Low Sugar Freezer Cacao Treats

Low Sugar Cacao and Coconut Milk Freezer Treats

A new favorite creation of mine, just in time for the hot days of summer. Pictured Left: cacao nib topping. Pictured Right: crushed pistachios.  Photo by Imei Hsu.

The Seattle area went through one of the wettest winters in twenty years. We didn’t see much sunlight for almost eight months, and almost all my professional friends took turns posting pictures from winter vacations in the Hawaiian islands, soaking up some rays and getting our Vitamin D.

My  Asian skin lost its usual brown tint , and when springtime hit in late May, I still wore long-sleeved shirts and pants to match the grey outside. To throw some perspective, our local lakes were still too cold to swim in comfortably until the very last weekend of May, and even then, it was a bit on the brisk side.

So you can imagine the surprise when the area transformed from winter snow one day to sizzling summer heat the next. All my ads on Facebook turned into local ads for air conditioning units. You’d think that I would have the routine down, as June is often called, “Juneuary” among those of us who have lived here many years. Mornings start out at a chilly 52 degrees Fahrenheit, and can jump into the 70’s or 80’s by afternoon.

We were gobsmacked by a heat advisory one weekend, with the thermometer hitting 102. The only one happy about that in our household was my cat Loomi, who made it known to all that she is truly a desert animal! The house got warm, and she insisted on sleeping in her heated bed. I, however, started craving summertime frozen treats and cold foods, such as an AIP coleslaw, and chilled slippery rice noodle salads. Even a Bacon and Avocado salad, minus the nightshades, was making my stomach growl.

What’s a guy or gal who can’t eat ice cream supposed to do?

Make your own freezer treats, that’s what!

Continue reading


Preparing for Illness on the Road

Food Allergies | Illness | Autoimmune Disease | Travel 

Successful travel, whether a road trip or a flight, requires thoughtful planning. Make your next trip a success by creating a prep list of essentials and planning ahead.
Successful travel, whether a road trip or a flight, requires thoughtful planning. Make your next trip a success by creating a prep list of essentials and planning ahead. Pixabay photo.

You and your luggage have arrived at your  budget hotel on the other side of the country. You planned well for your trip from home to your destination, with your allergen-free foods, dehydrated snacks, and plenty of fluids. You remembered to wipe down the tray table on the plane, you said “no” to all the interesting snacks and airline meals that rolled down the aisle. All your seat mates greedily accepted your complimentary deluxe snacks and alcoholic drinks.

Three days later, you are talking a walk with your relatives, who have gathered for the new addition to the family, taking in the unique natural beauty of the area, and chatting up a story storm.  As you lift your camera to frame an extraordinary photo, it happens.

Your tummy starts rumbling. Or,  you notice a rash forming on your cheeks, neck, and chest. A migraine starts to threaten the day. A feeling of panic, combined with resentment and, “Why me?” wells up from down below. The nearest Honey Bucket is a couple of miles away; a bush will have to do. Good thing you packed some wipes and Kleenex; your nose will survive with a few snot rockets and a wipe of your sleeve. The rash is looking red and angry.

But the problem is that you are far away from your car,  medical help,  or an urgent care facility. How well you planned for this trip and your life’s emergencies determines how immediately you can respond. As you retrace the last few days to understand why this event is happening to you, it may do you little good in the moment.

I want to talk to you about illness and managing the effects of your disease and/or food allergies and intolerances on the road, as this part of managing the lifestyle that comes with your desire to not be housebound. There are preparations you can make to help you better manage these emergencies, which can quickly turn an ordinary trip into a health disaster.

Continue reading

Healing Betty Crocker Syndrome

Cake mixes of a variety of brands on the supermarket shelves.
We are trapped in Betty Crocker Syndrome, and our bodies pay dearly for it. Is there any way out? [Photo taken at my local supermarket]. 
As promised, this post is a continuation of a two-article description regarding Betty Crocker Syndrome. If you want to dig deeper, I recommend that you take a moment to read the first post. [<–really. I think it’s infotaining.]

In my first post, I proposed that because of the way Betty Crocker Syndrome [BCS] works — that is, we are hooked on convenience foods until they stop working for us — it appears that Americans are trapped in a BCS cycle that includes poor health, fatigue, fogginess, excess weight (likely due to the amount of sugars, fat, and salt found in a single serving), and other food-influenced diseases. Whether we eat convenience foods. or rely on others to cook our foods for us to the point that we are out of tune with the score of ingredients found in them, we end up in the same places.

Sick. Fatigued. Overweight. Poorly nourished. Anxious. Depressed.

I don’t like the way that sounds. Do you?

Continue reading

Gaffes, Goofs, and Sundry Oops

Siamese cat hiding behind a pillow while crouching on a red couch.
Made a mistake with your food and you’re not feeling well? The world of food can be a scary place to navigate, and it can even be scary cooking at home if you don’t take care to get your routines nailed down to reduce mistakes. Photo by Imei Hsu.

As much as I believe the last three years has given me an education on clean eating, ingredient label comprehension, and the dangers of cross contamination, I still walk in the same shoes as anyone who has an autoimmune disease, chronic GI issues, and severe food allergies.

I goof, here and there. And I pay for it.

