Bacon as a way of life

So my beloved says to me, “look at how far you have come,” related to my diet.  Indeed.  When we first met I was eating gluten-free, low sugar and fat, largely organic, and sweetener-free, and dairy-free foods.  I cooked a lot and was very particular what I ate at restaurants, often bringing my own nuts or dressings.  Supplements?  Yeah, in due time with my new doctor at the helm my pill box burgeoned to over 60 doses of something per day!  Then part of the story got crazier . . .

As severe illness set in, the supplements would change and almost disappear as time went on.  I could not tolerate any supplements at all after a brief hiatus required during overnight testing at the Epilepsy Center, University of Indianapolis Methodist Hospital.  By then I had added a low oxalate and Candida diet too.  After A YEAR on all of this with daily bone broth too, my brain fog cleared and my gut started to heal.  They say that 95% of your immune system is in your gut.  Perhaps part of your brain health is there as well?  (Now that last part could lend itself to some embarrassing teasing if I stay here too long.  Let’s move on!)

When dental pain increased, my nutritional sustenance all went into the VitaMix for about 6 weeks.  I became the master of the pureed diet and many soups, sauces, smoothies, etc.  My gut health slowed yet the convulsive episodes triggered by chewing diminished.   Gradually I got back to a chopped diet which is where I remain, 4 weeks post surgery for the extraction of two root-canaled teeth.  Healing continues.  It is wonderful to be able to chew better!

Then the convulsive episodes that had diminished some returned to their prior level:  2 to 5 hours per day.  So sad.  Over three years into this time of serious illness and still no one has figured out how to stop them.  I fasted for 24-hours, drinking only water and praying when my brain cells fired in the right direction.  The episodes stopped.  As intense hunger pangs overtook my weakness I decided to break the fast with an apple:  easy to digest and surely a boost to my low blood sugar.  I did not expect what followed.  One of the most violent types of convulsive episodes started my beloved hubby out of a sound sleep and sent me into an enlightened frenzy.  Enlightened?  Yes, this episode was triggered by glucose!

That night and the days thereafter I quickly ventured into a ketogenic diet.  I found a couple of Facebook Groups on the subject and the App they recommended to get me started.  A few days into the new direction a gal from one of the groups contacted me to clarify something:  was I using the diet for weight loss or medical reasons?  The grams of protein/carbohydrates/fats or “macros” are different with each type of ketogenic diet.  For both programs a person consumes very little carb grams yet for weight loss you eat more protein than fat; for medical ketosis to occur you must focus on more fats than proteins.  But it is in consuming very little carbs (I eventually got to 21 total grams) that the body is forced to utilize fats for energy instead of carbs.  The body then produces ketones that can often be picked up in a simple urine stick test or special blood glucose meter that includes ketones.  Ketones are hypothesized to stop or reduce seizures and may even help treat dementia in the elderly.

This week I reached ketosis.  My breath got bad and another tell-tale symptom appeared that is too much for even the transparency of this blog post!  It took me three weeks to get here and it could take a minimum of 2 months, usually 4-6 months, to see if the ketogenic diet will help me at all.  I am willing to try.  Heck, I already have a very restricted diet anyways.  And who doesn’t like (uncured, unsmoked) bacon?  The MyFitnessPal App is a gift from the Lord in managing this.  I would recommend it and their Facebook to everyone on a diet where a person must track macros.

So how about the blessings in all of this?  Surely there were some?  Indeed Gentle Reader.  You know me well!  You see I researched the ketogenic diet two years ago and periodically thereafter but could not find a local neurologist or dietician to guide me.  Close medical oversight including lab tests every three months are needed in addition to the periodic self-monitoring via urine or blood sticks.  Help has arrived just at the right time.  Briefly, check this out:

My first week venturing into the food plan, the gal who messaged me off Facebook just happened to be a retired nurse from the neurosurgery center at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  She manages her own true epilepsy in part with this diet.  Did you know that the only medical center in the USA with a dietary research and treatment center for adults with epilepsy is at John Hopkins?  I knew that and was ecstatic to spend that first Saturday night receiving mentoring from my “guardian angel” named Vicki.  Thank you Lord!

Around this same time I researched a foundation known to assist children with true epilepsy.  Maybe they would have some new information?  Oh yeah, a medical center close to our home in a smaller town had just hired a dietician to work with children and adults in all aspects of the ketogenic diet.  She had recently attended a conference with the Charlie Foundation and was added to their list of practitioners the week before!  She manages all of the referrals, orders for lab tests, and consultations.  And Mary is very sweet to boot.  Wow, Lord.

In many ways, in many long and exhaustingly arduous ways, this new treatment direction could be one more  bunny trail in the quest to recover from this wretched illness.  O.k.  Poor me baby.  Well then again, maybe not.  Sometimes you have to do more than one task to completely recover from a serious illness.  Remember the phrase, “recovery is a jagged line?”  The Ann Landers column about life being about the journey and not the destination?  The gratitude I feel in my heart for having met you Gentle Reader?  All of the computer skills I have learned about everything from ecommerce to social media?  The deepening of my relationship with Christ?  The revelation of the Godly character of my beloved husband?  And the fact that I did not die in all of those near-death experiences?  On this day I must say that I have seen the faithfulness and blessing of the Lord at some level every single day of the past 3 1/2 years.  His promises have seen me through and rung true every single day.  I will leave you with my fav promise from another time in my life of refining fire (and a side of bacon too please, crispy as in nearly burnt.  I like it that way!)  Take care, JJ

Jeremiah 29 11, Jeremiah, hope and a future, hope, plans, trust in the Lord, Christian hope, encouragin scripture, faith, ketogenic diet, chronic ilness, Christain and disability, Hope Beyond, Julie Horney

Jeremiah 29:11

LOD, GF, SF, LDF, MF Smoothies CAN Be Done!

Muppet French ChefWhen faced with extreme dietary measures, the faint of heart may indeed faint.  And so did I initially!  Now I am 5 days into a necessary pureed low oxalate, gluten-free, sugar (sweetener)-free, largely dairy-free, mold free diet and still alive.  Cool beans.  But without the beans of course!

Such is life when faced with the reality of dental issues triggering convulsive episodes.  What’s an occupational therapist on an extended leave to do about that?  Well, adapt and carry on!  So carry over your best mega-blender (favoring the Vitamix) and get it screaming.  This is going to be LOUD.

Notes:  these recipes lack sugar, sweetener, and most seasonings that “normal” people would add to make these foods taste better.  Persons not on a low oxalate diet will probably use almond, rice, or boxed coconut milk in place of the coconut milk listed.  Add these to your own taste.  The liquids always go in first; frozen foods are last.  Flavors generally intensify, especially when “cooked” in the blender at high speeds.  That generally translates to limiting the number of veggies or fruits as things can taste really weird with too many ingredients.  Adding avocado or cucumber can be o.k. for fruit smoothies if you add a little more fruit.  If you can, “chew” the liquid as you consume it to stimulate salivation; saliva aids in digestion and chewing helps you to feel more satisfied.  Lastly, I have not had much luck freezing completed concoctions.  However, I have had great results freezing small portions of yogurt and coconut milk:  when allowed to thaw some first, it seems to thicken fruit smoothies nicely!

Smoothies

Start with 4 oz. grass-fed plain yogurt (vanilla coconut or almond yogurt) and 4 oz. unsweetened coconut milk (canned or Caila Farms) in the bottom of the blender.

Add 1/4 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries.

Pour in your favorite protein powder:  3/4 scoop Whey to Go Lactose-Free Protein Powder.

To make the smoothie more sustaining, add up to 1/2 avocado, 1 T. oil (avocado, grapeseed, or other organic oils.  No olive oil here!)  The avocado also makes it very creamy without altering the taste or color.

Add whatever seeds, wheat germ, or nuts you can tolerate:  1 T. raw pumpkin seeds, 1 t. wheat germ.  If you have a yucky-tasting supplement you are taking, throw it in too!

