Tag Archives: strawberries

It’s Not Your Normal (Fattening) Dessert – It’s Chi-Chi-Chi-Chia!

Dessert? I want!

But wait. That’s not good for me. RIGHT?

 

 

 

You’re not going to give me a stick of celery and call it dessert are you?

No way!  Instead, I’m going to share some options with you that revolve around some pretty amazing seeds.

If you’ll permit me to review a short segment from my book, Toolkit for Wellness, I’d like to reintroduce you to:

Chia Seed Secrets

Chia seeds. Possibly the 8th wonder of the world!

Consider this nutritional profile for 2 tablespoons of chia seeds:

  • Protein keeps you full and decreases appetite, two times the protein of other grains or seeds
  • Calcium, calming and beneficial to bones, 5 times the calcium of milk with 18% of the RDA
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, very anti-inflammatory and beneficial, 5 grams
  • Fiber, essential for smooth functioning bowels, 11 grams; 40% fiber by weight
  • Net carbohydrates, which we do not want in abundance, 1 gram
  • 30% RDA of manganese, magnesium, and 27% RDA of phosphorus
  • Full of anti-oxidants
  • Slow absorption which keeps you feeling full and satisfied

If you are just starting to “do your body good” with each meal, you may have some sense of a lack of fulfillment – or downright panic -with no added sugars. Dessert seems to be a thing of the past.

You can rest easy!  All you need to do is incorporate a modest amount of chia seeds into your cuisine.

It’s amazing what you can do with just one tablespoonful of chia seeds, one-half cup of near boiling water, a half-cup of unsweetened applesauce, and six minutes! Just watch as I share with you some chia seed magic!!

One tablespoon of chia seeds in bowl-

 

Add one half cup of near boiling water-

 

 

Seeds are swelling a bit at 1 minute 30 seconds –

 

 

It will be thicker at 5 minutes-

 

 

 

Now stir in your favorite unsweetened applesauce-

 

 

Voila! She won’t win a beauty pageant, but she’s good!

In the recipe section of Toolkit for Wellness, I included a few ideas to dress up these seeds into what I call a jam. If you add berries and cook them in on the stove, you can get a bowl of chia goodness (that will be prettier).

I had some unsweetened strawberry applesauce I used the other day, so the color and texture is a nice shade of seedy looking dark pink. And just remember, this has natural sweetener – no added sugar!

What this chia seed, pudding-like mixture is doing for me is providing satiety through its protein and high-fiber content. That little gnawing feeling that can creep into your tummy around eight o’clock at night will go right away with a bowlful of chia seed pudding.

Your constipated bowels will love you. Regular ingestion of chia seeds can be a great part of assisting in normal bowel function.

No guilt! The seeds are flavorless in and of themselves; what you add creates the flavor. A small handful of dried fruit works well, too.

By the way, this can make a great snack any time of day, and has often been my quick breakfast if I was short on time or didn’t want to eat a lot first thing in the morning.

Chia seeds check ALL of the boxes for “doing a body good.”

In health and EMBRACING all of the goodness chia seeds provide-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Bit of T.L.C. To Calm The Winter Storm

Have you noticed?

Can you hear that?

People whimpering… Aches, pains, and just feeling bad are all around.

After maintaining stable health and immune systems through the fall and early winter, folks are dropping like flies to bronchitis, strep, sinus infections, colds that travel through the entire family and even to the pets, (a Chihuahua sneezing is a sad state of affairs), flu, and pneumonia. I have friends on Facebook with tender bodies who even complain their hair hurts.

That’s bad.

Forget the New Year’s party hats. Where’s the chicken soup?

If you or your loved one fall into the category of the “whimpering needy,” then some serious TLC is headed your way! With minimal energy, you can fix these soothing, nutrient-enriched recipes in a jiff! With a few basic ingredients, you can go a long way to body-friendly comfort measures.

One is a healing and strengthening tea, and the other is soup. While others are dashing to the store for peanut butter, bread, milk, and eggs in the face of winter storm advisories, make sure you grab: lemons, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, honey, chicken, quality broth, and green tea.

Background information:

Fresh ginger, lemon, and honey tea is a tried-and-true standard for throat therapy and protection.

Ginger is often referred to as a universal medicine and dates back to ancient Chinese and Ayurveda traditions. Ginger tea contains high levels of vitamin C, amino acids, and trace minerals. As an anti-inflammatory, ginger calms down unhappy tummies and helps to open airways.

Lemon is also a good source of vitamin C and has long been touted as a benefit to daily detox, get-your-body-started-for-the-day, and a help for regularity. My spry grandmother was a firm believer in daily lemon water; she lived a healthy 100 years. So, there you go!

Honey is not only a good source of energy, but packs a powerful load of antioxidant, has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is a natural cough suppressant.

Hot or cold, ginger-lemon-honey tea can be just what the doctor ordered. Given the current freezing temperatures, hot is preferable.

Here’s what you’ll need to do for a quick healing brew:

GINGER LEMON HONEY TEA

In a saucepan, assemble:

About 1 to 1 1/2 inch of peeled, sliced fresh ginger

Juice of 1 lemon – And a few extra slices of lemon to float around, if desired

Honey to taste

5-6 bags of green tea

6 cups of water

Heat all ingredients on medium heat and let steep awhile.

Strain and serve. Refrigerate leftovers to reheat.

This can be a bit tangy thanks to the ginger and lemon; vary the amount of honey to balance the sweet-to-tangy ratio.
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That wasn’t too hard to do! Now you have something helpful to sip on while you prepare this gentle, healing, and easy-to-prepare meal.

Background information:

Garlic is rich in allicin, which has powerful antioxidant properties and is beneficial to blood pressure and blood sugar regulation (See my book, Toolkit for Wellness for more information about garlic and other allicin-containing foods.)

Chicken soup – aromatic and therapeutic – just ask Grandma. It works!
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GARLIC LEMON HERB CHICKEN

Any cut of chicken will do. Today I used a chicken breast, semi-frozen and chopped into small pieces. Other times, I have used thighs with bones in to stew a long time. Whatever cut of chicken you have around will do.

About 5-6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped (do this at least 10 minutes prior to cooking to release the good things – allicin – that make garlic good for you)

About 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches of peeled, sliced fresh ginger

One lemon, rind ends removed, sliced and seeded

Some onion, chopped (Do this 10 minutes before cooking, as well)

Salt

Pepper

Dill weed – The dill weed pairs very well with the lemon

Chicken Broth – free range, if possible

Optional, rice-based, gluten-free noodles

Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, and lemon slices in butter and olive oil until onions are translucent.

Add chicken. If cubed, stir until all sides lose their pinkness. If whole pieces, brown on each side.

Add broth and seasonings to taste. Simmer until meat is done and flavors have incorporated.

Optional: Before serving, add some Thai, thin rice noodles if your tummy will allow. These cook in a couple minutes.
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The good thing about this soup is you can eat it in stages as your constitution allows:

Savory broth first.

Broth and a few noodles next.

There is nothing like Mama’s TLC and chicken soup, to be sure, but this comes in at a close second- especially if you are the source of your own TLC!

Cuddles to my friends in need. Sorry you have whatever version of the “crud” you have. Nurse yourself back to health with this healing tea and soup. Don’t try to get back onto your feet too fast or your body will let you know who is boss for sure. Relapses are usually worse that the first round!

Be safe!

In health-

Deidre …  Healing from a sty that has made me feel like I had a cold.

Now, where’s my tea?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Hear Me Now?

Your body knows best.  Are you listening?

Many of us have bodies that are screaming at us; but we aren’t listening. Instead, we grab another Tylenol and hope for different results. Right?

How’s that working for you? Doing the same things and hoping for different result.

Come on, folks!

Case in point is my Great Oatmeal Experiment.

For many years, I have followed the anti-inflammatory style of eating as described in my book, Toolkit for Wellness. The part I was particularly careful about was no gluten-containing grains; no wheat, barley, or rye grains. But other grains such as corn, rice, oats, and others could be problematic because of their lectin and phytate components.

Lectins can mess with the hormone that tells us we are full and satisfied. Phytates can make the minerals we eat bio-unavailable for proper absorption and use by our body.

Each of us has different levels of tolerance.  We won’t know what our tolerance levels are unless we LISTEN.

Listen to what?

Our body talking to us! Do we feel energized? How are those muscles and joints feeling? Headaches again? Unhappy belly? More bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea?

Once your body is “cleansed” for a while by removing inflammatory foods, reintroducing potential offenders has to be handled very carefully.

Just like introducing one new food at a time, not unlike that of a baby learning to eat foods, we have to be careful to reintroduce only one new previously eliminated food at a time, to identify something that is going to cause a bad reaction.

I have corn-based food every once in a while. When corn-on-the-cob “comes in” during the summer, I do indulge. Corn tortillas for tacos? Sure.

Still steering away from gluten.

Enter “Gluten Free Oatmeal.”

I needed to shake up my husband’s breakfast menu a bit; provide more fiber – you know – good for you oatmeal?

I even posted on Foodtalk4you’s Facebook feed about how I had ramped up oatmeal’s “goodness” factor by adding chia seeds and coconut oil. I created another oatmeal recipe by adding collagen hydrolysate and coconut oil. Ramped-up protein and brain healthy fat! What could be better?

I was pleased as punch in making double recipe “vats” of this so I could easily nuke a bowl of goodness for EACH of us in the morning.

Or so I thought.

There are so many factors affecting how we feel. Sometimes it’s hard to tease out the one offending element.

I was still sitting way too much at home while I spent time in my husband’s room (he is confined to a hospital bed at home). On top of that, I am currently writing another book, “Caregiver’s Handbook for Caring for the Bedridden,” which requires more sitting at the computer. Efforts to go to the gym once or twice a week are being met, along with home stretches to break up sitting sessions, and almost daily planks.

But something was WRONG.

Everything from my waist down hurt. Heels first. Then hips. Then legs. Is it possible to get that old so fast? Is this my life forever?

