Choose-a-Fruit Seasonal Crumble (with spelt and GF options)

  • By Andrea Potter
  • 17 Aug, 2016

When you're fruit bowl is brimming with seasonal fruit, but making pie is way too much work... this rewarding, low-sugar dessert is a sure hit.

Recipe by Ellexis Boyle for Rooted Nutrition

 Low sugar, GF option, dairy-free

 

If your neighbour’s are anything like mine, you will have been inundated by apples, pears and prune plums this past month! This simple fruit crumble takes minutes to prepare, is low in sugar and keeps the integrity of the healthy and delicious fruit intact! Coconut sugar is chosen for its low GI and cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness as well as helps to control blood sugar levels.

Yield: one 8 X 8” baking dish or one 8-9” Pyrex pie dish

 

Fruit

5 cups of chopped fruit, leave skin on. Chop apples and pears, rhubarb and peaches/nectarines into bite-sized chunks. Halve and pit apricots and plums, leave berries whole.

1-2 Tbsp of coconut sugar

1 Tbsp of arrowroot (a less-processed alternative to cornstarch for thickening)

½ tsp cinnamon

Zest and juice of ½ lemon

 

Tasty Fruit Combinations  

Apples, straight-up!

Apple + Pear

4 cups Apples + 1 cup Berries or Rhubarb

Apples+ halved Plums or Apricots

Peaches + Cherries (increase arrowroot to 2 Tbsp if using moist fruit like these)


Crumble topping

½ cup slow-cooking rolled oats* (Oats are not necessarily Celiac- Friendly! See GF sub in note below)

½ cup spelt flour*, sprouted flour is best if you can find it. (See GF sub tip below if gluten is not an option)

1/3 cup shredded coconut

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp unrefined grapeseed oil (or use avocado oil or melted coconut oil)

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp sea salt


*Make mine Gluten-Free Please!

While spelt flour is an option for some people who have a wheat intolerance, there are those who require gluten – free.

Swap out the whole amount of spelt flour for millet flour or brown rice flour, or a mix of the two. For people with Celiac disease, I don’t recommend (even GF) oats. Sub out the rolled oats for additional coconut (a heaping 3/4 cup total coconut)


Method:

1.    Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease your baking dish with coconut or grapeseed oil.

2.    Wash fruit and dice into 1/2” cubes. If fruit is from your neighbour’s (un-sprayed) tree, leave skin on. Just remove any bruises or blemishes.

3.    Toss chopped fruit with sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest. Pour into your chosen greased, baking dish.

4.    Make crumble topping by combining oats, flour, sugar, salt and coconut in a bowl and then rubbing in the maple syrup and oil with your hands until well coated and clumpy like granola.

5.    Spread crumble topping evenly over the fruit

6.    Bake in a 350F oven for 30-40 min. Crumble is ready when the topping is golden and you can pierce the fruit easily with a knife.


Rooted Nutrition Healthy Recipes and Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle Articles

By Andrea Potter 02 Dec, 2017

Upgrade your holiday baking! (Or in this case,  un-baking!)  Spread the cheer by giving tiny boxes of these decadent treats as gifts to your hosts and guests.

Raw Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour in  plenty of water

¾ cup raw cacao, ground finely (or use ½ cup raw cacao powder)

1 cup soaked dates

½ cup coconut nectar or maple syrup

2 Tbsp good vanilla

¾ cup coconut oil, melted over a bain marie

Additional ground cacao for rolling

 

Directions

  • Drain and rinse the cashews.
  • In blender or food processor, combine all ingredients except for coconut oil and blend until smooth.
  • Slowly add coconut oil as it blends. Once mixture is smooth, pour into a container. (Using a deep narrow container works best)
  • Refrigerate until set and scoop out- using a teaspoon, espresso spoon or a melon baller- depending on the size of truffle that you prefer.
  • Form balls- working quickly with your hands- and roll in the ground cacao, coconut or crushed raw nuts or sesame seeds.
  • Refrigerate and serve cold. These also freeze well.
By Andrea Potter 02 Dec, 2017
Nostalgic foods are irresistible. For me,  Mom's cookies are all entwined with childhood memories of 'helping' form and squish the cookies on the cookie sheet, impatiently watching them as they spread and puff up in the oven, and finally digging into a warm, chewy gingersnap with a tall glass of milk. 
I don't deny myself the good stuff, but rather have learned to upgrade them, replacing the white flour, white sugar and margarine for more wholesome foods, so I can indulge without the consequences of blood sugar crashes and tummy ache.
Here, I have replaced the white flour with spelt, or even better, use sprouted spelt flour. An ancient relative of wheat, spelt is less allergenic and more nutritious than wheat. Replacing wheat flour (1:1 ratio) with whole spelt or sprouted spelt also slows the blood uptake of sugars, providing more lasting energy.
The sugar was cut in half from the original recipe, replacing much of it with more molasses, which is high in iron and B vitamins. To make these chewy cookies even chewier, and to cut the sugar even more, I added dates, which have much less impact on blood sugar than the white stuff does.
I choose to still add butter and an egg, but this could be tampered with a bit more, replacing the dairy with coconut oil (ratio of 1:1) and a flax 'egg ( 1 Tbsp ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp warm water).

