Week Seven – My Love for Baking

When I started the six week program I thought that going gluten-free would actually be difficult. For me and my needs, turns out, it’s not all that challenging. It requires a little organization and planning, especially when you’re dining out. Once I set out on my journey I began finding so many gluten-free blogs. You’ll find many of my new favorites in my blog roll. A great deal of GF bloggers showcase baked goods and these bakers have mastered the science of baking and substituting gluten-free flours for the traditional ingredients. I’m not sure how good I’ll be at transforming a large stack of recipes I have saved, but I’m willing to take on the challenge. First I am relying on those who have already blazed the path so I can learn about all the different flours and discover my own preferences.

I purchased my first gluten-free baking book earlier this year and tried a couple of recipes. All the recipes only used almond flour. I didn’t like any of the results. The end products were too crumbly and the almond flavor overpowered the other ingredients. I won’t even share the author or title. The book is now on the shelves of some Goodwill. The second book I purchased was Easy Gluten-Free Baking, by Elizabeth Barbone. I’ve mentioned this book when I made blueberry muffins, Day 26. This week I decided to try her Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie based off the infamous Toll House recipe.

 

 

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups white rice flour
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (I used tapioca starch)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened (I used Earth Balance butter – it’s what I had on hand)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (I used palm sugar)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (I used date sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life GF, soy free chocolate chips)

     

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time (I like to bake with my eggs at room temperature), mixing well between each addition. Add dry ingredients and vanilla; mix until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  4. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets, about 2″ apart.
  5. Bake first sheet for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Remove sheet from oven and place on a wire rack to cook, 3 to 5 minutes then transfer cookies directly onto rack to cool completely. While first sheet is cooling, bake the second sheet of cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

What I’ve discovered about gluten-free baked goods is they are better after they’ve been frozen. The good folks at New Cascadia Traditional Bakery taught me that when I bought my first loaf of gluten-free bread from them. I haven’t learned the science behind why freezing makes GF baked goods better, but I’ll share as soon as I find out.

My second recipe from this book and I think the results are quite good so far. These cookies were tasty. Half way through the baking process I peered into the oven and noticed they weren’t flattening out. I’m certain the Earth Balance was the reason. So I took them out and with the bottom of the glass flattened them. Perfect!

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Week Seven – My First Week with Dairy

Thanks for standing by, that was a much needed break. There’s a lot on my plate right now. I’ll catch you up. As you know the six weeks of elimination was a success. I did it! And along the way I noticed little changes here and there. I shared those changes in my post Day 29-31. There are still a lot of discoveries to be made and continual investigations as to what is causing certain symptoms. But first things first… I had to reintroduce dairy because I had missed it so much. I was so curious to see what would happen, how my body would react. Cheese! Is it a guilty pleasure? Nah… I don’t feel guilty about my love for cheese. I’d say it’s my mid-west upbringing, but doesn’t everyone love cheese? I’ve even heard vegetarians confess they can’t go vegan because they love cheese too much.

The first day of the week I woke up excited knowing dairy would be part of my diet that day. What would I make?

I made an individual pizza for dinner. Glutino’s gluten free crust, gluten-free tomato sauce, kalamata olives, spinach, and goat’s milk feta. I savored every bite. Mmmm, oh so good going down into my belly. Tasty! Fifteen minutes later my stomach up through my esophagus began to get angry and gurgle. Noooo… I can’t be lactose intolerant. It can’t be. My stomach wasn’t happy for most of the evening. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from trying other cheeses.

The next day I stuck to hard cheese – a nice pecorino-romano. Not bad, not bad. So, the rest of the week to took precaution and didn’t overdo my intake on dairy. I was so excited to have dairy back that I overlooked the reality that six weeks off might have an effect. The hard cheeses were fine on my stomach, but three days into the week I became irregular and my intestines became very tender to the touch.

I had an appointment with my naturopath that week and during the abdominal massage she could barely touch my large intestines. Her recommendation is to see a gastroenterologist. Now, I’m on the hunt for a good general practitioner. I had a fantastic doctor about six years ago and she transferred out of my network. I stuck with the clinic, but after three horrible doctors I decided it’s time to move on. The search has gone slow. Gratefully, along the way I did find an allopathic doctor as I’ve mentioned before. He helped me begin this investigative journey and provided some insight to my vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Then I found a fantastic new gynecologist who discovered the hypothyroid. So, now I’m back on the search to find a general that is willing to help me investigate my symptoms and provide referrals to good specialists. It’s not that easy, and it is frustrating isn’t it? The other challenge is my insurance which isn’t great. They pay for very little and my deductible is major.

