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Anti Candida Diet Update and Nacho Supreme Recipe

[No, you’re not in a time warp or losing your mind. . . this is, indeed, a repeat of an earlier post from January of this year, that was lost when my blog was hacked. Luckily for me, two intrepid readers, Jayme and Cristina, printed it out and were able to send it to me (thank you so much to both of you!). So here it is, re-transcribed in full, for your reading pleasure. Sadly, they weren’t able to save all your wonderful comments from the original. So please do comment again–or if you missed it the first time!]

Diet Dessert and Dogs Stage 1 Recipes [Yes, you can eat all of these things on Stage 1 of the diet! Clockwise from upper left: Kale Salad, Fully Loaded; Black Bean Fudge; Grain and Veggie Bowl; Grain-Free Coconut Flour Biscuit; Sweet Potato Wedges with Sweet Almond Sauce; High Protein Snackin’ Orbs. ]

While I’m not big on “year in review” posts on the blog and I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions (though I do set goals every year), I thought it was time for another anti-candida diet update for those of you who’ve been following along this journey with me since March, 2009–and for those of you who are newer to the blog, here’s why I eat the way I do. (Oh, and if you’re here just for the recipe, feel free to skip on down to the bottom of the post and enjoy some anti-candida friendly Nachos Supreme).


I haven’t shared much about the ACD lately. For many of us, just embarking on the diet is a Herculean task, the first three or so months so challenging that you want to vent and share and question and gain some sort of catharsis just by putting all your frustrations, fears and fury out there. For me, the beginning of the diet was like hearing from an old nemesis who’d moved away for a while and then suddenly thunders back into town, harassing you with phone calls every day and asking for all kinds of favors. You dread hearing from that “friend” again. No wonder I’ve avoided the topic.

Still, now that I’m heading into four years on the diet, I feel as if I’ve established a certain level of stability and imagine that this is the way I will live for the rest of my life. This kind of balance is, in most ways, reassuring and allows me to go about my daily business without having to pay attention to every morsel that passes my lips, and without having to worry too much that I’ll have a reaction to something I eat (though that still does happen, too–see below).

I’ve developed a strategy to deal with outbreaks and, for the most part, can anticipate them. But there are still ongoing challenges for me, in any case, that continue to this day. For those of you who’ve just started and feel as if there’s no end in sight, for those of you who may also be maintaining, or for those of you who are just curious, here’s an update, and what I’ve learned after almost 13 total years of experience with this diet.

Faux Chocolate from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

[Faux Chocolate for when you can’t have the real thing. . . or even when you can.]

1. Hold Steady on NO sugar, fungus, vinegar (except ACV), active yeast.

Over time, it gets easier to allow some formerly taboo ingredients back into your diet. I will never (NEVER) eat refined sugar again; however, my repertoire of natural sweeteners has grown from stevia and yacon syrup in Stage 1 to stevia, yacon, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, lucuma, and the (very occasional) agave. I still don’t consume maple syrup (sob) or any kind of cane sugar (take note, those of you on “sugar-free” diets: evaporated cane juice is just a fancy name for “sugar.”)

Also still prohibited from my culinary repertoire are mushrooms of all kinds (though I did take a tincture for sinus issues that contained some mushroom extracts, with no ill effects); any alcohol (double sob, especially at this time of year–Oh, Segura, how I missed thee on New Year’s Eve! Dear Glenlivet, how I wish you could warm my heart this winter; and take note, G&Ts, summers will never be the same without you), or regular vinegar (I do use apple cider vinegar, often referred to as ACV, since it’s known to have anti-fungal properties, among other myriad health benefits.)

I did re-introduce some previously banned foods once I entered Stage 3 and maintenance, a couple of years ago. These include whole-grain gluten-free flours (though I’ve come to realize that too much flour or too many flour-based foods don’t work for me), plus some lower glycemic fruits that I missed terribly and eat only on occasion (to wit, pomegranate, or goji berries in place of raisins and prunes in place of dates, plus a few others).

2. Address Slip-Ups as Quickly as Possible.

Just because I don’t eat sugar doesn’t mean I’ve beaten my sugar addiction. When I make desserts and consume them too often (which for me means once a day), I find that I crave them, begin to eat more, and eventually succumb to a “binge” (my definition of a binge these days is 3 or 4 cookies, say, nothing like the entire tubs of Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting I used to eat, straight from the can, with a butter knife).

I still subscribe to Stacy Halprin’s philosophy, mentioned earlier on this blog: if you do slip up, do not berate yourself. Simply move to the next meal, or next snack, and start over as if it never happened. Repeat until the behavior sticks. Apparently it takes 6-8 tries for a smokers to permanently quit smoking; when I learned to drive (at the ripe old age of 33!), it took me more than a year–driving every day–before that habit became natural to me and I no longer had to think actively about it. I don’t see why overriding poor eating habits and conquering sweets cravings should be any different. In other words, I’m willing to keep trying 50 times, or 500 times, to prevail with healthy eating that sticks permanently. Nine-five percent of the time, I’m successful.

Butterscotch Pudding from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

[Grain-Free Butterscotch Pudding.  Good for all stages of the diet, plus a bonus vegetable serving!]

3. My Weight Will Fluctuate.

Right now, my weight is “up” again. I tend to fluctuate up to 20 pounds in one direction or another (kids, do not try this at home). If I am consistent in my healthy eating and exercise, it eventually balances out again (though my naturopath is now suspecting adrenal fatigue–for which I’m currently being treated–and hidden, uncovered allergies in this case, for which I’ll follow an elimination diet eventually).

For me personally, certain carbs (mostly grains) seem to be the culprit. However, my diet also relies on fat-laden foods like nuts and seeds for much of my protein (and sweet cravings), so I am sure that my weight is connected to how much of those I consume as well; not to mention that I’m not heading into the stage of “mature woman” (though not getting those senior discounts just yet–darn!), which can cause weight gain. And, as many of you have helpfully pointed out in the comments, addressing long-standing emotional issues is essential to permanently banish excess weight. Despite many years of therapy (and continued visits), those emotional issues still hang on. But I’m working on it! If I go up a few pounds (or ten), I try not to freak out too much, which only causes stress (and then stress eating. . . a vicious cycle).

4. Pick Your Battles, in Food as in Life.

Even though I know that some foods might trigger cravings, I am not willing to forfeit all aspects of a “normal” life at this point being on the diet. My hubby and I still eat in restaurants on occasion (and that “occasion” has decreased dramatically from 3-4 times a week in our first year together, down to maybe once a month at present).

Similarly, when we’re on vacation, I do my best to ensure that the meals are ACD-compliant, but if I have some vinegar in a salad dressing, or even (gasp!) dates in a raw dessert, I do not worry about it. I find those aren’t he events that trigger overeating in any case; when I’m on holiday, I don’t have access to my own kitchen, so I won’t go bake up a brownie and scarf down three pieces of it one afternoon. For me, the triggers are much more here at home.

Carob Coconut Sweeties from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

[Still a favorite snack and an absolute must for me when I want a “safe” sweet.]

5. When Necessary, Return to Square One.

Unlike weight-loss diets, the ACD is kind of a diet for life, and you don’t get to reincorporate most of the foods you gave up once you’ve attained your “goal.” It does afford the opportunity, on maintenance, to enjoy so many of the delicious, even decadent, desserts that I love so much; but with the ACD, I find that (for me, at least), it’s a good idea to return occasionally to the first stage of the diet, sort of like a detox or the way you can “revert to default settings” on your computer. I revisit Stage One when I feel I’ve veered too far from the strictures of anti-candida living (say, like when I’ve been baking 4 or 5 times a day over several months when testing for a new cookbook). At those times, I try to par down the diet and consume only the foods that helped to reverse the symptoms in the first place: clean veggies; fresh fruits, sparingly; nuts and seeds; less starchy legumes and beans; some grains.

When I’m attempting to reset my metabolism this way, I forfeit any baked goods and most flours as well, going grain-free as much as possible (I don’t worry about the occasional bowl of steel-cut oats or rice with Indian food, for instance, but I don’t’ mix up muffins or cakes or pancakes for breakfast during those times). After a couple of weeks on this regimen, I usually feel recharged and revitalized, ready to resume my regular ACD activities.

My goal this winter is to incorporate more fresh juices and raw foods into my winter diet. I love fresh juice–even 100% vegetable varieties–and raw foods have always been a favorite. The challenge, I think, will be to steer clear of sweeter desserts, even as I bake them up daily for the next month to complete a manuscript. [Edit, February 2013: manuscript completed–baking done for a while!]

Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

[Cranberry, Pomegranate and Kale Healthy Cocktail]

So how will that affect what I post here on the blog? Expect to see more savory dishes and more grain-free fare (including desserts). I was delighted with your response to my detox juice post a while back and hope to post more juice recipes as well. And, of course, I want to hear from you and what you’d like to see more of: Stage One foods? Later foods? Stevia-based desserts? More main dishes? Let me know and I’ll go for it–I am always up for a recipe challenge!

If you’re on an anti-candida diet, or, like me, have been on it for a while, I’d love to hear how this compares to your experience. What are the greatest challenges for you on the diet? What has helped you to stay the course? Please share your experiences, tips and tricks, or anything else candida-related that you’d like in the comments! (Even if you’re not following an anti-candida diet, feel free to share your experiences around consuming sugar and how it has affected you as well).

And now–today’s recipe (congratulations if you’ve made it this far!).  This is a dish The HH and I have whenever I’m stumped for what to make for dinner, or if we simply feel like eating something that tastes a little bit “naughty.”   These are nachos fully loaded with all the toppers that we love and that make for totally indulgent “junk food.” This dish hits all the key spots for gustatory variety and satisfaction: crunchy (corn chips), salty (ditto), smooth and creamy (cheese sauce), briney (olives), hot and fiery (jalapenos), saucy (salsa), meaty (meat crumbles).  Feel free to substitute your own favorite cheese sauce or even grated Daiya if it means speeding up the prep time.

Nacho Supreme from Diet, Dessert and dogs

Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs via email. (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)

Last Year at this Time: Byesar (Fava Bean Hummus) (gluten free; ACD  All Stages)

Two Years Ago: Pâté Campagne (Country Pâté) (gluten free; ACD All Stages)

Three Years Ago: Flash in the Pan: Spicy Roasted Seeds (gluten free; ACD  All Stages)

Five Years Ago: Roasted Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Cippolini Onions (gluten free; ACD  Maintenance)

© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs


25 comments to Anti Candida Diet Update and Nacho Supreme Recipe

  • I can’t believe you lost an entire post – weird! So glad you recovered it, this was (is) a good post!


    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks, Alisa. My host had backup, but only from about 4 days prior to the hacking, so this was the post that was lost. 🙁


  • So glad you were able to recover this one through the help of some readers, Ricki! It’s painful to lose a post and as Alisa says, this is a good one … definitely worth recovering! I still think that nacho dip looks amazing and I’m in awe that there are now pomegranate juice stains on that white gauze. 🙂



    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks, Shirley! And are there stains on it? I guess I don’t have the steady grip that I used to–ha ha! 🙂


    Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts Reply:

    LOL, Ricki, that was a typo! I’m amazed there are NO stains at all. How can you deal with pomegranates and arils and have no stains? You awe me!



    Ricki Reply:

    Oh, Shirley, that’s hilarious!! I can’t remember exactly (feels like a long time ago that I wrote that post!), but I probably patted them dry on a paper towel or something and made sure they were dry before I scattered them on the cheesecloth. Most likely, just dumb luck! 😀


  • Ricki,
    What do you think about tempeh? Do you think it’s safe on the anti-candida diet? It’s one of those items that confuses me since it’s cultured (on one hand could be good, the other not: Fungus?). I have a pack in my fridge and it’s one of those things I feel weird about eating. But, I’m really careful about that stuff so was curious to ask what you think since this post addresses what you can/can’t eat on the diet.


