Monday, March 18, 2013

Food intolerance Manifestations

for your enjoyment: 
a picture I found of me leaping (unsuccessfully, I might add) over a stream during the mud run. isn't my outfit super attractive?

Over the last few years, I've learned to pay attention to my body and can usually identify when I'm reacting to something I ate. I've also learned to watch the Little Miss for her reactions.

That said, I still sometimes miss things.

My reactions have evolved from stomach pain and throat swelling. Now I get eczema under my wedding ring (weird, I know) and in my scalp. It took me awhile to figure out that the rash under my rings wasn't poison ivy like I originally thought, but directly related to what I eat. It also took me awhile to make the connection between the itchy "dandruff" and what I eat. Thankfully my hair hides most of the damage, but I do go around looking like I have a bad case of dandruff if I haven't been eating right.

With LMS, it's a bit trickier. Some things are fairly obvious, like intestinal issues, but others are less cut and dried. Changes in her behavior sometimes don't click right away with me, even though I know (and have known for some time) that her behavior is greatly influenced by what she eats.

Recently I've finally made another connection that has eluded me for months.

This past fall LMS and I went on a road trip with my sister for a few days and LMS started coughing. I chalked it up to the dry air in the car (I always get dehydrated when road tripping) and when we got home I turned her humidifier on each night and the cough went away.

The cough re-surfaced around Christmas, which coincided with another road trip, and some actual winter weather. LMS got sick on New Years, and even though she got better, the cough hung around. Last week she got a bit sick again and the cough evolved from a dry, unproductive cough (so annoying to listen to) to a pleghmy cough. I'd been thinking about taking her to the doctor, but with the phlegm and cold, the doctor would just say to keep an eye on things.

I've been praying about how to help her, and I finally made the connection between the cough she had in September and her current cough. And I realized that it wasn't caused by the dry air- it was caused by eating things that don't agree with her. When we road trip, we are a lot more lenient about what we eat since we invariably have to eat at restaurants at least part of the time. We hadn't started GAPS yet when we went on the road trip with my sister, but we were pretty close. When we returned home, we went back to eating more carefully and her cough cleared up because she wasn't eating the offending foods any more, not because the humidifier made a difference.

At Christmas we cheated on GAPS while traveling to my sister's, and we've been cheating in one way or another (for one reason or another) ever since. LMS's cough hasn't been able to clear up because of the continued cheating.

Yeah, it's only taken me since September to realize that coughing is one of LMS's food intolerance manifestations. I'm not always the fastest on the uptake, that's for sure.

My super-sensitive sense of smell seems to be disappearing (thankfully!). I only have a couple weeks left before I hit the second trimester and I'm really hoping the nausea and lack of appetite clear up then so I can start cooking food again, which will enable us to get back on the GAPS wagon.  I can't wait for LMS's cough to go away....

Friday, March 15, 2013


pretty spring flowers we bought yesterday

I've wanted to join a CSA for 3 or 4 years now, but could never quite justify the cost in my mind.

Then I realized I was going to the grocery store and only buying produce and spending X amount of dollars to do it. I vaguely recalled that the CSA's I'd investigated were not that expensive.

I did some research, and found a local CSA that has a winter option- reduced offerings, but it does include random items like local cider, local raw honey, local pastured beef, etc to make sure you're getting your money's worth. And it's a lot less than what I was spending at the grocery store.

I still need to buy some produce items at the grocery store (our current diet is restricted enough that we have to eat some veggies out of season, though I'd like to be able to eat with the seasons), but it's a lot less than before. I'm still buying our weekly pastured chicken at Whole Foods, but I may switch to getting it from the CSA- it's a little more expensive (not much), but it would mostly eliminate the need to go to Whole Foods every week. It's not nicknamed Whole Paycheck without reason.... I'm also trying to reduce the number of stores I'll have to go to each week once the baby comes- less running around with a newborn is always a good thing.

I really like how flexible our CSA is:

  • monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly options
  • small, medium, and large boxes of produce
  • milk, eggs, fish, beef, pork, chicken, bread options (varying delivery options available)
  • al a carte- you can order more of something if you want, and just pay for that
  • very allergy friendly- easy substitutions
  • you can quit any time it stops working for you- you pay weekly, as opposed to for the season
  • Pickup and delivery options- less options in the winter, but more the rest of the year

I should mention that our CSA is not an actual farm that sells just what it produces: it finds local sources  for everything and builds the boxes from there. They tell us where everything comes from and whether it's organic, low-spray, etc.