If you live in Portland, and have a phenomenal doctor you’d recommend please let me know. I’d be ever so grateful.

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Outtakes from my journey

I’m taking a brief intermission. The journey of food and health continues, but I am in need of a little unplugging. I’m leaving you with some favorites I’ve taken along the way. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 41-44

Day 41-44. This is the final stretch of this six-week program. Day 44 is the final day! What now you ask? Well, I’m going to continue on this journey. The next steps are reintroducing foods.

Since I have missed dairy so much, it will be the first to be incorporated back into my diet. I’ll continue to stay off gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, but will slowly start eating dairy. When you google “Introducing dairy back into your diet” you get a lot of discussion boards with a lot of non-experts offering their opinions. I’m not sure how to approach the week other than just not go crazy on the first day back and try to eat a mild cheese that may not hurt. My research did uncover the fact that goat and sheep milk are the easiest to digest. Goat’s milk does not contain agglutinin like the milk of a cow. In laymen’s terms that means that goat’s milk does not coagulate, making it one of the reasons it’s easier to digest. Goat milk protein forms a softer curd, meaning fewer protein clumps in your stomach caused by the stomach acids and proteins dancing about. Now I’m getting all scientific on you. Goat’s milk contains less lactose. All of this makes total sense… so, I’ll start with goat or sheep milk products.

The gist of all of this is that I’m trying to discover if I have allergies, intolerance, or food hypersensitivity. I’ll try the foods first and if my reactions are radical, then they are kept in my journal, and I’m on to the next group of foods. When all said and done, based on my reactions, I will then be ready to meet with my primary care physician and have further tests done.

It’s a long and drawn out process, but necessary… quite an interesting and informative journey as well.

All that aside, I’m continuing on with my food styling and photography. Below I’ve taken more time to present you with simple, fresh cherry tomatoes two ways. I loved getting your opinions from my previous post. So many interesting takes on the types of photo styles, what draws you in, and makes your mouth water.

My food photography has come a long way in just a few weeks. See the before and after of a stir-fried rice dinner below.

On Day 22 I wrote about my wok and how excited I was to get it out after a long hiatus. The pictures I took that day were before I learned to set up my photography, take my time with the composition and light, and shoot it naturally. I made the same dish again on Day 44. Check out the before and after yourself. Aren’t you glad I decided to improve my craft? I am! What a HUGE difference.

AFTER

BEFORE

There’s been a few other reasons food styling and natural lighting photography has been beneficial to me. I want the food to look its best therefore I’m spending more time thinking about fresher, more wholesome food to make for us to eat. I spend time making it beautiful and that has affected my conscious eating. After I’m done photographing the food, and sit down to eat it, I appreciate the love I put into it, and the joy it brings creating a beautiful to photograph. I’m using smaller plates to make the scale of the food seem larger, so I’m actually eating less. That in combination of the conscious eating means I’m checking in more and noticing the triggers of my stomach being full. Big epiphanies and pluses for me!

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Day 36-40

Day 36-40. Tell me which one of the two photos makes your mouth water more and why? All this practice with food photos, I’m realizing that I need to have my eyes checked stat. I’ve got my lens on manual focus to make it easier to find the exposure and focal area. I’ve also been using my Rebel’s live view which makes it easier to work on the tripod and shoot from lower angles. However, when I look at the shot through the LCD screen I swear the shot looks focused. Then I upload them, and nope… not all of them are perfectly focused. Oh doctor, doctor. Or I could just remember to magnify my shot and check sharpness. Yes, still learning my camera and its functions a year and a half later.

So, tell me what’s more exciting, my food styling and photography, or my investigative journey with my diet?

Day 36-40 haven’t revealed too many new changes with my body. I think the most significant change is I just love how I feel after I eat. I don’t feel bloated. My gut isn’t angry. My conscious eating has kicked in as well, and I can sense the triggers of my stomach being fuller much sooner. I’m even eating smaller portions than when I started this journey. Day 40 I stepped on the scale and I’m down eight pounds and 5% BMI. This really incents me to get my feet in order so I can get moving, start sweating and working off the pounds.

