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Do You Have a Heart for Cooking?

With all this talk we’ve done over the last few months about different food sensitivities and the problems that wheat and gluten can cause in a body intolerant to it, I knew I had to contact Sarah from Heart of Cooking! You see, Sarah is well versed in cooking meals that are free from common allergens like wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs. She also offers a fabulous meal planning service that comes with recipes for each day!

But before, we get into the giveaway (yes – a giveaway!!), I’ll let Sarah tell you a bit about herself and Heart of Cooking:

Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’ve been blogging at Heart of Cooking since November of 2008.

Eating whole foods didn’t really happen all at once for me.  It’s been a process of discovering what kinds of foods really nourish human beings and what kind of diet really supports me.  All of this has really taken some time to learn and discover – as in, the past 15 or so years of my life.  So I’ve gradually moved from eating at Panda Express and other fast-food chains to eating an almost 100% organic, whole-food, local, grass-fed, pasture raised, chemical-free, and allergen free diet.

For me, eating whole foods and sticking to my allergen-free diet is like my life-line.  At this point, I am not sure what I would do if I was stuck in a room and forced to eat food containing my food allergens, chemicals and preservatives.  I would probably have a return of a host of symptoms running from constipation to manic depression.  I would feel hopeless and probably want to die.  I would probably get angry for no good reason and blame the world for all my troubles.

So although it’s taken some time to figure out, the reason why I eat whole foods and stick to my allergen-free diet is because I know what will happen if I don’t.  Life is too good and too precious to waste feeling horrible about myself.  And I can simply do so much more good in the world when I feel good – body, mind and soul.

Presently, I follow a grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free diet called GAPS but I also don’t eat eggs or very much honey or fruit.  The GAPS diet stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and it’s based on the Specific Carbohydrate diet.  I’ve been following it for a year now and feel better than I ever have in my life.  The idea is that most people follow the diet for 2 years and then they can start to eat some grains and starches.  However, if I do go back to a more “normal” diet, I plan on following traditional methods of soaking and sprouting grains before eating them.

You can read more about the GAPS diet here:

I have always felt a desire in my heart to contribute something positive and helpful to society.  I believe we all have something to share and contribute, even if it takes some time to discover it.  I believe that is how the world is meant to work – we each discover our God-given talents and then somehow put them to work to help others.  It doesn’t happen over night but it’s a wonderful journey to be on!

And now that we know a bit more about Sarah, let me tell you about the Menu Planners she offers. It’s really one of the best ways for someone to get support when life keeps them to busy to eat well, or they feel overwhelmed while trying to make changes to compensate for food allergies. Don’t worry – she’s got you covered! I’m still amazed at all the different plans she offers, including -

Meat and Seafood Diets:

  • Wheat-free and Gluten-free Menu Planner
  • Gluten-free and Casein-free Menu Planner
  • Dairy-free Menu Planner
  • Wheat/Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Soy-free Menu Planner
  • Nightshade, Wheat/Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Soy-Free Menu Planner
  • GAPS/Paleo and Limited Diet Menu Planner
  • Egg-FREE GAPS/Paleo and Limited Diet Menu Planner
  • Thanksgiving Limited Diet Menu Planner
  • Holiday Limited Diet Menu Planner

Coming soon:

  • Egg-free, Dairy-free and Gluten-Free
  • Nut-free, Legume-free, Wheat/Gluten-free and Dairy-free
  • Kid-Friendly menus for GF and CF diets

Seafood/Vegetarian Diets

  • Wheat-free and Gluten-free
  • Dairy Free
  • Wheat/Gluten-free and Dairy-Free
  • Wheat/Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Soy-free
  • Nightshade-free, Wheat/Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Soy-free – Available Now!
  • Valentine’s Day or Special Event Menu Planner
  • Just Desserts for Limited Diets e-book

Now – before I ever tell you all about a product or service, I always test it out first, and Sarah sent me the egg free GAPS/Paleo week of menus. And let me tell you……I was blown away!


I was expecting a few pages of consisting of a menu and then the recipes. What I received was so much more! In fact twenty-two pages of more! Sarah suggests within the menu plan to print it out – I totally agree. It’s much easier to have something that you can lay out in front of you.

