Italian-style organic chicken sausages in VEGAN casing (egg free, gluten free, casein free)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sweet mother of mercy- do you know what this IS????

This, my friends, is a sausage. Now, to most of you, you might be thinking, "yeah, so what?" Do you have any idea what kind of world has just opened up to me with this discovery??? Let me explain.

When you don't eat pork, you cannot eat sausages.  All but a VERY limited few are made in "natural hog casing"...for the more literal, that means "pig intestines". Um, gross. Not only that, but most contain wheat, and countless chemical preservatives. So sausages and I have been on hiatus since I made those discoveries several years ago. While pregnant with my son, I was ADDICTED to spicy chicken sausages and sauerkraut. But after figuring out what the sausages were made in, I gave them up. Well...years I am. I'm BACK, baby, and this is only the beginning!

Here's how I did it:

Italian-style organic chicken sausages in VEGAN casing (egg free, gluten free, casein free)
1lb ground organic chicken
3TB chopped fresh basil
1tsp garlic powder
7 sun dried tomatoes (sulfate-free), soaked for 5 minutes in hot water to rehydrate
1/2 large onion
3/4 TB dried rosemary
1/4 TB celery seed
1/4 TB salt
1/2 TB pepper
5 rice wraps

1- Grind basil, rehydrated sun dried tomatoes and onion in a food processor (or chop very finely).
2- Add to ground chicken in a large bowl.
3- Combine spices and sprinkle altogether over bowl contents. Mix.

Now you need a little station set up for yourself.
i- Spray a plate with a bit of oil (I have one of those Mr. Mister doodads you pump then spray- a nice alternative to the stuff in the can)
ii- Set up a large container with at least an inch of warm water- big enough to dip your rice wraps in, and
iii- You'll need one more plate to make your "sausages".

4- Soak a rice wrap for 5-10 seconds then lay it on your empty plate. Spoon 1/5 of the filling onto your wrap and form into a sausage. Roll it up while folding in the sides.
5- Spray them (and the grill) with a little oil so they don't stick. BBQ until they hit about 170 degrees.

Only thing they were missing: chilies. I omitted the spice because of the kids, but next time, I'm making two batches. :)

Let an ingredient be your inspiration (Summer salad recipe)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We were at the cottage this weekend, and on the way back we stopped...yes...for french fries... :) OH HOW I LOVE POTATOES. Yes, I know...I'm working on it...

I digress. We stopped and adjacent to the chip truck was a flea market type of thing. It was quite a smattering of people's junk, with some strange fruit and veg selections (not even local- imported- in the middle of the country) and then a whole section of potted herbs. My basil plant recently had an attack from some bug so it was slowly biting the dust (it was yellowing, and just generally not inspiring me) so I bought a new one- for two bucks! Awesome!

After our "chip" lunch, I wasn't in the mood for dinner. We also bought fresh picked local strawberries at a roadside stand, so I cut up some of those and some bananas, and made a dip for the kids with hemp seeds, a little avocado, a date and a splash of maple syrup all blended up. Um, it was gross. Not gonna lie. But the kids loved it and they dipped their fruit and that was dinner.

Once they were in bed, I became hungry and thought of my lovely little basil plant. So I rooted through the almost-empty fridge and came up with the following;

Summer salad (original, I know)- 1 serving

1/2 cup fresh peas
5 stalks asparagus
1/2 tomato
1/3 orange pepper
2 TB hemp seeds
4 big basil leaves
olive oil (splash)
balsamic vinegar (ditto)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1- Toss fresh peas and asparagus into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
2- Chop up tomato into wedges, pepper into strips and tear or chop up basil. Put them into a large bowl for "tossing".
3- Add the hemp seeds, cooled peas and asparagus.
4- Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

The ONLY thing that was missing, was my beloved avocado. I missed it. Then it would have been sheer and utter perfection (oh, that and more basil- it just wasn't enough!!).