Didn’t seem natural. Certainly, I am living under unusual and stressful circumstances – but, I was falling apart. Grabbing two Ibuprofen, for heaven’s sakes.

We are “Designed for Health”. That’s my mantra. Geez! That’s the name of the classes I teach!

“Can you hear me, now?”

Could it be my “super-healthy-ramped-up-gluten-free-oatmeal?

Only one way to find out.

Stop the oatmeal.

Well, I did.

After just seven days with no more oatmeal, I can get up and start walking with feet and hips that are not screaming.

I listened, and I did something about it.

Yes, I miss my hot, steaming bowl of healthy comfort food, but I LOVE not hurting.

Goodbye oatmeal. Hello happy body!

It’s a choice.

Are you listening? Your body will love you for it.

In health-

Deidre

 

 

Watermelon-Mint Summer Salad!

Espousing coping skills, and actually using them, are two different things. As my beloved continues to slumber more than 15 hours a day now, it would be easy for me to just ‘spin in place’ as I watch his winding down. The three rounds of planks that energized me on Tuesday, are just not motivating me today. My yoga mat is not calling to me.

Today’s coping skill is in shifting focus away from me and onto sharing something good with YOU my dear readers!

I have clipped out and saved so many nifty-sounding recipes for salad dressings; and yet have used virtually none of them. If you are like me, then I even hesitate to share a recipe. Rather, I am sharing a concept instead.

Necessity being the mother of invention, an idea came to mind this week that answered several needs:

  • Something to moisturize some dry leftover baked chicken that was destined to be chopped up into a salad.
  • Something that would use at least a part of my over-abundant supply of mint. Note to self: plant less mint and more basil.
  • Something that would ‘smile’ at me from the salad bowl and lift my spirits.
  • Something that would use up this watermelon that I am the only one eating now.

Voila!

Watermelon Mint Salad Dressing

Remember, this is a concept, not a ¼-teaspoon-at-a-time recipe!

The first step is to smash-up some watermelon.

For my solo serving, I used half of an inch-slice of watermelon taken from one of those mini bowling ball-sized melons. An old fashioned potato masher does the job and leaves some small chunks.

Add some chopped up fresh mint leaves. I generally use the leaves from a 12-inch stem.

Salt

Pepper

Splash of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Splash of white wine vinegar

That’s it! Stir and pour over your salad!

Having made this three times this week, my salad contents have varied with the addition of leftover sautéed okra, avocado, mango, blueberries, steamed broccoli, and of course that chicken.

Salads are a wonderful way to keep soaking up all of that fresh summertime vegetable goodness. Cooking pretty much for one now, I tend to cook more than I need for one meal.

Just convert most leftovers to salads in the summers!

This Watermelon-Mint Summer Salad Recipe concept has revitalized my flagging spirits and has given me fun nutritional meals.

We’ll be needing this added aspect of cooling, as yet another heat wave is in progress!

Thanks for reading-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Balanced

Are you feeling like you need to come up for air? Gasping and gulping in fresh air before taking another dive? That’s me, too! Taking vacations can definitely help, but we need to “breathe” more often than that.

I am already seeing some leaves changing color. Yesterday, a couple yellow leaves skittered across the still verdant and rapidly growing lawn. A quick look around at some sassafras saplings showed speckles of orange leaves.

Where’s the ‘pause’ button? Summer’s half over and there are already signs of fall in mid-July! Yikes!

One thing I’ve gleaned from our daughter’s successful completion of residency in family medicine – is how to survive and thrive. She had, very carefully, selected a residency program that ensured plenty of coping skills with all of its residents including:

  • Weekly group, how-are-you-doing, sessions of sharing the good/bad/ugly happenings, which became spring boards for processing their intense experiences.
  • Every-other-week meditative sessions with the entire group of residents took mental processing into the physical and spiritual realm.
  • Naturally, there was regular exercise emphasizing outdoor experiences … often in groups.
  • Frequent and spontaneous group meals, featuring nutritious whole food.
  • Their group was ever-vigilant to ‘pick up a brother’ when they fell into difficult times.
  • Lots of hugs. The real ones that last for at least three breaths. The healing kind.

What’s the ‘take away’ from all of this?

We cope and heal on so many levels, that a multifaceted approach is best.

In my case as a 24/7 caregiver, just getting away several times a week has helped – but only so much. Solo trips to the gym or walks around the waterfront answered only a part of my needs.

A quiet lunch with a friend or two is helpful; but sharing a meal with several friends meets needs you might not know were there.

What is the dynamic of a larger group?

Perhaps it’s because the conversation is not just about us.

We pour our hearts out to a friend — and that has its place.  Usually in group conversation, however, the talk bounces around; others throw thoughts into the mix, and more diverse news is shared.

There is so much more inner balance to be experienced when we participate in groups of 5-6 or more. Our perspective broadens and, quite frankly, it is so refreshing to have the focus on someone else for a bit. Additionally, we may be just who someone else needs to provide a different thought or a helping hand.

I am seeing that the scope of my ‘balancing needs’ is much broader than I had thought.

