PART 1 of 2: Is juice healthy, even if it's 100% fruit? Hypothesis: no.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

So occasionally the boy really likes to do science experiments. He understands the states of matter, the three things it takes to make fire (air, heat, combustible for those of you who forget) and it inspired me to do my own experiment.

My friend Alyson at Proud to be a Fit Mom recently asked me if juice was bad, and why. I couldn't answer her so I did some research and an experiment.

Hypothesis: juice is a poor choice because you drink WAY more juice than you would ever eat of the actual fruits it came from...and probably other reasons as-yet-unknown to me. Let's see...

Here are the glasses available in my house (well, the main ones we use, anyway):

Big, medium and small

Big dude

Wide-mouth short dude

Small dude

Big dude comfortably holds 1 1/3 cups (comfortably meaning you wouldn't spill it walking to the table with it)

Middle dude (as this is reminiscent of the three bears, I will call him "momma bear") can hold 1 cup comfortably

And in that same vein, "baby bear" comfortably holds between 1/2 and 2/3 cup.

 This is a gorgeous organic orange that was super ripe and it produced between 1/3 and 1/2 cup orange juice. You will note that the pulp is sitting there...useless...when you simply juice it...more on that shortly.

Let's first discuss simple volume....If one orange produces roughly 3oz of juice, and you have the poppa bear of juice above, you'd be drinking the rough equivalent of 3 oranges. When the heck is the last time you sat down and ate 3 oranges? Ridiculous. 

Now...let's look at the nutritional information of one large orange (assuming you peeled it and ate it) vs. the nutritional info of the "cadillac" not-from-concentrate (NFC) bottled juice, and the average fast-food version:
Vitamin C
1 orange (which when squeezed, makes 3 oz OJ)
3 oz regular NFC 
Regular serving size NFC in our house
Regular fast-food serving size (FC) (440mL)
Regular bottle of NFC (500mL)

Wow. I'm shocked. All this time I've excused 100% juice as "okay" without considering the volume, because it had "no added sugar" in it. Keep in mind, that although I'm guilty of sending a juice box for the boy in his lunch, any juice I pour for the kids is always 1/2 water, and I only drink juice maybe 1 time per week, but still, I had no idea.

When you consume that amount of fructose, without the fiber, iron and all the other lovelies that the factory threw out once it had squashed the LIFE out of the fruit, there's nothing to ease the instant sugar rush. Where does that go? Right into the blood stream, big sugar rush, big insulin spike, then you feel low, and store that additional sugar as...(drum roll please!!!) fat. Yep, that's right: I said FAT. Even if you're not overweight, that rise and crash really stresses the pancreas which produces all the insulin you need to counteract all that sugar. That's why it gets tired and closes up shop in more and more folks nowadays; the result is a little thing called Type 2 diabetes.

For more on the process of how the body turns fructose into fat, watch this video. Yes. It's long...I know. But it's worth it.

Part 2- Pasteurized vs Raw

Now. Pasteurization. The granola munchers (of which I have a part-time membership) are always going on about enzymes. When you cook food (as you do when you pasteurize juice for an extended shelf life), you apparently not only kill the vitamins and minerals, but the enzymes too. What the heck is an enzyme and why does it matter? Part 2 of 2 to follow...hopefully tomorrow but don't quote me on that. :)

Meanwhile, what did I do with that juice from this morning? I put the pulp, the juice and some ice into the blender. The result? Frothy, icy, heavenly, with bright flavour and rich sunshine in a glass. Don't believe me? Try it; peel an orange, drop it in the blender with 3 ice cubes and give it a wazz. You'll love it. 


Recipe: samosas and spicy mango chutney (gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Update March 26, 2011- Hello! Are you visiting for the first time from Angela's blog at Thanks for coming by!! Lovely to have you over. :) Hope you enjoy my blog. Sign up for updates if it looks like we're on the same journey.
ps- I love comments...bring 'em on. :)

Sweet mother of mercy, if you were here, you would have to peel me off the ceiling. It's funny, when you ditch gluten and dairy, you start to forget about the delectable wheaty things you once ate instead focusing on boring things like bread and crackers. But OH, Mr. Samosa. How I adore you! How I've missed you.

I've spoken before about letting an ingredient be your inspiration. Today, it was fresh peas. I got a huge bag and spent a half hour this morning sitting at the counter shucking them. So at first I was thinking green pea soup of some kind, but I started researching and found aloo matar (potatoes and green peas) at Honey, What's Cooking? and thought it would make the perfect filling for samosas. But how does one make samosas without wheat flour? You go to The Book of Yum here and completely blow your mind with awesome step-by-step instructions. THEN your husband forgets the mango chutney (which is made with white sugar and is sickly sweet anyways) so you make your own ROCKIN' version and you sit, in seventh heaven, wondering how you've survived so long without samosas and mango chutney.

