Gluten Basics

Gluten Basics!

Since the release of Wheat Belly (2014) and The Grain Brain (2013) being gluten free has become all the rage. It is one of the most popular “fad diets” to hit the American Culture and it doesn't appear that it will be going away any time soon. According to the Mayo Clinic approximately 1.6 million American are on a “gluten free” diet even though about half have not been diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

So what exactly is gluten? Gluten (Latin for glue) is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. When these proteins ( glutenin and gliadin) come together they form a bond and that bond is what gives breads their chewy elastic taste and texture. People all over the world have been consuming wheat / gluten for thousands of years- so what has changed over those thousands of years that is causing such a rise in people being diagnosed with Celiac? Researchers believe that the gluten intolerance is connected with grains becoming a primary element in the American diet. Currently wheat products are being mass produced and the wheat actually contains more gluten than the prior generations. Not to mention, wheat has become the most heavily consumed protein on earth. Nearly 1/3 of the foods purchased in store these days contain some form of wheat, including; soup, sauces, some processed meats, frozen vegetables, multi-vitamins and even some probiotics (Read Your Labels!!!!)

So what is the diagnosis? Currently Gluten Sensitivity is an accepted diagnosis in the health care world. Some of the symptoms may be gastrointestinal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and fatigue. You cannot test for gluten sensitivities, however an elimination diet would indicate if you should cut gluten out. Celiac disease on the other hand can be determined with a blood test. Celiac is a hereditary autoimmune disease. If you are celiac and consume wheat, barley, rye products your body attacks the lower intestine and will not allow the proper absorption of nutrients. In either case, if you think you are experiencing issues after consuming gluten, then you should consult with you physician.

Wheat has also been known to cause un-necessary inflammation within the body. However so do trans fats, sugars, alcohol, MSG, milk and most animal meats. So like everything in this world- these things should be consumed in moderation.

Have you cut out all gluten products for weight loss purposes? If so, you may want to reconsider. Just because you are “gluten free” does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose weight. Nine times our of ten you will drop some initial weight because a majority of the gluten containing products you are consuming are highly refined and processed and again- usually not consumed in moderation. Also a number of products on the market that are gluten free have very high amount of sugar (again- read your labels!). This does not mean you can go out and buy Wonder Bread, but research your options and purchase products that are made with high quality ingredients (I go for non-GMO and organic) or make your own  and consume them in moderation. Chances are the extra weight isn’t the bagels fault.

In order to best serve the clients I coach and feed I went gluten free for one month. It was not an easy task, but I did come across this recipe by Sara Forte, from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook and I love it and make it regularly. They are made with almond meal are gluten free and they are absolutely delish!!!

Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Cocoa Nibs

1 ¼ Cups Almond Meal

¼ Cup Cocoa Nibs

½ Cup Unsweetened Coconut – Shredded

½ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

1/3 Cup Raw Sugar

1 Egg

3 Tbs Coconut Oil – Melted

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

Method: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, cocoa nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, beat the egg very well until it is uniform in color and doubles in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingrediants and mix until just combined. Put the bowl in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using your hands, roll the chilled dough into balls no larger than 1 inch in diameter and place on a baking sheet with 1 ½ inch space between, giving a gentle press on the tops to flatten just a bit. Bake until the edges just begin to brown, 7 – 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve :)




Reasonable Goals For 2016

How many of you committed to a New Years Resolution? How many of you were sick and tired of being sick and tired by last October and the Holidays hadn’t even started yet? We all want to come into the new year with new goals, idea, bodies, eating habits, exercise habits, etc. But by the time February 1st rolls a round we have fallen off the band wagon and are back at the Wendy’s drive thru. Time and time again I sit down with my clients and ask them what they should be eating and they all know. So if they all know what they should be doing, why aren’t they doing it? I believe that the answer to the question comes in many many forms; time management, unsupported spouse / partner, unrecognized emotional barriers, feeling overwhelmed… but the most commons is setting unrealistic and unobtainable the goals. Instead of committing to eating a salad everyday before dinner, for example, people believe they need to cut out all sugar, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, wheat and eat nothing but protein and salad washed down with water. Unfortunately this type of sever restriction typically does not lead to long term success.

So what are you supposed to do? Make some goals! What does your “healthy self” look like? Do you want to have better cholesterol? Be 20 pounds lighter? Complete that half marathon you have always wanted to do? Decide what it is you would like to accomplish and write it down (yes- physically sit and write it down – and give yourself a deadline). Then figure out what you need to do to accomplish those goals. For example if you want to run that half marathon; find a local running club / group, see if there is a race coming up that you would like to participate in, see if you can find a good training plan, then get running. All these little steps (or small goals) will lead up to you accomplishing your big goal – running across that finish line. The same goes for your diet! If you want to eat better, start with some small changes that you can make on a day to day basis. For example – I am going to eat breakfast everyday for two weeks. Breakfast is often over looked so if you haven’t been consuming breakfast for the last, say 4 years, start small and grab a banana on the way out the door to work. Having a meal to start your day helps to regulate your blood sugar which staves off cravings and fights mood swings. Your body will thank you!

Another big step toward a healthier, fitter you is getting into the kitchen! Meals cooked at home verses in a restaurant have approximately 40% less fat and calories! If you are someone who eats all of your meals out, a great goal would be to make 3 meals at home. You can sit down on Saturday, make your grocery list, get anything prepped that needs to be prepped, and when you get home from work during the week you aren’t wondering where dinner is coming from. Cooking at home also provides an opportunity for you and your family to cook together, try something new and exciting,  share how your day went and maybe even learn a thing or two together! I am going to leave you all with a recipe I have made for my family and friends time and time again. It is comforting, filling, exotic and down right delicious! Happy cooking!

Coconut Chana Saag

Coconut Chana Saag

Isa Moskowitz (from Isa Does It!)


2 Tbs Coconut Oil

1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced

3 Cloves Garlic, minced (I use about 6)

2 Tbs Fresh Ginger

2 Tbs Curry Powder

Salt and Pepper, to taste

½ tsp Crushed Anise (Fennel seeds)

¼ tsp Garam Masala

½ tsp Cumin

¼ tsp Cayenne

1 (24oz) Can Whole Tomatoes

2 (15 oz) Cans Chickpeas, rinsed and drained

8oz Kale, chopped

1 (14oz) Can Coconut Milk (whole fat)

2 Tbs Lime Juice, fresh squeezed

Method: Pre-heat a 4-quart pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Sauté the onion in the oil for for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and ginger, sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, anise seeds, Garam masala, cumin, and cayenne and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast for a bit (maybe a minute or so).

Add the tomato juice from the can, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Simply hold the tomatoes and let the juice strain through your fingers. Now add the tomatoes from the can, squishing them with your fingers as you put them in the pot, to mash them up. Add the chickpeas and mix well.

Cover the pan ad bring the heat up a bit. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and stir until wilted, then let simmer for 5 more minutes, uncovered, to cook down even further.

Add the coconut milk and heat through. Add the lime juice, then taste for seasoning. It will taste best if you let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Serve over some brown rice, topped with cilantro!