  • Improved nutrition- check
  • Time away from responsibilities- check
  • Gym 2-3 times a week-check
  • Meals with a friend or two- check
  • Personal meditation and prayer- check
  • Small group activities — need to do this more

Life is like a multifaceted gem. We need to move it around to let the light shine into all of its angles in order to appreciate its full brilliance.

Coping and balancing are the same. Are you shining light into all of your facets to achieve that inner balance?

I’m still learning … and that’s the best part!

Always learning.

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Game Pizza – “Hut! Hut! Hike!”

New Bern, NC — Even non-sports fans such as moi, (myself), can enjoy a big game, final tournament, or the Olympics, (YES!), every once in a while. What’s a big game without big game food? Can the words, ‘big game food,’ even be uttered by someone trying to, “Do my body good,” at every turn?

If you have the idea converting everything containing flour, (pretzels, pizza, or brownies), over to a gluten-free substitute will somehow magically make you healthy, think again. Going gluten-free can be one of the biggest rabbit holes we can fall in.

Wonder why that weight is not melting away after holding back on gluten? It’s probably because you have a cupboard full of gluten-free equivalents. In other words, you are still eating pretzels, pizza, brownies, pasta, cakes, and cookies. That’s a lot of carbs, folks.

But what about Friday night pizza? What about the Super Bowl? Isn’t there a better way to do pizza besides just getting the local carry-out’s gluten-free version?

YES!

You’re going to laugh when I share with you how I found this.

Shopping at the grocery store always seems to be done in such a rush, you know? I was hastily scanning the gluten-free frozen foods section when I spied what I thought was frozen thin crusts for pizza. A quick read of the very short ingredient list passed the test for no chemicals or high fructose corn syrup. Okay. Grab it. Done. Out of the store.

Upon closer inspection, these were VERY THIN crust objects. Heck. They were tortillas! Geez.

But maybe I was onto something…

Only 24 grams of carbs and no sugar? Eureka! It’s always been the sauce and toppings that called me like sirens from the deep anyway, so here we go!

Prep the baking pan by smearing some olive oil on where the tortillas go and let them thaw.

Pre-cook any desired meats. I sautéed free-range ground beef and turkey, and some ground Italian sausage. My one nod to chemicals was in the few slices of turkey pepperoni.

Prep an assortment of vegetables. I used purple onion, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, baby spinach leaves, and olives. Use your imagination- colors and textures abound!

Then assemble. If not using homemade pizza sauce, I always turn to Classico Brand Traditional Pizza Sauce because it has just a few ingredients and no HFCS.

Sauce. Meat – if using. Onions. Mushrooms. Olives. Spinach. Cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.

Yum!

This pizza may need to be eaten mostly with a fork, but the experience and taste was definitely a pizza experience.

Maybe this paper thin crust pizza will become your go-to big game or Friday night treat. It has for me!

Now, who is playing in the Super Bowl? Ah, yes! Justin Hardy, who graduated from West Craven High School, where I taught!

Falcons Justin Hardy

 

GO JUSTIN!!

I will be rooting for the Falcons!

Just sayin’.

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilly November Night’s Butternut Squash Soup!

If you buy a butternut squash every year thinking you’ll dbutternut-squash1o something creative with it but don’t…. If that lowly butternut squash just sits on your counter promising to be nothing more than an object you might want to grab in self-defense during a home invasion… Then stay tuned for some great news!

Good. Better. Best. Never let it rest until good is better, and better is best!

Plain butternut squash soup is… good.

Add caramelized onions and garlic to get something… better.

79583a8c-8bb5-44cd-bde5-718df55d33d2Add anti-inflammatory spices, creamy good-fat from coconut milk, and bone building gelatin, and you’ll have the best steamy bowlful of butternut squash goodness you’ve ever had! It’s the BEST!

Let’s get right to the recipe. This is so easy to do and was a lot less of a mess to do using my immersion blender! Wow! First time using it for creamed soups – no more transfers to the blender and then to another soup pot.

Easy-peasy!

The day before, I sliced a butternut squash lengthwise, scooped out 2e42de54-6751-414e-a47c-443a8c118e3cthe seeds, and put the cut sides down on to a rack in a baking dish with about ½ inch of water in the bottom. I baked the two halves at 350 degrees until tender enough to easily poke with a cooking fork into the thicker neck section of the squash – about 50 minutes. When cooled enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh and stored it in a container overnight.

Armed with plenty of cooked squash, putting this soup together the next day was a smooth process. Pun intended.

Simply follow the recipe below:

GOOD – BETTER – BEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Into a large soup pot on medium heat add:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped*
  • ½ BULB of garlic (that’s about 5-6 cloves), peeled, smashed, and chopped*47f1a1b0-bda5-4000-ae72-43b90f36c9b0
  • Extra Virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a soup pot
  • A dollop of grass fed butter for an extra yummy factor (about a Tablespoon or so)

Slowly sauté veggies until clear. Reduce heat and add a tablespoon or two of water to continue cooking to caramelize veggies. This may take 7-10 minutes.

43591fc8-2c67-4df6-9879-d93d40dc9a12(*) Make sure to let these prepared allium family vegetables rest at least ten minutes before cooking. See my book, Toolkit for Wellness, page 162, to learn why.

Add the following seasonings and ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons of curry
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • ½ can full fat coconut milk (if the cream is solid, scoop out about half to use and pour about half of the clear fluid into soup pot)
  • ¼ cup of Great Lakes unflavored gelatin, evenly sprinkled over the top of the ingredients
  • 1 – 8 ounce free range chicken broth with about ½ cup of water to rinse out containerimg_3024
  • Flesh of one baked butternut squash

This is where the fun started for me. Using my trusty immersion blender, I simply blitzed the cooked soup ingredients into creamy wonderfulness. No more using a dripping ladle to fill a blender in small hot batches to blitz, then pour into ANOTHER soup pot to finish. Yay! I can’t recommend my immersion blender enough!

Once the soup was piping hot there was nothing left to do but enjoy!

Deidre

I’ve worked up my 649df344-82a1-49a0-a863-ccbe511e85ceappetite for some healing soup and will be pulling out some of this Good – Better – Best Butternut Squash Soup from the freezer for dinner tonight!

Please let me know how you like this.

Editor’s note: Please CLICK HERE for a printer-friendly “Best Butternut Squash Soup” recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought – The Anti-Inflammation Diet

We’ve all seen the headlines, “Local man loses 22 pounds in three weeks by not eating one kind of thing!”  My chiropractor was almost  giddy as she shared the news with me that one of her patients had lost 22 pounds in just three weeks by following her advice – and mine, too, by the way – by not eating just one kind of food. He wasn’t that interested in losing weight, he just wanted to feel better. Weight loss was just an added bonus. Do you want to “just feel better”?

When my readers do this, they notice improvements in how they feel within the first week. The added bonus? My chiropractor thinks that, in no way, was that fat loss. What was lost was inflammation.

Pus, perhaps? Ewwwww!

Certainly fluid. Inflammation goes hand-in-hand with fluid rushing to the site of the “igluten-free-foodsnjury.” What if that injury is body-wide? No wonder joints are swollen, hurt, and have limited range of motion.

So what did this man and my readers try? They cut out gluten.

I’ll never forget one of my Designed for Health students who pulled me aside to show how she was able to once again put on her rings. She didn’t have to tell me she had lost weight, her slender face and trimmer figure spoke for itself. Her painful, swollen joints were gone. Her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms were far diminished. Life was good!

She felt better!

She cut out gluten. What-is-gluten

The following excerpts from my book, Toolkit for Wellness, should help you understand the mechanics behind going gluten-free and why the benefits can be so far-reaching for you. These excerpts are regarding gluten only; the lectin and phytates parts have been omitted to save space.

Glutens, and Lectins, and Phytates, Oh My!

dark forestTo quote Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz, “I don’t like this forest—it’s dark and creepy!” “Do you suppose we might meet any wild animals?” To which the Tin Man replies, “Mostly lions and tigers and bears!”

“Lion, and tigers, and bears, oh my!”

When you delve into the forest of so-called whole grain goodness, it’s a clear case of: “Glutens, and lectins, and phytates, oh my!”

While Judy and the gang became fast friends with the bashful lion, we are in no way friends with glutens, lectins, and phytates. Why? What are they anyway? ‘Johnson-Gluten-Graphic-2-1024x680

Well, going back to a better understanding how things work, let’s look at the nature of what we eat.

All living things work very hard to protect their own life. Animals run, jump, fly away, and if caught, claw, squirt toxins, sting, and bite to stay alive.

grainsWhat’s a plant going to do? Clearly not jump out of the ground and run!  Plants protect their precious seeds with coverings that are hard to penetrate, like nuts and their shells. Some fruits have noxious skin such as mangoes. Grains protect their seeds with toxic anti-nutrients: glutens, lectins, and phytates.

Briefly, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye grains. Gluten, the lectins, and phytates found in other grains, can affect a couple factors in the integrity of the structure and proper functioning of the lining of the small intestine.

Remember Dr. O’Bryan’s analogy of the fuzzy, shag carpet structure of the small intestine lining? The shag carpet structuleakygutcureres need to be maintained for proper absorption of nutrients. They can become damaged, bent, crushed even, which renders them useless in nutrient absorption. To keep his carpet analogy going, in the presence of glutens, we now have Berber carpet.

If that’s not disastrous enough, the integrity of the junctions holding the individual cells of the small intestine lining together is compromised and the intestine becomes “leaky”—also known as intestinal permeability. This is where systemic inflammation and autoimmune issues start.

Inflammatory processes are good if we have cut our finger. Temporary inflammation helps witglutenh healing the cut; but body-wide, chronic inflammation leads to auto-immune issues and disease.

All humans produce a protein called zonulin when gluten is consumed. People with Celiac Disease produce way too much. The excess zonulin causes the junctions between the cells lining the small intestine to open up, allowing toxins, and clumps of gluten molecules to get through which are then absorbed into the blood stream.