Day 36 the temperature got to 98 degrees in Portland. Hot for us Portlanders. I grilled salmon and served it with an arugula, spinach, blueberry, jicama, and roasted golden beets salad with a lemon dressing. Oh my, that was a good salad. The salmon had a perfect smoke flavor and a good char. It was the perfect feast for a hot summer night.

One of the many things I love about Portland, when you attend most events you’ll find something that you can feast on. You meet a variety of diets when you socialize around this town. On day 37 I attended a baby shower and feasted on scrumptious black bean burgers (no bun, just lettuce and mustard), corn salad, and fruit salad with mint. I was happy that I wouldn’t be sitting amongst the other guests only eating one thing. I only wish the temperature had not been 97 degrees while we sat outside eating. Good thing we were all sweating together. Aside from the heat it was a lovely afternoon. I passed on the cake even though it was from Sweatpea Bakery an all-vegan bakery. I wasn’t sure if the flours were gluten-free, or if it was made with refined sugar. I’ll have to volunteer to make a GF, DF, alternative sugar cake for an event soon. I feel the urge to bake a delicious cake. Anyone in Portland celebrating a birthday or other event any time soon, and you want to be my guinea pig?

We’ll see if I have any takers. It will also give me an excuse to get my cake plate/stand props out for the photography. Speaking of props… ever since the workshop on Day 28 all I can think about are food props. I’ve snatched quite a few goodies in the last eleven days. Many of them from Etsy, like the tray under the blackberry dish. Prop collecting is going to be fun, and dangerous! But mostly fun.

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Day 32-35

Day 32-35. I continue to practice food styling and photography, and am now forcing myself to keep my 50mm 1.4 lens on my camera. It works great for the food (although a 100mm 5.6 lens is optimal and what I’m saving up to buy). The difficulty when shooting with the 50mm is that I have to continually remind myself to back up farther than I anticipate. The shot of grilled corn above would have had more clarity if I had moved the tripod back another few inches and still focused on the kernels on the right. The practice is also about using the tripod and turning off all the kitchen light sources. This is shot with natural light after 8pm. The challenge will come later this fall when the sun starts setting before dinner is prepared.

I’ve been grilling over the last few days because the temperatures are rising in the PacNW, and we are supposed to be in the high 90s later in the week. I don’t do well in extreme heat. I wilt. I get unhappy. I especially don’t like cooking. That’s when I break out the grill.

My feet are looking better once again. I saw my gynecologist last week and she confirmed that the inflammation might be my body adjusting to the thyroid medication, or it could hormonal. My feet have been behaving like this over the last year and this is the first time I’ve really focused on them and documented them every day. So much focus leads to investigation of patterns, and I’ve noticed the puffiness the time appeared before my menses. But I also walked some distance earlier in the week, without pain or cramping. I was so excited that day that I called Holly right away to inform her of my triumph. The next morning, sadly, they were puffy once again. The picture above was five days later. It could be some time before I can determine a true cause. We went to see the B-52s at the Portland Zoo. What a great time – my third time seeing them in concert. They played all my favorites. I must say that they sounded and looked terrific. It’s a long stroll from the concert area to the parking lot, and by the time we made it to the car both of my feet were cramping and hurting. I try to mask the pain most of the time around Josh, but that night I completely lost it. I broke down emotionally in front of our friends. My feet just disappoint me so much and make me feel so old. It’s the one thing in my life that truly depresses me. I’m trying to stay positive everyday because now I focus on them so much, but some days they just get the best of me.

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Day 29 -31

Day 29 – 31. When I started the Diabesity Prescription I was a bit shocked of all the vitamins and minerals recommended for daily intake. In February lab tests showed I had a vitamin B-12 deficiency as well as low iron in my tissues. Since then I’ve been taking B-12 and ferrous sulfate. The doctor said that the B-12 deficiency was probably causing most of the nerve damage in my left foot, creating more numbness than the effects of my herniated disc. For years I’ve been taking multivitamins, Omega-3 and Probiotic Acidophilus supplements for my angry gut and keep yeast infections at bay.

Are vitamins and minerals necessary? It’s been interesting research. Studies and trials of vitamins and minerals and their effects on the body show very little influence on health. Those vitamins and minerals that prove to be the most beneficial from research show fish oil and vitamin D, lowering the risk of heart disease. Over and over studies show people who eat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish consume higher levels of vitamins and minerals from these food sources. It’s common sense, right? You’ve heard it all your life and by studying the food pyramids. So why don’t we always make good choices for ourselves? Our society has become one of convenience. I’ll admit to falling into that convenience trap. My diet has not been balanced in these food groups for years. There’s a contradiction when you look in our fridge. It appeared to offer a mix of healthy foods, but I have been eating far too many simple carbohydrate foods that counteract the good foods. All the pastas, breads and processed alternative meats I’ve eaten have been wreaking havoc on my system. Of course, the stress over the last couple of years hasn’t helped, and I’m the first one to admit that my coping mechanism is food – milk chocolate to be exact. Oh right, chocolate isn’t really food.

The goal with the Diabesity Program is to find out which foods my body is now not able to tolerate, and focus on eating whole foods. My body is so unbalanced I feel a regime of pill popping every day is necessary to help get back in shape. Dr. Hyman provides a self-assessment test with the program. You take this before you start so he can offer recommendations based your assessments. Going through each category I was checking off loads of symptoms resulting in high scores. In the end I was categorized in the Advanced Plan, which he recommends additional supplements beyond the Basic Plan.

That results in a lot of supplements. Here’s our kitchen counter-top.

  • MetaGlycemX – for healthy insulin activity and glucose levels.
  • Omega-3 – supports healthy function in body systems including cardiovascular immune, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal.
  • Vitamin D3 – improves metabolism
  • Vitamin B-12 – helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
  • Alpha Lipoic – reduces blood sugar and heals a toxic liver. It can be helpful for healing nerve damage and neuropathy.
  • Calcium & Magnesium – Calcium increases insulin sensitivity. Magnesium helps glucose enter the cells and then helps that glucose get burned.
  • Probiotic Acidophilus – recommended for repopulating the micro flora in the bowel.
  • Co Q-10 – helps lower fasting insulin and glucose level, and improves blood pressure. May also slow aging.
  • Green Tea – can increase fat burning and metabolism. I put a heaping teaspoon of green tea matcha powder in my smoothies.
  • Fiber pills – to help digestion. From my recent post, you know I’ll take all the help I can get.
  • Protein Powder – anti-inflammatory properties and support detoxification. It helps balance your blood sugar too. I’ve been using brown rice protein powder.
  • Levothyroxine
    – medication for hypothyroidism.

Friends have been asking what changes I’m starting to notice in my body. Frankly, there aren’t many and the few changes have been subtle.

  • Edema – the most significant change, I’m not as puffy.
  • Sugar cravings – so much better than before.
  • Headaches – I don’t get them as often.
  • Concentration/focus and memory. A slight improvement, I feel the brain fog has dissipated.
  • Depression – I don’t feel as depressed.
  • Constipation or diarrhea – Regularity of bowel movements which as you know I celebrate!
  • Soft, cracking, brittle nails and ridges – The ridges on my fingernails are starting to disappear and my nails are stronger.
  • Strange white patterns on my tongue. My tongue is starting to have a consistent coating, instead of the white patches. After I brush it twice a day it appears normal, but a few bumps.
  • Chronic yeast infections – so far so good.
  • Skin rashes – improved, but get worse during my cycle.
  • Bad acne on face and scalp – improved, but my scalp still gets bad during my cycle.

What hasn’t changed all that much?

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic stress
  • Muscle fatigue, pain or weakness and cramping
  • Aching and stiffness in joints
  • Itching skin
  • Burning eyes
  • Thinning hair
  • Sensitive to cold
  • Numbness in my left foot (caused by L-5 herniation) worsening. When I try to walk or exercise my toes, feet, and calves cramp badly.

My feet are still the big mystery, and until I figure them out they keep me from being aerobically active. It’s so frustrating. I know if I’m active I’ll be losing more weight. And I want to lose more weight!  My feet got better, then got worse, then got better, and on Day 31 below, they are swollen and in pain again.


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