Eating Gluten Free when Eating Out

organic farm in the Willamette Valley of Oregon

One of the more challenging aspects eating on the Paleo diet is eating out.  When I cook my own food it’s simple to avoid the foods that cause my stomach harm.  But when you go out to eat it can be challenging to find foods that don’t contain something you shouldn’t eat.  Luckily, living in Oregon isn’t quite as challenging as in other parts of the country.

Northwest Food Awareness

The people of the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest in particular are especially interested in the foods they eat.  Nowhere else that I’ve lived have I ever encountered so many people that knew so much about the foods they eat.

I suppose a lot of this is driven by the fact that local produce in this part of the country is a way of life.  The farms of the Willamette Valley have been producing gobs of fruits and vegetables for more that 120 years.

Even in restaurants that serve traditional menus such as bakeries, you still see options that are gluten free.  And they have a particular awareness about allergies such as peanuts, coconut, or anything else for that matter.  One of my favorite places to eat in Bend happens to be a restaurant and bakery that uses flour based recipes.  Even so, they have a wide selection of foods that I can eat.

This includes wheat free pastries, salads, and soups.  This is not something that you would typically find in other parts of the country where food awareness isn’t as important.

Importance of Asking Questions

Whenever I travel to other parts of the country I have to specifically ask if dishes contain ingredients I shouldn’t be eating.  Even some of the larger chains have still not included on their menu whether or not any of the items are gluten-free.

It’s also difficult to know where they would be sourcing their ingredients from.  In the Northwest we are blessed with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and organically fed meats.  In other parts of the country this is most definitely not the case.

When you go to a restaurant be sure to ask the server if they know what ingredients are contained in any dish you might want.  This might seem like a hassle, but it can be very important.  In addition to knowing what you are about to eat, you encourage the best restaurants to recognize and better understand the needs of their customers.

Of course there will be many instances where the server will literally have no idea what all the ingredients are.  And sometimes it might be best just to avoid certain foods altogether.  Most kitchens are not equipped with the facilities to separate gluten free from non.  Depending on your level of sensitivity this may not be that much of an issue.

Have a Backup Plan

If you’re extremely sensitive to certain food ingredients it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.  Either bring some food along or just wait until after dinner to eat.  Just remember that saving yourself from a few minutes of social discomfort is no match to the physical pain you might have to endure from eating something you shouldn’t.

The Importance of Using Organic and Natural Cleaning Supplies

natural window cleaners include vinegarWow, it’s been a while since I updated the blog.  In my last post I was talking about farmer’s markets, and now it is the beginning of ski season.  A lot has happened since I last wrote a post.  It has been an incredibly busy fall and early winter.

Something happened over the Christmas holiday that got me thinking about some important information that I wanted to share.  We had a large holiday gathering at one of my relative’s house and one of the young one’s accidentally got into the cleaning supplies cabinets.  Thankfully there were plenty of people around and he was stopped before he could get into real trouble.  But it go me thinking about the importance of using natural cleaning products.

Natural and Organic Cleaning Supplies

There are plenty of people that will tell you that there is nothing wrong with using mass produced cleaning solvents around your home.  But I’ve been of the opinion that if it’s poisonous, why would you want it around your house?  My house cleaners here in Bend Oregon have always offered  the use of natural products.  And if we go to all the trouble of buying organic foods, shouldn’t we expand that into the other things we use.

While they do still use some chemical solvents in extreme circumstances, they say for the most part it is completely unnecessary.  And if there is no benefit to using a chemical why would you?

Let’s just look at a few of the con’s of using harsh chemical cleaners:

First and foremost they can be highly toxic.  Bleach, grease removers, and stain removers often contains chemicals that can cause internal injuries, burns, and even blindness if they get in your eyes.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty awful to me.

Second, even if they ARE handled properly they can still cause damage as they are absorbed when you set food on the counter, walk barefoot on the floor, and any time you sit on the toilet or stand in the shower.

Third, they are hard on the environment.  These chemicals are not natural.  When we dispose of them many of them stick around for a long time.  While they can be diluted, they often cause a great deal of damage to our environment including our water table.

Natural cleaning compounds on the other hand exist naturally in nature.  One great example is vinegar.  Sure it doesn’t smell great, but have you smelled those harsh chemicals you’re currently using?  Vinegar naturally kills bacteria and helps to sanitize surfaces like counters, sinks, showers, and toilets.  I’ve heard lots of people say that it streaks when used on glass.  This is not necessarily true.  You just need to find the right mixture of vinegar to water.

Here is a great recipe for mixing your window washing solution so that it doesn’t streak.

In fact there are hundreds of homemade recipes for cleaning solutions online.  All you have to do is look.  While they take more time than buying from the store, you can rest assured that your family isn’t being exposed to nasty chemicals that can cause any number of long-term affects.  So when researching for the best house cleaning in Bend Oregon you should have lots of options.

An Update on My Paleo Diet Results

Image from

So as I mentioned in my first post a while back, I started on the Paleo diet due to some tummy issues I had been having.  As it turns out, not only was I having tummy issues, but I was getting sick on a more regular basis and didn’t even know it.  Here’s a bit of background.

A Brief History

Since I was a young girl in Wisconsin I have always had a tender tummy.  Most of the time I just chalked it up to something bad that I had eaten or to stress.  There were plenty of nights where it would take me hours to fall asleep because of gastrointestinal pains.  Over the course of some years different doctors prescribed various medications with very little in the way of results.

Eventually I moved to Oregon.  The food culture in the Northwest U.S. is more in tune with natural remedies rather than medicinal approaches.  I met with a couple different nutritionists and eventually settled on one that wanted me to try an elimination diet.  This was definitely not much fun, but it was a very effective way of discovering which foods my system was incapable of handling.

Basically I eliminated the vast majority of foods from my diet.  This included grains, dairy, nightshades, legumes, nuts, and soy.  It also included anything that was considered remotely processed.  Basically if it came in a box then I couldn’t touch it.  Unfortunately as a recent college graduate this took some adjustment as most of the foods I ate came from a box.

Luckily this part of the country has no shortage of fresh foods.  The Willamette Valley in Western Oregon is known as one of the largest farming areas in the Northwest.  So fresh fruits (those I could eat) and vegetables are plentiful nearly year-round.

The point of the diet is to remove all of the foods that could be impacting your digestive system.  You maintain this for about 30 days allowing your stomach to heal itself from years of damage.  Then you slowly begin introducing one food at a time to see if you can handle it.  This is a slow and laborious process.  But because I was feeling so much better already, I was a willing and eager participant.

The first few foods that I added back into my diet had no effect on my stomach.  This included some fruits and nightshades.  I was also able to reintroduce nuts with no issues.  This was a big deal personally because I love snacking on nuts.  This also allowed me to introduce some local treats into my diet.  My nutritionist told me about a Bend, Oregon company that makes a paleo chocolate chip cookie that I would actually be able to eat without disrupting my diet.  While they still contain a small amount of sugar, these cookies are a great option for people like myself.

A Few Stumbling Blocks

Once I had added some foods back I eventually ran into some serious stumbling blocks.  When re-introducing dairy to my diet I encountered pain that I hadn’t felt in months.  I had somewhat anticipated it.  But not having experienced it in a while, it was disturbing and somewhat depressing to feel it flare up again.

This was more of a mental setback than anything else.  I came from dairy country and had always enjoyed milk and cheese.  But the results of the test conclusively showed that I shouldn’t be eating ANY dairy unless I wanted to deal with the consequences.  After a few days the issues cleared up.  And since then I haven’t touched anything with dairy in it.  That was well over 2 years ago.

Another ingredient I discovered I have to avoid is soy.  Soy is a mass produced legume.  It is used throughout Asian cuisines as it is cheap and plentiful.  Unfortunately it is one of the worst in terms of pesticides that are used during growth.  The results of adding this back to my diet were similar to that of adding dairy.  I have to avoid it like the plague.

Grains are another food I’ve had to remove.  This particular food group has been easier though as I’ve experienced a host of other health improvements since doing so.  My body was in a permanent state of inflammation before doing so.  It has literally made me feel 10 years younger.

The choice to not eat these foods has made a remarkable difference in my life.  If you’re facing similar circumstances I would encourage you to make the changes necessary to develop a healthy gut and healthier life.

Looking Forward to Clearing Out Some of the Clutter!

kayaking in Bend OregonEvery year about this time I start to go a little crazy with all of the gear that ends up in our garage.  We live in an area that offers a TON of outdoor activities.  So we have everything from kayaks and canoes to paddle boards mountain bikes.  And most of the time it ends up in the garage.

While I love living in Central Oregon, all the gear eventually gets overwhelming.

Want to improve apartment value? The following post will certainly illustrate how simple it is making some simple changes, and give your house a fantastic look while enhancing its value.

