Gluten-Free “Replacement” Food list

(This is an old post from an old blog. I’ve updated a few things on it, but some of it is still old. Please, always read labels and check safety for your needs.)

Today I ran into a lady who had just been diagnosed gluten-intolerant.  She was in the gluten-free aisle at the store trying to figure out what would taste good without making her sick.

After a few years off of gluten, things seem pretty easy, and I’ve gone through the trial and error aspect of buying things that look good but taste awful, look awful but taste good, are horrible without being toasted but almost taste the same as you remember if you toast it, and all the combinations in between.  I’ve played with baking and cooking and it’s all okay.  But for someone on that first day of diagnosis, none of it seems easy.

So here’s a list of things for those newly diagnosed.  You’ll see plenty of sugary and higher carbohydrate foods on this list, because sometimes people want those foods.  I’ll always encourage meat, veggies, fruits, and nuts…but there are birthday parties, family gatherings, and well, just days when a sandwich or a cookie or a cake are going to be eaten.  If it’s going to be eaten, then it needs to be gluten-free.

 

ALL OF THESE PRODUCTS CAN CHANGE INGREDIENTS WITHOUT ME KNOWING OR UPDATING THIS SITE, SO PLEASE ALWAYS READ LABELS.

 

BAKING (including cookies, cakes, pancakes, etc):

www.betterbatter.org This flour and the pancake and biscuit mix are some of the best I’ve tried.  They’re also corn, soy, egg and dairy-free (there was an issue with dairy contamination via one of their suppliers that is being resolved, but no problems with gluten)  The hamburger bun recipe on their site is great.

www.NamasteFoods.com They are gluten, dairy, corn, egg, soy, potato, tree nuts, peanuts, and casein-free.  I’ve used their bread mix, their pizza crust mix, and the pasta mixes when making something to take to a party.  You can find some of their products at Whole Foods and Hy-Vee locally in Kansas City, and you can order in bulk at Amazon.  I’ve not yet tried their cookie or cake mixes, but their brownie mix is exceptional.

www.enjoylifefoods.com These guys are very allergen-friendly as well as gluten-free.  Their chocolate chips are some of the only ones that are both gluten and dairy-free.  We’ve had their premade bars and think they are better than average.  Their granola didn’t suit us well.  We’ve not tried the newer crunchy cookies.  Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, and Whole Foods carry some of their stuff here in KC.

http://www.nutsonline.com Who would have thought…but it is really hard to find some types of nuts that are processed in places that don’t also process wheat.  One day while getting ready to buy some nuts from the bulk section, a store employee was refilling the barley flour and it was flying everywhere.  Suddenly I realized why I sometimes got sick with the nuts I was eating.  NutsOnline has fantastic customer service, and they also have a gluten-free section. Plus, they have a great price on almond flour if you buy it in bulk.

www.ener-g.com If you want something close to a white hamburger bun, the tapioca hamburger buns from these guys (once toasted!) will remind you of the buns you get at a restaurant…same is true of the hot dog buns.  I’ve also used their egg-replacer and it works really well if you have egg allergies.  Hy-Vee carries these and sometimes Whole Foods does too.

www.kinnikinnick.com Their S’moreables really do taste like graham crackers, and their graham-style crumbs work great to make graham cracker crusts.  If corn is an issue for you, these will be off limits, but otherwise, they’re a great replacement.  My hubby loves their K-Toos chocolate sandwich cookies, and I’ve used them to make a cookie crust for deserts for him.  Hy-Vee and Whole Foods sometimes carry items from this brand.

http://www.pamelasproducts.com Their bread mix works pretty well, but I don’t use it because there is a chance of dairy contamination that my hubby can’t have.  Pamela’s also has cookie mixes, cake mixes, and pancake mixes as well as pre-made cookies, cheesecakes, and biscotti.  They use almond meal that provides a bit more protein and nutrition, which is nice.  HyVee and Whole Foods carry lots of Pamela’s

Domata Flour This is a great 1:1 flour.  I use Better Batter instead of this because Domata has corn in it, and corn is a problem for me.  But it worked great when I tried it, and my niece uses it.  It’s available in Kansas City at Hy-Vee and Whole Foods.

Bob’s Red Mill  They have almond flour/meal (and other nut versions) as well as a line of gluten-free mixes and gluten-free oats.  I’ve used some of their products, but mostly when I was mixing things together myself before finding Better Batter and Namaste.  These are more “see if you like it” things in my opinion.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free mixes The chocolate cake was made, frosted, and shared with friends without anyone knowing it was gluten-free…and everyone loved it.  The cookies taste good (although made-from-scratch with Better Batter flour taste more like homemade), and the white cake mix is the best I’ve found albeit not as good as the chocolate.   ** UPDATE The chocolate mix has had soy added to it since the last time I used it, and the yellow cake says it “may” contain soy.

 

BREAD and CEREALS

Rudi’s This is a pre-made bread.  It’s okay, but I never found it to be really tasty the way the Namaste bread is when I made it.  I’ve not tried some of the newer versions.  This is available locally at Whole Foods and possibly other stores.  **UPDATE I’ve since tried the newer Rudi’s Original Gluten-Free Bread and really love it.  It’s the only non-homemade gf bread I’ve ever had that could be pulled out and eaten without toasting it.  Whole Foods carries it locally.

Udi’s This is also pre-made, and again, I think it’s okay but nothing fantastic.  However, their granola is amazing!  I think my hubby had the chocolate muffins and liked them too.  These are available at Whole Foods and Hy-Vee. **UPDATE!!! Udi’s has done some work and their hamburger and hotdog buns are now very tasty. The bread is better (still better toasted), too.

