Cookies are great but so are crackers

 

Poma Bread – not quite a cracker, a little like Pita Bread. This is the last few of try number two at making crackers.

 The Gumbo File works so well as an emulsifier in the Molasses or Chocolate Cookies that it likely would help hold a crumbly cracker together too. If and when I set up my kitchen again here is a draft version of the cookie recipe as a potential cracker recipe – the exact amount of water/soup stock that would be needed would need to be determined by the texture of the dough.

Crackers are rolled out and cut into shape or pressed very thin before being baked. Some leavening with baking soda is traditional in the popular white flour square “Soda” crackers that are served with soups or topped with sliced cheese or other toppings. The gluten protein found in wheat flour and a few other flours forms a fibrous fabric like structure in a kneaded bread dough or cracker dough. Gluten free baking requires some other type of fiber to help form the fabric like structure that traps bubbles of air from the baking soda leavening long enough to be baked into an airy crisp texture. Whether or not Gumbo File could help serve the purpose would be an experiment. Gluten free crackers tend to be crisp and flat with only some airiness depending on the type of ingredients used.

Try number two is the same basic recipe as follows except I didn’t use any coconut oil or extra water. For liquid and added oil content I used a 13.5 ounce can of Organic Coconut Milk – full fat version, creamy instead of watery, 14 grams fat/2 grams carbohydrate per 1/3 cup. Try number two was baked in an oven set at 375’F for 20-30 minutes, Switch pans from top to bottom rack at 20 minutes bake time. Let cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator – they have a taste and texture similar to Pita Bread except are more the size and shape of crackers. Gluten free baked goods tend to fall apart more easily than gluten products and don’t hold air from leavening as well. When I try the recipe again I will go with the shorter bake time rather than attempting to get a crisp dry cracker – the recipe is not producing that quality but does make a moist square flat bread that is good with hummus bean dip or peanut butter type spreads.

Basic Cracker recipe draft

*Try number one worked basically. I had less coconut flour on hand and made up the difference with more of the other flours to equal a similar amount and I added about 3/4-1 cup of coconut oil and 1 1/2 cups water to make a cookie like dough. Making a single batch with half the ingredients would be easier to shape. I pressed rounds of dough flat in extra almond meal and they puffed slightly but remained moist inside with a skillet cooking. A longer slower baking might make them more cracker like instead of like a moist flat bread. Extra water in the dough to make a thinner batter would likely work for pancakes.

– the use of cardamom is somewhat of a pepper replacement and whether I used it or some other savory seasonings could be modified for a variety of cracker flavors if the basic recipe worked.

Dry ingredients, stir together in a large bowl:

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

Emulsifier step- gently heat Pomegranate Extract or Juice to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat and stir in the Gumbo File Powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract or Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water (If Pomegranate Extract is not used then add 4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice later – when the rest of the liquid is added. Baking Soda requires an acidic ingredient in the recipe which Pomegranate Extract provides.)
  • 6 Tablespoons Gumbo File Powder

Wet ingredients – in a another large bowl combine the thickened warm emulsifier liquid with the Brown Sugar and then stir in half of the remaining juice. Reserve part of the juice to add to the dry ingredients after first mixing in the emulsifier/sugar mixture. (This method is more like making a cake than a cookie, you combine small amounts of the liquid at a time for a smooth cake batter that is not over-stirred. In a kneaded bread dough or traditional Soda Cracker recipe the goal is to fold the dough repeatedly in somewhat regular motions and directions in order to ‘weave the fabric’ of the gluten structure. In gluten free baking without gluten the fiber network is not as regular and gentle handling and folding might support some leavening air bubbles but the traditional kneaded structure is not really possible. The goal with cake batter is to gently support a more delicate sponge like texture for air bubbles without a tough fabric dough formation.)

  • 2 1/2 cups Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water
  • (4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice if Pomegranate Extract is not used)

The dough should be moist and able to be rolled or spooned into a sticky round shape that doesn’t crumble – a soft playdough-like consistency.

