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The Wheat I Can Eat – Einkorn

The Wheat I Can Eat

I had no idea that my rhyming was so good, I’m sure my wife disagrees, though. Regardless, I mentioned way back in the beginning somewhere that there is one variety of wheat that I am able to eat. Einkorn is this wheat’s name. Just as a reminder for anyone, I do have a severe reaction to gluten. Whether you want to call it a sensitivity, an allergy, whatever, it’s bad, and I have to avoid it like the plague. Einkorn has been very successful for me, though!

First off, let me say I am not a doctor, and even if I was, I’m not your doctor, or naturopath, or nutritionist or anything. I’m just your friendly neighborhood baker. I highly recommend you talk about this with whoever your healthcare professional is. After that, I recommend ordered a very small amount to try, and go from there if you it works for you.

It took me 6 months to drum up the courage to try it. I very much did not want to be curled up in bed in extreme pain. I ate one small cookie and went from there. Praise God it did not affect me, and was safe for me to eat.

What is Einkorn?

Einkorn is a variety of wheat, therefore it also contains gluten. That is the last similarity between einkorn and modern wheat. Einkorn is considered to be the original wheat that was ever domesticated (somewhere between 5,000-10,000 years ago). Since then we have hybridized various varieties of wheat to create all the varieties we have today.

Along with that hybridization came higher amounts of gluten and a different genetic structure to the gluten dna itself. This was both intentional and unintentional. As we have discussed, if you are wanting to create a great loaf of bread, gluten is wonderful and helps create that beautiful structure. Wheat farmers selected varieties over the years to increase that gluten and make it stronger so bakers can create those particular loaves of bread.

But this same hybridization has ended up helping create the problems that many of us are familiar with. While Einkorn certainly has its drawbacks due to its lower yield, weaker gluten, and increased difficulty in harvest, the weaker gluten that it contains also makes it edible for a large portion of the population! Your body may very well be able to process einkorn flour just fine even if you have a severe reaction to “regular” wheat.

Einkorn only has 2 sets of chromosomes as opposed to modern wheat which can be up in the 40s. Emmer, Kamut and Spelt are all in-between. Einkorn also does have quite a bit higher level of nutrients and protein compared to modern wheat. If you would like to learn more, here is a website all about einkorn.

Does all of this matter?

Does all of this matter for those of us who are gluten intolerant, though? Well, as I mentioned above, it all just depends. I think as a baseline rule, it does. It starts as a much healthier product to begin with compared to modern varieties. Almost all einkorn is produced organically so that can also aid in digestibility. As with all things, you need to try a little bit and see if your own body can handle it. We do know many gluten-free people who are able to eat einkorn, though! It functions basically the same as regular white flour, and it can be fermented into sourdough, so it is a wonderful thing to be able to add into your diet on occasion! Einkorn has made it much easier for our family to live with all our food allergies.

Let us know if you try einkorn and how it works out for you! Jovial Foods is where we purchase ours.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Is Low Carb also Gluten Free?

Is low carb also gluten free? In a word: No.  Frankly if you are eating low carb and gluten free, you must be extremely careful. While a lot of low carb products and recipes are gluten free, many have hidden gluten that you must be careful to avoid!

Let’s go back to the basics of what gluten does. It helps our gluten-filled bread stick together, right? Well, starch helps to make that happen as well. So in many low carb products, when they remove starch filled products, they substitute in extra wheat gluten to help give structure. Obviously this is a huge problem for anyone who is sensitive to gluten and is also eating low carb.

Should we be mad?

Should we be upset at the companies using vital wheat gluten and recipe creators who use it in their recipes and products? Absolutely not! They are creating value for the many people who are not gluten free but do want to eat low carb. Just as much as we should not be upset with the people who create products or recipes using wheat flour.

What to look out for?

Certainly it’s true that, “You cannot judge a book by it’s cover”. Looking at outward appearance, in some cases, can help us, though. If you see a recipe or a product that looks too good to be gluten free, pay more attention. Take that next step and look at the ingredients. Don’t waste your time watching a 20 minute youtube video, just to check the recipe at the end and realize it has 2 cups of wheat gluten added to it. Here is a great example of something that looks a bit better looking than other gluten free recipes and low and behold, it’s not!

