Paleo Pancake Recipe

Pancakes are one of my love languages. I make these high-protein, low sugar, gut healthy, PALEO PANCAKES multiple times a week and have been for a few years now because they make me so happy. I will change the mix-ins but the base is always the same. This time, I mixed in cocao nibs (you probably couldn’t tell because I like my pancakes cooked to crispy perfection!) but my other favorite add-ins are blueberries, strawberries or chocolate chips. These pancakes are full of only simple, real ingredients and they are so satisfying. Plus they cook and flip very well!

So here is it… Get ready for your mornings to become very exciting!

Paleo Pancake Recipe

serves one

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (I use Vital Farms)
  • 1/2 mushy banana
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • t/2 tbsp milk (my fav. is Malk almond milk or Trader Joe’s gum free coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp cocao nibs (or any other mix in you fancy!)
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of pink salt
  • Optional: 1-2 scoops collagen powder
  • Ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, or a mix of two, for pan
  • Any toppings of your choice: could be nut butter, cinnamon, honey, coconut butter, etc

Get cooking:

  1. Preheat pan (I use a nontoxic stainless steel pan so it’s necessary to heat up before cooking. If you’re using a nonstick pan that heats up fast, you can swap step 1 and 2)
  2. Mash banana in a bowl, then add eggs and milk and whisk all together. Next add the rest of the ingredients and mix up
  3. Put a small amount of ghee, coconut oil, or avocado oil on pan. Ghee or avocado oil have higher smoke points so this will make the pancakes crispier, but coconut oil has a nice taste. Lately, i enjoy doing a little ghee plus a little coconut oil.
  4. Pour batter onto pan, in pancake size of your choice. The more space you leave between pancakes, the crispier they’ll get. Cook until bubbles form, then wait for those bubble to turn into holes. Then flip and cook until desired.
  5. Top with goodies of your choice. This time I went for cinnamon and a scoop of sprouted almond butter. Sometimes I do coconut butter. Or cashew butter and coconut shreds. Make it your masterpiece. Enjoy!!

Please do let me know if you make these. I can’t wait to hear how you dressed them!

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Paleo pancake recipe (1)

 

Potatoes and Gut Health

I have a confession. For a few years, I was deathly afraid of potatoes.

Okay, that sounds dramatic. But it’s true. And it really wasn’t just potatoes. It was any food I labeled “bad” or “not safe” or “illegal.”

That’s what happens when you become so sick that your body seems to reject anything you try to feed it. You rely on protocols and unavoidable restrictive eating habits in order to feel better, but even after massive healing has taken place, the fear of certain foods remains. In fact, the success of said protocols and restrictions is a huge contributor to the fears. Thoughts are usually “Eating this way is what healed me. I’m doing well now, sure, but what if I go backwards? If I introduce anything new, will the debilitating symptoms come back?”

This is exactly what happened to me. When my body started screaming for help several years ago, I immediately began to look at my food habits. I started by eliminating the top common allergens then ended up following a vegetarian version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as well as a low fodmap diet. I also tried eliminating other things, like nightshades and even any food with seeds (!) for a while, as well as several foods that were flagged after a food sensitivity blood test. Then it was the candida and SIBO protocols, which took out pretty much all from the above plus anything with any sugar (bye, fruit). And absolutely nothing raw.

As you can imagine, this left me with very slim options for fueling myself. I was basically left with pureed butternut squash (but not too much of that either, because it can still be starchy in large quantities). It was insane for a while. I wouldn’t touch anything without looking up if it was “legal” to eat. It took a huge toll on my mental health. But the thing is, it did help give my body some rest in order to heal. It would have been easier if I ate meat as I would have had more options, but that is a personal decision that I decided against a long time ago (and despite many telling me it was impossible to heal without eating it, I knew plants had the power I needed).

These diets and protocols played a huge role in my healing, along with supplements and lifestyle changes. So of course, once I significantly healed and started feeling good again on a consistent basis, that last thing I wanted to do was rock the boat by changing anything I was doing. But there are some things I have learned about this.

The first thing is that these restrictive diets and protocols, although they can be necessary for deep healing, are not meant to be followed forever. It’s not just that it’s not sustainable, which is true, but it’s also because your body needs diversity long-term. Diversity in your diet leads to a more diverse gut flora, which is essential to prevent future relapse. The strategy should be to eliminate things long enough for the body to have time to heal and reset, then slowly try to reintroduce a variety of nourishing, whole foods (watching your symptoms as you do so).

Another revelation I had was that no matter how strict you follow a particular protocol, or how many supplements you take or blood tests you get done, you’re never going to fully heal if you don’t also dig deep into your mental health. Lifestyle and mindset are hugely underrated components to true, long-term, whole-body healing. This took me a long time to accept and for me it was probably the most difficult part of the process. Even more difficult than eating squash for every meal.

So back to potatoes. The special protocols worked as advertised.  I followed a very strict diet for a couple years and along with addressing my stress levels, hormones and deficiencies, this helped me get my life back. The problem is that during this process, a lot of foods were deemed permanently “illegal” in my brain.

