How I Managed Hashimoto’s During Pregnancy

hashimoto's pregnancy

This was the last picture taken of me before I gave birth to my daughter May 2016.

 

One of the most frequent questions I receive these days is, “How did you manage your thyroid while pregnant?” This is a poignant question because pregnancy and post-partum is infamous for sending the thyroid awry whether or not you have Hashimoto’s disease.

 

my back story…

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s at age 19 (10 years ago) and have been on some form of thyroid hormone replacement since then. In our community, we tend towards anti-medication but in the case of many autoimmune diseases, supporting the body through medication AND dietary and lifestyle changes is a true holistic approach.

 

My body requires supplemental hormone because the disease has significantly destroyed my thyroid prior to diagnosis and dietary changes. Once thyroid tissue is destroyed through autoimmunity or radiation, it will not produce the necessary thyroid hormone required for optimal metabolic function. This requires supplement through medication and it is incredibly important to adhere to your doctor’s advice regarding medication while pregnant.

 


A quick note on which thyroid medication I take:

I am one of the rare people who has a severe autoimmune attack to porcine thyroid hormone (Armour, Naturethroid, for example). In fact, the last time I took it, I launched into a 12-month long flare that ended during pregnancy. You will also likely find autoimmune disease remission during pregnancy as the immune system down regulates to protect the body from seeing your baby as an invader.

Instead, I do best on a synthetic combination of T4 (Tirosint) and T3 (liothyronine). Yes, I’ve tried compounded medication with a functional practitioner and my numbers do not stabilize well. No, I have not tried and will not try to go off my medication. Tirosint is a great option for those of you looking for additive-free synthetic thyroid medication. Ask your insurance if they will cover it.


 

My story with infertility is long, and I won’t be talking about it here. Instead, let’s start with conception to keep this focused. 

 

I went into pregnancy in the middle of that autoimmune flare mentioned above. Women with Hashimoto’s do have an increased risk of pregnancies not being carried to term (I don’t like the word “miscarriage”). As a woman with Hashimoto’s, I knew I needed to be an educated self-advocate during pregnancy and beyond.

 

I did not let these statistics scare me though. Sure I had my moments of worry like most moms, but I trusted and supported and loved my body extra during this time. When I needed to calm my mind, I used prayer, meditation and journaling to comfort me.

 

I am sharing with you the process I put into place the moment I found out I was pregnant in August 2015 to best ensure a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

 

GET TESTED AS SOON AS YOU TEST POSITIVE

 

I found out I was pregnant in Hawaii on our way from moving from Chicago to Austin. I didn’t have an OBGYN in Austin let alone a general practitioner.

 

The day I found out I was pregnant, I called my health insurance company from our Kauai Airbnb to get the number of a gynecology group in Austin under our plan. I knew they may not be the perfect fit, but I needed to establish care as soon as possible so I could get my thyroid tested immediately.


But what if I don’t have diagnosed Hashimoto’s? Should I still get my thyroid tested?

My answer as a thyroid patient is YES. If you have suspected Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism or have a family history, get your thyroid tested early in the first trimester. There is absolutely no risk to you to get this done but it can be risky to NOT know what your thyroid is doing in those formative weeks.

In fact, some thyroid experts advocate thyroid testing for every pregnant woman.


 

The office requested I only schedule my first appointment between 8 to 10 weeks pregnant, but I had done enough research on early pregnancy and Hashimoto’s to know I needed to get in sooner.

 

I was able to schedule my first appointment for 6 weeks. I would have preferred 5 weeks but they did not have availability. I requested a blood thyroid panel including TSH, free T4, free T3. I even got to see my baby as a little dot on a quick ultrasound (and hear her heart beat) during that appointment.

 

Backing up, I had a full panel done around the time of conception and knew my TSH, T3, and T4 were normal even though my antibodies were high from the flare. Just four weeks later at 6 weeks pregnant, my TSH increased from 1.0 to 9.0 and my T3 and T4 dropped.

 

The increased demand on your thyroid during the first trimester is no joke. If you have a damaged thyroid due to Hashimoto’s, your thyroid may not be able to keep up with this increase demand. Test early, test often, and test fully.

 


Test early, test often, and test fully.


 

We increased my thyroid dosage by about 50% to stabilize my numbers. At this time, I was only on T4 and not T3. In fact, during pregnancy, I could not find a practitioner to prescribe me T3 since it has not been studied in pregnant women. You may have a different experience with that depending on your practitioner. I got on T3 within a few weeks of giving birth. Even without supplemental T3, I was able to keep my T3 in the 50% range and had bounds of energy throughout pregnancy.

 

 

FIND THE RIGHT PRACTITIONER

 

Many thyroid patients will agree that finding the right practitioner, one knowledgeable in full thyroid panels and optimal levels (not just “in range” levels) is a necessity. Pregnant women especially must feel they are in good care with their medical team. Your OBGYN, midwife or general practitioner will likely be the one in charge of monitoring your thyroid while pregnant. 

 

You’ll likely encounter a physician who doesn’t believe in testing T3. I did several times (endocrinologists are notoriously the worst about this ironically). I essentially “fired” those physicians but not before providing information on why testing T3 is so important for their thyroid patients. This topic is worthy of more than just a quick paragraph here.

 

Rather than having an endocrinologist follow my thyroid throughout pregnancy, I trusted my gynecologist. We worked together to establish a plan of care that included frequent testing, monitoring of symptoms, and extra care to ensure that Grace was growing adequately. Since mothers with unmanaged Hashimoto’s can have babies with low weight as well as an increased risk of pre-term labor, we wanted to monitor closely.

 


How I Self-Advocate with Physicians

Whenever I move to a new city or visit a new doctor, I am very clear about a few things. I tell them I am a seasoned thyroid patient, I know how to read my lab numbers, and I know when I need a change in medication. I have lived this and researched it for a decade, and I would like to be treated that way.

 

The only physicians who have responded negatively to this are endocrinologists so I refuse to see them anymore. Am I being harsh about endocrinologists? It may seem that way. But over ten years, I’ve had the exact (it’s eery) same experience with over a dozen of them. It angers me to see so many thyroid patients often poorly managed by these specialists.

 

Being this upfront may not be easy, especially in a world where we believe medical practitioners are above us. Remember, no one knows you better. Trust yourself, your experiences and your intuition. Your doctor is your teammate not your boss.

 


 

MONITOR & ADJUST FREQUENTLY

 

My doctor felt most comfortable testing my thyroid every 4 to 6 weeks throughout pregnancy to ensure stabilization. I informed her at my first appointment at 6 weeks that I tend to have a volatile thyroid that struggles with stress and hormonal changes (so prevalent in pregnancy and post-partum!)

 

This is another instance of self-advocacy in the hierarchical medical model. Speak up for yourself. Don’t be complacent with your physician. You know your body way better than they do. They know textbooks, they know previous patients. They do not know you. Help them get to know you.

 

Thankfully, I only had to adjust my medicine once during pregnancy in the first trimester and was able to maintain that dosage throughout. Your doctor needs to be well-informed on the thyroid ranges for pregnant women as they do differ from non-pregnant women. For example, the TSH range is quite a bit tighter than for non-pregnant women, and it also changes slightly the first to the second trimester.

 

Most providers will want your TSH below 2.5 for the first trimester and below 3.0 for the second and third trimester. My TSH stayed around 2.0 throughout my pregnancy, about twice as high as when non-pregnant. I was not concerned with this number after researching the increased demand on the thyroid. It makes sense my pituitary was sending out a “produce more thyroid hormone” signal to my thyroid.

 

That being said, be aware of your hypothyroid symptoms even if your numbers are in range, especially if they are at the higher end of the range. For example, I could barely walk up the stairs my first trimester. This symptom (what I call “stair fatigue”) is a classic hypothyroid symptom for me. I knew I needed to give the increased dosage a couple weeks to kick in before my symptoms would reside though. Once the meds kicked in, my fatigue quickly dissipated.

 

It’s important to know your body in this way. Get a sense of what it feels like to be hypothyroid and to feel well. Note those hypothyroid symptoms so that if and when they appear, you can get yourself to your doctor for testing.

 

 

SUPPORT YOUR THYROID WITH DIET & LIFESTYLE

I started the autoimmune protocol in 2014, about 18 months before getting pregnant. In fact, it was key in helping me reverse my infertility diagnosis. I didn’t use pregnancy as an excuse to go wild on cravings though. If there’s ever a time in your life to treat your body with respect, it’s during pregnancy and post-partum.

 

The nutritional and energy demands of a woman’s body during this time are astounding. I made a pact with myself to stick as closely to the principles of the autoimmune protocol as possible during pregnancy and post-partum. Note that I said the principles of the protocol and not the elimination phase of the protocol.

 

For me, this meant including foods I knew I tolerated well such as soaked organic white rice cooked in broth, dark chocolate, seed spices and treats like store-bought coconut milk ice cream. This allowed me to focus on nutrient density while still having fun with food and listening to my body.

 

I would be lying if I said I ate “perfectly healthy” my entire pregnancy. I am not a diet perfectionist by any means. My food choices stem from my intuition, my mood, the social setting and frankly what’s in my fridge. While I ate dark chocolate most days, I also never skipped a meal. I had three balanced meals each day that included protein (a must!), leafy greens (folate!), starchy veggies (glucose!) and fats like avocado or coconut. I wish I still ate like that post-partum!

 

I personally do not believe in attempting low carb and ketogenic diets during pregnancy. I only mention this because they are trending hard right now. I am so happy for all the people these diets heal and bring happiness. If you naturally eat low carb (and you’re being honest with yourself about it being natural), then continue to listen to your body.

 

But if you are truly craving sweet potatoes, dried mango or a bowl of freakin’ cereal, then YOU get to decide if you eat that or not. Not a diet guru. In fact, I had gluten-free cereal several times during pregnancy. I also distinctly recall eating a bowl of rice with coconut aminos at 3 am because I woke up craving it and was starving (2nd trimester hungry, if you know what I mean).

 

My pregnant body craved SPECIFIC foods like citrus, mango, berries and sweet potatoes. And I don’t blame this on being a “sugar-burner” (so many opinions on that terminology, by the way). These are common food cravings for pregnant women for good reason – our bodies demand all of that folate, vitamin C and glucose they’re asking for. WE’RE BUILDING A HUMAN. Be easy on yourself but also treat your body with respect and let that be reflected on your plate, with your sleep, your stress management, your movement and your relationships.

 

 

It is my goal one day to provide a more inclusive guide of managing autoimmune disease during pregnancy. Until then, I hope this article provided you with some helpful, actionable information to protect your thyroid health during pregnancy. 

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Hypothyroid Mom is an excellent resource for additional information on fertility and pregnancy. Dana Trentini is also the author of Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease. You can also order your own full thyroid panel with a coupon code on her website.

 

Looking for post-partum support? I found Dr. Jolene Brighten’s book Healing the Body Naturally After Childbirth helpful.

 

I also have written an article on Balancing Hormones for Fertility. You can read more about my story of reversing infertility here.


 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner, and I will not be able to answer specific questions regarding your health state. I am here for emotional support and to provide hope. The information in this article is based on my personal experience and research. 

 

Antioxidant Trail Mix + my favorite travel food!

nut-free paleo trail mix

Paleo Nut-Free Trail Mix will make you equal parts happy & satiated!

