Maintenance Required

The question this week has been, how do I give others the maintenance perspective. I came from the same mind frame of traditional medicine. Once a year is enough. Get the physical, and whatever checkups are required. No need to do anything not covered by insurance, especially since I was healthy. Now that I am on the other side of the fence with my health maintenance, I can’t imagine climbing back over that fence.

Imagine if you lived in a house or an apartment for several years. In that time, you never vacuumed or dusted. You never made an effort to put anything away. Maybe occasionally you cleaned a toilet or washed a few dishes. What would that house look like? With the passing of time, that house would look pretty bad. Aren’t our bodies more important than a house? We can’t buy another one or move out of the one we have. A maintenance or improvement perspective is what we should have about our bodies. Just like an oil change or servicing your car, your body needs to be serviced. If we don’t do the maintenance, over time, we will experience the cost exponentially.

For years, I thought, why spend the money? If I am “healthy,” why go to the doctor? In the “health culture” that we live in today, it is imperative to fight against those thoughts. The excuse of “I am getting older, that’s why my health is declining” has to stop. I thought the same thing at 40. “Am I now old?” Is that why I am in so much pain? If I stopped at that mindset, I would be unemployed and in bed by now. Much of my life would have changed if I would have stopped there. I was not only in a lot of pain, but my mental health was fragile. Candida overgrowth would have taken over my life. If you read my older blogs, you can see all the health issues I was dealing with and the challenges I faced.

Instead, I was desperate for answers. I started with my primary doctor which led to a bunch of tests. All the tests came back normal. I was put on prescription antifungals with the only diagnosis of potentially having fibromyalgia. The antifungals were losing their potency over time. My vaginal yeast infection frequency was increasing. I was exhausted, in pain, and losing hope. I went on a Candida diet with the help of a friend even though my primary doctor didn’t recommend it. I was getting positive results but stopped too early.

When the Candida symptoms started coming back, I reached out to a chiropractor/nutritionist who wasn’t going to band-aid my symptoms. I found someone who was going to search for the root problem and continue treating any other problems that came up. She was going to help me manage a diet that would heal me, and give me nutritional supplements based on whole foods that would help my body support healing itself. This is much different than being put on a prescription drug for life that leads to terrible side effects. You know what I am talking about…. the fine print on your prescription medications. How about those commercials where at the end, they say they might cause death, explosive diarrhea, or heart problems? What!? Tell me, which path would you rather travel? Sometimes prescriptions are necessary, don’t get me wrong. As a culture, though, are we reaching for those as a last resource or as a quick fix to our problem? There are many health ramifications for this that we don’t consider because it is so widely accepted. I was no exception to this until I was terribly sick with Candida. I learned that everything we take in, will either encourage good health or bad health. It starts with the balance of our gut bacteria. If we eat poorly and medicate regularly, our good bacteria in our gut will diminish. In the absence of that good bacteria, the bad bacteria will multiply and take up the space our good bacteria left behind. The longer this problem gets ignored, the more inflammation our bodies endure. Soon, we experience all kinds of symptoms, leading to the decline of our immune system and opening the gateway for all kinds of illnesses. The foundation of good or bad health is built in the gut. It all starts there. We can change it for the better or worse every day. Two great books about this topic that I highly recommend are Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe and The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health by Erica Sonnenburg and Justin Sonnenburg

Whether or not you are suffering from chronic pain or an illness, body maintenance is required for better health. Depending on the person, maintenance may be weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. In addition to exercising 5 days per week at a level that is appropriate to how I am feeling, I visit my chiropractor/nutritionist for an adjustment once per month to keep my body and immune system functioning optimally. When I was at the height of my sickness, I went every two weeks for nutrition only, focusing on muscle testing. This helped to see if I was battling parasites, bacteria, viruses, food sensitivities, or toxic overload. It also showed me what organs were being temporarily weakened. I spent many months doing that before I started chiropractic treatments. If new issues come up now, I do muscle testing to help discover what’s going on and how to solve those problems. This has made a huge difference in my life. If I would have had that maintenance perspective sooner, I would not have had to endure all this. Prevention is the best medicine. Regular maintenance prevents the bigger problems from occurring. On the contrary, the longer you let illnesses take hold, the more drastic your treatments may be and consequently, more expensive.

I hope you will consider seeing a functional medicine doctor to keep your health in check. One that will encourage your body to heal itself. One that will treat your root problems, not just symptoms. Someone you trust and build a relationship with is best, so you both come up with a healthy unique maintenance plan that changes as you do.

 

Food Is Medicine

The past couple of weeks have been going pretty well. I have been almost free of Candida symptoms. I have been keeping my diet strict with no carbs, no dairy, no sugar. Occasionally I will enjoy some berries or ½ green apple as those fruits have the lowest sugar content.

The last issue I remember blogging about was the bloating. It seems to happen every couple of weeks. My gut begins to extend outward until I look about 4 months pregnant. I have seen the chiropractor/nutritionist and my regular doctor. The chiropractor/nutritionist gave me a digestive enzyme to help my gall bladder break down fats, bile, and toxins. During my last visit, she said my digestion is getting better, but I still need the help of the enzyme. My regular doctor couldn’t find anything. I have been keeping a food journal again to see if I can recognize any food patterns that can be linked with this issue. Along with writing down my food and drinks, I write how I feel that day, bowel movements, gut measurements, and anything unusual. Out of the 2 weeks I have been doing this, I am still not sure that any food sensitivity is causing this. The bloating hasn’t been nearly as bad since I started keeping the journal. I will try a little longer, and I should probably keep track of my hours of sleep as well. The amount of sleep I get affects digestion as well.

It is so beneficial to have a functional medicine doctor. Functional medicine involves treating the whole individual and not just symptoms. “Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., known as “the father of functional medicine,” explains it this way: ‘We need to move beyond asking what drug will treat the symptoms, and instead ask what mechanism creates altered neurochemical or neurobiological function or systemic physiological change.’”

Sometimes, aliments are not detectable by regular medical testing. I was so frustrated when I was struggling and no one could help me. All the tests were coming back normal and yet I felt like a walking zombie with chronic pain. Something had to be wrong. Thank God, I was finally able to see someone who could identify the problem. It has been invaluable to see the chiropractor/nutritionist not only for the first diagnosis, but also handle any other issues that pop up. We use food and natural supplements as medicine.

I really think our culture needs to change its attitude toward food if we want to change our health trajectory. Food is medicine. Over time, our bodies will either give out from being fed poor nutrients over the years or they will be sustained and fight illnesses that come our way. It’s not about length of life necessarily, but about the quality of life.

Mung beans are a great medicine food. You can read about mung bean health benefits here: https://draxe.com/mung-beans-nutrition/ I found a great recipe that the kids even love. You can add more seasoning as desired.

Avocado and Bio-Mung Bean Hummus

http://www.shashabread.com/recipes

Ingredients:

Bio-Bud mung beans washed, fully drained, and cooked

  • 2 medium ripe avocados, cored and peeled
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving if desired
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ½ Tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1/2Tsp and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2Tsp freshly ground cumin
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves

Directions:

Add Bio-Bud mung beans, olive oil, tahini, lime juice, and garlic in a food processor until smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I did a scant 1/2 tsp. salt and about 1/8 tsp. pepper), add cumin and avocados and pulse mixture until smooth and creamy, about 1 – 2 minutes longer. Serve topped with more olive oil and sprinkle with cilantro and red pepper flakes or you can also blend the cilantro along with the other ingredients.

If you are trying to adhere to a Candida or low carb diet, serve with raw vegetables. Jicama is amazing with hummus. It has so many health benefits. You can read more about Jicama’s health benefits here: https://draxe.com/jicama/ I also love snap peas with this.

Enjoy!

The Gluten-Freeway

Gluten, what’s all the fuss? That question had been on my mind for a while. I knew many people suffered from Celiac or gluten sensitivities, but what about people not suffering with these issues? Does gluten have an impact on our health and why? You can read more about gluten here: https://draxe.com/whats-the-deal-with-gluten/

Apparently, gluten slows down the absorption of valuable nutrients in the gut and also increases gut permeability. When gut permeability is increased, meaning particles can more easily move in and out of the intestine, undigested food particles and bad bacteria can get out. The body then attacks these “foreign invaders”, leading to inflammation, pain, and the overtaxing of the immune system. Too much gut permeability leads to “leaky gut.” You can read more about leaky gut here: https://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/

There are many gluten-free flours that I make at home. With my Ninja blender, it is easy to make quinoa flour, gluten-free oatmeal flour, any kind of nut flour, buckwheat flour, garbanzo bean flour, etc. I just choose the ingredient and put it in the blender. I let it blend until the granules get small enough. I could buy flours at the store, but I like to know what is going into the flour and how fresh the ingredients are. Lately, I have been sticking with almond flour and cashew flour because of my struggles with Candida. If I have to store any flours, I put them in the freezer. There is one type of flour I consistently buy and that is organic coconut flour. I have not tried making that yet. I also like to sift my nut flours right before they go into the recipe to help create less dense baking products.