So we get a large box of produce once a week, with a portion of pork (local, pastured pork- can't find that at Whole Foods) once a month. They send out an email each week stating what's in the boxes that week and I just respond and ask them to substitute the items we can't eat. They have the info in their computer, but responding each week allows me to state a preference for what we'd like instead- usually apples one week, squash another week, etc. Right now I drive downtown to pick up our box each week, but next month I'll be able to pick it up at a location that's a lot closer and more convenient- they'll be starting their regular spring/summer routine.

I hear everyone talking about Bountiful Baskets, but they're not available in our area :(
Do you get food from a CSA?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gluten Free Food Storage

(our previous food storage set up, but the curtains made it too hard to easily see what we had)

Several months ago we bought a Shelf Reliance Food Storage System (that I finally set up a week or so ago), and I started looking into finding gluten free food storage items.

A lot of foods that are naturally gluten free (like freeze dried fruits, veggies, and meats) are packed in shared facilities, so there's the potential for some cross-contamination. Since this has proven to be an issue for me in the past, I knew I had to be completely anal and find a company with a dedicated gluten free facility.

I only found one: Auguson Farms. They have a couple packing facilities, and one of them is a dedicated gluten free facility. Unfortunately, they don't offer their full range of products as gluten free, but they do have a decent selection, and it's much better than all the other companies I've looked into.

We decided to do a bulk order to start with, and several weeks after placing the order, FedEx brought 16 boxes of buckets and cans of dried and freeze dried foods (poor delivery guy!). An advantage of placing a large order: we got free shipping, as well as some free food items.

We'll continue to place orders, but not so much at one time. Now that I've finally rearranged the basement workroom (a workroom no longer) and set up the Shelf Reliance system it's so much easier to get to our food storage and see what we have.

(a sneak peak of the basement bedroom that used to be the workroom and is now our storage/exercise room- more pictures coming soon!)

I know we're told to store what we eat, but that's not really an option for us right now. This summer I plan on doing some canning and dehydrating, but for now the bulk of our food storage is dried and freeze dried fruits, veggies, meats, beans, rice, and lentils. I'd like to have food we could actually eat without having problems (like if our food budget were to be drastically reduced), but at this point, most of it would only be good if we were in a true emergency situation with no access to other food. If that were the case, we'd be able to eat, but we'd have problems.

We stopped building up our food storage for awhile because of this problem. Since most of what we eat now is fresh or frozen, it's hard to store what we eat. As I googled around, looking for ideas, I found that the best source of info for real food (how we eat these days) food storage are preppers. You know, the people who are preparing for the end of the world? Not all of them eat a real food diet, but I have found several bloggers who do, which has been helpful.

For us, focusing on self reliance in addition to food storage seems to be the answer. This means getting a garden actually producing veggies (unlike the complete failure last summer), and getting some chickens. I keep debating whether we want to keep them for eggs (which we still haven't added back into our diet) or just for meat. I'm thinking meat chickens this year, layers and meat chickens next year.

We also need to make the space for a larger freezer. We have a small chest freezer, but it can only hold 1/4 of a cow, with no room for any fruits, veggies or other meat. If we want to store food in the freezer, we need to have the space. Now if we could just figure out where to put the freezer...

What's your approach to food storage?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

GAPS/Gluten Free Disney World & Universal Studios Trip

we saw lots of princesses and other characters, but LMS only got a pic with Ariel- she had a really short line because it was the end of her shift

We finished the 6 phases of the GAPS Intro Diet back before Christmas (I still need to finish that post), but since we went to my sister’s house for Christmas, I took advantage of that time to do some judicious cheating. I knew our Disney trip was coming up and I wanted to gauge how we would react to eating non-GAPS approved foods. We still reacted, but it wasn’t as bad as it used to be, which shows that we have made progress- YAY!

Since we wouldn't have access to a kitchen, we couldn't just cook all our meals. I thought about our options and made a plan. GAPS foods for breakfast, gluten free park food for lunch, miscellaneous gluten free restaurants for dinner.

