Easter Basket Cookies (AIP/Paleo)

Easter without chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps and colorful eggs can seem a little bleek, especially if you have little ones. Obviously Easter isn’t really about any of those things, but it can be tough to be surrounded by traditions that you can’t partake in. Lots of paleo/AIP and allergy aware parents fill up easter baskets with non food items like small toys, puzzles, card games, a gift card, and maybe their favorite store-bought paleo treat or convenience foods. These are great ideas and there are a million more ideas out there on the internet I’m sure. However, it can still be fun to have a little treat or go through the process of making a fun treat with your little ones around the holiday which is why I came up with this recipe. I’ve seen lots of recipes on Pinterest for bird’s nest cookies and I thought, why not make this into a fun Easter recipe?! I made them for the little ones in my life and when they came home from school and saw them they were super excited! Honestly, these are a bit time consuming but they are well worth it for a once a year treat tradition! I hope that you and your family enjoy them during this Easter season!

Easter Basket Cookies (AIP/Paleo)

Easter Basket Cookies (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

Crust:

1/2 Cup of Coconut Flour

2 TBS. Arrowroot Flour

2/3 Cup of Melted Coconut Oil

2 TBS Honey

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)

4 TBS Water

Filling:

½ cup of coconut oil, melted

2 TBS coconut butter, melted

2 TBS coconut cream

2 TBS Honey

1/2 cup of shredded coconut

homemade green food coloring

 

Mini Easter Eggs: 

1/4 cup of coconut butter

1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp beet root powder

 

Directions: 

To make the crust, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Then, in a medium bowl, combine your coconut flour and arrowroot flour. Add in your honey, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract (optional) and combine. Next, add in your water and stir until the batter begins to thicken. Take a mini muffin tin and grease with coconut oil. Take small chunks of the dough and form them into balls, place the balls into the muffin cups and press to form a cup with an indentation in the middle. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lighting browned. Cool them completely before removing from the tin (I put the whole tray in the refrigerator for about an hour). To remove the crusts from the tin, turn the muffin tray upside down and tap on the bottom of the cups with a spoon or a knife and they will fall out. Once the shortcakes are ready, create your cream by combining all of your ingredients and mixing with a standing or electric mixer. Then mix your coconut with your homemade green food coloring until it reaches your desired color. Place a small dollop of cream in each cup and cover with coconut. To make your eggs combine your coconut butter, coconut oil and honey. divide the mixture into two parts and add the beetroot powder to one part. Allow it to cool until it has thickened and is stiff and somewhat close to the consistency of play dough. Form the cream into small ovals and decorate the top of the baskets. Enjoy!

 

Batch Cooking Lunches on AIP

Batch Cooking AIP Lunches

If you have followed me for long you know that I am a big advocate of batch cooking, largely because I would actually probably die without batch cooking! What is batch cooking? Quite simply, it is the practice of cooking food in large batches at one time and eating it over time to save you time in the kitchen. I batch cook all of our breakfasts and lunches every weekend so that all I have to make over the week is dinner. This is a really important part of my success on AIP because it is important for me to have prepared food nearby when I get hungry and it also allows me to still live my life, work full time and take care of a family while still eating food made from scratch.

I have found, however, that lunch is one of the hardest things for me to get ideas for. Lots of paleo lunch ideas out there are salads or wraps or other things that you would really need to make the day of and that is just not possible for me. I go to work early and I need sleep so I do not have time to make lunch in the morning. This seems to rule out a lot of traditional “lunch” things, but over the years I have learned a few techniques that help me easily batch cook my lunches and not get in a rut of eating the same thing over and over.