French Meadows Their rice breads were okay’ish.  Frankly, they just weren’t that great.  My hubby loved the chocolate chip cookie dough when it was raw, but didn’t like the cookies when they were cooked.  Whole Foods carries this brand.

Food For Life Their brown rice tortilla wraps worked great and tasted really good too.  Hy-Vee carried them for a while, but now they seem to be gone.  www.glutenfreemall.com still seems to have them.  The brown rice English Muffins work when toasted.  Hy-Vee carries them, and I think the Whole Foods on Metcalf started carrying them too.

Dad’s Gluten Free Pizza http://www.glutenfreepizza.com These are highly allergy friendly, and they taste great for a pre-made crust.  If you have corn issues, let them know and they’ll make some for you that don’t have corn.  For a pre-made crust, these are my favorites. **UPDATE I’m not sure if these guys are still in business. A shame, because they were great crusts.

 

PASTA

Tinkyada is probably the best brand I’ve tried (Namaste is equally good, if not better, but they only sell pasta in “kits”).  I’ve seen it at Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, Hen House, and Price Chopper in KC.

Namaste (see above for links) has great pasta kits.  The “cheese” version doesn’t taste like mac’n’cheese, but it does taste like a pasta salad.

Amy’s Kitchen They make some gluten-free as well as gluten and dairy-free frozen foods.  My hubby loves the mac’n’cheese.  I love the mild salsa and the family marinara.  I hear they’re coming out with gf burritos.

 

PASTA SAUCE

Prego You can find it just about in any store (although not Whole Foods), and it is gluten-free.

Amy’s Kitchen Their marinara is not certified gf, but I’ve never had a reaction to it (and I’ve eaten it a lot).  Whole Foods has the best price locally, but Hy-Vee carries it too.

Rao’s This is one of my favorite pasta sauces next to making it myself. They have a variety of flavors, but they are costly.

 

CHIPS

KettleBrand chips are gluten-free.  They have one of the only BBQ flavored chips I’ve seen that are gluten, dairy, egg, corn, and soy-free.  I’ve seen them at lots of stores….for sure, HyVee, Whole Foods, and Hen House locally.

Garden of Eatin and Bearittos both make blue corn chips that are gluten-free.

I’m sure there are other brands out there, but we don’t eat much of this sort of thing and avoid the more commercial brands because of the trans-fats and added ingredients.

 

RESTAURANTS

This is a difficult one because we don’t eat out very often.

Local Burger  http://www.localburger.com This restaurant is in Lawrence, KS, so it isn’t super close, but we’ve eaten there 3 times without any problems at all.  They understand food allergies and the owner has celiac.  It’s a bit pricey, but it is also very high quality. UPDATE Sadly, Local Burger has since closed.

(October of 2017: I’m going to try a few restaurants over the next several months and try to update this. Places on my “try it out” list include Taco Republic, LaPeep, T Henry’s in Lawrence, T-Rex, and Nick and Jakes.)

OTHER

I’m sure I missed foods that people like to eat on a regular basis.  Our household is a lot more meat and veggies than anything else, but I’ve tried lots of other foods.  So if something is missing you want to know about, please leave a comment, and I’ll get it added.

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Ravioli — Gluten, dairy, egg, soy, rice, nut, and corn-free

Ravioli

This is one of the higher carb recipes you’ll see on this site, but I made these for a holiday party and they turned out so well that it is worth sharing.

Dough

For the pasta dough, I used Heidi’s recipe (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom) with only minor variations and it worked beautifully!  It took 4 tablespoons of additional water for it to be the right consistency for me, but it is winter in the Midwest.  Just make sure you add the water one tablespoon at a time and stop when you have the right consistency.  I rolled the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap as was done in one of the videos on that page—a strange process, but it worked extremely well to handle the dough.  Instead of separating it into 4 quarters, I rolled half a batch at a time which gave me roughly 1×2 foot sheets of dough.

My friends who are not afraid to tell me when I’ve just not tasted “the real thing” recently enough to remember, all gave big compliments on these even after trying them without the sauce.

Filling

On a whim, I decided to use Tilapia for some of the ravioli and chicken for others.  I’m sure you could use beef, turkey, salmon, or whatever suits your tastes when it comes to meat.

Before I list the ingredients, I have a confession to make.  I’m one of those cooks who sometimes just throw ingredients together until I find a taste I enjoy.  If you like a little more or less of anything listed, I’d say go for it.  I didn’t use oregano, but if we had used beef or buffalo as meat, I probably would have.  Oregano gives things more of a pizza taste, and that wasn’t what I was looking for this time.

8 oz of meat, cooked

¼ onion, sautéed to translucent in olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, sautéed in olive oil (I used the same pan)

1 “egg” (I used EnerG replacer, but you could also use a “flax egg” or possibly even omit the egg entirely if you are allergic and don’t like any of the replacement options…if you aren’t allergic, you can, of course, use an actual egg.)

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tsp parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a food processor, mix all ingredients until they are well blended and will stick together.  Form some of the filling into a small ball and place in the center of your ravioli strip (not the large piece of dough, but one cut to be the width and double the length of the size you want each ravioli to be), fold the dough, press the edges together, cut away any excess, and repeat until you are out of dough or filling.  Try to make sure there isn’t air between your filling and the dough or it is likely to separate when boiling.  Drop ravioli (carefully!) into boiling water and cook for about 2-4 minutes.  The ravioli will float when they’re done.

If you have left-over filling, you can use it later with sauce and some spaghetti squash for a lasagna-type taste.  If you have left-over pasta, it will freeze well and can be taken out and used later.

