Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Tea

'Tis the time of the year for yummy, holiday drinks! Every year from October to December, I would make frequent trips to Starbucks and get their yummy and festive, but sugary and high calorie filled drinks. October is my favorite time of the year for pumpkin. It doesn't feel like fall without curling up with a hot cup of pumpkin spiced something.

Did you know a pumpkin latte contains 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar. A chai tea drink at Starbucks isn't much better. Still a whooping 250 calories and 41 grams of sugar. So I started looking into making these drinks at home. While there are lots of healthier recipes online without the syrups, high fructose corn syrup and sodium, they still are not simply "drinks", they are meals. They each still contain anywhere from 250 calories to 450 calories. While homemade holiday drinks contain whole, real ingredients, it is not worth it to skip a nutritious meal for a sugary drink.

A little experimenting and I came up with a perfect pumpkin drink for just 50 calories and 0 grams of sugar. :)

Brew a cup of Chai Spice tea for however strong you like it. For me, this was for 5 minutes. In a blender, blend 1/2 cup of pumpkin. Add a couple dashes of allspice and nutmeg, a few dashes of cinnamon, and 5-7 drops of stevia (not pictured). Stir everything together and enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time to Redecorate?

Elliott has been showing me over and over places in the house that are not baby proof. Like this for example:

I know when kids are mobile, it makes for a lot more messes to clean up, but he's pretty cute about it.

At least he's trying to help me out....

Oh and his most favorite thing ever is reorganizing my wallet. I gotta remember to not leave my bag where he can reach it now! lol

Crawling is definitely still his preferred method of transportation, but every day he's walking more and more. Yesterday it so cute- he was quietly playing by himself so I peeked into the room to see what he was doing and he was slowly walking across the living room, watching his feet and taking one step at a time...he got up to 8 steps! Haha. I can't believe he's going to be a year in less than two weeks! He is such a happy, sweet little boy. :)

Anyway, Zach is gone for 5 days with work so I've decided to totally reorganize, redecorate and deep clean the house to surprise him when he gets back! I must admit, I am not the greatest decorator. I don't have that "creative eye". So when we set up our furniture when we moved here two years ago, I've never moved it because I'm not sure how or where to put things. LOL. I'm getting the carpets cleaned today so it's a good excuse to finally change things up. Should be fun!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gluten and Grains- Part 2

(I know I promised this post yesterday, but things get so busy when Zach is away! Anyway, here it is now.)

My grandma recently sent me an article with this staggering statistic, "A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008. It categorized their cause of death into three groups: Those with celiac disease, those with gluten-induced intestinal inflammation (but not celiac) and those with gluten sensitivity. There was a 39 percent increased rate of death in those with celiac disease, 72 percent increased risk in those with gluten-related gut inflammation and 35 percent increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity!" Clearly we are not just talking about a bloated belly or minor cramps. Inside our intestines and gut lining, gluten is doing things much worse. 

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, but during the processing, it is taken out. Man-made gluten is added back in to wheat foods. In some products, it is added back in double than what would occur naturally. This is what is irritating our bodies and what our bodies cannot digest. As a reminder of what gluten does once it enters your body, it flattens you intestinal villi which makes small holes in your intestine (a term called "leaky gut syndrome") and that lets particles of your food leech into your blood stream.

In doing my research and reading up on gluten, I actually found some surprising studies about grains. Now when you tell people you don't eat doughnuts, they generally understand. When you say you can't eat gluten, people accept that. When you say you try to avoid all grain, THEN you get the weird glances and the perplexed questions like "you don't eat whole grain bread???"  Well I would if the real thing still existed. The fact is, it doesn't.

The version of wheat we consume today is not naturally grown wheat, unfortunately. It is a product of genetic engineering. 

Ok, I'll try to summarize this the best I can.

Grains contain phytic acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Phytic acid is also found in nuts and seeds. Grains consumed in the Bible or "pioneer times" were allowed to sit in the fields for several weeks before thrashing. After it was gathered, it would sit in the barn or outside for anywhere to several days to several weeks until it was ground and consumed. This allowed the grains to be exposed to the elements and to sprout. Sprouting your grains breaks down the phytic acid. Unfortunately, grains today are not sprouted, harvested quickly and are consumed in much larger quantities than ever before. Flour, a staple in every household today, used to be considered a luxury. Grain consumption has doubled in the last 50 years!

Now, if you do as I suggested in the previous post, cut out gluten/grains for just one month, you'll notice that you feel so much better, have more energy, and less bloating or that sluggish feeling after meals. If you don't notice any change and add grains back in after a month, I definitely recommend soaking your grains to break up that phytic acid and help your body to absorb it better. However, the fact still stands that the wheat we use today in the United States (and Europe, but not so much places like Egypt or the Middle East), has been genetically altered, genetically modified on the cellular level starting with the seeds.  The wheat and breads and pastas we consumed are basically man-made. Our variety of wheat does not occur naturally and would not ever be found growing in the wild. It has been genetically altered to be able to grow vast amounts in a short amount of time without being affected by bugs and insects and weather conditions. All these changes, though, also make this plant simply undigestible to the human body.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gluten? (Part 1)

I've been doing a ton of research the past few months on gluten. There seems to be a lot of hype about gluten free foods and it made me wonder if I/we needed to go gluten free. So what is gluten?

Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat.

The gluten allergy is called celiac disease. Symptoms for gluten intolerance are all across the board:
Abdom­i­nal pain
Bone or joint pain
Bloated belly
Canker sores
Chronic diar­rhea
Delayed growth and devel­op­ment
Mucous excess
Pale, foul-smelling or fatty stool
Skin rashes
Tooth enamel defects
Unex­plained iron-deficiency ane­mia
Unable to lose weight, especially in belly
Weak immune system
(this is just a short list. You can google the topic and find a lot more specifics)

This allergy can be tested by a blood test, but studies have shown that 1 in 7 people are sensitive to gluten, not necessarily allergic, and this would not show up on a blood test. The only way to figure out if you have a gluten sensitivity is to remove it from your diet for about 4-6 weeks and try adding it back in. When we did this, it became obvious that we both are sensitive to gluten (me more than Zach though). Surprisingly, I've also found that the longer I go without gluten, the more sensitive I've become and the more it bothers me. I recently got a salad from Subway, no dressing, and got horrible cramps for the next couple hours. It must have had bread/gluten crumbs or something. I was never that sensitive before.

It goes to show that you don't realize what is hurting and damaging your body if you've been doing it for so long. You get used to feeling a certain way after eating certain foods and you don't even think about it. That is why it is even more important to just try cutting it out. Just one month. If your body does not have a hard time digesting gluten, you'd be that much more knowledgeable and can go back to eating how you were. But if your body does not function well with gluten, believe me, you will know the first bite of bread or whatever you try to eat again after 4-6 weeks gluten free. Not all people are born with a gluten intolerance. It is sometimes triggered or activated by childbirth, pregnancy, severe emotional stress, surgery or a viral infection.

What does gluten do in your body? It attacks your immune system by targeting intestinal villi. Intestinal villi are responsible for nutrient absorption. Over time (some longer than others) gluten flattens the intestinal villi so your body is not getting all the nutrients it needs even if you are eating all the right foods. If the intestinal villi has been flattened, it can take years for it to heal in adults. Children have been shown to heal in 3-6 months. The good bacteria in your intestine keeps your gut wall strong to enable good digestion and nutrient absorption so toxins and food can't leak out and cause inflammation or any of those symptoms I listed earlier. What happens if you are gluten intolerant and are still eating gluten? You develop what's called a leaky gut. Your digestive system and intestinal track are not healthy and are not able to do what they need to do.

Where is gluten found? In almost everything!!! It is a filler and binding agent in many foods. Gluten is not just in bread. A couple examples are:
Imitation seafood
Almost all processed, packaged foods
Hot dogs
Salad dressing
Soy sauce
French fries
Deli meat
As I'm sure many of you have noticed, all stores carry gluten free of these items now. Health foods stores even more so. My two cents I want to quickly say though is that just because something is labeled "gluten free" does not mean it's healthy.

You still need to stick to the basic clean eating rules I wrote about here. I have seen cookies and candies and "breads" all labeled "gluten free", but they are filled with sugars and partially hydrogenated something or the other and a lot of the breads use things like potato starch, soy, unpronounceable gums for binding agents or corn fillers. Remember, it's the back of the box that really counts. The front of the package means nothing...they can say whatever they want.

More to come tomorrow... :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

2 years ago

As today marks our 2nd anniversary, I started looking at our wedding photos (taken by Esther at Summerville&Co Photography) and it brought back so many memories!

Starting with this picture:

Zach had been at the academy for 5 long months. He flew in at midnight the day of the wedding...even had to miss his own rehearsal. But nothing can describe the joy I felt at that moment when he got to San Diego, opened the door and ran through the room right to me, picked me up in his arms and spun me around. ^_^

It was so surreal. I couldn't believe I was actually marrying the man of my dreams today!

My handsome man....I fall more and more in love with him every day. He truly is my better half.

Becoming Zach's wife (I remember that felt so weird to say at first!) has been, by far, the best day of my life. It meant that I would share the rest of my life with him. That we would make traditions and memories. That we would grow old together. Raise kids together. Go through many milestones in life with him always by my side. I couldn't be more happy or more blessed.

And then we were Mr. and Mrs. Zachary Felix!!!

Simply put, I am just head over heels for this man!

He still makes my heart skip a beat. Every day he's at work, I count down to him coming home. I love and cherish every moment we have together.

Happy Anniversary to my one and only. I love you sweetie!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dove...and Desserts

Today Zach and a good friend, Joe, went dove hunting today. They shot 7 doves and we had one of the most delicious dinners ever. The meat doesn't get much more organic and free range than that! In my opinion, dove really didn't taste any different than chicken except it looks darker. Joe wrapped the dove breasts in jalapeno and bacon and bbq'ed them over Jack Daniel's wood smoking chips. Mmmm, the smell was incredible! I was going to post pictures, but I can't seem to find the camera cord so that'll have to wait. I told Zach he needs to go hunting more often and bring home amazing meat like that again. I felt so...I don't know the right or self sufficient. haha.

Afterwards I tried out a new recipe for grain and dairy free pumpkin cookies. They turned out pretty good. I didn't have almond meal so I just ground up the almonds. But I think next time it'd be better if I bought actual almond flour so it won't be so coarse.

Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
¼ cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400. In a mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.  In another small mixing bowl mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Grease a baking sheet and scoop cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Made 10 cookies.

I've been craving lemon bars too and stumbled across these- which again are grain and dairy free. They were sooooo good!!!

Lemon Bars
1 cup almonds (soaked the night before)
1 cup cashews (soaked the night before)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
4 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs
1 tsp sea salt
1 lemon curd recipe
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the almonds and the cashews in a food processor. Grind them into a medium fine “flour”. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. Evenly spread the nut batter into a greased 8 by 8 pan. Cook 15-18 minutes. When the top is lightly brown, and a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle, it’s done. Cool completely, then spread one recipes of lemon curd on top. Let set in the refrigerator for at least several hours. When ready to serve, take them out and cut into squares. Made 9 large squares.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    It's Finally October!!

    I have to say, October is probably my favorite month. I love fall colors.

    Oh and isn't this just dreamy!??!?!

    Pumpkins are absolutely my favorite food and decorations ever! I'm planning on trying lots of new pumpkin recipes now through the end of the year. Oh I love October!!!!

    My project for this month is also to find a way to make my favorite pumpkin spice latte, but with half the sugar and dairy free. Stay tuned.

    Another big reason I love October is because it's the month I married the man who is my whole world, the man I adore so much. We're coming up on 2 years already! I love remembering the wonderful, sweet, amazing day I became Mrs. Zachary Felix.

    And now, October doesn't end on what I used to consider a "bad note" with Halloween anymore. It now ends with our happy, adorable little son, Elliott's birthday. (I just realized I need to get to planning that party of his!!!)

    God is so good!

    All that being said, I thought I'd also post a great workout today. It's just two simple exercises, but it will work your whole body. The next day every muscle in my body was sore. And if you're not sore, up the weight!!!

    Do 25 kettlebells swings each arm (I didn't have a kettlebell, but you can do this just as easily with a dumbbell)

    Followed by 100 high knee jump ropes (I kept tripping over the jump rope so about halfway through, I just did high knees and forgot about the jump rope part)
    Repeat 10x.
    Make sure to time yourself and keep trying to beat your previous time!