Rough day calls for an easy dinner

Today has been rough. Loads of fatigue. I basically only peeled myself off the couch to make sure my kid was fed. On days like today, if it ain’t easy, it ain’t happenin’. But with the right things in the fridge, throwing something kid friendly and healthy together is simple and easy.

Grassfed, uncured hot dogs, pickles (the only ones I can find that don’t have yellow #5 added ūüôĄ) wrapped in Applegate Black Forest ham. Microwaved broccoli. Baby spinach saut√©ed in pork lard. Cinnamon carrots cooked in Kerrygold butter. And, of course, avocado.

Perfect alternative to sugar loaded ketchup.

Not your usual hotdog. Applegate is a great, easily accessible brand that I trust for convenience foods like lunch meat and uncured bacon.

This is so sad, but this is literally the ONLY brand of pickles I’ve been able to find at the grocery store that doesn’t contain yellow #5. And they’re literally the exact same color as regular pickles. So silly. ūü§¶ūüŹľ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

Stuffed Avocados

I’m venturing back into the paleo-ish world and y’all- it’s so much easier to be paleo now than it was 6 years ago. Publix has coconut aminos! Whattttt??? Plus all these dressings and marinades. I’m stoked!

Recent health struggles have reminded me that I can’t out-supplement a bad diet, so while I don’t plan to be as strict as I was back in 2013, I know my body functions best when I’m following Paleo principles. So this was dinner last night…

Spring mix greens and avocados (stuffed with mushrooms, onions, and garlic sautéed in pork lard) drizzled in paleo ranch. Roasted red peppers, grapes, and 2 fried eggs, over medium.

Simple. Fast. Yum.

Day 2, and Why I Do Paleo

In conversations with friends, there have been lots of questions about the specifics of this fast. What does “paleo” really mean (other than eating a bunch of meat like a caveman) and why subject myself to something so restrictive? And why only liquids on Wednesdays?

So let me try to explain some of that here.

I’m not going to go into how the paleo diet helps to heal/manage autoimmune disease. There’s a lot of resources out there that explain it well. In my opinion, one of the best available is The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne. Here’s a link to the kindle edition where you can “try a sample” and see what I’m talking about. http://www.amazon.com/The-Paleo-Approach-Reverse-Autoimmune-ebook/dp/B00I44JHTE

From my own experience and working with an integrative doctor on my healing process, I know that my body has a hard time processing toxins. I know that the proteins in wheat and dairy can cross react with the molecular structure (or whatever) of my own cells and confuse my overzealous immune system. I know that my body is sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar, and this is exacerbated when I consume caffeine. And even though I rarely experience digestive discomfort, I know the root of my most serious health concerns lies in what’s happening in my belly.

Paleo helps alleviate these issues. Consuming only liquids during the day on Wednesdays will give my digestive system even more of a break so healing can take place more quickly. But this part has spiritual implications as well. The idea is that in denying physical desires, and focusing on things of the spirit, one can weaken the flesh (sinful nature) and strengthen the spirit. I believe this concept can easily be taken too far, and I don’t believe that fasting brings anyone closer to God. But I think it’s a helpful tool to use as I work on growing more mature in my faith.

I don’t intend to get too deep into the prayer part on this blog, but I can tell you, on day 2 of this fast, God is already making moves on my heart. He’s digging into my perceptions of my role as a mom, and drawing some pretty interesting correlations between my relationship with my daughter and His relationship with me. Heavy stuff, but so, so good.

I also do not intend to post every morsel of food that I put in my mouth (as I have in the past). It’s time consuming and unnecessary. But I do want to show a realistic view of how to execute a healing diet, and keep myself accountable, so I’ll post as many of those meals as I can. I’m making very little effort on presentation these days, so the food may not be pretty, but it’ll be paleo.

For example, breakfast… 2 eggs fried in uncured bacon grease over raw, fermented sauerkraut, with bananas and a chai latte (with almond milk). Nothing fancy there. But it’s quick, and it works.

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This soup, however, is pretty impressive. It doesn’t look like much. But it’s freakin’ delicious. And gets even better over time as it sits in the fridge- kinda like chili. It’s a Thai-ish chicken noodle soup.

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Saut√© onions, garlic, and ginger in coconut oil at the bottom of a soup pot. Pour in some coconut aminos (paleo version of soy sauce) and fish sauce (Red Boat brand is good). Then add chicken stock, carrots, celery, and chicken. After a while, add coconut milk and tons of fresh herbs- whatever you’ve got. I used cilantro, thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary. When you’ve got about 20 minutes left of cooking time, add a bag of kelp noodles. They’re super nutritious and are a perfect grain free noodle option in any Asian-inspired dish. In the last 5 min, add lime juice, zest, and my secret, unnecessary, but super delicious ingredient- a drop or 2 of lemongrass essential oil (therapeutic grade, like Young Living). While I’m sure any medicinal qualities of the oil were probably cooked out, it really gave the soup a fresh, unique flavor.

I only ate 2 official meals today, but probably consumed about 700 calories in Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. By the spoonful. Right out of the jar. That stuff is ridiculous.

What I’ve been eating (when I’m not eating crap)

Despite my best efforts at sticking to strict paleo, my emotional wounds have called for emotional eating. As these wounds slowly begin healing, I find it easier to take better care of my health. But it’s a process and I have to go easy on myself. So I’m not going to post the photos of the crap I’ve eaten lately (delicious and sometimes very well made, high quality crap- just not good for my body and physical healing process). This “crap” has included KFC, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell; cupcakes and snack food at parties; midnight PB&J’s (though I often use sunflower butter and organic jam); Keebler cookies and Quaker granola bars; and whatever I feel like eating at social functions and when out at restaurants with friends.

I quickly destroy all evidence of “bad” food- receipts, wrappers, etc. But here is some evidence of good, healing foods I’ve been eating.

Grass-fed beef burger on a bed of Bubbie’s sauerkraut, topped with all the usual suspects (organic mustard and ketchup, homemade paleo mayo- recipe below). A big slice of tomato and a blob of guacamole. All on a butter lettuce “bun”.

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Tomato slices topped with mustard, Applegate ham, and chopped fresh basil, broiled until warm, juicy, and delicious.

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Homemade dried fruit. (Thanks, Mom, for the dehydrator!) Apples, strawberries, bananas, and peaches. This stuff is seriously like candy.

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Grassfed meatballs with ketchup, sauerkraut, guac, and a boiled egg. With a side of Brussels sprouts and olives. This was one of those random “pull things out of the fridge and make a meal out of it” dinners.

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Lunch with my munchkin. Applegate, uncured, grass-fed beef hot dog with ketchup, sauerkraut, and the only pickle I could find without yellow #4. The carrots are also pickled. And a cup of unsweetened applesauce to balance all that saltiness.

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Tuna-avocado boats with carrots. The tuna salad has sauerkraut and homemade paleo mayo, which is super easy to make and tastes soooo much better than store bought. Just make sure you’re using high quality eggs. Bring all ingredients to room temp, then blend 2 eggs, juice of a lemon, and a tablespoon of mustard in a blender. While blending, drizzle in avocado (or olive, or coconut, or whatever’s healthy) oil until it “sets up”. You’ll know when that happens. So yummy.

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And homemade veal jerky. I got the recipe from Eat Like a Dinosaur by the Paleo Parents. Fantastic cookbook with an illustrated story for kids to help explain the whys behind eating paleo, and each recipe is kid-friendly with lots of tips on how they can help in the kitchen. Munchkin loves helping cook (and eat) dinosaur food.

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I’m still kickin’!

After successfully weaning off of prednisone in late October 2013, some things in my personal life began falling apart. By January, I was in such a desperate place emotionally that I could barely eat at all, much less follow a healthy diet. My health hasn’t been great, but it’s been tremendously better than what I experienced last year, despite eating almost exclusively dairy and gluten (comfort foods!) for months. That all came crashing down a couple of weeks ago when a minor throat infection landed me in the hospital overnight. It was a wake up call. I’d also recently been having pretty consistent upset stomachs. Clearly, I’ve destroyed the progress I’d made healing my gut in 2013, and it’s time to get back at it, regardless of my still fluctuating emotional state.

After all my research and experimentation last year, I learned that the Paleo diet works best for my individual goals and issues. Specifically, I credit the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for finally helping me get off that horrific steroid that everyone loves to hate. As my health situation is not as dire as it was last year, I am going to ease back into this by eating squeaky clean Paleo for 3 weeks and seeing how things go. I started 5 days ago, and have already noticed improvements. Several months ago, I developed a strange rash near each eye on my upper cheeks. It’s been there for months. Five days on Paleo and it’s completely gone. Also, no more upset stomach.

Here are some examples of what I’ve been eating.

Breakfast usually consists of lots of bacon (Applegate Farms uncured), fruit, and chai tea with almond milk.

This morning, it was Applegate chicken and apple sausage and lots of cherries.

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Lunch usually involves leftovers, Applegate lunch meat or grass-fed hot dogs, or tuna/salmon salad with homemade paleo mayo (2 eggs, juice of half a lemon, dab of mustard- all room temp and whirled in blender while drizzling in avocado or olive oil until it “sets up”) and raw sauerkraut (as pictured below) with olives, tomatoes, and basil leaves.

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Coming off of several months of eating mostly simple starches and sugar, I’m having to satisfy those cravings with Paleo-friendly treats. Hopefully, over time, they’ll become less necessary.

My daughter has dubbed this “banana swirl”. Frozen bananas with a bit of almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, topped with cinnamon. Yum! Instant paleo ice cream.

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And I got a super simple chocolate coconut pudding recipe from a friend (1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight and only use the cream that collects on top, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder) and topped it with fried bananas. The bananas were fried in grass-fed butter, my one dairy allowance.

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It’s good to be back. Not sure how consistent I’ll be, but I’m ready to start taking care of myself again. Is there really any other choice?

Recovering! (and a confession)

Feeling much, much better. Totally back to normal. Getting to bed early (even if I don’t sleep very well through the night) has made a big difference in how quickly I heal and how well I feel during the day. Baby girl has had a cold, so it’s kind of like sleeping with a sniveling piglet who bonks me over the head with her sippy cup in the middle of the night and randomly whines in her sleep… “But I toldddddd Mommy I wanted some grapesssss. She faileddddddd meeeeeee.” Not really a prime sleep environment. Plus, considering that I’m still recovering from that last flare, I haven’t had high expectations for my energy levels during the day. But they’ve been really strong. Cleaned the whole house on Wednesday (after being sick for so long, it was disgusting!), got baby girl off to school Thursday and wore her out at the playground later in the afternoon, and so far today, I’ve made a big batch of lamb/veal/grass-fed beef patties to freeze, along with making breakfast for the family. Don’t know what the afternoon will have in store for us, but I don’t expect I’ll need a nap.

Now that I can eat again, here’s what I’ve been eating…

Made an organic (but not grass-fed) beef pot roast on Wednesday. Lots of carrots, onions, celery, garlic, herbs, and some chopped bacon for extra fat and flavor. Served it topped with homemade kraut, or on a bed of mashed cauliflower. Or on a bed of cauliflower topped with kraut…

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One thing I’ve been suffering from is lack of convenient, portable, AIP compliant snack foods. I love Larabars, but no nuts on AIP makes them a no-go for now. So I made a variation using unsweetened dried coconut and dried figs. Had to add a bit of cinnamon and honey for flavor, but they turned out great. Blended everything up in the food processor, then mashed into the bottom of a small plastic container to form them into bars. Wrapped in snack size zip-lock bags, and done! Portable snack. AIP friendly.

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And for breakfast this morning, I made sweet potato “nests” topped with an egg for my husband and daughter. No eggs for me on AIP, so I just had an eggless nest with raw kraut and 2 of the delicious lamb/veal/grass-fed beef patties I’d just made. (Sorry, ate half a patty before remembering to take a pic.) That stuff floating around on top of my orange juice is fermented cod liver oil- one of the few supplements I’m taking these days. It sounds disgusting (and it is if you try to take it straight), but mixed in some juice, you can hardly tell it’s there. My 3-year-old drinks it like this with no problem.

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Ok. Confession time. Wednesday was my first day eating solid food after nearly a week of liquids (see previous post). My mouth was still hurting, and no matter what I ate I still felt hungry. I think my blood sugar was out of whack after not eating for so long. I’d been walking past my daughter’s bucket of Halloween candy daily, with no desire to eat any of that processed, fake, GMO-laden, glutenized, unnaturally colored and preserved, poisonous junk. But something happened on Wednesday. Something changed. I had to have it. I was like a junkie. Hiding from my kid, hunkered down next to the garbage can in the kitchen.

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I ate four pieces. The ones pictured above, plus a snack sized bag of skittles. Well, not the ACTUAL ones pictured above. At the time, there was no thought of picture-taking or blogging. In fact, I was more concerned with hiding the evidence. From who? I don’t know. But understand, I view this stuff as poison and honestly believe that it heavily contributes to the disease I am fighting. But I could. not. stop. myself.

It’s now been two days, and I haven’t had any immediate reactions. Though I don’t know how it might affect my long-term healing (gluten exposure can take months to get out of your system). At any rate, this reinforced the importance of blood sugar regulation to control cravings. And reminded me that “if it’s in the house, I WILL eat it.” It’s not a matter of willpower. It’s a matter of setting yourself up for success. That candy would not normally have been tempting for me, but given the unique combination of factors that were beyond my control, I was left with an insatiable craving for sugar, calories, and fat that was impossible to deny in that moment.

So now, I move on. I wish I hadn’t eaten that crap, but I understand why I did. And I’m grateful there were no immediately noticeable consequences. And now the candy is put away in an inaccessible spot where we will all probably forget about it until next Halloween. At which point it will still be perfectly fresh. Ugh! That’s disgusting. ūüėČ

A Challenging Flare

Part of me hoped weaning off prednisone would lead to a newly balanced system that minimized my flares. Not so fast. Getting off prednisone was a huge accomplishment, but I’ve still got a mountain of healing to do before I’ll experience remission.

