Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How Quinoa Milk Gave Me My Confidence Back

The other day, I had a friend over for dinner that I hadn't seen in two weeks.  She said I was different this week, that I had seemed so positive in comparison to the last time we hung out.  She said she could hear it in my voice.  I looked at her and whispered, "It was the Quinoa Milk".  

My very own kitchen skills scored me homemade Quinoa milk-But I wasn't always so experimental in the homemade non dairy milk department...

My Yoga teacher from last Summer used to to tell me how much she loved making almond milk and how easy it was.  She got the "alien with five heads look from me".  I thought yeah right…what is she smoking.

Flash forward to now-9 years into the life of a recovering Celiac, with some serious Leaky Gut issues that started about two years ago and haven't stopped that have lead to hair loss, Anemia, malabsorption, Acne, the need for a Liver Detox, on and off the Paleo Diet for 6 months, 100 percent clean, refined sugar free and on a new detox diet by my new Integrative Functional Doctor with a new list of new limitations…oh and did i mention 30+ food sensitivities. Yeah, it's fun cooking my fruit because I can't eat it raw.  It's awesome.  I have been on some sort of detox diet since January 2014 to help heal and restore my gut.

So when I went to my first appointment with New Doc,  I also met with the Nutritionist.  We went over what is allowed which really is so much if I didn't have these darn food sensitivities (the left side of my face and throat go completely numb, and it really is a Russian roulette, we never know what is going to trigger it), and we went over the idea of making nut and seed milks homemade forever and ever instead of buying them store bought.  

Forever?  Forever is a really long time.

So in other words, there will be more difficulty added into my life.  I should just make the kitchen my bedroom and bring my clock radio with me because that's where I'll be 24/7.  And maybe instead of my answering machine saying "I'm not home right now", it should probably say "I'm cooking in the kitchen and I can't come to the phone right now".  My initial thoughts? A big fat UGH and then a huge SIGH.  She mentioned making my own hemp and flaxseed milk to start with.  I looked at her like she had five heads.

Me: How am i supposed to do that????!!!!!
Nutritionist: You make it yourself.  It's really easy.
Me: But that's so much work and prep time!  I am already in the kitchen 24/7.  I don't want to live there!
Nutritionist: It's easy.  You take 1 cup of seeds to 3 cups of water.  You don't even need a nut bag if you like it grainy.
Me: ew, grainy?  No thanks.

Picture me slouched over in my chair just ready to surrender and throw in the white flag.

I left that appointment so happy to find a doctor that could help me, but so annoyed that I'd literally have to bring my bed into my kitchen and sleep there, because at the rate of my 100 percent clean cooking plan, the idea of also making my milks homemade was to say the least really, really, really annoying.

"I could tell, it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" 
From the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 
by Judith Viorst.

I didn't believe her that it would be easy.  It didn't sound easy.

BUT, I actually need to send that Nutritionist a huge hug in an email and thank her because if it wasn't for her, I never would have tried to make this on my own.  And if it wasn't for her my world would never have opened the way it did, and if it wasn't for her pushing this easy fete, I wouldn't have gotten my confidence back!  

Making these homemade milks gave me control over something that I am putting into my body that makes my body feel good, and I could have used some feel good-the last few months have been really rough.  What I love about this new adventure, is that even as a newbie with fears I took the leap and made it from scratch which gave me knowledge and education.  The first time was a total bust.  The second was great, and the third and so on.  And it gave me the ability to share it with all of you.  Through this experience I learned SO MUCH.  And the learning part of this process, made me realize that I need to trust "the process" more often in every aspect of my life.  I will heal.  But it will take time.  Rome was not built in a day.  And our gut health takes time to rebuild if there was or is damage.  If a hurricane or a tornado comes into town, you can bet it's going to wreck havoc and take time to rebuild.  Our gut health is like that especially with Celiac Disease and Leaky Gut Syndrome.

My first trial of making Gluten-free Oat milk and Flaxseed Milk was a total bust!  Hahahaha!!
It started out well of course.  I soaked both in water in separate bowls for two hours each.  Then I added that mixture plus some more water into a high speed blender.  All was good.  I didn't own a nut bag or a cheese cloth and the Nutritionist said it was fine to drink as is…and hey I was desperate to have a seed or grain milk for my protein shakes…it came out thick.  Like really thick.  Like the wrong kind of thick.  So I thought it needed more water.  So I just kept adding more and more water until it was thin.  And then it was too thin, so I decided to cook it on the stove.  And I thought, Oh, Yes!  I am so clever, look at me now…yeah look at me now, I curdled both milk batches.  Hahahahah.  Like I said, total bust.

