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‘Creamy’& Healthy Gluten Free Fish Chowder that doesn’t taste Gluten Free, nor Healthy!

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Its still running 30 degrees in ‘balmy’ Minnesota. Yeah, we do cold here in the upper Midwest. Here, it’s go cold or go home. HA!

Trying to think of what to serve up on this freaking frigid day, I hit the grocery store.

At my favorite grocery store they were tasting Atlantic Farmed Salmon. (I love tastings because I can ensured its not ‘fishy’ tasting) Next to the salmon was Alaskan Cod. Both were BOGO (buy one, get one free). I bought 2 packages of each! Tonight: Fish Chowder with Cod, potatoes, green beans and corn. Tomorrow: Salmon Croquettes. Seriously, it was a steal of a deal, and chowder sounds amazingly warm and comforting to me!

I did a quick google search in the store to get inspiration, and then came home with the intention of creating my own Gluten Free Chowder, that didn’t rely on flour.
So, here you go, a deliciously healthy version of a ‘cream’ chowder that is a snap to put together!
This chowder is VASTLY lower in fat than most recipes and it’s chalk full of protein. Is it ‘diet’ food? No, I’m not gonna lie. This is a healthier version of a normally calorie laden meal. I will confess, you will be temped to eat two bowls, just keeping it real. Cream-less never tasted so delicious!
This would be fantastic served with a fresh GF biscuits a GF French Baguette to mop up the last dribbles of broth!

**As always, read through the recipe and pay attention to my notes. If you spot an error or have any questions, please ask away in the comment section so I can fix it!

Notes:
*This recipe is flexible. Don’t like green beans or corn? Maybe add some carrots to the mirepoix, or add sautéed mushrooms, or heck, add peppers if you like them! You don’t have to use shallot, it just adds a slightly different savory note. Hate tarragon? Just use dill, or add some thyme.
*Don’t let your creativity be limited.
*I use red potatoes because they hold up a bit better under the simmer than russets or yukons.
*You can substitute halibut for the cod, or even salmon, but the flavors will be more assertive and need more assertive spices and seasoning.
*I will list ingredients I use in approximate amounts, but remember, this kind of dish is flexible. If you like onions, add a bit more. You hate them? Substitute shallots. The aromatics are there to build flavor.
**Don’t be discouraged about the length of the ingredients list. It sounds like a lot, but you likely have most of it in your pantry, and if – for example – you don’t have olive oil on hand, use all butter or try substituting coconut oil. I like the flavor of butter in this dish.
*And lastly, please, try to find sustainable fish. We want to be able to enjoy this bounty from the ocean for a long time!

Gluten Free Fish Chowder

1-1.5 Cup Onion, small diced
1 Large Shallot, small diced
1 Cup Celery, small diced
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour (just shy of 1/2 cup)
Old Bay Boil and Seasoning – just shy of 1 Tsp.
.5 Cup White Wine (I used chardonnay. Make sure its wine you’d drink!)
1 Tsp GF Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
2-3 Tsp Lobster Bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon brand) ((while this is optional, it really gives the broth a depth of flavor and seasoning that salt will not))
(optional: splash of Bragg Liquid Amino Acids, it adds a bit of savory salty, but not necessary)
4 Cup Fish Stock (boxed or homemade)
1.25 Cup Whole Milk
Dried Tarragon
Dried Dill Weed
White Pepper
Fresh Dill (also optional, but adds another fresh dimension and eye appeal to the dish) approximately 1-1.5 tbsp.
3 Cups Red Potatoes, cut into nice, big, one bite chunks.
Green Beans, cut into 1-1.5 inch sticks, approximately 1.5 Cup. (if using fresh, add with the potatoes, if frozen, add with the corn)
.5 Cup Frozen Corn
1.5 lb Cod, preferably fresh, but frozen/thawed will work too, diced into 1 inch pieces (see note at bottom)

Let’s get cooking!

Melt the butter in a 4-8 quart stock pot or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, and when they begin to soften, add the shallots.
While the aromatics cook, measure wine in a 1 cup measuring cup, and add to it, worcestershire and splash of amino acids. Set aside.
When aromatics are softened (about 5-8 minutes), add the Brown Rice Flour and Old Bay. Stir, and add the olive oil if it looks dry, it likely will.
Add the wine mixture and whisk/stir to combine, letting the alcohol cook off while stirring.
Add seafood stock while whisking vigorously. It will look lumpy but keep whisking.
Add dried herbs. Start with a generous pinch of each. (A pinch is about 1/4 tsp)
Reduce heat to a bare simmer and let cook for about 10-15 minutes.
Add whole milk.
Add potatoes and beans.
Bring back to a gentle simmer, add lemon juice (really its like a splash, designed to add a bit of acid balance to the chowder).
Add 2 tsp of Lobster Boullion.
Stir to combine, then taste, and adjust seasonings, adding a dust of white or black pepper.
Let cook uncovered, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Taste and adjust the seasonings again. (the potatoes will absorb some of the salty seasonings.) At this point, you can add the additional tsp of Lobster Bouillon if needed to boost the flavor.
Add the Cod and Corn, reduce heat further to a bare simmer, cover and cook until the fish is no longer translucent. It will take 5 minutes or less.
Add minced fresh dill.
One last adjustment of seasonings, adding more White Pepper if needed.

Serve and enjoy!
My hubby always adds tabasco to his fish chowders, but this needed nothing. It was fantastic on its own.
This serves 4 easily.

****I was serving 3. I bought 2 pounds of fresh Cod, because I got one pound for FREE! I ‘guess-ta-mated’ my fish initially, at 1.5 lbs. After serving up my chowder, (making sure the bowls were chalk full of goodies) I was left with a generous amount of broth. I added the additional .5 lb back to the broth, brought it back up to temp to cook, then packed it away for another meal. You can use 1.5 lb and stretch it quite nicely to feed 4. But you can also make it protein laden and add the extra fish.

 

 


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Strengthening Your Core

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In weightlifting, the key to being able to heft increasing amounts of iron is to have a sturdy, strong Core: your foundational strength you build on.
You don’t develop a core overnight. It is built up – workout by workout, day by day, month by month. As it grows in strength, it supports and assists the development of your other muscles. I didn’t just start lifting 200 pounds one day. I had to build up my core strength, increase my bone density, and build the muscle in an intentional way. My ability to lift is dependent upon the foundation I have laid. I am fortunate and blessed to have (the best!) trainer in the world to mentor me and keep me safe. Under his watchful and experienced eye, he has seen me go from puffing away under a few measly pounds of barbell weight, to lifting a full 200 pounds…more than once. Having a firm, sturdy core allows my body to not only perform in the gym, but also in all other aspects of life: carrying groceries, lifting my bike up on the rack, vacuuming, climbing stairs. All are easier because we have invested in its development.

My favorite way to illustrate this is with a tree: A towering Redwood would not stand with a weak core. It would topple under the weight of the branches, or snap with simple gust of wind. It stands though, because it developed its Core along the way.

What I would like to suggest is this: Is your Core strong?
In this case, I’m not talking about your physical strength. I am talking about your non-physical Core. I’ll call it your spiritual side, the ‘you’ who makes you, you. It’s what resides inside your head, that little voice that whispers only to you.
Is it strong? Have you taken the time to develop it? Do you have what it takes to weather the storms in life? Can you stand strong through the hurricanes of life? Can you remain standing, like the Redwood?

This subject is pertinent considering the news of the day:  A potential Greek economic collapse and the negative potential it has for the Eurozone. We are seeing the rise of barbaric beheadings and persecutions going on in the Middle East. Here in the States we feel the division in civil discourse and financial concerns growing. The entire world feels on edge, and in this case (unlike in past world shifts) we have social media to make it all broadcast in real time.

So I ask again, how is the condition of your Core? Have you invested in it, given it the conditioning and training that are necessary to weather the pounding waves that life throws at it?

First you must take an assessment:
What are your weaknesses, what worries you?
What are your strengths, where do you feel confident and in charge?

Next, take those weaknesses and develop a plan to strengthen them. I was terrified of some sort of economic disaster that would lead to hyperinflation and obscene food prices. To alleviate myself from that fear, or weakness, my husband and I developed a plan to stock up on and store food. I taught myself how to can food both water-bath method and pressure canning. I taught myself to preserve foods. I shopped sales and stocked up on dry and canned goods that I know we will eat. We invested in some long term food storage. Tackling that fear and developing a plan we followed, removed that from my ‘weakness’ category. Now, it’s a strength.

