How to Conquer Leaky Gut

 

Autoimmune disease and leaky gut are such esoteric and intangible concepts. A diagnosis of either (usually both) of these can make your head spin like the teacup ride at your town fair. Know this: if you have/suspect autoimmunity, you must address your digestive health as the majority of your immune system is located in your gastrointestinal tract.

 

So what comes first? Leaky Gut or Autoimmune Disease? We still don’t know, but it probably varies per individual. Autoimmune disease is NOT a single-origin process. It involves both the genetic predisposition to the formation of auto-antibodies as well as the necessary environmental triggers to initiate or catalyze autoimmunity. For example, hypothyroidism runs common on one side of my family, but I didn’t develop Hashimoto’s until I had a severe food allergy reaction to fried vegetable tempura at a questionable sushi restaurant in college. Within 1 week I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and my thyroid levels were sky high. Prior to that event, I was a very healthy and active individual.

 

Our gut mucosa plays an incredibly important role in immune health. Healthy intestines protect us from autoimmune pathogenesis by keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Our bodies require an intact intestinal lining and a healthy gut biome (bacteria population) to prevent the passage of food and toxins into our systemic circulation, which leads to antigen formation in autoimmune-suscpetible individuals. If our guts develop an “Open Door” policy, a vicious cycle is triggered between autoimmunity and intestinal permeability.

 

Increased intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut) leads to immune system dysfunction/upregulation which leads to further damage to the gut mucosa which leads to a continuous immune response unless it is stopped. How do you stop such a stubborn cycle? Addressing inflammation from a dietary and lifestyle appoach while working with a knowledgeable practitioner who is open to some untraditional methods for decreasing inflammation.

 

While that was an incredibly simplified version of the connectivity between autoimmunity and gut health, it is beyond vital that you treat your leaky gut NOW. The Autoimmune Protocol/Paleo Approach has helped many people do just that. Relief from symptoms, repaired gut lining, improved digestion and nutrient absorption, and down-regulated immune responses are just some of the reported results of AIP. Of course this is all anecdotl and case study-based evidence, but there are certain interventions that aren’t feasible to reproduce in a lab-controlled study. How do you ensure an individual is sleeping 8-10 hours a night, eating the foods right for their body, keeping mental and emotional stress low, and reintroducing eliminated foods properly? That would take a whole lot of money and time! Instead, a trial and error approach individualized to each of you is in order.

 

So what steps did I take to start my healing journey?

1. BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. Research your autoimmune condition in your spare time, join relevant Facebook groups with titles like Paleo, Autoimmune, Hashimoto’s, etc. Find a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor who has success in treating those with autoimmune and GI disorders. Do NOT give up if you don’t see immediate results. This is a trial and error process that may take you years to truly understand your unique body and how external factors affect it.

2. EAT CLEAN. EAT AT HOME. EAT FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. Be in control of your food at least 95% of the time. That may sound inconvenient or time-consuming, but you will get into a rhythm. Allow yourself 1/2 to 3/4 lb of good quality protein per day, at least 3-6 cups of greens, as many non-starchy veggies as you want, and definitely some healthy root-based starches if you’re active. Cook in bulk. Always have fresh herbs and citrus on hand to add flavor to food. Take 1-2 hours on Sunday and prep, prep, prep. Your Tuesday self will thank you. I have been eating this way for over 18 months, and it has never been boring. You just have to experiment and have fun in the kitchen with what you CAN eat. Forget what you can’t have right now – it’s just food. You’ll make friends with coffee or rice again in the future, but for now keep your distance and don’t think about it too much.

3. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. You are the only one that can help you. Do not rely on a doctor, a naturopath,  Whole Foods or the Internet to heal you. Love yourself enough to realize your future happiness and well-being depends on how you treat your body today. Be kind and forgiving to yourself throughout your journey. Stay motivated by talking about your progress with loved ones. Take 30 minutes a day to do something that makes you feel like your old self whether that’s going for an easy run, meditating, painting, or having tea with friends.

4. DON’T BE CRAY. Don’t stay up late trolling the Internet for an answer. Sleep is just as important as food. Don’t let your leaky gut protocol prevent you from socializing. You don’t have to eat with your friends to enjoy their company at dinner. Meditate at least 5 minutes a day, even if your meditation means just being mindful of how you’re feeling today. Go out and enjoy your hobbies, friends, and family as if autoimmune disease didn’t exist. Do not let it overtake your happiness but let is inspire you to achieve your dreams despite this roadblock. Don’t feel sorry for yourself but grateful that you understand your body’s needs better than you ever did before.

 

Cinnamon Plantain Fritters (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

 

 

Cinnamon Plantain Fritters cook up in 15 minutes + make your gluten-free breakfast a breeze!

 

I’m a little disappointed in myself – I’m willingly watching a reality show about WWE girls called Total Divas. It just happened to be on when I turned the TV on and the remote is just a foot too far away to warrant removing the blanket from my body. I had no idea wrestling was loved worldwide. I have and never will understand why humans like watching other humans elbow each other in the gut and divebomb someone on the head.

 

You know what’s much more interesting to me? Staring at succulent gardens while making annoying slurpy noises in my almost-empty iced tea. Oh no, now I’m watching a show about Nick Lachey opening a bar in his hometown. We haven’t had cable in over a year, and since we are subletting an apartment right now, we are privy to sublease dude’s cable stations. TV has only gotten worse since the last time I checked. 98 Degrees was my favorite in the 90’s. I like “Jeff” – I can’t recall his last name. I ended up marrying a man of the same name, but a much, MUCH worse singing voice. My Jeff sounds like a 90-year-old man with a sinus infection who also just got punched in the throat when he sings.

 

So this recipe was inspired by my will to create a pancake for the project I’ve been working/slaving on. Really, sweating. Sweating all over the food because my teeny, teeny, teeny kitchen has zero ventilation and even thinking about turning the oven on increases the air temperature by 3 degrees.

 

This recipe turned out less  than traditional pancake texture and more fritter-y but still delicious, so I thought I’d share them on here instead. I did end up coming up with a pancake recipe made from green bananas instead though for the book! Num. Num.

 

We topped these with a good drizzle of honey (or maple) but you could make them less sweet with a pat of ghee or coconut oil or some coconut whipped cream. We probably make pancakes 1 morning every month or two, which is the morning I forgive my “no sweetener before dinner” rule and also try to serve them with a side of sausage to regulate the blood sugar levels. Because me + sugar in the morning = “Is it time for a nap? It’s 10 a.m.!”

 

 

10 reviews

Cinnamon Plantain Fritters

Prep Time :10 Serves 5 to 6 fritters


Ingredients

Directions

  1. Peel and slice the plantains and place in a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients except the coconut oil used for frying. Blend for about 20 seconds until pureed. The batter may be slightly chunky, but it will not affect the end recipe.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, drop rounded ¼ cup of batter into pan, leaving 2 inches between fritters. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smooth and flatten the batter so create circles 4-inches wide and no more than 1/3-inch thick. For the best results, ensure the fritters are of even thickness all around.
  3. Cook on each side for 4 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Fritters are easiest to flip when using a large metal spatula and sliding carefully under the entire fritter. Just make sure the underside is well cooked to prevent the fritter from falling apart when flipping.
  4. Serve drizzled with additional honey and topped with coconut whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

 

 

 

Top 10 Austin Paleo Guide

This was my third trip to Austin which has been named the Paleo Mecca of America (I unofficially made that up) as the host of the annual PaleoF(x) convention each April. The other two trip were for the Ironman Triathalon here in October – one of which I worked and the other which I watched a friend race. Both trips were focused on the race though, so I didn’t get to do much exploring. This trip was slam-packed with outdoor activity, which is quite courageous of us in the July heat. Temperatures were averaging 99 degrees every day, and it really doesn’t cool down at night like we thought it would. I would suggest traveling here any month except June through mid-September if you want to avoid the heat. 

When I searched for a good Paleo Guide to honest a few popped up, but they didn’t include what to DO in Austin – just what to eat! Well my philosophy is there is more to life than food… much, much more! Here is my list of my favorite things we did in Austin that promote a healthy lifestyle via fun, sunshine, and activity!

1. Boat Rental on Lake Austin

My favorite part of the trip was renting a zippy little boat on Lake Austin from the company Keep Austin Wet. The owner is a super friendly guy who will give you the best spots. The views are beautiful as your surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and monster mansions. They also include a tube and waterskis if you feel like getting in the water. The farther west/north you go, the colder the water gets. It dropped from upper 70s to mid 60s within a 40 minute boat ride which made it even more refreshing on a hot 100 degree day!

2. Ziplining Lake Travis

This is a popular adventure tour in Austin and started about 4 years ago during the drought. We booked in advance for the morning group to avoid too much heat exposure. You start the course by taking a van to the lake where you board a boat to start the course. It conssits of 5 ziplines – 2 of which are “bunny hills” as they called them and 3 which are more exciting. A couple of them go over the lake and have pretty amazing views. You can easily complete the 3-hour tour with moderate physical endurance as there are only 2 longer “hikes” up the cliffs to the next station. Our tour guide was Rex and he is very charismatic. Other tour guides looked like high school kids recovering from last night’s hangover. 

3. Swimming in Barton Springs

We walked to Barton Springs along the Greenbelt with a friend and paid the entry fee into the Barton Springs Pool which is a hybrid between a man-made and natural spring. The water is natural spring water but the concrete barriers to make the pool are not. The water temp is a refreshing 74 degrees and we had fun swimming two long laps through the spring. It gets very crowded in the summer so I suggest going during their late night swim around 8 pm.

