Apple Pie for Breakfast

Because I’m a grown up and I do what I want.

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First though, I’ve been thinking about what to do with this blog.  I have started:

So, what to do with this site?

The fact is, I like cooking and baking, but when I cook and bake, I want to eat.  Immediately.  I don’t want to stage my food so it looks pretty, and set up nice lighting, and take a nice photo that will be accepted by Foodbuzz and Tastespotting.  I want to cram the food directly into my mouth.  That’s why Crustcrumbs is great, because John is a cook and food stylist, and I just have to take pretty pictures.  Here, I end up snapping a quick shot with my iPhone and slapping a hipster filter on it out of laziness.

I’ll figure it out eventually.  I still want to share paleo recipes I’ve tried and written, to keep track of them for later.

So.  Back to what’s important.  Being a grown up, and APPLE PIE FOR BREAKFAST.

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This started because we had a bunch of apples in our fridge, which I bought because I was definitely going to make lots of Martha Stewart-esque apple recipes (with Martha Stewart-esque photographs), and then I didn’t.  My fiance reminded me about the apples, so I googled “paleo apple pie” and found PaleOMG’s Apple Pie Tartlets.  I love tiny food!  Tiny food is so much more adorable than regular sized food!  Tiny food makes me feel so dainty as I shove 4 of them into my mouth (because they’re small, so it’s okay).

Juli’s recipe rocks.  But, it didn’t take me 15 minutes to prep.  It was more like 45 minutes (I might be incompetent).  And it only took 20 minutes to bake, instead of 25.  And I didn’t use coconut cream, because I forgot to put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, so I used real whipped cream (no sugar added).

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And yes, I ate four of them.  GROWN UPS.

 

Are gluten-free diets healthy?

When people find out I eat gluten-free, the response is often something like this:  “oh, I’ve heard of that!  I was thinking of trying it out.  Is gluten-free healthy?”

Before I answer, I want to talk about my summer a little bit.  I can’t even begin to remember everything I’ve done the last few months.  We had family visiting from Florida, family visiting from England, and family visiting from Windsor;  I went to cottages; I went to Vegas; I moved out of my apartment so my floors could be replaced post-flooding from our upstairs neighbours; I decided to do a kitchen renovation at the same time.

Here’s a little preview of the kitchen I’ve had to work with for the last few weeks:

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Before we demolished the kitchen, my boyfriend’s family visited for a week, and we ate out almost every meal.  So I’d say I’ve been eating like crap for about 33 days now.  Full disclosure:   I’ve polished off a Dairy Milk bar approximately every 3-4 days, and last week I bought a 2lb bag of Rockets for no reason besides they were by the checkout at Shoppers Drug Mart and I wanted to shovel them in my face.  I’ve eaten at restaurants (fast food and otherwise) for basically every meal besides breakfast since our kitchen was demolished.  I devoured a whole tub of frozen Greek yogurt by myself.  I’ve been eating nachos and pizza and burrito bowls and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Froyo.

I feel gross.  And I’ve probably gained about 8lbs (I haven’t checked; my scale is still in a box somewhere).

But it has all been gluten-free!  Every bite.  Not an ounce of gluten.

I went to the Gluten Free Expo (or as everyone else calls it, “the cardboard convention”) in Toronto a few weeks ago, and I tried all the samples.  Breads, cookies, cakes, bars, pasta, you name it.  Lots of them were delicious!  But by the end of the day, I felt awful.   I went home wondering, what’s the point?

My haul.

My haul.

Back to the question:  are gluten-free diets healthier than normal diets?

No.

Obviously, people who have celiac disease must not eat gluten.  I also believe strongly in non-celiac gluten intolerance, even if mainstream medicine does not (yet).  Not eating gluten has made enough positive changes in my health for me to never eat it again.  I believe it can play a role in autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and endocrine disorders (like PCOS), mental health issues (like depression), and neurological issues, just to name a few.

I also get really annoyed when I see articles like “The dangers of going gluten-free“, which reiterates the idea that people with celiac disease are the ONLY ones who should avoid gluten, and ONLY after they receive a confirmed diagnosis from a doctor.  Which could mean eating a ton of the thing that is literally destroying your intestinal lining, for months, and possibly getting a false negative anyway.  Why some doctors are so opposed to elimination diets and why some people are so desperate to eat gluten they won’t stop until a doctor says “your intestinal lining is finally destroyed enough for your biopsy to be positive!”, I’ll never understand.  Guess what?  If you have celiac disease, and you stop eating gluten, you will feel better!  There’s your diagnosis.

