Apple Pie for Breakfast

Because I’m a grown up and I do what I want.

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First though, I’ve been thinking about what to do with this blog.  I have started:

So, what to do with this site?

The fact is, I like cooking and baking, but when I cook and bake, I want to eat.  Immediately.  I don’t want to stage my food so it looks pretty, and set up nice lighting, and take a nice photo that will be accepted by Foodbuzz and Tastespotting.  I want to cram the food directly into my mouth.  That’s why Crustcrumbs is great, because John is a cook and food stylist, and I just have to take pretty pictures.  Here, I end up snapping a quick shot with my iPhone and slapping a hipster filter on it out of laziness.

I’ll figure it out eventually.  I still want to share paleo recipes I’ve tried and written, to keep track of them for later.

So.  Back to what’s important.  Being a grown up, and APPLE PIE FOR BREAKFAST.

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This started because we had a bunch of apples in our fridge, which I bought because I was definitely going to make lots of Martha Stewart-esque apple recipes (with Martha Stewart-esque photographs), and then I didn’t.  My fiance reminded me about the apples, so I googled “paleo apple pie” and found PaleOMG’s Apple Pie Tartlets.  I love tiny food!  Tiny food is so much more adorable than regular sized food!  Tiny food makes me feel so dainty as I shove 4 of them into my mouth (because they’re small, so it’s okay).

Juli’s recipe rocks.  But, it didn’t take me 15 minutes to prep.  It was more like 45 minutes (I might be incompetent).  And it only took 20 minutes to bake, instead of 25.  And I didn’t use coconut cream, because I forgot to put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, so I used real whipped cream (no sugar added).

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And yes, I ate four of them.  GROWN UPS.

 

Are gluten-free diets healthy?

When people find out I eat gluten-free, the response is often something like this:  “oh, I’ve heard of that!  I was thinking of trying it out.  Is gluten-free healthy?”

Before I answer, I want to talk about my summer a little bit.  I can’t even begin to remember everything I’ve done the last few months.  We had family visiting from Florida, family visiting from England, and family visiting from Windsor;  I went to cottages; I went to Vegas; I moved out of my apartment so my floors could be replaced post-flooding from our upstairs neighbours; I decided to do a kitchen renovation at the same time.

Here’s a little preview of the kitchen I’ve had to work with for the last few weeks:

2013-09-10 12.31.48

Before we demolished the kitchen, my boyfriend’s family visited for a week, and we ate out almost every meal.  So I’d say I’ve been eating like crap for about 33 days now.  Full disclosure:   I’ve polished off a Dairy Milk bar approximately every 3-4 days, and last week I bought a 2lb bag of Rockets for no reason besides they were by the checkout at Shoppers Drug Mart and I wanted to shovel them in my face.  I’ve eaten at restaurants (fast food and otherwise) for basically every meal besides breakfast since our kitchen was demolished.  I devoured a whole tub of frozen Greek yogurt by myself.  I’ve been eating nachos and pizza and burrito bowls and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Froyo.

I feel gross.  And I’ve probably gained about 8lbs (I haven’t checked; my scale is still in a box somewhere).

But it has all been gluten-free!  Every bite.  Not an ounce of gluten.

I went to the Gluten Free Expo (or as everyone else calls it, “the cardboard convention”) in Toronto a few weeks ago, and I tried all the samples.  Breads, cookies, cakes, bars, pasta, you name it.  Lots of them were delicious!  But by the end of the day, I felt awful.   I went home wondering, what’s the point?

My haul.

My haul.

Back to the question:  are gluten-free diets healthier than normal diets?

No.

Obviously, people who have celiac disease must not eat gluten.  I also believe strongly in non-celiac gluten intolerance, even if mainstream medicine does not (yet).  Not eating gluten has made enough positive changes in my health for me to never eat it again.  I believe it can play a role in autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and endocrine disorders (like PCOS), mental health issues (like depression), and neurological issues, just to name a few.

I also get really annoyed when I see articles like “The dangers of going gluten-free“, which reiterates the idea that people with celiac disease are the ONLY ones who should avoid gluten, and ONLY after they receive a confirmed diagnosis from a doctor.  Which could mean eating a ton of the thing that is literally destroying your intestinal lining, for months, and possibly getting a false negative anyway.  Why some doctors are so opposed to elimination diets and why some people are so desperate to eat gluten they won’t stop until a doctor says “your intestinal lining is finally destroyed enough for your biopsy to be positive!”, I’ll never understand.  Guess what?  If you have celiac disease, and you stop eating gluten, you will feel better!  There’s your diagnosis.

Articles like that always fail to actually explain the dangers of going gluten-free.  It makes a cool scary-sounding headline, but the “dangers” always end up being things like “it’s expensive!” and “gluten-free products might not be fortified with as many nutrients as gluten-filled products!”  As for the former, yes, if you buy pre-packaged stuff, it’s more expensive to eat gluten free, but it’s getting cheaper.  Eating whole foods isn’t really more expensive.  The latter is correct too, but it’s basically saying that it’s dangerous to eat gluten-free bread because it’s not enriched with as many nutrients as Wonderbread.  Here’s a crazy thought: maybe people shouldn’t be getting their nutrients from enriched wheat bread either?

There is nothing “dangerous” about eating gluten-free.  There are no nutrients found in gluten-containing foods (wheat and other grains) that cannot be attained from other foods.  In fact, I think anyone with a persistent medical issue (which includes most people in North America) should try not eating gluten to see if it helps or not.  However, a diet isn’t automatically healthy because it’s gluten-free.  You know what’s gluten-free?  Candy.  Chocolate.  Ice cream.  Sugar.  Corn chips.  Rice.  Eating a bag of gluten-free cookies is not healthier than eating a bag of Oreos simply because the Oreos contain gluten.  Shoveling roll after roll of Rockets into my mouth is not healthy because Rockets don’t contain gluten.

So, if you don’t think you have celiac disease, and you’re going to eat the exact same crap you are already eating, you may as well keep eating it with gluten.  If you really want to make a change in your health, try real food.  (Or the plant-based kind, if that’s your thing.)

Me?  I can’t wait to have a kitchen again so I can get back on the low-carb, paleo bandwagon.

Paleo Shamrock Shake

Oh, hi.

I know I haven’t posted in a while.  I’m sorry.  It’s not you, it’s me.

I’ve been busy, and my health has needed more tweaking, and I have been lazy about my diet and haven’t been making as many things from scratch.  I’ll try to do better!

Right now I just really wanted to share this recipe from Primally Inspired.  Even though St. Patrick’s Day was on Sunday, and it’s sort of irrelevant at this point.

I didn’t even bother taking a decent picture of it, so here is one from my iPhone with a terrible vintage filter:

Shamrock Shake with a terrible vintage filter.

I made this for dinner last night, because I had a huge carb-heavy lunch and I was too lazy to make a real dinner after pilates.  And it was awesome.  So:

Paleo-ish Shamrock Shake – Single Serving Edition

    • 3/4 cup unsweetened Coconut Dream
    • 1/2 avocado
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp raw honey
    • 1/2 cup ice cubes
    • 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/3 tsp peppermint extract

Blend.

Notes:

The original recipe called for a can of coconut milk.  I didn’t want anything that heavy, so I used Coconut Dream.  Real coconut milk would be creamier.  I also toned down the peppermint extract because I thought it was too strong, but if you’re into that sort of thing then use 1/2 tsp.

Burnt Cookies

Well, I’m 0 for 2 with cookies this week.

Which is too bad, because I really wanted to make a post about paleo chocolate chip cookies.

It was my own stupid fault, because I’ve made these cookies many times with great success, but today I am hungover and when the timer beeped I just went “urghlhggglhnnnnnn,” until my boyfriend announced: “I smell burning.”

So I’m not going to post about my paleo chocolate chip cookies.  But I am going to link you to this really awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe from my friend Free.  She made a batch for me for my birthday, and they were glorious.

Nothing I Make Ever Looks Like the Picture

There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending a bunch of time and using a ton of expensive ingredients, only to end up with a shameful embarrassment of a food.  I have decided to post these failures more often, because if the internet can’t laugh at me, who will?

This past weekend, I was invited to a “cookie party” and decided to bake grain free gingerbread cookies.  The recipe? Paleo Gingerbread Cookies by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason from The Food Lovers Kitchen. If you haven’t seen their cookbook, Make it Paleo, you should check it out, because it’s a great book full of amazing photography.

These are their gingerbread cookies:

© The Food Lovers Kitchen

Cute, right?

My first mistake was probably using blackstrap molasses.  The batter was very dark and sticky, and it was almost impossible to cut out shapes.

Not chocolate.

I had to keep it in the fridge for much longer than the recipe said, but the batter was still warming up too fast when I rolled it out, so I could only get 1 or 2 hilariously deformed shapes out of it before it turned into the mush pictured above.

My boyfriend had the brilliant idea of covering the rolled out batter with ice packs, and only uncovering small parts at a time to cut shapes.  It worked very well, and I was able to get several disfigured men into the oven.

Then I burnt them.

I mean, seriously, what is this?

“SOMEBODY LOVE ME.”

One of my friends pointed out that this is basically the botched Ecce Homo painting of gingerbread cookies.  Although, it did taste like it probably would have tasted good if it weren’t burnt.  (That’s right, I ate it.)

In summary, let’s compare:

ORIGINAL.

Potato Jesus Cookie

MINE.

I’m basically Martha Stewart you guys.

How the Paleo Diet Changed My Life

Last time I really posted, I talked a little bit about struggling with eating meat again, and my doctor recommending that I try a primal/paleo diet.  That was in July, almost 4 months ago.

I’m happy to report that I had the best summer in as long as I can remember.  Here are a few positive changes since I begrudgingly started eating meat again:

- I’ve lost about 20lbs since that post in July.  I’m now within my ideal weight range.  The best part is, it has been virtually effortless.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve tried over the last 6 or 7 years that promised the weight would “just melt off,” and I was left despising food, hating myself, and feeling like a failure.  It feels good to eat whatever I want and lose weight.

- I have never enjoyed food as much as I do now.  I enforce a strict policy of never feeling guilty about anything I eat, and that has changed my entire perspective on food.  Food is not an enemy, it’s not my nemesis, it’s delicious and amazing and I’m going to enjoy every bite.  Food makes me happy.

- I have more energy in one day than the last several years put together.  Not only do I not need my daily 4 hour afternoon nap anymore, I virtually can’t nap even when I try.

- I’m happy and I feel healthy.  Most of my hypothyroidism symptoms are gone.  No more depression and mood swings (mostly).

- Last but not least, jeggings.  6 months ago, this word made me cringe and unleash a barrage of mockery.  Truth is, I was too self-conscious to wear tight clothes, and now I live in them because they’re the most comfortable pants in the world.  Where have you been all my life?

I recommend this to everyone, especially if you have been struggling with chronic health and mental health issues.  Give the 21-day challenge a try.

I’m a Meat Eater?

I mentioned back in May that I was planning to start eating meat again.  And then I didn’t, because:

I’ve had bits and pieces.  My 90 year old grandmother in England cooked us a pile of bacon in May, and I ate half a piece.  In June, I ate eat half a piece of BBQ chicken for dinner.  Whoopdeedoo.  Basically, I decided I could just keep being a vegetarian for a while longer, because I’m a big baby and meat is yucky.

Over the last few months, my health has been a complete roller coaster.  Last time I saw my doctor, he gave me some probiotics to take for a month. They made me feel awful.  I was exhausted, depressed, lethargic, I couldn’t concentrate on anything – just a huge mess.  I stopped taking them and I felt better.  Then a few weeks ago, I forgot to bring my vitamins and supplements when I went away for a long weekend, so I didn’t take anything except my thyroid medication.  I felt amazing!  Obviously, I have been reacting to something in one (or more than one) of my supplements, and now this is the best I’ve felt since being diagnosed 2 years ago.  I’ve been going to the gym, working, and not taking any naps.  Amazing!

Now that I feel better, I’ve been noticing how much of an effect food has on how I feel.  Namely, my body doesn’t react well to carbs – which isn’t unusual for thyroid patients.  Eat a potato, sleep for 3 hours.  Eat a gluten-free bagel for breakfast, no energy for the rest of the day.  Something had to change.

Last week, I told my doctor all of this stuff, and he recommended a high-fat diet.  He told me to research primal/paleo eating.

Paleo is something I’ve read a little bit about since my parents were told in December that they were both gluten intolerant.  I bought them Make it Paleo for Christmas.  But I had this idea in my head that Paleo meant I would have to eat a ton of beef and it would be really gross, and then I would picture that scene from Game of Thrones.

This past weekend, I spent a couple hours looking at every single recipe in my parents’ book, and it turns out it’s amazing.  Everything from scrambled eggs and veggies to coconut flour waffles to amazing salads.  I ended up eating bacon and chicken this weekend, and you know what?  I enjoyed it.  And I have more energy.

It’s really hard to change something I’ve been doing since I was 19 years old, but so far: a) I feel better, and b) I can actually go to restaurants and travel and find things to eat.  Overall, so far so good.