Whole-Grain CALAMITY!

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By Jenn Bruer

Why don’t I eat grains?

Grains are bad for my intestinal (gut) health. Grains are SUGAR to my body and sugar feeds the “bad guys”, the bad bacteria living inside me. I know that any nutrients I can get from grains, I can get elsewhere so grains aren’t really necessary.

Grains cause inflammation; some believe inflammation is the root-cause of all disease. Grains have only been around for 10,000 years (or so), which (coincidentally?) is right around the time when we (humans) started to develop tooth decay. We also shrunk and our overall bone health deteriorated. Grains inhibit vitamin and mineral absorption.  Grains contain substances like phytic acid which prevent proper absorption of vital nutrients.

Foods rich in sugar, or carbohydrates, give quick energy, but that energy wears off  fast. Since grains break down into sugar, our insulin rises and our blood sugar crashes, making us want to crave more grains… enter the ‘vicious cycle’.

Besides all of that, the benefits of a grain-free diet  are enormous; just look around, there are anecdotes EVERYWHERE. Plenty of people suffering from a whole list of issues (Crohn’s, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, etc.) are getting better and some are even curing their illnesses from a grain-free diet! I, personally, have never felt better since going grain-free in September of 2011.

People assume that mainstream medicine is not in support of this diet. But hang on a minute! I remember when I was 10, visiting my family doctor for regular asthma checkups; he smoked a pipe while he listened to my chest! I know, silly right? Well, people back then would say “smoking can’t be that bad; my doctor does it”. But times change. Smoking became NOT good; hmmm, perhaps doctors should NOT smoke while seeing to patients (duh!). There was a time between time, time when it was okay and then time when it was not okay.

This is where I think we are right now with grains. Yesterday grains were healthy, and tomorrow grains will be considered unhealthy. I know of several medical doctors that suggest going Paleo or Primal, especially heart doctors!  Many of my friends say they’ve gone Paleo on the suggestion of their doctor!!

Enter the shift. It seems that as a collective there IS a definite shift happening! Yay us!

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Some might say that grain-free benefits aren’t  “backed up” by clinical trials, or suggest  that there is “no evidence” that diet can play such a pivotal role in the prevention or treatment of serious diseases. But seriously now, do we really expect any of the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies to spend millions on a clinical study that proves the benefits of grain free living? Or that FOODS are capable of healing?  Would that be smart of them? Where’s the profit in that?!

Did you know that in one chinese study it was found that women who consumed 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one button mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of  breast cancer? Huh! Go figure, you didn’t know that! If there was a drug that could reduce your risk of breast cancer by 64%, don’t you think it would be all over the news?

Since we know we can’t rely on Big-pharma to give us studies to “prove” the benefits of anything other than their own drugs, all we are left with is the personal stories of those who have made changes! Like me 🙂 Let our own personal success stories be proof enough – try Living Grainlessly for 30 days and become a success story of your own!

Now go eat some mushrooms. But please, hold the bread!


What’s Your Paleo STYLE?

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By Jenn Bruer

The other day a good friend of mine asked, “can we go Paleo and still be vegetarians”? I nearly laughed out-loud because it seemed like a funny oxymoron to me since meat is such a big part of the Paleo diet. I try to never push my beliefs onto others. But here was an opportunity to give some advise.

I suggested to go “Paleo without meat”! Not truly Paleo of course, but that’s okay! Paleo is not supposed to be a box that we need to squeeze into. Frankly, it’s way more about getting OUT of the box we’ve been in! Paleo should be thought of as more of an arrow, an arrow that says “go this way”….the way toward health. Health is fluid and not a straight-forward math equation.

If you want to be more “Paleo” you have to find your own personal “Paleo Style” and it can evolve as you make changes. Let me tell you about MY Paleo Style…

Although I don’t fit into a “box” of health rules, I’ve been on the Paleo/Primal path since Sept 2011. I almost never eat grains; if I do it’s only because it’s a very special occasion and my MIL has violently forced me (okay she doesn’t resort to violence but how can I say “no” to my MIL!). Yes, on occasion I have my mother-in-law’s plum pudding and other traditional gluten-filled treats. When I “cheat” with grains, I am careful to take extra probiotics in the days to follow as I know my gut will have to adjust, and I will also lower my carbohydrate intake for a few days to give my pancreas a rest. This is not something everyone has to do but I personally have signs of insulin resistance (as MANY people do and have NO idea). Signs of insulin resistance can sometimes be, but are not limited to: excessive tummy fat, fatty liver, skin tags, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS, obesity, adult acne, appearance of dark patches on the skin or “hyper-pigmentation”, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, constant hunger and sugar cravings, etc.

I eat less dairy. I omit cream from my coffee and replace it with coconut milk but I do have a piece of cheese a couple times per week. To be fully Paleo, I should give up dairy all-together and maybe one day I will, to further heal my body and reduce inflammation even more. But for now I choose to include dairy because I tend to go the “low-carb route” and cheese is a good low-carb alternative.

I never eat at fast-food restaurants (don’t get me started).

I try to always remain on the low-carb side of things and focus my diet mainly on low-starch vegetables, good quality fats, and meats. Again this is because of my sugar “issues”. Anyone suffering with excess weight likely has “sugar issues”.

I limit my coffee to one per day, especially since caffeine can be taxing on my adrenals. Ideally, I’d like to have NO coffee and if I get there, great; if not, that’s okay too, because that’s my Paleo Style.

If you haven’t noticed yet, my Paleo Style is pretty down-to-earth because, as a mom feeding a large family, I need to be mindful of my stress levels; stress is a very BAD thing for health. I don’t scream or run with fear from food, I just try to look at every meal as an opportunity to feed my body with building blocks that prevent disease and heal damage from a previous Diet Coke addiction and other crazy things. I never buy or cook with vegetable oil, but if I go out for Wings with my friends, the wings will likely be deep fried in canola oil. But I stay calm about it and eat extra green veggies in the days to follow to detox that Franken-food out of my body.

Anyone attempting to go 100% Paleo will likely fail and then go back to eating 100% SAD (standard american diet), and that’s WAY worse than going “Paleo without meat”!


Coming Out of The Box

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By The Food Coach, Jennifer Bruer ¦ 

Thanks for visiting Living Grainlessly. My name is Jennifer Bruer, I am 36 years old, a wife, and a busy mother to 9 children. I am on a path of discovering improved health for myself and my family, and I hope that Living Grainlessly will lead you to the same path.

Living Grainlessly is a stepping stone for those of you who want to come out of that box that is commonly known as the “Standard American Diet”.

In the past I have struggled with obesity and a general feeling of unwell. I experienced frequent signs of inflammation, body and joint aches, constipation, mood swings, mild depression, severe adult acne, severe sugar cravings, bloating, physical and emotional exhaustion, PMS, iron-deficiency anemia… and the list could go on. In September of 2011 I discovered the “Paleo/Primal” lifestyle, which meant eliminating grains, dairy and beans (a few other things too, but I’ll get to that later) and since then I have dropped 45 pounds and I am feeling much healthier.

A Paleo/Primal diet, or any other diet, should, in my opinion, be a mere guide and not a rigid set of rules. My health choices do not fit inside a box; I don’t “follow” one specific set of guidelines. I often refer to myself as Paleo, Primal or Ancestral but never 100%, because that’s not realistic. Instead, I approach food with a down-to-earth style that makes healthy-living attainable. No boxes here!

I am armed with a new-found knowledge and I feel compelled to spread the word. Food heals!

Living Grainlessly, you will begin making food changes toward better health. Your eyes will open to how flippant society has become about health; we have become accustomed to seek help only when we show signs of illness. But Living Grainlessly, you will learn that FOOD is medicine and that FOOD has the power to heal. Living Grainlessly, you will get to a place where you are trying to prevent disease, and not just treat it.

Open your eyes to some of the food myths that we have been led to believe. Leave the box of pre-conceived food notions and food rules behind, and join me, Living Grainlessly and box free!


Sleep

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By Jenn Bruer

Last night I didn’t sleep a wink! I was tired but I lay there awake. Sleep is vital for our overall health and there are ample studies to go around that prove it. Our ancestors would regulate their sleep (circadian rhythm) with the natural light-dark cycles. We on the other hand, not-so-much! Our health is impacted not just by diet and exercise, but also by SLEEP:

  • Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates.
  • Sleep can contribute to depression.
  • Sleep deprivation causes inflammation. Inflammation may be the root cause of a whole host of problems from diabetes to arthritis.
  • Sleep deprivation can alter hormones that affect our appetite.
  • Sleep can lead to irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness (I may have all of the above today).
  • Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells.
  • Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Here are some steps to ensure a good nights sleep:

  • Keep a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Eat healthy and get regular exercise.
  • Avoid exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine as these disrupt sleep quality.
  • Relax and unwind before going to bed. Develop a sleep “routine”. If you do the same things before you go to bed each night, it will train your body to get ready for sleep.
  • Make sure your room and bed are conducive to sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet.
  • Make sure your stomach isn’t too full before going to bed.

….definitely turning off the electronics early tonight.


Grainless Flour Alternatives

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By Jenn Bruer 

When living grainlessly, there are a whole list of friendly flours, but first it’s important to note that these flours are calorie dense; they are however FAR less inflammatory and irritating to the gut than the usual grain flours. We need to be cautious even with grainless baked goods as they are often loaded with sugar. Although, having these goodies, especially around social events and special occasions, is important because it makes us feel less deprived. Limit these treats because of the sugar content, but know that you can control the ingredients AND the sugar 🙂

Almond flour- this is a favorite Paleo flour substitute and there are plenty of recipes to go around. I personally use “ground almonds”, sometimes known as   “almond meal”, because it’s cheaper than flour. The difference is that almond FLOUR is more finely milled. Ground almonds usually include the whole almond as apposed to removing the skin. Almond meal is good for things like breads and pancakes but a finely milled almond flour will give you better results in baked goods like cookies, pie shells etc. and adds a much nicer white colour to certain recipes. The general rule of thumb is to sub almond flour for wheat flour in a 1:1 ratio. Almond flour can sometimes be a little wet as it doesn’t absorb as much moisture as other flours so I always use a tsp of coconut flour to offset the moisture (because coconut is quite absorbent). When I make breads or loaves I always double bake them (like for example, I bake a loaf and then slice it and place it back in the over for an additional 10 minutes before serving, to dry it out a little more). Double baking is by no means necessary though.

Coconut flour- this has an amazing flavour but is very absorbent so it can be rather hard to work with and has a tendency for leaving foods crumbly and dry. I prefer to use this flour with another and not on it’s own. Coconut flour is high in fiber and has a nice coconut flavour. This is best used with a very wet recipe; great for shortbread type recipes! There is no safe exchange ratio when replacing coconut flour to wheat flour as it depends greatly on the moisture level.

Arrowroot flour-  this is mostly used as a starch and is great for thickening sauces.  Arrowroot powder can replace corn starch in recipes using a 1:1 ratio.

Tapioca flour- this starch comes from ground cassava and adds elasticity to baking and helps bind.

Plantain flour- this is ground dehydrated plantain. Let me know if you see this around, I’d love to try it.

Sunflower seed flour- for those allergic to nuts or just almonds, sunflower seed flour can be used the same as almond flour. When you use it in conjunction with baking soda, it has a reaction and turns green – safe to eat but a complete turnoff to me. Mind you, if I was allergic to nut flours, I’d consider it a viable option.

Hazelnut flour- this can also be used the same as almond flour.

Pumpkin seed flour- another seed alternative to almond flour.

Pureed green plantains- green plantains are very starchy, and can act as a great binder in baking.  There are plenty of plantain recipes out there from crackers to cookies; I have tried plantain crackers and they were terrific and crunchy!

Any nut can be made into a flour, adding an array of various flavours, textures and colours to foods.

Now go bake some gluten free yummies!