Monday, October 17, 2011

Fully Un-isolated

Congo is in the news this week!

Help is being sent for problems ongoing and seemingly unnoticed by the world at large for a decade. I'm infused with hope. This land I call my home frequently goes unnoticed.
I've heard it called lots of different names this week:

'Wild West'


Really people? Forgotten?
Maybe Congo is forgotten by some, but it is cherished by others.
She is the size of Western Europe! Forgotten?

She is certainly not forgotten, unnoticed or isolated from Him who spoke this breathtaking, wild country into existence.

He knows it all.

Every nook and cranny.

Every waterfall.

Every beautiful smile.

Congo is not isolated from God.

It is fully KNOWN.


Isn't that just where we are?
Rugged, wild ; feeling isolated and forgotten.
But we don't have to be defined by any of those words.
He sees us in our sin.
He pays for it "while we were still sinners",
knows us,
draws us in our ugliness near,
and loves us.

As Matthew Henry says, "No other such an instance of love is known."

That is as fully un-isolated as you can get.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recipe #6: Banana Pancakes

Cooking comes naturally to some people. I'm not one of them. When we lived out in the jungle (where it is definitely a WOMAN's job to cook), people were often puzzled that Kent would help in the cookhouse. We skirted the impropriety by explaining that Kent studied Biochemistry. He was just doing chemistry!

As newlyweds, I was in the informal-learned-from-my-husband school of culinary arts. Lately, I do 90% of the cooking with trusted faithful recipes and we all can smile. But every now and again, Kent likes to get in the kitchen, make a big mess and experiment. Did I say 'likes'? No, he LOVES to experiment. It must nourish his inner chemist.

My Congolese friends keep reminding me how good I have it. I do love that Kent enjoys cooking. While he tells funny stories about disastrous culinary inventions in college, nearly poisoning his innocent roommates; he rarely makes anything we don't all eat with joy. I should have given him the credit entirely for adapting Recipe #1: Chocolate Nut Butter Brownies. It was his experimentation that drove us to find something better than we started with. And it is his experimentation I bring you today. The real trouble is that this is all in his head, and not written down. I will attempt to codify this genius:

Recipe #6: Banana Pancakes
This was adapted from Elaine Gottschall's Peanut Butter Pancakes in her book Breaking the Vicious Cycle. We like the sweetness of adding banana to them.


1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy (or other nut butter - we just live in peanut-land)
2-3 Tbs. raw honey
8 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla essence, optional
3 ripe bananas, mashed or blended

This serves 4 people, we usually double this recipe and snack on leftovers.
We stick everything in the blender and fry small (4") pancakes on low-medium heat in oil or ghee. Because of the honey and banana, they will brown prematurely or burn if cooked on high heat. It means that you have to cook them a bit slower than 'normal' pancakes. If it is too thick you can thin it with water or your milk of choice.

These are not your white fluffy styrofoam McBreakfast pancakes, but they are so packed with protein that I can go hours without feeling hungry after eating just 3 small ones. We top them with aforementioned guava sauce, ghee, raw honey with mixed with water and maple flavoring, or fruit-only jam.

It's still not the same as our favorite granola, but they are grain-free.
Yummy healthiness!

This is the last of the week of SCD recipes to give you a feel for what we are eating, and what is helping all of us feel stronger and healthier. These and a few others have become family favorites that we will likely continue making even after we go 'off-diet' someday. James' birthday is coming up and almond banana cake with marshmallow frosting have been requested, flourless, sugar-free and grain-free. I'll post pictures!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recipe #5: Mapera (Guava Sauce)

I spent most of this weekend in bed with a colossal headache, trying to figure out if I should be taking malaria drugs or antibiotics for a sinus infection. Thankfully, I chose the latter and am finally surviving without high doses of Tylenol. So today I am kind of copping out on the recipe run... I don't know that fruit cooked with honey can officially be called a recipe...

But it's tasty stuff! We use guavas because we have a whole tree full of them in the backyard, but any fruit would work really. We've also tried pineapple. Pretty much ends up tasting like canned Dole Tidbits. We love this with mangoes!! Mango sauce is the only way I like them. Yum! Too bad mango season isn't here until December. Boo!

Recipe #5: Mapera (Guava Sauce)
Btw, this one does not come from a fabulous cooking blog. We just made it up.

