I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend whom I admire greatly, not only does she have 4 boys, yep, FOUR, but they are four of the most well-mannered, respectful kids you will ever meet. Sometimes I think about asking her if I can pick her kids up from practice, just so I can hang out with them. This is the same friend who prompted me to write an article about Celiac disease a couple of weeks ago because she has been recently diagnosed with it. Celiac is an adverse reaction to gluten, the protein found in wheat which affects the body’s absorption of nutrients. To put it in simple terms, when a person with celiac eats gluten, the gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine and leads to destruction of the villi in the lining of the small intestine. Villi are the little “fingers” that absorb nutrients from food, so if those have been cut short, they cannot absorb nutrients, which we need desperately!
Luckily, Celiac disease can be treated without any drugs or medical attention; a lifelong gluten free diet is the only know treatment. While doing research, my friend has found that MANY things have gluten in them that we would have never guessed, from hotdogs to non-dairy creamer and many things in between. She said that her whole life she has had headaches, but since she has cut gluten from her diet the headaches have gone away. Other than headaches and a “foggy” feeling she felt after eating starchy foods, my friend didn’t have any recognizable symptoms, but the symptoms she has were enough cause for concern. Other symptoms of celiac include gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, fatigue, joint pain, delayed growth in children, failure to thrive in infants, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and migraines. That’s a long list, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find something that makes you think you have celiac disease, but don’t get too worried yet. One way to find out if you’ve got some kind of gluten sensitivity, without going to the doctor and getting the lining of your small intestine scraped, is to go without gluten for a while (like 2 weeks) and see if your symptoms go away, and then if they return with the re-introduction of gluten into your diet.
Personally, I feel a lot better without gluten in my diet, I have more energy, I never feel “heavy” after eating, as if there is a brick of bread of pasta in my belly. I don’t know if that means I have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, but it seems easy enough to correct so I’ll just stick with my gluten free diet anyways. Eating a gluten free diet is as simple as following the paleolithic or primal way of eating; meats, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and some starch. And if that sounds too difficult, give it a try and you’ll find you can be completely satisfied without your bread, cookies, or pasta (after you get over the addiction to the sugar rush).
We spent the better part of the afternoon watching the Food Network, probably because she felt bad that I didn’t have cable and let me watch whatever I wanted. I love to watch and get ideas for meals or think of ways to make their recipes without the flour and sugar. While we were watching, we decided to try to come up with our own recipe for lunch. We had shrimp, asparagus, a red pepper, a cucumber, feta cheese, mint, and tomato, so we mixed it all up to create a light-summer-like salad, all the while it was snowing outside! It turned out great and I plan on making it again this week!
Feta Makes the Weatha’ Betta’ Salad
1. Put a small pot of water on to boil.
2. Chop all of your vegetables into chunks,( including the asparagus into about 1 inch pieces).
3. When the water is boiling, drop the asparagus into the pot for about 1 minute and drain the water.
4. Clean the tails off the shrimp and throw them into a bowl with all of the vegetables.
5. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, honey, and some salt and pepper to create the dressing (taste it to make sure you like it!)
6. Pour the dressing over the veggies and shrimp, then add the feta cheese and some very finely sliced mint (don’t go overboard with the mint).
7. Fold the salad together and EAT IT! Eat it all if you want! It’s packed full of vegetables and protein packed shrimp and some great fats from the olive oil and antioxidants from the balsamic vinegar.
If your family is afraid of asparagus, you could cut it up into smaller bites so it’s not so distinguishable, or just tell them to put on their big kid panties and deal with it. Or, you could be nicer than I am and fill the salad with vegetables you know they like…but at least promise to throw SOMETHING new in there. Please?!?
Happy Saturday, go and workout and then come back and eat this healthy salad for dinner…