As always, checking ingredient labels is one of the most important things we can do as allergen sensitive people. I totally understand the excitement and the comfort we get from seeing a product mentioning it is free of “fill in the blank”. It is typically a good sign that it at least has a good chance of being safe for us to eat. We still need to carefully examine it and make sure it is safe!

So is low carb also gluten free? Maybe… It’s not a guaranteed thing, and many low carb options contain lots of extra gluten. Read the recipe or ingredients list carefully and pay attention. If it seems too good to be true, it quite possibly is. I don’t want to drag your enthusiasm down but I really don’t want people getting sick either, and we have been deceived by quite a few of these recipes recently.

Don’t forget yesterday’s post here about these new bread mixes which ARE both gluten free and low carb (and amazingly delicious, too)!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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The BEST grain free keto bread mix!

I don’t know about y’all, but I love bread! Making good bread gluten free is hard; making a really good grain free keto bread is even harder. Gluten just does certain things that makes bread do bread things. It’s extremely hard to replicate. I think I have found a great product to try that fulfills many of the desires of bread while also being gluten and grain free and keto/low carb friendly! I ran across mention of California Country Organics on Instagram and decided to check them out.

They offer 4 baking mixes along with a couple of cookbooks that are all grain and gluReal Bread Grain Free Bread Mix ten free as well as keto and low carb friendly. I ordered the rustic bread mix and the cinnamon roll mix. We have only tried the rustic bread mix so far. I got the cinnamon roll mix for my wife’s birthday and will either update this review or do another one then.

The Results

Their product pictures impressed me right off the bat. A lot can usually be judged by the pictures. Certainly, as is always true, the outward appearance does not necessarily indicate the quality of the interior. I’ve found with gluten free products, though, that how it looks is usually a decent indicator of the overall product.

The Finished Product!

Their bread turned out fantastic! My wife, whom has gotten used to GF stuff but still typically avoids it, loved it and thought it was fantastic as well. It has a nice crust to it, the texture is nice without being too spongy and it has an excellent regular bread flavor.

The Downsides

The recipe on the back is a bit confusing. It lists some of what you need at the top, but depending on the mix (cinnamon rolls for one), the rest of what you need is buried in the instructions. This is not the end of the world but it does make it a bit more confusing.

They are a little labor intensive, although it’s really not bad considering you’re making homemade bread. It is not simply, “add ingredients and stir”. You add all the wet ingredients, then add your mix, stir it together, then rest it, then you knead it for a bit, then you shape it and bake it. Compared to a typical loaf of bread this is not far off, but compared to most gluten free mixes this requires a bit more effort. It is well worth it in my opinion, but just be aware.

Is it worth it?

These bread mixes are totally worth trying!! While they do require a touch of extra work, it creates a tasty gluten and grain free and low carb bread. There is only about 2g of net carbs per slice. Each slice is nicely satisfying, too, so if you are trying to stay under 20 or 30 grams of carbs, you can have one slice and be satisfied without busting your allowance.

Head over to their website and check them out. We will let you know how the cinnamon rolls taste soon! They are available on amazon as well, but if at all possible I think it is always a good idea to support a company directly through their website. Let us know if you love these breads as much as we did!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Why do people eat grain free?

Lets get back to the whole “what can people eat and don’t eat” topic. We talked about how it’s really gliadin in gluten that typically causes people an allergic reaction to wheat products.  If that is so, then why do people eat totally grain free? It’s because the human body is super weird… There are a lot of people that feel that any gluten, whether it is gliadin containing or not, causes inflammation and therefore should not be consumed. Each grain is also a bit different, as I know people who can have rice, and not corn, corn but not oats, etc, etc. It’s just something you have to listen to your own body on.

Therefore people go totally grain free, no oats, no corn, no rice, etc. There are “pseudo” grains that some people eat and some don’t. Quinoa is one of those. Many people, if they go this path, go all the way and either just give up on any baked good or stick with basically only coconut or almond flour. Unless you have a nut allergy, these typically solve the reaction issues for most people. Many people feel better, with no bloating or any kind of inflation, from these options.