Articles like that always fail to actually explain the dangers of going gluten-free.  It makes a cool scary-sounding headline, but the “dangers” always end up being things like “it’s expensive!” and “gluten-free products might not be fortified with as many nutrients as gluten-filled products!”  As for the former, yes, if you buy pre-packaged stuff, it’s more expensive to eat gluten free, but it’s getting cheaper.  Eating whole foods isn’t really more expensive.  The latter is correct too, but it’s basically saying that it’s dangerous to eat gluten-free bread because it’s not enriched with as many nutrients as Wonderbread.  Here’s a crazy thought: maybe people shouldn’t be getting their nutrients from enriched wheat bread either?

There is nothing “dangerous” about eating gluten-free.  There are no nutrients found in gluten-containing foods (wheat and other grains) that cannot be attained from other foods.  In fact, I think anyone with a persistent medical issue (which includes most people in North America) should try not eating gluten to see if it helps or not.  However, a diet isn’t automatically healthy because it’s gluten-free.  You know what’s gluten-free?  Candy.  Chocolate.  Ice cream.  Sugar.  Corn chips.  Rice.  Eating a bag of gluten-free cookies is not healthier than eating a bag of Oreos simply because the Oreos contain gluten.  Shoveling roll after roll of Rockets into my mouth is not healthy because Rockets don’t contain gluten.

So, if you don’t think you have celiac disease, and you’re going to eat the exact same crap you are already eating, you may as well keep eating it with gluten.  If you really want to make a change in your health, try real food.  (Or the plant-based kind, if that’s your thing.)

Me?  I can’t wait to have a kitchen again so I can get back on the low-carb, paleo bandwagon.

Happy Halloween / Best Pumpkin Seeds Ever

Happy Halloween!

This is my favourite time of year.  Autumn means cool weather (my favourite) (note that I said “cool” and not “cold”; winter, I’m looking at you), pretty trees, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Halloween, and then, eventually, Christmas!

We had a small Halloween party on Saturday.  We carved these pumpkins on Friday night:

After carving the pumpkins, Dan looked up a new pumpkin seed recipe since ours never turn out.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients
Pumpkin
Salt
Water
Peanut Oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut open a pumpkin and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. Separate and rinse the seeds.
  2. In a saucepan, add the seeds to water; enough to cover the seeds and a bit more. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. (NOTE: The original recipe called for 2 cups of water per half cup of seeds and half a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water, so you can use those measurements if you want to be more precise.  We had way too many seeds for that.)
  3. Put the seeds on a baking sheet and add just enough peanut oil to coat the seeds.  Stir with a wooden spoon (or your hands!) until the oil is spread evenly.  Spread the seeds into a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake until the seeds begin to brown, about 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes.  When browned to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and let cool.

THESE WERE THE BEST PUMPKIN SEEDS I’VE EVER HAD.

Boiling the seeds in salt water before roasting was the key to this whole operation.  The other important thing was the oil.  We’ve always used extra virgin olive oil.  I don’t know if EVOO’s lower smoke point has anything to do with why the seeds burnt or didn’t taste very good in previous years, but when we used peanut oil they tasted fantastic and not burnt at all.

YUM.

Gluten-Free Profiteroles with Cream Filling & Chocolate Sauce

OVERDUE UPDATE!

I didn’t quite solve my profiterole dilemma, but I did spend all day last Sunday making profiteroles for my mom’s birthday dinner, and they were a huge hit!

My brother:  “I thought they would suck!  But they were awesome!”  I also heard the words “better than the ones in Italy”.  You hear that, gluten-free naysayers?  BETTER THAN THE ONES IN ITALY MADE BY A LEGIT ITALIAN CHEF WITH AN OLD FAMILY RECIPE.

My mom went back for thirds, yelled “DON’T JUDGE ME”, and declared profiteroles to be her new birthday tradition.  So I’d say they were well worth the effort!

Everyone said they liked the gluten-free shells because they were thicker than the ones in Italy.  I was worried that not being light & fluffy was going to be a problem, but apparently it was a bonus.

I ended up going with a modified version of this recipe for the choux pastry, and the Italian chef’s recipe for the cream.  The cream recipe made WAY TOO MUCH.  Way, way too much.  I tripled the pastry recipe, and I still had a buttload of cream leftover.  But I’m going to post the full recipe in all its glory (mostly because it calls for 5 egg yolks) – modify it as you wish.

Choux Pastry

1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used Silvana‘s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend, which you can find here.)
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Egg Wash Glaze

1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon or spatula, quickly add the flour mixture. Return to heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about a minute or two).
  4. Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed for 1 or 2 minutes to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm slowly add the lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick sticky paste.
  5. Spoon or pipe 12 mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing them a couple of inches apart.
  6. Beat together the egg and salt for the glaze. With a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze on the tops of the dough.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are dry inside.  Poke a hole in each pastry with a skewer.  Turn the oven off and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Here is the cream recipe.  Remember, you will probably want to adjust it unless you want a huge container full of cream leftovers in your fridge (on second thought, that sounds pretty delicious).

Cream Filling

1 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
5 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 3/4 cups whipping cream

  1. Whisk the sugar and flour together in a pot.  Stir in egg yolks.  Gradually whisk in milk.
  2. Put on low-medium heat.  Whisk constantly until thick.
  3. Transfer the custard to a large bowl and place in the fridge until it is cold (about 2 hours; you can also put it in the freezer to speed things up).
  4. Once it’s cold, beat with a hand mixer until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks.
  6. Add the whipped cream to the custard mixture.  Beat again until everything is smooth and creamy.

To fill the pastry:

  1. Poke a small hole in each pastry.  (Since my pastries didn’t dry out on the inside as much as they should have, I used a wooden skewer and kind of wiggled it around to pull out some of the insides.)
  2. Use a piping bag to fill each pastry with cream filling.

Melt chocolate of your choice over the profiteroles to serve.

The next day, since there was so much cream left over, my mom poured extra cream over the leftover profiteroles before adding the melted chocolate on top. It was amazing and delicious.

Gluten-Free Profiteroles

When my family and I went to Italy this summer, the place we rented had a professional kitchen and a professional chef.  She was amazing, and one night she made profiteroles.  Of course, I couldn’t eat them, but everyone else wouldn’t stop talking about how amazing they were.  This is a terrible photo, but this is them (before they were devoured):

The next night, the chef showed us how to make them.  Or, rather, she showed everyone else how to make them while I stood in the corner like this:

My mom’s birthday was last week, and she requested that someone make her profiteroles for dessert.  “Fine,” I said, “but I’m making them gluten-free!”  She said she didn’t care as long as they’re filled with some sort of cream and covered in chocolate sauce.

Which brings me to today!

We are having her birthday dinner on Sunday, and I’ve spent almost the entire day trying to make gluten-free shells.

Attempt 1:  While putting them in the oven, I somehow dropped the entire tray and every single profiterole got smushed at the bottom of my filthy oven in the crack between the oven and the door.

Attempt 2:  Same recipe (minus the cheese), but they came out really disgusting and not hollow, with the middle a big gooey mess.  I felt nauseous when I took a bite out of one.  I have no idea what I did wrong, but they sure as hell didn’t look like the picture.

Attempt 3:  New recipe (with a substitution for gluten-free all purpose flour); just pulled them out of the oven.  They look pretty good!  Until I cut one open, and it’s not hollow.  ARRRGH.

How do I make them hollow?  What am I doing wrong?  INTERNET, TO THE RESCUE!

Ride for Heart 2011

I did it!

I was lying in bed Saturday afternoon, surrounded by kleenex, too tired to move.  I called my mom and said, “I don’t want to do 50km… let’s just do 25.” I haven’t recovered from my cold, and I was feeling more like lying in bed watching Netflix than biking.

Then I woke up yesterday morning and decided, “screw it… I’m doing 50km.”

I sniffled my way through the route with my parents and finished 45.23km (cheaters, that’s not 50km!) in 2:40:02 at a pace of 3:32 min/km and an average speed of 17 km/hr.

Slow, but not too shabby for a sick person who hasn’t been able to exercise for a while.  We only stopped twice and I didn’t walk up any of the hills like I saw a lot of people doing.

Here’s a map of the route from my Garmin Forerunner:

I wanted to share a recipe that I used to make bars for the ride.  This is one of my favourite recipes ever.  I’m not clear on how oats fit into the gluten/gluten-free thing, but I bought some Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats and decided to give it a whirl.

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp natural cane sugar

1. In a large bowl, mix oats, flax, sesame seeds, and coconut.  Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, mix together brown rice syrup, peanut butter, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir frequently until peanut butter is melted, colour is consistent, and it just starts to boil.  Be careful not to burn it.
3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well.
4. Spread into a 9×9″ pan and put in the fridge until it’s hardened (about an hour).  Cut into 16 sections.

