You know the feeling when you crave a specific type of food? It’s all consuming, the feeling of “I gotta have it RIGHT now,” sorta thing swarms you and suddenly you’re possessed by only wanting that one food or flavor. This was me recently. Craving like a mad person some sort of spice, curry-like dish that reminds me of when I used to enjoy Indian, Thai and Moroccan flavors like nobodies business.
One of the key similarities in those foods is the spice, subtle in some cases but in most dishes it’s not. Unfortunately, I recently was accidentally exposed to nightshades while I was out of town, even after asking the waitress about what I was ordering. It was TERRIBLE, I became swollen and bloated instantly and my belly was NOT happy. Needless to say, I do not predict nightshades as a reintroduction any time in my foreseeable future. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t still have cravings for the darn things. I mean, I’ve always loved spices and exotic flavors. So now I just have to be super creative in fulfilling those cravings, because if you’re wanting something listen to your body. Right?
Let’s attack this head on. Inflammatory responses like the one I was having to nightshades happens a little like this; you eat something (nightshades for me) which your body views as a foreign invader, so your immune system is all pumped up like Sumo wrestler ready to attack pummel whatever is inside to harm you. Hence bloating, swelling, indigestion, the body is responding as it should to things that could cause potential harm, only in this case its hurting the body by causing chronic inflammation, arthritis and hosts of other symptoms depending on your autoimmune condition. Fight fire with fire. Okay not really, that always seemed like bad advice to me.
Instead, fight inflammation with turmeric. At least that’s my plan. Turmeric is FULL of health benefits, most importantly, anti-inflammatory properties making it hands-down one of, it not my favorite spice. I use it all the time, even if just a little bit, it somehow sneaks itself into just about everything I cook.
Pesto was my thing. Is my thing actually and there are five simple ingredients that make a true pesto; a nut (traditionally pine nuts, though my favorite is pecan), a cheese (traditionally Parmesan, though my choice would be Pecorino), basil, high quality olive oil and fresh garlic. After living in Italy I know how the Italians feel about tampering with traditions, especially recipes. While living there I searched high and low for the most authentic pesto and when I came home I aimed to recreate it.
When I say pesto is my I thing, I mean that I not only would enjoy eating gallons of it by the spoonful but I like to think I’ve also perfected the art of making it. My friends loved when I would make it, especially one who studied with me in Italy. She’d ask me to make if for her all the time when we were college roommates. NO joke, I went to visit her in Chicago last summer and what did she ask me to make? Pesto. I promise you this girl knows her own in the kitchen too and will throw down a Bolognese sauce from scratch like it’s no ones business. That’s her thing. She knows that pesto is mine and it’s a pretty darn good thing.
Here’s where we can all be SAD for a moment. Just ONE. I’ll let everyone (myself included) grieve the lack of the nuts in their current lifestyle, because if you’ve come this far with the autoimmune protocol it’s likely you grieved cheese long ago. So there, now that we’re past missing the lack of nuts here, we can move for me to tell you why this pesto is SUPER green, even tastier and better for you than my beloved original version.
Sticking to tradition (the Italian’s are clapping on this one) I use five main ingredients for this pesto and it can be made by anyone who has a blender. To get it “super green” I use greens of course, my favorite in particular being collard greens. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I love them so much I even created the hashtag #praisethecollards. This would be my recommendation for all of you who don’t enjoy eating greens whether boiled, sautéed, baked, or smothered in something else mildly appetizing. You don’t taste them here, it tastes like pesto yet you’re getting slammed with benefits of consuming fresh collard greens. Your body and your mouth will thank you.
Since this pesto doesn’t have the heavier nuts and cheese as traditional pesto’s do, it’s much lighter in texture making it the perfect component as a sauce with vegetable noodles. On a bed of turnip noodles (my favorite noodle lately) you get the added bonus of a complex carb with the nutrient density of a root vegetable. Turnips are high in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K which is an essential antioxidant which helps to fight inflammation in the body.
Red snapper is my fish of choice here. It’s extremely delicate and when cooked perfectly it flakes gently into bite size portions. I adore the combination of fish and pesto as the sauce adds a richness to an otherwise underwhelming fish flavor. As a total package this entire meal will fill you up without feeling weighed down like a wheat pasta with nuts and cheese.
Incorporating a good amount of fish into my diet has been a priority to balance my omega 6 and omega 3 intake. However, it’s also been challenging to incorporate a ton of fresh fish since it can be a bit more costly. I keep an eye out for good quality catches, that wont break the bank and can go along way. In this case it was red snapper, caught in the US and a little over a half a pound provides at least three meals for me at an affordable price. Plus red snapper has a ton of protein, essential vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids – WIN!
“Know your food, know your farmers, and know your kitchen.” – Joel Salatin
Most Saturday’s I walk over to the farmers market from my house, and even if I don’t buy anything I’m looking for conversation. The beauty of markets such as these lies in the construction of a community, it’s the weaving together of people from various backgrounds for one common goal; to sell their goods to people in the area because they believe in what they produce. Buying locally takes on a whole new meaning when we consider food quality and our health.
