Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gluten Free Survival: Biscuits

I'm a southern girl.

I need biscuits.

I ain't kidding.

Just when I seriously thought, "How in the world can I live gluten, sugar, dairy and egg free for the rest of my life?!", these biscuits came in and saved the day! (and the diet)

  • Simple to store - will save in freezer. I'm not sure how long because I eat them all within 3 weeks, but based on freezing breads in general, it would probably be good to eat them within 3-4 months.

  • Simple breakfast, just pop a couple in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, then spread on some Simply Basic dairy free butter and either some Smucker's Simply Fruit spread (blackberry is awesome) or some raw honey. Of course, this works for a great snack too.

  • Best of all, they are simple to make! These only took a short while to make. I adapted an all-purpose flour biscuit recipe to be gluten, sugar and dairy free. I am finding adapting "normal" recipes works out amazingly well (most of the time). So, without further ado:

Gluten, Sugar and Dairy Free Biscuits

2 Cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free "1-to-1 All-purpose Baking Flour"
2 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP Splenda 
1 TSP salt
5 TBSP cold butter
1 Cup almond milk (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 425. Sift together flour, baking powder, Splenda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into dry mixture with knives or a pastry blender until flour looks like coarse crumbs. Add milk and stir with fork until it forms a ball.

Turn dough onto floured surface and pat down into a rough rectangle about 1 inch thick. Fold and pat down again. Fold and pat once more. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.

Cut dough into biscuits, being sure NOT to twist the cutter (this impedes rising). Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

We can do this! It just takes a little effort of adapting some old favorite into new favorites!

I've lost a total of 20 lbs since eliminating gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs from my diet. 

This is eating... all day long. 

And, because of the time restraints of showing our house to sell, to now packing up to move, I have only formally exercised ONCE during this whole period of weight loss. 

Eating good and hitting your goal weight is a win-win, people!

I'll be adapting more recipes soon and posting as I can,

Keep up the fight!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vitamin D - Short and Sweet

Theory has it that lack of Vitamin D can worsen if not cause Multiple Sclerosis. The acceptable range for Vitamin D in humans is 30-100 ng/mL. A couple of weeks ago, I came in at a measly 9.3. Needless to say I was deficient.

I started Vitamin D supplements as I don't get outside as much as I'd like, but the prospect of improving my health with one little vitamin a day is always a bonus. It has even been shown that weakness associated with MS, which I acquired on my entire left side with the first attack, can be improved with Vitamin D and the increased risk of falling (been there, done that) also decreases.

Here is an excellent article on the subject of Vitamin D specifically associated with MS.

It would most likely be worth obtaining a quick check on your Vitamin D levels and address any deficiencies. Some signs and/or risks that you may be experiencing this deficiency is:

  • Your bones ache
  • You have gut issues
  • Your head sweats
  • You are 50 +
A couple of other advantages of making sure your Vitamin D levels is up to par, is it aids in cardiovascular disease, promotes weight loss, helps in calcium absorption, elevates depressed moods and it also helps protect you from contracting influenza (which is CURRENTLY in my home as I type... I hope these guys know what they are talking about!).

Vitamin D is available simply by getting exposed to a little sun each day, taking vitamin supplements, and from eating Vitamin D rich foods such as:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, trout, cod, tuna)
  • Fortified foods (Vitamin D fortified cereals, milks and juices)
  • Egg yolk (boo, I'm intolerant to eggs!)
  • Shittake mushrooms
  • Butter (again, boo!)
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
One simple change can make a huge, positive change in your health, so check it out!

Keep up the fight!


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Food Intolerance Tests Understood

Food intolerance tests have had their fair share of controversy.

One reason for this is that you cannot simply take one blood test and have your definite food intolerances laid out before you.

Here is what you get when you are tested for food intolerances. You get a lists of foods you are intolerant to, along with a list of foods you have consumed a lot of recently. This can be disturbing because you typically consume a lot of the food you most enjoy, and when that shows up on your intolerance test, that can induce fear like none other! (can you say chocolate, coffee or strawberries?!)

To keep this illustration at a minimum, on my first intolerance test, the list was:
  • strawberries 
  • cantaloupe
  • cinnamon
  • iceberg lettuce
  • all cheese
  • cow's milk
  • egg whites
  • egg yolks
  • coconut
  • gluten and wheat
  • baker's yeast
  • sugar
  • walnuts
This was quite disturbing to me (like I actually, hormonally, one month pregnantally teared up). I loved strawberries, sugar, coconut, bread and what is a pregnant girl to do without ice cream?!

Which is why I laid down this list for over a year. I didn't want to believe it... so I didn't.

Well, the truth was, it wasn't all true.

Some foods were on the list because of over consumption and/or consumption directly prior to the test. This is why you retake the test at least once, a third time is probably the charm.

To best utilize the food intolerance test, you eliminate all intolerances listed on test one. About 6 weeks later, retest without any of the initial foods on the intolerance list in your system.

So, a couple of weeks ago, that is what I did. These were the foods still remaining on my food intolerance test list:
  • cinnamon
  • all cheese
  • cow's milk
  • egg whites
  • egg yolks
  • gluten and wheat
  • baker's yeast
Before we get too excited about sugar not being on list two, the second test did not include sugar in its testing. Type 2 diabetes runs in our family, and I definitely ate too much sugar before starting this venture, so I will still keep that standard of keeping it to the very bare minimum.

Also removed were strawberries, ice burg lettuce, cantaloupe, coconut and walnuts! That may not seem like much, but when you have been avoiding certain foods, you learn to appreciate them a little more. Also, I adored these foods, which is probably how they ended up on the first intolerance test.

