gluten-free healing ala GAPS, paleo and nourishing traditions

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The Conclusion: A Farewell Post

So… I decided I should bring this little blog to a close.

I learned a lot through this whole process and my life is much better for it and I have some answers which are amazingly helpful so I want to finish this off. One part specifically almost feels like GOSPEL to me, it is so huge and has made me so much better that I kind of want to tell the world.

Part 1:

Soo… these crazy red itchy painful lesions on my scalp and groin are actually NOT fungal infections, like I was told on two separate occasions in the doctors office! The story is that I had to have a preliminary appointment with a GP to be referred to see a dermatologist. I went the first time, she took one glance and was like “oh honey, that’s fungal.” and prescribed me an antifungal cream. I was kind of relieved and disappointed but thought at least I don’t need to see a dermatologist now and passed on that appointment. So I got the cream and used it until they would no longer refill it at the pharmacy. At that point I talked to the naturopath again. Once she realized the antifungal had not made any difference over several months she commented that it was probably a wrong diagnosis.

Soo… I tried to make another appointment with the dermatologist. BUT since I had not done it right after the first appointment with the GP, I had to go back again for another appointment just to get a new referral! Crazy! At that appointment, the next lady was like “Oh honey, that’s fungal. ….but if you want to see the dermatologist, you can…” Yes, I do.

Finally I see the dermatologist. I told him how the others were so SURE it was fungal but nothing was helping so I was confused. He asked if they did the super easy, final answer diagnosis in 10 minutes scrape test. Nope, they hadn’t. So he did it on every little patch of skin that has issues and…. not one bit was fungal!

Hooray! And also CRAZY. That I had been trying to treat that for over six months just based on some ladies who didn’t take the time to confirm anything or listen to me, for that matter.


So the actual diagnosis is: Psoriasis. I also get serious outbreaks of eczema and at that time I also had several of those. 

In the process of trying to treat the “fungus” naturally, I eliminated dairy. Within 3 days my eczema cleared up!! And I didn’t know if that was a fluke or how big a deal it was, so I went back to dairy. Then again I had some, and more eczema. Which I can remember having since my sophomore year of high school. (Which is to say 15 years.) Then I went off, and in 3-4 days, no eczema. Back and forth like this. Eczema isn’t a big deal…. it’s more annoying than anything. But I began to realize that if my immune system was so busy dealing with the dairy every day, it was too worn down to take care of the chronic staph infection, increasing allergies, and getting sick so often and severely in the last year and a half. On another note taking away dairy did not make the psoriasis go away.

So GOSPEL part 2:

Five years ago, I remember discovering I had seasonal allergies for the first time, kind of on accident. I just thought I had a terrible cold that I couldn’t get over for 2 months. I had always teased people in my head when they’d sneeze and then look warily at me and sigh “Allergies.” So I felt like I was getting the judgement I deserved in developing them myself.

Right from the first year they were pretty serious, but every year since, they have gotten worse and worse. The second year I developed a two week long severe sinus infection, not to mention the surrounding months of regular allergies. All this leading up to last spring where I spent days in bed, which meant Nathan had to take several days off from work to take care of the kids. And that was on allergy meds. I’d also use a neti-pot, do pressure points to drain sinuses, hot washcloths, humidifiers, etc… and I still couldn’t sleep at night and I’d be in such a miserable fog in the day.

So I was dreading this spring. But guess what?! Since the season began I only took meds ONE DAY!!! It is such a shock, such a night and day difference, such a feeling of HEALING I can’t believe it. I have been mostly off dairy now for several months. I also started taking a quercetin + bromelain supplement the last month which is supposed to help regulate allergic response in your body. And for real: heavy reactions only ONE day, at the very beginning of high pollen season. I still sneeze a bit and have minor congestion, but I am fine! I am not much of a salesman, but this is one thing where I feel like it helps so much I want to tell ALL THE PEOPLE in the world who deal with allergies to consider going off dairy, at least before and during allergy season. 

It’s so significant to me that every day this spring I have found myself reflecting on how different I feel and how thankful I am. Dairy is honestly easy to give up when I know how bad it makes me feel.

