Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peppermint Bark

(Okay, I think I need a tutorial in food photography.  Or maybe a better camera!  Hmmmm.)

This treat has been a huge success and I am already on my second batch.  I have to say that any kind of chocolate + mint combination is heaven as far as I am concerned, so this stuff rocks.  Plus, it's relatively easy to make and doesn't require any baking, just some double-boiling action.

I guess I should also say that it isn't actually dairy-free so it doesn't fit perfectly with my oh-so-sacred food allergy list.  But it isn't sugar free either, so who's counting?

I got this particular recipe from Kate over at her blog which is one of my favorites to turn to when I need some ideas.  Take it away, Kate:

Layered Peppermint Bark 
by Kate Chan
2 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or chopped white almond bark
8 large candy canes, chopped/crushed
4 - 6 teaspoons shortening
4 teaspoons peppermint extract

  1. In a double boiler, or a metal bowl resting over hot water, melt dark chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons of the shortening and 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. Do not let the temperature rise above 98/100F or you will break the temper of the chocolate.
  2. Once melted, pour the chocolate onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet (that fits in your fridge). Smooth out the chocolate with a spatula to about 9 x 13″. Slide the cookie sheet into your fridge and allow the dark chocolate layer to cool/set for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once the dark chocolate is cooled, melt the white chocolate plus the remaining shortening (2 teaspoons) and extract (2 teaspoons). Once melted, pour over the top of the cooled dark chocolate. Working quickly - as it begins to melt the dark chocolate a bit - spread the white chocolate over the top of the dark chocolate base.
  4. Sprinkle the crushed peppermints over the warm white chocolate topping. You can press the peppermints in to the chocolate a bit to make sure they will stick. (Pressing the peppermints in to the chocolate may not be necessary.)
  5. Cool for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator or on the counter top for 1 hour or more.
  6. Score and cut into pieces. Store in an airtight container for 7 - 10 days (or until your family comes to help you eat them up!)
Happy holidays, safe travels, and warm wishes!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The List

That's right, this is the List with a capital "L".

Today was an outrageously snowy day in Seattle, unlike what we usually see here in December.  Most of my clients canceled for the day, so I fantasized about what I want to bake next.  Sweet potato cornbread?  Chocolate chip cookies?  (I'm still working on those brownies, so maybe the cookies will have to wait a bit).  This weekend I plan on making either peppermint bark or dark chocolate truffles, but I need to make a decision and a trip to the store before this happens.

I think I got a bit sidetracked there.  Back to the list...

A few weeks ago I finally took a food allergy test with my naturopath after many years of elimination diets, guesswork, and pure observation.  An elimination diet made it clear to me years ago that wheat and dairy and I didn't get along, but there were some foods I suspected I was reacting to, without much proof.

The test shows the level of allergy to a food ranging from "no reaction" to "high".  So, this is what I found:

Almonds.  These were actually reading off the charts, so I'd say my reaction to almonds is more of a High+.  This was one of those foods I suspected but had no idea it was so high.  Wow.

Moderate to High
Dairy.  Of the cow variety.  I knew this.
Eggs.  This I didn't know and I was sorely disappointed.  Going out to breakfast will be hard.
Yeast.  This includes both bakers yeast and brewers yeast.

Low to Moderate
Sugar cane.  This was closer to "moderate" than "low".
Cranberry.  I can live without this if I have to!
Wheat and wheat gluten.  I knew this and have been eating gluten-free for about 8 months now.
Spelt.  This was news!
Oyster.  Okay...

Peanut, pecan, soy, red tomato, garlic, lettuce, cauliflower, radish, white potato, goat dairy, and barley.

Not on the test, but I don't need one to tell me I react to...
Alcohol.  Yes, it's a sad reality.
Vitamin D.  Doctors are baffled by this, but I can't tolerate any food that has vit d added.  Think dairy, most brands of rice milk, etc.

Phew.  There it is.  Honestly, I am not going to abstain from everything in the "low" category, because really... come on.  I must still maintain my sanity as well!  Otherwise, I'll do my best to avoid everything in the low/moderate to high categories and then re-test in 6-8 months or so to see if it is different.

I'm my own science experiment.

The great news?  I show as having no reaction to chocolate, honey, coffee bean,  ALL meats (can you say carnivore?), all seafood, corn, coconut, oats, sesame, and walnuts.  Of course there are many other foods I didn't show any reaction to, but these make me really happy for various reasons.

Because really, you could probably win me over with sushi and dark chocolate.  So it's good to know these do well with me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Death by brownies

My friend Sara is trying to ruin me, I swear.  Ruin!

She brought me some amazing brownies the other day and declared they were gluten-free.  I thanked her and smiled, knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to eat them since gluten-free doesn't usually mean dairy and egg-free as well.  But I thought it was incredibly sweet of her, so I wasn't going to make a fuss about it.  After all, if I couldn't eat them I knew Elliot would be able to.

Later she told me that she has sisters with multiple food allergies, so she makes these brownies often.  As it turns out they are also dairy and egg-free!  And they are amazing.  So chocolatey.  Did I mention that I'm not allergic to chocolate?  No?  No, I still need to write out the whole list for you.  But seriously, chocolate and I can still be friends.  There is as god.  

I don't think any gluten, dairy, and egg loving person could complain about these brownies.  What's more is that they are made simply from a mix. 

Highly recommended for anyone looking for an awesome gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, cane sugar-free (it has beet sugar) brownie:

In fact, I am eating some right now.  Thanks, Sara!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prepare for lift-off

I really don't know how to start this blog.  I don't.  All I know is that sometime last week I found myself making a decision that I've been fighting for years now:

I am going to accept the fact that I am allergic to (intolerant of, really... but we'll get into that later) tons of foods and I'm even going to damn well enjoy it.

This is huge for me.  Most of you don't know me and don't know the slew of practitioners I've seen, the weekly doctor visits, the classes, the energy-workers, the diets, the "detoxing", the determination, and the tears.  I was sure.  I was so so sure that I was going to beat my body into submission and force it to learn to love all of these foods, vitamins, and drinks that it has been reacting to on a daily basis for as long as I can remember.  If only I could figure out the missing link, the auto-immune factor, or the endocrine issue that was causing this weakness.  I tried just about everything and still I couldn't figure out how to make my body change.  Well I have tried my darnedest and I think it's time for me to try the one thing I haven't tried yet.  

I'm going to live happily - even thrive - in a wheat, gluten, dairy, egg, sugar, alcohol, vitamin D, almond, oyster, and yeast free world.

So this is my new playground.

I love food.  I love cooking, baking, and sharing food.  Honestly, it's a relief to think I can finally let myself off the hook for a while.  Instead of trying to figure out how to fix myself all of the time I'm just going to explore all of the ways I can enjoy myself while I am here.