Friday, January 30, 2015

Daily Dose of Encouragement: Faith and Surrender

There comes a time in one's journey to find healing that the question arises, "will I ever get better?"  As someone who deals with the effects of chronic Lyme on a daily basis, I personally can attest to how difficult it is to address this question head on.  Truly, even before one gets a diagnosis, it is finding true health that is the ultimate goal.  Yet, as weeks turn into months, and months into years, the sense that healing is possible becomes depleted.  Frustrated with the painful symptoms that just won't let up, and hopeful that for once, a doctor will somehow figure out what is wrong and know how to fix it, easily overtakes the once hopeful outlook on life.  We get sad, mad, and fed up all at the same time, and can't seem to understand why God would allow things to go on for so long.  Ultimately, we don't know how the journey of our illness will end, whether we will be able to be healthy once more, or if this state of weakness and inability to live like a "normal" human being will always overtaking our body.  It is only natural to feel discouraged by this, however, there is another way we can view this uncertainty of events, and that is with faith and surrender.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying to give up on finding treatment and mechanisms to help your condition, but rather, accept what God has in store with a willing heart, regardless of the outcome.  Though we should always remain optimistic and hopeful for healing, realizing that there is a possibility that getting back to feeling "normal" may not be reality.  Yet, if this is the case, than we need not succumb to how depression it may seem from a physical standpoint, but realize that it may just be the way God is using us to our fullest.   Never once are we left hopeless and without help, as just like the unchanging nature of our illness, God's promises remain.  It is not to say that we should stop asking Him for healing, but rather, change our perception on what His answer will be.  Is the overall goal of praying to simply get what we think we need to survive,  or is it to truly find out what God has in store for our lives, regardless of His answer?

God says that He will never leave us or forsake us, will always give us strength and love through all things, as well as peace, wisdom, and contentment, even when life is crashing in.  Ultimately, even if we remain sick, God is using it to bring out the best in our life.  Though being healthy might seem like the best way to live life in man's eyes, God is bringing you through this illness as a way to bring out your maximum potential in life.  Without this illness, the perfect plan that was in store for you ever since birth, would be incomplete.  Therefore, despite whether or not God brings true healing, He is right there with you, helping you, and directing your every move. I am not going to lie, being sick for a lifetime can make anyone want to cry, as I myself have dealt with the overwhelming feeling of despair that comes along with the mere thought.  Yet we must remember that God didn't give us, His very children, trials in life to go through on our own, but rather so that He could prove His everlasting goodness in and through us.  Regardless of if you have a chronic illness or not, life will always be what we don't expect, simply because it is ultimately not directed by our doing.  Therefore, viewing a chronic illness as an inconvenient, horrible, and impossible endeavor, ultimately takes away from the blessings that God has in store through that time.  He is not being cruel, no, He is simply fulfilling His promises, and giving you the tools you need to succeed in life.  Even if the healing does not come, God is faithful, and we can be confident that it is through a given chronic illness that we can become all that we were meant to be.  In the end, all that we must do is surrender and be open to the truly amazing, limitless plans that God has in store, regardless of how they fit our earthly framework.  If you are having trouble dealing with the debilitating daily symptoms like myself, I encourage you to cry out to God, because He is there ready and waiting to help you walk boldly and conquer the life He has in store.  In the end, a lifetime of surrender and hardship is far out weighed by the glorious eternity in heaven that we will spend with our Savior if we simply believe.  

Matthew 26:39 "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paleo Roasted Bone Marrow With Endive Salad (AIP)

Bone marrow -  it is simple to prepare, succulent to the taste, and overall, just plain heavenly. 

Typically, when I am having bone marrow for my meal while guests are over, the act of a teenage girl sitting down to the dinner table with large bones on her plate is a bit comedic.  However, despite it seeming a bit odd, have you ever looked at a menu from a gourmet restaurant?  One of the top appetizers is roasted bone marrow, and there is a clear reason for that, yet most people are too scared of to find out. 