What is a grain?

All grains are all ultimately grasses. We eat the seed heads of these grasses. Corn, rice, wheat, barley, and oats are all different species of grass that we eat the seeds off of. They are all high carbohydrate plants. The carbohydrates help feed the seeds and grow them into another plant.

Why does that matter?

Some people avoid all true grains because of their potentially inflammatory properties. That is ultimately a lot of what happens with people who are sensitive to gluten. Gluten causes the gut lining to become irritated and swell up, causing discomfort and other issues. If you have joint issues because of eating gluten, that’s because gluten causes the tissue in your joints to swell, making it painful to flex those joints.

There is some research that shows there are inflammatory properties in other grains than just wheat. There is some concern over the chemicals that are frequently used in our modern agricultural system to grow grains. Whether there are actual residues left on the grains or not, grains produced in this manner do cause reactions in some people.

Whether we eat whole grains or processed grains can also affect our reaction to grains. I’m not talking about the package of bread that says whole wheat but still has white flour and even more sugar than the white bread. I’m talking about finding a local baker you can trust or making bread yourself, starting with a whole seed, cracking it or grinding it, and turning that into your bread. The more complete your grains are, the better your body will be able to process them.\

Symptoms

When grains are processed from, say, whole wheat into white flour, it is ground, and the bran and germ are removed. These 2 parts contain much of the added vitamins, minerals and fiber that are found in the whole grains. So you end up with mostly carbs that quickly change to glucose in your blood stream but don’t actually bring any nutrition to you. This leaves you with a blood sugar spike after eating white bread or highly processed grain products.

Some people experience “foggy brain” syndrome felt after eating a large or even small amount of carbs from grains. Typically this seems to be more associated with processed grains than whole grains, but it can sometimes apply to either. This could be from the overload of carbs/sugars or possibly from increased inflammation in the body.

Should I go grain free?

If you are already gluten free, should you take that next step and go grain free? Maybe… If you are at a healthy weight, have no outstanding health issues and feel great, then no, you probably don’t need to eat grain free. There is enough disagreement over some of the arguments about the negative aspects of grains that if you feel great and are healthy, I don’t personally think it’s worth it. There are some nutrients that are beneficial in whole grains, so they can be a great small part of a well-rounded whole-food diet.

Are you over weight, or feel bad or sluggish after eating grains, or have other health issues? Then yes, you should probably consider removing grains from your diet and see if that improves your health. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. You might have other issues that are causing you problems, but removing grains may help with identifying the issues.

As with any eating decision, we have to consider the specifics of our body and what seems to benefit it or not individually.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

You know when you get a craving for a chocolate chip cookie? Not a “healthy” cookie, but that one that you grew up eating? Well it happens to us quite a bit! I grew up eating the iconic Toll House chocolate chip cookie – that recipe right off the bag of the semi-sweet chocolate chips – full of brown sugar, butter, and lots of gooey chocolateyness. Well I have good news! Did you know there is a completely equal version that is grain free?! Danielle Walker, the mastermind of Against All Grain, has this grain free chocolate chip  cookie recipe on her blog, and if you haven’t found it yet, it is high time you tried it in all its magnificence!

These grain free chocolate chip cookies are great to make with kids, as the recipe is completely simple enough that even a toddler can make it with a little parental guidance!

Ingredients 

Almond Flour – we always use Costco. They have become the go-to for finely ground almond flour that best substitutes for white flour in recipes where you don’t want to feel like you’re eating ground up almonds. We use this in our blondies, and we recommend it for just about every almond flour application. Did you know that you can order Kirkland products on Amazon? I didn’t until recently, but what a great discovery!

Chocolate Chips – we use Guittard for the entire 1/2 cup of chocolate that this recipe calls for. You can use Enjoy Life, which is a great brand that doesn’t have any allergens/additives/etc, also, or whatever else your favorite brand may be. We like the dark decadent flavor of the higher quality dark chocolate Guittard chips, and we feel ever-so-slightly healthier because we’re using a darker chocolate (and we all know that dark chocolate is basically a vegetable, right?!).

