Archive for the ‘celiacs’ Category

Awesome Autumn

IMG_1917 (2)Happy first full day of autumn. It is feeling very fall-like in Minnesota and thanks to a second half of summer drought our leaves are already turning. They change color not because of autumn but because they are struggling to survive. We started out the summer wet and cool but the second half left our landscape parched and thirsty. It is so sad to see about 20 trees dead or dying around our rural acreage but Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.

Vacations and your health

I have just returned from two weeks abroad and while I am feeling good and not too tired, I have some acrimonious aches and pains that are immobilizing me at the moment. While hiking in the Borders of Scotland I tripped on a gnarly tree root that was slippery from morning rain and went right down on my chest as my hands were elsewhere, I guess. That fall knocked the wind right out of me and jarred an old injury to my ribs (caused by two poodles who whisked me off a porch in pursuit of a squirrel).

My right side is so sore sleep is, at best, restless and broken. Once home I spent as much time as possible with my fabulous grandsons and having picked up and cuddled two boys for two days I know that is “verboten” as well. I am unbelievably sad about not being able to pick up those boys and cuddle them but I can’t aggravate this injury anymore.

Barefoot running and Morton’s neuroma

Before my holiday, I was running barefoot on my paved driveway and had gotten up to a mile of barefoot running. Around the time we left my right foot was hurting and now I know I have a Morton’s neuroma that is alive and well. I have had a neuroma in my left foot for ages that came on after walking barefoot  or with my Vibram- 5- Fingers on the beach in Florida for a few days. That neuroma seems to have faded away with time but now has been replaced by this one which is causing me considerable pain and discomfort. I guess barefoot running is also a forbidden sport, at least for now.

Aches and pains be damned

So, aches and pains aside my holiday was lovely. The weather was very summer-like and the cottage we rented for the second year in a row was perfect for us again this year. This wee croft cottage is extremely private (if you don’t count the sheep, deer, otter, dolphins and passing boats as a crowd) and we can walk unimpeded by other humans for hours.

One day we lunched on the shoreline of a nearby private cove looking out to sea. As we watched shipping traffic in the faraway sea channel we saw a few black “things” jump from the water. Then we saw a few more and in the end probably 2 dozen dolphins in a pod. They were obviously following a school of fish but they entertained us for nearly an hour eventually coming up our inlet (Loch Feochan) and frolicking right in front of us.

I love our weeks in Great Britain. After living there in the 80’s we fully intended to live there again one day but Osama’s grand plan (otherwise known as 9/11) got in the way, so instead we rent a cottage here and there and live the good life for a week on our own. Our second week is very dear to both of us as we spend it visiting our long time friends (former neighbors and lifetime friends) who just plain make my heart happy.

On being gluten-free and on holiday

This year staying with friends was more difficult since I have gone gluten-free. I knew the one friend would be fine with it as she has a sister who is gluten-free. She kindly dedicated a corner counter to me in the kitchen. She scrubbed her toaster and made some gluten-free treats basically having us all eat gluten-free as much as possible. I didn’t ask her to do that but she did and I enjoyed and appreciated her efforts. Probably more than anything she didn’t make me feel bad about it; she just accepted it and made me feel okay about my change of diet.

My other friend really didn’t understand being gluten-free, so she struggled a bit.  At one point she even said to me, in a very gentle voice, “A little gluten won’t hurt you!”. The odd thing is this friend is a pescatarian (they say vegetarian but they do eat fish) and if meat even touches their food they won’t eat it, so I thought she might be more understanding but alas I don’t blame her for being irritated. Being gluten-free is not an easy thing for me either.

Some helpful gluten-free travel tips

Before we left I carefully updated my profile on Delta to say I needed gluten-free food. This, it turns out, was a useless endeavor. It simply was never recorded I guess, so I had to pick food that seemed the least touched by flours and grains. Meanwhile, because there was someone on both flights that had nut allergies the entire plane was warned and nuts were not available (but pretzels were). I don’t blame the people with nut allergies but I wish Delta Airlines would take gluten intolerance as seriously.

On the way home, by now somewhat chagrined by my experience with Delta, I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t know I needed gluten-free food and drink.  To her credit she relayed my question to someone who could answer it. What I was told was I needed to request gluten-free food for every flight I take. Apparently updating my profile did absolutely no good which is, needless to say, disappointing. My advice: Make sure to inform the airline on every flight you take where food is served, that you need gluten-free food.

Delta Airlines aside, I was amazed at all the gluten-free items available in England and Scotland, especially Tesco, Booth’s and Sainsbury’s. Restaurants are very careful to keep you safe if you tell them you are gluten-free. Also, if you are travelling in Britain, if it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” it probably isn’t. Sometimes even if it does say “Gluten Free” you might check the ingredients carefully. One bottle of Worcester Sauce (a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce) said it was gluten-free but in looking at the ingredients (I started having some heart irregularity) it contained malt vinegar which is not technically gluten-free. I know, picky, picky but this trip was so much better than any I have had in years I am convinced being gluten-free is right for me and sometimes you have to be “picky”.

One treat that perhaps I shouldn’t have indulged in, but did, is bread. If you like toast or sandwiches while on vacation in Britain most grocery stores sell the best gluten-free bread. It is the Genius brand. It is the same size as normal bread and has the same texture as other bagged breads. I came home thinking surely I could find a similar bread here, which I did. At least it was called Genius but it isn’t the same and I can tell you not to bother buying it. The Genius bread here isn’t even as good as Udi’s Gluten free bread and it is more expensive.

The proof is in the pudding, gluten free  pudding that is

In past years, I have “treated” myself to one or two weeks of gluten while on holiday. In fact, whenever I have gone on vacation I was eating gluten be it abroad or here in the States. At home I was gluten-free but I would throw caution to the wind when away from home thinking this was mentally good for me, basically a total break from the norm.

What was happening though was not good for me. Almost every night I was away from home I would wake up about an hour or two after going to bed with a pounding head and heart. My heart beat would be in excess of 100 bpm and the only thing that calmed it was “tincture of time” and a big glass of salt water. I would read for a couple of hours and then crawl back in bed and sleep until morning. Inevitably, I would lower my dose of T3 which did help but did not eliminate the problem. For some reason, it never occurred to me that gluten might be implicated until last winter.

Light bulb moments

It wasn’t a momentous occasion but I did have a regular wheat crust on a pizza right after Christmas 2012 and immediately had issues with the racing heart and a sleepless night. I hadn’t had any gluten at that time since September’s vacation, so the light suddenly and finally went on. I had a gluten problem. It wasn’t just that I shouldn’t eat gluten because Dr. Mercola condemns wheat and grains I actually have gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac’s Disease. Now even coffee seems to be off the “treat” list as my joints scream at me “No more coffee!” as soon as I indulge. Just so you know, if you have trouble with gluten you may have trouble with coffee.

Another light bulb moment for me was last autumn when I got shingles shortly after my autumn indulgence, aka vacation. What I finally remembered was that almost every autumn within weeks of returning from my gluten filled weeks I would get, not necessarily shingles, but a rash on my lower back that, according to my doctor, was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It was initially a burning pain on my back and within a day or two would break out in this ugly dark blistered rash. When I got shingles I assumed that rash had been shingles but in talking to Dr. Lane she said it was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis because of its location and the fact that it did cross a center-line of my body.

Krisinsight

I really didn’t intend this to be all about my gluten-free lifestyle but every thing seems important to mention just in case you have suffered similar effects after eating gluten or if you happen to have a holiday to Britain in the works and you are gluten-free. I hope you found the gluten-free information helpful but I really wanted to talk about my latest Vitamin D test.

This was my fourth year of testing because I started in August 2009 as part of a test group for the Vitamin D Council. At that time my D level was 64 ng/ml. That winter (March 2010) my D levels were 92 ng/ml. The next August they were 58 ng/ml. The following March they were 70 ng/ml. August 2011-56 ng/ml. February 2012-70 ng/ml. August 2012-91 ng/ml. March 2013-84 ng/ml.

