Monday, November 28, 2011

A Spicy Plate: The Biggest Rip-Off

I was in my local David's Natural Market picking up a few things. Being a specialty store, it's not the most cost-friendly, but they do have sales and if you pay attention to what you're buying you can actually do alright price-wise. They tend to have the more unusual items on my shopping list like muscovado sugar, brands that use BPA-free cans (most don't and I do not need 1200% more BPA in my body), as well as ice cream and butter sourced from local farms. They also have a great bulk section loaded with oats, nuts, legumes, and spices.

I strolled past the jarred spices and picked up a container of bay leaves. Seven dollars! I was annoyed at the price, but tossed them into my cart, figuring I would see if they had any in the bulk section when I got there. They did, and I'd like to share the numbers with you:

1 jar of gourmet bay leaves (.14 oz) is around $7.
Bay leaves in bulk (I purchased about .5 oz) are 79 CENTS.


Yep, a spice company sold bay leaves in a tiny jar for $50 (that's fifty) per ounce and I got a bag of bulk bay leaves for $1.58 per ounce.

I'll admit, this is an extreme example, but it illustrates a great point which is that buying spices to cook with can be prohibitively expensive and probably scares a lot of people away from branching out in their cooking. I'm sure there is some quality difference between the jarred and bulk spices, but for dried leaves that are removed from the dish before it is eaten - whatever difference there may be is not worth the spike in price. With other spices, I imagine the most improvement in flavor is obtained by grinding them freshly in the kitchen (remember how it was with coffee?), which I am not prepared to do.

So how can you afford spices? And which ones are worth your money? If you haven't figured it out, look in the bulk section of stores; huge chains generally do not sell spices in bulk but some health food stores do. The absolute best place I've found to purchase spices is at ethnic markets - Indian, Mexican, and all varieties of Asian. There, the spices are inexpensive. They typically come in large packages so you won't have to buy a new jar every other week, and it's easy to find the exotic ones that have been eluding you. Here's my list of essential dried spices for cooking (not baking):

Basil
Bay Leaves
Cardamom (green pods and/or powder)
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander Seeds (these are the seeds that form on your cilantro plant, for you herb gardeners)
Cumin Seeds
Curry Powder (mild-to-medium)
Garam Masala (it's a blend of other spices, but it's tedious to make and so good it's worth buying)
Ground Coriander
Ground Cumin
Nutmeg (whole is better than ground, but both are good)
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Sea Salt & Black Pepper (freshly ground)
Thyme
Turmeric
Vanilla beans (whole)

I'd love to know if readers have other suggestions for must-have cooking spices! Once you've got your spice cabinet stocked, get inspired to use them and whip up some flavorful and aromatic dishes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wheatless Wednesday (The Last)

We thought it would never come. The end of not eating wheat - and just in time for stuffing and pies! Questions still need to be answered. How do we feel? Have we lost weight? Are we going to change our diets forever?

I feel good. As I've mentioned in previous WW posts, I think the foods I've been eating are more agreeable to my body than things like pizza and cookies. Also, I have tons more energy, especially in the mornings! There are still nights where I fall asleep on the couch at 9pm, but I blame that on Henry's 5:30am please-pet-me-nuzzles-and-tail-wagging. As for losing weight, I have no idea. We didn't weigh ourselves when we started (bad experimenters) and we don't own a working scale to weigh ourselves now.

Dan doesn't think he feels any differently. He finds that he isn't craving his usual wheat-full food like sandwiches or pizza, but he is looking forward to drinking his homebrewed beer.

Are we going to change our diets in the future? I've already written that I am permanently replacing the cinnamon-sugar sprouted grain toast I normally eat in the morning with old fashioned oatmeal sprinkled with muscovado sugar. I'm going to continue turning down cookies and cake at the office. I think we will eat pizza less often. I have never been a big pretzel or white-bread-sandwich eater.

Wheatless Recipe
We've made this "Amazing Beans" recipe several times over the past year and it's always really good! In fact, it was the first dish that inspired us to improve our collection of spices; it is one of the reasons our cabinets remain stocked with essentials like cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, and garam masala. If you don't have these, find an international/Asian grocer or market and look there. The spices will be unbelievably cheap and you can usually find some really interesting items.

One great thing about Amazing Beans is that they are made in a slow cooker. Slow cookers/crockpots are handy because you can turn them on in the morning, let the Dinner Fairy work her magic all day, and come home to a nice-smelling kitchen full of ready-to-eat food. Once you learn to shove that nagging worry about the house burning down into the back of your mind, slow cookers are wonderful things. This particular recipe has you cook the food for 5 and 1/2 hours, adding some things, then cook it all a bit longer. I wasn't sure how to work this out since I'm gone for 9ish hours every day. Dan (and a Christmas light timer) to the rescue!  He gets full credit for the idea, and it's a good one if you don't have one of those fancy crockpots where you set the cooking times. Read on!

Ingredients
1 cup dried lentils (black lentils are recommended, brown ones are easier to find and are also good)
1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
3 bay leaves
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 small onion
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves
2-4 Thai, Serrano, or Cayenne chilies (we have used jalapenos in a pinch)
1 T cumin seed
1 T coriander seed
1 good lug of olive oil
1 t turmeric
1 t red chili powder
2 T tomato paste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 T sea salt
7 cups water
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Whew!

Directions
Rinse off the lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Every website I've ever seen advises you to pick through for stones - I never do that. Let your spirit of adventure and fondness for your dentist be your guide.

Put the rinsed lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, bay leaves, cardamom pods, tomato paste, and cinnamon stick in the slow cooker.


In a blender or food processor (I use my average-at-best blender and it works fine) blend the onion ginger, garlic cloves, and chilies into a paste. You shouldn't need to add any liquid as the onion will be a bit watery.


The next step is to roast the cumin and coriander seeds. Add the seeds to a dry pan over medium-high heat. You'll need to stand there and stir/shake the seeds so they don't stay in one spot too long and burn. After about 2-3 minutes you'll notice them start to get a bit darker and become fragrant. Once browned, put them in a dish to cool; once cooled, grind them. You can use a fancy spice grinder for this, a mortar and pestle, or you can put the seeds in a plastic baggie and beat them with a rolling pin or something else heavy. All good options.


Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion mixture from your blender. Let it brown for about 5 minutes, add the smashed cumin-coriander seeds, red chili powder, and salt. Heat this all together for a couple of minutes. Add it to your slow cooker along with the tomato paste and water.

Cook this for 5 and 1/2 hours on high. If you're like me and out for more than 5 and 1/2 hours at a time, this is when you dig out the Christmas light timer. Set it to start 5 and 1/2 hours before you will get home and plug everything in; the mixture can sit undisturbed in the crockpot until the timer allows it to start cooking.

After 5 and 1/2 hours, add the yogurt and cream. Mix that in and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.

Top with the fresh cilantro. Brown basmati rice and naan (not wheatless) are excellent additions to the Amazing Beans.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sugar. Oooohhhh Honey Honey.

I don't exactly have the credentials to warrant people coming to me for dietary advice. That's part of what A Peaceful Plate is about: giving unsolicited food guidance to the masses (40 or so people). I imagine if I was the sort of blogger who received questions, a really popular one would be:

Dear Peaceful Plate,
What types of sweeteners should I use? It seems like they are all bad.

Or maybe:

Dear Peaceful Plate,
I loooooooove diet soda. I have four every day. Is that okay?

To answer those completely fake, but likely popular questions, I would like to discuss the various options people have when it comes to sweeteners. Here's the caveat: if you have too much of ANY of them, ANY of them can be bad for you. Even the ones that aren't so bad in moderate amounts. Most of your sugar intake should come from whole foods like fruit - not soda, not energy drinks, not prepackaged candy or cookies, not cocktails or juices. Some added sweetness is fine in an occasional treat like dessert or a tasty morsel that you've made from scratch (nope, not cutting up and baking a log of cookie dough).


Sugar (sucrose, common table sugar): White sugar is made by refining raw sugar, which comes from the sugarcane plant. There's a good explanation of the process on Sucropedia that I do not need to reproduce here. It's complex and involves heating, spinning, clarifying, adding things to separate crystals from syrup and making the sugar white (bone char, anyone?), more spinning, and drying.

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar used to be a slightly less processed version of white sugar, but these days they just add molasses back into the white stuff. Seriously, read the label.

Turbinado, Demerera, and Muscovado Sugar: These are all examples of less refined cane sugars, muscovado being the least refined of all. You can often substitute turbinado or demerera when white sugar is called for; muscovado is an awesome brown sugar sub, and unlike refined brown sugar, it gets it's deep color and rich taste naturally from the sugarcane. When made under regulated conditions, it evenpacks in more nutrients and minerals than other refined sugars. Muscovado is in the midst of making a comeback, and can currently be found in specialty food stores and online. It's my topping of choice for a bowl of old fashioned oatmeal or baked apples, and here are 8 other ways to use it.

Agave: This one surprised me - agave nectar is not a good choice as labels would have you believe. It's highly refined, and it has more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Even if it says "raw". Even if it says "natural". These terms are barely regulated by the food industry. FoodRenegade's blog has a great write-up that goes into more detail.

Honey: Honey, on the other hand, is a delicious natural sweetener. It's great for adding to hot beverages. You can stir it into Greek yogurt. You can ferment it to make mead and impress your friends. Bears love it. Honey can be purchased both pasteurized (what you regularly find in stores) and raw - I prefer the taste or raw honey, but both types are good. If you can find local honey (think orchards or farmer's markets), eating it may even help to temper seasonal allergies. Just be sure not to do your honey-shopping from any drugstores. A recent study found that honey from Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS is guaranteed to be lacking pollen (there goes the allergy help) and is also pretty likely to be laced with harmful heavy metals.

Splenda, Equal, Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, etc: Get outta here! Yes, the FDA says they are safe to eat, but I have my doubts. Once, before my Peaceful Plate days, I accidentally ate some sugar-free Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and had a stomachache and headache for several hours afterwards. You will definitely find artificial sweeteners in products labeled "sugar free", but you have to read labels because manufacturers may sneak them in elsewhere. Yogurt is a great example as many brands contain aspartame. Even if there is nothing in these chemical sweeteners that will cause cancer or diabetes or some new disease, they are still bad. Human taste buds are malleable - about three weeks of eating a given diet and our tastebuds will adjust to it. If we cut out salt, something Americans consume far too much of, food might taste a bit bland for a month but then we'll learn to taste a smaller amount of salt which naturally occurs in foods; cheese is a good example. What if we turn that principle around? Consuming Splenda, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar, can dull our threshold for sweetness to the point that sugar is no longer sweet enough. So we dump more Splenda packets into our coffee, and we are apt to indulge in more cookies, more cake, and more candy to satiate our sweet tooth. All of which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and cancer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wheatless and Meatless but Not Beetless Wednesdays (Part 3)

Three weeks down and we are still going strong! Dan thinks he isn't enjoying the benefits of wheatlessness as much as he should be because he's had a cold most of the time and a mild case of poison ivy (from pulling it out of Henry's mouth - remember my post about that dog eating EVERYTHING?). Conclusion: wheat has nothing to do with poison ivy immunity. I, on the other hand, think that my digestion has improved, I have an easier time waking up in the morning, and I am sure that I feel better after eating my new breakfast of old-fashioned oatmeal.

Lessons Learned
Just one lesson for the past week. I typically try to cook a bunch of food at some point over the weekend so that we have lots of leftovers. Planning ahead is good, but not the moral I was getting at. In the span of about three hours on Sunday, I attempted to squeeze in: kale chips, vegetable broth, cranberry-apple crumble, celery root and cashew cream soup, and sweet potato latkes. Everything turned out a little weird (although the vegetable broth is still unknown), which leads us to the lesson - Don't Rush!

Wheatless Recipe
We really enjoy homemade veggie burgers. Many recipes use flour to bind the vegetables together and if you go with a store bought variety, you can be assured some wheat and soy will be in there, too. The wheatless beet and oat burgers we made this week are a wonderful edition to an Autumn menu - beets are in season so now is the time to use them!

Beet, Oat, and Chickpea Burgers
1 beet, grated
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 potato, boiled (throw it in some boiling water for about 15 minutes or until you can put a fork through it easily)
some oats (3/4 cup?)
1 T tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
1 t cumin
pinch of sea salt, or to taste
1/4 t chili powder
1 t garam masala
1 T olive oil

Beet hands!

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Put the grated beet, chickpeas, and potato into a bowl. Mix and mash them all together.

