About the recipes...

All recipes and ideas contain ingredients from the new IC diet "safe" list. Also, all ingredients are either low-oxalate content, or in small enough amounts where they can be considered low-oxalate. If there are any ingredients that don't fit these criteria, I have labled them, and you have the option to omit them from the dish. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maple Syrup...not just for pancakes anymore!

There's nothing better on a crisp fall morning than hot pancakes with real maple syrup.  I love maple syrup so much, I even top my oatmeal with it rather than brown sugar, and maple sugar candies were my favorite purchase at the local Fall Farm Days event. Yum!  The great thing about  maple syrup, other than it's sugary goodness, is it is naturally organic, a great source of antioxidants, it's IC safe, and low in oxalates.  Maple syrup didn't just jump on the organic band-wagon, it has always been there.  Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees to extract the sap, then the collected sap is boiled without any added ingredients.  Maple syrup naturally contains manganese and zinc, which promote energy and antioxidant production in the body, as well as protect your heart and boost your immune system.  Who knew?

What's up with those grades?  According to the Official Vermont Maple Syrup Website, there are four grades of maple syrup, and most are available in your local grocery store.  Vermont Fancy has a mild flavor and light color.  This is used as a topping for things like ice cream. Next is Grade A Medium Amber, which is darker in color and has a pronounced maple flavor.  This is commonly used as table syrup. There is also a Grade A Dark Amber which has an even more pronounced maple flavor.  I personally prefer this grade.  It is strong enough to be used for cooking, but not so strong where you can not use it as table syrup.  Grade B is the darkest most concentrated grade, and is mostly only used for cooking.    

A couple years ago, my brother who is very creative in the kitchen, challenged his friends to come up with their best recipes using maple syrup.  The results proved that maple syrup isn't just for pancakes anymore!

Maple Vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup pear juice (I use Knudsen's Organic Pear Juice)
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (I use Grade A Dark)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup olive oil (I've found that extra virgin is too strong-try a milder olive oil for this dressing)
1 tsp salt
1/4 pepper (can use white pepper for low-oxalate option)

In a bowl whisk together pear juice, maple syrup, and olive oil.  Add basil, garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together until combined.  Can store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  To make in a salad dressing shaker, pour all ingredients in, put top on, then shake to combine.  Can also be store in the fridge.
**I love this dressing over a romaine salad with feta and pears, but works on almost any salad**

Maple-Glazed Squash:
2 acorn squash
2 Tbls veggie oil
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate)
5 Tbls. maple syrup (either Grade A Dark or Grade B)
4 Tbls. unsalted butter

1) Preheat oven to 475.
2) Halve squash, remove seeds, then cut each half into 4 equal wedges.  Toss with oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in bowel.  Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake about 25 minutes until deep golden brown color.
3) Bring syrup to boil in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Off heat whisk in butter until smooth.  Cover to keep warm.
4) Remove cooked squash from oven.  Flip and brush with 6 Tbls. glaze.  Put back in oven and bake another 15 minutes until golden all over.
5) Brush with remaining glaze and serve warm.

**I like to serve this dish as a side to a roasted chicken**

Maple Salmon:
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade A Dark or Grade B)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (use Kikkoman's low-sodium.  I don't have a problem with this type)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt/pepper (or white pepper for low-oxalate)

1) in small bowl, mix maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2) Place salmon in shallow baking dish and coat with syrup mixture.  Cover and marinate for 30 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 400.  Bake salmon with the marinade uncovered for 20 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.  
Note: you can also discard marinade before baking if soy sauce bothers you.

**I serve this dish with white sticky rice and cooked brocoli**

Chicken with Maple Sauce:
1 pkg dried pasta (fettuccine or linguinie)
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 lbs)
salt and pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers
3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Pacific organic broth.  it's the only broth that doesn't contain celery which is high in oxalates)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade A Dark or Grade B)

1) cook pasta according to directions on pacakge.  Drain and set aside.
2) season chicken with salt and pepper.  In skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook for 10-12 minutes until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees).  Remove chicken from skillet and tent with foil to keep warm.
3) meanwhile seed and core red peppers and cut into thin long strips.  After removing chicken, increase heat to medium-high and add red pepper to skillet and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until crisp.
4) In small bowl combine broth, cornstarch, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Add to skillet, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Stir for 1 minute longer, then stir in maple syrup.
5)  Serve chicken over warm pasta, then top with maple red pepper sauce. Add your favorite veggie or salad to complete the meal.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?!

