Recipes and Tips for Kid-Friendly, Allergy-free Lunches

Monday, August 18th, 2014

As seen in iVillage
: See full article here.

Need some tips for gluten and allergen free lunches?  Here are some “out of the lunchbox” ideas.

Parents with children that have severe food allergies can especially feel challenged by the morning lunch prep routine– easy options for lunch seem limited.   Without advance planning, the morning rush can make your head spin. Here are some easy ideas to help overcome those mental blocks that we can face during the hectic, rush around mornings.  The tips below are all geared towards the gluten-free and allergy-friendly lunchbox but really anyone can add these ideas to their lunch prep repertoire.

1. Plan and prepare in advance

As much as possible, prepare at least part of lunch the night before, while you are preparing dinner.  If you are making a salad for dinner, make an extra salad for your child’s lunch.  If you are preparing pasta, make an extra serving and re-warm in the morning.  Soups, pastas, risottos all make great lunch box options.

-Wash and chop a plethora of fresh veggies and place in air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Use what you need as you go.

-Make and freeze larger batches of items such as gluten-free granola bars and home-made gluten-free cookies.

-Purchase handy lunch containers, a thermos and a large enough lunch box to fit everything.


2.  Think outside of the regular sandwich

The challenge with gluten-free sandwiches is, of course, the bread. It often crumbles, doesn’t taste good, has holes in it, is expensive, etc.  A great way to prepare sandwiches on gluten-free bread is by using a panini maker or sandwich press.  The flavor and texture of purchased gluten-free bread is enhanced by toasting or grilling.



Turkey Pesto Panini:

2 slices whole grain gluten-free bread such as Rudi’s

2-3 turkey slices, nitrate free, try organic brand like Applegate Farm

1 slice cheddar, Monterey Jack or Provolone Cheese, or Daiya dairy free cheese

Sliced tomato or avocado

Pesto sauce for the adventurous kids

Spray a little cooking spray on the Panini maker, place your first bread piece, then add nitrate free turkey, a cheese slice or Daiya Cheese Shreds (our favorite!)  add optional sliced tomato or avocado, then another cheese slice, and top with second slice of bread, for the adventurous kids, pesto sauce can be spread on the top piece of bread.  Cook as instructed.  Wrap in reusable sandwich wrapper.  While the Panini will not stay hot until lunchtime, it still tastes great.

Almond Butter, Jam and Fruit Panini: Spray a little cooking spray on the Panini maker, spread one piece of bread with almond butter, the other with low sugar, organic jam, place first bread piece, thinly sliced apples or bananas, place other piece of bread on top.  Cook as instructed.  Wrap in reusable sandwich wrapper.

Waffle sandwiches: Try The Pure Pantry Buckwheat Flax Pancake and Baking mix to make waffles on the weekend.  Make extra a freeze.  In the morning, lightly toast two waffles, spread with nut butter and organic jam or cream cheese and jam.  Try turkey slices or ham with swiss cheese or Daiya Mozzarella to create a “Montecristo” type of sandwich. 

Cookie Cutter Sandwiches: appearance is everything to some kids.  Create cute cut-out finger sandwiches with large shaped cookie cutters.

3.Make a Hot Lunch

Not a lover of the gluten-free bread choices out there?  Think outside the sandwich, and get into thermoses!

This Bento box type thermos provides great versitility:

Thermos Meals

Again, planning ahead pays off in the morning.  Left overs make great lunches the next day.  Soups, stews, pastas, risottos, are all easily reheated and packed into a thermos.

Soups: What can be more satisfying that a nice homemade cup of soup?  Here are a few ideas:

White Bean Oregano Chili: A family favorite in our home. A large pot can be made on the weekend and doled out during the week.  Accompany with organic corn chips or gluten-free corn muffins.

Asian Noodle Soups: gluten-free rice noodle packaged soups with added veggies are a perfect, quick hot meal to take to school.


Pasta Salad: gluten-free fusilli pasta tossed with chopped celery, cooked broccoli, shredded carrots, diced black olives, and 1 tablespoon Balsamic salad dressing. 

Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballsmake a big batch for dinner, then warm and serve it up for lunch the next day.

Mac and Cheese – Dairy based or Dairy-Free with peas or broccoli. 

BBQ Chicken:

Left over BBQ’d chicken: My son’s favorite.  Barbeque extra chicken legs or thighs, pair them up with coleslaw or a side salad.

