There’s no denying it. One of the best parts of Christmas is the copious amounts of baked goods that turn up everywhere you go. But for anyone with food intolerances, indulging in festive treats can often leave you in a bit of a pickle. This morning I was in the mood for homemade cookies. And although what I landed on was by no means a traditional Christmas recipe, it cured my craving for something sweet, while filling my condo with the aromatic scent of freshly baked goodies, all the while remaining gluten and dairy free (and even egg free, if you’d like).
These yummy little nuggets were adapted from Danielle Walker’s recipe, made with a few personal modifications. Danielle’s recipes are geared towards families living with various food intolerances and allergies, so if you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit her site and dive into her cookbooks. Her fresh take on the everyday staples never disappoints.
Here is my version, creatively titled Peanut Butter Chocolate Cherry Cookies (alternative name suggestions welcomed):
A few days ago I posted the intimate details of my digestive journey thus far (there probably should have been a TMI alert or two in there somewhere. Oh well). If you recall, I mentioned that my naturopath was sending me for candida and parasite screening.
Well, the scan has been completed and my report card has been written.
Last week, I headed into the referred clinic to complete an Electrodermal Screening. Basically, this is a non-invasive screening done through stimulating an acupuncture point on the skin using pressure and medal rods. It’s a little difficult to explain if you’ve never experienced it, and it might sound kind of hocus pocus, but I have to say—I’m a believer. There are many people (even those in my own life) who choose skepticism when it comes to this kind of testing. And that’s fine too. But when you experience chronic digestive problems, I think you eventually arrive at a place where you’re ready to explore any plausible explanation—particularly when the dots begin to connect. The testing device used is licensed by Health Canada which I feel, in and of itself, offers a certain level of credibility. That being said, if you are unsure of this testing method, a blood test is always the way to go. So I recommend that route if you want a second opinion on your scan results, or if you know you will never truly be able to trust in the screening process. While searching up various reviews on the web, I came across a quote offered by a medical practitioner in reference to electrodermal screening. She said, "If you look online for references to electrodermal screening you'll find all kinds of naysayers, good and bad. But I think the utility of any test, the reliability of it, depends on how it's used and how the results are interpreted.” Touché, doc. So with that, pick your side, and let’s move on.
The doctor completing my screen was a 65-year-old Australian man named William. Let’s call him Dr. Will, because I think that’s classier. This guy really took his job seriously. Throughout the entire process, I felt that he was deeply invested in understanding my gut health, which I appreciated. His clinic itself left a little to be desired. He was in desperate need of an office manager, as there were piles of folders and paper in every corner. He also seemed to have an odd obsession with cat figurines. I could tell he wasn’t interested in putting on a show for anyone. Dr. Will was all about the results. I actually had to hold back fits of laughter on several occasions throughout the appointment. Not because he was funny in a “ha ha” kind of way, but because the excitement he exuded for his practice came through at every point during my screening. I found it comical that my digestive problems could elicit so much enthusiasm from a complete stranger. More on Dr. Will later.
Growing up, eating was always pretty easy-breezy for me. I didn’t suffer from any digestive issues and could basically eat whatever I wanted without experiencing any complications. Because I had an interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as a general rule of thumb, I worked to sustain a ‘healthy’ and ‘balanced’ diet throughout my young adulthood. But, overall, I didn’t need to worry about any negative repercussions, digestively speaking.
Well, I guess I should have knocked on wood or something, because about a year and a half ago, that all changed.
In September of 2013 I began to experience chronic symptoms of digestive discomfort. Every day, around 2 or 3pm, my stomach would become extremely bloated and crampy. This discomfort was generally accompanied by excessive gas (for the sake of transparency, I felt it was necessary to include that). This would last until I went to bed at night, but I would usually wake feeling like my normal self again. My symptoms persisted for several months. And I mean persisted. Every single day, like clockwork. I always described it as my stomach being angry with me. I was stumped as to why this was happening. Nothing significant had changed in my diet, or my life.
The only time that I would experience some relief was on the weekends. That was the first indicator that whatever was going on was agitated by stress. Now, I don’t mean the heavy stress that we experience from traumatic life events. I’m talking about the normal, every-day, work week kind of stress. I hadn’t moved schools, nor was I teaching a new grade. Everything was as it should be. If anything, my work life should have been more relaxing than it was the year prior!
My first thought was to try to sort this out on my own. I decided to eliminate all gluten and dairy from my diet--common causes of gut inflammation. Perhaps, for whatever reason, I had developed an intolerance of sorts. In about two weeks time, my symptoms had completely disappeared. I had done it! I felt like a normal person again. It was something I hadn’t experienced in months. It may not sound like much, but I was on cloud nine! I had forgotten what it felt like to make it through an entire day feeling well. Slowly, I started to reintroduce a limited amount of dairy (mostly yogurt), and found I could tolerate it just fine. So I pinpointed gluten as the culprit. Yes, I jumped on board with all those gluten-free hippies that annoy everyone so much. But whatever. I felt great and was ready to ride that wagon, front row, for the rest of my life if I had to.