Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mom's in Charge

Are you a Mom of young/school age children? Do you live in South Orange County, California? If so, treat yourself to a morning with Mom's in Charge. Here's the explanation of MIC from founder Dottie Sunshine Hagmier:

"As a mom who was on the Standard American Diet and lifestyle, I understand how confusing it can be to try to figure out how to get your kids to eat healthy and what "healthy" even means.
I started MIC because I was so overwhelmed with what to feed my kids, put on their skin and in our home environment to promote their optimal wellness. I felt I had no where to turn and there was just too much information for me to handle all over the Internet.
I created this community to offer support for each mom wherever you are on your journey and a place of the best resources in logical and easy to follow manner to take ONE Step at a time.
As you become a part of this community, you will be supported and know you are not alone and you are also a part of a MOVEMENT to CHANGE THE SHAPE of our future; a future where giving our kids healthy food and products is not only accepted, but expected.
I'll see you on the journey!"

One of the Moms from MIC who already had my cookbook, Delightfully Free, recommended to the organizers that I come present my book at their meeting. So last Tuesday I spoke to the Moms about my gluten, dairy & refined sugar free, very healthy cookbook at their Healthy Holidays meeting and also demo'ed a couple of holiday recipes from the book-- Garlic Mashed Cauli and my naturally sweetened, low glycemic Orange Cranberry Sauce.  They loved them!!

Several of the members made other recipes from Delightfully Free to share with the group.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Spinach Mushroom Quiche, Orange Cranberry Crumble, Pumpkin Pie & Black Bean Brownies


Their format includes a View Crew. I spoke with them and the audience about healthy eating.

I'm on the left with the "View Crew"

I then demonstrated how simple it is to make my Garlic Mashed Cauli (my low glycemic version of mashed potatoes) and my Orange Cranberry sauce from the book:

Demo Time at MIC

Delightfully Free has many holiday-themed recipes. Here are some favorites... 

For Fall, Pumpkin Stew on p. 25, Harvest Pumpkin Bread on p. 63, Pumpkin Spice Muffins on p. 71, & Pumpkin Pie on p. 151 with Whipped Topping on p. 159.

For Thanksgiving, the recipes listed above as well as the Chickpea Salad on p. 101, Orange Cranberry Sauce & Garlic Mashed Cauli on p. 111, Molasses Stuffed Acorn Squash and Orange Pecan Brown Rice on p. 115, Herbed Turkey Dressing and Glazed Yams with Cranberries on p. 117 and the Orange Cranberry Crumble on page 153.

For Christmas or Chanukah, there are also the Holiday Cranberry Chicken on p. 37, Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake on p. 67, all manner of cookies, including Shortbread on p. 129 & Cranberry Date Bars & Raisin Squares on p. 137, Eggnog Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce on p. 159 or the collection of treats on pages 161 & 163. 

So, if you've ever wished you could nourish your family with healthy and delicious holiday meals and goodies, Delightfully Free has you covered!

Also, remember to look into Mom's in Charge. They are having a holiday boutique on December 11th.  Get a little holiday shopping done and find out more about MIC.

Wishing you health & Joy, ~ Tracy

About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.



 
  
  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 2 with the St. Louis Rams

Before telling about my second day at Rams Park, I'd like to congratulate the Rams on showing such heart and character during a challenging season for them. Despite all their injuries this year, they have two very nice wins recently over the 49ers and an exciting 28-26 victory over the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. Congrats to them!

On my second day at Rams Park in St. Louis, I met even more very nice people. I was honored to be their speaker for the "Lunch & Learn" that week of the health fair.  Everyone enjoyed a healthy salad bar for lunch with a choice of 3 of the 8 natural, homemade salad dressings from Delightfully Free. We featured my "Buttermilk" Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette, & Italian Dressings (pages 102-103). It was fun to talk about the creative, surprisingly healthy substitutes used in my cookbook to re-create naughty bad-for-you dishes into clean, healthy ones :).  & I think everyone was pretty amazed when we demoed my Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 44). They all watched as Matt, our volunteer, spooned the steaming hot cauliflower, coconut milk & white beans into the blender. A minute of whirring & we had rich, delicious cream sauce which everyone sampled. Tasting is believing!!

As you might expect, everywhere you turn at Rams Park is a reminder of some of the great players and teams over the years. Here is just a small sampling of what I saw:

The Fearsome Foursome, from left to right: Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones

Quarterback Kurt Warner

Running Back Eric Dickerson

Defensive End Jack Youngblood




Wishing you health & Joy, ~ Tracy

About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.



 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What "Sugar Free" means in Delightfully Free

In the cookbook world, "sugar free" means that the recipes are sweetened with something other than refined sugar. But what is it that makes these recipes sweet?? This is an important question.

In my cookbook, Delightfully Free, "sugar free," means that the recipes are free of all refined sugars and also free from any form of chemicals (the chief villain being aspartame) and the alcohol sugars such as maltitol and xylitol (sweeteners which always end in the letters "tol"). These sweeteners are not foods, but full-on chemicals that do harm to us in other significant ways than spiking our glycemic levels the way refined sugars do. By using these chemical sweeteners, a cookbook or a product can claim that it is "sugar free," yet the bottom line is that they are also unfortunately health free!


In many cookbooks, "sugar free" also doesn't necessarily mean that the healthiest refined sugar-free alternatives are being used. I feel very strongly that there is a definite ranking or hierarchy when it comes to healthiness, even among "natural" sweeteners. In Delightfully Free, I chose to use what I have come to believe are the very healthiest natural, low glycemic, nutritious, less refined and raw sweeteners.  

The only sweeteners I use in my cookbook are stevia and coconut palm sugar/nectar. In addition, in 7 recipes that are not heated, I use raw organic honey.

A few of the many brands of Coconut Palm Sugar, Stevia and Coconut Nectar

Stevia is a natural, plant-derived sweetener which comes in liquid or powder form. It is intensely sweet, 200-300 times more sweet than table sugar, although it is not a sugar at all, but a flavor. Something to celebrate about...stevia has no calories and a glycemic index of zero. All of this makes it probably the healthiest sweetener we can use. So, I start with stevia, but because it can have a bitter aftertaste if too much is used, I found just the right amount for each recipe without tasting bitter. This way, we cut down on even the amount of natural sugar in my recipes. Then I used coconut palm sugar, with its delicious flavor, as my secondary sweetener.

Only 4 of the many brands of Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar, which I've been excited about for some time now, is a granular, natural, unrefined sweetener made from the flower of the coconut palm tree. It has fewer calories than honey or agave nectar. Not only does coconut palm sugar have a low glycemic index of about 35 compared to table sugar with a glycemic index of 80, it is actually a nutrient-dense food containing vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and amino acids. It has a rich flavor, which is considered to be preferable to white or brown sugar. In cooking and baking, it behaves much like traditional sugar, and so allows for easy substitution and the same desired results. You can learn more about coconut palm sugar in my post a few years back (See, Coconut Sugar ~ It's Sweet, 2/17/11).

Coconut Secret was the first brand I found being sold in markets, but other brands are coming along

Coconut Nectar is a sweet syrup which, like coconut palm sugar, is the unprocessed "sap" of the coconut tree blossom. Although coconut nectar and coconut palm sugar come from the coconut tree, they do not have a coconut flavor. Also, like coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar is nutrient-dense, containing 17 amino acids, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins and a neutral pH. Its glycemic index is an admirable 35 and it has a delicious flavor which makes it and coconut palm sugar superior to other "natural" sweeteners in terms of flavor and health.

Raw honey, because it is unprocessed, scores between 30-40 on the glycemic index compared to processed honeys which score between 55-80.  

Regarding agave nectar, I, along with most of the health community, believed at one time that agave nectar was a solid choice for a natural sweetener. So, in the first edition of Delightfully Free, I used it as one of my sweeteners. However, In the last couple of years, I have come to believe that there are better choices of natural sweeteners than agave nectar, so in the 2nd Edition of Delightfully Free, I reworked 52 recipes, eliminating agave nectar, and enhancing all the delicious recipes people have come to know and enjoy in the book.  

When it comes to sweeteners--it's all about knowing what to use and how to use it. So,  what kinds of sugar do you use? If you cook and bake using recipes from Delightfully Free, you now know the answer. For an even broader source of healthy info about ingredients used in Delightfully Free, you can check out the section at the beginning of the book entitled "Stocking your GF DF SF Pantry".

Wishing you health and Joy,

~ Tracy

About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.



 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Refined Sugar? No Thank You!

What are We up against with Refined Sugar?  

There are many reasons to avoid white table sugar, which is our enemy and is waging war on our health. White sugar is highly processed and refined and, therefore, has no nutritional value whatsoever and is a whopping 80 on the glycemic index--and, these are arguably its better features!! If you want to read more about the numerous negatives that come from refined sugar such as damage to organs, depletion of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals, diabetes, hypoglycemia and more, then read what The Macrobiotic Guide has to say about the subject: http://www.macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm. Pretty intense and enough to make anyone serious about their weight, health and well-being want to eliminate or dramatically curtail their consumption of refined sugar.



A big part of the problem is that many times we don't realize the massive amounts of sugar hidden in our foods. For example, let's consider a staple in the American diet--ketchup.

Did you know that when we add traditional ketchup to our plate, we are ingesting hidden sugars? High-fructose corn syrup (generally the second ingredient in Ketchup) and corn syrup (usually the forth ingredient) are detrimental to our health and are called "added sugars".

Types of "added sugars" include fructose (linked to heart disease because it raises triglycerides and cholesterol and is completely devoid of any nutrition), corn syrup (with a high glycemic index of 75 and very little nutritional value), high fructose corn syrup (with a glycemic index of 87 and believed by many health advocates to be, along with refined sugar, the biggest contributor to health ailments) and glucose (AKA dextrose) which holds the infamous distinction of a glycemic rating of 100! Believe it or not, the average American throws down 350-475 calories of added sugars a day! And that's in addition to the other sugars that they might know they are consuming. 

"Sugar Free" the Right Way 

Artificial and alcohol-based sweeteners have many negatives. We should avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and all of the alcohol sugars such as maltitol and xylitol (sweeteners which always end in the letters "tol") because they are chemicals, not foods. Without going further into that subject here, please let me be clear on one point: You will never find refined sugar or artificial or alcohol-based sweeteners in any of the recipes in my cookbook, Delightfully Free. (I will cover what I do use to sweeten my recipes in my next post.)

Another point to be aware of is that some natural sweeteners can change as you cook or bake them, causing their glycemic index to rise. For instance, raw honey has a glycemic index of 30-40. But when honey is processed, it is heated to a high heat, causing its glycemic index to rise to 55-80. For this reason, in the few instances that I use raw honey in Delightfully Free, it is only in recipes that are not cooked or baked after the raw honey has been added.

Yes, the American diet needs some big changes when it comes to sugar. But, we're not your average Americans, are we?  No, No. Because we know the secrets of stevia and  coconut palm sugar, which are healthy, happy, natural, low glycemic sweeteners, we make baked goods and confections into amazingly delicious and surprisingly nutritious treats! So, please look for my next post which will cover the natural sweeteners in my cookbook.

Wishing you happy AND healthy eating,

~ Tracy

About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.