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.

 

My (Mostly) Natural Skin Care Routine

My (Mostly) Natural Skin Care Routine

Its funny how our mentality surrounding change can be so different depending on the area of our life that is changing. When I changed my diet to the autoimmune protocol it was like flipping a switch. I decided one night to give it a try and over two years later I have not eaten a single tomato, egg white, or potato. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it definitely worked best for me to just dive right in and not look back. My transition to natural beauty products on the other hand? That has been much more gradual.

I learned the importance of limiting my exposure to environmental toxins (chemicals) a long time ago, but for whatever reason it has been much harder for me to make those changes than it was to change my diet. Maybe its because there are so many options out there that I have just been burned with a lot of products that just didn’t work. Maybe it is just because deep down (or not so deep down) I struggle with vanity and don’t really want to sacrifice my personal appearance in the name of going natural! Either way, its taken a while. I have written about making my own body wash, which I still do, and I have written about my no ‘poo journey and my favorite shampoo bar. Now I am finally ready to discuss my skin care routine. I have been fairly blessed through my life with good skin. I didn’t struggle with too much acne as a teen and I do not have many scars or pock marks, I do have darker circles under my eyes, the occasional blemish and I am approaching a certain age where many ladies begin to think about preventing early signs of aging in their skin.

With that in mind, I thought I would share my current skin care routine with you all. I will state right off of the bat that I do not use natural makeup, my makeup is conventional drug store makeup. I only wear some concealer under my eyes, a light blush and eyeliner and I have chosen not to change that for the time being.. The rest of my routine is natural. So here it goes:

  • Oil Cleansing: Oil cleansing is basically just what it sounds like… washing your face with oil instead of soap. The way I do this is, I keep a jar of coconut oil in my shower, I take out a small amount during my nightly shower rub it on my face let it sit for a minute and then wipe it off with a wash cloth. This is a great way to remove makeup before bed, it is also wonderful for people with dry skin or in the winter when skin gets easily dried out or chapped. It is also a surprisingly effective facial cleanser because oil dissolves oil, meaning that the oil you use to wash with will dissolve the natural oil in your skin that has hardened around the dirt and impurities in your skin and the steam from the water will open your pores allowing it to be scrubbed away. Washing your face with oil also keeps your pores from over producing oil, like soap can, leading to a more even complexion.
  • Natural Sun Block: All dermatologists agree that the best thing you can do to prevent signs of aging in your skin, especially premature signs of aging, is to use sun protection. The only problem is that many sunscreens contain harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. I switched to natural sun block for the summer months a few years ago, but until recently, I hadn’t found a sun block that was suitable for every day use. Many natural sunblocks are very thick and can leave you looking pale because of the zinc oxide they contain. Then recently I found out the my favorite brand of regular sunblock made a facial sunblock! It is called Sunny Face by Goddess Garden. Not only is it a natural sun block rather than a chemical sunscreen, it contains some great natural anti-aging ingredients like green tea extract and helicrysum essential oil. The texture may stll take some people a little while to get used to and it does leave a bit of a residue feeling on the skin for a little while after application, but it rubs in completely, doesn’t leave my skin looking pale and works great under makeup.
  • Eye Cream: Finally, I also use this Bert’s Bees Radiance Eye Cream at night before bed. It has  natural ingredients and is meant to reduce the appearance of blemishes around the eyes. I do not have any wrinkles around my eyes yet, but I do have dark circles under my eyes that are unrelated to sleep or diet or health, they are just there. I do feel like this cream has helped lighten them slightly.
  • Diet: I also have to put in a little plug about how diet effects skin. The best overall thing I ever did for my skin was give up dairy. Eating dairy has a well researched, negative impact on hormones. I had a very stubborn patch of acne on my chin for years that never went away until about a month after giving up dairy. I also used to get cyctic acne around my period that I no longer get. Balancing your hormones will go a long way in helping your skin!

My (Mostly) Natural Skin Care Routine

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt (AIP/Paleo)

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt (AIP/Paleo)

As much as I loved dairy in my pre-AIP days yogurt was never super high on my list of dairy favorites. I would definitely pick cheese, ice cream, and butter over yogurt. However, yogurt can come in very handy for making sauces and adding that little extract tartness to certain dishes, it was also a good healthy “dessert” when mixed with some yummy berries or some cocoa powder (if reintroduced). However, without a yogurt maker I have never been able to experiment with making any non-dairy yogurt alternatives… until now! I received an instant pot over Christmas and I have not stopped using it since. I am fully in love with this kitchen tool! It makes bone broth in a matter of hours, steams salmon perfectly from frozen, makes pulled pork in an hour I mean it is amazing! So obviously I was excited to try out its yogurt feature also! It is a standard yogurt maker, in that it takes a while its not the instant part of the instant pot, but it works like a charm. My first take I was following some other recipes out there and the result was a frustrating, clumpy mess. So, I decided to use my food processor to achieve the smooth but thick quality I was looking for… worked like a charm! I also increased the cooking time over many standard recipes to give it a more tart flavor similar to Greek yogurt. The result was delicious. I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, since yogurt really hasn’t been high on my list of foods I miss, but having not experienced yogurt in two years I guess my taste buds were pretty happy!

Do you miss traditional yogurt? What was your favorite use for it? Tell me in the comments.

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt (AIP/Paleo)

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients:

2 Cans of full fat Coconut Milk

4 Capsules of High Quality Probiotic

2 TBS of Grass-Fed Gelatin

1 TBS Raw Honey

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, omit for AIP)

Directions:

Empty both cans of full fat coconut milk into the metal bowl of the instant pot. Plug in your instant pot, close and lock the lip and press the yogurt button, then press the adjust button until the display says boil. When the instant pot beeps, signaling that it is done with this step, turn it off, remove the lid and take out the metal reservoir. Using a Candy thermometer or a meat thermometer wait until the coconut milk has cooled to below 115 degrees, then empty the contents of your probiotic capsules into the milk and whisk to combine. Return the metal bowl back into the instant pot, close the lid and seal it and press the yogurt button again. Use the (+) button to adjust the time to 14 hours. (This is probably best done overnight) When the machine beeps, taste the yogurt to make sure it is tart. Then, empty it from the metal reservoir into a blender or food processor. With the food processor running slowly sprinkle in your gelatin. (I have found that this method leads to less clumping and a smoother yogurt). You can also add in your honey or vanilla extract at this time. Make sure that everything is well combined and smooth, then pour it into a glass container and place it into the fridge. Let it set for a few hours (2-4) to thicken. The water from the coconut milk may settle to the bottom, if you like thicker yogurt just leave it at the bottom. Save 4 TBS of the final product as your starter for your next batch (instead of using 4 more capsules of probiotic)! Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Tots (AIP/Paleo)

Sweet Potato Tots (AIP/Paleo)

I have a hard time defining what a “kid-friendly” food really is these days, especially in the realm of paleo eating. In my early days of teaching daycare I would have immediately said that all babies automatically needed to go through a process of eating canned purees, that children naturally preferred basic foods with a salty or sweet taste and that it was just typical for little kids to be “picky”. However, as I have ventured further and further into the realm of ancestral eating and real food I have been amazed at how untrue so many of my old assumptions were. I have witnessed the process of baby led solids and been amazed at how instinctively young children can teach themselves how to chew, swallow and pace their food intake without someone regulating it for them on a neon colored plastic spoon. I have seen babies refuse to eat sugary pureed fruit but gobble up cooked egg yolks and bone broth and I have had toddlers beg me for “bucha (kombucha) and plantain chips. The more I see the difference inherent in raising up a child on real food the more I am amazed at how our culture has really done our children a huge disservice by literally training them to believe that food is meant to be simple, carb heavy, processed, and in most cases sweet. Think about it, if a child goes directly from milk or formula to store bought pureed fruit (which is way sweeter than normal fruit, taste it for yourself) to cereal to chicken nuggets to macaroni and cheese to graham crackers, that is literally all they will have ever known food to be, for years. They will have never tasted something acidic and sour like a fermented food, they will never have experienced the different textures of meat, they will not enjoy vegetables unless they have been covered in something that amplifies the flavor (like ranch dressing) because their pallets have been trained to interpret a very narrow set of flavors as being food. This leads to pickiness and for some people, a lifetime of bad eating habits.
But what is a parent to do when they are walking down the grocery store aisles and it is the cereal that is covered in pictures of TV characters and the macaroni and cheese that has their favorite Frozen character on the front of the box? There are no commercials for broccoli on Nickelodeon. Real food just isn’t fun. So, I guess that is the basic answer to today’s question. Food and parenting ideologies aside, we are going to have to contend with a world that says that “kid food” needs to be cute and fun. So, to help you in that quest I came up with a new little version of an old kid classic, the tater tot. These are very simple to make and were a big hit with the kids in my life. They make a great after school snack or a side dish on your next burger night. If you really want to begin to nurture an appreciation for real food in your children at a young age this is also a great recipe to have them help you make. It is amazing how kids become so much more willing to eat new foods if they play a role in making them!

Sweet Potato Tots (AIP/Paleo)

Sweet Potato Tots (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes
¼ onion
2 TBS coconut flour
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel your sweet potatoes and cover them with water in a medium pot. Bring them to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes or until they are beginning to get tender, but are not yet too soft. Grate your potatoes, either by hand or, preferably with a food processor grater attachment. Grate your onion also and combine them in a large bowl with the rest of your ingredients. Mix them well. To form them into tots use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out the potato mixture and then form them into small balls or cylinders with your hands. Set them on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until they become more firm on top and slightly golden brown. Allow them to cool for a minute or two and then serve.

