Spontaneity and substituting ingredients

Life happens and inevitably, there will be days when you go to the store and you find out that a few of the items on the shopping list were simply not available at the store you went to.  It is usually pretty rare that main ingredients aren’t available at more stores – they are usually pretty stocked up on meats and seafood.  However, there are definitely occasions when I have arrived at the store and been surprised that there isn’t a particular fish available.  This can happen when a certain fish is out of season, especially if you are looking for wild fish.

It is usually one or two of the other ingredients needed to make a recipe that sometimes goes missing in the grocery store.  Personally, I live thirty minutes from a large store with a large selection of organic and fresh foods, so it is not very easy for me to just go back the next day when the produce guy tells me they will have fennel available.

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Cooking tip: Marinating

Many recipes that I create often have some type of marinade in it which can be used on the meat or seafood the night before, or as little as 15 minutes before you cook your meal.  It does make the dish tastier the longer the marinade time, but you also have to adjust the recipes to your lifestyle.

If you end up having a little extra time in the evening before you go off to bed, this is a prime time to plan ahead for tomorrow’s recipe.  It not only gives you a head start on the recipe so that there is less to do the next day, it makes the meal that much more flavorful.

For some marinades, you can turn them into sauces, like the one in Mahi Mahi in Citrus Coconut Sauce. (This recipe is featured in the free sample Nourishing Foods Menu Planner – get it here).  The marinade is first used to infuse the fish with the flavors of citrus and ginger, but then is later made into a sauce by adding arrowroot powder to it.

As with everything in cooking, if you find yourself running out of time, you can always cut corners and marinade for less time.  It won’t be the end of the world and I’m sure you’ll still have a yummy meal!


It's not about doing it "right"

When we are learning anything new – such as learning to cook – it is easy to get caught in the belief that you have to make a recipe perfect the first time you try it. However, making “mistakes” is inevitable when you’re learning anything new.  I think “learning experiences” is a better name for them than mistakes.  I also call them explorations.  Each time something doesn’t “turn out” as expected, I use the experience to gain knowledge as to what will most likely work better next time.  Or sometimes, I do something I didn’t mean to and it turns out better than it would have otherwise.

Maybe you already know how to cook but are new to cooking gluten or dairy-free meals. You may feel a little apprehension about it because it is brand new and requires some new learning on your part.  However, the only way anyone learns anything is to just jump in and try it.  And a good place to start is to follow some gluten and dairy-free recipes.

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Yummy & healthy coconut

While some people try to stay away from foods that are high in fat, there are many foods that contain healthy fats.  These fats are actually necessary for optimal bodily functions.  Coconut milk, coconut oil and other coconut products fall under the category as “healthy fats.”  However, make sure to buy the whole milk variety with no additives or sugars in it.

The benefits of coconut products:

  • Provides calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine and many trace minerals.
  • The coconut contains up to 60 percent fat and this fat is 92 percent saturated.  But this is no reason to avoid coconut products.  The principle fatty acid in coconut milk, lauric acid, is a medium-chain 12-carbon saturated fatty acid that has potent antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
  • Protects us against viruses, yeasts, parasites and other pathogens in the gut.

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Pantry Essentials

I personally find that cooking and shopping is much easier when I have basic ingredients on hand, and only need to shop for the extra things weekly.  I have compiled a list of items that I use regularly when I cook and which I consider to be the staples of the kitchen cabinet.

You will see that I have jars of ginger and garlic on the list – these are two of my short cuts that make my life easier in the kitchen.  I still enjoy using fresh garlic and ginger, but when I don’t have much time to grate or crush (or am just feeling lazy), these “pantry essentials” come in very handy.

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The Blessings of Food

From 2001 to 2002, I studied Classical Five Element Acupuncture at the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture in Louisville, Colorado.  I was truly fascinated by this intricate and beautiful system of healing and preventative medicine.  What particularly interested me was the deeper emotional and spiritual levels that were an intricate part of the healing process.

The following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about the Earth element, which has everything to do with food, the stomach and digestive system, late summer and the harvest, and feeling nourished and nurtured which goes beyond the physical level into the emotional and spiritual.

The field of plenty of Mother Earth gives forth prosperity and abundance during the Harvest of Late Summer, producing and offering nourishment to all of the bodies, minds and souls of all children and creatures of this world.  As John Robbins expresses, “Eating is essentially an act of communion with the living forces of nature” (p. 21).  Every bite we eat of the food that is produced from the commingling of the Elements connects us to the source that created it.

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Testing for food allergies

There is a variety of ways to determine whether you are allergic or sensitive to certain foods. These include blood tests, skin prick tests and muscle testing.  If you want to take one of these tests, I suggest you find a professional holistic or naturapathic doctor who is versed with food allergies.  Each doctor’s approach will be different so it is important for you to ask how they go about testing for allergies.

Keeping a journal:
Did you ever notice that when you’re interested in a certain car, you start seeing it on the road everywhere you go?  Are there suddenly more of these cars or are you just seeing them because you’re looking for them?

Awareness is one of the first steps to discovering a diet that works for your body. There are so many things in our lives that divert our attention away from our bodies and we often end up living in our heads when we are at work or at school.

If you want to start the slow but sure detective work of finding out if the foods you are eating are creating your physical, mental or emotional symptoms, a good place to start is to keep a daily journal of what you eat and how you feel.

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Symptoms of Food allergies

If you have food allergies or sensitivities, you may be suffering from some of the following symptoms:

Digestive complaints:
abdominal cramps
irritable bowel syndrome
ulcerative colitis

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Do you have food allergies?

Many people do not realize that they may be allergic or at least sensitive to the foods that they are eating on a regular basis.  Furthermore, many of the foods commonly available today contain “common allergens,” foods that people are commonly allergic to.  These contain but are not limited to: wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts, and nightshade vegetables.

Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, talks about why certain foods are hard to digest.  She writes:

“Allergy tests have revealed sensitivities to every food commonly eaten, but most prevalent are allergies to milk products and grains… The proteins in grain and milk, namely gluten and casein, are two of the hardest proteins for humans to digest…(pg. 56.”)

The Other Kind of Food Allergy:

It is well known that when someone is allergic to something that their body will immediately react by breaking out in hives or creating some other kind of histamine reaction.  These foods or substances can be life threatening to people who have allergies to them and they have to avoid them at all cost.

But some people aren’t aware that there is actually another kind of allergic reaction that the body can produce that is actually a lot harder to figure out, called a “delayed-type hypersensitivity.”

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