Entering the New Year Feeling Hopeful and my Energy Bites

The holidays are finally at a close and the new year has started. I began my Autoimmune journey back in November and have made it 6 weeks. In all honesty I really haven’t found it to be that great of a challenge, but it has taken effort. After the past three years of modified diets and supplements, I am happy to just sit down to a pile of steaming veggies.

There have been a few discoveries for me that have really opened my eyes! The first discovery is the negative response I have to Black Elderberry and Echinacea. I have studied herbs, and used them for years. Back in 2004 I was working at a small natural food co-op and didn’t have health insurance. This was the start of my issues with my bladder, and I had so much pain and discomfort that I could not resolve at my local clinic. That’s when I turned to herbal home remedies and found great comfort. Today I still work with the public and am often exposed to colds, flu, and all kinds of funky funk. I took black elderberry syrup, or tincture on a regular basis, and would cycle on and off of an Echinacea tincture. When I went AIP I cut out everything except my fish oil, probiotic, and vitamin D supplements. After a month I started to reintroduce my tinctures, and I had an almost immediate response to the black elderberry. It was 30 minutes and I had a crawling fiery sensation on my scalp and it began to itch. Saddened by the thought of not being able to use such a wonderful herb, I tried again the next day with my elderberry syrup. Same response.

I had also been using my Echinacea tincture for a short period because I thought I had a bladder infection, which turned out to be chronic inflammation of the bladder, a second autoimmune condition known as interstitial cystitis. After I went AIP and stopped taking the Echinacea, between the nourishing meals and the supplement elimination, the pain went away, that I had been struggling with off and on for years. When I reintroduced the Echinacea tincture, the aching pain came back, and after a few days off the pain subsided and went away!

Disappointed by my reaction to these powerful herbs I began to research them further. The many herb books I own mention nothing of immune stimulating herbs on autoimmune conditions. Online I found that because they are immune system boosters they should be avoided by anyone with an autoimmune condition! Our immune systems are already on overdrive, and therefore need to be calmed and comforted. While sad to part ways with two old friends, I realized that they were in fact the enemy!

I also realized that I have a bit of a sugar addiction! Gasp! I think it may be slowing my healing. My skin has stopped itching, the inflammation is going down, but it still is very dry and scaly. My bladder pain has subsided, and my periods are less painful. There are good things happening, but I realize that I am eating 5-6 servings of fruit or AIP desserts a day! I don’t think sugar is the enemy but I realize that too much of a good thing is still too much. As the new year starts  I have really focused on cutting back to see if my healing accelerates.

After being a vegetarian for many years, I have grown to love just about every vegetable, except eggplant! So all the vegetable rich meals have been lovely!

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Simple mini turkey meatloaves, which need no egg, and roasted brussels sprouts. So easy to throw together on a weeknight! I preheat my oven to 425 degrees and throw halved brussels sprouts on one half of a foil lined baking sheet, mini meatloaves using ground turkey and basic herbs and spices on the other, and bake for 35 minutes. I even use the same foil I cooked breakfast bacon on for extra flavor and to reduce waste!

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For Christmas I received the Against All Grain cookbook! This was one of the first recipes I made out of it, and this photo is from my third batch! It is so good and super simple. The first time I made the carrot noodles but found that I could slice them on a diagonal to speed up the process on work days. You can play with the flavors a bit by adding ginger or substituting the broccoli for bok choy. It’s a simple recipe for stir fry that is AIP compliant.

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Then there is this lovely taco salad. I have made this twice. So easy and deeply satisfying! I used ground bison browned up with crimini mushrooms, onion and garlic. For spices I used salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and mexican oregano, seasoned to taste. I piled on a bed of local greens with plantain chips and AIP guacamole I made using avocados, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt. It was heaven!

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I love kimchi. It is tangy, spicy, and so flavorful. Unfortunately it has chili pepper in it and that is not AIP! So I made a batch with just napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, radishes, carrot and green onion. I let it sit on the counter for 4 days and popped it in the fridge. Now I can enjoy a scoop of probiotic goodness in a warm bowl of bone broth topped with fresh herbs. This is a quick after work snack if it’s not yet dinner time, or if I am about to run errands.

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My real new years resolution is to shop locally as much as possible. I am lucky to live in a warmer climate where there is a year-long farmers market. The past few weeks I have gone and filled my bags with so much beautiful produce and pasture raised meat. It beats anything I could find in a store. The same could be said about body care items. I have purchased bar soap from the farmers market and Etsy and loved them. I may be a bit of a home body but I love to get out and support my community. I recently opened my own Etsy shop and have loved the personal interactions I have had. It  wonderful to buy hand crafted goods directly from their maker and not have to battle someone for a parking space to buy mass-produced goods.

