I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Some (Good!) News at Last: Health Video Update Part X

Hi guys! Remember me?

It's been more than a year since my last post. Gosh, I hadn't realized I'd been 'unplugged' for that long, but that's how life goes... Not having internet at home has really put a big stopper on my web activities. I mostly go online once a week at the community library and just have time to have a quick look at my email and do the odd research.

Anyhoo, I'm here now... :-)

Soooooo, as you can imagine, LOTS has happened since our last 'talk'. There's no way I could cover it all, especially not in writing (well, unless I worked on this post for weeks, and you spent a few sleepless nights reading it! lol), but I go over the main highlights in this next video.



Thank goodness for technology; that saved me quite a bit of typing! :-)

Here are links to some of the resources and for more info on topics I mentioned in the vid, in case you'd like to learn more:

Local Practitioners
Michael Smith - nutritionist, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Functional Medicine specializing in the gut. He outlines his approach to diet (Ice Age, New Paleo and Healthy Homesteader Diets) on his website, Integrative Health Solutions.ca. He has also published a book called "Returning to an Ancestral Diet".

Academy of Chinese and Oriental Sciences (ACOS), school of TCM in Nelson, BC

Auto Immune Protocol
AIP Lifestyle
Phoenix Helix
ThePaleoMom.com

Why No Nuts and Seeds
www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/the-whys-behind-the-autoimmune-protocol-nuts-and-seeds.html

Why are Nightshades Harmful
www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/06/23/nightshade-free-survival-guide/
Fast Track Diet (for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)
Outline by Norm Robillard

Gallbladder Health
gallbladderattack.com/

What my Diet Looks Like 
As I said in the video, I followed a very strict form of Paleo Diet for most of the last year, based on Michael Smith's approach. Basically a highly anti-inflammatory diet consisting of lean proteins (fish, a little chicken, lots of eggs from a source that uses corn and soy-free feed), pretty much all vegetables (woo hoo!), except peas, beans, corn and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants), and copious amounts of fat (butter, ghee, coconut and olive oil). I've been staying away from grains and starches, dairy, and, for a long time, also sugar and fruit. As a lot of spices come from either seeds or nightshades (cumin, coriander, nutmeg, paprika...) or are too hot for my gut, I've been only using garlic powder and herbs to flavour my food. I haven't been able to have anything acidic such as citrus or vinegar (and most vitamins as well for the same reason). I know that in theory these are supposed to be alkaline by the time they leave the stomach, but all I can say is that they irritate the sensitive spot in my small intestine.

Looking back through my Food Journal I'm noticing that it was pretty darn spartan for a while, but things improved considerably once I reintroduced a bit of fruit and sweet potatoes. I thought I'd give you an idea of what one day's menu looked like during that phase.

Breakfast: 1/2 sm avocado, 1/4 cup blueberries and/or strawberries, 1 tbs melted coconut oil and a bit of stevia blended up and with 1/4 cup of live water kefir grains tossed in, 1 cooked egg (usually with the yolk still soft)

Around Noon: 10 oz fresh cucumber and celery juice

Lunch: 50 g of fish or chicken, 2 cups steamed veggies, 1 tbs coconut oil, 2 tsp butter

Late afternoon: large glass of water kefir or kombucha

Dinner: 1/2 sm avocado, 2 cups veggies, sweet potato noodles, 1-2 eggs, 1 tbs coconut oil, 2 tsp butter

Dessert: jello made from grass-fed beef gelatin, stevia and medicinal extracts or pumpkin blended up with a little cinnamon, stevia and coconut oil

Since giving the Fast Track Digestion approach a try, I've reintroduced Jasmine rice, a few products made from white rice (flour, puffed cereal, crackers and pasta), small amounts of various sweeteners (cane sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, coconut sugar) as well as greater amounts of fruits (yippee!!!) I'm also having sweet potato and sweet potato noodles again (I stopped during the FTD), which really help in the variety department. In fact, the sweet potato and rice have allowed me to cut down on the amount of chicken and fish I'm eating. Not surprisingly, I found myself automatically having more 'vegetarian' meals. Yay!

