Raspberry Dark Chocolate bites

Since Valentine’s day is coming up, I thought I would get in the spirit with little dark chocolate heart candies.  Try to find soy-free dark chocolate (which will also be dairy free).  I use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips and the Organic 73% super dark chocolate bars at Trader Joe’s.  As my mom says – “Love Love!”

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Ingredients:

  • 6-oz package of raspberries
  • 1 soy-free, dairy-free dark chocolate bar
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet enjoy life chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Heat the raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat until they have formed a sauce, about 15 minutes.
2. At the same time, use your double boiler to melt the chocolate.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, mix with the warm raspberries and then quickly fill a silicone candy mold. I used a heart mold.
4. Pop the mold in the freezer for at least 1/2 hour then take the chocolates out of the mold and store them in a container in the freezer.

Creamy Mushroom Turkey Soup

While in Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago, my sisters and I checked out the Cultured Caveman Restaurant.  They proudly market themselves as a Paleo restaurant, and I can tell you it was amazing!  I didn’t have to worry about any hidden potentially toxic ingredients in the food they prepared and didn’t have to ask my usual restaurant 100 questions.  In fact at one point I started to ask whether there was soy in the chocolate chips in their cookies, but got a hand on my arm from my sister with a “it’s ok you can eat everything here…”

 

One of the items on the menu was creamy mushroom soup – it reminded me how much I miss it and love it!  So here’s my dairy-free, gluten-free version with some ground turkey added, just to round out the meal with a protein.

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp ghee
2 cups leeks
2 cloves garlic
5 oz shiitake
8 oz baby portobello
8 oz cremini
2 cups of chicken broth (divided)
2 tbsp arrowroot flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb ground turkey thighs
1 can coconut milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup minced fresh italian parsley (optional for garnish)

Directions:

In a dutch oven, heat the 2 tbsp ghee and add the leeks and garlic. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, then turn up the heat to med-high for 5 minues, stirring often, until the leeks begin to brown.

Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pot with 1/2 cup broth and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender.

Add the arrowroot powder and cook for 1 minute.

Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Add the remainder of the chicken broth, minced thyme leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, sauté the ground turkey until it is cooked all the way through and just browned.

Once the mushrooms are tender, add to the dutch oven the coconut milk, nutmeg, turkey, and parsley (if desired) and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve.

Beef and Pineapple “Rice” Skillet Recipe

Last night was one of those nights where I just looked in the fridge to see what I could throw together.  In my CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture), I got a pineapple!  So what else could I put with it?

The CSA concept is pretty awesome – mine is run by a local farmer here in Albuquerque – Skarsgard Farms.  He partners with farms all throughout the Southwest and in Mexico to bring us great organic produce all year round.  Farmer Monty started offering grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken a few years ago, which is awesome!  Plus, he can offer limited shares of Raw Milk to his costumers, which my husband has been enjoying (since I am still not able to tolerate dairy).  The great part is sometimes you get random items that you have to figure out what to do with.  This week it was pineapple.

Here’s the link if you want to find a CSA in your local area – Link to find your local CSA

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red boat fish sauce
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Sauté the ground beef in large skillet on med-high.

While the beef is cooking use a food processor to make the Cauliflower into “rice”.  I just use the chopper blade and do it in 2 batches so that the it doesn’t turn into mush.  The key is to just pulse a couple of times until you the get the cauliflower chopped to the size you want.

Once it’s chopped, put it in a separate bowl and add the pineapple, red pepper, onions, parsley and spices.

Add the cauliflower mix into the beef, once it has browned.  Mix it all together and add the fish sauce.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the cauliflower and red pepper is almost soft.

A little vulnerability from me, thanks to a blog post by Robb Wolf

This week I came across a blog written by Robb Wolf, one of the founding father’s of the paleo movement, and I have thought about it several times over the past few days, kindof like a good movie.  You wouldn’t think by the title “Paleo Diet: How do I convince someone to try it.” that it would hit me the way it has, but Robb actually does a great job of talking about some hard times in his life – essentially being vulnerable – and I think that’s what got to me.  Maybe there is some leadership lessons sitting in his blog post…

Here’s why Robb’s blog struck home with me.

Here’s a guy that is passionate about what he does, so much so, that he moves forward regardless of what people think.  He is authentic, a little rough around the edges and he doesn’t sugar coat anything.  This could be why I like him, I can be a little blunt at times and my passion can come out with some energy.  But even with that, you can tell he cares.  He cares about himself and others.  In my book, these are some great leadership traits.  So, I am going to take a page from him and make sure I continue caring about myself, as much as I care about others.

Robb states that one of his strengths is his “wicked sense of impending mortality”, which really struck home with me.  My Dad died, when he was 47, from pancreatic cancer.  I was 22.  I watched a man that was lively and vibrant, very quickly wither away in 6 months.  Luckily it was only 6 months, there are many other diseases that people struggle with for years before it eventually takes them (as Robb discusses in his blog).  I have lived my life since then knowing your time could be up at any moment (which wasn’t very good for my long term savings account…).