4. Get in the greens with salads

 I am proud to say my 3 year old eats salads.  If your children are salad eaters, a whole world opens up for lunch box choices.  It is easy to prepare a chef salad or garden salad with a protein.  For dinner the night before, prepare an extra portion and place in a lunch container.  Put salad dressing in a smaller container.  There are endless options. Here are a couple of ideas:

Chef Salad: top lettuce mixture with slices or turkey,cheese, add hardboiled egg slices, cherry tomatoes, avocado slices.  Place salad dressing in a separate small container.

Greek salad: top lettuce mixture with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, Greek olives and feta cheese crumbles or Daiya Mozzarella shreds, add sliced grilled chicken if desired.  Place salad dressing in separate small container.

Garden salad with tuna: top lettuce mixture with sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers and any other veggies your child likes. Combine one can tuna with 1 tablespoon Vegenaise (egg free,dairy free mayo) ½ cup diced celery, ½ cup diced pickle, a squeeze of ½ lemon, dash of dill.  Place one scoop of tuna salad on top of greens.  Place salad dressing in a separate small container.

5. Add Some Easy Snacks and Sides:

Trail mix: make your own or purchase.

Yogurt Parfait: Your child’s favorite yogurt or coconut yogurt flavor with a small container of sliced fruit and a container of gluten-free granola to top it off.  Our favorite gluten-free granola is from Healthy Creations.

Home-made Gluten-Free Granola Bars: try this recipe for Cherry-Almond Oat Bars. Make double batches, cut into bars, wrap each bar individually and freeze.  Pull out a ar when needed – it will defrost by snack time.


Home-made allergy-friendly cookies:  Try some fun fall recipes like Pumpkin Pie Bars, or Molasses Ginger Cookies, or an old time favorite, Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip cookies.

Gluten-free Chex Mix: try my Agave-Almond Chex Mix recipe for a great snack to pack for lunch or to bring to a class party.

Pre-packed healthy snacks: Organic Fruit leathers, organic squeezable fruit purees, organic apple sauce are all easy to throw in options.  Gluten-free crackers and cheese, and organic gluten-free corn chips with salsa are also easy to pull together.

Fresh fruit is a staple in every lunch we make.  We always keep apples, oranges, bananas and grapes on hand as a grab and go lunch item or snack.  More fragile fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, we place in small containers.

Fresh veggies and dips: Carrots, celery, red pepper strips are all great with hummus, organic ranch dip, or Edamame Pesto Dip (recipe in “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen”).

There are so many options for gluten-free, allergen friendly lunches.  With a little advance planning you can provide healthy, tasty lunch options that will keep your kids well-fed and make your mornings flow smoothly.

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Gluten-free Diet: Power Up Your Breakfast to Fight Colds and Flu | KUSI “Goodmorning San Diego” News Segment

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Catch me on KUSI, Channel 9 in San Diego, on Friday, February 24 at 9am discussing healthy breakfast options to fight flu and cold season!

Power Up Your Breakfast to Fight Colds and Flu!

Cold and flu season is in high gear right now.  What can you do to defend yourself?  A great way is to begin your day with a breakfast packed with powerful antioxidants to help prevent catching a cold and lessen the symptoms if you are already sick.

Antioxidants are essential nutrients and help protect your body against life’s stressors.  They are thought to play a role in the body’s cell protection system. They interfere with the disease process by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can disrupt and tear apart vital cell structures such as cell membranes. Antioxidants may take away the destructive power of free radicals, thus helping to reduce your chance of illness. They may also help you recover from an illness more quickly.

Including more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet is the best way to ensure a high intake of antioxidants. If you follow the guidelines issued by most health organizations and eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, you can easily get enough antioxidants. For example, one quarter of a cantaloupe gives you nearly half the recommended daily requirement of beta-carotene and is a rich source of vitamin C. Spinach is not only full of beta-carotene, but also contains vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium.  Acai berries are one of the highest sources of antioxidants, while blueberries and raspberries are also a delicious and nutritious choice.

Another important choice is to eliminate dairy and gluten from your diet if you are finding you have chronic stuffy nose and/or hoarseness in your throat.  It may be that you have cold symptoms or it could be that you are allergic to dairy and gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye and through cross contamination, oats.  Dairy creates dampness in the body and causes congestion.   Gluten also causes stuffy nose and congestion.  Try eliminating these two top allergens for at least two weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

There are many tasty substitutes for dairy.  I truly love coconut milk and am so glad that it is easy to find at your local natural food store. So-delicious brand has an unsweetened variety that is perfect for smoothies.  You can also try almond milk, hemp milk or rice milk.

