Easter 2015 ~ Food, Family, & Finding Joy in the Little Things

The Pselos Family's Easter 2015

Easter has come and gone and I’ve been meaning to write this for the last two weeks because there were some things I wanted to share. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Ours was lovely. We had been very hot in Southern California the entire week before and it cooled off to where I was chilly outside in my little spring sundress! It was awesome; I am nowhere near ready for summer yet. There is plenty of year left for it to get blazing hot so I will take the cool when and where I can get it!

It ended up being just the three of us. Over a month before we had started asking family what everyone wanted to do and no one ever gave us an answer. Then hubby got a couple of runs that day (our transportation business, Integrity Transportation Service, is always open, which sometimes includes working holidays) so we decided to have our own get-together so that we could plan the day around his schedule. Plus, I actually prefer to cook these days. Yes, it is a lot of work, but at least I know I can eat everything! I often leave dinner parties hungry and/or sick even after trying to communicate with the host and I don’t expect everyone to become an expert, but am sometimes left feeling like an inconvenience – on top of hungry and/or sick – so I just prefer to do the hosting myself.

Everyone else apparently had their own plans, and it turned out to be a nice day, but I was kind of hoping for a busy day. As nice as it is to have just us, sometimes – particularly on holidays – just the three of us makes the house seem kind of empty and overly quiet.

Our son, Christopher, would be eleven this year and his brother, Joshua, five. Both died as a result of extreme prematurity and I miss them more now than I ever have. They are never far from my thoughts and I had been preparing and planning for Easter for weeks. I had been working on my menu and shopping and meal and goodie prepping, and doing fine. Until late Saturday night when I made up the Easter basket for our three-year old and it hit me hard. I was only making one basket when I should have been making three.

Henry's Easter Basket

Henry’s Easter Basket

So I admit a few tears were shed while I put together this fun Easter basket full of things my little boy loves. Everything he received was completely junk-free and fun. There were a couple of books, bubbles, a new baby (as he calls stuffed animals), a Thomas the train engine that chugs and whistles, and a card handmade by his mama. The only sweets he received was a box of Chirps, the clean version of Peeps made by a favorite local grain-free bakery. Here’s a close-up; aren’t they the cutest? They are made with honey and natural colors and real flavors and he was thrilled. He’d actually never had a marshmallow before; it was hilarious but now he may be hooked! I will be sweet-talking Laura at Snackin’ Free to make me a batch before our next camping trip for sure!

Henry’s Chirps, like a paleo Peep!  The blue are blackberry flavored, the yellow are lemon, and the white plain marshmallow.  We got them from a local grain-free and paleo-friendly bakery called, Snackin’ Free.

Henry’s Chirps, like a paleo Peep! The blue are blackberry flavored, the yellow are lemon, and the white plain marshmallow. We got them from a local grain-free and paleo-friendly bakery called, Snackin’ Free.

My husband was out early working, so it was just me and the little guy for breakfast. I have to eat grain-free for health reasons and he has to eat gluten-free, so fun meals can take a little planning. I had had several ideas, about making things or ordering things. I love cinnamon rolls and had found a recipe for them to try and then the bakery we got the Chirps from also had them to order, but in the end I bought a loaf of bread. Yes, plain bread. And it was a huge treat! I rarely have bread around I can eat because it’s quite expensive to buy and though I love to bake it can be a lot of work when you already are preparing a large meal from scratch, plus the ingredients (though it is cheaper than buying in the store) aren’t cheap either.

Then I was doing my meal shopping and my little guy asked for bread. So sweetly and he can be so hard to say no to! So we wandered over to the gluten-free baked goods section in the bakery and there was this loaf of grain-free bread, made locally, that is pretty expensive for bread, but really good. (It’s by Jackalope Good Food Company and worth the occasional splurge.) So while I saw many others on Facebook and Instagram and such serve a fancy brunch or make pancakes, or crepes, or eggs benedict, or such, Henry and I had toast and were absolutely thrilled. Oh, the simple things!

Me and Henry’s Easter breakfast: our grain-free toast with ghee and strawberry jam for me – an almond butter and jam sandwich for him – plus bacon, fresh and local strawberries and orange, dried dates, and Kombucha for him and bulletproof coffee for me.  Simple but divine!

Me and Henry’s Easter breakfast: our grain-free toast with ghee and strawberry jam for me – an almond butter and jam sandwich for him – plus bacon, fresh and local strawberries and orange, dried dates, and Kombucha for him and bulletproof coffee for me. Simple but divine!

My husband got home around mid-morning or so, and I was fighting to get motivated. Our original plan had been to eat at two and I had my plan all laid out and had gotten a meager start, but that was it. And I was emotional. I could hardly stop crying, though I was trying to hide it. Sometimes it just hits you. Many don’t understand, but the fact is you don’t have to be consciously thinking about someone you’ve loved and lost for it to hurt. It can just hit you out of nowhere like a freight train and take you by surprise. It wasn’t like I was thinking, Oh woe is me…my boys aren’t here…I’m sad…etc, etc, etc. It’s just there. And usually has hit you and run you over before you even realize that it’s there.

So my husband, bless his heart, came home to a weepy wife and didn’t even have to ask. He just knew and asked me, “Thinking about the boys?” He understood because he was too. He hugged me and encouraged me a little and then went to take care of some things and play with our son. I could hear him on the phone and the next thing I knew his schedule was cleared for the rest of the day; he had had one more run for later that night he wound up giving to one of our drivers. He had a run early the next morning and would have been out late, so that was part of the reason, but when I asked him later he admitted part of it was he also didn’t want to leave me on a difficult day. I was so touched.

I was initially really disappointed no one joined us, and the house still felt kind of lonely and empty through the day, but on one hand it was nice. It was so relaxed, it took the pressure off the schedule with no one showing up and no work for my husband to get to. On the other hand, there’s nothing like someone showing up your door soon to get you moving and motivated! I set aside my disappointment, worked through my down emotions, and we ended up having a really nice day.

Grief doesn’t go away. And you learn lessons from it. I am still learning but I think most days I do pretty well at just working through it and finding what works for me. (If I didn’t I would never get out of bed in the morning!) One of my struggles is my faith. I am working through it and have come spades and bounds, but there are still days I purposely avoid church. They are Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Even now that we have our little miracle (that I know we have God to thank for!) it still is hard to show up and put on a happy face and pretend I’m not hurting on days that are so focused on the little ones. I’m not saying I am dealing with it exactly as I should, but maybe I am. I have found what works for me. I turned on Pandora radio and turned to our favorite Praise and Worship station, which is so nice in the background, and after fifteen minutes the same song had come on three different times in different versions, but the same song. The last time was the version I was familiar with and why that made me change the channel in tears takes a story.

When I was in labor with my firstborn at twenty-two weeks and trying to stop it a pastor/friend from our church came to visit and brought me a beautiful worship CD by the group, Passion, with the song, Here I Am to Worship. It’s a beautiful song with an amazing message, but it was playing in the background when my son was born, and then again an hour later when he died. It will always be a song I associate with him, and that’s not always a bad thing, but that morning it was. So I changed the channel and after a few minutes came a song that made me take a deep breath and stop what I was doing to see what it was.

One Step at a Time, by Bernward Koch on Pandora, my Relaxation radio station

One Step at a Time, by Bernward Koch on Pandora, my Relaxation radio station

It was so beautiful and just spoke to me somehow and the breath caught in my throat again when I saw the name of the song and the album. Several more popped up through the day and now I want to download the whole album so I can listen to it whenever. It’s instrumental and very soothing, and I am a person really motivated by music. It speaks to me and inspires me – and is one of the places I find joy – but more on that later.

So I turned on my music, started on my dinner, eventually made myself get dressed and put makeup on, and spent time with my family. Our little boy, Henry, is such a joy and made me laugh many times that day. That brings me to the food.

My husband loves ham, and that was my first idea, but then we got to talking about his paternal grandmother who passed away two years ago last month. She was Italian and her husband Greek, and she melded the two together seamlessly and every big feast at Grandma’s house was big on traditional fare, but she loved Easter. Our family is a big melting pot, including along with the Greek and Italian, there is Polish on that side, and mostly German on my side with a little French and Irish mixed in. Quite a combo and we are tried and true American made with Greek, Italian, Polish, and German etc. parts, but I love teaching our son about his heritage and I LOVE family traditions. So we started a new one this year and wanted to honor Grandma Jean on one of her favorite holidays and share it with the little boy she loved so much. Here is Grandma, meeting Henry the first time – one of my favorite pictures of the two of them.

Henry, barely three months old, with his Great-Grandma Jean Pselos on October 30, 2011

Henry, barely three months old, with his Great-Grandma Jean Pselos on October 30, 2011

Grandma Jean was a sweet, fun lady who had quite a personality and we didn’t always get along, but we loved each other fiercely. She was never Mrs. Pselos, or Jean; from the moment I met her, even though me and her grandson were only dating, she was Grandma. And even later, I was never her grandson’s wife, but her granddaughter. She could be a little secretive when it came to her cooking, but I learned a lot from her. She would give advice – just not share recipes! – but she loved company in the kitchen so I learned to watch and help where she let me.

