Tag Archives: gluten-free

Juicing and Blending

Juicing and blending pinJuicing and blending are effective ways to get maximum nutrients from your fresh vegetables and fruits.  Both methods have benefits and we prefer to do both daily in our household.  We usually have a vegetable-based juice in the mornings, and an afternoon smoothie with more fruits and superfood powders (and the odd leafy greens blended in).

I should mention that these tips below are for general health and not a protocol for healing any specific illness or for detoxing. Those guidelines are often different, as there are certain foods that may be off-limits or at the very least, quantities of certain foods that will be restricted.

These are simply tips that have worked for our family, with the purpose of bringing greater health and vitality to our lives.

Juicing

Juicing is a great way to get essential nutrients into your body without it having to break down fibre.  The nutrients and energy is absorbed into your body instantly.  For this reason, it is better to limit fruit quantities as it could cause unstable blood-sugar levels.

  • Keep your juices green – use only the amount of sweet vegetables and fruit that you would eat. Eg. one carrot, one apple, half a beetroot, and then the rest should be leafy greens
  • If you are using green powders, I personally prefer juiced grass powders, not just green powders
  • A squeeze of lemon juice with greens can help with the more bitter flavour.
  • You might like to start with gentler tasting greens, such as spinach, and when you get used to the taste use a variety of others (collards, kale, arugula, meslun, etc).
  • Have your juice on an empty stomach for maximum absorption of the nutrients.
  • Wait ½ hour before eating.
  • Don’t use as a complete meal replacement.
  • ‘Chew’ your juice, don’t knock it back fast, as your body benefits from pre-digesting it in your mouth first.

Blending

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Smoothies are a great way of getting fibre into your diet. The best way to have it is to drink it straight away (same goes for juices).

  • Don’t overblend, as it can break the fibre down too much.
  • Add in superfood powders into your smoothie, such as spirulina, acai, lucuma, maca or other blends.  Choose only the best organic powders and blends.  Chia seeds and ground flax seeds are also a great addition.
  • Avoid adding in any other vegetables, except leafy greens, as they don’t tend to combine well with fruits (your body processes them differently).
  • I tend to keep smoothies as an afternoon pick-me-up, so they generally have a base of berries, a banana to thicken them up, raw milk (or fresh nut milk) and yoghurt or kefir.

If you’re able to make the investment, I’d recommend buying a cold-pressed or masticating juicer that squeezes out the juice (we use a Champion – the Norwalk is the best but very expensive!).  The cheaper centrifugal juicers (the ones that spin) destroy much of the nutrients.

The good people at Food Matters have this Juicer Buyer Guide which gives some detailed information on juicers:

Here’s a favourite ‘Banana-Chocolate-Coconut’ smoothie of ours (Serves 2):

  • 1 cup fresh coconut water or milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 orange (juice and pulp)
  • 1 or 2 peeled kiwifruit
  • A large handful of blueberries
  • 2T chia seeds
  • 1T lucuma powder
  • 1T cacao powder
  • 1T bee pollen
  • 1T maca powder (optional)

 Do you have a favourite juicing or blending recipe you’d like to share?

{This post contains an affiliate link}.

{Linked up at Good Tips Tuesday}

A New Year and Renewed Health

A new year and renewed health

**THESE SPECIALS HAVE NOW FINISHED**

Friends, I’d love to share with you a couple of opportunities to start the new year off with a kick-start to your health.  Take advantage of a new year to set some goals and grab hold of these resources to see you on your way.

  • The good people at Food Matters are running 3 days of FREE guided detox from 3rd to 5th Jan.  Kick start your health and join in the community for recipes, discussion, and your questions answered.
  • Harvest Your Health have decided to do a re-run of the popular October sale, in which 8,865 of these super bundles were sold.

This sale will run from 3-6 January in a 90 hour re-run, and then will be gone for good!  It’s live right now!

There are a handful of products that aren’t returning on this one, but it’s still AMAZING value at $886.78 for the whole bundle.  Here’s what you’ll find:

  • 52 ebooks
  • 5 meal plans
  • 1 private kitchen community membership
  • 3 ONLINE magazines
  • 1 ONLINE fitness plan (1 month for 1 penny)
  • 20+ discount codes

The one thing I’m excited about the most in this bundle is the resources and recipes for helping us on our wheat-free journey.  When you’re armed with recipes and resources like this, it makes the transition so much easier and your long term success in changing your diet SO much more sustainable and possible.

I’ve read most of these books, and there’s something here for everyone – whether you’re planning a baby, needing some fresh recipe inspiration, needing some guidance on children’s health, or wanting to step your wheat-free (or grain-free) living up a notch.

I encourage you to take advantage of this offer, and set some goals for the new year to move into greater health for you and your family.

cooking and preparing paleo

cooking and preparing real food

home and personal care

fertility and motherhood

inspiration

Informational

fitness

Detoxify

Intentional Simple Living

There is currently a giveaway running, with currently over $2,200 in prizes and more being added as the giveaway runs.  Make sure you ENTER HERE for an opportunity to win an i-pad, Kindles, gift cards, and much much more.

So there you have it!  Some super opportunities to boost your health and set you on a path for wellness in 2014.

I hope you’ll jump in with me!

Victoria

{This post contains my affiliate links}.

Weeding Out Wheat – Changes & Improvements

Weeding Out Wheat pin

It’s been about 2 months since I removed wheat from my diet.  I wrote last month about the initial changes to my health which included some weight loss and some improvements to my overall digestive health.   I find that wheat will instantly give me an unsettled stomach, and also appears to irritate my digestive tract.  As soon as I stopped wheat, the discomfort disappeared almost immediately.

Although I haven’t been 100% perfect, I’ve mostly ditched wheat from my diet completely, and the improvements have been enough to keep me motivated to continue.  I’ve read Weeding Out Wheat’ a number of times now, and continue to glean plenty from Luke and Trisha’s insight.  I’m finding it’s helping hugely in the transition.

Improvements

Although the improvements are ever so slight, I appear to be absorbing more minerals and nutrients than I was previously.  Here’s how I know:

  • My dry skin has improved.
  • A little curl has returned to my hair (it went straight after a couple of years overseas, which included a stint eating the standard American diet over a decade ago).
  • My digestive health has definitely improved.
  • My foggy head has mostly cleared (the rest of the foggy head is just plain Mummy tiredness)
  • I even appear to be having more rested sleep.  That was something a little unexpected, but a very welcome change!

I’ve has some issues with my teeth in the last couple of years, which from extensive reading, I’ve attributed to a number of interlocking factors: compromised gut health, significant drain on the nutrients in my body (5 years of straight pregnancy and breastfeeding, and still counting), and the subsequent demineralisation of my teeth. 

Although I haven’t reversed the tooth decay yet, I appear to have at least stopped it from spreading any further.   My holistic dentist has said previously I have very good oral hygiene, no plaque, but very acidic saliva. I’ve been putting organic, high nutrient-dense foods into my body for years, including fresh green juice, and finally it’s starting to get where it needs to.

Acid/Alkaline Balance

I’ve been testing the ph of my saliva for about a year, in an attempt to monitor the acid/alkaline balance, and have consistently been getting a more acidic result than what I would like**.  After just a couple of weeks of dropping wheat, my saliva was showing a neutral ph.  Very encouraging!

Let me attempt to explain what I believe the connection to be.  (I realise not everyone in the health and wellness field agrees on this area, but I can only speak out of my own experience thus far).

The main causes of a high acidic ph test result are: too much acid-forming food (eg. meat, sugar, alcohol, coffee, grains), too much phosphorus and too little calcium, long periods of stress, and some medications (one of my sources here).

