PALEO CARROT CAKE COOKIES

Paleo carrot cake cookies, gluten free, dairy free, grain free cookies made from almond pulp left over from homemade almond milk. 

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These paleo carrot cake cookies were born out of the fact that I hate to waste anything!  My wonderful husband has recently started making us homemade almond milk every week from the recipe found on the blog Against All Grain, and I have started trying to find ways to use the almond pulp you are left with.  After the last experiment of turning the almond pulp into grainless maple cinnamon granola  (which I would say was very successful!) I decided to continue treating it as oats in a recipe, since the textures are similar.  I’m only three weeks in on my new paleo lifestyle and the sugary cravings I would once give into are in full force, so I decided to try to turn the almond pulp into something that only seems indulgent, and still follows the paleo guidelines.  I was unsure of how these would turn out, but I’m happy to say they are the perfect marriage of healthy cookie and delicious carrot cake!

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups of dried almond pulp (if you don’t have almond pulp, just send 1 and 1/2 cups of almonds through a food processor until coarsely ground)

3/4 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup dairy free/soy free chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup maple syrup

pinch of salt

To dry almond pulp:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place almond pulp on a parchment lined cookie sheet, spread out in an even layer, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Turn oven up to 325 degrees.

Combine dried almond pulp, chopped pecans, grated carrots, chocolate chips, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and an egg.  Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir until completely combined.

Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for a half an hour.

Once chilled, pack the cookie dough into a tablespoon and drop onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with coconut oil cooking spray (flatten the top of the dough out a little bit).  Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before storing (that is if you don’t eat them all off the cookie sheet as they’re cooling!) Enjoy!

 

Makes 20 cookies.

 

 

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM HEALING MEAL PLAN WRAP UP!

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Well I’m officially done with my digestive system healing diet, similar to the GAPs Intro Diet, as of today! Days six and seven went pretty well, Saturday I stuck to bone broth and soup until dinner, which was a cookout, where I had a grilled bison filet and mashed butternut squash. My stomach has been feeling great, I’ve gone a week without heartburn and the bloating and inflammation in my gut is gone! I’m still making food choices that are gentle on my stomach, staying away from dairy, alcohol, caffeine and raw fruits and vegetables. I’m beginning to think that any whole grains put a bit of strain on my digestive system, so I’m keeping those to a minimum as well.

A few pointers:

-Since you are discouraged from using a microwave, while stove-less at work I would run my broth, which I stored in mason jars,  under the hottest water possible to heat it.

-I used digestive bitters every day.  I would put like 20 drops into 8 ounces of water and drink it two or three times a day. This helped me get through cravings A LOT.  I got mine from Mockingbird Meadows, Dawn is amazing if you have any questions!

-Don’t beat yourself up if you cheat on the meal plan, you’re human! Just get back on the wagon and do better!

 

Just in case you think there’s no way possible I changed this much in a week, take a look at my results:

 

Before I was so bloated and inflamed, I feel like I looked about 3 months pregnant.  After I have a flat, happy, healthy tummy!

 

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I’m going to be changing how I have been eating to a more clean, whole foods, no dairy (almost vegan) diet and the recipes on my blog will start to reflect that, but don’t worry, I’ll throw in the occasional indulgence from time to time!

MIXED BERRY CHOCOLATE PAVLOVAS

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How perfect are these for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend?! Light and fluffy bowls of delicious chocolate air filled with whipped cream and berries, they just taste like summer! Not to mention they aren’t a lot of work but the result is very impressive.

Ingredients:

For The Meringue Bowls:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then begin adding sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until stiff peaks form; mix in cocoa powder.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon meringue onto parchment and spread out into individual bowl shapes (I make about 6 bowls). Place in oven, and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Meringues should look dry and cracked on the outside, but not much darker than when you started. Allow to cool in the oven completely. (Meringues can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.)

For The Whipped Cream:
*For best results place the whisk and mixing bowl in the freezer until chilled, and use very cold cream.

1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp sugar

Whip cream until peaks start to form, add sugar and vanilla and mix until stiff.

Once meringues are cooled completely, top with fresh whipped cream and berries, I use blueberries and raspberries. Enjoy!

FAVORITE BLOG ALERT!

There is a client of my salon, Lauren, that I have enjoyed following on Instagram because she is always posting the most beautiful pictures of delicious, healthy food, and I’m so excited to announce that she recently launched a blog of her own!  A self proclaimed “foodie,” with a passion for promoting wellness using whole nutritious foods and a balanced lifestyle, Lauren works as a Registered Dietitian in clinical nutrition and consults on nutrition and wellness throughout central Ohio.  Most of the things she posts are gluten free, or can be made that way (I personally can’t wait to try her Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies), and very “Meat On The Side” friendly!  Check her site out: Whole Living Lauren, and tell her The Stay At Work Housewife sent you!

