Answers to the Most Common Questions about My Healthier Holidays Book

Many people want to know more specifics about my new holiday E-book, such as what type of flour and sweeteners I use in my recipes. Rather than answer people individually, I decided to put the most common questions I have been receiving and my answers in this Q&A interview in case you were wondering about these questions, too.

Q. How is your book different from other cookbooks?

A. In many ways. The tips and recipes in my book are as quick, easy and “low-fuss” as possible. I wanted to show that food that tastes good can be quite simple to make.

My book also combines all of the tricks I have learned in working with clients with many different conditions – gluten sensitivity, sugar sensitivity, insulin resistance, multiple food allergies and more – and combines all these strategies together.

I wrote the book primarily for the many people who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease but are packing on the pounds on their current gluten-free diet and need to either control their weight or lose weight. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has written a book with tips and recipes to address this common problem.

But the beauty of this book is I wrote it in a way that helps people who follow a wide range of therapeutic diets: wheat-free diets, gluten-free diets, grain-free diets (including the Specific Carbohydrate Diet), Stone-Age or Paleolithic diets, low-carb diets, low-glycemic diets, and most food-allergen-free diets. Besides being wheat-free and gluten-free, the tips also are free of dairy, soy, corn, peanut, and refined white sugar.

I have worked with many people with many different conditions and found over time the foods, products and recipes that work best for the most people. This book is a compilation of tips from that experience.

Q. How could one book help people on so many different diets?

A. It’s pretty simple, really, but something most people don’t yet understand: The most therapeutic diets all go against the grain to one extent or another. That’s not a coincidence. The original hunter-gatherer diet – the diet our ancestors evolved on – went against the grain. Going back to that basic tenet is why the tips in my book work so well for improving the holidays of so many people.

Q. What type of flour do you use in recipes for baked goods in your book?

A. Nut flour – primarily coconut flour and/or almond flour or sometimes hazelnut flour. All are low carb, low glycemic, and very rich in fiber. Baked goods made with them, in turn, are much better for promoting steadier blood-sugar levels, longer-lasting energy and more even moods.

From working with my Tucson Going Against the Grain Group members for six and a half years, I found that they simply didn’t feel well eating many gluten-free baked goods made with rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, or with rice and bean flours. One by one they told me how much better they felt eating baked goods made with almond flour, coconut flour or a combination of the two. I developed recipes based on that feedback.

Q. What types of sweeteners do you use in recipes in your book?

A. I use the most minimal amount of sweetening possible. Many times it is just fruit, dried fruit, a sweet spice such as cinnamon, and/or a few drops of a gluten-free, alcohol-free vanilla flavor. I also developed many recipes with small amounts of mesquite meal, a nutrient-rich, high-fiber flour made from ground-up pods of a desert plant. Mesquite meal was a historically used food in the American Southwest that was thought to protect Southwestern Native Americans from type 2 diabetes.

In a few select recipes, I use minimal amounts of natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, date sugar, or apple juice concentrate.

Q. Aren’t sweetened foods counter to what you advise in some of your books such as Syndrome X and User’s Guide to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes Naturally?

A. The first thing to understand is I developed recipes for people who have avoided concentrated sweeteners for so long that their carbohydrate metabolism has improved and their taste for sweetness has lessened dramatically. This is noticeably different from most gluten-free cookbooks, which are developed for taste buds that are accustomed to overly sweet desserts and baked goods. The evidence is overwhelming that eating many concentrated sweeteners makes us sick and fat (and very likely diabetic or prediabetic), so we all have to wean ourselves away from eating many sweetened foods.

That said, I found that if I didn’t give people options of healthy desserts to make, they tended to make (or buy) unhealthy ones for special occasions, such as during a holiday celebration. Eating those refined gluten-free desserts threw them off their therapeutic diet and often ended up causing their health to tailspin during the holiday season. So, I developed a book that offered ideas for people to have their cake (or their stuffing) and eat it, too, so they can stay much healthier during the festive holiday season when grain- and sugar-based foods abound. My book goes against the grain of other books because it offers gluten-free recipes made without refined white sugar and with reduced amounts of natural sweeteners – something that has been sorely needed in the gluten-free community.

Unlike some books designed to lessen blood sugar and insulin responses, my book does not use artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, aspartame or sucralose. I do not believe that you can promote health with artificially produced sweeteners that the human body has no experience metabolizing.

Even with natural sweeteners, the sweeteners that are best tolerated vary according to the person, so I use a variety of natural sweeteners in tips and recipes and have a complete explanation about them in the back of the book.

Q. What are the most helpful recipes in the book, and do you have a favorite?

A. That’s tough. Probably my absolute favorite recipe is for Apple-Carrot-Raisin Muffins, a fiber-rich muffin that tastes great, makes you feel full, and gives you long-lasting energy. As the name implies, it has grated apple, shredded carrot and raisins in it and just a little bit of that special ingredient I mentioned before, mesquite meal.

The Pumpkin Muffins and Sweet Potato Muffins taste like rolls with a tinge of pumpkin or sweet potato flavor. Many people like them as a lower-carb roll substitute with their holiday meal.

The Chestnut Stuffing tastes decadent to me and goes over big at holiday get-togethers. It’s amazing how the combination of vegetables and nuts melds together into such a rich and tasty stuffing. No one will know or care that there is no grain in it. I actually have three different stuffing recipes in the book and all are grain-free.

The Pecan-Pear Autumn Sundaes are full of flavor and very helpful because they can be personalized according to individual tolerances and preferences. I served this dessert to guests who don’t eat in any special way and they raved about the sundaes being a gourmet dessert.

I love the Homemade Strawberry Dressing to top salads with. And the Plum-Good Chocolate Dried Fruit Balls are tasty, attractive, and unique. I packed a lot of versatile and original recipes that you won’t find anywhere else into a small, easy-to-read book.

Q. Is this book only helpful during the holidays?

A. Not at all. It serves as a guide for the holiday season, but it’s helpful for offering food ideas you can use anytime of year, most especially during the colder months of the year – autumn, winter and early spring. It also offers tips you can use for parties, traveling and when you’re feeling under the weather anytime of year – basically, covering all those areas of life where people tend to run into challenges when eating gluten-free.

Q. Did you say I could get this E-book for free?

A. That’s right. If you purchase any Coaching Program, you get the E-book absolutely free. So, if you’ve been thinking of getting nutrition coaching from me in the new year, it’s a good idea to do that now so you can get a free copy of my holiday book, too.

I promise you that my Healthier Holidays Going Against the Grain E-book offers gluten-free, less-sweet tips and recipes you won’t find anywhere else. Order your copy now and you can begin reading it in just a few minutes.

© Copyright 2008 Melissa Diane Smith

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