Living Without Yeast

Tip Cups

Tip Cups

When my body decided it didn’t like yeast I was at a loss. Everything my research turned up for yeast allergies or yeast intolerance pointed me to the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD). I wasn’t happy because Candida wasn’t my problem. This was on top of already being gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free plus what I was avoiding for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (coffee, tea, dried fruit, fruit in the morning to name a few), then getting rid of bananas, pineapple, cranberries, soy, peanuts, crab, sesame, and sunflower.

Food BoardWhen I came to terms with doing ACD, I immediately went to Ricki Heller’s website and went through her Candida FAQs. I figured if I needed anything beyond what she had up I could easily ask her questions. I chose to the follow the Whole Approach and printed everything off that I needed. I used two different boards to write everything down – one board for everything that was absolutely off limits, the other for the okay in small amounts.

I swear it was complete madness.

Then, I was saved by my doctor who does my allergy treatments. He gave me a list that made it much easier for me.

Through all this, I learned right out of the gate that yeast-free does not mean just eliminating things made with baker’s or brewer’s yeast. It wasn’t just a matter of cutting out all baked goods and alcohol. Nope. I had to cut out vinegar and everything made with vinegar like pickles, condiments/sauces, and dressing. I had to say goodbye to everything fermented like alcohol, sauerkraut, and kim chee (miso, tofu, and gluten-free tamari were already out because of my reaction to soy).

Also, mold and yeast go hand in hand a lot. Most of this list is also on a mold-free food allergy list.

Here is what yeast-free entails:

  • No baker’s or brewer’s yeast.
  • No vinegar: every type is off-limits along with everything containing vinegar like condiments – mayonnaise, olives, anything pickled, horseradish, dressings, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • No refined grains: bread (excluding unleavened or soda bread as long as there is no vinegar or yeast), pastries, cake, pretzels, cereal, and oatmeal.
  • No dairy: cheese, buttermilk, fortified milk, malted dairy.
  • No alcohol. None. Nada. Not negotiable. All alcoholic drinks depend on yeast to ferment.
  • Nothing fermented (other than alcohol): sauerkraut, marmite, vegemite, tofu, miso, tempeh, tamari, soy sauce, kombucha, and any other foods or liquids not listed that are fermented.
  • No malted foods: cereals, candy, and drinks. If you are already gluten-free, you are already avoiding malted products because of the barley.
  • No vitamins or supplements containing yeast. Vitamin B supplements are typically derived from yeast. Yeast is also a common filler for many vitamins and supplements.
  • No canned, boxed, or frozen citrus juices. They can ferment.
  • No mushrooms or truffles.
  • No chili peppers.

When you look at the list it feels interminable. Considering all I already gave up and that I was doing ACD, this was more manageable. I needed a list of yes and no. I need the line to be drawn and everything black and white when it comes to what I can and can’t eat. I can do moderation, but when presented with limited foods like ACD does in different stages of the diet I flounder. This is a yeast reaction I was dealing with and giving me grey areas was not helpful. The list made it cut and dry. No fudging. No figuring out what I already had on the limited list when fixing dinner to make sure I wasn’t having too much of the limited foods.

Get my drift?

There are always ways around the “can’t have”. I figured out how to make dressings without using vinegar. I made creamy dressings and mustard-y dressings without using dairy or liquid mustard. I ate well despite everything I couldn’t have. You can too.

Eggless Egg SaladHere are some of my favorite yeast-free recipes:

Creamy Coriander Dressing

Eggless Egg Salad 

Flourless Almond Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Grain-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies 

Grain-Free Mediterranean “Bulgar” Salad 

Grilled Chicken Salad with Toasted Coriander Lime Dressing 

Lemon Potato Salad

Lola Kale Salad

Mango Mint Fruit Bars

Pumpkin Millet Porridge with Fresh Figs

Radish Salad

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Sauteed Tart Kale

Scallops with Creamy Veg Sauce

Steak Salad with Orange Fennel Dressing

Sweet Beet Salad

Toasted Cumin Dressing 

Liquid Bourbon Ball

Liquid Bourbon BallI sent the manuscript I’ve worked on for the last fifteen years to my first reader. I needed to celebrate. It’s fifteen years of hard work, perseverance, walking away when it got too emotional for me, and overcoming the times I would look at it thinking it was complete shit.

This celebration called for something more than just a glass of wine. Nope. I needed something special

Enter: Liquid Bourbon Ball.

Living in Kentucky for thirteen years, I developed a liking for bourbon. Quality bourbon. Not the cheap stuff that tastes like fire water. I like my bourbon to have a hint of sweet caramel not varnish. If you’re wondering what I would use, here you go: Basil Hayden, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, and Four Roses, to name a few.

I started making Liquid Bourbon Balls with my friends at a yearly Derby party. It was a big hit. Who needs a mint julep anyway?

The key to this drink is the quality of the bourbon. No turpentine allowed.

Liquid Bourbon Ball

2 ounces bourbon

2 ounces creme de cacao

2 ounces hazelnut liqueur

caramel sauce


Place 3-4 ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Pour liquids over the ice. Cover and shake well. In an old-fashioned glass, drizzle caramel around the side of the glass. Strain cocktail into the glass and enjoy.

Mental Health Day

Honolulu - Capitol Building, DebiPeople talk about taking a mental health day when what they really mean is, I’m fucking stressed out and I just need a day off. People with mental health issues, diagnosed or not, do not have this luxury. Every day is a mental health day spent trying to navigate this world the best they can with what they have, which is not much for most of them.

It’s easy for the general public to say, Oh, another school shooting…the shooter must be psychotic. And they’ll say this without a true understanding of what psychotic means or looks like. It’s easy to link school and other mass shootings to mental instability. Everyone is shouting for better gun control this week to keep guns out of the hands of psychotics. I understand why. There have been seventy-four school shootings since the Newtown, CT school shooting in 2012.

Poor gun control is to blame for “psychotics” shooting masses in public and in schools. Only in America. Because gun control here sucks.

So does mental health services and access to it. In America. AND NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT. Because maybe if we don’t talk about the pink elephant it will disappear. Forget that there is a revolving door with people going in and out of hospitals never quite getting the help they need because once they are stable (read: no longer an immediate threat to themselves or others) they are released with no follow-up, no access to follow-up services, or refuse to follow-up because they don’t think they need more services to keep them stable. Two months later, they’re back in the revolving door.

I saw this play out all too often with clients and/or their family members. I can’t tell you how many kids lost services they desperately needed because of insurance or inability to pay out-of-pocket. In the rural areas of Kentucky, services are limited because that’s what happens in rural areas. It also happens to be the poorer areas where people don’t have their own transportation and there is no public transportation to get them to their local community mental health center (CMHC).

Then there are cases like my cousin who lost insurance when he changed jobs. He loved his new job because it was less stressful, but it also didn’t provide him with the insurance he needed to keep his medication and mental health services. He went on a downward spiral because without the meds he lost a lot of rational thought. I tried to help him and point him in the direction he needed to go to access services without insurance, but he was too far gone. His was a slow decompensation that ended in him hanging himself.

While I’m on the subject of insurance. How about how private insurance will only allow a set amount of sessions per year? This is not enough for people with severe and chronic issues. Did you know that getting out-of-home-intensive services is nearly impossible with private insurance. Same with intensive-in-home services. Medicaid will only pay for services that are deemed medically necessary and only on a Wednesday if you jump through hoops set on fire with a clown and a toy dog with a pink tutu. I think they’re all pretty much medically necessary, but each level of service has a different set of parameters to determine medical necessity like the previously mentioned no longer being an immediate threat to self or others for a psychiatric hospital. Then there is the appalling lack of services for our veterans. Men and women who return from war zones with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have no services to help them manage life with it.

So where are the services for everyone who needs them? Why are they denied access? What are we going to do about it? Because if you want to blame mass shootings on “psychotics” with guns, then we need to address the sorry state of mental health services and accessibility in America along with gun control.

For some perspective: out of the hundreds of former clients, youth and adult, I can count on one hand how many of them were involved in some kind of gun violence after I worked with them and still have fingers left.