[PLEASE NOTE: If you participated this month and didn't see a comment from me, it's not that I didn't try. For some bizarre reason, WordPress is now tossing all of my comments into spam. If I usually comment on your blog and you haven't seen any from me lately, please check the spam comments and tell that *&%4#! Akismet that I am not a spammer!! Grrr. Thanks.]
It’s been quite the month, what with Vegan MoFo AND an SOS Challenge going on–but you guys rose to that challenge most admirably! I’m happy to say that last month was our best-attended SOS Challenge so far, with 39 spectacular entries!
Of course, I already love any recipe that includes sweet potatoes. But I was particularly impressed with some of the savory entries, including:
. . . plus too many more great recipes to mention! You’ll just have to check out all 37 entries on your own–see the thumbnails, below!
And let’s not forget this month’s winners! Once again this month, Kim and I were able to offer prizes for the SOS Challenge. We’ve chosen two names at random, each to win a prize from one of us. And the winners are:
BROOKE from B and the Boy: You’ve won a hand-crocheted jar cozy courtesy of Kim. Please contact Kim at eatingfreelyATgmailDOTcom with your full name and mailing address! (since this is a custom-made cozy, you can discuss which patterns and colors your want with Kim)
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the challenge last month. Kim and I are taking a break in December to focus on holiday cooking, gifts, and time with friends and family. We’ll see you for our next SOS Kitchen Challenge in 2011!
During a conversation about something entirely unrelated yesterday, the HH uttered that well-known truism: “There are only two things you can really count on: death, and taxes.”
Well, I have to tell you (and I said this to the HH, too, of course), that hasn’t quite been my experience. For instance, I’ve found over the years that you can also count on the government to increase taxes every few years. And that the second I switch lines in the grocery store, the woman just ahead of me will pull out an item without a price code, necessitating a long and protracted search on the store shelves. And that winter will feel far too long, no matter how few snowfalls we receive.
And you can always–always–count on Britney to do something that prompts a flurry of media squealing, while concomitantly providing literature students everywhere a real, flesh-and-blood embodiment of the word, “bathos.”
Most of us also have our “old reliables” that we count on in the realm of food. My friend Sterlin, for instance, habitually cooked up Date Pasta whenever she required a quick and dependable meal to impress a potential beau (sadly, while the food always turned out great, the beau did not). The Nurse, on the other hand, can count two ”Wowzah!-Zowie!-Sacre bleu!” recipes in her repertoire, both guaranteed to dazzle friends who drop in on a moment’s notice; they’re invariably bowled over when presented with a plate of still-warm, enticing and from-scratch hunks of cake within 30 minutes of arrival (either a fragrant, warming Cinnamon Coffee Cake –recipe handwritten, grease-stained and fading, on an old index card from my mother’s collection–or a lickety-split Chocolate Cake from the legendary Second Helpings, Please!, nowadays known as Wacky Cake).
In recent years, the Butterscotch Blondies from Sweet Freedom (which can be mixed, baked, and ready to eat in about 35 minutes) have asserted themselves as my new standard “old reliable” recipe. Before the blondies, however, my favorite quick and easy dessert was always apple crisp.
Which is odd, not least because apple crisp contains no chocolate. It’s neither a dessert I crave, nor even one I particularly love. Part of this indifference stems from a distaste for baked apples (at least, until I tried these). Still, apple crisp is easy, it’s quick, it can be made with relatively few ingredients, and it’s familiar, comfort food. It can pass for pseudo-healthy (an apple a day, and all that). And it’s even permitted within my ACD-determined restrictions on sweeteners, since it relies on the natural sweetness of the fruit itself.
Last week, when the HH and I were invited to dinner at my friend Eternal Optimist’s place, I returned to my Granny Smith roots and threw together a stevia-sweetened crisp to feed the five of us in attendance. Though the dessert went over well, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the texture of the crumble topping, which seemed a tad dry without sugar to caramelize and provide gooey binding power.
The following day, I’d cooked up some savory pumpkin biscuits based on this recipe (I subbed pumpkin for sweet potato, omitted the sweetener, used flax instead of Ener-G and added sage and garlic salt to the mix–fab!), and subsequently found myself wondering what to do with the leftover pumpkin. Then it hit me: why not mix it with the apples in a crumble-type bar? It seemed the perfect solution, adding texture and flavor to the humdrum apple. (“Mum, that combination sounds a little odd to us, actually. And you know we could have helped you dispose of all that extra pumpkin, no problem.”)
So I played with the original and came up with this layered bar that boasts a moister filling and softer crumble than the all-apple one. The topping, when pressed into place, also forms the bottom crust; the filling is tart and textured, with tender shoots of grated apple suspended throughout the pumpkin purée.
If you like your fruity desserts sweet, though, take note: my version only barely verges on what could be called “sweet” (in fact, the HH informed me it wasn’t quite sugary enough for his taste). Feel free to add more stevia, agave, or other sweetener, as you like. And less sweet means you needn’t feel guilty if you decide to consume the leftovers for breakfast the next day–if there are any, that is. But I wouldn’t count on it.
Apple Pumpkin Crumble Bars (ACD Friendly–Phase II)
Dense, moist, and not too sweet, these bars are a perfect afternoon snack or weekday dessert. The fruity filling isn’t gooey like that of a true apple crisp, but more like unsweetened applesauce. The bars are even better the second day, after the crust has a chance to absorb some of the moisture from the filling and softens up a bit.
1/3 cup (80 ml) melted coconut oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup or agave nectar (or maple syrup would work, too)
20 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/3 cup (80 ml) plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup (80 g) walnut pieces
1/2 cup (90 g) natural almonds (with skin)
1 cup (115 g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
1/3 cup (45 g) coconut flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cardamom (optional)
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
2 cups canned or homemade unsweetened pumpkin purée (sweet potato would make a great substitute here)
3 medium sweet apples, peeled, cored and grated on large holes of a box grater
2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia (to your taste), or 1/4 cup-1/3 cup (60 ml-80 ml) agave nectar
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9″ (22.5 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, yacon syrup, stevia, flax seed, soymilk and lemon zest; set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the walnuts, almonds, oats and coconut flour until the nuts are ground and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and salt and blend just to mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the bowl and toss with a fork (as if making pie dough) until it comes together in a very moist yet crumbly dough (it will stick together if pressed, but should readily separate into crumbles if tossed with the fork). Set aside while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, mix together the pumpkin, apple, lemon juice, vanilla and stevia.
Take about half the crumble mixture (you can just estimate) and press it firmly into the bottom of the pan. Top with the filling, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly over the filling and press gently with the palms of your hands.
Bake in preheated oven until edges are browned and the top of the crumble begins to brown a bit, 45-55 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through. (The filling won’t bubble the way typical fruit pie fillings do). Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into squares; reheat if desired to serve. Makes 9 large servings. May be frozen.
