We first tasted zucchini pasta at a raw food restaurant a few years ago and were blown away by how similar it is to regular noodles only with some very notable health benefits. This article compares regular pasta to the veggie version and reveals that a normal bowl of pasta has 581 calories and 121g of carbs whereas a similar portion of zucchini pasta has just 30 calories and 6.2g of carbs. Say no more! Read
Lots of us enjoy trying something fresh for the New Year. And since many of you have been buzzing about going gluten-free, we thought we’d explore it further. If you feel like you don’t understand all the fuss, you are not alone. With so much media attention, going gluten-free is quickly becoming a fad diet that people are just latching onto. Many people believe that if they just switched to gluten-free foods, they will lose weight. While this is not entirely true, we do find a lot of our patients benefit from a gluten-free diet and some have a legitimate gluten sensitivity. If you are sensitive to gluten (99% of gluten sensitive people are not aware of it), removing it from your diet will change your life! If you are not gluten sensitive, replacing foods with gluten-free junk food may actually be adding to a weight problem, as many of these foods are highly processed and high in calories, carbs and fat.
Do you know what gluten is?Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats. Gluten is not inherently bad, it is only when our body reacts negatively that it can cause problems. And these problems can be completely unrelated to digestion. That being said, digestive problems like irritable bowl disease, chronic constipation or loose stool, and inflammatory bowl diseases like ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease can all be associated with or exacerbated by food sensitivities. The New England Journal of Medicine lists 55 other seemingly unrelated conditions associated with gluten sensitivity including: osteoporosis, anemia, rosacea, chronic fatigue, restless leg syndrome, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, eczema and psoriasis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and almost all other autoimmune diseases. It can also be linked to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, neuropathy, and autism.
Gluten sensitivity historically has been thought of in the medical world as Celiac Disease. It was rarely diagnosed, and was often only considered in children who had chronic diarrhea. But we are discovering symptoms appearing to be unrelated to a digestive imbalance can actually be cause by eating something as normal as a piece of bread. Why this sudden increase in gluten intolerance? It is likely due to the genetic modification of wheat and other grains recently introduced in our agriculture and diet. Almost all wheat flour in America has been genetically modified to have a much higher gluten content than ever before, making our breads doughy and fluffy. The down side of all this gooey dough is that many of us who may have a minor sensitivity to gluten are reacting much more intensely than before.
If you’ve been suffering from chronic fatigue, MS, depression or any of the above mentioned symptoms and haven’t been able to find relief, it might be worth it to try a gluten-free lifestyle. There are many drugs and treatments available to treat the manifestations of gluten sensitivity, but the only way to truly cure yourself, if this is indeed your problem, is to completely avoid gluten.
The real problem with consuming gluten when your body is sensitive is that the reaction creates inflammation in the body. Inflammation is at the root of all the major killers in our medical system including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Recent studies have come out showing you don’t have to have full blown celiac to be at risk for complications associated with gluten sensitivity. Even just having the antibodies circulating, without inflammation in the gut or testing positive for celiac, increases risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and other related inflammatory diseases by up to 35%.
Discovering whether or not you are sensitive to gluten can be done in several different ways. The simplest and cheapest is to completely remove gluten from your diet for at least two (and up to six) weeks. If after 2-6 weeks some of your symptoms have disappeared, or if you notice you feel more energized and clear headed, you may have a sensitivity to gluten. You can test your theory by adding it back into your diet and seeing how you feel in the following days. If you notice your symptoms returning, you are sensitive to gluten and would benefit from avoiding it most of the time. If you are keeping track on your own, it is helpful to keep a food journal to record what you ate and how you felt afterward. A doctor who is well acquainted with gluten sensitivities can also test your blood and/or saliva for antibodies related to gluten or for the genes associated with celiac.
Some tips to follow when adapting a gluten-free lifestyle:
- Avoid any product made with wheat, barley, rye, kamut or oats (bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, pastries, cookies, pretzels, flour tortillas, pie crusts, etc.)
- Hidden sources of gluten include the following: soy sauce, BBQ sauce, “meat-free” meat, couscous, beer, whiskey, envelope and stamp adhesive (!),
some lipsticks, and soups thickened with flour.
- When in doubt at a restaurant, mention to your server that you are gluten sensitive and ask for guidance with the menu.
- Try products made with brown rice, corn, amaranth, millet, potato, tapioca starch, soy, garbanzo bean flour, and quinoa.
- Try wheat-free tamari sauce instead of soy sauce and thicken your soups with corn starch.
- Look for the “gluten-free” label, but keep in mind that just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t make it calorie free.
Few things are more comforting than a boiled egg with toast soldiers, a sandwich on crusty bread or a cake with afternoon tea. But for the millions of people who suffer from gluten intolerance these pleasures are denied. At the YinOva Center we’re familiar with the territory. Quite a number of our patients are allergic to gluten and suffer from inflammation when they eat wheat. Some of these people have full blown Celiac Disease, which is a common autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine, and some are just mildly gluten intolerant. These patients feel better if they avoid wheat, barley and rye which used to mean missing out on some favorite foods. These days, however, there are such great gluten-free alternatives that no one need feel deprived.
I made this gluten-free summer squash bread to use up an over-abundance of patty pan squash from our garden and make a tasty treat for a friend with a wheat allergy. Using Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix I was able to accommodate my friend’s allergy without sacrificing taste and by using agave nectar I managed to avoid processed sugar too. The result was a moist loaf that wasn’t too sweet.
A word of warning about baking with agave nectar: When I first made this loaf I used 1 cup of sugar instead of 1/4 cup of agave nectar. This gave a a sweet loaf with a cake-like texture. For health reasons I wanted to make the cake less sweet, less high calorie and without processed sugar so chose I chose to substitute a small amount of agave nectar for the cup of sugar. This gave a loaf that was more moist and less sweet. More like a tea bread. We loved it but if you like a sweeter cake and don’t mind using sugar, feel free to use it instead. One more word of warning a loaf baked with agave nectar will seem rather too moist when it first comes out of the oven but does dry out as it cools.
Ingredients2 cups Pamela’s Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix 2 tbsp ground flax seed 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamon 3/4 tsp salt pinch of ground nutmeg 2 cups grated summer squash 1 tsp grated lemon zest 1/4 cup oil 2 eggs 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp agave nectar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Grease a loaf pan
- Grate the summer squash and put it in a colander over the sink to drain off some of it’s moisture.
- In a large mixing bowl mix together the baking mix, ground flax seed, ground cardamon, ground nutmeg, lemon zest and salt
- In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until combined
- Fold in the grated summer squash and almonds
- Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean
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