4. Dairy-free Ice Cream at Sweet Ritual

The BEST dairy-free ice cream we have had by far! Sweet Ritual is a vegan ice cream shop that shares a space with Juiceland, a popular chain of juice cafes with some awesome combos themselves. There are 3 flavors of coconut milk ice cream that are soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and grain-free. While this is a “Paleo” guide to Austin – the ice cream doesn’t technically fall under that category but it’s still a healthy treat option when you’re on vacation! I got the Toasted Coconut, Salty Caramel, and Birthday Cake divided between the few occasions we went there with a toasted coconut topping. My husband got the gluten free ice cream sandwiches and loved them too. The workers are very friendly and willing to answer all your questions about ingredients. Overall, they do a good job keeping it simple but do include some stabilzers like guar gum, tapioca starch and locust bean gum. Not gonna kill you to have that a few times a year though!

5. Running Mount Bonnell

One night we went to watch the sunset at Mount Bonnell which is a gorgeous cliffside neighbhorhood on Lake Austin with the insane homes we viewed during our boat ride. The hills are steep – like San Francisco steep! So we decided to run some hill intervals to work off the aforementioned ice cream. If you’re not into feeling like you’re going to die, then park on the side of the road near the observation deck and walk around the neighbhorhood for an hour to see some impressive real estate and views!

6. BBQ Ribs at Terry Black’s & Brisket at Freedman’s

Austin is the BBQ-lovers paradise with the sweet, smokey smells that waft through the air no matter if its 7 in the morning or 12 at night. We were pretty picky about the BBQ we ate. While I tried to avoid nightshades on this trip, I couldn’t not try the ribs at Terry Black’s. BBQ Ribs are my spirit food. The ribs here had a nice thick caramelized exterior and moderately smokey and tender meat. I got 1/2 a lb which amounted to 2 large ribs. We also got the smoked turkey which was not memorable but would make a good sandwich if you’re watching your calories (boring). The night before we went to Freedman’s and tried their nightshade-free meats including the brisket (really yummy but even better cold the next day) and the pulled pork (which I enjoyed more than my husband did since it’s my favorite shredded meat). The seasonings are only salt and pepper, but ask to leave the BBQ sauce off the pork because they mix it in. Avoid the chicken because it’s brined in beer and the ribs have a jalapeno sauce on them if you’re avoiding nightshades. Verdict: I felt a little crappy in the morning after the Terry Blacks ribs (probably the nightshades or meat quality), but I felt perfectly fine after the Freedman’s feast. Austin’s most famous BBQ, Franklin’s, was closed the week we were there for vacation unfortunately!

7.Deep tissue massage at  AustinDEEP

Austin has a lot of cheekily named small businesses and I visited two of them on this trip. One of them being AustinDEEP – a massage studio that serves up deep tissue massages and infrared beds. First time clients get a free 30-minute session on the infrared massage bed which involves laying fully clothed on a table that heats up to 140 degrees via infrared rays while the bed massages you at specific points, sort of like during a pedicure at a nail salon but much more relaxing. I took a nap. I also loved how they offered watermelon infused water and all clients get a bag of complimentary bath salts, organic makeup wipes, and full body wipes after their massage. Well worth the $100!

8. Chocolate Chip Cookies at Picnik

I went to Picnik for the first time about two years ago right when they opened. The owner, Naomi, is the most bubbly, sweet girl. She wasn’t there when we went for our coffees and cookies two mornings, but we still enjoyed the outdoor picnic tables and friendly staff. They have loads of all Paleo options there but their specialty is butter coffee. One morning I had mine made with ghee but my stomach suspiciously broke out into a rash within 2 hours so obviously dairy, even ghee, and I are not friends. A few mornings later I had them make it with coconut milk and it was equally delicious without any ugly consequences. Their chocolate chip cookies are made with coconut flour and are grain and egg free. They taste like softer, yummier Chips Ahoy cookies… in a good way of course!

9. Central Market in Hyde Park

I didn’t think it could get any better than Whole Foods in terms of a big-box grocer that actually offers local goods and produce and trustworthy cafe food. We stumbled upon Central Market, which is HEBs natural chain of stores. It is RIDICULOUS. If you want to find the freshest produce, highest quality prepared foods, yummiest coffee, and tastiest local products then you must hit this place up! We ate here twice and both times I got the grilled salmon, dill roasted carrots, and sweet potato and kale quinoa salad. You know why they’re even better than WF?? They actually use olive oil to cook their foods instead of canola oil! How awesome is that!? That kind of stuff really makes me respect a company. They also have very tasty in-house roasted meats like garlic and rosemary crusted pork loin. Their treats section is also very impressive – we got a vegan “Hostess” cupcake that was the most ridiculous treat I’ve eaten in probably 5 years but still pretty clean and a few bars of my favorite chocolate Willie’s Cacao, who I want to get a giveaway from so you guys can enjoy them too! They have a huge outdoor patio so you can enjoy your food in the sun or shade and if you have kids, they have a playground on site. There’s also live music, yoga classes, and food tastings! 

10. Whisler’s in East Austin

This sweet-ass bar located among some of the hippest (read:renovated bungalows) bars and restaurants in Austin is a do-not-miss even if you don’t drink. We went with my husband’s friend and were instantly impressed with the restored two-story home. There’s some gorgeous exposed brick and original fixtures that made it fun to poke around. There’s also a large outdoor space, a covered outdoor space, and two stories indoor. Even with all that room it was still crowded, but we could easily hear our conversations since they don’t blast the music. I ordered several Topo Chico mineral waters to keep me quenched but the boys got some delicious looking pepper-spiced beverages. 

Runner Ups

Paper Place for the BEST gift-shopping, stationary, books, and crafting. I got gifts for some friends, an adult coloring book for me, coloring pencils, and fun straws!

Juiceland freshly pressed juices with a large array of ingredients, agua frescas, functional smoothies and lots of Paleo goodies. They employ the NICEST people too! One location gave me some durian fruit to try (it tastes like pungent garlic-fruit) and another location gave me a free anti-inflammatory shot after I complained about feeling poopy from those nightshades!

My 10 Best AIP Recipes (Paleo/AIP)

10. Avocado Carob Fudge Bars

A LOT of you guys have made these unique bars and I usually get the same comment, “They look so good, but they sound so weird [goes and makes bars] OMG THEY ARE SO GOOD. HIDE ME.” These three layer bars get a lot of lip service from us and I highly recommend making a batch to keep in the fridge for an on-the-go snack. They are very low in sugar compared to most AIP or Paleo treats, so they won’t whack you out for the rest of the day. Let’s just say they taste a lot more “bad” for you than they actually are – they are full of healthy fats and are hearty enough to fill you up too!

9. Hummus

Now I actually haven’t gotten tons of feedback on this recipe, but I think a lot of you guys are Googling “AIP Hummus” and my recipe is the first link. I’ve made this three times for the occasion of a Lebanese Feast. I think this tastes like the real deal. No, not Sabra Hummus. That stuff tastes NOTHING like real Middle Eastern hummus, I’m sorry. Real hummus is thick, lemony, oily and salty. I had one reader make a comment that made me laugh. She said it tastes like lemony mashed potatoes, which is exactly what this is!! BUT if you make it as directed in the recipe, the texture should be very similar to traditional hummus and will definitely suffice your hummus and veggie cravings! Serve it with my Lebanese Roast Chicken with Beef & Parsnip Rice Stuffing for a true Meditteranean meal!

8. PMS Brownies

So with this on-slaught of estrogen dominance that I’ve been wading through with my Hashimoto’s flare, my menstrual cycles are pretty bitch-assy right now. The girls are sore pretty much 28/30 days of the month, water retention is real life, and my cravings for carbs around that time of the month are torturous. Rather than completely derail my efforts to avoid too much sugar, I made these dense, fudgy brownies with coconut sugar (which I tolerate better than even honey, personally). In typical me fashion, I had to put a fruit or vegetable in these puppies, so I chose almost a cup of blueberries, which don’t impart a blueberry flavor at all but at least I can be like, “Well, I’m eating a superfood shaped like a brownie, right?”

7. Frosted Carrot Cupcakes

One of my first forays into baking with sweet potato flour and back when I didn’t want to touch sugar with a 10-foot pole. I’ve now loosened up on those restrictions a little bit for the sake of flavor in certain baked goods, but these carrot-sweet potato muffin-cupcake hybrids really don’t need any! They are topped with a lemon-y palm shortening frosting, but I’ve seen some readers use whipped coconut cream, or my Whipped Honey Butter (SO GOOD) on them instead!

6. Instant Oatmeal

I created this recipe on the fly when I was staying with my sister in Florida for a weekend and had neglected to go shopping for any protein or extra vegetables. It was so hot that day in Florida, I only wanted to turn the stove on for a couple minutes, if at all! It’s a very adaptable recipe which you can get quite creative with. This version has cinnamon and blueberries and uses the optional thickener (sweet potato flour) but you can leave that out to make this SCD-legal and low starch. The base of the recipe, yellow squash, is neutral and will take on whatever you flavor it with – I’m thinking roasted strawberries would be awesome on top of this!

5. Anti-Inflammatory Meatballs

These are my (and yours!) absolute favorite meatball I have tried. Full of strong flavors like cilantro, ginger, and garlic then punched up with lime zest. Serve them with pesto zoodles, salad, or simply a side of fresh melon.

4. Chicken n’ Gravy

I made this recipe right around the time I was getting married last year because I was hankering for something naughty but in typical dumb-girl fashion, I was trying to be super “good” until my wedding day where I gorged on gluten-free donuts and fried fish with compressed watermelon. The chicken is pretty standard, but still juicy. What makes this recipe is the easy “gravy” made from white sweet potatoes, bacon grease, and fresh herbs. I’ve never eaten white gravy before, but people that have that I have fed this to say they love it.

3. Fit Fat Bombs

When I first made these 3-ingredient no-bake “treats” as one of my first blog posts, I was shocked they received the attention they did! Not because they aren’t good but because they’re kind of one of those “no recipe recipes” that I made on the fly one afternoon as I was about to go into a hard workout pretty hungry but wanted to avoid the energy crash of doing so…. while not having to digest anything when my body was about to go into fight or flight mode. These little dudes are mostly fat which our bodies can quickly absorb as an energy source but also give you a quick burst of sugar in the form of sundried raisins. Plus those raisins MAKE these fat bombs because they add a chewy texture so it feels like you’re eating when you’re really not having your digestive system do much work at all.

2. Rosemary & Prosciutto Stromboli

Do you miss pizza but seriously cannot tolerate dairy or gluten-free crusts? Are those AIP-friendly flatbreads just not cutting it without the gooey cheesiness that makes pizza one of America’s most loved foods? I promise you will be satisfied with these stromboli (which some of you have turned into pizza, calzones, and hot pockets). The dough is made from mashed white sweet potato and tapioca flour which creates a cheesy, stringy flavor and eating experience. Adding prosciutto and rosemary gives this winner an upscale Italian feel but you guys have also filled it with pulled pork, sausage meat, veggies, and buffalo chicken. Yum!

1. Rustic Apple Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe was going to be a guest post on a popular Paleo blog, but I’m so glad I hoarded it for G&E! You lovelies are frequently sharing your cinnamon roll creations with me on Instagram and I’ve never seen anyone make any changes! I guess they’re pretty darn good, especially if you stay away from any grains whatsoever. I called them “Rustic” because they are definitely not fluffy, gooey shopping mall cinnamon rolls but more hearty and filling. The dough is also made from white sweet potato, unsweetened applesauce, and a bit of AIP-friendly flour that can be found in most grocers these days. The filling is diced fresh apples with a few Medjool dates and a hefty spoon of cinnamon because cinnamon makes me goo-goo-ga-ga. In fact, my favorite breakfast that I used to make myself every morning starting at age 6 was “Cinnamon Toast”. It was heinous (actually delicious) but I cannot BELIEVE my parents let me start my day off with two slices of toast smeared in Country Crock butter, sprinkled with cinnamon, and then one sprinkled in white sugar and the other sprinkled in brown sugar. No wonder I had attention and hyperactivity issues and couldn’t sit still long enough in class to ever get stickers for good behavior.

Sticky Antioxidant Energy Bites (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

 

 

I am forever looking for convenience foods that aren’t from the store… foods I can grab on the go, bring to the movies, on a spontaneous picnic, or offer up for snacks when I have friends over. I love making dried fruit energy balls with unique ingredients. How many times have we seen the standard date, coconut, almond balls cross our Pinterest homepage? When I started this blog, I vowed to never create recipes that are already available, or if I do then they must be improved upon. I don’t want to waste my time (or money) and most importantly yours, so I strive to only bring you all new and interesting recipes. These energy bites are 100% delicious, nutritious, and satisfying for a snacky sweet tooth or energy slump. Dried apricots are a wonderful choice for dried fruit as they are lower in sugar and calories than dates and higher in antioxidants and vitamin A than prunes. They also get the bowels talking with that high fiber content. Why the orange blossom and rose water? Besides being a common feature in Middle Eastern desserts (which I grew up on), they also provide antioxidants and their floral aromatic scent is very calming and nourishing. If you don’t own these beautiful waters yet, then I really suggest snagging some on Amazon (links in the recipe) or in the international aisle of your grocer. I use them  both in my beauty routine, adding a few drops to face masks, body lotions, and facial tonics. Girly Heaven.

 

Now, I have Google Analytics, and I can see which of my recipes are most popular, ahem Cherry Pie Bars, Anti-Inflammatory Meatballs, Chicken n’ Gravy. Those are all easy to prepare recipes with few ingredients and make wonderful leftovers. I see a trend here. You mean you’re not a Paleo superwoman? Ready to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen every week to provide you and your family healthy home cookin’? I don’t blame you. And if it wasn’t for this project I’m working on (announcement soon!), then I would only be in the kitchen a few times a week myself. There’s just so much more I would rather be doing – like walking my dog, playing on the beach, or pretending to do a crossword.

 

Paleo is about sustainability – in both senses of the word. Sustainable foods from ground to kitchen and a sustainable lifestyle that won’t drive you up the wall. Prior to AIP, I sustained Paleo with a 90/10 mentality. I often had dairy, gluten-free pizza, tortilla chips, and chocolate sweetened with cane sugar on the weekends. And I was more sane for it. I realized that going through life transitions in a new city caused a bit o’ stress on the ol’ bod and that manifested in a nasty leaky gut. But I  yearn for the day when I can occasionally enjoy a gluten-free beer with my friends again or have the chips and guacamole at Chipotle. They sound like little, nonsense bits, but if I’m doing those things, it means I’m living life and not worried about being prepared for my next meal. Who’s with me? Everyone? Thought so.

 

So moral of the story… make the autoimmune protocol work for you. If that means having a treat each day, make it one that won’t undo all your hard work (berries & coconut cream with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey… doesn’t get much better than that), or eating AIP recipes that are reinventions of your standard American diet favorites once or twice a week, DO IT. As my mother always says, “Life is for the living.” So live it up, live it good, and don’t forget to have a life.

 

Sticky Antioxidant Energy Bites

Makes 6-8 bites | Prep Time <5 minutes | Total Time <5 minutes + setting time

1 cup dried apricots

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp honey

1/4 tsp orange blossom water

¼ tsp rose water

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp sea salt

  • Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until combined. The apricots should be finely chopped and the mixture should adhere to itself well.
  • Roll into balls or press into mini muffin tin cups (as seen in photo). Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Mashed Carrots with Crispy Leeks & Rosemary (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

 

 

I’ve been mashing up more carrots than a room full of babies with tiny teeth lately. They’re a non-starchy option for those of us who do best on lower carb diets and when you add bone broth to anything, you’ve already succeeded at life. I love how flexible this recipe is too! Use beef or chicken broth and rosemary or thyme for different flavors. Serve it underneath some crispy chicken thighs or this Greek-Inspired Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Aw yeah.

 

Ugh, I’m so tired. If you guys were here, you would tell me to go to bed. I have a difficult time peeling (phewph, when I was spell-checking this, I read “peeing”) myself off the couch and the laptop is keeping my legs nice and toasty. I’m also using my dog as a foot rest, so can you really blame me for avoiding altering this situation? He smells like vanilla cookies too. I woke up cold this morning. Wanna know why? Because Chicago is having seasonal amnesia and decided that lows in the 50’s is perfectly acceptable for July. You know, one of the hottest months of the year.

 

I have noticed that I just feel better out of the Florida humidity. I don’t know what the humidity does to me on a physiological level but I know it makes me feel cranky, swollen, brain foggy, and grumpy. Two of those words are synonyms because I needed to stress how unpleasant I am when moisture levels exceed 40%. Which is unavoidable in the deep south. Actually, the humidity is one of my top 3 deciding factors on where I want to move next. We are exploring Austin as an option, which definitely has it’s sticky moments, but you tend not to get hot and humid at the same time there. Damn, how much longer can I talk about weather before I put myself to sleep. Not a bad idea considering my previous paragraph.

 

Mashed carrots are a tasty low-carb veggie side for roasted chicken, pork loin & roast beef!

 

 

Mashed Carrots with Leek & Rosemary

Prep Time 00:05 Cook Time 00:20 Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced and halved
  • 1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary

Directions

 

  1. Chop carrots into 1 ½-inch pieces and place in a large pot. You do not need to peel them. Add the bone broth, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain any remaining liquid and transfer carrots to serving dish. Mash to desired chunkiness with a potato masher. Stir in the lemon juice and sea salt.
  3. Sautee the leek and rosemary in the olive oil in the same pot you cooked the carrots in over medium heat until wilted and golden brown at the edges. Top the mashed carrots with the mixture and serve warm.

 

 

Bacon-Wrapped Cinnamon Apples (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

 

They say everything is better with bacon, but I have to admit I am not a bacon lover. Actually the smell of it cooking in the morning makes me incredibly nauseous! Weird. Word.

 

BUT bacon-wrapped things make me very happy. One of the best restaurants in Chicago is called HB (stands for Home Bistro) in Lakeview and they have bacon-wrapped almond-stuffed dates on their menu that are nothing like you’ve had before. There’s also a heavy sprinkle of brown sugar, so they don’t fit in to my life anymore but I’m glad I enjoyed them when I did. In fact, there’s an excessive amount of foods I am so glad I imbibed in pre-AIP because I likely will never enjoy true nightshade-y BBQ, fresh picked corn elote-style with grass-fed butter and lime zest, caramel cheesecake, and Jeni’s Spledid Brambleberry Crisp! Whew – did I just make you second-guess this whole healthy eating thing? Don’t – because a life of health, happiness, and vitality is much more satisfying than momentary gustatory pleasure.

 

To make up for the lack of the above in my life, at times I choose to indulge… as much as Paleo & Autoimmune Protocol lets you indulge! Cheers to overcoming illness and inflammation while still enjoying some delicious food like these

 

Get the recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Cinnamon Apples!

 

Strawberry Peaches n’ Cream Smoothie (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

 

 

We all need those simple recipes in our memory cache to utilize during busy mornings, harried afternoons, or just when you’re too dang hot to use your stove, oven, or grill. I whipped up this smoothie for my husband as he frolicked in the pool like an 8-year-old boy. We had a pleasant weekend with my parents – I use the word pleasant as it was nothing too exciting but just quality time catching up with them before we head back to Chicago for July and August. And then on to the next city. Where? I don’t know. We lead a nomadic life. How much more Paleo can that get?

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning (my current hometown) and the Chicago Blackhawks (my former and soon-to-be hometown) are playing each other in the Playoffs right now. We have been watching all the games (me in between recipe testing or stalking sublets on craigslist) and cheering them on. I even got into it for the whole last 3 minutes of the 3rd period in last night’s game. We watched at a bar called Try Wine where you receive a pre-loaded debit card that allows you to choose 1/2 ounces – 5 ounces of dozens of varieties of wine. I hadn’t had a drink in I can’t even count how many months, so I splurged on 2 oz of wine divided between a sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and port (delicious!). Two ounces and my sleep suffered and I felt extra tired all day. We remedied that with a long ocean swim. I love challenging myself to swim out to the buoys a few times. It’s really not that much of a challenge since salt water makes you pretty much weightless. I like to pretend I’m training for a triathalon though. Even though I look like a drowning frog.

 

Strawberry Peaches n’ Cream Smoothie

Serves 1-2 | Ready in 5 minutes or less

1 cup Frozen strawberries

1 Peach, sliced

½ cup Coconut milk

2 tbsp Collagen (optional)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. If desired, add Collagen Peptides right before serving.

Flares, Fatigue, & Exercise

 

I am in the latter half of the most severe Hashimoto’s flare I have had since being diagnosed in 2008 at age 19 after a bad food allergy reaction at a sushi restaurant. I can count my flares on one hand… the one in 2009 that resulted in severe anemia and gastritis, the one in 2010 after a senior year college spring break trip to Mexico left me with a nasty stomach virus and my first noticeable signs of leaky gut, and the one that started in September 2014 (and that I continue to fight) after a water leak in my apartment led to several weeks of black mold exposure thanks to the management company’s reluctance to fix the issue.

 

I have been an avid exerciser since age 6 when I started playing soccer. In fact, the only time I have ever gone without daily exercise is during this flare.  I have a history of over-exercising (sometimes 2-3 hours a day if I added up my walk, jog, yoga, weights, and/or swimming), but I have come to realize that my body just flat out craves stimulation. After working with children with sensory processing disorder, I now realize that we all have our individual sensory thresholds that need to be met. I NEED to move my body, my food has to be strong in flavor or I don’t register it at all, I LOVE being touched (hugs, massages, tickles, anything), and I also get a huge jolt of satisfaction from pushing my body kinesthetically. I even stand at work and in school because sitting zaps my attention, creativity, and arousal. 

 

If you have ever experienced Hashimoto’s or adrenal fatigue though, you will understand that your body just flat out doesn’t want to move even if your mind is asking it too. It’s in these cases that “Just do it” does not apply. Forcing yourself into physical activity when every cell in your body is saying “No, you crazy $%@^%!” is never a good idea. It can even drive you further into a state of disease. Just as we must eat intuitively, we must exercise intuitively. I wanted to share my experience and tips with maintaining a healthy mind and body during an autoimmune and adrenal flare.

 

Adrenal Fatigue

When you are experiencing adrenal fatigue (I was at Stage IV which is considered severe), you may feel like everything you do needs to be done with more effort than previously. You will likely lack the motivation to get yourself to the 5pm gym class after being at the office since 8 am. In fact, there may only be a couple hours in the day that find you have any energy at all! For me, the difference between adrenal fatigue and hypothyroid fatigue is the following. With adrenal fatigue I can only do 1-2 sets of an exercise that I used to be able to do 3-4 sets of with ease. With hypothyroid fatigue, I cannot physically bring my body into motion. I trip over stairs, my feet shuffle when I walk, even showering standing up is laborious.

  • Take it easy. High intensity exercise raises cortisol levels. Those with adrenal fatigue should be working on normalizing cortisol through stress reduction activities such as yoga, meditation, and walking. But some of us want a good sweat and a heart-pumping workout, so what’s a gal to do?
    • Extra long walks: Make time for several 90 minute walks a week. If you have hills or hiking trails nearby, incorporate those into your walking routine for a cardiovascular benefit.
    • Strength training: Short bursts of moderate intensity strength training to maintain muscle mass should be fine, but please listen to your body. Did you used to do 45-minute circuits with barely a break for water? Now you may want to stick with single muscle group movements that help maintain muscle mass but do not get the HR up such as biceps curls, shoulder presses, and triceps dips. I had a 6-week stint of being incapable of even a couple squats and biceps curls. Three months later I am back to 3 1-hour weight training sessions a week that include explosive movements that really get my heart rate up like box jumps, rope slams, and sled pushes.
    • Yoga: Rather than joining a gym during my flare, I joined a yoga studio and committed to at least 3 classes a week. Even if my schedule only allowed me to attend the advanced classes, I never pushed myself past a traditional Ashtanga or Vinyasa flow despite what the rest of the class was doing.

 

Hashimoto’s Fatigue

The fatigue that those in Hashi’s flares suffer from is no joke. In my opinion (after experiencing both), it is by far more incapacitating than adrenal fatigue. At my worst, I was unable to do 1 (ONE!) body weight squat after a 10-hour sleep! That “gym session” ended in a flood of tears and a deep depression the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t believe what my body was incapable of doing compared to what it used to do!

If your hypothyroidism is at the severity that mine was this winter, I do not suggest incorporating anything higher than mild intensity exercise into your routine. You will be fatiguing yourself even further which will only leave you too exhausted to participate in valued activities such as socialization, cooking, playing with your children, etc. Here are some suggestions for physical activity during a severe flare.

  • Short walks: I went for 10-15 minutes walks 2-3 times a day spaced out by several hours. None of these short strolls would leave me so exhausted that I needed to spend the rest of the day on the couch. I also only did my walks on nature trails as they provided a calming environment that encouraged me to take meditation breaks (usually sitting on a log or on bench).
  • Guided meditation: This is more of an exercise of the mind, but meditating for 10 minutes a day really helped calm the anxiety I was getting from not being able to move my body like I am used to moving it. I love the Headspace App. After a 10-minute session, I always feel like I’ve just had a wonderful nap.
  • Gentle yoga at home:  On my worst days, I would be too exhausted to even attend a yoga class at my studio. Instead of forcing myself, I would take my yoga mat to a quiet place in my apartment building and do a series of my favorite stretches like downward dog, pigeon, triangle, and cobra.

Toning down your exercise may be the last thing you want to do, especially if you are experience the rapid weight gain that comes along with Hashimoto’s like I am, but your future self with thank you. In fact, I 100% do not believe I would have recovered enough to resume my daily exercise if it wasn’t for those 3 months of rest. When you’re going stir-crazy in your own body, just remind yourself that this will all pass and you will live the physically fulfilled life you desire soon again once healing has occurred!

Lamb with Olive Tapenade Rice (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

If you like olives, make this tonight. If you don’t like olives, we cannot be friends in real life. Fine. Yes, we can. We just can’t be the type of friends that sit around on a Thursday night throwing olives into each other’s mouths from across the living room.

You know what I’m tired of seeing? Paleo recipes that use quotation marks to delineate that the “Rice” or “Bread” in the recipe isn’t your standard grain-based rice or bread. It makes you feel like you’re losing out (you’re not). Like, “hey you know Rice, that sexy guy down the street? This isn’t him, but it’s Rice’s cute little sister “rice”‘. How about we just revise what those words mean and never use quotation marks again?

I had my first visit with a naturopathic doctor today. I have given up on the Western medical community. I am reserving their services the next time I sprain my ankle or need some advice on what not to do. I am super excited about her. She sent me home with a stool test. That should be fun. I had to take the train home with my nondescript white paper bag full of empty stool samples that cost $300. I was PARANOID that someone would choose this evening to mug me. I sometimes plan in my head what I will say if someone does try to rob me (“What would your mother say if she saw what you were up to?”) Tonight I decided a simple “That’s for my poop.” should ward off any villains.

Lamb with Olive Tapenade Rice

Serves 3-4 | Prep Time 10 minutes | Cook Time 14 minutes

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1 tbsp chopped fresh Oregano

1 tbsp Olive oil

3 cups Butternut squash, cubes

1 lb Ground lamb

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 cup Raisins

1/2 tsp Sea salt

  1. Place olives, oregano, and olive oil in a food processor/blender and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

  2. Now place butternut squash in the blender/processor (no need to wash it – yay!) and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb. Do not disturb for 4 minutes until the lamb is browned on one side. Now use a wooden spoon to break the meat into bite-sized chunks (size of mini meatballs). Flip each chunk and brown the other side for 2 minutes.

  4. Add in the riced olives, butternut, cinnamon, raisins, and sea salt. Stir well, cover with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5-6 more minutes. Serve warm.