{No} Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing

Sugar cookies were always a part of my family’s Christmas tradition, growing-up. Not just baking them, but also decorating them. We had so much fun cutting them out in all kinds of holiday-themed shapes, and then putting our unique flare on them with all different colors of sugary icing. The flavor and texture was just out of this world!

Truly, nothing tastes more like Christmas, to me, than these cookies. Since my family has always been vegetarian, Christmas dinner wasn’t about ham or anything like that. We always had tofu pot pie, but that was what we had at Thanksgiving, too. Tofu pot pie is probably my favorite dish my mother made during my childhood, but it’s what Thanksgiving tastes like; not so much Christmas. These cookies, though… these cookies were what Christmas was all about.

Baking and decorating Christmas cookies was always a time when our family could swarm the dining room or kitchen island and laugh and feel merry. No matter what ages we all were, my brothers and I could put aside our sibling tensions for a few hours and playful poke fun at each others’ frosting skills and distasteful color preferences.

Being the artist in the family, as well as the bonafide black sheep, cookie decorating was my time to show off. Unlike my brothers, there were no black and green striped stars or blue Santas with rainbow sprinkles on my side of the table.

That’s not to say my piping skills are anything more than amateur, though. As you can see above I could benefit from logging a few hours of practice, still. Alas, until now I have had no motivation to practice, since I would not be caught dead eating the sugar cookies or icing from childhood. Back then I wasn’t sick so the 80/20 rule that works for everyone else, worked just fine for me, as well.

One time a year, it was completely fine and normal, and dare I say healthy for me to indulge in some sugar cookies. Now, though, my 80/20 rule cannot account for the damage such an indulgence would result in.

Instead, I am going to share with you my new version of the old Christmas cookies with icing. These guys are completely sugar-free, paleo-inspired, (aside from ghee in the cookies) they are dairy-free, and they fit well into a ketogenic eating pattern w/ less than 5 net carbs per serving. And, no, a serving is not just one cookie… it’s TWO!

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Pastry Flour
  • 1/3 cup Lakanto Gold Granulated Monk Fruit Sweetener
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/8-1/4 cup IMO syrup (I use Fiberyum brand because it’s sourced from tapioca which makes it Paleo-compliant. Other brands are sourced from corn)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing

  • 3 cups powdered/confectioners style xylitol (I made my own by using a coffee grinder to finely grind granulated birch xylitol, then added 1/8-1/4 cup Fiberyum IMO powder and 1/8 cup arrowroot. If you do this, make sure your xylitol is all really finely ground. If it’s not ground finely enough, the icing will look granulated.)
  • 1/4 of a lemon (juice only)
  • 2 large egg whites

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 320 degrees. Melt the ghee or coconut oil and pour over the pastry flour in medium bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a parchment paper lined cutting board, roll dough into ball. Then place a second sheet of parchment paper over the dough and smoosh flat until only 1/4″ thick.
  3. Cut the cookie dough out into shapes. You can get creative and use cookie cutters or you can do like I did and use the rim of drinking glass to cut out circles.
  4. Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 min or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from heat and cool completely before icing.
  6. In a small-medium glass bowl use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites on low until frothy.
  7. Add in the lemon juice, then 1/4 cup of the powdered xylitol mixture.
  8. Increase the speed to high and slowly add the remaining amount of the powdered xylitol.
  9. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  10. Separate the icing into as many bowls as different colors you would like.
  11. I used India Tree natural food coloring to make a light blue, and then I used plain white as well, so I only had two bags of icing.
    1. note: pastel colors are your best bet when using this kind of food coloring. I tried to make a red, but it turned out hot pink and too thin to do anything with.
  12. Then, using a spoon, transfer the icing into plastic storage bags and squeeze the icing all the way almost to the tip of one corner.
  13. Cut a tiny whole the size of the tip of a felt pen out of the corner.
  14. Pipe your icing in whatever design you desire!
  15. Store in the refrigerator or eat them all right then and there.

*Raw egg whites are not suitable for consumption by the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. To make this recipe without egg whites, you can use meringue powder; although, that would make them not Paleo. You can also try mixing the icing in a glass bowl of a double broiler and on low-medium heat slowly beat the eggs adding the sweetener little by little. The lemon juice does help to stabilize the egg whites, and so would cream of tartar.

