How I Discovered Ketogenics
Previous to my diagnosis with systemic candida, I was eating an unhealthy amount of sugar and carbs but somehow maintaining a fairly thin frame so long as I restricted my calories. Sadly, my focus from junior high until much of my adulthood tended to be on having a slim figure. Today, I pray that I would focus on the inward beauty rather than the outside. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. My weight fluctuated over the years due to the many antidepressants I was taking in addition to a period of heavy drinking. There was never a real balance, I was either extremely thin or borderline overweight. Strangely, even when I was underweight, the high amounts of sugar I was eating caused my face to look puffy with severe dark circles around my eyes. After my daughter and I were diagnosed with a horrid case of thrush, I had the help of a Naturopath to get me on a low carb diet or paleo/ketogenic, to rid my body of the candida overgrowth.
What is Ketogenics?
Carbs, protein, and fats. Carbohydrates are the first thing the body will burn as it converts to glucose and is used for energy in the body, particularly the brain. As a result of this newly converted glucose being used as energy, your body will store the remaining fat cells. However, with the absence of a high amount of carbohydrates in a diet, the liver then takes fat and converts it into fatty acids and ketones. The ketones replace the glucose as an energy source which oddly enough will reduce the amount of seizures in children with epilepsy by half. This was discovered in the 1920’s by placing children with epilepsy on a ketogenic diet. By starving our bodies of carbs, we force it into a state of ketosis, burning fat as a main energy source. The goal would be to consume no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates daily (I do not adhere to such a strict regimen as I have found a healthy balance for my body), regardless of the amount of fat or calories taken in. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that people turning to a Ketogenic diet have a significant decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) and an increase in HDL (good cholesterol). Wait, isn’t cholesterol bad for you?
25% of cholesterol comes from our food or animal products, while the other 75% is produced by our body. It has many crucial roles including hormone production, such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone and cortisone. Vitamin D production, which is a fat soluble vitamin, making it hard for the body to absorb on a high carb diet. It also helps produce bile which aids digestion and vitamin absorption. Since cholesterol can’t be dissolved in the blood, it must be transported by two types of lipoproteins. This is where HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) play a role. HDL guard against heart problems while LDL can lead to heart disease.
According to UCLA Newsroom:
“75 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event, based on current national cholesterol guidelines.”
That means that 75% of people that have heart attacks have normal levels of cholesterol, debunking the common theory from doctors that if you have high cholesterol you are more likely to have a heart attack!
Sylvan Lee Weinberg, former president of the American College of Cardiology and outspoken proponent of the diet-heart hypothesis, said:
“The low-fat–high-carbohydrate diet, promulgated vigorously by the National Cholesterol Education Program, National Institutes of Health, and American Heart Association since the Lipid Research Clinics-Primary Prevention Program in 1984, and earlier by the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid, may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations”
Don’t get me started on the U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture food pyramid! How many government officials are profiting from the gluttonous amount of sugars, breads, and pastas that Americans are consuming daily?
With obesity rates rising daily, type 2 diabetes goes with it. While 5%-10% of diabetics are affected by a usually inherited type I, requiring insulin injections, the remaining 90%-95% are affected by type II diabetes, which is most often the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices such as little to no exercise. When diabetics turn to fat as a main food source, they can experience lower glucose levels and in many cases greatly reduce the need for medications to regulate insulin.
A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic (LCKD) diet was tested on 28 overweight participants in 2005 by the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. By the end of the 16 week period, these were the findings:
“The LCKD improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes such that diabetes medications were discontinued or reduced in most participants.”
Many people that suffer from type II diabetes believe that they must need to limit fats and calories to control their blood sugar, while the opposite has proven true. A high carb diet will result in elevated glucose levels, causing the patient to be in need of regulation medications.
I have greatly benefited from a ketognic diet. Some of the benefits for me have included healthier hair, skin, and nails with a reduction in hair loss and dry scalp. I have been able to maintain a healthy, and no longer fluctuating weight with the aid of regular exercise and ketogenic habits. By sticking to a low carb diet I have also experienced higher energy levels enabling me to keep up with my four energetic children, which is by far the greatest reward!
One of the many benefits of eating a high fat/low carb diet, is the ability to absorb more nutrients and vitamins as our body cannot do this without fat. Carotenoids for example, is a nutrient found in many vegetables and greens which can only be absorbed when fat is present in our bodies. In addition, vitamins A, D, K and E are all fat soluble and there is substantial evidence coming to light that many people are vitamin D deficient even with daylight exposure.