Months prior to moving to Florida my Grandma told me about a woman who sold eggs, chickens and lamb at the farmer’s market. Knowing my interest not only in health but in sustainability she pointed me in the right direction. When I first approached Amy’s tent I gazed at the pictures she had displayed on a tall makeshift wall of the fields, lambs, chickens, how their farm works and the beauty of the land is an after thought in these photos. On that same wall she has a picture comparing the yolk of a conventional egg (literally sad looking too) and one of the eggs from her hens. The bright orange inside outshines the other egg as it pales in comparison. I knew we would get along after seeing this picture as it indicated to me her value in quality.
It seems like in the last decade the term “Buy Local” has blown up on the internet, bumper stickers and paraded around on more and more USA main streets across the country. It’s like not-so-secret club that everyone is welcome to join and I promise you want to be IN this club. As we talk about getting to know your farmer and why it’s important to shop at farmers markets and local stores we have to address the benefits being so much more than simply knowing the location of where your food comes from. It’s an important factor for understanding not only what it takes to make your food to appreciate it’s cost and value of course, but going even deeper this is why knowing your farmer is important for your health.
Whether we’re talking about vegetables or livestock, knowing where your food is grown or raised plays an integral role in understanding how it works in your body too. If you know who is raising the chicken’s for the eggs you’re eating with your bacon for breakfast, you have the knowledge to understand precisely how those chickens roam, what they eat, and inadvertently what you’re eating. Say you have a corn allergy but you’re buying eggs from the grocery store that are “free range” or “fed a vegetarian diet” you won’t know for sure whether those hens are eating bugs or are supplemented with feed, most likely made of corn. By reaching out to a farmer, you get to bond with the person whose hands tend to the animals that sustain your own livelihood, this is an education.
The power of food as medicine is unbelievable, but it would be incomprehensible without power of education.
Spending time at a farm has it’s immediate health benefits aside from empowering your healthy choices. Over the weekend I spent part of the day out with Amy at her and her husband Jim’s farm, A3 Farms. About a week before she told me that all the baby lambs had dropped and immediately I knew I had to go pay a visit. It was my second time out to the farm, but this being the first chance I really got to have the full tour.
As we walked along the fence where all the mama sheep and baby lambs lay, a few of the lambs galloped towards us. These in particular were ones that were neglected by mother, they knew Amy now as their mother and she was coming with bottles to feed them.
I helped her feed the babies and as they searched for the bottle they’d crawl in between my legs, rubbing against them similar to the antics of a cat. This, I learned is something they would do to their mother in search of milk.
Being around animals is therapeutic in itself and I felt immensely grateful to be able to give them love and nourishment. Just by being around them, outside, exposing myself to new things and learning my mood was elevated. By doing this it perpetuated my gratitude for the reciprocity of the relationship. I know that at some point these animals will serve to nourish others and while the animal lover in me screams, THIS IS SAD but the reason in me whispers this is why we take care of the world in which we live, because relationships are intended to be mutually beneficial.
What happens is you begin to realize the impact you have with your consumption of food. It’s not a passive action, as in some ways it can appear by strolling through the grocery store buying products off the shelves (hopefully, not) or even with produce that is labeled organic yet you aren’t entirely sure what went into the soil. As you deepen your relationship with the person who cultivates the food you buy you’re able to find gratitude for food that you’re eating as you begin to understand that you’re not the only one that matters in the equation.
Getting to know your farmer gets you out of thinking “self” and into think “us all” as you consider the animals, the farmer, the community and economy. It’s like a Newton’s cradle, by pulling one side of the ball or more than one ball the kinetic energy has to pass through every ball in order to reach the other end. It’s this velocity which causes the opposite ball to begin moving, simultaneously igniting the back an forth motion as energy is transmitted in this pattern. Every ball is touched by the instigation of the initial energy and each plays a part in order for the them to continue in movement.
If we’re adamant about knowing where our food comes from we must actually seek it out so that our farmer’s can continue to grow organic vegetables and raise quality livestock. We have to step outside of how we currently understand food in this day and age, and instead into the root of the process to grasp our part in it all. I know, not everyone may have direct access to go out and spend a day at a farm, but nonetheless getting to know the farmer’s at your market will help you in facilitating a connection to deepen your relationship with what you’re feeding yourself.
Spending time with another living thing is about forming a relationship, time is money and if you’re asking me, time is the most valuable investment. When you give someone the opportunity to share their story with you, you’ve slipped a coin into the jukebox of their soul.
That day as I helped Amy bottle feed a few babies she explained their farming practice and the process she goes through every year during the spring. This year she had 52 babies, with one being still-born. Later in the spring she will go through the shearing process with the older sheep. In the summer she has a lot of work ahead of her as they will prepare to check all the lambs for worms and parasites, which she says can kill many of them if she doesn’t get them at the right time. As we talked I learned more about her passion for sustainability, knowing that she can provide for her family and friends no matter what happens is where she finds comfort and what made her fall in love with farming after years working in the corporate world. This type of security is invaluable to her. But, what I also learned is her dedication to food quality. We bonded over her reading the Primal Blueprint and when I shared about having an autoimmune disease and using food to restore my health she instantly opened up about her own journey learning to understand how food works in the body, and then wanted to know more about what I am studying. This moment was the beauty of vulnerability acting as the bridge to connection.
It’s from this conversation, the egg picture on her stand, and now having seen first hand, I know everything raised on their farm is given the utmost love and care. Her priority is quality. The beauty of knowing your farmer in this way is that there is no guessing. No wondering whether something is organic, or grass-fed, or raised in a cage. You’ve now armed yourself with another tool in your arsenal for combating health challenges, you can feel sure that your choices are solid.
Forming a personal relationship with a farmer and the animals they raise causes you to value their livelihood and appreciate the cost of what they produce. Through knowing the food you’re eating from them will nourish your health but affect many more than you. By knowing your farmer you’re giving back on a much larger scale, it’s an investment in “us all”.
Have any of you been out to visit farms, gotten to know your farmers? Share your experience in the comments below!
The transition from winter into spring is here and we’re all anxious to celebrate! I think hunkering down with one last crazy cozy meal is just the way!
I spent my weekend with a trip to the farmer’s market, some time in the sunshine but also a lot of time indoors, hunkering down working on projects and things I needed to get done. This meal was an easy one pan throw together that I knew would last me several meals. It’s warm spices take this comfort food to the next level, but truly the mash takes it over the top.
Meat pies originated during the Middle Ages in England, Ireland and Scotland and it’s suspected that many peasant women would have come up with the idea by wanting to use up any leftover meat. Traditionally they would have used pastry dough to top the pies and it wasn’t until later when potatoes were discovered in the new worlds that the cottage and shepherd’s pies became a popular. Little did they know then what a staple potatoes would be to their country’s cuisine.
With the autoimmune protocol, potatoes are on the NO list because they are in the nightshade family along with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. These vegetables are known to disturb the gut lining and can often aggravate people with autoimmune conditions, causing flares and food intolerance. In fact it’s only recently that potatoes have been welcomed back into the Paleo and Whole30 sphere overall as a safe starch. Even though the mash on top of this shepherd’s pie is not potatoes, you won’t be disappointed.
Last week I had the privilege of participating in an online chat discussing living with arthritis with Emma from The Bacon Mum, Erin from Enjoying this Journey and Kat of The Primordial Table. Thanks to A Clean Plate the Autoimmune Connection is a web series that discussing all things related to autoimmunity. It serves as a way to bring together various bloggers, health and wellness experts to discuss autoimmunity, the autoimmune protocol and act as a resource to those dealing with different challenges throughout their journeys.
We talked about our personal experiences with each of our types of arthritis, Rheumatoid, Psoriatic and Anklyosing Spondylitis. Arthritis affects us all very differently, yet so similar too. We discussed each of our own trials with reintroduction during the autoimmune protocol, along with what has worked in our lifestyle habits and what hasn’t. Not only were we able to talk about how to use food as medicine, but we all also shared how arthritis is so much more than just manifested in the physical body. We also talked about how we keep mobile and why it is so important as persons with arthritis to focus on our mobility and range of motion.
I couldn’t have been more excited to participate in this great discussion with wonderful company. These ladies have seriously so much to learn from and I was honored to chat with them! Check it out and make sure to subscribe to A Clean Plate to get all the latest videos from the Autoimmune Connection. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know if you watched!
I hope to explain a bit about acupuncture for you all and the benefits of acupuncture for autoimmune diseases as many of you have been curious of my ongoing treatment. Understand that I am not an expert on this and I do not have all the answers, but I present to you my understanding, research, along with my personal experience.
A major component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is qi, pronounced as “chee”, sometimes it is spelled as chi. Qi is vital in all things and has aspects of matter and energy. The qi in the body represents and measures the vitality of a person. There can be qi in foods as well, though that may be a topic for a different discussion. In the words of Paul Pitchford, “From a therapeutic standpoint, there are several functional aspects of qi. It is warming and is the source of all movement; it protects the body, flows through the acupuncture channels and maintains the activity of the body systems and organs. Sources of qi in the body are three-fold 1) from food; 2) from the air we breathe and 3) from the essence of the kidneys, some part of which we are born with.” Qi simply put and the way I understand it is the energy that moves within you, keeps your organs and systems moving and working together. How well we use qi depends on how we live our lives, what food we eat, our attitudes, mental state, relationships with people, and experiences.
To better understand how it all works, we must also understand yin and yang. Everything can be described in terms of yin-yang principles. It is rare for someone to be defined as only yin or only yang since they work in congruence together and when health is attained they are in balance. With autoimmune diseases in particular we know that there is an imbalance in the body simply because the immune system cannot recognize self from non-self invasive cells. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help to restore the body to homeostasis aka balance in the body.
Yang is associated with active, masculine, outside mind, light, time, heat, energy of the body, function to name a few. Yin on the other hand is passive, Earth, substance, inside, body, feminine, dark, cold, blood, to identify a few. Everything is whole in nature, and it’s the balance of yin and yang that makes them so, as one cannot exist without the other. Since this is all a bit complicated to understand, and I am deep in the learning process this video explains it visually, which helps for my learning style.
Acupuncture works to stimulate the blood flow, which helps to stimulate the body’s capability to heal. Acupuncture practitioners can use pulse diagnosis tests to identify different areas of the body that need work, certain pulse reads can indicate the areas of imbalance. A person can be too yin, or too yang in certain areas, the goal is to activate the qi to return the energy to a whole balanced state. It helps to activate the stagnant areas of the body to move and/or release the qi to get the body systems and organs working together in balance.
Acupuncture is a very personal and intimate experience but there is no doubt that it helps with anxiety, depression, chronic pain and disease management. Chris Kresser explains perfectly HERE just how acupuncture works to alleviate pain.
“Genetically the body is not designed to be in chronic pain. It will do everything it can to get us out of pain. Acupuncture “reminds” the body how it should be functioning, and helps its powerful inbuilt pain relieving mechanisms kick into gear. It’s a bit like jump-starting a car. You’re not changing how the car works, or even adding anything to the engine. You’re just giving the battery a little jolt so the car can run how it’s supposed to.”
My First Acupuncture Treatment
I was nervous the day of my first acupuncture treatment a back in November though, I’m not afraid of needles. I’ve spent the last nine years of my life getting stuck for blood drawings, infusions, and self-injecting medications. Needles were not my issue. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect and most often, the unknown causes anxiety. What happens to your body when the needles go in? I knew the science of it, but I didn’t know how it would pertain to me as an individual.
Going into my initial session I had no idea how I was going to react. As I talked with my acupuncturist we addressed the main issues I wanted to focus on treating, my arthritis (Ankylosing Spondylitis) you can read how that affects me here, leaky gut and digestive issues, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and amenorrhea. I was feeling like I had no energy for life. The day to day was draining me and I had no space for anything extra. Fortunately she is extremely sensitive, detailed and thoroughly discussed how each of these problems made me feel. I instantly felt a connection with her and it put me at ease. It was as if I had known her for a long time, I was only returning to see and be comforted by an old friend.
Her explanation of how my treatments would work helped me to understand more of the process of acupuncture. While I hadn’t yet committed to a full treatment plan I was seeing her for the first session to gauge whether it was something I really wanted to do for a longer term. She explained that during the first few sessions we’d be working towards getting the stuck and negative energy currently inside of me out, so that my qi can move properly throughout my body.
With hypothyroidism a major symptom is sensitivity to cold and coldness of the extremities. Most often my hands and feet are icy cold even if the rest of my body is warm even if I am covered up with blankets. I understand now there isn’t enough qi in my body to reach my extremities and warm up all parts of my body, the energy I do have is working overtime to take care of other things. Simply staying warm is a task and for the qi to reach the ends of my body is low on priority right now. She explained that the first few sessions she would leave the needles in my body on the pressure points for a longer period of time. Depending on the treatment the needles can stay in, or simply go in and come right back out.
The first day I saw her I was having terrible digestive upset, I was eating nutrient dense foods, doing yoga and all the “right ” things, but still my stomach and intestines were in knots. When we began treatment she started in my abdomen by placing needles in the lower two sides near my hips, one at the bottom of my sternum and another at the crown of my head. She told me to just relax for 15 minutes and covered me up with the blankets in order to keep me warm (remember extremities). What felt like a half an hour passed and my anxiety began to stir.
“ I am having a really hard time just laying here, being here with myself,” I didn’t even realize what I was saying but it all began pouring out of me as if these were words I had spoken at another time. I then said, “ I’m feeling like I do when I have my regular MRI’s to check my spine for bone fusion,” and at this point the tears began to roll away from my eyes. She asked what that feeling was like and began to release the blankets from each of my sides. The tears continued to stream steadily and while I was not hysterical, everything inside of me was screaming, “Get up, get out, move you have to MOVE!”
“It’s really hard being trapped, in there, not being able to move,” I said to her as she laid a tissue by my hand. “It’s really scary not being able to move,” I repeated and she replied “Have you experienced that feeling at other times?” BOOM! “Yes,” I said muddled with tears. Instantly I was 15 again unable to walk, my fingers curling into my hands, unable grip, students laughed and whispering behind my back, completely out of control and trapped in my own body unable to move. During those times I felt like a hostage inside my own body.
“It’s terrifying to not be able to move,” I told her, “it’s my biggest fear of all.”
It’s the most powerful and emotionally draining experience I’ve ever had, but my digestive upset was completely alleviated. It felt as though I was on the table and talking with her for over an hour and I wondered how I had been there so long, but it was only 15 minutes. In confusion and disillusion I left, exhausted. My body had done so much work and energy had shifted so much by the time I made it home that afternoon I crashed.
The important thing for you to know is that this doesn’t always happen to people. This is not necessarily the norm. From my understanding people can have extremely emotional releases during acupuncture but more often than not they don’t. This was simply my experience, my body has so much depleted qi because of all of these issues, arthritis, hypothyroid, potential parasite, adrenal fatigue, lack of blood, let alone the day to day activities and showing up in the world, emotional stress and past experiences buried deep inside of me. This may be the case for you too, but it’s completely individual. And I should mention that this strong of an emotional release has not happened since, there have been other things, but not like this.
I felt so light after. Regardless of the extreme fatigue, I felt a weight lifted off as me as if I had been keeping someone’s secret and just got to vent with my best friend. However, the fear of not being able to move is not something I even knew I had. I have never given a thought to it consciously before. Sure, the prognosis for my disease is spinal fusion and being wheelchair-bound, but what caused that fear was having experienced immobility and that experience along with the emotions attached to it have been stored in my body ever since. I just never realized it consumed me. Yet it’s an epiphany for me, I have this new understanding of myself, of why I enjoy movement through yoga, why traveling and physically relocating makes me feel alive. It’s the freedom of moving that I love, and the loss of that which terrifies me in every aspect. I understand deeply my motivation for everything I do, the way I live life, the way I eat, the way I treat people, how I care in my relationships it truly comes back to a determination to always be mobile.
I instantly knew after this session that I needed to commit to further to a treatment plan. What I learned of myself in one single appointment was revolutionary and now what I have learned after a consistent two months of treatment is invaluable. Dr. Perlmutter a neurologist and author of the popular book Grain Brain put my perspective into words perfectly,
Acupuncture has given me more insight into the why’s of my health challenges more than any other form of treatment I’ve sought out before.
I am still deep in this journey and I want to provide you with the best information to make an informed decision as to whether acupuncture is a treatment you wish to pursue. Since it varies to every individual experience I want you all to know how much it has truly affected me, and though I do recommend it, I also encourage doing thorough research, looking into your acupuncture’s credentials and mostly trusting your intuition with your decision as that is what led me to mine. In my next post on acupuncture I will discuss where I am now after two months of continual treatment and some more of what I have learned along the way about autoimmunity, vitality and myself.
When my mom and step-dad got married I remember as a nine-year old being sad that they were going to leave my sister and I for entire week while on their honeymoon. I found it quite rude that we weren’t invited. At the time we lived in Belgium, they were off to honeymoon in Spain and my great Aunt was in town from York, England with her friend to take care of us. The morning after the wedding I begrudgingly came down the stairs knowing full well that my parents were now gone and unsure of what the week would be like without them.
As I rounded the corner from the stairs into the kitchen, butter, bacon and honey wafted up in the air. My Aunt and her friend were busy making a true English breakfast for us. The skillet on the stove top was sizzling with Canadian bacon and as I peered into the dining area from the kitchen my little eyes widened with glee. A true English tea! Teapots and cups cluttered the table with a basket of scones, cream, butter, and sugar. That morning I had my first, of many to come, English breakfast. Since then I have had a fond adoration of scones.
Since changing my lifestyle, especially by removing gluten I have not had a single scone, or anything reminiscent of one. I never thought I would to be honest, it’s not exactly one of those high priority foods that you budget for. Instead it is most definitely a treat, just like that first English breakfast was for me. So for this reason when I decided to experiment with tiger nut flour I knew that I could recreate something reminiscent. Scones traditionally have a light and airy texture but they crumble and flake more than a biscuit. Scones can be sweet or savory since the batter is versatile.
But let me back up a minute here and share a bit about tiger nuts! Oh and make sure to read through so not to miss the awesome giveaway hosted by Organic Gemini !!
You may be wondering, what are tiger nuts? Well, like I said they are not a nut at all. Rather they are tiny little tubers packed with prebiotic fiber and loads of nutrients. Prebiotic fiber cannot be digested in the human body so it pass through our colon, however, the good bacteria there love these guys and it helps them grow into healthy buggers! One serving of tiger nuts has as much iron as red meat and as much potassium as coconut water!
The actual tiger nut itself is hard and chewy but rather sweet. It’s important to have the shell on the outside in order to get the resistant starch benefit since most of it is located here.This ancient food originates from Northern Africa and the Mediterranean and it’s high in fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamins E & C.
You can make Horchata with the small tubers or use them as a cereal alternative. The flour, is made from the dehydrated sundried tubers and ground finely into powder. What is so incredible about this flour is that it allows you to bake sweet treats without any added sweetener whatsoever. It is not super sweet but certainly enough to please the palate of someone who is used to hardly any natural sweeteners at all. So this is a great option for people trying to keep their sugars low.
When I began researching tiger nuts months ago I was increasingly fascinated by their super food like powers. Our Paleo ancestors would have lived off of these little tubers providing them with the energy and healthy growth of probiotics in their guts that aid in healthy immune systems and the digestion of other foods. There is so much fiber and beneficial resistant starch in tiger nuts it’s practically why they have blown up the internet in the past few months as people start to discover their beneficial properties for increasing good gut bacteria. This being said, if you’re just beginning to restore your gut health it would probably best to monitor your intake and increase gradually so you’re not shocking your system with too much fiber all at once. This is why I love the flour though, similar to actual nut flours it is easier to digest and absorb since it has been so finely ground.
I found Organic Gemini truly by happenstance as I engulfed myself in tiger nut research. When I found their products and was in awe of all the different uses they had for them as well as their extensive research on the tuber itself. All of that was great, but truthfully what hooked me the most was George and Mariam’s story. Mariam was going through a health crisis and an incredibly scary time in her life, and like many of us turned to a whole foods based diet to take matters into her own hands. At the start of her journey she thought because of what she was going through it would prevent her form being able to have children. She went a step further in her Paleo lifestyle when she came across the tiger nut, she studied it and began incorporating them into her diet. Long story short, she was able to not only regain her health but has since had a child! Simply incredible!
Since it’s not a true nut flour, but rather a starch I figured it would be perfect to manipulate without the use of eggs. I was right. The tiger nut flour is super fine, which gives them the crumbly but moist texture. They are a bit more dense than traditional drop scones because of the amount of starch in but my are they satisfying! Combined with subtle flavors of lavender, cinnamon and vanilla they are comforting and pair perfectly with tea. My favorite of course being dandelion root to which I’ve added lemon and mint to give a little zing!
