Sunday, February 23, 2014

Almost Done Right: Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free Carrot Cake (SIBO Diet Friendly)

The world appears to have a ton of GAPS, SCD, paleo and grain-free baking websites, books, recipes and Pinterest pins that go on for days.

But if you read the comments on these recipes, this is what you hear, over and over.

"Looks great! Can't wait to try it!"

BOO. You suck. Looks great? I can frost a pile of cat shit and it looks great. Those who comment before trying to bake it should be banned.

But then, it gets worse. I cannot find a recipe measured in weights. And as any person who bakes even once in a while knows, you need weights rather than measurements. Save yourself the dishes, and get it perfectly right. 5 grams of salt, thank you very much - not 1 teaspoon.

So I've been a mad baker the last month, and failing miserably. It's taking something I love and turning into something I hate. It's taking something I was very good at and suddenly teaching it in Cyrillic.

But I've made something good today, and the reason it's "almost done right" is that I didn't weigh my ingredients either! I measured, carefully, and with a bit of my mad baker estimation to round up or down on certain things - but tah-dah! A carrot cake of decent quality! It is, to be sure, VERY carrot-ey. It's not a sugary sweet cake, but it feels pretty close to a cake - a texture missing from my life the last six weeks - and has a nice honey-carrot flavor with the crunch of slivered almonds. Here is the original recipe, followed my version. I'm not crediting the recipe because I think if I made it as-is, it would have tasted like a carrot soufflé and been undercooked. My previous experience with these ingredients has me extremely confident of this pre-judgement.

Someone Else's Coconut Flour Carrot Muffins

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 2 TB vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 c coconut flour 
  • 2 c carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 c raisins or dried cranberries, optional
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or grease with coconut oil.
  • Combine the eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • Add in the salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle the coconut flour over the mixture and then whisk into the batter.
  • Mix well so that there aren’t any clumps. Fold in the shredded carrots and raisins or cranberries.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. YUM!

Emily's Coconut Flour Carrot Muffins

  • 5 eggs (room temp!!)
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1.5 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda (leave this out for GAPS, and hope for the best)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend 
  • 1/2 c coconut flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 and 1/8 c shredded carrots (measure after shredding, not before)
  • 1/2 c slivered raw almonds
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 10 x 6 pan with coconut oil.
  • Whip butter with electric hand mixer on high for 3 full minutes, until white and fluffy.
  • Whip in slightly-warmed honey for 1 minute on high.
  • Add the eggs one a time, mix on medium speed, for 30 seconds each. 
  • Mix in vanilla extract on high, for 30 seconds.
  • Sprinkle in the salt, baking soda and spice mix; stir in well by hand.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the coconut flour over the mixture and then whisk into the batter with mixer on low-medium for 30 seconds. Let batter rest a 3 full minutes. Then whisk again with mixer for 30 seconds on low-medium and if you feel like it needs the extra tablespoon of flour, whisk it in now. 
  • Fold in carrot and almonds gently. Pour into prepared pan. 
  • Bake 40 minutes or until firm to the touch in the center, and evenly brown underneath (use a glass pan). YUM!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hit It Hard

Well, the plan at the outset was to be on this diet for 3 months, and then re-test for SIBO.

But upon a detailed report of my poops - and oh, how I can talk about poop! I could write a cover story for Poop Magazine at this point. I could ID a healthy poop a mile away. The greatest part of my day is checkin' out my poop and seeing how what I'm eating is affecting me, and being able to pinpoint foods and quantities and their effects.

But I digress. Ahem.

Upon this detailed report, and when taking into consideration my extremely high levels of SIBO indicators (hydrogen, especially), my doctor has me taking the test again now! Tomorrow! She thinks I probably still have it… and so do I. I can't imagine, in fact, that I don't.

But seeing where the levels are will be really helpful, and if they are indeed positive, then we can discuss a second round of pharmaceutical antibiotics, or a round of herbal antibiotics. I'm not sure which route I'd choose actually; there is little study on the herbals but the study that is out there says they're equally effective. But my little scientific heart belongs to Western medicine, and so I lean toward the pharmaceutical.

So stay tuned! In the meantime, I get to repeat the prep diet today. It is:

  • any meat or seafood
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • eggs
  • weak tea
  • salt
  • pepper
Yup, that's what I am eating all day today, then fasting for 12 hours overnight, and then taking the crazy-ass breath test on Saturday morning. Wish me luck! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sexist and Classist

If you don't ride public transit - and preferably the bus - there are parts of yourself that remain hidden. Parts of yourself you might not even know exist. But start riding it, on the regular, and you'll discover those parts. Oh, they will come out, like it or not.

So I may have already know that I am a bit sexist and a bit classist, but this week on the bus, I realized both anew in two moments where my thoughts bubbled over before I could control them, subvert them into something kinder, spin them into something reasonable. I saw my own truth and there's nothing to do with it but share.

The first was a packed bus; not quite standing room only but almost. All seats taken and some folks standing. Standing on the MAX light rail train is one thing; standing on a bus is another. It is significantly more uncomfortable. The first 7 seats on the bus, 4 on one side and 3 on the other, are reserved for Honored Citizens - seniors and those with disabilities. The seats flip up for wheelchairs, or are intended for those with limitations.

As we get fuller, at a stop, the bus driver says, "I have an Honored Citizen here, if you are not an Honored Citizen, please give up your seat." And what happens?

The three seats on the left: a dude, healthy, fit, age 32 or 33, and his girlfriend, similarly healthy. Next to them, an older man with a cane.

The four seats on the right: a very heavyset older man with probably developmental delays and three women, between 30 and 40, healthy and fit.

What happens?

Two women on the right start to stand up; one is clearly a fake-out stand up - she is waiting to see if anyone else will go for it. The other woman really was going for it, and she stands, takes hold of a strap, and the Honored Citizen has a seat. And my mind EXPLODES.

The youngish guy? Didn't even flinch. Didn't even think to get up. Chivalry, I've decided, is dead. I glared at his girlfriend with a mix of pity and rage as I left the bus a few stops later and I think my message was received.

The second was a very young mother, she couldn't be a day over 20, climbing onto the bus in the pouring rain with a whining toddler. They got the last two seats, near me, and upon settling it, she pulled out a soda bottle and opened it, then opened his baby bottle, filled it, gave it to him, and his quieted right now. I was horrified. I don't even let myself drink soda, diet or regular anymore; I know it's a chemical and sugar poison for the delicate human body - much less a toddler's! I was also most horrified that it was a Mountain Dew. What trashy parenting, I thought. Mountain Dew! Might as well be cocaine.

Then I saw that it was a Sprite, and I immediately on the heels of my Mountain Dew judgement was the thought, "Oh, well, maybe the little guy is sick. You have to have Sprite when you're sick."

As if my experiences are universal, as if my having Sprite as a kid on the couch with a cold means anything, and as if I know a damn thing about being a mother at that young age, riding the bus in the rain.

Try it: ride the bus for a month. It's a forced mile in both someone else's shoes, and in your most ill-fitting ones. Not bad to see, once in a while.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Grapes of Goodness

Well if raw grapes didn't go well, you probably think I am crazy for giving red wine a spin - but I'm not crazy, you are, because wine went just fine! Two nights in a row!

Hallelujah for adult pleasures of the alcoholic kind. With no sugar in your diet, you need a little something indulgent. I just keep marveling at it - no sugar. No item made in a store, or by a restaurant, or in a package, because that's going to have sugar. And I'm now three days into month two! It's been very good to my wallet - and very tough on my social life. But exploring menus of some of my favorite places means that Podnah's Pit BBQ (no sauce) and Ox are on the list for this month.

In other exciting news, raw veggies went well this past week too - and after a month of cooked baby food veggies, THAT was a joy indeed. Raw grated beets, raw romaine lettuce, some tahini and olive oil - the only thing that made it better was that it was made by a friend. Having something cooked for me, and not something I cooked for me, may have been the true pleasure.

And the final week's note… I am a creature of habit, undeniably. And so, how soon I have come to a (near) nightly dessert of banana, peanut butter and honey… far from the days of cake. Do I long for the days of cake? Yes and no. I do, for I am a Captain on Team Cake (this is a lifetime appointment; my friend Bill is a Captain as well).

But at the same time, I'm feeling so remarkable off sugar and grains that I don't have the uncontrollable cravings I thought I'd have (and that I've had when restricting foods for all the other than totally gut-health reasons). And no chocolate for over a month? I swore that would not be possible. But when you take away sugar, and grains, what good is chocolate? Who craves a plain chocolate bar? Chocolate covered almonds, chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, cookies, frostings - sure. But since the overarching mental motivation and deep, almost spiritual feeling I carry, is one of rejecting sugar and grain for right now, the chocolate love takes a serious (and seriously unexpected) back burner.