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Angela,
    While I’m not qualified to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat, I know that there are differing views about tempeh. In recent years, I’ve seen more and more anti-candida diets welcome the use of foods that are naturally fermented, like tempeh, miso, or apple cider vinegar. People are divided on tofu, even though it’s not technically fermented (and The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook does allow tempeh). Having said that, I firmly believe that each individual should find the specific diet that works for them–and there is no one-size-fits-all with candida diets. If you’d like a better idea of what one can/can’t eat on the diet and the specific diet I followed, see this post.


    Angela@FeelDivineFood Reply:

    Thanks for the info, Ricki! I haven’t had tempeh for years because soy was one thing I cut out of my diet but I am slowly giving it a try again. I will have to make something yummy with that tempeh! I also look forward to trying your Nacho Supreme recipe! I pinned it when you posted it originally, so it’s on my list of recipes to try. 🙂 Just wondering: I’ve never used potato starch before but looked at the link you have and it sounds like it’s a thickener. Do you know if there are other things that could be used it in it’s place? I would ask about arrowroot but I think that needs to be heated to thicken.


    Ricki Reply:

    You could use tapioca, cornstarch (only if organic) or even brown rice flour, but it might change the texture a wee bit. And I should note that the recipe is definitely not for someone in the early stages of the diet (sorry if that’s you)–the corn chips, for instance, are only maintenance (or at last Stage 3) or later. Sorry if that puts a damper on your plans to have it!


    Angela@FeelDivineFood Reply:

    Thanks for the substitution suggestions! I definitely will not eat that sort of stuff all the time, but after a few years I think I will allow to try out the Nacho Supreme recipe for a special occasion… even if it means I can’t eat the whole batch myself and have to share. 🙂


    Ricki Reply:

    Ha ha! I’m glad the HH is with me when we have it, or I might be tempted to eat the whole thing myself, too! 😉

  • Cherie

    Wow, I related to everything you wrote and handle it much the same way! I’ve been following the ACD for about 5yrs now, and even though it did change my life in such a dramatic way for the better (resolved issues since childhood which keeps me motivated),I am now thinking I might need to go on the GAP diet to see if it will finish the healing. I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog. I have been following you for a couple of years and you have helped me soooo much! Know that you are not alone on this journey.


    Ricki Reply:

    Cherie, thank you so much for your kind comment (and for commenting!). And congratulations on coming as far as you have with your own journey. I think most people, when they first start the diet, DO feel very much alone. It was another blogger who helped me to feel less so when she responded to one of my panicked emails about candida. If my blog can help even one other person to avoid that same sense of despair that I had, then it’s definitely worth it! 🙂


  • chris

    The greatest challenge is all of the recipes out there that use date paste and bananas and other fruits and grains. It is difficult knowing how to substitute for them. It is even ore challenging when you are allergic to soy, dairy, gluten, and eggs.

    I would love to see more stevia, grain free, soy free, egg free recipes (treats, lunches, dinners).

    I have been craving pancakes: please come up with an egg free, soy free, grain free, dairy free recipe!!!!

    Other recipes:
    Alternative to date paste

    Stevia sweetened maple “syrup” and honey.



    Ricki Reply:

    Chris, Thanks so much for your comment! It sounds like you’ve got lots on your plate (or off your plate, actually!) 🙂 I’ll try to address your points here.

    First, NO recipes on this blog have eggs. And no recipes on this blog have dairy. EVERYTHING is egg free AND dairy free, since all the recipes are vegan (ie, no eggs, dairy or other animal products, and no honey).

    Second, I think you will find a lot of recipes you can eat in my Gluten-Free Recipe Index. You could also use the “Categories” at right to seek out grain-free recipes, most of which will likely be soy free as well, since I rarely use soy (the exceptions are tofu and tempeh, but they are meals unto themeselves, rarely as an added ingredient to a dish that isn’t MOSTLY soy–so easy to spot). If you see Bragg’s or tamari/soy sauce, you can always sub coconut aminos, since they are very similar. Most of the time, miso is my own sub for nutritional yeast, so you could just sub in the opposite direction there.

    For an egg-free, soy-free, grain-free, dairy-free pancake recipe, see these Lemony Almond Pancakes (just omit the agave and use 10 drops plain stevia instead–I’ve made them that way many times).