Okay, so I know you’re DYING to make these and for that reason Organic Gemini has offered to host a GIVEAWAY a package of TigerNuts and TigerNut Flour! THREE winners will be selected!! You must be of U.S. residency only (sorry!) to enter. Okay ready set GO!
1/2 cup organic palm shortening (I use Spectrum brand)
APPLE PUREE (can be made a day or more in advance)
1. Peel and cube the apples.
2. Place in sauce pot on medium and add water and apple cider vinegar. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then turn down to simmer for another 15 minutes until completely soft.
3. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Save for scones.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add cinnamon, vanilla and salt to the apple puree and combine. Then add the melted coconut oil until incorporated.
3. Sift in coconut flour, tiger nut flour, arrowroot flour and add the lavender. Begin mixing until the dough forms, it may appear lumpy but that’s okay.
4. Now add in the palm shortening in separated bits (as if you were cutting in butter) and add the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Begin mixing well until there are minimal white flakes and the dough begins to come together.
5. Form dough into a ball, if it feels slightly wet place it in the freezer for 3 minutes. Then remove it and roll out the dough to 1 1/2 inches thick. (use more arrowroot powder if dough tries to stick during this process). Cut into 6 scones using a biscuit cutter or shape with your hands. Alternatively you can form into a circular dome about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into triangles.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place them on the sheet. Place them into the oven and cook for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway above for your chance to snag some TigerNuts!
Disclaimer: This giveaway is hosted by Organic Gemini and Whole Life, Full Soul. I in no way have been or will be compensated for any purchases of their products. This giveaway is strictly an opportunity to share with you an awesome new food!
My sister who’s three years older than me, four years by grade, my other half, my role model, and my go-to-guru for all things in life is getting married in 7 weeks. I can’t believe how quickly time has moved and now upon us are all the fun events and special memories leading up to her and her fiance’s big day.
As my older sister, she has always guided me through life by showing me both what to do, and how to do it, and in other parts what not to do and why. It’s hard to explain the bond between sisters if you’ve never experienced it. It’s basically as if you’ve been given a life partner who understands you in the most complex ways that no one ever will because at some point they’ve seen you at your worst, in moments exposed and raw but they continue to see you always as your best self. I believe that’s why they call the love unconditional. My sister and I, having always been close have only grown over the years to appreciate each other even more than we did as kids (now that we’ve officially gotten over whether we can share clothes or not!). She’s the one person I’ve always been able to confide in while simultaneously supporting me in every single choice I’ve made, both good and bad she’s there for me.
Now, as the Maid of Honor during a time in her life where she needs me most fills me with so much happiness. For one, I get to watch my sister blossom and move forward into a part of her life that brings nothing but joy to her and so many people around us. I also get to design all of her wedding materials invites, place cards, and small details which is an awesome creative outlet for me. Secretly, I am even more excited to watch as all her dreams unfold. It’s a pretty radical thing to watch someone get what they’ve always dreamed of having and I gladly watch it play out this way for her.
Do many of you watch the show Downton Abbey? Well, it happens to be my sister’s most favorite show. So when it came to deciding how to theme her bridal shower, high tea only seemed fitting. The way I was able to make the theme shine the most was through the serving pieces I chose and in fact I used no other decorations than serving pieces, lace and flowers. Keeping it super simple was the key to having this be a success. Between thrifting (a favorite activity of mine) and enlisting the help of my Grandma to gather pieces from both of my great Grandmother’s and great great Grandmother I was able to cultivate the mood. The small details of an event truly are what make it special. Well, that and the food ;)
Planning events when you feel restricted by the type of food you normally eat on a daily basis compared to all that you should have to feed people can be difficult. The best solution to this in my opinion is to have a mix. Not everyone will like certain things, and in fact it can also be heard to please everyone. A few pieces of advice are to always have a clean protein and vegetable so you know there is something there for you to eat, these specifically would be your AIP friendly foods. Granted these things are not always about YOU or me in this case as it was most certainly about my sister. However, my sister is a huge supporter of my lifestyle having gone Paleo herself about three years ago. She’s the first person to be understanding of my preferences so keeping her in mind was a huge factor in planning the menu. For starters, she loves oranges – so much so that the theme of their wedding is evergreen and orange blossoms. I know, I know it will be a pretty magical scene! So with that in mind, I knew I wanted to have different orange based dishes!
My sister very rarely eats red meat so I made my Orange Tarragon Lamb Meatballs with turkey instead and added an orange honey sauce to go with them. There were hardly any of these left at the end!
To keep it simple I also created a “dried fruit bar” of figs, apricots and cranberries. These are some of my favorite, but they also paired perfectly with the Downton theme.
For a simple salad I kept it Paleo by using fresh spinach and red leaf lettuce, plums, red onion and walnuts (omit nuts for full compliant AIP). For the dressing I simply blended three fresh plums, apple cider vinegar, salt and garlic together until creamy. This was by far the easiest thing to make and so many people commented on how delicious the dressing was, seriously WAY better than anything you could get at the store.
Thankfully, I did NOT make all this food alone, nor take on the endeavor of executing this shindig without the help of some of my sister’s closest friends. Some of our other menu items were Paleo Gingerbread Scones, Paleo Deviled Eggs and Bacon Wrapped Dates. I could live on this menu – it’s that good. We felt since not everyone removes gluten from their life that we wanted to have some other food options as well, so we had Cranberry Orange Scones and Pimento Cheese sandwiches. FUNNY thing is, hardly anyone ate these! I would say I am surprised by this, ONLY because having personal knowledge of the amazing lady who made these baked goods I full well know even without having tried them that they were supremely delicious! On the other hand I am not surprised, it goes to show you that when given the option people really would rather choose the healthiest thing for them in order to feel their best! Plus, the rest of our spread was nothing to shake a stick at!
Between meatballs, bacon dates, scones, tea, coffee, and three types of mimosas we were able to create the mood we wanted. With little details like lace and name cards to choose your “title” for the day (Lady, Duchess, Countess or Princess) the event was beautiful and my sister was radiant. The people that gathered around her all showed their love and support in the most beautiful of ways and I am so grateful to all of them for making her day truly special.
Being a firm believer in all things CAKE, especially for special events I had intentions on baking a cake for the bridal shower, but I haven’t made a cake in AGES. For starters, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts I am the world’s WORST baker, like ever. But I try and if there’s one thing I think you have to be as a bad baker, it’s determined enough to keep trying to bake!
This is why I adore the rustic look. I love the way it looks unimposing and as if it was just thrown together, which in my case it partially was!
I used the lovely Kate of Healing Family Eats recipe for her AIP Cake only I made five thinner layers in larger pans and doubled the frosting and I used Brittany Angell’s recipe for candied oranges from her new book for the elegant topping. What I loved most about this cake was the intense honey flavor, which is credited to the great quality local honey I used. So if you make it, make sure your honey is something you love. When I first made the layers they were beautiful! After storing them separately and having transport them though and letting them come up to room temperature they were delicate to handle since they were significantly thinner than her actual recipe.
The great thing though, is it didn’t need to be perfect. It looked just as it was supposed to, and even better, EVERYONE loved it. I’m not over exaggerating when I say not only did everyone have a piece, but so many people shared how amazing it tasted, so similar to actual cake they would never have known how it was made unless I told them! Best of all, my sister loved it and several people who, like us, have not had any form of cake in a long long time were delighted by the chance to share a slice to celebrate my sister.
In the end that’s what it’s really about. This is why food matters so much in cultures because it’s a symbol of sharing the labor of our work with people we love in order to celebrate being together. It makes my heart warm to know my sister was able to spend time with the people she loves and we all were able to share in the joy of her special time with food for everyone, and a little cake too ;)
I am of the belief there’s nothing that cannot be combined, piled and squished into an acorn squash. Am I right? First of all, they are so darned cute! These petite squash have a ribbed silhouette that makes them a beautiful display. Serving them cut in half as a single portion is a great way to create what seems like a fancy meal, but takes little time and very few ingredients. If you make these and decide to keep them for meals throughout the week, they are perfectly portioned. Sometimes I can hardly finish a half of one of these lamb and beet greens stuffed acorn squash because while seemingly small, they are incredibly filling. Hence, being stuffed… bad joke?
When I cook, I enjoy combining produce that I haven’t tried together before. Whenever you’re trying to come up with a recipe to stuff into a squash there are a few good staples to think about; have a variety of green, a type of meat, something for change in texture like a crunch, and something to give it a creamy consistency. What I do for the last one may surprise you. Essentially, to make the crevice for the stuffing larger, I scoop out a bit of the squash after it’s cooked and stir it into the filling, it results in a luxurious texture that also acts as a binder for the stuffing.
One of my favorite winter greens, aside from my first love, collards, are beet greens. They are light yet filling when cooked with their stems. They give off a slight earthy beet flavor without being over powering, whereas the delicate greens are reminiscent of spinach. The combination of the greens and the stems were perfect as it takes care of two stuffing needs, a green and a crunch. Not to mention, the color adds to the appeal of these cute stuffed squashes.
When trying to decide a meat for my stuffing, I really wanted to have a lot of flavor. This is why I chose to use lamb, because it has a unique flavor on it’s own that I knew would contribute nicely to the other components and especially contrast the sweetness of the acorn squash. However, any type of ground meat would be great, you can certainly substitute ground beef or even turkey in place of the lamb.
Through the cooking process with these squash, the result is an extremely tender and soft flesh, not mushy as they can become after cooking for too long. They have to be able to hold up to the stuffing, and in this case they do wonderfully. I thoroughly enjoyed these and since they are a cinch to make they work perfect for me to batch cook and have throughout the week. Also, if you make extra of the stuffing, it’s great on salads, in stir-fries or in scrambled eggs if you’re able to tolerate! So stuff yourselves silly!
LAMB & BEET GREENS STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
1 lb ground lamb
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme
Olive oil for drizzling
4 cups beet greens (including the stems)
4 large cloves garlic minced 1 medium onion diced finely
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 tsp salt
1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
2. Rinse and clean acorn squash. Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Cover baking sheet in parchment paper. Olive oil each half squash lightly and place open face down in the oven for 30 min.
3. Meanwhile dice the onion until finely chopped. Heat skillet to medium and being cooking the onions in the oil until translucent. Add garlic minced and stir to combine.
4.Then add the ground lamb and all spices begin incorporating and browning the meat slightly.
5.Once browned add in the beet greens and stems and combine until well incorporated but not fully cooked.
