Day 77: SCD hot toddy (alcohol optional)

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So my knifey throat has progressed to a full-on phlegm fest, and I am in the throes of a very unpleasant head and chest cold. And oh! How I hate being sick. Medicating myself would be unavoidable, I realised.

Most OTC drugs make you drowsy so you can’t take them during the day. I also don’t like overdoing it with drugs, so I decided to rustle myself up a hot toddy, without alcohol (if there’s one thing I hate more than being sick, it’s warm alcohol).

I was a little concerned as I hadn’t yet introduced some of the ingredients (lemon and ginger), but since my health had already taken such a dive, I figured lemon and ginger could only do me good.

You can use the recipe from the image above, or check out my simplified version below. I am also not a fan of adding spice to my hot drinks, and I think my version works just as well!

SCD-legal hot toddy 

Ingredients

– Half a lemon

– 2 tsp honey

– a few slices of ginger

– boiling water (herbal teabag optional)

– a tot of alcohol if you like (probably whiskey if you can handle it)

Method

Squeeze the lemon into a glass/mug and add the honey and ginger. If you’re not using alcohol, you can add a herbal teabag.

Pour in about 250ml of boiling water, and stir vigorously to dissolve the honey (otherwise it just sinks to the bottom). Allow to cool a little, but try to drink as hot as possible – you want to sweat the bugs out!

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This is what happens when no one at work will take a sick day. Thanks colleagues. THANKS

I don’t seem to be having any adverse reactions to the lemon or the ginger. Lemon can in fact be introduced on Phase 3, as long as it’s cooked. However, I feel that using just the juice and adding it to hot water should be fine. As for ginger, it’s SCD legal but there’s no indication of when to introduce it on the phases list. Hence I regard it like honey – introduce it when you feel you’re ready.

Honey, lemon and ginger are all known to have amazing healing qualities, and the combination, steeped in hot water, just feels like it’s giving your immune system a massive health boost. I’m also dosing up on vitamin C, eating loads of veg (as usual) and trying to take it easy this weekend.

I can’t ignore, though, that as a person who seldom gets sick, it is noteworthy that I’ve been ill twice on this diet so far. I have read that people with IBD have compromised immune systems. So I really can’t say at this point whether it’s that, or the diet, or simply a coincidence. I can say, however, that it’s REALLY fucking annoying.

Day 75: 4 natural sore throat remedies – SCD legal/paleo

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I’ve had a sore, scratchy throat for the past few days, and when this happened to me at the start of SCD, I made the mistake of taking OTC lozenges. They caused me a lot of bloating and they’re probably packed with illegal ingredients.

This time, I did a bit of research to find out what I could legally use on SCD to soothe my sore throat, and I found some really easy, effective fixes. These work for paleo too:

1. Gargle with apple cider vinegar mixed with water. I did this today and it tasted revolting (careful of gag reflex!) but it works. I found this remedy at Austinscdfriends.com, who also say that you can swallow the concoction, if you can stomach it, for a potassium boost, and that you should also rinse your mouth out afterwards to prevent the vinegar from damaging the enamel on your teeth. There are lots of other SCD legal remedies on the site – check them out.

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2. Gargle with salt water. I found this tip at Paleoinpdx.com, where the author says, “I always use this tactic at the onset of a sore throat. It’s known to draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, which makes it hurt less. It’s also beneficial during a full-blown cold because it helps break up mucus. Be sure to use warm filtered water and sea salt, not iodized table salt.” I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds easy and effective. Read the post for more SCD legal natural cold remedies.

3. Honey and lemon. This is obviously phase-dependent. If you’re able to tolerate both these foods, drizzle honey over lemon slices and suck on these to soothe your angry throat. Thanks to Pecanbread.com for this great tip – just thinking about it feels soothing! You can also squeeze the lemon into a mug, add your honey, fill with hot (not boiling) water and drink. Thanks to Drflock.co.uk for this remedy (click to see more).

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4. Drink lots of water. Often, a sore throat is accompanied by dryness, irritation and tickles. Keep water on hand at all times and drink whenever needed or as often as possible. Not only does it instantly calm your throat, but you’re drinking more water! This was a lifesaver for me today (since I couldn’t, obviously, have an actual Lifesaver 😉 )

Do you have any tried-and-tested, SCD legal sore throat remedies? Please share! 🙂

Day 74: What to do when food boredom sets in

It’s inevitable that on a diet like SCD, which is so incredibly restrictive (at least for the first few months) food boredom will set in – even for someone like me who doesn’t mind eating the same thing every day. It’s in fact one of the most common reasons that people either stop the diet or don’t even try in the first place. It’s hard to eat the same few things all the time – meat, veg, fruit, eggs if you’re lucky, honey if you’re lucky. And by ‘lucky’ I mean ‘don’t react’.

