Gluten Free Fitness

celiac disease

True Protein Gemma and Rice Protein Powders: Review

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Ah, protein powder. The words that polarize, the food product that can be a sweet treat, or a necessary evil. I have used many different brands and flavors of protein powder over the years, with varying results. Some have been great, others have had me struggling to reach the bottom of the canister. (Yet I refuse to throw it away. The stuff can be expensive!)

Dairy issues

Personally, I am a celiac without dairy issues. So I have used whey and casein protein powders. Whey is generally considered the standard as far as peri-workout nutrition. It is quickly digested and has a high level of amino acids which assist in the recovery process. Casein is used as a slower digesting protein that can be used in conjunction with whey, or by itself, many times prior to bed (think cottage cheese.)

However, I know many of you cannot tolerate dairy, or choose to follow a vegan diet. And off I went in an attempt to find some protein powders that fit the bill.

5 types of non-dairy protein powder

There are 5 main types of non-dairy protein powder options that I am aware of. Egg/egg white, soy, hemp, rice, and gemma (pea.) In my previous post Gluten Free Dairy Free Protein Powders 101, I covered some of the characteristics of each of these.

True protein

When I last ordered from True Protein, I ordered tubs of rice protein and gemma to try. There are several companies that produce these protein powders. Jay Robb seems to be a popular maker of rice and egg protein, Sunwarrior makes a sprouted rice protein powder, Nutribiotics, Olympian Labs makes a pea protein, and Nutiva a hemp. This is just a sampling, I am sure there are more-if you are aware or have a favorite, shoot a comment below.

True Protein is a company that allows you to create custom protein mixes, and they also sell pre-made protein mixes,and various vitamins and supplements. From their website:

Our Goal… To create a following and customer base in the athletic, fitness, bodybuilding and health world not on fancy marketing schemes but purely on a reputation as the company to go to, to find the highest quality nutritional supplements known to the public.

I have ordered from True Protein for several years and have been very pleased with their products and services in the past. They do not have fancy labels or packaging, everything is very simply marked with black and white labels, and minimally packaged. In fact you can have your powders sent in a food grade bag if you already have a canister to put it in. (Although transferring the powder can be a bit of a nightmare-but that’s another story for another day.) When it came time to try these new proteins (new to me) I chose to purchase them from True Protein. They also do carry the egg white, soy, and hemp protein powder. The rice and gemma powders that I tried are non-GMO.

From the True Protein FAQ:

Q. I am allergic to Wheat Gluten. Which of your products contain Wheat or Wheat Gluten?

A. None of our protein, carbohydrate, or flavoring materials will contain any form of wheat or wheat gluten. The only product that contains wheat gluten will be our Glutamine Peptides, which is maintained in an isolated storage unit within our clean oom facility to remove any risk of cross-contamination. Wheat gluten products are manufactured within our facility.

Just to be certain, I contacted Carl at True Protein. This was his response (within 24 hours of when the email was sent):

The only item we carry that will contain even trace elements of Gluten will be the Glutamine Peptides and any custom product selected using that ingredient. We follow strict GMPs that have been designed using ISO9001 guidelines, with 0% chance for cross contamination within our facility. Thanks again and please dont hesitate to contact us with any additional questions or requests. (Erin’s note: GMP=good manufacturing practices)

OK, on to the taste review!

I bought the premium dutch chocolate fudge flavor in both the rice and gemma, as I have had this flavor in whey isolate and thus a baseline for comparison. I mixed just with cold water in a shaker bottle. Keeping in mind that everyone’s tastes a bit different-here are my thoughts:

Gemma

  • Mixes easily
  • Thicker in consistency-you may need to use a bit more water. I liked it, because making protein powder into a pudding” is a favorite way of mine to combat the sweet tooth. Especially at night time. Blending half a scoop of this with some cottage cheese, stevia and cacao powder gives me my “chocolate pudding” fix
  • Slight nutty flavor, not unpleasant at all

Rice

  • Slightly tougher to mix, takes some vigorous shaking
  • A bit chalky in texture-feels like it coats your teeth a bit
  • Thinner consistency, more like whey isolate

One comment about the appearance of both-the brown is kind of a light brownish, not terrible visually appealing. Don’t let that fool you though, the chocolate flavor is definitely there.

Overall, both of these are very pleasant and will be in my protein powder rotation.

If you would like to order from True Protein, feel free to get 5% off using coupon code ENE038. If you buy using this code, it also adds points to my account and eventually I can earn free protein. Of course you can also order without using that code.

Have you tried any of these proteins? What has been your experience, good or bad? Specific brands and/or flavors you like? Share ’em!! Leave a comment below!

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101: Sports Nutrition for Celiacs

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I’ve heard this question several (OK, many) times in the past year.

What gluten and dairy free protein supplement do you recommend?

And quite honestly, I was flummoxed.

Although I have celiac disease, I have not had to contend with dairy sensitivity. I have always used whey or casein proteins, which are milk-based. Whey protein isolate has had the lactose removed, and so many with a lactose intolerance can tolerate a straight whey isolate. However, some with a dairy sensitivity cannot tolerate even a whey isolate.

"Just Say No" if you're dairy intolerant

“Just Say No” if you’re dairy intolerant

I am the first to tell you when there is something I am unfamiliar with. In these cases, I usually run around in a fairly obsessive state of learning until I have found an answer. My friends, I am here to share my new found knowledge of the dairy and gluten free protein powder world.

There are 5 basic types of gluten and dairy free protein powders. (This is what I am aware of as being fairly common and easy to find. I believe there may be more (spirulina?), so if you know of some please share in the comments!

The five I will be addressing here are egg white protein, gemma (pea) protein, rice protein, soy protein, and hemp protein.

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein is created by seperating the yolk and converting the white to powder. It tends to be a bit high when it comes to creating sulfur with digestion. (The polite way of saying it can give you WAY smelly gas.) Upon mixing it is a thinner consistency. In my opinion best when mixed with other types of protein, for both the taste, texture, and certainly for the gas factor.

Gemma (Pea) Protein

This is fairly new to the scene, becoming more popular when whey protein prices went up a couple years back. It is, just as it sounds, derived from peas, making it a vegan-friendly option. Gemma mixes into a thick consistency and has a slightly nutty flavor. The Gemma that I have tested is also non-GMO. Gemma can be used on its own or mixed with another type of protein such as…..

Rice Protein

Also a vegan friendly option. The rice protein I tested is also non GMO and derived from brown rice. Rice protein mixes
to a thinner consistency and has a gritty texture, but a “cleaner” flavor.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is derived from defatted soybean flakes. There has been much media controversy and conflicting research about the use of soy supplements in the diet, as well as the GMO situation (GMO=genetically modified organism.) That discussion could fill several books, and is far too much for the scope of this article, but be aware that it exists. You can find research and articles to back up both sides of the story, from the “soy is evil!” camp to the “soy is the best food ever!” camp. Make an educated and independent decision, whatever your decision may be. It is a vegan friendly option.

Hemp Protein

Despite some individuals wishing otherwise, this hemp does not make you high. Sorry, folks, it would be a lot more expensive if it did. Hemp protein does have a couple of unique characteristics though. Hemp protein contains essential fatty acids and fiber! In a 30 gram serving you would get 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat along with your 15 grams of protein. The others contain a bit more protein per serving, averaging 24-25 grams, and little to no fat and fiber. I have not tasted hemp yet. (And I know some of you have, so pipe up in the comments!) Hemp is a vegan friendly option.

As always, check your labels and with the manufacturer if needed to verify gluten free status. I have used rice and gemma from True Protein, and I will be posting my review next week. Stay tuned!

Check out the Gluten Free and Fit 101 page if you’re looking for a place to start here in the gluten free and fit community.

Have you used a gluten free and dairy free protein powder? What did you use and what did you think? Let me know in the comments!


 

References

Gluten Free Food: Does it Have to be Expensive?

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Yesterday I was in the supermarket with my Mom, and I was pointing out the section they had devoted to gluten free food. She said:

It’s so expensive!

We were looking at the baking mixes, and gluten free pasta. And I agree, a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookie mix was $4.99. The glutinous regular mix was $1.99. Big difference, without a doubt. I explained to her that buying specialty items like the cookie mix was a rarity though, and for the most part I eat naturally gluten free foods, which don’t cost any more than regular groceries.

Let’s take a look at 2 sample menus. The first menu is composed of foods that are primarily naturally gluten free, and the second composed more of food that is engineered to be gluten free. These are of course approximate, as actual costs may vary dependent on location.

Sample grocery list 1
  • Bobs Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal 24 oz package = 16 servings$4.49
  • Shop Rite brand frozen unsweetened blueberries 12 oz = 2.5 servings $1.99
  • Shop Rite Walnuts Chopped 6 oz = 6 servings $2.00
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast= about 3 servings $3.99/lb
  • Sweet potato = depends but about 3 servings $1.99/lb
  • Shop Rite 16 oz frozen broccoli = 5 servings $1.99
  • Chicken of the Sea Albacore Tuna 5 oz can = 1 serving $1.59
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Minute Rice Instant Brown Rice= 14 oz = 9 servings$2.49
  • Chobani Greek Yogurt Non Fat Blueberry 1 container @ 6 oz $1.25

Grand Total: $25.27 | Total servings: 49

Sample grocery list 2
  • Van’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles 9 oz (this is 6 waffles=3 servings) $2.79
  • Pamela’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies 7.25 oz 9 cookies=9 servings (in a perfect world) $4.49
  • Ener-G foods Light Brown Rice Bread 12 slices = 6 servings = $4.99
  • Deli turkey slices approximately 4-5 servings =$5.99/lb
  • Baby Mixed Salad Greens 5 oz = 2 servings $2.99
  • Glutino Gluten Free personal pizza 1 serving $4.99

Grand Total: $26.24 | Total Servings: 25

I will be the first to admit that this is far from scientific. The serving amounts I used are based on the product packaging, or in the case of chicken breast/sweet potato=stuff without packaging, I just used common serving sizes. To get the total servings I simply added them all, so it is not necessarily representative of a specific meal plan.