If you wanted an allergy-safe “cheese,” using something like Daiya Mozzarella shreds would probably work, but I’ve not tried it.  If it isn’t a concern, fresh parmesan is great and I’m sure a little ricotta would work too….just leave some of the oil out of the filling if you use it.

Meat

Tilapia FilletFor the Tilapia…I cooked it in an uncovered dish in a preheated 425F oven with about a tsp/fillet of olive oil, a tablespoon of dried basil, 1 clove fresh garlic diced into small pieces, white pepper (black would work fine), and sea salt.  I used 3 fillets and they were in the oven for about 12 minutes which is when they were translucent.

For the chicken…I did a similar thing, but the oven was set to 400F and the dish was covered with foil for the first 20-30 minutes and then removed for the last 15.

Sauce

At the party, my friend made 3 different sauces that all tasted amazing with the ravioli—Bolognese, Fra Diavolo (a very spicy marinara), and Mushroom Cream Sauce (using coconut milk and arrowroot to keep it allergy-safe).

Sides

Another friend brought a salad of mixed greens, olives, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

I’d made extra of the sautéed onion and garlic.

We also served some baked tilapia fillets cooked in the same manner as above (if you aren’t allergic, you could use butter or Earth Balance Soy-free instead of the olive oil for a slightly different taste).

These took some time to make, but they were worth the effort and I’ll definitely make them again.

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Handling Mental Chatter

(Previously published on an old blog, but moved to this one in 2017.)

A lot of you made New Year resolutions recently and have been working toward them.  Since this is about the time that many people start to get a little sloppy with the plans they made, I’m going to drop a little reminder about your most important ally.

So who is your most important ally?  I’ll give you a hint.  It isn’t your workout buddy, your personal trainer, your nutritionist, or your family.  All of those can be great sources of help, but they aren’t the most important.

You see, we tend to forget that the person who talks to us most every day is the one we see when we look in the mirror.  That’s right.  You talk to yourself and we all know it because we all talk to ourselves too.

But do you listen to yourself?  Your subconscious is listening to every word you say and it takes it quite literally.  But do you consciously know what you’re telling yourself?

Your mind cannot tell the difference between something that is vividly imagined and something that is real.  (Maxwell Maltz demonstrated this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell_Maltz)  So if your trainer tells you what a great job you’re doing and you tell yourself that you cheated on your diet or skipped a workout this week and are a loser, who do you think has more impact?

When the trainer said it, a) you didn’t believe him/her, b) you felt guilty because that isn’t how you see yourself and you think they just don’t know you, c) you didn’t see, feel, or experience the success they congratulated you for.

When you said it, a) you believed it, b) it reaffirmed the current self-image you have of yourself, and c) you saw, felt and experienced your comments as reality.

I read through a lot of material in order to stay current with research and to see what approaches are working for other people.  Recently, I’ve been exploring Jon Benson’s work.   He said something I want to share because it might be one of the most powerful ways to stop that negative chatter.

For the next week, imagine that anything you say to yourself, you also have to say to the person you love the most.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself telling the love of your life that he or she is a loser, will never accomplish his or her goals, and should just quit.  Tell them it’s okay if they don’t keep their resolutions because they’re silly goals they’ve never kept before so they must not be important.  Tell them they don’t have to keep their promises because the person they made them to doesn’t matter.  See the look on their face, watch the emotions that flood over them, and see how you feel about being the cause of it.  Do it for a week—consistently seeing how the love of your life would react if you said to them the things you’re saying to yourself.  I’ll bet that by the end of the week your inner chatter has changed and that you understand just how important the words you say to yourself really are.

Think about why you made the resolutions you did, why they’re important to you, and why you must succeed at keeping them.  Look at the big picture.  Realize that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful…when something isn’t going right, take a moment to figure out how to change it.  What would you tell the love of your life?  Would you take the time to help them figure out how to overcome any temporary obstacles?  Change your chatter and prioritize yourself so that your most important ally really is your ally.

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Using Spices

We explored the importance of cooking in the last article and at least some of you expressed interest in learning more about spices and seasonings.  I’m going to group the spices under general “types” of foods.  While some types are left out, I did so only because I have less experience with them.

As always, if something is listed you are allergic to, don’t use it.

Italian:

Garlic

Onion (use more garlic than onion in general for this type of food)

Basil (more of this than oregano makes it more of a marina sauce)

Oregano (more of this than basil makes it taste more like pizza)

Salt

Black Pepper

Fennel (I typically only use this in meat when I want an Italian sausage flavor)

Pine nuts (these add a slight cheese flavor)

Olive oil and sometimes butter (Earth Balance makes a soy and dairy-free spread)

Mexican:

Cumin (this is the main spice that makes Mexican food taste like Mexican food)

Cayenne (the more you add, the “hotter“ the food)

Chives (like onion, but lighter)

Cilantro (this is used in several salsas)

Chili peppers

Red peppers

Jalapeño peppers

Onion (a touch of finely chopped fresh onion add before serving a hot dish will add a different flavor than cooking the onion with it)

Garlic (less garlic for this type of food than with something like Italian food)

Salt

Lime

Walnut oil (it won’t really flavor your food)

Chinese:

Soy sauce (read labels or call the company to check for gluten and MSG)

Ginger

Cardamom

Anise (licorice)

Red chili or Pimiento

Tahini

Salt

Vinegar (red wine or brown vinegars)

Sesame or peanut oil

Indian:

Curry

Cayenne

Garlic

Cinnamon

Ginger

Turmeric

Oil can change your flavor, but sesame, olive, and walnut can all be used

Greek:

