Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whipped Psoriasis Body Butter

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I've created my first non-edible recipe!!! And it was very successful! This is an awesome body butter, and the ingredients are all-natural! No harsh additives allowed.

But first, before we even get started. *clears throat* Here's my mandatory FDA disclaimer:
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.*
You can also read my blog disclaimer here, specifically #1.

Personally, I don't care what the FDA approves or doesn't approve, but for the sake of following the rules, that's all said and done and tied with a pretty little bow on it. And now that all that is out of the way...let's talk about essential oils.

You've probably already heard lots about them as they're the latest and greatest "craze". I almost didn't jump on board that train, because let's be honest. Sometimes the latest craze is just that—a silly trend that doesn't last. But as someone who's already skeptical of most doctors and the pharmaceutical community in general, I'm learning to be more open-minded to sources of new information and alternative methods. I know for a fact that medicines either 1) do not work for me at all or 2) they might work for me but with SERIOUS side effects. My medicinal experiences are my own, and not everyone responds the same. I would never discourage any one from taking medicines if they are necessary. The major thing here that I'm arguing for is DO YOUR RESEARCH AND KNOW THE PROS AND CONS. That's all I'm going to say about it, but if you're debating whether or not to start meds or how to handle AIP with meds, then check out "To medicate or not to medicate... that is NOT the question" from Slightly Lost Girl and/or how to go about handling researching your own medical health in Stretching Your Health Care Dollars from Alt-ternative Autoimmune.

As far as essential oils go, I started doing research and discovered there might be some merit to them after all. The main idea is that they work mainly through aromatherapy so you either diffuse or apply topically to the area that might benefit from a specific oil. Different oils have different properties that may or may not have therapeutic benefits for specific body areas or ailments.

I also started researching brands. I found Native American Nutritionals, and I've fallen in love. (Note: At the time of posting, I am not an affiliate of this brand, nor was I asked to review their products or paid to advertise for them. I simply love their oils and their company.) You can read about the company and their guarantee, mission statement, and philosophies at the link and decide for yourself. There are lots of other brands of oils out there. In my opinion, NAN oils are the best quality for your dollar from a great company that sources well, doesn't involve any multi-level marketing programs, and has fast shipping at a great price. They also have a list of Comparable Blends on their site, so you can easily find oil blends similar to the other companies.

Now for the specific oils in my recipe. This blend is designed to help with psoriasis—plaque, scale, flake specifically, but it may also help ease minimal psoriatic arthritis pain. (This blend may also help ease ezcema, but skip the clove and peppermint. For just dry winter skin, use just lavender oil.) Each oils has multiple benefits, but I've specified below why I picked each one for the body butter.

  • Native American Nutritional First Aid Blend: Contains Rosemary (reduces pain especially arthritis, beneficial to dry/flaky scalps, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, helps tone and remove dryness), Tea Tree, Clove Bud, and Helichrysum italicum (anti-inflammatory, lowers stress levels, helps wounds and cuts heal quicker, antimicrobial/antiseptic, helps keep skin smooth and retain moisture, promotes cell health,
  • Lavender Oil: Pain relief, antibacterial, antiviral, helps speed up the healing of cuts and other skin issues
  • Peppermint Oil: Stress-reliever, pain relief, cooling to skin which can help relieve dandruff and skin irritation
  • Clove Bud Oil: Anti-septic, stress reliever, warming and pain-relieving
  • Tea Tree Oil: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, boosts health, improves health of skin especially dandruff, can provide relief from aches and pains

*Please note: This recipe is for TOPICAL APPLICATION ONLY and should not be consumed!*

Now the question I know everyone is wondering. Does it actually work? I can't promise it will work for you, but I can tell you that it worked beautifully for me. Last week, my left ear was covered in scale and flake and the crease behind my ear was cracking. I had spots of scale on my knuckles and aching in my finger joints. I made the body butter and started applying it twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. In less than two days, barely any of the scale on my ear remained and the cracking was almost completely healed. The body butter is also super moisturizing and makes your skin feel amazing. A friend at work also commented that my skin looked more taut. Taut skin means less wrinkles, so I'll take it!!!

