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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rice, Lentil and Olive Salad

This has to be one of my favourite salads in my cookbook and since I really felt like it today, despite the snowy weather I decided to make it and share the recipe with you.. So just as I was about to finish the recipes I realized I didn't have any olives in the house and the snow was swirling around outside and I had no inclination to go to the store so I simply made it with out.. I did add a little more sea salt though because I knew I wouldn't have the salty olives in there.

So here you go

Rice, Lentil and Olive Salad
Free of dairy, wheat, yeast, eggs, corn, sugar, soy, nuts, nightshades and gluten

1 cup basmati rice (250ml)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown or green lentils (250ml)
1/2 onion
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives (175ml)
1/2 tsp sea salt (2ml)
1/2 tsp pepper (1ml)

3 tbsp olive oil (45ml)
2 tbsp lemon juice (30ml)
2 tbsp dijon or yellow mustard (30ml)
1 tsp thyme (5ml)
4 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

To cook rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, garlic, salt and pepper and bring again to a boil and cover. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender.
Allow rice to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile rinse lentils and bring 4 cups of water to a boil with half an onion and bay leaves. Add lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Don't overcook or they will go mushy.
Drain lentils and discard bay leaves. I like to just mash in the cooked onion to give the lentils a little flavour. The onion has mostly dissolved with cooking. Set lentils aside to cool. In a bowl whisk together olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, thyme and shallots.
Add cooled lentils into the rice. Add dressing and olives. Salt and pepper to taste.Mix and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gluten Free Crispies

When I first went gluten-free I was missing treat. I found it easy to make gluten free options for lunch and dinner but breakfast and snacks I found a little more challenging.

This is one of my favourite go to treats, especially when I want to make something quick that does not call for a lot of ingredients.

They are like healthy rice crispie squares

Here is what you will need

2 cups puffed rice- or you can use puffed amaranth, puffed quinoa, puffed bukwheat
1/2 -3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup raisins- or dried cranberries or dried cherries or currants
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter ( for nut free try tahini, sunflower butter or wow butter)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut

Puffed rice is the healthy option to rice krispies. It has no added sugar. You can find it in a health food store or the healthy aisle in your local grocery store. A good brand is Nature's Path.

Place rice and peanut butter in a sauepan and heat. Do not boil. Place all other ingredients in a bowl and pour hot rice syrup over the ingredients and mix in. Line an 8X8 square pan with waxed paper and place mixture into pan. Put in fridge to set and cut into squares and enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Where Gluten Can Hide!

Think you are living Gluten Free? Better check, as gluten can be hiding in places you would never think of.
Hidden Gluten or Hidden Wheat: Names to watch out for
-          Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn
-          Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour
-          Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn
-          Malt or Malt Flavouring unless derived from corn
-          Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used
-          Vegetable Gum unless vegetable gums are carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xanthan gum, or vegetable starch
-          Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids unless you know they do not contain wheat Tamari, is wheat free soy sauce- available at your health food store
-          Any of the following words on food labels usually means that a grain containing gluten has been used; stabilizer, starch, flavouring, emulsifier, hydrolysed plant protein

Some products that you would never think of may also contain gluten so always start by reading labels. Let your pharmacist know that you need to avoid gluten as some medications and supplements contain gluten. Even toothpaste, shampoos and makeup may contain gluten. Instant coffee, soy sauce, spices can all contain trace amounts of gluten.
Going to be doing your own baking? Now you want to know what you can use that is gluten free.
Here is a helpful chart of gluten free flours you can use when baking and the equivalent amounts needed to substitute for wheat flour.
1 cup wheat flour = 1 cup millet flour
          1 cup cassava flour
                                  ¾ cup brown rice flour
                                  1 cup sorghum flour
                                 ¾ cup quinoa or amaranth flour
                                  1 cup almond flour or other nut flour
When making muffins with gluten free flour, add in 1 teaspoon of guar gum or xanthan gum, per cup of flour used.
For gluten free muffins I like to use a mixture of chickpea flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot and potato starch. See muffin recipes in my cookbook, Finally Food I Can Eat, that use this mixture.
Almond flour works well in baked goods and gives you that added protein in your muffins or cookies.
For more information and help to go gluten free visit my website at
twitter @sherrecipes
facebook  Finally Food I Can Eat

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why is there a Tim Hortons at the Heart Institute?

