Friday, January 29, 2010

Progress report: "Doc, I am seeing spots before my eyes!"

When I was a little girl, in the night if I would rub my eyes, I would see stars. I didn't know why, but I thought it was very cool.

Several years ago (BAG - before anti-gluten - so probably 5 or 6) I tried a new type of mascara that had a white layer that you used first and then a darker layer that you put on top. It took me a while to realize it, but I was allergic to the stuff. The allergy was manifested in very itchy eyes, so I was rubbing them a lot.

One day, I noticed that I was having "eye lights" just on the edge of my vision - and I wasn't rubbing them at the time; I also noticed that I was looking through black spots and something like spider webs that were on the surface of my eyes. I asked Professor Google about them and his report was pretty frightening. I called an eye doctor and they whooshed me in within the hour. The doctor fired up the laser (I don't know that for sure, but I know he anticipated surgery) and then proceeded to examine me, putting mucky stuff, bright lights, fingers and noses in my eyes. When he came up for air, he pronounced me okay. He said that there were no visible tears, so the eyes had already healed up. I was relieved, but it changed my attitude about the rubbing-my-eyes part of life (I remember wondering why my mother had never hammered the point that a person should not rub their eyes. I wondered that again when I was going with her to the optometrist this last summer for her cataract surgeries and the doctor warned her not to rub her eyes while they were healing, but said once they were healed, it wouldn't be a problem).

Since that time, I have carefully trained myself to not even touch my eyes unless I am proceeding with gentleness. Even in the night, I have mostly succeeded in avoiding doing so, but sometimes it has happened accidentally and every time there is a light show. Another thing I have noticed is that sometimes when sitting up in bed there would be a bit of a halo of hazy lights, as though the exertion put pressure on the eyes. I am always on the lookout for the UFL's (Unidentified Flying Lights) during the daytime - ever concerned that there is a laser beam with my name on it just waiting for me at the optometrist's office.

Enter: diet change
I have adjusted my eating quite a bit lately. I have stopped consuming dairy and eggs (though my doctor has a possible way to include an occasional egg, we will see if it works), in addition to the gluten and I have also been mostly eating foods that combine well.

I am following food combination charts which are designed with digestive juices in mind. Apparently our bodies use different types of enzymes for different types of foods. It takes different stuff to break down meat than potatoes, for example, and melons should always be eaten alone. When we combine these foods, our bodies are not going to be able to break it all down properly. I decided that since my digestive system seems to be a disaster area, it can use all the help it can get.

Cutting to the chase
One thing that happened very quickly after I stopped eating the dairy and eggs is my hot flashes (I am 52) ceased...completely. It was rather shocking when I realized it, especially since I had started looking forward to them when I crawled into bed at night. I would be so cold and one flash, if used properly, would chase the shivers away. By properly I mean that after I had flung the covers away, if I put them back on just before the flash ended, I could conserve some of the heat and would be comfortably warm and able to fall asleep. Anyway, I no longer have hot flashes which I am assuming is a good thing.

The next thing I just noticed this morning. When I touch my eyes, no lights. This is quite shocking, because they have always been there and though a bad sign, I assumed they were a normal part of life and had grown used to them -- like those really old, worn out shoes that are so hard to throw away...holes and all. I realize there could be some other factor that I am missing and I am not sure the food combining or elimination of dairy or eggs have anything to do with this change, but I am pleased and amazed. I will still be careful not to rub my eyes though.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bread my sister, a Vegan blog that is No Gluten, No Dairy, No Egg, No Soy, No Kidding: Aprovchar - Taking the full measure of life!

In the right hand column, notice the first list is her categories, and the second is her blogroll. Since she cannot have gluten, dairy, eggs, or soy, I am thinking these blogs should be helpful to us. I haven't checked through out, but I do recognize some from my own list.

The particular link my sis sent is to Mark Engelberg's Gluten-Free, Vegan Bread. What caught my attention in particular was this,

Because she had only gone without gluten for three weeks at that point, I knew she’d be a better judge of the comparison to regular bread. “Taste this,” I said, holding out a piece of bread and offering no further information. She took a bite and closed her eyes. When she opened her eyes, they filled with tears. Her face flushed, and she looked a bit embarrassed. “It’s okay to cry,” I said. “It is that good.”

My sister just stopped by and she said her favorite comment was #30 from Jazzy. I will quote the last few sentences,

I cannot thank you enough for this recipe. It brings a smile to my face and tears of joy to my heart to be able to give my daughter something so that she can eat like the rest of us. She has declared this bread, ‘dewicious!!’

I am probably going to have to try this, I am desperate for a really truly sandwich.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Banana Flats

The saga continues:
When I saw Rebecca's Banana Sheetcake I knew I had to have a gluten free version, so I adapted her recipe and it was delicious. Then came the dreaded news that I had to stop consuming eggs and dairy as well. Fun times. Desperate times call for desperate measures (BTW: Did you know that word rhymes with treasure? Until very recently I have always pronounced it may zhur. My husband and daughter have been retraining me. ), so I decided to adapt the adaptation. This time I ended up with a puddingish sort of thing. The night of its invention, we had four strapping young brothers come by to visit and I have to say that it was a big hit with them (or else they were being kind...piece after piece of kindness). As a matter of fact, the eldest - who was home for Christmas from West Point - came up with the name, Banana Flats. I love that name. And so, without further ado, I present you the interesting confection that is...

Banana Flats
1/2 cup Earth Balance Original style (I am sure you could use whichever you prefer)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 egg's-worth Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer (follow package directions)
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free brown rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 apples, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed fine
Almonds to garnish (of course)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance and sugars, then add the egg replacer, coconut milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, then stir in the bananas and apples and mix well.

Spread the batter into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan. Garnish with many as you like. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

When this was baking, I went into a bit of a panic because it was not raising at all. Finally, just before it was to come up it elevated to almost the top of the pan and it was a lovely, puffy thing. I pulled it out when it was finished and set it on the stove top to cool, and somewhere along the way it fell flat again! I thought I had a failure, but it really turned out nice. It is an animal unto itself. It isn't exactly cake-like and it isn't exactly bar-like and it isn't exactly pudding-like; it is kind of cake/bar/pudding/something newish-like. It is best warm or room temperature, but I kept it refrigerated between eatings.

I still want to come up with a recipe that is more cake-like, but that is for another day's experiment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Liver, My Friend

I have known for some time that I have issues with my liver and that things seem to be worse since I had my gallbladder out. I have heard that gallbladder problems are actually symptoms of liver problems anyway. Whether that is true or not, I am not sure; I'm a writer not a doctor. Today I decided to do some research and very quickly found articles about a possible connection between celiac and the liver. I got more than an eye full at celiac dot com.

Again, I have not been diagnosed with celiac. This is because I had to take matters into my own hands when, after more tests than can be measured with the human eye, the gastroenterologist essentially told me "people hurt, take fish oil, get exercise, have a nice life" and sent me on my way...bills in hand. I stopped eating gluten because I had to find some relief from the terrible pain...well, you can read the details here.

Bottom line, probably; the saddened liver and the celiac can go hand in hand, but doctors don't always seem to be sure which problem comes first. From what I can understand (and that is very technical doctor talk in those articles), there have been people who had liver transplants and their gluten issues went away. On the other hand, there seem to be some liver problems that come with some of the fun of being glutenly challenged. I am sort of attached to my liver. I hope we can learn to get along better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My niece, Beth and her fiance, Jake

...will be spending some time at my blog, I'm afraid. They just found out that Jake can't have gluten, dairy, eggs or peanuts! It is times like these that I am grateful for my problem. Hopefully I can be a help to them as they traverse this rocky path.

Check out Lara Bars. Some of them will fit with your diet and they are a tasty, ready to eat food. I like their Cherry Pie bar. Check out the ingredients of each flavor. I get them at Fred Meyer. Also, I found a Just Fruit Bar in the diet bars section at Winco. It is free of everything you need it to be and it is like a thick fruit leather. Very good. You can also eat the rotisserie chicken at Costco. Look around at Costco, they are carrying a lot of gluten free stuff.

I am adding a new label - JAKE - so you can click on it for any tips I come up with for you. I will be praying for both of you.

:) Aunt Bee

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sleuthering Around the Web Again

I have been missing cheese so much. I tried enchiladas without it and...well...I don't recommend them. Last night I found some cheddar style almond cheese on sale at Freddy's and decided to try it. My first impression wasn't good, as I had real cheese expectations, but after giving myself a talkin' to, I tried it again. I had some nice rice crackers with it and liked it very much. I am going to pick up more while it is still on sale. This opens up some nice possibilities.

(I didn't take this photog...I harvested it from another blog.)

UPDATE: Possibilities closed. Alisa noted in her comment to this post that this brand of cheese has milk in it. It is true, it has casein; which begs the question: Alternative?

Also, I had mentioned that I had a chicken variation of my Smokies in a Quilt. I gave it a go last night and my husband and daughter loved it, but I have one more thing to tweak before I am satisfied. Be patient. We still have leftovers and it will be a few weeks before I try again.


Gluten Free in SD - This site has so much good information; the link takes you to a particular page I ran across, but look around.

Food Allergy Mamma Check out her December 19th post for No Dairy, No Egg, No Kidding Cinnamon Rolls! UPDATE: Use Sarah's Gluten Free Caramel Cinnamon Rolls to see how she handled the gluten issue. I haven't tried to come up with a gluten free version, but I would think using a brown rice flour and cornstarch in place of the flour should work out just fine. I would use almond milk rather than rice of soy.

The Mini Canteen This lady has some yummy looking recipes. She bakes vegan, wheat and dairy free, so it is easy to make her recipes work. She has home-made marshmallows, Everything Free Ice Cream, a vegan Nutella (just before Christmas I found another one here), and these Carmel Popcorn Peanut Butter Wheat and Dairy Free Cookies (I want to try these soon).