So, with allll that being said, I highly recommend taking a food intolerance test to avoid foods that may be vamping up your autoimmune issues, namely MS, but only if you are going to retest 6 weeks or more later, after the possible intolerants are completely out of your system. Otherwise, you may be forbidding yourself of something you love.

Keep up the fight!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Banana Nut Muffins!

I can do this!

I can do this all day long!

Honestly, there have been difficult moments since letting go of sugar, wheat/gluten and dairy. Like yesterday, when I made the kids banana nut muffins.  The sight, the smell, the smiles... were hard.

Being the stubborn sort, I attempted a gluten, dairy, egg and sugar free Banana Nut Muffin recipe using the same family recipe we have loved for years, and it was more than successful! It was wonderful!

Whether you've been thinking about letting go of these main food intolerances, or if you are feeling the lack luster of living without these food items... give this recipe a try and see if you don't love me after!

Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free 
Banana Nut Muffins

Set your oven to 400°F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

3-4 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar substitute (Splenda)
1/3 cup melted non-dairy butter (Smart Balance)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour (Bob's Red Mill "1 to 1 Baking Flour")
Walnuts, enough to sprinkle over each before baking.

Mash bananas, then add sugar substitute and butter, stirring well. 

In a separate bowl stir remaining dry ingredients together, then add this mixture to the banana mixture.

Drop batter into each cup of muffin pan, sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes. Do not undercook.

We don't have to be starved of baked goodies! 

This is key to me personally being able to maintain this lifestyle, which is imperative to protecting myself as much as I can against new MS attacks. It's definitely is an encouragement to me in this endeavor!

Keep up the fight!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Enough about diet! What about exercise?

When someone starts talking about a healthy lifestyle, exercise is the almond butter to the diet's sugar-free jelly (keeping it clean).

Hand in hand.

Not one without the other.

Let me share with you my list of exercises for the last 3+ weeks while I lost nearly 15 lbs:

  1. Taking care of my family.

That's it.

Don't get me wrong. I have exercised pretty regularly over my life and sometimes to the extreme. But, lately, I just simply haven't had the time. And that's okay.

With Multiple Sclerosis there is a wide range of exercise ability, and that can be just in one person. There have been times that I couldn't walk without a walker, and then I was able to build up to walking on the treadmill 3-4 times a week. Then again, I would have bouts of exhaustion or leg weakness and would need a break... and I've allowed myself that.

One extremely important lesson I learned from having MS is to give myself some slack. I love a quote from Annette Funicello where she said, "Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful".

That part of me that demanded perfection died nearly four years ago when I came home from the hospital from MS episode numero uno. And I danced on her grave.

So what about exercise?

Listen to your body. There is not a "one size fits all" exercise regimen for the MS patient. You can build a habitual routine such as walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine or bicycle. Or, you could head outside and soak up some vitamin D (more on that coming soon) while you plant flowers or take a walk with someone in your family and get "in the know" about their life again.

The truth is, your diet has more impact on your weight than exercise and if you are eating healthy, the more inclined you will be to get moving.

Have you juiced yet?

Have you cut out your food intolerances?

I believe your diet is the optimum first step towards feeling your best and combating MS. It's great if you are exercising regularly, don't get me wrong, it is a positive move. But don't settle for 2nd best! 

Boost that exercise with nutrients from juicing and shed some of your fatigue and mental fog by eliminating food intolerances while fending off viruses and unwanted new lesions!

It's worth it, I promise.

Keep up the fight!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

All Hail the Kale!

While juicing I have been introduced to several new vegetables and fruits along the way. Some encounters have not been fantastic, but others have made their way into our kitchen on almost a daily basis.

They will be welcome for a long while.

I'm not sure how kale stands on the taste test of leafy greens, but I DO know how they stand on the energy boost I get after drinking a juice containing kale!

Over the last few weeks since I started this new health plan, I have gone from craving breads and sugar (such as doughnuts... Daylight Doughnuts doughnuts... apple fritter... micro 8 seconds) to craving juice! Especially the ones containing kale.

So what's the secret?

Kale is pretty dense with nutrients and add that to the fact that juicing kale eliminates the bulk while retaining most nutrients, you've got a powerful punch of energy! It's loaded with...

  • 14 vitamins and minerals 
  • properties proven to lower cholesterol, which boosts your heart health
  • antioxidants which are preventative against several types of cancers
  • substances which greatly diminish normal aging of the eyes and prevents cataracts
There are many juice recipes with kale in the Reboot with Joe "101 Juice Recipes" book. I use this book daily. It's worth every penny!
What else can you do with kale? I use it in salads, since I cannot have iceberg lettuce but another favorite use is kale chips. Amazingly easy, crispy and tasty. There are a bounty of recipes online with variations of spices that I'm sure you would love to dig into at snack time.

There are also several brands of kale chips at the groceries store, usually found on the chip aisle. Of course, you can probably come out cheaper with homemade.

One more note about the power of kale... one of the 14 vitamins and minerals found in kale is a fairly large amount of vitamin C. As you probably already know, vitamin C is an immune system booster and an acid which literally fights against bacteria and viruses in your body on your behalf!

By comparison, 1 cup of kale has more vitamin C than 1 orange. 

This past week, our family was hit hard with a stomach virus (lay-on-the-couch-for-a-full-day-with-a-garbage-can-virus). Interestingly, the three people in our home who juice each day, did not become sick. 

I do not think that was a coincidence. I believe our immune systems are rocking hard! (Refer to my post titled Juicing: Considering the Cost  about how the benefits of juicing outweigh whatever extra you probably would pay to begin juicing)

Give it a try and see if you too don't feel amazingly better in only a few days!

Keep up the fight!


P.S. With no effort besides this healthier foods lifestyle, I am now only 3 lbs away from my goal weight! 16 pounds down in only about three weeks, an awesome benefit!