Monday, December 15, 2014

AIP Holiday Baked Goods Recipe Roundup

AIP Holiday Baked Goods Recipe Roundup
With just 10 days before the big holiday, it’s definitely officially Christmastime. There’s the décor and carols and parties aplenty. On the Gulf Coast, I’m back and forth between flip flops and boots, coats and short sleeves, but most of the rest of the country is warming themselves by the fireplace or under a pretty blanket of snow. Christmastime means something different for everyone. We all have our little traditions that help get us in the spirit of the holiday. Growing up, my favorite tradition was the day each year that my mom and I spent together in the kitchen baking batches and batches of baked goods like cookies and breads and dessert bars to share with family, friends, and neighbors. We’d make all kinds and divvy them all up into a mixed assortment to give away.

Pre-Paleo, baking was one of my favorite pastimes. I loved the routine and ritual of baking something from scratch from start to finish. After I started Paleo, baking became less and less of a priority because I didn’t enjoy almond flour concoctions. At that time, it was pretty much almond flour or nothing. I switched to using white rice flour for some goods, but the more and more research I did, the more I felt that desserts weren’t really “Paleo” even if the ingredients were. So I slowly transitioned to not eating many desserts at all. And that’s where I stand, especially now as someone who is trying to closely follow the Autoimmune Protocol.

My stance is that baked desserts aren’t AIP. Now bear with me and hear me out. The idea of the Autoimmune Protocol is to eat nutrient dense foods that heal our bodies and provide us with the most nourishment we can get. All the baked goods might taste delicious, and they might have safe ingredients, but they are almost never nutrient dense and usually have high quantities of ingredients that we should be consuming in moderation, like coconut flour or sugars. So if you ask me if that dessert is AIP? I’m going to say, “No, it’s not.”

But. There’s always a “but”. The desserts might not be AIP, but I do think they are “AIP-friendly”. That’s not an official term, but you’ll see it often on my blog. What does that mean? While the idea behind desserts and baked goods may not completely jive with all the essentials of AIP, if all the ingredients are approved on the protocol, then I feel this makes them “AIP-friendly.” And I firmly believe that AIP-friendly baked goods and desserts have a place in the Autoimmune Paleo lifestyle or any other healing diet.

Because AIP isn’t just about the food. AIP is about learning our bodies, and learning to cut back on stress and enjoy life so that we can nourish our souls too.  Now I’m not arguing in favor of binge-eating or emotional eating, but we get cravings for comfort foods, and they are called “comfort foods” for a reason. Mark Sisson has a great article about Why We Crave Comfort Foods, where he addresses the psychological aspect of eating certain foods, and why it’s not always that bad to cave and enjoy them in moderation.

AIP treats allow us to do just that, and to do that without completely derailing our healing efforts. AIP can be extremely difficult, because this isn’t a diet where 80/20 or cheat days are feasible. You’re either all in or you’re dealing with serious setbacks every time you consume a damaging food. And that’s why I’m glad for the other bloggers who create these fabulous treats for us. I may not be much of a baker myself any more, but any dessert or treat that allows us to “splurge” or enjoy ourselves and stay compliant to the Autoimmune Protocol at the same time is something that I can truly appreciate.

So this year for Christmas, I’m not going to spend the day baking batches and batches of desserts and confections to share. I’ve decided to round up the best AIP Holiday Baked Goods to share with all of you instead. Merry Christmas!

*Special thanks to all the bloggers of the AIP community that take so much time developing these recipes. It’s a true science and art form that I personally struggle with, so I couldn’t have created such a wonderful roundup without their help!*


Bars & Handpies




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chunky Beef Stew (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I'd say "Let's get ready for winter!" with this newest recipe, but from the looks of the weather map... Well, winter has already hit pretty hard for most of the country. I'm still hanging out down here on the Gulf Coast in flip flops and a light December! Our cold will hit us eventually, but in the meantime, there are lots of rainy days where soup makes the perfect go-to. And a traditional beef stew is what's on the menu!

Now in the Standard American Diet (SAD), there's a lot of smack that goes around for eating red meat or eating "too much" red meat. The claims are that its full of fat and bad for your heart because it causes high cholesterol.

The reality is that beef is a great addition to any healing diet. Red meat is full of essential vitamins., making it nutrient dense. Since most of us with autoimmune disorders tend to have issues with leaky gut (or increased intestinal permeability if you want to use the more official terms), eating nutrient dense foods is part of AIP 101. Why? Because leaky gut means that malabsorption of essential nutrients is more likely, and eating nutrient dense foods is more critical in order to obtain as many nutrients as our body is able.

Specifically, red meat contains significant levels of B vitamins (especially B12, which most people tend to be deficient in), Vitamin D (another common vitamin deficiency), Iron (usually the main issue in individuals suffering from anemia), zinc, copper, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, selenium, and nickel.

The saturated fat and cholesterol argument has also been debunked lately. There's been no consistent evidence that proves that saturated fat makes you fat. In fact, there are more studies and facts showing the benefits of a diet rich in healthy saturated fat. TIME also recently published an article pro-butter versus margarine. For those of us following the Autoimmune Protocol, butter might be out but animal fats such as tallow, lard, bacon fat, and duck fat are great options.

Lastly, if you're eating grass-fed beef, then your source of omega 3 fatty acids is much higher than eating poultry. Omega 6s aren't necessarily bad on their own, but the major issue is the ratio between the two. Because SAD is a diet full of omega 6s, any opportunity to boost omega 3s is an opportunity not to be wasted. If you're worried about your consumption of non-grassfed beef due to budget, no worries. While it's not the AIP or Paleo ideal, not be able to eat grass-fed or pasture-raised for every meal isn't a deal-breaker. As the Paleo Mom states in her post Paleo FAQ: “Can I still do paleo if I can’t afford or source grass-fed beef and organic produce?”:
Whether sourcing exclusively the best quality foods available or buying your groceries at your local superstore, a Paleo diet is still a nutrient-dense diet that reduces inflammation, helps regulate hormones, encourages a healthy gut and generally promotes good health.
 So don't be afraid of beef—grass-fed or not. Add some stew meat to your grocery list, and whip up big pot of this hearty stew. This recipe is also perfect for batch cooking; just freeze and heat up when you're ready for a bowl.

Chunky Beef Stew
¼ cup arrowroot starch
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp parsley flakes
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder
2 lbs beef stew meat
3 tbsp beef tallow or coconut oil
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups sliced carrots
6 cups beef bone broth
3 cups white sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp coconut aminos
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp coconut vinegar (or more red wine vinegar)
2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme (½ tsp ground thyme)

In a medium bowl, combine arrowroot starch, oregano, parsley, sea salt, and garlic powder. Dredge the stew meat in the mixture to lightly coat. Set aside any remaining flour mixture.

In a dutch oven or large soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of fat over medium low heat. Toss the meat in and cook until browned on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of fat to the pot. Add leeks, onion, celery, and carrots to the pot. Cook until the edges start to turn translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

Add bone broth and sweet potatoes to the pot. Add remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Add stew meat and reserved arrowroot mixture to the broth and stir again. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until meat is tender and sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Serve.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook Review (& Recipe)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook Review (& Recipe)
I'm hanging out with Angie Alt today on her Virtual Cookbook Tour for her new cookbook: The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook. Angie is the blogger behind the Alt-ternative Autoimmune blog and a certified health coach. 

Angie sent me a copy of her eBook for me to review. I opened it on my Kindle and am loving it! The colors are beautiful, the format is simple and easy to read. The graphic designer in me (I had a couple of classes in college) absolutely loves the small accents and the cleanliness of the design. The photos are rich in color and appetizing. I also love that the recipes are divided up into Elimination Phase and Reintroduction Phase. But the cookbook isn't just recipes. And that's one of the best parts. Angie also covers lots of information regarding what AIP is, how to go about reintroductions, and how to monitor food reactions. The cookbook is a great resource, but she's not done there. She's also touched on Balance, Cheating, and the Farmer's role in AIP. This means she's covered the emotional/mental aspect of AIP and other lifestyle details that you wouldn't find in just any cookbook. I think it's brilliant, because at the end of the day, AIP isn't a diet. The Autoimmune Protocol is a lifestyle change, and it will change your life. The best part is that Angie's cookbook will help you get started, and continue to help you along the way.

As a part of Angie's Virtual Tour "stop" at my house, I decided to do lunch with Angie using recipes from her cookbook. I am still in the elimination phase so I stuck to all strict AIP recipes. The way they are labeled makes it easy! I posted the photos this afternoon on my Instagram, but here's a recap!

Bacon & Artichoke Stuffed Pork Chops
First off, the main course! I selected her Bacon & Artichoke Stuffed Pork Chops. Can we say amazing? The recipe was easily halved to two servings. The dish looks fancy and gourmet, but it whipped up pretty quickly, and then it's popped in the oven to finish cooking so that you can get things done in the meantime. I cooked mine in a cast iron skillet so that I could place the whole dish in the oven. I added in some chopped broccoli tossed with bacon fat for an easy side, which means this has the potential to be a perfect one-pot meal. I didn't make any changes to Angie's recipe itself, and it came out delicious. I love a recipe that's perfect as is or easily flexible.

Honey & Rosemary Glazed Carrots
For an extra side, I made her Honey & Rosemary Glazed Carrots. This dish is super easy and simple, and it's prepped and cooked in minutes! I used organic carrots so after washing, I didn't even peel them. Need a quick weeknight side? Done! The flavor is also simple but balanced. The honey and rosemary pair beautifully together, and it's a nice change for carrots. I don't prepare them often enough because other than roasting, I always run out of ideas. This recipe will change that.

Lunch with Angie
The whole dish was ready in less than an hour, but most of that was dead cooking time where I could work on other things. In my opinion, that means it's a fabulous weeknight meal that's pretty simple and a crowd pleaser.

Rosemary Tea Time Biscuits
Now I couldn't help but choose a dessert to finish out the meal. While I'm not big on sweets, I do like to try baked goods as an occasional treat. So when I was flipping through and trying to decide, the Rosemary Tea Time Biscuits immediately caught my eye for several reasons. First, I love tea, and I've been dying to find an AIP biscuit or cookie recipe that would pair well together with a hot cup. When I scanned the recipe, I noticed that it was not a very sweet recipe so it's perfect for what I was looking for—a nice treat that's not overly sugary. After making the recipe, I fell in love. The texture is light and crumbly and delicate; it is beyond perfect as a tea time treat or as a light dessert. And the flavor is absolutely delectable. A true winner! I served mine with Tiesta Tea's Red Rose Loose Leaf Rooibus for a delicious fall combo.

I am so excited about this cookbook. Angie has done a fabulous job. I've already fallen in love with the eBook. But since I'm a book lover in general, I can't wait to get my hands on the print copy.

You can find the eBook here: 

And the Print version here:

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook
by Angie Alt

Do your autoimmune bookshelf a favor, and grab yourself a copy. And as a special gift for my lovely readers, Angie has given me permission to provide you with a recipe from her cookbook! And yes, it's more rosemary, but it's my favorite herb right now! 

Shallot & Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 4-6
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 shallots, diced
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put diced squash in a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Add shallots, rosemary and salt. Stir to coat.

Spread squash in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, stirring halfway through for even browning. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My New Life on AIP

My New Life on AIP

Every time I hashtag an entry on social media or fill out a brief blogger bio, I share my list of autoimmune and autoimmune-related disorders in order to reach out to those who are suffering the same: asthma, allergies, endometriosis, adrenal fatigue, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis. Yeah, it's a list. I'm aware. To those of you who are following along because you're in a similar boat, you get it. To some of my family and friends, they think I'm a hypochondriac. And that's ok. I don't expect someone who hasn't lived it to understand, and like I shared in my The Raw Truth about Living AIP post, I really hope that those skeptical individuals never have to live what we live through in order to understand.

But there's a couple items on the list that I tend to skip. And they should be there. In fact, those same conditions are often glossed over frequently. People don't like to talk about them. Lots of people struggle with them—there are commercials about the issues, there are billboards with hotlines to call if you want to talk about them, there are doctors a dime a dozen more than willing to write you script after script if you need them—but when it comes to daily conversation... Well, people don't like to bring those up; they don't like to acknowledge them. So I'm going to do it. I'm nervous about bringing them up. I'm nervous about acknowledging them. I'm nervous about sharing with you. But I'm going to do it anyways.

So here's my ugly laundry list of conditions—ALL OF THEM:

  • Asthma
  • Severe allergies/Food intolerances
  • Endometriosis
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Nail and Scalp Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Major Depression/Mood Disorders

Now granted, not all of the conditions are directly autoimmune or autoimmune-related. But the more and more research that is done, the more the argument is that a lot of these issues are all tied together or tend to go hand in hand—they're co-morbid disorders, if you want to use the official terms. (The National Psoriasis Foundation shared an article today with studies that documented the prevalence of depression and anxiety in psoriatic arthritis patients.) And these issues are really not as uncommon as you would think.

So the AIP community has decided to come together and set aside a week each year to talk about Emotional & Mental Health in the AIP community: November 30-December 4. And this year, I'm going to talk about mine.

Looking back to my pre-AIP days, I had some serious mental health issues that were worse than I actually realized at the time. They were socially-crippling, and at my lowest points, I was very high risk for causing personal or permanent harm. I was overwhelmed at everything and struggling with severe anxiety. I was very negative, had trouble interacting with people, didn't do well making friends, often had severe crying spells where I didn't leave the bed for days, couldn't cope with the demands of jobs or deadlines. The anxiety and insecurities caused or exacerbated huge mood swings. The doctors suggested bipolar disorder, but none of the medicines ever worked. No matter what we tried, I only seemed to worsen and continued to spiral downwards.

My brother finally talked me into trying Paleo for "just 30 days", and I slowly started to see a turn around. I was back and forth with Paleo and so up and down with my moods, until I eventually saw some improvements. I did better over the summers, but always seemed to sink even worse into despair when the summers were over. Last summer, I took the plunge and started AIP. And that's when everything changed.

I'd say that AIP gave me my life back, but AIP actually gave me my life. My moods were through the roof happy and content by comparison. They stayed more consistent. I had more energy and willpower. I started to feel more confident and more able. Family members started to notice how much more stable I was emotionally and mentally. My mother was in complete disbelief and didn't think diet could make such a huge difference, but nevertheless, told me: "I don't know exactly what you're doing, but don't stop."

The key to my happy mental health was probiotics. AIP encourages the use of fermented foods so the first steps I took when I started AIP was to learn how to make sauerkraut (I like Eileen's recipe at Phoenix Helix: No-Fail No-Pound Sauerkraut) and how to brew my own kombucha. As long as I keep a consistent flow of probiotic-rich foods and drinks in my diet, I improve my gut health and thereby, my mental health. Learning this about myself was the most liberating thing. I could suddenly handle life so much better. I could take on more things. I made new friends and kept the friendships. I mended torn relationships with family members. I approached school and work in a whole new light. I still had ups and downs, but without the roller coaster of crazy highs and nasty lows. I also understood the ups and downs better, and more often nowadays, I can recognize the patterns and either slow them or stop the process before it gets out of control.

I still don't do well over the winters. When Daylight Savings Time ends and the days gets shorter, I immediately see a drop in my moods. I've been struggling the last few weeks with a lack a motivation, a desire to just laze on the couch and let everything go. Initially, I caught myself getting overwhelmed and saddened, because I felt like I was slipping backwards. But when I put things into perspective, I realized that I am still stronger and healthier and better mentally than I was a year ago. This time last year, I felt abandoned and alone when it got darker, and I cried every night on my couch or in bed. This year, I turn on the tv for noise and company. I stay later at work to be around coworkers and friends. I get moving in the kitchen, cooking healthy AIP foods to keep me on track. Yes, it's easy to get lost in the slippery slope of sliding backwards. But if we're smart (and we are if we've gotten this far), we'll stay positive and realize that it's all relative.

Compared to last year? I've come a long way. And winter won't last forever. Summer is months of great healing for me, and they are just around the corner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pattypan Squash Casserole (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

This is a late post from my dad's house. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. I'll be traveling to Florida to visit family. The decision wasn't made lightly. I'm still eating strict AIP with zero reintroductions. I also don't travel well. The whole process is a lot of stress for me. Because I'm detoxing from a parasite cleanse, I've also been experiencing some small flares here and there. All that aside, family is family so I decided to attempt the trip with a little extra planning.

1. Food: I brought snacks with me. I've got canned tuna, canned olives, sweet potato chips, guacamole, my AIP Restaurant-Style Salsa, fresh fruit, sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir, and beet juice.
2. Packed Ahead: I wrote out my packing last several days ahead of time so that I could add to it as ideas popped into my head, and that I would be more clear-headed while actually packing.
3. Restaurant: I got the name of the restaurant from a family member and called them ahead of time. I explained that I had several food allergies and intolerance, but that I wanted to eat with my family. I asked to speak to the manager or chef who might be able to best help me with this problem. They said the chef would be willing to either help me the day of or create a special dish for me.
4. Letting Go: I have prepared as best as I can and that's all I can do. At this point, I just have to remind myself to relax and go with the flow and enjoy the special family time together since these moments are few and far between.

I'm excited about tomorrow now. I even remembered to prepare for the 6+ hour car ride by bringing the Paleo Approach with me so I can catch up on some reading!

Enjoy this casserole at your Thanksgiving table. It's a great side dish that AIP and non-AIP will both enjoy!

Pattypan Squash Casserole
6 oz bacon, diced
1 large onion, sliced
2 sticks of celery
3 cups pattypan squash (or summer squash), sliced
10 oz chopped cauliflower
½ cup bone broth
½-14 oz can coconut milk
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
⅛ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
2. Saute bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. 
3. In leftover bacon fat, saute onion and celery over medium low heat until edges start to turn translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from pan and add to an 8x8 casserole dish. 
4. Saute squash for 3-5 minutes to soften edges, and add to casserole dish. 
5. Steam cauliflower in broth until fork tender. 
6. In a blender or food processor, combine cauliflower with coconut milk, garlic powder, and sea salt until a smooth puree. Add to casserole dish and mix until thoroughly combined. Smooth the top.
7. Top with bacon and nutritional yeast.
8. Cook for 25-35 min or until squash is tender.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whipped Psoriasis Body Butter

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I've created my first non-edible recipe!!! And it was very successful! This is an awesome body butter, and the ingredients are all-natural! No harsh additives allowed.

But first, before we even get started. *clears throat* Here's my mandatory FDA disclaimer:
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.*
You can also read my blog disclaimer here, specifically #1.

Personally, I don't care what the FDA approves or doesn't approve, but for the sake of following the rules, that's all said and done and tied with a pretty little bow on it. And now that all that is out of the way...let's talk about essential oils.

You've probably already heard lots about them as they're the latest and greatest "craze". I almost didn't jump on board that train, because let's be honest. Sometimes the latest craze is just that—a silly trend that doesn't last. But as someone who's already skeptical of most doctors and the pharmaceutical community in general, I'm learning to be more open-minded to sources of new information and alternative methods. I know for a fact that medicines either 1) do not work for me at all or 2) they might work for me but with SERIOUS side effects. My medicinal experiences are my own, and not everyone responds the same. I would never discourage any one from taking medicines if they are necessary. The major thing here that I'm arguing for is DO YOUR RESEARCH AND KNOW THE PROS AND CONS. That's all I'm going to say about it, but if you're debating whether or not to start meds or how to handle AIP with meds, then check out "To medicate or not to medicate... that is NOT the question" from Slightly Lost Girl and/or how to go about handling researching your own medical health in Stretching Your Health Care Dollars from Alt-ternative Autoimmune.

As far as essential oils go, I started doing research and discovered there might be some merit to them after all. The main idea is that they work mainly through aromatherapy so you either diffuse or apply topically to the area that might benefit from a specific oil. Different oils have different properties that may or may not have therapeutic benefits for specific body areas or ailments.

I also started researching brands. I found Native American Nutritionals, and I've fallen in love. (Note: At the time of posting, I am not an affiliate of this brand, nor was I asked to review their products or paid to advertise for them. I simply love their oils and their company.) You can read about the company and their guarantee, mission statement, and philosophies at the link and decide for yourself. There are lots of other brands of oils out there. In my opinion, NAN oils are the best quality for your dollar from a great company that sources well, doesn't involve any multi-level marketing programs, and has fast shipping at a great price. They also have a list of Comparable Blends on their site, so you can easily find oil blends similar to the other companies.

Now for the specific oils in my recipe. This blend is designed to help with psoriasis—plaque, scale, flake specifically, but it may also help ease minimal psoriatic arthritis pain. (This blend may also help ease ezcema, but skip the clove and peppermint. For just dry winter skin, use just lavender oil.) Each oils has multiple benefits, but I've specified below why I picked each one for the body butter.

  • Native American Nutritional First Aid Blend: Contains Rosemary (reduces pain especially arthritis, beneficial to dry/flaky scalps, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, helps tone and remove dryness), Tea Tree, Clove Bud, and Helichrysum italicum (anti-inflammatory, lowers stress levels, helps wounds and cuts heal quicker, antimicrobial/antiseptic, helps keep skin smooth and retain moisture, promotes cell health,
  • Lavender Oil: Pain relief, antibacterial, antiviral, helps speed up the healing of cuts and other skin issues
  • Peppermint Oil: Stress-reliever, pain relief, cooling to skin which can help relieve dandruff and skin irritation
  • Clove Bud Oil: Anti-septic, stress reliever, warming and pain-relieving
  • Tea Tree Oil: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, boosts health, improves health of skin especially dandruff, can provide relief from aches and pains

*Please note: This recipe is for TOPICAL APPLICATION ONLY and should not be consumed!*

Now the question I know everyone is wondering. Does it actually work? I can't promise it will work for you, but I can tell you that it worked beautifully for me. Last week, my left ear was covered in scale and flake and the crease behind my ear was cracking. I had spots of scale on my knuckles and aching in my finger joints. I made the body butter and started applying it twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. In less than two days, barely any of the scale on my ear remained and the cracking was almost completely healed. The body butter is also super moisturizing and makes your skin feel amazing. A friend at work also commented that my skin looked more taut. Taut skin means less wrinkles, so I'll take it!!!

Whipped Psoriasis Body Butter
1.5 cups beef tallow
4 tbsp coconut oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil

Melt tallow over low heat until liquid. Remove from heat. Add coconut oil and stir thoroughly. Add oils and stir thoroughly. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer or into a glass bowl if using a hand held mixer. Whip the mixture on the highest speed without splashing until it starts to thicken. Slowly increase the speed until the mixture starts to solidify. Whip until all set but a light, whipped texture. (If using a hand mixer, you may want to use a cold glass bowl or allow the mixture to cool to room temp before starting.) Store in an airtight, glass jar. It is not recommended to use plastic or metal with essential oils.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Restaurant-style Salsa (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I'm on AIP Day 46. It's become so routine that I'm not really feeling much of a struggle most days. This year there are TONS and TONS more recipes all over the internet and now even in cookbooks, which makes the going so much easier than last year. I'm not seeing as much control over my psoriasis as I would like. I've got several patches of scale on my scalp, on and in my ears, under my nose, and on top of my hands. I've been eating the strictest I have in months, and I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating it is that I'm not seeing more improvements.

I'm on a parasite cleanse with my local holistic doctor. The cleanse means I'm detoxing, and detoxing means I'm experiencing nightmares and flares sporadically. I'm keeping a close eye on it, but right now I'm considering it a temporary setback in order for more progress in the longterm. In the meantime, I'm working on staying as strict AIP as possible, staying on somewhat of a schedule, and keeping my stress low. I've been cutting back on different things slowly throughout the last few months, and it's definitely been a huge help. I can now sit down and read for 30 minutes without feeling guilty.

Looking on the brightside of this setback is that I've had lots of recipe developing going on! And because I'm strict AIP, that means ALL of my recipes in the works are strict AIP too! No mods! And more recipes always means good things for you, my readers.

So we already talked about nightshades and why they aren't AIP in my Tomatoless Soup post. And I also obsessed briefly over my loss of Mexican food. (Yes, it's that serious.) I have to admit that I was already pretty excited about my Tomatoless Soup recipe because it wasn't spaghetti sauce. I was afraid that when it came to subbing tomatoes, that it would only work if it had the herbs to help blend the flavors. I'm so glad that I was proved wrong. The recipe was actually supposed to be a beet soup, and it turning into a wonderful bowl of Tomatoless Soup was actually a happy accident.

This salsa creation, however, is no accident. When I tasted the Tomatoless Soup, the wheels wouldn't stop turning and the creative juices wouldn't stop flowing. This recipe HAD to happen. Luckily, after the soup is already made, this recipe comes together fairly quickly and doesn't take much work or any odd ingredients. The focus here though is going to be on FRESH ingredients. Don't try it with dried cilantro and garlic; it's going to be very bland if you do. If you've reintroduced seed-based spices, then feel free to add in a little punch of ground cumin for some extra Mexican zip. But don't fret if you can't do the cumin yet. The recipe is convincing enough without it. Try it with some tostones or plantain chips or on a taco salad!

Restaurant-style Salsa
1 cup Tomatoless Soup
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lime juice
½ c fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until well-combined. Don't over blend the mixture. The chunkier the onion, the chunkier the salsa. Still, the recipe will be more of a restaurant-style, pureed salsa than a chunky version.

Spatchcock Provençal Chicken (AIP)

Spatchcock Provençal Chicken
I was asked to do a guest post for the The Paleo Mom's blog! Of course I said yes! I've been wanting to share this recipe for a while. It's a fun and tasty way to cook a whole chicken in just a fraction of the time it takes to roast it.

I served it with The Paleo Mom's Maple-Braised Butternut Squash and my Roasted Broccoli & Garlic for the perfect AIP-compliant meal.

 You can find the Spatchcock Provençal Chicken recipe HERE!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tomatoless Soup (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

For me, one of the hardest things to give up when going AIP was nightshades. If you follow my blog, you know my ancestry is part Italian and part Portuguese and this girl loves her salsa. Technically, I think I should have been born a Latina. I mean, my favorite ethnic food hands down for most of my life has been Mexican. And I mean legit Mexican. We don't need none of that Tex Mex stuff over here. I want corn tortillas with steak and peppers and onions topped with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. But I digress...

If you flashback to last summer on my Instagram, then you will see that I ate salsa for breakfast, salsa for snack, salsa for lunch, salsa for dinner... Well, you get the idea. And it's no surprise that my psoriasis went full flare... So what's the big deal with nightshades, anyways?

If you've never heard the term, nightshades are a group of plants from the same family called Solanaceae. They include tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers (sweet and hot), white potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, and goji berries. (The list of edible nightshades is pretty extensive, so if you want the full run down, make sure to check out What are Nightshades? from The Paleo Mom or The Paleo Approach for the full list.)

Why are nightshades out for those of us on AIP? The main issue is that these foods contain glycoalkaloids, which can be highly irritating for those with a sensitivity. They can not only cause leaky gut, but they are also known as adjuvants, which can cause even bigger problems for those of us with autoimmune disorders. Adjuvants can stimulate and exacerbate an immune response in the body. The glycoalkaloids tend to amp up a response to proteins coming from the gut, and this tends to transform into an autoimmune response. (For more in depth info, read The WHYS behind the Autoimmune Protocol: Nightshades)

So what's a Italian girl who loves tomatoes and peppers supposed to do when faced with several autoimmune and autoimmune-related conditions? Of course I had to give up the nightshades. But that doesn't mean I can't get creative in the kitchen and reinvent the wheel. Or in this case, one of my favorite soups growing up. 

Tomatoless Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes | Serves: 4-6
1 lb fresh beets, tops removed and scrubbed 
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
8 oz carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
6 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Place the beets in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until beets are fork tender and water is ruby red. Drain beet pot juice and reserve for smoothies, drinking, etc. Set beets aside. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt coconut oil and sautee onions, celery, and carrots over medium low heat until edges turn translucent. Add beets, pumpkin, and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until all veggies are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until a smooth puree. Add in the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of each at a time, stirring carefully and testing as you go. You will want the acidic taste of the lemon and vinegar to cut through the sweetness of the root veggies. Add the savory and sea salt. Taste and add sea salt or lemon juice/apple cider vinegar slowly at a time until the tomato flavor tastes fully developed. Garnish with parsley.

*Optional: Creamy Tomatoless Soup
Add one 14 oz can coconut milk to the pot at the end and allow to warm through. Serve.

*Crockpot Option 
After sauteing veggies, add everything to the crockpot except for lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Cook on low for 4 hours. Blend with an immersion blender. Add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to taste before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book Review (& Recipe/Giveaway!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book
I'm so excited to announce that I'm a contributor for The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book, brought to you by The Paleo Mom! This is my first cookbook!! Ok, so it's not all mine, but I'm still riding on this little high, so you'll have to forgive me. *wink wink*

Let me give you the low-down skinny in just a few words:

Who wrote the cookbook? Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom wrote the majority of the book, but invited lots of bloggers from the AIP community to contribute recipes (see a list of AIP bloggers here).

What is The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book?
A 178-page e-Book that covers how to throw your very own dinner party, games, scheduling, meal plans, recipes and lots of great info.

But how is it different from just any other cookbook?
Not only does it have tons of recipes, but the recipes are all broken down into 14 well-planned complete dinners that you can use to throw your own dinner club party or even just use for meal planning!

Why do you need a copy?? 
Because the e-Book is chock full of fantastic recipes (over 80 of them!) that are AIP-approved!

*Keep scrolling to see the whole recipe and give it a try!

Where do I get a copy? 
Easy! Just click the link here and follow the buy now link!

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book
by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

I've even included a recipe preview from the book! Try it out and then get crack-a-lackin' on ordering this cookbook so you can throw your very own AIP Dinner Club Party!

Pineapple and Lychee Granita
Prep Time: 3 hours | Total Time: 3 hours | Serves: 8 

2 lbs fresh lychee or rambutan
1 quart (about 1 ½ lbs) fresh pineapple chunks
2 limes
¼ tsp salt

1. Peel and pit the lychee. Zest the limes and reserve zest as a garnish, then cut the remaining peel off the limes. Add limes, lychee, salt and pineapple to the blender and blend until completely smooth.

2. Pour puree onto a rimmed baking sheet or into a cake pan or lasagna pan and place in the freezer. After 1 hour, remove from the freezer and scrape and mash with a fork to make little ice crystals. Return to the freezer. After another hour, remove from freezer and mash a second time. Return to freezer. After a third hour, remove from the freezer and mash a final time.

3. Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

To transport: transfer to a freezer-safe container that will work for transport. Transport in a cooler and freeze immediately upon arrival. Before serving, give one final scrape/mash with a fork. Serve garnished with lime zest.

This recipe is from Sophie at A Squirrel in the Kitchen! Make sure to check out her blog for some other great recipes!

***PS: I'm doing a GIVEAWAY!!!! What?! Wanna win a copy of The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book for you and three of your friends??!!! Stayed tuned tomorrow Nov. 6 on my Instagram account @theprimordialtable starting at 8am CST!***

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pumpkin Clam Chowder (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

It's been a while since I've brought you an original recipe. I've had a lot of recipe development going on behind the scenes, but they have been specifically for special projects. My latest project was collaborating with The Paleo Mom on her newest e-Book The Paleo Approach Dinner Club. I contributed two original and exclusive recipes to the cookbook. The cookbook is such a fun project, because it's perfect for throwing dinner parties! AIP can be a struggle when it comes to dining out and entertaining. So take the guess work out and check out the book!! I'm working on a separate blog post about the e-Book specifically, but I didn't want to waste any more time that you could be using to cook up some great new dishes! Click the link below to check it out!

I have several other surprise projects in the works as well. But I've also been working on several recipes just for the blog! This newest recipe for Pumpkin Clam Chowder happened in a fun little moment of genius. I'm not trying to toot my own here, but what else do I call it?? I've been dying to make an AIP-approved Clam Chowder recipe for a while now, and when the idea for Pumpkin Clam Chowder popped into my head, I knew it had to happen NOW!

My mom's family is from just inside the Cape Cod area, so the only clam chowder even worth talking about is a good New England-style Clam Chowder (pronounced chowda in case you didn't already know)! Rich and creamy broth with chunky potatoes and bits of clam and bacon. Ahh, perfection. The focus here is balance. A good chowda is simple but flavorful.

This chowda is a fun, fall twist on an old classic, but it still meets the basic requirements. I won't argue that it's better than the original, but maybe you'll agree that it's just as good in its own right!

Pumpkin Clam Chowder
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 4-6 

6 oz bacon, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1 lb parsnips, peeled and chunked
4-6.5 oz canned clams
1-8 oz bottle clam broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
2-15 oz canned pumpkin
1-14 oz canned coconut milk
1-2 tsp salt

In a dutch oven over medium-low heat, cook up all the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon bits and set aside, leaving bacon fat in the pan. Add the onion, celery, and leek to the bacon fat and cook until it starts to turn translucent. Add parsnips, clams, and clam broth. Stir well and add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a slow simmer. Allow to simmer until parsnips are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add pumpkin and coconut milk. Stir thoroughly and heat until warmed through. Remove bay leaf and salt to taste. Garnish with additional thyme if desired. Top with bacon bits to serve.

*Add collagen or gelatin to the clam broth for extra nutrition.
**Great crockpot option: Crisp the bacon and saute all the veggies together. Add all ingredients (including the bacon) to the crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Remove bay leaf, salt if necessary, and serve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)
Some of the latest buzz on the Paleo streets is the newest cookbook from Grass Fed Girl's Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, and Balanced Bites's Diane Sanfilippo: Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. If you've been outside the loop, then I'm here to give you a quick last minute preview before it launches TOMORROW, October 28! I have to admit that I was super excited to get my hands on a preview copy for two major reasons: 1) Um, Mediterranean ethnic food? Can we say, "Hello, flavor??!" and 2) There's AIP-friendly options in the cookbook! Whaaat?! Yep! And I'm going to give you the run-down on what that means for all of you, my fabulous AIP readers! So keep reading.

When I finally had the cookbook in my hands, I was instantly impressed with the size. There's a lot of pages and the recipes are easy to read. Of course, the photographer in me is also in love with all the drool-worthy photos—so much color and tantalizingly teasing meals photographed on almost every other page. I'm not really nervous when it comes to trying ethnic foods, and with this cookbook, there's no reservations at all! The pictures will make you ready to dig in, even if you're not so sure of the ingredients. And don't really worry about those either, because the authors have given you an easy and quick little breakdown about Mediterranean dishes, origins, regions, health and lifestyle, and how to stock your Mediterranean pantry/kitchen.

If you've been reading my blog, then you already know that I have a Portuguese and Italian heritage, and I embrace ethnic foods with gusto. And eating ethnic foods while AIP can sometimes be a struggle. Mediterranean Paleo Cooking has over 150 recipes and over 100 of them are AIP-friendly! Yes, over 100. I counted them myself! And I have to admit that I'm sure impressed with the effort the authors took to modify the recipes to AIP. A lot of times, I have seen non-AIP recipes made AIP just by stating to "omit for AIP" next to inflammatory ingredients. And while this does adapt the recipe for us, that doesn't mean the recipe is going to have much flavor. Caitlin and her contributors actually created feasible substitutions that take out the inflammatory ingredients and replaced them with other equally-flavorful options. And that kind of time and effort has to be applauded.

Now keep in mind that in the introduction, the authors/contributors clarified about the AIP-friendly options. They decided to include berry- and fruit-based spices (like black pepper and cardamom) and fresh legumes (like green beans and peas) in their AIP-friendly recipes. While originally these were considered grey area foods, Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom has since clarified in her book The Paleo Approach that these are reintroduction foods and should be avoided during the elimination phase of the protocol. Based on this, I would recommend that anyone who has not reintroduced anything yet should use caution and use their best judgment for these recipes. They are still very adaptable (simply omit the spices in question) to the elimination phase of the protocol. For someone who has successfully reintroduced these spices and foods, the recipes are perfect and are a great addition to a healing diet. I also appreciate that the authors chose to label the recipes "AIP-friendly" versus "AIP-approved". In my opinion, this wording encourages the reader to adapt the recipes accordingly without claiming them to be fully compliant.

And now for the recipes themselves. I didn't get to try as many as I wanted to, but you can be sure that I'll be reaching for this cookbook often to try lots more of them in the future.

Nacera's Lemon Ginger Chicken Tajine

This chicken dish has some great flavor, and is fairly easy to throw together. Also has a crockpot option!

Savory Chicken Kebabs

 Marinate these tasty kebab the night before, and you come home to a quick dinner that's in and out of the oven or off the grill in a flash. I don't have a grill, and the broiler worked great.
Cabbage Dolmas (Stuffed Cabbage)

This recipe looks somewhat fancy, but it turned out very easy with simple and clear directions. Give it time to simmer on the stove for a nice, rich sauce that's tomato-free.
And last but not least! I tried the Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes. Yum! Such a nice breakfast. And because these are baked, you can cook them all up at once. I even received permission to share the recipe with all of you before the cookbook launches. So make these for breakfast tomorrow and grab a copy of the cookbook!

Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes*
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 3 | Yield: 6 (3-inch) pancakes

3 medium bananas
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
maple syrup or honey, for serving (optional)
melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Spoon a few tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch think. Repeat until all the batter is used. For a perfectly shaped pancake, use a ring mold.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pancakes and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Let the pancakes cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. Top with maple syrup, honey, or melted fat of choice. Serve and enjoy.

*Shared with permission from the authors.

Be sure to grab your copy off Amazon! The book comes out tomorrow, so snag the preorder price while you can!

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking
by Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, & Diane Sanfilippo