Filling gluten-free breakfast muffins

Kitchen utensils

I have tried out various kitchen utensils, including muffin pans, loaf pans, a mixer, and a blender, among others. While these items can be useful for baking and food preparation, I found that many of them took too long to clean, making them impractical for everyday use. As a result, I ended up donating all of the utensils that I wasn’t using. The only items that I found to be useful and easy to clean are silicone baking sheets and silicone muffin cups. These utensils are made from a non-stick material that eliminates the need for oil or butter and silicone material also distributes heat evenly.

Silicone baking trays/sheets are primarily made of silicone, which is a synthetic polymer material composed of silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. However, some silicone baking trays/sheets may contain additional materials, such as fiberglass or nylon, to provide additional strength and durability.

Fiberglass is sometimes added to the silicone material to reinforce the tray/sheet and prevent it from bending or warping during use. This is especially important for larger or thicker trays/sheets, which may be more prone to deformation under high temperatures or heavy use. Nylon is another material that may be added to the silicone to provide additional durability and heat resistance. Nylon-reinforced silicone trays/sheets are often used in commercial kitchens, as they are more resistant to wear and tear and can withstand high-volume use.

When exposed to heat, silicone responds by retaining its shape and structure without melting or warping. This means that it can be used in high-temperature environments without the risk of deformation or damage. Silicone is also an excellent insulator, which means that it helps to distribute heat evenly across the surface of the tray/sheet.

The other useful utensils that I regulary use are metal bowls for mixing, a metal whisk, and silicone spatulas.

Breakfast muffins

The muffins that I came up with require two bowls for mixing, a metal whisk, a spoon, and silicone muffin cups. These muffins are gluten-free. They are made from gluten-free oats, oat flour and or sorghum flour. I also add flax seeds and chia seeds for fiber and nutrition. Sweetness comes from ripe bananas, apple sauce, and honey. I find these muffins very filling, sometimes my breakfast consists of just several muffins and a coffee with oat milk. The recipe also includes two eggs. Eggs, flax seeds, and chia seeds, do contain protein. The flour contains carbs. The eggs and butter add fat. So I would say this is a balanced breakfast. The recipe is below:

Bowl 1 – dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
1 1/2 cups oat/sorghum flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in bowl 1

Bowl 2 – wet ingredients:
2 mashed ripe bananas (start with this step first – mash the bananas in bowl 2)
1/2 cup apple sauce
5 tablespoons of melted butter/vegan butter
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespooons honey
1 cup blueberries

Mix together all of the wet ingredients with a metal whisk, starting with mashing the ripe bananas first. Make sure that everything that you mix is at room temperature. Add blueberries last.

Pour the mixture from bowl 2 into bowl 1, again, mix everything together. Let the final mixture stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. While the mixture is standing, you can turn on the oven to 350 F, so that it starts preheating.

Place silicone muffins cups on a tray. After 15 minutes pass, the dough is ready, use a spoon to pour the mixture into the silicone muffin cups. Place the tray with the muffin cups into the oven. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Product Review – Riviera Coconut Milk Kefir

I recently discovered Riviera Coconut Milk Kefir and I am so impressed with its flavor and consistency. As someone who used to enjoy traditional cow and goat milk kefir, I was disappointed when I had to switch to a dairy-free diet and could no longer enjoy my favorite drink. I tried several vegan alternatives but was disappointed with their thickness and lack of sour flavor.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found Riviera Coconut Milk Kefir. It has a creamy texture and a tangy, sour flavor that is incredibly close to traditional kefir. It’s the perfect solution for anyone looking for a dairy-free alternative that actually tastes like the real thing.

If you are searching for a dairy-free kefir that is both delicious and reminiscent of traditional kefir, I highly recommend giving Riviera Coconut Milk Kefir a try. It’s a great alternative that has satisfied my cravings for the tangy flavor I love.

They have a plain flavor with no added sugar, that’s the one that I always get. It is made mostly from fermented coconut milk, which makes it high in fat, but the fat does make it creamy. While coconut milk does not contain much protein compared to dairy, there is added fava bean and pea protein. However, I am not sure how that compares to the protein found in dairy kefir in terms of nutrition. Unfortunately I have an autoimmune reaction when I consume any milk proteins, that’s why I have to go with the dairy-free option. There is also calcium added, which is useful for those who are on a dairy-free diet and don’t get calcium from dairy products.

