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New Blog Address

Hello everyone! I’ve been quiet here lately b/c I’ve been working on a new blog site which I can’t wait to share with you. I started Spice of Life Blog right after finishing grad school when I just wanted a place to write again in a way that wasn’t in the grad school genre and reclaim my personal voice. Now I’m ready to start putting more time into a blog and although I thought about just reworking this space a bit, it quickly became clear I needed a new look, new categories, new everything, and so instead of a remodel, I guess I’m moving houses. I so hope you’ll join me!

Much like this one, my new blog will be about herbs, food intolerances (both managing and healing them), essential oils, natural foods/products, and green beauty. In the future I hope to have links to other herbalists and wellness practitioners around the world as a kind of virtual healing center resource. I also intend to offer herbal classes and tutorials there as well, and perhaps even some products. This is just the beginning and I hope to see you there at my new site, Botanical Alchemy & Apothecary. Please subscribe and let me know what you think about the new look. I’m still in the setting up phase and welcome suggestions.

XOXO, Kristen

PS~ If you know anyone else who is interested in herbs, essential oils, food intolerances, natural foods and products, and green beauty, please share the address: www.botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com with them. I can’t wait to have a community of like-minded people sharing ideas and growing and learning together.

Happy October everyone!

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celiac disease · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf bread · gf foods · gluten free · gluten free bread · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free travel · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · vegetarian

Gluten-Free in Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin was a surprisingly easy place to accommodate food intoleraces and allergies. We found the food there to be fresh, healthy, and enlightened, as in menus marked with gluten information or restaurants having Paleo picks (not that we eat Paleo but it is generally gluten-free) and one even celebrating a month of the Paleo diet by offering an entire menu devoted to it. This restaurant, Saba, was right around the corner from our hotel and I could have ordered many things off their menu without having to worry about gluten. When we ate there we ordered rice with our pick which is decidedly un-caveman-ish, so we weren’t beholden to the Paleo diet thankfully, and got an excellent meal out of it.

Another place right around the corner from our hotel was our favorite restaurant of all, a healthy little breakfast, lunch, brunch place called Cocu. There are three locations and it looks like they are even open for dinner at one of two of those places so there are plenty of options for checking it out. Their menus are simple although a little hard to describe so I encourage you to look at them yourself and be inspired. Maybe so inspired that you open up your own version of their tagline “A Healthy Obsession”, and if so, please let it be within 15 minutes of Redmond, Washington because we truly were obsessed and it’s one of the first things I missed when we got back home. Basically, the main lunch items are these bowls where you choose your meat or vegetarian main which is cooked with certain spices/sauces/veggies to complement it, then add two sides such as mixed greens or rice or sweet potatoes or something else, then add a topping such as seeds, nuts, or herbs. It’s all in a big bowl together and works every time, no matter the combination. They also have soups, wraps (not gluten-free), and hot pots which is something like red lentil curry over rice and you add tofu or chicken which was my favorite dish there. Anyway, I could go on because I haven’t even started on the coffee bar area, breakfast items, or side pastries which included many gluten-free items, but unless you are in Dublin right now and can check it out yourself, there’s no point in sharing any more of the obsession.

It’d be a shame to go to Ireland and not get fish n’ chips, and luckily Beshoff Brothers has us gluten-free gourmands covered. This is not a fancy place, just as a proper fish n’ chips place should not be, but it was clean and bright and their gluten-free menu had onion rings on it which I can’t recall seeing anywhere ever before this place. This wasn’t our healthiest meal but it actually wasn’t overly greasy and we both were quite satisfied with our meals, (not gf for my husband, gf for me).

You can even have your sandwich cravings easily satisfied at O’Briens Sandwich cafes. They can make you a sandwich on gluten-free bread which also happens to be egg free, dairy free, and soy free. (Yay!) They use a brand called BFree which isn’t carried in my neck of the woods (yet) but I hope it’s coming soon because they have pita bread which is so hard to find. Do be aware that if you want your sandwich toasted though, it is toasted in the same oven as the traditional breads. I did have mine toasted and felt perfectly fine for the record, but you have to judge for yourself your own level of sensitivity. There are plenty of O’Briens around Ireland so you aren’t ever too far from a sandwich which is a nice change of pace.

Another restaurant that my husband and I found ourselves returning to the very next day after a fantastic dinner and ordering the exact same meals as the night before is Balfes.  They have plenty of gluten-free options and the food is fresh and delicious. I had a salad with chicken on it that used guacamole instead of dressing and oh my gosh, why haven’t I done that before?! It was brilliantly executed and my husband loved his meal also. We even thought about going there for a third night in a row but ended up just being too lazy.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has plenty of gluten free options in their ‘food hall’. They do have a section of gluten-free items such as pastas, cakes, breads, granola, etc, but I only bought the granola because their baked goods all have egg in them. They have a lot more to offer though in their prepared foods sections which seemed to make up about the entire store. I’ve never seen so many individually wrapped meals in my life~ Trader Joe’s has been way outdone. My husband and I got breakfast from there several times and take-away dinner at least once. He was especially fond of the place and kept saying things like, “Look at that lettuce! It’s practically standing up it’s so fresh! It’s like it’s trying to get our attention by waving it’s arms and saying ‘pick me!'”. The fresh produce there did seem exceptionally vibrant considering it was January and I wasn’t aware that Ireland had a robust winter farming industry. I still don’t know what the deal is with their produce~ if it’s grown in greenhouses or imported from somewhere else on some wicked fast plane or what, but they have a good thing going though however they are managing it. Also, I should say that before going I had the impression M&S would be extremely expensive but we found their prices to be quite affordable which was a definite plus.

There are health food stores called Nourish around Dublin that have gluten-free options such as crackers, cookies, etc. The one I went into on Grafton Street didn’t have a huge selection but I did buy some crackers and chocolates from there which were tasty. But here’s a warning to take to heart~ if you rely on melatonin to help reset your body clock and beat jet lag, bring your own because we were told at Nourish that it is illegal to sell it in all of Ireland.  Fortunately I did bring some along but we were hoping to get more there and were sorely out of luck. What does Ireland have against melatonin? Another mystery to solve I guess.

Before going to Dublin I found a lovely listing of restaurants that are gluten-free friendly. I was so thrilled with finding it but in all honesty I didn’t have to go back to it often because it seemed everywhere I checked out had gf options. I made it a habit to look at every menu that I passed just to see how gf friendly it was and I found Dublin as a whole to be extremely aware and accommodating on that front as well as on all fronts really. It was a friendly, polite, energetic, and open place that I hope to return to soon and maybe get a chance to see the countryside a bit. If you are wondering where to take your next big vacation and gluten matters feel like a confinement, rest assured that Dublin will embrace you and your gluten issues with open arms and fantastic food.

One last thing to mention, before going I made sure to request gluten-free foods for our Delta airlines flights. They actually did a great job with the meals and I always got mine before they delivered the other passengers’ meals so I never had to wonder if they’d remember or not. I actually couldn’t even eat all the food they brought me which always included fresh fruit and/or salad which is so nice to have on a long flight. I was impressed.

To see more pics, check out my instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/dragonlilyherbs/ and please comment below on any experiences you have had in traveling through Ireland~ I’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

 

 

children · ecology · Education · food · Food allergies · gf foods · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerant · health · kids · modern life

Comfort Food

Today….there is not enough chocolate.

The sun still rose, but it shone on a country that has disappointed me to the core.

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I am not a political person, and I don’t care to write a political blog, but I am a person with a big heart for humans, animals, and the earth, and that heart is very, very broken today.

Tonight, I’m breaking out the boxed mac n cheese. The deluxe version. deluxe-rice-pasta-extra-cheesy-cheddar-sauce

I actually add more (jovial) noodles to Annie’s boxes b/c the cheese is more than enough for the eager mouths here. I’m roasting broccoli and serving smoked salmon too, just because comfort doesn’t have to mean lack of healthy options. We can have balance. We can have balance. And wine of course.

And dessert all around, because I swear, just like in Harry Potter books, chocolate really does make one feel better.

 

gluten intolerance · health · kids · slow food · vegetarian

Autumn

instagramcapture_460ae8b0-0173-4a9a-96e3-560b3d0085171This year has somehow slipped right into November while I was still adjusting to the fact summer was truly over. Although the dry, warmer months of summer are what my body most craves, the foggy, darker days of fall resonate with my spirit in ways that almost make up for the rain-soaked months ahead. instagramcapture_54b526bf-d536-47d0-a907-c56053e64d971Everyone seems a bit more introspective this time of year, right before the frenetic pace of the Holiday season really kicks into high gear. Wouldn’t it be nice to take the quiet right through the season of hubbub? Every year I try not to get caught up in it all. One year I focused on only buying from local retailers or independent artists and artisans (all hail etsy!) and another year I tried to reduce the gift exchanges all together. It’s hard though~ especially with kids. If anyone has words of wisdom, please share! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of autumn in my little corner of the world.~

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I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween without too many food intolerance issues. Relax and enjoy a week or two of quiet before planning Thanksgiving’s menu. I made this recipe last night and I still wish it could be our Thanksgiving main course, but some of the eaters here prefer the more traditional foods. It was terribly good with guacamole all over it though… I guess it’ll just have to be a normal weeknight meal forevermore.

 

 

 

Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free food · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · low-FODMAPs

Wheat~ is it the Gluten or the FODMAPs

More and more people are finding digestive relief from avoiding wheat, and yet some of those people are not finding all the relief they wished for. This might be because instead of gluten being the issue, which is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley, it might actually be the carbs of wheat, which fall under the FODMAPs acronym. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are molecules in certain carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting. Wheat is one of the culprits but other items which fall under the FODMAPs category are beans, many dairy products, some fruits like apples and apricots, and a variety of vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. For a complete list, check out Fodmaplife.com but before checking it out you should know two things: 1. the list is extensive and can be overwhelming at first glance, but don’t let it deter you because 2. not everyone reacts to all the items the same. When you start to explore if you are one of the people whose digestive issues stem from FODMAPs, you will need to limit all foods high in FODMAPs, but you then can start adding some back into your diet and experiment with what really bothers your personal system and what can actually be tolerated and at what doses. So, in other words, the list is not a list of foods you can never eat again, think of it merely as a starting point.

An easy way to experiment with this and take the guess work out of your meal planning is to try Delicious Living’s Low FODMAP Menus for a Week. They have put together meals that avoid all the high FODMAP foods and instead focus on healthy foods that are easy on the digestive tract. I mentioned this in my last post and here’s a preview of what you will find on the week plan:

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If you have gone gluten-free and have found some relief but not total relief, it is worth a week of effort to try low-FODMAP eating to see if you can’t be healthier (and therefore happier). Time to go shopping~

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alternative medicine · celiac disease · children · cleansing · dairy free · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerant · health · Herbs · kids

Candida’s Role in Food Sensitivities and Allergies

I’ve been thinking about candida overgrowth lately because of several reasons. One of those reasons is that I’ve lately let my youngest intentionally eat gluten twice to see how he handles it. So far I haven’t seen any issues, but I’m keeping a close eye on him. The reason my kids were tested for food intolerances is because I have such a bad reaction to gluten, but as for them, their reactions were more subtle and not necessarily the gluten. My oldest used to complain about an upset tummy all the time~ almost every day it didn’t feel right. Once he was off all the things he was found to be sensitive to, including gluten and dairy, his stomach issues went away. He can now eat everything that he was once intolerant to, except we haven’t tried him on gluten b/c the naturopath thought that was his main issue. My youngest on the other hand, had less intolerances in general, but a higher sensitivity to dairy. She thought his main issue might be dairy instead of gluten, though he tested intolerant to both (and not much else.) He didn’t complain about stomach issues as much as he had cheeks that were constantly red and bumpy, and bouts of constipation. (If he ever reads this he’ll be furious I just shared that!) He now seems to handle dairy fine, which is why I thought he could try gluten. It’s all just trial and error and figuring out what’s going to best support optimal health, which is why I thought I should probably take a look again at Candida, because a candida overgrowth is bad on its own, and most people don’t even know when they have an overgrowth, but not only that, an overgrowth can actually cause food intolerances and allergies. So, if I want to cure these intolerances of my boys and mine, which I do, then I need to check and make sure our guts are able to support these troublesome foods and that has everything to do with the microbiome.