    Third, almost every sweet recipe I have uses stevia (And EVERY recipe in my new cookbook uses stevia, sometimes along with another low glycemic sweetener). The sweetener I combine most often with stevia is coconut sugar, also low glycemic. But you’ll have some luck searching “ACD Stage One” in the categories at right for stevia-only recipes. And I’m working on more!

    Fruit is more tricky–it depends which fruits you are already able to eat.

    Hope that gives you a good starting point! 🙂


  • Thanks so much for your anti candida diet update. Being a long term candida sufferer myself I very much appreciate hearing how you are dealing with it.

    Adrenal fatigue is definitely a major contributor to candida related problems – for me at least. And to this day whenever I am stressed, chances are that some candida symptoms will pop up somewhere.

    With your new book on the way, I can imagine that you have had to deal with a fair amount of stress, too, in the past few months.

    Well done for putting all those steps in motion though!

    I tend to agree with Cherie that the GAP diet looks very promising to help heal the gut.

    But boy, how hard would that be to start all over again following that protocol. Especially since there doesn’t seem to be a “vegan”- friendly version of it.

    For the past 3 weeks now I have been experimenting with going grain free and gluten free and been taking higher strength probiotics (20 billion organisms, 6 strains), slippery elm and l-glutamin powder (to heal leaky gut) to see whether this might once and for all eliminate the yeast imbalance.

    I am a bit skeptical though I have to say as this new diet approach I am following requires you to eat loads of potatoes!

    In terms of what I’d like to see more of, I’d say more grain free desserts please. But savory dishes sounds good, too 🙂

    3 things that have hugely helped me get my candida levels down are:

    Eating lots of hummus (great healthy snack and good to prevent constipation which is a yeast friend); eating supper no later than 6pm and regularly eating fermented vegetables.

    Hope this helps. All my best,

    P.S. …and keep the fantastic work up – you are such an inspiration for all us candida sufferers out there 🙂


    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks for the very comprehensive response, Sandra! 🙂 I agree that fermented veggies are great for candida. I think the general thinking on fermented foods has shifted recently. And ditto on the hummus: who doesn’t love hummus? 😉


  • Hi Ricki,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I have to say, I’ve been wondering about your overall diet and your personal commentary. This was an encouraging and very motivational post. So thank you. All these recipes look so delicious! You have such a unique niche with the ACD in additional to vegan eating. You’re a treasure and significant resource to many. Thank YOU Ricki!!

    Be Well,


    Ricki Reply:

    Aw, thanks so much, Amber! Glad you found it encouraging–makes it feel a bit easier. Hope things are going well with you, too. I love seeing your wonderfully creative and healthy recipes show up on Wellness Weekends!
    Hugs, Ricki 🙂


  • Great Post! I think I may have read it when you first posted it but it is nice to read again now that my candida is back! I was so good this summer and completely eliminated it. Then I slowly started introducing foods back into my diet with no symptoms. I think I got a little overconfident and started baking on a regular basis and my sugar cravings returned and that pesky candida crept back into my life. I still haven’t been able to find a good balance but I’m sure that will come with time. I need to get over my addiction to sugar so I think I’m going to focus on that.


    Ricki Reply:

    Well, if you did read it before, Jesse, thanks for commenting again! And sorry to hear about the return of the yeast-beast. I find it is a very delicate balance, indeed, and I need to get hold of those moments very quickly if I don’t want a full-blown recurrence. I’ve gotten MUCH better at it over the past year. . . only wee flareups for the most part that are hardly noticeable. So it does get easier! Hang in there. 🙂


    Jesse @OutToLunchC Reply:

    Thanks for the encouragement Ricki! The good part is that this will push me to make more candida friendly recipes for my website.


  • I remember reading this the first time and just loved it! Your commitment to your health is truly admirable and you make it seem like we can all do it! The tips are great as well 🙂 So glad you reposted it, since I loved reading it again!


    Ricki Reply:

    Thanks so much, Gabby! And believe me, if I can do it, we all CAN do it, too! 😉


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