Monday, January 24, 2011

Detoxify Your Life: The Stress Factor (Plus a Stomach Stress Buster Juice Recipe)

Wouldn't it be nice if this was your life? Stress? What's that? If only...

Before I moved to Seattle, I was not exactly known as the most relaxed person on the planet. You know that game you play with yourself where you start to imagine what could go wrong? I like to call it the "what if" game. What if I fail this exam and then I don't get into school and then I have a nervous breakdown and lose my job and can't afford my rent and end up living on the streets? You laugh, but I'm very good at getting so caught up in the whirlwind of my thoughts that it seems not only plausible, but likely, that a bad grade on an exam will lead to me being homeless. The "what if" game is a spiral that I should never go down. But inevitably, I do.

Because of this, I was very surprised when a new friend here in Seattle told me he didn't see me as a stressed out person. I'm sure I gave him a funny look, all the while laughing in my head. Little did he know...  However, the truth is I deliberately made the choice when I moved here not to worry unnecessarily about everything. I decided to let go of my downward spiral of mind traps and to try to live in the moment. Of course, this took some practice. There were a couple of phone calls to my friends back East where they had to calm me down. Perhaps a frantic e-mail or two. There was the time I cried in my therapist's office because I was afraid of getting a B in a class. Yeah, I know... Or how about the time I told my therapist I was worried I wouldn't be able to afford to send my kids to college. She suggested that I stop worrying about my nonexistent children. Well sure, if you want to be logical about things.

Day by day, I reminded myself to let go of all the mental balls that I was juggling. I got a B in my class, and I'm still alive. I only worry about my unborn children every once in a while now. I do still send the occasional frantic e-mail, but I'd like to think I do it less than I used to? I guess my friends will have to judge that one. And last week, I found myself studying for a quiz when I looked outside and saw a rare sight: the sun. I had ten minutes before the quiz, and I knew I could either cram a few more tidbits of knowledge into my head, or go outside and enjoy a few moments of delightfully blue skies. What do you suppose I did?

I think I've come a long way from the woman crying over a B to the one who chose a precious breath of sunlight over extra study time. Here's what I've learned. Not every day can be stress free. And some days I have to stay inside and study when I'd rather be outside playing. An hour of yoga a day is ideal, but it's not always realistic. Sometimes, I don't have an hour, but I can usually find ten minutes to spare. And ten minutes might be all I need to remind myself that the beauty of life is in those moments when we let go of our stress and simply let ourselves be.

Here's a list of stress-free things you can do in ten minutes. Make your own list and tack it up where you'll be reminded to do something daily to keep you in the moment.
  • Write in your journal. Don't have one? Write on a piece of scrap paper. When you're done, just rip it up and throw it in the trash. No one will see it, but it'll help you get those chaotic thoughts out of your head. There are two ways that journal writing helps me when I'm short on time. The first is to spew out every negative thought in my head and get it all out. The second (and this one works better for me when I'm in a bad mood) is to write affirmations over and over until I start to believe them. See how many times you have to write, "I am happy," before you start to believe it! 
  • Take a ten minute walk, preferably outside. 
  • Get out of your chair and s t r e t c h. Even a few minutes of stretching a day can help alleviate muscle aches and pains. 
  • Make a 10-minute playlist of your favorite relaxing songs. Put your headphones on and tune out the world. 
  • Meditate. I know, this is easier said than done. If you don't have a daily meditation practice, you can start by finding a guided meditation online. Just google "10 minute meditation" and then find one that works for you.
  • Pick a mantra for those times when your own downward spiral starts to get to you. Write it down and put it where you'll see it daily. Some of my mantras for these times? "Release" and "Let it be."
  • When you're dealing with a problem, try asking yourself this question: Will this matter ten years from now? If you're a future-oriented person like I am, this will help you to determine what's worth stressing over and what you can let go. 
  • Spend ten minutes hugging/petting your: dog, cat, husband, wife, partner, son, daughter, friend...Don't have any of the above on hand? E-mail me and I'll send you a virtual hug!
  • Find a song that relaxes you and belt it out. I don't know why, but singing Disney soundtracks calms me down. 
  • If you don't want to sing, then dance it out. I have a dance playlist on my computer for days when I just need to let go.
  • Keep a delicious book on hand, something that's easy to jump right into.
  • Do you have a hula hoop? No? Buy one!
  • Never underestimate the power of a good laugh
  • Also don't underestimate the power of a good juice. In ten minutes, you can make nutrient packed juice that will make your cells happy and make you feel pretty good about yourself. 

Stomach Stress Buster
For this sweet concoction, you'll need a juicer and:
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1/2 apple
a handful of fresh parsley
a chunk of red cabbage (about a cup's worth)

Have a lovely week, day, moment...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Detoxify Your Life. Your Way

If our bodies could talk, what would they say? If we could ask them, what do you need to feel happy, healthy and full of energy, what kind of a response would we get? Would they tell us to go to bed earlier, to eat more vegetables, and to walk daily? Would they ask us to stop drinking those vodka tonics, and to lay off that afternoon candy bar? Perhaps they'd tell us to take a chill pill and stop stressing out over every little thing. Maybe they'd ask for sex daily. Maybe they'd ask us to stop having sex daily. Maybe your body would tell you it loves ice cream and hates spinach, so please stop forcing that green stuff down my throat!

