Friday, May 30, 2014

Seafood and watermelon salad

Bailey, the cat, does a live photo frame session for Nika, the malamute.
Having an impaired gut changes everything with the most obvious being how one eats. What to eat to heal one's gut should be easy to figure out. Right? The problem is we humans are all about 99.9 percent similar. It's that one-tenth of one percent difference that makes prescribing a one-size-fits-all diet next to impossible.
I guess that explains why I have been on an extended journey trying to find the eating plan that works for me and my health issues. 

I believe the human body is waiting to be healed provided you give it the right tools. But finding the foods and/or supplements that will help can be challenging. When you do find something, don't be surprised if you have to tweak it a little bit as time goes on.

Seafood and watermelon salad
It was only two summers ago that I was trying a vegan diet. Next, there was the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Neither of these diets was a good fit for me and my symptoms roared back. After that, I was on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This diet gave me hope for awhile. None of these diets worked for me because there was too much reliance on carbohydrates which it turns out are my problem.

Now, I have turned to the Fast Tract diet which limits carbohydrates that are prone to not being digested by individuals with impaired guts. It's a science-based diet that categorizes carbohydrates by how likely they are to be malabsorbed which results in foods staying in the gut too long and promoting the growth of bad bacteria.

The diet runs counter to what I have believed in the past. That is I need to eat low glycemic foods but those foods are the most likely to be malabsorbed because they are difficult to digest. Many of my favorite foods are low glycemic. Is it possible to eat them without experiencing problems?

Yes, it is. The trick is to eat small amounts and use a scale to weigh your portions and keep you honest. For instance, I always would like an occasional piece of chocolate but this treat is prone to cause fermentation problems. To deal with this, I just eat a one-by-one inch square of my own homemade chocolate. I mix 2 T. of coconut oil with 1 T. of almond butter or sunbutter and 1 T. cocoa powder and stevia, to taste. Once this mixture is set, it provides enough for about 8-10 little tastes. I would like more but the consequences aren't worth it. I wouldn't recommend making this very often unless you have lots of willpower.

I eat tons of salads. In the past, I piled on too many veggies, which normally people would say is healthy. But in my case, my sensitivity to carbohydrates even applies to something healthy, like veggies. Many are difficult to digest which means I must weigh my carbohydrates to avoid getting too much.

Yes, I feel like I'm on the Weight Watchers' diet but it works (isn't that what they say in the ads). Since weighing and controlling my carbs (of all kinds), I have lost all those stubborn pounds I couldn't get rid of with other diets that didn't restrict amount and types of carbs. My weight also doesn't vary at all each day. My digestion works so much better. I'm not saying there isn't still room for improvement but I am giving things more time.

Here's the directions for one of my favorite salads, Seafood and Watermelon Salad. Follow the recommended food amounts to make it easy on your digestion.

Here's what you need:

For the miso dressing:

2 T. miso paste
juice of 1 lemon
2 T. water
1 T. olive oil
1 drop liquid stevia

For the avocado dressing:

1/4 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste
water to thin to desired consistency

For the salad:

4-6 medium shrimp
2-4 medium scallops
1 stalk bok choy (weight should be 80 grams)
1 stalk celery (40 grams)
2 cups spring mix (80 grams)
1 radish, 1/4 cucumber,  1/8 Roma tomato diced (combined 80 grams)
watermelon chunks (60 grams or about 1/2 cup)

"I think I need a bigger helmet."

 Here's what you do:

Mix up the miso dressing by putting everything in your blender. You don't need to clean your blender to mix up the avocado dressing. Add water to reach your desired consistency. I wanted my thin like a regular dressing but you might prefer a guacamole-type consistency. I chose to make mine thin in order to limit my intake of avocado which is difficult to digest for me. Put both dressings in the fridge to chill.

Steam your seafood. Plunge into cold water if you want to serve it cold. To serve warm, saute the shrimp and scallops with your bok choy. Dice the radish, cucumber and tomato. Chop the watermelon chunks.

 To plate up, drizzle on a base of 1-2 T. miso dressing. Top with a sprinkling of salad greens. Layer on the seafood, bok choy and other diced veggies. Drizzle on 1-2 T. of the avocado dressing. Place the watermelon pieces around the base of the salad as well as the remaining salad greens. Drizzle on more of either dressing, if desired. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, to taste.

Recipe contributed to:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cauliflower pizettes

Cauliflower pizettes
Cauliflower has always been one of my favorite veggies. On my new diet to rebalance the good and bad bacteria in my gut, I have to beware of veggies that are hard to digest (high fermentation potention=FP). Cauliflower has an FP of 3 which is fairly low. Problem is it doesn't take much cauliflower to tip the FP scales. You get only about 1/2 cup of cauliflower for one serving.

I made these cauliflower pizettes as a snack or side dish to fill my craving for cauliflower and pizza. They only take these ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, sliced into steaks
1 Roma tomato, sliced thin
Farmers' cheese (lactose free)
salt and pepper
olive oil
dry or fresh herbs such as oregano or basil

Here's what you do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the cauliflower into steaks. You probably will get three from a medium head of cauliflower. On the FP diet, you can eat one and save the others for another meal or share with someone else.

Place the cauliflower pieces on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and herbs. Top with a few thinly sliced tomatoes and dollops of farmers' cheese or other cheese of your choice.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and golden.

Recipe contributed to:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Watermelon gummy treats

Time to get off the couch and head outdoors.
The great outdoors is beckoning me to start getting ready for hiking and backpacking season. I am an avid exerciser so that part is no problem. The hard part is planning what to eat for hiking, backpacking or even long bike rides.

Since last backpacking season, I have had to radically alter my diet, yet again. My leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth and resulting autoimmune problems have been a tough cookie to crack. I have tried many diets, such as paleo, SCD, AIP, FODMAPs, anti-candida and more. But none of these diets has been the key to solving my health problems but they did lead me to discovering that most carbohydrates are difficult for me to digest.

I have added digestive enzymes, HCL-pepsin capsules, Vitamin B and other supplements recommended by my health practitioner but the problems persist. Lifestyle changes, including daily meditation, have helped but not resolved my issues.

The past three months, I have been on the Fast Tract diet which seeks to limit carbohydrates that tend to be difficult to digest and ferment in the gut, resulting in bacterial overgrowth. The diet plan assigns an FP (fermentation potential) to all things carbohydrate. The ones with higher FP are avoided or eaten sparingly. One's total FP for the day should be 20-30. As an example, a serving of almonds (30 grams) has a FP of 5. Coconut water (8.8  ounces) has an FP of 9.

You get the problem. It wouldn't take long adding up the FP of traditional trail foods to reach 20-30. Most of the foods I've packed along in the past (low glycemic, high FP) have provoked my IBS symptoms. It usually takes days after a trip for my stomach to recover.

Watermelon gummies
Watermelon is an easily digestible food (FP of 2) that packs a lot of energy. In fact, many fitness enthusiasts rely on watermelon juice for energy. Of course, a watermelon, even the personal size, weighs a ton when it comes to hiking.

I have been experimenting with making watermelon gummies which I've found to be a refreshing snack that gives me quick energy. I took some on a recent charity bike ride (32 miles) and they gave me the energy I needed. My only concern is whether they will hold up in the hotter temp days of July and August. I have a small insulated bag I can put in my backpack so that will help.

Here's what you need for 12 gummies:

1 cup watermelon chunks
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lime
stevia or other sweetener, to taste
4 T. grassfed gelatin
1 tsp. vanilla extract (no alcohol)

Here's what you do:

Puree the watermelon chunks with water and lime juice. Place the mixture in a saucepan. Sprinkle on the gelatin. Allow to soften for 2 minutes. Whisk in the gelatin as you heat the mixture until warm. Stir in the sweetener and vanilla. Pour the mixture into molds of your choice.

Recipe submitted to:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lemon meringue mini pies with stevia

Lemon meringue mini pies, made with stevia
Every mom deserves something yummy, delicious and slightly decadent for Mother's Day. Moms with highly restricted diets, especially, need something special.

I've always loved lemon meringue pie but wondered how that treat could fit into my restricted diet. I saw mini-lemon meringue pies, featured as part of a wedding meal and knew I had to try making my own version that would fit my diet needs. If you are on a restricted diet like me, but still can eat eggs, try these lemon meringue mini pies.

Many individuals, like myself, with autoimmune diseases/leaky gut are sensitive to the whites more than yolks. I made a few mini pies with the traditional meringue topping and left it off the others. I used a fruit topping on the ones without the meringue topping. Another idea would be to use whipped topping made from full-fat coconut milk. Find out how to make it here:

Lemon Meringue Mini Pies
(Makes 12)

Here's what you need:

For crust:

1/2 cup almond flour or other nut or seed flour
1 tsp. stevia or other sweetener
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

For Filling:

4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T. grassfed gelatin
1 T. lemon zest
1 cup plain yogurt (lactose-free for SIBO or anti-candida diet) or sub full-fat coconut milk for paleo diet
2 tsp. powdered stevia or other sweetener (honey for paleo or SCD diet)
1 T. melted coconut oil
dash of sea salt
1/2 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla

For meringue topping:

4 egg whites (at room temperature)
pinch of cream of tartar
3-5 tsp. stevia powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice

Here's what you do:
Line 12-cell muffin/cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For crust:
Mix ingredients and press into bottoms of cupcake liners. (Note: I wanted just a hint of crust because seeds/nuts have high fermentation potential. If you want a thicker crust, possibly going up sides, double crust recipe.
Bake mini-pie crusts for 5-7 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and set aside. 
Adjust oven temperature to 425 degrees.
For filling:
Place lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle on gelatin. Allow to set for 1-2 minutes. Heat mixture and whisk to dissolve.
Whisk egg yolks with stevia or other sweetener in a bowl. Add egg mixture gradually into hot lemon juice mixture. Continue whisking and heat one more minute. 
Remove from heat and add in coconut oil, vanilla, yogurt and salt.
Pour mixture into cupcake pans.
For the meringue:

Beat the egg whites at room temperature in a stand mixer until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the stevia, vanilla and lemon juice and beat one more minute.

Spread meringue on top of each mini-pie.

Bake completed mini meringues at 425 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until meringue is set.

Kids with paws wish you "Happy Mother's Day!"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sugar-free meringues and why egg whites aren't for everyone

Misha cuddles with Foxy. (Note: This was not a staged photo. Misha carried the stuffed toy and got in this position all by himself.)

The “incredible, edible” egg has been shrouded in misinformation for years. First, they were good for you, then bad for you, then good for you, and so on. Now, it looks like egg white breakfast sandwiches are everywhere in the fast-food industry.

Those of us with autoimmune disease approach eggs cautiously. Individuals with autoimmune disease and leaky gut often develop sensitivity to eggs, but most often to egg whites. I have avoided eggs for years because a food allergy test revealed I was sensitive to the whites. For some reason, I decided this made eggs completely off limits.

Turns out I was missing out on a nutritional super food by avoiding eggs. They contain:
  • Choline: An essential vitamin needed for cell building, choline is more concentrated in egg yolks than any other food. Nerve signals, including heartbeat, require choline but deficiency is common.
  • Vitamins galore Eggs (especially the yolks) are rich in vitamins A, D, E and all of the B vitamins, as well as the following minerals: zinc, phosphorous, iron, calcium, iodine, potassium and selenium. Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, egg yolks protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Some individuals are allergic to eggs. Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, second only to milk allergy. Symptoms of an egg allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. Strict avoidance of egg and egg products is essential.

Sugar-free meringue with strawberry yogurt topping
Most people, like myself, do not have egg allergy but are sensitive or intolerant. We experience delayed symptoms, up to 36 hours later, such as stomachache or digestive issues. People who are intolerant are usually reacting to the whites.

We can still enjoy the benefits of eggs by eating only the yolks. If possible, choose organic eggs from  cage-free chickens. I don't do this but you can rinse the egg yolk to get 100 percent of the egg white off before eating.

I have been adding egg yolks to stir fries, soups and breakfast scrambles. In baked recipes, I have found I need to add some liquid with a teaspoon or so of gelatin to make up for the lack of egg white., or use an additional yolk.

 Autoimmune sufferers should test their sensitivity to eggs by first trying yolks only. But eventually, you might want to try the whites. After saving up egg whites in the freezer, I decided to test my sensitivity by making Sugar-free meringues.

Here's what you need:

4 egg whites (at room temperature)
pinch of cream of tartar
3-5 tsp. stevia powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice

Unfilled meringues

Here's what you do:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites at room temperature in a stand mixer until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the stevia, vanilla and lemon juice and beat one more minute.

Scoop mixture by heaping tablespoons full onto baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. You should get six large merigues. Make an indentation in the tops for filling later with pudding, yogurt or fruit puree. Bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Eat meringues like cookies, or fill or top with pudding, yogurt or fruit puree. I mixed one cup of plain yogurt with 1/2 cup of frozen berries to make a frozen yogurt topping.

Recipe contributed to: