Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A New Career and a Diagnosis

It has been cold in the Bay Area!

I disappeared once again, I needed to regroup, so much has changed since my last post, I am still processing it, but as of April I am no longer baking professionally.  It has been a long and sad process to give up the pastry chef profession, but it was no longer sustainable for me to work in professional kitchens, physically and financially, so it was time to move on.  I have loved the incredible creativity, the many challenges, the ups and downs, the many people I met, especially the wonderful Mayan and Guatemalan cooks I have worked with, they have brightened many long and tiring days.  Besides the hundred wonderful recipes I have tried, and the skills I have mastered, the best thing of all was meeting my mentor and pastry chef extraordinaire Darren, whom I can't thank enough for the incredible work ethics he instilled in me.   Cooking and baking will always be part of my life, and I look forward to baking a lot of cookies for the Holidays.

These flowers are stunning even frozen

So now what?  About two years ago I started thinking of an alternative career, and becoming a Master Gardener in May 2012 pushed me past my indecision and fears and I decided that plants, soil, sustainable gardens, edibles, and getting my hands dirty were in my professional future.  After taking few classes in sustainable landscaping I launched my new career, I now work as a sustainable landscape designer, I have a handful of steady clients, one beautiful yard installation, an ever increasing collection of books, and still lots of learning to do.  I am now in the process of finishing my web site, so stay tuned...

As I close one door and open another, I have been trying to figure out which direction to take this blog, I want it to be about food, but sugar has become my enemy so baking is much harder.  In the hope to help other people with similar issues I feel the need to talk about some health issues which have taken six years to figure out (talk about failure of the western medicine to find a diagnosis!).  

I have been struggling with joint and back pain for the past 6 years, I was told to take anti-inflammatory drugs to control the arthritis.  Considering my age I felt that I was doomed to not being able to get out of bed by the time I turned 60, and I refused to think that that was my future.  Gluten made it worse so I gave up gluten three years ago, but that didn't completely solve all my symptoms, I still couldn't get off the couch without feeling frozen in my joints.  Many tests ruled out an array of autoimmune diseases but I knew deep inside that my GI and joint symptoms were correlated, and I suspected that certain foods were causing the joint inflammation, my primary doctor was clueless.  

At last, and paying out my own pocket, a stint with a nutritionist, and my incredible chiropractor helped me to finally get a diagnosis.  It turned out I have SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, probably the result of the damage that gluten caused in my body.   SIBO causes inflammation, my body was/is trying to fight it, and genetically I am sensitive to inflammatory responses (my maternal grandmother had horrible joint pain all her life too).  Carbohydrates are my enemy, avoiding all carbs for 3 months made me lose weight, feel finally normal, and to my complete surprise, I am now pain free!  After feeling able to finally move without pain I realized how much the constant joint pain was controlling my life and my mood, so I am mentioning it here in the hope of helping others who deal with multiple symptoms that don't seem related.

Stay tuned for an amazing sorbet recipe!
I am now trying to figure out how to heal my body, medicines for SIBO are not covered by my health insurance (!), and although eating a no carb diet is not feasible, reducing my sugar intake is now my life style.  So now you understand how baking is no longer a simple pleasure for me, I can't bake the cake and eat it too, right?   Even if the cake is gluten free.  Turning this blog into a gluten free/paleo blog is not something I want to do either, so stay tuned while I figure it out.  I still want to bake for my family, my kids have been begging for a while, I need to get my hands dusted in flour again.

There are many amazing bloggers that made the switch to gluten free baking and few that went grain free, here are just a few.

Cannelle et Vanille
La Tartine Gourmande
The Art of Gluten Free Baking
and the most comprehensive of all...Gluten Free Girl 
And a grain free/paleo site Deliciously Organic



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Welcome back! It was great to read you again...

Congratulations on your new career!

I'm sorry to hear about your health problems...



Suzanne said...

Just decided to take a look because of the beautiful cookies that you posted on FB. So, so glad that you have figured out the source of your pain and I look forward to talking more about it with you. Happy Holidays to you and the whole family. xo, Suzanne


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