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I’ll start with SUGAR. For the past month, I have cut out refined sugar from my diet.

I’ll admit up front, it wasn’t for health reasons; it was for vanity. Adult acne, to be specific. In my 20s, I thought, “For sure by the time I’m 30, I’ll stop breaking out like a teenager.” Then I found myself at 36 thinking, “For sure by the time I’m 40, I’ll stop breaking out like a teenager.” It is not fun to be battling wrinkles and acne at the same time.

I always suspected that my skin problems were related to my diet, but I honestly didn’t think my diet was that bad. Yes, I have a voracious sweet tooth, but I don’t eat that badly. It’s not like I’m overweight or anything. But I’ve tried so many other things (facial washes, vitamins, supplements, etc.) that I thought perhaps it was time to take a closer look at how what I’m eating might affect my skin.

I made three changes: cut out refined sugar, cut out refined wheat and eat more salmon. I decided that I could still have honey and maple syrup, as they are minimally processed sweeteners (and seriously, how could I keep bees and not eat honey?) But white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, coconut palm sugar, agave, white flour, and anything else highly processed had to go.

I added salmon because I don’t eat a lot of fish, and canned salmon is relatively inexpensive and easy to eat for lunch.

It worked. I noticed a difference after three weeks. It’s been nearly six weeks now, and I haven’t had a single blemish.

The funny part is, when you cut out refined sugar and refined wheat, you’re not left eating a whole lot of processed foods. I’ve always wanted to move to a more “whole foods/real foods” based diet, but it seemed nearly impossible. But just by avoiding these two items, I’ve had no choice but to eat real food.

Which brings me to BREAD. I bought a bread machine from Value Village about a year ago, tried it two or three times, and gave up. The bread wouldn’t rise, or it would rise too much and collapse. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this recipe that I finally had success using the bread machine. The title “Throw Away the Bread Machine Instructions” is what caught my eye, and it is totally foolproof. Since using this recipe, I’ve never had a failed loaf of bread.

I started making my own bread so that I could control the ingredients. I was really tired of buying a loaf of bread, and scanning the ingredient list and seeing over twenty different additives, when I knew that it only takes five ingredients to make a loaf of bread.

The problem I’ve now run into is gluten. This fabulous recipe mentioned above uses white flour, which is jam packed full of lovely gluten. But I want to cut out refined wheat, and eat more whole foods, which means I’d like to make whole wheat bread. Whole wheat flour has gluten, but it also has the WHOLE wheat berry, not just the endosperm like white flour, so it’s trickier to bake with because it is more dense and has more difficulty rising.

So I bought gluten.

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I’m currently fiddling with the recipe. Last week, I tried all whole wheat flour and three tablespoons of gluten. Very dense loaf. Not awful, but not as good as I hoped it would be. Today, I’m trying two cups of whole wheat flour and one cup of white, plus two tablespoons of gluten. Also, substituting honey for the two tablespoons of white sugar. Fingers crossed this works out!

After years of avoiding it, I’ve decided that this will be the winter that I learn to cook. Properly. Now that I have a child to feed, I can’t very well rely on peanut butter toast and an apple for supper (and by peanut butter toast and an apple, I mean popcorn and cookies).

Have a great week!

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