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einkorn
Amy’s Einkorn Affair

Einkorn–a funny word you might be interested in if you have gluten sensitivities. Especially if you really, really want bread again, but even a whiff of wheat sends your gut into overdrive.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

Spring is springing up everywhere, especially since much of the US is now on Daylight Savings Time. Arizona, Indiana and a few other states don’t observe it, and there is a movement in Texas to ditch it for good. Will they do it? Who knows? I kind of wish the entire US would dump it–it’s just hard on us all twice a year.

A slow-cooked week

Yesterday morning, I tossed some on-sale beef of indeterminate origin into the slow cooker, seasoned it with some Paula Deen House Seasoning, a little olive oil and turned it on. Lately, that’s just how we roll, but there’s a dinner already cooked when we get home. We just cook some rice, quinoa, and whatever else to go with it. Monday, I did the same with some pork stew meat–and it was pretty good. I just tossed the frozen meat in the slow cooker, seasoned it and added a bit of olive oil, turned it on and walked out. We had a ready-and-waiting dinner that night. But after I put the meat in the slow cooker yesterday, one of his car-guy friends, Big Dave, called, and we did an impromptu barbecue. So with the slow-cooked meat, BF’s lunch was already made for today, and dinner for me later.

Today’s email from Stephanie O’Dea discusses taking your slow cooker on travel with the fam. Can you blame her? Apparently a lot of people do this. Camping, hotels–and the food is ready to eat, all you need is a working outlet, just like your waffle maker. If BF and I ever start traveling, we’ll definitely pack a slow-cooker if we can.

Still writing

I’ve been busy writing, and boy, have I got an interesting subject for you. (Well, I think it is.) Unless, of course, you already know what “einkorn” is. Even if you do, I invite you to keep reading, because you might be interested to know what happened when I finally got around to using some and foisting it, I mean, offering it to BF and his friends for a taste-test.

Amy’s disclaimer

Let me point out (again) that I’m not a doctor, nurse, or medical professional. I do research and report on it. You must use your own judgement when trying something new, particularly if you have a medical condition. Don’t go full bore and eat, drink or use something that you’re not sure about because Amy (or another blogger who is actually trustworthy) says you should. You must do a little reading and decide for yourself. What I do know is that if you have a gluten allergy, einkorn may be something you can have. BUT–you’ll need to read more and try a little of it if you think it’s worth it. That’s why I provide links, so you can see where I got my info from.

If you have celiac disease. . .no. Celiac is an autoimmune disease, completely different from the gluten allergy, and you absolutely cannot have einkorn. These things I know from my research, not because I’m an expert.

Now for some updates.

Post-modern menus in the Casa de Rurale

BF indulges me, and I take the best care I can of him. He says he’s just “humoring” me on these natural things, like the tea tree oil for his feet. Rest assured that BF is fed well, whether he wants to believe it or not. He explained to me a few nights ago that the menu in his kitchen is divided into two time frames: “Pre-Amy” and “Post-Amy.” (My first question: “am I leaving?“) There are foods he was used to eating and making for himself before I showed up, (i.e., Hamburger Helper) and the new, ultra-modern things that are produced in his kitchen now that I’m there (like Pea & Pesto Soup, and anything with cannellini beans, or foods from the waffle maker or slow cooker.) Me? I’m still trying to eat clean and low-carb in an environment with Kool-Aid, cookies and vegetable oil, best I can.

More culture shock

Last week his daughter, son and partner came for another impromptu BBQ dinner. I was glad to see them, but I wasn’t ready! I was hurrying to clear off the table and for dinner while they were outside trying not to burn down the house. Despite the frozen chocolate cream pie they brought, and the potato salad BF bought at Walmart, I was able to eat rather clean by requesting BF not put that stuff he calls “barbecue sauce” on my pork ribs. They were only subjected to the barbecue rub I have made for many years, with sugar or gluten or anything. The rest were coated with a “sauce” from a bottle loaded with HFCS and other dreadful chemicals. He was kind enough to use a separate pair of tongs for mine, too.

Her son is 3, and as active and precocious as they come. At some point, she asked me if there was any Kool-Aid. No kidding–and BF has some of that chemical-infused sugar powder in his pantry, in addition to soft drinks in the fridge. She made a pitcher of it and started putting it in the wee one’s sippy cup. Horrified, I asked, “you’re giving that to you child?” She said, “Oh, yeah, it’s great!”

She has not read Tox-Sick. (My paperback copy arrived last weekend.)

