Mushroom Herb Turkey Meatloaf

It may seem ridiculous, but this is practically my signature dish. It’s the meal that always garners praise and seconds, even though at its heart it’s just a meatloaf. That said, what could be more satisfying?

Meatloaf is a great way to use gluten free bread because it often crumbles nicely. My version is a healthy take on a 1997 Gourmet recipe for Mushroom-Herb Meat Loaf Eich. Instead of using beef, veal, and bacon (which I’m sure is delicious) I use a pound of ground turkey and ¾ to 1 pound of mushrooms. I always purchase at least ¼ lb of dark meat to add some flavor.

pan full of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic

pan full of mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic

bowl full of ingredients

bowl full of ingredients

I also coat the meatloaf in habañero ketchup before baking instead of bacon. This adds another dimension of flavor without the heaviness of bacon grease. If you follow my lead, you may want to leave out the cayenne in the original recipe, unless you really love spice. I use Melinda’s Habanero Ketchup, which is available at New Seasons (a local chain) and also at World Market.  If you substitute olive oil for the butter this recipe is also dairy free, and you honestly won’t notice the difference. I cook the meatloaf for the shortest recommended time—50 minutes. Even if it cooks a little longer than it needs to the juices from the peppers, onions, and ketchup should keep it moist.

pre-roasted meat loaf

pre-roasted meat loaf

This is perfect with a side of mashed potatoes, but this time I went a little lighter and roasted some sweet potatoes. I slipped them in the oven before I prepped the ingredients for the meatloaf, and by the time the meat was ready for the oven the sweet potatoes were fully roasted.

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So satisfying! If you have a version of meat loaf that you keep coming back to, please share it in the comments!

Mushroom-Herb Meat Loaf Eich via Epicurious

Gourmet             September 1997

Food Day

Last Thursday, October 24th was National Food Day, a “celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, sustainable food.” In honor of Food Day I am sharing a few links related to sustainably produced food.

First off, find out how much you know by taking this Food Literacy Quiz. I definitely learned a few things!

One of the places I learned about food sustainability was at a discussion course through the Northwest Earth Institute. I highly recommend Menu for the Future as a great starting point for learning about the connections between food and sustainability.

Because of the way our food system works, many people are only familiar with one or two varieties of squash, apples, tomatoes, and other produce. One of the great things about embracing local ingredients is the chance to try varieties that you might love even more than the old-familiars. This guide to winter squash lists, with pictures, eight types of winter squash with descriptions of their texture and flavor, and a recipe for each. Having celiac, I love that spaghetti squash is a healthy, naturally gf alternative to pasta. Delicata is great for those who love squash, but dread the work they take to prepare. Find the squash that’s right for you (or your favorite recipe!)

Culinate offers a similar guide to mushrooms, another fall and winter favorite ingredient.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one recipe, so here it is: Caramelized Butternut Squash Wedges with a Sage Hazelnut Pesto. A friend made this for me when I was over for dinner last week. She used delicata and feta instead of butternut and ricotta, and has also swapped basil for the sage in the past. In other words, it’s versatile—so have fun with it!

More seasonally inspired recipes will be coming your way in the week ahead!

Autumn Minestrone

butternut squash

butternut squash

This is my partner, Ben’s, favorite soup. At the first appearance of delicata or buttnernut squash in the grocery store he asks me to make it. It’s full of vegetables but still brothy, and makes at least six hearty servings.

As written this recipe is vegan, and I’m sure it’s tasty that way. The first time I made it Ben looked at the recipe and asked me to add spicy Italian chicken sausage, and we’ve never gone back. I also top each bowl with a spoonful or two of grated Parmesan to add some saltiness to the final dish. And—I just can’t help myself—I substitute chicken broth for water. The soup really doesn’t cook for long, so whether you use vegetable or chicken stock, I would recommend this alteration.

This dish is also flexible. If you have extra kale you can throw it in and the soup can handle it. If you like other herbs and spices, like fennel or dried basil, give it a try—it’s hard to go wrong!

just before adding the broth

just before adding the broth

As for the preparation, I brown the sausage with the olive oil, onions, and celery. I add the garlic just during the last 30 seconds of sautéing. Then I toss all of the vegetables in and coat them with the olive oil and oregano before adding the chicken stock. From there I simmer until it’s time to add the kale and cannellini beans. This soup takes some prep, but the actual cooking time is less than 30 minutes. One set of helping hands in the kitchen before the pot hits the stove will dramatically decrease the workload. It keeps well and even tastes better the next day (like soup should.)