**If you want to opt for a low lectin version of this recipe, use my original recipe for {No} Sugar Cookies, which is yucca based, instead of a nut-based flour. It will be slightly higher in net carbs, but still grain-free, and just as easy to make. For holiday cookie purposes, I would omit the maple extract in this recipe. These cookies will also have a more delicate, light texture compared to the version with the Paleo pastry flour.

No Cow Protein Cookies!!!!!

Guess what I just discovered! A pre-packaged cookie that I can eat without any issues!!!

I’m so stoked about this that I have to share about it. For a couple of years now I’ve been trying out various protein bars to find one that works really well for my body and health picture. In order for a protein bar to make it into regular rotation in my diet it has to have a few key qualities.

  1. It cannot contain inulin. As I’ve said before in previous posts, inulin is a pre-biotic fiber that most people tolerate well. It has many benefits, but I do not tolerate it at all. The other version of pre-biotic fiber used in protein bars that I do tolerate is called isomalto-oligosaccharide fiber, which can be derived from either corn or tapioca.
  2. It must have very high fiber and very low carbohydrate The theory of net carbs is that you can subtract the amount of fiber and sugar alcohol from the amount of carbohydrates and get the “true” carbohydrate content of the food. There is no scientific evidence that supports this theory; however, as long as the total carbs are less than 20g, I have found that, for me personally, a low net carb calculation does reflect how well-tolerated the carbohydrates will be.
  3. No sugar. I value my gut health, my skin health, my cardiovascular health, my reproductive health, plus I want to stay in ketosis. For that reason, the only sugar in my diet comes from vegetables and berries. You will never catch me knowingly eating something with added sugar, and I check my food stringently.
  4. It needs to be dairy-free or if it contains dairy, it needs to be only grass-fed whey concentrate. Dairy is inflammatory to me. The only reason I make an exception for grass-fed whey concentrate is because consuming it has been shown to increase your body’s glutathione production. Glutathione is your body’s most prevalent and powerful anti-oxidant.
  5. There can absolutely be no artificial sweeteners. There are too many good alternatives to things like sucralose and saccharine for me to risk my health consuming them, instead. They’ve been linked, in research, to the development of certain symptoms and higher risk for certain chronic diseases. Stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, and erythritol are all better options.
  6. It’s also important to me that it be gluten-free. I’m one of those nut jobs who believes that gluten-containing foods should be consumed sparingly.
  7. Let’s be real… it has to taste like dessert. The only time I’m going to eat a protein bar is when I’m on the road or when I want something that feels like dessert.

So, out of all of the millions of protein bars I’ve tried, what is the closest I’ve found to meeting all of those parameters?

No Cow Bars!

And guess what… now they make a protein cookie! Yep, that’s right. It is dairy-free, added sugar-free, no artificial sweeteners, doesn’t contain inulin, is high fiber/low carbohydrate, gluten-free, and it tastes like dessert. That means I have something, finally, (that I don’t have to bake myself) that I can throw in my handbag or suitcase and have ready when/if I have an insatiable cookie craving.

(Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

We’ve all been there. You are waiting at the terminal to board your flight, or walking through the mall, or just stressed the f*#k out at 3:00pm. You have two choices (until now): you can suffer through it and will-power your way past your craving or you can give-in and suffer later after you’ve eaten a 42g sugar, 60g carbohydrate, gluten-filled time bomb.

I’m not saying I can replace a healthy meal with one of these protein cookies. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say I would comfortable eating them every week. The point is, my 80/20 rule looks different than it would for someone who is not living with chronic disease. There is no 20% of the time that’s safe for me to eat an actual sugary, gluten-containing cookie. The systemic inflammation, pain, and cost/effort it would take to heal from something like that would simply not be worth the minor sugar high from it.

However, I am human and I do need something to treat myself with 20% of the time. Enter No Cow Protein cookie . They have every flavor you could want: chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter. You can find them on Amazon with free prime shipping, or you can do what I did and go to the Vitamin Shoppe and pick up one of each flavor to try while you’re waiting on your Amazon order to arrive.

I’m already brainstorming ways to use these guys in semi-homemade sugar-free desserts. So keep an eye out for some exciting new ways to use these “cookies”.

Before I let you run off to try one for yourself, I just quickly wanted to do a quick comparison to another popular “keto” protein cookie on the market. The Know Foods cookies are probably the most similar to these No Cow cookies. The problem, for me, with the Know cookies is that it actually has over 40g of carbohydrates and it uses Enjoy Life chocolate chips, which contain sugar. The Know brand claims that the kind of sugar they use, allulose, does not impact blood sugar nor is recognized by the body as a carbohydrate. Anecdotal evidence of pre- and post-consumption blood sugar readings suggest otherwise. Know foods claims that you can subtract the allulose grams (listed as grams of sugar on their nutrition label) from the carbohydrates, and then also subtract the grams of fiber and sugar alcohol and you will get the low net carb count of 4g. Until the net carb theory is proven, though, this is just too far of leap of faith for me.

The No Cow Protein Cookie (snickerdoodle flavor) lists 18 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, and 7 g sugar alcohol (erythritol). That also leaves 4g net carb, but it’s just a more reasonable leap of faith to go from <20 g carbs to 4 g carbs vs. Know brand going from >40 g carbs to 4 g carbs. Like I mentioned at the beginning of my article, the only time the net carb theory seems to be an accurate gauge of how my body will receive a food’s carbohydrate content is if the original carbohydrate count is <20 g. There is just no amount of fiber or sugar alcohol that can balance out >40 g of carbohydrate, for me. Yes, you can half the Know cookie and get roughly 20 g carbs, before the net carb calculation, and they are slightly bigger cookies to begin with than the No Cow brand. However, who wants to shove a half-eaten, open cookie down into their handbag to save for later?

The bottom line is that the No Cow Protein cookie win my seal of approval for a “20% of the time” indulgence. They are still going to be somewhat inflammatory because they do contain grains and their source of soluble plant fiber (isomalto-oligosaccharide) is corn, which are both high in lectins. They are still a pre-packaged, not fresh treat. Having said that, they beat the pants off of any of the alternatives, as far as I’m concerned!

Avocado Chocolate Pudding {sugar-free, keto}

It’s still hard for me to believe that, in Florida, strawberries, avocados, and coconuts are all in season during the winter. Well, honestly, it’s not winter here at all, but it is December. I’m from North Georgia, and December is hot chocolate weather, not strawberry season.

Luckily for all of us, here in Florida, we get to make this delicious, simple, ketogenic dessert out of things we can pick up fresh from our local farmers. Below you’ll find a list of some of my favorite seasonal produce for December, in Florida. You’ll also find the recipe to this Avocado Chocolate Pudding at the bottom of the sheet. I only used about 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, just because I am a little bit sensitive to dark chocolate. Although cocoa’s high polyphenol count is said to beneficial to health, some people have a little trouble processing it (AKA sometimes it gives me migraines).

If you like it rich and dark, then go for it and add 2 or even 3 tbsp cocoa powder! You can also add any liquid sweetener you prefer if you don’t mind it not being ketogenic. Other options include coconut whipped cream for garnish or using coconut cream instead of dairy-free milk. I used Milkadamia, which is unsweetened macadamia nut milk. I even made one with a paleo crust in the bottom. I used the shortbread cookie recipe from my previous post for the Best Ever Holiday Bars . Get creative and let me know your feedback!

Best Ever Holiday Bars {grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb}

     Who here loooooves 7 Layer Bars or shortbread cookies, or chocolate? What about caramel?

Ok, now show of hands for everyone who wants the satisfaction of indulging in one of those sweet treats around the holiday season? Is it even the holidays if you don’t eat a rich dessert after your big holiday meal?

How about you have your cake (or 7 Layer Bar, as the case may be) and eat it too?

These keto-friendly, paleo-ish, grain-free/gluten-free, AND sugar-free Best Ever Holiday Bars are where it’s at!

My family celebrates Christmas, although I was raised agnostic. It doesn’t prevent us from enjoying the Christian spirit and spreading around good will and cheer. I was also raised vegetarian and my family is now vegan (except for me). Again, it does not stop us from enjoying the holiday staples during meal time.

Our holiday meals consist of collards, sweet potatoes, deviled eggs (for me) and turkey (for me), cranberry sauce, vegan/gluten-free mac & cheese (for everyone except me), and my mother’s famed tofu pot pie… the running MVP of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

For dessert, my mother usually makes a double dark chocolate vegan layer cake w/ chocolate tofu mousse topped with chocolate ganache. There is also usually a sweet potato pie and pecan pie and maybe even some sort of vegan oat bars (raspberry or chocolate/coconut).

This year I was commissioned to make my own Betty-friendly dessert since all of the above contain sugar and grains. For my keto-ish dessert I decided to combine some of my favorite things: shortcake, macadamia nut butter, and keto chocolate.

The convenience factor of being able to cut these into bars and pack them in my carry-on bag inspired what ended up being the best dessert I have ever made. No joke!

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

Ingredients

Shortcake

  • 2 cups paleo flour mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/3 C coconut oil (refined, medium heat)
  • 1/8 C grass-fed ghee
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 C Lakanto gold granulated sweetener

Caramel

  • 1/2 C sprouted raw unsweetened macadamia nut butter (unsalted, if salted then omit added salt below)
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/3 cup Lakanto maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Layer

  • 1/2 C – 1 C sugar-free chocolate (Lakanto brand is my pick because they use tapioca IMO fiber instead of inulin. Inulin has the same prebiotic benefits, but I do not tolerate it. Other sugar-free chocolate bar/chip brands use inulin. If you’re not sensitive to it, then use whatever brand you prefer. Lakanto brand chocolate bars are a little bit harder to find.)

OR

  • 1/2 C cocoa butter
  • 1 1/8 C cacao powder
  • 1/8 C IMO powder or sunflower lecithin powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 dropper-fulls of liquid stevia (alcohol-free)

Directions

  1. Melt coconut oil and ghee for the shortcake. Mix all dry ingredients for shortcake in medium bowl, then add melted fats. Add extracts and stir until well combined. Spread evenly into parchment paper lined glass 8×8 pan and press into bottom. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Remove and cool on counter, then transfer to refrigerator.
  2. Mix all ingredients and melt on very low heat over the stove. Pour evenly onto the shortcake layer and return to refrigerator for 30 minutes, then move to freezer for 30 more minutes, at least.
  3. If using store-bought chocolate, melt on low heat in double broiler until 90% melted, then remove from heat and stir vigorously until completely melted. If making your own chocolate, melt cocoa butter in double broiler on very low heat until 90% melted. Remove from heat and stir vigorously until the remaining 10% is melted, as well. Stir in all other chocolate layer ingredients. Pour evenly onto completely chilled caramel layer. Return to chill in either the refrigerator or freezer. If chilling in the freezer, remove after 30 min – 1 hour as and place in refrigerator. If you store chocolate in the freezer you run the risk of it losing some of its rich flavor.
  4. Once completely chilled, remove and cut into bars. These travel very well and do not necessarily require constant refrigeration. Mine stayed un-refrigerated for 3-4 hours at a time and survived well.
  5. Enjoy with friends and family! They won’t even know they are eating something sugar-free and grain-free.

Pumpkin Spice Fat Bombs {dairy-free}

Who is still pumped about pumpkin and cinnamon flavored everything? If you’re trying to stay in ketosis, like me, you probably take every opportunity to consume healthy fats. With this pumpkin spice fat bomb recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too!

For these fat bombs I use one of my favorite delicate and aromatic healthy fats- cocoa butter. It’s a little bit like pumpkin spice white chocolate, but without all of the sugar and other ingredients that make white chocolate a “every once in a while” food, instead of a ketogenic snack. I eat these things all day long, sometimes, especially when fasting.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/3 cup isomalto-oligosaccharide powder
  • 10 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 scoops powdered MCT oil (optional) or 1 tbsp liquid MCT oil or you can use BOTH!

Directions:

  1. Melt cocoa butter over low heat in a double broiler
  2. Once melted 3/4 of the way, remove from heat and stir vigorously until the remaining cocoa butter is melted
  3. Add all other ingredients and stir again until completely mixed
  4. Pour into chocolate molds, lined cupcake tins, or into small pan lined with parchment paper (to make a “bark”)
  5. Chill in freezer for 20-30 mintues
  6. Remove from freezer, pop out of molds and place into glass storage container
  7. Store in refrigerator
  8. After fat bombs have been tempered by spending about an hour in the refrigerator, you can store you fat bombs at room temperature, although they will become somewhat soft

For more fat bombs and everything else cyclical keto and IF, head on over to the side bar and click on the Instagram button to follow my daily journey!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins {grain-free, sugar-free}

Good morning, Autumn! I’ve been expecting you, thanks for stopping by 🙂 First order of business: break out the pumpkin pie spice.

