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.

Crunchy Cumin-Celery-Chicken Tacos with Tahini Dressing

I have been on the elimination diet so I've been getting creative with vegetables, and that influenced this twist on the classic "tacos dorados" of Central Mexico. For others on the elimination diet, this recipe can be consumed once corn is "challenged."

Taco Filling
4 small scallions, chopped (white part)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk celery, minced
1.5 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
2 tbsp. chicken broth or water
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Taco filling
Cooking oil or olive oil (regular, not virgen or extra virgen)
10 corn tortillas (6" diameter)

1 tbsp natural tahini
dash of powdered ginger
dash of garlic powder
1 tbsp. preferred vinegar or lime juice
salt to taste
1 tbsp. natural yogurt (optional)

Thinly sliced lettuce and/or baby spinach

Saute the scallions and celery in the olive oil until transparent. Add the chicken, spices, broth or water, and stir until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare dressing and greens for topping in separate bowls, set aside.

Warm the tortillas just until flexible (flip once) on a hot griddle, keep warm in a stack inside a folded towel. Heat a cast iron or stainless steel large frying pan and add oil to about 1/4" deep, medium-high heat. Place a heaping tablespoon-full of filing inside a tortilla and fold in half. Make about 4-5 (as many as will fit side by side in the frying pan. When the oil is hot, place (carefully!) the folded tortillas in the pan, they should bubble and hiss slightly. When the bottom is light golden-brown (check with tongs), flip over gently, careful not to drop filling into the pan. When both sides are golden, place on a wire draining rack. Continue to fill and cook tacos in this way until all are done.

To assemble a finished taco, open a tortilla and place a small amount of garnish inside, and drizzle with dressing. Serve 2-3 per serving while hot.

August 10, 2014

Elimination Diet: Days 4-7

I DID IT! I made it one week on the elimination diet.

I wasn't sure I was going to make it...especially around Days 4 or 5. I was having a hard time, mainly because I was feeling a little bored with the options and craving sweets. So I tried mixing up meals and ingredients again (reaching further back into the fridge, looking up new recipes). I also took spirulina which helped with the sweets craving.

I can definitely say that I feel a difference. At first it felt "edgy," then it felt "clean," and now I feel like I've just plain had more vegetables in the last week than I've had in the last month. I think that's a good thing... :-) I will be curious to see if any weight was lost in the 1st week. To be clear, this is *not* a weight-loss diet, but my doctor said almost everyone who's on it does.

For the 1-2 weeks to come, I am ready to move on to new horizons, like getting some local meat, i.e. lamb. My brother-in-law has sheep, and lamb, a meat I really like, is on my "ok" list. But as for how to get it to my plate... well that will take some investigating. I think it's a bit more than what's involved with butchering and skinning a rabbit, or taking the feathers and gizzard out of a chicken. We shall see if my quest will be fulfilled.

But in the meantime... new highlights from the last few days:

Stay tuned...

August 6, 2014

Day 2-3 of the Elimination Diet

Today, the third day on the elimination diet prescribed by my naturopathic doctor, was the first day I started craving some things. Mainly sugary things. But also cereal in the morning. The crunch was what I missed actually.

The other thing I'm noticing is cooking copious amounts of vegetables and whole foods is quite time-consuming. I'm lucky I'm not working mornings right now... hopefully by the end of this I'll have learned more tricks for making it more convenient, larger batches and freezing maybe.

But I have been having fun delving back into more whole foods in general. I'm actually surprised at how many options I have that aren't "off limits."

Breakfasts have centered a lot on amaranth, fruit, almond milk, and nuts.

Lunches and main dishes are centering a lot on some sort of veggie and/or legume dish with a rice-based side.

Fruit and nuts (in some form) for snacks are common, and I've only had one salad since I started this—I'm not confined to lettuce.

Highlights from the last couple days:

-Banana "sorbet" (frozen mashed overripe banana mixed with almond butter, recommended by my mom)
-Fava bean soup (From the Healthy Cook by Rodale Press)
-Wild/Brown Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms (also from the HC)
-Sweet Potato Home Fries (seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, roasted at 250 C for 30 min)

I made this up myself, it will *definitely* be repeated after the diet is over. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, I was craving comfort food & I got it, in a healthy version. :-)

August 4, 2014

Day 1 | The Elimination Diet

I'm following the elimination diet for 21 days and this is Day 1.
Today I started out with plenty of the following, in various combinations.

  • amaranth
  • strawberries
  • almonds 
  • almond milk 
  • mango with papaya & cashews
  • cauliflower and garbanzo with ginger, mustard seed, onion, garlic, and coconut milk over rice
  • Rice cakes with avocado and sardine
  • Apple-walnut-chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, with olive oil, salt & pepper
  • Rice cake with almond butter and mashed banana
So far so cravings that I am noticing except maybe a little for the sugar & I am sprinkling extra salt. Must be careful there. My daughter ate almost everything I had too except the cauliflower and the breakfast. The meals have been good-tasting and satisfying. So far a squeeze of lime has been the only thing I've really missed. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

21 Days to a New View of Food | The Elimination/Anti-Inflammatory Diet

From my Facebook wall this past weekend:

"I'm finally taking my naturopathic doctor's advice and going on the full elimination diet for 3 weeks to see if I have any food sensitivities. I got the allergy prick test panel >10 yrs ago and no food allergies other than soy showed up, but I did register mega allergies to pollen and a mild soy allergy. 10 years later, I still have the hayfever, and I also have IBS and reason to suspect that Hashimoto's might be causing my thyroid dysfunction. So I figured it's about time to take a closer look."

So, for the next 21 days, this is the list I'll be following:


Gluten (wheat, barley spelt, rye)
Sugar (sugar/sweetener of any kind)
Dairy (cow sheep goat)
Beef, pork, chicken with skin, eggs (duck ok), shellfish
Peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter
Canola oil, cottonseed, hydrogenated oils
Juices (veggie or fruit) and oranges & grapefruit
Corn & corn products
Soy & soy products (soy sauce, tofu, tempe, edamame)
Alcohol, coffee, and black teas
Nightshade veggies (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes)
Processed foods and food additives (flavorings, colorings, what you can’t pronounce)
Allergens or irritants


Organic Vegetables- all colors and lots of them (fresh or frozen)
Organic Fruits (fresh or frozen, NOT dried)
Rice, Quinoa, buckwheat, Gluten free oats
Meat hormone free, grass fed, wild: skinless chicken, Lean lamb
Nuts and seeds (especially walnuts and fresh ground flaxseeds)
Fish: salmon (wild Pacific or Alaskan- Not Atlantic), halibut, sardines
Fats: olive oil, flax oil, walnut oil, avocados, coconut
Herbs and spices (especially tumeric, ginger, cumin, garlic
Tea (herbal)

Also from my FB wall: "I love natural foods but am on a tight budget, get stuck in ruts, and I have 2 other people in the house to feed... so I'm looking for the easiest, cheapest, yummiest recipes with ingredients from the 'what I can eat list.' "

I'm really interested to see what will happen or what I will find out about myself as a result of going on this diet. I'm guessing it will be at least a little hard to eat many of the foods I normally eat, and maybe a little harder when I'm at parties or when my husband and daughter are eating something I'm "off of." But it will probably be good to have to mix up my food routines and eat more of food I don't eat as often. Later on, when I introduce foods back in, I might discover some foods I'm sensitive too.

I will be trying to post daily with any new recipes I am creating or trying. Wish me luck and post recipes if you know of any good ones... they need to adhere to the list I'm working with, at least for the first 21 days. In the meantime, I look forward to a new view of the food I eat.