  1. Look for Slow Cooker Meals- the slow cooker is my favorite batch cooking tool. I can throw all of the ingredients in on my batch cooking day and let it cook and then all I have to do is put it in a storage container. Slow cooker meals are also great because a lot of them are one pot meals so its easy to take on the go without adding a lot.
  2. Roast Veggies and Add a Meat- The possibilities for this are nearly endless. Roasting vegetables is also a great batch cooking technique because you can just put them on trays in big amounts and put them in the oven while you get other things done. No standing over the stove. Roasted veggies and a meat are great, easy and offer variety. Last week I had a bunch of roasted root vegetables and some sausage from a local health food store that is compliant with my diet. This week I am having roasted broccoli and shrimp! Both were super easy to make.
  3. Check Out the Stir Fries- Obviously I have a theme of just wanting a one stop lunch without a lot of separate pieces. I like to roll out of bed, throw lunch in a container and go. (This gives me more time to focus on breakfast) Stir fries are another great one pot option that has endless possibilities.

There are a to of non salad, non sandwich options for lunch you just have to know where to look. Here are a few of my favorite recipes for batch cooking lunches on AIP:

What To Do When You Have To Take Antibiotics

What to do When You Have to Take Antibiotics...

A few months ago, in THIS post, I opened up about my diagnosis of giardia. I was diagnosed with this parasitic infection (along with a tapeworm…ewwww) in May of 2015. My first reaction was complete disgust, followed by complete relief. I had been to so many doctors for so many years who just couldn’t understand my symptoms. My GI symptoms never fully lined up with my ulcerative colitis diagnosis and it had been such a mysterious struggle to keep my ulcerative colitis in check. Finally, I had something that made sense, that was actually relatively common, and that could be cured! All I had to do was one short round of antibiotics and I would be better, right?

Well… that is not exactly how it has played out.

Here is brief timeline Samantha V. Giardia:

June: 1 week course of tinidazole (limited spectrum antibiotic/antiparasitic) and albenza (anti parasitic/tapeworm medicine)

RESULT: no change in giardia infection, tapeworm gone

July: 1 week course of Flagyl (antbiotic/antiparasitic/straight-up poison) I was not at all prepared for this medication so I did nothing to help support my gut outside of just following my normal diet. I was super sick and began having an ulcerative colitis flare within a week of taking the medications.

RESULT: giardia infection dropped 4 points from a 6++ to a 2+ but was still present

August-November: I followed a natural protocol involving taking diatomaceous earth, Raintree A-P, and bidens pilosa daily for 2 months.

RESULT: No Change in Infection

November: another 1 week course of flagyl. This time I actually prepared, which is what I will talk about in this post, and avoided a flare but the medicine stage was still terrible.

RESULT: Infection dropped from a 2 to a 1 (Right about now I was losing my mind)

February 2016: 1 final week of flagyl along with a simultaneous month long natural protocol of the Amazon A-P, GSE, Goldenseal, and Berberine.

RESULT: Still Pending

So as you can clearly see, there has been nothing simple or easy about this process. You may be surprised to see that I have been on as many rounds of antibiotics as I have been and you should be surprised. Antibiotics are a huge trigger for my ulcerative colitis and avoiding them, when at all possible, was one of the biggest lifestyle changes contributing to my initial healing. However, I strongly believe that eradicating this parasite is a big piece of my healing puzzle so I decided that for me personally, the risk was worth it in the long run. That being said, this experience with the antibiotics has been a huge lesson for me because I learned that there really is a better way to go about taking them than to just pop pills first and ask questions later.

Hurting beneficial gut flora is inevitable when taking antibiotics but there is a lot you can do to help support your gut and body during the process that will improve your healing process post-antibiotics and minimize the likelihood of an autoimmune flare. Here is the routine I created that has helped me:

  1. Fermented Foods: Even though you are intentionally killing a lot of the bacteria in your body by taking an antibiotic, you should still be consuming as many probiotics as you can during the process because their presence (however brief) helps to protect you from bad bacteria and yeast taking over in the mean time.
  2. Probiotic Supplements: There is some debate over probiotics and autoimmune disease in the natural health community but I know for me and my fellow IBD sufferers they are a must, and they are definitely a must during a round of antibiotics. Probiotics can act as immune modulators while they are in your system so even though they are not colonizing in your gut they are helping minimize inflammation and reduce negative immune responses in the gut. During antibiotic treatment variety of bacterial strains is key so I take both a traditional probiotic and a soil based probiotic.
  3. Prebiotics: Are you sensing a trend? The good bacteria in your body need all the help they can get right now and that means food! This continues to be true in the weeks following antibiotic treatment while you work to re-colonize the gut. To achieve this I eat lots of veggies both cooked and raw and add a small amount of inulin fiber to my tea in the morning.
  4. Gelatin: I talk a lot about the importance of gelatin on this blog so I won’t go into tons of detail but for a very very very oversimplified mental picture think of gelatin as a glue that helps protect the lining of the gut from getting leaky! Gelatin is a big part of a gut healing diet.
  5. Water: Drinking plenty of water helps to gently detoxify the body and support your overall health
  6. Gentle Exercise: walks outside, yoga, dancing any form of enjoyable moderate exercise is important for your mood, overall health, stimulating the lymphatic system which helps to detoxify the body and lowering inflammation.
  7. Epsom Salt Baths: I talk nightly Epsom salt baths as a way to gently detox from the medicine and reduce inflammation. For some added detox add in baking soda to the baths as well. The bath needs to last 20-40 minutes for adequate detoxing.
  8. Sleep: getting adequate sleep is more important now than ever to help avoid a flare.
  9. Diet: Obviously I recommend following the autoimmune protocol diet to heal the gut, but while on antibiotics I also recommend steering away from ALL added sugar including honey, maple syrup, and the sugar in bacon along with avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Avoiding sugar decreases the likelihood of a future yeast or bad bacteria problem, avoiding caffeine helps to limit the stress on your adrenals and thyroid and avoiding alcohol helps preserve the integrity of the gut.

What To Do When You Have To Take AntibioticsHere is My General Daily Routine While taking and Recovering from an Antibiotic:

Breakfast: Breakfast Hash with Raw Sauerkraut plus Ginger tea with Grass fed gelatin and inulin fiber. Plus soil based probiotics, water and a little bit of bone broth.

Lunch: Salad with salmon and avocado plus a half a cup of water kefir and some bone broth

Exercise for 30 minutes, drink water

Dinner: any manner of veggies and meat with bone broth

Bedtime: Epsom salt bath, traditional probiotic, another cup of ginger tea with gelatin

(this schedule does not include the supplements that are part of me regular healing routine)

Obviously there is no way to guarantee how your body will react to a certain situation or medication. I was lucky enough to have been able to avoid antibiotics completely for two years while I began my initial AIP journey, but I have seen a huge difference in proactively working to protect my gut while on antibiotics rather than waiting to rebuild until after I was finished. I hope that this helps you as well.

Pineapple Avocado Plantain Burger (AIP/Paleo)

Pineapple, Avocado, Plantain burger (AIP/Paleo)

Plantains are probably my favorite food on the autoimmune protocol. I had never really had a plantain before going on AIP but now I eat them all the time. I have always had more of an affinity for salty crunchy snacks so plantain chips are my go-to snack. They fill me up and are oh-so-yummy. I love how versatile plantains are too! green plantains can be made into a yummy savory carboy dough and sweet plantains can be made into a dessert! I also love that I can eat them without feeling bad because green plantains are a fantastic source of food for all of the good gut bacteria I am working so hard to cultivate!

All of that being said, I just had to find a way to integrate my favorite AIP food into my favorite dinner night… burger night! We have burger night most every Thursday and it one of my favorite nights because it i simple and always satisfying (plus it is one of the few meals, my hubby enjoys helping me make, bonus) I have tried plantain fries, but now I wanted to make a plantain bun! I am not big into making complicated baked goods on a regular basis so I just decided to modify my tostones making process instead. It worked out great and was simple enough to do on a Thursday night! I hope you enjoy!