While we are on the subject of nut flours, did you know you can make your own nut butters? I use raw cashews for cashew butter, but raw sunflower seeds make very bitter sunflower butter. I tend to use roasted sunflower seeds and look for ones that do not have GMO oils added to them. I make nut butters by grinding the nuts as I would in order to make flour, but letting them stay in the blender longer. Once I see some oils forming at the bottom of the blender, I start to add some organic olive oil 1 TBL at a time. You want to add this slowly so you don’t end up with a watery nut butter. Add as much as necessary for the desired consistency. Let it grind for a couple of minutes in between adding additional oil so you can assess whether more is needed. I also add a little Himalayan pink salt to taste. Homemade butters are much tastier than store- bought butters. I store all nut butters in the refrigerator to avoid mold. Mold is not always detectable by the naked eye. I store all nuts in the freezer as well for the same reason. Mold is especially harmful to the Candida sufferer.

Another nut product that is rewarding to make is almond milk. I never realized how much other ingredients manufacturers put in almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk. In fact, the only coconut milk I found with just organic coconut milk, and water was at Trader Joe’s. It comes in a can. The full-fat version is the best for health. It can be a little chunky from the fat, so mixing it or blending it is best.

Almond milk recipe:

Ingredients:

1 part almond

2 parts water

Cheese cloth

Pure vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Soak almonds for at least 8 hours. (Almonds will get plump. You can replace the water after 4 hours by straining and rinsing almonds.)
  2. Strain and rinse almonds one final time.
  3. Put almonds in a blender with 2 parts of fresh water.
  4. Blend for a couple of minutes until the almonds are ground into small particles.
  5. Pour a little at a time into cheese cloth and squeeze into a storage container. The milk will squeeze out.
  6. Put the ground almond bits that are in the cheesecloth onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. These can either be baked slowly at 250 or laid out in a glass container to air dry. This can be used later for almond flour. Store in the freezer after it dries. If it clumps up, you can always put it in the blender for a minute to grind before using.
  7. Once you are done squeezing all the milk out, add vanilla if you would like and shake.
  8. Almond milk will last about a week, so keep that in mind when you decide how much to make.

Finding Hope During The Candida Crisis

When I first embarked on this health journey, I naively thought this was temporary. Once I was healed from Candida, I was going to go back to my old life. If I worked hard enough, I could manage this.

I was listening to a message at church a couple of weeks ago, I was overwhelmed at what I heard. “This life is preparation for eternity.” What does it look like to live this life in preparation for eternity? Living my life in light of eternity reminds me that this is only temporary. I saw an illustration of a really long rope on a spool, being uncoiled down the aisle. The very end of the rope, maybe 2 inches, was wrapped in tape that the minister was holding onto. The taped part represented our time here on Earth and all the rest of the rope represented our time in eternity. Then he shook the rope from the taped part signifying that each action on the taped part ripples through eternity. Each action will lead to reward or regret in eternity. “The only suffering I will have to go through happens on the short, taped part of the rope.”

You can listen to the message if you would like: http://desertwindscc.org/filerequest/2725.mp3

I have been so wrapped up in my “defeat” or regression. It happens, but I have to remember that I have been called for a purpose. Without this illness, I would not have been able to help many people. I need to remember to rejoice in my suffering. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Rom 8:18

I was driving to work three weeks ago, praying “Lord, please heal me.” In my desperation, that’s all I could repeat. In the silence, I heard “in your weakness, I am strong.” I kept thinking what does this mean for me? Am I always going to struggle with this affliction?  I looked up scripture that coincides with this. The apostle Paul repeatedly asked the Lord to heal him. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

This is painful, but also hopeful. Facing sickness and not knowing the end time is difficult. Remembering that I was created for eternity where there will be no sickness or pain is an encouragement. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”—that’s where I want to be! That is where you can be too.

I hope today, we can look beyond the pain. We can look towards eternity. I will continue to teach or share as much as I can through this blog, but in essence, this is all fluff compared to His glory. It is important for me to do my part, but His part is where the magic enters my story. The healing is in His hands and for His purposes.

