Monthly Archives: August 2013

B healthy, B happy: Are you getting enough vitamin B12?

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Not a very sexy topic, right?  True enough. But you know what else is not attractive? — being exhausted, anemic, and dragging your sorry self around all day with barely enough energy to pour a cup of coffee! 

If you’re vegan and you fit the above description, your body might just be begging for some vitamin B12.  I know, it’s confusing as fiddlesticks. Should we all be choking down horse-size, foul-tasting, bright-green pee inducing vitamins each morning, or spending $5 a pop on nutritional supplements?  Do we really need to buy cereals “fortified” with 11 factory-processed vitamins and minerals?  In my opinion, no, we don’t.  (Although, if this makes us feel better as we crunch down on our fortified Fruit Loops, so be it!)  When we eat a variety of fresh, whole, minimally-processed foods, we are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals along with the necessary fats, fiber, proteins, and carbohydrates we need to look and feel fabulous. There’s just one tiny catch, my vegan cohorts, and it goes by the name vitamin B12. 

What is this mysterious vitamin? Apparently B12 is a big player health-wise; our nervous system requires it, and B12 helps power red blood cell growth and DNA production along with keeping our liver, skin, hair, and eyes glowing with vitality and health.  On board? I thought so!   

Here’s the snag: the only sources of Vitamin B12 are found in meat and dairy products and cereals fortified with B12. And if, like me, you’re vegan and have also shunned processed boxed cereals, you need to look for your B12 elsewhere.

But wait, you say, my body runs like a high-efficiency machine – I don’t need vitamins, thankyouverymuch.  Before you get all cranky-pants, here’s a list of the main symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency: depression, fatigue, dizziness, constipation (everyone’s favorite makes the list), numbness, pale pallor (I say this to distinguish from regular pale skin, which once prompted my students to joke that I was almost invisible).  This is serious, though– you can actually suffer permanent nerve damage or dementia if B12 deficiency is left untreated. I don’t know about you, but I need every single brain cell I have just to remember the whereabouts of my wallet, keys, and children.  

The good news is that vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly easy to treat. If you are having any of the above symptoms and/or have been vegan for at least the past two or three years, you may want to have blood work done to see if your B12 levels are low, and if they are, you can have injections until your levels are back to normal.  (Some people have trouble absorbing B12 and must continue getting shots indefinitely.)  If you just returned from a 12 mile run, cleaned your house, and whipped up a 4-course dinner, then please do pick up some vitamin B12 the next time you’re at the store and start taking it. The recommended dose is about 2.5 mg/day. Yours truly takes a sublingual (fancy for under the tongue) vitamin B12 supplement most days, which provides 2000 mcg (or 2 mg, milligrams).   

Be healthy and happy, my friends! 🙂

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Please pass the (sea) salt.

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Salt is one of the most important preservatives and commodities in human history. Ancient Romans were often paid in salt (“salary”), Greek slave-traders bartered with salt (“he’s not worth his salt”), and biblical covenants were often sealed with salt, the origin of “salvation.”  Further, you may have heard that Jesus referred to his disciples as “the salt of the earth”? We still use that phrase for honest, hardworking people.

Are you “worth your salt”?  Are you among “the salt of the earth”?  These are compliments, my friend, which should be your first clue about salt, one of the most significant components of our health and history.  So why do we hear so much about high blood pressure, water retention, and limiting our salt intake? Why do we feel guilty every time we reach for the salt shaker?  

As with so many other foods, salt (or “spice” as my children call it) is misunderstood at best, and flat-out shunned at worst.  I can hardly think of something sadder than someone sprinkling Lawry’s low-sodium seasoning on their baked potato, so just in case you are one of those people, I’ve decided to stage an intervention and encourage you to let salt back into your life.

I’m not talking about getting crazy with the Morton’s table salt here, I’m referring to sea salt. Table salt has been highly processed and bleached, with important minerals removed and sold to vitamin manufacturers, while sugar, iodine, and calcium silicate (an anti-caking agent used in making bricks, insulation, and roads) are added. Hey Morton: Give us back our minerals! (Maybe a catchier slogan?) 

I used to think sea salt was just a fancy, expensive salt for the likes of Martha Stewart and the Barefoot Contessa, not for plain folk such as myself.  Apparently Food Network has been onto something, however, because sea salt is less processed than table salt, contains over 60 important trace minerals, has no additives, and is harvested from the sea (as I believe its name implies) by a simpler method that’s easier on the environment. Salt is actually — gasp–good for you! Consuming sufficient amounts of salt helps control blood sugar levels, is a natural antihistamine, can stop your sore throat in its tracks (gargle salt water), maintains the pH balance in our stomachs, improves sleep quality, encourages a healthy thyroid and metabolism, and balances our hormones (so maybe that’s why we’re scrounging for salty snacks around that time of the month, ladies?). So salt away — but make sure you’re not sprinkling on a piece of pizza, potato chips, or a freshly-microwaved veggie burger! 

The worst offenders for high sodium are prepared, prepackaged foods, salad dressings, bouillon cubes, cheese, cured meats and, of course, fast food items.  But be careful — just because something is labeled “low sodium” does not mean you should load up your cart, because it’s probably full of other additives to make it palatable.

We’re human. We love–and need –salt; it’s essential for optimal health.  Just accept that and welcome salt back onto your plate (and palate) in its natural form — not hidden in processed foods. 

 

Delicioso! Variations on Vegan Lasagna

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Is anyone else out there totally flummoxed about whether pasta is good for you and should be ingested in large amounts, or whether it is of the Dark Side and to be avoided at all costs?  I suppose it depends on where you align yourself in the never-ending carbohydrate debate.

I’ve always heard it is important to “carb load” during training and especially the night before an athletic event (such as watching friends compete in “Iron Man”), but is it really necessary?   It’s easy to find testimonials from herbivores to carnivores about the best diet for optimal health and energy, and here’s mine: I have trained for two long runs in my life, a full marathon in 2006 and a half-marathon in 2012.  While training for the Rock n’ Roll San Diego Marathon (the only kind of marathon I’d ever want to participate in again, it really was as fun as running straight for almost 5 hours can be), I certainly ate a lot of carbs and dairy products, and along with gaining experience and a few new friends, I also gained . . .12 pounds. Pure muscle, I’m sure. (I was raising money for leukemia research with Team in Training, and I remember joking with my sister Em, who I finagled into running with me, that I also needed to raise money for new jeans.)  I didn’t mind the extra poundage as much as the way I felt on those long runs. Runner’s high? Please. Try runner’s low. I never knew when I’d get a debilitating side ache, I just knew to expect one at some point. Plagued with IT band pain, I had to finish my regime on the treadmill. Lame. The only way I finished the actual marathon at all was due to my sister’s encouragement and the guy sporting a Speedo and sombrero at mile 22. Thanks, man. 

Flash forward to the winter of 2011-2012 and preparing for the Hippie Chick Half Marathon in Portland. Granted, it was half the distance, but I felt twice as good while training. I don’t remember getting even one side ache, and I didn’t gain one pound.  I easily (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I felt good) ran the entire race with my speedy friend, Jennifer, only stopping to use the port-a-potties 6 times like all the other ladies!  Seriously, though, I am absolutely positive that diet made all the difference — particularly, for me, eliminating dairy and reducing my dependence on empty carbohydrates like french bread and processed cereals. 

This is not to say I abandoned my love of pasta, pizza, and all things carbolicious when I became a vegan. I didn’t. But eating spaghetti without the parm, pizza and lasagna without the cheese?  These dishes just weren’t so tempting anymore, and I gradually ate less pasta.  There’s an innate and abiding love between children and noodles of all sorts, however, and I’ve had to figure out how to work more pasta dishes back into my repertoire.  In the process, I’ve rediscovered my own dormant affection, and realized that if I use pasta mainly as a vehicle for vegetables, herbs, and spices, we’re all happy.    

Lasagna has always been one of my favorite Italian dishes.  So versatile!  And, unlike other pasta dishes, you don’t have to worry about draining hot water as your guests arrive or keeping the noodles warm and unstuck. Your masterpiece is done, and it looks lovely.  (Of course, there is always the chance of serving up a dry, something-went-wrong lasagna, and it’s too late to do anything at that point but offer your guests more vino.)

I was thrilled to discover that tofu can quite successfully take the place of ricotta cheese in texture and taste.  And, like all lasagnas, vegan lasagna can be transformed in myriad ways. Add your favorite veggies, spice up your marinara sauce, add a layer of pesto, use gluten-free noodles; get creative.  You can have your lasagna and eat it, too!

Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic, and Spinach (adapted from Appetite for Reduction)

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (GF works well, too)
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 packages extra firm tofu (about 16 oz,)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 28 oz can, and 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes w/ basil
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 2 t. oregano
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

1. First, roast cauliflower and all but 3 cloves of garlic (drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper) at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, flipping over once to brown evenly. 

2. Boil noodles according to directions. Rinse in cool water, set aside (or right in front of you, whatever works!).

3. In a large bowl, crumble tofu, add nutritional yeast flakes (buy in bulk at grocery store, and don’t tell me you can’t find any, I live in SE Idaho), salt and pepper, lemon juice, 1 clove garlic (minced), and roasted cauliflower (set aside roasted garlic, slice when cool). Smash everything together with a potato masher, or in food processor if you want to get as many dishes as possible dirty.

4. In a large saute pan, add 2-3 cloves of garlic to a little oil and saute over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms here if you’d like, or wait and layer fresh ones with the spinach.  Add tomatoes and thyme and oregano (or whichever spices you prefer), heat through and turn off heat.

5.  Layer your lovely lasagna, love! Begin with a bit of tomato sauce, then noodles, tofu/cauliflower mixture, spinach, sliced roasted garlic, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and repeat.  Leave spinach and veggies off the top layer (it will burn and be weird), so just put tomato sauce, tofu mix, and olives on top.  

6.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Serve warm and top with fresh basil to really impress everyone, although they will already be blown away by your mad cooking skills!

Now get out there and run a marathon. 🙂

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Redeeming Potatoes: Potato Cakes with Scallions and Garlic

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I was born in Oregon, but raised in Idaho. And, after a 24-year hiatus, in 2011 I moved back to this gem of a state, this state not known for its rugged, natural beauty, but for, well, potatoes.  

To those of you who like to make jokes about the humble spud (“What do you call a baby potato? Small fry!”), or this state (“You the ho? No, Idaho!”), I just want to point out that there are many worse things to be known for than the delicious, nutritious, world-renowned, adaptable and transformative potato. (Do any readily come to mind? Not at the moment.)

Few doubt the potato’s central role in modern history, but they have certainly doubted its nutritional clout. Potatoes, like many of our favorite comfort foods, have gotten the short end of the stick in recent dieting debates.  Although Inca warriors — part of a civilization that built Machu-Picchu and cultivated 3800 varieties of potatoes in modern-day Peru — were fueled by, oh, I don’t know, potatoes, people continue to believe that potatoes are bad for us.  Why? Because most Americans actually consider french fries a vegetable. Wake up, people! French fries (and potato chips, for that matter) are potatoes gone wrong; they don’t even deserve the same name.  

I’m talking about the amazing, fluffy potato, which can be baked, boiled, roasted, steamed, pureed, or grilled, served hot or cold, plain or fancy. Potatoes are hearty enough to carry an entire meal — and mashed potatoes, in my opinion, are the single best comfort food on the planet.  When I moved to Portland 8 years ago, I lived a few blocks down from an Italian restaurant (La Buca, I believe) that served sides of mashed potatoes with pesto. Oh. My. Goodness. The next time you’re crying from a break-up (or just from watching “Terms of Endearment” for the umpteenth time), get yourself a bowl of this little bit o’ heaven and you’ll be smiling through your tears. I promise.

So. Let’s make sure we’re on the same starchy page: potatoes are good for you –just don’t order them deep-fried or slathered in butter and sour cream (with a side of stroke and diabetes, please).  They may not look impressive, but potatoes contain potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B, protein, and even vitamin C (move aside, OJ!).  

Tonight I made potato cakes and enjoyed them with a dollop of chipotle mayo. Quite tasty!  Ryan was my guinea pig, comparing my gluten-free breaded cakes with the panko breaded ones. Which do you think he chose? (I clearly should not have disclosed that information before the taste test. . .)

Potato Cakes with Scallions and Garlic (adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch scallions or green onions
  • 1 T fresh parsley 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 t. salt & pepper
  • bread crumbs (1 1/3 cups altogether)
  • olive oil  

  1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees. (Even if it’s 95 degrees out and you’ve had water damage from a leaky roof and so have to leave the AC off and all the doors open? Yes, I’m afraid so.)

2. Boil potatoes for 10-12 minutes, or until soft (I am bad about timing boiling potatoes, sorry).  Remove, drain water, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

3.  In a largish bowl, mix sesame oil, scallions/onions, salt, pepper, garlic, and about 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs (or whatever bread crumbs you deem appropriate).  Add potatoes, use masher to mix everything well. 

4.  Place 1 cup of bread crumbs, 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, and about 1/2 t. each of salt and pepper to a deep plate or shallow bowl (are these the same thing?). Mix well, then form patties with your paws, whatever size you wish, and place on an oiled or parchment/mat lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes on each side, until crispy and brown. Or, if you’re having french fry withdrawals, you have my permission to lightly fry these over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. 

I’m planning to serve these darlings to our guests as appetizers tomorrow evening with sides of vegan ranch dressing and chipotle salsa, though I think they could definitely hold their own as a side dish.  Potatoes: It’s what’s for dinner. 🙂

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Don’t Cry Over Chopped Onions (or Baked Onion Rings!)

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I have a love/hate relationship with onions. I adore the depth of flavor they add to most dishes, and therefore I use them in curries and stews, veggie burgers and salads.  (I stopped myself from adding a chunk of onion to a fruit smoothie this morning. But just barely.)  A delicate slice of Walla Walla sweet onion on an avocado, tomato, and pesto sandwich on a warm summer evening?  Why yes, I do think so.  And don’t even get me started on green onions!  Amazing. I especially enjoy them in Asian dishes and potato or pasta salads.  

Sadly, there is a dark side to this relationship. I cannot cut an onion without crying like a baby, and me wielding a sharp knife and trying to chop an onion with tears streaming down my face is just not the best combination.  So quit whining and buy some onion goggles, right? Wrong. I wear glasses 99% of the time, so all goggles would do is keep my eyes dry. I’d still be — you guessed it– blindly wielding a sharp knife.  If you’re ever visiting me during meal prep and offer your assistance, please bring your goggles because you know what I’ll be asking of you.  🙂  

Before I get to some helpful suggestions about how to minimize onion-induced discomfort, let me share with you a bit of dicey history about this aromatic bulb.  Because the layered, delicate onion doesn’t exactly leave fossils behind, food historians aren’t sure how long humans have been eating onions or exactly where they originated, but we know based on archeological records that onions were consumed in many ancient civilizations, including China, India, Sumeria, and Egypt.  As usual, Egyptians took it to the next level.  They believed the onion represented eternal life due to its concentric layers, and even included onions in their mummifying and entombment processes.  Egyptologists differ in their interpretation of this information; some believe that Ancient Egyptians may have thought the pungent scent could reawaken the dead (onion breath? seems possible), while others argue that the medicinal, magical properties of onions would be helpful in the afterlife. However mummies procured their onions, I think we can all agree on one thing: it’s freaking awesome! 

The onion continues its trek through the historical record by showing up in Ancient Roman, Greek, and Hebrew writings.  This was a Golden Age not only for democracy, but for the onion! Pliny the Elder wrote that onions could cure mouth-sores, dog bites, diarrhea, insomnia, and toothaches. Further, in an eye-ronic twist (sorry), Roman, Greek, and Indian physicians prescribed onions to cure ailments of the eyes. Say what?!  This seems an early example of making onionade out of onions. Which brings me back to onion-induced tears — and how to prevent (or at least temper) this extremely annoying problem.  

There are some hilarious pieces of advice out there for how to protect one’s eyes while chopping your onions. My favorites have to be chopping the onion under water or right next to hot steam, which would seriously increase my chances of calling an ambulance before dinner!  Here are several serious tips for how to turn your onion-cutting into a more painless experience: 

1. Chill your onions. Put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting or soak in cold water.  Does this stun the onion into submission? Not in my experience, but perhaps it will work for you.  

2. Use a super sharp knife. (Only you can decide if the benefits outweigh the negatives of investing in a ridiculously sharp professional-grade knife!) Apparently crushing rather than cleanly slicing the cell fibers of the onion releases an enzyme that makes our eyes water.  I wouldn’t know.

3.   If you can afford such luxury, throw on some onion goggles, or get out those swim goggles you keep swearing you’re going to use at the pool. No one will laugh at you, I’m sure of it.   

4.  Put a piece of bread in your mouth while you dice and chop. The theory here is that, somehow, the water from your eyes is diverted to your mouth. Hmmm. Not sure how it works, and it did not work for me (or maybe I was crying because I felt so dumb), but many swear by it.  Now get in there and cut up some onions!

Baked Onion Rings (adapted from Appetite for Reduction

  • 2 large sweet onions, such as Walla Walla (awww!), but I used red sweet onions today because that’s what I had chillin’.
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used gf and added a bit of xanthan gum)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko today, shh don’t tell my dad!)
  • 1 t. salt, pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice onions into 3/4-1 inch rings, then push them apart using Herculean strength only to have them break into chunks. (Went much better on my second try!) Set aside. Remove your onion goggles and chunk of bread from your mouth, and turn off the hot steam blowing in your face.  Stop crying and pull yourself together for step 2. 

2. Mix flour and cornstarch together in a shallow bowl, add half of almond milk, then put vinegar in remaining milk and let stand for a minute; throw in rest of almond milk/vinegar combo and stir well.

3.  In yet another large shallow bowl, place bread crumbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.  (You could also add some herbs or other fave spices? Just sayin’.)

4.  Okay, now you’re ready to get fancy. Take each onion ring and dip it first in the flour mixture, then the breadcrumbs.  (By the end I was just willing the breadcrumb mix to stay on the rings, smashing it in ugly clumps and watching it slide gracefully off. This may take some practice.) 

5.  Place dipped and coated rings on a baking sheet, either with a baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until crispy and brown and delicious-smelling.  Serve with  veggie burgers, vegan ranch dressing, ketchup, mustard. . . sky’s the limit you Iron Chef! 

These things are so tasty. Definitely mummy-worthy. 

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The Label Game: Vegan, Organic, Gluten-Free??

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Yes, to answer your question, I’m still snoshing on my kids’ gluten-free frosted flakes and processing my decision to eat gluten-free this month. The good news is that I’m on day seven and am feeling pretty good (ie, I haven’t been crying uncontrollably or binging on “gluten-free” snacks late into the night since about Tuesday). The bad news is that I have wasted good ingredients — and precious energy — trying to create a perfect (scratch that, edible) pancake without gluten flour or dairy products.  As Ev astutely remarked, looking at the mangled mess on the griddle, “Those are gross. Are you going to make me some new Max and Ruby pancakes, or what?!”  So I did.  And I popped some long-frozen gluten-free waffles into the toaster for myself.  Freezer-burned meet almond butter. Tasted like heaven to yours truly.  

There is a particular mental state people enter who have decided to deny themselves a certain food item, be it sugar, chocolate, dairy, coffee, or, say, wheat flour. Anyone who has tried to lose a few pounds knows what I’m talking about. You might even compare it to the stages of grief: denial (“I’m not really going to never eat cheese again; right?!”), anger (“WHY can’t I digest cheese? Why are the fates punishing me?”) , bargaining (“If I eat pizza only on Fridays, that should work. . .”), depression (“I don’t want to live without cheese!”), and finally, acceptance (“I love the taste of cheese, but no looking back, I’m feeling so much better!”). 

I am not a fan of ultimatums or needless suffering–I am all about being good to myself. So, as I will definitely be reunited with a loaf of sourdough at some point, I’m trying to see this month as a positive experiment. Maybe avoiding our comfort foods pushes us to rework old recipes and discover new, delicious– and yes, even comforting–dishes, to look outside the box for inspiration. No? Well, it was worth a try, anyway. 🙂  

I’ve been paying more attention to labels at the market as I’ve been educating myself on as the gluten-free world turns. Each aisle is a landmine of potential missteps. (Is anyone else finding a routine trip to the store taking about 3 hours longer than usual as you read every microscopic ingredients label?) I saw gluten-free water today. Seriously? Fancy marketing, that. However, there is gluten in many products you might not suspect, Sherlock, such as cosmetics, medications, your beloved bouillon cubes (in the maltodextrin, who knew?), soy sauce, hot cocoa mix, and french fries.  What about those “Nature’s Mother’s Friend” potato chips in the health food section with “organic,” “vegan,” and “gluten-free” plastered all over the front of the bag, you ask?  We all need to get our heads out of the flax seeds and take a deep breath. I read somewhere the other day that a conventional apple is better than organic potato chips. Truth.  Do we need to read labels? Absolutely. Should we be cautious about what we’re consuming both for ethical and health reasons? Of course. I just think if I can actually recognize the majority of what I buy at the store as food and I’m doing most of my cooking at home, fabulous. And if I need a few “gluten-free” goodies to bridge the gap right now, so be it. Now, where did I put those organic, gluten-free, vegan, chia-seed coated, sun-toasted kale chips. . .? 

       

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Gluten-Free AND Vegan? Good Gracious!

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My dad was diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) about three years ago.  Although he’s halted its degenerative effects on his joints with heavy-duty biologic drugs like Embrel, he’s always on the edge of deteriorating health. So, because I kind of like my dad and have read about the inflammatory effects of gluten in books such as Wheat Belly, I’ve been trying to get him to try a gluten-free diet to see if it helps.  Of course I told him I would also avoid gluten for a month – what do you think I am, some kind of monster-child?

During my recent visit, I cooked many gluten-free, vegan dishes for my parents, trying out several new recipes and reworking some traditional ones like ranch dressing, zucchini bread, and spaghetti marinara.  (I’ve become that member of the family, the one who eagerly hands loved ones a spoonful of something to taste, then says expectantly, “It’s vegan?!”– or the one people avoid when they’re trying to figure out directions to In-And-Out Burger. True Story.)  Anyway, my parents are on board. Lucky for them, they still eat dairy and can go whacky with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free mixes for everything from crepes and cornbread to waffles and souffles. Meanwhile, here in Veganville, it’s almost impossible to find a dairy-free, gluten-free bread that doesn’t taste like cotton and sawdust.  I suppose I should try to make my own instead of torturing myself by walking down the bakery aisle, and maybe I will after Ryan returns this weekend and I have three minutes away from my children.

I grew up eating bread with every meal, which I am not overly proud of, I’m just saying we are a carb-lovin’ people.  (Spaghetti with corn, potatoes, and garlic bread? 4000 grams of carbohydrates? Yes, Ma’am!) And even though I don’t eat a lot of bread anymore, giving up bread altogether has been more difficult than I expected. All of my dreams involve sourdough. It’s been four days. (Think I’m being melodramatic? Yours truly is eating Environkidz Gluten-Free Frosted Flakes at the moment directly from the freaking box, I kid you not.)  Overall, eliminating gluten from my diet really should not prove too difficult, right? Beans, legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruits are all naturally gluten-free, and these are certainly the backbone of what I eat.  Still, I would be lying if I didn’t admit how much I miss my whole grain toast and sourdough sandwiches. (Sniff.) 

Maybe it’s my toast-withdrawal, but I’m just feeling annoyed. Haven’t I restricted my diet enough by eliminating all animal products?  And is it really healthier for me to stop eating moderate amounts of gluten? Should all modern humans go gluten-free after consuming wheat for thousands of years, or is this simply the latest “it” diet?  What if I feel great most of the time and don’t have a “wheat belly”–am I still compromising my health by eating wheat?  If you aren’t feeling your best, how can you tell if your symptoms equal gluten-sensitivity or are instead related to Crohn’s Disease or IBS?      

For now, I’m waiting for the gluten-free-induced burst of energy and clearness of mind that is supposed to arrive soon.  In the meantime, I’ll send recipes to my dad, create new ones out of coconut and chickpea flour, and try not to procure an “envirokidz belly”! 😉