Thursday, August 16, 2012

Breastfeeding Shrank My Butt!

jeans butt imprint in the sand
Photo Credit; Irum Shahid

Today I typed;

"How to Make Your Butt Big"

Into Google.

Now, I am not normally the kind of girl to be worried about such things. While I suffer from body image issues as much as the next girl, mine have typically focused on the problems of having a large bust and the lack of clothing that fits. My butt has always just... been there.

Until last night.

I suppose it had been shrinking for a while. After all, I am still in that extended postpartum stage where my body is rearranging itself at will. Some slow and steady weight loss meant that my pants were bound to fit better eventually. But when a pair that I bought just a few weeks ago as a little tight suddenly felt loose in the back, I knew something was up. Sure enough, a quick check in the mirror revealed a suddenly less than ample booty.

I remembered reading some research a while ago that indicated a small waist to hip ratio as being a good indicator of fertility. Fertility and the ability to produce good quality and quantity of breast-milk go hand in hand, and I had recently heard that the fat stores a woman has specifically in her breasts and her butt were reserves for these purposes. As I am breastfeeding a very hungry just turned nine month old I could readily believe that my supplies were being depleted, and I wanted to know how to build those supplies back up.

Unfortunately, the advice that Google initially kicked out was pretty terrible and included gems like;

"Eat lots of sugar and starchy food like Kool Aid and pasta because it all goes straight to your butt!"
"Eat lots of greasy food like pizza and fried dough because it all goes straight to your butt!"
"Eat lots of chicken because of the hormones injected into it!"
"Eat five hot dogs every night before you go to bed!"

You probably know this already, but please, don't do any of that! It won't work! Eating lots of sugary foods is a great way to become insulin resistant and pack on the pounds not on your bottom, but around your middle. Goodbye, small waist to hip ratio!

I did discover that I was not the only one who had noticed their butt had got a lot smaller since becoming pregnant and the subsequent breastfeeding. Some people had even named it; Flat Butt Syndrome!

After many more searches, I finally found the answers I was looking for. They were all over the place though, and I had to get quite creative to find them, so I hope to save someone else the trouble, especially if that someone is a worried nursing mother like I was!

First of all, don't worry - loosing your butt does not mean you are loosing your ability to breastfeed. In fact, it means that breastfeeding is working as intended!

The fat around your hips and thighs is called your gluteofemoral fat. This is a very special kind of fat, as it is largely made up of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids breaks down into;

DHA, EPA and ALA. Today we are going to focus on DHA.

DHA is absolutely critical for a developing baby, especially the last three months of pregnancy and the first year of life. It is a large part of the very structure of our brains, and makes up 10-15% of the weight of your baby's cerebral cortex. DHA is also very important for proper eye development. The back of a baby's eyes are 50% DHA by weight!

In fact, DHA is so important to the developing baby that during the last trimester of pregnancy the placenta extracts it from the mother's blood and concentrates it in the baby's blood instead. At this point in pregnancy, the baby will have twice the level of DHA in his blood than the mother. If the mother had low levels of DHA,
some can be obtained from the mother's richest store of it - her brain. This might explain the 2-3% shrink in brain size along with the poor concentration, forgetfulness and general "mommy brain" that many women experience.

breastfed baby breastfeeding
Photo Credit; Carin Araujo

A newborn baby cannot produce DHA from Omega 3 fatty acids until she is at least 4 months old. This means that they are reliant entirely on what we feed them - breast-milk or formula. Thankfully this has been brought to the attention of formula makers over the last few years, and DHA has been added to most of them. Unfortunately, subsequent testing seems to imply that the form of DHA in the formula is not being absorbed quite like it should be. This may be the explanation for the difference in IQ that we see between breastfed and formula fed babies. There appears to be some benefit for preterm babies, but there really isn't any evidence to show a benefit for full term babies yet. We can hope that the makers of formula continue to improve upon their product, but in the meantime let us not forget the importance of donated breast-milk and milk banks.

We must also remember that the amount of DHA in breast-milk is entirely dependent on the availability of DHA in the mother's body. This is the very reason for that gluteofemoral fat; the fat around your hips and thighs. DHA is so important to babies that women's bodies store up a good supply of this important nutrient years in advance. In fact, your body can be very protective of this special fat - I am sure many of you have heard a woman complaining that they just can't seem to get the weight off their hips - perhaps you have been one of them! This situation quickly turns around in the third trimester of pregnancy and continues throughout breastfeeding - the more you nurse, the more you move the fat from your butt to your baby!

In fact, 60-80% of the DHA in breast-milk actually comes from these fat stores rather than from what a nursing mother eats that particular day. This is likely due to the necessity of a steady influx of DHA as opposed to the fluctuations of diet. Please do not take this to mean that your diet is not important! Around 40% of the nourishing, brain developing DHA in your milk is from diet - that's almost half!

And for people like myself who either like having a butt or intend to have more children, it is important to re-build those healthy fat stores. So how do we do that?

  1. Eat Fish. (Especially Fish Roe.)
  2. fish salmon
    Photo Credit; thornsa
    • This is the most important step to take. If you only do one thing, do this one. Fish is our only dietary source of DHA in any significant quantities.
    • A Norwegian study that was published in 2006 in the journal "Lipids" concluded that "fish consumption is more effective in increasing serum EPA and DHA than supplementing the diet with fish oil."
    • According to the American Heart Association, two serving of fish per week will give you the recommended daily amount of EPA and DHA.
    • Concerned about mercury? Post coming soon!
  3. Eat Walnuts, Olive Oil, Flax-seed, Hemp and Chia Seed.
  4. halved walnut in shell
    Photo Credit; Kriss Szkurlatowski
    • These are excellent sources of ALA, which your body can use to convert into EPA and DHA in small amounts.
  5. Take a High Quality Fish Oil
  6. green pastures cod liver oil blend
    • For many women, they feel that they are getting the appropriate amount of fatty acids from diet alone. However, if this is not the case for you, taking a high quality fish oil as a supplement to your diet might be the boost that you need.
    • Make sure your source of fish oil is pure, to avoid ingesting toxins like PCBs and mercury. This is especially important if you are breastfeeding, so that you don't pass them on to your baby. I personally take the Green Pasture's Butter Oil and Cod Liver Blend, and have been very pleased with the health benefits. Please understand that this is an addition to your diet, not a replacement or a stop gap.
    • Too much fish oil may result in blood thinning, bleeding and acts as an anti-coagulant. Talk to your doctor before adding any type of supplements into your diet.
  7. Do Not Ever Consume (man made) Trans Fats.
  8. trans fats fat nutrition label
    Photo Credit; Jason Antony
    • Trans fats can interfere with the body's conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA. They are also full of free radicals and incredibly bad for your overall health. Remember - if you eat it, your baby eats it too!
    • Please note that the trans fats naturally found in grass fed butter and beef have actually been shown to be beneficial, but that almost anything you can buy in a store with trans fats on the label is bad for you. I will be writing a post on how to decode labels for trans fats soon.
  9. Consider Taking Maca Root
  10. maca root
    Photo Credit; P.R.
    • Chances are, if you are breastfeeding you are suffering from something that maca root can help your body re-balance. Maca root is wonderful medicine in that it does not provide an external force on your body, rather it supports and nourishes from within to naturally allow your body do what it wants to do.
    • Never eat maca root raw - that would be like eating a turnip raw! There can be some pretty significant negative side effects from eating this plant raw.
    • Always take any medicine or herbal supplement under medical guidance. Ask your doctor about it, but you may find that a licensed herbalist or a practitioner of Chinese medicine to be more knowledgeable.
And finally, know that for most women as long as we eat a diet rich in these wonderful Omega 3 fatty acids, we will naturally rebuild our gluteofemoral fat supplies once we stop breastfeeding. In other words; yes, we will get our butts back! Yay curves!

curvy ladies woman carnival
Photo Credit; sfmission.com

Recommended Reading;

Why Women Need Fat
Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy
Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods

This post was shared through Natural Living Link UpSimple Lives ThursdayRural ThursdayPennywise PlatterFresh Bites FridayFight Back FridayDIY FridayFit and Fabulous Friday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to Eat Locally and in Season - Part1, Find Your Farmer's Market

fresh vegetables
Photo Credit; Alistair Williamson

When I first started out on this healthy eating journey, one of the things that was recommended to me was to eat locally and in season. The way to do that was supposedly to look up what foods are in season where you live, and go find them. Sounds logical, right?

I soon found that was a lot harder to do than it sounded. On most websites that claimed to tell you what was in season and what wasn't, I soon found that despite the fact that the state I live in has an economy largely based on agriculture, many sites told me that there was nothing being grown for months out of the year here! Even the best one I have found told me earlier this year that there was nothing available but lettuce, snap peas and strawberries, when even my local chain store was carrying locally grown asparagus. In fact, other than a few lucky finds like the asparagus, even if you are buying foods that are in season, you are very likely not buying locally at all, even if your part of the world is capable of producing it.

So what are we supposed to do for the months in the year when next to nothing is listed? Are we stuck relying on large chain stores to provide us with imported mono-cultured crops? What about growing our own food? While this would not be a bad idea, many of us simply do not have the resources available to do that in any significant quantities, especially not in the middle of winter.

Enter the actually local farmer. The farmer who is often too small to have their crop bought by chain stores even locally due to the fluctuation in crop type, size, shape and quantity. Too small to afford an organic certification even if their practices are 100% organic. (Post on this coming soon!) But this natural variation is exactly what we are after! Unfortunately for us, they are also too small to advertise in any significant way. So how do we find them?


farmer's market
Photo Credit; Terence O'Brien

We go to our local farmer's market! Yet even these can be an elusive beast.

These sites do a pretty good job of listing many farmer's markets;

  1. local-farmers-markets.com
  2. usda.gov/farmersmarkets
  3. eatwellguide.org

But they are often outdated or incomplete, as they rely on people to update them personally. Even if you find your town's market listed the hours are often vague, missing or flat out wrong. There is typically no coordinator, no phone number to call, no one to ask for directions. Maybe you drive up to where it is supposed to be and either find it practically empty or missing entirely. And what are you supposed to do for the months in the year when it just isn't there?

For me, the experience of trying to find the farmer's market was a great lesson in what community actually looks like. These things thrive on things like trust and word of mouth, and you typically have to delve into that in order to find them. Start by talking to people - ask your friends, your family, your neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store. Do they go to the farmer's market? Do they know where it is? Do they know someone who does? Where is it? When is it? How do you find out more? I was personally surprised when these questions were answered by my mother in law. I thought she would be the last person to know about it since she lives in a neighboring town, refuses to eat healthily even as a Type 2 diabetic and thinks organic food is cost prohibitive, but she is a school teacher, and as such is very up to date on what is happening in her community. 

It turns out, as the towns around here are quite small and close together, our "local" farmer's market is actually hosted in her town. Sure, our town has one or two stands on a Saturday, but I don't want to live on zucchini, summer squash and pickles, especially not for the entire summer! Thankfully, the farmer's market where everyone shows up on a Saturday is full of delicious varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables, even pastured chickens and eggs! It is a great opportunity to see what our area is capable of producing, to invest financially in the community here, but also to invest in it socially. We have the chance to talk to the people producing the food, to ask them where their farms actually are, to find out if and when they do come to the farmer's market in our town during the week, and to see if we could come out to the farm and buy from them directly. We can share gardening tips for the exact climate that we live in, commiserate on the effect the weather that week is having on our crops or livestock, and just generally get to know each other. This is a big part of our plan for food security. (More on that soon.)

This all sounded very daunting to me to start with, but I encourage you to get out there and give it a go. We are raised in a very strange society that doesn't talk to our neighbors, and I think that is an important skill that needs to be regained. Sure, it will probably feel awkward at first, it did to me, but it is a skill and you will get better at it and very quickly start enjoying yourself.

If you do ask around and no one in your circle knows about any farmer's market, or can only give you very vague ideas about it, try looking in your local newspaper, yellow pages, or even your local TV station. Right around the time of year that they start up (usually late spring, but it will depend on your area) there is usually a little push to get some advertising out there, but as I said before they typically don't have the resources to do anything big, so they tend to target the people who are already looking - keep your eyes and ears peeled!

Last but definitely not least, it is worth going straight to the source - search for the actual farms near you. (Try looking on localharvest.org and eatwild.com.) Call them up directly and asking if they go to a farmer's market, and if not, how you could go about buying from them.

How did you find your local farmer's market? Are you still looking? What did you find when you got there? Have any tips for getting the most out of the experience?

Stay tuned for Part 2, How to Eat Locally and in Season Through Winter.

This post was shared through Simple Lives Thursday.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Recipe; Gluten Free Taco Meat Seasoning


Recipe; Gluten Free Taco Meat Seasoning



Prep Time; 3 minutes

Cook Time; 10 minutes
Ready In; 13 minutes

Serves; 4

This recipe is; Casein Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, GAPS Safe, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo, SCD Safe, Seasonal - Summer, Soy Free, Sugar Free, Vinegar Free, WAPF Safe.


Equipment;

  • Frying Pan
  • Stirring Spoon
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Small Bowl

Ingredients;

  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tbsp beef stock
  • 1 lb minced beef

Instructions;

  1. Stir all the spices together in a small bowl.
  2. Crumble the meat into the saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the beef stock and stir to break up the meat into a small texture. Add the spices and cook until well browned but not dry.
  4. Serve!
Tips;
  • Try making a big batch of this seasoning ahead of time and mixing it right into a suitable storage container like an old jam jar.
  • If you can tolerate corn, try adding 1 1/2 tbsp corn flour to the spice mix for a more authentic flavor. If you can't tolerate corn but you can tolerate other grains, try arrowroot starch/flour in place of the corn flour.
  • The more liquid you add to the pan, the finer the texture of your meat. Try adding less for bigger chunks, and more for a very fine texture, but be careful - small variations make a big difference!
  • Make sure to read the ingredients on your onion powder and garlic powder carefully - these often contain gluten or other unsavories in the form of anti-caking ingredients.
Even if you are not gluten free, this recipe can save you a lot of money over buying take out Mexican food or those expensive taco seasoning packets in the store that are mostly just corn starch!


Served with re-fried beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and corn chips for my husband.

You can find the recipes for the guacamole and pico de gallo salsa here;


And a recipe that combines all three recipes into easy to follow instructions that minimize your preparation time here;

Meal Plan / Recipe; Mexican Dinner

Recipe; Pico De Gallo Salsa







Recipe; Pico De Gallo Salsa



Prep Time; 20 minutes
Cook Time; N/A
Ready In; 2-4 hours 20 minutes

Makes; 2 cups

This recipe is; Casein Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, GAPS Safe, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo, SCD Safe, Seasonal - Summer, Soy Free, Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vinegar Free, WAPF Safe.

Equipment;
  • Saucepan or Kettle to boil water
  • Chopping Board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Colander or Sieve
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Medium sized Mixing Bowl
  • Garlic Press
  • Mixing Spoon
Ingredients;
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, approximately 3 large roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large lime or 2 key limes
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Method;

  1. Put a good amount of water on to boil, at least two cups.
  2. Dice the onion very small, about 1/4 cm square.
  3. Crush and peel the garlic clove. Remove the tough end.
  4. Place the onion and garlic in the colander and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside to cool.
  5. Dice the tomato into 1 cm square chunks. Place in mixing bowl.
  6. Juice the lime, you should have about 2 tbsp lime juice. Add to mixing bowl.
  7. Dice the jalapeno very finely, add to mixing bowl.
  8. Pinch off the cilantro leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves, add to mixing bowl.
  9. Mince the garlic or use a garlic press on it. Add the minced garlic and the onion to the mixing bowl, stir to combine all ingredients.
  10. Refrigerate for two to four hours - this allows the flavors to combine and develop.
  11. Serve!
Tips;

  • Step 4 is called blanching - it keeps the flavor and texture of the onion and garlic intact while removing the potency these ingredients often have while completely raw. If you and your family enjoy these ingredients completely raw you can skip this step, but my husband and most kids I know are not big fans of raw onion unless I blanch them.
  • You can skip step 10 if you are in a hurry as this is a great basic dish even without the refrigeration time, but if you are making this for a special meal I would highly recommend including this step as it really adds something special to the dish.
  • This is a great make ahead of time dish as you can let it rest overnight in the fridge with no worries - it only gets better!
This really is such a versatile recipe, you can serve it as one of the main flavors of a dish;


Or as an accompaniment to many other flavors;



You can find the recipes for other items on these plates here;


And a recipe that combines all three recipes into easy to follow instructions that minimize your  preparation  time here;

Meal Plan / Recipe; Mexican Dinner

Recipe; Guacamole


Recipe; Guacamole






Prep Time; 30 minutes
Cook Time; N/A
Ready In; 1 hour 30 minutes

Makes; 2 cups

This recipe is; Body Ecology Safe, Corn Free, Dairy/Casein Free, Egg Free, GAPS Legal, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo, Raw, SCD Safe, Seasonal - Summer, Soy Free, Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vinegar Free, WAPF Safe.

Equipment;
  • Saucepan or Kettle to boil water
  • Chopping Board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Colander or Sieve
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Medium sized Mixing Bowl
  • Potato Masher
  • Garlic Press
  • Spatula
Ingredients;
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 large lime or 2 key limes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove of garlic
Method;
  1. Put a good amount of water on to boil, at least two cups.
  2. Dice the onion very small, about 1/4 cm square.
  3. Crush and peel the garlic clove. Remove the tough end.
  4. Place the onion and garlic in the colander and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside to cool.
  5. Dice the tomato into 1 cm square chunks, remove the seeds and set aside to allow the juices to drain out.
  6. Juice the lime, you should have about 2 tbsp lime juice.
  7. Halve the avocados, remove the seed and scoop the flesh from the peel. Place the avocado flesh into the mixing bowl and toss with the lime juice to coat as soon as you can - this will stop the avocado from going brown.
  8. Measure out your spices - 1/2 tsp each of salt, cumin and cayenne, into the mixing bowl with the avocado and lime. Use a potato masher to break up the avocado and incorporate the spices.
  9. Pinch off the cilantro leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and mince the leaves.
  10. Mince the garlic or use a garlic press on it.
  11. Fold in the garlic, onion, tomato and cilantro into the avocado mixture.
  12. Allow to rest for one hour at room temperature - this allows the flavors to combine and develop.
  13. Serve!
Tips;
  • The cayenne is optional. I personally find that the heat is barely detectable and enjoy the flavor it adds, but if you don't like any heat this is still a great recipe without it.
  • Step 4 is called blanching - it keeps the flavor and texture of the onion and garlic intact while removing the potency these ingredients often have while completely raw. If you and your family enjoy these ingredients completely raw you can skip this step, but my husband and most kids I know are not big fans of raw onion unless I blanch them.
  • You can skip step 12 if you are in a hurry as this is a very flavorful dish even without the resting time, but if you are making this for a special meal I would highly recommend including this step as it really adds something special to the dish.
  • This is a great make ahead of time dish as you can let it rest overnight in the fridge - just make sure you don't skimp on the lime juice and cover it really well to avoid it going brown!
This recipe is great either as a garnish or as a main part of the meal;


The wonderful thing about Mexican food is that it is very flexible; on the left we have a grain free option, and on the right we have an option for someone after the more typical Mexican-American fare.


You can find the recipes for the taco meat seasoning and pico de gallo salsa here;


And a recipe that combines all three recipes into easy to follow instructions that minimize your  preparation  time here;

Meal Plan / Recipe; Mexican Dinner

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ingredients; Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash seems to be getting a bit of a name for itself! I keep seeing it pop up in recipes, but few of those recipes talk about how to find and prepare this little known food, so it took me a while to take the plunge and try it. Now that I have, I wish I had tried it sooner as it is so easy (and fun!) to prepare, a wonderfully nutritious alternative to regular spaghetti as the name implies, and it is naturally gluten free.


This is what a whole, uncooked Spaghetti Squash looks like;


As the name implies, it is a member of the squash family of foods, and the taste, texture and cooking methods follows suit. It is also known as vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, spaghetti marrow, and gold string melon.


Most grocery stores are carrying varieties of squash like this, often in a mixed bin of assorted squashes like butternut and acorn. Locally, my HyVee and Skagway both sell it year round. I have not seen it at Walmart, but I don't go there very often, and even less often to buy groceries. 

So how do you cook Spaghetti Squash?

If you don't want to have to deal with cutting something this big and solid you can bake it whole for an hour at 375F, or boil it (submerged in a very large pan/pot of water) for 20 to 30 minutes.

To cook it a little faster you can cut it in half. Do this by poking the end of a big chefs knife in, then twisting/pressing it around until you have "sliced" the squash in half - if the end with the stem on it is being stubborn, just slip the knife out and just pull the two halves all the way apart with your hands.

It is easier to scoop the seeds out after the squash is cooked, so I left them in;


You can see the texture of the squash even before it is cooked;



Then you can either bake it at 375F for 30 to 40 minutes, or microwave it face up in a microwave safe pan with about a quarter inch of water in the bottom for 9 to 12 minutes. 

Whichever method you choose, make sure to poke holes in it with a fork before cooking it to prevent it from exploding!

It is done when you can poke a sharp knife into the skin easily and it comes out all nice and stringy and golden;




Let it cool until it is a safe temperature to handle, 10 to 20 minutes, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon;



Then use a fork to fluff up and separate the strands of squash out from the skin.

One large squash will easily feed four people.



Some people eat it pretty plain with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper, but most people find that it is bland enough to require a good strong sauce. (Ever eaten pasta plain? Me either!) I like it with the traditional spaghetti bolognese sauce:


Recipe: "Spaghetti" Bolognese

It would be good with anything you typically serve with spaghetti or noodles including alfredo sauce and oriental style soups!

As with all squashes, you can save and roast the seeds, just like pumpkin seeds.

How do you deal with intimidating looking foods, especially hard gourds? Have you tried anything new lately?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Living Without Chocolate

living without chocolate morsels truffles
LIVING WITHOUT CHOCOLATE

Shockingly, it has been much harder to write this than to actually do it;

I no longer eat chocolate.

As a former chocoholic that could easily eat a bar a day and often did just that, this is quite a turnaround. And I'm not talking about one of those tiny little "bars" of "chocolate" from Hershey's (yuck!) either, I'm talking 100g Green & Black's rich dark chocolate, maybe with some kind of decadent flavor like ginger and orange thrown in... Mmm..!

So why on earth would I give up something I enjoy so much?

This time, it's actually not because I can't eat it - my body physically processes it just fine. My brain on the other hand doesn't seem to like it at all. Since I gave birth to my daughter, it makes me feel something like this;

Depressed; 

depressed

Extremely annoyed at absolutely nothing;

pissed, extremely annoyed

And flat out stark raving mad.

angry, stark raving mad

Sometimes, all at the same time! Not a pretty picture. Especially for the loved ones around me. 

Honestly? I think I might still indulge occaisionally if I was the only one dealing with the consequences. Chocolate is one fine tasting food, and curling up on the couch with a movie and feeling sorry for myself every once in a while... well, sometimes you just feel that way anyway, so why not enjoy the chocolate? But when you put other people into the picture - a daughter I need to be patient with, a husband I need to be emotionally there for, and so much more for both of them... it's just not worth it. Chocolate could be the elixir of the gods, but if it made me feel and act like this I would still turn it down.

The last piece of chocolate I had was in this Recipe; Black Bean Brownies. It was a test after eliminated it for a bit to see if I had been right about what it was doing to me. Sure enough, I had been, and my husband happily finished off the rest while hiding from the monstrosity that is me on chocolate.

These days, I am happily enjoying a little legume called carob in place of chocolate in my life. It is misleading to say it tastes like chocolate, rather it has a similar flavor palate - rich, dark, complexIt is a similar enough flavor that it can be made into carob chips and used in place of chocolate chips in recipes, or left as carob powder and used as a substitute in equal parts for cocoa powder.

My grandma also swore off chocolate many years ago, so my introduction to carob was at quite a young age. Someone who has never had carob before will probably find it like nothing they have ever tasted before, and might take a few tries to not be surprised by the flavor, as it really does look like chocolate. Nonetheless, it is a good flavor; I don't think I have ever met someone who has tried it and actually disliked it.

Have you ever tried carob? Interested? Here are some recipes to try;

Have you ever sworn off a food for the sake of others?