Friday, November 7, 2014

Listen to the bees...

 
If more evidence was needed....bees tell a lot.  Check out this Yahoo.com article.  Think about this in relation to the health of your own body and the food you eat.  If bees are able to be healthier in the midst of toxins when they eat natural foods, might we consider that our bodies respond the same way.  Choose organic!  The evidence is mounting. The soy-based diet fed these bees, was most likely GMO soy (designed to be Glyphosate resistant and containing the Bt toxin). 

"In a study published Oct. 31 in The Journal of Insect Physiology, Grozinger and her colleagues gave test bees a soy-based diet, a no-protein diet, or a natural, varied diet of pollen. At the same time, the bees were given a lethal dose of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, an insecticide frequently used on agricultural crops. After 16 days, they counted which bees survived the longest.
What did they find? Nature does it best.
Bees who ate the natural diet of varied pollen sources survived longer—an average of four days longer—than the bees on artificial diets. While that may not sound like much, Grozinger said it’s actually significant.
“When you think of a whole colony of 50,000 bees, during those four extra days they can contribute to the good of the colony,” she said."

Here's the direct link to the published research article. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022191014001978

Thursday, August 14, 2014

When "the truth"....isn't


Went to Ag Progress Days this week and picked up a brochure by the Soybean Farmers Checkoff group titled "Everything you want to know about GMO's...including the truth". Like other brochures I have seen promoting GMO's, I found an error I ...would like to point out. With issues involving GMO's and GMO food, you absolutely have to be current in your research as a consumer. When you see a statement that says there are "no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of biotech foods" look for the source. They cited World Health Organization, and simply that, no specific source. This is 2014! The point of this is that just today there is a report from China that Chinese students fed GMO rice (with the Bt toxin...which is in our sweet corn and soy!), had a rate of leukemia 3x that of the average population. This is consistent with findings of a 2013 study evaluating the Bt toxin as a genetic modification, showed a detrimental effect on blood. This is certainly evidence consumers should keep in mind when listening to people say how safe GMO's are. They aren't! This is unacceptable and unethical reporting!

Keep this in mind when purchasing foods at the grocery store. When buying sweet corn, buy organic, or if shopping at a farmer's market ask the farmer specific questions about their seed. Any farmer worth his beans will know off the top of their head the name of the seed he used and whether it has insect or herbicide resistant traits. Ask the questions. Be an educated consumer. Educated consumers drive the market.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A long time coming...

...the post sharing the writing project I completed last fall. And, why my findings convinced me that we should completely avoid consuming non-organic corn and soybean products, and will never be spraying Round-up on our lawn (ever!).

After originally turning to a gluten free diet over six years ago to resolve digestive issues in my nursing infant son, it seemed that there was more going on than a simple isolated food sensitivity. It also seemed that many, many other mothers I talked with shared stories of their children having similar intestinal issues, or “reflux”. With my Agriculture/Soils education and research background in agriculture, it made sense to start looking from the ground up (no pun intended) for clues. Was there something going on at the soil/agronomic level that was influencing the foods we were eating (or having to avoid at this point)? For over five years, I conducted literature searches looking for current research, information or clues to an environmental trigger.

This past December was finally the right time to write up all the research I had gathered. New research was coming out every month it seemed, and none of it contradicted what I had been finding. I knew in my gut that there was something going on and the pieces hadn't yet been put together. Celiac rates have been increasing at an alarming rate, and just last month (March 2013) in a Fox News story Dr. Fassano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, noted again that "something in the environment seems to be triggering the various genetic and biological factors that drive celiac disease." The environmental factors behind the increase in celiac have remained elusive thus far.  

Developments in agricultural within the past 25 years have resulted in a majority of crops utilizing new biotechnology; including glyphosate, genetically modified corn containing Baccilus Thuringensis (Bt) and Roundup Ready (RR) genes, and Roundup Ready (RR) Soybeans. Residues from these biotechnologies in the crops have been detected in humans and may provide a clue to the environmental factor.  The potential role of this residue on the increase in celiac and gluten intolerance is what I investigated. A recent study (2011) showed that the retinoic acid cycle could be disrupted in mice, causing celiac.  Interestingly, Glyphosate (commonly known as Round-Up, a weed killer), has been shown to disrupt this very retinoic acid cycle. The result of the literature searches conducted, led me to the thesis that glyphosate and genetic modifications may be a contributing environmental factor in the development of celiac. More details and cited research of what I found are included in the paper.  It is my hope that the information gathered contains clues to the future direction of celiac research, diagnosis, treatment, and potentially prevention.

The paper is titled, Glyphosate and Bt genetic modifications may be a contributing environmental factor in the development of celiac. The clickable link will take you to a .pdf file of the paper that includes all references and citations. 



 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gluten Free Graham Crackers


Gluten Free S'mores!
   The latest recipe challenge came in the form of a campfire for the boys at church.  They were going to be roasting marshmallows and making smores.  This sounds like a lovely chocolaty, sticky fun time for a hoard of boys.  To this mom it brought nervousness, and a challenge.  I could take the easy route and buy the store bought "graham crackers" that frankly taste nothing like real graham crackers and are thick as a fig newton (gluten filled one of course), or I could 'whip up' a homemade graham cracker the boys could take with them.  Easy as pie.....er, or not. 

   Because of the rice-free requirement, I have to tweak even gluten free recipes so I keep a binder to chronicle my recipe 'tweaks'.  I had a failed graham cracker recipe in my binder and knew I at least had a jumping off point.  I decided against a trip to the store, because I had all the ingredients on hand to give it a try (all the while being thankful that there was a back-up option if this recipe tweak was an epic fail). 

  Fortunately, this recipe 'tweak' turned out really well!  It brought back memories of eating those wonderful rectangle shaped cracker cookies out of the plastic wrappers.  The taste and smell were there!  After letting the boys try them, it hit me again that they didn't know what "real" graham crackers taste like.  (moments like that bring pangs of sadness at what they are missing out on by not eating traditional "gluten" foods, quickly replaced by relief that they don't have to eat something that makes them sick.)

  In the end, with the graham crackers from this recipe, my boys were able to join in the fun of marshmallow melted goodness on graham crackers with their friends...burned marshmallow torches and all. :)


aka. stacks of memories
Graham Crackers
 
3/4 cup My Flour Mix (Rice free and Gluten free)
1/4 cup Potato Starch
1 tsp Cinnamon
3 Tbs Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 Tbs Butter (or non-dairy butter substitute like Earth Balance)
 
1- 1 1/2 Tbs Milk (I used SoDelicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)
2 Tbs Honey
 
Blend dry ingredients and grate butter into dry ingredients.  Add milk and honey and stir until combined.  Form ball, flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place dough into freezer for 1 hr, until chilled.  After 1 hr, roll dough to about 1/8" thick.  (thin is best and most authentic, so remember they will get thicker as they bake.)
*Tip: Line baking sheet with parchment paper, and cover dough with saran wrap for easy rolling. 
Don't they look "real"!
After dough is rolled out, bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  The pan may need to be rotated for even browning.  Bake until just lightly browned.  After removing from oven use a chopping knife to square off the edges, and cut the lines for the rectangle shapes.  Use a bread knife to score the lines on the crackers dividing each larger rectangle into four smaller rectangles (with this, just rest the knife down where you want it but don't cut all the way through...think about what the "real" ones look like).  Use a thick cake tester or toothpick to poke two holes in each smaller rectangle (if you want them to look authentic!). :)  When completely cool, gently break along lines resulting in traditional rectangle crackers.  This makes one cookie sheet of crackers, number of crackers depend on size (pictures show one batch).

Other notes:
-Any gluten free flour blend would probably work for this recipe, but I have not tested that.
-Xanthan gum has already been added to my flour mix, so no additional xanthan gum is needed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No-Rise Pizza Crust- Recipe Review from Elizabeth Barbone's newest cookbook

  Imagine this, it has been a busy day and you don't know what to make for dinner.  You ask your kids what they would like and they respond in unison, "Pizza!"  Um yeah.  There are two problems with that, OK three but the third is easily worked out.  The first problem, you eat gluten-free and everyone knows that good  GF pizza is rare.  The second problem, it's close to dinner and there is no time to let a crust rise.  The third problem, you can't have cheese (but that is easily solved thanks to Diaya's Mozz 'cheese').  Imagine this...melt downs all around.  I've seen it, you've seen it...
  In comes Elizabeth Barbone's newest superhero cookbook, How to Cook Gluten-Free: Over 150 Recipes That Really Work. :) 
(like the drama?!)  :)  Today's recipe review is for her No-Rise Pizza Crust.  Now, I'm usually a fan of a nice yeasty raised crust pizza, but that's just not practical on some days.  Having a recipe like this that works, reliably, is great.  And, this one does.  I made it with traditional pizza ingredients; sauce, cheese (Diaya Mozzerella) and pepperoni.  I substituted my Rice Free GF Flour blend for the rice flour, but  still added the tapioca starch.  I wanted to make sure it had enough 'give'.  The boys also gave this one a two thumbs up! :)  That's two for two (or two cubed..two thumbs up, for two recipes, out of two tried) from this cookbook.  My view is that even one staple recipe from a book makes the purchase worthwhile.  This book is definitely one to have.  Oh, this pizza crust is even good reheated the next day for lunch.  Can't beat that!

