Welcome to my crazy world of real food cooking ...

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. -- Michael Pollan

I wish I could take credit for that because I think it sums up how we should eat. Simply -- eat stuff that really is food, instead of stuff that is food like substance. The supermarket is almost entirely food-like-substances, and, my friends, you should probably never ever eat them.

Fortunately, there is a world of deliciousness out there, and it can all be had in a way that not only doesn't harm your health, but in a way that benefits you hugely.

I think it's important to eat stuff that satisfies you, that keeps your blood sugar stable, and that gives you stuff your body really needs to run optimally.

But baby, it's gotta taste good.

I really like getting experimental in the kitchen. I love cooking, I love layering flavours, and I love coming up with really super yummy food. I have very strong opinions about what constitutes food, and there are a lot of things I won't touch in the kitchen. Bottom line? Pretty much everything I make is ridiculously good for you even if it tastes decadent. Although there are occasional big fat cheats ... but even those stick to real food, my friends.

For food that is usual gluten free, usually free of cane sugar, usually super low on the glycemic index, full of protein, fiber, flavour, and excellent energy, join me and Alice down the rabbit hole.

Every recipe on this blog is my own original effort and idea, so please pass 'em on, giving credit where credit is due.

Many thanks, and come back often. I'm really glad you are here!


Monday, 30 May 2011

Saturday Morning with Friends Apple Muffins -- Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free

This hearty little muffin is neither graceful nor delicate. However, it is studded with apple and raisins, has lots of blood sugar stabilizing chia, and is a perfect rainy Saturday morning tea muffin. The cunning combination of flavours creates a satisfying and delicious treat.

A friend of mine yesterday was telling me about her daughter who has type 1 diabetes. I find it rather maddening that type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are both called diabetes, because they are not the same thing.

She was telling me that in type 1 diabetes, the body attacks and destroys its own islet (insulin producing) cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin, but they also need to eat in a way that keeps their blood sugar levels as stable as possible, to prevent damage to the body caused by too high or too low blood sugar levels.

I am not diabetic, I can't relate to the challenges that type 1 diabetes must pose. But, I am sensitive to the effects of sugar and carbs on my body. If I eat a piece of bread, even if it is whole grain, without protein of some kind, I can feel my heart racing, and I can get a headache, much the same way as I would if I eat sugar (for example in the form of chocolate) on an empty stomach. I like to try to combine any sweets with protein and fat, with seeds and nuts etc. This way, there are no blood sugar spikes, no racing heart, no nausea and headache.

These muffins are nicely sweet, with their scant coconut sugar, their raisins and apples, but the effects of these sweets are carefully mitigated by the pecan, almond, coconut, and flax, and wonderfully stabilized by the cinnamon and (especially) the chia. But it is still a yummy baked good. Because sometimes you need a yummy baked good with your tea.


3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cup water
6 tbsp coconut sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
black pepper

3 tbsp chia seeds
6 tbsp flax meal
1 1/2 cup pecan meal
3/4 cup almond meal

1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp coconut flour

2 cup diced apple
1/2 cup raisins

24 very very thin apple slices
coconut sugar


preheat the oven to 345

1. combine the coconut oil and warm water to melt it
2. add in the coconut sugar and apple cider vinegar
3. beat in the eggs when the mixture is cool enough
4. add the spices
5. add the flax meal and chia seeds
6. add the pecan meal and almond meal
7. add the baking soda
8. add the coconut flour
9. stir in the diced apple
10. add the raisins
11. scoop the mixture into 24 prepared muffin cups
12. top each muffin cup with a very thin apple slice and a sprinkle of coconut sugar
13. bake at 345 for 35 minutes in the upper half of the oven

Make sure you make enough, because when you put these out, your friends will sneakily eat them all by distracting you. "Look over there! Really. There really is an elephant outside your window. No, seriously. I'm not just trying to distract you! Hurry!" When you look, they will invariably pop the last muffin in their mouth, and then you will glance back after not seeing an elephant, and realize, once again, you've been had for a sucker.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

There's a Man I Call the Milk Man

After exhaustive research, I came to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is nutritionally superior to pasteurized milk. It has to be from pastured cows, and of course those cows have to be free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

I embarked on a quest to find a source of raw milk here in the T-dot. Now, as you know, it is illegal to sell or buy unpasteurized dairy products here in Ontario. Some people squirm around this legality by selling shares in a cow, as you are allowed to consume raw milk from your own cow if you want to. Some people, however, do sell raw milk outright, carefully vetting their prospective clients, only accepting referrals from clandestine agents, and hiding behind false beards, oversized hats, and Lee Majors' sunglasses.

Through a long and circuitous route I was able to find an agency that was able to hook me up with a purveyor of raw milk. He is the Milk Man.

A cool thing about the Milk Man is he believes that we should be allowed to take responsibility for our own actions and our own choices. He is a crusader for this right, a revolutionary, and an activist. He is also very smart, interesting, and a pleasure to talk with.

Another cool thing about the Milk Man is I get to buy milk directly from the farmer who 'grows' it, and my son gets to talk to him, and thank him for the food he makes us.

Yet another cool thing about the Milk Man is that he uses sterilized glass jars which you return to him, thus eliminating packaging waste.

Finally, one more cool thing about the Milk Man is he makes it possible for people to feed their families with  an amazing, un-denatured, 'living' food. Instead of the processed version we accept almost universally here in North America. He also offers eggs from pastured happy chickens (fed a diet of bugs, worms, and other things chickens like to eat instead of soy), and other great things from neighbouring, like-minded farms.

Before you throw your hands up in horror that I would feed my child milk that has not been sterilized, you must understand that this view is ... based on propaganda.

First of all, any cows who are properly pasture raised are naturally free of disease. You can find out all about this in Michael Pollan's thrilling The Omnivore's Dilemma. If cows require antibiotics, and if their products require irradiation and sterilization, there is something terribly wrong with that farm.

Second of all, anyone who believes as fervently as the Milk Man does in the rightness of raw milk isn't going to mess things up with sloppy house keeping. It's not going to further his cause if he doesn't keep his milk clean and safe.

Finally, raw milk is readily available in Europe. It's not that I think Europe is the end all and be-all (it could be, but never having been there, I really couldn't say), but if people can happily and safely drink raw milk there, we certainly can here, too. And the health benefits are legion. Legion.

The problem with milk in North America in general would be the factory farms, CAFOs, and unnatural lives that we often force upon our animals as we genuflect at the twin altars of mass-production and progress. It doesn't have to be this way.

I am excited that there are people out there who have beliefs as strong as the Milk Man's are. I am excited that in my small way I can stand up for the right to be responsible for our choices. I can stand up for the right to have the freedom to choose. I stand up for the right to have a voice and a vote. For all of us. For our children. There is so damn much at stake here!

So, in my house, we drink lovely, rich, unpasteurized, unhomogenized, fresh RAW milk that comes in glass jugs and has to be shaken before being used. How great is that?

Thank you, Milk Man. We think you rock.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Organic Produce at My Door

Through the commercial magic of Groupon, I have had the opportunity to try three different organic home deliver companies for 1/2 price. The full cost of each is about the same, with a just a couple of dollars difference.

The first company permitted no compromise on the contents of the box. It was a surprise when it arrived at my door, and there was no room for customizing my order. I liked the idea of a box full of things I wouldn't usually choose to buy. It intrigued my sense of culinary adventure, piqued my imagination, and tickled my curiosity. In theory, that is. In practice, it just gave me a box full of stuff I didn't really like or want, and nothing in the fridge that my boys would eat. Sad, sad, sad. The produce was generally pretty nice, with some of it achieving 'beautiful' status. But over all, the constraints made it feel ... like a waste.

The second company permitted limited substitutions, which allowed me to get some stuff I wanted, but still forced me to get some stuff I wouldn't normally choose. Instead of encouraging culinary adventure, this brought on culinary frustration as I tried to figure out interesting ways of preparing things that nobody but I would eat. Additionally, they consistently managed to have trouble weighing their produce. With them, a pound was never a pound. Sometimes a pound of carrots would be about 2/3 of a pound, and a pound of beets would be 3/4 of a pound. I started weighing the produce when it arrived, like some kind of rigid, controlling oligarchical kitchen dictator. I didn't like feeling like some freaking control freak checking up on people because I couldn't trust them to do their job correctly. But when it all looks skimpy, what's a gal to do? In addition to being short, it was often mushy, bruised, rotty, or in some way past its prime. They managed to forget part of my order, and then replaced it later on with the wrong thing. Not a lot of attention to detail, and not beautiful produce. On the plus side, they were unerringly cheerful, and seemed determined to 'fix' the problem. Unfortunately, they just seemed like they were in over their heads.

Finally, Goldilocks, it was just right. The third and final company we tried allowed unlimited substitutions for their organic produce bin. They assigned a dollar value for each item, and you could just make up your box to total the amount allotted for it. I got to try things I've never tried but was very excited about, such as wild leeks and fresh fava beans. Both were fabulous. And when it galled me to be offered fruit I didn't want at a high price, I simply swapped it for something I really really needed, like black radishes or extra collard greens. It was fabulous to get a huge box packed full of stuff I wanted! I don't want lettuce, and instead got only greens for cooking. Hurrah! A big box full of stuff I wanted! (I had to say it again, because it's so simple, really, yet so wonderful. ) Additionally, I have to tell you that the produce was all beautiful. All fresh, all delicious, no mushy, rotty, best-before-date-gone-by items in the batch. Broccoli so fresh it tasted almost like raw sweet summer peas. Black radishes with nary a soft spot on them. Greens so fresh I had to slap 'em to keep their hands to themselves. Joke.

Maybe I am a picky produce purchaser. I don't expect organic produce to be blemish free and perfect looking. A nibbled leaf here or there is part of the package. However, wilty food that is already on the verge of rotting when it arrives at my door, so that if I don't use it all within 2 days it's good only for the garbage bin, just doesn't seem right to me.

Finally, I found the customer service for this last company to be friendly and efficient, and they do offer a satisfaction guarantee for any item in your box. If it doesn't live up to your expectations, they will either offer a replacement or a refund on that item. However, everything exceeded my expectations. So, I guess that means my expectations, while high, were not unrealistic, and definitely not unreachable.

And the winner of this organic delivery wrestling match?

Front Door Organics

They also offer a reasonably well stocked organic grocery store to shop from online to be included with your order. The box and the additional items are helpful for people who are too busy to go to the grocery store and still want healthy organic food and produce, or who are so sick of going shopping that they want to gouge their own eyes out.


I'm not going to post the names of the other two companies because I don't want this to be a wall of shame. Additionally, they were pretty nice and meant well, and I would feel rather libelous (even writing the truth) if I were to name them in this blog. It's enough to say that Front Door Organics stepped up to the plate, hit it out of the park, scored a touch down, and various other positive-sounding sports analogies. Third time is a charm. I won't be looking any further for organic home delivery produce.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Belated Mother's day Brunch

We finally did our mother's day brunch (I know, I know), and I have to tell you it was a FEAST.

There was watermelon, a salad of fresh herbs, swiss chard, tomatoes, and avocado, sauteed king mushrooms with fresh rosemary, tomato sauce muffins, maple pecan muffins, sweet potato biscuits, and socca. Let me know if you want to come over for brunch sometime. We do it up right! :)

Sweet Potato Biscuits -- what???

I came across a recipe for sweet potato biscuits somewhere, and thought "what?".

A few months later, I came up with this alternative version.
Not gluten-free.
Yes vegan.
Yes dairy-free.
Yes sugar free (but sweet potato-full).

Hey, they are kind of fun! And depending on what colour of sweet potatoes you use, they could look really orange, or really purple.


1 cup of cooked sweet potato (I used a white fleshed Asian sweetie and baked it in the toasted oven until soft)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

6 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 1/2 - 2 cups kamut flour
1 cup almond flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt


1. puree the sweet potato with the water and the apple cider vinegar
2. in a bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, and the sea salt
3. cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse pebbly sand
4. fold the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture until it becomes a dough
5. chill the dough for at least 30 minutes
6. pat it out to 1 inch thick, and cut with a  biscuit cutter (I did 1/4 of the dough at a time), and place the biscuits on a baking sheet. Rather than reform the dough and then pat it out again, I loosely encouraged the scraps into the biscuit shape, then 'cut' them again, so as to avoid toughness.
7. bake in a preheated oven at 345 for 30-35 minutes

These biscuits are super carb-a-licious -- flakey, buttery, soft, tender, melt-in-your-mouth good. :)
I'll make 'em with purple sweet potatoes next time.

Maple Pecan Muffins -- gluten-free and dairy-free -- and very yummy

Who doesn't like maple and pecans together? I had originally intended to put raisins in these muffins, but in my pre-rapture fog (har har) I forgot. I don't think they are missed. But, if you are a raisin-lover (the love that dares not speak its name?), go for it.

Moist, flavourful, maple nutty goodness. Anyone wanna come over for tea?


2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 organic eggs

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground vanilla
black pepper

1/4 cup flax meal
2 tbsp chia seeds

2 cups pecan meal
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour

12 pecan halves
coconut sugar


preheat the oven to 345

1. melt the coconut oil with the warm water
2. add the apple cider vinegar and maple syrup
3. once you are sure the mixture is not too warm, add in your eggs and beat well
4. add in the cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt, and pepper
5. add the flax and the chia
6. add the pecan meal
7. add the baking soda
8. add the coconut flour
9. scoop the batter into 12 prepared muffin cups, and press a pecan half onto each one, followed by a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar
10. bake at 345 for 30 minutes

Friday, 20 May 2011

Savoury, Saucy, Tomato Sauce Muffins -- Gluten-free, dairy free, and a meal on the go ... oh no!

Tuesday's visit to the inaugural 2011 Farmer's Market at East York Civic Center netted some on the vine, chemical free tomatoes from one of our fav vendors -- Hillsview Farms. They get a jump on the season by bringing some early spring produce, as well as some items from their greenhouses. I sauced some of our lovely tomatoes today, with some garlic, onion, and carrot, and the resulting sweet rich sauce went into our pumpkin pie, as well as these little cuties. These little cuties are pretty intensely full of flavour, and pack a nutritional punch with almond flour, flax meal, chia seeds, and of course the yummy yummy sauce.


2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup sauce, pureed
2 organic eggs

1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp marjoram

1/4 cup flax meal
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp coconut flour


preheat the oven to 345

1. combine the first three ingredients. It helps if your sauce is still a teensy bit warm, because then it will melt the coconut oil
2. stir in the salt, nutritional yeast, oregano, and marjoram
3. add in your flax meal and chia seeds
4. stir in the almond flour
5. add the baking soda
6 stir in the coconut flour
7. scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups
8. bake in a preheated oven at 345 for 30 minutes

makes 12 muffins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay moist and tasty for days.

When my husband ate one, his eyes rolled back in his head. I think he is now a zombie. I hope not. The CDC warned about this.

Pumpkin Pie for dinner -- savoury and gluten free

I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin pie for dinner -- a savoury version with the flavours of sauteed garlic, onion, and tomato providing balance to the sweetness of the squash, and the brightness of fresh herbs.

I used a modified version of our crust from Thanksgiving -- a gluten free, almond flour crust that delivers unmatched flakiness. I had been imagining this pie for a while, and I think it morphed into something slightly quiche-like, rich with ricotta and eggs. It is a satisfying meal in itself, and would pair well with something green. Think savoury pumpkin-pie cheese cake.

2 cups tomato sauce (garlic, onion, carrot, tomato), reduced
1 lb ricotta
4 eggs
2 cups roasted butternut squash

4 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
small handful fresh herbs (basil and rosemary)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp arrowroot flour (optional -- I was concerned about the pie 'setting' enough)


1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

sundried tomato cut into strips for the top


1. preheat the oven to 345
2. combine almond flour and coconut oil using a fork to sort of mash 'em together
3. add the sea salt, vinegar, and water, and form into a ball of dough
4. divide the dough into 2, and press into 2 pie plates
5. bake at 345 for 20 minutes

1. puree the sauce and the squash and the ricotta and the parmesan using a stick blender (or food processor or whatever you have)
2. chop the herbs and mix them in
3. add in all the seasonings
4. divide the filling into the 2 pie plates, and decorate the top with sundried tomato strips if desired
5. bake at 345 for 55 minutes
6. you can also freeze one of the pies unbaked and then bake from frozen, 345 for 85 minutes

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Broccoli -- our favourite way

We like broccoli plain and simple. Sauteed in a little coconut oil on low heat, sprinkled with a little sea salt. We received a very sweet bunch in our organic bin, and it was so good like that.



You know when the stalks are so sweet and tender they almost taste like sweet peas from the shell in summer?

Anyway, this is our favourite way of preparing many vegetables. Not quite plain, but simple and very yummy. As long as the produce is nice ... If you are a butter lover, by all means throw a little butter on your greens. And the sprinkle of salt really brings out the yummy. If you love olive oil, drizzle your steamed broccoli with your extra virgin cold pressed liquid gold. Fat is good for you, and helps you absorb vitamins that are only soluble in fat.

Kitchen Sink Muffins -- or should I say, everything but the? Gluten free!

These muffins were inspired by the idea of variety.  They have something of the breakfast muffin about them. They put me in mind of a bran muffin or a morning glory muffin. But unlike their donut store counter-parts, they will fuel you up and keep you in fighting form (or loving form, if you're a lover, not a fighter) for hours.


1 cup water, warmed
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground vanilla
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/4 cup ground flax
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp carob powder

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup pecan meal
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tbsp chopped goji berries (you don't have to chop 'em if you don't want to. I thought it would be more appealing to the littlies if the goji-bits were small)
2 tbsp diced dried apricots (use unsulphured)
2 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp raisins

(and next time?
add 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
and 2 tbsp callebaut bittersweet morsels
for something ... even punchier)


1. preheat oven to 345
2. combine warm water and coconut oil to melt the oil
3. stir in the vinegar and coconut sugar
4. add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon
5. beat in the eggs
6. add the flax and chia
7. add the cacao and carob
8. add the pecan meal and almond meal
9. add the baking soda
10. add the coconut flour
11. add the assorted additional ingredients ... you can pretty much go wild here, sticking with dried fruit, seeds, and nuts for the most part. If you add fresh or frozen fruit, the extra moisture will cause issues ...
12. scoop your batter into 12 prepared muffin cups, and bake at 345 for 30 minutes
13. cool in the cups and then remove to a cooling rack
14. store in an airtight container. They will remain moist and fresh tasting for days.

Food and Nutrition. Four Letter Words?

Gentle readers, blog followers, lurkers, supporters, and blog stalkers, I have the nagging feeling it's time for me to talk a little about food and nutrition. I have very strong ideas about what 'healthy' eating is, and have done research on the topic for years. Years, I tell you.