The truth is there are some foods I may never eat again (ie gluten, dairy, grains) because they are known to be big irritants for anyone with a history of a compromised immune system and severe sensitivities (I was also diagnosed with a wheat allergy). But then there are other foods that are more in what I consider the wellness-gray-area. Meaning if you’re super sick, you should probably avoid them (and follow a strict plan for a while), but once you’re better there’s no reason to continue to exclude them if you personally test them and can tolerate them. Although they can be amazingly helpful, the problem with these special healing diets occurs when we start to treat them as dogma and not as a guide, or starting point, for testing what works for our own bodies.

Potatoes, and really all CARBS, are foods I have had to work to re-label in my mind (or rather, eliminate any label at all). I’m happy to say I’m no longer terrified of carbs and since re-introducing a healthy dose of them (healthy amount for me), I have felt better than ever.

I was feeling very drained and depleted after eating so low carb for so long. This is how I knew it was time to slowly re-introduce small amounts of potatoes and other grain-free carbs and see how I did. I still don’t eat huge amounts and I notice some symptoms if I overdo it (mostly tired feeling or heaviness in this case) but that could happen with over-doing anything. I also do know what large amounts of starchy foods can do to your gut, so I’m only eating reasonable amounts of certain foods I know won’t make me feel sick for that diverse flora. For example, you’ll notice in the meal pictured above that potato (Japenese Sweet, yum!) is a small piece of the meal, not the main player (usually about 1/2 a medium potato max or one small potato).

It’s all about balance and most importantly, testing things out and listening to what works for YOUR body RIGHT now. Because things can and will change.  And the right amount of carbs for me, is not necessarily the right amount of carbs for you. Also, what my body needs right now may not be what my body needs later. Our bodies are incredible, UNIQUE, ever-adjusting machines.

What’s your current relationship with carbs? Are you labeling foods “good” and “bad” ?

Paleo Chocolate Donut Recipe (high protein)

I’m definitely a “sweet breakfast” person. Sure, some avocado tater-toast has its place, but in my opinion… donuts make some of the dreamiest break-fasts. Which is why I’ve made these Paleo Chocolate Donuts about twice a week for a solid year. I mix up my toppings, but the base is almost always the same. They’re cakey, chocolaty, and very indulgent tasting. Like dessert for breakfast vibes. YET they’re actually have NO added sugars as is (not even honey or monk fruit!) and are grain free, gluten free, dairy free, and packed full of protein.

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So ideally, I’d love to be totally vegan. However, I’ve struggled hard with severe adrenal fatigue and learned that for a while, it would be important to get very high amounts of protein during my first meal of day. Enter eggs. The thing is, I’ve been a vegetarian for 22 years… and I’ve always hated eggs (no omelettes or frittatas for this girl). So to eat them, I have to hide them in things. Like these donuts. One serving of donuts has 2 eggs, but you’d never know it. Instead I just taste yummy chocolate goodness. And if you’d like the extra protein and consume collagen peptides, you can add a scoop or two of that into the batter too.

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(Note: This one photo is before I tweaked my icing recipe! Still tasty, just not as smooth)

Also, if you can’t currently consume chocolate, you can use carob powder instead. Because I’m sensitive to too much chocolate, I usually use part carob and part cocoa and they still taste super chocolaty and rich.

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Paleo Chocolate Donuts

Serves One / Makes 4 small donuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3/4 tbsp cocao powder
    •  Can either sub fully with carob powder, or do a combo by using 1/2 tbsp cocao powder and 2 tsp carob powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Optional: 1-2 scoops collagen peptides

Icing Options:

  • Coconut butter icing – I just melt some coconut butter with a little bit of coconut oil (so it’s spreadable)
  • Chocolate icing – I mix melted coconut butter, a little coconut oil and cocoa butter
  • Nut butter of choice (hazelnut is my favorite as it goes so well with the chocolate!)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and spray donut pan with olive or avocado oil (makes 4 donuts when using this silicone donut pan)
  2. Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk, then add in the rest of the ingredients, mix well
  3. Pour batter into donut pan, separating evenly between 4 donuts (about 2/3 full)
  4. Bake for approx 15 min
  5. Top with icing of your choice (I give my favorites above), and enjoy!

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Are you a sweet or savory breakfast person? 🙂

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (+ low sugar)

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These gluten free, grain free, Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies are what dreams are made of. Slightly crispy on the outside, gooey and chewy on the inside. Classically sweet but not overly sweet, with velvety dark chocolate chunks.

So… they’re technically chocolate chunk cookies because I used Eating Evolved’s Midnight Coconut Bar for the chocolate, which I chopped into chunks. I’ve yet to find a 100% clean and actually sugars-free chocolate chip but that’s okay because I think these chocolate chunks are even better! If you’ve never had this chocolate bar, do yourself a favor and buy immediately because it will change your life (ingredients are just 100% cocao and coconut and it’s the ONLY chocolate bar I eat).

Another “secret” ingredient that makes these special is the RX vanilla almond butter. You can use any almond butter, but I think this one adds to the magic, especially since it’s very sweet without much sugar (only 3g in the whole packet).

Anyway, these paleo cookies are easy to make, with super simple and clean ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Oh AND there’s less than 5g of sugar per cookie. What?!?! This is great if you’re watching sugar intake for gut health.