Here’s what the American Cancer Society says in their Cancer Facts and Figures 2016 Brochure.

A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented. All cancers caused by tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption could be prevented completely.

 

I have had this fear since I was 22 that I wouldn’t make it past that magic age of 47.  I turned 47 last November and I AM planning on making it to 48, thanks, in part, to the whole foods/paleo lifestyle that I have implemented over the last 2 years, and because I am taking some time right now to care about me.

I highly recommend reading Robb’s post (link below) – it could make you think too.

Robb Wolf – Paleo Diet: How do I convince someone to try it

 

Raspberry/Blueberry Gummies

If you are looking to heal your gut or just add an incredible nutritional source to your diet, consider gelatin.  According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, gelatin can help with digestive disorders, including colitis and Crohn’s disease, and can be used for chronic disorders such as anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and even cancer.  The amino acids found in gelatin help generate cell growth, so it is also great for skin elasticity and joint care.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 carton of fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen)
  • 5 tbsp Gelatin (grass fed Great Lakes product is what I use, here’s the link – gelatin on Amazon)

Directions:

Heat the fruit in a saucepan over med-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is nice and mushy.

While the fruit is cooking, put about 1/3 cup of cold water in a bowl and spread the gelatin on it.  It will dissolve in the water.

Remove the fruit from the heat, use a potato masher or just a fork to further mash the fruit together.  Mix the gelatin water that you prepared earlier, into the fruit and whisk together.  The gelatin water will dissolve in the warm fruit.  Pour into silicone baking cups or maybe this gummy bear mold.  I used mini peanut butter cup molds I found at the local kitchen shop.  Put the molds into the fridge for a couple of hours.  Take them out of the molds and then store them in a container in the fridge for up to a week (mine don’t last that long).

These are great for a snack during the day when you just need a little pick me up!

Nourished Podcast – interview with Dr. Jolene Brighton

For you women out there – Shawn Mynar and Meg Doll of the Nourished Podcast interview Dr. Jolen Brighten.  They discuss the symptoms of hormone imbalance, PMS, and estrogen dominance.  What happens when the menstrual cycle and hormones get out of balance due to stress, diet and nutrition.  She gives some great tips on how you can heal these symptoms.

If you have anxiety or depression around your period – this podcast is one you should listen to.

The three questions she asks clients to determine whether progesterone is low – A week or two before your period do you feel like you A) want to kill someone, B) want to run off to the woods and never be seen again, or C) all of the above?

Here’s the link – Nourished Podcast with Dr. Jolene Brighten – Enjoy!

Plantain Tortillas

You can make these either savory or sweet depending on the ripeness of your plantains.  The more yellow the plantains become the more sweet.  I use these as a sandwich wrap or soft taco shell.  The sweet tortillas work great with fruit for a dessert.  The key to making these is the high speed blender.

Plantain tortilla

Ingredients:
  • 3 plantains
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel and cut the Plantains into chunks by slicing them down the side (they won’t peel like a banana). Place them in a high powered blender (I use a Vitamix) with the eggs, coconut oil, salt, water and lemon juice. Blend until it looks like a smooth batter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a spoon, scoop a couple of tablespoons of the batter onto the parchment paper. Spread out the batter using the backside of the spoon into a thin circle, about 4 to 5 inches wide. I can usually get about 3 tortillas on the parchment paper.

Put the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Pull the tortillas out when the edges are a nice light brown.

Remove from the oven and repeat the process until you have used the batter. You can swap out the parchment paper in between, but I use the same piece.

You can freeze and reheat them by lightly heating them on a skillet when you are ready to enjoy them.

The role of Fats in Increasing and Decreasing Inflammation

What do hangovers after a night of partying have to do with inflammation and eating healthy fats?  That hangover is the result of inflammation in various areas of your body causing headaches, aches and pains, and ultimately that question circulating through your head “why did I do that?”.  To which I always hear my Dad answer with “seemed like a good idea at the time…”.

Inflammation is the body trying to heal itself, realizing there is a problem and sending all of the treatment it can to that area.  I think of inflammation as the ambulance, accompanied by fire and police personnel.  When you get cut, the body swells up at the area (inflames) and sends white blood cells etc. to that site to get it healed and closed up.  The same thing happens inside your body when something goes array.  Inflammation is not the cause, it is the healing cure.

Inflammation has been the topic of much discussion of late, mainly because our bodies are reacting to multiple toxins in our environment and continuously staying inflamed.  Our bodies weren’t meant to stay inflamed, which is why we have two pathways to decrease inflammation and one pathway to increase inflammation.  One of the issues is the Standard American Diet, we are not giving our bodies the right fats, or the ratio of fats, to support the prostaglandins that are needed to appropriately increase or decrease inflammation.

Prostaglandins – what are those?  Prostaglandins occur in nearly all of the body tissues and fluids and, among other functions, are responsible for the inflammation in the body. There are two anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PG1 and PG3) and one pro-inflammatory prostaglandin (PG2). The Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) Omega-6 is responsible for ultimately producing PG1 and the EFA Omega-3 is responsible for producing PG3. These two fatty acids are deemed “essential” because the body can not produce them, they have to come from our diet.  These two polyunsaturated fatty acids are responsible for reducing inflammation. Saturated fats are responsible for creating inflammation when the body needs to heal.