No-Rise Pizza Crust
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

1)In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients with a fork or small whisk until combined.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry.  Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine until a dough forms.  The dough will be on the dry side.  This is normal.
2)Generously sprinkle your counter with white rice flour.  Turn the dough out onto the counter.  Knead the dough until it is smooth.  If, after kneading for a minute, the dough is still dry and doesn't hold together, add a tablespoon more water.
3)Center the dough on a 16 1/2 by 12 1/2 inch piece of parchment paper.  Dust the dough generously with white rice flour.  Roll out the dough until it covers the parchment paper.
4)Set a rimmed baking sheet very close to the rolled-out crust.  Grab the corners of one of the long sides of the parchment paper and slide the crust into the pan.  Do this quickly. 
5)Top and bake as directed in the recipe.
Makes one pizza crust.

*I substituted my Rice Free GF Flour blend for the rice flour, but  still added the tapioca starch.  I wanted to make sure it had enough 'give'.  I also did not use the xanthan gum since my flour blend already has it added.

  Once again Elizabeth Barbone has not disappointed with this new cookbook; recipes that work, for people who by default see food as something they can't have is priceless.  She is making food dreams come true for those avoiding gluten. For more great recipes like this pizza crust, and the powdered sugar donut muffins recipe I reviewed yesterday, check out her cookbook!
 

"Powdered Sugar Doughnut" Muffins - From Elizabeth Barbone's Newest Cookbook!

I had the amazing opportunity to preview a few recipes from the newest cookbook by Elizabeth Barbone, How to Cook Gluten Free: Over 150 Recipes That Really Work. She is one of my favorite cookbook authors, and Easy Gluten Free Baking was one of my first gluten free cookbooks. She really puts thought into each and every recipe, and that thought goes into her cookbooks too. I mean, how many gluten free cookbooks are spiral bound so they lay flat on the counter?! And, the pictures look so yummy! I love cookbooks that have pictures. The recipes are 'normal' food that taste like Betty Crocker. This cookbook has breakfast, dinner, dessert, and other special recipes. So, I was excited to try some recipes from her newest cookbook!
I decided to try the Powdered Sugar Doughnut Muffins recipe first. Mainly, because I love powdered sugar donuts. Yum! Frying just two or three at a time can be time consuming though. When I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. I substituted my flour mix for the flour components (because I avoid rice) and they turned out really, really well. The boys gave them two thumbs up. When I gave one to my husband(who doesn't avoid gluten) to try, he ate it and then said, "I could eat all of them!" LOL! :) So, if you walk by those sugar donut holes at the grocery store, this recipe will be one you want to try....like now! See my notes at the end of the recipe for my variations from the cookbook recipe. And for a special treat, scroll all the way down to the bottom.
"Powdered Sugar Doughnut" Muffins
Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

1 package (1 pound) Powdered Sugar

1)Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350`F. Lightly grease the cavities of a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (I used olive oil)
2)In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter will be thin.
3)Fill the muffin cavities about half full, Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown.
4)While the muffins are baking, fill an 8-inch square baking dish with the powdered sugar.
5)Remove the muffins from the oven and working in batches, place them directly into the powdered sugar. Gently roll the muffins in the sugar to cover them. The stream from the hot muffins will make the sugar stick to the muffins. Remove the muffins from the sugar and tap off any excess. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 mini muffins.

My recipe changes/comments:
*I sprayed the muffin pan with olive oil instead of cooking spray. Worked fine.
*I subbed my Rice Free GF Flour blend for the white rice, cornstarch and sweet rice flour. Total 1 1/2 cups my flour blend.
*For the milk I subbed SoDelicious Coconut Milk.
*It actually made more than 24 mini muffins...which was great! I made 24 mini muffins, and 6 regular muffins.
*For a super duper easy way to coat the muffins with sugar, dump about 2 cups of powdered sugar into a lunchbag sized paper bag. Then put about 6 muffins at a time in the bag, hold the top closed and shake the bag gently to coat all the muffins in sugar. Repeat proccess with remaining muffins.

*For extra special donuts, after coating in sugar, fill with raspberry jam. These are the leftover batter made in the regular size muffin pan. My husband LOVED these. LOL!

Go buy the cookbook for more great recipes like this! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Waffles - Gluten and Dairy Free style

Using a belgian waffle maker this recipe makes 12 full size waffles.  Enough for dinner, um I mean breakfast, with just a few to freeze.  The recipe can easily be halved.  I have never actually made this recipe with real buttermilk.  I always use the Coconut milk with vinegar.  These waffles easily pass as "real" waffles.
A tip: be sure to use Olive Oil to avoid waffles sticking to the waffle iron.

Waffles
6 eggs
3 1/2 cups Buttermilk (or ~2 tsp vinegar in measuring cup and fill to 3 1/2 cups with SoDelicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
3/4 cup Light Olive Oil

3 1/2 cups My GF Flour Blend (rice based, or no rice based)
4 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp salt

Heat waffle irons, and cook until desired cripness.  Makes 12 waffles.