The road to wellness isn't straight, clear, or predictable. It's a path you forge yourself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Yummy, No-Grain Supper

When you're on a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (and lately grain-free) diet, people always ask:  "What's left to eat?"  Well, here is one meal idea for supper.

  • Grass-fed Ribeye steak (I use my friend Dot's recipe on her blog.  It's so delicious, I only cook steak this way these days!)
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • green salad with homemade dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh herbs, and salt)
  • Mockarita  (scroll down to bottom of page)
Leave off the mushrooms, and you've got a yeast-connection-diet-friendly meal too.
Happy eating!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breakfast fit for a queen

I love a good weekend breakfast!  Unfortunately, I can't have things like pancakes, waffles, bacon, etc.  so I have to improvise.  Here is something I put together yesterday morning (Saturday) and it was truly delicious and seemed decadent. 

Bacon Alternative:  I cannot eat bacon and other processed meats because the nitrates they use to preserve them give me serious migraines.  (My uncle was the one who told me about this because he gets these too.  Does anyone else have this problem?)  I have found nitrate-free bacon, but there is always sugar in it!  I guess the sugar takes the place of the nitrates to preserve it?  Anyway, it's a rock and a hard place situation.  Until now!

Did you know you can fry up prosciutto and it gets crisp just like bacon?  Okay, so it's not quite as tasty, but it's a close second!  They don't put the preservatives in prosciutto like they do with bacon.  (Not sure why.  Anyone?)  The ingredients listed were just "pork, salt, and spices".

Fried eggs:  I use real eggs from grass-fed, truly free-range, organic, chickens.  This makes all the difference!  Yum.

Butternut squash hash:  I took some leftover roasted butternut squash, cut it up, topped in with chopped pecans and a bit more cinnamon and butter, and baked it for about 10 minutes or so.  This made a perfect, sweet companion to my eggs and "bacon".

Chai with coconut milk:  Need I say more?

There you have it.  A great breakfast that royalty would envy! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who knew butternut squash was so delicious?

Oh, butternut squash, where have you been all my life?  I happened upon this recipe in the Candida Control Cookbook and it happens to fit into the Specific Carbohydrate Diet too.  It is sweet enough to be dessert!  The taste reminds me of a cross between pumpkin and sweet potatoes.  I suppose you could substitute butternut squash for the sweet potatoes when making casserole for a low-carb version.  Also, I've made "pumpkin pie" with butternut squash instead of pumpkin and it tastes almost identical!

Treat yourself to this yummy, healthy dessert!

Roasted Butternut Squash
1 Butternut Squash
cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Wash, dry, and cut squash length-wise.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes.

SO easy and you won't believe how delicious it is!  (...and I usually don't even like squash!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thai Yum Yum Soup!

Thai lemon grass soup is one of my favorite things!  It's called "Tom Yum" soup, but I call it "Yum Yum" soup.  Here is the recipe I use:

Tom Yum Soup

2 pounds raw shrimp
1 Tablespoon oil (sesame works well)
8 cups hot water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stalks lemon grass (or 4 strips lemon rind, thinly peeled)
4 lemon or other citrus leaves (if you can find them)
2 or 3 fresh whole chilies
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (You buy it bottled.  Sometimes, I leave this ingredient out and it still tastes delicious.)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
1 fresh chili, seeded and sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 green onions, chopped
sliced mushrooms (1 package)

Shell and de-vein shrimp.  Wash shrimp heads well, drain thoroughly.  Heat oil in a saucepan and fry heads and shells of shrimp until they turn pink.  Add hot water, salt, lemon grass, citrus leaves, and whole chilies.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain stock, return to a boil, add mushrooms and shrimp and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are cooked.  Add fish sauce and lemon juice to taste.  This soup should have a pronounced acid flavor, so add sufficient lemon juice to achieve this.  Serve in a large tureen or in soup bowls, sprinkled with sliced chili, cilantro, and spring onions.

I'm in love with these blueberry muffins!

I have recently switched from the Yeast Connection Diet to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  Basically, this means that I used to not be able to eat anything sweet.  Not even fruit!  However, I could eat grains as long as they were gluten-free and had no sugar or yeast.  Now, I can eat fruit and even honey, but I cannot eat any grains.  It'll be a challenge, but I'm ready for a change.  Plus, I am SO excited about eating fruit again! 

