How to eat your gluten free cake and keep your friends too

How to eat your gluten free cake and keep your friends too

Worried about going gluten free and being that person at the party or that friend at dinner who seems like they have to ask all the questions and need ALL the things!!??  How do you go gluten free in a way that serves you and doesn’t impose on your relationships with friends, family, and significant others around you?!

In the spirit of national Celiac awareness month, I wanted to take things beyond the (gluten free) food.  If you’ve ever had to go on a restrictive diet or give up any of your favorite foods you understand that going gluten free goes far beyond just the food itself.  Because food is such an integral part of our quality of life and we MUST eat to survive, changes in diet can ultimately change our social lives and the community around us. It’s easy to let yourself BECOME your diagnosis and let it own you in a way.  Say no to being jail-bound by your gluten free lifestyle and say yes to it providing the opportunity to help you feel your best and live your best life! How to do that?

 I’m here to share the scoop as someone who has gone through the ups and downs and ultimately found some of the secret sauce.  

How to go gluten free & still maintain a happy body, mind & social life!

Always come prepared

If you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac or gluten just simply doesn’t love you back in the way you wish it did-introduce yourself to your kitchen appliances.  Bringing my own gluten free dishes and/or baked goods has become a regular part of my attendance to a social gathering. This way, I always know I’ll have something to eat at that summer bbq or get together.  Never expect your friends/family to be completely on board with having food for you-especially when this is a new diagnosis or lifestyle for you. If they happen to cook things for you-hooray! That’s a huge win!

Do your dirty work behind the scenes

Whenever going to a restaurant, ALWAYS call ahead and ask that they can accommodate you-specifically asking if they can avoid cross-contamination with gluten if you have Celiac disease.  Using a script as follows has been very helpful to me: “Are you able to provide a safely gluten free meal for an allergy that will avoid any cross contamination?  Can you share with me what items on your menu would accommodate that so I can plan ahead? Do I need to ask to speak with anyone in particular like a manager?”  This way, you will get to the restaurant armed with an order in mind and you don’t have to be “that person” asking a million questions at the table in front of your friends. Always remind your server of your allergy when you get there.

Verbalize gratitude

There is no need to apologize for your allergy or food preferences-but ALWAYS be grateful for those around you who help support, accept and accommodate for you. Gratitude puts out good energy into the world and brings that positivity back your way.  Those around you will be that much more likely to support and help (and maybe even make you some gluten free treats) when you genuinely thank them for going out of their way. If family/friends aren’t supportive or don’t seem to get it, have patience and be kind to them. Stay present to this fact: Those who have never had to personally deal with a food allergy on their own will never fully understand eating gluten free like you do-and that’s ok!

Laugh it off

Some of the best advice I have ever been given was: “Stop taking yourself so seriously”.  This may seem silly and somewhat counterintuitive being that Celiac is a serious thing but sometimes we need to be reminded to laugh it off and that life is never perfect!  Remembering to laugh when the going gets tough and making fun of ourselves can be so healing! Surround yourself with those who enjoy laughing and joking around like you do and remember that mistakes and screw ups are part of what make us human.

Looking for a tasty and crowd pleasing gluten free recipe to bring to your next get together?  Try my Mediterranean Seven Layer dip here!

With Love, GFG

Healthy Candy Guide

Healthy Candy Guide

As we approach Halloween and the holiday season, allowing yourself or your kiddos some sweets and treats can totally be part of a balanced lifestyle!  How can you make informed choices?  Broaden your awareness of  toxic ingredients to watch out for so you can feel empowered in the choices you’re making!  I’ve done some of the work for you and listed below some common candy additives to watch out for (and the sneaky candies they’re still hiding in) as well as my top picks for healthier candy choices.  Candy that can benefit your health seem too good to be true?!  Some candies on my list even include health boosting additions like added fiber, turmeric and antioxidants 😀

The Top 5 Junky Candy Ingredients to Avoid:

  1. Artificial Food Dyes: Food colorings have been found in numerous research studies to be correlated with cancer, hyperactivity and allergy reactions.  
    • The most commonly used dyes include Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6; these can be found in skittles, jolly ranchers, smarties and sour patch kids.
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup: Linked in countless research studies to diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, this heavily processed form of sugar is highly addictive and made from genetically modified corn.
    • Where will you find it? Lifesavers and Baby Ruth bars
  3. Vegetable Oils: Since the recent outlaw of trans fats from foods this year (aka partially hydrogenated oils) many candies have been replaced with processed vegetable oils.  The problem here is that many vegetable oils are laden with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as well as high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.  Look out for vegetable oils in the form of soybean oil, canola oil and peanut oils on ingredient lists.  As a side note, the FDA has granted a one year extension for some companies who have found it difficult to find a replacement for trans fats in their products until July of 2019. Therefore, keep a lookout for partially hydrogenated oils still hidden in some packaged candies and foods!  
    • Almond Joy and Snickers bars
  4. TBHQ: a synthetic food additive used to extend shelf life; associated with increased incidence of tumors; possible association with ADHD and food allergy incidence
    • Candy that contains it: Butterfingers and Reese’s cups
  5. Shellac: May be found on ingredient lists as resinous glaze or confectioner’s glaze; it makes up the shiny shell of various candies and it is derived from a resin secreted by a type of beetle; it is also used in sealants and varnishes for furniture
    • Found in the coatings of colorful candies such as M&Ms and Skittles

PS for my gluten free peeps: Look out for ingredients such as yeast, natural flavors, flours, maltodextrin, caramel color and food starch; unless on the list specified above, those candies may contain gluten!

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Did the information above inspire you to find healthier candy options free of all of the junk?  The list below includes my favorite junk-free candies that are also free of gluten, artificial colors, flavorings, dyes and additives!

My Top Healthier Candy Picks:

1. Smart Sweetsthe “healthified” take on swedish fish, gummy bears and sour patch kids we’ve all been waiting for!  These are free of added sugar and any artificial sweeteners/colors/flavors in addition to being made in a dedicated gluten, peanut, tree-nut, dairy, soy and casein free-facility.  They are just sweetened with a little bit of stevia-a natural sweetener derived from a leaf that does not stimulate a blood sugar spike.  Bonus-these have prebiotic fiber added-a good source of “food” for your healthy gut bacteria to help them flourish!

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2. UnReal Candy-A healthier take on some childhood favorites- M&Ms, peanut M&Ms and Reese’s cups-their colorful candies use natural food-based dyes from things like beets and turmeric!  All of their tasty chocolate treats happen to be certified gluten free, fair trade, vegan, organic and free of GMOs.

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3. Eating EvolvedChocolate bars and nut butter cups, all products are certified organic, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, and vegan.   All products have a simple ingredient list and sweeteners range from stevia to coconut sugar-a lower glycemic sweetener.  The darker the better-the 100% coconut cacao bar is chock full of cancer fighting antioxidants!

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4. Wholesome Candies-do you have a child with numerous allergies?!  Not to fear-this company makes gummies, lollipops and jelly beans that are made and packaged in a facility free of the 10 most common food allergens, including dairy/casein, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame and sulfites!  They are also fair trade certified, corn syrup free and vegan.

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With Love, GFG

References:
https://www.verywell.com/gluten-free-candy-list-562806http://www.glutenawayblog.com/2012/10/gluten-free-candy-list.htmlhttps://www.fda.gov/https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/https://jillcastle.com/childhood-nutrition/halloween-treats-ingredients-allergens/https://www.bestfoodfacts.org/tbhq-what-is-it-and-is-it-dangerous/http://www.onegreenplanet.org/

Food As Medicine: Culinary Herbs

Food As Medicine: Culinary Herbs

In my opinion, fresh herbs are some of the most underrated and under-utilized natural food flavorings!  They are a powerhouse of nutrition and no matter what-all fresh herbs provide us with some kind of phytonutrient health benefit!  Most of us remember to eat more vegetables when trying to promote health but we forget to up our intake of herbs. I’ve provided some easy tips and tricks below on why we should be eating more of these flavor boosters  and how to include more of them into your daily eats!

  • Basil
    • Why? Natural adaptogenic helping to improve our stress response; helps reduce inflammation and pain related to inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; fights off disease
    • How?
      • Make a healthier salad dressing-try my Basil Dressing recipe: blend together: handful of basil, 1 part apple cider vin to 2 parts olive oil, 1 clove garlic, s + p to taste
      • Add more flavor to your traditional chicken soup recipe by stirring in fresh chopped basil
  • Chamomile
    • Why?  Improves skin health and clarity; promotes healthy digestion and reduces nausea; helps with sleep; reduces inflammation
    • How?
      • Steep 2 chamomile tea bags in a covered mug for 4-5 minutes; the process of covering the tea traps in the volatile oils making this tea a medicinal dose of herbs
      • Add to a smoothie:  Combine 1 cup chilled chamomile herb tea, 1 cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup frozen mango, ½ banana and 1 small piece of ginger; Blend and enjoy!
  • Cilantro
    • Why?  Natural appetite stimulant; fights indigestion; helps with bad breath; natural chelator of heavy metals
    • How?
      • Consume raw vs. cooked for more of the medicinal benefits: chop and sprinkle atop your favorite guacamole recipe
      • Switch up your pesto by using fresh cilantro instead of basil; add to a food processor with walnuts, minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon; blend with olive oil until desired consistency & serve over zucchini noodles
  • Oregano
    • Why?  Potent antioxidant, helps fight of parasites, bacteria and yeast overgrowth, stimulates the immune system
    • How?
      • Make your own tomato sauce instead of buying!  Add fresh or dried oregano to fresh chopped tomatoes and saute with garlic, olive oil and chopped onion until cooked down to a chunky sauce
      • Add oregano to ground turkey or lamb for greek-inspired meatballs
  • Parsley
    • Why?  Naturally helps the body rid itself of toxins, aids digestion by helping to  fight gas buildup in the intestines, supports healthy thyroid function
    • How?
      • Season roasted cauliflower with fresh chopped parsley and himalayan sea salt
      • Add a handful to your favorite green juice recipe to boost detox benefits
  • Peppermint
    • Why?  Helps fight off fever and nausea, aids colic, natural anti-diarrheal, improves headaches
    • How?
      • Sip organic peppermint tea after meals to help with digestion
      • Combine fresh chopped mint leaves, orange sections and raw fennel over greens for a quick and refreshing salad
  • Rosemary
    • Why?  Improves memory function and supports a healthy brain, supports oral hygiene and freshens breath
    • How?
      • Toss cubed sweet potato and chopped cabbage in olive oil and fresh rosemary; roast in the oven until tender
      • Sprinkle avocado toast with fresh rosemary and a squeeze of lemon

 

With Love, GFG

12 Tips for Cleaner, Greener Eating

12 Tips for Cleaner, Greener Eating

Sometimes the more we learn about eating and living healthfully, the more we can feel burdened by the “toxic” world we live in! 

Instead of resorting to spending thousands of dollars on fancy air filters or thinking you need to detox via a green juice cleanse, I’ve provided you with some simple and easy ways to make your everyday eating experience a cleaner one.  

These tips will not only help you “greenify” your lifestyle, they will also aid your body in it’s natural ability to perform detoxification.

