Friday, March 29, 2013

Cookie-Making Troubles

Imagine, if you will, a large, very large, window in a kitchenette area with fraction work written on it in blue. (Dry-erase markers.)

4/3 to 3/2 = ? to 2/3

Things like that. Resulting in fractions of 8/9 and 16/27.

"What are all those for?" I asked my 15yo.

"I don't know, they've been there for a while."

I didn't remember working with either one of them on fractions like that. What in the world...?

Oh, yes, my gluten-free cookie-making adventure. (Did you read my previous post about compound adjectives? Yes, you need them here, too. lol.)

The cookie-making adventure I'd forgotten to tell you all about when it happened. So, let me get started.

I found a chocolate chip raisin oatmeal cookie recipe I wanted to try from Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. (See, she uses they hyphen, too! Otherwise it would be a FREE baker's handbook! :D) One that is vegan and gluten-free. It called for a gluten-free flour blend; I used recipe the recipe from the book for making my own blend. That's when things started to get interesting.

It shouldn't have been hard. The recipe calls for 3 ingredients. That's it. Brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch. I measured the first two,  and went to see how much of the third I needed and saw it was the tapioca starch I had just put in. "Huh?" Shoot. I'd measured the wrong amount. Potato starch was the second ingredient, not tapioca. I only needed 2/3 of a cup of tapioca starch and I had the potato starch amount with the rice flour. Then the conversion factor came in to make up for the fact that I didn't measure the right thing. The flour was easy to adjust, but this one ingredient... It was complicated. I had all kinds of calculations written on the window. And after about 5 minutes of doing that, I looked again and saw it was actually 1 1/3 cups of potato starch that were needed (I had processed it as 1 1/2 cups), which then turned into I could just double the recipe and everything would be fine. And easy. Except I had already measured the extra flour I needed, so I needed to adjust and add even more. I therefore ended up with twice as much gluten-free flour blend as I had intended and I haven't really taken the time to do other gluten-free baking, so there's a large amount still sitting in the fridge.

In the process of measuring, I was trying to be quick about it since I was teaching a class that afternoon and needed everything to be cleaned up before students arrived. So I didn't pay attention to instructions such as scoop with a spoon into the measuring cups; I just poured, or rather, tried to pour, directly into measuring cups. And I was rushing. Bad combination, because here was the result:

The cookies themselves, I forgot to take a picture of. They were okay, but seemed to be lacking something in taste. Funny thing is I decided to freeze them and WOW, are they ever delicious right out of the freezer! I made a second batch last week to give away to my gluten-sensitive, dairy-allergic "niece."

Of course, after they were all done, I realized that I had actually measured 1 1/2 cups of tapioca starch, not 1 1/3, which means doubling wasn't quite the right thing to do. The blend is incorrect, but the cookies are fantastic from frozen. :D

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The High-Speed Blenders I'm Considering

First, a little grammar lesson (yes, I have a teaching degree and specialized in language learning and am "particular" with details :D), with the understanding that the UK rules are a little stricter than the US rules, but being I'm in Canada, we tend to lean toward British rules for such things, even though many here are clearly influenced by US usage

It should not be "high speed blender", but rather "high-speed blender." A car can go at a high speed, but if we want to use those words as an adjective to describe the car, it is a high-speed car. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense because it would lean more toward a meaning of it's a high (meaning it's up high) "speed car." Same thing with the blender. Is your blender kept up high on a shelf? Well, then it might qualify as a high speed blender. Here is more about the hyphen for compound adjectives: And if you like this sort of thing, check out Lynne Truss's books for some great, and funny, lessons about punctuation. :D

All right, nitpicky side of myself aside, here are the blenders I'm considering at the moment. I would appreciate all input!

The Vitamix:

The first high-speed blender I ever heard of when I started learning about raw foods. And I immediately discounted it due to the cost! I haven't forgotten it, though, and did find out about refurbished and even Amazon has more reasonable price on the 1782. But there's another issue that has come up in my recent research: there are different Vitamixes. Those of you with Vitamixes, which one do you have?

The Blendtec:

The Blendtec can be just as expensive as the Vitamix, but I don't know how they compare in terms of value for functionality because it, too, has different models. I've seen an increasing number of raw foodists say they are using this one and are very happy with it. Are you using a Blendtec? Have you used both a Blendtec and a Vitamix and have a preference?

