Wednesday, April 11

Porphyria-friendly recipe link love

This is a list of Porphyria-friendly recipes from around the web that I've seen this week (and then some).  I do share some of these links on the Facebook page when I find them.  So, if you'd like to get them sooner, make sure you "like" the page to get updates.

  • Artichoke pesto from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes. I would replace the spinach with another green like arugula.
  • Cheesy herbed artichokes from How sweet it is. I *love* artichokes, but I only make them boiled and plain with mayo for dipping. (Don't judge, it's how I grew up eating them. Comfort food at its weirdest?) I've wanted to try them differently, but I had no idea what to do. I would totally make them this way. Although, Gorgonzola = Blue cheese = gross in my mind, so that will defo get switched out. 
  • Buckwheat Patties from While Chasing Kids.  These are just about the only veggie burgers I've seen that doesn't use beans as a base. Leave the flax seed out and replace the cilantro sauce with something more Porph-friendly, like pesto.
  • Toasted ravioli from A Zesty Bite. I love that it is healthier than fried ravioli, but that it's still nice and crunchy from the toasted coating. 
  • Dried fig jam from the TasteSpotting blog. This would be the perfect thing to make with dried figs that I've been holding onto.  I was originally going to make fig bars or homemade fig newtons, but I like this idea better. Plus, it's easier. Tara has been eating a lot of toast lately, so she's been getting into jams as a way to jazz up the toast and add carbs.
  • Egg and bacon bread bowls over at Jo Cooks. Of course the eggs and bacon aren't technically Porph-friendly, but the bread bowls are super customizable.  I am seeing these with the extra bread that was pulled out mixed with rice, maybe cheese, spices, and a bit of some sort of liquid.  Anything would work, as long as it's not too wet.
  • Beetroot tiramisu with pesto croutons from Cooking in Sens.  I'm sharing this purely for the inspired pesto croutons.  I've never thought about that!  It just occurred to me recently that I can make my own croutons with leftover bread and I think pesto croutons would be fab.  Use the recipe for arugula pesto on the blog or your favorite recipe. 
  • Walnut Bella "meatball" subs from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes (2nd link from them this week).  "Meat" balls made with walnuts, dates, and seasonings. I love meat substitutions that don't rely on beans. Replace the flax egg with a regular egg or egg whites.
  • Mushroom Bread Pudding from Breanna's Recipe Box.  I always want to like bread pudding, but it never lives up to its expectations for me.  However, this recipe looks really good!
  • Cinnamon Apple French Toast Wraps from Food Family Finds.  A tortilla isn't necessarily super high in carbs, so it's what you put in it that's important. I never think about sweet stuffed tortillas, so I love this.  I keep wondering how it would be stuffed with rice pudding (or even just sweetened rice) and some fruit.  
  • Sabudana (Sago) Khicdi from Ambika's Kitchen.  I'm posting this for the inspiration to create a non-traditional breakfast.  I see a sweet version with Israeli couscous as a great substitution.  Maybe using rice milk as the liquid base?  Even if water is used, I could add sugar, spices, and some fruit.  I think I'm going to give this a try.  
  • Penne pasta in a roasted beet sauce by Bev Cooks.  Tomato free and onion free pasta sauce.  Yet one more sauce to add to my must-try recipes.  We like roasted beets at the house, but rarely eat them because they are a bit labor intensive.  Wonder if this sauce would freeze well?

- Sunshine

Tuesday, April 3

Tips for increasing carbohydrates: New series

I'm starting a new series this week on tips for increasing carbohydrates (carbs).

I know one of the things we struggle with is how to keep Tara's carb level within the recommended 300g per day range. We do this by increasing the amount of carbs in a particular meal or snack and by adding in carbs throughout the day with something other than a meal or a snack.

The easiest way for Tara to "sneak" in carbs is to take them in through liquids. (This is, of course, also the easiest way to sneak in and increase your overall calorie intake, but that's a post for another time.) There are times when Tara doesn't feel good, but just can't or won't eat.  It's a lot easier for her to drink something than to try and eat.