Blend until smooth which is usually 1-2 minutes.  Note that you may need to turn the blender on and off, tamp down the frozen fruit to keep it in contact with the blade, or add larger strawberries one-at-a-time to protect your unit.  To make it thinner, add more liquid or blend it longer.  As with all of these recipes, use a spoon (or your fingers) to get all of the smoothie out of the blades, nooks, and crannies at the bottom of the Vitamix.  This stuff is gold and none should go to waste!

Soups from Leftovers

Place 4 oz beef (bone?) broth, about 1 1/2 cups of beef stew (or similar leftovers such as casserole), and about a cup of a single vegetable (if none are in the beef stew/casserole) in the blender.  Last night I added about 3/4 cup of frozen peas.  Yes, the smoothie was green but when hungry, you will close your eyes and get over that quickly!

Add at least 1/2 t. sea salt and don’t be surprised if you need more to make it taste better.  Soups are generally pretty salty foods.

To make the soup more sustaining, add 1 T. ghee/organic butter or oil (avocado, grapeseed, or other organic oils.  Olive oil is o.k. here if you like and are not LOD or MF.)

Blend for about 7 minutes or until the mixture is pulverized beyond recognition, heated, and steaming when you open the lid.  Thicken if needed with 1T. potato or corn starch.  Add starch in small batches after the mixture gets warm as it will thicken quickly!

This recipe might need less blending time if all of the vegetables are pre-cooked.  Taste with a spoon and adjust seasonings.  Give it a “cream of ____” name and enjoy in a mug or with a spoon in a bowl.  Or begin again with broth, salt, leftover potatoes (or other vegetable), a few roasted leeks or onions and about 2 T. plain yogurt for a yummy potato soup!  People pay big bucks for this type of delicacy at fancy restaurants you know!

Soups from Raw or Frozen Ingredients

Place 4-8 ounces of meat (or veggie, bone?) broth and half as much unsweetened coconut milk into the blender.  Add at least 1/2 t. sea salt and don’t be surprised if you need more to make it taste better.  Soups are generally pretty salty foods.

Add 4 oz. of cooked meat:  Low Sodium Boar’s Head turkey breast has no preservatives or spices; small chicken breast or larger thigh, 5 0z. can of cooked chicken breast, trimmed & cubed pork chop, etc.

Top with about a cup of 1-2 types of vegetables that taste good together and are not both green in color!  Frozen veggies in smaller pieces are easier on your blender, of course.  Mixed vegetables usually don’t taste very well IMO as there are just too many flavors!

To make the soup more sustaining, add 1 T. ghee/organic butter or oil (avocado, grapeseed, or other organic oils.  Olive oil is o.k. here if you like and are not LOD or MF.)

Note that you may have turn the Vitamix on and off, tamp down the ingredients, or add the frozen ingredients slowly to protect your blender.  Blend for about 7 minutes total or until the mixture is pulverized beyond recognition, heated, and steaming when you open the lid.  Thicken if needed with 1T. potato or corn starch.  Add starch in small batches after the mixture gets warm as it will thicken quickly!  If it tastes bad, add more salt (or seasonings if you can, especially onion and garlic).  Follow with labeling it a gourmet name as noted above.

Breakfast!

I generally eat either dinner leftovers or a meaty dish for breakfast so I have limited ideas for what might taste o.k. for the rest of the world!  In general, gluten-free instant oatmeal is softer than slow-cooked and can be made heartier with 1 t. of ghee/butter, mashed fruit, 1 scoop of Whey to Go, and powdered nuts/seeds/wheat germ.  I have pulverized very crispy bacon to a powder and added it for a fabulous and blood-sugar sustaining oatmeal in the middle of the night!  Remember to add the whey or protein powder LAST and after cooking; it cooks to an almost scary, crunchy brown texture in when microwaved!  (White rice) grits would probably also work well with ghee/organic butter.

*************

Well there you have it:  my survival plan until I can get some teeth pulled.  This will also be my menu right after the dental

procedure as well.  Thank the Lord and my Intended Beloved for the gracious gift of a Vitamix years ago!  Steve spoiled me one Christmas with a reconditioned unit and we have used it most days of the week since then.  See how the Lord is sooooooooo good to me?

Time for some more soup . . .  :JJ

If I get to see you . . .

 

If I get to see you in the coming year, please understand that I will be singing songs of joy in my heart!  Social isolation has been one of the most devastating effects of serious illness from these past 3 years.  Should the Lord allow the circumstances for me to get out for an activity other than medical or a trip to the grocery store, I CELEBRATE!!!

So if I might ask for a few accommodations when we get together and you graciously oblige and I still get sick then blame any negative symptoms you may witness in me as the consequence of illness and not you!  Very few folks live in a “clean room” like we have here at home.  I did not clean at this level either until it was a matter of survival.  Steve did not engage in my extreme mold/contaminant behavior strategies until two years ago.  These strategies are necessary for this season of our lives together.  Overall I do better when we follow certain guidelines resulting in less reactivity, the worst of which are fewer seizure-like and convulsive episodes which continue daily.  We are implementing some “due diligence” from what we have learned to reduce my suffering with the goal of eliminating this illness altogether.  We believe that the Lord has allowed these trials for mysterious reasons and ultimately His glory.  He is good!

Both Steve and I recognize that there are definite signs that I am getting better.  We have trained our eye to search for even tiny changes in the pattern and intensity of episodes, pain, and reactivity to keep us hopeful that one day I will be well.  It is happening!  So please don’t be discouraged when either one of us might mention that I had a rough night or you witness a significant setback.  Recovery is a long, jagged line of progress, setbacks, and lateral “bunny trails.”  The overall trending is positive!

The most important accommodations that would be helpful if we get together are as follows.

Meeting in a public place:  Select a place with less noise and less loud music.  Newer buildings are generally better than older ones; please no historic buildings or ones with known basements or crawlspaces and history of flooding.  Restaurants that make their own food with fresh ingredients are better able to modify dishes to meet my food sensitivities.  This rules out most fast food places!  Letting me know the name and phone number of the establishment ahead of time will allow me to contact them with my needs and make the experience of ordering food more pleasant for both of us!  Please do not wear cologne or perfume that day.  I will need to greet you and depart with a “virtual hug” to avoid exposures to hidden elements that might be on your clothing or coat.  Forgive me if I sometimes forget this step in the joy of the moment when I see you!

Meeting in your home:  This is still a situation that I avoid since there are too many variables at this time that may cause serious problems.  I cannot come over if you have 1) ever had flooding in your home of any kind from a leaky toilet to a wet basement or 2) have older carpeting.  If you are willing to have me then please remove all fragranced products at least the day before we are scheduled to be together (such as plug-in or spray air fresheners, candles whether lit or not, potpourri, etc.)  Keeping windows cracked open in cooler weather or open in warmer weather to allow fresh air inside always helps (unless someone is burning something nearby outside!)  I prefer to visit in the area of your home without carpeting and sit on non-upholstered furniture.  Wood, plastics, and leather are best.

Staying overnight:  If we are invited to stay overnight then we will either bring our own linens, blankets and towels, or ask that you wash and dry everything in fragrance-free detergent and softeners (including dryer sheets).  Please replace a moldy shower curtain liner with a new one!  I will bring most of my own food and hand soap where possible.  Providing non-cured, non-smoked meat cooked only with salt, plain oatmeal, plain salad-type vegetables or zucchini/cauliflower without seasonings will be a HUGE treat!  I will always bring the extra condiments and food that I can tolerate.

Yeah, I know that this is a lot for a busy household to prepare!  Thank you for helping us out with this stuff.  Steve and I are exceedingly grateful to have recently obtained a travel trailer which has helped manage all of this tremendously well.  (It is a lot of work for us too, I tell ya!)  Both of our families and many close friends now live out of State so travel is necessary to see them.  This single change in our mode of travel has allowed me to leave our home overnight much more safely and go places from which I have been cut off for most of the past three years.  We are humbled and blessed!  I really like having a mobile safe house that has already opened up my world, provided privacy during setbacks on the road, and aided sleep with a really comfortable bed that can be hard to find when away from one’s own humble abode at home.  Thank you Jesus!

Visiting Daniel and Elizabeth in Alabama

Visiting Daniel and Elizabeth in Alabama

 

We are hoping that the ongoing extreme avoidance and dietary strategies are temporary; some level of precaution albeit more relaxed than the current level will likely continue for some time.  How long will we need to do all of this?  We simply do not know.  We believe the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is due to mercury toxicity and we finally have the correct treatment protocols to get me well.  I have excellent medical guidance and a proven treatment plan to follow.  We are hopeful that I will be in better health within this year!  I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!

And that Gentle Reader, is much to celebrate!  JJ

Start with what you can eat . . .

Special diets can be maddening, time consuming, expensive and an all-around bite in the shorts (if you know what I mean)!  Instead of stressing, I apply a few basic food prep principles, start with what I can eat, and whip something up from there.  After a few weird entrees and sauces, things will start to taste more palatable and even kind of good as you gain confidence.  Who needs recipes anyways?

My husband went shopping at a big box store this evening for basic groceries including grated cheese, fruit, a few veggies, and the only meat I’ll buy there for a rare convenience:  canned chicken.  Since I haven’t been able to shop very much lately, preparing dinner tonight required some very special creativity!  Gratefully there were onions and cabbage from our garden in the frig, a loaf of multi-grain bread in the freezer for hubby, some sliced almonds in the pantry and a few other staples here or there.  Now to make a gluten/dairy/sugar free meal plus a full flavor meal for the two of us . . .

His and Hers Salads began with Canned Chicken!

His and Hers Salads began with Canned Chicken!

Not bad, eh?  Gratefully it was yummy!   The base started with spring greens in both bowls with oven toasted almonds (sprayed with grapeseed oil, sprinked with celtic salt and roasted about 7 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, stirred once halfway through the baking time).  The chopped chicken salad-and-vegetable mix included all the veggies we now had in the house:  cucumber, cabbage, radishes, onion, and the canned chicken.

For Him:  I garnished the ceramic bowl and base of salad greens with sliced pears and grated cheese.  I made a 1/3 batch of homemade mayonnaise in the Vita-Mix using sunflower and olive oils instead of GMO-laden canola oil listed in the recipe.  (Yes, here’s the one exception:  ya gotta follow a recipe exactly from the Vita-Mix manual for mayo to turn out right!)  I mixed the mayo with half of the canned chicken-and-vegetable mix and dolloped it over the cheese and spring greens.  He got a topping of toasted almonds with a little extra dressing on the side, just in case.

Basic Parmesan breads:  I thawed and sliced a loaf of multi-grain bread about 3/4 inches (2 cm) thick and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and brushed with melted butter.  I brushed the tops of the bread liberally with butter then sprinkled on some parmesan cheese.  (For garlic butter, sprinkle some garlic powder or chopped garlic into the cup before microwaving the butter, about 23 seconds.)  Broil on low for about 6 minutes checking it often near the 6 minute mark.  I find that the low setting allows the pan to heat up and toast the underside in addition to both melting and browning the cheese on top.

For Her:  I garnished the ceramic bowl of spring greens with a non-cheese alternative (e.g. Goya shredded mozzarella).  Next I made a dressing with almond butter, unsweetened. coconut milk, Mrs. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and a pinch of celtic sea salt.  This requires some minimal adjustments for taste and consistency.  Then I placed the other half of the plain chopped chicken salad-and-vegetable mix on top of the remaining bowl of spring greens and poured the almond coconut dressing of it, mixing it into chopped salad slightly to coat it.  I finished it off with a topping of toasted almonds as well.

Sure, this meal took a little extra time to prepare and it was worth it.  To make it even more worthwhile, during the assembly phase of this meal and next to the ceramic salad bowls were two large plastic containers that are not pictured above.  I made duplicate salads with every ingredient listed above except the sliced pears (since they would turn brown by lunchtime tomorrow).  So we not only had a yummy dinner tonight but will look forward to a “repeat performance” for lunch tomorrow!  I usually make dinner this way:  setting out the storage containers for lunch and serving them up right alongside the dinner plates to save time the next day.  Cool beans.

