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FLOUR CHART: How Gluten Free Flours Compare for Carbs and Protein Content

Flour Comparison Chart for Carbs and Protein Content

The figures above are based on a serving size of 1/4 cup (4 Tb).   **You are welcome to borrow this chart and information for your site, please just link back here, thanks!

Are you running out of room for your gluten free flours?
Confused about which are healthiest?

This is an article that I have been intending to write for quite some time to help gluten free cooks and bakers make smart choices when it comes to navigating the wide world of flours! There is no question that there are more flours available now, commercially, than at any other time. People are not only interested in expanding home cooking and culinary adventures, but are savvier when it comes to nutrition and the benefits of food-based wellness. Many of us are learning how to cater to food intolerances in our home kitchens and taking responsibility for eating well. There are an almost overwhelming variety of flours, starches and meals which can be combined or used alone to bake, thicken and coat. You may think that flour is flour and that some are merely gluten free or grain free, but the truth runs deeper than that.

There is some confusion about flours versus starches. In some cases (such as with tapioca flour/starch) they are one and the same, perhaps because tapioca is virtually all starch to begin with. In general though, the difference between starches and flours seems to be that flours are made from dried and ground grains (or tubers or nuts) and have the protein and fiber intact, whereas the starches have the fiber and protein removed, leaving nearly pure carbohydrates. Starches are excellent for smoothly thickening sauces and gravies, and are often ingredients in gluten free baking mixtures. However, people who are aiming for a low-carb diet, either for weight loss or because they are diabetic (or want to avoid BECOMING diabetic) will find that starches and certain flours quickly topple the daily allowances and spike blood sugars.

Flours and meals are not created equally (since all foods are not created equally) and flours are merely ground up versions of the food as a whole. You will notice that the flours made from nuts and legumes are in the top of my chart, having the lowest net carbs and highest protein counts. Starches and rice flours which are often used in gluten free baking are at the bottom of my chart because they have such high carb counts and very little protein.

You can also see by the placement of traditional flours that even if you are not on a gluten free diet, wheat flours are far from the healthiest of choices! For instance, even whole wheat flour (which seems to be the darling of the grain industry), has more than SIX times the net carbs of almond flour. Pastry flour which is found in many commercial baked goods has NINE times as much. All those carbs convert to sugar, which spikes insulin… repeated insulin spikes lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to diabetes, visceral fat, inflammation and obesity.

While it is true that the healthiest alternative flours require different methods of preparation and even to some degree their very own recipes, it is well worth the effort to learn to bake with them. My personal favorite flours are almond flour, coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, flax meal and occasionally buckwheat flour. I am open to learning more, always, and that list very well may expand in the near future!

ABOUT THIS CHART:  I have created the chart above to summarize some of the common (and uncommon) flours that are frequently used in gluten free baking, as well as to compare them to the old standards (in red, not gluten free.) This chart uses Bob’s Red Mill products nutritional information as a source because it was readily available online; however, this is not a specific endorsement of their products. I do use Bob’s Red Mill occasionally, but I also use Nuts.com as well other specialty brands and bulk products.  Other manufacturers may vary somewhat, but because the flours are derived from the same sources, the numbers should be similar, and the spot checking I did to compare to other brands showed the exact same results.  The ratings are my own opinion only, based on net carbs and protein.

Serving size in the chart above is ¼ cup (4TB).  Number values represent grams (other than calories.) Note that Net Carbs is equal to Total Carbs minus Fiber, which is why flax meal can have a net carb count of zero.  Low Net Carbs and high Proteins are the best choices when looking to keep blood sugar levels balanced; even though that may mean the flour is higher in calories, it also means that it is much more filling, and it doesn’t drive cravings. While this chart may be a good starting point, obviously these numbers don’t tell the whole story, and different flours have different nutritional benefits unique to their source, and I hope to highlight some of my favorites in upcoming articles. When choosing flours, personal taste is also a major factor, as the flavors can be quite different from the wheat flours we have been conditioned to eat.

I hope that this answers some questions that you may have had about why I, or other gluten free bloggers, choose the flours that we do, and helps you to make good choices in your own kitchen! Stay tuned for a super delicious PIZZA recipe featuring garbanzo bean flour very soon 🙂  This is a socca style done in a pan or on a griddle, and met with rave reviews from the guys…

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Gracious living and Peonies for me, please! (…and thank you)

I am so happy that my peonies are opening. Finally! They seem to be the last on the block to be breaking out of their tight buds, and I think it’s just because I have been waiting (un)patiently for it to happen! The peony is one of my very favorite flowers, I find them so beautiful and old fashioned. A giant bouquet is such a romantic sight, and some are as fragrant as roses.The big gathered bouquets are so blowsy and casual, but so, so pretty.

