Tag Archives: paleo

Before You Give Up On Your Diet

By NMajik at en.wikipedia (Own work (Original caption: “Source: Self”)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NMajik at en.wikipedia (Own work (Original caption: “Source: Self”)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is the last post in my little Specific Carbohydrate Diet series. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is just a real food diet, with some added food tweaks that good observers throughout history have discovered reverse disease and promote healing. It is not the holy grail of diets, although for some patients, it is the cure they were looking for. (You may prefer the word “control” instead of the word “cure,” since these patients will probably never be able to go back to DiGiorno pizza.) I definitely suggest the SCD for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis as a starting point diet because there is research behind it. (See here for a short summary of the evolution of the SCD diet with references.)

When I used a form of SCD for my gastrointestinal issues (not inflammatory bowel disease), I ran into a few issues and the diet stalled for me, even regressed. I don’t give up easily when I think there’s a way to accomplish something, and so I played around with the diet and I read what other people trying the diet were saying. I’ve compiled a little list of things to try if SCD is not working for you.

Remember, nothing here on my site is medical advice and should always be investigated and explored. Talk with your doctor and maybe get a referral to a dietitian for help. This is the internet. Believe nothing. Question everything.

Eliminate “pesky” foods that are allowed on the diet: nuts, peanut butter, eggs, dairy. Foods that we know cause life-threatening allergies can also cause other immune reactions in the body that aren’t nearly so serious. Even though they aren’t life threatening like true allergy, they still can cause bad, uncomfortable immune reactions, especially at the interface of the gut lining (but not limited to the gut lining).

Common food allergens like nuts, peanuts, dairy, and eggs are notorious for more than just anaphylaxis and hives! If you read research studies, you’ll see them coming up again and again for things like migraines, eosinophilic esophagitis, and eczema! I feel like medical doctors only communicate the life-threatening aspect of these foods (which is super important, of course), and ignore their involvement in so many other disease states. So people walk around treating their problems with creams, puffers, and pills, when they could be investigating their diet.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet allows eggs, almonds, nuts, peanut butter, homemade yogurt, cheeses and butter. All good foods! But also all known top allergens that can perpetuate illness in susceptible people.

(Coconut is not necessarily a top 8 common allergen, but I’ve read of many SCD’ers having trouble with it, particularly the flour. I’d add it to the “pesky” list.)

How do you know which “pesky” to take out? Well, you can start with the one you have a sneaky suspicion about. Or you can see if your doctor will order you an IgG blood panel (which has such variable results for people), although you need to know up front that many conventional medical doctors disapprove of them. Or you can eliminate them all, and slowly bring them back in one at a time.

Whatever you do, be smart and make sure you’re getting any nutritional deficits accounted for!

Cut down on baked goods. When people switch to the SCD, they often, understandably, try to recreate the diet they had been eating: muffins, breads, pancakes, and cookies. ALL of these things can be made on the SCD and are super tasty! However, the ingredients for them come from the “pesky” category (almond flour, eggs, butter, and so on), so they really shouldn’t be routine food fare. They also come with a big whop of sugar; yes, I know it’s honey, but fructose in excess has its own negative effects. Baked goods are great as a transition to ease families into eating more real, wholesome foods. If my kids hadn’t had a baked good, I would  have had some runaways.

In any area of the diet you may be lapsing and skimping in, get strict again. Get back to eating only the legal foods with “no exceptions.” It’s so easy to let products back into our kitchens. A little guar gum here. A little BHT there. Some maltodextrin there. Some modified food starch. And then you’ve walked down the slippery slope and fallen. Crash and burn for a few little ingredients that really weren’t even that important to you!

Studies indicate that emulsifiers may cause problems for inflammatory bowel disease, so if you’re struggling, get the “small stuff” back out!

Alternatively, perhaps the idea of “being strict” is sabotaging adhering to the diet well, and adding in a few select real, whole, foods, like rice and/or potato may be helpful in overall adherence to the diet.

Even though certain foods are not allowed on the diet, that doesn’t mean that a person’s body and disease will not tolerate them. Yes, it’s best to adhere to the diet as it is written, but it is VERY likely that adjustments will have to be made. Remember, the diet is not magic. It can’t prophesy exactly what your body will and will not tolerate. If adding in a food that may not be problematic anyhow is the price to pay for keeping on the diet instead of giving up completely, it’s worth a trial! Make sense? (But do talk with your healthcare provider who is overseeing your diet. They might have some other tips they’d like you to try first.)

Elaine Gottschall, the author of the diet, did not intend for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet to be a forever diet. She advocated moving off the diet once symptoms were well-controlled.