Whipped Psoriasis Body Butter
1.5 cups beef tallow
4 tbsp coconut oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil

Melt tallow over low heat until liquid. Remove from heat. Add coconut oil and stir thoroughly. Add oils and stir thoroughly. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer or into a glass bowl if using a hand held mixer. Whip the mixture on the highest speed without splashing until it starts to thicken. Slowly increase the speed until the mixture starts to solidify. Whip until all set but a light, whipped texture. (If using a hand mixer, you may want to use a cold glass bowl or allow the mixture to cool to room temp before starting.) Store in an airtight, glass jar. It is not recommended to use plastic or metal with essential oils.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Restaurant-style Salsa (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I'm on AIP Day 46. It's become so routine that I'm not really feeling much of a struggle most days. This year there are TONS and TONS more recipes all over the internet and now even in cookbooks, which makes the going so much easier than last year. I'm not seeing as much control over my psoriasis as I would like. I've got several patches of scale on my scalp, on and in my ears, under my nose, and on top of my hands. I've been eating the strictest I have in months, and I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating it is that I'm not seeing more improvements.

I'm on a parasite cleanse with my local holistic doctor. The cleanse means I'm detoxing, and detoxing means I'm experiencing nightmares and flares sporadically. I'm keeping a close eye on it, but right now I'm considering it a temporary setback in order for more progress in the longterm. In the meantime, I'm working on staying as strict AIP as possible, staying on somewhat of a schedule, and keeping my stress low. I've been cutting back on different things slowly throughout the last few months, and it's definitely been a huge help. I can now sit down and read for 30 minutes without feeling guilty.

Looking on the brightside of this setback is that I've had lots of recipe developing going on! And because I'm strict AIP, that means ALL of my recipes in the works are strict AIP too! No mods! And more recipes always means good things for you, my readers.

So we already talked about nightshades and why they aren't AIP in my Tomatoless Soup post. And I also obsessed briefly over my loss of Mexican food. (Yes, it's that serious.) I have to admit that I was already pretty excited about my Tomatoless Soup recipe because it wasn't spaghetti sauce. I was afraid that when it came to subbing tomatoes, that it would only work if it had the herbs to help blend the flavors. I'm so glad that I was proved wrong. The recipe was actually supposed to be a beet soup, and it turning into a wonderful bowl of Tomatoless Soup was actually a happy accident.

This salsa creation, however, is no accident. When I tasted the Tomatoless Soup, the wheels wouldn't stop turning and the creative juices wouldn't stop flowing. This recipe HAD to happen. Luckily, after the soup is already made, this recipe comes together fairly quickly and doesn't take much work or any odd ingredients. The focus here though is going to be on FRESH ingredients. Don't try it with dried cilantro and garlic; it's going to be very bland if you do. If you've reintroduced seed-based spices, then feel free to add in a little punch of ground cumin for some extra Mexican zip. But don't fret if you can't do the cumin yet. The recipe is convincing enough without it. Try it with some tostones or plantain chips or on a taco salad!

Restaurant-style Salsa
1 cup Tomatoless Soup
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lime juice
½ c fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until well-combined. Don't over blend the mixture. The chunkier the onion, the chunkier the salsa. Still, the recipe will be more of a restaurant-style, pureed salsa than a chunky version.

Spatchcock Provençal Chicken (AIP)

Spatchcock Provençal Chicken
I was asked to do a guest post for the The Paleo Mom's blog! Of course I said yes! I've been wanting to share this recipe for a while. It's a fun and tasty way to cook a whole chicken in just a fraction of the time it takes to roast it.

I served it with The Paleo Mom's Maple-Braised Butternut Squash and my Roasted Broccoli & Garlic for the perfect AIP-compliant meal.

