Sunday, February 28, 2010

The next step

Well, it's unanimous in my household. Back to no grains, no dairy.

I went out to breakfast with my husband yesterday and he mentioned that he felt better eating the 'way we were before', meaning that he felt like crap this week since we've been eating like crap. It's rare for him to really mention something like this, so that was my indication of what direction I need to move in.

And I totally agree with him. With the exception of some odd general malaise* I mentioned in the last post, I felt better without the grains and dairy. Even with the weekend treats and a little sugar here and there. The remarkable thing, though, is that when we eat well, my husband rarely if ever has to use his inhaler. Over the last week he's had some wheezing and stuffiness and has used it a lot more. I've had stuffiness, and a return of a little acne. This is not entirely surprising, since I've often heard that cutting out sugar and grains can improve asthma, but it's surprising that my husband noticed and mentioned it ;)

*regarding the 'general malaise', I am pretty sure as I previously mentioned that this is due to some change in my thyroid function. Since I was never clinically hypothyroid anyway, I'm going to try getting off my thyroid medication (I take Thyroid-s in lieu of Armour, since Forest Pharmaceuticals decided that they would change Armour into a placebo and my pharmacy decided they would stop dispensing it *rolls eyes*). I'm a little nervous about this prospect, since I experienced such an awesome improvement in my life when I started Armour a couple years ago. It literally changed my life and almost entirely rid me of depression. But, I've been having this nagging feeling lately that it's time to try going off it.

So, I've decided to try supplementing with iodine, specifically Iosol. It's also supposed to be great for PCOS. Looking at my diet, I realize I eat hardly any iodine containing foods, and I cut iodized salt out of my diet many years ago. I'm probably getting next to no iodine. I also have been feeling like my use of thyroid medication could be causing some side effects, such as elevated blood pressure. I wish my doctor was more on board with this aspect of my care, because I'd really like to get some labs run to see where my levels are at so I'd have some data to reinforce my suspicions. Perhaps I'll try making an appointment.

Rest assured, I will definitely be posting about my experiences with Iosol and weaning off my thyroid meds.

On a completely different subject I made another apple crisp tonight. No finished pictures yet but it's in the oven right now. It's not entirely paleo with 7 teaspoons of organic cane sugar and 1/4 cup of gluten free oats, but I felt it was a decent compromise. I also made ghee to put in the topping, since normal apple crisp calls for butter in the topping. I could've substituted coconut oil but I wanted to give the ghee-making a try. If you wanted to make this entirely paleo, you could always sub in more almond flour for the oats, use honey or apple juice for the sweetener, and use coconut oil in place of the ghee.

Almost Paleo Gluten Free Apple Crisp:

4 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tsp sugar or sweetener of choice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp macadamia nut oil

1 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup certified gluten free oats
1 heaping tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, made into ghee (heat on stove until milk solids separate then skim them off and discard)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all filling ingredients and place in glass baking dish. Combine all dry ingredients for topping, then add wet ingredients. Mix until blended and slightly crumbly. Spoon over filling. Place in oven and bake for appx 45 mins, until apples are soft.

The milk solids I skimmed off the ghee. I tasted this out of curiosity and got quite a shock. I guess the majority of the salt from the butter remains in the milk portion... yuck.

The crisp before baking

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tales of grains and dairy

Last week we took a trip to visit my father in law. I've always found traveling to be difficult with pretty much any type of dietary restriction but even more so when cheese, bread, and milk are out of the picture and protein is the main staple in your diet.

I tried to plan some stuff out beforehand... I took a load of macadamia nuts with me, several oranges, a couple apples, some uncooked chicken, a sweet potato, and some mayo. I did great up until Sunday at lunch, when I found myself in a seafood restaurant where almost all of the lunch options were breaded and fried.

On a whim I ordered the 'oyster burger'. I'm not usually a fan of cooked oysters, and these ones were pretty heavily breaded in panko and fried. They also came on a thick bun, so I obviously made a bad choice.

I figured one of two things would happen... I'd either feel like crap or I would feel fine. Even though I vowed not to order the oyster burger again, I ended up feeling fine. And the rest of the weekend went well! I ate at Red Robin and had a lettuce wrapped burger and some fries. I ate at Sizzler and had a really, really overcooked steak with broccoli and salad (ordered rare and delivered burnt and well done. Maybe next time I'll tell them not to cook it at all and they'll get it right?), and we ate at a diner where I ordered a chicken sandwich with ham, turkey, bacon and a side salad.

But things have been a bit of a disaster since we got back. I had no meal plan in place for this week so our meals have been sub-par and on a whim. I haven't made the best choices. In fact, I've deliberately made bad choices. Sunday I made rice pasta with italian sausage and tomato sauce. Monday we had peppered beef with roasted potatoes. But we've also had frozen pizza, frozen apple pie, donuts, Hostess pie and mexican food (cheese, beans, grains, chips).

Even though I was eating on plan before we left on our trip, I felt awful while we were gone. I can't really connect this with the way I was eating, so I think something else was going on. I also didn't get the usual mood boost I get after my cycle ends. If I connect this with some other weird things that have been going on (pain, fatigue, really foggy head and spaceyness, bone pain, toothaches, and a general feeling that I'm falling apart), I'm beginning to think that staying off of grains and dairy helped my thyroid become more active, decreasing the need for the medication. Initially I thought that I was deficient in calcium due to not eating any dairy, but I'm starting to think that was incorrect.

So, I don't know what the next step is. I'm going to get back on no grains no dairy starting today and I guess I will decide from there how to proceed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Results of baking experiment and more

Gosh, it's been a long time since my last post! Mostly that's because things have been going along just fine. I am still avoiding dairy and most grains. I do think I've been having a few too many treats here and there, though, and I know I need to rein that in. I am pretty sure the cravings are due to PMS, though.

Speaking of PMS, it's been relatively mild this month and I am very thankful for that. I am definitely attributing it to the way I'm eating because last month was basically hell, and I can tell that I'm a lot more even tempered and mellow this month.

I've 'slipped' a couple times on the no dairy, no grains, but in keeping with my goal of making this a lifestyle change I'm not making a huge deal out of it. The dairy slip was a slice of cheese that melted onto my Carl's Jr. burger patty before I could get it off (long story... ugh. But, honestly, it was 'American' cheese, so how much milk does it really have anyway?), and the grains came in the form of corn tortillas I ate last week and this week with my pork tacos. As I mentioned in a previous post, I also had a teeny serving of rice a couple weeks ago. Other than that, it's been no dairy and no grains for me.

So, on to the baking experiment. I made this the weekend before last and meant to post it sooner but I procrastinated. I opted not to do a baking experiment last weekend because this one was, uh... delicious, and actually had a lot of sugar even though I only added relatively small amounts of honey.

If I were to do this again, I definitely would put the chocolate in between the layers and put the fruit on top, since most of it spilled out of the cake. The presentation is sub par but for a dairy free, grain free cake, this was delicious!

Also, I did prefer the texture of this cake to a straight coconut flour cake (which can seem rubbery if you ask me), but don't expect the texture to be like regular cake. It's dense, almost like cornbread. The flavor is good, though!

Chocolate cherry cake, adapted from this recipe at elana's pantry

2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
10 eggs
6 oz honey
1tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup cherry filling, or fruit filling of your choice (see below)
1 batch vegan chocolate frosting (I used honey in place of the agave and walnut oil in place of grapeseed oil)

In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt
In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, honey and vanilla
Whisk flours into egg mixture until well blended
Spray sides of cake pans with nonstick spray and line bottoms with parchment paper
Divide cake batter evenly between pans
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes
Remove from oven when cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
Cool cakes for at least one hour
Run knife around cake to loosen from pan, remove from pan and peel off parchment
Place bottom layer on a cake plate and spread with filling
Place top layer on cake and frost entire cake with chocolate frosting

For cherry filling:
simmer a 10oz bag of frozen cherries and 1/4c apple juice until soft
puree cherries in a blender or food processor
put cherries back into pan and continue to simmer
combine 1/4c apple juice and 2 tsp of arrowroot powder. stir til smooth.
slowly add arrowroot mixture to simmering cherries until the mixture starts to thicken
remove from heat and cool until needed

the ingredients

pans and parchment

ready for the oven


the filling

right before all the filling spilled over the sides!

the finished product