Back in the seventies, there were crazy things coming onto the market like pop-rocks and sour keys, grape bubblegum (my friend had me convinced it was made of spider eggs), and an unbelievable array of convenience foods our ancestors had probably never imagined, and wouldn't have recognized. The eighties were the era of fat-as-a-four-letter-word (and I don't mean phat), and everything was high carb, refined up the wazoo, and as low-fat as possible, never mind that it didn't even remotely resemble anything even dreamed about by mother nature. The nineties brought us the Mediterranean diet and Atkins, and the 2000s taught us why French women are skinny. Now is all Paleo this and primal that, gluten-free, sugar-free, don't eat it if it's not organic, count every calorie and still STILL saturated fat is referred to as the culprit in stroke and heart-disease. And, we're fatter and sicker than ever.

We've come a long way, baby. But not in a good way.

I'm terrible about citing resources, and terrible about remembering sources, but I'll tell you that the internet is a tremendous source of information, and if you are a discerning reader, it is often possible to separate the nuggets from the quackery.

I think Michael Pollan says it best: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. He wrote a brilliant book called 'In Defense of Food', and another brilliant book called 'The Omnivores Dilemma'. He has written other brilliant books such as 'The Botany of Desire', but this is not a  Michael Pollan advertising blog, so I will not continue listing his other books that are off topic. The thing I like about his writing is it's well researched, well cited, funny, incisive, and very very very informative about food and culture. Fascinating, and should really be required reading for anyone who, you know, eats. Yup, everyone.

When I read the advice the Registered Dietician for theglobeandmail.com gives, I want to tear my hair out. When I watch people offering their children sugar-rich toddler snacks made with white flour, I want to gouge my eyes out -- "... but they are low fat! and organic!"  I can imagine them retorting ... And finally, when I realize that everything we have been taught about food for the past 50 years has only conspired to make us sick, obese, and old, I want to cry for the farmers we undervalue, and for the children whose health has been determined by the food pyramid, the cartoons on cereal boxes, and their parents who have blindly accepted what they've been told by 'authorities' who afterall have their best interests at heart. Right?

Even though I usually keep my opinions to myself, and don't try to tell other people how to eat or how to live or what to do or how to think, I am going to go against the grain and all that is holy, and tell you the following:

1. Read Michael Pollan. Or listen to it on audio-book. The reader is quite good.
2. Watch The Bitter Truth. It's long, but it's really good information. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
3. Stop eating 'low-fat' food-like substances. Stop eating food-like substances of any kind.
4. Reduce your sugar intake. It's hiding everywhere ... hunt it out and eliminate.
5. Eat food, instead of imitation food. Fat free yogurt filled with thickeners and starches and sugar is not really yogurt anymore. And it does you more harm than good.
6. Eat saturated fat, especially coconut oil. There are no vegetable oils that are good for cooking with, especially not the seed oils, other than coconut oil. They are just not stable at high heat. Use coconut oil, butter, and olive oil (but the last not for heat if you can help it). Don't use low fat dairy products. Use everything as close to nature as you can. Don't ever use safflower, corn, sunflower, or canola oil even unheated. ETC. Coconut oil is great for your brain, for your heart, for your entire cardiovascular system, for your whole body, and for your metabolism.
7. Corn is not a vegetable.
8. Potatoes are not a vegetable. French fries do not count towards your produce intake for the day. Neither do ketchup, relish, or pickles.
9. Monsanto is truly evil.
10. Cheap conventional food is only cheap because it's government subsidized. Someone has to pay the full price.
11. Get your kid accustomed to the taste of real food so that they won't want or like the fake stuff.
12. It's okay to eat crap once in a while. But it really has to be once in a while. And it might as well be really really delicious, so it's at least worth it.
13. Fortified food isn't food. If something says 'fortified' on the package, I can almost guarantee it is not food but rather food-like substance. In fact, if it comes in a package, it will often be ... yes, not really food.
14. There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Nutrition science is a extremely reductionist, and is missing a huge part of the puzzle. We haven't even begun to understand the roles of micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients, or even what they all are. That is why it's so important to get your food whole and fresh, instead of pallid fortified imitations. You actually can die of malnutrition on a diet of fortified foods.
15. Fruit counts as sugar. However, it does come conveniently packaged with fiber and micronutrients that, as I said, we haven't even begun to understand. But especially if you are sensitive to sugar, you can't go hog-wild on the fruit platter everyday.
16. Despite what Leslie Beck says, honey really is better for you than refined white table sugar. Raw, unpasteurized honey, while still full of sugar and may not be well tolerated by those who are sensitive to sugar, brings with it a wealth of micronutrients, and has documented anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and really does promote healing. But don't go eating the whole jar or anything. See, Registered Dietitians are basically nutritionists, and they reduce food to it's basic nutrition, and thereby doing so, make equalities out of inequalities, because they are missing ... so much of the picture. I will not forget that I was told by a RD that they believed avocados were bad for you because of the high fat content, and the saturated fat content. I say: Bring 'em on! (Avocados, not RDs).
17. Watch your portion size, and learn what is an appropriate serving of food. It makes much more sense to watch how big the pieces are rather than eliminating things like fat from your diet.
18. There's room for chocolate. If that's what you like. Or for cheese. Just eat the good stuff. It's actually good for you. Throw away the left-over foil wrapped faux milk-chocolate eggs from easter and enjoy a square or two of actual honest-to-goodness chocolate.
19. Humans need exercise. I don't mean like insane hours a day of marathon training. I mean activity. Like the 20 minutes of yoga you squeeze in before work, or the brisk walk at lunch ... or the trail ride ... or whatever flavour of activity rocks your boat.
20. Cancer cells feed on sugar.
21. Don't sweat it or obsess over it. Just eat real food, mostly plants, and not too much. (And don't forget a little chocolate :)
22. I'm not going to talk about the whole raw milk vs pasteurized milk debate here because I don't want to start a whole black market scandal, but it's just one more example of how we process the value right out of our food, sadly. Very very sadly.

