Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday pumpkin-garbanzo bean flour pancakes

It seems like a cruel joke to have to be on the anti-candida diet over the holidays. Every time I turned around someone was bringing over a gift bag containing candy, cookies or other sugary treats. I appreciated the gesture while my husband appreciated the treats.

I survived Christmas without succumbing to temptation and going off my low-carb diet. Now, it's on to phase 2--New Year's. The holidays truly are a difficult time for anyone who is watching what they eat. Avoiding carbs, as well as certain food allergens, just adds new layers to the difficulty level. My approach is to always take food with me. That way I won't be tempted to stray from my eating plan. It's not as much fun but at least, it keeps me well as I continue to battle my problem with candida.

I don't expect to start a new holiday trend but healthy foods, low in carbs, can actually be delicious. For Christmas breakfast, I enjoyed some yummy Pumpkin-garbanzo bean flour pancakes. These gluten-free, egg-free pancakes can be eaten any morning but make an extra special breakfast for Christmas or New Year's. They also are super easy because you can bake them in the oven all at once and use less oil.

Pumpkin-Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancakes
(makes 8 medium-sized pancakes)

1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 cup pumpkin puree (You can use canned.)
2 T. canola or other healthy oil
In place of 1 egg: 1 T. flax mixed with 3 T. water to form a slurry
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1 1/2 cups water
Extra pumpkin puree
Pure stevia powder
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Add the pumpkin puree, oil and egg or egg replacer of your choice. At this point, the mixture will be thick. Begin adding water to thin the mixture to a consistency somewhere between pancake and muffin batter. I used about 1 1/2 cups. The batter will still be thicker than regular pancake batter because the garbanzo bean flour absorbs water. Set aside.

Spray a large cookie sheet with pan spray. A little oil may be placed on the pan if desired. Place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to heat the oil. Once heated, spoon the batter with a ladle or large spoon onto the pan. Leave a little room between pancakes because they will spread out slightly.

Bake the pancakes for about 10 minutes per side. Serve hot with a topping of pumpkin puree mixed with stevia powder to desired sweetness. Sprinkle a few toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quinoa cookies

I was doing some holiday baking this week when suddenly it occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to eat or even taste test any of the cookies I had baked. That's because of my lovely problem with candida, a fungus that lives in our bodies and feeds on carbohydrates. The higher the glycemic index, the more the candida thrive.

It suddenly became a challenge for me to come up with a cookie that I could eat and not go off the anti-candida diet. I decided to adapt a recipe for quinoa sunflower seed clusters that I posted in February, 2008. My ACD-friendly version turned out tasty and satisfied my desire for a cookie. The clusters are a healthy alternative to cookies, contain lots of protein, fiber, whole grains and good fats but they still have carbs. Which means I need to eat just one.

Their main drawback is that they are a bit crumbly but I thought, what the heck, I can use the crumbs for a topping on carob tofu pudding. The crumbly aspect could probably be solved by using eggs, which I am allergic to, or by replacing canola oil with coconut oil or using more tahini in the recipe. I will try using more tahini next time. Here's the recipe:

ACD-friendly Quinoa Sunflower Seed Clusters

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 T. chia seeds
1/8 cup stevia powder (I used SweetLeaf)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 T. canola oil
2 T. tahini butter
Egg replacer for 3 eggs made by mixing 3 T. ground flax with 9 T. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the quinoa. Then, transfer the quinoa to a large, rimmed cookie sheet. Bake, fluffing with a fork occasionally, until the quinoa is toasted and golden, about 30-35 minutes. Place in a bowl to cool.

Spread the quinoa flakes on a baking sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes in the oven. Watch carefully because the quinoa flakes toast quickly. Add the flakes to the bowl with the cooked quinoa.

Toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet for about 5-7 minutes. Add the seeds to the bowl with the quinoa mixture.

Mix in the other ingredients, including the flax and water. Spray several large cookie sheets with pan spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the sheet for each cluster. Flatten slightly. Bake, rotating, sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 25 minutes.

Allow the clusters to cool completely before transferring to a storage container. Remember they are a bit fragile compared to regular cookies. You might try using more tahini or coconut oil as mentioned earlier to solve the crumbly problem. They are yummy especially for those of us who need ACD-friendly treats. If you don't have a candida problem, refer to the original recipe at

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil

There's nothing like a snowy day to make me start craving hot chocolate, brownies and other assorted carbs but instead I'm munching on spaghetti squash. It's been snowing all day here, and carbs have been calling my name.

But I must ignore them because I am still battling candida. I've come a long way in six months but every time I start thinking I can have a few extra carbs, my symptoms start returning.

I also thought I could indulge in a little caffeine but then, I don't know how to indulge just a little. Once I opened the caffeine door, I just wanted some every day. Candida definitely thrives on caffeine. At least, so it seems based on what happens to me every time I get started drinking hot drinks with caffeine.

Anyhow, a plate of spahetti squash seemed like a sort of compromise today: some carbs, but not too much. I have a plentiful supply of spaghetti squash that I grew in my garden this summer. I have been holding off eating them because they fall into the winter squash category which should be added sparingly to your anti-candida diet. I also have basil growing indoors in my AeroGrow, a spacesaver hydroponic garden. Here's the recipe.

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil
(serves 2)


1 small spaghetti squash
1 tsp. olive oil
2-3 T. fresh basil, finely chopped. Or use other fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, oregano.
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down in a baking dish. Add some water to the bottom of the pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Remove the squash from the oven, uncover and allow to cool slightly. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Use a fork to pull out the squash strands and place in a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the squash, herbs, salt and pepper. Toss and heat. Serve as a side dish.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shrimp roll-ups in collard leaves

Six months have passed since I first began the anti-candida diet (ACD). My blog has morphed from lots of gluten-free deserts and breads to recipes featuring mostly veggies and low-fat protein. I wonder if I will ever get back to being able to eat chocolate (without cheating).

I think I have to admit that all my years of antibiotics, sugar-free sweeteners, diet pop and coffee addiction have made me an extreme candida case. I believe I am stuck with the ACD way of eating for the long haul.

Many of my symptoms have completely disappeared or at least abated since I began the candida diet. I am able to eat soy and many more vegetables than I could before. However, some things remain the same. My stomach continues to be a mystery with flare-ups for no apparent reasons. (Okay, I confess; mostly because of eating too many fats.) I still avoid gluten, eggs, nuts and dairy. I still have animals in my kitchen; my orange Dennis the Menace, Pumpkin, and Kona, my canine floor rug. Yes, she is always in the way, sprawled out on the floor, in the doorways, wherever I am.

Winter is the most challenging time for me as I crave carbs more than ever. That's right. I still crave carbs/sugar, even after all this time. I doubt if that will ever change. I'm just hardwired for sugar. I've tried to satisfy my cravings with fats, like pumpkin butter, sunbutter, soybutter, tahini, coconut butter and black tahini, but it's just not the same. Some people are fat-aholics and I'm a self-confessed carb-aholic. The only thing I've gotten from the fats is digestive troubles.

This coming week I'm going to once again reintroduce some whole grains into my diet. I'm really looking forward to a hot steaming bowl of gluten-free oatmeal. I've also discovered that collard leaves make great replacements for tortillas or pita breads for wraps. Until I made this discovery, I used to buy collard and the poor collard would end up pining away in the fridge. I'd look at the stuff and say, "What am I supposed to do with it?" Now, I know: make collard leaf shrimp roll-ups.

Shrimp Roll-ups in Collard Leaves
(Makes 3-4)

Large collard leaves with stems removed
1 tsp. grapeola or canola oil
Medium peeled shrimp, halved (about 10-12) Note: I get the precooked kind.
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
2 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. Bragg's amino acids


Chop and shred the veggies and set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until soft. Add the veggies and saute until tender crisp. Add the shrimp and cook until heated. Toss in the chopped green onions. Drizzle with Bragg's amino acids.

To make the roll-ups, trim the collard leaves off their stems. Scoot the shrimp-veggie mixture off to one side in the skillet. Drop in a few collard leaves and heat slightly. Place the appropriate amount of shrimp-veggie mixture on each one and roll them up. Serve with a salad for lunch or dinner.

Note: Collard leaves also can be used to make great hummus roll-ups. Do you have some other ideas? Please post a comment and share.