I’m coming to the USA!

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I know I’ve neglected this blog terribly, and for that I am awfully, awfully sorry. Thank you to those of you who’ve found my posts, read them (or at the very least skimmed), left comments and shared your stories.

To sum up briefly what’s happened over the last year: I’m continuing to take Asacol (800mg) daily, but – and here’s a confession not even my physician knows – I’ve taken it down to once a day and I’m totally fine. Diet-wise I eat a bit of everything. I try to keep it LCHF, but it’s less hit than miss. I also try to stay away from dairy because lactose intolerance is for life…

… which brings me to – I’m coming to the USA!  

K and I have been planning this trip for months and months, and of course it’s the craziest time to be coming over, with the Rand plummeting through the floorboards and currently languishing at about R17:$1. So it’s going to be a pricey trip to say the least, but I’m so very excited.

We fly out of Cape Town on Thursday and arrive at JFK on Friday. We’ll spend a few days in NYC, staying with a friend, and then we’ll fly to LA for the weekend. Then it’s on to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and then Florida. From there, we’re hopping aboard a West Caribbean cruise (Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti and Grand Cayman) and once the tour finishes, we’ll fly back to NYC for a last few days.

A whole MONTH of travelling – longer than I’ve ever done before – and all I can think about is the food! We have some amazing cuisine and treats here in SA, but the US is on a whole different level. I mean, these insane milkshakes?! I’ve seen on Instagram (yup, I’m there now – come say hi) that people are waiting TWO to THREE HOURS for these things. We won’t have that kind of time to waste, but I’ll certainly be indulging – and overindulging – in all the things I’ve only ever seen on TV (and on Buzzfeed, and on all your blogs).

Which is why I’ve stocked up on Lactase – I don’t want to miss a single bite of the excitement and I certainly don’t want my holiday to be marred by bloating and cramps – ugh, who has the time?! I don’t usually take these (I simply avoid dairy for the most part) but I think it’ll be extremely worthwhile for this trip.

If you have any food or sightseeing suggestions or recommendations, please send them my way. On the list is drag shows, drag bars, gay bars, museums, major landmarks, New York cheesecake, steamed burgers, tacos and New York pizza. Oh, and as many of your candies as I can muster 🙂

Maybe see you there!

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Ways to get rid of bloating

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If you have any kind of gastrointestinal ailment, you’ll be no stranger to bloating. For me, it’s just one of those things I’ve come to accept. I think there’s a genetic component perhaps – my mom has been prone to bloating her whole life, and has been diagnosed with IBS – and I started experiencing it myself several years ago.

When my ulcerative colitis was at its worst, bloating was a constant issue. As I experimented with different diets – SCD, paleo, autoimmune paleo, LCHF – it came and went, and I’ve become fairly good at knowing which foods will leave me feeling like I’ve been pumped full of air like a giant balloon.

But then there are those days when you eat all the things you usually do, you drink the same things, and you end up with a distended and uncomfortable belly.

I know what I need to do to help avoid bloating in the first place. While some of these points may differ on a case by case basis, generally it’s safe to say that to help minimise bloating, you should:

  • Avoid gas-producing foods, like certain types of fruits and vegetables (for me, onion, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini are especially bad, but mostly any veg can bloat me up)
  • Avoid gassy drinks (including sparkling water)
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid coffee
  • Avoid chewing gum and anything else with artificial sweeteners (look carefully at ‘sugar free’ or ‘dairy free’ chocolates and sweets too, as these are often made with replacement substances that can lead to gassiness and even diarrhoea)
  • Avoid dairy if you’re lactose intolerant (I am)
  • Avoid eating raw veggies. It’s harder for the body to break these down, and if your gut is already damaged, you want to give it as little work as possible
  • Avoid wearing overly-tight clothing
  • Avoid heavily processed food and/or unhealthy takeaways
  • Avoid drinking large quantities in a single go – i.e, try not to gulp down entire glasses of water
  • Be careful with foods like nuts, eggs and fruits, which can cause bloating in people who are sensitive to them
  • Take good quality probiotics

If you’ve struggled with bloating a lot and have played around with your diet to try to manage it, you may have made some surprising discoveries. For example, if I eat white bread and rice, pasta and even pizza, I experience very little bloating. I can eat plenty of junk food without ill-effect if I’m having a particularly healthy week. In fact, when I flare, I tend to live on basmati rice as it’s the only thing I can keep in.

Obviously though, one cannot live on a diet of refined carbs – particularly if one is gluten intolerant or sensitive to gluten or wheat (thankfully, I am not).

Most of us want to eat healthily, cleanly, but unfortunately it’s the healthiest of foods that often lead to uncomfortable bloating. Give me a burger, and I’ll be just fine. Give me a salad, and suddenly I look like a little Buddha. The same happens when I swallow down a whole glass of water.

So now that I’m bloated, what can I do to make it go away?

Bloating is particularly awful when you’re trying to be productive or have a good time. Ever been out partying on a bloated stomach? It’s the worst. Trying to work at your desk with your belly pressed against your keyboard? Not gonna happen. So what can you do once the bloat sets in? Here are some tips to try:

  • Unbutton your pants. Don’t fight it. Just trust me – you’ll immediately feel a whole lot better.
  • Spend some QT in the bathroom. Obviously you don’t want to force anything, but if you’re able to have a BM, you’re likely to feel a helluva lot better for it.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything for a little while. Give your tummy a chance to rest.
  • Don’t hold in your gas. Go to the bathroom or find a private place, but holding it in is only going to make you feel so much worse.
  • Drink some herbal tea. I haven’t tried this for bloating because I hate herbal tea. But if you enjoy it, give it a try. Ginger, chamomile and peppermint are particularly favoured for bloating, or you could try drinking some lemon water.
  • Get moving. Going for a brisk walk or run or doing yoga could help to ‘get things moving’ and relieve you of some of that gas. I remember many of the old ladies in my yoga class farting while stretching into their poses. Yoga is known to activate the GI system, as is running/walking. Just make sure you’re never too far from a bathroom! The idea is to get the heart pumping and the blood circulating, as this stimulates the release of gas.
  • Make sure your next meal is simple, spice-free, low in salt and won’t irritate your belly. Choose foods that you know won’t leave you bloated.

What are your best remedies for bloating? Please share 🙂

Depression cake will make you very happy

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Yesterday, whilst Googling chocolate cakes (don’t tell me you don’t do it too), I came across curiously named ‘Depression cakes’ on Thechiclife.com’s blog. At first I thought it was because when you’re feeling depressed, you eat some chocolate cake and you feel better*. Then I thought maybe it was because the cakes had some sort of dent in them (they don’t). Then I thought, maybe I should actually read the post instead of just drooling over the photos and trying to cobble together an explanation myself (I always ‘do’ first and read later – which is why I can’t be trusted to put furniture together).

Turns out, Depression cakes are so named because during the Depression and times of war/hardship, it was difficult to get hold of expensive foods like butter, milk and eggs, so it doesn’t contain any of those ingredients. This means its virtually allergen free, and the ingredients it does have can be easily subbed for gluten-free/sugar-free varieties. It’s also dairy-free and can be vegan. And just look how beautiful it is! I’m thrilled that this is actually something I could indulge in without guilt.

I’m probably going to give these a bash this weekend using ‘legal’ ingredients, and then treat myself to near-illegal amounts of chocolately enjoyment 😉 I of course will eat both of them, so don’t come over looking for sharesies 😉

What are you treating yourself to this weekend?

*Basically scientifically proven

The best paleo cauliflower soup – dairy/grain/refined sugar free and vegan

Paleo cauliflower soup

Paleo cauliflower soup – dairy, grain and refined sugar free

My sister made this amazing soup for me last week, and I instantly fell in love with it. Why is it so special? It’s filling, easy to make, and it doesn’t feel like it’s ‘missing’ anything despite having no dairy or gluten. It’s also a great way to get more broth into your diet (if you’re not vegan/vegetarian). Oh and it’s delicious!

I recreated it tonight with a couple of tweaks, though I still think hers was better – kind of like how coffee always tastes nicer when someone else makes it for you 🙂

Thanks C for this amazing recipe!

Easy cauliflower soup – dairy, gluten and refined sugar free; vegan

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large sweet potato (for SCD, omit or use butternut)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock*/chicken stock/bone broth
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Garlic salt (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

“I let the ingredients fry while I chop the next thing. I think it makes a difference to the flavour to let it fry a while,” advises my sister.