It's football season again, and that means entertaining friends and family for the big game.  When hosting a super bowl party a few years ago, I was challenged with creating an IC friendly menu along with keeping non-IC's happy with your typical football foods.  How do you make IC friendly nachos, wings, or salsa?

First I concentrated on the nachos, and thought about the ingredients that were IC safe, beef, cheese, lettuce, tortilla chips, etc...  Most restaurants add jalapenos peppers, black beans, and salsa to their nacho creations, but are those ingredients really necessary?  I quickly found the answer to be NO!  My nacho recipe has become a favorite at family gatherings, and I've even had non-IC'ers ask for this recipe to make at their own parties!

IC-Safe Nachos
1lb. ground beef
1 red bell pepper
small yellow onion (can use green onions if you can tolerate or omit onion all-together)
1 pkg. Velveeta Cheese, cut into small cubes
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese (I use Sargento)
1/2 head iceburg lettuce, chopped
1 bag tortilla chips
oil, salt, and pepper
sliced black olives, chopped fresh or dried chives (both optional) 

1) preheat oven to 375.
2) add 1Tbsp. oil to skillet and brown ground meat.  season with salt and pepper as desired.  remove to separate bowl when browned, and tent with foil.
3) dice red pepper and onion.  Add 1Tbsp. oil to empty saute pan, saute pepper and onions until onions are translucent.  Add meat back to pan, and mix well.
4) In 9x13 glass baking dish layer tortilla chips, then meat mixture, then two-thirds of the cheese, lettuce, then top with remaining cheese.  You can add sliced black olives to the top if you can tolerate. (black olives are high in oxalate but are IC safe)  You can also add fresh chopped or dried chives to the top as well for extra flavor. 
5) Back at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned slightly.

What are nachos without sour cream?  For IC'ers sour cream is a big no-no.  I know I really miss it and found that the cottage cheese substitutions just didn't fill the void.  I tried using cream cheese, and found it had more of a bite like real sour cream does, and had a creamier, thicker texture. 

Sour Cream Substitute
4oz. cream or neufachel cheese (1/2 package) chopped into cubes
3-6 Tbsp. skim milk

In a food processor, add cream cheese cubes and 2 Tbsp milk.  Blend until smooth (about 1 minute).  If mixture is too thick, add 1 Tbsp. of milk at a time until it becomes your desired consistency.  Add dollops on top of the nachos after baking, or serve as a side dish.  The recipe can be easily doubled

My next goal was to make an IC-friendly wing.  In college, after a big game we would go to a local wing place called Sharky's.  They had over 100 varieties of wings, varying from ultra spicy to sweet wings.  I decided to concentrate on the sweet wings, and try to re-create them at home.  I had come across a recipe for maple-ginger glazed chicken, and decided to try to sauce on wings.  The sauce is so yummy, you don't even miss the blue cheese dip!

Maple-Ginger Glazed Wings:
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken wing pieces
3/4 cup real maple syrup
3 Tbls. low-sodium soy sauce (make sure it is MSG-free)
1 tsp. dried ginger
salt and pepper to taste

1) preheat oven to 374 degrees
2) place chicken on lined 9x13 baking dish, add salt and pepper to taste, bake for 20 minutes.
3) mix maple syrup, soy sauce, and ginger in small bowel and set aside.
4) with pastry brush, brush glaze on chicken and bake 10 minutes.
5) flip chicken and brush with glaze from baking dish.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until done.
**You can also serve with the sour cream substitute to dip the wings in**

My last goal was to tackle (get-it!!) salsa and chips.  While most salsa recipes are not IC-friendly, avocado is.  So why not have some jarred salsa for the guests and some IC-safe guacamole for your and any other IC'ers at the party?!

IC-Safe Guacamole
1 ripe avocado (you might want to buy a few days early so it's soft enough on the day you want to make it)
2 Tbsp. Pear Juice (I use Knudsen's Organic Pear Juice)
onion salt to taste
lemon zest (these are high in oxalate, and you can omit from dip)

1) peel and core avocado
2) in a food processor, blend avocado, 2 Tbsp pear juice, and onion salt until creamy.  You can add more pear juice if desired.
3) Place in serving bowl and add lemon zest on top if desired. 
**serve immediately, the dip will turn brown in a few hours.  Keep the pit in the guacamole to help prevent browning**

Adding these dishes to your Sunday football line-up is a great way to please your guests, and please your bladder as well!! ;)