutes during an hour-long treadmill session ran faster and further than those who rinsed with a placebo. The brain senses incoming energy “which may lower the perceived effort,” says Ian Rollo, PH.D. one of the study’s authors.1 Since it appears that a little dab will do it, here in a nation with increasing amounts of chronic disease, more studies of the potential negative effects of chemicals in our diet on long-term health are direly needed. In the meantime, it is up to you to decide how much risk you’re willing to take.

Cooking from fresh ingredients is also the easiest way to avoid allergens, gluten, and lactose or limit sodium, sugar, and starchy carbs. Of course, just because you cook the food doesn’t mean these items will magically be absent, but it does mean you have control over what’s included and it can eliminate the effort of reading and rereading labels.

If the word cooking scares you, remember that many fresh ingredients require little or no enhancement. Zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, lettuce, arugula, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, bell peppers, avocados, radishes, and snow peas for instance can be eaten with just a tiny sprinkle of salt or nothing at all. Fruit may only require peeling.

Even if you purchase water-packed tuna or smoked brisket from a BBQ restaurant and only “cook” a salad to go with it, you can add a tremendous amount of fresh flavor and nutrients to your diet. If that leads you to explore new combinations of flavors and preparations, then you’ll have captured the essence of being a cook. A little curiosity, a bit of practice, and a willingness to sometimes throw the whole thing in the trash are where most great cooks start.

And we all have near disasters or major failures along the way. Most of us burn ourselves, catch a dishtowel on fire, cover the floor in flour, burn cookies, leave out the baking powder, or put too much salt in something from time to time. Often it is from those failures that we learn the most.

I’m going to let this conclude Part 1. As you can see, the benefits of cooking include: Great tasting food and easy elimination of chemicals, allergens, inflammatory foods and lots of label reading. But wait, there’s more! Next up: The Benefits of Cooking – Part 2: The Fun. If you think I’ve forgotten about baking, think again. This is a series, remember, we’ll get to that in a bit.

You’ll find the rest of the series right here at Cooking2Thrive. Look forward to having you back!

Sincerely,
Cheri

1 Rollo, Ian, Matthew Cole, Richard Miller, and Clyde Williams. “Influence of Mouth Rinsing a Carbohydrate Solution on 1-h Running Performance.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2010 – Volume 42 – Issue 4 – Pp 798-804. American College of Sports Medicine, Apr. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2012..