Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dealing with Eye Strain, Blue Blockers, and Glare

Hello blogging community!

It's been way too long since my last post, with many, many changes since.  In a nutshell, I'm now a very happy single mother, continuing to raise a Paleo daughter, but instead of in the island community of the Florida Keys, we're now enjoying life in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  It is just gorgeous out here!  We are loving our new home.

This morning, we were having a discussion on The Paleo Approach Community's Facebook page about dealing with eye strain; specifically from the blue light emitted from our beloved electronic devices and computers.  During my blogging hiatus, I was engrossed in another of my favorite pastimes; computer gaming.  Talk about eye strain.  LOL!  At that point, I had been Paleo for three years, taking plenty of extra Omega-3 to minimize inflammation and help with eye health, using the most moisturizing contact lens solution money could buy, and had cartons of preservative-free eye drops at home and at work.  Nothing was helping my tired, dried-out eyes.  That is, until I was talking to a fellow gaming friend and he told me about a free program called F.lux.

F.lux is pretty awesome.  And did I mention it's free?  It automatically determines your geographical location, in relation to sunrise and sunset, and uses preset timers and settings to comfortably dim and warm the colors of your screen.  No fuss, no muss.  I now install that on every computer I own, and work computers as well.  Click here to go to the F.lux site to download for your PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad.  For those of us who love our Android phones, another poster suggested the Twilight app.  I'm going to give that a whirl and see how that goes.

For me, personally, I found I had to go a step further.  I finally figured out it was the harsh overhead lights in my office that were making my eyes so tired.  Wearing a pair of non-prescription, amber-tinted, anti-glare computer glasses solved that problem.  Fortunately, these are really easy to find, and even better, for us ladies, there are specific styles now available to suit our fashion-coordinated needs ;)

I started out with a very expensive, $100 pair of Gunnar glasses.  I love the look of these, but truly, they work just as well as my cheaper, backup pair of Gamma Rays, that only cost $25.

Gunnar
Gamma Ray
Once I started using computer glasses in combination with F.lux, the eye strain went away immediately.  No more drops needed, either.

Hope this helps others in similar situations :)

Faye

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Eczema, Autoimmunity, and a New Book from Sarah, the Paleo Mom!

Thank you to those of you who have been following this blog here, on Pinterest, Twitter, and on Facebook!  You've been so supportive, with sharing the recipes, and reporting your amazing results of living greener, and incorporating a Paleo lifestyle.  Over the past year and a half, I've seen first-hand how a shift to a whole-foods diet, without grains, has healed my family, and put us back on the path of good health, lots of energy, and much more freedom from chronic pain and allergies.

Recently, I had the honor of sharing some of my story with a guest post on the wonderful blog of Sarah, aka The Paleo Mom.  Please click here to visit Sarah's blog, and read about Healing the Skin From Within - Paleo, Gut Health, and Eczema.  Like many eczema sufferers, I sought relief over the years by trying out cream after cream, lotion after lotion, balm after balm, to no end.  As you'll read in my guest post, battling eczema goes much further than just trying to heal the skin.  It has to start from within.

Sarah herself also knows first-hand what it's like to suffer from an autoimmune condition.  This savvy PhD is my number-one source for all things autoimmune-related.  I've regularly sent friends to her site, to read up on Sarah's explanations of leaky gut, and how to customize a Paleo approach to healing, using the Autoimmune Protocol.  Sarah is a gifted writer and scientist, and as a fellow busy mom, I love that she presents solutions in a practical way.  She makes it totally do-able for all of us, to incorporate healthy, autoimmune-friendly foods in our diets, decipher our own individual food sensitivities and tailor to our needs, and still enjoy awesome-tasting, family-friendly dishes; everything from main courses to desserts.

On that note, I am so excited that Sarah has announced her next project.  Be sure to pre-order Sarah's new book, "The Paleo Approach", due out later this year!  From the science behind autoimmunity, to planning AIP meals on a budget, this book is going to be a cornerstone for all of us.


Don't forget to check out Sarah's official announcement on her blog, which includes a very special giveaway with five special prizes, including an advance copy of this book!

Thank you, Sarah, for your wonderful contributions in helping us all heal and manage our autoimmunity.  We are all excited, and can't wait to get our hands on your new book :)

Faye

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Instant 2-Ingredient Paleo Pancakes


It's inevitable: tucked away in the corner of the kitchen, the overripe bananas, wasting away, that nobody wants to eat.  Like me, you buy them firm and bright yellow, with such good intentions, as a super easy, grab-and-go healthy snack for your family.  Yet before you know it, one day you pass through the kitchen, and spot the browning, neglected mass, that's now way too sweet to eat.  What's a parent to do?

First, I have to thank Pinterest for a great tip: wrap the top of the banana stems with plastic wrap or foil.  Somehow, that slows the ripening process.  What I do is peel off the "ORGANIC BANANAS" tape that comes wrapped around my bunches of bananas, and wrap that around the top of the bunch, once I get them home.  Great way to repurpose that tape, that would otherwise go in the trash, and it buys the bananas a little more time.  Win-win ;)



My Pinterest followers know I love my smoothies, too!  One of my favorite tricks for saving those overripe bananas is to peel them and break them up into chunks, and then store them in the freezer in a zip-top bag.  I then grab a few frozen pieces and toss them in the blender, along with my other smoothie ingredients.  Very convenient for adding a little natural sweetness, thickening the smoothie, and helping chill it, too, without watering it down with ice.

Today, we have to thank Just Eat Real Food for sharing The Domestic Man's super simple recipe for another easy and delicious way to use up those overripe bananas: Two-Ingredient Pancakes.   What a great departure from our usual bacon/sausage/scrambled eggs, with this healthy breakfast addition.  This dish is on the table in no time flat!  No sweeteners needed, either.  My daughter gobbled up the pancakes, faster than I could fry them up!  We'll definitely be making these again.  Got bananas?  Got eggs?  That's all you need for this very easy recipe.  Here's how we made ours.




Two-Ingredient Paleo Pancakes

Makes three servings

Ingredients:

4 organic eggs
2 overripe bananas
Directions:
  1. Preheat skillet on medium-low.
  2. Combine eggs and banana in a blender on low speed (or mash and blend thoroughly with a fork).
  3. Grease skillet with bacon grease (substitute with coconut oil/butter/ghee).
  4. Fry each pancake until golden brown (about two minutes per side).
These pancakes have a really nice light texture; a nice departure from the denser versions made with coconut and/or almond flour.  Just pure, simple, straightforward goodness :)

Faye

Monday, January 21, 2013

Organic Skin Care Sale! Free $21 Moisturizer with $30 order!

NYR Organic Orange Flower Daily Moisturizer

Hi Everyone!  Hope you're having a great MLK weekend.

It's been a fantastic month for me, as a new consultant for NYR Organic skin care and cosmetics.  I am loving my new job!  Who doesn't love trying on and sharing beauty products; especially ones that are all-natural, paraben-free, and made with organic ingredients?  ;)

I'm truly in love with this incredible line from Neal's Yard Remedies.  Based in the UK, this carbon-neutral, eco-conscious, family-owned company has been in the business of organic skin care and natural remedies for over 30 years.  It's so great to find a company with such solid core values, behind these unmatched products.

Today, I'm here to introduce to you their Nourishing Orange Flower Daily Moisture.  This lovely neroli-scented lotion is now my go-to daily moisturizer for my face.  While it's made to nourish dry skin, I find it's been just right for my combination skin, and absorbs right in, with no greasy film.  Unlike other brands of moisturizers I've tried over the years, I've had no issues with any of the Neal's Yard Remedies moisturizers under my makeup.  In fact, I find they absorb even faster than other brands, and I don't even have to wait, before starting my makeup application.  I love, too, that like all Neal's Yard Remedies products, this is free of artificial fragrances, has no petroleum products, it's phthalate-free, and not tested on animals.  All of their products are carefully hand-crafted in the UK, and are full of high-quality, concentrated, natural ingredients.  Just a little goes a long way, to provide just the perfect amount of moisture, that lasts all day.

To welcome in the New Year, all $30+ orders placed before 1-31-13 will include a free tube of this Orange Flower Daily Moisture; a $21 value!  My friends and family have been loving this moisturizer, along with their other NYR Organic goodies.

Don't forget to check out the other specials this month, with many favorites from 15-20% off, including our Organic Essential Oils Trio collection.

Organic Essential Oils Trio

Please check out the incredible deals, and hope you'll take advantage of this fantastic sale!  Please contact me with any questions about these products, for special shipping deals, and to learn how to become an NYR Organic consultant yourself!



I am an independent consultant for NYR Organic US.
Links within the post are to my online store.
This is a review of personal purchases.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Simple & Delicious: Oven-Roasted Cabbage


Happy New Year, everyone!  Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

Christmas is always a special time for our family, but after all the holiday treats (and food cheats) it's always a relief to get back to our normal routine afterwards.  Last night, we enjoyed some comfort food: oven-roasted chicken, and a very simple, yet delicious side of roasted cabbage.  This was so easy to put together, very budget-friendly, at less than a dollar for a whole head of cabbage, and an excellent way to get some more cruciferous vegetables in our diet, too.   You can easily add and roast extra heads; enough to feed a larger crowd.  It's also a convenient dish, that can roast right alongside with your main course that's already in the oven; a real time-saver.

Simple & Delicious Oven-Roasted Cabbage


Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:


1 head cabbage, outer leaves removed
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Halve cabbage head, and cut out stem.
  3. Cut halves into thirds.
  4. Arrange cabbage wedges in a parchment paper-lined baking dish.
  5. Drizzle cabbage with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
  6. Roast uncovered for about 25 minutes.
The cabbage came out really tender, juicy, and mild.  A great accompaniment to our chicken, and many more dishes to come!

Enjoy :)

Faye

Friday, December 7, 2012

Paleo Pressure Cooker Beef & Sausage Stew & Product Review: Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker


It's stew night in the Green Organic household :)

Feeding a Paleo family can be challenging, but we try to make it easier by shopping smart and planning meals ahead of time.  One of the best things we've invested in, in recent years, is a deep freezer, to take advantage of sales on meat.  It's also a great place to store bulk packages of our Paleo baking supplies, like coconut and almond flour.  Buying in bulk and freezing is definitely important for staying on budget.  We regularly stroll the meat section for sales, and stock up on whole chickens, and tougher cuts, like pork shoulders and beef roasts, then break up bulk packages, and freeze them for later use.  But what to do with all those big, tough cuts that need long, slow, moist cooking, when you're a busy family with two working parents?

I used to rely on my slow cooker/crock pot for things like stews and braises, but the results were never to my husband's liking; coming out overly mushy most of the time.  Then there was the concern with leaving a cooking appliance on all day while we weren't home.  That meant we could only slow-cook on the weekends, and had to turn to faster-cooking, more expensive cuts of meat during the week.  Lucky for us, there was a solution: an electric counter-top pressure cooker.


Growing up, my Chinese parents always had a stove-top pressure cooker pot around for making traditional soups; one of those old-fashioned, super heavy pots, that would hiss and spew the whole time they cooked, which always rather intimidated me.  Thankfully, pressure cookers have come a long way since, with new automated functions and safety features built in.  After further research, and finding out just how fast these things can cook, I was ready to dive in.  It's hard to believe it's been a year and a half since we first got our Cuisinart electric pressure cooker.  Between making bone broths, simmering stews, and braising meats until they're fork-tender and delicious, we use our pressure cooker at least once, if not twice every week!  A friend followed suit and purchased the same model, which she uses to make homemade apple sauce for her kids.  It's proven to be a very handy cooking device!

So just how fast does a pressure cooker cook?  First, factor in the built-in browning feature of this counter-top model.  I couldn't do that with my old crock pot!  That saves having to heat up and brown meats in a separate pan, and the transferring of the meat to the cooking vessel.  Who doesn't love less mess to clean up?  Then it's a matter of calculating the cooking time for your dish:

  • Bone broths (3.5 lbs bones and meat): 90 minutes
  • Pork half picnic shoulder (4 lbs): 90 minutes
  • Beef stew (sirloin, chuck, 2 lbs): 30 minutes
  • Corned beef brisket (2 lbs): 30 minutes
  • Whole chicken: 30 minutes
  • Chicken thighs (2 lbs): 20 minutes
  • Soups: 20 minutes
  • Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc): 5 minutes

I love that when I open the pot, all the meat and vegetables are still intact!  The meat is tender, but hasn't separated and displaced itself from the bones, and the veggies retain their shape.  I regularly toss in whole garlic cloves in my pressure cooker, and even though they're completely soft, they're still whole at the end of cooking.  Definitely no more mushy mystery meat for us!  Pressure cookers also use less liquid, and retain a lot of moisture when cooking.  That's something to keep in mind, if you're converting any old slow cooker recipes.  You can also get away with less seasoning, as the pressure actually helps infuse the food as it cooks.  Be sure to read the manual that comes with your pressure cooker to guide you along.

As an added bonus, the pressure cooker has no problems tackling frozen meat.  My husband and my daughter both love corned beef brisket, which I regularly buy already brined and seasoned. Those can go straight from the deep freezer into the pressure cooker, frozen to done in 40 minutes, and with no thawing.  Very convenient on work nights, freeing up my hands, and giving us plenty of time to settle in and get the side dishes going, and have the entree done in very little time.

This Cuisinart model is very easy to operate, with just three buttons: Menu, Temperature, and Start.  For pressurized cooking, there are two simple options: low and high.  Low is what I use when I've got the pot filled to the maximum (2/3 full for all pressure cookers), which is usually when I'm making bone broth.  High pressure is for all other times, like when cooking meats.  The menu button cycles through Low Pressure, High Pressure,then various decreasing increments of heating the cooking pot itself (Browning, Sauté, Simmer), and finally, a very handy, automatic Keep Warm stage.  As I mentioned, I love the browning feature, and the non-stick insert makes cooking and cleaning up very simple.  The lid locks on very securely, and there's no need to second-guess if it's on right.  A little red indicator/safety valve pops up along the top of the lid, to let you know when the pot has fully pressurized.  There's also very little noise, compared to my parents' old stove-top pressure cooker pot.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I also like the silicone gasket that fits under the lid.  It's very secure, easy to put on and remove, and much less hassle than the old-fashioned rubber gaskets my parents always fought with.  All in all, this pressure cooker has a very simple design, and it's very easy to use.  If you can operate a crock pot, you can operate a pressure cooker.  It's definitely paid for itself in shortened cooking time, and being able to use those cheaper, tougher cuts of meat on more of a regular basis.

Tonight, we're enjoying a hearty Beef & Sausage Stew, Paleo-style, from our pressure cooker.  Stews are such a convenient way to feed lots of veggies to the family, and use up what you might have in the fridge.   Frozen vegetables work great in this dish, too; just wait until the end of cooking to add those in.  The base for this stew is just simply a package of frozen squash purée, adding some extra vitamins, sweetness, and body, and also making it Autoimmune Protocol-friendly, for those who don't eat tomatoes.  This, of course, can also be prepared on the stove-top in a dutch oven, or slow cooker, cooking low and slow, until your meat and veggies are tender.  Just be sure to add a little more liquid, if you're using something other than a pressure cooker.

Paleo Pressure Cooker Beef & Sausage Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:


2 lbs beef (sirloin, chuck, etc), cubed
1 lb bulk Italian pork sausage
1 package frozen squash purée (12-ounce) (can substitute for 1 can of tomatoes)
2 onions, diced
5 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen cut leaf spinach
1 cup water or bone broth/stock
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Real Salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set pressure cooker on "browning" mode.
  2. Add sausage, and cook until some of the fat has rendered.
  3. Add the beef and continue to brown the meat.
  4. Add onions and celery, and allow to sweat.
  5. Mix in water, carrots, and remaining spices and herbs.
  6. Distribute the stew ingredients evenly in the pot.  Set block of frozen squash purée on top (does not have to be fully submerged).
  7. Lock on the lid, set for low-pressure, and set timer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes, let pressure fall naturally.
  9. Remove the lid and set back on "browning" mode, to bring back to a gentle boil.
  10. Add frozen peas and spinach, and cook through.
  11. Season with fresh ground black pepper to taste.

This stew makes for great leftovers, too.  Remember that non-stick, removable insert?  It's so handy to lift that out of the pressure cooker, and set into a sink of ice water, to quickly cool leftovers to prep for the fridge.  This is one of our top favorite kitchen must-haves.  Hope you'll consider picking one up for yourself or a loved one :)

Faye

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Paleo Apple Cider Donut Holes


Seasons greetings, everyone!

It's that beautiful time of year again.  Our family is certainly getting into the Christmas spirit here, breaking out the decorations, and enjoying some holiday baking together.  We're delighted with all the amazing, gluten-free Paleo recipes that are being shared, and hope to try as many as we can!


Last week, I shared with you a review of our newest toy: a Nostalgia Electrics Cake Pop and Donut Hole Maker. This really is a nifty little kitchen gadget, that turns out amazingly good baked treats that are totally Paleo-compliant, with virtually no mess, in very little time, and without the need to fire up the oven.  For those still shopping, this would make a great gift for under $25, for anybody who loves to cook. Aside from sweet treats, I managed to create this very easy and tasty recipe for savory Sweet Potato Mini Crab Cakes.  They turned out wonderfully, and will definitely be on the regular recipe rotation in our household.  I couldn't believe how fast the cake pop maker turned these out; taking only seven minutes to completely cook through to light, fluffy, golden-brown deliciousness.  I wish I had picked up one of these machines sooner!


Once again, I have to thank Lea over at PaleoSpirit.com for inspiring this whole cake pop/donut hole adventure, with her recipe for Paleo Apple Cider Donuts.  Lea has an actual mini donut maker, but her recipe worked perfectly in our cake pop maker, too.  We have a couple takes on Lea's recipe now.  The first couple times I made these, I didn't have any apple cider in the house, so I substituted the same amount in orange juice.  That transformed the recipe into wonderful, moist, little orange spice cakes, and I highly recommend giving that version a try, too.