This August my levels were 64 ng/ml. That is down from February’s 84 ng/ml but mostly typical of what my summertime results have been with the exception of August 2012. I really can’t say why my winter results are almost consistently higher than my summer results. I use my Sunsplash Renew more in the winter than the summer but I am outside in the summer and I do expose my body to sunlight at midday at least three times a week in the summer. I seldom take D supplementation relying solely on my Sunsplash Renew and the summer sun. I never wash after sunbathing (or using my D lights) always letting 24 hours pass before a shower and even then I only soap vitals areas (as per Dr. Mercola).

Suffice it to say, my levels are always within normal limits but I would prefer they stay closer to 90 ng/ml, so long as my sole source of Vitamin D is natural and not supplementation. I have one more year to be part of the study, so come February I will test my levels again. I am trying to spend 20 minutes three times a week in front of my Sunsplash Renew to see if that brings my levels up in February but now I wonder if what I need to do in the summer is take Vitamin D supplements to maintain a level that helps my compromised immune system since I do have Hashimoto’s.

Ah, in the end life it just one big experiment isn’t it?

Santé,

Kris

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Food Sensitivities

IMG_1917 (2)This has been a week dominated by fire watching from afar. We have watched fire consume acres of land around our private bit of Idaho ravishing livestock and wildlife as it raged through. For the last few days we have watched as hungry flames quite literally eat the landscape around Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley but for now our cabin and land remain untouched.

We, my SU and I, watch our computer monitors with mouths agape as fire fighting helicopters wrestle with what they are calling “Fire-nadoes”. These are virtual whirlwinds made entirely of fire fueled by summer dried trees and sagebrush. Fire fighters on the ground are filthy with soot but keep doing their job of saving lives and structures.

They have done their job very well indeed, as few structures have been lost and no humans have perished thus far. Even the animal shelter near Hailey, Idaho was protected so well you can see the burn came right down to the structures but nothing was touched, it wasn’t even licked by flame and that, my friends, is fire fighting at its best. Just so you know, all the animals (including some bomb sniffing dogs) were safely removed and re-housed in other locations until the fire danger passed.

Meanwhile, here in Minnesota it is dry and warm. It is mostly stereotypically August although we often are much warmer than we have been. I don’t hear anyone complaining (with possible exception of those who own boats who shall remain nameless). Today, smoke from the western fires will waft over us but mostly it will be a Sunday like many others, me writing my blog for publication tomorrow morning bright and early and John catching up with unfinished business from Friday.

Food sensitivities

MSG

I have talked about food sensitivities on this site many times and it is still a subject of some curiosity for me. You all know about my burning mouth syndrome and irregular heartbeat issues. I explored numerous food issues from MSG (excitotoxins) to gluten in the past. Through very unscientific research I concluded that MSG wasn’t causing my irregular heartbeat but excitotoxins (as described by Dr. Russ Blaylock) are not good for us whether or not we have obvious reactions and I avoid them if at all possible.

Bioactive Amines, Salicylates,Nightshades and others

I found this great article titled “Natural Food Toxins” in my research this week. Chloe, research assistant and friend, and I were talking this week about aches and pains and causes of said A&Ps. She brought up nightshade vegetables and the fact that eating potatoes makes her feel quite upset. Nightshades are notorious for reacting this way on people and sure enough they are included in the article “Natural Food Toxins”.

You all know about my Burning Mouth Syndrome and I remain perplexed by the causes but I am starting to narrow down some of the culprits. I am not sure of their connection, if any to each other, but coffee is a definite culprit. Ground peppercorns on my eggs this morning caught my mouth on fire. I believe that supplements with rosemary extract ignite the issue as well. Any kind of mint be it peppermint, spearmint or wintergreen will make my mouth burn for days. What do all of these things have in common? Yup, you guessed it, they are all natural food toxins.

This is a broad category of foods including some dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The article at Healthknot.com is well worth reading and the link is there if you click on the first mention of “Natural Food Toxins”.

Gluten

Gluten free has become the new buzzword for food sensitivities and allergies. For some, the mere hint of gluten in their food can cause their throats to tighten and swallowing impossible.  Others are more intolerant than allergic. For me it is a culprit behind many negative health issues including ensuing malaise and seemingly irregular heartbeat. I cannot tell you, the reader, how or why gluten affects my heart but I think and have had it confirmed by others in the thyroid groups that being “glutened” can and does cause autoimmune attacks and since my heart is prone to irregularity an autoimmune attack seems to be a trigger.

