Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit was originally known as a Chinese gooseberry until it's name was changed in the 1961's when the fruit was exported from New Zealand to the United States. (1) Kiwi fruits are a good source of vitamin C and fiber as well as the minerals potassium, magnesium, copper and phosphorous. (2)

We were recently visiting a family with four kids in Connecticut. These are one of Charlie's favorite fruit. (Pears is his other favorite.) I have never been able to get my four year old to try a kiwi, although they are a favorite of mine. But Charlie is ten and when he was raving about how delicious kiwi's were, the four and five year old's got curious. We even through in "They taste like sourpatch kids!"

Not everyone liked the kiwis, but everyone tried them and we ended up eating 11 kiwi fruits in less than 24 hours. Although they aren't local and in season, they really are delicious. I like kiwis to be firm and not mushy because I prefer kiwis that are tart--like sourpatch kids :).

One thing I love about visiting friends is how much I learn from other families. Everyone has their unhealthy habits. But everyone also has their healthy habits to share.
(2) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, p.285

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond "You Are What You Eat"--You are what you ABSORB

There is an expression "You are what you eat." When you think about it on a deeper level, and realize that every cell of your body has been created from the food you eat, it becomes a lot more powerful expression.

But, I would like to add to a little more to this simple statement. More accurately, YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB. If you don't absorb the nutrients from the food you are eating, then the expression "You are what you eat" won't be true. All the healthy food in the world won't help you if you are unable to break down and absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. The same is true of vitamins--if you can't break them down and absorb them, then they might be a waste of money.

Some children are excellent at absorbing nutrients from food. Their bodies are efficient at breaking down food and extracting every last bit of nutrition from the food. These are children who might be able to eat a relatively unhealthy diet and still grow and thrive.

Other children aren't as efficient at breaking down food and despite a relatively healthy diet, they will have growth problems and vitamin deficiencies. Children who eat healthy diets but whose growth or development are not optimal might need to check vitamin status to make sure that they are properly absorbing nutrients. Mainstream doctors can do some tests to assess vitamin levels as well as test for gluten intolerance and allergies, but often an alternative or integrated doctor will do a better job assessing the overall nutritional status of a patient.

One of the main symptoms of celiac is malabsorption of vitamins and fats. This malabsorption of vitamins and fats can lead to growth, learning, behavioral and health problems. Because of our family's inability to absorb nutrients, even a nutrient dense, gluten free diet was not enough to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Two nutritionists told me that my daughter had the worst absorption they had ever seen--one said her absorption was worse than the worst case of IBD that she has seen. It is a huge relief for me, that after treatment for an underactive thyroid and the biofilm protocol, both my children's absorption of nutrients has improved.

I, myself, developed a nerve problem from vitamin deficiencies. Testing revealed I was low in copper, carnitine, B12, and arganine (an amino acid.) I was told that several of the vitamins I was low in were absorbed in the same area of the intestine indicating that absorption might be a factor. Pinpointing and addressing these deficiencies resulted in my nerve problem getting better.

My point is--everyone is different. While a nutrient dense, gluten free diet might be a necessity for some children, for others, it might not be enough and specific supplementation might be necessary. Some kids would quickly come unraveled eating a diet of mostly processed foods, but other children can thrive on whatever they eat.

Of course, everyone, in theory, would do better eating a healthier, less processed diet and I try to educate parents how many problems can be a symptom of poor nutritional status. But, I also try to remember that everyone is different and what is right for me and my family might not be necessary for others.

Mainstream and Alternative Testing for Food Allergies and Vitamin Deficiencies

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quinoa Granola Recipe

They didn't have gluten free oats at the store this week, so I decided to use quinoa flakes that were bought by accident to make this granola. To balance out the stronger flavor of the quinoa flakes, I used a little more applesauce, brown sugar and spices in this recipe than in my original granola recipe. Granola is pretty flexible and a great way to use up any seeds and nuts you might have on hand.

Quinoa Granola Recipe

Mix together in a large bowl:
  • 3.5 cups quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup gluten free oatmeal
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups almonds-chopped
  • 1 cup pecans-chopped
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Separately, in sauce pan over low heat until combined:

  • 1.5 cups applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil (macadamia nut oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Pour sauce from pan over dry ingredients and mix well in bowl until combined using a large spoon. Divide mixture onto 3 sheet trays and spread evenly over each sheet tray so mixture covers tray. Bake in 300º oven for 1 hour. Every 20 minutes use a spatula to stir granola and turn over so it doesn't burn. It might need a few more minutes depending on your oven. Also, rotate trays in the oven so that they cook evenly. When granola is golden brown remove from the oven and let it cool down.

Add to cooked granola mixture:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Put in large mason jars or containers to store until needed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gluten Free Menu at the Cloisters on Sea Island, Georgia

The River Bar, a restaurant at the Cloisters, a resort in Sea Island, Georgia just created a gluten free menu today which I look forward to sampling. The gluten free menu includes tomato soup with gluten free grilled cheese as well as a hamburger with a gluten free bun and french fries and several other items. They even have a gluten free kid's menu and a gluten free dessert menu!

The chef at Big George's restaurant also went out of their way to accommodate us on our recent stay to visit friends at their cottage on Sea Island. We called the executive chef in advance and told them what would work for our gluten free family and Big George's had rice, corn, and roasted potatoes on the buffet that were all gluten free. They had a hamburger with a gluten free bun and pasta. They even brought two types of bread to our table--a crusty rosemary bread and an moist quiche like muffin. And they made jello that my son could eat while everyone else was eating the dessert buffet.

At the camp at the Cloisters's they ordered my son an allergy free lunch from the snack bar because they serve food like pizza and barbecue. The gluten free, casein free lunch was a hamburger without the bun, potato chips and fruit. They have ice cream everyday but offered to order him some dairy free strawberry sorbet from the ice cream shop.

Last night we played Bingo at the Cloister's on Sea Island in Georgia which is every Tuesday and Thursday night in the summer. It was beyond fun.

Bingo and a gluten free menu. What more could you want from a summer vacation?

We rode bicycles home in the dark adding to the fun filled night. I would highly recommend a gluten free family vacation at the Cloister's on Sea Island. Call in advance to let the chef know you are arriving and what kind of food your family likes to eat to make sure that they have it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Babycakes Brownies and Cupcakes-Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Egg Free Birthday Treats

I am eating the yummiest gluten free, dairy free brownies from Babycakes in NYC. They were sent to me by my dear husband who always comes up with the best surprises on my birthday. Last year he sent me "a flower cake--not a flour cake!"

Babycakes brownies are also egg free which is a miracle--I don't know how they do it. I can make anything gluten and dairy free but things start to taste funny when I make them egg free. The brownies are a great idea for any birthday near or far for anyone who can't eat gluten. (They sent them to me in Georgia!)

I was also sent a dozen cupcakes! WHAT A TREAT! I love birthdays and sweet celebrations.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zzz Glasses Help Melatonin Production and Sleep

On vacation in Sea Island, Georgia, I had the opportunity to speak to Jeffrey Rose, of Jeffrey Rose is a clinical hypnotist and nutritionist with extensive knowledge about a variety of health issues. He has written about sleep, sugar and caffeine in the magazine Recover. When we got on the subject of sleep, he told me about Zzz Glazzes made by which block the blue component of light from computer and TV screens. Blue light interferes with the bodies production of melatonin, the hormone which makes one drowsy. I have known generally that computer and tv usage before bed make it difficult to fall asleep and I have been aware that the blue light is a factor in this. But my excitement about the subject is completely about these glasses which offer a solution. Although you can take melatonin as a supplement, Jeffrey recommends that any person with difficulty falling asleep should try these glasses first.

Ideally, you should avoid using the computer and TV for an hour and a half before you want to go to sleep. If that is impossible, then the Zzz glasses can help offset the impact of the light and allow you go to sleep after being exposed to light. They also have yellow colored light bulbs which block the blue light. Jeffrey says the solution to this problem can even be relatively inexpensive--turn down the lights! Sleep and the disruption of the circadian cycle may be a factor in everything from postpartum depression to cancer to obesity.

Adults need to get seven and a half hours of sleep per night. Kids ages 5 to 12 need 9-11 hours of sleep. Of course, everyone is different and you can tell you have gotten enough sleep if you wake up naturally without an alarm clock.

Related Posts:
Sleeping and Allergies
Book Review: Nurture Shock

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Being a Vegetarian, Eating Raw and the China Study

One of my favorite nutrition blogs is called The Whole Health Source. It is well researched, thoughtful information about nutrition. I can't get enough of it, really.

Today, The Whole Health Source posted on China Study Problems of Interpretation. The China Study was an observational study in China of 65 different regions, used as a main source by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who wrote a book called The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health, a book which promotes a vegetarian diet and warns that any consumption of animal protein causes increased cancer rates. On the book is actually titled: The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and The Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health. Dr. Campbell's book is all about how eating ANY meat is bad for your health and increases your risk of cancer and eating plant based protein lowers your risk for cancer.

The Whole Health Source mentioned that when the data from the study was examined by Denise Minger, who wrote an AMAZING overview of what she found when she crunched the raw data from the China Study, was that wheat was actually correlated with cancer more than animal products. Her lengthy assessment of The China Study, which painstakingly looks at the data, finds that the data from the study does not support Campbell's claim which promotes a vegetarian, non meat diet as a way to reduce cancer risk. Her interpretation can be found on her blog Raw Rood SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet.

I spent an hour reading Denise Minger's interpretation of the data and looking at the detailed charts. Near the end, there is a section titled Sins of Omission. In it, Denise Minger writes:

"Perhaps more troubling than the distorted facts in “The China Study” are the details Campbell leaves out.

Why does Campbell indict animal foods in cardiovascular disease (correlation of +1 for animal protein and -11 for fish protein), yet fail to mention that wheat flour has a correlation of +67 with heart attacks and coronary heart disease, and plant protein correlates at +25 with these conditions?

Speaking of wheat, why doesn’t Campbell also note the astronomical correlations wheat flour has with various diseases: +46 with cervix cancer, +54 with hypertensive heart disease, +47 with stroke, +41 with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs, and the aforementioned +67 with myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease? (None of these correlations appear to be tangled with any risk-heightening variables, either.)"

Both Stephen Guyenet and Denise Minger are researchers who really know their stuff--they crunch numbers and make charts. They aren't making this stuff up. (And, unlike me, they aren't promoting a gluten free diet--so they are obviously more objective than I am!)

I thought I would post the association between wheat consumption and cancer that Minger found as well as the possible association between wheat flour replacing rice and rising obesity rates in China, that Guyenet writes about because they are interpretations which suggest two more reasons why giving up gluten (which includes wheat) might be a good idea for our overall health.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sleepaway Camps for Kids on a Gluten Free Diet

Here is a list of camps that have experience dealing with gluten free diet. Most camps provide some of the gluten free food and parents send up some of the food. At Camp Wah-Nee I was told the camp provides all the gluten free food. There are lists of camps that are completely gluten free but they usually run for only a week each summer.

"They have been so accomodating. We love it."
"A member of the staff at Point O'Pines is on a gluten free diet so they make gluten free food that for staff as well as campers who are on gluten free diets. They have made a huge effort to provide substitutes."
"My girls go to Camp Wah-nee where they are so accommodating.This year the camp brought in a nutritionist working to help the camp and we have gone through every meal. They get the alternative food. The girls have their own toaster and are to keep food and have full access to it.
Special things are cooked for them so they eat the same as the rest of the camp and they always have alternatives that they love. It has been great."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gluten Free Tuesdays at Union Square Whole Foods Market

Listening to a message machine at Union Square Whole Foods Market, I heard all about Gluten Free Tuesdays. If you tell someone "I'm here for gluten free Tuesday!" you will even receive a free gluten free goodie bag. I go to Whole Foods every week or so and I definitely will shop on Tuesdays from now on. Hopefully, they will continue gluten free Tuesdays in the fall when I return from vacation.

