Tag Archives: food allergies

potted herbs > packaged herbs

mintI’ve come to a revelation– I hope to never buy herbs again in the grocery store!  This reality goes far beyond any sort of farm-to-table philosophy and straight into my pocket.  Take note:


Each of these plants cost no more than 3 bucks.  In the grocery store where the herbs will probably die in like 3 days anyways?  One buck less.  And they don’t keep having little herb babies.

Buy your own herb pots!  Even if you have no garden (I surely do not have enough moolaw to afford a garden in this urban landscape) simply keep a few pots of choice in your kitchen next to the window.  These lovelies reproduce more quickly than rabbits.  …which is why I don’t feel bad using the baby leaves to top my tartines with my teff bread.

plated tartine herb

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gluten-free teff BAGUETTE

cooked baguetteswhen the goin’ gets teff… (first and last bad joke, I promise)

brushing oil teff breadoh baby

teff milkTeff flour has been one of my favorite substitutes for wheat flour for a while now.  Teff milk was a new discovery today: I’m not sure that rice milk is the best thing to consume out of the lactose-free milks as it’s basically just sugar.  It’s not bad, but it’s not rich, either.  Teff milk has now been my favorite dairy-free milk for one day.  A whole day.  And now night.

It’s real here: baguette is something that surpasses stereotype.  It surrounds the daily function of the Parisian, clings to the backs of those dedicated enough to leave an opening in their backpacks for the long strand of yeast-risen staple, breaks beneath the fingers of the eager who cannot make it home without finding the tip missing.  Yup, baguette’s a thing.  And today I wanted one real bad.  That’s when I found teff flour for the first time in grocery stores here.  Sha buy yah roll call

teff bread demi baguetteI think you’ve gotta be a bit of a geek to make it in this world.  Tech-y stuff is all over, and what’s slightly paradoxical is that I’ve found the more I give up my old ways of traditional-is-better-because-it’s-more-human, unless I actually want to go Neanderthal, it’s hit me that these new advances in images and sound and things with computers and wires can actually make the human things we do more interesting.

shaping baguetteIt’s not like the computer made the baguette.

I say this because you may notice that these pictures look slightly better than the past.  That’s because technically they are.  I’ve succumbed to, with the greatest pleasure, an actual camera.  It’s manual, I control things like aperture and shutter speed, and photoshop is now something taking up space in my hard drive.  In between washing off the teff flour and gluten-free yeast from my hands,  I spent my first day with my new ally in the kitchen.  And then ate some baguette so I’d have something pretty to share with you.  Of course, that was the only impetus to construct a plate like this.

plated breadExcuses are lovely sometimes.

Teff Baguette


-gluten, nut, soy, dairy, egg, and corn free-

ingredients: 2 tbs (21 g) flax seeds, 3 tbs (41 g) hot water, 1/4 cup (50 g) + 1/3 cup (75 g) teff milk [can substitute water], 3/4 cup (90g) teff flour, 3/4 cup (100 g) brown rice flour, 2 tbs (16 g) arrowroot starch/flour, 8 g yeast, 1/4 tsp (a large pinch) sea salt, 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar

method: In small bowl, pour hot water over flax seeds.  Let soak 20 minutes.  Combine flax seed mixture with 1/4 cup teff milk (or alternative dairy-free milk or water) until puréed.  Set aside.

flax seed mixCombine all dry ingredients in large bowl, adding salt at the very last second before you add liquid.  (Salt will kill the yeast if left too long without the sugar to feed on.)

dry ingredientsAdd flax seed mixture and half of the teff milk.  Knead with hands.  Add honey/agave nectar and remainder of milk and more if needed to get a moist dough that is not sticky.  If too dry, add more milk or a bit water.  If sticky, add a bit of rice flour.  Knead for about 5 minutes, form into a ball, and let rise in bowl covered with wet towel.

kneading doughcovered rising doughKnead again for 5 minutes, separate into three balls for mini baguettes, two balls for demi baguettes, or keep whole for a large baguette.  Roll into a cylinder, then taper out the edges.  Place on a prepared baking sheet (silicon mat and a light oiling will do quite well) and flatten a bit in the middle, and then fold in both edges (see photo at beginning of post).  You’ll make a bit of a smushed taco.  Flip over (the smush is the bottom of the baguette) and make lines with a small knife on the top.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise about 1 1/2-2 hours minimum.*  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Bake bread for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with a fine layer of oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place back in oven turned the other way, for even cooking, and bake another 10 minutes.  If the inside or bottom is not cooked through, reduce heat to 375 F (185 degrees C) and bake for another 5-10 minutes.  This really varies upon the size of your baguette and your oven.  Remove from heat, let cool to touch, and consume within a day for freshness.  To keep longer, keep it in the freezer until use.

*If preparing the night before, keep covered in the refrigerator and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours the next day.

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banana cream parfaitLeftovers, I love you so.

I guess this is bizarre that I consider cookies still left uneaten in a package of store-bought pastry “leftovers”.  You see, I have been working hard lately, and brought a package of gluten-free vanilla shortbreads (amazing ones, by the way… check them here) to give me and my comrade some energy.  Somehow, somehow, we did not eat all of them.  They are, thus, leftovers.

sables vanille victor vanille

As it will be, with the working hard comes the hunger, the hard hunger, the hunger that wants to devour things like leftovers the day after the hard work has a taken a brief pause.  With a banana, some vanilla, and a probiotic yogurt I found in my fridge, I found a cure to that hunger.  And an inspiration for a healthy and digestible version of the classic banana cream pie.

banana cream parfaitingredients: 1 serving plain yogurt of choice (dairy or non-dairy); 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla; 1/2 tsp. honey or agave nectar (or more for sweet tooths); 4 small gluten-free cookies (vanilla flavor recommended, chocolate works, too); 1/2 banana cut into thin slices

method: Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, and honey or agave nectar in a bowl.  Set aside.  Crumble 3 of the cookies into crumbs, break the last into 1 cm cubed pieces.  Set aside.  In a glass verrine or narrow glass, add 1/3 of the yogurt, 1/2 of the bananas, and 1/2 of the cookie crumbs.  Repeat with another layer of yogurt and add the larger chunks of cookies atop this layer.  Cover with the final layer of yogurt and top with crumbs in the center.

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fruit salad with basil

fruit salad with basilThe jackets are stowed and the tank tops aplenty.  Give your fruit salad some peps by adding fresh basil. 

To really infuse the flavors, mix all ingredients 30 minutes before serving.  Today I enjoyed a combination of peach, banana, apple, and blueberry.  The banana adds a luscious creaminess and juxtaposition of texture from the firmness of the blueberries and apple.  The peach is a flavor complement to both blueberries and bananas.  Basil ties this together into something curiously savory and herbaceous.

summer salad

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close up cornI didn’t need a doctor to tell me I have a strong sensitivity to corn.  It’s like clock work: I eat corn and the next day my face is inflated like I got into a boxing ring with a hyena in heat.  The underneath my eyes may not be black and blue, but the poof that’s there hurts so badly it might as well be.  Before I stopped eating gluten, I was very well acquainted with the morning poof face.  Best friends, if you will.  It was my daily look, the swelling might go down a bit by night, might not, and it was certainly never anywhere near normal at a given time.  Since eliminating gluten, the poofage of my mug has gone down so much that I forgot how bloated it felt and appeared before.  This changes when I eat corn, like I said: it’s clockwork, a thing even my friends notice!

So, my curiosity lead to searching for what might be the trigger specifically in the grain.  Researching corn’s been a funny thing.

First of all, corn is naturally a tropical plant, not destined to survive moderate climates.  The United States produces over 40% of the world’s supply of corn.1  We don’t have the most tropical of climates.  Also, 2/3 of it is used as animal feed.  Yaaaaay, Mac D’s!

corn cobb whale

Secondly, in this research, I have read many times over these two words: corn gluten.  Wait, I thought corn was gluten-free?

Before you freak out and throw away pretty much every packaged gluten-free goodie you’ve bought, because like 90% of them are made with corn, anyways, it’s not the same gluten.  Corn gluten is not wheat gluten, but it sure isn’t something that is a natural one to digest in the form we digest it in now.

This brings up the question for me between the two funny points: am I reacting to the corn because it’s inherent natural structure, am I reacting to it because it’s modified, or is it because it’s been modified that the new structure is inherently changed and now I’m reacting?

child in corn

You’ve gotta imagine that the corn we eat is not the purest– considering we can produce so much of it without the natural climate, it’s, yeah, it’s been changed.

What happens when it’s changed?  It develops a gluten.  Yes, again, a different one from that of wheat, but a gluten nonetheless.
Here’s an interesting factoid:

“Most gastroenterologists use the biopsy to diagnose celiac disease.  Typically a repeat biopsy is taken to monitor how well a patient is healing while on a gluten free diet.  This and many other research studies have shown that even when adhering to a traditional gluten free diet, patients don’t heal.   As in the case above, only 8% of the patients had normal follow up biopsies after 16 months on a gluten free diet.
The big question is why?  The intestines are one of the fastest healing tissues in the body.  Cell turnover is typically only about 7 days.  That means that about once a week, the gut lining is replaced by new cells.   That’s 52 new linings per year.
This study shows persistent white blood cell infiltration into the gut lining for the majority of patients following the classical gluten free diet (wheat, barley, and rye free) for over a year.   So what is it that is causing this persistent inflammation?”2

These patients didn’t cut out corn from their diets.  In fact, they probably consumed more corn than they would have with the gluten-free subsitutions.  Right… so what’s with this corn gluten?  When corn is processed the corn gluten is produced as a natural byproduct.  This byproduct in powdered form is something even used as a natural weed suppressant in gardens.  It inhibits the growth of plants.  And my digestive and immune system as well, evidently.

weed prevention corn gluten

I guess what I’m saying is, if you have a wheat allergy, or Celiac Disease, or can eat without wheat gluten and still have your tortilla chips and feel fine, kudos to you.  But after research and personal experience, corn does have a similar effect for me than gluten does, even worse sometimes.  If you’re still having troubles even with a gluten-free diet, try taking out the corn.  And read those ingredients labels closely… it’s everywhere in the States!  (40% world production ain’t only heading out on airplanes, ya’know!)

Sources: 1 GMO Compass, http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/database/plants/52.maize.html, 2 http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/traditional-gluten-free-diets-fail/

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