Get more bang for your buck

What I hope it illustrates is that by choosing more foods that a naturally gluten free, you get more bang for your buck. And not just from a financial perspective, either. As a general rule, you will receive more nutrition for the calorie as well-so nutritional bang for your caloric buck as I am fond of saying. You also will be getting some key nutrients that we may be deficient in, as I talked about in my common nutrient absorption issues article.

My friend Kim posts her weekly menu plan over at Gluten Free is Life, and I think she does a great job of incorporating mostly naturally gluten free foods with a few other fun items thrown in. She cooks for her kids, and her menus are very kid friendly, but still very health aware. Check them out for some good ideas. Also, my article on cooking healthfully and flavorfully gluten free may give some inspiration too.

As this year progresses, I will be continuing my not really a recipe cooking article series. I’ve gotten some feedback that cooking with methods instead of complicated recipes may be a helpful and less intimidating way for people to feel more comfortable cooking-so that’s what we shall do! (And since that’s how I cook anyway-works out well all around!)

So what do you think? How do you handle the financial impact of living gluten free?

Eating more for less: Deconstruction and comparison of two eating styles

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Eats for the day-the leaning tower of Pyrex

Eats for the day: The leaning tower of Pyrex

In a previous post about preparing ahead I showed this picture of the items I take to work on a given day to sustain myself. I have gotten more than few questions about this, both here and in “real life.”

Just yesterday a coworker saw me carrying my leaning tower of Pyrex to the kitchen an remarked-“Is that for the week?” I smiled, and replied “No-this is just for today.” (A quick background-I eat every 2-3 hours, I have found this is best for my mood and energy levels. Your mileage may vary.)

Eating a lot?

A week or two ago, another coworker stated “I wish I could eat that much.” Here’s the thing-yes, I eat a lot. Yes, I am active. I move more so I can eat more, and I’d like to build a bit more muscle. HOWEVER-the food that I eat is fairly nutrient dense and calorically spare. As you’ve seen me write-more bang for the caloric buck. I like food. And if I can eat more by making smart choices-then heck yes-bring it on!

So let’s break it down.

As an overview-more bang for the caloric buck foods generally are fairly unprocessed and in the natural state. And choosing foods that are naturally gluten free generally means less processing is needed. You’ll see some examples below.

Foods that are calorically dense generally come in packaging, are more processed and usually stuff that’s grab and go. As I mentioned in my celiac as a blessing in disguise article, we can’t eat a McDonald’s burger-so why not take some extra time and effort and make sure you are getting the most bang for your calorie buck.

Familiar foods

When we are first diagnosed, and potentially for quite a while after, we may tend to go for the foods that look familiar and are labeled as Gluten Free. We know they are safe, we don’t have to think too much, and heck-who doesn’t like mac n’ cheese?

And there is nothing wrong with eating that. My goal is to show you that if you desire-you can eat more food and get more nutrition. And still have mac n’ cheese-just maybe as an occasional treat instead of a staple.

Gluten free can help with weight loss…

I was on the Celiac forums the other day and someone commented how they had lost 20 pounds since being diagnosed. She cut way back on bread consumption, (although still having some gluten free bread-but the equivalent of 1 loaf every 2 weeks) and increased her intake of lean meats and fruits and veggies. That’s what I’m talking about. I know sometimes people get annoyed when the gluten free diet is referred to as a “weight loss” diet. And it’s certainly very different when you are gluten free due to celiac, and when it’s a choice. However-any “diet” can be used for weight loss with certain parameters.

And eating naturally gluten free foods can lend itself to weight loss, within those parameters. Depends on how much you eat, of course-and for more information on that, please see my free nutrition guideline that you can get at the end of this post.

…but not always

D_ohThe thing that I see is now with the large variety of gluten free foods available from manufacturers (and I thank them-it is wonderful to have such wide options and the increased awareness it has given celiac) it is just as easy to gain weight being gluten free. Honestly-you can eat gluten free donuts, pizza, beer: sounds like Homer Simpson’s diet doesn’t it?

Not normal? Good!

You can certainly indulge from time to time, and have a piece of flourless chocolate tart, or a gluten free pizza. But you may not want to make these items daily staples.

This is not just the celiac population-but the nation in general. The statistics are staggering. I touched on this a bit in my Gratitude article. I think it can be a bit more challenging as celiacs because we want to be “normal.” Well honey, in this case-not normal is a good thing. Embrace it.