Meanwhile we’ve discovered it’s Ezra’s deal too. I keep hoping it’s not and a couple times these last couple weeks he’s had something and only confirmed that it is. Last week I let him have a yogurt at breakfast. He then spent the morning laying on the floor, complaining of his stomach hurting. Then he had some diarrhea, felt better, and got up and had a good rest of his day. But to see this energetic boy out for a couple hours, laying still on the floor, it’s easy to see it’s not worth it. He’s actually come to know it too. He knows macaroni and cheese and yogurt hurt his stomach. 

Soooo…. anyway. I would be cranky that we spent a month without gluten, but in the end I’m not. If I hadn’t tried it, I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to try taking out dairy for a bit. We have learned so much and are literally a healthier, happier family for this process.

Lastly… I also read that dairy can be auto-immune-response-inducing (which psoriasis is, in nature). But I haven’t seen that improve at all. The only thing that has helped is a coal-tar treatment which I just learned last night is a carcinogen?! So I don’t know where I’m at with any of that. 

But I’m thankful that I’m at least giving my body a fighting chance now vs before. 

Sooooooo…… anyway. That’s the end of this blog! Thanks for joining me along the way!


Tricky: a small rant.

*updated to add: this blog is not even read by the person I have in mind in writing!!**

Dear Miss Sally Advice Columnist,

We’re trying to get healthier by focusing on nutrition. But for some reason, some people in our lives don’t agree and try to sneak our kids treats. We love them, and relationship is important to us. What can we do?!


ready for pictures unrelated to post? they had a sleepover on the floor! cuties.

Okay I’m about to share a challenge that we’re up against right now. Ready? Which is: trying to modify your family’s diet to help, nourish and serve their lives and have so many people in your village be resistant and somehow personally offended by the idea.

i like him

You guys: the crazy thing is I’m not even extreme about all of this!! (obviously: did you see my post about chocolate?) I’ve been blogging about this for a little bit now, so maybe there’s an image that i frown and scold any time there’s a mention of sugar, but that’s not at all true. This blog and any attempts to eat better are mostly just me processing the whole idea. We don’t think everyone needs to do what we’re doing. We don’t think this way is better and yours is worse, okay? I promise. I really am just trying to help my kids out. Having a healthy relationship with food didn’t come easily for me, and it still isn’t always there, so it’s super discouraging when people try to get my kids to be on a different page than what I’m working for in our home (which is peace, health, nourishment, enjoyment). I don’t think treats are wrong. Enjoy them with my kids when you’re with them! But here’s what I would love to share about my perspective on it:

1)I would loooooooove to invest more time and energy into hanging out with you than eating with treats with you. I need help in that. Let’s all put the emphasis on memories, events, experiences, projects, time together over sugar and food.

2) If you are actually spending more than 20 minutes with my kids, it will pay off for you. Believe me I know: the better my kids eat, the better they behave, generally. Seriously this last week we’ve been making lots of treats at our home. Meanwhile at school and all our community events there are treats at every turn. And I have watched a direct increase in Ezra throwing tantrums and Sophia getting weird asking non-stop for snacks. It’s not fun to deal with: you’ll honestly have more fun together if you back off the sugar. And people, it’s better for all of us! We all know what sugar does in us… makes us crave more sweets, not know when we’re full, have mood swings, blood-sugar crashes, unhealthy bodies. (Here’s a great 3 minute video from CBSNews) If you really love S and E, don’t you want to help set them up for success and help them have a healthy life?

cookie time

3) Please do enjoy a treat together!

4) But know that it better be worth it… Because the parents become the bad guys: when the kids get home they’ll ask for more and we have to be the ones to say no. And that’s okay, it will be worth it because I’ll know you found a small treat that you truly enjoyed together and had a good time. That’s great! I want that for my kids and for you. But if what you did was stuff them with food that won’t nourish them while indoctrinating them against how we’re trying to help them be healthy, then yeah I’m ticked that I have to be the bad guy.

5) This is for real. Last night our dinner was hamburgers, whole wheat buns, ketchup/mayo and green beans. Immediately after, Ezra (two and a half years old) broke out with a big, bright red rash all around his mouth that stayed around through bed time. I don’t fully know what to do with that myself, I feel confused- it’s obviously a minor allergic reaction, which in itself isn’t a big deal. But it does mean things can really harm him if he’s getting a lot. I’m trying to figure it out what it means. And mourning the idea that there might be real food allergies in our family, and I don’t even know what they are. It’s not fun. So please don’t think that since it would be easier for you to feed them something and look at you! you ate all this stuff and turned out alright! that it will for them. (even though I do want to choose relationship over food)

And lastly:

6) It’s okay if you don’t care about this stuff; I don’t expect you to. You don’t have to think I’m right. I just want to ask you to be respectful in the mean time: please don’t sneak stuff to my kids behind my back, please don’t be snarky about our food choices in front of them.

I also want to say thanks to so many of my family and friends who ARE so kind and respectful! I’m thankful that I have so much support in my life. Earlier this week I got together with some mommas that are experiencing similar challenges with their friends and family. I felt kind of compelled to speak up and share here. So anyway, thanks for listening. You guys are the best.

xoxo…. trying to figure it all out in cincinnati, elizabeth.

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Victory!!! Chocolate!!!!

Well I’m pretty sure my eczema is caused by dairy. The last dairy I had was the cheesecake on Saturday, when it was wild, irritated and taking over. Today it’s smooth and almost non-existant. For someone who already believed food is powerful, it’s still shocking to witness your own skin transform in days.

But this made me pretty sad. Because obviously: chocolate. Last week I was going to make something for the kids, and since Ezra seems to have issues with it too, I sadly picked up a bag of “dairy-free” mini chocolate chips. I made the granola bars, sprinkled these in and they surprised me by tasting great. “At last!,” I thought, “We can have “chocolate” in this house once again! We may in fact survive in this manner!” (Um yes it had been two days without chocolate.)

Then yesterday, I was at a grocery store with a great baking sale. Ghiradelli at rock-bottom prices. I heroically and with only the *tiniest* martyr complex, walked by. I don’t even really care about eczema in itself, but I think the problem might be my immune system is working so hard to deal with dairy that I get susceptible to other things? Like the staph and yeast… And Ezra’s tummy.

But then! The smallest glimmer of a thought alighted upon my mind …and it all came into focus in slow motion. Paleo in it’s truest form is completely anti-dairy. But they often hold up dark chocolate as an ideal treat. My mind struggled to grasp this information. I thought dairy-free = chocolate-free?! Is it possible to have chocolate made without dairy? Obviously not milk chocolate, but what about the others. I went straight to the dark chocolate chips and examined the ingredients. “Milk solids.” D’oh!! But then the semi-sweet: blissfully dairy-free. In fact it has almost the same ingredients as the dairy-free chips, it just is processed in a place that uses dairy.

Want to compare?


Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips


Ingredients: evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor, non-dairy cocoa butter
“This facility also processes dairy and soy, however it’s on a dairy free line…”


Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips


Ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter soy lecithin, vanilla).

According to this article, that explains everything (!), the ingredients in the first and the second are essentially the same. It explains that chocolate by itself is naturally dairy-free- cocoa. Bottom line: the first one is produced on a dairy-free line, and the second is not. I think this is important if you have a severe dairy allergy, but if you’re like me you should be set! I do solemnly take it upon myself to test these out for all of you out there. :)

And sooooooo: glory hallelujah! Chocolate is ours!!

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Weighing values of nutrition in the real world

cute little leopard (?)

The tigress/cheetah/leopard pictured above is totally unrelated to the post. But isn’t she cute? Or, fierce? :) She’s a good one to keep around, especially if you’re into playing dialogue-heavy imaginary worlds. That are dominated by princesses. Non-stop. :)

What’s been rolling around in my mind these last weeks is the tension of different values in our lives. Recently, kind of because we’ve been forced to, we have to put some value on health and getting better. Obviously that’s a good thing. But over these weeks I’ve watched that value butt up against other values and it’s fascinating to see where I end up in those instances.

Case study from my life A: I’ve been making meals for our little fam since we got married. So naturally over the last (almost 8!) years, I got used to cooking and I could throw meals together, and oatmeal breakfasts (ha!), without much thought. It was easy to shop sales and prepare a meal pretty effortlessly. Since trying to heal by focusing on nutrition, it’s taken relearning, time, effort. That sounds easy on paper, like a worthy cause and not that hard, but on some days it’s been a really big deal. I’m spending all my resources to cook three meals from scratch? So the value of relearning life and cooking so it becomes natural is awesome but how much is it worth? This seems like one I should press in on. But not this intensely forever.

Case study from my life B: What about when it challenges relationship? I absolutely believe that in most cases, relationship goes first. It’s true, hopefully a loving two way relationship would honor where you’re at as well, but what about when someone doesn’t know your dietary restrictions and is trying to love you? Last week at chipotle our friend who works there walked up and handed my kids two chocolate milks. We’ve built a friendship with this guy over the last couple years. This summer he invited us to his daughter’s quinceneara- total honor. I handed those chocolate milks to my kids without hesitation to thank our friend for his generousity, never mind that I loathe those things. (Have you looked at them? You already know that I heart dairy done well, but those little boxes have all the nutrients cooked out of them and are packed with sugar), never mind that ezra has a clear reaction to dairy. *I’m not sure that was the right thing for him, and if things get worse, of course I’ll protect him in that situation in the future. Back to the subject at hand: I read blogs of a lot of families who for great reasons are choosing this lifestyle. Maybe there really are times to totally refrain and separate yourselves from society to heal and recover. But as I am attempting some of that and then it bumps into relationships, I have to weigh the relationship against the health cost. I try to let Jesus’s instructions in Mark 16 inform my thoughts: as his guys reach out to others he says they can drink poison and it won’t touch them. They can be people of healing to each other. So while I’m not looking for poison, or offering it to my children in my home, I really value people in my life more than having perfect food all the time. Hopefully it doesn’t have to be one or the other. But I still want to live in Iran, so this is one I’m probably not going to drop. :) Although it’s a constant tension because at some point you want to influence others for good health and not let them influence you towards poor health, right?

and finally Case study from my life C: Cost and finance. I don’t know at all where I am at with this one. When Ezra and I were not well, obviously money was going to have to go somewhere: drs and conventional medicine, or food as medicine. Or both. We want to try healing as naturally as possible right now, so it’s okay to us to up our budget and use savings money for this. But obviously that can’t go on forever. Otherwise we’ll be out of savings. :) And in theory, obviously! It’s worthwhile to invest in food that is going to nourish you. I’ve read lots of studies comparing even the 1950’s to today or Europe and Asia to the US and how in all these cases a larger part of the family budget goes to food cost than it does today. So perhaps we need to shift some priorities. But it’s really a tough one. We know how to eat pretty economically otherwise.

Anyway… all this to say, there are constant tensions, values and choices to make. It helps to think through it, write it out, know where I’m going and why. Where are you at? Peace to you and goodnight. I was staying up with the election news but now it’s getting late. :) over and out….

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Less on the bandwagon than I thought

…Nope, I can’t do it. The candida diet is so extreme! It’s for a good medical reason. But I found it so intensely restrictive that if I would simply eat one wrong thing, then I’d go nuts (har har) and eat tons of wrong things and basically  I was eating more carbs and sugar than when I wasn’t actively trying to follow this diet.

For instance my eczema was on it’s happy way to settling down. Then on Saturday I went to a party and had to, ahem, oblige my host so I ate cheesecake  and lots of other snacks and treats (homemade Azerbaijani baklava! worth it!) and now the eczema is back and flaring in new spots.

Meanwhile, yesterday, after I officially declared that I was free from the bonds of these crazy restrictions, I ate better than I had the whole rest of the time! Eggs, a delish salad with lots of spinach, chicken meatballs and an amazing (if i do say so myself!) dressing, macadamia nuts… So it’s kind of a full circle. Before all of this I had finally come to a place in my life that I was actually eating healthy because I wanted to and it felt better. I still think it’s better to try to treat disease with nutrition, but I’ve learned I don’t handle it all that well and have to be careful not to be extreme in doing so.

For Ezra, I’ve realized the real importance is being off gluten and dairy for the most part. That’s how his little stomach seems to do best. The naturopath really encouraged me that kids can often outgrow food allergies or heal their little systems and grow to handle things better if you take some time off fromt hem.