It was really hard on me when she died, and that was part of my tears on Sunday, just thinking about her and the memories. I must admit, I’m tearing up even now as I write! I know she was looking down at us and smiling as we tried to honor her that day and recreate recipes she had perfected over her lifetime and guarded so closely! We worked from memory plus a recipe book she gave us years ago, did some tweaking to make it compliant with me and Henry’s diets, and here was our menu. Completely gluten-free, paleo, and (almost) autoimmune protocol-friendly.

Antipasto
Italian Wedding Soup
Roasted Lamb
Pasta and Homemade Sauce
Salad

For dessert, Grandma made these Italian shortbread cookies covered in powdered sugar, but she made those more for Christmas. Other big family dinners she made cake or would buy these amazing pies from a local market. I ended up making a carrot cake and some almond butter chocolate-covered eggs.

The only thing missing is the potatoes. The Greek part of the meal came from the lamb and potatoes. I thought about it, but that was already going to be a lot of food for three people so we left them out this year. Then when it came time for dinner we had filled up on appetizers, so I nixed the salad too, but notice how it’s at the end of the meal? That’s an Italian thing and one of the lessons from Grandma – flashback to one of my first meals with her and I asked where the salad was at the beginning of the meal!

Our appetizers were super simple and not really planned to be honest. I had thought of a few things in case people came over and we were waiting for my husband to get home from work. Then my son finally fell asleep for his afternoon nap right about the time I was about to put finishing touches on dinner so we paused, pulled out some goodies and relaxed. There was a chicken liver pate I had made a few days before with some grain-free crackers (purchased from the bakery the Chirps came from), olives, fresh vegetables, and cheese.

A simple but delicious spread of homemade pate and crackers, cheese, olives, and veggies.  With red wine.  I couldn’t have the tomatoes and I admit I cheated on the cheese and wine, but it was a holiday!

A simple but delicious spread of homemade pate and crackers, cheese, olives, and veggies. With red wine. I couldn’t have the tomatoes and I admit I cheated on the cheese and wine, but it was a holiday!

One thing I have learned from eating real food is preparation is key. You can’t just open a bunch of cans, boxes, and packages the day of and throw together dinner. It takes planning and a lot of prep but is so worth it! For a big dinner like this I shop as soon as I can and start cooking absolutely everything I can ahead of time. And I make lists. Here I am trying to get organized about five days before Easter, which is actually a little last-minute for me, finalizing my shopping and to-do lists; this was posted to my Instagram.

We are also on a budget. Planning things out allows me to stretch out the expense. If I have a basic idea of what I want to do I can start planning weeks in advance, making sure I am stocked up on pantry staples, or picking something up ahead of time because it’s on sale and then freezing it, or such. It takes a little work, but it’s not hard and well worth it. I spent a lot on groceries for this meal, but we ate leftovers the entire next week. We happen to like leftovers and we like playing with them and making things different. (Like sandwiches, salads, fried rice – made with cauliflower – and the lamb and veggies on top of sweet potatoes for example.)

Dinner turned out amazing, though we still want to tweak the recipes of Grandma’s we tried to recreate. The others I got on-line. I used recipes I found for the pasta and sauce, cake, and candy. As I mentioned earlier everything was (almost) autoimmune protocol-friendly and I was referring to the pasta and almond butter eggs; the pasta was made with almond flour and the eggs with almond butter and chocolate. Those three things are cheats for me but I do ok with them in small amounts as long as I don’t overdue it and it was worth it. It had been so long since I had had pasta, I was beyond excited!

I found the recipe for it on Pinterest, and I was a little intimidated at first, but it was very easy. It is by Paleo Cupboard and you can find it here: http://www.paleocupboard.com/paleo-pasta.html. The sauce is a nightshade-free sauce I have made before and love; it works great in anything calling for tomato sauce, including pasta or pizza. My husband doesn’t like beets, but he likes this sauce, if that’s an indication how good it is, although he had his own sauce. We had one jar of homemade, canned tomato sauce given to us by one of our clients from her garden last year, so he used that (I love it when he gets homemade tips like that!). The No-Mato Sauce comes from The Curious Coconut and can be found at: http://thecuriouscoconut.com/blog/the-best-no-mato-sauce-autoimmune-paleo-marinara. A note about the No-Mato Sauce; I have made it many times and I often have a batch in my freezer, but didn’t this time so I made it fresh. It freezes beautifully and I usually portion it out into two-cup portions (perfect for a pizza), but for a big dish of pasta for the family I might thaw two.

Here is our finished dinner:

The soup and antipasto in Grandma’s soup tureen and china dishes.  Grandma always served soup in this tureen.  Always.  It means a lot to have it.

The soup and antipasto in Grandma’s soup tureen and china dishes. Grandma always served soup in this tureen. Always. It means a lot to have it.

The finished dinner:  roasted lamb, grain-free pasta with nightshade-free sauce, antipasto salad, and Italian Wedding Soup.  All paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.  And oh, so good!

The finished dinner: roasted lamb, grain-free pasta with nightshade-free sauce, antipasto salad, and Italian Wedding Soup. All paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free. And oh, so good!

I’d been feeling very deprived of lately and still dealing with some eczema, but my body is still healing. I do cheat on things like almond flour and chocolate and red wine on occasion because I am so diligent all the time and I think occasional treats are ok as long as your body can handle them. As I stated already I can eat them; just not all the time or too much. And that bottle of wine is still sitting on my counter a couple of weeks later as I have yet to finish it, and I enjoy and savor each glass because it probably won’t be until the next holiday I open another one! Life is too short to constantly deprive yourself if you ask me. Like dessert!

I love cake and actually haven’t made one since going grain-free. I’ve made cupcakes but not a whole cake. And I had been craving cake. My birthday was last month and I had a couple of recipes I wanted to make and considered ordering one from the bakery I mentioned earlier but didn’t do either and regretted it, so when Easter came around it didn’t take long to decide what I wanted. Carrot cake! It is one of my favorites and so springy! I found this recipe from Health Nut Nation which happened to already be nightshade-free, although most recipes aren’t hard to make that way. She had several frosting options but I ended up using the Best Ever Paleo Frosting by Real Food RN because it has become the only frosting we use; it really is the best ever and is so good and very easy. I used it because I knew it was good and easy and turns out every time. You can find the cake recipe here: http://www.healthnutnation.com/2013/03/27/paleo-carrot-cake/ and the frosting here: http://realfoodrn.com/best-paleo-frosting-ever/.

I made the Copy Cat Reese’s “Peanut Butter” Eggs last year and they were a hit. Hubby isn’t crazy about carrot cake, but loves chocolate and peanut butter so I made these. Last year we had a big family gathering and no one could believe they were dairy- and refined sugar-free. They come from My Whole Food Life and you can find the recipe here: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/03/09/copycat-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/. I tweaked it this year by using half almond butter and half homemade coconut butter. Oh my, so good; I may do them that way from now on. I was trying to lessen the almond impact and it made the inside a little fluffier too. They still really tasted like almond butter. I could slightly taste the coconut, but was never sure if it was simply because I was looking for it. They are very simple and quick and this year it was a joy to have Henry help. He made funny ropes and wanted me to make a bunny and a snowman. Such fun.

Henry helping with the chocolate eggs; he ate many while we worked, but that’s part of the fun!  These only have a handful of ingredients and are completely junk-free.  The eggs are super easy.  Make a ball, flatten it with your hand, and then pinch one end to a point.

Henry helping with the chocolate eggs; he ate many while we worked, but that’s part of the fun! These only have a handful of ingredients and are completely junk-free. The eggs are super easy. Make a ball, flatten it with your hand, and then pinch one end to a point.

The finished dessert ~ Paleo Carrot Cake and the almond butter eggs.  So, so good!  I didn’t make the frosting until right before dessert, but typically I like to put the frosting in the refrigerator for about ten or fifteen minutes before I frost.  This frosting pipes great once it’s firmed up a bit.  I did just round dollops on the cake and I like how it turned out.  I may have to make another this week; just thinking about it my mouth is watering!

The finished dessert ~ Paleo Carrot Cake and the almond butter eggs. So, so good! I didn’t make the frosting until right before dessert, but typically I like to put the frosting in the refrigerator for about ten or fifteen minutes before I frost. This frosting pipes great once it’s firmed up a bit. I did just round dollops on the cake and I like how it turned out. I may have to make another this week; just thinking about it my mouth is watering!

That brings me to my next point ~ finding joy in the little things. That can be really hard when you are hurting, either physically or emotionally. I don’t always do well at this, but I have learned you have to search for it at times and it’s usually never hard to find. Take for instance the music I mentioned earlier or treating myself to pasta, which I love and haven’t eaten in over a year. There was something else I wanted to share as well. In the middle of feeling sorry for myself that morning I sat down for a break to get lost on my phone and opened Instagram, seeing this.

This Instagram account comes from a woman named Nathalie Hillelrich. I know I did not find her by accident. I don’t spend very much time on Twitter. I follow quite a few people, but it’s not often I actually browse my timeline. I did that day, several weeks ago, and an account about infant loss I follow shared a picture and for some reason I clicked on it. What popped up was the picture of a woman and this tiny baby in a NICU that just took my breath away. I ended up following the link to her website which led me to her Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Find her website at http://www.nathaliehimmelrich.com. You can also find her at http://www.grievingparents.net. She has written a book titled, Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple. I’ve ordered it but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. She is inspiring and shares beautiful things, a grieving mama like myself who is moving on after the death of one of her twin daughters. I sent her an e-mail the day I found her and received the loveliest note back. I stumbled across her on a day I was really struggling and felt such a connection to this woman who lives literally half a world away. I sent her another note, asking if I could share this post of hers, to which she graciously agreed; check her out. She’s amazing.

So I submitted the names of my two angel babies, to which she replied, bringing me to tears. It was such a beautiful gesture and to have someone else acknowledge them meant the world to my husband and I.

My comment and Nathalie’s reply on Instagram.  Was just what my hurting heart needed that day.

My comment and Nathalie’s reply on Instagram. Was just what my hurting heart needed that day.

As hard as it is, and as much I miss them, acknowledging them brings me such joy. We do little things, like hanging their pictures, talking about them to our son, hanging stockings at Christmas, lighting candles, buying little trinkets that make us think of them; we have planted trees in their memory, made donations in their names, I wear jewelry with their birthstones, and so on and so forth. After ordering Nathalie’s book this suggestion came up on Amazon and I immediately ordered it. Reading it the first time made me cry.

Someone Came Before You, by Pat Schwiebart, Illustrated by Taylor Bills and put out by a company called Grief Watch (http://www.griefwatch.com).  A lovely book for a child who has come after a loss.  My advice?  Read it with a box of tissues.

Someone Came Before You, by Pat Schwiebart, Illustrated by Taylor Bills and put out by a company called Grief Watch (http://www.griefwatch.com). A lovely book for a child who has come after a loss. My advice? Read it with a box of tissues.

My note to Henry, honoring his brothers, in the book.

My note to Henry, honoring his brothers, in the book.

My son received this in his Easter basket. Henry is three but knows who his brothers are. He recognized them in pictures the first time very young. It gave me goose bumps. I walked by a picture of the two of them and he wasn’t speaking yet but I knew the look of recognition on his face and he reached for them. Believe what you want, but I believe his little spirit recognized them; like he remembered them from Heaven. Even now he likes to kiss their pictures and the boxes of their ashes and he knows who they are. I always wanted it that way. When someone asks me how many children I have the answer is always three. If someone asks if we have any more children than Henry I politely answer we have two boys who are no longer with us. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out thing. Some people ask more, some don’t, and both are ok. Just for me and my heart, I have to acknowledge them. This was another way for me to do that.

So this Easter I found joy in many things. I found joy in enjoying some wonderful, healthy, yet delicious food that is compliant with a sometimes difficult diet and I enjoyed treating myself to a couple of things. I found joy in honoring a woman whose legacy will always leave a mark on our family. I found joy in starting a new tradition. I found joy in getting all dressed up in a pretty little black and white sundress my mama bought me while here in February; it’s a lot of fun dressing up when you don’t do it that often! I found joy in some beautiful music and a lovely gesture from a new friend that served as a salve for my soul on a difficult day. I found joy in a beautiful little boy that I thank God every day for. Henry is a miracle, no doubt about it, and he himself has such joy and sweetness, and you can’t help but smile when you are with him. I found joy with my husband who my relationship with isn’t perfect but we understand each other, love one another unconditionally, and I know I am extremely lucky to have him in my life. And I found joy in my two angel babies whom I also thank God for. I wish they were with me. I wish I could wrap my arms around them right now and hold them close. I ache for them. Every. Day. But I know I will see them again one day and that brings me some small amount of bittersweet joy.

You have to look for it. You have to work for it. But it’s there. Trust me.

Thank you for listening. I know I really went on and on with this one, but I gave you a rare piece of my heart I don’t often share. I hope it touched one of you, whether it be about the food or the family. I have put myself out there to connect with you, be encouraged by you, and an encouragement for you. Leave me a comment or visit me on social media and let’s connect. Thank you again for sharing my journey.

Blessings to you today,
Emily xo

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My One Year Paleo-versary

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Yesterday marked one year since I started my healing journey with a paleo and autoimmune protocol diet. I didn’t set out to mark it in any way, but for some reason the date has stuck in my head; that was a lucky day for me last year, I guess! I thought I’d just take a minute and share with you a few things I’ve learned about the lifestyle and myself.

I like to call it a lifestyle over a diet. You say “diet” and immediately most people go right to the negative, but for me it is a lifestyle. It involved a major lifestyle change and changed more than the way I eat. It is not a fad or a trend to me; simply the way I live. It is purely a cleaner way of living. For me, I did it for health reasons after a lot of research and soul searching.

Which brings me to my first lesson. It’s not right for everybody and it is not one-size-fits-all. You have to make it work for you. I don’t always worry if something is 100% paleo; my focus is on as long as it’s clean, real, and won’t cause an immune reaction in my body. Then it’s ok in my book. I’m still learning, but I have to laugh when I hear or read, Would a caveman eat this? If you have asked that of yourself I don’t mean to be critical; I just think it’s funny. I eat a very clean, very paleo diet, but thanks for modern technology I eat a lot of foods a caveman never ate and I’m thankful for it! I’m talking about things like coffee, red wine, and chocolate. You’re probably thinking, you eat those things on a paleo and AIP diet? The answer is yes and no, but more on that later.

I had already been gluten-free for six years so I thought it would be no huge stretch. I already had several paleo blogs I followed and got yummy recipes from. I always liked the recipes I found because they had good quality, clean ingredients and being paleo they would always be gluten-free. You may be reading this and wonder what a paleo diet or lifestyle is. To me, as I already mentioned, it’s not unevolving (is that a word?) myself back to a primal cavewoman, but focusing on a clean, green, grain-free, refined sugar-free diet complete with quality dairy and meat.

I was actually a vegetarian until a couple of years ago. For me it was about taste; I never cared for it much and there are still things I don’t like. I also jumped on that low-fat bandwagon and believed that all fat was bad. I ate fish once in a great while along with cheese and eggs, and it worked for me for a time.

My first eye opener was my second pregnancy. I could not stand even the sight or smell of meat. It made me violently ill and I am not exaggerating. I thought I was doing a good job of making sure I was consuming plenty of iron and protein but when I was admitted to the hospital at 19 weeks with a failed cerclage we discovered I was quite anemic. I remember one of my doctors discussing it with me after a couple of weeks. It is very common for pregnant women to be anemic, as it is for vegetarians – not to mention pregnant vegetarians! It is also common to get anemic while on bed rest. Your body just processes everything different. I was getting more anemic as time went on and he wasn’t sure which it was attributed to or if it was a combination of all three.

I was given copious amounts of iron before and immediately after the pregnancy to compensate, which is rough. To give you an idea how much I hated it, I cried when they announced they were putting me on iron again during my third pregnancy. It can really do a number on your system and the side effects are not pleasant; at least that was my case. (I was doing better during pregnancy number three but put on iron because I was also on blood thinners to ward against blood clots given I was on very strict and complete bed rest.)

It’s now a joke between me and my husband how my vegetarianism ended. We suspected I was pregnant with baby number three and it was Valentine’s Day. We went out to eat and my husband ordered a steak salad as his first course. It came and looked divine! I turned to him and said, “Can I ask you a weird question?” He agreed and I replied by pointing to his salad and asking, “Can I have some of that?” He lovingly shared it with me, all the while chuckling and shaking his head and observing I must certainly be pregnant if I wanted steak!

I began craving meat so I gave it to my body because I knew it needed it. Your dietary needs grow exponentially when you are growing a human. I had done a lot of research the year before after my first big anemia wake up and was pretty confident. I had even done some extensive reading about pregnancy and vegetarianism, but as I said it was what my body wanted. People would ask if I was craving anything strange to which we had to answer yes. When they asked what everyone who didn’t know me thought it was rather weird we classified meat as strange, but it was for me!

I am getting off track, but after Henry was born I continued eating meat as you need even more iron and protein (along with some vitamins with their most concentrated sources in meat) when you are breastfeeding than when you are pregnant. Then I began researching several healing diets out there and doing a lot of reading and discovered it may be what is best for me. I have a love/hate relationship with meat and I still don’t think I would miss it all that much if you were tell me tomorrow I could never eat it again, but I have discovered for me it is what my body needs and I’m ok with that.

Like I said, it is right for me. I do not judge anyone for being vegan or vegetarian and please do not judge me for my decision either. Some people can get downright ugly when this subject comes up, so I’m just putting that out there.

I think my last two pregnancies may have been a huge autoimmune trigger for me. It was a very stressful time (pregnancy number two was after a previous loss and then after several weeks of complications resulted in another loss). With pregnancy number two I was still vegetarian and focused on eating lots of beans and legumes and grains, which can wreak absolute havoc on a compromised digestive tract. Not to mention lots of medication that did a number on me followed by the emotional roller coaster of the next pregnancy, more medication, more stress, and the fact that our bodies are not meant to be completely still. I basically started having allergic reactions to everything. I had dealt with terrible morning sickness from the beginning, but I was getting even sicker and we had no idea why. I was in a lot of pain, contracting almost daily along with back and joint pain from being so immobile. And the list goes on.

