Saturday Fun Supper Ideas (AIP)

Saturday evening used to be party time at our house.  We would pull out the air popper and make glorious bowls of buttery popcorn!  We would slice apples and make caramel dip out of blocks of cream cheese.  Ahhh.  What to do?!?  Yesterday we came up with some fun foods and a fun way to eat them. Tim had set up his grandpa’s electric train in the play room, so we sat around the choo-choo with our platters and toothpicks in hand.  We had a jolly little supper together!


Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. antibiotic-free bacon

3 black plantains

Olives (can/jar from refrigerator)

Sea Salt (I like Selina brand – very nutritious and helpful for exhausted adrenals.  I found Selina grey sea salt for just $1.99 per pound at our new Fresh Market this week!)

 

Instructions

1.)  I fried the bacon in my new electric skillet (it makes it so much easier, because it’s square.)  I put the bacon on a plate and covered it with a paper towel.  Normally I would’ve put it in the oven on “warm” but I felt too lazy to go to that much work.

2.)  With the skillet still medium hot, I added the sliced plantains.  I let them cook for a few minutes until they were gloriously browned and ready to flip for an even tanning.  They soaked up most of that glorious bacon fat.  Sizzle-sizzle YUM!  We like that caramelized gooiness, with just a touch of crispy/chewy on the outside.

3.) Open the can/jar of olives and rinse, placing on a paper towel to dry.  If you’re feeling creative, set the olives in the shape of a smiley face or heart.  Put it all on a tray with your favorite sea salt shaker (and lots of love) and take ‘er to the party room.  And WALAA, we had supper!

Obviously this isn’t rocket science.  But it was big to us.  Since we are new to this lifestyle, it is important to retain the fun.  Eating the plantain with toothpicks was fun, and fingers worked great for the bacon.  And who can possibly resist putting black olives on fingers as finger puppets?

 

What are your new fun foods?  Please do share in the comments below! 🙂

 

Coconut Indian Chicken Spaghetti (AIP – Crockpot)

I miss Indian food.  So, I am coming up with my own variations!  This flavorful recipe hit the spot for me, and I hope it will for you, too.  It serves a family of 6, with leftovers if little people are involved.

 

Ingredients

Spaghetti squash

8-10 chicken thighs (boneless)

1 can full fat coconut milk

Sprinkles to taste of: ginger, coriander, cumin seed, and salt.

Optional: bag of frozen cauliflower

Instructions

1.) Bake the spaghetti squash at 350 degrees until cooked – about 45 – 60 minutes. (You can bake this ahead of time, putting the cooked squash into a pan with cover and refrigerating until you’re ready to rewarm it.)

2.) Place chicken (and cauliflower, if you wish) in a square pan (no need to grease).  Combine coconut milk with spices and pour over chicken.   Cover with foil – place in a 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours, OR place in a crockpot on low for 6 hours, high for 3 hours.  Stir halfway through and toward the end break it up into smaller pieces (will fall apart by itself).  I like to uncover and broil it at the end, but that’s just me.

3.) About 30 minutes before serving, put the cooked spaghetti squash pan in the oven to warm (if you cooked it ahead of time).

4.)  Serve the chicken gravy over the spaghetti squash – delish!  (Don’t forget to add the love!) 🙂

Tuna “Noodle” Casserole (AIP)

When eating the auto-immune protocol way, I never take delicious food for granted.  Today I thank God for giving me a fantastic idea for lunch.  It actually tasted like tuna noodle casserole from my former food life.  This is enough for four people and is a great way to use leftover cabbage, squash and lard.


Ingredients
Bacon grease (3 Tbsp)
1/4 cup leftover squash (any kind)
2 cans tuna, drained
About 5 cups of leftover purple cabbage (chopped into strips and cooked until slightly limp in a bit of olive oil)  cold from the frig
Onion salt to taste

Instructions
1.)  Leave leftover bacon grease in the pan after breakfast.
2.) At lunch reheat the lard, add in cans of tuna (drained) and crumbled up squash. Stir it around a bit until slightly browned and crisp.
3.)  Add cooked cabbage “noodles”  cold from the frig.
4.) Top with onion salt and love!  Enjoy!