Food used to be about culture, and culture used to also be about food. Now it's much more about politics, deceit, and control, instead of survival or celebration. Someone once said if your great-great grandmother wouldn't have recognized it, don't eat it. I'm not sure I would go as far as that, but, all these things we call progress in nutrition just seem to take us farther and farther away from what we really should be feeding ourselves and our families.

You can change this for yourself, and voice your opinion, food-wise, by what you buy and where you spend your money. You can buy tomatoes at the farmer's market from farmers who don't use chemicals or buy their seeds from Monsanto, and you can get unpasteurized, whole milk from your local black-market milk-man and his lovely pastured cows. You can choose eggs from happy pastured chickens with names instead of caged, beakless chicken-like creatures that have had the essential chickeness bred right out of them. You can stop accepting what the RDs tell you and stop looking at the food pyramid as the holy grail. You can start eating food again, instead of food-like substances.

Enough rant. Enough high horse. Thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for leaving comments. I'll post another delicious recipe next time, instead of another ranty rant about nutritionism, food and health. Sorry if I've offended anyone. Please let me know and I'll apologize directly. It wasn't my intention.


Spicy Baked Squash

In Japan they commonly use a kind of squash called kabocha, that they translate as 'pumpkin' to English. However, you can find the charming kabocha here as well. This is a delightful squash because of its delicate flavour and dry texture. I am a big fan of the dry textured squash.

Being short a kabocha, but having a butternut on hand, I used the butternut for this dish. The butternut is also a delightful squash. But it's not, you know, kabocha.

Thinly sliced squash is tossed with oil, sea salt, and spices such as chili powder -- or heck, curry powder. The squash is then backed on a baking sheet until it is turning brown. Try 45 minutes.

I think I used a little chili powder, sea salt, some nutritional yeast, and black pepper. 

If you use a dry squash like kabocha, bake it until it is browning nicely here and there, and little crispy and dry to the touch. If you are using a wetter squash, such as the also adorable butternut, you won't achieve that lovely dryness, but baking will still do delightful things to it.

Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chickpea Bake -- don't forget the tomatoes!

This is a very simple concoction that uses the dryness of the oven to help it keep its integrity. It wouldn't work well in the crockpot -- it would end up a very different dish.


2-4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 large butternut squash (or 1 small one!), diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 very large sweet potato (or 2 smaller ones) (I used our purple asian sweet potato, for its dry, firm flesh), diced
3 cups cooked chickpeas

3 tsp sea salt
3 tsp marjoram
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast


1. preheat your oven to 345 and put a very large baking dish in the oven with the coconut oil in it until the oil has melted
2. combine the ingredients in the baking dish, tossing everything very well until well coated by the coconut oil
3. bake uncovered for up to 2 hours, until the vegetables are tender.
4. enjoy with broccoli, a green salad, a crusty loaf of bread, your dear friends, your exhausted wife, or you sulky 3 year old.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Oatmeal Cookies -- Nut free, Wheat free, sugar free, and vegan optional

Requests are welcome!

A reader asked for a healthy cookie recipe that used oats and didn't use nuts or sugar. She specified that either honey or agave would be fine, and I think you could use either for this recipe. Or maple syrup. Or coconut nectar for something a little less sweet. Basically, any liquid sweetener will work very well.

I made a very small batch -- 1/2 dozen -- so as not to be left with lots of orphan cookies that no one would eat if they weren't delicious. It's also nice to be able to make a very small quantity of cookies if you are just one, and not that much of a sweet eater. I will post the quantities for 2 dozen however :).

Anyway, these are sweet and yummy at the same time as being quite good for you.


1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (and if you prefer butter, please sub in an equivalent quantity instead of the coconut oil)
1 tsp egg replacer + 1/4 cup cool water (or 1 large or xl egg)
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey (or use maple syrup or agave for vegan cookies!! or my favourite coconut nectar for less sweet cookies)

1 tsp to 1 tbsp ground vanilla (I prefer 1 tbsp ground vanilla bean because I am a vanilla fiend)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt (different salts have different levels of 'saltiness', if you'd believe it!)