Add the salt, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, and all spices. Mix it up again and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Add ground oats 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture is a consistency that you could form into patties. We only added 1/4 cup total.  Spread more oats out on a burger-sized plate. Form beet patties one at a time and press both sides of each onto the plate so the burgers are coated with the oats.

Place the patties on a baking sheet; line it with parchment paper if you wish for easier clean up. Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until they start to look crisp on the outside.



We enjoyed our burgers bun-less and they were delicious! The garlic and spice flavors really stood out. Another win for beets!.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Battle of the (Coffee) Beans

I've previously made note of Dan's coffee habit and my opinion that everyone should make their coffee at home. The theory is that homemade is no more time consuming than stopping at your favorite coffee shop, cheaper (even accounting for high quality and fair trade beans), and far better tasting. To confirm the "better tasting" notion, A Peaceful Plate has conducted a blind taste test with six coffees intended to represent a broad spectrum of what folks out there may drink.

The Players
Myself and Dan along with Nescafe Instant, a Chock Full O' Nuts can, a medium roast blend brewed in a Flavia machine (for those of you with single-serving machines like Keurig), a regular coffee from Starbucks, Dan's fair trade Peruvian beans ground a week prior and stored in a plastic baggie, and Dan's fair trade Peruvian beans ground just before the tasting.


All coffees were tasted black, without added cream or sugar.

The Method
Dan and I served each other small pours of each type of coffee in random order; the drinker never had knowledge of which type they were given. The server took notes as the drinker reacted to each coffee and described it's aroma and flavor.

The Hypothesis
As with any good scientific study, we had a hypothesis.  You can probably guess what it was: the fresh ground Peruvian beans will taste the best.

The Results

Katy's Reaction Dan's Reaction
Nescafe Instant bad small - terrible!!!!!!; too strong; could barely drink it fruity smell; interesting; doesn't taste as good as it smells; doesn't make me want to drink more
Chock Full O' Nuts can it's pretty and frothy; some smoothness but a bitter flavor deep burnt smell; good round flavor in front; way too bitter at the end
Flavia (Medium Roast) good smell; some sweetness; makes my mouth feel very dry and is too bold sweet smell; disappointing; not bold or as strong as expected; tasted like it's been sitting in a paper cup
Starbucks (Regular Black Coffee) watery texture; not a lot of flavor; like warm water with some bitterness no real smell; finishes clean; good but not flavorful - middle of the road
Fair Trade Peruvian Ground 1 Week Ago And Stored In A Plastic Baggie no scent; not bad; just ho-hum very little smell, nutty?; some bitterness and some dryness; stale
Fair Trade Peruvian Ground On The Spot burnt stinky smell; taste is SMOOTH; rich flavor; VERY GOOD decent smell, richness; "aaaahhhh this is delicious"; good taste; very little bitterness

I must confess my biggest worry as a participant was that my novice coffee tastebuds would betray me and prefer Nescafe Instant just as a novice wine drinker might be over the moon about a White Zinfandel. I can recall drinking exactly five cups of real coffee in my life: four cappuccinos and one espresso during a trip to Italy in 2009. Tall, skim, no-whip lattes and mochas from Starbucks don't count as "real". While I did not enjoy the smell of the freshly ground Peruvian beans, it is clear that Dan and I both found the taste to be superior. I want to emphasize that word again, because it truly was superior - none of the others even came close.

Hypothesis: Proven.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mighty Bean

Not long ago, I modified a black bean soup recipe and the result was so flavorful I knew I would write about it. My dilemma: what is there to say about black beans? I thought I might write about their nutritional prowess - calculations of fiber, protein, and iron. But I'm reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, and I'm in the midst of his chapters regarding nutrition science's Big Mistake. Science picks apart it's understanding of a food's value into it's nutrient parts, or rather, those nutrient parts of which science is aware. Nutrition scientists haven't always known about antioxidants or omega-6's or good versus bad cholesterol, so it's entirely possible that the bean has magical properties that have yet evaded nutritionists. Let's leave our understanding of the black bean at this: it is good for us.

