Discoveries Amidst the Clutter of Moving: Gluten-Free Wisdom and Lima Bean Flatbread

Moving twice within a month during Atlanta’s hottest summer on record has had its fair share of frustrations, headaches and inevitable episodes of delicate things slipping from my grasp, all the while trying not to pass out in the 100 degree+ weather. Yes, this could technically be the worst time ever throughout the span of Atlanta’s meterologically-recorded history to be exerting oneself outside for extended periods of time.

Despite the sweat, dehydration and broken lamps and dishes, this “transition” period has not been without some very sweet, gluten-free fruits.

The first find came about while lightly browsing a recent Men’s Journal that had surfaced in my never-ending pile of things to move/recycle/pray-to-disappear. And by that I mean no disrespect by any means to Men’s Journal. It is far superior to the other fitness, nutrition and sex bi-monthlies promising every red-blooded male biceps as thick as tree trunks and mind-blowing sex all the time, all the while maintaining or even increasing his steady consumption of beer and hamburgers (‘5 minutes a day to perfect abs!’ ‘7 things you’re not doing that will GUARANTEE you get her in your bed tonight!’ ‘the 8 things that are making you fat, and your favorite I.P.A. isn’t one of them!’). Really. Men’s Journal presents well-written pieces on varying subjects that are sure to intrigue both men and even some women seeking travel, nutrition, and fitness guidance. The reason I am resigned to ‘lightly browsing’ when I flip open Men’s Journal is that I’m not in a place in my life to spend $600 on a camelback for a month-long kayak trip through Norway’s fjords followed by a sojourn in Spain to recuperate and nurse myself back to real life with organic wine and fine cheese.

Despite the fantastic reality of most of the reads and uber-sweet outdoorsy products offered, a recent article did catch my attention. “Frank Lipman: Alternative Medicine Man” in the August 2012 issue is a concise and matter-of-fact short read highlighting Dr. Lipman’s emphasis on holistic approaches, alternative medicines and preventative lifestyle changes in light of the autoimmune, obesity, heart disease and cancer epidemics at large. “Gluten and sugar are the devil,” Dr. Lipman bluntly states. Yes, he has my full attention. Many of the recent discoveries within my focus on the complicated interconnected relationships between diet, environment and autoimmune disease are reflected and/or highlighted by Dr. Lipman’s assertion that our lifestyle choices restrict most of us to living at “half capacity.” That is living only somewhat-fulfilling lives, constantly hampered down by aches and diseases.

I know more readers than not will be skeptics. They will justifiably refute Dr. Lipman’s holistic approach with the large body of evidence that upholds both gluten’s status as a neutral agent as well as the unbelievable success rate of modern medicine within the past decade to treat cancers and quiet down autoimmune diseases. Take a minute to consider what he is really saying though. Do you down several Advil every day to mask your back pain or have you attempted to introduce a regimen of alignment-focused yoga in your life to treat its possible underlying cause? Do you tolerate the side effects of cholesterol-reducing or blood pressure-lowering drugs just so you can have your cake and eat it too, literally? Has it become easier to ignore the plethora of scientifically backed evidence and advice, akin to that of Dr. Lipman’s, that demonstrate clear benefits of lifestyle changes at the physiological level, all because our methods of treating disease, only once it has manifested itself, have become so successful?

For both skeptics and supporters, read this article. Take this as a start. One thing I say with full confidence is that the majority of us are NOT living at 100% capacity. Headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort, joint pain, depression, allergies. They bear down on us, and the gravity of these maladies that we simply accept as inevitable reaches absurd magnitudes. The don’t-worry now, deal-with-it-when-it-strikes mentality, pervasive in our modern healthcare system, can literally create an alternate reality in which ‘healthy’ becomes an adjective to describe the physical condition of anyone that is not confined to a hospital bed. To drive this point home, I can offer a personal anecdote of my own experience with integrative and preventative medicine. Throughout my experience with Crohn’s Disease, I have never, NOT ONCE, had a gastrointestinal doctor tell me that diet influences the course of the disease. Never. The wonder drugs that I have taken have definitely been nothing short of, well, wonder drugs. Yet, biological medicines, while extraordinarily successful in controlling overactivity of the immune system in autoimmune diseases, are accompanied by a dreadful black hole of adverse side effects and health risks. Despite my persistent inquiries into alternative therapies, to the irksome annoyance of my caregivers, I have been assured by every one of them time and again that the biological infusion treatment (known as Remicade) is the only solution to maintaining remission for me. Since making the decision to paddle against the current, aka consulting a nutritionist to explore alternative and preventative dietary changes, I have had dramatic improvements in many aspects of my everyday life. Gluten-free has become the conduit to living every day closer to 100% capacity for me. Moral of the story? You will never know what capacity at which you are sailing through life until you challenge your own assumptions, think critically about your own choices and try something new.

‘Nuff about that.

A second discovery during my move, which I promise to be more exciting to my hungry readers than the first, was the box of lima bean flour that I had relinquished to the back of the pantry in an effort to start moving and packing. I finally got to the Zocalo Gourmet Judia de lima that I had eagerly set my eyes and hunger upon two months ago. Simple, easy, and deliciously multidimensional flavor. With the few things remaining in my refrigerator the nights before moving out, I was able to make an exquisite dinner with this stuff. Check out Zocalo’s blog for nine incredible and versatile recipes using lima bean flour. I made the flatbread (though I was forced in my unorganized and displaced state to use red chile powder instead of pimenton) trying each piece with different combinations of the goat cheese, arugula, honey, tomatoes, and various bits of other things that were the last survivors in my kitchen. Definitely try this out, my fellow gluten-freers.

I’ve never had anything quite like it, and it packs a surprising amount of unique flavor that holds definite potential for many new concoctions in my kitchen. Well, potential once I’m finally settled in that new kitchen.

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