Lower Your Toxic Load With 6 HBA Recipes

Imagine your skin as a sponge, soaking up what you touch, to some extent.  Now imagine the harsh chemicals absorbing into your body. When we use harsh chemicals repeatedly, there are consequences whether or not they are apparent today or several years from now.

When I was growing up, I remember the concern about aluminum in deodorant. I also didn’t like the idea of plugging up my body with antiperspirants, but there didn’t seem to be an alternative for women. As I got older, I used All-Spice deodorant because it didn’t have aluminum. It didn’t have a female fragrance, but I considered it a trade-off for a better alternative.

After suffering from Candida, I have been researching more items to make at home that will eliminate or lower my toxic load. This is important to contribute to better health and sickness prevention overall.

I was skeptical about homemade deodorant, but it does work. I used lemon essential oil for its mood-boosting properties. I also love lemon. It was like “icing my armpits” with lemon frosting. Not as much pressure is needed to apply. I put it in old deodorant containers after making a batch. It “melts” into my skin as I apply it. The only downside is I sometimes get white powder on my shirt when I get dressed. It can be wiped off with a damp cloth. With the use of this new deodorant, I have noticed that my armpits aren’t as sensitive or itchy as they used to be.

Homemade Deodorant:

https://draxe.com/homemade-deodorant/

Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 30-90

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 40-60 drops essential oils – Choice of Scents
  • [Scent recommendations: Female oils scents (lavender, lemon, and sage) Male oils scents (cypress, rosemary, and bergamot)]
  • Empty deodorant containers

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put coconut oil in bowl
  2. Mix in baking soda
  3. Add in essential oils
  4. Store in a deodorant container or in a glass jar

I have also been researching essential oils and their benefits. Not only can essential oils be applied to the body when mixed with a carrier oil, but they can also replace bathroom sprays. It is important to buy quality organic essential oils. Purchase dark glass spray bottles for air fresheners. They preserve the oils the best. I keep one in the car as well. Here is the basic recipe I use.

DIY Air Freshener Spray:

http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/06/homemade-air-fresheners.html

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup water(I use tap water, but distilled is fine too)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, rubbing alcohol, or real vanilla extract
  • essential oil combinations (5-10 drops of each oil, depending on preference)

Combine in an 8oz spray bottle or break it up into several smaller spray bottles, shake well, and spray as needed.

You will find other fragrance combinations here: http://calmfulliving.com/project/make-your-own-aromatherapy-room-spray/

I found a great body wash from Dr. Axe. I use a BPA free plastic foaming container.

Homemade Body Wash:

Total Time: 2 minutes

Serves: 30

https://draxe.com/homemade-body-wash/

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup liquid Castille soap
  • 30 drops lavender oil, chamomile or geranium essential oils
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E
  • 2 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • BPA free plastic lotion dispenser or glass bottle with dispenser

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix ingredients until smooth and store in 8 oz plastic bottle.

This homemade body lotion seems more like a body butter. It has done wonders for my dry feet that used to be cracked, dry elbows, flaky stomach, and overall dry skin. I sometimes use different essential oils like peppermint to improve the scent. It is best to be patient and allow the beeswax to melt completely. After solidifying in the refrigerator, it is beneficial to whip it thoroughly in order to enjoy a lighter product. Use conservatively when applying as a little goes a long way.

Homemade Frankincense and Myrrh Lotion:

https://draxe.com/homemade-frankincense-myrrh-lotion/

Total Time: 90 minutes

Serves: 30

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 1/4 cup shea butter
  • 2 tbsp vitamin E
  • 20 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 20 drops myrrh essential oil
  • BPA free plastic lotion dispenser bottles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter in a glass bowl then place that bowl in a saucepan with water.
  2. Heat stove to medium and mix ingredients together.
  3. Once mixed put in refrigerator for an hour until solid.
  4. With a regular mixer or hand mixer beat the mixture until it is whipped and fluffy. Then add essential oils and vitamin E and mix.
  5. Fill container and store in cool place.

Homemade Hand Soap:

https://draxe.com/homemade-hand-soap/

Total Time: 2 minutes

Serves: 30-60

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix soap and water. Add in oils and mix.
  2. Pour into the dispenser.

Hand Soap 2:

https://draxe.com/castile-soap/

Another option is to fill a foaming soap dispenser with 3/4 boiled or distilled water and ¼ liquid Castile soap. You can add 5 drops of tea tree essential oil for its antibacterial properties and lavender oil for its fragrant and relaxing scent. I like putting this one in a BPA free plastic foaming dispenser as well.

My goal is to always encourage the good bacteria in my body while maintaining cleanliness. Most hand soap today has become anti-bacterial. This kills the good bacteria on our hands along with the bad bacteria. When it comes to gut health, I want to make sure my HBA decisions are affecting it in a positive way. Lowering my toxic load by making my own products is a great way to do that. I hope this gives you lots of healthy alternatives.

 

Riding The Candida Wave

This was my journal entry I started Monday morning: “After a few weeks of tightening up on the Candida diet, increasing supplements, and a stress decrease, I have made progress. I realized this morning I have not been waking up with a sore throat the past few days. I also realized the pain in my right wrist is gone. Sometimes, I don’t realize the progress I have made right away. It’s usually the absence of pain/inflammation somewhere in the body that reminds me of how well I am doing. Candida can look like arthritis, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, back problems, fibromyalgia, or sinus problems. It just kicks up inflammation in multiple spots of the body. If you are unaware that you have Candida overgrowth, you will be chasing after all these symptoms, trying to ‘put out the fires’ in your body. No treatment will be effective until properly diagnosed and treated holistically.”

By Tuesday night, my body started to take a turn. After getting home from taking my kids to robotics class and running errands, I cleaned our bathrooms. When I went into the kitchen and saw the pile of dishes and messy state, I was overwhelmed. The question of “what’s for dinner?” from family members was especially frustrating. I started saying, “I can’t do this.” My daughter immediately said, “I will clean the kitchen.” I marveled at how soon she responded. I told her that that was great, but I also didn’t know how I was going to cook. I was so tired. I felt like I could fall asleep as I was standing there. She offered to cook too. I was thinking it over. I felt bad for her to do it all, so I offered to order and pick up Mexican food down the street.

After I got to the restaurant and ordered my food to-go, I had time to sit there and think. I just wanted to cry. I recognized my fragile mental state was Candida-related, but I was still overwhelmed. I was not only overwhelmed with my current list of things to do, but also with my body’s health state. How did things change for the worse? I was getting better. I couldn’t pinpoint any stressful event or anything I ate that would have triggered a negative response. That made me even more upset.

By Thursday afternoon, I was experiencing pre-yeast infection symptoms. I started my bath treatments. ¼ C. raw apple cider vinegar with the mother and warm water. I began to think of the recurring cycle. Did it follow any patterns? Sometimes I have ignored the beginning symptoms, hoping it would not amount to anything. It seemed like the last couple of times I relapsed, it started with brain fog and an unstable emotional state followed exhaustion. Then came the pre-yeast infection symptoms followed by pain or inflammation in the body.

Now I recognize the cycle. What’s next? I am honestly not sure. I am grateful to have an appointment with my chiropractor/nutritionist this week to see what advice she has for me. For now, I have to continue doing what I know is best. My no carb, no sugar, no caffeine, no dairy diet with increased probiotics and herbal antifungals is the way to encourage healing. I also think I have to be careful to have variety. It is easy to eat the same kind of food over and over, but I am sure it is best to have variety.  My go-to is nuts. I love cashews and almonds, but I can easily overdo it and miss out on the nutrients I could be getting from organic vegetables. Balancing my diet is key to success. I also delegated more at work this week to lighten my stress load.

I found a new recipe this week. This was a delicious surprise. I am adding this in closing to cheer myself up. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Chocolate Coconut Muffins:

https://paleobreakfast.com/recipe/chocolate-coconut-muffins/

Ingredients

Instructions

(I did not let the ingredients stand as the recipe states. I added a little almond milk as the recipe seemed a little dry. I patted them gently into “hamburger patty” shapes as this helps them hold together. I placed these in a ceramic muffin tin greased with unrefined coconut oil and baked them right away. I omitted the coconut sugar. It makes 6 muffins.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flours with the cocoa, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut oil with the honey and eggs until well combined.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and let stand for 5 minutes. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin or use paper liners.
  4. Sprinkle with the coconut sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Working Through Gluten-Free/No Carb

I always thought the villainization of carbs was overdramatic. When I read Flat Belly Diabetes Diet a few years ago, it seemed like a good balance. I still think it’s a great diet. I actually lost weight and felt really energized. It taught me a lot about the psychology of eating. The only downside to it was the recommended processed foods, but I always substituted processed foods for homemade. It brought my calorie count down, bad fats down, and my husband’s cholesterol down. The whole family was actually on this diet, or style of eating until I learned I had Candida.

