Monday, 20 February 2017

Gluten free Sandwich

This is what we had for breakfast. Vegan sandwich- Flavoured with green chutney and a sweet and sour chutney. Potato slices, marinated in a spicy marinade and grilled and finally an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs.

We used a Herb Bread, that has six herbs in it and is made of five organic whole grains. One of our all time favourite.

Meanwhile here is another story with a happy ending. Jennifer Esposito was misdiagnosed for 25 years- MS, IBS, hormonal problems, stress, recurring sinus infections, stomach problems, extreme exhaustion, neuropathy, debilitating panic attacks to depression and even mental imbalance she had it all and one can imagine the medications that go with it- All it finally took was a doctor to tell her to check for Celiac Disease. Read her story in her own words

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Gluten Free Breakfast.

Pooris, Samosa's and Kachori's are typical Indian breakfast or snack items made of wheat. We had a more wholesome take on these snacks for today's breakfast.

We managed to no only make them gluten free- but also organic and used 100% whole grain flour. The flour was a mixture of Sorghum and Amaranth, freshly milled at home. The Samosa's had an elaborate stuffing though- Chia seeds, flax seed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, moringa and tamarind leaves, dates, raisins, figs and apricots all seasoned with curry leaves and peri-peri chillies.

The Kachori's were stuffed with spiced and seasoned peanut powder- all grown at home and made at home.

Breakfast was accompanied by date and tamarind- sweet and tangy chutney.

Meanwhile a small note on why we use amaranth in many of our recipes:  Amaranth is a versatile plant since it adapts itself to a large number of environments, grows with vigor, produces large amounts of biomass, and resists drought, heat, and pests. It's an environmentally conscious consumers dream crop.
When it comes to nutrition, Amaranth is very rich in essential amino acids and is particularly high in those amino acids which are deficient in other cereals (like wheat, rice, millets, and oats). Hence when amaranth is added to any other flour it enhances the nutritional profile of the mixture. Two such essential amino acids (which cannot be produced by the body) are Lysine and Tryptophan.
Other than building proteins, lysine is essential for the production of a compound called carnitine. Almost every cell in our body depends on carnitine to transport fats into the cells. Lysine also helps our body absorb calcium and make collagen.

Our bodies convert Tryptophan into serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter.
According to a study published in the July 2006 issue of the “Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.” a deficiency in tryptophan and the subsequent lack of serotonin is also associated with general irritability and depression. Tryptophan can also affect your sleep cycle because we use serotonin to synthesize the hormone melatonin. When we produce high levels of melatonin at night, it can help us relax and sleep. Other than these two hormones our bodies can also convert tryptophan into the B vitamin niacin.

In tests carried out in rats, Amaranth has the ability to reduce triglycerides and LDL and increase HDL levels (1).

So isn't Amaranth cool grain to have in our diets- do you have it?

Monday, 13 February 2017


Among fish, Sardines are considered to be one of the most nutritious of the lot. "The New York Times" once called them as one of the “best foods you aren’t eating.”
Sardines deliver more calcium per serving than virtually any other food, largely because they’re full of soft, edible bones. Moreover, they’re also rich in vitamin D, a nutrient that helps you absorb and use calcium. Being at the bottom of the food chain, they also have the smallest bioaccumulation potential.
Aarina made two unique dishes with Sardines. Both perhaps needing quite some patience in handling the small fish.
The fist one was stuffed sardines- deftly sliced and stuffed with all that we could find in our garden- Peanuts, Bilimbi, chillies and garnished the mixture with aromatic herbs. The sardines were then stuffed with the mixture and fried. I prefer my fish juicy while Aarina likes it crisp.
The second dish required Aarina to carefully open up the sardines and make fillet out of them (without removing the bones). They were then marinated and fried with a choice of spices and herbs. Garnished with tomatoes, cheese, and mint leaves.
What a lovely lunch.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Bhakarwadis and Schizophrenia story.

I wrote this post, munching on these scrumptious Gluten-free Bhakarwadi's hence the title of the post. Ah, yes they were mostly organic too- except for a few spices. Now for the Schizophrenia story, here we go-

Francis Curtis Dohan, was an American research physician and endocrinologist and was a flight surgeon, for the US army Air Corps during the second world war. After the war, Dohan returned back to civilian life and published many scientific articles. The contribution that he is remembered best for however came in 1966 when he published a pathbreaking study in ‘The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’
Dohan, looked at the number of women admitted to the mental hospitals in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the United States before and after World War II and compared it with the figures of wheat and rye consumed during those two periods. He found a significant correlation.

As you can see in the image, as the world consumption of Gluten decreased, so did the worldwide rate of first-time admission to psychiatric institutions (1).
However, those were the days when the public was still debating if cigarette smoking was harmful as research was showing it to be and Dohan’s paper did not cut much ice.

This was also the time when big pharma’s started rolling out Dopamine blockers (2) to ameliorate the symptoms. Soon the study of schizophrenia became a study of the brain and the rest of the body was gutted out.

A few study’s meanwhile did point out that there was a smoking gun (3). But it mostly remained within a few obscure research papers. Recently however a spate of research papers showing a close co-relation between Gluten and brain disorders have emerged and are making any medical practitioners relook at their textbooks (5).

One such interesting paper was published in ‘The American Journal of Psychiatry’ which linked anti-gliadin (a component of gluten) antibodies in mothers, to the risk of schizophrenia in their children (4).  The research, of course, needs a bigger follow-up study, but it does indicate that a mother can potentially put her child at risk, by consuming gluten containing food.

So, can’t someone tested positive for celiac disease and not everyone, stay off gluten- It turns out that schizophrenics tended to have a lot of anti-wheat antibodies in their systems, but these antibodies are nearly entirely different from the ones that people with celiac disease have. That means that the usual test for gluten issues, the tests for celiac, wouldn't come up positive in schizophrenics, even though they have unusual immune reactions to wheat. This was published in a 2010 study and is another indication that testing for gluten is just not enough (6).

There is no single cause of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia isn't even a single disorder, but rather a variety of disorders with similar enough symptoms to be lumped together. But what is pretty much emerging out today is that Gluten is one such cause and going off Gluten has a potential to help someone already diagnosed with Schizophrenia.(8)

Today treatments do not require doctors to recommend a gluten-free diet for patients with Schizophrenia, but that will defiantly change one day. Meanwhile ending it with a quote from Dr. Emily Deans "A gluten-free diet is safe and doesn't have side effects - I don't see a good argument against giving it a try for anyone with schizophrenia who is willing to give it a go, at least for three months. The worst thing that happens is you find you are not one of the gluten-sensitive schizophrenics, and you've gone without bread and pasta for a little while. The best thing that happens is that your symptoms get better, possibly quite a lot better."(7)

Meanwhile for the rest of us, whether eating gluten containing food is a risk worth taking, is a choice we make- hence the Gluten-free Bhakarwadi's .




3. a. Wheat gluten as a pathogenic factor in schizophrenia. 1976
b. Wheat gluten as a pathogenic factor in schizophrenia. 1984 
c. The gluten connection: the association between schizophrenia and celiac disease 2006 
d. Prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the United States clinical antipsychotic trials of intervention effectiveness study population.


5. a. Prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the United States clinical antipsychotic trials of intervention effectiveness study population. Schizophr Bull. 2011 Jan;37(1):94-100. Epub 2009 Jun 3
b. Diana Samaroo, . Novel immune response to gluten in individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2010 May;118(1-3):248-55. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
c.  A E Kalaydjian, W Eaton, N Cascella, A Fasano. The gluten connection: the association between schizophrenia and celiac disease. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 Feb;113(2):82-90.




Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Grain of the Indus Valley.

Between 2200-2000 BC the Indus Valley civilization faced a crisis- It experienced a climate change and with deficient monsoons, the agrarian economy was faltering. When the civilization witnessed a water crisis, they did something smart- they changed their eating habits- wheat and paddy (which are water guzzlers) were dropped from the menu and millet production saw a sharp uptick. It might be quite possible, that for centuries many of the people of Indus valley were on a gluten-free diet!

Scientist, studying Anthropology are stunned at how smartly the Harappans dealt with climate change. Millets consume a fraction of water than wheat and provide a much better source of nutrition. One of the largest cultivated millet at Harappa was 'Little millet' and I added a bit of imagination to history and churned out a recipe that a Harappan resident would have consumed 4000 years ago.

I made a Kichdi (gruel) of 'little millet', lentils, green peas and carrots peppered with spices that were found at Harappa and used by the cooks there. I used the modern day orange version of the carrot, while a Harappan cook may have used a black or purple wild Mesopotamian carrot.

Today, when the world is facing a water crisis, quality of food is deteriorating and our well being gets compromised, can't we do what the Harappan's did- Change what we eat?

Ah, our lunch had a bit more than a standard Indus valley main course. A small serving of Saurkraut and a bowlful of a colourful salad- made of Red, yellow and green Capsicum, Pomegranate, grapes, raisins, various nuts, and garnished with lime juice and mint.

The vanishing millets of the Indus civilization

Friday, 3 February 2017

Gluten Free Trail Mix

In the olden days when people would move from one place to another on foot, they carried with them a mixture of dry fruits and seeds. This mixture was light to carry and sustained for quite many hours of the walk.

In a similar manner, when setting on treks or trails or long drives, where getting food is not easy a 'Trail Mix' comes handy. It does not require refrigeration, is extremely nutritious and comes pre-seasoned.

Another great idea is to use it as a salad dressing or spread it over a sandwich to give your snack a nutrition boost or just much it as a snack.

Meanwhile, a Lemur, Madagascar Chameleon, and Giraffe photobomb my setup.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A Versatile root.

'Maadi' or 'Maaddi', as it is locally called in Goa, Taro root is a very versatile ingredient and can be paired in many dishes. Quite commonly found in Mapusa market (and also sold by many local vegetable vendors) the root has a very starchy flavour and hence goes well in curries, as fried and also in stir fry dishes.

I cooked it with mushrooms and the Umami flavour of mushrooms paired really well with the starchy texture and taste of Maadi.

I have fried it with recheado masala marinade, paired it in prawn curry and stir fried it with just onions and pepper.

Caution: Taro root (and also leaves- locally called Alu leaves) has high Oxalic acid content. Oxalic acid is bad news for people having kidney stones and hence moderation is the key (Avoidance is best).

Recheado Masala for sliced stems.

Taro root