Gluten Free Fitness

Nutrition

Preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success

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You’ve probably heard it before, and deep down you know it’s true.

Preparing your own food is generally less expensive and can be more healthful that eating out or buying prepared food.

And for celiacs, it’s safer too. No risk for cross-contamination, no worries.

Some people think they don’t have the time to cook for themselves, or that they just are incapable of cooking.

I can assure you, I am not a chef.

An example of what I take to work for a day

An example of what I take to work for a day

I have learned a lot from watching the Food Network, but you’ll see the recipes I post are not gourmet by a long shot. There are other gluten free bloggers out there who are extremely talented. (like Karina the gluten free goddess, Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, or Elana’s Pantry, to name just a couple of the many very talented cooks out there.

My recipes are easy, straightforward, and healthy. Because quite frankly, these are my priorities and what I am capable of. I am a big fan of cooking in bulk-cook once, eat multiple times. If you have to heat up the oven, you may as well cook a metric ton (otherwise known as several pounds-I tend to exaggerate) of chicken breasts, your eggy breakfast casserole, some fish and some veggies at the same time.

This helps save time in the long run. Spend an hour or two a couple times a week, and save time, money, energy, and calories all week long. You will probably need some food storage containers for all your stuff, so make sure you’re prepared with those.

Sunday: Shop, cook and Prepare Day

Really, this could be any day, but if you work a regular work week you may find it easiest to get a large amount done on the weekend. When you go to the grocery/market, choose items in large quantities if possible. I am fortunate enough to have a food market nearby where I can buy boneless skinless, antibiotic free chicken breast for $1.79/lb.

A large turkey breast can be thrown in the crock-pot, or a couple whole chickens. A couple pork tenderloin, a big top round beef roast-you get the idea. Take advantage of what is in season and what’s on sale to stretch your grocery dollar. And it may mean buying something you’re not familiar with. Take a chance! Google it up and try it out-a little variety is good for the soul, and the body.

Some veggies that are great for roasting are brussel sprouts, (give ’em a shot-they’re better than you remember I’ll bet) fennel, asparagus. Root veggies like potaties, sweet potatoes, tunips and rutabaga are wonderful roasted, along with squashes. Summertime zucchini roasts awesomely well. I mention roasting because for now we’re addressing stuff can can cook in the oven all at once. When you get home, clean up your veggies.

Snacks

I’ll buy some bell peppers and slice them up to keep in the fridge when the snackies hit, and they are great in salads. Jicama is terribly ugly in it’s natural state, all brown and furry, but when you peel it and slice it it is a lovely white sweet-ish crunch. Broccoli can go on sale and be very inexpensive when you buy the whole head, same with cauliflower. Cut ’em up. They roast really well too. I was shocked how sweet broccoli got when roasted, not bitter at all.

So here’s an example. Clean and trim up your chicken breasts, and line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Give it a little mist (LOVE the Misto) and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon pepper. One layer only, please. Combine your ingredients for the eggy breakfast casserole and get that ready. Peel some root veggies and cube ’em up. For this time of year, you can go for some butternut squash too. Or halve an acorn squash and place it cut side up. Then, put your ovenat 400 and let everything cook for 30 minutes. I use a convection oven, so that does it for me, but adjust as necessary. Toss in some scrubbed whole potatoes if you’ve got room.

Multitasking to save time

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

While that’s cooking, you can use your stovetop to boil some water and cook some gluten free oats, some quinoa, or some rice. Hard boil some eggs while your at it. Blanch some green beans. You can get the majority of your breakfast foods, side dishes for grains, done now. If you want to check and see how long things will keep if you pre-pare them (for lack of a better word) check out Still Tasty. Great resource, beats the smell test by a mile. At the end of this hour or so, you’ll have enough food for at least a couple days. The “bones” of your meal are there, just fill in with fresh/frozen veggies or salads, or fruit.

Cook up some more bulk protein foods such as a big turkey breast or pork loin in the Crock Pot while you’re at work on
Tuesday/Wednesday. Good for another couple days.Buy in bulk and divide into single servings almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.

Now that you have everything cooked, you can divide up for storage

Generally I’ll keep all the chicken in one container, rice in another, etc. Then, the night before I divide up enough meals for my next day. Because I eat every few hours, I take several food containers to work. I’ll put my protein, carb, veggie portion into a container so in the morning I grab my stack and go. During the day, I pull out my dish and I’m ready to eat.

You can do this! It’s easy when you plan. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

I’d love to hear your suggestions-please post up in the comments!

The IPhone Food Scanner App

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I heard about this new Iphone App (and I don’t even have an Iphone-I am technically challenged) and my first thought was-wow, this is pretty cool.

According to the Daily Burn site:

The FoodScanner allows you to use your iPhone’s camera to scan UPC barcodes on the foods you eat. FoodScanner is the absolute quickest and easiest way to find foods and track how many calories you eat throughout the day. Backed by DailyBurn’s growing nutrition database of 200K foods and powered by Occipital RedLaser technology, FoodScanner is THE KILLER APP for tracking your caloric intake.

You can then track your intake on the Daily Burn site-I’m assuming it can upload from your Iphone. Pretty cool, right?

Well…I started thinking…

Honestly, do we really want the food we eat to have a UPC code? Last time I checked, an apple didn’t have a barcode.

Steak? Nope. Rice? Maybe, depends on how you purchase it. Potato? Not likely. I think you see my point, yes?

A very small percentage of the food I eat on a regular basis actually has a UPC code. There are a few, like my cottage cheese, and maybe some string cheese or yogurt. Maybe some frozen fruits and veggies. But by and large, nope. And if you focus your diet on mostly whole and natural foods, that will be the case.

I have been using Fitday PC to track my caloric intake for years now. It’s very user friendly it’s easy to re-enter things you eat on a regular basis using their history feature. For now, I will continue to use that.

Now if they start putting UPC codes on things like chicken and meats, fresh fruits and veggies, etc-then, maybe then, I will have to break down and buy an Iphone.

Common nutrient absorption issues with celiac and what to do about it

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As we all are far too familiar with, celiac disease can present some challenges with absorbing nutrients from our foods.

Villi

Prior to being diagnosed, the inflammation and damage in the small intestine can cause food to “run right through us” so to speak, and even when that doesn’t happen those little villi aren’t up to par. (Which makes me think-those of use with intestinal issues are certainly a but more familiar with anatomy than the average person, aren’t we?

Villi to anyone else may sound like a shape of pasta-but I digress.) And just in case you are not familiar with the word “villi”, it’s not a pasta or a grape varietal, they are the little finger-like projections that stick out from the walls of the small intestine, sucking up the good stuff-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc.

When the lovely little villi get mad at us if we eat what they consider to be the wrong thing, they don’t work so well.

They get riled up and inflamed, and then they don’t do a good job absorbing the good stuff anymore. Over time they can also get smaller (“villous atrophy”, anyone-prior to that are “flattened villi”) and then there’s even less surface area to absorb the good stuff. This continues on as long as the irritant is ingested-in this case, gluten.

The good news

The good news is that the gut can heal to a large extent as long as gluten is not ingested-the irritant is removed and healing can begin. Some of us as are very fortunate and are diagnosed quickly, before too much permanent damage has been done. Others who have suffered through a lengthy diagnosing/mis diagnosing process have a bit more of an intestinal structural challenge when it comes to absorbing properly.

This impaired ability to absorb nutrients can create several issues, of which I’m going to touch on just a few, and lump some together as well. A good idea is to get tested for baseline levels of these items by your doctor (the ones that can be tested for,) generally a simple blood test will do the trick and give you a starting point.

1) Overall lack of nutrient absorption can cause weight loss while undiagnosed.

This is not a good thing. Conversely, after being diagnosed people may find they gain weight. Up to a normal weight this is a good thing, and necessary if an individual has been malnourished due to lack of nutrients. Weight gain after diagnosis is not uncommon, and something I will be touching on in greater depth in another article.

2) Essential fatty acids-Omega 3 and 6’s.

They are all over the media lately, so you’ve probably heard of them. In general, we get enough Omega 6’s from everyday stuff. However, unless you eat a lot of fish, you may want to actively get more Omega 3’s in your diet. Fatty fish like wild salmon are great sources. You can also get some vegetarian sources from walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flax. I also supplement with a fish oil. A TBSP a day of Carlson Fish Oil covers me, and really isn’t bad at all, I promise. Pour into a measuring spoon and just slam it.

3) Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium.

I lumped these together because they are all important for bone health. At age 30 I was diagnosed with osteopenia, and here I am an athlete who lifts weights! Bone health is a huge issue for celiacs in general, especially the females amongst us. Calcium is obviously in dairy, but that doesn’t help the casein intolerant, does it?

Food sources of calcium: spinach, greens, (turnip, mustard, collard, kale) broccoli, molasses, squash, cabbage

Food sources of magnesium: pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, halibut, spinach (see a pattern…) beans, artichokes

Food sources of Vitamin D: cod liver oil, salmon, milk. Other dairy products are generally NOT fortified with D.

Even with all this, in regards to Vitamin D that’s more than likely not going to get you enough. And I’m sure you’ve heard about how Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” which we don’t produce enough due to our largely indoor-dwelling and sunscreen-wearing lives. I supplement with all 3-calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D in pill form.

The The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has established 2000 IU as generally safe for adults. There’s also a lot of talk about the RDA for Vitamin D being raised significantly. There are also many anecdotal reports of much larger doses being used without adverse affect.

I say, do your research and read, then make an informed personal decision. My personal decision involves 2000 IU of Vitamin D, plus the amounts in my multivitamin, Cal/Mag supplement, and limited sunshine from walking the dog.

4) Iron.

There are 2 types of iron: heme and non heme. According to the McKinley Illinois website:

HEME iron is found only in meat, fish and poultry and is absorbed much more easily than NON-HEME iron, which is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, and nuts.

The absorption of non heme foods can be enhanced by eating it with a Vitmain C source (such as citrus fruit, strawberries, red bell pepper) or by being cooked in a cast iron skillet.

Heme iron sources: liver (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), beef, chicken, pork, salmon, tuna, turkey

Non-heme sources: almonds, apricots, beans, molasses, rice, broccoli

This just begins to scratch the surface. I always take a multivitamin/mineral to cover my nutritional bases. I think a digestive enzyme supplement and pro/prebiotics could also be helpful to assist in maximizing nutrient uptake.

Did you notice any patterns in the lists of recommended foods? Green leafy veggies, lean protein sources, healthy fats in the form of nuts and fatty fish, high fiber food like beans and the veggies again….sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Go forth and absorb!!


References:
www.mayoclinic.com
www.health.gov
www.mckinley.illinois.edu