  1. Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits/vegetables that are organic/non-GMO as much as affordable to avoid chemicals, herbicides,etc.  Not affordable? Buy mostly organic and refer to the Dirty Dozen list for those you should prioritize:
  2. Choose wild-caught fish vs. farmed; stick to lower-mercury fish such as anchovies, haddock, salmon, sardines, shrimp, trout or whitefish and avoid predatory fish like swordfish, shark or ahi/bigeye tuna
  3. Choose organic, pastured eggs and chickens free of antibiotics and hormones; the high sulfur content in eggs and amino acids in the protein of these foods are supportive of detox (specifically the second phase of detox in the liver that washes out all toxins)!
  4. Choose grass fed/grass finished beef wherever possible; animals that are grass fed have a higher omega 3 fatty acid content vs. grain fed which are higher in the more inflammatory (omega 6) fats
  5. Drink filtered water (reverse osmosis or carbon filter) and drink 8-10 glasses daily
  6. Limit/avoid use of microwave ovens to limit electromagnetic radiation exposure
  7. Encourage regular elimination by having bowel movements at least once a day; consider a gentle Magnesium supplement such as Natural Calm to improve constipation
  8. Consume plenty of detox-boosting vegetables: celery, beets, garlic and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower and collard greens
  9. Choose decaf green tea or an herbal detox tea containing dandelion root, ginger root, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, cardamom seed and/or cinnamon bark; I like Traditional Medicinals everyday detox and lemon detox teas
  10. Add plenty of herbs/spices such as cilantro, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, parsley turmeric and curry when cooking
  11. Increase chlorophyll intake by adding dark leafy greens to a smoothie or wheatgrass; you may also try a greens powder such as Amazing Grass
  12. Store leftovers in glass jars or containers to minimize ingestion of BPA and other chemicals; these are known to disrupt hormones as well increase cancer risk

Always remember to eat the rainbow:)

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With Love, GFG

5 Foods for Boosting Brain Health

5 Foods for Boosting Brain Health

Brain Fog Much?  

Many of us are looking for more ways to stave off brain decline and improve brain function and alertness on a daily basis.

The good news?

There are many therapeutic foods that naturally help heal our brains and heighten cognitive function by increasing focus and memory, helping to balance blood sugar and increasing antioxidant activity.  These five brain boosting foods provide long lasting brain benefits and should be consumed more often, if not daily!

1. Medium Chain Triglycerides

  • Medium chain triglycerides or MCT oil are a type of saturated fatty acid that is primarily derived from coconut oil. The shorter chain MCT oils (caprylic and capric acid- C8 and C10 respectively) are known to be the most effective at increasing brain energy and focus.  Coconut oil is mainly comprised of a fatty acid called lauric acid (C12) and only small amounts of C8 and C10. While coconut oil has many health benefits; the brain boosting effects of these oils are highest when the shorter chain fatty acids are extracted and consumed on their own.
  • How to best boost your intake?  Add 1 T MCT oil (I like Now Foods brand) or Brain Octane oil (Bulletproof brand) to your coffee or drizzle over warmed veggies.

2. Wild salmon (or sardines)

  • Salmon provides a good source of DHA; an omega 3 fatty acid particularly beneficial to brain health and development.  Current research is supportive of the fact that those who eat more DHA-rich fish have better brain health overall. Make sure to consume wild salmon and other low mercury fish due to mercury burden!
  • Roast salmon with brightly colored veggies in the oven for an antioxidant rich dinner or layer sardines atop gluten free avocado toast

3. Walnuts

  • Walnuts are a rich source of omega 3 DHA fats which have been shown to have neuro-protective effects as well as prevent age-related cognitive decline.  Adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids has also been linked to preventing or treating depression.
  • Replace pine nuts with walnuts in a pesto recipe or try Meg’s clean Mediterranean dip.  Choose unsalted, raw walnuts and make sure to store in the freezer as they go rancid quickly due to the high fat content!

4. Green Tea

  • A rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols; green tea helps regulate our body’s insulin sensitivity thereby maintaining a steady supply of glucose to the brain to keep our energy from crashing. Increased green tea intake (~2 cups daily) has also been associated with boosting memory.
  • Try to switch out your morning coffee for organic green tea a few days a week or whip up an unsweetened matcha green tea latte for an even more potent boost of benefits

5. Kiwi

  • A stressful work life, cigarette smoke and alcohol can alter brain function and cause damaging oxidative stress on our brains; especially when prolonged overtime.  Heightened oxidative stress can, in turn, hinder our ability produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine-these things keep us feeling happy and energized!  Foods rich in natural antioxidants such as vitamin C help protect our brains and promote production of these happy chemicals. Just 2 kiwis a day will help fulfill this need!
  • Slice kiwi and top on hot cereal for breakfast or consume with a handful of nuts or seeds to balance out an afternoon snack.  Even though this sounds strange-the skin is edible and provides a great boost of fiber!

With Love, GFG