– Chop the onion and add to a large pot with the coconut oil. Fry on medium-high heat.

– Chop the garlic and break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. If the pot becomes too dry, add more coconut oil or a splash of water.

– Add the cubed sweet potato and chopped coriander to the pot and season everything well with salt and black pepper, and garlic salt if desired.

– Pour in the stock/broth, then fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

– Remove from heat, blend with a stick blender and serve.

It’s that simple! I say it serves four to six, but if I’m eating it, it probably serves two to three 😛

*Most shop-bought stocks aren’t suitable for those of us following healing diets. Make your own vegetable stock by simply reserving the cooking water when you boil veggies on the stove.

How to make your favourite dishes SCD legal/paleo

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When you tell people that you don’t eat dairy, grains or sugar, they often stare at you incredulously (and a little pityingly), before gasping, “What do you eat?”

The problem is that so many people have fallen into a groove of slapping together a toastie for lunch or a pot of macaroni cheese for dinner that thinking about creating a meal without bread or cheese or pasta or sugar (tomato sauce, I’m looking at you) seems virtually impossible. Pasta and puddings are easy, cheap, convenient and delicious to make, and without them… What will we EAT??

Here are some ideas: any kind of meat, basically any fruits and veg you can imagine (with the exception of one or two, like potatoes and bananas, if you’re doing paleo), nuts, nut milks, nut butters, seeds, honey (sparingly on SCD) and, once you start thinking a little more laterally, a ton of amazing desserts and treats made with these ingredients. If you’re doing SCD and you aren’t lactose-intolerant, you can add dairy products to this list too.

Of course, if you’ve become accustomed to eating pasta and bread-based meals, as well as the odd pizza cheat on weekends, it can be daunting to make the transition to ‘cleaner’ eating.  Yes, it’s a mindshift, but you’d be amazed at how quickly your thinking changes.

To help you along if you’re new to this, I’ve put together a list of some of the easier and more popular everyday meals that you can turn into SCD legal or paleo dishes.

Pancakes

Traditionally, these are made with milk, wheat flour and butter, so it seems almost inconceivable to make anything resembling a pancake without these ingredients.

Think again: For SCD pancakes, use eggs, almond flour and coconut oil – try this recipe or this one – or attempt an even easier 3-ingredient pancake that’s super light and quick to make.

Smoothies

Bought smoothies are often made with frozen yoghurt or ice cream and loaded with unhealthy sweeteners or sugar. Often they’re just as kilojoule-dense as milkshakes, and we’re tricked into believing that they’re healthy because they have a berry or two thrown in.

Make your own paleo or SCD smoothies at home by throwing your favourite fruit into a blender with a dash of pure fruit juice or a squeeze of lime, and instead of frozen yoghurt, use SCD yoghurt, coconut milk or coconut cream. Don’t forget to add a spoon of your favourite nut butter!

Get creative and come up with your own combinations – you really are limited only by your imagination (and taste buds).

Here’s a collection of great paleo smoothies and shakes to get your creative juices flowing.

Lasagna

This is an awesome hack for dairy, grain-free lasagna: Instead of pasta sheets, use slices of zucchini in between your layers of meat. You could also use butternut or even egg-white crepes that mimic the texture of pasta.

As for the sauce, use substitutes like cashew cream or cashew cheese. These ingredients may sound totally exotic to you now, but I promise that after making them once or twice, they’ll be old hat. If you told me three months ago that I’d be making my own yoghurt using nut milks and non-dairy cultures, I’d never have believed you. Now I do it once a week, and start to panic when my stock gets low!

Anyway, here and here are some fabulous collections of SCD/paleo lasagna recipes to try.

Spaghetti bolognaise

This one is super easy: The trick is not to be fooled by unhealthy packaged ingredients that you’re so used to adding to your bolognaise. It’s okay to use tomato paste, but make sure it has no added sugar. I’ve just about perfected my bolognaise recipe – it’s easy, affordable and totally more-ish. Here’s the recipe.

Instead of spaghetti, serve with cauliflower rice, roast butternut or – if you enjoy the ‘taste’ – shirataki noodles. This is actually a plant product that has a similar consistency to noodles, but zero calories and little-to-no taste (though I definitely detect a vague, odd flavour). It’s quite strange and expensive, but some people like it. Buy it here in South Africa.

Burgers

The only real problem here is the bun, so omit it and, if you like, wrap your pattie in lettuce. Of course, if you’re not doing dairy, omit any cheesy toppings. Bacon is also ill-advised because unless you’re buying organic, it’s usually laden with sugar and unhealthy additives and preservatives.

I have an amazing burger recipe that I’m super proud of – try it here.

Curry

Curries are GREAT for paleo and SCD, because they’re easy to serve without grains, and the recipe doesn’t usually call for dairy. This means that it’s so simple to make SCD/paleo curries. Simply omit any yoghurt and replace with coconut milk or cream, and for sweetness, add a dash of honey instead of sugar.

Make sure that any spices you use are good quality and don’t have any anti-caking agents or other additives in them. The best idea is to buy yours from a spice market, if you have access to one, or simply make your own spice mixes from scratch. This is more labour intensive but definitely worth the effort.

I’ll post K’s Thai green recipe soon, which ticks all the right boxes. In the mean time, browse this selection of paleo curry recipes. I’m also dying to try this SCD roast cauliflower soup recipe – it’s on my list for this winter (by the way, The Tasty Alternative has the most amazing SCD recipes).

Dessert

There are SOOO many healthy, clean SCD and paleo dessert recipes out there – do a quick Google search to see what I mean. Things you’d never even imagine existed. So you never need to feel like you’re missing out just because you can’t have caramel whip or cream cakes. In fact, because these desserts are so kind to your belly, you’ll finally get to enjoy a sweet treat without the awful after effects you’re so used to experiencing.

Here’s a baked apple crisp I made last weekend that was very easy to throw together, and enjoyed by everyone who tried it. My favourite review came from my mom, who said, “You can actually taste how healthy it is.” But yet, super delicious. Win!

Happy cooking, guys – and don’t be afraid to experiment!

 

Recipe: SCD/paleo burger patties with guacamole & steamed vegetables

Here’s the recipe I promised you for the AMAZING burger patties I made the other night. They’re SCD/paleo/GAPS, super easy to make an they’re knock-your-socks-off good! How do I know this? K said, “I feel like I’ve just eaten at a restaurant” after finishing hers – which, let me tell you, is high praise!

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Bear in mind that the bun and chips aren’t SCD or paleo. The plate on the left is 100% SCD/paleo/GAPS

Ingredients

  • 800g mince (I used half ostrich and half venison; I haven’t tried these with beef)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 small tin (50g) tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves chopped (divided)
  • A good shake of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed veg of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • lemon juice

Method

1. Add your onion and garlic to a pan and soften for a few minutes. This is not essential but it’s a good idea for anyone who requires their veg fairly well cooked.

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2. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients, minus 1 handful of coriander, into a large bowl and add the onion mixture once ready.

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Get in there with your hands and work all the ingredients together, mixing well. I asked K to add a few more dashes of salt and pepper as I mixed.

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3. Now shape your meat into patties. I made 6 big patties, but you could easily turn these into 8 or 10 smaller ones. Place them on a lined chopping board or plate, and allow to firm up in the fridge for a few minutes. This probably isn’t essential, but I gave mine 20 minutes of chill time.

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4. While the meat is chilling, make your steamed veg. I used carrots, zucchini, green beans and broccoli. If you don’t have a steamer, simply put your veg into a colander and place it over a pot filled with about 3-4cm of boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid and steam until desired doneness. I usually cook mine for about 10 mins. Just be sure the water doesn’t evaporate, as you’ll burn your pot! (I’ve done this more times than I care to admit!)

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5. Add a drop of coconut oil to a pan, heat to medium, and add your patties. I fried mine in two batches. Because I hate using oil (it makes me a little queasy), I added dashes of hot kettle water to the pan whenever it needed moisture. I know that purists would recoil in horror at this, but it kept the patties so moist while still allowing them to brown. Cover with a lid while cooking, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Guacamole

While the meat is cooking, make your guacamole. Place the avo and coriander in a bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and add a good crack of salt and black pepper. Mash it all up together with a fork.

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And voila! There’s your 100% SCD/paleo meal, super healthy and (I promise) totally delicious. Place 1 – 2 patties on each plate, top with guacamole and slices of gherkin, and serve with veg. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, go ahead and add some cheese to your burger too 🙂

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K’s plates always look a little more fun than mine!

Day 83: Dairy-free SCD yogurt recipe – a SUCCESS!

I’ve been promising this recipe for weeks, and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long. This yogurt is smooth, tasty and BEST of all, it has the PROPER yogurt consistency thanks to the addition of gelatine (which in itself has loads of health benefits). What a success – finally it doesn’t feel like I’m eating chewed-up nuts when I have my SCD yogurt 🙂

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This recipe is based on a few different ones that I’ve tweaked/combined, but I mainly used the recipe from Thetastyalternative.com. I’ve included the links at the end.

As always with homemade yogurt, you need to plan ahead: It takes about 30 hours from step 1.

Dairy-free cashew-coconut yogurt – SCD & paleo friendly

Makes 1 litre

1/2 cup cashew nuts

1 cup shredded/desiccated coconut

15ml vanilla extract

15ml-30ml honey

6g gelatine (make sure you have room temperature water on hand too)

Yogurt starter cultures (ensure that they’re lactose free if need be)

Method

Step 1: Soak your cashews in water for around 8 hours. I put them in a sealed container and keep them in the fridge, then rinse them when done.

Step 2. Make cashew milk. Cashews are the most awesome nuts to make milk from because they break down completely – no need to strain the milk. Put your cashews into a blender with 2 cups of water (filtered if you like). Pulse a few times to break up the nuts, then let it run on high speed for a few minutes. Check to make sure the nuts are completely broken down (if not, blend a little more), and then leave to stand for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the thin layer of foam that forms on top.

Cashew milk - very smooth and creamy

Cashew milk – very smooth and creamy

Step 3. Make coconut milk. Add your coconut together with 2 cups of hot (not boiling) water to your blender. Blend for about 3-5 minutes, until it’s nice and creamy looking. Pour the milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, and strain it. Then, gather up the bag/cheesecloth and squeeze until you’ve extracted all the milk. Of course, you can use the pulp for cereals, bakes, etc, or dry it out and turn it into coconut flour.

Step 4. Heat your milks. Add 2 cups of coconut milk and 2 cups of cashew milk to a pot (you may have a little leftover), together with the vanilla extract and honey. Heat on a very gentle simmer until you reach 85C (185F). Always remember to stir the mixture well before taking a temperature reading. I use a clay pot for this step. Keep a close eye on the milk and don’t let it overheat, boil or burn.

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Step 5. Cool your milk. Take your mixture off the heat and allow it to cool to 43-49C (110-120F). While you’re waiting (I usually place it in a sink full of cold water and ice packs), mix 6g of gelatine with 75ml room temperature water and let it sponge.

Step 6. Add your gelatine. When the milk has cooled to the right temperature, add your gelatine. Ensure that it is well incorporated by using a stick blender to give it a good proper mix. I always clean my stick blender with boiling water before hand to make sure it hasn’t got any other bits of food/flavour still stuck to it.

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Step 7. Cool again. Place the pot back into the cold water and let it cool to around 38C (100F). Give it a good stir.

Step 8: Add your yogurt starter. At 38C/100F, add your starter to the mixture. You could also use 5 capsules of probiotics instead. Give the mixture another good spin with the stick blender.

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Step 9. Incubate . Pour your mixture into a sterilised container, and place it into your yogurt maker. It will need 12 hours here, so overnight usually works best.

Step 10. Refrigerate. After 12 hours, remove the container from your yogurt maker and give the mixture a good stir to re-incorporate any gelatine that’s separated. Let it stand for about an hour, then put it in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Your yogurt is ready! I always add honey to mine because I find it quite tart, but it’s not necessary. It’s a delicious, excellently textured yogurt that is a real pleasure to eat. Enjoy!

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Look at that texture!

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Absolutely delicious, especially with a little extra added honey

Check out these great blogs:

– Thetastyalternative for this amazing yogurt recipe which I have shamelessly hijacked.

– WellnessMama for the instructions on making coconut milk.

– Cookies and Kate for the tips on making cashew nut milk.