Monday, July 25, 2011

Grain Free Fruit Pizza

 I made this recipe for a recent family get together in honor of my sister's birthday.  Afterwards, my sister asked me for the recipe in the usual manner, "when are you going to put it on your blog?"  She is my constant inspiration in so many ways, and has been especially supportive of my efforts to document my recipes and experiences here.  When they were handing out sisters,  I won the lottery.  Here it is, Jules:


1 1/3 cup raw cashews
1 1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup honey (I use raw)
1/4 cup mild tasting oil plus extra for the pan
1 egg or 1 tbsp chia seed soaked in 3 tbsp water for 15 minutes
1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

Fruit of your choice.  Any kind of berry works well.  Fruits that naturally brown should be dipped in lemon juice.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12 inch diameter round pizza pan (I used nonstick).  In a food processor using the sharp blade, grind 1 1/3 cup cashews until a fine meal is formed.  Add the almond flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.  In a separate small bowl, mix the oil, honey, egg (or soaked chia) and vanilla.  Pour the wet mixture into the processor and mix.  Pour the dough onto center of pizza pan.  It will be wetter than normal cookie dough.  I find it is easiest to smooth out with wet fingers starting from the center working towards the edges. Smooth out dough until the entire pan is covered.  Bake for 7 to 8 minutes.  The crust should be lightly browned on top.  Remove from oven and let sit for 30 to 45 minutes until completely cooled.  Meanwhile add 1 cup cashews to food processor and grind into a fine meal.  Add honey, water and vanilla and mix well.  When the crust has cooled, gently spread frosting on the top.  Add sliced fruit.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Source:

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bison, Cabbage and Tomato One Skillet Meal

 Bison is one of my favorite comfort foods.  It's touted as a nutrient dense alternative to beef, with lower fat and cholesterol levels.  Most bison are raised on open grassland, which is much healthier for them (and you), than cattle raised in feedlots.   If you can't find it at your local natural food store, check for a local farmer through

Recipe adapted from The Nutrient Dense Eating Plan.


1 lb ground bison
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
5 to 6 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp oregano
Ground black pepper to taste


Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat and add minced garlic.  Let sizzle for 30 seconds, until aromatic.  Add ground buffalo and cook until almost all of the meat is brown.  Add salt and oregano and mix well.  Add tomatoes and cook for a minute or so, until some of the juices are released.  Mix in cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes, until wilted.  Add pepper, if desired, and adjust seasonings.  Serve grain free, or over brown rice, quinoa, or millet.  Serves 3.  Source: 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grain Free Banana Strawberry Muffins

Lately I've been experimenting with grain free cooking.  Cutting almond flour with ground cashews produces unexpectedly good results for baked goods, and is much more nutrient dense than the starchy gluten free flours typically used in gluten free baking.

This recipe was inspired by Elana Amsterdam's recipe for Banana Blueberry Muffins in The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  These muffins are loaded with protein and only sweetened with fruit.  I like to keep any extras sealed in a ziplock in the freezer.


1 1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups mashed bananas
2 large eggs
2 tbsp oil (I prefer using coconut oil in my baking, but lately have been using sunflower to lower phenols)
12 small strawberries or pieces of strawberry


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Process cashews in food processor with sharp blade until ground into meal.  Add almond flour, soda and salt and process well.  Add mashed bananas, eggs and oil and process until fully mixed.  Pour into greased or lined muffin pan.  Place one strawberry (or piece of) in the middle of each muffin and press slightly until it's submerged in the middle.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins.  Source:

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Monday Mania.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Traveling with Food Sensitivities and New Recipe for Grilled Salmon with Dairy Free Pesto

I just got home from a week at Belknap Hot Springs Resort, tucked away in the Oregon Cascades on the upper McKenzie River.  This is the third trip my family has taken in our new Freedom Machine - a 19 foot, 2400 lb kitchen, bedroom and living area - all conveniently towed by our SUV.  The trailer has given us a new found sense of freedom, guaranteeing we will always have fresh gluten and dairy free food, with stove and kitchen nearby.

To get ready for our trip, I spent hours baking like a mad woman, and ended up with bags of frozen biscuits and muffins to round out breakfast and snacks.  Here's the complete run down of what I packed:

bacon, eggs, grain free biscuits, banana strawberry muffins (recipe coming soon), buckwheat cereal, strawberry syrup

A fully stocked fridge for a 4 night stay
Leftovers from dinner served as lunch for the following day.  I brought some lunch meat just in case we didn't have enough food.

Night 1:  Burrito bowls with precooked black beans, homemade guacamole, salsa, lettuce and grilled steak with spice rub.

Night 2:  Hamburgers with slaw and sauerkraut.

Night 3:  Grilled chicken and salad.

Night 4:  Grilled salmon with pesto sauce and corn on the cob.