 You can find the Spatchcock Provençal Chicken recipe HERE!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tomatoless Soup (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

For me, one of the hardest things to give up when going AIP was nightshades. If you follow my blog, you know my ancestry is part Italian and part Portuguese and this girl loves her salsa. Technically, I think I should have been born a Latina. I mean, my favorite ethnic food hands down for most of my life has been Mexican. And I mean legit Mexican. We don't need none of that Tex Mex stuff over here. I want corn tortillas with steak and peppers and onions topped with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. But I digress...

If you flashback to last summer on my Instagram, then you will see that I ate salsa for breakfast, salsa for snack, salsa for lunch, salsa for dinner... Well, you get the idea. And it's no surprise that my psoriasis went full flare... So what's the big deal with nightshades, anyways?

If you've never heard the term, nightshades are a group of plants from the same family called Solanaceae. They include tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers (sweet and hot), white potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, and goji berries. (The list of edible nightshades is pretty extensive, so if you want the full run down, make sure to check out What are Nightshades? from The Paleo Mom or The Paleo Approach for the full list.)

Why are nightshades out for those of us on AIP? The main issue is that these foods contain glycoalkaloids, which can be highly irritating for those with a sensitivity. They can not only cause leaky gut, but they are also known as adjuvants, which can cause even bigger problems for those of us with autoimmune disorders. Adjuvants can stimulate and exacerbate an immune response in the body. The glycoalkaloids tend to amp up a response to proteins coming from the gut, and this tends to transform into an autoimmune response. (For more in depth info, read The WHYS behind the Autoimmune Protocol: Nightshades)

So what's a Italian girl who loves tomatoes and peppers supposed to do when faced with several autoimmune and autoimmune-related conditions? Of course I had to give up the nightshades. But that doesn't mean I can't get creative in the kitchen and reinvent the wheel. Or in this case, one of my favorite soups growing up. 

Tomatoless Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes | Serves: 4-6
1 lb fresh beets, tops removed and scrubbed 
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
8 oz carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
6 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Place the beets in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until beets are fork tender and water is ruby red. Drain beet pot juice and reserve for smoothies, drinking, etc. Set beets aside. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt coconut oil and sautee onions, celery, and carrots over medium low heat until edges turn translucent. Add beets, pumpkin, and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until all veggies are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until a smooth puree. Add in the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of each at a time, stirring carefully and testing as you go. You will want the acidic taste of the lemon and vinegar to cut through the sweetness of the root veggies. Add the savory and sea salt. Taste and add sea salt or lemon juice/apple cider vinegar slowly at a time until the tomato flavor tastes fully developed. Garnish with parsley.

*Optional: Creamy Tomatoless Soup
Add one 14 oz can coconut milk to the pot at the end and allow to warm through. Serve.

*Crockpot Option 
After sauteing veggies, add everything to the crockpot except for lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Cook on low for 4 hours. Blend with an immersion blender. Add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to taste before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book Review (& Recipe/Giveaway!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book
I'm so excited to announce that I'm a contributor for The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book, brought to you by The Paleo Mom! This is my first cookbook!! Ok, so it's not all mine, but I'm still riding on this little high, so you'll have to forgive me. *wink wink*

Let me give you the low-down skinny in just a few words:

Who wrote the cookbook? Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom wrote the majority of the book, but invited lots of bloggers from the AIP community to contribute recipes (see a list of AIP bloggers here).

What is The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book?
A 178-page e-Book that covers how to throw your very own dinner party, games, scheduling, meal plans, recipes and lots of great info.

But how is it different from just any other cookbook?
Not only does it have tons of recipes, but the recipes are all broken down into 14 well-planned complete dinners that you can use to throw your own dinner club party or even just use for meal planning!

Why do you need a copy?? 
Because the e-Book is chock full of fantastic recipes (over 80 of them!) that are AIP-approved!

*Keep scrolling to see the whole recipe and give it a try!

Where do I get a copy? 
Easy! Just click the link here and follow the buy now link!

The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book
by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

I've even included a recipe preview from the book! Try it out and then get crack-a-lackin' on ordering this cookbook so you can throw your very own AIP Dinner Club Party!

Pineapple and Lychee Granita
Prep Time: 3 hours | Total Time: 3 hours | Serves: 8 

2 lbs fresh lychee or rambutan
1 quart (about 1 ½ lbs) fresh pineapple chunks
2 limes
¼ tsp salt

1. Peel and pit the lychee. Zest the limes and reserve zest as a garnish, then cut the remaining peel off the limes. Add limes, lychee, salt and pineapple to the blender and blend until completely smooth.

2. Pour puree onto a rimmed baking sheet or into a cake pan or lasagna pan and place in the freezer. After 1 hour, remove from the freezer and scrape and mash with a fork to make little ice crystals. Return to the freezer. After another hour, remove from freezer and mash a second time. Return to freezer. After a third hour, remove from the freezer and mash a final time.

3. Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

To transport: transfer to a freezer-safe container that will work for transport. Transport in a cooler and freeze immediately upon arrival. Before serving, give one final scrape/mash with a fork. Serve garnished with lime zest.

This recipe is from Sophie at A Squirrel in the Kitchen! Make sure to check out her blog for some other great recipes!

***PS: I'm doing a GIVEAWAY!!!! What?! Wanna win a copy of The Paleo Approach Dinner Club e-Book for you and three of your friends??!!! Stayed tuned tomorrow Nov. 6 on my Instagram account @theprimordialtable starting at 8am CST!***

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pumpkin Clam Chowder (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

It's been a while since I've brought you an original recipe. I've had a lot of recipe development going on behind the scenes, but they have been specifically for special projects. My latest project was collaborating with The Paleo Mom on her newest e-Book The Paleo Approach Dinner Club. I contributed two original and exclusive recipes to the cookbook. The cookbook is such a fun project, because it's perfect for throwing dinner parties! AIP can be a struggle when it comes to dining out and entertaining. So take the guess work out and check out the book!! I'm working on a separate blog post about the e-Book specifically, but I didn't want to waste any more time that you could be using to cook up some great new dishes! Click the link below to check it out!

I have several other surprise projects in the works as well. But I've also been working on several recipes just for the blog! This newest recipe for Pumpkin Clam Chowder happened in a fun little moment of genius. I'm not trying to toot my own here, but what else do I call it?? I've been dying to make an AIP-approved Clam Chowder recipe for a while now, and when the idea for Pumpkin Clam Chowder popped into my head, I knew it had to happen NOW!

My mom's family is from just inside the Cape Cod area, so the only clam chowder even worth talking about is a good New England-style Clam Chowder (pronounced chowda in case you didn't already know)! Rich and creamy broth with chunky potatoes and bits of clam and bacon. Ahh, perfection. The focus here is balance. A good chowda is simple but flavorful.

This chowda is a fun, fall twist on an old classic, but it still meets the basic requirements. I won't argue that it's better than the original, but maybe you'll agree that it's just as good in its own right!

Pumpkin Clam Chowder
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 4-6 

6 oz bacon, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1 lb parsnips, peeled and chunked
4-6.5 oz canned clams
1-8 oz bottle clam broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
2-15 oz canned pumpkin
1-14 oz canned coconut milk
1-2 tsp salt

In a dutch oven over medium-low heat, cook up all the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon bits and set aside, leaving bacon fat in the pan. Add the onion, celery, and leek to the bacon fat and cook until it starts to turn translucent. Add parsnips, clams, and clam broth. Stir well and add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a slow simmer. Allow to simmer until parsnips are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add pumpkin and coconut milk. Stir thoroughly and heat until warmed through. Remove bay leaf and salt to taste. Garnish with additional thyme if desired. Top with bacon bits to serve.

*Add collagen or gelatin to the clam broth for extra nutrition.
**Great crockpot option: Crisp the bacon and saute all the veggies together. Add all ingredients (including the bacon) to the crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Remove bay leaf, salt if necessary, and serve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)
Some of the latest buzz on the Paleo streets is the newest cookbook from Grass Fed Girl's Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, and Balanced Bites's Diane Sanfilippo: Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. If you've been outside the loop, then I'm here to give you a quick last minute preview before it launches TOMORROW, October 28! I have to admit that I was super excited to get my hands on a preview copy for two major reasons: 1) Um, Mediterranean ethnic food? Can we say, "Hello, flavor??!" and 2) There's AIP-friendly options in the cookbook! Whaaat?! Yep! And I'm going to give you the run-down on what that means for all of you, my fabulous AIP readers! So keep reading.

When I finally had the cookbook in my hands, I was instantly impressed with the size. There's a lot of pages and the recipes are easy to read. Of course, the photographer in me is also in love with all the drool-worthy photos—so much color and tantalizingly teasing meals photographed on almost every other page. I'm not really nervous when it comes to trying ethnic foods, and with this cookbook, there's no reservations at all! The pictures will make you ready to dig in, even if you're not so sure of the ingredients. And don't really worry about those either, because the authors have given you an easy and quick little breakdown about Mediterranean dishes, origins, regions, health and lifestyle, and how to stock your Mediterranean pantry/kitchen.

If you've been reading my blog, then you already know that I have a Portuguese and Italian heritage, and I embrace ethnic foods with gusto. And eating ethnic foods while AIP can sometimes be a struggle. Mediterranean Paleo Cooking has over 150 recipes and over 100 of them are AIP-friendly! Yes, over 100. I counted them myself! And I have to admit that I'm sure impressed with the effort the authors took to modify the recipes to AIP. A lot of times, I have seen non-AIP recipes made AIP just by stating to "omit for AIP" next to inflammatory ingredients. And while this does adapt the recipe for us, that doesn't mean the recipe is going to have much flavor. Caitlin and her contributors actually created feasible substitutions that take out the inflammatory ingredients and replaced them with other equally-flavorful options. And that kind of time and effort has to be applauded.

Now keep in mind that in the introduction, the authors/contributors clarified about the AIP-friendly options. They decided to include berry- and fruit-based spices (like black pepper and cardamom) and fresh legumes (like green beans and peas) in their AIP-friendly recipes. While originally these were considered grey area foods, Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom has since clarified in her book The Paleo Approach that these are reintroduction foods and should be avoided during the elimination phase of the protocol. Based on this, I would recommend that anyone who has not reintroduced anything yet should use caution and use their best judgment for these recipes. They are still very adaptable (simply omit the spices in question) to the elimination phase of the protocol. For someone who has successfully reintroduced these spices and foods, the recipes are perfect and are a great addition to a healing diet. I also appreciate that the authors chose to label the recipes "AIP-friendly" versus "AIP-approved". In my opinion, this wording encourages the reader to adapt the recipes accordingly without claiming them to be fully compliant.

And now for the recipes themselves. I didn't get to try as many as I wanted to, but you can be sure that I'll be reaching for this cookbook often to try lots more of them in the future.

Nacera's Lemon Ginger Chicken Tajine

This chicken dish has some great flavor, and is fairly easy to throw together. Also has a crockpot option!

Savory Chicken Kebabs

 Marinate these tasty kebab the night before, and you come home to a quick dinner that's in and out of the oven or off the grill in a flash. I don't have a grill, and the broiler worked great.
Cabbage Dolmas (Stuffed Cabbage)

This recipe looks somewhat fancy, but it turned out very easy with simple and clear directions. Give it time to simmer on the stove for a nice, rich sauce that's tomato-free.
And last but not least! I tried the Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes. Yum! Such a nice breakfast. And because these are baked, you can cook them all up at once. I even received permission to share the recipe with all of you before the cookbook launches. So make these for breakfast tomorrow and grab a copy of the cookbook!

Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes*
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 3 | Yield: 6 (3-inch) pancakes

3 medium bananas
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
maple syrup or honey, for serving (optional)
melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Spoon a few tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch think. Repeat until all the batter is used. For a perfectly shaped pancake, use a ring mold.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pancakes and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Let the pancakes cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. Top with maple syrup, honey, or melted fat of choice. Serve and enjoy.

*Shared with permission from the authors.

Be sure to grab your copy off Amazon! The book comes out tomorrow, so snag the preorder price while you can!

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking
by Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, & Diane Sanfilippo