Chickpeas Please!

I lovvvvvvvvve chickpeas…on top of a salad, in a rice and bean mixture, in soups and in wraps, made as hummus to use as a dip for vegetables, crackers or a spread for a sandwhich.

The only thing I hate about my chickpea obsession, is that I always buy them canned, and the canned beans have so much sodium in them! A serving of chickpeas (or any canned bean) can contain anywhere from 300 – 500 mg of sodium (or more).

“The amount of sodium considered adequate to promote good health in adults is 1,500 mg per day. The United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) is commissioned jointly by the USA and Canada to establish the nutrient reference values that are used to set policies and standards. One of these reference values is the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), which is the highest intake level that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects. Based on the IOM‘s UL, Health Canada recommends that adults do not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium per day.” – HEALTH CANADA (You can read more about sodium and health here).

Most Canadians (and Americans) do exceed 2300 mg of sodium per day, which poses risks to our health, especially our hearts.

Every time I go to the bean aisle in the grocery store, right beside the canned beans lie the bag of dried beans, that hardly have any sodium at all. But dried beans take effort to make, and my lazy side just never wants to wait for them to soak and cook…I just want a quick fix. I just want a can opener and a strainer!

A couple months ago I did decide to buy a bag of chickpeas…but guess what? They just ended up lying in my pantry and each time I went to the grocery store, I would buy canned chickpeas, and begin to feel guilty that I had the $8 bag lying lonely in the cupboard. Soooo, a few days ago I decided to take the plunge and make my own chickpeas! It wasn’t so time consuming at all, and the end result was worth the wait.

I measured out 1 cup of dried chickpeas, put them in a large pot and covered them in 6 cups of water. I stuck them in the refrigerator around 3pm and the next day around 11am I took them out and placed the pot on the stove. I brought the beans to a boil, and then let them simmer for about 1 hour, until they were nice and tender.
Then I drained them and used half of the beans to make some hummus and put the other half in a plastic baggie to stick in the freezer for future use.

Verdict: I’ll definitely be opting for dried beans from now on. The taste will have to take some getting used to though, because they aren’t as all salty as the canned variety. A serving only contains 25 mg of sodium!

I’m excited to make some romano beans next, and even a mixed bean blend!

Have you ever soaked dried beans? How do you do it? Do you add anything to kick them with some more taste?

100th Post!

Today is not only my 100th post, but it is my birthday!

I can’t believe another year has gone by, but I am so excited for this one to start!
I also can’t believe that I have done 100 posts on The Gut Gazette! I’ve been having so much fun in this “blog world”, reading other’s blogs and working on my own blog. I love the little community that exists in the “blog world”, it’s great to read of others journeys and learn new foods and recipes and tips that others find helpful.
Here is to a great year and 100+ more posts!
It has also been just over a year since I learned what the problem was with my gut, being Crohn’s disease. It has been somewhat of a good thing though, learning about what I have, as with that information I have been able to help myself live an easier life…eliminating certain foods, taking medications, going on vitamin supplements, making sure I don’t over do my exercise, but also making sure that I do exercise, and just listening to my body in general. I also know that I don’t have to worry when I’m feeling sick, as I know what it is. I have learned so much about Crohn’s in the past year, which has also been pretty cool, since a year ago I had no idea what IBD even was.
I think I have embraced having what I have. I used to be really shy about my gut issues, and didn’t like talking about them…but that was just really creating a downward spiral, as it was just negative energy, probably making me even more sick.
Now I’m really positive about it all, and have just accepted it as my new norm. I have been able to do this blog, which has been awesome, read up on IBD through books, the internet and other blogs, volunteered with the CCFC, talked to others who have Crohn’s through the CCFC’s IBD meetings and the support group I created at my school. I think that talking to others who are in the same boat as you is really important in healing, as it just makes you feel better about what you are going through and allows you to realize that you aren’t the only one going through it. Of course you can tell family and friends about your problems, but they just are not able to understand and relate the same way somebody with IBD can.
You can read about my “journey” in the article on the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation website (if you want), just click here!
I also think that it is really important to spread awareness about IBD, as not many people are really aware of it, or how much pain and discomfort one suffers on a daily basis.
IBD is so under the radar, that I only learned about a couple months ago that the colour purple represents Crohn’s disease. Now I have a purple “Know More” bracelet that is from the website The website has every colour bracelet for pretty much every single cause there is.
If you, or someone you know has Crohn’s or you are just passionate about spreading the word about it, to create awareness and raise money in hopes to find a cure, I urge you to purchase one of these bracelets and wear them with pride 🙂

Nut Butters

When you think of nut butter, what is the first ‘nut butter’ that comes to mind?

If I were to be asked that question a couple of years ago, I would have instantly said ‘peanut butter’, as I thought peanuts were the only nuts that were made into a spread.

Now since I shop mostly in the organic sections of the grocery store (as that is where most of my friendly foods are, ie: gluten free, dairy free, etc) the aisle where the peanut butter is located is met with numerous other ‘butters’, like almond butter, cashew butter, pumpkin seed butter, sunflower seed butter (my favourite), pecan butter, tahini (sesame seed butter), walnut butter, coconut butter, and I’m sure there are many more that I am not even aware of!

Nut butters are so versatile. I personally like sunflower seed butter, almond butter and coconut butter the best, and I don’t just put these spreads on toast. I’ll mix them into a warm bowl of oats, spread some on a gluten free rice cake, top a muffin with some, mix it into apple sauce, dip fruits and veggies into it, or put a dollop of it on a baked sweet potato.

Artisana Nut Butters, are an organic nut butter company that “[create] uniquely delicious, healthy, gourmet food”, as said on their website. I will second that statement, as they’re nut butters are amazingly good.

The coconut butter was the first that I ever tried from their company, I fell in love with it. It’s so warm tasting and the taste is very tropical. I also the love the health benefits that come with coconuts: packed with lauric acid, which kill bacteria and boosts immunity, helps with digestion, kills candida and is great for the skin. Coconut oil is very different from coconut butter, as coconut butter is the coconut meat pureed, coconut oil is just pure “coconut oil”. Coconut oil is great for frying veggies and used in place of dairy butter.

Tahini is a paste, or butter made from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are high in copper, manganese and calcium. They say that copper is good in helping reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis…so I wonder if it would help in patients with IBD, as inflammation occurs too.
Tahini is very bitter tasting, it isn’t the sweetest of the nut butters, but it sure is creamy and it great for making hummus.

Almond butter has turned out to be one of my new favourites, it is a bit more grainy textured then smooth, but I enjoy the taste. It isn’t too strong tasting, but you can still taste the subtle hint of almond. If you like a sweeter tasting spread, almond butter might not be your first choice, as it isn’t as sweet, but you could alway add a squeeze of honey to what ever you put almond butter on. I like almond butter on celery, spread on apple slices or a piece of warm gluten free toast.

The cashew, pecan and walnut butters are all very creamy rich tasting butters that are great if you like the distinct flavour of all these three nuts. They’re great for spreading on toast and would even be a good substitution for tahini in hummus!

Nuts and seeds are such healthy whole foods that are packed with great nutrients. Nut butters for the most part are all gluten free, dairy free and for the mostly never sweetened.
It’s fun to see the variety of nut butters in the supermarkets and trying out new flavours. Who said a peanut butter and banana sandwich had to be made of peanut butter?
Next time try an almond butter sandwich, a coconut butter sandwich (for a tropical taste) or my favourite, a sunflower seed butter sandwich (gluten free that is)!

The Olympics!

Yesterday evening I came back from a lovely vacation in the states, which is why I haven’t posted for such a long time!

The vacation was great, it was nice to do some relaxing and take my mind away from school. I also did a lot of product reviewing, tasting products that I haven’t seen in Canada yet.
We went to a grocery store called Fresh Market, it was such a great grocery shopping experience. The grocery store is set up much like a market with blackboard signs written in chalk. The smells were amazing, and being in the bakery section made me wish I was able to eat gluten.
I got so many fun foods!!! I can’t wait to do all of the reviews for them!
(Roasted edamame beans, freeze dried bananas and pears, crunchy sunflower seed butter,
soy yogurt, gluten free wraps, root vegetable chips, Mary’s Crackers)
On another note:
Have you been watching the Olympics? It’s been so cool watching them in my home country! I thought that NBC did such a great job portraying Canada in the clip they did before the Opening Ceremonies.
My Mom and I made a delicious Olympic themed meal for the night of the Opening Ceremonies last Friday. We made a chicken, vegetable stir-fry where we incorporated all of the colours of the olympic rings. There were not any blue vegetables that we could find, so we used purple cabbage, thinking that maybe it would turn blue when sauteed…it wasn’t exactly blue, but it worked none the less. Black was in our wild rice blend by Lundberg, which was an amazing rice blend of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice bits, wehani (which I have no clue what that is) and black japonica. Red was represented by the red peppers and the red onion (which looks more like purple), yellow was the yellow pattypan squash, and green was in the broccoli, asparagus and snap peas! We also had fennel, orange peppers, mushrooms and chicken. Mmmm, it was one of the best stir-fries I have ever had!
Anyway, I’m off to make some gluten free granola…and watch some more Olympics! What events do you like to watch? I like the half pipe, downhill skiing and biathlon.

Very Busy! (But that didn’t stop me from enjoying ginger!)

Wow! I can’t believe it has been a week since my last post – that is evidence to how busy my past week has been. Since I was out for a whole week from my flare, I wasn’t able to be productive in any way, so this week has been full of late nights doing school work and getting myself all caught up.

Although my week was hectic, I did find two new awesome products that are helping wonderfully to ease the pain of my gut. The ingredient featured in both products is ginger!

The first product is from the company Go Naturally. They are Organic Hard Candies – Ginger, with no artificial flavor, no artificial colour, they’re gluten free and made by hand. The ingredients: organic evaportated cane juice, organic brown rice syrup and natural ginger oil. Per candy is 15 calories with only 2.5g of sugar. I really like the taste of these little candies. They taste like pure ginger and they’re a great treat to suck on after a meal. The company has other flavours, like pomegranate and honey…mmm, I would love to give those a try!

The second product is from the company The Ginger People. They are the Original Ginger Chews. They’re gluten free, all natural chews with 20 calories and 5g of sugar a pop. The ingredients read: cane sugar, ginger, and tapioca starch. Although both of these products do contain cane sugar, the amount is so minute, and I eat these in very low moderation that I don’t think the sugar is affecting me in any way. The ginger chews are amazing!! I’m so happy that I finally found them! They’re very chewy and the perfect bite size to stick in your mouth. At first they seem sweet, but then a wave of heat from the ginger kicks you, but it’s a nice spicy feel. They feel so good going down my tummy and whatever pain is in my gut is gone for the few minutes of heat from the ginger. I would highly recommend this product for after a meal, or if you’re stomach is just not feeling great.

I really love ginger when I’m not feeling well.
Ginger has such soothing properties:
– it contains the active ingredient gingerol, which interferes with the enzymes that cause inflammation in the body
– it stimulates many digestive enzymes in the pancreas
– helps and prevents bacteria, as it is antibacterial
– the enzymes in ginger help break protein

A yummy tummy healing tea I like to make when I’m not feeling great is placing an inch of fresh ginger in a hot mug of water with a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of stevia or honey. Let the ginger steep for a few minutes before drinking.
Another great ginger fix is eating the pickled ginger that you get with sushi!

Beautiful Juice

A couple summers ago I had my 4 wisdom teeth extracted, which left me eating mushy and liquid foods for almost 2 weeks! That’s when my Dad came home with the ‘Juicerator‘. During those 2 weeks of having an awfully sore mouth, I drank a lot of freshly squeezed juice creations, they were delicious.
Now, while reading so many other blogs, juicing seems to be the latest trend, everyone seems to be doing it. While I have been at school, the Juicerator has not been with me, so I haven’t made any juice since my wisdom teeth came out. Since I’ve been at home since Wednesday because my flare up, my gut just isn’t tolerating much, so, I decided to pull out the huge juicer machine and create a delicious combination.
Wow! How could I forget how great this thing is!?!?
I think my gut may be seeing more juice…hopefully I can sneak it back with me to school hehe.
The colour of it was so beautiful too. So vibrant and red.
I juiced 1 green apple, 2 medium organic carrots, 1 inch slice of ginger, 1 small beet, and 1 cup of mixed greens (which I couldn’t even taste).
I made a bit of a mess…there was pulp and juice everywhere…I forgot to put the lid on the container where the juice pours into.
I think I may have a new obsession…I just can’t believe I’ve ignored this juicer for so long…I’m sorry Juicerator.
What are some of your favourite juice combos?? I need some suggestions!!

Stop! Too Much!

The past few months have been the best months I’ve had in a long time. I’ve hardly had any pain, my bowels are starting to slow them selves down, my energy has been at its peak and I’ve been so happy!

Because of my improving health, I have been doing things that I wouldn’t have been doing last year. This weekend I was feeling so great that I thought I would crack open those gluten free beers of mine. I wanted to give them another go, see what the outcome would be. I tried a couple Friday night and felt great. When Saturday rolled around I felt pretty good as well…a little pain here and there but nothing I couldn’t handle. So once Saturday night hit, and everyone was drinking wine, I thought…hey! why not?? So, I too poured myself a couple glasses. Again, I had a bit of pain and bloating, but I wasn’t glued to the couch.
The past couple weeks, I have also been working out a little too intensely then what I have been used to. I’ve been feeling so great that I want to work out a more vigorous level, I even gave myself the goal of learning how to run, so that once the nice weather arrives I can run outside with my friends. I’ve been running, working harder on the elliptical and I attended a couple spinning classes last week – which totally gave me a hard workout. I’ve also increased my yoga abilities from a calm Hatha class to a power yoga where I actually sweat! It has felt great to work out and actually have some sweat build up.
So here are two things so far that I wouldn’t have done last year..or even 4 months ago: hard workouts and drinking alcohol.
To add to the list, I’ve been staying up later then I’m used to…lets just say this weekend I stayed up much past midnight a few nights in a row. The bad thing about that, is I just can’t sleep in past 9, even if I stay up until 2:30!
One last thing – I’ve been sneaking in a few foods that I probably should be avoiding – tomatoes, in the form of ketchup, corn based cereals and more dried fruit than usual.
Yesterday when I woke up at 6:30 for school, my body told me enough was a enough and sent me back to bed until 10am. I stayed in bed for the rest of the day until I could finally turn my lights out for the night. This morning I woke up and gahhh my stomach was even madder. I crawled back into bed after a bowl of oats (which felt like a bowl of knives) and slept it off until 11am. Now I’m glued back in bed with my heating pad and am apologizing to my gut for everything I have put my body through the last couple of weeks. Even though I was feeling better, I think I shouldn’t have pushed my body to that extreme, because now it’s my second day in bed and I’m definitely paying the consequences.
I’ve learned my lesson though, right?
Silly gut.

Gluten Free Made Easy

These days, many people are beginning to go gluten free, either because of being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or because of other health problems, like digestive disorders or skin problems.

If it’s your first time going gluten free, I’m sure you can understand that visiting the grocery store can be frustrating! You go down the normal cracker/cookie aisle and pretty much every single box of crackers is made of wheat, or if they’re made of rice the fine print underneath the ingredients says that they may contain wheat. When you go down the soup aisle, all of the soups are either thickened with some sort of gluten, or packed with noodles. In the sauce and spice isle the fine print again says that they may contain wheat and in the deli section, the meats even can contain gluten! So now what? Only fruits and vegetables…and rice cakes? Well, not even rice cakes, as most brand name rice cakes are cross-contaminated with gluten.

When I first went gluten free, I thought I was fully eating a diet free of gluten…but I was eating Quaker oats, rice cakes and cereals that even though didn’t say they had wheat in them, were actually cross contaminated with wheat. Once I visited my new naturopath in September, she informed me that the oats I was eating every morning were so contaminated with gluten that it was equivalent to eating a slice of wheat bread! And the rice cakes I was eating for a snack also were highly contaminated…oh, and then the cereal I ate as a bedtime snack was also contaminated! So what I thought was a gluten free diet that I was following was not really one at all, I was still making myself sick with all the gluten contaminated foods that I was eating. Once I got home from my appointment, I began looking at all of the ingredients on the foods I had. The first box I picked up was my rice milk. In very small red print underneath the ingredients, it read: contains gluten from barley protein at less than .002%. Who would’ve known? I always read the ingredients of my foods to look out for dairy and sugar, but this print was so small that I guess I must have just missed it the first time. My chicken stock was the next thing that I looked at, and guess what? There was gluten in that as well! Dijon mustard…gluten, spices…gluten, soy sauce…gluten. I was also unaware of all the other grains that contained gluten…like barley and kamut. Gluten just seemed to be everywhere! After about two or three weeks of being 100% gluten free, my bloating Buddha tummy was gone!

As days went by, I researched about different gluten free products and learned about all the other foods that could possibly be contaminated with gluten. Even to this day, I am still learning about some of the foods that could possibly contain gluten and I am coming across so many more gluten free products.

The best way to live gluten free is to make sure the packaged food clearly states that it is gluten free, if it doesn’t and you are unsure, call or email the company inquiring if the product is gluten free.

Luckily most grocery stores have gluten free items in their aisles, some more then others, and some stores even have distinct gluten free aisles.

Transitioning to a gluten free diet can also be a shock to the taste buds. But don’t worry, your taste buds adjust and sooner or later you will totally forget what it’s like to eat gluten-containing foods. You also end up not missing the “regular” bread and pasta, because you know that if you go back to eating the “regular” gluten foods, you’ll pay for it a few hours later, by visiting the toilet and curling up on the couch. But wait! Why should I say “regular”? Isn’t this gluten free diet our regular now? Yes, it is! Your new (and my new) gluten free diet is our norm, it’s our regular eating style.

After trying many different gluten free breads, pastas, crackers, and other gf foods, I can finally say what my favourites are! (Oh…and ‘GF’ stands for gluten free).

So, my favourites thus far are:

(these are also dairy free, some are vegan)

GF pasta brand: Tinkyada – Just like their tagline states: ‘Not Mushy’! The pasta actually tastes like regular pasta, especially their spaghetti and fusilli.

Most GF breads are found in the freezer section…my favourite so far are:

GF breads: Food for Life Brown Rice Bread – sweet and nutty flavour, chewy and isn’t crumbly. Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas – soft and chewy, tastes just like wheat tortillas. Organic Works Buckwheat Chia (it’s fresh and has the texture of wheat bread!)

GF granola bars: Enjoy Life Caramel Apple

GF energy bars: Lara Bars (especially the Banana Bread flavour)

GF oats: Cream Hill Estates Lara’s Rolled Oats

GF dry cereal: Nature’s Path Crispy Rice Cereal – tastes like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies; Nature’s Path Crunchy Maple SunRise – so sweet and crunchy, perfect over top of yogurt or with some rice/almond milk

GF rice cakes: Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes and Lundberg Honey Nut Rice Cakes

GF Honey Mustard: Mr. Spice Honey Mustard– a little saucy, but tasty and great on veggies, chicken or tofu

GF Worcestershire: The Wizards Vegan Gluten Free Worcestershire Sauce – isn’t exactly the same as normal Worcestershire, but it does the trick on shepherds pie or over gf pasta salad

GF Salad Dressing: Organic Ville Orange Cranberry refreshing – definitely true to how the website describes it. I love this on spinach salad tossed with some peppers, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries

GF Yogurt: YoSo Soy Yogurt (my favourite is vanilla). A creamy non dairy yogurt great as a fruit/veggie dipper, also great with granola…or by itself. Although the container does not indicate it is gluten free, the website does and I contacted the company do double check.

GF Crackers: Mary’s Organic Seed Crackers – packed with delicious seeds and gf grains. Perfect to snack on by themselves or with some vegan gf ‘cheese’. Also great dipped in hummus. SuperSlim Brown Rice Crackers – the garden veggie ones taste like Vegetable Thins and the sea salt ones are just delicious!

GF Rice Krispy Treat: Source Salba Krispy Rice Bars – has the texture of a Kellog’s rice krispy treat and definitely satisfies the sweet tooth

GF Dairy Free Ice Cream: Good Karma Organic Rice Divine Coconut Mango – nice and sweat and has the creamy texture of ice cream. Turtle Mountain Organic So Delicious Creamy Vanilla – the container doesn’t state it is gluten free, but the website does and I double checked by contacting them. It is the best dairy alternative ice cream I have ever had. It’s rich and has the consistency of dairy ice-cream. It doesn’t really taste like soy either.

Well, I’ve probably missed a few items, but I will definitely update this soon and when I find new products!

P.S – Did you know that gum can contain gluten?? As of now, all I know is that Trident Gum is 100% gluten free.

It’s Only Wednesday??

Don’t you hate when you wake up thinking it’s a totally different day, and then you realize that it is only “Wednesday”?? This morning was like that, I figured out it was Wednesday a few moments after thinking we were further into the week…then I was at the gym, and again, I had to think really hard if it was Friday or not. That’s what long weeks do to you I guess.

So far the past week and a half has felt like a month. I’ve been so busy the past few days, that I haven’t felt like I’ve had the chance to just kick back and breathe.
All of last week I had many late nights and busy days trying to get everything organized for second semester, but I think I overwhelmed my self a bit and my body told me so in the form of an annoying head cold. It’s funny what our bodies can do to us if we push them past our limits. Therefore, it’s really important that we don’t push ourselves, and give our bodies the rest and nourishment that it constantly needs.
I was still making “me” time for myself by going to the gym…but I wasn’t really focusing on relaxing. I wasn’t taking the time before bed to write in my thought journal, or practicing yoga on my own time, or just sitting and thinking. I was going full pace- organizing textbooks, starting readings, visiting with friends, running here and there..blah just so much was going on.
Today is the first day that I actually feel like I can just cool down. I’ve also listened to my body the last couple nights and have been going to bed before 10pm!!
I’ve taught myself a lesson this past week, which will hopefully stick with me for the rest of the semester. Don’t over do it! Don’t stay up too late (because I know my body can’t handle late nights), and take time each day to sit and focus…maybe I’ll start meditating!?
Do any of you meditate??
Case in point: take time for yourself, for your body. Nobody can lead a life high paced – even if they think they can…in the end it will all add up and your body will let you know in some way or another.
On another note, Lauren, from Ginger is the New Pink, has a giveaway going on right now for an ice-cream maker!!! Also, check out Oh She Glows, Angela is donating 10% of her sales from yesterdays and todays sales of her Glo Bars. I can’t wait until she releases her gluten free Glo Bar, I’m so excited to try them!
Have a great day! And remember…take time for yourself! You deserve it!

Pure Fun

Remember in December when I found the Pure Fun Better For You Candy- Organic Candy Canes?

Well, the other day at The Big Carrot, I found a whole section full of Pure Fun Better For You Candy, such as hard candy and lolly pops. I didn’t think it would ever be hard for me again to pick out candy, but the other day it was. I couldn’t decide if I should get the Fruit Pinwheels..,the Citrus Slices…the Pure Pops, or the Mint Pinwheels. Finally I made my decision and put the Mint Pinwheels into my shopping cart.
There are three flavors in the pack: peppermint, spearmint and pepsin.
The peppermint tastes exactly peppermint; it tastes like a good old candy cane, and the spearmint tastes like spearmint gum.
I like the peppermint and spearmint the best…as the pepsin is a little odd tasting.
Have you ever had Pepto Bismol? Well, if you have, you will definitely be able to recognize the taste of the pepsin mint, as it tastes so much like Pepto Bismol.
I’ve never heard of something that tastes like ‘pepsin’….for all I know pepsin is the enzyme in the stomach that breaks down proteins…is that the point of this mint??? None the less, I can bear the taste, it’s not that bad.
I would highly recommend these little treats. Just like the Candy Canes, they’re organic, made with no pesticides, GMO’s, artificial flavours, synthetic FD&C colours or gluten. They’re also free of refined sugars.
The ingredients = organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, natural colours, alfalfa extract, turmeric extract and beet colour.
1 piece of Pure Fun Peppermint Candy is 20 calories, with only 3 grams of sugar.
A regular piece of peppermint candy is 25 calories with 5.5 grams of sugar.
The next Pure Fun Organic Candy I want to try are the Pure Pops!
Hope you’re all having a great Wednesday.
Keep positive!