Here's now our cake pop/donut hole version of Lea's original recipe, which my daughter also helped decorate for the holidays.  Not to worry if you don't have a cake pop maker or donut machine: a fan from Facebook has successfully made this recipe in her mini muffin pan, baked at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.  I've also included our recipe for the optional glaze, which is easily made corn- and dairy-free, by making your own homemade powdered sugar, and substituting coconut oil for butter.  Simply combine a cup of granulated cane sugar in your food processor with a tablespoon of arrowroot starch, and pulse, to make a good Paleo substitute for powdered sugar. Kids of course love any kind of sprinkles and decorations (not exactly Paleo, but more for the presentation and fun-factor).  Still, my favorite was topping these off with cinnamon and sugar.  That really helped the flavors shine through.  Experiment and be creative!


Paleo Apple Cider Donut Holes

Makes 12 large cake pops/donut holes

Ingredients:

For the cake pops:

  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp Real Salt
  • *optional decorating sprinkles and candy toppings

For the optional cinnamon sugar coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp grassfed butter/coconut oil/ghee (softened and spreadable)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp water

Directions:

  1. Preheat donut hole maker. (Alternate: bake in mini muffin pan/donut pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut oil, and honey. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, breaking up any lumps.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into the wet. 
  5. Add apple cider, and stir until evenly combined.
  6. Using a cookie dough scoop or small ice cream scoop, fill a heaping mound of batter into the compartments of the donut hole maker.
  7. Close the lid, careful to latch tightly, and set your timer for four minutes.
  8. As the machine is very hot, using oven mitts, carefully pick up the donut hole maker and flip it over onto its front side, onto a heat-safe surface.  This is the secret to having nice, uniform, evenly round and browned results.
  9. After four minutes, unplug the donut hole maker, and flip it back over onto its back.  Let it continue to cook for three more minutes.  There is enough residual heat to continue the cooking process, without over-browning the outside edges.
  10. After three minutes, carefully open the machine, and transfer the donut holes to a cooling rack.  Allow to cool fully before attempting to frost and decorate.
  11. While donut holes are cooling, prepare the glaze and toppings.
  12. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, combine butter/coconut oil/ghee with powdered sugar, incorporating half a tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time, mixing thoroughly.
  13. Add water incrementally, to form a smooth, slightly runny paste.
  14. Dip cooled donut holes in glaze and decorate with sprinkles and/or cinnamon-sugar blend.
Our first batch of these holiday donut holes turned out great, and we can't wait to make more to share with our friends and family.  We certainly hope you will, too!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Faye

Friday, November 30, 2012

Paleo Sweet Potato Mini Crab Cakes & Product Review: Nostalgia Electrics Cake Pop/Donut Hole Maker

Paleo Sweet Potato Mini Crab Cakes

Many thanks to Lea over at PaleoSpirit.com for sharing an awesome recipe that inspired this treat; her special Apple Cider Paleo Donuts, that she made in a counter-top electric mini donut maker!  Delectable, sweet, cakey donuts were certainly something I'd thought I'd never eat again, once going Paleo.  Glad Lea was here to prove me wrong ;)  As fate would have it, while at my local grocery store, I looked down and saw this adorable little cake pop/donut hole maker, and it was even a few dollars cheaper than Amazon!  I couldn't wait to get home and try Lea's recipe.  It was so quick and easy mix together, and seven minutes later, we were enjoying Paleo-compliant, gluten-free, yummy little donut holes.  Definitely a new family favorite.


This is a great little machine.  Right out of the box, it's very non-stick, and I didn't have to apply any extra grease, before cooking.  Just do be careful, as the machine does get very hot on the outside.  Wear your oven mitts!  I also set the machine on top of a trivet, to protect my counter top.  There are red and green indicator lights, to let you know when the machine is properly heated, and I love the locking latch.  More on the importance of this latch later.  This particular model produces seven ping-pong-ball-sized cake pops/donut holes, and works best with denser batters, like you'd use for muffins or cupcakes. A cookie dough scoop makes it easy to measure out a good heaping dollop of batter into each compartment.  Then just snap on the lid, and let the baking begin!

Today, I decided to experiment with a savory recipe.  While at the grocery store, I also got a great deal on canned wild-caught crab meat.  That sparked an idea for Paleo sweet potato crab cakes, but without the splattering mess of trying to pan-fry them.  This recipe works great in this counter top donut hole maker, but you can easily adapt this for use in the oven, and bake into little muffins.  Fifteen minutes at 400 degrees F should do it, or as soon as they're golden brown.  On to the recipe!

Paleo Mini Sweet Potato Crab Cakes

Makes 21 mini crab cakes

2 six-ounce cans of crab meat, drained
2 room-temperature eggs
3 tbsp melted grease (bacon grease, coconut oil, butter, or ghee)
1/2 cup roasted sweet potato, mashed
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp Real Salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried herbs (Herbs de Provence, oregano, etc)
1/4 tsp paprika
2-3 grinds fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat your donut hole maker.

Combine crab meat, eggs, grease, sweet potato, green onions, and coconut milk, and blend thoroughly.

Combine remaining dry ingredients, breaking up any lumps in the coconut flour.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix well.

Using a cookie dough scoop or small ice cream scoop, fill a heaping mound of batter into the compartments of the donut hole maker.

Close the lid, careful to latch tightly, and set your timer for four minutes.

As the machine is very hot, using oven mitts, carefully pick up the donut hole maker and flip it over onto its front side, onto a heat-safe surface.  This is the secret to having nice, uniform, evenly round and browned results.

After four minutes, unplug the donut hole maker, and flip it back over onto its back.  Let it continue to cook for three more minutes.  There is enough residual heat to continue the cooking process, without over-browning the outside edges.

After three minutes, carefully open the machine, and transfer the donut holes to a cooling rack.

Serve warm with a nice organic side salad.

It was so much fun putting these together, and I love that there was so little to clean up.  No splattering mess from trying to fry anything on the stove top, and once the donut maker had cooled a bit, it was easy to wipe clean with a damp paper towel.

Next time, I think we'll add a little zing, and try making a little dipping sauce to go with these.  Maybe something with avocado, or dill and lemon. They're still really good just by themselves, too ;)

Enjoy!

Faye

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Me vs. Candida - An Epic Battle

My personal story of recovering from Candida overgrowth

Hi everyone!  It's great to be back and blogging again, after a rather stressful, painful, and frustrating period of several months of illness.  It was quite a journey, trying to figure out what was going on with me, and I'm glad to report I'm finally on the mend.

All this began late in the summer, when I started breaking out in horrific rashes, from what I thought was eczema from a leaky gut.  Life was being extra hectic, and while I was (and still am) eating a grain-free/gluten-free/dairy-free Paleo diet, I wasn't taking the best care of myself.  Nights of five- and six-hours of sleep were becoming the norm, meals were rushed, and I was taking little to no time for myself to rest, exercise, or de-stress.  I was seriously pushing my body beyond its limits.

It wasn't long before I started breaking out in rashes.  Having suffered through eczema as a teen, that's what I assumed was going on with me, so I went about my old ways of cortisone creams.  Soon, a few spots here and there on a couple fingers had spread to large, angry, red patches that were hot to the touch on my forearms.  Then my chest began flaring up.  My doctors quickly shot me up full of steroids and put me on rounds of pills to try to calm the effects.  In hindsight, this was a huge mistake.  Rashes like eczema don't crop up because our bodies are starved of steroids; it's your body telling you that something else is wrong.

So, in the meantime, I also assumed I was having some kind of autoimmune issues from a leaky gut.  I found a great friend in Sarah Ballantyne, better known as The Paleo Mom, with her fantastic write-ups on how to modify the Paleo diet for autoimmune conditions.  Sarah herself suffers from an autoimmune condition, and has to avoid/limit certain foods, to keep her symptoms at bay, and also takes certain supplements to help her body heal.  I began restricting foods, and started taking fermented cod liver oil for extra Omega-3's, L-glutamine to heal what I thought was a leaky gut, and a slew of other supplements.  Unfortunately for me, the end of each round of steroids brought my rashes back, angrier and more inflamed than before, and spreading to areas like my face.  I started getting blisters on my palms, and later, the back of my hands would crack and weep.  Sarah was extremely supportive and helped reassure me that I was on the right track with my eating, with plenty of bone broths, fermented foods, and sticking with the Autoimmune Protocol, but the painful rashes continued.  I was at my wits end.  No amount of creams or supplements or a change of diet were helping.  A final call to one doctor ended with her washing her hands of me, and telling me to go see a dermatologist.  There's conventional medicine for you: clearly what was wrong with me was just manifesting in my skin, and not the skin itself.  Even I knew that.  I've been to dermatologists my whole life for my prior eczema problems.  All they do is push creams and pills on you.  None of them ever stopped to help me find the root cause.   This doctor clearly wasn't going to help me find the root cause of my rashes, either.  It was then that I decided to seek out help from a functional medicine practitioner.

If you've never been to a functional medicine practitioner, I highly recommend it.  These specialists are here to help treat the whole body and restore balance without the use of drugs.  Drugs are "band-aid" solutions to symptoms, but they never fully address the root causes.  I was fortunate to have found a chiropractor in town who uses the nutrition teachings of Weston A. Price, the late expert on the downfalls of the modern Western diet on our health, and the importance of traditional foods for well-being. I was thoroughly impressed just with this doctor's intake paperwork, which asked for everything, including eight pages of not just medical history, but eating habits, elimination patterns, and a host of possible symptoms, from head to toe.  In all my life, I had never seen such a comprehensive questionnaire.  It's stuff I wished all of my conventionally-trained doctors had asked (and should have), but never did.    