Gatorade is Tara's number one choice for liquid carbs. Tara normally drinks at least 2 quarts of extra strength Gatorade a day; she will increase that to 3 quarts during an attack or when she's not feeling so hot.  Fruit punch is the only flavor that she likes.  She prefers the powder over the already made liquid because she is able to control the strength and there are less ingredients.  It's sold in most grocery stores, although we have been having some trouble finding the fruit punch flavor lately. It can be purchased online through places like Amazon (click on photo above).

Unfortunately, Tara's acid reflux has been acting up lately so she hasn't been able to get her full quota.  She might drink 1 quart of watered down mix.  It is because of this, in part, that she's been feeling worse than ever.  There has definitely been a noticeable decrease in her overall health since she reduced the amount of Gatorade she's been drinking.  She said the best she ever felt was when she was consistently drinking 1/2 gallon of fruit punch Gatorade per day.  We've been looking into other alternatives but haven't found anything that is nearly as effective.

What do you do to increase you carb intake level throughout the day?

Friday, March 30

Foods with soy: Cranberry Walnut Dressing

Here's another edition of my ongoing series, "Foods you didn't know had soy."  I'm gonna change how I post the series. I'm going to make this a weekly series and post whatever foods with soy I find during the week instead of waiting until I have a certain amount of items.

You would think I'd be jaded and no longer shocked by all the foods I find that has soy, but I am constantly amazed at how many foods contain it. Almost every time I go to the store, I find something else and snap a pic with my iPhone.

Any food items with soy you've found recently that surprised you?  If so, feel free to take a pic and e-mail it to me.  I'll load them up as part of the series.

- Sunshine

This week's entry is Cranberry Walnut Dressing from Naturally Fresh (I'm not even gonna go there with the company name).  Even though I realize that almost every single ready made dressing has some form of soy in it, I'm always surprised when I find it, especially in the refrigerated (i.e. "fresher") brands.


I really like how this flavor combination sounds and think it would be a great fall fruit dip.  I may end up attempting to recreate it.

And, soybean oil aside, since when did sour cream have so many damn ingredients?

Wednesday, March 28

Review: Barbaras Bakery Strawberry Bars

Hey all,

Just a quick note to let y'all know that I haven't dropped off the blog.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I went to the FoodBloogForum Conference at Disney World in Orlando over St. Patrick's Day Weekend and I was so inspired. I have so many great ideas for this blog and my other blog, Scoops of Sunshine.

There has been some behind the scenes work going on for both of the blogs and I have several posts in the works, including a recap of FoodBlogForum Orlando.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a quick product review of these strawberry cereal bars from Barbara's Bakery(affiliate link).

One of the main things we struggle with is having easy, portable, and Porphyria-friendly snacks for Tara so that she can grab them for work or have something quick at home.

That's why I was pretty happy when I saw these bars and checked out the ingredients. Most importantly, it has no soy. I got so excited about a soy free "grain" product that I initially overlooked the slightly less than stellar ingredients like red cabbage and canola oil.

They can be a little hard to find. Only one of my local grocery stores carry the strawberry bars. Whole Foods carries a few different flavors, but that's not always convenient for everyone.

On a final note, Barbara's Bakery has several different type of bars, some of which contain soy, so be careful if you are strictly avoiding it.

TCV Quick notes

Pros: Portable, good amount of carbs, low fat, low protein, quick, convenient, dairy free, soy free, tastes good

Cons: Has a few iffy ingredients, can be hard to find.

Verdict: I would definitely buy these again.

Have you tried these bars?

Thursday, March 15

Lasagna Stew

I wasn't too sure if I should share this recipe or not. It isn't exactly porphyria-friendly. Not only is there meat, but there are also tomatoes, onions, fennel, and a good amount of dairy. The only thing that it has going for it is that it has pasta.  To be sure, Tara only had one serving and I ate the rest.

