Monthly Archives: May 2011

Food Traditions at the Indy 500

This weekend holds a lot of significance. First, it is a time to honor veterans. We also welcome the summer season with barbecues and the return of white clothing. And we get to enjoy another tradition with the Indianapolis 500. The green flag at noon on Sunday marks the start of the car race’s 100th anniversary. Growing up, this race was always on our television during the Memorial Day weekend. The cars whizzed around the track while the sportscasters talked about how fast Andretti was moving or how long it took Rahal to change a tire in pit row.

Besides the traditions in my house, the Indy 500 is steeped in tradition, especially those involving food. A very popular food sold at the concession stands is a pork tenderloin sandwich. I wonder how many are sold, given that approximately 300,000 people attend this annual event? If you have yeast sensitivities, consider making your own by skipping the bun and substituting the breadcrumbs with crushed brown rice cereal or crackers. Click here for one version of the sandwich.

Domestic beer is another item that has very brisk sales among the visitors. Unlike most venues, spectators are allowed to bring their own alcoholic beverages as long as they are not in bottles because shattered glass is dangerous on the track. So people with sensitivities to yeast and sugar can bring their own beverages – perhaps some water, tea or whiskey.

Peanuts are considered to be bad luck at the race track because there is a legend that a crashed car was found to have peanut shells inside. This was good news for folks with peanut allergies until 2009 when the concession stands began selling them.

Another tradition, started in 1933, was the “milk tradition.” After that race, which was on a very hot day, winner Louie Meyer headed for his garage where he had a bottle of buttermilk in an icebox. As he drank, a photographer captured the moment and the next day the picture of Meyer drinking the milk was in the newspaper. Indiana dairy people thought it was wonderful publicity and since then there has always been a bottle waiting for the winner. If the winner was sensitive or intolerant to cow’s milk, perhaps the bottle could be switched with an alternative such as goat, soy, almond or rice milk.

Whether you spend a part of your Memorial Day weekend at a parade or barbecue, watching or attending the Indy 500, or doing something else special, I hope that you enjoy some foods that are delicious and of your own tradition.


Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter

I did not realize that there was a difference between browned and burned butter before attempting this recipe. However, browned butter without burning can be achieved! Just follow the instructions in this Cooking Light March 2011 recipe. There are only a handful of ingredients and very few steps. The only change I made was to use regular lemons rather than Meyer lemons because I could not find them at the store.

Neither sensitivehusband nor I was sure whether we would like the result because we have always felt a bit ambivalent toward this green stalk-like vegetable. We both agreed to broaden our horizons and accept the vegetable challenge since asparagus is in season this time of year. When we tasted the result, we both raved about it and made it a second time in the same week! If you liked my Brussels sprouts recipe from awhile back, you will really enjoy this asparagus. The recipe would also work well using oranges instead of lemons, and using other herbs to replace the thyme.

Speaking of liking things, please consider “liking” sensitiveeconomist on Facebook. As always, thanks for reading this blog and sharing your ideas. Have a nice day!

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

These muffins are superb! I got the idea from a Cooking Light, May 2011 recipe and made a few modifications to remove the cane sugar and boost the whole wheat flour. The result? A fabulous snack for any time of the day! Plus, now I know that I am a fan of chai, which is a blend of spices like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and pepper.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 chai blend tea bags, opened
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup low-fat buttermilk*
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
agave nectar, to taste

*combine 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let sit for five minutes; may be used as a substitute for the buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well. 
3. Combine buttermilk, maple syrup, butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
4. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
5. Drizzle agave nectar evenly over muffins.

Makes 12 delicious muffins.

I am also sharing my recipe on Muffin Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Sweet as Sugar Cookies and Facebook.

One Thousand Thank-Yous

The sensitiveeconomist blog achieved a milestone today with 1,000 page views! I thank all of you for taking the time to read this blog, to share your insights, and to provide feedback. As a result, you are supporting my journey and that of many others of managing food sensitivities, and I am grateful.

Thanks for sharing your ‘sensitive’ side!

A Delicious Birthday Cake

Yesterday was a really nice day. It was my birthday, and I had the opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. I received wonderful notes, cards, text messages, phone calls, presents and visits. I also enjoyed lunch and dinner out, which is quite an accomplishment for someone with food sensitivities!

I have found a trick that works well when going out to eat: I carry a list of my food sensitivities on a card that is in my wallet. When I order something, I show the card to my server who can check with the chef to make sure there are no ingredients in the meal that I cannot eat. It makes me more relaxed when I go out and the restaurant staff have always been accommodating. As a result, I enjoyed a delicious turkey club sandwich for lunch and a filet mignon for dinner!

A wonderful gift from my husband was the birthday cake he baked me! It was the first cake he ever made from scratch, and the first “sensitive” cake ever baked for me. He started with recipes for “Best Birthday Cake” and “Instant Fudge Frosting” – sounds good so far, right? He then converted the recipe to remove the cane sugar; the revised versions are below:

Best Birthday Cake Ingredients: 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising); 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened; 1 1/3 cups honey; 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract; 4 large eggs, at room temperature; 2 cups milk; 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cake Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and honey in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in milk and lemon juice until just combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated. Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Frost with Instant Fudge Frosting (see below).

Instant Fudge Frosting Ingredients: 6 ounces grain sweetened chocolate chips, melted and cooled; 1 3/4 cups honey; 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature; 6 tablespoons milk; 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Frosting Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.

The result? A sweet ending to a lovely day! As the saying goes, I had my cake and ate it too!

*This recipe is linked to Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (this cake is cane sugar free although it currently contains gluten), This Chick Cooks and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

*Join sensitiveeconomist on Facebook.

What’s the Beef About Grass-Fed Beef?

I have wonderful memories as a child and young adult where my dad would fire up the grill for the steaks and my mom would make baked potatoes and vegetables. If it was a warm day, we would eat our delicious dinners on the deck. Oh yum…I can almost smell the steaks right now!

My love affair with a tasty steak continues. I do not eat them nearly as often as I used to although they are still seen at happy events and occasions. I just like to celebrate with a filet, tenderloin or strip steak on my plate!

A few weeks ago, while perusing the meat counter at the natural foods store, I made a decision – to purchase some grass-fed beef.

What is grass-fed beef? According to the USDA, the cows only eat what is in the pasture. This contrasts with typical grain-fed beef, which starts at pasture for the first year and then moves to a feedlot for a diet of corn, soy, grains, supplements, hormones and antibiotics. Research from Cooking Light notes that grain-fed beef can get up to weight for slaughter up to one year faster then their grass-fed counterparts, which is a financial incentive for the farmers.

Is there a nutritional benefit to grass-fed beef? Sure. According to this Time article, 100% grass-fed meat is lower in saturated fats, slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids and higher in vitamins A and E.

So how does the grass-fed beef taste? When I made that first purchase, I got one package to eat fresh and one package to freeze for later. The fresh beef, which is shown in the picture above, was absolutely delicious. My husband seasoned the steaks with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and grilled them for a slightly shorter time than our usual grain-fed meat (because they were so lean). We both agreed that these steaks were much better than the usual ones. A couple of weeks later, we defrosted the frozen steaks and grilled them the same way. However, they were not quite fully defrosted, and in compensating we ended up overcooking them. Grass-fed beef is less forgiving to overcooking, so keep that in mind.

The cost is relatively high; I spent almost 50% more on the grass-fed meat. However, buying grass-fed is not just an economic decision – it can be an environmental or health decision too. Growing grass is easier on the environment than growing corn, and the decreased use of antibiotics and hormones are other reasons that people hand over more “green” for the grass-fed varieties. A less expensive per-pound alternative is to buy directly from a farm. Check out a listing of farms in you area at the website for the American Grassfed Association.

Will I buy more grass-fed beef? You bet! It is a wonderful treat.

Food Allergy Awareness Week

This week, May 8-14, is Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW). And while food allergies can be much more severe than food sensitivities, there is a common theme among the two, which is that people alter some of their food choices and habits in order to stay healthy and comfortable.

In recognition of FAAW, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has a special blog filled with great recipes, new research, and tips for staying safe with food allergies. The most common food allergies, according to the Network’s website, are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

If you or someone you know has food allergies, the Network’s website is a good resource for information and ideas to stay healthy. Have a good FAAW!

Peanut Butter Cups – A Holiday Treat

Contributed by: sensitivehusband

My wife, sensitiveeconomist, has food sensitivities that prevent her from eating most candies and confections.  I could tell she had a hankering for one of her favorite sweets from the old days–peanut butter cups.  As Easter approached this year, I decided to make some sensitive peanut butter cups as a surprise.  I based the recipe on one from a book that sensitiveeconomist often refers to: Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  I made a few modifications from the base recipe.  First, I used our favorite Woodstock Farms Organic Peanut Butter.  Then, since we haven’t been able to find graham crackers without cane sugar, I substituted Edward & Sons brown rice crackers.  They were a bit hard to crumble into the right consistency, so next time I might try the Erewhon brown rice cereal.  Finally, I used SunSpire grain-sweetened chocolate chips and milk.  I increased the total chocolate chip content a little beyond the 1 cup called for.  All in all, I think it was a successful first foray into the candy-making world.

This recipe is also being shared with Joy of Desserts.

Triple Nut Mix Cubed

A colleague of mine, and regular reader of this blog, shared a favorite recipe with me, of which I am now sharing with all of you. It’s called “Triple Nut Mix Cubed,” which is a great name for anyone who enjoys snacks and math! Here is the recipe that involves three types of nuts, three dried fruits and three cereals. I have modified it a bit so that it is “sensitive.”

Three types of nuts: such as peanuts, walnuts, and sliced almonds

Three dried fruits: including cherries (apple juice infused), raisins (unsweetened), and dates

Three cereals: such as brown rice cereal (Erewhon makes a good cane sugar free brand), millet rice that is fruit juice sweetened (Nature’s Path is a good brand), and granola (Udi’s Vanilla is my favorite and honey is the ingredient that makes it sweet)

Once you mix it up, enjoy plain or add milk for a great breakfast, or add yogurt for a healthy snack. This mix would also be a tasty salad topping!

The tricky task is to find cereal without cane sugar, so look for brands that are infused with fruit juice, have no sugar, or are sweetened with honey. The sweetness in this trail mix will come from the dried fruits and dates.

Thanks, BV, for sharing this great idea! If anyone else has a good trail mix idea, please reply to this post!

Reprise of Garlic and Shrimp Pasta and Brussels Sprouts in a Chicken Dinner

It is amazing how last night’s dinner can become tonight’s side dish, isn’t it? My husband and I like to put a little bit of time into planning what we will eat for dinner during the week so that we can enjoy delicious meals without too much hassle. Take for example, sauteed chicken – we like cooking these chicken tenderloins during the week because they are simple and quick. We cook them in a sauté pan over medium heat with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, parsley and Italian seasonings. In about 15 minutes they are ready to serve. The leftover Garlic and Shrimp Pasta and Brussels Sprouts make terrific accompaniments. For the next night’s dinner, pair the leftover chicken with a new side dish – perhaps the Couscous with Cherries and Almonds! The rotating dinner plan is one that works for us and hopefully for you too!