How did it get to be Sunday already, and five days since my last post? Well, I haven’t been lounging around watching soap operas and eating bon-bons, that’s for sure (just watching soap operas–I’m not allowed bon-bons on the ACD, silly!). Actually, my dear friend Sterlin has been visiting from England, and I’ve been spending as much time as possible with her (including a surprise birthday party–with Sterlin as the guest of honor–yesterday evening). And though I cooked up a storm for the party, most of the dishes were tried-and-true Indian fare, many of which I’ve already shared on this blog. I fully intended to try out a few new recipes, but ran out of steam, and time, before the party.
So, instead of a new recipe today, I thought I’d address a topic that’s garnered a bit of attention on my blog over the past year or so, both from me and from readers. In fact, over the past month, I’ve received quite a few emails asking me about the ways in which I use stevia (the predominant sweetener allowed on the ACD, along with vegetable glycerin or yacon syrup, which I use only rarely).
For anyone just starting out on the ACD, anyone required to eat low-glycemic or low-carb foods (ie, diabetics, people watching their weight, and so on) or anyone interested in ditching artificial sweeteners, stevia is an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener that you might like to try.
*Please note: I am not a scientist, a chemist, or an expert on stevia, and this post is not intended as advice for anyone contemplating using the sweetener. I’m writing about my own personal experience with stevia, and this is my own, personal, opinion.
How I Discovered Stevia
In the home of my childhood, sweets and desserts were ubiquitous. My mother was an accomplished from-scratch baker and my father, an immigrant to the country, was accustomed to a big slice of home-made cake after dinner each evening. Consequently, my sisters and I grew not only to expect freshly baked confections in our house at all times, but also to prefer sweets to any other types of foods.
As I grew older and my sweet tooth became more ferocious, I began to leap on every chance to eat something sweet without the caloric consequences. When saccharin first became available in Canada, The Nurse and I concocted a cream-cheese based cherry cheesecake sweetened entirely with Sweet N Low (my mouth still puckers at the thought). Later, I found myself buying Weight Watchers Mousse (containing aspartame) in bulk, as I’d often consume an entire batch (supposedly enough for six people) for dinner. When I lived on my own, I stocked Diet Pepsi as if I were hoarding for the next pandemic, and would often imbibe a liter or two of the stuff almost daily.
Needless to say, my sweets addiction got me into some trouble, not once, but twice. About a year ago, I found myself afflicted once again (the previous time had been 10 years prior) with a raging case of systemic candida. The only solution? A strict, relatively restrictive diet and herbal (and, in my case, prescription) anti-fungal medications.
When I was in nutrition school, there was a lot of buzz about a “new” herbal sweetener called stevia. I must admit, I was a bit wary at first (perhaps it was my Pavlovian response to any sweetener that came in little blue packets), but I’ve come to appreciate and even love the mighty sweetleaf. And this time round, it’s certainly allowed me to placate a persistent sweet tooth even while adhering to the diet that will eventually restore my overall health and digestive balance.
What is Stevia?
While the Stevia rebaudiana plant (a leafy shrub) is native to Brazil and Paraguay, it’s actually been grown here in Ontario since 1987, which may explain why Canadians are more familiar with the sweetener than Americans (it’s been designated as GRAS–generally recognized as safe–only since 2008 in the US). Still, stevia is considered an herbal supplement in Canada, so you won’t find it on supermarket shelves next to the Equal; instead, it’s available at health food stores. It’s also the most popular sweetener in Japan, where they’ve been using it to replace artificial sweeteners since 1971.
When the stevia leaves are dried and the liquids extracted, the compounds acquired (called stevioside and rebaudioside) give stevia its sweetness (at about 250-300 times sweeter than sugar). The compounds can be dried into powder or used in liquid form; either way, they are usually augmented with fillers, since the pure extract is so sweet the amounts used would be infinitesmal. Liquids usually have food-grade alcohol (such as they use with vanilla extract) or glycerin (for a non-alcohol version) added. Just a few drops of the liquid offers sweetness equal to 1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) of sugar. (The powder is premixed with dry bulking agents such as cellulose, dextrose, or maltodextrin so that one packet equals about 1 tsp/5 ml of sugar). You can also consume the fresh leaves, which are about 30-45 times sweeter than sugar. [information from here].
Are There Problems Associated with Stevia?
If you’re concerned about possible side effects or health risks, you should know that there have been some studies that indicated genetic mutations in animals who ingested large amounts of the herb. However, these studies haven’t been replicated on humans. Additionally, stevia has been used for hundreds of years in its countries of origin, as well as longterm in Japan (where it’s the number one sweetener, before sugar).
Because it’s derived from a plant and undergoes very little processing, I would much prefer to use stevia than any of the artificial, chemical-based, sweeteners such as Equal or Splenda (and I take issue with those who refer to stevia as “another artificial sweetener”; to my mind, that’s a misnomer). Like saccharin or aspartame, stevia adds zero calories to your food; it tastes very sweet; and it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.
The difference between stevia and sucralose or sodium cyclamate, however, is that stevia exists as-is in nature, and doesn’t require laboratory procedures to be made sweet. In fact, I’m a little leery of some of the new products like PureVia or Truvia (and please note that I’ve never tried either one of them) that extract only the rebaudioside A only (it’s one of the factors that makes stevia sweet) so they can manufacture sweeteners from it. Why not continue to use the whole plant (you can steep the leaves like tea leaves) or the natural, whole extract from the whole leaves, as people have done for centuries? For my part, I’ll use only products labeled as whole “stevia,” containing that one ingredient only, rather than those with trademarked names that are not “stevia.”
I tend to prefer using stevia in foods that are naturally sweet to begin with or recipes that require very little sugar (1/4 cup or less), as well as recipes in which the texture isn’t changed (much) by the addition of sugar. For instance, my favorite use is in my morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. It’s also great as a sweetener in salad dressings, puddings, pancakes and pie fillings, since they don’t rely as much on sugar to produce a particular texture.
The greatest challenge with stevia, I think, is using it in baking, because its intense sweetness (up to 300 times sweeter than sugar) permits only a minute amount to be added to batters or dough. When you substitute 10 drops (or 1/4 teaspoon powder) for 1 cup of sugar, you alter the dry-to-wet ratio in your baked good, as well as the chemical reaction that takes place with baking. As a result, I’ve had to experiment quite a bit with my stevia-sweetened baked goods. Keep that in mind if you try stevia as a sugar replacement. (There are also one-for-one stevia-based sweeteners on the market that allow you to measure one cup of the mixture for one cup of sugar, but these always contain bulking agents. While they produce a good product, my digestive system hasn’t taken kindly to the added ingredients, so I avoid them.).
If you do use stevia in baked goods, remember that you’ll need to compensate for the loss of sugar as a binding agent (due to caramelization when it’s baked). Instead, try using nut or seed butters, or fruit purées in place of some of the sugar, as I do in this recipe. You can find other stevia-based desserts like cookies, puddings and cupcakes with frosting (plus some savory dishes as well) in my ebook, Anti-Candida Feast.
