The Great Experiment Part 2


Last January I was in a nasty flare.  I was going to the bathroom 30 times a day.  I was obese with high cholesterol and high blood sugar.  My body was a mess and I wasn’t treating it nicely.  So, I decided to make some changes as many of you already know.  I joined Weight Watchers to lose weight, which I was pretty good with.  For the year I lost about 30 lbs.  I also went Gluten-Free to help with my Crohn’s.  I wanted to give my intestines a rest from the harsh fiber of wheat.  Also, this was supposed to help in reducing my blood sugar levels.  Lastly, and this happened later in the year, I switched meds.  I went off Humira and started Low Dose Naltrexone.

For the most part everything was working well.  I achieved what seemed like remission.  I lost weight.  I feel good and healthier.  I was finally on the right track.  And then it all came to a crashing halt.  The Dreaded Holidays!!!   Anyone that knows me knows I like to eat.  Well, the holidays give me that opportunity.  Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate covered anything.  With New Years Eve, there is a lot of eating, then some drinking, then some more eating and yes, more drinking.

Well, it is now January 2013.  My weight has been fine and I don’t think I have gained too much weight back as my clothes still fit.  However, the past week or so I have been going to the bathroom more.  I am not feeling as healthy as I should and I know the reason.  I have been putting garbage into my body again and have completely looked away from eating right.  I am now paying for it.

So now I know that diet most definitely plays a part in IBD.  Today is Friday night.  This weekend is my last hurrah.  As of Monday I start up my experiment with nutrition and IBD and get back to eating correctly.  I am going back onto the Weight Watchers plan.  I am going to stop putting nasty chemicals into my body.  I am going to start treating my body like it should be treated.

A lot of people still say that nutrition means nothing when it comes to IBD.  I think I might have proven this past year that it does.  When I ate healthy with all natural products I was doing great.  When I started eating junk again, I felt like I was on the verge of a flare.  I have learned a lot in 2012 and I know that I need to stop NOW.  I need to practice what I preach.

So I will continue on my journey come Monday.  I won’t look back.  I won’t second guess myself and I won’t regret it for one minute.  I want to be completely healthy.  I want others to look and me and say, “If he can do it, then anyone can” because I couldn’t do it for so many years.  I denied the nutrition connection and ignored my weight. 

The holidays are done.  My denial is over.  I had my fill and now I need to continue my journey and my experiment.  Welcome to Jeff 2.0.  Time to take all I have learned and put it into practice.  And there is nothing better on a journey than some company…so Who Is With Me?

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Gluten Free Restaurant Review – New York City


This past week I had the chance to visit 2 restaurants in New York City that are known for being Gluten Free friendly.  One I was so so on, the other I can’t wait to go back to.

S’MAC 

The first restaurant I went to was S’Mac which is short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese.  As you can guess, they specialize in Mac & Cheese.  They have both gluten-free and regular pasta.  The bread crumbs and flour used are gluten-free and if your lactose intolerant, they can use a coconut milk.

First I want to start off saying that I knew this wasn’t a gourmet restaurant.  It is a quick service restaurant.  The food however is made to order since it is custom-made to how you want it.

I am not a big Mac & Cheese eater, but my wife is.  This was for her birthday so I didn’t mind trying it.  Overall, I wasn’t that impressed.  I thought all the pasta and sauces would be made already so all they had to do was mix everything together and heat it up.  However, it took quite a long time from placing our order to getting it.  Once we did get our meal, they were both ice cold to the point that I got the impression they were being cooked from a frozen state.  They were more than happy to heat it some more.  Again, I had to send it back a second time due to heat issues.  Once it was finally hot enough to eat, it wasn’t bad.

My other issues, and this is probably what caused our heat issues, was that it seems like there was recently a shift change and a lot of the off duty employees were hanging out and talking with the employees that were working.  The current employees seemed to be preoccupied which is why our meal was probably cold.

One bright side is when I posted all this onto their Facebook page, Sarita answered back pretty quickly and said she would talk with the manager.  I would give her the benefit of the doubt and try it again one day.  Overall, I would give this place 3 out of 5 stars.

Risotteria

This place I have wanted to go to since I went Gluten Free.  It has really great reviews and almost everything here is gluten-free.  Their main specialty is risotto and most of the risotto dishes are GF.  They also have some salads, pizza’s both GF and regular, and panini’s, also GF and regular.  The meal starts with some homemade GF bread sticks which I thought were excellent.  I wanted to try the risotto but since I was there for brunch, I went with a panini.

Besides the main meals, they have a complete GF dessert menu.  For drinks they also have a selection of gluten-free beers.  Everything here that we had was excellent.  The place is small and can only accommodate 20 people, but that was fine with me.  We got there when it opened so we didn’t have to wait.

Overall, I loved everything here and can’t wait to go back again.  It definitely lived up to all the reviews I read.  On top of everything, they also sell their mixes, breads and desserts.  I was tempted to buy some but I decided to wait until next time.  I would give this place 5 stars out of 5.

Since going Gluten Free, my biggest concern has been eating out.  I find most restaurants are not GF friendly.  This was the first time I went out and didn’t worry about the food at all.  It was nice not to have to worry if I will feel sick after eating.  So, if you are ever in New York City and you need a gluten-free meal, check these places out.

Chicken Soup – Not Just Good For The Soul


Yesterday started Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week and what happens…I get sick.  Ok, it is just a cold, but still feel like crap.  The weather has cooled down a lot and I am constantly feeling cold now.  So what better thing to do then to make some nice hot chicken soup.  Recently someone asked me how to make it.  I sent them my recipe and now that I am making it I figured, let me take some pictures and share the recipe with you.

I know a lot of Crohnies like soup for when they aren’t feeling well and it helps to settle a stomach and rehydrate you.  Also, I grew up hearing it called Jewish Penicillin so how bad can it be for you.  The great thing about this soup is that it is naturally Gluten Free so I don’t have to worry about that.

So, without further delay, here is my chicken soup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1 Onion
  • Fresh Herbs
  1. Take chicken and wash it off.  But into 1/4 ers and place in large soup pot.
  2. Peel carrots and parsnip.  Place into pot.  Trim celery and turnip and add to pot.  Peel onion and slice into 1/4ers.  Add to pot.
  3. Add any fresh herbs that you like.  Some ideas are thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, basil and rosemary.
  4. Fill pot with water and cover.
  5. Place onto medium heat until water boils.
  6. When water boils, add 2 tsp of chicken bouillon (I use the loose instead of cubes).
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour.
  8. When done, turn off heat.  Remove chicken to a plate. Remove any vegetables you don’t want to serve with the soup to a bowl.  Drain any soup in the bowl with the vegetable and discard the veggies.  Drain any soup from chicken.
  9. Serve.

Now how you serve it is all up to you.  I take my chicken and back it off with some spices.  As for the soup, I make some gluten free pasta and serve the soup with that.  I keep the carrots only.  Some ideas are to add rice to the soup, chop up the chicken and add that back, or even make some matzoh balls for a traditional jewish soup.

Use a fresh clean chicken

Use a fresh clean chicken

1/4ered chicken

1/4ered chicken

Veggies...yum

Veggies…yum

Cut up veggies and chicken in pot

Cut up veggies and chicken in pot

Add Water

Add Water

Finished Soup

Finished Soup

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

 

Finished product with Gluten Free pasta noodles.

Finished product with Gluten Free pasta noodles.

 

Post 18 #NHBPM – Write about your advice for someone caring for a patient with your condition


 

Dear Sir/Madam:

This letter is to inform you that you are now caring for a patient with Crohn’s Disease.  There are a bunch of things you should know about the disease and how it will affect your life.

First, remember that the person you are taking care of has the disease, not you.  Right now they are probably scared because they have a uncurable chronic illness.  What they need most is love, affection and some sympathy.  They are in constant pain and will probably never feel “normal” again.  It is your job to help them get back to normal as best as THEY can.

Second, listen to them.  Don’t ever assume you know what they are going through or what they feel.  If they say they have pain, believe them.  Sometimes they may seem alright, but most times there is a pain within their gut.  Think about how you feel when you have a sunburn.  Well, Crohn’s is like a sunburn on the inside of the intestines and it is constantly being touched.  Ah, I see the lightbulb go on above your head…you have an idea now on what they are feeling like.

Next, don’t try to force feed them.  An appetite is a tricky thing for someone with Crohn’s.  One day they can be nauseous and not want to eat.  Other days, they will want to pig out.  Also, they are going to find that there are a bunch of foods that don’t agree with them.  If they want to try a specific diet, let them.  If they say they can’t eat a certain food…believe them.  Don’t try to make them eat something because it is healthy.  Not everything healthy is good for someone with Crohn’s.

Your patient is not going to like the medicines that they are on.  If they are taking Prednisone, they are going to get depressed.  You should know right now, they will gain weight.  Their face will swell up and this is called a “Moon Face”.  Just let them know that it is normal, they are still beautiful or handsome, and that it is temporary.  One day they will come off the steroid and their weight will come down.  Now, sometimes if they are in a constant flare, they may lose weight.  Try to give them some supplemental foods like Ensure to help maintain their weight.  Don’t ever mention how skinny they look.  They know they are losing weight and don’t want to be reminded of it.

My last advice I can give is never ever ever say they are sick.  They have a chronic disease that will be with them all their life.  They know how they feel and they want to try to look and act normal.  To them, it is something that is now part of their life.   To them, being sick is like catching a cold or a flu.  Having Crohn’s doesn’t mean your life ends..so why should they think they are sick.  Treat them as you would treat anyone else.  Play with them.  Talk with them.  Give them hugs and kisses.  Let them know that their life will move along and that they have nothing to be ashamed off.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  I hope it will help you in caring for your new patient.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.  There is also a huge community of people with their condition online.  Turn on your computer and look for them.  They will accept you and your patient into their family with no questions asked.  You are now about to embark on a great journey.

sincerely;

Dr. Ira B. Darling

Gluten Free Mac & Cheese


I wanted to share with you another recipe I have that is gluten-free.  I started making this recipe a couple of years ago when I was on Weight Watchers for the 2nd time.  This is one of their recipes but I have modified it a little.  Originally this wasn’t a gluten-free recipe but as my lifestyle changes, so do my recipes.  For any vegans, you can also modify this using a dairy free cheese and soy or almond milk.

Gluten Free Macaroni & Cheese – Serves 2

  1. 6 oz Uncooked Gluten Free Elbow Macaroni – you can use whatever brand you like
  2. 1 cup Fat Free Milk (can be lactose free, soy, almond, or regular)
  3. 1/8 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  4. 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  5. 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  6. 1/2 cup Low Fat Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Cook pasta in water according to package.  Drain and return to pot.

While pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, salt and onion powder until blended.  Bring to a boil on a medium – low heat, whisking frequently.  Reduce to a low heat and simmer, stirring often, until thickened (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese.

Add sauce to the cooked pasta, toss to coat, and serve.
I sometimes add cooked broccoli to this.  You can also add meat to this dish like cubed ham.  If you do, I would reduce the amount of pasta to 4 oz then.

 

Feel free to play with this recipe as  there are a lot of things you can do with it.  Some people add hot sauce or red pepper flakes.  Some will add bread crumbs and bake it.  Whatever you do, enjoy it like I always do.

 

 

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan – Gluten Free


As promised, here is the recipe for a delicious eggplant dish.  First, I want to say that I did not create this recipe.  I have changed it a little and the original can be found here http://glutenfreehappytummy.com/2012/08/15/eggplant-non-parmesan-gf-v-scd/.  I have found a bunch of good gluten free recipes on her website (sorry, I don’t know the name of the woman who writes this blog).  You can follow her recipe and it is really good.  I just wanted to tweak it a little to match my taste palate.  Also, one note…I wanted to post pictures of the cooking process but I got so wrapped up in making the dish I forgot to take pictures.  I do have one of the finished dish that I will post at the end.  So, here it is:

Serves 3

1 eggplant peeled, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
1/2 Cup Almond Milk – Unsweetened

2/3 cup Garbanzo and Fava Bean Flour (mixed with a bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder)

Sauce:

3 tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1 carrot and 1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 Tsp garlic paste 
1/2 tsp dried basil, oregano, and parsley
salt and pepper
fresh basil (garnish)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. After you slice your eggplant, set up your “breading station.” You will need one bowl with your milk, a plate with your  flour mixture, and a tin-foil-lined, olive-oil sprayed baking sheet. Dunk your eggplant in the milk, coat it with the flour and place on the baking sheet. Spray all the tops with olive oil, and then bake for 40 minutes until golden brown, flipping half way through.

Meanwhile, on the stove, saute your onion in 1 tsp EVOO, with salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil. Add your carrot and celery, and let it soften, about 6 minutes. Finally, add in your tomatoes and garlic. Let them cook for about 3 minutes. Mash with a potato masher, or put in the food processor to create your desired consistency.

After you have pureed your tomatoes, place back onto the stove and put a small flame under it.  Bring to a small boil to reduce out some of the liquid.  Taste it and reseason it if you need to.

When the eggplant is done, place 3 slices on a plate, layering them over each other.  Spoon some of the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant.  Place the basil in the center for garnish and serve.

Now to make this truly a parmesan you need some cheese.  I didn’t do it this time, but you can add either shaved parmesan or romano cheese to this.  You can also add some of the pearl mozzarella balls to this.  Either would make a nice garnish and addition to the meal.

Enjoy.

Gluten Free Diet Update


It has been seven months now since I have gone gluten-free in hopes of calming my colon to help get me in remission.  I figured I would update you to show just how important diet is to treating your IBD.

Back in January I weighed around 240 lbs.  I was going to the bathroom 30 times a day with a lot of cramping and having a lot of intestinal pain.  I knew I had to change my way of life.  So I decided to go on Weight Watchers and go gluten-free.  This would be a big change for me as I love my gluten 🙂

Here it is 7 months later.  I am happy to say, it is working beautifully.  I am down 25 lbs.  Best of all, my Crohn’s is just about in remission.  I am only going to the bathroom 3-4 times a day.  Still more than normal, but I can live with that.  My blood sugar and cholesterol have also come down but still not to acceptable levels.  Overall, I have made a real impact on my health for the better.

So what have I learned from this experience.  Well, you can definitely live a gluten-free life.  There are some hurdles every now and then but nothing that I can’t handle.  The biggest challenge so far was travelling to another country to an all-inclusive resort.  The food choices were a challenge, and I didn’t eat too much..but I was able to stick to my gluten-free diet.

Now for anyone thinking about going gluten-free but is worried about taste…don’t be.  There are a lot of tasty GF products out there.  Depending on where you live,  your selection might be different from mine but I am sure that you will find some tasty treats.  Here are some of the brands I use.

Bread – I have tried a number of GF breads and have found Udi’s Whole Grain to be my favorite.  Glutino also a good whole grain but their white bread isn’t as good.  Schar’s Deli Style bread reminds me of a Jewish Rye which makes a real good sandwich.

Cereal – I have been sticking with Chex for now as they have a number of different flavors to choose from.  Nature’s Path also makes some really good cereal’s but is a little harder to find.

Pasta – I have been sticking to Schar brand pasta but they are limited in their variety.  Tinkyada makes a good brown rice pasta also.  I recently made a lasagna with their noodles and you couldn’t tell it was gluten-free.

Snacks – This one is going to vary depending on what you are looking for in sweets.  I have been sticking to Schar’s Vanilla or Chocolate Wafers.  Glutino also makes good wafers but you get more per serving size with Schar.  For crunchy snacks, I find myself ignoring potato chips which are usually greasy and have been eating Pirate Booty.  They have a number of different flavors and styles.  I also have been eating more popcorn.  Not only is popcorn GF but it is a whole grain and has recently be found to have more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.  For my desert’s, I have been eating ZenSoy chocolate puddings.  They are dairy free and more delicious than Jell-O brand.

Frozen meals – Now of course home-made is healthier than frozen but sometimes you just have to do it.  I have found Amy’s brand has some really good meals.  I especially like their Spinach Lasagna.   Another pasta I like which is frozen is Caesar’s brand gnocchi.  I used to love gnocchi and this is one item I can still eat.  For pizza, I have been eating Glutino’s Pepperoni pizza.  Amy’s makes a good vegetable one that has no cheese.  My selection to frozen meals is limited as I can only find GF ones in Whole Foods.

As for meals, most natural foods are gluten-free.  Chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.  All you have to do is find some good recipes and use your imagination.   A simple meal like grilling a beef tenderloin, baked potato and some steamed broccoli is delicious, wholesome, and gluten-free.

So, my journey continues.  I am down 25 lbs with another 50 to go.  I have a long road ahead and my current medicine is making the journey a little harder but it is still a great learning experience.  I think as I come across them, I will post some recipes for anyone looking for some.  I recently found a great eggplant recipe that is GF and Dairy free.  I will post that real soon.  And if anyone has some they would like to share, let me know.