 

This weekend I’ll be taking my first trip away from Grace for 48 hours. Wish my husband luck – he’ll be playing stay-at-home dad during that time! He’s looking forward to having some quality one-on-one time with his girl.

 

I’m heading to New Orleans for a big bachelorette weekend with some of my best friends from all over the country. We’ll be doing tons of sightseeing (including a ghost tour), drinking (excessive is the word of the weekend) and eating! I won’t have any say in the restaurants though which means it may be hard for me to get nourishing meals in!

 

While I’m planning on tanking up on all the nutrients once I get home, I also am upping my Purse Snack Game. Nary an avocado will be in sight in my diaper bag backpack this weekend! Yup – traveling in style since I have to bring my breast pump with me to the bars! (First time pumping & dumping!)

 

 

This Happy Trail Mix fits the bill for my Paleo-friendly snack situation – nut-free, antioxidant-rich, full of healthy fats & delicious!

 

 

My PALEO NUT-FREE TRAIL MIX INCLUDES:

 

 

Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas):

In just one serving of this mix, you’ll get IRON (about 20% DV), FIBER (5g), MAGNESIUM (about 50% of DV) & they’re anti-inflammatory (perfect for any hangover that will ensue!) You can find these at any health food store in the bulk section! Great price too & much cheaper than nuts!

 

Toasted Coconut Flakes (I use Dang brand):

Slightly sweet Dang Toasted Coconut Flakes add a delicate crunch and 20g of heart-healthy (yep, you read that right) saturated fat! Fat makes you full without tanking your energy and causing drastic blood sugar fluctuations! Fat is also another powerful detoxifier & the sweetness from the coconut will take care of any travel cravings!

 

Organic Raisins:

What’s a trail mix without raisins!? They’re also full of fiber to keep you full and their chewiness can’t be beat! They’re also travel constipation busters! But don’t stop at raisins – you can use dried wild blueberries, apple juice sweetened cranberries, dried white mulberries, and even diced organic prunes to keep you regular!

 

Alter Eco 90% Dark Chocolate:

 

Okay… but really… what’s a trail mix without dark chocolate!? Dark chocolate is an incredible source of even more fat, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium and iron! Talk about the building blocks to a full tummy, a happy heart and an energized body! I have been loving dark chocolate that is 85% and higher for years. In fact, I ate dark chocolate everyday during pregnancy and was happy basically the entire time!

 

Some other dark chocolates I recommend: Taza, Guittard & Eating Evolved


 

What else will I be bringing on my trip to keep me nourished?

 

 

Paleo on the Go meals:

I ordered several AIP Menu Paleo on the Go meals that I’ll be picking up today! They are located only 20 minutes from my house! But they also ship so if you have travel coming up and don’t want to skip meals… make your life super simple with POTG! The meals are so delicious and crafted by an executive chef.

 

I ordered the Beef Breakfast Empanadas (breakfast), Bangers & Mash (breakfast the day I get home), Bacon Apple Chicken Burgers (lunch), Beef Brisket with AIP BBQ Sauce & Roasted Garlic Mash (airport lunch) and Strawberry Pop Tarts (for Grace as a special treat while I’m gone!)

 

 

Did you know Paleo on the Go has a full AIP MENU including breakfast & snacks!?

ORDER HERE

 

PALEO ON THE GO MEALS

 

 

 

Gelatin Gummies:

I find gummies very filling since they’re full of protein from grass-fed gelatin. They’re also a great way to get gelatin in your gut when you don’t have access to bone broth and collagen smoothies. I have a recipe for 4 different gummies in The Healing Kitchen that use whole fruit instead of fruit juice and don’t contain added sweetener.

 

Seaweed Snacks:

These crunchy and salty seaweed sheets are addicting and contain trace minerals from sea vegetables and sea salt. My favorite brand is Sea Snax. Kids love them too!

 

Epic Bars:

In my opinion, the tastiest Epic Bar flavors are also the AIP-friendly ones (nightshade-free)! I will be bringing several bars of the Uncured Bacon & the Bison Cranberry! You can also chop these up and put them in your trail mix!

 

Green Juice (purchased at destination):

Green juice is my #1 detox go-to. Not only am I stocking up on the large bottles of Suja Power Greens before I travel but once I arrive in New Orleans, I’ll be sourcing green juice and stocking my hotel fridge! Any hangover won’t stand a chance when I’m downing a liter of green juice, or so I’d like to think.

 

Party Smart Hangover Remedy:

I haven’t tried this herbal supplement before but it contains several herbs that are supposed to speed the detoxification of alcohol from your body. After reading reviews, most people said it worked for them! I’ll give it a shot and let you know on Instagram how it worked!

 

Glutathione:

Glutathione is a master detoxifier so I’m bringing my glutathione supplement with me. I much prefer liquid glutathione but it requires refrigeration so I’ll be taking a capsule form with me and taking it once or twice per day.

 

 

Also, need tips on dining out with food allergies while traveling!? Check out all of my best tips HERE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 review

Happy Antioxidant Trail Mix

Preparation 00:10 2017-10-17T00:10:00+00:00 Serves 4     adjust servings

 

Ingredients

Instructions

 Mix all ingredients together in a container or bag. Divide among 4 small bags for mini on-the-go travel snacks. 

Recipe Notes

 You may use roasted and salted pumpkin seeds as well, but try to find a brand that uses olive oil rather than vegetable oil.

 

 

Dairy-Free Garlic Cream Sauce (Paleo, AIP)

dairy-free garlic cream sauce

Cheesy Garlic Cream Sauce without any of the dairy & made from vegetables! This sauce is delicious on EVERY.THING.

This isn’t like any AIP Alfredo I’ve tried before either.

It’s extra creamy thanks to white sweet potato (the most magical ingredient in all the land).

