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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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October 21, 2021

The “No Diet” Approach to Health

As promised last week, I’ll present the last 5 principles of Intuitive Eating. In review, the first five are: Reject the Diet Mentality Honor Your H

October 14, 2021

Diets vs. Intuitive Eating

Diet: a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight; to eat sparingly or according to prescribed rules. (Merriam-Webs

October 7, 2021

This Weather is Making Me Tired

Some of us haven’t seen the sun in…well, days. There’s been so much rain that I’ve been looking around town to see if anyone is building an ar

September 30, 2021

Knocking Excuses Down for the Loss

If you’ve been reading my blog for the past year, you probably recall the weekly countdown to the birth of baby Angelos. We followed his size in the

September 23, 2021

Have Fun While Staying the Course

Yes, it truly is possible to do both. Many believe it’s an EITHER, OR situation. This past week I received the following text: “Down 1 pound 🙂

September 16, 2021

Celebrate September with Food

Now that we’ve gotten past the almost official end of summer, Labor Day weekend, thoughts of pumpkins and turkeys begin to dance in our heads. Not.

September 9, 2021

Pinky, the Ice Cream Truck

Last Sunday I was outside and heard the familiar sound of an ice cream truck in the neighborhood. I hadn’t seen one of these in…well, quite a long

September 2, 2021

Delicious Memories and a Recipe

I recently received a head of green cabbage as a gift. Now, I’m not one to buy cabbage, although I like it on occasion. Roasting it seemed like a go

August 26, 2021

Love Chocolate

The good news is that chocolate is actually healthy for us. The bad news is that we must be selective in the quality of chocolate we choose in order f

August 23, 2021

Chocolate Nut Clusters

1 cup bittersweet (at least 70% cacao) chocolate, chopped or wafers 1 cup raw almonds                                           

High-fiber, low-fat legume adds the flavor without the drawbacks of chocolate

(The following article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Online version

Most people I know are chocolate fans. Unfortunately, there are those who like the taste of chocolate, and it doesn’t like them. Allergies and sensitivities can bring on a variety of symptoms, such as headaches, stomach cramps, hives, to name a few. The caffeine present in chocolate can cause problems for some. Then there are those individuals with an unhealthy chocolate addiction that may be grateful for a bit of help.

Superfood carob to the rescue. An alternative to cocoa, carob comes from the pods of carob trees, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and cultivated elsewhere. Ripe pods contain a sweet pulp that is dried, roasted, then ground into a powder. It is classified as a legume.

Carob is less bitter than chocolate and has a roasted, naturally sweet flavor. The really good news is that there are numerous health benefits to consuming carob products.   

Health Benefits of Carob
High in insoluble fiber, so you stay fuller longer which may help you eat less and even lose weight. In addition, carob consumption helps decrease the amount of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) produced in the body, resulting in decreased appetite. High fiber foods are also helpful in controlling blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, preventing constipation, and contributing to overall gut health.

Provides calcium, an important mineral for bone health. Calcium also helps your heart, nerves, and muscles function well. Two tablespoons of carob powder contain 42mg of calcium, about 4% of the recommended daily value.

Does not contain oxalates, natural compounds found in chocolate and many other foods. Oxalates bind to calcium and are eliminated in the stool, therefore promoting calcium excretion. A diet high in oxalates increases your risk of developing kidney stones, especially if you have a history of this painful occurrence.

Good source of magnesium, iron, and potassium. Other minerals found in carob include copper, manganese, zinc, and selenium.

Rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Two of the main compounds, gallic acid and flavonoids, reduce oxidative stress, thereby helping the body ward off serious conditions linked to chronic inflammation such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.

Free of gluten and caffeine.

Rich in pectin and tannins, carob bean juice has been used to treat diarrhea.

Tyramine-free and considered safe to eat if you suffer from migraines. Foods that contain tyramine, like chocolate, may trigger migraine headaches.

Virtually no fat and no sodium. One cup of carob powder has 51 grams of sugar and less than 1 gram of fat. One cup of cocoa powder contains 1.5 grams of sugar and about 12 grams of fat. One cup of semisweet chocolate chips has 92 grams of sugar and 50 grams of fat. The choice is yours, depending on your individual health goals. Carob with its natural sugar, fiber, and protein, has a low glycemic index and does not spike blood sugar the way that chocolate does. You may find that you can add less sweetener to recipes when using carob in place of cocoa.

Fido and feline friendly. Carob does not contain high levels of theobromine, a compound found in chocolate that is toxic to dogs and cats in large quantities. Those dog treats you see in the pet stores that look good enough for us humans to eat are made with carob, not chocolate.

Use carob powder as you would cocoa. Some ideas:

  • Add to smoothies
  • Sprinkle on yogurt or ice cream
  • Add to your favorite quick bread or pancake batter
  • Make a hot carob drink in place of hot chocolate
  • Make a creamy carob pudding
  • Replace candy bars with carob bars
  • Brownies
  • Substitute carob chips in any recipe that calls for chocolate chips    

Carob can be used in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes that require chocolate or cocoa. If you’re not sure about the flavor, you might first try swapping half of your cocoa chips or cocoa powder with the carob chips or powder. Carob can be purchased in many of the same forms as cocoa products, including chips, powder, extract, and syrup. They can be found at health food stores, specialty stores, and online.

The FDA has approved carob for consumption and as an additive in food, medications, and cosmetics. Carob allergies are rare.

As you relax and enjoy your carob treats, remember to drop a few crumbs for the dog.

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Or are you waiting for the perfect time to…                            

…learn a new skill?

…write the book?

…eat better and feel great in your body?

