Even the “animals” are gluten-free!

Eating boxed gluten-free  “convenience foods” just are crazy expensive for our family. I would open a box of crackers and they would be gone in one sitting. For some reason, gluten-free boxed foods are smaller in size/quantity,  BUT higher in price! Go figure!

My boys go to preschool twice a week, and during that time they have a snack provided for them by the school. It is usually pretzels, animal crackers, or something of that nature. I pack their snack for them to bring to school, so they can have a gluten-free snack.

I realize they are only 3, but there is quite a bit of peer-pressure that goes on at that age! I understand the need for the kids to be similar to their peers and not have that feeling of “being weird.” So I graciously try to find things to help them fit in with what the others are eating.

Jacob (age 3): “Sam brings butter-peanut  sandwiches (a.k.a. peanut butter sandwiches) to school, can I be like Sam?”

I made some gluten-free bread using some Pamela’s Bread Mix, and packed him and Logan and sandwich on that day. Both of their teachers commented on how they “couldn’t wait for lunch,” and that “they savored their sandwich.” Having a PB&J everyday would get old and loose it’s appeal, but for every once in a while, it’s special.

Okay, back to their snacks….. at first, I would take the time to pack a snack similar to if we were to have one at home:

  • cut up apples
  • almonds
  • carrots

I realized very quickly that they teachers didn’t have time to wait for the kid to eat all that. It had to be a quick snack. One of their teachers mentioned to me that another kid with a gluten allergy had the gluten-free version of animal crackers.

So, I gave them a try, and golly, they’re pretty good! AND “Jacob and Logan approved.” They enjoy their animal crackers at snack time, and they come in a few different flavors. Yes, they still cost me (an arm and a leg!) ton. But it’s half of my kids eating a serving two times a week. So I justify it. It is also only a snack for preschool.

This is my most favorite brand, K-Kritters. It’s base is rice flour.

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Until next time, *GRRRRRRROWLLLLLL!!!!!* (like the noise you make when you eat an animal cracker…..)

Kelly

Pamela’s Gluten-free mix products

I’m not big on buying premade gluten-free stuff. I do buy the boys gluten-free animal crackers for school, but that’s about it. In August, on a trip to Colorado, I discovered Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix. And oh my gosh, it is the…BOMB! 😉

It is more expensive than regular wheat baking and pancake mixes, but for a gluten-free mix this stuff tastes and acts very similar to wheat products. And it’s still way cheaper than buying the products pre-made. You can get it in most stores, but I buy it from Amazon (3- 4lb bags for $47.49). It lasts our family of six about 4 months. I make cookies, pancakes, waffles, and muffins with it.

Pamela’s has another product I’ve been really enjoying….especially lately!….Gluten-free Bread mix. Our family doesn’t eat much bread, but it is nice to have a bread mix around for the occasional “hey, I feel like a PB&J today.” The bread made from this is awesome! It holds up really well, and in a tastes test against regular white wheat bread, I bet I could fool you! 😉 Anyways, I want to try to make pizza crust with it sometime. More to come, I guess!

(No, I don’t get paid commission by Pamela’s…I just really love their products!!) My last recommendation is Pamela’s Chocolate Brownie Mix. Another great product with great results. This is great for the quick “Oh no, I’m suppose to bring a dessert!” mix. Two great things about this product: 1. No sugar. It uses honey and molasses; 2. On the packaging there is several different options to make up the brownies. If you want less fat, follow this direction. If you want egg-less, follow this direction. If you want cake-like, follow this direction…and so on. Anyways, great product. Love, love me some chocolate brownies!!

Happy Baking!

Kelly

I’m alive…really!

So it’s been 2 months since my last blog entry. I’ve got a good reason, I’ve been sick!

Right now, I’m stuck at home with strep and I swear, if I have to call into work one more time….. ugh!

