Friday, January 28, 2011

Update on the Allergy Elimination Diet

Today is Day 13 of 21 on the Allergy Elimination Diet.  Overall, it's going well.  I have been eating pretty well and haven't had many days where I wished I could just eat "regular" food, like bread.  Although, I definitely did not do myself a favor yesterday by making Monkey Bread for the first time.  I wanted to make some bread to go with the Potato Soup for dinner (which I couldn't eat since it used white potatoes and milk), so I was looking around for recipes.  I finally found one I liked, but it made enough for three loaves.  So, I made one loaf regular, one portion into Herb Cheese bread (for the soup) and one portion into a pan of Monkey Bread.   They all smelled amazing...sure wish I could have tried them!

It was surprisingly easy to make.  I used almost 100% freshly ground wheat flour.  I also used instant yeast, so only one rise was required, so it was quick as well.  I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer and then kneaded by hand (didn't like how the KA was kneading the dough).  Then, I just shaped how I wanted and let them rise for about 45-60 minutes.  The loaf definitely rose the best...perhaps because it was worked with the least?

Here's how they turned out:

This the loaf, obviously.  It has a nicer crust than our bread machine bread, as well as a softer and less dense texture.  Philip said our bread machine bread is a 8 or 9 on a scale of 10, but felt this was a 10.  Cool.

Here's the Monkey Bread.  This was soooo easy.  Just chopped the dough into little balls, dipped in butter and then rolled in cinnamon sugar (Caleb did that part).  Put in the pan, let rise and then bake for 25 minutes or so at 350.  So easy!  I have a feeling I'll be bringing this to MOPS one of these days.  (It's super easy to do all the work the night before and then put in the fridge to do a slow rise overnight.  This is how I always make my cinnamon rolls). 

Here's the Herb Cheese Bread.  This one didn't rise that much, but still turned out well.  Philip said it needed more cheese. :)

So back to what I was supposed to be posting about: my diet.  The short of it is, I feel pretty good, but have continued to have some gallbladder problems.  It often seems that the times it gets irritated are when I have not consumed enough fat with my meal.  But, this isn't always the problem.  I would say I had enough last night and my gallbladder was quite unhappy last night.  So, I really don't know if I am going to find out I am allergic to something.  We'll see.  Over the next week I am going to start adding things back.  Next Sunday (2/6) I will add something from the most common allergens list.  I am still trying to decide what I will add back in first....but I am leaning heavily towards wheat.  In case you can't tell from this post. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

12 Years

Well, I am a few days late, but last Saturday (January 15th) Philip and I celebrated our 12 year "Know-a Versary."  For some reason, this date seems to get celebrated more than our actual wedding anniversary.  Who knows why.  But it's a special day, to be sure.  Perhaps it's because our meeting was so memorable.  Who could forget the fact that I very nearly didn't make it on the plane to Seattle in the first place, or the effort it took my friends to find a 4th person to join us on our swing dancing adventure (thanks Mayson and Laura!)?  Or the way Philip kept "showing" up everywhere I was that weekend.  Or the look on his face when I casually mentioned my "fiance."  Haha...that's another story. :)  Or the totally unforgettable departure-morning breakfast that Philip made me and my friend Laura.  You know, the kind of breakfast he made all the time?  Cinnamon rolls, swedish pancakes, orange juice, linen table cloth, violin music.  Normal.  Everyday.  Obviously.  Anyway, it was a really fun, special weekend and though it took quite a long time before our relationship turned into a relationship, I think it's safe to say we knew from the start that something pretty extraordinary had happened.

(I have to include this picture, just like I do every year.  I mean, seriously, what's not to love?)

Marrying Philip was the beginning of fulfilling a life-long dream to be a wife and mom.  We have certainly had our fair share of difficult times (mostly my fault...I know), but he has always loved me and supported me, no matter what I doing: from my job at Marsh, to those scary 10 days in the hospital while pregnant with Caleb, to supporting the decision to be a stay at home mom, my foray with Direct Sales, countless hours spent creating cakes, supporting and embracing the decision to home school our boys, standing by my side as we lost three babies, caring for our boys as I have spent evening after evening away from home over the last five years serving on the MOPS leadership team, and now with my health issues....supporting my desire to follow God's direction.  And so many, many more things.  He has never wavered in his loyalty to me, and I am so blessed because of that.  I can only hope that I have been half the wife to him that he has been husband to me.