Carrots and celery with almond butter
Almonds, cashews, walnuts and dried cranberry mix
Peanut and raisin mix
Homemade raw goat milk yogurt
Smoothies with frozen fruit

The Secret Garden at Belknap Springs Resort
Since most of my meal preparation was done before I left, we had plenty of time to get lost on the meandering trails of the resort.  Interrupted by ponds and gardens, this is a place I didn't mind getting lost in.  We stumbled upon a beautiful place, the "secret garden", hidden from view by a wall, and accessible by a small trail.  I could've lingered here for a day or two, but my group had plans for other sightseeing, including rafting with Charlie of High Country Expeditions .  The company and scenery were amazing, but the frigid 42 degree water was a little much for some of my companions on an overcast Oregon day that may not have broken the 70 degree mark.  Thank goodness for hot springs!
McKenzie River on Sahalie Falls Trail

The most breathtaking part of the trip was our hike to Sahalie Falls.  An easy 2 mile jaunt with little elevation gain, the trail offered incredible views of blue rushing water coming down multiple falls.

The last night of our trip, I broke out the homemade pesto and grilled up some salmon.  While all food tastes better in the great outdoors, this dish tastes fantastic anywhere.
Grilled Salmon with Pesto


1 large wild salmon fillet, skin on (mine was 1.5 lbs. sockeye)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/3 cup plus 1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt


Place the macadamia nuts in a food processor with sharp blade and process until fine.  Add garlic cloves and process until chopped.  Add basil, 1/3 cup olive oil and salt and process until mixed well.  Add 1 to 2 tbsp additional olive oil until pesto is creamy.

Preheat grill.  Wash salmon fillet and pat dry.  Spread pesto evenly over flesh side of salmon.  Place fillet skin side down on grill over high heat and cover.  Grill until salmon flakes with a fork.  Cooking time will vary with thickness of the fillet.  Mine took about 10 minutes.  Serves 4.  Source:

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Food Sensitivity Testing Available Through Enterolab

I first learned of Enterolab's gluten sensitivity test through my son's doctor, who described it as more sensitive than traditional blood testing.   The lab's director, Dr. Kenneth Fine, recently notified friends and clients of an expansion in laboratory tests, including expanded food antigen testing based on stool samples.  Here is the relevant text from his announcement:

At the time I began prescribing gluten-free diets for non-celiac colitis patients with gluten sensitivity in 1998, I went gluten-free myself, to help myself empathize with my prescribed dietary treatment for others. Since then, my own personal diet-induced health recovery (from lumbosacral arthritis), combined with my 20 years of medical research and experience as a lab director, has led me to the understanding that there are many foods additional to gluten that cause immunologic sensitivity-induced illness. Research since the 1960’s has shown the same to be true, which is why since 2000, has offered tests for immunologic sensitivities to milk, eggs , and yeast, adding soy a few years later. Over the past 10 years, we have been researching how to best expand this line of stool testing to more antigenic foods, in a way that yielded results that would be clinically meaningful, while being affordable for you (because dealing with stool is a time consuming, laborious process). Although many labs offer similar tests of blood and saliva for food sensitivity, research for 20 years (including but not exclusively our own) has shown testing of intra-intestinal contents to be far more sensitive and accurate compared with blood or saliva (O'Mahony S,et al.  Dissociation between systemic and mucosal humoral immune responses in coeliac disease. Gut. 1991;32(1):29-35.) .

Thus, a goal of establishing a broader repertoire of food antigen testing in stool seemed worthy indeed. Over the past 3-4 years we at EnteroLab have invested in new analytical machines, technology, employees, and research to help make this a reality. The launch of this expanded food antigen panel and other new tests for parasites and pancreatic function ( with pancreatic elastase) come at a perfect time during our anniversary celebration year. We are also offering discounts on these new food sensitivity panels at, as part of this anniversary celebration, my way of showing our appreciation to you for your past patronage and support.

For more information about Enterolab's new testing options and prices, please visit their website.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Grain Free Drop Biscuits

Cashews are my new best friend since I've been on a low phenol diet.  Here, they are paired with almond flour to create a nutrient dense and grain free drop biscuit.  These not too sweet biscuits are wonderful with jam for breakfast, or as a dinner roll.

Nutritionist Naomi Devlin recently wrote about the benefits of soaking nuts, grains and legumes to aid in digestion and improve the texture of baked goods.  Since then, I've been keeping a jar of cashews soaking in the fridge for baking and to add creaminess to my smoothies.  For this recipe, they were soaked 18 to 48 hours.

This particular recipe was inspired by a Classic Drop Biscuit recipe in Elana Amsterdam's cookbook, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  Her book provides so many possibilities to use almond flour in everyday cooking, adding a huge protein and nutrient boost to gluten free baked goods.  I highly recommend it if almonds and eggs are a part of your diet.


1 cup plus 2 tbsp almond flour
1 cup soaked and rinsed raw cashews
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder (Hain Featherweight is potato based)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 tbsp oil (I used sunflower to lower phenols)
3 tbsp agave or honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cashews in food processor with the blade attachment on.  Process until a fine meal forms, taking breaks to scrape off big chunks from the sides.  Add almond flour, arrowroot, baking powder, salt and soda and blend.   Scrape the sides of the food processor.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, sweetener and lemon juice.  Add this mixture to the food processor and mix well.  Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment (you can use oil in lieu of the parchment but these can be a little sticky) and spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons worth of batter at a time to make about 9 biscuits.  Bake for 13 to 15 minutes.  Source:

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Fight Back Friday.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Almost Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

Peanuts are one of those problem foods so many people have to avoid.   When I originally made these bars, my aim was a sweet carob taste.   The flavor combinations in this recipe taste surprisingly close to peanut butter.  Even my husband, who doesn't usually like carob, loves these bars!


