I am just going to say it, yee haw winter is behind us! Or so I thought until this week! Anyway let's pretend we can smell spring in the air. This means that the white stuff that keeps falling from the sky should be behind us for at least 7 months and the warmer weather is just around the corner. Unfortunately, this also means spring allergies for many of us. I find this is one of the most important times of the year to eat healthy and keep our bodies in tip top condition to combat those spring allergy symptoms.
Our gastrointestinal system is our first line of defense for our immune systems. Keep your system in good working order by cutting down on processed foods, sugar and yeast-containing foods. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits and keeping well hydrated will go a long way in boosting the immune system. Try adding the foundations of good health with enough sleep, reducing stress and getting regular exercise. I have found with many of my clients with seasonal allergies when they cut out gluten and dairy from their diets they have seen a remarkable reduction in their symptoms.
Eat well folks and stay well! Happy Spring!
President of Allergic Solution
The Gluten Free Dairy Free Transition, and the Role of Nutrients in the Brain
-Article and recipes by Sarah Maughan, B.A, RHN
Last month I discussed the role of food, more specifically gluten and dairy, for supporting the treatment of Autism. Now that you have the information, what on earth do you do? How does one go gluten and dairy free? Not to worry, I've got your back. Follow my top tips to do within the first few weeks to make the transition an easy one
- Replace dairy milk, not necessarily for drinking - try an unsweetened almond milk, or an organic unsweetened soy milk. It's really important to do an unsweetened one otherwise your child will consume a lot of unneeded sugar - another brain irritant. Your child may not like the taste as a drink, so don't buy the sugary stuff just to get them to drink it, just use it for cooking, baking, or smoothies.
- Experiment with treat recipes or products to be prepared for special occasions - there is nothing worse than seeing the sad look on a child's face when you don't have a cake they enjoy that fits with their allergies or sensitivities when it's their birthday. The earlier you figure this out, the easier it will be. I always recommend freezing unfrosted cupcakes to send with your child to school if another child is having a birthday so they get a treat too - and saves you time! Make sure you use flours such as bean, nuts, coconut, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum or teff. If you're not kitchen savvy try Tammie's Allergic Solution cake mixes because you can add your own flare if you want
- Make a list of all the foods your child already likes that are naturally gluten and dairy free - make these the centre of meals for the next few weeks instead of changing absolutely everything - ie. Fruits, vegetables, animal protein, nuts/seeds, trailmixes, rice, potatoes, etc
- Alter their favourite meals to be gluten and dairy free before trying new ones - for example if your child really loves pasta with tomato sauce switch to a brown rice pasta and keep the sauce the same instead of switching them to potatoes if they didn't eat that before. Look for safe versions of their favourite recipes, which may take a lot of trial and error, but it's worth it in the long run. Pizza, lasagna and mac and cheese may take a bit more creativity but it's doable.
- When you find a recipe/product/type of food that works, freeze it in large batches! Use this as a back up when you try new foods and recipes along the way or when you're just short on time. For example, safe cupcakes, pizza crusts, sliced chicken, portions of pesto pasta/rice, pancakes, and soups.
Just removing gluten and dairy is half the battle. For a brain to be healthy, triggers must be removed, but you must also support the natural processes with nutrients. The following nutrients are essential to the Autism diet and brain health -
Omega 3 Fatty Acids -
- Why - increases circulation in the body by thinning the blood and decreases inflammation. Your blood is responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen where they need to go in the body and without proper circulation, you may not receive the nutrients
- Where - Wild fish, walnuts, olives, chia seeds, flax seeds, grass fed beef
- Why - it helps build the myelin sheath which protects nerves and helps speed signals to the brain. It also creates neurotransmitters which send communication to and from the brain
- Where - Animal protein, fortified cereal (try to avoid), soy/almond milk, nutritional yeast (different from bakers yeast)
Magnesium & Calcium -
- Why - both are involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles and sending signals throughout the nervous system. Magnesium especially helps calm the nervous system for sleep and decreases anxiety/hyperactivity
- Where - banana, avocado, spinach, cocoa (magnesium), non-dairy milks, kale, sesame seeds, almonds, tofu/tempeh/edamame (calcium)
- Why - aids in the healing of the gastrointestinal lining (which I mentioned can be damaged in autism), aids in the absorption of other minerals, increases appetite and improves the taste of food. If your child did not previously like the taste of animal protein, they may after zinc supplementation. It also helps protect neurotransmitters and the efficiency of communication to the hippocampus of the brain (learning and memory centre)
- Where - Animal protein, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, sesame, figs, oranges
- Why - precursor for acetylcholine in the brain necessary for memory and muscle control
- Where - egg yolks, cauliflower, tofu, almonds, navy beans, grass fed beef
Are you ready to start feeding your child? Oh wait, you already do that! Take a deep breath, keep the long term picture in mind and start implementing changes at the pace that feels right for you. Food is medicine J
Almond "Breaded" Chicken Fingers
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into fingers
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil (different if baking)
Heat the oil a large pan over medium-high heat (but closer to medium than to high - you don't want the almond flour to burn), or preheat oven to 400F if baking them.
Put the beaten egg in one bowl and the almond flour plus seasonings into another bowl. Dip each chicken finger in egg, then in the almond flour mixture. (SEE NEXT POINT IF BAKING)
Cook the chicken in two batches until it is golden on each side or if you wish to bake them to reduce oil, add 2 tbsp oil to the almond flour mixture first and then bake them for 15 - 20 minutes, turning over half way through
Hard Shell Tacos - toppings can be lettuce, guacamole, salsa, roasted peppers, hummus, skip the cheese or make a nut cheese and see how they like it (see below)
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
2 ounces roasted red bell peppers
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt
Blend all in a high powered blender - like a Vitamix or a food processor - until smooth. Add to a pot and heat for 3 - 5 minutes stirring frequently until the sauce is to your desired thickness.
Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in Toronto, ON and is one of few Nutritionists in Canada who is also Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition™ http://www.sarahmaughan.ca/
You Deserve a Treat