Paleo Popcorn Meatballs (AIP/Paleo)

Paleo Popcorn Meatballs (AIP/Paleo)

Recently, I was discussing the topic of corn with some of my fellow paleo blogger friends and it came up that almost all of us miss being able to eat popcorn. I, especially, used to eat popcorn a lot! It was my go to snack through all of elementary, middle and high school. Thinking back, it wasn’t so much that I loved the taste of popcorn, although I do have an affinity for anything covered in salt and butter, but rather I loved snacking. I loved that I could just snack and crunch and enjoy it for such a long time, compared to a meal or a snack that is over in 4-6 bites.

Since beginning the AIP diet almost a year and a half ago, I very rarely feel the physical need to snack unless I am away from my kitchen or a meal is taking longer than expected. The food I eat is very satiating and my blood sugar is extremely stable. That being said, there are still a few times a month where I long to snack on an emotional level. I sit down to watch a movie or a special episode of my favorite TV show and I feel like I am missing something. Obviously, I know that emotional eating can be a real problem for a lot of people and that it is always best to examine the root of these feeling rather than just give into them with paleo-ized snacks and treats. However, in my case, I know that it is simply an association issue. For many years the routine of making a bowl of popcorn and sitting down to watch TV was one I associated with fun, comfort and relaxation. Now, I still sit down to watch a TV show for fun but my fun snacking options are much more limited.

After pondering this for a few days, I decided to try and come up with a bite sized, savory snack option that still had some nutritional value but could be fun for those  times where you need a fun appetizer or snack to serve.

These “paleo popcorn meatballs”, as I am terming them, are basically just deep fried meatballs. Back in a former life I would have thought that that sounded like the most unhealthy thing imaginable, but now I see some nutrient dense grass-fed ground beef, combined with grass fed gelatin and a little bit of safe starch all fried in fat rendered from the top of my bone broth. Not too bad as far as the occasional AIP snack session is concerned. Personally, I enjoyed them with a little honey mustard sauce since I have now successfully reintroduced mustard seed, but here is a list of some AIP elimination friendly sauces that would go perfectly with these popcorn meatballs as well:

Country Gravy – Nourish Your Temple 

Cherry BBQ Sauce – Autoimmune Paleo 

Coconut Milk Ranch Dressing – Blissful Basil 

Cucumber Mint Dip – Pure and Simple Recipes

Roasted Garlic Dip- Beyond the Bite

Creamy Turmeric Sauce – Hollywood Homestead

Paleo Popcorn Meatballs (AIP/Paleo)

 

Paleo Popcorn Meatballs (AIP/Paleo):

Paleo Popcorn Meatballs (AIP/Paleo)Ingredients:

1 lb Grass Fed Ground Beef 

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Garlic powder

1 Cup Tapioca Flour 

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

6 TBS Grass Fed Gelatin 

3 TBS cold water

6 TBS hot water

1 Cup of Solid Cooking Fat (I used the fat from the top of my last batch of bone broth)

Directions:

In a small saucepan heat your cooking fat over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, combine your ground beef with 1/2 tsp of sea salt and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Once combined, begin to role the ground beef into small balls, smaller than an average meatball. Once all of the ground beef has been rolled into balls, take another mixing bowl and combine your tapioca flour, sea salt, garlic powder and turmeric. Then, in a smaller bowl, take your gelatin and cover it with your 3 tbs of cold water. Allow it to sit for about a minute. Then pour the hot water over top of the gelatin and stir until completely combined and liquid. Turn the cooking fat up to medium high heat. Take the meatballs and dredge them in the flour mixture, then dip them in the gelatin mixture and dredge in the flour mixture again before dropping them into the cooking fat. Repeat this process until you have enough meatballs to cover most of the bottom of the saucepan. Cook them for five minutes, using a slotted spoon to move them around and ensure even cooking. After five minutes, remove them from the saucepan with the slotted spoon and place them on a wire cooling rack. Repeat this until all of the meatballs are cooked. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce and enjoy.

Learn How to Cook Like Your Grandmother and Save Time in the Kitchen: AIP Batch Cook

How to Cook ike Your Grandmother and Save Time in the Kitchen With AIP Batch Cook

“I know I need to follow the autoimmune protocol for the sake of my health, but with an elementary schooler, a toddler and a baby I really need to just have easy and convenient food ideas. What should I do?”