So instead of making an ordinary smoothie, raise the bar by adding ingredients that will provide you with all the daily recommended vitamins and minerals.  Adding ingredients like acai,  coconut milk, whole food protein powder and fish or flax oil will make your breakfast smoothie complete.

Here are two breakfast recipes to power up your immune system: a nutient rich Power Berry Smoothie accompanied by Berry Boosted Buckwheat Flax Pancakes.

Power Berry Smoothie,  (gluten, dairy and soy free)

1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries)

1 pack Sambazonfrozen organic Acai Puree

1-2 teaspoons flax oil or try Barlean’sOmega Swirl Pina Colada Fish Oil (it tastes so amazing, you won’t believe it!)

1- 1 1/2 cups So-delicious unsweetened coconut milk

1 scoop Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer (I recommend this because it is gluten, dairy, soy and animal protein free)

Place frozen fruit, acai puree, flax or fish oil, coconut milk and Vega in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add more coconut milk if too thick.

Berry Boosted Buckwheat Flax Pancakes,  (gluten, dairy and soy free)

1 1/2 cups Buckwheat Flax Pancake Mix from The Pure Pantry

1 3/4 cups So-delicious Coconut Milk or Almond Milk

1 teaspoon flax seed oil

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

Agave nectar and more berries for the top of pancakes

Preheat pancake griddle or pan to medium heat.  Measure pancake mix and coconut milk into large bowl.  Whisk together.  Add flax oil and blend.  Grease pan with coconut oil.  Pour about 1/2 cup batter to form pancake.  Drop blueberries and raspberries into pancake as it cooks on the first side.  After about 2 minutes flip pancake over and cook an additional minute.  Enjoy your super-antioxidant breakfast and stay healthy!

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Detoxifying Cleanse | Wholeliving 28 Day Challenge

Friday, January 13th, 2012


Cleanse | Detox Your Body, Reduce Inflammation, Heal the Gut


Are you ready to start off the new year with a healthy detoxifying cleanse?  Cleansing the body of toxins, giving the organs a break, letting the gut heal from damage, reducing inflammation in the body, clearing up the skin, getting rid of bad habits, and weight loss are all benefits of cleansing.  I am following the Wholeliving 28-Day Mind and Body Challenge as a guide for my cleanse.  Wholeliving offers wonderful recipes, daily support emails, and weekly menus with delicious recipes.  Here on my blog, I will be writing about my cleanse experience and provide further recipe ideas and commentary.  You can access the Wholeliving Challenge here:

Check back in daily and please chime in on my facebook (Elizabeth Kaplan – Gluten Free) or blog with recipes, ideas, struggles, questions.

10 Steps to “Going Gluten-Free”

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

By Elizabeth Kaplan

G-Get a blood test before you go gluten-free.
L-Learn to cook and eat together as a family.
U-Understand what gluten is and where it is found.
T-Take supplements to support your health.
E-Eliminate all gluten from your pantry.
N-Natural Food Stores and Farmers’ Markets are your new BFF’s.
F-Focus on whole foods diet.
R-Read labels.
E-Enjoy eating out, with caution.
E-Embrace the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle.

Get a blood test before you go gluten-free.
See your health care practitioner before you eliminate gluten completely. A person seeking diagnosis MUST be following a daily diet that contains gluten for at least 4 weeks in order for test results to be accurate. Specific antibody blood tests are the initial step in screening for Celiac disease.  Further testing options can be decided upon with your doctor after the blood test.

Learn to cook.

Our society has become reliant on fast food drive-throughs and take-out joints, and dependent upon packaged and prepared foods for daily sustenance.   According to the National Restaurant Association,  69 percent of adults surveyed said “purchasing meals from restaurants, take-out and delivery places makes it easier for families with children to manage their day-to-day       lives” — not proof that they never cook, but that they would prefer not to.     According to a 2009 CBS News Report, only 17% of families surveyed had home cooked meals together 7 nights a week, and only 23% had home cooked meals 4-5 nights a week.

