Status Update

So it has officially been 3 months since I went Paleo and 1 1/2 months since I have gone AIP. With the exception of coffee for the first two weeks, it has been almost a full 30 days of strict AIP. I don’t know if I am ready for reintroductions yet. My scalp is still showing signs of inflammation, although the itching and burning I was experiencing is almost non existent. Interesting things are happening though, I now have very faint red patches on my stomach. This is a new spot and not sure if there is something I am eating that is problematic or the detoxifying effects are causing this flair. I will say that for the most part my daily congestion upon waking is much better.

On a sad note I am beginning to feel that coconut is the problematic food. If I start to cook with the oil, use coconut flakes and make smoothies with coconut milk.. I start to feel bloated and experience mild constipation, and my scalp starts to flare a bit. I purchased a large tub of the oil,  and have a bit left of the coconut flakes so I am using up the flakes and cutting out the oil now to see how I feel.  During my last period I experienced a week-long headache and severe neck pain. I couldn’t say if the diet is having an effect on my hormones or if I was having an inflammatory response to the coconut I was eating. To combat it I upped my intake of Omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil and canned tuna. After a few days the headaches stopped and the neck pain cleared. Thank the stars for those fatty little fishes. I have also increased my fluid intake, it is difficult in the cooler months to stay hydrated!

There is so much positive information out there about the benefits of organ meat, but I have yet to include it. Bone broth is another healing tool that I have been sporadic about including. As I progress forward I am going to make more of an effort to include these superfoods. My veggie intake has been pretty good, but not Terry Whals good (she recommends 9 heaping cups or more a day, I average about 6.) and that is also a key component to healing. With all this said I don’t feel that it is a right time to reintroduce foods. I don’t feel well enough to be able to see if my body is having a clear reaction to any particular foods. I plan to stick to the AIP protocol for the month of February with the elimination of all things coconut, try to get bone broth on a daily basis and include organ meat at least 3 times for the month (though it should be 3 times or more per week!). I think after all that I have been through, these are easy goals to accomplish. I accept that a deep healing doesn’t happen overnight, it requires patience and faith.

Vegetables are delicious, and I have no problem gorging myself on them! There hasn’t been too much that has really tempted me these past 2 months but this week I started to crave chocolate and butter. I have curbed the chocolate craving with carob, but still have porno like daydreams of smearing warm butter on everything I eat. These cravings kind of tell me that I need more fat, and magnesium. Sugar cravings have been pretty high this week, drinking a lot of herbal tea to try to combat it.

To sum up my experience so far, it has been okay. I don’t feel better, but I don’t feel worse. My energy has picked back up after quitting coffee but I still experience an afternoon dip, I have been eating light snacks throughout the day to keep it up.

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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!

Week 3: Success With Recipes and the Orange Greencicle

Rounding up on week 3 of the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol here! I am curled up in bed eating 2 slices of uncured bacon (the boyfriend shakes his head, “Bacon in bed?”), who could complain!!

Grateful that I have always enjoyed if not loved to cook, and that I have essentially lived on a restricted diet for over a decade (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Meat Eater…) it has not been difficult. The true challenge is planning out meals and setting time aside to make them. I don’t mind leftovers, but I also have a Pinterest page with thousands of pins… and I only have so much time on this earth to make them all! Needless to say I tried several new recipes this week, and I liked every one of them!

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The first recipe I tested out was for a cheese substitute made from zucchini. I saw it while browsing the AIP Lifestyle blog. I love a good stinky cheese, sliced up with olives and salami, and while I can certainly live without it – I find it fun to have an alternative. For this recipe I left out the Nutritional Yeast and the probiotic capsule. These certainly will add to the flavor but I enjoyed this without, and shredded it on to salads throughout the week. The key ingredient here is gelatin, it allows the cheese to hold shape and is easy to slice up or shred. The taste is mild and I could add a combination of herbs or spices to play around with different flavors. Also a great option for cheeseburger or pizza cravings because it slices and shreds so well.

IMG_5153I was missing condiments this week. Hot sauce, ketchup, mustard… all the vinegary, tangy tastes that we squirt all over everything! So I made Nightshade-free Ketchup. I have used a recipe twice before from this blog that tastes really good but I didn’t have apple juice so I found this one. Both are great recipes and taste awesome with some sweet potato fries and lamb meatballs. I have also used these recipes slathered on top of mini turkey meatloaf! The flavor is sweet, tangy and it has that nice saucy texture of ketchup.