The Waring:
There are a few from Waring that seem like they would fit the bill, the Waring Pro and the Waring Commerical Xtreme being two that come to mind. It does not seem to be as popular as the Vitamix or the Blendtec, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have good potential! Does anybody reading have this one? Any thoughts, comments?

Things I'm looking at: How well it performs. Cost. How much space it takes up. Ease of cleaning. Pros and cons. Warranty. Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated!


Just a little note: Whenever looking at the star ratings on Amazon and you are concerned about a product that has a number of low stars, go actually read the poor reviews. So often, you just have to wonder what people are thinking. One person rated one blender I was looking at with a single star, saying the jar was too big. (?!) Why somebody would buy a blender with a big jar and then complain about it being big is beyond me, but that's one of the ratings there. I've also seen people give a rave review on a product but it only has a single star. I don't know if they thought that 1 was the best or what, but it is a definite error that gives a faulty impression! Another thing people will give low stars for is if it took to long to ship or something; completely unrelated to an actual product rating. Read the reviews. See if the product itself is actually likely to disappoint you or not!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I need a new blender

I thought my blender was just fine. For small quantities, it is. Although, it's just a standard blender and I never get the smoothness that I read about high-speed blenders doing for smoothies or hummus or other things. I saw the other night that even just my spaghetti sauce doesn't get blended very well. The blender seems to do well up to about 3 cups, and then after that... After a couple of years of having smoothies a lot, and having had the thing possibly close to 10 years, I can tell the motor is having a hard time.

I know the Vitamix is very popular. It's also very pricey! So, I'm looking to hear from people about their high-speed blenders: What brand do you have? How does it compare to others you may have had or tried? How long has it lasted? How much did it cost? Anything else you can tell me about it?

Monday, March 25, 2013

One Day Can Undo It All

I was very "good" last week, having smoothies every morning, staying raw through until the afternoon (although I had steamed broccoli for lunch one day, but it was still veggies)--essentially, over 50% of my diet was raw fruits and veggies--and was feeling better and was 3 pounds down (nice to get rid of some of the excess water on me!)

And then I had yesterday.

And those 3 pounds are instantly back.

I feel gross. Even before I weighed myself (which I did because I thought the jeans I put on shouldn't have been as tight as they were!), I could feel it. Blech. Hardly any fruits and veggies yesterday, lots of processed grains, sugar... I just feel blech.

Back today to what makes me feel good!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm Baaaa-aaack!

(What show is that from? Was it one of Urkel's lines? I'll have to look it up.)

One more week until spring break. Lots to do around here, although, admittedly, I can't blame how much there is to do on my lack of posting: I've spent gads of time playing Candy Crush Saga in Facebook. And I discovered how to keep getting free lives. Which means I continue playing beyond just a little break! I'm just really feeling this loooong winter (we've had close to another foot of snow the past few days...) and a need for a break from everything.

Anyhow, my pseudo-niece realized she was feeling blah and we were tweeting about fasts and cleanses. She went for a juice fast and very quickly, was feeling very good. She inspired me to hop back on the healthy food wagon. I thought about joining her for a juice fast, but I don't have a juicer, so that's out for me. So then I was thinking about doing a sort of "green smoothie fast" but the idea of having nothing but green smoothies doesn't feel very appealing and I think I might go crazier with that than when I drop wheat. (Oy, I dropped wheat again for the day the other day--went back to those "I feel like I'm going crazy, what will I eat that will be satisfying?" feelings. I don't like it. And it's a bad sign. I've got to cut out wheat long-term, don't I?)

So, other than planning to start each day with as much green smoothie as I can handle, I sat down and went through my Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day book, which is a great book if you are looking for meals for just one person (which I am) and don't have a dehydrator (which I don't), and picked a bunch of recipes to make for lunches this week. Or as a raw food side dish for suppers. I haven't planned everything out yet, which I should absolutely do, especially plan when I'll do the prep required for each one, but have selected the following (I'm going to babble here because then it's all written down and I can come find it when I'm looking for it :D) and made sure to get the necessary ingredients today. I have sooooo much raw fruits and veggies in the fridge now that I absolutely have to make sure I follow through and don't waste anything

*Granola p. 39--this recipe has almonds, which I'll have to not mix in right away since it's always an unknown as to whether I'll react or not; also requires soaking the nuts, which means I definitely need to plan which day I'd like to have it. I don't think I've ever soaked nuts before, although I know many resources recommend it. The recipes I've used didn't require it, so I didn't do it. I'll have to look into that.