Although I eat mostly paleo and ketogenic, I have mastered my own version of these two ways of eating combined. Due to my sensitivity to candida overgrowth, I am not able to tolerate much in the way of fruit besides berries and cherries. The only sweeteners I have done well with are coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol and erythritol so I won’t have recipes with any refined sugar. Ketogenics has a strong focus on dairy which I also do not eat. ( a post later on my reasons). I can’t handle sweet potatoes, beets, starchy squash etc. In fact, after my last baby I decided to add sweet potatoes into my diet again and ended up with thrush! My family does enjoy some of these foods so I will try to incorporate these ingredients into my recipes to avoid reader boredom:).
For general a list of paleo foods please see one of my favorite paleo bloggers at paleogrubs.com
For a general list of ketogenic foods please see ketogenic-diet-resource.com
Bear in mind that everyone’s bodies are different, and what works for one person may not work for you. I do not adhere to a strict ketogenic or paleo diet, so you may see recipes that have items such as pea protein or coconut sugar that are not allowed on either diet. Like I said, do what works for you. Listen to your body, keep a food journal if you are struggling with medical issues and see what food triggers you may have. Good luck!
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health ;Long term effects of ketogenic diet in obese subjects with high cholesterol level.
Epilepsy Foundation; What is the ketogenic diet?
Journal of the American College of Cardiology; The diet–heart hypothesis: a critique
American Heart Association; Good Vs. Bad Cholesterol
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes
Scientific American; Vitamin D deficiency soars in the U.S
How I came to Home Birth
When I discovered I was pregnant with my first baby in 2006, I knew I wanted an all natural birth. Working in Natural Food stores over the years gave me an opportunity to learn and be surrounded by people who wanted to live and treat their bodies without the obtrusive world of medicine. Now don’t misunderstand, I believe there is a time and place for doctors. If I have a broken bone, or I’m in a car wreck, I know I will depend on the life saving abilities of many talented men and women. But I don’t believe childbirth is a medical condition, and in most cases it does not require the life saving attention of a medical doctor. Again, I know there are times when even in childbirth an emergency situation can arise with the need of medical intervention. What frustrates me, is when an emergency situation arises because of medical intervention. Or, needless procedures are pushed on an unaware and nervous mother to be. I have met many ladies over the years that have had horrific hospital experiences, and if you are one of those ladies, please read on!
I became pregnant with my son Emrick, in 2006 while working at a Natural Food market in Tacoma, Washington. I was young, super naive, and full of pride. I knew that I wanted to use a midwife, and met with a “nurse midwife” from a local hospital. At the time, I didn’t understand there was a difference between a licensed midwife and a nurse midwife, I now know that nurse midwives work directly under a doctor leaning towards a more medical approach. They typically will only deliver in a hospital setting. When I first met with this particular nurse midwife, I had questions about how certain situations would be handled since I had friends that had issues arise during their labors causing physicians to step in. Everything was going fine until I asked her what she would do if my baby was breech. She said that there would be no option but to do a C-Section. For real? I was out. I knew from doing my own research that a breech birth does not require a C-Section in all cases, unless the baby is in serious distress, so I moved on and met with a wonderful licensed midwife that would only deliver at home, or a birthing inn. Since I was currently living in an apartment complex, I opted for the birthing inn.
My pregnancy went well, I was sticking to my vegan thing but eating a lot of sugar. I experienced pretty severe nausea in the first trimester, but that was about it. I drank loads of red raspberry leaf tea, as it aids in the health of a women’s uterus and helps to make contractions work more efficiently in addition to all the awesome vitamins in contains. My husband never knew at the time, but with my first 2 pregnancies I would eat a cookie every time I got up to pee at night. Don’t judge. Who doesn’t enjoy eating a sugar loaded cookie while they pee in the middle of the night? 🙂
Around 6 months into my pregnancy I switched jobs selling flooring full time, lifting all those heavy samples helped to keep me somewhat in shape! About 2 weeks before my due date I decided to start my maternity leave, thinking I would be delivering soon. I am so thankful that I went into labor ON my due date, as it would have set me back financially if I had been overdue.
My labor started with the loss of my mucus plug, and then bouts of diarrhea. I knew to look out for such signs as your body prepares for birth, but I hadn’t prepared myself for the contractions since for some idiotic reason I assumed that if I could handle 4 hour tattoo sessions, I could surely go through childbirth. Man, I was so full of myself! I did take a general birthing class of what to expect and so on, but no real practice of a particular technique. Big mistake.
I labored at home for as long as I was able, my midwife said that when I could no longer talk through contractions it was time to head to the birthing inn. Once we arrived, I was 7 centimeters dilated. I thought since there was only 3 centimeters to go, I would start pushing! Worst. Decision. Ever. I later learned that when you push before you are fully dilated, it can cause swelling making it very hard to deliver. I was a mess, screaming with every contraction and tensing every muscle in my body (which makes contractions oh, so much more painful). Since I pushed too early, Emrick became what I call stuck in the birth canal. If I had been in the hospital, the would have suctioned him out or used forceps. Thankfully, my midwife continued to move me into different positions keeping Emrick’s heart at a safe rate. Being squeezed for so long took a toll on the poor guy. This went on for hours and hours. I thought I was going to lose it, I kept asking my midwife, “Can’t you just pull him out?”. Finally, about 14 hours after arriving at the inn, Emrick was born a healthy 8 pounds and 7 ounces. A slightly larger baby than I was expecting:/ We made the decision not to circumcise him, as we felt this should be up to him when he gets older. I chose to breastfeed, and he put on a pound the first week!
I became pregnant with Ladd in 2009, Josh and I were super excited! Keep in mind, I was still vegan and yes, still eating cookies in the wee hours of the night. I decided to have her at home since we were no longer in an apartment complex.
My pregnancy went again, really well. Same nausea returned. Because of how my labor with Emrick went, I decided to arm myself with as much info as possible as to how I could relax during labor and through contractions. I called my sister and shared my fear with her that I didn’t want to be hysterical during labor again. She told me that she used the Bradley Method with her 3 births, and it had really helped her through. The Bradley Method has made my last 3 births a completely different experience than when I had Emrick.
I was 10 days late, doing everything I could to get labor started naturally. My midwife stripped my membranes and recommended I stimulate my nipples(releases pitocin). awkward, since my dad was sitting next to me at the time! Again, my labor started with loss of mucus plug and diarrhea. I started to feel lower back pain, so my husband decided to call in to work ,and we walked around the zoo to keep things moving. Contractions were steady, but not really increasing in timing or intensity so I opted to go to bed that evening and see how much sleep I could get. No use in keeping everyone awake when you are going through the first stages of labor! My contractions became unbearable to sleep through, so by early morning I had moved out to the couch, slumped over and tried to relax my body as much as humanly possible. My husband didn’t know what to think when he came into the living room and saw me so calm and relaxed! He had in his mind, I think prepared himself for another screaming and frantic mama in labor. In fact, I think he said at one point, “Are you sure you’re in labor?”.
I personally, don’t like the pressure of people waiting on me to progress through labor. So I hold out as long as I can before calling the midwife over. For some women this can be difficult if they have shorter labors. My labors usually last 2 days from stage one to birth, so this isn’t a problem for me:). When the midwife arrived, I was 9 centimeters. I was elated. I had labored on my own, without any screaming or melt downs simply by sagging my tummy and letting my body fully relax with each contraction. This gave me confidence to go forward as I entered transition and began to feel the urge to push. I tend to get the shakes in transition, but it is a good sign that baby is coming:).
A good friend from Church had given me her old birthing stool, and so I had it ready in my room along with my birthing kit long before labor began. Sitting up rather than lying on my back helped Ladd along as gravity took the lead. My midwife gave me a mirror so that I could see Ladd’s little head crowning, it was so exciting to know I would get to meet her shortly. Ladd was born 8 pounds 4 oz. My midwife coached me through the contractions, encouraging me to take little breaks between pushing. Not long after, Ladd came into the world! I was so thrilled to be done with labor that I forgot to ask if it was a boy or girl!
The process of delivering the placenta was this time, a learning experience as I was much more aware of what was going on and I wasn’t destroyed energy wise from labor. Once my contractions began and the placenta was out, my midwife took us on a tour that I will never forget. We were able to learn that my due date was pretty accurate as she noticed the placenta had just begun to break down being 10 days late. It was nice and bright in color showing that I had been eating well (enough) to keep much needed nourishment to the baby. I had wanted to bury it with a tree in the backyard, but being that we were still in a apartment style situation, it sat in our freezer for a year before I tossed it:/.