Read about FODMAP foods. Foods have natural sugars and molecules that we don’t absorb and that feed our gut bacteria. It’s actually a good thing. But sometimes, guts that are compromised need a break from these too, or else they’ll have painful bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.  FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAP foods can cause pain outside of actual inflammatory disease and would be worth exploring. I have noticed that many people suggest cutting down on fruit if the SCD isn’t working well for you, and I can see where certain fruits will exacerbate a FODMAP condition. Here’s a good site with FODMAP information. Just click on the symbol, and it brings up a nice handout.

Take away the power struggle. When it comes to kids, they MUST understand the diet and their bodies. Kids usually make good decisions when they’re given good information and see the impact of certain foods on their bodies. Make it a point to understand the diet and read the book, then paraphrase it and explain it to your child. Kids need empowered, not controlled. Sometimes our fears lead to a strong need to control, but kids will buck this. Well, at least mine do!

The mind-body idea. We KNOW that there is a BIDIRECTIONAL process between the brain and the gut and conversely, the gut and the brain. It works from the bottom up. And the top down. If you’re ready to take it beyond diet and supplements, maybe it’s time to move inward. Google things like mindfulness and IBD. Or hypnotherapy and IBD. See what you think. This area has definitely piqued my interest. It takes me months and years to write, so you’ll definitely want to read in this area before I get any posts up on it!

Well, that’s it for today. I’m sure there are other tweaks. I think the best tweak is to know you’re going to be okay. Know that nothing can get you, because you’re bigger inside than anything you can comprehend. If you’re on the religious side, know that you’re a spiritual being forever with a human body but fleetingly.

Feel welcome to post any tweaks you’ve found beneficial.

Over.

Terri

 

Thanksgiving Recipe Adaptation Tips and Links

sweetcashewcream-1Are you struggling with any Thanksgiving recipe adaptations? Have an awesome adaptation discovery you’d love to share? Please stop by today’s post!

My greatest adaptation tip is that most of the time, I can substitute olive oil for butter—-in baked goods, for topping steamed vegetables, and in casseroles. Obviously this won’t work for something like caramel! Another tip I’d like to share is to not give up on a beloved recipe; there’s almost always a way to adapt it. I have kept all my old recipes and over the last few years, I’ve been slowly adapting them as I learn new cooking and baking techniques and supplies.

Okay. Let’s look at how to adapt most of those Thanksgiving favorites.

Mashed Potatoes: I use tons of good quality olive oil, some full-fat coconut milk, and salt and pepper.

Tips: Don’t use too much coconut milk or they’ll taste like coconut. I use about a 50/50 oil to coconut milk ratio (heavier on the olive oil, more scant on the coconut milk), and my family is good with that. If you do get more coconut flavor than you’d like, it can be countered by adding some garlic, rosemary, and/or chives.

Gravy: Arrowroot flour/powder is my go-to thickener now. It works but it is finicky like a princess’s cat. I suggest that you do NOT add it to boiling substances or you’ll get a snot consistency. And when you add it, whisk like your life depended on it. Tapioca starch/flour is similar in nature, and I treat it the same. I have noticed that performance does depend on the brand! My higher quality flours perform better.

Procedure: I use about 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for each cup of liquid. First, I make an arrowroot slurry by mixing the arrowroot in the smallest amount of lukewarm temperature water as possible (maybe a tablespoon for a tablespoon), and I set that aside. Next, I bring my gravy broth to a boil, shut off the heat, move the pan over off the burner, THEN add the arrowroot slurry, whisking like crazy.

Green Bean Casserole: For this one, I make my own onion rings, dipping onions in a gluten-free flour and then frying them, and I make a homemade mushroom soup. It’s a lengthy process but my family loves it so much. Here is my recipe. I like it better than other ones I’ve seen out there because the onion rings are closest to the ones I remember from the can.

Cranberry Gelatin Salad: In place of Jello, I use plain gelatin and juice to make my own gelatin. I use maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Everything else is just the same as the recipe has been handed down through the generations. Here is my recipe.

Corn Casserole: I haven’t adapted this one to reach the near 100% whole food mark yet, but I’ve adapted it for gluten-free, dairy-free. Everyone’s favorite family recipe is a little different, but you can find gluten-free, dairy-free cornbread mixes at the store. There are gluten-free, dairy-free brands of canned cream corn you can use. Use olive oil in place of butter. If your recipe calls for sour cream, you could try making some cashew cream as a substitute. (But plan ahead, you have to find raw cashews and soak them for several hours.) Have you perfected this adaptation?

Pecan Pie: Easily adaptable. I use olive oil in place of butter, maple syrup in place of corn syrup and brown sugar, and arrowroot in place of flour for thickening. Here is my recipe.

Pumpkin Pie: Another easily adaptable pie. I use maple syrup in place of sugar and any dairy-free milk for the milk.

Coconut cream, banana cream, and peanut butter cream pies: I’ve had success with adapting these using alternative milks (coconut cream is best for the consistency as it has the most fat) and arrowroot in place of flour.

