Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Ideal Gluten-free, egg free Thanksgiving....

Preparing for (and eating!) a Thanksgiving meal should be fun, but when you have to ditch most of your favorite recipes and use ingredients you have never heard of it can become downright maddening.  If you have multiple food allergies/sensitivities, your list of acceptable recipes gets even smaller.  This Thanksgiving, I am needing to be gluten free, egg free, and sugars free (only Xylitol or Stevia are okay).  It seemed like stuffing and pumpkin pie were completely out for me, but it can be done!  If I had the time and the money (and/or my own personal chef), this is what my Thanksgiving Day menu would look like:

Roast Turkey with Herby Gravy
Serves 12
4 organic carrots, scrubbed, cut crosswise and then into thirds
4 ribs celery with leafy tops, cut crosswise and then into thirds
2 onions, peeled and quartered
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh sage
1 apple, quartered and cored
1 cinnamon stick
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup pomegranate juice, red wine or additional chicken stock
10-14 lb free range or organic turkey, defrosted and brought to room temperature
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
4 tbsp water
spicy and smoky turkey spice rub
Preheat oven to 500˚.
Place 3 carrots, 3 ribs celery, 1 onion, 5 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary and 2 sprigs sage in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Cover with stock. If possible, place the rack on top of the vegetables, arranging them so the rack is stable.
Remove and discard turkey beck and giblets. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Place on rack in roasting pan breast side up. See the video below on prepping your bird.
Gently lift up skin on breast and thighs, if possible. Rub meat, under skin, with half of the spicy and smoky spice rub. Pull back skin into place. Drizzle skin with olive oil and rub skin with remaining spice rub. Fill cavity with remaining vegetables and spices.
Firmly turn wings under the breast of the turkey to stabilize on rack.
Create a turkey triangle. See the video below for a tutorial. Fold a large piece of foil into a triangle the size of the breast of your turkey. Lightly mist with cooking spray. Gently mold the foil to the shape of your turkey breast. Set aside.
Place turkey into oven and bake at 500˚ for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven. Reset oven to 350˚.
Place a temperature probe into the breast and set to 161, make sure the alert is turned on. Place turkey triangle over turkey breast and return turkey to the oven until breast reaches 161, about 1-2 hours (dependent upon the size of your bird); most of my birds only take an additional 45-60 minutes of baking. For some reason, free range and organic birds take less time to cook than conventional turkeys.
Remove turkey from oven and cover with two thick towels (I use bath towels). Allow the turkey to rest on the countertop for 30 minutes before carving.
with Gluten Free Herb Gravy
Pour pan drippings through a mesh sieve into a large saucepan. Add ½ cup pomegranate juice, wine or stock. Heat drippings over medium high heat. In a small bowl combine arrowroot and water with fork until no clumps remain. Pour into drippings. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and summer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Or... Herb Gravy 
1 quart chicken stock
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
pan drippings (from roasted chicken or turkey)
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat chicken stock, onions and garlic to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer until onions and garlic are soft, about 30 minutes
  3. Pour pan drippings into saucepan
  4. Blend stock-onion-drippings mixture in a Vitamix until smooth
  5. Place mixture back in saucepan and reheat, then season with salt and thyme
  6. Serve over turkey, mashed cauliflower, or anything else

Chorizo and Corn Bread Stuffing
1 pound hard chorizo diced
1 white onion diced 
1/2 cup chopped carrot (1 large carrot)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 cups crumbled corn bread
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Cook the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat until the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the onion, carrotscelery, and garlic to the chorizo and cook until the vegetables have carmelized, about 10 minutes.
Add the crumbled corn bread, chicken stock, and cilantro. Make sure that the stuffing itself is not to dry but at the same time not to wet.
Place the stuffing into a buttered casserole and bake in the oven until heated through and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Gluten Free Corn Bread
  • 2 flax eggs (2 Tbs ground flax, 6 Tbs water)
  • 1/2 C. Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 C. Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • 1 C. Finely Ground Cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
  • 3/4 Tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. Organic Sugar or Xylitol
  • 1 C. Non-Dairy Milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Oil, Melted
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch-square baking dish.
  3. Combine the ground flax seeds and water to make ‘flax eggs’. Stir and set aside for a couple of minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the gluten-free all-purpose flour, garbanzo bean flour, cornmeal, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt.
  5. Add the ‘flax eggs’, sugar, non-dairy milk, and coconut oil to the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined (do not over-mix).
  6. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool slightly, cut into pieces, and serve!
Ginger-Lime Cranberry Sauce (Sugar-Free)

1 12 oz. package fresh cranberries (4 cups)
heaping 1/2 cup xylitol
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
6 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
zest of 1/2 lime

In a sauce pot on medium heat, add all ingredients and stir, cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until desired thickness is reached, stirring occasionally. Serve hot or cold.

Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes" (aka. Faux-Tatoes or No-Tatoes)
modified from:

1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons almond milk
1 tablespoon organic, unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper
snipped chives

1. Separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the core finely.
2. Bring about 1 cup of water to a simmer in a pot, then add the cauliflower. Cover and turn the heat to medium. Cook the cauliflower for 12-15 minutes or until very tender.
3. Drain and discard all of the water (the drier the cauliflower is, the better) and add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash with a masher until it looks like "mashed potatoes." Top with chives.

Cinnamon Apple Tart with Pecan Crust

  • 4-5 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced ⅛-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon Xylitol
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pecan Tart Crust
  1. In a large bowl, toss apple slices, lemon juice, arrowroot, honey and cinnamon
  2. Fan apples out on top of uncooked crust, forming a circle
  3. Layer more apples over circle and in its center
  4. Cover tart with foil, and bake at 350° for 45 to 70 minutes, or until juices are bubbling
  5. Remove foil and cook uncovered for 5-10 more minutes
Serves 6

Paleo Pecan Tart Crust
  1. Place pecans in food processor and pulse until the texture of coarse gravel
  2. Pulse in egg, coconut flour and salt until mixture forms a ball
  3. Grease a 9-inch tart pan
  4. Using your hands, press crust onto bottom and up sides of tart pan
  5. Top off crust with your favorite filling
  6. Bake until filling is done (length of time dependent upon filling recipe)
  7. Serve


3/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
1 tsp stevia glycerite (omit if using Swerve)
1 egg (omit if egg allergy... it will still work!)
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c powdered Swerve (or powdered erythritol and 1/4 tsp stevia glycerite)
8 oz cream cheese OR mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (or coconut cream for dairy allergy)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup Swerve (or erythritol and 1 tsp stevia glycerite)
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

CRUST LAYER: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, Just Like Brown Sugar and stevia. Cream for a few minutes until very fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth. Add egg and mix well. Roll 2 TBS of dough into a ball in your hands (for uniform shape) onto a cookie sheet. Place cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Crumble and use as cookie crust.

CREAM LAYER: Mix the almond milk, cream cheese, powdered swerve and vanilla until well combined. 

PUMPKIN LAYER: Pour the almond milk into a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, sweetener, and spices. Beat with a wire whisk for 2 minutes, or until very well blended. The mixture should be quite thick.

TO LAYER INTO THE JARS: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip (or a large Ziplock with an end cut) with the whippy cream cheese mixture. Pipe a layer of this mixture onto the bottom of an 8-ounce Mason jar or cute jar like the ones I used (click HERE to find), starting at the edge of the jar and working to the center. Repeat this step with the rest of the jars.

That would be my ideal Thanksgiving dinner for this year, but this stuff is expensive and I don't have the time to do it all.  I'm guessing you don't either, so the best advice I can give us is pick which dishes are most important to you and focus on those.  (For me, nothing says Thanksgiving dinner like savory stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.)  As always, plan ahead! If you are able, try recipes before the actual day.  That way if they don't work or need to be modified you are able to do so and you don't end up having to go without your favorite dish.  Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Basic Chicken Noodle Soup

Basic Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe is my starting point for all my other variations.

4 c. chicken broth or stock
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. diced cooked chicken (I use left over rotisserie chicken.)
1 package cooked noodles (I use Kelp Noodles, but you can use which ever kind of noodles fit your diet.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth, celery, and onion to a rolling boil.  Boil for about 5 minutes or until celery and onion are soft (but not mushy).  Add chicken and noodles and cook for another half hour on low heat.  Makes 5-6 servings.


  • Before adding the celery and onion to the broth, boil the leaves from the celery stalk and 2-3 bay leaves for ten minutes.  Remove celery leaves and bay leaves and continue recipe as above.
  • Try different spices (such as Herbs de Provence) or make the soup a little more spicy by adding a little bit of powdered ginger. 
  • Add other veggies such as carrots, zucchini, or even kale leaves.  Boil carrots & zucchini with the celery and onions in the broth.
  • Make it vegetarian by using Vegetable Stock and omitting the chicken, then adding lots of other veggies.

Thankfulness and Vitamin D

As promised, I am back to share something positive and hopeful.  Clearly yesterday was a rough day for me.  I'm thinking I might be low on Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, so I'm going to work on that.  A friend shared that possibility (being low on Vitamin D) with me on facebook and it got me thinking about how blessed I am to have the people in my life that God has blessed me with.  This lead to my realization of how fully blessed I am simply because God is walking this journey with me.  

Last night my husband played a song for me.  It was one that I had already heard and it speaks right to the heart of where I am at right now, but it was also affirming that he recognized on his own where I was at and wanted to share that song with me.  The song is "Need You Now (How Many Times)" by Plumb and the chorus goes like this:

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Today in my daily devotional Beth Moore had this to say:  "If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction (Psalm 119:92).  Teach me your Word during this season of my life like I have never known it before, and make this verse my testimony when I emerge from this place."  My desire should be to know God more through the struggles of this time, until the time "when I emerge from this place."  He is my strength, my hope, my rock, and my Truth.  He alone can heal my body, my mind, and my spirit.  Doctors and chiropractors can only do so much- ultimately healing comes from the One who created me.  

Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me through your living Word and through the people that you have placed in my life.  To you, oh Lord, I life up my soul; in you I trust, oh God (Psalm 25:1).  Amen.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 60 of the Candida Diet- How am I doing today?

 People often ask me how I am doing on this diet, and most of the time I just don't even want to answer because to give a truly honest answer wouldn't be very uplifting.  Today is day 60 of the strict phase of the candida diet and it finds me cranky and melancholy.  Two months down, how many more to go?  I am craving "normal" foods and I am sad over the loss of many of my favorite foods and restaurants.  I'm tired of having to make all of my food from scratch using very limited ingredients and I am so very tempted to chuck it all and have a nice, tasty gluten free pizza.  (Unfortunately the eggs in the crust, tomatoes, and dairy make that not the best option for me right now.)  I have come to the realization that the things I really crave when it comes to food are balance, convenience, and variety.

I crave balance.  If I eat something sweet, I crave something salty to balance it out.  If all I eat are vegetables, I crave fruit to balance it out.  Since nothing that I can eat has any real crunch to it, I crave tortilla chips and crackers.  Balance and variety go hand in hand.  It is hard to achieve balance when your options are so limited.  I also crave convenience.  It is very stressful knowing that if I forget my homemade lunch on the kitchen table when I go to work, my options for going out to "grab a bite to eat" are severely limited.  I crave the convenience of being able to look up a recipe and not have to wondering if my egg replacer will work or how much agar flakes cost.  I crave "normal."

I am worried about the upcoming holidays.  Potlucks, holiday parties, and family gatherings are a minefield of danger and deprivation.  Or at least that's how it looks from here.  I'm so new at this and I don't have a lot of time on my hands to try out these recipes that I find.  I know that a gluten-free, Candida Diet approved Thanksgiving dinner is possible, I just don't have the time to figure out how to do it.  I'm tired and I'm frustrated and I just want to be done with this diet.   I look at all the other bloggers and they are so upbeat and optimistic.  Am I the only one who really struggles with this?  I guess one difference is I am not trying to sell anything with this blog, so  I can afford to be real with how I am feeling and not sugar coat it.  I couldn't use sugar anyway, I would have to use Xylitol.

So, in a nut shell, that is how I am doing today.  I promise to come back and post something more optimistic and hopeful soon. Reminder to myself:  THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vegan Pancakes

Woo hoo!  This morning I made pancakes that actually taste like pancakes, my father-in-law even asked for seconds!  I started with the pancake recipe from Elana's Pantry (which is the starting place for most of my current cooking attempts) and modified little by little.  These pancakes are made from blanched almond flour and use chia seed meal plus water and arrowroot starch as egg replacers.  I also substituted a Xylitol/ Stevia blend for the agave nectar and then added an extra 3/4 cup of liquid to get the batter to the right consistency.  These are best made on a griddle for even cooking, but I used a junky skillet on an electric stove and they turned out fine.  Also, keep in mind that I am NOT a professional anything in the kitchen - this is just how I made this recipe work for me.  Happy breakfast!

Vegan Pancakes (Candida Diet approved!)

2 TB. chia seed meal + 6 TB. hot water (egg replacer)

Dry Ingredients:
1&1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 TB. arrowroot powder
1/4 cup Xylitol/Stevia blend (I use my own 60/40 blend.)

Wet Ingredients:
1 TB. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1/4 cup of water to start, plus up to 3/4 cup additional liquid to thin batter

  1. Make egg replacer by mixing the chia seed meal and hot (but not boiling) water.  Set aside while mixing other ingredients and allow mixture to gel.  
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. After egg replacer has gelled, add remaining wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add extra liquid (I used coconut milk) to batter until is resembles normal pancake batter.
  6. Using a table spoon from the silverware drawer, scoop one spoon of batter onto griddle and use spoon to spread batter around to thin pancake.
  7. Cook until edges brown and pancake bubbles.  Flip pancake and allow to cook until it rises and then collapses.  This is how you know the inside of the pancake will be fully cooked.
  8. Serve with Coconut Manna and crushed almonds or other sweeter nuts.
Makes approximately 20 small (2-3 inch) pancakes.

PS.  Many thanks to my in-laws and my hubby this weekend for all their support, encouragement, and culinary knowledge. They helped me improve a couple of my recipes and answered many cooking related questions.  Most of all, they enjoyed the food that I can eat right along with me- from purchase to prep to plate.  It's really nice to be able to share what I am doing with others who are willing to try something new!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Case of the Crazies

I knew this treatment diet would be difficult and expensive.  I knew it would be frustrating and time consuming.  I did not realize just how much of an emotional roller coaster it would be.  One minute I am doing well and feel like I've got it all under control, the next I am in tears on the edge of a melt-down.  (I guess I'm getting a good idea of how it feels to be a three year old.)  Little things like not being able to find real, whole foods at the grocery store can send me in a tail spin.  My husband asks how he can help and the truth is I just don't know what to tell him.  

One thing that I have realized is that I am, in a sense, going through a grieving period over the loss of "my foods."  The K├╝bler-Ross Model, commonly known as the Five Stages of Grief, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I can go through all five stages in the course of an hour.  Denial:  "YEAH, I'm fine, I can do this, this is no big deal!  It's only for a few months." Anger:  "This SUCKS.  I HATE THIS.  I'm going have to be on this diet FOREVER."  Bargaining:  "I just need to find a new doctor.  Maybe if I do this differently, it'll be over sooner.  I just need to go hard core and it'll all be good."  Depression:  "No one understands what I am going through.  No one really cares.  I'm just going to curl up in a little ball and hibernate until this stupid diet it over."  Acceptance:  "Yes, this does suck but you are NOT alone and it is only for a period of time, not forever."  I know that it is no where the same as loosing a loved one (it doesn't really even compare to that), which is what these stages were originally developed for, but it is still a loss and it does leave a big hole in your life.

This may sound silly if you haven't been told that if you continue eating what you have been eating you will continue to be sick.  This is NOT a fad diet.  I'm not doing this to lose weight or to clear up my complexion.  I am doing this because my body was shutting down and I am sick all the time.  So, yes, I can cheat and sneak one of the forbidden foods here and there, but then I get to feel like junk the next day.  

Here's where the loss comes in- our culture, our lives, revolve around food.  Imagine birthdays without cake, Thanksgiving without stuffing, Christmas without cookies.  Imagine never being able to go to your favorite restaurant again because you can no longer eat anything on they have on the menu.  Imagine all your favorite recipes from your childhood are no longer a possibility.  We have an emotional connection with our food, traditions and memories accompany much of what we eat.  I am mourning the loss of those traditions and future memories.  I am trying to learn to make new traditions and to look forward to new memories.  And I am still looking forward to reintroducing some of those favorites, just in a new and healthier way.  So if you are going through this, know that it is okay to grieve, to cry, to get mad.  It is difficult, but you will learn new ways of doing things and it will get easier.  At lease that's what I am hoping for.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Salad Dressings

Here is a few of my "Go To" salad dressings.  Store bought salad dressings are full of preservatives and additives- making your own salad dressings is both very easy and very good for you!  I've had to cut out tomatoes completely because of my acid reflux, but I love the Tomato Basil dressing and look forward to adding that back into my diet someday.  The Green Goddess Dressing is smooth and creamy and goes great with spinach and chicken.  The Italian Dressing is super versatile and can be kept in the fridge for up to three months.  The recipes below are how I make them, but feel free to experiment with seasonings and ingredients to make your salad dressing just right for you.

Tomato Basil Dressing 
from Maximized Living's Nutrition Plan

1 medium tomato, roughly chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
2-4 TB Apple Cider Vinegar (organic, raw & unpasteurized is best)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Basil Leaves (whole) or 1/8 cup dried basil
1/2 Clove Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  This dressing is also great as a substitute for ketchup on burgers or steak.  I love it over steak with fresh avocado!

Green Goddess Dressing

1 avocado
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon herbes de provence
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
3-5 drops stevia or 1/2 tsp Xylitol
1 cup water

  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or a blender
  2. Process on high speed until smooth and creamy
  3. Pour over your favorite salad greens
  4. Store remaining dressing in a glass jar in fridge
  5. Keeps for up to 5 days 

I love Elana's Pantry!   I have had to modify them to fit my Candida Diet plan, but many of my recipes are from her blog.  If you are getting in to clean eating or just want delicious food that is much better for you, check out her site!

Perfect Homemade Italian Dressing

1 cup of the vinegar (any type is fine, whether ACV, wine vinegar, rice vinegar, etc...)
1 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon Xylitol, optional (I prefer it without)
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoons salt

1. Pour ingredients into a glass jar or bottle with a cover. You may need to use a funnel, in which case pour the dry things in first before the liquids.
2. Cover and shake well.
3. Use, or refrigerate for up to 90 days.
4. Enjoy!

When using after it has been refrigerated, you will need to let the dressing get to room temperature as the dressing solidifies when cold.  This usually takes just a few minutes.  This dressing is also great as a marinade for chicken or fish and on cold salads, such as quinoa salad or a pasta salad.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Moving Mountains

This past weekend I was up north for a women's retreat at church camp I grew up going to.  On my way there, I almost turned the car around to go back home because I was so afraid I was either going to be miserable all weekend, I was going to eat something that would make me sick, or both.  Ironically, an hour before my mini-crisis, I had called the local Christian station here and offered this as my Friday "I Believe" Statement:  "I believe that God is watching over me, protecting me and providing for me, even when my emotions or my circumstances try and tell me otherwise."  Lord, I believe- help me in my unbelief!  It is astounding how quickly we can forget to trust Him and the promises that he gives us in his Word.

