Thanksgiving Menu (gluten-free, mostly paleo)

I am feeling especially grateful that this Thanksgiving, my daughter can enjoy everything at the table. After nearly two years of maintaining a very low carb diet to control her seizures, over the last month or so, she has been experimenting with more typical servings of gluten-free carbs, like slices of pizza or several plates from the sushi train, and not experiencing any seizures or seizure auras as she used to experience. Most children with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy outgrow their condition sometime during puberty. Fingers crossed, but perhaps we have reached the end of epilepsy.

We maintain a gluten-free and mostly grain-free and sugar-free diet, with occasional gluten-free baked goods away from home. Thanksgiving dinner includes a couple such exceptions. Cornbread is one of my daughter’s favorite, so we’ll celebrate her new-found dietary freedom with cornbread, kale, and pear stuffing. In addition, we’ll have two desserts, both sweetened with honey or coconut sugar, instead of the stevia that had been our only sweetener.

Do you have any particular graces to give thanks for this year?

2013 Thanksgiving Menu

Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Chipped Beef Cream Cheese Ball

Three-Seed Crackers

Arugula, Fennel, Pomegranate, and Mandarin Salad

Orange & Sage Roast Turkey with Deceptively Delicious Gravy

Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

Green Bean Casserole

Cornbread, Kale & Pear Stuffed Acorn Squash

Crispy Root Vegetable Latkes

Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash

Pumpkin Custard

Apple Pie with Crisp Topping

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Salmon and Cauliflower Curry, a Nutritional Powerhouse

Flash photography doesn’t make this dish look that appealing…but really, it tastes delicious!

This salmon and cauliflower curry is one of my favorites. It became a mainstay one summer solstice. I always like to prepare yellow and orange foods on the solstice, to celebrate our life-giving Sun. I wanted to make a bright yellow curry, with a thick sauce that would cling to the vegetables and salmon.

What I came up with is not only delicious, but full of healing ingredients. Cauliflower and turmeric fight prostate cancer and turmeric blocks the development of melanomas. Given that my husband’s family has a history both, I’m especially glad this dish has become one of our favorites. Turmeric has many other health benefits and worth including in your diet. Since it is fat-soluble, always include some fat with the meal to increase absorption. Salmon, of course, has many health benefits, especially its omega-3 fatty acids. Add some yogurt with live probiotics and cilantro with its many health-promoting properties, and you have yourself a dish chock full of awesome nutrition.

Salmon and Cauliflower Curry with Turmeric
Serves 5-6

2-4 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon curry (I skip the cayenne), divided
1 onion, sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
water (a cup or so)
1-2 cups yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 salmon fillets (about 1.5 pounds total)
a few tablespoons of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

Melt the ghee in a wide, flat bottom saute pan over medium-high heat. I start with 2 tablespoons, then add more as needed. Add the mustard seeds and curry powder the pan and cook for a moment, allowing the curry to dissolved into the ghee. Add the onion and cauliflower, tossing gently to coat with the ghee. Cook for 10-15 minutes, leaving the vegetables to sit for several minutes at a time so they can brown while carefully monitoring the heat so they do not burn. Melt more ghee in the pan, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. The garlic and ginger will stick to the pan. Add a half cup of water to the pan, let it cook off briefly, then deglaze the pan, scraping off the cooked on bits. I find that a bamboo stir fry spatula deglazes well without scratching the pan.

Mix 1/2 teaspoon curry and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then rub into salmon fillets. Place the fillets skin-side down on top of the vegetables. Add another half cup of water, then cover the pan. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the fillets are cooked through. Remove the fillets to a warm serving dish, turn the heat to low, deglaze the pan with another half cup of water if necessary, then add yogurt, cilantro, salt and pepper to the pan, stirring gently to make a thick sauce. Serve immediately with the fish.

This post is part of The Liberated Kitchen’s GAPS Friendly Friday.

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Food Heals!

