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!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Snack Attack!

I usually try to avoid snacking as much as possible, not really to watch my weight or anything, but mainly because quite a few IC friendly snack ideas are high in oxalate. Well, except for cheese, which gets pretty boring after a while. Right now, however, I have no choice but to eat snacks since I'm pregnant! Oh, and this is why I dropped off slightly from the blog. Morning sickness and food blogging don't go together so well. I promise more fun blog posts soon!

I digress...back to the snacks! The first bit of advice you get when you're pregnant is to eat smaller, more frequent meals, which means more snacks rather than full meals. I have to admit this was a bit overwhelming at first since so many obvious snacks are so high in oxalate. Examples, baby carrots, potato chips, almonds. Celery with peanut butter, etc... I also had to scramble to find snack ideas on the go, for when I'm running errands or to take to work. Here a few of my favorite snacks that I've been depending on the past few months.

1) Cheese Snacks-
Yes I mentioned that I got bored with cheese above, but if you switch between cheese snacks and the other snacks I've listed below you won't get so sick of it. Recently I've come across multiple articles about how healthy cheese can be, especially string cheese (mozzarella cheese), low-fat cottage cheese, feta, parmesean, and swiss. The good news about this, three of these cheeses are IC friendly! Cheese also packs a punch of protien, which is better for energy than sugar, and will give you a longer boost. You can also easily throw string cheese in your lunchbox for a quick at-work snack. Here are some of my favorite cheese snack ideas...

-1 package string cheese (this is really mozzarella cheese which naturally has a "string-like" nature)
-1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese (make sure you buy 2% or less milkfat)
-4-6 club crackers with cheese slices (I prefer monterry jack slices or mild cheddar)

2) Crackers-
I mentioned club crackers above with the cheese slices. Crackers are a great on the go snack since they don't require refrigeration. Be careful though of preservatives or irritating ingredients in most supermarket crackers. I prefer to buy my crackers at Whole Foods, they have a great "club" cracker that has no artificial ingredients. Also be careful to avoid whole wheat flour and malted barley flour if you are sticking with the low oxalate diet. Wheat flour is ok, this is just basic white flour. Here are some ideas for cracker toppers:

-cheese slices (as mentioned above)
-tuna (from the can) plain or your favorite homemade tuna salad
-boursin (you can buy the real boursin in the store, or make your own faux-boursin spread, the recipe is at the bottom of this post)
-Sunbutter and Pear or Apple Jam (sunbutter is "peanut butter" using sunflower seeds. Peanuts are high in oxalate so sunflower seeds are a great alternative. The pear and apple pie jam available on the IC network are both wonderful)
-cream cheese with cucumber slices and a sprinkle of dill (this one is fancy!)

3) Bagels
A whole bagel is a bit too much for me for a snack, but I cut them in half and they make a great mid-morning snack. I prefer the plain, salt, or everything bagels. I usually top them with cream cheese, but you can also use butter, jam, sunbutter, or get creative and make your own cream cheese creation (like chive, or honey cream cheese). Make sure you use the cream cheese from the box, not from the tub. The "tub" cream cheese contains irritating ingredients.

4) Popcorn
This is actually high in oxalate, but you need 4 full cups to for this to be considered high. That's alot of popcorn, you really only need a handful or so for a snack, which only amounts to1-2 cups at most. Stick to a small amount, and you should still be able to get away with snacking on popcorn every so often. I buy the Whole Foods brand that only has salt added.

5) Veggies and Boursin
There are a ton of veggies that are low in oxalate (and a few that aren't) Stick with cucumber slices, red bell pepper slices, fresh broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas and snow peas. Avoid the carrot and celery sticks, these are high in oxalate. For a great dip, you can water down the faux boursin ball by adding milk 1 Tbsp at a time and mix to desired creamy consistency and you have yourself a faux ranch dip!

6) Fruit
-pear (either sliced or you can eat whole)
-Gala or Fuji apples (just make sure you remove the skin, this is high in oxalate)
-honeydew or watermelon slices (if you can tolerate-these are on the sometimes ok IC list)
-top 1/3 cup lowfat cottage cheese with any of the fruit listed above, dice the fruit so it mixes better

**Blueberries are listed as safe on the IC diet list. These are high in oxalates, so I would avoid if possible**

6) Granola Bars
I love Cascadian Farms White Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars. They are organic and use all natural ingredients without preservatives. These are a great on-the-go snack since they are individually wrapped.

