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March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY!
Thank you Dr. Davis!

One year ago today, I posted THIS to Dr Davis’ Wheat Belly Blog to talk about the decision my family had made to go wheat-free. It has been an amazing year. I think my husband is more excited about our anniversary of being wheat-free than he ever has been about our wedding anniversary! Kinda sad, but true 😉  But who can blame him with all of the amazing changes that have taken place (and LASTED) over the past 365 days?! I can say though, to his credit, that he thanks me each and every day for changing his life forever.

And in turn, I thank Dr. Davis. So here we go again… THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

You have changed my life, my husband’s life, my son’s life, my parent’s lives, lives of people that we know here in the real world and the people I have been lucky enough to call my friends online. You have helped me to start a chapter of my life that has real meaning by being able to reach all the people who read my blog about delicious recipes and living this lifestyle more easily in a world that is still new to the idea that wheat is a common and powerful toxin.

For those who just look at the WB way of living as just a diet to lose weight, you are missing the point! Go ahead and do it to drop those extra 30+ lbs, because it’s a great plan for that, but it’s about MUCH more than a number on the scale. If you read the book and use the cookbook, and if you visit the Wheat Belly blog or the Wheat Belly page on Facebook, you will see that my story is NOT an exception. It is common to find people who have experienced the major improvements in health that we have, along with other benefits that I have not listed. In fact, the more time that passes, and the more testimonials I read,  the more I am convinced that there is very little in the way of health issues that is NOT related to chronic consumption of wheat, excess carbohydrates and sugars, along with food additives, GMOs and our live stock being hopped up on meds. Our food supply has been tampered with in ways too numerous to mention, and it DOES matter.

Now that we have a year under our belt, it’s time to look back and talk a bit about the major changes we have experienced in our health.

Here are some health highlights in OUR year of being free of wheat:

  • My husband and I have lost a combined 70lbs in the past year! (Him 38, Me 32)
    That’s more than 2 BIG bags of dog food! It makes hugging much nicer, by the way!
    Most weight was dropped in the first 4 months, and we have kept it off. He has reached his goal weight and feels better in his own skin and with his body than he EVER has in his lifetime. He is confident, excited, feels younger and has much more energy. He promotes this way of eating to everyone he knows, and they can see the proof by just looking at him!
    Being a mid-40’s female, I am still working towards my goal weight, but do so knowing that I have the tools to maintain where I am now, and from here on out I can tweak with exercise and fine-tune  the plan to fit what works for me. I’ve gone from a size 18 to a 12-14, and I’m feeling really good! I have noticed that most men on this plan ZOOM right down to where they need to be without too many bumps along the way, but some women do seem to encounter more plateaus. There are the complicated issues such as hormones, thyroid, and other metabolic challenges to work through, especially over 40, but this is still the BEST place to start in my opinion. All this while eating real, whole foods, and NOT being hungry.
    How much money would the people of this nation save on diet programs and pharmaceuticals if we just eliminated wheat?? How many lives would be saved because of decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes??
  • My chronic joint pain decreased by probably 90% in the FIRST WEEK.
    knee-pain-female
    I began having a lot of body pain in my late 30’s that grew increasingly annoying over the next 5+ years. I couldn’t understand why my elbows, knees, shoulders and hips hurt so much. Why getting up out of a chair at 40 yrs old took so much care, and why getting out of bed was always accompanied by pain as my feet hit the floor… not to mention the journey down the stairs with every step being measured and painful. People would say things like “Welcome to middle age!” or “That’s just part of getting older, sorry.” As it turns out, the strong inflammatory properties of wheat were the cause, period. As soon as I eliminated gluten, the pain was gone in a WEEK. This was well before losing any weight or going to an overall low-carb diet. So to those who say that the decreased pain was due to less weight stressing my body, WRONG. Now, the lighter Me certainly puts less strain on my joints, but the pain was due to INFLAMMATION, which in my opinion is the WORST effect of wheat consumption, and it takes many forms. How many patients would doctors lose if we no longer had to go in because of joint pain?? How many fewer prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications would be needed?? How many people would not feel OLD for their age??
  • I was able to say goodbye to the SEVERE and CHRONIC (mysterious) HEADACHES that plagued me from the time I was probably 14 or 15.
    headache-triggers-woman-400x400
    If you are someone who suffers from headaches like this, where 3 or 4 times a week you get a headache so bad that you can barely think, and that each of those sometimes last for DAYS, you know what I’m talking about! I could hardly believe it when the headaches stopped. It wasn’t apparent immediately, a little time went by, a week or so, before I realized that my head didn’t hurt. I used to LIVE on Motrin and off-brand ibuprofen. I’m talking buying the industrial-sized bottles at Wal-Mart because I had a handful several times a day. It didn’t fix anything, but it took the edge off. Doctors had been no help over the years, even with brain scans to rule out tumor and the array of heavy drugs they had prescribed (that I wouldn’t take more than once because I felt disconnected from the world when I took them.) It had become my normal state to hurt and just deal with pain. Not anymore. I still get a headache now and then, probably sinus related, but NOTHING like they were before. More like a regular person now 🙂  I also attribute this to inflammation due to wheat. How much different would the world be for those who suffer from chronic headaches if they found that wheat was the problem?? How much pain and suffering is totally unnecessary?? How many take heavy drugs to combat a dietary toxin??
  • My husband’s acid reflux is GONE.
    He used to deal with painful reflux after most meals. As soon as we went wheat-free, this disappeared! In the beginning of our journey, he was willing to give up wheat in food, but didn’t want to commit to giving up his occasional beer. Then he noticed a couple weeks in, that the acid reflux would return as soon as he had a brew, but that it never happened with our food alone. Hmmm. Well, he decided that he’d had enough beer in his lifetime, and that he knew just what it tasted like; he didn’t need anymore! That was the end of his reflux, period. In the past he had blamed the reflux on rich foods, on red wine; on cheese… you name it. But it turned out it was one ingredient, WHEAT. Again, inflammation. Think of all the people who take meds for acid reflux on a daily basis and how many end up having medical procedures resulting from the long-term damage caused by it; how much pain and money would be saved?? How much money would the pharmaceutical companies lose out on if we no longer had to purchase their meds to combat the food we are eating??
  • Food cravings are gone; we’ve learned what actual hunger feels like.
    IMG-20130115-03488
    We now eat because we are fueling our bodies, not because of some phantom urge telling us we are hungry, when we clearly aren’t. This is a freedom that we are so thankful for, because we truly never knew the difference! Wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant, something that Dr. Davis talks about frequently. This is one example of how wheat consumption affects the brain. Dr. Davis says that wheat causes people on average to consume an additional 440 calories per day, every day! The kicker here is that once you go wheat-free, you realize how many products contain wheat that have nothing to do with breads, pastas, and cereals. It’s a cheap filler and it causes us to want to eat MORE carbohydrates. So glad to be liberated from this compulsion!  How many people would never have been overweight in the first place if it wasn’t for this notorious effect of wheat?? How many have spent their entire lives trying in vain to combat this appetite stimulant with low-fat or reduced calorie diets, only to be hungry all the time, and then give up??
  • Dramatic improvement in my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) over time.
    This is one that has taken time; it wasn’t one of the immediate improvements. Long term ingestion of wheat causes all sorts of havoc within the digestive system, especially the small intestine that becomes irritated, inflamed, and permeable (leaky-gut.) It takes time for many of us to heal from the assault of wheat and grain products. Now that I have reached the year mark, I would say it is probably 70% better than it was. This is also something that I had been suffering with from the time I was a teenager. In this case, wheat and grains are not the only culprits for me, bad oils (hydrogenated and vegetable oils) also do a number on me, as does too much heavy cream. The gut needs a balance of good bacteria to be healthy, and between the consumption of wheat, handfuls of ibuprofen and too many antibiotics, mine needed serious healing. Taking a good pro-biotic can help, along with staying completely away from trigger foods. How many people have gone to the doctor time after time with these symptoms, only to be given a sad nod and a prescription for meds to take for the duration of their entire lives?? How much gluten intolerance is masquerading as IBS??
  • Speaking of antibiotics… my family of 3 has not had a prescription for antibiotics once in the past year or so.
    antibiotics460That may not seem like a big deal to some, but in my house, my son and I were prone to strep throat 2-3 times a year, a couple upper respiratory infections for all 3 of us, and I had UTIs probably 3 times per year as well. That’s a lot of penicillin and cephalaxin! To go from that, to ZERO is something that I wholly attribute to being wheat-free and not eating sugar. It is my belief that wheat puts such a powerful assault on our bodies that our immune systems are working full-time just to deal with the toxins that are coming from the foods we are eating, and that there is very little left to fight off infections and sickness. Take away the wheat and our immune systems function the way they were meant to. Add to that the acid state created within our bodies from eating too many carbs and sugars, and you have a breeding ground for the bad stuff. We still got sick a couple times, but a little home remedy of ACV (organic apple cider vinegar) and baking soda in water 3X a day was enough to knock it out.  How much of our overuse of antibiotics is due to wheat?? How much antibiotic resistance has been created because we are using them to battle on behalf of our compromised immune systems due to toxic food consumption??
  • My son’s bleeding eczema on his hands did not happen this winter, for the first time EVER.
    Like clockwork, every winter my son’s already some-what dry hands would get scaly, crack and bleed. I used medicated salves from the doctor that didn’t help; I made home remedies of shea butter, coconut oil and vitamin E that did help with constant use. But it wasn’t until we eliminated wheat that this problem just went away. This may sound like a small issue, but when it’s you or your child that suffers not only the pain, but the embarrassment of a skin condition like this, you know it’s a real concern. In our case wheat was the allergen causing this condition; how many others have eczema or long-term rashes that might be treated by omitting wheat?? How much money could be saved by not having to purchase all the expensive prescription salves that mostly end up being ineffective??
  • My son’s ADHD has much improved, as have his grades this school year.
    adhd
    It’s not the easiest thing to talk about when you have a child with real ADHD. It’s not an easy decision to make to medicate them. It’s not easy; in fact it can be downright heartbreaking. I wish I never would have had to medicate my son, but the truth is that it has made all the difference in the world to help us manage this condition that seems to be hitting an inordinately high number of children and adults in today’s society. The meds did help, but it was never enough, and every year there have been calls from teachers who thought he was a bright and wonderful child, but they struggled to teach him or struggled to get his distracted behavior in line in the classroom. When we decided to go off wheat, my son (then 13) made the decision to do it with us. I didn’t force him, I just educated him about the reasons I wanted to try it, and he jumped right on board. This past school year has been the first EVER that I haven’t had frantic calls, emails or requests for special meetings with teachers. EVER. What an unexpected blessing! Yes, he still has ADHD, and yes he is still on medication, but he has a much more balanced mental state and is able to think more clearly. He is less distracted and more able to focus.  He has an enhanced awareness about his condition and chooses to be proactive about it. He still has his challenges with certain classes, but he is excelling in others! He is educated about why we are wheat-free and he challenges the friends who would make fun of him, instead of giving into peer pressure to eat teen favorite wheat-containing foods like pizza. He does it for himself! If you asked him, he would tell you that it helps him manage his ADHD and that it also helps to get rid of the joint pain he had been experiencing in the past couple years (which we had attributed to growing pains.) I am so proud of my son for being capable of critical thinking and questioning the mantra of “healthy whole grains” that is taught in Science and Health classes. Proud of him for standing up to peer pressure, and instead telling others that wheat is no longer the plant it once was, and that it is now damaging to our bodies, so his family chooses not to eat it. To stand up when others tell him that he can’t “survive without wheat”!  I don’t know what causes ADHD in our society, but I have a gut feeling that our chronic consumption of cereal grains, sugars and carbohydrates along with overzealous vaccination protocols has a lot to do with it. Regardless of what causes it, I strongly suggest a whole food diet free from grains to combat the effects. If I had known, we would have been eating this way forever! How many children and adults with ADHD could be helped by elimination of wheat and adhering to a whole food diet??


