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Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly by William Davis

Here are some of my favourite excerpts…

The result: A loaf of bread, biscuit, or pancake of today is different than its counterpart of a thousand years ago, different even from what our grandmothers made. They might look the same, even taste much the same, but there are biochemical differences. Small changes in wheat protein structure can spell the difference between a devastating immune response to wheat protein versus no immune response at all.

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It was simply assumed that, because hybridization and breeding efforts yielded plants that remained essentially “wheat,” new strains would be perfectly well tolerated by the consuming public. Agricultural scientists, in fact, scoff at the idea that hybridization has the potential to generate hybrids that are unhealthy for humans. After all, hybridization techniques have been used, albeit in cruder form, in crops, animals, even humans for centuries. Mate two varieties of tomatoes, you still get tomatoes, right? What’s the problem? The question of animal or human safety testing is never raised. With wheat, it was likewise assumed that variations in gluten content and structure, modifications of other enzymes and proteins, qualities that confer susceptibility or resistance to various plant diseases, would all make their way to humans without consequence. Judging by research findings of agricultural geneticists, such assumptions may be unfounded and just plain wrong. Analyses of proteins expressed by a wheat hybrid compared to its two parent strains have demonstrated that, while approximately 95 percent of the proteins expressed in the offspring are the same, 5 percent are unique, found in neither parent.5 Wheat gluten proteins, in particular, undergo considerable structural change with hybridization. In one hybridization experiment, fourteen new gluten proteins were identified in the offspring that were not present in either parent wheat plant.6 Moreover, when compared to century-old strains of wheat, modern strains of Triticum aestivum express a higher quantity of genes for gluten proteins that are associated with celiac disease.7

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Wheat, in fact, nearly stands alone as a food with potent central nervous system effects. Outside of intoxicants such as ethanol (like that in your favorite merlot or chardonnay), wheat is one of the few foods that can alter behavior, induce pleasurable effects, and generate a withdrawal syndrome upon its removal. And it required observations in schizophrenic patients to teach us about these effects.

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However, many gluten-free foods are made by replacing wheat flour with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch (starch extracted from the root of the cassava plant). This is especially hazardous for anybody looking to drop twenty, thirty, or more pounds, since gluten-free foods, though they do not trigger the immune or neurological response of wheat gluten, still trigger the glucose-insulin response that causes you to gain weight. Wheat products increase blood sugar and insulin more than most other foods. But remember: Foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch are among the few foods that increase blood sugar even more than wheat products.

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Alternatively, elimination of wheat reduces acne. By also eliminating dairy and other processed carbohydrates such as chips, tacos, and tortillas, you’ll largely disable the insulin machinery that triggers acne formation. If there’s such a thing in this world, you might even have a grateful teenager on your hands.

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If the gap left by wheat is filled with vegetables, nuts, meats, eggs, avocados, olives, cheese—i.e., real food—then not only won’t you develop a dietary deficiency, you will enjoy better health, more energy, better sleep, weight loss, and reversal of all the abnormal phenomena we’ve discussed. If you fill the gap left by excising wheat products with corn chips, energy bars, and fruit drinks, then, yes, you will simply have replaced one undesirable group of foods with another undesirable group; you’ve achieved little. And you may indeed become deficient in several important nutrients, as well as continue in the unique American shared experience of getting fat and becoming diabetic.

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Should you choose to go further than just removing wheat, you must replace lost wheat calories with real food. I distinguish real food from highly processed, herbicided, genetically modified, ready-to-eat, high-fructose corn syrup–filled, just-add-water food products, the ones packaged with cartoon characters, sports figures, and other clever marketing ploys.

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In addition, eliminating wheat from your diet actually enhances B vitamin absorption. It is not uncommon, for instance, for vitamin B12 and folate, along with levels of iron, zinc, and magnesium, to increase with removal of wheat, since gastrointestinal health improves and, along with it, nutrient absorption.

