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The Wheat I Can Eat – Einkorn

The Wheat I Can Eat

I had no idea that my rhyming was so good, I’m sure my wife disagrees, though. Regardless, I mentioned way back in the beginning somewhere that there is one variety of wheat that I am able to eat. Einkorn is this wheat’s name. Just as a reminder for anyone, I do have a severe reaction to gluten. Whether you want to call it a sensitivity, an allergy, whatever, it’s bad, and I have to avoid it like the plague. Einkorn has been very successful for me, though!

First off, let me say I am not a doctor, and even if I was, I’m not your doctor, or naturopath, or nutritionist or anything. I’m just your friendly neighborhood baker. I highly recommend you talk about this with whoever your healthcare professional is. After that, I recommend ordered a very small amount to try, and go from there if you it works for you.

It took me 6 months to drum up the courage to try it. I very much did not want to be curled up in bed in extreme pain. I ate one small cookie and went from there. Praise God it did not affect me, and was safe for me to eat.

What is Einkorn?

Einkorn is a variety of wheat, therefore it also contains gluten. That is the last similarity between einkorn and modern wheat. Einkorn is considered to be the original wheat that was ever domesticated (somewhere between 5,000-10,000 years ago). Since then we have hybridized various varieties of wheat to create all the varieties we have today.

Along with that hybridization came higher amounts of gluten and a different genetic structure to the gluten dna itself. This was both intentional and unintentional. As we have discussed, if you are wanting to create a great loaf of bread, gluten is wonderful and helps create that beautiful structure. Wheat farmers selected varieties over the years to increase that gluten and make it stronger so bakers can create those particular loaves of bread.

But this same hybridization has ended up helping create the problems that many of us are familiar with. While Einkorn certainly has its drawbacks due to its lower yield, weaker gluten, and increased difficulty in harvest, the weaker gluten that it contains also makes it edible for a large portion of the population! Your body may very well be able to process einkorn flour just fine even if you have a severe reaction to “regular” wheat.

Einkorn only has 2 sets of chromosomes as opposed to modern wheat which can be up in the 40s. Emmer, Kamut and Spelt are all in-between. Einkorn also does have quite a bit higher level of nutrients and protein compared to modern wheat. If you would like to learn more, here is a website all about einkorn.

Does all of this matter?

Does all of this matter for those of us who are gluten intolerant, though? Well, as I mentioned above, it all just depends. I think as a baseline rule, it does. It starts as a much healthier product to begin with compared to modern varieties. Almost all einkorn is produced organically so that can also aid in digestibility. As with all things, you need to try a little bit and see if your own body can handle it. We do know many gluten-free people who are able to eat einkorn, though! It functions basically the same as regular white flour, and it can be fermented into sourdough, so it is a wonderful thing to be able to add into your diet on occasion! Einkorn has made it much easier for our family to live with all our food allergies.

Let us know if you try einkorn and how it works out for you! Jovial Foods is where we purchase ours.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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My Philosophy of Food

How do you like to eat? No, I don’t mean with a fork or with your fingers, though perhaps that should be another conversation… I mean how do you approach what foods and how much you eat. We all have a philosophy of food – a way in which we decide what we will and will not eat.

Somewhat surprisingly to myself, I would say my philosophy of food has not changed much over my 30ish years. Things have adjusted some due to my food allergies, but generally the way I eat has stayed the same.

The Basics

The foundation of how I eat is based on eating as many whole food based & made from scratch meals as possible. We eat lots of whole carrots, cucumbers, celery, fresh fruit, and salads.   Our bodies do best when eating whole foods as the fiber helps to moderate the sugars as well as helps our body to function properly.

Eating yummy tasting food is also highly important to me. I know many people who are always trying to find a good low carb alternative to this or sugar free alternative to that.  I can fully appreciate that approach, and, granted, there are people who truly have no alternative. They have no choice but to eat zero sugar. Although I know refined sugar creates some health problems and it would be healthier to never ever eat it again, sugar does some things that no other product can do, so we do still use it occasionally. Refined sugar creates a certain structure and binds water in a way that gives us that chewiness and moistness that other sugars do not do. Maybe I will write another post going more in depth on that!

