October 21, 2015

eating for health? it's not all sunshine and rainbows

I started AIP a month and a half ago. In the first month, I saw an incredible change for the better in how I felt, and I really didn't feel deprived. I told one of my friends that the hardest part of AIP was not what I could and could not eat, but the loss of the social aspect of food. Going out to eat was not an option, which meant I couldn't go out for lunch with friends after church like I normally do. (Well, I guess I could have gone and just bought some iced tea, but that would have been really hard to do.)

Foodwise, though, it was all good. I even posted optimistic pictures of my food on Instagram. Like this.

And this.
Because I was feeling better than I had in months, sticking to the protocol was fairly easy.

Then I started reintroductions, and everything got hard. Really hard.

Most of it is psychological. When I can't have any of the forbidden things, I can get by. But when I can have some things and not others, that's where I struggle. And I'll be honest--it is so difficult to decide what to reintro when, and that messes with me, too. (There is a recommended order, but I'm not following it, which I'll get to in a minute.)

There's also a physical component. Overall, I haven't felt as good since I started reintroductions. I readily admit that I'm rushing the reintroduction process, simply because I don't know what else I can do. I'm going on a trip in early November, and I don't see how it will be possible for me to eat AIP. So I'm trying to test as many foods as I can, which means fudging on the amount of time between reintroductions. Some things are going well (cocoa), other things aren't (egg whites).

I know that I might be getting false positives and negatives because I'm not following the recommended (well tested) reintroduction format.

I know that I may have to go back to strict AIP when I get home, and I'm pretty prepared mentally for that. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it, as I'll be able to wait longer to start reintros and take my time with them.

But tonight? I'm struggling. I'm so tired of chicken, pork, coconut, and tea (and I love me some tea). The smell of coffee in the office nearly drove me over the brink this afternoon, and I wanted to eat (and drink) ALL OF THE THINGS. Hence the Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi pictured at the top of this post. My first pop in a month. It's a big cheat, but I justify it by the fact that Pepsi has removed aspartame, which I quit years ago. (Nevermind that all artificial sweeteners are no-nos. I'm justifying, remember?)

Will I pay for it tomorrow? Maybe.

But right now, as I'm savoring the taste, it seems worth it.

October 16, 2015

recipe: molasses cookies (aip)

In my last Friday Favorites, I told you I was adapting a recipe to make molasses cookies. I think I have it just about perfected!

These cookies are AIP compliant, which also makes them gluten-, egg-, nut- and dairy-free. (So my egg and dairy allergic brother-in-law could eat these!)

Basically, they're so good that I have to pop the extras in the freezer so I don't eat the whole batch in one sitting!

Molasses Cookies
adapted from AIP Chewy "Chocolate" Chunk Cookies on Flame to Fork
makes approximately 15 cookies

2/3 cup (3 oz) tapioca starch
scant 1/4 cup (1 oz) coconut flour
1 T gelatin (I use Great Lakes red can, but you can use Knox if you want)
1/4 cup coconut sugar (I buy mine in bulk at Sam's Club)
1 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1/8 t mace (you can use 1/2 t nutmeg if not AIP)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 T maple syrup (I get mine from Trader Joe's--they have the cheapest price that I've found)
2 T molasses
2 t water, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. (You're not making a gelatin egg here; just mix the dry gelatin in with the other dry ingredients.) Add all of the wet ingredients except the water, and mix well. The dough will not be as cohesive as regular cookie dough, but it should hold together. If it's too dry, add water one teaspoon at a time.
Your dough should look something like this.
Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place two inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Flatten slightly with your hand, as these will not spread much in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on tray for five minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Some helpful hints:
  • I nearly always double the recipe--these are so good that they won't stick around long!
  • These cookies will start to get stale after about four days, but they freeze beautifully. I always store mine in the freezer.
  • When I'm making the recipe as printed, I just mix it up by hand. When making a double batch, I use my stand mixer.
  • Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste. Just know that the spices mellow and blend in the baking process--the dough always tastes much spicier than the baked cookies do.
  • I haven't played with alternate sweeteners at all. I'd imagine you could probably substitute honey for the maple syrup, but I haven't tried it.
  • My gas oven is pretty spastic and hard to regulate, so you may need to adjust your baking time slightly.
  • If you don't already have some of these ingredients (like the gelatin or the tapioca starch), shop around. The links I've provided go to Amazon, but I've found better deals at Vitacost and Thrive Market at times. It totally depends on the product. (Thrive Market is a membership site, but you can check prices without signing up. Also, they offer a free 30 day trial membership and 25% off your first order. You can check it out here.)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission or referral bonus. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

October 9, 2015

five friday favorites #19: week of oct. 9, 2015 (aip edition)

This week's Friday Favorites is going to look a little different than usual--I have a theme: AIP.

Just before Labor Day, I talked about how I was going to embark on the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet in an effort to feel better. Today marks my 30th AIP day. In these 30 days, I've had only one truly bad "thyroidy" day (more on that later). I'm still tired all the time, and I've had other minor symptoms at times, but I have also seen an uptick in energy and stamina. I'm not ready to shout "I'm healed!" from the rooftops, but I'm definitely seeing improvement.

AIP is incredibly restrictive, but fortunately we have a little thing called the internet where bloggers share their AIP recipes! I have spent a ton of time in the kitchen over the last month, and I'm running my dishwasher every other day, whereas before, I'd run it maybe once a week. But I've found some absolutely amazing recipes ... and some duds, too. So today, I want to share my five favorite AIP foods. (These are mainly sweets or snack items--because those are the things I miss most.)

1. Molasses Cookies
I finally got that recipe I was telling you about last time perfected. (I was calling them ginger cookies then, but the molasses is what stands out, so that's the name I'm going with now!) I'd hoped to post the recipe tonight, but then a friend who's home from college for the weekend wanted to get together, and she's more important than any recipe! I'll be sure to link to it once it's up. I absolutely adore these cookies!

Update: Here is the recipe!

2. "Buttery" Baked Pita Crisps (from Eat Heal Thrive)
These little crisps are so incredibly simple to make, and they taste great! I didn't particularly think they tasted buttery, but they definitely reminded me of pretzels ... and that's a win in my book! They go perfectly with soup--they don't get soggy at all, which is what I always hated about putting crackers in my soup back in my gluten-filled days.

3. Sweet Potato Chips
I always thought I hated sweet potatoes. Their sweetness is what turned me off ... practically the only way I ever saw sweet potatoes was in sweet potato casserole, which just seemed disgusting to me. Why would you want to make sweet potatoes even sweeter? I didn't want them sweet in the first place! I tried sweet potato fries a few times and didn't like them, either. But now that regular potatoes are off the table (please, Lord, let it only be for a time!), I decided to give sweet potatoes another go. I started with sweet potato chips. I bought a bag for like $4 at the grocery store, and it wasn't even completely "legal"--it used the wrong kind of oil. But the chips grew on me, and I decided to try to make my own.
My homemade chips were fantastic! I found a recipe for making them in the oven, but I got impatient, so I fried the rest up in a skillet with coconut oil. I didn't feel so great the next day (but not terrible), and my sister suggested that maybe it had more to do with the excess oil than it did with the sweet potato itself.

However, the day before my one truly bad day since I've started AIP, I baked myself a sweet potato for supper. That was the only "out of the ordinary" food I ate that day, and it was more sweet potato at once than I'd ever before had. I know my bad day could have just been my thyroid deciding to act up for the fun of it, but I really feel like the sweet potato was connected. So I'm guessing that while sweet potatoes are OK for AIP, I need to be careful about them.

This revelation, of course, comes after I dropped something like $15 on a few bags of Jackson's Honest Sweet Potato Chips. These chips are phenomenal, and the only ingredients are sweet potatoes, organic coconut oil, and sea salt. I'm hoping that in moderation, these sweet potato chips will be OK. I'm definitely going to try to make them work!

4. Salted Caramel Ice Cream (from AIP Lifestyle)
I bought myself an ice cream maker last summer. Shortly thereafter, I began to suspect that dairy and I didn't get along as well as I wanted us to. So I started experimenting with coconut-based ice cream. I made a coffee version that was delightful, but coffee is a no-go on AIP. I made a lemon that was decent and a pumpkin that was WAY overpowering--and neither of those really seemed like ice cream. But this salted caramel? It's wonderful! Somehow, the combination of coconut milk, maple syrup, coconut manna (I used creamed coconut), and sea salt really comes out tasting like salted caramel! I did make a tiny change to the recipe--I added 1/2 tablespoon gelatin.

5. Waffles (from Tasty Yummies) with "Butter" (from He Won't Know It's Paleo)
These are hands down the tastiest waffles I've had since going gluten free a year and a half ago! They're made with cassava flour, which is uber-expensive, but in this case, it's worth it. I should mention that my waffles turned out a bit gummy in the middle, as has everything I've made with cassava. But the outside is so crispy, and the flavor is delightful, so I can overlook that. Plus, these waffles freeze and reheat beautifully.

The "butter" reminds me of the oleo my grandma used to buy and put on the treat she gave us every time we visited: juicy toast. (Kind of a gross name, right? But the toast was oh so good, due to the copious amount of oleo that Gram used.) The flavor combination with the waffles is so great--it makes me feel like I'm cheating, but I'm not!

Those are my five (or six) favorite AIP finds so far. If you want to know more about AIP, I'd recommend The Paleo Mom and Phoenix Helix. I've gotten a wealth of information from them!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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