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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blueberry Banana Muffins are my favorite

So what are your favorite gluten free muffins?
Care to share?
Hope you enjoy my recipe. Please adapt to your preference of gluten or not. If you are able to eat gluten simply replace with your own wheat flour, same amount applies.
3/4 chickpea flour
3/4 brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan or guar gum
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup oil( I like to use coconut oil but you can use safflower or sunflower oil)
4 bananas mashed
1 cup blueberries
Mash bananas in a bowl
Add oil, syrup and vanilla
Add in remaining ingredients and mix well. Add blueberries last. If mix is a lite dry you can add some water. I tend to use very ripe frozen bananas that I have kept in my freezer and they yield more liquid.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake 350F
for approx 30 minutes

Is there a difference between a Food Allergy and a Food Intolerance?

Is there a difference between a Food Allergy and a Food Intolerance?
I get asked this question quite a lot actually and it is a great question.
The answer can be quite easy or quite involved; basically yes there is a big difference between the two.
Allergy refers to a response of the immune system. It involves immunological processes similar to (but not exactly the same as) those that fight and reject an agent that can cause diseases, such as a pathogenic (disease-causing) micro- organism.
Hypersensitivity is the term scientists use to describe the immunological process that results in allergy. The terms allergic reaction and hypersensitivity reaction are often used interchangeably.
Food Intolerance refers to a reaction that does not involve the immune system. It is caused by a problem in the way the body processes the food or food additive. The term food intolerance is not interchangeable with either food allergy or hypersensitivity.
Food sensitivity is a rather non- specific term that refers to a person’s reacting adversely to a food or component of the food when it is not clear whether the reaction is due to allergy or intolerance.
The term food sensitivity is therefore interchangeable with either food allergy or food intolerance, but it does not give any indication of the reason for a person’s symptoms.
Food sensitivities can affect any organ system in the body. Fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, ear infections, post nasal drip, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, Chrohn’s disease, high blood pressure, eczema, hives, muscle aches, headaches, migraines and asthma are some of the symptoms due to food allergy.
Allergy Types
Our immune system can produce symptoms simply as a result of our ingesting food; this is known as a food allergy. Food allergies are classified into four types:
1-      Anaphylactic
2-      Cytotoxic
3-      Antigen-antibody complexes
4-      Delayed hypersensitivity
There are two types of allergic reaction: fixed and cyclic. Fixed reactions are IgE mediated and are easily recognized. If you eat a particular food and immediately get sick or break out, you know what food is triggering the reaction, especially if it happens every time you eat that specific food. Cyclic or delayed food allergy is hard to detect. Sometimes the reaction can be delayed and symptoms appear hours or days later. It is estimated that only five percent of food allergy is immediate and ninety-five percent is delayed.
Type I Reactions
Anaphylaxis is usually IgE mediated. In this instance, the body manufactures an antibody when a foreign substance ( an antigen) gains access to the intestines, lung or skin.
An anaphylactic reaction is fixed and can vary from mild to fatal, but usually appears within minutes of ingestion of the food. It can affect respiratory tract ( bronchial obstruction, wheezing), the gastrointestinal tract ( nausea, vomiting, bloating, or diarrhea), the cardiovascular system ( hypotension and shock), and the skin ( hives). Sensitivity to the food usually persists for more than two years, even after the food is removed from the diet; therefore, the only treatment for this is elimination of the offending food.
Type II and Type III Reactions
Cytotoxic reactions (type II) involve IgE or IgM mediated responses and are cyclic in nature. IgG and IgM are antibodies that are made to defend our immune system. Unlike a fixed food allergy, a cyclic allergy is exposure dependent. Therefore, the more frequently a sensitive food is ingested, the greater the IgG reaction, which leads to increased sensitivity. Treatment for this type of allergy is to eliminate the food for six months, then reintroduce it to the diet, but not eat it every day. The reason for eliminating the food for six months is so the IgG falls to a low level. When the food is reintroduced, there will be a slight elevation of IgG, but limited exposure will keep the IgG low, therefore not producing allergic symptoms. Doctors suggest a rotation diet in which the suspected food is eaten only every four days. Infrequent exposure to this food ensures that IgG reactions will not become elevated and reactive symptoms high. Type III reactions are when antigen-antibody complexes are formed in the blood. Symptoms are not always immediate and can be delayed, therefore not always relating to food ingestion. Like type I, they are difficult to diagnose.
Type IV Reactions
These are cell mediated immune reactions, which are triggered by the interaction between actively sensitized lymphocytes and specific antigens. These types of cyclic reactions can be the most difficult  to diagnose, as the T-cell effect develops twenty-four to seventy-two hours after the ingestion of the antigen, so it is difficult to say which food is causing the reaction.
Skin tests and IgE Rast tests will not detect these, so doctors often tell people that they do not have food allergies when in fact they do.

