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Announcing The Paleo Approach Dinner Club E-Book!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a commission. I only affiliate myself with products I believe in and I think are worth the money, since I understand what it’s like to operate on a tight budget!

You guys!

I am thrilled to announce that I have been part of the creation of a collaborative, amazing new e-book, called The Paleo Approach Dinner Club! This genius idea came from Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom) herself, and she invited a bunch of bloggers (me included!) to contribute recipes.

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The e-book provides 12 complete dinner club meals plus two bonus meals – each with five original, delicious recipes created by amazing AIP bloggers just for this book! There are 82 recipes total! In addition to the recipes, the book contains helpful information for starting, organizing, and planning a “dinner club” with 8-10 people – it even has party game suggestions.

The idea is this: each dinner club meal has five recipes, including a main dish, three sides, and a dessert/drink. Each member of your dinner club will prepare one or two recipes or components of the chosen meal. This lets everyone share the load while ensuring a complete meal of healthy, delicious food.

Click here to view more details and to purchase the book!

This e-book is a great resource for the upcoming holidays. You can use it to introduce family and friends who might not follow the Paleo diet to the delicious, filling, and healthy foods you are able to eat while following the autoimmune protocol (AIP). It would also be a fantastic resource for setting up a social event with folks who do follow this lifestyle.

Often times being on a strict diet can feel lonely. This e-book helps fulfill an important part of being healthy – building community!

To get more information and purchase the e-book for $16.99, click here!

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Golden Squash Drop Biscuits

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These beauties look, taste, and smell like buttermilk biscuits: moist on the inside with a little golden crisp on the outside. They’re a lovely, easy way to use up leftover roasted squash and only take a few minutes to whip up and bake.

I plan to try all sorts of iterations, adding garlic and herbs and using different kinds of squash. The squash I used this time was a carnival squash (see photo below), which is orange inside and slightly sweet.

*Edited to Note: Carnival and delicata squash worked well because they have a slightly dry texture. My first batch with butternut + coconut oil became squash pancakes. They still tasted good, but weren’t what I was going for! Butternut with no coconut oil added at all worked well and stayed well formed! See instructions below for working out the best ratio/consistency in the dough.


Golden Squash Drop Biscuits

Servings: Makes 8 small biscuits.

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted squash, cubed
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
Up to 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4  tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Add squash, tapioca starch, baking soda, and salt to a food processor.
4. Process for about 20-30 seconds or until it forms a sticky, doughy, slightly lumpy texture. Don’t over process until smooth or the dough won’t bind together!
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5. If the dough isn’t sticky enough, add a small amount of melted coconut oil and pulse. Check the dough again. Repeat. You don’t want it to be too runny. Here is what mine looked like:
6. Form dough loosely into 1.5 to 2 inch diameter balls.
7. “Drop” onto parchment covered baking sheet.
8. Bake for 15 minutes, until the outside turns golden brown.
9. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Tips:

- Works best with squash that is not overdone and squishy. I cut my squash in half and place cut side up in a baking dish. I add a little coconut oil and roast at 400 for 30-45 minutes. The result is not overdone or over soft. That firmness helps keep the dough from getting too moist.

- If using leftover squash that is cold from the fridge, pop it in the microwave to warm it up. This makes incorporating the oil and starch much easier.

- If you find your dough is too wet (either from squash that is too moist or from accidentally over-processing) and doesn’t stick together, try adding a tablespoon or two of coconut flour. It changes the flavor but may help rescue the batch.

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Zucchini Apple Hash with Chicken and Sage (AIP, Paleo)

Zucchini Apple Hash

Ingredients

serves 1-2

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut flour
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt
1 cup zucchini, shredded
½ cup apple, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded

Directions

1. First, take care of shredding your zucchini and cooked chicken breast, and dicing up your apple and onion.

2. In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour and spices.

3. In a large bowl, toss together shredded zucchini and apple. Drain off any of the excess liquid from the zucchini (after sitting for a few minutes, I definitely had some liquid to drain).