I cooked down and dehydrated 10 quarts of chicken broth (following directions I found here) to make homemade chicken bouillon that we could take with us. I prepared butternut squash, divided it into baggies, and froze it. I blanched some broccoli, lightly sautéed some zucchini and summer squash, then froze baggies of them and some green peas. I also chopped up and divided some roast chicken.

For breakfast, I walked up two flights of stairs to the nearest microwave, where I heated up some squash, some chicken, and some veg, and made some broth using the bouillon. Not ideal, and I could have sworn there was an in-room microwave, but it all worked out.

The last two nights we were in a different hotel (more on that in another post), and there was no microwave available.  We ended up using a one cup coffee maker to make cups of broth, and ate fruit for breakfast. The coffee maker worked surprisingly well, especially compared to microwaving it.

The dried broth turned out great, though I didn't double check the instructions before starting to cook it down. I should have scooped all the fat off, but only remembered after the fact. I kept the bouillon in the fridge just to make sure it didn't go rancid, and it was fine.

The zucchini and summer squash ended up kind of soggy when reheated, so I think I'll stick with broccoli and peas in the future.

We didn't end up eating all the food we brought, but I'd rather have too much than too little.

For lunches we ate at counter service restaurants in the parks. I tracked down the updated gluten free lists beforehand, which was helpful. Unfortunately, they made some changes in the last year, and they don’t have dedicated fryers for gluten free fries anymore L They’ll bake them for you, but they take forever, and everyone else’s food is getting cold and the little one is getting impatient….

Monday we ate at Pizzafari in the Animal Kingdom. LMS and I ordered the gluten free pizza. I don't remember the brand, maybe OMG It's Gluten Free? Whatever brand, it was disgusting. The pizzas were very small and tasted like pasty cardboard. Gross! They came with caesar salads minus the croutons and dressing, but we didn't eat them- I found multiple bread crumbs in the salads. I don't think they picked croutons off, I think the cheese or lettuce bin was contaminated with bread crumbs. Not worth the hassle to get them replaced, so we gave them to the guys. Our meals cost the same as the guys' pizzas and salads, despite the drastic difference in amount of food, and were grossly overpriced.

Tuesday we ate at Liberty Inn in Epcot. LMS and I ordered gluten free hamburgers and grapes for her and an OMG It's Gluten Free brownie for me. The wait was long, but the food tasted pretty good, though I had to save my brownie for later since it was still frozen. It tasted pretty good once it defrosted.

Wednesday we ate at Fairfax Fare in Hollywood Studios. LMS got a kids meal turkey sandwich, applesauce, and Enjoy Life gluten free chocolate chip cookies. They used a gluten free bun for the sandwich, but it was still frozen and very stale. Yuck. I ordered a half rack of ribs with slaw and baked beans. They weren't on the gluten free list because of the potential for cross-contamination, but I decided to risk it. The flavor of the sauce was good, but the cut of meat was substandard- very gristly and not at all fall-off-the-bone tender. I didn't get glutened, so I was happy.

Thursday morning we picked up our race packets, and weren’t actually in one of the parks yet, so we went to 5 Guys for burgers and fries.

Friday we went to Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios, but I hadn’t been able to find any gluten free info ahead of time, and nothing looked promising while we were there. So we made do with some snacks (Butterbeer is quite tasty!) and ate a late lunch/early dinner at PF Changs. I’ve heard good things about PF Changs in general, as well as their gluten free options. I’ve never eaten there because we don’t have one nearby, so when I found one in the Orlando area, we decided to give it a try. It was quite yummy, and a nice change from our other dinner choices.

We ate at Outback one night- we’ve always had good luck with their gluten free menu, though it does get pricey. We also ate at Chili’s several times, but that started getting old. We ate at 5 Guys a couple times, and we did Chipotle for lunch Saturday after the races.

End result
13 meals not prepared by me, but no gluten! Unlike last year, when I got glutened two days in a row. Whether this was because there was truly no contamination or because my intestines have made progress, I don’t know, but I’m not complaining. While LMS and I did react a bit to what we ate (dairy, rice, and potatoes were the major offenders we ate), it was a lot less pronounced than I was afraid it was going to be.

