Banana Fudge-sicles (AIP/Paleo/No Sugar Added)

Banana Fudge-sicles (AIP/Paleo/No Added Sugar)

Well summer is here, school is out and the pressure is on to come up with some fun activities for summer vacation! I love having the kiddos in my life around more, but it can definitely be a challenge to come up with enough new and challenging activities to avoid the dreaded (and common) words we adults hate to hear all summer long… “I’m bored”. One thing that I have found fun is coming up with fun snack ideas that the kids can either participate in or be surprised by. The added bonus is that if they help make the food they are far less likely to complain about it later!

These fudge-sicles are a great alternative to the more mainstream summer snacks that many kids eat like ice cream pops or icey juice filled with blue food coloring! They are super yummy and have no added sugar at all so your kids will be happy without being jacked up on sugar (win win). So, next time the bored whining starts maybe this can add a little healthy excitement to the day!

Banana Fudge-sicles (AIP/Paleo)

Banana Fudge-sicles (AIP/Paleo/No Added Sugar)

Ingredients: 

¾ cup of coconut milk

¼ cup of cocoa powder or carob powder (For AIP)

2 dates (softened)

2 TBS almond butter (omit for AIP)

2 TBS Collagen Powder (Optional)

1 banana (split into halves)

Directions: 

Place your dates in warm water for about 2-5 minutes or until softened. Add your coconut milk, cocoa or carob powder, dates, optional almond butter, optional collagen powder and half of your banana into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a popsicle mold, then thinly slice the remaining half of your banana and slide the slices into the sides of your popsicle molds, close the molds and place in the freezer for at least two hours. Pop them out and enjoy.

Mint Lime-Aid (AIP/Paleo)

Mint Limeade FB

Well, here we are in June, welcoming summer once again. Here in the south we have welcomed summer with a massive heat wave and I am telling you what I am feeling it! Obviously, staying hydrated is always concern but it especially important right now while I am pregnant.  I am so thirsty al the time and I am just getting tired of boring old water and herbal pregnancy tea. Recently we had some guests over and I decided to create a fun summer drink that everyone could enjoy and this was the result. Its a twist on traditional lemonade but it is delicious and refreshing and very summery! Obviously, nothing replaces regular water for actual hydration but this is a great treat on a hot summer day when water is just not doing the trick! I am really looking forward to the summer and this was a great drink for welcoming in the warm weather and sunshine! Enjoy!

Mint Lime-Aid (AIP/Paleo)

Mint Lime-Aid (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups of Lime Juice

1/2 cup of honey

4 + 1 cups of water

2 sprigs of fresh mint

Directions: 

in a large pitcher combine your lime juice with 4 cups of water. In a small bowl combine your honey and 1 cup of water and heat over the stove or in the microwave until combined. Add your honey syrup to the lime mixture. Stir in your mint leaves and chill in the refrigerator. Serve over ice or add in a splash of club soda and enjoy.

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The 1st Trimester

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The 1st Trimester

Well, the title of this post pretty much takes away the element of surprise, but for posterity’s sake… We have a surprise! Yup, you guessed it…. we are adding another member to the Sweet Potatoes & Social Change family! Sometime in November or December the hubby and I will be welcoming our first little one!

The past few months have been a whirlwind of events and emotions all of which were a lot to handle, and lead to my very obvious and sudden blogging break after Easter. Within the first month of my pregnancy we told our families about the baby, experienced the unexpected passing of a beloved family member, had two miscarriage scares, had to travel a number of times and I started experiencing severe morning sickness. Thankfully, life is beginning to calm down slightly and I am finally starting to feel better physically and emotionally. I am really excited to share my AIP pregnancy journey with you all because it is a topic that I have gotten a lot of questions about in the past and it is certainly a different experience with different challenges than many women face during their pregnancies. So here are some of the highlights from my first trimester, as it pertains to health and diet:

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The 1st Trimester:

Fertility:

I debated whether or not to include a note on this, but because I have written about fertility and birth control in the past I figured it would be beneficial to provide an update on that front. I worried a lot about infertility after my autoimmune diagnosis because I knew I was suffering from widespread inflammation and hormonal imbalances, plus I had spent many of my formative teenage years on the pill after being initially diagnosed with suspected endometriosis that turned out to, in fact, be the ulcerative colitis. Finally, in 2014 I decided to start being proactive about improving and protecting my fertility so I went off of hormonal birth control in favor of the copper IUD, I went on AIP which really helped reduce my PMS and hormonal imbalances and I started learning about my body. About a year before we planned to try and conceive I spent about three months charting my cycles to learn my body’s ovulation signs and to learn when I typically ovulated. Then, about 6 months prior to trying to conceive I paid extra close attention to my diet and increased the amount of healthy fats I was eating. I also went to the dentist for a cleaning and went to my midwife for my annual exam. Finally, about three months prior I started on a food based prenatal vitamin that included bio-available folate rather than folic acid and I again started using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) to chart my cycles. I got my IUD removed during my period and we were able to conceive on that very first cycle. Obviously, a lot of this was out of our hands and was in God’s control but I do credit some of the speed with which we conceived to my preparation and primarily to using FAM ahead of time to learn about my cycle and my body and to be on the look out for any potential problems. Using FAM was also helpful because I was so aware of what was going on with my body that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was pregnant a full week before I was able to get a positive test.