Imagine molecules of protein escaping from being absorbed for use sickerand instead, are floating around and being seen as foreign invaders. Our bodies will naturally mount an immune response which is what starts the inflammatory process I have outlined previously. Where ever this immune response happens is where trouble happens, pick an organ, any organ; pick a body system, any body system.

Researchers are saying more and more, the bedrock of most all disease is auto-immune in nature. The gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye (and the lectins and phytates in other grains and nuts) are what serve as a launching pad for auto-immune and inflammatory diseases. This is why the signs and symptoms of any level of gluten sensitivity are so broad.

gluten2To summarize an article of Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s, “The Gut-Disease Connection,” from May 8, 2014, the first step in the development of autoimmune disease is leaky gut. In the event we can reverse the leaky gut, the possibility of shutting off the autoimmune response becomes real.

Is that dark, creepy forest of whole gain goodness looking even creepier yet? Can you connect these dots to the ills we see all around us?

Why are we becoming a nation of people who are obese, diabetic, weak boned, anemic, tired, and head-achy, with ADHD in our children, and victim to mounting auto-immune diseases and Alzheimer’s? Has our DNA broken down?

Science is getting smarter but we are getting sicker! What’s wrong Abstract cells in mitosiswith this picture?

1% of us are allergic to gluten in a drastic way and symptoms of Celiac Disease, as it is called, can manifest fairly early in life. There are Celiacs who have no digestive issues; and there are non-Celiacs who are gluten intolerant with plenty of digestive issues. I have read recent articles stating there are some people on the gluten sensitivity spectrum who are only reactive to wheat. But sometimes it can take decades before the relenting damage reaches the threshold of causing life-altering disability. In fact, I want to share Bob’s story with you right now so you can appreciate what gluten overload, good stress, and bad stress can do to an adult body.

Bob’s Story:

After coming to America at age 17 from Asia, Bob enjoyed a totally American life, immersed in its culture, including the Standard American Diet. Fast forward to Bob at age 70, as he and his wife enjoy a summer trip to Germany and Austria. The good stress of a vacation in Europe is easily off-set by enjoying the cuisine-du-jour, which certainly includes fabulous German and Austrian pastries, breads, and bakery goodies three times a day. Ah! Very exciting times! Maybe not enough sleep, but plenty of pictures and good memories.

 Before they returned home that same month, Bob was experiencing symptoms of a cold, some diarrhea (traveler’s diarrhea?), and decreased appetite. Had Bob picked up some kind of virus? Okay, many travelers pick something up, nothing serious. By July, they were home; but Bob became very, very sick with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea every day. Needless to say this trim man of 125 pounds was rapidly losing weight. The doctors ordered a host of tests, especially for cancer; but they all came back clear. One doctor called this “mysterious” and wondered if he had, indeed, picked up something exotic in Europe.

Add to this mix the stress of moving to another state to be closer to family, leaving behind fabulous friends and a strong church community. Needless to say, Bob got worse. By March the following mysterious illnessyear, Bob and his doctors were convinced he was going to die. He was down to 79 pounds. In a last ditch effort, his test results were forwarded to Massachusetts’ General Hospital for further analysis.

Finally an answer was coming!

Bob had become so allergic to gluten, he was “one notch away” from being a person with full blown Celiac Disease. He had become gluten intolerant. It took eight months to finally get a diagnosis. Eight months of suffering.

 Four months later, still on a gluten-free diet, Bob is now back up to 112 pounds and feeling better each day. It took a couple weeks for him to see any changes for the better, but improvements are happening all along as his body heals.

None of us are immune to the onslaught of forces that create some degree of gluten sensitivity.

Nearly 30% of us are non-Celiac, but test positive for antibodies that indicate the body is at war with itself in some way or the other when gluten is ingested.

In all of my readings, I have never heard of a single person who has not felt better after they stopped eating all forms of gluten. They felt better, they often lost weight, their brains were clearer thinking, their aches and pains lessened, their arthritis improved, their energy levels improved, and their bellies were happy. Truly the list goes on and on.

But your grandma lived to be 102 and she ate bread all of the time? Well, Grandma’s wheat was not the wheat we are eating today. The dwarf wheat grown now is especially high in gluten.

What is one to do? Give gluten-free a real try for 30-60 days; and if  your symptoms improve, great! If you improve somewhat, but still have some level of dis-ease, then expand your eliminations to include all grains (rice, corn, oats, etc.). Once you are normalized, try reintroducing non-wheat grains, one at a time, and note your body’s response. Everyone is unique. Maybe you can eat a bowl of oatmeal or a serving of rice.

Take Away Thoughts:

• Aside from adding to a starchy carbohydrate-laden diet, which causes great swings in blood sugar levels and promotes fat storage, grain consumption presents other problems that contribute to destruction of the small intestine lining and can lead to systemic and chronic inflammation.

Take Away Actions:

• Give healing a chance! For just thirty days, eliminate all gluten and just see how improved you feel. I predict you will start feeling better after just 7 days.

 There you have the low-down on gluten. All of the recipes featured on this website and in my book are gluten-free and non-inflammatory.

Put the bounce back into your step by going gluten-free.

Click on the link here to check out Toolkit for Wellness!

In health-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

Classical Gas Blues

Has gastric reflux set up house in you? This goes beyond the 7-Tips-to-Reduce-Belching-or-Burpingoccasional heartburn. This kind of reflux can help you identify the location of your esophagus…when you’d just as soon not know. Then there’s the stealth version, too. No uncomfortable sensations in the gullet, but unexplained hoarseness or inability to sing as smoothly as you usually do.

gastroesophageal_refluxThere are other symptoms as well, including: regurgitation of a bitter tasting and burning fluid into the throat, burping, and recurring hiccups, just to name a few. Reflux or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), as it is known, can tear up a perfectly good esophagus and ruin singing careers. There is also increased risk for esophageal cancer if left untreated over time.

While the reflux was just a nuisance thing when I bent over, (which is Learn-to-Sing-Nowa lot as a caregiver), then I started having trouble singing…Well, that was too much!

There is definitely a stress factor, as well. Truly, I can have just one negative thought and bring on the reflux. Who says the mind isn’t powerful?

So, one prong of my anti-reflux campaign is stress management. Affirmations. Check. Coloring. Check. More sunshine. Check – when the sun shines. More walking. Check. Talking with friends. Check. But, I was still clinging to what also needed to be addressed.

There, again, our health is our choice.

The turning point forhow-proton-pump-inhibitors-work me came with viewing NBC Nightly News the other night, as they featured a story about the bad side effects of many common drugs given to combat reflux. In addition to the already known side effects of proton pump inhibitors being increased risk of fractures and infection (due to the drug blocking mineral absorption), the folks at Johns Hopkins discovered there is also an increased risk for kidney disease.

A 20-50% increase risk for kidney disease, in fact!

One female patient was profiled having normal kidney function in March but only 30% function by August, while taking a proton pump inhibitor. She was instructed to stop taking the over the counter medication and her kidney function increased.

Yet, drug manufacturers claim that following the recommended dosage on the label is safe. Today we’re hearing that the top medications for treating heartburn/reflux also cdoctor-bannerauses dementia!

The story concluded with a doctor from Johns Hopkins saying reflux can totally be addressed by food. He said eliminating berries, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol for 28 days will help heal the body. That was it. He was speaking to me. There was my choice for the second prong of my defense attack.

Was I going to choose health? Health without drugs?

Yes.

Caffeine consumption is going down – gradually – a cold turkey approach is not kind to the head. No more chocolate…Hey, Valentine’s Day is over! A choice is a choice. So long berries…See the recipe that follows using baked apples. No more alcohol…well, that SP_WINEisn’t hard, but my half glass of wine will just have to wait another day.

It’s day five as I write this and guess what? No reflux. Even with just half-caffeine coffee! Twenty-eight days total for healing.

Twenty-three more to go! When I get there, moderation will be my middle name.

So, with no more chocolate, what kind of treat can I devise? I return to an updated version of my Baked Fruit with Benefits. This may be the best baked apples I have ever created, and they are chock full of extra goodness (that’s the benefits part).

As a lead-up to the recipe, however, let me summarize a recent post on MarksDailyApple.com that reminded me of somcollagenething I needed to be doing: adding collagen to my diet where ever possible.

Here’s why. The amino acid glycine is the main amino acid in collagen. We make about 3 grams of this a day ourselves (so it’s considered non-essential) BUT we need a minimum of 10 grams a day – more if we are healing from injury or recovering from intense exercise. Thus, it could be categorized as a conditionally essential amino acid– meaning we need to supplement it in our diets.

pastured-cowThe big flap about not eating so much meat, apparently, can be erased by ramping up our intake of collagen – if the animal studies translate to human results. Meat-eating animals’ longevity was increased with the addition of glycine/collagen to their diets. He cited another study in which low levels of glycine predicted diabetes risk.

Glycine/collagen will also: improve quality of sleep, reduce the amount of muscle meat needed to be eaten to maintaisleepn muscle mass, is great for healthy joints, improve appearance and elasticity of skin , assist in healing of wounds, and is a key ingredient in cooking rich sauces.

Aside from eating bony cuts of meat: ribs, oxtails, necks, and the like, which all take extra time to slow cook, and from drinking collagen-rich bone broth, I add bone and body building collagen with the products pictured here.

IMG_1871The collagen hydrolysate on the left is not a thickener, and it can be stirred into liquids of any temperature. That’s the kind I used in the recipe below by mixing this collagen powder into the arrowroot/brown sugar mixture used to dust the apple bits before baking.

The powered gelatin on the right can be added to any hot liquid as a thickener. My no-bake Fruit with Benefits recipe in Toolkit for Wellness uses this to thicken the fruit juices as they cook in the pan. I add this to my home-cooked bone broths, as well. With this, you could make your own jello or fruit rolls ups!

Now to the recipe. You will notice that I crammed in every good thing I could find for this baked apple dish. Fresh fruit, gelatin, minimal sugar, and cinnamon topped with activated nuts, hemp, ground flax seed, minimal sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

Baked Apples/Pears with Benefits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease 8 x 8 inch glass dish with coconut oil

Prepare mixture used to “dust” the cut fruit. Any extra may be stored in air-tight container for next time. Quantities may vary as you may even need to mix up just a bit more if you run out.