After a few weeks of very painful nursing, my midwife diagnosed Ladd and I with thrush. To learn more about my candida story, read here.
I started out saying I only wanted 2 children, but God had grown me so much with Emrick and Ladd, showing me that with each baby He was blessing me with a more patience little by little. I will be the first to admit, I am not a patient person. I struggle with perfection and wanting things to be neat and clean at all times, but with the birth of each baby has come a stretching in the way of how I handle things. I saw this change in my big sister as well, and I truly admired her for it, wanting to follow in her footsteps, adding to our family.
Once Josh and I were married, I was given information from my sister teaching me to track my cycle by monitoring my mucus throughout the month(a future post to come on this topic). Funny thing was, once we decided to try for Simone, I was already aware that we were intimate during my last peak cycle, but since it wasn’t on the exact peak day I thought nothing would come of it. Josh and I always get excited to try for a baby, although it can be torture waiting for your period to roll around….or not! Anyway, we got pregnant before we actually had a chance to try, to Josh’s disappointment;). But we were both ecstatic none the less.
This time, I had my systemic candida under control by eating a ketogenic/paleo diet along with regular exercise. I was kind of terrified throughout my pregnancy with Simone that she and I would both end up with a horrible case of thrush similar to my bout with Ladd, so I was very attentive to my diet and drank raw apple cider vinegar before each meal to help combat any slumbering yeast that may rear its ugly head in addition to taking loads of fish oil(2000 mg EPA/DHA combined) and a high dose of Vitamin D3 to boost my immune system.
For some reason my nausea was not only during the first trimester, but also in the end of my last. I noticed that I had more energy with this pregnancy, and I wish I could say I didn’t gain as much weight since I was eating low carb, but with every baby I gain the same amount of weight which is just how my body works. My midwife notified me after one of my routine appointments, that I was throwing ketones in my urine which although safe outside of pregnancy, can be counter productive during. With little to no carbs in my system, my body was going into starvation mode and using up fat and protein stores to feed the baby which in turn produced ketones. After consulting with my Naturopath, I decided to add in some gluten free grains to my diet to prevent ketones. I was very nervous at this point, flashing back to the burning sensation and electrical pains I felt in my breasts with each nursing while Ladd was a baby. But, I kept an eye on the amount of carbs, trying not to go overboard. I have found that one of my earliest symptoms of systemic candida is my digestion, so if that ever felt off I knew to scale back on the grains.
Josh and I had decided to move into a larger apartment which happen to be rented out to us by our midwife’s parents, so it was just like coming home for her when I went into labor:)
After being a week overdue, I finally went into labor. Again, I lost my mucus plug and began to have mild contractions. For some reason I had it in my head that I would deliver that night, called my midwife to come over and then my contractions died down. I was so embarrassed! I thought for sure by baby number 3 I would be a pro with knowing my body and when to call for assistance. There is that pride again! My midwife left that evening as my contractions weren’t increasing, and I was able to ramble on about this or that without needing to pause for a break. After she left I decided I would wait until I knew for sure that I was in the later stages of labor and not the beginning. I went all night with little to no sleep as my contractions became unbearable, but oddly they weren’t very close together. This went on all the next day, very strong short contractions but not really getting closer together or increasing in length. I was so frustrated, and tired. My midwife sent some cramp bark to try and help me sleep by early evening, but after I took the herb my labor slammed into transition! By the time my midwife was on her way to the house, I was telling Josh I felt like I needed to push. You should have seen the look on his face. He said, “Do I need to wash my hands?” Poor guy!
I had intended on using the birthing stool again, but I have learned with each delivery that you have to listen to what your body is saying feels right. I was getting a terrible pain on my tailbone when I was sitting upright, so the best position for me was on my knees bent over our bed. Not the prettiest view for everyone in the room, but I was comfortable!
Not long after my midwife arrived, I began pushing. Simone was born 6 pounds 14 ounces. Over a pound lighter than Emrick and Ladd:) And you know what? I never got thrush:)
Josh had said 3 was the limit, but I changed his mind:)
After several years of trying to move from Washington State to the Sierra Nevada, Josh was able to get a transfer with his job. We made the long haul end of Summer in 2013, and I became pregnant with Irie in 2015. This time, we had an actual home of our very own to deliver in:)
My pregnancy with Irie was my most difficult. No major complications or anything, but getting older, and having 3 other kiddos to take care of in addition to a ton of diy home projects like paper bag flooring (future post), and rearing a large flock of chickens takes a toll on ones body. My first trimester of nausea was the worst it had ever been, and I had absolutely no energy at all. Homeschooling, walking the dog, cleaning a chicken coop, and all those poopy butts that need wiping, can make an already rough first trimester that much worse. But somehow I got through it:)
I continued a low carb high fat diet, but after throwing ketones again, I had to add potatoes and some gluten free grains back in temporarily.
As I progressed into my second and third trimester, I had convinced Josh that we had to get rid of the carpet in our new home. Living in Tacoma, we had always been able to find cool, historic apartments with beautiful hardwood floors which to an impulsive cleaner is a must! However, we couldn’t be so picky when we bought our first house in Nevada as the market was at it’s height in bidding wars. Don’t get me wrong, I love our house, I just hate carpet. The thought of having a home birth with all the juices and liquids that come flowing out of you while in labor made me search like a mad women on the internet for cheap flooring alternatives to carpet. Low and behold, I found brown paper bag flooring (look for this future diy post!). It was cheap and something Josh and I could tackle all on our own. Only problem was I was already in my second trimester when we started, and it was labor intensive. Near the end of my pregnancy, after ripping up almost all the carpet and pulling staples and nails out of the floor, I began to have premature contractions as my body was just not handling all the bending over and being on my feet all day. It was Summer and I was not paying very close attention to how much water I drank, so one evening I began to have terrible pains in my lower back. I actually thought I was having a contraction. Turns out I passed a small kidney stone as I was dehydrated. I had never had these things happen with other pregnancies, but having a new home and more children to take care of, it was hard to find time to rest. If there is anything I walk away with after having 4 children, it’s that no pregnancy is the same.
This was the first pregnancy that I felt like I would possibly go into labor before my due date, and I was sooo done. I started nipple stimulation which started mild contractions. The day before Irie was to be born the contractions increased and I started to lose little bits of my mucus plug. This time, my midwife was not around the corner as my previous midwife, but rather an hour and a half away in another state, so I needed to time calling her very carefully. I kept putting off her coming, scrubbing the tub and preparing the bed and birthing kit. One thing I love most about home birth is actually being in my own home, doing chores or cooking food to keep my mind off of contractions. Eventually, she decided to come on her own as I was having trouble talking on the phone through the pain.
I’m so glad she made the call to drive out when she did, because my water began to leak slowly and I was feeling a lot of pressure on my rectum. Thankfully, her assistant was there early to coach me through until the midwife arrived.
Do you want to know the neatest thing about Irie’s birth? Most midwives will ask if the father would like to catch the baby, Josh always says no to this as he likes to be an observer and take pictures. This time, since I had moved to the same town as my sister and she was there with me, I asked if she would like to deliver Irie. She was thrilled and honored. I moved onto the birthing stool once I was fully dilated, and not long after Irie was born by the hands of my big sis. Best. Moment. Ever.
Since Josh and I had our own house this time, I got to plant Irie’s placenta under a cherry tree:)
As a side note, can I just say that if you ever ask a friend or family member what they have named their baby, the worst thing you can say is, “That’s interesting”. Just keep it to yourself and coo and aww at the new baby:).
Chocolate Sunbutter Fat Bombs
Although I don’t eat refined sugar products any longer, I still enjoy a sweet treat. These Chocolate Sunbutter Fat Bombs are full of healthy fats and protein, but sweet enough to satisfy my cravings. I like to grab one out of the freezer when I’m in need of an energy pick-me-up, or after a hard workout. I try to keep my diet made up primarily of fats and protein since our bodies tend to burn carbohydrates, proteins and lastly fats. With a low carb diet, your body will burn more fat! See my post on ketogenics for more info.
1 Cup Unsweetened Sunbutter (or nutbutter of choice)
2 Tbs Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (I buy the organic Kirkland Brand from Costco)
10 Drops Vanilla Stevia
1 Tsp Vanilla
Place coconut milk, coconut oil, sweetener in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Once the ingredients are fully melted and incorporated together, add the cocoa powder and vanilla until blended smooth. Last, add the sunbutter and remove from heat. I like to pour these into cupcake liners and freeze for about 20 minutes. These healthy treats will melt at 75 degrees Farenheit so make sure they are consumed soon after removing from the freezer!