Ahhh...this picture makes me happy :)

We tried to speculate the other day on what our lives might be like when we hit "Know-a-versary" number 24.  I'll be 42, he'll be 45.  OLD. :)  (just kidding)  We'll have just passed our 20th wedding anniversary, have 19, 17 and 14 year old sons (and hopefully a few more blessings pulling up the rear).  What will life be like?  Who knows.  But we pray that we will be fully engaged in serving the Lord, have the pleasure of seeing our children walk with God and able to look back and say that, in comparison, we barely love each now.

Here's to the future.  To God be the glory.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Allergies and Gallbladders

Since my health has been so poor in recent weeks, I have once again been researching what can be done for my gallbladder, or what may be the problem that we're trying to fix.  Of course there is some conflicting information, but one thing that has arisen is the correlation between food allergies and gallbladder problems.  Now, I don't have any food allergies that I *know* of, but am starting to strongly suspect I may have some unknown one(s) that is wreaking havoc on my insides.

For one thing, I have had low level pain in my abdomen since some time after Andrew was born that I feel when pressure is applied to the area.  I don't ever remembering feeling anything akin before, and the indicated area is where the intestines are...which is an area that can easily be affected by a long-term food allergy.

It is also worth mentioning, that if this is indeed part of my problem, simply removing my gallbladder would not have nor would it solve the problem.  It strongly appears that my digestive system is being compromised in some way, and that the gallbladder is the organ that is squawking the loudest.

So, what does this mean?  I have started today the Allergen Elimination Diet (you can read more about this here).  It will consist of 3 weeks without eating the most common allergens, including some extras for people with gallbladder problems.  Then, you gradually (one food every 3 days) add the potential allergens back in and see what kind of reaction the body (and/or mind) has.  So, here's what I won't be eating for the next three weeks:

90% of all food allergies are to these foods:
  • eggs
  • gluten (wheat, barley, rye and other grains)
  • corn
  • soy
  • dairy
  • peanuts
  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • pork
  • onion
  • turkey and chicken
  • milk
  • coffee
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • corn
  • beans
  • nuts
  • tomatoes  
 Kind of a daunting list, huh?  Fortunately, I do have a list of things I can eat, but obviously this will be a challenge.  I can eat fish during weeks one and three, but not week two, so at least that will help some.  "Fortunately" since I've been having such trouble for the last week, I was already not eating most of these, so a big piece of the mental work has already been done.

The connection between Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) has also been drawn.  I will be getting a blood test done to preliminarily test for Celiac in the next week.  Please pray that it is negative! 

In the meantime, I have also been preparing for another gallbladder flush, which I will be doing on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Since I will be fasting for it, except for pure apple juice, it doesn't really conflict with the Diet, so I figured I would combine them. 

The side perk about this is that is also a detoxifier, and I needed to do another detox anyway.

So, as I go through this endeavor, I would appreciate your prayers.  Prayers for me to stick to the stringent requirements of the diet, that my body will efficiently and fully detoxify, that I won't be *tooo* cranky during this process, and most of all that God will use this to help us better understand what's happening in my body so that we can make whatever changes are necessary.  And that my body would experience the healing it needs.

As many of you know, I believe these health problems have been a tool of God in my life.  I long for Him to be glorified through however He uses this in me.  If it is through a miraculous healing, so be it.  If it is through some other means, so be it.  I just want to be obedient to what He is asking of me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Getting Started with Homemade Bread

If you had told me two years ago that I would be grinding my own grain and baking my own bread, I would have told you I was crazy.  Of course, if you had told me I would eat only salad for lunch many days, be eating all kinds of "strange" grains, drink beet juice on a regular basis and any number of other dietary changes I've made; I would have thought you were crazy about those, too.  It's amazing what a health crisis will do to your perspective on your body and your eating habits.

