There comes a time in life where we all think back on the “what ifs.” Whether it has to do with silly things, or major events, you will notice that when looking back, everything always leads up to where you are at the present moment. If some of those seemingly insignificant incidents had never occurred, or even had been slightly altered, chances are your life would be a lot different. When it comes to the small things like deciding to take a different road to work, only to find out there was an accident on your normal route, it is easy for us to look back and go “oh yeah! Now I know why that happened!” However, when if it is an event ending in disaster or a quote on quote “tragedy,” we tend to ignore looking backwards to see how it is shaping our future, and instead get stuck on how it has ruined everything. We all have these moments of despair and uncertainty, including myself.
Somedays I get ornery at my family, moody at our dogs, or mad because nothing seems to be going right. Either I am fed up with my body causing me discomfort, or I am simply sick of being at a standstill in my illness. In effort to make me feel better, some people tend to tell me they wish things were different, or that I had never gotten sick. As I have said in previous posts, sympathy can make me feel uncomfortable because, even though I may be down for the moment, I wouldn’t change my life for a million bucks. This may sound slightly odd, as eating fish for breakfast, being bed ridden, literally drinking oil for extra calories, getting stuck with a needle every week, waiting in doctor’s offices weekly, and not being able to “go out,” is anything but ideal for any teenager. Before I got sick, it seemed I had everything in life going for me. Excelling in hobbies such as piano and tennis, getting superb grades in school, and having a blast with friends and family, were all part of God’s blessings on my early childhood. Yet if you were to ask me if I could change any of my past events leading up to my illness, I would whole heartedly say no. In fact, though everything familiar was stripped away as time went on, the answer to this question is not something I have ever had to think twice about. Of course I miss my old activities, being able to give my parents the breaks they need, or even helping out with the chores around the house. If you are a teenager reading this you probably won’t understand, however, being sick for a long time will do that to someone. Carrying beach chairs, washing the car, and dusting the despised baseboard all become things you yearn to do. That being said, my illness is still something I would not change. Without it, I would not be where I am today, and that is a fact. The greatest testament to this truth is how I have learned what I truly enjoy in life. Helping and serving others, learning science and health information, cooking and baking, and anything else to do with food, have all become a major part of my life. If I had stayed healthy, who knows where I would be. Though my life before hand was not in any way bad or destructive, I am not sure how I would ever had grown to be the person I am today. Everyone has to go through some sort of trial or event to shape them into what they are to become. Sometimes it seems small, sometimes it is big, but either way it is ultimately bringing you one step closer to becoming who you were meant to be. Don’t go around wishing you could change past events, but instead embrace the journey they are taking you on, and realize you are lucky it happened in the first place. If our circumstances around us never changed, we would never learn, grow, mature, thrive, meet new people, or go different places. In the end, life without alterations would not be a life at all.
A part of my life that I know would be much different if I had not become ill, is the differing relationships that I would encounter. Not only have many people and acquaintances dropped out of my life, but I have also had the privilege of meeting some rather extraordinary individuals. One of these people is my friend Audrea (the girl behind A Bountiful Blessing) who just so happens to be into health and nutrition just as much as I am. Not only do we connect over food, family, and God, but also on the little day to day things, making a close friendship with her that much easier. Most teenagers, and adults for that matter, are not comfortable around someone who has a chronic illness. They do not know how to handle the altered situation, or how to talk to them like any other human being with interests and feelings. However, being with Audrea is anything but strenuous. Not only does she always know how to be an encouragement, but she treats me like a “normal person,” yet without forgetting that I am actually sick and need caring for. Throughout the years, it seemed as though I would never meet someone who understood me, or my illness, so well. We may come from practically opposite backgrounds, but the end result of these different childhoods has led us both to a friendship I for one wouldn’t change for the world!
Just last week, Audrea celebrated her birthday and, as a friend of hers, I of course wanted to make something special out it. Because she too eats paleo, and is experimenting with Low FODMAP, I knew having any type of birthday treat would be far and few in between. For myself, birthday cake first turned into an Edible Arrangement, and the next year a baked chicken wing (not kidding). Funny enough, letting go the very act of blowing out candles on my birthday was, and still is, about ten times harder than not having cake itself. That being said, throughout the past few years, I have researched, experimented, and racked my brain for some way to make a birthday cake that my body could handle. Most paleo recipes are either ladened with nuts, use eggs as a binder, or simply contain too many coconut products, all in which I cannot eat well. However, this all changed in the past year when I started cooking with plantains. Whether sweet or savory, they never disappoint, and seem to make the best paleo dishes out there! Because I cannot eat sugar (for many reason), and Audrea is trying to avoid it for the time being, I used chicory root as the sweetener. As the root of which endive and radicchio grow, chicory in the form of granules is also brewed with coffee, which has become the famous drink originated from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Though it is a natural prebiotic, and also an Oligosaccharide carbohydrate (the “O” in FODMAP), my body handles it quite well. This is probably due to the fact that the properties in chicory root help gallbladder bile flow, as well as liver detoxification and kidney function. Whether you have to eat a certain way due to a health complication, or are simply trying to cut down on your fake carb and sugar intake, this dense chocolate cake is for you! As an added bonus, the frosting I created is also free of dairy and refined powdered sugar, so don’t be afraid to go ahead and indulge! Your body might actually thank you 🙂
Plantain Paleo Chocolate Cake (Egg-free)
- 8 oz green plantain
- 1/3 cup maple sugar
- 6 tbsp sheep yogurt (or) coconut cream
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 4 oz dark chocolate *I used Lily’s stevia chocolate chips
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (or any other oil at hand)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Peel and dice plantain and place into a food processor.
- In a medium sized sauce pan over low heat, melt maple sugar, chocolate chips, coconut oil, cocoa, and yogurt together.
- Once mixture is incorporated and melted, add to food processor and pulse with plantain until slightly mixed.
- Add vanilla and baking soda and run processor until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Grease a small, 6 inch cake pan, place a piece of fitted parchment paper in the bottom (I used a small cake pan), and pour cake mixture evenly in.
- Place pan into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Let cool for at the least 20 minutes and then flip the cake upside down onto a serving plate to frost.
If you cannot have any type of yogurt, it can easily be replaced with coconut cream from the top of a full-fat, refrigerated, can of coconut milk.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
- 7 tbsp maple sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp coconut flour
- 1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries
- Place strawberries in a blender (I used a Magic Bullet), and whiz until chopped into a fine powder.
- In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat palm shortening, maple sugar, and strawberry powder until fully incorporated.
- Add coconut flour and vanilla and beat again until just combined.
- Either frost cake right away, or place in fridge for later use.
This frosting will firm up in the fridge! Therefore, if you wish to pipe later with it, simply place into the bag ahead of refrigeration.