*Mango and Pineapple Smoothie p. 43--I actually picked this with my daughter in mind since it's a smoothie recipe that doesn't have bananas. But it sounds tasty, so maybe we'll all share. ;) Doesn't really require much prep since I'm using frozen mango and I'm cheating and using up some canned pineapple that we have.

*Broccoli Salad with Raisins p. 89--I'm leaving out the apple cubes (makes my mouth itch, usually), or might put them in a side dish and serve this salad with a supper and let those who can eat raw apples put them on their salad. There isn't a whole lot of prep for this one, so it could be done easily right before a meal.

*Friday Burritos p. 93 (which I probably won't eat on Friday lol)--I'm missing the alfalfa sprouts (couldn't find them anywhere at the store I was at today), but I think it'll still be fine. There's more chopping to do for this one than some of the other ones; I should possibly actually keep it for Friday when I'll have more time--and the avocado should be ripe by then.

I also bought myself a zucchini to make some raw pasta (I'm pretty sure there's an easy marinara-style recipe in one of my books) and I think I have everything to make the amazing Caesar salad I've raved about before from Mimi Kirk's book. And that carrot, raisin and seeds salad I showed not long ago. And I bought lettuce to make sure to have greens available for each and every supper. (My kids actually like just taking a couple of leaves of green lettuce and eating it just like that!)

What's my plan with all this? Let myself feel the craziness of not getting grains for the first half of the day and some. Green smoothie as much as I can handle, then perhaps granola or the flax seed "pancakes" or fruit to finish off the morning; raw lunch; raw afternoon snack. Essentially, my plan is raw all day (but with that green smoothie to start--best way for me to really get in a lot of fruits and greens) until supper. And I have in mind largely wheat-free suppers for the whole week (I should do up a Make-a-Menu Monday post; I should, but will I?). I'll probably feel like I'm going crazy the first couple of days, but I know it'll be fine. I do have an inkling now about what cigarette and drug addicts must go through! It's got to be sheer torture for them to resist.


Brief interruption: I just saw a little ad about kids being safest in a booster seat until 4'9" or 80 lbs. My daughter is 15, 4'11 and about 80 lbs. She's taking after my mother and hasn't had a real growth spurt yet--expecting her to end up eventually around 5'1"-5'2". But she was probably 4'9" and 70 lbs at age 13! A booster seat at age 13??? My mother was 75 lbs when she started high school. Anyhow...


I've been meaning to post my recent (mis)adventures in gluten-free baking. That will have to be a separate post. Let's just say that I had some difficulty and have pictures to show it. lol. The cookies are absolutely delicious though. But I apparently have a sugar addiction, too, because when I have some on Sunday (not a part of Lent!), I don't stop at just one.

I also read The Heavy during my blog hiatus.

I'm going to do a post with a book review. Maybe sometime this week. Maybe next week during spring break. I'll keep my opinion a mystery until then. :D (Oy, that's another thing to plan food for: My brother-in-law and his wife are heading down to Arizona to visit the grandparents during spring break, without the kids, and the kids--a 5yo, an 8yo and a 12yo--will be staying with us!)

I think I'm going to have to keep things simple for tomorrow, so none of the above recipes (except maybe the smoothie). I have an online class to run at 11 and then my in-house class from 1-3, then it's pick up the above-mentioned nieces and nephew from school from 3-4, and then a meeting at 7 for parents who have a child doing the Confirmation prep classes, so time is tight in terms of trying to get school work done with my kids, prep the house and finalize the class lesson plan AND do food prep at any point during the day. Smoothie and a simple salad and whatever I want for raw fruits, veggies and maybe a handful of nuts or something will be fine. And then something super simple for supper.

What have you all been up to? (Even though it's only one of you who ever tends to comment, but I know in the stats there are more of you reading! :D) Are you feeling the effects of a long winter? How are you managing it?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dove Evolution Video

"No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted" 

the video below shows at one point.


And why do we take the fake version as more beautiful than the natural girl? Shouldn't we be free to be who we are?

Here's the video:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Mishmash

Okay, a mishmash of sorts:

I neglected eating greens for a while and restarted this past week. When I've had a lack like that and start up again, my body kind of goes, "Omg! Greens! Give me more!"

Being tired this morning (had two pieces of white toast, to boot), I decided to have an energizing--or at least non-energy-depleting--lunch:

I've probably shared a similar salad before. It's just so easy, combines different tastes so it makes it tasty and it's nutritionally satisfying! Super simple (and raw vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free...):

*bed of lettuce (green leaf above)
*shredded organic carrot (if you don't normally eat organic carrots, have a look and see if the organic carrots available where you live are better than the regular; here, the regular carrots seem to be old and dried up and don't taste great and the organic are just gorgeous, fresh and delicious--absolutely worth the little bit extra $!)
*raw sunflower seeds
*raw pumpkin seeds
*some olive oil
*some lemon juice
*sprinkling of Mrs. Dash

I feel great after eating that for lunch. I almost turned to some banana bread as a kind of dessert, but decided against it because I know it'll make me feel more drained--I'm already so tired today!


I have a new favourite chocolate milk. 

I've been seeing things with cheese and things like ice cream lately and have been really wanting to indulge in them. Which is crazy since I haven't wanted anything like that in ages and I know I won't actually like the taste and it will make me seriously ill. 

But it is a sign I've had before: I'm not getting enough calcium.

Other than trying to make sure to eat in a more balanced fashion, I was wishing I actually liked to drink the almond and rice milks and all that. I used to drink the Silk Soy Chocolate Milk when I'd get all cheese-cravy, but it left me mucousy, so I gave that up. I discovered this last week at the grocery store

and I love it! It tastes delicious, doesn't leave me mucousy and has helped me easily satisfy my calcium needs. I hesitated getting it since it is Lent and I had decided to not partake of sweet treats, but I figured that as long as I'm treating it like milk/calcium source rather than going nuts with it, it's okay. It also has more iron than the unsweetened Silk PureAlmond and lists it as a decent source of vitamin E. (Yay for dark chocolate! :) )


Random fact: Frogs can not swallow with their eyes open. (Why am I sharing this? My daughter's rattling off random facts she's reading from her iPod. ;) )


A friend of mine extolled the virtues of arnica to me a few years back, and then another friend more recently. The first friend really extolled them after she gave her 5-year old son doses of arnica after he was hit by a pickup truck (reckless driver! he's okay today!), fractured his skull and had swelling. When they went for the first check up, the doctor was quite surprised by how much the swelling had gone down, something my friend attributed to the arnica. Not having read a lot about homeopathy, I didn't know what to think.

My daughter bruised her ribs not long ago and the second friend reminded me immediately of using arnica. Okay, why not give it a shot? A single dose of arnica and the pain was completely gone. Coincidence?

I ended up with a nasty migraine a couple weeks ago. Looked up online if arnica might help with a migraine at all. I can't remember what the actual result of that search was, but I did end up stumbling on an article talking about arnica and some research done. The research was trying to discount arnica, having used it on patients who had had surgery (I think it was for carpal tunnel). A control group was given a placebo. The results? Both patients reported approximately the same amount of relief.

If I'd stopped reading there, I wouldn't have gotten the full information. Turns out the the people doing the research didn't pay attention to traditional recommended doses of arnica and gave way more than what a homeopath would ever give. The article went on to say that research has been done on cell responses to arnica and it has to be a low enough dose for the cells to respond. (I'm sorry, I find that fascinating!) We live in a society where we tend to think more is better, including for pain killers and inflammation reducers, but our bodies don't necessarily respond how we think they will.

In any case, I decided to use some arnica on my migraine and it did help a little. The real clincher was the following week, not this past Thursday but the Thursday before, I had my parent volunteer day. I woke up with a headache and tried the arnica; it helped a bit and Advil didn't. Got to the church for the volunteer day and noticed right away that the stairs seemed easier. Could my at-home stair training really have made that much difference in just a week? Ended up having another dose around lunch time, which didn't help the headache at all (had that darn thing ALL day) but I noticed, again, distinct ease with climbing the stairs.

I'm absolutely convinced now that the arnica helps with the inflammation in my iliotibial band, which meant that it was easier and there wasn't the usual pulling on my knees, causing pain. I will have to remember the arnica for my next parent duty day! The unfortunate thing: the brand I bought has lactose. *sigh* I will be looking for a dairy-free/vegan version!