1 cup raw brazil nuts
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup carob powder
1/2 cup sunbutter
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup gluten free crispy rice cereal (I like Erewhon)


Place brazil nuts and sunflower seeds in a food processor with sharp blade attachment.  Process until a fine meal forms.  Add carob powder and process until mixed.  Add sunbutter and brown rice syrup and process until mixed well.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir rice cereal in with a spoon or fork.  Pour into an 8 x 8 inch square cake pan and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  These bars taste best cold.  Source:

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunflower Slaw

This slaw tastes best after the flavors have time to mix.  This is a perfect side dish to make a few hours or day in advance.


5 cups green cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup purple cabbage, sliced thin
2 cups jicama, julienned
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp sunflower oil
salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix vinegar, oil, syrup, garlic powder and 1 tsp salt in a small bowl.  Mix green and purple cabbage, jicama and red onion in a large bowl.  Toss with dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss sunflower seeds with 1/2 to 1 tsp sunflower oil and spread out on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with salt to taste.  Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them until they are lightly browned.  Garnish slaw with toasted seeds when serving.  Serves four.  Source:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Allergy Free Tex Mex

One day a week I take the extra time to cook a pot of beans, make some homemade tortillas, and prepare all the fixings for burritos.  It's time well spent that feeds my family for dinner and well into the next day.  If we're having company, it's even better, because there are options for all - gluten free, vegan, grain free, etc.


I swore off canned beans when I learned that most canned goods contain the chemical BPA - a chemical  suspected of causing a number of health problems.  Besides, cooking beans is simple and extremely cost effective.  All you need to do is rinse them, soak them overnight and then bring them to a gentle boil until they are the right texture, one to two hours depending on which variety you use.  If you forget to soak them, all is not lost.  Rinse them, place them in a pot with the water, and bring to a boil.   For every cup of beans add three cups of water.  Turn the heat off and let them sit for an hour and then cook them as usual.   Black beans lend a smoky flavor to burritos, but pinto beans also work well.  Add salt at the end of the cooking process.

Taco Meat

There are so many choices when it comes to using meat for tacos and burritos.  Ground pork, turkey, beef and bison would all work well with this recipe.


1 lb ground meat
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mineral or sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tsp sweet rice flour (or arrowroot for grain free)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water


Place meat in a skillet over medium to medium high heat.  While it cooks place the 8 dry ingredients in a small bowl, add 1/3 cup water and mix well.  Once meat is cooked through, add the spice mixture and simmer for a minute or two until thickened.  Add up to 2 more tablespoons water if mixture is too dry.  Remove from heat and serve.  Serves 4.  Source:


You can make your own gluten free tortillas with this recipe.  Alternatively, Sonoma Teff Wraps are gluten free and do not crack like typical gluten free rice based tortillas.  Also consider gluten free corn taco shells, corn tortillas, or skip the tortillas altogether and layer everything in a bowl.


If cow's milk is out of the question, consider raw goat cheddar or monterey jack.  Raw goat milk is sometimes tolerated by those who have a sensitivity to cow's milk.  You can find raw goat cheese in some natural food stores or a local farm (go to Real Milk or Eat Wild).  Another alternative that is both dairy and soy free is Daiya cheese, however, it is a highly processed product that contains yeast, a problem ingredient for some.


Homemade salsa adds loads of flavor to this meal if you have the time.   I love making mango salsa and recently came up with this recipe for watermelon salsa to cut down on our phenol intake.  Tomatoes are high in a salicylates, a type of phenol, that is hard for some people to process.


2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves*
1/4 cup purple onion, diced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp jalapeno or chili pepper, diced*
salt to taste
*NOT low in phenols


Chop cilantro.  Toss everything in a bowl and serve.  Serves 2 to 3.  Source:

 My favorite store bought salsa is by Emerald Valley which happens to contain no lime.


Guacamole can really add a lot to this meal, especially if cheese is not an option.  I use a few avocados as a base, and add a clove or two of garlic, fresh cilantro, diced onion, lime juice, jalapeno pepper and salt to taste.  Make it without the lime juice by adding 1/2 tsp vitamin C crystals mixed with 1/4 cup water.

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gluten Free Baking Undone: Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

 This recipe was inspired by a friend of mine, Diane Eblin at the Whole Gang, who is on a mission to show that transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle does not have to be difficult.  Diane is a master at organizing the gluten free community, and has a passion for helping others new to the diet.  This month she has organized 29 gluten free bloggers to feature tips and recipes for transitioning to gluten free life.  You can follow the schedule every day and find out what people who have lived this lifestyle are doing to make cooking easier.

If I've learned anything from the experience of going gluten free, it's to embrace food in its most natural state.  For me personally, that means natural meats, vegetables, nuts, beans, fruit and a minimal amount of grains.  The standard recommendation for people diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is to stay away from dairy for the first six months.  This pie is naturally dairy and grain free.   My favorite way to prepare it is to fill the peanut crust with coconut ice cream by Coconut Bliss or Purely Decadent for an ice cream pie.  Coconut ice cream is hands down the best non-dairy option I have come across, and both brands are free of refined sugars.  A second, chewy, refrigerator pie option: ground up cashews, dates and cacao powder with no added sweetener.