Convenience comes at a cost.  Serious health issues including rampant type II diabetes, increased heart disease, and obesity are plaguing our society.   When you are gluten-free, stepping back from society’s pull to eat all things convenient is a not only a healthy step for the aforementioned reasons, it is an assurance that your diet will be free of the allergens you must avoid.   Most convenience foods are laden with gluten, high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, sodium, and preservatives.   Learning to prepare healthy meals for you and your friends and family will bring the joy of eating back into your family’s life and keep everyone healthy.  Check out The Pure Pantry cooking class schedule here: (link)

Understand what gluten is and where to find it.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  Oats contain gluten through cross contamination.  It is surprising to find out how many food items contain gluten.  In addition to wheat, barley, rye and oats, many food additives contain hidden sources of gluten.

  • Barley Malt
  • Modified food starch
  • Malt Vinegar
  • “Natural” flavorings
  • Packaged mixes and spices
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Vanilla flavoring

Take supplements to repair the damage and support your health.
When you first get your blood panel done you will find out from your health care practitioner if you have deficiencies.  The gut is most likely not able to break down foods appropriately as it is healing from the injury caused by gluten.

Whether you’ve been living with gluten intolerance or celiac disease for a short or long period of time, attention should be paid to healing the lining of your gut as well as boosting your immune system.  Often those with celiac disease have deficiencies in iron, magnesium, calcium and other minerals due to lack of absorption in the gut.  In addition to adding healing foods such as whole/organic/ unprocessed foods, and high-quality fats and oils, talk to your health care practitioner about adding in the following supplements to boost your body’s ability to heal, rebuild and sustain optimal health:  silica, multi-mineral, aloe vera, L-Glutamine, probiotics, and iron if anemic.

Eliminate all gluten from your life.
Time to clean out the pantry!   Remove from your pantry and refrigerator of all items containing wheat, rye or barley and oats.  This includes many breakfast cereals, pancake mixes, cake, cookie mixes, breads, frozen dinners, frozen waffles, salad dressings, soy sauce and anything with soy sauce in it, bar-b-que sauces, marinades, snack foods such as crackers, some chips, protein bars.  A full list of gluten containing foods is available at:

Natural food stores and Farmers’ Markets are your new BFF’s.
Shopping at a traditional grocery store is difficult and frustrating when you are hunting for gluten-free items.  Alternatively, Natural food stores are geared toward accommodating gluten-free shoppers.  Many stores have “gluten-free” shelf tags to help shoppers locate gf options.  Shopping at the Farmer’s Market is a shopping “experience”, an opportunity to reconnect both with the food you eat, and the people who grow it.  See “Farmers’ Market Has Multiple Benefits for Gluten-free Families” blog entry.

Focus on a whole foods diet.

“What can I eat if I can’t eat pasta, bread, donuts, and all my other favorite foods!”   If this is what you are thinking, you are a perfect candidate for the gluten-free diet as you have been focusing on a carb centered diet and most likely not getting the nourishment you need from nature’s bounty.

A healthy gluten-free diet is based on whole gluten free grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and good fats/oils.  Eating whole foods and avoiding packaged foods will keep your diet healthy.


 What are most nutritional food for people with gluten intolerance?


Grains and Flours:


Rice: go for a variety, from brown to wild rice but beware of too much white rice consumption as it spikes blood sugar levels

  • Gluten free pasta: go for the wholegrain varieties
  • Gluten free cereals with flax, buckwheat, brown rice
  • Quinoa: versatile and a complete source of protein
  • Chia seeds: high in antioxidants, fiber and omega-3’s.

Most beneficial for individuals with celiac disease:

  • Flax meal- high in Omega 3 fatty acids, protect stomach lining
  • Buckwheat-high in protein, fiber and essential amino acids


Fresh fruits – all varieties
Most beneficial for individuals with celiac disease:

  • Avocado- high in Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Acai Berry and Blueberries- high in antioxidants
  • Pomegranate- potent antioxidant, cancer fighting, brain and heart health

Nuts and seeds:

Almonds and walnuts; pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds
Most beneficial for individuals with celiac disease:

  • Almonds – anti-inflammatory, high in vit E for healthy skin and hair, reduces blood cholesterol


Fresh vegetables – all varieties

Most beneficial:

  • Spinach- for blood, brain and heart health, cancer fighting elements, rich in carotenoids, iron, folic acid
  • Garlic- cancer fighting, intestinal health, infection fighting
  • Tomatoes- cancer fighting agent lycopine, anti-oxidants, carotenoids.
  • Broccoli- high in fiber, high in cancer preventing anti-oxidants, high in calcium


