I’ve been trying to keep a gluten free house for quite some time now as we all feel so much better for it. But as toast is a requirement with my kids, I’ve succumbed to buying sliced bread from Genius or Wharburton – the two gluten free alternatives available in my local shop. Yesterday I finally decided to make a loaf myself just to see what it tasted like. Everyone appears to be doing it and how hard could it be?
As of late I have decided to embark on a mission to find out more about the timely issue pertaining to gluten, wheat, sugar and their effects on the body. As a mother of two young children, I consider this important enough to warrant further investigation and I am curious that the research and the findings are now coming from doctors themselves – in a field that was previously deemed ‘alternative health’. There are a number of public leading voices in this field such as Dr. Alejandro Junger, Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr.William Davis to name but a few. Although all are specialists in their own fields (cardiology, neurology etc) what they have noticed in clinical practice is that patients who are prescribed a diet free from wheat, gluten, sugar and starchy foods appear to reap benefit far and beyond what they sought a doctor’s advice for in the first place. As a consequence, these doctors have begun somewhat of a crusade to make us, the general public, realise that the modern Western diet is slowly but surely killing us with chronic illness, obesity and diabetes growing in exponential numbers.
What is interesting about these thinkers, and what they all tend to agree on, is that health and wellbeing need a holistic approach – meaning that unless you are firing on all cylinders (right food, sleep, emotional wellbeing, exercise, relaxation etc) your body will sooner or later get out of sync. Therefore, looking at health from a purely cellular level and treating the symptom, often with powerful and lengthy cycles of drugs, may be not be the full answer. The neurologist, Dr. Perlmutter, goes as far as saying that we alter our brains by what we eat and how we live. Something that previously was deemed to be a ‘done deal’ ie. once your brain was formed you were who you were, is now considered outdated knowledge. The benefits of a gluten-free/wheat free eating regime has produced some startling improvments in Dr. Perlmutter’s clinic on patients suffering from Alzheimers, Dementia and ADHD purely from changing their diet! Weight loss, clearer skin and more energy seem to be accidental by-products of this. Today stress, depression, being overweight and feeling sluggish are issues that almost all of us are dealing with on a daily basis. Perhaps it is time to take note and get in tune with our bodies and introduce a better way to eat which nourishes us from the inside and out. Here is my current reading list on the subject:
Grain Brain, The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar – your brain’s silent killer, by Dr. David Perlmutter
Clean, The revolutionary programme to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself, by Dr. Alejandro Junger
Wheat Belly, loose the wheat, loose the weight and find your path back to health, by Dr. William Davis
Have a great Saturday! x
Mornings can be a stressful time to advocate healthy eating for our children. In the rush to get to school/work we tend to serve what we know they’ll eat and what is quick. More often than not this means cereal, toast and fruit. Although studies have shown repeatedly that a diet high in carbohydrates causes our insulin levels to soar, due to the carbs transforming into blood sugar (and this very much includes ‘healthy’ options such as whole wheat too), we are stuck with what a sensible and realistic option may look like.
Wheat Belly; Lose the Wheat Lose the Weight author, Dr William Davies, even claims that two slices of whole wheat toast raises blood sugar higher than eating a Snickers bar and is equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar!! Although a cardiologist, in his clinical practice he has seen the removal of wheat consumption linked to improvement in many other areas than the heart, such as irritable bowl syndrome, asthma, arthritis, celiac disease, mental clarity, deeper sleep and emotional stability. Read Dr. Davies blog to find out more about his findings.
Sending your kids off to school with a belly full of sugar, therefore, may be less than a desirable route to go so what to do? My dear friend Marika, a seasoned physio with an interest in alternative health, suggests that the introduction of gluten free pancakes could be the answer to the breakfast dilemma. With four young children, some with gluten intolerance, she has found it to be a popular and nourishing start to the day in her family. The wheat flour is replaced by coconut flour or ground almonds – both readily available from Ocado and Waitrose in the UK but other general supermarkets too such as Whole Foods. The eggs provides much needed protein and the banana gives the sweetness without giving away the fact it isn’t made with ‘normal’ flour. It was my breakfast this morning and it was absolutely delicious topped with blueberries. Great recipe that I will try with my children this week. x
Marika’s Gluten Free Pancakes – serves 4
1 cup ground almonds/coconut flour (I used a mixture of both)
1-2 cups of milk or milk alternative (coconut is my favorite)
Coconut oil for cooking
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you have reached desired pancake batter consistency – start out with less liquid and add as you go along so it doesn’t get too runny. Cook like normal in a pan with coconut oil – I find you have to cook them a little longer so they don’t disintegrate as the absence of gluten means that the glue (hence the name) in regular flour isn’t there. Serve on its own or with berries. Happy Sunday x
This soba noodle recipe is loosely inspired by Kris Carr’s blog, Crazy Sexy Life, and was created by Elisabeth Rider. I can highly recommend the fresh flavours of mange tout, coriander and asparagus mixed in with the chewy texture of soba. As usual I went off piste due to having the ‘wrong’ veggies at home but it was not a problem – very rarely do you come across a combo that doesn’t work. Which is why eating green (and colourful) is so easy.
Soba noodles is a Japanese staple product and made of 100% buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is especially great for those with a gluten intolerance and known for its cholesterol reducing properties. It can be eaten both hot and cold in soups or salads and is popular in Japan and elsewhere. For example, a favorite dish on our recent Hawaiian trip was cold soba noodle salad with fermented beans. It may not sound so incredibly appetising perhaps but it turned out to be really very tasty. The accompanied slurping is an additional bonus – totally accepted practice in fact. Top tip is to not over cook (I did) as the noodles can go a bit flabby. Here is the original recipe which I was inspired by:
1 8-oz package of buckwheat soba noodles
1 8-oz package of frozen organic shelled edamame
1 large carrot, julienned
1 large red bell pepper julienned
1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2 cups florets)
3 baby cucumbers, chopped
5-6 scallions, green and white parts finely chopped
3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
For the dressing:
1 ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon flax-seed oil
1 ½ tablespoon Braggs Amino Acids Liquid (or organic tamari/soy sauce)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 inch knob ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon your favorite hot sauce (optional, for heat)
Add the prepared carrot, red bell pepper, broccoli, cucumbers, scallions and cilantro to a large bowl and reserve. This recipe feeds an army; use the biggest one you have.
Fill a separate large bowl with purified ice water to shock the edamame and noodles after blanching/cooking.
Bring a large pot of purified water to a boil, and blanch the edamame for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider utensil, transfer the edamame immediately to the ice water to cool it, and stop the cooking process. Remove the cool edamame from the bowl with your slotted spoon or spider utensil (let it drain well), and add it to the bowl of veggies.
Bring the water back up to a boil, then break the noodles in half and add them to the pot. Cook them a minute short according to package instructions to al dente, then transfer to the ice water just like for the edamame. Add more ice to the bowl if needed before adding the noodles.
While the noodles cook, add all of the ingredients for the dressing to a medium bowl and whisk together vigorously for about 2 minutes, until well emulsified.
Remove the cooled noodles from the ice bath with your slotted spoon or spider utensil. Let it drain well, just like the edamame. Add the noodles to the bowl of veggies.
Pour the dressing over the entire bowl of noodles and veggies. Toss well to combine. This dish can be served at room temperature or cold. Enjoy x