In the interest of fairness, I will share with you one thing I dislike very much about beans. There are two ways to buy them: in a can (i.e. ready to eat but loaded with sodium) and dried (i.e. a days-long-sanity-robbing effort to re-hydrate). While I firmly believe the process of re-hydrating dried beans of all varieties is deserving of it's own article which I may get to at a later date, my technique is summarized below:
  1. Dump a LOT of beans into a colander. I say "a LOT" because you can freeze beans you're not immediately going to use and the whole process is too much of a pain to go through very often. Rinse them and pick through for stones.
  2. Put the beans in a large bowl, fill the bowl with enough water to cover the beans by 2-3 inches, cover, and set in the fridge. Leave it there at least overnight; I have abandoned beans in the fridge for up to 36 hours with no noticeable ill effects.
  3. Things that would be soft after 36 hours underwater: a potato, a block of parmesan, a dictionary. Not beans! Dump them in the crockpot, fill it with water, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  4. The beans are almost soft enough. If you're not going to use them immediately, this is the time to store them in the freezer. Otherwise, a bit more cooking in the destination meal (simmered in a soup, for example) should get them there. 
Aside from this annoyance, I have only praise for the mighty bean.  Beans are good for us. They are filling. They are yummy. Based on a recipe from So Good and Tasty and my own personal preferences for ginger and a lot of garlic, I've concocted a delicious black bean soup to demonstrate why all that soaking and boiling is well worth it.





Ingredients
1 yellow onion
5 garlic cloves
A thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
1 bell pepper
3-4 carrots
3-4 celery stalks
2.5-3 cups of re-hydrated black beans
A good squirt of lemon juice
Some water or homemade stock

Spices
1 T ground cumin
2 t ground coriander
1 t paprika
A pinch of chili powder
1 t dried oregano
2 bay leaves

Directions
Chop all the veggies. No need to arrange them photogenically. Heat a dollop of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and all the spices into the pot. Stir them around often for about 10 minutes until they have softened a bit.

Add the black beans, lemon juice, and enough stock or water (whichever you are using) to cover the mixture by about 2 inches. Bring it all to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat until the liquid has reduced to the point of barely covering the beans. This should take about 50 minutes. Check the water level periodically - if it gets low or you want a soupier soup, you can add more.

Get out your immersion blender! Remove the bay leaves (I always forget) and blend.

For more recipes, tips, and anecdotes, check out Fight Back Fridays on Food Renegade.

For even MORE healthy lifestyle ideas and real food cooking, go to Butter Believer Sunday School!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wheatless Wednesdays (Part 2)

Our crusade to rid our diets of wheat for four weeks continues! We are really getting the hang of things. Aside from cooking, Dan enjoyed another burrito bowl, we attended a crab feast, and we even went out to dinner at a local restaurant catering to dietary quirks.

Lessons Learned
  • Once again, planning tops the list. There's no easier way to break a wheatless pledge than to get caught hungry and without alternatives at the office pizza party. To keep a variety of snacks and meals available on a whim, we have to plan ahead, make a lot of things from scratch, and do some shopping at specialty stores. Dan has also made some modifications to his snack choices. While he would normally enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich on a lazy Sunday afternoon, these days he can be found noshing on a ball of fresh mozzarella.
  • The problem is in the soy sauce. Last week I mentioned we found out we couldn't eat at a particular Asian restaurant because everything on their menu (except salad) had wheat in it. I couldn't figure out what the wheat ingredient was until we tried to make our own stir-fry this week: it's the soy sauce. Gluten-free varieties exist, but we ended up making our own zingy sauce with rice vinegar, chili garlic paste, lime juice, moscovado sugar, and sesame oil.
  • Teamwork is going to be another major factor in our success. We don't have kids, undoubtedly leaving us with more free time than the average family, but we do have two full-time jobs, one crazy dog, a flag football team, a volleyball team, a running club, and plans with friends that keep us busy. By sitting down together to plan our meals and sharing kitchen responsibilities we both reap the benefits, and it makes finding the time to cook from scratch a lot easier. Togetherness is an element missing from many American meals, but shopping and cooking alongside each other is one way to reclaim it.
Wheatless Recipe
Last week, I featured a dessert so this time we're going to the other end of the menu. At a typical restaurant, appetizers might include rolls, sliced bread, breadsticks, or deep-fried-something, but none of that works for us. I had some farmer's market sweet potatoes on hand and was attracted to the title and photos of Farmhouse Baked Ricotta. I modified the recipe a bit, so I will reprint it here with our changes.