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No matter how committed you are to this diet, you are bound to get frustrated by the limited choices available to you on the first 90 days of SCD (if you’re doing it properly). I’ve taken it particularly slowly so I am only on phase 3. But if you’re following the ‘rules’ and introducing new food only once every three days, that’s only 10 (maximum) new foods a month – and that’s not including setbacks and ‘important but not actual food’ additions like honey, spices, milk, etc.

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It hasn’t really happened to me since intro, but yesterday and today I looked at my dinner plate and thought, ‘eeeeeeugh’. I was just so over it, and I didn’t want another broccoli tree or bite of butternut.

But just because the number of foods you’re eating is limited doesn’t mean that your meals have to be. Think about how many combinations of food you can make with ‘just’ 20 different ingredients! Avo and honey, anyone? I mean have you even thought of that? 🙂

Yesterday I listed a few awesome SCD snack foods I can have at this stage of the diet. Now, I want to give you a few tips for shaking up your ‘boring’ SCD meals:

1. Rotate your meats. For many people following SCD or paleo diets, meat forms the backbone of the meal. There are so many options available besides chicken and beef. Try fish, venison, ostrich and turkey with your meals, or replace meat with eggs every now and then.

2. Have breakfast for dinner. Swap your meals around. Sometimes it’s fun to eat scrambled eggs for supper (especially when you’re feeling lazy), and weird as it sounds, you can actually get used to eating ‘supper’ food for breakfast. Remember when you used to eat leftover pizza for breakfast? This is the same thing… kinda. Simply altering the time of day you eat something can make it more appealing.

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3. Experiment with cooking methods. I recently switched boiling my butternut for roasting it. WOW! I didn’t add any extra ingredients, but the taste was completely new. As you progress through the phases, you’ll have more and more cooking methods available to you. Use them!

4. Experiment with flavours. Never mixed bananas with nut butter? Carrots with coriander? Yogurt with pear? Roast butternut with tomato? Honey with ANYTHING? Some combinations will be better than others but you’re bound to discover a few you love. I add fresh coriander to almost anything savoury and I eat half an avo with my main meals in lieu of illegal sauces or gravies. My absolute favourite is green beans with avo as a snack.

5. Don’t eat ALL the foods you can eat every day. This is a mistake I’ve made. Each time I’ve successfully added a food, I’ve started eating it every day. This means that I eat about 8 or 9 different veggies a day – but it’s the same veggies every day! Rotate 3 or 4 veggies and a few fruits at a time to prevent broccoli overload – and possibly developing intolerances. You should aim to rotate all your food every 3-4 days. Not always possible at the beginning of SCD, but easier as the diet progresses.

6. Don’t forget desserts! It may seem like much of this diet is savoury, but if you can handle fruit and honey, you have so many sweet options available to you. Make smoothies or  fruit ‘ice creams’ and sorbets, or top SCD-pancakes (made with banana and egg) with baked fruit and drizzles of honey or yogurt. YUMMO! And PS: Yes, you can absolutely eat dessert for dinner – on SCD, it’s a totally healthy option 😉

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7. Remember that every day 3 days, it gets easier. It’s a slow process, but there is progress. Don’t get disheartened, and on the days you get bored, challenge yourself to experiment with a new flavour. Roast a tray of onion, tomato, butternut and garlic with honey and coriander, or make a smoothie from banana, yoghurt and nut butter. Snack on peeled, baked apples with honey or nut butter, or make cauliflower ‘rice’ for an interesting change. A few simple switch-ups can make all the difference.

Do you have any tips for shaking things up on SCD or whichever diet you’re following? Please share – we could all use all the help we can get!

PS: Clearly GIFs are my new toy! I hope you’re enjoying them as much as I am 🙂

Day 66: Important observations about SCD so far

I’ve been on this diet for 66 days, and even though it’s not a massive amount of time, it’s long enough to have realised that my progress has fallen into two distinct categories:

  • Extremely strict
  • Experimental (within the bounds of legal, stage-appropriate SCD foods)

I haven’t once knowingly cheated on this diet and I’ve stuck to the 3-day rule (at times 4 days) since the start. But I’ve also become less fanatically strict and terrified of introducing new foods. Maybe it’s manifesting more psychologically than physically, because I’m not running around shoving random bits of food into my mouth. But it does mean that one big problem has crept in: Bloating.

