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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

December 17, 2020

Create Your Own Cookbook and Mr. Non-Compliant’s Favorite Vegetable

Those of us who attended the Zoom “Amazing Cookie Bake” had a delicious time baking our cookies. My cookie press was missing its piston—a critic

December 10, 2020

We’re Baking Cookies Together… Sort of

I’m baking cookies this coming Saturday morning, and I’d love for you to join me! Through the magic of ZOOM, we are all gathering to bake and soci

December 2, 2020

So, the Marshmallows Caught Fire…

Thanksgiving Day is but a faint memory, as we fast forward into Advent and the season of Christmas. It was quiet around the Slager home, until the mar

November 25, 2020

Cookies, Carrots, and Giving Thanks

Here it is November, and everything is still pretty weird. I find it hard to believe that we’ve almost blown through another year, even though it se

November 19, 2020

Are Bananas Good for You?

Bananas sometimes get a bad rap. The truth is, they have lots of redemptive qualities. They are among the most important food crops on the planet. Alt

November 12, 2020

What to Make for Dinner When the Power Goes Out

As I was writing this, my power went out. It wasn’t just a flicker. It was a full OUTAGE in our local area. Concerned that this could linger into th

I’m a Honey Fan

I am often asked about honey—if it’s healthier than sugar.

Honey does contain sugar. Per tablespoon, honey has 64 calories and 17g of sugar. That being the case, it will cause blood sugar to levels to increase. Good to be aware of, especially if diabetes is present.

Note: the American Heart Association’s Daily Added Sugar limit is 25 grams for women (about 6 teaspoons) and 36 grams for men (about 9 teaspoons). Added sugars are any form of sugar added to food. Honey counts as added sugar. Sorry.

Here’s the happy news: If you’re using a sweetener, honey is a better choice than sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It is still to be consumed in moderation.     

Commercial honey is typically pasteurized and comes from a blend of floral sources and has a mild taste and pale color. It’s the product we usually see on store shelves. The honey has been filtered and is very clear.

Pasteurized honey has been heated in order to destroy potential bacteria or yeasts. Unfortunately, the pasteurization process also destroys enzymes, trace nutrients, and antioxidants found naturally in honey.

In order to enjoy honey’s natural health benefits, look for raw or unpasteurized. Local raw honey (Any raw honey that is harvested nearby where the same sort of plants are blooming at roughly the same time can be considered local.) is beneficial for pollen allergies, has some healing properties (may help with sore throats, stomach flu), and has antiseptic properties when applied to wounds, burns, and other skin conditions.

Young kids are more prone to acute coughs because they’re still developing their immune systems. If your two-year-old develops a cough, give them honey. Mix a teaspoon or two into warm water and give it to your child to drink daily until the cough has gone away. Children under the age of 2 should not consume honey, as there could be bacteria present that could make them sick.

Some of you may be advocates of Manuka honey, a type of honey native to New Zealand. Its antibacterial properties are what set it apart from traditional honey. Manuka honey has been known to help treat a variety of ailments.  

I’m a honey fan. A drizzle over my plain Greek yogurt along with summer peaches is a delicious breakfast or snack.

Cheers to a bit of honey, the coming of summer, and “The Secret Life of Bees.”

Much love,
Carol

“We lived for honey. We swallowed a spoonful in the morning to wake us up and one at night to put us to sleep. We took it with every meal to calm the mind, give us stamina, and prevent fatal disease. We swabbed ourselves in it to disinfect cuts or heal chapped lips. It went in our baths, our skin cream, our raspberry tea and biscuits. Nothing was safe from honey…honey was the ambrosia of the gods and the shampoo of the goddesses.” ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Strawberry Crumble

  • 4 cups strawberries, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch or tapioca starch)     
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup

FOR THE CRUMBLE TOPPING

  • 1 cup almond meal/flour (or all-purpose flour or oat flour)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, toss together the strawberries, arrowroot, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Transfer to an 8” x 8” baking pan. Mix together the ingredients for the topping in a mixing bowl. Spread it over the strawberries as evenly as possible. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the strawberries are juicy and bubbly, and the topping is golden-brown.

You could substitute other fruits for the strawberries, depending on what’s in season.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe makes a delicious substitute for peanut butter cookies that avoids many of the common food allergens. And they’re vegan and gluten free.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups gluten free old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks, softened
  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Organic cane sugar (optional for pressing cookies before baking)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Earth Balance, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Add oats, almond flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Drop by teaspoonful or small cookie scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough flat. You may use the bottom of a glass dipped in cane sugar, if desired.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies barely start to crack at the top. Be careful not to overbake. Allow them to cool on the pan for at least 5 minutes before moving them so they don’t crumble and break. Store in an airtight container. I freeze them so they last longer. Makes about 3 dozen.

You could toss in some raisins and/or chocolate chips if you like more goodies in your cookies.

Nothing to Sneeze At: New theories explored to stem the growth of food allergies, intolerance in children

(The following article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. Online version)

Every morning while I got ready for school, mom would pack my lunch. Sometimes my main course was a salami, yellow mustard and sweet pepper sandwich on white Wonder bread. Other days, it was peanut butter, jelly and potato chips—only I added the chips in at lunchtime so they didn’t get soggy and because my sandwich style grossed out my mom. There was no way she would smash chips on a sandwich for her daughter then send her to school.

Interestingly enough, there was never a problem with the peanut butter causing a life-threatening situation for any other students. Most of my friends brought sandwiches made on Wonder bread too. We all managed to grow up unscathed. And this was in the 1960’s!         

So why is it that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies increased 50% between 1997 and 2011?

The main theory will probably surprise you, and here’s a clue: Think back to “War of the Worlds.” (I’ll share the answer at the end if you are stuck.) The most accepted theory is known as the “Hygiene Hypothesis.” Basically, we need to let kids play in the dirt. Infants need a certain level of microbe (bacteria, virus, mold, germ, etc.) exposure in order to regulate and strengthen their developing immune systems. Our obsession to kill every last germ with antibacterial products has come with higher rates of allergy, autoimmune disease, and asthma. We’ve lost the balance. Children who were raised on farms, have numerous siblings, had pets or spent early years in daycare, have lower rates of asthma and allergy.

Another theory is that parents have been told to wait until after a baby’s first birthday to introduce foods that could cause a reaction. Because of this, when the child tries a new food later in life, the immune system is primed and ready to get rid of anything that seems out of line. Eat a peanut, and boom! What experts have now determined is that these foods should be introduced before the first birthday, since that’s when the immune system learns the difference between safe and dangerous.

What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance? A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system recognizes a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms. Eating that food results in reproducible symptoms (an allergic reaction) that occur immediately (within a few hours) and with every exposure. Foods that cause allergic reactions are allergens. Typical symptoms include: hives, swelling, itching, difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, vomiting, low blood pressure (which can cause the person to pass out), anaphylaxis, and death.

The most common foods that account for over 90% of allergic reactions are: cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Food intolerances occur when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract doesn’t respond well to a specific food or an ingredient used to prepare the food. These responses are not always immediate nor are they always reproducible. Symptoms may include gas, bloating, heartburn, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, congestion and headache. Intolerances may occur if a specific enzyme is missing to help digest a food, such as with lactose intolerance. Other common food intolerances include wheat/gluten, food additives (found in processed foods), corn, soy, and monosodium glutamate or MSG.

Food allergies affect between 5 to 8% of all kids. If there is no family history of allergies, the odds are good the kids will escape them. Intolerances are more prevalent than food allergies and may be difficult to determine since they are unique to the individual. Based on this information, could it be that a child believes an allergy exists, when it may actually be food intolerance? This can be tricky!

Based on all these theories, some ideas that may help:

  • Stop trying to be so anti-bacteria.
  • Breastfeed through the first year.
  • Don’t introduce solid foods before baby is 17 weeks old.
  • Introduce a variety of foods before your child turns 1.
  • Limit packaged and processed foods.
  • Avoid using any lotion or topical product on baby’s inflamed skin containing peanut oil if there is a family history of peanut allergy.

Oh, and in “War of the Worlds,” the aliens died from a common human germ since they had never been exposed to it to develop immunity. They probably died from the common cold. To an alien who grew up in an entirely different and perhaps germ-free environment, there is nothing common about an Earthly cold.