Garlic Steamed Crabs (AIP/Paleo)

Garlic Seamed Crabs (AIP/Paleo)

My entire extended family is from eastern Maryland. I have many fond childhood memories of spending summer evenings at my grandfather’s house catching fireflies, listening for the ice cream truck, watching an orioles game on TV and eating steamed crabs. Steamed blue crabs are basically synonymous with summer in my family. I realize that in many parts of the world, the idea of steaming a live crab and then cracking the shell with a mallet and picking out the meat sounds… well, just straight up barbaric. However, I grew up with it and I love it. It is fun and it brings me back to my childhood. The only problem is that true Marylanders only want one thing on their steamed crabs… Old Bay Seasoning. A type of seasoning, that is definitely off limits for anyone avoiding nightshades. Maryland steamed crabs are also traditionally steamed in a combination of water, white vinegar, and beer, making them a bad idea for anyone avoiding grains and gluten. I have been trying to create a yummy AIP version of steamed crabs for two summers now and I think I have finally found a winning recipe. The key is to make sure that you have enough seasoning on the shells that it carries over onto the meat as you’re eating it. The key to this recipe is the crushed garlic. The texture on the crabs is similar to that of the old bay seasoning, so it works well. However, because it requires so much this is one instance where I would highly recommend buying it in a jar rather than making your own. Here is an AIP friendly brand. I had a lot of fun making these this year, and if you also happen to have roots in the Chesapeake Bay area or you just enjoy steamed crabs, I hope you will enjoy them too.

Here is a fun video of my dad and my hubby putting the crabs in the steamer this year: (Double Click to Play)

 

Garlic Steamed Crabs (AIP/Paleo)

 Garlic Steamed Crabs (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients:

1 dozen live blue crabs

32 oz of Apple Cider Vinegar

32 oz of Water

6 TBS coarse sea salt

3 TBS dried oregano

1 TBS turmeric

3 TBS garlic powder

½ cup of crushed garlic

Directions:

Using a 15 and ½ quart steamer pot or larger, pour your water and vinegar into the bottom of the pot and insert the steamer tray. Bring the water to a boil. In a small bowl combine your salt, oregano, turmeric and garlic powder. Using tongs or gloves, pick up the crabs and place them in the pot. Sprinkle all of your spice mix over the crabs. Then liberally spoon your crushed garlic over the crabs and close the lid. Steam the crabs for 30 minutes. Remove them with tongs and serve.

 

20 Awesome Ways to Flavor Kombucha

20 Awesome Ways to Flavor Kombucha

I absolutely love making kombucha! Kombucha is a fermented, probiotic tea that can be flavored and carbonated to create a really fun and healthy alternative to soda. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, so it is easy to find in many health food stores or grocery stores. The only problem is, that it is usually sold at about $4 a bottle, making it a huge drain on your grocery budget.

Thankfully, it is super easy to make at home for just cents per gallon. Plus, in addition to the cost saving benefits it is also really fun to customize your flavors and experiment with different combinations. That being said, on any given week I am trying to squeeze in my kombucha making process in with all of my other kitchen tasks and when it comes time to actually flavor it, my imagination just isn’t really working.

(To Learn More About Making Kombucha Click HERE) 

So, to help you avoid this pitfall and feel inspired I have put together a list of 20 ways to flavor your kombucha! See if you can make it through all twenty and then report back on which one is your favorite!

20 Awesome Ways to Flavor Your Kombucha

20 Awesome Ways To Flavor Kombucha:

  1. watermelon mint
  2. ginger lime
  3. strawberry basil
  4. apple cinnamon
  5. blackberry lime
  6. berry berry (strawberry and blueberry)
  7. coconut lime
  8. strawberry lemonade
  9. watermelon lime
  10. lavender
  11. peach
  12. mango (puree the mango first, cut up mango doesn’t flavor well)
  13. orange grapefruit
  14. cherry vanilla (use a small amount of vanilla extract or a split vanilla bean)
  15. blueberry basil
  16. ginger peach
  17. cherry limeade
  18. pineapple
  19. orange and turmeric
  20. cranberry orange

 

The No ‘Poo Hair Washing Method… My Experience in Review

My Experience with the no 'poo method: plus reviews of 3 methods

My hair and I have never exactly gotten along. I have very fine, very straight hair which has always looked thin even when it wasn’t. I learned at a young age how to compensate for this, but let’s just say that it requires a curling iron and a fair amount of work.

This has always been the case, but a little over a year ago my hair and I had a major falling out (pun intended). After years of being on and off of immunosuppressant medication and steroids, suffering from nutritional deficiencies and low iron, having a sluggish thyroid, and fighting off multiple intestinal infections, my hair got the memo and started a mass evacuation from my scalp. It seemed as though all of the sudden I was pulling huge chunks of hair from my head for no apparent reason so, as any woman would do, I kind of freaked out.

Over the course of the last year I have done a lot to address the underlying causes of my hair loss. My nutritional deficiencies have been primarily reversed, my iron level is coming back up, my hormones are balanced, my thyroid is now functioning optimally, and those pesky little infections are being resolved. However, all of that has taken a great deal of time and has really only recently been accomplished.

In all honesty, the first thing that I did to address my hair loss was change my shampoo. However, instead of switching from one comparable brand of grocery store shampoo to another I decided to get a little radical and give up traditional shampoo entirely. I read a lot of testimonials about how traditional shampoo contains detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils, which can cause the scalp to overproduce sebum, harming the health or your hair and scalp over time. At this point I was willing to try just about anything, so I started my no ‘poo journey. I did go through a transition period that lasted about 4 weeks. This is the period of time in which your scalp adjusts from a lifetime of overproducing oils and sebum to only producing as much as your hair actually needs naturally. This is not a fun process and my hair did look like a totally greasy matted mess. My top tips for getting through it are to resist the urge to wash more, this will only make it last longer, wear your hair up or wear a hat or scarf. Use a natural bristle brush to help evenly distribute the oil through the hair, and when you really need to not look like a total mess use a DIY dry shampoo that is made of corn starch and, if you have dark hair, cocoa powder.

Since getting through the transition period I have tried 3 different methods of no ‘poo hair washing, so I thought it was time to share my experiences with you all.

  1. Morrocco Method: This is a line of natural hair products that is extremely popular in the paleo and natural health sphere. I have a number of friends who have had great experiences with it. This was the first product that I tried. I bought their sample pack of shampoo since they recommend trying them all to see which one works best. I tried using them straight from the bottle, I also tried diluting them. I rotated which shampoo I used with each wash. I used their detox product, as well as one of their conditioners and the honest truth is that it just didn’t work for my hair. I used it throughout my 4 week transition period and then for months off and on after that, but it always left my hair with a greasy buildup that made it hard to manage and unattractive.
  2. Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar: Following my transition period, I decided to try this original no ‘poo method. I would dilute baking soda in one bottle and ACV in another and use them to wash my hair about every 3 days. For the first 3 months of using this method it worked pretty well. I only had to wash my hair every 3 days, it left my hair feeling clean and soft, and I started to notice a lot of new hair growth. However, after about three months I started to notice that my scalp would go through periods of being very dry and then periods of being very oily. I had a harder time getting my hair clean, and I started to get dandruff. I later learned that the pH of baking soda is around 9, whereas the natural pH of the scalp is around 4. Because of this, baking soda can be extremely damaging to the scalp when used long term. In total, I used this method for about 6 months and by the end I was almost ready to go back to regular shampoo just so my hair would feel clean and manageable again.
  3. shampoo barJR Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar: I started using this product about 2 months ago and so far it is my favorite. I love using shampoo bars because they last a really long time and save you a ton of money. I stumbled across this product in my local health food store right when I was about to give up on this whole no ‘poo thing for good. The ingredients in the original formula, which is the one I am currently using, are saponified olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sunflower oil and palm kernal oil as well as rose essential oil for scent. I love that is has so few ingredients and that they are all natural oils. There are no detergents that strip the hair of its natural oils and there is nothing overly harsh. It lathers really well, which was a huge relief to me because you can actually make sure that the soap is spreading throughout your hair, which I could never really do with either of the methods listed above. I still only have to wash my hair every 2-3 days most of the time (although with the current summer heat I have found that I need to wash about every other day to keep it clean) and my hair is completely clean, soft and manageable after each wash. My dandruff has gone away and my scalp seems really healthy. I do not lose large amounts of hair any more and I am continuing to see plenty of new hair growth. This is truly old-fashioned soap and I feel like it is the perfect happy medium between using mud and water and using something that is entirely synthetic and petroleum based. I highly recommend it.

Everyone’s hair and scalp is a little it different so I highly encourage you to find the method that works best for you and don’t give up. I have seen wonderful improvement in my hair and scalp since giving up modern shampoo methods and I doubt that I will ever go back!

My Experience with the no 'poo method: plus reviews of 3 methods

Blueberry Cobbler (AIP/Paleo)

Blueberry Cobbler (AIP/Paleo)

Being from the mountains, blueberries are a big part of early summer. My dad grows blueberries in our back yard and there are tons of blueberry farms all around us. The great thing about this, is that locally grown seasonal blueberries are incredible, nothing like a lot of store bought blueberries. They are huge and juicy and have the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.

At this time of year blueberries often find their way into just about every meal on our table. In a smoothie for breakfast, on salad for lunch, they can even be delicious paired with meat for dinner, but my favorite use for them is in cobbler.

There is just something about cobbler that gives me a sense of nostalgia for those southern summer days filed with time outside, work in the garden, and kids running through the sprinkler. It is one of the quintessential staples of summer for me. A staple, that until now, I had not enjoyed in many years. This year I decided that I wanted to give it a try and I was very pleased with this result. This cobbler is easy to make, simple, and delicious. I served it last week and my hubby liked it so much I found him sneaking the last bit out of the pan as a snack the next day.

Summer is the best and easiest time to eat local so if you are lucky enough to have some blueberries around you this summer I highly recommend that you sneak them into a cobbler and enjoy!

 Blueberry Cobbler (AIP/Paleo)

Blueberry Cobbler (AIP/Paleo)

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups of fresh blueberries

1 TBS melted coconut oil plus more for greasing

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

½ lemon, juiced

2 TBS honey

1/2 cup of arrowroot flour

1/2 cup of coconut flour

1/2 cup of honey

4 TBS melted coconut oil

a pinch of salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil. In a small bowl combine your 1 TBS melted coconut oil, vanilla, 2 TBS honey, and your lemon juice. Cover the bottom of the pan with your blueberries and then pour the liquid over top, tossing to coat. In a medium bowl combine your arrowroot and coconut flour along with your honey, salt, coconut oil, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix thoroughly. Spoon the batter over the blueberries leaving only a few holes for the blueberries to poke through. Sprinkle your cinnamon on top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the entire crust is golden brown. Serve alone or with some coconut milk ice cream and enjoy!

AIP Breakfast Smoothie

AIP Breakfast Smoothie (AIP/Paleo)

About two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a chronic parasitic infection and a tapeworm, and while I was glad to have something treatable to blame my continuing GI symptoms on, I knew that the only way to efficiently rid myself of my unwelcome house guests was to go on medications.

I go to a wonderful functional medicine doctor and she agreed that with longstanding infections like these, medication was best. I was put on a week long dose of tinidazole and a short course of albenza. I braced myself for the side effects, but in the first few days nothing really happened. I got a weird metallic taste in my mouth from the tinidazole, but outside of that I felt mostly normal. Then, right when I let my guard down… WHAM, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My stomach became so bloated that my skin hurt, I experienced every digestive ailment imaginable and I was exhausted. I also got the worst case of brain fog I have ever experienced. The only thing I can compare it to is getting a concussion, my brain simply wasn’t processing information.

This all lasted about three days. Finally, about two days after I had finished the medication the brain fog started to lift, but my stomach was still a disaster. That is where this smoothie came into play. I have never been a huge fan of smoothies, I always say that I prefer not to drink my meals. I like the act of cooking and chewing and swallowing, the process is as satisfying to me as the food itself. However, after days of non stop digestive agony, solid food was no longer my friend. I needed to go as easy on my stomach as possible, while still actively healing my gut and giving my body adequate nutrition.