Sprinkle a counter top with some brown rice flour and roll the dough into a thin 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick sheet and cut into squares – or roll spoonfuls of dough into rounds and then flatten on a surface that is sprinkled with brown rice flour or sprayed with oil using a flat glass or plate. Place the crackers on a baking sheet that is covered with oil or sprinkled with brown rice flour. Brush the surface of the crackers with a lightly salted water mixture. Bake at 400’F for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans at a half way point, or until crispy.

Disclosure: This information is 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 for the purpose of individualized health care guidance.

 

Revisiting superstition from the perspective of economics

What do imaginary goods, virtual cats and superstition have to do with each other? – Economics. ‘Imaginary goods’ is a term used by an Austrian economic theorist from the 1800’s, Carl Menger, to describe goods that might be sold but which did not meet all the criteria of a ‘goods‘ – a thing of value which could be sold or purchased. Imaginary goods could also be sold but they did not meet all of his criteria for ‘goods‘ because their value was more transient – in the imagination of the buyer and/or seller rather than clearly apparent to any normal consumer of goods.  (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

As I’ve been working on devising ways to make pomegranate peel edible I’ve been thinking about the idea of a market or demand for a good versus the actual value of the good. You can’t sell something of value if no one considers it valuable even if it fits the criteria of being ‘goods‘ – fulfilling human needs; while it recently was brought to my attention, a refresher course having grown up in era of ‘Pet Rocks,” that some people will pay for anything if it is popular – if other people are bidding on the item too. I was astonished as a child that anyone would pay real money for a rock in a box just because it was called a ‘Pet Rock‘ – just go outside, find a rock, stick it in a box – there you go, your very own ‘pet rock’ captured from its wilderness and tamed for your own enjoyment. The current trend that was brought to my attention is less solid but requires an imagination – virtual cats, bred to have unique characteristics, the bidding is based on the uniqueness of the characteristics (investopedia.com) – my thought, too much time or too much money, and too little space for a real pet cat.

People need love and affection as it promotes oxytocin and dopamine which are hormones that promote positive feelings.

For those with limited room in their lives for an expensive virtual cat, consider going outside and looking for a wild rock to tame instead.

Bringing this back around to the New Year’s Day topic of good luck black-eyed peas and the following day’s topic of superstition – Carl Menger includes in his examples of imaginary goods items that might be considered good luck charms and also medications that aren’t effective.

Pomegranate peel might be effective but until there is proof that it is effective there might not be a market of consumers willing to pay for it let alone even try it. So Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel -> make it appetizing and if people also feel good after eating it then they will return for seconds -> thus creating a market that hadn’t previously been known.

Carl Menger’s four criteria for what makes something a consumer ‘good’:

“If a thing is to become a good, or in other words, if it is to
acquire goods-character, all four of the following prerequisites
must be simultaneously present:

  1. A human need.
  2. Such properties as render the thing capable of being brought
    into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need.
  3. Human knowledge of this causal connection.
  4. Command of the thing sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction
    of the need.” page 52 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

According to his theory something can lose its value as a consumer good if it stops fulfilling any one of those four criteria, to paraphrase – if we 1: stop needing it because the problem it solved no longer exists, 2: the thing no longer works to solve the original problem  3: we forget that the thing is useful for fulfilling the need, 4: the thing is no longer something humans have access to (the WiFi goes out and the virtual cat breeding stops functioning) :

“Hence a thing loses its goods-character: (1) if, owing to a
change in human needs, the particular needs disappear that the thing is capable of satisfying, (2) whenever the capacity of the
thing to be placed in a causal connection with the satisfaction of
human needs is lost as the result of a change in its own properties,
(3) if knowledge of the causal connection between the thing and
the satisfaction of human needs disappears, or (4) if men lose
command of it so completely that they can no longer apply it
directly to the satisfaction of their needs and have no means of
reestablishing their power to do so.” -pages 52-53 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

So for those who may have forgotten (reason #3), – caring for living people or pets can help one’s own health through increased oxytocin, dopamine and reduced oxidative stress. If owning a real pet is not possible due to housing issues visiting a local Humane Society type agency and volunteering to help care for the shelter animals is generally possible and appreciated. If money isn’t a problem hiring a human for a service that involves touch such as a manicure is helping others by providing money for jobs and providing oxidative stress reducing touch from the hands-on service. If owning a real pet or hiring human hands-on service isn’t possible than oxytocin, dopamine and possibly even reduction in oxidative stress may be provided by a caring relationship with a houseplant that cleans the air of toxins (ferns and other types), or by enjoying looking at art objects that have to do with nature or possible the touch of a smooth natural object such as a rock or crystal or wooden object.

While my search of oxidative stress and art didn’t turn up the link I was looking for it did find a review of research on male infertility, oxidative stress, antioxidants (vitamin E, C and CoQ10) and ART, assisted reproductive techniques, while it doesn’t mention iodine it’s worth saving for reference and smoking is mentioned as risk: http://ccf.org/reproductiveresearchcenter/docs/agradoc261.pdf

Smoking increases intake of formaldehyde as well as other toxins. There are also other common sources of formaldehyde in modern living environments. Tips for reducing risk of formaldehyde exposure and links for the houseplants that help detoxify indoor air from formaldehyde and other common volatile chemicals are included in an older post, Formaldehyde (volatile – chemicals that might be easily released from plastics or carpets into the air – ie “new car smell”).

The topic on nature and art and oxidative stress is discussed with links in the section Art – Food for the Eyes on another website, effectivecare.info, 10. food Helps Too.

Returning to the Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel,  – it is helping my mood and health more consistently than the 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds did but it is quite acidic. I’ve taken to using a couple spoonfuls in my bean soup instead of the lime juice or apple cider vinegar that I had been adding as a digestive aid. I’ve also tried it on salads in place of lime juice.

As a beverage I occasionally have the original blend of approximately 3 ounces of the pomegranate extract/soup stock with about 3 ounces of water and 1 ounce of cherry juice with four pinches of Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) to make it less acidic. Sugar is inflammatory in itself so I’v stopped using much of it. After the review of the blueberry/rhubarb jam recipe I bought some blueberries and will try a combination of the pomegranate extract with the less acidic fruit. Cherry juice is also acidic. Blueberry juice concentrate is available in specialty stores but I wasn’t at one.  The Baking Soda may be too much sodium or something in the pomegranate extract or the level of acidity it adds to the diet may have a diuretic effect like coffee – so like many things in life – it’s not perfect. But being sick isn’t either.

When you start thinking about food as fuel and as your body’s natural medicine cabinet then taste is something that can be acquired and adapted to suit the needs of health – but first the mind has to overpower the habit of “I always eat what my family ate, or what I got used to at college, or whatever my friends are eating.” Social settings and food are very strongly linked and it can be viewed as rude to refuse an offer of food that is being offered – sometimes life isn’t perfect either.

Good luck and best wishes all you Master Chefs out in virtual reader land – I know you can take on whatever culinary challenges you choose.

If at the beginning of 2017 someone predicted that I would successfully be using pomegranate peel, baker’s cocoa, cardamom, and leafy green herbs and vegetables instead of medical marijuana for my autoimmune health condition I might have thought they were imagining things – but Carl Menger was right we have to know the causal connection between a good and a problem it might solve before we go to the effort to purchase, prepare, and use the good for solving that problem/need (health care improvement in my case). pages 51-58, (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English).

A tastes better than it looks salad – Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Bring two and a half cups of water to a boil and add one cup quinoa (or amaranth or cracked wheat for a more traditional tabouli like salad). Cook for twenty minutes at a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the saucepan. Once the water is fully absorbed remove the pan from the heat and add about (all of the following ingredients are estimates except for the avocado- this is a first try) one tablespoon coconut oil and stir into the hot cooked cereal. Add about one cup of frozen or fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/4 cup pomegranate peel extract, one chopped ripe avocado, one tablespoon dried tarragon and one tablespoon dried basil (or more if fresh is available), and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Stir the mixture thoroughly. The cereal will turn purplish color from the blueberries. Serve a cup or so of the mixture over a plate of chopped salad greens and top with a pretty 1/8th cup of fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds.

I always add salt to taste at the table. We taste only the salt on the surface of food, not what has been cooked into a food or stirred into a mixture as much.

The flavors and textures work well together, sweet and tanginess from the fruit, creaminess from the avocado, quinoa and coconut oil. Tarragon adds flavor, the basil is milder and wasn’t noticeable in the amount I added here. Tarragon has a slightly minty flavor. The walnut is a stronger flavor and the crunch and flavor balance with the flavor of the blueberries and crunch of the pomegranate seeds. This was a success flavor and texture-wise no matter what it looks like and it would be nutritionally balanced with protein, essential fats and carbohydrates and plenty of fiber and trace nutrients and antioxidants. Walnuts and blueberries have both been found effective for cardiovascular health and male health issues.

Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad
Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

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.

Why care about thyroid cancer? It’s about iodine.

Or more importantly about the lack of iodine and the excess availability of bromide, fluoride and perchlorate – all halides – all chemically similar enough so that the body may build thyroid hormone with them if there is a deficiency of iodine. Bromide replaced iodine in baked goods some point in time around the 1950s as an anti-caking agent in flour. Fluoride was added to water supplies and to toothpaste around the same time. Both fluoride and bromide may be used in medicines to help make a natural product able to be patented as chemically unique. They also may increase the active life of a medicine if the combination can be made to be able to enter cells with a molecule of bromide or fluoride attached then it tends to stay there longer because the molecule of the halide is so big that it is difficult for the cell to excrete  – which may make accumulation to toxic levels more of a long-term risk.

Iodine deficiency makes the risk of radioactive iodine more of a risk but it makes the use of X-ray machines with radioactive iodine more effective. Or the radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid cancer treatment more effective (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27856930). I prefer health. Iodine deficiency can make hypothyroid symptoms more likely which may include depression, easy weight gain and a reduced sex drive.

Will we ever be allowed to discuss underlying natural causes of chronic illness and cancer or do we have to simply trust that prescription pads can cure everything no matter how high the cost to individuals or society – and the problem with that plan is they can’t cure everything and the side effects of cancer treatments can be severe and may include cognitive deficits – loss of thinking ability.

Do we as a people have to be ashamed of a desire for health or for a healthy sex drive or is it now the norm to expect looking good to not be associated with feeling good? Shaming women over wanting to feel better or to wonder why they’ve lost interest in life, let alone sexual relations, is something I’ve experienced as a patient. If the standard lab test for hypothyroidism shows the presence of thyroid hormone then any symptoms are ‘crazy’ – ask for an autoimmune antibody lab test to be done. Hypothyroid symptoms may occur during autoimmune hypothyroidism while the thyroid hormone lab test shows the presence of thyroid hormone. It may be present but if it is loaded with bromide, chloride or fluoride atoms then it may simply be adding to long term cancer risk instead of performing the normal functions of regulating metabolism. Feeling cold and having easily thinning hair are also symptoms of hypothyroidism. Constipation and being sensitive to gluten containing foods may also be associated problems with hypothyroidism.

Shaming patients has not been found to be effective at helping them in the area of drug or alcohol problems:

“The results add to a body of literature suggesting that widely used shaming and humiliating methods of treating alcohol and other drug problems — such as those seen on shows like Celebrity Rehab — are not only ineffective but also may be counterproductive.” (9.156)

Patients with problems with chronic obesity or overweight issues that are actually due to hypothyroidism may try very hard to lose weight and may exercise a lot and eat very little and still not lose weight or even gain it. A severe hypothyroid problem can make a person’s metabolic needs drop far below average. An average diet for a person is recommended to not go below 1200 calories per day. Someone with hypothyroidism may be eating 800 calories per day and still not be losing weight – are they shameful over-eaters? or are they starving for iodine? I vote the latter. But society tends to look at anyone who is overweight as someone who eats too much – no it might be someone whose body gains weight too easily.

It has been made clear to me that sexual health is not to be discussed unless it is regarding men’s sexual health. Women don’t sweat, they just glow, or something like that. If men want sexual health it seems like they would want healthy partners too. We really aren’t talking about men’s sexual health either though, just take a pill and don’t worry about potential underlying cardiovascular risks that may be associated with ED (Erectile Dysfunction – yes, actually we don’t talk about that much either.)

Babies come from under cabbage leaves still I guess. Unfortunately they need iodine too. Rhubarb is a good source of iodine so maybe start looking for babies under rhubarb leaves. Or maybe just eat more rhubarb because it would not only be providing iodine, it also has a phytonutrient, parietin, that has been shown to be effective against cancer cells. A concentrated amount of the parietin was used however: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/613194/Cancer-killing-drug-rhubarb-ready-within-years

Parietin is an orange pigment found in the rhubarb and in many types of lichen. I don’t happen to have an image of rhubarb handy but here’s some pretty lichen on a rock in a desert area:

Colorful lichen on a rock in the desert during early winter, with colored pieces of glass, found nearby.

The chemical left healthy cells unharmed which is unlike typical chemotherapy treatments. The parietin may be stopping cancer cell growth by blocking anaerobic metabolism – the burning of energy without oxygen. Our bodies preferentially use metabolic pathways that use oxygen (and cause oxidative stress as a byproduct). This article is longer and contains a list of many other beneficial phytonutrients and vitamins found in whole rhubarb. It contains antioxidants and a variety of beneficial things in addition to iodine:  https://www.naturalhealth365.com/rhubarb-cancer-enzyme-1820.html

While I don’t have a picture I do have a recipe for Blueberry Rhubarb Jam – the two fruits work well together in a sauce, cobbler, or jam because rhubarb is fairly tart – acidic, and blueberries are fairly mild – more alkaline. They balance each other nicely in this low sugar recipe: http://transcendingsquare.com/2012/07/21/blueberry-rhubarb-jam/

If you happen to have a patch of rhubarb or know someone who does you’ll know that when it is season there is lots and then it is out of season, the leaves get large and the usuable part – the celery like stalks become too large, less tender, less colorful and the parietin at least is in the colorful pinkish pigments on the exterior of the rhubarb leaf stalks.

A simpler recipe that I made to use up a lot of rhubarb all at once was a Rhubarb Ginger Sauce which I would freeze in batches which turned into a sorbet like frozen treat. I also would use the sauce thawed in baked goods as a substitution for part of the liquid in a recipe similar to substituting applesauce.

The recipe was roughly 12 cups of washed and chopped rhubarb stalks, about 1/2 inch long sections, simmered with 3 cups of sugar and an inch or two section of ginger root, peeled and minced fine. Some might prefer less ginger or no ginger, that amount made a fairly zingy sauce. The stalks make their own sauce as they simmer and the chunks become soft and lose their form. Simmer for about 20 minutes. I would need to try it again to check the recipe but that is the way I remember making it. Once frozen the sugary treat was easy to eat like a fruit sorbet rather than freezing into a more solid ice cube. The sugar content would be necessary for that effect, I think a sugar free sauce would freeze more solid.

So plan ahead, eat healthy now and prevent precancerous cells the natural way – with a healthy immune system and active metabolic rate. It is difficult to have a normal lifestyle let alone exercise regularly when the body is coasting on 800 calories a day due to hypothyroidism.

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.