Stir together:

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup arrowroot

¼ cup collagen hydrolysateFullSizeRender(1)

1 tsp. cinnamon/apple pie spice, or to taste

Prepare fruit by peeling, coring, slicing apples and possibly pears.

Today I used:

3 Golden Delicious apples and
1 Anjou pear

Gradually add sliced fruit to bowl and sprinkle with dusting mixture, stirring to coat after each addition.

When all fruit is prepared, transfer into prepared glass dish.apples-in-dish

Topping:
Into large fry pan on medium heat put:

2 Tbs. coconut oil

1 cup chopped activated nuts (I used the last of my walnuts, some pecans, and almonds)

¼ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup ground flax seedsFullSizeRender(2)

1/3 cup hemp seeds

2-3 tsp. cinnamon/apple pie spice

Pinch of salt, if desired

Stir to combine, and continue to stir occasionally as the topping heats and browns – about five minutes. Do not let this burn. When browned and warm, spread on top of apple mixture.

Cover dish with foil and bake foFullSizeRender(4)r 40-45 minutes until bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is delish! You can easily change-up the fruits; a handful of blueberries is awesome. A scoop of this is a great way to flavor my nightly chia seeds stirred into hot water, too! Keeps the insides humming!

Here’s to no more reflux and happy faces enjoying a healthy dessert!

Deidre

Food That Says, “I Love You”

Times have changed in some respects; and in others, not at all. I IMG_1791remember reading aloud the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of Little House on the Prairie to our children every night as we all learned of Laura and Almanzo’s adventures. Today, our grandchildren listen to The Adventures of Harry Potter. I don’t know what the children eat at the Hogwarts School, but Almanzo’s favorite repast had to include fried apples ‘n’ onions.

Being more of a city girl transplanted to small town North Carolina, this notion of apples ‘n’ onions did not beckon to my palate or culinary desires. Too bad.

First of all, they aren’t fried- as in deep fried. I don’t deep fry anything. In country jarIMG_1790gon, frying apples implies sauteing and browning until tender and even possibly cooked down to a mush.

But apples ‘n’ onions? Really?

Well, this is the month of love. If you fix apples ‘n’ onions you will LOVE the flavor of this impossibly delicious side dish that happily occupies its spot in the perfect plate fruit/fat component and part of the veggie area. Pair this side with any kind of dark-green lea fy veggie, along with lean chicken or pork protein, and you will have a meal that says, “I love you”!

With just three ingredients, this is a cinch to do, and quantities vary according to what’s on hand.

Apples ‘n’ Onions Recipe

Apples – 3-4 apples

Onion (I used a Vidalia onion) – one medium-sized onion

Coconut oil- 1-2 Tbs. of coconut oil to coat the pan wellIMG_1779

Method:

In order to activate the beneficial anti-inflammatory enzyme, allicin, slice up the onion first so it has 10 minutes to rest before heating.
Peel, slice, and core the apples into desired shape. I use an old-fashioned hand crank apple peeler/slicer/corer and just cut the slices into sI love foodmaller pieces.

Melt 1-2 Tbs. coconut oil into large sauté pan on medium heat and add prepared apple and onion slices. You may want to add a pinch of salt.

Stir occasionally and gently cook until browned and tender. Serve warm.

Recipe number two involves an oft’ forgotten little green nugget that used to be buried under an avalanche of melted Velveeta. Boy, once you stop eating “food-like substances,” as found in dairy “products” such as Velveeta, the very thought of returning to them sends chills down the spine. Ick!

IMG_1853-1
Raw Brussels sprouts and cranberries

So, what to do with that bag of Brussels sprouts? This latest recipe supersedes any I have tried thus far! My book contains a great pan-cooked version of Brussels sprouts that’s really fine and has similar ingredients, but these roasted sprouts are the BEST!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half8

1 cup activated pecans*, coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries, (not dried and sweetened), coarsely chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. finely chopped shallots

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

IMG_1862-1
Roasting!

1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt

½ tsp. ground pepper

Optional: 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar to toss in after roasting

Method:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a large baking pan, toss all ingredients together except balsamic vinegar. When all ingredients are mixed and coated with oil, arrange Brussels sprouts so the cut side faces down in baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes or untiToolkitforWellnessBolder(1)l golden brown on the edges.

Optional: Toss with balsamic vinegar when roasting is complete. These smelled so good and tasted so good right out of the oven; I forgot the vinegar and never missed it.

*Activated Pecans: Soak raw pecans in salted water 24 hours; drain; dehydrate 105 degrees in dehydrator 14 hours or bake at lowest oven temperature until crispy. This process is explained in my book, Toolkit for Wellness, and makes the nuts way more digestible and yummy.

So, there youKeep-Calm-Valentines have it! Healthy anti-inflammatory eating at its very best. Some old-school goodness from the past and some modern farm-to-table style of today!

Say, “I love you” with some good eatin’!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Deidre