The Gluten Free Experiment – Day 7 Update

So just wanted to update y’all on my week sans gluten!

All in all I did pretty well sticking to the plan, avoiding gluten until day 6 when I ordered pizza from a local joint and forgot to ask for a gluten free base – whoops! Day 7 was also a fail because I went to a baby shower where the mumma-to-be insisted on me eating her expensive cake :/Β 

For the 5 days I was completely gluten free I felt pretty good! The positives to the diet were:

  • less calories consumed overall
  • less snacking
  • reduced appetite
  • zero cravings for sweets
  • felt less bloated
  • increased feeling of fullness during meals, therefore less food eaten

The negatives were:

  • occasional craving for bread (especially when walking by bakeries!)
  • gluten-free flour (didn’t work well in the recipes I used)
  • finding appropriate foods to eat while dining out

I don’t think I lost any weight over the week but I feel that if I continue on this diet, I probably will, due to the reduction in snacking and meal sizes (and therefore overall caloric intake). For me, someone who doesn’t have a recognisable intolerance to gluten, the adoption of a gluten-free lifestyle would be more about weight control.

I am still undecided as to what was the real cause of the reduction in cravings. It could either be due to going cold turkey on “naughty” foods (cakes, biscuits, chocolate), i.e. if you don’t eat it, you don’t crave it OR it may have been a direct result of gluten removal. In regards to my greater feeling of satisfation during meals, again, I am not sure if this was due directly to gluten removal or if it was simply the introduction of more protein (more satiating) to substitute for the carbohydrates.

Either way, I am happy with the result and I will continue eating gluten-free! I enjoyed being able to experiment with new foods and inadvertently I also increased my fruit and vegetable intake. It’s a win all round!

Advertisements

Banana Coffee Crepes & Gluten Free Experiment Update!

Image

I’m up to Day 4 of my gluten free experiment and I’m feeling great! Couldn’t say the same for yesterday though. Craved bread all day and caught myself spying on all the goodies at the local bakery! Oops! Probably didn’t help that I didn’t eat anything for about five hours while I was at uni so my hunger was steering me towards carbs. Got through it though and must say, I’m feeling less bloated and tired after meals, and I’m not snacking on naughty things like biscuits and chocolate. Not even craving them!

This morning I woke up and felt like I needed something more than my yoghurt and fruit so I decided to try my hand at making crepes. I’ve never made them before but I had them out at a French creperie the other night and they were DIVINE. Mine were definitely nowhere near those but they certainly did the job! I like them better than pancakes because they’re lighter and more crispy. I also thought banana and coffee would be a suitable breakfast combo! Please note, this is my first time making crepes so they’re not perfect but they do taste good! Check out the recipe below.

Banana Coffee Crepes (makes 3-4 small crepes)

Ingredients

1 cup of gluten free flour

1/2 cup of almond milk or dairy free milk

2 tbsp Nuttelex or dairy free margarine, melted

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 banana

70g five:am yoghurt in “coffee bean” (about half a small tub)

Seeds or nuts to garnish

Method

  1. Sift flour into a bowl. Add two eggs and milk and mix with a whisk.
  2. Add melted butter and salt and whisk batter until smooth.
  3. Cook in a small pan on medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Don’t cook them too long otherwise they get too crispy and will break when rolling.
  4. Slice one banana and distribute the slices between two crepes, leaving a few slices for garnish (this is for one serve – you will probably get four small crepes, so in that case you will need another banana if you want to serve two people)
  5. Roll the crepes up and serve with the coffee flavoured yoghurt, extra banana and some seeds. Enjoy!

Image

Coconut Cashew Maca Balls

Continuing on my current Maca obsession, here is my recipe for an easy dessert or snack for those with a sweet tooth! They are nutty, mousse-y balls of goodness!

ImageCoconut Cashew Maca Balls (makes 12)

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted cashews

2 tbsp maca powder

1 tbsp organic cocoa powder

1 tsp organic vanilla

1 tbsp honey or agave

1 tsp ground cinammon

1/3 cup almond milk

Shredded coconut to coat

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend cashews until they turn into a sticky flour. Add cocoa and maca and blend through.
  2. Put cashew mix into a bowl and add vanilla, honey, cinnamon and milk and mix until you get a smooth paste.
  3. This is the bit that gets messy! Take a small amount of the mixture in your hands and roll it quickly into a ball. Drop the ball onto a plate of shredded coconut and roll it around until it is fully coated. Repeat to make 12 balls in total.
  4. Pop them in the fridge or freezer to cool and then eat!

The Gluten Free Experiment

A few health conscious friends of mine recently started cutting out gluten from their diet as an experiment to see if it would improve their well-being and cure some of their nagging health issues. This got me thinking, why are more and more people restricting gluten? If you don’t have celiac disease, what would be the benefit? As a nutrition student, I saw a gap in our learning as we have been taught virtually nothing about this thing called gluten which is in every food I want to eat. Doh. This seems strange considering it is a widespread component of the food group Australians are encouraged to eat the most of – breads and cereals.

What do I really know about gluten apart from the fact that it’s found in this major food group?

  • I know bread with gluten tastes better than bread without it. Why? Because it gives the bread a light, chewy texture. I prefer it to the gluten-free stuff which often looks and tastes like a brick.
  • Many people are intolerant to it and when they do have it, it causes bloating, gas, fatigue and headaches.

So in other words, I don’t know that much about gluten. However, I can understand that a lot of the symptoms experienced by those who are gluten-intolerant are things that many people experience daily and perceive as a regular part of their existence. What if being tired or bloated after eating wasn’t normal? Personally, I’ve never considered myself intolerant to any kind of foods. I can usually eat whatever I want and not feel like complete crap afterwards, unless I’ve over-eaten Β or consumed a meal with a million calories. And then I just feel crap because I feel guilty. However, my health is definitely not perfect and if cutting out gluten can improve things like clear my skin, reduce bloating and increase energy, then I am willing to give it a go. My only question is, if it works, is it really the restriction of gluten that will bring about these results or will it be the restriction of calories coupled with the substitution of more fresh, unprocessed foods? As a personal experiment, it will be hard to tell however it won’t change the end result. If it is a positive one, who really cares how you got to it!

Good news is, apparently Pho is gluten-free so eating out won’t be a complete disaster πŸ˜‰

Arrivederci, gluten! I will be saying goodbye to you for 7 days and afterwards I will let you know if I notice any improvements in my health. In the meantime, it’s time to devise some suitable gluten-free meals! Stay tuned for some delicious recipes over the next week πŸ™‚

xx

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes with Raspberry & Chia Sauce

Image

This recipe was taken from The Healthy FoodieΒ and is such a great, nutritious breakfast idea which fills you up for hours because it’s full of protein! I couldn’t resist making this because I have been wanting to use up the bag of raspberries in my freezer and didn’t want to make a dessert out of them (even though this breakfast kind of tastes like it could be dessert!). I really like this take on pancakes as it’s full of natural protein rather than the store-bought stuff which I think ruins the flavour of anything it’s added to. The raspberry sauce is so good! If you let it get really thick, you could spread it on anything, just like jam but without all the preservatives. Thumbs up from me! Recipe below adapted from the original πŸ™‚

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes with Raspberry & Chia Sauce (serves 1)

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup natural yoghurt or cottage cheese

1/2 cup egg whites

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinammon

1/4 cup frozen raspberries

For the sauce:

3/4 cup frozen raspberries

1 tbsp agave syrup

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup water

1 tsp lemon juice

IMG_0719

Method

1. In a small pot, put in all sauce ingredients and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes it should have a thicker sauce consistency. Add more water if you like it more runny. Let the sauce cool and then puree in a blender.

2. Mix all the pancake ingredients (except for the raspberries) in a blender/food processor. Pour into a small bowl and fold in the raspberries.

3. Divide the batter into 2 or 3 portions and cook it on medium heat in a small pan. Flip when bubbles appear in the batter.

4. Serve the pancakes with the raspberry sauce and a sprinkling of nuts. Bon appetit!

When Healthy Wasn’t Trendy…

IMG_0706

It seems wrong that I’m 28 years old and have legitimate context to use the phrase “back in MY day”…but here goes.

Back in MY day, people didn’t know about nutrition. Regular people that is, not doctors and dietitians who get paid to know about it, obviously. I’m talking about normal members of society who used to shop at the local Franklins supermarket, who had 2.5 kids that they sent to school with $5 a day to buy lunch from the cafeteria. Regular people who used to eat generic white sliced bread because that’s all that was on the shelf. There wasn’t gluten free, lactose free, dairy free, 50% more fibre, salt-reduced, wholemeal, spelt, dark rye, light rye, pumpkin seed or folate-fortified. It was just regular bread for regular people. I remember going to high school and eating a chocolate custard for recess and a packet of chips and maybe a sprinkled donut for lunch. No-one cared, especially me. Back in MY day, you could eat whatever you wanted at school and there were no restrictions on what was on offer. Strangely enough, 15-20 years ago, obesity wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. But that’s another story. The point is, a couple decades ago, the idea of “healthy eating” was barely recognised by consumers OR retailers.

Then something happened – consciousness shifted. I don’t know how or why, but generally when things like this occur, it’s because of Oprah. Let’s just assume it was Oprah because, frankly, I don’t have time to delve into the past two decades to find out why society suddenly became clued in to the idea of “good health”. So, Oprah opened her mouth and suddenly the shelves were stocked with low-fat, no-fat, sugar-free, high-fibre, high-protein, gluten-free, wheat-free, salt-free and-so-on-free products. (Okay, so that’s clearly not what happened, but just go with it).

Right now, I feel like we’re going through a second wave of this health revolution as everyone freaks out about the obesity EPIDEMIC. Doesn’t the word “epidemic” just scare you? When I think of epidemic I’m conjuring images of the Black Plague and Dengue Fever…oh, Jesus! The whole world is so scared right now that everyone’s going to eat themselves dead (and it’s happening by the way). With people on such high alert, and with the media scaremongering consumers to believe absolutely EVERYTHING gives you cancer or makes you fat, society has become way more knowledgeable about nutrition. Enter the food companies.

These guys can smell a sale from a mile away. While the public is scared, their demand for health food products rises. Consequently, food companies jump on the health food bandwagon and sell as many products that are seen as “good for you” as possible. Cha-ching! Hey, there are probably people who are paid to look for the next new “superfood” in the mountains of the Himalayas or in some deserted part of India. All too often, the extent to which a food is deemed healthy can be very much related to how well it is marketed.

While this increased awareness of nutrition is definitely not a bad thing, it is worrying that food companies, in collaboration with the media, are using it against us to make millions of dollars. I’m not saying that the health products these companies produce are not of value nutritionally and of course, we have to buy our foods from somewhere. But I have a problem with the fact that sometimes we are manipulated into purchasing “trending” foods (at ridiculous prices) or dietary supplements which may have no proven health benefit at all for someone who is already eating a balanced diet. I do question how many food companies really care about our health and providing a quality product rather than how much money they can make by riding the latest health trend.

For the consumer, it’s a matter of doing your research and buying from brands with good reputations for delivering both quality and sincerity. Because if your hard earned dollars are going to go somewhere, they should go to people that deserve it and who really care about helping others get healthy and happy πŸ™‚