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coconut macaroons

Easter and Eggs.  Rebirth. Resurrection. Eternal life. Spring. Baby chicks. Bunnies. Asparagus. Hollandaise. Macaroons.

Last week I bought a giant bunch of gorgeous asparagus, and made several batches of hollandaise sauce to adorn it.  So delicious and an easy way to get choline rich egg yolks, and CLA rich butter into our diet.  Only using the egg yolks in hollandaise left me with a jar of egg whites.  In the past that used to mean that an angel food cake was in my future, but now that I steer clear of gluten, I came up with a new plan.

6 Egg whites

2/3 cup honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 cups unsweetened wide flake coconut (if you want to read more about the many health benefits of coconut click here)

Into my vitamix (which serves me very well, but you could do this in a mixer or with a bowl and a whiskl) I put the egg whites.  I blended on low power for a minute or so, then drizzled in the honey while it was on.  I kept blending for another minute or so.  The point is not to “beat the egg whites” into a meringue, but they did become smooth, silky and well blended.  Add the salt and vanilla until incorporated.  Pour the egg white mixture over your coconut (in a bowl) and mix by hand.  Let this “batter” sit in the refrigerator for 30 min or more.  It will stiffen up a bit and make it easier to shape into cookies.  Try not to keep opening the refrigerator door to sample the mixture (like I did).  I hear raw egg whites are not good for you.  To shape the cookies you can scoop them with a small ice cream scoop, or use a tablespoon, or do it with your hands (I did), but the idea is to press the coconut together with some enthusiasm.  The will tend to want to fall apart. I greased the baking sheet with coconut oil, but parchment paper or a silpat would have been much better. Bake in a low oven (I have a convection oven, so mine was at 250 degrees-if you have a regular oven try 300) until they are all toasty brown.  After you take them out of the oven let them cool on the cookie sheet.  If you try to move them right away they will fall apart.  After they cooled I found they were difficult to get off the pan, even though I greased it.  So I (pretty pleased with my brilliance) gently heated the bottom of the cookie sheet on a burner for just a few seconds and they came right off.  I was quite delighted with how they came out.  Chewy, sweet, perfect.  Enjoy!  I could imagine instead of balls, you could shape them into little nests to hide a chocolate egg or a dollop of lemon curd.

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pumpkin pie

I love my pumpkin pie, but I am determined this year to not have regrets about what I ate over the holidays!  How many times do I need to learn that the recovery time is not really worth the few bites of gluten laden decadence?  For those of you looking for a delicious alternative to feeling regret, read on!  I started with a real pumpkin because my CSA gives them to me!  But working with canned pumpkin is just fine too.  The only thing is you won’t have the yummy roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on while you are waiting for the pie to cool!

Start by baking a pumpkin, if that’s your plan.

pumpkin

pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop out the guts and seeds of the pumpkin.

pumpkin guts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake face down on a sheet pan at 350 degrees until soft.  Let cool before scooping the flesh out of the shell into a measuring cup.

baked pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, separate the pumpkin guts from the pumpkin seeds.  Rinse the seeds and roast with a little oil (I used delicious, nutritious coconut oil which I got here) until you hear popping sounds coming from the oven.  They should be crunchy and irresistible, especially with good salt.  Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition.  Known to be a good source of minerals including zinc and magnesium as well as protein and essential fatty acids.  Research suggests they are useful for prostate health, bone density, parasites, arthritis and healthy blood lipids.  Find out more here.

pumpkin seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a food processor make the crust:

3/4 cup raw pecans or pumpkin seeds (grind ‘em up real good in the food processor)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup coconut flour (find out why I’m such a fan of the coconut here and here)

1/2 tsp good salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup  coconut sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 free range egg

 

Process dry stuff, add the coconut oil and process.  Then add egg and pulse until it comes together.  It will be sticky.

Press into a pie plate or tart pan.  Freeze for 15-20 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees until lightly browned.

crust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next mix up the filling in the food processor:

Filling:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup (or less)

1/2 tsp good salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

pinch of cayenne

pinch of ground cloves

1 can coconut milk (not LITE)

Blend everything together until it is a smooth puree.  Pour into partially baked pie crust.  Tap to release bubbles.

unbaked custard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake 45-55 minutes at 325. Be sure to let it cool before you serve it.

Delicious ending to a healthy fall meal, but honestly it makes a darn good breakfast too!

 

 

dig in!

 

Anyone out there have tomatoes piling up?  Attracting fruit flies?  Tired of BLT’s? (Never!)

tomatoes from MY YARD!

I realized today that if I didn’t act, and act TODAY my tomato harvest would be fruit fly food.

 

I had yellow tomatoes, green stripey tomatoes, and red, red tomatoes.

 

If I mixed them all together I would create a really attractive brown tomato sauce!  So I made Cream of Tomato Soup with the yellow and green ones, and Roasted Tomato Sauce with the red ones.  I’m pretty pleased with the results, so I thought I would share!

Cream of Tomato Soup Indian Style

Saute in coconut oil:

  • ginger, onion, garlic

Meanwhile toast your whole spices in a dry skillet:

dry toasting spices

  • cumin, coriander, black pepper corns, mustard seeds, fennel seeds

Grind the whole spices and add them to the onion mixture.  Add a healthy dose of turmeric (if I’d had fresh turmeric I would have used it, but dried ground turmeric is fine.  Remember how good it is for you?  Anti-inflammatory?), and a dash of cinnamon.

Saute the spices for a minute. Then add a bunch of cut up tomatoes.  I used yellow and green ones which worked great with the turmeric which is bright yellow too.

Add a little chicken stock or water to get the tomatoes to start breaking down.  Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for a while, checking occasionally and stirring.  When the tomatoes are completely broken down, puree the whole she-bang.  I used my trusty Vita-Mix, but those immersion blenders work well too.  After pureeing the mixture, put it back in the pot and add a can of coconut milk and salt to taste.  Heat it gently at this point.  You don’t want the coconut milk to boil.

lunch. check.

 

 

Depending on how sweet your tomatoes are you might want to add a handful of sugar, honey, or maple syrup to balance out the acid of the tomatoes.  I decided against that.  I portioned out the soup (after eating some, of course) for lunches for the next few days!

 

 

 

Next up:

Roasted Tomato Sauce

The recipe is thus:  Cut up a bunch of tomatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, fresh thyme, oregano, and rosemary.

red tomatoes ready for the oven

 

 

Roast in a 350 degree oven until they break down and start to dry out a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

herbaceousness

 

 

Add some fresh garlic and chopped basil and spoon over  spaghetti squash, roasted cauliflower, zucchini ribbons, or…. pasta!

I spooned mine into a jar, and froze it for some winter day when I need to conjure up the bounty of these last fall days!

 

 

 

 

 

after roasting

 

 

Tomato’s nutritional claim to fame is high levels of a carotenoid called “lycopene.” Carotenoids act as anti-oxidants in the body and high intake of lycopene has been found to be protective against prostate cancer.  Lycopene is what gives tomatoes, watermelon, and guavas their pink/red color.  Lycopene is more available to the body when tomatoes are cooked, and they should be cooked with some oil to aid absorption.

 

If you have your finger on the pulse of what’s new in Natural Medicine you’ve probably heard about oil pulling.  Folks are talking about it, blogging about it, making you tube videos about it.  There is great debate about it.  Is it the magical cure-all or a complete waste of time?  But first of all what exactly IS oil pulling?

Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine but was made popular by Dr. F. Karach, M.D. in the 1990’s.  The technique involves taking 1 tablespoon of oil (most commonly cold pressed sesame,  or sunflower oil) into the mouth and vigorously swishing the oil through the teeth and gums for 20 minutes.  Then spitting it out and washing the mouth with water and brushing the teeth.  The claim is that during this process toxins are pulled from the blood into the viscous oil and then expelled with the oil.  There are many anecdotal claims on the internet that this practice not only is good for oral hygiene (cures gingivitis and bad breath, whitens teeth), but that it can cure chronic diseases such as blood disorders, arthritis, hormonal dysregulation, sinusitis, immune disorders and cancer.

Let’s face it:  I’m a sucker for crazy ritualized health routines.  I mean I have fully embraced the castor oil pack, dry skin brushing, jumping into cold water, eating organ meats, and more.  So when I first heard about oil pulling from an interview with Bruce Fife ND, I was intrigued!  Sign me up!  I’ll try it!  I could not think of any reason it would be a BAD idea to swish oil around your mouth.  If nothing else, perhaps we absorb some good fatty acids through the mucus membranes in our mouth.

I do know that our mouths often harbor plenty of bacteria on a good day, and on a bad day can be the source of ongoing, hidden infections that the body has to  continually fight off.    Having a low grade infection takes lots of energy to keep the immune system so revved up and can lead to further complications.   Coconut oil is especially antimicrobial, so there’s that.   With my training in physiology I can’t say that I buy into the idea that toxins are being “pulled” into the saliva/oil mixture through this process.  But I am the first to admit that there is a lot we don’t know about the human body and I don’t need to understand something for it to benefit me.  I mean, I practice homeopathy after all!

So I have been practicing oil pulling with coconut oil (I am a big fan of the many health benefits of coconut oil and I buy it here) for about 3 weeks now.  I do it once a day, in the morning, on an empty stomach.  The first thing I noticed was that my teeth feel like I just came from a dental cleaning appointment.  Smooth!  Clean!  Sexy!  I’m watching my receding gums and hoping to see a change there.  My chronic back and hip pain is improved (!).  I don’t suffer from allergies or chronic sinusitis, but I do feel my sinuses drain each time I do it.  And (accepting the risk of TMI)  my last menstrual period?  A breeze.

I’ve been asking friends to try it and tell me what happens.  I mentioned to my naturopath that I had started oil pulling, and her face lit up!  She’s been doing it for 8 months and has been using it with patients as well.  I must say, I’m optimistic that it can help at least some people.  And really, the risk/benefit ratio is fairly low, so why not?  Try it and report back.

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