Eli's Corner


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juice, glorious juice

I bought a juicer at a Boxing Day sale last year and have – to my own great surprise and delight – been juicing ever since.

Right around 3 in the afternoon, that time when I start to crash, when I used to reach for a second caffeine of the day or grab some sugar to keep from slipping off into a comatose stupor, I now consume this:

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Ok – I consume half of it – when juiced, the above becomes this:

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Folks, it’s amazing.  You juice this stuff up and you feel like you can take on the world.  I work at home, so I have the luxury of quitting what I’m doing and taking the 20-odd minutes required to prep and juice these veggies and then clean the juicer.  I run one glass downstairs to my husband, who is usually on a call with a client and meets my arrival with a fist-pump of triumph, and then I drain my own glass, reveling in how awesome I feel before hitting the grindstone with renewed vigor.

It took a few weeks of juicing regularly for me to notice a difference, but now I’ve gotten to a point where I feel all wrong when I don’t do it.  And there are fringe benefits to juicing as well.  I used to shy away from buying vegetables in bulk because there’s only two of us, and I thought we’d never get through them.  Now, with the confidence that I can just throw things in the juicer if we don’t get around to cooking them, I’m a vegetable buying fiend.  I prep my refrigerated veggies in advance – washing the kale, and trimming and washing the carrots and celery and any herbs.  Non-refrigerated veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus, etc.) are all within easy reach.  With all these vegetables at hand, I’m far more likely to throw some extras into whatever I’m making.  As a result, I find that we also consume far more vegetables in our meals now that we’re juicing.

People often ask me what my favorite juice blend is.  Um, I kind of just throw everything in there based on what nutrients I’m going for.  In the beginning it was occasionally very untasty.  I have learned from some mistakes over time and now follow a couple of rules of thumb to maximize my juicing experience:

  1. Just because it can be juiced doesn’t mean it should.  For example, never, under any circumstances, juice an onion.  Trust me.
  2. Get the most bang for your buck.  I find that most of the juice I get from kale comes from the stalks, not the leaves, so I pull the leaves off for salads and cooking, and I use the stalks for juice.  Similarly, I use the leafy parts of the celery and the stems of herbs for juicing, rather than throwing them out.
  3. Waste not.  In the beginning, I saved the juice pulp to add to soups, sauces, and even baking.  I have since failed to be that organized, although I do fertilize my herb garden with the pulp still.  It seems oddly cannibalistic, but my herbs seem to love it.
  4. Buy organic when possible, and wash thoroughly.  I soak all my veggies in a bowl with room-temperature water and a little baking soda before scrubbing and rinsing them.
  5. Juice really needs to have a little bit of a kick for it to taste good.  For that I use the following:
  •  green apples – you can often buy organic granny smiths at a reasonable price if you by them by the bag
  •  lemon or lime – again, reasonable if purchased in bulk
  •  a good-sized hunk of fresh ginger
  •  sweet bell pepper

Juicing is time consuming, but it has become ingrained into our routine now, and it makes us feel amazing.  I usually catch every bug that goes around, but this is the first year on record that I have held steady despite everyone around me dropping like dominoes as the brutal Canadian cold season sets in.

Just FYI, here’s exactly what went into the afternoon snack pictured above (and a by-no-means-exhaustive list of the health benefits of these ingredients):

  • 1 bell pepper (for eyesight, immunity, prevention of birth defects, cancer prevention, and regulation of blood pressure)
  • 1 lime (aids with digestion, immunity, and prevention of heart disease)
  • 1 lemon (immunity, detoxification, antibacterial, and antiviral)
  • 1 good-sized hunk of ginger (about 1.5″ X 1.5″) (aids digestion, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and fights cancer)
  • 3 stalks of celery (anti-inflammatory with over a dozen types of antioxidants)
  • 3 carrots (for eyesight, beautiful skin, and detoxification)
  • 1 granny smith apple (for regulated blood sugar and a steady heart rhythm)
  • 1 cucumber (cucumbers have most of the vitamins the body needs in a single day, and they fight everything from arthritis to bad breath)
  • A handful of Italian parsley (folic acid and heart health)
  • A few stalks of kale (anti-inflammatory, helps prevent blood clotting, and has more calcium-per-calorie than milk)

This particular blend was completely fabulous.  And I will probably never die. **


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freaking awesome cranberry sauce

High praise for my own recipe, but I call it like I see it.  Ok, truth be told, this isn’t my own recipe – my mom found it on the back of a bag of cranberries somewhere when I was a kid, and we’ve been making it for Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since.  It’s packed with fresh oranges, whole cranberries, antioxidants and zesty, tangy goodness.  And it’s easy to make.  Almost foolproof.  I say almost because ever since the year that my brother kind of made it into a cranberry-orange slurpee, it’s been my job to make it.