I can still tolerate very few things raw other than fruits (without thick skins or seeds), But I was very recently able to introduce tender greens from our garden, as long as I remove the tougher veins and stems (various types of lettuce, baby kale, arugula, mustard, spinach, and mizuna). I can also eat raw radishes and cucumber without peel and with small seeds. Gosh, I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to be finally able to have some raw veggies! :-) Ever since the beginning of this health saga I have faithfully enjoyed a glass of fresh cucumber and celery juice daily.

At this point I'm able to use a few special ingredients from my 'raw days': kelp noodles, nori, lucuma, maca and mesquite, vanilla powder and medicinal extracts for flavouring.

In the last couple of months, I've further adjusted my diet to accommodate my gallbladder problem (I have 3 large gallstones). So now I use eggs just for baking rice goodies (sometimes only the whites) and I've cut down on the amount of fats I consume.

Natural Supplements and Herbs
In terms of supplements, Michael recommends products to help heal the lining of the gut that I've been taking pretty much since the onset of this whole thing: l-glutamine, n-acetyl glucosamine and liquid vitamin D. I also take digestive enzymes as well as HCL to assist my digestion. I've tried to reintroduce probiotics, but so far, no luck. At least I'm able to drink home brewed water kefir as well as kombucha every day.

Both Michael, and more recently Monica (the student at the ACOS clinic I've been working with), have prescribed me a number of different Chinese herb formulas over time. However, we seem to have been able to finally nail down the ones that I respond best to, and for the last 3 months or so I've been taking a combination of Er Chen Tang (to remove heat and dampness) with a small amount of Huang Lian (berberine). I also take Ma Zi Ren Wan (rhubarb root is the main ingredient) to help support my daily elimination.

Alrighty, I think that pretty much covers the technical stuff surrounding my health.

Trip Back East
After some reservation, I finally decided to go visit my family in Quebec this past spring. As you can imagine, my parents have been super worried because of my health issues and were anxious to see me, but I kept waiting to feel strong and stable enough before doing so. One major concern was that the journey itself as well as the visit would be too stressful and result in onsetting more inflammation. (As you may know, gut health is closely related to stress.) But then I realized that maybe I'll never feel totally 'ready' to go as the risk of triggering a flare will always be in the background. And so I decided to go ahead and see what unfolds. Amazingly, everything went super smoothly, from the preparations to the actual trip, to the time spent with my family. Actually I can't imagine how things could have gone any better! I had a wonderful two weeks which I spent entirely at my parents' apartment on the South Shore of Montreal. (I decided to minimize unnecessary stress and therefore didn't even go to the city or to my sister's home about 2 hours away.)

My parents are both in their 80s now and I hadn't seen them in nearly 6 years. My dad had a bout with colon cancer some years back and is diabetic but is otherwise mostly ok (other than being overweight). My mom has had no major health issues at all. I find that baffling considering their SAD diet, but hey. We made a joke of how they'd 'fatten me up' during my stay with them. See, one of the things about following a Paleo type diet is that you usually loose weight. I've been having a heck of a time getting over 100 lbs. Anyhoo, I did manage to put on 2 or 3 lbs while I was in Quebec, something we were all very happy about. :-)

This was taken on the day I arrived with my mom and dad, Jeanne and Antoine.


We spent most of the days just quietly hanging out, yet time just flew right by! Jeanne has been doing embroidery on paper for the last 20 years, but I'd never actually seen her at work. And so she showed me how and I completely fell in love with the technique. In fact, there's something utterly satisfying and even a little addictive about it. Now as soon as I have a spare moment I have needle and thread in hand.

In this pic, we happened to be both working on the exact same pattern. I later gave the card to Don as he turned 67 soon after I got back to BC.


I arrived baring all kinds of gifts. I'm not sure why; I just felt like pampering them. :-) Before I left, Don and I made a bunch of raw chocolates. I hadn't realized how much I missed working in the kitchen with him and how well we operate together. It was a little tricky as I couldn't really try the chocolates and fillings, but after a while I found a way around that; I'd put a bit in my mouth to check on the flavour balance then spit it out. I know, I know, sounds like a sacrilege but a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do! To my delight, it worked as I was told the end result was yummily decadent. Yay!


I happened to be there for both Mother's Day and Jeanne's birthday which is only a few days later. I had knitted her a lace shawl in a beautiful delicate Estonian pattern, called "Echo Flower." She loved, loved it!



The timing of my visit couldn't have been more perfect as the ornamental trees surrounding their residence all bloomed a few days before I left.