Once I had it all printed out, I sat down on my couch and read it over. I absolutely loved the sections on organizing meals, necessary kitchen equipment, and even the how-to’s on soaking nuts and making bone broth.

The meals themselves are wonderfully planned and include substitutions and even kid-friendly tips for kids who have a picky palate! But the very, very best feature is the thorough shopping list. Not only complete with each ingredient you’ll need – but how much you’ll need as well.


Even more awesome for you….. Sarah is going to giveaway a meal plan to one of my lucky readers! To enter, please go check out Heart of Cooking and let me know in the comments here on this post what benefit of the meal plans that you find most appealing.

*open until Saturday, Oct. 23 at midnight

**also, I am an affiliate of Heart of Cooking, which means that should you buy one of her month-long menu plans, I receive a small commission. I am only affiliates of products I truly believe in and I thank you for supporting this site!

Can you Prevent Gluten (food) Intolerance?

I was asked a couple weeks ago if there was anything we could do to prevent a gluten intolerance. This especially comes into play when the parent has problems digesting gluten and they want to prevent the same issues in their young children. Dr. Tom O’Bryan has already told us that once your body has begun producing antibodies to gluten, it always will. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet, I’ll rephrase an interesting point he made.

Basically……you have to think of gluten antibodies the same way you look at the antibodies that are created from vaccines. The premise of a vaccine (whether or not you agree with the issue!) is that by injecting a virus into the body, our body then learns how to protect us from it in larger amounts by making antibodies. These antibodies travel around seeking out the virus. When the virus is gone, the antibodies go dormant, just waiting for the chance to attack again. When we’re exposed to the virus, these antibodies activate again (supposedly) to destroy the virus before it makes us sick. It’s the same with gluten. Once the proteins get into our system and antibodies are created against it, it starts to attack our system. One of the biggest issues with this, is that the structure of these proteins look very similar to the structure of some of our own cells, so the gluten antibodies also attack our own cells. This is also known as auto-immune. Anyways….even if/when we cut out gluten entirely, we still carry around these antibodies, ready to attack at a moments notice. In this train of thought, one can never get over gluten intolerance.

But how does Gluten get into the Bloodstream?

When we are born, our intestines are actually porous. Colostrum from mothers, along with the healthy bacteria they pass on to baby, helps to fill these holes. When circumstance are not what we want them to be, these holes can be left open, leaving a damaged or ‘leaky’ gut. This can even happen beyond infancy with the very common junk food diets, consumption of antibiotics, and the over pasteurization of foods.

Is Prevention Possible?

I’m not an expert, and I don’t really know how much we can do/should do to prevent gluten intolerance, but I do know there are a few things that can help.

  1. It begins before and during pregnancy with the mother following a nourishing, whole foods diet that is low in sugar and high in cultured or fermented foods. Doing so will help to make sure the mother is able to pass on a wonderful array of beneficial bacteria to her baby. Antibiotics should also be avoided as much as possible!! (not only does this cause the death of all beneficial bacteria, but it also causes the proliferation of yeast which can lead to many different health issues)
  2. Exclusively breastfeeding a baby helps to fill all of those little holes in the immature gut, thus lessening the risk of dealing with a leaky gut from a young age. Any exposure to another food source, especially within the first few months, can drastically change the final formations of the baby’s digestive system as well as how the baby absorbs nutrients. During this phase, mothers need to make sure they follow the same diet as during pregnancy to make sure the baby is constantly supplied with a balanced bacterial system. If the mother or someone else in the direct family has celiac or issues with gluten, it would also be best for mother to abstain from gluten until the baby is older, to allow that barrier to form without the presence of gluten in the body.
  3. Practice baby-led feeding and allow babies to eat naturally and when they are ready. Using baby foods is a fairly new invention, especially the practice of using grains (rice cereal, oatmeal, etc) as first foods. Allowing babies to begin to eat at a stage when they are ready is important because baby’s follow their bodies signals, and if we follow those signals along with baby, they’ll be eating what they need, when they need it. Serve the foods you eat (minus grains and sugars), when baby seems to want them. Avoid hard to digest foods like grains until the baby is at least a year old, and keep them on a low grain, low gluten diet. Introduce gluten only when you know the baby is healthy! If they show any signs of lowered immune response, I personally would not feel comfortable allowing it into the diet when say a direct family member had celiac or gluten intolerance. (lowered immune response can include chronic illness, ear infections, eczema, rash,
  4. Stay away from antibiotics whenever possible. Often over prescribed for ailments that would heal themselves naturally, or respond to other treatment, they destroy the beneficial bacteria within the gut, allowing for more damage. If you do have to take a round of antibiotics, make sure to boost your probiotic supply with supplements.
  5. Consume a diet high in cultured and probiotic foods (yogurt, kefir, etc) along with wonderfully nourishing foods like bone broth. Making sure to eat only grains (wheat, oats, rice, etc) that have been properly soaked and prepared is also important as they are much easier for the body to digest and this may help prevent damage to the gut.
  6. Avoid foods treated with pesticides and preservatives, food colorings, chemicals, and flavors along with diets high in sweets. The modern diet destroys our guts and allows the open passageways for gluten, and other very small food particles, to pass through.

Above all else, I feel it’s beneficial to do something rather than nothing if only to have a chance for prevention. In fact, this is the very situation I am in with my family, as my husband has a gluten intolerance (has not been tested for celiac, but he is sick when he eats gluten, fine when he doesn’t) and my son shows symptoms, but my daughter does not. She currently is on a gluten free diet along with the rest of us, if not for anything more than to try our best at prevention.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Can we prevent gluten intolerance or even celiac?

Do you have a post you’ve written this week about celiac/gluten intolerance, going gluten free, or have you featured a new gluten free recipe? Share your link with us below! Make sure you leave your permalink (not your homepage url) and leave a link to this post within your own so your readers can find us back here as well.


Gluten-free Breakfast: what do you eat?

Since going gluten free (and over the last couple of months, grain free – I’ll try to get to that before I take off for vacation next week!) I get asked a lot…..

“What do you eat?!”

Here in the U.S., as well as in a lot of other industrialized countries, bread has become our staple. It’s become easier to make with the availability of dry yeasts and we can make it in excess because of the mass amounts of wheat grown each year. Going even one meal without bread is almost unfathomable for people! I know here in my own home we regularly ate wheat with each meal, even while on a Nourishing Traditions style diet.

As we’ve made our way away from this practice, it’s become easier to consume larger amounts of nutrient dense foods.

Instead of beginning to consume large amounts of other grains (like the common gluten free alternatives) we’ve decided to branch out and away from grains, which has severely decreased the amount of ‘normal’ American foods that we consume. One of the reasons we’ve done so is that GF options are often much less healthy than the wheat versions; full of extra sugar and stabilizers. It wasn’t something we made a quick decision about by no means, and I had to purposefully lower our consumption before we took the final leap.

One of the first steps I took was to turn our breakfasts into a nutrient dense powerhouse, leaving the rest of our meals alone. In doing so, it made the transition much easier not only for me (the one who prepares all the food) but for my family as well (so that they could adjust their taste buds).

Our favorite breakfasts:

  • Eggs! These are routinely turned into scrambled eggs, omelets (great way to get veggies in early in the day), fritattas, crustless quiches, and fried eggs. On the weekends we serve them with bacon or sausage and a bit of pan fried potatoes.
  • Yogurt! We love it especially with some berries and a touch of honey. A bit of nut granola is great as well.
  • Smoothies! What a great way to get in even more nutritious foods! We blend our fruit and yogurt together with a bit of raw milk, add a raw egg yolk or two, maybe a bit of melted coconut oil, some almonds, and it’s an entire meal in a glass – satisfying for hours.
  • Leftovers! We seriously need to move away from the thought that breakfast has to be sweet. Not every culture consumes copious amounts of sugary cereal, syrup on pancakes, and muffins and donuts for breakfast. Once you realize this, it gets easier to consume ‘non’ breakfast foods – and I don’t just mean pizza for breakfast either!
  • Salad! Really. It’s a great way to get extra greens and veggies into your diet, you just have to overcome the sweet = breakfast mentality.

