Fall Baking: Pumpkin Bread and Cranberry Muffins 🧡🔴 🎃

banana bread

cranberry muffin

Source -cranberry muffins

Happy 22nd day of October friends.  Cooler temperatures call for fall baking. The first thing I want to bake is usually pumpkin something, anything. This past Saturday between hiking and golfing I baked both a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. I used homemade apple pie filling for the apple pie and then baked a cooking pumpkin up for the pumpkin pie. I found the recipe for the homemade pumpkin pie here. Around this time I begin thinking about the holidays and the baking I will do for my volunteer work. I bake and then give away a lot of banana and pumpkin bread. I use King Arthur Gluten-Free flour for baking my bread so that I can enjoy a piece or two.  The pumpkin bread recipe I use and have found great success with is here.  We stopped at an apple stand this past weekend and bought more apples and some cranberries. This weekend I plan on making some orange cranberry muffins. The cranberries keep the muffins so moist and are a perfect marriage to the orange. I plan on whipping up some orange glaze with orange peel and then drizzling it over them once they’ve cooled down.

I love the smell of oranges and I am giving serious consideration to having something made with oranges for my birthday dessert instead of pumpkin. But what? maybe some of these – Orange Sour Cream Muffins with Zesty Orange Glaze

orange glaze muffins


Until next time– happy fall baking friends!

Elimination Diet

brussel sprouts


Update-elimination diet

Officially it has been almost 2 months since I began the quest of living 100% gluten free. I feel it is the right time for an update about how things are going for me. First things first, so that my information is clear, the diet I am on now (self-prescribed) is not at all what I was eating a year ago or even 8 months ago. That said, it does not differ much in that, I have not eaten quite a few things for a number of years. Without going too far into this, I’ve never been much of a dessert eater. I like candy but other than that I am not really into sweets. My husband and I have never been big on eating out in restaurants; we probably go out for a meal maybe six times a year. I’m also not very fond of “snacks” so I don’t do chips (often), or crackers or junk food in between meals. During a visit to the doctor for my toe last fall, I had to step on the scale and what I saw shocked me. The scale said-199 lbs., I weighed this amount for several reasons- hereditary, lack of exercise, sluggish metabolism just to name a few. Even though I have a scale at home, which I wasn’t using, I never dreamt I would ever weigh almost 200#. I am but 4’11 and have a petite frame so this was a lot of weight to be carrying around. I was deeply and extremely upset. I knew for a long time I was overweight, I had been walking, and as I said been watching what I ate for years. I hadn’t done enough apparently.

My transition to change my lifestyle, and diet has been going on actively since 2004. I started with first replacing many things in our diet with organic products. I then moved from this on to trying to find local suppliers for our fruits and vegetables. Initially, I did not know that wheat was the culprit to my stomach aches, I had thought it was an allergy to junk (an occasional cookie, or bowl of chips) because my diet was pretty clean and healthy. So, I eliminated chips, cookies, rolls and most bread because I got sick of the stomach aches and diarrhea. I also eliminated most brown foods, which means most restaurant food. Most of these changes were made between 2004 and 2008. Last spring I gave up red meat, pork, hot dogs and lunch meat because I gave up salt. I couldn’t force myself to eat meat without salt.

After several months, several years of changes, I hadn’t lost one pound even with a steady diet of walking. Then I discovered I was intolerant to wheat gluten. And the label reading began, and I discovered that nearly everything left in my diet had one ingredient in common- wheat.  It has been approximately 5 months since I very actively began eliminating foods containing wheat gluten from my diet and replacing them with gluten-free products. I have been almost symptom-free for four months, and for the first time in almost ten years, feel I have found the culprit for my constant tiredness, rashes, stomach pains and bowel problems.  I have cheated a couple of times on my elimination diet but went right back to gluten free because of the adverse reaction from the gluten. Every day is a new day with this; grocery shopping does take quite a bit longer to do (label reading). But it’s so worth it.

It has now been two months since I have been on a strict gluten-free diet, as well as having eliminated food products with preservatives and food colorings. Along with this, I have implemented more organic food into our diet to where we are now eating a 90% organic diet. Since last September, I have lost thirty-three pounds. I am thrilled, so happy that the weight is finally coming off. I haven’t even begun exercising- walking season hasn’t started. I personally believe my weight loss to come from my gluten free, preservative free, red meat free diet.