The flaxseed milk custard made my face numb.  So that went to the trash.  Flax was out.

The gluten-free Oat Milk was doable.  And it didn't make me numb, so I used it grainy in my coffee.  It wasn't ideal, but it was workable.  The fact that I could have an iced coffee with non dairy milk was the highlight of that day!

And that is when I got super confident.  I realized that something positive was happening and it made me so happy and hopeful.

So that day I bought a cheese cloth. ( I couldn't find a nut bag)
"Make it Work as Tim Gun would say" Tim Gunn

So the next day I made Quinoa milk.  I figured why not.  And what's so great about Quinoa is that it is a complete protein meaning its going to give you all the nutrients and vitamins your body could wish for and it's going to give your body energy.  Try drinking that in your decaf coffee in the a.m.-there will be no need for actual caffeine.  I followed the same idea of 3 parts water, 1 part raw quinoa.  I did not soak it.  And it came out glorious!  I even taught myself how to use a Cheese cloth for the first time!  Granted, it splattered all over my kitchen because I didn't think to do it in the sink, but it was amazing!!  I was so excited to have made a homemade non dairy milk that was not only really tasty but was something my body didn't have a problem with.  Another great day!  You would have thought I had won the lottery.

Quinoa milk made me excited again.  Excited to create.  Excited to cook.  Excited to bake.  Excited for energy my body hadn't had in a while.  Excited that I had control over something!  Excited that I could provide for my body in a very healthy way.  Excited that I had something safe, a "go to".  Excited that my body would eventually heal.  Because before this I just wasn't sure if I would heal.  Would I be the same as before?  Would I be able to eat all my awesome favorite healthy foods again?  Could I have smoothies, green juices or even a GF cupcake? These were doubts in my mind during my chicken/asparagus/cooked blueberry/chickpeas/scrambled egg months.  And knowing that a grain filled with protein could be turned into a homemade milk that I made, and made well, that my body would love gave me my confidence back!  

Are you reading this and thinking I'm nuts?  How could making Quinoa milk give me my mojo back?  It's really simple.  You see and I'm sure any of you with Celiac or lifestyle changes due to medical issues can understand…I lost all of my confidence.  I lost control of what I could eat.  I lost control of how I could nourish my own body.  It was no longer easy to eat.  It became scary.  It became hard.  And it became sad.  Because I couldn't even enjoy the gluten-free foods I was used too!  For God's sake I have to cook the blueberries before I eat them.  I can't eat kale, zucchini, bananas, cauliflower, pears, apples, green juices, certain smoothies, lemon, dairy, tree nuts, coconut anything, chia seeds, flax seeds, spinach, lentils, watermelon and so, so, so much more without having this facial numbing reaction that has been going on since April 2014.  I can eat cooked carrots but raw carrots make my throat numb for hours and hours.  I thought I was allergic to everything!  I was living on Benadryl.  Do you know what it's like to think you are allergic to all foods?  It is so hard to live day by day like this and not know if what you put in your mouth is going to harm you or make you thrive.

I never ever thought of food this way.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could develop so many food sensitivities all at once and suddenly not be able to eat any of them for months on end.  I have just added back Avocado and that I am so grateful for.  When you realize that your body cannot always digest food effortlessly it really makes you think about Gratitude.  Being grateful for what you have, can do, can eat, can be, who you are with, your family, your life is HUGE.  Food is a luxury.  Nourishment is key, but isn't always easy, we have to learn to listen to our bodies-even if it sucks.  My motto these days is to strive to nourish my body.  If my body doesn't want apples, lentils, coconut, chocolate (haven't had any since April), Kale, Chard, Green Juices, Very Green Smoothies, bananas, zucchini, cauliflower then I will have to let my body heal and nourish myself with the foods my body will accept and trust the freaking process.

As for making non-dairy milks homemade? I have to say, I cannot believe I held out this long!  I am a baker who makes intricate cakes, yet seed, nut and grain milks were daunting.

They say it's the small things in life that make us happy.  

My last words to you … GRATITUDE makes all the difference.  GRATITUDE changes all perspectives and changes your position in this crazy, amazing world we live in.  GRATITUDE creates positivity even during our darkest hours.

xx Julie

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