Pineapple Avocado Plantain Burger (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

1 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef

2 pieces of bacon

1/2 yellow onion

1 TBS Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper (optional, omit for AIP)

4 green (unripe) plantains

2 TBS Coconut Oil

sea salt to taste

1 avocado

sliced pineapple

Sautéed Onions (Optional)

Directions:

In a food processor combine your bacon and your onion and run until finely chopped. Add this mixture to a mixing bowl and combine with ground beef, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and form burgers (I recommend forming them into more of an oblong shape rather than a circle so that they fit on the plantains better). Grill or pan fry your burgers until they reach your desired temperature. To create the plantain buns pell your plantains and cut them in half, first across the width and then length wise. Heat your coconut oil over medium/high heat. Place the plantain slices in the oil and cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and use a cup or plate to gently flatten each slice. Then use the same method to fuse (or squish) two slice together to make a wider “bun” shape. Place them back into the oil and cook for another 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and set them aside. To construct your burger, place the burger on the plantain bun and top with pineapple slices, avocado and grilled onions and enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili (AIP/Paleo)

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili (AIP/Paleo)

AIP chili may seem like somewhat of and impossibility, without tomatoes, beans and peppers there really isn’t chili is there? Which is hard this time of year, because how many of us used to look forward to a nice bowl of chili and a piece of cornbread on a nasty February night? Well, it is true that AIP chili, in the traditional sense, is kind of impossible, but if you reimagining what chili can be you can end up with a delicious result. To me, chili is really just a hearty meal that is not watery like a soup, is more chunky like a stew but still not quite as liquidy, and possesses at least a little bit of spice. This is what led me to create my original white chili recipe and now I am reimagining chili again in the form of this hearty turkey chili. This is a very filling meal that has a lot of satisfying flavors in it. The red onion adds a lot of flavor as does the oregano, the turkey, sweet potatoes and zucchini give you a variety of textures and the ginger packs the punch of spice. If you added in some root vegetable biscuits or plantain crackers you would have a super hearty meal that rivals the chili and cornbread of your past, I promise you. For me, this recipe is easy because it uses ingredients that are easy to find and work with and it isn’t really trying to mimic traditional chili (which only leads to disappointment). It is a unique recipe all on its own that serves a similar purpose as the traditional dish.

Let me know in the comments if you were a fan of chili in the past. Did you have a secret family recipe?

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili (AIP/Paleo)

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients:

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 Red Onion, chopped

2 medium Zucchini, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp black pepper (optional)

1 tsp ground ginger (or more, to taste)

3 cups of bone broth

3 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed

Directions:

In a large pot or dutch oven brown your ground turkey over medium heat, as it is browning add in your red onion, zucchini, garlic and seasonings until the turkey is mostly cooked and the onion is beginning to get soft. Add in your bone broth and add in your sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender. Serve and Enjoy.

Fire Retardant Chemicals- The Real Monster Under The Bed

The Dangers of Fire Retardant Chemicals

A few months ago I wrote a post about my experience shopping for a new mattress. In it, I talked about wanting a non-toxic mattress; one that was free of chemicals and off-gassing. Today I want to talk more specifically about what those chemicals are and why we should want to avoid them where we can.

Back in the day (i.e. the early part of the 20th century) mattresses and cushions were made with cotton for comfort and steel springs for support. However, over the last 30 years cotton has been almost completely replaced by synthetic foams. In 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission required all mattresses to meet strict flame resistant standards (strict doesn’t really even begin to cover it, think taking a blow torch to your mattress for over a minute kind of strict). Unfortunately, for us (the consumer) the government did not set any parameters for companies around how to meet these standards so it quickly became common practice to drench both the outside and the inside of all mattresses with a cocktail of chemicals. There are also no regulations requiring mattress manufacturers to list what chemicals they use. Here are a few we know about though:

  • PCDS’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)- these were used in mattresses before 2004, when they were found to be toxic to the liver, thyroid and nervous system. As a result they have now been mostly phased out of use.
  • Boric Acid: Studies have found that boric acid has the potential to be a carcinogen.
  • Melamine resin: Contains formaldehyde

