Tortilla Espanola

Do you ever crave something simple? Something you can make with common kitchen staples…or make to use up the five-pound bag of red potatoes you bought pretty much because it was on sale?

Then this dish, my friends, is for you. Red potatoes are lower oxalate than many other kinds of potatoes. You can very easily cut the recipe in half, but it does refrigerate well and keeps for a few days. This recipe makes four servings. If you are having guests over for brunch, it would be the perfect thing to whip up (especially if everyone is sick of Thanksgiving leftovers).

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1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 4 small red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 onion, thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper (garlic powder is a nice addition)
8 large eggs
Suggested garnish: freshly cut chives

Preheat the broiler to high. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan. Add the potato and onion slices, season with salt and white pepper, and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the potatoes and onion are soft but not browned. This could take 10 minutes or a bit longer.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and season with salt and white pepper. Scrape the potato mixture into the bowl and mix gently with the eggs.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the mixture of eggs, potatoes and onions, spreading it out in an even layer. Cover and cook over low heat until the egg is set around the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes, until the top is just beginning to brown.

Set a large plate over the skillet and carefully invert the tortilla onto the plate. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from http://www.runnerskitchen.com/tag/tortilla-espanola/

Zucchini and roasted red pepper gratin

Zucchini is still available in this corner of the world, in spite of the cold weather. They sit, on sale, mocking me at the grocery store. Roasted zucchini and tomatoes go so well together, you see. I can’t really eat tomatoes anymore without some discomfort, and tomatoes are no good at this time of year anyway. Then I remember: I can make a version of Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini gratin WITHOUT tomatoes!

I use roasted red pepper, which I buy in a big jar, in place of the tomatoes. They add color and moisture to the dish. Since I don’t use minced garlic, I make sure to taste the rice mixture before putting in the eggs. Feel free to add a little extra seasoning if necessary.

w red_pepper_gratin

1/3 cup uncooked white rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound roasted red peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Table salt and white pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder (if tolerated)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice. While rice cooks, coat one large baking sheet with a tablespoon of olive oil (a bit less for smaller pans). Spread zucchini slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of white pepper. Roast the zucchini for 20 minutes. Flip zucchini halfway through.

Heat large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Taste bits of your dish to see if you have enough seasoning. Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of white pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it. Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then the roasted red pepper slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/07/zucchini-rice-gratin/

Pumpkin Parfait

wine_parfait

½ cup plain, low fat yogurt
2/3 cup blueberries
½ cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
2 tsp. vanilla extract, separated
Optional: two teaspoons honey or molasses or ¼ dropper of liquid stevia, blended into the yogurt or pumpkin

Measure out your yogurt and pumpkin into separate containers. Blend them each with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Alternate spoonfuls of yogurt, pumpkin, and blueberries in a wine glass or other clear glass. Serve immediately.

Fall is finally here! While the live oaks keep their color, the sweet gum trees and a few others have started to turn gorgeous. The wind is getting brisk…and I’ve been working on recipes like apple topping and mulled apple cider. Pumpkins are showing up in the supermarkets more frequently. You no longer get strange looks if you ask where the canned pumpkin is. I just had to make something pumpkin-y.

Pumpkin and parfaits were meant to be. The vanilla extract adds a sweetness and depth of flavor to both the yogurt and the pumpkin. Layered between lashings of blueberries, I found this sweet enough by itself. Feel free to add other flavors—cinnamon or cinnamon extract would be lovely, nutmeg, maybe even a hint of ginger or cardamom. If you enjoy grains, you could toast up some oats and sprinkle them on top. I would recommend eating such a creation quickly—the yogurt will get the oats soggy if you let it sit. As it stands, whether you use frozen or fresh blueberries, you can eat this immediately or prepare it the night before. Do expect a little purple effect if you use frozen blueberries overnight.

I like to serve mine in a wine glass, and you could very easily double the recipe.

Each serving has approximately 165 calories, 20 grams of sugar (mostly from the yogurt and blueberries), and 8 grams of protein.

Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake (Savory Dinner Recipe)

caulliflower_cake

1 medium cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds, 23 to 24 ounces or 650 to 700 grams)
1 large red or white onion, peeled
5 to 7 1/2 tablespoons (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
10 medium or 8 large eggs
Handful (3/4 ounce or 20 grams) basil, chiffonaded
Scant 1 1/2 cups (180 grams or 6.3 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground curcumin
2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese (200 grams or 7 3/4 ounces) or about 1 generous cup of grated Romano cheese
Salt and white pepper
Butter, for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) degrees. Break cauliflower into medium florets (this will cause less mess than chopping it). Place floret in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Halve your red onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan (consider reusing the one you cooked your cauliflower in) and sautee the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil. Whisk flour, baking powder, curcumin, cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (use 1 teaspoon if you are nervous about this amount) and several dashes of white pepper in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch (24cm) round springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides generously. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Before you serve the cake, be sure to run a knife around the pan.

Some of you may be wondering…why is there so much flour in a low oxalate recipe? Trust me; this cauliflower “cake” is so dense, one serving is pretty filling. Just be sure to serve it with some low oxalate sides, such as a nice salad made with Romaine lettuce and red peppers, or perhaps some peaches or cherries. I do wonder how you could make it with coconut flour…perhaps using a lot of flaxseed and reducing the amount of flour to ½ cup? I might experiment with it. Rice flour also sounds like a promising experiment.

To clarify, it is a savory dish. Unlike a quiche, the flour is folded directly into the egg mixture. The result is a pretty, tasty dish (though it did stick a bit to the pan). I would recommend using the springform pan. If you don’t have one, be sure to really grease your baking pan; it is a bit sticky. I got many, many servings out of this. It reheats well and makes for an ideal Sunday supper.

Adapted from: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/10/cauliflower-and-parmesan-cake/

Watermelon Popsicles

popsicle

4-5 cups of seedless watermelon chunks, separated
one tablespoon of agave nectar

Place the first half of the watermelon chunks into a blender. Tamp the chunks down with a spoon so they are closer to the blades of the blender. Get a medium-sized bowl ready. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the watermelon juice into the bowl. Use a spoon to push down any pulp into the bowl; throw away the seeds.
Take the second half of the watermelon chunks and blend them. Strain the juice and seeds into the same bowl. Then, pour the entire bowl of juice back into the blender. Add one tablespoon of agave nectar. Blend until combined.

Pour the juice into your popsicle mold. Freeze until solid, preferably overnight. Ice cube trays or Dixie cups with popsicle sticks make good improvised molds.

I admit, it’s a little late in the season to be posting popsicle recipes. But these are so easy and refreshing. Here in the South, there are going to be several weeks yet of warm weather, perfect for enjoying these on the porch. They are sweet, and a little drippy, and darn near perfect. What sweet, cold things do you find refreshing?

It’s kind of funny…I used to basically eat close to half a box of Popsicles in one go, before I started this journey. One just wouldn’t satisfy whatever craving I had. Now, I can happily gnaw one of these, emphasis on one. I hope they bring you a similar sense of satisfaction.

Also, the Dixie cup popsicles are insanely cute. I have a recipe for blueberry creamsicles I’ll have to share soon, and the sticks stand up straighter. The watermelon mixture is basically juice, so it’s hard to get them to stand upright. They look like little drunken desserts.

Naked Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowl

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1½ cups dry white rice
1 can of chickpeas or black-eyed peas, opened and rinsed
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 capsule curcumin
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
two tablespoons olive oil
eight ounces of goat cheese or other cheese, crumbled or shredded (may omit for a vegan burrito bowl, as pictured)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop the zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Toss the vegetables with 2 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp white pepper, ½ tsp oregano, and 1 curcumin capsule, opened. Spread the vegetables out over a large sheet pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring once half way through.

Combine the rice in a medium pot with ½ tsp garlic powder and
½ tsp salt.

Add 3 cups of water, place a lid on top, and bring up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit undisturbed until you’re ready to assemble the burrito bowls. Fluff the rice just before using.