Salt – as always, we recommend Real Salt. It has all the good trace minerals left in it, it tastes great, and it even looks beautiful on the table! Plus, if you use lots of good salt, you can order in bulk in these perfect little 10lb buckets with sealing lids that are the most useful size EVER!!!! Especially if you have little kiddos trying to help move animal feed, water, minerals, dirt, etc around the homestead! Or even if you just need resealable storage for dry goods, craft supplies, or anything else your heart desires 😉

Process 

I won’t try to pretend that I can write a better grain free cookie recipe blog than Danielle Walker, so head on over to her page right now and make yourself some delicious, amazing, take-you-back-to-your-childhood chocolate chip cookies!

Danielle Walker’s “Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies”

One more little tidbit – don’t miss that you can make this dough, roll it into balls, and freeze it for those cold winter nights coming up where you just need one gooey hot chocolate chip cookie to eat on the couch with your tea or coffee.

We’d love to hear about your childhood memories with chocolate chip cookies, or any other cookie for that matter! Share your story below!

The Wife 😉

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Making Your Own Oat Flour

Homemade Oat Flour

If you have been doing any kind of gluten free baking long, or even considering it, you know the list of flours required can get a bit daunting. Recipes can call for 3 different kinds of rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, plus gums and who knows what else! If you do not have them on hand good luck making them appear out of thin air.  Gluten Free baking does require several different flours, but it is disappointing when you don’t have what you need! Today I have the answer! Well, an answer, for one flour.  If your recipe calls for oat flour and you don’t have it on hand, no problem! Making your own oat flour is super easy and quick.

Making your own oat flour is so easy unless you end up using it all the time or want to make sure you have the finest oat flour available. I would not bother keeping premade oat flour around. All you need to do to make your own oat flour is to dump oats in a blender; blend them fine, and voila! Oat Flour!

Blend it up!

Worried about oats not being gluten free? Go check out our post of whether oats are gluten free for answers!

How to get it done?

It is really that simple! Depending on your blender or how fastidious you are about it you will probably end up with some larger pieces of oats. For the recipes I use it in (like the delicious pancakes I’ll talk about tomorrow 😉 I think the texture variation is nice.Homemade Oat Flour

The higher end blenders like the Vitamix typically come with a Dry blade or container. These are designed to “mill” whole grains to a flour consistency. As I mentioned I have found a decent blender to do a perfectly good job.

1 cup of rolled oats yields about 1.25 cups of flour in my experience. You can easily use quick cooking or whatever version of rolled oats you have on hand. The only thing to note with a quick cooking style is that they may absorb liquid differently.  Though you might have to adjust with a bit more liquid if necessary.

In the end making your own oat flour is super simple. There is basically nothing to mess up, just give it a whirl (dad jokes for the win) and have fun!  This is also a great activity to do with your kids.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Are Oats Gluten Free, and all toddlers favorite food!

Trader Joes Gluten Free Oats

Oats: that ubiquitous, always available grain that comes in a form anywhere from glop thrown in a bowl, to a high end energy bar, to a packet that is probably more sugar than anything else. Although many people find it to be delicious, many people also despise it. The only thing more confusing than the statistical probability that your spouse will like or hate oat meal just as much as you are: are Oats Gluten Free?

Would it be a helpful answer if I said it depends? Sadly it is true, sometimes oats are safe to eat and sometimes they are not. While Oats themselves are gluten free (not grain free though)., they end up becoming contaminated in the growth and processing phases. Sometimes oats grow together with wheat, as well as being transported and processed together. Therefore, the oat itself will not cause you harm, while the cross contact that occurs that will get you into trouble.

Not sure what cross contact is? Find out here!

What am I to do!?

“I love oatmeal! What am I to do!?”  You say.  The great thing is the market has provided us an option! Certified gluten free oats are available and fairly easy to obtain. Amazon has 6 and counting different brands of certified gluten free oats available. Trader Joes has a great gluten free oat, and its one of the most inexpensive.