The beauty of cooking this way, or not cooking, depending on how you look at it, is it provides quick nutritious options without a lot of extra ingredients.  Some flours and binders can be hard on the digestive tract, which may need some time to heal as you make the transition to a gluten free diet.

The Crust:

1 3/4 cups dry roasted, salted peanuts
1 3/4 cups medjool dates, pitted

Pour peanuts into a food processor and process with the blade until it turns into meal.  Add dates and process until mixed well.  Press mixture into a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.

Ice Cream Pie:

Allow 2 pints of chocolate coconut ice cream to partially thaw.  When melted enough to work with, pour into crust and smooth into a pie shape.  Cover and freeze for four hours.

Refrigerator Pie:

Make a double batch of power bars.  Press mixture into pie crust.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you came here for some baking advice, Ricki Heller of Diet, Dessert and Dogs has assured me she will be rolling out her baking tips this Tuesday.  Until then, here are a few more "unbaked" gluten free goodies you might enjoy:

Finally, if you are new to this lifestyle, know that you are not alone.   The number of people being diagnosed increases every day as doctors are becoming more aware of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.  You can find gluten free support through a local branch of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America or Raising Our Celiac Kids (R.O.C.K.).  This is great way to connect with people who have similar health and dietary concerns.

This post has been shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Food on Fridays.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dairy Free Chocolate Banana Smoothie

 It has been a long winter where I live in Oregon, as it has in many parts of the United States.  I keep thinking the warm weather is right around the corner, and maybe if I start pretending like it is summer it will get here sooner.  So, yesterday, I made this chocolate banana smoothie.  It is one of my favorite smoothie recipes.  It's sweet, with a subtle chocolate flavor, without any extra added sweetener.

I keep my freezer stocked with frozen bananas.  You know, the ones that have been sitting in the fruit bowl too long with brown spots that nobody wants to eat?  I cut them up and freeze them to sweeten up my smoothies.


1 cup frozen banana
1 cup nondairy milk (sweetened)
3/4 tbsp raw cacao powder


Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.  Serves 1.  Source:

This post has been shared with Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sugar Free Strawberry Syrup and Easy Breakfast Parfait

Sugar was one of the first foods we eliminated before we realized we had underlying food sensitivities.  Eating gluten or dairy was sort of like a smoldering ember of inflammation, and adding sugar was the gasoline leading to an out of control fire.

When a friend recently asked me what I use in place of sugar, I realized there is really no one answer.  Bananas are great for frozen desserts, smoothies, breakfast crepes and other baked goods.  Dates are amazingly sweet without too strong of a taste, and a good binder making them incredible for raw desserts like these power bars.  Raw honey is my favorite natural sweetener, containing beneficial enzymes and immunity boosting compounds.

This recipe is as simple as they get and can turn breakfast into a real treat.  For the parfait, I have layered cooked cream of buckwheat, chopped raw walnuts, homemade raw goat milk yogurt, and fresh strawberries and bananas, with this delicious syrup layered throughout.  You can swap in other nuts or seeds, or even homemade granola, depending on your preferences.  The syrup also goes well with coconut ice cream, waffles and pancakes.

Raw goat milk is tolerated by some who have food sensitivity to cow's milk.  Fermenting it into yogurt or kefir adds natural probiotics that can aid in intestinal healing and digestion.  Raw goat milk can be found in some natural health food stores or through local farms.  To find one in your area go to Eat Wild or Real Milk.  I make the yogurt myself in my Euro Cuisine yogurt maker using non-dairy starter from Custom Probiotics.

The syrup tastes best cold, losing some of its sweetness the more it is heated through.  If you bring it to a boil, be sure to taste it before you serve it and adjust the sweetness by adding more apple juice concentrate or sweetener of your choice.

(Note:  the ingredients need to be partially thawed in order to process)

2 cups frozen strawberries
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate (Organic Cascadian Farms is my favorite)


Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and let thaw partially.  Blend until smooth.  Source:

More gluten and sugar free recipes
Some of my favorite sources of gluten and refined sugar free cooking:
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Living Free of Gluten, Dairy and Sugar
Elana's Pantry (sugar free except the chocolate chips!)
Lexie's Kitchen

30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living
My friend Diane Eblin over at the Whole Gang is on a mission.  With the help of 29 other bloggers, she's going to show how easy it is to cook gluten free.  Beginning May 2nd, she will launch "30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living." Each day will feature a new blogger with recipes and tips on how to live gluten free.  I'll be sharing my no bake sugar free chocolate peanut butter pie on Mother's Day.  I hope you'll join us for this fun and informative month of gluten free goodness!

This post has been shared with Monday Mania, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vitamin K Packed Collard Greens with Garlic and Pine Nuts

Children with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are at higher risk for low bone density due to their malabsorption of vitamins and minerals.  The University of Alberta studied a group of children newly diagnosed with celiac disease and found they were getting less than 50 percent of their RDA of vitamin K.  This combined with low levels of vitamin D is problematic during the teen years when peak bone development occurs.  Vitamin D levels can be checked through your doctor.  Supplementation of vitamin K and vitamin D may be necessary.

Did you know that 1 cup of collard greens contains 880% of the RDA of vitamin K?  If you're looking for a way to increase your intake, this recipe is for you.  It is always a huge hit at my house among young and old alike.


1 bunch collard greens
2 tbsp olive oil
5 to 10 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste


Lightly toast pine nuts in frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned.  Set aside.  Wash collard greens and cut out the stem of each leaf.  Roll leaves up and slice into thin strips.  Heat up heavy frying pan to medium - high heat and add olive oil.  Add garlic and let sizzle for a minute until fragrant.  Add collard greens and stir occasionally until slightly wilted.  Transfer to serving bowl and add pine nuts.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice lemon into wedges and serve alongside for people to drizzle over their greens.  Serves 3.  Source:

This post has been shared with Food on FridaysFight Back Friday and Monday Mania.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest Post: One Person's Health Food is Another Person's Poison

Kellie Hill,
Nutrition Therapy Practitioner
I’m so excited to have received my updated Standard Food Panel yesterday!  For the past year I’ve been working on reducing my inflammation.  If you’ve read my blog then you know I messed myself up pretty bad by eating a low fat/no fat diet in my early 20-30s.  Due to this, my inflammation was through the roof.  So, every six months I retest to see how I’m doing.
Now, the funny here is Dr. Jeff Taylor brought me my results yesterday and said, “I don’t know what you eat – those graphs are high”.  Yes, there is still much room for improvement – which I will accomplish.  But, these are WAY down from where I started.
February 25, 2010 was my first test.  There is a reaction class of 0 (no reaction) to 6 (extremely high).  At that time I had one item in the extremely high category, 13 items in very high, 14 items in high, and 16 items in moderate – that’s 44 foods that are reactive to my system, out of 92!  This was not a good sign for me. 
But, here is the real kicker . . . my one extremely highly reactive food, carrot.  Yes, you read that right, carrot.  The lovable, nutritious, chocked full of great nutrients, everyone should eat their veggies, carrot.  That little orange devil is my nemesis.  OK, maybe that’s a bit strong, but this is why there is no one-size-fits-all food program.  Most nutritionists, registered dietitians, health food fanatics, doctors, you name it, would say eat carrots – they’re healthy.  And that advice would be the worse possible solution for me.  One person’s health food really can be another person’s poison.
Here’s the exciting news though.  The new test is dated March 21, 2011.  Not only do I have zero items in the extremely high category, I have zero items in the very high category. I do have seven items in high and 20 items in moderate.  But, that’s 27 items instead of 44 and all are lower!   
Understand though that these aren’t fried foods or trans fats . . . these are foods considered healthy by most people.  But health is relative to each person’s individual system and the path toward optimal health must be accessed for each person individually.  With proper planning I’ve been able to decrease the inflammation within my body substantially.  This is so exciting, I feel like celebrating.  Let’s see . . . looks like my no reaction items indicate a nice fruit salad of apple, banana, blueberries, pineapple and strawberries is in my future. 

Kellie Hill is the owner of The Right Plan Nutrition Counseling in Medford, Oregon.  Her philosophy is that there is no one-size fits all diet. Because of bio-individuality (each one of us is different), most diets will work for some people and not for others. We need to eat nutrient dense, whole foods that have been properly prepared – real food, as close to the form it was originally grown/raised in, prepared in a way that preserves or even enhances the nutritional value of the food.  Kellie consults with long-distance clients by phone and internet.  She can be reached at 1.541.772.7526 or

This post has been shared with Fight Back FridayFood on Friday and Monday Mania.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spicy Chickpea Dip and Spread

I'm always looking for ways to boost my vegetable intake.  This dip is the perfect vehicle and is full of everything good:  healthy fats, yeast and bacteria fighters, anti-inflammatory compounds, and B-vitamins.

Use this as a dip for crudites, spread it on a sandwich in place of mayo, or add it to a wrap.  The predominant taste is garlic, and lots of it!


1 1/2 Tbsp garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (no salt added)
3/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp brewer's yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea or mineral salt


Place garlic cloves in a food processor with blade attachment and run until chopped into small pieces.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.  Place in glass container and refrigerate.  Source:

Jamie Oliver is Back!

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is back for season II beginning tonight on ABC.  This time his focus will be on reforming the LA school lunch system.  Last year he convinced my son to give up processed chicken nuggets.  Can't wait to see what he has in store for us!

This post has been shared with Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten Free Hamburger Buns, Egg Substitutes and Tics and Tourette's

Quail Eggs
My blog is based on the premise that eliminating certain foods promotes good health for some people.  For many, this includes gluten, dairy and refined sugar.  But what about eggs?  If you've been diagnosed with a sensitivity to eggs, the standard advice is to eliminate them from your diet for a period of three to six months, and then try again.  In my family, elimination of chicken eggs was a disaster.  It led to a severe drop in mood and an increase in severity of tics.  You know, those involuntary movements that afflict 5 to 20 percent of school age children?

Supplementing with soy lecithin helped remove the tics, but nothing was as good as eggs.   Our doctor suggested eating duck or quail eggs in lieu of chicken eggs.  Harder to find, yes, but baking was all of a sudden a lot easier.  You can find duck and quail eggs in some natural food stores or farmers markets.  Other web resources to aid in your search include Eat Wild and Local Harvest, or try a google search in your geographical area.

Eventually, our doctor prescribed sublingual immunotherapy to take a couple of times a day and before every meal that contains chicken eggs.   Since we've started the drops, we've had very few problems with chicken eggs.  If you are interested in finding a doctor to help you with this, medical training is provided from organizations such as the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.  You can search for doctors through their website by state.

Eating eggs or supplementing with lecithin may not be the answer for everyone with tics or Tourette's.  The picture is often more complicated, necessitating changes in diet, and restoring gastrointestinal health.  An excellent resource on this topic is the book  Breakthrough Discoveries in Natural Treatments:  Tics and Tourette's.

Chicken, duck and quail eggs come in varying sizes, and lend slightly different consistencies to baked goods.  The best way to learn about them is to try them in familiar recipes.  Here are some of my latest experiments.

Whole Grain Hamburger Buns

This also makes an excellent dinner roll.


1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup potato flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 cup chia seeds plus 2 tbsp (for soaking), divided
2 tsp xanthan gum (or guar gum for corn free)
1 tbsp baking powder (use Hain featherweight for corn free)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp hemp milk (sweetened, plain)
2 duck eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp brown rice syrup, honey or agave (or add 2 tbsp sweetener and reduce hemp milk by 1 tbsp)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 1/2 cup water with 2 tbsp chia seeds in a small bowl and set aside.  Mix remaining 9 dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add hemp milk, eggs, olive oil, brown rice syrup, cider vinegar and chia mixture to a mixer and blend well.  Add about a third of the dry ingredients at a time, and mix well.  Divide into 12 balls and form into bun shapes.  They will rise slightly in the oven.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Makes one dozen.  Freeze leftovers.  Source:

White Hamburger Buns


1 package Chebe all purpose mix
2 chicken eggs or 9 to 10 quail eggs
1/2 cup rice milk (plain, sweetened)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp tapioca flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix eggs, rice milk and vegetable oil in a large bowl.  Add package of Chebe mix, and mix with a fork until blended well.  Add 1 tbsp tapioca flour and mix.  Flour your hand (to prevent sticking) with the remaining tapioca flour and knead dough until smooth.  Divide into four balls and form into flat bun shapes.  They will rise quite a bit in the oven.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 38 minutes.  Makes four buns.  Freeze leftovers.  Source:

This post has been shared with Food on Fridays, Fight Back Friday, Monday Mania, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Not Mental: A New Book About a Mother's Journey to Save Her Daughter from a Diagnosis of Severe Mental Illness

Jeanie Wolfson's life was full of promise:  an engaging job as a computer software developer at IBM, and a happy marriage with her husband, Greg.  She had instantly fallen in love with Candace, her husband's daughter from a previous marriage, now adopted and living as Jeanie's own.  A happy girl, Jeanie's "sunshine", Candace was looking forward to a baby sister.  It was 1987, and at 30 years old, Jeanie had a full term beautiful baby girl named Keri.  What unfolded over the coming years wasn't what Jeanie expected.  

Her baby girl was sleepless, screaming and writhing in pain.  It's just colic, the doctors would say.  By the time she was 12 months old, her ears were riddled with repeated infections, she developed allergies and would fall flat on her face at unexpected times (the doctor would diagnose this as ataxia).  At two years old, she was diagnosed with migraines.  The next 17 years would be filled with pain, both for Keri and her mother, as Jeanie navigated through a mental health system that diagnosed Keri with tics, OCD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.  By the time Keri was 16 years old, she was diagnosed with osteoporosis, along with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  Keri was not absorbing nutrients from her food, but nobody knew why.

Keri adored her big sister, Candace, and they were constant companions.    At age five, Keri, a speed reader, was helping her sister with homework, keen on finding the answers with her quick mind.  They spent hours playing pretend together, but eventually Keri would need an assistance dog to help her figure out what sights and sounds were real, and which were imaginary.  When older sister Candace was 17 years old, her life took an unexpected turn into depression segueing into severe mood swings. These symptoms were eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder.  

Candace would later be hospitalized in a different city where she went to college, and Jeanie would have the impossible task of caring for two daughters diagnosed with mental illness who lived an hour apart.

It's Not Mental is Jeanie's story of navigating a dis-integrated medical and mental health system that looks at medical problems in isolation, one body part at a time.  After years of perseverance and determination, Jeanie helped her daughters heal with diet, hormone balancing, nutritional supplements and integrative medicine.  Candace and Keri are now college kids living independently, studying in the fields of nutrition and social work.  I recently spoke with Jeanie about her new book.  

Q:  What was the first clue that something wasn't right with your daughter, Keri?

The first clue was her extremely fragmented sleep and screaming fits. Even when she did sleep, it was very disturbed with screaming and thrashing about for hours.  My parents recognized something was wrong a lot sooner. I really missed a lot of her early clues. 

Q:  You mentioned that Keri had a variety of mental health diagnoses when she was young.  Can you describe what Keri was like during the grade school years.  What was a typical day like for you at that time?