It was wonderful to sit down with a health professional who not only knew what Paleo was, but actually implements it in his practice.  We geeked out over supplements for a while, and I was off for some extensive blood work.  Thankfully, the results came back relatively normal, with no signs of anything serious, like Hashimoto's thyroiditis.  My thyroid levels were low, but not at the point of hypothyroidism.  My liver was also congested.  What surprised me the most was that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low, and I happen to live in the Sunshine State.  I should mention that the blood work was done in my regular doctor's office, as the nurse who gave me my annual check-up had no idea what Paleo was, and wanted me to have my fasting blood sugar tested.  This was based on the fact that I had gestational diabetes when pregnant with my daughter.  Nevermind that it was seven years ago, way before I went Paleo.  This woman not only didn't know what Paleo was; she was also rushing through my appointment, couldn't get me out of the office fast enough, and obviously couldn't care less.  I wasn't about to waste my time on deaf ears, explaining how an ancestral-type diet reverses insulin resistance.  Here, however, was the proof in black and white when my lab work came back: my fasting insulin level was that of an Amazonian hunter-gatherer.  Paleo for the win ;)

Back at the chiropractor's office with test results, I was told to continue with the Paleo diet, and we added on a few more supplements.  Unfortunately, the flare-ups continued.  Soon after that, the chiropractor suspected the rashes were actually coming from what's called a healing crisis.  Also called a Herxheimer reaction or die-off, a wide range of symptoms can manifest in the body from brain fog to skin conditions from the toxins released by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast.  In my case, it appears I've been ravaged by a Candida infection this whole time.  Candida is a yeast that normally resides in the gut, but can become rampant for a number of reasons, including stress and not making enough hydrochloric acid for digestion.  Unfortunately, when Candida go wild, and especially when they die, they release up to 79 various toxins.  That would explain why my liver was on overdrive, trying to detox.  Unfortunately, one of these toxins isn't readily removed by the liver: acetaldehyde.  This particular toxin stays in the body, and isn't purged like the others.  Acetaldehyde is serious trouble: it's a neurotoxin that can damage brain cells, and wreak havoc on the immune, respiratory, and endocrine systems.  That probably explains my low thyroid numbers, too.

Before knowing acetaldehyde was the problem, the toxins continued to build up under my skin.  They especially liked to accumulate near my joints, which for me, was on the backs of my hands, and on my wrists, forearms, and elbows.  At one point, I was wrapping my elbows and backs of my hands with gauze, to soak up all the fluid that was seeping out and forming blisters.  The fluid coming out was also burning, and it was in fact the acetaldehyde accumulating in my tissues, swelling them up with nowhere else to go.  My skin was hot to the touch, and at one point, my face was so swollen, I couldn't even fully open my eyes.  My energy level had plummeted, and I was walking around in an exhausted brain fog.  I also developed post-nasal drip and a lot of phlegm.  Here I thought I was catching a little cold, and didn't think anything of it at the time, but it turns out these are more symptoms of a Candida infection, too, with the toxins invading the lung cells, and the body trying to expel them.  

Thankfully, at this point, I was already exploring the GAPS diet, and had cut out sugar, including fruits and even Paleo-friendly carbs, like sweet potatoes and winter squash.  That cut off the food source to the sugar-loving Candida yeast in my gut.  I had also stumbled across the wonderful detox benefits of Bentonite clay.  Human beings throughout history have relied on clay internally and externally for its healing properties.  Modern scientific analysis now reveals why it's so beneficial: Bentonite clay is negatively charged and attracts and holds onto positively charged toxins in the body, so they can be eliminated.  With the thumbs-up of my chiropractor, I began soaking my feet in hot water and clay at night, and drinking a few teaspoons of dry clay in water, several times a day. Clay isn't absorbed by the body, but it does a great job neutralizing toxins in the gut, and it also literally pulls Candida right off intestinal walls.  That took care of the Candida overgrowth in my gut, but there was still the matter of dealing with the accumulated acetaldehyde in my swollen tissues.

Here's what motivated me to write this post: many people have written about Candida, but not many address the issue of the acetaldehyde.  In all my Candida research, there's plenty of advice on how to deal with cutting out Candida's food source (sugar), how to purge Candida overgrowth from the gut, how to meal plan, and eat properly to minimize future flare-ups.  However, like I said before, that nasty by-product of Candida, acetaldehyde, that was poisoning me is stubborn, and likes to stick around, despite all detox efforts.  My gut was healing, but I couldn't deal with any more burning fluid seeping out of my skin.  It took a lot of research before I came across something that directly addressed the overload of acetaldehyde swelling my body, and how to get rid of it: molybdenum.  

Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral.  When it comes to Candida, molybdenum has the amazing ability of being able to go straight to the liver, and help it turn that acetaldehyde toxin into something that can be readily excreted by the kidneys: acetic acid.  Back to my original healing protocol of thinking I was healing eczema from a leaky gut, I was already taking NOW Foods NAC supplement, which contains some molybdenum, at 50 mcg per capsule, for a total of 100 mcg for the day.  However, when tackling acetaldehyde poisoning, upwards of 250 mcg three times a day may be necessary.  Based on my NOW Foods NAC supplement, that amounts to fifteen capsules a day.  I can tell you, within an hour of increasing my intake of one capsule to five, I was already feeling tremendously better.  The hot, red, inflamed areas started feeling a little cooler to the touch, and I could feel the swelling lessen.  The next day, I awoke with a much clearer mind, and a definite improvement in all my symptoms; the first time in ages.  It's a slow-going process, but very reassuring to see and feel the difference, and know I'm on the right track of healing.

Here's hoping none of you have to experience what I went through.  I'm going to do my best not to fall into those traps again, with continued good, clean, healthy eating, probiotics, plenty of rest, those awesome chiropractic adjustments, and taking time for myself.  

Here's to your good health!


Faye
Candida source image courtesy of GreaterImmunity.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Getting Crafty: Amigurumi Crochet Animals!

Pig by GreenOrganicMama - Inspired by the Chipotle "Back to the Start" Pigs 
About two months ago, I was inspired!  My friends already know I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, and I just happened to be looking at Gryffindor house scarves.  They are really cool, but I thought to myself, "These look pretty easy to make."  That's what prompted me to pick up crochet again.

I have to thank my third-grade teacher, who first taught me, and my entire class, how to do many crafts, including crochet.  I hadn't really made anything since that potholder for my mom, but a few Google searches later, I was in love with all the amazing patterns, and the HUGE variety of crafts that can be made.

I still have every intention to make that Harry Potter scarf using this free pattern. I've got the yarn and everything!  However, I've been side-tracked, making little animals instead, which the Japanese call Amigurumi.  Google Amigurumi, and you'll find pages and pages, devoted to this art of making adorable little crochet toys.  They are also super easy and inexpensive to make.  Crochet, and its sister, knitting, are both re-surging as popular and cool crafts.  We're not talking grandma's doilies here; with a little time, patience, and imagination, you can make some truly awesome things.  Come see for yourself on my Pinterest Crochet board.

The nice thing about crochet is that it's very inexpensive to get started, and the materials are cheap, and very easy to find.  You can take your hooks and yarn with you pretty much anywhere, and you can do as much or as little as you want, in one sitting.  It's really quite relaxing!  As for the hooks, I've already tried a few different types and brands of hooks, but I certainly have a favorite.  Check out Clover Soft Touch which are available individually, or in a great value pack of eight popular sizes (C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J).  My value pack also came with a great travel case to store all the hooks.

Yarn is super easy to find practically anywhere, online and offline.  Still, it's nice to be able to walk through a store, and touch and feel, and match up colors.  Most Amigurumi patterns call for "worsted weight" yarn, which is clearly marked on yarn labels. While you're at the store, pick up some safety doll eyes, and a bag of polyester fiber-fill.  Maybe a good pair of scissors, too.

You'll probably need one more thing, which is a set of stitch markers.  Now, you can certainly buy a small pack for less than $2 at the craft store, but if you're like me, you probably already have a cheaper alternative at home: plastic-coated paper clips.  I don't know why I haven't seen any other crocheters mention using paper clips; I think they're much easier to find, and way cheaper than even safety pins.

Getting started is super easy.  There are plenty of great books out there, but I found the best tool was actually YouTube.  Nerdigurumi is a great resource, with an entire series of how-to's:


Once you have the basics, the hardest part is choosing just one pattern to start with.  There are thousands of free patterns, as well as those available for sale on Etsy, and in traditional books.  

Here are a few of my recent projects, which have been so much fun to do.  This is Timmy, from the awesome British cartoon series, Timmy Time, which was a spin-off of Shaun the Sheep (which was a spin-off of Wallace & Grommit) ;)  My Timmy was based on this adorable free pattern, with a few of my own modifications:


And here's another picture of my little pig, inspired by the "Back to the Start" Chipotle commercial:



I've already been asked to make another pig, so I'll have the pattern available ASAP :)

Happy crafting!

Faye

No promotional consideration was paid for this post.
Images copyright GreenOrganicMama.com.  

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