Whether you need to or not, these days it’s cool to eat gluten-free. The food industry has capitalized on this so-called health trend, marketing everything from bread and chips to cookies and cereals as “gluten-free.”
But for those who truly are gluten intolerant, the results of eating wheat in any form can be agonizing. For those with gluten-induced Celiac disease, the outcome can be fatal.
After years of living with miserable, unexplained intestinal distress, my step-Mom, Kaye, discovered she had an extreme sensitivity to gluten. Thankfully, her symptoms have abated because she adheres to a strict gluten-free diet. And it’s not always easy.
Maintaining a diet free of wheat-based products takes discipline…especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Most cakes, cookies and other baked goods are a big no-no. And sadly, most of the store-bought, gluten-free fare out there tastes like sand.
So, when I came across an interesting recipe for super-healthy flourless brownies, I just had to give it a try. They are so delicious; I’m going to make a batch for Kaye!
If you or someone you know happens to be a gluten-free chocoholic, you’ve got to give these brownie makeovers a try. Even if you’re good with gluten, I think these fudgy, flourless brownies are better than energy bars...packed with protein and fiber to keep you fully charged before or after a workout.
If you’d like to build a better brownie, here’s the recipe! Whip up a batch of these super squares and let me know what you think!
Fudge Flourless Brownies
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup packed pitted Medjool dates (brilliant!)
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips (optional)
You’ll find these brownies fudgy but not at all dense, thanks to the whipped egg whites. The olive oil and almonds give a double shot of healthy fats and if you prefer them less sweet, skip the chocolate chips.
After 34 years working the night shift, I wondered whether I’d be able to adapt to a normal sleeping schedule when I retired from the TV news business.
Not only have I adapted, I haven’t even seen the 11 p.m. news in more than four years! No offense to Kimberly or my other news pals, but these days I’m lucky to make it past nine before drifting into dreamland. My body clearly loves the change. I sleep soundly and wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.
Not only that, within a year on my new schedule – completely unintentionally, I’d lost nearly 10 pounds. What a surprise… until I looked at the facts.
For years I think I was always just a little bit sleep deprived…getting by on about seven hours, when my body craved closer to nine in the sack. And, if I’m honest, I’d developed some pretty unhealthy eating habits working those weird hours.
On a busy night at work, I’d miss dinner altogether, then exhausted and wired after the late news, I’d come home, turn on Conan and fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers and wash it down with a glass (or two!) of wine… to unwind, you understand.
Bad plan. A fat and calorie-laden snack combined with sugar in the alcohol often made for light, interrupted sleep. When I finally adopted my husband’s routine an early dinner with only a light snack before bed, I began sleeping like a baby and reaping the health benefits.
Adequate slumber (7-9 hours is the sweet spot for most of us!) does more than make you feel good. An abundance of sleep research has found a well-rested engine is essential for controlling your weight and sharpening your memory.
What you eat can play a major role in the quality of your rest. My best snooze advice?
1. Warm milk can help you sleep better. Milk contains tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes sleepiness. Because tryptophan needs carbohydrates to work its sedating magic in your brain, milk is a natural choice since it has the drowsy duo. (While warming it up adds to the soothing sensation, I still prefer my milk cold.)
2. Avoid eating a late meal, then going straight to bed. Consuming a heavy dinner or even a super-size bedtime snack can make you feel uncomfortably full when you lie down. Even worse, you may develop heartburn or gas… which makes falling asleep extra-challenging. For a peaceful slumber, aim to eat dinner at least three hours before you hit the sack. (When that’s not possible, enjoy a lighter meal –
less than 400 calories.) If you need a late-night nibble, keep it at 200 calories or less.
Three smart pre-sleep snacks that work for me:
*1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt topped with some crunchy, low-sugar cereal
*3 cups low fat popcorn topped with grated Parmesan
* Rice cake topped with hummus and a slice of turkey breast or (my fave) peanut butter
3. Talk to you doctor about sleep aids. One of the most popular options is melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. You can even increase your intake of foods that naturally contain melatonin…like tart cherries, walnuts or some special sleepy-time teas. (Nights when it’s difficult to fall asleep or when I travel, my doctor prescribes Ambien but only occasionally…and ONLY with my doctor’s okay.)
Don’t minimize the importance of sleep. It’s crucial for good health and wellbeing.
Loren Nancarrow is gone. It’s still hard to believe. After bravely battling brain cancer, my friend and former TV colleague passed away last month at the age of 60.
We’ll never know, this side of eternity, why Loren was taken from his family, friends and thousands of fans in the prime of life. It’s just not fair. But from the moment Loren received his grim diagnosis, he decided not to waste a moment pondering “why me?”
“The doctors tell me I have between one and three years to live,” Loren wrote in his blog shortly after his diagnosis. “So, boo-hoo, poor me.”
Then, with grace, class and his signature sense of humor, Loren showed the rest of us how to live to the max and die with dignity…living each day with a grateful heart and a hopeful spirit.
Loren only got 10 more months but he filled his final days with fun, family and a sense of purpose – using his health challenges and high profile to help others with cancer and inspire thousands through his touching blogs.
Nowhere was that inspiration more evident than at Loren’s celebration of life service at Cardiff Beach. More than a thousand of us laughed, cried and comforted one another as paddlers formed a circle beyond the breakers and floated flowers in Loren’s honor. Many believe it was Loren himself who ordered the spectacular sunset that signaled his final goodbye.
As the crowd dispersed, my media pals and I remained on the darkening beach. The memorial was over, but we weren’t ready to leave. That’s when Jody Hammond, former News 8 reporter and friend to Loren got an idea. She invited any of us who could to an impromptu gathering at her home to talk about and toast our TV colleague.
For hours, 15 of us…all Loren’s co-workers over the years reminisced about our dear friend. We represented several local TV stations…Jim Laslavic from 7/39, Liz Purcell from News 8, photojournalist Mike Ineman, producer Janine Nakama and yours truly were part of the 10 News contingent.
But that night – standing around Jody’s kitchen island we may as well have been from the same station. No matter where he had worked, or with whom, Loren was loved. Through laughter and tears, we shared countless touching and hilarious remembrances about the guy who transformed his home into a “ranch,” from which he would report on every fruit, vegetable, herb and critter know to man…a guy completely unafraid to dig deep into a heap of compost or a heap of political controversy …the guy who insisted on calling me “Clara Bow,” despite years of protestations.
When the night ended, Loren was still gone, but thanks to Jody’s warmth and hospitality, we’d been given the gift of a little more time together to mourn and celebrate our friend providing closure for the gaping hole in our collective hearts.
Please keep Loren’s remarkable family in your thoughts and prayers. Those of us who knew and loved Loren have lost a friend…but Susie, Hannah, Graham and Britta have lost their husband, dad and hero.
May God richly bless them and give them comfort in their grief.
It was Janine’s idea. My friend and high-energy walking buddy suggested that we shake up our routine a bit. Sure, Mission Bay, Coronado, Lake Miramar and Batiquitos Lagoon are great venues for our monthly “talk and treks.” But how about a change?
Janine’s plan was to bump it up a notch in the New Year – move from the flats to something a bit more challenging. So last week we headed for the hills (or at least the cliffs!) at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Two hours later – sweaty, spent, with quadriceps on fire, we hobbled back to our cars congratulating one another with “high-fives,” for conquering the sometimes steep and winding trails overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach. Then came the, “I should have had a V-8” moment. Why, we wondered, had we never considered one of the most spectacular places to walk, jog or hike in southern California for our monthly walking workout?
I’m afraid I’d lumped Torrey Pines in with other local attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Cabrillo Monument, USS Midway Museum and Belmont Park as destinations meant only for out-of-town guests. Come to think of it, the last time I trekked Torrey Pines, it was with my nephews from Iowa five years ago. “Auntie Carol” spent several days visiting the attractions I typically enjoyed only as tour guide.
Well, no more! We live in paradise and I intend to start taking advantage of it with or without out-of-town guests!
Did you know Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits,
yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast? The 2,000 awesome acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed…including the chaparral plant community, the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, miles of unspoiled beaches and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.
Travelers and locals (like Janine and me!) take a break at the stunning overlooks, walk peaceful trails or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. There’s a trail for everyone or you can combine several to intensify your workout. Here’s a trail list to get you started:
Guy Fleming Trail - 0.7 mile loop. Easiest, relatively level, forested, nature markers. Diverse scenery, ocean vistas, sandstone formations, spring wildflowers, drinking water, parking.
Perry Grove Trail - 0.5 mile loop. Secluded, not too difficult, but steep entry/exit (100 steps) Drought and Bark Beetle infestation have devastated this grove, but it is recovering. Whitaker native plant garden at trailhead.
Razor Point Trail - 0.7 mile to point. Dramatic views of gorge, badlands, spring wildflowers, fewer but more picturesque trees. Trail splits from Beach Trail 200 yards below restroom trailhead and follows the Canyon of the Swifts toward the bluffs.
Broken Hill Trail - Access to beach via north fork 1.2 Miles (my fave!) Longest trail…chaparral, few trees, scenic overlook of the “broken” hill. (Combine this trail with Razor Point Beach Trails for a 3-mile loop.)
Beach Trail - ¾ mile to Flat Rock and beach. Popular beach access. Least scenic trail, few trees, steep. (If you plan to hike down and then walk back to the lower parking area along the beach, remember to check the tides or you may find yourself swimming back to your car!)
If you’d like to join Janine and me as we enjoy the tourist attraction right here at home, go to www.torreypine.org
where you’ll find maps and much more about one of San Diego’s natural wonders.
See you on the trails!