So between me and Ezra we’re going to stick to our house being gluten and dairy free for a while and see how we go. But enough of this boring chatter…

Want to try my amazing dressing?

Coconut Honey Mustard Dressing
(serves 2)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lime juice
pinch of salt

I served it over a bed of greens, chicken (with cranberry and jalepeno) meatballs, red bell peppers, and red and green onion. It was so tasty. Variation: It was actually so tasty it was lunch again today, but we were out of honey. I had some apricot preserves on hand and subbed that in for the honey and Nathie liked it even better today. So. There you go, players. Best salad dressing evaa!

*sharing at allergy free wednesday and real food wednesday

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Updated with pictures!


until september (GFS, remember?) i am not exaggerating when i say that our family ate oatmeal for breakfast every day for the last five years. this sounds really ocd, but while we have a lot of other weird issues, that’s not one of them. it was simply convenient, inexpensive (read: the cheapest meal ever), i thought healthy, and my kids loved it and gobbled it down happily- there were no battles or whining. so it just seemed win-win-win. we felt wild when we introduced baked oatmeal a few years ago. then it slowly grew from a treat once in a while to an every other day staple. true story. so. it takes me 5 minutes to whip up, 15 minutes to bake. so i thought i’d share my recipe! now we have it once a week or less and i almost exclusively soak the oats the night before. i guess another world…

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Once upon a time there was a girl who embarked upon a journey of healing. Not too far into it she started the anti-candida diet. And then after one smashing success of a week, some monthly hormones started kicking in and since then she has been eating carbohydrates non-stop… d’oh! There may or may not have been handfuls of chocolate chips at a time. :)

But I talked with Dr K on skype this morning, and she was nothing but helpful, encouraging… reminding me that this will build up my immune system, which can then beat the staph, kick the yeast out, get rid of the infection on my skin, and that it isn’t leading to a lifetime of deprivation, but of freedom.

It’s clear to see that Ezra’s little system handles life better this way as well. So obviously I need to remember that and make the right decisions for him. She also explained that once our immune systems have had a chance to take a break from fighting that stuff for so long, and be built up again, you can introduce things back again and see how it goes.

Sooo… we’re back on the wagon. Come aboard if you like!!


Baked Oatmeal (gluten free, dairy free, soaked)

soaked baked oatmeal

i found this vintage photo of my son eating baked oatmeal in the 1800s… just kidding, i don’t know why i added the scratchy filter

until september (GFS, remember?) i am not exaggerating when i say that our family ate oatmeal for breakfast every day for the last five years. this sounds really ocd, but while we have a lot of other weird issues, that’s not one of them. it was simply convenient, inexpensive (read: the cheapest meal ever), i thought healthy, and my kids loved it and gobbled it down happily- there were no battles or whining. so it just seemed win-win-win. we felt wild when we introduced baked oatmeal a few years ago. then it slowly grew from a treat once in a while to an every other day staple. true story. so. it takes me 5 minutes to whip up, 15 minutes to bake. so i thought i’d share my recipe! now we have it once a week or less and i almost exclusively soak the oats the night before. i guess another world really is possible!

elle’s baked oatmeal (gluten/dairy free/low sugar)
2 cups gluten free oatmeal
1/2 brown sugar, or what I usually do is like 3tbsp coconut sugar and 2 tsp stevia, could also use honey or other sweetener
1/4 cup (or more or less as you like) ground flax seed
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

mix the above up, then add:

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 melted coconut oil
2 eggs (but i usually do one and it’s fine)
2 tsp vanilla

pour into 9 inch pan and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

…i have mostly switched to soaking all our oatmeal overnight beforehand. (breaks down the phytic acid, makes nutrients more available and easier to digest) if you’d like to try that, soak the oatmeal in enough water to cover it + 2 tbsp yogurt or kefir. cover with a towel and leave overnight. in the morning, drain and rinse oatmeal then mix in above ingredients except reduce milk to about 1/3cup.) *note, when soaked the grains expand and i use a 9×13 pan instead

…this can all be made with milk, melted butter and regular oats with great results as well!

*Sharing at Real Food Wednesday and Allergy Free Wednesday!