Saturday, February 28, 2015

Paleo Tigernut Chocolate Chips Cookies (Egg, Nut, Dairy, Coconut Free) + a Giveaway!

New to the world of tigernuts? Then today is your chance to become fully acquainted!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Pin Giveaway)

After many months eating and experimenting with tigernuts, I decided it was time that I let my blog followers have a chance to experience all that they have to offer.  Organic Gemini,  a company based out of Brooklyn New York (a city very near and dear to my heart due to many important doctors being located there that have helped me in my battle with Chronic Lyme Disease), produces tigernut snacks, flour, and horchata drinks that are all completely gluten free, organic, nut free, kosher, vegan, raw, non-gmo, and Paleo, of which can all be found in today's giveaway.  There will be three winners, who will each receive a variety pack of horchata flavors (6 total), a bag of tigernut flour, and a bag of raw tigernuts.   For those of you who are on the Autoimmune-Protocol, the unsweetened, original, banana, and strawberry flavor horchatas are completely AIP-friendly, and simply sweetened with a bit of medjool dates.  Overall, after making many recipes with Organic Gemini's tigernuts, tigernut flour, and tasting the horchatas, it would be an understatement to say that these products are anything but amazing.  Much to my families surprise, they absolutely loved the horchatas, including my younger brother, who typically is not keen to trying new things.  (Giveaway open to Us residents only)

Of course, I did not want to host a giveaway of Organic Gemini's products, without sharing yet another way I use them, more specifically, their tigernut flour.  That being said, there are some recipes that will never stop being classics, one of these is the chocolate chip cookie, a treat that any other cookie created has yet to match.  Therefore, I decided to create one using tigernut flour, as it is very versatile and yields a texture similar to almond flour, yet without the added heaviness.  However, today's recipe are not just ANY chocolate chip cookie, as they are free of eggs, nuts, coconut, dairy, and refined sugar ingredients. Of course, I am sure that you can come up with dozens of reasons as to how making a cookie free of all of those ingredients isn't really a cookie at all, and rightfully so.  However, I am here to change all those preconceived notions of allergen-friendly baked goods out there, and present to you a cookie that not only tastes good, but easily holds its own against all other Toll House cookies out there.  Though it may sound too good to be true, my mother can attest to how remarkably similar these cookies are to the "real thing."  Not only do they bake like a regular cookie, but they set up and hold together just like the cookies that I enjoyed as a child (pre-Chronic Lyme Disease).  Tigernut flour may not be taking the world by storm, yet, but I believe that it will certainly become more and more popular, as bloggers like myself take the plunge and experiment with the exotic flour.  

  If you are looking to avoid all forms of refined sugar, you can make my homemade chocolate chunks (recipe here), or substitute dried fruit in place of the chocolate all together for a completely AIP-friendly version.  Despite the fact that I cannot even eat the treats that I create at this point in my life, creating these chocolate chip cookies seriously has me shaking with excitement.  Simply knowing of all the individuals that will be able to enjoy these cookies, makes me so happy just thinking about it.  The real indicator that these cookies are a winner, was that my brother, despite the fact that he always thinks there is something missing in Paleo baked goods, couldn't help himself but go back for more.  My mother had to stop him on his fourth cookie, simply because she knew I needed to take photos of them, after which he told her with wide eyes that they were "so good" and "nothing was missing." If that comment, from a 15 year old boy who despises the term "Paleo" be put in front of his food, does not convince you of how good these cookies are, I am not sure anything will!  In the end, I could not be more proud and happy to present to you these chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that even my younger brother gave me permission to make him time and time again. Please enjoy, and remember to share today's giveaway with all of your friends and family.  GOOD LUCK! (For more tigernut recipes, visit my Paleo Flour page here)

Paleo Tigernut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Print recipe
(Makes 1 dozen)
  • Sift tiger nut, arrow root, baking soda, gelatin, and sea salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Beat together maple syrup, shortening, and vanilla on medium-low, in a stand mixer until combined.
  • Slowly add in dry ingredients to the wet until a sticky cookie dough has formed.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, placing in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes (or) chill cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place baking sheets into the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are set and golden around the edges.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven, allowing them to cool for 10-15 minutes, before transferring onto a wire rack for further cooling. 
Recipe Notes
To make vegan, simply use all palm shortening in place of the lard. 
If you can have nuts, almond flour will work in place of the tigernut flour. 
To make AIP, simply substitute raisins, or any other dried fruit of choice, for the chocolate chips.

