Tag Archives: whole 30

Easy Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken with 1-2-3 collard greens, spaghetti squash, and garden onion.

Roasted chicken with 1-2-3 collard greens, spaghetti squash, and garden onion.

A sure-fire winner and super easy. A family favorite.

Easy Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
Olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp onion powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.
3. Rinse chicken and pat chicken very dry with paper towels. If there is twine, you may leave it in place while baking. Check the chicken cavity for any parts the butcher put in there and remove them if included.
4. Rub chicken liberally with olive oil with your bare hands.
5. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture all over the chicken and rub in, legs, breasts, wings, and all.
6. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish, a 9X13 glass dish works well, with the BREAST side up.
7. Bake chicken about 45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven cooks.
8. Check with a meat thermometer. You want the internal temperature to be at least 165 degrees. Caution: check the densest part of the chicken. I actually like to cook it to 170 degrees. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, err on overbaking without burning the skin. Take out the chicken if the skin begins to burn. However, you want the skin nice, brown, and crispy.
9. We start by carving the breast on top first. The skin is edible, despite the common practice in the 80s and 90s of removing it. We didn’t know what we were doing back then. I have senior photos with big hair to prove it. Then we drizzle the drippings over the meat like a gravy. The legs and wings may be gently manipulated and cut through with a knife.

Free-range chickens have the best fatty acid profile (more omega-3s) to benefit you. Look for those if you can find them.

Everyone in my family, all three kids included, love this chicken. Super easy and delicious.

I’m trying to get people interested in cutting out processed foods from their diets and cutting back on grain products.  On Facebook, I am posting what we eat all day for a week.  Check out our grain-free, GAPS, SCD, Paleo, Primal, whole food-friendly meals…The Homeschooling Doctor.

Chicken, breast side up, ready to be roasted.

Chicken, breast side up, ready to be roasted.

Chicken after roasting.

Chicken after roasting.

Grain-Free Diets

Dear Google,
I am a medical doctor, and I want to know …can you live without grains?
Sincerely,
Terri 

wpid-IMAG1311-1.jpgAbout one year ago, I started aggressively searching for ways to get my once or twice monthly bowel routine to step it up.  I really was just hoping one of those natural supplements would do it for me:  aloe vera, magnesium, milk thistle, chia seeds, Saccharomyces boulardi probiotic…but fate wanted me to work a little, no–a lot, harder than that.

I stumbled across unreasonable people declaring that I had to give up gluten and dairy.  Tried it.  No good for me; took care of my daughter’s problem.

Then I stumbled across loonies saying I needed to give up grains altogether.  No way.  A human being can’t live without grains.  It’s the bottom of the food pyramid.  The rock-bottom foundation.  My dad’s a farmer.  I can’t give up grains.

Not only  did I give up grains, I picked a crazy diet called GAPS to stick to for a year.  I wanted to give it all my effort and prove to myself that food really does not make a difference, so I could eat my cake and cookies in peace.

Since the word diet makes me cringe and want to eat more bad stuff, I prefer to call what I’m doing “nutritional intervention”–even “nutritional rehabilitation,” if you will.  Because really, that’s what it is.  Problem identified.  Intervention being undertaken.

Can a human being live without grains?

Yes.  Before agriculture, humans lived on hunting and gathering:  meats, fruits, and vegetables.  Seeds (grains) would have comprised exceptionally little of their diets.  Think wild grass weeds growing in the back field or along your favorite hiking trail.

Inuits (Eskimos) did great on a no-grain diet, before the violation of their food-culture with the American diet.

By the way, have you ever eaten wheat grains?  I grew up on a farm.  I have.  I scooped a small handful out of the grain truck, chewed a few bites, and called that good enough for me–running off to go grab a red popsicle from the deep freeze.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, you get from grains that you cannot obtain from another food source.  Let me repeat.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, you get from grains that you cannot obtain from another food source.

Why would anyone suggest cutting grains?

  • Anti-nutrients in grains prevent absorption of vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Carbohydrates in grains (and starches and sugars) raise glucose levels and therefore insulin levels.  The way America eats grains (and sugars and starches), insulin is high “all the time.”  Insulin’s job is to store fat for you.  Also, high levels of glucose and insulin are inflammatory.  When I say inflammatory, I want you to think of all kinds of things, like blocked heart arteries, dementia, and diabetes.
  • Lectins in grains are exceptionally difficult for our precious first barrier, the gastrointestinal tract.  They bind to our gut cells and can damage it, gaining access to our bloodstream to cause further distress in other cellular processes.
  • Gluten in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale are very difficult to digest, and even if you don’t have celiac disease, it’s estimated 7% of the population still reacts to gluten:  headaches, rashes, joint aches, and gastrointestinal effects.

Last Words

My blog is not about getting you to go grain-free.  In fact, my blog is only to encourage you.  Encourage you to seek ways to make food work for you and your family, not against you.  Grains can be troublesome to many people, and aside from gluten, maybe you’ve never heard that.  I didn’t even touch on gluten’s “morphine-type” effect, which some of us are likely very sensitive to (think carbohydrate cravings and morphine-type effect on bowels).

Food matters.  It’s not just about your weight, but I almost promise your weight will follow if you cut out all processed foods and eat only fruits/vegetables/meats.  It’s about how you and your loved ones feel.  Those crazy nagging health problems the doctor just ignores or can’t seem to help.  Our family changed our eating and ditched lots of those problems.

I’m still waiting for my wings so I can fly.  I’m thinking two years eating this way ought to about do it.  Watch for me flying in the sky over your area soon.  (My blog.  My humor.  Sorry.)

Post on SCD, GAPS, Paleo, Primal, and Whole 30 diets/nutritional intervention programs to follow soon.

Poisoned at Church, Sequel

As I’ve said before, kids get more candy at church than a rat can find in a trash can at the movie theater.  Maybe it’s holier there.

Following is a letter to our church’s deacons, education committee, nursery supervisor, and pastors.  Food counts.  You count.  Your kids count.  A friend with kids told me recently, “I give up.”  Don’t give up.  I’m not.

Plagiarism encouraged…

English: Two regular Oreo cookies. Please chec...

June 16, 2013

Dear Deacons, Education Committee, Nursery Supervisor, and Pastors:

Over the past year, due to some underlying medical problems, our family has overhauled the food we eat.  I was shocked at the health problems and the 12 prescriptions we were able to leave behind just by aggressively changing our diet.  Since this simple discovery, we have worked hard to promote plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to our three daughters and to remove any processed foods at all.

I am concerned about our snack policy.  Every Sunday my children (in three different classes) tell me what snack they received in their 9:30 a.m. Sunday School:  Skittles, M&Ms, Laffy Taffy, Dum Dum suckers, gum, jelly beans, seasonal chocolates, Oreo cookies, donuts, donut holes, Goldfish, vanilla wafers, animal crackers, and fruit snacks complete the list.  After Sunday School, the children proceed to children’s church where, one Sunday, my daughter woefully described “four rounds of candy, Mom!”  Inventory of children’s church snacks tallies up cookies, jelly beans, Laffy Taffy, peppermints, butterscotches, Skittles, Willie Wonka candy, and seasonal candy.

I am no food-saint.  When I taught Sunday School in South Carolina before moving here, I was that teacher—the one who brought packaged mini-muffins, homemade cupcakes, and fruit snacks.  Please hear me when I say I understand it is hard to change old habits, and many teachers are only trying to be kind.  However, since food intolerances, obesity, ADHD, and autoimmune disorders are skyrocketing, I suggest we as a church endeavor to provide a “safe zone” for our children.

Families are struggling with food assault at school, extra-curricular classes, church, and even while running errands to the bank or grocery store.  Many moms in our church and elsewhere have told me they know their child reacts badly to red food dye or sugar, but they cannot control what happens outside their homes at school and church.  I have even heard of a local family who skips church only because of their young child’s anaphylactic reaction, knowing that at most churches food is handed out freely.  It is estimated that 1 in 12 children today have food allergies.

If we are trying to reach out to others in the community, having a policy of only fruits and vegetables could be a wonderful blessing to many who have been fearful of letting their children attend a class where they might receive a health, or even life, threatening food.

Our Sunday School teachers should in no way feel obligated to bring any snack!  Most children have had breakfast and will soon be eating lunch.  If the church feels obligated to offer snacks at all, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables benefit our children the most and would offer the least detrimental effects to the most children.  Processed foods of any sort—gluten-free, dairy-free, or otherwise-free—need to be eliminated from our children’s classes.  I’m shivering now thinking of the effect of fruit snacks on children’s teeth.

I fear that we are using candy and junk food to attract and hold the devotion of our children at church.  I ask that we find another way to promote Bible verse learning, attendance, and fun.  Because of our food choices, nearly 70% of the American adult population is overweight, putting hearts and knees under horrible strain; adults are reinforcing the same poor food habits in our children.

How can we best serve Christ if the bodies and brains He gifted us with just don’t feel and function well because of our repeated poor food choices?  How can our kids function best to learn about and serve Christ if their brains are “ADHD’d” by the red food coloring in the juice box or Dum Dum suckers?

Although I neglected it for years, my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and so is yours.  It is a magnificently designed vessel to serve God when provided the proper building nutrients and not assaulted by ill-chosen food choices, which make the temple’s edifice and foundation crumble.

We are busy praying to God, as we should, about knee replacement surgeries, blocked coronary arteries, and diabetes complications, yet we continue to reject the simple foods that God brings forth in abundance to nourish our bodies in favor of food of our own processing.  Our temples are crumbling due to our negligence and disrespect for God’s powerful creation, and we are passing on that disrespect to our children.

Please consider implementing a snack policy of unprocessed, low allergenic foods.  I believe most of the parents in our church, and many who have not yet started coming, would be grateful.

With heartfelt concern,

Terri Fites, M.D.

You may also like to read:

Poisoned at church

Can I Cook with Olive Oil?

 

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You shouldn’t cook with olive oil.”

Well, isn’t that just an invitation to cook with olive oil?

Is olive oil really a ticking time bomb under cooking heat?  The taste  is divine and the liquidity super convenient.  Do I need to feel remiss for blogging the recipes I cook and bake with olive oil?

I took a look.

(I’m talking about virgin or extra-virgin olive oil in this post.  See here for help in differentiating types of olive oil.  It can be overwhelming.)

Bottom line first:  Baking and cooking at fairly short, typical kitchen temperatures minimally changes olive oil, but not enough to stress me out.

It’s no longer in my mind, “Can I cook with it?” but instead, “Which brand should I be cooking with?”