The small oral lesions that I mentioned in my last post turned out to be a bigger problem than I originally anticipated. Located on the bottom of my tongue (one on each side) they developed into nickel/quarter sized lesions, along with a few smaller ones scattered throughout my mouth and a mess of thrush on top of my tongue. By Thursday evening, I could no longer eat solid foods. By Friday, even pudding was impossible to eat. Because my tongue is so swollen, I can’t chew food without biting into my tongue. And because it takes up so much room in my mouth (and hurts) it’s not functioning the way it should in terms of helping to move food to the back of my mouth and helping me swallow. So everything needs to be pur√©ed smoothly, and then thinned out with enough liquid so that it flushes easily to the back of my throat and can be swallowed. Add to all of this the attempt to stay AIP compliant (which, obviously becomes a secondary concern at this point) and the fact that I haven’t been to the grocery store in a while and do not have the energy to go now, and daily nourishment becomes a pretty ginormous challenge.

It’s been 5 days since it got too bad to eat. I’ve lost some weight (down to 115, at 5′ 7″, wayyyy too skinny for me). But I can tell things are healing and it won’t be long before I’ll be able to eat normally again. In the meantime, this is what I’ve been surviving on:

Pur√©ed soup. It doesn’t look like much, but was really delicious (and super nutritious) for me, considering my condition. It had rich bone broth (which I’ve been drinking constantly on it own as well, every day) carrots, onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and rosemary. All blended up and then thinned out with more bone broth until it was a consistency I could handle. I drank the whole bowl and most of the big mug pictured. Even drinking is a messy, painful, and time consuming venture, but I know I got a lot of nutrition out of this one. Plus, my sickness has no impact on my hunger. I’m starving, and I can feel it. It’s just a matter of getting nourishment past the “zombie tongue”.

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This was a pur√©ed can of “lite” pears. So it does contain some sugar, as in the processed white stuff they use in conventional canning. This was a can leftover from back before I was as conscious about it as I am now, but since we were out of applesauce, I was glad to have it. It also expired yesterday, so it needed to be eaten or thrown out. (When a canned good expires, you know it’s probably time to go. It was likely purchased in, say, 2009?) Anyway, I blended it up, juices and all, and sprinkled on some cinnamon. Really yummy.

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As things are healing, I’m able to tolerate slightly denser food. This is a very ripe banana mixed with a tablespoon of coconut butter for extra fat. It was really delicious, but really painful to eat.

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And this morning I was able to eat guacamole quite easily. I got some fresh parsley from the garden, and zested in some lime (no juice, as that would be EXTREMELY painful- I’d probably pass out!) and thinned it out with some coconut kefir.

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I’m excited that I’ll probably be able to eat some thicker consistencies today. Definitely going to do some smoothies and puddings. And I think I’ll be eating solids by tomorrow. Yay!

The other thing that has been really hard about this particular flare is that it has made talking extremely difficult and painful. My 3-year-old is a big talker and has lots of questions, which I have not been able to respond to for days. If she needs discipline, I cannot discipline her. Giving her direction involves snapping my fingers, pointing, and hoping she figures out what I’m telling her to do. Thank goodness I’ve had LOADS of support from my husband and mother-in-law this week, and they have taken care of all her needs, leaving me free to rest and heal and figure out what to feed myself. I’m very grateful. Without their help, I would not be healing as quickly as I am.

I should be back to normal in a few days, but I thought it was important to document some of what I’m going through right now. I’m hopeful for the day this kind of thing will be far in my past. But for now, this is my life. And it’s just something I have to go through. I’m ok with that.

What I’ve Been Eatin’

Today has been a long day. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been getting to sleep early enough the past few days, and it’s caught up to me. I have several oral lesions and I’m exhausted. I’d call it a mini flare. I’m still able to eat normal foods, it just takes a bit more time and effort. Planning on knocking out early tonight. Hoping that’ll jumpstart the healing process.

Here’s what I’ve been eating lately:

Coconut butter is a new discovery for me. The Artisana brand is super delicious and way smoother than what I can make in my own food processor. Spread it on some pear slices- fantastic AIP snack.

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This was breakfast, but it would work any time of day. Saut√©ed sweet potatoes with garlic and spinach, and my very own AIP meatloaf patties. I always make a double batch and freeze extras for quick meals when I’m tired or rushed (or sick). Love ’em!

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This was my plate of food from a recent party. I brought a salmon salad for me and a dish of roasted garlicky broccoli to share so I’d be sure to have something to eat. But it turned out that there was more food that was AIP compliant at the party. My husband’s grandfather made a delicious baked yuca dish, and my mother-in-law smoked a brisket (she only used a tenderizer on it, which wasn’t ideal for my diet, but not a huge deviation from it). It was soooo delicious. And really fun to enjoy eating with a large group (without having my own “special” food). There was a lot at the party that I couldn’t eat, but I was full on this stuff. So it didn’t matter.

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I’ve been having this for breakfast most mornings. AIP meatloaf patties made into an actual meatloaf, alongside mashed cauliflower or fermented cabbage (pictured here). And a big ol’ mug of bone broth.

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This works as a snack or light lunch alongside a smoothie. Smoked salmon and olive rolls. The brand of smoked salmon that I use (Echo Falls) has only wild caught salmon, salt, and natural hardwood smoke as ingredients.

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Off to bed! Hope the little one cooperates!

Pumpkin Pie, Y’all! (and an awesome AIP pie crust)

We went to the pumpkin patch yesterday to get our pumpkin. Last year, I discovered that I am a masterful pumpkin carver. Seriously. I am. Our jack-o-lantern had my daughter’s name for a mouth. I think I’m gonna have to dig up a picture to prove how awesome it was. Yes, yes I am. ¬†Here it is.

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Anyway, she’s been obsessed with having pumpkin pie ever since we got home from the pumpkin patch. So I decided to come up with a version that was delicious and compliant with the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, so that we could enjoy it together.

One of my favorite new ingredients that I’m finding to be extremely versatile is the plantain. Green plantains make yummy chips or tostones, yellow ones are delicious baked or fried in coconut oil. Green plantains are a great binder for savory dishes, such as this recipe for AIP meatloaf. Super ripe, black plantains are great for sweet dishes, such as this AIP friendly pancake recipe. So when I was trying to decide what to use for the crust, and just happened to have an almost completely black plantain in the pantry, I knew I had to try it.

I’ve also been making a lot of homemade coconut milk using unsweetened dried coconut, and saving the “milked” coconut in the freezer. Today I blended some of that back in with a bit of coconut oil and honey to make a pretty close approximation of coconut butter. Mixing this “coconut butter” with the mashed plantain made a perfect pie crust. And Little Miss got to help! She’s a great plantain masher and crust spreader.

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We baked the crust for 40 minutes in a 375 oven until it was brown and toasty. I love how the ridges left by spreading it with a fork toasted up, making it crispy and flaky, like a conventional pie crust.

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Then we made and poured on this recipe for pumpkin pudding. It seemed a bit runny at first, but after chilling in the fridge overnight, the gelatin set and gave a nice, pumpkin pie texture.

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Time to cut into it and see if it holds up like pumpkin pie… It does! Beautiful!

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But something’s missing. I can’t pass up the chance to whip up some super-easy, wholesome chocolate sauce! Spoonful of carob powder and a splash of pure maple syrup, and…. Voila!

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Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m having a big slice with a cup of tea. So perfect.

Here’s the recipe for the crust.