Gluten Free Oats come in all shapes and sizes just like regular oats. You can buy them rolled, or quick cooking, or flavored in packets, or in cups, or as steel cut or whole grouts. Whatever you preferred way to eat oats, you can do it with gluten free oats!

A Word on Trust

Once you start roaming the internet looking for gluten free related articles, you will quickly find broken trust. Someone ate a product that made them sick. Maybe it was mislabeled, or they grabbed the wrong thing, or it was contaminated, who really knows. However, their trust in that part of the system is now broken.

There is an inherent trust we have to place in the purity of our food sources. That is true for all of our food, not just gluten free products! Praise God we have a remarkably safe food system here in the United States and almost the entire 1st world. We can walk into any grocery store and not be fearful our food might be spiked with a poison or our flour is cut with talcum powder. Those are very real fears for much of the world.

Individuals with food allergies have to take on even more trust, though. When we buy a product that says Gluten Free we trust them that they are telling the truth! Third party certifications do help with that but then we are trusting the third party. While there are ways to test foods yourself, self-testing for gluten gets expensive and time consuming and is another topic on its own.

Should I just not eat anything but raw carrots then that I grew myself then? No, but we do need to pay attention and ask questions. Read labels, research companies, look for third party certifications, and understand what a company is about. In the case of oats, look for information like is included on the back of the Trader Joes GF oats bag below. Most importantly in the end after you’ve done your research, relax and enjoy life. Stressing over the food is not worth it.

Traders Joe's Gluten Free Oats Label Details

Can I eat O’s?

Cheerios, the favorite food of everyone below the age of 6, plus a lot of them above 6 too! Are the oats gluten free in cheerios? That is a fantastic question to ask, and certainly is highly relevant to our discussion of trust.

Cheerios uses oats from mixed crop fields and as such cannot be certified gluten free.  None the less, they call them gluten free, and most gluten free people can eat them. Why? The deal is they have developed a process to separate out the wheat, barley, etc that might be mixed in. Cheerios then tests their product to make sure it is below the Federal Standard of 20 ppm of gluten. To find out more information, go here.

The fact that they developed a giant sorting machine to do this is pretty cool! But, we place trust in the manufacturer here, no matter how cool the science is. Are cheerios safe to eat for gluten sensitive people? You have to find out for yourself. I and my daughters can tolerate them without any issues, but I know others who cannot. Can other people not tolerate them because of the potential for gluten cross contact in cheerios or something else entirely? It’s hard to know.

Try a few and see how you do, you might be surprised! If you find your can’t tolerate them, some toddler with gladly take them off your hands 🙂

The Conclusion

Are oats gluten free? The answer is yes, oats themselves are gluten free, but often get contaminated later. You should find a quality manufacturer that sells a certified gluten free oatmeal that makes you happy, and go enjoy it!

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Let’s Decrease Stress! The Mental Side

Happy Monday! I’m crazy, you say? That is totally true! Do Monday mornings up your stress level because of work? Or maybe it is Sunday nights knowing you have to get up early the next day? No matter what the situation is that increases your stress level, we want to try to decrease our stress instead. Life is never more fun when we are stressed. Stress is a huge deal as we talked about on Friday. Here are 5 things to help you decrease stress mentally.

  1. Know Jesus: I’m going to be totally honest, I am a Christian and I believe it is the most important part of life. The biggest difference you can make in your life to decrease stress is to come to know Jesus personally because all those things you’re stressed about can be released to Him and He promises to give us His peace when we do so.

  2. Stop Yer Whinin’: When your stress level is up, do you whine and complain about the situation? I know I do! It’s the flat tire, or the tough customer, or maybe you got the wrong food at the restaurant. Does complaining actually help and decrease your stress? Nope! Complaining MIGHT blow off a touch of steam, but ultimately it solves nothing and focuses us back on the negative. It also makes you mad about the situation as you mull it over and get more upset and stressed out over what happened. When that bad situation happens, take a deep breath and…

  3. Focus on the Positive: How is getting a flat tire positive? Getting that flat tire might be keeping you out of that wreck that is about to occur 5 miles up the road that you could have been killed in. It allows you the chance to stop and take a deep breath and make sure your spare tire is still usable. That super annoying client is creating a situation that enables you to learn to adapt better and to become better at communication in the future. Future benefit is the whole point of exercise – correct? We put our bodies through rigorous exercise and unpleasant situations so that we can have a great outcome later on in a fit body. We already have an eye on the outcome in exercise, but we need to apply that same principle to all of life. Think, “What is the positive growth or outcome from this situation?” By focusing on the positive, we decrease our stress because even hard situations become, at worst, a useful situation, and at best maybe even a good situation! Want to dive into this a bit more? Go check out this video by Jocko Willink. When we focus on the positive, it also enables us to…

  4. Be Thankful: Be thankful for my flat tire you say!? Yes! Complaining about the situation certainly does not help, so what is the opposite? Being thankful! Being thankful and focusing on the positive are intimately connected. It is easiest to be thankful when we have first focused on the positive. If you cannot figure out how to focus on the positive then be thankful first. Thank God that you have the chance to go through this situation and learn whatever lessons are at hand. We can also always learn to be more patient and more humble. When we stop and are thankful, it forces us to stop and think. We step back and look at the totality of the situation instead of immediately becoming negative. I guarantee that every time you are truly thankful for a situation, it will help decrease your stress. Simply mouthing a thank you does not cut it – being thankful is a deep mindset that will help decrease your stress.

  5. View the Entirety of Life: What is the likelihood of this specific situation truly affecting the rest of your life? Are there situations that do truly affect your life? Yes! Major relationship troubles, a job loss, a major injury, these situations can truly affect your life hugely. This level of life altering event is VERY rare though. Difficult clients, traffic slowdowns, eating the dinner you didn’t really want, all of these have very little bearing on the overall flow of life. They are frequent, but fortunately not life altering.

    Think about the average lifespan of 85 years. What will that dinner, or your grocery trip taking 5 minutes longer because of traffic, matter tomorrow night, much less in 20 years! The reality is you will probably have forgotten the situation 30 minutes from now. If not, will you remember it in 10 years? If you think you will, then the question is why? Is that unreasonable client at work worth remembering in 10 years because they demanded your emails are formatted in a specific way? No! View life in its whole and then appropriately place your situation in that span of time. You will decrease your stress if you do this. Don’t burden your 60 year old self with the situations of now.

    Think about these 5 ways to mentally decrease stress, better yet do them! They will help you to let go and be there for your family and yourself.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Managing Stress is More Important than What You Eat

Managing stress is more important than what you eat. That is quite the statement I know. I believe that statement more every day though. As someone with food allergies you may be wondering how I believe that. Making sure you don’t eat something that you are allergic to must be way more important than managing stress, right?

Of course I am over stating my position a bit. Making sure you avoid eating food containing something you are allergic to is extremely important. We do not want to even come close to eating something we shouldn’t.  Yet, some days I’m not sure what is worse or causes more damage, stress or eating that potentially contaminated French fry.

The Industry of Stress

We have entire industries devoted to dealing with stress. What is the purpose of a Nightguard from your dentist? To mitigate the negative consequences of stress that causes you to grind your teeth at night. You can go to someone that will help you learn to manage your stress. Hotels and spas market directly to being a haven from the stress of modern life.  Delivery services market to reducing your stress. Why have the stress of grocery shopping with your kids or having to put your pants on to get dinner when it can be brought to you!

Is it all bad?

Stress can be good too. Mild stress in the right situation helps us to grow and become stronger. A difficult client at work can help us become better at sales or customer service. Exercise is literally stressing the body to make it stronger. Education is “stressing” the brain to learn more and new things.

What about being chased by a bear? That is certainly stress! Being chased by a bear is not good but that stress causes our body to release adrenaline and other hormones and helps us to get out of a bad situation. The stress itself in that situation is not good, we don’t want to be chased by a bear, but the stress helps to save us from a bad situation.

The Dark Side

Why do I say managing stress is more important than what you eat? Long term, unmanaged stress is known to be a health issue. According to the Harvard Medical School “New Research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging process”.  I know I certainly don’t want to age any faster than normal!

You may say “Sure, stress is bad, but I know if I get gluten, even by Cross Contact, I WILL get sick. I won’t necessarily get sick right away from stress.” Perhaps that is so, but that might not always be true. It used to be that unless I got completely and utterly stressed out for days I would not get sick. Unfortunately that has changed.  Now unless I manage my stress properly I get sick fairly quickly. When I say quickly I mean within an hour or so. My neck locks up and starts to hurt and my stomach hurts just as much as if I ate gluten. I always knew I should not be stressed, but I never thought I would be here.

How do we balance the two?

Where do we go from here then? I am not saying we should not be concerned about what we eat. Yes we should! Staying away from food that makes us sick is super important! How we go about it is what matters.

How stressed does it make you to go out to eat? Can you comfortably ask the questions you need to determine if it is safe to eat there? Or does it amp your stress level up to try and figure out what is and is not safe on the menu? I know I have certainly been there. Choose not to go out to eat, or only go out when you are not already stressed.

Does your job require such a huge commitment from your life that you have no time for the other things you need to do, or the time to spend with your family? Remember they will not be paying the medical expenses for your heart attack in 30 years brought on by your stress, or help you put your family back together because you were not there.

Ask the question first are these “requirements” actually there or are they self-imposed? Am I making myself do more than my boss actually requires? Do I really have to work 5 hours on Saturday when I should be at my kids soccer game? Do I truly have to be subject to every whim of this customer?

The answer to those questions could be yes or no. If the answer is no, than stop! Fantastic customer service is crazy important, it’s even more important to care for your family though! If someone cannot understand that, maybe they need to go away, or you need to go away. I’m NOT saying go out right now and quit. I am saying start asking questions, possibly erect proper boundaries, and maybe even start looking for another job.

Off Kilter Brownies is not my sole job at this point. I would like it to be that one day Lord willing but it is not yet. I have certain boundaries I have erected for my day job to help mitigate stress. My work phone effectively turns off on Friday night and I don’t turn it back on until Monday. There are ways people can get a hold of me if they TRULY need to. Sometimes I will check it mid-weekend just in case, sometimes I don’t. There is basically nothing that cannot wait until Monday morning.

It’s Not Just Allergies

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking “That is all well and good, but I don’t have food allergies, so saying managing stress is more important than what you eat does not really apply to me.” That could be true, but what else do you care about? Many people care about eating healthy food. The same concept applies, especially for the little stuff.

Food additives and chemicals are a serious concern. The amount of round up that ends up in our food supply is scary. Is it truly feasible to make sure you never get anything that has ever potentially been sprayed though? Do you refuse to eat at a friend’s house because they are not as strict as you? Maybe you don’t refuse but do you get stressed out when you go over because you know they might use velvita in a dish? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excited about eating velvita, but is it going to kill you in one meal? Is it worth potentially ruining a relationship over? Is it worth making myself sick with worry because of what I might eat at my friend’s house? The answer to all of those is no.

You have a much higher likelihood of causing yourself long term physical harm by worrying all the time about making sure you avoid every drop of red 40, than you ever will by accidently having one drop. Yes what we eat is important. My wife and I care a ton about what we eat, but sometimes it’s just not worth it to worry. You take the steps to mitigate the risk and you move on.

 

I hope this has gotten you to think about the stress in your life. Is it always true that managing stress is more important than what you eat? Maybe not, but it is important as well. Monday we will talk about some ways to help deal with stress.

Take the time this weekend to relax, and take a deep breath. Whatever it is, it’s not the end of the world. Do what you can about it and then move on. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life as a friend of mine recently talked about.

Make it a tasty weekend folks,

Chris

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Is it healthier to eat gluten free? Part 2

Welcome back! Today we are going to continue talking about whether it is healthier to eat gluten free. If you missed Part 1 of “Is it Healthier to Eat Gluten Free?” yesterday please go check it out!

Yesterday we spoke about people choosing to eat gluten free because of the perceived health benefits and the fad diet aspect. Today we will continue on our list below.