So here it is- my upgraded version of chewy gingersnaps for your holiday baking. 
Enjoy!

 

Mom's gingersnaps 2.0 

Ingredients

2 1/4 cup whole kamut or spelt flour

½ cup sucunat, coconut sugar or whole sugar

1/3 cup date paste (soak 1/2 a cup of dried dates in some warm water and puree to make a paste)

¾ cup organic butter, softened to room temp.

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (unsulphured)

1 organic, free-range organic egg

1 tsp baking soda (aluminum-free)

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

3 Tbsp chopped candied ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

extra sucunat or whole sugar for rolling the cookies

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  •  In a large mixing bowl combine about half the flour with the sugar, date paste, molasses, butter, egg, baking soda and spices
  •  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined (or use some elbow grease and a whisk).
  •  Stir in remaining flour
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar
  •  Place on an un-greased cookie sheet and press lightly with a fork to squish it down slightly
  •  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are crackled
  •  Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 1 minute and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack
  •  Makes about 48 small cookies 


By Andrea Potter 02 Dec, 2017
Go ahead and indulge!
I bet you didn't think you'd hear that from a nutritionist. 
While I flip through holiday-themed  health blogs, I get that nagging irritation when I keep seeing themes like 
'5 Ways to Avoid Crashing Your Diet This Holiday Season' and 'How to Keep Away From The Holiday Bulge'...
and this voice in my head screams: "Enough of the food (and fat!)-shaming already!"

While most of the time when you see me, I am teaching a cooking class, making salads, fermented foods, homemade soups, nut-milks from scratch and talking healthier alternatives to flour and sugar, it is important to note that I my life is not all healthy food, best practices and planning ahead!
However, I can also be found enjoying a real ice-cream cone, shamelessly munching my Mom's Christmas sugar cookies by the half-dozen and eating a little too much on the holidays, just those last few bites because it's sooooo good! And this is not a 'cheat day' or a transgression against my usually healthy diet. 
Having treats and feasting with friends and family are some of the really juicy, great moments with food. Enjoying these moments without any ugly guilty feelings is just as important to my well-being as habitually eating healthy foods is. 

I see food as the sustenance that it is, of course, but more than that, food is ties up in social gatherings, cultural traditions, feelings of nostalgia, warmth and comfort...and these reasons for eating are important too.
The 80/20 rule is what can help guide decisions about when it's ok to indulge. 80% of the time, I eat what is going to help me maintain my body's health or get me to my health goals. The other 20% is all fair game, no guilt or shame at all. The exception is of course when the 20% causes  more harm than benefit , so we have to weigh the gains from personal satisfaction and the ability to stress less about diet rules, with longer-term health effects (such as strictly avoiding foods which we are allergic to).

So let's plan ahead a little this year in anticipation of at least one social gathering that results in indulgence. The sort that can really combine some strange but great holiday favourites, such as Grandma's layered gelatin salad with all the stuffing, Christmas pudding and oodles of chocolates. Other factors like slowing down to eat, chewing (as mentioned below) and stressing less will really help to reduce discomfort from occasional over-eating.

Here are some things you can do to prevent that holiday bloat:

1) Eat your Enzymes: 
Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts for functions like sleeping, eating and digesting. One big reason for uncomfortable bloating is a lack of digestive of food enzymes. I encourage you to learn more about how enzymes affect your digestion and overall health and where to get them. I will direct you to my Nutritionist friend, Connie Sears from Nutritious Life , and her great post about just this topic here.  Some key take-aways from Connie on enzymes:
  • CHEW! And chew, and chew. Avoid beverages thirty minutes before and after meals. This allows your stomach acid, which most of us lack, to do its work. Acid reflux often occurs due to a LACK of stomach acid even though it feels like too much is present when experiencing that burning sensation.
  • Incorporate raw foods each day, especially veggies. Hate salad? Try carrot, celery and pepper sticks with a chickpea hummus. This is a great snack that will help keep you full.
  • Allocate time to focus on your meal and only your meal. Thirty minutes is a good start.
  • Eat a rainbow of colours. Food enzymes come in all colours so create colourful combos.
  • Enzymes supplements are generally best taken with meals to support the breakdown of foods at mealtime.
  • Enzymes can be used therapeutically (to heal the body) when taken between meals.
  • Plant and algae sourced enzymes do exist, but there is less variety on the market since animal sourced (from animals or humans) one have a higher density of enzymes.
  • Enzymes are not habit forming. While they do offer the body a break from having to produce all the enzymes necessary to properly digest foods, they don’t cause the body to lose the ability to create them.
2) Drink this tonic:  Stomach fire tonic is what I call this drink. It is actually a nice sipper, and works best before a heavy meal, but can also help a lot right after a meal or when you start to feel uncomfortable. 
1 cup warm (not hot) water + 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp raw honey.
A culprit of indigestion and bloating is low (or inconsistent) stomach acid. This relates to the above point about enzymes too, but this drink will prevent or remedy bloating. The apple cider vinegar regulates stomach acid, and the honey has enzymes that help everything go smoothly.

3) Spices that help the bloat:  Spices are for more than just making food taste great, they are a valuable part of the kitchen apothecary toolkit. 
Fennel is the go-to spice for dispelling gas. Fennel tea: Grind 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon of fennel seeds in a coffee grinder or with a pestle and mortar, boil in a cup of water for 5 minutes for a strong tea. Fennel tea bags can also be used, but I favour the stronger decoction for real relief.
Cumin and caraway have resins that help with indigestion. They are traditionally paired with beans and legumes as well as heavy meats for a reason! So spice up your holiday meals. Caraway is great in any cabbage dish or in your bread stuffing and a little goes a long way. Cumin adds subtle and nutty flavour to stuffing, bean dishes (such as humus), and as a meat rub.

By Andrea Potter 01 Nov, 2017
I hope that that the time you have carved out to read this post finds you feeling energized after a great day/week/life of being on-top-of-things, making wellness a priority, and finding balance in your inner and outer life.
Without an ounce of sarcasm- really, I do hope that! 
*Confession*  But this last 2 months (and probably way longer than that)has not been that way for me.  I mean, yes, as a holistic nutritionist, I strive for balance. Balance and moderation are supposed to be my mantra, but here's a hard truth- I regularly bite off more than I can chew in terms of work. This habit of mine to say 'YES' to opportunities has helped be brave in my personal and business life, to do things that I am afraid of or think I cannot do. BUT there's a down-side of course, and that is that I tend to over-work, throwing off my work/life balance (even though I am fortunate enough to love what I do for work!).
Life as a new mom, and having returned to work pretty full-on lately has gotten me into that foggy, over-scheduled state, feeling like "what am I doing here?!" at least a few times a week. 

I have been lucky enough to have some amazing help, and Connie Sears is one person who is brimming with positivity and has the kind of focused energy that I am craving right now. Her and I have worked together at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where I teach cooking classes.
For the sake of returning to a bit more focus and balance in my own life, I will be only focusing on teaching cooking classes, and will be stepping away from any one-on-one nutrition consultations. I am excited to refer people to Connie as she has an approach with clients that focuses on their health goals, with a custom plan for supporting them to reach those goals. I will be referring any one-on-one nutrition clients her way. I recommend you check out her site here  and schedule a free phone consultation with her to see if her custom plans are a fit to help you get to your health goals. 
In the meantime, I found this article she posted, which I want to share (with permission) here. 
It was just the read I needed to help me feel like a I have a place to begin with regaining some much needed balance in my work/life!
-Best,

Andrea
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Balance -- What a Concept!

By Connie Sears of

Nutritious Life

While I’ve finally made the choice to sit in the sunshine and just start writing, it has been weeks since my last post and I had started to allow a little guilt to follow me the whole way.

Stress has been the problem and, though I identified it, finding the actual source and then working through it properly can be challenging. I ultimately realized that by increasing my mental load with guilt, I create even more stress. So instead, I decided to do a self-reality check, got in touch with my emotions and asked myself: I’m not perfect and never will be, but…who is? What are my stressors? What can be done about them? What is within my control? After finding the answers, I was able to better understand how stress was affecting my mood, where I was letting stress creep in, and then move on to building a plan to manage my life’s stressors. Finally, I was able to regain balance.