The light allium flavor from sauteed garlic and onion gives this it’s cheesy taste without any nutritional yeast.

It’s incredibly affordable to make & batch cook! It truly makes any entree or side dish extra delicious.

Find out all the ways I’ve been using this Dairy-Free Garlic Cream Sauce

&

GET THE RECIPE HERE

dairy-free garlic cream sauce

Detox Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

detox kale salad

 

This detox kale salad is all sorts of crunchy & tangy… and it will make your skin glow!

 

 

After having amazing success with the Zesty Ginger Spring Love Your Liver 18-day detox program, I decided to join the summer session too! I’m taking what I learned about myself during the first program and applying it to this one.

 

 

You can read all about the health benefits I received from the program HERE.

 

 

That means I’ve allowed myself some very dark chocolate during the detox because it makes an elimination diet a lot easier for me. I’ve been keeping up with all the dry brushing, oil pulling, rebounding & teas and tonics the program suggests. I’ve even been able to reintroduce foods that I hadn’t eaten in years like ghee and legumes!

 

 

I’ve also continued to include foods I otherwise didn’t eat frequently but add to my happiness & health! Like the pepitas and hemp seeds in this salad. Crunchy, nutritious & adds texture to even the blandest of side salads.

 

 

This salad is far from bland though! The Creamy Lemon Dressing adds some tang and sweetness (from the coconut butter) without being super oily like a traditional dressing. Crunch from the broccoli and seeds makes for a big, satisfying mouthful of liver detoxifying greens!

 

 

Add some protein! Grilled chicken would be delicious here…. as would some broiled salmon!

 

 

detox kale salad

 

 


 

I get this question all the time when I post raw kale salads on Instagram: Can you eat that with Hashimoto’s?

 

There’s a long-standing belief that if you have Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism it’s best to avoid cruiciferous vegetables until cooked. Cooking cruciferous veggies decreases the goitrogenic effect. Goitrogens in food can block iodine absorption, which is a cause of hypothyroidism is non-Westernized parts of the world.

 

 

The thing is… my case of Hashimoto’s is not caused by iodine deficiency. I have autoimmune thyroiditis and you can learn more about the case from my podcast episode on The Unbound Healing Podcast!  In fact, I just had my blood markers done and my iodine level was excellent. And that’s eating raw kale salads weekly as well as adding greens like spinach, arugula and kale to my morning smoothies.

 

 

Okay, now go get your crunch on!

 

 

1 review

Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

Preparation 00:15 2017-10-17T00:15:00+00:00 Serves 2 to 4     adjust servings


Ingredients

  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup roasted & salted pepitas
  • 3 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Creamy Lemon Dressing

  • 1/4 cup coconut butter or manna
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry kale. Remove ribs and thinly slice kale leaves. Place in a large salad bowl. 
  2. Massage kale with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened. 
  3. Make the Creamy Lemon Dressing: Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. 
  4. Add broccoli florets to the dressing in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combining the broccoli with the dressing coats the salad nicely and evenly distributes the crunchy goodness. 
  5. Toss the pepitas, hemp seeds and cilantro with the kale and broccoli/dressing until combined. Serve room temp or cold.


Recipe Notes


 

 

 

Nightshade-Free Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot)

 

paleo ropa vieja nightshade-free aip

 

 

Nightshade-free Ropa Vieja!? This classic Cuban comfort food has been created without any inflammatory tomatoes or peppers but is anything but light on flavor!

 

 

I’ve been dreaming of providing the AIP community with a true-to-Cuba version of Ropa Vieja. I’m so excited my experiment turned out favorably! Bonus: It’s made in the Instant Pot!

 

 

If you’re not familiar with Ropa Vieja, it is one of the most delicious recipes of Cuban cuisine. Traditionally it is made with flank steak, lots of bell peppers, paprika, tomatoes and sometimes green olives and capers. The steak is braised in the juices of all those tasty veggies and broth. My version is quite the departure in terms of ingredients but not in flavor!

 

 

How can I make Ropa Vieja without nightshades!?

 

This AIP-friendly version comes close to the real thing – it’s pretty amazing! You’ll need two elimination phase introductions for this recipe: cumin and black pepper. The black pepper adds some spiciness without the nightshades & the cumin is a MUST! I’m sure it’ll still be tasty if you leave those things out, but I wouldn’t call it Ropa Vieja – maybe just tasty shredded beef and olives.

 

 

Instead of flank steak, I use a more affordable cut of beef! Stew beef – I can find grass-fed stew beef for only 3.99/lb at my grocery store Earth Fare. Flank steak isn’t always available and it’s usually upwards of $8/lb! I also use kalamata olives because I love the robust taste of kalamatas but you could use the traditional green olives here too.

 

 

Now instead of using tomato sauce and tomatoes, all of this tasty goodness comes from simmering down the leftover juices from the beef, onions, fish sauce, coconut aminos and apple juice. You will be shocked at what an incredibly rich, savory and thick tomato-like sauce you will achieve with your Instant Pot! All of these ingredients come together to mimic the sweet umami flavor of tomato-based recipes.

 

Lastly, I suggest serving this delicious Ropa Vieja over a baked white sweet potato or a bowl of cauliflower rice with avocado, extra lime juice and cilantro. This is such a slap-you-in-your-face flavorful dish, you really can’t go wrong!

 

 

 

Making this recipe in a slow cooker?

 

While I haven’t done that, here are my best suggestions! Perform the first ** steps cooking for 4 to 6 hours in your slow cooker. Remove the beef to a serving bowl and transfer the liquid, onions and bay leaf to a small saucepan on your stovetop. Simmer uncovered until condensed into a thick, rich sauce.

 

 

Looking for more Paleo-friendly Cuban dishes?

Try my Nightshade-Free Cuban Picadillo & Vaca Frita!

 

paleo ropa vieja nightshade-free aip

 

 

 

 

2 reviews

Nightshade-Free Ropa Vieja

Preparation 00:10 2017-10-17T00:10:00+00:00 Cook Time :55 2017-10-17T00:00:00+00:00 Serves 4     adjust servings
paleo ropa vieja nightshade-free aip

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

Instructions

  1. Turn “Saute” function on your Instant Pot on Medium heat. Heat avocado oil. Saute onion for 5 minutes then add chopped garlic.
  2. Cook for another 2 minutes before stirring in the sea salt, cumin, pepper and turmeric. Cook the onions downs for 2 more minutes until slightly reduced.
  3. Add the beef, coconut aminos, apple juice and fish sauce. Set “Meat/Stew” function on to automatically pressure cook for 35 minutes. 
  4. When timer elapses, transfer the beef to a large bowl, leaving the onions and liquid in the Instant Pot. Turn the "Saute" function back on and add the bay leaf to the pot. Allow liquid to simmer and condense to a thick sauce for the next 15 to 20 minutes keeping a close eye on it. The sauce should be thick like tomato sauce and dark red. 
  5. Meanwhile, shred the beef with two forks and stir in the lime juice. When the sauce is ready, discard the bay leaf and stir sauce into the shredded beef. Mix in sliced olives and serve. 

Recipe Notes

 You may use other cuts of beef here but you may need to adjust the cooking time. See blog post for slow cooker suggestions. 

 

 

 

paleo ropa vieja nightshade-free aip

How to Use Your Instant Pot

If you haven’t picked up one of these ultra-handy modern day kitchen conveniences, you’re likely spending way too much time in the kitchen. Here are my best tips for how to use your Instant Pot and the best model for you!

 

I bought my first Instant Pot in 2013. I remember the day fondly…. a cloudy November in Chicago when all I wanted to do was cuddle up on the couch with my dog and a bowl of soup. Yet I had no broth nor a time machine to travel 24 to 48 hours prior to make broth in my slow cooker or *gasp* on my stovetop.

 

But I finally had what I affectionately refer to as my Silver-Haired Boyfriend: the Instant Pot 6-in-1 6 quart pressure cooker. He came to to the rescue like a knight in shining stainless steel. One hour later I had soup.

 

Ever since that fateful day, I have used my Instant Pot many times a week to speed up cooking, minimize prep and time standing over a stove. You know, so I can go out and enjoy life instead of being chained to the kitchen.

 

In today’s post, I want to share with you some easy ways to combat any Instant Pot anxiety (it’s a thing). PS Your Instant Pot will not explode. It is created with many safety features… just read your manual for additional safety tips for your model!

 

 

I now own the Lamborghini of pressure cookers… the Instant Pot Ultra Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker listed below.  All models prepare your food up to 70% faster than using traditional cooking methods!

 

MY MOTTO: INSTANT POT SAVES LIVES. 

I NEED TO MAKE THAT INTO AN INSPIRATIONAL SCRIPT-Y QUOTE ON MY BEDROOM WALL.


 

 

CHOOSING A MODEL

Here are the 3 most popular models…

 

 

Instant Pot 6-in-1 6 quart: This base model Instant Pot really does everything you NEED it to do… unless you want to make homemade yogurt. Which I still haven’t done. It has a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer function. It is easy to use, easy to clean, and pretty much dummy proof. 

 

PROS: It’s the cheapest of the line! It does all your basic pressure cooker functions listed above! FOOL-PROOF!

CONS: The 6-quart model is fairly small…. enough to hold a rack of ribs or a 3 pound whole chicken. If you want to fit a 5 pound pork roast though, you’ll have to cut it into smaller chunks.

 

 

Instant Pot 7-in-1 8 quart: This is the model up from the above 6-in-1. The 7-in-1 has the added feature of being able to make yogurt. It also is two quarts larger which is helpful for making larger batches of broth or larger roasts.

 

PROS: Larger pot size for bigger roasts, broths, chickens or soup bones. Yogurt function included.

CONS: It’s about $50 more expensive than the 6-in-1 with not a ton more functionality. I would recommend skipping this model unless you really want the extra space, and choosing either the base 6-in-1 or the Ultra 10-in-1 below!

 

Instant Pot Ultra Programmable 10-in-1 6 quart: This uber high-tech machine has a Delay button so you can program it to start pressure cooking up to 24 hours in advance. The Warming function keeps food warm for up to 10 hours! It also has a turn dial knob to quickly switch between functions. It has the most amount of functionality including: Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Cake, Egg, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, and Slow Cook. 

 

PROS: More functionality and much greater control of cooking temperatures and time. The Slow Cook & Saute functions have 3 levels (low, medium and high heat). Better for high altitude cooking (adjust for altitude). Great for on-the-go families – set it to start cooking while you’re at work or a soccer game! You can make yogurt in this one too.

CONS: This one is a bit less intuitive to use. You really need to read the manual to figure out how to properly set your functions. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze though!


 

PRACTICE RECIPES TO START

(instructions for base 6-in-1 model – “Manual” function is the “Pressure Cook” function on 10-in-1)

 

BONE BROTH

Broth is one of the easiest recipes to make in your Instant Pot. Start with at least 2 pounds of pastured beef, chicken or pork bones. To get the most gelatinous broth, choose chicken feet. To get the most flavorful broth, make sure you add carrots, onions, garlic, sea salt, and a bay leaf to your pot.

RECIPE

2 to 3 pounds pastured beef, chicken or pork bones (see note above)

Filtered water (enough to cover the bones)

Vegetables: 1/2 onion, 2 carrots, 8 cloves peeled garlic, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Add all ingredients to Instant Pot. Set “Manual” function to at least 60 minutes (the more, the better flavor). Once timer has elapsed, set the “Saute” function for 30 minutes. Keep the lid off and let your broth simmer to reduce slightly and condense the flavor into a stock. At this point, you can add fresh herbs, lemon juice, or dried herbs. Keep a close eye on the liquid level to make sure it does not reduce too quickly (the full 30 minutes may not be necessary depending on liquid amount). 

 

 

CAULIFLOWER RICE

You do not want to over-cook your cauliflower rice. It is best to set for no longer than 2 minutes or you risk winding up with a watered down mush. Use my recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Rice as a start. 

 

instant pot cauliflower rice

 

 

WHITE RICE

Soak uncooked rice by covering it with filtered water for 30 minutes in the pot. Discard all water and rinse rice again. Add an equal amount of liquid to the pot. For example, if you used 1 cup dry rice, use 1 cup liquid of choice (water, broth, coconut milk). Add 1 teaspoon oil for every 1 cup of rice as well as a generous pinch of salt. Cook using the “Rice” function on your Instant Pot model and release pressure as soon as the timer elapses to prevent over-cooking the rice. Stir immediately to prevent sticking.

 

 

STEWS & SOUPS

 

My basic formula for making quick stews and soups is below. Note that you do not want to always add the vegetables at the same time as the meat. To get perfectly cooked components, you add them at separate times just like you would on the stovetop. The nice part is you don’t have to stand over the stove to watch for burning or over-cooking when using the Instant Pot. My 1-hour Pot Roast is a good example of this technique. 

instant pot pot roast

2 pounds grass-fed stew meat

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

Seasonings of choice (sea salt, dried herbs *not fresh yet*, coconut aminos, etc)

Broth (amount dependent on how thick you want your stew – no more than 1/2 cup for thick stew, 2 cups for soups)

1 lb starchy vegetable of choice, peeled and cubed (sweet potato, parsnip, carrot, beet)

3 cups hearty leafy greens

 

 

Turn “Saute” function on. Saute beef until lightly browned (2 to 3 minutes) then add onion and garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Set “Manual” pressure cooker timer to 25 minutes. NOW you add the starchy veggies to prevent overcooking them with the meat (which needs a longer cooking time). Cook meat & starchy veggies for about 7 or 8 minutes on “Manual” function. Release pressure, place on “Saute” function and stir in hearty greens until wilted and tender. 

 

 

 

BABY FOOD

When first introducing solids to my baby, I used the Instant Pot for a lot of her food. The first reason being it’s all I had time for…. secondly I didn’t have to stand over the steamer basket poking sweet potatoes obsessively to see if they were done.

 

MASHED SWEET POTATO

Washed and unpeeled sweet potatoes

1/2 cup water

Fat of choice (ghee, lard, tallow, coconut oil)

Depending on size of sweet potato, cook for about 10 minutes on “Manual” setting. Release pressure when timer elapses, poke with a fork for doneness. You can always add a couple more minutes if you think your large sweet potato needs longer. Remove sweet potatoes to a cutting board, slice open and let cool. Mash with fat of choice until smooth. You can even use the cooked sweet potato make my Sweet Potato Fat Balls which are easy for babies to self-feed and pick up!

 

COCONUT YOGURT

I have not made yogurt in my Instant Pot yet but thankfully by friend Laura has so check out her recipe! Coconut yogurt provides baby with real food probiotics, is easy to digest and full of healthy fats!

 

PLAIN STEWED MEATS

Unseasoned stewed meats are an excellent first food for babies! You can make the stew recipe above but keep any spicy spices out of it to be safe! Remove the meat and starchy veggies from your stew, let cool, and shred, mash or puree for your baby depending on their age and abilities. I also suggest making Broth of Stock out of marrow bones but first roasting the bones, scooping out half the marrow and reserving it for baby, and then making your family’s stew with the remaining bones and marrow!

 


 

MORE OF MY PALEO INSTANT POT RECIPES

 

Mushroom Risotto

Cilantro Chicken Chili

Shredded Chicken with Almond Satay

Pineapple Chicken

Caribbean Spiced Shredded Beef

Maple Bacon Balsamic Pulled Pork

Maple Tamarind Ribs

1-hour Pot Roast

Creamy Ground Beef & Potato Stew

 

++++

 GET 141 MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES FROM BREAKFAST TO DINNER TO DESSERT & MORE

IN THE PALEO AIP INSTANT POT COOKBOOK

Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Orange, Olives & Oregano (Paleo/AIP/Whole30)

 

grilled chicken kabobs paleo

 

Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Orange, Olive + Oregano will keep your summertime dishes fresh this summer. Orange juice tenderizes the chicken and adds a touch of sweetness while the garlic and oregano add a Mediterranean flair. Skewred with salty kalamata olives, these kabobs have a special touch to set them apart during your family BBQs.

 

I serve these with fluffy cilantro cauliflower rice and a cucumber salad. I found this Creamy Cucumber Salad that would pair perfectly with these grilled chicken kabobs. You can also use my Dairy-Free Tzatziki as a dipping sauce like I do!

 

I have many fond memories of my mom grilling us up kabobs after playing in the pool all day. Can I share with you a pool game I invented at age 6 that I thought was terribly exciting. It entertained me for hours on end. I would throw… THROW… an unwrapped Jolly Rancher from the shallow end into the deep end. I then would challenge myself to retrieve it under water before it sunk to the bottom.

 

If you’re wondering if my reward was eating the Jolly Rancher… no. I would continue this game until the chlorinated water whittled away the candy. I just don’t know what such an invention says about me. I guess that I’m self-sufficient and thrifty.

 

Oh childhood – I miss the simplicity and how every day was an opportunity to learn something new and create my own adventure. Do you still view summer this way? If not, I challenge you to find a hobby, event or social outing this summer that sparks that curiosity and excitement in you. Mine is to travel more this summer.

 

We took our first family trip with a 13-month-old to Boulder, Vail and Omaha last week. I have a bachelorette party in New Orleans, a wedding in St. Augustine and now I’m trying to figure out one more trip for early fall! Somewhere affordable I can take Grace to… she’s a pretty awesome travel partner. I mentioned on Instagram that I will put together a post of some baby travel tips soon!

 

 

 


GET THE RECIPE FOR GRILLED CHICKEN KABOBS WITH ORANGE, OLIVE + OREGANO

 

 

 

grilled chicken kabobs

 

 

I did a Liver Detox + I’m sharing my results

 

I wanted to share my experiences with the completion of my first liver support program. It opened my eyes to the importance of a functioning detox and lymphatic system and proved to be the missing piece to my current diet and lifestyle post-partum. Meals aren’t always well-rounded and sleep is certainly interrupted which limits my detox ability.

 

I also know that I’m not a fantastic detox-er by nature thanks to some genetic mutations. I’ve known this for a long time – one alcoholic drink usually leaves me feeling hungover.

 

Previously, I mocked detoxes as get-rich-quick fads that just about anyone could throw together and sell. I rarely say “never”, but I would n-e-v-e-r do a juice cleanse or other extreme detox measures. I like to chew my food, and I find those programs to be more stressful than helpful.

 


 

The program I participated in seemed doable though. I could see how it fit into my life as a new mom. It’s called Love Your Liver Seasonal Detox

 

I didn’t have to drastically change my diet – It’s quite in line with AIP actually! I just had to ADD some detox tools and focus on certain foods and tonics. I can do that!

 


My major complaint post-partum was slow digestion and difficulty digesting fats.

I also wasn’t tolerating nuts, sweeteners and decaf coffee like I used to. I knew I needed some liver and gallbladder support after the hormonal demands placed on my body going from an autoimmune flare to pregnancy to extended breastfeeding.

I also find the seasonal breakdowns very interesting. For example, they state the purpose of a spring detox is the following:

 

 

SPRING: For optimal energy, beauty, mood, and weight loss, the gallbladder and liver must be working at their best. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is related to anger. Therefore, as you cleanse your liver and eat liver-loving foods, you notice a dramatic shift in your mindset. The liver has over 500 metabolic jobs, including the production of bile, a means of natural detoxification. If there are stones or blockages in the gallbladder from storing too much toxic bile, then you become tired, irritated, and constipated.


THE LOVE YOUR LIVER PROGRAM is a…

Safe, Guided Detox

The program includes eliminating particular foods known to cause inflammation or digestive distress. If you’re following an AIP diet, you likely won’t have to eliminate anything. I re-eliminated nuts, sweetener and coffee. I continued to eat seeds and spices since those are allowed, and they do not cause me symptoms.

 

Most importantly, you add their prescribed detox tools, teas and tonics into your daily regimen. They don’t take a lot of time and I was able to include them in my day without being overwhelmed.

 

A lot of the detox tools you’ve heard of or use from time to time, but the magic appears when you combine them into a daily routine I found. Some of my favorites: oil pulling, dry brushing and Epsom baths. 

 

 

What You’ll Get

A handy detox guide with everything you need to know about the program, helpful tips, the 3-phase process of detox, all about caffeine, stress and sugar addiction, insights on gut health and mindfulness practices like journaling and meditation.

 

A recipe ebook with detox and reintroduction-friendly recipes to get you started. You do not have to follow their recipes (some contain non-AIP ingredients like chia seeds) to participate though. I find the recipes targeted more towards a veganic or vegetarian lifestyle rather than Paleo. They do suggest you add your own protein to each meal, if you’d like (which is what I did).

 

Basically, it looks like you’re eating a very cleaned up version of Paleo or AIP. For example, you may have broiled lemon dill salmon, roasted broccoli, and sauteed sweet potatoes with whatever seasonings (except nightshades) that you prefer. You’re NOT including Paleo treats or processed foods like sweet potato chips.

 


SAMPLE RECIPE FROM THE EBOOK

GRAPEFRUIT GINGER SMOOTHIE

BLEND TIL SMOOTH:

1 1/2 cups dairy-free milk

1/2 medium grapefruit, peel removed

1/2 avocado

1 large handful kale or spinach

1-inch fresh ginger OR 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

 

 

I also created this liver support smoothie for my blog readers…

 

beet berry smoothie

Drink this Beet + Berry Detox Smoothie once a day!

 

There’s a ton of recipes – and they’re all very simple. This is where you’ll find the tonics like the Cranberry Cleanser, Lemon Water Elixir & Black Beauty Drink. Remember, the recipes change up a bit each seasonal detox, so you may see different ones in your program.

 

You also receive online community support via a private Facebook group as well as daily support emails.

 

The best part about these seasonal detoxes is once you complete them, you have forever access to the recipes + guides. Bust it out in spring 2018. It pays for itself year after year!

 

 


MY RESULTS

Improved sleep. I slept more restfully, less restlessly, and felt like I had enough sleep when I woke up (average 7- 7 ½ hours a night.

More energy. With restful sleep comes more energy. I no longer need an afternoon nap or feel like I won’t make it the whole day.

Better mood. I can swing into anxiety pretty quickly and that is usually rebounded by feeling depressed. It may last only a few days, but it steals my joy. I feel much more even-keeled now. I suspect this mostly has to do with eliminating nuts and sugar (even honey) and keeping them out of my diet

No joint pain. As I mentioned, I no longer have pain in the morning upon waking. I no longer have plantar fasciitis discomfort either even though I’ve increased my physical activity (see “More Energy”)

Hormonal balance. There’s been a switch up in my hormones. My libido has increased and I’m still breastfeeding 5 to 6 times a day

Clear, bright skin. I’ve never had any major skin complaints like cystic acne but when we moved to Florida in December I developed eczema (or possibly perioral dermatitis) around my mouth and nose. The Beautycounter Cleansing Balm helped significantly but I noticed some days it would be worse than others without an obvious cause. I think it is related to pollen counts, but those reddened areas decreased 80% since starting the program.

Lowered stress response. I am less likely to get overwhelmed these days. While the program offers some mental health tools, I didn’t actually use them. The liver and digestive support helped me feel balanced enough. Now I’m the one telling my husband to chill out.

 

 

Ready to start your detox too? You can join HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Cherry Pie Bars (Paleo, AIP, Vegan, No Sugar Added)

 

cherry pie bars paleo

 

These Cherry Pie Bars have become a classic summertime treat in our household. Perfect for the Fourth of July or any other summer holiday weekend.

 

The crust is made of sweet potatoes and coconut flour and has a buttery shortbread taste. The filling has that classic gooey, sticky fruitiness from cherries, dates and a bit of tartness from lemon. I also love how simple the ingredients are in this recipe!

 

I love how the crust is made from vegetables and the filling from fruit. These are a great option if you’re limiting your sugar intake but still want a little sweet treat to celebrate. I’ll be doing a blog post on a recent liver detox I did that eliminated sweeteners. It really reset my palate so fruit has become a dessert for me now (and one I enjoy every single day).

 

I have a lot of other sweetener-free desserts like my Caramel Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Skillet Apple Crumble, Paleo Baby Birthday Cake, Banana Ice Cream and Frosted Carrot Cupcakes too!

 

 

Want to make this using another summer-y fruit?

Try an equal amount of blueberries, strawberries or blackberries! In fact, ripe mulberries would be awesome here too! We were just in Nebraska this past weekend and I was picking fresh ripe mulberries off the trees on my runs. A little dine and dash, if you will.

 

 

Grain-free crust made from sweet potato AND tastes like shortbread with a sugar-free cherry pie filling… sign me up, sign me up, sign me UP!

 

 

Find the recipe for free HERE

 

or

With 175+ AIP recipes in my cookbook

The Healing Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

BBQ Pulled Pork with Tangy Carolina Sauce from The Healing Kitchen

bbq pulled pork paleo

 

I shared this recipe for AIP-friendly BBQ Pulled Pork with Tangy Carolina Sauce back in 2015, but it was seriously buried in a long post about The Healing Kitchen! It’s so delicious and perfect for your nightshade-free summer BBQ I wanted to bring it to the forefront.

 

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my cookbook, it’s full of 175+ Paleo/AIP recipes that are family and budget-friendly. I wanted you to be able to bring a lot of your comforting favorites along your healing journey. It’s a perfect cookbook for those starting out on AIP or those a little bit bored with their same old recipes.

 

Some of my other favorites I’ve shared here including Pesto Chicken Pizza, Toasted Coconut Cream Pops, Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Pineapple Dipping Sauce + Red Sangria.

 

 

 

 

You can still find The Healing Kitchen in book stores and on Amazon for the best price (usually about 40% off!) I’ve had a lot of friends and family members buy the book for their loved ones, clients and peers who struggle with autoimmunity and changing their diet.

As always, tag me on Instagram when you make a dish from THK and use the hashtag #thehealingkitchen so I can share your meals too!

 

 

1 review

BBQ Pulled Pork with Tangy Carolina BBQ Sauce

Preparation 00:10 2017-10-17T00:10:00+00:00 Cook Time 01:40 2017-10-17T01:40:00+00:00 Serves 8 to 10     adjust servings


Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, such as Boston butt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked fine sea salt or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup beef, pork or chicken broth
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 3/4 cup Tangy Carolina BBQ Sauce (recipe in notes)

Instructions

PRESSURE COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

1. Slice 4 slits in the top of the meat and stuff a garlic clove in each slit. Rub the entire surface of the meat with the sugar, ginger, salt, and cinnamon. Put the broth and onions in the pressure cooker insert, then lay the meat on top of the onions. Lay the bacon slices on top of the meat.
2. Seal the lid and set the pressure cooker’s manual timer for 90 minutes. When the timer goes off, release the pressure. If the meat does not shred easily with two forks, use a knife to cut the roast into large chunks and return them to the pressure cooker for an additional 15 minutes of cooking.
3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the cooking pot, but reserve the onions. Shred the pork and bacon by pulling two forks in opposite directions to pull the meat apart. Transfer the meat back to the pot with the onions and stir in the BBQ sauce, tasting and adding more sauce or salt as desired.


SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

1. Slice 4 slits in the top of the meat and stuff a garlic clove in each slit. Rub the entire surface of the meat with the sugar, ginger, salt, and cinnamon. Put the broth and onions in the slow cooker insert, then lay the meat on top of the onions. Lay the bacon slices on top of the meat.
2. Cook on high for 1 hour, then on low for 6 to 7 hours, until the pork can be easily shredded with two forks.
3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Drain the liquid from the cooking pot, but reserve the onions. Shred the pork and bacon by pulling two forks in opposite directions to pull the meat apart. Transfer the meat back to the pot with the onions and stir in the BBQ sauce, tasting and adding more sauce or salt as desired.

Recipe Notes

TANGY CAROLINA BBQ SAUCE
Makes 2 cups | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 12 minutes | Total Time: 17 minutes

1 cup sweet potato puree (see Tip)
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Tip: Buy canned sweet potato puree for quick preparation.

Whisk together all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and whisk continuously while maintaining a low boil for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. This sauce is thinner than traditional BBQ sauce.