Sensitivity to Gluten or Wheat

Sensitivity to Gluten or Wheat is the biggest reason people eat gluten free. I feel like that is an obvious statement, but I’ll say it anyway! This is a great reason to eat gluten free and it does mean it is healthier to eat gluten free!

Typical symptoms of sensitivity to gluten are: bloating, gas, headaches or migraines, diaria, constipation, achy joints, brain fog, lethargy, plus other minor symptoms depending on who you are. The common themes you will see is most of the symptoms are inflammation and irritant related.

The biggest issue for people from wheat or gluten is inflammation. Inflammation is what causes many of the gut issues, as well. Gluten inflames the gut lining which then becomes more sensitive, and it becomes even more irritated.

If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, I highly recommend you look into whether or not a gluten free diet would be right for you. I need to say here that I am not a doctor, so you should consult your primary care physician before doing anything crazy.

Eating Low Carb

Eating a low carb diet is another reason it could be healthier to eat gluten free. Low carb diets have been around for many years – anyone remember Atkins or South Beach? Paleo and Primal are not just about being low carb, but that does factor fairly significantly in them. Keto is focused almost entirely on reducing carbs.

If you are trying to eat low carb, going gluten free will help significantly. Remember, though, just because something says gluten or grain free does not mean it is better for you than the alternative! It is always better to substitute whole foods rather than a different processed food.

Paleo and Primal foods have some great benefits to them. The avoidance of processed sugar is one of the biggest. Often times it gets replaced with coconut sugar or dates. These are way better options. Are you then eating them every day because they are “approved”, though? As we discussed yesterday, just because something is on the “safe” list does not mean it is better for you, or should be consumed all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I sell brownies for a living. I think a good dessert is amazing and a worthwhile treat! I do not recommend you eat my brownies every day, though, even though it would be great for my business 😉

Some people may have ZERO tolerance for sugar or any sweetener that moves their blood sugar at all, but that is another story for another day. As a general rule for myself and most others, I have found that our bodies allow some wiggle room on what we consume. I want to eat the best food possible when I have that treat, whatever it may be. That is why we have pursued making the BEST brownies possible. I would rather eat less or even give up a food entirely until I can find that really good recipe! If a recipe or product does not make me totally happy, you will not find it on here.

Inflammation Removal Diet

As we discussed above, gluten and wheat are a source of inflammation in many people. There are those who argue it causes inflammation in all people, even those not sensitive. That is another story for another day, though. For more information on inflammation this is a great article from Mercola.

For those who know they have issues caused by inflammation such as achy joints, gluten would be one of the things to remove from their diet. Dairy, highly processed oils, sugar, and others also fall into that list.

Other Food Sensitivities

People with gluten intolerance frequently have other food allergies as well, sadly, and that can mean it is healthier to eat totally grain free.  Other grains, even gluten free ones, dairy, sugars, eggs, food additives, these are all possibilities. If you are still experiencing negative symptoms and you have eliminated gluten or another food, you might consider eliminating more foods to see if that improves things.

It is frequently recommended when you are trying to figure out what foods are affecting your health to follow an elimination diet. The basic theory is that you remove all of the foods that are likely to be affecting you  for at least 1-6 months and then slowly add 1 food back in at a time. This allows you to help determine if it’s actually gluten, or maybe dairy, or maybe it’s both! You also may discover an allergy you didn’t even know you had. I found out through doing the GAPS diet that I was sensitive to nightshades, which I would have never figured out otherwise.

I highly recommend you read up on this if you intend to go this path. The GAPS diet is one version of an elimination diet that has other aims as well. Here is another fairly good article about elimination diets as well.

Cross Reactivity between allergens is another reason that it is healthier to eat gluten free. Cross reactivity is when the immune system of the body reacts to a different allergen protean than you are actually allergic to. This happens because the proteins are very similar so the body thinks it is the same thing.  Here is a very detailed article on it.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many reasons it can be healthier to eat gluten free. It truly does benefit many people. Understand why you would be doing it though. There is no reason just to do something just because. Look for whole foods, that have been produced well, and properly, and don’t eat a ton of junk and you will be far better off than just simply going gluten free.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris