What’s Gluten & Who Should Avoid It?

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Today the word gluten is BUZZING. Gluten free (GF) is often equated to healthy living, and is largely trending in the market place. So what is it, and why are so many people avoiding it?

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other forms, such as triticale and einkorn. It is responsible for giving baked goods a doughy and elastic structure, and is commonly used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer. The name GLUten, not coincidentally, refers to its glue-like properties.

An awareness of the negative effects of gluten is spreading and more people are realizing that it could be the culprit of their ongoing issues. When gluten hits the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells, it is commonly mistaken as a foreign invader.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease that effects about 1% of the population. It causes the most severe gluten reaction, with symptoms including gastrointestinal disrupt, rapid and unexplained weight loss, anemia, dental and bone disorders, mouth sores, skin rashes, and tingling in the hands and feet.

When people with CD consume gluten, an immune response is triggered and initiates an attack on the intestines. Over time, the villi of the intestines become damaged, making it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients. Consequently, this leads to malnourishment and the development of many other chronic illnesses.

People with CD should never eat gluten. If you’re concerned that you may have CD, a blood test can be done to reveal antibodies, and an autopsy can show the intestinal damage for a diagnosis. It is important to note that you must be currently eating gluten for these tests to be accurate.

Having a wheat allergy is another reason why people could be having adverse reactions after consuming gluten, as wheat is the most commonly used grain. If an allergy is present, the immune system triggers an IgE mediated response. Symptoms will most likely be immediate, and can include swelling, itching, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

Another category of people who should avoid gluten are those with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). They can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with CD, except their intestines stay in tact and their body doesn’t produce the antibodies to gluten. About 40% of the population carries the gene for NCGS, but not all develop a sensitivity.  Currently, there is not a sure way to test for this, but the best way to find out if you’re effected is to try an elimination diet. 

As you can see, diagnosis can be difficult, but if you’re suspicious, I highly recommend experimenting with a GF lifestyle. While 10 years ago GF living was close to impossible, GF options are now widely available in mainstream grocery stores nationwide.

One thing I want to highlight is that while GF options are now available for almost everything, it is important to focus mainly on food sources that are whole, unprocessed, and naturally gluten free. This includes grains and flours such as millet, teff, amaranth, rice varieties, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, certified GF oats, corn, nuts, and beans. *Oats are naturally gluten free, but you must shop for oats specifically labeled gluten free because gluten is often added to commercial oats as a binding and flavoring agent.

Like any changes in life, dietary changes can be stressful and challenging. Try to be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Remember, sometimes it’s our greatest challenges that make us shine the brightest!

Please share this with someone you love, and do something kind for yourself today.

With Love & Gratitude, 

Brittany 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carob Apricot Cookies

I am the type of person that often looks forward to something sweet after a meal. I like to enjoy everything in moderation, and I believe that life is all about finding balance.

Enjoying a delicious homemade dessert brings me happiness, and I think allowing myself to enjoy these things guilt free is necessary for my wellbeing.

It is also crucial that I help foster positive feelings around all food groups for my girls while they are young. Girls, especially, are susceptible to having anxious or negative feelings around eating, and I want to do everything in my power to help prevent that.

We bake every week, and I make my girls a part of the process. We talk about the ingredients, where they come from, and what they do for the recipe, and I allow them them to scoop, measure, mix, and get their hands dirty. I have taught them to sweeten their foods with nature’s candies, including whole foods such as bananas, apples, dates, and sweet potatoes, as well as honey, maple syrup, and agave.

Baking at our house is a bonding experience and a time for learning. The girls love eating what they have helped create, and I love that they feel like they’re being treated to something special, but also getting nourished at the same time. It’s a win win!

This recipe was made up after my daughter asked about buying doughnuts at Whole Foods, and I suggested an at home recipe would be better. We winged it, as usual, and the result was so tasty. Hope you enjoy too!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup carob powder

1/2 cup apple sauce

2 bananas mashed

1/4 agave nectar

1/4 cup almond butter (or other nut butter, softened)

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup apricots

1 cup carob chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Add applesauce, mashed bananas, and agave to standing mixer. Now add almond butter, flax eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

Lastly, fold in apricots and carob chips.

Place dollops of batter onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars

If you’re pressed for time in the morning, or frequently find yourself needing a snack to keep you satiated between meals, granola bars are great option.

While there are some store brands that I will have in a pinch, my belief is that homemade is always better because they are fresh and don’t require any preservatives. I often make bulk batches and keep them in my freezer. This saves time and energy and is super convenient.

These bars are loaded with healthy fats and fiber, keeping you fuller longer, and will hopefully deter you from reaching for any not so healthy temptations.

Just a tip before you get started.

You may want to soak your seeds for a few hours prior. Soaking nuts and seeds before consumption will increase digestibility, maximize absorption of nutrients by the body, promote greater enzyme activity, and initiate the sprouting process, which increases nutritional benefits.

Here you go!

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars:

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup GF old fashioned oats (not quick oats)

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup agave (honey would also work)

1 cup apricots

Mix well.

Press mixture down into a 9×7 in pan

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Let cool for about 30 minutes before cutting to prevent crumbling.

Enjoy!!!

Xo, Brittany

Double Chocolate Nutter Butter Muffins

I love chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. It’s the one treat that I crave practically everyday. And with so many health benefits, I am happy to give my body what it wants.

These muffins are filled with nutritious ingredients that’ll leave your belly full and your face smiling. Chocolate, peanut butter, bananas…I’m already drooling.

 

Ingredients you’ll need:

2 ripe bananas

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar .

1/2 cup cacao

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 min)

3/4 cup almond yogurt (I used @kitehillfoods plain)

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp maca powder

1/2 cup cacao chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Blend all ingredients in high-speed blender, except for chocolate chips.

Add chips to blender and stir with a spoon.

Spoon batter into a 12 cup muffin tin (lined or greased).

Bake for 20 minutes.

Eat, enjoy, repeat 🙂

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*I crumbled mine on some banana ice cream for an extra special snack. (ripe bananas in an ice cream/sorbet maker for 20 minutes)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

My kids love sweets – especially anything with chocolate – so I am constantly trying to make recipes that get them excited to eat, while not sabotaging their health. By taking a plant based approach to baking, swapping conventional flours for more easily digestible whole grains, and adding in power packed superfoods, commonly unhealthy options can transform in to nutrient rich meals!

As a mom, I also have limited time and energy. I want quick and simple recipes that do not require a ton of clean up. This recipe requires one appliance – a high powered blender. Once you’re done, simply add a little soap and water and blend your blender clean. It’s that easy!

These muffins are a crowd pleaser at my house – we eat them for breakfast and also enjoy them as snacks. Batches are gone within a few days, so I find myself making them over and over again! They are also great for play dates 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • A blender
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (dairy yogurt could also be substituted)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, or steel cut oats for heartier muffins (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 vegan “eggs” (I currently use Namaste foods egg replacer, but you could also use flax eggs – 1 tbsp flax to 2.5 tbsp water per egg – let sit 5 mins)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp Maca Powder (the secret superfood ingredient – optional, but gives a unique nutty flavor, while also packing a nutritious punch)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 6-8 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (for highest nutritional benefit be sure chocolate doesnot contain milk, as milk interferes with the absorption of the great antioxidants found in cocoa)

Place all ingredients in blender, exceptthechocolate chips. Add those last and incorporate into batter with spoon.

Fill a 12 cup muffin tin and bake at 375° for 18 minutes.

These are so delicious as is, but sometimes I like to mix it up.

Some things I’ve tried:

  • top them with a nut butter you love
  • break them apart and throw in a smoothie or yogurt bowl
  • Cut in 1/2 and top with bananas or another favorite fruit

I hope that you enjoy!!

xo Brittany

Avocado + Herb Toasts

There is something so comforting about toast. And it is so versatile – it can be topped with literally anything to suit your cravings and needs, while also being perfectly suitable for any time of day!

Lately, I’m all about herbs. Herbs have so many health benefits, and there are many ways we can incorporate herbs into our daily lives. And it is highly encouraged since herbs are, in fact, small doses of medicine! They have disease preventing and health promoting properties, and can help with a variety of ailments and issues from fighting germs to relieving symptoms of inflammation. Mother nature is pretty flipping amazing!

Today I made two kinds of avocado + herb toasts because my body wants what is wants and I listen. These toasts are colorful, flavorful, loaded with vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats, and combine many textures to completely satisfy those taste buds.

Here’s a list of all the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 slices of gluten free bread (you could also try a sprouted bread, sourdough, or another personal favorite)
  • Handful of arugula
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • Red onion (to taste preference)
  • A couple slices of mango, diced
  • Fresh curley parsley
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander)

Method:

  1. Toast your bread to your preference (I like mine crisp + crunchy)
  2. Place ingredients on top of your bread in any order that you choose.
  3. Eat and thoroughly enjoy every bite 😉

It’s that easy! Now get toastin’!

Much love,

Brittany

Pecan Pumpkin Pudding

This is so thick & creamy, and packed with so many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Pumpkin is a powerhouse fruit. It is high in vitamins A, C, + E, rich in minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, and contains lots of fiber and antioxidants.

This recipe is so delicious, but feel free to play around with it and add different ingredients and superfoods that you like. Some that come to mind are maca, chia seeds, and greens! There are so many possibilities, and experimentation is how great recipes are born! Have fun and enjoy!

Method:

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender

  • 1 frozen banana

• 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

• tsp honey

• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

• 3 medjool dates

• A dash of pumpkin pie spice

• 1 tbsp pecans

• 1/2 cup almond milk (more or less depending on how thick you want it)

I topped mine with apples. Enjoy!!!