Root Vegetable Delight

I am always looking for ways to make beets taste delightful – they are so  packed with health benefiting properties!

Beets support the liver. We all know how much the modern-day liver must deal with in terms of environmental toxins, medications and food additives. Giving this important organ support offers a big boost in how we feel, and beets are one of the very best foods for this purpose.

If we are living with any type of autoimmune disorder it is important to remember that all of the organs and systems in the body are interconnected. When we eat foods to heal the liver, we are helping our entire body heal, since the liver is such a key player in the overall function of the body.

This dish makes an excellent mid-winter lunch or dinner, and also works as a tasty side dish.

 

Recipe:

Ingredients

3 or 4 organic beets

3 large, organic yams

1 organic sweet onion

Ghee

1 Tablespoon Curry powder (can be straight ground curry, or if you have a mixture you like, that works)

3 Tablespoons Turmeric (the SUPER spice)

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 cup organic basmati rice, soaked (soak rice for 24 hours, rinsing and changing water halfway through)

1 can organic Coconut Milk

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel beets and yams and cut them into cubes. Cut onion into strips.

Place beets, yams and onions on large glass baking dish and drizzle generously with melted ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for an hour.

Forty minutes later, place drained rice and coconut milk, along with two cups of water, into a sauce pan or rice cooker to cook. If using sauce pan, bring mixture to a boil, then cover and turn to low heart.

When veggies are done roasting, melt 2 tablespoons ghee slowly in large cast iron pan on low heat, stirring in turmeric and curry powder. Stir constantly until a nice paste is formed.

Place roasted veggies into the pan, and turn heat to medium. Stir veggies to coat with paste.

Place almost all the way cooked coconut rice into cast iron mixture. It is good if it still has a moistness, even a little wet still.

Stir in well and fry together with veggies for seven to ten minutes, continuing to stir.

YUM!

Your liver will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn: The Season of Soup and Spice

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I love this time of year in the Northern hemisphere: as the wind grows cooler and the leaves become tinged with the colors of warmth, the Crock pot reappears on my counter, diffusing the scent of spice and delight into the air.

One year ago I was in the middle of my elimination cleanse. After a lifetime of eating a gluten and sugar-rich diet, I constructed my cleanse over the course of a year. Gentle makes sense to me, when dealing with an issue as sensitive as what we eat. Everything we ingest goes through the process by which our cells are built – they regenerate, on average, every seven years. This regeneration process is constant, and the very fabric of our bodies – the cells- are fed by the nutrients extracted from what we eat.

And so, changing our diet, means we are changing ourselves. This metamorphosis requires much support.

In September of 2014 I eliminated practically everything from my diet, including: gluten, sugar, processed foods of any kind- only whole foods were allowed, meaning only ingredient lists of one ingredient.  Recipes such as the one offered here, were allowed, because they were homemade using whole ingredients -no store bought sauces or spice blends.

Soups felt like life-savers.  The healing properties in this soup fortified my weakened small intestine and made me stronger than I have been in many, many years. Allergies, autoimmune conditions, fatigue and thyroid disorders will all be pacified when the gut is strong. Thus, this soup is a powerhouse of healing.

Using homemade bone broth for the stock is where you get the deepest healing value. Slow cooking animal bones extracts minerals that are rejuvenating for our digestive system, cells, and connective tissue. The collagen in the broth literally heals us, from the inside out.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Cooking it on low heat with the ghee releases the healing properties of this amazing spice. Cinnamon, while adding flavor perfect for this season, also has the power to bust through candida, and kill it. (Candida is out-of-control sugar in the gut- a problem many of us in today’s world face.)

So, put your music on, light your scented candle and savor the Autumn season with this healing soup.

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

4 or 5 beef neck bones – make sure the beef is grass fed

9 cups filtered water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Place bones on a glass baking dish and bake them for 30 minutes to extract flavor. Place roasted bones into a large soup pot. Pour water over the bones. Add the apple cider vinegar – this helps extract the minerals from the bones. Bring pot to a boil. After five minutes of boiling, turn the heat to low and add salt. Allow the bones to cook on low for around 20 hours. You can also use a Crock pot for this process.