Many experts recommend maintaining a balance of 20% acidic foods to 80% alkaline foods.  This is a good starting place if you’re looking to improve your health and don’t know where to start.  There are many lists online that will help you in determining which side the different foods fall.

I’ve also read in places of the need to obtain twice as much calcium to phosphorus for optimal health.  If you’re not eating organic food, you are likely getting significantly more phosphorus due to the use of superphosphate fertiliser on crops.  Phosphorus is an acidic mineral, while calcium is a mineral that neutralises acid.

So What’s All This Got To Do With Wheat?

Weeding Out Wheat explains the anti-nutrients in wheat (gluten, lectins, and phytates) disrupt and interfere with my body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

It is suggested that some doctors and researchers suspect everyone suffers from at least a small degree of gluten sensitivity.

Why is gluten a problem for most (or all) people? Gluten is made up of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. In everyone, gliadin causes zonulin to be released in the body. Zonulin regulates how permeable our intestinal wall is—how much liquid or gas will be able to pass through it. The more zonulin present, the more permeable your intestinal wall becomes. The more permeable your intestines are, the more partially digested food (i.e. poop) can enter in your blood stream. (Weeding Out Wheat, Gilkerson, p30)

There’s also more in this section in the book on the science behind why gluten, lectins and phytates might be a problem (more than I can cover here).  But here’s the part that did it for me:

One of the key take-away points in all of this is that grains are highly associated with leaky gut. When your gut isn’t healthy you can’t absorb nutrients so you become malnourished and more prone to disease. (Ibid. p31)

So from what I understand, despite the high nutrient diet I’ve been putting into my body, without the ability to successfully absorb these nutrients, I haven’t been reaping the benefit from all these nutrients entering my body at the very time in my life (ie. motherhood) where I need them more than ever!

So I think it’s time to change what I’m doing, as clearly what I’ve been doing these last few years hasn’t been enough.  I know that my body is crying out for more calcium particularly and other essential minerals, so giving up wheat to assist with healing my gut health is going to be key.

Stay Tuned

I’ll continue writing on this topic in future and will cover what foods I’m focusing on increasing and decreasing (beside obviously ditching wheat).  There’s a few other things involved, including optimising my Vitamin D levels, and supplementing in a few specific areas.  I’ll also let you know how I’m transitioning my family’s diet.

I hope you’ll take an intentional look at this area of your health too.  Please feel free to comment on where you’re up to in managing your family’s diet and health.

The Book – “Weeding Out Wheat”

Can I encourage you to take advantage of the official launch of Luke and Trisha’s excellent book ‘Weeding Out Wheat’ from 30 Dec to 1 Jan?

The kindle version is only $1.99 (usually $9.95)WOW 3 day saleThe print version is only $9.95 (usually $14.95)

WOW Buy the Book

Luke and Trisha are also hosting a giveaway that will be live on December 31st.   Make sure you head over there on Tuesday 31st and enter! {Giveaway has ended}

[** The terms ‘acid and alkaline’ in relation to food, refers to the whether a food produces an acid or alkaline residue after it has been metabolised or broken down.
For more information on the acid/alkaline connection to disease, read this article].
{This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.  If you purchase via my link, I will earn a small percentage of the sale – it won’t cost you any extra. Thanks for your support!}

Raw Christmas Truffles

Raw Christmas truffles

These are so simple and so good!

In a food processor, simply whiz up 2 cups of almonds until finely ground (or use almond meal).  Add 2 cups of raisins (or whatever dried fruit you have), and 2 tablespoons of raw cacao.  You may need to add a little water to get the consistency right – you should be able to roll into balls without it being too wet.

Roll into balls and gently flatten.

Very gently heat some raw chocolate until it melts.  Or if you’re in the southern hemisphere this Christmas, put in a bowl outside until it melts!  {NB. Your raw chocolate will no longer be raw if you heat to over 106 degrees Fahrenheit}.

Then simply decorate with raw pumpkin seeds and goji berries.