He thinks I know all this stuff

BF managed to leave out a few important details when he requested “spaghetti and meat sauce” the other night, like browning a pound of ground beef before pouring a jar of <ugh> Ragu spaghetti sauce into the skillet and letting that warm while boiling the pastas. His pasta was some of the multiple boxes of spaghetti in his pantry; mine was a cup of Ronzoni gluten-free penne pasta, found at the Hammond Winn-Dixie. I was browning ground beef at 9:30 at night. He just assumed I knew all this. I didn’t.

Never, ever assume anything. And, of course, read your recipe all the way through before you start chopping something and discover that you don’t have enough butter, oil, or something else crucial to your recipe. (Did that Sunday.)

Einkorn

So, recently I wrote an article for my natural health Upwork client on Einkorn wheat. (I don’t know yet when it will be published, but will give you the link when it is.) If you’ve never heard of it, well, you’re not alone–I didn’t either until I read Wheat Belly. Einkorn is what humans started cultivating as “wheat” a long, long, time ago in the Fertile Crescent when formal agriculture started, and before hybridization. Wheat is hybridized, not GMO, so I was wrong on that. (Amazing what you find out when you do more research.)

I was also surprised to find out that einkorn is actually widely available in the US.

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Einkorn flour (picture from Jovial Foods website)

I actually bought a bag many months ago at Erma’s Nutrition Center in Nassau Bay, intending to make bread with it and share it with the GER, mostly as a taste-test. (Maybe the GER assumes I’m the better baker, I dunno.) Well, I never got that far, the bag stayed in my fridge and made the trip to BF’s place last year, and still bounced around his his fridge. (In that bottom drawer where I keep my alternate baking stuff.) After taking on the task of writing a 700-word article on the subject, I realized, “I think I still have a bag of this in the fridge.” So I went looking for it and recipes to make with it.

Why Einkorn?

This “original wheat,” while not entirely gluten free, is a lot lower in gluten and starch than our modern hybrid wheat. It’s also higher in protein. This means that if you have a gluten sensitivity when you eat modern wheat, there is the possibility that you can tolerate einkorn.

Dr. Davis explains his experiment in the book, buying einkorn berries, grinding them and making bread with them. Eating the bread he made, he experienced no ill effects after enjoying some. He did the same thing with our modern dwarf wheat flour, made his bread, had some, and experienced two days of gut trauma. So, yes, it can indeed be the modern wheat we have in this country making you or your loved ones ill. Einkorn may allow bread, pasta, cookies, cakes and other wheat-based baked goods on your menu again.

More einkorn resources

This article by The Kitchen Steward explains five ways that einkorn differs from modern wheat. And At Healthy Home Economist, she explains why her family is switching to einkorn, soon as they use up what they already have.

Here are some baking tips on working with einkorn from Jovial’s Website. You can order it online, and use their locator to find it in your area.

Their daughter was sick

Jovial Foods was started by Carla and Rodolfo Bertolucci, whose daughter suddenly became very ill. With a background in organic farming and a love of Italian cooking, they discovered that she was ill from a gluten sensitivity, and sought to find answers. Carla found einkorn, nearly extinct, and they have, so to speak, “brought it back to life” for a new generation. Together, they founded Jovial Foods, naming it for the joy they felt after finding a way to help their daughter and create delicious food that wouldn’t make her sick anymore. Jovial offers flour, pastas and baking tools for working with einkorn. Carla even wrote a cookbook on the subject (and if you order the book, they’ll send you a free bag of flour with it.) Now, more people can enjoy einkorn–and bread–again.

Some fine print first

Let me point out a few things about einkorn. First, good as it is, yes, it is more expensive. It’s grown and harvested in Italy, organic, and is not like the everyday flour you get in your local grocery. You can’t just use it cup-for-cup in your regular bread or pizza crust recipes, either. Jovial offers some tips on baking with einkorn.

If you’re already dealing with it. . . .

Second, as I’ve said before: if you have someone in your household who has these kinds of allergies, you’re already spending on alternative ingredients to be able to feed them. Incorporating healthier alternatives into the everyday meal plan helps the whole family, and may help the allergic one feel less “left out.” It’s not fun to be singled out because you’ve got this allergy that you can’t help, you know? And it’s not a bad thing if the rest of the family gets to try something tasty and healthy and learns to enjoy it.

Third: gluten sensitivity is not the same thing as celiac disease, although some of the treatments may be the same. Celiac is an autoimmune disease, and celiac sufferers can’t indulge in einkorn, sorry. (That’s from my research on the other article.) And gluten sensitive folks need to try just a little einkorn to make sure they can enjoy it safely and they don’t end up getting sick from it. Many GF folks can tolerate einkorn because of the lower gluten and starch content. And, as I discovered, modern bread has more starch added in to make it lighter and fluffier. No wonder people get sick from it. Jovial’s website also offers additional information on gluten free and specifically, on celiac disease.

What does it look like?

Well, when you open the bag, it looks like. . .flour:

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When you open the bag. . . .

It definitely doesn’t smell like your regular Martha White flour, (it smells good) and it feels bit heavier than your regular flour, too.

I finally used it!

OK, I *really* wanted to bake bread with it, but I didn’t have time this past weekend.  I’ll do that soon. But out of the blue, BF and I were invited to his friend’s place for dinner on Sunday. It was supposed to be a birthday dinner for someone, but that couple couldn’t make it. So. . .it was six of us: me, BF, his friend Big H, his girlfriend K, her 13-yo daughter M and Big H’s 13-yo nephew, also named H. BF worked during the day Sunday, and after I picked him up, we headed over to H’s homestead. He’s already got a lovely house, but he’s also building a barn, and a saw mill, and a few other things on the property.

It’s the kind of place that I envisioned for myself. . .in Texas. North of Houston. By myself, with Internet, and being that copywriter homesteading in the woods. Oh, well. . .me and BF are doing it with one bathroom and not enough closet space.

During the einkorn research, I found a bread recipe as well as one for brownies on a blog called Live Simply. I saved both of them to use later, and I’ve uploaded them to the Recipes page as well. Again, as of this writing, not made the bread yet, but plan to at some point, and get more of the flour on my next trip to Whole Foods. (That comes under the category of “BF indulges me.”) Kristin Marr, the blog author actually has four recipes for einkorn on her website, if you’re interested; just do a search for “einkorn” and they’ll all show up.

Brownies, in a side-by-side taste test

So, with my article sent to the client, I left the library early with BF and spent most of the weekend doing lots and lots of chores. (They never end at the Casa de Rurale.) About a third of the chores actually were completed, and those will be done this week now that the laundry is mostly finished. I decided that I would use his friends as additional taste-testers, which they were happy to do when I said “brownies.” Big H told me not to talk about the “alternate” version until people had tried them, especially the kids. And BF didn’t mind too much, because I was going to make his favorites anyway.

I pointed out that I wasn’t looking for accolades, but opinions. Things like, “Wow, Amy, you’re a great baker!” That doesn’t tell me anything, right? Besides. . .I already know!

It was a day where I kept looking around saying to myself, “where’s my water?” This is what I’m looking for:

 

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My 24-ounce Venti cup,  which runneth over with water, lime juice (or sometimes lemon), ice and pink stuff. Nothing else.

I do get the irony of the red plastic cups that BF insists on using. No dishwasher (of course not, it’s Louisiana, almost no one has one) and he’s not about to wash dishes. But anyway. . . .

I started baking

Since the einkorn brownies were made in a skillet, I made the Duncan Hines version in a skillet too. And of course, didn’t tell anyone which was which. They were obviously different, but again, didn’t tell anyone until I got an opinion from each.

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The setup

This is pretty simple–just dump it into a mixing bowl and go for it:

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Using a big measuring cup for a mixing bowl helps with this kind of thing. BF is learning this trick from me.

Mix really well, 50 strokes the box says:

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Eggs,water, and industrial sludge, I mean, vegetable oil.

And it comes out like this:

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Brownie batter, from a box.

Grease your pan:

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Used the same industrial sludge to grease the skillet as I mixed into the bowl.

Now, the instructions don’t tell you how long to bake these if you’re using a cast-iron skillet, so I had to estimate.

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Standard boxed mix stuff

I went with 325F, and I think it took about 25 minutes. Naturally, I forgot to take a picture of this pan when it came out of the oven. I texted one to BF, so I guess that’s why I didn’t use the camera.

Did I mention I was coloring my hair while this was going on? Don’t worry–my haircolor is a plant-based organic, and even if any did get into the brownies, it’s fine. (No, none did. At any time.)

The Duncan Hines brownies came out as they normally do. Took them out of the oven, set them on the stove, and set about on the next recipe.

Naturally Sweetened Einkorn Skillet Brownie

This one is a little more complicated, and calls for more ingredients, as you might imagine. Because, why? They’re made from scratch!

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The setup

For all of you readers still working in IT, yes, I brought my laptop into the kitchen. I was very careful, and there were no accidents. But I really do need to clean that keyboard and use the little tiny attachments I have to vacuum all the dust out of it.

