Friday, June 10, 2011

Almost Apple Pie

Sometimes there are foods I cannot eat, foods I desire to enjoy and incorporate into my recipes. These are foods that should be naturally gluten free and refined sugar free, foods that I should be able to enjoy within the boundaries of my amazing lifestyle. For me, the most frustrating thing is knowing I should be able to eat something but I am hindered from doing so because unnecessary additives are put into the product.

Take cottage cheese, for example. I was once skeptical of this cheese curd product, simply because my palate was fussy. Plus, it looked just plain weird to me.

When I was abroad, I learned of this Swedish dessert called ostkaka, literally translated as “cheese (or curd) cake” in English. As the national day for celebrating this oddly textured cake was two days before my 21st birthday (Since 2004, it has been celebrated on November 14th), I decided to have it as my birthday cake. Truthfully, I think the texture would have been better if it was put through the blender before baked in the oven, but it was still a cool thing to make with my other international exchange student friends.

Cottage cheese is one of those foods that is hard to find without any additives or preservatives stirred in. Yogurt is typically the same way when it is sweetened or has fruits in the mix. There are some days I want some probiotic goodness, but have to go without because modified food starch is in it. Even some organic brands do this, but why they do it I don’t understand. In Sweden, after searching the cottage cheese shelves in the dairy section, not only did I find cottage cheese in its purest form but with different curd sizes and fat ratios.

Why is it that we are adding unnecessary things into our foods? Why are we adding modified food starch when it is naturally thick and creamy? Why are we dumping sugar into foods where fruits are present? Why the additives? Why the redundancy? Just… why? By doing this, various brands are limiting their products’ availability to people with food intolerances and allergies. Often times I am unable to because soy was added, or sugar, or unknown food starches. It can be frustrating at times, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a brand out there that caters to my needs. Finding those Morri-friendly brands, however, is a different matter.

The way my household saves money on food is by going to multiple stores. In fact, we are able to feed a family of three (including multiple visitors on weekends) for under $200 a week. For produce and foods hard to find, we go to our local international food market. For our meat, dairy, coffee, and other food needs, we go to Trader Joe’s. On rare occasions we visit Wegmans or Whole Foods, usually to window shop or indulge in gluten free products or something we don’t usually see at the other stores. But for our miscellaneous necessities, such as paper towels, toilet paper, and the latest issue of Glamour magazine, we go to Harris Teeter.

The Harris Teeter we frequent has the So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk brand and agave sweetened coconut ice cream, things that are hard to find or very expensive in other stores. We go there for wild caught wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) as often as once a week, and it is at their pharmacy that I get my hypothyroid medication. It also carries a brand of cottage cheese the way it’s supposed to be, with three ingredients that make cottage cheese… well, cottage cheese.

Daisy® pulled through for me where many brands did not. Cultured skim milk, cream, and salt are this cottage cheese brand’s only ingredients. They have multiple cottage cheeses with different milk fat percentages, but the ingredients remain the same. Truly this company remains true to their “Pure & Natural” philosophy, of which I am thankful. In fact, I was so ecstatic to find cottage cheese I could enjoy without care that I bought two tubs of the stuff. That, and the Burt-man has a tendency to eat an entire tub in one sitting (this goes for tapioca pudding, vanilla ice cream, and a box of cereal also).

With cottage cheese now officially in my repertoire, I wanted to make something simple, delicious, and nutritious. I then remembered a post from a fellow gluten free blogger and hastily looked to her for inspiration. Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free was one of the first bloggers I started following. When I became refined sugar free, she and Elana Amsterdam from Elana’s Pantry showed me the art of cooking with healthier alternatives to white sugar and artificial sweeteners (which I never used anyway). I learned to bake with agave nectar, maple syrup, stevia, and honey, ending up with similar – if not tastier – results than when I cooked with cane sugar. I started finding other bloggers who followed the same lifestyle, but Amy truly put it into perspective for me, showing me that wholesome ingredients could also be indulgent, decadent, and satisfying. She truly lives and eats by her motto “fabulous food made better”, and my respect for her knows no bounds.

Her "Almost Pumpkin Pie" recipe was the inspiration of this dish. Her “tastes almost like a dessert but it’s really a meal” concept really tickled me pink, but I didn’t have a can of pumpkin puree in the cabinet or a butternut squash on the counter to use. But with that tub of cottage cheese tempting me from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door, I decided to incorporate some creative license.

I had a plethora of fruits to choose from, both in type and form (fresh, frozen, dried, and preserved), but soon it occurred to me that I hadn’t had my daily Granny Smith apple yet. My choice was soon clear, and the result was a delicious and filling dessert-like meal.

Almost Apple Pie

1 Granny Smith Apple, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Flaxseed meal
1 tbsp. Unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. Cottage cheese, small curd and 4% milkfat minimum
1/4 tsp, Cinnamon
2 dashes Nutmeg

In a soup bowl or large drinking mug, thoroughly combine the chopped apple, flaxseed meal, and applesauce.
Top the apple mixture with the cottage cheese.
Garnish with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Serves 1.

1 comment:

  1. Looks fabulous!! Have you seen my cottage cheese & fruit salad? I love fruit and cottage cheese. It's a healthy protein and a healthy carb. The addition of nuts makes you feel fuller longer due to the healthy fat. Your dish looks great....I'll have to give it try. Sending big hugs!