Enjoy this simple and healthy treat with your family this Christmas.

{Linked up at Try a New Recipe Tuesday}

Harvest Your Health – 2 Days To Go And A Giveaway!

harvest post 2

I wanted to remind you about this fantastic opportunity to purchase these resources at 97% – just two days left!  And also to let you know that “Harvest Your Health” is now running a giveaway as well.

Make sure you enter for your chance to win one of 57+ prizes, including 10 $50 Amazon Gift Cards, an Apple i-pad mini, 4 Hamilton Beach personal blenders, other gift cards, and another 12 cookbooks (including one on Paleo eating by Elana’s pantry who is fantastic).

Read through the list of resources that you can purchase for only $37 (97% off the usual value), either on my last post or on the Harvest Your Health website.

Have a great weekend!

“Harvest Your Health” E-book Bundle Sale

Harvest header v1I’m so glad to be able to share this amazing deal with you!

From today until October 14th you can get The Harvest Your Health Bundle which features 72 eBooks, 4 meal plans, 3 online magazine subscriptions and 10+ discount codes… ALL FOR $37!** (usually valued over $1,000).  That’s less than $0.50 a book!

It’s a great time of the year to be re-thinking some of your health goals and considering how you will negotiate the upcoming holiday season with a good health plan for your family.  There’s an absolute treasure trove of resources here to help you on your journey to greater health.

I’ve never come across such a fantastic group of incredible resources and subscriptions at this price!

~ It’s only available for one week – 7th October to 14th October. ~

Please help me spread the word about this and share with your friends, on Pinterest and Facebook, and anywhere you can think to!

Harvest 1 Cooking-and-Preparing-Paleo-Food

Harvest 2 Cooking-and-Preparing-Real-Food

Harvest 5 Personal-and-Home-Care

Harvest 3 Fertility-and-Motherhood

Harvest 8 Inspiration

Harvest 9 Informational

Harvest 4Fitness

Harvest 6 Detoxify

Harvest 7 Intentional-Simple-LivingHarvest Your Health Bundle Sale_600x400

The following is the list of all the e-books, meal plans, online magazine subscriptions and discount codes included in this once in a lifetime offer. Use the links for more detailed information on each specific category or book.

Cooking/Preparing Paleo Food

Cooking/Preparing Real Food

Meal Plans

Personal/Home Care (Skin, Hair, Teeth, Cleaning)

Fertility, Pregnancy, Babies, Children, Motherhood

Inspiration

Fitness

Intentional/Simple Living

Informational

Detoxify

Online Magazine Subscriptions

Discounts

NB. I will receive commission from your purchase that goes towards keeping my site up and running.  Thanks for being part of supporting our family!

{** $37 US is approximately $44 NZ}.

Harvest-Your-Health-Bundle-Sale_Buy-Now1

Slow Cooker Apples

slow cooker apples pin

Here’s an easy recipe for all those apples during harvest time – it’s so easy it’s almost embarrassing.  But I’ll tell you anyway since it’s a great idea. 🙂

I’d cut up some apples the other day but had some other things to do besides keeping an eye on a pot simmering. Three bags of organic juicing apples that weren’t too great for eating had to have a purpose before they weren’t useful for anything.

slow cooker apples 1

So the apples all went into my slow cooker for the afternoon, skin and all, and covered with water.  When they came out about 4 hours later I had the most beautifully stewed apples.  [By the way, leaving the skins on provides some dietary fibre].

I blended them up in batches, keep some in the fridge, and the rest has gone in the freezer.

We hung onto the leftover water and the kids had warm apple ‘tea’.  It was so sweet, no added sweetener needed.slow cooker apples 4

If you don’t have a high speed blender, you might be want to peel the apples first as they may not blend up completely.

It’s got me thinking what else I can use my slow cooker for… hmmm… watch this space. 🙂

** If you’re in the intro stages of the GAPS Diet, make sure you peel the apples.

{You might also be interested in Breakfast Stewed Apples}

slow cooker apples 2

Vegetable Tagine

Vegetable tagine

Here’s a yummy and economical idea for meal that you can adapt according to what you have in the pantry.