“I know that AIP has helped you, but it takes so long to cook all of that food, how do you do it?”

“I work full time, I barely have time to eat, I just won’t be able to eat that way if it requires a lot of cooking.”

This sentiment is probably the concern I hear the most from people who are considering following the autoimmune protocol. We live in a world that prioritizes convenience and speed above almost everything else. A quick scan of the grocery store shelves will prove that point,

1 minute rice, instant mashed potato, premade microwaveable dinners, and for those who don’t even have the time to heat anything up you can walk into the store, load up a take out container at the hot bar and walk out with dinner, that is if you didn’t already go through the fast food drive through.

Our relationship with food and cooking has been reduced to the minimum requirement necessary for survival and satiation. So, when you are presented with the challenge of having to cook most, if not, all of what you eat from scratch it is understandably overwhelming.

How to Cook like Your Grandmother and Save Time in the Kitchen with AIP Batch Cook

It is at this point, that I typically stop and remind myself of the fact that my grandmother didn’t live in a world of fast food chains or microwaves.

Just two generations ago, people were cooking their food, every day, on stoves and in ovens. It was a skill and it was a routine.

My grandmother still had time to raise children, have a marriage, socialize, have friends, she even worked and volunteered, all while still cooking food. In part, the difference between then and now is our attitude and our expectations. When everyone cooked everything there was no other option or expectation, today we have to make a conscience choice to use our time differently and that can be a challenge. The other difference, is that cooking a lot in a short amount of time is a skill. It was a skill that our grandmothers had, but it has been lost.

Today, we call the practice of cooking large batches of food quickly and at one time, batch cooking. Batch cooking is what will allow you to follow the autoimmune protocol without giving up your sanity. Because we are used to food being available quickly we have stopped planning ahead when it comes to meals, but planning and preparing food ahead is really the only way to have nourishing food available to you when you are hungry without spending most of each day in the kitchen. I have written two posts on batch cooking in the past one about my batch cooking routine and one about why you should be batch cooking, but now I have something even better for you. My friend Mickey Trescott over at Autoimmune Paleo just launched a new program called AIP Batch Cook!

AIP Batch Cookaipbatchcooksidebar is a program that walks people through the planning and cooking of all of their meals for one week on the Autoimmune Protocol. Each session includes:

  •       A program guide walking users through what batch cooking is and how to use the materials properly
  •       A one-week meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the Autoimmune Protocol
  •       Two instructional videos walking users through the preparation of all of the food on the meal plan
  •       Shopping listschop lists, and tool lists that help them get organized for each batch-cooking session
  •       Video tutorials for making staples like bone broth, rendering their own solid cooking fat, and making their own kombucha
  •       Digital versions of every recipe and tutorial we cook together in the instructional videos

 

Right now Mickey is launching Session 1: The Basics with plans to launch five more sessions this summer. If you sign up and purchase the first session you will have the option to upgrade to the additional sessions as they come out.

This resource is truly a high quality program. The videos are professional, both in their quality and their presentation, and Mickey really gives you everything you need to master the art of batch cooking and regain your health as well as your life outside of the kitchen. This really is a must-have resource for anyone who is new to AIP or who isn’t batch cooking yet.

Because I think this program is so important for you all to try out I have a couple of promotions to help encourage you to check it out.

For the next two weeks, April 15, 2015-April 30, 2015 You will be able to purchase the program for $47 rather than the regular price of $67… $20 off is a pretty significant discount so, if you are budget conscious like me, jump on that.

On top of that discount I am also offering to email an additional FREE week-long meal plan to the first 20 people (EDIT* I currently have 5 meal plans left) who purchase the program off of this site. This offer is going to go quickly so click HERE to purchase the program and I will send you your meal plan via email within the next 24-48 hours.

Success on the autoimmune protocol really stems from two things committing to the lifestyle until it is routine and utilizing your resources. This resource really is one that is worth the money because it is truly an investment in your success.

aipbatchcookbanner

Has Contemporary Medicine Made Us Lazy?

Has Contemporary Medicine Made Us Lazy?

A 30 year old female who has been a vegetarian for over a decade complains of chronic fatigue and is put on a prescription sleep aid and antidepressants.

A 50 year old woman who is on the standard American diet is overweight and complains of joint pain, allergies, and skin irritation. She is put on steroids, allergy and asthma medication and pain relievers.

A 20 year old woman on a low fat, high cab diet complains of abdominal pain and chronic constipation and is given IBS medication and a laxative to take daily.

A 25 year old woman with a young child complains of extreme fatigue, weight gain, thinning hair, and anxiety and is put on antidepressants.

 

Do any of these examples remind you of someone you know?

Do any of these examples remind you of yourself? I mean they all sound pretty standard right? Normal health complaints, followed by a visit to the doctor, followed by a diagnosis, followed by a prescription… Copy, Paste, Repeat.

I am not against contemporary medicine. I take prescription medications for my own autoimmune diagnosis. Some medical complaints require a prescription. Things do happen and when they do we are thankful to live in a day and age where they can be resolved. The thing is though, that these “things”, these insurmountable health crises that require medication, do not happen as often as we would like to think. A cold is not a staph infection, seasonal allergies are not pneumonia, and fatigue is not a mood disorder. We know this and the doctors know this, yet many of us find ourselves and our loved ones having ailments that could easily be treated through lifestyle changes, being treated with medications meant for entirely different problems.

Now, this is the part where you think I am going to call out the doctors and say that is their fault for over prescribing medications when they should be helping their patients make more meaningful lifestyle changes… well keep reading, because that’s not where I am going with this.

Has Contemporary Medicine made Us Lazy?Yes, the doctors do a play a role in this current pill-popping climate, but really it is the roll of an exacerbated parent at 4pm who gives their child a cookie just to avoid another meltdown. They are responding to our demands after years of being worn down. The real issue lies in our human nature, our desire for a quick fix, or an easy way out. We would do just about anything to avoid looking in the mirror and making changes. We will spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary testing, we will accept diagnoses we will never be able to shake, we will sacrifice our quality of life for the side effects of medications without asking any questions.

We are lazy, we don’t want to give up any of the elements of the lifestyle that is making us sick, and contemporary medicine is our enabler.

Look, I get it, sacrificing your TV time to prioritize sleep is not fun, ordering a bun-less burger with a side of veggies when you could eat the stuffed crust pizza is annoying, and replacing your twice daily diet coke with some kombucha or herbal tea may take some getting used to.

Think about it though, having a heart attack is also not fun, watching your marriage deteriorate because the medication that was prescribed for your fatigue takes away your libido is more than annoying, and figuring out how to pay your mounting medical bills also takes some getting used to. The difference is, that making the lifestyle changes is an empowering choice that will enable you to live a full life on your own terms.

Accepting potentially unnecessary interventions from contemporary medicine enables you to be victimized, gives you an out from any personal liability, and creates a society of people who would fight the idea of making lifestyle changes, quite literally, to the death.

So I guess it just comes down to this, if you suffer from health concerns that stem from chronic inflammation, poor digestion, obesity, or other lifestyle factors, you need to ask yourself these questions: do you want to be empowered? Do you want to live life on your own terms? Do you want to be a healthy fully functional person? Or do you want to continue being lazy?

 

Click HERE for more information about my journey towards healing my chronic health problems or HERE for tips on getting started on a healthier path.

 

Cookie Dough Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

Cookie Dough Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

I spent three of my teenage years hard at work in an ice cream shop. Not just in the summer either, all year long. I scooped the ice cream, handled the birthday cakes, and loaded up the new inventory. It wasn’t long before I was nicknamed the ice cream girl by my small town and it wasn’t uncommon for me to be out and about and run into someone who would promptly squeal, “Hey look, it’s the ice cream girl!”

The ironic thing is that I actually do not have much of a sweet tooth. I suppose that is why I have been able to work in a chocolate store, an ice cream store and continue to bring you all yummy treat recipes without severely jeopardizing my own health. There are two exceptions to that generalization though, cinnamon rolls and cookie dough ice cream. I haven’t had a real cinnamon roll in years and I still find myself desperately craving them from time to time and I am really never tempted by ice cream… unless it contains cookie dough.

With warm weather quickly getting warmer here in the south I decided it was time to break out my ice cream maker and start experimenting with some yummy new AIP friendly flavors. This one hit the spot! The creamy coconut milk ice cream paired with frozen chunks of cookie dough was the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of warmer weather as we sat on our back porch following a delicious dinner of grass fed steak and veggies.