There are many ways of testing for food allergies. Stay tuned for my next blog entry which will describe the different ways of testing for food allergies.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where's The Beef? and Goodbye to our good doggie friend Jake

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Yesterday we drove out to pick up our beef order at Brassils Creek Farm, just south of North Gower.
We are thrilled to be getting top quality organic meat from our local farmers, who farm responsibly and do not fill their cattle with hormones and antibiotics.
We were able to see the barns and pastures where the cattle graze and even got to meet their dairy cow who was resting in a closer paddock as she was lame. Separating here from the herd and letting her rest is how they bring her back to health, and only if necessary will they give her an antibiotic. So unlike the big farmers who give antibiotics daily just for the hell of it.
They had just birthed a calf and we were going to go see her, but we were short on time as my hubby had to get back to our renovations which are wonderful, but seem to be taking forever.
We enjoyed our time with Scott and I was especially lucky because I got to hold their little Oliver, their fourth son who is around 7 months old. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love babies...
Plus we got to visit with their two Springer Spaniels. Our Spaniel mix Comet wasn't to sure about young Piper who wanted to play with him. At 16 years of age, Comet is slowing down and just likes to putter around sniffing all the good smells in the country.

A month ago we received our delivery of lamb which we got from Scott's brother in law. I have to say it is the most delicious lamb I have every tasted. Last night we had lamb chops. I cooked them slowly in my cast iron pan with a little rosemary, garlic and salt on them. They melted like butter in our mouths. I will never buy store bought lamb again.
We feel so lucky to be able to get meat of this quality and wish more farmers would take the time to farm healthy.

We can hardly wait to taste our beef and will decide tomorrow which cut to try first. Steaks, roast or stew? Hmm, what a decision.

On a sadder note, we want to say goodbye to one of our best loved Canine friends. Our friends Damien and Greta had to put down their gorgeous yellow lab Jake on Friday. Jake was with them for twelve and a half years and was a super dog. He was the king of the neighbourhood and had many girlfriends for sure, both canine and human.
As Jake's Daddy owner was a policeman for 30 years Jake would howl whenever he heard a siren go by and was seen by many in Hampton park over the years.
Jake you will be missed, but we know you are are in doggie heaven chasing squirrels, ducks and sticks galore.
We love you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

PH 101- Acidity vs Alkalinity

So what exactly is PH and why is it so important for your body to be more alkaline than acidic? I am so glad to share this with you all, as it is majorly important for our health and well being.

PH stands for " potential of hydrogen" it is the measurement of hydrogen ions in a particular solution. The more ions the more acidic the solution. So think of our body as a solution, for optimal health we want our bodies to be more alkaline than acidic. On the PH scale -4.5 being very acidic to +9.5 being very alkaline you optimally want to be about 7.5.

The best way to find out if you are acidic or alkaline is to buy some PH paper ( litmus paper strips) sold in most health food stores. The simplest and easiest way to test, is to test your urine, as it is the most reliable bodily substance to test.  These strips are similar to the way you used to test your pool chlorine levels, dunk em in and see the results.
To test your urine, simply hold a little strip of paper in the flow of your urine for a second or two. It will change colour and you can compare it with the chart that is included with your PH paper to see where you are on the scale. For optimum health you want it to be around 7. Your levels will vary throughout the day and depending on what you have eaten during the day.
To get the best result check you PH levels mid morning, before meals or at least 2 hours after eating. One reading will not tell you much, you have to decide to do this for at least a week or two and track your readings to see where you are. A few weeks of testing will give you a good idea of where your body is at.

Different parts of your body have different levels of acidity.  Your blood needs to be slightly alkaline for optimum health, as do your tissues.
Your stomach is the most acidic part of your body with a PH of about 2. This is due to the hydrochloric acid used to fight foreign invaders and it helps to break down food.
Skin, bowels and a woman's vagina should be a bit acidic as well to keep unfriendly bacteria at bay.

