Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One day, I mean meal, at a time...oh yeah, and Lemon Pie

And so, another 10 days has passed, and I've learned a lot more about gastroparesis and diabetes, and the combinations thereof.

1. I learned that eating sugar is like a "gut bomb" to me that paralyses my stomach and swells it up to twice its size. I have tried to avoid sugar, but failed miserably last weekend. Randy was here (the sweet thing he is, I am so lucky) and I ate WAY too much of a low sugar lemon meringue pie (recipe to follow).

2. To much of a white carb also freezes up my stomach a lot. I ate rice for dinner Friday, with some GF Sushi Saturday, and in a GF pizza I made Saturday.I also made a low sugar banana bread (recipe ALSO to follow) and ate two pieces. It's NOT that I'm exceeding a calorie intake of 1400 or so calories a day (most days, it's lower than that). It's just sugar and carbs don't set well.

Which brings us back to the question, "So what DO you eat?" The other day, I thought of a book I used to love when I was little -- called "Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding." I was never the kind of kid who wouldn't eat anything, of course, See picture above -- that's me as a cute lil four year old butterball...mascot for the Pepperall High School Marching Band...

Anyway, my diet kinda feels like that now. I eat a lot of cheese (Laughing Cow Light and Cottage Cheese,) peas and carrots are one of my only solid veggies, and I just love sugar free Jell-O chocolate dream pudding. YUM. That, baby food fruit, and the occasional bowl of soup. I really tolerate a mild chicken salad well, and last night I discovered that my local Chinese joint makes a fine Shrimp and Lobster Sauce GF for me. I had it last night with 1/2 cup of rice (Jeffrey loves rice so he ate the rest).

And so, like my favorite high school show, "One Day at a Time," THAT is how I am taking it, only I'm really doing it "One Meal at a Time." I realized Wednesday I can't eat pork BBQ any more (but baked sweet potatoes are A-OK). And a whole chicken breast half is OK, but not with lettuce, black beans, or corn (I thought...there's just a bit of this. But turns out, no no no. I was some powerful sick Thursday night into Friday morning.

And so, I promised two new recipes: GF Lemon Meringue Pie with a low-sugar custard, and GF low-sugar banana bread. I'll save the banana bread for my NEXT post, so you can put some bananas aside to ripen....

The lemon meringue pie is because Randy brought me a ton of lemons, and I was just dying for a lemon pie. I have since been eating the lemons with my water and diet sodas. YES, I eat them. Soak them then eat the pulp. Anyway. I used a Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakeshop Pie Crust (quite a favorite, GF, low sugar and all that). And Randy and I ate it, and I didn't look book. But because it really had so little sugar in it, it didn't tear up my blood sugar.

Low Sugar Lemon Meringue Pie
(adapted from a recipe by Nancy Primus in "Good Eatin' from Jack Daniel County," circa 1982

I baked GF pie crust, blind baked and cooled

Four eggs, separated into yolks and whites
3/4 cup each sugar and Splenda (if you have no sugar issues, it's 1 1/2 cups sugar)
PLSU six additional teaspoons Splenda (or sugar, if you can)
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 t. vanilla
5 1/2 t. GF cornstarch (I use a nonGMO brand)
dash of salt
1 1/2 cups water
1;2 stick butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

Separate eggs into separate bowls. Set whites aside for meringue.
You are going for something the consistency of a thick custard.....
In a saucepan, mix sugar, Splenda, salt, cornstarch and water. Cook stirring constantly until very thick. Remove from heat and add lemon zest. In the separate bowl, beat the four egg yolks and slowly temper them into the cornstarch mixture. Return this to heat, bring to a bubble, cook one minute, and remove from heat. Add butter and slowly add lemon juice. The mixture should be a thick custard. Let cool completely (which could take an hour, but it's OK to set it aside and go off and do something else for a bit.

In the other bowl with the four egg whites, beat them till frothy and add Splenda a spoonful at a time. Add cream of tartar and vanilla until it forms a moist, soft peak.

Immediately place cooled filling in cooled GF pie crust, and place meringue over filling, sealing the edges to the edge of the piecrust. Bake in a 350 degree over for 15 minutes until top of pie is lightly browned. Cool thoroughly before serving.

Much love, and Viva La Vida (I love that song...)

P.S. A big shoutout to my dear friend Jen O'Brien, who convinced me to buy some baby food BANANAS. All my former students with babies on baby food, HOW to you resist this delectable treat? YUM. Jen, you made me search out baby food bananas in the store yesterday, and I loved them. To me, they're better than the real thing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

7 days that could make one weak...

I promised an update, and bless those of you who've emailed, called, even sent me cards and notes! It has been a surreal 10 days.

First, I wanted to post the food list I found for diabetics with gastroparesis, but I can't find the link any more. I turned the list into a PDF, though, and if you're fighting diabetic gastroparesis and you want me to email this to you, leave me an email in my comments. This sitehas given me a lot of information. So have the wonderful members of the Yahoo Gastroparesis Group

I figured out several key things:
•I can do this.
•I'm not alone.
•It could be way worse!

So in the past week, I've purged my pantry (Thanks, Macon and Heather, Angela, and Steve) and gotten most of the foods I can't have out of my house. I did this when I became GF, and I'll finish when Randy heads home Monday with a bag of goodies for him (he's taking some cooked steaks, for instance.) I got rid of all the beans, all the hard to digest stuff. Some of it was even GF food -- but I just couldn't

And, I tried a couple of foods just to see. Popcorn is out, even in very small portions. Nuts, unless in a small portion and chewed to smithereens, are out. But soft veggies, even GF organic baby food, works fine for some of this. And I don't really mind as long as I'm eating by myself. (The other day, a student caught me eating organic junior baby food oatmeal in my office. I find I don't react to it, it has a little bit of fiber, and it's good and filling at 100 calories...)

So what have I done? Many of you have asked. I'm averaging about 1000 - 1200 calories a day (sometimes a little more) and I'm mostly eating three small meals at mealtime and one morning snack. I try not to eat after 8 p.m. at night, and I sit up for at least an hour and a half after I eat my last meal of the day. I have cut back on diet sodas to about 1.5 of them a day, and I've added a couple of bottles of filtered water a day. (And yeah, I am losing weight really fast right now. But I need to, so I'm OK with it.)

For breakfast all week, I've made a sugar-free Carnation Instant Breakfast latte with soy creamer (GF). It has sustained me for several hours each morning. I also bought some EAS Advantage shakes (also gluten free) and I find them satisfying. I'm trying to consumer about 20 grams of protein each morning and about 220 calories. As I teach from 9:30 to 12:15, I might or might not have a snack on Tuesday and Thursday. But I could...

For lunch, I've thought small and fast. Live Active cottage cheese with sugar free mandarin oranges (very soft), YoBaby GF yogurt (one small container). One day I had 2 tablespoons of peanut butter; another day, I had some soup made with rice noodles. I still eat occasional helpings of GF pretzels, bread, and crackers, but I try to limit those to two servings a day. Next week I'm going to have a pouch of tuna fish. I don't want to end up like Jeremy Piven, though, so I will limit this to a couple of times a week.

I don't usually eat again til dinner time. Some days I have a midmorning snack, other days, I don't. One day I had a cup of Rice Chex with almond milk and a banana. Good stuff.

My dinners have been small - about 1 to 1.5 cups of food. Last night I had a cup of chicken salad and some cooked-to-mush carrots. I try to include a little margarine or fat (about a total of a tablespoon) for my skin and hair. Tonight I had leftover homemade GF Ground Beef Strogonoff (recipe follows!) and more veggies.

Tomorrow I'm making some chicken and pasta soup with mushy vegetables. And tomorrow night we're eating out, and I'll have a small bowl of rice and maybe some soup.

Reading the gastroparesis forum has been most enlightening. I am lucky -- I can still eat soft foods and a low-fiber diet. A lot of people younger than me have a feeding tube. I'm blessed that hasn't happened, and I hope to continue to heal myself so that doesn't ever happen. One person -- an engineer -- made me think in portion sizes instead of number of meals, and another had me think about energy levels needed. I need more protein on Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I need more protein at lunch on Monday and Wednesday (for those class days).

Most of all, I have tried to remain optimistic about it all. And you know what? I'm surprised by this, but I really don't miss the food. It's like not missing wheat products when I went GF -- I know how much it can hurt me, so suddenly, it doesn't matter that I can't have it.

Mostly, I had to channel YODA who reminds us:
There is no try, only do.

I promised you a GP-friendly GF recipe --

Ground Beef Strognoff

1/2 small onion, one clove garlic, three knobs of baby carrot and three small celery sticks (not whole carrots or celery stalks)
chopped extra fine and sauteed with 1 T. olive oil
One pound of 4 -5 percent ground beef
One can mushrooms (or a pack or sliced)
One can Progresso Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
4 dashes GF worcestershire sauce
1 dash of dry sherry (optiona)

Mince finely the veggies (there will be about a cup) and saute them in the olive oil. Add the fresh or canned mushrooms, cooking them until fairly limp. Add the ground beef and saute until browned and very crumbly. Mixture will be very crumbly. Salt and pepper to taste when browned.

Add the soup and heat until warmed through. Take off the heat and add sour cream (or yogurt) and worcestershire. Add the sherry if you have it for a little flavor.

I served over GF pasta (1/4 cup per 1 cup of stroganoff. Reheats beautifully. Makes about five one-cup servings.

I'll be back with new discoveries when I can. Thanks for your love and patience.

Much love, and thank you for reading!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A thought for today

One of my dear, sweet students/advisees, Lauren, sent this to me today, and I thought I'd share it. It is one of the many sweet, hopeful comments you have shared with me since I posted about my stomach malady.

"May the God of Hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I would like to overflow with hope right now...hope, instead of food. It's a really pertinent focus. I'm going to write it in my new food journal I started today.

Much love, and I'll write more on the 15th as promised!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The winds of change

I've been in a deep meditation over the past three days, trying to figure out my diet life. The fact that there have been gale-force winds all day, well, maybe that's the sign I needed. They are indeed the winds of change here at GFINGF.

No, this isn't about my Oprah-revelation "I'm going on a New Year, New You diet" kinda thing. But I don't know how I'm going to keep blogging about gluten-free cooking with the task before me.

This is about a medical emergency called gastroparesis. It is time for me to heal myself.

Backtrack: I have mentioned a couple of times here lately that I have been diagnosed with gastroparesis by my GI doctor. I have dealt with it for a long time, actually -- since Dr. Catherine Roberts diagnosed it in 2005 or 2006 -- and she said I had that before I decided to become gluten free, to be tested for Celiac, and before I found out about the pernicious anemia thing. ALL those items are chronicled here on this blog. Oh yeah, and the menopause thing after the ovary surgery. Whatever...

But really, after a battery of tests in December, I came to my senses. In fact, I told my sis Susan that things are going to drastically change. I HAVE TO CHANGE MY DIET. That, or as the GI doctor said "You have to treat your stomach as if you've had gastric bypass surgery, except without the benefit of the staples." My stomach does not empty but is massively bloated and distended, and this is because my type II diabetes has destroyed all the nerve endings in it. So I can only eat food that will naturally digest.

I have gastro (stomach) paresis (paralysis).

After 52 years of loving good food, I have to stop eating.

Yeah, you heard me. I have to stop eating.

Now I can no longer have:
Gluten and its derivatives;
Concentrated amounts of sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup;
Lactose (unless I take the Lactase);
Most grains, including the GF grains that I have come to depend on;
Nuts and dried fruits (except peanut butter, in tiny tiny quantities, and not chunky);
Foods high in fiber including dried beans, broccoli, vegetable peels, most fresh fruit with peels and raw veggies in general;
Salads and raw greens of most kinds (and salad dressings, too);
Fried foods (bye bye my one last indulgence -- Micky Ds fries...
High Fat foods;
Chunks of meat, especially beef, including meats with preservatives.

What do the experts expect?

Six small meals a day. Each meal of around six to eight bites of food, unless it's totally liquified, and then, no more than about a cup of liquid at a time. No diet soda or coffee or tea (ok, limited amounts) BUT ONLY after the meal is complete.
Sit up for an hour after I eat, or walk for a half hour, or both. Sleep with my head elevated.
New med in the a.m. to go with the three others I'm already taking.
...and most importantly....
Keep blood sugar as low as possible at all times (which right now is impossible because of another medication I'm having to regulate, but hey, I get it. I'm working on it and testing three times a day.)
And though I lost 10 pounds over the holiday break, you won't notice it -- and I might not lose any more weight, because that's not uncommon with this malady.

For four days, I have carefully counted my food intake and calories and written down every bite of food and how it affected my stomach. My Monday meal of Black Eyed Peas and turkey sausage....oooh groan. I shouldn't have done that. I'm going to keep journaling for a while, to see if I can figure it out.

But here are a couple of things I noticed already:
When my stomach doesn't empty, it doesn't growl. If it doesn't growl, I don't eat. I have gone 24 hours without food several times since Dec. 15. Most people can't imagine going 24 hours without eating, but I do it all the time. And my blood sugar is still elevated because of the fermenting food in my stomach.

Pleasant, isn't it? Well, I'm flummoxed by all of it.

So what is the purpose of this post? I was wondering that myself. Well, I have to take this new lifestyle to work tomorrow. And I don't know what to do.

What is this going to do to this blog? If you'll look at all my last food posts, you'll see that I posted about ham, prime rib, pecan pie, garlic drunk chicken, etc. Most of those foods I ate a small amount of in a one-meal-a-day plan over the holidays. (I'll admit it -- I also had to get some foods out of my system once and for all.)

But what does that mean for this blog? Well, I have other things I need to be doing for a while, and I hope you'll understand.
Do you really want me to blog about my morning power shake of almond milk and sugar free carnation instant breakfast? I didn't think so.

So I don't know what I am going to do for now, but I do know this: I need a little break and the time to figure things out. I need to read, do my research, take my pills, and change my life -- again.

Will you promise you'll check back in a week or so to see what's new? I promise I'll be back with an update on Jan. 15 with an update. But I gotta figure some things out, and I won't, in good spirit, be creating any new recipes right now.

Oh, and keep those emails and prayers and good thoughts a comin'.....I'm trying to keep my New Year's Resolution to be optimistic. And yes, I knew about this when I wrote that, too!

Much love, and thanks for understanding!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ham I am....

with apologies to Dr.Seuss....

But I was at the Publix today and noticed that the "leftover" hams are starting to get marked down, since Christmas and New Year's are over.

I made a variation of Alton Brown's City Ham yesterday, and I wanted to share it with you, since you might procure a ham in the next couple of weeks on the mark-down rack.

Follow Alton's directions for precooking and peeling the skin off the ham. But, instead of using his glaze, try this:

You will need:
one cup (or thereabouts) of dijon mustard
one-half cup of dark brown sugar
one cup of Apple Butter

yes, I said apple butter. Buy some at the WalMart or the produce stand (I prefer the homemade version I've listed here, but you can buy yours).

Slather the ham with mustard. Pack on the brown sugar. Then, smear on the apple butter.

Finish in a 350 degree oven covered tightly for one hour or thereabouts. Let it set for a half hour, and carve. There will be a beautiful, tangy, rich glaze.

Much love, and then YUM!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's the first day of the year 2009. I am filled with hope and happiness and cheer for our future.

And that, my friends and readers, is my New Year's resolution for 2009. My only resolution is to find ONE POSITIVE THING every day and marvel at its beauty and grace. In other words, I'm going to work on my attitude toward life.

Now, some of you may think that's the new hormones and B-12 shots talkin' (Remember that scene in Fried Green Tomatoes when Jessica Tandy asks Kathy Bates, "How many of them hormones are you taking, dear?") But I spent a lot of time being upset and hurt last year, and I don't want that this year. So my Mama, rest her sweet soul, said you spend your year the way you spend your New Years.

I choose optimism.

Now, my second resolution involves healing my gastroparesis, but as Alton Brown would say, that's another episode. And like politics and sausage making, the details of some things are best left out.

Let me just add that I hope you and yours had as nice a New Years as me and mine did. We went to the annual New Year's Eve party in Gainesville, with Jeffrey. Like last year, there was not much for me to eat, but in the end, it was OK. I didn't need or want much food, and I enjoyed the company and atmosphere (but there were about 70 people packed in a house the size of mine. Ca-razy! And Jeffrey set a beer record with THREE beers (I think four) and two glasses of champagne.

My first recipe to share with you in 2009 is based on a holiday gift we got from our dear sweet friends Coby and Jen O'Brien. XOXOX. In early December Coby brought Randy (aka Rand-Man)a huge beautiful jar of something he called "All Purpose Red Rub." Coby is such a dear, he included the recipe "So I would know there was positively no gluten." You GOTTA love a friend like that.

Four days before Christmas, I rubbed a five pound trimmed prime rib roast with this mixture, and it made the best prime rib I've ever eaten. Never made a prime rib? Buy one on sale and do this. You'll love it.

Coby's Rockin' Red Rub (I hope it's OK I share it with the readers, Coby. Full credit to you!)
1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated garlic
6 T. granulated onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 T. black pepper
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

MIX well and store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

5 pound or larger prime rib, bones on or off, your choice
2 cloves crushed garlic

Several (four worked great) days in advance but at least the day before, generously rub the roast with the rub. Bring to room temperature before roasting. Place on a v-rack in a roasting pan (I set the rack over a bed of chopped carrots). Insert slivers of the garlic into the meat and place on the rack. If you have a bone-in roast, put the bones down on the rack.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast from 18-22 minutes per pound until it comes to 135 degrees for rare. We cooked ours to about 150 degrees, this side of medium.

Let set about 20 minutes, covered with foil, then carve. Serve with garlic mashhed potatoes.

Much love, and HNY to you!