5 Benefits to Cooking with Cast Iron Pans – The Original Nonstick Pans

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No recipes tonight, folks. Actually I made some delicious stir-fry, but I have to make a few minor tweaks to the recipe next time I make it before it is post-worthy. The carrot-to-broccoli ratio was slightly off. Instead, I’d like to mention a few words about one of my favorite kitchen loves: the beloved cast iron skillet. I have spoken to many a person who dislikes cooking with cast iron. Why? It’s heavy and you can’t put it in the dishwasher. These things are true, but I believe once you realize all the benefits to cooking with one and get into the habit, you will not be able to live without it. So here we go:

1. Even heat distribution

Cast iron is great because when you start heating it up, the heat distributes evenly across the entire surface of the pan. You might need grip cover for the handle; however, your meats will turn out perfectly seared. You can achieve perfect temperatures for frying in oil (which you shouldn’t be doing too often, you know). If you have a gas stove, even better – you can get even better temperature control and heat distribution with fire instead of electric. You can take the thing camping and use it over the camp fire. They even have cast iron dutch ovens and pots you can make stews and soups in over a wood burning fireplace. You basically never have to worry about it getting too hot – if it’s the right temperature for your food, the cast iron pan can handle it!

2. Cast iron provides dietary iron

This is a wonderful benefit to cooking with cast iron unless you have hemochromatosis, a genetic condition that causes you to store extra iron. Do not use cast iron if you have this condition; however, many other people are iron deficient or borderline. Your body is excellent at figuring out when your iron stores are low and absorbing more when you need it, although it is possible to overdose, but unlikely just from your cookware. This works especially well if you use an acidic product, like tomatoes, to cook with. That will draw out more iron than a neutral or basic food. 

3. The original nonstick pan

Cast iron is great because once it’s well seasoned, you just have to maintain that seasoning and you can cook almost anything on it, including eggs. Can’t say that about stainless steel, and you have to wonder if teflon is ending up in the food you cook like iron does. I prefer to cook with something that I know my body needs anyway rather than risk teflon being the next cancer-causing agent and regreting using it for cooking my whole life. To maintain the seasoning, you just have to rub a little oil – olive, coconut, grapeseed, etc. – onto the surface of the pan after using it and washing it. That’s it! Make sure you don’t use much, if any, soap to scrub the pan out. This might cause you to scrub off all your seasoning.

4. Oven to stove and back again

Sometimes I’m cooking on the stove, and I realize I need to let something simmer a while and I don’t want to be constantly maintaing the right temperature on the stove. That’s the unfortunate thing about an electric stove. With a cast iron pan, I can just pop a top on it, turn the oven on, and put it in straight from the stove. Again, it can go up to any temperature you need, so don’t worry about the oven temp. Can’t say this about teflon, or other pots and pans. A lot of them cap out at 300 degrees.

5. Lasts forever

My favorite cast iron pan I found at a thrift store for $50. This is a hefty price, I have to admit – that thrift store obviously knew what they had. It is a Griswold brand, which apparently is very sought after. They stopped making this particular kind of pan in 1957, so it is at least 50 years old. That’s pretty good for an ol’ skillet. Can’t say that about a nonstick skillet- most of those you have to chuck after 5 years, max.

 

I hope I have convinced you to at least try a cast iron skillet. They are really fabulous! 

 

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Curried Creamed Spinach – Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

Finished Curried Coconut Creamed Spinach
Finished Curried Coconut Creamed Spinach

I know I am writing a lot of recipes lately. I have always loved making up recipes, and now I have an outlet for it! I only hope that this blog gets discovered by someone so that these recipes can be tried by someone other than me, because I get so excited when they turn out delicious. SO. Tonight I had a bag of Spinach. I needed to eat it, and I wasn’t in the mood for salad. I could steam it…but that just gets so boring. What could I do with the spinach that would be delicious and filling? The answer – Cream it. So I decided to come up with a coconut creamed spinach recipe, and then decided to curry it at the last minute. It hit the spot completely. So here it is: First I took 1 bag of spinach (6 ounces). You should probably double this recipe if you want to feed a family though; I have to admit I ate this all myself. I didn’t have a big lunch and I just had this for dinner and an apple. Here we go.

Cook the spinach in the smallest amount of water and drain, pressing the spinach to release all the water. After the spinach is cooked you can chop it up as finely as you’d like. I did this with a chef’s knife. 

Drain spinach, pressing to release fluid
Drain spinach, pressing to release fluid

While your spinach is cooking, you can go ahead and get the rest started. Put about 2 tbsp coconut butter in a pot and let it soften a bit. If you don’t have coconut butter on hand, you could use coconut oil or earth balance, but the coconut flavor in coconut butter is simply not able to be matched. It is actually whole coconut flesh that is unrefined, so it is creamy and delicious. Yes, it has a good amount of saturated fat, but we’ll save coconut oil’s saturated fat and the difference between that and animal saturated fat for a later post. After the coconut butter softens, add about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and mix it up.