I had been feeling led to give this diet over to God all week, to place it in his hands, but I was fighting to stay in control.  But what if, God?  What if I the cook misunderstood my recipes, or ingredients, or instructions?  "Be still, and know that I am God."  But shouldn't I just check to make sure?  Wouldn't it be better if I did stay home, then I know what's in my food and don't have to worry about it?  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't try to understand everything on your own.  In ALL your ways, acknowledge him and he will show you the way to go."  But... but... I don't want to.  It's too hard.   "Do you trust me?"  Yes... well, kind of, as long as I can still be in control....  Oh wait, that's not exactly trust is it?

So there was my inner dialog as I drove north on I94, but I kept going and I made it there.  And I am so glad I did.  I had a great weekend, the food was excellent and well prepared, and God had some great things to say to me.  My favorite was this:  "This too shall pass.  Don't give up, keep on following where I lead you.  Trust in Me."  This too shall pass.  

Another quote from the weekend that really stood out to me was "The Enemy's two favorite words to bring us down are always and never."  And that is exactly what Satan has been whispering in my ear, over and over.  "You are always going to have to struggle with this diet.  You are never going to feel better no matter what you do.  It is ALWAYS going to be this difficult."  Get behind me Satan!  This is only one moment in time, and God will lead me through it.  I will stand on His promises and believe in His Truth.  To quote Jason Castro, "This is only a mountain.  You don't have to find your way around it.  Tell it to move it will move, tell it to fall, it will fall.  This is only a moment, you don't have to let your fear control it.  Tell it to move it will move, tell it to move it will move."

A Day Away From Home- traveling with dietary restrictions

One of my biggest fears when starting the Candida Diet was how to travel and still be able to eat the limited food options that fit my dietary restrictions.  (Note: this post refers only to day trips and traveling to places where you are able to bring your own food.  I have no idea how you would travel to a hotel in a distant city and still be able to eat clean.  If anyone knows or has done this, please share!)  We had several events plan during the first month of my diet including a Friday night wedding and an airshow which would last the entire day.  I knew I would probably not be able to eat anything offered at either event, so at first it seemed like my only two options were to cheat on the diet or to go hungry.

The wedding was at a fancy venue from six PM until after ten PM, so I needed to have something to eat but I didn't want to cart in anything that even remotely looked like a cooler.  (It definitely would not have gone with my outfit!)   The airshow was an all day event three hours from my home, so going hungry wasn't really a viable option for me and the only food they had available was concession stand food ranging from corn dogs to funnel cakes.  The healthiest option there appeared to be the Supreme Nachos (lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef... soaking in grease) but even my husband who has a steel-coated stomach said they made him feel sick.

So I knew I had to find another option besides cheating or going hungry and I found a few different ways to adjust.  The key element in eating away from home comes down to two words:  PLAN AHEAD.  For me one of the most important things was getting a letter from my doctor stating my dietary restrictions.  The airshow required that I had it and it came in handy at the reception as well.

 For the Friday wedding I went out and bought a cute little cooler that no one even realized was a cooler, they just thought it was my purse.  It is a Fit & Fresh brand cooler that I purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and you can find it online at or look up "Fit & Fresh" on  They have lots of styles and patterns to choose from so it's easy to find one to fit your fashion needs.  Thirty-One Gifts also has quite a few options, look under Thermals on their website

At the reception, one of the first things I did was to find the person in charge and let him or her know of my situation.  I let him know that I had a letter from my doctor explaining my restrictions and that I had brought a small cooler with food that I had prepared at home.  I politely asked if it would be okay for me to eat my food there at the venue.  The maitre-d was so impressed by all my prep work and the fact that his kitchen staff wouldn't have to read labels on every single item they brought out that he actually thanked me!  He made sure the closing captain (main server) knew what was going on and instructed all the rest of the servers to "leave you alone to eat your food in peace!"   I took out my food, ate it, and the party went on.  It was a great reception and I am so glad I was able to celebrate that special time with my friends without feeling left out or making a big scene.

The airshow was the following day and we left our house at six AM and got home some time after ten PM.  I emailed the public relations contact listed on the airshow's website and explained my dietary restrictions and he requested that I obtain a letter from my doctor and pack my food in a soft-sided cooler.  I had prepped all of my food for both the reception and the airshow on Thursday night and I had it all stacked up in the fridge and ready to go.  I actually ended up having too much food and I was able to share some of my healthy food with my husband who was craving some nutrition after his Supreme(ly gross) Nachos.

After the airshow, my family and I went to a restaurant in town that I had researched the week before.  I knew they had at least two things on the menu that I would be able to eat and the Lake Superior fresh caught white fish with wild rice medley was amazing!  I did have a little bit of a cheat with the cranberries in the wild rice, but I am learning to let the small things slide.  (This doesn't mean I'm going to be counting M&Ms or Dip & Dots as "small things," but a little bit of accidental fruit here or a little bit of carrots there just might keep me sane during the next three months.)  Again, the key here was planning ahead- we knew which restaurant would be able to accommodate my food restrictions, we knew how to get there, and we all had delicious, healthy food for dinner.

"So what exactly could you pack to eat?"  This question really gave me a hard time- the food had to be ready to eat (and not need to be heated up), easy to make, easy to consume (not requiring a plate, fork, knife, and spoon), and able to stay fresh in a cooler for several hours.  My only experience with food like that was PB&J sandwiches and Luncheables, until I discovered Applegate Farms turkey deli meat at Trader Joe's!  My menu for the Friday reception was: deli turkey roll-ups with fresh avocado spread and mixed greens, celery & snow pea pods with almond butter, and home made almond cookies for dessert.  For Saturday I added a few things to the Friday menu:  plain yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts for breakfast, homemade power bars, homemade chicken noodle soup in a thermos, and plain raw almonds.  Let's just say I didn't go hungry that day!

I can't stress this enough, the key to a successful "day away from home" is planning ahead.  I have to find time to plan the menu, purchase the food,  prep the food before hand, figure out the best way to get it there and who I need to talk to to make sure that it's okay to bring it.  It is a lot of work, but for me it has been totally worth it to be able to spend time with my family and friends.  I'm not going to lie, I am REALLY looking forward to easing up on the diet and being able to have fruit and healthy gluten free deli tortilla wraps and hopefully someday soon adding eggs back in to my diet, but until my body heals this is where I am at and I have to make plans to get through it.  Please let me know if you have any ideas, easily portable meal items, or tips on how to travel with a restricted diet.  Being on a restricted diet is not easy, but sharing the road with someone who understands makes the journey just a little bit easier.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On my way home from work I picked up some kelp noodles for the first time ever and then decided to make my own chicken noodle soup.  The kelp noodles may take some getting used to, they are a little rubbery for my palate, but not too bad.  The fact that this recipe was super easy AND contains seven of the Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods makes it a worthwhile recipe.  I served it with the Herb Crackers of Elana's Pantry fame- so good!

Slightly Spicy Candida-Kicker Chicken "Noodle" Soup

4 cups Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
1 package kelp noodles
1 large celery stalk, diced
8 green onions, chopped
2 cups of rotisserie chicken breast, pulled 
1 clove of garlic minced
1 TB lemon juice

1 TB extra virgin coconut oil
1 TB ginger powder
dash of cayenne pepper 

1.  Combine chicken broth, lemon juice, coconut oil, ginger powder, and dash of cayenne pepper in a large stock pot.
2.  Add celery, onions, and garlic to the broth mixture.
3.  Bring these ingredients to a boil, then add chicken and kelp noodles.
4. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  

Makes four servings (two cups each).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This weekend will mark my first outing into the world while on my restricted diet.  Until now I have been able to control all the details of my food.  I have been able to plan each and every detail of everything I eat.  I have been in control (even when I have felt just the opposite).  This weekend, I will hand that control over to another person whom I have never met and trust that this person has understood all of my careful planning and directions and suggestions.

As fantastic as it will be to not have to purchase, prep, and prepare all of my food for two whole days, I am having a hard time letting go of the control.  I want to check all of the ingredients, read every label of every ingredient used, double check that the recipes were followed exactly.  And yet I feel led to trust that everything will be okay, that the person cooking my food has heard me and understood me enough to "get it right."  More than that, I feel like God is calling me to trust Him with my food, my diet, and my health.

The hard fact of the matter is that I don't really want to.  I want to be in control.  I want to hole up in my house for the next three months and skip life for awhile.  Then I can eat the breakfast that I made at home;  I can pack my own lunch that I make each day for work; I can make my own dinner and know each and every ingredient.  For the next three months.   I could do this, and a huge part of me wants to, but I feel God calling me to trust Him and watch how He will move in my life through this difficult time.

I heard a new song on the radio today, "Only a Mountain" by Jason Castro.  The chorus goes like this:

This is only a mountain
You don't have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall
This is only a moment
You don't have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall

I've been staring up at this mountain and planning how to scale it and worrying about how to get to the top, or get around it, or dig under it.  In this song God reminded me of the role that my faith needs to play in this struggle- in Him I have the power to over come it.  My "mountain" is fear, anger, frustration, and discouragement.  This is only one moment in my lifetime, just three months.  I don't need to live my life in fear anymore.  I need to trust Him and trust His provision for me.  "Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods

I want to hit this with all that I have available to me, so I am currently in search of the perfect recipe with will incorporate all ten of these ingredients and still taste amazing.  I'll let you know as soon as I come up with it.  Until then, here are the ingredients and their candida fighting stats so you can work on a recipe of your own.

The Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods

1. Coconut oil is a potent Candida killer, and one of the most potent antifungals there is. It contains Lauric acid and Caprylic acid, which both help prevent Candida overgrowth and strengthen your immune system.
Coconut oil is very heat stable, so it's an ideal oil to use for frying and cooking. It is also cheap to buy and has a much longer shelf life than other oils, so there's no excuse! You can 2-3 tablespoons per day.
2.  Garlic has powerful antifungal properties to attack Candida, while also preserving and boosting the good bacteria in your digestive system. Garlic stimulates the liver and colon, giving it a potent detoxifying effect on the body.
If you love garlic, then use it liberally to flavor your food. You can also drink 2-4 cloves per day, crushed and mixed with water as an anti-Candida tonic. Avoid taking it on an completely empty stomach, and try it with a tablespoon of coconut oil to cut down on the stomach burn.
3. Onions have strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. They also help to flush excess fluids out the body - this is useful because many Candida sufferers experience water retention. Onions along with garlic can give you breath issues, so a handy tip is to eat them with a bit of parsley to counter the smell.
4. Seaweed is a nutrient-dense healing food that will help the body in the fight against Candida. It is rich in Iodine to help balance your thyroid gland - Candida sufferers often experience hypothyroidism and its many symptoms. Seaweed flushes toxic pollutants and heavy metals from the body, and cleanses your intestinal tract.
Kelp extract supplements are one of the most potent sources of Iodine, but you should also try eating lots of different types of seaweed.
5. Almonds can be your best friend - a healthy portable snack that will help with your Candida diet. Keep them handy to counter any temptation when you are on the go and starving. Research has actually shown that almonds have prebiotic properties that promote beneficial bacteria in the gut. Some people have problems digesting almonds, so soak them first if you have any issues. Just leave them in water overnight or for around 8 hours.
6. Ginger has a detoxing on the body by increasing circulation and detoxifying the liver, in addition to stimulating the immune system. It has a positive effect on the digestive system and helps reduce intestinal gas. It also has a soothing effect on any inflammation that the Candida overgrowth may cause in your intestinal tract.
7. Olive oil contains a plant chemical named Oleuropein, which is found in both olive oil and olive leaf extract. It contains powerful anti-fungal properties and stimulates your immune system response to Candida. It has also been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels - this is important for Candida sufferers because elevated blood sugar levels can feed your yeast overgrowth.
8.  Lemon and lime juice stimulate the peristaltic action of your colon, increasing the efficiency of your digestive system.
Both lemons and limes are great options for seasoning your vegetable, fish and meat dishes.
9. Pumpkin Seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties. 'Omega-3's also help combat depression and symptoms of Candida inflammation such as pain and skin conditions. It is a well established fact that most of us do not get enough Omega-3 oils in our diet to maintain optimum thyroid health. Deficiencies in this fatty acid have been linked to lower thyroid hormone levels. For an easy Omega-3 boost, add these pumpkin seeds to cereal, smoothies, salads or even use them as a portable snack.
10.  Cayenne pepper gives natural support to your digestive system and immune system. It helps to digest food and reduces constipation by cleansing the bowel of Candida and other toxins. Cayenne also increases metabolism and circulation, which will help to reduce one of the most common Candida symptoms, fatigue. Use cayenne pepper liberally to spice up your favorite foods.

Day 5 of the Strict Diet Phase

I am on day five of the Strict Diet Phase of the Candida Diet, and I want to quit.  I feel like junk and I feel like I'm going crazy.  I can't think straight and I feel like I've been hit by a bus.  "But wait!" they tell me.  "This is a good thing!  It means the diet is really starting to work!"  Yes, my friends, I am now experiencing what is known as Candida Die Off.  And it sucks.

A search for symptoms of Candida Die Off provides you with many different options of maladies to choose from.  You can experience everything from "fatigue, depression, aches, irritability and abdominal pains" to nausea, chills, fever, and hives.  I have been experiencing the fatigue, aches, irritability, abdominal pains, elevated heart rate, and increased muscle and joint pain.  Thankfully, it is a quite weekend for us at home and I have an amazing husband who is currently at the farmer's market shopping for fresh organic vegetables.  I know I am blessed and I try to keep focused on that during this difficult transition for my body.

So what is Candida Die Off?  Did you know your body can produce ethanol?  I didn't know that until just now, so I'm guessing you didn't either.  I thought ethanol was just something made from corn that you put in your car at the gas station.  Turns out I was wrong.  According to, "When yeast cells are rapidly killed, a die-off (or Herxheimer reaction) occurs and metabolic by-products are released into the body. The Candida yeast cells actually release 79 different toxins when they die, including ethanol and acetaldehyde."  I'm not sure I want to know what acetaldehyde is.  

So what should I do about it?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  One book I have says "Please don't give up!  ... Drink lots of water and know that you are making progress!"  The Candida Diet website says, "Candida Die-Off symptoms will vary from person to person, as each will have different degrees of infestation. If you are having severe Die-Off symptoms, slow down your treatment and reduce your dosage of probiotics and antifungals. The liver is your main pathway for eliminating toxins, and the Die-Off symptoms mean that it is being overwhelmed."  So do I power through or do I pull back?  I guess since I haven't even started the probiotics and antifungals yet, I should just power through it.  If you are experiencing the same thing, I wish I could give you a direct answer but, unfortunately, there just isn't one.

And there it is, one of my biggest problems and struggles with this treatment diet.  There are no straight answers.  What works for me might not work for you.  It's all trial and error, and for me right now it seems to mostly be errors.  I guess that's what this blog is for, to document the trials, errors, and (hopefully someday in the very near future) successes.  I look forward to sharing my successes with you and being able to tell you first hand that it is worth all the confusion and effort.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Egg Substitutions, a work in progress...

Tonight I tried to make gluten-free, egg free (ie. Vegan) pancakes.  Epic fail.  First I tried just adding one TBS of coconut oil in place of the egg.  Fail.  Then I tried adding the "flax seed + boiling water" substitution.  Another fail.  I miss eggs!!!  Most of the recipes for Vegan Pancakes that I have found use banana as a substitute, which is not an option during the strict diet phase of the Candida Diet.  If anyone knows of a simple, easy, Vegan Gluten-Free pancake recipe, please let me know.  Or, I will just miss breakfast for the next three months.  

Below is a great overview of egg subs and how they are best used, most of which I either just haven't mastered or possibly don't work with a gluten free diet.  I'm guessing the "you can safely omit the egg" from pancakes part only applies to non-gluten-free pancakes.  I looked at the EnerG egg replacer at the grocery store and it had too many additive for my personal preference (including Sodium Carboxymethycellulose, Methylcellulose- neither of which I can pronounce and there for do not wish to consume).  And so my quest for a simple Vegan gluten-free pancake continues.  

General Egg Substitutions
1 egg = 2 heaped tbsp potato starch or arrowroot powder
1 egg = 1 small banana (or 1/2 big one)
1 egg = 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu
1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 2-3 tbsp warm water
1 egg = 1 tbsp soy flour + 1 tbsp water
1 egg = 2 tbsp vinegar dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 egg = 1/4 cup fruit puree + 1/2 tsp baking powder

In a cake, the eggs serve as a leavening agent, helping to make the cake light and fluffy. In baked goods such as cookies and muffins, the eggs add moisture and act as a binder, gluing all the other ingredients together. Sodepending on what you are baking, you may need to choose an egg-substitute that works the best.

Flat foods such as pancakes and cookies don't rely on eggs for lift, so you can safely omit the egg from the recipe; however, it's a good idea to add a tablespoon or two of additional liquid like milk, fruit juice, or water to restore the recipe to its original moisture content.

Savoury Recipes
Arrowroot starch, Potato starch, Cornstarch, Whole-wheat flour, unbleached, oat, or bean flour, Finely crushed breadcrumbs, cracker meal, Quick-cooking rolled oats or cooked oatmeal, Mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, or instant potato flakes are all great substitutes for eggs in savoury recipes like Casseroles, Patties/Cutlets, Breads and main Course entrees. Play around a little with these ingredients and experiment till you find the right balance. Try using 2-3 tbsp of any of these ingredients to replace 1 whole egg, and try choosing an ingredient that's already a part of your recipe so you do not alter the original taste a lot. Again, egg-replacerswork the best as they have no taste of their own.

Commercial Egg Replacer
Ener-G is an incredibly versatile and easy to use commercial egg replacer available in most health food stores and larger well-stocked grocery stores. Despite the instructions on the package to mix Ener-G with two tablespoons of water, some recipes will need a bit more moisture when replacing eggs using Ener-G, so you may need to compensate with an extra tablespoon of water or soy milk. Ener-G and other store-bought egg substitutes are relatively flavorless and work best in baked goods, such as cookies, muffins and cakes, and can also be used to bind ingredients together in a vegan casserole or loaf. Ener-G is vegan and certified kosher, but be sure to read the labels carefully on other brands, as some may contain egg whites.

Bananas and Applesauce
Smash up or blend about a half a banana or 1/4 cup applesauce to use as an egg replacer in baked goods such as muffins, pancakes or yeast-free quickbreads. Bananas and applesauce add the perfect amount of thick moisture, like eggs, but they won't help your dishes rise or turn out light and fluffy, so be sure to add 1/2 tsp extra of baking powder or baking soda to help it rise if needed.

Silken Tofu
Tofu is the best way to substitute eggs in savoury dishes such as a quiche, fritatta, sandwiches or salads. The texture of silken tofu or crumbled regular tofu is surprisingly similar to boiled or cooked eggs, and can lend a nice taste to the recipe.

Silken tofu is also an appropriate egg substitute in baked goods. To use, blend 1/4 cup silken tofu with liquid ingredients until tofu is smooth and creamy. While it won't alter the flavor of a recipe, using tofu as an egg substitute will make baked goods a bit on the heavy and thick side, so it works well in brownies, and pancakes, but wouldn't work well in something like an angel food cake which needs to be light and fluffy.

Flaxseeds or Whole Grains
Combine 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp boiling water in a small bowl for each egg you wish to replace. Let it stand approximately 10 minutes, until water is absorbed by flax, and then add to the recipe in place of egg

Egg substitutes are a preferred way to avoid eggs in your cooking. The lesser the amount of eggs a recipe needs, the easier it is to substitute them, without losing flavor or texture. Replacing eggs in recipes is also recommended at times to reduce fat and cholesterol content. So try these simple solutions for eggless recipes and experiment with them to find egg substitutes that work best with a recipe!

If you have a tried substitute that you'd like to share, please do so via comments and I'll update the post with your suggestions!