A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

The Simple Guide to AIP

Happy 2016 Everyone! I hope that this first post of the new year finds you all refreshed and well. We hear a lot about resolutions during this time of year, and I am sure many of you are already sick of it. Maybe you enjoy making an official New Year’s Resolution, or maybe you don’t believe in them. Either way, it is almost impossible not to look ahead at the possibilities of a new year and not be tempted to set some sort of goal, and for many of us that goal is health related. If you are a long time reader of this blog you know that I do not focus on common health topics like losing weight or cutting calories, the health goals around here are to eat anti-inflammatory foods, restore gut health, and recover from chronic illness. A lot of people are discovering the importance of these goals and it is changing their lives, but with so much new information out there, figuring out how to start out on a healing diet can be… overwhelming to say the least. Even after 2+ years on the autoimmune protocol I am still learning new things and setting new goals every day! That is why I am super excited to share a brand new resource with you all today that will help minimize the confusion and maximize your healing potential!

My friend Eileen over at the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) blog Phoenix Helix is one of the best AIP bloggers around and she specializes in discussing all of the ins and outs of living a healing lifestyle. Between her awesome blog articles, her work with Paleo Magazine, and her super informative podcast … lets just say she knows her stuff! One of my favorite things about Eileen though, is her ability to take super in-depth topics and explain them in a way that is concise and applicable.

Eileen was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in her 40’s and was able to reduce her symptoms by 95% by following the autoimmune protocol. Can you imagine what it would feel like to see change like that by this time next year?

So now the exciting news: Eileen has written a book, but before you stop paying attention and think that this is just a pitch, it is not a cookbook or a science book… it is a simple practical guide to the autoimmune protocol. If you are the type of person who, “just wants to know what time it is, not how the clock works”, this is the resource you need! Here are the top 5 things I love about Eileen’s book “A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol”:

  1. The Table of Contents: That’s right, we’re starting from the beginning. The way this book is organized speaks to how applicable of a resource it is. The sections allow you to easily skip to the information you need when you need it, making it a great reference book not just a book to read once from cover to cover. The sections even go beyond describing what to eat and not eat, there are chapters covering how to eat at restaurants, how to travel, and how to deal with the holidays!
  2. “This is Too Hard- I Can’t Do It” – This is probably my favorite chapter in the book, because it is just heartfelt and real. Every person who has ever committed to the autoimmune protocol has had this moment. The moment where they know that this is something they need to try, but their brain freaks out and says its just too hard. Eileen talks about this and also talks about some practical ways to work through these feelings.
  3. Its Concise: This book is comprehensive but concise, which is not an easy balance to strike! It covers every aspect of healing from eliminating foods and why, to finding support, to dealing with flares, to circadian rhythms, and how to appropriately detox… that is a ton of material! But each sections lays out the applicable nuts and bolts in a perfectly understandable, straightforward way and then moves on! No fancy science words, no unnecessary fluff just the facts and what to do about them.
  4. Its a Resource You’ll Go Back To: How many times have you bought a book about a diet, or a workout routine, or a health fad only to read it once get started and then never look at it again because it wasn’t helpful anymore? It feels like a waste. This book will serve as a reference through your entire healing journey because it covers so much! You will read it now and focus on what foods to eliminate and add in, then in a few months when you feel ready you’ll focus in on more of the lifestyle stuff, then over the summer when you take your first big AIP trip you will want to reference the travel section, and this time next year you’ll be skimming the section on holidays!
  5. It is a Truly One of a Kind Book: There is literally no other book on the market right now that addresses what this book does. We have The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne which is THE book with all of the information, all of the science, and all of the explanation and it is amazing! But for some people, just starting out it can be a bit overwhelming. Then we have a wonderful selection of print and electronic cookbooks all with their own focus and story that have contributed a wealth of information and resources to the autoimmune community, but there is no other book that serves as a go-to pocket guide. No other book that you can hand to a friend and say here: this is what the autoimmune protocol entails. It is truly one of a kind right now.

So now that I have told you why my friend Eileen and her book are amazing! I want to offer you the opportunity to get a copy for yourself. If you are just eager to check it out you can find it in print and in e-book format HERE on Amazon. Go check it out now! After you do that come back and checkout the special giveaway I am hosting below. Eileen has been gracious enough to offer one lucky reader a free e-book copy of her new book so fill out the form below and you’ll be entered into that drawing! If you are ready to make 2016 a year of healing this is the place to start! Happy New Year Everyone!

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