Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gluten & Dairy-Free Banana-Choc Chip Pancakes & Muffins

We are still working to figure out our kids' food allergies, which isn't easy. It has been a month of dairy-free and 2 weeks since they have been gluten-free (minus the donut they had at church last Sunday) and things are still not perfect. I was racking my brain and it hit me to check the vitamins I've been giving them (more likely the grace of God!). Sure enough, the multi-vitamin contains milk. The frustrating thing is that I was previously not that consistent about giving them vitamins, but since we gave up dairy, I've been on it! I even took the vitamins on vacation! So, my kids are now on new vitamins and are once again dairy free (I hope). I'm hoping and praying we meet normal in the next few days and I do feel like we are headed that direction!

My kids are not on the cleanse so we've been cooking separately for them. It has worked best for me to make them something for dinner that we can also eat and then we eat it the next day for lunch (since lunch is our solid meal). It has been very hard for me to make them food and refrain from taking a little bite here and there. Also, I have been altering recipes to provide dairy and gluten-free items and I haven't been able to taste test. How much or how fast they eat something is of course always the sure sign of how good it really is! I've come across 2 recipes worth sharing. I took the muffins to a birthday party last week and all the kids (even the ones not on a dairy or gluten-free diet) devoured them!

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/4 C Vanilla Almond Milk (originally sour cream)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 C applesauce
1/4 C Earth's Balance buttery spread
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 C mashed bananas
1 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour (originally 3/4 C white & 3/4 C whole wheat flour)
2/3 C flaxseed meal (originally 1/4 C flax meal or wheat germ)
1/2 tsp salt
1 C chocolate chips (you can find dairy-free, vegan at Whole Foods)

Stir the almond milk and baking soda together and set aside. Cream the applesauce, butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add the egg & beat well. Beat in the milk-baking soda mixture and the bananas. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Makes 36 mini-muffins.

*If you want the dairy & gluten version, note my parenthesis above. Also, add 1 tsp vanilla and originally it was 1/2 C butter instead of the applesauce and "buttery spread".

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

3 1/4 C vanilla flavored almond milk (if unsweet, add 2 Tbsp sugar to the dry mix)
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour
3/4 C almond meal
1/4 C flaxseed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 C applesauce
1/4 C coconut oil
1 mashed banana
Chocolate Chips (you can buy dairy free, vegan at Whole Foods)

Heat up your griddle so its nice & hot. Mix the vinegar and milk together and let sit for about 20 minutes (I let mine sit while I mix up everything else). Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients separately and then add. Add the banana. I throw a few chocolate chips into each pancake after I pour the batter on the griddle. You can freeze the left-overs by putting wax paper between them and then putting them in a Ziploc.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week 2: The Meal Plan

You know I'm a planner. My planned menu for week 1 didn't really go that well. I tried, but I wasn't completely sure what I was going to like and how it was all going to work together. You can buy shakes and supplements for the program and that might make things easier to manage for some people, but I like to make my own. I do work from home and this has made things a little easier for me, but my hubby is doing it too and he doesn't work from home so again, we must plan ahead. We came up with this menu over the weekend and so far it has served us well. Since I'm cooking separately for my kids (and since they are gluten & dairy-free, we are not going through a drive-thru anytime soon), it has worked smoothly when I make something for them for dinner that we can also eat.  Therefore I'm making most of these lunch items the night before: kids eat 'em for dinner and we eat 'em the next day for lunch (remember: liquid dinner for us). Here's the plan:

Lunch: I ate left-over Asian-style Fish & the hubby at the left-over Lamb Stew
Dinner: Creamy Blueberry Shake

Lunch: Chicken Curry over brown rice (and grapes)
Dinner: Green Coco Shake

Lunch: Cuban Chicken with black bean & avocado quinoa
Dinner: Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint

Lunch: Lamb burger with herbs and qunioa
Dinner: Spinach Avocado Soup

Lunch: left-over Chicken Curry
Dinner: Spinach & Dulse Soup

Lunch: some sort of fish dish
Dinner: Pineapple Avocado Gazpacho

The lunch recipes are mostly my own that we already had, with the exception of the Asian-style Fish, which was in the Clean book. The dinner recipes have all come from the Clean book. The Clean Program website (where you can also find shakes & supplements) has a wealth of information, recipes and an online community for support. Here's the link directly to a PDF with some of their recipes. For breakfast, I have determined that Becky's Morning Shake (pg. 3 in the PDF. I add 2 tsp. flaxseed meal & a scoop of Raw Protein) works best for me. Since I work out in the morning, the protein content serves me well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cleanse: Week 1 Complete. Are you hungry?

The most common question I have gotten since I started this cleanse is, "are you hungry?"I once heard that lions have a natural desire to hunt and attack their pray and that if you take that away, the lion loses its spirit and essentially becomes depressed. Zoos and other unnatural habitats have to be careful to not make the feeding too easy. I'm wondering if we are somewhat this way with our food. Dinner might be a different matter, but for breakfast I look at everything that's in the blender and think, "that's more than I normally eat". Yet I don't really feel full after drinking it. Is this something to do with our natural desire to chew? Or by forcing the little workers within our stomach to work so hard for so many years, are they having a tough time adjusting to this idea that we've just made it easier for them to digest? I have no idea, but I do feel like my body is getting a little more content with the idea of a liquid breakfast. Dinner is still a different matter!

Also, Dr. Junger accurately points out in his book "Clean" that most of us don't really know hunger. I've been feeling very sluggish after lunch. Typically when I feel like I've been zapped of energy, I eat something to refuel. Is that really hunger? And, I'm still allowed snacks during the cleanse. They just can't be chips or candy bars. My go-to snack has actually long been cashews though I did sometimes have a mini candy bar or something small and sweet in the afternoons, along with my sweet tea which is probably what I am missing most right now. Often when I feel like I'm starting to get hungry, I drink a big glass of water. Lots of water is a must during the cleanse and I'm sure this goes a long way in making the body feel full. Bottom line, I certainly don't feel full. I don't really feel "hungry" either. Mostly I feel sluggish and its mostly after lunch, which makes me want to eat for refuel. This also reminds me of Michael Pollan's book "Food Rules". One of the rules that has stuck with me is: eat until you no longer have hunger vs. eat until you are full.

Friday, June 21, 2013

4 Days done and still exercising

I'm still into week 1 of the cleanse, which is supposed to be the hardest week. Truth is, by the end of the day I'm more tired than normal, but outside of day 1, it hasn't been horrible. I do get really tired after lunch, but seem to somewhat rebound before dinner, after which I hit the exhausted stage again. I do think it helped that I gave up all dairy about a month ago and gluten a week before I started. The hubby feels worse than I do, but he's also seeing results. His stomach is almost flat again and he's already lost 5 pounds. I've lost 1. I have long observed that guys tend to lose weight easier than girls so perhaps this is fitting.

This cleanse is not as extreme as some others that are out there and I have continued to work out every morning. About a year ago I determined that my body feels best when I do a short run combined with weight-bearing exercises so I typically run 2 miles and then lift weights for 20-30 minutes. I mix it up some with yoga and core exercises. I have P90X and typically modify or shorten the sessions from that program in my mix. Here's what I've done this week since starting the cleanse:

Monday: Ran 2 miles then did chest, shoulders & tris, & some abs (this was the day I started & my body had no idea what was coming!)
Tuesday: I was tired. I did 45 min of yoga, which felt amazing! As mentioned, this was the day we went to the botanical garden so I walked a bunch during the day as well.
Wednesday: Again, tired. I ran 2 miles then came home and did stretches for 10-15 minutes.
Thursday: I did Core Synergistics for 45 minutes.

Today I plan to mow the lawn and although I'm regaining my energy, I decided that that combined with vacuuming is enough. Tomorrow I plan to run 2 miles then do legs and back. I mainly want to communicate that it's still possible to work-out if this is something that's important to you and you are considering a cleanse. I think it helps to sweat and I am no fan of the sauna!

Yesterday I ate:
Breakfast: Becky's Morning Shake (I'm liking this one best so far).
Lunch: Pecan chicken, quinoa, and watermelon.
Snack: Organic carrots from the CSA that were incredible! And a handful of cashews.
Dinner: A mushroom-zuchini soup that was pureed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cleanse: Day 2 includes Lamb Stew

Day 2 was better than day 1 for me. I did not get the raging headache, but I was zonked. My cousin was in town so we went to see her and I took the boys to the botanical garden after. Botanical garden = BIG with lots of walking. They outlasted me for certain, but I managed to make it through. Here's what I ate:

Breakfast: berry smoothie with blueberries, avocado, cinnamon & coconut milk
Lunch: lamb stew (this is one of my favorite meals & I'm fortunate it fits in the perimeters! Recipe below.)
Snack: apple
Dinner: broccoli soup & a little of the blueberry, spinach, apple shake the hubby had.

Allowed and Not-Allowed List of Foods for the Cleanse

Not-Allowed (Some of them surprised me.)
Dairy & eggs (including all butter & mayo), wheat, corn, oats, white rice, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, pork, beef, sausage (should've read that one a little closer), shellfish, any raw meats including fish, soybean products, peanuts, processed oils, canola oil, alcohol, caffeine, all sweetening agents except stevia.

Hemp, rice and nut milks, coconut milk & oil, non-gluten grains (brown, red, black & wild rice, millet, amaranth, teff, tapioca, buckwheat, quinoa), fruits & veggies minus those mentioned above, seaweeds, fresh or water-packed cold water fish, wild game, lamb, duck, free-range chicken, turkey, split peas, lentils, legumes, bee pollen, spirulina, blue-green algae, pretty much all nuts except peanuts, filtered water (and lots of it!), decaffeinated herbal teas.

Lamb Stew

2 lb bonless lamb shoulder or leg cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour (can use gluten-free)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
2 leeks
5 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Cups yellow raisins
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

Toss the lamb in the flour, coating it lightly after removing the excess fat. In a large, heavy pot warm the oil over medium-high. When hot, add the lamb cubes in batches until lightly browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes. Set aside.

Add the garlic to the same pan (I put it through a press, but you can also chop it) over low heat and stir in the cinnamon, cumin, coriander & cayenne. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and scrape up any browned bits. Return the meat to the pan and simmer, stirring, until the liquid thickens, about 2 minutes. Cover & simmer over low stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice the carrots and leeks. For the leeks: cut lengthwise and wash any dirt out of the layers. Cut into slices, using a bit of the green tops to about 2 inches from the root end.

After an hour, add the carrots, raisins, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer until the meat is tender, about 40-50 more minutes. Add the juice from the lemon before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cleanse: Day 1 Down

I should start with the basics, like what this cleanse entails. It is meant to be a somewhat gradual cleanse. I understand week 1 is going to be very hard. Week 2 will be better and I'm going to feel so awesome by week 3 that I'll never want to go back to my old ways! We'll see. Honestly, I'm sure I will make some permanent changes. I'm just not completely sure what they will be (after day 1!). I've already given up dairy and plan to stick to that one.

The Plan
A liquid breakfast (shake, smoothie or homemade juice)
Snack (anything on the approved list)
Regular lunch, so long as it falls within the perimeters
Another snack if needed
Liquid dinner (soup or shake)

It's also very important to give your body at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. The liquid meals make it easier to digest food so your body can spend more time repairing and getting rid of the toxins.

Day 1 I had the following:
Breakfast: "Becky's Morning Shake"(you can find this on the Clean Program website, but it consists of almond butter, coconut milk, flaxseed meal, avocado, protein powder and I added a scoop of stevia)
Snack: cashews
Lunch: The hubby made a bean soup that also had chicken and buffalo sausage (I'm not sure sausage of any kind is ok, but I ate it anyway) and watermelon
Snack: (Here is where I started to lose it. Headache kicked in & I didn't feel so great) handful of cashews and leftover roasted beets and parsnips (I'm not sure beets and parsnips are normally a snack, but they were staring at me from the fridge and they are good for you.)
Dinner: "Green Smoothie" which was made up of kale, coconut water, mango, avocado and coconut milk

I expected the first few days to go relatively smoothly for me. I gave up dairy almost a month ago and I've been off gluten for a week. I'm prepared, or so I think. However, I wasn't prepared for the caffeine withdrawal. I was so tired after lunch and then the headache set in. After dinner I was also feeling extremely bloated. Turns out bean soup on day 1 was not a good idea. I referenced the book and ended up slicing up a garlic clove and eating it between 2 slices of apple. I wasn't supposed to eat anything solid after dinner, but I did eat it early enough that my body will still have 13+ hours before I eat again. Beyond that: did you read that I just ate a garlic clove? I think this is supposed to have all kinds of health benefits, but it was not pleasant. I've never done this before. I had a Skype appointment with the hubby following this action and he clearly was trying to move as far away from me as he could. In the end, I do think it worked. Also the unpleasantness erupting in my mouth from the garlic clove made me entirely forget about the headache! Bring on day 2 (note that I still have garlic breath)!!! Next I will post some of the things that make or do not make the list of things to eat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Never too late for a Spring Clean!

I've been reading "Clean" by Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D. and it has motivated me to do a 21-day cleanse. It seems like cleanses have become extremely popular over the past few years and until I read this book I thought it was essentially an extreme diet. It's not. At least this one isn't. You will likely lose weight, but the purpose of the cleanse is to get your body operating the way it was intended. Our bodies are amazing! The Almighty created them in a way in which they would heal themselves in many situations. It all works together. However, due to the processed food that we eat and the toxins in our environment, our bodies have gotten out of whack and they've stopped working properly or they are focused on the short-term fix (getting the latest toxin out) and aren't able to do some of their other important functions. Specialists are trained to treat a particular area or function of our body, but they often fail to look at the whole and consider how it all works together. Dr. Junger wrote this book for the average person (like me) who has a few issues, but nothing major, with the intent of getting our bodies back to operating as they were intended. I am starting this cleanse today and will document my journey along the way.

He mentions that it is important to document the reasons you are doing the cleanse in advance. This will serve as a reminder and perhaps as motivation in the moments that you feel like quitting. Below are my reasons.

Why I am doing the cleanse
It would probably be too easy to sum this up in 2 words, but that's mostly why I'm doing it. Here they are: MUFFIN TOP. I can't say for certain when this thing first reared its ugly head. Maybe after child #2, but it seems to be here to stay. I work-out 5-6 days a week. I've changed up these work outs over the past number of years. Each time it seems to make a bit of a difference, but never does the muffin top go away. I cut out soda years ago. I engaged in a 21-day ab strengthening challenge with my girlfriends and have kept up with ab exercises since. A couple weeks before giving up dairy, I gave up sweets (though I did not give up my sweet tea). I don't eat after 8 PM. I don't eat a lot of processed foods. I don't eat out much. Through all this, the muffin top remains. It is my most loyal companion.

If the cleanse also did something about any or all of the following, I would be a happy camper:

I intend to be around for my kids for a long time
I could stand to lose about 10 pounds
My skin is doing weird things: specifically blemishes I don't particularly like
The older I get, the uglier my legs get with veins & I actually have knee fat!
I have varicose veins that appeared in an unmentionable area when I was prego with #2

So begins my cleanse. My next post will include what all this entails. I am fortunate in that my hubby is doing it with me. He is really the cook in the family and his support, along with his creative culinary skills will be of great value!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Update on the Dairy-Free Experiment

I am reminded of when my child was an infant and we first discovered he had food allergies (or hyper-sensitivities). We cut out all milk (aka dairy). He was clearly better, but he was still screaming more than what's normal. The next thing on the list per the GI Specialist was soy so we cut that out. About this time I started keeping a food diary, documenting what I ate and when he had a bad moment. I was able to make a clear correlation with wheat. Once we got all three things out of his diet, he became the happy little bouncing baby that everyone dreams of having. I was never truly sure he had an allergy to soy.

After 3 weeks of giving up all dairy products during our recent experiment, there was no denying that he was much better, but he was still coughing and snuffing more than he should. I mentioned to my husband that maybe we should cut out gluten again and see if that helps. "I was just thinking the same thing," he said. Oh boy! Here we go again! We've been doing this for one week now. On day 5 we both commented once again that it appears to be helping. This is good and bad. I'm happy that we've figured out the potential problem and we can help him get better. But, I will admit I'm a bit bummed that this is going to require big lifestyle changes on our part. You can't just pop in a pizza or swing through the drive-thru in those busy moments. It requires planning and thinking. We will adjust. And we will all be healthier for it.

I have given up these things with him. And so long as I'm putting things out there, why hold back? I do not really drink milk, but I do like cheese and I love having a parfait for breakfast. So most every morning I was eating blueberries or strawberries with plain yogurt and granola. Yum! I figure I'm getting my probiotics this way too. For about the last 6 months or so (its hard to remember when things start), I've been really gassy. It's embarrassing. I even considered taking something for it. After about a week of giving up all dairy, the gas is gone. Also, about a year ago I started breaking-out every month, right before I "started". I've never done this, not even as a teenager. I bought new facial cleaning products. Nothing helps. I finally decided its hormonal, perhaps I'm pre-menoposal and this is just going to be part of it. Until...I did not break-out this month! I've never thought I'd be anxious for my time of the month, but now I'm curious to see if this was a total fluke or if it has to do with the milk in my diet.

To summarize our update: we are officially a milk-free family and have the potential to be gluten-free as well. I will continue to post about our journey and provide recipes and other helpful items we learn along the way. Already I've been reading a few new books which are about to lead us down new paths that I will share. Let the journey continue!