4. Add coconut flour/spice mix to zucchini/apple mixture and toss to incorporate.

5. Heat coconut oil in frying pan over medium-low heat.

6. Add diced onion and cook until soft and carmelized (about 10-15 minutes).

7. Add zucchini/apple/spice mixture and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until apples are soft.

8. Stir in chicken and cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until chicken is hot.

9. Enjoy the taste of fall.

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Two Reviews: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and 28 Days of AIP e-book

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott
This book has been around for a while, so I’m a little late to the party but hey! I’m happy to be showing up now. The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook is written by Mickey Trescott, who blogs at www.autoimmune-paleo.com. She was one of the first resources I found about AIP, and her incredible blog helped me so much in making the decision to try the AIP, so I was thrilled when she gave me a copy of the cookbook to review.

There is no doubt that this book is gorgeous to look at. The photography, layout, and font all bring to mind an idyllic, rustic scene of natural goodness. Each page is simple, uncluttered, and clear. The recipes are straightforward, without unnecessary wording crowding up the page. But the book goes far beyond being pretty: it is a fabulous resource for anyone following an allergen-free diet, at any stage of their journey. For those new to following the AIP, the book opens with the mainstays of the autoimmune protocol diet, including a brief explanation of the AIP, lists of foods to include and exclude, and the food reintroduction process. There are even two, four-week meal plans with shopping lists to help you get started.

For those who have been following the AIP for a while, and feeling bored or stuck in a rut (like me, lately), this book provides a way out through delicious, colorful, nutrient-dense recipes guaranteed to inspire. The book covers basics like bone broth and kombucha, twists on old favorites that are easily missed on the AIP  (like Mayo and Cherry BBQ Sauce, which was a huge hit with my family), and creative ways to keep entree dishes exciting (I made the Garlic Beef and Broccoli this weekend- yum!). There are meals to impress dinner guests (Herb-Stuffed Trout, anyone?) and staples to get you through the week (like Tuna Salad and a variety of ground meat patties). No matter what stage of the AIP process you are in, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook will meet you where you are and make your journey more creative, more tasty, and more nutrient-dense. You can order the cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/The-Autoimmune-Paleo-Cookbook-Allergen-Free/dp/0578135213. 28 Days of AIP 28 Days of AIP by Christina Feindel
Anyone who follows a lifestyle like the autoimmune protocol knows that food can keep you constantly preoccupied with meal planning, grocery shopping, recipe hunting, and food prep. Christina Feindel of www.ACleanPlate.com has harnessed her no-nonsense approach to a healing diet by creating a great resource to help you get out of the kitchen and back to doing what you love. She gave me her new e-book, 28 Days of AIP, to review. The book provides four weeks of meal plans, grocery lists, and links to her recipes at www.acleanplate.com.

At the beginning of the book are some helpful suggestions for adapting the meal plans according to your needs.  The e-book incorporates old favorite recipes from the archives at A Clean Plate (many of which I’ve tried before and loved) and also introduces 8 brand new recipes to add to your repertoire. One of the things I struggle with is getting enough variety into my diet. I find what’s easy and stick to it, sometimes slacking off on focusing on varying my food and nutrients. These meal plans ensure that you’ll get a variety of nutrient-dense foods recommended in The Paleo Approach, including plenty of veggies and organ meats (I am planning to try the liverwurst recipe when I can get my hands on some good grass-fed liver). For anyone feeling overwhelmed by following the AIP or looking for great suggestions for changing up a repetitive routine, 28 Days of AIP is the way to go! Download the e-book at http://www.acleanplate.com/28-days-of-aip/.

Pesto Pasta Salad (AIP)

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Big news, folks! As of last week, my blog has been awarded “The Paleo Approach Approved” badge (see sidebar)! The badge indicates that this blog is a resource which aligns with the recommendations in Sarah Ballantyne’s book, The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. I feel so honored to be a part of the growing Paleo Approach community with a number of other talented bloggers. To view all the TPA Approved resources and blogs (all of which I highly recommend!), visit http://www.thepaleomom.com/tpa-approved

On to the latest recipe! Now that the farmers market is just bursting with fresh produce, I found myself overwhelmed with the amount of zucchini in my fridge. Zoodles  (“zucchini” + “noodles”. Get it?) are a fabulous way to eat it up!

Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients

For Pesto:

1 bunch basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
½ tsp salt

For “Pasta” and Veggies:

3 zucchini
1 carton mushrooms (8 oz), sliced
2 baked chicken breasts, shredded
2 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

First, make your zoodles. If you have fancy tools for doing this, like a spiralizer, great! Use those. If you do not have fancy tools (like me) just use a potato/vegetable peeler. Peel off the skin and discard, then just keep right on peeling the flesh into long strips, straight into a colander. This makes fettuccini-like noodles. Peel until you get to the seeded, inner part of the zucchini. Set seeded part aside. Sprinkle zoodles with salt and set colander in the sink for 20 minutes.

Make pesto. Remove basil leaves from stem. Add basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt to food processor. Process until well-chopped and mixed.

Slice up remainder of zucchini. Heat coconut oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and zucchini. Cook for 10-15 minutes until cooked to your liking. I like mine to start getting a little brown and crispy.

While shrooms and zukes are cooking, squeeze excess moisture from the zoodles (the salt helps draw it out). Once the mushrooms and zucchini are cooked to your liking, add zoodles and cooked chicken to pan and cook for 3-5 more minutes until zoodles are slightly cooked and chicken is warm.

Remove from heat and stir in the pesto. Enjoy hot or cold!

On Swallowing 57 Pills a Day

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Or, “What to Expect When You Visit a Functional Medicine Doctor.”

Well, I did it. I finally made an appointment with a local Functional Medicine Doctor (www.funcionalmedicine.org) to help me work out my persistent issues with inflammation despite almost a year on the Autoimmune Protocol.

For a long time, I’ve had a sort of fairy tale fantasy of what visiting a functional medicine doctor would be like. In my mind, the doctor would sit and listen for hours about every pain I’d ever experienced, every round of antibiotics, every digestive anomaly. They would pat me on the back for all the work I’ve been doing to heal with diet and who would provide a clear answer as to the reason I am still struggling with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. The reality was a little different.

The Initial Appointment
I met with Dr. M to discuss my current symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle factors. He did indeed want to talk in detail about my medical history. He was quiet, yet knowledgeable and decisive about where to go from there. 

Test Results
Dr. M suggested I order two tests – one blood test for zonulin (which would tell us if I have leaky gut – read more about that here) and an organic acids test that looks for yeast/bacteria in an effort to solve my digestive mystery (which involved FedExing my pee to Kansas!). It was so helpful to be given a narrow list of tests to get, since I’ve often gotten lost down the Google rabbit-hole researching the multitude of tests I should get.

I tested positive for zonulin, indicating that I, after 9 months on a gut healing diet, STILL have a leaky gut, and I had elevated yeast presence as well. While frustrated that my gut hadn’t healed after all this time on my diet, I reasoned that I was still on hormonal birth control for 7 of those 11 months. Before that, I was on daily NSAIDS for 2 years and several rounds of Prednisone. As those medications likely contribute to leaky gut, then I can understand why it might be a problem. I can’t help but wonder if my current remaining medication, Plaquenil, is contributing as well but there is no research on it that I can find.

Diet
His recommended diet was basically exactly what I’ve been doing: healthy fats such as olive and coconut oil, pasture-raised meats and fish, and 9-12 cups of vegetables per day, with an emphasis on eating a variety of colors to ensure a variety of micronutrients. He recommended keeping carbs at 100 grams per day (to help fight yeast overgrowth), which I naturally tend to fall right around. He recommended adding back nuts and seeds (which I’ve successfully reintroduced some varieties of), and he is a big proponent of juicing and smoothies, which I incorporate occasionally. 

Supplements
Doctors prescribe medicine, functional medicine doctors prescribe further testing and LOTS of supplements. I was somewhat prepared for this, but nothing could be prepare me for being told to take 57 pills a day, plus a powder and two liquid supplements. These supplements include: herbal anti-fungals to kill off the yeast overgrowth in my gut; digestive support in the form of probiotics and digestive enzymes; gut healing supplements like L-Glutamine, MSM, and others; and key vitamins and anti-oxidants to help support my body’s ability to detoxify. The financial cost is enormous, and I can’t yet tell you how far into the future it will be financially sustainable for me. However, it helped to have someone knowledgeable about supplement quality recommend certain brands and look at my specific health history to recommend dosage. It took the guesswork out of buying and taking supplements helter-skelter.