That’s it!  And it’s not all bad following a protein-oil-vegetable diet, with a tiny bit of optional, extra carbs from the cheese substitute, when it tastes good too.  ‘Twas tough avoiding the cheesy breads I must confess . . .   ;J

Life Savers: Living the allergy-free life

Greetings Gentle Readers!

I have a real treat for you today (pun intended!).  In the recovery of serious illness we need to get serious about our nutrition too.  To assist us I introduce to you a dear friend who has helped me and many folks learn how to use nutrition as medicine.  I am grateful for the expertise of Cindy Jakacki-Null: tenacious gluten-free and allergy-free food researcher, healthcare professional, and Foodie extraordinaire.  Cindy talks enthusiastically about how she loves to cook, create in the kitchen, research and convert recipes, and share both her talents and tasty treats with friends and family.  Her expertise has made a difference in the lives of countless individuals, most recently a loved one facing death until her sister’s diet changed.

  1. Tell me a little about yourself and your special interests related to food. 

I have always liked to cook and especially to bake.  This is probably because growing up in our family’s household, sweets were off limits except for special occasions.  My father battled  Juvenile Diabetes. My Dad and Mom wanted to prevent any of us from getting it and were very forward-thinking for their time in their pro-health efforts.  While baking in general was discouraged, I jumped at the chance to cook meals and bake for holidays and special occasions.  My Mom cooked fairly plain foods for the picky eaters of the family and it challenged us to find suitable ingredients for everyone (even sneaking in some pureed veggies long before it was in vogue to do so!).  I am grateful to have experienced fine dining and haute cuisine growing up which peaked my curiosity in all things food. I then taught myself how to cook.

2.   What is a “Foodie” (or a better name if you have one)?

I looked up this definition because I always wondered what the specific “requirements” were; however, like anything else, they varied.  Per Webster’s dictionary a Foodie is, “someone who has an ardent and refined interest in food.”  Yet, it goes beyond that.  The term, “live to eat” instead of “eat to live” comes to mind. To be a true Foodie is more than satiating the physical appetite in addition to the mental one, and a thirst for knowledge. A Foodie may not have all the culinary answers but seeks to find them out.

3.   More seriously now, where are the best places for information for a person who needs to make major changes in his or her nutrition for medical reasons? 

 We have so many resources available now that we have the internet!  However, it’s important to be cautious because anyone can have a blog or website and present themselves as if they are experts.  I also think that the answer to this question may differ a bit dependent upon one’s health issues.  Keeping all of this in mind I recommend the following references:

1)     www.mercola.com  This goes beyond just nutrition.  Abundant amount of articles, videos, links, resources

2)     Weston A Price  http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/dietary-guidelines

3)     I recommend Paleo Diet blogs even if you are not on a paleo diet because they are a good general source of information.  More specifically, I’d like to offer websites that combine alternative, integrative medicine with nutrition experts.  The ones I have chosen also have free online radio blogs.

 Word of mouth can help a person too, especially if the “mouths” so to speak are attached to people who are knowledgeable, have done extensive research, and apply what they’ve learned to their own lives.

     4.  In your experience, where is the worst place for information for a person who needs to make major changes in his or her nutrition for medical reasons? 

I’d have to say to be cautious of more traditional medical professionals, both locally and online, who tend to be unwilling to think “outside of the box.”

Also be wary of programs/organizations/universities (in person and online) that are supported primarily by the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, businesses owning food brands…or anyone who may profit from it.  This is not to say that there isn’t some beneficial information on their websites; however, I personally examine the research closely and look for continuity of information before I will endorse and use them.

 5a. What are some of the best ways you have found for a person to start to learn new cooking or baking skills?