A little over two years ago, my health went into a serious decline. I was tired all the time. I had chronic pain throughout my body. My memory had become completely unreliable and I had trouble concentrating. I was losing my ability to function as a homeschooling mother of two, community activist, and small business owner. I had gone to many doctors about my various complaints, but none of them had been able to help with my list of vague symptoms.

Through a series of chance conversations and research, I came to understand that I have an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common form of hypothyroidism. While a decade before I had been diagnosed as “mildly hypothyroid” and told my thyroid gland was not making enough thyroid hormones, none of my doctors had mentioned the possibility of an autoimmune aspect to my condition or suggested that I do anything other than take a daily thyroid hormone replacement pill for the rest of my life.

I began to see a naturopath experienced with Hashimoto’s. Lab tests she ordered confirmed my self-diagnosis. My body is manufacturing antibodies which attack my thyroid gland. This immune system attack suppresses the thyroid’s function and slows the entire metabolism. My list of vague symptoms were all due to inadequate treatment of my autoimmune condition, but the good news is alternative health care providers are reversing this disease with a protocol of dietary changes and supplementation developed by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a specialist in endocrinology.

While I already knew a lot of people who had experienced healing after removing gluten from their diet and had cut down significantly on my wheat consumption, I didn’t eliminate it completely until I became desperate. Within a week of quitting however, I noticed improvements to my digestion and mental function. With more changes came more improvements.

Today, I follow an autoimmune gut repair diet, free of not only of gluten but all grains, sugar, legumes, nightshades, and caffeine. I feel better than I have in ten years. After struggling with my weight all my adult life, I’m finally losing it, with a balanced diet of pastured meat, wild caught fish, and seasonal vegetables, enriched with healing super foods like broth, ghee, and kimchi. My energy has returned, my chronic pain is diminished. Recent blood work showed that all my health markers are improving remarkably. My thyroid antibody levels, for example, dropped for the first time in two years of testing, by half over a six month period of intense dietary change. Food heals!

Annabel’s Story

Annabel, about a week after her last dose of anti-convulsant meds!

In late 2011, after a series of partial seizures, my daughter Annabel was diagnosed with epilepsy. At first, her doctor said she did not require medication. In January of 2012, though, she experienced a seizure episode known as status epilepticus, a lengthy and potentially life-threatening seizure that only stopped when EMTs gave her a powerful tranquilizer. She was hospitalized for a day of observation. The SE episode was a game-changer and her neurologist advised us to put her on an anti-convulsant to prevent further such episodes. We reluctantly agreed.

As my husband and I were concerned about the many side effects of her new medication, I began researching alternatives before she even came home. I learned about fat-rich, low-carb diets that control seizures in children whose seizures were not controlled by medication. Why not try it with our daughter, instead of medication? While her neurologist discouraged us from even trying, saying it was “too hard,” she clearly did not realize who she was trying to discourage. I was determined to do whatever I could to keep Annabel seizure-free, but also off a medication so potentially damaging that her liver function was to be tested every three months while she was on it. I put her on the Modified Atkins Diet soon after she got home, with the intention of weaning her off medication as soon as possible.

It wasn’t easy. Transitioning a child who loves French fries, pasta, bread, and sweets just as much as the next kid to a diet that limited her to 10 grams of carbohydrates a day challenged both of us tremendously. I knew her compliance depended on having foods that she could enjoy, so I scoured the internet and cookbooks for ketogenic recipes. As I learned keto cooking tricks, I began coming up with modifications for our family favorites that were safe for her. We celebrated her ninth birthday with ketogenic cupcakes.

Eventually it worked. Our daughter’s seizures diminished in frequency and severity. We noticed that when she did have seizures, they almost always occurred after she “cheated” on her diet. On July 22nd, she took her last dose of medication, six months to the day after her first. She has remained seizure-free since and while she maintains her low-carb diet, she can now an enjoy occasional honey-sweetened treat. Once again, food heals!

