Mmmmm Gluten Free Banana Muffins

October 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

mmmm gluten free delights

As you know I am trying to stick to a gluten free and autoimmune boosting diet. But sometimes, you just crave something sweet. So today I made some gluten free banana muffins and I want to share their banana goodness with you.

Here’s the recipe (not mine, I got it elsewhere, but can’t remember where now). One thing, because we are all weak runts of the litter and have hardly any arm muscle left, we are allowed to use a food processor without guilt. I love mine, I couldn’t bake without it.

I try to use fair trade and organic where I can, but of course, you don’t have to.


110 g unsalted organic butter

110g organic fair-trade caster sugar (alternatively, you can use a natural sweetener like Stevia if you want to reduce the carbs)

2 free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 ripe fair-trade organic bananas

1 tsp baking powder

175g Rice flour

50g corn flour

75g sultanas or raisons

Making them

Using that all important electric food processor:

Add the sugar and butter and whisk them together till fluffy.

Then add the eggs and vanilla essence.

Keep whisking till mixed.

(I always have to stop at this point and make sure all the bits are pulled into the middle to ensure even mixing)

Squish the bananas one by one into the mix, mixing as you go. It feels quite nice, but it’s a bit messy.

Then measure out the rice powder, baking powder and corn flour and sieve this into the mix slowly folding it in.

Finally add the sultanas and fold them in, then spoon the mix into little bun or muffin cases.

Now I put mine in an AGA, which is already at temperature, for about 20 minutes. But, if you have an ordinary oven I’d try it at about 200C.

Let them cool before eating. Well you don’t have to…

Then turn around and look at the  awful mess you’ve just made in the kitchen.

They are really nice, delicious in fact. I wouldn’t eat too many at once because they do have sugar in, but at least they’re gluten free which according to the US based Myositis organisation is a good diet to follow – there’s some good advise on Myositis and nutrition here.

In the end I only ate two, as I realised I do like the odd sweetie but I think I actually prefer savoury.


Feeling almost normal, even ‘Ballsy’

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

The local Chippy, Balls

On the way home from the hospital the other night, as the cupboard was bear, I had to stop off at the local chippy to get us a fish and chip supper for our tea*

Balls of Prudhoe is an establishment of great repute and does the finest fish and chip supper around these parts. It is a veritable feast of delights, including fish and chips, battered pineapple ring and chips, various ‘fritters’ and chips, chips and chips and mushy peas with everything – oh and curry sauce if you’re feeling a bit saucy!

So I hobbled out of my car and into the chippy. I stood there and at once felt quite joyous. I internally shook my head at this and wondered why. Then it hit me, I hadn’t been in Balls since well before I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, it had been easily 7 months since I stood at that counter and asked for a, “portion of fish and chips and a vegetarian burger please”. It felt wonderful because I felt normal, an ordinary person again, not house bound, unable to even go to the chippy or a local shop easily.

I breathed in that greasy smell of frying chips and looked around at the bottles of vinegar and brown sauce, yesterday’s newspaper and the tired look on the face of the women serving me and I felt happy.

Thank you Balls of Prudhoe for making me feel a little more normal again (not that I ever really am ‘normal’ as it happens).

Oh and yes, my tea was delicious.

* ‘Tea’ is northern UK speak for evening meal. You don’t actually have to partake of a cup of tea with it.

A Simple Meal: Thank You Mr or Mrs Salmon

September 24, 2012 § 10 Comments

As I said in a previous post, I’m following a diet that will hopefully boost my immune system and help me fight dermatomyo – shite -is (AKA dermatomyositis).

The problems with following this diet, whilst suffering from this illness, includes the fact that sometimes you literally do not have the energy or strength to cook. My leg hurts often and I am very tired a lot of the time, so sometimes it’s hard to stand for extended periods to cook – and trust me, getting Steve (bless his cottons) to cook for me, is NOT a good idea…

So I rely on easy meals and often ready made meals. When I say ready made meals, I’m here talking about very high quality ones that tend to cost a lot. Therein lies another problem with following a good autoimmune diet whilst very ill – it’s expensive.