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To food manufacturers, wheat is like nicotine in cigarettes: the best insurance they have to encourage continued consumption. (Incidentally, other common ingredients in processed foods that increase consumption, though not as potent as wheat’s effect, include high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, cornstarch, and salt. These are also worth avoiding.)

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But once you’ve eliminated wheat from your diet, appetite is no longer driven by the glucose-insulin roller coaster of satiety and hunger, and you won’t need to get your next “fix” of brain-active exorphins. After a 7:00 a.m. breakfast of two scrambled eggs with vegetables, peppers, and olive oil, for instance, you likely won’t be hungry until noon or 1 p.m.

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A lunch, for instance, of tuna (without bread) mixed with mayonnaise or olive oil-based dressing, along with zucchini slices and a handful (or several handfuls) of walnuts will not trigger the glucose-insulin high-low at all, just a seamless normal blood sugar that has no sleep- or fog-provoking effect.

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If you wish to roll back the appetite-stimulating, insulin-distorting, and small LDL–triggering effects of foods beyond wheat, or if substantial weight loss is among your health goals, then you should consider reducing or eliminating the following foods in addition to eliminating wheat. • Cornstarch and cornmeal—cornmeal products such as tacos, tortillas, corn chips, and corn breads, breakfast cereals, and sauces and gravies thickened with cornstarch • Snack foods—potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn. These foods, like foods made of cornstarch, send blood sugar straight up to the stratosphere. • Desserts—Pies, cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, sherbet, and other sugary desserts all pack too much sugar. • Rice—white or brown; wild rice. Modest servings are relatively benign, but large servings (more than ½ cup) generate adverse blood sugar effects. • Potatoes—White, red, sweet potatoes, and yams cause effects similar to those generated by rice. • Legumes—black beans, butter beans, kidney beans, lima beans; chickpeas; lentils. Like potatoes and rice, there is potential for blood sugar effects, especially if serving size exceeds ½ cup. • Gluten-free foods—Because the cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch used in place of wheat gluten causes extravagant blood sugar rises, they should be avoided. • Fruit juices, soft drinks—Even if they are “natural,” fruit juices are not that good for you. While they contain healthy components such as flavonoids and vitamin C, the sugar load is simply too great for the benefit. Small servings of two to four ounces are generally fine, but more will trigger blood sugar consequences. Soft drinks, especially carbonated, are incredibly unhealthy mostly due to added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, colorings, and the extreme acid challenge from the carbonic acid carbonation. • Dried fruit—dried cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, apricots • Other grains—Nonwheat grains such as quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, and possibly oats lack the immune system and exorphin consequences of wheat. However, they post substantial carbohydrate challenges, sufficient to generate high blood sugars. I believe these grains are safer than wheat, but small servings (less than ½ cup) are key to minimize the blood sugar impact.

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So what can you eat? There are several basic principles that can serve you well in your wheat-free campaign. Eat vegetables. You already knew that. While I am no fan of conventional wisdom, on this point conventional wisdom is absolutely correct: Vegetables, in all their wondrous variety, are the best foods on planet earth. Rich in nutrients such as flavonoids and fiber, they should form the centerpiece of everyone’s diet. Prior to the agricultural revolution, humans hunted and gathered their food. The gathered part of the equation refers to plants such as wild onions, garlic mustard, mushrooms, dandelions, purslane, and countless others. Anyone who says, “I don’t like vegetables” is guilty of not having tried them all, the same people who think that the world of vegetables ends at creamed corn and canned green beans. You can’t “not like it” if you haven’t tried it. The incredible range of tastes, textures, and versatility of vegetables means there are choices for everyone, from eggplant sliced and baked with olive oil and meaty portobello mushrooms; to a Caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and olive oil; to daikon radish and pickled ginger alongside fish. Extend your vegetable variety beyond your usual habits. Explore mushrooms such as shiitake and porcini. Adorn cooked dishes with alliums such as scallions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. Vegetables shouldn’t just be for dinner; think about vegetables for any time of day, including breakfast. Eat some fruit. Notice that I did not say, “Eat fruits and vegetables.” That’s because the two don’t belong together, despite the phrase sliding out of the mouths of dietitians and others echoing conventional thinking. While vegetables should be consumed ad libitum, fruit should be consumed in limited quantities. Sure, fruit contains healthy components, such as flavonoids, vitamin C, and fiber. But fruit, especially herbicided, fertilized, cross-bred, gassed, and hybridized fruit, has become too rich in sugar. Year-round access to high-sugar fruits can overexpose you to sugars, sufficient to amplify diabetic tendencies. I tell patients that small servings, such as eight to ten blueberries, two strawberries, a few wedges of apple or orange, are fine; more than that starts to provoke blood sugar excessively. Berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, cherries) are at the top of the list with the greatest nutrient content and the least sugars, while bananas, pineapple, mango, and papaya need to be especially limited due to high sugar content.

