Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/Paleo)

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/Paleo)

It is that time of year where traditions become especially important. Many families rely heavily on traditions around the holidays whether it is a favorite recipe, travel plans, or a certain activity, we all trim the tree, watch movies and eat food in our own special ways.

As I have gotten older I have enjoyed learning about other family’s traditions and seeing what I have in common and what I do differently from others. One tradition that I have found to be fairly unique to my family is our Christmas breakfast. For as long as I remember we have had the same breakfast each Christmas morning… a casserole with link sausage on the bottom, cranberry sauce in the middle and cornbread on top. My grandmother used to make it, we make it and I believe that most of my aunts and uncles make it as well. I love it.

However in recent years I have had to make do with other breakfast options since link sausages and cornbread are not AIP. This year, I decided to try and make my own version ahead of time so that I could have the chance to partake in our yummy tradition and I am pleased with the result.

You may have your own Christmas breakfast traditions, but if you are looking to try something new or on the off chance that you also grew up with this Christmas casserole than I hope you give this a try!

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/paleo)

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

Sausage: 

1 lb Ground Pork

2 tsp Dried Sage

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Dried Thyme

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Cranberry Sauce:

3 Cups of Fresh Cranberries

1/4 cup of Maple Syrup

1/2 cup of Fresh Orange Juice

Topping:

8 Pastured Egg Yolks

1 Green Plantain- Pureed

4 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Coconut Oil

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup of Honey

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine all of your sausage ingredients until well blended. Press the sausage meat into the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain some of the fat from the pan. Set the sausage aside. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. In a small sauce pan combine all of your cranberry sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Spread your sauce over your sausage. In a food processor combine all of your topping ingredients and blend until smooth. Gently press the dough on top of your casserole until it covers it completely. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly and enjoy.

 

Cranberry Orange Bread (AIP/Paleo)

Cranberry Orange Bread (AIP/Paleo)

Well, Thanksgiving is now behind us and that means it is time for all things cranberry and peppermint! So long pumpkin spice it has been fun… In all seriousness though I love Christmas flavors. I eat cranberries all year long and one of my favorite flavor combos in the world is cranberry and orange it is just a classic.

Growing up, I have very fond memories of my mom making cranberry bread. As wonderful of a cook as my mother is she is not much of a baker so this cranberry bread was a definite seasonal treat. She would pick a day and make a bunch of loaves for neighbors and friends, reserving one special loaf for us. That one loaf was never enough. I just wanted to gobble it all up!

Since going paleo I have tried a few different re-creations of this classic recipe, but I have never been 100% satisfied. Until now… After creating my pumpkin bread recipe I knew that this recipe had to be next.

This recipe turned out just as well as the pumpkin bread and it is definitely my new current holiday favorite. I hope that it will fill your home with some wonderful holiday memories and flavors in the coming weeks!

Cranberry Orange Bread (AIP/Paleo)

Cranberry Orange Bread (AIP/Paleo)

(yields 1 mini loaf)

Ingredients: 

Bread: 

1 C Sweet Potato Flour

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp sea salt

½ Cup of Pureed Green Plantain

½ C Palm Shortening

2 TBS Grated Orange Peel

1/2 Cup of Maple Syrup

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2/3 Cup of Fresh Cranberries

Glaze:

2 TBS Coconut Cream

1 tsp Honey

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In your food processor combine your sweet potato flour, baking powder, sea salt, plantain, palm shortening, orange peel, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth. Fold in your cranberries. Grease a mini loaf pan and pour in your batter. Baking for 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool completely and then gently turn it out of the pan. To make your glaze, blend together all of your ingredients and drizzle on top of your bread. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Gravy (AIP/Paleo)

Pumpkin Gravy (AIP/Paleo)

There are only a few days left before Thanksgiving and you are probably trying to finalize that menu! I have one last simple recipe for you to add… gravy. Growing up we always made the gravy from the drippings of the turkey. It was the last thing to get made before the food went on the table and sometimes it could be a tad stressful. This stress got magnified when we started trying to make it with gluten free flours. It would turn into a gross clumpy mess and everyone would get kind of grumpy. Last year my sister and I tried making a separate gravy out of bone broth and pureed veggies like onion and celery and while good it was still a little thin for me. So, this year I decided that I was going to come up with a creamy, savory, AIP gravy recipe that could be made ahead and would be delicious over turkey.

Around the time that I made this resolution I saw a recipe that used pumpkin as a thickener in a stew base. I tried the stew and it was delicious and I knew that I had to incorporate pumpkin into my gravy, I mean how fitting is that?!  This recipe turned out great and it was so simple.

So, if you are looking for an easy way to add gravy to your menu than I highly recommend this one and I hope you enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Gravy (AIP/Paleo)

Pumpkin Gravy (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

2 Cups of Bone Broth

1 Cup of Pumpkin Puree

2 tsp Salt

4 Cloves of Garlic

½ Cup of Chopped Onion

2 TBS Arrowroot Flour

Directions: 

Add your bone broth, pumpkin, salt, garlic and onion to your food processor and blend until smooth. As the food processor is running, slowly sprinkle in your arrowroot flour. Once everything is well blended pour it into a sauce pan and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to set for about 3-5 minutes to thicken. Serve over mashed sweet potatoes, turkey or anything else you like!

Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing (AIP/Paleo)

Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing (AIP/Paleo)
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may be starting to think about your menu. Maintaining an AIP diet over the holidays can be a challenge, especially when so many of us look forward to meals and recipes that are steeped in tradition and comfort. I actually began my AIP journey the week of Thanksgiving three years ago. I was unbelievable sick and desperate and I happened to have my AIP “lightbulb” moment about two days before Thanksgiving. Bless my mother because I called her up and announced this with only a few days to prepare and she came through with flying colors for the Thanksgiving meal.

Fast forward to the present day and I am now a pro at navigating the holidays on this diet. I have AIP-ified many of my old favorite recipes and I genuinely lack for nothing. One recipe that I have experimented with each year is the stuffing recipe. Obviously, traditional bread based stuffing is out and a lot of paleo stuffing recipes use eggs and nuts to bind the ingredients together. It hasn’t really bothered me to have a crumblier version of stuffing over the past few years and just skip the binders all together but this year I thought I would do a practice run and try to recreate the texture. I used mashed sweet potatoes as a binder and tigernut flour to add that slight breaded feel. I feel like the result turned out well and it will be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing (AIP/Paleo)

Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

2 lbs Ground pork

3 Ribs of Celery, diced

2 Large Apples, diced

1 Medium Onion, diced

2 tsp Dried Sage

2 tsp Dried Thyme

1 tsp Dried Rosemary

1 Cup of Bone Broth

2 tsp Salt

4 Cloves of Garlic

1 Cup of Pureed White Sweet Potatoes

1 Cup of Tiger Nut Flour (Divided)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large cast iron dutch oven or sauce pan brown your ground pork over medium heat. When the meat is mostly browned and crumbled add in your celery, apples and onion and sauté until slightly softened. Add in your seasonings, bone broth and sweet potatoes and stir until well combined. Gently stir in half of your tiger nut flour. If you are not using a dutch oven transfer into a 6 qt baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining tiger nut flour on top. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until golden brown on top and not too wet. Enjoy.

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

To read more about my AIP/Paleo pregnancy experience read my First Trimester and Second Trimester Posts.

Well, here I am in the final weeks of my pregnancy with Baby Sweet Potato and I am caught in that place of feeling simultaneously overwhelmed at already being so close to the finish line and so incredibly ready to be done. The third trimester feels like it has been the longest of the trimesters for me. I am not good at being patient, so every day feels longer than the next as I anticipate all of the things to come. However, overall the third trimester has gone very smoothly.

The baby has been growing well and staying very active. I have had a fair amount of trouble going back to sleep in the middle of the night for most of the third trimester but some weeks are better than others, I did develop a few stretch marks on the lower part of my belly and on my hips but I am confident that they will fade. The only big complaint I have had is that around 28 weeks I developed fairly severe pelvic girdle pain or SPD that was caused by my body producing too much of the hormone relaxin in too short a period of time causing my ligaments to loosen and my pelvis to become unstable. This lasted for about six weeks and then just as suddenly as it came on, it disappeared. I went to the chiropractor regularly in those six weeks, I stretched and did exercises to try to strengthen my pelvic muscles and I had to be really intentional about not moving too fast or doing anything that would pull my pelvis out of alignment. It was royally uncomfortable and I am very glad that it didn’t last the entire length of the third trimester.

Diet:

My diet has remained mostly the same in the third trimester. I did have to switch to eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day to keep my heartburn at bay and my blood sugar stabilized. I found that my acid reflux and heartburn improved when I started supplementing with calcium so I made the personal choice to reintroduce a small amount of aged, low lactose, dairy on a once a week or less basis just as I finish out the remainder of the pregnancy. This isn’t something that I would recommend to everyone it was just something that I felt comfortable doing and it has worked fine for me. Around 34/35 weeks I started eating 6 dates per day since some research has shown that there is a component in dates that mimics the effects of oxytocin and that women who consumed 6 dates per day in the last month or so of their pregnancy has higher rates of spontaneous labor, spontaneous rupture of membranes and greater cervical dilation upon arrival at the hospital. Plus dates are yummy, so why not? I also continued to drink this pregnancy tea daily.

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

Physical Self Care:

The amount of physical self care that I required definitely increased in this trimester. I started going to the chiropractor weekly, as opposed to every two to three weeks, to help with aches and pains as well as optimal fetal positioning for birth. I continued taking Epsom salt baths most nights to help with sleep, aches, and keeping any swelling away. My bedtime routine became very important and very extensive. I found that in order to get the best quality of sleep possible I had to start my bedtime routine an hour earlier so that I could spend more time away from blue light and more time decompressing before actually needing to fall asleep. I couldn’t do a lot of exercise during the six weeks where I was experiencing the SPD pain. I did some basic exercises at home each day and tried to stretch and remained active at work and about once a week I took a short walk but too much movement was very painful and took me a long time to recover from. As soon as it cleared up though I went back to walking about 3 miles every other day and doing some occasional yoga. Paying attention to optimal fetal positioning is important to me because I have seen a lot of unnecessarily difficult labors that have resulted from babies being in a posterior position so I have made sure to be particularly mindful of my posture and making sure to spend some time each day sitting on the exercise ball and resting on all fours to keep baby in a good anterior position. (if you’re interested in this check out this website and this article) I also really became intentional about trying to cut back on my level of busyness. We still had plenty of things going on, but I didn’t travel and I tried to keep things to a minimum so that I could stay at home and rest or work on preparing for the baby when possible.

 

Medical Care:

I have been extremely happy with the care providers I switched to in my second trimester. They have been very accommodating and have a naturally minded, evidenced based, but minimalistic approach when working with low risk patients. The two big tests this trimester were the gestational diabetes test and the group b strep test. The gestational diabetes test typically involves drinking a very sweet, very processed glucose drink and then having your blood sugar checked. I was not about to do that because I doubt I’ve had that much sugar and dye in my system in at least 5 years. Instead, I got my blood drawn at a fasting level at one appointment and then scheduled my next appointment for two hours after breakfast and got my blood sugar levels checked with the finger stick reader. It was all very easy and my levels all came back great. In regards to the group b strep test, the test itself is very easy but I wanted to try to do everything I could to minimize my risk of testing positive so that I could avoid the need for antibiotics in labor. I want this baby to get as much good bacteria from me as possible during birth and I want to be in optimal health postpartum and antibiotics are a big trigger for my ulcerative colitis. I knew I was going to be tested at 35 weeks so around 28 weeks I began a regimen of taking 2,000 mg of vitamin C in divided doses, two of these probiotics each day, and 500mg of garlic oil each day. Then at 33 weeks I also used this same probiotic vaginally every other night. My goal was to optimize my gut and vaginal flora, not cheat the test, so I didn’t want to do anything to target and kill bacteria only strengthen my immune system and introduce lots of healthy bacteria. My results came back negative, so that was a huge relief! I did not have any routine third trimester ultrasounds and since I was measuring on track there was really no need for one and I have declined any routine cervical checks at my weekly appointments.

 

Baby Prep:

We took a tour of the maternity hospital where I will be delivering, got baby’s closet organized with all of the wonderful gifts people gave us at our showers, prepped our cloth diapers and packed our hospital bags. When I write my post about the birth and the hospital stay I will talk about what I included in my hospital bag. I also started prepping for birth by intentionally practicing my relaxation techniques and getting my heart and mind in the right place. This phase of my life has been filled with a lot of stress, separate from the pregnancy, so one of the biggest ways I have been preparing for the baby is by trying to do as much healing and praying and mindfulness as I can so that that stress doesn’t get in the way during birth and my early postpartum days.

Stay tuned for the final update on my birth experience and to meet Baby Sweet Potato!

 

 

 

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook- Is It Worth Buying?

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: Is It Worth Buying?

Every time a new book comes out talking about the autoimmune protocol or the paleo diet there is a lot of hub bub. There are still only a limited number of books on these topics, especially on AIP, so adding a new resource to the mix is always kind of a big deal. That being said, there are always the skeptics among us who question the value of new products. Can’t we find all of this information online? Why pay for something that you could find for free? Is it worth spending the money?

Even though I am a member of this community of authors I understand the questions. Those of us with autoimmune diseases have probably spent thousands of dollars over the course of our quests for health. We have bought the fad diet books, the self help tapes, the magic bullet pill and this month’s super food… and we have been burned each and every time. At a certain point skepticism is a means of self-protection because we are tired of wasting excitement and money on resources that will not help. I get it, I really do. I do not want to contribute to this frustrating cycle so as a blogger I really strive to only review or promote products that I firmly believe will live up to the hype. I pass on a lot of opportunities to review products that I don’t think are worth it because I don’t want to waste your time. So, every time I review a new product or a book I ask these questions: Why is this book/product needed in the community at large? What will you get from it if you buy it? And Is it worth buying?

Today marks the launch of a big new resource for the autoimmune protocol community, the release of The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. This book was written by Angie Alt and Mickey Trescott, the authors of the blog Autoimmune Paleo. The goal of this book is to be exactly what it claims to be, a practical handbook for healing from autoimmune disease. So, let’s ask our first question:

Why Is The Book Needed?

The current canon of AIP resources consists of books that fall on one end of the spectrum or the other. You have The Paleo Approach which is a fantastic encyclopedic resource of all thing autoimmune and autoimmune protocol related. This is where the science is, the in-depth explanations, and the nitty gritty ins and outs can be found. It is a wonderful book, but can be overwhelming for some and on the other end of the spectrum you have a growing number of practical resources like cookbooks and e-books that only address specific elements of the healing process. What we have been lacking is a resource in the middle. I think that this book fills the gap perfectly. This is the book that I will be recommending from now on when someone says, “I want to know where to start with AIP but its all too overwhelming” or “What is one book I should buy to learn about AIP?” The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook Succeeds in being a one-stop resource that will give you a functional understanding of autoimmune disease, the autoimmune protocol, and how to start towards healing. The book claims to be “… about demystifying and breaking down what can be a very complex, overwhelming, and isolating process, and replacing it with one that is clear and liberating.” And I definitely think it succeeds.

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So we know that it fills a gap and has value in the community at large but are YOU going to learn anything from it? That leads us to our next question:

What Will You Get If You Buy It?

The handbook is broken down into chapters titled by their purpose (Inform, collaborate, nourish, breath, move, and connect) so that is how I will break down my answer. I am also going to include a quote from each section that I think sums up the what the chapter communicates.

You will be informed: “You may find learning the details about your disease to be unnerving, because knowing makes it hard to hide from your new reality. After the initial fear subsides, understanding inspires a level of courage you previously didn’t have and empowers you to take control of your health and start on the path toward healing.” Wow, I love that quote… This chapter is concise, easy to understand, and not at all overwhelming. It leads to a great functional understanding of autoimmune disease without getting bogged down in too many scientific or medical terms. It is very practical and will probably lead to a lot of “light bulb moments” for a lot of people who may not have ever thought that so many seemingly unrelated symptoms could fall under the umbrella of autoimmunity. This section also demystifies the world of autoimmune testing and gives a short explanation of many of the tests autoimmune sufferers may find themselves hearing about or undergoing.

14882201_728131054088_2230555526861852995_oYou Will Learn How to Collaborate: “Collaboration means blending what you and each member of your team can offer and combining the most useful ideas into one effective plan in order to best resolve a problem.” This is one of the most unique chapters in this book, in my opinion. So many autoimmune sufferers struggle to find providers who bridge the gap between conventional and alternative approaches to autoimmune disease. As a result, many of us have to learn how to collaborate with multiple care providers in order to get the best result. This is difficult however, because many of us grew up thinking of the doctor as the final authority we are not trained to see them as a resource that we have the power to either utilize or not. This chapter of the book talks about what collaboration means in the context of autoimmune healing, the different approaches and practitioners available, and it gives definition to terms that are often used but not always understood such as alternative medicine and functional medicine. Finally, you will also learn how to assemble a collaborative care team, what questions to ask your providers, and how to handle some of the common roadblocks to collaboration.

You Will Learn How to Nourish Yourself: “The foods you choose to eat every day provide your body with the raw materials it needs to perform optimally.” This section breaks down the autoimmune protocol into very easy to understand chunks, explaining what it is, what it involves, how to transition into the elimination phase, how to handle reintroductions and modifications that can be made for certain conditions. This chapter also discusses the importance of rest in the healing process. It is very practical and easy to work through.

You Will Learn How to Breathe: “Work and productivity are consistently valued more highly than recovery and vitality, as most of use are expected to work longer hours and with less time off than ever before.” In this chapter, you will learn the physiological effects of stress on the body and how it contributes to autoimmune disease, you will be given a stress management self evaluation to help you discover your strengths and weaknesses in this area, and you will be given some practical resources for managing stress

You Will Learn How to Move: “While civilization has brought about radical changes that have positively impacted the way we live, the extent to which it has enabled us to be inactive is causing disastrous consequences in our health.” This chapter discusses the benefits of movement, the difficulties of exercising with an autoimmune disease, explores the pitfalls of over exercising, and the barriers that cause some of us to move too little. You will also be given some great ideas for types of exercise that work well for those with autoimmune diseases.

Finally, there is a brief section on the importance of human connection that discusses how to build a support network during your healing journey and avoid isolation and maintain a social life.

The book concludes with a meal plan and some fantastic recipes that will set you on the right path towards wellness. While there are so many more AIP cookbooks and recipe resources available now than there were just a few short years ago, providing the meal and the recipes here really rounds out the book into a complete one-stop resource.

The back of the book is filled with a collection of valuable resources that include everything from a 12 week lifestyle plan, to resources for finding a doctor and further reading.

So, now the grad finale…

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Is this book worth buying?

The answer to this question depends on your circumstances. If you are a person who has read The Paleo Approach cover to cover, read every blog out there, assembled a collaborative care team that you are happy with, found remission or healing through the autoimmune protocol and are 100% confident in the path you’ve chosen then you can probably skip this book. However, if you are a person who is struggling with chronic health issues that have never been diagnosed, you recently got a diagnosis and you are overwhelmed by the lack of conventional options and the shear volume of personal opinions and guru-style cures on the internet, you are a person who has seen improvement through conventional medicine but has not reached your desired level of functioning, or you have been planning on trying the autoimmune protocol for any reason but find it to be too complicated than this is definitely a worthwhile buy. This book is a one-stop resource that will give you all the information you actually NEED to gain an understanding of how to move forward. This is the book for the person that wants to know what to do and how to do it but is not necessarily interested in the in-depth scientific reasons why. So, if you fall into any of those categories than I feel very confident in saying that your money will not be wasted on this book and it is worth buying.

If you are interested in the book Click HERE to check it out on Amazon.

 

Apple Pie Tea Mix (AIP Friendly)

Apple Pie Tea (AIP Friendly)

I cannot believe that it is already the middle of fall! The days are (finally) starting to cool down and in just a few short weeks our Baby Sweet Potato will be making his or her grand entrance into the world. When I think back to the day in March when I found out that I was pregnant, it seemed almost impossible that we would make it to this point, yet here we are!

Fall is a time when things generally tend to start slowing down for me. I like to stay at home, travel less, focus in on preparing for holiday family time and make time to do more low-key fun activities. That has been especially true this year, for obvious reasons. For some, that may sound kind of boring but the truth is that I love it. Summer is usually very hectic for our family and the holidays are filled with a lot of hustle and bustle so having a chance in between to slow down is a blessing I look forward to.

One of my favorite ways to wind down and enjoy the cooling weather and relaxing atmosphere of fall is with a nice warm beverage. In the past I was a die-hard PSL (Pumpkin Spice Late) girl, but those days are long behind be. I have traded them in for a variety of equally comforting and autumn-inspired teas. One of my favorites is this blend. It is warm and spicy and sweet without having caffeine or any nightshade or seed based spices.

I hope that you also get the opportunity to have some relaxation time over this coming month and enjoy a nice cup of something warm and fall-ish!

 

Apple Pie Tea (AIP Friendly)

Apple Pie Tea Mix (AIP Friendly)

(Makes 2-4 cups of tea depending on desired strength)

Ingredients: 

6 tsp loose leaf rooibos tea

2 TBS chopped unsweetened dried apples 

1 tsp ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick cut into 3-4 pieces

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

maple syrup to taste (optional)

Directions: 

Combine all of your ingredients with the exception of the maple syrup into a bowl and stir to combine. To make tea place anywhere from a teaspoon to a Tablespoon’s worth of the tea mixture in a tea ball or strainer (The more tea you use the stronger the flavor will be) and pour 8 ounces of water over top. Allow it to steep for 4-5 minutes. Remove the tea leaves and sweeten with maple syrup to taste.