It was worth every moment and more. After eight years of heartache and disappointment we got our miracle, but I think a lot of the medications I was given did a number on my digestive tract and coupled with the stress along with all the normal hormone changes and such that go with any pregnancy it was just too much.

I dealt with severe post-partum depression after he was born and I am still learning about the connections between depression and autoimmunity. It’s fascinating but I’ll talk about it another time. It may have been related or simply been exacerbated by it. The insomnia I had dealt with on and off most of my life came back with a vengeance (and there’s little that’s harder for a new mom than not being able to sleep at all when you are already sleep-deprived!). The joint and back pain didn’t really go away and I had what I thought was the start of carpal tunnel; I would get terrible numbness and pain in my fingers and up my arms. Digestive problems were the norm and not the exception again and a small gluten exposure would make me sick for weeks and not days. I had problems with hives in the hospital and I had dealt with a small amount of eczema most of my life but it was suddenly out of control. I looked like I had an infectious disease and I was BEYOND miserable. It was like an itchy sunburn head to toe; it would itch so bad I would wake in the morning to find blood on the sheets because I had been scratching so much IN MY SLEEP! My husband can also tell you several stories about watching me moan in pain and misery on the floor in tears because it hurt and itched so bad.

I was desperate for relief and I have talked about all this before so I’ll move on, but whether the pregnancy was a catalyst for it or not I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. I just thought I would share that in case because from what I have learned it very likely had a lot to do with that and maybe by sharing that part of my story someone will see something of themselves in it. I was diagnosed with celiacs after the death of my first-born, which was another trigger. Any big life situation, even the good ones, but especially anything very emotional, physical, or stressful can be a big trigger. Learn how to look for those; if you learn to deal with them and with the knowledge that can make symptoms of autoimmunity worse you can use that information. That is why I shared.

So back to last year. I started my paleo journey jumping head-first into the autoimmune protocol. A paleo diet or lifestyle eliminates all grains, beans, and legumes which as I already mentioned can be very hard on anybody (there is actual science why beans give you gas – you’re having trouble digesting them – there are ways to properly prepare them to help with that, but for people like me it’s just best to avoid them). The autoimmune protocol takes it a step further and eliminates nuts, seeds, dairy, nightshades, alcohol, and a few other things. It starts with an extremely strict elimination phase that I will admit is brutal but necessary. You remove any possible offenders from your diet, give your body a little time to heal and adjust, and then slowly began to add them back in. It was a huge learning experience that was very hard but I am extremely grateful for the knowledge I gleaned from it.

Which brings me to my next lesson learned: don’t sweat the small stuff. My husband can also tell you stories of me throwing the adult version of a tantrum. More than once I am ashamed to admit. As I said, it can be brutal. I was hungry. All. The. Time. I felt like I had a huge list of stuff I couldn’t eat and an extremely small list of what I could. I was still feeling miserable and very hungry on top of it. Many of the foods recommended were too expensive on our budget or I couldn’t find them and all my usual stand-by’s were off-limits. I have since found and learned to be thankful for the actual huge list of yummy, nutritious foods I can eat and which ones work best and keep me full and happy. For me I now need the extra protein I get from the meat I eat and good quality fats like coconut oil or avocados. If you have skin issues, try these; I noticed a huge difference.

How did I learn to deal with it? Well, I’ll be honest. I’m still working on it, but I am learning. I mentioned the coffee, chocolate, and red wine earlier? Well, I have learned what my body can handle and when and how. For the most part. The red wine? Well, when I say I drink red wine it’s MAYBE only once every few months. It is a huge treat. The coffee and chocolate I have mixed reactions to. Overall on any day they won’t bother me, but if I have had a gluten or nightshade exposure or a lot of stress has caused the eczema to flare or something like that, I will have a reaction to it. I keep those three things in my diet as treats because I have eliminated so much I am done depriving myself constantly and so I have learned WHAT WORKS FOR ME and when it’s ok for me to “cheat.”

Nightshades and grains are still a big no and my body still has a lot of healing to do. I am still having some ongoing issues and can trace them to several possible reasons, but I think it comes down to the fact I am still healing. The damage in my body didn’t happen overnight so it’s not going to heal overnight. Eggs and dairy are iffy. Oddly enough I can handle eggs ok if they are baked into something but not a cooked egg, like in an omelet or something. I thought I was crazy until I’ve since talked to a couple of other people who have experienced the same thing. It comes down to science; baking it plus the added ingredients changes its chemical makeup and it’s digested differently. Hopefully I’ll be able to handle them alone eventually; I miss eggs! Nuts and dairy are also special treats. Too much of either and I’m not a happy camper. After the holidays everyone was going on about too much sugar – my indulgence was nuts and dairy – and my body was not happy at me for it.

When I talked about making it work for you that is what I meant. Any of those “iffy” things for me you may see me eat and wonder why, but it’s because I know my body. Do I ever regret those “iffy” choices? Yes, I do. Not always but it happens. I make a mental note for the next time, go a little stricter AIP to get over it, and move on.

A surprise I have experienced is I eat some amazing food. And by that I mean I was eating the same (sometimes drab) things most of the time and these changes in my diet have forced me to think outside the box, get creative, and try new things. I started posting my meals and snacks to Instagram a while back because people were always asking me, “What do you eat?!” Check me out and you’ll see we eat some really yummy but healthy food! You can find me at http://www.instagram.com/preciousbelovedblessing. Some people are really surprised to learn we eat pretty much whatever we want – we just make the changes we need to so the whole family can enjoy them or clean them up so to speak.

We are on a budget as many are and have found a way to make this work for us as well, and are still learning. To follow strict paleo rules all meat must be organic and grass-fed and all produce organic and in-season. Well, organic grass-fed meat is often over twice that of the conventional. I read you should find a local farmer to get it from. I did – I found more than one – and they are outrageously expensive. I mean, like $30 for a small fryer chicken. I am still on the search for a more budget-friendly local source, but we’ve made it work. I have found a couple of small grocers that carry local eggs for a reasonable price; if I can’t find those I have found a non-local free range brand we can afford. I do sometimes buy grass-fed meat – when it goes on sale. One of my local grocery stores puts it on sale for the price of what the conventional beef is priced regularly and I can handle that, so I stock up if the week’s budget allows it. Otherwise, I have found a couple of places with good brands that my tummy handles (if you have trouble digesting grains a meat from an animal fed a heavy grain diet may not go down well). I always go for sustainably farmed, humanely raised and prepared, and no antibiotics. Yes, those cost a bit more, but a happily raised and slaughtered animal makes for better meat. Those are often also prepared without a lot of the extra junk, which I can’t eat (often containing gluten and/or nightshades). There are certain things I have made the decision to spend more money on and other things I haven’t. For instance, I always buy wild, sustainably caught fish; it’s healthier for me and my family as well as the environment. It costs more, yes, but to me it’s worth it. (Do you know what all they put in farmed salmon?! Look it up; you’ll never touch it again.) As far as produce goes there are lists called the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” which outline which produce you absolutely should buy organic and those that are ok. Those have really helped me.

In season is easy for us. We live in Southern California where our local produce contains everything from apples and grapes to avocados and almost every kind of citrus. A great reason to eat local and seasonal? It’s cheaper! Much cheaper! Find a farmer’s market or local farm stand for the best deals. Not sure what is local and when? Ask! They’ll tell you! Of course at those places it’s usually easy to see – what they have is seasonal – but my favorite local farm stand actually has a calendar posted that tells you what and when. We always try to preserve what we can by freezing or drying and I do that for budget mostly and just so we can enjoy what we love more! Do I still buy bags of frozen veggies? You better believe I do! It’s reasonably priced and I stock up on my favorite brands when they go on sale, plus someone has done all the work for me!

I meant to talk more about budget last year after I started my blog but got distracted. I’ve really gone on here so I’ll talk about it another time. There’s more I could get into; I just wanted to share what I have learned and am still learning. Never hesitate to ask me questions or give me suggestions – that’s why I’m writing about this! So we can help each other.

I have lots to share with you, but haven’t taken much time to do it with various things going on. I have some yummy recipes to share but am also working on another post that has been in the making since I started my blog. It’s not easy to write, it won’t be easy for everyone to read, but it’s been very cathartic and I know there are those it will touch. I am trying to be more consistent with the blogging but if you want to keep in touch with me you can follow me on Instagram as I mentioned, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Flickr. My profiles are all @preciousbelovedblessing, except for Twitter which is @PrecBelovBless.

Thank you for continuing on this journey with me. Leave me a comment if you want about your own experiences like these or something you’d like to hear me talk more about. Have a great day and be blessed.

Lots of Hugs,
Emily

Bone Broth Butternut Soup {Paleo, AIP, Dairy-Free}

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Still looking for one more dish for Thanksgiving? How about a lovely, comforting bowl of butternut squash soup that you can make today, have a bit for supper tonight, and then put in your slow cooker to keep warm for dinner tomorrow without a thing to do with it. Actual time I spent on this yesterday was only about twenty to thirty minutes.