And I tried making coconut flour waffles. They looked like waffles, they felt like waffles, I got to drench them in butter, and so life's been pretty dang good this week.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Grapes of Wrath

So after rolling back in health, I spent two solid days eating nothing but broth, fatty meat, olive oil, and various kim chis and sauerkrauts. It was amazing how fast it put me back on track - a nice silent belly, consistently feeling sated but not bloated.

And then I ate some grapes.

I had tried them previously, and they seemed to go fine. But this time it was either the amount of grapes or a still-slightly-al-dente portion of bok choy. But I was up three times in the night, wakened only by stomach pain, with nothing to do but wait out the waves of pain.

I figured I better see what it was, so I repeated all the things I had for dinner throughout the next day, and the timing of the grapes to another stomachache led me to point my finger at that vined culprit.

Grapes! I mean - grapes! C'mon. They'd been in the fridge for a week or so, and were starting to shrivel the tiniest bit - maybe it was this concentration of the sugars that did me in.

But if these grapes are anything like what will happen when I try to drink some wine (yes, I am eventually allowed dry wine, vodka, and gin), I will be one unhappy camper. I haven't had anything alcoholic in well over a month, but I like knowing I CAN and WILL soon. Maybe it's better to keep waiting on it, rather than finding out bad news.

In the meantime, I probably say this at least once a day: thank god I like sauerkraut and always have! I'd be one sad puppy without it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Two steps forward...

It was, it turns out, too many foods introduced too closely together. And though if I see you in person I will happily share TMI about my digestive tales, should you be interested, I think sharing in writing with the wider internet world is not a wise thing for my future run at the U.S. Senate. Suffice to say I did not feel 100% this week. I took quite a few steps back. 

I'm back on a diet of mostly meat stews, with carrots and celery in them, and a little bit of pureed fruit. There is one problem: I had started grain-free baking. And I probably need to dial that to Zero for a week or two. But among the four or five failure recipes - like the almond flour 'bread' - I've hit on two good ones so far! A banana bread that tasted like banana bread - and not like 'pretty good for almond flour banana bread' and then… ahh, for the Super Bowl party today… peanut butter cookies!

Grain free, refined sugar free. Just peanut butter, butter, almond flour, salt, honey and a pinch of baking soda. I don't know if I am allowed baking soda; I am not asking about it. Head in the sand on that one, I fully admit. But I've baked up a storm for the Super Bowl party and like any good plan it is starts tomorrow. I am going to take all the baked goods out next week to see if I can't start more steps forward again. 

And in related taking-steps-back news, I have never been a hot bath person. This is because I am a clean freak. And almost everywhere I've lived since the age of 21 has been a rental, and no matter how much I clean that tub, it still (emotionally) feels dirty and used to me. (I know. I know. Psychological field day.) 

And so it just became a habit to always shower. Even after a long day or when enduring a sickness, I'll take a nice long hot shower - not bath.

Well, this week broke me. I've taken a bath every night. I just needed to be surrounded, immersed; held.  And you know what? Baths are really nurturing! (Yes, you did know that.) This year's word of the year for me, if you recall, is Nourish. These baths have been quite nourishing to this slowly repairing body and fragile spirit. So that's something. 

Go Sports Team! Happy Super Bowl! An American holiday especially treasured by this fantasy football league winner right here.

(Photos of all the baked goods to come.)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Facebook Highlights of the week

The person who is 37 years old, and took the "What's your Mental Age?" quiz, and proudly - happily - happily posted that she is mentally 25.

The person who bitched about the travel delays he endured, that he has repeatedly had (and oh, we've heard about) on his last three vacations. His last three vacations have been in the last five months.

The person who posted the fifteenth post in a week about sheeple - and how they hate corporations, hate the high fructose corn syrup in Mother's Brand Sandwich Bread, hate NSA surveillance, and hate people who spend too much time on Facebook, and are probably ignoring their children. This person has children.

And my personal favorite, the person who posted all week long about what a demanding office-job work week it was, and then posted at 5:33 from their favorite bar, on Friday, that they were glad to see the week finally be over! Honey, if you're posting at 5:33 PM from a bar, your week in a M-F office is just not that hellish.