Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hungry for Hummus —The New Diet Isn't So Hard

 The Best Ever: Nut 'n' Curry Hummus

I've had cravings for hummus in the past and it's not surprising that I'd have them again, especially since I am now limited in my overall food choices (since I started an elimination/anti-inflammatory diet) and it's something I can eat and enjoy with a rye cracker, carrot stick, or even by the spoonful! It's that good. Maybe it's the almond butter in it that brings it over the top. I also like it mixed on my salad in place of an oil & vinegar dressing.

I've bought several store brands as well as some homemade varieties at the health food market—some I loved, some were not so tasty. I made a boxed hummus once, and I've used hummus flour, and they were OK, but I decided to make my own when I found this recipe from The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book. Thanks to Dr. Jen (Harrison Optimal Health) for getting me going in a more focused direction! I'll explain more about me in a minute, but here's this delicious recipe (tweaked just a bit):

Nut 'n' Curry Hummus

3 cups garbanzo beans (2 cans)
1/4 cup liquid from garbanzo beans
1/3 cup tahini (a sesame paste)
3 garlic cloves minced or pressed
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I substituted half this amount of apple cider vinegar)
3 tbsp filtered water (I needed to add a little more)
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tsps curry powder
Paprika and parsley garnish
(I added 1/8 of a sweet red pepper, and you can experiment with add-ins)

Blend in high-powered blender until smooth (may add water to get right consistency—it's thick).

There are other recipes that call for presoaking chickpeas in water for 2-3 days (2 cups peas makes for 3 cups in the recipe). You could do this for an uncooked raw hummus version.

What's this about a new diet?

My Naturopath, Dr. Jen, tested me for Hashimoto's Disease, a common reason for hypothyroidism in this country, and sure enough I have this auto-immune disease where antibodies are set on destroying the components that make thyroid hormone in my body. My immune system is attacking my thyroid gland! The anti-inflammatory nature of the new diet along with an elimination diet to find out which foods I am either allergic or sensitive to will, in the long run, reduce the inflammation in my body along with the causative number of antibodies being produced. A lot of the symptoms I've experienced in the last year, including my osteoarthritis condition are most likely all related to inflammation of some degree.

I've known for awhile that this was something I needed to do and I could only seem to go a week with not eating wheat and I still wanted that daily cappuccino (I have been free of cheese and most dairy for months), but since I have a good reason and the doctor told me to, I've found it easy to stick to and it's been one of those blessings in disguise.

NOT ALLOWED right now: wheat, dairy (butter, cheese, milk, yogurt), eggs, soy, peanuts, sugar, juices, sodas, most oils (olive and coconut OK), corn, potatoes, tomatoes, citrus, beef, shellfish, lobster, clams (I can eat some tuna or wild salmon), and no conventional meats or processed foods.

After 3-4 weeks when my symptoms are gone (I still get some headaches) I can reintroduce these single foods (one at a time) and I'll discover what I do and don't react to and what I can or should not eat. Simple!

I'm feeling great with more energy at the 3 week point and I've lost 10 pounds easily during that time. I have not starved myself, on the contrary, I eat whatever I feel like eating, quite a few times a day, but yeah, only within my allotted food choices. I'm guessing that wheat and dairy are the biggies for me and I DO NOT want to even try reintroducing those back in, but just stay away from them.

I've been experimenting with some different grains that I can eat. Here is a quinoa breakfast I had:

 Warm Quinoa with Walnuts and Cinnamon

And surprise—Jeremie loved it! He's having to eat whole grains to help control a blood sugar related problem. I've also made spelt pancakes and spelt bread which I wouldn't eat but a small portion of (one pancake or once slice of bread/day). No, these are not raw foods, but nevertheless, healthier versions of the allowable cooked portions of my meals.

Hey, I'm also psyched in that I applied for an RN position Friday that sounds almost a perfect fit for me, being that I quit nursing so long ago. But I love learning about the science of medicine and nursing and being involved in helping people. I'm praying it's going to work out. God's timing and intervention is no joke to me, and His hand is directing my life.

P.S. July 27th, 2012
That RN position never materialized though it was nice to know I was seriously considered a candidate for it. I decided not to pursue allopathic nursing at this stage of my life and I took a nice, un-stressful job in a lawyer's office. Anyway, I'm having fun learning lots of things and doing some writing that I've wanted to do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Raw Healthy Treats for Valentine Sweets

Today is Valentines Day. I love to scrounge in the kitchen and cook up something sweet and gooey and chocolaty for my hubby and family. But we don't need the high sugar content and I do want healthy—and raw makes it even better. What did I come up with?

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Chocolate macaroons are to be savored, and these are tasty as can be! Raw ingredients, shaped, and dehydrated, with a slightly crusty outside (similar to a baked product) and a delicious choco-coconutty inside.

I modified a recipe from Live Raw by Mimi Kirk.

2 cups flaked coconut (unsweetened)
3/4 cup raw almond meal or flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey, agave, or brown rice syrup (I used a mixture of honey and rice syrup)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp raw cocoa powder (or substitute carob)

In food processor:
Process coconut, almond meal and salt till blended. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse till mixed well. Make small rounded shapes in your hands and flatten the bottom on a nonstick dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate at 110 degrees for 10 hours. 
Options: You could dip these in melted chocolate if you want or leave out the cocoa powder and add almond extract for a different taste.

Then I decided to make:

Apricot Squares

I found a recipe that used dried apricots which I had on hand. This recipe is from an E-Book: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: Guilt Free Desserts for the Whole Family (I don't know where I purchased it from and I can't easily find it online, but it's an awesome raw recipe book). I have modified it (like I do practically everything). It has a bit of a buttery-crunchy bottom and top layer (pecan crumble mixture) and an apricot-banana sweet center, and loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals and fiber. (JJ gave this a thumbs up)

Bottom (and top) Layer:
Process these ingredients until you get a crumb-like consistency:

1 cup raw pecan pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs sucanat
1 cup almond meal
1/3 cup honey (or agave)
1/4 cup raw coconut oil
1/4 cup raw coconut manna
1/2 cup raw flaked coconut
1/2 tsp salt

Place half of mixture aside for topping. Press half onto 9 x 9 inch glass pan and refrigerate.

Place the following ingredients into food processor and process until mixed well:

1 cup dried apricots, soaked for 2 hours and then drained
2 bananas
1/3 cup dried cane juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tbsp psyllium husk powder
1/4 tsp salt

Spread apricot mixture onto bottom layer in pan. Sprinkle the pecan crumb mixture you have set aside on top. Refrigerate. Cut into squares. Yummy!

I hope your Valentine's Day was a delightfully healthy and loving one!