If you think there is an expert resource who avoids all gaffs, goofs, and sundry “oops”, I challenge you to find him or her. As far as my research has taken me, I have not found a single respected expert in the field who has never been “glutened”, become ill due to cross contamination, or suffered from an imbalance of micronutrients or macronutrients as they experimented with all available options.

One great example is gluten-free oats. Most of us who were placed on a gluten-free diet had a steep learning curve. Some of us did fine with gluten-free food products such as gluten-free oats; these people dove into GF oatmeal cookies and lovely GF oatmeal trail mixes that could be baked into bars when mixed with nuts, seeds, and oils.

Others of us suffered “Swan Lake” death scenes, suffering long near the white throne in our households, and feeling horribly betrayed by safety labels and descriptions that declared these products safe for people with CD/NCGS.

You often don’t know which category you fall in until you try something and it doesn’t work for you.

This post is about goofs, yours and mine.

Continue reading

Dairy Free Chocolate Moo FTW

The ridges on my fingernails say enough.

When you have dry, brittle, and ridged fingernails, it can often mean you have a chronic illness and/or a nutritional deficiency on board.

I have both, despite eating as much as I possibly can shovel in. Part of this is because I’m a triathlete, and my body’s daily nutritional needs are high. And part of my deficits are because my small intestine gets its own workout when it needs to process and then distribute my medically-restricted diet to the rest of the body. Usually, my finger and toenails show up these deficits in the form of dry, brittle, and ridged nails and occasionally funny-colored nail beds. And my upper body has a tendency to look quite “leaned out” without even lifting weights. Wah wah wah. But it’s a struggle, and I know I am not alone.

Each time I hear someone comment that Celiac Disease and food allergies, with their restrictive diets, make it easier to stay thin, I just want to cringe. The idea that CD and gluten free eating with food allergies could ever be construed as the new fad diet or an eating disorder reminds me how much misinformation floats about the Internets. By now, most of us should know that eating gluten-free, in and of itself, is no guarantee of magical weight loss. Gluten free eating that is not paired with sensible macro and micro nutrient balance can be nutrient poor even if it is calorically enhanced.

Nutrition for the person with Celiac Disease and food allergies and intolerances is focused on a formula of nutrition first, flavor and texture second (so you’re more likely to keep up with it), and easy to source and prepare the foods (to defy the lazy factor) third. With all that, I try to keep the making of food FUN FUN FUN, because I completely understand that if it isn’t fun, you and I are going to be hungry. And when we’re hungry, we’re less likely to make good decisions that keep us healthy.

Case in point: at the end of the 2015 Mt. Si 59 mile Relay race, I was so hungry, I ate a fruit roll up that was available at the finish line. I saw that it had  high fructose corn syrup in it, which is a no-no food for me. Yet, I was so hungry, I stuffed two of those fruit roll ups in my mouth, hoping for the best. This is as real as it gets. I was so hungry, I was willing to risk my guts falling apart.

There has got to be something better! Something easy. Something tasty, And something nutritious. And I think I found one solution: a post-workout, or post-meal beverage that is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, vegan, nut free, and can be made sugar free, if you like.

What is this beverage, you might ask? Dairy free cacao powder milk, that’s what! Continue reading

Treating Cold Symptoms

What are your go-to's when you have cold or flu symptoms, and you can't use conventional treatments because of food allergies or autoimmune disease?
What are your go-to’s when you have cold or flu symptoms, and you can’t use conventional treatments because of food allergies or autoimmune disease?

Disclaimer: this post is not a replacement for sound diagnosis and medical treatment when you are ill. It is a discussion of resources available. Always discuss with your medical practitioner any questions and changes in treatment you wish to explore.

What happens when you have symptoms of a cold or flu, and you have an autoimmune disease and/or food sensitivities? 

Some of the conventional over-the-counter products are not going to work for you, that’s what! Today, while I type on my Macbook Air from bed, I have the symptoms of a typical head cold: post-nasal drip, irritated sore throat, no fever, headache, body soreness, and fatigue. I thought it would be timely to post some “food for thought” on how to approach treating your cold and flu symptoms if you have an autoimmune disease and/or food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities.

I’ve organized this post into steps so you can access what you might need to address the threat of cold and flu symptoms. While no one enjoys getting sick, sickness happens. I think it’s best to be prepared at all times, and have a general outline of your plan to treat your illness before they overwhelm you.

Continue reading

Allium-Free Risotto With Bacon and Lemon Pepper

Did I ever tell you I’m in love with my Instant Pot?

A fast, high pressure cooker is a gift to the person with food allergies or autoimmune disease. But I personally think any home cook would want an Instant Pot to take permanent residence in their kitchens.
A fast, high pressure cooker is a gift to the person with food allergies or autoimmune disease. But I personally think any home cook would want an Instant Pot to take permanent residence in their kitchens.

Many years (and a lifetime ago), I was making risotto for over seven people in the South of France. I had stumbled upon an old cookbook (yes, all in French!), and it was my job to coordinate a meal that everyone would enjoy. Surprise! There was a risotto recipe that accompanied a meat dish, and everyone was eager to eat this meal. Only, I underestimated the cook time for the large amount of rice, and I ended up with a mostly cooked, gloppy mess. After we scraped what we could out of the pot and ate the meal, I  had to clean the pot with a sad little sponge while the others drained the rest of the wine.


Continue reading