Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin seed milk

Being faced with the fact that the low oxalate diet (LOD) is probably a good step for us has forced me to rethink "healthy" foods.  Who doesn't think eating a salad full of spinach, carrots, strawberries and beets topped with nuts is healthy?  (raises hand)  In my past life, this would be high on our list, in fact, there were many spinach and strawberry salads garnished with nuts, doled out to my kids.  But when it is determined that a food, any food, is hurting the body, the previous conception of healthy goes out the window.  It was so hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that spinach and nuts can be harmful!  To a child like Grayson, who tested as having triple the safe amount of oxalates, that is so.

So what does this chatter about oxalates have to do with my heading you ask...pumpkin seed milk.  Well, hemp seeds and almonds are very high in oxalates, SO....out they go.  No more hemp or almond milk for the kids.  This leaves us with nothing but rice milk and BLECH, no thank you!  Rice is a high carb, feeds yeast and is super sweet.  What to do, what to do....we compromise!  And in the end, we have a healthy milk option available at the press of a button, my Blendtec button, that is!  Home made pumpkin seed milk, which is just as easy to make as the hemp seed milk we were making.

Why pumpkin seeds?  For one, it's safe for us LODers and two, it packs a nutritious punch!  With the added benefit of being an anti-parasitic.  How many foods do you know that are high in Magnesium, tryptophan, iron and zinc?  These among other nutrients like manganese, phosphorous, vitamin K, copper, and protein (over 9mg per 1/4 cup serving!) combined with it's omega anti-inflammatory properties make pumpkin seeds a powerhouse food.

I try to remember to sprout the seeds before making a milk out of them, it increases the bio-availability of the nutrients and enzymes and makes them easier to digest, so as long as I just think ahead and toss a handful in a jar of water at night, we are good to go for easy healthy milk!  This step is not necessary though.

I have been using a tablespoon of seeds to every 8 ounces of water, but you can increase or decrease depending on the flavor and/or creaminess you prefer.  Blend, strain, bottle and refrigerate!

The kids both had their home made granola cereal with pumpkin seed milk today and I got the thumbs up!  I tried some in my coffee and I think I even like it better than the hemp milk I have been using which makes it easier, because that means I don't have to make multiple batches of milks in the mornings.  We do also still use coconut milk, but I have been using so much coconut in the form of flour, shreds, oil and sweetener (coconut nectar), that I don't want to over do it, so that is reserved for recipes that have other coconut ingredients in them already. 

So there you have it, another "milk" alternative!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Make your own granola - does this make me "crunchy"?

Nothing could be easier or healthier!  Have you ever glanced at the side panel of a box of breakfast cereal?  Blech!  Sugar, sugar and more sugar, plus all sorts of other allergens like milk, nuts, soy and wheat.  You can make a variety of different cereals for every day of the week!  Put your base together, then add your favorite flavors to make all kinds of granola and not just to eat as cereal, top your favorite home made ice cream or eat right out of the jar as a healthy on the go snack!

Granola has a long shelf life, so this batch is a large one.  It will fill 3 - 2 quart Ball jars, as seen above. I will separate the ingredients below so you can make the base cereal, then you can separate the base into as many flavors as you want to experiment with.  Have fun, try anything! This could be a great activity for little hands....create your own cereal bar!

Ingredients for the cereal base
  • 6 cups regular rolled oats (feel free to add depth by swapping some oats for rice crispy cereal)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup coconut nectar or honey (coconut nectar is low on the glycemic index, meaning it's safe for diabetics and doesn't feed yeast, not to mention TASTY!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Add about a 1/4-1/2 cup of any of these add-ins, if you add more than this, you may need to increase your wet ingredients above so it's not too dry, just play with it.  The freeze dried fruits will hydrate with milk, just like the boxed commercial cereals.
  • chopped nuts (high oxalate)
  • dried cherries (one of my favorites)
  • dried cranberries
  • freeze dried apples and cinnamon
  • raisins
  • freeze dried strawberries
  • freeze dried mango
  • freeze dried blueberries
  • cinnamon (high oxalate)
  • and if you want to really go all out, dehydrate shreds of pumpkin or anything else for that matter!
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Combine oats, add-ins and coconut in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine coconut nectar/honey, water and salt in a small saucepan.
Heat, stirring frequently, until ingredients are all melted together.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil and vanilla.
Pour over oat mixture and stir well.
Place granola into 2 greased 13x9x2-inch pans or 1-2 greased cookie sheets. If you made more than two flavors, you can separate them more.
Bake in a preheated oven for about one hour, until golden.
Stir/turn over using a wide metal spatula about every 20 minutes.
The granola will get crunchier as it cools. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wheatgrass misconception

The name, wheatgrass, conjures up thoughts of gluten, right?  While yes, this IS a wheat product, it does NOT contain gluten.  It comes from the common wheat plant when it's young and full of chlorophyll.  Wheatgrass juice is a powerful raw, living food.  If you buy your wheat grass from a reliable source, it is harvested when the grass reaches it's nutritional peak, this is just before the jointing stage, when the plant is between 7 and 11 inches tall.  At this point, it has accumulated energy which will soon power a massive growth spurt, it's this energy that is captured in the juice.

"Wheatgrass is literally condensed sunlight energy.  It is one of the most potent healing agents on the planet."  -Steve Meyerowitz, Wheatgrass Nature's Finest Medicine

What about growing your own?  Well, if you don't want to ingest molds, I recommend buying yours flash frozen from a reputable source who grows their wheatgrass outside.  Molds release mycotoxins which have a terrible taste and cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, headaches and vomiting.

In addition to clearing up allergies, reducing colds, clearing skin and even reversing graying (yes, this is true!), here are a few more little known facts about wheatgrass (courtesy of Energise for Life, an alkaline diet resource), oh right, it also alkalizes the blood:

  • Wheatgrass contains over 90 minerals, including high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium
  • It contains the essential enzymes: Protease (assists in protein digestion), Cytochrome Oxidase (a powerful anti oxidant), Amylase (facilitates digestion), Lipase (a fat splitting enzyme), Transhydrogenase (strengthens the heart muscle) & Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) (found in all body cells and is known for its ability to lessen the effect of radiation and slow cellular aging)
  • Just one teaspoon of Wheat Grass powder, weighing a mere 3.5 grams, is nutritionally equal to an entire spinach salad weighing a full 50 grams – it packs a punch!
  • Wheatgrass has more vitamin C than oranges and twice the vitamin A as carrots!
  • Wheat grass juice helps your body to build red blood cells which carry oxygen to every cell. By increasing the oxygenation the body you can help offset smog and carbon monoxide and increase your endurance during physical exercise
  • It also contains 19 amino acids, the building blocks of protein
You can get a whole lot more on the benefits of wheatgrass here.

What ever it does to the blood (it's been studied and said that the chlorophyll molecule in wheatgrass is almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule in human blood) has been proven with testing in Grayson.  We had two different CBC panels, months apart,  that showed VERY elevated platelet (also known as sticky blood) counts.  We started giving him wheatgrass daily shortly after that last CBC and have been giving it for a few months.  He had another follow-up CBC and his platelets are completely normal!!  I was told by Dr. Woeller that elevated platelets are very common in kids with chronic intestinal infections which Grayson struggles with, so we weren't surprised.  We were more surprised when they came down to the normal range even though we are still battling the intestinal infections! 

I have read various information from doctors saying that wheat grass is extremely healing even topically, so imagine what it does to the intestinal lining when ingested on an empty stomach and allowed to coat the intestines!  It is known to heal colitis and Chrone's disease.  We have also tested these topical capabilities of wheatgrass.  I had broken out in an awful cold sore that grew fast and furious, I didn't think of using the wheatgrass topically until it had already grown out of control, so I had this sucker for a good week, BUT, as soon as I started using the wheatgrass topically, it dried it up right away!  So when Grayson caught whatever it was that caused this cold sore, and he got one covering his jaw and lower cheek area (yes, HUGE!) I immediately went to the freezer and softened up some chunks of the wheatgrass between two fingers.  We turned his cheek into the green monster, lol.  It took ONE morning of letting the juice dry on his cold sore and it was completely eradicated!!  GONE!  Nothing has ever worked that fast on a cold sore, that I know of anyway!  And his didn't scab, we caught it early enough to reverse it quickly. 

I am now currently in the process of doing my own little test with on effects of wheatgrass on PH.  I have chronic low PH around 5 so I am going to increase my wheatgrass intake until I see changes in my PH, without changing anything else I am doing.  So stay tuned!!  In the meantime, this wheatgrass farmer is the only one I recommend for a quality flash frozen product delivered right to your door!  Yes, it appears pricy, but when you think about how much you are getting, it will last a LONG time and isn't it worth your health?  If you order the smallest box, you are paying only $1.60 per ounce (juice bars charge well over $3 for a 1/2 ounce shot of wheat grass in a smoothie!), if you buy the next size up, it's $1.45 an ounce, and the next $1.40 and so on....I would even recommend going in together with a friend or two and ordering one of the larger boxes, then splitting it, for the cost savings.  I like to be greedy and buy our family one of the 25 pound boxes and drink as much as we need since it's a healthy raw, living food that ensures my kids are getting enough greens in their day.  It's the sneaky, easy way to get your toddlers drinking greens, he he he!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe - low oxalate pumpkin blueberry muffins

I have been experimenting with flour mixes to make a tasty blend that works for muffins, since this is always something I can sneak veggie puree into!  Going low oxalate turned my world upside down and took my kitchen by storm, literally!!  I am in experiment mode which is always messy, my poor husband!

So I took a bunch of different recipe ideas and created this one tasty muffin with my own flour mix...I'm sure it's not the first time this mix has been formulated, so when I say that I created it, I mean that I am just using our needs to tailor the flour mix so that it works for us.  I am not a fan of using too much white rice so this flour mix was created with that in mind, although no low oxalate, GFCF flour mix is complete without some rice flour, lol.  I also think that garbanzo bean flour (moderate oxalate) is a bit strong.  So I blended it's competitor, the lower oxalate black eyed pea, into a flour using my baby, uh, I blendtec!  Talk about an appliance that does it all!

Ok, back to the muffins, here is a picture and you will find the recipe below it.  It is light and fluffy and doesn't have that I'm-not-made-with-wheat taste! 

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1 cup eyed pea flour (I used my blendtec to make this flour from dried beans)
1 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup white rice flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put the following into a blender and whip for a few seconds until nice and fluffy:

1 cup sweetener of choice (I chose 1/2 cup coconut nectar and 1/2 xylitol)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix the ingredients together and if it requires more liquid, add up to 1/2 cup of coconut milk.
Fold in 1/2 cup of your choice of blueberries, banana chunks, apple chunks or dried cherries.
Fill 12 lined cupcake tins almost full and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown or until a toothpick comes out of the center of the muffin clean. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oxalate wows now?

We had started the low oxalate diet before I posted about it on my blog, by probably about a week.  I have read about how when dumping oxalates, some children have grainy BMs with black specks and Gavin first diaper was full of it this morning!  I have also noticed that his mood is significantly different.  He is calm, patient, content, compliant, plays on his own, his belly is flat (as much as a two year old's belly can be flat, lol) and has practically potty trained himself....although mommy is still too afraid to go out without a diaper, hehehe.  He was previously my awnry child, defiant, demanding, impatient and clingy!!  The change happened slowly over the span of the week, but now that I look back at where we started, I am convinced it's the diet, because nothing else changed!  I am hoping that once we get further into chelation we may not need this diet forever, but I don't know how the diet and chelation work together, if recoveries are related or if the diet is something that is required forever.  There is so little research on this topic, but I do know there are kids who have gone off the diet successfully.  I just don't know what other treatments were combined with the diet.  In one particular case, chelation was not done, but that child didn't have metal issues like mine. 

Only time will tell!