Lactose

Lactose intolerance is the number one food people have trouble with. Whether it is a true allergy or an intolerance doesn’t really matter to the person who is having issues with a food. My friend Chloe totally eliminated dairy from her diet to see if it was a culprit in her fibromyalgia and found, perhaps to her delight, it really didn’t seem to make any difference. Nothing changed and she was true to no dairy for months. I can’t see that dairy affects me negatively. I never ache after consuming dairy products. My heart never bothers me (no change in pulse even). I cannot see that dairy is a negative for me in any way other than calorie content. That is not true for others and for them lactose causes too much distress to make consuming it worthwhile.

Krisinsight

Consuming gluten causes me to ache all over, have autoimmune issues within weeks of consumption and my heart reacts negatively within hours of consumption. The odd thing (at least it seems odd to me) is for most Celiac patients coffee has a similarly negative effect. They cannot tolerate coffee and this week after two episodes of achy joints I connected the dots.  I don’t have coffee very often but I do have it as a treat once in a while particularly on weekends and at my daughter’s house.

Last Saturday, we had coffee and that night I had a ruined night’s sleep as I tossed and turned with aches and pains in my knees like you wouldn’t believe. Sunday night was okay and I slept well but then I didn’t have coffee on Sunday. Monday I had coffee at my daughters and unbelievably I hurt all night long again. My knees ached and my hip ached. I got up during the night and I could barely walk my ankles were so stiff (I thought this was from running barefoot on my driveway at the time). I was starting to feel very old for 59. Then Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest of the nights this week were full of good sleep with no achiness. Of course, I have avoided coffee ever since Monday.

I mentioned that my ankles were stiff and they were and I did blame the running but it suddenly went away with no residual soreness or stiffness once I had the coffee at least 48 hours out of my system. I have since run barefoot all over my driveway and yard with no issues. Yesterday, I even did lunges across our backyard in addition to jogging. This did affect my left hip-joint last night but nothing else ached, so I conclude coffee is as bad for me as gluten.

I don’t know about you but I keep wondering what will be next and why. Do people with autoimmune issues just have more aches and pains? Or, as I tend to think, do we know that this is not normal? Do we just not accept? I know that aches and pains are not a normal part of aging, that they represent a problem. The problem is inflammation. That inflammation is a result of some thing that your body is missing, is reacting to and/or to which your body just wants you to pay attention.

I think it is important to pay attention to these aches and pains before you need a hip replacement, before your fingers are crooked with arthritis. Pay attention before your cells go crazy and multiply and some doctor tells you that in order to live you need chemotherapy and radiation. Hello Kristin!!!! Are you paying attention now? I sure hope I am. I am going to try really hard to do as I say and stop doing as I have been doing and get rid of these aches and pains.

Santé,

Kris

 

 

Oxa Whats?

This was one of those weeks when I was caught “with my pants down”. Just when I thought I was really on top of health related subjects (which by the way is difficult and time consuming and I never really am) something else comes along and leaves me gob smacked.

“What” you might ask “could leave a person feeling gob smacked?” The information imparted in a recent blog by Janie Bowthorpe on the subject of oxalates.

Oxalate according to Dictionary.com is “any salt or ester of oxalic acid,  occurring in plants, especially spinach, rhubarb, and certain other vegetables and nuts, and capable of forming an insoluble salt with calcium and interfering with its absorption by the body.” Interfering in the absorption of calcium is only the tip of the iceberg and spinach and rhubarb are only two foods listed in a two page list of foods that are high in oxalates. When Janie listed the foods high in oxalates I was taken aback but the two pages of foods high in oxalates that the writer of Roo’s Clues listed left me astounded. You see almost every food listed by Sierra as high in oxalates was also high on my list of edible foods in the past year of being gluten free.