Ingredients
1 container ricotta cheese (The original recipe calls for 500g, but all we could find was a 412g size - thank you Imperial measurement system.)
1+1/3 cups grated parmesan cheese - we happened to already have a container of parm; any other sharp, hard cheese would work just as well. 
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Directions
Heat oven to 400F. 

Line a muffin or cupcake pan with 11 baking cups. Thanks to using a bit less cheese than recommended, we won't fill all 12 cups. Mix the ricotta and the 1 cup of the parmesan together in a bowl. Layer each baking cup with cheese mixture - 2 potato slices - more cheese mixture. Sprinkle what's left of the parmesan generously on top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  You will see the tops get puffy and start to look brown when they are done. Remove from the oven. The original recipe includes a fresh herb sauce to drizzle over these delightful little creations. We made the sauce, but I'm not including it here because I think a bit of pesto, which you can buy pre-made, would have been just as good (and much less work!).

Dan ate these warm, cold, with and without the herb topping and has confirmed every variation was delicious. Use them as a snack at lunch or as a dinner appetizer. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wheatless Wednesdays

Dan and I are conducting an experiment in wheatless living. It started on Thursday, October 27, and ends on Thanksgiving, which I find quite appropriate. Mainly for it's alliterative cuteness, I plan to chronicle our progress each Wednesday.  I'll post lessons learned and a wheatless recipe we've enjoyed.

Week 1
Last Thursday morning, Dan sent me an article outlining the premise of a book called Wheat Belly.  Dr. Davis, the author, blames expanding American waistlines almost entirely on the over-consumption of wheat. He cites changes made to the wheat plant itself and it's prominent role in our diet as the culprits. I'm in agreement with Davis that wheat is everywhere (cereal, bread, pretzels, cakes, cookies, pasta) and is added into a lot of foods where it doesn't belong (Doritos, lunch meats, some candy bars). Even so, I'm not sure I buy the entire argument. Some of his statements are quite strong and evidence appears spotty, but at the end of the article he presents us with a challenge: try eating no wheat for four weeks and see how you feel.

Do-able.

The next few minutes went something like this:
10:00am - We agree that no wheat for four weeks is a great idea.
10:02am - I realize we can't get pizza for dinner as we'd be planning. Sad face. Chipotle burrito bowls are decided upon instead.
10:10am - Dan realizes he can't drink his latest batch of homebrewed beer. Really sad face. He thinks he can avoid giving up beer altogether if he only chooses bottles that list ingredients (not many) and buys the ones that don't list wheat (even less).

Lessons Learned
  • Plan ahead. The first two days of our experiment found us eating the same foods for lunch and dinner.  We made Jamie Oliver's Hamilton Squash, and it was delicious, but after having it for lunch neither of us felt like eating it again a few hours later. We got our butts in gear and went to the store armed with a list and a plan by the third day.
  • Wheat is everywhere. I thought we would be able to find at least a few places to get wheatless take-out and suggested Pei Wei (steamed rice, vegetables, and some sauce should be okay, right?), but their nutritional information sheet online tells a different story. Only their salads are safe. 
  • It's hard to change your habits. For Dan, it's missing a grilled cheese or peanut-butter-banana sandwich at lunch.  For me, it's furiously munching on tortilla chips at a party to distract from the cupcake display.
  • More energy? By Sunday, I noticed feeling more energized, particularly in the morning. Dan, on the other hand, was a bit sluggish and half-jokingly complained of "wheat withrdrawal".
Wheatless Recipe
I've been inspired again by farmer's market "seconds" apples and put together a Jamie O dish: Apple Crumble, modified for the purposes of our experiment.


For the Filling:
10ish medium apples of a few different varieties, peeled and sliced
2T water
1/3c sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon

For the Topping:
1/3c brown rice flour (I think any alternative flour would do here)
1/2c oats
1T cinnamon
3T butter, cut into small pieces
1T sugar
handful brown sugar

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the filling ingredients in a pot and heat them on the stove until the apples get a little soft. I cooked mine about 10 minutes, but you may need more or less time depending on what type of apples you used and how many.

Mix all the topping ingredients except the brown sugar in a bowl with your fingers until they get a crumbly texture.

Drain most of the liquid out of the pot with the apples and dump them into a deep baking dish. Top with the crumbly topping.  Sprinkle a handful of brown sugar over the whole thing, and bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  It's done when the topping gets crispy and the apples are soft all the way through.