Thursday, February 6, 2014

When Yeast Attacks

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I am happy to be back to writing again tonight. I took a little hiatus after the baby mat project. We've been busy, but mostly, I just haven't been feeling well. I picked up a stomach bug after sitting in the elementary school office waiting for my son's speech therapy appointment to conclude. Kid after kid came in complaining of stomach issues and then I was sick in the night and for the rest of the week. Thinking about it, though, I realized I've had an upset stomach for months, ever since I took that course of antibiotics in the fall. I recalled the stomach issues, rashes, sudden weight gain, and my bad allergic reaction at Christmas and a light blinked on. I dug out my old 1990s copy of the Atkins diet book and looked up the chapter on yeast overgrowth. Sure enough, I had most symptoms.

Yeast overgrowth occurs when the balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system is upset by something, such as taking antibiotics. If too many of your gut bacteria die, harmful yeast can grow unchecked and overwhelm your system. This is why doctors recommend eating yogurt when you're on antibiotics. I did eat yogurt, but it evidently wasn't enough. I was thinking you had to have thrush or a lot of yeast infections to have yeast overgrowth, but it turns out that's not the case. Rashes, stomach upset, fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain are also symptoms, as are mold allergies. You might recall, I wondered why I had such a severe allergic reaction to mold at my sister's house. Well mold and yeast are linked, and you may not be aware certain foods contain mold that can exacerbate the problem. I really recommend the Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution book. Even if you don't follow the diet plan there are great chapters on treating health issues with food and natural supplements. I use it in tandem with the Atkins Vita-Nutrient Solution book and have been very happy with the outcome of the treatment plans we've tried. The anti-yeast solution lasts four to six weeks. You follow the diet and take probiotics to rebuild your natural bacterial colony.

I put myself on the anti-yeast plan not quite a week ago and the good new is I'm feeling much better and have already started losing weight again. The bad news is, the prohibited foods include any yeast or mold containing foods as well as most carbohydrates, so no smoked foods like trout, salmon or oysters, no wine or alcohol, no sugars, no grains, no cheese except mozzarella or cream cheese, no cashews or pistachios or peanuts, no olives, no pickles, no soy sauce... so basically all my favorite foods are off the list! Now my stomach is feeling better and my allergies are much less severe, but I'm in a terrible mood!

As you might imagine, cooking for a family is difficult under such restrictions. I've been really stretching my culinary imagination to produce palatable foods. The main problem is I've kind of lost interest in cooking since I can't eat anything I enjoy, but these kids expect three meals a day, so what are you going to do? Tonight I came up with a new recipe, Spanish Mussels. This was a big hit so I thought I'd share it with you. This is re-worked Spanish Rice, using shredded cauliflower as rice. I adapted a couple different recipes to come up with this one. I used mussels as the protein, but you could use anything you like, such as ground beef, chicken, shrimp, and so forth.

Spanish Mussels
Serves 6
2 lb. mussels in their shells, cleaned
6 slices uncured nitrate-free bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 head cauliflower, grated into "rice"
1 (14-16 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. Remove from skillet and drain over paper towels. Crumble bacon when cool. In same skillet, cook the onion and bell pepper in the drippings until soft. Add bacon and all remaining ingredients except mussels. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 35 minutes. Add mussels and simmer 5 minutes more.

Everyone really enjoyed this dish and it met the dietary requirements. Kudos to Jerry, who not only is tolerating the dietary restrictions but helped cook this meal. I hope you enjoy this, whether you're on a special diet or not!

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