There was no real "typical day" for Keri, so there wasn't one for me. That is part of what we call the "roller-coaster" with a child like her.  It was hard to know what to expect. Keri had good days, bad days, and worse days. There was even a time when she spent 3 weeks sleeping. During that time I couldn't go in to work except when my husband stayed home to be with her. Sometimes my life was wonderful and "typical" - when we went for bike rides, and walks to the park. On Saturday mornings, we all pitched in and cleaned the house. Saturday evenings we had family time with board games, friends, dinner and sometimes watching some TV. Some days Keri spent hours just screaming and it frazzled our nerves. I liked going outside and gardening or something when she was spending hours screaming and crying. Things got worse gradually at first. I felt frustrated a lot of the time. She complained a lot about how she felt and I had to take her to doctors a lot but they didn't find anything wrong with her. Some days I'd take her to school, go to my office, work a few hours, then be called back to the school because Keri had a migraine.

When Keri was obsessive at night, she "had to" complete her rituals, and I worried when it delayed her getting to bed early when I knew she also had limited energy. 
Some mornings she'd have meltdowns, and I practiced relaxation techniques. I'd go wait in the car for her and she came out when she came out. She was naturally responsible and mature in many ways, so she was responsible for her own clothes, lunch, homework and getting herself out of the house. For the most part. I helped when requested. She was a fairly independent child up until she became acutely psychotic in middle school. After that, my life was constant stress with her school, her multitude of appointments, watching over her, and her either clinging to me or cussing at me. 

How were you able to meet Keri's needs and still maintain your job at IBM?

The company, and my managers were exceptional. This was before home-offices were common, but they set me up with a home office, installing two extra telephone land-lines, and still kept my office in the building. That way, I could work from either location. I was able to do my job at nights and weekends - as long as I could get some core hours in during the workweek, which I did.

What was the most difficult part of raising Keri?  

There were so many difficulties, and what was "most difficult" differed with different ages. When she was young, the lack of sleep was the hardest on me. And listening to her screaming and screaming and screaming for hours nearly drove ME "insane." When she was older, it was hard to have her lash out at me verbally and not respond. And we never knew how things would go. We never knew if anything we planned to do was going to happen because everything revolved around how she felt and what she was capable of coping with - which changed from hour to hour. I had gnawing fear about her future.  I was determined to have her life be better than my own biological mother's. Little Keri had the same symptoms as my mother.

What were the first signs that things weren't right with your older daughter, Candace?  

I didn't know anything was wrong until she was severely depressed, but there were clues we did not recognize when she was younger. Looking back, she had allergies when she was young, frequent sinus infections, "allergic shiners" under her eyes, problems falling asleep, and although she was very thin, she had a bloated belly. I did know she was moody, but I didn't think it was unusual. 

At what point did you find a doctor that helped you turn the corner with your daughter, Keri?

When Keri was 16, we found two new doctors for her, both via word-of-mouth.  A new GP recommended by friends acted as a conductor in what became a medical symphony.  The Internet brought us to an endocrinologist who ran many tests on her, undeterred and unprejudiced by the diagnoses of mental illnesses. Both were willing to take a fresh look at her myriad of symptoms.  

This at least got us looking in a medical direction to help her to feel better and enhance the quality of her life. We had no idea that by helping her 
feel better it would also help her "mental" illness.

Q:  What role did food play in helping your daughters recover, and how did you get this part of the puzzle diagnosed?

Food played a huge role in helping my daughters recover.  The puzzle pieces were being put together after Keri was found to have a rather severe intestinal malabsorption. Still, we did not know why and it actually, at first, fell through the cracks. After IgA and IgG food sensitivity tests, she modified her diet accordingly. By this time, she was interested in nutrition, dietetics, and gut health, and understood the connection between this and her asthma and environmental allergies that had plagued her her whole life.  She began to feel better in general and was even able to get off asthma and some allergy medications.

Once we knew this huge piece of the puzzle, Candace followed suit with testing, dietary changes, and healing her gut. The changes were remarkable. Only after getting off the foods causing issues and being reintroduced to them, was the severity of the symptoms they had caused truly appreciated. Soy causes bloating, intestinal disturbance, and brain fog (i.e. "cognitive symptoms"). Dairy causes severe mood swings (i.e "bipolar" symptoms) and gluten causes not just intestinal distress, but depressive symptoms.  In addition, antibiotics have a large negative effect on mood and cognition unless countered with an effort to keep up intestinal health and prevent candidal overgrowth.

Interestingly, Keri and her husband love to cook. Her husband follows your blog, printing off recipes from it!

Q:  One of your daughters was diagnosed with thyroid disease.  Can you talk about that, and what impact that had on her mental health?

Actually, both had a problem with thyroid hormones, although for Candace, it is her thyroid gland, and with Keri, it is the part of the brain (hypothalamus) regulating the pituitary and thyroid. For both, the change in their general health and well-being from increasing their thyroid levels were astounding.  Their GP wrote about his astonishment at the difference a small amount of thyroid hormone could make in a post on my blog.   I dedicated an appendix of my book to just this topic, and wrote up an in-depth discussion with extra resources, also on my blog.

You mentioned Candace was on psychiatric drugs for a period of time, and was later able to be weaned off them.  What exactly was she taking, how did you wean her off, and does she have any lasting side effects?

Candace spent 13 years of her life on various cocktails of psychiatric medications -- mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics -- for her intractable ultradian cycling bipolar symptoms. She does have lasting side-effects from the antipsychotics. She has a muscle tightness and movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia, and metabolic syndrome. She has the metabolic problem under control through diet and exercise. The tardive dyskinesia is slowly fading over the years. She was able to wean off them after her GP switched her thyroid hormone to a natural dessicated thyroid hormone having a broader range of hormones in it, and raised her level, she changed her diet and added nutritional supplements, addressed sleep issues, and addressed candidal overgrowth. I have been adding some entries on my blog about how she healed. She did wean safely off the medications under the care of both her psychiatrist and her GP. She had a lot of withdrawal symptoms. It wasn't easy.  It wasn't easy for either of them.

Q:  Why do you think that both of your daughters had similar health problems, even though your older daughter was adopted?  

They are half-sisters. Not only do they share their father's genes, but both my husband's family background, AND mine, are similar. BOTH of our mothers had these symptoms - both were diagnosed with schizophrenia. So Candace had one grandmother with "mental" symptoms, and Keri had both. But there is more to the story. In addition to genetics, there is the influence of what is called epigenetic factors. Keri wrote about that on my blog but it is more than just nutrition that can affect the functioning of our genes. There are many stressors, infections, and inflammatory processes that can affect us even before we are born. In both Candace's and Keri's case, their mothers were sick while pregnant with them. We both had inflammatory and immune problems while pregnant. 

Q:  Tell me about your daughters now, and are they totally independent?

Very few human beings are totally independent. I cannot say that I myself am. Keri and Candace are both responsible, functioning, working adult students living their lives in their own residences while going to school full-time, doing internships and practicums as required in their chosen fields. Keri is now married, and both hope to continue on with graduate studies. 

Q:  What is their diet like?

Keri eats a mostly whole foods, pesca-vegetarian diet.  Candace is conscientious about not over-doing the carbs. She eats frequent small meals so she does not become hypoglycemic. Both eat a diverse diet and love cooking.

Q:  You mentioned earlier your daughters couldn't eat gluten, dairy or soy.  Do they still have those restrictions and if so, do you expect they will be life-long?

My daughters still cannot eat gluten, dairy and soy.  I do suspect that it will be life-long.  I plan on soon posting about studies showing how casein (dairy) can affect the brain bringing on symptoms that can be mistaken for "mental" illness.

Q:  Do you have any dietary restrictions, and if so, why?

Actually, yes, I have more dietary restrictions than my kids. I did not find out some of my food problems until I started investigating them after my daughters got better. I did not have the psychiatric symptoms. Instead, I had chronic hives, inflammation, allergies and asthma. I'd had some bad allergic reactions to some foods and substances over the years. First it was honeydew and pineapple, then cantaloupe. The aspartame and saccharin were more difficult to discover since I avoided them until they became nearly ubiquitous in many products (saccharin in a medication landed me in the emergency room with a severe allergic reaction).  Then I got chronic urticaria (hives) for 8 years. Only after finding Keri's problem with gluten did I learn that this can sometimes be the only outward sign of Celiac or a gluten sensitivity. I underwent IgG food sensitivity testing and subsequently got off gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and some nuts. My hives disappeared and I was able to stop some of the allergy and asthma medications I was on. Some people ask me if not eating these foods is hard for me. My answer is NO!  They talk about "temptation" and "willpower" but it is nothing like that. They do not "tempt" me because I simply cannot eat them.  A piece of cake that is gluten, dairy, soy, egg free may tempt me, but not one that has any of those things in it - or one that I do not know what is in it.

Q:  Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give to new or prospective parents about warning signs or prevention of mental illness?

I'd tell them to read my book! And, pay attention to sleep hygiene, diet, gut health, play, activity, and stress. 

Q:  Why did you decide to write a book about your experience?

I wanted to share what I'd been through with other parents so they could learn from my mistakes as well as hard-won knowledge. I was also appalled that after so many years, the same things are happening to so many other children and families. I wanted to save others from having to "re-invent the wheel." Most of all, I wanted people to understand that although we may call illnesses affecting brain function, "mental illness" it doesn't necessarily mean the person's underlying problems causing those symptoms are "mental" - i.e. emotional or psychological. They are biological. It is just illness.  I want people to understand that medical resources and wrap-around care needs to be available to people exhibiting brain symptoms. The whole person needs to be treated.

I guess, what I want is nothing less than a paradigm shift in thinking and in treatment - by families, politicians, the medical community and all of society. Treat the whole person with meaningful collaborative, integrated care. 

Q:  What do you hope people will get from reading your book?

For those who already understand: Hope. Inspiration. Ideas. For those who don't understand - who are fortunate to not already know first-hand what "mental" illness, is:  Understanding of what severe "mental" illness is, what life is like for the families, how much families love their affected family members, and that this is not necessarily some emotional problem caused by abuse or trauma. We need to think outside the box and eliminate stigma about these illnesses.

I felt a special kinship with Jeanie during this interview.  Just like her daughter, my son spent years mired in a medical and mental health system that didn't connect the dots between body and brain.  Persistence eventually led us to a doctor who healed my son's anxiety by identifying and removing foods he was sensitive to, addressing thyroid and adrenal health, correcting nutrient deficiencies and balancing gut flora.  I agree with Jeanie that it's time to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and recognize that many kids would recover if the underlying physical causes of their illness were addressed.

This post has been shared with Fight Back Friday, Food on Fridays, and Monday Mania.

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