One of the biggest challenges about undertaking such a trip was to accommodate for my food requirements. While I can eat a great deal more things than I could before, there is still a lot that I must carefully stay away from. As a result, nearly half of my luggage consisted of food or supplements! lol It was a little tricky for the first day or two as we had to do a huge shopping and I had to cook a whole bunch of veggies. But once I got my bearings it went quite well. Sadly, we could almost never enjoy the same things, but at least we ate together at the table.

I haven't been able to eat at a restaurant for over 2 years, but after making a few calls I was able to find one close by that served plain white rice and fish served sans seasonings or sauce. And so we took my mom out for her birthday. As it turned out, I was even able to have a side of plain cooked veggies, so my plate looked almost 'normal'. :-)

For our last meal together, we all ate the same thing which was such a treat! I stir-fried tons of veggies in coconut oil and we served them on a bed on Jasmine rice, along with sauteed shrimps and scallops and steamed fiddleheads. Yum! Yum!


The evening before my departure. My sister, Josee, came to spend the night and then gave me a ride to the airport early the next morning.


Crazy About Embroidery
As I was just saying I'm now totally hooked on 'embroidery on paper'. My mom was a huge help in setting me up for it and I continued to build my supplies once I got home. Amazingly, it looks like this new passion is supported by The Mystery; after seeing me at work a volunteer at our library gave me what we figure must be over $100's worth of thread that she inherited from the estate of a local lady who used to do embroidery. What a blessing! :-) She was glad to find someone for whom it would be useful.

Don laughs at the sheer amount of cards and bookmarks I keep 'pumping out', but I can't help it! In fact, I love it so much (or perhaps, because of how much of it I do every day!), I even dream of doing embroidery at night! hehe It's hard to explain, but I find it both soothing and deeply gratifying (perhaps it's to do with 'connecting the dots'?) It's also so nice to have a short term creative outlet since I no longer have food prep/recipe creation. I still love lace knitting, but it's a much more involved long term activity. For my embroidery projects, I find myself naturally gravitating towards nature-based patterns or mandala type designs. There's something really magical about watching a piece gradually come together, stitch by stitch.

Here are a few examples of my work:










The Gardening Bug
Last year we were able to grow our first 'real' garden, as before that we were never in a location that was conducive for it. I did get involved in community gardens for 2 or 3 summers, but it was always such an ordeal to get there. It's sooooo nice to be able to just walk down the driveway in order to water or tend to our 'green babies', as we've nicknamed them.

There were already several established beds as well as a greenhouse on the property, but these hadn't been used for ages, so last year we began to gradually dig them back up again. Well, this spring Donnie gave me a surprise: he dug out a whole bunch more while I was away. Yippee!

Last year we only grew a few things, as pretty much the only veggie I could eat was potato, but this season it's a whole different story! I think we've got something close to 30 different veggies and herbs! :-)

June was exceptionally sunny and warm, plus we got a major head start as I planted most beds mid-April before I left for Quebec. And so our garden is already growing like crazy, and we've already been able to enjoy some of its produce.

But wait, how about you join me as I walk you through our little piece of lush paradise?



Just in case you don't have time to watch it, here are a few pics taken over the last few weeks. With the gorgeous weather we've been having, we can see changes daily, but you'll still get an idea. :-)

When I planted greens, I was expecting these to be for Don since my gut complained when I introduced them last summer. :-( As it turns out, this time they're fine as long as I only eat the tender leaves and remove any tough parts. I've been enjoying a salad daily (sometimes even twice a day... Call it SGB ('Serious Green Backlog')! lol



Our very first cuke! Again, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to tolerate it, but I can! Woo hoo! Keep 'em coming!


While we opted to plant tomatoes and cucumbers in the main garden, we still put a few in our greenhouse. See, since it's been built, trees on the property have grown quite a bit, so it really doesn't get that much direct sun anymore. With the combination of lack of sunlight and extreme heat, our tomato plants are pretty leggy. Nevertheless, the greenhouse is still starting to look lush, what with the few mystery squashes that volunteered from our compost. Even though these are usually tasteless, I didn't have the heart to kill them all.  I figure that in the worst case we'll be able to use them for pies and soups. ;-)


We're using the two beds in the front garden mostly for root veggies - beets, carrots, rutabaga, daikon (which I just plucked out as it all went to seed), and parsnips, but we also have broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, garlic and a couple of squashes.


Surrounded by a sea of green; just the way I like it! ;-)


Donnie has been super helpful; watering, weeding and just looking after the general well-being of our plants.



We had heaps of bees hang around our arugula, bok choy and mizuna flowers.


Our gorgeous zucchini patch; one of my favourite parts of the garden, with its almost daily offering of beautiful yellow blossoms as well as zukes.



We ended up with several squash beds since in addition to the few varieties we started indoors, I tried to rescue as many volunteer squashes as I could. Carmi, Carmi; you have to learn to be a more ruthless gardener!


With my talk of deer in the video, wouldn't you know it, one came to visit us later that day. He kept creeping closer and closer to our flower bed, and in the end we had to scare him off.



Sadly, he came again a couple of days later and did quite a number on Don's potato patch. It's one of the only areas that isn't protected by netting as, well, we ran out of the stuff, and we found that it seemed to weigh down on the plants and cause them to slouch. (I don't know why but, just like last year, ours insist on being giants; some of them over 5 feet tall!) Plus, I had just that morning removed one of the nets on the lettuce bed in order to put it somewhere else, so of course the deer had to munch on a few lettuce heads too while he was at it. Anyhoo, we were not happy campers! :-(

As a matter of fact, we encountered Mr. and Mrs. Deer on our walk yesterday and I gave them a stern lecture to leave our garden alone. There's tons of greenery everywhere at the moment, so surely there's no need to eat our little plants, right?

Birthday Girl
I just turned 44 a few days ago, so I figured what the heck, might as well post a few pics of that too! lol

I spent this beautiful sunny day mostly lounging around, eating fruit (can you think of a better way to spend your birthday?) and doing embroidery. I worked on a sunflower pattern which I thought was particularly appropriate, considering. It later occurred to me that I actually made myself my very own birthday card. he he In fact, I can't think of a better one for me! See for yourself.


For my birthday dinner, we started off with the best part: dessert. I can't eat fruit after a meal, and I just HAD to have strawberries for my birthday, so we had fresh strawberries and blueberries with a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream (made from the thick cream in a refrigerated can of coconut milk with a little stevia.) Decadent!


The main dish was baked sockeye salmon, Jasmine rice topped with a Mushroom and Carrot Sauce (fancy for me as I usually just eat my rice plain with a little oil, garlic powder and avocado) and a side of steamed broccoli. 


And of course, a beautiful salad made from our garden greens, cucumber and our first nasturtiums.


About My Fellow Furries...
But 'nuff talk about myself!

In the video you got a chance to look at Miss Puss being mischievous in the garden. She had a good winter (other than early getting in a fight with a visiting neighbouring cat). She continues to have a knack finding good, cozy and, of course, warm spots. ;-)


She's especially thriving now that the weather has warmed up and she gets to spend most of the day outdoors. She usually follows us to the garden at least once a day and finds a quiet shady spot between beds for a little lie down. So cute!

In the most recent heat wave (we had temps in the 100s F which is unusual for us), she was staying close to the house and moving as little as she could. Poor thing; I can't begin to imagine how it must feel to be wearing a fur coat in such heat! Eeeek!




As for Mr. Don, he's been doing well too. He's been having to fend for himself in the kitchen, but we've been sharing our evening meal since my return from Quebec. Yay! He continues to be fascinated by what all is going on in the world of macro economics, especially as things seem to be heating up in the European Union/China. He just wanted to pass on to you guys a few words...


Hello Everyone! Don here with a short note of Warning!
 Perfect Financial Hurricane directly ahead! 

As some of you know, we both feel certain that society is in Big trouble, just count the ways, eh? One important aspect is the ongoing financial/economic crisis, now heating up in Europe and China.

The question to ask ourselves is how important is our financial security for us and our loved ones? Very, very critically important, right? Given the very unstable situation, what is one to do? Finding the answer to that deserves all the attention necessary, doesn’t it? ‘Head in the sand’ is surely not a viable strategy. After many years of research for me all roads keep coming back to Physical GOLD.

For a short version of why, see here: A Quick Look At Why GOLD and Why NOW?

I have created a new blog with one simple approach which I am certain will work wonders, whatever happens. I highly recommend you take a look HERE.  