Eating free from gluten (and even free from grains) in no way means you’re deprived of food! In the best sense, you’re opening yourself up to different, more nutritious fare.

I started with breakfasts because it IS the most important meal of the day. It’s the meal that breaks our ‘fast’ and a meal I wanted to make sure was not going to be starting the roller coaster effect  of insulin spikes throughout the day. It’s important that I feed my family lots of protein (and even fat) to keep up satisfied and satiated throughout the morning.

So what do you routinely eat for breakfast that is naturally gluten free?

Extra Sources for Breakfast:

Do you have a post about going gluten/wheat free? Or maybe a recent recipe? Link it up below!

Also – if you’re looking to figure out the whole ‘grains thing’, Katie is holding a Test Your Grains Challenge!

Is Wheat "BAD" for You?

Coming to you today by generator power! Last night we had a few crazy strong straight line winds blow through and they not only knocked a power line over behind our house, but snapped a few right in half as well. Luckily my husband had our house wired so that we can just plug in a generator and we’re good to go! ‘Cause living out in the country when your power goes out means NO water! And that’s not fun, especially with two littles.

Also – if you haven’t checked out the blog lately, please do so! I recently had it completely re designed and it’s just beautiful!! I have a few more thing to add/change, but it’s to pretty not to take a look.


After running my series a couple weeks ago on gluten sensitivities, I’ve gotten asked a lot if wheat is “bad”, so I thought I’d give you my thoughts on it.

What is Wheat?

Wheat is actually a grass that originates in the ‘near East’, or the area around western Asia and Iran. There are many different variations of wheat and they all contain gluten – a protein. The wheat we see in the stores today is also very different from traditional wheat. It’s been hybridized many times over so that it actually contains more gluten to give us bread that has a wonderful rise and makes it nice and soft.

The Problems

The theories on why gluten effects so many people today in our country are numerous. There of course is the fact that we’ve changed it so much from what it was, that our foods would change drastically if we prepared them with traditional wheat grains. Wheat is also one of the number one sources of calories here in the U.S. and is the base of our food pyramid. Along with those issues we have also experienced lack of health due to processed foods and lack of nutrients because of our consumption of them. No longer do we consume nutrient dense foods full of the probiotics, vitamins, and minerals our bodies need to fight disease. We also have to deal with multiple toxins in our environment that break down and toxify our bodies. We are given antibiotics and the animal products we consume are also fed antibiotics, causing our gut health to falter.

Because of all of this combined, many of us now have issues digesting the gluten found in wheat.

Should Everyone Eat Gluten Free?

Almost 40% of Americans have some sort of gluten sensitivity. Some researchers actually state that 1 in 3 have gluten intolerance and most just don’t know. It’s also been said that 8 out of 10 have a genetic predisposition to it as well. Gluten Intolerance and/or celiac is linked to infertility, thyroid disorders, auto immune disorders, mental illness, and all sorts of disorders that are effecting our children in large amounts.

Personally, I’m going to go against the USDA guidelines here (yea – big surprise huh?!) and say that we as a nation eat way to much wheat! Whether or not a person has an actual intolerance to wheat, we would all do best to lower our consumption. I also think that each person, each family, needs to find out for themselves how their bodies tolerate it. If you have physical symptoms or disease and disorder that may be linked to gluten intolerance – get tested! Normal lab tests check for gluten antibodies within the blood and are not very reliable until complete villi atrophy takes place (when your intestines are damaged). Stool or saliva analysis is much more effective as both tests are more sensitive and will contain the antibodies even if the gluten has not damaged the intestines so much that the gluten is ‘leaking’ through the gut into the bloodstream. I’m also a big fan of cutting out gluten for a period of at least a few weeks to see how your body reacts if/when you start to consume it again. Many, many people I know have self-diagnosed themselves this way when conventional tests were not conclusive or came back negative. If you find you begin to feel poorly after then consuming wheat again – listen to your body! It’s probably something you’ll want to stay away from.

