Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making Progress

Not quite a month since my last post about the trials and tribulations of needing to remove dairy from Oliver's diet. The good news is that he is doing great. During the first week, it seemed like he went through a sort of detox with lots of headaches and stomachaches but since then he's been virtually symptom free (except when he doesn't want to do something--"my stomach hurts!").

I've been reading a lot about the Paleo Diet (in 25 words or less--the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Lean meats, lots of veggies, some fruit, nuts and seeds, health fats). The happy thing for me, as the family cook, is that the Paleo diet is grain and dairy free so it's an easy go-to for recipes that fit the bill without my having to do back flips in terms of changing recipes. We're not eating 100% grain-free but gluten is still out.

My favorite Paleo Diet blog is by Melissa Joulwan at She's got interesting recipes and ideas, she's funny and her writing is lots of fun. Check out her idea for "cook-ups" as a way to make your cooking life easier. Fav recipes for me are the Spiced Nuts and the Caramelized Coconut Flakes. Yum!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gluten-free Dairy-free--Argh!

Levi has been on a gluten-free diet for a year. Oliver followed a few months ago and now he has had to eliminate dairy too. We tried dairy-free for him a while ago and frankly, I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. But increasing tummy aches and headaches have made it a necessity to give it a dedicated try. It's REALLY hard to say goodbye to all those cheese-laden favorites like cauliflower cheese soup but I also see that this is just one more kick up the ladder of healthier eating. Think we couldn't rely on processed foods before? Now we really can't. And that's a good thing.

The biggest challenge of the GF diet has been eliminating bread, simply due to the convenience of the beloved sandwich. We've spent a year testing store-bought and homemade Gf breads and nothing stands out as truly being good.

Some friends have turned me onto the resource of the Paleo diet. I don't know that we'll go strictly Paleo but the great advantage is that the approach is dairy and grain free so it provides the sorts of recipes I need.

Anyway, I tried a "Paleo Bread" recipe, a grain free bread made largely with almond meal and a bit of coconut flour to add lightness. (Find the recipe at My first attempt seemed like a beauty--golden crust, nicely risen, and it tasted good and moist. All was well until I got about 3 slices into the loaf to discover a raw cavern inside. Oh, I was so disappointed and frustrated--and determined! So I made another loaf with the following changes: I eliminated 1 egg and reduced the baking soda by 1/2 t. and cooked it for an extra 5 minutes. When I checked for doneness, it still seemed raw in the middle.

So . . . the reduction of the baking soda was good because I think the first loaf tasted too strongly of the soda. My thinking in reducing the egg and soda was that the loaf had risen too quickly, producing the big hole in the middle. Things often rise too quickly at this altitude and then either have a big hole in them or sink into the hole after baking. If you're going to try this, I'm not sure what to suggest given that I live at 5000 feet. But I would definitely start by reducing the baking soda just on the taste front.

The final verdict will come from the kids!

(Do look at Elana's recommendation on her website re: baking pans and brands of almond meal/flour. Her website and books are a great resource!)