Okay, so let's get started. First thing's first- you have to make the filling for your samosas. In true Dropsie fashion I used the aloo matar recipe above and made it my own. Here's the deal.

Wait- just one thing: this takes a lot of time. I would suggest doubling the recipe to get more bang for your buck. Just in case you were contemplating skipping this recipe because it was too labour-intensive to make, I'd like you to see this:
Stop drooling and get your apron...

Part 1- make the filling
Aloo matar (filling for samosas)

Splash of grapeseed oil (or olive oil if that's what's on hand)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 cloves chopped garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 small potato
1 large sweet potato
1 1/2 c fresh green peas
1 cup water
2 TB unsweetened, unsulphured coconut flakes
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
(recipe also called for fresh cilantro, but I didn't have it)


  1. Using a small chopper (or a big knife and a lot of wrist action) chop the garlic, ginger and onion).
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot on the stove (medium heat). Add cumin and mustard seeds- keep a lid nearby. 
  3. Once they start to pop (yes the mustard seeds will literally jump out of the pot) add the turmeric and give it a stir.
  4. Quickly dump in the garlic/ginger/onion mix (I ground mine until oatmeal-like in texture) and stir. Add a sprinkle of salt. Not much needed so don't go nuts.
  5. Saute on med-low for 6-8 minutes until the mixture dries out a bit. It should look like dried out cooked oatmeal at this point.
  6. Dice and add the tomato.
  7. Simmer for about 8 minutes until the tomato is totally dissolved and mixed into a "paste-like" texture.
  8. While it's simmering, peel and chop the potato and sweet potato. Add those once the tomato is well incorporated in the above step. Add the peas also and the water. Simmer until the potato/sweet potato are starting to be very soft.
  9. Add the garam masala, stir and turn the heat off. 
  10. Let cool completely.

Important!!! Try not to eat all the yummy filling before you get to the samosas...

Okay, now you're ready to make the dough.

Part 2- Make the dough
Again, inspired by The Book of Yum.

To your food processor, add the following:

1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/6 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup teff flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

Blend it up well then add the following, ingredient at a time, little by little:

3 TB Earth's balance shortening
3 TB Earth's balance soy-free vegan margarine
7 TB warm water

Important: This is what it took me to get a texture like wet sand when I tried to make a ball out of it. You may take more or less water or fat to get it that way, so add little by little.

You should be able to make a ball easily out of this. Now you've gotta clear yourself a spot and get ready to roll...literally.

  1. Get a sheet pan and cover it with parchment paper. Get your filling ready and a small spoon to scoop it into the batter when ready.
  2. Now...divide your batter up into 6 balls. 
  3. Get two sheets of parchment paper ready.
  4. Put one dough ball between the sheets of parchment paper and roll it out. If you don't have a rolling pin, try a wine bottle. Works very well.
  5. When it's about the width of a small tortilla, gently peel back the top sheet and pick up the bottom sheet with your non-dominant hand. You should cradle the sheet thus making the dough that's stuck to it look like a taco. 
  6. Drop 3-4 TB of filling along the inside of the dough, then, using both hands, fold the paper and push the sides of the samosa together. It's going to look like a half-moon. 
  7. Once you've done your best at smoothing and pinching the sides together, gently roll it off of the paper into your dominant hand and lay it on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. If you're really freaked out about moving it, just keep the samosa on the parchment and put it right on the cookie sheet. Otherwise, you can re-use the two original sheets for each of the 6 samosas.

Once you're done filling, it's time to bake them. They go in at 375 for about 25 minutes, flipping them after 20 minutes. The easiest way to flip them is using a spatula and lifting the curved side and flipping them over the straight side.

Now, when your husband forgets the mango chutney that you will dip your luscious samosas in, you need to bust out all your baking/cooking stuff one last time (he totally has to clean up all your mess for forgetting).

Step 3- Make the spicy mango chutney (and do it without any refined sugars for total rock star status)

Bring the following to a boil, then simmer until the fruit is soft:
1 large mango, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (that will make your house smell like stinky feet while cooking)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice syrup

Grab your immersion blender (or pour into your regular blender) and give it a wazz. Leave chunks; it's not supposed to be soupy.