Can totally relate

Can totally relate

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it because when I’m healthy and not in an active flare, the worst symptom I have is bloating, which also causes pain and that lovely, totally-not-embarrassing ‘talking’ that most often happens when I’m sitting in an echoey boardroom with several of my bosses, a handful of clients and the perfectly preened magazine editor.

Yet here I am, 66 days in, experiencing bloating most days. So, below is what I have deduced about my particular reaction to foods on SCD. As always, bear in mind that everyone tolerates food differently.

1. Bananas cause me significant bloating. I’ve known this since day 4 or 5 when I introduced them, and you’ve known it too because I haven’t shut up about it. I try to eat fewer but usually I fail because…

2. I’m a snacker which makes SCD REALLY hard. Who wants to snack on a dry meatball or a cup of carrot puree? So I snack on bananas. All. The. Time. And then for dessert I have banana ‘ice cream’. I do in fact always have prepared vegetables and ripe avos in the fridge, but bananas are also easy to eat on the go or take with to work, social occasions, movies, etc.

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3.  Other things besides banana make me bloated. What are they? I’m not sure. Because in this experiment that is the SCD, you need to use your own body as the control, and I’ve often failed to do that effectively. You need to feel good and bloat-free before introducing new foods, and while I’ve done that to some extent, I have also compromised my results by continuing to eat bananas while testing other foods.

This means I’ve often experienced bloating while testing, but I’ve always blamed it on bananas. However, I’m now noticing that I can eat other foods (ie: meals of meat, assorted vegetables and avo) and end up bloated – and because of the muddied test results, I can’t pinpoint the culprit.

4. You have to introduce SCD yogurt CAREFULLY. As good as it can be for you, dairy-free SCD yogurt is made up of not one but a number of ingredients – and some of these (most notably nut milk and honey) can be problematic.

Nuts, even when blanched, blended, strained and squeezed into milk, can aggravate a sensitive gut, which is why they shouldn’t be introduced until 3 months on this diet (or 3 months symptom-free, which I reached in about February). Honey is also tolerated by some but not by others, and both nuts and honey are considered potentially ‘problematic’ foods for people on SCD.

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5. Nut milks and honey are probably adding to my bloating. They’ve made a fairly recent but regular appearance in my diet in the form of my yoghurt, and since their debut I’ve come to really enjoy them. Is the benefit of the probiotics outweighing the bloat? I can’t honestly tell you because while my BMs are satisfactory and quite regular, I haven’t noticed a marked difference since introducing the yogurt. But I do love the sweetness of they honey and yogurt is such a perfect after-dinner treat.

6. I felt my best during intro and phase 1, but my BMs were terrible. Swings and roundabouts? Maybe, but there must be more to it than that. There must be more that I can do to control my symptoms so that I can heal and enjoy a varied diet without bloat.  This means that I probably need to go back to the drawing board – or at the very least, stick to meat and veg for a few days and see if it helps.

7. This diet is about more than mindlessly following the phases. It only works if you listen to your body and respect your symptoms, and if you actively work to manage them. I haven’t always done that. I haven’t always been fully committed to being symptom free as much as I’ve been committed to eating legally and according to the phases. In other words…

8. Just because a food is SCD-legal and allowed in the phase you’re on, doesn’t mean it works for you. I found out that mushrooms don’t agree with me so I avoid them. But I’ve ignored the ill-effects of other foods and now I have this major bloat problem which is really a huge tangled mess. You have to be actively involved in really feeling your symptoms, identifying what’s causing them and eradicating problem foods from your diet – if only temporarily. Mindless eating is not going to cure you, even if you’re eating SCD legal foods.

So those are my observations for now. On this diet, I am definitely my biggest ally and also my worst enemy. It’s also why I haven’t yet opened my new jar of macadamia nut butter: The cashew butter was going brilliantly until, after 3 days, I caved and ate the remainder (about half of it) with a spoon straight out of the jar.

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My goal for the coming days: WILLPOWER. I’ve already made so many sacrifices that I can’t allow these little weaknesses to trip me up now. Now to just find the motivation to do better…

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Day 62: New veg; old bloat

I’ve been so focused on my yogurt and cashew nut butter that I temporarily forgot that I was supposed to be introducing new foods every 3 days!

