There is something about the Oregon Coast that is unlike any other coastal region I have ever visited. The landscape is fiercly dramatic and the vast, unpopulated beaches make you feel like you are seeing something no-one else has seen before…
In early August, Kristian and I made a spontaneous trip out to the Oregon Coast to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their beach house. One of the most amazing things about Oregon is that you can drive from high-desert, through dense national parks, all the way to the dramatic coast over the course of one day. The landscape of the coastal region is dramatic with the ever changing weather, vast beaches and the biggest trees you’ve ever seen. I am so inspired by the deep greens, gray blues and canvas colored tones. During our two-day, one night stay we walked along the beach, explored the forest trails, picked blackberries, watched the sunset and went crabbing at Jetty Fishery. It was a blast. We took our own boat out, caught something like FORTY crabs, threw most of them back because they were too small to eat and then ate the ones we could, along with oysters and clams. The best part was definitely the “crab butter,” which is just melted crabbed fat—so delicious and rich.
We had the best night of sleep all summer with bellies full of seafood, the sounds of crashing waves rocking us to sleep and the cool crisp air of the Oregon Coast. We can’t wait for our next trip…
If you go:
> rent a boat at Jetty Fishery and go crabbing or just order some fresh seafood to eat overlooking the gorgeous bay
> stay at the Cove Beach House – pricey but worth it
> visit the town of Manzanita for small-coastal town vibes and great coffee shops, ice creameries and a long stretch of beach
Wow! My AIPxWhole30 food challenge flew by and I am well over 30 days and feeling great!!!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how I was going to be combining the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) with the Whole30 Program to narrow in on the best healing diet for my autoimmune conditions. For me, this meant continuing to eat in accordance with the AIP diet but also removing all sugars—including ‘natural sweeteners’ like honey and maple syrup—and as a way to focus on three solid meals a day with minimal snacking. Well, I have some updates for how it has been going. First of all, as I mentioned in my previous post about starting AIPxWhole30, my goal was to cut out all extra sugars from my diet. While I hadn’t been eating tons of it, I had been using honey and maple syrup too liberally in my cooking; I would have a little honey in my tea at night, a dash of maple syrup in my breakfast sausage and dates as a snack every once in a while. I had an inclination that my regular consumption of sugar was contributing to an increase in my autoimmune symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, waking up tired and some skin issues. I knew that I would be better off without it. After almost one month of sugar-free living, my energy levels have improved, I have an easier time going to bed, an easier time waking up and a major improvement in skin condition (ie.clear skin.) And of course, once you remove sugars from your diet, you crave them less. My experiment with AIPxWhole30 has been an absolute success and I will continue to eat this way moving forward because it seems like this is exactly what my body needs for optimal healing!
On another note, when I first began AIPxWhole30, I wrote about the fact that I wanted to focus on three solid meals each day and less snacks. I wasn’t necessarily snacking a lot before but I would graze while cooking or cleaning and wanted to quit this habit. While this month has definitely lent itself to three consistent meals each day, I have realized that there is absolutely a time and place for snacks. Because I have been seeing improvements in my autoimmune symptoms over the past couple of months, I have been able to begin working out more regularly and more vigorously—take that with a grain of salt. Compared to my old exercise routine when I was a D-1 college athlete and then a crossfit athletes my current activities don’t really compare, but I’ve started incorporating fast paced miles, TABATA workouts, circuits and even Barre classes into my weekly routine and have realized how crucial exercise is for my personal healing journey. Exercise helps to energize me, gives me a clear and sharp mind and contributes to the overall feeling that I am taking care of myself. With these newly introduced workouts, my appetite has increased. On days when I am working out, I generally come home from my internship and have a snack about an hour before starting my activities. I have realized that this pre-workout snack helps to keep me fueled for my workouts. My go-to snack is always a combination of 1 serving of a fat + 1 serving of carbohydrates or a 1/2 serving of protein. Last week I shared how to make delicious homemade coconut butter and today I’m going to share one of my favorite way to use coconut butter. See below for directions on how to prepare my favorite Coconut Fruit Snack…as usual, this is a no-recipe recipe and you can feel free to take any creative liberty that you would like.
Coconut Fruit Snack
> 2-3 tablespoons of liquid coconut butter
> 1 serving of fruit; my favorites include peaches, nectarines, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
> optional additions: cinnamon, powdered ginger, lemon zest, mint leaves, etc.
1. Chop fruit into bite sized pieces, drizzle with coconut butter, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or other spices, fresh mint leaves and/or lemon zest.
Ahh see that gorgeous morning light shining on that beautiful breakfast salad? Morning light is a wonderful thing and studies suggests it has many health benefits. Today, I woke up, drank a glasse of water, put my sneakers on and headed out for a walk during the golden hour—around 7 am. After a nice brisk walk in the cool autumn air, I felt energized and ready to start my day with a full heart and gratitude for having a body that allows me to move. I’m not trying to be sappy but the fresh air, gorgeous golden hues of the morning and just simply moving my body and allowing myself to wake up with the day was energizing.
Now, on to this fabulous breakfast salad. Some of you might be thinking…salad? for breakfast? I know it is non-traditional but it is darn tasty. Breakfast salads are quick and easy to prepare making them the perfect back to school breakfast. They also ensure that you get a serving of fresh greens, protein and fermented foods first thing in the morning, which helps jump start your digestion and sets you up for a successful day of being fueled and thus being your best self!! I love making AIP friendly sausages or just buying AIP/paleo compliant sausages at the store, frying them on the skillet and placing them over a bed of arugla with fresh herbs. Sauerkraut goes wonderfully with sausages so that is a great addition too. This is totally a no-recipe recipe and just an idea to get you excited for your next breakfast!
Sausage Breakfast Salad
> 2 sausage patties or links—I highly recommend these maple blueberry breakfast sausages
> a large handful of greens—I love arugla—tossed with equal parts apple cider vinegar and EVOO
> fresh herbs like dill, basil, mint or parseley, chopped
> 1/2 serving of fruit, chopped
> a generous serving of your favorite fermented food like sauerkraut, pickled beets or refridgerator pickles
1. Cook sausages however you’d like—pan fry, bake, boil, etc.
2. Toss greens with dressing and garnish with fresh fruit and herbs
3. Once sausages are cooked through, place them on top of the salad greens
4. Choose your ferment of choice and place over sausages or on the side
5. Have a wonderful day!!!
—All About Coconut Butter—
Coconut butter has become one of my greatest allies on the autoimmune protocol. When I first started this healing protocol, I felt lost without my delicious sprouted almond butter; however, coconut butter soon came to my rescue. Coconut in general has a variety of health benefits, which you can read about on Sarah’s blog. In short, Sarah explains that “coconut has long been recognized for its ability to boost the immune system, and act as an antibiotic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial.” If you are not familiar with coconut products, the basic autoimmune protocol/paleo staples include: unsweetened canned coconut milk (the kind in the box is filled with additives,) unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut flour, extra virgin coconut oil and coconut butter. Coconut butter is essentially blended, unsweetened coconut flakes turned into a creamy, delicious spread. People often ask me what the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter is and I usually explain the differences by comparing it to peanut oil and peanut butter; coconut butter is like peanut butter, it includes the fats and the meat of the coconut, while coconut oil is only the fat. I love incorporating all coconut products into my diet because it helps to keep me satiated. I use extra virgin coconut oil for everyday cooking like pan-frying, sautéing veggies, roasting and baking and I use coconut butter as a quick source of energy that I eat off of a spoon, drizzled over fruit or use to thicken sauces. You can either buy coconut butter at natural food stores or you can make your own. The second option, making your own, is way more cost efficient and takes about ten minutes to make—lucky for you, I’m sharing my recipe for coconut butter today.
> 1 pound unsweetened coconut flakes
> 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (optional)
> pinch of sea salt (optional)
1. Place 1 pound of unsweetened coconut flakes in a high-speed food processor
2. Turn on food processor and run for about ten minutes, scraping down the sides periodically; if at any point the coconut butter begins to clump, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil to help smooth it out (add more as necessary)
3. Once the coconut butter is smooth, add a pinch of salt and then pulse one more time. Pour into a clean jar and store at room temperature. During the summer months, the coconut butter will most likely stay liquid; During winter months, the coconut butter will most likely become solid so you will need to place the jar of coconut butter in a bowl filled with very hot water to bring its liquid form.