 

Diet:

For the first two weeks of my pregnancy I just went along with little change to me usual diet. I found that I needed a few more snacks here and there than I had before and I added in some more fruit and starchy carbs to keep my energy level up but overall I was fine. Around week 6 I developed severe morning sickness. Going into this pregnancy I will admit that I partially believed some of the theories about morning sickness that circulate around the natural health and paleo communities. For example, that morning sickness can be caused or made worse by having a poor diet prior to conception or that some nutrient deficiencies like a magnesium deficiency may play a role. Well, I was quickly humbled because I have been on strict paleo or AIP for over 4 years and I have been supplementing with every form of magnesium for just as long and I was in the bathroom throwing up about 4-5 times a day the minute I hit my sixth week of pregnancy. Related to this, was a huge increase in upper GI issues like acid reflux and GERD. I couldn’t keep down much of anything, including water no matter what remedy I tried. You name it, I tried it: sea bands, ginger everything, sour everything, vitamin B6, magnesium oil, exercise, rest, carrot juice, apple cider vinegar… So finally around week 8 I went into see my midwife who took one look at me and said I either needed to try some medicine or go to the hospital. I was still desperately trying to avoid anti-nausea medicine so I told her I would try some medicine for the acid reflux and see if that would help take the edge off. She agreed and I went on Zantac. Thankfully the Zantac did relieve the severity and I went down to throwing up about twice a day and was able to keep down some liquids. Over this period I really could only tolerate carbs and a very minimum amount of non-smelly protein. I had a lot of smoothies which I added collagen to, I ate a lot of plantain chips, I could eat some cold protein like chicken salad and I ate some Applegate brand frozen sausages. At one point I did have to add in a small amount of white rice just to have some more variety and keep my blood sugar up, but that was my only paleo/AIP cheat. I had a lot of cravings for the SAD comfort foods of my past but I muscled through them (admittedly grumpy about it at times). I did have to drink a lot more juice than I ever had before because it was much easier for me to keep down than plain water and I needed to stay hydrated.

I was very worried that this level of morning sickness was never going to pass, but thankfully around week 11 it started to ease up and by about week 13 it was mostly gone. In hindsight, 5 weeks of morning sickness was not too bad, but in the thick of it I was pretty sure I was going to die.

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The 1st Trimester

Natural Health and Pregnancy Issues:

Exercise- I started the first two weeks by walking at least 3 miles a day but when the morning sickness hit that all went out the window. After one attempt that ended with me throwing up in the woods I decided it was time for me to rest. I did try to remain as active as I could and I did a lot of stretching to help ease the muscle tightness that comes with a changing, growing body.

 

Chiropractic Care- I went to the chiropractor before getting pregnant so I have continued going about once a month since then. I believe that chiropractic care is vital to a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

 

Vitamins- I plan to write a full post on the topic of AIP and Paleo friendly prenatal vitamins so I won’t go into too much detal here but for most of my first trimester I took the Optimal Brand Prenatal vitamin as well as THIS DHA supplement. I also continued taking probiotics and magnesium daily to help with my digestion and I will say that I have not experienced any constipation, unlike most pregnant women.

 

Prenatal care and testing- As a doula I already knew the importance of selecting a good prenatal provider, but as an AIP-er I knew that I also needed someone who was going to respect my lifestyle choices. As a result, I chose to be seen by a group of three Certified Nurse Midwives that work in a larger obstetrics practice with Obstetricians. All three of the midwives are aware of my lifestyle and diet considerations and are very respectful. At my first prenatal appointment I let them know that when it came time to get tested for gestational diabetes I would be declining the glucola drink and they said that was fine and they would have me test my blood sugar at home over a set time period instead. We also talked about reducing my chances of having group b strep so that I could avoid antibiotics if possible. Outside of that, I consented to all of the traditional first trimester blood work with the exception of any genetic testing (for personal reasons). I did wind up having an early ultrasound because I had two episodes of bleeding at week 6 and week 8. They never found any cause for the bleeding and the baby was healthy but it was good to check and make sure. Otherwise, my only ultrasound would have been at 18 weeks.

