Food for Thought

Today I was thinking about biking 13 miles out to a local state park and joining friends for a swim. I’ve been waking around 6:30 every morning, trying to prepare for the grueling morning schedule my son and I will face in one week when he starts junior high and I start teaching an 8 a.m. class 30 miles from home. Somehow I was pulled back into a weird dream and awoke at 9, groggy and a little grumpy. My ankle was stiff and sore in spite of icing it last night from a 15 min. encounter with one of the stationary bikes at my gym last night, so I decided to heed caution and not ride. I thought about swimming today and realized that I am still not supposed to put my head under water for another week until my ear issues are resolved.

So, I decided that food therapy was in order. I love to cook and bake. I always make time to prepare my own meals, even if it is throwing whatever is in my fridge into an omelette or onto rice pasta or quinoa.

I’ll admit that my current diet is high maintenance. I am highly lactose intolerant and for two years I have eaten gluten-free. At one point I was having so much pain and bloating that I went to see a gastroenterologist who tested me for gluten allergies, lactose and fructose intolerance. Thank goodness I am not fructose intolerant, and although I am not allergic to gluten, all signs point to intolerance (skin rashes and all IBD symptoms that are too lovely to describe here). The most comfortable I had been was on Phase 1 of South Beach Diet, which is too restrictively low-carb to follow constantly, but did help me lose 10 pounds at one point and feel a lot better. The lactose test is really icky; you breathe into a bag every 15 minutes for 4 hours and a specialist monitors how much gas you are producing after swallowing a cup of lactose mixture at the beginning of the test.

The doctor did help me with a lot of my symptoms, including suggesting meditation (which I sadly never do) and breathing exercises to reduce stress. One of the questions that he asked in my first visit was, “Do you fart?” My son rolls on the floor laughing when I imitate his Indian accent, because he followed that up with, “Are they stinky?” Yes, they are! I almost killed off my ex-husband on our first road trip together through the French countryside. We were in the gorgeous Cantal region and stopped at every farm to try the yummy local cheeses. Even though snow was on the ground, we ended up with the windows rolled down and our noses plugged for the rest of the trip. He still married me so I must have some redeeming qualities.

I can take Lactose pills, but they are pricey and I have to take about 4 in order to eat ice cream. I buy lactose-free milk and stick primarily to goat’s cheese.

Today I am making dairy-free chocolate sorbet. I originally found this recipe in the Wine Spectator and have doctored it a little to fit my needs. This version can be found on Epicurious.com. I have a Kitchen Aid sorbet maker and have found I need to freeze the sorbet overnight or it is just delicious chocolate gloop (which my friend Katy and I found to be just fine served up with berries during my trials last year.)

CHOCOLATE SORBET

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk, for 45 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.

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I am also making EatingWell Energy Bars. My favorite gluten-free snacks to have while teaching or on a road trip are Kind bars. However, at my local grocery store they run $1.75 a piece and I find that too much to stock like granola bars. They have them at Starbucks and I love to grab one there when I’m on the run. This recipe came from “Eating Well” magazine, which I subscribe to. The first batch fell apart and was like really healthy cracker jacks. Today I added half a cup of home-ground peanut butter that I melted with the corn syrup before adding to the dry mix. I hope they stick together a little better.

EatingWell Energy Bars

12 bars

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 6 dried apricots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons brown rice syrup or light corn syrup

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
  2. Combine peanuts, rice cereal, oats, pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds, blueberries, apricots and chocolate chips in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with syrup and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Coat another piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the bar mixture, sprayed-side down. Place another pan on top and press firmly to compress the mixture. (Pressing before baking helps the bars hold together after baking.) Remove top pan and foil. 
  4. Bake until just beginning to turn golden at the edges, 20 to 24 minutes (metal pan) or 30 to 35 minutes (glass pan). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully lift the baked square out of the pan by holding the edges of the foil and place on a cutting board, leaving the foil underneath. Cut in half, then cut each half crosswise into 6 bars. Let cool completely before lifting the bars off the foil.

*****************

What kind of dog doesn’t love peanut butter gook?

Cheers! Now I guess I need to drag myself to the pool to do some aqua jogging and start my syllabus. After I lick a few pans myself.

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