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    In the Kitchen

    May 21, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Back when we were GFCF {actually, we were gluten-free, casein-free, and also soy- and corn-and coffee- and chocolate- and artificial-everything-free…sometimes it felt like fun-free} dieting, I regularly posted about my life in the kitchen. Part of it was because going GFCF can be so hard, and when you realize that you must do it, for the sake of your children’s health, you feel thrown into the deep end.

    I don’t know about you, but for the most part I like to baby-step my way through significant changes in life. That time, I had to learn to swim quite quickly!

    When we were done with the diet, I was done blogging about the kitchen for a while.

    But now? Well, the Summer Switchover is upon us, no? When we have to figure out what to make because soup simply will not do when the thermometer soars above 90 degrees? Yes, I knew I was not alone.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t make hot meals in the summertime–I do. But soup is just too warming for summer, and we usually avoid it from May until October, though we are experiencing record-low-highs {whatever that means}, so I’m reconsidering for the weekend.


    As I was saying, I’m in the kitchen, wondering about summer. I also have a birthday boy next week, and want to serve a special daytime treat since he is waiting a number of days for his party. And then there is breakfast, the bane of my existence.

    Who in the world invented the idea that anyone should eat first thing in the morning?

    Well, we are trying to kick the constant oatmeal habit and mix it up a bit.

    I’ve done a little research, and I thought I’d share the recipes I’m printing out to try next week. First up is that special treat I mentioned. I’m not much interested in serving something full of sugar, so I decided to go with Blueberry Butter Balls. I’m skipping the sugar and serving fat! Perfect.

    If you doubt me on this, just answer me this question: when was the last time your kids got high on fat? I rest my case. It’ll be slightly sweet, special, and oh-so-filling. Perfect.

    I’m rolling them in ground crispy walnuts, though, because I am not a huge shredded coconut fan, and neither are most of the children.

    Next up, I’m trying something new for dinner. I was recently thinking that I was sad to say goodbye to kielbasa until next autumn. There is a wonderful nitrite-free kielbasa at Trader Joe’s, but I cannot bear to serve it standing alone–I like to stretch it and make sure it lasts for more than one meal. I usually put it into a German soup I make {instead of pork}, but, as you know, soups and I are parting ways.

    Thankfully, I found Food Renegade’s Broccoli Casserole. It’s still too hot for 100+ degree weather, but next week will be mild enough to try it. I was just apologizing to a dear friend because I never have taught my children to eat broccoli, and so they are embarrassing when we eat it with others. And I am totally adding the grated cauliflower. I adore cauliflower.

    What could go better with that broccoli casserole that that No-Knead Sourdough Bread I’ve been meaning to try? I have attempted to make my own starter in this house not once, but twice. Unfortunately, I’ve had no success. I was able to pull it off at my old house, so I don’t think it’s me–I think I don’t have the right “bugs” roaming wild in my kitchen.

    Does anyone local out there have a starter and a deep desire to help me out?


    In other news, I found a yummy, yummy salad that I plan to make as soon as our backyard tomato season kicks off: Bacon, Egg, Avocado, Tomato (BEAT) Salad. Reading that recipe makes me hungry every single time.

    In my renovation of our breakfast habits, I began with a single babystep: once per week, I make us a smoothie. {O. eats a banana since this is too cold for his little mouth.} Once the orchard starts producing, I’ll do it more often, but until then they are just too pricey to do daily. I’ll share my recipe {more or less} just for fun:

    Family Breakfast Smoothie {double batch}
    2.5 cups orange juice
    1/4 cup chia seed
    2 cups raw milk
    3 bananas
    10 large frozen strawberries
    2 small piles of frozen raspberries
    2 handfuls frozen peaches
    tall cup of ice

    1. The night before, soak 1/4 cup of chia seed in 2.5 cups of orange juice in a bowl for 5 minutes. Whisk out the clumps and let soak 15 more minutes. Whisk again until seeds are evenly disbursed, cover bowl, and store in the refrigerator until morning.

    WARNING: Chia seeds must, must, must be soaked. They absorb ten times their weight in water, and if you eat them raw, they can absorb much of the water in your gut and bind your intestines. If you forget this step, leave them out. I put them in because they are very filling and nourishing and…we like it.

    2. This recipe is actually a double batch, meaning I will give directions for a single batch and you can do it twice if you family is about the size of mine. If your family is smaller, one batch might work fine. {I am blessed and have two blender jars, so I can fill up both jars and then blend each on the base.} Spoon 1 cup of the chia mixture into the jar, add 1 cup milk, 1.5 bananas, 5 strawberries, 1 pile raspberries, and 1 handful of peaches. Top with a large cup of ice {my cup is about 16 oz. I think}. Blend until smooth. Repeat for double batch.