I always want my food to be as healthy as possible, but I also want to really enjoy my food. I would rather eat that “treat” once a month or even once every two months, but LOVE it, instead of eating a “meh” substitute more often. This philosophy very much informs what we eat, and you will probably see that come through on the recipes I post. I have no intention of bringing y’all a recipe that’s just ok. That is one of the reasons we are only selling brownies. I have other recipes I could use, and they are good, but they are not amazing. I want to knock people’s socks (sorry kilts!) off with how good it is.

My basic philosophy of food is that I want our eating to help decrease our stress, not make it worse. Food should be fun and enjoyable, not making your life stressful all the time.

The Weeds

There are always nuances to any aspect of our lives. Not as major as the above foundations, but smaller things that still affect our eating philosophy.

We strive to produce as much of our food as possible. A very important aspect of our food is what goes into it. As we have talked about previously, sometimes it’s the little things that sneak into our food that make us sick. We want to be able, as much as possible, to control the source of our food to know what was put in it and on it. By growing our own food, this allows us to do that. What we cannot produce ourselves, we do try and get from other local producers that we know.

In relation to that, we do strive to eat pasture raised meats and “organic” products when possible. A discussion of organic, and how effective that label is in the mass market, is beyond the reach of today’s topic, but we do try to make sure we are eating responsibly raised food. Sometimes that means an organic labeled item. Because this label is expensive and takes years to qualify for, most small producers will never be able to achieve it despite having better actual products, so many times we just talk to our farmers and source locally & responsibly raised items without any labeling.

Last, but certainly not least, is budget. Eating healthy and well is important, but resources are always finite. This is one reason we raise much of our own food. We can raise a chicken for less money than the equivalent quality from elsewhere.  We do have to make choices about what we eat, and how we spend our money, so sometimes we cannot afford the quality we would prefer, but we make the best efforts where we can – and don’t stress about the rest!

Conclusion

I’m sure I have missed some aspect of my philosophy of food here. There are so many things that effect the decisions we make that it can be hard to wrap our heads around everything. Eating quality whole foods, making tasty meals, and not breaking the budget are the foundations of our eating philosophy.

What is the basic of your philosophy of food? Let us know!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

 

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Managing Stress is More Important than What You Eat

Managing stress is more important than what you eat. That is quite the statement I know. I believe that statement more every day though. As someone with food allergies you may be wondering how I believe that. Making sure you don’t eat something that you are allergic to must be way more important than managing stress, right?

Of course I am over stating my position a bit. Making sure you avoid eating food containing something you are allergic to is extremely important. We do not want to even come close to eating something we shouldn’t.  Yet, some days I’m not sure what is worse or causes more damage, stress or eating that potentially contaminated French fry.

The Industry of Stress

We have entire industries devoted to dealing with stress. What is the purpose of a Nightguard from your dentist? To mitigate the negative consequences of stress that causes you to grind your teeth at night. You can go to someone that will help you learn to manage your stress. Hotels and spas market directly to being a haven from the stress of modern life.  Delivery services market to reducing your stress. Why have the stress of grocery shopping with your kids or having to put your pants on to get dinner when it can be brought to you!

Is it all bad?

Stress can be good too. Mild stress in the right situation helps us to grow and become stronger. A difficult client at work can help us become better at sales or customer service. Exercise is literally stressing the body to make it stronger. Education is “stressing” the brain to learn more and new things.

What about being chased by a bear? That is certainly stress! Being chased by a bear is not good but that stress causes our body to release adrenaline and other hormones and helps us to get out of a bad situation. The stress itself in that situation is not good, we don’t want to be chased by a bear, but the stress helps to save us from a bad situation.

The Dark Side

Why do I say managing stress is more important than what you eat? Long term, unmanaged stress is known to be a health issue. According to the Harvard Medical School “New Research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging process”.  I know I certainly don’t want to age any faster than normal!

You may say “Sure, stress is bad, but I know if I get gluten, even by Cross Contact, I WILL get sick. I won’t necessarily get sick right away from stress.” Perhaps that is so, but that might not always be true. It used to be that unless I got completely and utterly stressed out for days I would not get sick. Unfortunately that has changed.  Now unless I manage my stress properly I get sick fairly quickly. When I say quickly I mean within an hour or so. My neck locks up and starts to hurt and my stomach hurts just as much as if I ate gluten. I always knew I should not be stressed, but I never thought I would be here.

How do we balance the two?

Where do we go from here then? I am not saying we should not be concerned about what we eat. Yes we should! Staying away from food that makes us sick is super important! How we go about it is what matters.

How stressed does it make you to go out to eat? Can you comfortably ask the questions you need to determine if it is safe to eat there? Or does it amp your stress level up to try and figure out what is and is not safe on the menu? I know I have certainly been there. Choose not to go out to eat, or only go out when you are not already stressed.

Does your job require such a huge commitment from your life that you have no time for the other things you need to do, or the time to spend with your family? Remember they will not be paying the medical expenses for your heart attack in 30 years brought on by your stress, or help you put your family back together because you were not there.

Ask the question first are these “requirements” actually there or are they self-imposed? Am I making myself do more than my boss actually requires? Do I really have to work 5 hours on Saturday when I should be at my kids soccer game? Do I truly have to be subject to every whim of this customer?

The answer to those questions could be yes or no. If the answer is no, than stop! Fantastic customer service is crazy important, it’s even more important to care for your family though! If someone cannot understand that, maybe they need to go away, or you need to go away. I’m NOT saying go out right now and quit. I am saying start asking questions, possibly erect proper boundaries, and maybe even start looking for another job.

Off Kilter Brownies is not my sole job at this point. I would like it to be that one day Lord willing but it is not yet. I have certain boundaries I have erected for my day job to help mitigate stress. My work phone effectively turns off on Friday night and I don’t turn it back on until Monday. There are ways people can get a hold of me if they TRULY need to. Sometimes I will check it mid-weekend just in case, sometimes I don’t. There is basically nothing that cannot wait until Monday morning.

It’s Not Just Allergies

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking “That is all well and good, but I don’t have food allergies, so saying managing stress is more important than what you eat does not really apply to me.” That could be true, but what else do you care about? Many people care about eating healthy food. The same concept applies, especially for the little stuff.

Food additives and chemicals are a serious concern. The amount of round up that ends up in our food supply is scary. Is it truly feasible to make sure you never get anything that has ever potentially been sprayed though? Do you refuse to eat at a friend’s house because they are not as strict as you? Maybe you don’t refuse but do you get stressed out when you go over because you know they might use velvita in a dish? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excited about eating velvita, but is it going to kill you in one meal? Is it worth potentially ruining a relationship over? Is it worth making myself sick with worry because of what I might eat at my friend’s house? The answer to all of those is no.

You have a much higher likelihood of causing yourself long term physical harm by worrying all the time about making sure you avoid every drop of red 40, than you ever will by accidently having one drop. Yes what we eat is important. My wife and I care a ton about what we eat, but sometimes it’s just not worth it to worry. You take the steps to mitigate the risk and you move on.

 

I hope this has gotten you to think about the stress in your life. Is it always true that managing stress is more important than what you eat? Maybe not, but it is important as well. Monday we will talk about some ways to help deal with stress.

Take the time this weekend to relax, and take a deep breath. Whatever it is, it’s not the end of the world. Do what you can about it and then move on. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life as a friend of mine recently talked about.

Make it a tasty weekend folks,

Chris

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Grain Free Breakfast – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

A Grain Free Breakfast Recipe For Your Weekend

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you folks but for me that means I still have more work tomorrow. It’s fun work, though! I get to go to the Farmer’s Market and spread the joy of brownies! Today we have a tasty recipe that you can make for breakfast tomorrow.  Grain Free Coconut flour pineapple upside down cake! This recipe makes a wonderful, healthy, make-ahead grain free breakfast and it comes from Wellness Mama, the original article can be found here.

Pineapple upside down cake seems like a recipe from the past. People do still make pineapple upside down cake, but it feels like a recipe from another era. Arranging the pineapple on the bottom of the pan and flipping does take a bit more work but it is visually appealing and fun for kids! Get your kids involved in making this recipe, our girls had a great time even at 3 & 4 years old.

egg breakfasts, protein breakfast, paleo breakfast, grain free, gluten free, kid friendly, whole 30
did you know a 2 year old can actually crack eggs?!

