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Foodies

It never fails that the start of Summer brings with it a rush of inspiration to our tummies. But let’s be honest, so does every season. But if I need anything right now, I’m in need of something new. This past year has been by far the hardest I have every had with food. Even when gripped in the realms of pregnancy morning sickness, the closest I have ever been to knowing what it is like to be ruled by food much like what I imaging struggling with an eating disorder must be like, this has been worse. I’ve known I have a cow dairy intolerance. It started small, I’ve still been too darn stubborn to give up my Mocha’s at the coffee shop. Call me a glutton for punishment. However, it’s been going far beyond that. I talk to more and more people who, like me, hit about 25 and from there to 30 it becomes a backwards slide into not being able to eat anything. So what is it? I firmly believe that a huge contributing factor to what myself and so many peers are experiencing has to do with large ag-business, federal regulations on particular large-industry crops & how our food is raised/grown and all the required pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and junk put into and on our food. The common denominators- wheat, eggs, cow dairy, peanuts, corn- are some of the largest food industries in this country and are perfect agents for all that junk to get into our bodies. I think physically we are reacting to the chemicals our bodies can’t tolerate and it’s resulting in a reaction to the food. The number of people I hear have been told to go wheat-free is astounding. I know for sure that I cannot eat store-brand eggs. A few bites and I’m on the floor doubled over in pain. Organic, free-range, antibiotic free eggs? No problem. Same with Cow Milk. Same with Cheese. The food is an ample agent that all the chemicals come right into our bodies through what we eat. It’s like filling up a cup with water until it overflows- we can only take so much before having a reaction.

I have a deadly Shellfish Allergy. It’s actually the second most common food allergy, right behind peanuts. I can understand the human body’s reaction to food like this- shellfish eat poop off the bottom of the ocean- of course your body should react to that kind of crap. Supposedly I have 15 minutes to live if I ingest any kind of shellfish. It’s been about 15 years since I was diagnosed with this allergy, I used to carry around an Epinephrine injection, but luckily Shellfish is a pretty easy one to avoid. Never have I even been close to ‘accidentally’ eating any. Well, that is up until about 2 weeks ago. Matt had grabbed some Bao in Pike’s Place Market for lunch and we met up as I was out at a Mom’s Bible Study Downtown and then running errands. He grabbed this steamed rice thingie wrapped in lotus leaves. As we were passing it around the car all taking bites, on the second bite I thought I noticed a bit of a seafood taste. I had already hit some soybeans, onions, carrots and Pork, but surely Matt would know not to feed me anything with shellfish. Two bites later Matt hits some Shrimp. From there I proceeded to freak out. What if I’m driving on my errands with three kids in the backseat and have a bad reaction? I didn’t, thankfully. I don’t even think I actually ate any shrimp. But my whole day was thrown off and I had a terrible, yet very familiar stomach ache for the remainder of the afternoon.

Long story short, that got me thinking. I realized that I have spent a vast majority of the past year really struggling with what I can and can’t eat. In the midst of it, it becomes easy to ignore. It comes and goes. It’s irregular in occurrence. It’s not tied to anything specific. I can’t figure it out. Actually, there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to figure it out because I’m too afraid that I will be told I can’t eat X, Y and Z. Or worse yet, that I have to do an elimination diet so I have to get down only being able to eat something horrible like a handful of parsley and a handful of rice everyday for like 10 weeks. So I think I have jut been trying ridiculously hard to avoid dealing with it. The flip side is there are some consecutive days when all I feel like I can eat is rice. Yet I have convinced myself that the adverse effects are somehow better to deal with. It doesn’t help that our awesome Naturopath closed her practice and we’ve been struggling to find a good family practitioner, and now just switched health insurance into a network and are currently trying to find someone new again. Conventional medicine hasn’t been effective here at all. Plus, I’ve been experiencing a few new things in the last month or so that are making me think it might not even be food related at all (I think a big piece of the puzzle is that I have an under-active thyroid, but that’s another story). The big plus side is, it’s been pushing me to find some really good alternatives to still be able to cook really good food even when it feels like I have not options. It has taken a while, but all this food-sensitivity crap has begun to permanently change our diet in a good way. So where are we at with all this? Somewhere in the middle, I guess. Kinda gluten-free, kinda dairy free, kinda all organic. Here’s a glimpse of the goodies we’ve been eating these days:

Fruit has been a big one. We have been eating a ton of fruit. I really crave it and the girls just love it too. Thankfully with summer comes lots of available fruit. We just planted a bunch more strawberry plants & two blueberry bushes in the garden.

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Peppers. Are good.

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Goat Milk Brie. We really don’t miss Cow Dairy at all. I finally figured out how to make a completely cow-dairy free amazing mac-n-cheese. All of our Goat & Sheep cheeses come locally, if not regionally, so we are eating from our immediately surrounding areas. All these farms are far smaller, far less federally regulated and the animals are in far better health than their conventionally raised bovine counterparts.

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Spices. I have been trying new stuff lately. It’s amazing how these can change your cooking.

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Nutella. Okay, it’s one of my weaknesses. It has a ton of refined sugar and skim milk. My goal for by the end of the month? Do some experimentation and figure out how to make my own Nutella. It’s just so good.

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Organic corn on the BBQ. This is how I like to cook all summer long. Grilling keeps the kitchen way cooler, not to mention it’s a breeze to clean up. We are really struggling in this department, as the regulator valve on our gas grill has broken. Matt’s attempts to fix it have fallen flat. Sad. So I have been buying Trader Joe’s Briquettes. Plus, we just planted a bunch of corn in our garden, which I have never grown before. We shall see how that goes.

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These are my attempt at making non-crab Crab Cakes. These were dang good. Way better than I remember crab cakes being. I have included the recipe, which is my own, modified from someone else’s who modified it from real crab cakes. I am convinced these are the meat loaf of the seafood world.

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Salmon Cakes

2 small cans canned salmon (I prefer Sockeye, ours comes from Costco & is about $10 for 3 cans)
2 stalks green onions
1 tbsp canned red bell peppers
2 tbsp diced red onion
1/4 cup Mayonnaise (I prefer Lemonaise, which our friend Andre turned us on to, it’s awesome)
Zest of one lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup organic Panko Breadcrumbs
1/8 cup Wheat Germ flakes
1 tsp crushed Coriander
1 tsp chopped Lemon Thyme
1 tbsp stone ground mustard
salt & pepper
1/3 cup veggie or canola oil for frying

Combine all ingredients except salt, pepper & oil. Mash together and form into silver dollar-sized cakes about 1 1/2 inches thick. Heat oil drizzled in cast iron griddle on medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon cakes w/ salt & pepper, then cook for 3-4 minutes on each side to get a proper crust. I serve these with Japanese mayo (pronounced cue-pee) and a dollop of Shirachi. I am sure a traditional remoulade would do as well.

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Peaches. Yum. The epitome of summertime fruit.

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Baby spring onions, from our garden & homemade Sweet Garlic Hummus sprinkled with Hungarian paprika.

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Olives. Matt and the girls love them. I have about 2 and that meets my olive quota for the month.

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Peach infused lemonade.

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This Arugula Potato Salad was a huge hit. Egg-free, Mayo free. We paired it with hummus sandwiches. Recipe for the salad is below.

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Arugula Potato Salad

2 lbs. small red potato’s (golf-ball size), quartered & steamed
5 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions (or shallots)
1 1/2 tbps white wine vinegar
1 tea freshly ground coriander
1/2 tea freshly ground pepper
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula

Chill potato’s. Meanwhile, saute´onions in 1 tbsp olive oil for 1 minute until tender. Combine onions, the remainder of the oil, vinegar, coriander, pepper & salt in a small bowl, whisking together. Toss potato’s with arugula. Drizzle dressing over and toss to coat.

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