Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan (also known as irish moss) is an ingredient added by food scientists to make processed foods more palatable. It's in everything from Tasti D-Lite soft serve ice cream to Applegate Farms Organic Roast Turkey Breast. It's added to processed foods by food scientists to thicken or emulsify or prevent ice crystals from forming. I wasn't concerned about it's presence in so many of the foods in my kitchen because it is made from seaweed and we don't have a problem with it. Then I started speaking with people about their reaction to processed foods containing carrageenan--all had digestive symptoms that continued on a gluten free diet. All spoke to me about how they didn't have the same digestive problems with less processed versions of the same food. One reacted to Almond Breeze almond milk but not to homemade almond milk. Another person reacted to Applegate Farms turkey but not roasted turkey.

There may be soon be a scientific explanation for these reactions to Carrageenan. The American Journal of Physiology published an article by researchers in the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois which said "exposure of human intestinal epithelial cells to carrageenan triggers a distinct inflammatory pathway...the study findings may represent a link between genetic and environmental etiologies of inflammatory bowel disease." 1 Interestingly, rats also had an extreme reaction to carrageenan and developed bloody diarrhea. 2

Still, like gluten, carrageenan is everywhere and avoiding it means avoiding a lot of processed foods including most ready made milk substitutes--Silk Soy Milk, Almond Breeze and Whole Foods 365 Organic Ricemilk all use carrageenan as a thickener. It is also an ingredient in most ice creams. If you have digestive issues, you can try to to tease out if you are having a reaction to this additive by comparing how you feel after eating a less processed food (like fresh turkey) with a processed version (Applegate Farms organic roasted turkey breast.) Or avoid processed food completely for a week then load up on food with this ingredient to compare how you do.

Not everyone is sensitive to carrageenan-it might be a subgroup of people who reacts to this additive. Our family has never had a reaction to carrageenan, but anecdotally, I know a lot of people who are sensitive to gluten who react to carrageenan so it is something to think about if you continue to have digestive issues on a gluten free diet.

Once again, homemade is best whenever possible--especially if you are still having chronic symptoms.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School Hope: Collaborative Problem Solving with Dr. Ablon on Nov. 3 in NYC

Thurs., Nov. 3, 2011
8:30am to 1 pm
Churchill School
301 East 29th Street
New York, NY 10016

On November 3, 2011 Flawless Foundation is sponsoring an introductory training by Dr. Ablon, the co-author of "Treating Explosive Kids-The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach." Dr. Ablon will speak about the Collaborative Problem Solving approach of interacting with kids who experience behavioral challenges. This is an amazing opportunity to hear directly from an expert on a new way that parents, caregivers and educators can think about kids who can be defiant and new ways to address explosive behavior. Below is a video of Dr. Ablon speaking about his approach and a second video about how you can put the method into action. Certificates of completion will be provided for continuing education credits. The lecture usually sells out so if you think you are interested, sign up now while there is still room. Early registration is $45 until September 15. To register go to Flawless Foundation Events.

Schedule of the Day:

8:30-9 am Registration with breakfast
9-11 am Lecture with Dr. Stuart Ablon on "Understanding non-compliant
and explosive behavior" Limits of conventional reward and punishment
responses to such behavior.
11-11:15 am Break
11:15-12:35 pm Lecture continues "Describing a new philosophy and
approach to working with children with behavioral challenges.
12:35-1:00 pm Q&A

What is your approach? A FLAWLESS FOUNDATION VIDEO...


Monday, August 22, 2011

Review of Joy Bauer's Food Cures

At first glance, Food Cures by Joy Bauer, the food expert for The Today Show, looks like an standard, overwhelming nutrition book. But actually, in its 486 pages Joy Bauer gives simple dietary intervention recommendations for chronic health issues. In the thoughtful introduction Ms. Bauer observes
"Most of us have more information than we know what to do with. Literally. Many of my clients have such sophisticated vocabularies that they sound like third year nutrition students."
The problem is, according to Joy Bauer, that people don't know how to combine all the disparate pieces of information about healthy eating and diet into a cohesive plan.

The simplicity of Joy Bauer's Food Cures program is a real strength of the book because we are inundated with information about diet and when people try to use diet to address a specific health issue they are often too overwhelmed to make any changes. Each health issue is given a chapter with an overview of the problem as well as a specific four step program which includes Step 1...Start with the Basics, Step 2...Your Ultimate Grocery List, Step 3...Going Above and Beyond and Step 4...Meal Plans. Her college textbook sized book covers everything from losing weight and looking great as well as many diseases that people face today including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, IBS and celiac disease.

For instance, the chapter on Celiac Disease (CD) contains an eight page overview. If you don't have the time or the interest to read Dr. Greene's authoritative book Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, Food Cures efficiently covers the most important information you need to know in order to have an understanding of celiac disease and how to follow a gluten free diet. I was actually impressed that Ms. Bauer covers so much in so few pages and It would be a book I would give to anyone who needed to get a quick but thorough understanding of celiac disease.

In each section, Food Cures also recommends supplements to take for each condition. In the chapter for people with celiac disease she says "People with celiac disease should seriously consider taking supplements to help them get the nutrients they need but won't get in a gluten free diet." Then she goes on to recommend to recommend a multivitamin, Calcium plus Vitamin D, and others as directed by a physician noting that people with celiac can have "multiple nutrient deficiencies before their disease gets under control" and "you might overlook a different problem if you start popping supplements on your own."

I love that Ms. Bauer is so specific when it comes to supplements (She recommends Centrum Performance as a multivitamin for celiac disease which contains 300% of DVI of B vitamins and 100% of folic acid.) So often, books will recommend a multivitamin without specifically mentioning brands which leaves people feeling overwhelmed having to choose their own brand. With multivitamins, often the formulas vary so much that to just recommend "a multivitamin" is really leaving people without enough information.

Food Cures also impressed me in the chapter on celiac disease by thoroughly addressing "The Oatmeal Question." In "Step 3...Going Above and Beyond" it recommends people following a gluten free diet: "Add oats only after your health has stabilized on a gluten-free diet, and only with your doctors okay. Choose McCann's Irish Oatmeal, which is processed in a dedicated oats-only mill...or ask your doctor for a brand recommendation." And, "Never order order oats when you are out...And don't buy prepared or packaged food with oats" This is an impressive synopsis of a complicated issue, but Food Cures manages to simplify all the information in a few bullet points.

Often a person's greatest genius is also their weak point; Food Cures might be too much of a step by step manual for people who are already well versed in the health problem they are dealing with. But, I would recommend it as a great mainstream book that can be an everyday resource for families and individuals who want to address their health issues through diet.

• Overall great resource with suggestions for the most important supplements for chronic problems.
• Specific meal ideas for each health issue give the reader help with menu planning.

• Some recipes contain processed foods-- one recipe contains margarine(?!?) as a ingredient and a turkey taco recipe contains taco seasoning. A better alternative would be a taco recipe made with spices.
• Recipes should be in section on their own and not buried in the middle of the book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Maple Almond Cupcakes/Muffin Recipe

These maple almond cupcakes were inspired by a biscuit recipe from The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook--an amazing cookbook full of nutritious baked goods. The original recipe was for biscuits for strawberry shortcake and after I had made the biscuits a bunch of times I decided to make them into cupcakes.

Each cupcake has 7 grams of protein from the almond flour and eggs and only 5 grams of sugar making these a relatively "healthy" cupcake or muffin that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The best part about them is, of course, is that the kids love them. The sprinkles help. But we also serve them without frosting and if you still call them "cupcakes" they are still super excited about them

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line and grease 10-12 muffin trays.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir together. Add wet ingredients and mix until it is a batter.
Fill muffin cups.
Bake for 18 minutes until golden brown.
Cool and frost.

*We had no shortening for frosting so we made a simple glaze of powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes/Muffins: Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Blueberry Muffins: Add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cooking Classes at the Blum Center for Health

The following culinary classes taking place at the Blum Center for Health this August. Call and ask about allergy free options if you are interested in attending and are following a restricted diet. If you can't attend these classes, you can watch a video about the Blum Center to learn more about the center. Below is a video about Spring Stir Fry Recipe from YouTube where you can see Chef Marti in Action. Read Dr. Susan Blum-My Story for an inspirational story about the founder.

Mon Aug 8th - Gluten Free Italian: Sauces, Risottos, Pastas, Soups
Wed Aug. 10th – A Balanced Diet: Foods to Help Hormone Imbalance
Tues Aug. 16th – Best Vegetarian Proteins: It’s Easy to Get the Nutrition You Need
Thurs Aug.18th – Healthy Meals in a Hurry: Tools and Recipes to Feed Your Family
Wed Aug.24th – Back to School: Creative Homemade Lunches to Go

If you click on the below link you can see in-depth descriptions as well as sign up if you’re interested.

Blum Center for Health

34 Rye Ridge Plaza
Rye Brook, NY 10573
Phone: 914-652-7800

Chef Marti can also do customized cooking classes for personal health goals and there are other culinary kitchen packages.