6. Once the squash is done pull out of the oven and wait for it to cool. Once cool enough to handle gently scrape out a little of the squash from each hole, deepening the hole but not widening it. Roughly 1/2 cup of the squash should come out in total between the four. You’ll notice that towards the bottom it is not fully tender and you want it to be this way.
7. Then use the extra squash by mixing it into the stuffing to have a creamy effect. Once combined, stuff each squash amply and put back in the oven face up for 20 more minutes. Serve and devour.
Lately, it’s been difficult for me to clear my mind, to get past the daily thoughts I have, put away the day’s work and fall asleep. Most of the time it happens at night, when I am trying to wind down and when I’m not overcome with things to keep me busy. When I just have to be… still with myself.
Have I accomplished everything today? No. Did I finish all that I wanted to today? Sometimes. Am I making progress? NO (though truthfully I am). It seemed like these past few weeks have been full of negativity surrounding where I am in life, what I am doing, and how I am feeling (these problems I am creating for myself). If you’ve been reading my blog or following on Instagram for a while you’ll know that I am in the process of intensive acupuncture treatment. It’s been amazing, and I can tell that it’s helping immensely, but while healing sounds like a soothing experience it’s not always candlelight and good vibes. It’s dark, often lonely and in fact, quite literally pain. Healing means getting to the root of the shit, and letting it flood out of you. It’s getting the pain out from deep within, acknowledging that it’s there, thanking it for the lessons, and then letting it go, and frankly it’s not easy.
When I lay down to sleep at night I think of all the things that are wrong. I try desperately to grasp and cling to what I am grateful for and the blessings that I have. But gremlins are ninjas at night and they come out to tell me I am unworthy, I am not enough, healing is hopeless, this is too hard, I should probably give up now…
I can’t tell you that recently someone close to me died, or that a loved one is deathly ill or my dog died, or I got dumped. Though I have all those pains, all the hurt that has accumulated over time manifesting in physical ailments in my body. Some which have scathed my heart, are buried so deep I didn’t even know they were still there. And the gremlins tell me, “You wanted this.” The letting out of feelings, the revisiting the traumas, the problems, moments in my life where I felt, was told, was shown, you are not enough, you are not worthy.
“Pain doesn’t just show up in our lives for no reason. It’s a sign that something in our lives needs to change.” A quote I came across recently that resonated deeply.
I have had no “real reason” to break down this week, but I did. My sensitivity was hyper and the smallest mistake made me feel as though the world was caving in. This type of desperation, where you feel utterly depleted when there’s no more feelings to feel or tears to cry and you just want to not to care anymore.
Why is this so hard? Like at 16 and ending my two-year long verbally abusive relationship, breaking something that was never truly whole shattered me into blemished fragments. Panic attacks ensued and I had no understanding of how to cope with the fractured feelings. The six years after where our relationship went back and forth in a toxic circle with undefined expectations, and the pieces of that girl are still floating somewhere, and the pain of losing him and myself along with it left a tinge on my soul that’s yet to be fully repaired. I feel this again as I’ve avoided relationships for years as a coping mechanism to our yo-yo routine and I seem called to open heart again but I feel my resistance. But I also feel my dog dying, and my parent’s fighting, and divorce and my step-mother’s death and my best friend’s broken heart and so much aching in my core, that any physical comparison has no true measurement. Because how do you weigh all that pain comparatively when you’ve also felt what it’s like to not be able to move your hands, or legs? And then, how do you process it ?
My response has been to cry. To just break down and let it rush out of me. It’s not really that I am thinking about a specific past event, but something in a moment will trigger memories and I become overwhelmed by them, resulting in one avenue of release. Where as before, they would have gotten tucked away neatly and probably covered up by devouring some carb laden foods later.
I realize that yes, I want this. I want it OUT, I want to purify the pain. If I can identify, I feel then I can deal with it, then I can let it go. But it’s the letting go that’s hard for us all right? Who am I without this pain? Who am I without arthritis? Who am I without being abused? Who are you without (insert problem/situation here). I am Kari, but this pain, you see, it’s beauty and this healing with pain is a part of that process. I can create light because of these etched parts of my soul. The brief moments where despite being degraded by words, I continued to give my of love and if that’s one thing I can say I have done, then let that pain be.
I believe there’s an epidemic in our culture where we’re taught to cover up our pain, hide our true feelings, and carry on with life. I learned this early, but every day when you’re able to break open your sheltered heart a little more and expose yourself to the world, that is healing. Healing is not glamorous. It’s digging up the deepest fibers of your vulnerable pain, dissecting it, facing them, coddling yourself for a while and telling yourself that it’s okay to let it go. We must move on without that pain as a definition of who we are and instead view it simply as a hand in the molding of our beings.
It’s not easy to be grateful for the pain that’s changed you, that’s forced you put the shattered pieces of your heart back together. This is a healing battle within yourself for space in your soul to bring in joy. Let it go. The deepest pain and the scariest thoughts, let them go. Cry the tears you couldn’t cry before when you held it in and give them back to the Universe in a letting out of love.
So I don’t’ have a reason to cry today. Nothing bad has happened and I am safe. But when I look in the mirror I have to tell her, “you are enough, you are worthy, you are radiant love” and it’s because of moving through the pain that’s injured me I can appreciate who I am beneath it all.
On Pain by Khalil Gibran
Yourpain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.