Cape Cod Chowder (AIP)

I told Tim we would have baked cod for supper, and he was cool with that.  But, later on, I was wishing for cod in a different form: chowder!  The days are getting cooler and a hot bowl of chowder sounded like it would hit the spot.  It did!  So, I am going to share my recipe with you.  I just threw whatever sounded good in the pot and my whole family begged for more.  Tim commented (with obvious relief) that it didn’t taste fishy.

This soup could be used as a base for any other cream soup – you could add mushrooms, chicken, carrots, celery, etc.  It is nutritious, calming, and smoothly delicious … in contrast to the tempestuously beautiful place for which it was named.  I love the rugged elegance of Cape Cod and treasure a jar full of shells we collected when we were there.

There is enough here for two meals for four people (two grownups and two kids).  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 bag frozen cauliflower

1/2 large onion, chopped into small chunks

2 TBSP bacon lard

2 cod fillets (barely thawed)

1 cup chicken broth

6 cups filtered water

1 bay leaf

2 pickled asparagus (or other pickled vegetable) chopped into small pieces (optional)

3/4 cup coconut milk

salt to taste

4 slices of bacon, cooked

green onions, chopped

 

Directions

1.) Warm medium-large sized pot on the stove and melt the lard.

2.) Add the cauliflower and chopped onion.  Stir every once in awhile until turning golden brown.

3.) Cut the cod into small chunks with kitchen shears and add to the pot, stirring for about one minute.

4.) Pour in the chicken broth, 6 cups water, chopped asparagus (or other flavor of) pickles, and the bay leaf.  Cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

5.) Add the coconut milk and salt.  Beat with immersion blender (or pour in blender) until almost pulverized (just a few remaining chunks).

6.) When warmed through again, ladle into bowls and top with chopped green onion and bacon bits.

7.) Remember to add the love and serve!  Enjoy.

God’s Stop Signs – My Allergy Elimination Diet and a Journey to Better Health (body, mind, spirit)

How was your summer?  I hope it was a great one! 

Our summer schedule looked inviting … with just the right amount of busy. But as soon as it started, it was a struggle. By the beginning of June I felt like I. couldn’t. move.  I had been sick for a few weeks and couldn’t snap out of it.   I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted a doctor friend of mine to see what she would suggest.  She lives about 45 minutes away but she said she could help me (has gone through it herself and has helped many women like me). 

Beginning of Diagnosis

After lots of paperwork and a lengthy interview (it is a gift to have a doctor who really cares and listens!), she began treating me according to my symptoms and as the result of many tests which gave clues as to what was going on with me:

Insulin resistance (the step before pre-diabetes), leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, vitamin D and B deficiencies, possibly an auto immune disease (maybe Hashimoto’s or Pernicious Anemia), environmental and food sensitivities.

After pigging out on my last box of Cheez-Its, I immediately began an allergy elimination diet: no dairy, no grains, no fruit (except lime and lemon), no nuts, no vinegar (I was taking Braggs apple cider vinegar daily, but she thought it might cause candida issues), no nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peas, potatoes, peppers, beans (except green), pimentos, paprika – there is a good post to explain this here.), no sweetener (not even stevia).  Doc said that anything that tastes sweet affects insulin, so that includes most fruit and even stevia.

You might ask, “What’s left?!”  The good news is that I could have: grass fed/antibiotic free meat, fish, most veggies, and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, pure coconut milk/cream, olive oil). 

After a month of eating just the list I mentioned, I was able to begin adding in one food at a time.  Dr. Laura wanted me to introduce a food, wait three days (because there can be a delayed reaction) and reintroduce the food and wait another three days.  Assuming everything goes well, that adds up to one new food each week.  Knowing this wouldn’t be a quick fix, I asked Doc, “So will I be feeling much better in a few months?”  To which she replied, “A year and a half.”  God help me!!

Symptoms

Some friends ask, “What were your symptoms?”  It’s easier to say, “You name it!” because there were so many.  But, I will take time to list many of them right here and now:
  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Foggy brain (can’t think straight and feel like there is something blocking my brain)
  • Itchy rash over most of my body
  • Insatiable cravings for sugar and carbs
  • Sudden and uncharacteristic outbursts of anger (especially after I ate sugar and gluten) – most of the time I would leave the room or suppress it, but sometimes I yelled at my kids
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dimming eye sight
  • My whole body ached most of the time
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing eyes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing deeply
  • Irregular cycles
  • Fingernails falling apart
  • Barely able to keep up with basic household duties
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Apathy
  • Arthritic pain in my hands
  • Numbness at times in my hands and feet
  • Sharp pains in my chest
  • Headaches
  • Inability to remember things
  • Crying and feelings of hopelessness
  • Stomach pain and trouble digesting food
  • Three miscarriages
  • Inability to be in crowds of people for very long
  • Thinning hair
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Etc.

Over the past few years I had gone to doctors and had only been diagnosed as gluten sensitive.  I knew there was more wrong with me, but nobody could figure it out.  Dr. Laura ordered an extensive blood test, urine test, and stool test (still need to do the saliva test).  The reason she thinks that I may have an auto-immune disease is because my symptoms are common to it and because many of my symptoms fell into opposing categories: for example, I had some strong hypo-thyroid symptoms, as well as definite hyper-thyroid symptoms.

My Menu

The first two months were so hard, as I detoxed from sugar and tried to adjust to eating differently.  To give you an idea of what I eat, here is a list of what a few days of meals looks like for me:

B: bacon, yellow squash

L: Lettuce, leftover chicken, olive oil

S: Coconut chicken: Chicken baked with a can of coconut cream, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt … on top of spaghetti squash

B: Bacon, cauliflower, olive oil

L: Purple cabbage, sausage (I take a lb. of ground pork and add a tsp. of each: nutmeg, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt
)
S: Hamburger wrapped in lettuce with tomato, bacon, sweet potato fries

B: Sausage, canned asparagus, olive oil

L: Kale, bacon

S: Homemade spaghetti sauce (once I could eat tomatoes) over spaghetti squash

B: Spinach/arugula mix, chicken, olive oil

L: Tilapia, salad steamed veggies, o.o.

S: Ham, canned green beans, o.o., basil, oregano

B: X

L: Salmon, yellow summer squash, o.o., coconut oil

S: Chicken, tarragon, brussel sprouts, olive oil

B: Chicken, zucchini, avocado, tarragon

L: Pork chop, lettuce salad, olive oil with lime, tarragon

S: Sausage, acorn squash, coconut oil

I try to cook the same for my family, simply adding a pot of rice, noodles, or biscuits for them to enjoy.

Reintroductions

I’ve been able to add back in: macadamia nuts, blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes.  Blessings!  I’ve had a bad reaction to eggs, almonds, and of course gluten.  I am VERY SAD about the eggs.  We get free-range organic eggs from an Amish farmer, and my body does not like them.  I’m still trying to accept this fact and be grateful for the foods I can eat.

Doc said it can take three months to get dairy out of your system, so on September 19th I will be able to try grass-fed butter.  PRAYING that it works for me.  If so, I will get to try goat cheese and then yogurt.  It would be lovely to be able to enjoy these foods, if God says it’s okay.

Blessings and Road Blocks

God helped me take the boys to VBS in July.  That was a huge praise!  Forty-five minutes drive twice a day – God helped me do it, plus play the piano three times each day.  But, while Tim and the boys were camping for a few days, I got violently ill and had to be taken to the ER by my neighbor.  We still don’t know what caused that problem.

And since then we’ve figured out that something in our church building might be making me sick.  One Sunday night on our way home, after spending most of the time in the church basement, I felt like I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop crying, and could barely talk.  Tim had to help me into the house to my bed.  If I spend much time in the basement it seems worse.  So, for right now I am staying upstairs in the church building. Sigh. 

God wants me to slow down and change some things.  We weren’t able to go to family camp, and for that matter we can’t go very far from home at all right now.  I don’t know what He’s doing, but I can trust that it is good.

While I have seen relief from many of my symptoms, at times I feel very depressed.  I don’t have as much energy as I hoped I would have at this point.  There are good days and bad days.  I’ve definitely spent more time studying and listening to God’s Word.  I’ve asked God to help me, and He has sent people to encourage, show they care, and pray with me and for me.  It means SO MUCH to have a friend call just to see how I’m doing. 

He has also helped me locate a Christ-centered program to help me deal with my mind: 21 Day Brain Detox. I so appreciate Dr. Leaf.  She has the science combined with God’s word to explain how to Romans 12:1-2 – renew your mind.

