My name is Ayla, and I am "Gourmet Girl Cooks"! I am a busy wife and very proud mother of three, as well as a "Mommy" to a cute little Bichon Frise named Spike (oh, and a Sun Conure named Squawkie whose name says it all)! I am a blogger, recipe developer, free-lance writer and photographer...all of which is done in my spare time because I also have a full time job that pays the bills (wow, just listing all of that together makes me tired)! I am a wheat-free, grain-free (and by virtue gluten-free) and "no added sugar" self-trained cook...translated into "if I can make it, anyone can"! I have always had a passion for cooking and almost never follow recipes without numerous modifications (sort of a my way or the highway I suppose). My favorite cooking is actually freestyle without any recipe at all! Many of my recipes are suitable for Paleo, Primal, gluten-free and other low-carbohydrate plans. I am the brains (or lack of them) behind Gourmet Girl Cooks. I do all of the recipe creation, photography, blog and website management myself. Every word you read on my blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest sites are mine...there is no middle man in this process (that is, unless you count my husband who does the dishes and cleans up after all my creations...bless his heart)! ;-)
My food blog actually began as a hobby and has evolved into so much more. It also serves as a "daily pictorial food diary" with photos and recipes of my wheat-free eating journey. I regularly post most of my meals and recipes in order to help show others how well you can eat without wheat or grains. I decided early on in this journey not to focus on the foods I couldn't eat and instead embrace those that I could, and make the most of them. I was determined that I would never become bored with my meals or feel deprived, because in the end it would not be sustainable for me. I rediscovered real, whole, fresh foods again. While I know that the primary purpose of food is for sustenance, the reality is that in our culture and many others, it represents so much more. It is intertwined into our traditions and celebrations and I don't see that changing any time soon, if ever. Honestly, I don't really ever want to see that change. Instead, I strive to find the balance between creating and eating delicious foods that not only satisfy my nutritional and health needs, but those of my soul as well, and I believe I have done just that.
I hope you enjoy browsing and perusing my recipes and ideas and that my blog might help make your wheat and grain free journey just a little bit easier or simply give you a few new ideas. My blog is a labor of love for me...it is not how I make my living. I am always available and willing to help any way I can and can be reached via my blog, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. I don't give out professional or medical advice (that's what your doctor is for)...but when asked, I am more than willing to share my wisdom, advice and some of the tips I have learned along the way to try and help make it easier for you...the same way I would with a friend. I am always open to suggestions, too. Enjoy!
How My Journey Began
In July of 2012, I read the book, Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. I actually started reading it the week before our summer vacation and was so moved by what I read, that I began the program almost immediately (3 days before we left for our vacation). To my husband's dismay, I even read the book out loud as he drove us since I had him as my captive audience. Fortunately, we had rented a house with a full kitchen, so I was able to easily stick with the program during our vacation. I have maintained my wheat and grain free lifestyle (with no added sugar) since July 10th of 2012 without any cheats or accidental wheat exposures.
The physical changes and weight loss happened very quickly for me. I was extremely skeptical when I initially started the program. However, with my recent sky high triglyceride lab results, I knew I had to do something drastic. It was obvious that the recommended low fat, complex "healthy" whole grains and exercise advice weren't enough for me any more. I would simply lose weight and then gain it right back and my blood work never seemed to improve very much. I had reached the point where I felt I didn't really have anything to lose...so I decided to give Wheat Belly a try. Initially, it seemed a bit daunting and overwhelming at all the changes and foods I would no longer be able to eat. So many of the foods we eat are tainted with wheat, added starches and sugars...who knew. I have always loved to cook and when I initially started this food blog as a hobby only months beforehand (to share my love of cooking with others) I now feared that nobody would be interested in my new wheat and grain-free cooking lifestyle or food blog any more...boy was I wrong!
During my wheat and grain free journey, I have lost over 65 pounds (68 at last count)..."said with both pride and embarrassment at the same time"....and the most amazing part of this is that I dropped 55 of those 68 pounds in the first 6 months with absolutely no exercise whatsoever...simply by eliminating wheat, grains and added sugars from my diet and increasing my fat intake. This was completely contrary and went against everything I had ever read or thought I knew or had been advised by doctors and health professionals. It was...well, a bit crazy!!! The most fascinating part about this process is that in addition to my plummeting weight was my rapidly plummeting triglyceride levels. My triglycerides went from 546 to 115, the lowest I ever remember them being! I was so thoroughly amazed by this transformation that I decided to write to Dr. Davis on his Wheat Belly Blog only 7 weeks into my Wheat Belly journey both to inform and thank him.
Below is a copy of what I wrote to him via his blog on August 31, 2012, only 7 weeks into my Wheat Belly journey and it includes his response to me:
The Reluctant Wheat Belly
Posted on August 31, 2012 by Dr. Davis
Blogger Gourmet Girl Cooks posted this tale of her reluctant adventure down Wheat Free Lane:
I am now 7 weeks without wheat or grains. I initially started WB to address my sky-high triglycerides and small LDL, hoping that this might be the answer for me and to keep my doctor from adding yet another medication to my routine.
After many years of losing weight, exercising, and replacing whole grains for the “white stuff,” per my doctors orders, to address my triglycerides (and it failing), I finally decided to give your program a try. I have been a regular reader of your Track Your Plaque Blog for years (way before WB) where you also talked about abstaining from all wheat to address high triglycerides. I will be honest with you: I started WB hoping that it would work . . . but fully expecting it not to. I assumed this was just another fad eating program of some sort.
I finally decided that I needed to know if it could be my answer once and for all, so I dove in 110%. I intentionally did NOT exercise. I wanted to put it to the test and see if the results of just abstaining from wheat/grains would do anything for me. It just turns out that I had a physical before starting the program and my bloodwork came back bad . . . again — bad enough that my doctor had me return in 3 weeks to recheck my BP and some of my bloodwork.
Here is the surprise: After 3 weeks, my triglycerides were cut almost in half; I had lost 16 pounds–yes 16 pounds. I gave my doctor your food plan that I printed out from your website (the Quick and Dirty). She said it must be working for you. Continue and come back and we will run your bloodwork again in 8 weeks. At 4 weeks on WB, I am down 21 pounds–who knew it could be so easy??? That would have taken me months to do at any other time in my life. This is the first time I will be looking forward to my blood test results (early October).
I started this plan intending to prove you wrong. I am 7 weeks into this plan wondering where you have been all my life!!! I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I have never been so glad in my entire life to have been proven wrong. I will keep you posted on my progress (I have not weighed since the 4-week mark, but I am shrinking before my own eyes. It is astonishing to say the least). Thank you, thank you….thank you!
Isn’t that great?
Look through Gourmet Girl’s blog over time and you can see her shift in thinking about food. While her older posts (still beautifully photographed!) included plenty of wheat flour and pasta, her more recent recipes reflect her new wheat-free enlightenment. Take a look at her latest Eggplant Ricotta Bake. It looks like Gourmet Girl is another great resource for us wheatless folk looking for more clever recipes!
For those of you interested in understanding high triglycerides:
The issue of high triglycerides suggests that people like Gourmet Girl have a gene (or genes) that allow incredibly efficient conversion of carbohydrate calories to storage forms of energy–a survival advantage in a wild setting with intermittent and uncertain food supply.
Carbohydrates are converted to triglyceride-containing lipoproteins (such as VLDL) that provide the appearance of high blood triglyceride levels. It means high-efficiency de novo lipogenesis by the liver, the conversion of carbohydrates to triglyceride-containing lipoproteins. In a wild setting in which you may not eat for days or weeks, Gourmet Girl has a wonderful survival advantage. But in a modern setting in which foods flow many times a day, the product of liver de novo lipogenesis–triglycerides–accumulates to high levels. (Made worse, incidentally, by knuckleheaded advice like “Eat many small meals every 2 hours.” Wrong! This CAUSES heart disease and diabetes.)
The answer to reducing high triglycerides is not to cut the “white” foods and certainly not to cut fats, but to minimize exposure to carbohydrates, thus limiting the process of de novo lipogenesis.
The worst carbohydrate of all? The amylopectin A of wheat.
Anyway, welcome to the happy, healthy, and slender ranks of the Wheatless, Gourmet!
After more than 1-1/2 years of blogging without allowing any ads on my blog, in order to receive some small revenue to help keep my blog going, I have recently allowed some ads to be placed on the right side-bar of my site and at the bottom of some of my posts (by Adsense and others). I have also added some of my favorite products to my Amazon aStore. My blog is not the source of how I make my living so I am not pressured, persuaded or obligated to mention any products simply for the purpose of making money. If I mention or suggest a product or link to any products, it is because I personally use them and/or recommend them and would also do so if you were my family or friend. I believe you should purchase all products you use wherever you can get the best quality, price and value for them. I always state my own opinions when I recommend a product...my opinions are not for sale nor influenced by others.