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These energy bites are sure to tickle your taste buds. Lightly sweet flavor from prunes and a tart kick from golden berries. Prunes can be easy to find, the golden berries I found at Whole Foods, and they are like natures sour patch kids! I love them, and have made a jam like spread from them for pancakes or to put on yogurt.

Energy Bites

4 oz. Golden Berries

8 oz. Dried Pitted Prunes

1 1/2 cup Shredded Coconut, 1/2 cup Reserved

1/4 cup Melted coconut oil

In a food processor, pulse together the golden berries, prunes and 1 cup shredded coconut so that they are combined. Add 1/4 cup melted coconut oil and then pulse until the mixture comes together. Roll into bite sized balls and roll in the reserved shredded coconut. Store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Enjoy!

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Macaroon Recipe Review and My Quick Hot Carob

Let’s be honest for a minute. I love dessert. Growing up as a kid my mother was always baking pies and cookies, cakes and pastries. Even to this day when friends or family are around there is a dessert buffet. She makes everything from scratch and whips it up in such a hurry that you would think making pie is as easy as brushing your teeth. It breaks my heart going back home and not being able to eat those classic flavors of my youth.

I have been doing the whole “gluten free” thing for a while in hopes to clear up my Psoriasis, a naturopathic doctor told me to avoid eggs, and corn is out of the question unless I want to feel like a dog with fleas. So let’s just sum it up folks: Making baked desserts can be a real you-know-what!

Gluten free baking without eggs and cornmeal leads to some real tasty bricks. I will never forget the “hamburger buns” I made a few summers ago. I think most folks who go GF have tasted some pretty awful things in the name of bread. There are a few egg free Paleo recipes I have tried that are mostly coconut butter and coconut flour but they never seem to set up right. So I have stuck with raw desserts to curb my sugar cravings. There are a ton of amazing recipes put out by the Fragrant Vanilla Cake, who makes some incredible looking desserts. I made her Sweet Potato Pies a few times and they never disappoint, but now that I am full AIP nuts are out of the question.

So when I want my house to smell all buttery and settle down to a yummy baked treat that was quick to make… What recipe is a woman to use? Thankfully the lovely lady Kelly at A Girl Worth Saving posted a recipe round-up that lead me to these super easy, very delicious coconut macaroons. I have made them twice, just to be sure they were as good the second time and by golly they were!

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First you start off by melting some coconut butter with maple syrup and adding cinnamon and a sprinkle of sea salt. The recipe called for ground cloves but I only had whole and didn’t want to take the time to grind it up. I am sure the clove would be a lovely addition, but I don’t have any problem eating them without! The original recipe also makes about 4 dozen which is a dangerous amount of cookies for me to be around so I cut the recipe in half.

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Ahhh, look how well-loved this baking sheet is and the non stick liner! I love this liner! I hate to throw away parchment and aluminum foil all the time, so this has come in handy and has held up really well. I usually wash it, dry it then store it on the baking sheet for the next project. I use a little cookie scoop packed well to form the cookies. They are delicate at this point and the “dough” is rather crumbly so you may need to gently squish it together on the pan, but don’t worry once they bake and cool they hold up.

IMG_4933I haven’t even baked them and already with the warmed maple syrup and coconut butter they smell like brown butter! The aromatic cinnamon is so comforting. Once they get into the oven they fill the house with that all too familiar smell. It is wonderful! I use a gas stove and find that it loves to toast coconut up in a hurry so I usually dropped the recipe temp 5 to 10 degrees depending on the baking time. And I usually set the timer for 2 – 4 minutes less and check them. I am not sure if these tips will help you, but in my experiences of Paleo baking this has been the case. These macaroons are done in 12 minutes.Carob and MacaroonHeaven must serve macaroons, these macaroons to be exact. They are the perfect treat to reward yourself for eating well and living clean! I ate one along side a cup of my Quick Hot Carob and felt like the Queen of the Universe. Find the recipe here and start Enjoying This Journey of healing with me!

Quick Hot Carob

1 Tsp Carob Powder ( I use this brand I found at whole foods)

1 Tsp Honey ( You could also use maple syrup or coconut sugar)

1/4 Cup of Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup Filtered Water

Bring the coconut milk and water to a gentle simmer in a pot. Once heated through, remove from heat and whisk in your carob and sweetener.

While carob has good nutritional value it also has a high sugar content so I definitely consider this a reward!

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