I found this recipe in the "Eat Well Feel Well" cookbook by Kendall Conrad.  These muffins turned out really well and were super tasty and moist.  The recipe calls for almond flour, but I used hazelnut flour with delicious results.  (Nut flours are just nuts ground up really finely.  There is no actual flour in this recipe.  I  buy it at Whole Foods but you can make your own nut flour by grinding your nuts of choice in a food processor.)
Try 'em!  They are high-protein, low-glyemic index, and relatively low-carb.

SCD Blueberry Almond (or hazelnut) Muffins

3 cups almond flour (or any other nut flour)
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or ghee (Butter has very little lactose and ghee has none.  Alternatively, you can substitute olive oil if you like.)
1/4  cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.  Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.  In a food processor, puree the almond flour, eggs, butter, honey, baking soda, vanilla, and salt until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and gently fold in the blueberries.  With a big spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm with butter and honey if desired.
Makes 1 dozen.

When I made these, I decided to turn them into cupcakes by making icing for them.  (...because everyone knows that cupcakes are muffins with icing, right?)  This honey icing was delicious!  I have to say though, I don't think I boiled the honey long enough because it turned out really thin.  Make sure you boil it long enough if you want a thick, spreadable icing.

Honey Frosting

1 cup honey
1 egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Boil the honey until a drop forms a firm ball in cold water.  Add gradually to beaten egg white.  Whip until stiff and add vanilla.  This frosting is marshmallow-like and remains spreadable for hours. 

I hope you like these as much as I did!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recent visit to the Functional Medicine Practitioner

A while back, I mentioned that I went to see a Functional Medicine Practitioner who I called Dr. Cooper.  She has really helped me to figure out what my body needs and has helped me feel better.  My migraines have not gone away altogether, but they have decreased in intensity and in duration. 

Two days ago, I went in for a check-up.  I had not seen her since September and I wanted to see how much I had improved since then. 

What I found out:
1.  I really do have a wheat allergy.  Crazy that I've gone 35 years without realizing it until this year. 
2.  Other allergies I have:  dairy, apple (weird, huh?), oats, pecans, and walnuts.  (These aren't intense allergies where I have to have a shot or anything, but these things do cause problems for me.)
3.  Dr. Cooper re-iterated that my headaches are caused by stress on my digestive system.  (caused by Candida and bad bacteria.)
4.  The Candida yeast are almost under control.  I will finish out my current Nystatin prescription, then stop.
5.  Now that the yeast is much improved, there is a high amount of bad bacteria showing up in my gut.  This is what we are addressing now.
6.  I have low Progesterone levels.

What I don't know yet:
1.  Last time, Dr. Cooper found that I had insanely low levels of vitamin D.  A healthy level is in the 80's and no one should ever be below 32 b/c it puts you at high risk for all sorts of things (including cancer).  My level in September was 19!!  I have been taking crazy high amounts (5000 mg) of vitamin D since then to build up my reserves.  Dr. Cooper has ordered a blood test for me to see if I still need to be taking that high dose.

What I will do now:
1.  Continue to eat a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet --BUT I will ramp it up a bit and follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (see below) which prohibits all grains and sugars except fruit and honey.
2.  Dr. Cooper has changed my diet from the Yeast Connection diet combined with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to just the Specific Carbohydrate Diet ONLY!  This means I can eat fruit!  HOORAY! (I haven't had fruit in 8 months.....well...except when I cheated...rarely.)  FYI - here is a more critical look at the diet.  It's good to consider all sides.
3.  Take 50 mg of progesterone per day.
4.  Continue with all of my supplements which she originally prescribed.  (I will list them soon.)
5.  Get my vitamin D levels tested.

That's pretty much it.  I am going to exercise more.  It seems like that's the first thing that goes out the window when I get busy.  I will have time to get back on track over the summer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What I like to have for a Friday Night Splurge

I LOVE fried shrimp!  That's  one of the things I really miss about being gluten-free.  Luckily, I've found a way to fry shrimp using rice flour.  Yum!