I just realized something. I declared this AIP and dairy-free – and then used the picture of hubby’s bowl with the cheese on top! It was so much prettier than my plain one though! It is a raw, grass-fed cheddar which is primal. For me, I can handle small amounts of the right kind of dairy and I tasted this with the cheese and it was very good, but I liked it without just as well. It’s so creamy you would think it had dairy in it but there is none at all.

I started this yesterday morning, putting the squash in the slow cooker to slowly roast. I quartered it, removed the seeds, and placed it in the slow cooker; that was it. Then when we were ready to eat I sautéed my veggies and scooped the flesh from the skin. The skin of a butternut squash is edible and I think bits of it fell in as I was scooping because it got so tender, so it’s up to you. I take it off, but leave the skins of the apples on. No one will ever know and you get the extra vitamins the skin contains.

A quick note about bone broth. If you’re not making your own you need to start! It is so easy and delicious, not to mention economical. I buy an entire chicken and boil it and we get several meals out of the meat from the bones and at least two and sometimes three quarts of broth, depending how big the chicken is. Homemade bone broth is full of gut-healing gelatin and my family and I like it plain and hot, straight out of a coffee mug, but I always keep some in the freezer for meals like this. I pulled the jar out of the freezer the night before but I’ve also thawed them on the fly in a bowl of warm water. I used chicken (because it was what I had) but I used to make this with vegetable broth all the time; beef broth would also work. It’s a matter of taste.

Store-bought versions do not have the nutritional benefits of homemade and in addition they are often packed with sodium, gluten, and preservatives, among other things. It’s so easy to do too! Want to know more about this super food? Check out a previous post I did about it here: https://preciousbelovedblessing.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/homemade-bone-broth-from-a-whole-chicken-plus-a-yummy-soup-recipe-2/

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There’s another soup recipe in this post too; chicken and cabbage. It was a recipe of my mom’s I tried to recreate and though mine was very yummy it wasn’t as good as hers. I made it with her, basically acting as her sous chef, and did it just as she did, but I think that had more to do though with the fact it was my mama who made it. Everything she makes is always better! She taught me to cook and I am still learning from her! She lives in Nebraska and me in California, so I miss her – especially this week with it being a holiday! – but now I’m thinking about her and getting all sentimental so I should move on!

If you’ve read any of my other posts the last couple of weeks we are moving – in four days! It’s going to be a little crazy around here, so as yummy as this was last night I may freeze the leftovers to thaw in a week or so when we need something yummy and comforting after a busy day. I’ve got another batch of bone broth simmering in my slow cooker right this moment too! I’ll use it in a recipe of a grain-free stuffing dish I am making to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house and then maybe another dish or just a jar in the fridge for a quick, nutritional boost! (As excited as we are, moving can be a little stressful and you need to take care of yourself.)

One more note; butternut squash are at their peak now and one of my favorite vegetables. A former favorite recipe I have yet to convert is a butternut squash risotto recipe that is out of this world – I’m going to have to start working on that! You can peel and cube them now for freezing and enjoy this next spring and I’ve also found butternut squash all prepared in the frozen vegetable section. So while I recommend using fresh (it will have the best taste, trust me) it’s not necessary. I added lots of onion, garlic, and ginger too; since I learned all three were very healing with anti-inflammatory properties I add them prolifically to almost every savory dish I make now! This soup is also full of vitamins and with the extra veggies and the bit of fruit for sweetness I hope this will become one of your family’s favorites as it is ours!

Bone Broth Butternut Soup {Paleo, AIP, Dairy-Free}
1 small to medium butternut squash (about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
1 quart broth (whatever you have on hand, preferably homemade)
Sea salt to taste
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

Instructions:

Prepare ahead. Earlier in the day, rinse your squash and remove both ends with a large, sharp knife. I like to halve it width-wise (I find it easier that way) then lengthwise. Remove any seeds and place in a slow cooker on low heat. Let cook for at least four hours or until tender. Remove from slow cooker and let cool enough to handle. Scoop tender flesh from skin with a spoon and set aside.

When ready to make your soup take a large pot and place over medium- to medium-heat and add your coconut oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic and let it begin to cook. After a couple of minutes add the ginger, carrots, and apple. Sauté a few minutes, or until veggies begin to get tender. (Note: you don’t have to chop your veggies very fine as you will be blending this later; a rough chop will do.)

When tender add the broth and bring to a boil. Add cooked butternut squash.

Remove from heat and either purée with an immersion blender or add to a blender or food processor in batches and blend. (Be careful with the blender method when blending hot liquids; leave the top slightly vented and place a towel over the vent to prevent splatters.)

If puréeing in a blender return to pan and reheat slightly if necessary and season to taste. If desired, top with a little shredded cheese. Crumbled bacon or caramelized onions are also very good.

Serve and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! I am thankful for you! Have a blessed, happy, and healthy holiday.

Hugs to you,

Emily

Double Chocolate Mug Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, with AIP-Variation)

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Need a break from all things pumpkin? Or busy preparing for the holiday and need a little something for yourself? Don’t need a reason? Come on! It’s chocolate times two. Who needs an excuse?! If you need another, this recipe is also paleo-friendly, grain-free, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, plus it’s so good the first thing both my husband and I said to each other on trying it was, “Mmm!” It can also be made autoimmune-protocol compliant – and believe or not, my husband and I liked it better that way!

I personally wasn’t looking for a break from pumpkin; I love it and make pumpkin-flavored goodies all year long. And we are moving a week from yesterday so another family member graciously invited us to join them for Thanksgiving, so I’m not cooking all week. I simply wanted something chocolate the other night. I love mug recipes. I don’t use my microwave very often but when you really want a piece of cake or a muffin and don’t want to spend all that time in the kitchen or wait all that time it’s awesome.

I’ve tried a few mug cake recipes and haven’t been overly impressed. The last one I tried was so dry I literally almost choked on it. I smothered it in yogurt to finish it. (Come on, it was chocolate! I wasn’t going to throw it out.) Also, almost all of them I’ve seen contain almond flour, which is fine for some, but I limit the amount of nuts I eat due to the fact I don’t handle them well. They are a treat for me, and so is this frankly, but I don’t always have almond flour on hand, plus to be honest I’m not crazy about the texture it gives baked goods.

A couple more notes about these. I like adding the wet ingredients first otherwise the dry ingredients tend to clump up badly when you dump the liquid on top. It also helps if you mix as you go. Finally, you can substitute a flax egg and use carob powder over the cocoa powder and it will be completely AIP-friendly. Both ways are very yummy but the flax egg version turns out almost fudgy. It is beyond good!

So I decided to create my own and combined several recipes, add a little of my own twist to it, and here you go! I didn’t tell my husband what I was doing the first time I made these and he came wandering out of our home office, sniffing, while the first one was cooking and I was mixing up the second. We joked having chocolate cake that was this good and that fast was either a really good thing or really bad. Yes, we can now have warm chocolate cake in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, we can have warm chocolate cake in a matter of minutes anytime! This is still a treat; a guilt-free one but a treat nonetheless.

I hope you enjoy it. I had to resist the urge to lick the mug.

Double Chocolate Mug Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free with AIP-Variation)
Serves 1
1 egg or 1 flax egg (mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed to 3 Tablespoons water and let sit a few minutes to gel)
2-1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil, liquefied
2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons coconut milk
3 Tablespoons coconut flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa OR carob powder
1 Tablespoon chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life brand; they are dairy, soy, and gluten free. If you are full AIP and do not handle chocolate well there are carob chips out there; try those or just leave them out – it’s still good!)

1. These puff up beautifully so use a good-sized coffee mug. Mix your wet ingredients together – in the cup (one dish is all that’s needed, which is part of the beauty of these) then add the coconut flour and cocoa powder, mixing well to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Place in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Let sit a couple of minutes to cool slightly and then enjoy while still warm. (When I make these for my husband I do his first – being the good wife that I am – and then make mine. While they cool I get him a glass of milk and make me a cup of tea, and they’re perfect; his cools while mine cooks and mine as my tea steeps.)

These would make a great Thanksgiving dessert if it’s just a couple of you and you don’t want to make an entire dessert. Hmm…that got me thinking. Maybe I should make a pumpkin one next!

Happy Tuesday!

Emily

AIP Guacamole

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This was not a planned post. I often develop a recipe over a few weeks, making it over and over to get it just right for you guys. Other times the magic simply happens.

I really wanted guacamole the other day! I have found replacements for many old favorites since starting to follow a modified autoimmune protocol diet, but I still miss things sometimes. Like Mexican food! The grains (aka corn tortillas and rice), beans, and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, and cumin) just wreak havoc with my skin and digestive system and simply aren’t worth it. I love avocados and I love guacamole, so on Sunday when we were out and about and it sounded good we stopped and picked up some ingredients and whipped this up spur of the moment that night. It was so good I had to share!

We are moving in technically just over a week. I say technically because we got two weeks free at our new place so we are using that time to overlap the two and have all that free time to move, so technically we are moving into the new place on December 1 and out of the old on December 15. And we signed the new lease and gave notice to vacate here only a week ago. Crazy, I know. Moving right before Christmas is not something I recommend nor plan on making a holiday tradition (we moved on January 9 of this year into our current place)!