Outside of the amazing taste that bone marrow has, there are a slue of health benefits that make eating the tissue from the inside of grass-fed bones completely worth including in your weekly meal plan.  For starters, it is rich in many essential nutrients, including calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, anf magnesium, all of which help strengthen the bones and connective tissue in our body. Bone marrow is typically described as the sponge-like tissue from the inside of animal bones, however, we as humans have marrow in our own bodies as well.  Therefore, the collagen, gelatin and Chondroitin Sulfate that is present in a given animal to aid in the building block of their cells,  ultimately has the same effects on our bodies when we eat it as well. Outside of organ meat, bone marrow from grass-fed cows has to be one of the greatest health boosts you can do for your body, and what is even better, is that its taste matches the health benefits associated with it, making it very easy to take the leap and begin eating.

Roasted Bone Marrow with Endive Salad
Print Recipe
(Serves 1-2)
  • 3, 4-6 inch long beef marrow bones
  • 2 cups chopped endive (from 2 small heads, or 1 medium size) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped jicama  
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley 
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lime - juiced
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place marrow bones in a rimmed baking dish and roast for 20-30 minutes, until bubbling.
  • While the bones are cooking, prepare salad by chopping endive into 1/2 inch slivers.
  • Chop parsley, green onion, and toss together with chopped endive in a medium sized mixing bowl. 
  • Juice lime over the bowl, and toss salad with lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.
  • Remove bones from the oven once cooked and allow to cool slightly before removing the bone marrow with a long, skinny utensil. *I use an olive fork
  • Serve marrow a long side endive salad for a refreshing and energizing meal.  

Mark 9:35 "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Paleo Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake Muffins (AIP Friendly)

Sure, entomophagy (the act of eating insects) may sound a bit disgusting at first.  After all, most people in today's industrialized world did not grow up on grandma's specialty of "cricket noodle soup."  Yet as the pit falls of conventionally raised animal protein sources slowly begin to prove dangerous to the human race, the need for food justice inevitably rises.  Not only that, but supporting farmers committed to providing sustainable, safe, and real-food products also becomes very important.  This does not only apply to vegetables and meat, but also insects, yes insects, a food delicacy that has continually sustained more than half of the worlds population for decades. 

In the beginning, my family was not so keen on me baking with cricket flour.  In fact, the first time I got some my mother actually made me keep it in my room instead of the kitchen, as she claimed it gave her the "heebie-jeebies."  I on the other hand, have always seen cricket flour from the total opposite end of the spectrum, as just another way I can maximize nutrient density in my diet.  That being said, because of the repulsive nature that my family and friends had against the innocent flour that they had never even tried, I made it my goal to trick them into eating some without ever knowing.  Overall, I am happy to say that I succeeded, and not only that, but I got my mother excited about having things to eat made with cricket flour, some of them being my cinnamon graham crackers, raw fig newtons bars, and another, these blueberry muffins.

Of course, having my mother as a taste tester is very very helpful in knowing if a recipe is a success.  Though she eats 90% Paleo, she does not have any allergies or health complications, and can eat "regular," gluten, dairy, and egg filled baked goods without any ailments.  Therefore, having her critic any recipe that I make allows me to guarantee whether or not the flavor and texture of a dish is spot-on.  Overall, these muffins were voted to be amazing, and quickly got gobbled down every time that I made them.  As a note, if you are looking to eat them in the days after baking them off, make sure to store then in the fridge, and heat up in tinfoil in the oven before eating.  This allows the juices to get flowing from whole-food ingredients used, and makes them all the more tasty.  My friends and family enjoyed theirs both slathered with butter as part of their breakfast, as well as a late afternoon snack.  That being said if these cricket-filled muffins can win over my family, I am sure they will win over yours as well! After all, who can resist a blueberry muffin? For those of you wondering about ingredient substitutions, be sure to scroll down to the end of the recipe for my notes.  

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake Muffins
Print Recipe
(Makes 8 Muffins) 
Muffin Ingredients
Streusel Topping
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Place pitted dates in a small heat proof bowl, allowing to soak in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Grease your muffin tin with desired oil and set aside for later use.
  • While the dates are soaking, peel, measure, and puree plantain and banana together until smooth.
  • Add in softened dates, apple sauce, palm shortening, and cinnamon, pureeing until smooth.
  • Next, add cricket and tiger nut flour, grain free baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Allow the flour to become fully incorporated with the wet ingredients.
  • Remove the food processor blade and fold in blueberries.
  • Scoop muffin batter into greased muffin tin (or) muffin liners.
  • Back in the food processor, pulse together streusel topping ingredients.
  • Once mixed, crumble on top of muffins, place in the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for another 30 minutes before popping out of the muffin tin.
Recipe Notes
To make grain-free baking powder, combine 1 tbsp of baking soda, 2 tbsp cream of tartar, and 2 tbsp tapioca starch in a sealable container and use as needed in place of regular baking powder. 
If you can have nuts, substituting tiger nut and cricket flour for all almond flour works great.
Substituting all tiger nut flour also works in place of the cricket flour.
Cutting the recipe in half makes for a perfect 4 muffins if you do not want the full amount. 
For a certified organic, non-GMO source of cricket flour, visit Next Millennium Farms. 
To make coconut free, simply use all banana chips in the topping. 

John 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Paleo Herbed Chicken Liver Pate (AIP)

This pate is incredibly simple, so much so that that I am having a hard time coming up with what to say about it.  After creating my Asian Beef Liver Pate recipe, I decided to mimic a more traditional pate recipes using fresh herbs.  However, because I can not tolerate onions and garlic due to the FODMAP content, I decided to use leek greens to give a similar flavor profile.  Using the green part of a leek stalk is easily becoming one of my favorite ingredients this winter, as I am also enjoying them roasted with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Much like green onions, the white part of the leek is the only section high in fructose, making the greens a perfect, Low-FODMAP alternative. Overall, not only are the ingredients for this pate easy, but it is also super quick to create, as I simply sauteed the liver at breakfast, and then ran everything through the food processor before lunch. Whether served on plantain crackers, lettuce wraps, or your favorite raw vegetable, this herbed chicken liver pate is a great way to enjoy a boost of nutrients.  

Herbed Chicken Liver Pate
Print Recipe
  • 1 lb chicken liver
  • 1/4 cup chicken fat + 1 tbsp for cooking
  • 1/2 cup leek greens - chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp bone broth
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Place two tbsp of chicken fat into a medium sized skillet, and het on medium-low heat.
  • Rinse and pat dry your chicken livers, placing in the pan once hot.
  • Cook chicken livers for 5-7 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle.
  • Once cooked, allow to rest while preparing the herbs.
  • In a food processor, pulse together leek greens, sage, thyme, and sea salt.
  • Add in chicken liver and chicken fat, until fully incorporated. 
  • With the food processor running, pour in bone broth and vinegar, allowing to mix until the pate has become smooth.
  • Scoop pate in desired serving dishes and place them in the freezer to chill for at least 3 hours (or) over night.
Recipe Notes
Any animal fat can be substituted for the chicken fat, though the mild flavor of chicken fat marries the herbs together best. 

Isaiah 40:29 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Paleo Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef (Soy and Coconut Free)

It was a Thursday, which could only mean one thing - dinner recipe development.  Typically, my mother is in charge of making dinner for my younger brother and father.  However, because Thursday is the day that she works, I always try and make something so that she does not have to try and cook when she gets home.  Much like my Chicken Curry Soup, this dish comes together in a slow cooker, allowing me (or anyone making it for that matter) to conserve energy and not be a total wreck when everyone gets home from work.  I am also particularly proud of this recipe because it mimics that of a tradition Mongolian beef recipe, yet does not contain and soy or coconut ingredients.  Instead of soy sauce, or the Paleo alternative Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, I chose to use a bit of molasses and fish sauce to create the similar umami taste. Also, the way that the sauce acts more as a flavoring agent, rather than part of what you're actually eating, makes it easily suitable for those looking to avoid FODMAPS like myself.  

