Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fighting the good (immune) fight

This Winter has been a good one in terms of illness for me. 
I have managed to dodge the majority of bugs which have come knocking at my door due, in large part I believe, to daily (sometimes twice daily) yoga sessions. 

As those of you with autoimmune diseases can attest, this is no small feat.

However, there is something about the unholy triumvirate of changing seasons + a bit too much dairy + a sugar attack (hello slab of mint Lindt I comfort ate in the time span of a day) which kicked me in the metaphorical nuts. The throat tingle my husband brought home after sharing a classroom with a strep throat sufferer turned, for me, into a raging and lingering sinus/strep/chesty type infection which I am still fighting a week later.

Determined not to hot foot it to the doctor for a course of antibiotics if I can possibly help it, I have chosen instead to turn to the following mini arsenal, starting of course with the age old wisdom of:

  1. REST! Nothing to it but to do it - even when you are an antsy mo fo like myself who struggles to sit still.
  2. GINGER TEA. Fresh ginger. Boiled water. Feel the soothing and burning properties on an inflammed throat.
  3. ACC 200. There's a delicate way to say this, but I'm not going to find it. This stuff loosens up the mucous (aka snot) so that you can hack it out - great, big, green globs of it!
  4. LOCABIOTAL. Anti-bacterial. Antifungal. Anti-inflammatory. Spray the throat. Spray the nose. Hope for the best. Burns like a bastard.
  5. WILD OREGANO OIL. This is a new one I haven't tried. Simmy brought some home for me yesterday, so it is a brand new soldier in my fight. Apparently, it is touted as being nature's antibiotic. We'll see how it goes.
  6. DETOX YOGA. Granted, for the past six days my pressured head has balked at the thought of hanging upside down in downward dog and just having a shower has sent my heart into a frenzied flutter, but no matter. Today I started practising what I preach and incorporated a few detoxing poses into my standing moments, right here next to the bed. Keep the lymphatic system happy and what not.
So there you have it!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Link Love: Fun Reading This Week

I loved this post by Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl fame about gratitude and an appreciation for the mundane days.

Shenee's experience at a gym reminded me of two things: (1) Why I myself no longer go to gyms (but prefer to exercise in the quiet of nature), and (2) why I love taking a non-sizeist and non-elitist approach to teaching yoga at Tree of Life Yoga.

Yearning for minimalism and redefining your feelings about "stuff"? Courtney Carver of Be More With Less has a few suggestions on this topic.

Ashley Riordan eloquently has more to say on the topic.

And finally, for some kick-ass listening while reading, go no further than alt-J and their song: 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gluten-Free Travel: Scenes from Dublin

University College Dublin, coffee shop, dark chocolate, fortuitous signed copy of a Liz Ryan book.

University College Dublin, terriers everywhere checking out the water fowl sitch.

Fiji Coffee Bar, gluten-free baked goodies available routinely everywhere, imagine that.

Fiji Coffee Bar, vintagey juice bottle design, nice.

Hired a Raleigh bike, main form of transport regardless of the weather (soooo much rain!), fell in love with it - perfection.

Teapigs, rooibos is so international!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Haters gonna hate

I must admit to developing a certain disdain for the very occasional criticism slamming a recipe on my site which says something (or much, much worse) like:
It did not turn out looking exactly like yours. Explain yourself!

I used to take these criticisms personally, and try to trouble shoot for the person.
What exact flour did you use?
What size egg?
Was it a hot day or a rainy day, because liquid will need to be adjusted.
Sorry - hope it turned out edible anyway!

No more.

The recipes I provide usually:

  1. cater for multiple allergies,
  2. are written for the South African market, with non-specialty ingredients available at your local Super Spar or health shop,
  3. have been tested multiple times so that I know what I provide is a flop-proof base recipe for you to work with.
Flop-proof, yes, but not eejit-proof.

If you have a problem, try baking the recipe 5 or 10 times with variations until YOU come out with something which tastes good and looks good for YOU.

You take on the cost. You take on the time. You publish your results.

Until then, I'm hitting delete on these mean-spirited criticisms.

Baking is an imperfect science. 
Gluten-free baking more so. 
Gluten-free, egg-free baking even more so. 
Gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free baking - I mean, are you kidding me? The fact that it tastes like an original gluten-filled, egg-filled cake to begin with is an astounding masterpiece of magic (see this chocolate cake recipe!)

I was hesitant to broach this topic.

Well, no more.

P.S. You will see that comments have been turned off. Thanks for the many, many excellent comments I have received in the 5 years this site has been up. I appreciate every one. But for the rest, I'm going to go without them and the reminder of them.

P.P.S. I will continue to provide South Africa specific gluten-free advice, recipes, product warnings and restaurant recommendations while travelling to those who would like them.

P.P.P.S. For those people who have a genuine question for me about a recipe and want to engage with me kindly, and not just criticise me, please e-mail me. Genuine curiosity and a search for a better baked good is welcome.

Enough said.

Peace out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coeliac Warning: Woolworths Cream Cheese with Black Pepper

You know how Shakira said hips don't lie? Well, neither does my gut!
I have received confirmation that this product is processed on the factory line directly after the Sweet Chilli variety, which contains gluten in the flavouring.
It is important to note that nowhere on the packaging does it state that it is packaged in a factory which also processes gluten. The packaging only mentions nuts.

100g of black pepper cream cheese agony right there, folks.


Two weeks ago I tucked into some of this stuff spread on rice cakes for lunch.
By that evening, I was writhing in intestinal cramping agony.

By the following day, the other symptoms of accidental exposure to gluten cross-contamination had started:
Joint pain.
Kidney pain.
Stomach pain.
Inability to digest food.
The start of a flare-up of hidradenitis suppurativa (another uncharming autoimmune disease).
Zero energy.
A feeling of being on the edge of getting the flu.

It took me 5 days to get any sort of energy back.

I have had coeliac disease a long time.
I stick to the most innocuous food stuffs.

What the heck is a person supposed to do when ingredients listed as the following:

Jersey Milk, Microbial Rennet, Selected Cheese Cultures, Black Pepper

make you sick as a dog?

What happens when you can't trust labelling?

When you can't trust companies that say:
Packaged in a factory that handles peanuts and tree nuts
and have, it would seem, managed to cross contaminate their product with gluten in the process?

As Simeon said to me:
There is no excuse with cross-contamination for factories and industrial/restaurant kitchens who profess to being free from gluten any more. There are gluten testing kits available that give you almost instantaneous results for anything from 5 p.p.m. to 20 p.p.m.

You make me angry, Woolworths.
You make me angry with your disdain in your lack of response to a customer complaint.

For an example of the polar opposite:
This is a photos from a packet of Keogh's Irish Crisps, a product I felt confident consuming while travelling in Dublin (suitable for vegetarians and clearly labelled as gluten-free). I highly recommend them as a snack for coeliacs travelling in Ireland.

Now there is a great example of knowing what goes into your product, right down to the spud!