I can’t help but cut flowers when summer begins, and fill my house with vases… large, tiny, tall and slender or short and squatty, I love them ALL and put them in nearly every room. I have a tendency to pick up old or pretty vases at garage sales and flea markets even though I don’t actually need them, just because knowing they will be filled with flowers, makes me HAPPY!

A bouquet definitely doesn’t have to be from a flower shop to make me smile (though in the winter it is a welcome treat), I love it just as much (probably more) when my husband stops at the roadside to pick a bunch of colorful blooms just because he knows they will tickle me! I get that same satisfaction from cutting from my flowers and herbs in the yard; there is just something about being thankful and bringing them inside to enjoy up close and personal that makes me think of simple gracious living.

By gracious, I do NOT mean fancy or expensive, but rather living in an aware way that makes a house feel like a home. To me, it’s small things like candles and flowers, a bowl of nuts on the table, pretty plates from a tag sale or discount shop, or tablecloths that make things seem just a little bit more intentional. I think that it is a version of “taking the time to smell the roses” or peonies, or lemon balm, or a campfire, that makes each day feel special, even when things are stressful or hurried. Sitting in the backyard with a glass of iced tea or lemon water, or coffee in the morning at the beginning of the day just gives me a bit of peace to carry with me. 🙂  I feel that being in the moment and being grateful, soaking up the small things in life, are just as important to good health and well-being as feeding our bodies the right nutrients. A daily dose of Vitamin T, thankfulness!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Photos, Thankfulness

 

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The Dangers of Wheat, Don’t Let Addiction Fool You.

Life is…

When talking to interested (but skeptical) people, about my family’s experience being gluten free, a phrase that comes up a LOT in regards to giving up wheat, even for a week-long trial, is:

“Life is too short to go without the things I love!”

In other words: “I deserve to enjoy my favorite foods and beverages in whatever shape and quantity I desire because it makes me happy right now. And I deserve to be happy! I work hard, I deserve pleasure and treats. Besides, I feel fine. Wheat isn’t hurting me. If I was sick, maybe I would consider it.”

When you look around at the health of our nation and our world, it is becoming more and more clear that this feeling of entitlement in combination with addictive substances, has created a deadly trend. There is more obesity and diabetes in adults and children than there has ever been. Auto-immune diseases are telling us that our bodies are fighting hard against things in our environment that we aren’t even aware of. When our immune system resources are being taxed so much by daily living, we have fewer resources left to fight off other threats to our health. While it is true that there are many potential hazards in our environments, there isn’t one that enters your system as directly and consistently as food, nor is there one over which we can exercise more control than our individual diets.

Hmmmm. I don’t know about you, but I am going to be 43 next month, and I have plans to be around until I’m between 85 and 105 😀  If something out of my control happens in the meantime, so be it, but I plan to do my part to be in good health for those remaining 42-62 years!!! I say:

“Life is too LONG to go without the things I love!”

The things I love happen to be health, peace of mind, wellness, love itself, creativity, freedom, energy, and to be a positive example to my son as well as other people in my life and world. I think that being deprived of these things is much worse than skipping pizza or making the vast majority of my meals at home. Looking at the big picture, those things are much more important to me than having convenient fast food, toxic carbs and sugars which create a temporary high, followed by regret and ill feelings. I want to control my food, not be controlled BY it.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the mindset that forgoing a certain food (or even material possession) equals deprivation. I mean, that is what our society is trained to believe since birth. Brainwashing us (err… I mean, Marketing) towards unhealthy foods as being “popular”, “exciting” and “hip”, starts when we are small children and continues… well, forever. Do you see cartoon characters advertising fresh produce? Did you ever dig to the bottom of a bag of carrots to find a toy? Or see a commercial where a bunch of trendy 20-somethings are sitting around discussing the benefits of eating greens every day, juicing or going without sugar? I haven’t. The Jolly Green Giant was probably the closest thing to a veggie mascot, and I miss him!

Back to the deprivation mindset… mindset and education is where we first need to make our changes. Having facts to build on, and then adjusting our perspective, is key to making lasting changes. So is imagination. It can be only a few small steps from imagining yourself in a healthy lifestyle and enjoying being free from pain (or fatigue, or excess weight, or…) and actually being there! It takes a dedication to your vision, because it might not be a one-step fix. There is much empowerment to be had by taking those first mental steps and then seeing the results. There is a quote I liked from a movie called The Edge with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin… “What one man can do, another can do.” Meaning that the difference is in determination and drive, not in ability in most cases. It’s down to wanting and needing to do something. Making up your mind.

Argument for Deleting the Wheat

Even if you don’t suspect you are gluten intolerant, or haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, understanding the toxicity of wheat can be enlightening. Don’t believe the hype from some that gluten is a trendy new allergen. It is a toxin, and it is not digestible whether or not you have celiac disease!

A large part of the problem is that wheat products are so deeply ingrained (haha, punny) into the fabric of our society that it seems incomprehensible that they could be literally toxic. I had a hard time coming to terms with that concept at first too, but reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis really made a difference to my understanding. According to Davis (and supported by facts and research), the wheat of today is not the wheat of our ancestors; it has been changed a multitude of times through hybridization.

While hybridizing is not the same as genetic modification (GMOs, think Monsanto), it still changes the properties and composition of a plant from what it was before. A certain amount of this happens in nature on its own from cross-pollination, so on the surface it seems harmless. Scientists approach hybridizing with certain goals; in the case of wheat it was to enlarge the seed head to increase yield. When that was accomplished, further changes needed to be made to keep the wheat stalk from buckling over under the weight of the heavy tops, which ruined harvests. So now, instead of the “amber waves of grain” of our forebears, and 4 foot tall wheat plants, today’s wheat is about 2 feet tall on a stocky, sturdy plant.

This all sounds good so far… and it is good from a standpoint of increased production and being able to feed more people with less land (a noble goal, indeed.) However, not all the changes in wheat are ones that can be seen with the naked eye. The changes on the outside also changed the nutritive makeup on the inside, causing the gluten content to skyrocket. In fact, NEW glutens are present in modern wheat that were not present in the “parents” that it came from.

So what? Well, humans have evolved at a much slower pace in the sense that our digestive systems have not changed to keep pace with the new wheat. In fact, when wheat underwent all this modification, no studies were done to check that the end product was even fit for human consumption! I suppose it was just assumed that it would break down in the same ways as the old wheat, and that all was good. Unfortunately, that is not the case, which leads us to the current state of recognizing gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

The changes in wheat are one aspect, but the effects are compounded by the fact that wheat is no longer just eaten as a grain or in a piece of bread like our ancestors did… this ubiquitous grain is used everywhere in a myriad of products, in places you might not even think to look. This push of wheat (which is now plentiful and cheap thanks to the hybridization to increase yield) into so many processed foods has dangerously increased our exposure to gluten. Our bodies treat gluten as a toxic substance which triggers an immune system response, and leads to a host of health issues. On top of that, add in the addictive properties of wheat which cause us to crave more wheat-containing products and calories.

Addictive, I say? YES. Not just because we are in the habit of having bread and cereal and sweets, but because wheat is literally addictive in the sense that when it is digested, it results in certain polypeptides that cross into the brain and bind to opiate receptors. OPIATE RECEPTORS? Yep. As in drugs. Grains without gluten do not have the same effect… so this is an issue specific to wheat (also rye, spelt, triticale.) The fact that wheat acts like an opiate in the brain would explain why people are so defensive about going without it! Whether we know it or not, even the most health-conscious among us is getting a “fix” from that morning slice of 9-grain toast (ok, that was my vice!) To take this WHEAT as OPIATE stance one step further, there have been studies done that prove that the opiate-blocking drugs naloxone and naltrexone can be used to block the brain response to the wheat-derived polypeptides which create addiction and out of control appetite. This makes it easier to understand why we go through withdrawal symptoms when we drop the wheat in favor of a gluten free diet! And you can bet that those drugs are being researched as potential diet medications! The problem is that even if we manage to block the opiate response in the brain, continuing to eat wheat will continue to wreak havoc inside the body.

The other major argument against wheat is in regards to the insulin effect, and it applies to other high carbohydrate foods as well. This includes sugary foods in addition to alternate flours like rice, tapioca, potato, sorghum, etc. That is why I have chosen to not only go gluten free, but low carb. Many people who realize that they are intolerant to gluten first mourn the loss of bread, pasta, crackers, doughnuts etc… but then rapidly turn to alternate flours or ready-made processed gluten free foods on the market as a substitute. (I did that for the first week or so myself, until I read Wheat Belly.) While it’s true that a gluten intolerant person can eat these and bypass the symptoms such as headache, joint pain and digestive issues, the substitutions are every bit as bad for blood sugar as wheat products are.

