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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Not So Matzoh Soup and My Weekly Groceries

Cool weather has finally come. Not so sure how long it will last, we usually have a few warm spells before it really manifests itself. It’s soup weather for the time being and what a great way to stretch your money and get your bone broth in at the same time. I personally haven’t gotten too into drinking bone broth straight. I have tried to drink a mug with breakfast but it doesn’t appeal to me the same way a steaming bowl of soup does, and I could settle for something as simple as broth with green onions and herbs. We eat with our eyes and that pop of green really gets me!

I threw this soup together this morning after a grocery run before work. It did take a little planning, but it is like wrapping my heart in a fuzzy blanket while my imaginary Bubba reads me stories.

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Not So Matzoh Soup

4 to 6 Cups Chicken Bone Broth. Reserve 1/2 Cup.

4 Stalks of Celery Diced

4 Carrots Diced

3 Turnips Diced

3 Cups Chopped Greens of your choice! I used Arugula.

2 to 4 Cups Filtered Water ( enough to equal 8 Cups of liquid including your broth, could also use only  8 Cups broth)

1 Tsp Good Quality Sea Salt

2 Pounds of Turkey Meatballs (Recipe follows)

I recommend getting your turkey meatballs ready the night before, to allow the flavors to marry together but they can be made the day of before you start your soup.

Add your chicken broth to a medium or large stock pot and turn heat on to medium high. As the broth heats, dice your carrots, celery, and turnips. Add your diced veggies to the pot, bring it all to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. During this time I add my turkey meatballs to a non stick skillet with 2 tbsp of coconut oil that has been heated to medium heat. Every few (2-4) minutes I stir the soup and the meatballs, and once the meatballs have firmed up and are lightly browning I add the 1/2 cup of reserved broth. Cover the meatballs and let cook for 10 minutes on medium.

When the 20 minute timer goes off for the soup I add in my greens and lower the heat a little. Let the soup continue to simmer gently to cook your greens down a bit and to finish up your meatballs.

When the 10 Minutes are up for the meatballs I check one to be sure they are fully cooked. Cut it in half and if it’s white instead of pink I am good to go! Turn off the heat and pour the pan of meatballs into the soup pot.

Stir the meatballs into the soup, check for salt or add some pepper if you like, and it’s ready to serve!

This recipe makes a large quantity of soup so it’s great for a large family or for keeping you fed for the week.

Turkey Meatballs

2 Pounds of Good Quality Ground Turkey Breast ( Could also use turkey thigh or a mixture of both)

1 Cup of chopped Shallots ( Or any onion, whatever you have on hand!)

4 Cloves of garlic

1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Parsley

1 Tsp Dried Sage

1/2 Tsp of Good Quality Sea Salt

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1/2 Cup of Chicken Broth (Reserved from soup)

Knead ingredients together in a large bowl until mixed together. Roll into bite sized or slightly larger balls (think Matzoh ball size). These are best made the night before but can also be made the day of if you are in a bind. To cook, heat coconut oil on medium to medium high heat until it is hot, add the meatballs and cook, turning every few minutes. When they start to lightly brown add the broth, cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes. This recipe can be turned into breakfast patties, burgers, or you can use these meatballs in any recipe that calls for them. They can also be frozen for a month or more to use later on.

Weekly Groceries

Here’s my groceries for the week. Since I am committing to following the Paleo Approach for my Psoriasis, as well as cooking all my meals (hopefully) at home. My budget per week for food for 2 adults is $100. This bundle of food cost me $71.26 and I will have $28.74 left for any small items needed throughout the week. It includes 8 servings of Wild Caught Salmon and a luxury item – coffee (not AIP!) from a local roaster. These two items make up for most of the bill. I will try to document all the meals I can make from this haul.

What’s your favorite luxury item from the store?