I didn’t follow a recipe when I made this, but really it’s so easy that you shouldn’t have any trouble whipping up your own version.  Just taste test when checking the dish, and add extra seasoning, more tomato puree or more stock if necessary.

Don’t be shy about adding a good few tablespoons of spices to this dish.  If you overdo it, you can always stir in some natural yoghurt when serving. 🙂

Ingredients

  • Diced root vegetables (about a quarter medium crown pumpkin, or combination of carrots, kumara, sweet potatoes, butternut pumpkin, parsnip)
  • Chick peas (soaked overnight, rinsed, and simmered until soft)
  • Finely diced onion
  • Crushed garlic
  • Homemade stock (I prefer chicken stock)
  • Tomato puree (I used tomato passata sauce)
  • Dried prunes
  • Spices (whatever combination you have of coriander, cumin, ras-el-hanout, turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger and sweet paprika)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Put your diced vegetables in a large roasting dish with a splash of olive oil and roast on medium heat.  Stir gently during cooking time (careful not to break them up too much) and remove when just soft.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, gently simmer the chick peas until soft.
  3. Gently pan fry onions with spices, and add garlic towards the end of cooking time.
  4. Add onion mix and chick peas to roasting dish, add chopped prunes and tomato puree and stock.
  5. Cooked covered for about an hour and a half in a moderate oven.  Check periodically and if the vegetables start to dry out, add more stock or water.

If you haven’t prepared stock and chick peas in advance, you could always use canned chick peas and a good quality organic liquid stock.

Finish with fresh coriander and flaked almonds.

NB. If you’re opting to add meat into this dish, I’d recommend rubbing the raw meat with the spice mix before adding to lightly cooked onions and garlic.  If using leftover beef, lamb or chicken, add in during the last 15m of cooking time.

If you’re not doing a totally vegetarian version, some homemade chicken stock would be a great choice as your stock base.

[This recipe is linked up at Frugal Family Favourites]

Coming off the GAPS Diet

Coming off the GAPS Diet

This is my long overdue post on coming off the GAPS Diet.  We haven’t actually been on the GAPS Diet for some months now.  Unfortunately we had an onslaught of illness that took out 4 out of 5 members of my family, and it was an enormous burden to manage, let alone having to continue making stocks and doing all the various food prep. The illness lasted months, and the children’s bodies are still continuing to heal even now, 6 months later.  Vitamin C was a life saver, quite literally.  But we survived it, and one day they will be glad that their immune systems got such a working-out!

How we came off GAPS

The recommendation in Dr Natasha’s book is 1 ½ to 2 years on the Diet, and following it strictly without compromise.  When coming off the Diet, she recommends introducing fermented millet, buckwheat and quinoa, and potatoes first.  Because of our circumstances, we didn’t manage to do it this way.

The way we came off GAPS was to re-introduce fermented sour dough bread, sweet potatoes, and then white potatoes and other starches such as chick peas.  The kids were started with having just one slice of bread per day.

I think perhaps because we weren’t on the GAPS Diet for more than 6 months, we didn’t notice any reaction to coming off the Diet, and in fact I found I had more energy with the introduction of extra carbs that I’d missed through not having grains.

What I Learned

I found that I’ve become much more sensitive to how my body responds to particular foods.  I discovered that too much meat makes me feel sluggish and tired, and I craved raw food over all the stews and meat dishes.

I noticed that too many nuts, such as the large amounts of nut flours in many GAPS recipes, adversely affected my digestion, as does coconut flour (too fibrous).  Small amounts of coconut flour fare better for me than gluten flour, but really I’m better off without too much of it.  Unsoaked nuts I also found much better, so I suspect that it is the phytic acid that is the issue.