This leads to weight gain (or at least prevents weight loss) and continues the risk of developing chronic health conditions. Also, the type of weight (visceral fat) that is gained because of insulin spikes is the kind that one carries around their midsection, which not only shows on the outside, but also wraps and permeates the organs on the inside (liver, kidneys, pancreas), causing inflammation and preventing the release of protective molecules which normally aid the body in preventing heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. There is a lot of science behind this, and I strongly recommend Dr. Davis’ book for a thorough and understandable explanation.

This is the reason you will see that the few baked goods that I include in my blog are based on using almond or coconut flours which are very low carb and a good source of protein. I have no interest to go to the lengths I have to improve my health just to sabotage myself with insulin-spiking foods. I am not judging anyone else for sharing their delicious solutions to gluten free baking that include other types of flours and starches, but personally those do not match the goals I have set for myself. (I realize that not everyone wants to lose weight, but even those who aren’t overweight can develop insulin resistance through repeated spikes in blood sugar.)

Let me help, let the community help… You are NOT alone!

So why did I bother to write this article if I am already off the wheat? To help you. To make a difference. To spread the word. To start/continue a movement. To educate. To start a dialog. To reinforce my own commitment and share. To get to know you. Really.

While it’s true that I am busy helping myself and my family, I know that in the world community we can also help each other through some of the rough spots. It is my sincere belief that if even one person decides to try going gluten free to help relieve their migraines, or joint pain, or any other symptom, because of something I wrote, it is well worth every hour spent crafting these words. But I would be ecstatic to influence as many as possible!

My personal family testimony may or may not be convincing to you, as I know it amounts to anecdotal evidence, but I share an update here anyway:

  • I haven’t had a migraine in the 7 weeks since I went gluten free. (3-4x week prior.)
  • My IBS symptoms are slowly improving all the time.
  • My joint pain (shoulders, hips, knees) is gone.
  • I have lost 14 lbs so far.
  • I never feel deprived of food, and eat when I’m hungry. No cravings.
  • I am sleeping well.
  • My skin and hair looks and feels healthier.
  • I have more patience and less anxiety.
  • I have more energy and focus, less frequent brain fog.
  • My husband has lost 18 lbs so far.
  • He hasn’t had an incidence of acid reflux in 7 weeks. (suffered often after meals prior.)
  • He has much increased energy and confidence.
  • His chronic shoulder pain has eased tremendously.
  • My son has increased focus.
  • He has gained about 5 lbs so far. (He needs to gain, not lose.)
  • He eats more often, finishes his lunch instead of leaving it.
  • He sleeps better.
  • His skin is clearer.
  • His frequent “growing pains” have subsided.
  • He has a sense of control knowing he can make his own health decisions.

Hopefully your discovery or diagnosis of gluten intolerance or celiac disease will open up a world of health benefits and wonderful foods that far outweigh the perceived restrictions and limitations. Just think, it just might be the best you’ve ever felt!!

FOR FURTHER READING:

Wheat Belly, a book by Dr. William Davis, and his Wheat Belly Blog.
Gluten:Bad for us All, and article by Dr. Rodney Ford
The Dark Side of Wheat, Part I and Part II, by Sayer Ji

 

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Love to Graham Kerr and a Rant on Personal Nutrition Choices


As a self-proclaimed “Foodie”, you can bet that I have watched more than my share of cooking shows, read countless cookbooks and blogs, and have generally soaked up everything that I find interesting about food for a VERY long time. It wasn’t as if I discovered that I did better without wheat and gluten, and then suddenly decided to start cooking… it is something that I (and my husband) have been enthralled with forever, it seems. Along the way we have seen some true talents showcased in the cooking world, along with some that we just scratch our heads and wonder about. I want to give cheers to Graham Kerr here, who is definitely the former!

He was originally known as The Galloping Gourmet, an energetic television chef and author who is full of fun and frolic, using loads of heavy cream, butter, wine, and other decadent ingredients with full abandon and incredibly delicious results. Later in his career, his beloved wife, Treena, experienced severe health issues, and as a response to her nutrition needs, Kerr changed his tune and his theme, moving away from indulgence, to “Minimax”. Minimizing risk and maximizing color, aroma, texture and taste.