What I’ve Been Learning

1.  Food was my idol. I’m still trying to fill in the gap that has been left by withdrawing my time, energy, and excitement (and pleasure of tasting and eating) trying new recipes and cooking fancy delicacies for my family.  I’ve been spoiled, and it is extremely sad when I cannot go out to eat or even to an ice cream stand.  God has taken this out of my priority list so that He is nearer the top!  Food is very much tied to socializing in our culture.  I already knew this, but it stands out even more now. It is challenging to meet with people and always having to bring my own food.  There are only two restaurants that are safe for me to go to (with no risk of cross contamination). 

2.  There is so much about the body we don’t understand.  I also knew this, but since nutrition and health have been my hobby for a few years, I had read tons of books on the subject.  And through this process I’ve been learning so much and know I have only scratched the surface learning about God’s incredible creation.  How could anyone believe all this evolved?!

3.  Don’t fight what God is doing.  A couple nights ago I was in such turmoil during the night (typical, but it had been escalating).  God lovingly showed me that I was angry with Him about my health, about my food limitations, and a few other things.  It is, of course, sin, to accuse Him of doing to me what living in this world cursed by sin has done to my body and mind.  Once I confessed my anger and He forgave me, I felt relief and relaxation drench my soul.  God has allowed this for a reason – a very good reason.  He knows that I need this experience to grow.  I am so thankful I can trust Him to go through this with me.

4.  My body likes eating this way Once a month had passed and my metabolism switched to fat burning instead of carb burning, my weight began to drop.  In about nine weeks I had lost 17 lbs.  It feels so good to be where I’ve wanted to be weight-wise for years!  Doc said this is not uncommon once you figure out a person’s food sensitivities and heal their gut.  I’m hardly ever hungry (don’t have that “gotta eat something”  hanging over me all day long).  I no longer feel like I need to sleep after each meal (not that I did sleep after every meal, but I felt like it).  It is wonderful to be able to let go of the extra weight in my life (not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual!) and to have a more focused view on God and what is most important in life.

5. There are many worse things in the world, but this is hard.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a prison.  I can’t take a break.  I cannot have a once a day treat, or a once a week treat, or even a once a month treat!!!  The first month I felt like I could kill for a piece of chocolate cake.  Thankfully no one was maimed.  And God has been graciously adjusting my taste buds, so I rarely weep over where I find myself.  Also, I have to remember, this will get better.  But, I must get used to a new normal.  I will never go back to how I was eating before.  At least once a week I think ahead to the marriage feast of the Lamb – and I am going to savor every bite (when I get there, no doubt the importance of food will fade even more in His presence)!

6.  Love.  Tim and the boys know that I love them when I make food for them that I used to enjoy.  They have shown such love and compassion!  Sometimes they hug me when I can’t hold back the tears, like last night when they had buttered popcorn and frozen yogurt.  They hugged me and told me how much they love me.  And when we sat down to watch Facing the Giants I knew I was loved while I munched on my sweet potato and bacon (which, by the way, was very satisfying).

7.  It helps to laugh The other night I was in Barnes and Noble, pouring over the healthy cookbooks.  I felt like crying because there were still so many things in THOSE that I can’t eat.  A man sitting nearby was groaning audibly as he looked in several diabetes cookbooks.  At one point he cried out in despair, “Bean patte?!?”  When I came home and told Tim about it, he understandingly replied, “And you felt like saying to him, ‘I would love to have bean patte!’”  Sometimes when I feel so discouraged, it is as though Jesus puts His arms around me and gently reminds me, “Sara, I never got to eat pizza, ice cream, or chocolate either.”  And we laugh together – awww, He is such a comfort!

What Now?

For those of you who are going through much harder things, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I do know that God has a plan for your life as well as mine, and we can trust Him!  Wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to get a diagnosis, pop a pill, and be all well?  Or maybe for you … to find a husband, to have a child, to see wayward family members come to Christ, to get relief from your grief, to get money to pay those bills, and be all better?  God is constantly using the struggles of life for one purpose: to draw us to Himself.  And when He has our attention we can either fight back and reject the priceless lessons He is trying to teach us, or accept and draw near to Him.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing in months – so, maybe this is a sign I am healing?  I hope that what I am writing makes sense.  I write to answer the many questions my small circle of family and friends have asked me, and in case my scribblings about all this may help someone in similar circumstances.

Please contact me if you would like information about resources.  I’d recommend you begin with the book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg.  This book is informative and well documented.

I would love to hear from YOU.  And until next time … will you please enjoy a bowl of ice cream for me (better yet, pray for me)?

Joyfully His,
Sara

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26