Even if you don’t have any major symptoms of gluten intolerance, I think it’s time to bring an end to our over consumption of wheat! I don’t think each and every person needs to stay away from wheat 100% of the time. If you do not have an intolerance to gluten, feel free to enjoy it.


There is no reason we need to consume wheat at each meal! Expand your palate and try some new foods! Try focusing on going wheat free for one meal each day, or one day per week. You might really be surprised at the new foods you begin to enjoy.

So should everyone go gluten free? Not necessarily, just make sure to find out how your body reacts to gluten first and be aware of how often you include it in your meals.

I’ll also get into my opinion of grain within any diet very soon as my family and I have eaten completely grain free for a couple of months now!

Now, to going back offline. *sigh* The power company (even though we have our generator hooked up correctly and ‘legally’, wants it off for now as they have to cut the lines and take down a tree that fell on part of them. Actually I’ve held them off to finish this post! Told them I needed 15 minutes. So – I need to go shut it off. gulp. The though of being ‘un’wired drives me nuts!

Have a post about eating gluten free? Or a great wheatless recipe you’d like to share? Add you permalink below!!


Gluten Free Panel, part four

If you haven’t yet, you can check out parts one, two and three!

Many people are under the impression that you’re only sensitive to gluten because you don’t eat enough of it (so sad, but true!) or maybe family members don’t think it’s a big deal and often let children ‘cheat’, how do you handle these issues?

Katie: I never leave my kids with anyone who doesn’t truly understand Celiac disease.  Most of are family doesn’t think it’s a big deal so we just don’t eat there.

Amy: I ignore them. I have offended a lot of people over the years but I cannot afford to spend 3 weeks detoxing after a “cheat”

Jen: as our daughter gets older we are being very upfront with friends and family, expressing our desire for caution and not wanting to risk her health over an unnecessary “treat.” We expect them to respect our wishes just as they would on any other issue, and we’ll be sure to provide alternatives so they don’t have to feel like they’re making our daughter feel left out.

Cara: I don’t allow my child out of my sight unless they’re with people that I’m 100% sure thoroughly understand the diet she’s on.  And it really takes people a long time to understand just how strict you have to be- I’ve had people (many!) *right* after I got done explaining that she can eat ‘absolutely nothing other than what I provide- she has a severe allergies’ pull a piece of candy/popsicle/cracker/cookie out and hand it to her, and then tell me ‘but it says it’s all natural’ or ‘there’s nothing in this! It’s just a cracker!’.  I don’t fault them, it’s hard to remember and understand, and our culture just isn’t used to food limitations so parents have to be very careful.  Neurotic might be an accurate description ;)

Michele: Argh- letting the children “cheat” is so frustrating. I haven’t found a fool-proof way around that, and typically have to make sure we are supervising, until a full understanding has been established.   I also try to provide allergen-free options of special treats, snacks, etc. that loving family members may want to give our children (such as gluten-free cookies/mixes, ice cream cones, homemade ice cream, etc). This helps make things easier for them to “spoil” the little ones safely, and encourage them to spend time together, building relationships.

Kat: I’m of a minority of people with Celiac disease who also get a rash called Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It’s nasty looking and for me it lasts for over 5 days. That alone has been enough for me to prove to people that this is not a sensitivity from not letting my body get used to eating gluten.  I find that also explaining to people the amount of pain I feel when I do ingest gluten helps convey the message that no amount is safe. Pain seems to resonate more with people who don’t understand the disease, more so than having an upset stomach, bloating, or an immune system reaction.

Rachel: I think our families have seen first hand what we have to go through if we cheat and we have other (nieces/nephews) with nut allergies that they are sensitive to helping us eat GF.  If some one has “good” ideas/advise about being GF I usually just listen kindly and tell them “thanks for thinking of me, however that has not been my experience with my body.” Then I proceed to them them that gluten allergies can look different in different people that is part of the reason it is difficult to diagnose properly.

What do you wish someone would have told you when you went gluten free?