Build on your strengths. One of my friends sweetly calls me Miss Martha. I have always loved to entertain and socialize. I love being a Domestic Goddess. I love home-keeping, nurturing and gardening. Knowing this is a strength, I have used it to build my social network. I have ‘loved on’ friends and family, securing those bonds tight. In times of adversity, it’s those bonds we have forged that can help us weather through tough times.

Lastly, stay in shape, build on the core you have developed. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that I could ever lift that much weight. But I did. And I am continuing build on it, so that I hope to one day lift 2 of the big plates, which is 235 pounds. I also continue to build on my spiritual core. I continue to look at the areas I harbor fears and doubt. I tackle them one by one, working to turn them into strengths, shoring up, and building on that internal core.

When the winds, or hurricanes of adversity blow through my life, with a strong foundational tree trunk, I should be able to weather them and be a shelter for others. And lets be honest, isn’t that a much preferable way to approach life? I want to be stable in my boat when the oceans turn dark and stormy. I want to be able to have what is necessary, emotionally and physically, to ride out the squall. And, as a person of faith, I want to be a source of comfort, stability and hope for others whose boats may be sinking, or taking on water.

I am reminded of the story in the Bible of the Disciples out on the Sea and getting caught in a storm. Jesus, exhausted, was resting in the bow of the boat, calmly sleeping through a ocean raging around them. His followers freaked out, waking him up and carrying on about how they were all going to die…AND DIDN’T HE CARE?
Jesus, being a dude I’d have love to have met face to face, calmly stands up and with a wave of his hand, the seas turn flat as glass. In the disciples recounting, he gets a bit crabby and frustrated at their lack of faith.

Just think if those disciples had strengthened their inner Core, would they have panicked the way they did? They certainly were buff guys in good shape, they were seasoned fishermen. But what about their inner core? Maybe they would have been calm, maybe not, because Jesus was a guy who liked to teach and they had a lesson they needed to learn. But I can learn from their unpreparedness. I can read about their weaknesses and I can learn from it. I can be strong spiritually as well as physically. A calm place, in the middle of a stormy sea, for others.

I hope this gives you the motivation to not just be focused on the ‘physically’ fit. I hope that it inspires you to take your inner core as seriously as you might your physical one. I am no prophet of old, but just read the headlines sometime. There is a storm on the horizon. It may not come ashore, but it may. I know that I sleep better at night now, knowing I’ve been strengthening my Core.


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Butterfly Moment

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It’s hard to believe, but this adorable grandma looked like a crippled little old lady when she arrived on my doorstep Saturday, certainly in no shape to walk far, much less take a ride on my Throne. (Yes, I call my back seat my Throne! I’m a queen of the road back there!) But let me back it up a bit and help you understand the Butterfly analogy:

Due to the barrier of distance, finances, life circumstances and a stubborn Pollack I’ve not been able to get to know my Mother in Law (MIL) very well. The stubborn Pollack in this formula, my father in law, would go NO WHERE he could not smoke. Period. And he refused to smoke outside. As you can imagine, that not only limited their travel, but also limited visits. I have asthma, and I cannot tolerate smoke. I certainly didn’t want it in my house, and I had issues the one time we visited them. When a tragic, but silver-lining blessing occurred this last year, circumstances changed which freed her up to move closer to her daughters and their families this past week. It also freed her up to travel. So when my oldest graduated from college, she called to ask if she could come. I was thrilled with the opportunity to get to know her, and have my girls get to know her also. Of course I said yes!

So, on Saturday, in the midst of a pre-graduation party I threw for my graduate, hubby went to collect her. She walked in the door, with a cane, looking exhausted, drawn and happy but frail. Over the course of this week, with a good dose of activity, good food, some girly pampering, and lots of love and attention, I have watched this woman come out of her cocoon and blossom into a beautiful butterfly! She leaves tomorrow, and I’m content but a little sad. What a joy to be sending her home ready to start living again. She came to us stressed out and depressed from dealing with far too much, and she is leaving full of optimism and plans for her future. And isn’t that really the goal in life? Living each and every day as the gift it is?

I will kiss her Bon Voyage tomorrow, but I won’t be saying goodbye. Who knows? Maybe we have a girls weekend ahead in New Orleans…a city on her Bucket List.

I hope for everyone to have a beautiful moment like this.
A Transformation.
A Butterfly Moment.