Also, if you find yourself in need of some more delicious AIP friendly frozen treat ideas I highly recommend this e-book. It came out last summer and I have been enjoying it ever since.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Cookie Dough Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

 

Cookie Dough Ice Cream (AIP/Paleo)

Cookie Dough Ice Cream InstagramCookie Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk
  • 4 TBS maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract (optional, Omit on Introductory AIP)

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl combine your coconut flour, coconut or palm shortening, maple syrup and salt. Then, sprinkle your gelatin on top and immediately follow with your water, mixing thoroughly. Add in your carob chips. Take the dough and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until it has firmed up slightly. Then, break it into small chunks or balls and place them back in the freezer to stay firm. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine your coconut milk, maple syrup and optional vanilla. If you are using an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and then add in the cookie dough chunks according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, combine your cookie dough chunks with your ice cream mixture and place in the freezer, stirring every 30 minutes to break up any chunks until it reaches your desired consistency.

Essential Oils for Stress Relief

Stress management and Essential Oils

As some of you may have seen, I have recently begun talking about my experiences using essential oils alongside the autoimmune protocol to help further reduce my exposure to environmental toxins and offer a little extra natural support in a variety of areas in my life. I have found essential oils to be extremely complimentary to the autoimmune protocol lifestyle when used safely and I really enjoy using them in my own life as well as sharing those experiences with others. (If you’re interested in learning more about how I use essential oils in general click HERE)

One of the areas of my life I have found essential oils to be most beneficial in is in my management of stress and anxiety. This is an area that I have always struggled with. I am not easily stressed out or overwhelmed, but as a result I have learned very few effective coping mechanisms for dealing with stress throughout my life. This has become a problem for me over the past few years as I have had to navigate a lot of stressful life situations that I didn’t do a great job of handling emotionally. This is significant because stress is toxic to the management of an autoimmune disease. It can more easily undo all of the progress you have made through diet changes than any other single food or ailment.

I have since learned a few coping techniques that work well for me during times of stress or anxiety, but sometimes I still have trouble calming down when I feel that the stress of a certain situation or anxiety over a problem has gotten on top of me. This is where my essential oils have come in handy.

Let me stop briefly here and remind you all that I am not a doctor or a medical professional and the account of my experiences here on this blog should not be used in place of the advice of medical professional. I do not suffer from depression or any diagnosed mood disorder so if you do I recommend talking to a medical professional above all else.

The brand of oils that I use personally and recommend to others is doTERRA. They are the first brand of high quality oils I tried and they have worked very effectively in my life. This is the sole reason that I recommend them to you. That being said the two primary oil blends I have used to help in my stress management are doTERRA’s Balance Blend and Serenity Blend.

Essential Oils and Stress Relief 2The Balance blend is made up of Spruce needle/leaf, Ho wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy Flower and Blue Chamomile Flower essential oils in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil and is used aromatically and topically to promote a sense of tranquility and balance. Now, you may be sitting there thinking that that sounds like a lot of hippie mumbo jumbo, because what does that even mean really, “promote a sense of balance”? Well, I get it, when I got my first bottle of this stuff I was skeptical and I figured it probably just smelled nice and that’s why people said it made them feel better. Until one day around the holidays when I was I the midst feeling overwhelmed and stressed about managing my life and my health, I took a few drops of the balance oil and applied it to my temples and within a few minutes felt significantly more calm and in control. It doesn’t make you carefree or crazy it just helps to relieve that tightness in my chest and that feeling like I am about to cry when I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Now, I often apply a few drops to my temples before bed to help my thoughts calm down before I go to sleep. I also diffuse it in my home anytime I have a large social gathering to help everyone feel more at ease. Balance is the oil use most often in my daily routine and it helps me manage my stress in a wonderful way.

Serenity is another mood blend by doTERRA and it is designed to promote relaxation and a sense of wellbeing. It is made up of a blend of Lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla and has a wonderful smell. I typically use this oil as part of my bedtime routine to help fight off any evening anxiety and promote restful sleep. I take an Epsom salt bath a few times a week and I put a few drops of this oil in my baths to help me get ready to sleep. If I am having trouble sleeping I apply a few drops to the bottoms of my feet and it is also a great blend to diffuse as you are sleeping as well. This ties into my stress management because bedtime is usually the time of day where my thoughts start to race and I become anxious. Using this calming blend really helps me stay relaxed and focused on sleep which, as we all know is vital to the management of an autoimmune disease.

The other wonderful thing I love about these blends is that they are both affordable so while I still only need a drop or two at a time I don’t feel guilty about using them often like I might with some pricier essential oils. (If you do not have a wholesale membership with doTERRA click HERE to enroll and purchase your oils at 20% off retail cost)

Stress management is hard for me, harder than eliminating certain foods, harder than not taking NSAID pain relievers and harder than avoiding chocolate and alcohol. It is still something that I am working on and learning about, but in the mean time utilizing these essential oils as tools in my toolbox of holistic living has been a wonderful experience and one that I wanted to share with you!

 

What are some ways you manage your stress on a regular basis?

AIP Easter Recipe Roundup

Easter Recipe Roundup

“The Lord is Risen” “He is Risen Indeed Hallelujah” 

This is how every Easter morning of my life has begun with the proclamation and joyous acknowledgement that we have been given the gift of salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. I have always loved Easter because the joy in the air over the celebration of Jesus rising from the and the arrival of spring was always palpable.

However, being the wife of a pastor, living away from my family our past few Easters have been significantly less celebratory. By the time we finished up the two or three church services, we promptly ams home and celebrated Easter by taking a nice long nap. This year, though, I am excited again because my entire family is coming to celebrate with us in our new home and at our new church! This will be my first time hosting a holiday meal and I am so excited to have my home be filled with family, food, and celebration!

Our menu is going to be baked ham, green beans (Not Elimination AIP), asparagus, deviled eggs (For the non AIP guests), AIP biscuits, Fruit Salad, and Carrot Cake Cupcakes.

To help you put together a meal fitting for such a fun day I have put together a little roundup of some delicious Easter friendly AIP dishes. There is no reason a lack of chocolate and eggs should put a damper on such a special holiday!

Appetizers and Drinks:

Sides:

 

Main Courses:

Desserts:

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes (AIP/Paleo)

 Mini Strawberry Shortcakes (AIP/Paleo)

“I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.” 

–Amy Adams as Julie Powell

This is one of my favorite cooking quotes because it encapsulates the exact way I feel about baking. Obviously, in my life, eggs and sugar and chocolate and milk are replaced by coconut, honey, and carob powder, but the sentiment is the same. When nothing is certain, when life is confusing or draining, I can walk into my kitchen and create something beautiful and satisfying and delicious, and honestly there is a little bit of magic in that.

When I first went paleo I legitimately went through a mourning period where I thought I would never be able to truly bake again. What I didn’t know was that, in the end, baking would come to mean more to me than it ever could have in my days of egg yolks, sugar and chocolate. Now, my treats symbolize true originality, they are a genuine outlet for creativity and they mean hope and happiness and magic for so many who fear that the joy of food has been lost in the battle for health and life.

I work hard to make my blog a comprehensive resource for those who have decided to follow the autoimmune protocol or paleo diets and that means demonstrating the proper place of treats in the diet as a whole. They are meant to be an occasional indulgence, enjoyed in moderation alongside nutrient dense foods. That being said, if you are like me and love to bake, then you know that sometimes creating a beautiful dessert is a healing salve for the soul and I believe that there is a real value there.

These little beauties make my heart sing because they are as delicate and beautiful as they are delicious and there isn’t a hint of deprivation or imitation to be found in their midst. They are a perfect treat for spring and summer and I hope that they bring joy to your kitchen and fun to the celebratory moments that await you in the warmer weather!

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes (AIP/Paleo)

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes (AIP/Paleo)

(Makes 10-12 mini shortcakes)

Ingredients:

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes (AIP/Paleo)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

Cream:

½ cup of palm shortening, slightly softened.

2 TBS coconut butter, melted

2 TBS coconut cream

2 TBS Maple syrup

1 tsp lemon zest

Top with Fresh Strawberries

 

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 until stiff peaks form. If you need the cream to thicken slightly place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Fill the indentation in the cooled shortbread cups with your cream, top with strawberries and enjoy. Store in the refrigerator.