In an attempt to remedy my 2012 New Year’s Energy Crash, I went to the health food store and stocked up on gluten-free products as well as fruits and veggies. The gluten-free options now available in stores, especially natural food stores, but even in many well-provisioned grocery stores, is amazing. You’ll find everything that would typically be gluten-based: tortillas, cereals, graham crackers, breads, cookies, bagels, granolas. There are also tons of gluten-free boxed mixes for foods such as pizza crusts, brownies, pancakes, cakes, and more.
While it’s nice to have the option to round out a gluten-free existence with these substitutes, I’ve found (after doing it for 2 months) that the best of gluten-free living involves including plenty of organic produce, and other “of the earth” foods, such as beans, rice and legumes, in the diet. My family has not eliminated gluten, only me, but the whole family now has salads several times a week as well as vegetable soups and stews, brown or white rice dishes, etc. Bean, rice and cheese plates, topped with avocados or guacamole and salsa. You get the idea. It isn’t about relying upon wheat substitute products as my main food source. I suspect that doing so would that be bland and leave one feeling rather deprived, and wouldn’t be ideal from a nutritional standpoint.
That reminds me- I made another change in the spirit of better health: I bought a blender. Not just any regular blender. The Jaguar of blenders. OK, maybe only the Cadillac or BMW of blenders. But yeah, a really good one.
I had originally planned to use it to make green smoothies. A dear friend recently brought over one of those green bottled beverages that resemble pond scum. Once I got past the way it looked, I discovered that I loved it. I wanted to marry it. But since I am already married, I at least wanted to have it in my life on a regular basis.
I figured if I could concoct my own blends at home each day, customized to my preferences, they would be fresher and better tasting, as well as preservative-free. Also, I was thinking of the carbon footprint. As much as I enjoy the bottled drinks, it seems that all those produce items being shipped to a factory, then shipped back out from city to city, in bottled form, equals more C02 in the environment. I reasoned that it is probably a little bit healthier for the Earth to bring the produce home and blend.
After learning about my new blender through the literature that came with it as well as playing with it, I found it had a setting I’d never heard of before. It was called Whole Juice. As it turned out, I quickly became a mega-fan of this new type of juicing. Well, new to me, at least. It was sort of like the juicing that my husband and I were doing in the early 2000s, when we’d purchased a traditional juicer- the type that pulverizes your produce and then spurts out a little trickle of liquid which is pure juice extract. Sure, that had been delicious, but also felt kind of wasteful as somewhere around 80% of the produce was being thrown out so we could sip the minutest whisper of its essence in a glass.
The whole juice concept is exciting because yes, it too pulverizes your fruit or veggie, but you get the benefit of all the fiber and nutrients from the produce. With certain fruits and vegetables, you can keep the peel on- carrot, apple, cucumber (which I partial-peel) and ginger are examples. With citrus fruits, you need to remove most of the peel, but a bit of rind is OK. With a splash of water and a few ice cubes added to keep it cool (the blender’s stainless steel blades spin at 300 mph so it will actually warm your beverage if you don’t add ice)- you get a delicious juice with a little texture to it.
While I have made a few smoothies for the kids as well as some blended soups for the whole family, I’ve found myself hitting the “Whole Juice” button almost daily and rocking fresh produce juice cocktails.
I’ve made an effort to be really open to changes I can make in order to feel better. I’ve cut down on eating anything stored in plastic. I use glass glasses and ceramic or glass cups, plates, and bowls. I use regular hand soaps versus antibacterial types. I purchased a different type of daily supplement (a lady at the health food store gave me a sample, and I noticed a mood and energy boost that very hour.) I take organic, vegan Omega 3 and 6 oils each evening, alternating that with a pure fish oil liquid extract. After ditching the gluten in my diet, I do feel as though more of the nutrients I’m consuming are being absorbed into my body. I don’t know how that could be proven, but it’s definitely something I feel to be true.
I’ve always exercised, although during the aforementioned down-and-out months, I found myself too tired to exercise on most days. I’m happy to report that energy has returned to my existence and I am exercising two to three times a week. Not just cardio work, which I continue to do, but I’ve even resumed practicing yoga, both in and out of the house.
While I still become saddened occasionally about world issues or news reports that bother me, I am finding that I remain consistently “up” these days- emotionally and physically. If I do nap lately, it’s more of a catnap. Refreshing and light, but not an all day crash-out session. Which is important, as, being a mom, I have to give so much to my kids and they need me to be present. I wouldn’t say I’m filled with boundless energy, maybe that will come in time, who knows? But I’m feeling much better than before.
Due to the dietary change, I’ve been experimenting with cooking more, partially out of necessity. With the exception of Chipotle, most fast food places still don’t offer much in the way of gluten-free fare. In the past couple of months I’ve made french toast, almond cookies, chocolate cake, brownies, tomato herb vegetable soup, spaghetti with brown rice noodles. Even Chinese stir fries: chow mein with quinoa noodles, chop suey, sweet and sour tofu. All gluten-free, of course. The cake and brownie mixes have been the least well-received by my family, who are used to baked goods tasting a certain way, however for me they were quite passable. Not too sickly sweet, yet satisfying. The non-dessert dishes went over well with the kids and the hubs. For the spaghetti, I had to make ordinary (gluten) noodles for them. They were just not open to the flavor and texture of the brown rice noodles. But overall, the fam are digging into many of the meals I’ve been preparing. Thank goodness.
My daughter, who is now 12, had initially been skeptical about the gluten-free concept. She’d made no bones about it: she’d thought it was most likely a placebo effect making me feel better- at first. I’d told her, a good dose of skepticism is a good thing. But now, even she begs me to keep off the gluten. She is a no-nonsense, results-oriented child.
She really likes the fact that lately, rather than pillow surfing, I actually feel energized enough take her and her brothers out for fun times on the weekends.