Q: Why are you gluten & dairy free:
We initially went gluten and dairy free for the well being of my son who is in the autism spectrum. The proteins in gluten and dairy that are commonly hard to digest and get “leaked” out of the gut are called peptides. The peptides react with opiate receptors in the brain and mimic the effects of opiate drugs like heroine and morphine, which block pain and cause our kids to act “out of it” or “high”. They are not necessarily allergic to these foods, but they cannot digest them and they cause a morphine-like effect on the brain. Opiates also cause constipation, which is why many kids in the spectrum have constipation. If you are skeptical of starting your child on a gluten and dairy free diet and you want to know for sure that you child is unable to digest peptides, you can have their urine checked for gliadorphin (or gluteomorphin), which is a peptide derived from gluten and casomorphin, which is a peptide derived from casein. If your child is unable to digest peptides, these levels will be high. Additionally, gluten and dairy commonly cause digestive upset and inflammation in the body and everyone in my family has benefited from this diet.
Q: What is the Paleo Diet and do you follow it?
A: We loosely follow the Paleo diet because it is a healthy way of eating that helps to further heal leaky gut when going gluten free isn’t enough. The focus is on whole, nutrient-dense foods such as grass-fed meats, fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, and healthy fats while removing processed foods. There are no gluten, grains (oats, corn, rice, etc…), legumes, or soy allowed. Grass-fed dairy is allowed if you can tolerate it. We are not 100% Paleo but try to eat that way most of the time. The GAPS diet and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are 2 other diets to help get your digestion on track. Also, the Elimination Diet can help you find out what foods you are reacting to so you can eliminate them.
Q: What is leaky gut?
A: This is where gaps are formed between the intestinal cells (think of the gaps in a fence as opposed to a wall), allowing contents of the intestines to leak into the body. This can happen from toxic overload, Celiac disease, chronic stress, poor diet, antibiotics, nutritional deficiencies, infections, or too much harmful bacteria and not enough good bacteria. When this happens, our bodies launch an attack against the “invaders” that have leaked into the body and causes the immune system to attack them leading to food sensitives because the food that is being leaked has now been “red flagged” by the immune system. This not only causes the immune system to act up and can eventually lead to all kinds of auto-immune disorders, but now you can also have a build up of toxins and yeast in your body along with not absorbing the nutrients from the food that you need.
In many people, especially kids with autism, gluten and casein are often hard to digest and are “leaked” into the body. The gluten and casein can effect the brain in the same manner as an opiate (think of morphine) and causes many symptoms. When Lance has gluten especially, he acts “out of it”, obsessive, has a higher pain threshold, can’t concentrate, and just acts different.
Q: Are there any substitutions for almond flour?
A: Because almond flour is higher in fat and is lighter (in weight) than other flours it is very hard to substitute. While I have not tried either, I’ve heard you can use grapeseed flour as a 1:1 substitute or finely ground sunflower seeds as a 1:1 substitute. Almond meal is not ground as fine as almond flour and doesn’t always yield good results in baked goods. I always use the Honeyville brand when baking (see my Pantry Essentials page).
*Note that sunflour seeds contain chlorophyl and when mixed with baking soda can turn your baked goods green! To maintain the proper color you could try reducing the baking soda and adding some lemon juice.
Q: Are there any substitutions for arrowroot flour?
A: Yes. Arrowroot can be substituted with cornstarch or tapioca flour. If thickening a sauce with cornstarch instead of arrowroot remember that it will take longer for the sauce to thicken. You may need to stir for up to 10 minutes. If you are thickening a milk product (and sometimes milk substitutes) arrowroot can result in a gross, slimy substance so you may want to stick with cornstarch or tapioca. Also, arrowroot looses it’s thickening power under prolonged heat so cornstarch or tapioca may be a better bet for casseroles. I hardly ever use cornstarch since it is not Paleo and corn is almost always GMO and hard to digest.
Q: Are eggs dairy?
A: I get this question all the time! The short answer is no. While eggs are an animal byproduct (so they are not vegan) they are not dairy. Dairy refers to any food coming from a milk bearing animal such as cows, goats, sheep, or the like.
Q: Does coconut oil have a coconut taste?
A: If you buy refined coconut oil it will not impart a coconut taste, unrefined will.
Q: Are oats gluten free?
A: While oats themselves do not contain gluten they are usually grown, harvested, and processed with wheat. Because of the cross-contamination I always buy certified gluten free oats. The protein structure in oats is very similar to wheat (this is also true of coffee, yeast, and dairy) and some people react to oats the same as gluten. If you buy certified gluten free oats and still have a reaction you may need to steer clear of oats altogether.
Q: How do you measure your flour?
A: I use the scoop and sweep method. If you spoon the flour into the cup, it fluffs the flower and your cup will be too light. Alternatively, if you pack the cup it will be too heavy. I always scoop the flour out with my measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife.
Using this method 1 Cup of blanched almond flour = 4 oz.
Q: Why do you mainly use almond flour?
A: Mainly, the taste. I find it has the perfect taste for baked goods and is not gritty at all. Also, it is high in protein, good fats, minerals, low carb, and is grain free. See also my pantry essentials page.
Q: Why are most of your recipes a combination of almond and arrowroot flour?
A: I find that the combination makes the most tasty baked goods. While (obviously) I love almond flour, I don’t like all of my food to taste like almonds. Also, the addition of arrowroot makes for less dense baked goods while still remaining grain free.