All varieties of beans and lentils; when making from scratch be sure to soak your beans before cooking and add in kombu (a sea vegetable, available in the Asian foods section) to make the bean more digestible and to impart extra minerals.
Most beneficial for individuals with celiac disease

  • Lentils- highest in fiber -15.6 grams of fiber in 1 cup cooked


Organic and/or grass fed meat and poultry, wild caught fish
Beans, lentils and high protein vegetables for vegans/vegetarians
Most beneficial for individuals with celiac disease

  • Wild caught salmon – high in protein, omega fatty acids for brain health

Oils and Fats

Olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, flax oil, borage oil, (Udo’s blend contains gluten – beware)
Most beneficial

  • Olive Oil- cancer fighting, brain health, intestinal health
  • Coconut Oil – contains lauric acid which promotes healthy bacteria in the gut

Dairy (if tolerant)

  • Yogurt with probiotics – promotes intestinal health, reduces inflammation, calcium rich, protein
  • Goat & feta cheeses – high in calcium, easier to digest
  • Coconut milk products

Read Labels.

Many manufacturers are now labeling their products “gluten free,” so look for this on packaging.  Remember to be a vigilant reader because allergen labeling is currently voluntary for manufacturers.  You will find this information under the list of ingredients on a product.  But beware,  just because it is labeled GF doesn’t mean it’s a healthful choice.  And just because it’s labeled gluten-free doesn’t mean you won’t have reactions.  Many gf labeled products are processed in equipment that also processes wheat products.  Cross contamination is often a problem.

Enjoy Eating Out – with Caution.
Thank goodness many restaurants are starting to provide gluten free menu items. You still need to be careful about cross contamination.  Everyone has different levels of sensitivity, but if a restaurant uses the same grill or pans as gluten containing foods, you may feel the effects.    Some tips for eating out:
Search the web for gf restaurants.  There are many sites that help gf diners find a place to eat.
Talk to the waiter.  Ask what the gf options are on the menu.  Many restaurants now have a gf menu and have trained their servers to be aware of special dietary needs.
Make or purchase a dining card that indicates your food allergies – hand this to the food server and ask him/her to show it to the chef.    These are available at:

Embrace the benefits..
You’ll now be a conscious shopper and eater!  Creating a conscious lifestyle is not about deprivation, but rather abundance.  Look at this challenge as an opportunity to nourish yourself with better quality foods than you were previously using in your diet.

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Cookbook Reviews | “Gluten Free Living” Magazine Reviews “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen”

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Cookbook Review from “Gluten Free Living” Magazine

Family Friendly Products
and Recipes

Whether you are looking for a gluten-free mix or gluten-free recipes, Elizabeth Kaplan can oblige.  Kaplan is the founder of The Pure Pantry, a line of gluten-free baking mixes, as well as a recently published cookbook author with her book, Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

Kaplan’s inspiration comes from her own kitchen.  She has celiac disease and all three of her children are gluten-free.  In addition to gluten, various members of her family have allergies or intolerances to dairy, peanuts, soy, eggs, and some beans.  Wanting to provide them with options, Kaplan got to work and created The Pure Pantry.  Her line of mixes includes four organic mixes: Old Fashioned Pancake & Baking Mix, Buckwheat Flax Pancake & Baking Mix, Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, and Organic Sugar Cookie Mix.  She also offers two wholegrain mixes:  Oatmeal Cookie Mix and Dark Chocolate Cake Mix.

Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen continues Kaplan’s mission to create family friendly recipes and dishes that everyone can enjoy. The book, published in January 2011, includes recipes such as Peach Cobbler Muffins, Mojito Chicken with Cilantro Rice, and Blueberry Cheesecake with a Gluten-
Free Graham Cracker Crust. In addition to the recipes, there is a chapter titled “Stocking Your Gluten-Free Pantry,” which includes Kaplan’s recommendations for gluten-free grains and dairy-free ingredients.

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The Pure Pantry Company Review

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The Pure Pantry offers mixes that are not only delicious, but good for you, serving as proof that gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, soy-free, and even sugar-free don’t equal taste-free—quite the contrary!

The Pure Pantry offers a variety of mixes for gluten-free cookies, cakes, and pancakes, and even an all-purpose mix for creating other baked goods such as biscuits, muffins, and breads. The mixes are also versatile. We added tons of nuts to the Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, and we loved them. They were not only delicious, but so healthy tasting.