Most importantly with olive oil, you get what you start with.

Many (maybe most) olive oils are well-degraded before you ever open the bottle, and cooking only intensifies that.  Start with good quality, fresh olive oil.  If you don’t, you may as well catch it on fire.  Oxidation at its finest!  Opa!

Oh, yeah.  And to get the full benefits of olive oil, make sure and use some uncooked every now and then (I opt for 2-3 times daily)!  Since you get what you pay for and you want to get your nickel’s worth–lick the plate.  Yum.  A quality extra-virgin olive oil–it’s that good.

If you want a little more detail on the “can I cook with olive oil” question–keep reading.  If you want a lot more, read the sources listed at the end.

Can I feel comfortable using olive oil for cooking and baking?

Yes.  I can.

Doesn’t olive oil degrade with heat?

Yes.  It does.  And also with exposure to light and oxygen.  In fact, there’s a good chance your store-bought olive oil is rancid before it has even gotten to you.

Ideally your olive oil would come in a glass or stainless steel container  from a well-stored supply that was properly shipped and wouldn’t be sitting under bright fluorescent grocery lights.

Quotes below elaborate on what keeps olive oil from oxidizing.

“Pérez Cerezal et al. reported that olive oil stored in iron tanks can be oxidised rapidly if they are not coated internally with epoxy resins. They also compared the differences in oxidative deterioration between virgin olive oils stored in an iron tank and those stored in a polyesterglass fiber tank. After 10 months, the former had undergone a significant oxidative deterioration while the oxidation extent of the latter was as low as that found for the control oil stored in glass bottles at 4 °C.” (1)

Really?   How do I know if Bertolli’s olive oil is stored in iron, epoxy resin-coated tanks?  DO YOU KNOW?  And to go on…

“In this respect, stainless steel is considered the most appropriate material for tanks in order to avoid the presence of detrimental factors during storage, i.e., light and metal, contamination.  Additional protection with inert gas to decrease oxygen concentration would be the complementary measure to maintain a high oil stability.  The influence of packing materials on olive oil stability was also studied in detail under different commercial conditions. As expected, results from long-term storage studies indicate that impermeability to air and protection from light increase the oil shelf life significantly.” (1)

And finally, are you that consumer?

“At present, virgin olive oil is usually commercialised in glass transparent bottles since consumers like to see the oil that they purchase.  Consequently, the lack of protection from light is the predominant factor that can accelerate oxidation by catalysis of radical initiation or, in the presence of photosensitisers, by formation of singlet oxygen.”  (1)

Okay, but you’re pretty sure you’re buying “FRESH pressed olive oil”, nearly off the tree!  So it’s good when you pour it (you think)!  What about cooking?  Can you cook with it?  Doesn’t it ruin it?  Make it DANGEROUS?

Nah.  It doesn’t magically form wicked trans fats or sorely picked on, probably unjustly, saturated fats.  However, its beneficial compounds will degrade with cooking heat, just like when it sits next to your hot stove in a clear, plastic bottle on a sunny day.  Just like it could in that iron vat mentioned above–perhaps long before it ever reached you.  Way back in Italy or Spain.

I feel comfortable cooking and baking with olive oil at my typical ranges of about 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit (149-204 degrees Celsius).  And my typical times of about 10-30 minutes.

Why?  What makes me say that?

“Effects of Conventional Heating on the Stability of Major Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds by Tandem Mass Spectrometry and Isotope Dilution Assay” has a nice table (Table 1) looking at olive oil’s phenolic compounds’ breakdown at typical cooking temperatures.  There are other components that make olive oil beneficial, but phenols are some of the most labile ones.  I feel pretty comfortable that my usual 375 degree Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), 20 minute roasting of vegetables does not allow enough time for much degradation of the beneficial compounds in olive oil.

Table 1 in the article (I couldn’t copy it and paste it.  Sorry.) lists eight phenolic compounds.  Three of the compounds get diminished by about 50% at  30 minutes of 338 degrees Fahrenheit, and the rest have fairly negligible deterioration.

So I figure I’m losing even less on my five-minute pancakes. If I could cool my jets to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius), I’d save about all of those glorified compounds! (2)

(To get your bearings, for nice, golden brown pancakes, I run my skillet at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Medium-low on my stove burner–but they all vary immensely!)

About nothing I cook with olive oil exceeds 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius) for longer than 20-30 minutes.  So if I’m starting with a great oil, I shouldn’t be oxidizing the poor stuff beyond its beneficial use.

Last Asides: 

  • Mark’s Daily Apple has some studies quoted defending use of olive oil in typical kitchen cooking, but I could only pull up the abstracts:  “Defending Olive Oil’s Reputation.”
  • Smoke point of virgin olive oil is about 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius), but it will vary from brand to brand, year to year, location to location.
  • I like to find a fresh, peppery extra-virgin olive oil for a needed robust flavor and a milder one for things like mayonnaise or baking.  But if I’m out of one or the other, I just use what I have.
  • I like coconut oil, which is great for cooking because it tolerates heat better than olive oil, but it gives me a yucky feeling in my head, let’s call it a headache for convenience sake.  And some other untoward side effects.  (Early on in GAPS, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel tops sometimes.  I later linked it to liberal use of coconut oil.)
  • Cloudy olive oil actually suggests an oil with more stability; oxidation occurs more slowly.

