The San Francisco Gluten-Free Expo: A Review

gluten free expo

I went to the San Francisco Gluten-Allergen Free Expo yesterday (day 2 of the weekend long event). I love how there are resources out there for people living with celiac, dairy and gluten intolerances, nut allergies, etc. The event was well-organized and they integrated as many events, speakers, cooking demos and booths that they could handle in the space. They had booths representing support groups, a kids camp for celiacs – so awesome! However, I do have to get on my soap box for a sec, and preempt this speech with the fact that I didn’t attend any of the cooking demos, and was too late for some of the lectures: where was the healthy food? The booth landscape was dominated by crackers, cookies, bars, cake mixes, muffin mixes, food products, corn pastas, etc. I did see my friends at Purely Elizabeth (some of the best granola and muffin mixes I have ever had, and a fellow IIN grad), and Mary’s Gone Crackers, one of a handful of food products that I keep around the house. However, I would have loved to see a mock Farmer’s Market stand or something of the sort, showing off healthful fruits, vegetables and perhaps even grains, legumes, etc. Gluten-free shouldn’t mean nutrient-free or obesity-bound. I hope this gap is filled next year, but what a great resource nonetheless.

Unsure if you have food intolerances or allergies? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have dry or itchy skin?
  • Asthma, allergies or a hoarse voice?
  • Fatigue, chronic fatigue or cravings of salt?
  • Do you feel mentally sluggish or do you often have difficulty concentrating?
  • Gas, bloating, colitis, constipation or diarrhea often?
  • Muscle cramps?
  • Do you feel hungry after a large meal?

Email me regarding A SIMPLE CLEANSE, a food cleanse and detox program that I am leading with my colleague, Dr. Jennifer Strider, starting March 1st. If you want to identify for sure if you you can’t digest certain foods, check out the photos of some of the yummy concoctions we will be cooking on the cleanse and  ask me more about how to sign up!

Strawberry cashew date tart

Strawberry cashew date tart

Apple Salmon Salad with Kale and Pomme seeds

Apple Salmon Salad with Kale and Pomme seeds

 

Curried sweet potato soup with sprouts

Curried sweet potato soup with sprouts

 

 

Coconut Milk: Buy it, Make it, Love it…and Read This First

In lieu of visiting the San Francisco Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo this past weekend, I want to express my love of nut and coconut milks, as alternatives to dairy. I was recently asked about my favorite brand of coconut milk, and I thought I would write up my thoughts, including some research, for your enjoyment.

This is NOT expected of any of you, but I thought I would test the waters nonetheless. I make my own nut and coconut milks sometimes (when I have the time) because there are many additives found in commercial milks of this kind. Coconut milk is often found in cans, which leads us to the question of plastics. BPA (or bisphenol A.) is found in the lining of most cans or plastics that hold foods such as tomatoes/tomato sauce, beans and coconut milk, and the BPA has been found to have leeched into some of the foods that these cans hold (eg tomatoes and coconut milk). Other concerns when purchasing coconut or nut milks are the additives found in these beverages. For example, guar gum is a thickener that many commercial nut milks and coconut milks contain, along with other preservatives and sweeteners or flavorings; not all that bad in moderation, but I drink a lot of nut and coconut milk, as do many of you. I challenge you to simply try out your own production of  milk, to get back to it’s purest form, and perhaps shift between homemade and store bought. How cool would it be if you told someone you make your own coconut milk, without divulging the fact that it’s not that hard? There is also a GREAT article on BPA free products, eg tomato sauce, coconut milk, etc., found on Mark’s Daily Apple. Love this guy.

The Mayo Clinic has some interesting things to say about BPA, as well: “…the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has “some concern” about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. This level of concern is midway on its five-level scale, which ranges from serious to negligible. The Food and Drug Administration now shares this level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply by finding alternatives to BPA in food containers.” Red flag, folks.

I go back and forth between purchasing canned, Trader Joe’s brands of nut or coconut milk, and making my own (nut and coconut milks made at home have a shorter fridge shelf life – no preservatives – so drink a batch within 3-5 days).

coconut

Of course we would love if we could always get it fresh, like this.


HOMEMADE COCONUT MILK (EASY)

Purchase coconut cream (good choices can be found on my Amazon Wishlist) and blend with water to make coconut milk.
Purchase shredded coconut and follow the instructions below for making homemade coconut milk.


HOMEMADE COCONUT MILK (MORE INVOLVED)
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Heat water until hot, not boiling. Add coconut and water to blender (high speed or hand blenders are best). Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy. Pour through a colander or nut milk bags or cheese cloth to filter out the coconut pulp.

*To take it a step further, help balance your gut and add in some probiotic, those good bacteria to balance the bad! This Paleo Mom has done the dirty work for you. Embrace coconut milk, embrace nut milk, embrace whole foods!

Cilantro Coconut Butter

Before that large bunch of cilantro in your fridge goes to waste, use what’s left, after you have sprinkled it on top of your chili or chopped it up into your guacamole, for a chutney, dip or spread! I just tossed a bunch of stuff into my food processor:

cilantro chut

Dippin’ my chip

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • juice from half of a lime
  • generous pinch of large flaked sea salt (a friend gave me this Australian flake sea salt from the Murray River; amazing stuff. Super rich, you don’t need much). Mo – you rock my world.

Process away and it gives you a lovely chutney…or spread. My coconut oil hardened, so it’s more of a buttery texture now – but still super good! The sea salt really comes alive in this recipe. Use as you wish – get crazy, my fine foodie friends. I dipped some chips into it, or you might use it to mellow out spicier Indian food. A great way to balance out the spicy hot of any dish.

Cilantro may taste like soap to some, – I can totally see that – but those of you who favor the taste (I have always liked it), it can actually be healing. First of all, cilantro is the flowering leaf of the coriander plant (news to me!). To boot, the oils found in the leaves of cilantro may have antimicrobial properties – it’s super cleansing. It is also super phytonutrient dense, can aid in heavy metal cleansing, and may help prevent cardiovascular damage (more benefits can be found here). Make sure when you are purchasing it at the market that you give it a sniff – it looks a lot like parsley. And here are two other recipes I found out there, from Martha Stewart and EZCookBook.