We definitely don't eat like this every day. But here's the thing, we're human and we don't always eat the best.  It's just like when you're on a diet and you eat huge slice of cake (and a bowl of ice cream and some cookies, and a burger...); you know you shouldn't, but you do anyway. And, if you're the type, the next day you go bust your ass in the gym, or, at the very least, you get back on track with your diet.  It's the same thing here.  Tara occasionally  gets cravings for certain foods that aren't so trigger-friendly or we're in a pinch.  So, we try to eat foods before and after that are super high in carbs or she'll drink a Gatorade.

Anyway, enough of that and on to the recipe. Or the discussion of the recipe...

I initially saw Pass the Sushi's post on Lasagna Stew and it looked so good that I knew I was going to make it soon, like either that night or the next day, soon. 

Thankfully, my version of lasagna soup - Lasagna Stew - did not disappoint!  Honestly, the main reason I decided to post the recipe was because, people, this is good. I mean, really good. I'm not sure if it's because I love a good meat sauce and I rarely get to enjoy it, but I was savoring the sauce like nobody's business.

It doesn't taste quite like lasagna, but it is very lasagna-esque.  You know, kind of like a cousin of lasagna.  All the elements are there: meat sauce, pasta, ricotta, and browned mozzarella topping.  They just combine to form something fabulous.

Despite what I said earlier about this lasagna stew being essentially a trigger-bomb, it is quite customizable. It can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the meat with veggies like mushrooms and/or zucchini, etc.. It can be made dairy-light or even dairy-free. You can change up the spices somewhat by leaving out the fennel and upping the basil, oregano, and bay lead. I suppose it could even be made onion-free, too, although I'm not entirely sure because, at that point, it would probably be another dish entirely.


Lasagna Stew

Adapted from Pass the Sushi and Closet Cooking  and

Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you; this comes together fairly quickly.  If you want to make this more soup-like, increase the chicken stock to at least 4 cups. 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium - large onions, finely chopped,
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste (organic preferred)
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups, approximately, chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8oz pasta (mafalda would be appropriate, but any big pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil (I left this out)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella


In a large pot (either a sauce pot or a large, high-sided skillet), heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking up into small chunks, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside (this step is optional, but it will help the next step go quicker.).

Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and sauté for about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Add to the pan tomatoes with juice, sausage (if you removed it), stock, bay leaf, and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Dump in the pasta, boil for a minute or so, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Once done, drain and return to the pot.

While the sauce and pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to broil and place oven safe bowls on a baking sheet.

When the pasta is cooked and the sauce is done simmering, fish out the bay leaf and discard. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in pasta.

Scoop a heaping spoonful of ricotta into each bowl. Ladle stew into bowls and top each bowl with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Place in broiler with oven door cracked for 3-5 minutes or until cheese browns.

Wait a few minutes before serving because the stew will be super hot.

Recipe variations:

Vegetarian:  Replace the meat with any number of vegetables, but especially mushrooms. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.

Dairy-free or dairy-light:  Decrease the amount of ricotta used in the lasagna and decrease the amount of topping. If you are just looking for a little bit of dairy, I would eliminate all but a smidge of the topping.

Fennel-free:  Leave out the fennel and, if you are using a meat, use ground pork and beef in place of the sausage. Increase the rest of the seasonings, especially the salt, pepper and bay leaf, and double the basil by adding it to the sauce while it is cooking and then at the end.

Gluten-free:  Use any gluten free pasta you prefer.

Onion-free:  I am guessing about this one. Leave out the onion and significantly increase the seasonings. I would add 2-3 bay leaves, add the larger amount of red pepper flakes (assuming you can handle heat), increase the oregano (add some fresh, too, if you have it), and double the basil by adding it when the sauce is cooking and then at the end.

If you try out any of these variations, please let me know how they work for you or what you did or would do differently.
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