I really help this helped you!  Have a great day (or night)!

Sources:

(1) Velasco et al.  Oxidative Stability of Olive Oil.  Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 2002; 104: 661–676

(2)  Attya M, Benabdelkamel H, Perri E, Russo A, Sindona G.  Effects of Conventional Heating on the Stability of Major Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds by Tandem Mass Spectrometry and Isotope Dilution Assay. Molecules. 2010; 15(12):8734-8746.

Eating Out

We just finished a ten day vacation.

Vacation=eating out.

You call it “eating out”?  Mmph.  For those of us on nutritional intervention, it’s more like eating “without.”

Although I suppose…

“Yes, waiter, well, I–uh–brought my $20 glass bottle of cold-pressed extra virgin organic olive oil here–I’m sure the chef won’t mind using it, will he?  Along with some of these chopped organic vegetables and this lovely filet of grass-fed beef –and this is some Celtic sea salt…I can’t have gluten, dairy, soy, any of those “naughty oils,” artificial colors, artificial preservatives, sugar, and I’m trying to avoid eggs and nuts, too.”  All spoken as you pull a couple of skillets out of your stylish backpack to make sure there’s no dairy or gluten cross-contamination when your food is cooked.

…then maybe, just maybe, dinner could be escaped unscathed.  But as it is, eating out can be a real headache and stomach ache.  Literally.  Is it worth it?  Sometimes.  But mostly I’ve found I’d rather clean the kitchen than eat out.  (Sad, considering eating out used to be one of our most favorite things to do.)

I’ve been following this diet called GAPS for just about a year now.  It has helped A LOT.  I’ve had to take out certain GAPS-allowed foods which brings me pretty much in-line with Paleo.  Sometimes I try to take it a bit further by combining autoimmune Paleo with GAPS (emphasis on homemade broths, fermented foods, certain supplements, and some hate stares at “toxins”) to see if I can achieve complete success.  If you know what in the heck I’m talking about, good for you.  If you don’t, well, let’s trade places, please.  Anyhow, eating out is challenging to navigate with dietary restrictions.

On eating (with) out:

First Question: “How am I doing?” or “What am I on this diet for?”

  • If I’m in the clutches of a cloudy head, headache, bloating, and diarrhea, I don’t eat out–my anniversary, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, or God’s birthday.  I stick close to home and re-establish a safe zone.
  • If I’m feeling great and have been for a while, maybe it’s time to rock the boat and take that chance.
  • Bottom line here is–I’m working very hard to see if I can get rid of some health issues I have.  I work very hard to keep moving forward, and I don’t want to destroy that progress.  However, I have found that I can now go out to eat with few, if any, setbacks, as long as I am cautious.

Second Question:  “Where am I at in this food journey?”

  • GAPS and SCD have introduction diets, and really, there’s just not anything from a restaurant allowed in that interval.  I didn’t chance it on stage 1 and 2 of GAPS.  Once I got to roasted meats, I felt more secure with a steak and steamed veggies.
  •  On the initiation of Paleo, Primal, Whole 30 or any other dietary overhaul, it really is not the time to eat out unless you have the will-power of Helen Keller and the stamina of Job.  You deserve success on these nutritional undertakings, and to eat out early on may be more than you can handle.  “Know thyself.”  Maybe you can do it.  I couldn’t back then.

Third Question:  “How strict do I want to be?”

  • If you’re an absolutist regarding oil, grass-fed, organic, preservatives, sugar, and “spices”–best stay home awhile longer until/if you can branch out a bit.  It is YOUR HEALTH and you know best how compromising you should be.  Listen to yourself.

Fourth Question:  “Where do you want to go?”

  • Not even a question.  Steak.  Next choice, seafood and sushi.  Third choice, Thai food with its use of coconut milk and minimal gluten.
    • I found Indian food very challenging because they use so much dairy, but I did manage to get a chicken and tomato based sauce at an Indian food once after a long discussion with our waitress.  Tandoori chicken is marinated in yoghurt.
    • At a Mexican restaurant, I ordered steak and grilled fajita vegetables topped with guacamole.  I avoid all sauces except guacamole and salsa, which I ask about.
    • At a local favorite pizza joint, after a conversation with the owner, I ordered 3 sides (totalling 6) of Harvey's dinnermeatballs (only composed of ground beef, onion, and “spices”–no breadcrumbs or eggs) covered with tomato sauce (which unfortunately had soybean oil and “spices”) and toppings of my choice.  Delicious.
    • For breakfast, I go for the bacon (3 sides of 2 pieces), knowing it has trace sugar and some preservatives.  A cheat.  I used to do eggs before I cut them out.
    • Up-scale, eclectic restaurants are great.  But they cost about two weeks worth of groceries.  However, they always make things exactly to order and very safe.  Plus delicious and exotic.  An absolute, real treat.
    • We’ve found some great things at a Spanish tapas bar and also at genuine Italian restaurants.
  • Many “finer” restaurants are beginning to appeal to nutritional rehabbers like us.  Charleston, SC had several.  They key on advertising as gluten-free/dairy-free.  If I can get a restaurant to guarantee “gluten-free/dairy-free”, I’m usually pretty comfortable ordering after a few questions.
  • Fast food and chains are troublesome.  Whip out your phone and pull up the allergen/nutrition pages for the restaurants.  Here’s a few to get you started.
    • Qdoba (Applesauce, guacamole, fajita vegetables–marginal due to “spice”, and pico de gallo are my go-to foods here.)
    • Subway (I didn’t do well with Subway.)
    • Chipotle
    • McDonald’s  (I guess if I have to eat here, it’ll be the 100% beef patty from a quarter pounder with lettuce and a side of apple slices.  Make sure the burger never touches a bun.  Better than starvation.  Maybe.)
    • Ruby Tuesday  I have read good reviews on other blogs regarding this restaurant for nutritional rehab people.  I looked at the allergen listings, and you have to go through it according to each “allergen.”  Kind of painstaking.
    • Outback  They have their menu marked with gluten-free items, and they also offer sides prepared seasoned as desired.
    • Red Robin I read to ask for it “protein style.”
    • Panera’s hidden menu

