Friday, May 30, 2008

Back to Usual

Well, I threw in the towel yesterday. I couldn't take the mental stresses of not eating gluten and dairy! I am keeping our diet very low in both. N's behavior was not wonderful when we started the diet, but that may be attributed to the end of preschool and beginning of a long summer. He is not very good with milestone transitions.

I learned quite a bit about the science of baking, alternate grains, health and nutrition, and psychology as we prepared for and undertook the experiment. It is not all for a loss.

On an interesting note: D did not have the crabbiness that the rest of us had. In fact, over the six days of the strict elimination diet, he said he woke up every morning feeling more rested than he had in years. That is something for us to ponder.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When the cure kills the patient

I suppose the basic issue is that we (meaning my son, daughter, and myself) have been addicted to gluten--and possibly dairy--our entire lives. So, we find ourselves acting really poorly lo these four days. My husband is doing fine, he says. (But he gets to spend ten hours a day outside of our not-so-happy house.)

Frankly, I don't know how much longer I can handle my son's non-stop movement and my daughter's whining. Myself, I am hanging on by a thread. Every single thing in my environment BUGS THE LIVING HELL OUT OF ME.

We were all such a ball of joy today, running our errands and amazing our fellow shoppers at the depths of our incivility. As we paused in a playground outside the children's hospital where my daughter had an appointment, I tearfully called my husband to ask if he thought I should cancel the diet test. He said he would support me whatever I decided, because he understood it was important that I find a cause for the kids' and my own range of maladies.

When I got home this afternoon, after I had unpacked the groceries, helped the kids unburden themselves and find something to do, returned a few phone calls, fed and took out the dogs, tended to my own needs, and drank some water (AND BELIEVE ME THIS SEEMED TO TAKE TWO YEARS OFF MY LIFE), it occurred to me that maybe I was having withdrawal from something. So I Googled "gluten withdrawal." Voila.

I've always freely admitted to using food as medication. Dunkin Donuts got me through some dark days in graduate school. Popeye's biscuits softened the blow of divorce.

Wise people say that what you crave most is likely what is doing you the least good. This time, I may have to cede to my demons. My life is far too complicated right now to be dealing with a new panel of troubles brought on by such drastic alterations.

I am going to take us one more day into the FAILSAFE, gluten-free, casein-free wonderland, taking moments throughout the day to consider what smaller steps we could take for our health and well-being. Certainly we will continue to avoid artifical food dyes, preservatives, and glutamates. I would also like to keep the shampoo, soap, and toothpaste contamination to a minimum.

Gluten and casein? I'm thinking on it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Elimination Diet, Day 3

N's scalp still red, but he seems to be itching/scratching his face and head less. Me? I'm crabbier than hell and tired to boot.

buckwheat pancakes (REALLY successful FAILSAFE, GF, CF recipe I will post tomorrow)
rice milk for kids

oatmeal and maple syrup
raw cashews

celery sticks and rice cakes with hummus dip (NO lemon juice or tahini, instead, a dash of citric acid; rice bran oil for olive)
leftover pancakes
oatmeal cookies

leftover lentils and millet from last night

scrambled eggs and kettle chips for the kids
omelette with diced sauteed potatoes and scallions for grown folk
green beans
iceberg lettuce with oil, dash of citric acid, garlic powder and salt

By the way, the kids were all over dinner, after balking all day. They had multiple helpings of everything. So we are coming back around I think. I am very lucky that my husband is supportive of all of this. He misses his Extra Sugar-Free Bubble Gum.

I am getting used to brushing my teeth with plain baking soda. It is extremely salty, but somehow I get a kick out of it. Crazy like that.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Elimination Diet, Day 2

I was tired today. It could have something to do with getting up in the middle of the night for one of the kids, or waking up early with the whywonttheyshutthehellup? birds celebrating the beautiful morning. Or the 30 minute power walk. Or the monthly loss of blood. Okay, it could be the diet. Jury's out.

teff muffin
oatmeal and maple syrup
rice milk for the kids

oatmeal cookies

stir fry of garlic, shredded chicken, and green beans over rice noodles
leftover black beans
leftover red cabbage
celery sticks

"lemony" popsicles (simple syrup w/citric acid, diluted and frozen in popsicle molds)

lentils (w/garlic and celery) over millet
brussels sprouts which we could not eat because they were covered in brown spots. bleah.

N is still batting at his itchy ears and his scalp is still red. He tells me the new diet is not working. I tell him we have two weeks to wait. AC is ornery as hell. I think she's catching a cold. This food is not foreign to her and she's usually my omnivore. But she is all of a sudden picky. Her nose is running, though. Again, jury's out.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Elimination Diet, Day 1

And it begins.

Rice waffles (also contain tapioca and arrowroot flours) and pure maple syrup
Fresh Bartlet pears, peeled
Rice milk for the kids

Celery sticks, more waffles

After a bite of a Teff Muffin, N balked. He said he liked the Maple Muffins (what I call the FAILSAFE muffins) better. I'll make those again, but first I'm going to try a Pear Muffin recipe.