The mixture is really sticky, so I usually spread it into the pan and then cover it with plastic wrap and use my hands to squish it all down.  I like the silicone pans because you can just pop out the whole thing later to cut it.

I was running low on time, so I just snapped a crappy picture:

Super delicious.  I brought them on the bike ride to share with people on my team – everyone loved them!

One last thing… my herbs are out of control.

You can kind of see the difference from a week and a half ago.  Now I have to learn how to use herbs in cooking.

“Oh Crap I Have A Cold” Smoothie

Oh crap, I have a cold.

My current client is a textbook publishing company, and we’re doing a series of fitness photoshoots where we go to different schools and photograph kids doing exercises.

(Which means I find it hilarious to tell people, “I shot 40 kids today!”)

In the last 2 weeks I’ve worked with over 150 kids.  It was only a matter of time before I caught a cold.  I started to feel something last week, so I took a bunch of Cold-FX and it went away.  And then came back in full force yesterday.

But I’m happy, because I haven’t had a cold in several months, whereas last year I was getting them every 6 weeks or so.   I just hope it doesn’t last too long, because next week is going to be LONG and I need to be at 100% (my current 100%, which is more like 75%).

“Oh Crap I Have A Cold” Smoothie

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 banana
1 giant orange (I was too lazy to peel it, so I cut it in half and then scooped the pulp into the blender.  This would be much easier with a grapefruit spoon.)

1 cup frozen raspberries and blueberries
1 tbsp sprouted chia powder

Blend.  Drink.

Looks suspiciously like my last smoothie.  Originally I was going to make a super powered smoothie full of spinach and stuff, but I just wanted something fruity and delicious.

I spent my entire day looking up medical articles and resources that I can print and bring to my doctor’s office to convince him to treat my thyroid symptoms.   In the meantime, I’m looking for another doctor, but I haven’t had much luck yet.  I’ve emailed lots of local medical professionals, even talk show hosts, but I haven’t heard anything back.

What do you do when you have a cold? I have to be better in 6 days!

7 Days of Quinoa: Day 3

Last night, I had the sudden dream-idea to bake yesterday’s breakfast and turn it into some sort of delicious quinoa apple crisp, and I woke up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT wondering if that would work.  Seriously, who does that?

I’m not the best cook in the world (though I’m pretty damn good at Kraft Dinner), so I decided that was probably a stupid idea and went back to sleep.  Then I was scrolling through my RSS reader this morning and I saw Angela‘s post about baked oatmeal.  Her ingredients aren’t that different, right?  This could totally work!

So I whipped out my leftovers from yesterday, and added:

- 1 more apple
- 1-2 cups of milk

And baked it in a casserole dish at 350°F for 42 minutes.  It… was basically exactly the same as yesterday, except slightly more delicious and apple-y.  I ate it with some vanilla greek yogurt.  I’m guessing the quinoa didn’t get crispy because it was already cooked?  Or maybe because it’s, uh, not oats.

Anyway, that wasn’t going to be my Day 3 post until I was leaving my house this evening and fell down my building’s concrete stairs.  Now I fully plan on doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day as the entire left side of my body slowly turns into a giant bruise.

Can’t catch a break.

7 Days of Quinoa: Day 1

Tanie at Unicorn Parade recently posted “Recipes for Twelve Lemons“, where she made a bunch of different recipes to use up a dozen lemons.  I decided to borrow her idea and turn it into 7 Days of Quinoa.

Quinoa is one of those foods I have no idea how to prepare other than “put it in a rice cooker and then serve with vegetables”.  A few months ago, my boyfriend made some quinoa.  Not realizing it would expand so much, he accidentally made enough for an entire army.  Given how lazy and uncreative I am with cooking, we ended up just eating the plain quinoa over and over and over and over so that now all I have to say is “quinoa” and he gets a horrified look on his face.  “NO. NO MORE QUINOA.”

So. Variety.  That’s my goal.

I bought Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood this past weekend and flipped through it last night.  I then spent all night dreaming about quinoa.  Not kidding.

For dinner I decided to make “The Perfect Baked Potato” (Page 122) out of Quinoa 365.

Okay, maybe not the healthiest thing to eat for dinner, but potatoes are my comfort food and I wanted something comforting as I mourn over the loss of bread and pasta.

This included red quinoa, milk, butter, broccoli, cheddar cheese, and green onion all mixed up together.  YUM.