This post will be mainly about why we decided to be a “gluten-free” family, however I will touch slightly on the dairy issue as well. I recently had a blood test done to test IGg or something like that for possible food sensitivites. This is a different immunoglobulin response than a straight up allergic reaction (these reactions are delayed, and often hard to diagnose as they can manifest in many different ways- sinus issues, digestive issues, hormonal issues, etc…
As it turns out, I am slightly sensitive (with what the medical community calls an ARF- Adverse Reaction to Food) to diary, moderately sensitive to wheat/gluten/spelt, and extremely sensitive to egg. GO FIGURE! I have been non-dairy for about 13 years now, something I had to implement when I hit puberty. This is not to say that I don’t ever eat dairy, but it is an exception rather than the rule in my diet. The following is from a medical doctor’s list of the top 6 reasons one should avoid dairy “at all costs” (from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/dairy-free-dairy-6-reason_b_558876.html):
The Truth about Dairy
According to Dr. Willett, who has done many studies and reviewed the research on this topic, there are many reasons to pass up milk, including:
1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures.(i) Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!
2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought.(ii) Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent.(iii) Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.
5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.(iv)
6. Not everyone can stomach dairy.(v) About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.
Based on such findings, Dr. Willet has come to some important conclusions:
• Everybody needs calcium — but probably not as much as our government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) and calcium from diet, including greens and beans is better utilized by the body with less risk than calcium supplements.
• Calcium probably doesn’t prevent broken bones. Few people in this country are likely to reduce their fracture risk by getting more calcium.
• Men may not want to take calcium supplements. Supplements of calcium and vitamin D may be reasonable for women.
• Dairy may be unhealthy. Advocating dairy consumption may have negative effects on health.
If all that isn’t enough to swear you off milk, there are a few other scientific findings worth noting. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently asked the UDSA to look into the scientific basis of the claims made in the “milk mustache” ads. Their panel of scientists stated the truth clearly:
• Milk doesn’t benefit sports performance.
• There’s no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis — in fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss!
• Dairy is linked to prostate cancer.
• It’s full of saturated fat and is linked to heart disease.
• Dairy causes digestive problems for the 75 percent of people with lactose intolerance.
• Dairy aggravates irritable bowel syndrome.
Simply put, the FTC asked the dairy industry, “Got Proof?” — and the answer was NO!
Plus, dairy may contribute to even more health problems, like:
• Allergies (vi)
• Sinus problems
• Ear infections
• Type 1 diabetes (vii)
• Chronic constipation (viii)
• Anemia (in children)
Due to these concerns, many have begun to consider raw milk an alternative. But that isn’t really a healthy form of dairy either …
Yes, raw, whole, organic milk eliminates concerns like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and the effects of homogenization and pasteurization — but to me, these benefits don’t outweigh dairy’s potential risks.
From an evolutionary point of view, milk is a strange food for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn’t domesticate animals and weren’t able to drink milk (unless some brave hunter-gather milked a wild tiger or buffalo!).
If you don’t believe that, consider this: The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase – the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned.
Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Instead, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed.
So here is my advice for dealing with dairy.
6 Tips for Dealing with Dairy
• Take your Cow for a Walk. It will do you much more good than drinking milk.
• Don’t rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise and supplement with 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
• Get your calcium from food. These include dark green leafy vegetables, sesame tahini, sea vegetables, and sardines or salmon with the bones.
• Try giving up all dairy. That means eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements with your sinuses, post-nasal drip, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy, and weight. Then start eating dairy again and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you should try to give it up for life.
• If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. I suggest focusing on fermented products like unsweetened yogurt and kefir, occasionally.
• If you have to feed your child formula from milk, don’t worry. The milk in infant formula is hydrolyzed or broken down and easier to digest (although it can still cause allergies). Once your child is a year old, switch him or her to real food and almond milk.
Still got milk? I hope not! Remember, dairy is not crucial for good health. I encourage you to go dairy-free and see what it does for you.
I hate to just copy and paste, but I couldn’t say it better than this – I know one of my friend’s moms growing up took her children off dairy when colds and sniffles came around simply for the fact that it is a known mucous producer…if our bodies are constantly trying to purify mucous, our systems become over-stressed and all kinds of issues from minor to major can happen…SO- to quote My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “So that’s why that no work!”
I have read other studies going into more detail on the point mentioned in the quote above about dairy possibly causing bone weakness…and this is where I will bring the cross-section of the wheat and dairy together. Wheat can cause bone loss/calcium to leach out, and has many many other red flags when considering its consumption. Again, I have had both wheat and dairy this week- at my cousin’s bridal shower…but only in a couple of small cream cheese spinach philo pastries. Still, I feel much better off without eating these ingredients.
WHEAT: What everyone should know…
Please, if you can find it at the library or store, or even borrow it from someone…read the book Wheat Belly, as it filled in so many gaps for my limited knowledge of why wheat should be eliminated from our diets.
Where to even begin? Did you know that the wheat we have on our markets today is not the same wheat we had 100 years ago? Since the mid-1900s it has been spliced, altered, and made “better” by scientists who put our new wheat back on the market without any trials to test whether it was healthy for human consumption. I am saying all of this very briefly, so please do your own research, read the previously mentioned book, etc…
This modification to the wheat made it reach maturity faster, among other things. So rather than standing at full maturity around 3+ feet tall, we now have fields that are ready to harvest between 1-2 feet tall. I have seen them with my own eyes, in my own town…the scientists had hoped this would help solve world hunger (obviously, it hasn’t), so they were eager to call it good and get it on the market.
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want to eat something that wasn’t meant for human consumption…know what I’m sayin’? William Davis, MD, does a great job explaining how eliminated wheat from our diets could solve or greatly improve much of our modern society’s lack of health.
-Among other things, gluten has an addictive property- which is why we always want, and most likely do….just keep going back for more… “I can’t get enough bread (____you name it___), etc”
-The amount of gluten in our wheat today is grossly out of proportion to pure strains of ancient wheat grains, which are quite rare- but beginning to get some attention again
-A sandwich made with 2 slices of bread can increase blood sugar more than 2 whole Tablespoons of sugar (I think the 2 bread slices is about 72, and the sugar is 59 on the glycemic index…get this- a Snickers bar is only about 42 or 43, if memory serves me well)
-Cutting wheat has helped – often in extreme effectiveness – with weight loss, cholesterol, diabetes (even curing certain cases), cancer, heart disease, arthritis, mental function, and many other ailments…
-I think wheat is probably the biggest single factor in all the hype on obesity in America these days, as well as child hood obesity…the triggers that it sets off in our body include fat storage, so when you eat wheat, you’re actually telling your body to store the sugar spike you’re giving it and thus “wheat belly” emerges
Dr. Willis displays case after case in his book on so many different patients’ complaints totally subsiding after just a preliminary trial off of wheat…he goes through the science of how the body works, how it processes wheat, and why our bodies were not created for this modern atrocity (my words, not his). I read the book several months ago, and there is so much technical medical jargon that I can’t remember it. Suffice it to say – I am on the “No wheat!” wagon.
SO- How then, do I survive with two growing boys and no wheat and dairy? (Except the very occasional splurge…) The answer is: I changed. It is a life style commitment and you have to mentally do a lot of planning and be intentional with meals, snacks, and general pantry stocking. It also helps if your spouse is on board…Ben used to just let me do my no-dairy, try to stay away from wheat thing, but that didn’t work very well. I read out loud from Wheat Belly to him when it got really good…and then he read most of it himself- NOW he is totally on board, and doing very very well I might add! It’s very hard to implement this if only one parent is thinking this way.
There are many! foods that are still good for us…vegetables, fruits, nuts (especially raw nuts), oils like coconut and olive (and many many others), meat and eggs, …this is basically the paleo diet- which is mostly what our house is, except I have the extreme reaction to eggs so a lot of my baking ends up having to be vegan as well.
Although rice and potatoes do spike blood sugar similarly to wheat, they don’t have as many of the other chemical issues and side effects (gluten being only one) as wheat…especially if you’re not eating starchy stuff all the time…I use the happypuffs organic brand Puffs for my boys’ snack and some times breakfast, with baby food and/or fruit. I usually buy a vegan gluten-free bread at Kroger and use this for almond butter and jelly sandwiches (no peanuts either, y’all!). There are many other gluten and dairy free options for snacking, such as freeze-dried fruit, apple sauces togo- which have tons of different flavors!, chips, nuts (when children are old enough), avocado, raisins, fresh fruit (grapes, apples, melon, pinneapple…). We also often buy gluten free/dairy free cereal to have for snacking – it has corn, which is another issue unto itself…but we try not to eat a lot of corn regularly. Eating live rather than processed food for a snack is probably the best…I am bad about thinking of an apple as “snack” but nonetheless, I am still trying to grow into a new life style.
Target brand has a lot of their Archer Farms brand healthy snacks – including fruit leather, which has no added sugar- just fruit! Kroger also has a new home line called Simple Truth which has organic and all natural products, from tomato sauce to organic raisins. I buy the plain rice cakes at ALDI, and they also have the best chips for the best price! We cook fresh meat and vegetables SEVERAL times a week, and some times have sandwich meat or all natural/organic hot dogs for a semi-treat. I highly recommend eMeals (http://emeals.com) to help with grocery shopping list/meal planning, as well as southernsaver.com to keep up with adds and sales/coupon opportunities. Target and Kroger are both very friendly and have great sales and coupons which make this mama so happy!
It’s not easy meal planning, but I will tell you- the past couple week or so, I dropped the ball and have been winging it…it’s so much easier to think ahead and make sure you have a plan for a coherent meal, even if hubby has to stop on the way home from work for that last extra ingredient you forgot, or just don’t usually keep in the cupboards.
So- how are you going to survive without the baked goodies? The cakes, cookies, bars, and breads, that you so love!!!! I have used The Almond Flour Cookbook from Elana Amsterdam (http://www.elanaspantry.com) for quite a while, and while I do substitutions for eggs and prefer honey over agave the recipes translate fairly well. I also recently hit the jackpot on amazon.com as I was doing a little research and found a set of other cookbooks by Jennifer Katzinger that look phenomenal and will not require me to do my own substituting for dairy and eggs because these books are vegan AND gluten-free!!!! I haven’t ordered one yet, but am extremely excited about the prospect of acquiring every single one…especially since my beloved Ben LOVES bread!
To leave you all today, I will include a recipe for the bread I made a few weeks ago…it turned out quite well, and was much like corn bread…a little crumbly, but held together much better than I ever dreamed it would. NOT a gourmet vegan gluten-free bread as you will find in the Katzinger books, but good enough for me trying to make use of the ingredients I already had on hand 🙂
Gluten-Free French Bread
This delicious bread comes the closest to french bread I’ve had since going gluten, egg and yeast free. It has a crispy outside with a soft and chewy inside. Note that I use white rice flour, which is NOT the same as sweet white rice flour. I don’t recommend changing the flour, so if you can’t have white rice flour, experiment at your own risk.
1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, etc.)
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 cup garbanzo flour
3/4 sorghum flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
*flour amounts are approximations- play with these, or different, flours to get a dough that seems right to you*
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. Stir together milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for a minute, then stir in psyllium and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir in the oil and applesauce.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle, pour the wet mix in and stir. It will eventually get clumpy and you’ll need to knead it until it comes together in a dough. Alternatively, you can use a food processor to mix them together.
4. Form into the shape of a french bread, about 8 inches long. Place on baking sheet and brush liberally with extra oil.
5. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to rest at least 20 minutes before cutting.
Note: Make sure your oven is preheated so you can get the bread straight into the oven. It won’t rise much but you want to make sure the baking soda and baking powder are working in the oven.
You can view the original recipe here:
*Note- we all take multi-vitamins and extra supplements to make sure we get the right amount of everything we need 🙂
Questions? Comments? Please shout out!
I would love to hear from you who are more gluten-free/vegan baking experienced than me as well…would love to have any tips!