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Happy Holidays

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December 24, 2012 · 4:00 am

Holiday Survival Strategies

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I had a really trying Thanksgiving.

My husband, Chris, and I traveled back to Pennsylvania to celebrate it with our families. Both sets of parents live there and we haven’t been back for the turkey day festivities for over 10 years. It should’ve been wonderful… and most of it was, except that I was dealing with some major gut issues. I was suffering from my old nemesis, fructose malabsorption AND was having major problems with the rest of the FODMAPs, too.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at his parent’s house, at my sister’s house, then at my parent’s house. You know what was on my Thanksgiving plates at all 3 of those places? Slabs of turkey. No cranberry sauce, no green beans, no nut butter-thickened turkey gravy. Turkey. That is it. My body simply wouldn’t stand for anything else.

Since then I’ve been doing much, MUCH better. I’ve really incorporated the low-FODMAP diet into SCD and have seen WONDERFUL results. Really, it is amazing.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’ve navigated the holidays waters and have come out the other side without too many scrapes.

The following are my strategies to remain sane during digestive-problem-flares (to be utilized during any time of the year):

1.  Take care of yourself

First and foremost, make sure that you have plenty of your feel-good food. For those of us who suffer from malnutrition or have lost weight during the introduction phase, get enough calories. If you need a few extra portions of frozen chicken soup, make it and stick it in the freezer. If you believe that bone broth will help heal you, by all means, buy those stewing bones, drop them in a pot and let it simmer away on the stove!!

It is also critical to get enough sleep. I’ve borrowed this next part from the Paleo folks; make your bedroom dark and get to bed early! Bow out of those get togethers before your normal bedtime. Sometimes we all must draw those boundaries and guard your “recharge” time. For goodness sake, it will help you ward off colds and leave you feeling ready to face any holiday gatherings that you’ll attend. Best of all, sleep will give your body a chance to heal.

2. Pamper yourself

Over Thanksgiving, I had a few cups of tea everyday. I really enjoy a steaming mug of green tea or peppermint tea, but what you drink is your choice. It always makes me feel better.

I also love to sit by the fire with a good book. Or snuggle up with a cozy blanket around your shoulders and watch a great movie. For the men out there, watch a good football game.

For the women out there, other ideas include getting a manicure/pedicure or paint your nails yourself! A hair cut and weave always leave me feeling good and well taken care of, with little energy expended (but my wallet is a bit lighter when I leave the salon). Buy some special lotion or facial scrub, whatever will make you feel happiest.

3. Do NOT watch the Food Network or Cooking Channel

This one is self-explanatory.

4. Steer clear of bakeries and eateries with incredible (SCD-illegal) food/beer

When my health is poor, I often feel wistful about the food that I used to eat. And what I enjoyed A LOT was baked goods and fantastic restaurants. Damn those inventive bakers and chefs.

This category includes microbreweries with awesome ales (ah hem… this one is for the men) and wine/beer stores. If you must go into a store like this, steer clear of the dangerous aisles that are stocked with lots of craft beers. Stick to the aisles of dry wines (wines with low residual sugar) and buy something that you’re dying to try.

5. Focus on anything other than the kitchen and food

It really helps to keep my mind and body occupied with other thoughts and activities.

Wrap presents. Run errands for your mother. Get that last minute holiday gift (but avoid the mall’s food court).

Those ideas work during the holiday season, but what about during the festivities? These are my strategies to employ during holiday meals or parties:

1. Only help with the food preparation if you must

It is difficult to cook/bake food that you can’t eat, depending on how you feel.

2. Don’t look at the food on the table (if it is filled with stuff that you can’t eat)

Seriously, at Thanksgiving, I focused on my plate and on other people’s faces at the table. I didn’t let myself look below their faces. I kept my gaze fixed on them from the neck up and pretended that the table was just blurred out and fuzzy.

3. Focus on others by asking them questions

This useful strategy is a great mind-distracter. I used this one while at a Christmas luncheon at work. My colleagues ordered a few amazing appetizers that weren’t SCD-legal. While they began eating, the discussion lagged. I took this opportunity to lead the small talk. Not only did I learn more about my co-workers through my questions, but it also gave me a chance to tell them about things that interest me, which I usually don’t mention.

At the very least, employ one of these lines (depending on who you’re talking to):

Are you ready for Christmas?

What are you going to do for New Year’s Eve?

How was your Hanukkah?

4. After the meal, get away from the table ASAP

It is better not to linger at the table, especially when there are serving dishes with a few pieces left of delectable-looking fill-in-the-blank left on them. Do the dishes while coffee and dessert is being served. The hostess will thank you for it! If you must, go watch football with Uncle Billy and your 2 brother-in-laws. Get your nieces to show you what their favorite presents were. I’m not kidding, just get outta’ there!

