Blueberry Bars

This recipe could be modified to use more standard ingredients, but as made, (trial one), it is gluten free, corn free, egg free, dairy free, and incorporates a number of healthy, nontypical ingredients, with some extra protein from almond meal.

Optional but healthy – fruit peel tea – could use boiling water instead.

Step one – make a batch of fruit peel tea – rough draft recipe/directions included towards the end of this document, before the reference section. (Foods & Phytonutrients that might benefit T-cells)

Dried fruit, soak in advance stage, takes the longest.

Add to one cup of the hot tea & let soak for about an hour, stirring occasionally – one cup dried blueberries, one cup almond meal.

Wet ingredients & the egg substitute

Add to one cup of the hot tea in a sauce pan & stir over low heat for a couple minutes – 3 tablespoons Gumbo File, 3 tablespoons Golden Flax meal; then add 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of Coconut oil, stir occasionally as the coconut oil melts and work it into the emulsified Gumbo File mixture; as it is mixed remove from the heat. Stir in 1 cup of coconut sugar or cane sugar, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla, 3 teaspoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

*or you could use 6 tablespoons Golden Flax meal, or 6 tablespoons Gumbo File, however they each have health benefits & slightly different emulsifying power and flavor.

Combining the wet ingredients

Once the dried blueberries and almond meal have absorbed most of the hot liquid, add the emulsified sugar mixture and 3/4 cup applesauce or a milk equivalent would also work. Mix it all together thoroughly.

Dry ingredients – mix and wait to add until the dried fruit is thoroughly soaked and combined with emulsifier.

  • 2 cups Gluten Free Flour mix – corn free – or 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca flour/starch (good source of resistant starch once cooked and chilled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda (Baking powder has corn starch so I don’t use it – and that is why there needs to be lemon juice or apple cider vinegar as an acid, to react with the Baking Soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, rounded

In a large enough bowl, combine the dry and wet ingredients together and stir thoroughly.

Pour the batter, (it should be fairly wet, but not as runny as a pancake batter, more like a wet cookie dough or muffin batter) into an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan – a large flat pan with sides. Bake in a preheated 350’F oven for about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan and cut into bars. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Resistant starch content is increased once a cooked starch is chilled. It is then still present even if the bars are served at room temperature. For best texture eat within a week or freeze some of the remaining bars.

Made ~ 48 bars, two or three would be a reasonable serving.

Revised recipe if it were more standard ingredients:

Soak 1 cup dried Blueberries and 1 cup Almond Meal in 1 cup of boiling water for about an hour.

Wet ingredients

  • 3 Eggs, whisk/fork mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Olive Oil, melted Coconut Oil or melted Butter
  • 1 cup Milk equivalent or Applesauce

Dry ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour or your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, rounded
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

Mix wet and dry ingredients together, spread into a cookie sheet with sides, or jelly roll pan. Bake in a preheated 350’F oven for approximately 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan, cut into 48 bars, store in air tight container in the refrigerator. It is a moist recipe compared to cookies and wouldn’t keep as long at room temperature. Use within about a week or freeze some to the extra.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Fennel Cookies – lightly licorice; and a Lime variation

Onward to new cookie horizons- 

Fennel Seed is served raw or toasted as crunchy after dinner snacks in India based cuisine. They are digestive aids and have a breath freshening effect. The flavor is similar to licorice with a hint of mint lingering after the initial stronger flavor. I eat a small pinch or two equal to a half teaspoon or a teaspoon after meals as I have found it good for my digestion. Health benefits may also include bone strengthening protection against osteoporosis.

I’ve found that some people have a problem with foods that are too crunchy. The raw or toasted seeds are very crunchy. They are also available at speciality spice shops as a ground powder so when shopping for more Gumbo File Powder I also bought ground Fennel Powder – and the results are delicious. I returned to the original cookie variation that uses Golden Flaxmeal and Coconut Oil because I wanted the Fennel flavor to be the main flavor. The pomegranate adds a tangy distinct fruit background flavor which works with the stronger chocolate or molasses but might overpower the licorice mint flavor of Fennel seeds.

Several of the ingredients in addition to the Fennel Seed Powder may help promote our own production of Nrf2 which helps us make our own anti-inflammatory and possibly anti-cancer chemicals in addition to containing other beneficial phytonutrients.

Fennel Cookies:

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flaxmeal
  • 10 Tablespoons boiling Water
  • Stir the Flaxmeal into the boiling water in a small bowl for a couple minutes until it thickens and turns opaque slightly. Then add the melted Coconut Oil and stir until it turns creamy white and opaque. Then add the Brown Sugar, Vanilla, and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry ingredients, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1/2 cup ground Fennel Seed Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Add the wet ingredients from the small bowl to the dry ingredients and stir gently until well mixed. The dough will be soft and sticky, moist enough to easily roll or spoon into small rounds. The batch makes two trays of 24 cookies about one inch around.

Coat the pans with a small amount of coconut oil or pan spray to prevent sticking. Bake at 350’F for 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pans from the top and bottom racks at 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, freezer or at room temperature. Chilling in the refrigerator or freezer will convert the Tapioca starch into a form that can become a healthier form in the digestive system (called resistant starch).

Fennel Cookies – these are so good, words are inadequate.

Lime Cookies

*I tried a variation of this recipe and decided I liked the first batch best but after a couple days the flavor blended better and was also pretty good. Dried lime powder or dried lemon powder are available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. I used two tablespoons of dried lime powder instead of the half teaspoon of vanilla. The flavir blended into the cookie better after a couple days so it might work better if it were added to the melted coconut oil in advance of mixing the cookie dough – melt the oil, mix in the dried lime powder, stir and let it sit for ten or twenty minutes while measuring the other ingredients and then add it to the emulsified Flaxmeal.

The fennel powder could be replaced with more of one of the other flours or the flavor blended well after couple days and both the lime and fennel have anti-inflammatory phytonutrients content – so give it a try eithet way and maybe both would be enjoyable.

Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health  care guidance.. Please seek an individual health care professional  individualized health care guidance.

 

 

 

Spicy Molasses Cookies- revisited

Sometimes it is fun to just try substitutions in recipes to see if it will work. I had most of the ingredients I would need for a batch of my Spicy Molasses Cookies-, see recipe here, towards the end of the page, section G8.4.2, https://effectivecare.info/g8-cookies-%26-bean-soup  but not everything. I was also curious with how pomegranate extract would effect the taste or texture. I had extra almond meal and coconut flour but no coconut oil so the experiment is also a trial run on an oil free version. The coconut flour and almond meal are oil/fat containing ingredients but they are dry so extra moisture was needed – quite a bit extra it turned out but it also turned into a double batch.

They are tangy with a slight fruit taste along with the strong molasses and spicy ginger and cardamom flavors. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron which makes the cookies more nutritious than typical cookies but can also make it better not to overeat – a half dozen is better than a dozen. Cookies are good and now I know that Gumbo File will work as an egg substitute if necessary. The cookies aren’t crumbly which is the risk if eggs are forgotten altogether but the Golden Flax Meal may have helped more with the leavening- supporting air bubbles but so many changes were made that more trial vetsions would be needed to see how the Gumbo File works in baking. It does have a little flavor and greenish color (ground Sassafras Leaves) which is not noticeable with the molasses. It might not be noticeable in a chocolate recipe either. Sassafras Leaves may have helpful phytonutrients in addition to the intestinal health friendly emulsifying mucilaginous fiber content. I used the ratio I’ve been using with Golden Flax Meal, but I only used as much as I would have put in a single batch so maybe doubling it would have helped them leaven better they stayed the same size as they were when I shaped the dough:

Roughly, meaning not exact measurements, this is a first draft batch, I included:

Dry ingredients, mix in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 2 cups Almond Meal
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder

Wet ingredients, heat gently stir in emulsifier and stir until thickened and then add molasses and brown sugar.

  • 1  1/2 cup Pomegranate Extract
  • 3 tablespoons Gumbo File Powder (traditionally used in Creole cooking, initially used by Native Americans, also known as Choctaw spice, link, it is an emulsifier though and I was out of ground golden flax meal which I’ve been using as an egg replacer. See below for more health information about Sassafras Leaves.)
  • 1 cup Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 rounded tablespoons minced Candied Ginger
  1. When mixing the emulsified sugar solution into the dry ingredients I wasn’t sure how much additional liquid would be needed without the coconut oil ingredient. I eventually mixed in about 2 cups of Pomegranate Juice plus one more 1/2 cup of plain water. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky rather than crumble.  The cookies took a little longer to bake and didn’t rise much/expand into a larger dome shape.

~~~~

Gumbo File is the Acadian name for a powdered preparation of dried Sassafras Leaves that was used by Native Americans and was commonly known as the Choctaw Spice. It was widely used for a portion of the U.S. history and became the second largest export with tobacco being the largest export crop in the 17th century. It became less popular in the 20th century when it was discovered that a chemical, safrole in the essential oil of the tree bark and sassafras root was cancerogenic. Gumbo File is still healthy though because it does not contain as much of the chemical. Beneficial nutrients include the terpenes, myrcene and linalool, which both have anti-inflammatory benefits and sedative (sleep inducing) effects and myracene may also help reduce pain (analgesic). It has been traditionally thought to be helpful to prevent kidney stones from forming, and it may be due to a diuretic effect. It also is thought to help reduce high blood pressure and relieve arthritis pain. [link]

The amount typically used in a soup or stew is far less than the amount I used in this cookie recipe as an egg replacer. Only a half teaspoon to a teaspoon tends to be added to a batch of soup, best added at the end of the cooking time, it thickens the broth slightly to a creamier texture but can become more gelatinous (slimy/shiny/sticky) if overcooked. The three tablespoons dissolved in a cup and a half of liquid made a gelatinous thickened mixture that was more of a thick gravy texture with a shiny, thicker in places texture. It mixed into the cookie dough easily though.

Tapioca starch also produces a shiny gelatinous effect in gravy or fruit sauces compared to corn starch. Once chilled it makes a ‘resistant starch’ [resistant starch, definitive guide] that is turned into other beneficial nutrients in our digestive system by some types of beneficial bacteria. I’m not sure if the Gumbo File starch is similar to tapioca starch in ‘resistant starch’ content.

Root beer is named after the sassafras root which was the traditional way the beverage was made. Now Root Beer that is still made with actual Sassafras Root uses root that has the safrole oil extracted. Sassafras root tea tastes like Root Beer. The ground dried leaves are described as tasting like the herbs thyme or savory, or slightly like Root Beer or eucalyptus. [link] I can confirm that the root makes a Root Beer flavor as I’ve tried a tea made with actual dug up in the forest Sassafras root. It was a tree commonly found in my backyard and surrounding woods as a child. The tree leaves are interesting as they have different shapes – a right and left mitten shape and a mitten with two thumbs and as a plain oval shape (Sassafras Leaves, images).

So cookies with an anti-inflammatory benefit – I did feel sleepy this afternoon after making them however and only added this interesting section on the health benefits of Gumbo File after waking up. – Note to self – do not eat these cookies while driving. Bedtime cookies – yum!

They may also have anti-cancer benefits due to the Sassafras plant being part of the cinnamomum/camphor plant family. Cinnamon phytonutrients include aldehydes which in addition to terpenes an other types of phytonutrients can promote the production of the NRF2 gene and protein which has many roles in the immune system including anti-cancer benefits. (“Cinnamomum – camphor plants (including cinnamon, Cinnamomum Kennedy, hairy leaves camphor, linalyl burmannii, sassafras) “” [0056] sassafras aboveground 5kg, pulverized and extracted…to obtain cinnamon plant extracts 412g, a yield of 8.24%” –  https://patents.google.com/patent/CN103520279B/en)

Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please see an individual  health care professional for individualized health care guidance.

Make the mission more important than the leader or followers

When is a goal more important than the personal success of a leader or teammates? When it is about long term success. Current business practice has become more focused on quarterly profits to please shareholders and board members and it has cut into spending for employee development and retention and for research and development in too many industries.

The simple message (paraphrased) “Make the mission more important than the leader or followers” was a main take home point in a book I just read. when a book is important I like to read it in one sitting as my memory works kind of like an e-book reader, I want to upload the entire file in one batch.

I recently saw a one-liner question along the lines of if you were on a deserted island what is the one book that you would want to have with you (also paraphrased). I thought at the time, tough question, and I didn’t have an answer. All the books that I’ve read across my lifetime are all still sloshing around somewhat in my memory bank so I’m never deserted. They are like good friends I can browse whenever I want. After uploading this latest one into my memory bank I came up with an answer – it wouldn’t be the one to have on the island, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations would be. I have a copy but I also have it bookmarked on my laptop. It gives favorite quotes or passages from many great works from earlier eras which can be memory triggers for the larger work or just set the imagination to work filling in whatever may be generated by the words of wisdom.

The latest book is slightly dated for a business world type book as its references are to the 90’s. The concept of faxing is included. Having also recently read some more dated books and long papers about economics written by economic theorists from the 1800s, (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English), and 1950s, 60s and 70s (fee.org)  I will just point out that it is very interesting to see social differences change across time. Women weren’t really mentioned much at all in relation to the business world in the older economic papers and the mention of female workers in the book from the 90s would likely no longer be included if the book was edited for today’s market. Women are mentioned as bosses occasionally but secretaries and receptionist references are always female throughout the book. A section on empathy offers the example that if your receptionist seems in a bad mood find out why before sharing the fisher-person and mer-person joke that you had in mind.  – My point – times have changed a lot and for the better overall.

Back to the main point – this book I just read is the most valuable I’ve ever read. I might not pack it for a deserted island but I will never forget it and it made me feel like I should finally right that Last Will and Testament that I’ve never bothered writing, just so that I can leave the book to someone. Now you, my dear reader, do not have to wait until I kick the bucket in order to find out if I left the book to you. You can just go to a resale shop and look for a used copy of your own. It includes a lot of quotations too including many I was not familiar with along with a discussion of humor and how to improve your own ability to tell a joke. The tone is kind and gentle, self deprecating humor or persuasion tactics are more powerful is also a take home point that we all might benefit from in our business or personal lives.

Secrets of Power Persuasion; Everything You’ll Ever Need to Get Anything You’ll Ever Want, by Roger Dawson, 1992, Prentice Hall. It has also been reissued in paperback or can be picked up used online barnesandnoble.com. The author gained his business experience in the real estate industry but went on to become a popular speaker and author on the topic of sales and negotiating. The book is written fairly open ended though rather than being directed only to salespeople or business executives. Examples include common parenting and relationship issues as well as sales and other negotiating issues a business person might run into and the tactics are useful for the buyer as well as the seller. No one wants to walk off the car lot with a car they didn’t want or a timeshare week in a vacation resort that they couldn’t afford.

The ideas for helping to learn other’s motivations can also be helpful for learning to recognize your own. One example has fast-forwarded into modern news –  “a Donald Trump” type person is paired opposite of “a Mother Theresa” type person as examples of people at the extremes of “self-centered versus externally centered” motivations. Recognize what motivates someone to help identify what might motivated them to make a purchase or other decision. The self-centered motivated individual looks at how things benefit themselves versus the externally motivated person looks at how things would benefit others:- “The self versus external sorting continuum” “Narcissists – Persuaded by how it affects them+ and  “Martyrs – Persuaded by how it affects others“. (page 154, Secrets of Power Persuasion)

Tips for working for a narcissist boss: (How to Work for a Narcissistic Boss, hbr.org)

It can be difficult to recognize that extreme narcissism is not typical behavior if you grew up with it in the family (Toxic Parents or Emotionally Immature parents) and for an empathy- external oriented person, it can lead to adult relationships that are at risk for not recognizing the need for safe boundaries against the self-oriented demands of a narcissist. (The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist, elephantjournal)

The techniques in the book include many strategies that I’ve read about in psychology and other business books, as well as many personal strategies of the author’s that may have been developed from other business strategists that I’m not familiar with or are clearly his own tips learned from his experiences. The style of teaching the material is easy to follow and has helpful summary point lists.

A sales pitch for the book, or self-deprecating humor example from the author’s past, is from the section on how-to-tips for remembering people’s names:

‘Similarly, there is no easy way to remember names. As my high school teacher used to say, “Don’t waste any time looking for an easier way to do this. If there were an easier way, Roger would’ve found it years ago.”‘ – Secrets of Power Persuasion, page 217.

Why would a dietitian care about power persuasion techniques? Because it is actually fairly difficult to try to encourage change in personal habits. The author includes as an example in one area his own weight loss plan which was effective for him. It is valid but time and additional research has modified one dietary point – focusing exclusively on cutting fat calories may not be as helpful as working to reduce simple carbohydrate calories as well, either from sugar or refined grains and white potato products. The more processed a food the quicker it can turn into blood sugar which can increase insulin which can increase fat storage which can be made from calories from fat, carbohydrates or alcohol, and as a double whammy, increased insulin levels can cause an increase in appetite leading to more eating.

Regarding something I saw recently regarding a weight loss fad – gluten free products as currently marketed are often based on very refined starches and are often lower in fiber and nutrients than a whole grain item. I do not recommend gluten free diets for anyone who is not gluten intolerant or for weight loss purposes. It is not an easy diet to follow for those who truly need to stringently exclude all gluten for autoimmune reasons and it is not a joke for them either. The problem can be life threatening and cause long term symptoms in digestion and in other areas of life. People with thyroid problems might benefit from trying gluten free diets as the protein chemically is similar in shape to the thyroid hormone and autoimmune thyroid problems may have something to due with autoimmune gluten reactions for some people. If interested seek a qualified nutritionist or Registered Dietitian to help create a balanced diet. I personally use whole grain rice, quinoa and amaranth and other gluten free whole grains rather than buy many commercially available gluten free products. In addition to being low fiber they often include corn which I have found also affects my own autoimmune symptoms.

So why would a dietitian care about persuasion tactics – because pomegranate peel is not on anyone’s menu plan – yet, that I know of, except for my own and I find it amazing. The blueberry juice did make it more palatable as a diluted beverage but adding a chaser of fennel seeds as a follow up snack helped even more. I tend to eat about a teaspoon of them after most meals now as they seem to help with digestion. After trying the pomegranate extract as a beverage when I made a fresh batch (I had stopped trying it in quantity as it is very acidic) I had a couple teaspoons worth of the fennel seeds after trying the blueberry/pomegranate mixture and it helped. Why would I bother trying it in quantity – because it has an amazing mood boosting effect and helps the numbness in my fingertips problem more when I use more of it rather than only a few spoonfuls added to my bowl of soup.

Pomegranate seeds and the fennel seeds are quite crunchy. I’ve had a couple people mention they can’t chew such crunchy things without pain – that may be a sign of inflammation throughout the body rather than tooth or jaw trouble. During the worst of my inflammatory years I also developed pain with chewing my favorite crunchy things like raw carrots, apples, and my favorite whole grain rice cakes which are more dense then the more commonly available type.

One learns by trying – a motto of mine from my childhood. I don’t know where I heard it or if I just made it my own slogan. Maybe it is a modification of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is one my mother would say.

The idea of making a Last Will and Testament to leave the book to someone is kind of a joke – the book cost me ten cents. The pomegranate peel extract probably cost me even less figuring people buy the fruit for the juicy seeds, but information has more value than dollars alone. In the recipe post I included a lot of detailed measurements about yield for food industry and dietitian type people to show the percentage that is currently being thrown away when instead it might be able to be made into a valuable health boosting product.

So what is the mission that is more important than the leader or followers – to me – effective health care that supports a more sustainable population. Whether you believe the Earth is 6000 years old or millions, the more important question currently seems to me whether we want humans and other species to still be around 6000 years from now.

The paraphrase I used in the title of this post is from the last chapter in the book (pp 276-289) and the example given is a story about a team that reached the top of Mount Everest – one team  member that is but the team rejoiced together via audio and the team got the credit – no one person is going to reach the top of most any mountain all by themselves. I haven’t climbed a mountain or seen Mount Everest but I have seen Mount McKinley and met a wonderful Japanese couple at the base. My family were camping near their camp and one night they invited us all to join them and my main memory from this childhood adventure was the dried seaweed they shared with us. It was like paper but you could eat it – I was enchanted. And all of us enjoyed the wild berries we could pick in the wilderness area. Our planet is a treasure worth far more than dollars.

A sustainable vision of a future Hawaii is described in an article suggesting we need more imagination to help guide us towards a peaceful and sustainable future: We Need Radical Imagination, Wake Up World.

Imagination is a critical part of creativity and innovation for any new product development whether in the area of healthcare and diet or sustainable agriculture and infrastructure.

A discussion of how leadership can help foster creativity in a team – a main point is to give it space to grow naturally rather than demands and time limits: How to Nourish Your Team’s Creativity. hbr.org

A book I mentioned in a recent post reinforces some of the concepts in Roger Dawson’s book but with more recent business examples:

For more information on thinking creatively and effectively working towards a better solution to difficult decisions rather than feeling forced to choose one of two less preferred choices I recommend the book Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin (2017, HBR) (hbr.org/Creating Great Choices)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.