    3. Serve in pretty cups with a side of crispy walnuts {about 1/4 cup}.

    4. Pour what remains of the chia mixture into a cup, and offer it to Daddy as a morning snack on the way to work the next day. Or, use it as an afternoon pick-me-up for yourself!

    Okay, so what else? I usually serve pancakes on Saturdays and Sundays because they take a while to make and I need something faster on weekday mornings when my husband needs to eat and leave promptly. So far, that has left us still eating…oatmeal four days per week.

    My reasoning for this was that oatmeal is a cheap and nourishing breakfast. However, comma. My two oldest children now have dental issues. Daughter A. came home from the dentist recently with seven cavities. Seven. Seriously, I feel ill when I try and talk about it. A friend told me that it just had to be something we were eating, and so I began to research, and I found that there is a known link between oatmeal consumption and dental caries.

    That’s all I’ll say about that, except that the price of cavities tends to make oatmeal more expensive than I anticipated. Also, we are at a disadvantage from the outset because said children are also sensitive to fluoride, and that handy coating they paint on a child’s teeth is truly helpful, even if actually ingesting fluoride is not. Therefore, I am in the process of finding a holistic dentist who perhaps has some creative alternatives for our unusual situation.


    This post is supposed to be about food, right?

    Okay, so today I’m going to soak some of these Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits, only we aren’t allergic to milk anymore, so I’m soaking them in buttermilk instead of the creative option offered in the recipe. I’m also doubling, if not tripling, the recipe. As you know, we have a decent supply of eggs. I read somewhere that I could basically create a muffin tin breakfast sandwich by sticking an {uncooked} biscuit in the bottom of the pan, adding the toppings, and then another {uncooked} biscuit on top, and then cook all those little sandwiches at once. I’m going to try it and see what happens.

    Does anyone have a good homemade beef sausage recipe? I’d love to brown some and add it to the eggs in the “sandwich” for some extra flavor. I have a wonderful turkey sausage recipe, but I only make it during turkey season when I can acquire ground turkey at a reasonable price.

    I’m also considering baking a bunch of potatoes and sweet potatoes and making a couple different varieties of hash browns {served on different days–not together}, one sweet and one savory.

    I’m not cutting out the oatmeal all the way, but I am trying to make sure it doesn’t dominate breakfast the way it has. Seriously, the idea of an all-protein or protein-and-fruit breakfast appeals to me, except for the cost.

    I wonder if pot bellied pigs would make good bacon? We’re zoned for those.


    What I really meant to say is that I am also hoping to make some blueberry muffins using my stash of kamut flour, and probably some scones with my stash of almond meal. Hopefully, all of that freezes well.

    Adding almond meal adds protein, people. Protein means: filling. Filling means that no one is saying they are “still hungry” when all of the food is gone. I feel so defeated when that happens.

    Anyone have any good, oatmeal-free breakfast recipes to share?

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  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts June 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Kelly, Thank you for the recipe!

  • Reply The BadgerMum June 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Oh, I think we used frozen orange juice concentrate.

  • Reply The BadgerMum June 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Brandy, I can’t find my strawberry soup recipe and my daughter who usually makes it has been out of town the last month.

    I found this recipe online and it’s very much like what I remember her doing last year, but I haven’t tested it:

    Chilled Strawberry-Mint Soup
    1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
    3/4 cup sour cream
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
    Fresh strawberry slices, kiwi fruit slices, or fresh mint sprigs

    In a food processor or blender, place the strawberries, sour cream, heavy cream, orange juice, and honey; whirl until smooth. Stir in mint. Taste for sweetness; if necessary, add more honey.

    Refrigerate until well chilled.

    To serve, put into cold soup bowls and top with strawberry slices, kiwi fruit slices, or mint sprigs.

    Makes 2 servings.

    ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

    I can’t believe how long I’ve been offline — it’s going to take me the rest of the month to get caught up on your blog; such rich food has to be chewed slowly and savoured long.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts May 25, 2010 at 9:54 pm


    ps. good idea on doubling the batch. I DO like that I could toss muffins into my husband’s lunch instead of giving him a slice of it–just seems messier that way…

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts May 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm


    If my ducks would pick up their laying pace, I’d be trying eggs in a muffin tin tomorrow! Unfortunately, we accidently threw them into an early molt and they’re only laying about 4 per day right now. Perhaps later in the week when I’ve collected enough to go around.

    I find it interesting about the water flouridation. Are you aware that some scientists believe that that is correlated with fibromyalgia? The issues with fluoride is that it binds, for instance, with other bodily substances (in this case, with the enamel). When it is ingested (versus a dentist painting it on), it is hard to control where in the body it actually ends up. Some folks think that a certain percentage of fibro is actually chronic fluoride toxicity…


    Sorry about your life force, but happy for another boy! I think I might just take Jenny up on her offer…


    Can I take you up on your offer. πŸ™‚ Sometime this summer, you guys can come play, and you bring starter. I will serve the kefir soda! πŸ˜‰

    You make that sourdough sound so wonderful.


    I totally agree that some folks are born with bad teeth! My poor baby girl…

  • Reply Jennifer May 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I have starter, Brandy, if you want some. The bread I made turned out quite dense, but I was using whole wheat flour. I can’t wait to try it with white flour and no kneading! I just want fluffy, super-sour, San-Francisco-style bread. I like to put some homemade tomato sauce on sprouted bread and top it with cheese. I toast it, cut up some fruit, and we are all happy. This is my favorite pregnant breakfast.

  • Reply Rahime May 25, 2010 at 9:12 am

    We bake eggs in the oven in muffin tins and sandwich them and a slice of canadian bacon or some sort of meat in an english muffin. they’re yummy, and pretty easy if you have the muffins/bread made ahead of time.

    We had very high fluoride content in our water in Kenya, and I have yet to have a cavity. I do brush 1-2x a day, but never floss. I don’t think Ashley’s had one either. Lauren has, but she only lived in Kenya for the first 2 yrs. of her life. Our parents and most relatives have horrible teeth.

    Your right though, malnutrition probably had a lot to do with your kiddos’ tooth problems. Hopefully as their systems recover their teeth will heal too.

  • Reply Mystie May 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Yes, if the biscuit-sandwich thing baked together works, let us know! I love an English muffin egg sandwich, but it’s too much effort for breakfast.

    I also think some people are just born with weak teeth. My brother was always getting cavities, while I have had hardly any at all my whole life — and I do not take care of my teeth like I should, mostly because it’s never burned me. πŸ™‚ Brushing my teeth is one of the worst gaggy things for me while I’m pregnant, so I chew a piece of gum or swish Listerine and call it good; I’ve never regularly brushed twice a day and never floss. My brother did all that and still got cavities, and my husband is the same.

    I have been thinking about things to make up in large batches ahead of time and freeze, so I can pull them out the night before and be ready to go.

    My kids eat a gigantic amount at breakfast, and then not so much at lunch. I should probably make sure they get more protein at breakfast.

  • Reply Kansas Mom May 24, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Brandy, I usually double my quick bread recipes and make one loaf and 18 muffins, because I can put all that in the oven at once. Kansas Dad likes the muffins because they are so easy for him to take for lunch or a snack. I often prefer them as well because I don’t have to worry about whether we’ll finish a loaf, though that’s less of a problem now with three kids who all want one (or two) pieces. Recently I’ve been lazy (um, I mean, worn out from the pregnancy) and have been making more loaves. They also freeze nicely and I’m guessing could be sliced ahead of time. I always slice our wheat bread if I’m going to freeze it.

  • Reply Kimbrah May 23, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Okay, how about this. I promise to try the sourdough starter sometime in the next few months. If it is successful, then I will share some with you. I have just had now energy for anything. I think I have an alien growing inside me, not another little boy. He is sucking my life force away. πŸ™‚

    I also have a GREAT sausage recipe that we love. I will try to email it to you when I can. It works with any meat you want to try it with. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts May 23, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Ellen, Thanks for the recipe! I haven’t done much quiche, but they do love a good frittata, and isn’t that really just a quiche without crust? If my frittata recipes weren’t so elaborate, I’d make them for breakfast. As it is, they take almost an hour to prepare!

    Yours sounds good!

    Rebecca, Yes, they like eggs. I am guilty of feeding them eggs for lunch, which naturally messes up using them for breakfast. I’m going to try to stop doing that! It is just a great way to feed them when we get home from swimming and they are all starving.

    And your casserole sounds great. I’m thinking it’d be great for any brunchy baby showers I throw, too!

    KM, Good idea. I read an idea similar to yours recently, only they used nuts and cottage cheese instead of the yogurt, but the idea was the same. That would be wonderful, and a great way to us up fruit in a couple years when our orchard really gets going.

    I had forgotten how interchangeable quick bread recipes tend to be with muffins. I think I might prefer cooking the whole batch at once in a loaf instead of doing dozen after dozen with my muffin pan. Hmmm…

    Kimbrah, I have read that about xylitol, too, and they use a lot of it. We keep it on hand for fighting colds, etc. It is in their gum and also their toothpaste…and still. Argh. πŸ™

    You were one of my two hopes for a sourdough starter. πŸ˜‰

    Rachel, They say it is the phytic acid in the oatmeal that does it. I can’t remember why, but apparently it is a huge contributor to tooth decay, much more than sugar. I did a little more research though and I actually think I’ve decided that part of this is due to the very strict diet they were on for a long time. The dentist told me her cavities looked like they started when she was three, and it dawned on me that that was during our GFCF fun. I don’t think it is the DIET that did it, but we were also having a lot of financial issues at that time. The combination left our diet almost completely devoid of vitamin D and vitamin K2. Both of those are associated with the prevention and even healing of tooth decay. Plus, our daughter especially tested as almost completely malnourished due to her candida overgrowth in her gut. I was giving her a multivitamin during that time, but she wasn’t absorbing any of it.

    So I take back what I said about the oatmeal. I think it isn’t the problem, though it could contribute to their teeth not healing at all on their own.

    BadgerMum, I do soak my oats, but I was reading recently that oats have very little phytase in them to break down the phytic acid in the grain during soaking. I hear it is now suggested that we throw in a bit ground wheat, rye, or buckwheat to offer the phytase needed for an overnight soak. Either that, or do a three-day fermentation.

    I seriously doubt, though, that is necessary for normal, healthy children. My problem is that my children still have damage from their toddler years that we are working on.

    I need the details on your strawberry soup. I am completely intrigued! πŸ™‚

  • Reply The BadgerMum May 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Do you soak your oats overnight before cooking? We eat a lot of oatmeal (well, I call it porridge when it’s been soaked overnight) and haven’t had any problems with cavities.

    I have a couple of recipes for chilled soups that I love in the summer — one cucumber/garlic, and another is avocado. I’ll post the recipes on my blog if you’re interested. Also, once a year only, because it’s so rich, we have strawberry soup. Mmm.

  • Reply Rachel R. May 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Really – oatmeal and cavities? Is it the oatmeal itself, or a result of most people piling sugar onto their oatmeal?

    Hard-cooked eggs are nice and easy because you can cook them ahead of time. A lot of times we will do muffins and smoothies. The muffins are filling enough that you then need less smoothie, but the smoothie rounds out the meal better. (And the muffins can be baked ahead and frozen, or whatever.)

    I am intrigued by the notion of cooking breakfast sandwiches all together in muffin tins. Let us know how it works! I have tried doing the parts all separately before, and mine were awful. lol As for the sausage, I would try just substituting ground beef for the turkey and see what you get. I have a (non-breakfast/Italian-style) sausage recipe that uses ground beef, and it says you can use turkey instead; I would think it should work the other way, too. The primary flavor comes from the seasonings, not the meat.

  • Reply Kimbrah May 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Have you looked into the benefits of xylitol for tooth decay and ear infections? You can buy a pound of non-GMO xylitol at Lassen’s for under $8 and it lasts for a long time. Also, using toothpaste with xylitol in it will help get a bit more of it into your diet. I read about it in that Randall Neustadter book I was telling you about. Maybe if you put that in the oatmeal as the sweetener, it wouldn’t be so bad for the teeth.

  • Reply Kansas Mom May 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Yogurt and fruit? You could mix in some ground flaxseed and honey, too.

    We eat eggs a lot here, when we have them (which is, um, almost always, what with the laying hens and all). Kansas Dad makes pancakes two or three times a week, too, often with blueberries. Or chocolate chips.

    One of my favorite is a breakfast of sour cream blueberry muffins from “King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking”. I’m not sure how “filling” they are, but they are incredibly tasty (even without the coarse sugar on top) and they freeze well (if you can manage to not eat them all first). In fact, that cookbook has quite a few ideas for breakfast foods.

    We also eat a lot of quick breads: banana nut, pumpkin, zucchini. Mmmmm. We still have pumpkin and zucchini in our freezer so I’m making one of these about once a week…when I have the energy. Most quick bread recipes double and freeze well. And you can make them as muffins if you prefer (just cut the baking time to 18-25 minutes instead of 45-65). I found an applesauce bread recipe online that was good, too.

    You could try waffles. We don’t make them very often, but there are lots of whole wheat waffle recipes out there and almost all of them should freeze well. (My kids are actually not huge fans of waffles. Crazy kids.)

  • Reply Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Oh! And I have a yummy breakfast casserole recipe to share with you sometime. It is more of a fall recipe in my mind as it has sausage, stuffing, apples, and cinnamon.

  • Reply Rebecca May 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Does your family like eggs? I usually attempt to get the kids to eat eggs when I know I want them to stay full longer due to a busy morning. I had one who would have NOTHING to do with eggs until I threw in some cheese. Anyhow, not a recipe, but a fast and easy hot breakfast food.

  • Reply Ellen May 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Hmmm… how do the kids like quiche? I love quiche, myself, but my hubby doesn’t like cheese, so there ya go… This one looked easy, but I haven’t tried it yet.

    Mexican Style Quiche

    flour tortillas
    4 oz. monterey jack cheese (or other)
    1 onion, chopped
    4 beaten eggs
    2 c. milk

    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 t. chili powder
    1/4 t. dry mustard

    Preheat oven to 350. Press tortillas into pie pan and top with cheese. Put onions on top. Heat milk until almost boiling. Add milk to beaten eggs and then add spices. Bake for 30 min.

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