Dill

Lemon

Cucumber

Cumin

Plain yogurt

Dates

Olive oil, but walnut will also work

Thai:

Coriander

Ginger

Garlic

Onion

Chili peppers

Coconut

Cumin

Lemon/lime

Coconut, sesame, and peanut oil

Hungarian influence:

Paprika

Mustard

Chili peppers

Cayenne

Cabbage

BBQ:

(I’ve never really got this to where it is exactly what I want, but these are all part of what gets it close)

Garlic

Onion

Chili pepper

Paprika

Bell pepper

Tomato

Honey or molasses is typically used for sauce, but dates can work, or it can be unsweetened

Turkey:

Garlic

Onion

Sage

Oregano

Salt

Black pepper

Marjoram

Celery

Sausage:

Thyme

Sage

Oregano

Garlic

Salt

Pepper

Fennel (for Italian sausage)

Cumin (for Chorizo)

Paprika (for Chorizo)

Mustard (more for Chorizo or a spicier sausage)

Red pepper and Cayenne (for a spicy sausage)

Cinnamon (for a “sweet” sausage)

Meat/roasts:

Rosemary

Garlic

Onion

Chives

Curry (a very small amount really brings out the flavor of beef without leaving it tasting like a curried dish)

Parsley (fish, especially)

Lemon/Lime (fish, especially)

Mint (for a slightly different flavor…this isn’t my favorite, but lots of people do like it)

Red wine, white wine, or balsamic vinegars

Cinnamon (I rarely use this with meat, but it can work with poultry.  It can also work with something spiced with chili peppers or used in a “sweet” sausage)

Veggies:

Just about any of the above “types” of seasoning can be combined and used with your veggies.  Using a touch of olive oil, coconut oil, or butter (Earth Balance makes a soy and dairy-free spread) can add a touch of fat to your diet.

Stews:

Bay leaf

Cloves (these are strong, so just a small amount…mostly for a more pungent stew)

Mustard (used for a warming stew)

Parsley

Garlic

Onion

Chives

Curry (will sweeten the stew and make it taste “hearty”)

Chili pepper (used for a warming/spicy stew)

Sweet flavors:

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

Mint

Cardamom

Vanilla bean

Coconut

Butter (Earth Balance makes a soy and dairy-free spread), coconut oil

Let me know if I left something off that is a favorite of yours.

 

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Gluten-free, Grain-free Pizza Crust Recipe Review

Depending on the diet you follow, this gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, simple to make pizza crust can be a perfect addition for flavor and menu variety.

Pizza

Gluten-free, Grain-free pizza!

Pros

The crust has the consistency and texture of a regular crust (which surprised me!)

Gluten-free

Grain-free

Simple to make with easy to buy ingredients

It flipped very easily (that’s part of the directions and I was worried it would be challenging, but it wasn’t)

Low carb (according to a comment on the recipe site, only 3 in the entire crust)

Versatile

Will easily substitute for buns or sandwich bread if made into several smaller “crusts”

With toppings, it tasted amazing and had a great texture.

 

Cons

There is definitely a hint of coconut taste if you eat the crust by itself (this could be a pro for some people or if you made a Hawaiian pizza).  I would bet that pizza sauce would prevent you from ever noticing, because even the fresh basil prevented me from tasting the coconut flavor when I ate it as a pizza.  I wouldn’t let the concern of a mild coconut taste stop you from trying it once, especially if you top it with traditional pizza toppings including sauce.

Obviously these contain dairy.  So, if you’re allergic or avoid dairy for other reasons, this crust won’t work for you.

The crust also contains eggs, but it seems very likely that an egg substitute could be used if eggs are your only allergy within the recipe.

Pizza

Toppings added…

(The included pictures throughout this post show the crust at various phases.  My ultimate goal is to use it not just for pizza, but as a possible substitute for hamburger buns or sandwich bread that will let me stay low carb at summer gatherings.  So the crusts I made look more like personal-sized pizzas.)

 

You can see the original recipe and get quantities here:

http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/index.cfm/2010/2/1/glutenfree-pizza-crust

Ingredients

All the ingredients before stirring…

The ingredients:

Mozzarella cheese (from milk from grass-fed cows)

eggs (local)

very small amounts of coconut flour, flax meal, and baking powder (all of them gluten and grain-free).

 

The toppings I used:

Peppers—red, yellow, green

Fresh basil

Dried oregano, garlic, and onion

Cooked grass-fed ground pork (I made the pork for a Bolognese sauce and stole a bit for my pizza)

Mozzarella

 

Crusts before going in the oven

Before going into the oven…

 

 

crusts

Other comments

Because I altered the size and wanted to use veggies I’d chopped and frozen, I also changed the cooking time.  The first 15 minutes were according to the recipe.  I flipped the crusts, put them in for 5 minutes, and then I pulled them out again.  I heated the oven to 425F while I put on my toppings, and then put them in for 10 minutes (watch closely because much more time would have burned them).  Then they cooled for a few minutes as I made a spinach and romaine salad.

Baked pizza

Pizza…yum!

 

Let me know by leaving a comment below if you try the crust and what you think of it.  I’ve not tried substituting the cheese with Daiya.  Since Daiya wouldn’t let it be low-carb enough for my preferences, I probably won’t.  (My hubby is happy with gluten-free grain crusts and doesn’t pay attention to carbs.)  But there are plenty of dairy-free people who read this blog, so if you try it, please let us know.

 

Until next time!

🙂
Kathryn

 

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Top 3 Desk Jockey Myths

(Older article republished on this blog several years later.)

We live and work in a world filled with computers and lots of chair time. We start training for it on our very first day of school. We replace our days of running around freely with structured chair time. And by the time we enter the work world several years later, we think nothing of sitting for 3-4 hours without moving.

Since marathon sitting is such a common experience, several myths have developed. Let’s discuss them so that you don’t make avoidable mistakes.

Myth #1 — I look like a computer user, but it’s no big deal.

We’re not talking about geeky pocket protectors or glasses with the nose piece taped. If you’re in an office now, look around at your co-workers. Most of them are slouched forward; their heads are jutting out over their laps instead of squarely over their shoulders (and it remains forward even when they stand); if they’re typing or using a mouse, most likely their elbows are not tucked in at their sides; and their legs may be crossed or else they’re sitting with their feet tucked under their chair and only their toes are bent back and touching the floor.

Since most of your coworkers fit the above description, it’s easy to think that it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal. Over and over people came to my office for issues that are the result of “looking like a computer user.”

Things like:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (and other repetitive stress and impingement syndromes)
  • Impingement syndromes (a nerve is pinched enough that pain shoots up or down the arm, neck or both; another symptom is numbness or tingling)
  • Early osteoarthritis—also known as early joint degeneration
  • Disc bulge or herniation
  • Headaches
  • Pain—neck, shoulder, wrist, and lower back pain are most common
  • Fatigue—slouching gives your lungs less room and getting less air makes you sleepy
  • Muscle tightness and tension
  • Strains and sprains that happen when a desk jockey sits 5 days and then suddenly explodes into a sport on the weekend

None of that sounds fun, does it?  And that list doesn’t express the extent that pain and lack of mobility and strength rob other areas of your life. When your wrists hurt so much that you can’t pick up your coffee, imagine what else you can’t do.

Myth #2—There’s nothing that can be done about chronic pain that started from the repetitive nature of my job

Maybe you already knew that looking like a computer user isn’t harmless because you have friends or family members dealing with desk jockey issues…maybe you even recognized some of the symptoms in yourself. I hope you aren’t one of the people who think you just have to live with pain!

It always made me sad when a patient came to my office for one complaint, and never even mentioned another area that obviously hurt. They had accepted that their knee, shoulder, lower back, or whatever area was always going to hurt, so they didn’t even mention it. They’d decided that chronic pain was an acceptable way of life.

Sadly, in a few instances that meant that so much damage had occurred that we couldn’t make enough long-term changes to give them long-lasting relief. But much of the time, people were stunned to realize that something they’d learned to live with could be reversed enough that they got to enjoy a pain-free and active life again.

Even if your job is repetitive, small changes can make huge differences in the effects it has on you.

 Myth #3—I know sitting is bad for me, but I have to work so there’s really nothing I can do about it.

While it might be true that you have to sit to do your job, there are things that can be done to minimize your chances of developing any of the problems associated with sitting.

We are all natural athletes. Our bodies are exceptionally talented at adapting to the positions and movements we perform most frequently. Though you probably never thought of it this way, by sitting all day you’re essentially training yourself to be a better sitter. If there were an Olympic event for desk jockeys, you’d probably qualify.

Don’t throw yourself in the dustbin just yet, though. There’s hope for even the most rigidly chair-shaped among us. It starts by sending your body a few reminders throughout the week, making sure your workstation is set up well, and doing a bit of warm-up before you play hard on the weekends. By adding just a few simple movements you can do throughout your day, you can “cross train” your body to be good at more than just sitting.

You want a couple of examples?

2 Exercises That Help

and you can do them at your desk!

1)    Hip Releases

Hip (a)

Sit tall, cross your right leg over your left so your ankle is resting on your thigh (not your knee cap), and slowly lean forward while keeping a tall spine. You can apply gentle pressure to your right knee by lightly pressing it toward the floor, but be gentle. You can also use your left hand to hold your right ankle in place. Hold the position for a few seconds, sit up, put your right foot on the floor, and repeat with the other leg.

Hip (b)

Slide forward to the edge of your chair and sit tall. Move your right foot so it sits flat on the floor about a foot’s length from the side of your body. Slowly “drop” your knee toward your other leg and down toward the floor. Your foot will come up on its inside edge as you lower your knee. Hold for a few seconds. You’ll feel this on the outside of your hip, and into your upper and inside thigh muscles if you’re really tight. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

Hip (c)

Slide forward to the edge of your chair and sit tall. You’re going to perform a seated lunge. Move your right foot back in a straight line until your knee is pointing at the floor. You’ll already feel this in the hip flexor of the extended leg. Squeeze your right glute to get an even deeper stretch. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

2)    Chest and Shoulder release

This one’s easier to do standing, but you might be able to stay in your seat depending on the chair you use.

  • Stand tall, reach both hands behind you, clasp them together at the base of your low back, and then gently push your hands toward the floor. Your shoulders will automatically “square” and your chest will expand.
  • Take five slow, deep breaths and push your hands a bit further down with each inhale. Even if you can’t actually reach further down or you move only the tiniest amount, try to push your hands toward the floor.
  • After five breathes, relax and release your hands.
  • Repeat this at least twice a day, but as often as once an hour.

Myth Busting—When Will I See Results?

 You may notice immediate small changes right after you do these exercises. If you do each exercise 2-3 times per day, you’ll see continued improvement over the course of a few weeks.

 

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Homemade Mayo

This is SCD legal and works for a Paleo diet, too, depending on your choice of oil.

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A simple lunch: broiled chicken breast, mixed greens, and homemade mayo on a coconut wrap. (The wrap is just coconut, nothing else.)

You might be thinking, “Why in the world would you make something you can easily buy at any grocery store?”

Because:

  • It doesn’t have soy, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar.
  • It tastes yummy.
  • It’s easy to make — way easier than most recipes out there would lead you to believe.

 

Why do you eat fat? I thought you wanted to be healthy?

Fat isn’t a bad thing unless it’s trans fat. You have to be mindful of your overall calorie intake, of course, but a little extra fat at a low carb meal won’t pack on the pounds or harm you in any way. Instead, it can serve as energy and the building blocks for important hormones. If you want extra assurance that your belt isn’t going to have to be loosened, only eat added fat (like mayo) with low carb meals and limit your total daily calories to the amount that will keep you lean.

Mayo Ingredients

Ingredients

The juice from ½ lemon

½ tsp. Real Salt (or any sea salt)

½ tsp. garlic granules (or 1 clove, minced, if you want fresh)

1 tsp. mustard (I’ve used powder or the condiment and both work fine, but the condiment has a stronger flavor)

1 egg – I use a raw egg that is as fresh as possible and wash the shell before cracking it…but I’ll give you the standard warning that eating raw eggs may result in food poisoning.

Dash of paprika

Dash of ground pepper

Dash or two of granulated or powdered onion

1 cup of your favorite oil (olive oil will make it taste like olive oil, but sunflower, macadamia nut, and avocado oil are all less strong in taste)

Stick blender — not an ingredient, but the tool that makes this super easy

 

Directions

Put all of your ingredients (yes, all of them…even the oil) into a jar with a wide enough mouth to allow your stick blender to reach the bottom. Set the blender on top of the egg and on the bottom of the jar. Turn on the blender but don’t move it for about 30 seconds. You’ll see mayo appearing all around the blender. After 30 seconds, move the blender to incorporate the rest of the oil.

That’s it. From start to finish it takes 1-2 minutes to gather ingredients, get your blender, make the mayo, and enjoy. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

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Before someone asks, I’ve not tried it in a regular blender and have no idea if it will work…feel free to try and let us know in the comments. My guess is that it won’t emulsify and will just be a mess.

Options

1-3 tsp. white vinegar (I don’t use this but adding it makes it taste more like Miracle Whip if that’s your thing)

2 Tbsp. honey ( I don’t use this either but adding it makes it taste more like Miracle Whip if that’s your thing)

More onion, fresh or dried

Diced red, yellow, or orange roasted bell pepper

Smoked paprika

Basil

Use lime instead of lemon and add a little lime zest

Peeled and de-seeded cucumber, diced (only add this right before serving)

1 tsp. cold water (I’ve never had a problem with separation, but this will prevent it)

Chili seasoning

Smoked paprika

Powdered smoked adobe

If you try something not on the list, leave a comment and let us know!

Turkey

Homemade mayo also tastes great on left-over turkey. 🙂

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Nutty Chicken and Cabbage

Nutty Chicken & Cabbage

For the Cabbage:

1 large onion

¾ head of green cabbage, shredded or chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp of olive or coconut oil

Water as needed

Salt and pepper to taste (I use Real Salt)

1 c. of fresh spinach

A few cherry tomatoes for topping

Directions…

Put the oil in a sauté pan or skillet and turn your burner to medium-low heat.  While the oil is heating, clean and slice your onion into 1 inch (2.5cm) square chunks.  Add onion to oil and stir.  Now is a good time to start cooking your chicken.  Once you have the chicken started, stir the onions again and add 3 tbsp of water (or enough to cover the bottom of your pan).  Your onion will become clear or almost clear as you work on the cabbage.

Clean and chop/shred ¾ head of green cabbage.  For slightly different textures, slice the head into quarters and then add each quarter to the pan as you are done chopping it.  Stir all together.  Mince 1 clove of garlic and add it along with some salt and pepper to the pan and stir again.  Continue adding water as needed (in small quantities) until the mixture is fully cooked.  This can vary to taste, but I like it al dente.

Turn off the burner and sprinkle the fresh spinach on top to wilt.  Do NOT stir it into the mix.  Leave the veggies to sit uncovered for about 5 minutes as the chicken finishes cooking.

For the Chicken:

2 pounds chicken breast cut into strips or chunks

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of olive or coconut oil, more if you are cooking greater amounts of chicken

Salt and pepper to taste

A dash of onion granules

2 tbsp of nuts or seeds (I used pine nuts, but chopped cashews, chopped macadamias, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, chopped almonds, chopped pecans, or even pumpkin seeds would work just fine)

Directions…

Put the oil in a skillet and turn the burner to a high medium.  Once the oil has had time to heat, add the chicken breast and top with garlic, salt, pepper, and onion granules.  Leave the skillet uncovered but check it to see if it needs turned.  (It should need it very close to the time when all the cabbage has been added to the other pan.)  You can add more oil if needed.  When the chicken is almost entirely done, add the nuts or seeds and let cook for another five minutes to bring out the flavor of the nuts/seeds, stirring twice.

All together now:

Place a scoop of the cabbage mix on a plate, you can stir it lightly first to mix in the wilted spinach.  Add a serving of nutty chicken on top of the veggie mix.  Top with a few cherry tomatoes.  Enjoy!

For consideration…

As presented, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, fish-free, egg-free, and corn-free.  It will obviously contain nuts or seeds and if this is a health issue for you, leave them out of the recipe.

Other possibilities…

If I want to add a bit more healthy fat to my diet for the positive benefits or the calories, I will sometimes drizzle a touch of olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado on top of each serving right before adding the tomatoes.

If you want a grain, add ½ c. cooked quinoa to the plate before adding the veggies.

While this recipe is a meal by itself, a serving of berries makes a nice dessert and adds more color to the meal.

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How to handle the people who push your buttons and create drama

Any of you have someone in your life who just drives you crazy at times?  You don’t like him (or her) and the only time he ever interacts with you is when he wants something or when he’s not getting enough attention to feed his ever-starving ego.

Maybe it’s the family member who always causes drama, the co-worker who manipulates everyone around her, someone you admired who turned out to be made up of lies, or maybe it’s an old friend who was never really your friend.  Sometimes that person is irritating to amusing, but at other times, they manage to really press your buttons.

We all know or have known people like that.  Sometimes we can just end a relationship and walk away from it forever.  At other times, it’s a family member or co-worker and we can’t avoid at least some interaction.

How do we deal with people like that in our lives?

I look at it this way.  Life is made up of an inner and outer circle.

The inner circle is composed of people we love and care about who also return that love and care to us.  They want what’s best for us.  They may be willing to tell us things we don’t like to hear but they do it from a place of genuine care.  Our inner circle supports us, helps us grow, and is mutually beneficial.  The people we allow there push us toward our potential, make us more effective, and broaden our area of influence.

Then there’s our outer circle.  It’s made up of people who don’t love or care about us.  Some of them we just don’t know and may never interact with.  Others, we might only wish we didn’t know.  We don’t like them, but for some reason we let them influence our actions and how we feel about ourselves.  We spend time fretting about how to handle the drama they bring to our lives.  That part of our outer circle wants to use us, it feels threatened and jealous if we grow, and it will suck our energy and emotions dry.  Those people constrict our potential, make us less effective, and shrink our area of influence.

So how do we handle it when someone from our outer circle is influencing us, pushing our buttons, or creating drama that we let sweep us off our feet?

My solution is to assign the person to a circle based on their past and current behavior…not on what they said or say they’ll do, but on actual actions.  Then I can go from there.

If the person is inner circle, mentally step back and look at what’s happening.  They’re your inner circle and would never want to hurt you if they didn’t have to in order to prove a point.  If they’re pushing your buttons then they’re:

a)     having a problem and aren’t doing a good job of recognizing that they’re projecting

b)     don’t realize that what they’re doing is bothering you, or

c)     pushing you because they think it will help you

If the person is really inner circle quality, then the two of you just need to talk.  Together you’ll be able to work through things or at least agree to disagree.

If the person is outer circle, you can give your time and energy to anyone and anything that you want, but you deserve better people in your life—stop letting outer circle people steal your precious time by giving high priority status to a person who makes you an option.  It really is okay to say ‘no’ and mean it.

But Kathryn, sometimes he/she really pisses me off!  Yeah, outer circle people do that.  But do they do any real harm or is the biggest injury the time you spend fretting about something you can’t change?

If it’s the fretting, then any harm being done is completely within your control to stop.  Letting them get to you is you choosing to give power to someone who doesn’t care about you.  I know it’s really hard, but when they throw the drama card, refuse to play.  Instead:

a)     picture someone in your inner circle and imagine the advice they’d give you

b)     think about someone you love and ask yourself how you’re going to explain to them that you picked spending energy on the person in front of you that you don’t love over the person you do love and who is much more deserving of that energy

c)     think about your goals and ask yourself if spending time on someone else’s drama is worth delaying or never reaching your goals.

For most of the outer circle people in our lives, creating drama around them is the primary mechanism they have in place to prevent others from seeing how insecure, narcissistic, or “damaged” they are while simultaneously getting those people to do things for them…it makes them feel superior.  There will always be someone outer circle people can mislead, fool, and trap within their lies and manipulation.  For it to not be you or me, all we have to do is to understand that someone is using us or treating us in a way we don’t deserve and then we can walk away or stop participating as quickly as possible.

Let me know in the comments how do you deal with the people in your life who constantly stir up drama, play on your emotions, and try to get you to do their work for them.

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How To Tell The Difference Between Lemons And Turds: Part 3

We’ve arrived at the final post in the “lemons vs. turds” series about handling difficult challenges in our lives.  I promised you something powerful that you could put into action today, and I’ll get to that soon.  First, I want to tell you a story.

My father died last December, but in his last few days, he gave me a valuable gift.  This is the story of that gift.

My father was a very proud and private man.  Frankly, I didn’t feel especially close to him for most of my life.  Had he suddenly died early last year, I might not have shed a tear or felt much of a loss.  In an odd twist of life, my father didn’t die suddenly; I’ve shed multiple tears and felt the loss that results from his death.

Treatment was harder than my father expected.  He was very used to things going his way and to being able to force change.  Cancer, chemo, and radiation don’t really care what you’re used to.

I walked into my father’s hospital room one morning to find him in a terrible mood.  He didn’t say hello, and he wasn’t happy I was there.  He asked me to call one of my brothers to tell him not to visit.  I made the call, but wish I hadn’t.  The moment I closed my cell phone, I was told to leave.

“No.  I’m going to stay for a bit,” I said.

‘No’ is not a word my father liked.  A string of curses and anger directed at me spilled from him.  I let him rage.

Him yelling was nothing new, although it hadn’t been directed at me in years.  The things he said weren’t true.  Part of me wanted to scream, “This is not how you treat someone who’s helping you!  What’s wrong with you?”  But another part of me realized that what was really going on was that he was scared and didn’t want anyone to see him this sick.

I walked to his bed, calmly put down the rail guard, took the hand that was pushing me away, and wrapped him in my arms.  I explained that I was staying regardless of how much he told me to go, that I didn’t care that he couldn’t make it to the bathroom or that there was crap in his bed, that I knew he was scared and felt awful, and that I loved him regardless of all of that and always would.  I held him until he stopped fighting (which wasn’t long because he was really weak), kissed him on top of the head, and then set about getting him cleaned up and comfortable.  Within an hour, he was a lot more comfortable and a lot less grumpy.  I talked to all of his doctors and went with him when he had tests ran.  He held my hand for support a few times and checked to make sure I was right there when tests were being performed.  At the end of the day, he asked me to come back in the morning.

The next day the doctor came in and went over the results.  My father didn’t understand what the results or the follow-up tests meant, but I did.   Sometimes being a doctor isn’t fun.

Later that day, my father was talking to me about what he was going to do when he got out of the hospital and was done with treatment.  I did my best to smile and let him talk about things that would never happen.  There was no way to know how fast he’d go, but it was obvious that the end was in sight.

And then out of the blue, he apologized for being a bad dad.  It was barely audible, but he told me he was proud of me.  In 42 years I don’t think I’d ever heard him apologize for anything, and he’d certainly never said words of praise to me.

We spent the rest of every visit from then on out talking about things he’d never even mentioned before.  He talked about his childhood, his hopes and fears, and he talked about his regrets.  He also told stories about good times.  He asked me about my life and really listened to my answers.  We laughed and cried together, we talked about what it was like to be so sick, and we got to know each other in a very different way.

I did my best to encourage him to have similar conversations with the rest of the family, but he struggled with it and only got a little of it out with another brother.  “I’ll get to it later,” he said each time I asked him.

My father died less than a week after the above.  Nearly 300 people came to the visitation and told us stories about their experiences with him.  It quickly became clear that although he wasn’t always great with his family, he was a good guy (maybe even really good) to the rest of the world.  And he was a prankster.  My brothers and I never realized we got it from him.  We picked up many things from him without realizing it.

In the months after his death, I’ve thought a lot about my father and the conversations we had during his last week alive.  What made those talks possible when they’d been absent for a lifetime?

My father’s dad died when he was three, and his mom died when he was 20.  His step-father was an alcoholic, and my father hated him so much that my brothers and I didn’t even know he was still alive when we were kids.  My guess is that my father never knew what it was to feel loved unconditionally.  I’m not saying that he wasn’t loved unconditionally.  I’m saying he never knew he was or felt it.  He constantly worried about how other people saw him, and he never really felt like he was good enough.  He saw his faults much more than his strengths.

Because my brothers and I (and even my mom) were his, he felt that way about us too.  He’d tell other people good things about us if we weren’t there to hear it, but otherwise, we were often criticized and never praised by him.

The morning in the hospital when I refused to leave and told him I loved him no matter what…that morning changed everything between him and me.  It wasn’t me that made the difference, though.  I’ve hugged him and told him I love him hundreds if not thousands of times.  So have other people.  What changed was that he chose to believe it that day.  Once he believed it, he let himself be loved, give love, be vulnerable, share dreams, get and give forgiveness, seek help, and be himself without guard around me.  The moment someone else was in the room, it all disappeared.  But when it was just the two of us, I got to know my dad.

I can’t help but think what a different life my family would have had if only he’d been able to look at himself through loving eyes sooner.  What would have happened if he’d learned to practice forgiveness and to realize that he was good enough?  What would have happened if he could have loved us because we were his and he’d learned how to love himself instead of feeling like we would never be good enough because he felt he wasn’t?  What if he could have seen faults and helped find solutions instead of feeling that faults had to be denied, hidden, or ridiculed lest you risk abandonment?  My father did a lot in his life (he bought a farm, raised six kids, was married 58 years, etc., etc.), but how much sweeter would his life and our lives have been if only he could have enjoyed it instead of feeling like he didn’t deserve it and that it could all be yanked away at any second?

Those questions are the gift my dad gave me right before he died.  They’ve changed my life and added value.

That brings me back to my promise to you of an action you can take today that holds the power to positively change your life.  I want you to stand in front of a full-length mirror, look at yourself from head to toe, and then look yourself in the eyes and say, “I love you and know you’re worthy of a really good life.”

Snicker, fidget, giggle…whatever it takes to find the courage to do it, but go try it right now and then come back.  Seriously, go!  And say the words out loud.

Was it harder than you thought?  Did some part of you want to look away, call you a liar, point out a flaw, feel restless to uncomfortable, or try to hide?  Or maybe you asked yourself, “If that’s true, then why is my life like this?”  Some of you never left your seat.

Maybe you’ve always wanted the approval of a parent and never got it.  But my father’s parents had been dead for 73 and 56 years the day my father got the approval he wanted.  Your and my worth comes from inside, not outside.  It’s you who needs to love you.  You who needs to believe you’re worthy of a good life.  Regardless of how good or how bad your life has been, regardless of what anyone else thinks of you or says about you, what you think of yourself is far more powerful and a much greater indicator of how you will live, love, and learn in this world.  Like it or not, how you feel about yourself will also affect everyone you interact with.

Tell yourself every day.  If there’s resistance, concentrate on something that is good about you and try again.  You didn’t learn to walk in one day, what makes you think that you’ll be able to love yourself that quickly?  If there isn’t resistance, saying it will help reinforce your better points and remind you to live up to the life you deserve.

You’ll learn to identify the “turds and lemons” in your life more quickly.  People trying to push your buttons won’t get reactions and you’ll experience less drama.  Friendships will deepen.  Family dynamics will change.  You’ll treat yourself better and other people will start treating you better too.  You’ll find that you really do have the strength to get through challenging things because you’ll be able to recognize and appreciate the good things in your life.

Not bad for something as small as a perspective change, eh?  I realize it isn’t easy, but each of you is capable.  If my dad could do it at the age of 76, you can do it now.

🙂
Kathryn

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