AIP Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

AIP Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (AIP/Paleo)

Growing up I moved around a lot so I had a particular fondness for things that were consistent and familiar. So, one of my favorite places to go out to eat was the restaurant Cracker Barrel. We started going to Cracker Barrel with some close family friends around the time that I was 4 or 5 and after that, the familiar atmosphere, smells and tastes always held fond memories for me. For years, I always got the same dish, chicken and dumplings and a root beer (I liked that they served it in the bottle and with a frosted mug). They would bring out a giant bowl of it and I would polish off every single bite. Even as I got older and my preferences changed I would still order the dish every now and again just because the nostalgia and familiarity were so comforting.

Now, as we approach February, my least favorite month of the entire year, and I adjust to living it yet another new place I am finding myself longing for more nourishing versions of the comfort foods of my past. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that emotional eating is the answer to life’s ups and downs, but if it can be both nourishing and comforting then there is nothing wrong with it in my book. This recipe doesn’t taste exactly like the Cracker Barrel version, but it is delicious in its own right and still just as comforting.

Do you have any favorite comfort foods from your childhood?

AIP Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings:

Ingredients:

AIP Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (AIP/Paleo) Soup:

3-4 chicken breasts

1 cup of bone broth

1 tsp sea salt

1 large onion (chopped)

4 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 cup of full fat coconut milk

2 medium carrots (peeled and chopped)

1 stalk of celery (Chopped)

2 tsp arrowroot flour

 

Dough:

1 cup tapioca flour

½ cup coconut flour

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp salt

3 TBS coconut Oil, melted.

½ Cup of hot water

 

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients for the soup except for the arrowroot powder into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. About an hour before serving add in your arrowroot powder. In a large mixing bowl combine all of your dry ingredients for your biscuit dough. Fold in your coconut oil until the dough becomes crumbly. Pour your hot water over the dough and stir until the dough forms a ball. Tear the dough into 1 to 2 inch pieces and place them on top of the soup in the slow cooker. ladle some of the liquid over the dough until it is submerged. Cover the crock pot and allow it to cook on high for another 30 minutes to and hour or until the dough is cooked in the middle.

If you like this recipe share it on Pinterest so that other people looking for AIP recipes can enjoy it too! 

3 Tips for Creating a Supportive Community (While On the Autoimmune Protocol)

3 Tips for Creating a Supportive Community While on the Autoimmune Protocol

There are few things in life that are not made better by the power of community. Good news is made better when celebrated by others and the burden of hard times is often lessened when shared with others. The power of community, when it comes to making difficult commitments, is evidenced by the popularity of addiction recovery programs, weight loss groups and even online support groups for everything from breastfeeding to the death of loved one. We, as people, are meant to be in community with others. So, it makes sense that recovering from a chronic illness and committing to the autoimmune protocol would be no different. That being said, its not always easy to find that community. Sometimes you have to create it.

When I first decided to try the autoimmune protocol I was alone. I had never known anyone who had done it, my family was still trying to come to grips with figuring out the standard paleo diet, and there wasn’t even much of an online community at the time. I lived in the south and spent a lot of my time immersed in a culture that prided themselves factory farming, casseroles, and who could make the best macaroni and cheese. Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive family who read all of the information I sent them, educated themselves on the protocol, cooked for me at family events and, in the end, even ended up following AIP themselves. Unfortunately, they live hours away from me, so my day-to-day community looked different.

I had a few local friends who were open minded enough to listen to what I was going through and learn why my diet and lifestyle changes were important, they supported me when times were difficult and made life easier for me by socializing with me in a way that didn’t always involve food or by helping me cook AIP friendly meals when food was involved. These friends were true blessings to me in the early part of my AIP Journey and continue to bless me today.

Then, there were others who either through a lack of education or a fear of the unfamiliar, said terribly hurtful things or acted in ways that were far from supportive. People robbed me of the joy of no longer being bed ridden by berating me when I appeared after months of sickness, people accused me of being vain and just trying to lose weight through dieting, I even attended meals thrown “in my honor” at which I was unable to eat a single bite of food even after a full year of being on the autoimmune protocol.

Those moments were hard to handle, but what it taught me was that the people who care enough to support me also care enough to learn how to support me. That isn’t to say that the other people don’t care at all, it is just to say that they may not be in a place of being able to support you right now and that is ok. Everyone goes through different seasons in their lives and sometimes those seasons aren’t compatible with each other. That doesn’t mean that you have to lose those relationships, but it does mean that you have to look for your support elsewhere.

So how do you create a supportive community? By educating them. Now I don’t mean that is a derogatory way. This isn’t about you knowing more than other people, it is about you being vulnerable and honest with the people around you. People can’t support you if they don’t know how. Here are some tips I have found most helpful throughout this process:

  1. Tell People What it’s Like to be Sick: Most people with autoimmune diseases have had symptoms in some form or another for most of their lives. You are used to it because it is your life, so you may not talk about your symptoms regularly, but other people don’t understand that. When I say I have ulcerative colitis people either don’t know what that is or they think I must have diarrhea all the time. When I started telling people that for me, a flare meant having severe abdominal pain, debilitating joint pain and a lot of blood loss I found that people were a lot more open to understanding my diet and lifestyle changes. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be shy, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by keeping secrets.
  2. Explain that AIP Is a Temporary, Personalized Elimination Diet: Unless you are at a restaurant talking to a waitress don’t tell people you have food allergies. With the way the media has been presenting food allergies lately, I have found that people just kind of roll their eyes at you if you tell them you are “allergic” to everything under the sun. Give them more credit than that and explain that you are temporarily avoiding certain foods so that you can reintroduce them gradually and find out what foods are specific triggers for you. That makes a lot of sense to most people and they will appreciate the explanation.
  3. Give Them the List: I’ll be honest, even to this day I sometimes feel shy about listing off everything I don’t eat because it overwhelms people, but if you are expecting someone to cook for you do yourself a favor and give them the list. These printable guides from Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt over at Autoimmune Paleo have been a fabulous tool for me. Every member of my family has a copy of these print-outs, I even take them with me to new restaurants and I send them to friends who ask what foods I need to avoid. Having a designed guide to send people also adds a little more legitimacy to a diet that most people have never heard of before so that is also an added bonus.

If you do these three things it will become very obvious who is in your supportive community. People will either embrace it and help you or they simply won’t. I have yet to find anyone in between. When you find your supportive community immerse yourself in it and express your appreciation, people like to know that they are being helpful. Finally, while I feel like it is most important to create an in-person community, online communities can be really effective in helping connect you with people in different stages of the process, answer some of your questions when you are just starting out, and offer an understanding that non-Autoimmune sufferers may not be able to give you. Here are some awesome AIP groups that I like and am a part of:

Autoimmune Paleo Recipe Group

AIP Support Group  

AIP for You and Me

The Paleo Approach Community (Unlike the groups above, this group is for people following the Autoimmune Protocol as well as the standard paleo diet)

 

AIP Salted Caramel Hot “Chocolate”

 

AIP Salted Caramel Hot "Chocolate" (AIP/Paleo)

This may come as a surprise to you all, given the nature of this post, but I really do not have much of a sweet tooth. I never have. In fact, my family used to joke that the way to my heart was through cheese not chocolate, because I would take a pizza over a dessert any day of the week. That being said, I think we all have that one special treat that we just can’t get enough of, for me that is salted caramel anything! I suppose its because the salt softens the blow of the sugar and just makes me want more. So, when Starbucks came out with their salted caramel hot chocolate… I was a very happy girl. That was my absolute favorite indulgence and comfort treat. It was my go-to when I was having a fun girl date with friends and on the occasional bad day. I remember sending my husband out to get me a salted caramel hot chocolate after spending hours visiting with hundreds of people the weekend my grandfather passed away. It was soothing and delicious and my one favorite sweet treat.

Fast forward to today, and I obviously haven’t had anything remotely resembling a salted caramel hot chocolate in years. I no longer crave them and I have many many more deliciously nourishing comfort food favorites. However, after seeing a delicious looking picture for a Starbucks knock-off recipe on Pinterest I decided to give it a go using carob, coconut milk, and natural sweeteners. Honestly, I was doubtful. I have tried making carob hot “chocolate” one or two times in the past and I didn’t love the result. It was always too thin and lacking in flavor, but always up for a cooking challenge I did some research, developed a plan and gave it a try…. the result was delicious! So delicious, that I feel I must warn you not to indulge in this treat too often, because it is just that a definite treat! It is thick and creamy with a perfect balance of salty and sweet and it was surprisingly simple to make… also a potential hazard! I took one sip and I’m not sure I could have told you the difference between this and the “real” deal. So, if you are looking for a fun treat to enjoy on a cold day, during a party, or on a special occasion I definitely recommend giving this yummy recipe a try… you won’t regret it!

AIP Salted Caramel Hot "Chocolate" (AIP/Paleo)

 

AIP Salted Caramel Hot “Chocolate”

(makes 2 Servings)

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Coconut Milk

¾ Cup of Coconut Cream

3 TBS Carob Powder

¼ tsp Sea Salt

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract (Optional)

¼ Cup of Maple Syrup

3 TBS of Caramel Sauce (See Recipe Below)

Garnish with Coconut Whipped Cream and Drizzle with Caramel Sauce

Directions:

Combine all of your ingredients into a medium saucepan and stir until hot and combined with no lumps. Serve warm and garnish with whipped coconut cream and drizzle with extra caramel sauce.

 

Caramel Sauce Recipe:

(Makes 1/2 Cup)

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup of Coconut Milk

¼ Cup of Honey

½ Tsp Vanilla Extract (optionl)

¼ Tsp Sea Salt

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk and honey. Set over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened to caramel sauce consistency (about 10 minutes). Off heat, stir in the vanilla and salt. Store in fridge.

 

Healing Ulcerative Colitis with the Autoimmune Protocol: My Story (An Update)

Healing Ulcerative Colitis with the Autoimmune Protocol Diet: My Story

Well, it has been about a year since I updated you all on my personal story and my journey on the autoimmune protocol. In my post last year I explained that I had been in a severe ulcerative colitis flare for about 6 months but after starting the autoimmune protocol at the end of November I had seen a vast reduction in my symptoms, was no longer having bleeding and I had been able to taper off of the steroids I had ended up taking. I was well on my way to healing but I still had a long road of recovery ahead of me.

Following that post, I spend much of the winter and spring recovering from the damage done by both the flare and the steroids. My energy level was very low and my weight had gone up during the flare and wasn’t at a healthy level for me. It took a lot of research but I eventually discovered that both of these issues seemed to be the result of adrenal fatigue… not surprising after the amount of stress I had been dealing with and the serious amount of steroids I had been on. After finding an adrenal health plan that worked for me I was back at a healthy, stable weight and energy level by the end of spring/beginning of the summer.

At the beginning of the summer I began reintroducing some foods. I followed the plan laid out by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne in The Paleo Approach and was able to successfully reintroduce seed based spices, alcohol (up to one drink per week), egg yolks, ghee, cocoa, and macadamia nuts. My only potentially failed reintroduction was coffee. I did a fully successful reintroduction of coffee, but being a bit of a bonehead I then went to Starbucks and got an iced coffee and was sick for a week. I feel like that probably had more to do with the fact that it was Starbucks coffee since I had gone through the full reintroduction process successfully on good quality organic coffee, but to be safe I decided not to add it back in at that point. I was hitting a good stride and then our life got very eventful…

In August my husband began his final semester of graduate school and decided to start looking for another job to start after graduation. Up until this point I had been working two primary party time jobs, blogging and being a birth doula and I knew that in order to preserve my health through the process of preparing to move something had to give. I left one of my part time jobs in August, which was a difficult choice to make, but in the end the right one. By the time I finished up at that job my husband was already in the process of interviewing for the job he would eventually accept. It was a long process of traveling for interviews, house hunting, breaking the news to people, packing…. And anyone who has been through this process before knows that it is not easy especially when you add a graduation and the holidays on top of it. In the end, we moved about 10 days before Christmas.

Helaing Ulcerative Colitis with the Autoimmune Protocol Diet: My StoryThroughout the whole process, I only experienced one minor period of flare that lasted about a week and half and was easily managed through self-care and extra nutrients; a true testament to the power of the autoimmune protocol. I did however, put my reintroduction process on hold because of the many compounding factors that would have made it difficult to get a definitive result from the reintroduction process.

Since my last major flare in 2013 I have been content managing my UC with a combination of diet and lifestyle as well as maintenance medication prescribed by my gastroenterologist. This medication is not a steroid or a biologic and is the only medication used to treat UC that has actually been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in UC patients, so I felt comfortable using it as part of my treatment. However, I have recently started to have a few side effects from the extended use of the medication so over the next month or so I plan to start working with my doctor to reduce my use of this medication and hopefully resolve my symptoms.

Outside of my UC symptoms, I have also seen a tremendous amount of improvements in other areas of my health as a result of the autoimmune protocol. My digestion is better than it has ever been. My weight is completely stable and I hardly ever even feel the need to weigh myself anymore, I haven’t had a cold or infection in a very long time and I haven’t had the need to be on antibiotics in over two years. I also no longer have acne and my hair and nails are healthier than they have been in quite some time.

The thing that has become especially clear to me over the past year is that this lifestyle is truly a journey. It is not a quick fix and it is not just a means to an end. It is an ongoing process that chooses long-term health over convenience and requires daily dedication and commitment, but in return allows us to live full lives outside of the doctor’s office or the hospital. My journey is far from over, but I hope that hearing about my ups and downs over the past year helps you know that we are all in this together and that healing is just as possible for you as it has been for me.

 

Superfood Energy Bites

Superfood Energy Bites (AIP,Paleo)

As some of you may know, about twice a month I have the opportunity to write a post over at the blog Homemade For Elle. This month, I shared a recipe perfect for those days when you are on the run and in need of an energy boost. I hope you enjoy! 

Simple, on–the-go snacks are something that is taken for granted by most Americans. There are countless mini packages of traditional junk foods like chips, cookies, and even healthier options like Lara bars, lining shelves at the grocery store. However, for people like me on a limited yet nourishing diet, on-the-go snacks can be a challenge. Most gluten and grain free snacks in the stores contain nuts, which can be problematic for many people and still others contain a fair amount of added sugar. This leaves making some at home.

Superfood Energy Bites (AIP, Paleo) If you look up homemade grain free energy bites or snack bars on Google or Pinterest you will inevitable get a very long list of date based ideas. All of them are yummy looking and simple to make. So what is the problem? Well, while dates are perfect for an energy boost they contain a lot of natural sugar which can give you a little bit too much of an energy spike and subsequent crash if not balanced out by some protein. If you’re on the go, the last thing you need is a blood sugar crash.

Grass-fed gelatin is the perfect source of nourishing added protein. Most protein powders are dairy or soy based, making them risky options for most, but grass-fed gelatin is responsibly sourced, animal based and incredibly nourishing. Gelatin is fantastic for improving digesting, healing the lining of the gut, healing joint and cartilage damage and reducing inflammation and irritation (source). It is also incredibly high in protein! 1 TBS of grass fed gelatin contains 11g of protein!

Two of these snack energy bites equals approximately 20g of carbs, 5g of protein and 8.5g of healthy saturated fats, meaning that they are a far more balanced option than anything you’ll find in the store. They also take less time to make than it would take you to go to the right aisle of the store, pick out your favorite snack bar and checkout. So, next time you are going for a hike, on a car trip, or just have a long day filled with running errands and chauffeuring kids, whip up a batch of these and take them with you. They will be just the boost you need!

Click HERE For the Recipe

Roasted Garlic Mashed Rutabagas

Roasted Garlic Mashed Rutabaga (AIP, Paleo)

For me, mashed potatoes are the epitome of comfort food. I have never had much of a sweet tooth, so outside of the occasional treat I always turn to savory foods when I’m looking for something comforting and soothing. When I was sick, when I had my wisdom teeth out, or even just when it had been a particularly cold or long day my go-to food was always mashed potatoes. There is just something about the thick creamy consistency and the way they fill you up and make you feel satisfied that is just delicious.

That being said, up until recently I had never found a perfectly adequate substitute. Obviously, potatoes are a no-go on the autoimmune protocol since they are nightshades and contain glycoalkaloids which are damaging to the lining of the gut. Sweet potatoes are delicious mashed, but they are, by nature, sweet. Mashed cauliflower is also delicious in its own right but usually has a thinner consistency than the starchy potato. Enter the rutabaga. I have been cooking with rutabagas a lot recently but I have always just roasted them in the oven or used them in stews, when all of the sudden a light blub went off one day and I realized that their neutral taste and starchy consistency would make them a perfect mashed potato substitute!

I was not disappointed. This recipe is as simple as it is delicious and will definitely give you that good old southern cooking feel. Pair it with turkey and you will have yourself a perfect feast!

 

What Is your favorite comfort food?

Roasted Garlic Mashed Rutabaga (AIP, paleo)

 

Roasted Garlic Mashed Rutabagas

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

2 Large Rutabagas (peeled and chopped into large chunks)

2 TBS of Animal Fat (I used bacon fat)

4 cloves of roasted garlic

1 tsp sea salt

2 green onions (diced)

Bone Broth (Optional)

 

Directions:

In a large pot, cover your rutabaga chunks with water and bring to a boil. Boil until the rutabaga is tender (about 10 minutes). Drain the pot and add in your animal fat, garlic and sea salt. Using either a masher or your food processor mash/blend your rutabaga to your desired consistency. If you want the consistency to be smoother or creamier, I recommend adding in some bone broth until it is as smooth as you want it. Finally, garnish with your green onions and serve.

 

 

 

6 Ways to Get Started Healing Your Gut

6 Ways to get Started Healing Your Gut

I recently got a message from a friend asking for advice to give a family member struggling with Crohn’s Disease. In it she asked if I could recommend some of the tops things I did to help heal my gut.

This is one of the most common positions I find myself in as an AIP blogger. People realize that there are things they can do to help heal themselves naturally, but they are too overwhelmed to dive into following the full autoimmune protocol all at one time. I totally get that. My journey to going 100% AIP was a process that took years. I went gluten free first, then paleo with dairy, then paleo without dairy and then AIP. Each step brought about a new level of healing, with the full benefits coming after I went strictly AIP for 6-8 months.

Of course, when I am asked this question I always want to make sure that people understand that in order to achieve full healing through diet and lifestyle they need to commit to following the autoimmune protocol 100% … eventually. However, we have all heard the old adage the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step and managing an autoimmune disease is nothing if not a long journey, so here are my top 6 tips (and some humor) to help you begin your healing journey:

Eliminate gluten and grains:

I am not going to go into all of the science behind this right now because this is just meant to be a quick start, quick tip, guide. If you want to know more of the scientific explanation behind this click HERE. If you want the way oversimplified version, suffice it to say that grains are not meant to be fully digested. This is the way the plant ensures its survival. As a result, the compounds in the grain that keep it from being digested tear up the lining of our gut and can lead to leaky gut, inflammation, and overstimulation of the immune system.

Eliminate Caffeine:

For the Full Science click HERE. Caffeine stimulates cortisol production and increased cortisol levels over an extended period of time can lead to an over-stimulated immune system and adrenal fatigue. Coffee especially (caffeinated or not) also increases bile production which in an unhealthy individual can lead to damage of the gut membrane. (If you’re looking for an AIP friendly coffee alternative Here is my favorite)

Eliminate alcohol (temporarily):

Alcohol is eliminated for a very different reason from many of the other off limits foods in the autoimmune protocol. As long as the alcohol you’re drinking comes from an AIP friendly source like apples, grapes or agave the issues isn’t usually a matter of intolerance (unless the sugar or sulfite content comes into play) the issue is that alcohol, by nature, loosens the junctures between the cells in the gut lining exacerbating leaky gut issues, immune over stimulation, and making it much harder for the gut to heal (For the Science Click HERE)

Add in lots of probiotics (supplement and ferments):

probiotics probiotics probiotics. Your immune system and your gut cannot function properly if your microflora (gut bacteria) are out of whack. If you don’t have enough of the right kinds of bacteria. Without good microflora the bad bacteria get to take over and have a field day harming the gut membrane (again with the leaky gut) and causing infection. To get enough probiotics I recommend consuming fermented food or drink every day, personally I love making my own kombucha and also taking a therapeutic grade supplement I only recommend a few brands (Bio-Kult, Kirkman Pro Bio Gold, HMF Intensive, or VSL #3)

Add in lots of gelatin (powder and bone broth):

Gelatin plays a key role in healing the gut lining. For the full explanation and how to make bone broth click HERE, but think of it as the caulk that is going to help seal up all those holes in your gut lining. (NO SOUP FOR YOU!)

Prioritize sleep:

Sleep is when your body heals and restores itself. It is also when your body has a chance to try and work on balancing your hormones and if you have an autoimmune disease, you’ve been on and off steroids or you’ve been under chronic stress there is a very high chance that your hormones are out of whack. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, ideally 9, take a 30 minute nap during the day if you can, and do whatever it takes to enhance the quality of your sleep as well.