Out of the thirty-three pounds lost, eighteen of them were lost in the last nine weeks. I have more energy, which is only natural when you lose weight, but I also have reduced inflammation. My aches and pains of age are almost non-existent. The majority of my weight loss has occurred in the last sixty days, so I attribute this to the last few changes I’ve made. Calorie wise, I still maintain a 1600 calorie a day diet. So I am not starving, I am eating the same way I’ve always eaten minus red meat and gluten. Yes, I do feel unhappy at times and say why me? It’s hard to watch people eating whatever they want, whenever they want and I have to go buy special food and watch every little thing I eat. But, there are rewards and weight loss and renewed energy are two of them. I feel like I have finally taken control of what I eat (where it comes from and what is in it) and it took becoming intolerant to wheat to make it happen.


Gluten Intolerance

Wheat Free

The irony of this post, which is a comprehensive look at my sensitivity to gluten, is not at all lost on me. I have struggled for years to eat right, eat healthily, and yet I’ve developed something that has thrown me (completely) for a loop.

In 2007, I started this blog devoted to my family’s transition from a regular diet to an all organic diet. That transition eventually included some natural foods because sourcing all organic can be pretty expensive and in the area, we live in hard to buy. Along with changing my family’s diet, I also wrote term papers and completed projects all throughout college devoted to eating healthier, the organic food movement and food safety.

Sometime around 2002- 2003, I began to feel ill every time I ate red meat. My stomach would hurt, fill up with gas, and become very tight.  The red meat in our diet consisted of an occasional hamburger (at home) or roast beef dinner. From around 2002 until 2005, I took a lot of my stomach problems in stride although I did begin limiting red meat consumption and increasing organic (grass-fed beef) into our diets as well as more organic chicken. Every time I returned to red meat my stomach issue returned. Our diet consisted of salads, lean meats, light on the spicy and heavy on fruits and vegetables. In 2004 I had to go to the doctor because I developed an issue that had to do with ulcers on my bladder wall. Neither the physician nor the specialist knew how this happened but felt it would resolve on its own. It should be noted that in 2004, even though interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome existed, the physician I had at the time and the specialist just weren’t aware of it. If you would like to read more on this issue, I found a very good link  here

Researchers don’t know very much about this issue but believe it may be connected to IBS, Fibromyalgia and other inflammatory issues in the body. This painful issue eventually resolved for me as I increased water intake, began daily kegel exercises, waited until my bladder felt full- a couple of hours went by vs. a couple of minutes and limited high acidic food and drink.

By 2007, I had stopped eating red meat altogether. However, I continued to eat organic chicken, organic lunch meat, turkey, and salmon. I had also stopped eating bread again. For the most part, my stomach pains and gas resolved.  My IBS, which had been fairly non-existent for years, came back in and around 2004 and was finally settling down again.  Normal life resumed, until 2011.

In 2011 I noticed I hiccupped whenever I had any condiments on my food. I also hiccupped with pasta, pickles and some desserts. I no longer could eat oatmeal, rye bread, or pizza without a stomach ache. Our diet began to change; slowly we began to eliminate junk out of our lives. First, most fast food and second condiments, lastly I eliminated snack foods-chips, cookies, crackers. Surprisingly enough I was able to add the condiments back in when we began to purchase organic condiments. I was also able to eat pickles again as long as they were purchased from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  What this led to was my slowly changing out ingredient laden products for gluten-free and/or organic products instead. The entire process was, quite simply put, exhausting. I began looking at labels and counting the number of ingredients in the products we were buying. I developed a household rule that if the product contained more than 5 ingredients we left it in the store. I think taste; real taste is one of the first perks we noticed. We were leaving behind processed junk for the real honest to goodness product. That was my fix, my cure for the processed foods. Little did I know my greatest enemy was still waiting out there for me. My enemy’s name is wheat-gluten and it’s everywhere.

It’s not been an easy journey. At times I have become quite upset looking at the lists of food I can no longer eat.  I am very thankful to the grocery stores in my area for selling gluten-free products. That said, gluten-free is very expensive. One small pizza- single serve, is $7.00. A loaf of bread anywhere from $5-9.00 and the loaves are not the normal size loaves, think teeny tiny.  Unfortunately, the food offerings are pizzas, egg rolls, bread, donuts, waffles and macaroni dishes. I think it’s great that there are donuts and cakes and waffles that are free of gluten, unfortunately, I don’t eat them. I am waiting for, as I am sure a few others are, for more healthy choices that are gluten- free. Yes, I said it, I want to eat healthily.