Although I’m on phase 3 now, I’m still eating very few types of fruit. You all how I love my bananas, which I buy in huge bags that I decimate within days. This is NOT good because I know that they cause me to bloat. I’ve tried limiting my banana intake to 3 or 5 a day, and some days I’m able to. Other days, like yesterday (which was mainly a ‘couch day’ of movies, series, and trips to the kitchen to grab yet ANOTHER banana) see me chomping my way through ten or more.

I found this twin banana today. I really wasn't surprised, given the obscene amount of bananas I eat each day - I was just surprised that I didn't give birth to it

I found this twin banana today. I really wasn’t surprised given the obscene number of bananas I eat each day – I’m guessing it was a statistical inevitability. I was more surprised that I didn’t actually give birth to it

Why I can’t stop with those damn bananas

I think it’s because it’s the only thing I can easily grab and munch when K is enjoying ‘regular’ TV snacks like everyone else. No chips for me, no chocolate or popcorn. If I want a TV snack, it’s vegetables, a hunk of meat or bananas! I think this is why I was so bloated by the time I got to bed last night – but like hard bloated, where your tummy feels like its filled with rocks. It was also tender to the touch, so I’m trying to put myself on banana lock-down today.

Tomato and avo

The other fruits I eat are tomato, peeled and de-seeded (WHAT a mission!) and cooked, and avo. Tomato is wonderful to add to meat dishes, and I also make a tomato and garlic sauce every week to add to my meals. I adore avo, and at any given time I have up to 10 avos in varying states of ripeness in the drawers, fridge or mashed up in the freezer. Perfectly ripe avos can be kept in that state for up to a week or so in the fridge, and you can also mash them up and freeze them. Sometimes the colour goes a little weird but the taste is fine, and once its defrosted and re-mashed a bit, the green emerges to some degree.

Avo and honey

Honey slipped into my diet quite sneakily a few weeks ago, when I added it to my first batch of yoghurt, and then used it to sweeten the yoghurt a bit when I ate it. I was of course aware of this new addition, and I seem to be okay on it. I should probably test it in isolation though. Do any of you have trouble with honey?

Apparently you can add it to avo and it’s delicious, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it.  Have any of you done this? Is it any good? The only time I’ve ever considered mixing the two is for a facemask.

These are the ingredients for a DIy avo facemask. For me, they'd never make it as far as my face. But if you'd like to try it, here how: http://bit.ly/1iN0seD. Looks like fun!

The ingredients for a DIY avo facemask. For me, they’d never make it as far as my face. But if you’d like to try it, here how: http://bit.ly/1iN0seD. Looks like fun!

The rest of the fruit contingent: Not for me, but maybe for you

Other than that, I’ve avoided most other fruits for two reasons: it either doesn’t agree with me (such as apple puree), and, fruit still has to be cooked at this stage of the diet, which I actually can’t face. Cooked watermelon, anyone? Stewed pineapple? No thanks. Too much effort for too little result. Plus I don’t think I can face any more bland purees.

This is not how I envisioned eating my fruit...

This is not how I envisioned eating my fruit…

I’ll move on to fruit when I can eat it raw, but that’s not to say that you have to wait. Cooked fruit can be delicious and of course it’s packed with vitamins and other good things that you need. Kids, I’m sure, would prefer it to mashed butternut, so bear that in mind too. Just be aware that too much fruit can cause your tummy to react – it’s one of the four foods (together with dairy, eggs and nuts) that are often the cause of gastric discomfort on this diet.

New veg: Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. Even before this diet, I’d often eat it in place of rice when I had curry, or I’d pour my pasta sauces over it. It’s also very versatile – sheesh, you can even make cauliflower pizza! (though I haven’t attempted it yet).

Can anyone verify this? And does anyone have a SCD bbq sauce recipe? ;-)

Can anyone verify this? And does anyone have a SCD bbq sauce recipe? 😉

I cooked it until it was falling-apart soft, and I had it with my meal of ostrich ‘bolognaise’ last night, which is a yummy mix of ostrich mince, tomato, garlic, green beans and seasoning. I may also have added a dash of red wine…

Because of my banana bloat (every time I write that, I mentally facepalm because it really is my own fault and totally within my control to avoid it), I’m unsure of whether the cauliflower agreed with me or not. But I’ll keep testing it today WITHOUT the bananas to check.

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I really hope it works for me because cauliflower cooks SO quickly, plus it’s tasty, easy to get hold of and I just really love it. I’m so thrilled that my diet is becoming so well-rounded!

SCD yogurt recipe (step by step)

My first batch of SCD yoghurt was delicious, but it didn’t really agree with me, which is sad. You can read more about it here and here. I’ll try it again in the future when my gut has had more time to heal. If you are able to handle nuts, you should definitely give it a try. The flavour was wonderful.

This week, I attempted to make the yoghurt again, this time using almond nut milk instead of whole (ground) almonds. The yoghurt has turned out wonderfully, though I’d make it a bit thicker next time. Here’s how I did it, step by step.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almonds

Honey

Vanilla extract

Gelatine

Yogurt starters cultures (lactose free if you’re lactose intolerant)

Tools

Blender

Sieve

Cheesecloth, nut milk bag or clean, unused stocking

Medium-large pots

Thermometer

Sterilised jars and spoons

Yogurt maker

Preparing your almonds

About 3 days before you’d like to have your yogurt (remember, this is SCD, so everything takes a little longer!), take 2 cups of blanched almonds and soak them, uncovered, for up to 2 days. You can soak them overnight to shorten the process, but the longer you leave them, the creamier the milk will be.

Working with unblanched almonds: If you, like me, have unblanched almonds, simply plop them into a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes, and then you’ll easily be able to squeeze them out of their skins. K helped me with this, and we turned it into a bit of a competition!

Preparing your almond nut milk

Once you’ve finished soaking your nuts, give them a good rinse, and then add them to your blender with 2 cups of water per cup of nuts – so four cups of water in total. I did mine in two batches. First, pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts, and then blend at full speed for 2 minutes. The nuts should be nicely broken down at this stage.

Next, you need to strain your milk. Take a sieve and line it with cheesecloth or, in my case, a nut milk bag. Place it over a clean bowl, and pour the nut milk into it.

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Then, gather up the bag or fabric, being careful not to spill, and squeeze out as much of the milk as you can (using clean hands!). You should get about 2 cups of milk for every 1 cup of nuts.

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Storing your almond milk 

I didn’t have time to make my yogurt right away, so I refrigerated the almond milk in clean jars. There’s debate about how long it can last in the fridge – some say 2 days; others say 2 weeks. Your nose will certainly tell you if it has gone off. I added some to my coffee this morning, after 5 days in the fridge, and it seems fine.

Voila - homemade almond milk!

Making your almond milk yogurt

Now the fun part! Heat your almond milk, together with 1 tbsp honey and 1tsp vanilla extract, gently on the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven (I used the latter).  I used 1 litre of milk. Actually, when I say ‘I’, I mean K, because she did this part for me while I was stuck working late!

Keep the heat low and stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. When it reaches 185F (85C), remove it from the heat. Be sure to stir it before you take temperature readings. Now, let it cool down. I sped up this process by putting the pot in a sink of iced water. Keep an eye on it if you do it this way – it can cool more quickly than you’re expecting.

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In the mean time, mix 4 tsps of gelatin with 1/2 cup room temperature water. I used 3 getaline leaves (1 leaf = 1 tsp), but I definitely think more was required. You might need to play around here.

When the yogurt reaches 110-120F (43-49C), add your gelatine and mix it in using a stick blender. Then, when the yogurt reaches 100F (37/38C), add your yogurt starter, and again use your stick blender to fully incorporate it in the mixture.

How much yogurt starter? The guys at SCDLifestyle.com suggest using 1/8 of a tsp for every 2 quarts, which is what I use. So you’ll need 1/16 of a tsp for 1 litre, if my maths (and conversions!) are correct.

Now, transfer your mixture to your sterilised yogurt maker container (or whatever containers you’re using) and place into your yogurt maker for 12 hours only. Do not touch, shake, move or disturb the yogurt maker at all during this time, as the culturing process is extremely sensitive to movement.

After 12 hours, carefully remove the yogurt from the yogurt maker and allow it to sit for 1 hour. At this point, some people stir the yogurt while others believe that it’s still very sensitive to movement. I don’t touch it. Lastly, place it in the fridge for at least 8 to 10 hours, which allows the gelatine to thicken.

Enjoying your yogurt

My batch is a bit thin, but definitely closer to the consistency and taste of real yoghurt, so I’m really thrilled. I eat mine with some extra honey, as the taste is quite tangy and requires a little sweetening. The honey isn’t necessary though, but you do need to add it to the yogurt to give the cultures something to feed on.

The yogurt will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’re just starting out, add it in TINY amounts every day to allow your body to get accustomed to it. The cultures are powerful and you need to be careful. I overdid it on my first go-round, which was a very silly thing to do. It was just so tasty!

My yogurt with a lovely drizzle of pure honey