We all know that stress is a part of living, and too much can cause a variety of problems to our physical and mental wellbeing. It can, however, also force us to focus and get more done. BALANCE is a concept I promote to my clients, and I provide suggestions for how they can carve out some “me time” in their busy lives. What I failed to do for myself was create a plan to include this in my own daily routine. Luckily, life has provided me with some first-hand experience to show just how hard that can be.

5 Important Takeaways:

1. - Plan.

Allocate time and write yourself into your schedule every week, pick a consistent evening that’s only for you or schedule an email reminder for later in the week to meet this goal. Then stick to the commitment, just like you would for work. Time for ourselves is usually the first thing we push aside when a busy day happens, but if you don’t at least start with the intention of putting yourself first, it will never happen. From workouts to an uninterrupted lunch break, set the goal regardless of size.

 

Prioritize–urgent or important matters should get your focus - and sort tasks into “must do” and “want to do” categories. Focus first on the “must do” list, and let yourself off the hook for the “want to” list. Make them longer-term goals until you have time to make them priorities. Giving yourself permission to let go of tasks that aren’t a priority gives you control and peace of mind, while still completing important life tasks. And if your day didn’t go perfectly? Tomorrow’s coming; you get a fresh chance to get it right.

 

2. - Create a routine .

Spontaneity and a “fun day” in my planner are ideal for me, but getting there means having a good routine – and sticking to it. I spend about three hours on Saturday morning cleaning the house, Sunday is for grocery shopping and prepping food staples for weekday meals (quinoa, roasted vegetables, etc.), cooking with a glass of wine in hand. An organized environment is a great tool for being mentally organized, allowing your focus to be where it needs to be.

 

I can’t stress this enough: Get to bed on time! Eight hours will allow you to start your day off right, especially near the end of the work week. Hit the pillow at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. A tired brain is a stressed brain, and it messes with your body (inflammation, weight gain, etc.) and mental focus – BIG TIME .

 

3. - Just say “no”. (Nicely.) Saying “yes” can become a theme in life if we’re not careful, especially when offered interesting opportunities or helping out friends and family. Being over-committed can trigger feelings of impatience and anxiety, and cause a lack of objectivity or peace of mind. Excitement about a new project is great if you have the time to commit to it. Failing to meet the needs of the person asking can lead to guilt, increased stress and personal sacrifice. Sound familiar? It’s time to think twice about saying yes.

I find the best path is to stop and try to see the bigger picture, and to maintain a week/month perspective. Your time is an investment; always consider your return on that investment. You are worth it, your time is valuable and you deserve the return. Acknowledge that you’re eager to take something on, then assess if it’s a reasonable possibility. Will doing it have a negative impact on your sleep, health or relationships? Remember that family, relationship and friend commitments don’t disappear when you’re busy and need nourishment, so keeping those aspects of your life in mind is important as well.  

4. - Write it all down.

Related to the Plan piece, write in whatever format you prefer, and commit to doing it twice a week. I use a planner and pen/paper for “mind dumping” (writing everything down that’s on your mind, especially when you can’t sleep, utilize any reminder method you prefer). The “mind dumping” list gets added to my planner and forces me to critique and prioritize. Google Calendar will track everything from work hours to sports games, “me time” and work tasks. Be sure to include social activities for BALANCE, and remember that perfection is not a realistic goal.

 

5. - Find the joy.

We all need it, and you’ve got to be on the lookout for it! Consider what makes you laugh and feel centered and at peace with the world, then include them in your day. Something as simple as petting a neighbour’s dog, calling a close friend for giggles or literally stopping to smell the flowers will hit your reset button and keep you on the right path for mental balance. Tell a joke, share a funny animal video on Facebook, hold open a door or give up your seat to another person on transit. Giving = getting, and remember to be grateful for all the good in your life.

 

Even I have to strive for balance, and I slip up now and then. Balance is not a goalpost, but a process, and I challenge you to ask this question of yourself each day: What are you going to do for your balance today?

  Link to my site:  http://www.nutritiouslife.ca/2017/08/25/balance-what-a-concept/


By Andrea Potter 28 Oct, 2017
My baby was having an overdue, epic nap, the company was gone and I finally had time to tackle an intimidating stack of unread emails. (*sigh)
Finally, I open one from a sender I don't recognize. He's a student, attending a local school, doing a Bachelor's degree in Business and Hospitality. His questions about healthy eating actually stopped me in my tracks, then made my start typing feverishly... he had really basic, but super questions. They are questions that I ponder, evaluate, ask my students, investigate... it is the search for the answers to these questions that prompted me to do what I do; nutrition education with a practical life-skill component, or, more accurately, teaching cooking skills from a nutrition perspective.
It's easy for nutritionists to get into the minutia, and even among holistic nutritionists, we have differing perspectives, but these wide-strokes questions about healthy eating helped me nail down some key points:

Q) What is the definition of healthy eating?

 As a Holistic Nutritionist, I see each person as unique, and so what is healthy for one person would not necessarily be for another! And so what 'healthy eating' is, is not actually that easy to define. (For example, tomatoes have many healthy anti-oxidant vitamins and can confer an overall benefit for most who eat them, but they are a plant in the nightshade family which can cause inflammation for some people, making it an unhealthy choice for those few)

Healthy eating is really a continuum, not some end-goal of attainment. A healthy diet can be omnivorous, vegetarian or even vegan.

That said, there are the pillars that I use to create a healthy diet that is a fit for most people and here's what I convey in my classes/workshops about that:

1) Choose Homemade food over Corporate-made food.
Seems almost overly-simple, but really, we are already going the right direction by ditching packaged food. Even if people are still using somewhat refined ingredients in their home cooking, they are likely not adding the cheap fillers, chemical additives, artificial and excess sweeteners colours etc.

2) Ditch the sugar (You're sweet enough already!)
The most dramatic health-benefiting action you can take right now is to seriously reduce or get rid of refined sugar! Sugar has a myriad of health consequences and is absolutely unnecessary for health. When avoiding sugar, learn where it lurks, and also avoid refined flour (cookies, pastries, white bread and yes, even most gluten-free items). Easier said than done (which is why I teach about healthier alternatives to refined sugar, baking with sprouted grains and replacing sweets), but once sugar is out, it is amazing what healing can take place! Normalizing weight, balancing blood sugar and reversing diabetes, hormone and mood regulation, reduction of pain and inflammation of all types.

3) The more whole, the better
Choosing foods that are wholesome, or un-refined is key to getting the most nutrients in the diet. When a food is in its 'whole package' it has the right balance of fiber, water and nutrients. When we start breaking or stripping away parts, or 'refining' the food, we get nutrient depletion, or are not able to properly assimilate the nutrients (ie: whole wheat berries into whole flour, then into white flour, we lose the fiber, most of the nutrients and are left with only the starchy endosperm, a blood-sugar-raising food with almost no nutrient value). Choose vegetables and fruits with edible peels, left intact and eaten whole, whole grains, unrefined sweeteners and even unrefined natural salt.
Nutrient-density is another way to look at 'wholesomeness' of food, and takes it another step. Choosing more foods that have high nutrient value compared to caloric values, such as choosing orange squash over white potatoes, or zucchini 'noodles' over white or even whole-wheat pasta.

4) Proper preparation
Switching to brown rice from white, or munching on nuts and seeds instead of processed snacks is a great step towards healthier eating. But both science and traditional food preparation agree- some whole foods need careful preparation to become optimally digestible and nutritious! Soaking and even sprouting or fermenting nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans/legumes is an important step to stepping up your healthy eating to 'optimal', and for some people who have digestive difficulties, could be an essential step towards digestive health and nutrient absorption.

5) What's on your plate?
Some people thrive on more or less protein, or more or less carbohydrates, but in general , it is most important to focus on nutrient-dense foods. Filling half  of your plate with vegetables, leaving the other half for protein and carbohydrate (potatoes or whole grains) is a good guideline. ( Again, I'm talking base guideline! Some people thrive on lower carbohydrate diets etc.)  Fruits are best eaten on their own and are not interchangeable with vegetables. Most of us would benefit from increasing vegetables in the diet, so consider snacking on raw veggies, adding one salad dish to lunch and dinner or sipping on a vegetable soup as part of your meals. Variety is key. Eating produce seasonally and locally brings variety and more nutritious food than shipped produce.

4) The good fats  
Thankfully, gone are the days when we thought of 'low-fat' as synonymous 'healthy'! Rather than blaming fat for the enormous health problems of overweight/obesity and heart disease, we are starting to realize what important roles that fat plays (hormone balance, nervous system and cognitive functioning, vitamin absorption and more), and choosing the best quality of fats is paramount. Ditching trans-fats altogether is an important first step. Choosing to get fats from whole sources such as nuts, coconut, seeds, avocados and olives assures the fats are fresh. In their 'whole package', fats come with vitamins, minerals, fiber and often protein.
Adding a few good oil supplements (fish oils, walnut oil, flax and hemp oils) helps balance omegas 3 and 6. In the kitchen, healthy cooking fats are unrefined coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil and even butter and ghee from organic and grass-fed dairy (if you include or tolerate dairy)

5) Balancing your Biota
Your intestinal biota, or micro-flora, is an essential aspect of your overall wellness. Bacteria cells outnumber your other body cells 10:1! Your gut bacteria being in balance is essential to the proper functioning of your body as a whole, with clear links to digestive health, absorption of nutrients, hormone balance and a properly functioning immune system. Include a variety of probiotic foods everyday, such as yogurt, or raw (un-heated) sauerkraut, kimchi, brined pickles, miso and more. A couple of serious disruptors for intestinal biota balance are: food sprayed with pesticides as well as (unnecessary) antibiotic use.

6)The hydration station
How much water you need a day depends on your activity, your body constitution, body weight and even the climate you live in! One great way to be in touch with your thirst is to start every day with a warm glass of water and a squeeze of lemon. By sticking to a wholesome diet that includes lots of fresh produce as well as homemade soups, you may find you get a lot of hydration from food. Sipping on room-temp water through the day, and herbal teas as well as avoiding the dehydrating culprits such as alcohol, excess salt, excess meat and coffee, all contribute to great hydration balance. Avoid falling for the sweet beverages, which add calories with little to no fiber or other food value. The best way to tell if you're hydrated? The colour of your urine: should be pale yellow. Dark yellow, and you need hydration asap! Clear, and you should lay off the excess water.


7) The 80/20 rule:
We eat what is optimal for our healthy 80% of the time, and have free range without guilt or shame with what we do with the other 20%. This balance helps us enjoy 'treats', feel relaxed about social situations where we eat different foods than we might normally choose. It's important to attain balance, not 'perfection' (and that a fixation on 'perfection' in diet becomes an eating disorder called orthorexia , an increasingly common problem!) The stress of trying to attain 'cleanliness' or 'perfection' in what you choose to eat or refrain from eating can become its own serious health detriment! Chew thoroughly, relax and enjoy your food!

What do you think?

Are there any guiding principles that help you make healthy choices?


By Andrea Potter 08 Sep, 2017

Countless times as a healthy cooking instructor - during cooking classes, baking demonstrations and seminars - I have had someone ask me ' what it is about wheat that is so bad? !' Or they tell a familiar story of not having Celiac disease, but their symptoms (weight gain, IBS, skin problems and many other inflammatory conditions is just the tip of the iceberg) decrease or disappear when they avoid wheat and/or gluten altogether. 

The rise up against the grain

Since my early days as a cook, fresh out of culinary school, I have been asked for a lot of 'mods' - special requests for a gluten-free or wheat-free version of something that's on the menu. My station in kitchens was often making pasta from scratch or making pastries. The answer was usually 'no', with chefs and cooks muttering under their breath (or some of them proclaiming loudly) that they hated accommodating these 'fake' allergies and fad diets. Yet bakeries and pasta kitchens were going out of business all over town, the ones who survived were offering alternatives to wheat and/or gluten on the menu. The Atkins diet was the first that I saw of a wave of anti-wheat, anti-gluten and now anti-grain diets like paleo and keto.

I am a lover of pasta, bread and cake, and I saw no reason to quit enjoying these foods. Although I did not share some of my fellow cook's disdain for people's diet requests, I was glad that I was not among those who needed to single themselves out in a group and ask if there was something different for them at dinner or dessert. 

Discovering wheat intolerance

A few years down the road, as I was attending nutrition school, I tried out a cleanse on myself (one which excluded glutenous grains)mostly out of curiosity for what I might notice, having no major complaints health-wise. And then everything changed. My symptoms were so status-quo to me, that I thought that the bloated feeling after meals, the hung-over feeling every morning, the constipation and the brain-fog were all the normal state-of-affairs for my health. Had I not done this cleanse, I might not have known what 'better' felt like. The bar for my new 'normal' state of health and energy had been raised. After methodically re-introducing foods after the cleanse, I realized that wheat (and I thought maybe gluten in particular) was to blame. I found that I had what is known as 'wheat intolerance', and that I was among the growing masses of people who are finding that there's something about wheat that does not do our bodies good. 

I know that my story is pretty low-stakes. I am fortunate not to be among the many who have serious inflammatory issues, allergies and more serious health concerns. But I was my own case study for school, and I looked at my symptoms as warning signs to pay attention to before anything more serious cropped up.  I dutifully ate a diet free from gluten for a couple of years. Thankfully, this was before the plethora of gluten-free junk-foods had showed up on the market, so my diet was pretty basic and whole-foods oriented, with a lot of whole grains and very little flour at all. 

The modern wheat problem

No food has been so revolted against as wheat, and later, the protein gluten was singled out as a culprit for people's growing suspicion of wheat as the cause of their weight gain, digestive woes and many other symptoms.

Yet grains- and wheat to a large degree, has been the backbone of agricultural society and staple food for generations, and if our ancestors largely thrived on it and with inflammatory conditions, allergies and auto-immune disease on the rise (especially in North America), the question should not be 'what's bad about wheat?' but 'what's changed about wheat?' 

Well- in short, three things: 

1) The processing of wheat  flour. Our ancestors learned to grind grains between stones, which moved slowly- powered by animals or water or by wind. This slow processing didn't create the heat that modern steel roller processing does. The heat created by modern milling denatures the fats in the germ of the grain, causing whole flour to go rancid quickly. Rancid fats are one cause of free-radical cellular damage, which can lead to a variety of chronic conditions. Another processing issue is this: the label 'wholegrain' on flour in North America does not mean what you might think. Most 'wholegrain' flour is actually white flour, which has had all of the germ (vitamin E-rich healthy fat) and bran (fiber, most of the vitamins and minerals in the grain) removed. Some of the (now potentially rancid) germ and the bran is added back to the white flour and is called 'whole'. Hmmm...

2) The toxic load of a chemical called glyphosphate which is permissible and abundant in conventional wheat is now being pointed to as a likely culprit for more and more people having issues with wheat. Symptoms include but are not limited to: bloating, indigestion, constipation, allergies to wheat and other foods, skin problems and inflammatory issues of all kinds. This is because the chemical disrupts the functioning of bacteria in the gut , throwing off the healthy balance of microbiota. The answer here (in addition to expressing outrage that this chemical is allowed in our food system by calling for a ban of Monsanto's Roundup) is to buy organic. 

The spraying of this chemical is so far not allowed on organic foods. In addition to avoiding conventional wheat, supplementing your diet with probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles and yogurt helps keep a balanced micro-flora; imperative for digestive and immune functioning. 

3) Our grain-eating ancestors prepared grains carefully for maximum benefit. Wheat (and other grains) in its whole and unprocessed form is not properly digested and is high in an anti nutrient called phytic acid . Consuming a diet too high in this anti-nutrient causes malabsorbtion of minerals, especially zinc and iron. Grains that go through the process of soaking, sprouting and/or fermentation are not only much lower in phytates, but are also 'predigested', making them much easier for our bodies to absorb the nutritive value from the grains.

Opening up to sprouted grains and enjoying fluffy, healthier cake!

After a couple of years eating a gluten-free diet out of fear that the uncomfortable symptoms I had lived with for years would crop back up, I started learning more about modern wheat and farming practices, heirloom relatives of wheat and about the processing of glutenous grains for digestibility. I started by making my own sprouted kamut and spelt crackers and then branching out to learn how to make sourdough breads and sweets. My food world blew wide open again! After years of avoiding sweets and breads, or occasionally putting up with the GF versions that were never quite as good or were full of other dubious ingredients, I could enjoy whole-grain crackers, cakes and breads.

So in our baking classes, I recommend either or both methods of preparation if you want to keep enjoying bread and baked goods made with heirloom glutenous grains. 


Learn to bake with sprouted ancient grains

Our upcoming class by guest baker, Lexi- is all about sprouted flour, its yummy (also all vegan) products and how to work with it. The Sprouted Bread Frontier class is on Sept 17- so join us!
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/healthy-cooking-classes-cook-ea…

All the flour in our class is from Abbotsford's  One Degree Organic Foods  mill <3 <3 <3

The photo is one of Baker Lexi's beautiful vegan creations. It's a sprouted grain carrot cake. It's as moist and yummy as conventional, but unlike conventional wheat cake, it will love you back too.


By Andrea Potter 31 Aug, 2017
This recipe is based off of one we made at Radha Eatery. We made a super thick and rich version and served it as a sauce over house-made pasta. This lighter version makes a super warming winter soup.
Be bold and choose a squash you've never eaten before! Any yellow or orange-fleshed winter squash will work. The recipe works well with standard butternut squash, but equally well with delicata, pumpkin, turban, red kuri or kabocha. We have so much variety in heirloom squashes coming back, this recipe is a great excuse to try them out

 

Makes about 4 liters (serves 8)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut or other winter squash

2 Tbsp coconut or sunflower oil, or ghee

1 onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 chipotle peppers (canned, in abodo sauce. Or use 2 dried whole chipotle chilies, re-hydrated). Use less if you don't like too much spice.