It’s been years since I’ve seen that original recipe, since I just do it by feel now, but as I recall, it called for way more sugar.  Over the years I’ve upped the orange juice concentrate levels to cut down the refined sugar.  In all honesty, I think you could eliminate the sugar altogether, but I know my audience, and they are not ready.  Cutting sugar by adding more orange juice changes the consistency (making it a little soupier and less like the relish it was originally), but it makes it healthier, and I think it improves the flavor.  That tart-sweet cranberry-orange combo is a powerful thing.

As I said, I usually just feel my way through this, but his time I tried to pay attention to quantities for your benefit, so without further ado:

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INGREDIENTS

1 Bag Frozen Cranberries (600 g – or 21 oz)

3 Oranges (washed, ends cut off, and cut into quarters)

1 can (295 ml – or 10 oz) Orange Juice Concentrate

1/4 cup (or 60 ml) sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Blend a few orange wedges (peels and all) and a cup or so of cranberries in the food processor then remove them and place them in a bowl.  Continue the process with the remaining orange wedges and cranberries until they are all thoroughly chopped (but not pulverized).  Then add the orange juice concentrate and sugar to the bowl and stir thoroughly.  (This time I just added the orange juice and sugar to oranges and cranberries in the food processor – which just makes everything a little soupier, if that is your preference.)

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This will make enough to feed all your relatives and give you some left over to spread on your turkey sandwiches.  You’re welcome.

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pumpkin pie recipe – vegan, gluten free, soy free

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Despite having been here four years now, it still feels like practice Thanksgiving, to be honest – a chance to hone your craft before heading down south several weeks later for The Show.  Canadian Thanksgiving is pretty much a standard 3-day weekend up here.  Participation  is elective and spotty at best – it’s kind of like how you wouldn’t know it was Columbus Day unless you saw ads for Columbus Day sales at your local RV dealer and were planning on getting away this weekend because you had a day off…but you’re not necessarily going to do anything Columbus-y.  (Especially not if you live in Berkeley, where if you are doing anything that weekend, you are celebrating Indigenous People’s Day as opposed to paying homage to that bumbling foreign oppressor…but I digress.)

Americans take their Thanksgiving far more seriously – a half day on Wednesday followed by a full 4-day weekend and the total shutdown of all stores – except the few grocery stores that stay open until around 11am to accommodate panicked shoppers who forgot shallots or cranberries or some such thing.  Then of course there’s the football and the frenetic preparations for the utter chaos that is Black Friday.

With the exception of football and Black Friday, my family is no different.  We all make it for Thanksgiving, and the food is epic.  We each have our areas of expertise.  Mine happen to be pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.  I have a pumpkin pie recipe that was handed down from my grandmother to my mother and eventually to me.  It’s been tweaked and honed over the years – tricks to get that crust to flaky perfection, the slightest adjustments to get the filling to the perfect balance of creamy goodness and pumpkiny spice.  Oh, yeah – and this is not that recipe.  Sorry folks.  That recipe will kill you.

I’m really taking a long time to get to the point.  This is the part I always skip anyways when I’m looking for recipes online….blah blah blah, it’s fall and you wanted to make something homey…we get it, skip to the ingredients.  So odds are you aren’t even reading this.  If you are, the point is that my husband’s family does make a big deal out of Canadian Thanksgiving – thank goodness! – and I’ve got some dietary restrictions this year.  Meh.  Normally, I don’t ask other people to accommodate my diet – I just skip things, or I break the rules and feel gross later.  It turns out, however, that my brother-in-law recently discovered that he is pretty much allergic to all things that you need to avoid on a fertility diet, which works out perfectly for me, since he very much is the sort to ask everybody to accommodate his diet.  So this year, we had vegan mashed potatoes, and vegan, gluten free cornbread and stuffing, and I made this pie.  I have to say, it was the first time I’ve ever finished a Thanksgiving dinner and not felt sluggish, overstuffed and yucky.  It was fantastic!

I adapted the pie from this Vegan Sweet Potato Pie recipe on my Endo Diet Pinterest Board.  Let me be clear: it’s not as good as the eggy, creamy, gluten-and-crisco-laden recipe that my family has handed down for generations – BUT – it was very good.  I felt that my pumpkin pie needs were met and was not tempted to drift over to the regular pumpkin pie that my mother-in-law brought.  Also, I remembered to take a picture this time – yay!

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I have made this crust before with regular flour, and it was really tasty.  This time, to make it gluten free, I used this, which I recently stumbled across in Costco and decided to give a whirl:

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I found the crust slightly more brittle and slightly less flavorful using this, but people who had not experienced the previous crust said that they thought the gluten-free crust was good.  So, perhaps better if you don’t know what you’re missing.

I’m just reposting the recipe here with all my modifications because it’s going to be easier than switching back and forth between two recipes:

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup gluten free flour

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the filling

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 14-oz cans pumpkin

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the coconut whipped cream

2 cans full-fat coconut milk (chilled overnight)

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add almonds and rolled oats to a food processor and grind to a powder. Make sure you don’t overblend — you may end up making a paste. Place flour in a medium-sized bowl and add almond and oat mixture. Mix well.

2. Add the coconut oil and mix with a fork until it is thoroughly incorporated into the flour mixture.

3. Stir in the maple syrup; mix just enough to blend well and form a dough that will hold together when pressed.
Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and spread into an even thickness on the sides and bottom of the pan.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crust cool before filling.

5. While crust is baking, make the pie filling: in a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cornstarch until combined. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt and whisk until blended. Pour mixture into pre-baked pie crust.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until edges are set and center slightly jiggles. Let cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour before serving.

7. While pie is baking, open the can of chilled coconut milk, turn upside down, and open. Pour out the liquid at the top; you’ll use the cream part, not the liquid.

8. Gently pour the coconut fat into a food processor and blend until whipped. Add vanilla and maple syrup and whip again until fully incorporated.  Refrigerate until ready to serve with pie.

Bottom line: Easy recipe with no super obscure ingredients.  Scratches the pumpkin pie itch without making you feel gross later.


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slow cooker vegan chili recipe review

As promised, I’m testing the recipes on my Endometriosis Diet Pinterest board to make sure I’m not recommending yuck food.  I had the perfect opportunity to try the vegan chili this week, as I was having a crew of people with a broad range of dietary restrictions over to my house for an informal dinner.  I always feel like it’s sad when the lone vegetarian has to show up with her own tofu sandwich or eat some crappy lesser meal that was thrown together with her in mind, so I wanted us all eating the same thing.  I decided to start with a gluten-free, dairy-free, meatless base and then provide options for people to add to it as they liked.  I made a big pot of the chili and had shredded cheese, cilantro, sliced avocado and lime, as well as chopped-up and sauteed bison sausage all lined up buffet-style as possible fixings.  And of course, there were a couple loaves of hearty bread.

As it turned out, we had 12 people (I was expecting 8), and despite the chicken noodle soup I put on (my mother in law’s – really good soup) – at the end of the night, somebody was literally scraping the last little beans out of the chili crock pot, while we still had ample soup left.  I think this is a solid recipe and will keep it in the rotation – especially for this type of situation.  (Incidentally, the vegetarian pulled me aside afterwards and expressly thanked me for providing something she could eat along with everybody else.  *warm fuzzies*)

I made enough changes to this recipe (based on a compilation of reviewer comments) that it would be easier to just re-write it than have you checking back and forth for all my edits (the spices are entirely different, there are more fresh veggies, and there are a couple other tweaks).

Tragically, I didn’t get a picture of it before it was devoured, because I am a lame-ass blogger.  I did, however, take a picture of the beans after I threw them into the pot.  Does it help you understand how to make this recipe?  No.  Are the colors kind of pretty?  Sure.  Does it in any way resemble the finished product?  No.  But that was also pretty. Unfortunately, you’ll have to take my word for it.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 (19 ounce) can black beans (drained)

1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)

1 (14 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans (drained)

1 (12 ounce) can whole kernel corn (drained)

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

2 tomatoes (diced)

1 onion (chopped)

1 orange bell pepper (chopped)

2 stalks celery (chopped)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tbsp chili powder

1.5 tbsp cumin

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

A few grinds of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

BOTTOM LINE: easy, tasty, adaptable, freezable, feeds a crowd.  One downside is that it’s difficult to make more of this recipe without doubling it – which you can’t really do unless you’ve got 2 slow cookers.  I’d say this is best for a crowd of up to 8 people.