Archive for February, 2018

February 26, 2018

Forget Mindfulness!

Mindfulness pshaw. Forget Mindfulness! What I need is a little MindLESSness!

Don’t get me wrong, my life is filled with mindful practices and I believe they’re important. I practice yoga 3 or 4 times a week. I may squeeze in a guided meditation. And, I’m immersed in a Daring Way class where I’m learning to practice empathy that includes mindfulness. There’s nothing WRONG with mindfulness. In fact, sitting in the moment and being present has led me to recognize that I am worn out!

I need to turn my mind off temporarily. I don’t want to consider anything. I don’t want to answer a text, send an email, or read any research. I don’t want to cook a meal, test a recipe, or review any video. I don’t want to pay a bill, wash a dish, or plan anything! And I know I don’t have the emotional energy to listen with empathy to someone who is making my life more difficult. I just don’t have it in me.
mug
I want to lie in the sun, feel it’s warmth and ENJOY it rather than feeling like I need to dig up tulip bulbs from my yard while the soil is soft. I want to float in the pool and feel nothing but the softness of the water as it supports me. I want to savor my coffee in the morning and eat chocolate at leisure with some wine at night. I want to laugh at everything silly, jump in a pile of warm laundry, take a nap at 10am, find a new show to binge watch, or read a page turner.

Feeling carefree may not be achievable, but it’s a good goal.

It takes a lot for me to feel overloaded, but if there’s never any relief — no full day off, no carefree moments, not enough laughter, no one to depend on to pick up the ball when I drop it, I can get to a point where I’m constantly poised for the straw that may break me. It’s easy to say, set better boundaries so you don’t get overtaxed, but difficult to practice if you’re a caregiver, sole provider and parent, sole proprietor, or just financially strapped.

For me, it’s better to recognize and accept that I may not be up to any greater challenge than lying on the couch than to numb my feelings with food or alcohol, to lash out in anger, or to turn in a half-assed performance at work.

Is it difficult for me to admit this? YES!!!! I am driven to achieve, solve problems, and fix things.
It’s really hard to admit I may not be up to the task. While I know this is temporary, it feels huge and frightening!

It’s worth remembering that down time often provides powerful insight. It’s easy to think of doing nothing as time wasted, but that’s selling it short. Putting my mind in neutral allows it to travel paths it would otherwise miss.

I just talked to a friend on the phone who asked what I was writing. When I told him, he said, obviously taken aback, “That’s what you’re writing!?” I could tell he thought the decision was risky. But I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and maybe, just maybe, you need to know that because you need some mindlessness too.

So, if you’re in my boat, let’s just let it float with the current. We’ll be able to get back to shore when we need to. I’m certain of it.

http://thedaringway.com/

February 20, 2018

Is Your Gluten-Free Tummy Tied in Knots?

Is your gluten-free tummy tied in knots? You’ve given up your favorite Hawaiian bread, yeast rolls, biscuits & gravy, cake, crackers and doughnuts, but your tummy still feels like it’s tied in knots. That doesn’t seem fair! What’s going on?
knots
Before you grab a doughnut while pondering this question, keep in mind that gluten is not the source of all abdominal pain – even for a person with Celiac Disease.

In December, I contracted rotavirus (don’t believe anyone who says adults don’t get it). After a couple of miserable rounds of it, I could finally get off the couch and eat! The problem was, my system could no longer break down many foods. Almost two months down the road, I still have to avoid nuts and seeds, raw greens, and beef unless it’s shredded. I am slowly improving, but still often one food choice away from significant pain.

I have a friend who spent the bulk of 3 months on the bathroom floor after gall bladder surgery. Removing the source of the problem did not mean an instant end to her tummy troubles. She followed her doctor’s dietary recommendations, but her system adjusted much more slowly than anticipated.

One of my former employees has Crohn’s Disease that caused significant pain before she began a monthly regimen of chemotherapy. Now she has few restrictions and little pain.

There are many other medical conditions that cause stomach and abdominal pain – Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hiatal hernia, ulcer, kidney stone, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis, bowel blockage, hepatitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), parasitic infection, and urinary tract infection.

Sometimes the aftermath of another condition causes the stomach lining to become inflamed or swollen causing gastritis that results in abdominal pain.

The point is, you can be getting healthier after removing gluten from your diet and still experience tummy pain. I know, that sucks. And it makes things confusing. It’s one of those unfortunate, frustrating possibilities.

Another possibility is that you have learned through traumatic experiences to reroute emotions like terror, rage, horror, or helplessness to portions of your body where you then experience those emotions as physical pain. Most of us have experienced a sinking feeling in our gut as a result of fear or stress. Imagine if you multiplied that feeling in intensity, duration, and/or repetitiveness. The resulting feeling could be that your tummy is tied in knots.

The original response to a stress may have been emotional, but the resulting response to similar situation becomes physical pain. Untangling the messages of somatic experience can take time. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the origin of physical pain.

I’m aware that I’ve shared lots of words with you that are not definitive for determining why your tummy is tied in knots. Hopefully, something you read here will give you a starting point for describing your pain to your physician or therapist.

In the meantime, if you have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, I encourage you to stay the course with your gluten-free regimen. You may be getting better even if your tummy is tied in knots.

February 13, 2018

No Special Equipment Required for Gluten-Free Cooking, but Some Gadgets are Fun!

If you’re new to gluten-free cooking, you’ll be relieved to learn there’s no special equipment required to make a delicious gluten-free chocolate cake, Gouda muffin, or meatball from scratch. Everyone I know has everything needed already in their kitchen. With that said, there’s no hiding the fact that some gadgets are fun!
mixer
If you have a sharp knife, whisk, grater, food chopper or blender, you have all you need to make most recipes. If you want to bake, it’s also helpful to have a dough blender, and a mixer. I’m not big on small electric appliances, so I have an inexpensive food chopper, but no electric food processor, blender, mixer, juicer, toaster, rice cooker, waffle iron, or even coffee maker.
waffle
I drink coffee, but use a French press and make waffles using an antique cast iron waffle maker. Admittedly, my waffles might fare better with a nonstick waffle iron, but I love the simplicity and durability of the one I have. While I don’t want a bunch of appliances lining my countertops, I must confess that there are a few gadgets I love to use!
grater
Cube Grater
Last weekend I was grating garlic for scalloped potatoes using a small box grater. Made by Microplane®, this 3-sided cube has 3 different blades. None of them are specifically made for garlic, but I got a great result anyway.

The bladed cube comes in a slightly larger translucent cube marked with measurements. Grate your cheese, chocolate, or coconut into the larger cube and measure it at the same time! Add the top and you have an automatic storage container.

I like having tiny grated pieces automatically trapped in a container where I can easily scoop them into a teaspoon. I also love the efficiency of the blades. This tool just works well which makes it a pleasure to use.
zester
Zester
While we’re on the subject of Microplane graters, I’ve used my zester on a regular basis for years. Again, it works well! There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a kitchen tool that looks great, but doesn’t do the job. None of those will be making my list.

Rotary Hand Mixer
I use a rotary hand mixer for cake batter, whipped cream, and meringue. It looks a lot like an egg beater, but it’s much heavier and capable of mixing a thick batter.

Just before I moved into my first apartment, my father acquired an assortment of pots, pans, dishes, cups, metal mixing bowls, and kitchen tools from a restaurant. Seems this restaurant owed him some money that they didn’t have, so he decided to collect in what was available – kitchen and dining equipment. The timing was good. I needed to outfit an apartment, and Dad didn’t really want to sue.

The hand mixer I use today, came from that transaction. I used the pots and metal mixing bowls for years. They weren’t attractive, but they were large and functional. All that’s left now is the mixer. I’m grateful to have it. It’s a workhorse!

Dough Blender
Of the several dough blenders in my drawer, an old one with a red handle is my favorite! I found it in my mother’s kitchen. Like all of the old implements I use, it’s sturdy. I find the wires more effective for cutting fat into flour than the metal blades on a more modern model I own.
pitcher
Funnel Pitcher
The day I poured boiling water across my hand while attempting to fill a French press, I learned that I might need some assistance with my pouring aim. A funnel pitcher fits the bill. It’s easy to fill dessert glasses with panna cotta or create the perfect pancake using a funnel pitcher. I like these pitchers so much, I’ve given them as gifts so other people can like them too.

Looking back at this list, it appears that I like sturdy, functional, tools that work well. That sounds right. I don’t really care whether they’re new, old, or in between as long as they have the other characteristics.

I can make do without these tools and still create delicious gluten-free food, but a well-crafted utensil heightens my cooking experience and I like that. Hopefully, you have favorites that make your kitchen time more pleasant. If not, feel free to check out my favorites!

https://us.microplane.com/kitchen_en_us/cubegraterfamily.html

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

February 5, 2018

My Heart Will be Filled With Love and My Tummy With Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

My heart will be filled with love and my tummy with chocolate for Valentine’s Day! I’ll be keeping DJ, my 18-month-old grandson on Valentine’s Day this year. Along with a card, I’m giving him a real, working stethoscope. He’ll get to listen to his heart while we talk about hearts and lungs and friendship and love. Valentine’s Day holds many natural lessons. The chocolate, I’m saving for myself.

If your Valentine is gluten-free, you may be tempted to shower him/her with flowers, jewelry, movie tickets, or stethoscopes rather than food. There’s nothing wrong with any of those. Sometimes they’re my choices as well. But if you really want to score points, take on the challenge of cooking a homemade gluten-free dessert. It won’t be as hard as you think, and the thoughtfulness and effort are certain to touch the heart!
brownie and punch
Since chocolate is a tradition for Valentine’s Day, brownies can be a good choice. The only specialty products needed for the following recipe are a small amount of almond flour and coconut flour. These flours are widely available in regular grocery stores. (The almond flour may be called almond meal.)

If you cannot find almond or coconut flour in your area, they are available from Nuts.com, King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. or big box online retailers like Walmart and Amazon. All of the other ingredients are regular baker’s chocolate, brown sugar, butter, and the like.

There’s no special equipment needed to make this gluten-free Cooking2Thrive recipe, but a heart-shaped cookie cutter can add some romance to the finished product. Just wait until the brownies are cool before you cut them.
recipe card
Brownies
12 brownies

4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, rough chopped
1/2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, rough chopped
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup blanched almond flour
3 tbsp coconut flour + enough to flour baking pan
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup walnut pieces

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

Place butter, chocolate, and honey in sauce pan.  Heat over low until melted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool for 3 or 4 minutes.  

While chocolate is melting, whisk together almond flour, 3 tbsp coconut flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.  

Once chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, add vanilla, brown sugar, and egg to it and mix well. Add chocolate mixture to bowl with flour mixture and combine. Stir in walnut pieces.  

Pour batter into prepared 8 x 8 pan. Bake in 350° oven for 18 – 22 minutes. Cool on rack for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

It’s always comforting to have a gluten-free dish prepared by someone you trust, and food really does taste better when it’s prepared with love.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day filled with love and chocolate!

https://nuts.com/nuts/almonds/flour.html
https://nuts.com/cookingbaking/flours/coconut-gluten-free.html
https://search.kingarthurflour.com/search?w=almond%20flour&af=type:products
https://search.kingarthurflour.com/search?p=Q&view=grid&deftab=products&w=coconut+flour

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”