August 23, 2014

Elimination Diet: Final Two Weeks

I didn't post about my experience with the elimination diet, partly because I was busy, and partly because I was just wanting to hurry up and get it over with. I wasn't seeing a lot of difference—I lost no weight at all—and I continued having my typical aches, pains, & hayfever.

I was also getting impatient to start challenging the multitude of foods I'd been missing for weeks (wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar, corn, nightshades, alcohol, citrus, preservatives, etc.). I was holding up pretty well, considering what a major change it was to avoid all the above foods. The fact that each one of those foods takes 3 days each to challenge one by one (1 day to consume and 2 days to observe any effects—suspending again if no effects are noted) meant I was looking at at least another month of almost elimination diet. Of course, if you don't note any effects from the re-introduced food after the 3 day challenge, you're okay to incorporate it back into your diet.

The bland factor of this diet—no lime, chile, or sugar—meant occasional taste frustration for this chica, and so although I used a wide variety of spices, I also found myself upping the salt intake more than normal—not a healthy habit. So needless to say, I started getting antsy to get on with things, toward ending this elimination phase, and start challenging. Going to parties where pizza, beer, & dessert was served or having the endless explanatory conversations with friends and colleagues was getting a bit old as well.

On the other hand, there were a few noteworthy benefits of this diet. For example, I definitely upped  my intake of fruits and vegetables to a degree beyond what I had been hoping for originally. I also noticed myself chewing slower (to maximize whatever enjoyment experience I was having with bland-ish food).

I started challenging a few days ago—which is to say, I ended the elimination phase a few days early. The first food I challenged was the one I'd been craving the most—sugars. Interestingly, I didn't go straight to the white sugar (I gave up most white sugar & white flour a year ago), but for the taste thing—maple syrup. Then some honey in a salad dressing. No negative effects that I could observe. I did have a bit of a sad spell that same afternoon but since I've been under stress lately, I didn't attribute it to the sugar, though I wouldn't rule out a sugar low as a possible factor. I began to challenge corn today with none other than corn tortillas. So far so good.

I also am grateful to be increasing my repertoire of delicious protein-rich and vegan recipes. I never ended up learning how to butcher a lamb. But not overdoing it on the animal fat and protein, and replacing them with plant-based alternatives is never a bad thing.

Here are a few more recipes I've enjoyed in the last 2 weeks (adapted in some cases to adhere to the diet):


During initial Challenge Phase (these recipes are not all 100% elimination diet, because they include one or more challenged ingredients):


I will be doing a separate post for more of the recipes during my challenge phase, and will do a recipes wrap-up for the full two months at the end of this all :-)




Spinach-Walnut Pesto

This is a totally vegan, elimination diet-friendly recipe that is a spin-off of the traditional pesto recipe. I already experiment with alternative pesto recipes in my cookbook The Bajio's Bounty by adding cilantro in with the basil. But this pesto recipe goes even further and only has 8 simple ingredients:

3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. walnuts
1 clove raw garlic
1/8- 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. vinegar, or 1/2 squeezed lime
black pepper to taste
salt to taste (1/8-1/4 tsp)

It's very easy to make with a blender. You simply place the walnuts, garlic, and olive oil in the blender and blend on medium power until smooth. Then you add 2 of the cups of spinach and 1/8 a cup of water and continue to blend until smooth. How much more spinach, water, salt and pepper depends on your tastebuds and how much of a workhorse your blender is. Once the pesto is blending smooth, you simply open the lid and keep adding a few spinach leaves at a time until it gets too thick to blend well, at that point you can add a bit more water if you still have more spinach to blend. Store in a tightly-closed container and consume within 1 week or freeze.

Experiment with adding basil, cilantro, or other fresh herbs to this recipe, it can only enhance the flavor. Enjoy with pasta, french bread, or as a garnish over dishes.