Other mixes include Wholegrain Chocolate Chip Coconut Organic Cookie Mix, Buckwheat Flax Pancake and Baking Mix, Organic Sugar Cookie Mix, and the decadent Wholegrain Dark Chocolate Cake Mix, oh so chocolately and full of good-for-you nutrients including protein, antioxidants, and protein from ingredients such as quinoa. The Organic All-Purpose Baking Mix is vegan and free of gluten, sugar, dairy, and casein and remarkable for its versatility. It’s even kosher!

Elizabeth Kaplan, Founder of The Pure Pantry, was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago. Discontent with the poor nutritional value of gluten-free products, Elizabeth put her skills as a trained chef to work to develop great-tasting as well as healthy gluten-free substitutes. The Pure Pantry’s website,, features recipes, an online store, and resources for the gluten-free community. I highly recommend checking out their mixes for your gluten-free baking.

Tina Turbin

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If You Are What You Eat, Where Do You Shop?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Farmers’ Markets Offer Families with Food Allergies a Bounty of Options
by Elizabeth Kaplan

For kids with allergies, shopping with mom or dad at a traditional grocery store can be very disheartening.  The majority of prepared and processed foods available have gluten, soy, dairy, nuts or eggs in them making it difficult to shop.  Not only do children feel left out, their parents often feel frustrated too.  Weaning your children from processed and prepared foods is one of the 10 Steps to “Going Gluten-Free” and a great way to kick the habit is to concentrate on a diet centered on whole foods by shopping at farmers’ markets.

At a farmers’ market you are presented with nature’s seasonal bounty.  There are no flashy cereal boxes or sugary snacks tempting your children, no scary chemical ingredients lacing the foods, and there are limited offerings which makes choosing something easier.  You are tempted by the smells and tastes of fresh, local produce and artesian foods.  Shopping and eating are just part of the fun. With a little preparation, you can turn any trip to the farmers’ market into an educational experience for your children while exposing them to a world of whole food choices that are free from all the bad stuff.

Here are some ideas for making your trip to farmers’ market an exciting adventure for kids, and give you time to enjoy the surroundings yourself.

Farmers’ Market Kid’s Activities:

1. Develop a list of questions for farmers: Young children often do not understand that some fruits grow on trees, some on vines, and others on bushes. The other day my three year old said, “We should plant a peach bush.”  Obviously he’s never seen a peach tree.  Talk to your kids about where and how different fruits and vegetables grow.  Play a question and answer game as you walk through the market to help them identify how fruits and vegetables grow.

2. Create a menu: As you are strolling around the farmers’ market, pick up a variety of ingredients to make a special family meal.  Have your children look at all the possibilities and come up with ideas.  See our family’s Farm to Table Sunday Supper Menu. (hyperlink)

3.  Give your kids some money to spend:  Our kids love to spend money, so we give them each $5 to choose what they’d like to purchase for their snacks and lunches.  While enhancing their math skills, they are also gaining confidence in decision making and social interaction.  Make sure your child is able to ask if an item is “gluten-free” or free from any other allergies he/she has.

4.  Find and purchase an unusual fruit or veggie: Have your kids help you find some produce that you would not normally eat. Buy it, take it home, and have the kids help cook it for dinner. This is a great way to get your family to try a variety of different foods.

5. Get artistic: Place all your beautiful produce in a basket.  When you get home give your children paper, colored pencils, watercolors or other art supplies and have them draw a still life of your farmers’ market basket.

6. Engage your children in cooking: You’ve planned the menu, purchased the food, now have your children help make the meal.  Children as young as three can help by washing produce, stirring, measuring, fetching items from the pantry, and setting the table. Older kids (10 and up) can chop produce, stir the pot, and help clean up by cleaning the counter and doing the dishes.
Shopping together at the Farmer’s Market is an opportunity to reconnect both with the food you eat, and the people who grow it. The more you can engage your kids in selecting, buying, preparing and cooking real, sustainable, non-processed, allergen-free foods, the better equipped they’ll be to make wise food choices in the future. The fact that you’ll be teaching your children to cook is just icing on the organic gluten-free carrot cake!

Take the fast food free pledge with your family, check out this site developed by a 12 year old~

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Cooking with Ginger—who knew it could make you feel so good?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

by Elizabeth Kaplan


Image via Wikipedia

Always in search of anti-inflammatory foods for wellness and to combat some of the symptoms related to gluten intolerance: bloating, swollen joints, headaches, upset stomach, to name a few, I discovered the healing benefits of ginger. I’m excited to share some of my favorite ginger recipes with you today. But first I’d like to share with you some interesting facts about ginger and how I learned from my dad way back that ginger helped to relieve his migraine headaches; we’d make ginger cookies, ginger ice-cream, ginger this and ginger that at home. As time went by I learned more and more what a helpful remedy ginger is, long used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine as a remedy for ailments such as nausea, indigestion, flatulence, flu, diarrhea, motion sickness and osteoarthritis.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) now has been scientifically proven to be helpful in relieving muscle pain and soreness. A new study shows that taking daily doses of ginger can ease the aches and pains that follow strenuous exercise, apparently up to 25%. Ginger works much like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen) by inhibiting prostaglandin production. Unlike these NSAIDs, ginger also serves to desensitize a type of pain receptor found in the peripheral nerves and it also reduces the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. The results of the ‘ginger study’ were published in the September 2010 issue of The Journal of Pain.

Researchers at the University of Georgia studied whether daily doses of ginger can inhibit exercise-related muscle pain. One group of 34 participants consumed capsules filled with two grams of raw (untreated) ginger (this is equivalent to the 500-mg capsules of raw ginger sold in health-food stores). A second group of 40 people took two grams of heat-treated ginger (earlier studies had shown that heating ginger may increase its pain-relieving properties). A third group took a placebo. All participants consumed their capsules for 11 consecutive days, seven days before, the day of, and three days after a high-intensity weight-lifting session (designed to induce muscle pain and inflammation) performed on the eighth day.   Measuring several different variables, including effort and pain intensity (reported by participants), range of motion, strength, and levels of prostaglandins (inflammation-mediators involved in pain), researchers found that:
• Participants taking daily raw ginger supplements reported 25% less exercise-induced pain than the placebo group.
• Participants taking daily heat-treated ginger had 23% less pain than the placebo group.

If you’d like to give this a try, Dr. O’Connor, who led the research study, suggests purchasing ginger capsules that contain a standardized extract with a gingerol content of 5%. Take one two-gram daily dose for several days before and after planned workouts. If you love the taste of ginger: Kitchen equivalents are as follows, a two-gram dose of raw ginger in capsule form is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of powdered ginger, 2 milliliters (about one-half teaspoon) of ginger extract, or (my favorite) one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger.

Here are some recipes from my cookbook, “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen” that use ginger. The flavor and health benefits are fabulous – the possibilities are endless.

Asian Veggies in Tamari-Sesame-Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce

Serves 4

Tamari-Sesame-Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoon gluten-free tamari sauce, such as San-J brand
1 tablespoon agave nectar, such as Nature’s Agave, Amber variety
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Asian chili sauce (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4-6 cups chopped fresh vegetables: carrots, green beans, broccoli, Asian
cabbage, kale, bean sprouts, celery, onion, etc.
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1.  Whisk together 1 tablespoon sesame oil,tamari sauce and agave nectar. Add fresh ginger and garlic and stir. Add optional Asian chili sauce.

2. Place 1 teaspoon sesame oil and coconut oil in a hot wok. Stir-fry vegetables for 2 minutes in oil.  Pour sauce over vegetables and stir-fry for an additional 3-4 minutes. Vegetables should be hot and slightly cooked at this point – do not overcook.  Serve over brown rice.

And of course we must include dessert!  These cookies are delish with or without the chocolate.

Chocolate-Dipped Molasses Ginger Cookies

These cookies call for both fresh and powdered ginger, so they have a very distinct ginger flavor and provide an anti-inflammatory benefit.  If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can double the powdered ginger.

½ cup coconut oil or palm-fruit shortening,such as Spectrum brand
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup coconut sugar or white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1egg or egg replacer
3 tablespoons molasses
1½ cups The Pure Pantry Gluten-Free Organic All Purpose Baking Mix
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
½ cup good quality bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate for dipping

1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cream shortening with both sugars. Add vanilla and mix until
well blended. Add egg or egg replacer. Add molasses and blend well. Fold in baking mix,
and beat until combined. Add powdered ginger.