We often think that the timing must be perfect for us to begin something. We’ll start eating better after the weekend. We’ll start moving when we find the right exercise program. We’ll start making healthier meals when we’re not so busy.

Someday. Tomorrow. Never.

I heard a really good song this week, “Getting Good,” sung by Lauren Alaina and Trisha Yearwood. It speaks of life getting good once I fall in love, get the money, buy the car, have the house. Finally, the realization: “Once I learn to soak up every moment, I’ll realize my life’s already good!”

Give it a listen. I think you’ll like it.

There is no perfect time to do what matters to you. Take the moment of now. It’s risky. Waiting allows you to avoid possible failure.

It also keeps you from living a full life. When is your life getting good?

Whatever you’ve been putting off, it’s time to start. Take some kind of action. Find out how you can begin learning that new skill and sign up.

Plan one meal you can make this weekend and get the necessary ingredients. Put on your sneakers and get moving.

You may feel some resistance. You may forget your grocery list or misplace those sneakers. Keep forging ahead.

It takes time to go from “start” to “habit.” Give yourself grace.

Put it in your calendar. Do what you can with the time you have, even if it feels imperfect. Make a plan and simply start. Get support if you aren’t able to get started on your own and feel stuck.

Here’s an idea to help you try something new. Join me on Zoom and we’ll make tomato pie together! (If you’ve got tomatoes, you can make this with me.) Today, August 27 from 11:00am to 12:30pm central. Send me an email to reserve your spot and get the Zoom link. It’s my summer gift to you.

Sending you love,
Carol

I’m thinking, once I learn to grow right where I’m planted, maybe that’s when life starts getting good.”—Emily Weisband

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This recipe yields two 9-inch pie crusts.

  • 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend (Namaste and King Arthur are brands I’ve used) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons butter, well chilled
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 8 to 10 Tablespoons ice cold water

In a large bowl combine the gluten free flour blend and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly and the particles are the size of small peas. (You could use a box grater to shred the butter into the flour or cut into small pieces, then mix using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers.) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the beaten egg. Gently work it in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Be gentle and work quickly to keep the dough as flaky as possible. Overworking your pie dough results in a tough crust.

Add the iced water to the center, one tablespoon at a time, working it in by hand until you have a moist, crumbly dough. The crumbles should stick when squeezed together. Gluten free crust should be made with more liquid than a traditional pie crust, or else it will become very dry.

Shape the dough into a large ball and cut in half. Place each half onto a sheet of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with a bit of gluten free flour blend. Form each half into a smooth disk. Sprinkle with more flour blend and cover with another piece of parchment.

Roll each disc between the parchment paper until it is 2 inches larger than the pie plate. Carefully peel off the top layer of parchment. Pick up the rolled pie crust by the under layer of parchment, center it over the pie plate, and quickly flip it over onto the plate. Carefully pull the bottom layer of parchment off the pie crust. If the crust breaks in a few spots, and it probably will (so don’t panic), pinch the dough back together in those spots.

Note: If you plan to have the dough sitting out in a ball while you are preparing the filling, keep it covered with a lightly dampened paper towel, as it tends to dry out quickly. Gluten free pie dough is fragile, so a little cracking when transferring it to the pie plate is normal.

 

It’s Tomato Time

As I was caring for my tomato plants, I had the memory of my father teaching me about cutting off the suckers–those shoots that show up between the main stalk and a branch. The purpose of removing them is so that they do not suck nutrients from the main plant, thereby giving you larger tomatoes.

One of the sucker branches was loaded with cherry tomatoes. I had to decide whether it should stay or go. Do I forfeit a nice yield for fewer, larger tomatoes?          

I ask the same questions now when it comes to my daily priorities. What shall I spend my limited time and energy on? What “suckers” would I be wise to eliminate? Great life questions…

Back to tomatoes! Now is the time to make tomato pie. I am of the opinion that homegrown tomatoes are a slice of heaven, here and now. If you’ve never experienced tomato pie with homegrown tomatoes, you have not yet fully lived.

I first learned about tomato pie from Laurie Colwin. Laurie was a novelist and short story writer who authored some great books about food. I love to read books about food, so she became my buddy and mentor, even though I never had the pleasure of meeting her.

For those of you who have dietary restrictions, you may alter this recipe in any way that suits you, with one exception—you must include tomatoes. I made it with a gluten-free crust, and it was delicious. I have even made it with…canned tomatoes, when one very cold winter, I was in desperate need of a summer fix. Making (and eating) this brings me great joy, along with an abundance of happy memories.

I am sharing Laurie’s recipe so that you may experience a bit more of summer abundance–and a slice of heaven. If by some remote chance tomato pie is not your thing, go for the traditional tomato sandwich-tomatoes, mayo, white bread. It too, is a winner.  

 

TOMATO PIE

The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Approximately 3/4 cup milk

Blend by hand or food processor. I like to use a pastry blender, since I once over- processed my pie dough and had to start over. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it.

Pie ingredients:

  • 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes or 2×28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained
  • Basil, chives, or scallions, depending on availability and your mood
  • 1 and ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Slice the tomatoes thin and lay the slices over the crust. Scatter them with your chosen seasoning and sprinkle one cup of the cheese on top of the tomatoes. Over this, drizzle the mayonnaise that has been thinned with the lemon juice. Top this with the rest of the grated cheese. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degrees F. for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the crust is golden. The secret of this pie is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. It can be made early in the morning, then reheated in the evening at 350 degrees F. until hot.

Recipe taken from More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen.  

Sending you tomato love,
Carol

 P.S. Join me on Zoom and we’ll make tomato pie together! Thursday, August 27 from 11:00am to 12:30pm. Send me an email to reserve your spot! It’s my summer gift to you.

“It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup of coffee.” – Laurie Colwin