I also noticed that taking HCl was a beneficial supplement, and were it not for all the other supplements that leap ahead of the budgetary queue, it would be one I’d continue to take.

One observation I’ve made in myself, and also amongst the various food communities that I’ve engaged with online, is that many that are attempting changes in their diet are still holding onto their old habits as they go into a new way of eating.  Changes in diet should not just be about re-arranging the furniture, as such.   For instance, if you eat too many sweet things when you are eating the less-than-healthy varieties, coming onto GAPS or any other diet, and indulging in too many sweet things, is not going to improve your health overall to the extent it would if you just follow common sense and get the balance of those healthy foods right.  Changes to our diet often involve a complete overhaul of the thinking behind our eating.

That said, I’ve discovered that my tendency was/is to grab whatever I can food-wise to supplement my low energy from lack of sleep and just plain ‘Mummy’ exhaustion.  Unfortunately that has meant that although I’m eating healthy food, the balance hasn’t been quite right.  Toast and butter is not the answer to my waning energy levels!  I really do just need to eat more fresh and raw vegetables, and find creative ways to enjoy these more with the limited organic varieties that our local store has, and with managing my time on a daily basis much better.  My children’s leftovers are not adequate to meet my nutritional needs, and I really do need to make the time to prepare fresh raw food for myself.

I felt I was never eating enough alkaline foods due to the increase in meat and dairy and cooked foods, and as a result the acidic load on my body increased.  This has affected my teeth, where now I have another problem to sort out.  The ‘Cure Tooth Decay’ protocol is currently something I’ve had to turn to.  My dentist told me I have acidic saliva, and a ph test confirmed this.  This has been a little frustrating to say the least, and although the problems with my teeth have occurred previously, too much acidic food appears to be part of the problem.

Would I do it again?

Admittedly, it wasn’t the cure-all I was hoping for.  I was extremely optimistic that it would iron out the issues that GAPS Diet had been known to deal with.  It didn’t for us.  Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that we weren’t on it for long enough.  It might also be that I didn’t have the balance of foods quite right.  Some sort of results early on would have been motivating but I didn’t see any noticeable changes in any of us. 🙂

What it did show me is where I do have some dietary changes to make that I hadn’t noticed, in terms of ‘healthy’ foods I’d just downed with no thought that I could be one of those people who shouldn’t have it (eg. coconut flour).  It also was a tremendous educational experience in terms of monitoring and managing mine and my children’s reactions to food.  I learned that my eldest child is better off without gluten, my middle child is better off with limited starchy foods, and my youngest is better off with limited cheese.  I should not eat gluten, but I more or less knew that already.  Now I know for certain.

So we won’t be doing GAPS again, but there are many things about it that I feel drawn to.  We continue to eat a traditional diet, along with fermented foods and homemade stocks, but for our particular family we have learned that we are much better off eating larger amounts of raw plant-based foods.

I found these two posts good to read about coming off the GAPS Diet:

This is also a helpful post on the GAPS Diet at Body Ecology Diet.

Here are my other posts on the GAPS Diet that you might be interested in.

{This post was shared at Healing with Food Friday, and Wellness Wednesday}

Homemade Jelly (Jello)

jelly

I’ve had to find some creative ways lately to get Vitamin C powder into my little ones.  More on that another time. 🙂

But here’s one sneaky way where I made some jelly, waited until it cooled, and then added the powder in before it set.

Of course, jelly is a fun treat even when there’s no medicinal intent. 🙂 I think we’ll be making these for parties this year.

Ingredients

1 metric Tablespoon of gelatine
100ml (1/2 cup) boiling water
400ml fruit juice

Method

Dissolve gelatine in boiling water.  Then simply add fruit juice, either freshly squeezed with pulp out, or the best quality fruit juice (preferably organic) you can get.  Set in fridge.

I did a double batch and served in Turkish tea glasses and also made some mini jellies in moulds.  You might like to serve with fresh fruit such as blueberries.