7) Cowboy Caviar and Pita Chips
This recipe comes from the low-oxalate cookbook and is really a lentil spread. Lentils a great for you, and are both IC safe and low-oxalate. You can buy pre-made pita chips (again I buy Whole Food brand since they use all natural ingredients) or you can make your own. I've included recipes for the cowboy caviar and homemade pita chips below.

Cowboy Caviar:
1/2 cup lentils (rinsed)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive or canola oil

Cover lentils with water and simmer until they are mushy, about 35-40 minutes. Add lentils to food processor along with remaining ingredients and process until smooth, this should only take a few seconds. Serve as a dip or spread.

Homemade Pita Chips:
4 pita breads, split horizontally in half
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each pita half into 8 wedges. Arrange pita wedges evenly over a large baking sheet. Brush pitas with olive oil, then sprinkle with oregano, salt, pepper. Bake for 8 minutes, then turn over and bake until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes longer.

Faux Boursin Cheese Ball (Dip Variation):
1 8oz package cream cheese (use neufachel for a low-fat option) softened
1 tsp milk (and 4-8 Tbls more for dip variation)
1/4 garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 dried basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 black pepper (or white pepper for low-oxalate option)
1/8 tsp dried sage

Blend together the cream cheese, milk, and remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add 1Tbls. milk at a time, and blend to desired dip consistency.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shamrock Shake!

I know we've all seen those McDonald's commercials for their seasonal Shamrock Shake.  Every time I saw it my mouth watered and I would wonder what was really in those shakes, since they don't really say in their commercials.  Well, as you may have already guessed, they are vanilla mint shakes dyed green.  They're cool, minty and refreshing; but  the best feature of all is they're IC friendly!! 

I came across a blog on yahoo yesterday with the official copycat recipe for the shake.  While you can certainly run to the drive through and get your own, why not have the recipe on hand when McDonald's discontinues this yummy treat after St. Patrick's Day?!  What better treat on a hot summer day than a cool minty shake? 

McDonald's Shamrock Shake Copycat Recipe
(makes 1 giant shake, or 2 generously sized shakes)

3 cups good quality vanilla ice cream
1 3/4 cups 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Green food coloring, if desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until completely thick and smooth. Pour into glasses and serve!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Comfort Food

Even though it's been unseasonably warm this winter, I still find myself gravitating towards comfort food this time of year.  My absolute favorite is macaroni and cheese.  Nothing is better than a bowl of mac and cheese on a chilly evening snuggled under a blanket on your couch watching a good movie.  I used to love making the packaged Velveeta shells and cheese, but it has so many artificial ingredients (and even paprika), I had to forget about that after being diagnosed with IC.  I can sometimes get away with the boxed Kraft mac and cheese, but this is also loaded with artifical ingredients.  And lets face it, it's powdered cheese!  Here's a recipe that I found on the Velveeta cheese box that I changed slightly by substituting real cheese for the fake cheese.  I find it satifies my mac and cheese craving, and it has to be better than consuming all that fake cheese!  You can serve as a main dish, but it also makes a great side. 

Cozy Macaroni and Cheese:
3 cups medium elbows or shells (measure after pasta is cooked)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups milk (2% is best-but skim also works)
1 cup shredded Jack Cheese
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
homemade bread crumbs (optional)

1) preheat oven to 350.  Cook and drain pasta.
2) over medium heat, melt butter in saucepan.  wisk in flour, salt and pepper until golden.
3) Gradually pour in milk and stir with wisk to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and mixture begins to boil.  Add cheese and stir until melted.
4) Add pasta and stir.  Pour into square pyrex baking dish.  Top with breadcrumbs is desired.  Bake for 30 mintues, covered with tin foil.  Remove foil for last 5 minutes of baking so the top browns up.

My Mother used to make this fabulous baked chicken with honey mustard sauce when I was growing up.  It was one of my favorite dishes, and I even started making it when I moved out on my own.  After the IC, I could no longer think about eating mustard, but really wanted to make that chicken!  So I removed the mustard and came up with my own version. While it's slightly different, it's just as tastey as the original, and it's actually lower in fat!

Honey-Citrus Baked Chicken:
package chicken thighs with bones (each package has about 5 thighs)
garlic powder
corriander  (this will give the chicken a citrus taste with out the actual citrus!)

1) preheat oven to 350.
2) remove and discard chicken skin.  It should peel off easily, and you may have to cut the edges off with kitchen shears.
3) line 9x13 baking dish with tin foil.  Place chicken in dish, squirt honey over each piece to cover, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and ground corriander to taste.  
4) bake for 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes, or until done.   Bake covered for first 30 minutes, baste with sauce in pan, and bake for remaining 30 minutes without the cover.  Baste with sauce as needed when baking and before serving.

I hope you're able to snuggle up and enjoy my favorite comfort food on the next chilly evening!  


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Incredible Egg

I know when I've had a busy day, I get home and my dinner plan flies out the window.  I just don't feel like cooking.  My go-to quick dinner is usually breakfast.  I always have eggs and cheese on hand, breakfast is quick and easy to cook, and I find it's easily the most IC safe meal I can eat.  Also, a new FDA study has shown that eggs are lower in cholesterol than once believed, a good source of protein, and a good source of vitamin D as well.  Another great reason to eat your eggs!  So, instead of the usual scrambled eggs, why not try a breakfast burrito or creative omelet?

Breakfast Burrito (serves 1, but can easily be doubled or more!)
3 eggs (I use 1 full egg and 2 egg whites)
chopped red bell pepper
chopped mushrooms
chopped scallion (optional) or chives
shredded jack cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
1 flour quesadilla shell

1) Chop veggies and scallion, add to skillet and stir-fry with oil until soft and scallion is translucent.
2) Crack eggs, and whisk together.  Add eggs to cooked veggies and top with cheese.  Scramble eggs until cooked through and no longer runny.
3) Heat quesadilla shell as instructed on package.  Add egg mixture to shell, roll up, and serve.

Here's another easy egg recipe for a quick dinner, or even for those mornings when you don't have much time, but still want a hearty breakfast...

Microwave Coffee Cup Scramble: (1 serving-can easily be doubled or more)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. shredded jack cheese (or cheese of choice)
salt and pepper (if desired)

1) coat 12oz. microwave safe coffee mug with cooking spray.  Add eggs and milk.  Beat until blended.
2) Microwave on high 45 seconds, stir.  Microwave until eggs are almost set, 30-45 seconds longer.
3) Top with cheese and microwave 10 seconds longer until cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

What would breakfast be without sausage?  I know what you're thinking, "please don't tease me, I can't eat sausage."  A few years ago, I was hosting the family for a Christmas brunch.  I came across a sausage recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that was in fact IC friendly.  I couldn't believe it.  First, I had never thought of making my own sausage, that was always something you bought.  Second, how good could it be without the spices?  Well, it was excellent, my husband and entire family gobbled it down, and even asked for the recipe.  I have since found another homemade sausage recipe that's a bit more traditional than the first, but still equally as good.  I usually make these over the weekend (or whenever I have free time) and freeze them individually so I can thaw and reheat quickly for a nice compliment to my quick breakfast dinners.

Apple Sausage Patties: (this is also low in fat if you use lean pork and egg whites!)
1 beaten egg white
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion (or onion if you can tolerate it)
1/2 cup finely chopped gala or fuji apple (can use pears if you can't tolerate apples)
3 Tbsp. quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper (can use white pepper)
1/2 pound lean ground pork

1) chop and sautee the scallion or onion until translucent.  Set aside.
2) In medium bowl, combine egg white, cooked onion, apple (or pear), oats, parsley, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper.  Add ground pork, mix well.  Shape mixture into eight 2" wide patties.
2) coat 10" non-stick skillet with cooking spray.  Cook patties over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear, turning once.  Drain off fat and serve. 
**You can also cool and wrap each patty individually and freeze**

Homemade Breakfast Sausage:
2 pounds ground pork
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper (can also use white pepper)
2 Tbsp. butter

1) Combine pork, garlic powder, syrup, sage, thyme, salt, pepper in large bowl.  Mix with hands until combined.  Form mixture into 2 1/2" patties, about 1/2" thick.  Makes about 16 patties.
2) Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Cook half of patties until well browned and cooked through, 3-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and tent with foil.  Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining butter and patties.  Serve, or let cool and wrap individually to freeze for later use.

You can even make one of the above sausage recipes, chop up the patty, and add to the breakfast burrito mixture for even more flavor.  I know these yummy recipes will add new life and flavor to your typical breakfast, or breakfast-for-dinner meals!