Let me say this again, you need to eat saturated fats to heal….

Refer back to my post on Why Healthy Fats are Good for You for a more in depth discussion of Saturated Fats, PUFA’s and MUFA’s.  Also, look for a more in depth discussion in the future on this blog of which fats and oils to consume to get the Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids and Saturated fats.  ( I just tried to link to a couple other sites but they weren’t exactly what I wanted to portray, so coming soon…)

Back to the hangover, obviously something went array if you still have a headache in the morning because PG1 and PG3 should have taken over.  Refer the diagram I created to try to visualize the rest of the story.  First off, for the fats to be broken down into prostaglandins, the body must be digesting properly (for instance, if you are having any issues digesting fats, then they are likely not getting absorbed and used by your body) and your liver must be functioning properly (again partially related to fat digestion).  Also, amino acids, vitamin B6, Magnesium and Zinc have to be present in the body for prostaglandins to be created. The environmental working group states that 40% of adults have magnesium deficiency. Click on this link to see EWG statistics on mineral deficiency.

So, if all of the systems are working in your body and deficiencies are not present, then why still the hangover?  Several things stop enzymes from working to ultimately produce the prostaglandin – the inhibitors.  Simply, alcohol stops the two anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, PG1 and PG3, from being produced, but doesn’t stop PG2, the inflammatory prostaglandin.  So continuing my analogy, every ambulance in your body was sent to the sites of inflammation, with no radio for someone tell them to leave.

 

EFA-ProstaglandinWhat about the other inhibitors?  Aspirin, NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-immflamatory drugs – things like Advil, Motrin, Tylenol) and Steroids stop the production of one of the precursors to PG2. This stops PG2 from being produced, ultimately reducing inflammation and pain from the headache or body ache. Unfortunately, these anti-inflammatory drugs also stop the production of PG1 and PG3 by blocking the enzymes that help produce all three prostaglandins.

Trans-Fatty Acids are also inhibitors – refer back to the  Why Healthy Fats are good for you post for a short discussion on these.  Margarine and shortening are common products containing partially hydrogenated fats (trans-fatty acids).  Most processed foods are made with partially hydrogenated fat – check your ingredients carefully.

Prostaglandin’s are not just responsible for inflammation, so when they do get turned off, other metabolic functions in the body are also turned off.  This can result in kidney failure, liver failure, and ulcers with chronic use of these inhibitors.

 

Excessive insulin in the body creates a special issue.  This is especially relevant for those of you that have blood sugar balance dysfunction and are headed toward, or already are in, insulin resistence.  The extra insulin running around your body directly affects the production of PG2. In fact, it shuts off production of PG1 and actually helps start producing even more PG2. So not only is one of the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins shut off, the insulin is helping make even more inflammatory prostaglandin.

According to medical news today, “Chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hay fever.”

The key with everything is ….balance. You need all three types of fats in your diet, Omega-6 and Omega-3 should be at a 1:1 ratio, with some saturated fat thrown in, so that you can heal when you need to.

The next time you have a headache, first try drinking some water (dehydration can be a cause of inflammation), then try some fish oil.  Notice that EPA, which is found in fish oil, is an inhibitor to PG2.  The added bonus in consuming Fish Oil is that the EPA also helps make PG3. Turmeric has also been shown to help reduce inflammation without affecting PG1 and PG3.

I woke up with a headache, downed some water, took a Fish Oil pill (high-quality) with some food and HCL so I would digest properly, drank some turmeric tea and the pain is greatly reduced!

Easy Avocado Orange Chicken Wrap

I recently got “Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go” by Diana Rodgers.  Yes, another cookbook…I was looking for some inspiration for quick easy meals.  The cookbook doesn’t disappoint, if that’s what you are looking for.  Diana does a great job of pairing a few items together to make what looks like some tasty meals.  I am looking forward to making a few of these!

This recipe looks quick and easy, especially if you are looking for something to do with the leftover rotisserie chicken breast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 whole chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, minced
  • 1 tsp chives, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 large leaves of lettuce
  • 3 tbsp toasted coconut flakes for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Peel the orange and dice it into 1-inch pieces. Combine with the cubed avocado, chicken, basil, mint and chives. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve in large lettuce leaf or place on top of some baby lettuce in a bowl. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on the top.

To pack for the office, cover with the second lettuce leaf and wrap the entire sandwich in a paper towel and a sheet of tinfoil.

Diana has another book out “The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook” that has some incredible recipes as well.  Check out her Website and blog – Sustainable Dish.

You can pick up both of these cookbooks on Amazon.com just click on these links.

Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go 

 

 

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Homegrown Paleo Cookbook

TED Talk – Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness

This came across my email as the talk of the week.  Based on a 75-year old study, one result has stood out in this study helping people live longer and be happier.

We are social creatures by nature ….