Spicy Mango Jalapeno Sausage & Red Lentil Pasta

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Technically, legumes are on the “don’t eat very often” list for me because they are considered an inflammatory food for those of us whose inflammatory mechanism is broken.

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For me, having pasta made with lentils is not as damaging as having pasta made with brown rice. So every now and then I treat myself and because I don’t have it often, it really feels like an indulgence.

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My husband prefers them with sauce, but I can eat them any which way. I love them. I’d say they have a slightly different texture than “regular” pasta, but nothing that is off putting. I think they’re fabulous!

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I cook mine longer than the directions suggest. More like 12-14 minutes. But be careful, because they go from aldente to way too done very quickly during those last few minutes.

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When you taste them at the end of the boiling time, they will seem a tad over done, but once they are rinsed and tossed with whatever you add to them, they firm right back up. A lot of the brown rice pastas react that way as well. I don’t know why, but it’s a good cooking hint to know!

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The Spicy Mango with Jalapeno are our favorite Aidells sausages, but again, I can’t eat them very often. Pre-packaged foods are loaded with sodium, another inflammatory. Although salt in itself isn’t bad for inflammation…but that is another post for another time.

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These are a little sweet and more spicy, they go so well with sauteed veggies of any kind! I think they are best grilled.

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Both the pasta and the sausages can be used in many different ways, the options are endless really.

Get creative!

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Pulsing & How To Plan A Road Trip When You Have Food Allergies

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Last week my mom and I spent some girl time in Montana. It was really nice to have a little getaway with just the two of us. As most of you know, with allergies and a chronic illness, there’s a bit of planning that needs to be done if a trip is to be enjoyable. Food allergies can throw a wrench in eating out when you’re on vacation, even if the restaurants you choose have “allergen free options”. I can eat out once or twice, but any more than that and the food allergy symptoms begin to mount.

Prior to boiling, poke a tiny hole in the fat end of the egg with a push pin and the shells will just peel right off.

Ignore my botched manicure and prior to boiling, poke a tiny hole in the fat end of the egg with a push pin and the shells will just peel right off.

Hard boiled eggs are a great option for traveling. Healthy, full of protein, and easy to eat on the run or sliced over a salad.

Hard boiled eggs are a great option for traveling. Healthy, full of protein, and easy to eat on the run or sliced over a salad.

Typically, when we travel I try to bring as many healthy snacking and meal options as possible. This means a lot of food prep before we leave. Spending a couple of days in the kitchen requires “feel good” days and a lot of energy. I’ve been in a Lyme flare since late November. Flares are unpleasant, and unpredictable. Some days I can feel decent enough to run errands and do other things and other days I’m either on the couch, in bed, or just feeling all around sick. The past 6 weeks symptoms have been on the incline.

I brought along the Nutribullet and individually bagged veggies and fruits for easy breakfast smoothies. Mom brought oatmeal and coffee and I added home made bread, honey, and tea to the breakfast mix.

I brought along the Nutribullet and individually bagged single serving veggies and fruits for easy breakfast smoothies. Mom brought oatmeal and coffee and I added home made bread, honey, and tea to the breakfast mix.

So last week I felt it was time to head to the doctor and discuss my options before things got out of hand. I was really looking forward to our trip and did not want to have to cancel.

I love to roast a whole chicken and then slice the meat for snacking, sandwiches, or to add to salads.

I love to roast a whole chicken and then slice the meat for snacking, sandwiches, or to add to salads. I put the white and dark meat in separate baggies and it travels very well.

The bad news is that there are no tests available that give a concrete answer as to whether antibiotics are successful at killing off the Lyme bacteria. This doesn’t mean they don’t work, it just means there’s no testing yet that proves that they do…or don’t. There’s really only the list of symptoms that get better or don’t. So rather than get obsessive about a “cure”, the goal right now is to get things under control and back into remission.

I booked us a hotel room with a full kitchen. I prepped marinated chicken and steak prior to leaving as to not have to fuss with bringing along a lot of ingredients.

I booked us a hotel room with a full kitchen. I prepped marinated chicken and steak prior to leaving as to not have to fuss with bringing along a lot of ingredients. I also brought along two sweet potatoes and we baked them in the hotel oven.

I do a lot of reading and research. Spending too much time researching and inside my own head, leads to higher stress levels and more and more questions. It’s imperative to have at least one person who can help you make some decisions. Thankfully, my doctor who originates from the east coast, is educated about Lyme and knows all the in’s and out’s of how it affects your body. She has a very calming presence which is a huge blessing when you are stuck in that swirl of “what should I do”.

I sauteed my favorite veggie combo, cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and spicy peppers. We just reheated it in the hotel room and it was fantastic.

I sauteed my favorite veggie combo, cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and spicy peppers. We just reheated it in the hotel room and it was fantastic.

At this point, the thought of going on 2-3 antibiotics at once for 1-3 years, along with dozens and dozens of supplements seems like a giant leap into a very scary realm where guessing is the norm. That regimen along with a whole host of other drugs is very common treatment for chronic Lyme. I’m not there and hope to never be, so I try to set those worries aside and leave those decisions on the back burner for when they may be necessary.

Three bean salad is one of my favorites, travels well, and is so simple to make! It was quite a treat as I've been abstaining from legumes.

Three bean salad is one of my favorites, travels well, and is so simple to make! It was quite a treat as I’ve been abstaining from legumes.

What we’re focusing on now is, “pulsing”. You wait until flare symptoms are very heightened and then you pulse antibiotics for a few weeks rather than staying on them long term. This method is done in hopes of killing those buggers while they are in a cycle roaming around outside of their biofilm protectant. Then you wait a few weeks and pulse again.

A mixed green salad is always a must. I made a nice avocado dressing, but I liked my mom's recipe better. I will share that with you this week!

A mixed green salad is always a must. I made a nice avocado dressing, but I liked my mom’s recipe better. I will share that with you this week!

It can help with symptoms too, so it can be win-win if it’s successful. That’s the plan for the next few weeks, then we’ll reassess and go from there. I’ll keep you updated as I go because as you already know, I feel that sharing information is imperative! I wouldn’t have even thought to ask my doctor to test me for Lyme Disease had someone else not shared their story with me and urged me to get checked.

Mixed activated nuts and seeds with vegan chocolate chunks for that something "sweet".

Mixed activated nuts and seeds with vegan chocolate chunks for that something “sweet”. Another treat I’ve been abstaining from.

The good news is that I’m a week into the antibiotic and the flare symptoms are lessening a bit. Mom and I had a great trip. We survived the sadness of two foodies not being able to eat out three meals a day every day. We saw some neat stuff and I took lots of pictures for you. So over the next few days, I’ll take you to see some of the sights.

And my all time favorite, watermelon slices. So good with a sprinkle of sea salt.

And my all time favorite, watermelon slices. So good with a sprinkle of sea salt.

See you soon!

Love this.

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Activated Seed & Nut Trail Mix

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One of the many benefits of paying attention to the food you put into your body is of course, better health. One of the downsides to doing a lot of research and reading about health, food allergies, and disease is that all of that information can be extremely overwhelming. Soon, you feel like there’s nothing you can eat that won’t upset your body in one way or another. Well, now you can add raw nuts and seeds to that ever-growing list.

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I’ve known for a while that there was negative information “out there” about eating raw nuts and seeds and how they are very hard on our digestive systems. They were created to survive in harsh conditions and then be able to sprout when the sun and rain makes an appearance. When we eat them raw, the phytic acid that is beneficial for their survival is not beneficial to us. It binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract, causing irritation and doesn’t allow for nutrient absorption. When your stomach and intestines are continually being irritated by foods your body cannot digest or foods you are sensitive or allergic to, your immune system suffers greatly. And when your immune system suffers, your entire body is affected.

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You may be thinking, but I feel fine when I eat raw nuts and seeds! But here’s the issue. Our guts are in a battle. They’re in trouble. Your gut is the center of your immune system and ours are a mess which is proven by the astronomical amount of humans with auto immune diseases, cancer, hormone imbalances, IBS, Fibromyalgia, mental disorders, stress disorders, and all kinds of other issues. It’s a domino effect. The more we ignore our guts and continue to put things in them they can’t tolerate, the more out of balance we become. We may not have that immediate reaction of “Oh! What I just ate made me really ill.” But little by little your body becomes overwhelmed and soon you feel “off” or “wonky” or “achy” or “fluish” more than you think you should, or you get sick a lot with colds and other things like migraines, strep throat, seasonal allergies, sinus infections, swollen glands… That’s your body telling you something is wrong. By really paying attention to what you feed it and how you treat it, you can go a long, long, way to feeling better.

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Help your immune system, help you. And for crying out loud, don’t believe everything you hear in the mainstream media. For years we’ve been reading about how fantastic raw nuts and seeds are for our health. “Eat a handful of almonds a day! Add nuts and seeds to your salads! Add them to your morning smoothie! Use nut flours to bake with! Use nut butters, they’re excellent for your body! Get your protein from nuts and seeds!” All of these statements have truth. But only if you’re able to digest the nuts and seeds properly and actually benefit from their nutrients. Otherwise they’re actually harming you, not helping you.

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Soaking nuts and seeds and then dehydrating them is simple. SO simple. I bought this dehydrator on Amazon. It was $73.79 (free shipping with Prime) and is very versatile. You can use it to dehydrate nuts and fruits, make fruit leather, make meat jerky, dry herbs…all kinds of things. And it’s incredibly simple to use, clean, and store.

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It’s BPA free and even has temperature settings already sorted out for you on the lid. The heating element is in the lid and covered so there’s no messy clean up like the old dehydrators with the exposed heating element on the bottom.

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It’s relatively quiet. Sounds like a low fan. I’ve run it all night for two nights in a row now with zero noise irritation or issues. It has 5 shelves and you don’t have to rotate them for even drying.

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You can Google how to soak raw nuts and seeds or use this resource like I did. Super simple and straight forward.

I soaked raw cashews and raw sunflower seeds because that is what I had on hand. Last night I also soaked and dehydrated raw pumpkin seeds. The resource link above will give you an easy timeline guide. I try to time my soaking so that I can dehydrate over night.

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The cashews needed 18 hours of dehydration, while the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds only needed about 6-8 hours.

The beginning stage of dehydration.

The beginning stage of dehydration after soaking for 2 hours.

After an 18 hour dehydration.

After an 18 hour dehydration.

They have a nice crisp, snap to them when broken in two.

They have a nice crisp, snap to them when broken in two.

Crunchy and delicious after only 6-8 hours.

Crunchy and delicious after only 6 hours.

Once the nuts and seeds have been dehydrated you can use them for nut and seed butters, grind them for flours, use them in smoothies, make your own nut milk, snack on them, and bake with them. Just allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Activated Nut & Seed Trail Mix

1 Cup of Activated Organic Raw Cashews 

1/2 Cup of Activated Organic Raw Sunflower Seeds

About 1/2 Cup of Dried Cherries

About 1/2 Cup of Dried Blueberries

About 1/4 Cup Organic Raisins

About 1/2 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/2 teaspoon of Organic Ground Cinnamon

About 6 grinds of Pink Himalayan Salt

Toss to combine and store in an airtight container.

RESOURCES:

http://yumuniverse.com/soaking-and-dehydrating-nuts-and-seeds/

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/the-benefits-of-soaking-nuts-and-seeds

http://www.vega-licious.com/soaking-nuts-seeds-and-legumes/

http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/recipes/appetizers-snacks/is-soaking-nuts-necessary-how-to-properly-soak-your-organic-raw-nuts/

http://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/69542/That-s-Nuts-A-Complete-Guide-to-Soaking-Nuts-and-Seeds

Pure & Simple Organic Body Lotion

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There is some controversy in the allergen world about beauty products.

There’s basically two schools of thought.

The first, is that it’s perfectly safe to use your food allergens like gluten and dairy on your skin. I’ve read all kinds of posts where people are touting that they have no negative outcome from doing so. 

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This includes body lotion, soap, face lotions and washes, and make up. They believe little, if anything, is absorbed through your skin and into your blood stream.

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The second school of thought is much different. They know that your skin is your largest organ and considering that people wear hormone patches, drug patches, allergy patches, slather hormone cream, cortisone and all kinds of other things on their skin prescribed by medical physicians that are meant to absorb…that our skin does in fact absorb all kinds of things and then shuffles much of it along to our blood stream and then through our liver.

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I of course reside within the second school of thought. I once read a blog where the woman said she uses absolutely nothing on her skin that she cannot eat right out of the jar. This made sense to me.

If you’re allergic to gluten and dairy or numerous other things, why would you rub them all over your largest living organ, every single day?

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Soft peaks after about 10 minutes.

There are lotions on the market that are free of dairy and gluten. However, have you ever read the ingredients list? I’m not willing to lick that off of a spoon.

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Stiff peaks after about another 10 minutes. It will end up being the consistency of butter cream frosting.

This home-made lotion is simple. Anyone can make it, it only has 2 ingredients that most of us have on hand. You can add a few drops of essential oil if you have those on hand too, but it’s not necessary if you don’t. I added a few drops of lemon and a couple of drops of peppermint.

Pure & Simple Organic Body Lotion

*Makes 2 Cups

2 Cups of  Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Organic 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I filled a small saucepan halfway with water and set a glass bowl in the top. Bring the water almost to a boil and add the coconut oil. Stir until thoroughly melted. Remove the bowl from the hot water and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Add the olive oil. Pour the mixture into the bowl of your mixer and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Attach the whisk. Whisk the oil mixture on medium high for 10 minutes and on high for 5-8 minutes until it emulsifies and is light and fluffy. Scoop into a container with a lid and keep in a cool place in your bathroom. Apply all over your body after a warm shower or bath.

Go With Your Gut

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Over the weekend I ordered a hot chocolate at a specialty shop downtown. I like to go to that particular shop because I know that their sipping chocolate is dairy free and they will make me a hot cup with almond milk.

Or so I thought. 

If possible, I usually watch people make my food and drinks. Because honestly, no one cares as much about my food allergies as I do. But on this occasion I was on a date weekend with my husband who has been traveling a lot. My focus was on him and we were chatting away, not paying attention to my favorite cup of sipping chocolate. As we walked out the door with my to go cup, I first put my nose to it and inhaled deeply as I always do. Ahhh…chocolate. Is there anything better on certain days?

Hmm…it smells different.

I stopped in my tracks. Took a couple of sips and again realized…something is different. I looked at my husband and said, “Do you think I should go back in and double-check if they made this with almond milk? I asked her to make it with almond milk right off the bat.” For whatever reason, I hate to be an alarmist. I hate to be one of “those” paranoid people who whine, or throw a fit when they think their order isn’t prepared properly. But my husband looked at me and said, “Just go back in really quick and ask. What’s wrong with asking?”

So I popped back in and nicely asked and… you guessed it. She made it with cow’s milk! I told them I was allergic to cow’s milk and that I had asked for almond milk. They apologized (kind of) and gave us a tiny little vegan caramel to share. How generous…and of course, made me another  sipping chocolate with almond milk.

Luckily, those two or three sips only resulted in mild stomach issues and a little swelling. There’s a theory that if you abstain from your sensitive foods and allergens that you can eventually add them back into your diet at some point once your gut has healed. Not so with me. My body now recognizes gluten and dairy almost immediately, where several years ago it would take 12-24 hours to appear.

This “accidental” exposure has happened to me numerous times with gluten and dairy. Seriously, more than I can count. It can make even the most anti-alarmist a little paranoid and skeptical. It has even happened in restaurants where I order off of the gluten-free menu and make sure there’s no dairy in my entrée.  As a matter of fact, sometimes when we are extremely busy, which we have been, we eat out a couple times a week. Even though I’m careful, very careful, I can tell after a few restaurant excursions that I am slowly being fed allergens in one form or another even if they tell me I’m not. Swelling joints, stomach issues, headaches, and if it’s really bad, shingles appear. Then I know for sure.

When we were standing at the counter waiting for my sipping chocolate, my  husband looked at me, shook his head, and said, “Always go with your gut.”

Wise words.

Always. Go. With. Your. Gut.

Who cares if people think you are an alarmist, paranoid, or just into the latest crazy diet fad? It’s your health and it’s important. A good reminder.

Here’s a very interesting article that popped into my email this morning. I am set up on Google Alerts for gluten and dairy intolerance articles. This article is very simple and informative in the way it explains the body’s response system to allergens, antibodies,  and how the inflammation process works. 

*Photo courtesy of DrOZFans.com

It’s All About The Bread

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People who have to go gluten free and/or dairy free are always pleased when they find a great recipe that they can prepare that is satisfying, delicious, and doesn’t make them sick for a week after eating it. Yep, three days to an entire week.  Those of us who are gluten sensitive, allergic to dairy, or have Celiac’s know the symptoms of being exposed to gluten and other allergens all too well, don’t we?

For me it’s joint pain, migraines, flu like symptoms, and extreme lethargy. Not even close to being worth going off the wagon and quite frankly, it can make you a little paranoid to eat other places besides your own home. I’ve been “glutened and dairyied” more times than I can count in restaurants and even at family and friend’s houses when they were sure the food was allergen free.

Because we have to eat to survive, and most of us enjoy eating and cooking, we’re always in search of allergen free recipes that our entire family can enjoy. Of course, all different types of recipes that allergy sufferers can eat and be happy with and that don’t make them ill are nice, but let’s just be realistic. For most of us who are gluten-free…

 It’s All About The Bread

Most people who are gluten-free are in a never ending search for the perfect bread. Perfect biscuits. Perfect buns. Perfect crackers. Perfect pizza dough. Perfect sandwich bread. Perfect sour dough bread…I think you get the idea.

What I have found is that as long as you are not looking for a gluten-free bread to taste EXACTLY like what you remember gluten bread tasting like, you’re going to be fine. It’s like wanting turkey bacon to taste like real bacon. Still great, but not the same.

I’ve tried many, many, gluten-free bread items. Some of them were shockingly terrible and others were surprisingly delicious. And surprisingly delicious is all I’m really looking for. I’m not looking to relive my gluten days, I just want gluten-free food, breads in particular, to be equally as great as any other food.

Over the next several weeks I’m going to be testing a lot of different types of bread recipes. I’m going to try some that are already gluten-free and many that are not and will need to be converted. I’m going to take you along with me and show you the good, the bad, and the ugly. Making gluten-free bread products is not always an easy task and I think it’s only fair that you get to see the work that goes into it. Even the failed recipes, instead of me baking for several weeks and only posting the ones that worked and turned out gorgeous.

So, over the next several weeks we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that we’ll have several new and delicious bread recipes to add to our weekly menus!

Happy and Patient Baking To You

~ April

**Pictures – eatocracy, glugleglutenfree, marketingandsalesguru, and pettysfinefoods

Change Isn’t Easy But It Is SO Worth It

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Breakfast This Morning - Veggie Scramble with Gluten-Free Toast, Dairy Free Butter, and Cutie Orange

Ahhhh…the allergen free life. It’s gotten much easier over the years but sometimes you forget what it was like when you ate whatever you wanted whenever you wanted and then, well, felt like total crap. When I’m tempted to fall off of the gluten-free and dairy-free wagon I try very hard to remind myself of how terrible I felt the last time I caved in. Horribly stiff joints, neck pain that requires anti-inflammatories, swelling, sore breasts, chest tightness and congestion, feeling so tired that it felt like someone drugged me, flu symptoms, migraines, irritability, itching, stomach and intestinal issues, and if I really overdo it, eventually a shingles break out which then gets my nervous system all whipped up. Just because someone’s throat doesn’t close and tongue doesn’t swell up does not mean that they aren’t allergic to certain foods or  don’t have food intolerances. Sometimes the symptoms are more subtle, sometimes people are eating their allergen foods daily and just have an overall “feeling yucky” kind of feeling. You know, when you’re not feeling up to par and you can’t figure out why? Some people can tell when they eat something that bothers them but they live on antacids instead of realizing that they shouldn’t be eating that food. They may think that it’s just irritating their stomach but in reality, if they are intolerant or allergic to what they are eating, it’s also taxing their immune system. I can’t say this too many times or loud enough…STOP IGNORING YOUR SYMPTOMS! 

We already know that food allergies worsen autism, can cause and or worsen ADD/ADHD, cause irritable bowel syndrome and all kinds of intestinal and stomach issues, and they are finding out more and more about the link between food allergies and intolerances to auto-immune diseases. Food allergies have also been  linked to arthritis, asthma, canker sores, shingles breakouts, eczema, and fertility problems. As Americans, a lot of us over-eat, over-work, over-stress, under-exercise, and ignore our health issues.

Do I miss certain foods? Of course! But not nearly as much as I thought I would. I probably miss pizza the most because to me, it’s the ultimate “I’m tired and don’t want to cook” comfort food. But, such is life. I can make all kinds of GF and DF pizzas that are absolutely delicious without all of the horrible side effects I listed above. As a matter of fact, I absolutely love proving that I can make almost anything gluten-free and dairy-free and still be satisfied and happy with what I’m eating. If you like to cook and bake, it’s easy. If you don’t like to cook and bake or don’t have the time, it will be a little more difficult, but not much. You won’t have as much variety but there are still all kinds of foods out there that you can enjoy.

If you’re new to this world of eating gluten-free and or dairy-free, I feel your pain. But just know that after a few months, you’ll feel so much better and you’ll get the hang of it. I’ve written a couple of articles filled with tips and advice to get you going in the right direction. You can find them here Arm Yourself With Knowledge and here Where Do I Start?.  I promise it’s not nearly as difficult as people make it sound. Placing yourself in the driver’s seat where your health is concerned is a gift of a happy life to not only you but your entire family. I am thankful every single day that I don’t feel like I used to and am taking charge of my own health, and I want you to feel that way too!