My meal and nutrition breakdown

Onto the nutrition breakdown of my work day. This is what I take to work to eat in a 8.5 hour day.

I eat my breakfast there, because I train in the morning and have had a protein shake and some fruit at the very least already.

  • Blueberries, gluten free oatmeal and flaxseed
  • Egg whites, spinach and sun dried tomato (my egg bake)
  • 3.5 oz chicken breast, green beans, 37 grams of pumpkin seeds, apple
  • Can of tuna, salad greens, artichoke hearts, grapefruit, 2 tsp macadamia nut oil and balsamic vinegar on the salad.
  • 3 oz flank steak, broccoli, 20 grams almonds

That’s 4 meals, as the first two items I eat at the same time. Here’s the breakdown (and I don’t count the green fibrous veggies-green beans, salad, broccoli-I consider them fairly low in calories and high in nutrition. It’s all portion-if you eat a pound of broccoli, you’d want to count it. And consider a gas mask 🙂 )

  • 1263 calories
  • 51 grams of fat
  • 94 grams of carbohydrate
  • 101 grams of protein
  • 19 grams of fiber, not including vegetables which will add a good bit more fiber.

It’s roughly equal amounts of energy from each macronutrient-akin to what’s referred to as the Zone approach. There is no magic about this particular approach. This is not reflective of what I eat around my training, this is just a regular day. That’s a decent amount of food, and a lot of vitamins/minerals nutrition-right? And I eat 2 more meals after I get home.

Comparison: Gluten free prepared items

For comparison, here’s a sampling of some common gluten free prepared items. These numbers are for a single serving as given by the nutrition facts. And many, many people eat more than a single serving.

  • Gluten Free Pretzels: 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, no fiber, 1 gram of protein.
  • Gluten Free Mac N Cheese 3 oz: 330 calories, 5 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, no fiber, 10 grams protein.
  • 1 individual Gluten Free Pizza, cheese topping: 460 calories, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein.

Just for these 3 items here’s your grand total:

  • 980 calories
  • 41 grams of fat
  • 136 grams of carbs
  • 21 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber.
Less fiber and protein in prepared foods

As you can see, there is very little fiber and protein in this as compared to the other options listed above.

Both protein and fiber have been shown to assist in feelings of satiety, or the sense of fullness after a meal. These would rank fairly low on that scale, so it is possible that you may still feel a bit hungry after eating.

I do not have a visual comparison – I wish I did – of the sheer volume differences between the two. I’m sure you have seen the individual pizzas – they are about 8″ in diameter. The pretzels – an individual snack pack, and the mac n cheese is 3 oz. Not a whole lot in terms of volume of food. You can always add veggies to help feel fuller.

It’s all about awareness

This is not to say you should never eat these items – of course you can, and should, especially on an occasional basis. The idea is to increase your awareness, add a bit of information, so you can make an independent, informed decision. Having said that, I make sure to eat well 95% of the time, and the other 5% I have whatever I want. For example, tonight I plan on going out with Jeff for a nice dinner, and having Dairy Queen for dessert. Tomorrow it’s back on the regular eats. Make whatever decision will work for you – it’s all about having our own individual goals. 80% may work just fine.

I hope this helped clarify a bit! As always, please let me know if you have questions or if something is confusing. And let me know what you think and what works for you in the comments below!

Now go eat something good!

Top 10 Gluten Free Healthy and Portable Snacks

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Ah, snack foods. The land of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and excessive packaging. The land of oversized bags, tempting you to stick your hand in just one more time, for one more handful.

STEP AWAY FROM THE BAG!!

Options and awareness

There are lots of better options out there. It does take a little pre-planning, but we are used to that eating gluten free. As I mentioned in “preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success,” celiac disease makes us automatically more aware of what we put in our mouths in order to not get sick.

So let’s take it a step further to make choices that can impact our health, energy, and potentially our body composition (fatness vs not fatness) in a positive manner. You could very easily just have a smaller version of what you might have for another meal. A snack of some chicken breast, green beans and a little olive or macadamia oil is very common for me. It depends on what your resources are, how portable you need your food to be, and if you have refrigeration or a cooler. A small soft sided cooler with an ice pack is a great thing to keep with you, and then you’re never caught absolutely starving and headed for the closest crap food to dive into.

Snack composition

A general rule of thumb I like to follow is to try to include a fruit or vegetable source in the snack, a protein source, and possibly a healthy fat. (Side note-Some people consider nuts and nut butters to be a protein source. Me, not so much. If you look at the nutrition facts for lets say 2 TBSP of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter. There are 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.

So yes, there is some protein, but there’s twice as much fat as protein. See what I mean? It’s fine, it’s a good healthy fat source, but I wouldn’t consider it a bunch of protein.) This way you get a snack that helps you get a larger amount of produce in your day, and gives you some lasting energy.

10 gluten free healthy and portable snacks

These are in no particular order, by the way.

  1. Apple and string cheese-my go-to snack. Very portable, easy, and tasty. I like Fuji’s, and I like the 2% string cheese. Personal preference.
  2. Celery sticks and natural peanut butter with a small container of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. Try to get the plain kind-the flavors add A LOT of sugar. You can generally find the Greek yogurt Fage or Oikos brands in many regular supermarkets. They are thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, with a higher protein content.
  3. Deli turkey slices (make sure it’s gluten free, Boar’s Head brand is very common and gluten free) wrapped around baby carrots, and/or wrapped around pickles.
  4. A small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit, and a hard boiled egg or three.
  5. Sliced bell peppers dipped in homemade bean dip (seriously-can’t be easier-open, drain and rinse a can of white or garbanzo beans, throw ’em in the Magic Bullet or a food processor with some garlic, thyme and a tiny drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt, add some cayenne if you like or whatever spices. Voila) or store bought hummus-again and as always check labels.
  6. Small pop top or packet of canned tuna, and celery or carrot sticks, small handful of nuts.
  7. Plain Greek yogurt with some berries, and sliced almonds or crushed walnuts.
  8. Cottage cheese with a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies. You can also make this like a “ranch” type dip by adding some seasonings and blending until smooth.
  9. Ostrim jerky-ONLY THE NATURAL FLAVOR IS GLUTEN FREE!! But it’s tasty, doesn’t require refrigeration, dairy free, and high in protein. Add an apple and you’re set.
  10. A protein shake and a handful of almonds with an apple. Protein powder you can keep in your car, won’t go bad, and all you have to do is have a secure bottle and some water to shake it up and you’re good to go.
  11. BONUS SNACK!
    I know, I said 10, but if the guys in Spinal Tap can take it to 11 so can I. A couple ounces of chicken breast left over from dinner the night before, some green beans and slivered almonds. Yum. I’m a big fan of cooking in bulk, and having leftovers to have either as snacks or as entire meals. Why cook 2 chicken breasts when you can cook 10? Save time, save energy, and have great healthy food ready to grab.

So no excuses as you’re running about this holiday season-the siren song of the food court will not affect you when you have these handy snacks ready to go!

What are your favorite snacks? Let me know in the comments-there’s always room for more great ideas!

Gratitude, Awareness and Prevention: Living a Healthy Gluten Free Bountiful Life

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This is going to be a bit of a one-off blog post: consider this my “op-ed” section. We all as individuals have developed our own opinions and outlooks that are shaped by our own unique experiences. I hope some of you will share your outlook in the comments.

Attitude of gratitude

I like to think I live my life, for the most part, with an “attitude of gratitude.” Just like everyone else, I certainly have my fair share of days where I forget my overall outlook and succumb to a “poor me” day, or get annoyed with things that I really shouldn’t let bother me. In general though, I try to take just a few minutes each day to mentally review all of the wonderful things in my life. (Usually in the shower. Seriously. It’s a guaranteed 10 minutes of quiet time daily.)

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

Tessa the Queen dog on her couch-throne

As some of you may have read in my previous post, I consider the fact that I have celiac disease to be a blessing in disguise. I work in health care, which is a very stable line of work even in an uncertain economy. I have a family that loves me with all my imperfections. I have a very cool dog. And I have my health. And this is where I hope to share a bit of awareness and hopefully, a bit of prevention.

Metabolic syndrome

In 2007, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a paper showing that at that point in time, 47 million Americans (25%) had metabolic syndrome, and I’m quite certain the numbers have grown since that date.

Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe a collection of health problems that linked with higher incidences of heart disease and other medical problems such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

It’s preventable

For the most part, the causes of metabolic syndrome are PREVENTABLE. Some are not, such as genetics, and aging. However, the preventable causes are a large waist circumference, which goes hand in hand with another risk factor, being overweight/obese. Lack of physical activity is another preventable risk factor.

Now before you tune me out, remember that I am not here to preach or judge. I am simply providing information for you to then go and make your independent informed choices. At the end of this article I am going to provide you with some links you can visit for additional information on metabolic syndrome.

Making changes

So what can we do to reverse or prevent metabolic syndrome? (Which will then lower our chances of developing one of these preventable diseases.) Well, it’s simple, but it’s not easy. It will take perhaps a change of perspective, and definitely a change in habit. But it is certainly achievable, and within everyone’s reach.

  1. Weight loss. As little as a 7-10% reduction of body weight will help-I’m not saying you have to be a bikini model. (Although you can certainly do that of you wish!) This will take a combination of eating less, easting smarter, and moving more. It does not mean deprivation or hours upon hours of exercise. What it does take it time, dedication, and consistency. One of my favorite quotes from Lyle McDonald is “Time+consistency+ass busting work=results.” It’s that simple. (not easy-simple.)
  2. A healthy eating plan. This will help with weight loss! And frankly, celiacs have an advantage here as far as I’m concerned. As I mentioned in the “blessing in disguise” post, we already have to be hyper-aware of what goes into our mouths. Naturally gluten free foods can be very nutrient rich and satiating given the right choices. So take it a step further, and use that as a springboard to a weight loss plan. For more specifics on this, please sign up to download the nutrition guide which you will see at the end of this post.
  3. Increase physical activity. Again-will help with weight loss. It doesn’t take hours of extremely intense activity. Start by walking more. As much as possible more. Start with down to the corner if you have to, and gradually progress. Remember, the road to health is not a sprint-this sucker is an ultra-marathon. Start with some, and increase to more, and your progress stalls-increase again. Don’t over complicate it. Walk if you can stand, stand instead of sit, you get the idea.
  4. Quit smoking. Just do it. That’s all I can really say about that. (channeling Forrest Gump.)
Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, you may be wondering why I am choosing to make this post today-to make you feel guilty about eating some goodies tomorrow?

Absolutely not. A handful of holidays a year is not going to make or break your health. It’s the other 359 days that you need to be concerned about.

So go ahead and eat mindfully and with joy. Make smart choices as I mentioned in my holiday season post. But remember this is about the long haul-not one meal. I am writing
because upon reflecting on my gratitude-I am thankful that I have this platform to assist in educating others, and hopefully making their lives better and healthier.

I am very fortunate to have learned about living healthfully and fully early in my life, and sometimes I know I may skip over stuff because it is second nature to me. So call me on it. Ask me to explain something if I’m not clear. My goal is to make information about living well easy to understand and implement. In the words of Jerry Maguire-“help me help you!”

Have a fabulous holiday!


Links for more information on metabolic syndrome

6 Tips for a Healthy Gluten Free Holiday Season

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Yes, here it is, the top five six tips for having a healthy gluten free holiday season. Enjoy!

1. If attending a party or gathering with food, ask the host if you can bring something.

Choose to bring something that is both healthful and gluten free so you are guaranteed an excellent eating option. My fail-safe is a veggie crudite platter
with a dip. Blend a gluten free powdered seasoning/dressing mix like an italian or ranch with fat free ricotta or greek yogurt and a bit of low fat sour cream, and you have a tasty and reasonably healthy dip. With a little more work you could throw a can of rinsed white beans, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and sea salt into the food processor and have a great bean dip. Roasted chickpeas are a also a big hit. You could go as simple or as complicated as you have time for, just make sure you make a good option for yourself and others.

2. Prior to attending said party/gathering, if it is a sit-down affair, alert the host to your intolerance to gluten/celiac disease and ask if there is anything you should avoid.

I never ask someone to alter their plans, but it’s fair enough to know ingredients to keep yourself safe. I had an experience last Thanksgiving that will keep me always mindful of this. Usually I host and cook for Thanksgiving. Last year, Jeff was working, so I went to the fire station with the rest of the
families for dinner. I violated my own rules by NOT bringing something I could eat-I took 2 glutinous Key Lime pies (which I was told were very good.)

The turkey came out on platters, sliced and looking delicious. I had turkey breast, sweet potato, roasted vegetables, and cranberry sauce. I started feeling sick while sitting at the table. I made it home before the glutening hit with full force. Glutened for sure, and it sucked. I could not figure out what it was-there was no gluten in anything! (Aha-grasshopper-I was wrong.) My Dad actually thought of it a few days later when I was feeling better. “Was the turkey stuffed when it was cooking?” Jeff asked the guy who cooked-and sure enough-that was it.
Stuffing in the bird, dangit. So always, always-if you are in doubt, ask. It’s just not worth it.

3. If you know you will be indulging, don’t be afraid to cut back calories that day.

I’m not saying don’t eat ANYTHING so you’re starving and eat the entire table including the candles. Just try to keep it to small portions of vegetables and lean proteins, like chicken breast, low fat dairy, lean red meats, tuna, etc. This will keep you from being starving, but will also keep your calories lower to allow more space to eat before you start going over your maintenance calorie intake.

4. Choose your weapon wisely.

There will be lots of higher calorie options available. It’s not necessary to eat all of them-at least not a lot of all of them. If you must have multiple higher calorie options, (And I’m not saying don’t do it -the holidays are once a year-enjoy the foods you don’t ordinarily eat) try to have smaller portions of them. Sit for a while before going back for seconds. Something I always do subconsciously is ask myself-“Is this worth it?” Meaning-is the calorie cost worth the taste. My friend Jay at the Gluten Free Post tweeted (twitted? whatever) the other day that he was eating greasy Five Guys fries. (I think I am his food confessional somehow) And I asked-“were they worth it?” His answer was no. So I thank him for that, and I will continue with my occasional calorie splurges on items that ARE worth it-like dark chocolate peanut M&M’s and chocolate ice cream.

5. Exercise.

Try to exercise regularly, but especially on the days you’ll be having a food-fest. If you train with weights, a great time to train your weakest bodypart is before the food influx. You can take advantage of some of the positive partitioning that weight training gives. Am I saying all the food will be magically converted to muscle? Nope. Maybe in the land of unicorns it might, and I want to go there. But, it can’t hurt, might help, so why not.

Why is it when I intend to make a list of 5 I end up with 6?

6. Just move.

Outside of organized exercise, move around more. Get the family out for a walk after the meal, clean with house with vim and vigor before company comes over, play tag, play catch, chase the dog out of the kitchen, fight the crowds for sales-the list is endless. I bet Black Friday shopping could burn a ton of calories if it’s full contact shopping! 😉 Allow no one to collapse on the couch instead of helping clean up.

It’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that you must be a weight-gaining machine for the next month.

Give yourself the gift of taking care of yourself-and doing it well.

Happy Holiday Eating!

Eating Healthfully and Flavorfully (is that a word?) Gluten Free

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There are many wonderful gluten free food and recipe blogs that you can take a look at for ideas, and I’m going to list a few for you at the end of this post. But barring a specific recipe-what if you just want to cook, not follow a recipe per se? Here are 6 tips (I wanted to do a top 5 list-but ended up with 6) to help make your meals flavorful, healthful, and keep them gluten free.

6 tips for flavorful, healthful, gluten free meals

1. Get the best ingredients possible.
Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby

If you have the ability to obtain locally grown food in season-use it! It will be fresher and hold more natural flavor than a food that has had to travel, or is being produced out of season. Generally it will be less expensive as well. If that’s not an option, frozen veggies are generally more flavorful than canned.

Keep an eye out for ingredients-believe it or not. I almost fell over the other day when “sugar” was the third ingredient on a box of frozen snap peas. Exceptions to the frozen general rule would be canned beans-which are way more convienent than dried beans, and personally I like canned artichokes.

2. Don’t be afraid to use spices.

How many of the spices in your rack have you actually used? Give them a shot! Take a look in the spice aisle at the grocery store-there are so many options out there. If you choose a spice blend, make sure to check the label for hidden gluten. I tend to use these quite a bit:

  • Lemon Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Grill Seasining
  • Lime Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Creole Seasoning
3. Citrus is your friend.

lime

Lime and lemon juices and zests can add a ton of flavor with little to no caloric impact. You can use them in a marinade, a rub, a garnish, in a sauce-however you’d like.

My favorite marinade for flank steak is fresh squeezed lime juice, grill seasoning, chopped garlic, and a bit of olive oil. Easy and very good.

I made chicken breasts the other night-the go to food in my house.

  1. Some fresh lemon zest, some chopped garlic, sea salt, and some fresh rosemary went into the Magic Bullet.
  2. Process until reasonably chopped up.
  3. Press mixture into chicken breasts, add to preheated skillet or grill pan, and cook.
  4. Add in the juice from the lemons you zested.
  5. Viola. Very flavorful, lemon herbed chicken.

Easy. (This is why I don’t post a lot of specific recipes-I cook fairly simply like this all the time.)

4. Mustards are fabulous!

There are so many different varieties of mustard out there, and mustards are naturally very low in calories and sugar, and fat free. Some of the fancy mustards may have added ingredients, so always check labels for hidden gluten or sugars.

There is a mustard called Vivi’s Carnival Mustard that I love to straight up dip veggies in. It’s a bit spicy, but it’s very good. They also provide a bunch of recipes for the mustard and different uses.

Don’t give up on the grocery though-dijon mustard is great for kicking up flavor in homemade salad dressings without adding a lot of fat, and is great mixed with tuna. (I promise-give it a try!) Straight up yellow can be useful in making a BBQ sauce of sorts, and is really good when mixed with pork rub seasoning and rubbed onto a pork tenderloin. A lot a flavor for the calorie buck.

5. Fresh herbs are always a great bet.

parsley

I wish I could grow my own herbs. I have a black thumb. My fiance is a wonderful gardener, and all of our plants owe their lives to him. I couldn’t even grow the Chia Herb Garden. No lie.

I am fortunate though, that the food market I frequent has a fairly large selection of reasonably proced fresh herbs. I get cilantro for fresh salsa, rosemary and thyme for chicken and pork, basil for tomato, and mint for mojitos.

Make sure to add your fresh herbs toward the end of cooking, or use a quicker cooking method with them. In other words-they don’t hold up too well in a crockpot, and their great fresh flavor is lost.

6. Explore the world of vinegars.

There are way more varieties of vinegar than I was aware of a few years ago. Now, I always have on hand a balsamic vinegar (I use the most), a red wine vinegar, an apple cider vinegar, and a white wine vinegar. Usually rice vinegar.

You can make an awesome salad dressing very easily with dijon mustard, balsamic or red wine vinegar, a little EVOO/Enova oil and spice you like. Shake and serve. If you have fresh herbs, add in some basil and you can’t get any fresher, you know?

Apple cider vinegar mixed with Dijonnaise, nonfat greek yogurt and celery salt makes a great lower fat coleslaw.

Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom is going to do a balsamic reduction (which gets very sweet and awesome) over her brussel sprouts. They also make great marinades, and great sauces.

Experiment-I find that no sugar added preserves with a vinegar and some Dijon mustard make a lovely sauce, especially if you have a pan that needs deglazing.

For example-I sear a pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet, which then goes into the oven to finish cooking. When it’s done, I remove the pork and let it rest, then add the no sugar added preserves (my favorites are cherry and apricot), deglaze the pan with vinegar (balsamic+cherry, apple cider+apricot), add dijon, let come to a bubble and keep stirring. A flavorful easy sauce.

Let me know how it goes!

I hope this helps! It’s my belief that is you have a few go-to techniques, you don’t always have to follow a recipe. But when you do want to follow a recipe, you can check out these lovely folks for ideas. These are only a few of the great gluten free food blogs that are out there.

Happy Eating!

Nutrient deficiencies in the gluten free diet: Research review by Peter Bronski

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As we all have heard, having celiac disease can cause some problems with absorbing key nutrients from foods. I wrote a post on it which you can find here. Adding to this problem is the fact that many engineered-to-be gluten free foods are highly processed, which can lower the nutritional value. (Nutritional bang for your caloric buck.)

Peter Bronksi (who was a featured gluten free athlete-you can read his profile here has written a great 2 part blog post which reviews a report that was published on celiac individuals and the lack of nutrients in processed gluten free foods. He brings up some very good points. All in all-I recommend you take the time to read the information and as always, make an independent informed decision. But-I have to say it-whole, naturally gluten free foods for the win!

To read Peter’s posts, click on the parts below:

You can also check out Peter’s cookbook: Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

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Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

The Purely Elizabeth baking mix line was recently launched, and offers a healthier choice for individuals with food intolerances including celiac disease. The mixes are free of sugar, dairy, wheat and gluten. Eizabeth Stein is a holistic nutrition counselor. She was very kind and had sent me the Apple Spice muffin mix which you can find the review here, the cacao muffin mix, and the pancake mix which is calling my name from the cabinet, but I have not yet tried.

I made these this morning as a kickoff to what should be a fun weekend. Chocolate on A Saturday morning-can life get any better?

Still no nutritional info on the package

As I mentioned in my previous review, it would be my preference to have the nutrition facts printed on the package instead of having to go to the site. Also, the nutrition facts given are for the mix only, not the muffin as prepared, so be aware. I believe the labeling may be addressed in the future as this is only the beginning of what I think is a company with great potential in the future.

Ingredients

The ingredients in the mix are:

Millet Flour, Corn Flour, Almond Flour, Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Flax Seed, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Chia Seed, Aluminum Free Baking Powder, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt.

So far, so good. Stuff you can recognize as actual food, and pronounce.

The instructions recommend adding agave syrup, rice milk, one egg, olive oil and vanilla.

Here I took a few liberties. I added 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips (had to be done,), used moo juice instead of rice milk (no dairy probelms here and didn’t have rice milk,) substituted 1.5 TBSP coconut oil and 1/2 cup applesauce for the olive oil (personal preference,) cut the agave syrup amount in half and added a bit of stevia (personal preference again to keep caloried slightly lower, especially since I was adding in the chocolate chips-you have to give a little to get a little, you get me? Make the calories even out.)

I also kept the baking time slightly lower to 18 minutes as I have a convection oven. The smell while they were baking was absolutely heavenly.

Verdict

These ROCK!!!

I am a chocolate freak, I admit that. When it comes to ice cream, I always will have chocolate or a variation thereof. So I am biased toward anything chocolate. These were very good-lots of chocolate flavor. The hemp, flax and chia seeds add a nice crunch to counter the sweetness. They are sweet without being overly sweet, really a nice balance. Taste I give these a 9/10.

Nutritionally, far better than any other chocolate muffin you may find. Ingredient list is great. As I prepared them, here is the nutritional breakdown per muffin (makes 12.)

  • 137 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 23 grams of carbohydrate, 4 from fiber
  • 3 grams of protein.
For breakfast or a snack

The Purely Elizabeth Cacao muffins would be great to have along with a protein source for breakfast or a snack. You could have some greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs or egg white omelette. (For more information about setting up a healthy nutrition plan, sign up for the free guideline at the end of this post or the top right hand part of the page.)

The trick is eating just one. I may freeze them individually and remove one at a time. Otherwise I could easily eat them all, like now.

For more information on Purely Elizabeth and to order click here.

All in all, highly recommended. Give them a shot! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.