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Almost Grain Free Diet Days 8 and 9: Splenda is Not Splendid

Posted Sep 30 2010 10:11pm

I’ve had a pretty fun menu this week, with the exception of something that included Splenda (sucralose). :| I’ll get to that later on in the post, let’s talk about the more pleasant eats first! :)

Before I started this almost grain/legume-free diet experiment I made a list of grain and bean-free dishes that I’d like to try. That list keeps growing as I stumble upon yummy looking recipes, so I’m sure I’ll be dabbling in grain-free recipes long after this 31 day trial has passed. :)

Rainy autumn days have arrived, and that means it’s perfect soup weather here in the Catskills. With a little inspiration from our northeastern neighbors, I decided to remake Boston clam chowder to fit in with my little diet experiment. So: I omitted the flour/cornstarch and potatoes. Now, I’m not excluding potatoes from my grain-free diet, I’ll probably have a couple during the month, but I am limiting my starchy, high glycemic veggies to put more emphasis on lower calorie, fibrous veggies with lower GI loads. This isn’t set in stone of course, but you get the idea. :)

Lower Carb Boston Clam Chowder with Cauliflower
Gluten-free, grain-free


  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Two (14.5oz) cans chopped clams with juice (I used Cento baby clams)
  • Half of a head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or other non-grain thickening agent
  • Pinch of garlic salt (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, add in extra virgin olive oil, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and salt + pepper; stir and let cook down for a few minutes; mix around a few more times in between
  2. Add in the broth(s) (( you can use seafood or clam juice if you prefer )); then add in clams with their juice and the cauliflower; stir well
  3. Cover and let cook on medium for about 45-60 minutes or until cauliflower is thoroughly cooked
  4. Shut heat off, let cool down for a little bit, then stir in the thickening agent, milk, and cream; stir well, especially if using xanthan gum. Poke any lumps of thickener you find
  5. Turn heat back on and let simmer for another 20-30 minutes

Servings vary, I estimate 6-12 servings depending on the portion size

Notes: Avoid mashing the cauliflower to keep it more potato-like and chunky. Add more thickening agent if you want it thicker, be careful with xanthan gum: a little goes a long way!

I enjoyed the chowder with a crunchy little side salad

This was amazing! Both Dustin and my mom loved it and they’re not food-substitutions people. If I didn’t know any better, I might not notice that there’s cauliflower in there instead of potatoes. The texture and flavor is similar, though not identical. It definitely wasn’t missing them, though!! :D

I added a few splashes of Tabasco on a per-spoon basis, which was quite yummy. I had a cup of this the next day and added in a teaspoon of parmesan cheese and some Cholula hot sauce, YUM! Try mixing the cheese around in it for some extra flavor and heartiness. I’ll definitely make this again. :)

As tasty as the soup was, it didn’t keep me full for very long. About two hours later, my tummy was rumbling. :shock: I suppose something that is mainly water and pretty low in calories isn’t going to go very far. So: I made another salad–much bigger this time–and a chicken salad sandwich on a grain-free, gluten-free seedy roll.

These homemade grain-free seedy buns have helped me keep my sanity through this, LOL. They’re SO good! If you like seedy bread, you’ll love them.

That salad + sandwich combo hit the spot. My mom grilled a whole bunch of chicken tenderloin, which was pretty convenient when I wanted to make a sandwich. I love when sandwich components are already made; cuts prep time down significantly. :D

Monday’s Grain-Free Diet Menu:

  • One medium banana
  • 1oz Jarlsberg Swiss cheese
  • 10 raw almonds
  • About 2 cups homemade cauliflower clam chowder with a few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • Side salad with romaine lettuce, red onion, cucumber, olives from live bar, piece of a hot pepper, EVOO + red wine vinegar
  • Chicken salad sandwich on homemade grain-free seedy bun made with 1 chopped plump grilled chicken tender + 1 TBSP Hellmann’s olive oil mayo
  • Large salad with fresh baby spinach, romaine lettuce, red onion, carrots, cucumber, avocado, EVOO + red wine vinegar
  • Tablespoon of Smart Balance peanut butter
  • Honeycrisp apple
  • 3 olives from olive bar
  • Half of a raw fruit + nut bar (Raw Revolution)

On Tuesday, we went to Barnes & Noble in search of some cookbooks, then stopped at Hannaford on the way home for fresh produce. I was a little disappointed by the selection of, or lack of, grain-free cookbooks. Tucked away on the bottom shelf I found this little gem, which I was actually hoping I’d come across:

Many of you might recognize the author: Elana Amsterdam from Elana’s Pantry ! I’ve been stalking reading her recipes for awhile now and have been wanting to check out her cookbook, so I was excited to find it!! :mrgreen:

All of the recipes look phenomenal!!! I haven’t tried any yet, but I plan to today. I can’t wait to share my results with you guys. I’m hoping I can make her recipes taste half as good as they look. I actually ordered a huge 5-lb bag of blanched almond flour a few weeks ago from Honeyville after reading the recommendation on her web site and I’ve been pleased with the seedy bun recipe I have used it in, thus far. I’m not the most seasoned baker, and now I’m really delving into the unknown with grain-free baking, so if anything, I’ll at least have some funny stories to tell, LOL.

We were hungry and it was getting late; after 9:00PM and we were 40 minutes from home. So: we went to the Alexis Diner in Newburgh. It’s one of my favorite diners in the area, their food is always fresh and they have one of my favorite Greek salad dressings loaded with feta cheese. :P

We started with the shrimp cocktail…

It was good, but it was $9.95 for five shrimp :shock: !! Good, but not $2 per-mediocre-shrimp-good. :roll: Apparently we were wearing our hunger goggles. :lol:

I ordered the steak salad with the dressing that comes with Greek salads…

You can’t see them, but under the marinaded strips of London Broil there was a huge pile of black olives. :o LOVED!

I also ordered a scoop of tuna salad on the side…

I immediately found a use for the cucumbers in my salad:

Everything was delicious. I ate 2 strips of the steak, about 2/3 of the veggies in the salad, the better portion of the Greek dressing, and half of the tuna salad. Yeah, I was pretty hungry. Dustin must have been pretty hungry, too. My husband, who almost never orders dessert, ordered three Napoleons to take home before he ordered his meal. :shock: Are you kidding me?! When I’m on a semi grain-free, reduced sugar diet for the month his sweet tooth surfaces out of nowhere?? :evil: Ughhh, LOL!

Those pastries looked and SMELLED incredible. Of course he wanted me to try them (can you say X factor?, ha!) but I stood my ground and reluctantly declined. It seems like whenever either of us does something drastically different, the other assumes the role. I don’t know if we do it subconsciously or what, but whenever my appetite decreases, his perks up; whenever I’m losing weight, he’s gaining. :lol: We have traded places like that since we’ve known each other, it’s pretty funny. To his credit though, he has given up drinking soda + caffeinated beverages daily since July!! In June, he weaned himself off of Coca Cola by switching to Ginger Ale — not any healthier, but broke the habit nonetheless. Then by August 1st he completely gave up soda and switched to water as the majority of his fluid intake!!! :D He’ll have the occasional ginger ale when we eat out, but 9 times out of 10 he’ll order water, and not just tap water, has to be bottled water now, preferably mineral water, LOL. :roll: I’m so proud of him. <3

I digress.

So I had to endure the intoxicating aroma of those pastries on the way to Hannaford. When we got there, I decided to buy a grain-free, sugar-free treat that I normally wouldn’t eat or buy, but I figured a little wouldn’t do any harm, or so I thought. I picked out no sugar added Klondike bars with my sweet tooth hunger goggles on. The list of ingredients didn’t contain any grains or sugars, but, of course, it did contain about 500 chemicals and other funky crap. Gross. Oh well, whatever. I’m not planning to live off of these things, they’re just a treat. I’m not a purist, purists irritate me. Go live in your “perfect” world and butt out of mine, m’kay? Thx.  :lol:

They’re also not low in calories: 170 calories each, but at least no grains or sugar, right? ha! :roll: I ate one as soon as we got home while Dustin Mmm’ed and Aaah’ed over his Napoleon. The no sugar added Klondike bar was quite tasty, except for the horrible, unnatural aftertaste that accompanies artificial sweeteners. Yuck!

Fast forward to sleep that night…

I woke up 2 hours after I fell asleep with the worst heartburn. I thought it was just a fluke being that when my stomach is really acting up I’m hardly ever woken up by it. So: I went back to sleep, then woke up about 4 hours later with the worst stomach pains. I’ve had very uncomfortable lower stomach pains on and off since I had food poisoning 3 years ago, but the most severe episodes are usually months apart, but I am positive that the sucralose (Splenda) in the no sugar added Klondike bar triggered this because I didn’t eat anything else out of the ordinary that would cause it.

I couldn’t fall back asleep, I felt awful. I’ll spare you from the rest of the details, but let’s just say that I am convinced that sucralose does not agree with my tummy. :( I did a little research on Google and found that Splenda has unpleasant digestive side effects for many people and lab rats. I’m not much for artificial sweeteners anyway; I’ll have a little now and then, but for the most part I avoid them. Splenda is definitely off of my “moderation” list being it’s proven to aggravate my already-hostile digestive tract. I also may have figured out why most “100 calorie” buns upset my stomach: they almost always contain sucralose! I thought it might have been the high fiber content or some other funky ingredient, but I’m convinced that it’s the sucralose now.

Come to think of it, I had a very bad tummy episode after sugar-free frozen yogurt made with Splenda one time. :idea: A lot of things are starting to make sense! I tend to overlook small amounts of things like that being I don’t consume them very often, but now I know that I can’t have even the smallest amounts. Thankfully, stevia and other zero calorie sweeteners don’t bother me like this. For the most part I’ll stick with real sugar or honey! No amount of stress on your body is worth enduring to save a few calories. I’m not avoiding added sugars completely during this grain/legume-free diet, just minimizing them. Next time I’ll opt for a few spoonfuls of real ice cream or non-dairy ice cream. The no sugar added Klondikes are going into the garbage where they belong as far as I’m concerned. :mad: Lesson learned!

Tuesday’s Grain-Free Diet Menu:

  • 2 Sargento reduced fat mozzarella string cheeses
  • Granny Smith apple
  • 2 shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • 2/3 of steak salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, black olives, and Greek feta dressing from diner
  • Half scoop tuna salad, about 1/3 cup
  • Evil no sugar added Klondike bar
  • About a cup of plain steamed broccoli spears
  • Leftover strip of London Broil from dinner salad
  • About a cup of cauliflower clam chowder with a teaspoon of parmesan cheese + Cholula hot sauce
  • About a tablespoon of Mr. Spice no salt garlic steak sauce
  • Leftover tuna from diner on homemade grain-free seedy roll
  • Small salad made with romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, red onion, EVOO + red wine vinegar

I had my Wednesday “cheat” meal yesterday, but that will have to wait for my next update. :)

Other than the extreme episode that was most likely caused by the Splenda, my usual stomach issues haven’t changed. Same ole, same ole. So many variables, none of which I am consistently trying to eliminate, but so far my 75% grain/legume reduction hasn’t changed much. Real elimination diets typically take time to see results and dedication to avoiding certain ingredients. They shouldn’t be approached nonchalantly like this experimental diet that I am trying. I implore you to do your personal elimination diets with absolute accuracy and awareness unlike my unofficial, partial tests.

Question: Do you have any food allergies, intolerances, or mysterious digestive problems? Share your stories! :D

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