The phrase "we could take a picnic" is like music to my ears. My husband knows exactly how to make any outing appealing to me, so when he suggested a picnic lunch on the boat recently, I was hooked.
Since we conducted our four-week elimination program a year ago, we gave up gluten (mainly wheat) in the house and I have been experimenting with new recipes and menus. Finding good substitutes for bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, pies, cookies, beer and other items that contain wheat is challenging. Sometimes we just forgo them.
Wheat has been listed as a cause of food allergies creating inflammation in the body. That inflammation can show itself in different ways. In my husband's case, it caused his arthritis to flare up and now he controls it by eating no wheat instead of taking more anti-inflammatory pills like ibuprofen.
That was our main reason for giving up wheat. The added benefit is that we feel less bloated and less sluggish, and we lost weight.
Our wheat-free picnic included a fast and easy hummus made by blending a can of chick peas with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and cumin. I found this to be a good substitute for cheese when we eliminated dairy during the program, as it provided the salty, savory taste I was craving.
I added a simple tuna and celery salad. Cut up some carrots, celery, cheese, rolled up some ham. Threw in some corn chips, salsa, fruit and energy bars, and we were set.
We made a short boat trip out beyond Newfound Harbor off Big Pine Key, where we could anchor the boat and enjoy the view, fresh air and wheat-free picnic lunch -- and we didn't miss the bread at all.
Meanwhile, breakfasts have become more interesting since I discovered pumpkin puree.
I've never been a big fan of pumpkin pie but I have a newfound respect for pumpkin. I found a recipe in a book called "Practical Paleo" for gluten-free pumpkin pancakes using pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup and baking soda. They are very light and tasty. I also make a pumpkin smoothie blending pumpkin, oatmeal, banana, maple syrup and milk. It is surprisingly good and combines so many nutrients in one cup.
Healthy living includes healthy eating choices. In our case, our food choices reduce our need for medications. My high blood pressure has come down thanks to eating more fruit and vegetables and less meat, sugar and wheat. My husband's arthritis is hardly bothering him and he is jogging again.
America Recycles Day
On another note, Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day, a program of Keep America Beautiful. Although this is just one day, the idea is we should make reducing, reusing and recycling a daily habit.
We just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, which has some beautiful mountain scenery and spectacular coastlines. Sadly, in one particular section of the coast, Hurricane Sandy had washed ashore an overwhelming amount of floating marine debris.
There were so many plastic bottles, bags, packaging and food containers bordering the shoreline, the debris spread about 15 feet into the water.
Seeing so much debris in one place was a sharp shocking reminder of the vast quantities of disposable items used and discarded so easily. America Recycles Day is another good reminder.
Shirley Gun is a member of the Keyswide nonprofit Green Living & Energy Education. She writes about green living and the four Rs -- reducing, reusing, recycling and rot (composting). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.