This year I am turning 50. Now more than ever I want to be healthy, happy and heart strong. I panic thinking that there is virtually nothing in the market I am able to eat. But there is it just takes practice and perseverance. I buy gluten-free pasta, gluten-free lunch meats, lots of fresh veggies and fruits and of course I am still able to eat rice. I am still able to eat dairy products as long as I stick to Organic Valley products. I became a vegetarian again last May; I do eat eggs, however (for now) because I am allergic to soy and the occasional organic lunch meat sandwich. I am working towards incorporating beans and lentils in my diet so that I won’t have to rely on lunch meat for extra protein. It takes time to get used to this way of eating, I need time…

For those reading who do not know about wheat-gluten, it is in everything. It is the main protein of wheat. Most flour and anything made with flour is off limits to me. So eating cookies, cakes, bread, buns, pizza crusts, taco’s, pasta and things breaded are off limits unless gluten-free. At this time there are very few restaurants that contain gluten-free menus.  I found, through research, Wendy’s salad dressings; baked potatoes and hamburger (without the bun) are gluten-free. Also, Arby’s lunchmeats are gluten-free, so you’d have to bring your own gluten-free bun as you couldn’t order one of their sandwiches with their buns. I found Chick-fil-A to offer the best menu of any restaurant, with a six-page menu filled with gluten-free products. I have found a Chick- fil-A restaurant within 60 miles so I may have to stop and take a look at their menu. As with anything, cross-contamination is a concern, if the food service worker has been working with wheat products and doesn’t change their gloves, no matter what gluten-free item you order from the menu, you will become sick. Eventually, the time will come when restaurants will have to have separate kitchens for gluten-free food and staff assigned specifically to it. Currently, 1% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with celiac disease, 1 in every 133 Americans. It is thought that 83% of Americans suffering from celiac disease are undiagnosed. I found this information here 

This site and other sites don’t even go into how many people, like me, suffer from sensitivity to gluten. The chief concern about having to deal with either one is malnutrition because they both damage the villi of the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of nutrients. If not properly addressed with a diet change, you risk your small intestine atrophying (reduced blood flow) which leads to the death of that tissue thus removal of the diseased tissue.

So far, since shortly after Thanksgiving of this year, I am symptom-free. My health overall for most of my life has been nearly perfect. I’ve had 2 colds in nineteen years and I haven’t had the sick flu (throwing up, diarrhea) in close to twenty, maybe even as long as thirty years. Once I stopped smoking my allergies went away, along with lifelong sinus problems.  I do not take medications of any kind although I do take a probiotic supplement, b-complex and vitamin d(in the winter).

To find out whether you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity or celiac disease you must see a physician. You will undergo the usual questions etc. and you will undergo blood tests and other procedures (intestinal biopsy) to make the diagnosis. It may take some time for you to find out whether you have gluten sensitivity or something more serious called celiac disease.  Keep this in mind; if you’ve stopped eating products with wheat gluten in them your tests will be negative. So see your physician at the first sign of discomfort while you are still consuming wheat in your diet. My disclaimer is- don’t rely on the internet entirely, you should see your trusted family doctor and go from there.  Everyone is different and requires a somewhat different course of action. My post shows my personal journey and how I have come out the other side of pain and helplessness to a place where, given some persistence, I can still find food to eat that doesn’t hurt me.

I hold to my conviction of several years now that preservatives and chemicals are bad for you with my example of not being able to eat any other kind of condiments but organic ones. I hold to my conviction that meat filled with pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics are not good for human consumption. My stomach pains and tightness stopped when I began to eat organic meat and or grass fed beef. Right now the only company I trust completely, for providing good, clean, safe food is Organic Valley. Without this company, I would never have begun to drink milk again, been able to eat eggs(I tried other non-organic eggs and had allergic reactions to them) or ever known how delicious and healthy meat could be.

There are a lot of things I wish I’d done differently when I was younger (don’t we all), I take some of the responsibility for my current health issue. Whether for not eating well or for not going through the extra time and expense to stick to my convictions about eating locally, purchasing fruits and vegetables from trusted sources and not relying so heavily on convenience food or processed foods. Know where your food comes from, trace its origins. Don’t buy food filled with dangerous preservatives; eat real food locally grown meat and produce. Food isn’t supposed to be full of chemicals and unknown ingredients.

In conclusion, I owe a lot of my loyalty and devotion to small farmers to my late father who cared about the earth, his land and that around him and treated his farm animals humanely. His devotion to good farming, farming without pesticides and herbicides and his gentle nature with animals planted a seed inside me many years ago. There is a movement that is slowly taking hold in this country, returning people to their roots-eating from the land (their land, their local farmers) treating animals humanely and eliminating chemicals and antibiotics in the meat supply. Laws are being passed for safer food, labeled food (exact ingredients) and the origins of our food (where is it from). Big farming is being scrutinized.  The time has come, especially with new insurance laws, for people to take full responsibility for their health and begin a very proactive approach to safer food consumption. If we all demand it, it will come.

Great sites that have helped me immensely with questions about wheat gluten diets etc. are here   here  and here

Gluten-free food-Amy’s Gluten-free dinners, Udi’s Gluten-free bread, and Feel Good Foods, Cup4Cup Gluten-free flour (available at Williams Sonoma). There are many more companies making cereal, bread, crackers, cookies, and so much more. Most grocery stores have a specific aisle for gluten-free products and special diet foods. Eventually, I will get around to trying them all. I will post reviews as I have them. The eggrolls by Feel Good Foods are out of this world, better than any egg rolls I’ve ever had, and anything by Amy’s Kitchen is nutritious and delicious.  I am finding Amy’s in most local grocery stores, if you aren’t her line is available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.


What do you eat when you are gluten intolerant?

spinach salad


When I first discovered that I was sensitive to gluten, I continued eating products that made me ill. Why? I had no real clue of what was wrong with me or what I could do about it. Not eating wasn’t an option. At that time in my little world, news stories about gluten intolerance didn’t exist. I don’t imagine there was a single product for sale that didn’t have it in it. We’re going back ten years here and I live in a small rural community in Wisconsin.

Initially, my sensitivity was minimal, sometimes a stomach ache, sometimes not.  Most of the time it was after I ate bread which led to my giving up bread in all its forms. Little by little most of what I had been eating for years began to cause me distress.  If the product had wheat in it, I was distressed.  Nearly 95% of my diet had some form of wheat gluten in it.  Every few months I was eliminating something. It started with things that weren’t too terribly crucial like crackers and chips to almost all food except fruit, vegetables, and gluten-free products.  I experimented a lot with different things, making sure I was truly allergic.  I would give up eating chips, for example, for two or three months and then try them again in small amounts.  I tried different types of bread- rye, wheat, white, sourdough- and all of them gave me a stomach ache. I would stop and start them again leading to the same results each time. Eventually, I stopped eating ALL things wheat for 30 days and was symptom-free. So what do I eat? I have tried and have remained symptom-free eating:

Ronzoni gluten-free pasta – this is the best pasta-yum!

Udi’s gluten free bread

Amy’s gluten-free pizzas

Amy’s macaroni and cheese microwave dinner

Most frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables except peas for some reason.

Butter – I prefer unsalted Organic Valley butter

I’m able to eat lunch meat – as long as it is lunch meat by Organic Prairie. Other lunch meats, including hot dogs, have cereal fillers (wheat) that cause me problems.

Udi’s does make gluten free donuts, waffles, and sweet rolls if I would have a sweet tooth (I don’t). I am unable to eat cake, cookies or brownies unless gluten-free.

I eat cut up celery and carrots with every meal and it helps to fill me up. I’ve also started eating spinach, which I’ve never liked, in everything-potatoes, eggs, and salads.

My protein sources, because I do not eat red meat, are natural peanut butter and Organic Valley eggs. This next week I am going to be trying some dishes with lentils in them.

Though this is a drastic lifestyle change, once you realize you’re no longer eating what most people eat, there is some solace in the knowledge you are now eating healthier.  The first few weeks I was starving every day all day. It’s getting better, I’m starting to feel better. I will keep updating the list of the products I try that are gluten-free and good.