Combine 1/3 cup of rice on a tortilla, add ¼ cup of chickpeas or black-eyed peas, ⅓ cup of the roasted vegetables, cheese to taste, and a handful of fresh cilantro leaves in a bowl.

Adapted from http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/09/roasted-vegetable-burritos/

If you tolerate more oxalate, you may make traditional burritos. I like this recipe because it’s relatively quick—you can get the rice going at the same time as the veggies, and then it’s simple to assemble the bowls. It makes several servings, too. You can put an individual portion in a freezer-safe container and freeze it, even with the cheese. Sadly, I was out of the delicious honeyed goat cheese I used the first time I made these, but the vegan version is just as filling! If you choose to use tortillas, those also freeze well.

But who needs a tortilla when you have these beautiful colors? Enjoy! (We’ll ignore the tortilla chips I baked; I’ll save that recipe for another post!)

Fiction Friday: Flash Fiction Contest Entry, “Charlotte”

Charlotte walked into the kitchen, her Mary Janes making crisp noises on the bare hardwood floor.

“All ready, Mom!” she chirped. Mom smiled, though Charlotte noticed her mom’s mouth twitched a bit.

“Good job, baby. Let’s brush that pretty hair of yours; I think we have a few minutes before the bus comes.”

Mom took Charlotte’s hand and walked into their bedroom. Charlotte sat down on the chair in front of the vanity. She looked in the mirror and smiled. Mom picked up the good hairbrush and began stroking Charlotte’s hair. This was one of Charlotte’s favorite parts of the day, feeling her mother’s sure fingers teasing out the occasional knot, humming as she stroked.

Charlotte watched Mom’s reflection pull out a long, blonde hair from the brush.
“I swear, Charlotte, your hair just gets prettier every day!”

Charlotte beamed, then turned towards the window. The windows were much smaller in their new house, and it had been hard getting used to going to school every day instead of staying with Mom and reading and going out to run errands. But she was starting to like her new classmates.

“Well, I guess that’s our cue,” Mom sighed. “Come on, baby, let’s get you out the door. I can pick you up after work today. Maybe we’ll come home and bake something.”

Charlotte hugged her mom around the waist. “Yeah! Bye, Mom!”

Mom pecked her cheek. “Be good. Be sure to keep your ankles crossed.”

Charlotte huffed. “Moooom!”

“Young lady, have a good day at school. You know the rules.”

Charlotte looked up at her mom. “Yes, ma’am.”

The rest of the morning passed quickly. Finally, it was snack time. Charlotte ate her ring cookies and sipped her apple juice. She needed to go to the bathroom, so she walked to the corner of the classroom. They shared it with the younger kindergartners next door.

Charlotte knocked on the door, squirming a little bit. Since no one was there, she opened the door and let herself in.

The toilet was little and lower than the one they had at home, and easier to use. Charlotte sighed in relief and situated herself, making sure to lock the door. She yanked her panties down and hiked up her dress; she REALLY needed to go. Charlotte plopped down on the toilet seat.

The door popped open. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” said Marcy. She was sometimes the playground helper and she was the classroom aide for the little kids next door. “Please excuse me, Charlotte…uh…“ Marcy trailed off.

Charlotte froze. “Please…please leave? My mom said you should always knock.”

“I’ll be right back.”

Charlotte heard a muffled voice through the door.

“What do you mean she has a penis? Do you realize we could get sued? Are you sure there isn’t some kind of mistake?”

Marcy’s hushed voice couldn’t be made out. Snippets came through…something about child projected services?

Charlotte sniffed and pulled her panties up, then walked out the door of the restroom.

Her teacher was waiting for her. Her lips were pressed into a thin line.

“We’re giving your mom a call, and then you’re going to go to a special meeting.”

Charlotte didn’t go home that night. During the meeting, Charlotte didn’t understand why her mom started screaming and crying. Charlotte’s face crumpled up when a police officer came and walked away with her mother.

“Shh, shh, it’s ok baby. You’re my perfect little girl. They’ll understand and this will all be over soon. We’ll bake something, we’ll make chocolates…it will be a regular candy factory when you come home.”

Before she knew it, Charlotte was at Walmart. They bought her an ugly striped shirt and shorts. The lady had to show her how to put them on. The lady wanted Charlotte to put the new underwear on, but Charlotte started whimpering.

The next few weeks were a blur of meeting with new people. A doctor, more meeting with the lady, who was something called a “case worker.” A special doctor, who said he worked with children and showed her puppets. She kind of liked the doctor; he let her play with dolls.

The new people she lived with were named Stan and Janet. They’d shown her to a new bed the first night. Everything smelled funny, none of the good wood polish smell like at home. There were no dolls or stuffed animals, only toy trucks and make-believe tools.

“Charlie, supper’s ready,” called Stan. Charlotte did not budge. “Dammit, boy, I SAID supper’s ready.”

Janet shushed him. “Charles? Sweetie? Come one, we have brownies for dessert!” Charlotte knew she wasn’t supposed to hear the next thing, but she’d gotten really good at listening.

“Stan, it’s not his fault his mother’s crazy. Raising a perfectly normal boy as a girl…my god. We have to set a good example; be easier on him.”

Stan grunted. Charlotte heard the jingle of his car keys. “Janet, I’ll eat later. The boy’s coming with me. Charles! Come here.”

Charlotte knew better than to disobey. She shuffled towards the kitchen. Her new sneakers were too big.

“Let’s go in the truck.”

Stan helped Charlotte climb up onto the big seat. He buckled her in. They drove down the road. Stan pulled into a cluster of small shops. One of them had a big red and white striped pole.

“Alright, son,” said Stan. “You’re not going to like it, but it’s time we did something with that hair.”

“Oh, Mommy used to cut my hair,” said Charlotte.

They walked in.

“This little boy needs a haircut very badly,” said Stan.

The barber raised an eyebrow. “I’d say so. Come on, then, get in the chair.”

Charlotte winced as the man put her hair into a ponytail. She heard a snick and watched, disbelievingly, as the man came away with a long rope of hair in his hand.
Charlotte looked in the mirror, and screamed as a stranger looked back at her.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

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3-4 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs, skin on
salt to taste
white pepper
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
one curcumin tablet (available here)
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract
3 cups chicken broth
10 drops of liquid stevia
¼ cup raisins
Two servings of cooked white rice

Optional: roasted red pepper and dried mint for garnish

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper the brown well on both sides for at least 5-8 minute per side; transfer to a plate.

Add in onions; sauté for about 5 minutes. Open the curcumin capsule and add the contents to the dish. Then add garlic powder and cinnamon extract; cook stirring with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute.

Stir in broth and liquid stevia; stir to combine.

Then add in the browned chicken; simmer covered for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes of cooking add in the raisins and continue to cook (uncovered) until the chicken is completely cooked through (about 15-20 minutes).

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Move the chicken to serving plates.

Add in the chickpeas and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with cooked rice.

Adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/moroccan-chicken-thighs-with-chickpeas-and-raisins-154133

I have always adored Middle Eastern meals. However, I’ve noticed that they incorporate lots of spices I can’t tolerate as well anymore, such as cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric. If you are not watching your oxalates, I would use a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of cumin.

I have made some simple adaptations to this dish. You can buy curcumin supplements, which are very easy to remove from the gelatin capsule and sprinkle on your dish. They are much lower in oxalate than cumin. It gives the dish a good bit of color, and can be used to make yellow rice, too, if you’d like. Curcumin is also an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

I cut back on the amount of raisins in the original recipe and substituted liquid stevia for honey, so it’s a bit less sugary. And it’s pretty good, too!

Three Healing Teas

Before switching to a low oxalate diet, I used to be an avid tea drinker. I loved black tea and green tea in particular. While there are several lower oxalate green teas, I can’t really tolerate them anymore. But I still crave tea. The ICN food list recommended chamomile and peppermint tea, which I really enjoyed. And Wendy L. Cohan’s excellent book, The Better Bladder Book, turned me on to something I had never tried: nettle tea. All three of these herbal teas are worth trying. Even if they don’t benefit your symptoms, they are a welcome change from water and milk.