While the current eating style my family has adopted embraces certain fats and cheeses (of which Kerr  would likely NOT approve), and instead minimizes the carbohydrates and sugars, Graham’s philosophy of Minimax is with me in the kitchen every single day. I am always seeking to get the most of my ingredients by using fresh herbs, spices, citrus, flavorful cheeses, nuts, radiant vegetables, fresh cuts of meat or seafood, along with flavor-enhancing cooking techniques. He is one of my true Foodie Heroes, and I have endless amounts of admiration for him for taking a health challenge, and translating that challenge into more wonderful, life-giving meals, instead of feeling that the changes were negative limitations.

As a long-time designer and artist, I have always found that working within guidelines or limitations imposed by a specific client or a defined project, actually can be a positive thing that helps to focus the mind and creativity in such a way that the endless possibilities and distracting thoughts do not interfere as much with achieving the end goal. (Have I mentioned that I am quite ADD, and am easily distracted by… “oooohhhh shinyyyy?”) When you take away the things that are not right for the project (or in this case, dish or lifestyle), you are left with freedom and mindfulness to capture the outcome you desire and need. I feel that cooking gluten free (or for any other food intolerance, allergy, health or weight loss goal) is much the same as designing within the parameters of a client’s needs… YOU and your health just happen to be your client!

I urge you to become familiar with the guidelines of your particular nutrition needs, and to embrace those limitations as a way to move freely inside those parameters. Yes, the results of the food are fantastic, but they are nothing compared to the results that manifest in your life! Did I enjoy the Seared Sea Scallops and sauteed greens on Mother’s Day? You bet I did! But not as much as I have enjoyed being free from recurring and debilitating headaches and body pains. It feels miraculous to me still. I literally could cry with relief at any given moment. I have even more joy in preparing foods now than I did before because I know, I mean really KNOW that I am feeding my body with what it needs to be healthy.

And on to a Rant….

I have had well-meaning friends ask me if I couldn’t just “cheat” once in awhile and have a killer pizza or something else when eating out (I know I bore them with my safe salads!) I laugh and say no, because the only person I would be cheating is ME! I am not eating this way to lose weight, although that is certainly welcome, I am eating this way because I finally heard the language of my body, and it has told me in no uncertain terms that some foods make me sick. Having pizza today is not worth waking up tomorrow with a migraine and feeling like I have arthritis throughout my body.

The irony to me is that most people I know also experience a myriad of health issues, aches and pains, along with excess bulk around the midsection, and it doesn’t even occur to them that there is a strong likelihood that it is being caused by their food. (It seems that we, as a culture, treat disease symptoms as a lack of the right pharmaceutical in our medicine cabinet instead of as an imbalance of our internal systems.) It’s not our fault, we have all been educated repeatedly to eat whole grains (even though they spike blood sugar and create an insulin reaction, in addition to being a very inflammatory food.) We live in a society where fast food is abundant and speed is touted over simplicity or healthfulness. Another problem is that food intolerance is not nearly as obvious as food allergy. Allergies cause a severe and usually immediate immune response, but intolerance is much sneakier and builds up over time, affecting many systems, causing inflammation and auto-immune disorders among other things.

When faced with a friend (me) saying “Hey, why don’t you go without wheat and gluten for a week and see how you feel? Just try it?” The reactions are rarely enthusiastic, smiles.

Darling, you CAN’T be serious!?

“You mean I couldn’t drink a beer or have pizza with my buddies? Well, that is un-American!”

“How do you eat sandwiches without bread? I survive on sandwiches!”

“Grains can’t be that bad, we’ve eaten them for thousands of years!”

“Well, that way of eating works for you, I am sure it’s something else wrong with me.”

“I’ve had cereal for breakfast every day of my life, it can’t be the problem.”

“The government tells us that this is the best way to eat, they couldn’t tell us that if it wasn’t true.”

Really? How do you know? I often suggest that one has nothing to lose by trying, but you see, that’s not quite true! I realize that what one loses is somewhat intangible and yet powerful. First there is the disruption of habit and the major introduction of change in an area of our lives that we “think” is settled and working fine. Then there is a heritage and connection to our roots that most people strongly associate with certain foods and habits. We were raised on breads, pastas and cereals, after all. For what I am saying to be true, it means that what their mom and dad, favorite teachers and doctors were saying was NOT true. I know it wasn’t intentional misinformation, but I urge people to use critical thinking and question these accepted norms!