If you like to serve your soup with bread, I’ve found a gf olive loaf that I love with this. Otherwise, a bowlful on its own definitely makes a meal.

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Autumn Minestrone by The Moosewood Collective

Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special            October 2009

Portland’s Culinary Workshop

DSCN1264Last week I took my first cooking class at Portland’s Culinary Workshop. I signed up for their Healthy Cuisine class and it was such a great experience! Co-owner and chef Susana Holloway designed a menu that accommodated a variety of dietary needs, looked exciting, and tasted delicious. The (entirely gf) menu for the evening consisted of:

Bright beet dip with crackers

Steamed Salmon wrapped in Banana Leaf with Miso Glaze

Sautéed Gingery Pea Shoots

Roasted Root Vegetables with Cashew Cream

Coconut Butter “Pumpkin Pie”

A few years after culinary school, Susana went back for a degree in nutrition. Her passion for healthy food was immediately evident. At the start of class she told us that we would be focusing on nutrient rich, whole foods—not low fat, chemically altered substitutes. That’s when I knew I was in the right place. To me, eating healthy doesn’t mean counting calories, it means designing meals that provide a variety of nutrients, and includes healthy fats and natural sugars (in moderation.) Nuts, seeds, coconut, and natural oils were our sources of fats, and naturally sweet vegetables and fruits provided the sugars. We also focused on cooking methods that enhance flavor without diminishing nutrients, such as steaming and quick sautéing.

the owners' must-haves

the owners’ must-haves

Even though I’ve spent time cultivating my cooking skills, this class expanded my knowledge and taught me some new techniques. This was my first experience cooking with banana leaves and now the process of preparing banana leaves is something I could easily do again. The salmon was steamed in an orange miso glaze. If you’re like me, you avoid miso because it’s hard to know if it’s celiac-safe. Susana used a chickpea based miso that was both gluten and soy free.

salmon in orange miso glaze

salmon in orange miso glaze

after warming on an open flame, banana leaves become soft and pliable

after warming on an open flame, banana leaves become soft and pliable

It was also the first time I’ve made a nut-based cream. I roast root vegetables as a regular staple throughout the fall and winter, but the cashew cream makes this otherwise simple dish feel special. The best part is, there is no cream in the cream! The pre-soaked cashews blend into a rich, creamy texture without any dairy required. This is a very basic version, but in class we added some lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs that contrasted nicely with the earthiness of the vegetables.

My other favorite was the bright beet dip. The brightness was due in part to using raw beets. I am guilty of having held the assumption that beets really need to be cooked to rid them of their natural “dirt” flavor. Not so! Once peeled, chopped, and blended they were so delicious I could hardly get enough. Here’s a recipe that will give you an idea of how to transform raw beets into a bright, flavorful dip.

bright beet dip

bright beet dip

This class reinforced my belief that a lot of flavor comes from using fresh ingredients and a combination of herbs and spices. It was fun and I left feeling full, energized, and excited for my next cooking class at Portland’s Culinary Workshop.

Fennel and Onion Braised Pot Roast with Carrots

Portland is in the midst of perfect autumn weather. The days are bright, clear, and crisp. The air is chilly, but I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. To fully embrace the season, this week I made a pot roast. I don’t have a tried-and-true recipe that I always use for roast. In my opinion, if you cook it slowly enough, it’s almost guaranteed to be delicious. That said, when I’m making an old-fashioned standard I typically consult my Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It’s sort of the opposite of the healthy, gluten free blogs and cookbooks I look through nowadays, but I love it for just that reason. It gets me back to basics and reveals the fundamental aspects of a dish. Then when I go recipe hunting I keep in mind those two or three steps and ingredients that feel essential.

fennel and shallots simmering in wine

fennel and shallots simmering in wine

The variations on pot roast are endless, but I settled on this recipe because I love fennel and it uses a simple, one-pot approach. Braising fennel is my favorite preparation because it brings out the natural sweetness and manages to make this otherwise tough vegetable tender. I had a bunch of shallots leftover from another dish, so I substituted shallots for the onion. I also love parsnips and figured that adding one to the carrots couldn’t hurt. Other than those minor modifications, I followed the recipe and was very pleased with the results. This isn’t a fork-tender recipe; it’s meant to be sliced. If you want fork-tender just let it roast for another 30 minutes to an hour. If you want some of the carrots to stay a little firm you can add extra during the last hour of cooking. I serve mine with some Dijon mustard because the tanginess cuts through the richness of the meat. (A note on celiac and mustard: mustard seed is safe, but mustard flour is not. Be sure to check your mustard’s recipe label so you know it’s safe. Also, you can often substitute prepared mustards for mustard flour in recipes. It just takes a little creativity.)

before the oven and after the oven

before the oven

after the oven

after the oven

I paired this dish with simple mashed potatoes and a butternut squash puree, to use up some leftover butternut squash I had in the fridge. I would definitely make the puree again, and liked the seasonal element it added to this dish.  I also made a simple green salad, brightened with some watermelon radish.

salad with watermelon radish

salad with watermelon radish

This pot roast was my excuse to pull out my big, heavy, cast-iron pot and I fell in love with it all over again. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to invest in some cast-iron. I love my enameled Dutch oven, but with cast iron I don’t have to worry about maximum high temperatures. It’s durable, it distributes heat evenly, and it makes a darn good pot roast.

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Fennel and Onion Braised Pot Roast with Carrots by thirschfeld via http://food52.com/

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This dish has made it into my regular rotation. It feels hearty but healthy, so it’s a perfect meal to counter rich wintery recipes. When I first went gluten free, it was important to learn about the grains that I could include in my new diet. Lentils are rich in fiber and protein, so they are filling and perfect for a vegetarian main. The recipe calls for red lentils, which are definitely the best in this recipe. You can substitute other lentil varieties but they may take longer to cook. The recipe calls for blending the lentils after they cook. I’ve found this to be an optional stage—make the soup the consistency you like. Sometimes I blend about half of the soup, sometimes none. This step is more about preferred texture than flavor.

easier than a food processor: the ninja

easier than a food processor: the ninja

The author of this recipe, Heidi Swanson, recommends making the dish when you already have leftover rice on hand. This is a helpful recommendation, because although the dish isn’t complicated it does involve a lot of dishes. I often buy two bunches of spinach and cook a fresh batch each time I eat it. The recipe is definitely enough for four servings, and a second batch of spinach is easy enough to prepare. I rely on a tart, plain Greek yogurt and a wedge of lemon to incorporate into the final dish. That said, if you want to make this recipe vegan it’s as simple as omitting the yogurt topping.

mustard seeds, onions, and cilanrto

mustard seeds, onions, and cilanrto

I am also guilty of my usual—using heaping measurements for the spices and substituting vegetable broth for the water when cooking the lentils. If you do that, pay attention to the salt that you’re adding. It’s easy to go overboard if you’re not being careful. Lastly, don’t be shy with the lemon. It’s what gives this dish the extra tang and flavor that makes it stand out.

A word of gratitude to Heidi and her website, www.101cookbooks.com. This is one of the food blogs I follow on a regular basis. The recipes are inspiring, consistently delicious, and even when they are indulgent they are full of ingredients that are good for you. It’s easy to sort the recipe by ingredient, season, or dietary restriction, so if you are new to the world of healthy, nutritious food, I invite you to follow Heidi and her fabulous recipes.

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Red Lentil Soup with Lemon by Heidi Swanson

Via www.101cookbooks.com

The French Laundry

When I was diagnosed with celiac, my body was so run down that I was also diagnosed with sensitivities to dairy, sugar cane, garlic, blueberries, and eggs. Learning I would have to live without all of these foods for a year, on top of eliminating gluten permanently, left me at a loss. I called my mom, sobbing, and asked her in desperation, “What am I going to eat?” I wanted to be grateful that I finally had a way to feel better, but at 93 pounds I was so hungry.

At that point, learning to cook food that was healthy for me felt like a challenge, but eating out seemed all but impossible. What a journey that past six years have been! Two weeks ago my partner, Ben, and I got engaged. (Yay!) He said he wanted to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with another once-in-a-lifetime experience, and revealed that he had reservations for a celebratory dinner at The French Laundry. The French Laundry is a 3-star Michelin restaurant that was named “Best Restaurant in the World” twice (2003 & 2004.) It’s a seven-course meal, plus amuse-bouche and chocolates.

engaged!

engaged!

Here I was, celebrating a meaningful and wonderful life moment in a way I would never have imagined just a few years ago. It seemed like the French Laundry designed a menu just for me. For example, the amuse-bouche that evening was a salmon tartar served with a Gruyere pastry puff. Instead of the pastry, I was served a potato and black truffle dumpling.  It was rich and delicate at the same time, and a perfect accompaniment to the salmon. Course after course they brought out beautiful, delicious food. Sometimes the dish was a complete departure from the written menu, such as the beef I was served in lieu of squab.

garden at french laundry

garden at french laundry

I could try to describe each dish, (the fish I ate that night was the best thing I’ve ever tasted) but words will inevitably fail me. What I want to convey most of all is that a world-renowned chef, who loves and understands food to an incredible degree, fed me an unforgettable seven-course meal. There wasn’t a single bite where the alteration to my dish tasted like a sacrifice had been made. On top of that, Chef Thomas Keller had the confidence to design and prepare a menu of food I can eat, knowing that it would be up to his standard of perfection. I want to thank Ben, who knew how much it would mean to me to share this experience. And I want to thank The French Laundry for providing such a memorable celebration of our engagement.

map of the french laundry garden

map of the french laundry garden

I don’t have recipes to share in this post, but I can recommend the Topaz Late Harvest that was served with one of our dessert courses. It is available in 375 ml bottles (half-bottles), which is perfect for a dessert wine because a small glass is enough.

topaz

I promise more recipes to come in the week ahead. If you have a request for how I approach one of your favorite meals, let me know in the comments and I would be happy to blog about it!

My Body is Not My Enemy

One of the saddest aspects of living with a chronic illness was learning not to trust my body. When I would describe what I was going through to doctors, most listened only for symptoms, and my symptoms didn’t add up to a diagnosis. I could explain the things that would give me temporary relief, like scalding hot baths, and this seemed only to reinforce their belief that what was happening was psychological.

I didn’t really need doctors to disregard my experience; I was perfectly capable of turning my body into my enemy all on my own. The sicker I got, the more I resented having a body at all. It felt separate from me. More than separate—I felt divided into two. My body was sick, and “the rest of me” was trying to overcome the sickness to get better. I remember thinking that my body was keeping me from all the things I cared about—“it” made it necessary to quit my graduate program, “it” ruined dates with my then-boyfriend, “it” was vulnerable and weak, “it” was making me absolutely miserable. Even if stress was playing a part, I knew that what was happening to me had a physical, not emotional, root. That’s when I realized that in order to get better I was going to have to learn how to trust my body. My body and I are inseparable, and it was suffering, too. The pain was my body’s response to something, telling me to pay attention.

This shift in my perspective didn’t make me well, (after all, there truly was a physical cause of my illness) but it allowed me to notice small things that helped or hurt, even if I didn’t understand why. It gave me permission to rest more instead of resist the symptoms and deny what was happening. Listening to my body wasn’t going to heal me, but forgiving my body and accepting it as a lovable part of myself helped me see it as an ally. My body became my most reliable source for determining what was wrong and letting me know what it needed to heal.

The experience of illness and healing has indelibly changed my relationship with my physical self. I lived much of my life without a real awareness of how it felt to be in my body. I was aware of how my body looked, but I didn’t notice its strength, it’s limits, or its reactions to stress, exercise, and food. I didn’t feel gratitude for being able to breathe deeply, walk, swim, and eat chocolate. Now that I am well I live in a more embodied, more grateful way. My body is still my most reliable and trusted source for discerning what is good for me and what makes me sick. How I care for myself, physically and emotionally, largely impacts my enjoyment of life. This body is my only avenue for experiencing the world. So I listen to it, I trust it, and try to stay grateful for all of the amazing ways I get to live my life now that I’m healthy.