Creativity Cooks

Collage ~ Cooking ~ Creativity … inspired by three generations of women

Look What You Can Eat!

That is what my kids called the tv show they suggested I create for the Food Network. With a family full of food sensitivities it was my quest to find all the foods they could eat, so they could stop feeling so bad about what they couldn’t. No wheat, no gluten, so sugar, no dairy, no fat, no meat, no preservatives, no pesticides, no GMO’s … the list seems endless. It is a daunting discovery to face what foods you cannot have when you enjoyed them so, were comforted by them, rewarded with them. Our American relationship to food is bizarre – and I think we are all beginning to understand this. Too many of us have health issues, starting at younger ages and wreaking havoc in our lives. So, while my kids (or myself) looked at the list with a quivering lip, raging anger, extreme frustration or just plain disappointment, their cries of “I’ll just never eat again!!” did not fall on deaf ears. Let’s take things one at a time, I am sure you have been where I am about to go.

Tis the season for salads, slaws, more veggies from the farmer’s market, summer fruits and lighter foods in general. Keep it seasonal and simple. Here are some easy things you can do with foods you can have and none of these recipes has any of the n0-nos listed above.

Can’t have Cole Slaw anymore? Too much fat, sugar or salt in the mayo? Use lemon or lime juice and the zest, a little olive oil, some sea salt, fresh ground pepper and some fresh herbs to make a dressing you can keep in the frig for green salads as well. If you like a touch of sweet, use a little agave (low glycemic nectar for sweetening) or some organic honey or even a bit of stevia/truvia/pure-via if that’s what you like. Whisk together and set aside in a jar in the frig. Change your dressing taste as you change the herbs or citrus. Try adding a bit of chili powder and chopped cilantro to the lime based version…yum! Grab a green cabbage, some carrots and a red onion. Thinly slice or grate the cabbage and carrots, very thinly slice the onion. Toss with the dressing to taste. I always add toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds – you can add some currants or raisins too. Try red cabbage, which is delicious this way, combine it with the green. I recommend herbing it up with fresh dill or fresh tarragon or fresh parsley – whatever you like!

Not enough fiber in your diet? Eat more veggies! No one eats enough veggies, except perhaps vegans and some vegetarians. Get thee to the farmer’s market or the organic section of the produce aisle! Maybe you have a garden? How about some of these suggestions:

Diced Veggie Saladsummer squash, zucchini diced small and red onion diced even smaller, carrots peeled and grated (no more than two unless you are making this for a party), corn kernels (fresh or frozen thawed), diced red bell pepper (green too if you like) and use the dressing above. I recommend the chili powder/lime version or a dilly lemon version for this salad. Like potato salad but the regular kind is on your ‘don’t’ list? Try cooking a few red skinned potatoes (not too soft!) and dicing them into this salad. Look what you can eat! This salad is happy to go to any barbecue this summer as your contribution!

On the veggie side of things, think soups for summer, chilled soups! Easy now, don’t bolt… I have some delicious ideas for you!

Chilled Carrot-Ginger (or Carrot-dill if you prefer) – couldn’t be easier. First, carrots – 4-6 of the nice big ones – peel, trim top and bottom, and rough chop kinda small. Take one Vidalia onion, medium size and dice that. Slice a nice, big clove of garlic.  Start sauteing the onions in a drizzle of olive oil (about a tablespoons worth on a med-low flame or setting) in a saucepan that will also hold 4 cups of liquid or more, I like room – with a lid on it. Check it occasionally as it sizzles – stir them, cooking till golden in color. This may take some time, but the window exhaust fan is on, the pot is covered reducing escaping heat and maybe you’re making the slaw at the same time! As the onions cook down a bit, add the garlic and the carrots, stirring it up. Add 4 cups (or more depending on your carrots – cover them with liquid) of water and a veggie stock cube – or chicken or vegetable stock depending on your choice. Turn up the heat to med-high to start a good, brisk simmer. Once there, take the heat to med-low and lid on, let it simmer slowly. Leave it alone, set a timer for 30 minutes if you worry.  When the timer goes off or you know it’s been a half hour, turn it off and let it cool down a bit. Got a hand-held blender? I love it for this job – I use the low setting and put it right into the pot and puree away! I add fresh chopped dill or 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (peeled) and sea salt and pepper to taste. You can also jazz this up with lemon zest if you like, use fresh parsley instead of dill. Chill it and then you can chill out and enjoy!

Do you like cucumbers? Yogurt? Try this:

Peel 3 large cukes and cut two of them in quarters, discarding  the seeds. Grate one into a big-ish bowl, rough chop the other two into another bowl or leave on the cutting board. Grab your favorite plain yogurt and your blender. Put two chopped cukes and 16 oz. of yogurt in the blender, add the juice of 1 lemon (zest the skin into the big-ish bowl with the grated cukes), 1 garlic clove (peeled and pressed) and a tablespoon of honey. Blend on medium till all is creamy. Pour this into the big-ish bowl. Chop some fresh dill and add to the mix, stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle some sea salt and grind some fresh pepper into it, to taste. Chill this ~ I swear it’s the most refreshing chilled soup you have ever eaten. Not only that, this soup is good for digestion too. Who knew? Well, okay, I did. You probably do too.

It’s summer… we want ice cream, but we can’t have it – too much sugar, dairy, fat, or all three. What to do?

Have you tried Greek yogurt yet? Try the plain; whole or 2% (*see note below) and add fresh fruit. Blueberries are the easiest, and you could use frozen, which makes it nice and frosty! Drizzle a bit of organic honey or Agave Nectar on top.

Make your own frozen treats – get some paper cups and some wooden popsicle sticks (yes, the old-fashioned kind, this is a good thing for kids to do) and fill them with homemade lemonade (water, lemon juice or lime juice and agave sweetened to taste). You can add bits of fruit or whole berries to and freeze overnight.

*Note: I have been instructed by naturopathic nutritionists that calcium is a fat soluble mineral (the mineral is contained in the fat to transport it through the digestive process) so I do not eat fat-free dairy products. Yogurt and aged cheeses (especially goat/sheep or organic only cow dairy) are my main dairy indulgences…everything in moderation!

That’s enough for now… you can bet I have more ideas in mind and next blog will have  – I love to say “Look what you can eat!”

I hope you enjoy my amateur food photography – it’s nuthin’ if it ain’t honest! Here is a picture of the Chilled Carrot-Dill soup and my favorite – Fage yogurt and fresh blueberries!

Chilled Carrot-Dill Soup and Favorites