By Abby Butterfield
How To Build A Couch From Doors
When my husband Josh, and I first moved to the Sierra Nevada in 2013, we had decided to leave our old couch behind and just buy a new one once we found a house. After finishing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace program, and saving up enough money for a down payment on a home, we thought we were in good shape to enter the market with offers. We had no idea the shift that was happening with real estate, and everything was selling before we could get an offer in. Or we were stuck in a bidding war with someone willing to pay cash. After 3 months and 8 offers, we finally closed on a home on about 1/3 acre. However, not having a home for 3 months we quickly spent much of our savings, and after our down payment there was little left to buy furniture let alone furnish the house. Thankfully, before leaving Washington State, my mom was getting rid of some old doors from her 1930’s triplex in the Peninsula near Puget Sound. We had maybe planned to make a table out of them down the road, but after my nagging Josh about our couch situation we decided to put the doors to a better use!
Josh’s first and most difficult step was to scrape about 12 coats of old paint off, and this was in the dead of a very cold winter. It took a couple of months and major motivation for him to come home from work each night and head out to our freezing garage to the endless task of scraping, but in January the extra coats of paints were scraped and sanded. Josh then applied a stain to give the doors some pop.
One door was used for the back of the couch, while he took another and cut evenly in half to form the sides. He then angled the back to a slightly reclined position and screwed the sides in. Once the doors are set at a desired angle, take two separate 2x4s and screw into position of the front and back seating area.
To keep the cost down, he then added particle board as the seat base. We had to piece together wood like a puzzle to cover the whole seat, but it worked out in the end. An additional 6×1 inch board was placed and hammered in front of the couch to hold cushions into place.
I originally wanted to purchase nice couch cushions, but again, being on a tight budget didn’t allow! I opted instead for a full size futon mattress, a waterproof bed protector (still in those potty training days) that I found at Big Lots, and a black futon cover.
Have you ever made furniture from scratch? I would love to see your ideas!
Balsamic Orange Chicken Drumsticks
Although it has been over 15 years since I have eaten meat, my husband and I recently made the decision to slaughter 3 of our chickens due to aggressive behavior. As we knew exactly where the meat was coming from and how it was raised, it was my children’s first time eating chicken or meat for that matter! Finding organic, humanely raised meat can be a real challenge, but when I can find it at a reduced or on sale price my family is in for a treat. While most hardcore paleo foodies will not eat any form of soy, I do eat small amounts of fermented versions so long as they are not overly processed. Tofu, tempeh, and amino acids are all part of my diet. Many paleo recipes will call for coconut amino acids in place of soy sauce as soy sauce is made from wheat, but if you are on a tight budget then spending the extra money on a small bottle of coconut aminos usually is out of the question. This recipe replaces soy sauce (wheat based), with Bragg’s Amino Acids (fermented soy).
8-12 Organic Chicken Drumsticks
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
3-4 Tbs Coconut Sugar or Honey
3 Scallions Chopped
1 Tbs Fresh Grated Ginger
3-4 Garlic Cloves Chopped
1 Large Organic Orange Sliced
Place the chicken in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Mix remaining ingredients except orange slices and pour evenly over chicken. Place orange slices over the chicken mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for between 25-30 minutes or until liquid is reduced to a thick, sticky sauce. Make sure to rotate chicken periodically during the cooking process. Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove and serve with sauce drizzled.
Recipe adapted from Nagi at http://www.recipetineats.com/5-ingredient-sticky-stove-top-balsamic-drumsticks/
My Candida Story
Remember the first time you overheard your Aunt or Grandma complaining of a yeast infection? You might have gone with them to the pharmacy section as a little girl and watched as they purchased a box of Monistat that will clear everything up in 7 days…or so it says. Yeah right. We think once our symptoms of an illness are gone, that we are no longer under its dominant force. Weeks may pass, even months but it is sure to show its ugliness at some unwelcome point in your life. That’s when you will have to make the decision the continue to treat the symptoms, or get to the root of the illness head on.
After the birth of my son Emrick in 2006, I found myself without health insurance and running low on the antidepressants I had been taking for over 11 years. I had been told from the age of 12 that I “needed” these pills to function on a daily basis, and would fall apart without them. Ironically, I had developed so many other manifestations just from the medication itself, it was hard to know what symptoms were me and what were caused by the medication. Regardless, I made the decision to quit taking my prescription without tapering my dosage down. 6 months of agonizing withdrawals ensued, including hair loss and diarrhea on a daily basis. This went on for the next 5 years as I had no idea what an impact my vegan, sugar addicted diet was having on my health. I took it as the new normal and made no changes thinking I had done permanent damage taking the antidepressants. How discouraging it was to know that I was putting my trust in the medical community all those years, rather than in God!