Autumn Healing Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

2 organic sweet onions

3 tablespoons organic ghee

1 tablespoon organic turmeric

2 cups homemade beef broth

1 can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon organic cinammon

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Peel and cube the squash. Steam the squash until easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, cut onions into long slices. Warm ghee in a frying pan (cast iron is the best) and add the turmeric. Warm the ghee and turmeric over a low heat, stirring. When they are blended into a paste, add the onions. Cook onions on low until they are translucent and soft. Place the softened squash, the onions and the broth into a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Place this puree into a Crock pot. Add coconut milk, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Simmer the soup on low for three or four hours.

Enjoy, and be healed!

Swimming toward the light

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The past couple of years have been transformational.

In January of 2014 I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This diagnosis came as quite a shock.

The frustrating part was that, even after following my doctor’s advice perfectly, by August of 2014, I was still dealing with the daily hives that had plagued my life for over a year. These red welts appeared all over my skin in the morning – every single day. This picture of my shoulder gives you an idea of what they looked like. They would pop up on different places on my skin. The worst was when they covered my neck, those grew the most inflamed and the feeling was most uncomfortable.

The hives would slowly subside after I took a Benadryl, only to make a comeback in the afternoon or evening. And no one had any answers aside from ‘take more Benadryl’. It was like an unsolvable mystery.

This was a very challenging experience. I felt like I had no understanding of my own body, like it was betraying me. Normally in life, if someone betrays us, we leave them. But how do you leave your own body? You don’t.

Prior to all this, I had been a very healthy and happy person. But, red welts all over your skin every day are a sure road to lack of energy (I’m positive the Benadryl was not helping in this department) and depression.

I refused to accept this life. Empowering myself with knowledge about how my body actually works has been a fascinating journey. I had to reach deep into myself to find the energy to continue learning, and believing that I could affect my own health. Even though I was exhausted from the hives, Benadryl and autoimmunity, and at times I felt like I was drowning, I just kept swimming up, toward the light. As I learned how the body works and how it can break down, I added layers of healing into my daily practice. After a year and a half of this swimming upward, I feel as though I have plunged through the surface and the sun shines on my face – finally.

I am not drowning. I am stronger than ever.

And the journey continues – my passion for learning about the body has only grown. Implementing my new knowledge has lead me to a place of true health and vitality. I feel better today, at forty-years old, than I have since I was in my mid-twenties.

It is amazing how life unfolds. I never expected that this would happen to me. This experience has deepened me, and I am grateful for it.

However, for the first eight months after the diagnosis, I did NOT feel grateful! During those months I felt lost and betrayed by my own body. Depression settled over me as I considered the fact that I may be declining into worse and worse health, since doctors say that one autoimmune disorder often leads to others.

But then, in September 2014, a miracle occurred. The culmination of the work I had been doing since I had been diagnosed was reached. I had been sugar and processed food-free for nine months, gluten-free for four, and dairy-free for three. I did a 30 day hiatus from red wine (something I typically drink a couple of times a week). I ate whole, organic foods and drank my bone broth (see previous post for recipe and description). I practiced meditation and positive affirmations.

Halfway through September, my hives disappeared. One morning I woke up with a feeling of freedom. No red welts. Over the next few weeks the feeling of freedom blossomed. The hives were totally gone. I felt healthy – for the first time in over a year.

With all the books and articles I have read, and online seminars on autoimmunity I have attended, I now have a clear understanding of how my healing occurred. The picture has grown clearer and clearer. I will continue to explain this phenomena, and others related to health, on this blog.

I am a pretty private person, and it is somewhat difficult for me to share all of this. It’s just that lately, I have been feeling that through sharing what I went through, I may somehow serve. In a world where many people are suffering, it is time to lift one another up in encouragement. It is time to share our stories and together, move toward healing.