1/4 cup flax meal
2 cups large flake rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour


1. melt the coconut oil in the warm water, and add the honey
2. add the vinegar and the egg replacer mixture or egg
3. add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon
4. add the oat flakes, and let sit for 5 minutes
5. add the flax meal and the baking soda
6. add the coconut flour
7. if you are a rebel, now would be the time to add a handful of raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, or diced dried apricots. I personally wasn't feeling very rebellious today.
8. drop spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet and flatten them with a wet fork
9. bake in a preheated oven at 345 for 12-15 minutes depending on how crisp you like 'em.
10. store in an airtight container once they have cooled.

makes 2 dozen!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

A Spring Feast -- Gluten free, Vegan, dairy free, and full of hopeful spring flavours

We tried yet another organic delivery company this week. I'm a little Groupon slut who has been purchasing the organic box trials whenever they have been available. So far, I like this one best. The food was all beautiful, you could make unlimited substitutions, and they managed to actually weigh everything correctly that was purchased by the pound. Oh, and the customer service was both friendly and helpful.

This week's box brought new adventures in the form of fava bean pods, wild leeks, and collard greens. A trip to T&T on Cherry Street netted some honey mushrooms and some baby king oyster mushrooms, both grown in Burlington by 'Enviro Mushrooms', sans chemicals. And our socca experiment continued ... yes, with sauteed wild leek.

Our menu?

fresh fava beans and wild leeks sauteed in coconut oil with sea salt and pepper
king oyster mushrooms and honey mushrooms sauteed in coconut oil with sea salt and pepper
collard greens simmered in vine tomatoes with coconut oil and sea salt and pepper (yes, there was a theme)
socca with minced wild leeks (and coconut oil and sea salt and pepper)

Followed by homemade chocolate ice cream and chocolate power bars.

Yes, a feast indeed.

As for the ingredients and the seasoning, I wanted to let the natural flavours of everything dominate. I don't know if you've ever had king mushrooms, but really, all they want is a little salt and pepper and some coconut oil or butter. Stupendous. As for wild leeks and the fresh fava beans -- what a bright, woodsy, and savoury flavour the leeks have. And the beans are sweet and substantial, and so delicious.

It was a very yummy meal, and super easy. Just wash, chop, and saute in coconut oil, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper.

Fava Beans and Wild Leeks:

Fava beans take a few steps:
1. remove the beans from their strange and fuzzy pods
2. blanch the beans for 1 minute in boiling water, then rinse in cold.
3. slit the tough casing on each bean and squeeze so the bright green inner bean pops out.

The wild leeks are easy:
1. wash
2. remove the roots
3. chop

Finally, throw it all in a large saute pan with coconut oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You'll want to cook it closed for a few minutes to soften up the leeks, then saute open while stirring etc. It doesn't take long to cook.

King Oyster and Honey Mushrooms:

1. wash the mushrooms
2. cut 'em into large pieces
3. saute in coconut oil with sea salt and pepper until they start to brown in places.

Super simple.

Collard greens and Vine tomatoes

1. roughly chop the tomatoes, and begin to saute them in a large pan with coconut oil
2. wash and chop the collard greens, and add them to the tomatoes in the pan
3. season with sea salt and pepper
4. cover and allow to cook for 10-20 minutes

that's it.



Using the same socca recipe as last time (but with less salt), I reserved some of the sauteed leaks, which I then minced and added. Hmm. I think I also added some marjoram for fun.
I baked the socca much the same way as last time, and served it in squares with the meal.

I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of socca at dinner ...

As for the chocolate power bars, the reviewers have said such things as:
'Holy crap.'
'This tastes like fudge.'
'This tastes like truffles.'
'What's that over there?' thereby creating a diversion so they could abscond with the entire box. Check out the recipe, and try 'em yourself.

And as for the ice cream, it was made using raw milk and raw cream we got from a very nice farmer, along with copious amounts of raw cacao, a little coconut sugar, some ground vanilla bean, a pinch of sea salt, and a little too much ceylon cinnamon. Less next time. Delicious!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Socca ~ Farinata -- Chickpea finds a new shape. Gluten free, dairy free, but not yummy-free.

This chickpea dainty goes by many names. According to Wikipedia: In standard Italian, the dish is called "farinata" 'made of flour'. In Genoese dialect, it is fainâ. In Nice and the Côte d'Azur, it is called "socca", and in Tuscany, "cecina" 'made of chickpeas'. In Argentina it is Fainá or Faina. According to one of my readers, it can simply called fabulous, and I was intrigued to try it. Now, as I often do when making something that is an existing recipe, I research the heck out of it, and then modify and come up with what seems like a sensible recipe for me to try. In this case, the amount of water seemed inadequate, as it produced a thick paste, and not a consistency like heavy cream. Thus, I added more, and now have batter the consistency of heavy cream. Additionally, I chose to use coconut oil and not olive oil. Because that's the kind of freak I am. Finally, I am not comfortable cooking at super high temperatures, thus wanted to adapt the cooking temperature and time to produce a great but slightly modified product. And there you have it. Plus, I why would I use raw onion when I could use sauteed onion? Most of the recipes I came across have optional raw onion and rosemary components.