Enjoy, and let me know if you make them!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe:

Makes 1 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 packet RX vanilla almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • About 1/2 Eating Evolved Midnight Coconut Chocolate Bar* (Update: OR Evolved’s new 100% cocao chocolate chips!)

*If using Eating Evolved chocolate bar, take 2-3 sections of your chocolate bar, depending on how chocolatey you like ’em… and chop up into chunks 

Coconut oil/ghee note: I like the combination of both, however if you don’t have both – feel free to try just using either 3 tbsp coconut oil or 3 tbsp ghee and let me know!

Method:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350F and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2.  Put dry ingredients in a bowl (almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, salt) and stir with spoon, then add wet ingredients on top (almond butter, egg, vanilla, honey, coconut oil, ghee) and mix (I used a handheld electric mixer)
  3.  Fold in chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, then put bowl with dough into freezer for 10 min
  4.  Roll into balls (I made a dozen) and place onto parchment papered cookie sheet, about 2 in apart then press down slightly on each ball
  5.  Bake at 350F for 10 min for a nice crispy on outside, gooey yum on inside
  6.  Let cool about 10 min then eat one immediately to enjoy that fresh-from-the-oven-maximum-gooey-ness-warm-and-fuzzy-bliss 🙂

[To get this delicious fresh-baked vibe even with leftovers, I recommend sticking your cookie(s) you plan to eat in the oven for a couple minutes to re-heat a bit (or in the microwave for a few second if that’s your thing)… trust me it’s worth the little wait!]

If you make these, let me know! Would love to know if you were somehow able to keep yourself from eating several right out of the oven?!

Follow on Instagram: @wellcreature 

(PS) Shopping tip: I buy a lot of my ingredients on iHerb. Not sponsored, but you can use my code DKP042 at check out for 10% off your first order, or 5% off if you’re a returning customer. I order all pantry items and supplements I can from iHerb because I save so much money! It’s usually the same base price as Amazon, but then there’s ALWAYS additional discounts (and free shipping). Plus I like it because they’re reliable and I know I’m getting the real stuff (aka not shady supplement sources).

 

All images and text © Well Creature Blog

 

 

 

My 6 day water fast experience

I have waited to post this for a long time because I know it’s a serious topic and also there’s just so much information to cover! Back in June 2018, I decided to embark on a multiple day, water-only fast.

*Note I am NOT an expert and am simply sharing my personal experience. I do not recommend fasting without consulting your doctor, especially one longer than 24 hours.

When your body is constantly inflamed, everything takes a lot of work. And it’s hard for your body to focus on healing inflammation (basically any condition) when it needs to use all its energy for digesting food constantly. So when we give our bodies a break from that job, our cells become available to do so many other important things! They begin to regenerate and look for things to heal within the body.

Some back story: I had already been doing some intermittent fasting. My ND actually recommended I try an extended fast, and their office specifically recommends a three day fasting program that involves drinking a combination of water and a green tea concoction. At first this idea terrified me. It seemed too extreme and also counter intuitive since I’ve have some pretty severe adrenal fatigue and blood sugar issues. And it just seemed hard. Not eating for three full days?! There’s no way. However, after some of my own research, it started to make a lot of sense. It would give my body a huge opportunity to heal from the inside and reset. It would give it a break. Which sounded right. It sounded exactly like what my body needed. But after my independent research, I decided to make a tweak to the plan. I would be only drinking water.

I planned to do a three day water-only fast, but spoiler: I ended up extending it to 6 days.

PREPARATION:

I made a list of things I could do during my fast (basically to help me get through it when I felt like quitting). This included meditate, light yoga, dry brush, walk, sit outside, read, breathing exercises, warm showers, positive affirmations. I also set my intentions for the fast and wrote them down. This included total healing in all systems. I affirmed that this fast would give me exactly what my body needed. A total reset and healing on all levels. I wrote down how I would feel after the fast (strong, healthy, repaired, renewed). I thanked the universe and my body in advance for this. After I wrote all this down, I continued to look back at it and repeat it both in my head and out loud throughout the fast. I also constantly pictured in my head how I would look and feel after the fast and imagined all the little cells in my body working hard to heal me and bring balance to my system. I found all this very helpful.

I left myself post it notes around that said things like “you can do it” and “it always seems impossible until it’s done” and also made a little daily check list to track how much water I was drinking.

I stopped eating at around 9 pm the day before my fast (I never eat this late anymore but I think I was nervous about the fast and ended up making dinner later than planned – I’d recommend stopping at 6 pm). I made sure I ate something very nourishing and filling. For me, this was green veggies and potato. I’ve since read potato isn’t the best idea as it can make your blood sugar crash later, but I think it was a good combination for me and we all have to do what’s best for our bodies.

Here’s a breakdown of how each day went for me:

DAY 1:

Most of the day wasn’t so bad. I had already been practicing intermittent fasting for quite some time so I didn’t really feel anything until about 4 pm. At that time I started to get a light headache and some shakiness. I noted at 6 pm it was a bit hard to concentrate on work but overall it wasn’t bad and I didn’t feel any stomach burning. I got a massage earlier in the day (1 pm) to help stimulate the lymphatic system and de-stress. Then that evening I dry brushed and did a epsom salt foot soak.

