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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Sauté 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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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!

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.)

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 purée 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.

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. 🙂

Thursday

Feeling fantastic today. Got a great night’s sleep (9 1/2 hours!) and woke up energized and refreshed. This energy lasted ALL. DAY. LONG. I did not experience a single slump (which is unheard of!) When baby girl went down for her nap, I deep cleaned the bathrooms. I also mowed the front lawn as a surprise for my husband (he never looks at the blog, so it’ll still be a surprise). I’ve NEVER mowed our lawn before. EVER. Raked the leaves once last year… Anyway, I’d love to know where all this energy is coming from and how I can hold onto it.

What I ate today:

An alkalizing green juice to start the day right.

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That’s a half gallon jar, so I was drinking on this all day.

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After spending so much time juicing, ran out of time for breakfast before our play date. Scarfed down these crackers and pear goat cheese. And juice.

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Lunch salad to counteract all the cheese and chocolate I’ve been eating today: mixed greens, chicken breast, fermented veggies, all drizzled with orange vinaigrette.

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My friend served these cupcakes at our play date. Gluten free, egg free, soy free, corn free, dairy free, and sweetened with agave nectar. The texture was fantastic. Sooooo good. I ate 3. :/

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Dinner was “cookie dough” and watermelon. The cookie dough is made from pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, medjool dates, and cinnamon. Once you blend them up enough in a food processor, they start to stick together and you can form yummy raw cookies or truffle balls. But lately I’ve just been skipping that step and eating the “dough” by the handful. (You can do this with almost any nut and dried fruit, by the way.)

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And a little more cheese. I’m really making up for lost time with these goat cheeses. Should probably lay off and stick with 1 ounce a day. I read somewhere that goat’s milk (and it’s products) are actually alkalizing to the body (whereas cow’s milk makes you acidic), but I don’t understand the science behind that and I’m not sure I believe it.

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Saturday

Totally struggling to stay positive right now. And it just seems ridiculous because I’m not even that sick. This flare is pretty minor. But I guess I had gotten excited that I was seeing progress, so I wasn’t mentally prepared for this setback.

Physically, I’m about the same today as yesterday. But emotionally, I’m dragging. I’ve been so focused, and working so hard, and my family has made so many sacrifices to help me get well. What if this doesn’t work? Am I doing something wrong? Or am I just being impatient? I’m so glad tomorrow’s Sunday. I need some church!

I had two slices of sandwich bread (gluten, egg, dairy, soy, and corn free) with ghee for breakfast.

And juiced half a fennel bulb with fronds, 5 big cucumbers, celery, 2 green apples, and kale. That’s a half gallon jar. Drank all of it throughout the day.

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Lunch was leftover chicken soup and lemongrass tea (from the garden).

Dinner was sautéed sweet potatoes with spinach and garlic, fermented carrots and cauliflower, cabbage and beet salad (jarred), and rosemary garlic seed bread with olive oil.

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And a smoothie for dessert. Frozen cherries and mango, banana, 3 dates, almond milk, hemp protein powder, and maca powder. Very rich and sweet.

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Tuesday

Had a little bit of a lesion outbreak that I started noticing late in the day yesterday. Two on my lip, two inside my cheeks, one on my tongue… all minor, but irritating, and seemed to be ready to grow into a major problem. I started using the dexamethasone mouthwash more regularly (I’ve been avoiding it, not wanting to disable my immune system even more than the prednisone is already, given the respiratory bug that’s been plaguing our house). But they (the lesions) seem to have calmed down today. I was a little nervous, but I think they’re going to head out before they become an issue. Whew!

Breakfast was homemade granola (from the Immune System Recovery Plan) with apples and almond milk.

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Dug some stuff out of the fridge to juice with lunch.

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And had the juice with leftover rosemary potatoes and a jarred, organic white cabbage and baby beet salad.

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My daughter’s favorite treat when we go shopping at the health food store. She loves her some seaweed snacks. But she let me eat a few.

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And MY favorite treat when we go to the health food store: kombucha.

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Snacked on these and some trail mix during nap time.

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And juiced this stuff. That’s a lot of ginger. Very spicy. But I want to fire up my gut and get to the next level of health before I go in to see the integrative doc at the end of this month and discuss tapering off prednisone. I’ve got to be strong and ready.

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Dinner was a microwaved burrito. I topped it with fermented carrots and cauliflower. That sounds weird, but it was actually really good. So far, fermented veggies seem to work well with any savory dish that could use a little extra salty flavor. And they improve digestion of whatever you’re eating.

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Monday

For breakfast: sandwich bread with ghee, cinnamon, and coconut sugar. And apples.

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Lunch was leftover stuffed peppers. And an imuno-build greens drink.

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I made another batch of homemade granola today. So good. I munched on a LOT of it at various stages of the baking process.

Dinner was grassfed steak, rosemary potatoes, and fermented carrots and cauliflower. The fermented veggies tasted extra delicious with the meat.

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Saturday

Homemade granola with apples and almond milk.

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Haven’t been juicing lately (stretching our food budget) so supplementing with this. It’s not the same, but it’s alkalizing.

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Lunch looked almost identical to a previous meal, so I didn’t bother with a photo. Open faced sandwiches (gf/egg free bread, black bean hummus, big tomato slice, soy free vegenaise, organic Dijon mustard, and clover sprouts) with roasted beets and fermented carrots and cauliflower.

And this delicious smoothie. Kale, banana, blueberries, sambazon acai unsweetened smoothie packet, 5 prunes, almond milk, hempseed oil, and a smidge of coconut nectar.

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Made a fresh batch of farmhouse seed bread (from Nourishing Meals). Added chopped garlic and rosemary. Been dipping it in olive oil. Amazing.

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Afternoon treat. Had 6 squares (half a serving) with a glass of almond milk with stevia and vanilla extract.

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And dinner was stuffed peppers, seed bread, and raw sauerkraut. Trying to incorporate raw fermented veggies as much as possible for their probiotics.

The peppers were super easy. I already had frozen cooked brown rice and grassfed ground beef sautéed with onions and garlic. So I just set those out to defrost around lunchtime. Once they’d thawed a bit, I mixed in a jar of simple marinara (no weird ingredients, no sugar), a can of mushrooms, and the chopped “lids” from the peppers. Filled the peppers, then put them in a casserole dish with water in the bottom (to steam) and baked them at 375 for an hour.

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Friday

Waffles and apples for breakfast. Actually made the recipe correctly this time. Topped it with ghee and honey.

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Lunch was an open faced black bean burger with tomato and sprouts, roasted beets, and fermented carrots and cauliflower. Second successful ferment. Woo-hoo! Made four jars of this stuff. When I get the dysbiosis in my gut under control, eating these on a regular basis should help maintain all the work I’ve done. They’re loaded with natural probiotics.

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Had two spoonfuls of cashew butter and honey before working out. And had a glass of L-glutamine and a teaspoon of coconut sugar in water post-workout. Did P90X Legs and Back, and Ab Ripper. Felt good. Will probably be sore in the next couple of days.

Pumpkin smoothie snack time! Just canned pumpkin, frozen bananas, 5 prunes, vanilla, and pie spice.

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And leftover fish soup for dinner. Topped with smashed avocado. Perfect.

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Still have some odd lesion-action going on my lower lip, but it’s minor. And I’m doing great otherwise. Still seem to have avoided the plague that hit my daughter and gave my husband pneumonia. Not sure if I’m in the clear yet, but so far so good.

Friday

I totally prepared this breakfast in the mindset of food as medicine and didn’t think it was going to taste all that great. It was absolutely delicious. Homemade black beans, sauerkraut, and chives from the garden.

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And a cinnamon roll with “cream cheese” frosting.

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Leftover lentil soup with grass fed beef meatballs and greens.

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Chia cherry energy gel to fight the mid day slump.

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Finally got to the store for some produce. They had these gorgeous yellow tomatoes. Perfect on a farmhouse seed bread sandwich with homemade black bean hummus (just puréed in some garlic and parsley), sprouts, and soy-free vegenaise.

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And juiced! Ahhhhh, how I’ve missed it! My cells are like, “glug, glug, glug!” Yum!

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Tuesday

Leftover egg-free whole grain waffles for breakfast. With avocado, pear, and kiwi sprinkled with lime juice and hemp seeds.

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Had a moment today between breakfast and lunch when I felt like my blood sugar suddenly plummeted and I got weak, shaky, and sweaty, and felt an urgent need to eat something. This used to happen to me all the time when I would wait too long to eat or tried to survive on caffeine and sugar (the career-focused years). But it’s been a while since I felt this way. I guess I may have waited to long to eat lunch, but I figured it was worth noting. Breakfast was really nutritious, so should have been very sustaining and kept my blood sugar on an even keel.

Anyway, GF burrito for lunch. It’s also soy, egg, dairy, and corn free. So it fits with my new super-restrictive elimination diet.

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Lentil soup for dinner. Absolutely delicious. Used vegan bouillon cubes and umeboshi paste for saltiness, and added sage and rosemary from the garden. Plus the usual carrots, garlic, and onions.

And a quick gluten free dinner roll using a gf ap flour mix. I subbed in egg replacer. Definitely edible, but not super delicious.

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Attempting fermented carrots and cauliflower today. Will check back in a week and see how they’re doing.

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And a carbonated drink I had today. Not 100% sure how healthy it is. The ingredients seem good, aside from the vague “natural flavors” which could be anything.

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