Tag Archives: vegetables

Going gluten-free: what you need to know

In my last post, I talked about some of the issues surrounding the consumption of gluten and wheat and why someone might consider going without for awhile. As you may remember, I am going to go gluten-free myself for 21 days starting on March 1st ,which is a mere 5 days away. Gluten tends to be rather ubiquitous, hiding in not only foods(like black and red licorice, I just discovered) but also in makeup, toothpaste, personal health care items and prescriptions.

In November, I attended an all-day seminar on gluten-related disorders put on by Nadine Grzeskowiak, a nurse who discovered that she herself had serious health consequences from gluten consumption. Once she eliminated it from her diet, her quality of life changed so much that she started to devote herself to educating others on this topic. You can find out more about her and her programs at http://www.GlutenFreeRN.com.

Going gluten-free can feel a bit daunting if you have never really thought about it but it is also extremely manageable to do so. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest are particularly lucky as we have a wide choice of health-conscious stores to choose from . During the past few weeks, I have been perusing the aisles and have amassed a nice selection of gluten-free grains(remember I love to bake and cook) and things that I can snack on. The choices are amazing!  I have ‘practiced’ going gluten-free for a few days at a time and I can honestly say that it has not been very difficult. I know that I will miss Italian focaccia bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as New York style pizza….but I will live and not only that, I will thrive: of that I am certain. Perhaps I will even discover something without gluten that I will love as much: one can only hope.

Okay, here goes: the lists of what you can and cannot eat if you are choosing to join me. These lists are gleaned from “Wheat Belly” and Nadine’s workshop and may not include everything that you CAN eat but I believe that they do list everything that you cannot eat. I always advise my patients who are adopting this lifestyle change to pick up a book on this topic AND to take a ‘gluten-free’ tour in their local Whole Foods/ New Seasons -type grocery store.

What to avoid: Wheat, Spelt, Seitan, Semolina, Couscous, Durum,  Kamut, Bulfar, Farina, Emmer, Graham, Barley, Malt, Rye and Oats(there are gluten-free oats available by the way: more about that later)

What you CAN eat: vegetables, fruits, organic meats, fish, nuts, seeds, rice, corn , potatoes, beans, dairy , ‘safe grains’: this includes nut flours(such as almond, chestnut, coconut, pecan and hazelnut), grain flours(rice, corn, millet, sorghum , teff and quinoa), legume flours(peanut, lava and chickpea), seed flours(amaranth and buckwheat: yes buckwheat is NOT a wheat), tuber flours(potato, tapioca and arrowroot).

Some of the many choices available to bake with gluten

Some of the many choices available to bake with gluten

Something else you should know is that according to Dr. Davis(author of ‘Wheat Belly’),the tuber flours in particular can raise your blood sugar. This is particularly important if you already know that you have insulin resistance or are hoping to lose some weight by adopting a gluten-free diet. Before buying something, read the label and decide if this product is right for you.

If you are a baker, you can make your own gluten-free baked goods and know exactly what is in each item.  I am excited to try some new recipes in the gluten-free world as there are some delicious substitutes already out there. Here in Lake Oswego we have one of the best GF bakeries around: Kyra’s. The owner actually won a baking contest against bakers that cooked the traditional way. I have tasted her cinnamon rolls and cupcakes, which were simply amazing. Again, switching out sweets that are gluten-free for those that contain it will not be part of a weight-loss plan, but living without any treats forever is not a realistic goal for most of us and it is lovely to know that there are suitable choices for a gluten-free lifestyle.

There are some excellent mail-order sources for gluten-free products(like oats). Two that immediately come to mind are Bob’s Red Mill,located in Portland, and Lingonberries Market, which is located in Vancouver, WA. If you happen to live in the Portland metro area, take a trip to both of these stores to see the incredible selection of delicious gluten-free choices that are available. Otherwise, go to their websites and do your shopping online. Once you gain awareness of how many great choices you still have,  I promise that you will not feel deprived in any way.

Some of my new favorite snacks

Some of my new favorite snacks

So if you are joining me, take inventory of the things you have in your fridge and cupboards and make room for the new foods that you will be eating. I will be sharing some of my observations and recipes with you and I hope that you will do the same.  A toast(gluten-free of course) to healthy eating and living!

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News flash!!! Small changes really DO matter(especially in your diet)

Here at Menopausibilities we are always combing the news for simple ways to improve our lives. So many diet fads come and go, it can make one’s head spin! I am always very skeptical when a ‘new diet’ comes along with over-the-top promises to help you lose weight rapidly in a ‘safe and effective manner’.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is when it comes to dieting and weight loss.  There is a lot of money to be made in the weight loss industry and I have heard stories of many women who have plunked down between $2000 and $3000 for a program at a weight loss center, a naturopathic or allopathic physician’s office. Unfortunately, people do often lose substantial amounts of weight, only to eventually gain most, if not all and then some, of it back.

Quick weight loss programs often lead to quick regain results

Quick weight loss programs often lead to quick regain results

The good news is that are many sane, effective, delicious and sustainable ways to lose weight and keep it off. The Mediterranean diet is one that has been around for centuries and has been in the news for over 20 years. Every so often another study or story appears in the media extolling its virtues so I think it is extremely relevant and important to share this latest story on NPR showcasing yet more benefits of eating this way. Not only does eating a diet rich in fish, nuts, veggies, fruits, olive oil(and even moderate amounts of vino) help you reach and maintain your ideal weight, but now research is showing that women who eat this way starting in their 50s’ are 40% less likely to develop physical or memory problems or chronic diseases in later decades. Imagine what could happen if you ate this way most of your life!

Here is a link to the entire story:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/05/242994376/for-mind-body-study-finds-mediterranean-diet-boosts-both

Fall foliage along the Seine: eat a diet like the folks who live along the Mediterranean for long-lasting benefits

Fall foliage along the Seine: eat a diet like the folks who live along the Mediterranean for long-lasting benefits

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Almost halfway there!!

Congrats to all of you who have made it this far on our cleanse. Hopefully you have noticed some positive changes and these are enough to keep you going! I have heard from quite a few of you and this is what you have told me so far:

“My pants are looser and I have lost belly fat.”  “I have lost 3 # already!” ” My skin looks amazing and my sleep has been wonderful.” 

” I miss sugar but I am craving it less and less.”   ” I miss my evening wine: I am getting a little grumpy but I am determined to hang in there because this is my second time and I remember how great I felt afterwards.”    ” This feels so empowering: I love it!”

I promised to share a few recipes to keep things fun and interesting(hopefully you have discovered some of your own: don’t forget to share!!)

In Whole Living magazine, Jan/Feb issue, they had an article, “Start Fresh” , which I just received yesterday. Great minds think alike, yes? They are launching  a 3 week cleanse which is quite a bit stricter than ours but full of terrific information and recipes. I tried one of the beverage ones last night and I loved it, so here goes:

“Golden Elixir” (great name): Boil up water, fill up your mug with hot water, add 1 Tblsp of fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp each of turmeric and ground ginger(you can always use fresh of course), a smidge of cayenne(or more if you like it spicy) and honey. I also added some truvia to make it a little sweeter. Drink a cup of this in the morning and at night. This is a powerful drink, loaded with anti-inflammatories and immune boosters, great for your liver and your adrenals. And I found it incredibly satisfying at the end of the day, when I often pour myself a glass of lovely red wine; this was a perfect substitute.

For lunches and dinners, try roasting up a bunch of vegetables in advance so that they are ready when your appetite strikes. Simply heat your oven up to 425 degrees. Cut up some veggies of your choosing(cauliflower, beets,broccoli, carrots, Brussel sprouts, turnips, parsnips, green/red/yellow peppers): toss them lightly in some olive oil and a dusting of salt( I use Kosher or a  gourmet type of salt like pink Himalayan), place in large roasting pan and cook for 35-40 minutes, tossing and turning them every 10-15 minutes . Cook until they turn a nice golden brown or to your liking. Serve alone or with quinoa(pronounced keen-wah), brown rice, whole grain pasta and a protein of your choice. Last night I had them with quinoa and a chicken skewer. I also love them cold for a snack(but I love vegetables). Try a bunch of different veggies: eggplant and onions are also tasty so experiment! You will probably find that this is your new favorite way to eat vegetables. I know my family did!

Remember to let us know how you are feeling, what you are trying and share those recipes and ideas. Your comments have been great and we are inspired by all of you and your commitment to your health and life balance.

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

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Thank you for asking: ‘the recipes’ and more

Day 7 of this cleanse, feeling pretty darned great, finish line just around the corner. As always, I have learned a lot from taking the time to evaluate my food and beverage choices, what Mark Bittman, author and writer for the NY TIMES, calls ones “personal food policy”. I heard him speak a few weeks ago here in Portland at the inception of a local event known as ‘Portland Feast’ and I was inspired by some of the things he had to say.

Being a cookbook junkie, I of course purchased his cookbook, “The Food Matters Cookbook” and have spent some time reading the introduction and the first few chapters before jumping into the recipes.  He, like Michael Pollan(“In Defense of Food”, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and so on) emphasize the plant-based diet. Pollan’s famous seven word summation of how to eat: ‘eat food(whole food), not too much,  mostly plants’ makes it very simple.  Bittman in his cookbook goes on to give us some basic pointers to guide us each day:

1. Strive to eat fewer animal products than the average American(which is , gulp, 1/2#/day!).

2. Eat as many plants as you can. There is an endless variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds: focus on these.