In the last 15 months I have learned more about the workings of the body and the impact our daily food choices make than I have ever known.  And well I am still far from being strict or really doing anything crazy, in my opinion, we have definitely made some significant changes in our mindsets and the way we eat in our home.

I have found that for many of the changes, it's really all in what you're used to.  Your palate really does adjust as your regularly expose it to things that you have before thought to not be tasty, or to taste bad.  The first time I drank the beet juice (which is actually juiced carrots, celery, beets and cucumber, sometimes with lemon or parsley added), I could barely swallow it and usually resorted to the "plug and chug" method.  However, over time, my palate adjusted and now I can say that it really tastes fine.  I would go so far as to say I really like it (although Philip does), but I don't mind drinking it.

And so, when about 14 months ago I found out a friend of mine was baking her own bread, I didn't think she was crazy; in fact I was interested.  However, at that time, with the gallbladder being at the height of it's crisis in 2009, I was unable to add anything else on.  I kind of forgot about the idea for most of 2010, but in late fall found myself once again presented with the idea.  And this time, I knew it was a step our family needed to take, for the sake of our bodies.  You can read here about some of the basic benefits from homemade bread.  And here about the importance of Vitamin E.

So, last month, we took the plunge.  Everything arrived only about a week before we left for two weeks of Christmast traveling, so I haven't had that much time to experiment yet.  We did bring bread with us for the first half of the trip at my in-law's, and the since my mom had wheat berries and a grain mill at their house, we were able to make bread for the second half of the trip.

Several people have asked how much it cost to get started, so let me lay it out for you.  It was about $750 total, much of that in start-up cost that won't have been spent again.  I highly recommend buying ingredients through  They have really good prices on most things.  They also have many local co-ops that place orders quarterly.  The closest to me is in Leesburg and orders in mid-January.  Ordering through the co-ops helps save on shipping costs, which as you can imagine are high when you order 140 lbs of grain!

Here is what I started with:

Grain Mill –I bought the Nutrimill for $239 on Amazon.  My mom has a Wondermillrmill, and it works the same.  The biggest difference is the counter space. The Nutrimill has a more compact design.  It is essentially all one piece and has the Bosch name. The Wondermill is a bit bulkier, but it is quieter.

Bread Machine - The Zojirushi (about $190) is what I bought.  I liked the Zo because it has two mixing paddles instead of one.  It has an up to 13-hour delay timer, several programmable settings, and makes a two-pound loaf, which is in the shape of a regular loaf of bread, which I like.  My friend Anne also recomends the Breadman Ultimate (about $110).  They’re currently both available at . You can also use the “dough” setting to mix a lot of breads (i.e. like rolls) even if you don't bake them in the machine,
so for busy moms the bread machine can be more useful than the mixer.

(*Note, I have a 6 qt KitchenAid Pro mixer, but from what I understand, it's not recommended to be used with heavy bread dough.  My mother in law tried it a few years ago with her rye bread and it just couldn't handle the weight and bulk.  So, while it's ok to use those types of mixers for smaller, lighter breads, they aren't recommended for more than that.  I am considering purchasing either the Bosch Universal Plus or the Electrolux Assistent Mixer, but they are both pretty pricey, so I haven't bought one yet.  You'd only need this if you were going to be mixing up large batches of dough (for 4-7 loaves at a time) and not using the bread machine to bake.  So for getting started, I don't think you really need one.

Ingredients.  These cost me about $300, with shipping.  But that cost should be much less with future orders.