I do have strong opinions when it comes to a governing body telling its population what foods to eat and how much, when it is clear that those same governing bodies are not being advised by scientists and doctors on the cutting edge of nutrition, but rather by corporations which have a vested interest in selling their goods (as much as possible, please!) to the consuming public.Those same groups seek to limit access to homeopathic remedies, vitamins and supplements, as well as clamp down on those who are seeking lesser-processed dairy and meats, saying that their safety can’t be assured. Come on! Let me decide what is safe for my family, while you go ahead and serve GMO’s at your own table! We the people deserve a say in this!

I don’t claim to have all the answers (or even most of them); I am not a doctor or a dietician. But because of that, I am free to explore without kowtowing to pharmaceutical companies or grain lobbyists. I can tinker with my diet and see what happens if I take out this, or add that, and so can you. I am not telling you or anyone one else to do one certain thing (though I personally think wheat is bad for many people), because if one thing is clear, nutrition and health is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution. What I am urging each of us to do is to explore the bountiful world of food-based nutrition and work at finding out what is right for you. It is definitely a journey rather than a concrete destination, and what works for me now, may very well change in the future.

You deserve to make up your own mind, after all it does still belong to you!

 

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Blog Awards… Sharing the Love!

This post is overdue… not because I am not thankful, but more because I was surprised, flattered, and caught off guard to be nominated for blog awards by my peers!

I am quite new to the bloggering world, and I admittedly did zero research and just jumped in writing with both feet because I was inspired by the changes in my life that came from eating gluten free. It wasn’t until I had been blathering on and snapping pics with my phone (yes I am still using my phone, sad but true), that I opened my eyes to see all of YOU, and that I wasn’t alone in blogging about food and lifestyle choices. How great is that?!

I have always enjoyed writing, whether it was an email to a friend, a college research paper, or just getting some thoughts down on paper to vent or amuse… but I never really thought of myself as a writer. I guess I still don’t, and yet here I am writing several times a week about something I love (food) and something I believe in strongly (healthy living through diet) and expressing it hopefully in an artful way to people who share similar interests (YOU)!

The reason I was so surprised to be nominated for a blog award is that as I read and look and comment on everyone’s posts, I never cease to be amazed by the creativity coming from your hearts and kitchens. I drool over images and recipes, try a few out myself here and there, and store all the info away in the back of my mind to pull out next time I have certain ingredients on hand. So, thank you to everyone out here who is blogging and sharing, it is such a positive experience!

THANK YOU!

Now, on to the awards… thank you first to Glutenvy Girl for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award! Your support and comments have been very much appreciated and you are an inspiration! Yours was one of the first gluten free blogs I found, and your positivity spills over 🙂

 

Next, I would like to thank CookingUpTheCure for nominating for me the Liebster award. I have enjoyed her blog very much, and the shared dialog as well. I always learn new things when I visit this blog, and learning is one of my passions in life! Especially learning things that I can apply and put into practice.

Random Facts about Me…

Part of accepting the awards is sharing some facts and information about myself. Hmmmmm! I am not quite sure where to go with this, so…

  1. I am a mom and it is the most challenging and best thing that ever happened to me. By far, I am a better person because of who I have chosen and evolved to be for my son. I’m thankful that we are traveling together in this life!
  2. I love going out dancing, especially to 80’s music and alternative rock!
  3. I grow an herb garden every year (even when it had to be in pots) and use them frequently in my foods and in remedies.
  4. I am an artist, and have painted dozens of murals over the years. You can see some of my work here.
  5. I am addicted to sushi, and taught myself how to make it at home several years ago because we live in a sushi-deficient small town 😉 I was thrilled to find out that most sushi is gluten free!
  6. I prefer utilizing natural remedies for most ailments (when common sense dictates) and some of my favorite ingredients are Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar (with the Mother), baking soda, peroxide, witch hazel, coconut oil, shea butter, cayenne pepper, borax, lemon, local honey and herbs.
  7. I also clean with white vinegar and baking soda, and don’t purchase things like Windex.
  8. I believe LOVE is the answer. Love yourself, love each other, love the earth!
  9. I am passionate about learning, and strive to learn and share something new every day. I think that a life filled with learning (not necessarily in a school setting) is what enriches our existence, along with LOVE 🙂
  10. I’m glad I can’t eat gluten. Seriously, I am. I am thankful that discovering an intolerance is what finally pushed me over the edge, and made clear to me how bad processed carbs are. I always knew it at some level, but now knowing WHY makes it pretty much painless to go without it. OK literally painless, because my body feels great now!