 

If you have never used parchment paper before I HIGHLY recommend it. Parchment paper is not the perfect answer for everything, but it makes baking 85% of recipes much easier. We use it for our brownies for the same reason that it is used here for the cake – makes clean up and flipping it over a breeze!

family friendly, kid friendly,
cook with your kids!

 

*Special Brownie Tip*

If you want to decorate your brownies, cook them with parchment paper lining the pan. Let cool in the pan, then flip the pan over onto a cutting board and pull the parchment paper off. The surface you see (the bottom of the brownies) will be perfectly smooth and ever so slightly sticky for decorating with powdered sugar, decorator’s gel, melted chocolate, sprinkles, etc!

 

Now back to pineapple upside down cake and grain free breakfasts.

Cherries

You could use frozen or dried cherries if you don’t have fresh on hand. Defrost the frozen cherries first, and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Defrosting them first will allow the majority of the liquid to go elsewhere and not throw off the texture off the cake. You can do this with any recipe calling for fruit if you need to use frozen fruit.

fresh cherries
pitting those cherries! use a cherry pitter, not a toddler….

Pineapple

For the pineapple we did not use rings. We do not have and I refuse to buy a pineapple corer, haha. No kitchen uni-taskers! We took a fresh pineapple, peeled it, cut vertically into 4 sections, cut the core out, and sliced the sections into thin slices. I would recommend a ¼ inch slice. Obviously that is up to you. Canned pineapple would be a great option as well here.

fresh fruit, whole foods, grain free, paleo
fresh fruit always wins!

Coconut Flour

Last quick tip before we move on. How to measure wheat flour is quite the argument, with everyone having learned a different way from their grandmother. Do you scoop, or pack, or fill and sweep.  For coconut flour especially, I highly recommend the fill and sweep method. Coconut flour soaks up SO MUCH water that if you add too much it will throw off your recipe. Take your measuring cup and, using another spoon or scoop fill your measure cup from the container. When the measuring cup is heaping full, use the back of the knife to scrape it off flat. You do not want to pack it in, just loosely pour it into the measuring cup. A little coconut flour and a lot of eggs can make lovely grain free breakfast options as they yield a fairly nice, spongy, tasty texture for some variety from plain eggs!

Grain Free Breakfast Substitutes

I do want to let you know, before you jump in, that if you are expecting a grain free perfect replacement of pineapple upside down cake, this is not it. This recipe is delicious and highly enjoyable. We will be making it again. This recipe is also fairly eggy, and is more of a clafouti style, custardy coconut flour texture. I think you’ll love it, but I do want to make sure people understand what it is first. It makes a better breakfast alternative than dessert alternative.

It is great that this has so many eggs, though! It’s crammed with protein and is filling. That makes it great for an all in one grain free breakfast. If you know you are short for time the next day, bake it the night before, put it in the fridge, cut slices and toast them in the morning, easy!

You can see our first grain free blog post here – and look for many more delicious gluten and grain free breakfast (and other meals) recipes to come!

grain free breakfast
little cracking, but still pretty – use halved cherries for a prettier effect
grain free breakfast, family friendly
beautiful
kid friendly, family friendly
grain free breakfast alternatives

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil (softened, but not melted)
  • 8 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ can cored pineapple slices in juice or ½ of a fresh pineapple
  • ¼ cup fresh cherries or maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 325°F.

  1. Prepare a 9-inch round baking dish or spring form pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. If using fresh pineapple, peel, core, and cut into ½ inch slices.
  3. Arrange the pineapple slices on the bottom of the baking dish you are using.
  4. Place the cherries around and in the center of the pineapple slices.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. If needed, thin with pineapple juice or coconut milk to get a spreadable consistency.
  6. Spread the batter over the pineapple and cherries.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-40 minutes until cooked through and no longer soft in the middle.
  8. Loosen the edges of the cake and carefully flip over onto a plate or baking sheet.
  9. Serve and enjoy!