I hope that you, dear Reader, are in good health and don’t need these strategies, but if you do, then good luck.

You will get through the holiday season. If I can do it, you can do it.

Happy Holidays and XO,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

 

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Turkey, Turkey Everywhere

Turkey day is right around the corner.  I’m so excited, aren’t you? Chris and I are travelling to Pittsburgh this year and we’re going to eat Thanksgiving dinner with our folks. We haven’t celebrated this pilgrim-inspired holiday in Pennsylvania in 10 years! Where has the time gone?

It seems like the blogosphere is full of recipes for turkey, this side dish, or that dessert (they all sound so good, don’t they?). What am I going to post about?

I’m going to tell you about ground turkey, something I eat at least 3 – 4 times a week.

It is difficult not to get stuck in the routine of making turkey burgers with salt and thyme. They are delicious, but I need some variety!

So here are two recipes for turkey burgers that will provide you with some variety (and you won’t feel like you’re eating Thanksgiving leftovers).

Autumn Turkey Burgers

This recipe is a favorite because the ground turkey that I buy can get awfully dry after I bake or pan fry it. The veggies keep the meat moist and the herbs add a ton of flavor. Wow, I wish I had one of these on hand, the picture is making me hungry.

Autumn Turkey Burger Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/3 of a small, yellow onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1/2 of a zucchini, grated
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 fresh sage leaf chopped fine (don’t overdo the sage, those fresh leaves are potent!)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T ghee or olive oil for cooking

Directions:

Combine thyme, sage, onion, red bell pepper, carrot and zucchini with the ground turkey in a large bowl. Break up the ground turkey and mix the ingredients together. It is okay if the herbs and vegetables aren’t totally evenly mixed, just do your best. Make your patties – with a pound of ground turkey, I usually make 3 patties. Don’t worry about smushing all of the veggies into the burger patties, you can use them later.

Heat up your skillet on medium heat. Add the ghee or olive oil when it comes up to temperature. Place patties on the pan, let them sizzle! Flip them once, usually around 4 minutes. It takes about 8 minutes cooking time, total.

If you have extra veggies that weren’t incorporated into the patties, throw them into the pan when the burgers are almost finished- that way you can cook them and enjoy them. It would be a shame to waste them, they are really yummy! This way, your meal and the extra diced veggies are done cooking all at once. All of the cooking is done!  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ground Jerky Turkey

This meal really gets my salivary glands pumping, it is really drool-worthy! And if you try this recipe, I highly suggest you make it with the avocado addition, because the chili spices and lime really make the nutmeg flavors in the burger jump!

Ground Jerky Turkey ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 green onions, sliced (use only green parts if on a low FODMAPS diet)
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno – finely diced, ribs and seeds removed (substitute green bell pepper if you are new to SCD- see NOTE below)
  • 1 clove garlic (omit if on a low FODMAPS diet- but it sure adds a lot of flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (if your nutmeg is old and tasteless, this recipe won’t pop)
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 bibb lettuce leaves (instead of a bun)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T. coconut oil for cooking

Chili-Lime Avocado ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 of a fat lime, juiced
  • 1 T. chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine green onions, jalapeno, garlic, thyme, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon with the ground turkey in a large bowl. Break up the ground turkey and mix the ingredients together. Make your patties. Bring your skillet (or SCD Griddle!) up to medium temperature and add coconut oil. Flip about 4 minutes into cooking, for a total of 8 minutes (or until pinkness in the middle is gone). While the burgers are cooking, you can get the star-side dish together.

Add all of the Chili-Lime Avocado ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir to combine.

When the burgers are finished, sandwich the Ground Jerky Turkey burger and a pile of the Chili-Lime Avocado in between two pieces of bibb lettuce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is a messy burger, but it is finger-licking good. Be sure to have napkins on hand while you get a taste of the Caribbean!

NOTE: A word of warning to those with sensitive stomaches; the jalapeno can cause some discomfort! If you have any doubts, substitute the green bell pepper in place of the jalapeno.

Yum, where are my leftovers?

Have a great Thanksgiving!!

XOXO

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

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Recipe Review: Pecan Apple Crisp

I enjoy the process of baking, but I like to eat the results of my baking efforts even more.

I’ve not made many SCD-legal baked goods because my diet was unstable for a while. Well, I’ve finally reached a point where I have a pretty good handle on what I can/can’t eat. So when I saw this recipe posted by The Paleo Nurse, I had to try it.

I made mine with some giant honeycrisp apples. And I essentially halved her recipe and still got 4 servings from it. The bowl of Apple Pecan Crisp in the picture above is dessert for two!

It was tasty! And if you have problems with dairy and wheat flour, this is a great dessert to try. Check out The Paleo Nurse recipe here.

I hope that you are all having a great weekend!

XO, Theresa ~ SCD Griddle

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Essential Fats!

Sometimes I hear about good fats.

I usually don’t pay attention.

I haven’t worried much about my fat intake because I’m active and have digestive issues, so I always figured any fat is probably okay for me. But now that I’m trying to heal myself through diet modification with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I want to make sure that I am eating enough of these good fats.

Good fats are monunsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like essential fatty acids. At the molecular level, unsaturated fats have a double bond, which makes the molecule easy to break. Molecules termed mono- have only one double bond, but those called poly- have multiple double bonds. (If you want more information about “good” fats vs “bad” fats, go here.)

Do you know how important essential fatty acids are?

When I refer to good fats, I am talking about essential fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated oil molecules known as omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). They are necessary for good health, but the body cannot synthesize these, so we must ingest foods rich in essential fatty acids.

There are other fatty acids that aren’t known as “essential” because humans possess all of the enzymes required for their synthesis. These are incredibly important, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), (these are found in fish), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA), (these last three are derived from omega-6 linoleic acid).

Essential fatty acids serve many functions such as:

  • mediate inflammation (extremely important for those of us with IBD)
  • play roles in cellular functions
  • make healthy, flexible cell membranes
  • affect mood and behavior
  • protect us from cell damage by neutralizing free radicals

Really, these fatty acids affect our whole bodies. If you want to learn about them, go here and here.

People can be deficient in their essential fatty acids. It is most obvious in the skin; dry skin (who doesn’t have dry skin?), scaly or flaky skin, cracking/peeling fingertips or heels, lackluster skin, and small bumps on back of upper arms. There are many more symptoms. In order to see a more complete list, visit this link.

Is easy to be deficient in the omega-3 fatty acids because alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is tough to get. It is such an important micronutrient that I have begun to specifically search it out. It is found in these food sources:

  • Flaxseed oil and ground Flaxseeds (the oil is legal, but the seeds are SCD-illegal)
  • English Walnuts (higher concentrations), Walnut oil, Black Walnuts (lower concentrations
  • Canola oil (SCD legal but not recommended)
  • Soybean oil and firm Tofu (both SCD-illegal)
  • Kiwi fruit seeds
  • Purslane (an herbaceous weed that grows almost everywhere in the U.S. – unsure if this is SCD legal)

ALA easily oxidizes, which is why producers partially hydrogenate oils that contain it. According to The Green Kitchen Handbook, by Annie Berthold-Bond, “manufacturers removed essential fatty acids from oils in the interest of preserving their shelf life.”

The omega-6, Linoleic acid (LA) is much easier to acquire. It is in various oils, seeds and nuts like:

  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower seeds and oil
  • Pine nuts
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil (SCD-illegal)
  • Pecans
  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Other sources include almonds, chicken fat, egg yolks, lard and butter.

The oils containing LA also have saturated fats. These are fat molecules with structures of single bonds are more difficult to break. They are stable and have longer shelf lives. This has led to their widespread distribution and thus, are much easier to incorporate into your diet.

These good fats are so important, but don’t take my word for it. Here is an excellent article that explains much of this information in greater depth and also gives intake recommendations.

See you later, I’m going to run out and pick up a bottle of flaxseed oil!

Theresa ~ SCD Griddle

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Bad Food Advice

This past weekend, I went to the library.

I had some free time. See, for the past couple of month I’d been studying like crazy in order to pass a few exams (they went well, by the way). I’m on the road to licensure in landscape architecture- well, I think I am. I don’t receive the results for a few more weeks.

Anyway, my exams are over for now and I wanted to find a book at the library, something light. I walked through the stacks,  perusing the titles, hoping one would catch my eye since I didn’t have any particular book in mind. I had to stop when I realized I was in the middle of their ‘food and diet’ section. They had a ton of books on the subject, of course. I noticed the book called Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel. I pulled it off the shelf and briefly paged through it.

On page 219, one sentence caught my eye. It said, “This one’s for all you low-carb people.”

Hmmm, I thought, Bethenny is giving advice to low-carb people. This is going to be good (she didn’t disappoint).  A side note: I am one of these said Low-Carb People because I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which doesn’t exclude all carbohydrates, but a lot of them.

She writes, “I love a few choice bites of steak, but I also know that too much red meat isn’t good for anybody.”

How does Bethenny Frankel know that too much red meat isn’t good for people?  Did she conduct a few nutritional studies?  Did she ever read research papers about it? Does she know that so-called “studies” are often skewed and full of misinformation? And how much is “too much” anyway?

This is more of her advice: “Give your body a rest: don’t eat red meat more than twice a week, and never eat more than a piece the size of a small sponge in one meal. You don’t need it, and after a while, you won’t want it, either.”

Ha! Never eat more than a piece the size of a “small sponge”- ha ha, how big is a small sponge?

She concludes this paragraph by writing, “But eating pounds and pounds of red meat every day is no way to be healthy or naturally thin.”

Right.

What if I told her that I eat about a pound of red meat everyday and have done so for over 6 months? That my gastroenterologist advised me to go on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet? And I am the healthiest that I’ve been in over 15 years.

It is advice like this that has sent the American diet in the wrong direction. Way to lie to readers who don’t know better, Bethenny. What rubbish.

 

Snarkily yours,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

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Skinny Bitch

I am a skinny bitch.

I’ve been thin my whole life. There have been times when I’ve hated this title and instances that being called a skinny bitch gave me a little jolt of confidence, too. But these days, I loathe it.

During almost any point in my childhood, while trying on clothes for my mother (to see what I’d outgrown or what items I may need), she’d invariably say, “Theresa, you are so slight.”

My mother never said this to make me feel bad and I truly didn’t mind. She was right, I was thin. I didn’t care very much about it. I was how I was. I just wanted to stop trying on clothes so I could go out and play.

In middle school I became more self-conscious about my weight. The girls would say out of meanness, “Theresa, you’re so skinny.”

I understood that I was not a good skinny. I felt bad about my body. I was a toothpick, not a curve in sight. All bones and no meat. That growth spurt was difficult to live through. I would have given anything for a little heft. I was embarrassed about how I looked, but wasn’t everyone at that age?

Well, of course when I stopped growing so quickly, I gained some weight. I survived high school and college, and managed to feel pretty good about myself.

In my twenties, being a skinny bitch became an inside joke between a few friends and I. They were a little on the heavy side and liked to sarcastically call me that… at least I think it was sarcasm. I thought it was a funny joke and I liked the title. I liked my body and how I looked, never mind that eating at restaurants always upset my stomach. I tried to keep the fact that my digestive tract wasn’t working properly a secret. I looked thin and normal, but was totally unhealthy.

I had a great body image (and practically non-functioning guts) from then until…. I started SCD. (If you don’t know what SCD is, check this out). I made a HUGE MISTAKE and remained on the intro diet for almost a month. I lost more than ten pounds. The weight melted away. I looked more angular and bony and didn’t know what to do. I lost it so fast that it scared me.

My activity level also took a hit. I’ve always been an active person, but when I began SCD, I had no energy. I quit pilates. I stopped biking to work and began driving. In fact, I barely had enough energy to go to work.

Skeletal with zero energy.

I tried to hide my weight loss. I started dressing differently for work. I wore layers and baggy clothes, but my coworkers still noticed (even my face got thinner). They started commenting about my weight and asking me how SCD was going. They were suspicious of this medical diet. They wondered if I’d developed an eating disorder (which really pissed me off).

My ‘Intro Diet Fiasco’ was seven months ago, but lately, one of my neighbors has brought it upon himself to tell me that I’m getting too skinny. Good lord. As if I needed his opinion. And I thought that I haven’t looked better in months!

Thankfully my husband, family and friends were and are supportive. This has been a huge help to me on my SCD journey.

Now I find myself in the opposite position from where I was in my twenties; these days I’m getting healthy on the inside, but am too skinny on the outside. People don’t understand this concept. They think if you look good, then you are good. Those of us on SCD know that this is not true.

Currently, I am building momentum. I’m not in such a bad place anymore. My energy level has been great for months. Occasionally I go on walks or hikes. I have more variety in my diet with each passing week. I’m slowly gaining weight as I’m getting healthier.  And about my clothes; most of my pants are still a bit too large, but I wear a belt (I refuse to buy a whole new set of business-appropriate work attire because I will gain the weight back some day. Besides, I like my current wardrobe, or at least I did when it fit…). And hey, my shoe size didn’t change. I can still wear all of the cute shoes and boots that I want!

Insults from jerks are difficult to deal with; comments from well-meaning people are often really hard to take, but I can deal with both types. You may think I’m not healthy, that I’m too skinny, but looks can be deceiving.

You have no idea what is really happening; it is called healing.

 

 

Let me know if you have had a similar experience while on SCD. I’d love to hear about it.

XO

Theresa, SCD Griddle

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