Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wheat Belly Wednesday - Week #4

Starting on week #4 of the wheat-free lifestyle. I lost 9.5 lbs. in the first 3 weeks (was hoping for a flat 10 lbs.). We have a wellness program at work and I had to go for standard biometric testing yesterday, including a finger stick blood test where they check your glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.  My blood glucose was 83, HDL was 68, and triglycerides were less than 45. They use a little machine to analyze the blood sample and the lowest triglyceride reading is 45 – because my reading was lower than that, the technician got an error reading for the LDL number, but the range was still well within the acceptable levels. And that was after eating a bacon cheeseburger (no bun), raw vegetables, and dressing last night.

I had dinner with my brother Jeff and his family last weekend. Jeff has been eating largely wheat-free for almost a year. Last fall, he noticed he was getting a belly and decided to stop eating bread. Just by cutting out two to four slices of bread daily, he quickly lost over 20 lbs. Since they learned that their daughter Jenna is sensitive to gluten, his wife Kim began cooking more gluten-free meals. Jeff still ate products that contained wheat occasionally:  pasta once a week, the occasional doughnut at work, cereal for breakfast, a wrap sandwich for lunch. But he began to notice that he felt better on the days that he didn’t consume any wheat. Also, when he had cereal for breakfast, he would be starving by 10 a.m. and really NEED that doughnut (sound familiar?).

Jeff has now cut wheat out his diet completely. There are rare times when he eats foods that contain wheat, but with a gluten-sensitive child, there is less temptation to do so. When he had his last visit with his doctor, Jeff had lost weight and his HDL cholesterol (the good kind) had shot way up while his triglycerides had dropped. When he told his doctor about eliminating wheat from his diet, she said that couldn’t possibly be the reason for his greatly improved cholesterol numbers and actually argued with him when he said that was the only change he had made. Someday, all doctors will be enlightened about the dangers of the grain we call wheat.

And at age 56, Jeff no longer has a wheat belly.

Fall has arrived in Chicago, and it makes me feel more like cooking. I love Italian food but have not been able to find a prepared pasta sauce that is sugar free or very low in sugar. So I fell back on the pasta sauce that I learned to make when fat-free everything was the rage, which happens to be sugar free as well. Consider this to be a basic recipe – I use mushrooms because I like them, but you can substitute whatever vegetables you like (green peppers, zucchini, etc.) and feel free to use fresh herbs like basil and rosemary if you have them on hand. Because I work full-time, I throw everything in the slow cooker before I leave for work, turn it on low for 8-10 hours, and it’s ready when I get home – and the house smells fabulous! You can also cook on the stovetop if you’re going to be home, just remember to stir periodically so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Spaghetti sauce:

2 – 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
12 oz. tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced; if using the minced kind that comes in a jar,
     use 4 t.
2 medium onions, diced
½ lb. fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 t. salt
2 T. dried Italian seasonings (crush between your palms when adding to sauce
     to release the flavors)
¼ t. ground pepper (add more if you like your food hot and spicy)
½ c. red wine

Put everything in the slow cooker and stir to blend. Cover and turn on low; will be ready in about 8 hours. When the sauce is finished cooking, taste and adjust the seasonings – I like my sauce a little on the sweet side, so I usually stir in 1-2 packets of Splenda at the end of the cooking process.  Try it over spaghetti squash, rice pasta, or baked with eggplant and ricotta cheese (recipe will follow in a future post).

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