How Eating Clean Changed My Life (and Gluten-Free Grape ‘n’ Chive Pasta Salad)

Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, is Editor-in-Chief of The Healthy Apple and a Manhattan-based Culinary Nutritionist, Personal Chef, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer and Writer. She specializes in simple Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free “Clean” recipes for the home cook. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Gluten Free Pasta Salad

I eat like a cavewoman. Not the spearing-wooly-mammoths-and-wild-cats kind of cavewoman, but the hunter-gatherer type. I eat straight from the Earth: organic, 100% whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. But I wasn’t always this way. I was a college kid once, eating Ramen and canned spaghetti sauce just like everyone else. But then something happened. Actually, a lot happened.  I developed a gluten-intolerance while in school. So I ditched the grain-filled goods and swapped in healthy snacks like rice cakes, popped corn, nuts and seeds. Easy, right? But that’s just the beginning.

In addition to my gluten-intolerance, I struggled for five and a half years with chronic leg swelling (20+ pounds of water weight every day by 3PM) and severe digestive issues while pursuing a “big” marketing and advertising career in corporate America: VOGUE, Ralph Lauren Corporate and the NBA. I never let anyone know what was going on other than my family. I felt gross, embarrassed, bloated, foggy-brained, confused and frustrated. How was a 26-year-old girl to go on a date with swollen legs and chronic pain when all I could wear were spandex and gulp down water pills instead of cocktails?

I journeyed up and down the East Coast, visiting every doctor – even the Mayo Clinic – but all I received were empty answers and bottles full of useless pills.  But, this is the part where it gets better, right? Well, not quite yet.

One evening in 2007, I was rushed to the St. Vincent’s Cancer Center in NYC with chronic low white blood cells. I was told I had leukemia.  But after countless MRIs, CT Scans, endoscopies, colonoscopies, X-Rays, blood tests, genetic tests, bone marrow biopsies, etc., I was told that there was nothing wrong with me. In December of 2010, I had kale from a farmers market – and contracted parasites, pathogens, and numerous cases of bacteria overgrowth. I went on a cocktail of steroids and painkillers – and disability.  No one could figure me out – or believe what was happening to me. My colleagues at the NBA thought I was kidding and Human Resources would call me on the phone to tell me that they didn’t believe me. I found huge cysts on my feet and the leg swelling got so bad I could barely move.

Then I did the unthinkable, the unbelievable. I quit my job. I went back to school. And I healed myself (this is the part where it gets better). I studied integrative medicine and worked with an Eastern medicine doctor, who told me I was suffering from heavy metal accumulation in my tissues, that I lacked a gene to absorb folate – crucial in the body’s natural detoxification process. Western medicine, our traditional doctors, only tests for heavy metals in your blood. All those years of canned, processed foods stayed in me. So I started chelation to draw the heavy metals out of my body and detoxed my food, makeup, cleaning products, shower curtain – everything.

I healed myself through a fresh, unprocessed diet: eating like a cavewoman. Lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. I created a job for myself and started my own business, The Healthy Apple, where I help others to heal naturally through clean eating. As a personal chef, I work with clients all over the country by teaching them how to eat the way we are supposed to – just like cavemen and women – not eating out of a box or a can.  To this day I still cannot eat out of a box or a can or anything processed – my body simply cannot digest it.  At first it was tough but now I’m used to it and I feel great – you can catch me eating an avocado and chia seeds on an airplane or a zucchini and almonds on the subway. What can I say: I’m a unique “Clean” eater! You can do it too; it’s easier than you think and I’m here to show you just how easy it can be.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Gluten Free Red Grape 'n' Chive Pasta Salad
Author: 
Recipe Type: Entree
 
Here is one of my favorite healthy and simple pasta recipes that combines sweet grapes and hearty gluten-free pasta.
Ingredients
  • ½ pound gluten-free pasta such as TruRoots
  • 2 tablespoons Greek plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1½ pounds red grapes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds (Amie recommends Barlean's FortiFlax)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; gently toss to combine.
  3. Transfer pasta salad to four serving bowls.
  4. Serve chilled.

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29 Responses to How Eating Clean Changed My Life (and Gluten-Free Grape ‘n’ Chive Pasta Salad)

  1. MImi Avocado October 20, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Wow! Your courage and commitment is an inspiration…and I’m thrilled that avocados have been such a big part of your healing. I will remember this post for a very long time.

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Thank you Mimi! Greatly appreciated. Hope you continue to enjoy my recipes.
      Have a great weekend!

  2. Cheryl October 20, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Wow, Amie! Your story is incredible. About eight years ago I had chronic joint and muscle pain that my doctor couldn’t diagnose. My husband is the one who finally figured out that I’m allergic to MSG. I can sure feel it if I’ve eaten something processed. MSG is in EVERYTHING. Thank you for sharing your story and for the great recipe!

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Thank you Cheryl! Greatly appreciated. Hope you continue to enjoy my recipes.

  3. Jennifer L. October 20, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Hey Arnie – really glad to read your post. Reminds me that I am not a freak (although people have thought I am crazy at times, eating toasted almonds instead of a quarter-pounder.) I, too, have completely changed my lifestyle to save my life–eating clean and lean, swimming several miles each week, critically and carefully shopping at Farmer’s Markets, etc. I really like your allusion to eating like a cavewoman. I have named my style as eating like a gorilla. Same ideas. In addition to losing 90 pounds, I am off all meds, my doctors are amazed, I have incredible energy, and at 52, I can rock a skinny jean and tank top if I want to! I am in the best health of my life, evah. And your wonderful recipe has been added to my files. Thank you very much, sista!

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Congrats Jennifer; that is wonderful! Looking forward to keeping in touch via my blog!

  4. Winnie October 20, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I am totally amazed every time I read your story for a few reasons. 1. Because of how much you’ve gone through 2. Because of your talent for summing up so much in such a succinct manner.
    I applaud you for finding the diet that works for you and for inspiring others to do the same ;)

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Thank you Winnie; you are too kind. Sending you a huge hug! xooxo

  5. Mary Papoulias-Platis October 20, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Amy Bomb! You are an incredible positive life-story everyone with any health issue should read about! I loved your enthusiasm the moment I met you, my friend! A wonderful post!

  6. Stacy Spensley October 20, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Wow, Amie, I didn’t know your whole story, either! What a journey. And the recipe looks awesome – grapes are on the market list for tomorrow.

  7. Sarah October 20, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Your story is so amazing. I have to admit, it can be difficult to believe that such serious problems can be cured without more modern, Western medicine. We can all benefit from being reconditioned out of this bias and aversion to “alternative” medicine through stories like yours.
    Also, I particularly appreciate your recipes as it seems a good many can be done without a full kitchen…I’m a college student who recently got off my schools meal plan in order to eat more healthful foods, and it can be frustrating sometimes not to have the luxury of, say, a stove :)
    Anyway, thank you again for sharing your ideas. I will certainly be integrating them into my own diet.
    God bless

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      Thank you Sarah; great to hear from you! I am happy to help you anytime! Hope you are feeling great!

  8. erika October 20, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Rock on!

  9. Maggie October 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Great job Amie! I loved your story. However, I must say that I just bought kale from my farmer’s market this morning and now I’m afraid to eat it.

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      Don’t be afraid! Thanks so much for your kind words, Maggie!

  10. LiztheChef October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Inspiring story. You are such a good writer that I wonder if you have ever considered publishing your story, perhaps with recipes?

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Thank you Liz; yes I publish recipes on my website TheHealthyApple.com along with many other sites such as The Food Network and Martha Stewart Whole Living. I’m also writing a cookbook, too.
      Thank you!

  11. Jayne October 21, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Wow what a story, so inspirational! Ive just discovered your blog too, cant wait to delve in!

  12. John October 21, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    A note, in case you really mean to eat like a cavewoman. Cavemen (paleo human beings) didn’t eat grains, legumes, or corn (none of these things existed in quantities to be eaten as foods until the rise of agriculture and plant breeding). And cavewomen ate a lot of animal fat (that was the most nutritious part). jr

    • The Healthy Apple November 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Thanks John; I actually cannot eat grains, beans, legumes or corn and I do eat some lean animal protein. Thanks so much for your clarification and comment!

  13. veronica palmer March 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Greetings,

    I am trying to eat healthy so I eat the fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts. Unfortunately I get gas and diarrhea when I eat this combination. Is this to be expected. I do not eat any red meat or processed foods.

    • Andrew April 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Hi Veronica,

      In my experience, sudden and significant changes in diet can certainly have these effects – especially if you’re adding a lot of high-fiber foods. It can help to phase in any changes slowly, so you give your body a chance to transition.

      You may also be having a reaction to a specific food (or foods) — so by phasing in changes one at a time, that may help you narrow it down, too.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Emma Madison April 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    What an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing it. This recipe looks great. I can’t wait to try it. I’ve been practicing clean eating for quite some time and every time I think of straying I remember all the chronic conditions I had before I started the regimen. I think modern medicine still has a lot to learn about processed food and illness.

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