Feeling better

It’s been just over a month since I’ve been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.  It’s also been just over a month that I’ve been following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to help my disease.  This protocol isn’t forever – it’s only temporary and depending on each person can last anywhere from 30 days to 3 years.  During this period you eliminate foods that cause inflammation and irritations to your gut: nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, cocoa, coffee beans, all peppers, spices such as cumin, chili powder (anything derived from peppers)), nuts and seeds (including cocoa and coffee beans – GULP!), eggs, or alcohol.  This is in addition of course to the paleo restrictions of no dairy, legumes, grains.  To begin with I did have the overwhelming feeling of: Well, what CAN I eat?! The answer is actually really simple.. I can eat everything except the above listed foods.   I’m talking lots of vegetables and good quality meats.  In the beginning it was pretty difficult, I won’t lie.  However after only about two weeks everything started to fall into place and became “business as usual.”

After the first week or so I was still experiencing a fair bit of abdominal cramping, but no where near as much.  By week 3 I was feeling much better – no cramping at all! What was even better – no bleeding.  No bleeding at all.  For the past year of my life every time I went to the bathroom I experienced blood (and usually a fair bit of it) – but no longer.  The bleeding is very rare and I’m very hopeful that sooner rather than later it will be completely gone – and same with the abdominal cramping.

It hasn’t been easy staying away from coffee or chocolate.  You may find it surprising that I miss eggs and nuts more than coffee and chocolate though.   Eggs were a staple to me – I had them EVERY day for breakfast — and hey, perhaps that’s why I was feeling SO bad.  Same with nuts.  I’ve actually thought back on the months leading up to finally getting diagnosed (the worst 3 months I experienced) and the foods I ate actually make me laugh.  Eggs, nuts, lots of raw vegetables especially tomatoes and red peppers – basically all of the foods that cause inflammation.. I was eating in abundance.  I’m not saying these aren’t healthy foods – they are – it’s the simple fact that I (for now at least) can’t tolerate them.  

At times I do still feel disheartened, discouraged, and sometimes just plain sad.  However, I have some friends and family (and one amazing boyfriend) who support me and show me love.  If you’ve been diagnosed with an IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), an IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), an autoimmune disease, I strongly recommend you trying the Autoimmune Protocol for a minimum of 30 days.

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Mocha-Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love coffee. I love chocolate. I love baked goodies (the healthy versions, of course). This recipe consists of all of all of these things. So by now you should have realized something.  And that is.. this recipe is awesome.

Oh. I almost forgot to mention that this recipe is free from any refined sugars, grains, gluten & dairy. BOO-YAH. …Who even says boo-yah anymore? Um. Moving on to the recipe before I embarrass myself any further…

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pureed butternut squash
  • 1 cup nut-butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or dark chocolate) (**I only only put 2 chips on top of each mini muffin, as I feel like there’s already enough chocolate in the muffins!)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350f/175c
  • Steam/Boil butternut squash until it’s tender (you’ll be able to easily stick a fork in it)
  • Use a food processor/blender to puree the butternut OR mash by hand (I’ve done both)
  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Evenly distribute batter amongst 24 mini muffins
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes

Substitutions:

  • Sweet potato in place of butternut squash
  • Crunchy or smooth nut-butters – your preference
  • Substitute another sweetener for the maple syrup (agave nectar, honey, etc)

Enjoy as part of breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert.. Hey, if you want them for lunch: go for it, who am I to judge? Though, I would recommend you accompany it with something a little more nutritious as well.

My excellent assistant, stirring away.

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Sniff test! Yup, that’s good and chocolate-y.

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Into the muffin pan they go! Bake for 15 minutes or so and..

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Voila! Look at these cuties!

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And a close up just to tease you.

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..What are you still doing on here? GO MAKE THESE!

Pumpkin cream bars

There’s a few foods that I realllly love, and one of them is pumpkin.  It’s one of those versatile foods that you can cook it various ways, each tasting different.  This recipe is a dessert, that is guilt-free, and could actually be served as a breakfast/brunch treat as well – being that it’s actually not THAT sweet (but totally hits the spot).

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Transformation

Not all that long ago I wasn’t conscious of what I consumed, and I didn’t exercise on a regular basis. With that being said, I wasn’t as bad as I could’ve been, however I was no where near where I should’ve, needed, or even wanted to be. In 8 months I turned that around, and took control of my body. With eating a generally clean diet, and regular exercise, I’ve come a long way. Now, there’s no stopping me.

Look out world 🙂

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Perfect for a snack, pre or post workout, or even breakfast (though personally I would need something a bit more filling).

Goodies required:

  • 1 banana
  • 5 strawberries (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter, or nut butter
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Handful of ice – for thickening the smoothie
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds (optional)

Blend all of it together! Put the liquid and softer items at the bottom so that it blends together better.

Both seeds I listed are optional, however both have great nutritional contents so, why not add them? The same goes for the spinach; trust me, the first time someone suggest to me to put spinach in a smoothie I thought, ew! Would it even blend up? That would have to taste awful.  But in reality, you can’t taste it since there’s so much fruit in it – even it does alter the color a bit.  Give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen?! 🙂

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Spinach-Turkey Meatballs

If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, you truly must!  And for those of you who have; you know just as well as I do how amaze-balls (yes, I went there) spag squash is.  What’s so great is you just have to slice it in half, scoop out the guts, and then bake it face down in the pan for about 1 hour.  You then scoop it out, and can serve it virtually any way you want.  It really takes on whatever seasoning or flavors you put in it.  I usually go for either pesto or a tomato sauce, but the possibilities don’t end there.

This recipe is for spinach-turkey balls, which I paired with spaghetti squash (see, my rant wasn’t completely pointless) and a homemade tomato sauce.  I really love these meatballs, however, since making them the first time I found that they could have some more flavor, so I added sauteed fresh basil & some minced garlic in with them.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground lean turkey OR chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 tsps garlic powder (or a little more for flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup wholewheat bread crumbs
  • 1 splash almond milk (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375F or 190C
  • Mix chopped spinach, diced onion, egg, cheese (if using), and milk until a paste forms.
  • Add meat, and then fold in the remaining ingredients.

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  • Roll into 1-2inch balls and place on baking sheet with parchment paper for an easy clean up (or lightly grease the pan)

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown

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IDEA: If you wanted to make a burger rather than meatballs – you could easily just form these into a patty instead, and either bake them or cook them in the oven.

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I sauteed veggies to go along with it, and made homemade tomato suace; it was a big hit even for my friends and family who typically scoff at my “healthy” alternatives and such.

 

Grinch Fruit Kebabs

I found this idea on Pinterest, so I unfortunately can’t take the credit for these cuties.  Over the holidays I saw several different versions: some opting out of the banana altogether.  Another (which I think is my favorite) was chopping just a little bit of the grape off so that it could stand on it’s own – so then they’re standing upright on the plate.  I believe next year that’s how I will make these.  They were just so easy to put together, and I actually had majority of the ingredients. 

 

HO HO HOpe everyone enjoyed this Holiday season! Now, I’m ready to start the new year!

 

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