Fried Shrimp and Tartar Sauce

The sauce:
On my diet, I can't have pre-made tartar sauce b/c of the sugar and vinegar content.  Here is a good mock.
Step 1:  Make your own mayonnaise.  (I used to think this was hard.  It's not!  It literally takes me 10 minutes to do.  Also, I thought I didn't like mayo.  I just don't like the pre-packaged kind.  Homemade tastes completely different!)  Mayonnaise starts with an egg yolk, into which you force oil, and it will hold it in creamy suspension.
a)  Heat a bowl (this is important!  The yolk won't "take" the oil if it's not heated.  I learned this from Julia Child.  Love her!)
b)  Put one egg yolk into the bowl (Save the egg white!  You'll see why later.)
c)  Beat the yolk for about a minute (I use an electric, hand-held mixer.)
d)  Add salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and about  2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (most recipes call for a squirt of mustard at this point but I find it doesn't  need it.)
e)  Beat for another minute or so.
f)   While the mixer is still on, SLOWLY  mix in 1 cup of olive oil.  I usually spoon it in first, then pour in a small strean when it reaches the half-way point.
g)  When all the oil  in incorporated, you have mayonnaise!

Step 2:   Make the tartar.
a)  Take 1 cup of mayonnaise and put it into a separate bowl.
b)  Add one half finely chopped onion, one half finely chopped cucumber, a handful of fresh dill, one half lemon, finely chopped (skin and all!), more salt, if needed, to taste.
c)  Store in fridge for at least a half an hour before eating.

The Shrimp:
a)  Peel and clean however many shrimp you want.  (I use about 8 BIG shrimp per person.)  Make sure you cut along the vein and remove it.  This is the shrimp's poo.  You do not want to eat it!  I can't tell you how many times I've had shrimp in restaurants where they do not remove the veins.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  Yuck!
b)  Dry the shrimp, then dip each one in the egg white (remember the one from the mayo?)
c)  Then, coat the shrimp with the following mixture:
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • finely chopped garlic
  • chopped fresh oregano and basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
d)  Fry the coated shrimp in a frying pan with some olive oil (enough to liberally coat the bottom of the pan.)  When the shrimp turn cloudy, they're done.  It usually takes about 5 minutes or so per side.

Serve immediately with the tartar sauce.  Add a green salad and you have a great meal!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No-Milk Shake

I seem to be on a banana kick lately so I'll share with you another delicious, sweet alternative.  Banana No-Milk shake!  You won't believe how good this tastes.  It's just as good as any milkshake you've ever had.  The cool thing is that it's healthy enough to have for breakfast too.  (Warning:  the sugar-content is high.  It's fruit sugar, but those who are sugar-sensitive should watch portions.)

Banana No-Milk Shake
1 Banana
a handful of almonds
5 or 6 dried dates
water and ice

Blend the almonds with about a cup of water.  It will get milky-white and slightly frothy.  Then, add the banana and the dates.  Blend well.  Add ice to the desired consistency (usually about a cup).  Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Serves 1 

Even though it's really simple and there are only 3 real ingredients, it's still amazingly delicious and plenty sweet even though there is no added sugar.  Dates and bananas are crazy sweet!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bananas Lynster (Kinda like Bananas Foster but without the bad stuff.)

I don't want to brag or anything but here is an absolutely delicious dessert that I made up.  Okay, so there's no such thing as a truly healthy dessert, but this is much healthier than most other desserts out there.  Plus, it's gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free (although it does have fruit sugar and agave syrup).  If you're going to splurge, this is the way to go! 

Bananas Lynster
1 banana, sliced
sprinkle of cinnamon
finely chopped fresh ginger (about a teaspoon)
shopped pecans (a handful)
1/2 teaspoon of alcohol-free vanilla extract (I like "Spice Shoppe")
1 T sesame oil (You can use other oils, but I find the sesame fries up the bananas better and more crisply.)
coconut milk ice-cream, sweetened with agave syrup (such as "Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss")

Sprinkle the sliced banana with the cinnamon.  Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan.  When hot, add bananas and fry until slightly crisp.  (About 10 minutes or so.)  Towards the end of the frying, add the vanilla, chopped ginger, and pecans.  Stir and cook for a few mintues.  Put the banana mixture in a bowl and top with the coconut milk ice-cream.     
Serves 1 (You can double, triple, quadruple, etc. this recipe if you want to make it for more people.)

