Tag Archives: Gluten Free

Blueberries: From Picking to Eating

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Muffins

This past month marked the height of blueberry season here in North Florida. We have three bushes in our yard, but the late frost killed most of the berries on the vine. Fortunately, we found a u-pick blueberry farm right outside of town.

Picking

Robby went to school with Jen, who owns Myrtle Creek Farm along with her husband Scott. It was nice to visit with them and see their beautiful farm, filled with blueberry trees, blackberry bushes, and even a pear tree. They lost a lot of berries to the late frost this year, too, but they still had plenty for us to pick!

Even though we have our own blueberry trees, Jen told me something I never knew: they only ripen on the vine. That means you have to pick them at their peak (dark blue). If you pick them early (when they’re still pinkish), they won’t continue to ripen on the counter or in the fridge. Their technique? “Tickle” the berries. If they fall off the vine, they’re sweet and ready to eat.

FreezingBlueberries_1

Now, Robby and I can’t possibly eat two quarts of berries before they go bad, so we freeze them to enjoy throughout the year. The trick to this is to lay the berries on a small sheet pan and then set the pan in the freezer. That way, each berry will freeze individually, and you won’t end up with a solid mass of blue ice. Once frozen, scoop the berries into freezer-safe bags and return them to the freezer.

Mary Frances’ Cobbler

Cobbler

Nothing beats my mother-in-law’s cobbler. Seriously, I can eat so much of this stuff that I make myself sick. It’s that good.

When I stopped eating wheat, one of the first things I did was figure out how to make this cobbler gluten-free. The good news is that it’s easily altered, and it tastes even better without wheat flour!

Click here to download a printable recipe card.

Banana-Blueberry Muffins

My new favorite muffin is banana-blueberry. They have just the right amount of sweetness, and they smell like heaven when they’re heated up. If you don’t have time to make these from scratch, there are some great mixes available. I’ve tried a couple gluten-free options, and both were delicious.

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The King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Muffin Mix is a basic vanilla mix, but it has a great flavor. You’ll need to add one or two soft bananas and a cup of blueberries. The batch always makes several more muffins than it promises, which is really nice. If you prefer, you can use a small loaf pan instead of muffin cups.

Robby recently picked up a box of Simple Mills Banana Muffin & Bread Mix. It has far less carbs than the King Arthur mix because it uses coconut sugar. In total, the mix has only seven ingredients, including dried bananas. Just mix in a few blueberries. I got 11 nice-sized muffins out of this mix.Muffin_SM_1

If you have leftover muffins—and that’s a big IF—throw them in a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze them for later. They’re great for breakfast or dessert!

Do you have a blueberry recipe you’d like to share? Please post it in the comments.

Thank you!

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Healthy Living

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Healthy Living

I’ve always been rather slender. From high school to my late twenties, I took that as a license to eat whatever I wanted – hamburgers, fries, pizza – you name it, I ate it.

Like most college students, I tried to balance a day job with nights filled with homework, and years full of one change after another. It wasn’t surprising that I was tired much of the time, but I became concerned when the fatigue outweighed my energy and I began to have persistent pain in my arms and legs.

God’s Intervention

Fortunately, God gave me the strength to persevere, culminating in a graduate degree and a professional career. I then met Robby, and we were married in 2011. But just as everything was coming together on a personal level, my health continued to deteriorate. Doctors kept pushing medicine, but I wasn’t able to take any of it, and I didn’t feel it was right for me, anyway.

Once again, God intervened and led me to a chiropractor in town who specializes in nutritional care. It was there that I learned that I am…drum roll please…sensitive to wheat gluten and sugar! I know, it seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? It turned out that my health problems were a result of my body trying to process food that it simply wasn’t able to handle. All those years of eating whatever I wanted had caught up with me.

The Decision

For me, it was a no-brainer to stop eating those things that were harmful. I felt like a new person within three days of avoiding gluten, and even better when I reduced my sugar intake, eventually switching out my sweet tea to unsweet. I now have more energy and better overall health than I’ve ever had. I’ve made a lifelong decision to eat those foods that are healthful and to avoid those that harm me – a decision I reaffirm every time I take a bite.

You may be wondering how Robby has taken all of this. Well, it turned out he’s sensitive to gluten, as well, though not to the same extent as I am. Early on, he offered to eat whatever I ate, helping us to avoid preparing two different meals every night. Sometimes he reaches for a “glutinous” dessert, but he readily agrees that our new diet has benefitted his health as well as mine.

As Robby and I have shared our story with folks, we’ve been amazed how many people tell us they have experienced something similar. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe wheat is “bad.” In fact, the Bible tells us God made it (along with everything else), and the New Testament records Jesus and His disciples eating it. However, there are a lot of studies out there that indicate the wheat varieties readily available to us here in the US are not the same as they were thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago. Add to that the impact of modern pesticides, and we’ve got a food product that many of our bodies can’t process easily. 

Start Off Right

I’m telling you all of this to encourage you to be healthy, regardless of where you are in life.

If you’re healthy now, good! But it takes effort to stay that way. Many healthy people still consider themselves under some kind of stress, whether it’s starting a new semester, dealing with family issues, or staying up nights with a new baby. Stress in your life means stress in your body.

The first thing we want to do when we’re stressed is to skimp on regular, nutritious meals. We also head for the pastries and pastas because they give us a quick (and cheap) sugar rush. However, I caution you against this “just fill me up now” mentality.

Instead, plan ahead so you have good foods available to grab in a rush. I keep gluten-free Kashi or Kind bars in my purse at all times. See below for other snack suggestions.

Also, stop and think about the messages your body is sending you. Do you get sick or sluggish after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day? Does your nose run or your sinuses drain after eating? Are you able to eliminate waste easily every day?

If you have any concerns, be your own advocate! Western medical doctors aren’t trained in nutrition. (I know, it’s crazy but it’s true!) Do your own research of nutritional topics from various resources so you can formulate your own opinions and decide what kind of diet works best for you. Be sure to take into consideration your personal taste, habits, budget, and commitment. And, if one is available to you, see someone trained in nutrition for more information and support.

(Disclaimer: I am a student of the Bible, not a doctor. My testimony is real, but my medical degree is not.)

Scales don’t tell the whole story. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Scales don’t tell the whole story. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Don’t Give Up

Second, if you’re dealing with health issues now, take heart! I believe my story is proof that God does work miracles.

Yes, sometimes God heals in an instant – and don’t we all want that kind? But often He calls upon His people to help one another, to act as a doctor or a counselor for someone else. How gracious is God that He would allow us to be the method to carry out his healing!

In my case, my doctor and his partner are both wonderful Christians, and God has used them to lead me down a healthy path so I could be well. This has enabled me to live a whole life; have a full, happy marriage; and have enough energy to write this little blog to you after working all day at the office.

Keep praying for your healing, and be open to whatever method God may use to get you there. No matter how the healing comes, we give God the glory!

Food Suggestions

From time to time, I’ll post some gluten-free recipes here that you might find useful. In the meantime, here’s a short list of some of the basics Robby and I eat during the week (and we love all of them!):

  • Eggs, bacon or sausage, and a bit of fruit for breakfast
  • Stir fry on rice (we like it with turkey kielbasa)
  • Chicken and yellow rice with black beans (one of my favs!)
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (using gluten-free bread crumbs in the meatloaf)
  • Baked fish, especially wild-caught salmon
  • Beef or pork pot roast with veggies
  • Taco salad (see my blog Serving Taco Salads for the recipe)
  • Taco soup
  • Sausage and bean soup
  • Leftovers for lunch (There ain’t nothing wrong with that!)

For a morning snack, I like Greek yogurt with sunflower seeds. My 3-o’clock “gotta stay awake” snack is usually apples with cheese and gluten-free crackers or almond butter. The key is to include a protein with each meal, especially since gluten-free flours may spike the blood sugar more than wheat flour. However, when I’m on the run I’ll grab a Kind snack bar made of fruit and nuts or a Kashi bar made of popped rice and chocolate.

Resource Suggestions

Gut and Psychology Symptom introduces the GAPS diet. This was more extreme than even I needed, but it’s a great background resource and helps to explain the various functions of the body and why certain foods might trigger a negative response. By Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD of neurology and nutrition.

Fiber Menace explains the author’s theory about how products with supplemental or man-made fiber cause dysfunctions and diseases of the gut. I’ve had my gall bladder removed, so I have some experience with this myself. By Konstantin Monastyrsky.

Scripture References

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NAS  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

James 5:16, NAS  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.