However, here’s a simple meal I made, as an example of what I try to eat (I must admit that sometimes you just have to have a plate of gluten free fish fingers and chips).

Take your salmon fillet and add a butter slice and some herbs of your choice – no salt!

Salmon ready for cooking

Wrap it in foil and cook in an oven for about 20 minutes. You could pan sear it, but it makes a right mess in the pan and remember we’re trying to reduce time standing.

Thank you Mr or Mrs Salmon, I really appreciate it

Then use a good quality stir fry mix, or salad, to finish off your meal:

Stir fry in the pan

I use olive oil to fry with, it’s apparently good for handling cholesterol and has all sorts of positive benefits, including preventing colon cancer and reducing blood pressure (things that we DM’ers are at an increased risk of).

When finished, stick ’em both on a plate and eat heartily (unless you have post methotrexate nausea in which case, just try to eat a little bit).

Yum, yum, yum, food for my tum

A simple meal, but by no means cheap. Maybe you know of a good, easy to prepare and cheaper meal?

Thank you Mr or Mrs Salmon, I really appreciate it

UPDATE: An excellent presentation by the USA Myositis Association, on diet can be seen here:

I like big butts and I cannot lie

September 16, 2012 § 18 Comments

Me and my big bum, happy together

These steroids have made me put quite a bit of weight on, as I’ve previously mentioned in a recent post, “Me and my big fat arse“.

Consequently, I have virtually no clothes left that fit me properly. I’m so sick of heaving my fat bum into trousers that are at least a a size too small. Even if I do somehow manage to lever myself into them, excess belly, hangs gaily over the top of them, wobbling as I go.

So yesterday, my lovely little brother (image below – not quite so ‘little’) took me to buy a new pair of fat arsed sized jeans.

Buying clothes is normally one of my most beloved things to do. As I’ve said, I am and always have been, a lover of fabric and clothes and fashion and design. But it just put me in a bad mood having to pick ‘that size’ off the rail, you know the one, the size that you never want to be, the ‘L’ for large or “lard arsed” size. I did it though, I picked a few pairs and went sulking off to the fitting rooms, dragging my gammy leg behind me.

In the well lit (damn you shop owner) well positioned dual mirrored, fitting room, I tried on my L size jeans and I have to admit it was an utter relief to actually be able to put on a pair of trousers without a shoe horn to ram my fat in. They fitted perfectly, no more belly fat hanging over the top and I looked at my big bum in that well positioned dual mirror and I loved it.


I was going to put Sir Mix Alot, “Baby Got Back” here, but I’m sorry, way too sexist, so I’ll embed Queen “Fat Bottomed Girls” instead…

It’s so much better than a skinny arse (you were right Eve).

Hate my big belly of course, but oh well, I am female.

So I am now comfortable in my skin, for the time being anyway.

My brother Andrew – thanks for making me buy the big butt jeans!

Me and my big fat arse

September 8, 2012 § 18 Comments

An ‘Arse’ in Yorkshire, England, as seen on google maps

Before I start this post, I think I best create a mini glossary, as the writings herein will contain words that most, non British people will simply not understand:

Arse: The thing you sit on, also known vicariously as (in English, please insert other language versions as appropriate) posterior, bottom, bum and in North America…’fanny’. Note… Americans, some advise, never use the word ‘fanny’ when in the UK to describe an arse, because it means something completely different!

Knickers: Under garments worn by women to cover their arse

So there I was just finished showering and I tried to pull my knickers on and they didn’t fit me! My ginormous fat arse rejected them. It may be time for a pair of elasticated ‘granny knickers’.


I can put up with the pain, cope with the exhaustion, ignore the rash, deal with the blurred vision and so on, but putting on weight…nooooooo!!!!!!!!

It’s those damned steroids again. I’ve put on at least 14Lbs (a stone, or 6.35 kilos) in weight in the last month and I’m now at the point where I’m too scared to go on the scales, so who knows how much I’ve really put on.

Thing is, I’ve always made sure I’ve stayed around the same size. I’m an average female, so my weight does fluctuate, but only a little. This, however, is the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life and I do not like it, not at all.

I love clothes. I love them so much, it’s a hobby and a passion. I’ve got 2 wardrobes full of clothes and an overflow wardrobe and a rail with my oldest (true vintage now) items.

I love to wear them, touch them, have them. I love the fabric, I love the design. Now hardly any of them fit me and I’m extremely upset about it.

But I don’t want to go out and buy new clothes, because I feel fat and it just puts me off. My belly sits there looking up at me and laughing. My double chin, on my steroid face hangs down, mockingly. It’s horrible, this disease has taken my strength and now it’s removed my clothes (metaphorically…).

However, looking on the bright side, I could give Kim Kardashian a run for her money in the booty department and my swollen face does mean I have no wrinkles at all. So it’s not all bad.

Hmm in fact thinking about it, I prefer to think of myself as steroid induced bootylicious.

P.S. Sightings of my arse from space are grossly exaggerated!

Be a good girl and take your medicine

September 4, 2012 § 9 Comments

I’m not a medical professional, but I’m making the comments here from bitter experience. Once you get on the drugs carousel, it’s hard to get off and by god, that carousel spins you round until you’re dizzy.

I would love to try an alternative to hard core, toxic drugs. People spout the diet route and ‘herbs’. But when I got on this carousel, I was in a very, very bad way. My partner, normally a very optimistic (to the point of being highly annoying) person, said to me that if I’d waited much longer for a diagnosis and treatment, he couldn’t see me getting through it. And…at that time I was on a gluten free, autoimmune diet, just for my IBS. So the drugs may be awful, but the alternative is worse.

So, for your interest and delight, this is my drug regime and my ‘observations’ and associated effects from scans and tests done so far, that the drugs have had on me. It’s scary, but not at all unusual, in fact, Im fairly sure this is par for the course.

Here we go:

Prednisolone (prednisone): Started on 50mg daily for 6 weeks tapering down, currently on 30mg daily

Used to reduce inflammation, suppress immune system

 What its done to me:

  • Swollen face (moon face or face as I prefer to call it)
  • Swollen lump above right clavicle (jury out on if this due to steroid)
  • Blurred vision
  • Osteopenia of the hips
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomach pain and general indigestion

What I then have to take to counter its effects on the density of my bone calcium:

Aludrenic acid   a biphosphonate which can cause oesophageal cancer. It’s a pain to take as needs to be taken with lots of water and you can’t lie down for 2 hours after taking it.

Natecal (Calcium/Vit D)    chewy delight

More on the above two treatments for osteoporosis prevention can be found by clicking here

Lansoprazole  a proton pump inhibitor to prevent reflux and stomach pain caused by the steroid.

Methotrexate (how I hate this drug): Started on 10mg tapered up to 20mg maintenance dose)

Used to suppress the immune system and as a steroid sparing drug to allow the reduction of the steroid dose

What it does to me:

  • Has affected my immune system as expected, e.g. low lymphocyte readings, etc.
  • Causes nausea for up to 3 days after taking – it can be mild to severe, I’m hoping go grow to tolerate it more
  • Extreme tiredness the day after taking it (I take it in the evening and sleep through some of the effects)
  • Headaches for two days after taking
  • Thinning of hair
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Night sweats the evening I take it
  • Sometimes breathing difficulties the evening I take it (jury is out on if this is the cause)

What I then have to take to counter / check the effects of the methotrexate

I have been having weekly blood tests to check for liver/kidney function and immune system suppression/ infection – thankfully in a few weeks they’ll be monthly.

I also take folic acid (5mg) the day after taking the methotrexate to counter the side effects. More information on the action of folic acid on methotrexate can be found by clicking here.

I am also on a high dose Vitamin D treatment as I have very low levels and most recently I’ve been taking doxycycline (an antibiotic) to see if the swelling above my clavicle is an infection.

I’m on this ride now and I am too scared to come off it because the disease itself is pretty frightening too and I know without these drugs it would engulf me, as it was before I went on them.

Making a Meal of It

August 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

When I first was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, a few friends mentioned diet to me. I’ve always been quite diet aware as I was a vegetarian for 30 years – you’ll see why I say, ‘was’, soon.

The NHS are wonderful in many ways, but holistic advise isn’t really forthcoming for a lot of diseases, this being one of them. If you have coeliac and often for cancer sufferers, you will get offered the advise of a dietician, but in this case, it wasn’t seen as connected.

It seems that the connection between autoimmune disease and diet is highly contentious in fact, I think more so in the UK than in the USA, but I’ll explore this in another post.

So, in the end I paid for a private consultation with a dietician – fortunate for me that I could afford to do this, not everyone can. It cost me £40 per session and I had 2 sessions, by Sykpe, as the dietician is based in London. Isn’t Skype video a wonderful thing.

Fleur, the dietician, wanted me to eat meat to help with my muscle replacement after the effects of dermatomyositis: I just can’t. I became a vegetarian as a quiet protest against the mistreatment of animals in factory farms, not for health reasons, so I just couldn’t bring myself to change that philosophy. After much debate, I agreed to eat fish. So with that in mind, she gave me this advise:

1. Eat eggs and fish every day

2. Eat root vegetables as much as possible, for example beetroot, carrots, parsnips, etc.

3. Eat green leafy vegetables as much as possible

4. Cut out Gluten (I already have, that’s another story)

5. Cut out dairy and lactose (see later)

6. Reduce my eating of grains to a minimum (I admit I like to odd slice of gluten free bread…sorry Fleur!)

7. Eat nuts like walnuts

8. Reduce sugars like sucrose and fructose as much as possible

She also wanted me to take a supplement called Lactoferrin which is found in mothers milk and helps to boost the immune system.

I also have to take high dose vitamin D, prescribed through my doctor, as my vitamin D levels are very low, as well as the usual Natecal (calcium and vitamin D tablets you take to counter the steroid affects on your bones).

I’ve also cut out caffeine as much as possible and alcohol (Waaaaaaaaa!!!!!!)

So how did I get on, 2 months down the line…

Well as Im sure a lot of you know, making dietary changes, especially ones that involve eating healthy stuff is never easy. I did however, give it a go and continue to mostly follow Fleur’s mantra.

I do eat high cocoa solid chocolate and have the odd treat of a small Green and Blacks dark chocolate ice cream, mmmmm chocolate ice cream mmmmmm.

The only one I’m really struggling with is cutting out dairy, because every morning I have a really delicious breakfast which I can’t bear to give up. My breakfast, shown below, is gluten free muesli (well actually  a mix of two different ones) with milk (not much though!) and some organic coconut yogurt, with berries of several types on the top…mmm…mmm…mmm how can i give that up!!!

Mmmmmm Brekkie

I’m actually pretty good at controlling my diet but I have slipped a little bit with the odd slice of gluten free bread – I find it helps with the nausea caused by the methotrexate.

So has it worked?

Well it’s early days: I feel very ill still. But then maybe if I was eating lots of gluten and sugary foods, etc. I’d be a lot worse. I won’t take the risk of exacerbating this illness and so I will persevere, but with the odd fall off the wagon.

How do you do a comparison for an experiment like this? I don’t have a control group to check results against. All I can do is assume this is the best way forward and stick with it. The alternative would be to start eating badly and see what happens  – no thanks!

In the end I can say I eat pretty well, but I am finding this diet expensive. I am in a position where I can afford it, but others would struggle.

I’ll write some more posts on diet and feeding because there are considerations when you have this disease that may not be obvious to dieticians.


I found some lactose fee milk…woohoooooo, so I’m using that instead of the real stuff, it’s fine, it tastes the same.

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