1 tsp sweet(mild) smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you don't find the smoked)

2 tsp ground coriander

2 cans coconut milk

About 2-3 liters good (chicken or veggie) stock or water (depending on how big the squash is you used.)

Sea salt


Directions


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Place halved squash on baking sheet cut-side down
  • Roast for about 45 min or until the squash is soft. For hard-shelled squash you need to test the fleshy side to see if it is soft. Once it is done, cool it, scoop out the flesh and set aside
  • In a soup pot, saute onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, until fragrant
  • Add chipotle, coriander and paprika and stir
  • Add coconut milk and roasted squash and just enough water to cover. Simmer for a couple of minutes for the flavours to combine.
  • Puree and season with sea salt to taste
  • Garnish with lime wedge and cilantro, some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or some feta cheese



By Andrea Potter 31 Aug, 2017

  This recipe happens to be free from wheat, dairy and eggs, while remaining very moist, just sweet enough and satisfyingly your dark-chocolate craving. The addition of beets keeps it moist and adds a serious nutrition booster.

Topping this with chocolate avocado mousse or whipped coconut cream makes it an extra special healthy treat. This is a great base for a birthday cake.


Ingredients

2 cups spelt flour (or use ½ spelt and ½ kamut). Use sprouted whole grain (spelt) flour if you have access to it.

1/2 cup cold-pressed sunflower or avocado oil. You can sub melted coconut oil if you prefer (makes a denser cake)

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2/3 cup whole sugar such as sucunat or coconut sugar (coconut sugar effects your blood sugar 1/3 as much as regular sugar! It's a great sub 1:1 for sugar in most recipes)

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup milk alternative (I like almond milk or cashew milk)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups raw shredded beets – peeled first and packed to measure

2/3 cup good (dairy-free) dark chocolate chips (optional. Add 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts if you prefer)

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Oil a 9 X 11 inch cake pan (or a 10” round pan).
  • In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  • In medium bowl whisk together sugar, oil, milk and vanilla.
  • Add wet into dry and stir to combine.
  • Add beets and chocolate chips stir to mix.
  • Spread batter evenly in pan.
  • Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

*These can also be made into muffins/cupcakes! Simply spoon them into the cupcake papers in muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops crack a bit!

By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017

Roasted Balsamic Beets with Nasturtium Greens

Ingredients

6 medium beets (red, Chioggia or yellow)

1 handful of nasturtium leaves (or substitute arugula), whole or slightly torn

A few leaves of basil, Thai basil or mint, or a combination

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, divided

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

To Make

Preheat oven to 350F

Clean beets, cut off greens and reserve for another use (use as any other cooking green.)

In a roasting pan or pyrex dish, pour about ½ inch of water and add beets. Add half of the balsamic vinegar to the dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until you can poke the beet with a knife without it sticking.

Cool beets enough to handle and using a kitchen towel (that you don’t mind staining!), slip the skins off of the beets.

Chop the beets into big-ish bite-sized chunks and add to a mixing bowl with other ingredients, adding the rest of the vinegar, olive oil and seasoning with salt to taste.

This makes a nice warm or cold side salad. Add goat’s cheese for a decadent touch.

By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017

Sesame Summer Greens

This inspired by one of my Japanese cuisine favourites- Gomae. I change it up a bit and am pretty loose with which greens I use and how they are seasoned. I also enjoy this both warm and chilled. It’s a wonderful way to get a ton of greens on your plate and in your body! Adding lemon juice or vinegar greatly enhances the ability for us to absorb the calcium. Lemon juice enhances absorption of iron from the greens as well, as it is a source of vitamin C.

Ingredients

1 lb (450g) of fresh cooking greens. Include kale, chard, nasturtium greens , arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy or spinach, or a combination. A spring variation can be enjoyed with stinging nettles and radish tops. Wash well shake dry.

2 Tbsp sesame oil (toasted)

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated. Substitute for 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped if you have them.

2 Tbsp tahini or any nut or seed butter

Juice of ½ a lemon, or about 2 Tbsp rice vinegar

Tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste

Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

To make:

In a wide-bottomed pan or pot with a lid, over medium heat, add sesame oil, being careful not to over-heat oil (it should never smoke!). Add garlic and greens, stirring before putting the lid on top to steam the greens.

Steam for about 2 minutes, or until you peek in and see the greens wilting down.

Add tahini, lemon or vinegar and your choice of tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste.

Take off of heat and plate the greens- sprinkling with sesame seeds to garnish.

These greens taste good both hot and cold.

 

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