After learning I had Candida overgrowth, it felt like the world was caving in. I had so much new information, not only on the details of my condition, but also on the new diet I was supposed to be on. Much of the information I had discovered about “healthy eating” was about to change. I had to cut carbs completely. At first, the changes were overwhelming. Honestly, any diet change can be. I’ve been through this a couple of times. Making those changes are emotional and stressful. The first phase of the ultimate candida diet is detoxing. You can find the diet here: https://www.thecandidadiet.com/ultimate-candida-diet/  There are many candida diets. Choose one that works for you and stick to it. The detoxing phase was challenging because I could only eat a list of primarily greens, a few other vegetables, and eggs. I felt positive physical results within a couple of days. Even though I struggled to stick to it, I could see the benefits.

After the detoxing, you go on to the next phase of the diet. This includes a lot more choices. It got easier over time, not only because there were more choices, but also because my brain started to adapt to the whole concept. I also learned what foods personally affected my health in a negative way and others that benefitted me.

In general, cooking gluten-free was a challenge for me. I used to enjoy whole wheat muffins, banana bread, open-faced sandwiches, or whole wheat pancakes with fruit and nuts. At first, I tried to “replace” my tried and true recipes with gluten-free alternatives. When I had that mindset, it was harder to enjoy those things. They taste nothing like the gluten alternative. My kids didn’t like it either.

Now, I have learned that I don’t always need a replacement. Eating vegetables and nuts or well-seasoned meat is more enjoyable than eating a coconut bread sandwich with chicken salad on it. Instead of replacing muffins I used to make, exploring new recipes were better. There was no expectation when I never had it before. This worked so much better.

Cooking gluten-free has other challenges. Sometimes the texture is off. Having Candida, I can’t be adding sugar either. It is double challenging finding gluten-free, sugar-free recipes. I have stumbled across a couple ideas to improve my recipes. One thing I learned was when I kept the mixed dry ingredients in one bowl and kept the mixed wet ingredients in another bowl until the very last minute, the recipe had a softer texture. I made sure the glass or ceramic baking pan was well-greased with coconut oil. Then I mixed wet and dry ingredients together, put it in the pan right away, and baked it. I think the gluten-free flours suck up all the moisture otherwise which led to a drier denser product. I also learned that “sifting” the almond flour takes away some density from your finished product as well. I rub my homemade almond flour through a mesh strainer into the dry ingredients bowl. Even though I buy my coconut flour, and flax meal, I try to make most of my other flours. I also avoid gluten-free processed foods because there’s usually a lot of sugar or unidentifiable ingredients in those. On a side note, I happened to read an article about mercury and arsenic levels being linked to gluten-free diets. The findings were based on people eating a lot of processed rice products. Since rice pulls mercury and arsenic out of the soil, people eating large amounts were having high levels of mercury and arsenic in their urine or blood. It just further proves that staying away from processed foods is best. Then it is easier to regulate how much rice or other foods you are getting and be able to identify your ingredients.

IMG_20170228_073024[1] “sifting” almond flour

I’d like to close with a delicious gluten-free recipe I have been enjoying. I use the gluten tips I just mentioned.

Lemon Berry Coconut Muffins:

http://myheartbeets.com/lemon-berry-coconut-flour-muffins/

Author: Ashley Thomas

Serves: 14 muffins (I get 12 out of this)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk (coconut milk or almond milk will work)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or melted ghee (I use organic butter)
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (raw, local honey is always a great alternative)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries, pureed (I use fresh pureed blackberries or blueberries)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the coconut flour and baking soda to a bowl and mix well. (Remember, I keep wet and dry ingredients separate until ready to bake. It comes out totally different.)
  3. Add the non-dairy milk, eggs, maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, and oil to the bowl and using a hand mixer, mix until well combined and smooth. As you continue to mix, the batter will thicken.
  4. Pour the batter into silicone baking cups. (I use a greased ceramic muffin pan)
  5. Drop a teaspoon of the berry puree on top of each muffin. Using a knife, make a twirly design.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, serve.