Jen: the proper recipe for nut flour pancakes :)

Emily: That our bodies don’t need that many grains! I kept trying to make up my 6 servings of wheat with other grains and it was so trying. Then I realized that we don’t really need that many grains. The handful of nuts or carrots was going to do more for me than a slice of gluten free bread.  Also, to watch out. There are a lot of unhealthy GF products. So many are almost all made up of starch.  Talk about a blood sugar rush! Think about replacing gluten with protein snacks.

Michele: Enjoy it!

Liz: I wish they would have told me how difficult the social implications are. People lose friendships over food. Believe it or not, but these are the kind of stories people in the nutrition community hear and commiserate over. Food plays such a large and important role in human bonding and human experiences. Once we lose that connection, it can be difficult to understand each other. People have always gathered around food and defined themselves by what they ate/eat. When we put the same food in our bodies as our family and friends, we have the same energy. Once we change what we eat, we have a different energy and become more conscious beings. That changes the dynamics of the relationship.

Kat: I wish someone had told me that going gluten-free was not enough. You have to re-nourish your body and provide enough nutrients to make up for the years of undernourishment you’ve undoubtedly gone through. It is not sufficient to take a B12 supplement and multi-vitamin. The body needs lots of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins to repair and rebuild the digestive system. Eating whole nourishing foods is the most important step in recovering from Celiac Disease, or any digestive disease.

Rachel: That it will get easier! You don’t need to go broke going GF, just change your thinking and think outside the BOX (literally) Get connected with other people who are doing this successfully it makes it so much easier!

What are your favorite Gluten Free Resources?

Katie: Gluten Free Mom

Jen: Gluten freeMomma Jen’s Kitchen, Everything Free Eating, MPLS Real Food Lover GAPS - Grain Free Foodie, Happy Belly, Alternative Cooking, GAPS: A Food Experiment

Emily: Gluten Free Goddess- when you’re feeling creative, Gluten Free Girl , Gluten Free Mommy, Our Gaggle of Girls

Michele: SCD Recipes and Bob’s Red Mill are good recipe sites.

Liz: My Examiner articles, Gluten-Free Works is also a great site that collects GF info from around the web.

Kat: My favorite resources are all the Primal/Paleo blogs and sites out there. While I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet myself, I found a lot of inspiration and fun food ideas from the Primal crowd. I like that all of the recipes are using naturally gluten-free ingredients and there is no so much focus on baked goods and sweets as other gluten-free sites. It’s nice to see an example of what we can naturally eat, instead of complicated recipes attempting to recreate what made us sick in the first place.

If you’d like to mention something I didn’t think of, please feel free!

Jen: I think going gluten free is a great start, but it’s easy to just replace starches with starches and not kick the underlying issues, which is why I highly recommend GAPS. We saw huge benefits in our family when we were only limiting the starches, and not doing anything else to improve our diet. For those that truly are allergic to gluten (and don’t have other underlying digestive issues) I don’t think it is that hard to use gluten-less flours, and learn to cook with real food, once you get used to it. The hard time is the transition, and learning a new way of cooking and eating – but there are certainly enough real-food bloggers and friends to help you through it!

Michele: I post a gluten-free meal plan every week at Frugal Granola, so you’re welcome to stop by for inspiration!

Kat: My biggest regret was not going gluten-free earlier. The gluten-free diet was suggested to be on a message board a few times and by people at health food stores. I stumbled across it many times while researching symptoms online. And yet, it took me years to convince myself to try it. I wish I could go back and just try it out even for only a week. It’s not at all as hard as it seems. In fact, it’s harder to stay sick.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who helped me out and were a part of this gluten free panel! Your words of advice have been terrific!

You can also check out all of the posts from the week we focused on wheat and gluten:

The Silent Cause to Poor Health – a fabulous, everyone should listen to podcast

The Transition to Gluten Free – a guest post by Kat from

Gluten Free Easily – a guest post from Shirley of GFE

Gluten Free Beauty – a guest post by Kristen of Gluten Free Beauty

Gluten, Grains, and Children with Developmental Issues – guest post by Cara or Health, Home, Happiness

and the 4 part Gluten Free Panel: part one, part two, part three, part four


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