Tuesday, October 7, 2008

all about: HONEY and A Coconut Meringue Recipe (gluten free, SCD, dairy free)

For the last year and half I have been all about healing my family's gut issues through better nutrition. And yesterday, I decided that we could all use a little break from sugar. Of course, the first thing that I did was bake some cookies with honey! I realize that, to many people, this may seem like switching seats on the titanic, but honey seems to be okay on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

Like most fruits and vegetables, honey is monosaccharide and has one sugar molecule. Because of its simple molecular structure, the body doesn't need to break sugar down, and so it can immediately be used by the body. This means that honey will pass directly through the filter in the intestine and won't become waste for bad bacteria to eat. Unlike honey, sugar is a disaccharide and has two molecules. The body must use enzymes to break the sugar molecule apart in order for it to leave the gut and move through the lining of the intestine. Table sugar, brown sugar and milk are all disaccharides. Finally, polysaccharides are starches that contain many molecules that need to be split apart. Once again, the body must use enzymes to split these complex carbohydrates apart.

In people with normal gut flora, whatever isn't broken down will leave the body as waste, but in people with compromised gut flora, the undigested food becomes food for bad bacteria. Symptoms of yeast overgrowth are gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, hyperactivity, inattention, yeast infections, and irritability.

In the absence of healthy gut flora, people are unable to digest food and absorb nutrients properly. Interestingly, the beneficial bacteria actually synthesizes many crucial vitamins to keep our brains working in the absence of food. In addition, pathogenic bacteria in the gut can often end up consuming nutrients--especially iron. Supplementing iron often just feeds the pathogenic bacteria making them stronger. One solution is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which starves the unhealthy bacteria by removing the disaccharides and polysaccharides from the diet. Another option is to include probiotics. By increasing the healthy bacteria in the gut, you can crowd out the bad bacteria.

Here is my recipe for Meringues that seemed to make the whole no more sugar thing more do-able...

Coconut Nut Meringues

4 egg whites
1 cup raw organic honey
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (dessicatedor ground coconut works best)
1 cup ground raw nuts (we use cashews, but you can use almonds or pecans)

optional: pastry bag with 1/2 inch tip

Whip egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Slowly drizzle in warm honey while continuing to whip. When honey is incorporated, fold in coconut and ground nuts.

Drop or pipe with a pastry bag teaspoons or tablespoon size rounds onto baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour or until hardened. Turn off oven and let them harden.