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Big March Post #3: A New Place for FOOD!

It’s the last day of March and the last of the three big announcement posts promised for this month! This one continues our theme of “new:” first a new bed, then a new baby, and now… a new blog!

The new blog is a place where I can post all about food, like how we continue to deal with our changed diet due to food sensitivities, new recipes that I’m perfecting, ingredients we’re watching out for, our meal plans, and our weekly lunch wrap-up posts will move there in early April. We’re of course focusing on eating happily without dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts… basically all of the top 8 most common allergens.

The new site is NourishingRainbows.com, and for more on the name and what the site is all about, follow that link! It’s been up for about a week now and there are several new recipes up and a big post dedicated to an awesome potential Easter dinner, complete with dessert.

Here are some examples of current and future posts…

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As for 9 Years Later, this blog isn’t shutting down. I still plan on posting about the 9-year goal to self-sustainability, although the posts may be quite sporadic. I’m doing a lot of gardening this year so watch for posts on that as the season heats up (haha, see what I did there?). Thanks for hanging in with 9YL and be sure to check out the new NourishingRainbows.com!!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #23

It’s lunch time! Here’s another look at what Kiddo1 brought to school for lunch last week.

If you’ve been keeping up with our “three big posts” for March, you know we have one more big one on the way! I’ll give you a hint… it does have something to do with lunches, in a small way. And we got a new lunch container – no more plastic boxes! So coming soon you’ll see a slightly different weekly wrap up. Next week is Spring Break so stay tuned for the launch date for Wrap Up 2.0 in two weeks!

Monday

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Leftover pork roast for lunch on Monday! And we have been continuing with our rainbow carrots – today Kiddo1 had yellow carrots with some broccoli. For sweets he had strawberries and applesauce.

Tuesday

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Lately I’ve been obsessed with making myself sandwiches (darn pregnancy hormones!) so there has been more lunch meat in the house lately. For Tuesday’s lunch Kiddo1 got one of his favorites: rolls of ham lunch meat (and turkey this time too) with slices of cucumber in the middle. He also had more broccoli, a mix of yellow and orange carrots, and more applesauce.

Wednesday

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I’m not sure why this picture looks so weird… maybe I left an extra light on or something? Well anyway, Wednesday is always leftover tacos day, I believe we had beef tacos this week (it seems to be alternating between ground beef and ground pork lately – tonight we’re having chicken tacos though!), always served with shredded romaine and diced cucumber on soft corn tortillas. He had yellow and purple carrots with strawberries.

Thursday

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Recently Kiddo1 told us he likes salami (where did that come from??) and since I’ve had some around lately for my sandwiches (and it is casein free!), Kiddo1 got some along with ham sticks in his lunch. He also had the veggie trifecta: cucumbers, broccoli, and carrots. And rounding out the goodness is more applesauce.

Friday

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Finishing out the last day before Spring Break, and the last day of the trimester! And I had no idea what to make for lunch! So I settled on the rest of the leftover taco meat in a “taco salad” with blue corn tortilla chips (it’s hard to see them under there) plus Kiddo1’s traditional taco toppings of shredded romaine and diced cucumber. He also had even more carrots and a couple small slices of vegan dark chocolate truffle from Missionary Chocolates.

See you for new and improved lunch posts in two weeks!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #22

Welcome to another weekly wrap up of last week’s school lunches! Here’s what Kiddo1 took to school last week…

Monday

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We started off simple and basic on Monday. No meat leftovers from Sunday so Kiddo1 got some “sticks” of ham, along with carrots, cucumbers, a Mandarin orange, and strawberries (organic strawberries were on sale again – score!).

Tuesday

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More ham on Tuesday – apparently we needed to cook more last week! But things around here have been super busy so I guess ham comes to the rescue again! More cucumbers on Tuesday, along with carrots – but this time they’re special yellow carrots! Another Mandarin orange and two Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday

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Leftover tacos on Wednesdays! This week we had ground pork with our tacos, and Kiddo1 likes his with romaine and cucumber on a soft organic corn shell. He also got purple carrots (we’re on a colorful carrot kick!), broccoli, apple slices, and a couple more Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday

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For Thursday’s lunch Kiddo1 got leftover meatballs we made Wednesday night from more of the ground pork we got in our half pig share. He also had broccoli, carrots, cucumber, and some apple sauce.

On Friday there was no school, yay! And only one more week of lunches before Spring Break! See you next week!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #21

We’re back to regularly scheduled weekly lunch posts!

Monday

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We started off the week with some strips of leftover chicken. We usually eat a whole chicken every other week or so, and when we’ve had our fill we strip off all the leftover meat and make a broth with the bones. I love that our chickens do double-duty, or even triple-duty, for us – we get dinner, some lunch leftovers, and tasty broth too! But back to this lunch… Kiddo1 also had his fairly standard carrots and cucumber, along with some strawberries (organic strawberries were on sale last week – it’s almost strawberry season!).

Tuesday

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No leftovers from Meatless Monday so Kiddo1 had ham, more carrots and cucumbers, a Mandarin orange, and Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday

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Beef tacos again this week, since they’re Kiddo1’s favorite. Plus more carrots and cookies! A fairly standard Wednesday lunch.

Thursday

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Kiddo1 finished off the leftover chicken for Thursday’s lunch, plus had a bunch of veggies and fruits – carrots, broccoli, cucumber, and strawberries. And of course the Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies are not to be forgotten!

Friday

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Finishing off the week by finishing off a few things from the fridge – the last of the carrots, some more ham, another Mandarin orange, and  a special request for raisins. And those are the lunches for this week!

 

So after much teasing last week about the “three special announcements” for March, I’ll finally have the first one published this weekend. And it won’t involve lunch foods at all!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #20 (Catch Up #3)

Whew, the last catch up post is here! This one covers the last week of February. Next lunch post will be at its regularly scheduled day on Tuesday. And of course, since I haven’t mentioned it already (ha!) there are three big posts/announcements coming in March too! Keep checking the blog or drop your email in the “Follow” box at the right to stay updated.

Monday

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Kiddo1 hasn’t had a lettuce wrap in a long time! We had some leftover pork roast from Sunday night so I figured wrapping it up would be the best way to get him to eat it. There’s also diced cucumber in the wrap. On the right we have carrots sticks and a couple Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday

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Once again we were out of meat leftovers for Tuesday’s lunch (because Monday nights are meatless) but we do almost always have our back-up: ham! We buy Beeler’s uncured ham. Kiddo1 also had his usual carrots and cucumbers, plus a nice-sized little Pink Lady apple and a couple Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. It was a chocolate chip cookie week around here!

Wednesday

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No leftovers again on Wednesday, this time it was because we went out to eat on Tuesday night – something we rarely do anymore! But it was my birthday and the family wanted to celebrate, so we did a bunch of research to find a place where Kiddo1 could eat foods that he would both enjoy and wouldn’t give him tummy troubles. We found a place willing to make some plain chicken and french fries for him – it was so good we didn’t have any to take home for lunch the next day! So instead of more ham I cut up these meatsticks that everyone in the family loves. The are beef and organ – yes organ – meat, super good for you and you don’t even know it is in there! Kiddo1 was a little weirded out at first but he loves them – and loves freaking out his friends a little when they see the package. Kiddo1 also had a bunch of good-looking veggies and some more Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday

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On Wednesday we had to have tacos (since we missed them on Tuesday night) – a week can’t go by without tacos! For Kiddo1 we had beef tacos again (two weeks in a row!), along with his favorite toppings, romaine and cucumber. He also had more carrots and cookies.

Friday

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On Friday, Kiddo1 had more sausage from the pork buy we got in February. Our whole freezer is full of nothing but pork right now, so we’ll be eating a lot of it! Completing this lunch are more carrots, cucumbers, another mandarin orange, and the rest of the Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

See you with more lunches on Tuesday! Have a great weekend!

Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #19 (Catch Up #2)

Here’s our second of three “catch up” lunch posts to get us back on track after a busy no-post February! There are also THREE big posts/announcements scheduled for March coming up too – and they aren’t involving lunch! But for now, let’s get to the wrap up – this post covers the third week of February (no posts for the second week because I was out of town).

Monday – no school, happy President’s Day!

Tuesday

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Kiddo1 had some leftover bits of pork chop on Tuesday with a side of bbq sauce. It’s been difficult finding good bbq sauce – one without corn syrup (or even without a ton of sugar), no artifical flavors/colors, etc. This one is the Woodstock brand and it is pretty tasty, plus organic and a decent ingredients list. Kiddo1 eats it with everything! He also had his usual carrots and cucumber, plus two Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday

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More leftover tacos! This week we had beef tacos, Kiddo1’s favorite. He also had his favorite applesauce and some carrots. And this week we had a good supply of cucumbers so no running out before Wednesday like last week.

Thursday

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Iin February we bought a half pig’s worth of pork and it came with a whole lot of the boys’ favorite – sausage! So you’ll see a few lunches with sausage over the next couple posts. Normally I’m not a huge fan of processed meats – we try to limit ham (but everyone loves it so we’re not too successful), but this sausage isn’t too bad because it is pretty “minimally processed,” if that’s a thing. We talked a lot to the butcher who processed our pork and he left the sausage uncured and kept the ingredients minimal and to our “clean eating” standards. So I can’t complain too much about this sausage! “Rounding out” this lunch – haha, notice all the round foods? – are carrot rounds, cucumber, slices of apple (they don’t brown too much if you keep them stacked up like this) and some slices of vegan dark chocolate truffle from Missionary Chocolates.