Whichever way you choose to prepare this dish, it is very tasty, and makes your house smell glorious as it is slowly cooking away. For steak, I used a chuck steak, though any cut of meat works great.  However, using a less-expensive piece of beef can be a great way to save money, as slow cooking yields in a succulent texture that otherwise would not happen if you were to cook it on the grill or oven.  Another recipe that uses a naturally tough cut of meat and turns it into a tender, juicy steak, is my recipe for Braised Beef and Root VegetablesOverall, my parents loved this dish, as my mom served it over cauliflower rice and sauteed broccoli rabi.  Not only did they declare it a "keeper" and want to make it again the next week, but not once could they tell that there was no soy or coconut in the sauce! 

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef 
Print Recipe
(Serves 3-4)
  • Cut steak into thin slices, place it in a slow cooker, and sprinkle the beef with 1/2 tsp sea salt.
  • Chop green onion, garlic, and ginger, and sprinkle over the beef. 
  • In a blender, blend together bone broth, honey, molasses, fish sauce, vinegar, ground ginger, and garlic powder.
  • Pour sauce into the slow cooker and over steak.
  • Put lid on the slow cooker and set the temperature to low, allowing the beef to cook for 4-6 hours.  
  • Once cooked, serve Mongolian beef over cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, or anything else that you enjoy.

1 Thessalonians 6:16-18 " Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Paleo Solutions: Finding Primal Play in a Modern Word

While this past year on Beyond the Bite I have discussed a range of important diet and lifestyle topics, such as eating fat, avoiding toxic personal care items, getting enough sunlight, keeping your lymph system clean, avoiding blue light, and sourcing local food, there is still one major factor of life that I have yet to dedicate a post too - play.  Though it is true that having a schedule and "sticking to it" can help you have a productive day at work or school, having times of of creative, carefree, and enjoyable activities is truly key to finding optimum health and wellness.  Therefore, today I will discuss the importance of making play a priority, as well as some of the most beneficial ways to do so that I have learned through the Primal Blueprint Certification course.    

Play is More Than Fun

It is no secret that play makes people feel good, as it undoubtedly is one of the greatest known stress relievers to this day.  However, studies have shown that not only does it lighten one's mood, but it also creates a better sense of humor, perceived quality and positive outlook on life, higher self competence, socializing skills, and competitive nature.  Ultimately, play allows the brain to be shaped into a strong, organized system, with new connects and circuits being made, allowing it to function at maximum potential.  Consequences of inadequate amounts of play can be seen clearly in both growing children and adults, as emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and social deficients inevitably occur.  Overall, not getting enough play is very detrimental to the human body from the inside out, causing a noticeable decrease in one's ability to thrive throughout life.   

The Definition of Play

While the definition of play is rather vast, forms where one is excited and taking personal risks, not only causes a spike in adrenalin, but also brief, fight-or-flight reactions inside the body, which then leads an individual's preconceived boundaries or limits of life to broaden.  Spontaneous play allows one to "push the envelop," take a break from day-to-day routines of life, and ultimately provide a fresh state of mind that allows one to increase in efficiency, fulfillment, and productivity back in usual circumstances.  This is due to the fact that, when play becomes a moment of impulsive risk, the end result in one's body is a higher level of consciousness and peak performance.  However, not everything that humans have termed to be "play" is necessarily right, causing humans to suffer mentally and physically.  A typical example of this would be play "dates," where children are rushed too and from an activity, and thus not allowed anytime to be creative and grow mentally.  On the other hand, true primal play is how it would have been hundreds of years ago, when technology and other industrialized aspects of life were not crowding one's personal space.  Overall, this classifies play as a time where one is spontaneous, not attached to the outcome of the events occurring, and is ultimately having fun, breaking free of routine responsibilities, and maybe even getting a little adrenalin rush in there for kicks. Play can be anything that brings mind-body awareness, is physically vigorous, strengthens the sense of community with others, distractions one from an illness, and overall calls on the various senses of our body; seeing, hearing, touching, motor planning, and emotion.  This makes practically anything, from writing, taking photographs, doing arts and crafts, having a casual game of basketball, or creating recipes in the kitchen, to be suitable, and equally enjoyable classifications of play, depending on one's interests.  As noted above, play does not only have to be "down time," as exciting, healthy thrills within one's personal risk factor, are also incredibly beneficial as well. 

Where to Play 

As previously stated, though there are various suitable types of play that take place indoors, the environment that reigns far above all for this activity is nature.  As human beings, the body was made to prefer the sounds, sensations, smells, and sights of being outside, causing the modernization of today's world to dull the keen perceptions once present in all individuals.  However, while the calamity of acute eyesight, touch, smell, and hearing may be rising in most individuals today, it is not something that cannot be reversed.  This is due to the fact that playing in the outdoors can be very rewarding for not only one’s mental health, but also physical aspects.  Studies done in Japan have shown that when people spent time in wooded settings, hormone and cellular responses became very active.  Not only that, but the marker for stress, known as “salivary cortisol,” lowered an average of 13.4% after just 20 minutes, while blood pressure, fight-or-flight nervous system activity, and pulse rate also decreased.   What is even more interesting, is that NK lymphocyte cells (i.e. “natural killers”) produced in great quantity, reducing the risk of infection and  cancer growth for the long-term.  That being said, if one is going to spend large amounts of time in the woods, it is important to wear tick protection and do a full-body check for them afterwards, as the effects of obtaining a tick born illness are equally life changing and threatening.  

Another prime environment for play is on the water, as this allows one's body to restore back to its original settings.  Not only can simply floating cause one’s parasympathetic nervous system to activate and thus cause one to feel calm, but joints and muscles also benefit due to the water reducing one’s body weight a near 90%. However, being active in water-based sports, such as surfing, can also be relaxing to both the mind and body.  Due to the close proximity to the water, surfing is used as therapy for marines suffering from PTSD, as it effectively allows their over-active fight-or-flight reactions and anxiety to be naturally relieved.  Apart from the therapeutic effects of being on the water, research has shown that the immune system and muscle recovery highly benefits from quick, cold-water immersions, as it acts as a brief stress that has an overall positive effect on the body.  When this happens, the adrenals release a momentary rise in the stress hormone cortisol (much like when one does a sprint session), causing beneficial effects to flood the body.
While being in the forest and on the water, are both great climates to play in, becoming "grounded" with the earth has also been shown to be extremely beneficial to the body and mind. It has been observed in various studies, that just 30 minutes of “earthing” (i.e. sitting, standing, walking across grass, sand, and (or) dirt), reduces inflammation, physical pain, and emotional stress, while also improving the state of individuals blood.  Not only that but, research has shown evening stress levels to decrease, simultaneously enhancing ones night’s sleep through synchronization of the circadian rhythm.  That being said, while being grounded may sound like an easy task, it easily taken away in today's nation by the use of wearing shoes and having flooring made out of items such as wood.  Therefore, making the effort to get outside and play, letting one’s feet touch the ground and come in contact with the electoral fields of the earth, can do the body surprisingly good. 