I’ve been sugar-free and grain-free for a long time, and one of the most exciting things is finding new healthy sugar-free sweeteners. I’m talking about stevia, erythritol and xylitol sweetened things. One thing I haven’t been able to find, until now, is a good maple syrup. A few weeks ago I discovered Lakanto maple syrup! That’s the same brand that makes a sugar-free chocolate bar that can be found in grocery stores and DOES NOT use inulin (inulin doesn’t like me, but if you tolerate it, it has great prebiotic value). Lakanto’s chocolate bars use tapioca fiber. I know because when I saw “vegetable fiber” listed in the ingredients, I called the manufacturer and asked. I use a lot of tapioca fiber in my treats. It has great prebiotic value, like inulin, but is made of isomalto-oligosaccharides.

I decided to do something different for this recipe post and add a little more value for my readers, because ya’ll rock and you deserve it. For those living in Florida (or nearby), below is a list of seasonal produce for October! You’ll also find the recipe for these yummy muffins at the bottom! Feel free to share it!

PS. If you are vegan, go ahead and omit the eggs and sub in coconut oil for the ghee. I made mine without eggs and they were a little dense, but still great!

How to Know When to Advocate for Your Well-being

I’ve been dealing with chronic illness my whole life. Until being diagnosed, though, I felt a duty to myself and the people around me to push as hard as everyone else. The golden rule in a working class family is to work hard. My dad retired early, partly due to the insane number of sick days he had saved up from never taking sick leave (although, I have to disclose that he didn’t get sick often anyway). My mom, bless her heart, has always had aches and pains and other semi-minor issues that she diligently worked through, because of her sense of duty to her family.

So the question is: How do you know when to push through like everyone else and when to take a break, make a change, or just simply start a conversation because of your health challenges?

I almost hesitate to speak to this topic, because I am still sorting out the answer for myself. However, I do have quite a bit of experience in this space. I’ve lived through times when I didn’t speak up and wish that I had, later, and I’ve lived through times when I did advocate for myself for better or for worse. All things considered, I have learned from my experiences, and that’s what I plan to share.

Situations in Which You Might Consider Advocating For Yourself

  1. Work or home environment that gives a reaction (for me, it’s usually mold or EMF pollution)
  2. Factors preventing you from getting adequate quality sleep
  3. Emotionally unhealthy situations/people
  4. Unnecessary or harmful level of stress
  5. Lack of adequate recovery time after illness or flare of chronic illness
  6. Feeling as though if you do not take a break, your health will decline

The thing is, in order to fill other people’s lives with utility, service and meaning, you have to first have a reserve to pull from. If your reserve is empty or running low then you have to ask yourself if any of those situations apply to you. Let’s say one of those situations does apply… how do you know if you’re at the point where action is necessary?

How Do You Know it’s Time to Take Action?

  1. A solution to the problem exists

When presenting a problem to an employer, partner, spouse, etc it is important to have a solution in mind. If you don’t currently have a solution to offer, unless your health situation is dyer and requires immediate action, wait. However, even if the solution is one that puts strain on you and/or others involved, it’s still a solution, and it may be the right time to bring it up.

  1. Timing

Do you feel like in order to get the best outcome it’s now or never? If the answer is “yes”, I would follow your intuition. In my experience, any time that I felt a window of opportunity and ignored it, I later came to regret not taking the bull by the horns. For instance, if your environment is making you sick and know you’re going to have to take action if you want to change that, go ahead and proactively decide what verbiage you’re going to use when the opportunity to bring it up presents itself. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by an impromptu meeting with your boss or the right moment with your spouse/partner and just blurt out whatever emotionally charged feelings you have about the situation. Be ready for the right timing, if you know that change is imminent.

