Saturday, August 29, 2009


I myself think that most veal cannot be trusted, so I do not eat it.

However, I am a fan of a certain BBC America show called The F Word. In a very recent episode, one of Gordon Ramsay's friends, Janet Street-Porter, raised two veal calves to raise awareness about British veal. There's an interview about it here.

I was absolutely touched by this episode. The animals were well cared for, and we as the viewers were able to accompany them to a small, family-owned slaughterhouse.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to watch, but I did.

Up to the moment the animals were stunned with a captive bolt gun, they were under no stress at all. They were not frightened. They were calm and placid up to the end.

I was completely impressed.

I think many people feel that those of us who do eat meat are "for" factory farming. I myself am not. Most people who believe in real food are against factory farming. It's unhealthy for the animals, which in turn is unhealthy for us. I certainly do not want to eat food that has been made to suffer unduly. But in addition, meats that are conventionally raised are just bad for us in general.

The fat in conventionally raised beef, for example, has a terrible profile. It's very high in omega 6 fats, which is not good for you.

In order to get meat that is high in omega 3 fats, the animals need to be fed a species-appropriate diet. The feed that beef cattle are generally fed -- corn and soy -- is not what they'd be eating in the wild.

Currently, my finances do not allow me to buy the quality of meat I would like to buy. I do the best I can with what I can afford, and I take fish oil capsules to raise the levels of omega 3 fats that I consume.

But I do applaud The F Word for its unflinching view of slaughterhouse practices, and its commitment to local, healthy, and sustainable ingredients.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

tropical traditions coconut oil... free book offer

Tropical Traditions sent me a big jar of their gold label coconut oil to try out and report my findings.

I've always wanted to incorporate more coconut oil into my diet, but I've had trouble doing so before. I was never really sure what the heck I was supposed to do with it. I was also concerned that the flavor would be overwhelming.

First off, I just want to say that the coconut oil was packaged beautifully in a very sturdy box. I was impressed as soon as I opened the box.

They also sent me a copy of their book, Virgin Coconut Oil. In it is the rather harrowing account of how they brought virgin coconut oil to the United States (they were the first exporter in the Philippines to do so).

There's information on how their coconut oil is different from the refined products in stores, on the way they continue to use traditional methods to harvest it, and on coconut's antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties -- which should pique the interest of anyone on SCD!

They also assured me that their coconut oil is 100 percent coconut and thus suitable for SCDers. They also provided me with a link to other specifically gluten free products. Please feel free to contact them regarding any further product information -- they have been very communicative!

The book also has lots of first-person accounts on the many ways coconut oil has benefited people, and there are a ton of recipes in the back.

I have to say, I enjoyed my trial period. Here are some of the ways I ended up using coconut oil:

Cooking: I tried coconut oil in a few Indian skillet meals that already called for coconut milk. It added a sweeter flavor, without adding additional carbs from sugar or honey.

I do not like the smell of coconut oil when it first heats up, but I did try scrambling some eggs in it as well. I sprinkled a bit of salt and cloves on them. Cinnamon would be good too along with a bit of honey. They taste like french toast eggs!

Cradle cap: My son is six years old and still has cradle cap. It's not too surprising -- he has gut dysbiosis, and cradle cap is fungal in nature. I've treated my son's head for a while with coconut oil, and guess what? Refined oils do not work on it at all. I tried the Tropical Traditions coconut oil and it worked fine. So it's definitely up to snuff in that regard.

Eating it straight: I decided to try eating it straight from the spoon, as others have reported doing. I was pleased to notice that the coconut flavor was pronounced, and there was a definite sweetness to it. It tasted surprisingly good this way.

Body moisturizer: My son has always had extremely dry skin. I tried the coconut oil on myself first, and I was pleased to note that the coconut smell was not completely overwhelming, and it faded within a few hours even further. If you are careful and don't use too much oil, it absorbs quickly. I was surprised at how little I needed.

Face moisturizer: Whoa, nelly. A very teeny bit goes a long, long, long way. Please keep this in mind.

Hair conditioner: I tried a small amount in the shower and ended up with an incredibly slippery tub. Use with care!

Here's a little video interview with Brian Shilhavy, CEO of Tropical Traditions:

You can visit the Tropical Traditions site and check out their other products too. They have sales all the time! I want to try their coconut cream next -- I hear you can use the coconut cream to make very inexpensive coconut milk.

How to get your free book!

Tropical Traditions has a Referral Program, so if you place an order with them as a first-time customer, please select “Referred by a friend” and in the box that says “How did you hear of us?” enter my sponsor ID number, which is 5376580. By telling Tropical Traditions that I referred you, you will receive a complimentary copy of the book Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours! by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy with your first order!