Okay, so being sick has really been getting me down. It throws off my work schedule, my kids, my home life, and my food. Yes, my food. For some reason whenever I’m sick, my “get well food” is saltine crackers. Apparently, so I heard from friends, this isn’t a common food and in fact is nasty. I’m supposed-to be eating chicken noodle soup or something of that nature.

Over Christmas, we celebrated with my family at our house for a few days and then left for Florida to visit my husbands family. It was a wonderful holiday season, and as we all know, it’s hard to maintain diet-exacto. 😉 So I would generally make healthy choices, but the cookies….and the bread….and the other things….that all make up the holiday’s, were scattered into my holiday daily plan.

My thoughts: “Well I can tolerate it!” and “I’ll just run it off in the morning.”

Ugh, boy was I wrong. I got back from vacation and had some how managed to loose 3 pounds, and my diet was still a little off. Yes, I ate my perfectly wonderful fruits and veggies, but I sprinkled in some more of my holiday foods (cookies, etc.). I was home, and it was January, but I was still in “holiday mode” with my food.

Then the pains started. Severe pains. Like rolling on the floor, shoot me in the belly, pains. I thought I was…I don’t know…something was off.

The pain would go on for six to eight hours. Then it would end as quickly as it came on, and a week later !BAM!—hit with the severe pain again! I could almost count down until it would hit. Every 7-8 days the pain would hit. After the third round of this Shawn said “enough is enough,” and took me to the doctor. To which the doctor referred me to the ER immediately. (Apparently, serve stomach pains aren’t good thing in the “doctor world.”)

The ER doctor ran his series of scans on me, to which it showed nothing. He then confidently announced (based on nothing) that I had ulcers and I should start on Prevacid, and also referred me to a GI doctor. Afraid of the stomach pains coming back I immediately started on the meds and called the GI doctor.

Within four days of taking the Prevacid, I felt worse, all the time. I realized that it was not the right medication for me so I took myself off of it and started feeling better over the next few days. All while this is going on, I realized eating my go-to-sick-item, saltine crackers, made me feel better, temporarily.

Finally, two weeks after the ER visit, my appointment for the GI doctor arrives. (YAY!) He examines me, takes a looks at my sonogram and lab slips from the ER, and asked me tons of questions. He suggests two separate tests, both of which are approximately $2000 each. (Yeah, I have insurance, but really don’t want to get into that right now….)

One comment he did make to me, at the end of the exam was “You know, a lot of these tests come back as gluten-intolerance.”

Because our insurance “rolls-over” in March, we decided to wait until March for the tests. But in the mean-time I started immediately (back) on a gluten-free diet. Yup, I’m following my rules. Holiday’s over. Time to re-commit to what I believed in the first place.

And guess what…..

Day #12 with NO severe stomach pains!

Keep ya posted!

Kelly

What’s with all the Gluten Intolerances?

I came across this article and thought it was an excellent, and easy explanation of why there are so many gluten intolerance today. I was just talking about this subject with my parents and we all had an opinion as to why there are more cases of it than “back in the 50’s.”

My friend Rose read the book “Wheat Belly” and wrote up a book review. For her, wheat is not her friend. “Wheat Belly” explained to her just why wheat just isn’t the same wheat from the 1950’s.

Back to the article.….Sarah Wilson answers the question of WHY. Here are some of her responses:

“There are a number of very valid reasons for the growing number of people having to pass on the pizza.

The short form: gluten is a poison. We tolerate it, and tolerate it, like cigarettes in the lungs. And then. One day. It’s too much. Things tip over and BANG we have lung cancer. Or gluten intolerance. Or celiac’s disease.

But more detail…and they’re facts, mind.

* We’re eating more wheat than ever before. Tried to eat lunch lately without wheat? Pizza, foccacias, turkish toasts, pasta… And noticed how BIG the bread-y bits are?