The nighttime was more difficult. I got up to pee in the middle of the night and felt a bit weak. My heartbeat felt very strong throughout the night but in a distracting/slightly uncomfortable way. I had some trouble sleeping because of this.

DAY 2:

The morning wasn’t too bad and I noted that my concentration actually seemed better, as long as I stayed busy and didn’t think about the fast. At 2 pm I went on a walk. At this point I was feeling pretty positive, calm and confident. By 8 pm, my muscles were starting to feel sore and fatigued and I had some “hunger burns” every now and then.

DAY 3:

Concentration was on point. But unfortunately not while working. I just didn’t feel like putting my energy towards that and it felt draining. Instead I felt like reading about fasting, planning my re-feeding phase and reintroduction of foods, watching funny tv, stretching, doing some slow walking, meditating and reading. While sitting I felt pretty good, but while standing I would become more aware of the muscle fatigue and weakness. I thought I would be very irritable but I was actually pretty calm emotionally. It was almost like I didn’t have the energy to be irritable or worked up. Plus I knew I needed to be calm and not get my stress hormones going if I wanted to heal. But I really felt a sense of peace at this time. I wrote that I felt like I could handle anything. And then decided I would extend the fast (at this time I planned to extend one more full day, and eating at lunch on the 5th day).

DAY 4:

This is where I started to feel more of the spiritual stuff. I journaled about how I was letting go of things that didn’t serve me and freeing myself from fear and old stories. At the same time, it’s interesting because I thought I’d spend all day everyday on this fast listening to guided meditations and transforming podcasts. But instead, I found it easier to distract myself with reality tv, research and work. I thought about banning instagram and tv during the fast but instead I just didn’t want to put pressure on myself. I went with what I was feeling. And I guess I was feeling Sex and the City and The Real Housewives. That’s okay. The changes were still happening and I was still constantly talking to my little hardworking cells and picturing how I’d feel at the end of this journey.  Also, day 4 was when I was starting to feel some physical stuff. Bad taste in my mouth and white tongue. Mouth feels dry. Having some breathing issues… Like hard to take any deep breaths; instead breathing is very shallow and feels restricted. Heartbeat feels heavy and pounding. Also I’ve been very very cold. It was 90 degrees outside but I had the temperature in my home on a warm 80 degrees and was wearing thick sweatshirts while staying under blankets and I was still cold. All these symptoms really started by Day 2 and just gradually increased.

DAY 5:

Have been having trouble sleeping. The heartbeat and breathing issues seem to keep me up. I thought I’d get tons of sleep on this fast but it was actually the opposite. Also some muscle weakness and cramping, especially in my thighs. At this point I was really just pushing through and keeping my eye on the prize. Things were getting pretty uncomfortable. I was going to break my fast on the evening of the 5th day (which would technically be a full 5 days since I started the fast at 9 pm the day before Day 1) but I decided I didn’t want to end the fast so late at night in case I had some unpredictable GI consequences and the re-feeding really needed to be done in phases. I actually went to a movie on this day… And it was interesting. I hadn’t really left the house since Day 1. I have stairs up to my apartment and even while taking them superrr slowly, I felt a bit sick after getting to the top. I was feeling weak and jello-like.

DAY 6:

Last night was rough. Just breathing is taking effort. At this point, I was very ready to end the fast as I was feeling weaker and more depleted. I ended the fast at 11:30 am with homemade veggie broth. Then had some soup (pureed summer squash) a few hours later, at around 3 pm. Total fasting time about 134 hours.

At this point I had not had a bm since the morning of the first day. I never never go a day without a bm but this makes since while fasting as you’re not eating and your body is focusing on other things. Also started bleeding dark blood during the fast.

RE-FEEDING:

I read that the re-feeding process should take half the time of the total fasting time. So, almost six days of fasting would equal almost three days for the re-feeding process. I started VERY slowly. The last thing you want is to go too fast and your system is overwhelmed. So first up: homemade vegetable broth (I made it the day before so it would be ready). I sipped a few cups of this (heated) and then a few hours later introduced some very basic soup, which I made by blending some yellow summer squash (lightly roasted) and more of the broth. A couple hours after that, boiled carrots (the ones I used to make my broth). I tried to keep my sugar intake in the beginning very low. I figured my body went into ketosis during my fast and decided to try to keep that going as long as I could. I also wanted to make sure I was feeding and rebuilding my good bacteria with everything I consumed post-fast. Basically, I felt this fast was a chance at a clean slate for my entire system, so I wanted to do all the right things and took the reintroduction of foods (and eventually supplements) very seriously. In fact, the over-researcher in me spent a lot of those six days reading everything I could find about fasting and re-feeding. This is also a good time to test for intolerances since you’re already in a process of re-introducing literally everything. Again, this whole process is just as important as that fasting itself.

SPIRITUAL ASPECT:

I think the preparation I took (discussed above), as well as my mindset practices throughout, ended up playing a big role in my healing experience.  I kept all this up throughout the fast. Although I didn’t meditate AS much as I thought I would, I did journal daily (if anything so I could keep up with all my symptoms but often it lead to affirmations and deeper things). You might wonder how someone could get through this. It really is just state of mind. And there is real scientific evidence proving that our thoughts can help us heal! So not including this as part of my fasting journey would have made it less effective (and honestly, I probably wouldn’t have made it that long). I found it very important for my success of this fast to constantly “talk” to my little cells. To imagine them happily moving around inside of me, working to heal everything up. To thank them for working so hard and doing such a good job. I also imagined myself healed and what that would feel like/look like/etc. I paid very close attention to where my thoughts were going. If I spent my time feeling stressed and thinking “wow this is crazy and usual, I should be eating!” my body would have responded to this and anxiety would have followed. But instead, I focused on remaining calm and decided to embrace the process. You’re either fighting the wave or you’re riding it. That perception can lead to either peace (and therefore a chance to heal) or panic (which means more cortisol, which means more inflammation, which is exactly what we’re trying to heal here!)

FASTING AND PAST EATING DISORDERS:

As someone who used to struggle with an eating disorder for many years in my past, I understand this can seem dangerous for some. For me personally, I knew that I’m in a place where this would be entirely okay for me and I was doing it for all the right reasons (giving my body the time to rest and heal itself that it really, really needed). Even without a doubt in my mind in that area, I still made sure to constantly check in with myself and listen to my body throughout the experience. For me, this was way beyond “not eating”. Again, this was a therapeutic water fast and was all about giving my body what it needed to heal.

 

If you’re reading this and are interested in learning more about fasting, I suggest you talk to your doctor (I recommend a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor) and also do your own research on the topic. There is so much out there on the science of it and it’s really incredible what OUR BODIES can do!

And if you have any questions about my personal experience, just let me know.

Happy Healing,

A.

 

Easy Paleo Pumpkin Muffins (no sugar added, high protein)

Anyone else think pumpkin should be a year-round food?! Thankfully, my local Sprouts agrees and always has some cans of organic pumpkin in stock. This Easy Paleo Pumpkin Muffin recipe has no added sugar of any kind, and lots of protein. A perfect breakfast for those of us healing adrenal fatigue naturally.

This recipe serves one. I like to make “muffin tops” using this silicone pan I got on Amazon. When using this pan, it makes 3. I love using the muffin top pan because well, it’s the best part of the muffin. They cook well and you get maximum crispiness which is my fav (also sidenote, this pan is also awesome because it’s very compact and I often travel with it). However if you don’t have a pan like this, the recipe can of course be made using regular muffin cups too!

Easy Paleo Protein Pumpkin Muffins (no added sugar)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pumpkin pie spice (1/2 tsp more or less, depending on how “spicy” you like things)
  • pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • Optional: 1-2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides
  • Optional: Sprouted pumpkin seeds (pictured) or walnuts for on top
  • Optional: Honey if needed for sweetness (with the combo of vanilla, pumpkin and spices, I find I don’t even miss it!)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and spray muffin cups or silicone muffin top pan
  2. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with a fork, then add in pumpkin and vanilla (plus drizzle of honey if you decide to add it), mix
  3. Add all dry ingredients (coconut flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, pink salt) and mix
  4. Pour batter into muffin cups / pan then sprinkle pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top
  5. Bake 15 min or until slightly browned with cracked tops, like photo. Let cool a few minutes before removing from pan. I find the longer I let them cool, the better they taste (If I have the patience to wait that is). My favorite toppings: cashew butter, almond butter, or ghee (especially this Madagascar Vanilla Ghee).

4 months of celery juice – What I’ve noticed (and what about the fodmaps?)

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Okay, I officially joined the Celery Juice Club.

I was a hard convert as I had long-ago labeled celery as “bad” and had completely avoided it for about two years due to celery being “high fodmap” (in amounts larger than 5cm…. which is like one bite). I maintained a diet of very little to no fodmaps for a long time until this spring, when it occurred to me (through symptoms, research and the help of my ND) that at this point, being so restrictive was actually doing more harm than good. In fact, although avoiding fodmaps can do wonders while you’re in the main stage of healing, staying on a low fodmap diet for an extended period of time is actually not recommended by experts (including the experts who initially introduced the low fodmap diet!)

I’m not one to blindly jump on food trend bandwagons (or any trends for that matter as I’m what I like to call a “cautiously aware skeptic”) but I couldn’t avoid all the amazing healing stories about celery juice and decided to try it for myself because, yolo.

Here are some of the advertised benefits:

  1. Lowers Inflammation
  2. Helps lower cholesterol
  3. Prevents or treats high blood pressure
  4. Helps prevent ulcers
  5. Protects liver health
  6. Helps weight loss
  7. Boosts digestion and reduces bloating
  8. Contains anti-microbial properties that fight infections
  9. Helps prevent urinary tract infections
  10. May help protect from cancer

With all of these amazing claims, it felt silly to not at least try celery juice.

I’ve been drinking it almost every morning for over four months now. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

It gives me energy. I haven’t had coffee in a couple years now. I switched to warm water with lemon, which is a nice and comforting routine. But the celery juice really seems to get me going. I noticed it gives me some good balanced energy. I say balanced because it’s a nice, calm, natural energy, which is what I want; not a jittery, cracked-out type of energy like caffeine would give me. I still have the lemon water, but now I have my celery juice first (on an empty stomach to break my fast). It also just makes me feel good in general. Between celery juice and 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, I’m feeling pretty zenned out, grounded and ready to take on my day.