 

Paying it Forward

I would like to nominate the following blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award:

Cooking Up The Cure Versatile is an understatement, variety and information abound on this blog!
While Chasing Kids Not only a great name, but an interesting blog, bringing a Russian twist to healthful foods.
Gracefully Gluten Free Informative and positive, check out the recent post about whether oats are gluten free!
The Food Refashionista Great concept and dedication to making over foods to fit special dietary considerations!
Being Here Now   Flavorful ideas from a multi-cultural point of view!

And for the Liebster Award:

Gabrielle Whitney Visit for a variety of flavorful and healthful recipes.
Feed the Piglet Beautiful images and commentary along with delicious recipes!
Frugal Feeding When you feast your eyes and belly on the recipes, you may think the name is misleading, but it takes talent to be gourmet and frugal!
A Table in the Sun a newer blog with some tasty recipes and interesting commentary.
Cook to Love Great gluten free recipes and inspiration!

I hope that I didn’t nominate someone who had more than 200 followers, but I wasn’t able to locate those numbers in most cases… so just take it as flattery anyway, and know that I enjoy your blog!  I have so many more to visit, thank you for sharing this journey with me!
~Gretchen

 

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Why Gluten Free for Me? Reasons I Deleted the Wheat!

It’s been just over a month since I cut out wheat and gluten in my diet, and went low carb. If you read the veryyyy first post on my blog, you will have some idea of the health issues that made me decide to try going gluten-free. I will say up front, that I have not been formally diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease (and I have noticed in the food intolerance/health community, that some people really frown on self-diagnosis. To this I say, OH WELL!) I made a simple experiment with my diet to eliminate something I felt might be toxic, and the results were nothing short of miraculous. I am not about to start eating wheat again so that I can be diagnosed formally, when I already know that the treatment IS abstaining from wheat. Even if there was a drug to take instead, I would still choose to be gluten-free.

Here are some results I have experienced during the past month:

  • Immediate relief (within 2 days) of abdominal bloating that made me feel much more comfortable, and clothes fit better (same with husband).
  • Joint pain and inflammation 90% gone, within 3 or 4 days. I had been experiencing shoulder, hip and knee pain that had been worsening for a couple years, and often interfered with sleep and exercise (my son also experienced disappearance of joint pain).
  • Decreased appetite and craving for sweets and carbohydrates (same with husband) after the first couple weeks.
  • Haven’t had a headache bad enough to take Motrin in a MONTH, when I used to take it up to several times a week for headaches that could last 3-4 days
  • IBS symptoms lessened, but not gone. (Currently researching other possible causes for issues, such as low stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes, or other food intolerances.)
  • Lost 10 lbs over the course of the month (and my husband did as well.) I didn’t start with the goal of losing weight, but I am thrilled that I have! 

In my mind, there isn’t much that’s more personal than the choice of what we put into our bodies. To make any thoughtful decision to eat a thing or not to eat a thing, is taking responsibility and accountability for our own health. As a society, we have given over a large part of these critical choices to a fast food and processed food mentality, which has speed and profit in mind, not health and wellness (which is the point of eating in the first place.) Nutrition is sacrificed for convenience, and at a price so high, that our health as a nation is likely worse than it has ever been. Good thing the pharmaceutical industry has our back with all those handy-dandy (side-effect laden) medications!

Obviously, I have a lot of misgivings about the current state of our food industry, and that is for reasons too numerous to detail. As a family, there are some changes we were able to make immediately, and there are others that we are working on sourcing out in an affordable way, such as locally farmed beef and poultry. (I have no plans to become vegan or vegetarian, however, I do strongly believe in humane treatment of animals during their lifetime in addition to skipping all the chemicals.)

In the past weeks, I have done endless research about the effects of gluten, and how to eat healthfully without grains, and I will continue to do so, and occasionally share my findings here. I will say though, that the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, is an EXCELLENT starting point to regaining health and wellness through properly feeding the systems of the body. His book is a compelling combination of personal experiences and scientific data that went a long ways towards explaining to me WHY I felt the way I did, both before and after. The reason I say that his book is brilliant as a starting point, is that for many people, wheat is likely to be the largest, quiet toxin in their diet, and once it is eliminated, it makes room to pinpoint further issues without wheat muddying the waters, so to speak. The results vary from person to person, as we are all unique in our make-up and history, but I believe strongly that the majority of people could find benefits from going wheat free. I have seen that many people discover other intolerances and sensitivities as well as deficiencies in certain bodily systems as they begin to get clean, and I am in the process of investigating these things for my own situation.

When I read opinions and consider factual studies, I also take into consideration whether the person or agency has any benefit to be gained by convincing people that what they are saying (selling) is valid. Critical thinking plays a large part in my personal research, and it pays to question things and seek out a variety of resources, especially those that are contrary to each other. In doing this, I have found that those who are opposing the health benefits of whole grains, aren’t out to make a profit from this point of view, they are trying to give people the power to make informed decisions and break addictions! If the author of Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis, was only out to make money by selling copies of his book, he wouldn’t have such an informative blog where he takes a personal interest in the people who post and query him about this topic. Instead, it is obvious that he has in mind helping to open peoples’ eyes so that they are able to regain their health.

While I am doing my best to live up to the dietary recommendations in Wheat Belly, I know that I am not the gold standard with the recipes and foods that I post, but I am sharing what types of things we are eating in my home, in the hopes of helping people who need a few new ideas, or are even possibly overwhelmed by the task of eating differently. I consider recipes from many sources, some gluten-free, some traditional, some Paleo… while other postings are just a peek into the way I cook at home, and some of the methods I use in my kitchen. I urge readers to play with the recipes and adjust them to your tastes and dietary needs, as there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” plan for health and wellness. I am thankful for comments and “likes” from the blogworld, and enjoy the sharing and positivity that is happening here!

 

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Cheesecake and Energy Bars, Salvaged from Bitter Brownies

Serendipity?

So most cheesecakes probably start with a yummy craving or perhaps a special occasion in mind…  this one started because of a flopped batch of brownies! I am admittedly new to gluten-free (wheat-free) baking, and I have to readjust what I have learned about how ingredients work together, because the dynamics are different. Several days ago I made a batch of brownies that turned out, well… let’s say much more bitter than sweet! I am a major fan of dark chocolate, but this recipe had WAY too much unsweetened chocolate and not enough of everything else to counter-balance it. I almost think the recipe may have been printed incorrectly. They looked great and smelled great, but even with a dollop of whipped cream, we could not enjoy them. Grrrrrr!

Energy Bites: As anyone of you that bakes with the gluten-free flours (almond and coconut) knows, these and other ingredients are relatively expensive, and I was just not willing to toss the whole of it into the garbage, so I set about finding creative uses for the brownies as a base for other things. The first thing I did was use about half of the brownies to make energy bites. I zipped the brownies in the food processor (one of my new best friends these days) along with dates, shredded coconut, dried cherries, walnut butter, and a drizzle of  honey to help bind it together. I pressed it into a pan lined with parchment and froze it for a little while and then cut it into chunks. My son has been eating these energy bites all week! I realize that this really isn’t a recipe, but maybe it can serve as inspiration to others who find themselves with a batch of something-or-other that just didn’t turn out as well as you hoped, to transform it into something else that is edible 🙂 This concoction is not as low-carb as most I post, but my son can definitely handle more healthy carbs in his diet.

Cheesecake: As I was wandering through food blog postings yesterday, I saw Nicole’s post at La Petite Baker. She made a pretty simple and delicious-looking cheesecake, covered in hot fudge, and that sprouted an idea in my head! I decided to use the other half of my failed brownies as a crust by adding a little more sweetener (I use erythritol) and a little butter, blending it in the food processor again, and then pressing it into my springform pan. I altered her filling recipe only slightly, by replacing the sugar with erythritol and using 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, and 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and replaced the sugar in the topping with sweetener as well. Since the crust was chocolate, I decided to use fresh strawberries as a topping instead of the fudge. It turned out lovely! I admit that we should have waited overnight to dig into the cheesecake as recommended, but the guys would have none of that, so it was definitely softer than intended. It has set up very firmly by this morning though.

I had my reservations about altering a baking recipe because baking is much more of a chemistry project than cooking is, and I am also new and hesitant with sweeteners. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, and is not as sweet as sugar, but it is “natural” and doesn’t spike blood sugars the way the real thing does, so it is ideal for low-carb and diabetic diets. I don’t know if I will ever get used to using sweeteners in place of sugar, so it means that sweetened treats will simply be fewer and further between. The cost is also a factor, as erythritol is quite pricey, no matter how you justify it.

Now I am wondering, since I de-glutenized and un-sugared the cheesecake recipe, can I have it for breakfast?? 😉  Muahahaha…..

 

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