I am one full year into an entirely new way of eating, and a new, better phase of health. I continue to read, discuss and research about personal health responsibility, nutrition and ways to make this way of eating pleasurable as well as good for my body. I imagine that over time, there will be more benefits, some I may never see because they take place below the surface. I urge anyone who is considering this lifestyle to do the reading, ask the questions and make a real honest effort, because it IS WORTH IT. It has its challenges, but most anything worth doing, usually does.

We are pioneers of personal responsibility for our health in an age where profits and greed and convenience are taking precedence over what is right. No one can do this for you. Others can share their stories and their recipes, but only you can make the time to prepare healthy meals and find sources of healthy foods. Once you commit to this way of eating, it gets easier. Having peer support, whether in person or online makes this easier. It’s available to those who desire change. Can you lose weight on this diet? More than likely, yes! But please don’t overlook the vast array of other benefits to be found by eliminating this monster toxin from your diet.

Cheers to a lifetime free from Wheat!!!

 

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One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

That’s right! It’s been one full year that my entire family has been eating wheat-free! Thanks to a friend who introduced me to the concept, and thank you to Dr. Davis, author of “Wheat Belly”, my life has changed for the better! A little later on today I will post an article I am writing about some of the biggest health benefits my family has experienced, but for now I want to post a list of 45 things I have learned during the past 365 days.

Before I do that, I’d like to thank YOU, my readers, who have helped to make this year an amazing one for me. Writing and blogging was completely new to me when I posted my first blurb last March, and it’s been a journey of sharing and learning that I could not have anticipated. So whether you are subscribed to my blog, post comments and banter with me about food, have shared your personal story, or just read quietly and scan the recipes, I am thankful you have been a part of it!

As of this morning:

  • I have 305 people following my blog!
  • I’ve had 74,807 page visits!
  • This is my 96th post!
  • I’ve had visitors from 124 countries!

So to continue with the numbers… here is a list of:
45 Things I Have Learned This Year

  1. It’s not always easy to go against the grain (pun intended :)) but it IS worth it.
  2. My family is awesome, and I am very grateful that we all do this together!
  3. Wheat is a toxic, manipulated substance, and NOT a food fit for human consumption.
  4. Large corporations do NOT have your best interests in mind, so be proactive and educate yourself.
  5. Wheat Belly, Primal, and Paleo ways of eating have more in common than not.
  6. When in doubt, eat food without labels.
  7. Stay away from the Gluten-free aisle at the grocery store; it’s a Carbohydrate Hell Hole.
  8. Just because the USDA or the FDA approves something, does NOT mean it’s healthy.
  9. Men seem to lose weight more quickly on this diet (any diet?) than women.
  10. Brussels sprouts are an awesome food, and I am very sorry I hated them my whole life.
  11. The scale is a tool, not a God. Remember to use a tape measure too.
  12. It takes time for your body image to catch up with reality when you’ve lost weight.
  13. Almond flour is awesome, but for those trying to lose weight, moderation is the key.
  14. The friends I’ve made online who also eat grain-free are an invaluable source of support and information, and I am very thankful to know them!
  15. Conventional wisdom regarding nutrition is deeply flawed; many dieticians are brainwashed and many doctors care nothing at all about nutrition.
  16. I enjoy writing and blogging and think it’s one of the best things I have ever done!
  17. Weight loss doesn’t usually occur in straight line, and plateaus can be valuable for learning how to maintain.
  18. One size does not fit all; we need to tweak and experiment and be open-minded.
  19. Dark chocolate is one of the best things in the whole world. (OK I already knew that one ;))
  20. There will be people who are hungry for the message, so share freely.
  21. There will be people who need the message most who are not open to it. Move on.
  22. Learning the language of the body is an art, and it takes time to fully interpret what it has to say.
  23. Don’t be surprised if wheat isn’t the only thing that you need to eliminate to feel your best.
  24. Headaches and joint pain are NOT caused by a deficiency of Motrin.
  25. Chronic inflammation is the cause of MOST chronic complaints, and it’s mainly caused by diet.
  26. You will have good days and bad days, congratulate yourself and forgive yourself.
  27. What works for a friend may or may not work for you. We all arrive at today with different health backgrounds and genetics.
  28. There is wheat in places you would never think to look; avoiding all packages is best.
  29. There is no natural sweetener that tastes like sugar to me, but some do a decent job.
  30. My Ninja blender kicks butt and I use it nearly every day.
  31. Zucchini “noodles” are awesome.
  32. Sometimes losing weight makes wrinkles appear… smile so that they blend in!
  33. We go through more eggs now than I ever thought possible.
  34. Cholesterol is no more responsible for heart disease than a Band-Aid is responsible for the burn it covers.
  35. Coconut oil is one of the most versatile substances! For sautéing, for baking, for skin, for hair… it rocks.
  36. Avocadoes and cauliflower are able to be virtually neutral and can be used in ways I never thought of before.
  37. Having an ice cream maker is a GREAT thing.
  38. Thrift stores and consignment shops are a valuable source for clothing when you are dropping sizes and don’t want to spend a fortune.
  39. Giving up wheat didn’t cure my resistance to exercise (gasp!) I guess this year I will work on that!
  40. Enjoying dining out is possible, just be careful and ask a lot of questions. Most servers have no clue.
  41. It’s best to focus on all the great things you CAN eat, rather than what you can’t.
  42. Most recipes can be tweaked to be wheat-free and low-carb if you are creative enough.
  43. Parmesan cheese and almond flour as a “breading” is yummier than Panko ever was.
  44. Even dogs do better on a grain-free diet.
  45. There are some people who will think you are completely insane. That’s more than OK! 😀

I know I missed a bunch… so what would YOU add to this list?

 

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Which nutritional myths have you mistaken for fact?

 

This is something I haven’t done before, so please forgive me for relying on someone else’ writing and effort, but since this article does a great job of mentioning some of the most rampant myths in conventional wisdom regarding nutrition, that I have to POST IT HERE.

Kris Gunnars debunks the nutritional lies that say:

  • Eggs are unhealthy
  • Saturated fat is bad for you
  • Everybody should be eating grains
  • Eating a lot of protein is bad for your bones and kidneys
  • Low fat foods are good for you
  • You should eat many small meals throughout the day
  • Carbs should be your biggest source of calories
  • High omega-6 seed and vegetable oils are good for you
  • Low carbs diets are dangerous
  • Sugar is unhealthy because it contains “empty” calories
  • High fat foods will make you fat

Each of these items can be greatly expanded upon, of course, but this is a good starting point to share with those who are still afraid of eggs, fats, cholesterol and believe that they are eating healthy by making up most of their diet with processed, carb-heavy foods.

Following a diet based on eating whole foods and healthy fats (such as “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis or the “Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson) are good places to begin reading to put these learnings into practice!

 

 

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HFLC Fat Bombs! Zesty Lemon Cream and Chocolate Almond Butter {Grain-free, Gluten-free, Low-carb}

Fat Bombs

Fat Bombs… Although they look and taste as decadent as something from a forbidden confectionery boutique, they play a crucial role in the HFLC diet, providing an important source of energy in the form of healthy fats. YAY!!

 

HFLC: translation, High Fat Low Carb Diet!

I never thought I would use the words “fat bomb” in a sentence that had to do with my daily food intake, but there it is! If you are an experienced low-carber, you may familiar with the concept… and if you have been hanging around the Wheat Belly Facebook page lately, you may have already seen amazing versions of these two recipes.

When restricting oneself to a very low carb diet for the purpose of burning body fat, it’s important to replace those carbs with fat as the primary energy source. Intellectually, I “know” this, but I have been struggling with getting enough fat in my diet. While the methods I started a couple of weeks ago to break my weight loss stall did work and I lost 2 new pounds, I still feel that I am too low in my intake of healthy fats.

Enter the FAT BOMB! They are concoctions of healthy fats (coconut oil, butter, cream cheese, nut butters) that taste great and help us to get enough fat in a day. These are just 2 variations on a theme, and I do not take credit for originating them at all… I merely tweaked them, photographed my outcome, and am passing on information to others who are likely going through the same learning process that I am. I already have other variations in my mind (maple extract and toasted pecans instead of lemon juice? cashew butter instead of almond? we’ll see!) Feel free to tinker with these yourself, but be aware, they are addictive!

Do you have any favorite combination of ingredients for Fat Bombs?

 

Lemon Fat Bomb with Walnuts and Lemon Zest

Lemon Fat Bomb with Walnuts and Lemon Zest

Lemon Bombs

  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4Tb butter, softened
  • 4Tb coconut oil (I used unrefined, virgin)
  • 2Tb sour cream
  • 1/2 lemon (@4tsp juice)
  • 4tsp Truvia or sweetener of choice to desired sweetness
  • nuts or zest, or any other mix-ins (optional)

Start by creaming together the cream cheese and butter, then add other ingredients one at a time and mix well in between. I like mine sweet/sour, so you may have to adjust your flavors to your taste. I have made them using the wells of a small muffin-top pan (pictured) but also have used mini muffin cups. Freeze until firm, pop out and refrigerate.
Note: The first time I made them plain but topped with almonds; this last time I added in some chopped walnuts into the mix and a little dried lemon zest on top. I really liked the crunch from the walnuts. I got 8 from this, and I figure it’s less than 1g carb per bomb!! (I think 5g for the batch.)

 

Nut Butter Bomb with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts

Nut Butter Bomb with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts

Nut Butter Bombs

  • 4Tb butter
  • 1/2C plain almond butter
  • 1/2C coconut oil (I used unrefined, virgin)
  • 3 tsp Truvia
  • couple pinches of kosher salt
  • Dark choclate melted if desired
  • Nuts or other toppings, mix-ins (optional)

I warmed it in the microwave for maybe 30 seconds and then whisked together. I used a muffin top pan and got 8 out of this recipe. (Plain, about 2.5g net carbs per… with a little melted dark chocolate, it was 4.25g)

 

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My Favorite Guacamole!

My Favorite Guacamole

My Favorite Guacamole! Avocados are an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and folate, along with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6. The many different anti-oxidants found in avocados help prevent inflammation.

Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

Baby Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

This is a guacamole recipe that I tweaked years ago, and I am often asked for the recipe when I take it to parties to share with friends. It’s naturally grain-free, gluten-free, Wheat Belly and primal friendly.

Tonight I’ve made a 1/2 batch to serve on grilled burgers with melted muenster cheese and grain-free, low-carb buns. Mmmmmm! It’s also great as a dip for veggies, low-carb cheese crackers and even pork rinds 😉 Low-Carb and lovin’ it!

The Low-carb bun recipe isn’t mine; it was posted by a fellow WB cook on the Wheat Belly Recipe Central page if you’d like to have a look! Check the “posts by others.”

My Favorite Guacamole

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 medium vidalia or white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 canned roasted chipotle pepper, seeded and diced (or use fresh hot pepper to taste)
  • 1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

 

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Kale Crisps… A Great Snack That’s Low-Carb, Grain-free, Sugar-free and Dairy-free!

If you are following the Wheat Belly plan, eating Paleo, Primal, going low-carb, or just trying to boost your daily dose of nutrient-rich veggies, this recipe is for you!

Baked Kale Crisps

Kale is an incredibly nutritious green that has enjoyed a surge of popularity in the world of healthy eating. Some people love it raw in salads, while others are digging it in juice or smoothies. I will admit that I am SOOO not one of those people!

I have *wanted* to enjoy kale, because I just love knowing that the food I am eating is fueling my body and giving me nutrients that support increased health. However, I was never able to fall in love with the slightly bitter flavor or tough texture. Now that I have FINALLY tried making kale chips, all that has changed! They are crispy, flavorful and nearly as addictive as eating potato chips without the carbs and hydrogenated oils… YAY! Even better, my teenage son loved them, and they are easy to make. I think I have finally found a substitute for popcorn while watching movies!

 

If you need a little more convincing to take a stab at making these, here are some facts that might persuade you:

RICH IN VITAMIN K~ Kale belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and all are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants. However, kale has even more of the cancer-fighting vitamin K, weighing in at more than 1000% of recommended daily allowance of K per cup! In addition to reducing cancer risk, K also is known for supporting bone health and regulating the clotting abilities in blood.

LOADED WITH VITAMIN A~ Another vitamin that maintains bone health is vitamin A. It also aids in vision, red blood cell production and tissue repair. One cup will provide 180% of daily requirements of A.

GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN C~ With about twice as much vitamin C as an average orange, a cup of kale is giving you 200% RDA of this important nutrient. If you’re on a low-carb diet, kale can get you the C you need without spiking your blood sugar!

PACKED WITH ANTI-OXIDANTS~ Carotenoids and Flavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants that protect the body against various cancers. These are also great for promoting the health of your eyes!

HIGH IN IRON, CALCIUM & B6~ Containing more iron per calorie than steak, and more calcium per calorie than milk, kale is a nutritional powerhouse that just keeps on giving! With the added bonus of plenty of B6 for supporting immune system health and nervous system function, it’s a veggie not to be overlooked.

Trimming kale for oven-baked crisps.

Trimming kale for oven-baked crisps. I used sharp kitchen shears to make the job easy. At the left are the discarded center ribs that are too tough to enjoy.

There are numerous recipes all over the internet, with various oven temps and bake times, and using different oils and seasonings, and the following is my own adaptation. I felt that by keeping the temp on the low side, I would avoid scorching them, and would retain a few more nutrients than if they were cooked more quickly at a higher heat.

Baked Kale Crisps

  • Kale, with tough center stems removed and cut into pieces. Dried thoroughly.
  • Oil for coating. (I used coconut oil for added health benefits.)
  • Seasonings of your choice. (I used kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic powder.)

Directions: Heat oven to 275 degrees. Spread kale pieces on a baking sheet and toss in a tablespoon or so of oil to coat. Season as you wish and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir/flip kale, return to oven for another 8-10 minutes. My kale crisps were slightly darker when they were done than when they went in, very light and very crispy!

Collander full of washed and dried kale that has been trimmed of the tough center rib.

Colander full of washed and dried kale that has been trimmed of the tough center rib.

 

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How to SHOP When Going Grain-Free and Sugar-Free

Fresh Produce at a Farm Market 

Going only gluten free will definitely have some health benefits, but if you want to lose weight and feel even healthier, I strongly suggest going grain-free and sugar free, not just gluten-free. (We follow The “Wheat Belly” plan by Dr. William Davis, though this is also essentially a primal diet which Mark Sisson promotes)

The reason for suggesting grain-free and sugar-free, is that the GF (gluten-free) processed foods are made of alternative grains and they are every bit as high carb and bad for you as wheat products. We avoid GF packaged foods like the plague! They are the reason that going GF gets a bad rap in the press, and why some claim that going GF causes you to miss out on key nutrients. If you replace processed wheat foods with processed wheat-free foods, the improvement to your diet is minimal. However, if you fill that gap in the diet with more healthy food (which is naturally gluten-free), the payoff is incredible. You will not lose out on nutrients from bread (which are ADDED in the first place), if you eat in a smart way. How anyone can doubt that ditching processed foods (with all of their sugars, chemicals, colorants and toxins) is a GREAT idea for anyone, is completely beyond me!

Friends often ask what we eat, and what to shop for, to get started. Remember, the best way to eat right, is to keep ONLY compliant foods in your fridge and pantry. That way, even if you are tempted to indulge, it will be with good foods. Shopping at Farmer’s Markets and Meat Markets is part of my weekly routine.

We (husband and I) eat very few beans/legumes because they are high in carbohydrates, and often cause intestinal distress. Rice is a rarity that I save for sushi maybe once a month, but it is also high in carbs and we don’t purchase it for the pantry. We have stopped eating corn (partly because it’s a high-carb grain, but also because corn now contains its own pesticide within its DNA structure!) We don’t eat sugar either. The whole point of eating this way is to avoid BSS, which are blood sugar spikes that release insulin. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. The idea is very similar to Atkins or South Beach Diets, but grains are never added back into the lifestyle. You want to get to the point where your body begins burning fats as fuel, instead of carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s important to get enough fat in your diet, and eat plenty of food, just not high-carb foods.  The goal is to keep NET carbs (carbohydrate grams minus fiber grams) between 20-50g a day during the weight loss stage.

Within the first few days you will probably notice immediate relief from bloating and may lose a few pounds of water weight right off the bat. (My brother lost 17 lbs the first WEEK! Unheard of, but it happened.) Some people experience withdrawals from wheat, because it is actually addictive. I didn’t go through that, but my husband did for about 2 weeks. Even if you do experience a tough week, stick with it, it’s worth it!

THIS IS WHAT I BUY:

~All kinds of meat, chicken, beef, pork (bacon is fine), fish, seafood. Grass-fed, free-range, organic and wild-caught are the best choices if you can afford them, but not necessary.
 
~Eggs… we eat them almost daily and try to buy free-range, organic

~Real cultured cheeses, Swiss, cheddar, blue, Parmesan, etc (just meaning real cheese, not Velveeta or processed types)

~Full fat dairy, such as sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, mayo, heavy whipping cream. We eat these in moderation. Avoid skim and low fat milk as well, as it’s loaded with sugar and carbs.

~Above ground (non-starchy) veggies, LOTS. We eat plenty of green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cukes, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, pea pods, etc… So everything except potatoes, corn (grain!), carrots, etc

~Greens like lettuces, cabbages, kale etc, fall in love with salads!

~Avocados, important source of fat and omega 3

~Nuts and nut butters, especially almonds and walnuts, but others are good too. Just not too many peanuts.

~Dark chocolate 70-85% is fine in moderation; I have a couple squares most days and use it in recipes.

~Healthy fats and oils. We rely most on coconut oil and butter. Refined coconut oil is less expensive and doesn’t taste like coconut; Virgin unrefined coconut oil costs more and tastes coconutty (I love it.) Olive oil is good, walnut oil too. Avoid canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and other vegetable oils, hydrogenation is VERY bad.

~Flax seed, ground. It’s good for adding omega 3’s. I use it sometimes in crackers or smoothies. It’s kind of nutty, and I think it’s an acquired taste.

~Almond flour and perhaps coconut flour if you want to bake something. I have several recipes on the blog. Avoid rice flour, sorghum, tapioca, potato… all very high carb and starchy.

~For sweeteners, I mainly use Truvia, but also some Stevia and Erythritol (which I order online, it’s a sugar alcohol) as they don’t cause BSS. Honestly, I don’t crave sweets as much as I used to, so it’s mainly Truvia in my coffee or a smoothie, but also a little in desserts sometimes.

~Fruit in moderation. All types of berries are the best choices. We eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. Avoid the high-sugar tropical fruits like banana, mango, pineapple, papaya, or just have very rarely.

Tuscan Shrimp and VeggiesSo, that’s a basic run-down, but I am sure I have forgotten something. A typical meal for us is some type of meat with one or two veggies on the side, prepared in different ways, often with butter and cheese of some kind. We love creative salads. If you want sandwiches, we often use lettuce to wrap meat and cheese in with fixings. Stir-fries are great choices! (Try my Tuscan Shrimp.). Grilling meat and veggies is good, as is baking. You can pan fry fish, chicken breast and pork chops using coconut oil (only), and coating the meat in eggs/mayo and pressing into a mix of grated Parmesan and almond flour with seasonings. (Or try the baked Parmesan Perch as a basis for other meats.) Super easy, very low carb.
The hardest thing is just not over-thinking it, and getting used to eating REAL food, and knowing which things will spike blood sugar. Focus on what you can eat, instead of thinking about what you can’t. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂 or join many like me over on the Wheat Belly Facebook page! Seriously, it’s amazing that a best-selling author and cardiologist like Dr. William Davis has such an active FB page where he actually comments on posts from his followers. THAT is commitment!

My husband and I have been following this plan for 5 months this week… and I have lost 27 lbs; Mitch has lost 31. Most of that happened in the first 2.5-3 months. I know I would lose more if I was perfect with it, but I still enjoy  wine/cocktails which will stall weight loss 😉 Just remember that while weight loss is GREAT, the health benefits from following this plan are almost too numerous to mention!!!

I hope that this helps for those that want to get started and need to SHOP!!

 

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Cinnamon Almond Snack Cookies {Grain Free, Vegan, Low Carb}

You know those roasted cinnamon almonds you find at festivals? The ones that make your mouth water just smelling them… but you know they are loaded with sugar and carbs, so you just pretend that smelling them is enough?

Well, you don’t have to fake it anymore! When these cookies were baking, my kitchen smelled just like cinnamon almonds, mmmm. They are made with almond butter and almond flour, as well as sugar substitutes to keep the carbs low. In fact, the carbs are SO low, that I added 70% dark chocolate, and they are still only 2.6g net carbs per cookie. No guilt or grain here!

I found that the dough was a bit sticky feeling, and slightly oily as I shaped the balls, but it turned out nicely. I tested a few different types in the batch I just made… one plain, cross-hatched like peanut butter cookies, one with chocolate pressed into the center, and one with chocolate and toasted almonds. No surprise that I liked that last version the most! I also sprinkled just a little large-flake kosher salt on them at the very end to set the chocolate off. If you like a mildly sweet cookie, I would start with the lower amounts of sweeteners, if you like it sweeter, adjust to your taste. I like mine a little less-sweet, as my tastes have changed over the past months. This is a slightly chewy, medium-dense cookie, pretty filling.

I’d also like to note that this is the first recipe that I have made with the blanched almond flour that I just bought at our local bulk store (Countryview for those in my area!) and so far I like it! The grind seems similar to the flour from Nuts.com, and the price is $4.79 per pound.

Cinnamon Almond Snack Cookies

  • 1/2 C almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tb coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2-3 Tb Truvia (I used 2)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C almond flour
  • 2-3 Tb powdered erythritol (I used 2)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 Dark chocolate squares (optional) or vegan chocolate
  • toasted almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and mix well.
  2. Sift together almond flour, erythritol, baking soda and salt, and add to almond butter mixture.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with baking parchment.
  4. Flatten balls into discs with your fingers. Wet fingers slightly if the dough is too sticky.
  5. If using chocolate squares, chop each square into 4 quarters, and press one piece into each cookie.
  6. Bake for 3 minutes, and then remove from oven if using toasted almonds.
  7. Place nuts on top of the chocolate, rotate pan, and return to oven for 5-8 minutes for a total cooking time of 8-11 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
    Makes about 20 cookies. 1.6g net carbs per cookie plain, 2.6 per cookie with chocolate pieces.

 

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Jumping Plateaus and Updating the Blog

It has been a rather busy week, and I am a bit behind on posting here, although it’s certainly been on my mind! In fact, yesterday, I gave the About Me/Contact page a serious update as it was definitely overdue. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t sure quite where it would go, or how the grain free lifestyle would suit us, never mind would I enjoy doing it enough to continue! Well, the good news is that you aren’t rid of me yet, it seems I am still finding things to say and cook 😉

This past weekend was wonderful, spent up north in Michigan with friends, enjoying campfires and lazy tubing down the Au Sable River. We had a great time, shared lots of laughs and good food. But… I also gained 5lbs! I know it was too many fruity drinks and being off my game for food choices, indulging in a few too many carbs (though no gluten or grain.) The good news though, is that it’s just 3 days later, I got serious about my plan again, and the weight is gone already… YAY me!! This is especially exciting because I have been on a weight-loss stall. I think I need to talk about that with you.

What about those pesky PLATEAUS??

The thing that I always stress to people when talking about this style of eating, is that weight loss is a side effect of cutting the carbs, but that getting rid of the wheat and grain toxins is what has had the most profound effect on my health. While that is absolutely true, and I feel like a new person especially without the severe chronic headaches and joint pain, I am like any other girl (or boy!), and would love to reach a more ideal weight!

So while I don’t eat grains now, and very little sugar, I realize that I also need to tweak my food in order to keep losing. The first 3 months I dropped 25lbs, rather easily. The past month or so, however, I have only been maintaining. Easily maintaining, but a plateau none the less.

I have at least 25lbs left to lose (halfway there, maybe!) So…  I have been examining my diet more closely and looking for causes for the weight loss stall, and possible solutions. The following list is what I have come up with:

  • I am eating more fruit than I should (it’s so good in season!)… so I am going to severely cut my fruit intake for the next week to see if that will help. I can add some of this back for weight maintenance or after my fat-burning is jump-started again.
  • I have been indulging in too much wine and hard cider drinks. Not constantly, but I have a feeling that even a glass or 2 of those carbs a couple times a week is undoing potential progress… so no booze this coming week! Not so easy when there are fun summer gatherings with friends, cookouts and hot days, but I think it’s probably key. So instead…
  • I am going to drink more water, as I have read about how much dehydration can slow weight loss as well as inhibit other important bodily functions. I will also drink more lemon water for vitamin C and aiding in digestion and detox.
  • I *try* to eat enough fat, but I think that I am still not getting as much as I need to have in order to really be in ketosis. I am upping the coconut oil, bacon and butter to see if intentionally eating more will have an effect. I have a feeling it will. It is so contrary to the low-fat mentality we have been brain-washed with, but to burn fat as fuel, the body needs fat!
  • I am working on getting better sleep.I have a tendency to wake after just half a nights’ sleep, and then toss or lay there the rest of the night. I know that proper sleep is important in weight loss, so this is something that has to be addressed. I broke down and took something to help me sleep twice this week, and it really helped me feel better. Last night, instead, I decided it was time to add the

    After a walk with my son today at the woodland park. What a beautiful day!

    Magnesium Malate to my supplement regimen, as it is supposed to help with rest as well as a number of other issues. I found that I slept well last night with the Magnesium, so will continue and see if it improves my rest overall.

  • I am also going to monitor my dairy intake because I know that it has an insulin-stimulating effect in some people (insulin is the fat storage hormone.) Going to try going a little lighter on the cheeses while adding veggies and other fats.
  • I am active, and yet I know I don’t exercise enough. I’m not talking about anything strenuous, but getting out to walk or ride my bike more often will help… if not the weight loss, I know it will help my attitude and stress levels! Today, my son went with me to a local woodland park along the river, and we walked for a good 45 minutes on trails where we could enjoy nature. It was great and we both agreed we need to go a few times a week.

OK, so after making my list, I have a game plan!

  1. Nix the fruit (for now)
  2. Nix the booze 😉
  3. Drink more water and lemon water.
  4. Increase fats for ketosis.
  5. Take Magnesium for improved sleep.
  6. Decrease dairy.
  7. Get moving, walk.

That all sounds rather do-able! I think that once I break the stall and get back fully to burning fats again, I should be able to lighten up on the fruit and wine restrictions. I’ve got to have something to hope for anyway!

 

It’s your turn to share:

What have you done to successfully break a plateau when losing weight? I have heard lots of abstract suggestions (such as switch it up, shock the system, etc), but I am interested in which ones specifically have worked for you now or in the past? If you are on a plateau now, and want to get back to losing weight, what are some of the things you will try? I am hoping to see some interesting ideas from you all!

 

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Pizza: Cheese-Crusted, Gluten-free, Grain-free!

Now, if you are not a low-carber, you may want to avert your eyes…

No really, do it now. I’ll wait.

If you are still reading, I am going to assume that a pizza crust made with 3 kinds of cheese, eggs, and no flour is RIGHT up your alley! I will admit that while I am 99% grain free (other than an occasional delectable sushi roll, oops) even I was feeling a little guilty with this cheesy indulgence, but it sure was good!

Many of you have either found me through my posts on the Wheat Belly blog or Facebook page, and even if you found me through the wonderful world of food and health blogging, you likely know how enthusiastic I am about the wheat free lifestyle! One of the cool things about being part of a thriving Wheat Belly (WB) community online is that everyone is more than happy to share their experiences, advice and recipe tips! In a recent post, after I suggested the Socca Pizza crust with Garbanzo flour, a fellow WB’er shared her favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe (which is veryyyy low carb), and I gave it a whirl… YUMMO!

So, since one good turn deserves another, I am sharing the link to the original page HERE, at Gluten Free Easily, with pictures of a very classic-looking pepperoni pizza. I will definitely have to make this version when I have pepperoni on hand, but since I didn’t, I improvised with what I did have.

Here you see the crust ingredients spread into a parchment-lined pan.

Cooked up and ready to be decked out!

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

Wilted spinach and garlic.

Our Pizza toppings included: spinach sauteed with minced garlic, sauteed crimini mushrooms, left-over pork chop, thinly diced and crisped in a pan, and some crumbled feta cheese, along with the Organicville spaghetti sauce and some shredded mozzarella cheese mixed with chopped fresh basil.

Our first cheese crust pizza! Mushrooms on one half only 😉

 

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