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Eat raw nuts. Raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and cashews are wonderful. And you can eat as much as you want. They’re filling and full of fiber, monounsaturated oils, and protein. They reduce blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol (including small LDL particles), and consuming them several times a week can add two years to your life.2 You can’t overdo nuts, provided they’re raw. (Raw means not roasted in hydrogenated cottonseed or soybean oils, not “honey roasted,” not beer nuts or any of the other endless variations in processed nuts, variations that transform healthy raw nuts into something that causes weight gain, high blood pressure, and increases LDL cholesterol.)

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Eat dairy products. Enjoy cheese, another wonderfully diverse food. Recall that fat is not the issue, so enjoy familiar full-fat cheeses such as Swiss or Cheddar, or exotic cheeses such as Stilton, Crotin du Chavignol, Edam, or Comté. Cheese serves as a wonderful snack or the centerpiece of a meal. Other dairy products such as cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, and butter should be consumed in limited quantities of no more than one or two servings per day. I believe that adults should limit dairy products outside of cheese due to the insulinotropic effect of dairy proteins, the tendency that dairy protein has to increase pancreatic release of insulin.4 (The fermentation process required to make cheese reduces the content of amino acids responsible for this effect.) Dairy products should also be in the least processed form. For instance, choose full-fat, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt over sugar-containing, high-fructose corn syrup–sweetened yogurt. Most people with lactose intolerance are able to consume at least some cheese, provided it is real cheese that has been subjected to a fermentation process. (You can recognize real cheese by the words “culture” or “live culture” in the list of ingredients, meaning a live organism was added to ferment the milk.) Fermentation reduces lactose content in the final cheese product. People who are lactose intolerant also have the option of choosing dairy products that include added lactase enzyme or taking the enzyme in pill form.

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Because it is now virtually impossible to tell what foods have soy that has been genetically modified, I advise patients to consume soy in modest quantities and preferably in fermented form, e.g., tofu, tempeh, miso, and natto, since fermentation degrades the lectins and phytates in soy that can potentially exert adverse intestinal effects.

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Consume in unlimited quantities Vegetables (except potatoes and corn)—including mushrooms, herbs, squash Raw nuts and seeds—almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamias; peanuts (boiled or dry roasted); sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds; nut meals Oils—extra-virgin olive, avocado, walnut, coconut, cocoa butter, flaxseed, macadamia, sesame Meats and eggs—preferably free-range and organic chicken, turkey, beef, pork; buffalo; ostrich; wild game; fish; shellfish; eggs (including yolks) Cheese Non-sugary condiments—mustards, horseradish, tapenades, salsa, mayonnaise, vinegars (white, red wine, apple cider, balsamic), Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili or pepper sauces Others: flaxseed (ground), avocados, olives, coconut, spices, cocoa (unsweetened) or cacao

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Consume in limited quantities Non-cheese dairy—milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, butter Fruit—Berries are the best: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and cherries. Be careful of the most sugary fruits, including pineapple, papaya, mango, and banana. Avoid dried fruit, especially figs and dates, due to the excessive sugar content. Whole corn (not to be confused with cornmeal or cornstarch, which should be avoided) Fruit juices Nonwheat, nongluten grains—quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, rice (brown and white), oats, wild rice Legumes—black beans, kidney beans, butter beans, Spanish beans, lima beans; lentils; chickpeas; potatoes (white and red), yams, sweet potatoes Soy products—tofu, tempeh, miso, natto; edamame, soybeans

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Consume rarely or never Wheat products—wheat-based breads, pasta, noodles, cookies, cakes, pies, cupcakes, breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, pita, couscous; rye, bulgur, triticale, kamut, barley Unhealthy oils—fried, hydrogenated, polyunsaturated (especially corn, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, cottonseed, soybean) Gluten-free foods—specifically those made with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch Dried fruit—figs, dates, prunes, raisins, cranberries Fried foods Sugary snacks—candies, ice cream, sherbet, fruit roll-ups, craisins, energy bars Sugary fructose-rich sweeteners—agave syrup or nectar, honey, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose Sugary condiments—jellies, jams, preserves, ketchup (if contains sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup), chutney

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Odds and ends. Olives (green, kalamata, stuffed, in vinegar, in olive oil), avocados, pickled vegetables (asparagus, peppers, radish, tomatoes), and raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame) are among the nutritional odds and ends that provide variety. It’s important to extend your food choices outside of familiar habits, since part of the success of diet is variety in order to provide plentiful vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytonutrients.

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Condiments are to food as clever personalities are to conversation: They can run you through the full range of emotions and twists in reason, and make you laugh. Keep a supply of horseradish, wasabi, and mustards (Dijon, brown, Chinese, Creole, chipotle, wasabi, horseradish, and the unique varieties of regional mustards), and vow to never use ketchup again (especially any made with high-fructose corn syrup). Tapenades (spreads made of a paste of olives, capers, artichokes, portobello mushrooms, and roasted garlic) can be purchased ready-made to spare you the effort and are wonderful spreads for eggplant, eggs, or fish. You probably already know that salsas are available in wide variety or can be readily made in minutes using a food processor. Seasonings should not begin and end at salt and pepper. Herbs and spices not only are a great source of variety but also add to the nutritional profile of a meal. Fresh or dried basil, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, and dozens of other herbs and spices are available in any well-stocked grocery store.

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Bulgur, kamut, barley, triticale, and rye share genetic heritage with wheat and therefore have at least some of the potential effects of wheat and should be avoided. Other nonwheat grains, such as oats (though, for some gluten-intolerant people, especially those with immune-mediated diseases such as celiac disease, even oats may fall into the “never” list), quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, chia seed, and sorghum, are essentially carbohydrates without the immune or brain effects of wheat. While not as undesirable as wheat, they do take a metabolic toll. Therefore, these grains are best used after the wheat withdrawal process is over, once metabolic goals and weight loss have been achieved, and a relaxation of diet is permissible. If you are among those with a powerful potential for wheat addiction, you should be careful with these grains, as well. Because they are rich in carbohydrates, they also increase blood sugar flagrantly in some, though not all, people. Oatmeal, for instance, whether “stone-ground,” Irish, or slow-cooked, will cause blood sugar to skyrocket. No diet should be dominated by any of these grains, nor do you need them. But most people can do fine by ingesting these grains in modest quantities (e.g., ¼ to ½ cup). The exception: If you have proven gluten sensitivity, then you must meticulously avoid rye, barley, bulgur, triticale, kamut, and perhaps oats.

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In the world of grains, one grain stands apart, since it consists entirely of protein, fiber, and oils: flaxseed. Because it is essentially free of carbohydrates that increase blood sugar, ground flaxseed is the one grain that fits nicely into this approach (the unground grain is indigestible). Use ground flaxseed as a hot cereal (heated, for instance, with milk, unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or coconut water, or soymilk, with added walnuts or blueberries) or add it to foods such as cottage cheese or chilis. You can also use it to make a breading for chicken and fish.

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A similar cautionary note that applies to nonwheat grains also applies to legumes (outside of peanuts). Kidney beans, black beans, Spanish beans, lima beans, and other starchy beans have healthy components in them such as protein and fiber, but the carbohydrate load can be excessive if consumed in large quantities. A 1-cup serving of beans typically contains 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates, a quantity sufficient to substantially impact blood sugar in many people. For this reason, as with nonwheat grains, small servings (½ cup) are preferable.

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Vegetarians will, admittedly, have a bit of a tougher job, particularly strict vegetarians and vegans who avoid eggs, dairy, and fish. But it can be done. Strict vegetarians need to rely more heavily on nuts, nut meals, seeds, nut and seed butters, and oils; avocados and olives; and may have a bit more leeway with carbohydrate-containing beans, lentils, chickpeas, wild rice, chia seed, sweet potatoes, and yams. If nongenetically modified soy products can be obtained, then tofu, tempeh, and natto can provide another rich source of protein.

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Because of the excessive carbohydrate sensitivity most adults have acquired through years of excessive carbohydrate consumption, I find that most do best maintaining daily carbohydrate intake to approximately 50 to 100 grams per day.

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DAY 1 Breakfast Hot coconut flaxseed cereal* Lunch Large tomato stuffed with tuna or crabmeat mixed with chopped onions or scallions, mayonnaise Selection of mixed olives, cheeses, pickled vegetables Dinner Wheat-free pizza* Mixed green salad (or mixed red- and green-leafed lettuce) with radicchio, chopped cucumber, sliced radishes, worry-free ranch dressing* Carrot cake* DAY 2 Breakfast Eggs scrambled with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, basil pesto, and feta cheese Handful of raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios Lunch Baked portobello mushroom stuffed with crabmeat and goat cheese Dinner Baked wild salmon or seared tuna steaks with wasabi sauce* Spinach salad with walnuts or pine nuts, chopped red onion, Gorgonzola cheese, vinaigrette dressing* Ginger spice cookies* DAY 3 Breakfast Hummus with sliced green peppers, celery, jicama, radishes Apple walnut “bread”* spread with cream cheese, natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter Lunch Greek salad with black or kalamata olives, chopped cucumber, tomato wedges, cubed feta cheese; extra-virgin olive oil with fresh lemon juice or vinaigrette dressing* Dinner Baked chicken or three-cheese eggplant bake* Zucchini “pasta” with baby bella mushrooms* Dark chocolate tofu mousse* DAY 4 Breakfast Classic cheesecake with wheatless crust* (Yes, cheesecake for breakfast. How much better does it get than that?) Handful of raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios Lunch Turkey avocado wraps* (using flax wraps*) Granola* Dinner Pecan-encrusted chicken with tapenade* Wild rice Asparagus with roasted garlic olive oil* Chocolate peanut butter fudge* DAY 5 Breakfast Caprese salad (sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil) Apple walnut “bread”* spread with cream, natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter Lunch Tuna avocado salad* Ginger spice cookies* Dinner Shirataki noodle stir-fry* Berry coconut smoothie* DAY 6 Breakfast Egg and pesto breakfast wrap* Handful of raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios Lunch Mixed vegetable soup with added flaxseed or olive oil Dinner Parmesan-breaded pork chops with balsamic-roasted vegetables* Apple walnut “bread”* with cream cheese or pumpkin butter DAY 7 Breakfast Granola* Apple walnut “bread”* spread with natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter Lunch Spinach and mushroom salad* with worry-free ranch dressing* Dinner Flax burrito: Flaxseed wraps* with black beans; ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey, or tofu; green peppers; jalapeño peppers; Cheddar cheese; salsa Mexican tortilla soup* Jicama dipped in guacamole Classic cheesecake with wheatless crust.

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Nonetheless, it’s still nice to have an occasional snack. In a wheat-free regimen, healthy snack choices include: Raw nuts—Again, choose raw over dry roasted, smokehouse, honey roasted, or glazed varieties. (Recall that peanuts, a legume and not a nut, should be dry roasted, not raw.) Cheese—Cheese doesn’t end at Cheddar. A plate of cheeses, raw nuts, and olives can serve as a more substantial snack. Cheese will keep at least a few hours without refrigeration and therefore makes a great portable snack. The world of cheese is as diverse as the world of wine, with wonderfully varied tastes, smells, and textures, allowing pairing of varieties with other foods. Dark chocolates—You want cacao with just enough sugar to make it palatable. The majority of chocolates sold are chocolate-flavored sugar. The best choices contain 85 percent or more cacao. Lindt and Ghirardelli are two widely distributed brands that make delicious 85 to 90 percent cacao chocolates. Some people need to get accustomed to the slightly bitter, less sweet taste of high-cacao chocolates. Shop around for your favorite brand, as some are winey tasting, others earthy. The Lindt 90 percent is my favorite, since its very low sugar content allows me to enjoy just a bit more. Two squares will not budge most people’s blood sugar; some can get away with four squares (40 grams, about 2 inches by 2 inches). You can dip or spread your dark chocolate with natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter for a healthy version of a peanut butter cup. You can also add cocoa powders to recipes; the healthiest are the “undutched” varieties, i.e., not treated with alkali, since this process removes much of the healthful flavonoids that reduce blood pressure, increase HDL cholesterol, and induce relaxation of arteries. Ghirardelli, Hershey, and Scharffen Berger produce undutched cocoas. Mixing cocoa powder, milk/soymilk/coconut milk, cinnamon, and nonnutritive sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, xylitol, and erythritol makes a great hot cocoa. Low-carb crackers—As a general rule, I believe we are best sticking to “real” foods, not imitations or synthetic modifications. However, as an occasional indulgence, there are some tasty low-carb crackers that you can use to dip into hummus, guacamole, cucumber dip (remember: we’re not limiting oils or fats), or salsa. Mary’s Gone Crackers is one manufacturer of nonwheat crackers (caraway, herb, black pepper, and onion) and Sticks & Twigs “pretzels” (chipotle tomato, sea salt, and curry) made with brown rice, quinoa, and flaxseed. Each cracker or pretzel has a little more than 1 gram of “net” carbs (total carbohydrates minus indigestible fiber), so eating several will usually not result in an undesirable rise in blood sugar. More manufacturers are introducing crackers whose principal ingredient is flaxseed, such as Flackers, made by Minneapolis’ Doctor in the Kitchen. Alternatively, if you have a food dehydrator, dried vegetables such as zucchini and carrots make great chips for dipping. Vegetable dips—All you need are some precut veggies such as peppers, raw green beans, radishes, sliced zucchini, or scallions, and some interesting dips, such as black bean dip, hummus, vegetable dip, wasabi dip, mustards such as Dijon or horseradish, or cream cheese–based dips, all of which are widely available premade.

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keep it simple. Baked salmon with a ginger sauce is likely to be a safe bet.

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Wheat:

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Kamut

Modified food starch

Seitan (nearly pure gluten used in place of meat)

Textured vegetable protein

Miso

Teriyaki sauce

Curry powder Seasoning mixes Taco seasoning

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CHEESE—Because the cultures used to ferment some cheeses come in contact with bread (bread mold), they potentially present a gluten exposure risk. Blue cheese Cottage cheese (not all) Gorgonzola cheese Roquefort

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Wheat possibilities: Artificial colors Artificial flavors Caramel coloring (?) Caramel flavoring (?) Dextrimaltose Emulsifiers Maltodextrin (?) Modified food starch Stabilizers Textured vegetable protein

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BERRY-COCONUT SMOOTHIE This smoothie is perfect for a breakfast on the run or as a quick snack. You will find it more filling than most smoothies thanks to the coconut milk. Berries are the only sweetener, which keeps the sugar to a minimum. Makes 1 serving ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt ¼ cup blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or other berries ½ cup unflavored or vanilla whey protein powder 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (can be purchased pre-ground) ½ teaspoon coconut extract 4 ice cubes Combine the coconut milk, yogurt, berries, whey protein, flaxseed, coconut extract, and ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

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EGG AND PESTO BREAKFAST WRAP This delicious wrap can be prepared the evening before and refrigerated overnight as a convenient and filling breakfast. Makes 1 serving 1 Flaxseed Wrap (page 244) 1 tablespoon basil pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced thinly 2 thin slices tomato Handful of baby spinach or shredded lettuce If the wrap is freshly made, allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Then spread the pesto in a 2-inch strip down the 1 center of the wrap. Placed sliced egg on the pesto strip, followed by tomato slices. Top with spinach or lettuce. Roll up.

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FLAXSEED wrap Wraps made with flaxseed and egg are surprisingly tasty. Once you get the hang of it, you can whip up a wrap or two in just a few minutes. If you have two pie pans, you can make two wraps at a time and accelerate the process (though they will need to be microwaved one at a time). Flaxseed wraps can be refrigerated and will keep for a few days. Healthy variations are possible simply by using various vegetable juices (such as spinach or carrot) in place of the water called for. Makes 1 serving 3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (can be purchased pre-ground) ¼ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon onion powder ¼ teaspoon paprika Pinch of fine sea salt or celery salt 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pans 1 tablespoon water 1 large egg Mix together the ground flaxseeds, baking powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in the 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Beat in the egg and 1 tablespoon water until blended. Grease a microwave-safe glass or plastic pie pan with coconut oil. Pour in the batter and spread evenly over the bottom. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked. Let cool about 5 minutes. To remove, lift up an edge with a spatula. If it sticks, use a pancake turner to gently loosen from the pan. Flip the wrap over and top with desired ingredients.

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TUNA-AVOCADO SALAD Few combinations burst with as much flavor and zest as this mixture of avocado with lime and fresh cilantro. If being prepared for later, the avocado and lime are best added just before serving. The salad can be served as is or with added salad dressing. Avocado salad dressings match particularly well. Makes 2 servings 4 cups mixed greens or baby spinach 1 carrot, shredded 4 ounces tuna (pouch or canned) 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cubed 2 lime wedges Combine the greens and carrot in a salad bowl (or storage bowl). Add the tuna and cilantro and toss to combine. Just before serving, add the avocado and squeeze the lime wedges over the salad. Toss and serve immediately.

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ZUCCHINI “pasta” with baby bella mushrooms Using zucchini in place of conventional wheat pasta provides a different taste and texture, but is quite delicious in its own right. Because the zucchini is less assertive in taste than wheat pasta, the more interesting the sauce and toppings, the more interesting the “pasta” will be. Makes 2 servings 1 pound zucchini 8 ounces uncured (nitrite-free) sausage, ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork (optional) 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 8 to 10 baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil Salt and ground black pepper 1 cup tomato sauce or 4 ounces pesto ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into ribbons using the vegetable peeler until you reach the seed core. (Reserve the seed core and peel for another use, such as a salad.) If using meat: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet. Cook the meat, breaking it up with a spoon, until cooked through. Drain off the fat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet along with the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms soften, 2 to 3 minutes. If not using meat: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. In either case: Add the zucchini strands to the skillet and cook until the zucchini softens, no more than 5 minutes. Add the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with tomato sauce or pesto and sprinkled with the Parmesan.

 

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