Why we are moving is a long story I considered sharing here then decided not to, but suffice it to say my stock response is security issues. We don’t feel safe here. There have been some creepy things going on that we are just not happy with and don’t feel secure or welcome here after how our property company has dealt with them and treated us so we have decided to move on. It sounds awful but we are very excited about it. It is all for the best!

I will definitely be making this again in the next couple of weeks! I have been planning some quick and easy but wholesome meals for our moving weeks. We drove through our new neighborhood (even though it is only exactly 2.1 miles away from our current place!) and staked out the closest grocery store, Starbucks, etc. and I checked out the local Albertson’s that is literally just around the corner. We have one close by now but I’m not crazy about it and rarely shop there; I simply need to make another trip for too much stuff so it’s not worth it for me. This one has a great organic produce section and several gluten-free favorites. I wasn’t able to really take the time to look for all my usuals, but I brought home some free-range, GMO-free verified chicken, an organic vegetable tray, and my favorite root vegetable chips (by Terra brand with sweet potato, beet, taro, and a few other paleo-friendly goodies). We spent the rest of the afternoon packing and just had a simple but very yummy supper. I put the chicken in the oven seasoned with sea salt, ginger, and garlic and made the guacamole while it was cooking.

This guacamole is AIP-friendly because it contains no nightshades. Instead of the usual jalapenos I used some horseradish for extra bite and a lot of onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro. The batch will easily double, triple, etc. and I bought a ton of avocados to make a bunch but I only fix it in smaller batches. It’s easy and doesn’t take long; nor does it last long enough to have a chance to get brown and watery.

I like to serve this a variety of ways; as already mentioned I ate it with sweet potato chips this time. I love it with plantain chips as well, but have been known to put guacamole on just about anything. Try it with eggs, on chicken or a hamburger (I was smearing it on the roasted chicken the other night!), on a roasted sweet potato, or any favorite grain-free cracker or bread. Jicama, carrots, and cucumber make good dippers too. And bacon; smear it on bacon. Think it sounds weird? Try it. You’ll thank me. The grain-free possibilities are endless – it’s not just for corn chips! What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Enjoy!


AIP Guacamole

Makes about 2 cups
2 ripe avocados
¼ large or ½ small onion
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of ½ a fresh lemon or lime (I like the taste of lime in guac but lemon works fine; I used it this time around because it was what I had on hand)
1 teaspoon horseradish (I use the Bubbie’s brand; it’s gluten-, preservative-, and junk-free)
A good-sized handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Sea salt to taste (I used a good-sized pinch)

1. Using a fork, mash the avocado in a bowl with the lemon/lime juice. Finely chop the onion and garlic and mix in.
2. Wash and chop the cilantro and fold in with sea salt to taste.
3. Enjoy right away, or if you can stand it set aside for about an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

So easy! And good for you too! Everything is fresh and full of vitamin C, healthy fats, minerals, potassium, and a host of other goodies. I hope you like my AIP version of guacamole!

Note: To store, (if there’s any leftovers anyway!) place in the fridge with food wrap directly over the guac, completely covered and molded to it basically; it will help prevent browning. This really works!

Have a great week!

Emily

Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy-Free, AIP-Variaton, Refined Sugar-Free)

November 23, 2014 - Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy-Free, AIP Variation, Refined Sugar-Free

I have seen no shortage of pumpkin spice latte recipes the last couple of months, but I have yet to see an AIP-complaint one. What is AIP? If you are new to my page, AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol. It’s a version of the paleo diet that eliminates several items that are damaging to the gut in certain people. I went completely grain free earlier this year, did the super strict elimination diet and have since added various items back in and discovered what I can and cannot have. I have successfully added back into my diet small amounts of nuts, seeds, and eggs, and even a little dairy here or there, but all of those I have to be very careful of. Too much and I am left with an upset tummy and terrible eczema flares.

So, I follow what you could call a modified AIP. One of the things I absolutely cannot tolerate are nightshades. What is a nightshade? It is a term for certain fruits, vegetables and seeds with a certain make up that can cause harmful gut irritation in some individuals, particularly those with autoimmune issues. Some common nightshades include bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and spices like cumin, cayenne, fennel, fenugreek, and spices in a pumpkin spice latte like nutmeg. For me exposure to nightshades – even just a little – makes the eczema flare like crazy and my skin feel like it’s on fire. Not fun.

So, back to the latte. There’s the fact it’s seasoned with nightshade spices, but I only learned about nightshades a couple of months ago. It’s been a few years since I ordered a pumpkin spice latte from that you-know-who coffee chain giant. Why? It was fall and I used to wait all year long for the pumpkin spice latte, but I heard it had gluten in it. I asked in the store and was met with a blank stare. That’s happened more than once and I sure wish they would train their baristas better; they’d get a whole lot more of my business if they did. I did a little research of my own and was shocked.

Number one, there is no pumpkin in it. Not any real pumpkin anyway. That is ARTIFICIAL flavor. And that bright orange color? Well, if the flavor isn’t real where do you think the color comes from? Yeah, it’s not real either. Many of the chains use milk from GMO-grain fed cows. They contain copious amounts of refined sugar, not to mention preservatives. Some of these ingredients are actually banned in other countries! Appetizing, isn’t it? Sorry if I just ruined them for you; I was bummed too but I’m glad I found out. I don’t want any of that junk in my body.

I am not shouting from the rooftops for you to never order one of these again or judging you if you do, but knowledge is power. Now you know and can decide for yourself. I will have a dairy- or refined sugar-containing treat every once in a while but this no-no list is personally a little long for me. And it is SO EASY to make your own – and I can make it dairy- and nightshade-free! Yay, bring on fall and the pumpkin spice lattes again!

One more note about the AIP variation. Try it with dandelion tea. If you are full AIP and cannot tolerate coffee try Roasted Dandelion Root tea. It is so good and has a rich and deep, almost coffee-like flavor. Once you add all the other latte ingredients it’s hard to tell the difference. I personally do not notice much of a difference in my body whether I drink coffee or not so I have left it in my diet. I simply enjoy it and I have had to eliminate so much from my diet I have simply cut back and I limit myself. It’s a treat, and this latte is quite a treat. Believe me. On to the good stuff!

Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy Free with AIP Option, Refined Sugar Free)
Serves 1
1 cup milk (for AIP use coconut milk but any dairy-free milk will do – or even cow’s milk if you tolerate dairy! – almond milk is good too if you can handle nuts, lending a bit of a nutty flavor)
1-1/2 Tablespoons pumpkin purée, fresh or canned
½ Tablespoon maple syrup (I like the hint of maple from the syrup but honey works and coconut sugar is also good)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1-2 shots of espresso OR ½-1 cup strongly-brewed coffee or Dandelion Root tea

1. In a small saucepan combine the milk with your sweetener of choice and the pumpkin and warm over medium heat. Stir in spices.
2. Add the hot espresso, coffee, or tea to your cup (I say 1-2 shots or ½-1 cup because I like to taste the coffee in a latte so I add extra).
3. Optional, steam the milk mixture. If you have an espresso machine use the milk steamer; if not, simply whisk the hot milk mixture to froth it; an immersion blender with the whisk attachment works great or you can put the milk in a jar and vigorously shake it (just use an oven mitt or wrap it in a towel first!) This is just optional but it only takes a second and gives you that nice coffee house froth on top. It’s just fun.
4. If desired, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and then enjoy! Beat that you-know-who giant coffee chain!

This is also good iced. The first couple of times I made it was when it was too hot for a hot latte in the afternoon (I like my coffee black and not sweet at all in the morning). Fall comes late to Southern California, where I am. Simply whisk the milk and spices together and add to chilled coffee or espresso. You can blend it also. It’s super yummy! Enjoy!

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Cheers!

Emily

November 17, 2014 ~ World Prematurity Day

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A year ago today I began my blog! While in the midst of setting up my website and such I learned November 17 is World Prematurity Day. The month of November is also Prematurity Awareness Month, and I remember getting goose bumps. It seemed so fitting! Part of the reason I was starting a blog was to share my story.

I am the mama of three premature babies and it is from them my blog and company gets its name. Christopher, Jr. (Precious One) was born on December 9, 2003 at only 22 weeks. He lived for 63 minutes before passing away in my arms. Joshua James (Blessing) was born on April 28, 2010, also at 22 weeks; he passed away moments before he was born but left an eternal mark on my heart. They both did. Their brother, Henry Lynn (Blessing) was born on August 8, 2011 at 32 weeks. Henry not only survived but thrived and we thank God every day for our miracle baby.

The name comes from their nicknames we gave them in utero before we knew they were boys. We didn’t want to simply call them it or the baby. We still call Henry Blessing. There is so much more to all three of their stories and over the last year I have struggled to write them and they are still coming. It is an odd thing; I have no trouble talking about them. All three of them have very emotional stories that somehow are very difficult to put onto paper. So bear with me. Even Henry’s is not an easy story to tell, though his has a happy ending. Getting there was a long, emotional, and at times painful journey that is not easy to tell and relive.

My blog has made quite a transformation. It has turned into more of a health/food blog of late, which was not my intention, but there have been a lot of health changes in my body that I am making for the better and some things are exciting, others just plain interesting, so I share that. Times like this, though, make me think of the other reason I have decided to share my heart with you – my three beautiful boys.