Overall, all of the types of play mentioned above have one thing in common, they all take place outside, in nature.  What is important about this is the presence of negative ions, which are otherwise known as molecules with more electrons then protons, and thus are very energizing to the human body all the way down to one’s cells.  This increase in cell reactivity causes them to help increase oxygen to the brain, simultaneously decreasing tiredness and one's rising attentiveness and focus.  Though negative ions are in higher amounts than those that are positive all throughout nature, it is wherever wind, water, or solar radiation from the sun is present, that there is a notable increase.  Examples of environments where there are literally thousands upon thousands of negative (yet positive for our bodies) ions include waterfalls or high, mountain-top areas, making activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or hiking to be very restoring to the body.  This is a large comparison to that of a city or subdivision, which might only have less than a hundred, while indoor rooms, such as an office or hospital room, with no natural air flow have little to none at all.  Overall, it is these negative ions present in nature that making being outside feel so great, while the positive ions that are produced from stagnant air, recirculation of indoor air, in enclosed places, as well as from electronics and power lines, to have a bad effect on the body.  However, it is encouraging to note that spending enough time outside in negative ions can, and will, reduce and reverse the effects of positive ions (i.e. bone loss, insomnia, adrenal and body fatigue, dysfunctional immune system, mood disorders, brain and cardiovascular disfunction, electrolyte imbalances, systemic inflammation, and emotional disturbances).  


Overall, one can never be too old to play, nor is there such thing not having enough time to do so.  Regardless of the type, whether relaxing or exhilarating, play is essential to thriving in life, as it plays (no pun intended) a very important role in shaping one's brain and physical body.  How people grow up to think, act, and feel, all can be brought back to how much true play they received as a child, as well as the types they are continuing into their adult years.  However, it is important to note that play is not a time to deliberately be stupid.  Of course, things happen, and sometimes the results are not always what one expected.  Yet this is the spontaneous, creative nature of play.  The outcome is not always perfect, but this is just the thing that we as humans need, to learn, grow, and experience life.  

(Pin Post For Later)

Further Reading

Psalm 149:3 "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Paleo Crispy Baked Collard Chips (AIP)

Introducing the new kale chip - crispy baked collard greens.

  If you follow me on Instagram, you will more likely than not see these chips on my dinner plate at least once a week.  Though kale chips are great, my stomach does NOT like them. Therefore, I decided to come up with a great alternative that produced the same, crunchy and nutritious snack or side dish - collard chips. Of course, I am assuming that I am not the first to create them, but I thought I'd share the recipe anyways.   In the summer I like to brush oil on whole collard leaves and grill them until charred around the outsides (I call them "collards on the cob").  However, since the cold, January nights have officially set in, baking the green indoors is a much better option.  If you have ever had, and liked, a kale chip, you will love this version.  Of course, for those of you who have an aversion to kale chips, these collard chips are a great place to start, as they are pretty non-offending to most all palates.  Not only that, but I find the term "collard greens" to be much less "offensive" to those that believe that they hate greens.  Due to there being no super-food-hype over collards, no one tends to have an already pre-conceived notion that they are healthy and thus unappetizing.  Instead, my collard green chips are intriguing to everyone, and almost always get stolen by friends and family members.  I like to serve them as both an appetizer when waiting for dinner, or as my "side dish," that just so happens to take up more room then other items on my plate.  Really, I can never get enough of this crispy, crunchy collard chips, and I know that you will be the same way! 

Crispy Baked Collard Chips 
Print Recipe
  • 1 bundle of collard greens - washed and patted dry 
  • 1-2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Wash and dry collard greens, cutting off the stem into long strips.
  • Cut strips of leaves into like-size squares, placing in a mixing bowl. 
  • Start with 1 tbsp of avocado oil, drizzling over leaves and mixing together with hands until every "chip" is coated. *If 1 tbsp is not enough, add an extra tbsp, one tsp at a time.
  • Place collard chips in a single layer onto lined baking sheets, sprinkling each tray with 1 tsp of sea salt.
  • Put baking sheets in the oven and allow chips to bake for 5-7 minutes, until brown around the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring chips to a serving bowl.  
(Pin Recipe For Later)

Galatians 6:7-8 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."