Bam Bam Gluten-Free Bakery in Portland, Maine

A visit to Bam Bam Bakery in Portland, Maine always puts a smile on my daughter's face.  This fun photo reflects the City of Portland down by the waterfront where Bam Bam Bakery invites you into their space.  The smell of fresh baked gluten-free goodies lures you through their tall doors, past several tables, and a cushioned window seat and sofa area that reminds me of the 1980s TV show Friends.  The hustle bustle of the open kitchen gives confidence that the products are going to be fresh.

Displayed behind the counter is a large assortment of tempting treats like whoopie pies (chocolate and blueberry), cupcakes and cookies in many flavors, coffee cake, cinnamon buns, cakes, pies and breads.  They also offer many items that are dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, and nut-free.  This is a great place for lunch with options of pizza, soups, shepherds pie and daily specials.  Plan an easy night and take supper home!

One of our family's favorite Bam Bam treats is their coconut bread.  My mom slices this into squares and serves fresh strawberries on top with dairy-free whipped cream.  This is our new delicious Strawberry Shortcake!

The very day my daughter was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity three years ago, my mom rushed down to Bam Bam Bakery before they closed and selected whoopie pies, cookies, and bars that she then shipped to us all the way across the country...Maine to California.  We were thrilled to open a care package a few days later filled with our Bam Bam treats.  This was a tasty introduction into our new gluten-free lifestyle.  

Each time we travel to Portland, Maine, Bam Bam is on our list of places to go. Thank you Bam Bam Bakery for another great visit!

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Yeast Overgrowth (Candida) Diet

I felt fabulous when I stopped eating gluten, and I thought I was home free.  But, about nine months into a gluten-free diet, I stopped feeling so great.  My face starting breaking out again, my intestinal system was offbeat, and my brain fog slipped back.  After a few tests, I was diagnosed with a yeast overgrowth.  This was not a piece of good news.  

As is the case for many people who are gluten sensitive, I had a leaky gut.  When I stopped eating gluten, the leaky holes in my gut started to heal and close up releasing the toxins that had been trapped for so long.  Some people even have bacterial infections and parasites also.  My toxins were an overabundant amount of yeast, which is much more significant than a yeast infection.

My naturopathic doctor prescribed a medication, supporting supplements, and a rigid diet to rid my body of the yeast overgrowth.  I had to eliminate all sugars for nine weeks.  This meant no sugar, no fruit (except a few blueberries), no root vegetables (including carrots and potatoes), no starchy vegetables like peas, no condiments, no alcohol, only one-half cup of rice per day, no corn, and no dairy.  I wasn't dairy-free yet, so that was especially difficult.  I didn't even eat bacon or ham because they contain sugar.  It's the sugar that feeds the yeast, so if I cheated and had just a tiny amount, I would be erasing all the work I had done up to that point.  I put my head down with blinders on and plowed through the nine, very long weeks.

I took this photo of the lemon water two years ago during my "yeast overgrowth summer."  The first few weeks I was feeling cranky and sorry for myself.  Then, I turned over a new leaf and embraced the many foods I could eat during that time. I discovered coconut and bean flours.  I colorfully plated my meals, used cloth napkins, and savored every bite.  I embraced the simplicity of food, went to bed early, sorted and purged contents from closets and boxes from over the years, and started to feel better.

I successfully conquered my yeast overgrowth by the end of the summer.  My tastes had changed, and I no longer had that compulsive craving for sweets.  I felt such a sense of relief and accomplishment, and my body was back on track.

If you have gone gluten-free and some of your symptoms have returned, consider being tested for yeast overgrowth.  It's worth the effort to overcome it.  There is light at the end of the tunnel!  Here are a few menu ideas I relied on and that satisfied me.

Breakfast

Brown Rice Hot Cereal with Toasted Coconut Flakes
Chia Seeds with Nuts, Cinnamon, & Toasted Coconut Flakes
Scrambled Eggs with Parsley & Chives
Leftover Curried Red Lentils Served Over a Hard Boiled Egg

Lunch

Coconut Flour Pancakes
Garbonzo Bean Flour Griddle Cakes
Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups

Snacks

Coconut Butter
All Nut Butters
Macadamia Nuts
Roasted Sunflower Seeds
Cucumber Sticks

Dinner

Curried Red Lentils served over Zucchini
Sole with Lemon, Herbs, and Olive Oil
Roast Chicken with Olives
Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

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Gluten & Dairy Are Best Friends

Gluten and dairy are best friends.  My doctor explained to me when I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity that gluten and dairy have a very similar structure.  So similar, in fact, it’s possible one’s body may read dairy as gluten.  In other words, when you eat dairy your body may react as if you had just eaten gluten.  Your body then sends out antibodies to fight the invader which results in persistent symptoms.  This is an example of gluten cross-reactivity and is more common than one might think.

I happen to be someone for whom dairy and gluten are best friends.  This was a hard fact to swallow (pun intended), and I would not believe it until my body commanded my attention.  

I naively thought that when I stopped eating gluten all of my health issues would be resolved, but I was wrong.  A year into being gluten-free, I had one dramatic episode of ischemic colitis and was jolted into reality.  I saw specialists, had a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and upper GI series (barium swallow).  I eliminated many foods from my diet and determined it was the dairy that was affecting my system and making me sick.  I was not pleased, to say the least, because my favorite food was cheese.

This seemed impossibly unfair to me at the time.  I felt sorry for myself being a culinary grad, pastry chef, and personal chef.  I had already given up gluten and now must also give up dairy?  How was I going to live without my staples of cream and cheese?  These ingredients were the foundations of my culinary education.  However, the thought of colitis made the choice to go dairy-free easy.  And, I've discovered that there are many delicious dairy-free products with more and more coming to market.  Cashew cheese is now my favorite.

What is dairy? All products that come from animal milk, including cows, goats, sheep, and buffalo.  Technically, it’s actually the protein called casein in the dairy that is the best friend with gluten.  And, the casein in cow’s milk has the highest amount of problematic protein.  Some people who react to the casein in cow’s milk do not react to the casein in goat, sheep, or buffalo milk.  I haven’t dared to try any milk from an animal since my episode of ischemic colitis, so I don't know where I stand on milk from other animals besides cows.

Butter contains small amounts of casein, and some people don’t react to this.  I ate butter for seven months after I went “dairy-free" because there are differing opinions on whether the small amounts of casein in butter are enough to affect one’s system. I discovered that I am someone for whom even the tiniest measure of casein is too much and finally realized that butter had to go.  Now, I’m officially dairy-free.  Gluten and dairy are not my friends anymore.

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