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Now lets talk dessert for my sweet tooth! I used a recipe from A Girl Worth Saving, for raspberry pop tarts but turned it into little apricot hand pies! In the cupboard I had a jar of all fruit apricot jelly and the dough came together quickly. The ingredients are easy enough to find a specialty store like Whole Foods, they can also be found online. It’s a short list of ingredients and simple steps. The dough rolls out like a dream, after getting it properly mixed, and bakes up nicely. The final product was moist crust filled with gooey apricot jelly. I used a small drinking glass to cut circles and used a fork to seal the edges a bit. No special equipment is needed and this would be a great baking project to make with kids.

It was a great week of food. On top of these recipes I made simple meals of protein (salmon, chicken, lamb) and lots of veggies, smoothies daily to get enough greens, and soup and salad to take to lunch. Not too much effort but lots of variety and great flavor. I can’t wait for this week, who knows what I will cook up then!

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Orange Greencicle Smoothie

1 Banana

2 Oranges or Tangerines Juiced

3 Cups Greens – Chard is mild and works well in this!

1/4 Cup Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup Water

Handful of Ice Cubes

Throw all together into your blender and buzz that baby up! Feel free to add more water or coconut milk if needed. It tastes a bit like oranges and cream to me! Drink to your health!

Stop Chasing Healing, Embrace Living

As I finish up my second week fully committed to the Autoimmune Protocol, a modified version of the Paleo diet (caveman diet). I find myself reflecting on what I have accomplished. It is not easy to make changes, and it takes determination to be sure those changes really happen. I couldn’t imagine following the autoimmune protocol even 5 years ago. I was a heavy drinker, vegetarian and loved baking bread with my kitchenaide mixer. It wasn’t until I started getting sick that I realized the path I was on wasn’t getting me anywhere.

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I spent the past 3 years taking every supplement the books/websites/friends suggested. I started eating meat, and I went gluten-free. I constantly flip-flopped around from restriction to restriction and never felt relief. I would begin to heal and my digestion issues would flare up, and once I got my digestion under control (somewhat) my skin would flare. Feeling thankful that my Psoriasis remained on my scalp, and then it started to appear down the side of my leg. While thinking these therapies were helping, they were more than likely making it worse.

While I don’t take prescriptions often, I was taking a cocktail of supplements each day, on top of multiple homeopathic, and herbal tinctures. I was studying these things to some degree but taking them all together – I couldn’t tell what was helping. Telling myself that they were natural and suggested by reliable sources.. I became a pill popper. Going on vacation, or away for a day or 2, and I had to have at least 6 different pills and a couple herbal tinctures. I couldn’t control my health it seemed and the pills and herbs made me feel like I could. IMG_1621

I would avoid certain foods for a week then go to a social gathering and feel obligated to cheat. I battled depression, stress, anxiety. I was losing my mind. Completely resigned to a life of torment and pain. Never waking up feeling great and never healing.

When they say you have to hit rock bottom, I can from experience say it’s true. There at the bottom of my spiritual well I gave in. I looked all my misery and pain in the face and I wasn’t afraid. There in my dark hole I began to see what this struggle was teaching me, and how it was making me a better person. It was there in that moment that I truly began to heal. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically.

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I gained a sense of clarity and all the research I had gathered on my sickness pointed the way. I have a long way to go. I know now that I have the strength and the courage, because it’s what my condition gave me as a gift. I couldn’t have accomplished 2 full weeks of AIP without it.

I have been so busy cooking, working, and trying to get things together for the holidays, that I have not created any new recipes! To my delight there are so many online and in cookbooks that I have been able to cook without stress. AIP baking is a breeze so far, I love fruits and vegetables, and have found that a giant smoothie daily really helps me get in my greens!

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will have more recipe review posts and some photos of foods I have made. It has only been 2 weeks but I already have less inflammation in my sinuses and don’t wake up horribly congested. My skin is still in rough shape, most outbreaks take at least 6 weeks, and I was diagnosed with a second condition. Interstitial cystitis, chronic inflammation of the bladder. I remain hopeful. There are many amazing people out there who have taken back their health eating this way and I intend to be one of them.

Nightshade Free Ketchup

Nightshade Free Ketchup