Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hot Cocoa You Can Feel Good About

It's officially fall, and that means it's time to re-vamp your hot cocoa and make it something you're proud to share.

Here's my recipe:
  1. Warm milk of choice (cow's, goat's, rice, soy, or almond, always organic)
  2. 2 Tbsp. Powdered chocolate / cocoa (Ghiradelli Sweet Chocolate is our favorite)
  3. 1-2 drops Agave Nectar (low glycemic sweetener - a staple in a Food Prude's pantry- found near honey at almost all grocery stores)
  4. Dash of Cinnamon
Food Prude Facts:
Drinking pure cocoa, rather than eating processed forms of it (i.e. chocolate candy), is the best way to reap the many benefits, like high antioxidants without the saturated fat. Cocoa also has a positive effect on blood pressure due to the flavanols that allow vascular tissue to relax. Further, cocoa aids in glucose metabolism, and reduces your risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes by 10%.

Agave Nectar is the most beneficial and lowest glycemic sweetener on the market. Low glycemic means it won't cause a sharp rise and fall of blood sugar levels when consumed. Agave has anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties as well as antibacterial properties. It can be effective in weight loss, reducing appetite, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of certain cancers, and increasing absorption of vital nutrients such as isoflavones, calcium and magnesium. Agave Nectar is a very flexible sweetener and can replace sugar in most recipes.

Cinnamon is rich in phytonutrients which act like insulin and may help regulate blood sugar levels - especially good for people with diabetes. It also lowers bad cholesterol, and can remedy medication resistant yeast infections. It's a great source of maganese, fiber, iron, and calcium, which the agave will help you absorb in this recipe!

It has also been shown that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory - a perfect start to a busy school or work day. So next time you want a warm cup of hot cocoa, make it an advantageous cup, and have two!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gluten Freedom....

For one day at least. Paruse, eat, enjoy......without asking a gazillion questions.....it's ALL GLUTEN FREE!  Today from 4-8 at The Glass Cactus on Grapevine Lake.

Come one, come all. Sample great foods, learn about gluten free diets and health benefits and have fun. If I survive the Jailbreak run, I'll see you there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finding Celiac

Because recognizing and diagnosing Celiac disease can be much like the wild and seemingly endless quest to Finding Nemo, this post is titled after the very popular Pixar film. Similarly, the beginning scenes of this post are a little unsettling, leading into a dangerous but comical adventure with beautiful and fulfilling results.

Inspired by questioning, I will share our family diagnosis story here. For privacy reasons, I will not be using my family's real names.

Our story begins with Lane, our first daughter, who was a 'text book' baby, meaning that she had a perfectly normal and uneventful fetal experience and delivery, and was developing right on track.  Until 18 months of age when she began vomiting every time she ate wheat. That seemed simple enough, she must be just like me, allergic to wheat. So I took her off wheat (not gluten). While she stopped vomiting, the problems moved south. By age 3 she was having severe, uncontrollable diarrhea (she was potty trained but began having explosive accidents). As sad as it was to see her tummy ache, the blood in her stool was my biggest concern. Still, my first instinct was food allergies so I took her to a pediatric allergist in Dallas, who, after listening to her symptoms, very precisely and arrogantly refused to test her for food allergies and referred me to a pediatric GI down the hall.  Being young and new to mothering in general, as well as sleep deprived (because I also had a 6 month old at the time) I didn't question his blatancy and just followed his recommendation.

I took Lane to the Pediatric GI who insisted on a colonoscopy before speculation as to what could be causing this inexplicable diarrhea.  After a very traumatic procedure (which details will remain untold) the doctor diagnosed her with ulcerative colitis, prescribed an arm load of steroids and other drugs, told me that she would have colon cancer by age 25, and dismissed us. Refusing to put her on all those drugs I took her to my holistic nutritionist who had helped me with all my food allergies. She informed me that colitis just means inflammation of the colon and that I needed to figure out what was causing the inflammation, and that no matter what, Lane would benefit from a gluten free diet because gluten is hard the gut. Immediately, Lane was put on a gluten free diet and her symptoms improved to a tolerable amount of infrequent tummy aches. Unfortunately, her symptoms worsened again when she was 5 years old. After keeping a detailed food diary for her, I was sure it was food allergies and I proceeded to take her to a local (Flower Mound) allergist to have her tested. The results were conclusive, she was allergic to corn. Of all things,  CORN! I poured over the Internet, researching everything corn tainted and wearily wrote down the handful of things that did NOT have the allergen in them because it was simpler than trying to compile a list of the thousands of products that DID have corn.  Lane was now gluten free and corn free and eating a lot of rice and salad, and still having the occasional bout with diarrhea. 

Just after adjusting to our new corn free diet, we began having problems with our middle daughter, Drew, who was 3, and another 'text book' baby.  Drew suddenly began breaking out in hives every time she ate....anything. I promptly called up our friendly local allergist and took her in, only to discover that she has no food allergies. None. What was I to do now? I fed her Benedryl with every meal. Let me note here that I am not paranoid, there were two factors that led me to use small amounts of benedryl with Drew, 1) I myself have had anaphylactic reactions from allergies and they are very serious, 2) I am well versed in the quick progression of food allergies, and know that what starts out as a rash upon one encounter can turn to blocked airways upon the third. I vowed to be cautious until I got answers, which was in the very near future fortunately.

Dumbfounded, I took her to our family doctor who is a nice cross between a homeopath and a mainstream medical physician. She was open minded enough to do a blood test to look for IgA antibodies to gluten on Drew. Sure enough, she had them. That was the first indication of celiac in our family, aside from Lane's undiagnosed aversion to all things wheat. I had read about Celiac, and the diagnosis process, and I was leery of what was to come next. Typically, the Celiac diagnosis process follows this standard: blood work, colonoscopy, gluten free diet, follow up colonoscopy, diagnosis. I was not interested in traumatizing another one of my children and fortunately, neither was our family doctor.  She recommended we put Drew on a GF diet and follow up with her in a month. In the mean time, she suggested that we all get tested for IgA because celiac is genetic and everyone in our family is at risk. 

Lane had been GF for too long for the blood test to be accurate, so we tried putting her back on gluten before the blood test, but it made her so incredibly sick to her stomach after one encounter that we couldn't go through with it. Lane still does not have a firm diagnosis, all we know is that she cannot, in any way, tolerate gluten.

The rest of us were all regular wheat eaters and got blood tested. Much to my surprise, I was not the carrier. I have several food allergies, including wheat which led me to believe I would be the one with Celiac disease, but much to our surprise, it was my husband, Alan.

I'll digress here and tell you a little about his history. Alan's problems started when he was about 3 also. His mother, an enlightened RN at the time, took him to the doctor for stomach problems and diarrhea and demanded he be tested for celiac (imagine back then, they probably didn't even know what it was!) Alan's test, if they even did it correctly, was negative. So they went the dairy free - it must be lactose - direction and he grew up with continued bowel problems, thinking he was lactose intolerant. **SIDE NOTE- damage caused by undiagnosed celiac disease often causes lactose intolerance.** When I met him, he was 23 and very thin, like the malnourished product of a third world country, with the distended belly and all. He was also a picky eater. Alan never ate pasta, pizza, or anything with bread on it. He would order a sandwich and then take the bread off and just eat the meat. I thought it was very strange, he always said he just didn't like breads and things of that nature. As in many cases, his instincts were protecting him. He went gluten free when he found out he had celiac and has never felt better. He has since filled out and doesn't have the stomach problems that he has always had in the past.

My third daughter Avery, also tested positive for gluten antibodies. Meaning she did have or was going to have full blown celiac. At the time of her diagnosis, she was 16 months old and we thought she was asymptomatic, she didn't seem to have any food related issues.  So we thought. After her test results, she too went gluten free, and the Angels descended from the Heavens and blessed us with peace. Avery slept through the night. Something she had never done until now, at 16 months of age.  She was a colicky baby and never slept more than an hour at a time, even at night, but I never attributed that to GLUTEN. Until she became a 'normal' baby almost overnight after she went gluten free. Needless to say, she, too, will be GF forever.

As I learned more and more about the gluten free diet and glutinous foods, I discovered that I had inadvertently be feeding Lane a few things that I shouldn't have. Like Oats. There is a huge learning curve with the celiac disease, the gluten free diet is very complex and hard to implement. Prepare yourself for this and be patient. 

What should you do if you suspect gluten is an issue?

1) Start by keeping a food diary. Write down what you eat, when you eat it, and how you feel later. After a few weeks you should be able to go back and see a pattern.

2) Try a GF diet for a month and see if your problems go away. There are flaws with this option, of course. First, a gf diet is tricky and it would be hard for you to make sure you are completely GF. Second, once you've been gf for a while (long enough to notice improvement) you cannot be tested for celiac unless you ingest gluten regularly for about a month or so. Which sounds easy, but you must know that the longer you've been off of gluten, the sicker you'll get when/if you go back on it.

3) See a holistic doctor, a nutritionist, or a GI that specializes in Celiac, and ask for the IgA blood test for celiac. That is the first in a series of steps to getting (or ruling out) a diagnosis. Note, that if you go to a GI, they are going to require a colonoscopy for diagnosis.

4) Get allergy tested, even if you've been tested before, food allergies can develop at any time just like seasonal allergies.

As always, I hope that this information helps you. Please share it with others who may be suffering from undiagnosed celiac disease. The wide range of symptoms is too long to list here, but is available at Celiac.com and several other places. 1 in 90 people have Celiac disease today, and if ignored, it can lead to severe and irreversible health problems.

If you remember the opening to this post, you are probably wondering where the beauty and fulfillment is in all of this. Let me tell you. The fulfillment is in the answers. Knowing there is something wrong, but not knowing what can be frightening, even for the strongest faith.  The beauty is in the divine complexity of our bodies. We have been empowered with the responsibility of maintaining these intricate 'machines,' and this story reminds us to listen to them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

S'mores And Smushes Please

Labor Day weekend is highly anticipated in my home, as it brings many reasons to celebrate and reminisce. My first child was born on Labor Day weekend 2001. She, in particular, cherishes this time of year because she is the center of attention, which is hard to accomplish in a bustling household of five. Labor Day also marks the unofficial end of summer and demands one last hurrah, which gives me two good excuses to make sure this holiday weekend is special every year.

As if those reasons were not enough, I also take advantage of this family time to remember the events of  9/11/01, as dreadful as it sounds, to be mindful of those who die, and serve for our freedom, re-iterate those freedoms to my children, and to model a sincere gratitude for such liberty. In my opinion, this historical September date is as significant as Independence day and deserves reflection.

This trifecta calls for a special menu, regardless of the location of our celebration, and when treat requests are opened up to the panel, otherwise known as the three short people in my home, the results are unanimous, "S'mores and Smooshes please!"

As with everything else, gluten free s'mores present a challenge, but where there is a will, there is a way.

Because we were gluten free when gluten free wasn't cool, our first hankering for s'mores called for graham crackers made from scratch. If you've paid attention, you know that 5 years ago, I was knee deep in a 'new' diet, had three kids ages 4 and under, ran a business with a workaholic husband, and would never risk my last shred of sanity attempting to make homemade gf graham crackers. I would have to get creative.

I remembered that I was quite the pro at making gluten free chocolate chip cookies from scratch, or so my little taste testers led me to believe, and while I whipped up a batch I convinced myself that I was being resourceful instead of lazy, and once cooled, we happily proceeded to smush roasted marshmallows between them. They went over without a hitch and were deemed 'Smushes' by my girls. Unbeknownst to me, this little treat was already created by the Pennsylvanian Amish in 1917, and are still known as Whoopie Pies to Mainers. These cute little treats are not s'mores, but just as fun and somewhat more appealing to the one who cleans the faces of the consumers.

Fortunately, times have changed, and the geniuses behind Kinnikinnick Foods created gluten free graham crackers. All we have to do is pick them up at the store! (I'm easily amused, I know.) These cherished crackers are called S'moreables and are also dairy free and nut free to boot. Because they are made with whole grain flours and natural sugars like honey and molasses, they have become a summertime staple in our prudent home. Find stores that carry this brand at Kinnikinnick.com.

If you'd like to make your own, here is a GF Graham Cracker Recipe  from Living Without. Martha Stewart also has a whole wheat recipe on her site and claims they are easy to make.

So this Labor Day, in the thick of the tall Texas Pines, we will be fireside with our Hershey's bars, GF Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, and chocolate chip cookies, delighting in s'mores AND smushes just for kicks.

Please share your favorite Gluten Free Labor Day tradition with us!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quinoa Meatloaf

I am not a red meat lover, but my husband is, so I occasionally make some juicy dish that he can sink his teeth into, simply to satisfy this deep seeded and somewhat barbaric need.

Last night I pulled organic ground beef from the fridge, (it's not as random as it sounds, I bought it so I could make sure we had red meat at least once during the week), and stared at it for a few moments waiting for it to tell me exactly what it wanted to be made into. Nothing came of it so I decided to let the grill decide.

Sadly, our grill is only 3 years old and has had the starters replaced twice. Two of them have gone out again, requiring the use of a flame thrower to obtain desired flamage, leaving me to risk the safety of the skin on my right arm to make use of this pertinent cooking appliance. After a few moments of fearfully forcing my hand down into the grill, with no success, I decided the grill didn't want to cook, and I would go back and ask the beef again.

This time, the beef had an answer, it was meatloaf. Sigh. Three quarters of the way through an ever increasing exhausting day comes a challenge requiring thought.

Gluten free, mouth worthy meatloaf can be difficult. Most recipes call for bread crumbs (wheat!), or oats (gluten!), and while these two key ingredients can be purchased in 'certified gluten free' form, they are both expensive and don't always provide the desired taste or consistency that their glutinous predecessors do. (And I don't have either of them and I'm not going to the store at this point in the day).

So I stood in the pantry doorway and physically assaulted every remotely grain-like food product available, trying to determine it's meatloaf potential. While crushed Kix cereal would have worked, Quinoa was given a rose....I mean chosen. (Yes, that was a reference to The Bachelorette, I couldn't resist).

How exactly do I make quinoa meatloaf? I digress.

I start by keeping an Internet ready computer in my kitchen, and, as I do on many too-tired-to-be-creative-nights, I go to Allrecipes.com and type in Quinoa Meatloaf. Poof, there's a recipe for me to tweak....I mean try.

Quinoa Meatloaf (this one calls for turkey, I used beef but either will work. I skipped the hot pepper sauce, and used onion and garlic powder to simplify. Typically I like a ketchupy sauce on top, but thought I'd give this one a shot, and it wasn't revolting!)


  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 (20 ounce) package ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water


  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
  4. Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serve with something organic and green (like peas, spinach, broccoli) and a starch like a baked sweet potato, and ENJOY!

For Email Marketing you can trust