Pie Crust: There are very pleasant gluten-free, dairy-free pie crusts available frozen in the store. My daughter makes her own crust using Bob’s Red Mill (I believe any gluten-free flour combination will work. We have tried just using arrowroot for this recipe. But it got stringy, so best to make it with a “combination” gluten-free mix.) I believe I also featured this recipe in my pecan pie post.

Granny’s Adapted Pinch Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free flour (tested with Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Follow these directions very closely. It’s not hard, but the wording is confusing!

In a 1/2 cup measuring cup, put in 3 tablespoons of milk and then fill, IN THE SAME 1/2 cup measuring cup with the milk still in it, up to the 1/2 cup mark with olive oil.

Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk together to immerse. Add the flour and mix well. Use your hands to knead gently and briefly.

Push into the pie pan.  We do this by forming about 8 or so little balls and placing them around the pan. Then, we push them together, up the side of the pan, and a little bit over the lip of the pan Next, we use our fingers to flute the edge.

Use as directed in your recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole: We make the kind with the pecans and glaze on top. It is so good. Here is my recipe. However, there are some marshmallows you can buy now that don’t use any food coloring, if you need to do the marshmallow topping.

Whipped cream: I make a sweetened cashew cream. I haven’t posted the recipe yet on the blog, so I can’t link to it. But it’s very similar to the ones that are out there on the internet if you care to Google it. Or ask below, and I’ll type it in the comments for you.

Stuffing/dressing: I don’t have this one adapted yet. My family doesn’t miss it too much. But there are some great recipes out there. Do you have one?

Need to be egg-free? Following an auto-immune diet? Lastly, I highly recommend The Curious Coconut and her autoimmune recipes for more rigid food restrictions. I don’t know her at all. But I have purchased her holiday e-cookbook and it is amazing! I recommend trying some of the recipes ahead of time because they’re a little tricky and can give unexpected results! We have made a couple of the dinner rolls, and they looked so cute in her photos…

What questions do you have about adapting recipes? Are you stuck on one? Are you scared to try? Do you have an AWESOME one you’d love to share?

Choose food that doesn’t make you sick and doesn’t make you overeat. Best wishes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Terri

 

 

Salmon OCD Dip

 

Today’s recipe is my take on a delightful appetizer made by a mysterious, black-haired, smokey eyed, Romanian gypsy who weaves her Eastern Romanian fare with Italian and Camaroonian accents.  With her help, I have learned to appreciate wpid-IMAG1331.jpgtraditional foods full of nutritional goodness.  I could sit all day and listen to her stories of growing up in a Communist state.

She made this appetizer for a get-together and served it with Belgian endive leaves.  I told her I think she is a great cook.  She attributes it to the fact that, because she has been many places besides the United States, she has no preconceived idea of what she “needs” to make to please people.  So she is free to “just make.”

I think this would be a great dip to take to a Super Bowl party.  It is called Salmon OCD Dip to help you remember why it is so good for you.  Omega-3.  Calcium.  Vitamin D.

Salmon OCD Dip

1 can of salmon, 14.75 ounces (I use wild-caught, intact salmon, meaning the bones and skin included.)
1/2 tin of sardines
10 capers or more
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1/4 cup of softened palm shortening or leftover bacon drippings
Juice of one lemon
1/2-1 teaspoonful of salt
Optional:  2 small, thin anchovies

Put the salmon in a food processor, blender, or mini food processor.  Don’t look at the disgusting mixture.  Just think and repeat “omega-3, calcium, and vitamin D.”  Process well.

Add the sardines, capers, onion, palm shortening or bacon drippings, salt and lemon juice.  (And the anchovies if desired.)    Process well.

Transfer to serving bowl.  I prefer to serve this with fresh carrots and sliced apples.  My friend served it with Belgian endive which she had separated into “boats” and arrayed on the serving platter.  Lovely.

Family “gustar” report:  My kids won’t try it.  If your kids love seafood a lot, it may go.  If they don’t, probably won’t.  My husband and I both think it’s great.

I wish you health and hope that you will consider what intensive nutrition could do to help you attain it, even if it seems like a problem that would have NO nutritional connection.  You may be very surprised.  I was.

Terri

Thoughts on Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

“Are you taking a prenatal?”

Picking a prenatalIdeally, we would all get our nutrients from foods.  However, with food intolerances, food aversions, soil depletion, lack of access to high quality food sources, and food processing, some argue that this just isn’t possible in today’s world.  I won’t argue either way.  All I know is that doctors like it when women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing take a prenatal vitamin, but they aren’t always helpful in recommending one or up to date on the latest nutrient information.