Eggshells – a cheap non-dairy source of calcium

If you are going to adhere to a dairy free diet, you are going to need to find another source of calcium. Humans require calcium for muscle contraction, blood clotting, normal heart rhythm, as well as nerve functions. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium is around 1000mg per day. The RDA is elevated to 1,300 milligrams per day during adolescence because this is the life stage with accelerated bone growth.

For women above age fifty and men older than seventy-one, the RDAs are also a bit higher for several reasons including that as we age, calcium absorption in the gut decreases, vitamin D3 activation is reduced, and maintaining adequate blood levels of calcium is important to prevent an acceleration of bone tissue loss (especially during menopause). Results of some large trials found that higher calcium intakes (usually achieved with a supplement) was associated with improved bone density and slightly lower risk of hip fractures.

Now in regards to eggshells – most people probably don’t eat them, but eggshells are an excellent source of calcium. Eggshells are also a natural source of other elements such as strontium and fluorine. Approximately half an eggshell from a 42g egg would provide 750 mg of calcium, which is 75% of the daily recommended value of 1000mg. Clinical and experimental studies showed that eggshell powder has positive effects on bone and cartilage and that it is suitable in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

How can you eat an eggshell though?

My process is simple – I often eat boiled eggs for breakfast in the morning. Once I peel the egg, I am left with an eggshell that has already been sanitized by boiling (it’s important to sanitize the eggshells due to the possibility of the Salmonella bacteria being on the shell). I then bake the eggshells at a low temperature of 225F in order to dry them. After they cool down, I simply grind the shells into fine powder using a coffee grinder. The powder can be consumed with a spoon, added to smoothies, oatmeal, dough, etc.

My previous mistake when going on a dairy-free diet: too many food restrictions and not enough calcium

I want to describe my mistakes with my previous attempt at going dairy-free. A bit of background – I started experiencing severe abdominal cramps in my 20s, then also I started to have panic attacks, fatigue, and swollen eyelids. I had problems waking up in the morning. I ended up being referred to a psychiatrist, but the medications did not help. Finally an endocrinologist checked my antibodies and found that I had very high levels of thyroid antibodies, so my immune system was attacking and damaging my thyroid. I was put on thyroid medication. I also was referred to a neurologist who then diagnosed me with autoimmune encephalitis (brain inflammation), and I was treated with intravenous steroids (for immunosuppression). At the same time I started reading online a lot about autoimmune diseases and I came across articles about the AIP diet. I was feeling to unwell, so I decided that I had to change my lifestyle, and I started following the AIP diet strictly – no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no grains, no legumes, no nuts, no chocolate, no alcohol. There were a lot of restrictions! You can google this diet, if you are curious.

After the corticosteroid treatment and the diet change, I did start feeling better, I l also lost 20kg, but I still experienced a lot of symptoms such as irritability, leg spasms, feeling of numbness in my fingers, and insomnia. I ended up deciding that there was no scientific evidence for my dietary restrictions, and at some point I went back to eating dairy and gluten, as well as the rest of the foods. I ended up gaining 30kg, and starting to again experiencing paranoia, panic attacks, nightmares, and fatigue.

I recently decided to look into my diet again and instead of going into the extremes – such as the very strict AIP diet, I started with excluding dairy. I also realized that when I was dairy-free the first time, I did not consume any foods with calcium, and that could have been the cause of my muscle cramps and numbness in my hands. This time I looked into non-dairy sources of calcium and calculated how much of those foods I would need to be eating. I have now been dairy free since February, I also went gluten-free and soy-free, as I noticed through multiple observations, that those foods were also causing symptoms for me. I now no longer have any pains in the lower abdomen, I have more energy and was able to attend yoga classes. I have no symptoms of low calcium this time, as I eat canned sardines, canned salmon with bones, and powdered egg shells. I am feeling much better, and I have lost around 22 pounds since February.