The simple way to think about it is that candida (which everyone has) can start growing in numbers that cause an imbalance in the digestive system, and when that happens, whether caused by a round of antibiotics, a diet too rich in sugars and processed foods, or any other reason then the candida population can explode. If you have ever had a yeast infection or jock itch, then you have experienced candida getting out of control, and if it made it to one of those places, you can be fairly certain you have too much in your gut, and quite possibly a systemic situation throughout your body. So how does this relate to food intolerances and allergies? Candida can cause leaky gut syndrome, where larger molecules of food can pass through the holes in the gut. These bits of food are too large for the body to recognize outside of the gut, so the immune system kicks in to fight the invader. The offending food becomes ‘labeled’ as bad, so the body reacts to it badly. In this way, food can often go from an intolerance to a full on allergy (with a full immune response). When you stop eating an offending food for a few months, or years as is our case here, then the body forgets that it needs to react badly to it, and if the digestive tract has had a chance to heal in the meantime, so much the better. Probiotics are essential. Now that my kids have had a few years to rid their body of intolerance reactions and have taken daily probiotics (always changing the brand every time we get new bottles~ that’s important too! Not a time for brand loyalty b/c the microbiome is incredibly diverse and all those brands use different probiotics so you get the most diversity by switching up what you use.) My kids seem to be doing pretty well but I do notice that my oldest son’s stomach has a tendency to still bloat very easily. I certainly know the feeling! This is indeed a candida symptom, though can also be a symptom of other things of course, but this particular kiddo used to have a bad issue with yeast and a doctor had him on Nystatin for about six months or even longer, so I know he has the tendency towards candida overgrowth. Before he tries gluten, he’ll have to do some kind of candida cleanse. And as for me, my issues have gone on for decades instead of the small amount of years my sons’ issues have, so I know it is going to take much longer for me. But I do think I’ll get there. It’ll take more work, and a lot more time, but I do think food intolerance can be beaten. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and if there is a path the intolerance traveled to become fully present, it makes sense that one can reverse the path.

By the way, there are tons of great articles on candida overgrowth out there, and how to fight it and how to know if you have it. Just do a quick search and you’ll be inundated. To get you started, here’s one I recently read: Candida info.

ecology · modern life · slow food

Thanksgiving in December

I had to wait to write this post because November is my least favorite month of the year, and Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays either. Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating gratitude. Gratitude, if done right, can enhance one’s life in an instant, and nothing has longer lasting results than a true change in perspective, which gratitude truly does, in the deepest way possible. I try to practice sincere thanks-giving everyday~ it’s the holiday meal that bothers me. And the pressure to cook, and to cook certain things, and the whole push/pull that is happening now with Christmas and when shopping should start and it all leaves me stressed. (Why do people get so rankled over that? Because it is something that they can adopt a sense of superiority about? ) Personally, I never go out on black Friday, nor that whole weekend because I loathe crowds and would rather pay more for my gifts than sit in traffic, but the whole discussion around it just seems laced with venom and I don’t understand why everything has to be so heated. We have real issues to deal with, (climate change, poverty, extreme ideology), so let’s not get bogged down in complaining about what others do with their Black Fridays and what time is acceptable to do it. If people really want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps righteous indignation should be put aside for the day.

Anyway, that was an unplanned vent, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. The real reason I don’t care much for Thanksgiving is that I don’t like any of the traditional food served on the holiday so the big event is just awkward for me and always has been. Now with three out of four of us being gluten-free, it causes even more awkwardness and even more cooking. I was at a gluten-free bakery a couple of days before Thanksgiving and this poor woman in front of me had just been diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant, and so was her daughter. She said that when she told her family they said something along the lines of, “No problem. Just bring whatever you want to substitute your foods.” And her response was, “But that’d mean the entire meal! I think I’ll stay home and cook hamburgers instead.” I totally felt for her. I cook a few things that kind of go with the meal though aren’t traditional, and either buy the rest or others do that cooking. My husband apparently makes a fine bird, but I wouldn’t know. All I know is it takes forever for that turkey to cook. Here’s a bird I am thankful for:

Owl at Grass Lawn Park

Someone stuck this ceramic owl in the most unlikely place at Grass Lawn Park and it has stayed there for about a month now. Either people don’t notice it or no one wants to move the little cutie. I love this special owl and look for it every time I’m in that area of the park, which is even more often now that I have a dog than when my kids were younger. And for the record, I’m very grateful for that park too, and for the fact no one has taken the owl for their own.

Another park I’m deeply thankful for is Marymoor park. They have an off-leash area which my crazy dog thinks is the best place on earth. It is indeed pretty fabulous~ the beauty of the changing landscape has stopped me in my tracks at least once a week since we started going there. Not bad for a dog park.

Cold Morning at Marymoor

This frosty weather did not last long but it got my boys talking nonstop about winter, snow, and skiing. We are back to the rainy 40s and 50s that are the norm for here, but the frost and ice we had in November were beautiful, if fleeting.

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I feel so blessed to have these outside spaces that feel like a nature sanctuary in the suburbs. These spaces are so important and I am so grateful to have such beautiful ones. My hope for everyone this holiday season is more nature, less plastic, more fresh air, less artificiality, more stillness, less madness. Happy Holiday season to all.