Psalm 13:10 "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Daily Dose of Encouragement: Accepting

For every chronic illness, God has an amazing plan that goes right a long with it.  What do I mean?  Well, just like any human life, those with health conditions have many, great purposes here on earth.  Though being sick certainly was not one that we would have ever hoped and dreamed for, it is ultimately being used to help us live out our life to the fullest.  Now, this is not to say that the trials that come a long with a chronic illness are not painful, exhausting, and completely debilitating.  However, it is crucial to not get wrapped up in today's troubles, and thus forget see the entire picture of what is in store for us.  This can be hard, especially when we feel as though everything that we knew, were comfortable with, or good at in life, has been stripped away.  Yet unlike ourselves, God knew that this moment in life would come all along,  and has been planning and perfecting what will come out of it before we were even born.  Now it is our choice to either accept what is happening and what is in store, or rebel against our illness, God, and all of the effort that comes a long with finding health once more.  At times it may seem easier to just give up, not put in our own, personal effort to heal, and just wait for doctors to fix us.  However, it is crucial to realize that God has brought us to this circumstance for a reason, and we must do all that we can to learn, grow, push ourselves, and earnestly seek what He has available to us now, and what He has in store later down the road.  If we don't accept the change of life, our own, selfish and limited perception of how things should be, blocks our view from seeing all of the limitless possibilities that God wants to bring out of this illness. Just because we don't like change in life, doesn't make it is a bad thing, as this negative view on the turn of events is simply our human nature.   Instead, we must take hold of our situations, learn from our health condition, realize what changes we must do in our diet and lifestyle to heal, and know that through Christ, doing all the seemingly impossible tasks at hand is possible.  

 Yet it all comes back down to us, and our decision of acceptance, despite what the trials of life may bring, or how easy, hard, or seemingly impossible they may seem.   God is all mighty, all knowing, and ever present, and will always help us succeed in rising above our illness.  The devil will try and make us feel worthless, weak, indecisive, unable to tackle what we know must be done in order to heal and take care of our ourselves. He will make us feel as the life God has given us is more of a curse than a blessing.  However, doing things our own way, and not accepting the trial that God has presented in the form of a chronic illness, will only ever lead to disaster in both life and our health.  Instead, we must not only accept our chronic illness, but we also must embrace it.   Of course, it can be hard to willingly welcome a change in our lives, especially something as drastic as a chronic illness, and this certainly won't happen overnight.  However, we must not forget that it is always possible to grow from any circumstance, and become a stronger and smarter a long the way.  Though finding peace in accepting pain and suffering can also be difficult, everything that God is allowing to happen in our life is for the good, and we therefore must learn to always accept it with thanksgiving.  Though this is tough love, God knows that it is necessary to fulfill His perfect plan in our lives, otherwise, He would not allow it. As humans, it is easy to get stuck in our old ways, feel sorry for ourselves, view our illness as an inconvenience, or even try and pretend like you aren't sick, looking back on your old life with wishfulness.  Yet this is not where God has called us to be.  Instead, we must have faith in the present and future life that God is giving us, know that it is not the end of our story here on earth, and after a living a life in submission to His will and His word, all of our tears will be wiped dry, as we spend eternity with Him in heaven.  Overall, having a chronic illness is not the end of the world, but rather, can serve as just beginning of finding all that is in store for us, as long as we accept and believe it 

1 Timothy 4:4 "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving..."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paleo Roasted Delicata Squash Medley (Autoimmune-Friendly)

If you liked my previously posted recipe for Herb Roasted Stuffing made from taro root, or my Sweet and Savory Hash with butternut squash, then you are in for a treat with today's recipe. Much like this week's Garlic and Sage Pork Chops, this roasted squash medley was a recipe that I created as a way to change up the usual preparation for the vegetables I served for my mother's birthday dinner.  To my excitement,  everyone around the table thoroughly enjoyed my slight variation on a typical roasted squash dish, so much so that they told me I simply had to post in on my blog.  So, here it is folks, a savory roasted squash medley with just a hint of sweetness from the apples and a touch of maple syrup.  As a note, if you like your vegetables crispy and very brown, be sure not to cut the onion and apple too small, or else they will become black and burnt, far quicker than the squash itself will cook.  That being said, I have to admit that eating crispy, charcoal pieces of onion is actually pretty tasty.  Overall, today's recipe is yet another that proves just how simple, yet delicious, real food can be.  It doesn't have to be fancy, expensive, time consuming, or energy-draining, all that you need is a few, wholesome ingredients, and you have got yourself a killer dish that will not only taste good, but will feel good as well. Again, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this roasted delicata squash medley will remind you just how easy and delicious cooking real food is, and that is a fact. 

Roasted Delicata Squash Medley 

Print Recipe
(Serve 2-4)
  • 1 lb (16 oz) delicata squash
  • 1 large yellow onion (2 cups)
  • 2 small apples (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tbsp lard - melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  • Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut each half into 1/2 inch wide crescents.
  • Cut both the apple and onion in half, and chop into 1/2 inch wide crescents. 
  • Place the onion, squash, and apple onto a large, rimmed baking sheet. 
  • In a small sauce pan, heat lard and maple syrup until the lard has melted.
  • Pour the mixture over the vegetables and fruit, mixing with a spatula until evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle the sea salt over the vegetables and fruit, placing the baking sheet in the oven and allowing to bake for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is cooked to your liking.

Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol: Eggs

Throughout some of my past posts, I have mentioned different aspects of the Autoimmune Protocol that have helped significantly in fighting against Chronic Lyme Disease.  However, because the who, what, where, when, and why's of the protocol can be a lot for people to take in all at once, and certainly is too much information for me to include all in one post, I have decided to take the time and explain some of the  fundamental dietary aspects of the protocol in a series of posts, starting with today's topic of eggs

Eggs as a Whole

Before I get started, I want to make one thing clear, and that is that for an individual with no autoimmune conditions, eggs are perfectly fine to eat.  In fact, properly raised eggs are very nutrient dense, with 13 differing nutrients contained all in the yolk (not the white).  That being said, with all of the fat and cholesterol dogma clouding people's ability to think for themselves, the egg has slowly turned from a healthy breakfast food, into an artery clogging cause for heart disease.  However, this statement is very misleading, as eggs (yes, the whole thing) have never once been linked to creating heart disease.  Overall, eggs are rich in vitamin A, E, B, iodine, antioxidants, and fat, yes fat, an essential part of every human's diet responsible for health all the way down to the very cellular makeup.  As previously discussed in my Fat Phobia series (parts 1, 2, and 3), foods that contain the right types of fat are not what is making today's nation obese, nor is it the cause for the rising rates of heart disease and other metabolic disorders.  Therefore, despite conventional medicine telling us to limit our consumption of eggs down to a slim 3-4 per week, there truly are no guidelines to consuming organic, pasture-raised and (or) local eggs that come from a sustainable farmer committed to treating his chickens the best way possible.  If you are interested in learning more on why you should be eating the whole egg, check out Liz Wolfe's book "Eat the Yolks," I highly recommend it. 

Eggs & Autoimmunity  

OK, so now that we have established the fact that eggs are perfectly healthy to consume on a daily basis, there is a catch in this statement, and that is for those with an autoimmune condition.  The problem lies almost entirely in the egg white, though the yolks can also be somewhat problematic to individuals as well.  Reactions to eggs are due to an enzyme known as "lysozyme," an anti-microbial compound of which the body naturally secretes in mucus membranes to fight against harmful invaders, an example being the tears we produce when crying.  However, there comes a problem with ingesting this enzyme when one is experiencing autoimmunity, due to the fact that lysozyme can cross the gut's barrier, and thus are able to aggravate the immune system even further through various mechanisms all ultimately harmful to the body. 

Egg Whites

There are two separate parts of an egg, both of which have two very different jobs.  It is the egg white in particular, that contains the lysozyme enzyme, of which is present to protect the from specific, intruding bacteria.  However, this strong act of defense does not get taken away when cooked or ingested, causing a problem within a compromised body.  When ingested, lysozyme will connect with proteins and their fragments (some of which are present in the egg white itself), forming a compound that can not be digested by the protease enzyme in our digestive track.  However, the problem with lysozyme does not only come from compounds present in the egg, but also its special ability to "pick up" other proteins from the various bacteria present in our gut.  Together, with the extra proteins attached to the lysozyme enzyme, as well as its handy enzyme inhibitors (ovomucoid, ovinhibitor, ovostatin, and cystatin), it is able to get through the gut barrier and enter into the bodies circulatory system.  This interesting quality of lysozyme is due to the fact that it is of positive charge, causing an electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged proteins found in intestinal epithelial cells, of which are some of the main regulators in one's intestinal track.  Because of this strong attraction between the opposing charges of lisozyme and the cells that control the integrity of our gut, lisozyme, and all of its proteins that are tagging a long for the ride, are able to rapidly absorb into the blood stream.  Due to the time that lisozyme spent in the GI tract, picking up various bacterial, food, and egg white proteins, its appearance of a large, indestructible molecule in the blood stream, is not welcomed by the body.  Instead, immune responses are stimulated, causing the body to attack itself, the main contributor behind a given autoimmune disease. 