Digestion has been better. Two words: proper elimination. That is the dream and the goal of this game. And celery juice helps make this a reality. This means it also seems to just help my gut in general (again, all roads lead to poop let’s be real). Since starting this routine over four months ago, I’ve seen big improvements in digestive issues overall and notice a difference if there’s a week where I skip a few days (due to traveling and not having access to 100% organic celery juice). The benefits I notice are less bloating, less digestive upset, better digestion of foods, and yes, better elimination. Basically, everything is in better working order. In the last four months I’ve also incorporated intermittent fasting and a rotation diet. These three things together have made a huge impact on my health.

It’s comforting. Most probably wouldn’t call this green, earthy nectar exactly comforting. But yep, I am a creature of habit. I enjoy the daily ritual of getting out the juicer and treating myself to this healing goodness. Yeah, I said “treat”. Because when you’re fueling your body with good stuff you’re treating yourself with love and care. It feels good. And I honestly don’t mind the taste at all, I almost crave the taste now because I know it makes me feel good (and is helping to heal my insides). Missing your morning date with your espresso machine? Try replacing it with this ritual instead. I truly believe when we give our body the good stuff, it’s like a double affect on our health because we also subconsciously appreciate the extra love we’re giving ourselves (there’s actually scientific evidence to prove this).

There is such a thing as too much. I definitely wouldn’t dive into a full giant glass of this stuff right away. It is powerful and you’ll definitely notice a detox effect. Especially if you have a sensitive gut, I’d start small and work up to a full amount (still small glass) like I did.  I actually only need around 4-8 oz to get the job done. And I worked up to that amount slowly.

How to drink it:

I use a masticating (cold/slow press) juicer. I juice about 7-10 celery stalks (about half a “bundle”). Like I said, I worked up to that amount. I started with basically a “shot” to make sure I could handle celery, especially because I hadn’t had it in some time due to being on a low fodmap diet. To get the full benefits, it’s important not to dilute the celery with anything else (cucumber, lemon, fruits, water, etc). Just drink plain, pure celery juice – on an empty stomach before breaking your fast for the day.

So wait, what about the fodmaps in celery juice?

As I said, I cut out all fodmaps for a long time. Doing this helped me. But then I slowly re-introduced foods when I was ready and some healing had taken place. This is actually what experts recommend because a low fodmap diet is not sustainable and not meant to be used forever. Your gut needs diversity. In fact, last year I started seeing a plateau in my healing and some new symptoms coming back. My ND said at this point I was actually being too restrictive and needed to try to re-introduce more variety (Did you know eating the same foods over and over can lead to intolerances? Because of this, since last year, I’ve also been following a rotation diet).

After doing all this, I no longer have issues with these amounts of celery (as you can see, it actually is helping me at this point). I even eat small amounts of garlic now with no issues (whaaaaat?!). I did make sure I was careful to introduce celery very slowly, in small amounts first (this is how it should be done with re-introductions of anything) and still I don’t drink a huge pitcher of it – I drink just the right amount I need to see positive results. All you can do is give your body a break / chance to heal, then test things out and listen to how your body responds. It takes time. See what works for you. My best advice to others on health journeys is to ultimately listen to your own body, and to not take ANY book, diet, or “expert’s” advice as the end-all dogma for your health. Our bodies are so so smart and powerful. And UNIQUE.

Happy Juicing!

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Have you tried celery juice?? What has been your experience?

 

Sources:

Dr. Axe | https://draxe.com/benefits-of-celery/
Medical Medium | http://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/celery-juice

Do Adaptogens Really Work?

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WHY I STOPPED TAKING ADAPTOGENS

You hear a lot of incredible things about adaptogens these days. Especially when you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue and other hormonal issues. These miracles herbs are said to help anyone and everyone with stress responses, because they adapt to your particular needs when taken.

I first learned about adrenal fatigue a few years ago when I was feeling very sick and started researching everything I could about what was going on with my body. This lead me to a lot of information on the power of adaptogens. I immediately ordered some Ashwagandha and Holy Basil online and started taking a small amount, eventually working up to the max suggested dosage. Then after taking some tests with a ND and officially being diagnosed with extreme adrenal insufficiency, I also added Rhodiola to the mix per my doctor’s suggestion.

Initially, they made me feel great. I felt a sense of calm but not tired. I felt focused and  more motivated. They really seemed to help lift me out of my slump and balance things out. Ashwagandha in particular also seemed to be helping with the hormonal layer of stomach fat I had accumulated and couldn’t get rid of. I had no complaints and took my adaptogens daily for the better part of a year. They felt like a necessity for dealing with hormonal issues. I did sometimes back off on the dosage of ashwagandha due to some extra hair growth I believed it was contributing to; but otherwise adaptogens were part of my daily routine.

Until one day, they kind of just stopped working. I suddenly realized if I missed a day, I didn’t feel a difference. So I skipped a few days. Then stopped them completely. Not only did stopping them not seem to affect my mood or energy levels (positively or negatively), but the last few months before I stopped taking them I had been struggling with a rapidly growing stomach again (despite taking the max dosages).

So what’s the deal? Did I become immune to adaptogens?

There’s actually not a TON of information out there about how long to take adaptogens or any potential risks with taking them long term. I have read before that you should rotate your adaptogens, and I assume it’s to keep them effective (I didn’t really do this previously because the above three mentioned are the only ones recommended for me as any mushrooms are a no-go right now). But I’ve also read – probably more often – you must take adaptogens consecutively for a few months to make sure you give them a chance to work properly. I never assumed this meant to then take a break; I thought it just meant you need to give them time before writing them off as ineffective.

It turns out Gaia Herbs does recommend taking breaks from any of their herbal products, which includes adaptogens:

“If an extract is to be used for more than 1 week, then take 6 days on and 1 day off. If an extract is used for more than 6 weeks, then take 6 weeks on and 1 week off, with a day off each week. If an extract is to be used for more than 6 months, then take 6 months on and 1 month off, with a day off each week. The periodic time off from using the herbal extract allows for the full benefit of the herb to be fully integrated into the constitution.

So, I guess the idea here is to take your adaptogens of choice consecutively for six months or so, then take at least a full month off. But notice it’s also recommended to still take one day off each week. This definitely isn’t discussed when we talk about incorporating these herbs.

I think it makes sense to take breaks from any supplement every once in a while. This gives your body a chance to rest and refresh itself (I also took this a step further and recently did a water-only fast where I gave my body a total break from all food and supplements… and it was amazingly healing for me).

Relying on adaptogens

When I first started taking adaptogens, I kind of thought these supplements (and others) would be the biggest solution to my fatigue/hormonal puzzle. But the truth is, there is so so SO much more to all this than supplements alone. This is something that has taken me a long time to fully grasp. If we want to truly heal, it’s vital we address our stress head-on in order to solve the root causes of our messed up stress responses (hormones) in the body. We must change our lifestyle. And look to reprogram our thoughts and emotions. The effects of meditation, yoga, deep breathing, self love and care, forgiveness, letting go of resistance/fear/negativity, good sleep, laughing, and perspective shifts cannot be understated. Diet, supplements and lifestyle all work together to heal. The latter is probably the hardest and most overlooked but the most important.

So, do adaptogens really work? Yes, if you use them right. And when you incorporate them along with diet and lifestyle changes, that’s when the real healing-magic happens.

I’m sure I’ll eventually give adaptogens another go, but for now I’m using some other techniques to deal with stress and heal my hormones.

 

Are you taking adaptogens? What’s your experience with taking them long-term?

 

 

Low Carb, Fruit and Nut Free, Paleo Pancakes

I get it. Restrictive diets are tough man. This recipe is one I’ve developed and continued to adjust during different rotation/elimination/what-the-hell-can-i-eat diets.

It’s gluten free, paleo, fruit free, nut free, low carb, zero sugar of any kind, SCD friendly, and keto friendly.

It can be enjoyed “savory” or “sweet”, with a few ingredient tweaks. The consistency is right on and it holds up perfectly in the pan (I recommend investing in a NON non-stick pan btw).

 

ZERO SUGAR, LOW CARB PANCAKES

Serves 1

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs (or 1 egg and 1-2 egg white(s), depending on your preference/taste)

1/4 cup cooked cauliflower rice (make sure there’s no liquid)

1/2 tbsp coconut flour

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

cinnamon, as much as you’d like

cocao nibs or cocao powder (optional)

 

Directions:

Whisk eggs then mix in cauliflower rice, coconut flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, cinnamon and cocao nibs (these are optional). Cook on a skillet with coconut oil or ghee.

 

Sweentess:

Okay so obviously this isn’t the sweetest pancake ever. However, with an open mind, you can enjoy these and feel like you’re getting a special meal, even on a restrictive diet. It’s also great for people who want to eat eggs but don’t want to eat eggs (as the other ingredients hide the consistency and taste of them). The vanilla extract and cinnamon make for a “sweeter” vibe, especially if they’re topped with some almond butter (or pumpkin seed butter, etc). Adding some cocao powder to the batter if you can eat it right now reallyy takes it up a notch in every way. Vanilla ghee can be used instead of coconut oil in the pan for extra sweet/vanilla flavor. If you’d like, you can also add some warmed berries, coconut shreds, and/or additional cinnamon on top.

 

To make savory pancakes:

Leave out the vanilla and cinnamon (and cocao) and instead add some herbs of your choice or just cook plain. Top with sauteed spinach and bell peppers or roasted broccoli, avocado, green onion.

 

Vegans:

You can try replacing the eggs with chia mix. I haven’t tried it yet but if you do – let me know how it goes!

My Wellness Journey

I’m here to share. My goal is to help other people who feel sick, powerless, tired, confused. Those who are frustrated with their health and the typical western medical advice and are looking for real answers.  You are not alone in this.