My Favorite Brands of Stevia
Until this year, the only brand of stevia I used was NOW Foods’ brand, as it was the one most readily available here. I prefer the liquid (some people have noted a slight bitterness or aftertaste with the powder; I’ve never found this to be the case with the liquid).
Recently, however, I’ve had the opporunity to try out a few other brands, as well, such as Stevia in the Raw (powder, extract of whole stevia), which I won in a blog giveaway; NuNaturals (vanilla and unflavored liquid) and Stevita chocolate flavor (both of which I received as samples for review on this blog).
Granted, this isn’t a representative sample of all the brands out there, and I’m always scouring the local health food store for other brands. While I loved the NuNaturals and Stevita brands, I did notice that they require a bit more volume than the NOW brand to achieve the same sweetening power (so if I need only 5 drops of NOW stevia to sweeten my bowl of oatmeal, I need up to 10 of the others for the same degree of sweetness). I haven’t detected any bitter aftertaste in any of these brands, though, so perhaps I’m just one of those lucky people with a genetic quirk of the tastebuds that doesn’t register that particular type of bitterness (then again, I also adore brussels sprouts).
Is there anything else you’d like to know about the ACD, my diet, recipes on the blog or any of the ingredients I use? I plan to post more informational blog entries like this one on occasion, in which I answer readers’ questions or address comments related to the diet. So let me know what you’d like me to cover!
“Mum, I know there have been some tests on animals, but dogs can enjoy stevia too, can’t they? Because, you know, we don’t want to give up taste-testing those Carob-Coconut Sweeties you make.”
First of all: Wow. I am truly bowled over by the enthusiastic response to the giveaway, and thrilled that so many of you would like my cookbook! Thanks, all, for your entries and your comments. I have been slow in responding to comments, but have read them all and will respond to any questions later today. (Oh, and the contest continues until May 15th, so if you haven’t entered yet, you still can!)
I did want to clarify one point about the recipes, though: while there ARE some gluten-free recipes in it (about 25%), the book does not include gluten free recipes exclusively. Spelt does contain some gluten–though about 30% less than wheat–and it is often suitable for people with gluten sensitivity such as myself. Most of my recipes employ spelt, barley, or oat flours (much like any of the desserts on this blog). I thought it important to mention this, in case some of you are expecting a gluten-free cookbook (that will have to be next time!)
[My typical dinner these days: raw collard rolls with bean spread; fresh tomato; green beans. No wonder there are no new recipes!]
I’m afraid I don’t have a new recipe for you all today, as much as I’d intended to post one a few days ago. After a whirlwind high school reunion last weekend in Niagara Falls, I came home to discover that the charming candida in my system was being its opportunistic self and took advantage of my slightly altered diet and shift in regular routine while away from home. Ever since I got back, I’ve been feeling sapped of energy and spending more hours in bed than Sleeping Beauty (no prince for me, though. . . unless you count Chaser licking my ear as a magical “kiss”).
(“But Mum, I have to keep licking your ear! All beauty aside, how else am I supposed to let you know it’s time for a walk?”)
My (conventional) doctor has now prescribed an oral anti-fungal medication for me, something about which I’m not at all pleased (even though it does confirm candida as a culprit), but which, it seems, is entirely necessary since virtually none of the other methods I’ve tried have worked. On the ACD site where I found my current diet, they do caution that a candida problem can never be entirely eradicated with diet alone; so I’m okay with the pills. I will see my naturopathic doctor next week, so perhaps he’ll have a new idea.
In the meantime, I am determined to continue with the regime, and have faith that it will take effect eventually, bringing about a healthy change–as it did the last time I followed this diet (for a duration of two years!! Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long this time round). The only bright spot so far is that the weight-loss lull has finally been shattered: as of this morning, I’ve lost 17 pounds (7.7 kilos) since I began the diet on March 9th (just about 8 weeks). My weight hasn’t been this low since 2003. Yowza!
[Butterscotch blondies with chocolate chips and dried cherries]
I did bake some goodies from Sweet Freedomfor the gang at the reunion, though (still can’t resist baking something for any gathering!). There were about 60 of us. And while I’m still in regular contact with my own (female) friends from that era, such as Sterlin (who flew in from England to room with me!), the Geminis, Phil, Babe, and so on, I haven’t seen any of the guys since grade eleven (the highest year of high school in Montreal). And when I did finally see them–Quel Surprise!
[Miniature orange-cranberry scones]
There were a few blank stares as I first spied some of the men, but once they introduced themselves, it was easy to spot the sixteen year-old in the forty-something faces and there were hugs all around. Within minutes, we all assumed our old, familiar camaraderie and went on to enjoy a raucous weekend with tours of the Falls, karaoke (I didn’t sing, but Sterlin and I did hop on stage as backup “dancers” for a pair who sang “Addicted to Love”), and a goodbye brunch complete with awards for everything from “Guy you’re most surprised is a parent” to “Person who brought the most photos of family” (that was Sterlin).
[Easiest Almond Cookies--grain free and gluten free]
Am I glad I went? Absolutely. I reconnected with a couple of people with whom I’d been very close in high school, and with whom I’m sure I’ll be in touch once again. And it was terrific to hear, “You haven’t changed a bit! I’d recognize you anywhere!” repeatedly, despite my own sense that I’d changed dramatically in the past 30 or so years. There’s already chatter on Facebook about the next reunion!
[Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies]
For the next little while, my posts may be a bit less regular or more infrequent than usual, as I feel I need to concentrate a bit more diligently on regaining my physical health and equilibrium. I will still be cooking, though, and will post recipes whenever I have them! And I’ll continue to read all your blogs and comment whenever I can.
As always, I am deeply grateful for all of you out there who read this blog and continue to provide support and comments. Because of all of you, these health issues have been made to seem manageable. Now it’s time to really kick that candida’s butt once and for all!
[Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Sweet Freedom]
Okay, let’s get to the dessert first (really, we should all eat a meal that way at least once): I received my cookbook’s (paper) proof in the mail today (the sample that I must approve before production can begin) and I’m thrilled! Now that the publisher has the approval, they can swing into action and the book should be ready by May 25th (the date by which they’ve promised it will be available). On that date, you’ll be able to purchase it directly from the publisher or (for those in the Toronto area) from me! The book will be available through amazon.com about a month after that. I’m also hoping to offer an e-book version at a lower price, so stay tuned! In the meantime, if you need a reminder of what types of goodies will be represented, take a peek at the cookbook blog.
As always, thanks for your patience–and thanks for indulging me by allowing me to blather on about this on DDD! I’ll be providing all the specifics about how to order, cost, etc. as soon as I know them.
And next, our “diet” update: This week marks the end of Phase I (six weeks!) of my anti-candida diet.
Having spent the last six weeks without the company of any fruit, baked goods, desserts, sweeteners of any kind (save stevia) or any other foods that could feed candida, I’m happy to say that I do feel I’ve made progress. In a nutshell, over the past six weeks:
The overweening lethargy and muscle heaviness I’d been experiencing has lifted; I now find it easier to walk around, easier to walk up the stairs, easier to complete my workouts at the club (hey, septuagenarian couple with the matching T-shirts! Howdy, punky chick with the spiky hair! Nice to see ya, burly guy with the black ankle socks!), and have even extended my time on the treadmill a bit.
Many of my sinus problems and much of my nasal congestion have evaporated. I’d estimate that my sinuses are about 70% better than when I began the cleanse.
I’ve lost about 12 pounds. I say “about” because I wasn’t certain of my exact weight the day I started the cleanse–but I do know it was an all-time high. I’m now at the lowest weight I’ve been since I started this blog in October, 2007 (yikes! Has it been that long?)
On the other hand:
Many of my original symptoms remain. I’m still experiencing other rather unpleasant side effects of excessive yeast, such as absentmindedness, “foggy thinking,” rashes and absentmindedness (oh, wait, did I say that one already?–ah, you see what I mean).
And so, what’s next?
Well, according to most ACD sites and experts, one should remain on the diet until all symptoms have abated, or at least six months, whichever is shorter. Six months?? Honestly, as much as I may be keen on quinoa, think tofu is tops, am enamoured of arame, or even cherish chia, I can’t see living without fruit or most whole grains for that long. On the other hand (seems I’ve got several hands, here), it’s become abundantly clear to me that I feel better physically, have more energy, and am able to lose weight when I follow a very “clean” and healthy diet such as this. As long as my system is overrun with that scourge, candida, I’ll be drawn back again and again to unhealthy eating.
And believe me, the irony of the situation isn’t lost on me: I’m about to publish a desserts cookbook, yet I suffer from an overabundance of candida–typically caused by too many desserts. And while the bulk of my diet is composed of incredibly healthy foods–ones I truly enjoy–that’s not to say that those wholesome, healthful foods are the only ones I eat. My weakness is chocolate, and more than once I’ve been hoist by my own Lindt 70%. (I’ve probably ingested enough of it over the past year, in fact, to supply all of Switzerland on Valentine’s Day). Add to that my own baked goods and treats–albeit healthy–and you’ve got too much of a good thing, as they say.
And so, I’ve decided to forge ahead with the next phase of the cleanse (which allows a wee bit more variety in the diet) and keep at it as long as I can. The basic approach on the blog will remain the same, and I’m going to attempt to include desserts in moderation (even if I won’t be eating them as much). I’m still determined to achieve that elusive ”normalcy” I wrote about way back when the major focus of the blog was the “Diet” in “Diet, Dessert and Dogs”–to be able to eat like a “normal” eater , consuming a wide variety of foods and courses (including dessert) in moderation–to kick this sweets addiction once and for all! (Or, at least, keep trying).
And when I do reach that goal, promoting a dessert cookbook–even baking all the samples that will go along with it–will be not only possible, but enjoyable.
Because really, never having dessert again would surely suck all the sweetness out of life.
“Um, Mum, while we understand that your book and your diet are important to you and everything, forget about blog updates–how about dog updates? We have some exciting developments going on, too, you know. What about my new white hairs on my muzzle–or how Chaser managed to catch that Frisbee over the fence yesterday? ”
For even more desserts, check out Desserts without Compromise, my new ebook with 19 original recipes (all sugar free, gluten free, egg free and dairy free)! To learn about the recipes or to purchase, click here. To see photos of all the desserts, see this post.
[Raw key lime tarts--NOT an ACD-inspired recipe (yippee!) See below.]
After the great response I got from my Anti-Candida Breakfasts post, I thought you all might be interested in some ACD desserts. Since this phase of the diet is very clear about NO SWEETENERS (except for stevia), NO FRUIT (except for limes, lemons and avocados), and NO FLOURS (except for bean flours, in teensy amounts), we ACD followers have to get pretty creative when it comes to satisfying the sweet tooth. And believe me, my sweet tooth has been mighty insistent of late.**
So today’s post is all about desserts–the non-sugar, non-sweetener, non-flour way! Doesn’t that just sound unbelievably appetizing? (I know, I have been deluding myself this way for over a month now). OOOOOH, YUM! Read on to share my painbe glad you’re not me find a few surprises you might actually like!
[Seriously, doesn't that look just like applesauce?]
For some reason, the ACD vetoes all squashes except zucchini, yellow squash (basically jaundiced zucchini) and spaghetti squash. While browsing through one of the forums about the diet, I came across this idea for mock applesauce–essentially, you bake a spaghetti squash, scoop out the (remakrably spaghetti-like) flesh, then purée it with cinnamon and stevia. I added a touch of ginger and cardamom as well. It was surprisingly good, and, I’m sure, would be fabulous if made with an actual sweetener like agave or pure maple syrup. I’ve been enjoying this after dinner on occasion when I need something I can pretend is fruit.
[Well, the texture is perfect, at least. . . . ]
I placed the title of this dessert in quotation marks, because there is no way anyone would mistake this for actual chocolate pudding. Oh, the texture was fabulous, but when you sweeten cocoa with stevia, the result is, shall we say, rather pucker-inducing. Well, except to me, when I’m desperate for chocolate and don’t care if it’s bitter or has a stevia “aftertaste,” that is. The HH wouldn’t even finish the first spoonful (though he did concede that the texture was great). I’m going to work on a non-candida version of this because I know it will be irresistible when made with some other type of sweetener!
One of my favorite junky sweet treats when I was in my teens and 20s was Nielsen “Macaroons.” They were essentially milk chocolate (or should I say, “milk chocolate flavored“) rosettes–sort of like Hershey kisses with toasted coconut in them–and I adored them. I’d stop at the Bulk Barn on my way home from class and purchase a small bag, then munch away during the bus ride home. In my 20s, of course, I was able to do so without any ill effects or physical consequences (well, except for the time that guy in the seat beside me put his hand on my knee–not connected to macaroons, I reckon). My, how times have changed since then! Not only can I no longer eat that way, but these days, I’d be whacking that guy’s hand with my umbrella and disturbing fellow passengers by shrieking at the top of my lungs.
Although I haven’t eaten the Nielsen variety in about a decade, these little confections reminded me of them–only much, much healthier. To me, these sweets taste like actual milk chocolate (not chocolate “candy”), mixed with coconut.
Now, I know there are about 17,428 versions of a “nut butter, carob and coconut” treat on the Internet, but this one is my own (original!) creation, and dear to my heart. And besides, I’d love to know whether any of you out there agree about the taste (or is it simply my ACD-addled tasted buds playing tricks on me?).
I’ve deliberately made a small batch here, so that (if the highly unlikely situation should ever arise, you understand) it’s not a tragedy if you happen to eat the entire batch. However, if you’re sharing with more than one person, or serving several, you may wish to double the recipe.
In a food processor (I use my Mini-Prep; any small processor is recommended for this recipe), blend the almond butter, tahini, carob powder, salt and chia until you have a smooth paste. Add the stevia and vanilla, if using, and whir again to blend. Add the coconut and hemp seeds and pulse until evenly distributed. Scoop the mixture by teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. Refrigerate (or freeze) 20 minutes or more to allow the mixture to firm up a bit. (If you can’t wait to dig in, they’re still delicious right away, but they will be fairly soft). Makes 4-5 balls.