Turning Our Challenges into a Blessing

While healing my daughter and myself with diet, I learned a lot about cooking nutrient-dense meals that comply with multiple restrictions. The learning curve, for someone like me who loves cooking, was steep. If you don’t have a knack or passion for planning, shopping, and preparing meals, especially special diet meals, and are sick or caring for a loved one with special needs, getting satisfying meals on the table night after night can seem next to impossible. So, I have decided to become a personal chef to help others who struggle with their health and need more nourishing food to heal. I’ll still teach cooking classes as there is interest and will also offer private cooking lessons and kitchen coaching.

I’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds I need to re-launch Lost Arts Kitchen. I have some fun perks for contributions small and large. Even if you cannot make a cash contribution now, it would mean so much to me if you could spread the word. Please tweet, share on Facebook, or send an email to friends who would like to support my campaign. Thank you!

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In My Cocoon…

I am on a break from blogging and teaching while I work on some new possibilities. Come back soon, I promise to be back with some exciting announcements!

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Food Swap & Pot Luck with Kate Payne

I’m thrilled to announce that we will be hosting a food swap and potluck here on June 24th in honor of Kate Payne, author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and founder of the Brooklyn and Austin food swaps. The lovely ladies at PDX Swappers co-host and I’m so grateful for their swap organization finesse! Space is limited and going fast. You must fill out this form to reserve your spot.

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Lost Arts Kitchen, in Cooking Light?

Kinda funny to see Lost Arts Kitchen mentioned in a magazine that would probably never publish one of my animal-fat laden recipes, but totally awesome to be included in this round-up of businesses that make Portland “one of the most exciting food towns in the country.” (See reason #2.)

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Eating Local Meal Plan for Spring

Salad Greens & Asparagus in the Garden

What I hope to illustrate with the following meal plan for next week’s Seven Days 100% Local challenge  isn’t so much that there are many delicious fresh foods you can pick up at the farmers market this weekend. There are, but in my experience, eating locally in a manner one can sustain not just for a week, but year-round, requires more than what farmers can harvest in any given week. Preserving food at home or buying locally grown and preserved foods keeps it local while keeping your wallet and your taste buds happy.

Some tips

  • If you haven’t yet figured out how to make your own cream cheese or don’t have home canned Oregon albacore tuna on-hand, try eating “as-if” local as a palate re-training exercise. Buy the non-local version if you must, but if it’s something you like, consider figuring out how you can start sourcing it locally in the future.
  • If you work outside the home during the week, do some meal planning, food shopping, and prep over the weekend. Make a big batch of pork patties on Sunday morning and hazelnut granola while the oven is still warm. Start apple-rhubarb sauce Sunday afternoon while you prepare the pear and rhubarb crisp, and get chicken stock started after dinner.
  • Likewise, prepare enough food for dinner and leftovers for lunch, especially for those who eat away from home.
  • Doing some prep work after dinner will make it easier to get dinner together the next day.

Hearty and savory local breakfast: pork patty, fried kale & onion, fried eggs, homemade sauerkraut

Sunday

Canned Oregon Albacore Tuna

Monday

Salmon preserved three ways. Clocckwise from left, gravlax, smoked salmon, pickled salmon.

Tuesday

  • Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Scramble
  • Chicken Soup
  • Slow Cooker Carnitas with Home Canned Salsa Verde, Coleslaw, Black Beans, and Grated Cheddar
  • Cinnamon-Honey Custard
  • Drain yogurt for sirkand
Canning Tomatoes

Wednesday

Goose, Duck, Hen, and Pullet Eggs

Thursday

Lots of pitted Bing cherries, summer 2009

Friday

  • Pork Patty, Fried Onions and Kale
  • Leftover Eggs Korma
  • Slow Cooker Lamb Stew with Frozen Peas, Carrot and Hazelnut Salad
  • Cherry Caflouti
  • Defrost salmon

Saturday

  • Pancetta, Eggs Over Easy, Sauteed Onions & Overwintered Kale, Hazelnut Meal Pancakes with Honey-Sweetened Sour Cherry Sauce
  • Leftover Celery Root Soup
  • Salmon with Asparagus, Pea Shoot and Radish Salad
  • Pinot Noir Poached Pears (use honey instead of sugar) with Cream
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