Next Steps
The beauty of functional medicine is that you dig deep in search of the root cause of your illness. However, there seems to be no end to the depths which to dig to. One round of tests provides some answers that call for another round of tests. You can test for this gene defect (MTHFR) and these food sensitivities (IgG test) … but oh, if you have toxic levels of these heavy metals, then you’ll likely not improve even if you address those other factors. It’s really frustrating to start on the path for answers, learn which way you could take to get them, and then have to choose from a list of tests because you can’t afford all of them. Also, it’s hard to get good information about which tests are truly effective. I am still trying to research and prioritize what (if any) further testing I would like to do.

Results So Far
Though the doctor said it might take months to see real progress, since starting this supplement regimen three weeks ago, I have seen a number of improvements. My digestion has been the best it’s been since starting the AIP last August (though I have been experiencing some nausea and lack of appetite after taking my pills in the AM) and I’ve felt a surge of energy and a lightening of my mood.  My acne has calmed down.  My joint pain and inflammation has decreased quite a bit since my recent flare, and pain/stiffness is much improved.

The improvements so far are encouraging – especially that of my emotional wellbeing, which makes such a difference in the way life looks. So, though the reality of following this functional medicine plan means swallowing my weight in supplements, I’ll continue to pursue it and look forward to further improvement.

Feel free to ask me anything about this experience in the comments!

On Fire

Vermilion Lake Fire

When I worked for the MN Conservation Corps, my crew was trained to fight wildfires. One day in May, when we were staffing for fire in the northern MN town of Tower, were assigned to our first fire. All the training, all the waiting, and finally we were driving toward a small fire in a group of red pines near a new development. The fire was less than an acre, but we didn’t  care. We were just proud to be getting some soot on our clean, rookie fireproof shirts. Our job was to head in with hoses and tools and spray out remaining flames and douse any hotspots. This is called “mop-up,” and it can be a tedious process.

I quickly learned that there is so much more to fire than open flame. Even after all visible flames were out, the fire burned deep in the roots of trees and reached hot fingers into the earth.

Our crew was being mentored by a seasoned local firefighter named Ron. After two full days mopping up the fire, he took us back to the site again. The forest floor was charred and black, torn up by our thorough work digging at stumps and roots, looking for heat. All appeared to be quiet, but Ron knew better. He told us scatter around the area and kneel down. He said to engage all our senses and just wait. We were looking for smoke: little puffers that might tell of a hidden hotspot underground or tangled in the roots of some tree.

Sitting in the still forest, trying to be fully aware and present, we fell into a meditative silence. It didn’t seem possible that after scouring the area for two days that any fire could still remain. And yet after a few minutes of quiet, I caught the scent of something besides the smell of wet ash: smoke. The different smells were barely distinguishable from each other, and if I hadn’t been focused and still, I might’ve missed it. It took me several moments of staring at the ground and sniffing around me to spot the little puff of white smoke curling up from a black stump about ten feet away.

I feel like my struggle with my autoimmune disease has begun to mirror this story. I’ve been eating a strict healing diet for nine months now. I’ve used the big foundations of diet, sleep, and stress management to quash the open flames of rheumatoid arthritis. There have been some great improvements and some setbacks, the most recent being a discouraging flare up of inflammation in my joints.  I feel as though I am walking through the blackened pine stand again, looking for the missing piece. It might not be an obvious flame, but instead is like a puff of smoke or a pocket of hidden heat deep in the moss. I need to get quiet, kneel down, and engage all my senses to find where and why the fire still smolders.

There are numerous clues and possible answers, so I’ve engaged the help of a functional medicine doctor. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I finally found the doctor I wanted to see and worked out my finances to allow me to go. I am anxiously awaiting test results and am hoping they provide some clear direction of what to do next.