The recipe calls for 12 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled. Guess who only had one stick of butter left? Yes–and thankfully, there was an option for one stick of butter and a quarter cup of coconut oil, also melted and cooled. So that’s what you see off to the left. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll see the label of a bottle of good Texas honey from HEB. When you buy it, they have little plastic bottles at the store–but I already had a glass jar to store it in, and just transferred the label over. That’s BF’s little bottle of cinnamon, but trust me, we have more–a lot more. I think I’m going to have to refill it so he doesn’t panic.

Two exceptions

In my local Winn-Dixie, I couldn’t get the brand of chocolate chips Kristin recommended, nor could I get instant espresso powder. So. . .I got what I could, and what was cheap and would do the job. Bought little packets of Folger’s Instant (I can’t find the big jar of the HEB instant) and some of the regular Winn-Dixie chocolate chips.  If I’d planned a trip to Whole Foods, I might have been able to get them, but that’s not in the cards yet, darnit.

Yes, Miss Sunie, you may tell everyone that I’m still missing my HEB. And tell Miss Carolyn and Miss Lei I said “Hi,” please–I was thinking about Miss Lei just this morning.

First, mix the wet ingredients

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I still separate egg yolks like this

Mix the butter (or in my case, butter and coconut oil) , and then the vanilla and espresso (coffee) powder:

Oil & butter

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It’s what you can get at Winn Dixie and Walmart here. It works.

I’m still using home-made vanilla extract, just like The Barefoot Contessa does:

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Need to get more vodka in there one of these days. And more vanilla beans, too.

If you don’t know this, grease the inside of that cup before you pour some rich, delicious Texas honey into it:

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Not raw, I don’t think, but it is real honey.

Once you get all those put together–carefully, so your butter and/or coconut oil doesn’t seize or freeze up–whisk it:

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Egg yolks, not whole eggs.

Get that stuff moving:

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Whip it! Whip it good! (you’re singing it, aren’t you?)

Now leave it alone.

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All mixed!

Next, the dry ingredients

Whisk together all the dry stuff and make sure there are no lumps:

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First, the flour

And cocoa powder, of course:

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Make sure it’s the unsweetened type, of course

Baking powder:

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Been a while since I’ve been to Trader Joe’s for a supply run.

 

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Just drop them in the bowl

And a little of BF’s cinnamon:

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Not a lot of cinnamon, just half a teaspoon

And whisk that all together.

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Whip it! Whip it good! (sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Another quick kitchen tip

Something else I’ve been teaching BF to do is check the bottom of the bowl to make sure it’s all mixed. Sometimes when he’s baking from a box, he doesn’t check this. But, seriously, take a look:

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Clear bowls help you see if you’ve got it properly mixed.

If I hadn’t looked, it wouldn’t have come out right. Finally, I got it all done:

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Perfect!

Then I mixed the dry stuff into the wet stuff. I can’t take a picture of myself while mixing the wet into the dry–I only have two hands, and BF was at work.

Not so fast

At this point, you let it sit for ten minutes. It thickens up considerably from a fluid liquid to a thick, pasty liquid, no kidding. The oven was already preheated:

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Nothing wrong with checking, right?

So I just put a bit of coconut oil in the Lodge skillet:

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Coconut oil on this one

And once it thickens, you fold in the chocolate chips.

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I know, I know. . .we’re not in HEB anymore.

Since I wasn’t able to get the brand Kristin recommended, and the mini-chips cost twice as much, I bought the Winn-Dixie brand. They’re not bad, but I know the HEB brand would have been better. (Just an opinion.) So Kristin says to use a “heaping 1/2 cup” if you’re not using the mini-chips.

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Does that “heap” enough?

Fold them right into this now-thickened batter:

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More chocolate!

Mix and fold well:

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Make sure you make that pass on the bottom of your mixing bowl, too.

It looks like this:

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With chocolate chips spread throughout

And pour into the skillet:

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Here we go!

Yeah. . .pour it right in.

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Doesn’t exactly “pour,” does it?

I had to put down the camera and scrape it out with the spatula by hand. It’s that thick. No kidding.

So you bake it for about 25 minutes, testing it before you take it out of the oven. At this point, it was also time to take phase 2 of my hair color out, so that worked out well. It was great once I took it out of the oven:

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Success! Brownies!

Unfortunately, some of the pictures I took have. . .disappeared. I don’t know why, but I can’t find them. But I can tell you the rest of the story. Both pans were wrapped in foil and loaded in the back seat of the  White Knight and transported to Big H’s place about 20 minutes away.

Over the river and through the woods. . . .

For dinner, we had, among other things, this delicious chicken roasted outside on a rotisserie:

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Oh, it was very, very good. That’s actually two chickens on a huge spit.

And there was some grocery-store rolls coated with butter that were baked, (I passed) salad, and some jalapeno & cheese sausage going on, which I liked even better than this delicious chicken. We were told that it’s available at a slaugtherhouse up in Kentwood, where K lives. (Half hour away, maybe?) Yeah, I got two words for that sausage: ROAD TRIP!

How did they like the brownies?

Well, we talked about all kinds of stuff, and had a great time. More culture shock: K’s daughter loves Harry Potter, but her grandmother told her that it was “evil” or something, and that she shouldn’t watch it. Fortunately, K disagrees, and M is a huge fan.  Little H was telling me about his grandmother, a heavy smoker, and how she uses basil to help her breathe. From there I couldn’t stop telling him about pesto, and Pea & Pesto Soup. Both were smart kids, and it was great to talk to them.

When it came time for brownies, I explained that I was looking for opinions, not accolades, and that’s what I got.

The results of the taste test

BF, of course, knew immediately without being told which one was the Duncan Hines, and of course, he preferred it. He said that the einkorn brownie was “okay,” but a bit dry.

Both of the kids enjoyed both types of brownies, and Little H took a couple of them home. M said they tasted a little like red velvet cake. And, in the light in big H’s kitchen, I had to agree that they looked like red velvet, too.

K felt like the Duncan Hines was fudgier, but that the einkorn type was pretty good, too. Like me, K watches what she eats for health reasons, but she did tuck into one or two of those rolls she baked up.

Big H said that with a glass of milk, it would be a pretty passable brownie, especially if you couldn’t have the Duncan Hines (or other wheat-based brownie) anymore. He agreed with the assessment that there was a taste of red velvet cake involved, and that it wasn’t a bad thing at all.

We also some gave some to Big Dave last night, right next to a Duncan Hines brownie. He said it would be good with coconut oil. Well, it has some–but he enjoyed it as well, even if it was a bit drier. “It’s good, but it’s different,” he said.

And me, well, I like the einkorn brownies. I’ve tried Duncan Hines type once or twice. It’s a little too sweet, and of course, has the “fudgy” quality when you use one egg. Actually, I’d call it more “sticky” than “fudgy,” but that’s the high amount of sugar and other chemicals they add to make it taste good. The einkorn brownie has more of a strong, stark chocolate taste to it, and it’s more of a “cake-like” brownie than “fudgy.” Maybe if you served them warm, they’d be “fudgier.”

What’s next for einkorn in the HeatCageKitchen?

Last summer, before I was getting ready to move, I was chanting with Miss Alice at her place. I could not stop thinking about baking bread for BF. Weird, right? So that’s probably going to happen at some point, along with cooking up some more delicious food as I find the recipes.

I saw Carla Bertolucci’s einkorn cookbook in the Clear Lake Barnes & Noble a couple of years ago, but didn’t buy it. I read through it and liked it, and put it on the mental list of books I want in my collection. Now that I know I can get a free bag of flour if I order it from Jovial, well, that’s a plan! Sometime. . . .when I make some more money. I need more bookshelves first. Along with one of those baking tools and the linen thingy they have, too. I know that I can get the einkorn flour in Mandeville, Baton Rouge or New Orleans, so it’s just a matter of when I get to one of the stores when I need to. Much as a I prefer grain free, I do like the healthier option available, much like the delicious things in the Babycakes books. They’re not everyday items, but occasional healthy treats that are good to make and have for company or just for the week.

Until next time. . . .

I hope that I’ve offered up some suggestions for anyone looking at gluten-free, or who knows someone dealing with a gluten allergy. Einkorn can be a part of a delicious, healthy, organic eating plan that includes everything you might want, but you have to do a little work for it. If and when I bake bread for us, I’ll report on it, of course.

Again, I urge you to do more reading if you (or someone you know) have a medical condition and aren’t sure if einkorn is would be a good thing. Start with Wheat Belly, and go from there. The information is out there, Pinterest has loads of recipes, and Jovial Foods has plenty of info available on their website, too.

Enjoy!

 

Verdict on Wheat Belly

Do you have a Wheat Belly?

Hello, Dear Readers:

Warning, this is a long one. But important. Go get a cuppa before you start reading, because there’s a lot to learn.

I’ve completed reading the eye-opening book Wheat Belly, and what I learned from reading it makes me say what I said the first time I mentioned the book in this blog after meeting Dr. William Davis in my earlier post on the subject:

STOP EATING ALL WHEAT IN ANY FORM, IMMEDIATELY AND FOREVER.

No kidding. It’s that toxic, even if you’re not sensitive to wheat or gluten. The “wheat belly” refers to what most people think of as a “beer belly;” a paunch that just won’t go away; but what if you don’t drink beer? Reading labels, as we all should be, will yield more places where you’d never think a wheat substance would subside (beer, too.) And if you or someone in your household has that problem with wheat and/or gluten, you’d probably already know all about it. If you don’t, go get this book and read it. Read the whole thing, now. (You can also get a Kindle version if you prefer.)

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or medical professional. I’m a patient who reads and pays attention, and I blog about food and food-related subjects like this one. I am not suggesting anything I wouldn’t do myself, and not prescribing or pushing any drugs or agendas. And while we can’t all look like Hollywood movie stars, at least we can try our best to be healthy and well with the life we have. Thank you.

Now back to the editorial.

I quit eating bread, pasta, and all that more than 10 years ago after reading Suzanne Somers’ first books that discussed her Somersizing diet plan. Only on rare occasions would I have something with wheat, usually at a party, or something from Taco Bell or Taco Cabana. (Sorry. Mexican food is a weakness.) Hate to call Somersizing a “diet” because it’s more of a way of eating, but. . .the food was good, and it made sense after years of “low fat” and “low calorie” that ended up not doing much but leaving me starving–and didn’t keep the weight off. Once in a while, I’d have something, like at a restaurant, a party, or the occasional wedding. (You know I’m not missing wedding or birthday cake, right? Ditto for a really tasty looking cupcake.) But as a rule, I just didn’t have bread or pasta around anymore, and didn’t have it on a regular basis.

When I did the yeast-free diet, where you avoid anything that would turn to sugar and feed yeast in your system, the hardest thing was to give up dairy, but I did it, and am only now starting to eat cheese again. Not a lot, and not like I used to, but occasionally, like in the Wheat Belly Biscuits I made recently.

Of course, while reading these books and seeing milk, butter and cheese discussed in the book and used in the recipes, all I could think of was, “I can has cheez?” Oh, BOY!! I’ve started buying cheese and milk again, sometimes. Not gallons of milk, just quart bottles, or even a bit larger. Inexpensive chunks of cheddar, Colby and Swiss. (No Manchego yet.)

I will tell you that when you avoid high starch things like flour, or potato, and then have some, you get a strong reaction when you “try a little.” Last time I did was a couple of months ago. One of my neighbors, ironically, works for a large medical complex in the Houston area. Her department had a public outreach activity after work which involved food. She brought me some of it sometimes, not a lot, but them lemon bars were lip-smacking good. One lemon bar, or one little bite of cheesecake, no big deal. Even a couple of cookies were fine. Recently, she brought these little square chicken empanadas. OMG–they were perfectly baked squares of dough with a chicken and poblano mixture inside. They were SOOO GOOD! I think there were about 8 or 9. I had a couple when she brought them home, along with some of that incredible crab dip, but decided to save the rest for breakfast the next morning. Good idea, right? Well. . . .

I put them in the toaster oven, and when they were nice and toasty, I ate them, one by one. Then I sat down to do morning prayers. And after 20 minutes, I had to lay down and sleep. HAD TO. Could NOT stay awake. I slept for over 2 hours (probably close to 3) and kept having really weird dreams. Not only was I going to England with a weird guy I used to work with, and seeing myself go through the TSA line, (never in real life, OK?) I kept hearing my own voice behind me say, “You really need to get up now.” But I could. Not. Wake. Up.

There is no other explanation than the insulin spike from the white flour, which I normally avoid. I will avoid it the rest of my life. I was tired like I’d stayed out all night, when in fact, I hadn’t. Much as I appreciated the treats–which were very delicious, of course–eating them first thing in the morning was not a good idea.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had such a thing happen. Back in the day when I started doing SugarBusters (along with everyone else in New Orleans), I’d been doing it about three months, and was married for about a year or so. We went to my parents’ for Thanksgiving, and my dear Grandmother brought something she called “Ambrosia.” I didn’t know what it was, but boy, did she insist that I eat some. Trust me, I didn’t need any, and I tried not to eat any. (Do YOU tell your Grandmother no? Me either. Eventually you give in.)  It was so good, I had seconds. (A small bowl, I promise.) On the way home, thank heavens I wasn’t driving–I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I threw the passenger seat back and was out like a light quickly, seriously upsetting the husband unit. I could barely walk up the stairs to our apartment–I was that wiped out, and I had no alcohol at all. I staggered to bed and slept for 3 or 4 hours. I was OK until I had that Ambrosia stuff. He was actually MAD at me for going to sleep like that, but honest, I really couldn’t help it. Later, I called my Grandmother and asked her what was in it. “Cool Whip, dried fruit. . .” in other words, it was just about pure sugar. Being off sugar for some time, then having that much of it was like taking a sleeping pill after the huge insulin hit.

Not doing that again.

I’ve occasionally embraced whole wheat since reading Suzanne Somers’ books, but not often, because of the high carb count. All flour-based food products like bread and pasta, as well as corn, potatoes, carrots, beets and others have a lot of carb in them, which breaks down to sugar in your blood stream, so I just don’t touch them (and, I hate beets anyway.) So when I first saw the book, I figured Dr. Davis was just talking about the high carb count, sugar/empty calories and all that.

Boy was I wrong. SO glad I finally read this book.

Dr. William Davis describes a legion of maladies that are directly tied to our modern genetically modified wheat–arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, acne, osteoporosis (modern medicine tells us it’s our estrogen or lack thereof) and even mental illnesses can result from GMO wheat. Not a joke–but most doctors won’t look for it, they’ll just medicate the symptoms. It’s not just celiac disease–and many people who have this sensitivity and other symptoms of it don’t always have celiac disease, either.

Yesterday, the deaths of three public figures were announced: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, actress and original Mousketeer Annette Funicello, and socialite-turned-fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer. Now, most people assume that celebrities and “famous people” have access to the best healthcare in the world. That’s not necessarily true, they may just pay more. Now, I can’t answer for any of the deceased, (no cause of death was released for Mrs. Pulitzer), but any one of these ladies may very well have been helped by no longer eating wheat at some point before various maladies appeared. Annette Funicello would likely embrace the absence of wheat, since she lived in California, and she may have. The other two, maybe or maybe not–who knows, right? But the compounded health problems of many years come together at one point and manifest as one thing. In Mrs. Thatcher’s case, it was a stroke (and not the first one) was what ultimately got the Iron Lady. Annette Funicello had multiple sclerosis (MS) and died from complications–it develops over time, hence the possible wheat connection. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific cause, many so-called “chronic conditions” are a manifestation of many causes, like junk food, drinking too much and excess sugar eventually turns into Type 2 diabetes. That’s the obvious, but other conditions aren’t that way, like arthritis, which Dr. Davis discusses in depth.

In other words, after years of eating this science-project-gone-wild-thing they call “wheat,” the effects accumulate and do damage–sometimes permanent, like brain damage. It doesn’t come out of the air, there is a specific cause for something showing up at a certain point in the future. His patients who cut out wheat are surprised to see many seemingly unrelated conditions, like skin rashes, clear up when they stop wheat.

Wheat’s toxicity can do the same thing–one symptom over here, another trigger over there, and you find yourself in a health crisis that “comes on suddenly.” Could be a heart attack. Could be a stroke. I’m not presuming to know that much about these three women to say for sure. What I am saying is that after reading this book and assimilating the subject, many symptoms, problems and diseases can be cleared up or even avoided completely by the elimination and total absence of wheat and the so-called “whole grains.” No drugs or special equipment needed.

Yes, I know, we’re all going to die eventually.

But why live with chronic sickness when you don’t have to?

As I mentioned in my first post, this is not the same wheat from biblical times, or that our grandmothers and even mothers had. For the last 40 years or so, wheat has been tampered with, gene-spliced, and mutated into something that doesn’t even resemble natural (called “einkorn”) wheat on a cellular/molecular level. It’s not the same thing on any level, but it’s still referred to as “wheat.”

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to eat if wheat-based foods are cut out of your diet. (There are, in some people, actual withdrawal symptoms due to the opiate-like effect of this wheat.) Concentrate on what you can have rather than what you can’t, and focus on discovering new ways to have what you used to. You’re eating real food, and there are splurges involved. Dr. Davis and his wife obviously worked hard on these recipes, and the results are obvious when you try it, like the biscuit mentioned earlier.

You can eat some good stuff, it just takes a bit of an open mind and learning about it. But if you discover that you really are allergic to wheat, having “just a little” will teach you a lesson you’ll not soon forget. Ask anyone who *is* allergic. (No, luckily, I’m not.)

In the Wheat Belly cookbook, there is a flaxseed wrap on page 231 that you mix up in a few minutes and make in a pie plate in the microwave. I’ve only bought flaxseeds once, and that was for a sewing project! These pancake-like wraps are absolutely delicious, and I’ve made and eaten probably a dozen since last week. Pair them with the salmon salad on page 125, which uses CANNED salmon, (and homemade olive oil mayo), and you’ve got a great lunch, gluten free, and completely tasty. OMG. I could make a meal out of a couple of those. Who needs bread?

Ooh. . .I could turn that wrap batter into pancakes and make some Agave Maple Syrup from the second Babycakes book. . .OMG, brain’s firing on all cylinders. Holy Shish Kebab–look out!

Anyway. . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I found another related cookbook in Central Market–The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. It’s beautifully illustrated with some additional good recipes in it, and has some additional options for gluten-free living. (This too is available on Kindle.)

OK, I know, I shouldn’t have bought it. I splurged. (I promise not to do that again.) But take a look at that cake on the cover and you’ll see why I couldn’t leave it. Besides, it was 25% off the cover price in Central Market. (My tax refund came in, OK?)

One thing I was disappointed in is the recommendation of Splenda (sucralose), which is something I won’t touch. They also list Stevia Extract in the Raw, and New Roots Stevia; I’ll try those when I get to it and let you know how they work. (Dr. Davis uses Splenda as a condition of cutting out other stuff, but I still won’t buy it.)

I baked a loaf of what the authors call “Stout Bread” on page 38, which uses less expensive garbanzo bean flour instead of a nut flour. While the raw batter tasted kinda funky, the final bread was warm and delicious, and I need to make me another loaf because I have killed all 12 thick slices of it since the weekend. It stands up to toasting and butter, and you really feel like you’re eating Texas Toast, hence the name “stout.” There is no beer in it, just a really firm texture that makes it filling and delicious. (Hey. . .I wonder if I can make French toast with it? All the synapses are firing again!)

So what happens when you go out of your safe little kitchen? Lemme tell ya. . .yesterday, I was in downtown Houston and stopped in Starbucks on Smith Street, the Safe Haven With Food. I asked, and there was only one thing that was any kind of gluten/wheat-free. That was something called Two Moms In The Raw, a little 2 ounce bar called “Blueberry Granola” that cost more than I’d like to disclose here, but was indeed gluten free. It does have gluten free oats in it, and everything is organic. (Even Starbucks’ “protein plate” has a small cracker and honey-sweetened peanut butter.) This bar was not bad, but it is a bit on the high side. Sweet, but not overly so, and very, very crunchy. I was very early for my appointment, and just needed a quick bite before I went. You can read more at their their website.

This was my first adventure trying to be deliberately gluten free outside of my own regular cooking, but there are a number of ways to find gluten free recipes online, just pick yourself a website. Do a search on Martha Stewart’s website for a start, and find something. Foodnetwork.com will likely have some too, but. . .prowl around and find something. There are a number of sites that are devoted to gluten-free as well, just do a quick search and find one or two you like.

One warning that Dr. Davis makes repeatedly is that many products marked “gluten free” are not necessarily suitable–which is why reading labels is an essential part of taking care of yourself. (That’s true generally, but especially if you’re sensitive to soy like I am, or wheat like my friend BR is.) When wheat flour is removed, they have to replace it with something else, so it’s either cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch or tapioca starch–all of which will trigger that glucose-insulin response, causing you to gain weight (Page 72.)

Back when I did low-fat, I used to chow down on all those fat-free foods. Guess what? Didn’t help. When they take out the fat, they replace it with sugar, salt and other chemical additives that give it taste and something called “mouth feel.”  So while the fat was low, and maybe the calories were low, the carbohydrate impact made it worse than eating the “regular” food, if you can believe that. I’ve actually seen “unleaded” versions of stuff that had more calories than the “regular” ones.

And, if you go strictly by calories, you could theoretically eat candy bars all day and lose weight and be healthy. But, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. WAY more complicated.

This is an important subject for a lot of people, and that’s why I’ve been working on it sort of part-time to do a complete assessment. Needless to say, I’ve got no problem giving up wheat, since I really did it already. But if you’re suffering with chronic health conditions, and you’re on that “whole grain” thing, give it a try and see if something changes. I think Dr. Davis tells his patients 90 days. Really, it takes a little getting used to, but once you are used to it, no big deal.

But what have you got to lose? Illness? Excess weight? Allergies? Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but what would be the harm in trying it?

Besides–I want to keep my readers around to keep reading my long, rambling essays. This is my longest yet, but the topic is important, so I made sure I said enough.

Now go read this book and give up wheat, and find something healthy and delicious that you just can’t get enough of.

Happy Dining!