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Archive for July 30, 2013

Gluten Sensitivity – Are You Making This Rookie Error?

Are Gluten Free Products Keeping You Sick?

gluten free packaged foods

gluten free packaged foods may be harming your health


Being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity was like a saviour and a curse at the same time.

It was such a relief to finally know that gluten sensitivity was making me sick and what I needed to do in order to get better.

But… never eat soft, doughy bread again??? Really???
Not another Big Mac? Like, not even just one? Ever?

The only thing that made this whole gluten sensitivity thing easier to bear was learning there were some gluten free foods such as breads and pastas available (this was 10 years ago, the supermarket shelves were not heaving with them!).

Phase One of my post-gluten life consisted of trying every gluten free bread, pasta and cake product I could find. I scoured supermarkets and specialist websites. I became an authority.

Phase Two came when the packaged offerings had all been tried and I was fed up with sandwiches reducing themselves into breadcrumbs in my lunchbox. I wondered if I could re-create my favourite bready products myself? With the help of the internet, of course.
My kitchen became a laboratory. I tried to perfect that delicate balance of unfamiliar flours, eggs, vinegars, thickeners… It was the culinary equivalent of a historical re-enactment; trying to capture that elusive elasticity of gluten using fancy new saviours such as xanthan gum.
I was obsessed like Frankenstein working desperately to bring his monster to life.
My gluten free baking experiments were often a horror story too!

I spent a year in my kitchen.
And you know what I learnt about recreating gluten free versions of favourite foods?
Don’t bother.
Because not only will they never taste as good as your memories, you will likely delay the healing in your gut.

And healing your gut is the key to recovering your overall health.

Those cocktails of rice flour, maize flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, guar gum, etc, are not doing your damaged intestines any favours. In fact, they are likely to be keeping you sick.
Those flours may be technically gluten free (although this is debatable and another blog post on its own), but they are still concentrations of finely ground starchy carbohydrates.
They are spiking your blood sugar and keeping you in a vicious cycle of energy depletion. Not to mention the increased risk of diabetes, a condition closely associated with gluten sensitivity/coeliac disease.
These grain flours and concentrated extracts can still irritate your intestines, preventing healing and compromising absorption of nutrients. This again leaves you bereft of energy and also keeps your body under-nourished, unable to repair itself.

These are just two of the many reasons why you will not fully heal and recover until you get over your obsession with gluten-like foods.

This is the reason why so many gluten sensitive and allergic people do not get better on a gluten free diet. If you just replace your old favourites with gluten free substitutes, you are simply replacing gluten with a cocktail of other irritants.

What is the solution?

Real, whole foods. Forget the white powders. Eat real food instead.

This way, your gut can begin to heal the damage, your blood sugar can start to regulate itself and your body will feel safe. When your body feels safe, your whacked-out immune responses will normalise. Only then are you on the road to recovery and reducing your risk of developing further auto-immune diseases.

And you know what? In a short time you will adapt. Your taste buds will recover and you will enjoy the taste and texture of foods other than soft, doughy-ness. You will forget what your old favourites tasted like and you won’t miss them (honest!). If you approach this with the right attitude and celebrate your recovering health, the thought of ‘cheating’ will never feel worth it.

And you don’t have to feel denied. You can enjoy food that actually tastes of something instead of simply being a carrier for other flavours or a method of packaging fillings.
You can enjoy healthy, guilt-free versions of your favourite treats in the knowledge that your body still feels safe and satisfied.

And we all need a little treat every now and then!
That’s why I created this new recipe for grain-free, guilt-free chocolate brownies.
You can enjoy a treat that gets its sweetness naturally from real foods that retain their fibre content. That fibre will keep your blood sugar stable and also means you won’t feel the need to binge on them – you will feel satisfied with less.

gluten free grain free chocolate brownies

sign up to get this grain-free choc brownie recipe

Bake up a batch of these and keep them in the fridge all week. Like people, they get better with age ;-)

This recipe is one of five smart swaps for starchy carbs that I have compiled in my latest free ebook.
You can sign up here for a free download of the book:
No Pasta? No Bread? WTF Do I Eat Instead?! EBook Download

Take Action Now

  • Sign up for your free copy of my EBook
  • Share this post with anyone who needs to know that eating packaged gluten free foods will not make them feel better.
  • Comment and tell me if you plan to try the Grain Free Guilt Free Brownies recipe.


