Are you Vitamin D deficient?


We often think of vitamin D and its role in bones. But it is important in all tissues and cells. So it follows that vitamin D deficiency effects all tissues and cells, not just bones. If we increased our intake, could many cases of cancer, type 1 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, or autoimmune diseases be prevented? New research shows this is possible.

Who is effected?

Many researches believe there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. So everyone should be aware of their intake and blood levels. But some groups are more likely to be effected. These include people who have fat malabsportion or inflammatory bowel disease, the elderly, those with dark skin, those with obesity, and infants that are exclusively breast-fed.


How much do we need? Don’t we get enough form the sun?

Vitamin D is often called Vitamin Sunshine. Our bodies make vitamin D when we are outside on a sunny day. But many of us spend precious little time outdoors. And when we do, northern latitudes, smog, sunscreen and clothes J limit the amount of sun exposure we get.


The current recommendations are 400-600 IU, depending on your age. This could come from food or supplements. But there is mounting science recommending 1,000 IU per day for adults. Some say 2,000 IU is better, again for adults.


Natural food sources

The only foods that naturally contain significant amounts of Vitamin D are oily fish. These include herring, catfish, salmon (wild has more vitamin D than farmed), mackerel, sardines, tuna and eel. Cod liver oil is especially rich in vitamin D, but it tastes awful.


are surprising in that they develop vitamin D when exposed to light, just like we do! They are the only fruit or vegetable with natural vitamin D. Simply remove the wrapper and place in sunlight for 5 minutes. A serving of 4-5 button mushrooms goes from 15 IU to 400 IU of vitamin D.



Fortified food sources

Milk has been fortified with vitamin D since the 1930’s, and the bone disease rickets has largely disappeared here. Americans get most of their vitamin D from fortified fluid milk. Skim, reduced fat and whole milk all have added vitamin D, 100 IU per 8 ounces. You need to drink four 8 oz glasses a day to meet the current recommendation of 400 IU per day.


This is often problematic for many since lactose intolerance often goes hand in hand with gluten intolerance. Lactose free milk is available, it is a bit sweeter than regular milk. I like it on cereal because it sweetens my breakfast a bit without adding sugar. Yogurt and cheese are often recommended as low lactose dairy sources. They can provide you with calcium, but not vitamin D. It is not usually added to these products.


Theoretically, you could meet your vitamin D needs with a steady diet of wild salmon, milk and mushrooms. Am I kidding? Yes. It could make a lovely meal, but I wouldn’t want to eat it everyday.



photo by lsimon

So supplements are needed. And some people will need higher doses than others.




Are you vitamin D deficient?

Ask your doctor for a blood test to measure your vitamin D levels. Be sure to ask for the total 25(OH)D test. This is also called “25 hydroxyvitamin D”. Other vitamin D tests aren’t as accurate for determining deficiency.


If you are deficient, start with a D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement. It is the most active form of vitamin D. And it is readily available. Rechecking the blood test in a few months will show if your dose is adequate.


Or visit Grass Roots Health and their D Action research project. They are a group of scientists, institutions and individuals committed to solving Vitamin D deficiency and improving health. D Action offers in-home blood testing, for a reasonable fee. They recommend 25(OH)D blood levels between 40 and 60 ng/ml. Some prominent researchers believe the blood level should be higher yet for optimum health. You could even contribute to their ongoing 5-year project researching vitamin D levels and disease risk.


Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute also has a very useful webpage covering on all things vitamin D, with links to research papers.

Rhubarb Sauce


Bite on a stalk of cool spring rhubarb and feel your mouth pucker up. As the weather turns to summer heat, the stalks loose some of their puckery tang.

 Rhubarb is often a love it or hate it food. The mere mention of the word usually elicits a reactions, a smile or a grimace. Or a comment, ya or nay.

Only the stalks are edible. They can be green or red, the red is prettier. Good quality chopped rhubarb is available in the freezer section year round.


Rhubarb is an excellent source of bone building vitamin K. And it has 2 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving. It is also less than 30 calories per cup. But you will need to add sweetener to it. Sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, honey, and sorghum or maple syrups all work well. You can also use Splenda, or the new stevia based sweeteners to avoid adding extra calories. Since the sourness of the stalks change over the growing season, it is a good idea to start with less sweetener and add more only if needed.


Rhubarb Sauce

4 cups chopped fresh or frozen red rhubarb

½-1 cup sweetener of choice

½ cup dried cranberries, dried cherries, or raisins (optional)


Put rhubarb, and dried fruit if using, in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to keep the rhubarb from sticking to the pan. Fresh rhubarb might take ½ cup. Frozen might not need any, it oozes moisture as it heats up. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. The soft pieces will be whole one minute, and completely fall apart a minute later. I like some chunks, so I take it off the heat as soon as it is tender. Add sweetener to taste.


If you have an abundance of rhubarb, make sauce and freeze it for later use. It freezes well and can be a welcome addition to next winters meals.


Rhubarb sauce is excellent with roasted pork or lamb. Or as a topping for ice cream! Veggies for dessert? When it tastes this good, why not?





42 Gluten Free Flours


Grain and seed flours

1. Amaranth

2. Buckwheat

3. 4. 5. Corn

also known as (aka) masa harina. Corn flour can be white, yellow or blue

6. Montina

aka Indian rice grass.

7. Mesquite

8. Millet

9. Oatmust be certified gluten free to prevent cross contamination with glutinous grains.

10. Quinoa

11. 12. 13. Rice-white, brown, and sweet-aka glutinous (but there is no gluten in it).

14. Sorghum

15. 16. Teff-brown or ivory


Bean flours

17. Black bean

18. Chickpea- aka garbanzo and chana dal

19. Fava

20. Great northern

21. Lentil

22. Navy bean

23. Red kidney bean

24. Pea- green and yellow

25. Pinto bean

26. Soybean

27. White bean

28. Yellow split pea


Nut flours

29. Almond

30. Cashew

31. Coconut

32. Hazelnut

33. Pecan

34. Chestnut

35. Macadamia

36. Walnut


Veggie or fruit flours

37. Plantain

38. Potato

39. Sweet potato



40. Potato

41. Corn

42. Tapioca- aka cassava, manioc, and yucca.




There is no reason to get bored, baking or eating gluten free. You could spend a lifetime experimenting with the flavors and behaviors of each, and the infinite combinations. Many gluten free baked goods are best with a blend of flours to highlight the best features of each. There are many convenient commercial blends available now. They can be substituted for glutinous flour cup for cup.


Or be adventurous and make pancakes or waffles with any new single flour you want to try. Use 100% of that flour to learn what it alone brings to the table. You will see if it makes a thin, puffy or sticky batter. What color it is raw and cooked. Taste the batter and the finished product. They cook up light, dense, thin, thick, crispy, soft, dry, moist, gummy, sweet, bitter, nutty, toasty, and a rainbow of colors. Each of these characteristics is desirable at times.  


You could learn about world cuisines too. While unknown to many Americans, sorghum and teff are staple grains in Africa. Latin America is home to quinoa. Both are nutritional powerhouses.


My preference is for whole grain, bean, nut and veggie flours instead of refined starches. They offer full flavor, vitamins and minerals. And are higher in protein.


Tell us which is your favorite. What wonderful things have you made with usual flours?