I am a mother of three. Not one. Christopher and Joshua left permanent marks on my heart and holes in our family only they can fill. As active and loud as Henry, a typical three-year-old boy can be you may be surprised to hear sometimes our house seems too quiet. Because it should be so much more active. It’s hard not to think that way at times. I miss them every day.

March of Dimes does amazing work and is working hard to learn about, raise awareness, and hopefully prevent premature birth and they were asking for stories so I made this to share:

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I love sharing Henry’s success. He is a miracle. No doubt about it. I lost count how many times we feared we might lose him. There were midnight emergency room visits at 19 and 22 weeks, with me contracting, and I was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks, with them sure I was going to deliver – but I made it 8 more weeks of daily contractions and hosts of other issues, amazing and astounding the doctors and nurses. He is a miracle. Despite the odds stacked against him – and me – we made it through it together and he is here and absolutely wonderful. I still sometimes stare at him in amazement that this beautiful little boy is really here and he is mine.

Then I thought something was missing. Not every prematurity story has a happy ending. They weren’t asking for those, and I understand why, but the fact is not every story has a happy ending and as I already stated I am a mother of THREE, not just one. So I created this for my angel babies:

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If you are one of the millions of mamas or daddies grieving today instead of rejoicing in thankfulness then I send hugs to you. I got my happy ending, but I ache every day for the two precious boys I will never see grow up. I spent a few wonderful hours with them trying to squeeze in a lifetime of love. My husband and I had to say hello and goodbye all at once to those two sweet angels and they may be gone but they will never be forgotten. Today is for you too.

Thank you for joining me on my journey. I look forward to continuing to share it with you.

Hugs,

Emily

In Memory of Little Ones Loved and Lost

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October 15 is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I myself have lost two little ones. Christopher, Jr. (the Precious of PreciousBelovedBlessing) was born at 22 weeks on December 9, 2003 and died an hour after his birth in my arms. His brother, Joshua (Beloved) was also born at 22 weeks, on April 28, 2010, and he was stillborn.

I ache for these two sweet boys and I miss them every day. Days like today give me and countless other mamas a voice in something no one ever wants to talk about.

If you are a mommy or daddy and a member of this club you never wanted to join, you are not alone and take a minute for yourself today. Do something to remember those little loves and allow yourself to grieve.

To those little ones loved and lost you are remembered, you are important, and you may be gone but you will never be forgotten.

Hugs to you,
Emily

Homemade Bone Broth From a Whole Chicken, Plus a Yummy Soup Recipe!

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American cooking, tumbling as fast as it is toward a totally takeout cuisine, retains two potent images that can still revivify our appetite for good, homemade food: baked goods, which stand for the gift of pleasure, and meat-based broths, from which all the kitchen’s healing goodness flows…its aroma filled the house, cosseting all who inhaled it with deep well-being, as if the very air were filled with nurture. The chef may have transmogrified his meat waters into gold; the housewife transmuted them into a far more essential nutrient: love. ~ John Thorne Outlaw Cook

Any good cook preparing food for his/her family puts a lot of love into it, and this method and recipe is no exception! This recipe is made with chicken and I never prepare a chicken or turkey without using the bones afterword for broth. It is so good and good for you! Your family will taste the love, believe me, and their tummies will thank you for it!

You can use the bones from pretty much any meat for broth. Fish stock usually contains the whole carcasses, including heads; beef stock typically calls for a mixture of bone marrow and knuckle bones – and even feet! All these different components contribute to the end flavor and add their own particular nutrients. I made some Chinese Pork Spare Ribs a few months ago that simmered in its own liquid for a long time and in the recipe it said to save the resulting broth, and I am glad I did. It was amazing! Having simmered in the pork with coconut aminos, lots of ginger, garlic, and cinnamon it was so good! It would have made a wonderful base for soup but it didn’t last that long! We simply drank it as is!

This broth is made from chicken, and the one I make the most often; I’ll share my method for some other favorites another time. You can do this one a couple of ways, and I have read several and combined a few to make one that works for us and that we like the end result the most. This method uses a whole chicken, cooking the meat in the delicious broth, resulting in super moist and tasty chicken meat that is great for sandwiches, salads, or snacking.

A few notes about broth or stock. The terms are interchangeable and which is used pretty much depends on who you are talking to, so don’t let it throw you; personally, I was confused about it for a while! The ending broth can be used to make gravy, sauces, soup, or any recipe calling for stock or broth; I don’t remember the last time I spent money on it at the store – we always have some in the freezer – but I also always have a jar in the fridge we drink hot in mugs like tea. Which brings me to my next point.

Homemade bone broth, made from the whole carcass, is very nutritious and extremely healing. It’s not an old wives tale that it’s a cure for a cold (but don’t just have it when you’re sick! Consumed regularly, it can ward off illness in the first place!), and can aid in the healing of all sorts of ailments and even injuries. The minerals in the bones, marrow, and even skin and cartilage add electrolytes, something called hydrophilic colloids (which aid in digestion), gelatin which is great for your digestion, protein, amino acids, and when an acid is introduced in cooking – such as apple cider vinegar – it draws out the minerals in the bones (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It truly is a super food! The connective tissue is also so good for healing and even goes so far as to combat damage done to the gut, can ease inflammation, and is a wonderful addition to the healing diet of anyone suffering from digestive issues but is instrumental for someone like me who needs that extra healing boost!

I recently returned from visiting family in Nebraska. It was my first time there since changing my diet and though being grain-free is not always all that difficult, probably the biggest hurdle when someone is preparing food for me are the nightshades. Even a small amount of them makes the eczema flare like crazy and any of the convenience foods I used to rely on while on the go – like lunchmeat – are now off the menu. Before we arrived my mom roasted a chicken for me then boiled the bones and made an amazing broth which she later made soup out of; it was so good I tried to recreate it here. It is very simple and so good neither batch lasted more than a couple of days!

A few notes about gelatin; it is one of the latest super foods I have learned about and wanted to share with you. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, chemical-filled concoction you can make from a box, but real gelatin. You can order it online reasonably priced; I recommend the Great Lakes brand (the red can) and it can be found on Amazon, but its truest form is when it is extracted right from the bones.

Ever notice how cold broth gets all thick and gelled? It’s the gelatin and the goal of every stock-making cook is that perfect broth that gels beautifully. My mom nailed it; the first time I went to warm up some leftover of hers it all popped out of the jar at once and kept its form until the pan heated up! Like chicken jello! (If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a picture of it.)

If your broth is not gelling much there can be a couple of reasons. Start with cold water; the process of the water slowly heating allows the fibers in the bone to open up and release the gelatin. It could also be it wasn’t simmered long enough, or too much; the key word here is simmer. Don’t let it come to a rolling boil; I go into this more later.

I am very focused on healing my body right now, and I find it absolutely amazing there are tools on this earth we can use, like naturally fermented foods for probiotics, honey with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (as long as it’s in its RAW form), and gut-healing, immune system boosting bone broth! Food is medicine!

Need another reason to make your own? Conventional “broth” is loaded with salt, most likely contains gluten, in some cases the meat is the fourth or fifth ingredient, and they can contain things like MSG, artificial colorings, sugars, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of unidentifiable/unpronounceable things. Even gluten-free varieties and organic versions can be suspect and contain questionable labels like “all-natural” or “natural flavors.” That can mean anything BUT natural! Do your research; there are some good brands out there, but they can be hard to find and expensive…so why not make your own!

I simmer mine twice; once the first time, and then I take the meat off the bones and simmer just the bones one more time. Use cold, filtered water, and let it take its time. The little bit of effort on your part will be well worth it, trust me!


Homemade (Chicken) Bone Broth

(1) 3-4 pound chicken (as fresh and natural as you can afford)
Cold, filtered water
1 small or ½ large onion, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
(1) 1-inch piece of ginger (no need to peel)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Any mixture of fresh/dried herbs you like (we like thyme or oregano or Herbs de Provence)
Vegetable scraps – celery leaves, carrot peels, kale stems – you name it (This is optional; it helps impart flavor; I didn’t use it this time because I hadn’t thought to save any.)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken inside and out. (Save the neck; the gizzards are optional.) Pat dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Stuff the onion, garlic, and ginger into the cavity and rub your oil of choice all over the outside then season with sea salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes then place in a pot (if you have a good stock pot that can go in the oven just use this; I can’t do that with mine but it would save some dishes!)
3. There are two options for your next step; I have tried it both ways. You could put it in a stock pot to simmer on the stove or place in a slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker; it doesn’t need to be watched and you don’t have to worry about it boiling too hard, boiling over, etc., but it’s up to you.
4. Place in your pot and pour in cold, filtered water to cover. Place over low heat (or your slow cooker on low) and walk away. I like to do mine in the evening, place it in the slow cooker, and go to bed. You get up in the morning and it’s all done. I remove it from the pot and let it cool. We have chicken for lunch then I completely bone it out and repeat the process, covering the bones with more filtered water (the veggies too) and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour, until any remaining meat has come off the bone.
5. Once you have your broth strain it into a bowl or jars and place in the refrigerator. When it’s chilled you can label it and leave it in the fridge for a quick, nourishing snack, make soup, or use in a recipe. I always leave one jar out and label the others and put in the freezer.

This just takes a little bit of time and whether you let it simmer all night or all day is up to you! It can also be personalized with whatever herbs or spices you or your family likes, and that one little chicken makes a lot of broth! I don’t always make soup, but my mom did and her version was so good I had to recreate it for you. The cabbage in it made it reminiscent of noodles and it was so yummy, so here it is!

Chicken Cabbage Soup
One quart homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic
½ a large onion
4 stalks celery
½ a large or one small cabbage, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1. If you have just made your chicken broth you can just add all your ingredients to the prepared broth, bring to a simmer, and leave for about 15-20 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. If I am using a jar of pre-prepared broth I like to sauté all my veggies in a little coconut oil first – it gives them great flavor!
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
3. The night I made this soup myself I was really craving bread and made these yummy coconut flour muffins that really taste like corn bread but are completely grain-free! The recipe comes from Empowered Sustenance and can be found at http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cornbread-muffins/.

Hugs to you!

Emily

Sources:
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.; copyright 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.; pages 116-124
The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD; copyright 2013, Victory Belt Publishing; page 196

Homemade Bone Broth From a Whole Chicken, Plus a Yummy Soup Recipe!

01d21abc178859a2f8519751ff7e682339a50a1123

American cooking, tumbling as fast as it is toward a totally takeout cuisine, retains two potent images that can still revivify our appetite for good, homemade food: baked goods, which stand for the gift of pleasure, and meat-based broths, from which all the kitchen’s healing goodness flows…its aroma filled the house, cosseting all who inhaled it with deep well-being, as if the very air were filled with nurture. The chef may have transmogrified his meat waters into gold; the housewife transmuted them into a far more essential nutrient: love. ~ John Thorne Outlaw Cook

Any good cook preparing food for his/her family puts a lot of love into it, and this method and recipe is no exception! This recipe is made with chicken and I never prepare a chicken or turkey without using the bones afterword for broth. It is so good and good for you! Your family will taste the love, believe me, and their tummies will thank you for it!

You can use the bones from pretty much any meat for broth. Fish stock usually contains the whole carcasses, including heads; beef stock typically calls for a mixture of bone marrow and knuckle bones – and even feet! All these different components contribute to the end flavor and add their own particular nutrients. I made some Chinese Pork Spare Ribs a few months ago that simmered in its own liquid for a long time and in the recipe it said to save the resulting broth, and I am glad I did. It was amazing! Having simmered in the pork with coconut aminos, lots of ginger, garlic, and cinnamon it was so good! It would have made a wonderful base for soup but it didn’t last that long! We simply drank it as is!

This broth is made from chicken, and the one I make the most often; I’ll share my method for some other favorites another time. You can do this one a couple of ways, and I have read several and combined a few to make one that works for us and that we like the end result the most. This method uses a whole chicken, cooking the meat in the delicious broth, resulting in super moist and tasty chicken meat that is great for sandwiches, salads, or snacking.

A few notes about broth or stock. The terms are interchangeable and which is used pretty much depends on who you are talking to, so don’t let it throw you; personally, I was confused about it for a while! The ending broth can be used to make gravy, sauces, soup, or any recipe calling for stock or broth; I don’t remember the last time I spent money on it at the store – we always have some in the freezer – but I also always have a jar in the fridge we drink hot in mugs like tea. Which brings me to my next point.

Homemade bone broth, made from the whole carcass, is very nutritious and extremely healing. It’s not an old wives tale that it’s a cure for a cold (but don’t just have it when you’re sick! Consumed regularly, it can ward off illness in the first place!), and can aid in the healing of all sorts of ailments and even injuries. The minerals in the bones, marrow, and even skin and cartilage add electrolytes, something called hydrophilic colloids (which aid in digestion), gelatin which is great for your digestion, protein, amino acids, and when an acid is introduced in cooking – such as apple cider vinegar – it draws out the minerals in the bones (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It truly is a super food! The connective tissue is also so good for healing and even goes so far as to combat damage done to the gut, can ease inflammation, and is a wonderful addition to the healing diet of anyone suffering from digestive issues but is instrumental for someone like me who needs that extra healing boost!

I recently returned from visiting family in Nebraska. It was my first time there since changing my diet and though being grain-free is not always all that difficult, probably the biggest hurdle when someone is preparing food for me are the nightshades. Even a small amount of them makes the eczema flare like crazy and any of the convenience foods I used to rely on while on the go – like lunchmeat – are now off the menu. Before we arrived my mom roasted a chicken for me then boiled the bones and made an amazing broth which she later made soup out of; it was so good I tried to recreate it here. It is very simple and so good neither batch lasted more than a couple of days!

A few notes about gelatin; it is one of the latest super foods I have learned about and wanted to share with you. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, chemical-filled concoction you can make from a box, but real gelatin. You can order it online reasonably priced; I recommend the Great Lakes brand (the red can) and it can be found on Amazon, but its truest form is when it is extracted right from the bones.

Ever notice how cold broth gets all thick and gelled? It’s the gelatin and the goal of every stock-making cook is that perfect broth that gels beautifully. My mom nailed it; the first time I went to warm up some leftover of hers it all popped out of the jar at once and kept its form until the pan heated up! Like chicken jello! (If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a picture of it.)

If your broth is not gelling much there can be a couple of reasons. Start with cold water; the process of the water slowly heating allows the fibers in the bone to open up and release the gelatin. It could also be it wasn’t simmered long enough, or too much; the key word here is simmer. Don’t let it come to a rolling boil; I go into this more later.

I am very focused on healing my body right now, and I find it absolutely amazing there are tools on this earth we can use, like naturally fermented foods for probiotics, honey with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (as long as it’s in its RAW form), and gut-healing, immune system boosting bone broth! Food is medicine!

Need another reason to make your own? Conventional “broth” is loaded with salt, most likely contains gluten, in some cases the meat is the fourth or fifth ingredient, and they can contain things like MSG, artificial colorings, sugars, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of unidentifiable/unpronounceable things. Even gluten-free varieties and organic versions can be suspect and contain questionable labels like “all-natural” or “natural flavors.” That can mean anything BUT natural! Do your research; there are some good brands out there, but they can be hard to find and expensive…so why not make your own!

I simmer mine twice; once the first time, and then I take the meat off the bones and simmer just the bones one more time. Use cold, filtered water, and let it take its time. The little bit of effort on your part will be well worth it, trust me!


Homemade (Chicken) Bone Broth

(1) 3-4 pound chicken (as fresh and natural as you can afford)
Cold, filtered water
1 small or ½ large onion, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
(1) 1-inch piece of ginger (no need to peel)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Any mixture of fresh/dried herbs you like (we like thyme or oregano or Herbs de Provence)
Vegetable scraps – celery leaves, carrot peels, kale stems – you name it (This is optional; it helps impart flavor; I didn’t use it this time because I hadn’t thought to save any.)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken inside and out. (Save the neck; the gizzards are optional.) Pat dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Stuff the onion, garlic, and ginger into the cavity and rub your oil of choice all over the outside then season with sea salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes then place in a pot (if you have a good stock pot that can go in the oven just use this; I can’t do that with mine but it would save some dishes!)
3. There are two options for your next step; I have tried it both ways. You could put it in a stock pot to simmer on the stove or place in a slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker; it doesn’t need to be watched and you don’t have to worry about it boiling too hard, boiling over, etc., but it’s up to you.
4. Place in your pot and pour in cold, filtered water to cover. Place over low heat (or your slow cooker on low) and walk away. I like to do mine in the evening, place it in the slow cooker, and go to bed. You get up in the morning and it’s all done. I remove it from the pot and let it cool. We have chicken for lunch then I completely bone it out and repeat the process, covering the bones with more filtered water (the veggies too) and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour, until any remaining meat has come off the bone.
5. Once you have your broth strain it into a bowl or jars and place in the refrigerator. When it’s chilled you can label it and leave it in the fridge for a quick, nourishing snack, make soup, or use in a recipe. I always leave one jar out and label the others and put in the freezer.

This just takes a little bit of time and whether you let it simmer all night or all day is up to you! It can also be personalized with whatever herbs or spices you or your family likes, and that one little chicken makes a lot of broth! I don’t always make soup, but my mom did and her version was so good I had to recreate it for you. The cabbage in it made it reminiscent of noodles and it was so yummy, so here it is!

Chicken Cabbage Soup
One quart homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic
½ a large onion
4 stalks celery
½ a large or one small cabbage, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1. If you have just made your chicken broth you can just add all your ingredients to the prepared broth, bring to a simmer, and leave for about 15-20 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. If I am using a jar of pre-prepared broth I like to sauté all my veggies in a little coconut oil first – it gives them great flavor!
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
3. The night I made this soup myself I was really craving bread and made these yummy coconut flour muffins that really taste like corn bread but are completely grain-free! The recipe comes from Empowered Sustenance and can be found at http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cornbread-muffins/.

Hugs to you!

Emily

Sources:
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.; copyright 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.; pages 116-124
The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD; copyright 2013, Victory Belt Publishing; page 196