Hope you give it a try! I'm really glad I did, and I will definitely be ordering from them again soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

win free organic coconut flakes

Fellow blogger Christy at Christy's Creations is giving away a WHOLE gallon of organic unsweetened coconut flakes from the good people at Tropical Traditions.

I would kill to have some of these. All the coconut you buy in the store is SWEETENED. Ew, gross. No thank you.

Enter to win here!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

real food

I want to take a moment to clear up some misconceptions that I think are out there regarding not only myself, but other people who are trying to educate the public on the benefits of real foods as well as lower carb eating plans.

Let's go through a few points, simply.

I believe in real food. I think that most of the food that's commonly consumed by people the world over is not good for us. I think refined grains and sugars have damaged the health of many individuals in irreparable ways that we have only started to understand.

What's worse, however, is that people do not yet realize exactly how damaging these foods can be. In my case, had I not done my own research, I would be crippled and confined to a wheelchair today. I truly believe that.

One diet does not necessarily fit all. While I do believe that most people should be dumping grains and sugars into the garbage can where they belong, I realize that for some people, their health, weight, and state of functioning is not adversely affected by a high carb way of eating. Some people are genetically lucky. Some people will not have problems at all until late in life.

But there are many people who will have problems long before that. And doctors then do those people a disservice by telling them to continue following a high carb, low fat diet plan. They are putting people into early graves with this misguided advice. I hope that with my blog, I am letting people know that there are alternatives that have been proven through scientific study -- alternatives to that low fat, high carb diet -- that WILL work to dramatically lower your blood pressure, reduce your weight, and lower your triglyceride levels (which is far more important than lowering your total cholesterol).

I also believe many people suffer from undiagnosed food intolerances. It is crucially important for people to figure out for themselves which foods work for them and which do not. In my experience, the only definitive way to do this is through an elimination diet. The Pecanbread web site has an intro diet that qualifies.

Once you know what you can eat and what you can't, then you have your eating plan. It doesn't get more personalized than that!

The SCD diet is not just for autistic kids, or just for those with colitis and Crohn's. While the SCD works very well for those conditions, there are many stories from parents on the Pecanbread Yahoo! group regarding other conditions. Among them are rheumatoid arthritis (myself), attention deficit disorder, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and multiple sclerosis.

Diets that are free from refined starches and sugars are anti-inflammatory in nature. Inflammation can take many forms throughout the body, and its role in many disorders is only just recently coming to light.

We did not evolve to eat high amounts of carbohydrates. This relates to my previous point. Most high carb foods are foods made with refined sugars and starches.

Of course, there are people who can definitely eat more carbs than others. Most low carb eating plans have a way of figuring out exactly how many carbs you can eat before you start to suffer ill effects. For some people, it's quite a lot. For others, it's not.

The point is, just because you can eat Twinkies without ill effects does not mean you should. This returns to point number one, about real food.

There's a reason that the SCD mantra is "Make it yourself!"

Be well.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

gluten free, casein free

As school is right around the corner, we're trying to figure out what to send with my son for school lunches.

I'm going to send him with cooked chicken in salads, or hamburgers on bread made with almond butter. I make homemade ketchup and I have found mustards that don't have added sugars or mystery spice blends. If he were at a school where almond butter was not allowed, I would send his sandwich with a bread I can make with eggs. It holds together well. He also liked hard boiled eggs.

Now, this is not your typical gluten free, casein free fare (although most of his meals would fall under this guideline). My son has autism, and he is on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), 100 percent of the time. What that means is that he eats no grains, no potatoes, no soy, no cow dairy (as per the autistic recommendations on the Pecanbread site), and no corn.

It's easier to talk in terms of what he CAN eat, which is most meats (with no broths/flavorings), eggs, goat cheddar, almond butter, and small amounts of honey and fruit juices (usually diluted and made into gelatin).

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about GFCF diets, and why they don't create huge, wonderful results for some autistic kids.

We went on the GFCF diet first with Clark, before SCD. I had a leg up in this area; I had already been avoiding gluten for about a year before Clark was diagnosed. So I already knew about the link.

Many, many parents have found that going off gluten and casein (the protein found in dairy) has helped their autistic kids.

But for many of those kids, after going GFCF, they've traded one addiction for another.

Picky eating habits are often demonstrated by autistic kids to an extreme. They simply will not eat more than a few foods. Almost universally those foods are high in simple starches, sugars, wheat, and/or dairy.

It is not uncommon to find an autistic child who eats nothing but potato chips, for example.

When parents realize that their child's eating habits resemble that of a drug addict (the drug being food), many times they switch over to a gluten free, casein free diet. There is usually some improvement.

But then, as time goes on, the child just replaces the old addictive foods with new ones -- and their diet is still starch plus sugar. Gluten free diets are often very high in refined starches.

Now, my son has never been as picky as some other autistic kids. I've never been a picky eater either. However, I can't deny that eating my son's gluten free bread made me extremely irritable. I personally did not see that many changes in my son when he went GFCF either. It took a test -- a plate of wheat pasta -- to see what a huge change had actually occurred. The week following that plate of pasta was one of the saddest of our lives, because "new" Clark was gone, and "old" Clark was back in business.

But still, I did not see the huge improvements that other parents had seen. Yes, my son was better -- but was there something I was missing?

I started researching diets, and I came across the SCD. This was where I found my answers.

Most gluten free breads are filled with easily digestible starches. They hit your bloodstream much like pure sugar.

In autistic kids, the parent may misinterpret this to mean the GFCF diet will not work for their child when in fact their child likely needs MORE than just a restriction in gluten and casein to see real results.

To break this cycle, my son and I went on the SCD. It is very much in line with Paleo diets. Humans did not evolve to eat grains, nor did they evolve to eat corn and starchy potatoes morning, noon, and night.

The difference in my son was remarkable once we eliminated all of those simple sugars and starches. Many other autistic children have had similar success, especially with correcting bowel problems which plague many autistic children. As the SCD was originally only used to treat colitis and Crohn's, this makes a lot of sense.

But the best part is that suddenly, in many cases, these children who would NEVER even think about trying a food outside of their sugar and starch-soaked world -- they start to try new foods!

And they start to like them.

If you would like more information on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I have some links in my sidebar to the Pecanbread site and Yahoo! group.

It has been used to treat autism as well as IBD, colitis, Crohn's, and rheumatoid arthritis in my case. Paleo-style diets have a high rate of success in treating a number of conditions. Many people suffer from undiagnosed food intolerances, and since Paleo diets eliminate many of the top food allergens, they help restore balance to the body.

If you have digestive healing to do, you may need to go through "the stages" and I urge you to check out for advice.

So take a moment to REALLY think about food, if you're gluten free, or GFCF. Just because it's labeled "gluten free" does not mean it's healthy. Whole, real foods are the way to go.

Friday, August 7, 2009

gordon ramsay

I admit, I have something of an unholy love for all things Gordon Ramsay.

I have been indulging in his programs nearly nightly since I became unemployed.

I know a lot of people think he's a jerk. I don't. I see him as a man who is committed to standards, and he gets upset when people don't hold themselves to a high standard.

I can respect that. A lot.

I hold myself to standards that I consider to be unreasonably high at times. I am so hard on myself that I get angry when I am criticized by others, not because they are challenging my genius, but because I've already heard the critique in my own mind.

But anyway, throughout all of my struggles to find out what kinds of foods my son and I could eat, I lost my passion for cooking somewhere along the way.

I've always enjoyed cooking. I grew up in my grandmother's kitchen, who was a full blooded Italian woman. Until I was 10 years old, I lived below her with my parents, brother, and sister in a duplex. I sat next to her while she chopped salads and baked nut breads. During holiday baking sessions, my siblings and I would pound up and down the stairs all day long, carefully sorting a dozen varieties of cookies into tins with waxed paper between the layers, to await Christmas.

As time went on, I learned how to cook without making any of the recipes I'd known and loved since I was a child. I remember that I used to be so proud, making my grandmother's Easter bread recipe, passed down through the generations. That all went away.

And as time went on, I think I became a little bit embarrassed by it.

One day, my husband wanted to try something I made for my son and myself. I let him try it, expecting that he would hate it. After all, I didn't think of it as really cooking. I was just making food for my son and myself. It wasn't anything special.

Well, he liked it. A lot.

I started to think that maybe my new, simple recipes and methods of cooking might not be that bad.

Around this time, Gordon Ramsay entered my life.

Through watching Kitchen Nightmares (I far prefer the BBC's edition), Gordon constantly urged restauranteurs to keep their recipes simple. At some point during the program, he would start to cook. And nine times out of ten, the recipe would be something that I could actually make and eat, with few adjustments. When he described his broccoli soup recipe as just broccoli and water, I was amazed.

And I started to feel proud of the food I made again.

A week or so ago, I finally succeeded in making a piece of salmon that wasn't overcooked. I put garlic butter on it. And my husband, who HATES fish in all forms, actually tried it. And he LIKED it!

Today, I sauteed some asparagus and leftover chicken in garlic butter. It wasn't quite right, so I added some goat cheddar to it. That did the trick. It tasted wonderful! I will have to work on the proportions, but there was some real potential there.

I'm no longer afraid to experiment, and if something tastes good, I trust myself.

I don't have fancy pans or fancy ingredients. I cook a lot of things in my $2 nonstick pan from Ikea. But I can pull together ingredients right from my pantry or fridge, and make something that tastes good.

And I am starting to find that pride again.