Note: BitGold was initially not available in the US but now it is.

Anyone with questions can feel free to contact me at: freedomroad999 @ gmail.com (remove spaces)

All Blessings


On this note, I say we call it a day! Phfew, I'm no longer used to being at the computer for so long and my hands are getting sore from typing so much!

And while I'm in a blogging spree, keep an eye out for an upcoming post offering all of my raw recipe books on sale in the next few days. :-)

I hope you have a blessed and bountiful summer!

Links to my Previous Health Updates...



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Best Holiday Ever

It must be getting close to a year since I've written a 'proper' blog post, journaling recent events and happenings in my life. Dis-ease can do that; knock inspiration right out of ya. I was still hesitating a little about doing this post. For one thing, I can't say that I'm really feeling moved to writing again, at least not just yet. But more importantly, because of my compromised gut all of my action in the kitchen for the last several months has been of the cooked variety.

On the other hand, I finally have some 'blogging material' to share with you guys. So raw blog or nay, in spite of my reservations here I am typing away on my laptop (offline as we no longer have internet at home.) I figured that something other than the usual 'health updates' would be a nice change and a good way to start off the new year. I sincerely hope that the strict raw lifestylers among you won't be offended by the cooked content of this post. I promise that I don't intend to make this a habit. If I feel the urge to share more of my cooked culinary adventures in the future, I'll do so on a new dedicated blog.

OK, so let's get to it, shall we?


Family Reunion
If you have followed our adventures across the US in the past few years then you have probably already met our dear friend Diane from Santa Barbara. We first crossed paths during our very first tour in 2010. While we only stayed 3 days in her home back then it was enough to make two things very clear:

1. Diane and us share a wonderful, albeit mysterious, deep soul connection. To put it quite simply; we are 'family'.

2. We fell in love with the warm climate and delightful lushness of Santa Barbara.

And so we visited Diane again the following year, and I even flew over one winter to spend most of the cold months with her while Don held the fort back in Canada with the furries. This turned out to be one of the most wonderful winters of my life; waking up nearly every day to gorgeous blue skies and sunshine, surrounded by palm trees, roses and hummingbirds, and bathed in the sweet aroma of jasmine in the evening. *sigh* And of course the companionable presence of Diane with whom I spent copious amount of time playing in the kitchen and quietly crafting.

We hadn't seen her in almost 2 years (well, 3 for Don) so we were thrilled to learn of Diane's plans to come visit us in southern British Columbia over the recent Holidays. As it is with true friends, it felt like we picked up right where we'd left off, as though not a single day had passed since we were last in each other's company.

We quickly fell into a comfortable routine of starting our days off gathered around the wood stove. Actually, come to think of it, Diane and I didn't leave our cozy spots much other than to whip up something in the kitchen or watch a movie in the evening. ;-)


Toasty Toes

 

Of course, Miss Puss still lives up to her nickname of 'Heat Seeking Missile'; every now and then hopping from one lap to the other, melting in the luxurious warmth.

 

Don and I don't usually celebrate Christmas per se, other than to welcome the opportunity to cook up something special. Still, I couldn't resist knitting Diane a little token of my appreciation for having her in my life.

Admiring the doily that I made for her.

 

Perhaps not quite the purpose that I had in mind for it, but doesn't she look ravishing?


It's always a bit 'iffy' when it comes to landing at the nearest airport in Castlegar. Due to its location between mountains and next to the Columbia river, low visibility is unfortunately a common occurrence, especially in the wintertime. After monitoring the weather forecast for weeks, we woke up to a beautiful (and totally unexpected!) sunny morning on the day that Diane was due to fly in. The Mystery definitely gave us a hand here as it turned out to be the only clear day in nearly two weeks! It remained cloudy for most of Diane's stay but the sun did peek out on a couple of occasions. We took advantage of the weather to show Diane around a little and drive along our beautiful Slocan River.


We're so cozy, tucked away in our little cabin in the woods, that we try to keep our trips to the nearby town of Nelson to a minimum. We did go once with Diane to do our bi-monthly shopping and give her a little tour of the place.


In My Still Sunny But No Longer Very Raw Kitchen
As the list of ingredients my gut can tolerate has ever so slowly expanded over the months, I have been able to enjoy gradually more elaborate dishes. In the necessary shift from being almost solely focused on taste to giving my body what it needs, my enthusiasm for cooking has suffered a great deal. In any case, I certainly don't have a lot of extra energy to spare for being creative in the kitchen. For the most part, I am quite content to follow other people's culinary guidelines.

From my raw days I've learned that it can be a rare occurrence indeed to find a recipe creator with whom I have what I call 'taste bud alignment'. At the very least, everyone is so unique that it's almost to be expected that some slight adjustments will need to be made to bring a recipe to your liking, such as for salt, sweetener and spices. It can take a while to get to know a particular chef's proclivities in those regards, therefore coming to trust someone's recipes can be a slow process fraught with lots of trials and errors.

I was blessed to stumble upon two gluten-free chefs very early on this forced cooked phase that are not only very talented but that I quickly discovered I could trust for consistent yummy results: Bette Hagman, a lady who has been cooking gluten free for more than 40 years, and Carol Fenster. I'll be pointing to the relevant books from which some of their wonderful creations have been taken.

As you may remember, I used to be a huge fan of raw soup. I have created my fair share of them over the years as Don and I would enjoy one every single day to begin our evening meals. Sadly, I no longer can enjoy those bowls of raw deliciousness but once in a while I do make a cooked potage. Carol Fenster has several excellent soups to choose from in her book 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes. All of the recipes I've tried so far have been awesome! While Diane was staying with us we enjoyed her Cream of Broccoli and Carrot-Ginger Soups (sorry, no pics), as well as her Creamy Potato-Leek...


... and Butternut Squash Soup.


Our Christmas feast: Carol's Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Vegan Gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts and Herb Bread Stuffing from Annalise G. Roberts Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Yummo!


We enjoyed the left-overs a couple of days later with the addition of Quinoa Burgers and sweet potatoes (which we actually forgot to serve at Xmas! lol)  Oh, and we drenched the whole thing in a delicious Mushroom Gravy.


Since I no longer feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I have been building a repertoire of simple entree staples that I can count on, many of which we shared with Diane.

Our go-to recipe when we're in a pinch: Rice Pasta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Green Onions in a Cream of Mushroom Sauce. I usually top it with vegan cheese shreds (made from tapioca) and pop it in the oven for a few minutes for the cheese to melt.


Comfort food at its best: Bette's Vegetable Potpie topped with Buttermilk Biscuits from The Gluten Free-Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy.


Macaroni and Cheese Casserole from Bette Hagman's The Gluten Free-Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods

 

I do occasionally come up with my own concoctions. Here's a Spinach Quiche made with Bette Hagman's Featherlight Vinegar Pie Crust.


I can't have anything hot or spicy so I've been mostly using dried herbs to highlight savory dishes. However I recently discovered that I'm actually fine with Indian spices, as long as I stay away from chili powder and any kind of pepper. Hurrah! This Vegetable Tikka Masala from Carol Fenster's 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes tasted like heaven to me after all these months of blandness!


Since giving the Specific Carbohydrate Diet a try last summer, I haven't been really drawn to eating meat. I did the latter out of necessity at the time and, quite frankly, I don't enjoy consuming animal flesh very much. I still have some wild BC salmon and locally raised organic chickens in our freezer, so I thought Diane's visit would be the perfect opportunity to make a dent in those supplies.

Indian Spiced Salmon with Bette's Curried Rice from More From The Gluten Free-Gourmet


I used locally raised organic chicken mainly for making stocks and broths which are considered to have very healing and soothing properties, especially for the gut. As a result the chicken meat I was left with was both tasteless and rubbery. With Diane here I made my very first roasted chicken which I opted to do in the slow cooker. If you are going to cook chicken what a fabulous way to do it! It's energy efficient, mess-free and the resulting meat is very moist and tender.

We served some of it in the following Bean Flour Crepes, stuffed with mushrooms, green onions and spinach, and baked in a white sauce. Another excellent recipe from Bette Hagman featured in The Gluten Free-Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy.


And on the not-so-sweet side...

Since I must carefully monitor the sugar/fructose I eat in one sitting it has turned dessert making into a bit of a challenge. Thank goodness for stevia is all I can say! I try to limit the amount of sweetener I use (mostly coconut sugar, honey or molasses), to about 1 tbs per serving and make up the balance with stevia in powder or liquid form. I used to absolute hate the stuff until my friend Matthew introduced me to KAL's products which don't have any aftertaste at all.

One thing I remember from the Holidays of my childhood is my mom always having a platter of cookies lying about. I somehow managed to whip up 5 different kinds with Diane's precious help, but boy, was it ever a lot of work! Below you can see Orange Spritz Cookies from Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook on the left/bottom (very, very yummy! Almost like shortbread...), Roll Out Cookies from Beth Hillson's Gluten-Free Makeovers at the top (nothing special) and Snickerdoodles also from Cybele Pascal on the right (OK but a little dry).


The most fun part was of course decorating Cybele's little Gingerbread people with Diane. We had a total blast!


Bette has a low sugar version of Confectioner's Sugar made with milk powder substitute and tapioca starch which turned out to be a life saver for making icing.

 

 

Meet our Gingerbread Babies. Pay particular notice to my 'Alien' one in the top row, and Diane's 'Avon Woman and Man' at the bottom. He he


Also, my Devilish Gingerbread Bear at the top and my Pirate at the bottom. The only problem with making Gingerbread People is that they're so cute you don't want to eat them afterwards. But eat them we did and they were super delish: spicy and moist.


Since I often end up with extra egg yolks from Bette's breads, one of my fave ways to use them is to make a simple Vanilla Custard on the stove. I've come up with a slightly more elegant rendition in which I add melted coconut oil and lecithin to the custard and serve it on a gluten-free Graham Cracker Crust. Need I say more?



I was all excited to find a silicon tube pan on sale just before Christmas and could hardly wait to use it. Unfortunately I've had a few duds in my gluten-free cake experiments, but I was rewarded with this Zucchini Bundt Cake from Bette's More From The Gluten-Free Gourmet. It rose really well and was very moist. The only booboo I made was to forget to add stevia to the batter (ooops!) so it was seriously short on the sweet side. This was easily remedied, though, with a couple of shakes of stevia powder for me and a drizzle of extra maple syrup for Don and Diane.


I must stay away from flax or any other type of seeds, therefore I can't eat any type of raw crackers. And so I've been experimenting with gluten-free breads. It's been a rather long and bumpy road as baking without gluten is definitely an art that I have yet to master. Thankfully, Bette Hagman has once again come to the rescue with her The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread - a must have for anyone interested in the subject. She shares dozens and dozens of bread recipes, using a variety of home made gluten-free flour blends. Every single breads I've made from her book has turned out fabulously well (except for the odd mistake on my part due to the oven being too hot or taking the bread out before it's ready.) In fact, after picking this book up at my local library I was so impressed with Bette's recipes that I proceeded to order all of her other books (you can buy them used on Amazon for super cheap!) Two of my favorite breads actually come from Bette's earlier works.

Tapioca Bread from The Gluten-Free Gourmet


This turned out to be the lightest and closest in both texture and flavor to regular wheat bread of all the gluten-free recipes I've tried so far!


I made some of the dough into dinner rolls. Simply sublime served warm with a dollop of homemade Coconut Vegan Butter.


Old Fashioned Potato Bread from The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy.

 

As was to be expected, two weeks went by waaaay too fast! Before we knew it it was already time to say goodbye to Diane at the airport. Once again we were looked after as her flight took off without a hitch. In a recent email Diane confided that it was "the best vacation/Holiday I remember ever having." Yay! ;-)



I hope that you too had a fabulous Holiday Season and that the New Year has begun on a positive note for you all! 

A Brief Health Update
Before I go, I'd like to say just a few words about how things are looking for me health wise. I've managed to remain mostly pain free for the last few weeks by carefully sticking to those ingredients that I know are considered 'safe'. However I continue to experience symptoms and can feel that something is still getting in the way of my gut truly healing. Since I've run out of options in dealing with it myself through diet or natural remedies and, quite frankly, after some 13 months I have totally run out of energy, I will be going ahead with the colonoscopy exam scheduled for January 27th. While I don't intend to necessarily follow the Western medicine approach (it will largely depend on what measures are recommended, of course), I'm hoping that the scope will at least shed some light on what's really happening in there. *fingers crossed*

Will you hold me in your prayers and hearts so that it all goes smoothly?

I'll be keeping you posted on the results as soon as I can...