More Information on Buying Safe Sunscreen: Read the Label

The safest sunscreen is one which is mineral based containing only non-nano titanium dioxide and zinc. FREE FROM:
  • oxybenzone
  • octinoxate
  • PABA,
  • retinyl palmate (vitamin A) (1)(2)
  • parabens such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben which are used as preservatives in many products. (3) Parabens are of most concern when used in products which remain on your skin such as lotions and sunscreens.
  • nano scale minerals (4).
Often, you need to carefully examine the label, as even brands which make the safer products listed here, can also make a product containing the unsafe ingredients. And even the so called "safe" active ingredients in the sunscreens recommended as "safer" have really troubling safety profiles, when you look closely at the ingredient link on Environmental Working Group. So much so, that in Vermont, the camp my niece goes to has a sign that looks very much like a no smoking sign only in place of cigarettes is a tube of sunscreen. The sign says "If you are opposed to sunscreen, please let us know."

The ONLY "active ingredients" should be:
ZINC OXIDE (sunscreen grade > 100nm) or non-nano particles. The reason that you want the zinc to be greater than 100 nm, is that nano scale minerals are thought to be unsafe by some consumer safety groups.

And, Green Living Q&A has a great thread about sunscreens which mentions that many sunscreens, even those marketed to babies like California Baby contain questionable ingredients.

The best way to avoid nano scale minerals is to look on the label. Having nano scale minerals does make sunscreen easier to spread and absorb so you don't look like you are covered in white cream, but this same ability to be absorbed also means that these minerals can be absorbed into organs and tissues making their safety profile uncertain at this time. (5) If you have purchased nano products already, you can use them up, but I wouldn't seen out or continue to buy products using this technology until we know more about them. has a great list of 23 natural sunscreens.

But I would caution parents to look carefully at the ingredient list to make sure if they buy California Baby brand they don't have nano scale ingredients in them, when possible.

Oxford Journal of Toxicological Sciences says:

"nanomaterial safety data are limited. Until such time as the exposures, hazards, and environmental life cycle of nanomaterials have been more clearly defined, cautious development and implementation of nanotechnology is the most prudent course." (4)

Scientific American also has an article about how nano particles are bad for the environment.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Gluten Free in Sag Harbor at the New Paradise Cafe

This venue is now CLOSED.

We went to New Paradise Cafe in Sag Harbor for dinner. I didn't know what they would have that was gluten free but it is pretty easy these days to find something simple that doesn't have gluten. What a treat to be told by the waiter, when I inquired, that they had gluten free pasta.

It was amazing to be served a piping hot plate of gluten free corn fusilli from Italy in a rich, creamy bolognese sauce at a restaurant. We have pasta at home, but my kids like it plain so I don't often serve myself such an elaborate pasta dish. And getting gluten free pasta in a restaurant normally requires going to a gluten free restaurant. So, to stumble upon gluten free pasta at a restaurant without a gluten free menu felt like a huge score. While I love the easiness of a gluten free menu, my experience at the New Paradise Cafe made me realize that I don't even need an entire gluten free menu! What I need is a gluten free entree and a salad. End of story. I am not picky--I just need the food that I am served to be gluten free. So the fact that they had gluten free corn pasta was huge. I'm sure I could have inquired what else on the menu could have been prepared gluten free, but how could I not get the gluten free pasta?

They told me that they have the pasta on hand and if you call ahead they can make it. It was just my lucky day, I guess. If you are in Sag Harbor and looking for some gluten free food, call ahead or stop by the:

New Paradise Cafe
126 Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY 11963