When constructing your very own home through use of a professional, include a provision to the written agreement that gives the home builder a perk for finishing on time and on budget. This stipulation will encourage your builder to do a great task in the time allocated, and can save you a great deal of headaches due to missed due dates and extended spending plans.

Lampshades are not normally very fascinating. Brighten up the room by making your own personal designs on your lamp shades and adding a little bit of color. Not only can you match the color or style of the room, but you can even match the design of rugs or other aspects to tie the room together.

To prevent expensive errors when repainting a space, make a little financial investment in the paint samples that many sellers provide. You can get 8 ounce sample sizes in any available color. For a small cost, you can use paint to a big adequate location to really get a feel for how the paint will look, far more properly than with paint chips alone.

When it comes to home improvement, make sure to weigh the expense of purchasing CFL bulbs for your house. While they do save energy because of lower wattage use, the upfront expense is higher than regular bulbs. Likewise, they might posture a health hazard to you if ever broken due to the amount of mercury used inside the bulb.

Discover the house that is the ideal size and has the features that your household has to live a happy and comfy life. There are numerous functions that will make living in the house more comfy depending upon the lifestyle and jobs that a person has in their life. Discovering the one that satisfies your personal needs will keep you delighted with your home longer.

You can produce a designer spa sensation to your restroom by including some simple home design concepts such as setting up dimmer light switches, candle light wall sconces, burning scent, and making use of ornamental baskets to hold fluffy towels. You can decide to repaint your wall warm colors such as beige, brown or light green which give it a good health club like touch.

One thing is to set aside some time each day for tasks that you find disagreeable.  Stuff like doing laundry when tackled in small doses can become much easier.

If you find that you don’t use half of the close in your closet the go rent a self storage unit that you can use for gear that only sees the light of day couple times per year.

Spice up the look of your rooms by using patterned wallpaper on your walls and hanging a conversation piece of art work. Select something intriguing with numerous structures or images to take a look at. Don’t be afraid to go strong and intriguing to show a sense of personality through your choices. You can even paint something yourself and hang it up to match your wallpaper.

One of the tiniest improvements to your home with the biggest impact is a deep cleaning of the house. Investing the time to clean every area of your home will enhance the general smell, appearance, and environment of your house. A comprehensive cleaning is commonly neglected as a cost effective technique of home improvement.

Among the most convenient and most typically ignored house enhancements that need to be carried out when moving into a brand-new home is to change each and every single lock in the house. While lots of realtors handle this service, failure to alter the locks is a possible invite to disaster. This is the first thing that must be done during the moving process.

If you require fencing that is both cost effective and flexible, choose a wooden fence. You can choose from a range of wood types to discover the most appropriate product for your specific environment and wetness levels. Wooden fencing is very diverse and can quickly be stained to among many natural-looking colors.

Ideally, in reading this short article, you have seen that you can in fact do this. By following the tips provided here, you’ll soon be boasting to your good friends and showing off the stunning home you have developed with Do It Yourself home enhancement projects.

The Benefits of Knowing Where Your Food Comes From

local famers marketOne of the most important things I’ve learned in the last few years is the importance of knowing where your food comes from.  We have made concerted effort to getting our food from sources that are as close to home as possible.  Not only does this help you understand what is in your food and how it was grown, but it gives you a stronger connection with the people in your community.

Finding Local Producers

One of the easiest ways to find local producers in your area is to go the farmer’s market.  Most large city’s and even many small towns will have a farmer’s market once per week where you can find locally grown produce, locally raised beef, chicken, or pork, and a variety of other items such as honey and herbs.

Most local producers are very proud of what they do and will be more than happy to offer as much information as you might want about the practices they use in raising their particular products.  More than likely you can even get a tour of their farm if you have such an interest.  For many of these people this is their main livelihood so they take it very seriously.  They want their customers to understand what they’re getting and what set’s their products apart from other mass-produced goods.

The easiest way to start with getting local goods is to find a farm share or CSA in your area.  A great resource for finding farm shares is  Here you can find a wide variety of different programs in your area from vegetables and meats to raw milk or eggs.  Typically you can spend as little or as much as you want depending on the size of your family.

You will often find that buying produce and meat this way is a good deal less expensive than buying it at the supermarket.  One major plus is that you know exactly where all of your foods are coming from.

Local Meats

One of our favorite things to do each year is to get a cow share.  We essentially team up with another family to purchase one half of a cow.  Generally this works out to about 175lbs of meat.  You will definitely want to get a large chest freezer before making this purchase as you will never fit this much meat in a standard kitchen freezer.

Talk to others that have joined the group before to find out the quality of the meats.  Typically the best is going to be grass-fed and all organic.  This means that the farmer doesn’t use any pesticides or fertilizers on their pastures.

You can have the meat butchered into steaks of specific sizes.  If you have a family of four, you can even request that the butcher put four steaks per package.  This makes thawing them extremely easy.  Make sure you also specify what fat percentage you want in your ground beef.  Typical would be 85% lean and 15% fat.  Going too lean can make the meat very dry, so don’t go beyond 92% lean.

If you ask for larger cuts, just make sure that your kitchen knives are in good shape so that you can cut it down into more reasonable sizes.  Here’s a great resource for how to sharpen kitchen knives.  Knowing a bit about how and where to cut particular steaks can be very helpful.  The right cuts actually help steaks cook better.

Local Produce

Depending on where you live produce might be available for anywhere between 4 and 12 months per year.  Southern climates such as Florida will often have fresh produce year round, while other climates such as Oregon or Washington will have a shorter harvest season.

Don’t be shy about asking growers questions about what crops are best right now.  They want you to be happy with what you buy and should be willing to give you great advice on what to buy.

There is an amazing diversity of produce out there compared to what we typically see in our grocery stores.  You’ll find that even in your area there are specific types of produce that are available nowhere else.

This is especially worthwhile if you are on a restrictive diet that requires you to eat many of the same foods on a regular basis.  It can provide some much needed variety.

For My First Post, A Bit About My Diet

no grainsOne of the questions I get asked most frequently now days is ‘What is the Paleo Diet’?  Before I go into the details of this particular way of eating I want to give a little bit of background as to how I came to find the Paleo Diet.

Fed Up With the Standard American Diet (SAD)

We are all very familiar with the SAD diet.  It involves eating a whole host of products that even under dire circumstances shouldn’t be considered food.  This includes products such as potato chips, crackers, highly processed breads, and any of thousands of junk snack foods that Americans consume multiple times per day.

The SAD diet utilizes a food pyramid that literally flies in the face of what current research says we should be eating.  Grains and carbohydrates form the base of the diet even though the human body isn’t designed to run on anywhere near this amount of carbs.  At the top are fats.  For 50 years fats have been decried as the reason behind heart disease, cholesterol and a whole host of other health issues.

But changing my diet happened more as a result of a personal goal.

I have always been into fitness and have been working out for as long as I can remember.  I haven’t always had a particular goal in mind with my workouts other than wanting to stay in good physical shape.  Eventually I reached an age where the thought struck me that I would like to have a six pack before I become so old that it becomes physically impossible.

From years of working out I knew that time spent in the gym did not equate to becoming more lean.  My lowest body fat composition was around 13% and this was when I was working out 5-6 days each week for well over an hour.  It included lifting weights and cardio.  It didn’t matter how much I worked out.  I wasn’t getting any leaner.

This led me to do some research on the best way to get a six pack.  After digging around a bit I found a thread of information on Mark’s Daily Apple.  This was a voice that was espousing information that was entirely foreign to me.  After reading pretty much the entire blog I had a TON of information that I wanted to personally test.

The Paleo Diet

The information on his blog turned on it’s head everything that I knew about nutrition.  The right kinds of fats are GOOD for you, too many carbs are VERY bad for you.  One of the things that struck me was the history behind these ideas.  For millions of years of evolution humans were eating the exact foods he was describing.  It’s been within the last 75 years that our diet has changed to include the massive amounts of carbohydrates and processed foods that we now consume.

I decided to turn myself into a test case.  I immediately cut out grains such as wheat, oats, and rice.  This was a bit of a challenge since for 25 years of my life my first thought upon waking up was to eat multiple large bowls of ‘healthy’ cereal.

Instead I was consuming 3-4 eggs with butter, perhaps some bacon, and vegetables.  Within a couple of weeks I was already noticing results.  I began to lean out.  I also noticed that I was sleeping better.  And in general I felt better overall.

Now I’ve been on the diet for almost 4 years.  Of course there are challenging times.  But there are a whole host of substitute foods out there that allow you to ‘cheat’ on occasion.  One of my favorites is Gourmet Paleo.  They make cookies that contain no grains, no dairy, and no soy.  And you would never know they are Paleo.

More than anything else that I’ve done, the Paleo diet has led me to an overall healthier lifestyle.  This is just the beginning.  We’ll dive deeper into Paleo in upcoming posts.