Friday

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On Friday, Kiddo1 said he wasn’t too hungry so we packed a fairly minimal lunch of ham sticks (we can’t ever get away from ham!), carrot sticks, a mandarin orange, and more vegan dark chocolate truffle from Missionary Chocolates.

Diet Changes Are Hard, Part 3

The struggle is real! Some things are getting easier, some are still difficult.

Recall from parts 1 and 2, we gave up processed and over-refined foods at the beginning of the year, then we gave up diary, eggs, wheat, and peanuts about three months ago (for the background story on that later restrictions see this post).  Here’s an update on our progress…

First, the good. Dinners have become much less of a struggle than they were a couple months ago. We’ve found a few meals that are guaranteed hits, greatly reducing sorrow from both the diners and the chef. Kiddo1 has also been slightly more willing to try some foods, as long as each meal is served with at least one thing that he likes already. He’s much more willing to try a vegetable if it is served alongside the chicken he loves. And we found a vegan ranch dressing with which he’ll eat almost any veggie.

There are still nights when we butt heads a little, mostly the meatless nights. We’ve had Meatless Monday going for awhile now, but I just added Meatless Thursday (or leftover Thursday, depending). It is a struggle to find meatless meals with at least one thing that the kids already like, but it is good for us (both our physical health and financial health!). I’m sure they’ll get used to it just like the other changes! But it is really hilarious to see Baby2 get excited on the nights when we do have meat. She says, “Meat!” in this very excited voice and points to her empty place for me to pile it on.

Lunches are great. We’ve been very successful at putting together a healthy lunch for Kiddo1 to take to school every day. I’m sure that posting the lunches weekly has helped with that. Of course, I still struggle to get up from my home office computer and build myself a healthy lunch, but Mr. Handsome has helped – either by making my lunch or reminding me to eat on the days he can’t make something for me. I’ve found the key to successful lunches is making a bigger dinner than I think we need so that we have leftovers at the ready. That, and having a lunch fallback for the days there are no leftovers or the plan somehow falls through. Our go-to on those days is a lettuce wrap “sandwich” – ham and cucumber wrapped in a romaine leaf with a raw veggie side – usually carrots or, if we’ve got vegan ranch on hand, some broccoli.

Another good thing lately is that Kiddo1’s appetite has been super strong in the past couple months. I have to think that has something to do with eating foods that his system can handle well. Before we started these diet changes, he hardly ate at all. Now he’ll eat twice as much food as me and still ask for dessert. And a bedtime snack. At the beginning of the school year he complained that he had too much food for lunch, but now the lunch box comes home totally empty. Between meals he’s always asking for snacks and while that’s driving me nuts and wreaking havok on the grocery planning and budget, I couldn’t be happier that he is finally eating like a teenager. (PREEEE-teenager – I hope he didn’t hear that “teenager” slip! He’s only 11! But wants so desperately to be 13 already!)

Now the not-so-good… As much as I complain about the family’s willingness to try new foods, I’m probably the biggest “defector” of all of us. Confession time! Sometimes when I’m out of the house by myself, I go to Dairy Queen. I know! Now, I’ve already admitted this to the family and have made amends with them about it, but I still feel guilty. Although the guilt is not much in comparison to how my tummy has felt the last couple times I’ve had any kind of dairy. When I eat it, about three hours later I’m back to where I was two months ago – unable to do anything but lie down and wait for the pain to end. So now I don’t stop at Dairy Queen anymore. Damn you, Snickers Blizzard. Damn you.

Eating out in general is really difficult. Sometimes it seems like everything has cheese. Even gluten free hamburger buns have eggs. Meatballs have bread crumbs. There’s no getting away from all the allergens when we go out, unless we all have salads (and even then, the salad dressing could have cream, eggs, cheese, etc). We have been great at cooking our food at home, and the allergy concerns are a good motivator for that. Yet sometimes we want to go out for a special occasion or just because we have a free evening, but we have to be careful and plan ahead to find a place with a few items on the menu that we can have. That hunt is almost more difficult than just planning a special meal at home! But then we still have to do the dishes.

And as long as we’re on the not-so-good stuff, I’ll tel you that baking has been a struggle. After my first success with a bread mix, I went rogue and tried to develop a flour blend of my own that would work. The result? I found out it is really hard to do that! I must have baked 10 loaves of bread before deciding it was the flour mixture that was the problem, not the ratio of xanthan gum to flour, not the ratio of non-dairy milk to flour, not the baking powder vs baking soda (baking soda alone made the bread super gross!). But now I’ve changed my flour mix and the results have been better. Still not 100% awesome, but at least my loaves aren’t turning out super gummy anymore. The item that really got my confidence back up are the apple cider donuts I posted a few days ago. I’d still like to come up with a simpler flour blend for those, but for now I’ll bask in my victory.

Slowly but surely the new diet is getting easier. As it gets easier I find myself wanting to make more changes for example: I’d love to get us off sugar and I wish we’d eat more fermented foods. Perhaps I will make strides on those by the time I’m ready to post another update!

Vegan and Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts Recipe (GF, V, NF, AF)

Apple Cider Donuts! The baked good that got me out of my baked goods slump. This is adapted from mydarlingvegan.com to make it gluten free as well as vegan.

Apple Cider Donuts (gluten free, vegan, nightshade free, allergy friendly)

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Here’s what you need:
For the donuts:
1 cup Pastry Blend flour mix (my own recipe)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp oil (coconut or olive is what I use)
1 tsp vanilla

For an optional glaze (omit if you want to keep this sugar free):
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp apple cider

For a sugar dusting (substitutions for sugar free*):
1 Tbsp sugar* (I use a vegan organic granulated sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
* for sugar free, brush donuts with oil or Earth Balance butter, then press the donut into this sugar mixture but substitute coconut sugar or sucanat for typical sugar

Tools:
Measuring cups for quantities listed above
Stand mixer (I’ve also mixed these with a wooden spoon when I was too lazy to clean the Kitchenaid)
Donut pan (I like my stainless steel one from USA Pans)
Spoon for guiding batter into donut pan
Cooling rack
Small bowl for mixing sugar dusting (needs to be just bigger than a donut)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil the donut pan (I use coconut oil or Earth Balance butter).
2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the same big bowl and mix with dry until combined.
4. Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each about 2/3 full.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until you can lightly press a donut with your finger and it bounces back into shape.
6. Let the donuts cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
7. Mix together the glaze in the stand mixer; mix together the sugar dusting in the small bowl.
8. Dip the donut tops in the glaze, then immediately dust with sugar mixture. (Again, for sugar free, brush donuts with oil or Earth Balance butter instead of using the glaze, then press the donut into the sugar mixture but substitute coconut sugar or sucanat for typical sugar)
9. Set aside the dipped and dusted donuts in a cool place so the glaze will harden.

Yields 6 donuts.

Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipes

In my quest to perfect survive gluten free baking, I’ve experimented with a lot of flours. Now I’m no where near as experienced as more serious gluten free bakers, I just do this in my spare time. But since my family has stopped eating wheat, dairy, and eggs I have taken it upon myself to make the treats we can no longer easily obtain from a store. Bread, cakes, cookies, pancakes, pastries, and donuts have become something of an obsession. And to make those I need just the right blend of flours.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about allergy-friendly baking is how important it is to have good flour blends. There is no one perfect blend that will work for everything, especially if you are able to sometimes add eggs to you mix. I have been using slightly different blends for bread, cake, etc. Soon I want to post all those recipes, but they’re not quite post-ready yet. In the meantime, I offer you some of my experimental mixes. I will probably update this post as I keep experimenting, but might as well put this out here now so I can refer to it as I post more.

A couple things to keep in mind about all the mixes:

  1. All blends yield about three cups. If you need more, just multiply the quantities by the number of batches needed.
  2. All flours are measured by weight, which is much more accurate than measuring by volume.
  3. I find my baking is more consistent if I weigh and mix my flours when they’re at room temperature. Flours should be stored in the freezer over the long term to prevent them from going rancid (source). I’ll usually pull my flours from the freezer the night before baking. Gluten free baking requires a little more advance preparation but the trade-off is getting to enjoy treats similar to the gluten-filled counterparts, so I’m willing to put in the extra effort.
  4. I get all my flours from Bob’s Red Mill, mostly because their certified gluten free facility and bulk foods store is about 10 minutes from my house. It smells really good there. And sometimes I sneak in a gluten free vegan cookie from the shop. Shhh, that’s our secret. You can find Bob’s Red Mill flours online if they aren’t available in your area.
  5. For more information about mixing gluten free flours, I like this post by Gluten-Free-Girl.

Rice Flour blend (good if you can use eggs with it since it turns out gummy with all egg replacers I’ve tried)

100 grams Brown Rice Flour
100 grams White Rice Flour
100 grams Sweet Rice Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour
2.5 grams Xanthan Gum (or 1 teaspoon), in addition to what’s called for in your main recipe

 

Bread Blend #1 (no gum, no rice, good with egg replacers like chia seeds)

100 grams Sorghum Flour
100 grams Millet Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour

 

Bread Blend #2 (a little lighter than BB #1; no gum, good with egg replacers like chia seeds)

100 grams Sorghum Flour
100 grams White Rice Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
80 grams Tapioca Flour

 

Pastry Blend (no gum, good with egg replacers like chia seeds and a little lighter than the bread blends)

I’m still working on this one – I hate having more than five ingredients in a flour blend. But in the meantime….
50 grams Brown Rice Flour
50 grams White Rice Flour
50 grams Sweet Rice Flour
40 grams Tapioca Flour
100 grams Oat Flour
100 grams Millet Flour

Food Combinations: Food Combining for Optimum Digestion

Update: I’ve been trying to stick to most of the food combining “rules” for a couple weeks now and I will tell you: it is tough! And honestly, my diet has been a little boring. So in the interest of diet complexity and excitement, I’ve pulled back a lot on any “rules” I’ve tried to live by. I’m really following my “Take This With a Grain of Salt” section of this post! 

I think the bottom line is: eat what makes you feel good. Everything else falls into place when you listen to your body and gut. 

But I still think learning the food combining rules has been beneficial. The top two rules – fruit first, no starches with meats – are important ones to follow. Everything else, at least for our family, is “nice to have” but certainly not totally necessary.

With that disclaimer in mind, I give you my original post. I hope it gives you some good food combining knowledge! Just remember not to take it too seriously!

 

Food combining is the science (art?) of serving and eating foods from compatible food groups and in appropriate order as to encourage digestion and proper absorption of nutrients. We’re not talking “wine and cheese” pairing here, oh no – this is much deeper, and much more important, stuff.

This is going to be a long post so I’ve separated it into these sections. Click on the section you want to read to jump right to it!

Introduction
Food Combining Don’ts
Food Combining Do’s
Food Types
Sequential Eating
Ideal Food Combinations
Take This With a Grain of Salt
Sources

Introduction

Let me start by saying… I’m not a nutritionist. I’m a mama of a boy with digestive issues that I want to eliminate (the issues, not the boy!). Therefore, I’m increasingly interested in food and how it affects our bodies. Something tells me that if I find out more about this subject I can help him feel better consistently. So here I am, learning all about foods. We’ve done a lot to change our diet in terms of what we are or are not eating, and Kiddo1 is certainly showing signs of improvement (like his eczema is totally gone since we dropped dairy from our diets!). But there’s a missing piece. Something isn’t quite “there” yet. But I didn’t know what…

Food combining came to be a specific interest of mine on complete accident. Last weekend I was planning the weekly menu and I just got stuck. Menu planning writer’s block, perhaps? Usually when I’m stuck I go to Pinterest but somehow I ended up Googling “food combinations” instead. And my eyes, oh how they were opened with what I found! There was so much information on what foods to eat together and, almost more importantly, what foods not to eat together, that I ended up spending the better part of the day researching how our bodies react to certain food combinations.

I took some notes:

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The notes got kind of crazy! One discovery lead to curiosity about one group of food or another, leading me to do more research, write more lists, jot down more “Do’s” and “Don’ts.” In the end, I had so much good information that I decided it’d be best to write it all down here in one clear and concise guide, both for my own reference and in the hope that it might help someone else out there in Internetland.

Remember though – I’m not a nutritionist therefore I present all this information secondhand. I could very well be wrong about some things and I know there is conflicting information out there. Look hard enough and you can find a reason why any kind of food can be good or bad for you! And I’m sure I’ve left out foods and maybe I’ve even placed a food in the wrong category. I’ve done my absolute best to fact-check everything here, but you don’t need to take my word for it. Hopefully this research of mine will inspire others to at least start thinking more about the foods they eat and maybe even spark some interest to do independent research, too. There is so much to learn, I can’t possible sum it all up in one post (even though it is a very long post!).

So, that being said, and without further ado, here’s the cleaned up version of all my notes. I hope it helps you!

 

Food Combining Don’ts

Let’s start with the bad news, right? Here’s a quick run-down of the combinations of food that are no good and why. If you’re curious about what distinguishes acid fruits from sour fruits or fat protein from meat protein, see the Food Types section of this post.

1. Protein + Carbs – this one is the most important “don’t!”
Meat and potatoes: most of us would call this a healthy meal, but it is NOT! In my research I discovered that carbs are digested through a salivary process while meat is digested through a gastric process. How those two words are defined isn’t nearly as important as what the combination means: it means there are two totally different processes trying to go on in your belly at the same time. Your belly does not like this! It wants to do one thing at a time. The gastric process, which is digesting the acid food that is protein, will literally stop the salivary process of digesting the alkaline carbs. The carbs will, therefore, take longer to digest and will start to ferment in your tummy. This is why we sometimes feel sluggish after a meat and potatoes meal: those carbs are just sitting there instead of doing what carbs do best which is to give us energy! Protein takes so long to digest (4 or more hours! See the “Sequential Eating” section for more) that the carbs can never give us that energy boost. Unproductive carbs are the worst.

2. Protein + Fats
Fats depress the gastric gland, and as we learned in #1, gastric juices are needed in order to digest proteins. So in this case, the protein takes longer to digest (and protein already takes the longest to digest of all the food groups).

3. Protein + Acid Fruits
Acid fruits also inhibit the gastric juices like fats. See #2 for why this is no good. There is an exception to this one though! Woohoo!! Proteins from fats, like nuts or avocado, can be consumed with acid fruits. I can’t figure out exactly why this exception exists, other than maybe their chemical make-out is similar enough to acid fruits because they’re both plant-derived so our tummies can digest them at the same time. Like I said, I’m no nutritionist! But I don’t claim to make this stuff up either!

4. Nut protein + Meat protein
Different proteins require different flavors of digestive juices. Our bodies want to make one kind of digestive juice at a time because our tummies aren’t divided into sections. It’s just one big bowl in there so if we put in two types of digestive juices, the juices won’t target the right things and there will be choas and anarchy in the tum-tum. Bellies are just not multi-taskers! In fact, this rule extends to any two types of protein – bacon-wrapped steak and turducken are the examples that immediately come to my mind.

5. Carbs + Sour fruits
Citrus fruits are acidic, so not only will they also take over your tummy and leave the alkaline carbs undigested but they will also distroy the ptyalin enzyme in our mouths that helps our bodies digest carbs. So double whammy on this one! Once again, those carbs will ferment in our tummies and not give us the energy we need from them.

6. Carbs + Sugars
This one really hurt. Who doesn’t like pancakes and syrup, toast and jam, or freakin’ cake?!?! But sugars, like sour fruits, inhibit that ptyalin enzyme that help us digest carbs, once again depriving us of the wonderful energy we could reep from them. Super sad face.

7. Fruits before Anything – this is the second-most important “don’t”
Fruits are quick to ferment, so when they’re the last thing to hit your stomach, especially if you’ve just eaten carbs or protein, they will sit on top of the food you ate and rot. Ew. This can make us gassy or queasy and we lose good vitamins and enzymes from the fruit.

8. Melons + Anything
Melons just cause stuff to ferment big time. They take over the whole digestion process leaving whatever else you ate to just sit and rot. Ew times a million.

9. A note about beans
They don’t go well even by themselves. Beans are about 25% protein and 50% carbs so they, in and of themselves, cause they same issues as combining carbs and protein. You know what they say… the more you eat the more you toot! (There’s conflicting evidence out there about the make-up of beans. I don’t like beans anyway, so I’m biased against them. If you really love beans and don’t want to give them up, don’t! See the Take This With a Grain of Salt section for more.)

10. A note about dairy
Our family is dairy-free, but I wanted to point out a rule I found in my research. When it comes to milk and all dairy products (including cheese!) the rule is – eat it alone or leave it alone. Dairy products block the digestion of whatever else they’re consumed with, sort of like fruit. So if you want complete digestion, either wait until you have an empty stomach to eat dairy or don’t eat/drink it.

Now that everything we know and love is destroyed, what foods can we actually eat with other foods in order to have everything digested properly? Well, I’m glad you asked…

 

Food Combining Do’s

Luckily there are still options for food combinations that digest well together! Of course they almost ALL involve nature’s most perfect food group: vegetables. Specifically non-starchy, colorful veggies. Here’s what you can eat and easily digest with them. For examples of ideal food pairings, see the Ideal Food Combinations section. For examples of each of the food groups, see the Food Types section.

1. Veggies + Protein

2. Veggies + Starchy veggies

3. Veggies + Starchy grains

4. Veggies + Oils

And now for the fruits…

5. Acid Fruits + Sub Acid Fruits + Leafy veggies

6. Sub Acid Fruits + Sweet Fruits + Leafy veggies

7. Melons on their own

A note about water… Did you know that water is best drank at room temperature or warm because cold water actually contracts our digestive system? And drinking water during or after meals can wash away a bunch of good enzymes that we both consumed and our bodies created to digest food. But there is good news! Drinking water before a meal jump-starts our systems to get ready for food. We start creating enzymes in anticipation of eating and that helps us to digest better! During meals we should only sip our water. And no alcohol – that tricks our bodies into thinking we aren’t eating so we won’t be creating many good enzymes to aid digestion.

Here’s a visual guide I made to illustrate good food combinations! I also added a guide for when in the day each food group should be eaten. For more on this topic, see Sequential Eating. And for information about what specific foods belong to each food group, see the Food Types section.

 photo Combining2_zps0e838a12.jpg

 

 

Food Types

Now that we know all the categories of foods that are good and bad to combine, what are all the foods in those categories? What’s the difference between a sub acid fruit and an acid fruit?

There are great lists in the image posted in the above section, but just in case I’ll list them here as well. Disclaimer: I’m going to miss some foods! It’s just not possible to get them all. But this serves as a good guide. If your favorite food isn’t listed, look it up!

Non-startchy Vegetables: eat these with wild abandon, except where noted
+All dark green leafies (but do limit spinach as it contains oxalic acid which can actually limit digestion and pull calcium from your bones); the best are kale, collard, mustard, dandelion, watercress, and my personal favorite, romaine
+Cruciferous veggies: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage (napa, savoy, green, and purple), bok choy and pac choy, tatsoi, brussels, kohl rabi, daikon radish, red radish, and watermelon radish
+Bulbs: garlic, leeks, scallions, fennel, onions (borderline at 7g/serving), shallots
+Some Roots and Tubers: turnips, ginger, rutabaga (borderline at 6.6g/serving), beets (although beets are another high oxalic acid food), and tumeric
+Sea veggies: Wakame, kombu, nori, arame, dulse
+Others for which I don’t know their category but they are tasty: asparagus, celery, cucumber, green beans (the only exception to the beans “don’t,” above), spaghetti squash (winter squashes are general starchy but spaghetti squash is borderline at 7g/serving), yellow summer squash and zucchini

+Notice I did not mention nightshade vegetables (such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, paprika). Those can actually inhibit digestion and we try to avoid them. We do bend the rules for occasional barbecue sauce though. (See the Take This With a Grain of Salt section of this post!).

Starchy Vegetables (carbs): limit these to once a day (but it is so easy to be addicted to sweet potatoes!!) and do not eat more than two starchy veggies in a meal
+Some Roots and Tubers: parsnips, burdock, lotus root, sweet potato, and yams
+Winter squashes: acorn, butternut, kabocha, dumpling, pumpkin, buttercup, delicata, red kuri, hubbard
+ Others for which I don’t know their category: artichoke, carrots, cassava, corn, Jerusalem artichoke, salsify, sprouts, and water chestnuts

Starchy Non-vegetables (carbs): limit to a couple times a week
+Rice and quinoa
+Breads (including flat breads, gluten-free breads, and tortillas)
+Pastas (even if their gluten free!)
+Cereals (yep, even the gluten free ones)

Acid Fruits
+Citrus: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and the like
+Pineapples
+Sour plums
+Pomegranates
+Strawberries (also contain oxalic acid, which, if you don’t recall from above, limits digestion and pulls calcium)
+Sour fruits

Sub Acid Fruits
+Apples
+Apricots
+Cherries
+Grapes
+Mangoes
+Papaya
+Pears

Sweet Fruits
+Bananas (bananas are high carb)
+Dates
+Figs
+Prunes
+Raisins
+Persimmons

Melons
+Watermelon
+Cantaloupe
+Honeydew
+Casabas
+Crenshaws

Protein – animal-based
+Chicken
+Pork
+Beef
+Turkey
+Lamb
+Game
+Fish
+Eggs
+Cheese

A note about protein… did you know we only need 10% of our diets to be protein? That’s right – protein isn’t nearly as important as it has been made out to be. Pregnant women, elderly, and children should eat up to 20% of their diet in protein, but the rest of us are totally fine with less. Excessive protein inhibits calcium absorption, so if you are on a high-protein diet for medical reasons, make sure you’re getting more calcium too.

Protein – plant-based
+Beans and soy (although see the Food Combining Don’ts section about why beans aren’t recommended)
+Nuts: peanuts, cashews, pecans, almonds
+Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, flax
+Seaweeds

Fats
There’s simply too much information about fats for me to get into here. I could easily spend another weekend researching it. Just know that generally unsaturated fats are liquid at room temp and seem to be slightly better for us while saturated fats are solid at room temp. The less processed the better – stick with fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and occasionally animal fats like lard, tallow, and bacon grease. Just don’t cook your meats in them (see the Food Combining Don’ts section for more information about the Protein + Fat combo).

 

Sequential Eating

Now that we know what categories of foods go well together and what foods are in those categories, let’s talk about the order in which we should eat them. Order is a big deal for digestion because some foods take longer than others to digest. If you eat protein first and then those green leafies, you’re going to have to completely digest the protein before your body will start to digest the leafies. Protein can take around 4 hours to digest, so it is most likely that the awesome nutrients from the leafies won’t be used to their maximum potential by your body. That’s sad! It takes effort to eat green leafies, we should reap all the benefits!

In general (there are SO many exceptions), here are common digestion times. For lots more information about sequential eating, I recommend DrBass.com. What I have outlined here is super general.

Fruits: 30 minutes
Vegetables: 1 hour
Starches/carbs: 2-3 hours
Proteins: 3-4 hours

So if you’re going to eat all four types of foods in one meal, the best you can do for yourself is eat the fruit first, then the vegetables, then carbs, and finally protein. Of course that isn’t the most exciting way to eat! But as a general rule it is doable. For a single meal, start with an apple, move on to a salad with dark greens, then maybe some rice and finally the meat.

Sequential eating applies to your whole day as well. Generally…
+Fruits are best consumed during breakfast because they digest fast and give us a morning burst of energy.
+Carbs are good for lunch because they’ll fuel us through the (often) sleepy afternoon and will digest fully by dinner.
+Protein is the way to go for dinner because it takes the longest to digest, will leave us feeling full throughout the evening and will ease us into our 12-hour nighttime fast. (Did you know our bodies need to fast for 12 hours every day? We need to detox and reset our systems. That’s why we’re not supposed to eat too late in the day!)

 

 

Ideal Food Combinations

So we’ve covered what food categories to eat with others, what foods are in those categories and in what order to eat them. Now comes the inspiration – these are some ideal food combinations to help ease you in to this style of eating! In my research I noticed this topic is not covered very widely. There are lots of posts on ideal combining of food groups, but not a lot of specific ideas. So hopefully this will help those that need a little extra push. I’ve broken these ideas out by mealtime, following the Sequential Eating guidelines in the above section. “Rebel” meals are those that bend the rules a bit (see the Take This With a Grain of Salt section for more on that.) Keep in mind that these ideas conform to my family’s food limitations, so there are more out there if you don’t have to deal with allergies (we don’t eat eggs, dairy, wheat, spelt, peanuts, or nightshades).

Breakfast
+Smoothie #1: pineapple, strawberries, orange/orange juice, apple, flaxseed (a note on smoothies – we use mostly frozen fruits and we thin them with water. Coconut water would be a nice addition, too.)
+Smoothie #2: mango, pomegranate, and blueberries
+Smoothie #3: all the melons!
+Smoothie #4: greens, ginger, apple, papaya
+Skillet with sweet potatoes, spinach or kale, garlic, scallions or leeks, celery root, and maybe even some bacon if you’re feeling rebellious!
+Toast and sunbutter or almond butter (or rebel and have toast with low-sugar preserves)

Lunch
+Salad with dark greens, red onion and cucumber and olive oil/balsamic dressing, carrot sticks and sweet potatoes
+Stir fry with cabbage, broccoli, onion, garlic, rice and, if you’re feeling rebellious, a little chicken
+Lettuce wrap with julienned (sliced in thin sticks) daikon, carrot, beets, and alfalfa sprouts
+Rice made with kombu and a kelp or nori wrap with bok choy, avacado, red radish, and carotts
+Stuffed winter squash with quinoa, spinach, veggies and nutritional yeast

Dinner – always start with at least a small salad and try to eat the meat last
+Cauliflower rice, steamed squash, and asparagus
+Steak, raw broccoli, steamed kohl rabi (use the kohl rabi greens in your salad if they aren’t too mature and tough)
+Turkey meatballs and spaghetti squash with scallions, garlic, and shallots
+Whole chicken (buying a whole chicken at once is a great way to support small farms!) with roasted turnips and and Brussels sprouts
+Pork chops and lotus root, roasted cabbage, and fennel

Bonus! Snacks!
+Chips or fries made from almost any veggie (I love sweet potato fries and apple chips)
+Carrot sticks, broccoli, and celery with peanut or sun butter
+Smoothies
+Air-popped popcorn

 

Take This With a Grain of Salt

By now you’ve probably figured out that this section is NOT about salting your food. Sorry! It’s actually about the old saying which, if you don’t know, means to take this lightly and don’t feel totally constrained by it.

Food is so easy to be overwhelmed by. It’s easy to think that these rules must be followed 100%. I’d rather see them used as guides, not hard-and-fast rules.

What’s really important here? The emphasis here is to strive to make more good choices to eat healthy foods than choices to eat unhealthy foods. Sometimes we need a little honey on our squash to make it palatable. That’s okay! Sometimes we need to add some sweet fruits to our acid/sub acid smoothie, and that’s okay too! The point is to use these rules as a guide and try our best to follow them most of the time. Some days we just need dessert (notice how there aren’t any deserts in this whole post!). Have a cookie, take a break, and try to do better tomorrow.

If you’ve got to have something “bad,” just try to make it as good for you as possible! Have a homemade cookie made with real ingredients and avoid the processed cookies from a box. Put some honey in your tea instead of refined white sugar. Start reducing your sugar intake and notice how your tastes actually move away from sweets (this may sound crazy but it’s totally true. We’ve drastically reduced our sugar intake and now I can’t stand the taste of white sugar!).

All in all, if you start to get overwhelmed remember to “take this with a grain of salt.” Sure we need food to survive but there are virtually endless options out there for us. As our doctor says, focus on foods you can eat that are healthy for you rather than the ones you need to cut out. Experiment with your pallet and your cooking skills. Try new things! Then try them again! We have the power within us to change our habits, change our diets, even change our taste buds. If I, one of the most picky eaters ever, can do it, then you can do it too! Start slow with one or two changes and move forward from there. A fantastic diet isn’t going to happen overnight. Have patience with yourself and your family. Things will turn around eventually.

If you’ve read everything thus far, thank you for reading! This information will benefit you, I promise. We’re all working our way to better health, one good decision at a time.

 

Sources

I consulted a lot of websites and one of my favorite cookbooks to bring this information together. They are:
acidalkalinediet.net
happycow.net
puristat.com
mindbodygreen.com
livebeaming.com
forksoverknives.com

Clean Food by Terry Walters, Revised Edition published by Sterling Publishing 2009