So what’s the problem? Foods high in oxalates, interfere with the absorption of magnesium. Oxalates can injure and kill mitochondria causing the pain and discomfort of CFS and ME. Oxalates can also keep good bacteria from being able to colonize the gut and we all know if the gut isn’t healthy your body slowly but surely becomes debilitated. If your body lacks necessary magnesium you will be more prone to heart problems, muscles cramps, restless leg syndrome and a host of other maladies often blamed on “old age” when, in fact, you could very well blame the food you are eating.

Now the real kicker is I have been suffering from leg and foot cramps since February and I even did a blog on February 7th regarding my use of the “miraculous magnesium oil“. My foot was cramping and pulling my toes in odd angles, so I sprayed magnesium oil on my foot and within minutes I could see my toes relax and fall back in to their normal position. The foot cramping went on for several months and then more recently I have had this uncontrollable need to stretch my legs muscles at night and often when this occurred in my dormant state I would suddenly be writhing in pain from a resultant leg cramp rippling through my hamstring muscle.

I have run the gamut of blame for all this distress including blaming magnesium supplements themselves because it seemed that the days I took magnesium my cramping was worse but now I am convinced this was pure and simple coincidence.  The worst thing I have been doing this past year is trying to follow a gluten free diet but not a low carbohydrate diet (Dr. Joe Mercola would not approve). Gluten free often means using lots of gluten free items as a substitute for wheat flour and all the yummy food one eats that contain wheat and grains. Almond, Buckwheat, quinoa, rice, amaranth and potato flour are all gluten free substitutions for wheat, they are all on the “must come out immediately” list.

Then there are the nuts like brazil nuts, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts and they are all listed as “high” in oxalate content. I conclude that if you eat a gluten free diet you naturally increase the foods that contain a high level of oxalic acid. If you have an oxalate processing problem those foods must be eliminated. Since eating gluten free has become a “national obsession” (or that is what some people tell me) I am left wondering how many other folks like me are suffering from leg cramps and possibly low RBC Magnesium levels (or in children like Roo, autism) and don’t know it could be their gluten free diet they are so diligently following to improve their health.

How do you find out if you have an oxalate processing problem? You need to request a 24 hour urine test to see how high your oxalate levels are. Barring a trip to the doctor for aforementioned test, you could try removing the high oxalate foods from your diet. I had already cut back on many of the high oxalate flours since exchanging wholewheat bread for gluten free bread about a  month ago and only eating that on the weekends. Since reading Janie Bowthorpe’s blog earlier this week I have tried to eliminate most but not all of the foods on the “need to come out immediately” list and the nighttime hamstring cramping has all but disappeared as well as the cramping in my feet and toes.

In the end I ask you are we left with nothing that is safe to eat? I sure hope not but a friend of mine who diligently researches health issues in hopes of solving her ongoing problems did write me an email recently. In closing she said “About half my calories are from fat, in the form of olive oil, avocado, nuts, and ghee.  A little meat, a couple eggs, a few veggies and/or roots, and I’m pretty much done for the day.” What is a self confessed “foodie” to do? I can hardly stand the thought of paring my diet down to such a limited choice but I can’t stand the thought that I would choose food over health either.

Wait! I know, I’ve got it. I need to write the next big selling cookbook. It’s title will be “Yes You Can”. Inside I could have recipes that allow a person to eat grain free, goitrogen free, oxalate free, heavy metal free, hormone free, sugar free, msg free and do it all with no microwave. Of course all the recipes would involve just making filtered water taste really, really good.

Until next week,

Kris

Anybody need a cracker?

You guessed it another recipe but this one is simple and tastes so good. I found this one on Elana Amsterdam’s site but as usual I tweaked it to suit what was in my pantry and what appealed to me at the time.

These are called “Rosemary Crackers” on Elana’s site but as you can see I placed a basil leaf ala Martha Stewart on top of each cracker before they went in the oven and they not only look nice they have a nice touch of  basil. The ingredients and directions I used are as follows:

1 -3/4 cup blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

Enough fresh basil leaves to top each square

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 egg

In a large bowl, combine almond flour and salt. In a medium bowl combine the oil and egg and whisk lightly. Stir the wet ingredients in to the dry and thoroughly combine. Roll the dough into a ball and press between 2 sheets of parchment paper (placed on your baking sheet) to 1/8 inch thickness. Remove top piece of parchment paper, score the dough with a pizza cutter in to squares of any size you desire. Place a fresh basil leaf on each square and replace the top sheet of parchment paper and roll over the surface lightly. You may have to score with the pizza cutter again.

Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes, then serve.

Today I made a similar recipe but I had some Chia seed meal that I made by putting chia seed in my coffee grinder (the one I use for spices and nuts).  I added 1/4 cup of chia seed meal to the dry ingredients plus I chopped up a tablespoon of fresh rosemary and also added that to the dry ingredients. The crackers are much darker with the chia and rosemary, altering their appearance slightly. Instead of looking like the photo above they resemble a Wheat Thin cracker but they are a healthy protein packed treat that contains no gluten and tastes better than the Nabisco original.

Bon Appetit,

Kris

Gut Feelings?

Wow it is Monday morning already, the weekend quite literally slipped through my fingers what with being a constant gardener and dealing with daily rain. I am not complaining for I love the feeling of living in Camelot with rain only in the afternoon or evening and I find tilling the earth to be almost erotic. Did I say erotic? Yes, but I did downplay it by adding the adverb almost.

As promised I want to share with you some interesting information regarding going gluten free. I found this little tidbit at Gluten Free Health and my interest was piqued because I have felt for some time that it isn’t just gluten that bothers me. However, you do get to the point where you hate to say anything about any other ingested morsels be it high glycemic cookies, gluten rich pizza crust, farmed fish, pesticided lettuces, chelated minerals, pasteurized dairy or  over cooked anything. You get the idea, I just don’t want to complain about anything other than what I already acknowledge to be bad for me (my nephew, the lawyer, called me a nerdtritionist this past week), so you just keep eating these foods that seem to hurt in some way and you blame yourself for not paying attention.

I will point out that having just taken the nutritional typing test at Mercola.com I was reminded that many of the foods I am going to mention are not on my Protein Type food chart, so I may have a problem with them because I am a fast metabolizing protein type and not just because they are often problem foods for those who are gluten intolerant or merely sensitive to gluten containing foods.

It seems that the problem when it comes to gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance is that our issue doesn’t stop there. A leaky gut most likely caused our gluten sensitivity and that damaged lining may also cause a “cross-reactivity”. We end up sensitive to more than just the grains that contain the proteins glutenin and gliadin. Avoidance of other foods may be necessary to really feel well.

A person with celiac’s disease may also need to avoid dairy products. The sensitivity to dairy comes from the milk protein casein and the whey. “Immunoreactivity to milk is not to be confused with lactose intolerance. The two are completely separate. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest milk sugar (lactose).” The celiac patient is actually having an immune reaction to the proteins in dairy.

Now you will want to bury your head in the sand if you love nightshade vegetables and read no more. However, if you are willing to face the truth of the matter nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes contain a protein called lectin and if ingested you may suffer the same immune reaction that you get to glutenin and gliadin. Oh that hurts! I love nightshade vegetables. What could be tastier than eggplant parmigiana or a pasta sauce (the pasta being gluten free of course) made from freshly picked garden tomatoes, minced fresh garlic, lightly torn leaves of garden grown basil and a fruity Italian extra virgin olive oil? BUT you can do the same thing with zucchini or make the pasta with pesto leaving out the nightshade vegetable altogether.  I have and it is a reasonably tasty solution to the problem.

Carrageenan is the next challenging food item. It is a food additive and thickener and is derived from red algae and it, too, may cause an immune reaction. It is found in so many things that you might be eating it and not be aware of it because it is used to create softness and smoothness in food items like cottage cheese, soy milk,chewable vitamins, processed meats, ice-cream and chocolate puddings.  I already look for carrageenan not because I knew of an issue with immune reaction but because it is a source of  free glutamates and no one needs to add excitotoxins to their diet much less a food that is going to set off an immune reaction.

I think the biggest lesson herein is to listen to your gut, it is known to be the second brain and if you continue to ignore what it is saying you are only setting yourself up for a future of immune problems. I have ignored the aches  and pains that come from eating some of the above foods and, I confess, my 2010 garden is full of nightshade vegetables. This is a case of do what I say not as  I do because I declare here and now that my second brain and my brain  do not converse in the same language when it comes to nightshade vegetables or pasteurized dairy products. It all reminds me of the old song that Louis Armstrong sang “You say po-tay-toe and I say Po-tah-toe. You say toe-may-to and I say toe-mah-toe”. My brain says “yummy toe-mah-toe” but my second brain speaks loudly when it says “YUK, TOE-MAY-TOE”. If only I listened to the rest of the ditty and called the whole thing off.

I’m Cooking Now

I need a little levity this week as I deal with yet another broken nail on the same poodle that had a broken nail last year. I hate the cure more than the problem as I know my boy will hurt when they cut it off at the pad and if this is to be an annual occurrence I could think of better things to do annually, say, cooking for instance. In much the same way I inform and distribute health information I would like to share some healthy kitchen tidbits.

Yesterday, I tried a cookie recipe from Spunky Coconut a person I follow on Facebook. I will admit it wasn’t until I was half way in to the recipe that I realized it was a vegan offering from another site that Kelly Brozyna had shared because she thought they were really tasty but I thought the cookies really did bear repeating and I did make them my own with some slight substitutions and additions.

Monster Cookies

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose  Baking Flour

1/4 tsp. xanthan gum

1 cup Quinoa Flakes

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt (+)

Mix the dry ingredients together and then mix together the following:

3/8 cup Grapeseed Oil

3/8 cup Tropical Traditions Peanut Butter with coconut oil

1 cup Coconut Palm Sugar

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Add all ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup M&Ms (for those who care Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips and regular M&Ms are gluten free) stir to distribute. Scoop out with a small ice-cream scooper, drop on a cookie pan lined with parchment, flatten with a fork in a cross hatch pattern. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, remove from oven when slightly dry and golden in appearance and cool on the baking pan (they will be crumbly otherwise). By the way, these were husband approved this morning fresh from the freezer where all my cookies go for safe keeping and slow distribution.

Somehow using quinoa flakes reminded me of another find from a week or two ago. I love pizza and I have been trying to find a healthy alternative with little luck. I have found Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust mix is the best and my Superstone pizza pan is by far the best pizza pan ever. Anyway I found my Juliano Raw cookbook the other day and he has a recipe that uses sprouted buckwheat for a crust to host some healthy raw veggies and a raw nut cheese topping. I might be up for a pizza like that but I knew it would never pass muster with the spousal unit, so I rejected it as being too labor intense to be rewarded with a sour puss spouse (Perhaps you know this look of dismay. I think it says far more than mere words). However, the idea of sprouted dehydrated buckwheat groats appealed to me because I am not fond of soaked and soggy buckwheat groats. The following will render you a crisp and nutty buckwheat product:

1 cup Buckwheat Groats soaked in enough water to cover for 8 hours. Drain in a metal colander, toss to remove excess water and set aside to sprout for two days. I rinsed them occasionally and repeated the drying process every time. In two days I could detect little sprouts at the end of each groat.

Once sprouted, place them on a sheet of parchment paper on a rack in your Excalibur Dehydrator and spread thinly. Set the dehydrator at 105 or lower and dry overnight. Cool the sprouts and then store in a canning jar.

Buckwheat is not a wheat at all and according to Wikipedia  “contains a glucoside named rutin, a medicinal chemical that strengthens capillary walls. Buckwheat contains d-chiro-inositol, a component of the secondary messenger pathway for insulin signal transduction found to be deficient in Type II diabetes and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is being studied for use in treating Type II diabetes. Research on D-chiro-inositol and PCOS has shown promising results. A buckwheat protein has been found to bind cholesterol tightly. It is being studied for reducing plasma cholesterol in people with hyperlipidemia.” Not only does it have a nutty taste it is a healthy addition to your morning routine.

I think the sprouted buckwheat groats make a tasty muesli by adding naturally dried (no sulfates but a bit of oil and sugar to preserve them) cherries, blueberries, raw cashew nuts, cocoa nibs, and Goji berries and sprinkling that over freshly made yogurt. Mentioning yogurt segues nicely to my next recently discovered tasty delight, fresh yogurt or even tastier, drained freshly made yogurt. The last in the list for today but not the least by any means.

