Autoimmune disease

What is autoimmune disease, what causes it and how can it be treated?  This is my stab at explaining what I have learned since I suspected I have one or more.  A recent conversation with two cousins revealed many of my relatives have similar chronic issues.

There are many known autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, arthritis, thyroid disease, fibrocystic breasts, cystic fibrosis and psoriasis, to name just a few. They are all caused by inflammation which causes your immune system to work overtime.  When your immune system is on all the time, it produces too much fibrin, a mesh-like protein.  Normally our bodies produce proteolytic enzymes to remove the fibrin, but if too much fibrin is produced, the enzymes cannot keep up.  It does not help that our natural production of these enzymes starts to decrease in our late twenties.

Your immune system is designed to attack anything foreign entering your body, whether it is a virus, bacteria, toxin or food allergen.  When it detects something foreign antibodies are produced.  The problem arises when your organs get attacked by these autoantibodies and surrounded by the cobwebs of fibrin.

Although research has shown that autoimmune disease is genetic, the genes are not activated until “turned on” by toxins, food allergies, yeast or mold infections and viruses.

A few indications that you may have an autoimmune disease include:

  • unexplained weight loss or gain

  • insomnia,

  • heat intolerance and sun sensitivity

  • muscle or joint pain, weakness or tremors, numbness or tingling in hands or feet

  • rapid heartbeat

  • unexplained hives or rashes

  • brain fog, difficulty concentrating, poor short term memory

  • constant fatigue

  • multiple miscarriages

  • abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea

If you suspect you have an autoimmune disease, unfortunately, you will probably have to stop and reverse your symptoms yourself.  Why?  Because most doctors only treat the symptoms, hardly a long-term solution.  Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars producing products to treat the symptoms, so why find the cause?  To add insult to injury, many of these medications increase the risk of cancer and severe infection. That issue is a whole other can of worms that I have talked about in a recent post.

These are my recommendations, again based on my (limited) knowledge on the subject.  I am not a doctor nor an expert, merely one who was frustrated and confused with my declining health at an early age.  This is not a get better quick process either, it will take months even years to straighten out.

Start with removing irritants from your gut because most of our immune system is in the GI tract or gut.  Problems in your gut are so much more than gas, bloating, and diarrhea.  Many chronic health conditions, like the ones listed above, start in your gut too.  Removing known inflammatory foods is the first step.  While it might be difficult to remove all of these from your diet, try to eliminate as many as possible.  They include:

  • gluten (a wheat protein): bread, bagels, pasta etc

  • sugar: brown, white, anything that ends in “ose” (sucralose, fructose etc)

  • nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, white (not sweet) potatoes, peppers, eggplant

  • processed foods that include trans fats and omega 6s

  • dairy and soy products

  • corn and other grains like rye, spelt, barley and rice

  • pseudo-grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat

  • eggs

  • alcohol

  • legumes (peas and beans)

If removing these items from your diet for a period of six months does not do the trick, find a doctor that will test your stool for hidden infections and bacteria as well as your blood for antibodies, infections, and toxins like mold and mercury.

Once you have removed these inflammatory foods,  you can try supplements of natural anti-inflammatories.  These include turmeric, devils claw, rutin, bromelain, papaya, boswellia, ginger and yucca root.  I do not take any supplements, but I do include ginger, turmeric, and pineapple (bromelain) in my daily smoothies.

It is a long and frustrating process but can be done.  I know because I went through it myself!  Many of my previous posts, especially the earliest ones, discuss my journey to health.  In fact, that is why I started this blog.  Feel free to comment, email or message me with concerns, corrections etc.

The main thing to remember is this.  Just as the genes for inflammation get activated by allergies, viruses, infections, and toxins they can also be deactivated.



Are you a risk taker?

It occurred to me this past weekend that I am a bit of a risk taker.  At least when we are talking recipes.  Oh, and anything related to gardens or flowers.

I very rarely follow written recipes completely, modifying them with favorite, gluten-free, or on-hand ingredients. For family dinners I usually try out at least one new recipe, and this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.

I made the perennially favourite pumpkin pie as well as cherry and butter tarts.  Instead of apple pie or crisp,  I tried a strawberry rhubarb crisp.  My brother had commented on Facebook a while back that he was craving strawberry rhubarb pie and no one would make one for him.  As he was hosting dinner this past Sunday I took the bait.  One of my GARDENS4U clients donated the rhubarb and I had frozen strawberries on hand.  The recipe called for fresh strawberries, so I just let mine thaw on the counter before using them. I do believe the dessert was a favourite at the table; the bit that was left in the pan was scooped up by my nephew to take home for later.


Tired of the popular vegetable dishes this time of year too, I decided to try roasted zucchini as my vegetable contribution.  It too turned out delicious; I will definitely make it again.  I simply sliced 3 yellow and 3 green zucchini lengthwise into about 6 spears each (you could slice them into coins instead) placed them on a greased cookies sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano and dried basil mixture, and baked then broiled them to perfection.  Yummy!


pictures from Pixabay and Pexels (forgot to take some of my own)


Someone asked me after I volunteered to make my daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquets if I wasn’t nervous they wouldn’t turn out.  My new daughter-in-law is wonderfully laid back.  I knew if the bouquets weren’t exactly perfect, she would not stress over it.  Otherwise, I might have been more nervous and (probably) would not have offered my services.  All five were different and definitely unique creations…


I consider cooking or baking and gardening to be artistic adventures, and I think most will agree that artists of any kind have to take some risk to be unique.  I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants (as I call it) or like to take (some) risks, but it is (almost) always worth it!



Carter approved: Mum Mums

As I spend a lot of time talking about my grandson, I thought I would post a series called “Carter approved”.  My first Carter approved product is Mum Mums, a rice-based teething biscuit that comes in various flavors…


Mum Mums are free of the most problematic allergens, (gluten, wheat, eggs, milk, soy, sesame, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and fish)a as well as verified non-GMO. Mum Mums are baked and contain minimal amounts of salt, sugar, fats and oils.  Rice has always been considered an ideal first solid food for babies as it is easily digestible, yet contains many vitamins and minerals.



We all know how teething babies want to put everything in their mouths; these biscuits are no exception. They literally melt in the mouths of babies, although their claim to be mess free is suspect…


The banana flavor of Mum Mums is Carter approved!  Buy your Mum Mums



Sweet potato slices make a great alternative to bread

Did you know that sweet potato slices make a great alternative to bread for those of you on a gluten-free diet?  Even if you are not eating gluten-free, slices of sweet potato make a much healthier and lighter alternative than bread.

Simply slice a sweet potato lengthwise as thin as you can slice it, pop the slices in the toaster. Keep the slices long enough so you do not lose them in the toaster.  Toast them until they soften and start to turn brown at the edges and voila!  You could also roast them on a BBQ rack or mat.  I brush them with olive oil and crushed garlic before BBQing them. Of course, I omit this step if using a regular toaster to prevent a fire in my toaster!

I made a hamburger last weekend:

sweet potato
sweet potato burger

As the meat part of the hamburgers were cooking on the BBQ, I made my sweet potato “bun”   I cut the meat patty in half to accommodate the shape of the potato slices. The results were delicious!

I also tried some toasted sweet potato slices topped with peanut butter and jam for breakfast recently.  I was so eager to eat my concoction, I forgot to take a picture!

I am addicted now and can’t wait to make:

  • toasted tomato sandwiches
  • pizzas
  • wraps and any other kind of sandwich
  • eggs benedict
  • egg mcmuffins


I would love to hear any other ideas; please share your suggestions!


Beavertails and poutine at Tangier Outlet Mall


Shopping with my son at Tangier Outlet Mall here in Kanata, Ontario recently, we just had to stop for a treat.  That’s me in the pink coat.

For those of you (non-Canadians) not familiar with beavertails, they are a delectable Canadian treat, in the form of a flat, donut-like concoction of pastry, available in many flavours.  Choose from cinnamon & sugar, killaloe sunrise (lemon & sugar),  chocolate hazelnut, maple butter, skor cheesecake, garlic butter & cheese, banana chocolate and more!

Unfortunately for me, there is no gluten-free version of the beavertail (yet), so I had to settle for poutine, another Canadian favourite.  The poutine here was not nearly as good as I have from other establishments, mainly because the gravy was goopy.


As we were waiting for our order, we had a good chuckle over this sign posted on the front of the food truck…


I guess people do not like to wait in the cold for their food; some have been driving right up to the truck and ordering from the warmth of their cars!

If you are going to indulge in treats like Beavertails and poutine, you have to park your vehicle and walk a bit, come on!


Sensations kettle style potato chips from Sobeys

My new favorite potato chips come grocery stores.  They are  Sensations by Compliments brand, which is equivalent to President’s Choice at Loblaws, Independent Grocer or Superstores…


These extra crispy, kettle style chips are sensational (pun intended) tasting and always reasonably priced.   I am particularly fond of the black pepper & lime, and sweet chili & sour cream flavours pictured below.  There are many other varieties to choose from too, such as jalapeno, hickory barbecue, balsamic vinegar & caramelized onion, sea salt & malt vinegar, and more…


The best part is that these Sensations kettle potato chips are gluten-free and processed in a gluten-free environment, with no artificial flavours or colours to trigger my food allergies…




Sobeys’ slogan is Better Food For All; these Sensations kettle chips are definitely better for me.  Unfortunately for many of you, Sobeys locations are limited to Canada.  For you Canadian readers, give these chips a try soon, I’m sure you will love them too.  Your biggest dilemma will be deciding which variety to try first!


Hot air popcorn makers

Popcorn is one of my favourite snacks.  Although there are many hot air popcorn makers on the market today, in all shapes and sizes…


I prefer to make my popcorn in my own invention of a hot air popcorn maker…

All you need is a brown paper bag (the medium sized ones from LCBO work great), some popping corn, a few spoonfuls of butter and a microwave.  I melt the butter first in a cup in the microwave so it is ready to add to the freshly popped corn.  Then I pour some popping corn (I never measure, but approximately 1/2 cup) into the brown paper bag.  Fold the bag closed and place it in the center of the microwave.  Cook on high for approximately 3 minutes, listening carefully.  Stop the microwave when the sound of popping slows down.  You will have a few unpopped kernels in the bag, but do not wait too long to stop it or the popcorn will burn.

My method is less expensive and you won’t have yet another kitchen appliance to store.  So, the next time you want a healthy snack, give my hot air popcorn method a try.

please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE  It is guaranteed to make you LOL.