Monday, March 28, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Lime

Well I'm still on my elimination diet, and I've been cooking up a storm! I have some blogging catchup to do; unfortunately Emily has been in and out of hospitals and doctors' offices so updating this blog has become lower on my list of priorities.

During her "well" times, I find creating new recipes to be relaxing, rewarding, and fun. Since I am currently avoiding wheat/gluten, soy, nuts, and most seeds, it's been challenging to find scrumptious, nutrient-dense meals that will satisfy, produce optimal breastmilk, and taste delicious.

Tonight I mixed it up a little: I made dry-saute potatoes from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (an 800-page book that is most definitely in my top 10 cookbook collection), spicy collard greens, and this tangy, yummy quinoa salad.

I make quinoa every week. Usually I throw in sun-dried tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and salt and pepper... sometimes other raw veggies that are aging in the crisper. This time I incorporated pomegranate seeds that I found at Trader Joes on Saturday, and I created a dressing I thought might complement them well. Here's the recipe. (Note it's salt free -- this is one of the few grain-based recipes that, in my opinion, doesn't need salt!)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
about 1/2 - 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 small or 1 large stalk celery, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil

Cook the quinoa in the water according to package directions. Fluff and allow to cool.

Add pom seeds, sunflower seeds, and celery; toss.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, agave, vinegar, and olive oil.

Drizzle over quinoa and toss well.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Soy-free, wheat-free, nut-free vegan breakfasts

Now that I'm following a diet free of so many wonderful yummy and nutritious things, people often ask "what's left?"

I would like to share some of my favorite products and recipes. Starting with breakfast.

Most days I start out with a bowl of oatmeal. Some people say that oatmeal is not gluten-free (and I'm not avoiding all gluten, but it is an issue so I'll mention it here), but the reason that it traditionally has not been free of gluten is due to contamination with wheat. In fact, oats made in dedicated GF facilities can be sold as "GF Oats." More on this here.

But, if oatmeal doesn't agree with you, you can always start the day with creamy millet and/or amaranth (make with a 1:4 ratio of grain to water for a creamier consistency).

On top of the oatmeal go my obligatory fruits: sliced strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Ground flax seeds go on next (note: I'm not eating sesame seeds, since my son is allergic and allergies run in families. But I am enjoying flax). I top it off with coconut beverage (Silk and So Delicious are 2 easily available brands), rice milk, or hemp milk.

On days I prefer a cold cereal, there are a ton of options. From crispy brown rice to GF flake cereal, I've tried several. When I want something a little sweet, I reach for Nature's Path Sunrise cereal (pictured above). I love this cereal! I also have been enjoying several wheat-free, nut-free granolas, my favorite being New England Naturals Omega Hemp & Flax. I like making a breakfast parfait with plain coconut yogurt (very sweet for a plain yogurt), berries, and granola.

Breakfast is pretty easy, once you have your allergy-free options in your fridge and pantry. And these days there's no shortage of choice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sick children change everything!

Where have I been, you ask? Why, taking care of Emily! The poor little thing has had quite a year so far. She is doing much better (see her sweet smiling face) but for a while there she had us pretty scared. After 5 hospital admissions and a slew of tests (including a brain MRI!), doctors still have no idea what was plaguing her.

It all began after a 10-day round of antibiotics given for a mild staph infection in late December (doctors in Florida, where we were visiting, were a bit aggressive and gave her broad-spectrum IV antibiotics). I believe that her problems were a direct result of the antibiotics, but there's really no way to prove that one way or the other.

One of her symptoms was severe vomiting, so the pediatric gastroenterologist advised me to stop nursing and give Emily an elemental formula (one based not on soy or dairy protein but built up from amino acids, oil, sugar, and vitamins/minerals). That recommendation felt like a slap in the face, given my commitment to breastfeeding and knowing that with all that she was going through, at least she was getting the benefits of my milk. I did understand that doing the switch would assist in diagnosing her with a food allergy, and, as science-minded as I am, I do have to admit that I was very happy when she refused the formula (even when she was starving due to having had fasted for a test). To make a VERY long story short, she is still being breastfed (exclusively) and never had any formula. And she has vomited only once in the last 3 weeks, a marked improvement.

No one knows whether she has food allergies. I do know that she tolerated my milk just fine for 5 months without as much as a spit-up, but in case she suddenly developed one or more (due to the antibiotics), I went on a strict elimination diet. For several weeks now, I have followed a diet devoid of soy, gluten, nuts, seeds, caffeine, and alcohol.

I have been cooking quite a bit and have created some wonderful low-allergen vegan recipes.

Being a vegan never felt that much like a sacrifice, since vegan food is so delicious, but I have to say, once you omit the wheat and soy (and nuts and sesame seeds) it gets pretty challenging. I am looking forward to being able to re-introduce some of these foods!

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying bean soups, GF pastas, fruits, GF granolas, rice products, chilis, and Indian curries.

So for a while, this blog will feature vegan, soy-free, gluten-free recipes. Stay tuned!