Evidence of an acidic body can be everything from a runny nose, skin issues, inflammation, arthritis, poor circulation, irritable bowel syndrome, a weakened immune system and even cancer.

A lot of illness can be traced back to too much acidity in the body.

It is so easy for the body to become acidic with our North American diet. Foods like meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, alcohol, coffee, sugar, processed oils, energy drinks, yeast, refined grains, white bread, pasta, and the list goes on.
All these foods increase our acidic levels in our body making our body work that much harder. When our blood has too much acid it in it, it dumps the excess acid into our bloodstream and tissues. Then our lymphatic system tries to neutralize all that acid and so you can see where this can lead to illness and dis-ease in the body. Acid puts an enormous strain on our digestive system, liver and kidneys. Neutralizing all that acid also creates extra molecules called free radicals which damage our cells.
We all know that free radicals can cause major issues in our body and so why not try to limit the free radicals in our bodies by eating a more alkaline diet.

Foods like avocadoes, wheatgrass, green veggies,sprouts, almonds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, lentils, beans, lemons, limes, cold pressed oils like hemp, flax and borage seed and alkaline water will all help us to keep our bodies more alkaline than acidic.

So when you are out doing your next shop, add more green leafy vegetables to your cart, and some avocadoes. Forget the potatoes and processed foods and give your body a break. You will feel better for it, I promise!

Last night we made a big tossed salad to go with dinner, it was delicious. This is what is had in it.
Romaine lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, celery, green onion, avocado, and cauliflower. We cut everything really small into bite size pieces and dressed it simply with organic cold pressed olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. Let it marinate for an hour and it is spectacular. Let the salad be the biggest portion on your plate and live green!

Lots of love,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Raw Rocks

I am so lucky to be staying with my best friend and her husband during our renovations. She and I have been having so much fun these past few days.

We are both on healing journeys. She is following the PH Miracle by Dr. Robert Young and has been doing a raw food cleanse for over 6months now.
Her Lupus is in remission and I am so proud of her. It is so powerful to know that we have control over our health, something that I have been learning these last few months.
Both she and I are also doing hypnotherapy as well as other natural healing modalities. We both love our hypnotherapist Johanna Lynn, who is so insightful and gentle with our subconscious minds. We are learning that our thoughts are so very important in healing and well being. Along with daily meditation we also listen to Louise Hay our new Guru in positive healing.

This morning my friend and her husband took me to the IMAX theatre to see Born To Be Wild in 3D. She had to sort of drag me there as I am not great at the IMAX theatre. It makes me sick to my stomach actually. I have always had motion sickness, whether on a train, plane, boat, or merry go round. She said to me, Shirl, you will love 3D. My good friend James is a director in Toronto and has been filming in 3D for years. So I am happy to say I have now experienced 3D.

The movie is narrated by Morgan Freeman and to watch the baby elephants play with each other and then be re released back to wild warms your heart. If you know me ,you know I have a deep love of Elephants and monkeys. The Orangutans are so like us it is scary in some ways. To see them swing from tree to tree and play and be mischievious is simply wonderful and a great way to spend 50 minutes. Yes I admit I had to close my eyes through part of it as I did get nauseous at certain points in the movie. But I highly recommend the movie to all of you.
We are so blessed in Ottawa to have the IMAX theatre and the Museum of Civilization. The leaves are turning colours and the drive over to Gatineau was wonderful.

After the movie we went to a restaurant that I have been wanting to go to for the past 4 months. It
is called La Belle Verte and is a vegan/raw food restaurant.
In my quest for wellness I am trying to adopt a more raw diet and so this restaurant fits the bill. My friend and I shared a raw pizza and a vegan quiche. They were both so delicious and you knew you were eating such healthy food. Instead of a baked whole wheat pizza crust, they make it with dehydrated flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, sea salt and other yummy things. Then it has pesto, avocado, olives, sun dried tomatoes and peppers on top. All raw. Delicious!

It has been a wonderful day and it was such a gift to get out and experience life with my friends. If you have read my recent blogs you know I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this summer has been a bit rough. Not a lot of energy and really not feeling that I could do a whole lot.. So as my wonderful husband renovates our bathroom I am feeling quite indulged and comfortable in my home away from home.

Sending out much love and healthy, positive thoughts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Living with Environmental Sensitivities

Well here I am blogging again.

Today I want to share with you the 'joys' of living with environmental sensitivities.

I am very lucky and have a hubby who is very talented at renovating.
We have decided to redo our main bathroom as it was looking a little sad and we think the shower/bath might be leaking. As someone who reacts to mold I want the bathroom to be free of any mold especially if it is behind the walls.
So the past month we have been out looking for tiles and accent pieces for the shower and bath.

Because of my sensitivities we bought our bathtub over 8 months ago and stored it at a friend's place so it could off gas. Acrylic tubs can off gas for quite a while. We also bought our vanity 6 months ago and it has been off gassing in our garage. Most people wouldn't even think of this as they would just order their tub and vanity or hire someone to come in and put it all in. That would make me very sick, so everything has to be planned well in advance and even still there is the chance that when I return home I may react to some of the off gassing.
It has been quite the learning process for my husband as this was all very new to him and so we researched and went to place like the Healthiest Home when we renovated our house. Products like natural bamboo floors, no voc paint, formaldehyde free plywood and the list goes on. At times it can be overwhelming for him as he has to ask about everything he does before he does it, and even then, sometimes a product that is quite inert will still cause me to react.

Every time we do any type of renovation I have to leave the house or I risk reacting to the chemicals that are being used. It is a bit of a pain, but it is just part of who I am and I am so grateful that I have a best friend who has a lovely spare bedroom just waiting for me.

These days there are so many healthier options. We have always used no or low VOC Paint ( volatile organic compounds) it is better for the environment and really everyone would be better off using it in their homes. Especially those new parents who always seem to decide right before the baby is born to paint the babies room. There are so many chemicals in paint and it can take up to 30 days or more for the chemicals to off gas and you have a new little one breathing in all those fumes.
See info below on VOC's
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

So as you can see it is a good idea to use products that have no VOC's in them.

Needless to say it has been a busy time getting ready to renovate and move to my girlfriends house.

I always like to take food with me and with my food allergies it makes it easier on everyone if I bring food. A lot of our meals are shared and my girlfriend is following the PH Miracle Diet so it can get complicated when we are fixing meals together.

Yesterday I made on of my favourite soups that is in my cookbook, Finally... Food I Can Eat.
Zucchini soup is such an easy, healthy soup to make and of course I had to make some oatmeal cookies to take so that when I get the munchies I have a healthy cookie to snack on.

Check out the recipe below for oatmeal cookies and let me know how you like them. I think you will love them!

Oatmeal Cookies
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1 egg or egg replace ( I use flaxseed)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins or carob or choc chips

In a food processor mix sunflower seeds, oats, oat flour. Add in everything else and mix. Spoon drops onto a cookie sheet and bake 350F for 15 minutes or until done.
Instead of an egg I will take 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and add it into the water called for in this recipe. For more egg replacers check out my cookbook

Testing my iPhone blogging

This is a great way for me to be able to blog when I am away during our up coming renos!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's For Dinner?

So today despite waking up this morning with a migraine ( thank you Universe for Axert), I got out to do some grocery shopping. I stopped at our local Parkdale Market where I picked up some yellow beans, carrots and bartlett pears.
I am eating a pear right now and it is delicious! I love pears and have yearned for them all summer.

I also stopped at a local butchery in Ottawa ( Saslove's) for those of you who have never been there, all I can say is go.
This is where I get all my deli meats ( they are all nitrite free and have no preservatives and are made with local, hormone and antibiotic free meats) My favourite is the smoked turkey. I also picked up some locally raised grass fed beef and some nitrite free all natural chicken and lamb sausages.

I am trying to stay away from regular store bought beef because it is full of hormones and antibiotics and they are not grass fed but grain fed.
A cow is meant to eat grass people, not grain! Farmers get them to eat grains and fill them full of hormones so they will grow faster and so they can get to slaughter faster.
If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be the real deal and so I will spend the extra money ( yes it is more expensive), but I think if more people demand grass fed beef then more farmers would go back to the old and better ways of raising cows.

This afternoon like all afternoons I lay down to meditate or do relaxation. I find my fatigue levels have been quite bad lately and so sometimes I rest for an hour sometimes 3 hours. My favourite thing to listen to is a mindfulness CD by Jon Kabbat Zin. I actually look forward to it and try to think of it as my time, time for my body to rest, relax and heal, instead of thinking "boy I wish I felt well enough to be out doing something or working today." It really is all about thinking positively no matter what is going on in your life.. Somedays it is hard to do I know, but try it, it may help.