Fifth Question:  “What are you going to eat?”

  • In addition to the choices I mention above, steak, chicken or fish that looks as if you can request them made by themselves with no risky seasonings are ideal.  Even Italian restaurants usually offer grilled chicken or seafood.
  • Don’t just look at the entrees.  Peruse the whole menu, from appetizers to salads to entrees, looking for fresh cuts of meat.  MIX AND MATCH!!  At some restaurants, I see salmon on a salad but not as an entree.  If I ask, they never seem to mind serving me a plain salmon filet with a couple of sides of vegetables.  Or I see a meatball sandwich, which has meatballs just made out of ground beef and onion–so I ask if I can get some meatballs as a meal.
  • If a salad looks good, order double the offered meat to fill you up.  Request necessary changes to the salad (no cheese, croutons, nuts, etc).
  • Ask for a “double order” of vegetables.  Sometimes the waiter may look confused–just explain you want a side order of extra vegetables.
  • Most places will usually swap out the starch (rice or potato) for vegetables.

Sixth Question:  “Where are the hidden pitfalls?”

  • Make it very clear you can’t have gluten, dairy, soy, and whatever else you think is a priority for you this time out.  I hate to say I’m “allergic” (because I’m not), but I do say, “I have some questions…I can’t eat dairy, gluten, or soy because it makes me sick…I don’t want to get sick…I was thinking about the salmon filet–can it be made plain for me so I don’t have any reactions?”  I want the waiter to make sure to ask questions back in the kitchen and to communicate with the cook staff.  Often before they verify my order, they’ll go back and check things out.  I always appreciate that if there seems to be a dot of uncertainty.  And top words out of my mouth are usually, “Thank you, and I’m so sorry to be a pain.  I just don’t want to get sick.  Thank you so much for your help.”
  • Steaks are often grilled with butter.  Make sure and request no butter and no seasonings.
  • Cheap chicken can be injected with all kinds of reaction-forming stuff.  Try to verify it is a fresh breast, not frozen.
  • Make sure meats are not breaded and not made with fillers (sometimes ground beef is made with fillers).  Also, make sure eggs are only eggs–not a mix.
  • Vegetables, even steamed ones, are often made with butter.  Make it clear you can’t have butter.  JUST OIL, preferably olive oil.  No seasonings–unless they know exactly what they are.
  • Many seasoning mixes (such as pre-mixed taco seasonings) may have whey (dairy), maltodextrin (gluten potential), cornstarch, sugar, and many other negative items.  Here’s where you take the biggest gamble, I think.  I do the best I can to tell them, “No seasonings.  Just give it to me plain and boring.”
  • Salad dressings–ask them to bring you vinegar/lemons to juice and oil.  Better yet, bring your own mixture of favorite salad dressing or oil that you keep in a baby jar at home.  It’s great over salad, veggies, and meats.
  • Consider keeping/bringing your own baggie of sea salt, since the restaurant’s salt will likely contain dextrose.
  • Sauces such as gaucomole and salsa are not always safe.  Sometimes mixes (think–MSG, whey, sugar, and gums) are used to make these.
  • Watch sautéed mushrooms and onions if you can’t do dairy.  Always yummy if you can convince them to cook them up for you in olive oil!
  • Ask lots of questions.  This helps me to know how trusting I want to be.  If it gets too scary when I ask questions (and sometimes it does), I just ask for a glass of wine and leave it at that.
  • Skip gravy and sauces.

Last statement.  If none of these will work and you don’t want to risk it:

  1.  Eat well before you go.
  2.  Order a drink:  coffee, tea, or a glass of wine.  Sip it and enjoy the conversation.  Smile and laugh.  Have a good time.  That’s the most important thing anyway.
  3. Watch others eat and take pleasure in their enjoyment of foods that you know taste good–but will chew you up and spit you out without a casual glance backwards.  Think of it like a Rick Steves or Anthony Bourdain travel episode.  You can’t really partake in what they’re doing–but you like to watch it anyway.  Does this sound strange?  I really enjoy seeing how the food is plated.  How it smells.  And asking my dinner companion to tell me how it tastes.

Best wishes to you!  Hope your health is moving to where you want it to be!  Keep it up!  You can do it!–Terri

Grain-Free Pancakes

wpid-IMAG0506-1-1.jpgOur way of eating has become second nature.  I almost forget we don’t eat like other people.  We have one cookbook that allows us to fly incognito when we are forced out of our cave or people invade, which actually happens quite often.  Especially that “invade your cave” part.  People with kids much prefer invading caves that other people have to clean and cook in.  Which is okay…because I have better control over the food that way!  Our favorite cookbook has to be The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook written by Elana Amsterdam.  It keeps us with an appearance of eating normal.

I modify all the recipes to be legal with our nutritional overhaul, GAPS (or Paleo or SCD or Primal or Whole 30–you get the idea).  Most recipes don’t mind the transition a bit, but some put up a resistance.  Pancakes put up a fuss.  Pancakes love flour more than I did.  They really must want the arrowroot powder Elana uses, too.  Elana’s pancake recipe yells at me when I try making substitutions.  See?

wpid-IMAG2283-1-1-1.jpg

So with some tweaking, we got those bloody rebels under better control.  They still exert their power in small ways:

1.  I can’t make them as big as I want to.  Four inches in diameter is all I can get away with.  No “big as your head pancakes” here.  Bummer.  Addendum:  My daughter just got a 7 incher!!!

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2.  I can’t cook them as hot as I want to.  The heat must be medium-low (340 degrees Fahrenheit if you have an electric griddle) or else they’ll burn.

3.  I can’t flip them when I want to or they’ll muck up my skillet and spatula and beautiful, mean sounding, songs will fill the kitchen air.  (“What’s wrong, mommy?”  It’s just a pancake, but it’s my job now.)  Patience is required as to when to flip these.  I keep my burner low and practice patience.  This staying home stuff is a cinch.

All that technical stuff, that’s just the stuff they omit from cookbooks.  So go ahead, try this recipe.  See what you think.

My kids think they taste like the real deal.  Flying under the radar again.

Petulant Pancakes 

(Makes about 19 four-inch diameter pancakes.  Kids can be eating them in about 15-20 minutes from your start time.)

  • 6 eggs
  • Scant 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water, plus or minus a little
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons oil for in batter (I use olive oil)
  • Oil for skillet

Follow the one dump method:  Combine all ingredients into one large bowl and mix well with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth.  Adjust consistency with water as needed.  Err on the side of not too runny.  It’s kind of like muffin batter, a bit thinner.

Meanwhile, heat your oiled skillet over medium-low heat or to 340-345 degrees Fahrenheit. (I really like my electric skillet because I can quantify the heat level, and I can make so many at once.)

Use a scant 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.  Push the batter around a bit to form into a 4 inch diameter circle.  If you want teeny-tiny, easier to manipulate pancakes, use a tablespoon to dole out the batter.

Cook (PATIENTLY) until the underside is golden brown and set firm, about 3 minutes for the first side.  If your spatula will not easily slide under the pancake, it’s not ready!  Cook other side until golden brown and transfer to a plate.

Serve with desired topping choice.  My girls plated the pancakes you see here with coconut cream, wpid-IMAG0541-1.jpgblueberries, bananas, raspberries, and a drizzle of Dad’s (my dad) maple syrup.  I hope your eating and health is shining.  If not, don’t give up.  Persist.  You can do it.  It is worth it.

Probiotic Quiz

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Which probiotic should I take?  HA!  Let me see here…hmmm…let me count…I’ve got at least three kinds in the fridge here somewhere.  No, no, no!  Two in the fridge and Bio-Kult in the cupboard above the stove.  Ah, look!  There are two more half-emptied bottles in the upstairs closet from that course of antibiotics I took three years ago for sinusitis, and…

Back to the question.  Which probiotic?  Even the experts can’t agree on this!  Check out the following contradictory statements regarding Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium infantis.

“Meta-Analysis of Probiotic Efficacy for Gastrointestinal Diseases” pooled together many studies on probiotics used in gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and concluded:

“Of the 11 species and species mixtures, all showed positive significant effects except for Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium infantis.”

(I provide some brief tidbits from this meta-analysis at the end of the post, about what the studies were treating and the strains they looked at.  It’s a good read if you have time.)

However, the American Gastroenterological Association’s website states:

“Probiotics, particularlyBifidobacterium infantis, Sacchromyces boulardii, Lactobacillus plantarum and combination probiotics may help regulate how often people with IBS have bowel movements.”

My 12 years of medicinal training (pharmacy school, medical school, and residency) offered NO education on probiotics.  Basically, in residency, it was good enough to just say, “Go get a probiotic to take with your Levaquin.”  My current probiotic knowledge comes from self-experimentation and reading all those internet help-forums and blogs over the last year.  Tells you how much you should trust my site. By the way, I have tried at least Bio-Kult, a couple of brands of Saccharomyces boulardii, two brands of soil based probiotics, Culturelle, Align, Sustenex, a few brands of Lactobacillus, something from the health food store refrigerator with Bifidobacter and 301 other strains, Activia, homemade yogurt, homemade sour cream, homemade sauerkraut, store-bought kimchi, and both homemade and store-bought fermented pickles.  Whew!  Sadly, although other people may have found their ticket with a probiotic, I don’t think that’s going to be my ride.

How’s Your Probiotic Knowledge?  Take a Probiotic Quiz:

Answer True or False to statements you’ll commonly see across the internet.

1.  There is a BEST probiotic.

False.  You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.  The effectiveness of a probiotic is person dependent, disease dependent, strain dependent, and quality dependent.  That’s a lot of variables to control for.  Your favorite blogger’s probiotic choice probably won’t hurt you, but on the other hand, it may not be the help you were looking for.

One person may do well with a probiotic with just one kind of bacteria whereas another person will do better with a probiotic with many strains of bacteria in it.  Different disease states respond better to different strains of probiotics.  It is helpful to know which strain of species is in your probiotic.  For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus in the above mentioned meta-analysis didn’t benefit the GI diseases looked at, but the specific strain called Lactobacillus acidophilus LB did.  In some cases, knowing the genus (Lactobacillus), species (acidophilus), and strain (LB) becomes very important.  You may want to read up on your condition and choose probiotics with strains that have been found to be effective for that disease state in studies.  And finally, the quality of preparation and handling of the probiotic by the manufacturer and middle-men will make a difference.  If the temperature heats up to a whopping 120 degrees in that semi-truck trailer in the summer, that doesn’t count as “ambient temperatures”, and bacteria will be dying off in the probiotic bottle.

2.  The BEST probiotics need refrigerated.

False.  Bacterial species of different types lie dormant at different temperatures and moisture levels, such as soil based organisms, and do not need refrigerated.  Also, the way the bacteria are processed makes a huge difference.  For example, freeze-dried probiotics don’t need refrigerated, and can lie in a quiescent, viable state for a year or even longer at routine temperatures as long as moisture level is controlled for.  Refrigeration, however, is absolutely necessary for many probiotics, but it still doesn’t imply the probiotic is viable if there were poor handling practices in shipment.  Refrigeration of probiotics will not be harmful, even for the non-refrigerated types.  Refrigeration keeps bacteria in a dormant state, allowing longer shelf-life.  If in doubt, refrigeration is okay.

3.  Probiotics don’t replace your bowel flora.

True (but you must keep reading).  Probiotics don’t permanently replace your bowel flora, but that doesn’t mean they don’t change your bowel flora for the better.  Once you stop taking, say Lactobacillus GG, perhaps you won’t find increased colonies of Lactobacillus GG months later.  But while it was there, the Lactobacillus GG made chemicals to inhibit the growth of other, potentially unwanted, bacteria and yeast.  Plus, it produced acids, like lactic acid, to make the environment more suitable for desirable bacterial strains present in your gut.  Maybe in a way we can say the probiotics allow a “comeback” of the desirables that have been crowded out.  If you add in a form of nutritional rehabilitation (drastically cut back on any sweet intake and grain products), you’ll be even more successful at getting the desirable bacteria back in the game and the undesirables crowded out.  Reminds me of that song line, “Don’t call it a comeback…I’ve been here for years…rockin’ my peers.”  Stupid, I know, but don’t forget I don’t get a dime to write anything.

4.  I OUGHT to be taking a probiotic.

False (but keep reading).  Some people will do very well with the addition of a probiotic.  Their yeast infections will clear up.  Their IBS diarrhea will subside.  Their immunity will strengthen.  However, for every one of these people, you may find somebody who gets very ill on a probiotic.  Any probiotic.  Any dose of probiotic.  Although it would be nice to get some probiotic in that gut, either with food or with supplements, a person can’t bang his or her head against a wall feeling guilty because Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD says probiotics are a cornerstone to treatment.  If you get sick every time you take a probiotic, work on other things.  Like cutting back sugar sources and grain products.  Also, probiotics are controversial in small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO), a condition caused by too many bacteria defying gravity and peristalsis and moving up to take residence in the small intestine, where they wreak havoc.  And lastly, some severe medical conditions, like pancreatitis, can be contraindications (an absolute no-no).

5.  Probiotics should be started out at low doses.

True.  The probiotic can cause a bit of a disturbance in the GI tract.  Some bacteria will die off, some new ones with new metabolites may flourish, and your body may feel uncomfortable from these effects.  So start slowly and work your way up. If the dose calls for 2 capsules twice daily, I start off with just one capsule, see how I do, and adjust up or down from there.   You may even need to break the capsule open and sprinkle a bit on your food and try to increase as you can.  This is my personal opinion, but I give my new probiotic choices about 2-3 weeks before I ditch them and say, “Not gonna’ work for me.”  I figure 2-3 weeks is enough of a trial when I’m bloated and gassy.  If you want to deal with saccharomyces boulardii bloating for 6 weeks, be my guest.

Although starting low can help you tolerate the probiotic better, driving the dose up can be important to achieve desired effects.  The studies mentioned in the meta-analysis above drove the doses up quite high, describing effective doses from 1 million colony forming units to 50 billion colony forming units.  Read your probiotic label.  It should tell you how many CFUs are in each capsule.  For example, my bottle of SCDophilus has 10 billion CFUs per capsule.

6.  A good probiotic will have FOSs (fructo-oligosaccharides).

False.  A probiotic does not need to have FOS as an ingredient.  In fact, I would suggest that you omit the FOS component, particularly initially.  The FOS is an unabsorbable sugar that bacteria enjoy consuming, and the byproduct for you can be gas with its associated cramping.  Ouch.  FOSs are also called “PREBIOTICS” in contrast to the “PROBIOTICS” we are talking about.

Once things are going well with a particular probiotic, if you want to try a similar one with the addition of FOSes, give it a try.  Then, you’ll know if it was the probiotic or the FOSes if there are any side effects.  The FOSes are there to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.  Not a bad theory, but in practice, maybe not so applicable.  If you eat fruits and vegetables, those are great sources of FOSs for your bacterial flora!

7.  Side effects of the probiotic are solely due to the bacteria themselves.

False.  If you have (either knowingly or unknowingly, like many people) an intolerance to gluten, soy, or milk, your bad reaction to a probiotic may be due to components used to make the probiotic, not the bacteria itself.  Bio-Kult’s allergy statement says it may contain traces of soy and dairy.  Culturelle’s bacteria are grown with whey, and may contain traces of dairy (although at such low levels it is considered non-immunogenic).  Sustenex Gummy Bears have dairy–it’s no wonder my daughter’s constipation wasn’t budging when I gave her those!

Why take the chance on a bad reaction that will confuse issues you’re trying to work out?  I don’t think it’s worth the money and chance of a reaction to have a product that has soy, dairy, and gluten as potential reactants.  Read those labels!  Look for cellulose type components.  Make sure the probiotic is free of any of those common allergens!  This will really help you narrow down your probiotic choices!

8.  Foods are the best source of probiotics for everybody.

False.  Ideally, our probiotics would come from the food we eat, but some people have such severe food intolerances that they can’t tolerate food-source probiotics.  Yogurt?  Can’t eat dairy.  Sauerkraut or kimchi?  Can’t tolerate the histamine by-products in those.  Coconut kefir?  Coconut products give them diarrhea and headaches.  When food sensitivities are that prevalent, there’s not much choice but to turn to supplements.  If you can tolerate probiotic food sources, the amount of CFUs you eat are reported to be humongous.  However, I’m not talking Activia and canned sauerkraut here.  Anything with added sugar raises a red flag and is totally counterproductive.  Anything that has  been pasteurized will have no, or at least greatly reduced, CFU bacterial numbers.

I have some obsessive-compulsive friends, and they say, “Well, I take a supplement because I just like to know how much I’m getting!”  From Breaking the Vicious Cycle’s website, “Its is often claimed that we can get more good bacteria from taking commercial probiotics. This is not the case and yoghurt is a very low cost source of probiotics. 24hr SCD™ yoghurt has a concentration of 3 billion cfu/ml which means that in just a cup of Yoghurt (236ml) you’ll get 708 Billion beneficial bacteria and that’s about 50 times more than that claimed for a typical 15 billion capsule.”

Besides the CFUs of bacteria in the fermented foods, you also are getting some of their metabolites that benefit the GI tract and your body, such as high levels of bioavailable vitamin C in sauerkraut.

Now Apply Your Knowledge…

1.  Dr. Mercola recommends “Complete Probiotics.”  He thinks its great because it has Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 and 9 other strains, is stable at room temperature, has prebiotics, is free of soy/corn/dairy/wheat/gluten and in a vegetable based capsule.  What do you think?

2.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends the Bio-Kult she helped develop.  It has 14 different strains, is stable at room temperature, and contains soy and milk in trace quantities.  What do you think?

3.  Steve and Jordan recommend GI Pro Health’s “SCDophilus.”  SCDophilus needs refrigerated, is gluten/dairy/soy free in a cellulose capsule, and contains “Lactobacillus acidophilus.”  What do you think?

Enough testing, here are my thoughts on probiotics:

1.  Choose a probiotic with no confounding ingredients.  If you’re not very careful, your probiotic may have soy, wheat, or dairy derivatives which may be accounting for symptoms.  Read all labels closely and opt for vegetable/cellulose based capsules.

2.  Forget the FOSes.  They can cause people a lot of bloating and cramping that may have nothing to do with the introduction of the probiotic.

3.  Know your genus, species, and preferably strain.  Start simple.  Try a one-strain product, and see how that goes.  Branch out from there.

4.  Choose reputable.

5.  Listen to your body.  You may need to start with half a capsule–open and sprinkle–and work up, or you may need 1 every other day.  Titrate up as you can, but if after 2-3 weeks you’re still feeling bad from your probiotic, move on.

6.  Try to incorporate fermented foods, but beware of additives such as sugar or preservatives.  Pasteurization defeats the purpose here, except I have read that Bubbies sauerkraut is so active, they have to heat it up a bit to get it to stop being quite so active!  Their pickles are not pasteurized at all.

7.  Work up the dose.  Know how many CFUs are in the product.  Consider looking at research with the problem your trying to target and replicating the doses they use in their studies with success.

8.  Some probiotics need refrigerated and some don’t.  This is not an indicator of quality–except if it needs refrigerated and somewhere along the line it wasn’t!

From the Meta-Analysis Mentioned Above

The above mentioned meta-analysis looked at

  • pouchitis
  • infectious diarrhea
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Clostridium difficile disease
  • antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • traveler’s diarrhea
  • necrotizing enterocolitis

and found that probiotics had a positive significant effect on all of these states except traveler’s diarrhea and necrotizing enterocolitis.

The probiotics looked at were both single-strain products and combined-strain products.

  • VSL #3 which contains
    • 4 Lactobacillus species (L. casei, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, and L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus)
    • 3 Bifidobacterium species (B. longum, B.breve, and B. infantis)
    • Streptococcus salivarius subsp.
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Clostridium butyricum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus combined with Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus GG
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Streptomyces boulardii
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
    • L. acidophilus LB
    • L. acidophilus with no strain specified
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium infantis

Lactobacillus without a specified strain, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium infantis showed no significant effect on the mentioned disease states.  However, Lactobacillus acidophilus LB did.

As always, this is a live performance, and feedback always appreciated.  All the best to you!