Don’t ever judge a book by its cover.
2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Due to grains allowing civilization to flourish, industry to succeed, and thus allow companies to make profit, they have become the centerpiece of our standard diet. Though whole grains are often viewed as necessary sources of dietary complex carbohydrates and fiber, it may surprise you to learn that we were not made to digest them, whether refined or not. Over the past decade, many have found they they do better on a gluten-free diet, even if they have not been officially diagnosed celiac . However, wheat products are not the only source of grain humans should avoid, as we are all actually grain-intolerant to some extent, due to harmful amounts of anti-nutrients present in these foods. Unlike “nutrients,” which benefit the body, “anti-nutrients” have the opposite effect, causing significant health complications in today’s grain-based world.
Grains, which are converted into sugar in the bloodstream, are incredibly dense sources of carbs that are unnecessary for living. Not only does eating a diet heavy in carbohydrates cause a roller coaster effect on our blood sugar, but insulin levels are chronically elevated, thus setting the stage for inevitable health problems later down the road. Besides the toxic glucose overload that grains (wheat, rice, millet, rye, sorghum, barley, oats, spelt, amaranth, etc…) provide our body, they also contain anti-nutrients known as lectins. The two most harmful are known as “prolamins” and “agglutinins,” both of which are naturally occurring toxins that plants use as natural defense mechanisms against predators (UV rays, animals, and harmful bacteria). When eaten, these proteins damage our intestinal wall by binding to the lining of the GI track, simultaneously inhibiting it from any remission of healing and repair. When this “leaky gut” develops, foreign food proteins escape into the bloodstream, causing an auto immune response where the body literally attacks itself. Due to “molecular mimicry,” lectins are also able to trick various organs outside of the GI track, such as nerve, liver, and thyroid cells, into using them in their normal function and routine. Because of this, many mild-serious health conditions result, including thyroid and liver disease, fibromyalgia, obesity, heart burn, acid reflux, allergies, skin problems, asthma, autism, cognitives problems, and diabetes. For these reasons, it is very important that those with an autoimmune disease seek to eliminate all sources of grains from their diet, as the lectin content can significantly exasperate their disorder. Lectins also are known for feeding E.Coli bacteria, binding to insulin receptor, and prompting insulin and leptin resistance, which in turn tricks the brain into believing it is starving (when in reality food being consumed is simply being sent directly to fat storage). In the end, the fact that foods high in these anti-nutrients (i.e. all grains and legumes) cause so much inflammation and trauma throughout the body, proves that they are unfamiliar and therefore unnecessary as part of the human diet.
Without getting into too much detail, a second anti-nutrient found in all grains is “phytates,” the salt form of “phytic acid” found in plants. These compounds bind to essential minerals in the body, causing severe nutrient and mineral deficiencies, as well as osteoporosis (a disease relatively absent before the advent of civilization). Even if you have yet to suffer from one of these conditions, the belief that grains are “nutritious” (in any form), is simply an oxymoron, as the vitamins and minerals available are unable to be processed due to phytates inhibiting their absorption. Because of phytates and lectins, even gluten-free foods can serve as problematic for individuals, as they are still filling the body with anti-nutrient dense carbohydrates.
Out of all the anti-nutrients found in grains, the most commonly known and demonized is gluten. This large, water-soluble protein is considered to be in the “prolamin” category of lectins, and is present in all wheat, rye, and barley. Though only 1% of the population is officially diagnosed with celiac disease, it is estimated that more than 83% of individuals suffer from a noticeable sensitivity or severe intolerance. Symptoms range from GI, skin, and joint disorders, anemia, bone density loss, equilibrium problems, chronic migraines, learning disabilities, various nervous system issues, autoimmune disease, and even several cancers. All in all, gluten causes systemic inflammation throughout the body, acting as a precursor to chronic illness. However, the gluten protein in wheat products is not the only offender in today’s world, but also the high amount of industrialization and engineering that has occurred over the past decades to create a drought resistant variety known as “dwarf wheat.” Now, not only does modern-day wheat include gluten, but it also has two incredibly harmful agents; wheat germ agglutination and gliadin protein. When eaten, gliadin binds to opioid receptors in the brain, causing a huge, abnormal stimulation of appetite, making the average person eat 400+ extra calories per day. Because of this, trying to eliminate wheat can seem literally impossible, as the body detoxes from this gluten-dependancy. However, once the body readjusts back to normal function, side effects will vanish, while digestion, elimination, immune function, and inflammation are sure to all improve.
All anti-nutrients aside, another reasons grains are detrimental to the body is due to being an “acellular” carbohydrate source, meaning they are are too easily digestible and thus overwhelm and imbalance healthy gut bacteria. Due to this intensive carbohydrate load, glycogen stores are quickly filled up, turning any ingested calories immediately into inaccessible fat. (i.e. triglycerides). Once a pattern of this eating is continued (as is the case for SAD), stress hormones are triggered to flood the body, which exhausts the adrenal system, pancreas, and immune system, simultaneously creating systemic inflammation, the precursor to all disease. Unlike the popular notion that “whole grains” are great sources of fiber and protein, these items are just as unnecessary as all processed versions. The only difference in choosing “white” over “wheat,” is that the product is free from its bran and germ components, leaving only the starchy endosperm intact. Because whole grains are not as refined, they naturally contain higher amounts of previously discussed anti-nutrients; lectins, phytates, and gluten. Though it is true that the more heavily processed grains cause an unhealthy, immediate spike in insulin, the same can be said for whole grains. Despite the fact that the heightening of insulin happens over a longer period of time, the end result of these “whole” sources is exactly the same; toxic amounts of blood glucose, insulin resistance, fat storage, and chronic disease.
For those who believe they absolutely “need” their carbs to function, there are plenty of paleo approved foods that allow for more than enough natural carb consumption. It is important to remember that overall tolerance of starchy vegetables and fruit will vary on the individual, which makes experimenting and learning how your own body reacts ultimately the best thing to do. Mega-calorie burners, such as endurance athletes, find that they do better on the “higher” end of the paleo carbohydrate spectrum, averaging around 100-150 grams per day. If you are less active, trying to lose weight, or follow a more primal-aligned exercise pattern, 50-100 grams of carbs is quite satisfying, while also allowing for adequate amounts of protein and healthy fat. If you are not consuming fruit for their natural carb content, finding high antioxidant, low glycemic varieties such as berries and stone fruit (cherries, prunes, peaches, etc..), is always a great idea. It is also important to eat these fruits when in season and (or) grown locally, instead of foreign and imported varieties (i.e. strawberries the size of golf balls in the middle of winter). Of course, wild options are always the best, as these do not experience pesticides or premature aging, and thus have the highest nutritional value of all.
After touching on just a few of the reasons why grains are an unnecessary, it is quite clear what the inevitable consequence of their over-consumption is; disease. With gluten being just one of the offenders, all grains take a tole on our body, resulting in a worn out, damaged, and helpless immune system. Though we obviously are able to “tolerate” grains for a certain extent of time, the rising number of chronic disease and illness serves as proof of our inability to uphold against these toxins. Just because the food industry claims we need them to survive, does not mean that living a grain-free lifestyle is impossible. Pasta, sandwich bread, wraps, and pizza, are all seen as cheap, efficient ways to feed the family. Yet there are many ways that make going grain-free just as affordable, if not cheaper, due to eliminating all high carb, processed food and drinks, while boosting caloric efficiency. It is true that frequent stops in the drive-through lane, dining out, and stocking up on pre-made frozen meals strips one’s finances more than they are aware. Instead, emphasizing real food (i.e. protein, vegetables, fruit, nut/seeds, fat) while avoiding high profit (low nutrition) foods, will not only result in a lighter dent in your wallet, but also an improvement in overall health.
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”
Waking up to snowfall got me thinking, and with the culinary wheels turning full throttle inside my head, I was ultimately lead to creating today’s Autoimmune-friendly “snowball cookies.” Essentially, these festive treats are the same thing as the European pastry known as “Russian tea cakes.” In fact, both versions are actually a derivative of an English, cookie-like-pastry from the 17th century, known as “Jumbles.” Original recipes are very simple, and typically combine flour, nuts, butter, and sugar, with the festive flavors of vanilla, caraway, and (or) anise. However, their presentation was anything but the latter, as they were twisted into knot patterns or intricate loops. As the years have progressed, this age-old baked good has been turned into many, modern varieties, including Mexican wedding cookies, Italian wedding cookies, butterballs, and Russian tea cakes as mentioned above.
With my snowball variation, I decided to keep things comparatively close to the original recipe, omit the nuts, dairy, and refined sugar, yet still make a buttery, flakey, and delightfully sweet cookie that everyone would enjoy. Much like my Espresso Fudge Brownies and Santa Brownie Bites, this recipe features Anti-Grain’s Apple Flour. By combining this naturally sweet ingredient with lard and maple sugar, these cookies came out incredibly flavorful. I realize that not everyone had the opportunity to back Anti-Grain Flour in their Kickstarter, and thus cannot yet get their hands on these amazing flours. Therefore, I did a few test batches using arrowroot, sweet potato, and coconut flour, as well as replacing the lard with palm shortening and coconut oil. The use of coconut flour in place of the apple flour worked fantastic, and actually kept better form than the apple flour itself, while replacing lard with palm shortening was also a winner. However, the coconut oil made a completely flat cookie. Arrowroot can also successfully be substituted for the tapioca starch, though in my opinion, the tapioca version has a better texture. As a note, you can find all of these flours, as well as the non-hydrogenated palm shortening in my Amazon affiliate store here. Overall, these cookies were devoured the very day that I made them, and even my mother (who is a lover of real Russian tea cakes), said they were amazing.
Powdered Topping Ingredients
If you do not want to make a full recipe, 1/2, or even 1/4th recipes work great!
Coconut flour acts as a fantastic replacement for apple flour.
Non-hydrogenated palm shortening can be used in place of lard.
*Do not make these cookies with coconut oil, unless you want a flat cookie.
Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
The science behind sleep remains a mystery to most individuals. However, as sleep disorders, stress, sickness, disease, and overall health of the human race declines, the importance of learning about this nightly activity is rising Therefore, today I have decided to discuss the various information that I learned through completing Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Certification course. Throughout the certification, I was taught why it is so important to get adequate amounts of sleep, what a “good nights rest” actually means, and the varying factors that can effect the overall productivity of sleeping as a whole.
While the body is asleep, many adaptive and growth hormones (such as testosterone), become active rebuilding the organs, muscles, and overall well being of one’s body, causing it to feel rejuvenated in the morning. Not only that, but specific white blood cells begin killing off any unwanted bacteria, while macrophages and leukocytes also kick into high gear, making sure that the “good” flora stay healthy as well. Through the activation of human growth hormone (i.e. HGH), fat is burned, while certain parts of the brain responsible for emotional and social health are also rested. That being said, when the body is in a state of chronic sleep deficit, appetite, metabolism, and storage of carbohydrates, are significantly altered. This causes one’s overall mood, ability to focus, be productive, and retention of key information to be compromised, while internal factors, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels, all skyrocket, simultaneously weakening the immune system, and thus leading to heart disease, cancers, sexual dysfunction, premature aging, and weight gain.
So, what exactly happens when you close your eyes and go to sleep? For starters, the brain is quite active, responding to differing, internal stimuli, simultaneously phasing into the four stages of sleep; N1 (first, five minute transition into sleep), N2 (10-15 minutes), N3 (deepest sleep stage with restorative and adaptive hormones flowing, repairing cells and muscles), and REM (i.e. “dream sleep” – 20% of sleep cycle, paralyzation of legs and arms, improvement of spatial, perceptual, and visual skills). It is in the second stage of sleep (i.e. N2), that one’s heart rate and body temperature decreases, while eye movement completely stops. Information is “uploaded” for further storage during later REM sleep, while learning and motor skills are strengthened. This process is known as “long-term potentiation,” and becomes critical as one’s learning increases with age. Next, one’s body phases into the third, deepest stage of sleep, known as N3. This is where blood is directed away from the brain towards the muscles, organs, and bones, where it is able to restore physical energy through restorative, adaptive hormones, and macronutrient synthesis. This can also be called “non-REM” sleep, and usually happens for 70-90 minutes into one’s sleep cycle. Last but not least, REM sleep arrives, which is named for the rapid eye movement that occurs. As mentioned previously, one’s legs and arms are put into paralyzation mode, while heart and blood pressure raise, and breathing becomes shallow. Emotional experiences from the day prior are sorted out, while perceptual visual, spatial, memory, and cognitive skills are improved, as well as the production of important neurotransmitters; dopamine and serotonin. Overall, the body repeats through these 4, non-REM and REM stages of sleep during night, taking a total of 90 minutes to go through once. This process as a whole is known as “synaptic homeostasis,” and is where the body refreshes the spaces between its nerve cells (i.e. synapses). The more stimulation one experiences during the day time, the more the bodies cell communicators grow. Therefore, it is undoubtedly critical to get the uninterrupted sleep that successfully goes throughout non-REM and REM cycles, to ensure that these synapses are restored.
Christmas has officially come and gone. All physical aspects aside, mine was great, though I am not going to lie, it was very painful, as I have been feeling considerably worse this past month. All body issue aside, God has certainly blessed me with an amazing family that I would not trade for the world. Not only that, but I was reminded of what a blessing it is that God came down to earth as a child, in order for me to be saved eternally from the suffering that I experience here and now. Without this act of utter humility, I would not have an ounce of strength to get through the physical pain that I do on a daily basis. Remy, the dog picture above and below, is another reason I can get through the day, as he really is one of my greatest sources of joy outside of Jesus and my family. Below I have also included a few pictures of what was served in my house at Christmas, as well as a recipe that I made as an appetizer.
After creating my sweet potato pitas, I knew coming up with a dip that people could make to go along side of them was a must. Because the pitas use water chestnut flour, and thus have an Indian flare, I decided to make a recipe that had the flavor profile somewhere a long the same lines as roasted eggplant dip and hummus. Growing up, I always loved eating hummus as a snack, and can still remember the savory, yet slightly sweet flavor on my taste buds to this day.
I find that in standard American diet cooking, dips are seen as foods that “pack on extra pounds” at Holiday parties, and thus should be limited for those looking to “stay trim.” Therefore, I wanted to create a recipe that people could actually feel GOOD about eating, yet at the same time, make it so that they could not even tell the difference between my version and a “regular” dip. After putting together a few flavor combinations in my head, I was able to make this roasted garlic dip a reality, last Thursday, on Christmas. Overall, this recipe was a hit on our appetizer table, as we served it along side plantain chips. Of course, because of the whole food ingredients, this dip could easily be served as a side dish at any main meal, or used as a spread on lettuce wraps. Whichever way you chose to use it, I know that it will always be thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of feeling guilty about doubling up on the dip, you can now feel amazing during AND after indulging in this flavorful, nutrient-dense recipe!
Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Sweet Potato Pita Bread
Regardless of if it is Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentines day, or really any other holiday where gifts may be present, I love using them as an excuse to make food for people. One item that always intrigues people is the differing versions of nut butter I make. Whether by utilizing different spices, oils, or combination of nuts, everyone always loves the alternative to regular peanut and almond butter. I also made and gave away my “pecan pie” butter, and you can find that recipe by clicking here, as well as many other nut and seed butter variations. Really, there is nothing easier than making homemade nut butter, as you simply stick everything in a food processor and walk away. Well, you can walk away, if you want, that part is optional. However, this does come in handy when I want to be doing something other than standing in the kitchen. With Christmas and New Years right around the corner, I thought that giving out small jars of my pecan pie nut butter was a must. I also got creative and decided to create a knew variety that I call “cookie dough.” Sweet, salty, smooth, and creamy, this combination of roasted cashews and brazil nuts makes for the perfect snack on your favorite fruit, or simply by the spoonful. Of course, this recipe is not AIP Paleo, however, it is a great gift alternative to the typical Christmas cookie, and tends to be welcomed and loved by all ages.
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”
It is officially less than a week away from Christmas! Are you ready? I personally still have some gift wrapping and making to do. However, the closer it gets to Christmas, the more I enjoy the excitement that comes a long with preparing gifts that I will be giving to others. Another tradition that begins the week of Christmas, is last minute baking of various cookies. Our three classics are Martha Stewart’s sugar cookies, molasses spice, and a new favorite, dark chocolate nests. Therefore, while my family will be baking away on their treats, I thought I would roundup a few of the great, Paleo versions. As a note, most of the treats in this “cookie exchange,” are AIP friendly (marked with a *), while a few are not. Happy baking, and may you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas!
Matthew 6:8 “Your Father knows what you need before you ask.”
Today’s Christmas themed brownie bites came out of inspiration from watching various cooking shows. I love the festivity that these shows bring to all of the differing holidays, and they always get me excited to further my recipe experimentation in the kitchen. Therefore, when I saw a segment on Rachel Ray for Santa Hat treats, I decided there was no reason I could not replicate the recipe for those not on the SAD (standard American diet). As noted in the original recipe post, I have included an Autoimmune friendly version for my brownies, ensuring even those on the healing protocol can enjoy this festive treat. Really, with three vegetables/fruit (plantain, sweet potato, & avocado), I have never seen such a nutrient dense brownie out there yet! To view my original, espresso fudge brownie recipe, you can do so by clicking here. There, you can also find the recipe to make the Autoimmune-Paleo friendly version.
All in all, these Santa hat brownie bites were a serious hit! I brought them to one of my integrative manual therapy sessions, and everyone was overjoyed at not only the cute presentation, but how delicious the actual treat was. Not only were the brownies loved, but they could not get over how tasty the frosting was. Therefore, I knew I must share them with the world, as they are truly a dessert everyone will love, both Paleo or not! I know you will enjoy them just as much as my friends and family did this blessed Christmas.