Wheat –Hard red and/or hard white wheat is what you’ll want. Hard red is the highest in protein and most
nutritious, so it’s what I recommend as your first type to use. Hard white wheat is almost as nutritious,
but it has less flavor, so it makes great white bread and pancakes. I personally like to mix hard red and hard white when making our bread. Six gallon drums of organic hard red or hard white (45 lbs.) are about $32 from After buying a bucket the first time, you can buy in 50 lb bags when you replace, which costs about $24.  Soft white wheat is pastry flour and what you’d use to make cookies, goodies, etc.  We haven't really tried this out yet, although I did order it.   Wheat durum is what is used for pastas.  Also, be sure you order a Gamma Lid for $8 also to reseal each 45 lb. bucket you order. I’ve heard small bags of wheat (just a few pounds) can be purchased at Great Harvest Bread Co. or Whole Foods, but it’s more economical to purchase in bulk (and wheat stays good almost indefinitely if not moistened or cracked).  For example, the wheat we used at my mom's was purchased in 1999 and still good!   If you make bread once or twice a week, a 45 lb. drum will probably last about 4-6 months.  I am currently baking every day and a half to two days, so I'll go through it quicker.

You an also buy other kinds of non-wheat grains like kamut (which is slightly sweet) or oats.  I plan on adding some other kinds to our regular wheat bread when I place my next order.

Honey –You will need lots since there's so much in each loaf! Bread Beckers carries several varieties that are “raw and unpasteurized,” but the Wildflower or Clover variety are great basic flavors. Costco sells honey, but it does not say “raw” or “unpasteurized” which means that it may be less nutritious.   Each loaf usually uses 1/4 - 1/3 cup of honey, so a gallon should make you 48 loaves (1/3 cup/16 cups = 48).  Bread Beckers charges about $44 a gallon + shipping for their honey, which works out to about $11/quart.  I have been unsuccessful in finding local honey for less than that, but perhaps during "honey season" over the summer it may be possible.  This is definitely the most expensive ingredient if you buy it "raw and unpasteurized".  Buying regular from Costco is less than half the cost. 

Yeast – I already had yeast on hand.  I bought dry active yeast from Costco a while ago, I think in a 1 lb bag for about $4.  When I was in Sam's recently, I noticed they sell instant yeast in bulk for a low price as well.  If you aren't a member of either of those clubs, you can buy online in bulk for a little more.


•Lecithin OR rice bran (either is fine) –You only need a small amount., Whole Foods or almost any nutritional store carries the “Lecithin Granules.” The Bread Beckers carry rice bran extract, but either is fine (use half the amount of rice bran when substituting for lecithin).  I have been using the rice bran extract.  The recipes I use calls for 1 tablespoon per loaf.

•Flax seed –Optional but REALLY yummy and nutritious and not expensive. You can order in bulk from Bread Beckers for about $3/lb, or you can get a bag unground at most grocery stores for about $3-$5/lb.  Wegman's sells it in their organic bulk bins for $2.50/lb.   I recommend ¼ - ½ cup per loaf.
Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder not the mill. Flax seeds come in two colors: gold and red, but I’ve heard there is no difference nutritionally; much like the wheat, the gold has less flavor and the red tastes a bit nuttier.

•Gluten- Makes your bread the rise nicely.  I have been using 1 teaspoon per loaf.

•Bread Beckers Recipe Collection -Several of my friends HIGHLY recommend the Bread Beckers recipe book, and it’s only $6 at I have it, but haven't tried many recipes yet.

•"Do Not Eat the Bread of Idleness" CD –It's FREE and has great info. It’s available at as well.

It is a little expensive to get started and I'll have see what my cost looks like it's going to average out to per loaf.  My friend estimates hers to be about $2/loaf, which is about what I was paying for "good" bread on sale from the store.  However, the reason we have made this change wasn't for potential cost savings on bread, but rather for the positive impact this will have on our bodies and our health.

I have found the process to add very little work to my life.  It literally takes me about 8 minutes to get everything out, grind the flour, add the ingredients to the bread machine and hit "start."  The bread is done 2 hours and 40 minutes later, so the next morning, if I do it at night.  I hope to branch out a little in the kinds of bread I am making, but for now, this is quick, easy...and yummy!

Philip did use the hard red wheat to make pancakes one morning.  They were the best pancakes I've ever had.  We tried the muffin recipe once, but need to try playing around with that a little more.

If you have questions, I'll be glad to help you answer them if I can.  Hope this helped!