Shredded roast chicken (yes, veggie friends, I roasted a free-range, hormone-free chicken last night. My first and possibly not last.) with sauteed garlic and celery in a rice wrap. Celery sticks.

Home-made soda (simple syrup with a dash of citric acid, mixed with soda water to taste--I got a high five from the husband for that one), home-made oatmeal cookies (the Quaker Oats recipe with my home-made gluten-free flour mix to replace the wheat flour and Ghee to replace the shortening; no vanilla or nuts added).

Eggs fried in rice bran oil (that and ghee are my only oils)
Red cabbage "slaw" with some oil and a dash of sugar
Black beans cooked with sauteed celery and garlic
Baked potato wedges

More oatmeal cookies

We aren't going to starve for the elimination period, but we will be low on a few nutrients. It's nothing that will hurt us, though. When we have been on the diet at least two weeks with five consecutive symptom-free days, I will start the first challenge: dairy.

New Muffin

I made a new muffin that is quite yummy. I used the recipe off the back of Bob's Red Mill Teff Flour (it's also on their web site) with the following substitutions: 100% maple syrup for the brown sugar, rice bran oil for the olive oil, and a 1:2 ratio of baking soda to cream of tartar for the baking powder. I had to leave off the cinnamon and hazelnuts. They are oh so good, FAILSAFE, and gluten- and casein-free!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Environmentally, Personally Safe Products

So, in getting ready for the elimination diet, I'm also replacing our personal care products with ones having fewer harmful ingredients. I've started using the Crystal deodorant, and the kids have already switched to California Baby Super-Sensitive Shampoo and Body Wash. (Our Target carries it for $1 less per bottle than the manufacturer's web site.) I'll switch Saturday morning. Saturday is D-Day.

I guess we'll all start using baking soda as our toothpaste. D and N already use a toothpaste that has no sodium lauryl sulfate (they are both troubled by apthous ulcers--sores in the mouth--and this ingredient may exacerbate them). Their current toothpaste, Trader Joe's brand, is very pasty and low foam, so I'm hoping a baking soda and water paste won't throw them too much. AC will hate it, I know that.

Still wondering what to use as a moisturizer and D's shaving cream. Will report back on that later.

Monday, May 12, 2008

FAILSAFE Muffins, My Way

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are going on an elimination diet (the FAILSAFE diet minus gluten and casein) in a couple of weeks, and then challenging gluten, dairy, and a couple other food components to see what might be contributing to some of our health issues.

Here is my current version of a popular muffin recipe in FAILSAFE circles. It has also been modified to be gluten- and casein-free (GF-CF). The kids like them okay, so I can see them being something to help fill our tummies as we go through what is bound to be a strange and boring few weeks of limited food choices.

makes 1 dozen regular-sized muffins

2 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum (all I had--guar gum instead would be FAILSAFE-er)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
scant 1 1/4 cup water
1 egg
3 Tbsp rice bran oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tins with a FAILSAFE oil (only rice bran oil or ghee, as far as I know) or line with paper muffin cups.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients with a whisk. In a smaller bowl, whisk together syrup, water, egg, and oil. When the oven is hot and the muffin tins are prepared, pour liquids into dry ingredients and mix batter with spoon only until moistened.

Divide batter into the 12 muffin cups. Bake immediately at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes. Use a toothpick in the center of a muffin to test for doneness.
Here are several FAILSAFE, GF-CF variations I have read about, but have not yet tried.
Savory muffins: add pressed garlic and cut the sweetener
Dessert muffins: bake as mini-muffins, serve drizzled with maple syrup or canned pears in syrup
Breakfast muffins: make a fried egg muffin "sandwich"

***edited to add nutritional data, calculated at, you guess it,***
Per 1 serving (1 muffin)
Calories: 166
Fat: 5g
Carbohydrates: 29g
Protein: 2g
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 4%
See the entire breakdown here:

I found these muffins acceptable as a breakfast or a snack. The texture does not have the crumb of a wheat-flour muffin made with milk, but rather gets a little gummy in your mouth the more you chew. Not enough to be bothersome, though.

Next, I'm going to experiment with some FAILSAFE, GF-CF waffle recipes, since that is a beloved breakfast at my house. I will miss my Bisquick, that's for sure.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whither Spring?


I'm from the South, people. This just isn't right. I'd complain, but the natives will return with, "It's Delaware. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Spring Parasites

We are just closing out the second week of family illnesses. I think all the humans are back to normal, and perhaps W too, one of our Italian Greyhounds. After dealing with both children throwing up all over their bedding multiple times for weeks now, I had the pleasure of cleaning up after a dog who had bloody diarrhea all over MY bed. Just to mix it up a bit, I guess.

Trip to the vet revealed that a roundworm infestation was upsetting his system. Roundworm. Gross me out so many different MORE ways just than finding the ruined duvet. Now he and R are on meds (since R has likely picked it up from W), have a more sanitary routine, and I still have the willies.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Spring Bug

Little AC and I have gastroenteritis. Yummy.