Chamomile tea: Chamomile is a mild tea. It is made from chamomile flowers (shocking, right?) Some brands of this have other additives, but I prefer to use ones made with just the flowers, as lemongrass or other acidic things may cancel out some of the benefits. This tea pairs well with desserts, or you can even cook with it (see my recipe for chamomile-poached tilapia). I also like to make chamomile tea and dunk a few animal crackers in it. It makes up for no longer being able to binge on British biscuits and sugary black tea (which, while delicious, was not exactly healthy).

Chamomile tea may have a relaxing effect; it makes some people outright sleepy. It can soothe the bladder simply by relaxing it. While this may sound alarming, it means you may void your bladder less often. As long as you know it won’t make you too sleepy, I suggest drinking some before a long trip; it may cut down on pit stops on the road.

In the summer, try putting a bag of tea in a glass of water and keeping it in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or longer if you don’t mind a stronger flavor). You can do this with virtually any tea, but it’s particularly nice before bed. Remove the bag before enjoying it.

Nettle tea: If you respond well to antihistamines, nettle tea is the tea for you. It has a somewhat grassy taste. Nettle tea is an anti-inflammatory, so it may naturally soothe your bladder. It is also a natural antihistamine, except it won’t make you sleepy like Benadryl. However, it is a tea best enjoyed at home, as it may make you need to pee more often, at least temporarily. If you have a bladder infection, nettle tea may be an especially good choice, since it can help flush bacteria from your system more quickly. It doesn’t seem to have much of a diuretic effect on me, but be forewarned.

I especially enjoy nettle tea during allergy season. I find a hot cup of it soothing for my throat when I have had a lot of sinus drainage. I haven’t had the heart to try it cold.

Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea may or may not have specific properties that help the bladder. It helps some people; I personally find it doesn’t help my symptoms. However, it can definitely help an upset stomach, and many people find it relaxing and refreshing. It is good hot or cold. Do not drink peppermint tea if you are prone to heartburn or GERD.

If you are still craving caffeine, you might want to try rooibos tea, which is a red African bush tea. Bear in mind any caffeine has the potential to irritate your bladder, but many people have reported no effect on their symptoms. Drink up and enjoy!

Blueberry Breakfast Oats

breakfast oats

1/2 cup regular or quick oats
1 tblsp coconut oil, melted
2-3 drops liquid stevia
one handful of blueberries
Optional: one tablespoon whey or hemp protein powder

Mix the oats and coconut oil together. Make sure the coconut oil is melted all the way (5-10 seconds in the microwave is more than adequate). Add the liquid stevia and mix it in. Sprinkle blueberries on top and enjoy.

Sugar note: If you want to use regular sugar, use up to a teaspoon.

Low oxalate/gluten free note: If you are very sensitive to gluten, you might want to use oats officially labeled gluten free. However, please note that you may have to use fewer oats! Quaker Oats have less oxalate in them, but may contain gluten.

A half cup of Quaker Oats has a medium amount of oxalate. For those following the low oxalate diet, The Low Oxalate Cookbook by The VP Foundation recommends eating up to three servings a day of medium foods, and eating low oxalate foods the rest of the time. Alternatively, you can eat one serving of a high oxalate food, such as a serving of pizza, and eat low oxalate foods for the rest of the day.

I told you this recipe was simple! I make these on my way out the door. It’s especially convenient in the summer when the coconut oil is already sitting at room temperature. A little sweetness, a little crunch, and the fat from the coconut oil keeps you satisfied. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

I can stomach oatmeal, but there’s something about the mushiness of it I find off putting. But darn it, it’s convenient and a good source of roughage. This recipe gives you the health benefits of oatmeal with very little of the mush. It is perfectly safe to eat raw oats.

You can really vary this up a lot of ways. Add less than an ounce of walnuts or another low oxalate nut to it. In the fall, mix in some freshly pureed pumpkin. Cinnamon extract would also really brighten the taste, or you could sprinkle a few sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds on top…or even white chocolate chips! Feel free to use regular chocolate chips if you are not following the IC diet.