I have delivered four babies in four different states, and my four different obstetricians never once had a firm prenatal vitamin recommendation.  Often, I just cycled through samples they gave me at different visits or some Walgreen’s over-the-counter product.  The question at OB check-ups always was, “Are you taking a prenatal?”  And my answer usually was, “Yes.”  The doctor’s simple response was, “Okay.”   (Or–“No, I am not taking a prenatal.  I feel too sick.”  “Well, just make sure and get some folic acid.”)  End of conversation.  Never once did the OB request, “What kind?  Let me see it.”  However, I think obstetricians/practitioners need to know of any supplement put in their patients’ mouths so they can have the opportunity to offer guidance.  They may even have some great recommendations and samples based on a patient’s health history needs.  (Or not.)

Anyhow, after the last few folic acid/folate posts, I received a few questions and comments about choosing a supplement for pregnancy.  So I put my fingers to the keyboard and was reminded of what I already knew from my search many months ago for myself at the beginning of our surprise pregnancy.  Choosing a prenatal vitamin supplement is a real bear.  A real maze.  A twisted, contorted game.

The Dilemma

If you read my recent posts on folic acid versus folate, you probably think that it’s probably high time to ditch folic acid in favor of a natural folate in prenatal vitamins (and vitamins in general).  Great.  Now you know.  Now I know.  But what good is knowledge if you don’t know how to act on it in real life?  I tried to pinpoint a good prenatal vitamin with L-methylfolate for myself to take many months ago, but it wasn’t as easy as that.  Let me say it again.  It was not as easy as that.  If I liked the vitamin content profile, then I didn’t like the extra ingredients, for example the use of soy, oats, artificial colors, or vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor).  If I liked the clean ingredient profile, it didn’t meet the minimum recommended iodine requirements.  Or it didn’t have any DHA.  Or it used ergocalciferol (a plant-based vitamin D) rather than cholecalciferol (the better utilized animal based).  Or the vitamin B 12 was not the methylcobalamin form.  Or it didn’t have any vitamin K2.

What do you do?  You do the best you can.  You choose the best you can.  (And you make EVERY BITE COUNT.  More on my personal experience with that in a subsequent post.)  There is no perfect prenatal out there.  There just isn’t.  I’ll tell you what I looked for.  But this is the story of my thoughts and learning.  Not my medical advice.  Please don’t use my blog posts as medical advice.   You’ll have to figure out for yourself with your practitioner’s help what you need for sure and also where you’re willing to compromise on your prenatal vitamin.

Things I looked for in my prenatal vitamin:

  • Does it use folate or folic acid?  I prefer L-methylfolate or another biological folate.
  • Does it have the recommended dose of iodine?  What is the source of iodine?  I prefer it to have iodine since my iodine sources are limited (I don’t tolerate eggs and dairy well.) and haven’t yet sorted through which source I feel is best for iodine.
  • Does it have selenium to accompany the iodine?  If iodine is taken, then selenium needs to be sufficient as well.
  • Is the vitamin D source from ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)?  I prefer vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
  • Does it have any vitamin K2 in it?  Vitamin K2 is difficult to consume from foods, especially on a dairy-free diet, yet it is very important for health and fetal development.  Many supplements lack this.
  • Does it have the methylated form of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)?  I prefer this.
  • Does it have any DHA?  (A type of omega-3)  None of the prenatals I looked at contained DHA.  I made a point to eat DHA-rich foods, and if that wasn’t happening, I supplemented.
  • Does it have biotin?
  • Does it have choline?
  • What extra ingredients does it have?  I don’t see any reason for artificial colors and artificial flavors (like vanillin).  In addition, I am always on the lookout for soy, dairy, and gluten in any supplements due to some sensitivities.  I scan ingredients, also, for added probiotics or FOSs which may not agree with tummy issues.
  • What are the amounts and types of other minerals, like iron, calcium, and magnesium?  Many prenatals don’t have the recommended allowances of these, which can be okay.  However, women need to make sure they know how much of these minerals are in their prenatal vitamins so they can get their needs elsewhere if required.  Some women rely on their vitamins because of food aversions and nausea.
  • What is the vitamin A source and how much is in there?  Striking a middle ground here would probably be wise.  Not too much.  Not too little.  If you eat a lot of vitamin A rich foods, lean on the lower end in the supplement.
  • How many pills need to be taken?  Sure.  One is ideal but probably not optimal for absorption and maximizing nutrients.  For example, the calcium needs of the body cannot be absorbed in one sitting.  It needs to be spread out through the day.

Putting Criteria into Reality

I don’t have a good prenatal to recommend.  Like I said, nothing met all of my criteria.  My most recent obstetrician didn’t mind that I didn’t take a prenatal vitamin as long as I took a “folic acid” supplement.  This was a surprise pregnancy, and by the time I started looking for a prenatal, I was overcome with pregnancy maladies.  (Read:  I am making excuses for not selecting a good prenatal.)