Oh what a difference a year makes

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's been roughly a year since I began with an elimination diet that led to figuring out some of what is bothering my poor guts. I'm getting close now. And it's amazing the changes that have happened to me in the last year- really.

I made mention in my "cupcakes" post that a palate can be trained. We all know this instinctively. Have you ever tried baby food? It tastes like...well...nothing really. But your wee babe is lapping that up and is so excited about having a strong flavour in his mouth (other than the garlic and onion tint to his milk after mom's had fajitas..woops). In any event, that palate is virtually blank at that point, and we add to it...condition it to react to different foods.  A year or two ago, my youngest would not eat produce. She would eat the odd blueberry and she's always been a broccoli fan, but anything else was virtually impossible. But we kept at it. And at it. And at it. We finally "broke" that child and she now eats a great variety of fruit and veggies. There is still room for improvement mind you, but she is leaps and bounds ahead. We trained her palate to see that there was more to life than carbs, meat and cheese. If your child eats hot dogs and pizza every day, there is hope. You can make changes, and eventually if you just keep offering, giving incentives, and most importantly being a role model of healthy eating, you can make a difference.

For me, I've come to a few realizations as of late. The biggest one is that I no longer like things that were my "norm". I used to drink rum and Coke zero with my father in law when we saw him. Now, the chemically acid-sweet taste is just too much for me. I just can't choke it down anymore. It is TRULY awful. Regular coke? I haven't been able to drink that for years. I can no longer drink full-strength juice either. It's just too sweet. Same goes for ketchup. I even bought an organic ketchup sweetened with agave (rather than that horrible white sugar) but you know, I just don't like that kind of sweet anymore. Milk chocolate? forget it. I like chocolate that is dark and crunchy and dense- at least 80% cocoa. Despite being anti-dairy, I did allow myself a little butter recently when I baked a fresh gluten free loaf. Know what? SALTY. WAY way waaaaaaay too salty. Super gross actually. Again, it's amazing what happens to your expectations when you train your brain to like certain foods. It would be quite difficult to go back at this point, and that is what I need to keep reminding myself of when I go to a party and see everyone eating that cheap slab cake that I used to LOVE (where the icing is so thick with sugar, it's like sand in your teeth?). I can't eat it anymore because it's made with wheat, but in the end, even if I did, I would more than likely be totally grossed out: wheat flour with no nutrients, fat, and sugar. Ew.

So there you have it. Here I am on the other side of a year, after thinking I couldn't ever do that for even a month. I am healthier, have more energy, have better guts (for the most part!), less acne (as long as I'm strict about the milk!) and am super proud of myself. Yeah, I still remain the single worst person to share a meal with (if you're a typical North American eater) but I'm working my way through the social aspects. I'm trying. Maybe eventually the restaurant industry will catch up and there will be more places I can go for a gluten-free vegan breakfast...or maybe not. :)  But in the interim, I'll keep rockin' on, trying to help others who are ready to make a change to nutrient-dense foods.

Happy, healthy eating, folks!

Cream in my coffee- regular v. organic

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I have purchased organic cream before. The only one I could find here was 10% fat, and at that time, I was really used to 18% fat cream (coffee cream). So I wasn't crazy about it. Plus, here's the thing: we only drink coffee at home on the weekends, so we've been pleased with the shelf life of non-organic cream: it lasts for weeks in the fridge through our sparse use of it on the weekends. Either that or our grocery store sells less of the organic cream so we always seem to find it at the end of its shelf life, with only days before it goes "bad".

As I've mentioned previously, the only dairy I allow myself each day, as dairy does not-so-nice things to my guts and my complexion, is cream in my coffee. Buying non-organic cream is really not my preferred choice. I would much rather buy cream from a farmer whose cows are well treated, grass fed and not constantly treated with copious amounts of antibiotics (that really concentrate in the cows' milk). So in an effort to convince myself to live with having to pick up coffee cream more often, I decided to review the ingredient list on Sealtest cream—a pretty popular one in my area.

Ingredients: milk, cream, mono and diglycerides, disodium phosphate, sodium citrate, carrageenan.