Bread-Free Wraps – Your Lunchtime Saviour!

Bread, bread, bread… what to eat instead???!
bread free wraps

Finding healthy, tasty, EASY replacements for lunchtime sandwiches and on-the-go bites is by far the biggest challenge for anyone reducing their bread intake.

These days it is easier as mini marts stock shelves of colourful salads with dinky plastic cutlery…

But what if you don’t want a dressing with a zillion ingredients to it?

What if you’re not sure it has no gluten lurking in the unpronounceable additives?

What if you actually want to choose your own filling?!

These wraps are your path to freedom!
Freedom to create your own delicious lunches and snacks, knowing you are eating healthful ingredients.
Once made, they keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, meaning you can make up a batch and have them on hand to save you from reaching for the bread loaf.
They also freeze well and defrost quickly. Just take them out of the freezer the night before and they’re good to go in the morning.
Tip: make up your filling the night before too, so you can grab both as you fly out the door in the morning.

Not only are these great because they contain no sugar-spiking, digestion-disrupting grains, they are veggie based so you get better nutrition and they don’t need any added salt. The fibre in the veggies mean you get sustained energy and you can tick one of your daily veg portions off the list ;-)

If you’re concerned because you’re not a huge fan of cauliflower, please just give these a try because they don’t taste overly cauliflowery!
And if you’re really not keen on cauliflower, they taste absolutely amazing made with broccoli instead! Click Here for Broccoli Wraps Recipe

The only thing that makes these wraps too good to be true?
They won’t make themselves! Yup, you’re going to have to set aside 30-40 minutes to make a batch.
But if you are prepared to do that, I think you will be as converted to them as I am.
After all, not only are they gluten free and veggie-based, they have taste! You can replace that floury tortilla wrap or bland white sliced bread with something that actually has flavour. Who knew!

Here we go with the extensive ingredients list…


200 grams Cauliflower (approx. 4 large florets)
2 Eggs
Olive Oil
Yup. That’s it!

Equipment you will need:

  • This recipe is written with the use of a hand (stick) blender. You can make it with a jug blender.
    If you don’t have either, you can even make them with the use of a grater or even just a knife and some commitment ;-)
  • Baking sheets – preferably 2 of them, each big enough to fit two 15cm (6 inch) diameter wraps on it.
  • Greaseproof/Baking Paper
  • A wide, flat spatula/fish slice, preferably a non-stick one rather than metal

Make The Magic

Magician’s Note: I have been experimenting with the best method to make these for weeks. But honestly, if you have different equipment to me, just experiment because it’s very difficult to get these wrong.

  1. Preheat oven to 190c / 370f
  2. Prepare your baking sheets by cutting greaseproof paper to fit each. Place a piece of paper on each baking sheet, pour a teaspoon size of oil on each and brush evenly over the whole surface [yes, you’re applying oil to greaseproof paper – trust me ;-)
  3. Next you need to get your cauliflower down to the finest texture you can:
    My favourite method for this is to chop them up roughly and then transfer to a measuring jug.
    Then I use my hand blender to really mush it up as fine as possible.
  4. Add the 2 eggs to the mushed up cauliflower and keep blending until it’s as fine as you can get it.
  5. Add a Tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture and blend again briefly.
  6. In the centre of one half of a baking sheet, spoon 2 Tbsp of your cauli mixture.
  7. Spread the mixture with the back of the spoon to create a roughly 6 inch round. It will be thin but make sure it’s even and you can’t see the paper beneath.
  8. Repeat this to make three more rounds on your baking sheets.cauliflower wraps on baking sheet
  9. Place on two shelves in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven.
  11. Carefully grab the baking paper with one hand and gently ease your spatula between the wrap and the paper to loosen it from the paper. Work around the edges of the wrap. It doesn’t matter if some of the wrap sticks to the paper, it’s the inside of the wrap anyway.
  12. When you have all of the wraps worked loose and free, flip them over on the baking paper and put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
    You can fold them in half at this stage if you like as they are at their most malleable.grain free wraps

Once cooled, you can store these in freezer bags. They will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for longer.

Use instead of flour wraps or bread sandwiches and enjoy with your favourite filling!

Take Action Now:

Please comment below and tell me if you are prepared to invest the time to make these delicious wraps. If not, what would stop you?

Is Gluten Getting You Down? The BEST Way To Find Out For Sure

is gluten getting you down

Do you ever worry that your low moods, brain fog and lethargy are actually [gasp!] depression?

I remember driving back early from work with yet another migraine.

Barely able to concentrate, crying and so depressed, I contemplated simply driving straight on into the trees instead of turning into the bend ahead.
I mean, I felt lifeless anyway so what was the point of this constant battle?

At that time, the only thing that stopped me was the thought that I might not succeed and end up in more pain than I already was!

I didn’t know then that the root cause of my symptoms was something I was eating every day.
Gluten almost killed me. It was making my body sick, but it also almost drove me to kill myself.

Do you feel like you just can’t cope with everyday stresses as well as other people?

Exhausted. All. The. Time.! Can’t think straight and your memory is so bad these days?

Maybe it’s your age??? Like, WHAT?! Already???

I felt like this at age 30, but it took me years to figure out that gluten was the cause of my craziness! And there is growing scientific evidence to suggest it could be the same for you.

One of the lesser known effects of gluten intolerance is that it can fundamentally affect your cognition.

Awareness of celiac disease and gluten sensitivities has thankfully become more prominent in recent years. But most information covers physical effects such as bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and physical fatigue.
Not so much is said about the effects gluten can have on our minds, our emotions, memory and thought processes.

But these symptoms can often be associated with gluten and can be equally devastating when you’re suffering with them.

What’s happening in your body?

When you are sensitive to gluten, your gut becomes inflamed and the walls of your intestines become damaged and permeable. This is often referred to as leaky gut syndrome.
These leaks in your intestines allow food particles and other pathogens to travel from your intestines and into other parts of your body…

It’s a complicated process but put very basically, these particles travel via the bloodstream and set off a myriad of responses in your body:

  • They cause inflammation in your organs.
  • They trigger an immune response that can lead to many different auto-immune diseases (ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc)
  • They disrupt the production of hormones in your brain, thyroid and adrenal glands

Think about what you know so far about being happy…

I bet it includes references to ‘happy hormones’, right?

Or maybe you’ve heard that depression is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’?

If you’ve googled your symptoms you may even have come across the term ‘adrenal fatigue’

The common factor in all of these is that they each describe some type of hormonal activity.
And a leaky gut can cause havoc with those hormones as your immune system goes to war on the invaders infiltrating your body.

In addition to hormone disruption, gluten can be a real bitch to your ability to absorb and use nutrients vital to the health of your nervous system and brain function.

When your intestines are damaged by gluten, it reduces your ability to absorb nutrients from your food. These vital nutrients include the B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium and chromium, and essential fatty acids that help keep your brain and nerve function healthy.

It makes sense to at least rule out gluten as a possible cause of your symptoms.

So, what do you do?

As a health coach, my first suggestion would be to try an elimination diet, excluding all gluten (and possibly other common allergenic foods) for at least 2 weeks.
If you have a busy life this can sound like such a daunting prospect!
But it really is the best way to find out for sure if gluten is causing or exacerbating your symptoms.

I often lead clients through the process of an elimination diet and this involves much more than just waking up one day and deciding you won’t eat any more gluten!
To be successful it takes forward planning and a good serving of practical and emotional preparation.

Your First Step [It’s probably not what you think]

The most important step in this process is to actually decide you want to do it and make a commitment.
Sounds obvious, right?! But it’s so important to give this step the attention it deserves because it will see you through the challenges ahead.

Take time to acknowledge your resistance points. By this I mean those thoughts that stop you from taking the plunge. Those things that you tell yourself in your head, such as:

“It will be so inconvenient to think of what to eat when I’m busy”

“I have no idea what to eat instead of pasta and sandwiches!”

“I’m worried that my loved ones will think I’m over-the-top if I do this”

Write all of these resistances down. Don’t skip this! This process gets them out of your head and helps you to formulate solutions and move forward.
Better yet, ask someone supportive to go through your list with you. Simply acknowledging these resistances weakens them.

When you do this, you give yourself the impetus to take action. Trust me, this really works!

Take Action Now:

Do you have something stopping you from finding out if gluten could be the culprit of your symptoms? Tell me!
Use the form below to tell me your biggest concern or question about trying an elimination diet. I can help by answering you in future blog posts (don’t worry, I won’t use your name).
Whatever your resistance is, I guarantee you won’t be the only person that has it. You can help yourself and others by submitting your concern.


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