AIP Clarity 

After on learns the interesting nature of the lisozyme enzyme present in egg whites, it is rather clear as to why one would want to avoid them if they are experiencing autoimmunity.  With the Autoimmune Protocol eliminating all pro-inflammatory foods from one's diet, eggs are inevitably one of the first to go.  However, this is not to say that one will not ever be able to eat eggs again, as once the immune responses are regulated and under control, the problems that come with consuming eggs may no longer be present.  For that reason, egg yolks are one of the first in the reintroduction phases of AIP, of which are later followed by the entire egg (white included).   As for my own experience, eggs were first very friendly to me in my journey with Chronic Lyme Disease, and I thoroughly enjoyed them as morning an omelette.  However, as the severity of my illness grew, so did the number of histamine-induced food allergies, due to increased intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut) from various, additional parasitic, protozoa, and bacterial infections.  Therefore, it was not long before symptoms arising from the consumption of eggs became very noticeable, leading me to slowly eliminate them from my diet completely.  Of course, skipping eggs for breakfast is not an easy thing to do, and can send those used to their morning omelette for a spin.  However, this is where I learned to incorporate white fish into my morning routine.  It may not sound very appetizing at first, but baking, broiling, or poaching fish can be a great addition to your morning meal, as is it one of the most easily digested proteins available.  Not only that, but some of the most affordable types of fish are also the most nutrient dense, of which include oily, cold water fish such as wild sardines, herring, salmon, and anchovies.  If you are having trouble getting over the act, or even thought, of consuming fish in the mornings, it can be helpful to start out with smoked varieties as they tend to be more palatable, especially when topped with a squeeze of citrus.  Overall, avoiding eggs can seem like a pain at the beginning of the Autoimmune-Paleo Protocol, however, it is certainly necessary in regaining the integrity of one's entire body when experiencing autoimmunity.  To learn more on how to use diet and lifestyle to manage an autoimmune condition, make sure to check out The Paleo Mom, and her book, The Paleo Approach

(Pin Post For Later) 

Proverbs 4:20-22 "My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body." 

Ballantyne, Sarah. The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. N.p.: n.p., 2014. Print.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Paleo Garlic and Sage Pork Chops (Autoimmune-Friendly)

When you cook these chops, make sure to not burn the house down.  Yeah, I am being serious, as this recipe comes with a rather funny story.  A couple weeks ago, I was have a rough day, yet it was my Mother's birthday, and I wanted to prepare something for her dinner.  So, I decided to brine and broil some pork chops, since the time standing and overall energy required is very minimal for a process like that.  Well, much to my surprise, the fire alarm went off half way through the broiling process.  Funny thing is, the article I was previously reading about brining pork chops, warned me that cooking them might cause a lot of smoke, and to already have a window or door cracked open.  However, I initially shrugged this note off, and not being one to freak out, simply opened all of the windows and turned the oven fan on very high, in hopes to air out the house and not cause any extra stress on my parents who were both away at work.  Despite my attempts to keep it on the down-low, the fire department came, down our little country road, and, well, everyone in my family found out.  Therefore, my advice to you when making this recipe, is turn on a fan, or open a window, or just do something,  prior to cooking, so that you can ensure no large fire trucks will be dropping by to say hello.  On that note, this recipe is so mouthwatering delicious, it is definitely worth the little bit of smoke that may be produced from the fat on the pork chops. 

 As previously mentioned, today's garlic sage pork chops are super simple, and require very little energy to prepare. All that must be done is the preparation of a simple water and salt brine a few hours before you plan on cooking the chops, and viola, you have succulent and tender cut of meat ready at your disposal. You may be wondering why the brining is necessary, and truly, it is not entirely.  However, brining meat is an essential step in ensuring that your meat does not become tough and chewy, something you certainly do not want to risk on your good pork chops.  In fact, meat is said to lose 30% of its moisture content when being cooked, yet with a brine, it can be brought down to at least 15%.  The salt also makes some of the proteins present in the meat to break down, of which allows the water from the brine to insert itself into the meat, and thus when cooked, gets trapped inside. With all that said, who wouldn't want to take a hold of the benefits of brining? Overall, my family fell in love with these garlic and sage pork chops, and thus approved of me making them again and again, proving what just a simple brine and a few tasty herbs can really do.  

Garlic and Sage Pork Chops 
(Serves 4)
  • 4 pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp sea salt  
  • 1 tbsp lard 
  • 1 tbsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Heat 1 cup of water in a medium sized sauce pan until boiling.
  • Stir in 3 tbsp sea salt until dissolved, add remaining 2 cups of water, and allow to set until room temperature.
  • Place pork chops in a medium sized bowl, covering with the water and allowing to brine for 1-4 hours.  
  • Once ready to cook, remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel until no longer wet.
  • Mix remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt, sage, and garlic in a small ramekin.
  • Rub pork chops all over with the lard and herb blend, placing on a wire baking rack pan.
  • Place the top rack of your oven 6-8 inches away from the broiler
  • Preheat broiler on high.
  • Once hot, place pork chops under the broiler, cooking 3-4 minutes per side until just browned.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Psalm 1:1 "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat if the scornful."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Paleo Chocolate Protein Fudge Bites (Autoimmune-friendly)

Today's recipe is pretty straight forward.  Not only is it easy to prepare, but it is also very versatile, meaning that you can make it according to your specific dietary needs.  Below I have included notes for those following Dr. Sarah Ballantyne's Autoimmune-Paleo Approach, as well as if you eat Ketogenic  You can use any fat, as long as it is saturated, whether it be cocoa butter, coconut oil,  non-hydrogenated palm shortening (of which I have all done myself), or even grass-fed ghee, if you can handle it.  Adding different flavorings, such as peppermint extract, is also an option, as it would give the chocolates a refreshing Peppermint Patty taste.  That being said, the main gist is that these protein fudge bites are a great way to introduce entomophagy into your life.  Though I have posted previous recipe that use cricket flour, including these Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Blueberry Streusel Muffins, and my No-Bake Fig Newton Bars, I thought it would be a good idea to share a recipe that most everyone would have the ingredients for.  Overall, I love finding creative ways to add insect protein into my family and I's life,  today's recipe being yet another that they fully enjoyed, not caring one bit of the ingredients.  Chocolate fudge bites, with a punch of sustainable protein, what is not to love? 

Chocolate Protein Fudge Bites 
  • Heat palm shortening and sea salt over medium-low in a small sauce pan until melted.
  • Whisk in cocoa powder, cricket flour, and maple syrup until smooth.
  • Spoon chocolate mixture into heart shaped candy molds and place in the fridge or freezer to set (about one hour). 
  • Once set, remove the chocolates from their mold and keep in a mason jar in the freezer. 
Recipe Notes
Feel free to use coconut oil, cocoa butter, or ghee in place of the shortening.
To make AIP-friendly, use carob powder in place of the cocoa, and use coconut oil or palm shortening as the base. 
To make Ketogenic, simply substitute maple syrup for pure stevia to taste. 
If you do not have heart shaped molds, simply pour the mixture into a lined loaf pan or mini muffin tin fitted with paper cups.  
You can source your cricket flour from Aketta by Aspire, Next Millennium Farms, or through the Amazon affiliate link provided in the ingredients list. 

Lamentations 3:24 "“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him." 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Paleo Roasted Leek Greens (Autoimmune-friendly)

 Before I began roasting leeks, cooking with their green, stiff, stalks, was never something I ever did.  Yet with the vegetable continually popping up at every winter farmer's market that I went to, I decided to get creative and prepare them in a way similar to that of my crispy baked collard chips.  Throughout all of my different experiments, I found that not only are leek greens good incorporated into dishes, but they are even more tasty placed on top of food, of which brings us to today's recipe.  Both tender, crispy, crunchy, and bursting with that beloved onion flavor (yet low-FODMAP) these roasted leek greens are fantastic as a side dish, over your main course, or put on top of a salad. That being said, it is important to keep on eye on them when they are roasting, as they can all too quickly become like burnt like charcoal .  However, it is not to say that they are not delicious this way, as I have made the mistake of cooking the just a bit too long, many times.  Somedays, I like to drizzle balsamic vinegar into the roasting dish a few minutes before taking them out, which gives them even more of a caramelized taste.  Overall, these roasted leek greens have become a favorite in my family, as not only do they make the kitchen smell wonderful, but their addition to the dinner plate is simply too delicious not to love. 

Roasted Leek Greens 
Print Recipe
(Serves 2) 
  • 2 cups chopped leek greens (from 3-4 long leek stocks) 
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Chop the green part of each leek stalk into 1/2 inch rounds.
  • Place chopped leeks in a salad spinner, rinsing with water, and spinning dry.
  • Transfer leeks into a baking side, sprinkling with 1/2 tsp sea salt, and tossing with 1 tbsp avocado oil.
  • Once hot, place the leeks in the oven to cook for 15-20 minutes until crispy and browned. 

Ephesians 5:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."