* And add to that: Wheat today contains more gluten than ever before. Spelt, for instance, is an ancient version of wheat. It’s low-gluten, as many of you know. But it was long abandoned for modified strains of wheat that contain more gluten. Why? Gluten is an insecticide so farmers like a strain of wheat that requires less pest control. Gluten makes for lighter, fluffier, Wonder Bread-ish baked goods…so bakers like the super gluten strains, too.”
Sarah goes on in her article to break down just HOW gluten poisons the body:

  • ” It eats away at your gut lining. If the gut is damaged, you do not absorb nutrients.
  •   It messes with the gall bladder and bile production. If you do not absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, and other nutrients, you will have problems utilizing any minerals you do absorb, to say nothing of the nutrient deficiencies from inadequate essential fats.
  • Phytates tightly bind to metal ions and make them unavailable for absorption.
  • All of which can lead to autoimmune disease and cancer. Once the gut lining is damaged, we are at exceptionally high risk of autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s, and several types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The pancreas is assailed by grain-induced inflammation due to CCK problems and elevated insulin levels. This inflammation is a potential cause of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).”

Credit: sarahwilson.com
Kelly

Book Review: “Wheat Belly”

My dear friend, Rose, recently read the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis. She was wonderful and wrote a review of the book. It was originally posted on her blog, but she was nice and let me repost it. 🙂 Thank you, Rose, for your work on this! Below is her review:

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

“I don’t know if I would really call this a book review.  I guess I just don’t know how to define book review.  I read this book – and here are some of my thoughts and findings.  I think everyone should read this – if they want to learn about today’s wheat and how the government has changed it over the past 30 years.

“Eliminating wheat may be inconvenient, but it is certainly not unhealthy.” – Wheat Belly by William Davis

Okay, last week I finished reading Wheat Belly by William Davis.  I am amazed at the amount of information I learned from this book.  I read it cover to cover – taking time to reread things that flew over my head.  I love to read, but when reading information and statistics, I get a little bit lost.

I think this is an excellent resource.  I really believe the information is valuable.  Throughout my reading it, I would take screen shots of sections with my phone and text them to people whom I thought would find the information valuable.  Some people did not like this, but one person, whom I am shocked to admit is my husband, was fascinated by the information I sent him.

Let’s start out by saying that the wheat of today is not the wheat from 100 years ago.  It’s not the wheat from 50 years ago (or my parents’ childhood).  Heck, it’s not even the wheat from when I was a little girl.  Wheat today is actually a hybrid version of the wheat that our ancestors relied on as a food source.

First of all, it ain’t wheat. It’s the product of 40 years of genetics research aimed at increasing yield-per-acre. The result is a genetically-unique plant that stands 2 feet tall, not the 4 1/2-foot tall “amber waves of grain” we all remember. The genetic distance modern wheat has drifted exceeds the difference between chimpanzees and humans. If you caught your son dating a chimpanzee, could you tell the difference? Of course you can! What a difference 1% can make. But that’s more than modern wheat is removed from its ancestors. (http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/07/wheat-belly-frequently-asked-questions/)

The first thing I was shocked to learn about today’s wheat is that “eating two slices of whole wheat bread can increase your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of pure sugar cane” Wheat Belly by William Davis – back cover.   This fact appalls me.  It also explains why people who are diabetic and who cut out sugar and increase their “whole grain” intake are overweight and continue to be overweight regardless of what they do to their diet.  The other information amazes me as well.  My husband struggles with his weight.  He has since right before we got married.  We switched everything we eat to “whole wheat” early in our marriage because we have been taught that as long as we are eating “whole wheat” we are healthy and would lose weight and prevent a ton of illnesses.  Even in doing so, I noticed that Stephen is always eating late at night.  He isn’t eating “bad” foods.  He makes a few pieces of toast, has an apple with peanut butter, counts out a serving of chips, etc.  But he can’t seem to conquer his night time cravings and therefore suffers from acid reflux and excessive snoring amongst a few other “issues” he has.  Wheat Belly addresses this and suggests to remove wheat from your diet for 6 weeks.  Stephen is on board so this week – now that the craziness of the month is over – I am on a mission to create a wheat free menu for the next six weeks for our family.  I am eager to see what happens.

All in all, I think the idea of removing wheat is a good one.  Of course, people are wondering what will we eat?  This is what we will enjoy – real, natural foods such as eggs, raw nuts, plenty of vegetables, fish, fowl, and meats. I am able to use healthy oils – olive and coconut liberally.

I’ve been trying to live a Paleo lifestyle, and it hasn’t been the easiest thing to do.  So I have had my fair share of “gluten free” foods.  I don’t buy gluten-free processed foods, but when I go out to eat, if there is a “gluten free” option, I usually try it.  It is important to remember – and Wheat Belly points out that “Gluten Free” processed foods are just that – they are processed foods.  Don’t fall for the “GF” label – if it comes in a box and is labeled GF, it is still processed foods that contain ingredients that you cannot pronounce and more than likely has corn syrup and sugar in it.  Taking wheat out of your diet and replacing it with processed foods is not going to make you “all better.”  Taking wheat out of your diet and replacing it with beautiful, whole fruits and veggies and meats and eggs will make a huge difference.

Now the only thing about the book that I found really interesting and a bit off the top is that the author starts off with “Remove wheat from your diet – it is the worst of the worst carbohydrates.  But other carbohydrates can also be problem sources, as well as . . .” (Wheat Belly, Davis 204).    Then he goes on to say “don’t replace wheat with GF foods from the store.”  After that, he goes a little over the top in my opinion – and I understand why because he’s trying to prevent diabetes, but he closes with “If you wish to roll back the appetite-stimulating, insulin distorting, and small LDL—triggering effects of foods beyond wheat , or if substantial weight loss is among your health goals, then you should consider reducing or eliminating the following foods in addition to wheat…” (Wheat Belly, Davis 204).  Are you ready??

Cornstarch, corn meal, all snack foods, desserts, rice, potatoes, legumes, fruit juice and soft drinks, dried fruit and other grains as well as FRUIT.

Yep – he suggests eliminating all the above foods (and that means foods that contain those foods) and then gives you the suggestion of eating meats, raw nuts, good oils, dairy (LOTS OF DAIRY) and veggies. And only some fruits – berries are the fruits that Davis recommends you consuming avoiding bananas, mangoes, papayas and pineapple should be limited if not eliminated from your diet because of sugar content.

I do think that eliminating wheat from anyone’s diet, especially someone who has an addiction to it like my husband would benefit from it.  The gut issues described in this book – celiac, ulcerative colitis – the weird ailments that are caused from wheat – insomnia, certain ADD/ADHD/Autism diagnosis – and even the fact that “whole wheat” is a leading contributor to diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes.  The effects of wheat have been shown in study after study.

I also fully believe that there is a cycle of hunger after eating wheat which is why one must eat so much throughout the day.  The first thing I noticed when removing wheat and grains from my diet is that I wasn’t hungry:

Recall that people who are wheat-free consume, on average, 400 calories less per day and are not driven by the 90-120 minute cycle of hunger that is common to wheat. It means you eat when you are hungry and you eat less. It means a breakfast of 3 eggs with green peppers and sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and mozzarella cheese for breakfast at 7 am and you’re not hungry until 1 pm. That’s an entirely different experience than the shredded wheat cereal in skim milk at 7 am, hungry for a snack at 9 am, hungry again at 11 am, counting the minutes until lunch. Eat lunch at noon, sleepy by 2 pm, etc. All of this goes away by banning wheat from the diet, provided the lost calories are replaced with real healthy foods.  (http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/press-media/faqs/)

Reading this book has taught me, just like searching my Bible for answers regarding certain topics, that everyone much do the research themselves.  You cannot rely on information you were given as a child because your parents, church, or friends offered it to you.  You have to discover things on your own, and have your own conviction based on your own findings.  Because if you don’t, you may end up being unhealthy and unhappy because you never thought to find out for yourself.”

Posted by Rose
Rose is a part-time working mom to two beautiful children, Hannah (age 9) and Cayden (age 7). She is married to her best friend, Stephen.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies…ohhhh yum!

Okay, so I know this is like my second post on chocolate chip cookies. Can you tell I loooove chocolate chip cookies!?!?!

Today I decided to try another recipe from my new book, “Babycakes.” This is the second one I’ve tried, and usually in trying new recipe books, I end up with one or both just tasting like junk. Well, this book has far exceeded my expectations and was WELL worth the $15 I spent on it.

The chocolate chip cookies, well, I could eat the whole batch in one sitting. (I didn’t though…) 😉 I am extremely picky about my cookies, particularly chocolate chip, just because I compare everything to my beloved Toll House version from the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But alas, those will not do any longer for our family.

The recipe called for the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free flour and used evaporated cane juice for the sweetener. (I guess this is the part of the book that was “mostly sugar-free.”) The recipe also includes flaxseed meal, and applesauce…and of course a few other baking goodies that I won’t post in detail due to copyright laws 😉

I was very cautious on trying this one. I’ve tried countless alternative chocolate chip cookie recipes, and nothing has even come close to my Toll House. I had kind of given up on finding a new perfect recipe…..until I tasted one of these. I am not exaggerating, these tasted EXACTLY like Toll House cookies, with slightly crispier edges. I’m not kidding. Trust me, I’ve sampled two….er, um, maybe five….just to make sure my findings are correct!

I’m sold. Vegan chocolate chip cookies from “Babycakes” here I come. Sorry, Toll House, we are officially broken up.

Kelly

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

My sweet little Julia and her Carrot Cake Cupcake….er, um, muffin!….this morning for breakfast.

Yesterday, Hannah and I decided to tackle a recipe a my new baking book, “Babycakes.” (I mentioned it in a previous post.) Everything in this book is vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free….how much better could it get!! Hannah picked out the carrot cake cupcakes to bake first.

In case you are interested in the recipe product breakdown:

The flour we used for this recipe was Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-free Flour. It is a nice mixture of potatoes, sorghum, tapioca, garbanzo, and fava beans.

For the sweetener, the recipe called for agave nectar.

The frosting is made from coconut oil, rice milk, rice powder, and agave nectar.

Put all together, and it produced one awesome little cupcake! Can’t wait to try more from this book!!

Some new books

Here are two new books I am reading. I just picked them up today, and am excited to get reading!

The first one: “Main Street Vegan.” ….”OMG! HOW WEIRD!” I know, right? I really never thought I’d be exploring such a strange option! And I know it’s probably not that weird. But along our journey, one thing I did notice is how much better I felt super dosed up on vegetables. I noticed a difference when I ate too much meat (as in 2-3 servings per day). The day after I would feel slow and sluggish. I have already been beef and pork free for almost a year. I’m not sure if I could be 100% vegan ….(as I’m writing this I’m chowing down on some greek yogurt!) ….but adding in more vegan meals and using more plant based protein definitely sounds appetizing to me. Anyways, the book is about being an “everyday type vegan” not the one that eats tofu for Thanksgiving meals!

The second book I bought is called “Babycakes.” OHHHH, I am so excited to break into this book with my girls!!! Colorful photos of cookies, cakes, and cupcakes on every page has got the two of them (and me!) drooling! It’s a cookbook that is “vegan, (mostly) gluten-free, (mostly) sugar-free, recipes from New York’s most talked about bakery.” Using alternatives like applesauce instead of butter/oil, and alternative flours and sugars….sign me up! 🙂 I will keep you posted on any fun recipes me and my two mini bakers find.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Chewy Granola Bars

Oh yum…..

My kids LOVE these! For my four kiddos, I usually double the batch and put it in a 9×13 pan. The recipe is super easy and I just pour everything in my handy-dandy-mixer and then bake.

They don’t last long around my house! I make them with raisins and chocolate chips, but some sort of nut, like walnuts, would be awesome in them! (We avoid nuts due to allergies.)

Thank you to Gluten-Free Easily for sharing them.