Thursday, July 31, 2008

Whole Grains

There are several whole grains that are as nutritious or more nutritious than wheat.
I've prepared whole grain quinoa, teff, and amaranth by boiling in water. They each are very nutritious and each have unique flavors.

Amaranth is the strongest flavored. I haven't grown used to it to eating it in very large amounts. But it's not a bad flavor, just different. There are spices that can complement the flavor, I think I've heard. I think cinnamon is one. I've not experimented much with that.

Quinoa can be utilized in meals like rice. I've made yummy stir fries with it(vegetables, chicken, and soy sauce). I also like quinoa boiled in chicken broth and chicken boullion, seasoned with basil, garlic, and onion, added to yellow, red, and green peppers and chicken cut into strips. make sure you rinse quinoa thorougly before cooking. You can use a colander or sieve. I've just purchased quinoa flakes, and read on the box that it's great for infants and children. It can be used as a cereal, or used in baking.

Teff is good just boiled in water and prepared like cream of wheat, with sugar or honey and cinnamon added.

Amaranth can be purchased in a puffed form. I have come across a recipe for puffed amaranth that has a sweet, crisp glaze. I have tried puffed Kamut(an ancient form of wheat, which some allergic to wheat may tolerate), and enjoy it out of the bag, without an salt or sweetener added. Try some of these whole grains! There are many more, too. They can be used as hot cereals or ground into flour or cooked as part of a meal.

Send some recipes utilizing these grains or others!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Banana Muffins

My toddler's favorite muffin recipe so far. I altered a Better Homes and Gardens Banana Muffins recipe, and have a product just about like the wheat version!

1/2 cup oat flour(grind oats in a blender)
1/2 cup rice flour(can use brown or white or both)
3/4 cup Soul Dog Gluten-free Baking Mix *
1 tablespoon Arrowroot Powder(can do without or substitute cornstarch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dairy-free chocolate chips(Enjoy Life has some mini ones that work well for my daughter)

2 Tablespoons flaxmeal + water to equal 1/3 cup (blend and let sit until gummy)
1/2 cup soy milk
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup cooking oil

Combine dry ingredients. Make a well in center of dry mixture. Combine wet ingredients. Add to dry mixture, and stir just until moistened. Makes about 10-12 muffins. Bake 375 degrees, 25 minutes. Best when warm(Rehead in microwave).

*Soul Dog is a restaurant that offers gluten-free goods
Gluten-Free Baking Mix can be found via the website.

Gluten-Free Baking Mix:

2 1/3 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 c sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Store in airtight container.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Toddler's Creation: "Turkey Wraps"

My two-year old daughter has been very interested in "wraps" lately. My husband and I eat a lot of wraps over the summer, and she's been fine with us eating the wheat tortilla wraps while she eats something else. But lately, she's wanted wraps, too. I haven't made tortillas for her yet that she's liked. But she's very interested in wraps! So she's been making up ways to have them. A wrap, to her, can simply be a rolled up deli chicken slice. But she does like something inside. Yesterday, I put lettuce and tomatoes inside a rolled up turkey slice. Today, as we gave her rice and some deli turkey, she decided she wanted a wrap. She creatively placed her rice inside the thinly-sliced meat and rolled it up. Pretty good! I also realized that nutritiously, her creation is similar to a wrap we eat, but inside-out. We eat the complex carbohydrate(the bread) on the outside, and the meat inside. She was having the meat outside and the complex carbohydrate inside!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Seeds and Beef have potential problems?

In "Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies(2006)," by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., I learned that sesame and poppy seeds seem to cause severe allergic reactions for some. Seeds such as sunflower and flax seed have varying amounts of proteins, and the amount of seeds eaten can make a difference as to if a reaction develops. The author doesn't say how common this is or how likely. I believe I've seen sunflower seed on a list of "The 20 Least Allergenic Foods," on a couple of different internet sites. I've thought that sunflower seed and flax seed were quite safe to substitute in place of peanuts or tree nuts, and maybe they usually are, but it's good to know that they may be the problem, if I see my daughter eating a baked good I've made and she gets an unexplained rash. UPDATE Nov 2010- my daughter is just fine eating baked goods I've made with flaxseed. Sunflower seeds have been fine for her, but there was one particular brand that she developed a noticeable rash and hives- I think it was cross contamination issues with nuts. I have not bought sunflower seeds for her since, as her nut allergies are worse, and I don't want any that are packaged on the same equip as tree nuts.

Beef, says Sicherer(p. 66), may cause reactions if your child has cow's milk allergies, particularly if the beef isn't cooked well. About 10% of children with severe cow's milk allergies react to beef. This is because beef retains some cow's milk proteins. Another thing to keep in mind if my daughter is eating beef and I notice a rash. (I sometimes notice rashes on her face and am frustrated, thinking, what was it that she ate that she's reacting to?!")UPDATE Nov 2010: I haven't had issues with my daughter eating beef. I have since realized that even her being around her allergens and touching, then ingesting, she can get a rash.

Helpful Ideas for my Toddler's Meals!

I published a while ago that my 2 year old really doesn't care a lot about the new foods I try to bake for her, at least a lot of the time. She's cycled from being happy with lots of hot dogs, to lots of dry potato pearls, to lots of chicken drumsticks, etc. But sometimes she does seem to tire of the same foods. She does have little variety sometimes. Giving her much variety at all seems to take extra planning and time and can seem overwhelming, at least for me, when I have my hands full with a 2 1/2 year old and a 10 month old. So I was happy to read some ideas in a very helpful book I've been reading, " Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies," Scott H. Sicherer, M.D. On a quick side note, I highly recommend this book! Check it out from your library or buy it online. It's full of information about allergies and has several practical ideas for helping to manage your child's allergies, at home, school, and elsewhere.

Anyway, a toddler was a picky eater, and his diet was very limited to begin with. He was on a special formula, could eat one type of meat, and then several fruits and vegetables. He started to refuse to eat his sweet potatoes, which were always prepared mashed. The doctor recommended letting him choose his own utensils, plate, cup, and bowl. He also had plates with pictures that he could see as he got to the bottom of his plate. And the sweet potatoes were prepared in a variety of ways, including french-fried, diced, and even cut into cookie cutter shapes!

My two-year-old has been having a hard time eating very much food at all, at least at a time. I know that can be a typically toddler problem, but hers had gotten worse. I thought that she was tired of her same food, and could use variety. I tried the cookie-cutter sweet potato idea, and it was a great success! We cut out the shapes together. I sliced the potatoes and pressed the cookie cutter down, then she'd remove the shape and place it on a plate, then I'd deep fry a batch in a frying pan. I let her watch, taking care to keep her away from the hot oil. She loved the shapes! She ate a lot in one sitting(well, most of the time she was standing next to me as I was making them, and eating). She ate more food in one sitting than she had in a long time!

So, to get variety, you don't always need to find a new food! You can find various ways to serve the same item, and a toddler even gets some variety and fun out of choosing his own dishes!

An Example of How to Alter a Recipe

My Mom's Banana Nut Bread
1/2 c margarine
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
4 bananas
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups wheat flour 1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c nuts

My Alterations:

1/2 c margarine: 1/2 c vegetable oil

4 eggs:
for 1 egg: 1 tsp baking powder, 1 T vinegar, 1 T water
for 3 eggs: 1/4 c flaxmeal + 1/2 c water

Explanation: This is a lot of eggs to substitute! I thought I'd use the 1 tsp baking powder, 1 T vinegar, 1 T water mix that I've mentioned on my "egg substitutes" post. I chose the baking powder substitute because I thought it'd help prevent too much soda taste, as the recipe already calls for baking soda. I imagine the soda mix would probably work just fine. I really would like to learn more about baking soda v baking powder, if anybody knows about their properties and best uses. At any rate, either of the b soda or b powder combinations are to work for 1-3 eggs. I don't want to double these amounts- too much baking powder definitely doesn't give a pleasant taste! So I use the flaxmeal/water substitute for for 3 of the eggs. The amount of flax and water is the amount to substitute for 2 eggs, doubled(a little more than doubled for the water). So I have substitute proportions for 5 eggs. When altering recipes, you want to try to keep wet to dry proportions roughly the same. But I do have a little extra of the dry ingredients as well, in adding the xanthan and arrowroot on top of 3 cups of flour.

There are lots of ways this recipe could be changed. Really, I have the extra baking powder to make up for leavening properties of egg, and I could just use an extra banana to make up for a couple eggs, and this would help with the binding. (see my substituting eggs post). I don't think the flax is necessary. But I like the "nutty" flavor it contributes, and the nutrition it adds(if it's enough to count!). It is an excellent "binder", too, but then, bananas are binders as well.

3 cups wheat flour:

1 c soul dog gluten-free mix(garbanzo-bean based mix you can make) 1 c oat flour(just grind quick oats or old fashioned oats) in blender 1 cup rice flour(I use 1/2 brown, 1/2 white, or all brown, for nutrition)
1 T arrowroot starch (or tapioca flour)
1 tsp xanthan gum

Explanation: With the experimenting I've done, I like the flavor and texture of about 1/3 garbanzo bean flour mix(soul dog's recipe), 1/3 rice flour, and 1/3 oat flour, for muffins and banana cookies and banana bread. When making blueberry muffins, the oat and rice combination rose pretty well, was fluffier than muffins baked only with the garbanzo mix. They were, however, a little "gritty," and the muffins were pretty flavorless. Muffins made only with garbanzo bean mix(soul-dog gluten-free mix) had great flavor and a moist texture, but a little compact. In the rice flour I include a little tapioca flour or arrowroot because it's supposed to help with lightness and moisture. The xanthan gum is to help make up for lack of gluten. It is to provide structure to help the bread to rise.

You could experiment without the tapioca and xanthan gum. I read that cornstarch can be used instead of tapioca or arrowroot. Or maybe, because of the bananas and flax in the recipe, the arrowroot doesn't play an essential part in lightening and adding moisture to the product. (though it does seem to promote a little springy-ness and crispness in the crust). For now, I include it. In my alternate flours post, I include rules of thumb for adding arrowroot and xanthan gum. I used less arrowroot than the rule of thumb, and less xanthan gum than seemingly more common rules of thumb, as well. But these amounts seem to be be sufficient.

I may still experiment with this recipe, especially to see if it can be successful without expensive ingredients not commonly stocked in people's homes: the xanthan gum, arrowroot, flaxseed meal. I think it has potential to be good without them, as it's flavorful and moist because of the bananas. But I really enjoy it how it is. It's flavorful, has a chewy/crisp crust, some "spring," and a moist inside. (Do let me know if you tweak it and have succesful results).

"Homebaker's" new altered recipe:

See post titled "Banana Bread"