Blimey, times have really changed in the seven years or so since I have started following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Back then, even being coeliac was considered a bit niche, so when I described the regime I was following to people they’d often just look at me, agog, at all the things I avoid eating (rightly so, quite frankly).
These days, though, ‘free from’ goodies are positively mainstream and I only have to say the words ‘restricted diet’ to a waiter for them to send the chef over to talk through exactly what I can and can’t eat and . So really it’s never been a better time to be in the special needs food camp in terms of tolerance and understanding from the wider world. But I still don’t know anyone else at all following the SCD, which is partly why I wrote this piece for the Telegraph last week about it:
So if you are reading this and also following the SCD I would really love to hear from you about your experiences on the diet. If you are a new subscriber: welcome! And I would love to hear from you too. Are you following the SCD? Or are you cutting down on certain foods for another reason? Or maybe you are doing something else altogether, but I’d love to know more about your experiences with cooking and eating, so please do get in touch.
I also thought this would be a good moment to tell you about a really important part of the SCD, and that is homemade yoghurt, which I wrote about recently on my guest blog at woman&home
When most of the significant carbohydrates were taken away from my life, I faced many challenges, but by far the biggest was breakfast! Seriously, have you ever tried eating breakfast without carbs?
For ages, my rather unsustainable solution was just to avoid breakfast altogether. Then, at the weekends when I had more time, I remembered the joy of omelettes; the best protein fix ever. And, perhaps most joyously of all, I learned how to make gorgeously puffy pancakes using almond flour, served with warm cinnamon honey instead of maple syrup.
And because – honestly – I couldn’t be fagged, I just ignored the fact that a big part of the SCD is homemade yoghurt. If you make this correctly (according to the SCD recipe) over 24 hours, the yoghurt has a concentration of 3 billion cfu/ml. So just 250 ml of yoghurt contains more than 700 billion beneficial bacteria. To put that into context, that’s about 50 times more than that a typical 15 billion capsule. So eating this yoghurt every day really helps to correct the balance of bacteria types in the gut by eliminating the food supply of the undesirable bacteria and repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria. Obviously, I am following this diet to cure colitis – but I think everybody could do with a blast of beneficial bacteria, couldn’t they? It’s also cheaper than buying probiotics, and curiously satisfying to grow your own breakfast.
And actually, if you have a yoghurt maker, the basic process is very simple. I started off using a yoghurt maker from Lakeland but the problem with that is that there is no temperature control. As this is a precision process, and a really important part of my diet, I wanted to be sure I was getting it right. So I ended up getting this TANIKA one from Japan because it has a digital temperature control. It’s not cheap, but since I eat yoghurt every day, I broke the overall price into price-per-bowl and decided I could justify it.
Then once I’d mastered the yoghurt, I started toasting my own granola (without any grains, obviously). So breakfast is now a bowl of yoghurt, my amazing nutty granola, raisins and blue/other berries/banana/apple with a squirt of honey. Which is not too shabby at all considering I used to have nothing at all for breakfast. I’ve gone from breakfast rags to breakfast riches, in fact.
DIY grain-free granola
You need a couple of handfuls each of the following:
Almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans
Sesame, sunflower pumpkin and poppy seeds.
Roughly chop the nuts then put them plus the seeds into a large frying pan and dry fry on a medium heat, tossing every so often, until they are deliciously toasted, which takes 5-10 minutes. Once cooled, add some raisins. This will keep in a sealed box for up to two weeks – if it lasts that long, that is.
Beneficial bacteria blast yoghurt
Enough milk to fill your yoghurt maker. I use full fat organic milk, but you can use semi-skimmed too.
Some commercial yoghurt to use as a ‘starter’. I use Woodland yogurt as per the SCD yoghurt instructions, which recommend only starter cultures with lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and S. thermophilus.
First, heat the milk to boiling point then simmer for two minutes to kill the existing bacteria, stirring all the time to avoid burning. Sterilise your yoghurt maker container, sieve and spoon by pouring boiled water on it. After two minutes, cover the pan to prevent airborne bacteria and dust contamination and cool the milk to below 110F (body temperature). You can speed this up by standing the pan in cold water in the sink.
When it’s cooled, mix ¼ cup of your starter yoghurt with half a cup of cooled milk and mix into a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the milk, put the lid on and switch your yoghurt maker on. The Yoghurt maker needs to be 100 to 110F and you need to leave it for 24 hours so the starter culture multiplies and consumes the milk to produce your good bacteria packed yoghurt. After 24 hours, put it in the fridge where the bacteria will remain active for two weeks.
And if that has piqued your curiosity, you can read more about SCD yoghurt here