Ingredients:
1 super-duper ripe almost completely black plantain (blacker=sweeter)
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 tablespoons raw, local honey (this brand is ok, but local is always better)
Pinch of himilayan sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions:
Have the nearest toddler mash the plantain with a fork. You may need to help with the big chunks. They will want to use their hands. Let them. Then mix in the coconut butter, honey, and salt, continuing to mash the plantain to get it smoother and smoother. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth, just not totally lumpy.

Grease a pie plate with the coconut oil, then spread the crust mixture into the pan as evenly as possible, filling in any holes. Bake in a 375 oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and toasty.

Let the crust cool completely, meanwhile blend up this recipe for pumpkin pudding. Pour over the pie crust when it is completely cool. You will have some extra pudding leftover, so have some dishes available to put it in. I love these little plastic containers for pudding. They’re bpa-free, and perfectly sized for a single serving. ¬†They remind me of the super convenient pudding cups at the grocery store. But by making your own, you can avoid the sugar, modified corn starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and artificial flavors. And that’s the one that doesn’t have any high fructose corn syrup or preservatives! Ugh. Disgusting.

Anyway, let the pie sit overnight in the fridge, and by morning, you’ll have a delicious, healthy pumpkin pie! ¬†Yay!

Double Chocolate Pudding (with hidden pumpkin and avocado)

My kid loves chocolate, and she loves a good pudding (as long as it’s smooth, not “bumpy,” such as the tapioca-like chia pudding I often made before eliminating seeds on AIP). She loved a chocolate pudding I made a while back using avocado. I’ve long since lost the recipe, but thought I’d try a variation on it today. I also love sneaking veggies and super-nutrition into baby girl’s “treats”.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make that chocolate sauce again, anyway. Turned out awesome.

Double Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

The pudding-
2 avocados
1 can of organic, BPA free pumpkin
1 tablespoon coconut butter
2 tablespoons raw, local honey
2 tablespoons cocoa (or carob powder for AIP compliance)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Pinch of salt

The sauce-
Equal parts pure maple syrup and cocoa (or carob) powder, mixed together until smooth. (May need to sift the powder to avoid lumps- mine was still kinda lumpy).

Blend all pudding ingredients together until smooth. Top with the chocolate sauce.

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My first original recipe: AIP Meatloaf Patties

Grass-fed or pastured meat patties are a staple in the Autoimmune Paleo world. ¬†Even given the severe restrictions of the diet, there are lots of options for seasoning and enhancing a meat patty. ¬†Herbs, veggies, non-nightshade and non-seed spices. ¬†So I found it frustrating when the first couple of recipes I followed didn’t turn out that great. ¬†Sure, I may have overcooked one batch a bit, but I am far from a perfectionist in the kitchen. ¬†Perfection is just never going to happen for me. ¬†Sometimes, the oven timer goes off and I don’t get there to take out whatever’s baking until half an hour later. ¬†Thank goodness my oven automatically shuts off when the time’s up, otherwise I probably would’ve burned the house down by now. ¬†But my point is, grass-fed ground beef is typically leaner and seems to be slightly more finicky than conventional meat, meaning a few minutes overdone yields a rock hard meat patty. ¬†But there is a very simple, and extremely nutritious solution… add tons of veggies! ¬†Finely diced onions, grated carrots and zucchini, minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, pureed squash or plantain… anything that has it’s own moisture will impart all that nutritious juicy-ness to the meat patty, whether it’s a hamburger, a breakfast sausage, or a meat loaf. ¬†This revelation led me to create my first original recipe. ¬†I guess it’s not TOTALLY original, because the foundation for the tomato sauce ingredients came from Against All Grain’s Tomato-less Meat Sauce Recipe. ¬†Once I figured out how to make a nightshade free “tomato” sauce, adding it to the meat patties along with a plantain “binder” (since I can’t use eggs or any type of breadcrumbs) to make it all taste like tomatoey meatloaf goodness was just intuitive. ¬†So, without further ado….

Autoimmune Paleo Friendly Meatloaf Patties (can also be made into muffins or an actual meatloaf, just increase cooking time)

Ingredients:

1 small or 1/2 large beet

2 carrots

1 green plantain

4 cloves garlic

1 onion, chopped

1 pound of grass-fed ground beef

salt to taste

 

Directions:

For the “tomato” sauce, add the beet, carrots, plantain, garlic, and salt to a vitamix or other high powered blender or food processor. ¬†Process at low speeds, using the tamper tool (or stopping to scrape down the sides often) to get all bits incorporated. ¬†Some small chunks are OK.

Mix the sauce with the ground beef and chopped onion. ¬†I use my hands. ¬†There’s just no easier way to get it all mixed in. ¬†The mixture should be very moist. ¬†

Form into 12 patties and place on a cookie sheet or muffin pan.  Bake at 415 for 40 minutes.  (or 350 for about an hour, or 400 for 40 minutes, or any of these temperatures and times and then just let them sit when the timer goes off until you can finish cleaning the pee off the floor from your potty training toddler and hopefully remember to wash your hands before removing your dinner from the oven).  You could also easily cook them in a frying pan on the stovetop.  No matter what you do, these patties will be moist and yummy!

Serve on a bed of mashed cauliflower with a side of broccoli, or on a bed of salad greens with a side of sweet potato fries… or for breakfast along with a green smoothie. ¬†Here it is on spring mix salad greens with rutabaga fries. This is my comfort food. ¬†Mmmmmmm.

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If you don’t like beets, this is a great way to sneak them in. ¬†My husband hates beets. ¬†I don’t get it. ¬†They’re sweet and earthy and delicious. ¬†But I know they take some getting used to, and apparently some people, like my husband, don’t ever get used to them. ¬†But he gobbled up these meatloaf patties and wanted more. ¬†I don’t think he even realized there were beets in there. ¬†Beets are an AMAZINGLY nutritious vegetable and have LOADS of health benefits. ¬†Check out this link for reasons to work beets into your diet.¬† Along with the carrots and plantain, these patties become extremely nutrient dense. ¬†And you don’t even feel like you’re eating a vegetable! ¬†Can’t beat that! ¬†

Going strong on Autoimmune Paleo Protocol

It finally feels like autumn around here. My daughter got to wear her winter boots and a hoodie to school this morning. Though I’m sure she’ll be sweating in those boots by this afternoon, this little taste of what’s to come is nice. (Baby Girl (3 years old) is convinced all the leaves on the trees will fall off by tonight. That doesn’t happen around here until, oh, maybe January?) At any rate, I am happily blogging from our hammock on the back porch- with a blanket! Lovely!

I have been feeling really, really good. Not amazing. But really good. I have been nearly 100% compliant on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. I accidentally ingested nightshade extracts in the ham I was eating. And there are flax and chia seeds in one of the detox supplements I’m taking this week. But I’m ok with that for now. I intend to follow AIP until I stop getting lesions, or for 3 months (which would be until January- right through the holiday season- eeek!) whichever comes first.

My recent focus has been on getting better sleep- higher quality and more of it. I’ve come to realize that, as I continue to heal, I really need closer to 12 hours of sleep per night. That may not always be possible, but I need a bare minimum of 10, and need to get as close to 12 as often as possible. Considering that I have historically slept about 7-8 hours a night, I’m looking at potentially 5 fewer hours of consciousness each day. That seems nuts! But I’m hoping my increased energy and more vibrant health will help me be more productive during the 12 hours I’m awake, so no one will notice that I sleep all the time.

Last night was the first night I accomplished this goal. I’ve been working toward it for weeks, but with a co-sleeping 3 year old who vehemently dislikes being unconscious, it’s been tricky. What I’ve done to make this happen: eliminate her afternoon naps, start dinner earlier (5:30/6), and start our bedtime routine earlier so that we are in bed, reading a book before 8pm. Lights are out at 8, and we listen to e-audiobooks that I download free from the library. We are currently listening to the first Harry Potter book. Baby Girl also loves the Fancy Nancy series, which is fantastic (“which is a fancy word for great”) for building her vocabulary. I’ve also eliminated all nightlights, so we are sleeping in near-total darkness. (I’m basically still afraid of the dark, so this was a big step for me. It was no problem for the toddler. Lol). We have been working backwards from our previous typical bedtime of 11pm/12am. So this is kinda huge. Last night, we were in bed and read 3 books before 8pm. Lights were out by 8 and we were asleep by 8:30. I did wake up a few times during the night, but was able to go back to sleep rather quickly. We didn’t wake up until 7:30 this morning, so that’s 11 full hours of glorious sleep. And I feel great! Over the past couple of days, I’ve been dealing with a few lurking lesions and thrush- all of which were significantly diminished overnight. I need more of this amazingly effective disease treatment! And it’s free!

A few other things I’m doing that I believe are helping in the sleep arena… I’ve been taking a calcium/magnesium supplement forever, but I recently started using topical magnesium oil. This stuff burns when I spray it on my body, so I’m only using it on my feet and covering with socks a few nights per week, but I think that, along with a few Epsom salt baths per week, is really boosting my magnesium levels. And magnesium is extremely important for relaxing muscles and inducing healthy sleep patterns.

I stopped taking all my regular supplements this week except pregnenolone, and added in a 7-day detox formula from Garden of Life. I haven’t changed anything else about how I’m eating because AIP is restrictive enough and I can’t risk losing any weight. I’m just trying to stay really well hydrated and doing more Epsom/baking soda baths to assist with toxin elimination.

And this is some of what I’ve been eating this week:

Bananas, pears, and kiwi topped with the most delicious homemade coconut yogurt. (Coconut cream from 2 refrigerated bpa free cans of coconut milk, mixed with 2-3 good probiotic capsules and cultured in an “off” oven with the light on for 24 hours). Super easy and so rich and tangy!

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What I thought was a great AIP breakfast. (Darn those sneaky nightshade extracts that contaminated my ham!) Applegate Naturals ham, roasted asparagus, and avocado with a salty mug of chicken bone broth (very healing for the gut).

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One of my new favorite snacks: smoked salmon (beware of ingredients!) with coconut yogurt and capers. There was some sugar listed on the salmon ingredients, but from what I understand, the sugar is mostly eliminated during the curing process. And that was the only questionable ingredient in this brand. I checked several other brands and they all had funky stuff in them. I’ve thrown out the package now, but I’ll post more info on this next time I get more smoked salmon.

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Nice AIP lunch… Applegate turkey (boo- carrageenan!) wrapped around homemade fermented carrots (yay- probiotics!) and avocado, with pear slices.

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Pan-fried tilapia (seasoned with only salt) on a mound of mashed cauliflower with a side of sweet, ripe plantains. Yum yum yum yum yum!

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Ingredients for delicious and seasonally appropriate pumpkin pudding. Super easy and AIP friendly. The only potentially tricky part is the gelatin. (This is not conventional store-bought gelatin by the way. ¬†You will NOT find this stuff next to the jell-o at Publix. ¬†Don’t eat that! ¬†This is grass fed and has no added nastiness.) Put all other ingredients in a blender. Put 1/2 tablespoon gelatin in 2 ounces of water and let it “bloom” for 5 minutes. Then add that to the blender as well. Blend everything until smooth, then pour into individual serving cups and refrigerate until “set” (a few hours or overnight). As you can see, it was a hit with my little one. I put these in her lunch for school as a treat, and I feel good about all the vitamins she’s getting from the pumpkin, the amino acids and protein from the gelatin, and the healthy fat from the coconut. And there’s nothing in this “treat” that would be likely to irritate her gut or compromise her immune system in any way (as is the case with most treats!). Totally win/win.

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I have been eating a LOT of canned tuna lately. It’s just so convenient. Good thing it’s wild, sustainably sourced, and BPA free. For this tuna salad, I was out of coconut yogurt, so I added some olive juice for flavor and moisture, along with some olives, chopped celery, and homemade fermented carrots. Turned out quite good. I put some on whole wheat bread for my husband and just ate mine plain with a fork.

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Something else I’ve been eating a LOT of lately- these AIP meatloaf patties. I’ll post more about these later, because this is my first notable, original recipe. Super exciting! It may be the only one I ever have, but it deserves it’s own post. Here I had them on a bed of greens with a side of rutabaga fries.

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And, finally, a recipe that was truly a revelation for me this week. I have scoured grocery and health food store shelves for a wholesome chocolate sauce. It may be out there, but I haven’t found it. During my flirtations with raw veganism, I found a recipe for chocolate sauce that was delicious, but a bit complicated and time consuming for something that I would only enjoy on occasion, and even then, only a small bit at a time. I saw this combination as part of a larger recipe and the lightbulb that went off in my head was blinding. I can’t believe I never thought of this!

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It’s so incredibly simple! I can’t have chocolate on AIP, so I had to use carob powder. But the potential variations are mouth-watering! I can’t wait to do a Mexican chocolate sauce: a little raw cacao, vanilla, and cinnamon mixed into that maple syrup. Wow! This sauce can be used as a topping or as a mix for hot chocolate or chocolate milk. This has opened up a whole new world for me. Still gotta be careful, because nobody wants the sugar rush that would follow too much maple syrup, but this will add an easy, decadent layer to lots of dishes.

Such as this one. Plantain pancakes topped with coconut cream and chocolate sauce. (Husband and kid went NUTS for these!) Two ripe (mostly black) plantains mashed up with cinnamon and fried (1/4 cup scoops) in coconut oil. Topped with unsweetened coconut cream and super sweet chocolate sauce. We had this for breakfast, but it really should be a dessert. It’s THAT decadent.

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Sorry for the crazy-long post! Now that I’m getting my energy back, I have a lot to say. Probably need to be posting daily to get it out in a more manageable format. I’ll work on that! ūüôā

The medical community’s odd view of health and an AIP version of an old favorite.

My husband and I took an online health assessment for our insurance company and got $100 each toward our HSA after speaking to someone over the phone about our assessment results. Part of the conversation I had with this person (the HealthMatters Professional, hereafter dubbed HP) struck me as funny.

HP: Do you limit your consumption of red meat?
Me: No.
HP: Do you limit your consumption of fatty foods?
Me: No.
HP: Do you limit your consumption of sugar?
Me: Yes.
HP: Do you eat 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day?
Me: Yes.
HP: Do you plan to take steps to improve your diet?
Me: Ummmm, based on my research, it doesn’t get much healthier than what I’m eating. So, no.

And then later, after explaining my hospitalization and struggle to get off medication and continuing struggle with autoimmune disease, the lady tells me, “Well, you’re obviously very healthy.” Ummmm, what? I constantly have lesions in my mouth that sometimes make it impossible to eat, I struggle with extreme exhaustion and debilitating feverish aches and painful skin sensitivity during flares. I was hospitalized for this condition in the not-too-distant past, and had a close call in the even-less-distant past and was only kept out of the hospital thanks to a quick thinking doctor and a high dose steroid injection. But I am “obviously” very healthy. What kind of standards are we using here? In what definition of “healthy” would that apply to me? This comment stood out to me because I’ve heard it before from my family doctor, the one who treated me in the hospital in January and gave me that high dose steroid injection a few months ago. Once I was beyond the crisis situation, he told me, “Well, you’re quite healthy. I don’t need to see you back until it’s time for your yearly physical.” Granted, I don’t want to see him for anything other than crisis situations and a yearly physical, but to say I’m healthy? Constantly on the brink of a physical melt down is healthy? I’m getting healthier every day and I’m certainly healthier than I would be if I wasn’t paying such close attention to what I put on and in my body. And I WILL be truly healthy soon. But I’m not there yet. And it blows my mind that conventional health professionals would consider me “healthy”. That’s just crazy.

Anyway, I’m still feeling pretty good on this 5th day sans prednisone. Had a moment this afternoon where exhaustion just hit me like a load of bricks and I had to stop what I was doing and go relax for a couple of hours. It was nap time for my daughter, so it worked out nicely, but I can’t wait for the day my adrenals and hormones are balanced and I have strong, steady energy from sun-up to sun-down.

Here’s what I’ve been eating…

Tuna salad (BPA free, wild caught tuna, raw sauerkraut, and homemade coconut yogurt) and garlicky plantain chips. Perfect dipping partners.

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Didn’t think it existed, but here’s an AIP compliant spaghetti and meat sauce. Without grains and nightshades, I thought our old staple would be inaccessible to me until my gut heals. This takes a little more work, but totally hits the spot left empty by Italian comfort food. I veered from the original recipe because I didn’t have some of the ingredients (and didn’t want to use butter or wine due to AIP restrictions) but you can see Against All Grain’s original recipe here.

Zucchini noodles made easy thanks to my handy-dandy spiralizer.

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Onions, garlic, carrots, and beets go into the pot with a bit of Applegate Farms ham. Then added lots of homemade chicken bone broth.

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It’s all pur√©ed with an immersion blender, then you add the meat (I used ground buffalo) and fresh herbs (I used sage, rosemary, and oregano from the garden). Throw in the noodles for the last few minutes of cooking, top with parsley, and voila…

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Super delicious AIP friendly spaghetti and meat sauce. (Non-paleo husband and kid approved.)

Taking on Full Autoimmune Paleo Protocol and dealing with a possible Herxheimer reaction

Feeling pretty good on this fourth day without prednisone. I have a few lesions, nothing major. But I do have quite a bit of thrush, which is odd. It’s nearly covering my entire tongue. This usually doesn’t happen unless I’m having a bad flare. The thrush on its own isn’t painful, just annoying. And I’m thinking it may be a reaction to detox, since I’ve been really strict on AIP the last few days. The last time I experienced thrush like this (without a bad flare) was when I did a 3 day juice cleanse. “Fuzzy tongue” is a pretty common side effect of detoxing. I think it has something to do with toxins released as bad bacteria and yeasts in the body die off. I’m surprised that this would happen to me, since AIP isn’t a huge jump from what I was already eating. But I guess it’s possible that nuts, seeds, eggs, and nightshades really were wrecking havoc in my system. I hope that’s the case, because it would mean I’ve found another big piece of the puzzle. Nuts, seeds, and eggs were also the mediums through which I ingested quite a bit of sugar (dates/honey) in the form of grain-free baked goods and (my favorite treat ever) date/nut “cookie dough” balls. Those changes may be starving the baddies in my gut of the sugar they thrive on. That would elicit some die-off, and might help explain the thrush.

I’ve gone full-AIP now. So in addition to the typical Paleo restrictions (no grains, legumes, or dairy) I’ve also eliminated nuts, seeds, eggs, and nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers). So what I DO eat is lots of fruit and vegetables, grass-fed beef, organic chicken (I don’t have access to pastured chicken right now), humanely raised pork, all with no nitrates/nitrites or preservatives, and now I CAN’T eat any pre-seasoned sausages, hot dogs, jerky, or deli meats since they almost always use spices derived from nightshades (like paprika). I am also eating lots of fish. I found some great BPA free and wild caught canned tuna and salmon. Plus, to avoid losing weight on this diet, I’m including lots of healthy fats: extra virgin coconut oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil (not for cooking, though- olive oil deteriorates quickly at high temps and becomes inflammatory and toxic). I’m hoping to work in some healthy animal fats from good sources (like lard) for cooking, but I haven’t tracked down those sources yet. And I’m not about to use conventional lard from the grocery store. Yuk!

PUMPKIN SOUP with COCONUT SOUR CREAM
I blended a can of organic, BPA free pumpkin pur√©e with some homemade bone broth (chicken stock) and a clove of garlic, in the vita-mix for about 7 minutes until it got hot. Super easy. The coconut sour cream is actually homemade coconut yogurt, but the taste works perfectly for this. I mixed the coconut cream from 3 refrigerated cans of organic coconut milk with a powdered kefir starter and left it in my oven with the light on for 24 hours. The oven is off during this process, but the light creates enough heat to facilitate the culturing activity of the probiotics. Once it’s refrigerated again, it’s thick, creamy, and tangy, and LOADED with probiotics. Blended with something sweet, it tastes like yogurt. On something savory, it tastes like sour cream. Either way, it’s delicious.

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That same coconut sour cream/yogurt worked beautifully in this tuna salad. I also mixed in some raw sauerkraut, making this dish a probiotic powerhouse. I would’ve loved to add some olives, but my daughter has decided that she doesn’t like them and we were sharing.

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These are allergy-free breakfast cookies from the Against All Grain cookbook. Bananas, applesauce, dates, coconut flour, plus dried fruits and spices. Good stuff.

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Applegate beef slices wrapped around my homemade fermented carrot sticks. Yum! And more probiotics! Now that I’m thinking about all the probiotics I’ve been eating, that could be another explanation for the Herxheimer (die-off) symptoms. Hopefully the good guys are crowding out the bad guys in my belly.

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Smoothie time! A banana, coconut milk (leftover from all that coconut cream), frozen blueberries, and 2 huge handfuls of spinach. Alongside some Applegate turkey slices, it makes for a satisfying AIP breakfast.

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The turkey slices do contain carrageenan, which weirds me out. But it’s certainly healthier than most other super-convenient protein options, and it doesn’t contain any nightshade spices, so I’m not going to worry about it for now.

Tapering Success!!! And setting new goals.

Well, yesterday was (potentially) my last day on prednisone. I say potentially because I am leaving the option open to take a mg or a half anytime this week if I feel like I need it. But, honestly, after what I’ve been through the past 3 months with the taper, I can’t imagine it getting bad enough that I can’t push through. Now it’s time to dig into some REAL healing.

My plan is to give myself a couple of weeks to adjust to life without prednisone. My adrenals are screwed up and I know my hormones are out of whack. I’m focusing on getting better quality sleep (and getting to sleep by 10pm). And working in some light exercise. We went kayaking (3 miles) yesterday, and though I passed out in the car on the way home, I didn’t feel particularly fatigued during the trip. And had enough energy later in the day to host a backyard movie night. Well, I didn’t do anything besides make some popcorn (which I didn’t eat), but just having the energy left to socialize after such a busy day is an improvement over the recent past.

We’ll see how the next couple of weeks go, but once I feel like my body is getting itself together again, I want to detox. Probably a modified AIP (autoimmune paleo) solid foods plus juice cleanse, with a 7 day detox supplement from Garden of Life. We’re on a super-tight grocery budget, so it might get tricky, but it should be doable. I’ll re-evaluate and determine new goals after that.

My goals have been so centered around getting off the medication. Now that I’m pretty much there, I already feel like I’m floundering a bit. (The pitfalls of being extremely goal-oriented.) My ultimate goal is complete, medication-free remission. But there will be a few more mini-goals between here and there. I’m just not sure what they should be. I need to make an appointment with my integrative doc. He’d probably be extremely helpful with this process.

At any rate, I’m EXTREMELY grateful and happy to be OFF OF PREDNISONE!!! And I feel like I dodged a bullet by avoiding the methotrexate all my conventional docs were pushing on me. Physically, I feel pretty good. Having a minor flare that’s been going on since last week, but it’s nothing compared to what has been the “norm” over the past 3 months. It’s barely worth mentioning.

Here’s some examples of what I’ve been eating lately.

A quick, one-pan, AIP dinner: tilapia and Brussels sprouts with red onion, lots of garlic and lemon juice.

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Organic chicken sausage (non-AIP), yummy kale chips, and sautéed sweet potatoes. (This was breakfast. Yeah- since eliminating eggs, grains, nuts, and seeds, breakfast looks a little different. Takes some getting used to.)

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Strawberry smoothie with coconut cream. (Totally fills in for the strawberry frappuccinos with whipped cream that I used to consume in a former life.) The smoothie has frozen strawberries, homemade coconut milk and coconut kefir (awesome probiotics!), and dates. The coconut cream is the cream from the top of a refrigerated can of organic coconut milk mixed with a scant tablespoon of agave nectar. It’s denser than whipped cream, so a lot of it sinks into the smoothie. But I bet if I made the smoothie thicker (with more strawberries or by adding ice) more of the cream would sit on top.

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And this has become one of our favorite salty crunchy snacks. My daughter loves these. She’d always get a little package of seaweed snacks when we’d go to the health food store. But they often have questionable added oils and some spices I may need to avoid on AIP. Plus they’re expensive! So I just get regular old nori sheets and fold them into smaller, snackable size squares.

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Now I’m off to get myself and my little one ready for bed. We have a strict bedtime! ūüėČ

AIP Breakfast and Dinner, plus a Buttermilk Pie Smoothie (vegan and AIP-friendly!)

I’m on day 2 of 1 mg prednisone. Getting so close to the end! Planning to drop to .5 mg next week by splitting the pills in half. No major issues so far this week, though it may still be too early to tell. I’ve been really tired (despite getting a full 8 hours of sleep, I’ve been taking 2 hour naps in the afternoons, too). My skin has been sensitive-feeling, and my bottom lip seems to be taking its time healing. But the inside of my mouth is in great shape. Only one tender spot. I can’t remember the last time my mouth was this healthy. Certainly before I started the taper, so it’s been months.

I have not been super-strict about following the AIP (autoimmune paleo) protocol, but I still feel like I’m experiencing some benefits. For one, I’m having less cravings for sweets. And when I do have sweets (such as the buttermilk pie smoothie below) I’m quickly satisfied with just a bit of sweet fruit, like bananas or grapes. There have been several occasions where I’ve added a small bit of honey to something out of habit, and then found it to be wayyyy too sweet. I know that prednisone can affect the body’s ability to properly process sugar, so that may be having an impact as well.

Here’s a recent AIP friendly breakfast we had. Beef breakfast patties with baked apple slices (baked in coconut oil with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom) topped with coconut cream (from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk, and mixed with a bit of vanilla and raw honey). Served with a mug of chicken bone broth (very healing to the gut with all those minerals and gelatin).

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And an AIP friendly dinner: oven roasted lemon tilapia and veggies. I made a bed of red onions and sliced lemons, then layered on frozen tilapia fillets seasoned with Himalayan salt, turmeric, and garlic powder. Covered and baked for 20 minutes at 400, then uncovered it and poured on a layer of frozen Brussels sprouts and baked for another 20 minutes, turning on the broiler for the last 7 minutes. Only dirtied up one dish and got a quick (under an hour) nutrient rich dish, where many of the ingredients were cooked directly from frozen.

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I’m reading a book that takes place in the south, and they mentioned buttermilk pie. Being a southern girl, this is one of my all-time absolute favorite desserts. It’s not quite cake, but not quite pie, and I’ve never been able to decide if it’s better warm or cold. But it’s crazy delicious, and the mention of it in my book sparked a vicious craving. I satisfied it with a smoothie.

I made vegan/AIP friendly buttermilk by combining coconut milk and apple cider vinegar (any acidic medium will work, such as lemon juice) and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Use about a tablespoon acidic medium per cup of milk. Then I poured it in my vitamix with a frozen banana, pinch of salt, splash of vanilla extract, and dash of cinnamon. Perfection. Sorry no photo. I was in a crazed state for my buttermilk pie and it didn’t last long enough for a picture. It would be really nice served with a spiced version of my date/nut cookie bites. But AIP doesn’t allow nuts and seeds, so I’ll try that later.

AIP Breakfast and “Ham with Jam”

Feeling soooo much better today! Yayyyyyyy!!!!! Mouth still has lots of healing to do, and I have to be careful if someone makes me smile or laugh, because this lesion on my lip is no joke and has cracked painfully and bled on several occasions. I have an extremely funny husband and daughter, so while I am still delighted by their humor, it comes with what feels like a punch in the mouth. But it’s worth it. Laughter is healing.

I’m eating lots of solid foods today!!! Yum! And dipping my toes into the AIP (Autoimmune Paleo Protocol). Made beef breakfast patties and kale chips today.

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Served ’em with avocado, clementines, and a pickle spear (at my daughter’s request). The pickle was marinated with carrots and red peppers, so technically is not compliant with AIP (because of the nightshades- peppers) but I’m moving into this protocol slowly.

Here’s what went into the breakfast patties. The herbs are from the garden. Parsley, rosemary, and sage.

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I over cooked them a bit, but they still came out good. This meal took me FOREVER to eat, since every bite feels like a mini-marathon. But it was delicious, and the lesions have healed enough at this point that it is possible, if laborious, to eat, so I’m taking full advantage.

My daughter and I have been reading a book called “Ham with Jam” most nights before bed. It’s a free app from ABCmouse, and is so nice to have (along with all their other book-apps) when I’m sick and can barely talk, much less read a bedtime story. Each book has a “read to me” option, so a narrator reads the book for us. We still get our nighttime reading ritual, even when I’m too sick to do it myself. Anyway, this “Ham with Jam” book is about a little girl who likes jam, but detests ham, and a little boy who enjoys ham, but doesn’t like jam. They come up with the genius idea of putting the two together and it’s so delicious that both kids change their minds and end up liking both foods. It sounded pretty good, so I decided to try a healthier version of it.

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Rinsed and diced the strawberries, then mixed them with a teaspoon of honey and rolled them up in a slice of Applegate ham. The sweet/salty combination is delish!

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And I’ll have to double check the ingredients in the ham, but I’m pretty sure it’s AIP friendly.

My sweet husband picked up some coconut water for me yesterday, so I drank a lot of that and felt really hydrated. Continuing with that today, and I’ve been focusing on getting to bed by 10pm. I’m rarely (never) asleep by 10, but getting to bed earlier is becoming easier. Hopefully I can soon adjust my internal clock enough to not only be in bed by 10, but be fully asleep by 10. I think this will be easier to do as the days continue to get shorter and shorter. This timing of sleep-hours is vital to adrenal function, so as I taper off the last few mg of this steroid, giving my adrenals every fighting chance will be really important. And it makes a big difference in how I feel throughout the day (and how quickly I heal from flares).

Living Grain Free

I’m on day 6 of 4 mg on the prednisone taper. And this is the best I’ve felt since I began the taper 2 months ago. I’ve been feeling really good for a few days, but was afraid to talk about it too much- didn’t want to jinx it. I’ll be dropping to 2 mg on Sunday. I’m almost there! Almost done! Almost free!

Here’s some examples of what I’ve been eating lately. Grain-free isn’t nearly as tough as I thought it would be. As the Paleo Mom says, it’s only effort until it’s routine.

These are grass fed burgers on a lettuce bun with tomato, avocado, and mushrooms. With rutabaga fries. Seriously delicious.

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Breakfast for the family: saut√©ed sweet potato and beet greens with garlic. Applegate naturals chicken and apple breakfast sausage, and sliced fruit- pluot, banana, and Granny Smith apple. This meal would almost fit within the guidelines of the autoimmune paleo protocol. The sausage is seasoned with spices that include pepper, and nightshades are restricted on the AIP, but it’s pretty close.

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Loving my vitamix¬†and it’s ability to turn large amounts of fruits and veggies into delicious smoothies! Here, I pur√©ed a cucumber (not organic, so I peeled it before blending), a plum, a whole head of romaine, and a beet. I drank 2 big glasses, then blended what was leftover with a frozen banana for my 3 year old. Super sweet and she loved it.

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Super salty lunch salad: 2 cups of baby spinach topped with Applegate naturals uncured salami, raw sauerkraut, and Sicilian style olives. It was tricky to find jarred olives without nasty additives. These have lactic acid and acetic acid (which I think is basically vinegar), but are otherwise just olives, water, and salt. Most of the jarred olives had preservatives, so this was the best option I could find.

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This is now one of my all time favorite recipes. Nut-free, Coconut-free Paleo Muffins from the Paleo Mom. I doubled the batch, made 12 plain muffins, 12 blueberry muffins, and then made blueberry pancakes with what wouldn’t fit in the muffin tins. Everything came out perfect.

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Quick lunch for me while my daughter’s at school: 2 grassfed beef uncured hot dogs with organic ketchup and mustard, olives, raw sauerkraut, and jarred organic shredded red beets.

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I often send these in my daughter’s lunch. Great substitute for a ham sandwich. A grain free crepe from the Against all Grain cookbook, Applegate naturals uncured ham, and raw sauerkraut for a good dose of probiotics to help with digestion.

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And when I eat them myself, I dip it in mustard, and pair it up with a pickle spear, olives, and shredded beets.

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And, in case you missed it in previous posts, this bread recipe is part of what has made my transition to grain-free so easy. Crazy delicious.

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Bread-less Sandwiches and a Paleo Meal for Date Night

I’ve been feeling pretty good the last couple of days and I am so grateful for that. Still on the tail end of this cold (congested and sore throat, but very mild) and oral lesions are mild. So I’ve been able to expand on what I’ve been eating and add in some crunchy leaves (that are really difficult to eat when I’m having lots of issues with my mouth). Considering my recent switch to grain-free, being able to eat leaves is nice because I can wrap traditional sandwich fixings in a leaf and BAM- easy meal.

For example:

Grass fed uncured beef hotdogs with organic ketchup and mustard, and raw sauerkraut on a romaine lettuce leaf, with a side of crunchy carrots and hummus.

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And breakfast this morning was egg “sandwiches”. Uncured ham and an egg fried in coconut oil, topped with avocado and a side of fruit (the purple thing is a pluot, the yellow is a “flavor grenade” pluot, and everybody knows what an orange looks like).

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Some other notable (and mostly paleo) things I’ve been eating lately…

Sardines are supposed to be really healthy. Great way to get those omega 3’s we hear so much about, and lower in mercury than most other fish, particularly canned fish like tuna and salmon. Problem is, I don’t really like sardines. It seems weird that all their bones are in there, and they really need to be prepared in a way that complements their flavor. I’ve had them on crackers with a bit of mustard before, which was good. But crackers (even gf ones) aren’t an option for me anymore. So I found a recipe online for coconut crusted sardines. I love coconut shrimp, so I figured I’d try it. Rinsed the sardines, dredged them in an egg wash, then coated them with coconut and saut√©ed them in coconut oil. Dipped them in organic mustard. Not too bad.

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And for our date night (at home, because I really can’t eat out very easily and this is cheaper anyway) we made (yes, my husband helped) the recipe for meatloaf muffins from my favorite cookbook, Against all Grain. Topped with some organic ketchup and mashed cauliflower. With a side of oven roasted asparagus. Very delicious and comforting meal. (I made a double batch, so we have lots of meatloaf muffins in the freezer for quick meals when we’re busy- or for when I’m sick).

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And date night dessert was sliced pears, tossed in coconut oil and cinnamon, and roasted in the oven. Then topped with coconut cream (from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk- organic and BPA free) enhanced with a little local raw honey and vanilla extract. Soooo good.

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This paleo thing is going to be fun. ūüôā

Entertaining (mostly) Grain Free

Had a wonderful time catching up with our old friends (and watching our toddlers get to know each other- so cute!) We ate every meal here at the house during their visit, and the only time I spent in the kitchen (about 20 minutes) involved making this AMAZING grain free bread. (Click here for the recipe from Against All Grain). I misread the recipe and used tablespoons instead of teaspoons for the vinegar. I actually think it turned out even better. Gave it almost a sourdough flavor. We (four adults and two toddlers) ate the entire loaf in one sitting. I served it smothered in grass-fed butter alongside a roasted beet salad with citrus vinaigrette and organic chicken soup- all of which had been made ahead of time and just had to be warmed up and plated. I had a frosty glass of pomegranate kombucha with mine.

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Our friends supplied the steaks for dinner, which the boys grilled while I warmed up the pre-baked sweet potatoes and saut√©ed the sprouts mixture I’d put together ahead of time. Dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. I love being prepared.

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Dessert was not grain free. I made and froze this dish before I made the switch. Though I’m pretty sure it would be easily converted to grain free. I’ll have to try it soon. Anyway, it was a pear/peach cobbler made with brown rice flour (so it IS gluten free at least) and sweetened with honey. I adjusted my Granny’s old peach cobbler recipe to eliminate the refined sugars and wheat flour. Topped it off with coconut whip cream (the delicious white stuff from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk, then mixed with vanilla extract and agave). Mmmmmmm. So good.