From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, July 20, 2014

STILL walking away from wheat

Thought you might like to hear how my no-bread-wheat experiment is going after 20 months.

It's really making a difference.

When I first decided to avoid modern wheat-based products (Dec, 2012) after reading WHEAT BELLY, I had no idea that I had Hashimoto's thyroidosis (an auto-immune disease where my body produces anti-bodies to attack my thyroid).  I wouldn't know that until May, 2013.  In some patients, Hashimoto's goes hand-in-hand with celiac disease. 

Celiac's must avoid wheat gluten.  Fortunately, I do not have celiacs.

Chicken soup
However, research indicated that my decision to avoid wheat was a plus on my side.  There are indications that reducing gluten helps with Hashimoto's.  When my first test for antibody counts (May, 2013) they were 907.  When test results this year (June, 2014) they had dropped to 640!  With less antibodies, my thyroid will last longer.

Wheat gluten/gliadin are such inflammatory proteins, that by avoiding them I've reduced: blood pressure,  migraines, muscle aches and pains. The eczema on my elbows is gone and my sinuses are much clearer, even during pollen season.  I've also weaned myself off of statins (after on them for 10 years).  My chol levels bounced around for 6 mos, but now they are at an acceptable level (maybe not for a cardiologist touting the party line, but for my own satisfaction and well being).  Side benefit?  My memory is TONs better.

I was, however, still using Spelt wheat in breads, crackers, cereal, etc.  After the good blood test in June, I decided to quit eating Spelt (and Kashi) too to see what effect that would have.

Brown rice simmered with red quinoa & turmeric
So far all I've noticed is that I've not had *knock wood* even 1 migraine and that I'm steadily losing weight (high summer always has me much more active - so we'll see how this shakes out later in the year). 

I still get lots of carbs, though, for energy: brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, some white spuds, quinoa, corn, etc.  I feel good.  Last year when I was losing weight, I felt sick and shaky and withered.  Now I have energy, ambition and goals again.  I'm managing my Hashimoto's with diet and keeping up with my physical therapy exercises for my disc degenerative disease.

Some things I've learned about walking away from wheat:

Pick your battles.  In 2012 I went semi-cold turkey.  I fell back to the lower-gluten spelt for 18 months.  I also ate Kashi cereals.

What I didn't eat was pastry, pasta (except spelt noodles), cookies, any kind of bakery.  I didn't eat pizza.  (*moan*)  No croĆ»tons, crackers (except spelt), well -- you get the drift.  No rye.  No pumpernickel.

What made this transition easier was that I decided from the get-go I was NOT going to try to replace these things with copy-cats.  No "gluten-free" substitute products made with tons of carb starches, gums, etc.  I figured, if I can't have a dog, but I could have a cat, it would only frustrate both of us if I tried to make the cat act like a dog.

Embrace the cat, instead.

Split pea soup
So no more sandwiches, pizza, pasta, bakery, etc.  Instead food served OVER rice, polenta, potatoes (all kinds), quinoa, corn, etc.  Soups thick with peas, beans, veg, etc.

Need sweet?  Eat fruit (un-sugared). Grab-n-go breakfast?  Savory oatmeal wedges.  Snack?  Home-made granola w/dates/dried fruit, oatmeal, nuts, flax seed & honey.  Once you stop trying to replace everything with ersatz substitutes, you'll find a different way of approaching food.  I can't remember the last time I bought anything in a box, and very few cans.

After a while, you really start noticing your taste buds changing.  Things have MORE taste, so less is more satisfying.  You want less salt, less sweet.

Greens w/pomegranate
Salads piled high with dark greens, fruits, veg, meat, cheese.  Nuts.  Oils to release the vitamins from the greens (EVOO, AVO oil, nut oils, etc.).  For the past 6 weeks I thought I'd miss the spelt / Kashi products.  But no.  I have found an organic, non-GMO blue corn chip prepared in cold-pressed oil that's actually good for me.  It's a staple for humus, salsa, bean dip.

For the past 6 mos, when Mom comes to visit, she's leery of lunches.  But she's been surprised every time when I throw together something and she always cleans her plate. LOL

Taco salad - so good it's frightening!
Like - she'd never had a taco salad before.  And this one is lush: deep greens, avocado, kiwi, onion, cheese, ground turkey w/ seasonings, hot salsa, EVOO and blue corn chips.  I have this for lunch 4-5 days a week this summer.  It's so addictive -- cool, crisp, spicy, rich.  Just can't get enough. LOL 

Bottom line.  Once I got past the dog/cat thing, food is actually much more adventurous and fun and every bite is nutrient dense and delicious.  There is no such thing as an empty calorie around here anymore.

I just don't have any reason to go back to wheat. Wish I'd started this sooner.  I might have been able to avoid developing Hashimoto's in the first place (an inflammatory- based disease).

How about you?  Arthritis? Blood pressure? Weight? Sugar? Migraines? IBS?  The list of inflammatory diseases goes on and on.  You might want to think about wheat.  Apparently, it's not the wholesome staff-of-life it used to be.

(As disclosure: I will admit that I still have a cache of Zone bars & yoghurt/nut bars in my purse for lowering sugar spells.  They contain modified food starch (wheat), but remember.  I'm not dealing with celiacs.  And I doubt I'll ever be totally wheat free.  There's the occasional ice cream CONE, BREADED chicken tender salad, etc.  But by and large I make a concerted effort to avoid wheat and will happily settle for 96% gluten free. :-D)

(More disclosure: Don't get me wrong.  I MISS chewy crusty bread, biscuits, pasta and pizza.  And I make exception on the holidays for a friend's homemade baklava.  But the longer I keep wheat away, the easier it gets.  Bottom line, I keep telling myself, nothing tastes as good as better health feels.)  

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