Enjoy!  You won't miss the bad stuff!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not Soy Good After All?

I've always heard that highly processed ingredients from soy are bad for you.  Things like soy-protein isolate and the like.  It is in a surprisingly large amount of familiar products.  Conversely, I've always heard that natural forms of soy are good for you.  (Like soy milk and tofu.)  This article I read today makes me rethink that.  It scares me to think that an ingredient in gasoline may have been used to process my soy milk this morning!  Be safe.  Buy organic.  It's not perfect, but it does help limit the amount of chemicals you are ingesting.  Check out this article and tell me what you think.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Off the Wagon

Okay so I fell off the wagon this weekend.  I had some friends staying at my house (with 2 boys aged 3 and 5) and there were several college friends of mine around eating (and drinking) all sorts of things.  I gave in.  Oh well.  At least it was an opportunity to see what would happen if I did eat wheat, dairy, and sugar.  (and yes, I had all 3!)

Well, apparently I really do have issues with wheat.  My stomach was not happy!  I felt bloated, gassy, and had some tummy issues as well.  When I had a coke one day (the first one I've had in over 7 months), I could not sleep that night because my stomach felt like it was in knots.  Dairy makes me feel bloaty, but cheese give me a horrible headache.  I guess it's nice to know which food causes which issues so I'll know in the future.  More importantly, I am now more aware that my crazy gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is working and I'm more resolved to stay on it.

Getting back on the wagon:
This is hard to do.  Even though my body is having these symptoms, it craves food with wheat, dairy, and sugar (esp) in them.  It's an addiction situation I think.  SO - I'm back off wheat and dairy, but am still eating sugar for today.  Tomorrow, I'll kick the sugar.  I find it easier to do it in steps like this. If I go off all 3 at once, I feel terrible and lack energy to get through the day. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grand Master P (as in in acu..)

I have baffled my acupuncturist!  (I call him Dr. Needles.)  I was doing really well and had not had a migraine in over 3 weeks and was feeling really good and almost cocky that I had gotten rid of them.  Then, came the smack down!  Almost every day this week, I have had a headache.  Some were full-blown migraines, others were just bad enough to make my day miserable.  There doesn't seem to be any reason for it.  No major changes or anything.

SO - since Dr. Needles couldn't figure out my deal, he set up a free session with his teacher and mentor who I will call "Grand Master P".  This guy is like the triple black belt mac daddy of acupuncture.  He is a sweet, tiny, Chinese man who drives in from Texas about once a  month or so to consult with and provide guidance to his student, Dr. Needles.  (Apparently, like music, acupuncture is an ongoing learning process.) 

Grand Master P was very helpful.  He asked loads of questions before diagnosing me with "Qi stagnation".  According to him, Qi is life energy and it flows throughout the body.  Sometimes, it flows into a part of your body but doesn't flow back out for some reason.  This is Qi (pronounce "Chee") stagnation.  In my case the Qi is flowing to my head and is getting blocked up there.  The energy has to go somewhere so it comes out as pain.  He said that the remedy for me is to pull the energy back down from my head.  (I don't know how much of this I subscribe to.  I'm just saying what he said.)

He put a lot more needles in than usual and I have to say they stung a bit.   He said that if it stings a little, that means it's working.  If it burns, then that's not good.  Two of them burned like hell so he had to adjust them.  I think he put them in deeper than usual.  As he did this, we had a very nice chat about life, music, and everything.  He plays the western as well as the Chinese flute and was very interested to hear about my oboe playing.  We agreed to play some duets and swap CD's next time he comes into town.  Very cool guy.   

As Grand Master P was leaving the room to let me rest with the needles in for 20 minutes, one of them fell out.  It happened to be the one near where my head had been hurting that morning.  When I told him this, he said "That's good!  When that happens, we don't put it back in. When the body redirects energy, sometimes it rejects a needle and pushes it back out.  When it does this, it means it doesn't need that needle any more."  Isn't that crazy?  If it hadn't had this happen to me, I don't think I would've believed it.  I have never had a needle come out before.  I don't know what it means, but there it is.

I have to say, I felt tons better and way more relaxed after my visit with Grand Master P.  This is good because I have friends staying at my house with 2 little boys aged 5 and 3.  I totally need my energy this weekend!  :-)