Saturday, June 27, 2015

I'll have extra salt but hold the carbs for fibro relief; plus chocolate-covered strawberry bars

Misha takes on couch potato pose with remote.
I was beginning to think hot summer temperatures (90s to 100+) were going to prove my match when it came to my fibro symptoms. My stomach was upset; my pain was worse; I was more tired than usual. I was chronically dehydrated because I spend a lot of time outdoors. Then, I remembered I need more salt.

In his book, From Fatigued to Fantastic, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum advises fibro sufferers to increase their intake of salt and water. He says to aim for 8-15 grams of salt and a gallon of water per day.

 I looked at my sea salt container to see how much salt that would be. One-fourth teaspoon of sea salt is 1.5 grams. Two teaspoons of salt would be 12 grams. Three teaspoons would be 16 grams.

That seemed like a lot of salt but Teitelbaum writes in his book about another physician, Dr. David Bell,  who specializes in pediatric CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) patients. Bell found 19 out of 25 patients did better when they received a quart of intravenous salt solution (saline) each day.

I'll pass on the intravenous salt solution because it's so much easier to simply increase your salt intake. As summer temperatures have soared, I have been adding salt to my water bottle, my meals, my snacks, everything. At first, I thought "is this really a good idea?" Everywhere we read that people consume too much sodium. But the proof is in the pudding, so they say. I feel much better.
All you need is a friend to hang out with on a hot summer day.

My formula is "I'll have extra salt but hold the carbs, please." Sodium (salt) is essential for a healthy diet as it is one of the electrolytes. If you are eating a whole foods diet (free of junk food loaded with sugar and salt), you don't need to worry. Salt is liberally added to processed foods which adds up quickly along with a bunch of other ingredients you probably should avoid. Individuals with fibro often do better by following a low carb, higher protein diet. I follow a low carb, low fermentation diet.

I have read forums where people comment that salt sets off their fibro pain. What sets off pain varies from person to person. It's also important to look at your overall diet because high carb foods that feed bad bacteria in the gut may be the culprit.
Chocolate-covered strawberry bars
All this hot weather has made me crazy for frozen dessert bars. I made these Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Bars which, of course, are low carb and low fermentation.

Here's what you need for four bars:

1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1 T. yogurt of your choice or milk beverage of choice
1/4 cup coconut oil
stevia, to taste
pinch of sea salt

Here's what you need for the chocolate coating:

2 T. cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 tsp. vanilla powder
dash of cinnamon
stevia, to taste
dash of salt

Here's what you do:

Mix the strawberry bar ingredients in your Vitamix or other blender. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Place the pan in the freezer until the bars are frozen.

Once your strawberry mixture is frozen, cut bars or bite-sized pieces. Then, mix up the chocolate coating by melting the coconut oil first. Stir in the other ingredients until blended.

Dip your bars or bite-sized pieces into the chocolate coating. Rotate the pieces around to get complete chocolate coverage. Allow the bars to rest for a minute. Then, dip again to get a thicker chocolate coating. Return the bars to the freezer until ready to eat.

Article/recipe contributed to:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cricket flour provides alternative for low FP diets; mocha chocolate cricket bar recipe

My friend Al samples a Chapul Aztec Cricket Bar.

I’m always on the look out for new foods to try that will fit my low-starch, low-carbohydrate lifestyle. Fibro sufferers most often have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) which makes them unable to digest many carbohydrates.

I’ve seen all kinds of new flours lately for those of us on healing diets, such as the low fermentation diet, paleo diet or paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP).  All of these flours (sigh) are too high in starch and carbohydrates for those of us with digestive systems lacking the enzymes to digest them. I never thought I’d be trying cricket flour, made from 100 percent ground, food-grade crickets. This high-protein flour with no carbohydrates is a good option as long as you are not bothered by the insect “ick” factor.
Chapul Cricket Bars

I have to admit I was first introduced to cricket flour in the form of Chapul Cricket Bars. These gourmet, delicious bars had me wanting more ways to eat crickets.

I decided to try the Chapul bars after seeing them featured on the ABC television show, Shark Tank. They are similar to Larabars in taste and texture. I ordered a sampler pack of three bars, including Chaco (peanut butter and chocolate), Aztec (dates and chocolate) and Thai (coconut, ginger and lime). These bars all contain cricket flour and sell for $2.99 to $3.25 each. The cricket bars are pricey but worth giving them a try as Chapul donates 10 percent of their profits to fund water conservation projects.

I was sold on the Chapul Aztec bar. The others contained ingredients I need to avoid. Other friends and family members were guinea pigs for the Chaco and Thai bars and found them delicious too.
100 percent pure cricket flour

The Aztec bar is a delectable combination of dark chocolate, dates, coffee and cayenne powder.  It was dense, not overly sweet and definitely gourmet. The heat from the cayenne lingers just a bit.

I am a little sensitive to dates and definitely need to watch my carb intake. The bar has 150 calories, 36 grams of carbohydrates (7 grams of fiber), 5 grams of protein and 17 percent DVA of iron. The bar caused me no problems but I thought why not purchase cricket flour to make my own version where I have more control over the ingredients.

The cricket bars and/or cricket flour a good option for someone like me who cannot eat regular flours or even gluten-free varieties because of starch malabsorption problems. I also lived in Thailand for awhile and discovered how people in other parts of the world eat insects as a mainstay of their diets.

I don’t have to avoid crickets for any reason but those who have a crustacean or shellfish allergy shouldn’t eat them. Crickets are arthropods, just like shrimp, crabs and lobsters.

Some other facts about cricket flour:

·         It’s a rich source of protein and other nutrients. A 2-tablespoon serving of cricket flour contains 55.3 calories, 7.6 grams of protein, 4.4 percent DVA of iodine, 3.6 percent DVA of magnesium, 23.5 percent DVA of riboflavin, 16.7 percent DVA of Vitamin B12 and 14 percent DVA of zinc.

·         Crickets are more environmentally friendly to produce than cows or pigs that require a large amount of feed and water to produce. Crickets use little water and mostly eat agricultural byproducts, such as broccoli stalks.

Here’s how I made my own Mocha Chocolate Cricket Bars. You will need:

2 ounces of organic dates (get dates with no sugar or sulfites)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cricket flour (can sub more almond flour instead of cricket flour)
2 T. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. powdered pure stevia
2 T. strong liquid coffee
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla powder
1 grassfed egg
For optional frosting see this post:

 Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Prep your dates by softening them in 1 T. warm water. Add everything to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into your lined loaf pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare optional frosting and frost your loaf when cooled. Cut into bars.


Recipe contributed to:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My furry friends help my fibro; paleo people, pup pulp treats

Nika, left, and Misha, right, my furry pals, plus Bailey, the cat, not shown
My furry pals help my fibro. As an animal lover, I get health benefits every day from my trio of pets, Nika and Misha, the snow dogs, and Bailey, the cat.

Living the fibro life can be difficult but a pet that loves you unconditionally can help make you feel better. In fact, scientific studies have shown that pets can improve your health. Of course, if you don't like pets, it's not going to help.

How do my fur buds help me? My fur kids love to be petted. In just a few minutes, stroking their fur helps lower my blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which contributes to fatigue. What better way to fight the fatigue of fibromyalgia!

Play is something else my pets adore. Turns out playing with them help me too by releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormone, that stays around long afterwards.

Dogs like exercise more than anything (well, except for food). Guess who takes them for walks. They feel better and so do I after taking them on a walk. They are better than any "app" on your phone reminding you to do exercise.

Those of us with fibro sometimes feel all alone in our battle with the disease. It can be easy to get depressed but pooches or cats can help with that too. Animals provide therapy for those suffering from depression with their calm, loving manner. And they make great listeners too!
Misha gets a paleo people, pup treat

I guess you can tell I am a super fan of my pets. They are a big factor in my healing. So, my fibro protocol would look like this "Amp up your SHINE with Pets." SHINE, of course, is a protocol developed by fibro doctor Jacob Teitelbaum in his book, From Fatigued to Fantastic.

The "N" in SHINE stands for nutritional support which those of us with fibro need a lot. One thing that helps me is juicing because I can absorb the nutrients more easily from juice than whole fruits and veggies. But I do end up with a lot of pulp from the juicing process.

My pooches are the beneficiaries of all this pulp. They love it topped with a smidge of kefir. But this week I decided to transform the pulp into something else the pups would like---Paleo people, pup pulp treats.  Yes, these treats are good for people and pups!

Pulp treats ready for snacking
Here's what you need:

1/2 cup ground pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
3/4 cup powdered freeze-dried chicken or almond flour
1 1/2 cup pulp from juicing (avoid using pulp with onions, garlic, grapes as these are not good for dogs)
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil

The dough flattened to 1/4 inch.
Here's what you do:

Grind your seeds into a coarse powder. I found the powdered chicken in the bottom of a can of freeze-dried chicken. You can sub almond flour. Blend all the ingredients in your food processor.

Use a pizza cutter to score the dough into pieces. Looks like I cut 24 pieces.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the dough on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper with a drizzle of olive oil. Flatten the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness with your hands. It works best if you keep your hands wet during the flattening process. Then, score the dough into pieces with a pizza cutter or knife.

Bake the treats for 15-20 minutes. Then, spread out the pieces and return them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Continue baking the treats until they are crispy.

Nika gets ready to inhale a treat.
Your pets are in for a real treat once your paleo people, pup pulp goodies are cooled.

Post shared on: 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Help yourself when it comes to fibro treatment; plus breakfast brownies

"Hey, little buddy, you want to play?"
Getting a proper diagnosis can be one of many difficult challenges you face as an individual with fibromyalgia or other autoimmune disorders. It took me several decades searching for answers.

Along the way, I was incorrectly diagnosed many times and given medications that made my condition worse; asked to take expensive medical tests; called a "mystery"; and told my symptoms were all in my head and offered tranquilizers to calm me down.

It turns out my search for answers was not that unusual. The majority of individuals eventually diagnosed with serious autoimmune diseases had significant problems in getting a correct diagnosis, according to a survey conducted by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).

Just like me, other autoimmune sufferers had either been incorrectly diagnosed or told their symptoms were all in their heads because they were under too much stress. Forty-five percent of autoimmune patients had been labeled hypochondriacs.

I admit I no longer trust doctors. Sometimes, I wonder if they simply spin a wheel to make a diagnosis. These days, I take everything a medical practitioner tells me with a grain of salt. I tell others who have a difficult to diagnose set of symptoms to do the same and "help" themselves by being well informed. Prepare for each doctor's appointment with documentation.

  • Search not only the internet for information but be aware of health problems shared by your immediate family as well as relatives. (Make sure your children are informed about family health problems.) 
  • Keep a journal where you detail all your symptoms. These symptoms often are related but on the surface, may appear unrelated.
  • Go to doctor's appointments armed with a list of symptoms in order of concern to you. This list will keep you focused  and prevent the discussion from getting off track during the appointment.
  • If your doctor calls you a "mystery," it's probably time to search for a different doctor. 
  • Talk to family and friends to find a medical practitioner who might be the right fit for you.
  • Seek referrals. Often, agencies that raise awareness about specific autoimmune diseases keep referral lists.
My biggest pet peeve about those in medical field is they like to go on a "fishing expedition" at your expense. They order lots of tests that are costly and painful, and provide no helpful information. My husband who is even more jaded than I says they need a new Mercedes when they order these tests.

If your doctor orders a test, you should ask a whole bunch of questions and do a lot of research because they might just come back with the test results and tell you "you're a mystery" again.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the purpose of this test?
  • Has this test been helpful in diagnosing individuals like me with similar symptoms?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • How much does this test cost and is it covered by health insurance?
  • Will medications given with this test make me worse?
Breakfast brownies for after all this mind-bending information
Keep these things in mind as you are searching for answers:

  • You are the customer. Demand proper service and get satisfaction. 
  • You don't have to do everything and get every test they suggest.
  • Advocate for yourself and don't be intimidated.
  • Seek additional opinions, if necessary.
  • Remember you may know more about your problem than the doctor does. Many doctors aren't well informed about autoimmune disorders.
  • Use the internet to connect with others with similar problems. This may shed some light on how to treat your problem.
How about some delicious brownies, even good for breakfast, after all that serious but important information?

Here's what you need for two large or four small brownies:

2 T. pumpkin puree
1/4 cup shredded zucchini
2 T. cocoa powder
1 T. almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 T. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. powdered stevia
1 egg
1 T. yogurt or milk of your choice

Here's what you need for the frosting:

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 T. milk of your choice
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder
1/4 tsp. powdered stevia

Here's what you do for the brownies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the brownie ingredients in a food processor. Process until a smooth mixture is formed. Pour the mixture into containers of your choice. I chose two small loaf pans, lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cool well before slicing.

Don't forget the frosting.

Whip all the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl as shown above. You will get enough frosting for the brownies as well as nibbling on. 

If you are on the low fermentation potential diet, one brownie has an FP of 3 by my calculations. 

Voila, the finished product.

    Recipe and article submitted to: