Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Start with MSPI Mama

I am so excited to introduce you to “Quick Start with MSPI Mama”!

I know how mind-numbing and awful those first few weeks on the MSPI diet can be for a mom. Trust me, I’ve been there. Not only are you dealing with the usual newborn baby problems of learning to nurse, crying, sleep deprivation and exhaustion, but you have the added issues of your baby’s MSPI symptoms, such as colicky behavior, reflux and even more sleep deprivation. And, oh yeah, you’re supposed to start a brand new diet that’s kind of complicated and filled with tons of label reading. You are literally petrified to eat ANYTHING because you don’t want your baby’s symptoms to get worse. Hello, rock bottom!

I get so many SOS emails from mamas begging for advice, and I honestly don’t know what to tell you other than: “Hang in there! You can do it!” Well, I’m hoping “Quick Start with MSPI Mama” will go a long way in helping you ladies.

In a nut shell, “Quick Start” is the MSPI diet for beginners. I’m going to start labeling any of my recipes (including previously posted recipes) that meet a few criteria:

  • Every ingredient is completely free of dairy and soy. Yup, that even includes soy oil and lecithin. There are lots of fresh, whole ingredients, and you’ll occasionally see canned ingredients.
  • None of the ingredients are “specialty ingredients.” In other words, there’s no rice milk, because that’s not something you see in your average kitchen.
  • And you won’t see anything labeled “MSPI-friendly.” All the ingredients in these recipes are naturally MSPI-friendly and you shouldn’t have any worries about using them. For example, you won’t see Worcestershire sauce listed in one of these recipes, even though it’s pretty easy to find Worcestershire that’s MSPI-friendly. 

Basically, I’m trying to make the MSPI diet as easy as possible. The idea is that once you’ve mastered the basics of the MSPI diet and label reading you can move on to my other recipes that have more “complicated” ingredients and start adapting your own recipes.

Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read labels. ALWAYS read labels! You have to familiarize yourself with the process. And this doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made, especially if you are completely avoiding soy oil and lecithin. They are sneaky little buggers! And cross-contamination is always possible. You are still ultimately responsible for the food you choose to eat, but I hope “Quick Start” will make the process a little bit easier.

And one other reason I’m doing this: It’ll come in handy when eating at other people’s homes or if they want to bring you a meal. You can send people to these Quick Start recipes when they ask, “What food can I make for you?”

Happy eating, ladies! Hang in there! You can do it! ;) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mustard Greens with Ham

My parents always had a big garden when I was a kid growing up in central Washington state. Even though we lived in town, our home was on a big lot, and we had the space for a huge garden. In fact, one time a small herd of cattle got loose and wandered into town. The farmer corralled them in our garden! Needless to say, my parents were not happy about all those veggies getting stomped and eaten by a bunch of cows!

Despite having some pretty decent gardening genes, my green thumb is pretty pitiful. I'm doing good just keeping my pots of herbs alive. And our yard was not made for a garden. It's hilly and shady. So in order to feed my need for homegrown veggies, I joined a local CSA here in Omaha.

I have loved the variety of vegetables. I've received some of the usual suspects: tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peaches, watermelon, strawberries, lettuce and cabbage. And I've also received a few unusual items: kohlrabi, garlic scapes, beets, rhubarb and a variety of greens. This recipe was made with some of those lovely greens!

Mustard Greens with Ham
Source: Slightly adapted from

1 tbsp. canola oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups MSPI-friendly chicken broth
2 lbs mustard greens, thoroughly washed, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 lb. smoked ham, chopped
2 tsp. MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
hot pepper sauce, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until onions are wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the mustard greens, a few handfuls at a time, adding more as the first batch wilts. Add ham and reduce heat to medium-low. Add Worcestershire sauce and a dash of hot pepper sauce. 

Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes longer. Taste and add more pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. 

Serve with cooked brown rice or MSPI-friendly corn bread. (Try this recipe for Corn in the USA Muffins.)

Tip: Pretty much any type of hearty greens can be used in this recipe. I often see kale and collard greens for sale at the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

To say "we've been busy" around our house is an understatement. It's been crazy. School started two weeks ago. Libby is in first grade, and JD started preschool. Egads! When did my kids get so big?!

At least I still have my baby girl, Caroline, to keep me company at home. So, yes, we've been busy trying to figure out the new schedule and what works best for us. Finally! Things are starting to even out, and I can get back to posting some recipes!

So here's a great little snack to give you and your kiddos some much-needed fuel in the middle of the day. JD will literally eat hummus with a spoon, but I prefer to eat it with homemade pita chips and fresh veggies.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Source: Cooking Light magazine

1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15 1/2-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add more salt, to taste.

Tip: For a smoother consistency, add a few tablespoons olive oil.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cherry Clafoutis

I know what you're thinking: "What the heck is a clafoutis?" Well, it's a little piece of heaven. (Yeah, I know that definition doesn't help.) According to the culinary arts glossary at, a clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-tee) is "a rustic French baked dessert made by baking cherries in a custard-like batter similar to pancake batter." It also makes a decadent addition to breakfast or brunch.

And like I said, it's a little piece of heaven.

The definitive recipe for clafoutis in the U.S. is, of course, Julia Child's version, but there are many others lurking out there. And you can make it with other types of fruit, such as peaches or grapes. But the cherries are divine. I recently purchased a cherry pitter, after years of wishing I had one. (I'm still kicking myself for not buying one when I worked at Williams-Sonoma. That employee discount was lovely ... and dangerous!) Definitely worth the money if you love cherries ... and I've had a love affair with cherries since I was a small child living in Washington state.

Cherry Clafoutis
Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp.salt
2 large eggs
4 tbsp. granulated white sugar, divided
3/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4-1 lb. fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1-2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. MSPI-friendly butter flavoring, optional
powdered sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the rack in the center of the oven. Wash the cherries, remove the stems and pits.

In your food processor or blender place the flour, salt, eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Process for about 45 - 60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl or jar as needed. Once the batter is completely smooth, let it rest while you prepare the fruit.

In a large 9- inch heavy oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat making sure the oil coats the bottom and sides of the pan. (The amount of oil will depend on whether your skillet is non-stick.) When the oil is heated, add the pitted cherries, and cook until the cherries have softened a bit and are coated with the oil, 2 - 3 minutes. If using butter flavoring, add that to the pan now. Then sprinkle the cherries with the sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved and turns into a syrup, 1 - 2 minutes.

Pour the batter over the cherries and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed, set and golden brown around the edges. Do not open the oven door until the end of the baking time or it may collapse. Allow to cool slightly, then slice and serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar. (I forgot to do this!) Also excellent served at room temperature. Store leftovers (if there are any!) in the refrigerator.

Tip: Despite the use of coconut milk in this recipe, the coconut flavor is barely detectable.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Red Cabbage Slaw

So I never thought I would live to see the day when my daughter Libby would actually ask me to make a dish that contains cabbage, but that day has come and I have this recipe to thank for it. It is such a simple coleslaw recipe, but it's different enough from your regular deli slaw that it's special.

And the fact it's purple doesn't hurt, either!

Red Cabbage Slaw
Source: Everyday Food

1/2 cup MSPI-friendly mayonnaise
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 small red cabbage, cored, quartered, and finely shredded
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise and vinegar. Add cabbage and apples; season with coarse salt and ground pepper, and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Tip: Depending on how sweet the apples are, you may want to add a pinch or two of sugar, if the slaw is too tart.