GMO’s.

I’m on vacation in Grand Junction Colorado and then Laramie Wyoming, so this post is sort of filler. I don’t have any decent pictures for it, so I apologize.

There’s a lot of debate about GMO’s on the interwebs. Most of it isn’t friendly. There’s a great divide between people for GM food and people against it. From what I can tell, the two sides are starting from entirely different worldviews: GMO advocates believe in science over nature and those against are firmly on the side of nature. Myself? I think it’s arrogant of us to assume we can force genes into plants (particularly genes of different species) and have no ill-effects.

But I’m not here to talk about the theory and science behind GMO’s. I want to explain why it is that I avoid them.

I have had digestive problems since I was an infant. My mom tried really hard to breastfeed me but it just didn’t work out, so I started on formula. I was always a colicky baby and my parents have plenty of crazy diaper stories they love to share. Ever since I can remember I’ve had brain fog and stomach troubles; up until very recently I thought it was totally normal to alternate between constipation and diarrhea (it’s way not normal, by the by, it’s a sign of intestinal distress).

When my TSH was over 10 at a routine physical I cleaned up my diet and brought it back to normal range within 3 months. I was pretty strict about grains and dairy for a long time. I was essentially paleo but I still ate potatoes and beans.

When I cut the wheat (which is not GMO, just to clarify), the conventional corn, soy, and white sugar (beet sugar is GMO) my health improved drastically. I still had a long way to go, but I no longer suffered from the constant brain fog and my stomach was a lot better off.

These days I’m less strict about what I eat. That being said, I know if I’ve been eating things that are detrimental to my health. Soy is a big one. I do alright with organic soy, but conventional soy gives me a hangover, even in small amounts. I avoid soy on principle because of my thyroid, but sometimes it sneaks in in things like jarred pizza sauce, or something my husband has picked up from the store (which isn’t saying anything about his shopping abilities, he’s just not as concerned as I am and that’s OK).

Corn is another big one. Conventional corn gives my stomach a run for it’s money. Given that GM corn is designed to erode the intestines of the insects it’s meant to ward off, this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always been sensitive to things I ingest (like caffeine and alcohol or over the counter drugs) so I figure I’m also sensitive to herbicide residue and the BT that’s modified into the corn. It’s not much of a stretch to think that, since I’ve been eating BT corn for the majority of my life, my intestines are a little worse for wear. I know this because when I started my Live Blood Analysis I had two different kinds of undigested proteins in my blood and candida. Both of which indicate intestinal permeability. In my opinion, BT corn was a large part of the cause.

White (beet) sugar is less of an issue, but I do get a sugar hangover the next day if I have a moderate amount. Cane sugar doesn’t affect me the same way, so I use Sucanat for all of my sugar needs barring toffee and frosting. If I need refined sugar I always purchase organic.

So, there you have a super unscientific summary of why I avoid the major GMO’s. There are different kinds, like a strain of rice modified to contain vitamin A those potatoes modified to resist bruising (among others). I’m on the fence about those GMO’s that have nothing to do with herbicides or insecticides. I mean, cheese is mostly produced with a GM enzyme to avoid relying on calf stomachs for the rennet, so GM food is really difficult to avoid.

The bottom line is that the science is not settled -anyone who says this has no understanding of how science actually works, or is forgetting loads of history of science failing to identify problems it created- and there are too many unknowns for me to feel like GMO’s are a wholesome choice for my family. Given my personal health history and the resolution of symptoms when I started avoiding GM food, I’m keeping them off of my plate for now.

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Almond Butter.

IMG_0677I will never buy almond butter from the store again, or any kind of nut butter for that matter. Nut butters are so easy to make in a food processor and making your own saves you a fairly significant amount of money. Especially if you buy your nuts on sale in bulk.

I picked up almonds while at Natural Grocers and I noticed that they have raw Spanish almonds. They were nearly $14 a pound so I didn’t buy them, but it’s nice to know that I can buy raw almonds that are actually raw.

Almond Butter

4 cups raw almonds
Non-iodized sea salt
Water to soak
.5-1 ounce cocoa butter, melted (roughly 1-2 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
pinch of salt

  1. Place the almonds in a bowl and shake a moderate amount of non-iodized salt on top. Cover the almonds with water, making sure there is at least an inch of extra water on top. Let sit for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the almonds, place on a jellyroll pan (or other dish with sides) and dry in the oven on the lowest temperature setting for 12-24 hours, until they are no longer soggy when you bite them. You’ll be able to tell.
  3. Put the dry almonds in a food processor with an S blade and turn it on. Process for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Depending on the consistency of the resulting almond butter add in the .5-1 ounce of cocoa butter and coconut oil while the food processor is running.
  5. Enjoy.

Paleo. Is it Really the Diet of Our Ancestors?

I am reading two fantastic books right now. Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel and A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tony Sandage. Both of these books focus on what our ancestors ate (and both are fantastic so far). According to these two authors and at least one person on the internet grains have been a part of our diet for a long, long time. So, what does this mean for the paleo diet? Is it a fraud? Not necessarily. Though our paleolithic ancestors most likely ate grain, they ate it in a far, far different way than we eat it now.

Grain helped humans shift from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled way of life. Something that allowed people, for the first time, to have free time. This fostered all kinds of advances in society and technology like writing and even bureaucracy (lol). The catch here is that grain was always consumed sprouted and fermented. Beer was a staple foodstuff even being used as currency. According to ancient documents the workers who built the pyramids in Egypt were paid with beer and sometimes bread. That has nothing to do with paleolithic humans, but it’s a really interesting factoid.

Sprouting and fermenting grains unlocks the nutrients they contain which are otherwise unavailable to our bodies. Whole grains are the worst offenders in this case as they contain all of the phytic acid and lectins. This includes nuts. So that paleo nut butter? You’re not getting everything that the nutrition label says it has to offer. You’re not even really eating it the way a paleolithic person would have eaten it.

Luckily, sprouting and fermenting grain is super easy, it just takes some time. In my opinion grains that have been sprouted/fermented taste much better so I am quite happy to ferment them or sprout them. I haven’t combined the two methods yet, but I will. I’m also very strongly considering investing in a grain mill.

All of that being said, I am of the opinion that the paleo diet is another fad diet. I say that with an immense amount of respect for the diet itself because it helped me turn hypothyroidism around and improve my health in general. There are merits to “eating like a caveman” for sure, but I think it’s a bit hasty to cut out all grains for the rest of your life because a diet that claims to be what our ancestors ate told you to. The important thing to know is how to properly prepare grains to gain the most benefit from them and the least harm.

It just goes to show you: in this day and age you really, really, have to sift through all of the information available to find the truth. Yes, humans were hunter-gatherers exclusively for a long, long time. But the cultivation of grain increased our intellect and gave us a more stable life. Are grains the villain they’ve been made out to be? Absolutely, in the form that we are consuming them. But once they are properly prepared, grains are not the enemy.