1-2 gallons fruit (20-30 guavas in our case), washed and halved
2 cups filtered water
1 cup raw honey
1 Tbs. cinnamon

Wash and half all fruit into stock pot. Add water and simmer until soft. Run through an applesauce mill or food grinder if needed. Add honey and cinnamon. Put it piping hot into glass jars and hope they seal. Stick them in the fridge anyway just in case. (For me anyway. You have access to 'real' canning supplies, so you're probably good to leave them on the pantry shelf a while.) Serve cold over cakes, in yogurt, on toast, on fried fish, on pancakes, etc. Ooh pancakes! Tomorrow!

I'm so distractable at this late hour of 8:15pm... If you want to be distracted with me today: This makes me think, which kind of hurts. But then I read this and pray. Finally, this makes me rejoice.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe #4: Coconut Ice Cream

For those of you living in the land of grocery stores... this is a bit unnecessary. There are some beautiful coconut ice cream options made in Oregon by Coconut Bliss or So Delicious/Purely Decadent. If you can't afford them, can't find them, need to go sugar-free like us or are just one of those DIY foodies...

Our family tradition (at least overseas) is to make some form of 'ice cream' (stainless steel bowl full of something) in the freezer on Sat. and have it with snack foods for dinner and a movie Sunday nights. When starting this dairy-free, everything-free diet, my first two concerns were how will we do pizza night and what about 'ice cream'?!

I tried mashed white bean - honey ice cream. Blech. Then mashed fruit sorbet. Ok. But I LOVE coconut milk, so I was thrilled to find:

Recipe #4: Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Inspired by this tasty goodness over at Elana's Pantry, but for some reason James couldn't get into Coconut milk on its own without some fruit, and we usually forgo the raw eggs.

Ingredients: (I double this for our family)

1 can coconut milk
1 large (or 2 small) ripe bananas
1/4 cup raw honey
1 Tbs. vanilla essence
dash sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life dairy-free mini chips)

Blend bananas, honey, vanilla, and salt in the blender and then add the coconut milk later until no banana chunks remain. I add half the chocolate chips in the blender for a pulse or two just to chop some of them. Then I dump the whole thing in my metal freezer bowl. Two - four hours later I try to remember to come back and add the second half of the chips when things are mostly frozen. We don't have an ice cream maker, so it can freeze very solid. Good to leave on the counter for 10 minutes or more before breaking your ice cream scoop... So yummy!!

I have added mango sauce before and it was very good. Haven't yet tried warm jams or dried fruits... I hope soon to try adding cocoa powder and or peppermint extract... YUM!

It's never too late in the year for ice cream. I know I can't talk because I live in the tropics. But you can pair this with a warm ginger molasses cookie... a pumpkin spice latte... a piece of mocha coffee cake... I better stop before drooling on my keyboard.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recipe # 3: Flax Bread

Okay, so after 3 months without bread or grains, this bread tastes like dessert to us! We slather it with imported blackberry fruit-only jam. Joel likes it with honey or guava sauce poured over or sandwiched between. But they Joel likes most things, including baked perch topped with guava sauce. He says he's preparing to become a chef. I digress...

I found this recipe over at Adrienne's blog: Whole.New.Mom. She has her family on a similar diet for similar reasons, and has some great recipes! She says her family likes this bread with bean dip or hummus. Yum! We changed it up a bit and have not perfected it quite yet for our own use. The recipe makes a spongey thick 9 x 13 focaccia that would probably be better in two 9" squares or 3-4 loaf pans.

The flax seed meal will lose most of its beneficial properties within 3 days of grinding, so keep refrigerated if you have extra, or bought it as 'meal'. The less expensive option is to buy the seeds in bulk (either color) and grind them yourself! My blender can do this on high speed for about 1 min. per cup. To get the 2 cups of flax seed meal needed here, you'll want to grind just more than 1 3/4 cups of seeds.

I suppose we could call it fabulous flourless flax focaccia, but that's over the top. Hope you like this tasty way to get your Omega-3 oils!

Recipe #3: Flax Focaccia Bread
2 cups flax seed meal
1/2 cup almond flour*
2 Tbs. coconut flour*
1 Tbs. aluminum-free baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. raw honey
5 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup water*
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your pans (see note above). Whisk together dry ingredients (*we added almond and coconut flour last week in an attempt to decrease the cake-like texture and really liked it! We added a bit more water than the original 1/2 cup to compensate, fyi. They are optional.) Mix in wet ingredients until fully incorporated (no egg strings!). Now the strangest part: Turn off the mixer and leave the batter alone. It needs to sit and congeal for 2-3 minutes. It will start out looking watery and will soon spread like soft butter. Odd, huh? Spread it in your greased pan. Bake for 18 min. or until it springs back. Let cool. Cut in whatever shape you like!