MY RESPONSE TO THE “NON CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY MAY NOT EXIST” STUDY

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You may have seen an article floating around this week titled “Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist” in which Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology, states that after studying subjects who’s gastrointestinal symptoms improved on a gluten free diet (or non celiac gluten sensitive individuals) “we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten”.

First of all, let me start by saying that for every peer reviewed scientific study that proves something, there is another peer reviewed scientific study that disproves the same thing. I would like to think my readers are open minded, so hopefully it causes no controversy when I say I assume that the same people who read the headline of the article and accepted it as fact, are also people who believe that being gay is a choice, climate change is a liberal fairy tale, and vaccines cause autism. That being said, I don’t know why I let these people get me all worked up, but here I go:

I would like to address the people who skimmed their Facebook page, saw a post that said “Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Does Not Exist”, and without even reading the article (not that it would matter) accepted it as fact from that day forward. I get it, chances are you have been in a social situation where your friend’s weird acquaintance trapped you in a corner and tried to drill into your head that you should give up gluten because it’s evil and you’re killing yourself. Or maybe you’re a server who’s night was ruined by someone who doesn’t (not can’t) eat gluten, who had a million unrealistic requests and then tipped you less than you deserve. That would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, so I kind of understand why you would want to use a study as an excuse to hate on people with a gluten intolerance.

Every once in awhile I perform my own blind study, where I unknowingly ingest gluten, only to be informed by my body later, when I get a headache, indigestion, horrible stomach cramps, and become nauseous. But I guess that’s just a placebo effect, right?

Now I’m not a scientist, but the red flag to me in this recent study, is that they used whey protein as the placebo; with an already compromised digestive system, the subjects ingested one of the possible causes of a lactose intolerance, which symptoms include gas, bloating, weakness, fatigue, headaches and irritability; sound familiar? Many people with gluten intolerances also have what is known as a “secondary lactose intolerance” where, because of their weakened small intestine, they have trouble digesting the proteins in dairy: whey and casein.

Let’s play devils advocate and pretend that non celiac gluten sensitivities do not exist, and that the reason people feel better on a gluten free diet is because usually they are eating less processed foods and eating more whole, unprocessed foods. Who are we hurting? More people creating a demand for gluten free foods makes it easier for the people who ‘really’ need it (in this pretend, celiacs only, non gluten sensitivity free world). You sit there judging me because I feel better by not eating something that physically harms me, and get excited enough to share an article with your friends and family on social media that says what I feel isn’t real. Why? Unless you are devout raw vegan (my personal idea of dietary Utopia, which I will never achieve) you cannot judge anything anyone chooses to eat, or not eat.

Regardless of what you believe, I know my body and I know that if I eat something that contains gluten, whether or not I’m aware of it, I feel like absolute shit physically. When I avoid gluten completely, I feel amazing. It is as simple as that folks. Bioindividuality tells us that one woman’s poison is another woman’s medicine, and vice versa. What makes me feel horrible, may give you tons of energy. Listen to your body, it can tell you much more than any scientific study can. More importantly: worry about yourself, I don’t need you to worry about what I’m eating, or not eating. But if you can’t do that, I can help you worry about where you can shove your scientific study.

TEN THINGS NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WITH A GLUTEN INTOLERANCE

Now I love educating people and answering the occasional curious question, but these are just a handful of things I would avoid saying to someone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance (followed by the reaction I have in my head when someone actually does say these to me).

1. “Can’t you just pick it out?” Would you say this to someone with a peanut allergy?

2. “Are you still on a diet?”  It’s not a diet, it’s a disorder!

3. “I’m sure you can find something to eat here, they have salads!” Right, I would love to spend $10+ on a salad at a meal that I’m sharing with inconsiderate company, who will probably offer me the bread they bring to the table because they “forgot”.

4. “I would love to cut out gluten, but it’s so expensive to go gluten free!”  I guess if you just have to have those $7.00 cookies…

5. “Ugh, I would die if I couldn’t have gluten.”  Well it’s too bad you can eat it then, isn’t it?

6. “It only has a little flour in it.”  Oh good, I don’t mind “a little” diarrhea then!

7. “My friend has a gluten intolerance, but he still eats it sometimes.”  Well every gluten intolerance is different, and your friend is a horrible example.

8. “Too bad you can’t have this, it’s really yummy.”  Now you’re just being a jerk.

9. “I don’t believe gluten intolerance is real, why are we just now hearing about it?”  I didn’t realize having more knowledge about something automatically makes it fake.

10. “Can you still have potatoes?”  OK, just stop. Go google “gluten” before you embarrass yourself any further.

 

DO I HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY?

Do you think you or someone you know might have a food allergy?  Check out my guest post on Two Chics And A Blog for symptoms and more information!

SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY

I have a confession to make: after almost a year of being gluten free I still don’t feel 100%. I have been eating very healthy; cooking with the fresh, organic produce from my weekly CSA bag, drinking a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie every morning, avoiding anything that could be making me sick, and getting plenty of sleep every night. Yet I still feel bloated, inflamed, achy, exhausted, and if I may get a little personal here, the salad that I eat for lunch every day still looks like a salad the next time I see it…catch my drift? I started feeling like I might as well go back to eating gluten if I’m just going to feel sick all of the time anyways. Don’t get me wrong, I do not miss all of the headaches, heartburn, abdominal pain and throwing up, but like I said, I’m not 100% and it’s very frustrating. I recently started getting acupuncture every week to manage the inflammation. I understand if you think Eastern Medicine sounds like a load of BS, but it has always fascinated me, and at this point I’m willing to try anything. I really feel like it is helping, but by my appointments are on Monday and by Saturday I’m feeling ‘blah’ again. This week I brought up that while I think that the acupuncture is helping to manage my symptoms, I’ve been thinking about doing a juice/raw food cleanse to see if that would help, to which he responded “No! That is the opposite of what you should be doing!”. Needless to say I was taken aback, what’s wrong with eating healthy?! That’s when he explained to me the traditional Chinese dietary theory of Spleen Qi Deficiency. In traditional Chinese medicine the “spleen” is actually your digestive system organ network, not just your actual spleen. A diagnosis of Spleen Qi Deficiency means that your body’s ability to generate Qi, (also known as chi or energy flow) from the food that you eat, is compromised. Some of the symptoms include lack of appetite (check), bloating (check), loose stool with the presence of undigested food (ew, check), and fatigue (check, check, check). Basically my digestive system is already compromised from my gluten intolerance and Spleen Qi Deficiency, and on top of that, I have been eating foods that my body has to work very hard at breaking down, using all of my energy and keeping me inflamed and bloated. I had created a vicious cycle because I thought eating cold and raw foods would ‘cool’ down my inflamed digestive system, like yogurt, salad, ice water and applesauce; when really I was creating more problems because my body had to work very hard at raising the temperature of the food and break down it’s tough fibrous walls to digest it. Here I thought I was being a nutritional saint! According to traditional Chinese dietary theory I should be eating warm, lightly cooked foods (to preserve their nutrients) so that the heat has already began to break down the food’s cell walls, making it easier to digest and therefore less work for my body! The ideal diet to heal your Spleen Qi Deficiency should consist of 40-60% complex carbohydrates and starchy root vegetables, 30-40% cooked vegetables, and 10-20% protein, with very little of it coming from animals. Dairy and sugar should be very limited.

Here are some examples of food beneficial for healing your Spleen Qi Deficiency (lightly cooked, roasted or steamed is best, as well as in soups and porridges):
Brown rice, oats, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, corn, peas, onions, leeks, garlic, mushrooms, kidney beans, black beans, chick peas, lentils, cooked fruits, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, small amounts of animal protein, honey, maple syrup, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, warm tea and room temperature water.

Foods that should be avoided with a Spleen Qi Deficiency:
Raw fruits and vegetables, salsa, citrus, dairy, iced drinks, smoothies, coffee, cold foods, salads, fruit juice, refined sugar, processed food, spicy food, fried food, and nut butters.

So I’m going to give it a try, if it works I’ll be absolutely thrilled, if it doesn’t there’s really no harm done! For those of you interested here is an example of a day of meals I have planned:

Breakfast: Pumpkin oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
Lunch: Grilled portobello mushroom stuffed with roasted vegetables and brown rice
Afternoon Snack: Room temperature hummus on whole grain, gluten free toast
Dinner: Lentil soup and a baked garlic sweet potato
I also plan on drinking plenty of warm tea with cinnamon. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Has anyone else ever experimented with Eastern Medicine or Traditional Chinese Diets?

 

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WHOLE GRAINS AND A GLUTEN INTOLERANCE

When first diagnosing me with a gluten intolerance my doctor warned me that I would need to make sure I was getting enough fiber in my diet because I wouldn’t be getting any from my enriched white bread anymore.  Like I have mentioned before, my pre gluten free life was an unhealthy one so white bread was my main source of fiber; obviously you can get fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, but since you don’t have to read any labels in the produce aisle, let’s talk about whole grains!

A ‘whole grain’ is what a grain is considered in its’ natural state growing in the field, or the entire seed of the plant.  The seed is made up of three edible parts; the bran, the germ and the endosperm.  When a whole grain is refined (think cereal, bread, flour, etc.) part or parts of the seed are removed and 25% of the protein, along with at least 17 nutrients are lost.  It is recommended that at least 3 of your 6 daily servings of grains should be whole grains.  (One serving of cooked grains is usually 1/2 a cup)  The great thing is, a few gluten free whole grains are complete proteins, so if you practice “Meat on the Side” you kill two birds with one stone!