Who knows. What makes my body sing might make your body cry and your best friend's body ache. We are, all of us, fabulously unique, and our bodies' needs reflect that. Nicola of G-Free Mom has been hosting a month of detox soups, smoothies, and juices to inspire us to find our own way to health. For her, a diagnosis of breast cancer led her to a family goal of increasing their daily fruits and vegetables. For her son, a gluten, milk, and cheese free diet has been integral in dealing with a variety of symptoms. And for me, achieving health has meant giving up a lot of foods that I never would have suspected of being a problem. Spinach, avocados, bananas, and lemons are all on my no-can-do list, along with too many other foods to get into here.

So what does it mean to detox? How do we rid our bodies of unwanted toxins and have the robust health we so desire? How do we do it on a daily basis, rather than in short-lived bursts? I can show you what works for me. And you can check here for all the recipes that other bloggers have shared for Detox January. But then, I hope you'll step back for a moment and ask the question of the only person who really knows what you need: yourself. It may be that you're eating exactly as you should be, that some changes are in order, or that diet isn't the issue at all. Let your body tell you what it needs. And resolve to listen, no matter what it has to say.

I've had to say goodbye to my beloved green smoothies (no bananas or spinach right now), but they might be just the thing for you.
Soup, on the other hand, is always welcomed by my body. This is my own vegetarian version of chicken soup for the soul.
A cabbage, apple, cucumber juice? I think this makes my body happier than anything else. Well, okay that's not exactly true. There are some things that make me much happier, and they have nothing to do with food.  But this feels pretty good too.

Detoxify your life. Your way. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gluten-Free Flatbread With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I sometimes write blog posts in my head while I'm running around during the day. They come to me out of the blue, and then of course once I sit down to my computer, the words fly out of my head and a completely different post types itself. I often feel that I'm not really writing it. It's merely using my fingers to tell its story. This post, I have to say, is not typing itself. This one's all me and I'm pretty tired. Mostly, I'm just staring at the computer screen while munching on roasted sweet potatoes. Or yams. I still don't know which is which. I'm contemplating my sweet pota yams, then switching to Facebook. Then I remember I'm supposed to be writing so I switch back to this screen and type a sentence. There. See. Three sentences in a row without going to Facebook!

I'm sorry. It's after 10pm and my brain shut down a few hours ago. I spent all day in the library trying to understand the mechanisms for the absorption, digestion, and transport of riboflavin and niacin. And I just realized that I still have to do the dishes.

Now that's a bummer.

Well that's it then. This post is over. The dishes beat out the blog. And then, bed! I can't wait...

p.s. This flatbread is a variation of my pizza crust, only this time it's vegan. I added a layer of ricotta cheese, which clearly makes it not vegan, but that's optional. You could top it with pizza sauce or anything else you like, however this roasted red pepper sauce is pretty awesome and, in my opinion, worth the extra time. 

Gluten-Free Flatbread with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Print-Friendly Option

The sauce takes longer so you'll want to start that and then make the flatbread while the onions and peppers are in the oven.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1/4 cup packed fresh basil
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Put ingredients (except for basil) in a small baking dish and toss evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. 
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 425. Take the dish out of the oven, stir the ingredients, then put it back in for 10 minutes (with the foil still on).
  4. Remove the dish from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a food processor. Add the basil and process until just smooth. 
Gluten-Free Flatbread 

1 cup tapioca flour/starch
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2.  In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt until completely mixed. Set aside.
  3. In a second smaller bowl, stir the flaxseed meal with 6 Tbsp of water. Add the apple cider vinegar, grapeseed oil, and water, and mix together.
  4. Pour the liquid into the flour, stirring until a ball of dough is formed.
  5. Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal or rice flour. Roll the dough directly on the cookie sheet into a flat rectangle. It should reach all four sides of the sheet. (If you can't do that because your cookie sheet has sides to it, try rolling it onto a piece of parchment paper. It will be easy to transfer to the cookie sheet that way.)
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Take out and spread with the red pepper sauce (and ricotta cheese if you're using it), then put back in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out and eat hot.
Makes 1 cookie sheet sized flatbread

What's going on in the gluten-free blog world? 

This post is linked to Seasonal Sundays at Real Sustenance.

Nicola at G-Free Mom is hosting a month of detoxifying juices, smoothies, and soups. I'll be sharing my own detox recipe next Friday the 21st.

Have you ever adopted a gluten-free blogger? Want to try? The sign-up sheet is open, and if you have a blog, you can adopt any gluten-free blogger you want.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Update On My Health Status: That Whole Headache Thing

Back in August, I wrote a post on chronic pain. I was suffering from daily headaches and fatigue, on top of all the usual IBS symptoms I'd been dealing with for years. I had done an elimination diet last January, hoping to deal with some of these issues. Unfortunately, my symptoms only seemed to worsen over time. By August, I was a pitiful mess. When I moved to Seattle and began school at Bastyr, I could not wait to make an appointment at their student clinic. Truthfully, at that point I did not think anyone could come up with an answer to my varied and sometimes odd complaints. But by my second visit, I was already feeling better. I now have a regimen that, if followed, keeps me feeling healthier and more energetic than I have in years, and I'd like to share it with you all.

I've put off writing this post because my route to health is somewhat confusing even to me, and I've had to severely restrict my diet to do it. I don't even like to tell people what I'm avoiding because the list is so long it's embarrassing. But it works. However, I've realized that food is not the only solution. As is often the case, I've had to attack the problem from a number of angles to get at the answer. I don't feel completely healed, as I still have to work hard to keep my symptoms at bay. But I thought since you've been here with me from the beginning of these challenges, it was only fair that I share what I've learned. Of course, I don't mean any of this to be prescriptive. What works for me will not necessarily work for you, and I would never have figured out most of this without my naturopathic doctors. So of course, I can only recommend that you read this all as a friend sharing her story, and take what you like from that.

An apple a day keeps the headaches away? Not necessarily, but I do eat a lot of them. Here's what I do to feel my best:

  • Eat a gluten, tree nut, peanut, and sugar-free diet. For me, sugar-free unfortunately includes options such as molasses, honey, dates and agave nectar. I've found that they all have the same effect. Stevia has been the only sweetener I've been using, and I haven't had any issues with it. However, if I cave at all - such as eating molasses spice cookies - I find myself a mood-swinging, crying mess within days. Sadly, this limits a lot of the baking I can do, but I'm working on learning the ins and outs of baking with stevia. 
  • Avoid foods that are high in amines. This is a complicated one, but seems to be directly related to my headaches. I don't have to be 100% compliant with this all the time, but I do have to be pretty careful. I avoid everything that is high on this list. Sadly, that includes a lot of my healthy favorites, such as spinach, avocados, bananas, and pineapple. This may explain why my headaches originally seemed to coincide with starting to drink a daily green smoothie, which I filled with spinach, bananas, and pineapple. Like my other restrictions, this also limits the recipes I can make or test here, which is part of the reason I've been so slow with posting recipes lately. 
  • I stopped eating eggs about a month ago on the recommendation of my ND. I'm in the process of adding them back in, and I'm not sure yet how my body will respond, so eggs are a maybe for now.
  • I take a tincture of Wood Betony, Jamaican Dogwood, and Willowbark after meals. If I've fallen off my eating plan at all, I need to take them after every meal, but otherwise I do fine with once or twice a day. These have been crucial in getting rid of my headaches.  
  • Sleep is key. My body needs a good 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, I often let other things (ahem...Facebook) get in the way of going to bed early. But as simple as this one sounds, it really makes a big difference. 
  • Kundalini yoga at least 3x/week. My housemate introduced me to kundalini yoga, and while I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, it has helped me tremendously. A 45 minute session in the morning leaves me feeling relaxed throughout the day, which has the added benefit of decreasing my food cravings. It also seems to help my digestion, which is always an issue for me. 
  • Finally, I use a netipot if I feel a headache coming on, and it seems to keep it from becoming stronger. I don't do this daily, but only if I feel like it's going to be a bad day.
Phew. Okay, there I did it. That didn't seem so bad. I mean, unless you look at the amine list and realize I can't eat chocolate. Oh, flourless chocolate cake, I've never even met you and I miss you already!

If you've read through all this, thank you for listening, and I would love to hear what makes you feel your healthiest. If you didn't make it this far, then you won't see this anyway, but I hope to be back later this week with a fabulous gluten-free, sugar-free, peanut free, tree nut free, low-amine recipe. And if you just want something to do while you're supposed to be working, you can check out my new photo project on Flickr. My goal is to post a photo a day for the next year, so I'll be updating it regularly.

Bisquick Gluten-Free Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway! The winner is: 
E-mail me your address and I'll let MyBlogSpark know!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bisquick Gluten-Free Review And Giveaway

Bisquick? Seriously? I know what you're thinking... I'm thinking it too. I never made Bisquick pancakes when I was eating gluten. Why would I start now? Well, first of all, because I was offered a prize pack through MyBlogSpark, and I thought it looked cool. Second, because I miss going to IHOP, and I think Bisquick and IHOP pancakes taste the same. Third, because these are the best pancakes I've had in years. For realz yo.

What? Are you laughing at me?

Okay, truth time: I still wouldn't ever buy these for myself because they have too much sugar in them, but I made them for a hungry group of men and women (gluten and gluten-free eaters alike) and they happily gobbled them up. I tried not to eat any myself because of the sugar, but even I couldn't resist. And they were worth it. If I weren't trying to avoid sugar, I probably would buy these for the occasional Sunday morning brunch.

Do you want to try Bisquick's gluten-free pancakes? Bisquick - via MyBlogSpark - will send one reader their own prize pack. All you have to do is leave a comment and let me know you'd like to try it. You can also tweet it, blog about it, post it on Facebook, or do anything else you'd like. Just let me know and I'll give you an extra entry for every extra thing you do. And please, please, please leave your e-mail address or I'll have no way of contacting you.

Update: This giveaway is now closed. 


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