Initially, I took a vitamin B complex with an active form of L-methylfolate made by Designs for Health along with some fermented cod liver oil since we were in the dead of a brutal winter (which would provide vitamin D, vitamin A, and DHA/EPA).  Then, I switched to a Designs for Health multi-vitamin that I already had in my cupboard which would provide some vitamin K2, iodine, zinc, biotin, and choline for baby and me, but it recommended 6 pills per day!  Right.  I was not very compliant with that.  So I eventually picked up a pre-natal from the local health food store, Rainbow Light, and made do with it, but it did not meet all my criteria.  My nutrition overall was strong and well thought out, and I felt the prenatal was more of a safety blanket for me.  Like perhaps to cover my low intake of iodine until I recognized a weak area in my diet.

I went back this week and looked at some prenatal vitamins after reading up on folic acid/folate, and I wished I had had the energy to investigate them all early in that first trimester.  But I didn’t.  So here are some of the vitamins I looked at this week that met a lot of criteria I find important.  I also listed Rainbow Light since I took it and saw a lot of women commenters on other sites mention it.

Do not use this list as a recommendation list.  Use it as a place to start looking, comparing, and contrasting which vitamin might fit you best, and always enlist the help of your physician to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

Nutrient 950 with Vitamin K by Pure Encapsulations

This is not the prenatal from the same company.  The prenatal has folic acid, not folate.

 

Emerald Labs Multi Vit-A-Min Prenatal

  • This has L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), vitamin D3, iodine (although a lower amount), selenium, methylcobalamin, and biotin.
  • No DHA or choline.
  • The dose is 4 capsules.
  • With the recommended dose, one does not obtain the recommended daily doses of magnesium and calcium.
  • The ingredient list should be inspected for a person to see if there are any sensitivities to included ingredients, like quinoa and FOS.
  • One source of vitamin A is vitamin A palmitate, rather than simply relying on beta-carotene.  A reader may want to research this a bit.  Especially if they eat many food sources of vitamin A.
  • http://www.ultralaboratories.com/emeraldlabs/Prenatal%20Multi/index.php

 

Thorne Research Basic Prenatal

  • This has calcium folinate and L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), both biological folates. It also uses vitamin D3, iodine, selenium, methylcobalimin, and biotin.
  • There is no vitamin K2.
  • Calcium and magnesium do not reach the recommended daily doses.
  • The source of vitamin A is also palmitate (and carotenes).
  • The dose is 3 capsules.
  • https://shop.thorne.com/products/womens-health/basic-prenatal

Designs for Health DFH Complete Multi

  • Designs for Health Complete Multi has vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin K2, natural folates (5-MTHF and 5-FTHF), methylcobalamin, biotin, choline, iodine, and selenium.
  • The calcium and magnesium are less than recommended allowances.
  • There is NO iron and no copper.
  • Its vitamin A source is carotenoids.
  • The dose is 6 capsules.
  • http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/DFH-Complete-Multi

Optimal Prenatal Vitamin/Vitamin Powder

This vitamin is out of stock reportedly due to popularity, but there is a protein powder designed to be interchangeable.  They are working to get the vitamin back in stock.

Rainbow Light

Rainbow Light is a food-based multivitamin, vegan compliant.  It is what I landed on for a prenatal vitamin due to chance, and it gets good reviews on-line.  It misses some of my criteria.  I landed on it, but I don’t think it’s the best.

  • It’s vitamin D source is D2 (ergocalciferol).
  • It has no vitamin K2.
  • It does not have the methylated form of vitamin B12.
  • It uses folic acid.
  • On the other hand, it does have iodine, choline, and biotin.  It also contains iron.
  • The calcium and magnesium content, like the other brands, is less than the recommended daily doses.
  • It has some added ingredients, like red raspberry leaf, ginger, spirulina, probiotics, and digestive enzymes for readers to investigate.
  • http://www.rainbowlight.com/multivitamins-prenatal-one-multivitamin.aspx

 Conclusion

I think this is a good list of prenatal vitamins/multi-vitamins to start to check out.  Do readers have any others (and thanks to those who gave suggestions)?  Remember, it’s all a game of checks and balances.  Start with a good, strong, well-planned pregnancy diet and make sure your supplement does that–supplements the gaps in your diet.  Run all of your supplements by your doctor.

All the best to you for a happy, healthy family!

~~Terri

 

 

 

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

Green smoothie rich in folate

Putting Knowledge Into Action

So the last two posts have been about folate versus folic acid.  (First post and second post.)  Lots of science to explain why the folate from real foods is better than folic acid from enriched, processed foods and vitamins.  But let’s put it into action!  How can we get folate into ourselves and our families?  Smoothies.  Everybody likes a smoothie.  Right?

