My Easy, Protein-Rich, Gluten-Free Meal!

Hey, Wheatbeaters!

This meal is one of my favourite things to make for lunch. I whip up a huge batch of it that lasts the entire work week, and it totally takes the hassle out of packing lunches. It has a ton of protein too, so it keeps me full until dinner and nixes all those pesky carb cravings. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can black beans (or bean medley)
  • 1 can diced baby corns
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 red onion
  • cilantro

One of the best things about this meal is that it doesn’t need any dressing. The cilantro packs quite the flavour-punch, so it doesn’t lack taste. It’s really easy—just dice up all the veggies, put it in a bowl, and mix! I find that the amount of cilantro needed depends on who is eating it. Some people love eating it (me!) and some would rather just a hint of it. Either way, it’s really important in this meal. 

If you’re still kind of weening yourself onto the low-carb bandwagon, putting this on top of a small bowl of rice or rice noodles might make it more appealing to you. However, I don’t think it needs anything. It’s seriously delicious and great if you’re on a budget! The whole thing cost about $8 for 5 days worth of lunches! Quite the bargain, if you ask me. 

Sorry for the terrible cell phone pictures. I’m awaiting a new camera battery 😦

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Delicious Gluten-Free Wraps

One of the biggest complaints I hear (and harbour myself) about eating wheat-free is that there aren’t many ways to “hold” the food. No bread, so sandwiches are out. No tortillas, so you can’t make a wrap. Sometimes I just end up with a big bowl of stuff, which is fine… but it’s nice to have something to transport the food from the plate to your mouth.

I stopped in a little local market and found this pack of 20 rice paper wraps for $1.99 and decided to test them out. So far… LOVE them! They are super easy to use once you get the hang of them, and they make for more portable snacks.

I made some sort of taco-like dish and it was delicious! Plus it probably cost about $10 to make and it lasted about 4 meals. Win win win.

Ingredients:

  • 1 rice paper wrap
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • small handfull of cilantro
  • 1/2 pack of taco seasoning
  • 1 cup rice
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 chicken breast

I could write out the recipe step-by-step, but it is so simple that it’s just not worth doing. Really you just bake chicken how you like it, slice it up, mix it with all the ingredients in a big bowl, and then put it in the rice wrap. I like to heat everything in the microwave before putting it in the wrap, and then I add the cheese on top.

I ended up with a ton of leftovers so I put them in the fridge and made a pot of rice and mixed it all up for lunches. Very easy and convenient! Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of everything in the bowl, but I did take a few of the wrap. And sadly they were done using my phone, so they are terrible quality, but the sentiment is there 🙂
Also, I recommend dipping these bad boys in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Mmmm…

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My Return to (Almost) Wheat-Free Eating

I have a confession to make… I have been a giant gluten-glutton since October. I have indulged in bread, dabbled in cupcakes, and even baked a loaf of real bread or two. Sigh… 

So that’s why I haven’t posted anything in a while, in case you were wondering. I think the biggest issue with being gluten-free has been going out for food. I started dating someone last summer and he wants to go out for food constantly, almost DAILY, and eating from a restricted menu at the same old restaurants gets really old, really fast. I guess you could say I caved – and boy am I regretting it! 

All that weight I lost? Oh yeah, that’s back. I’m possibly in the worst shape of my life also because I’m in class 7 hours a day sitting at a computer. I’m more lethargic than ever, I swear to god my vision is worse, my allergies have been so bad that I might have to start getting allergy injections again, and I’m pretty sure the bags under my eyes are going to start their own colony. Square one is the worst place to be. 

That being said, I’m going to go back to a *mostly* gluten-free diet. Being 100% absolutely gluten-free is tricky when you go to the occasional birthday party or nice meal, and I’d rather sporadically cheat than be like, “Well, guess I’m not gluten-free anymore! BRING ON THE PANCAKES!” and just binge for months like I’m going into hibernation. I keep having to remind myself that I am not a bear. 

Little Benny has been feeling the effects of my gluten obsession as well. All the carbs make me super tired and lazy, so he hasn’t been getting the long walks he so deserves/needs. Getting back into the groove of things is tricky, but I actually miss eating a clean diet. I look and feel like a whiny bag of garbage. To kickstart this (again) I made a delicious grilled salmon salad! I’ll post the very simple recipe in the next blog entry. 

Also, a little bit of potentially life-changing information for any of the ladies that follow my progress, some of you may recall that I struggled with anxiety/depression which was one of my initial reasons for going gluten-free. Firstly, let me just say that it did help a lot and I was much happier for it. Absolutely try going on a gluten-free diet if you want to elevate your mood and have more energy. But I also learned that my body wasn’t tolerating my birth control, which I had been taking for almost eight years, and I ended up going off of it. I have never been happier with any decision in my life. I know now that putting extra hormones into my body was completely changing  my mood and stopping me from being happy. I’d never even been able to have a long-term relationship before because I was so anxious all the time. I highly recommend looking into alternatives if you’re struggling with anxiety and you’re on the pill. I know that’s not related to being gluten-free, but I think it’s a really important thing to know!

 

Progress Report – Almost 2 weeks in!

Wow, I can’t believe I have not eaten any wheat in almost two weeks!  My life used to revolve around wheat-eating; it was the sun and I was just a planet spinning around it.  I can’t express how much better I feel since giving up wheat.  I definitely went through a period of withdrawals for the first 3-4 days, I must admit.  I would get these lightning quick chills that pulsed through my entire body out of nowhere.  Thankfully, those went away and now I can just sit back and not think about wheat.

Something interesting I’ve noticed is that I actually enjoy eating a lot more than I did before.  I used to look through the fridge and, despite having a ton of food, I would veto practically everything and crave something specific like a pot pie or pasta. Now when I open the fridge door I just pull out mixed greens, chicken, rice, etc., and put a meal together almost intuitively.  Salad is more delicious when you aren’t lusting over tortellini.

So far my allergies have improved, but aren’t entirely gone.  I’ll take the improvement, gladly.  I now weigh 122.8 lbs — 7.2 lbs less than my starting weight.

I still have loads of energy and feel better than I ever have before.  I should mention that while cutting out wheat is the main idea, lowering your intake of starches and sugar is also important.  So if you give up bread and switch to corn-based tortillas, you probably won’t see a ton of results because starches still spike your blood sugar. I also find it easier to avoid sugar, the less I eat it at all. When I’m feeling like I need a treat, I eat a couple squares of dark 85% cacao chocolate and that usually solves my problem.

Overall, so far so good.  I’m still not seeing a ton of results in regards to my body changing, but I figure that will come later.  The fact that I am losing weight, eating more, and not really exercising is pretty remarkable on it’s own.

That being said, my dog is thinking that I should put all this extra energy to good use and take him for a nice run!
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Wheat-Free for 9 Days and Feeling SO GOOD!

Hey everyone! Here is my update after being wheat-free for nine days.

So far it hasn’t really been that hard to give up the wheat. It’s like the the less you eat it, the less you miss it.  The only time I feel real temptation is when my pastry chef roommate brings home my favourite cupcakes (Coconut Cream Cheese!).  I continue to have bounds of energy and just feel better overall.  I enjoy getting up and starting my day, taking my dog to the park, tidying the house, reading, and walking into town and perusing the local markets now.

Yesterday I woke up with almost no allergy symptoms, which is pretty remarkable.  Today, once again, very minimal allergy symptoms.  On a normal day, I will literally blow my nose all the way through a box of tissues in 12 hours.  People will ask me if I’m sick, which is embarrassing, and I just feel gross and exhausted.  For the past two days I have only had the sniffs a couple times which is GREAT!

I should also mention that I stopped drinking milk, which could be helping my allergies. I didn’t drink a ton of milk before, but I did have a bowl of cereal pretty much every day.  And since i can’t eat my beloved Vector cereal anymore, I gave up milk too.  So every morning when I have my cup of coffee, I use coconut milk instead, which is absolutely delicious and healthy for you too!

On another note…. and I have no idea how this is possible… I’ve somehow lost 7 lbs in 9 days. I have been weighing in daily since I started and went from 130 – 129.4 – 128.6 – 127.6 – 126.4 – 126 – 125.8 – 125 – 123!

I have not weighed 123 lbs since high school! To recap, I’m a 23yo female, 5’7″ inches, overall slender. So dropping 7 lbs from my relatively small frame is astounding!  I haven’t seen much change physically, and here is what I think is happening: Wheat addiction causes a buildup of visceral fat, also known as intra-abdominal fat, which is fat that surrounds your internal organs.  It’s really hard to lose, compared to subcutaneous fat which lies on the surface.  So even though I’m a healthy weight overall, I may have a buildup of visceral fat that I just can’t see.

Happy with how it’s going so far!

Goodbye, Bagels. It’s been swell.

I never in a million years would have predicted that I would end my long-standing love affair with wheat.  Simply put, I love wheat.  I actually have sentimental feelings towards bagels.  If I open up the cupboard above the microwave and there is a bag of bagels in there, I get this warm, happy feeling of relief.  Everything will be okay.  Bagels are here.

I was the typical carb-obsessed wheat-eater.  A typical day’s meal plan would go something like this:

Breakfast

  • Big bowl of Vector cereal
  • A bagel with cream cheese

Lunch

  • Sandwich on whole wheat bread or a wrap
  • A granola bar
  • An apple

Dinner

  • Pasta with meat sauce, a pot pie, a wrap, or pizza
  • Probably a cupcake because my roommate is a baker

As you can see, I was neither the healthiest or least healthy eater.  The thing is, I ate mostly wheat products.  I never really thought this was a problem until I read the book, “Wheat Belly,” however.  Let me preface this by saying that I am not fat by any means. I am 5’7″, 130lbs, and fairly slender (and female, if that wasn’t already obvious). I am incredibly, almost impressively, inactive.  I am perpetually sitting down. I take very short walks each day because my dog forces me, and I don’t go to the gym. The fact that I am not fat is actually quite astounding, and infuriating, to some people.

So I read this book because my mother forced me to and it was actually pretty interesting. Its overall point was that wheat is no longer what it once was; it’s unnecessary, sprayed with chemicals, and actually unhealthy.  The author boasts that he has cured all kinds of illnesses and ailments by simply telling his patients to cut out wheat altogether.  For me, cutting out wheat was on par with cutting off a limb.  It would be like if someone chopped off your hands and said, “Now, go mow the lawn.” You have to get pretty creative and completely relearn how to do something that was once pretty straight-forward.

You may be wondering why I gave up wheat, and I have a few reasons behind it:

  1. I have horrendous allergies — to everything.  Dust, dogs, cats, grass, trees, flowers, perfume, smoke, nuts… you get the picture.  Luckily, none of these are life-threatening , except for the fact that they are so brutal they make me want to kill people.
  2. My complexion is garbage.  I’ve had relatively decent skin over the years but battled acne on and off since I was 13 (now 23).  Last year though, for whatever reason, my skin exploded with acne and shit just got real.  I mean, the kind of acne you see on someone walking down the street and you actually feel bad for them. I was put on Accutane, which thankfully is working miracles, but I don’t want to just break out again after I stop taking it. Apparently, wheat can cause acne (bastard!).
  3. I have some visceral fat I wouldn’t mind ridding myself of.  I am slender, but I have this layer of fat around my lower “abs” and obliques that is practically angling for squatters’ rights.  Bikini season is coming… I’m painfully aware of it.

I cut wheat 100% out of my diet a week ago exactly.  If you’ll take a gander at my eating habits prior to last week, you’ll probably wonder what the hell I’m eating.  I actually find this to be a relatively easy diet because it cuts out most unhealthy foods, forces you to eat veggies, and has actually turned me into a bit of a chef!  Without the convenience of wheat-based foods like granola bars, frozen pizzas, pot pies, and pasta, I actually have to PLAN my meals and think about what to eat rather than mindlessly grab something out of the cupboard.  I make different salads, oat muffins, chicken, fish, etc. and it’s way more enjoyable than the garbage I ate before.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: I have EXPONENTIALLY MORE ENERGY.  I used to be a professional sitter-downer. I could lie around doing nothing all day and never got the urge to do anything. If I accomplished ONE task, maybe do a load of laundry, I considered it a successful day.  Now, I do a million different things every day.  I clean constantly, which is completely out of character (just ask my roommates).  I reorganized my entire room, cleaned the fish bowl, cleaned the bathroom, bought a new duvet cover, went to the dog park, grocery shopped, etc., etc., because I felt like DOING SOMETHING.  I have never felt more capable of doing things.

Another weird thing, my sense of direction has improved markedly. I know lots of people say they are “the worst at directions,” but those people usually meet me and can’t believe how bad I am.  I have lived in the same city for about 20 years and I have never been able to navigate it, even with numbered streets.  I was driving my roommates across town two days ago and they were both completely stunned that I wasn’t constantly asking where to turn or what direction to go in.  I didn’t even realize it until they said it, but I actually understood how to get where I was going.  It was very liberating.

Thus far I’ve dropped 1.6 lbs in 7 days, now weighing in at 128.4 lbs.  Honestly, I can’t tell the difference, but who cares.  Makes me feel successful.

I’ve included a photo of a hangover sandwich my roommate and I enjoyed a couple weeks ago.  It consisted of bread, cheese whiz, three hot dogs, and Singles cheese. You can’t make this stuff up.

Oh, you will be missed.