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Excellent Blogs + Spiced Vegan Chai Cocoa

Posted Nov 06 2008 2:34pm
Sorry for the uber long delay here, but Cheryl over at Gluten Free Goodness has dragged me out of the blogging closet with her nomination of Cindalou's for an Excellent Blog Award. I begrudgingly (and gratefully, I might add) brushed off our basement office mold and dust to peck yet again at the keyboard. (This time it is not for calculations of the rate of matter spiraling into a black hole or deriving the gauge transformation with the trace reversed metric perturbation ... sorry, that's GR speak polluting my brain from our midterm exam).

This time, however, I can share goodies about Cheryl and her nutrition-packed gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and corn free (whew!) kitchen. Hey, that beats the heck out of ion implantation stuff. How can Neon ions compare with her pesto? Admittedly, I'll need to nut-free that pesto for myself with a heaping pile of extra kalamata olives, but that garlic-y pesto looks deliciously green and appetizing. Alternatively, you may prefer Cheryl's creative Pesto-ed Fish, featuring garlic scapes. If you like healthy allergen free recipes with tons of fresh garden produce, I recommend Cheryl and re -nominate her for an excellent blog award. I don't know if that's possible, but rules are just guidelines anyways ... especially when they come between garlic pesto fish and myself. As an organic gardener and cook, Cheryl makes excellent dishes with seasonal produce. If you have a bumper crop of pears, basil, or veggies, then check out her concoctions for dinner ideas!

Here's the spiel:

The rules that accompany this award are as follows:

“Please find at least 10 more blogs of any kind which you deem to be excellent; but hey if you only come up with 3 or 5 (I chose 8), I don’t mind. Post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post is up, and of course let your 10 award winners know too."

Cindalou's "Excellent Blogs":

Gluten Free For Good
: Pumpkin anyone? Beets and Greens? Melissa over at Gluten Free for Good has a fantastic blog (and website) oriented not only at the gf recipe community, but she also lends her nutritionist expertise to the rest of us. Seasonal ingredients (with recipes!) punctuate the streaming health posts and exposes on hot nutrition topics. Melissa also knows how to have a good time, as she often shares her beautiful photos taken while hiking the Colorado wilderness. I can admire those sharp mountain peaks from afar, drool over her Pumpkin Pancakes, and laugh out loud at her humorous rantings on nutritional disasters and the advertising conspiracy. If you haven't seen the high fructose corn syrup commercials yet, read her comments on it and the role of sugar in modern diets versus health. If you have a sweet tooth, don't despair! Even as a bonafide health professional, she makes sweet amends and provides recent Celiac health & nutrition conference updates to the rest of us - unprivileged - non-health pro invitees.

Gluten Free Mommy: Unfortunately Natalie is out of the kitchen blogosphere right now due to her pregnancy (what a great reason, yey!), but GF Mommy is one of my favorite (and NC local) blogs. Her fish stew is reminiscent of one of my favorite quick healthy recipes for cool nights, and her beautiful pictures of gluten free cakes make me pine for dairy and a trip to Raleigh :). Also, if you enjoy Indian food as much as I do, you don't want to miss Natalie's bombay chicken and kung pao chicken. Update: She posted a fantastic Thanksgiving Frozen Pumpkin Pie which looks oh-so-tempting (once dairy-freed, of course).

Book of Yum: Although Sea is already an "E" blog as well, I'm going to jump aboard and give Book of Yum another vote. How could I forget such an expansive multiple-allergen friendly food blogger with a kindred appreciation for turmeric and spinach? I love the exotic Asian-inspired and Indian dishes from Book of Yum, as well as the focus on creative and often vegetarian and/or vegan recipes. Her uncheese nutritional yeast dairy free spinach pie and recent poppy seed goat cheese beet salad are calling my name (darn that goat cheese!). If you are adventurous in the kitchen, check out Sea's creations for great bento (lunch box) and dinner idea. Sea also gives many nondairy (often soy or nut based) "butter" and "cream" recipes for dairy-intolerant individuals like myself.

Great Mastications: Orla dishes up some great gf healthy recipes with a serious Canadian appreciation of healthy hemp, as well as teaching all of us a little more common sense about sustainable green living (see her post Green Business for a great "Stop buying crap we don't need" read). Come spring and summertime, I'll be gorging myself with her hemp seed and green onion dip, mmm!

Gluten Free Bay
: Fall is brimming with holiday opportunity to try out a few of the Bay's plethora of creative kosher gluten free recipes. I am looking forward to some matzo balls for chicken soup and some low glycemic sweet potato and leek latkes. If you keep kosher and juggle allergies, the Bay is an invaluable resource for recipes and product updates!

Caveman Food: Elizabeth serves up great Paleo meals like the Sam I Am Eggs (told you Mom!) and Lamb Meatballs. For everyone on a low carb or cavemen-esque diet, I highly recommend her site. It's easy to get stuck in a rut on a low carb diet and eat the same ole ho-hum food, but Elizabeth's meals can appetize the low carber and regular diner alike. Who doesn't like (gluten and dairy free!) chicken fingers? Don't forget your vegetables either! Vital to health and the low carb and Paleo lifestyles, Cave(wo)men do eat their veggies! Restricted diets can be hard without further limiting food groups voluntarily, so check her out for gluten free, dairy free, low carb/Paleo meals.