Smoothies are deceptive foods.  A banana.  A spoonful of nutbutter.  Some yogurt.  A little chocolate.  A splash of sweetener.  Taste.  Needs more banana.  Oops.  A little bit more of nutbutter.  Add some ice.  Taste.  Dang.  Overshot.  Needs a little more sweet.  Have the kids taste.  Needs more chocolate.  How about some vanilla?  Perfect.  Kids drink half theirs.  I drink all mine and all their leftovers.  So much for a “healthy” snack.  Guarantee I’ll have a carbohydrate crash nap after about an hour.  Zonk.

But a well-placed smoothie with a purpose.  Now that’s a shaker.  That’s what I like.  To reach dietary folate goals, I started drinking green smoothies during pregnancy.  My kids weren’t too hip on them.  The greens can really impart bitterness.  But I didn’t want to give up!  I get tired of chopping up vegetables for a folate rich salad the family will all eat or cleaning the skillet from sautéed greens.  I deserve a break–in the form of a blend!  Well,  finally, here is a recipe that I and my kids can all agree on.  (In fact, my daughter made the photo design for this post.)

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

1 cup of loosely packed spinach (Any greens will work but spinach has the best folate profile.)
1 well-ripened large mango which is about 1 generous cup (Mangoes are a fruit rich in folate.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Or use honey or Stevia to taste or whatever you use for sweet.)
10 ice cubes (I use two single handfuls.)
Enough liquid to blend, if needed (Choose one of the following:  your favorite tea, Kombucha which will add even more folate, orange juice which will add even more folate, or your favorite kind of “milk”.)

Place into blender and blend until smooth.  I put the greens in last so the mixture blends evenly.

This recipe made the above two glasses full you see in the photo.

 

Smoothie Folate Content and Recommendations From the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet

The folate content of this green smoothie is about 160 micrograms.  Recommended folate intakes are as follows in the table taken from the National Institute of Health Folate Fact Sheet.  DFE refers to dietary folate equivalents.

 

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Folate [2]
Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
Birth to 6 months* 65 mcg DFE* 65 mcg DFE*
7–12 months* 80 mcg DFE* 80 mcg DFE*
1–3 years 150 mcg DFE 150 mcg DFE
4–8 years 200 mcg DFE 200 mcg DFE
9–13 years 300 mcg DFE 300 mcg DFE
14–18 years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE
19+ years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Smoothie Carb Count

The carb count for those interested is about 71.  If I’m the only one drinking this, I will often use only half a banana and Stevia instead of maple syrup.

Closing

Eat real folate!  It’s good for you!  Try to get your nutrients from food if you can.  Make every bite count!

Do you drink green smoothies?  Do your kids?  Does your spouse?  I’m converting mine over finally!  Two years.  Two years into this.  It’s not a fast-paced game to convert your family to this way of eating!  But it is worth it!

Have a great day!

~~Terri

“My” Diet Has Not Helped My Pregnancy Sickness

Fresh blueberriesThe Food-Health Connection Is Real

Discovering the power of food changed my life about two years ago.  Although my mom isn’t very happy with me, I just can’t tell you how much better my husband and I feel (and we wouldn’t even have been considered “unhealthy” by most in the first place.)  Invincible.  Empowered.  THIS is where it’s at.  Let my friends, family, and (ex) colleagues think I’m crazy, I’ve decided this food stuff is no voodoo.  Medical doctors have their heads buried deep in the sands of guidelines and HIPAA and OSHA and Medicare check boxes–they are NOT making time to learn about this stuff.  I didn’t make time when I practiced and trust me, it’s not a part of required typical continuing medical education.

Countless food journals, diligent symptom logging and persistent elimination/reintroduction phases have led our family to be able to control most symptoms we used to medicate.  I never, ever would have believed this a few years ago as a practicing physician, and I sometimes think I must be “goofy” to believe it even now.  Occasionally my medical brain–which I paid so much money for–insists on denial that a real food-body connection exists.  That’s when my husband just shakes his head, “Why’d you eat it?  Why?”

They Said, “Maybe It’ll Be Different With ‘Your’ Diet!”

So I’m all about nutrition nowadays, and if I don’t watch it may put too much store in it.  But life is about learning.  (Homeschooling, if you will.)  And the last few months I had to learn that sometimes even the best diet fails and you truly are helpless to the whims of internal physiology and biochemistry.  (I DID know that already, really, but I guess I needed to FEEL it.)  In November, I was feeling so great.  I felt like all my hard nutritional work over the last two years was really, really paying off, and I was even starting to reintroduce some problem foods with a little success.  Then I got pregnant.  Oh, boy.

Friends and family get informed very early when I am pregnant.  (Sometimes store clerks do too when I lock myself out of my car or forget my wallet.)  None of this waiting 12 weeks here to tell.  Withholding information only serves to make me seem quite irritable, neglectful, and remiss to others if they don’t know “the secret.”  Plus, I have miscarried in the past and people didn’t know I was pregnant.  The first they hear about it is when I’m headed to the OR for a D & C.  “I didn’t even know you were pregnant!”  Nice.  Sob.  I was.

