I'm a prolific cook it's true, I've always loved food and have been involved in the wave of food writing that's happily gripped Ireland in recent years. I've become a keen organic grower, and most of all a campaigner for my own, and my family's better health.
Though it's personal I have to go into some detail to make this authentic, so here goes.
Last year, around September I developed a series of bizzare symptoms that began with tiredness, this was followed by being almost constantly at home with some sort of cold or chest infection (although I've had a sluggish immune system for a very long time), then the pains in my joints and bones set in, and then the lovely swelling in my face, hands and feet. Life was being a blast as you can imagine and I felt like death. Having notions that doctors are crazy I went to nutritionists, one of whom was really helpful ( introducing me to the benefits of kefir and sourdoughs, even giving me some starters of both) and I decided to get blood tests done. It showed up that I was hypothyroid as in, I had underactive thyroid to dangerous levels and was put on medication immediately. Happily my doctor agreed to prescribe me a non-licensed drug that is more natural, unhappily I didn't know about kelp at the time but I was happy to take anything to get better.
I also changed my diet, embarking on a Specific Carbohydrate diet, which elimates all grains and sugar. So no rice, no pasta, no flour made from grains and no artificial sugars, no spuds or parsnips. But it wasn't just a series of NOs, the new possibilities were exciting to me too, fermented foods, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi (which I regularly make now and love) and of course I got into making sourdough breads too. I introduced new habits like daily fresh juices, green salad with every dinner and my intake of delicious and good stuff has hugely increased. About two weeks into this diet I began to feel considerably better, had energy again and much better moods. I stayed with it as a 'heal and seal' programme (healing and sealing your gut) and began to reintroduce some legumes, which are always soaked overnight, spouted or fermented, I eat quinoa and brown rice and have no problems at all digesting white bread. I make all my own bread so haven't eaten commercial bread in a very long time anyway but I can now enjoy yummy toast, baguettes, foccacias and the rest, but properly made ones by good bakers.
I've discovered ways of baking with delicious, nutritious ingredients that are readily available, things like ground almonds, polenta, quinoa and my intake of butter, eggs and honey is unending and I eat oatmeal and spelt lots. Not to mention all the best things in life like good cheese, good meat and fish. I bake as much as I ever did except I couldn't go back to sugar so I use honey mostly, and dried fruit, nuts, coconut, bananas and naturally sweet ingredients. I bake brownies, cakes and other goodies and if I do eat something off the register, I don't have a problem with it. If the kids want old school cupcakes for a party then I enjoy making them, mountain high butter frosting and all and will devour one in a second.
Thyroid problems can be caused by many factors, a stress trigger and often liver problems so my quest and journey to better health continues. Regular readers or twitter follower will see that I reference GAPS quite often (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), for a fascinating account of a good friends experiences with this read here. For now, enjoy this recipe ( thank you Brenda) which I stole but which I changed as the quanties seemed a bit off, and this version here works wonderfully. I plan on trying the next batch with ground almonds as they are easier to find than coconut flour and cheaper. These muffins are sticky sweet, delicious and as my pal said when she munched through her third "There's an awful taste of more!!"
Carrot Cake Muffins – makes 12
Preheat the oven to 170degreesC
6 free range eggs
1/2 cup melted butter OR coconut oil (extra virgin available from Dunnes and Superquinn)
6 tblsp runny honey
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bread soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coconut flour, you can get this from health food shops and Musgraves
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins or mix of raisins and sultanas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Mix all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl, sprinkle in the coconut flour and stir, ensuring you have no lumps. Add the carrots and the remaining ingredients and mix well, you don't need to use a mixer or food processor so please don't.
The mix will look way too carrotty but it's fine
Spoon it into muffin cases and bake for 30 minutes or so until they are a nice dark brown.
Horse into them like there's no tomorrow, with a coffee and a massive big smile on your lovely, deserving face!!