Health Benefits of Whole Grains:

  • Lower Cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and Type II Diabetes
  • Reduced risk of digestive system and hormone-related cancers
  • High in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and iron

My favorite gluten free whole grains are brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, and oats (if your intolerance is severe or you have celiac’s be careful with oats, although they are technically gluten free they are usually processed in a facility that also processes wheat and barley, so there is a chance of cross-contamination).  Some of my favorite recipes made with whole grains are Unstuffed Peppers, Quinoa Pizza Bites, and Blueberry Oatmeal Cups.

 

What’s your favorite way to get whole grains?

SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Having a gluten intolerance is challenging.  Having any food allergy is challenging for that matter.  I’ve never had an “Oh woe is me, feel sorry for me because I can’t eat bread” attitude about my allergy; it is part of who I am and I know that there are worse things that could happen to me.  In fact, I have learned to embrace my gluten intolerance; since giving up gluten I have never felt better!  I have more energy, I’ve lost weight, and all of my gluten reactive symptoms have disappeared.  Besides that, I have discovered foods that I love, to replace what I used to eat, that are better for me and I feel great about eating them.  I am obsessed with sweet potatoes, avocados, lentils, brown rice and greek yogurt.

Now this would be all well and good if all of the people in my life were gluten intolerant  too, and could understand why I don’t eat it, but that is never going to happen.  I have never seen a disorder that is met with as much skepticism as a gluten intolerance or celiac’s.  When I politely refuse something that will make me sick that is offered to me (and by that I mean I simply say “No thank you.” as opposed to “OH MY GOD I CAN’T EAT THAT!  ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE ME SICK?!”)  I am immediately challenged:

“Why don’t you want a cupcake? Are you on a diet?”

“No, I have a gluten allergy so I can’t eat that.”

This is usually followed by them asking what gluten is, my explanation, and then the inevitable question:

“What happens when you eat it?”

…..I HATE THIS QUESTION!!!!!  Telling you I’m allergic should be enough.  I get sometimes that people are just curious, which is fine, maybe educating them about my food intolerance will help them discover that they have one as well.  But I’m going to say 80% of the time they are asking me what my reaction to gluten is, they are trying to gauge if my symptoms are serious enough to THEM to be turning down a cupcake.  Often times my polite, non-graphic, non-detailed explanation is met with one of the rudest responses:

“Oh, so it’s not serious like a peanut allergy, you aren’t going to die or anything?” and then I see in their eyes and from their tone of voice that they have written off my gluten intolerance as some ridiculous, high-maintenance phase that I will grow out of once I’m tired of turning down cupcakes and being difficult.

Now, I don’t want to go off on a tangent here but let me just note a few of the long-term effects of consuming gluten for someone who is intolerant:

  • Infertility
  • Eczema
  • Joint Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Malnutrition
  • Thyroid Tissue Damage
  • Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue

None of those sound too bad right?  I don’t know why I would ever want to avoid any of those!  Ok, that may have been a tangent. Let me get back on track…

I believe that in order to be happy and healthy while living with a gluten allergy you need a support system.  My biggest supporters are my husband and my mother.  After my diagnosis with a gluten intolerance, they both set out to educate themselves in order to make my life as simple as possible.  My wonderful husband refuses to eat anything I can’t have in front of me, something I would never ask anyone to to do, but that makes it that much sweeter of him; and I always know there will be something I can eat without feeling deprived at holidays with my mom!  She always goes out of her way to make me something special so I don’t feel left out.  Do I expect this every where I go?  Of course not.  Does it mean a lot to me that the people I love have taken it upon themselves to make living with a gluten intolerance a little easier?  You bet it means a lot!

It is having this support system in my life that helps me get through my moments of weakness when warm bread is sat down on the table of a restaurant, and my moments of frustration when my polite refusal of something I can’t have is met with “Oh, you’re still doing that? Sucks for you!” from someone who has always known about my intolerance.  You need people in your life who are going to text you a picture from the grocery when they see that Pillsbury now makes gluten-free cookie dough.  People who, before inviting you out to dinner, check to see if the restaurant has gluten-free options.  People who are sympathetic when you aren’t feeling well because you ate something you shouldn’t have.

Does everyone in your life need to be like this?  No, and if you expect that kind of genuine care and support from everyone, including underpaid waiters, Italian in-laws, and the redneck side of your own family who thinks you eat like a bird anyways, you will always be let down.  But, if you have a handful of people in your life willing to eat the cookies Grandma wouldn’t let you leave without, someone who will pull the warm bread basket to their side of the table, out of your reach, and someone who will tell you about the newest gluten-free bakery opening up in town; you are going to have a happier, healthier, easier, gluten-free life!

Who is your biggest supporter?

Do you have a good story about a time someone challenged your food allergy?