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 🙄) wrapped in Applegate Black Forest ham. Microwaved broccoli. Baby spinach sautéed 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. 🤦🏼‍♀️

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.

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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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. 😉

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. Sautéed 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!

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! 🙂

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 puréed 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.)

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! 😉

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.

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: sautéed 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 puréed 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 sautéed 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. 🙂

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 sautéed 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.

Prepping for Visitors

I’m feeling good. Mouth is still healing and throat is slightly sore, but I’m almost back to normal. Today is the first day I haven’t needed to take one of those crazy pain pills. I’m going to stay at 10 mg (of prednisone) for this week, just to give myself a break before I taper down to 8 mg and risk another severe flare.

Plus we’re going to have visitors this week, and I’d rather not be sick. And I’d rather not spend the entire day in the kitchen while they’re here, trying to come up with something they’ll like to eat that fits with my diet plan. So I did a little planning and prep work today. Having these prepped meals on hand will also be nice in the event that I get sick again and need quick, easy options to feed my family.

Quick breakfast option: Sausage Skillet Scramble. Once this is prepped, you just throw a handful (per person) of the mix in a skillet and sauté until it’s almost done. Then scramble in a few eggs (or throw in a few handfuls of greens until wilted and serve topped with fried eggs).

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I chopped an onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, and lots of garlic, and put them in a large plastic freezer bag. Slightly defrosted a package of Applegate Naturals Chicken Apple Breakfast Sausage, sliced ’em up and threw them in the bag. Then chopped and sautéed a large sweet potato until it was almost done (it’ll cook the rest of the way when I sauté it all together).

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Mixed it all up in the bag and it’s ready to go.

I roasted some beets and baked some sweet potatoes to have on hand. The beets will be great in salads with a citrus vinaigrette and the potatoes will be a nice side dish along with a protein and green veggie.

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Many people aren’t familiar with fresh beets, but they’re really easy to work with. To roast them, just trim off the leaves and “tail” and scrub clean. Put them in a baking dish and bake at 350 for 2 hours or so (it rarely takes that long, but I detest underdone root veggies). Once they’ve cooled enough to touch, it’s really easy to just peel off the skin, like I did here.

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Beets are incredibly nutritious and are really helpful with detox. My old nutritionist graduated from Bastyr University and said anytime you eat with someone who went to school there, you can always bet on having beets and kale somewhere on the table.

Another quick lunch/dinner option I prepped is this Wienie Sprout Skillet. I used to make this with kielbasa sausage, but since nitrates/nitrites/MSG/etc. are no longer allowed in my house, I substituted Applegate Grass-fed Beef Hot Dogs. Into this plastic freezer bag, I threw a chopped onion, lots of garlic, 2 diced hot dogs, and a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts. When I go to make this dish, I’ll also put a few handfuls of spinach in the skillet just before its done cooking. It’s great on its own as a light lunch, or as a side dish for dinner.

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A little prep work early in the week (or whenever you have time) makes it a lot easier to maintain your plan during busier moments. And now I know I’ll be able to relax and enjoy our company rather than worrying about what to feed them. And we all get the added benefit of our meals being super nutritious! Win-Win.

Food Sensitivities and Girlie Problems

The consequences of my week of rebellion extended further than I originally expected. As the yeast infection cleared, it left in its wake a pretty severe autoimmune flare “down there”. I’m assuming the infection triggered my immune system, which went overboard and didn’t know when to quit. This was a new experience for me, as my issues have always been oral flares, which are exponentially more painful and debilitating in comparison. At least with this one, I could still eat.

And recovery was pretty quick, thanks in part to helichrysum essential oil. That stuff is crazy expensive, but works wonders when it comes to general healing and pain relief. And a little goes a very long way. I’ve been using (topically) a 95/5 blend of olive oil/helichrysum oil- and it’s been very effective.

I’m still playing with my nutrition plan. Based on recent and past experiences, there are a few things I’ve learned about my body. One, I have a hard time processing sugar- whether it’s white sugar, agave nectar, or honey- I can feel it almost immediately when I’ve had too much and I know this negatively affects my metabolic processes. Two, caffeine exacerbates this issue with sugar and makes it even more difficult to keep it balanced- leaving me with lots of cravings and panicky moments of low blood sugar. Three, dairy (whether raw or pasteurized, organic or not, cultured (like yogurt and kefir) or not) makes me slightly congested. Ghee (clarified butter) does not have this effect, but I’m not sure about regular butter. This congestion lets me know that my body is having some sort of immune-reaction to dairy, so I really should avoid it. At least until I give my gut more time to heal. I may have to experiment more with goat milk and the products made from it, since I’m not sure if it affects me the same way, but for the time being, I’m going to avoid cow milk and anything made from it.

Then there’s soy, corn, and gluten. None of which I’ve noticed a reaction to, but read enough about that they all make me nervous. So, to avoid that crazy, insect-stomach exploding BT toxin in GMO corn, I will not eat any corn, or anything made from corn, that is not organic. When it comes to soy, I will only eat organic, fermented versions (tempeh, miso) or completely unprocessed organic soybeans (edamame). And, until this disease is in remission, I’ll still be avoiding gluten. Once I’m well, I may incorporate some sprouted/soaked organic wheat or sourdough.

So that’s my basic plan. Plus I’ll be sticking to organic meats and eggs. And avoiding pork, shellfish, and fish that don’t have fins/scales (like catfish) in an attempt to implement (sort of) the Maker’s Diet (book by Jordan Rubin).

This week, I’m down to 14 mg on my prednisone taper. Dealing with a few uncomfortable oral lesions, but not a big deal.

Here’s some of what I’ve been eating.

Breakfast: 2 organic eggs, Applegate farms turkey breast (no nitrites/nitrates, humanely raised), spring mix greens and fermented veggies.

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My new favorite treat- dried figs with goat cheese and cinnamon. Sooo good.

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Chicken salad for dinner, dressed with homemade mayo watered down with fermented veggie juice.

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And a chocolate milkshake: frozen banana, cup of ice, dates, coconut milk, almond milk, vanilla extract, sprinkle of cinnamon, carob powder, maca powder, 2 cups of spinach, and a few drops of stevia. I swear it tastes like a Frosty from Wendy’s.

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Monday

Feelin’ good! I’m on a roll! 🙂

My poor husband is sick again, though. And I’m out of most of my good essential oils to try to treat him naturally, so off to the doctor we go for x-rays and antibiotics. (He’s pretty much banned me from putting peppermint oil on him anyway- apparently I overdid it last time and he’s traumatized.)

Here’s breakfast. Leftovers from yesterday’s cookout.

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Lunch was leftover blanched collard wraps with kale salad and sunflower pâté inside.

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Snacked on dark chocolate and drank goat’s milk (pasteurized) for the first time today. I’m still searching for a good source of the raw stuff, but figured I’d try this first. Also snacked on leftover raw vegan cookies from yesterday.

Made this super healing soup for the hubs. Organic whole chicken, garlic, ginger, carrots, onions, celery, turnip root, Himalayan salt, pepper, herbs from the garden, splash of red wine vinegar and filtered water to cover everything. Cooked it on the stovetop until the chicken starts to fall apart. I hate dealing with chicken bones, but they’re a really important part of what makes this soup so healing. The vinegar helps extract minerals from the bones, fortifying the soup. Once it cools, the more gelatinous, the better.

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I did have some fluctuations in energy today. Got really worn out between doctor/x-rays/bloodwork trips. But it didn’t take long to recharge after getting home and eating some good, nutritious food. Husband seems to be feeling better, too. And we get an impromptu date night at the house tonight (thanks, Mom and Dad!) Much needed.

Sunday

Happy Daddy’s Day!

Feeling great. Have a busy day ahead of us with lots of family coming over for a cookout, so we got up and went to our church’s early service after having this avocado fruit bowl for breakfast. That’s banana, blueberries, and almonds sprinkled with lime juice.

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Great service at church. I cry every. single. Sunday. Not sure if my pastor’s really, really good, or if I’m just at an emotional point in my life. But we’ve been going there pretty consistently for about a year now, and I’m still crying at every service. Thankful for God’s presence in that church.

Took communion at church today. Pretty sure the communion wafer had gluten. Oh well. It’s the body of Christ. How bad can it be? 😉

Came home to a lunch of chicken salad- salad. Used canned chicken with some questionable ingredients (modified food starch and some preservatives). Not the best choice, but I was rushed. Mixed in soy-free vegenaise and organic dijon mustard. Then put it on a bed of spring mix greens and sprinkled a bit of paprika overtop.

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Snacked on a full serving of organic dark chocolate and a mug of warm almond milk and vanilla extract.

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Dinner. Here we have mashed cauliflower with Basil, a sweet potato stuffed with avocado, sautéed onions and beet greens, grilled veggie skewers, rosemary garlic roasted root veggies (carrots, parsnips, purple potatoes), massaged kale salad with cranberries and sunflower seeds, and a collard wrap filled with raw sunflower pate and a modified version of the kale salad. Yum! I thought the collard wraps were going to be weird, but they turned out pretty tasty. Plus had a second plate of snapper and mashed cauliflower. And a plate of tropical fruit salad and raw vegan cookies for dessert. Also, drank caffeinated black tea for the first time in forever- sweetened with pomegranate juice and agave nectar.

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Saturday

Feeling great this morning. Headache is completely gone. Good thing- cause I’ve got a busy day.

Pepper-egg “flower” fried in garlicky olive oil. And lightly sautéed Swiss chard from the garden with fermented veggies.

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An alkalizing green juice to start the day right. Also had a ginger lemonade.

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Raw vegan “cookie”: almonds, cashews, dates, vanilla extract, allspice, and ginger (I’m out of cinnamon). Making these for a big cookout we’re having tomorrow, but I ate the equivalent of about 7 of them before they made it on to the pan.

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We went to a birthday party this afternoon. I wasn’t expecting to be able to eat anything there. But there was a big fruit bowl and a chicken dish that fit within the constraints of my diet. So that took care of lunch. I didn’t feel deprived at all, except for a brief moment when everyone was eating cake. I do miss cake. I hope there comes a time in the future when I’m consistently well enough to be able to have an occasional slice of birthday cake.

Dinner was spring mix greens with roasted beets and avocado, plus an orange vinaigrette. Minor tongue issues eating the greens, but they really make me feel good. I’ve said this a lot recently- but I really need to incorporate more leafy greens (preferably raw) into my diet.

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And another alkalizing greenie to finish off the day.

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Tuesday

Breakfast: avocado fruit bowl with hemp seeds.

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Lunch: rosemary garlic farmhouse seed bread with daiya cheese dipped in homemade chunky marinara. Pizza craving? Crushed.

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Green juice: fennel, cucumber, celery.

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Peppermint and lavender from the garden made into tea, with just a smidge of honey.

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Dinner: spring greens with grapes, tuna salad, and orange vinaigrette, plus purple potatoes and Brussels sprouts sautéed in garlic infused olive oil. The whole purple/green theme was completely unintentional, but delicious.

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I felt alright most of the day. Maybe just a bit better than previous days. But started feeling significantly better this evening. Wonder if its all the leaves I’ve been eating. It’s really hard and time consuming to eat leaves with an injured tongue, but green leafy vegetables are great prebiotics for beneficial gut bacteria, they’re alkalizing for the body… they have to be the foundation of any healthy diet- whether you’re paleo or low carb or vegan or doing a candida cleanse- nobody ever says to cut back on greens. I’m going to focus on getting even more of them into my diet. If I can’t eat them, I’ll juice them. But as long as my tongue is in reasonably good shape, I’ll be having lots of salad in the near future.

Also, in an effort to further alkalize my body, I’m putting a couple of drops of YL peppermint oil and lemon oil under my tongue throughout the day. Gross TMI alert: oral lesions, especially the bigger ones, are basically chunks of dead, rotting flesh in your mouth. They create a prime environment for fungus (like thrush) and give you what my family calls “lesion breath”. It’s disgusting. The oils are really helping with all of that. Regular gum and mints just cover up the problem and either feed the fungus with sugar or expose me to awful artificial sweeteners. I think I’m going to start carrying peppermint oil around in my purse…