3.  Be sure to include legumes and grains into your diet every day. Don’t overdo but these will serve as terrific substitutes for animal-based foods.

4. Stay away from processed foods. This is huge. Read your labels. Try to avoid products that have more than 5 ingredients and especially ones with preservatives and things you don’t recognize.

5. All other things should be considered to be a treat. That goes for chocolate(choose the best you can find), wine, beer, occasional desserts and other items not listed above. Consume these in smaller amounts.

Bittman willingly admits that perfection is not an option nor is it a goal but by making small changes(remember how we started this cleanse!), these will add up to larger ones for ourselves and globally.  So this really has been a consciousness cleanse: awareness of how important it is to be aware of what we are feeding our bodies, as well as how our choices affect the planet.

Our precious and beautiful planet

As our bodies age, it is critical that we nourish them with the cleanest diet we can manage. This will help to maintain strong body systems: cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, digestion and endocrine. We really are what we eat after all.

We have had several requests for the recipes that I mentioned using this past week and as promised, here they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as my son Conor and I did. He gave me a big thumbs up, especially on the pumpkin soup and whole grain bread. I would like to give credit to the sources of these recipes. The pumpkin soup one comes from Parade Magazine, Oct 14, 2012 issue.  The bread recipe is from Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook”. The fruit jam was inspired by a recipe in Kim Boyle’s “Good to the Grain” cookbook, a lovely whole grain cookbook. As always when I cook , I made a few changes and noted them below.
BON APPETIT!

Final rose of 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup(serves 6: hmmm maybe….)

1 Tblsp canola oil(I used olive oil)      1 tsp minced garlic     1 tsp curry powder   1 tsp cumin

1 small onion, chopped fine  1/4 tsp cardamon     1/4 tsp salt      1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups chicken broth( I usually make my own but you buy organic broth)

1-15 oz can pumpkin(or make your own if desired)     1-12 oz can evaporated fat free milk(or regular milk)

6 Tblsp Greek yogurt and parsley leaves for garnish(I didn’t find these to be necessary) 

Directions: In large pot, heat oil over medium , add onion cook for 3 minutes until soft, add garlic , cook another minute, add spices , salt and pepper. Cook additional minute, stirring. Next whisk in broth and pumpkin: bring to boil, reduce heat  to low, simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add milk, simmer for several minutes. Last step: using an immersion blender(I used regular one in small batches), puree the soup until smooth. Taste: adjust your spices, salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and if desired, garnish with the yogurt and parsley.

Whole Grain Bread(this is soooo easy)

In large mixing bowl, measure 3 cups of whole wheat flour(I used ww pastry flour but you could use regular WW flour), 2 tsp salt and 1 and 1/2 tsp of yeast. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of warm, not hot, water into the bowl: lightly stir the ingredients together(I also used my hands to mix everything together into a loose mound) and place in draft-free place. Cover with a towel. Let this rise for approx 2 hours.

NOTE: I love salt yet I found that 2 tsp was a bit much so I cut this down to 1 tsp. You may substitute up to 1 cup of the whole wheat flour with another type: I had excellent results with barley and kamut flour. I plan to try rye next. Another time I add 3 Tblsp of coconut sugar to give it a faint taste of sweetness. I think honey would be great as well, but then you might need to adjust the amount of flour: maybe an additional 1/4 cup. 

Once the dough has risen to approx doubled in size, you may punch it down and place in well-oiled loaf pan. Let this rise until over the top of the pan. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven, lightly brushing the top with olive oil and sprinkling with corn meal, if desired.

Option: once the dough as risen in the bowl, you can add up to one cup of cooked grains(millet, oats, quinoa, etc) and mix this in. I tried 1/2 cup cooked millet and 1/2 cup uncooked oats and this was a great choice. You can also mix in nuts, seeds, raisins, olives. Add fresh herbs if desired, approx 1 tsp or to taste. This is a wonderful recipe, very forgiving and easy  to personalize. I made 3 different loaves last week and it has been fun to experiment and see which combinations work best. This is the easiest whole grain recipe I have ever tried.  The cost of making a loaf is minimal and it takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together.

Serve fresh hot bread with organic butter/honey/peanut butter/olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus here is a quick and easy recipe for sugar-free jam.

Dried fruit jam

Place 1 and 1/2 cup dried fruit into small saucepan. Add 1 cup fruit juice. Bring to boil, cover, turn off flame. Let sit for approx 30 min or until the dried fruit has plumped up. Using immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth. Store in closed container in the fridge.

Note: in Kim Boyle’s cookbook she recommends pitted prunes with orange juice. I have also tried prunes and mango juice. I think it would be fun to try dried cherries and apple or orange juice; dried apricots and mango or orange juice. Experiment and find what flavor combinations that you like best.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness