Monday, March 30, 2009


This was sent to me by someone who I suggested probiotics to after hearing that she was constantly sick. Restoring good bacteria in the gut can sometimes make a big difference in overall health because 70% of the immune system is located in the gut.

I just thought I would touch base with you to let you know I've been taking the probiotics for a little over a month now and I haven't gotten sick at all - some days I felt like I might have been coming down with something but bounced back the next day. My immune system feels like it is stronger than its been in a long time and I feel really good. I just wanted to let you know that by recommending the probiotics I haven't been sick. Thanks for recommending this to me I really appreciate it.

Related posts:
Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut: Crowding Out Bad Bacteria with Probiotics

Friday, March 27, 2009

Magnesium, Sugar and Allergies/Intolerances

My son tested low on magnesium and I did some research on magnesium and allergies. It turns out that when you are low on magnesium you are more likely to have conditions such as ADD, allergies, asthma, and migraines. Interestingly, these conditions often occur together. In addition, when you are low in magnesium you can have a more pronounced reaction to food and have a histamine response such as hives and red cheeks. In research studies, rats low in magnesium had increased histamine levels. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, it takes 28 molecules of magnesium to process 1 molecule of sugar so it is easy to see how we are increasingly deficient in this important mineral.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Benign Congenital Hypotonia (Low Muscle Tone) and the Gluten Free Diet

Several neurologists examined my daughter when she was 19 months old and not walking. We got comments like "Well, she is never going to get an athletic scholarship. But you don't need to worry." "It runs in your family." People were impressed by her precocious language ability, her fine motor skills and her cute, round, cherub like face. She did OT and PT and swimming for four years, but she still had chicken legs, a round stomach, was weak and was falling in kindergarten. She was required to wear sneakers once a week for gym class, but for some reason the sneakers made her trip even more. Once she said tearfully after falling on the way to school "I don't understand, sneakers are supposed to help you to run better, why do I fall?" She was five when she was tripping on the way to school. I thought it was genetic and that it was just who she was. But when my son got terribly sick and we put him on the gluten free/casein free diet, I also put her on a gluten free diet and the first thing that disappeared was the falling on the way to school. I SPENT FOUR YEARS DRAGGING HER TO OT AND PT AND IT TOOK LESS THAN A MONTH FOR HER TO STOP TRIPPING AND FALLING. Several months later she had muscles and her sensory problems vanished.

It makes me sad that pediatricians, neurologists, OT's and PT's who looked at her and worked with her never suggested an underlying health issue might be factor. No one ever mentioned there was a biomedical approach. Low muscle tone is benign--you are not going to die from it. And people consider dietary intervention too difficult. But low muscle tone is a classic symptom of celiac, which affects 1 in 100 people and people with gluten intolerance also get better from a
gluten free diet. Although the state payed for my daughters OT and PT, wouldn't she have been happier and felt more normal if she didn't have to go to the "gym" for four hours a week? I like to think I didn't really mind taking her to the gym, but truthfully, it was exhausting. And imagine how much more effective her gym would have been if she had also addressed the underlying cause of her low tone--she might have actually gotten some muscles.

It's weird to say, but I am grateful for her that her brother got so sick or we never would have investigated a gluten free diet and gotten to the bottom of her issues. Don't get me wrong she is still a handful and she still has other health issues. She is not perfect. And there are other things we are still dealing with. But how great is it that low muscle tone and sensory integration are not something I have to deal with AT ALL? She doesn't need to be taken out of the classroom to get OT and PT and she doesn't fall on the way to school anymore. She has muscles on her legs where there used to be just bones and fat and most important--she feels like a normal kid.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weekly Food Record Sheet

This is a one page weekly food diary that you can use to keep track of what you eat. I got this form from Dr. Morton Teich, who is an environmental allergist. The great thing about this form is that there is space to enter medication/supplements and symptoms. It's a handy sheet to take to a nutritionist or a doctor who asks what you are eating. Click on the picture above to print out yourself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Red Zinger Iced Tea

We used to make this iced tea when I worked at Barefoot Contessa. It
looks and tastes like fruit punch. It is a great drink to make for
kids for a special treat.

6 Bags Red Zinger Tea
1 lemon
1/4 cup-1/2 cup honey

Boil water and steep tea bags in 2 cups boiling water. After 15
minutes, remove tea bags. Add the juice of one lemon and ice to cool
the tea. Add the honey when the tea is room temperature. Add
additional ice cubes and water to fill pitcher.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blog of the Week: The Whole Health Source

The Whole Health Source makes me want to go back to school to get an advanced degree in neurobiology or at least register for some courses to get access to all the articles on PubMed. In a post called Dietary Fiber and Mineral Availability, Stephan writes:
"Mainstream health authorities are constantly telling us to eat more fiber for health, particularly whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Yet the only clinical trial that has ever isolated the effect of eating a high-fiber diet on overall risk of death, the Diet and Reinfarction Trial, came up with this graph:

Oops! How embarrassing. At two years, the group that doubled its fiber intake had a 27% greater chance of dying and a 23% greater chance of having a heart attack. The extra fiber was coming from whole grains. I should say, out of fairness, that the result wasn't quite statistically significant (p less than 0.05) at two years. But at the very least, this doesn't support the idea that increasing fiber will extend your life. I believe this the only diet trial that has ever looked at fiber and mortality, without also changing other variables at the same time."

See The Whole Health Source for the full post which includes thoughtful follow up comments and responses.

It is interesting how people with undiagnosed celiac are often told to increase their intake of dietary fiber when they seek medical attention for their stomach problems and often this leads to their getting even sicker as they consume whole wheat bread instead of white bread. Since whole wheat bread has a lower gluten content than white bread, perhaps this is due to the fact that celiac disease is a malabsorption syndrome and the increase in fiber causes people to absorb even fewer nutrients. Also, the undigested fiber can feed bad bacteria, leading to further gut problems. Fermenting seems to allow you to absorb the nutrition of whole grains better.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe (GFCF)

I made this gluten free sourdough bread from the gluten free sourdough starter I found in Bette Hagman's book: The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. It is based on Bette Hagman's Seattle Sourdough recipe which is also found in the book. My DH made a sandwich on it. My DS ate it plain. I liked it toasted with butter. It didn't last long enough to get a picture and like most gluten free bread it wasn't really picture worthy anyway. Making gluten free bread is nothing like making regular bread because you only need one rise and there is no kneading or shaping. Which is disappointing for me, because I love twisting challah and I love the soft, smooth feel of the dough. Instead of being a dough you can shape, gluten free dough is soft like a cake mix. But, the sourdough starter makes this GF bread more fun to make than your typical GF bread. I couldn't find the dough enhancer, but it turned out pretty good without it.

My grandmother used to say "There is nothing better than a good marriage and nothing worse than a bad one." You could easily apply that saying to bread because truly "There is nothing better than a good loaf of bread and nothing worse than a bad gluten free one" Bread without gluten is a huge challenge to get right, but this recipe worked for me.

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread
adapted from Bette Hagman's Seattle Sourdough

Run or heat water to 110 degrees. I used a candy thermometer in a glass and added hot water until it was the right temperature

Stir together in bowl of your mixer:
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 tsp agave
1/4 c. warm water (110 degrees)

Let sit for 10 minutes until it doubles in size. It is fun for the
kids to watch the yeast grow!

Combine additional dry ingredients together:

3 cups flour Mix (1 cup Ener-g Rice Flour or Authentic Foods Brown
Rice Flour, 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup Potato Starch or corn starch)
2 1/4 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp dried lemon peal (or 1/2 tsp peeled lemon chopped finely)
4 1/2 Tablespoons agave

Combine additional wet ingredients together:

1 egg plus 2 whites
3/4 tsp dough enhancer (optional...I didn't have this.)
1 1/4 cups sourdough starter
4 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)

Add additional wet ingredients to the proofed yeast in the mixing bowl. Whisk together. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients a little at a time. Add:

1 tsp salt.

Check to make sure the dough is the consistency of cake batter. Add up to
1/4 cup additional warm water if necessary

Turn the mixer to high for 3 1/2 minutes.