2.  Peel away the outer peel of a 1-inch piece of ginger and grate the flesh part with a ginger grater or the fine holes of a regular grater. Addfresh ginger to cookie mix and blend well.

3.  Place tablespoon-size balls of dough on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  If you want to be fancy, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with scalloped edge cookie cutter.

4.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Place waxed paper on baking sheet. Dip one side of cooled cookies into chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off.  Lay on waxed paper to dry.

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Top 10 Benefits of Organic Coconut Oil

Friday, May 13th, 2011

In my cookbook “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen” I often suggest using coconut oil as a butter substitute. Here is an article on the top 10 benefit of organic coconut oil – a wise choice for good health and wonderful baking results.

Top 10 Benefits of Organic Coconut Oil
(sourced from:

This might come as a surprise to you, but one of the smartest choices of good fat you can add to your diet is organic virgin coconut oil. Yes, coconut oil. Although it is a 90% saturated fat, organic coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that can improve your health in many ways. First of all, organic coconut oil is very stable to cook with because it withstands high temperatures without heat damage. If you switch your cooking oil to organic coconut oil, you can start improving your health right away.

What’s more, you can easily digest the MCFAs in coconut oil. So, it’s a lot easier on your system than other oils. Plus, these hard-working fatty acids are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored in your body as fat. Overall, MCFAs help to boost your metabolism, which is a great help to any weight loss program. Considered a functional food, organic coconut oil is now being recognized by the medical community as a powerful tool against immune system related diseases. Several studies have been done on its effectiveness in this area, and much research is currently underway concerning the incredible nutritional value of pure organic virgin coconut oil. Organic coconut oil is highly nutritious and contains a superior disease fighting fatty acid called lauric acid. It is also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The best kind to get is organic raw unprocessed extra virgin coconut oil. This will assure you that your product is unrefined, certified organic by USDA standards, and contains no added chemicals or genetically modified additives. [My favorite brands are from Artisana and Garden of Life because they’re sold in glass instead of plastic.]

You’ll also know your organic coconut oil is made only from fresh coconuts and is a solid at room temperature. The Philippines is the world’s largest exporter of organic coconut oil.

Used in tropical cultures as a nutritious diet staple for many centuries, organic coconut oil can help:

1. Keep You Healthy and Slim
You can help boost and regulate your metabolism to keep your weight under control with this wonder oil.

2. Support Your Immune System
Organic coconut oil is jam-packed with lauric acid, the immune supporting nutrient.

3. Promote Heart Health
Packed full of healthy fats that are good for your heart, organic coconut oil is a great addition to your daily diet.

4. Give You Instant Energy
Organic coconut oil can help you feel less fatigued and require less sleep by stimulating your metabolism. It can also enhance athletic performance.

5. Support Healthy Thyroid Function
Organic coconut oil helps to stimulate the activity and proper functioning of this important gland which provides energy, supports the health of your skin and metabolism, and keeps your moods in balance.

6. Help Keep Your Skin Youthful, Smooth & Healthy Looking
Using organic virgin coconut oil as a lotion will help improve your skin, hair, and nails due to its moisturizing and smoothing effects that also promote elasticity.

7. Increase Cell Regeneration
When your metabolic rate increases, your cell regeneration speeds up, too. This means that your body will more quickly replace old cells with newer, healthier cells.

8. Promote Anti-Viral, Anti-Fungal, and Anti-Bacterial Activity
Teeming with lauric acid, organic coconut oil possesses abundant natural agents that may reduce fungus, bacteria and the viruses that cause influenza, herpes, and other illnesses.

9. Improve Insulin Secretion
This helps to better utilize glucose to balance insulin output which can help relieve the symptoms and reduce the health risks associated with diabetes.

10. Protect Your Body from Disease
Organic coconut oil may help protect your body from cell damaging free radicals.

Harvard Study Shows Benefits of Whole grains in Avoiding Type II Diabetes

Monday, July 19th, 2010

A recent Harvard study supported by the National Institutes of Health showed that people who consume whole grains, including brown rice, have a lower risk of developing type II diabetes than those who eat white rice.  This discovery bodes well for those who are fans of The Pure Pantry products since our ingredient list includes brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and sorghum flours — all whole grain flours packed with nutritional benefits.

One problem often faced by gluten-free consumers is the lack of whole grains used in gluten-free products.   Often products’ main ingredients are white rice flour and sugar — two culprits in the development of type II diabetes.
Read more here

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