It is a beautiful rich dark brown color. The opposite of white bread! Seriously! We've used a thin version for pizza crusts, we've made mini-sandwiches, we've smeared it with honey like a cornbread. It's still a bit egg-ey to my taste, but we'll keep changing it... There's 'our bread' for now!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recipe #2: 5-minute Chocolate Pudding

Originally inspired and adjusted from Alex's Raw Chocolate Pudding recipe on

5-minute Chocolate Pudding
(see Banana Pudding option below**)


1 large avocado (or 2 small ones), yes you read that right
1 ripe banana
1 cup coconut milk (or other milk)
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. honey (or other sugar if you must)
2 tsp. vanilla essence
dash sea salt
tiny dash stevia powder, optional*

*I started adding the stevia because I don't enjoy the sweetness of chocolate when made only with honey. The stevia, imho, gives it a little extra something that is better for cocoa than honey alone. I have a fruit-chocolate taboo, but I'm getting over it.

**If you want to avoid chocolate or cocoa for some reason, it is possible to make it Banana Pudding, in which case I recommend omitting cocoa and stevia and adding some cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Put everything in the blender. And blend. Really, that's it. Pour into 3-4 cups and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Or just eat it out of the blender... your call.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recipe #1: Nut Butter Brownies

Disclaimer: If you and yours eat a high-sugar diet (high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice, sugar, sucrose, maltose, etc. all count!) then these brownies may not seem 'sweet enough' for you. To us, they are delectable! Enjoy a whole foods treat!

RECIPE #1: Peanut Butter Brownies

This was adapted from Elaine Gottschall's original recipe published in her book 'Breaking the Vicious Cycle'. The original recipe is also found on the SCD website with a photo here.


1 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. sea salt
3 c. natural peanut butter (other nut butters would work too)
8 eggs, beaten
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/4 c. honey (we use raw)
2 Tbs. ghee (melted butter or oil would work too)
1 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
1 c. chocolate chips, optional (we use Enjoy Life dairy-free mini chips)

Preheat the oven to 300 (it's best baked slowly, you could try 250 even). Grease a large 9 x 13" or 2 square pans (we use ghee).

Combine cocoa powder and salt and set aside. Blend wet ingredients well in a mixer (or high-capacity blender like a Vita-Mix, just be gradual with the peanut butter). Add dry ingredients gradually. Add baking soda last (then chocolate chips if you like). Batter will be thick like most banana bread recipes.

Spoon batter into greased pan(s) and spread evenly. Bake 'low and slow'. The batter will 'puff' quite high and then fall in the center. Bake about 1 hour for chewy cakey brownies. Bake less if you like them gooey (until the 'jiggle' is gone in the center). Maybe 40 minutes, depending on your oven.

The added mashed bananas add sweetness and gooey-ness, which we like. You can skip them, but it won't seem very sweet and you might need a bit of extra sweetener. Sometimes we have used 2 drops of stevia powder for this.

If you are into a really cakey brownie, you could replace 1 c. peanut butter with some almond flour and coconut flour. But if you go to all that trouble, you should just try THIS over at my favorite sweet-tooth blog 'Gluten Free Fix'. Michelle is a professionally-trained pastry chef, now Mommy blogger, and fabulous SCD foodie.

What NOT to Eat

It is weird.
Yes, I'll admit it, 'the diet' our family is on is weird.
I sometimes feel like I am constantly explaining.

What can you eat? You really don't eat rice?
Are you sure you don't want a cookie?
Wow, that diet seems hard!

Aren't most truly good things also hard? Trying an 'autism' diet wasn't a big deal to me as someone who has altered her food for years to avoid allergic reactions. We also travel around the world for a living, which would be miserable if we only liked Cocoa Puffs or Wheat Thins. We're accustomed to eating foreign foods and other 'weird things'.

So we tried new things! We learned new recipes. Don't worry, we still eat brownies with the rest of them. They are just made without flour or sugar. We finally know what NOT to eat: No flour. No sugar. No grains. No potatoes. No noodles. No rice. If you or someone you love wants to invest time (realistically 1-2 years or more) to eat toward a stronger immune system, check out GAPS and SCD!

Here is more background about our choices, and some links if you actually want more information or need help getting to sleep in the middle of the night...

So what do we eat?? Over the next few posts I invite you to try a new recipe, if you're into that kind of thing, and 'eat along with us'! For the next 6 days I will post one recipe from this diet that we have come to love and have made recently. And who knows? Without all that flour and sugar, you might enjoy guilt-free seconds on brownies!