ACD variation: use stevia instead of other sweetener and be sure the vanilla is alcohol-free.
[This is carob, but for a chocolate variation of the pudding, use chocolate almond, soy, hemp or other milk]
As I mentioned in a previous post, this is one of my favorite treats, even when I’m not following the ACD. This version boasts carob, cinnamon, and a touch of stevia. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a teaspoon or two of ground flax seeds to the mix as well. (You wacky dessert-lover, you!)
I was amazed to discover that this recipe, which I’ve been eyeing for almost a year now, is actually more or less acceptable for the ACD! A few minor adjustments, and the HH and I were both able to enjoy these lovely tarts (pictured above is the date-sweetened crust). You could also make the filling on its own and spoon it up as a pudding. As a bonus, this is a raw dessert. You don’t want to overindulge, however, as it does contain quite a hit of fat in each serving.
3/4 cup (80-90 g) dry, raw macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or a combination
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, optional
1/2 cup (120 ml) pitted dry medjool dates, chopped (see note)
3/4 cup (180 ml) chopped just-ripe avocado flesh (1-2 avocados)
3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
2 tsp (10 ml) finely ground chia seeds, optional (but the filling is more runny without it)
lime zest or kiwi slices for garnish
Lightly grease 5 individual tart pans, or line with parchment rounds (I use 3″ or 7.5 cm pans with removable bottoms). If your pans don’t have removable bottoms, it’s worth it to line them with parchment paper rounds, as the crust will stick otherwise. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the coconut, nuts, and sea salt until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the dates and process until it comes together in a “dough” (it’s ready when the mixture sticks together if pinched between your fingers and thumb). Press the “dough” evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans.
If you’ve scraped the processor bowl fairly clean, there’s no need to wash it for this step. In the same processor, blend the avocado, lime juice, agave and chia and blend until very smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly into the crusts and smooth the top.
Freeze the tarts until firm, at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving, garnish with zest or fresh fruit, and enjoy. Makes 5 tarts.
ACD Variation: Instead of the dates, use 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) smooth almond, cashew or macadamia butter to help the dough adhere. Or omit the crust and just eat the filling! For the filling, use stevia to taste in place of the agave.
**Every source you read about the ACD says that, as long as you stick to the plan, your sugar cravings will disappear in 3-4 days. Excuse me while I guffaw. I’m well in to Week Five, and sugar is calling to me just as loudly and insistently as ever.
PS. To read about a non-ACD dessert recipe by yours truly, flip open the May/June issue of Clean EatingMagazine for my second Happy Endings recipe!
UPDATE: SOME OTHER ACD-FRIENDLY DESSERTS on Diet, Dessert and Dogs, below. This is just a partial list. For a full list, see the Desserts Category in the Recipe Index (note that Wellness Weekend posts may contain non-ACD recipes):
Desserts without Compromise, my ebook with 19 ACD friendly dessert recipes, from grain-free fudgy brownies to cookies to mousse to vanilla custard–all sugar free, egg free, dairy free and gluten free (desserts for all phases of the diet)
Cupcakes, frosting, puddings and other non-sweet dishes in my Anti Candida Feast Ebook(for those just beginning, and 2nd phase of the diet)
As we often do, the HH and I made the trek to Montreal over the long weekend to spend the holidays with my family. While I long ago became accustomed to toting along some sort of sustenance for these trips (my diet, even when I’m not on a candida cleanse, is considered fairly “out there” by the rest of my kinsfolk), this last visit presented a particular challenge, as I couldn’t even partake in those few foods I normally eat when staying with the CFO.
As a result, our cooler was packed a little more than usual as we departed for La Belle Ville. At our pit stop near Kingston, the HH bought himself a regular coffee and chicken club at Tim Horton’s, while I munched on grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and my new favorite hummus–a Curried Pumpkin variety.
The hummus came about the week before we left, as I was standing in the kitchen ruminating (figuratively, of course) about how much I miss my beloved pumpkin oats (à la Shelby) since I began this infernal ACD. While I ruminated (literally) on some hummus, it occurred to me: why not combine the pumpkin with my hummus instead? Eureka! I threw together some standard hummus, tinkered with the spices and fats, and ended up feeling rather smug for having created a unique, ingenious and flavorsome dish. Immediately, I determined to blog about it.
Well, a few days later, I encountered Vegan Yum Yum’s post about Apple Pie Coffee Cake. The post opened with the following line: ”I have a knack for inventing things that have already been invented.” Ooops.
Rather quickly, I was accosted by insistent, niggling doubts (sort of like Chaser when she wants to go for a walk) about my hummus. Could it be that my original invention already existed? Eventually, I succumbed and, after a quick Google search, discovered that pumpkin hummus abounds on the Internet. In fact, it’s almost as ubiquitous as those little popups (you know the ones–those rows of laughing emoticons) that invade your screens when you’re looking for something else. Curses!
I did take some comfort, however, in the knowledge that all of us, at some time or another, have probably considered an idea or concept of ours to be entirely unprecedented, only to discover fairly quickly that scores of others had already considered the very same thing.
* * *
The scene: Ricki, aged 17, returns home from CEGEP. The Nurse hunches over the kitchen table, enjoying a Fresca and reading Family Circle.
RICKI [flushed with pride at her own discovery]: Hey, did you ever consider how every person sees everything through their own mind? I mean, maybe each of us is actually living in our own little world, which is, like, just our own consciousness, and maybe everything else is just an illusion? Like, what if you’re not really here, but you’re only here because I think you’re here–what if everythng in the world is just an offshoot of my own imagination, creating my reality? What if there’s really nothing else except me? Whoah. Weird, huh?
THE NURSE: I hate to tell you this, but that’s a common theory. It’s called solipsism. Just read some philosophy, genius. Geez. [She yawns. Ricki sinks under the table].
Or how about the same scene, six years later:
Ricki and the CFO are hunched at the kitchen table, drinking Diet Pepsi and reading People magazine.
THE CFO: Hey, Ric, did you ever consider how every person sees everything through their own mind? I mean, maybe each of us is actually living in our own little world. . . . . What if there’s really nothing else except me? Whoah. Weird, huh?
RICKI: I hate to tell you this, but that’s actually a common concept. They even made a movie about it–The Matrix. Just rent the film (which is much more fun than reading philosophy; besides, Keanu Reeves is much cuter than Descartes).
* * *
Well, no matter. Original or not, this hummus is delightful. With its subtle, sunny glow from both pumpkin and turmeric, to the slightly sweet spice from a mild curry and creamy chickpea base, the flavors meld beautifully to create an enticing appetizer or sandwich filling.
When I served this at dinner last week, the HH proclaimed, “This is the best hummus I’ve ever had,” and made me promise to prepare it again.
Now, I’d be inclined to agree with him, except of course I can never be 100% certain that his experience of hummus is identical to my experience of hummus. . . I mean, what if he’s referring to something entirely different from me when he says “best”? And what if I am actually living in my own little world, separate and distinct from his, and the HH is just a figment of my imagination? (Well, okay, I guess that wouldn’t be so bad–it would just mean more hummus for me!). Either way, I’ll be making this again.
Curried Pumpkin Hummus
Unlike most hummus recipes, this one includes no added oils–the almond butter and tahini provide enough fat to render this smooth, creamy, and very satisfying. (And quite original, don’t you think?) It’s great as a filling in raw collard wraps–as seen above–too.
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed cooked pumpkin purée, fresh or canned
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural almond butter
3 Tbsp (45 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) mild curry powder
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, or to taste
1/4-1/3 cup (60-80 ml) fresh chopped cilantro, to taste
Cover the chickpeas with water and allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and cover with fresh water in a large pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until very soft, about 40 minutes. (Alternately, use canned, well-rinsed chickpeas).
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the drained chickpeas and remaining ingredients and process until smooth (add up to 1/3 cup or 80 ml water to achieve desired thickness). Scrape into serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with pita chips or raw veggies, or use as a filling in sandwiches or wraps. Makes about 3 cups.
[Totally tangential rant: When I woke up this morning, I was sure my eyes were playing tricks on me--it is snowing outside! Snowing. BIG snow. As in, "little white flakes that fly across your field of vision." As in, "icy and slushy and boots weather." As in, "everything is coated with rime and appears opaque and goes crunch when you walk on it." As in, "turn the heat back on and pull those sweaters out of storage again." As in, IF I SEE ONE MORE DAY OF WINTER I AM GOING TO LEAP UP AND DOWN AND FLAIL MY ARMS LIKE A CRAZED FLAMINGO AND SCREAM BLOODY MURDER AND WEEP LIKE A CONTESTANT ON THE BIGGEST LOSER AND THEN DISSOLVE IN A PUDDLE LIKE THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST. Okay, maybe not really. But I will not be very happy, let me tell you.]
I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, but I’m here to reiterate: diets don’t work. In fact, I’m living proof of that axiom.
I embarked on my first bona fide “diet” at age thirteen (thirteen! there oughta be a law) because, at the cusp of adolescence, I entered a new school and was, for the first time, startled to discover that there were boys–and they had somehow become appealing overnight!–out there. And that my friends whose mammaries had developed the previous summer seemed to attract the boys more than I did. And that maybe, if I lost twenty pounds, I might be the object of male hormonal affections, too.
And so, the beginning of a lifetime of serial dieting was born.
That initial diet was called the Stillman Quick Weight Loss Diet (a precursor to the later Atkins fiasco) and it allowed NO fruits or vegetables, NO grains and, basically, nothing but protein. For three months or so, I dutifully ate hardboiled egg for breakfast, tuna fish (no mayo) for lunch, and some kind of cooked meat (likely chicken) for dinner. And yes, the pounds did drop. Unfortunately, so did my IQ, my heart rate, and several of my friendships.
Before long, it wasn’t just boys who paid attention to me, but my parents and teachers, too, as my skin became pallid and wan; my clothes bagged in decidedly unattractive ripples across my chest, waist and hips; my hair lost its luster, hanging scraggly and thin; and my basic demeanor shifted from formerly sweet, pleasant, and interested in academics to introverted and skittish, eyes flitting from one point to another without ever focusing, like a kleptomaniac hiding a pair of shoes in her purse as she crosses the electronic detectors at the Bloomingdale’s exit. Needless to say, my parents convinced me to abandon the Stillman diet.
Subsequently, in my 30s during a “heavy” cycle, my world changed for a time when I met Dean. He didn’t mind that I was chubby; in fact, he welcomed it.
Dean, you see, was Dean Ornish, author of the diet plan called Eat More, Weigh Less. I loved the book immediately and bought it based on the title alone (you know that myth about how every twenty-something guy dreams of being locked in a room with two sexy, randy lesbians? Well, every dieter dreams of being able to pig out uncontrollably without limits, yet still lose weight).** I didn’t care about the actual diet, no sir; all I cared about was that title–I could eat more, and weigh less! Yessss!
Little did I know that Ornish was a medical doctor–a cardiologist, no less–and his book was based on years of extensive study. In fact, Ornish was the first (and only, if my sources are correct) medical professional to prove in scientific, double blind studies that you can actually reverse heart disease with diet alone. That’s right; reverse, not just diminish; and diet alone–no pills, no medications! His original idea has now blossomed into a full-fledged industry, including an institute that practises what he preached. It’s called the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and people go there to recover from (and reverse) their heart disease. How cool is that?
The first edition of the diet, however, was incredibly stringent, allowing no more than 10% of calories from fat (from all food sources combined). Clearly, well-marbled steaks, chicken with skin, or whipping cream are not on the menu. It was a radical notion back then: a vegan diet, and one with a very low fat content (Happy Herbivore, rejoice!). Best of all, the book included recipes.
Following the Ornish plan, I never felt better. I see now that the menus were fairly grain-heavy, but at the time, I was happy to cook up the recipes, pile my plate as high as I could, and methodically shove one forkful after another into my mouth, chewing away. At times it took me the better part of half an hour to polish off a plate, but I never worried that I was eating too much–I was eating MORE so I could weigh LESS!
Ornish’s Seven Grain Dirty Rice and Beans was my first encounter with this spicy Cajun favorite and also my first foray into the world of cooking dried beans from scratch. The dish is a variation on the classic combination, with corn for chewiness, and a spirited spice mix. The result is a satisfying, multi-textured meal. The beans and rice pair up to offer a complete protein. As a single woman living on my own, it was also a godsend to be able to create meals from basic, inexpensive ingredients that would last a few days (theoretically, I’m sure, the recipes were intended for 6 or more servings, which would have lasted much longer than a few days, but I really was piling my plates pretty high).
I achieved the desired weight loss on the Ornish plan and even managed to maintain it for several years, until I moved to Toronto and began teaching at the college where I still work today. And then, I met my starter husband, we got married, and I ballooned once again, the cycle repeating itself. Did my weight gain play a role in our split? No. But our split played a role in my weight. . . after I dumped the guy, the weight began to recede as well, which led to my current relationship with the HH, after which I gained back all the weight and more. . . which is why I now need this ACD to clear out the toxins and, ideally, lose more weight. . . .
Do we detect a pattern here? Diets don’t work!
Nevertheless, I still love this dish. And I’ll always have a soft spot (well, right now, several soft spots, most of which are located between waist and hip areas) for Dr. Dean.
**Oh, dear me. I can just imagine the blog searches that will lead people here now. Especially since this dish has the word “dirty” in its title. Groan.
I have no idea why this is called “SEVEN” Grain Dirty Rice (unless I’m missing something, aren’t the rice and corn the only grains in this?). Whatever the reason, it’s a slightly spicy, very flavorful and hearty dish, one that’s easy to prepare–and it won’t break the bank.
