31 January, 2016

Allergy Free Living....

Last January I became aware of how horribly high the inflammation levels in my body had become when I was coming down off of the prescription percocet I had been on from July 2014 through the month of December.  Yeah, you read that right.  I never knew what Rx percocet withdrawal felt like until I was in the middle of it during the last week of December 2014 going through the first week of the month of January 2015.  HELL.ON.FIRE.

Every single cell in my body was screaming!  This all started on a Tuesday evening.  I was incapacitated.  The Meant to Be's emergency c-section birth is what brought it all about.  A larger than normal opening for an unknown danger that might be lurking inside of my womb...  In the hospital I was on a Dilaudid pump, which in truth...helped VERY little to...not at all.  I asked for heat compresses and that actually seemed to do more than the meds.  Little did I know...my body was already hooked, which was why it wasn't working.  When I went home they tried hydrocodone with little success and, with trepidation on my part (percocet used to loop me six ways to Sunday before I had children...) I consented to trying percocet for pain.  It was a success.  I could function on it and it didn't stop working over time.  That was July...  By September I had been recovering for 12 weeks.  I was sitting in my general practitioners office crying about my back, neck, and head pain.  But, I didn't know THEN what was causing it.  I attributed my pain to my Arnold Chiari Malformation I with Syringomyelia....thinking that having 2 babies back to back just pushed me over the edge from "I can handle this..." to..."My, God, I am dying, aren't I?".  He tried me on tramadol...almost anything he could to avoid percocet.  We discussed the use of Neurontin (originally formulated for BIPOLAR DISORDER...yeah, you read that properly...but also used for epileptics, and now...these days, for chronic, moderate nerve pain) in conjunction with percocet for my pain and moved forward.

I ended up switching providers within the same clinic because they finally agreed with me...with my medical problem list, I needed an internist.  So I got one.  Working with him was one of the best things that happened to me.  A wonderful doctor who is obviously compassionate, but also a man of God.  He prayed with me in my last appointment...for me, my husband, and my children.  For us all to get through this time in my life while I work out the kinks in my health to become strong again.  One of the things that happened at that appointment was he told me that he couldn't give me perocet until the 5th.  The withdrawal that ensued was almost unbearable.  I couldn't function.  Until then, I didn't realize EXACTLY how long I had been on percocet.  That was a Wednesday.  By Saturday I was feeling like drastic measures had to be taken beyond allowing my body to withdrawal from the medicine.  I needed to get my levels of inflammation in check.  NOW!...not later.

I have always known I have had a sensitivity to gluten.  Most of the women in my family do.  I have always known I was lactose intolerant as well.  I tried to mind screw myself into believing that I could eat organic forms of this and that and be fine.  Truth be told...even soy is causing inflammation in my body.  So in ONE day...in ONE minute I decided to go gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free (this was easy...I already do that).  Eventually I will try going egg free as well, but while I work through this and get a balanced protein cycle going on, I just have to keep eggs in the mix for now.  They don't seem to be bothering me but I have already noticed...even grass fed beef or bison...I can't do that more than once a week.  My body goes into full revolt and it lands in my tummy like a BRICK.

The results??....well...

On Friday, before this decision, I was at physical therapy and I cried twice during my session about being on withdrawal and wanting to NEVER be on pain meds for life (Arnold Chiari Malformation I, Syringomyelia, Degenerative Disc Disease, arthritic sacrum, and Fibromyalgia) because I can't go through this withdrawal again, etc., etc.  I was a full blown emotional mess.  Fast forward to my physical therapy session the following Monday.  My therapist noticed a difference in me when I walked in the pool door.  I told her what I did on Saturday and that I was also in the process of coming off of the Neurontin (When you don't actually NEED neurontin, it can cause all sorts of wild side effects.  I was having constant numbness and tingling in my left thumb and periodically in my WHOLE left arm.) as of Saturday and I was already getting feeling back in my thumb!  I couldn't believe that part!  I had been complaining to my internist about it for two months.  I halved ONE dose ONE time for ONE day and the feeling came back!  Remarkable.  When that happened, coupled with the results I was already noticing with my gut not pooching out as much from laying off the gluten (intestinal inflammation causes abdominal distention)...I was on my way to getting my body back.  And in good condition!  Fast forward a year....it is now February 2016 tomorrow.

So...how does this relate to this flog site?  Well...if you're willing, you're about to embark on a NEW journey with me.  A journey to see if I can still make FABULOUS food that looks great, smells divine, and is healthy....all while fitting into the mold of excluding most of the known food allergens from the menu.  No gluten, no dairy, no wheat, no refined sugar...and eventually...no eggs.

Wanna come along for the ride?  

Oh good!  I hoped you'd say yes!

One of my primary concerns is my family.  I can be pretty crunchy when I want to be as far as food and sticking to a diet that *I* need to be on, but what about the rest of them...?  Do they suffer from the same allergies?  I tested this out in a variety of ways.  One of the things I was doing was trying to heal my "leaky gut" while eating differently.  Using "IntestiNEW" in the morning and drinking 1 ounce of liquid Aloe Vera in the morning and 1 ounce at night.  I was feeling pretty awesome in just 48 hours.  In fact...my menses that had been non-existent and totally out of whack since the Meant to Be was born was BACK...and NORMAL.  In just 48 hours!  So...all three of our little ones have been ill for quite a spat here.  What if I started giving THEM aloe?  So I did.  The Sweet Pea showed improvement in 48 hours, the Sprout's nose stopped running, and the Meant to Be was markedly improved in just HOURS...according to my Mister.  HE was the one that noticed.  I also rubbed his tootsies down with Ravintsara essential oil, ran it gently down his torso and across the top of his forehead.  In 5 minutes he was breathing much better than he had been.  

Have I ever mentioned that I used therapeutic grade essential oils?  Well, I do.  I have for about 16 years now.


The Sprout had been begging me since we came home from Minnesota to make him more "ginger people".  After "Saturday" happened I wasn't sure what to do...or IF I could do that given the new rules I'd set in place for myself and the health of my family.  I had to dig into my old archives in my brain and unearth the idea of vegan butter...but soy free this time, and delve into the concept of gluten free, wheat free flours...xanthan gum...starches...  *crossed my eyes*  Oy...  But!...my health and my family are worth it...so I'm workin' it.  I will keep you posted on this progress as I find that it can still be called "progress".   I have lost 4 pounds in 5 days.  Remarkable how much weight your body sheds when it is letting go of inflammation and water weight that it was holding onto in order to protect your organs.  Fascinating!

All of that ^^^^^ is how this recipe was born for gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free....Chewy Gingerbread Cookie Cutouts...  I hope you love them...He surely did, and so did everyone else! (Yes, I made these in January lol...so what if Christmas has passed.  My son still acts like next Christmas is just two weeks away, as long as there is a SPECK of snow to be seen on the ground.)

Allergy Free Chewy Gingerbread Cookie Cutouts
3 c. Domata Gluten Free Flour (has the xanthan gum IN it!)
3/4 c. organic dark brown cane sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sticks soy free vegan butter (Earth's Balance) or lard
3/4 c. unsulphered molasses
2 T. almond milk
*extra organic cane sugar if pressing instead of cutting out

Mix the flour, salt, soda, and spices in a medium sized bowl with a whisk and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar.  When it is fluffy, add in the molasses and milk and fully incorporate both into the mixture.  Add in the dry ingredients 1/2 c. at a time until all is incorporated.

Allow the dough to chill for 30 minutes in the freezer OR 3 hours in the fridge.  Both work well.

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide your dough in half.  Roll each half out on floured parchment paper.  It doesn't stick very much, but the parchment paper is just extra "insurance" on that score.

Use cut out shapes of your own choosing or....skip rolling out altogether and use a Pampered Chef medium scoop to measure out dough balls.  Mash the bottom of a flat glass into some dough, then dip it in organic cane sugar, then gently press the sugar side down onto the balls of dough.

Bake for 8-11 minutes and allow to rest on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

You can put royal icing on these if you wish....but our Sprout likes them plain the most.   Silly little boy.  I love him so...

I made the mistake of telling him I had fresh baked "Ginger People" in the kitchen when he came home.  There are no photos of the completed product.  In the amount of time it took me to go through his folder (they send it home everyday FILLED with things he made, paperwork for me to sign if there is any, and his take home reader for the night.....), refill his snack box for the next day, and remind him to try to use the potty before he sat down to play with the neighbor girl or watch his Octonauts show on Netflix....the Ginger People were no more.  He didn't eat dinner that night, and I am okay with that.