Pour the dough into a loaf pan that is dusted with rice flour. Let rise 30-45 minutes until it rises about 50% more than it's original size.(NOT double,which is what regular dough rises) Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, covering with foil after 10 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a skewer or paring knife in the bread and making sure it comes out clean and the bread is cooked. If you have any uncooked dough on the skewer, leave it in for a few more minutes and repeat testing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Starter

I can count on one hand the food I miss that contains gluten. That is
because most of the what I miss I can make an identical gluten free
version. But bread is another story. My first cooking job was when I
was 18 baking bread for Ina Garten at her store The Barefoot Contessa
in East Hampton. I would go in at around ten pm and make about a
hundred baguettes, and several dozen round assorted loaves including
a round wheat berry and an oval dark rye bread. I would mix a huge
batch of dough in the giant mixer and then it would rise on a table
covered with a cloth. The covered dough felt alive because it was warm
and growing--and that is something I will never be able to recreate
for our gluten free family.

Although baking bread was my first cooking job, I wasn't a huge bread
person before I went gluten free. I must have intuitively known that
bread wasn't good for me, because it wasn't something I gravitated
toward. But, I did LOVE sourdough bread from San Francisco and I
remember that we would get it when someone went to the west coast. So
when I saw this recipe for a gluten free sourdough bread starter in a
the Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman, I had to try it.
The starter is rising in 2 quart mason jar in my kitchen, but it takes
1-3 days before it will be fermented enough to make bread. So tomorrow
I will try baking a loaf.

Mix the starter in a glass crock or jar and keep it out while it
ferments for 1-3 days. Then you can move it to the fridge. You need to
take it out at least 10 hours before baking. If you use it often you
can leave it out. Bette Hagman, who bakes bread more than I do, says
"If you use it often, as I do, let it stand on the kitchen counter
between bakings. Refrigerate or freeze it only when you leave on

Bette Hagman's Sourdough Starter

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast granules (1 packet)
1 cup lukewarm potato water
(left over from cooking 2 potatoes and 2 cups water)
1 tsp sugar (1 used agave)
1 1/2 cups white rice flour

In a 1 or 11/2 quart glass jar, dissolve the yeast in the potato
water. Add the sugar (or agave) and rice flour. Cover and let the jar
sit until fermented (1 to 3 days), stirring every few hours at first.
This will bubble up and ferment and then die down with a skim of
liquid on the top. Be sure to stir well before using. The consistency
should be like pancake batter.

Replenish by feeding the remaining starter with 1/2 cup (or 1 cup)
lukewarm water and 3/4 cup (or 1 1/2 cups) rice flour as needed each
time you bake.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Telling My Five Year Old She Couldn't Eat Gluten

My daughter went gluten free in April of 2007...This is the story of how I told her.

After seeing my daughter gluten free for a few weeks, then having her do a gluten challenge (which I don't recommend) and a ton of testing (which I do recommend) in which we found out she had two genes for celiac but negative blood work, it was obvious to me that my five year
old needed to NEVER eat gluten again. I sat her down in the morning before school and told her "Remember all that testing we did? We found out you have an allergy to wheat and in order to be healthy you have to stop eating the foods that contain wheat. This is going to help you to be the best YOU you can be. It's going to be hard at first, but it will get easier and I promise I will do everything I can to make it easier. I will make gluten free versions of all your favorite foods and there are a lot of foods you can eat. The good news is that you will feel better and you won't get those _________ (I listed all her particular gluten intolerance symptoms) anymore." She cried a little and I think I let her eat some gluten free cookies that morning. It was a hard moment and she was sad, but she totally adjusted. The testing I was referring to was the test I had witnessed--her being sick on gluten and healthy off. Later on I explained it in more detail about how being gluten free wasn't just wheat. Today, another mother told me her gluten eating daughter is begging her to go to the health food store and buy gluten free food because she thinks my daughter has the best food. I think she was coveting my daughter's Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips--which aren't the healthiest but certainly make a lifetime of gluten free eating a little more fun.

Vitamin D Recommendations for Infants and Children

In November 2008, the AAP published a new statement to replace their 2003 guidelines. The 2008 report recommends a daily intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day for all infants and children beginning in the first few days of life.

See the CDC's Vitamin D Supplementation Recommendation

Related posts:LinkVitamin D Drops for infants, children and adults
Vitamin D-The Sunshine Vitamin
Nutristart Multivitamin

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Managing Food Intolerance - The Pros and Cons of the ALCAT Test by John Richardson

I found this article, written by John Richardson, in the research section of the ALCAT site. I thought it was an interesting explanation of why the test is useful and why finding intolerances can be a path to wellness. We used the ALCAT 150 food panel when Dr. Pescatore ran the test. I hate recommending an expensive test to people, but it has worked so well for us that I have to tell people about it. (Click the button in the upper right corner of the article to see the whole article.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quinoa Banana Muffins (gluten free, casein free)

These Quinoa Banana Muffins are based on a recipe I found on the back of the Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes--of course I put my own spin on it. Ingredients often have recipes on the label or box that are quite tasty and I love trying them out. I put all the ingredients in the cuisinart for a minute until they were combined and then poured the mix into muffin trays. It made 10 small muffin. They taste like bran muffins and are full of protein, which makes them a great meal. These are a yummy quick breakfast with jam for more adventurous kids or adults who want a healthy gluten free muffin. You can use the flakes to make hot cereal or in cookies in place of oatmeal--but I prefer these muffins.

1/2 cup chestnut flour (or your favorite gluten free flour)
1/2 c. quinoa flakes
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients. Mix together. Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Note: fill muffins tins 1/2 full.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice

A few weeks ago I picked up some George's Aloe Vera at Food Liberation, our local health food store. Jennifer, a friend who is also interested in healing her family through diet had mentioned months ago that she was a big fan of Aloe vera, which had helped her kids, but I had never gotten around to trying it. It is funny how we have ideas of what might work and what might not and unless we have a first hand experience with something, it's hard to believe that it might help alleviate a chronic problem. Since we started the aloe my sons red cheeks have been reduced. Which might sound trivial to you, unless you have witnessed his food intolerances first hand. The other day, he even stuck his hand in a pint of vanilla Haagan Daz and his normal complexion remained. Just as aloe vera soothes a sunburn, it also seems to heal a damaged intestine and allergies. So I did some research on the healing properties of Aloe...

An article by Mike Adams called the Aloe Vera Miracle, is a detailed overview of this healing plant. Not only is aloe nutritious, it also has anti inflammatory, anti viral and anti bacterial properties. The article is a little bit of a long infomercial for a friend's dried aloe, but it has a ton of citations with information, including a link to pictures of how to remove the gel from the leaves. I don't think the dried aloe would be as healing as the fresh plant, but I put one tablespoon of the George's Aloe Vera in with 1/4 cup juice for each of my kids the last few days and it seems to be helping them. The George's Aloe is the consistency of water so they don't even notice it, which is nice. I don't have any way to determine if it is a miracle or a placebo. But in our case, it doesn't really matter. When my son was really sick, a doctor said to us, "What is important is the trajectory--is he getting better or worse." And he definitely is better on the Aloe vera--at least for today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Vegetable Plate and Veggie Sandwiches

My kids loved the fruit plate so I decided to see if they were as enthusiastic about a vegetable plate. I sliced carrots on a diagonal, cut some cucumber, steamed some broccoli, took the ends off the snow peas and arrange them on the plate. Then I placed the fruit plate in the middle of the table and watched to see what happened. I have found that if I tell my kids they need to eat something they immediately resist and say "No...I don't want to." But if I just put a colorful plate of food in front of them they often surprise me. I like to include some food I know they like or have eaten before as well as some food that they have been less than enthusiastic about. On this day, they certainly did surprise me by making veggie sandwiches. They used the cucumbers for the "bread" and the carrots inside. My son made a cucumber sandwich using carrots and snow peas as the filling. Sophie, a friend of my 7 year old, was over for dinner and played a big part in the sandwich making. She even asked her mom for a carrot the next day, she liked it so much--which surprised her mom since she had never asked for one before.