Return it to the stove and add the following:
a generous squirt of honey (think 2-3 times around the pot quickly...I dunno, a few TB)
1/2 TB lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Turn the heat back up and get it really bubbling while you stir it around with a spatula. It should get really gloppy and gooey. Now you're rockin'. Turn the heat off and spoon it into a spare glass jar. This recipe made about 1 cup of chutney. I would almost suggest doubling it now that I know how much it rocks. It is ridiculous. Really.

I know some of you will look at this and think "No way, too much work", but I ASSURE you I am no culinary genius and I managed to get this together in fits and spurts throughout the day. I made the curry this morning I (right after lunch) and before dinner I did up the pastry part and the chutney. It is SOOOO worth it.

We had this with a gorgeous's the sum total of how the plate looked...
...getting hungry again... ;)

Penne with spicy puttanesca and vegan parmesan (gluten free, vegan)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update April 6, 2011- Hello! Are you visiting for the first time from Angela's blog at Thanks for coming by!! Lovely to have you over. :) Hope you enjoy my blog. Sign up for updates if it looks like we're on the same journey.

ps- I love comments...bring 'em on. :)

I'm such a nerd that I stopped eating, transferred the remainder of my lunch to a clean plate and took a picture (or 16) so that I could show you just how good this was. YUMMMY.

Penne with spicy puttanesca sauce
a few handfuls of brown rice penne (gluten free)
1 TB grapeseed oil
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pepper to taste
1 tsp chili flakes [EDIT- 1/4 tsp- not 1 tsp unless you really love the heat]
1-2 tsp capers
1/2-3/4c of bottled organic pasta sauce (I know- I totally CHEATED!!) :)
a few handfuls of organic baby spinach

Cook penne till al-dente and rinse in cold water. Add grapeseed oil, mushrooms, garlic powder and pepper to a frying pan and saute mushrooms for 3-4 minutes on med heat. Once you see the slightest hint of browning, add the chili flakes, capers and pasta sauce. Stir and heat through thoroughly. Add in the pasta, the spinach, turn off the heat and stir until the spinach is heated and the noodles are warm.

Optional: top with raw vegan mock Parmesan cheese

Mr. Pick-it-up is NOT a big fan of pasta and red sauce so I make what I want on afternoons where I'm JUST cooking for me (wee one is upstairs...NOT sleeping...I'm totally going to pay for that when I have to clean up the mess she's making in her room).

Sweet mother of pearl...tell me you don't want to eat that????

I ended up using this primavera sauce from PC Organics. It is a bit sweet for my liking (though it contains no added sugar like so many others) but the capers balanced that nicely.

This is Parma-Veg. It is raw, vegan, and made in Quebec, Canada from nuts, nutritional yeast, kale, salt...and it tastes delicious on top of dishes like this one. YUMMERS.

This probably took about 15 minutes to assemble. What do you put in YOUR quick pasta dishes?


Pumpkin pie smoothie- dessert in a glass

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SO YUM. I'd like to shout out to Angela over at Oh She Glows for this recipe and for Marisa- her faithful follower and my friend who introduced me to Angela's blog and to this recipe. AH-MA-ZING.
I wish I had more to show you but I couldn't resist and sucked it back faster than you could say YUMMMYYYYY.

In true Dropsie fashion, though I pledged otherwise, I ended up altering Angela's recipe just slightly as she calls for vanilla protein powder and I usually add seeds of some kind. Here's what I put in:

1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp blackstrap molasses (unsulfured organic)
1 cup unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 TB shredded flax seed
2 large ice cubes

Start with the almond milk and the flax in the blender until the flax is really ground up (I ended up chucking mine in last and didn't grind it enough) then add the rest.

Serves 1 very happy recipient.

Nutritional highlights (amounts reflect % of recommended daily intake for quantities used):

  • Pumpkin has 300% vitamin A, 9% iron, 14% fiber, also significant amounts of vitamin K, manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C
  • flax has about 4% iron, 14% fiber, and is high in omega 3 (ALA) 
  • almond milk has 25% vitamin D and 30% riboflavin
  • molasses has 2% iron
  • cinnamon has 22% of manganese, 2% of iron
  • ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are all strongly anti-inflammatory


Homemade chicken and vegetable soup (gluten free, dairy free, mostly organic and cheap to make!!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

This recipe probably could have fed 6-8 people, and I would say it probably cost me somewhere between 10-15$ to make. Take note- not every organic meal HAS to be costly.

It was looking like this outside:

So I really craved this:

Homemade chicken and vegetable soup (gluten free, dairy free, mostly organic and cheap to make!!)

For the broth- put the following ingredients into a big pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes:
3 organic chicken drumsticks (whether they're fresh or frozen will affect your simmering time)
leafy ends of celery (the stuff you'd usually throw out- don't!!)
1/2 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 TB basil
1/2 TB oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp sea salt
generous sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper
4 cups water
At this point, it looks like this:
While that's simmering, get chopping. Pull out whatever veggies you have and chop them into tiny pieces.
By the time it's ready, it's looking like this: the chicken is starting to fall off the bone and you can see there is fat on the surface of the broth. This is what gives the soup its flavour and richness. Don't fear the fat. It's in the soup-and the chicken-for a reason...

Once that's simmered, you should either skim out the "stuff" or drain it. DON'T DRAIN OUT THE BROTH. :) You want to keep that. ;)

Everything in the pot except the chicken can be discarded (or eaten, if you can't wait). :) Once the chicken drumsticks are cool, pull off all the meat and chop it into tiny pieces. Set it aside- you only add it at the end.

Now you have your pot back on the stove with only the broth in it. Time to add:
2 1/2 cups of chopped veggies (carrots, celery, green beans and red/green peppers- whatever you your fridge)
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 cups water 
enough organic chicken stock to go with the 2 cups of water (my cubes dissolve into 2 cups of water)

Bring to boil then simmer on low until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Turn off the burner, add the following then put the lid on:
1 cup tiny pasta (I used these cute little quinoa "o's")
the chopped chicken.

It'll probably take 10-15 minutes before the noodles are soft. While they're softening, the soup is cooling and you're getting ready to eat. Serve this with a salad, maybe some gluten free garlic bread, and you can feed a ton of people for probably less than 20$!!

Hope you like it!!
Kitchen tip: the spices, veggies, pasta choices all came about from searching my fridge, pantry and spice cupboard. Don't be shy to make it even if you don't have all the ingredients- this is so versatile it can have just about anything in it. :)


Accidental gluten ingestion

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Well, it seems as though I've experienced my first accidental "glutening". I went to a restaurant (buffet style) and try as I might, I did not succeed in avoiding gluten. I may have been hooped by the salad dressing, or some eejit who put the pasta salad spoon on the greens, but in the end, it got me. The symptoms were very much like "the great cracker incident" where following my inconclusive intestinal biopsy, I got cocky and decided to try eating a cracker just to see what happened. I fondly remember that time as "crackergate". Perhaps "fondly" is too strong a word. I digress. So approximately 24hrs after my meal I began the eye-splitting phase where I succumbed gradually to the effects of a catastrophic migraine. After another few hours the phase involving new and surprising gastrointestinal delights soon followed (in case you are wondering, I am currently donning my 'sarcasm suit'). With that phase seemingly on its way out (frankly, I cannot understand how it could possibly still be happening other that the fact that I am now tapping into my supply of spinal fluid to enable it) I am now firmly ensconced in "the fog". This is the place where I appear to be awake and functioning, but am actually experiencing significant trouble stringing thoughts together and I mostly just appear to those around me to be an ignoramus who simply cannot be bothered to engage in any semblance of meaningful conversation. Frankly, I'm surprised I've even been able to string these sentences together but I think it can only be explained by the singular nature of my focus: I am sitting in a dark room with no noise or any other distractions. Put me in a room with children screaming and running in circles however and you'll quickly see me change into something with the mental capacity of cream cheese.

I do hope it passes rather quickly. Meanwhile I'll do my best to avoid most people and hope they somehow fail to notice the glazed look in my eye or the faint rumble of musical delights currently coming from my small intestine.

The Bitter Truth About Sugar- watch the video

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So, this weekend, I have done the amount of chopping, cooking and prepping that I usually do in a week. I'm kinda fried, to be honest. I have a lot of recipes in my noodle, but unfortunately, I am going to take a few more days to sort out exactly which worked, and which didn't!

Hope everyone is well, and I'll leave you with this. I believe that this is a med school lecture given by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the division of Endocrinology. It's long...I get that...but if you can square away an hour and a half to watch it (think of it as movie night!!) you'll be very glad you did...

This video debunks the myths that:
1) eating fat causes fat;
2) eating fat causes heart disease;
3) that if you eat it, you better burn it or you're gonna store it (as fat)- MYTH!!
and proves the following:
4) sugar- particularly fructose (think high fructose corn syrup that is in almost EVERY processed food) - causes obesity.
4) drinking gatorade, pop (soda), and other sweetened beverages - INCLUDING FRUIT JUICE- in significant quantities makes you fat and ultimately has led to the obesity epidemic.

I really hope someone has some thoughts on this that they would like to share. The comments spot is open! :)

See you in a few days!

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