Aprovechar: I know everyone else has given Sally an "E" already, but I must chime in. Sally's recipes are great healthy recipes for anyone looking for allergen free weight loss dinner ideas, but the real sparkle in her blogging comes from her heartfelt discussions regarding her life experience. Sally harbors the genuine glow of someone who has overcome traumatic health problems through an inspiring recovery. I know many people who can fake optimism, but Sally really has a true light shining from her soul. Besides, she makes tempting gluten free vegan Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies featuring flax seed (horrah!) to munch while you ponder enlightenment.

Jeena's Kitchen: Mediterranean cuisine (not all gluten or allergen free) with tons of delicious photographic recipes with everything from lamb and fish to traditional vegetable curries and desserts. The lamb dishes are always some of Jon's favorite objects 'o drool, like her lamb mint meatballs (use gf bread or ground flax).

I'm sure I missed a few excellent gluten free blogs, so my apologies. Other top authors are Cathy Wong and Dr. Ben Kim, both very knowledgeable alternative health authorities and creative cooks. Dr. Ben Kim even has a healthy corn syrup and HFCS freepecan pie recipe stocked full of delicious dates for the holidays! All of these yummy blogs are stirring my appetite for a nice warm mug of cocoa ...

Spiced Vegan Chai Cocoa
[low glycemic to boot]

The onset of brisk cold nights here in NC drags out a plethora of random herbs and unsweetened cocoa powder for a nightly rendevouz with my otherwise shivering hands. I have to make all my own cocoas since commercial AND affordable varieties come complete with a) corn syrup, b) dairy ... and more derivatives of dairy, and c) tons of other crap.

Unsweetened non-dutch processed cocoa is not treated with alkali and is all we use at Cindalou's. Why no dutch processed cocoa? The dutch processing destroys most of the flavonols present in cocoa, as discussed in this Chocolate as a Health Food article. Besides, addition of unnecessary metals to perfectly good cocoa for a milder taste seems .. unnecessary. Curious minds can find a concise description of the sundry varieties of chocolate and cocoa at this Wikipedia site.

All of the cocoa details aside, if you want quick and easy homemade vegan cocoa, gather any combination of the following herbs and ingredients and stir away! (The amounts are approximate, and as such, this is barely a recipe at all. This is an herb-y cocoa based on my old slippery elm tea of healing warmth.)

  • 2 T. unsweetened non-dutch cocoa powder

  • 4 drops liquid Stevia (if desired) or agave/honey to taste

  • 1 t. slippery elm - various soothing digestive actions, high in iron and vitamins, helps kidney problems, diarrhea and constipation (similar action to psyllium)

  • 1 t. cayenne pepper - arthritis, pain relief (internal & external), soothes & improves digestion, metabolic booster

  • 2 t. cinnamon - antifungal, antibacterial, improves glucose metabolism (diabetes), anticlotting, helpful for memory

  • dash ground ginger - excellent nausea and digestive aid, antiinfammatory, aids in prevention of cancer, immunity booster

  • 1 t. crushed fennel seeds - very high in Vitamin C, improves immunity, high in folate (a B vitamin) and fiber, helps keep the colon and heart healthy
  • dash ground fenugreek - high in fiber and amino acids, lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar, helps soothes digestion, loosens mucous, can stimulate the sex drive, and has an interesting folk use for breast enlargement. It also improves milk flow from nursing mothers, may help fight obesity, aids in heart disease, and can ease menstrual pain. It shouldnotbe used in high, frequent doses, or by pregnant women

  • 1 t. cardamom (ground) - digestive aid, gas reliever, stimulant, and helps to break up mucous. Add extra cardamom to your tea, soups, stews, curry dishes, or pies if you have a cold or some congestion

  • dash coriander (ground) - helps control blood sugar, useful in diabetes, good source of mucilage, and helps control cholesterol

  • dash cloves (ground) - the active eugenol in cloves aids in inflammation and arthritis, digestive disorders and cancers, detoxification from environmental pollutants, pain relief, and anesthetic. Chew on a clove bud for a toothache and your whole mouth will go numb! It is also high in minerals and contains some Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • 2+ cups boiling water or 1 c. boiling water 1 c. hemp milk (or other milk or favorite milk substitute)
Mix all in the mug(s), pour over water and/or warmed [hemp] milk and stir. Dilute and sweeten to preference. Use Stevia or agave for low glycemic (~0 and ~11 glycemic index, respectively), or add honey (~32 a low g.i.) as desired. Honey harbors amazing antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant benefits, so don't fear the honey bee! If you want more health benefits on each ingredient, check out the links above.

Serves: 1-2 (depending on water or "milk" use)

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues: Healthy Celiac / Coeliac Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes

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