2 cups (480 ml) dry brown rice (I used basmati)
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (240 ml) finely diced carrots
1/2 cup (120 ml) finely diced celery
1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground cumin
1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground coriander
2 tsp (10 ml) chili powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
3-3/4 cups (900 ml) vegetable stock or broth
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) chopped tomatoes (I used a large can of diced tomatoes)
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked red beans (I used kidney; any firm bean will do)
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen corn kernels
3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml.) fresh chopped parsley
3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) fresh chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray a large casserole dish (one with a cover) and set aside.
In a fairly large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the rice, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and chili powder over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
Add the salt, stock, bay leaf and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the beans, corn, parsley and cilantro. Turn the mixture into the casserole dish, cover and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. If necessary, add a bit more stock and continue cooking until the rice is sufficiently soft. Garnish with more chopped herbs, if desired. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen.
NOTE: The original recipe suggests cooking the entire dish in your pot on the stovetop. I found, however, that the rice never really absorbed the liquid that way, and it remained hard even after an hour of simmering. If the stovetop method works for you, however, go ahead and use it–you’ll save yourself some dishes to wash that way.
[It was great to read so many positive messages from all you okra fans in response to my last post. Who knew there were so many okra supporters out there? Here's to a new image for our pal okra! To the dawning of the age of okra--a new era is born, and it's brimming with green pods and seeds! Okra is cool! Okra is au courant! Okra rules! O-Kra! O-Kra! O-Kra! Whoo!]
Now that I’ve completed my first week of strict adherence to the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), I thought I’d put down some thoughts and reactions for those of you who are contemplating embarking on it, or for those who are simply curious. (If you’re here seeking a new recipe, please come back tomorrow–we’ll have cookies!)
First, I am thrilled to say I have not veered even one iota from the procrustean parameters of the diet. Having said that, I’m also amazed at how difficult I am finding it this time round.
Maybe I’d just forgotten how painful the process was last time, nine years ago, but I don’t recall struggling with it this much back then. Somehow, a decade made all the difference! True, I am also nine years older, and nine years closer to the dreaded “M” stage of life. ** Or maybe those little candida critters have been pumping iron in the interim and are now more resilient than ever.
[You are allowed burgers (sans bread)--but who would want one? Image courtesy of Beltway Confidential.]
As I mentioned in my previous post, this diet requires elimination of any food that could feed yeast or help yeast to grow (ie, allergens, toxins, etc.), leaving precious little to eat. For omnivores, the bulk of the diet would become meat, chicken, fish, eggs. But if you don’t eat those foods, not much else remains once you cut out all grains and fruits, plus some veggies (okay, not all grains; I’m allowed 1/4 cup of one gluten-free grain per day)–not to mention sauces, condiments, alcohol, fermented foods, and so on.
Here’s what you should know if you’re curious about trying the ACD.
Because I’d done this before, I was already aware of a few of these challenges, which made it a bit easier to follow the diet. Still, it can be very difficult to stick with it unless you’re prepared for some of the following.
No Dessert for You. Since most people on this diet are addicted to sweets, cutting out the usual baked goods, puddings, candies, cakes, pies, etc. is really tough. Initially, my body went carb-crazy and I had to eat something every two hours or so to keep my blood sugar levels steady. This passed by day three (thankfully–it can really mess up your schedule!). I’ve also managed to create a few ACD-friendly “desserts”–which I’ll post anon.
Precious Few Grains. The first phase of the diet eliminates most carbs, and allows very few of the “acceptable” ones. To my mind, it seems very similar to a low-carb or low-GI diet. Which would make sense, I suppose, since its purpose is to starve off candida albicans–an organism that feeds on sugar (including blood sugar).
Hunger. Perhaps I should more accurately designate the feeling as “unresolved cravings.” I mean, I can count on one hand the times I’ve experienced true hunger. On this topic, I think Mark Bittman has something useful to say. A couple of weeks ago, I heard an interview with the man, discussing his newest tome,Food Matters. Among other things, Bittman mentioned how his “vegan until six” diet plan helped him lose 35 pounds and regain his health.
In the radio interview, he was asked how he managed to alter his diet so radically and still stick with the plan. His response was enlightening (and I paraphrase liberally here): “Well, consider the three major needs in our lives, for food, sleep, and sex. We all learn to control our sexual urges fairly early on; and certainly most of us in the working world regularly ignore our need for sleep. Yet we never, ever, in our society, are willing to allow ourselves to feel hungry. Like needs for sex and sleep, why can’t we just ignore it when we feel hungry sometimes?”
For me, Bittman’s comment was a little epiphany. Clearly, my appetite is telling me to eat when I don’t actually require more food; the ACD supplies all the nutritional requirements necessary. What I’m fighting is the desire for those last six Hershey kisses just because they’re left at the bottom of the bag (and really, why would you leave six little kisses sitting there?) or the mindless crunching on handfuls of Red Hot Blues because I just got home from work and dinner won’t be ready for a couple of hours and what else am I going to do while I peek intermittently at Oprah?–well, you get the idea. Remembering Bittman’s advice this past week allowed me to overcome those cravings, at least most of the time.
Die-Off Reaction. As the yeasty beasties die off, they release toxins into the system that must then be filtered and cleared out by your own detoxification systems of liver and kidneys. This can be tough on your body. The second day of the diet, I was convinced I was coming down with a flu: my forehead pulsated, my muscles felt weak, all I wanted to do was sleep. By day three, it had disappeared. Even though you may feel worse initially, it’s important to push through.
It’s been a mere seven days, but already I can recognzie a few of the benefits of this cleanse:
Symptoms abate. Almost immediately, I noticed that my chronically blocked sinuses began to clear. I had a strange sensation of, “hey! What’s all that air in my nose?” before I realized, “oh, THIS is what it feels like to breathe out of both nostrils.” Similarly, the muscle weakness disappeared, some tummy grumblings cleared significantly, eyes were less swollen in the AM, and so on.
Clarity of Thought. One of the oft-mentioned symptoms of candida overload is fuzzy thinking or inability to concentrate. This will begin to clear once the yeast begin to die off, after about 3 days or so.
Energy. Yeast and other toxins sap your energy. Once they begin to take a hike, your energy returns–and you’re suddenly intensely grateful for the extra hours you have during each day to blog, read, meditate, spend time with loved ones, or do anything else you please.
[I concur, Mum--it's great to have boundless energy! You should try rolling on the grass some time!]
I won’t be chronicling the events of every week in this much detail, but will likely mention the more significant milestonres every now and again as I move through the process over the next five weeks. If anyone has any specific questions about the diet or the experience, please let me know and I’d be happy to address them in an upcoming post as well.
“Um, Mum, you know that no one could be more serious about food and eating than we are. . . but really, I think you need to take a chill pill on this one. Because this post is really a downer.”
I don’t mean this post as a downer. The ACD will tax your willpower and force you to confront your worst eating habits. . . but that can be a really good thing. For me, it’s a necessity. Well, every nine years or so, anyway.
** no, not “Marriage,” though that might throw me just as much. I meant “Menopause.”
Sometimes, despite all good intentions, things do go awry.