Today was my first visit to the Ottawa Heart Institute. As I was early for my appointment, I sat in my car for a few minutes  listening to an audio CD. As I watched the people come and go on Ruskin Ave and in and out of the heart institute I was struck by what a busy place this was. What was going on in our world that this building had such activity? Oh now I remember, heart disease the number one killer in Canada.
As a 46 year old woman who has struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and food allergies most of my life, I am lucky that I am thin and due to my allergies. I eat a healthy diet filled with organic vegetables and fruits,  organic meats, flax crackers, nuts, seeds and only distilled water.
With the onset of early menopause I have experienced heart palpitations, so today a trip to the Heart Institute for a 48 hour halter monitor to see if perhaps my migraine medication is causing issues with my heart or if it is only sensations due to menopause.
As I am a nutritionist and a cookbook author, I have studied in the field of nutrition and have had the great joy of learning from some top Integrative Medical Doctors in our area.
Recently I have read the Wheat Belly written by Dr. William Davis and due to being Celiac I have been off wheat and gluten for the better part of eight years. As Dr. Davis mentions in his book, 2 slices of whole wheat bread increases our insulin more than 2 teaspoons of sugar does. He also notes in his book that due to the change in our wheat over 50 years ago, most of us are unable to digest wheat and that is causes excess inflammation in our bodies.. 
What is heart disease? Inflammation.
When I walked into the Heart Institute I took in the scene in the front foyer. People sitting waiting for someone to pick them up, a table to the left full of some sort of sugary cake available to the public, and a Tim Hortons in the back corner where patients, doctors and nurses ordered sugary baked goods and coffee to keep them going through their day. I stopped and said out loud, “ I can’ t believe there is a Tim Hortons in The Heart Institute, this is so wrong. A woman beside me laughed and I realized to myself that I said this out loud. I wanted to scream from the rafters, what are you people doing?? Trying to kill yourselves?
Now I am not trying to bad mouth Tim Hortons, as it is only one of the many fast food chains out there, but why in heaven would the Heart Institute allow a fast food chain on their grounds? There is nothing healthy about anything that Tim Hortons serves. Muffins ladened with sugar and fat, lates, coffee, and doughnuts are not going to bring anyone wellness.
We have an epidemic of overweight and diabetic people in this country, really in this Hemisphere and our top doctors and Institutes see nothing wrong with coffee and doughnuts for lunch or afternoon snack?
Perhaps it is that we want to keep our doctors working and our Pharmaceutical companies rich so why not continue to feed our sick and overweight with unhealthy food?
A comment was made to me the other day that medical students have little or no education about diet and that it really doesn’t come up in conversation when a doctor has a consult with a patient. Does this not send up a red flag in anyone’s mind?
How are we to get healthier as a nation if we don’t first start with what we are putting in our mouths?
How much money is spent on someone who needs bypass surgery only so they can get into a wheelchair go down the elevator and buy a food item that is going to once again clog their arteries or send their insulin soaring so that their next visit to the hospital will be due to diabetes.
I have heard on a few occasions that hospital food is certainly not there to make anyone healthy? Why is that?
Could we start to practice prevention instead of just putting bandaids on our sick?
If I pull up Tim Hortons website and check out the caloric information based on their menu, a s’more’s donut and a fruit smoothie equals 450 calories, 14 grams of fat, 52 grams of sugar. Estimating that the average 70 year old should consume 1600 calories a day and no more than 30 grams of fat, they are already at half the daily amount of fat with just 1 donut and 1 smoothie. Imagine if they were to have 2 donuts?  Let’s say they have a chicken Caesar sandwich and an iced cappuccino for lunch while waiting for their cardiologist. Calories: 900, Fat:24 grams, Sugar:56grams. So in one meal at the Hospital they have almost surpassed their fat allowance and have eaten more than half their calories for the day.
Does this not seem wrong to you who practice medicine and who swore an oath the heal?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Creamy Zucchini Soup

Today for my lunch I made a quick and easy creamy zucchini soup. Here is the recipe for you to try. Let me know how you liked it.
Visit me on my facebook page, Finally Food I Can Eat or on twitter @sherrecipes

5 medium sized zucchini, sliced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 leek, sliced
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
handful of fresh cilantro or spinach
sea salt
In large soup pot with a little olive oil, cook onions and leeks until soft. Add in zucchini, garlic and herbs and cook for a few minutes. Add enough water to cover the zucchini. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add  in fresh cilantro or spinach - do not cook anymore, you want the cilantro to be raw. Puree with hand held blender. Enjoy

My new favourite thing that is not health related, but likely improves my health!