Finally, we received some wild leeks in our organic bin today. Unlike the other leeks with whom I have a nodding acquaintance, wild leeks are tender from head to toe, from tip to root. Lovely. How good would some sauteed leeks be in this dish?

Anyway, we did enjoy my first attempt with dinner tonight, and let me tell you that, aside from the fact that one of the recipes called for way too much salt -- ick -- it is indeed fabulosity. Really lovely. And, such a simple and rustic addition to a meal.

Oh, and usually -- well, always really -- it's round. But my round cast iron pan is way too small, and this one actually was perfect. Not round. But, you know, I'm sort of square myself. ;)


1 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp sea salt -- recduce to 1/2 tsp, methinks
plenty of black pepper
1/8-1/4 ground cumin
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp coconut oil


1. combine the chickpea flour with the salt, pepper, and cumin. (we live just down the street from Little India, so I had some BESAM in my cupboard already. For those of you who are not so situated, please seek it out in the organic section at Loblaws, at your neighbourhood natural food store, or at your favourite over-priced alternative food market.)
2. add the water and whisk to get rid of lumps and make it smooth
3. add the coconut oil. Because you used warm water, the coconut oil will melt.
4. if you are using any sauteed onion or leek, or raw onion and rosemary, you can add it now.
5. allow the batter to sit (covered!) on the counter for at least an hour or all afternoon like I did.
6. preheat your oven to 345. While it is heating, preheat your cast iron skillet of at least 12". After the skillet is hot, coat it with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil, and pour the batter on.
7. bake this concoction in your oven for a long time. I think I baked mine for an hour. If you like to cook things on a high temperature, you can cook for a shorter time, and finish up with some time under the broiler, which I didn't do. I did, however, coat the top with a little extra coconut oil after about 40 minutes, and return it to the oven for a little longer, to brown on top, more. 

Some of it was chewy. Some of it was crispy. All of it was delicious, and I look forward to adding sauteed leek next time we make it.

Thanks, Michaela. :)


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Chocolate Energy Bars -- gluten free, vegan, dairy free, sugar free, and delicious

I am addicted to raw cacao. I, who have never been a chocolate lover -- and still don't really like it (no offense meant) -- have become addicted to the taste of raw cacao. After our Passover fudge extravaganza, I have been trying to develop more wholesome recipes for something sweet and chocolatey. The main difference is that these are sweetened with some date and with some stevia (The green kind, made from crumbled stevia leaves . Thank you, Brooke.). There is pretty much a 1:1:1 ratio going on, with almonds, dates, and raw cacao. And, I'll confess I let my son eat them for breakfast as a chaser to his porridge. When you check out the ingredients, you, too,  might eat them for a meal.


1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup flax meal (ground flax seeds)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp raw cacao (or 1 cup, which is an additional 2 tbsp)

3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground vanilla bean
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
a little black pepper
1 1/2 tsp stevia

1 cup pitted honey dates

1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup coconut oil


1. put the almonds, flax meal, cacao, sea salt, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, and stevia into the food processor, and process until homogeneous.
2. add the dates, and pulse until well mixed
3. add the coconut butter and coconut oil, and pulse until well mixed, and can form a ball. If it is too dry, add extra coconut oil.
4. press into a square pan, and score into 64 pieces
5. chill in the fridge or freezer until set
6.  store the squares in an airtight container, either in the fridge or freezer, depending on how cold you like 'em.
7. label the container either 'liver' or 'brains' so that no one will eat it while you are out. Seriously.

based on 64 squares, each square contains:  3/4 tsp raw cacao, 3/4 tsp almond 3/4 tsp date, 3/8 tsp coconut oil 3/8 tsp coconut butter, 3/16 tsp flax meal, and miniscule amounts of salt, stevia, vanilla, and cinnamon. Put that in your hat, cat!

Now, I've made these with some adjustments -- using 1/4 cup chia seeds, unground, and the extra 2 tbsp raw cacao. They are good that way. But, I think my favourite is the original, as listed above. YUMMY.

June variation: 1 cup roasted almonds, no raw almonds. 1/2 cup whey protein (not isolate) powder (organic of course). 1 cup shredded organic unsweetened coconut. Very good.

My current fave: 1 full cup raw cacao, 1 cup shredded coconut. Extra coconut oil as needed to make a ball. Perfection. Addiction. Abject piggery. Sigh ... I'm out of roasted almonds, only have raw, and it's too hot to turn the oven on. Raw almonds it is! (Hey, they are better for you anyway ...)