Obtaining calcium on a dairy-free diet

I have been on a dairy-free diet since February and for me personally it has been helping with the brain fog issue, scalp eczema, and experiences of fear/panic attacks/existential anxiety. I have tried all sorts of dairy – fermented, non-fermented, lactose-free, goat milk, sheep milk, kefir, yogurt. In the end, I found that I feel better on the days when I do not consume dairy and that the negative effects of it make it not worth it for me to continue consuming it. Some dairy has significant levels of the vitamin B12 and iodine, but those nutrients are not difficult to find elsewhere. Chicken liver, eggs, and salmon contain enough vitamin B12. Eggs also contain iodine and I use iodized salt when cooking. The main element I was concerned about when I stopped eating dairy was calcium. I tried taking calcium supplements for a while but I experienced quite negative side-effects such as frequent urination, constipation, and abdominal bloating. I decided to therefore look for natural sources of calcium that are dairy-free.

It’s possible to obtain enough calcium from fortified plant milks, and that might be the easiest option, if that works for you. I’m not sure though that it would be any different from just taking a calcium supplement, because plant milks are fortified with the same calcium carbonate. I am also not a fan of fortified plant milks as there is some evidence that consuming a lot of extra vitamin B12 and folate, which are added to plant milks in high amounts, can increase the risk of some cancers.

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 Supplementation and the Risk of Cancer: Long-term Follow-up of the B Vitamins for the Prevention of Osteoporotic Fractures (B-PROOF) Trial

Also I found that fortified plant milks increased my anxiety and occurrence of nightmares, I found the same effects when I was taking a B12 supplement on its own. I consume enough B12 through eggs, meat, and fish, and enough folate through legumes and fruits, therefore my assumption is that the extra vitamins from fortified plant milks had negative effects for me. If you have no problem with vegan substitute products, then you can easily obtain enough calcium without diary by eating fortified vegan plant milks, vegan yogurts, vegan cheese. Tofu also usually has calcium sulfate added to it. Unfortunately I experienced worsening of scalp eczema when eating soy frequently, but if soy is not a problem for you, fortified soy milk and tofu are good sources of calcium.

Since I am currently not consuming a lot of soy products and not consuming plant milks, I had to find other sources of calcium. After looking through nutritional info for various foods, I found that the best way to get enough calcium is to consume bones. Most of the calcium is stored in bones, and only small amounts are found in blood and tissues.
The easiest way to consume bones is by eating canned salmon and canned sardines. You can check the nutrition info on the cans, the salmon needs to be “with skin and bones”, not just the file. The can of salmon that I bought contains in total 363mg of calcium, which is about 30% of daily value (DV). A can of sardines can contain up to 40% of DV of calcium. You can eat the fish right out of the can or add to soup. Another source of calcium is chia seeds, two table spoons contain around 18% of DV. You can add chia seeds to oatmeal in the morning. Another way to eat some bones is by cooking bone broth. There is no evidence that calcium leaks into the actual broth, the amount is very minimal, so you would have to eat the softened bones themselves. I usually cook a broth with chicken or turkey bones for at least an hour, then they are soft enough to actually eat.

Best natural sources of calcium: canned sardines, canned salmon, chicken/turkey bones from bone broth, chia seeds

Why do humans need calcium?

Calcium is required for multiple processes in the human body. 99% of the calcium is stored in bones and only 1% is found in blood and tissues. When there is not enough calcium in the blood, the parathyroid hormone will signal the bones to release calcium. Therefore it’s important to consume enough calcium so that it doesn’t have to keep being released from bones, as you don’t want to weaken your bones. For women especially, it is important to receive enough calcium from diet. In all humans after the age of 30, bone destruction usually exceeds bone products. Women can experience greater bone loss after menopause as the levels of hormones that play a role in building bones become permanently lower.

Calcium is needed for nerves to carry signals between brain and other body parts, it’s also needed for muscles to move. Calcium is required for muscle contraction, blood clotting, regulating heart rate, and cell fluid balance. Not having enough calcium can lead to painful muscle spasms, twitching of muscles, numbness or tingling in feet, hands, and mouth. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, itchy skin, and tiredness.