The reason these chemicals are of primary concern when it comes to health is that they do not break down into safer chemicals over time and they are bio- accumulative meaning that they build up in the human body and the bodies of animals over time leading to toxicity and chronic health problems. Their persistent nature also makes them a concern for the environment because they don’t break down and decompose and they can be easily transported far from their original source and be spread across the world.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do to avoid flame retardant chemical completely since they can be found in everything from car upholstery to couches to baby crib mattresses and nursing pillows. However, we can work to limit our exposure during times when we are most vulnerable to their effects. Many groups recommend not eating on your couch to help you avoid ingesting these chemicals ( I am totally guilty of this), wash your hands before eating, use a HEPPA air filter, and regularly clean your car upholstery. However, one of the most important areas to avoid exposure is in your bed. We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping! This time is when our body needs to be under the least amount of stress possible so that it can work to restore our health. Having to combat the onslaught of toxins in your mattress is counterproductive to restorative sleep. The problem is that, as we stated above, ALL mattresses have to meet these flame resistant standards one way or another. So, even if you buy an organic mattress made with wool and the website says that it is flame resistant all that means is that they probably used LESS chemicals to meet the standards but wool alone is not resistant enough to meet the federal regulations. So you may have gotten a perfectly organic cotton and latex mattress, but it still have flame retardant chemicals on it. This was my dilemma until I found Intellibed.

If you are interested in my full review of intellibed you can read my post HERE, but suffice it to say I am totally in love with my bed. Rather than using chemicals as a fire blocker, Intellibed uses a completely safe silca thread throughout its mattresses that acts as a natural, chemical free alternative to meeting the federal regulations. On top of that it is also an incredibly comfortable bed!

In today’s climate we cannot run in fear of every environmental toxin or else we would end up as hermits living in the woods, but we should strive to limit our exposure and create the healthiest environments possible for ourselves within our homes.

The Dangers of Fire Resistant Chemicals

Sausage, “Potato”, and Spinach Soup- AIP, Paleo

Sausage, "Potato" & Spinach Soup (AIP/Paleo)

Soup is a bit of an undervalued culinary category in my house. My hubby is not a big fan of it and I pretty much reserve it entirely for the months of January and February, although I have no idea why. Well last week, like many of you, I was faced with preparing for the possibility of a lot of snow. We don’t live in an area that is entirely equipped for a lot of snow so I wanted to be prepared in the event of a power outage. We have just about every non electric cooking option possible, as our house including two camp stoves, a gas grill and a charcoal grill so I wasn’t terribly worried but I did want to have some already cooked food on hand so that I wasn’t trying to cook everything from scratch on a camp stove in the snow.

I started looking around for some cozy soup recipes on Pinterest and I found a few that sparked my imagination. The sausage sounded like comfort food, the sweet potatoes are filling and the spinach adds some variety. The creamy base is also really filling as well. This soup is delicious, very filling and the flavors are delicious. This is not one of those soups that will leave you hungry an hour later.

In the end, our power stayed on but we still enjoyed gobbling this soup up and I enjoyed the break from cooking!

Sausage, "Potato" &Spinach Soup (AIP/Paleo)

Sausage, “Potato” and Spinach Soup (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients:

1 tbs olive oil

1 lb ground pork

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper (optional)

1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp dried thyme

3 cloves minced garlic

1 onion diced

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

5 cups of chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 lb white sweet potatoes (or Japanese Sweet Potatoes)

3 cups baby spinach

¼ cup of coconut cream

Directions:

Heat olive oil in dutch oven add in ground pork, salt pepper, sage, thyme and garlic and cook until browned and crumbly. Stir in the onion, oregano, and basil. Cook until onions are soft and add any additional salt to taste. Stir in chicken broth and a bay leaf, Bring to a boil. Add in diced white sweet potatoes cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt stir in coconut cream and heat through. Enjoy.