I needed healthy fat and protein to fill me up, probiotics and glycine to help me heal, greens for nutrients, and carbs for energy and I needed to be able to drink it. I started to just throw things in my food processor, and low and behold the result was actually quite delicious and very filling. I would still recommend pairing this smoothie with some breakfast sausage and some veggies for a larger and even more well balanced breakfast, but I do have to say that the smoothie alone was surprisingly filling. It has now been about a week since I finished the medication, and I am on the mend, I am sure I will have positive things to report in another post soon! In the meantime I hope you enjoy this nutrient dense smoothie!

AIP Breakfast Smoothie (AIP/Paleo)

 

AIP Breakfast Smoothie:

Ingredients: 

1 Banana

4-5 Whole Fresh Strawberries

1/3 Cup of Blueberries

1/3 Cup of Fresh Spinach

½ Cup of Kombucha (whatever flavor you choose, I like berry flavors or ginger)

½ Avocado

½ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Powdered Ginger

1 TBS Grass Fed Gelatin (red or green can)

Directions: 

Combine all of your ingredients, except the gelatin, in your blender or food processor and blend until liquid. With the blender or food processor still running, slowly sprinkle your gelatin into your smoothie completely. Serve and enjoy.

 

AIP Summer Recipe Roundup

AIP Summer Recipe Roundup Well summer is officially here and that means that it is time for fresh veggies and fruits, picnics, vacations, potlucks, cookouts and ice cold treats! However, with some traditional summer staples like tomatoes, dairy and sugar off of the table it can take some inspiration to enjoy the flavors of summer. Thankfully your AIP blogger community has you covered with tons of fruity, citrusy, and summery recipes for you to try! I have put together over 60 of my favorite AIP summer recipes to get you started. I hope you enjoy them!

Veggies and Salads

Meat and Seafood

Treats

Drinks

AIP Summer Recipe Roundup

Why I Am Proud To Be An Autoimmune Warrior

Why I am Proud to be an Autoimmune Warrior

Not long ago, I stumbled across an article addressing people who are facing chronic illness and autoimmune disease. The article made an appeal to its audience that the process of healing or managing illness didn’t need to be a fight, they didn’t need to be warriors. It went on to state that the warrior rhetoric present in the AIP community has the potential to make people feel like they are likely to fail and discourages them from accepting themselves for who they are. The overall message of the article was that in order to TRULY heal one must correct their thinking and accept themselves and their disease, rather then fight for a physical change.

Before I give my response to this, let me first say that I appreciate the varied views present in the world of healing and I fully respect each person’s right to have their own opinion. It is not my role to tell anyone how they should or should not feel about their own experience. As always, the role of my writing is to express my feelings about my own experience.

Why I Am Proud To Be An Autoimmune Warrior

I am proud to be an autoimmune warrior.

An autoimmune warrior is not someone who fears trying and failing but rather fears never being given chance. I fight against the fate handed down to me by doctors who said my life would be sub par, marred by illness and ending in my body inevitably failing me.

An autoimmune warrior doesn’t fight against their body but rather fights FOR it. I fight for the idea that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that my body is a creation of many parts, designed to work together rather than attack each other. I fight for the idea that my body didn’t start to fail until outside forces triggered it to do so.

An autoimmune warrior doesn’t accept the pain-filled status quo but rather fights for a brighter future, not only for themselves but for the world-wide community of autoimmune sufferers and for those who may avoid autoimmune disease through education and intervention. I fight for more research, more evidenced based practice, more integrative health models and more empowerment of patients, because I do not believe that we have learned all there is to know.

An autoimmune warrior finds joy in the journey, in their community, and in the knowledge that they are loved.

An autoimmune warrior is strong in spirit, even when their body is weak.

An autoimmune warrior greets each day with a renewed sense of purpose by forgiving the past and resolving to fight on.

An autoimmune warrior will always win the war, even if they lose a battle.

That is why I am proud to be an autoimmune warrior.