So what is on tonight's menu?

Barbeque steak which has been marinating most of the day in lemon juice, organic olive oil, garlic and onions. I marinate my meat in lemon juice as it helps to lower free radicals that occur when barbequing meat.  Free radicals can promote cancer cells. So if you are going to barbeque, think of marinating your meats in lemon juice or a type of vinegar for at least 4 hours prior to cooking.
Tonight's menu will also include lightly cooked yellow beans, and carrots done on the barbeque. Carrots are easy to cook on the barbeque and they have such a great flavour done this way. You can put them in foil with a little olive oil or if you have a bbq cooking grill for cooking vegetables you can use that. Sometimes I put some freshly ground black pepper on the carrots or even some fresh rosemary from our garden. Make sure they are all flat and not on top of each other, better for even cooking. Always cook on lower heat with your barbeque as it reduces the risk of free radicals occurring.

Well happy cooking, thanks for reading my blog and lots of love to you all.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of Autumn so I thought it would be nice to share one of my Fall type recipes. 

I find that once the days start to be shorter and the nights cooler I feel like cooking. 
One of my favourites things to make is soups, but because I don’t have a lot of energy I am not one to spend a lot of time making soups. I want them to be easy, quick to make, tasty and of course good for me.
Here is one of my favourites from my cookbook, Finally... Food I Can Eat. Hope you enjoy it!

Sweet Potato Lentil Soup

Olive Oil
1 cup red lentils
4-5 cups water
3 large carrots or half a bag of the little pre cut ones
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp cumin or turmeric or fresh ginger
My favourite is to use fresh ginger

Wash lentils and discard and foreign objects ( sometimes you find little rocks in with the lentils)
In a soup pot sauté onion in oil for 5 minutes. Add cut up sweet potato, carrots, salt, lentils and spice and cook in the oil for a few minutes. Add water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree soup with a hand- held mixer. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My first blog attempt

Well here I am starting a new blog. I hope to be able to share my thoughts, my recipes and any other information regarding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Food and Environmental Allergies that I may find along my journey to wellness.
I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over 26 years. I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my mid twenties, as it really wasn't easy to diagnose back then. Not being able to do what I want to do in life because of my health issues has been well, a real bummer to say the least, but through it all I have learned so much about myself, others, illness and health in general. I have met so many wonderful people along the way. Practitioners who were great, and some not so great.
Doctors who treat the whole body and actually listen to you are key in your wellness.
As of late, I have two wonderful doctors in my life. Dr. Jennifer Armstrong a wonderful Environmental Doctor who is top in her field across the world and Dr. Richard Nahas another top physician in his field. With their help and knowledge and I pursuing many different modalities of treatment.
One of those is hypnosis. When I first was told about hypnosis I was a little hesitant. Would I do strange things while in a trance? What could hypnosis do for me? I am happy to say that I love hypnosis and my hypnosis practitioner. She is so keen and has such insight and is eager to help me on my path to Wellness. If you want to check her out, visit her website at, her name is Johanna Lynn.
I have also written and article about hypnosis and it was posted on Kris Carr's website, Crazy Sexy, as well as Johanna Lynn's website, so check it out if it interests you.
Through hypnosis I am learning so much about my thoughts, my past experiences literally from the time I was born and so much more. It has brought me to so many other healing techniques such a EFT ( Emotional Freedom Technique) and the idea of "We get what we expect". Louise Hay is another wonderful person who has for years taught us that positive affirmations make such a difference in our lives.
Here is her quote for today. " There is enough for everyone. The Universe is always full and always flowing."

One of my greatest accomplishments has been to co publish with General Store Publishing a cookbook that is near and dear to my heart. Finally... Food I Can Eat is a cookbook and dietary guide designed for those with multiple food allergies and food intolerances. It has been a wonderful way for me to share what I know with others and help them to know that you can eat birthday cake and Christmas time hors d'oeuvres even though you are allergic to dairy, wheat, gluten and other foods. It has been so well received in Canada and has been translated into French and goes by the title "Libre" We hope to get it into the USA next.

So if any of you are out there wondering what you can make that is healthy, tasty and free of top allergens, check out my website, my cookbook and my blog where I will post some of my new recipes that I am developing.
Sending love and good wishes out to all of you. See you back here soon with a new recipe!
Much love,