About three years ago, I “suddenly” became very sick. My body seemed to be shutting down. It felt like it was attacking itself from the inside. Everything I ate made me super sick to my stomach. I was in my last semester of college and I was not only commuting to classes, but I also had an internship and two more jobs to pay the bills. I could barely keep my eyes open at work or while doing school work. My brain wasn’t working properly. My thoughts were fragmented, slow and unclear. My speech was slurred and I had a hard time verbally communicating the thoughts I did have. My body ached and felt so heavy. It felt like my body weighed a thousand pounds. Just walking around a store felt like hard work and I’d have to take breaks and sit down. I had no idea what was happening.

I put “suddenly” in quotes because at the time, it felt like it came out of nowhere. But looking back now, I see that this was a slow and gradual decline, until finally the stress of that time in my life was enough to finally push my body over the edge to its complete breaking point.

When I started to think about it and become educated, the story of how this all built up goes pretty far. Like birth.

I wasn’t born in the easiest of circumstances health wise. My mother, while pregnant with me, became incredibly ill with a rare blood disease and even had to be quarantined for a month or more. She was under intense treatment (and obviously pumped with a lot of drugs). They told my parents I wouldn’t make it. Then, a few months later, there I was.

When I was 6, my world came crashing down when I realized those burgers and chicken nuggets I was eating came from animals. I immediately became a vegetarian. And it worked because I loved veggies even then… In elementary school peas were my favorite food and I enjoyed taking giant tomatoes to school for lunch and eating them whole like an apple alongside some plain romaine I’d eat out of a baggie as if they were chips (somehow I still had friends). Although I did love me some veggies, I also ate a ton of junk. Donuts, Cheeze it’s, hot pockets, packaged queso, frozen pizzas, little Debbie’s, cheese fries and mozzarella sticks from Sonic, cinnamon buns, sugary coffee drinks, processed fruit juices, processed cereals, spahjetti-o’s, pop tarts. I’d eat a vegetarian hot pocket with some watermelon or carrots (with ranch) on the side and thought that was a healthy meal.  Even as I got older and a little more “health focused” in college (I started working out and wanted to be in good shape), I consumed a TON of grains and soy. When you don’t eat meat and you don’t know better, you usually replace meat with bread or grains of some kind. The things I thought were super healthy blow my mind now.

As a pre-teen, I started popping NSAIDs every single day. I had back pain due to scoliosis that appeared seemingly out of nowhere at 13 and progressed very quickly during an already difficult time in my life. A few months after being diagnosed and turning 14, I had major spinal surgery to correct it (although it was actually so severe that even though it absolutely saved my life, I still have scoliosis today). While weening off the pain killers (that was a pretty dark time in itself), the doctors told me to just replace them with Advil or Aleve every time I felt pain. Actually you’re taught with back pain to take them BEFORE the pain – before it “sets in”. So of course you’re always anticipating pain and it’s not a great cycle to be in. For the next 7 years, I took NSAIDs every. single. day. It became a habit . Gotta get to it before the pain settles in. I started working when I was 16 and my jobs always involved being on my feet. This made by sensitive back sore even more often as I had no strength (I did basically 0 therapy, rehab or stretching) and down went the pills. It never occurred to me that this could be bad or damaging to my body. We’re taught that this is the right thing to do.

I also started drinking the summer before I turned 15 and starting doing some drugs after that. And off and on I’d tweak my back and get a Vicodin and/or muscle relaxer prescription fill from my doctor. After my little injury healed, I’d save up these pills and started abusing them. Along with Benadryl and Nyquil. I would take a frightening amount of these as a form of self harm. And eventually I was prescribed Adderall which I quickly learned makes you lose weight (I also had an eating disorder off and on since I was 13) and also goes great with alcohol (which by this time I was abusing heavily). It was all very, very self destructive. And I guess at this point, I knew that but didn’t care. The truth is this all didn’t slow down until I met my partner. For me personally, it got hard to hide secret drug abuse and an eating disorder when you’re in a loving relationship. Eventually we both grew up together, and the partying slowed down.

Oh, but I kept taking the Advil. Then Advil didn’t work anymore, so I took only Aleve. But then the Aleve didn’t work much anymore, so I took double the dosage. Until finally around age 22-23 I started getting debilitating migraines and didn’t know why. I was scared I had some kind of serious illness or disease and would cry often, not knowing what to do. Until one day after countless hours searching the internet, the google gods suggested it could be NSAIDs. I stopped taking them immediately and the migraines stopped.

I should go back a bit and also mention throughout my entire teen-hood, I was ALWAYS sick. Like, it was a known thing with my teachers and classmates. I had allergies, a small lung capacity and minor asthma. Also I got everything. Lots of bouts of tonsillitis and the flu meant I was on antibiotics at least once a year, usually more. I even got whooping cough one fall. I was given drugs for everything. Not only was I taking the things I’ve already discussed, but I struggled with depression and anxiety and in high school was rotated on many different things for that. I often complained of being very tired all the time and was even (without much thought or testing) put on a dose of narcolepsy medication at one point. No one taught me to look at anything besides popping these quick fixes. I was taught to treat the symptom, not the cause of it. It was literally always “there’s a pill for that.” I was never encouraged to ask questions, or look at my diet or lifestyle in any way.

And when my health “suddenly” collapsed in 2015 at age 23 during an especially stressful time, I wondered how this could happen… lol. I had been slowly killing myself for over ten years.