Here olive oil and coconut butter are mixed and slightly heated.
Here olive oil and coconut butter are mixed and slightly heated.

Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic in and cook just until the mixture begins to brown a bit. Now if you prefer a more cooked garlic (and less astrigent) flavor, you should cook the garlic with the olive oil first and then add the coconut oil. It’s all about personal preference. I love raw foods though so the garlic remaining slightly uncooked is a plus in my book. Then add in 1 and 1/2 tsp of curry powder and salt and pepper to taste and mix it up. Next, add in your chopped spinach and 1 tbsp coconut milk (regular or low fat – I used regular). This is what you get:

Finished Curried Coconut Creamed Spinach
Finished Curried Coconut Creamed Spinach

I know what you’re saying. That’s a lot of fat. I agree, it is. Sometimes, though, you need some fat in your life. Especially coconut fat. Just to ease your mind, I pulled the nutrition analysis for this recipe. It serves 2 (unless you’re me in which case you should eat it all yourself)

Serves 2. Per Serving: 284 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 24 grams fat, 7 grams protein, sodium varies.

Coconut Curried Creamed Spinach
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 ounces (1 bag) baby spinach
  2. 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  3. 2 tbsp coconut butter
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  6. 1 tbsp coconut milk
  7. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook spinach in small amount of boiling water, approximately 2 cups. Spinach takes about 2-3 minutes to cook. Drain and press spinach to release extra water. Chop and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat coconut butter on stovetop until softened. Be careful not to burn. When softened, add olive oil and mix until consistent. Then add chopped garlic. Cook for a few minutes until just starting to brown slightly. Add curry powder, salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Add chopped, cooked spinach and coconut milk. Stir until mixture reaches the consistency of creamed spinach.
Nutrition To Fruition http://www.nutritiontofruition.com/
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes – Vegan Friendly!

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Try these delicious pancakes with agave or maple syrup! yum!

Hello everyone!

Well it has been a very busy month. I have been back to the GI doctor. He DOES want me to continue with the gluten free diet. I am awaiting biopsy results. The thing is, though, since I gave up gluten and dairy, I feel a whole lot better. I am feeling like I don’t really need confirmation of one disease or another to continue this lifestyle. It works for me. The other good news is that I’m not tempted at all anymore to stop anywhere and grab something to eat or take the kids out because it’s, well, nearly impossible. I know this is a negative for a lot of you, but for me it helps me stay strong! As far as the dairy, I have been sneaking a little in here or there and it doesn’t bother me as much; however, I have become a lot more aware of animals rights issues and factory farming, so I am doing my best to cut back and maybe someday I can say it’s gone. For now I am at least trying to get all my animal products from sustainable and local family farms that treat their animals more fairly. I realize slaughter is still not very nice, but at least it’s a start.

So, onto my post for the day! I have been having pumpkin cravings like CRAZAY. I. love. pumpkin. Unfortunately it’s not quite pumpkin season, so there’s that; but, it has started to cool off a bit which is nice. So this past weekend I decided to try my hand at some gluten free pumpkin pancakes. I decided to make up a recipe myself. Despite the fact that I was highly distracted while making them — This is what my kids were doing in the meantime….IMG_0791…Despite that, they were AWESOME. For the flour I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats  which you can buy here. I put them in the food processor and ground them very finely, and then sifted them. If you don’t want to do all that work, you can just buy Gluten Free Oat Flour or another type of Gluten Free flour.

I did not have any maple syrup so I used agave and it was just perfect. The great news? These pancakes are vegan adaptable. They are gluten free. They don’t have any added sugar (except the syrup, which you could leave out if desired). They are basically something that almost anyone can eat. Try them, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

*edit* I have made a few minor adjustments to the recipe. I think it’s better this way! Let me know what you think.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
Serves 4
These Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes will satisfy your fall pumpkin cravings even if you are on a special diet!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 cup gluten free oat flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  5. 1/4 tsp ginger
  6. dash cloves
  7. (you can substitute the above 4 ingredients for 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
  8. 1 tsp xanthan gum
  9. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  10. 1 egg or flax egg (3 tbsp water + 1 tsp ground flax seeds)
  11. 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Instructions
  1. Turn on griddle or non stick skillet to medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray when heated.
  2. Mix or sift dry ingredients (flour, spices, xanthan gum, baking powder) together in bowl. Crack egg into bowl and whisk or prepare flax egg and let sit until thickened. Combine egg, milk, and pumpkin puree. Slowly stir egg mixture into dry ingredients. You may need to adjust the amount of milk based on how much moisture is present in the flour. Add milk until consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Pour 1/3 cup portions of pancake batter onto griddle or skillet when heated. Wait until pancake starts bubbling in center and looks somewhat dry around edges to flip. These pancakes take a little longer than traditional pancakes to cook. Serve with warm maple or agave syrup.
Nutrition To Fruition http://www.nutritiontofruition.com/
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