Well, anyway, this fifth time around, many people exclaimed,   “Maybe ‘your’ new diet will make the sickness not so bad!”   I secretly hoped with them. I was secretly confident. I was eating great and had been eating great for two years!  All the recommended “voodoo” stuff:  broths, liver, seaweed, tons of organic vegetables, pastured meats, avoidance of inflammatory foods, some fruit, probiotic, magnesium (plenty of that!), B vitamins, fermented cod liver oil.  What am I missing?  My body was armed and it was ready.

Despite “My New Diet” Pregnancy Symptoms Chewed Me Up.  (Just Like All the Other Times.)Zucchini pizza

The nausea increased and increased. The overwhelming exhaustion consumed me. Odor aversion sickened me all day. Food cravings and aversions hit.  I was so hungry all the time but so nauseated. Some foods left horrible tastes in my mouth. I over-salivated like a loving puppy (medical terms for hyper-salivation: ptyalism or sialorrhea). No matter what I ate, the sickness continued.  Bloating kicked in to the point it hurt.  Constipation fluttered back in and out as it wished.

About the time the nausea started lifting at the end of the first trimester, I got a new twist.  Horrible, migraine-like headaches and an apathetic, flat mood.  I felt like I had gone out of the hot pot of typical morning sickness and into some frying pan. Since adhering to “my diet” clearly had not helped in the first trimester, I had gotten mad in the throes of it and let in foods which I don’t normally eat/eat much of (like egg yolks, nuts, potatoes, tapioca bread, and rice).  “What difference does it make?” I thought.  “I feel horrible one way or the other.”  (Just an FYI.  I tried a cheese quesadilla, a real one, and it was unmistakably unacceptable.  Guess you can feel worse than worse with certain food choices in pregnancy.)  Mess with my GI tract but please don’t mess with my brain.  When my head started getting “attacked,” I ran back to the safety of “my diet”–the home-tailored GAPS/PALEO/SCD/Autoimmune PALEO diet that had got me feeling so good.  I don’t know that it helped, but it offered me some sense of control.

Despite feeling so good prior to pregnancy and eating so well early on, it was turning out NO differently than all the other four pregnancies.  How could life have selected for pregnant women to be so sick?  I would have had to have been left behind by the tribe 10,000 years ago!  Left to die holding the prized liver awarded to pregnant women back in those days.  “Bye-bye.  See you guys.  Thanks for the liver.  I’ll run from wolves the best that I can.”

This isn’t my first pregnancy.  I’ve Googled all this “morning sickness” (it’s more than just nausea–it’s overwhelming exhaustion, smell aversion, increased salivation, headaches, you name it) stuff before seeking relief.  I’ve sat through lectures on it.  I’ve counseled patients on it during obstetrical rotations in residency.  I’ve tried this and that and this and that.  But I searched again.   A re-Google did NOT help.  I found things like “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness”, which pinpoints diet, magnesium, and B vitamins.  I was so mad.  “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness,” my foot.

Garden broccoliChin Up and Eat Nutrient-Dense Choices For Two

All this nutrition “jazz” worked for the author of that post and other similar posts out there.  But here is MY post saying, “Hang in there, chic.  Despite your best diet and supplements, pregnancy-induced sickness may bark up your tree.”  It is barking up mine.

I’ll be the first to back nutrition and say you gotta’ try it.  You gotta’ eat right.  I’ll tell you to try to play it safe and not eat some of those urging craving choices, like a cheese quesadilla.  But I’ll admit when I’m defeated, too.  In the Food vs. Pregnancy battle, Pregnancy won here in this house–despite copious pre-pregnancy magnesium, B rich meats and vegetables and supplement, and vitamin D enrichment.  So if this is you, too, it’s okay.  Chin up.  It doesn’t last forever.  Your body is just doing its job and for some reason that makes you (and me) exceptionally uncomfortable.  Eat the best you can and stay in the game.  Don’t let miserable pregnancy symptoms knock you too far off your nutritional choices and goals.

Even if it doesn’t make our pregnancy symptoms better, we have to come out of this pregnancy as strong as we went in.  Baby will take what baby needs.  Reproduction is numero uno in life.  So eat well to make sure you have enough for BOTH of you!  I didn’t come out of pregnancy four very well:  kidney stones, daily headaches, allergies, exhaustion, achiness, and hormonal issues.  I’m determined to come out of this one better than I went in.

Has “Your Diet” Helped Anything?

Yes.  Typically no matter what pre-pregnancy weight I start at–I’ve started anywhere from 135-148 pounds–within the first trimester my weight soars to about 160 pounds.  Seriously.  Right off the bat.  I thought it was just me and my body.  I never fretted since it happened every time and I was healthy.  I always gained over forty pounds each pregnancy.  And each baby has gotten successively bigger–7 pounds, 8 pounds, 9 pounds.  So I’m curious to see how much weight I gain and what this baby weighs.

This time around, I’ve gained 6 pounds and I’m at 16 weeks.  I haven’t done anything except put forth a tremendous effort to stick to whole foods–call it Paleo, GAPS, SCD, whatever you wish, I don’t care.   I’ll be interested to see if it holds.  But as for all other pregnancy associated symptoms, my diet has not helped.  But I know it’s going to help me tremendously in the recovery period.  (And if it doesn’t, I’ll let you know.)

How Far Do I Shake My Conventional Training?

I’m beginning to think about things I’ve never thought about before.–Do I want my baby to get a hep B vaccine at Interior of a passion fruitbirth?  How about vitamin K?  Should I have them delay clamping and cutting the cord?  What’s this strangeness about eating the placenta?–I know you have more.  So lay them on me.  Food is no longer voodoo to me–but all this other stuff is.  So throw these new sacrilegious ideas out there to let me decide how many waves to make at the hospital.  (I’m a conventional medical doctor.  Bear easy on me.  I love to investigate the validity of these new ideas, but my choices will be skewed by my experiences.  And although I already told him to prepare for some waves at the hospital, my husband is slower than I am to embrace conventional medical practice–but still a great trooper.)

~~Terri

Carmel Apples

Halloween carmel applesWe are marching up to Halloween!  This week we’ve seen tomato soup, peanut butter ghosties, and now caramel apples!  The house is considered decorated.  I’m thawing the straight-from-the-orchard apple cider, and the party food is set for our post trick-or-treat romp (in the snow)!

These two-ingredient caramel apples use ingredients that are allowed on GAPS, SCD, and Paleo diets.  They took me less than 30 minutes to make.  The kids can get in on the action by decorating popsicle sticks (make sure they leave the insertion end clean) and spinning the dipped apples until the caramel cools and sets.  This food is fun, easy, and gets the whole family together.  (Okay, I know.  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snicker’s used to do a great job of bringing the family together, too.  Until someone took it into their head to store and stash.)

FAST, EASY CARMEL APPLES
Covers about 6 small apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of ghee (butter would work, too)
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 6 small apples (or 3 huge ones)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Parchment or waxed paper

Instructions:

  1. Wash your apples ahead of time if you can.  You want your apples COMPLETELY dry.  Absolutely dry.  Set them aside until you’re ready.
  2. When you’re ready to make the recipe, decorate your popsicle sticks and insert them into the apples on the stem end (remove the stem).
  3. Place the honey and ghee into a medium-sized saucepan.  (A small saucepan would work, but the mixture may froth over the side if you’re not careful.)
  4. Turn the heat on medium to medium-high and start stirring.
  5. Stir constantly until the mixture froths all through (not just at the edges) and is in full, rolling boil.  At this frothing point, cook for two minutes.  Set your timer.  If you have a candy thermometer, you want to cook the mixture between soft-ball and hard-ball stage.  (If you cook it to hard-ball stage you will have candy apples rather than carmel apples.  If you cook it too short of a time, you will have “carmel-on-the-parchment-paper” apples.)  Another method to make sure you’ve got the right consistency is to dip a spoon in the mixture.  Remove spoon.  As the carmel cools on the spoon, it should stick to it and not just completely run off.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to start cooling.  After it has cooled maybe 5 minutes or so, start dipping your apples.  Just don’t let it cool until it sets before you get it on the apple!  The carmel will be runny until it cools so you need to turn and tilt the apple until the carmel cools and sets.  Then place it onto the parchment or waxed paper!
  7. Place in a cool place to store.
  8. You could get creative and sprinkle with nuts or chocolate.  You could be uncreative and just make the carmel dip to serve with cut apples.
  9. Enjoy the grins of your children!  The time with them is fleeting.

Family “gustar” report:  Complete success.

Aside:  We’ve all heard of honey, but what is ghee?  First off, it’s pronounced with the  “hard ‘G’ sound.”  Like in the word “go.”  Secondly, in the past, have you ever heated up butter in the microwave and maybe overdid it a little–or a lot?  There were layers and a bunch of floaties?  (I used to hate it when I did that.)  The layers are the different components of butter.  The ghee layer (or clarified butter layer) is the fat layer.  The other layers with the lactose and milk proteins are poured and strained off and just the butterfat of ghee is left behind.  It is supposedly less allergenic than butter.  It can also be cooked at higher temperatures without burning.  Often, you will see it used at seafood restaurants for dipping and also it is used in Indian (as in the continent) cooking.  You can make your own or buy it.

I hope you are having a wonderful week.  I hope you are getting lots of time with your kids and that your patience is abundant.  Take care.

Terri

Carmel apples being dipped Carmel apples wpid-IMAG1593.jpg