On Friday, I had a little luncheon date with two former classmates from nutrition school. I always look forward to these meetings, since these women (besides sharing the NAG diet philosophy) are invariably funny, witty, and generally loads of fun to be with. The meeting had been planned for several weeks–before I started the ACD–and I didn’t want to cancel because of a silly little diet. Besides, I was fairly certain I had all the bases covered, as the restaurant we chose served vegetarian-only Chinese food, with lots of vegan options as well.
Well, I’m sorry to say, looks like my adherence to this regimen wasn’t as assured as I’d expected. Rather than ruffle any feathers, I decided to go along with sharing three different dishes from the menu. While the selections were all quite delicious, they were also, unfortunately, bathed in glossy, sweetened, cornstarch-thickened sauces–definitely a no-no on the ACD. But seriously, how could I disappoint the gals and order plain ole steamed veggies (and not even steamed rice–no white stuff on this regime!) when the intention was to share dishes while we dished the dirt?
Okay, I admit it: of course they wouldn’t have been disappointed (they could still eat whatever they wanted to); I’m the one who would have been disappointed to pass up the culinary camaraderie. In the end, I caved. I ate some (rather amazing, actually) lemon-pepper “chicken” with veggies, Singapore noodles (at least they were rice noodles) and roasted veggies in a Portugese curry sauce. Everything was exemplary, and I managed not to overindulge, but I did feel guilty for the remainder of the day. I returned to my senses immediately upon returning home, and started all over again. Now, after more than a week on the diet, I’m back to counting yesterday as “Day One.” Bummer!
The incident got me thinking about how much I love to eat. Giving up the singular sensory pleasure of a beloved food’s taste and texture as it inches across your tongue is one feat I find nearly impossible to achieve (and for some reason, it gets even harder to accomplish as I get older). Compounding the problem, it seems I’ve actually expanded my culinary repertoire and the range of foods I’m willing to consume since I started focusng on a vegan diet. It may be true that an omnivorous diet contains more potential choices, but since I found so many of those repugnant even when I did eat meat (Ham? Gross. Chicken wings? Barf. Snails? Vomitorious. SWEETBREADS?? Somebody please get me a paper bag), I would never have tried them, anyway. And when I ate an animal-focused diet, I tended just to eat the same foods over and over.
Then, when my health issues reared their ugly heads, I was forced to find alternatives. I sought out alternative grains, novel sources of protein, seaweeds, fermented foods, soy products, and a plethora of unusual fruits and vegetables, intensely flavored herbs and seasonings. These days, in fact, I am much more willing to try something entirely unfamiliar when I know it’s vegan and am more creative in the kitchen than I ever was before I began to eat this way.
Which brings me to the foods I do eat–or, at least, some of them.
You may have noticed the ”Hundred” food memes circulating round the blogosphere (The Omnivore’s Hundred, which started the trend; The Vegetarian’s Hundred and The Vegan’s Hundred, which was created by Hannah and has prompted quite the tidal wave of responses among bloggers). I must say, I was (pleasantly) taken aback to see how many items on this list I have already sampled. (My exact response was something like, “Wow. I sure do eat a lot.”)
Maybe that’s the problem with the ACD this time round: I’m painfully aware that there’s a plenitude of foods I love to eat out there, all of which I think of as “healthy.” Consequently, it becomes more and more difficult to steer clear of them (though not, on the other hand, to steer clear of actual steer).
I’m hoping some new inspiration and creativity will magically descend so I can make it through the next few weeks without falling off the ACD wagon again. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy some virtual treats through this list. Do feel free to play along. Thanks for the idea, Hannah–so much fun!
Here’s the basic premise:
1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!
1. Natto (though it is, ironically, “first” on my list of must-try’s)
2. Green Smoothie (shouldn’t everyone try one of these for breakfast at some point?)
3. Tofu Scramble (so many great varieties out there!)
4. Haggis (I ate the veg version–never have tried the “real” stuff!)
5. Mangosteen (unfortunately, wasn’t that impressive)
6. Creme brulee (a favorite of the HH) 7. Fondue (though I’d never consider double dipping, of course)
9. Borscht 10. Baba ghanoush 11. Nachos (dying to try them with this cheese sauce)
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich 14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart (I think this one will require a trip out of country)
16. Boba Tea 17. Black truffle 18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I had cloudberry–truly an ambrosial liquid)
19. Gyoza 20. Vanilla ice cream (What? No chocolate on this list??)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (from my first-ever effort to grow them–and the BEST TOMATO I HAVE EVER EATEN)
22. Fresh wild berries 23. Ceviche (again, veg version–the other kind c’est grosse, non?)
24. Rice and beans 25. Knish 26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper (will definitely wake you up in the morning)
27. Dulce de leche [swoon]
28. Caviar (I’ve had actual caviar in the past, but never a vegan version)
29. Baklava 30. Pate (mushroom-walnut is a favorite, but pretty much any veg kind is great)
31. Wasabi peas 32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl 33. Mango lassi 34. Sauerkraut (even made my own)
35. Root beer float 36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam (No buttery spread these days, but still a favorite breakfast)
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo 40. Fast food french fries (Ah, memories. . . .)
41. Raw Brownies 42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans (these sound amazing)
43. Dahl 44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (that crazy HH!)
47. Samosas 48. Vegetable Sushi (a favorite weekly lunch)
49. Glazed doughnut 50. Seaweed 51. Prickly pear (just last week! Thanks, Lucy)
52. Umeboshi 53. Tofurkey 54. Sheese 55. Cotton candy 56. Gnocchi (and have tried several times to make my own. . . )
57. Piña colada 58. Birch beer
60. Carob chips (not just a substitute for chocolate–quite lovely on their own merit!)
61. S’mores 62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets 64. Curry 65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages 67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake 68. Smoked tofu 69. Fried plantain 70. Mochi 71. Gazpacho 72. Warm chocolate chip cookies (really, is there anything better?)
74. Corn on the cob 75. Whipped cream, straight from the can (only got one mouthful . . . )
76. Pomegranate 77. Fauxstess Cupcake (still waiting to try that recipe!)
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy 79. Jerky (loved the vegan version–never tried the other)
80. Croissants 81. French onion soup 82. Savory crepes (love these for brunch time. . . )
84. A meal at Candle 79 (I’ll start saving up now and maybe get to go in 2015)
85. Moussaka 86. Sprouted grains or seeds 87. Macaroni and “cheese” (Susan’s is still my favorite recipe)
88. Flowers (though can’t say I enjoyed them)
89. Matzoh ball soup 90. White chocolate 91. Seitan (how I miss you, how I miss you, my dear old Seitan)
92. Kimchi 93. Butterscotch chips 94. Yellow watermelon (but really, what’s the point?)
95. Chili with chocolate (my favorite way to have it)
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk 98. Polenta 99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough (better than baked, in my opinion!)
Glancing at the list, I see that there really are advantages to living in Toronto, where all these foods are quite common. Now, I must seek out all the others, too–well, as soon as this cleanse is over.