There are many ways to make yogurt but I can tell you my way is simple and delicious, sooooo let’s get started…….

1 half gallon whole Organic Valley milk from grass fed cows, no hormones but need not be “real”

2 sachets of Yogourmet freeze dried yogurt starter

Heat the milk to180 degrees according to instructions, checking frequently with a thermometer. Let it cool to between 108-112 degrees. Set aside a cup of warm milk and mix the yogurt starter in to it. When the temperatures are between 108-112 mix them together. Pour in to clean quart canning jars, place lids on top. Turn your Excalibur Dehydrator to 115, place the jars inside and leave for four hours or until firm when you turn it upside down. Refrigerate overnight. If you want more of a Greek yogurt, like Fage yogurt, put two layers of cheesecloth in a colander and carefully pour one jar of yogurt in to the colander. Set it aside to drain for several hours or until it has the consistency of cream cheese. Carefully remove it from the cheesecloth and refrigerate. It is the creamiest, tangiest little bite of goodness and perfect for a protein snack before bed.

If I didn’t have to take a poodle to see his favorite veterinarian in 15 minutes I could go on and on. However, they will not take kindly to my being late, so try some of these ideas and let me know what you think or if you made substitutions and found an even more distracting way to take your mind off your beloved but injured best friends, write me immediately as I have a full day of visits to the “house of horrors” first one poodle and then the other.

Christmas Spice but Gluten Free

Morning Readers are you ready for the upcoming big weekend? Has your chimney been swept? Is the pantry well stocked? Well if you answered “yes”, “yes” and “of course, yes” you have prepared for the Big Day and Santa will stop by with the long dreamed about this or that. However, if you are gluten free do you have treats that everyone will grapple for and savor? It can be difficult for those of us who are better off steering clear of gluten in any form, so as promised last week here is another treat that will disappear and you needn’t tell anyone it is gluten free just tell them it is savory and delicious.

Cheddar Cheese Crackers courtesy of Elana Amsterdam and the Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Makes 60 crackers

2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 large eggs

Those are the ingredients as stated in the book. Now I will improvise a litttle, so this is not exactly as stated by Elana.

Set the oven to 350 degrees and cut four squares of parchment paper to fit on two flat sided cookie sheets. Place one sheet of parchment on each cookie sheet and reserve the other piece to place on top.

Mix the dry ingredients with your clean fingers to disperse all lumps and the rising agent. In a separate small bowl whisk the eggs and oil together (at this point I add a pinch of cayenne pepper or coarsely ground black pepper), add the cheese which should be a sharp cheddar for better flavor. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until it is similar to tacky pie crust. Divide the dough in half and pat out in to a rectangle if you can or just a circle. Setting aside one half take the other half over to the parchment lined cookie sheet and place it in the middle. Cover with the other parchment sheet, grab your rolling pin and roll out the dough between the two sheets being careful not to lean to heavily on the outer edges but spreading the dough from the center out (I find the center is sometimes too thick to bake crisply, so if I press on the rolling pin at the center and release the pressure as I go to the edges it works better). Roll it out to about 2-3 millimeters on the edges, remove the top sheet of parchment and score the dough for small crackers the size of Cheese Nips or larger if you want to use them for spreads. Repeat this with the other half of the dough. Place both cookie sheets in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are golden in color and when cooled slightly and tasted are crisp not soggy. Remove from oven and cool slightly so they can be handled with ease. Break them apart and cool completely.

You now have the perfect gluten free snack cracker that is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and unlike potato chips, corn chips, and pretzels these are so good for you it doesn’t pay to mention it. There are no unhealthy additives, no corn, no sugar, no soy and can be enjoyed with a totally clear conscious. If you are looking for other healthy snack alternatives the Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook is simply the best I have found and it is sold at Amazon.com($11.55) or Iherb.com($8.50).

My Christmas wish for you is that it will be a delightful family time, with everyone staying healthy and safe. Whether you are Christian or not this is a season of joy and holding hands, bouncing babies in your lap, petting needy animals, smiles, kisses and hugs because after all is said and done the best thing about Christmas is the days are already getting longer. Hurrah! and Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!