 To learn a new skill a person must practice, practice, practice while learning the “how to’s.”  Be open to learning new things even if you’ve done things a certain way all your life; it’s like learning to ride a bike all over again!  Learn about flavor combinations.  Do research.  Read blogs.  Read books.  Listen to free online radio shows.  Watch food TV shows and DVD’s. Your Gentle Readers can start with the websites that I’ve mentioned here.

5b. How about a few shopping tips for a person starting to purchase new and unfamiliar foods?

I recognize that moving in a healthier direction can be overwhelming in the beginning.  Start where you are and consider a few tips to get you started:

  • Before you even go to the store do some initial research on anything you are unsure about. For example, examine purchasing food in cans vs. plastic vs. aluminum. It makes a difference and can have a profound impact on a person’s health.
  • Think twice when food is on sale.  It can be tempting to buy on impulse an unfamiliar food or brand name. Look more closely at what you are buying!  Here are two examples:  1) there are brands of olive oils and vinegars that are “pure,” better tasting, and not as processed; and 2) purchase olive oils only in glass, dark-colored bottles to keep them from becoming rancid and from dangerous chemicals in the plastic container leaching into the oil.
  • If you can’t find better food choices at your local store, consider shopping somewhere else or shopping online!  Food that is pure, tastes better, doesn’t make you sick, and is more nutritious  will save you money in the long run.
  • Improving your nutrition is also a balance. For example, I prioritize avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” and favoring the “Clean 15” (organic) food lists.  (Go to:  www.thedailygreen.com for these lists.)  I would love to buy all organic foods but I can’t afford it either!
  • Talk to others who cook and eat clean foods.
  • Stock up on healthier foods, especially when you can find them on sale.
  • Read labels carefully. I know this is an old standard, but some ingredients have different names which can be deceiving. For example, did you know that another name for soy is autolyzed yeast extract?”  If I see an ingredient that is unfamiliar to me and I can’t pronounce it, I don’t buy it! The “Foodie” in me goes home and does a quick check online to determine if it’s ok for me and my family.
  • Carry a list of verboten items with “aka” names to help you identify less healthy ingredients such as:  artificial preservatives, MSG, casein, etc.
Gingerbread cookies: free of gluten, grains, soy, sugar, dairy, eggs, corn, artificial preservatives and dyes. Aren't we cute?!

Gingerbread cookies: free of gluten, grains, soy, sugar, dairy, eggs, corn, artificial preservatives and dyes. Aren’t we cute?!

 6a. Let’s get specific now for the kinds of nutritional changes many of the folks reading this blog might be making, starting with gluten-free foods.  In the beginning gluten-free foods all seem to taste so bland and grainy.  What makes them taste better and where would I find the kinds of foods that tend to taste good?

Let’s start with the second part of your question:  I rarely, if ever, buy any pre-packaged, ready – to-eat foods, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you where to buy them.  I make them myself.  Regarding why foods taste better, most professional, traditional chefs would agree: the secret is in the quality of ingredients.  This includes:  buying “clean” “whole” foods that come as close as possible to its natural state.  In other words, I recommend minimally processed foods with NO artificial preservatives, additives, artificial colorings and flavorings.  This healthier way of cooking and is the way that I am eating.  Foods taste better and I feel better overall as a result.

Also: there definitely are big differences in cooking and especially, baking allergy-free.  The more foods you eliminate in an allergy-free recipe, the harder it is to get a result that is palatable, let alone recognizable to the real thing!  In some ways, it is like riding that bicycle all over again.  Be creative but get started on doing some research and practice.   This might mean starting with your favorite blogger’s information and reading comments.  I learn a lot from the comments!

 6b.   Do you have a store, favorite blog, or website that you would recommend for gluten-free foods?

Please note that I avoid gluten in addition to dairy, soy, corn, artificial preservatives, sulfites, nitrates, nitrites, MSG, and dyes. Certain foods I only buy organic and I prefer free-range meat when possible.   Keeping all of this in mind, I offer the following:

  •  Find most meat, bone marrow, bacon, and animal fats online at US Wellness Meats: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok.   Shipping is only 7.50 per order, regardless of size, and they often, have specials.  A person can sign up for free to receive e-mail notifications and special offers.
  •  Buy organic coconut oil from Nutiva (company): http://nutiva.com/  They have frequent sales, including “Nutiva Tuesdays,” and occasional free shipping.  Sign up for free to receive e-mail notifications, etc.

 

  • Tropical Traditions      http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/  sells      various products, of which I      primarily buy organic coconut oil,       shredded  coconut (various      sizes),  organic palm oil, organic red virgin palm oil.  They also sell organic, free range meat.  TT has regular sales, but since shipping      can be costly, I usually only buy something when shipping is free.   Sign up for free and they will also send e-mail notices.
  • Nutstop: www.nutstop.com sells various types of nuts and seeds, including raw, roasted, blanched, etc.   They have good prices on large quantities of macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Always compare online stores to local resources. 

 

  1. How can I save time and money when shopping or making gluten-free foods?

It’s easier to save time and money if you are solely looking at foods without gluten verses foods without multiple allergens like I do!

  • Initially researching sources for foods can be time consuming, but once you’ve found stores (online and/or local) that suit your needs, stick to it.
  • Buy in bulk when ingredients are on sale to save money as well as to make sure that you have an ample supply on hand.
  • Make double, triple, even quadruple batches of both savory and sweet foods.  Freeze in convenient sizes so you can easily pull what you need out of the freezer to thaw and for a fast meal.
  • Word of mouth.
  • Apply “Mise en place” or the French art of having everything in its place. Prep ingredients ahead of time, not just for the meal on hand, but for meals for the upcoming week. For example, I use a lot of onions in my meals, so I peel and cut several of them and store them in the refrigerator.  Onions also freeze well for later use in meals.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable (or are uninterested in) converting “regular” recipes, there are numerous blogs with free recipes that will meet your requirements.  Email me for more information on converting recipes at:  cynjaknul@aol.com
  • Keep notes!  Write down or edit personal files with any changes you’ve made in a recipe, including what worked and didn’t work for the next time you make the dish.

In general, don’t let fear prevent you from making good tasting and nutritious meals. You never know if your next masterpiece is just waiting to happen because you were willing to take a risk!

  1. Now for another hot topic, what suggestions would you  have for a person trying to reduce then eliminate sweets or sugar in his or her diet when following a special health protocol?

This is challenging.  An answer depends upon one’s definition of “sugar.” Are we talking refined sugar? Honey? Maple Syrup? Starches? Starchy vegetables? Grains? Fruits? I haven’t done this myself so I would not be the person to ask. I’ve reduced sugars but not to a huge extent regarding fruits, grains, starchy veggies.

  1. Will sugar free foods generally cost more or less than what I am eating now?  How about gluten-free foods?

Again the answer depends upon the  type of foods for which  you are looking. Anything that is considered “different” or “specialized” will generally cost more, even if it doesn’t cost the company much to make it!  Also many companies, even those selling so-called “healthy” foods, cut corners in their ingredients by adding fillers, artificial preservatives, MSG, smaller amounts of the “key” ingredient, etc.  For various reasons, foods that have fairly pure ingredients tend to cost more. One example is “power bars” that are made only with dried fruits and nuts.

 I make most of my foods from scratch because in the long run, it is cheaper than buying prepared items, plus they are more flavorful and healthier. For example: many flour mixes at the store contain highly processed gluten-free flours such as rice and starches.  There are some mixes available with” ancient grains” but they generally cost more. 

10. Wow, you’ve really helped me get energized on using food as part of my medicine for healing!  We might need to chat again to include other special dietary needs such as dairy-free, non-GMO, organic vs. non-organic, and more!  If there was one thing you would like to say to encourage our Gentle Readers who might be stressed-out with a new way of eating, what would you like to tell them?

Be patient and kind with yourselves. Seek out support, whether it be from research, friends, family, others who are in similar situations, etc. Don’t give up!

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Well we hope that this special blog post will be helpful in the journey to health for you and your family.  For more information, please feel free to contact Cindy at:  cynjaknul@aol.com  Seeya next time!  Just Julie