I have found it helpful in the past to even set a deadline for myself. Ask yourself, realistically when will my prime window of opportunity to bring this up start to close? Also, mentally prepare a response for when your boss or whoever asks how things are going. If you’re in a new role, that is likely going to be happening in the foreseeable future. If you’re chronically ill or are recovering from a recent illness, that others are already aware of, you can bet that someone is going to ask how you’re doing. They won’t be expecting a lengthy response, but what you DO NOT want to do is shrug off the situation or minimize it even though it is likely your instinct to. Go ahead and prepare a casual response that isn’t too “heavy” for small talk, but still doesn’t leave out room for future discussion when the timing is right. Or better yet, use that opportunity to say something like “actually I’ve been wanting to discuss that with you whenever you get a chance”. I emphasize again, though, the importance of having your elevator pitch at the ready in case that person says that now is a good time to discuss it.

  1. You feel good about it

If you feel like jumping to action is the only route to avoiding further health problems or healing your current issues, that’s a pretty obvious sign to go for it. If your solution is a good one, you have the support of loved ones, and you feel the only thing left to do is rip off the bandage- do it. If you wait, things could change, and then who knows whether or not you’ll feel as good about your solution or timing.

  1. The risk of being complacent outweighs the risk of speaking up

This may seem silly, but make some lists of pro’s and con’s. Or consult someone you trust, like a priest or loved one who seems to always know what to do/say. Another idea is ask yourself “why”? My mom was the first person to teach me about this method. You just get out a pen and paper and keep asking yourself why until you’ve reached some sort of closure. The original version of this is to ask yourself “why” 7 times. After 7 answers to “why”, you should have a better idea of the true risk of keeping quiet vs. advocating for your health.

Other ideas include things that are not rooted in science, but may bring you some insight if you tend towards the spiritual side. For instance, the I Ching is the Chinese philosophy that all change is good. The idea is that you use the I Ching book and methodology to uncover the answer to your dilemma. I have used this method before when faced with the prospect of change and it provided invaluable insight into my problem. It’s been years since I’ve consulted the I Ching, but from what I remember you take about 50 small wooden dowels and drop them on the floor. Then you pick them up and place them between your fingers in a pattern while thinking your question to yourself the entire time. Although it may seem like your pattern is developing randomly, because you are contemplating a change that needs to happen, the pattern you end up with will correlate to a passage in the I Ching book. You read the passage and it should have some meaning.

  1. There is no foreseeable end to your suffering

Last, but not least, this is the real deal breaker for staying quiet and pushing through. There are some situations you may feel that you can push through, but if there’s no end in sight what are pushing through towards? The answer is that you aren’t pushing through you’re just pushing yourself to disaster. If you know change has to happen, but there is no way that’s going to happen without you speaking up, then you better start devising your plan of action. On the other hand, if the situation that is impacting your health negatively is temporary, ask yourself how long you can reasonably stand it. Depending on the nature and severity of the problem the answer to that question could be one more day or it could be one more week, or it could be another year or two until you find the right solution.

Some situations are more dyer than others. An emotionally harmful boss is something most people would rate as being able to wait a little while before taking action. However, if you’re in a moldy or otherwise toxic environment consider taking immediate action (which starts with devising a solution, finding your words, and asking for time to discuss it with whoever).

The Take-away

Albert Einstein once said something to the effect of “you can either choose to believe the universe is working against you or for you”. I heard that recently in a podcast interview with the creator or Quest Nutrition.  I think that’s a good filter through which to view your situation if something is negatively impacting your health and you aren’t sure what to do. I urge you approach the situation as though everyone wants you to be healthy and happy; the solution is out there somewhere and you’re going to find it and everything is going to be alright! DON’T let yourself get stuck on negative feelings or feelings of blame. Just move forward.

Grain-free Cassava Flour Waffles w/ Fresh Berry Compote

This week I had been eating through a large batch of Dave Asprey’s Vanilla Get Some Ice Cream that I whipped up to serve as a quick easy bite that contains a HUGE portion of healthy fats and some un-oxidized protein from raw eggs. All the while reminiscing about the brownie sunday I used to love from Steak n Shake.

So for days now I’ve been dreaming of smothering this healthy ice cream in a mixed berry compote. Now that my community nutrition rotation is over, I decided what better way to celebrate than to make my day dream a reality?

Since the ice cream recipe is not my own and I follow the original instructions to a T, I won’t include that here, but you can Google “get some ice cream” if you wish to make this a part of your dish.

Below is the recipe for the cassava flour waffles, followed by the recipe for the mixed berry compote.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cassava flour (I was finally able to find Otto’s brand locally at Whole Foods)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp syrup sweetener of your choice (I chose IMO syrup + 1-2 dropper-fulls of liquid stevia)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (I used refined so as not to add any flavor from the coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup grass-fed collagen powder (I was also finally able to find Bulletproof brand in the protein supplement section of Whole Foods, this week!)

Instructions:

  • Whisk together eggs, salt, sweetener, and collagen powder
  • Melt coconut oil
  • Mix all other ingredients in with whisked egg mixture, then add the coconut oil as well
  • If using a mini waffle iron, scoop about 1/8-1/4 cup of mixture into waffle iron that has been pre-heated on medium (if there is a temperature control) and let cook for about 5 minutes, but check after 3 minutes
  • Once golden brown, remove with tongs and plate

For the fresh berry compote…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup mixed fresh berries of choice (I used blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries because the raspberries at Whole Foods were not organic. Otherwise I think raspberries would have really been perfect)
  • 2 tbsp sugar-free granulated sweetener (I used Lactanto Golden Monk Fruit sweetener, but birch xylitol or erythritol would have worked just as well. Of course if you wanted to use a natural sugar-containing sweetener like coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup that would also give the right result, just not sugar-free)
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp orange or lemon juice (optional)

Instructions:

  • Slice strawberries into thin vertical slices
  • Add all berries to sauce pot over medium heat
  • Add granulated sweetener
  • If using citrus fruit juice, add that now as well
  • Allow to cook down for about 5-10 minutes while stirring occasionally
  • Once some liquid has formed in the pot and the berries have begun to soften, add in the tapioca starch and stir well until dissolved
  • Continue to cook mixture for about 3 more minutes until it has thickened
  • Remove from heat and serve over plain buttered waffles or with some Vanilla Get Some Ice Cream like I did!

If you enjoyed my thoughtful and allergen-free creation, you should follow me on Instagram @Experimental_Betty for more things like this!

And, as always, please feel free to drop me a line below with any questions you have 🙂

Science & Myth Are Not Mutually Exclusive {Neither are Intermittent Fasting & Intuitive Eating}

In fact, most of the time they aren’t. I’ll go a step further to say that opposing forces not only can, but should exist in tandem with each other.

I was riding my fat bike (electric bike with fat tires) today on the trails while listening to Screeching Weasel “The Science of Myth” when this occurred to me. I set out on this ride to get some “vigorous exercise” as Temple Grandin recommends. However, there were times when I needed the assistance of the peddle assist (PAS) and/or throttle in order to keep going and finish what I came to conquer. At first, I was bothered by my propensity to take short breaks and rely on the bike’s power to allow me to regenerate my energy. As someone who is still recovering from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS or biotoxin illness), I have poor exercise recovery and quick muscle fatigue, so I have to be aware of my limits as to not be counterproductive in physical activity.

As the lyrics “take the facts of science and apply them [for better understanding of religion]” simultaneously linked-up in my mind with the thought that not only was the assistance (the opposite of doing it on my own/vigorous exercise) occurring at the same time as my vigorous effort, but in opposition to it; however, it was actually enhancing success in reaching my goal. I realize this wouldn’t be some great existential moment for most, and probably quite obvious at face value, but then the thought occurred that this idea applies to another area.

Since nutrition science has become a bit of a religious (or at least dogmatic) discussion these days, I’d like to take this allegory and apply it to two pervasive topics of debate in the nutrition-sphere.

Fasting and intuitive eating. Polar opposites. Mutually exclusive, right? Nope. Not even close.

In fact, practicing one can enhance the efficacy (the benefit) of the other. Fasting can reset your hunger hormones to allow you the ability to intuitively eat. This has been shown in numerous studies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

The entire basis of intuitive eating is to not stress over eating, but instead to do whatever your body is telling you. Want to have a cookie? Do it; the world won’t end. Full after two bites? Ok; stop eating. Craving a big ole’ steak? Good; that means your body needs those nutrients.

Look, I get it, and I don’t disagree with the basic idea of it. However, if you suffer from any chronic health problem the likelihood of your hunger hormones and neurotransmitters being naturally balanced enough for you to eat “intuitively” is pretty small.

Leptin and ghrelin are the two main hunger hormones. They work together to tell your brain when you’re hungry and when you’re full with the rise and fall of their concentrations in your blood 8, 9.

This mechanism is greatly affected by insulin receptor site inflammation which is involved in a good bit of chronic disease, since inflammation is at the root of most chronic disease and insulin receptors are easily modulated by inflammation. Where there’s chronic inflammation there’s insulin dysregulation. This is evidenced by over half of our countries population in the US now being obese 10, 11, 12.

Guess what? Intuitive eating won’t help those people.

Going even deeper into the metabolic pathways, you have neurotransmitters that communicate impulses for cravings and satiety, as well.

There are a handful of genes that code for enzymes that modulate the break-down and the up-take of neurotransmitters. Scientists have identified a handful of common polymorphisms that can occur in these genes. With a handful of genes that have a handful of common polymorphisms comes several hundreds if not thousands of combinations of such single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) 13, 14.

Meaning, you have a decent likelihood of having one or more variations in these key genes that control how quickly your neurotransmitters are broken-down (deactivated) and/or how quickly they are used-up.

You can imagine that if your serotonin or dopamine is degraded quickly or the re-uptake of either/both is sped-up, then you’re going to be seeking-out activities that increase your serotonin and dopamine, like eating cake or chips.

Intuitive eating will not help these people, either.

These mechanisms are complex. Possibly too complex for the candy-coated, rose-colored glasses intuitive eating crowd to understand. Yes, if you suffer from an eating disorder, it may be a necessary first step to overcoming your struggle with food and body image. I understand why it’s necessary to tell someone who is restricting calories to the point of becoming underweight not stress about what they eat (ie. Eat intuitively).

There are actually other steps that involve looking at pathologies related to methylation pathway defects and the processing of micro and macro minerals that should be addressed after the person stabilizes their eating habits. Intuitive eating is not a cure for eating disorders, but it can be a good front line defense in the treatment and early intervention of eating disorders. That’s a different topic though. This blog is not for those with eating disorders. I’m not here to help you figure-out how to restrict your diet to lose weight. That’s not what I do.

Anyway, back to what I was saying about fasting enhancing the efficacy of intuitive eating.

If you can fast for 12-18 hours every day or 3 days a week or even just 1 day a week, you give your body an opportunity to perform autophagy and other naturally processes helpful in resetting your hungry hormones and decreasing inflammation 15.

Not just that, but if you’re unknowingly eating something regularly that is contributing to inflammation and/or methylation imbalances that are effecting how long your neurotransmitters are staying in the synapse, then it’s possible that a short fast can give your body a necessary break to help it get back to its baseline.

All of which will help you be able to intuitively eat (ie. Know when you’re actually full and stop eating and know when you’re actually hungry and eat to fuel your body instead of eating to fulfill a craving).

So intermittent fasters and intuitive eaters come together and take a page from Screeching Weasel’s music book. What you think is in opposition to your deepest held beliefs may actually be the missing puzzle piece you didn’t know to look for.

If you like reading these kinds of things and/or enjoy my cool infographics, follow me on Instagram @Experimental_Betty and Facebook: Experimental Betty.

Rosemary & Sage Cassava Flour Crackers {Grain-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free}

Sometimes I get crazy “homesick” for the salty, savory comfort foods of my past life. Crackers, chips, popcorn… all the things that I swore-off in the name of health.

I know, all of the anti-gluten-free, intuitive eating folks {many of my colleagues and cohorts} would balk at the idea of restricting yourself from the occasional indulgence. What I and my spoonie friends know, however, is that when food makes you feel sick it’s not worth the momentary high of “indulging” your craving.

Do I ever indulge? If you’re familiar with my blog then you know the answer is HECK yes I do!

I just do it intelligently and creatively. Gluten gives me migraines; therefore, I’m not going to eat crackers that contain gluten. Gluten-free, store-bought crackers often contain other grains and/or potato products. The outcome of eating those things is no different than gluten, as far as I’m concerned.

So what do I do when I can’t get past my cracker craving?

I developed a grain-free, easy-to-make, quick recipe!

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in medium size glass bowl
  2. Cut butter or ghee into small pieces and add to mixture
  3. Pour in MCT oil and stir to combine
  4. Slowly add cold water and stir some more
  5. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll dough until 1/4″ thick
  6. Cut with small cookie cutter {or use the rim of an upside down shot glass}
  7. Place crackers on cookie sheet
  8. Bake at 360 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes or until just lightly browned
  9. Cool and enjoy!