Happy Labor Day, first of September and day off to you, my friends. I hope you all have fun activities planned for today…barbecues perhaps, maybe a game of corn hole with friends or shopping the labor day sales. I’m taking today easy, editing photos from a weekend full of shoots and preparing one of my favorite simply gourmet meals—garlic grilled pork chops with raspberry sauce—I suggest you do the same. I have been making this dish all summer long because it is quick, flavorful and goes with just about any combination of veggies you can think of. You might even have the ingredients on hand! Rather than indulging in the classic flavor combination of pork and apples, I decided to use something more seasonally appropriate for this dish—raspberries!! I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do…
Garlic Grilled Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce
> two pork chops
> garlic powder
> coarse sea salt
> ripe raspberries (use what you have but any amount between 1/2 cup – 1 cup will do)
> herbs to garnish: chopped mint leaves or chopped chives
1. Generously season pork chops with coarse sea salt and garlic powder (make sure the garlic powder is gluten-free!)
2. Grill pork chops until cooked through; if you do not have a grill, pan fry pork chops in 1/4″ coconut oil/tallow/lard over medium high heat until cooked through
3. Place raspberries in a bowl and mash with the back of the spoon until they take the form of a sauce
4. Place cooked pork chops over roasted/pan-fried vegetables or salad greens and top with raspberry sauce; garnish with freshly chopped herbs and enjoy!
You know you’ve got a good recipe when you inhale an entire jar of pickles over the course of one afternoon. For the past couple of weeks I have been picking up a weekly haul of Kirby cucumbers at the farmer’s market to pickle and eat. I love pickles, in all their crunchy, garlicky, tart glory. Earlier this summer, I was sad when I found out my favorite brand of pickles, Bubbies, was not compliant with my current healing protocol diet. I decided I was going to make my own pickles and have been working on perfecting my recipe for perfectly crunch, garlicky dill pickles all summer long. Finally, I’m ready to share this fantastic quick and easy recipe with you. Before sharing it, I want to let you know that this is totally a recipe that you can get creative with – swap out dill for other herbs, use more or less garlic, experiement with different types of salt…have fun with it!
Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles
> four canning jars (mason, weck or old recycled jars will do)
> two pounds Kirby cucumbers
> large bottle of apple cider vinegar
> bunch of fresh dill
> one bulb of garlic (I prefer elephant’s garlic, but any will do)
> Real Salt or any other high-quality pure sea salt
> filtered water
1. wash kirby cucumbers thoroughly and then dry and cut into spears, slices or wedges – whatever your prefer.
2. measure 1.25-1.5 teaspoons of real salt and place at the bottom of each jar – the amount of salt will vary depending on your taste preference. try two jars with 1.25 teaspoons real salt and the other two jars with 1.5 teaspoons.
3. next, pack jars halfway with cucumbers then place a few spring of dill and one or two cloves of smashed garlic. fill the rest of the jar with the remainder of the cucumbers, leaving about a 1/2″-3/4″ space at the top of the jar. sprinkle a few more sprigs of dill and maybe another small piece of smashed garlic at the top.
4. once jars are tightly packed and garnished with dill and garlic, fill jars 3/4 full with apple cider vinegar. fill the remainder with filtered water, leaving a 1/2″ at the top.
5. close jars. turn jars upside down two or three times to make sure everything is combined. then, place jars in fridge and let sit for at least 4 hours, but the longer, the better.
Do you know what I’m really into? No-recipe recipes. I am not one to follow recipes at all and when I try to, I always end up adjusting the ingrients and measurements. I’ve mentioned it before, but I rarely measure in the kitchen and operate more on gut instinct and intuition. A little bit of this, a little of that. I got it from my mama. In the summer I eat a lot of salads because of the abundance of fresh leafy greens, herbs and summer fruits. Swoon. Today, I’m sharing a no-recipe recipe for my favorite summer salad as of late. I don’t want summer to end and I am going to lament over the changing seasons with many more of these glorious salads…
Summer Salad with Edible Flowers
+ an assortment of mixed greens, baby greens, arugla, spinach
+ fresh herbs such as dill, basil, mint or chives, chopped
+ summer berries or figs, quartered
+ edible flowers, chive blossoms, nasturtiums or lavender blossoms
+ 1 small avocado, halved and pitted
+ white balsamic vinaigrette: equal parts high-quality white balsamic vinaigrette and high-quality extra virgin olive oil; feel free to add a pinch of coarse sea salt, miced shallots or a squeeze of raw honey to the dressing for added depth of flavor
1. Toss assorted greens and freshly chopped herbs with white balsamic vinaigrette
2. Plate greens and sprinkle with a few extra herbs like chopped mint or dill sprigs
3. Place assortment of berries and flowers on top of the greens
4. In the middle of the salad, place 1 half avocado and sprinkle with sea salt and then fill the middle of the avocado with additional white balsamic vinaigrette…bon appetit!
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do!
August is a very special month for me. It was exactly two years ago when I embarked on this amazing health journey of eating whole, real foods and seeing tremendous healing and new found health. For me, this whole journey started with a challenge. The challenge was called Feast and it was very similar to the Whole30 challenge that has gained so much popularity recently. It truly changed my life for the better and I haven’t looked back since doing it.
As a way to celebrate two years of improved health and vibrant living, I am going to be doing another round of the Whole30 challenge.
While I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol Diet [AIP] for the past couple of monthes and will continue to follow it during the duration of the next 30 days, the whole30 challenge offers something a little bit different for me. Preface: the AIP diet allows occasional use of natural sweetners like honey, maple syrup and dates. In the last month, I have been using a little more of those sweetners than I would really like to admit. It’s been one of those things where I will have a little bit of honey in my tea, a little bit of honey in homemade popsicles, a little bit of maple syrup in pork sausage and a couple of dates as a treat. While I realize this isn’t terrible, I know that sugar in any form [including natural sugars] makes my autoimmune condition flare up significantly. This is especially evident when I consume little bits of sugar for a couple of days in a row – I start feeling more fatigued, start feeling a little more joint and muscle pain than normal, begin to experience some attention problems and my skin flares up a bit. The Whole30 program does not allow any form of sugar or the recreation of treats with things like dates, dried coconut, coconut milk – let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to find recipes for paleo pancakes, cupcakes, muffins, these days. So for me, this challenge is really going to be about cutting out sugar and seeing how that impacts my autoimmune condition.
Another aspect of this challenge that I am going to work on is eating three solid meals a day with minimal to zero snacking during the day. I know we have been taught and told that eating multiple small meals a day is best to keep hunger at bay and to avoid massive cravings, but to be honest, this is not the case. Allowing 3-4 hours between meals allows for better digestion and greater nutrient absorption – something I am working on. I struggle with nutrient absorption because of my permeable gut lining (which I am currently healing) so I know not snacking between meals will help continue to improve my gut health. I also notice that the snacks I generally gravitate towards are fruit, fruit and coconut bars and sweet potato chips. While again, not necessarily bad choices, I know I feel my best when I limit snacking and focus on nutrient dense meals. Additionally, taking out snacks from my diet will allow more opportunity for me to eat more veggies, meats, fermented foods and healthy fats that I know are so crucial in healing my autoimmune condition.
I would absolutely encourage you to check out the Whole30 challenge and to see if it might be a good opportunity for you to reclaim your health.
Make sure to follow along with me on social media for musings, challenges and meal inspiration. I will be hashtagging #AIPxWhole30
Sometimes, you just have to sit down and write. And that is exactly what I did last week. I wrote my whole story about my Hashimoto’s Thryoiditis diagnosis and the events leading up to the day I found out that my own body was attacking my thyroid. I put off writing it for a long time – 3 months – because I was scared that putting it into words woud make it feel all too real. I wanted to hide from the diagnosis and pretend it had never happened – that my body and health was okay. Since the diagnosis in May of 2014, I couldn’t write at all. I couldn’t blog. I was worried that if I started writing about a new recipe or a life recap, that my story of my struggles with autoimmune thyroid disease would begin pouring itself out into a word document without even meaning to. But last week, their was a shift. I felt a strong feeling within that it was time to tell my story and my personal experience struggling with an autoimmune disease. In the beginning of my diagnosis, I felt completely lost, uninspired and alone. I read other blogs and stories about diagnosises, recoveries and living with autoimmune conditions; for me, this was an incredibly comforting and healing experience. It gave me a sense of solidarity with all the brave souls who are living with autoimmune conditions. It is a really scary thing to know you will have to live with a disease for the rest of your life. Sharing my story is my way of giving back to the community that offered so much to me when I was first diagnosed.
While this disease has brought so much sadness into my life, it has also brought joy and the opportunity for a deeper relationship with myself and the food that I eat. I have always believed that food is the most powerful form of medicine, both literally and figuratively. In itself, food has the power to literally heal your body from diseases and ailments – this, I am learning first hand. Traditionally speaking, the culture around food is incredibly healing and health promoting. I have always believed that the process of gathering, chopping and preparing food is a therapeutic and creative outlet; Now, I am truly living that. The process of chopping onions, gathering herbs, browning meat and eating nourishing food has become a time for meditation and a mindful act in which I get to prepare my own medicine. I have found that nothing brings people together like food does. Cooking with my sisters, preparing food with my wonderful Kristian, serving my Dad a big bowl of bone broth, spending my lunch hour dining with my friend Stephanie and eating dinner with my whole family has allowed me to share my time of meditation with those who I love and feel supported by. Through the very acts of preparing, cooking and eating, I have been able to develop deeper relationships with those I love. Having such a deep support system has been crucial to my healing process.
While my diagnosis story talks about the time leading up to finding out about Hashimoto’s and the progress I have made in the past three monthes, I only briefly discuss the healing diet I am now following. The diet is called the Autoimmune Protocol and it is a powerful diet that has helped many people put their autoimmune conditions into remission. Please read my story to hear about the tremendous transformations I have witnessed in my health since switching to this diet. The goal with the diet is to remove all dietary triggers that may be perpetuating the attack and compromising the immune system. It also promotes improving gut health – the root of all autoimmune disease. I knew this diet would be difficult. It can seem absolutely daunting in the beginning as it removes gluten, grains, dairy, soy, nightshades, sugar, legumes and corn. I know what you must be thinking…what can you eat!? I have found so much insane creative energy and inspiration in this healing diet. Maybe it’s my new found brain clarity but I am learning so much from being able to cook with “so little.” I am experimenting with delicious homemade broths, gorgeous produce, fresh herbs, fermented foods and cuts of meat I never even new existed. I make this diet enjoyable by shopping at the farmer’s market, getting to know the people who raise the meat I eat, chatting with local botanists, visiting the farms that I am buying produce from – I have never felt so connected to my food before. I believe this level of connectedness would have never come without Hashimoto’s and my personal journey towards better health. I feel truly blessed. Below are pictures of the vibrant food that I get to eat every day.
[a gorgeous purple cauliflower - vibrant and delicious]
[herb infused bone broth with root vegetables and grass-fed beef]
[candy cane + golden beets - my current obsession]
[a warm veggie salad with chopped herbs and a basil vinagrette + a grilled hamburger]
[a delicious, organic green juice - a treat, these days]
[salmond salad with grilled beets and a ginger dressing]
[harvesting and drying mint leaves for chilled herbal tea]
[a delicious chopped salad with bacon - my favorite kind of breakfast these days]
[freshly caught, wild salmon from the Oregon Coast from my favorite fisherman at the farmer's market]
[a fun and easy mocktail of ginger kombucha, watermelon and mint for mocktail monday]
Posting these pictures makes my heart sing. Look at all the gorgeous and vibrant colors!! This diet has been so healing and it is only the beginning. I look forward to sharing AIP friendly recipes with you, which I think you will love, regardless of what kind of diet or non-diet you follow.
I love you all and thank you for being here.
Adventuring out to places and spaces around Oregon, in good company, is one of my favorite summer activities. Sometimes, squeezing in a quick trip to a secret lake or embarking on a whimisical hike after work days is enough to fulfill my adventurous heart. Other times, we [kristian and I] plan our trips in advance, waking up with the sun for a long day of adventuring far away from home. Regardless of our destinations, we always have our cameras in hand, hearts full and all the snacks.