Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

It is a cross between a brownie and a cookie and so delicious. Light and chewy without being crumbly and dry. This cookie is the perfect healthy indulgence. No need to “cheat” when you can have sweet treats and that don’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle.

3/4 cup oat flour (you can purchase oat flour or you can grind your own oats, which I like because then you have more texture and keep the integrity of the whole food)

2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp coconut palm sugar

3 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp water

Handful of chocolate chips.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before transerring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

No-Meat Loaf

You won’t miss the ground beef or ground turkey in this loaf. It is incredibly savory and loaded with phytonutrients and plant-based protein.

1 cup cooked brown rice

2 cups oatmeal bread crumbs *

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 small onion, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

2 carrots, finely diced

1 pound organic non-GMO firm tofu

1/4 cup tomato sauce

3 tbsp coconut aminos

2 tbsp stone ground mustard

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. * OATMEAL breadcrumbs: in a food processor, grind oatmeal with 1 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and ground black pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, grind the walnuts until fine. Set aside.
  4. Saute the onion, celery, and carrots in a skillet with a splash of vegetable broth until soft. About 5 minutes.
  5. In a food processor, puree the tofu.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, rice, vegetables, and oatmeal breadcrumbs.
  7. Mix in the sauce, coconut aminos, mustard, and pepper. Knead it by hand in the bowl until it all comes together.
  8. Transfer to a loaf pan and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or by hand.
  9. Bake for 60 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Dairy is Deadly

I was a little worried about giving up dairy. I LOVED cheese. Yogurt and cheese sticks were a staple for Matthew. What the heck was he going to eat?! And how would we ever enjoy a slice of pizza again with gluten gone and now dairy?

I knew it had to be done, though. Gluten and casein are molecularly similar. Plus, dairy comes from animals. Animals that are given an abundance of hormones, and even those that claim to have “no-added hormones” still have their own naturally occurring hormones.

That influx of hormones introduced to the gut is warfare to the digestive system. On top of that, there is an introduction of bad bacteria resulting in the release of toxic proteins into our body. Fermentation of these proteins, like casein and whey, result in the release of toxic compounds which promote the production of tumors, increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, lead to liver disease, and, when the proteins of animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy are metabolized, they get absorbed into the body and release a metabolite that has been linked to cardiovascular disease.

When the fat from animal foods are absorbed, mostly in the small intestine, they inhibit the growth of good bacteria, allowing the bad bacteria to take over. Even pasteurized milk contains microorganisms. Pasteurization does not completely eliminate food-borne pathogens, which of course erodes the lining in our gut, creating permeability.

As if that wasn’t enough, the antibiotics given to cows makes its way into the milk, too, and then, in turn, into us. A diet high in dairy is a diet high in antibiotics. Even if you haven’t been prescribed an antibiotic, when you consume dairy products then you are continually on a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics seek and destroy all bacteria, not just the bad bacteria.

Dairy and Bone Health

We have been told that to get calcium and build strong bones we must consume dairy. Who wants us to believe that? The dairy industry. The truth is, the more dairy you consume, the more at risk you are for osteoporosis. Dairy is very acidic. The body works hard to bring the body back into balance by pulling calcium from the bones to deal with the acidity in the dairy. Cows don’t make calcium. They eat it, by eating plants. That calcium makes its way into their milk. We don’t need cows for calcium, we need plants. Some plant foods high in calcium include: broccoli, brussels sprouts, black beans, rice milk, figs, and white beans.

Dairy and Fat

Dairy products – ice cream, yogurt, butter, cheese, milk – contribute immensely to the fat consumption in the human diet. This significantly raises cholesterol and increases risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is the saturated fat in the diet that causes diabetes. When our cells are full of fat, there is no room for the sugar to get into the cell. Sugar is what our body runs on. Sugar is what our body needs – and I don’t mean processed/refined white sugar, I mean sugar from plant foods – for energy. When the sugar can’t get into the cell then it stays in the blood. With all that sugar swimming around, the pancreas releases more insulin. But it won’t work, the sugar still can’t get in as long as fat is in the way. The phytochemicals in plants dissolve the gumming up of the cells, allowing the glucose into the cell. As humans, we do need fat. We need the fat present in plant foods. Unsaturated fat. As long as you are eating a wide range of plant foods, you are getting all the fat your body needs.

Dairy and Cancer

Dairy consumption is also highly linked to certain cancers, especially cancers of the reproductive system. This connection is likely due to the increase of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which is found in cow’s milk.  Consumption of milk/dairy products increases the amount of IGF-1 circulating in the body. The higher the levels of IGF-1, the higher the risk of cancer especially in the breast, ovaries, and prostate.

What’s in Your Glass of Milk

  • 135 million pus cells
  • Blood
  • Feces
  • 20 painkillers, antibiotics, and growth hormone
  • Bacteria & pathogens
  • IGF-1 – which contributes to diabetes, hormonal imbalance, immune system damage, early puberty, and cancer
  • Acidic protein which leaches calcium from bones
  • Casein, a milk protein, which is linked to breast cancer, kidney disease, arthritis, MS, crohn’s disease, IBS, and asthma

Eliminating Dairy

There are many ways to enjoy a dairy free meal, while still enjoying the foods you are used to.

Replace cow’s milk with non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

Cooking without Dairy/Cheese

You can make dairy-free. I have a delicious macaroni and cheese recipe that is just as creamy and delicious as dairy filled macaroni and cheese – it tastes better, actually. Those alternatives include making a cashew cheese sauce as used in my mac & cheese recipe. You can even make vegan parmesan cheese by grinding up cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt in a food processor. I have dairy-free pizza recipes you will enjoy, and not even miss the cheese. It is possible to eat amazing food and still take care of your health.

Baking/Cooking without Dairy

How can you bake a cake or muffin or cookies without butter? Easy! Make healthy substitutions and you’ll be enjoying the occasional treat, dairy-free! When baking, you can substitute the oils and/or butter with bananas, applesauce, or nut butters. Cookies are amazing even without butter! When sautéing vegetables, instead of using butter to keep veggies from sticking to the pan, you can use either a splash of water or a splash of vegetable broth.

 

 

Dairy-Free Life

With the elimination of dairy from your diet, you’ll enjoy better digestion and the end of stomach pain and bloating, you’ll have stronger bones, and you’ll have less acne. You will no longer be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer. If you already have those conditions, you could possibly even reverse it by going dairy-free. Knowing you will no longer be contributing to the destruction of your gut leading to such chronic, debilitating and even deadly conditions is a wonderfully empowering feeling. No need to rely solely on doctors and their prescription pads.

The Risk of Meat in your Diet

Meat is supposed to be really good for us, right? It is full of protein and iron which are definitely things a growing body needs.

The trouble is, getting those macronutrients from meat is not such a good idea.

First, let’s look at it from a gut flora perspective: Eating meat alters the trillions of microbes living in our gut. Within 2 days of eating a meat based meal, the types of microbes living in the gut shuffle around, and not for the better.

Certain types of microbes that are introduced to the gut in a meat-centered meal flourish and have been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases.

That bad bacteria introduced to the gut and hanging out in the intestines influence many aspects of our health including weight, immunity, and behavior.

The fact is, a single meal of meat triggers an inflammatory response in the body within hours of consumption. If we go from one meat-centered meal to the next, like from bacon for breakfast then a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a hamburger for dinner, then we end up in a chronic state of inflammation, with never any time for the body to reset back to normal healthy range. We become always inflamed, always damaged.

If you have a damaged and inflamed gut, you have damage and inflammation elsewhere in the body. This routine of chronic inflammation sets us up for, inflammatory diseases. Those diseases include all auto-immune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

The question is, if inflammation is an immune response to a perceived threat, then what is the the body finding threatening in a meal containing meat?

One answer: endotoxins.

Endotoxins are the toxins released from bacteria when introduced to the human gut. There is a direct link between endotoxins in the blood stream and increased intestinal permeability. The more permeable your gut is, the easier unrecognizable molecules, even from food, will enter the bloodstream and cause an immune response.

After one meal of meat (or any animal product such as eggs and dairy), the bloodstream becomes flooded with bacterial endotoxins. And no, you can’t cook them off. The endotoxins survive cooking, high heat, and even your stomach acid.

To make matters worse, fat in the animal food increases the absorption of the endotoxins into the bloodstream.

A high protein, meat centered diet, accelerates the rate at which endotoxins and carcinogens get into the cell. 

Another answer to the “what is my body finding threatening” question is:  saturated fat.

Look at it this way, the saturated fat we eat saturates our cells with fat. The more fat our cells are saturated with, the less room there is for glucose to get into the cell. Glucose is what our cells need for life sustaining energy. When you have fatty cells, the glucose can’t get in, so the glucose (sugars) stay in your blood. This is when you get diagnosed with diabetes because you have high blood sugar. But the kicker is, it isn’t because of the sugar you have been eating, it’s because of the saturated fat. With all that sugar coursing through your blood vessels, your vessels become hard and narrowed. Blood can’t pass through easily which cuts off circulation not just to your heart causing cardiovascular disease (which is the number 1 killer in America), but to your other organs, your brain, your eyes, and even your genitals.

By the time you get diagnosed with diabetes, you have already had it for 10-20 years.

Too often, the first sign of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack.

RECAP

Damaging bacteria introduced to our gut when eating meat leads to toxic blood and in turn systemic inflammation and complete weakening of the immune system. We know that bacteria death (endotoxins) are more readily absorbed into our cells because of the animal protein. And we know that the saturated fat from animal foods takes over our cells and leaves us with too much sugar in the blood which leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

EAT WITHOUT MEAT

You have all this information, so now what do you do? Change is hard, but your life depends on it. The life of your children depends on it. After I learned how damaging meat is, I couldn’t, in good conscience, feed it to my kids anymore. I was damaging their gut, and whole body, one bite at a time. That was the motivation I needed.  What is your motivation?

On a meatless diet, my kids have thrived. They have limitless energy, they sleep soundly, they get sick less-often (almost never) than their peers, they have amazing focus, and they are a healthy weight. They are getting every nutrient they need. Why? Because they eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. Plants are where all the nutrients are. Meat has no fiber, no carbohydrates, no antioxidants, and no phytonutrients. Any trace amount of nutrients someone might get from an animal food is only there because the animal ate the plant those nutrients came from.  By going directly to the source (plants), and skipping the excess protein, iron, saturated fat, and endotoxins found in meat, we eliminate the chances of life threatening, and oftentimes deadly, diseases.

Cutting meat out of your diet can be hard at first, especially if you have grown up on meat at every meal. It isn’t just what tastes good to you, it’s a part of who you are. It is how you relate to your family, memories of sitting around the dinner table eating your favorite meat-centered meal and talking about your day. How do you make changes when, maybe, no one else in your family is?

Another hurdle: maintaining this new way of eating. When I gave up meat, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it because I was just sure I didn’t like nearly enough vegetables to make it work. I couldn’t possibly live on apples and bananas alone. As much as I had always wanted to like salad, I just never did. What was I going to eat?!

Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Pick a few recipes that become your go-to recipes. For me, one of those meals was tacos. Instead of using ground meat for the filling, I substituted it with brown rice or quinoa and I doubled up on the veggies I added in. To my surprise, I liked it much better than tacos made with ground meat. Most importantly, so did my kids.

Rice became my substitute for meat in many of the main dishes I made. Chickpea’s are also a great replacement. And much healthier, too. Instead of chicken noodle soup, I make chickpea noodle soup. Making soup or stew? Double up on the beans and/or rice and skip the meat. It will be just as hearty and filling (more filling!) and be life giving, not disease promoting.

It only takes 10 days to 2 weeks for taste buds to change. You can do this.  I found myself craving more fruits and vegetables, liking the taste of more vegetables that I grew up not liking, and expanded my palate by more than double. And now, I absolutely love salad. I could eat a giant salad for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Your taste buds will change.

Beans and grains are not to be feared. Grains are the most protective food against diabetes, because of the fiber.  Foods like red meat and processed meats, because of the saturated fat carry the highest increased risk.

Beans are full of the healthiest sources of protein, in just the right amounts necessary. Remember, excessive protein turns on the cancer process and accelerates its growth.

Now, what about iron and protein? Most people fear they won’t get enough protein or iron on a plant based diet, however, on a plant based diet you will get plenty of protein and iron – the right kinds of protein and iron. You will also get the wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber that you won’t get in meat.

You can read more about the benefits of cutting meat out of your diet in this article here.

Gluten: Is it really bad or just a fad?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is what gives dough it’s stretch and ability to rise (when interacting with yeast). It is also used as a filler and thickener agent in certain products such as marinades, gravies, sauces, condiments, processed meats, and canned soups. Did you know that restaurant scrambled eggs even have gluten in them?! A lot of times they add pancake batter to their pancakes to bulk them up and make them fluffy. But that is no good for your gut.

So, what is the trouble with gluten?

Being gluten-free is considered by many to be a “fad” diet, but extensive research has been done to prove the detrimental effects of gluten on every human body. According to Dr. Tom O’Bryan, a leading authority on gluten sensitivity, and who wrote the book The Autoimmune Fix, “The problem with gluten is that no human can digest it.”

Dr. Alessio Fasano has also done comprehensive research on the subject of gluten, and specifically on how gluten effects the body. He found that, “…if you take the hydrochloric acid in the human stomach and you put it in a little vial, then you put your finger in the vial, it eats your finger to the bone in one minute. One minute! You put some gluten in that vial, it (stomach acid) won’t digest the gluten. When you eat gluten, it is not digestible. It’s supposed to be broken down into very small molecules called individual amino acids or 2 or 3 together a dipeptide or tripeptide and that gets absorbed very easily into the blood stream through the intestines but you can’t break it down into dipeptides or tripeptides.”

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein, the digestive system will break down that protein into 1, 2 or at most 3 amino acid peptides that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The gluten molecules of wheat, rye, and barley are not digested into those small enough molecules. They remain in larger sizes, sometimes very large, and these macromolecules trigger an immune system response because they aren’t recognized by the body in such large form.

With repeated exposure to these large molecules from toast, pancakes, bread, pastries, cereal, condiments, sauces, pasta, croutons and the like, you hit a critical stage internally. Your body starts sending signals of distress by way of symptoms.

It is important to note here, that these symptoms are not restricted to the intestines. It won’t just be stomach pains or bloating alerting you to a problem. Eating gluten will trigger an immune response, leading to inflammation that can be in any part of the body.

Some extra-intestinal symptoms include: anxiety, brain fog, vertigo, headaches and migraines, motion sickness, chronic aches and pains, fatigue, and even nerve pain.

At this point, you might make your way to the doctor who will run tests, but will you get accurate results? My son, Matthew, didn’t. Too many doctors tell their patients that if the symptoms they are having are not severe, or if there is no advanced intestinal damage (such as total villous atrophy) then you don’t need to worry about avoiding gluten. Unless they find completely worn-down villi, you are told that you do not have Celiac Disease and therefore you do not need to avoid gluten, because gluten is not the problem.

Celiac Disease is an allergy to gluten, and those with Celiac Disease do have completely worn-down villi. However, with gluten sensitivity (sometimes called gluten intolerance), you do not have completely worn-down villi so your intolerance to gluten will be over-looked, even dismissed. But the toxic peptides of gluten act as a trigger in the auto-immune mechanism whether or not you have worn-down villi. Remember, it is the large molecules that initiate the problem. The worn-down villi is a result of the problem.

My advice: the symptoms are signals, messengers, from the body. No matter where they come from, they should not be ignored. Recognize it, and catch it early.

In an excerpt from The Autoimmune Fix by Dr Tom O’Bryan, he states:

“…gluten is a primary trigger of inflammation, which activates the genes for intestinal permeability, and the development of the autoimmune spectrum. All people have a problem digesting the toxic gluten peptides from wheat, rye, and barely, whether or not they have symptoms when they eat it. We mistakenly believe that if we don’t ‘feel’ bad when we eat something, we do not have a problem with that food. We do not associate the headache we woke up with this morning – or our high blood pressure or our brain fog or lack of ability to think in school – with the food we ate yesterday.”

For some, as in the case of my son, the messages did come from the gut. However, gluten reactive patients can notice symptoms on the skin (dermatitis, psoriatic arthritis, eczema), the brain (altered neurotransmitter production, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, ADHD), or even the nerves (carpal tunnel, idiopathic neuropathies).

Pathology to gluten exposure can occur in multiple systems without any evidence of intestinal damage. The tests will come back negative, as they did in my son’s case. Since the comprehensive testing has been done showing that no one can digest gluten, it is a safe bet that if you are eating gluten containing foods, you are introducing large molecules into your bloodstream, initiating an immune response, and slowly but surely wearing down your intestinal villi and increasing your intestinal permeability.

A lot of doctors do not recognize this connection and tend to wait for the accumulated damage of this immune system attack on our tissues, when damage is extensive enough that there is complete organ failure. That is when you’ll receive an auto-immune diagnosis. We can avoid organ failure and chronic disease by cutting gluten out of our diets altogether.

Alternatives

Going gluten-free is easier than ever, nowadays. There are plenty of gluten-free flours to choose from when making baked goods. Some of my favorites are almond flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and oat four.

There are gluten-free pasta alternatives such as pasta made from rice, corn, or quinoa.

Replacing wheat and white flour is the easy part. It is the hidden gluten to be on the lookout for. Gluten is hidden in items such as:

  • Energy bars
  • Pasta sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Pasta
  • BBQ sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Processed foods
  • Lipstick/lip gloss
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Canned soups
  • Candy and candy bars
  • Chips

Be sure, when buying a packaged product, you look for a gluten free label. It will ensure there is no cross-contamination.  Ingredients that masquerade as gluten on ingredient lists are words like: fried, coated, crispy, or crusted.

Your best bet is to leave the processed foods in their packages and eat whole-foods, like plants!

All the recipes on my website are gluten-free!

My Story

To save the health of my son, we had no choice but to give up processed sugar, meat, dairy, and gluten. With those gone, auto-immune conditions were completely reversed.

Here is our story.

2012.

It was a cool and rainy fall morning and my 6-year-old son, Matthew, was signed up to run a 1 mile fun run. He was a little nervous but still excited. He said his tummy felt weird. “Nerves,” I told him. “Don’t worry, once we start running it will be fun and you will feel fine.” Sure enough, once the gun went off he took off like a gazelle being chased by a lion and had a smile on his face the whole way. He was passing people left and right and every runner was cheering him on as he passed right by them. He was the 7th kid to cross the finish line. He was tired, sweaty, but incredibly excited. He couldn’t wait to sign up for his next race. I asked how his tummy felt, and he said it was fine, it didn’t hurt anymore.

We got home and, of course, he was hungry. He didn’t want a big breakfast before the race because he was too nervous to eat. Now, he was ravenous. As I prepared him an early lunch he munched on the half bagel he got from the end of the race, and a small carton of yogurt. Before I could call him to the table for lunch, he was laying on the couch crying because his stomach hurt so bad. “You ate your snack too fast,” I told him. “Just rest and I can warm your lunch back up when you’re ready.” The tears came fast and furious. He was in agony. I carried him to bed and snuggled up with him. He was curled up in the fetal position crying that his stomach hurt “really bad.” My gut instinct, my mom’s instinct, told me this wasn’t because he ate his snack too fast. I just had a feeling. I didn’t know what it was, maybe he was coming down with something? But I knew there was something more to it. I took him to the ER. Blood tests and scans were done. Eventually the pains started to subside, and since the tests were coming back negative, they sent us home.

Over the course of the next few weeks, he would get debilitating stomach cramps and they would come out of nowhere. They would stop him in his tracks and he would end up in the fetal position. After 30-60 minutes, the pain would go away and he would be off and running again. It seemed there was no rhyme or reason. No trigger.

He had always been an anxious child, and with it being the start of the new school year, where he was in first grade and going to school full-time now, I assumed he was just dealing with the stress of that. I took him to our chiropractor for an adjustment so she could help make sure his body was able to support this over-firing of nerves. I told her about the pains. She knew he had always been a nervous child but she also felt this issue was more than that. She said, “You know, he has always been anxious, but maybe you want to try cutting dairy from his diet for 2 weeks and see what happens.” In my head I thought, “No way, he has always eaten cheese and yogurt his whole life and has been fine. He can’t be suddenly allergic to dairy.” I didn’t take him off dairy.

Two days later, another episode. This one sent us to the ER again because he was screaming in pain in the middle of the night and writhing around on his bed. I felt helpless. The doctors in the emergency room ran all kinds of tests, again. Blood work, X-rays, CT Scan, they even gave him a laxative saying that even though he didn’t show that he was constipated they would give him something to help him go to the bathroom and then they would send us home for him to rest.

A few days later and we found ourselves back in the ER. This one was bad. More of the same tests. More negative results. They tested for celiac. It was negative. We were told the next step would be to see a gastroenterologist. We made an appointment, but couldn’t get in for a week. Meanwhile his stomach pains were so bad he missed a week of school. I knew that even though the tests were coming back negative, and they were finding “nothing wrong” with him, that this was more than just nerves. It was also recommended to us that we schedule an appointment with an allergist, which was to be the day after we saw the gastroenterologist.

Finally, that appointment had arrived and we’re sitting in the exam room of a gastroenterologist talking about what was going on with this poor child. The doctor felt and pushed and prodded around on his stomach asking if that hurt. “No,” Matthew would say. The doctor thought if something was wrong or obstructed within his stomach or intestines, then his other scans and tests would likely have shown something, and that the only other option would be an endoscopy to really get a look at what was going on, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to order that for Matthew since he was so young. He knew we had an allergy appointment the next day, so we were advised to go to that appointment and see what happens. Meanwhile I left there with a powerful antacid prescription in hand thinking, “Great, another doctor who can’t find anything wrong with my son when there is obviously something clearly wrong. You don’t just get massive stomach pains for no reason.” I did not fill the prescription. It wasn’t indigestion, I just knew it.

The next day, and off to another doctor’s appointment. I knew this one would be rough considering all the pricks Matthew would have to get at the allergist’s office. They wanted to test for a lot of possible interactions. Turns out, he had reactions to some fruit, peanuts, cats, dogs, dust, and pollen. But his allergy doctor said it wasn’t a serious allergy. More likely the positive results on the fruit were because of the pollen on the fruit versus the fruit itself. In other words, it was once these foods hit his gut that he was having a reaction. Why would healthy foods be getting into his gut, and his body springing to action as if it was a foreign invader?  Best thing she said we could do, was to take allergy medicines and that should help Matthew’s pains. Just his pain would resolve, his gut would not be healed. The medications would likely make the destruction of his gut worse, in which case he would have to be on medications forever to manage pain.

Three medications to take…three times a day. Every single day. For life.

Nope.

I wasn’t going to do that. I heard a voice in my head. My chiropractor’s voice saying, “Cut dairy and see what happens.” It was worth a shot. There had to be a reason his immune system was attacking itself. Why did he have these stomach pains and these positive results to so many different allergens? The allergists comment that it was the food causing his pains stopped me in my tracks. Even healthy food was causing distress?? How is healthy food a problem??

Everything happens for a reason. That night my husband and I happened to watch a documentary called, “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.” It is about a man on his journey to health by just juicing for 60 days. I had already owned a juicer so I was motivated to dig it out and start juicing consistently again. It got me thinking, though, about flooding our body with nutrients and the body can heal itself.
The next night we watched, “Forks Over Knives” and after that, “Food Matters.”

That was all I needed. I dove head first into nutrition research. What I was finding went against everything we are taught. We are taught that food doesn’t matter, it doesn’t cause our diseases, and that some people are just dealt a bad hand. We are taught that to treat chronic issues, we should just medicate. But that doesn’t solve the problem, the just hides it. It is a band aid. I was finding evidence proving that what we eat matters a great deal. After all, Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Our body can heal itself, provided we stop poisoning it. My son’s body was sending a very loud and clear signal that it was not well.

WHAT WE DID

We cut meat first, thanks to the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and learning that animal proteins literally turn on or off cancer cells, that heart disease can be a direct result of the damage caused by animal consumption, and that toxic compounds are produced during the digestion process of animal foods causing a huge disruption in the gut microbiome.

The next to go was gluten. I had been reading about the wheat protein, gluten, causing serious damage to the gut lining, essentially blowing holes in your gut, making it permeable, which can be the catalyst for nearly all chronic inflammatory diseases that afflict us today. My son’s issues seemed to fit that bill.

With meat and gluten gone we noticed much improvement. Matthew’s pains were few and far between. But occasionally they still happened.

Next up, dairy. It was time to say good-bye to cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream. Definitely some of Matthew’s favorites. But he was motivated. He didn’t want those pains anymore. He was a willing participant in trying anything, without argument.

Processed and refined sugar was another critical component to our dietary changes. You can read why sugar is so bad in this post here.

At this point, we were no longer eating meat, gluten, sugar or dairy. We removed the toxic burden. Our next mission was to heal and seal Matthew’s gut. All those damaging foods tore his little gut apart. It was time to repair it. I made him a lot of juices and smoothies made with fresh, whole, organic fruits and vegetables. I made him juice with ginger to help aid in the digestion of the foods he was eating. I put him on digestive enzymes to aid in digestion and help him break down the foods he was eating. Matthew’s gut had been so damaged, that I knew he was going to need some help for a while, until his gut could be repaired and function properly. He also took a strong dose of probiotics to reinoculate his gut with the good bacteria that had been thrown out of balance for so long. We had to get the good bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria again.

It didn’t take long. He noticed improvements within days. Days! He wasn’t completely healed, but the feedback he was getting from his body was nearly immediate.

Food is medicine. I only wish I had followed my gut in the beginning when I just knew my son’s pains weren’t from nerves or from eating or drinking too fast. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get to find my way to the answer. I was glad I listened to that little voice in my head that said allergy medications and antacids were not the solution.

To get to the bottom of the issue, I knew we needed to get to the root cause. Why was his gut sending signals of distress in the first place? Masking the symptoms with medications wasn’t going to solve the problem. I wanted to eliminate the problem in the first place.

The detrimental effects of gluten, dairy, and meat in the human diet are explained in these posts here(3 articles). It was imperative to Matthew’s recovery, and I know it will help you achieve the same level of wellness when you eliminate these food groups as well. It’s shocking how destructive these foods are to our body. I didn’t even think I was experiencing any symptoms myself, yet when these foods left our diet, suddenly I also had less aches and pains from my running workouts, my energy levels increased tremendously, my workout recovery times were reduced by more than half, and my sleep improved immensely. Listen to your body. Feeling crummy is not normal.

LESSONS LEARNED

These were all things, once known, I couldn’t “un-know,” and I couldn’t look the other way just because they were the foods we were used to and foods that tasted good. They taste good because there are food industry folks whose job it is to alter the taste of the food to make it taste so good, and addictive, so we go back for more. The food most Americans eat now, on a Standard American Diet (SAD diet) is not even actual food anymore. It is food-like products. Manufactured food. That food is made to mimic real food from nature, may even have been derived from a plant food, but has been so altered that it no longer has any health benefit. With all I had learned, I knew Matthew wasn’t the only one suffering from the effects of these foods, he was just the one presenting obvious symptoms.

It is important to remember that long after the flavor is gone, long after the few seconds of pleasure on the taste buds, our body has an enormous task of dealing with that food. A diet heavy in gluten, animal foods, processed foods, and sugar is a diet bound to lead to diseases that need not happen. When the gut is destroyed, our entire body system is destroyed.

Matthew was my family’s canary in the coal mine. He is everyone’s canary in a coal mine. His body was alerting us all to the dangers of the toxic load of our food. If his experience, and my sharing what he went through and how we overcame it, can help even just one person, then his suffering wasn’t in vain.

It is such a huge shift from what we grow up believing to be healthy nutritious food. There is a lot of money thrown into campaigns convincing us that gluten is only a problem for those with Celiac Disease, eggs and meat are healthy sources of protein, and that dairy builds strong bones. None of that is actually true. It is “normal” to be doped up on sugar, caffeine, animal protein dominant meals, ice cream, potato chips, and processed foods. It is considered “extreme” in our society today to eat healthy whole-food plant-based meals. Well, I think it is extreme to succumb to the mercy of an allopathic system that is training to mask symptoms rather than tell us how to get rid of the problem in the first place. It is empowering to know that our health is in our hands and we have all the power to prevent disease, and in a lot of cases even reverse disease. We can heal ourselves. Our body has the capability, we just have to get out of its way. We must stop burdening it with a heavy toxic load, and flood it with plant-based nutrition, because that is where all the nutrients are that we need for true health and wellness!

Dare to save your life. Dare to not only be alive, but to truly live. Dare to thrive. Dare to fit-out.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

Now the hard part. You cut all these foods out and what is left to eat!? That’s where I found myself in the beginning as well. I had no clue where to begin, what I was going to eat, or what I was going to feed my family, especially my always-hungry growing boys. I needed to make sure they were getting enough calories every day to support proper growth and development.

Take this step by step, and don’t overwhelm yourself. Be patient with yourself, and realize it took many years to get unwell, it will take time to heal. You will notice improvement quickly, but total healing takes time.

All of the recipes on my page are gluten-free, dairy-free, and meat-free. They include meals, snacks, desserts, and even delicious smoothies. There is a huge variety of delicious meals you can eat that are full of nutritious ingredients to support healing and health. Even macaroni and cheese and spaghetti and meatballs. Just without the meat and the cheese.

Making such drastic changes in one’s lifestyle can be daunting. Support is hugely important to your success. Not only have I had to make these changes myself, but I am trained to help others through this journey as well. I’ll be honest, it isn’t just about changing what you put on your breakfast or dinner plate. It is about having to shift your lifestyle, and figure out how to navigate your way through a society that is set up to make us sick. It’s about learning to live in a society where being sick is normal.

I love helping people make small changes and achieve big results.

Gluten-Free Biscuits

One bowl, simple ingredients, no kneading and rolling.

Biscuits this easy, anyone can make!

Buttermilk

3/4 cup dairy-free milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Dry Ingredients

1 cup gluten free flour

1 cup almond flour

2 tbsp tapioca starch

3/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and apple cider vinegar to make the “buttermilk”
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, a few tablespoons at a time. You might not use it all.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface (I like flouring my counter with coconut flour to give a sweet taste to the biscuits). Using your hands, press out the dough to the desired thickness you want your biscuits to be. This dough won’t rise so don’t roll it too flat.
  6. Using a cup or a large round cookie cutter, cut your biscuits and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Vegan Lefse

I am not Norwegian, but my husband is. When I was first introduced to this traditional flatbread I thought it was delicious. Then I learned how it was made. Lots and lots of cream and butter. Yikes! You would think by now, in all these years that I have been married, that I would have tried a healthier version. But nope. I asked around and no one could tell me any other way to make lefse other than using a lot of butter or cream or instant potato flakes.

Finally, I decided I would play around in the kitchen and see what happens if I try to make lefse myself. Without cream and butter, and with actual potatoes, not flakes.

Lefse had long been a family tradtion in Norway, with families gathering around to make this together. It was more about the togetherness than it was about the lefse. However, that has been changing, as more Norwegians are purchasing, rather than making it from scratch. Even in the Midwest, where the Norwegian community is quite strong, store-bought lefse is more popular. At a Scandinavian store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, generally $80,000 worth of lefse is sold annually.

Since I am all about family and traditions, what I love about this recipe is that super simple to make. Everyone can get back in the kitchen together and have a batch (or 2 or 3) of lefse ready in no time at all.

I use cooled mashed potatoes, so I find it easier to make the potatoes the day before, that way when you are ready to make the lefse, the potatoes are ready and waiting for you.

2 cups mashed potatoes, cooled

1/4 cup sorghum flour

1 tbsp tapioca starch

1 tbsp brown rice flour (plus more for rolling)

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

  1. In a bowl, mix together of the ingredients except the potatoes.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture into the bowl of mashed potatoes, mixing it well each time, until fully combined.
  3. Pull out about 2 tbsp sized portions of the dough and press out on a floured surface until thin (about as thin as a tortilla).
  4. Carefully, with a large metal spatula, transfer the flattened lefse onto a hot griddle and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Transfer the cooked lefse to a plate covered with a towel to keep the warm while working on the rest.

Cinnamon Cookies

Chewy, cinnamon-y, sweet – these cookies are a real treat when you are looking for a healthier cookie option.

Is it really possible to make something this good and have it also be gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar free, oil-free, and egg-free? Yep!

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup natural creamy almond butter (cashew butter is good, too!)

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to thoroughly combine. The dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Using your hands, roll about 1 tbsp of dough at a time into balls. Place balls on baking sheet about an inch apart because they will melt and spread a bit during baking.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling completely.