The newest member of my family is my favourite thing these days. In some ways he is good for my health, as he gets me out walking everyday and he reminds me to live in the moment.

His name is Buddy, and we rescued him from a dog rescue shelter three months ago.

This past summer we had to put our beloved Comet down. He was a golden retriever, cocker spaniel mix and really the best dog in the world. He kept me going on many occasions when I was so sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, that I wanted just to give up living. I knew that I had to keep going for Comet, as there was no one else who could look after him.

 I adopted Comet from my sister, when Comet was six years old and that was twelve years ago. He had chased a squirrel up at their cottage and got hit and dragged by a car and had extensive injuries that were going to require a lot of hands on care. My sister at that time had two young children and she and her husband worked full time and the money that Comet’s surgery was going to cost was out of the question for them. My wonderful father stepped in and said he would pay the vet bills so that I could look after Comet. It was the best answer, as Comet got to stay in the family and live on. It took almost a year of care for Comet to get back on his legs and heal his torn skin, but he did thrive after that with all the love that my family gave to him. I felt so blessed to have him in my life and grateful to my wonderful father who helped with all Comet’s expenses. Comet was truly a gift from God.

This summer we knew Comet’s time was coming to an end as he had really slowed down this past year. Whether you are rich or poor, single or married with a family, it is a tough thing to say goodbye to your best buddy. When the time came, we knew we were doing the right thing and whether you believe in a higher power or not, I know that Comet is happy and chasing squirrels wherever he is now.

Last month I started to look at dog rescue sights and within two weeks I saw this picture of an adorable little dog. I have always had larger type dogs and didn’t know if I wanted a small dog, but something drew me to Buddy and before I knew it my husband and I were driving the hour from our home to pick him up.
Buddy is approximately two years old. He is part Terrier, Yorkie I think, and he has the best disposition. Whoever had him was good to him as he has no fears and is a well adjusted dog.
We learned that he had come all the way from Kentucky and thanks to a wonderful woman who runs a dog shelter, Buddy got a second chance. She was able to bring him from Kentucky to her kennel where she then advertised him on her facebook page. This is how I came to see his beautiful, sweet face on my computer screen.

We are forever grateful to her for bringing Buddy to her kennel and advertising him online so that we now are graced with his presence in our home.

Buddy loves to chase squirrels and play with his toys. My husband takes Buddy for runs every night and once again, I have a dog that has more energy than I do. Perhaps this is good; it gets me out for walks and enables me to live in the moment as all dogs do. I feel so blessed to have a dog in my life once again, whether I can keep up with him or not. They are always so forgiving and just really want to be with you and make you smile. How can that not be good for your health!

The day God made dogs; he just sat down and smiled. After all, God spelled backwards is dog.




Going Paleo and my Creamy Zucchini Soup

Lately I have been reading lots of books. The Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, The Paleo Solution by Rob Wolf, Minding Your Mitochondria by Dr. Terry Wahls.
What am I getting from these books, is that the Paleo Diet or Cave Man Diet might be worth trying.
I have sort of been following the Paleo diet in that I eat healthy organic meats, poultry, fish and many vegetables throughout the day. I do not eat sugar, legumes or many grains. Every now and then though, like last week I did have brown rice pasta with stir fried veggies and tomato sauce for dinner. I posted it on my facebook page and I got a comment from a Wheat Belly follower that it was not Wheat Belly approved.
It seems to be that there is this almost cult like following of the Wheat Belly which for me is a little over the top. I am the first to agree with Dr. Davis that our current day wheat has been changed to such a degree that our bodies can no longer digest it. I also agree that for many, probably most going gluten-free is a good thing. And by going gluten- free, I do not mean that you simply buy gluten free pre- packaged foods. Most of them are filled with loads of sugar and other ingredients that turn to sugar in the body like white rice flour, and starches. But what about foods like quinoa, teff, or amaranth?
Quinoa has the highest nutritional component of any grain, and in fact it is not a grain, but a seed. It contains all the amino acids that make up a protein. Unlike rice, barley, wheat and corn which are seeds of single- leaf grass families, quinoa is a seed of a double- leaf vegetable family ( dicotyledons). It is from the same food family as spinach and beets. According to Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming who wrote The Quinoa Revolution and Quinoa 365, cookbooks, “quinoa’s difference from cereal grains is significant when it comes to superior nutrition and hypoallergenic proteins.”
Amaranth which was once considered a simple weed, is also a seed and has twice the amount of protein than rice, and like quinoa, was a staple food for the Incas thousands of years ago. The high lysine content in amaranth sets it apart from other grains. The protein content of amaranth is similar in fact to the proteins found in milk. This means that amaranth contains an excellent combination of essential amino acids and is well absorbed in the intestinal tract.
Teff is tiny seeds (about 1 mm or about 1/32 of an inch) that are nothing like wheat, rye, or barley. With such tiny seeds, it is very difficult to separate the bran from the inner endosperm, so teff flour is generally made with the whole grain. Teff is high in calcium and it contains phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamine (vitamin B1). Teff is also high in protein and fibre.
So this is where I get confused about what Dr. Davis and the Paleo Diet has to say about grains. I can understand that legumes and some grains turn to sugar in the body once digested, but I am unsure about amaranth, teff and especially quinoa.
For many of us like me who have many food allergies, eating can be quite limiting. Since I cannot eat eggs or dairy, I sometimes want to eat brown rice, wild rice or quinoa. Dairy I believe is the root of all evil. It turns to acid in the body and creates inflammation, and I believe that milk is meant only for baby cows. It is meant to take them from a small calf to a large cow in a year.
What I have noticed while on the Paleo Diet is that my blood sugar surges and drops have disappeared. I no longer get the late day shakes, despite only eating a vegetable soup and salad for my lunch. If I have a mid afternoon snack, it might be a banana, almond flour muffin I have made, or a pumpkin seed cookie.
I truly believe that only you can be the judge as to what diet works for you in the long run. You need to listen to your body, as it always knows what is right for it. Perhaps keep a food diary and keep track of foods eaten and symptoms. This may help you to see which foods are playing a role in your health.
Today for my lunch I made a quick and easy creamy zucchini soup. Here is the recipe for you to try. Let me know how you liked it.
Visit me on my facebook page, Finally Food I Can Eat or on twitter @sherrecipes

5 medium sized zucchini, sliced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 leek, sliced
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
handful of fresh cilantro or spinach
sea salt
In large soup pot with a little olive oil, cook onions and leeks until soft. Add in zucchini, garlic and herbs and cook for a few minutes. Add enough water to cover the zucchini and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add  in fresh cilantro or spinach - do not cook anymore, you want the cilantro to be raw. Puree with hand held blender. Enjoy

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love your heart this Valentine's Day and make your Sweetie, Chocolate Hemp Pudding

Hempseeds are among the world’s most nutritious seeds. Containing calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, iron, and omega 3 & 6, the essential fatty acids we need to maintain a healthy body.
Hempseed contains no cholesterol, fat and are gluten-free. They can be eaten raw, ground into meal, milk and even oil, which can be used to make salad dressings. Hempseeds are a great source of plant protein so put them on your cereal, yogurts or make your own tasty dessert.
Hempseed Facts
Hempseed is an excellent protein product for everyone
Its ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is the best in nature- Omega 3 & 6 help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and heart disease
Hempseed contains more Omega 3 than fish            
Hempseed contains plant sterols which reduce the risk of certain cancers
Hempseed can be eaten by those unable to tolerate nuts
Hemp is a protein easier to digest than eggs, cheese, milk or beef
Hemp has more available proteins than soybeans
With 78% essential fats, hemp oil greatly exceeds soy oil at 40%, canola oil at 30%, olive oil at 10% and other oils.
Chocolate Hemp Pudding
¾ cup shelled hemp seeds
3 bananas
2 tbsp maple syrup
¾ cup coconut milk
Mix all ingredients together in food processor for at least 10 minutes to break up the hemp seeds.
Dish small amounts into pudding cups or a pretty dish and refrigerate or freeze. Garnish with a few strawberries if you like and enjoy!
Yields 3 cups

Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and the author of Finally... Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with food allergies, and those looking for healthy, tasty recipes.

Shirley offers dietary counseling and menu planning through Delicious Alternatives

For more information you may visit

Twitter @sherrecipes