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Bone Broth Saves The Day

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After eliminating various key players from my diet, including sugar, gluten and dairy, I was no stranger to will power and cleansing. But, what really saved the day and eradicated the daily hives, had nothing to do with denying myself anything. Instead, it had to do with adding something.

For me, true healing came down to the bone broth. I know that cleansing prepared my body to receive – to reap the benefits of the broth. But the step in my year to heal that made the biggest difference in how I felt (and looked) was this simple soup.

I always found it so silly that when someone was ill, the neighbors brought warmed Campbell’s soup. I never liked that stuff and I strongly doubted its ability to heal anything. I was right – it doesn’t. But the idea behind this custom is solid, and comes from a distant time when canned soup was not yet a reality. If one wanted broth, one made it from scratch.

Homemade bone broth soup is a powerhouse of healing. For real.

I had eaten what I called ‘the mermaid diet’ for twenty years – no meat, except wild-caught fish, vegetables – and lots of gluten. For some reason, I never questioned the gluten, even though now that I think about it, a virtual mermaid would not be eating french bread. But, I saw it as an innocuous food substance that didn’t require questioning. Bread, bagels, pasta – I took them all as just part of being alive. Turns out, eating gluten in every meal was not helping – it was actually harming my intestinal tract. But that’s another post.

The point here is that since I ate no meat, there were important amino acids that my body was missing. The beauty part is I still don’t have to chew steak if I don’t want to (I don’t know why the thought horrifies me). I do have to be very aware of getting enough protein. I eat nuts, seeds, salmon and avocados often. I have also added eggs to the roster.

But, the tonifying and strengthening aspects of meat, I can drink. On a Winter’s day, a hot mug of steamy bone broth has replaced my afternoon coffee, and my entire body has thanked me.

In a past post I discussed the phenomena of intestinal permeability – or the ‘leaky guy’, and how this condition contributes to autoimmunity and allergies. This is where bone broth comes in and saves the day, just like a super hero. The elements in the bone broth actually heal the intestinal wall. The collagen fortifies the all-important barrier between your GI tract and your bloodstream. Your GI tract hosts many things from the outside world, from food to bacteria to dust – and when functioning right, your intestinal wall kicks out the bad guests, right down through the colon and out. But, when it is NOT functioning at its best, this wall lets junk into your blood. Not good, right?

Enter bone broth. Time to fortify that wall. Time to strengthen, from the inside out.

My hives have gone, never to return. This alone feels like a miracle. They left during the 30 day period I spent last September, eating NO sugar whatsoever, and drinking PLENTY of bone broth. This was no coincidence.

I feel stronger, with more energy. The easily digestible amino acids and Vitamin B that is found in the broth gave my body just what it had been looking for – for years. My skin glows. I am forty years old, yet my skin has taken on a youthful glow, since starting the broth.

And, if you don’t like the flavor, don’t worry. You can hide the broth in sauces, soups or stews. Come to find out, fine French cuisine calls for bone broth to make most of its sauces.

How do I make mine, you may ask. Easy.

1. Buy quality grass-fed beef bones. Marrow bones are fabulous.

2. Roast a few bones in the oven at 400, to bring out a yummy flavor.

3. Place bones in large soup pot and cover with a generous amount of filtered water.

4. Add a couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

5. Let it sit without heat for a half hour. The vinegar will begin to pull minerals from the bones.

6. Add lots of garlic cloves, a few halved onions, sea salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes.

7. Turn the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 30 hours. Yep, 30.

8. Strain the broth through a wire mesh, into mason jars.

9. Keep in fridge for a week, heating some up as needed.

10. Drink or cook with it, and watch yourself grow younger before your eyes.

I will soon post some recipes I have created, using the broth. Cheers!

The Gluten Piece

I know, I know, everyone has heard the term ‘gluten-free’ by now. In fact, some are sick and tired of hearing it, annoyed at how fad-ridden modern health and nutrition has become. But, this is one fad that has serious solidity.

It’s not true for everyone, and some lucky folk can enjoy glutinous products daily. However, I believe there are many more gluten-sensitive individuals than realize it. I was one of them my whole life. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I dove into books, articles and seminars on human physiology like a hot person diving into a lake on a summer’s day. That’s when I discovered how big a piece of the health puzzle gluten really is.

Hashimoto’s is always seen in conjunction with what has become known as a ‘leaky gut’, which is common for intestinal permeability. Even if you don’t have an auto-immune condition, it is important to understand the concept of intestinal permeability. The symptoms can be subtle, but the health implications can haunt you down the road if this is left unhealed. The small intestine is an important organ, and when it becomes permeable – when it has small holes in it – bad things happen. Particles that are not supposed to escape into the bloodstream, now can.

Out-of-control sugar or yeast can actually poke holes in your intestinal wall. Yeast is a powerful substance that when fed, grows aggressively. I never had typical systems of yeast, but I’m pretty sure I had a systemic yeast that caused havoc. So, even if you don’t have the usual symptoms such as yeast infections, if you have eaten a lot of sugar, bread, pasta etc. in your lifetime, you may want to consider a cleanse. I will be talking in detail about my gentle cleanse and how to do it, in a later post.

Did you know that gluten is actually a protein? Yep, and on a molecular level, it is a strong protein chain that is difficult for some people’s digestive system to break. Proteins are not meant to be released from the small intestine until they are reduced to a single amino acid. If your intestinal wall is compromised, and you are a person who has a hard time breaking down gluten, protein chains that are NOT meant to enter the blood, have an escape route via the weak points.

When the rogue gluten molecules enter the blood, the immune system kicks in, big time. The immune system is like ‘Get those intruders!’. This can show up as an allergic reaction, which is what happened to me in the form of hives. But, there are other, subtle symptoms – like bloating, gas, a feeling of fatigue or heaviness, constipation – to name a few. As the situation worsens over time, more food particles begin escaping, and more allergies are formed, until you feel like you can’t eat anything without a reaction.

This scenario is also a recipe for auto-immunity. An overactive immune system can become confused, until bodily tissue, such as the thyroid gland, starts to be mistaken as an intruder, In fact, the protein chain that comprises the thyroid gland is identical to part of the sequence of the gluten protein. Bizarre, right? Regardless, it is a fact.

I quit eating gluten as the second step in my Year To Heal. I was scared to do it, and I resisted. I am partly Italian, and eating bread and pasta seemed to be a part of me. The emotion before I let go of gluten was huge.

Thankfully, once I actually made the break and totally quit in April of 2014, it was surprisingly easy. The lightness I began to feel only weeks after quitting was so worth it. My stomach felt better all around. I still had hives, but not nearly as bad. Evidently, it can take six months or more for the gluten to clear completely out of your body.

Although the idea of quitting gluten was terrifying, once I understood the gluten/ leaky-gut/ allergy /auto-immune connection, a protective reaction kicked in. I had to protect myself! Health and wellness became my top priority. When you are unwell, you suddenly realize how crucial well-being is – how tied to one’s quality of life. I’ve always wanted to live this life to the fullest, and with a broken down body, living well becomes difficult. I am so grateful that cutting gluten out of my diet has had such a big impact.

There are different levels of gluten sensitivity, from all-out Celiac disease, to mild allergy. If you have bloating or an uncomfortable stomach, you may want to cut it out for a bit and see how you feel.

I have gotten into gluten-free baking, using almond and coconut flours, and it’s amazing the things you can make! I have found some good gluten-free products out there, but you have to be careful not to over-indulge on these because of their density, and always check the ingredient list for sugar or artificial additives, which are not your friends. I like my homemade gluten-free goodies the best, and I will post one of my recipes soon, for you to try.

It is fitting that I am posting this on Valentine’s Day. Taking care of yourself is a form of love. After all, if you don’t nurture and love yourself, from the inside out, it will be hard to truly receive love from someone else. I now think of choosing not to eat gluten, not as a form of sacrifice, but as a form of self-care. I replace gluten with foods that make me feel GOOD. In this way, I let my body know that I love her! You deserve the same, whatever form this takes for you. Happy Valentine’s Day!