Overall, our experience eating gluten free at Disney World was quite a let down after last year, when we had a much better experience. I know suppliers and options available are always changing, but having a wider variety of options that taste good would be nice.

I’m really glad I brought the broth. Before we left, we were getting sick, so I did some research and found a suggestion here to add kudzu root starch to our broth to help us get over our colds quicker. I actually had a bag of kudzu root starch in the cupboard, so I added it to our broth all week. I really think it helped LMS recover quickly and shortened my symptoms. Though running a half marathon and fighting a cold was a bit too much for my body to handle at the same time, so I did relapse a bit.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Super Yummy Nightshade Free BBQ Ribs

ok, so they don't look pretty, but they taste good! we served them with steamed broccoli and mashed roasted cauliflower. Yum!

Ribs are easy to prepare, but BBQ sauces have tomatoes and peppers in them, and rubs have paprika and cayenne (also peppers) in them. Since nightshades and I don't get along, that was a problem. We've been doing some research, and after some trial and error, we've come up with some ribs that are yummy and don't have the offending nightshades.

Super Yummy Nightshade Free BBQ Ribs (adapted from a recipe found here)

Baby back ribs
Fauxmato BBQ Sauce
Sweet Dry Rub

Remove membrane from back of ribs. Place ribs on a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet and sprinkle dry rub on one side, then rub it in. Turn over and do the same for the other side. Let sit for 15 or 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees while ribs are resting. Spread bbq sauce on both sides of the ribs. Place a sheet of foil on top of ribs and fold over all sides, sealing the ribs into a packet. Bake ribs in oven for at least 2 hours. We've baked them for 2 1/2 hours and they've just fallen apart before we even got them on the grill. Experiment and see what works best with your oven. After removing from oven, carefully open foil and spread more bbq sauce on the ribs. Throw (or gently place) ribs on the grill for about 10 minutes each side. Be careful not to have the grill too hot or to leave them on too long as the sugars will burn instead of caramelizing. Remove from grill and enjoy!

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free, peanut free, nut free, coconut free, soy free, as well as free of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, sorghum, tapioca, and shellfish. Always check labels before using to make sure the ingredients and/or manufacturing conditions haven't been changed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nightshade Free Sweet Dry Rub

When I made ribs this week, I first had to make the BBQ sauce and the dry rub.

BBQ rubs usually have paprika in them, but paprika is made from peppers and I can't eat it, even in small amounts. Because of the lack of paprika and the presence of black pepper, this rub is a bit peppery instead of spicy.

Sweet Dry Rub (adapted from a recipe found here, other ideas are there as well)
6 Tbl brown sugar
3 Tbl Sea salt or Kosher salt (you want a coarse salt that won't soak into the meat right away)
3 Tbl ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp mustard powder

Mix ingredients together and store in a cool, dry place.

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free, peanut free, nut free, coconut free, soy free, as well as free of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, sorghum, tapioca, and shellfish. Always check labels before using to make sure the ingredients and/or manufacturing conditions haven't been changed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fauxmato BBQ Sauce (Tomato Free)

I made ribs this week, which meant I finally sat down and tried to figure out our BBQ sauce recipe. This version tasted close to the one Mr M made awhile ago (but didn't document) that we've been trying to re-create since. This sauce gets a Korean BBQ sauce flavor from the sesame oil and ume plum vinegar, but it's not over-powering. In the past we've used a bottled Korean BBQ sauce that was really good that contained whole sesame seeds, so you could easily add a tablespoon or two of whole sesame seeds as well.

Fauxmato BBQ Sauce

4 c fauxmato sauce
2 tbl worcestershire sauce (recipe found here, mix together the ingredients below)
     1/2 c cider vinegar
     2 tbsp coconut aminos
     2 tsps water
     1/4 tsp mustard powder
     1/4 tsp onion powder
     1/4 tsp ground ginger
     1/4 tsp garlic powder
     1/8 tsp pepper
     1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl ume plum vinegar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tbl coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp tamarind paste
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf

Simmer for about half an hour. Remove bay leaf and use sauce. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers. Great on ribs and chicken.

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free, peanut free, nut free, coconut free, soy free, as well as free of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, sorghum, tapioca, and shellfish. Always check labels before using to make sure the ingredients and/or manufacturing conditions haven't been changed.