Now if I look at the organic brand I had been buying...
Ingredients: Organic cream.

That's it. So, let's look at all the other things in the non-organic version.

Mono and diglycerides: Simply put, mono- and diglycerides are fats. They are made from oil,usually soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, or palm oil, act as emulsifiers (provide a consistent texture and prevent separation), and are used in most baked products to keep them from getting stale. In ice cream and other processed foods, including margarine, instant potatoes, and chewing gum, they serve as stabilizers, which give foods body and improve consistency
Disodium phosphate: Another ingredient intended to improve suspension, prevent separation, etc. It's for texture.
Sodium citrate: Acts as an emulsifier, used as a buffer to modify tartness and regulate and enhance flavors, enhances the body and texture of the final product, buffer controls pH
Carrageenan: a seaweed extract similar in properties to gelatin, used as a stabilizer and to give body (to increase viscosity)

Okay, so after searching through all these, I have come to the following conclusions:

1) The additives don't appear to be of the harmful variety (which is great!)
2) Um, if the organic cream is just that—cream—then why do the other guys have to add all that other stuff to it? Does it really make it that much better?

I'm not going to stress about it, but in the end, I like to know that the cattle producing the cream in my coffee were given lots of outdoor access to graze on grass - NOT CORN. I also like to know that the cream is not full of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bugs, genetically-modified organisms, and growth hormones. Don't happy, healthy cows make better milk? Seems pretty simple to me. My next carton will be organic, and I'll report back on the taste and texture...

Anyone have any comments one way or the other?

Cupcakes with coloured icing

Friday, June 4, 2010


Recently, the boy turned five, so we had a party for him. Imagining a slew of little boys running around was nothing close to the reality- it was CRAZY but fun. The concept that he has chosen his own friends, for whatever reasons, is fascinating to me. After years of him playing with the children of my friends, it's quite interesting to see all that.

In any event, his theme was Star Wars. Huh. I had grand visions of renting a star-shaped cake pan, etc etc, however, what I ended up doing was buying the El Peto gluten free white cake mix and making cupcakes. I know I didn't have to make the cake gluten free, being that I'm the only one who can't eat it otherwise, but my kitchen is gradually evolving and I certainly don't have any wheat flour lying around... 

Okay. Now what? Icing. Normally, I would neither have made a cake nor icing with refined sugar. However, being that we was having his little friends over, I knew what I was up against: candy, hot dogs, cookies... Most children the boy's age are not fed the same kind of diet he is. They are given "Lunchables" every day or some other horrible food-substitute I wouldn't ever choose to feed to him. So I wasn't about to create something ridiculously healthy as a palate needs to be trained away from all that junk to appreciate something not-so-processed. More on that in another post.

Anyways, I was sitting at the bulk foods store looking through the food colouring. Um, do you know what it's made of? I have been desperately searching for ingredients on the Internet but have failed to find the ingredients. Needless to say, I read them, didn't recognize them, and thought "Aw MAN!!! I can't put this in my kid's food!"

The Plan- natural food colouring for icing
How on earth would I make blue icing without blue dye? LIGHT BULB MOMENT: I would use blueberries. What else could I use for food colouring? Chlorophyll for green, turmeric for yellow...the list goes on. No, you won't get the blue icing that stains your kid's face for hours, but you WILL get a subtle tint.

I ended up making purple by simmering down blueberries and blackberries, and green, using a big blob of avocado in a regular icing recipe (in the place of the butter). Incidentally, making icing with berries gives the icing a MUCH nicer flavour than just nasty food colouring. That purple berry icing was good - and would have been even better if I hadn't used icing sugar. Good Lord that stuff is acid-sweet. A nice coconut sugar the next time... Must really perfect how all that would work. I love my avocado dark chocolate icing, but it is VERY rich and I don't have an option when I want vanilla. Any ideas?

Is God stupid?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This is an amazing video that my friend Alyson sent me. I'm afraid my time to post is limited, so all I can say is watch and learn. This guy is amazing.


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