 

The first trimester was an insane whirlwind for me so I am beyond excited to welcome the second trimester and begin preparing for this little Sweet Potato’s arrival! Thank you all for your patience in my absence I am happy to be back and sharing this journey with you!

No Churn Roasted Fig Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

No Churn Roasted Fig Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

Today we have a very special and very delicious guest post for you to enjoy. Due to a number of personal events I have had to take a little time off from recipe creation and writing, but I will be back soon with lots of excitement! In the mean time, enjoy this awesome post from one of my wonderful AIP blogger friends! – Samantha

I read somewhere that inspiration strikes when you least expect it, and for me it struck on a hurried trip to the grocery store.

Living in Dubai, all of our big grocery stores have these amazing bulk sections that I love to wander through. Now, you might be thinking, why would someone who follows the AIP diet enjoy the bulk sections of grocery stores – I mean it’s all flour and nuts and legumes, right? Well… not in our stores. There are tons of nuts and seeds (because in most middle eastern cultures every home would always have bowls of nuts and seeds to munch on sitting around the living room). BUT, the part that I love is all of the dried fruit (figs, raisins, pineapple, kiwi, mango, dates, dates, dates, and more dates) and row after row of brightly colored spices (both whole and ground). Need a couple of dates, a fig or two and a cinnamon stick…. no problem.

So, the other day I was walking from the produce section to the butcher and walked past the bulk area and listened in as various customers placed their orders. One man asked for 1/2 kilo each of walnuts, pistachios and almonds. Another man asked for 200 grams each of about 20 different things. And then came my favorite….the woman who was already placing bag after bag of various spices and seeds into her overflowing cart, when she asked for 1 kilo each of every variety of date they have. I so wished that I could have seen the spread she’d be putting out at her home that weekend. It looked like it would be an epic event.

After watching all of these customers I knew that I needed to buy something. I asked for a few dried figs and started for the checkout, thinking that these would just be emergency snack foods. I find a dried fig to be the perfect treat, and especially love the crunch of the tiny little seeds inside the fruit.

And then, I spotted them out of the corner of my eye… fresh figs. I don’t often buy them fresh since they’re crazy expensive and are such delicate fruits (and I’m not really a very delicate person), but I decided to take the risk and bring some home. Now, what would I do with them? Roasted figs with some coconut whipped cream, use them in my fig & bacon meatloaf topping, add them to a salad?? The choices were limitless.

As I drove home, I remembered the bananas that I had cut up and put in the freezer the night before for ‘1 ingredient ice cream.’ Hmmm… what if I combined the idea of roasted figs with the banana ice cream? Could it work? I just might be onto something…

Let’s just say that the speed at which I devoured this ice cream was proof that not only could it work, but it did. Do yourself a favor….buy some figs and make this ice cream! It just may become your favorite summer treat.

No Churn Roasted Fig Ice Cream
{AIP, Paleo, Fruit Sweetened, Dairy Free}

Time: 15 minutes + chilling time

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

2 bananas – ripe (turning brown)

4 figs – fresh or dried

2 dates – pit removed

pinch of cloves

1/8 t cinnamon

3/4 cup water

1/2 T balsamic vinegar

Directions:

on the day before you want to eat it:

– slice bananas and place in the freezer

make the ‘fig caramel’

– cut the tops off the figs and quarter them

– place figs, dates, spices and water in a small saucepan and allow to simmer over low to medium
heat for about 8 minutes (until water has evaporated and dates have dissolved) – if you use dried figs, you’ll need a little more water and a few more minutes simmering for them to soften completely

– add the balsamic vinegar and allow to cook over low heat from another minute

– spoon the caramel mixture into a small food processor and pulse until it forms a smooth paste

– store in the fridge over night

about an hour before you want ice cream:

– place banana slices in your food processor and process until smooth and creamy

– add caramel mixture and stir through – either swirl it through, or mix in completely – both are equally tasty

– spoon ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for one hour before serving

– best made right before serving (although I find if you let it thaw a bit it’s good a few days later too)

Bethany Tapp From Adventures in PartakingAbout Bethany:

Bethany is the blogger behind “Adventures in Partaking” and she is managing her spondylarthritis, uveitis and endometriosis with the AIP diet and lifestyle. Her food philosophy is that everything should be an adventure – from trying new foods, to figuring out what works for you on your healing journey. She also uses the adventures she has had in her life (growing up in East Africa & the Middle East) to inspire her recipe development. When Bethany isn’t creating AIP recipes, she’s working as a children’s ministry director at a church in Dubai. You can find Bethany on facebook and pinterest and instagram if you want to follow more of her adventures.

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.