I have come to the realization I need to be 100% gluten-free with no exceptions. We took a family trip to the mall last weekend to take the kids to Build-a-Bear. My daughter had never been, and my son went once when we were in Chicago visiting my brother when he was 1.5 years old. Needless to say he doesn’t remember. It was so much fun watching them design their own bear and it was even more fun for me because both the kids didn’t want any clothes or accessories-yup, we walked out of the store thinking it was going to cost us about $30 bucks more than it did. Since it was nearing lunch and we saved some money on bears, we decided to treat the kids to lunch out. We ended up eating at one of those Chinese restaurants in a food court. I know you are probably thinking “Really Pam? Food court Chinese food?!” But honestly I thought that it would have more of a selection than your typical pizza or burger joint. I mean what’s a paleo girl to do? Sometimes I don’t always travel with my construction worker cooler full of food…I know shocking. I ended up with beef & broccoli with mixed veggies, the kids got some pork with green beans and egg noodles, and Brent got some fried chicken in sauce with the egg noodles and veggies. Honestly by the time we were done eating and walking to the car I was already bloated and not feeling well. 25 minutes later when we all got home, Brent was in the bathroom, I was headed to bed to rest, and the kids rested while having a show. UGH! I honestly had about 10 bites of the noodles and a few bites of Brent’s chicken. I honestly didn’t think what I ate would cause me to feel so sick. I will say though that yesterday was the first time that Brent got as sick as he did from a gluten exposure. Usually he is the “iron stomach” of the family and can eat whatever and drink beer and be fine.
It still amazes me how you can go your whole life eating something and have no idea that it really isn’t good for you, or that your body shouldn’t be eating it. How I explain this crazy phenomenon to my students in nutrition class is with my gasoline example. If you walked into a room where there was an open container of gasoline, you would immediately notice the strong and familiar odor. If you stayed in the room with the open container of gasoline for an hour or so, you would eventually become accustomed to the smell and not notice it so much. So what happened? Did the smell decrease or did your body just adjust to it? Basically olfactory fatigue sets in and your sense of smell down-regulates the odor. Just because you can’t smell the gasoline anymore doesn’t mean that you are not still breathing in all the toxins.
So how does this relate to gluten exposure? Well in a very similar way actually. With repeated gluten exposure our body’s defense mechanism gears up by secreting more mucus in the stomach to protect the lining from damage. Also regulatory T cells “Treg” are cells that are a component of our immune system and function to suppress immune response of other cells. It’s basically our body’s self-checking system to prevent an exaggerated immune response. When we eat gluten, the Treg cells ramp up to protect us from the enemy gluten. When we eliminate gluten from our diet and our gut heals, the excess mucous and Treg cells decrease because such a strong defense is no longer needed. When gluten is consumed by a healed individual, there is no defense in place and illness usually arises. This is called being “glutened” and it’s exactly what happened to me after my rendezvous with the food court on Saturday.
Once I felt better I decided to whip up a batch of paleo granola. I hope you like it and learned a little something about gluten in the process!
Pam’s Paleo Granola
4 cups of nuts (I used 1 cup hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups dried cranberries
½ cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 egg whites
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper
Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until they are thoroughly broken up into smaller pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add pumpkin seeds, coconut, and fruit to nut mixture.
In a smaller separate bowl, mix liquefied coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg using a wire whisk.
Pour oil mixture and egg whites over nut mixture and mix until everything is completely incorporated.
Transfer granola to jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper and flatten out until it is an even thin layer.
Bake granola for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and mix. Be sure to flatten out to an even layer again. Put back into oven and finish cooking for another 20 minutes, or until done.
Granola will turn crispy when cooled. Store cooled granola in airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. We like ours crunchy, so I store it in a gallon sized zipper bag and keep it in the freezer.