In 2010, after the birth of my daughter Ladd, I noticed some itchiness inside my breast. That’s right, IN my breast. It was an itch that could not be scratched and it progressed into shooting pains that felt like electricity running through me. Ladd also had horrible bloody diaper rash, which I just thought to treat with natural diaper cream. My midwife later diagnoses us with a case of thrush that would hopefully clear up with a treatment of Gentian Violet, an over the counter anti-fungal that will turn EVERYTHING purple! I followed treatment for Ladd and myself as directed, my midwife encouraged me to avoid sugar and fruit for a time but I foolishly chose not to follow her advice and the thrush returned. It took 7 months of horrible pain including dry, cracked nipples that would bleed and electrical pains coursing through my breasts during each feeding. My hair loss was now something I wanted to address but wondered if it was genetics, something I would have to accept. At the end of my rope, I scrounged up enough cash to see a Naturopath who then diagnosed me with systemic candida and a biotin deficiency.
This is when my profound need to be the voice of suffering animals everywhere with my ongoing vegan way of life shifted. When you cut sugar,fruit, and carbohydrates from your diet you are naturally forced to turn to protein, veggies, and fats to satisfy your hunger. Inevitably, I added eggs and fish into my diet after 12 years of zero animal products. The funny thing is, I was beginning to eat more vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats then I had ever eaten in my whole life. in addition to a diet change, I was placed on a 2-week course of antifungals and high potency probiotic. I experienced a rough 2 week period of what they call “carb flu“, feeling like my body had been brought to its new low. I have to say, once you hit the carb withdrawals, you are headed for healing! With the aid of biotin supplements and eating a high fat/protein low carb diet, I have been able to reverse my hair loss and heal my gut with fermented foods such asdairy free homemade yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and raw apple cider vinegar.
What Is Candida?
Candida is a fungus, that under normal circumstances lives harmlessly on people. Yet, those of us that have an imbalance with our immune system due to diseases such as cancer or a mismanaged diet, are at risk for a fungal overgrowth. Candida, or yeast feeds on the bodies byproducts like dead tissue and sugar. So if your immune system is down and you are stuffing your face with breads, pastas, processed foods, and sugar, then candida can take root and breed havoc within your body. Overuse of antibiotics has exacerbated systemic candida in people of all shapes and sizes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Candida?
Candida symptoms can vary for each person, ranging from depression to dry skin. Here is a list of just some of the symptoms I believe can be caused by candida:
- Overall Tiredness even with adequate sleep
- reoccurring vaginal yeast infections
- white coating of the tongue
- cold extremities
- bloating and gas
- diaper rash
- dry, flaky scalp
Often, a doctor will misdiagnose a person with a specific illness as candida really isn’t recognized in the medical community. I know this from experience. When I wasn’t able to kick the thrush in my breasts after Ladd’s birth, I turned to a general practitioner about my hair loss and the candida. She absolutely refused to admit that candida could be causing any of my symptoms and told me I needed to eat meat. Seriously?! Just start eating meat and everything will go back to normal? While I do acknowledge that my vegan diet caused a biotin deficiency and lack of variety in my daily nutrition, eating meat was not going to make my raging case of thrush disappear.
According to the site thecandidadiet.com, these are some of the possible misdiagnosis:
IBS – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion
Arthritis – joint pain
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – constant fatigue
Diaper Rash – rashes and itching in infants
Athlete’s Foot – Fungus on toenails
Crohn’s Disease – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion
Gastroenteritis – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion
Gut Health and Autoimmune Disease
Why is gut health so important? One of the most hindering things a doctor can do is prescribe an antibiotic or alternate medicine to treat an underlying symptom without taking the time to find out why the symptoms are occurring in the first place. Birth control, antibiotics, antidepressants just to name a few, are some of the causes of why a good number of people have an imbalance of healthy gut flora. Unfortunately, many people with autoimmune diseases are not enlightened on the major role that good bacteria plays in healing their bodies and keeping flare ups at bay.
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:
“Autoimmune diseases have increased dramatically worldwide since World War II. This is coincidental with the increased production and use of chemicals both in industrial countries and agriculture, as well as the ease of travel from region to region and continent to continent, making the transfer of a pathogen or pathogens from one part of the world to another much easier than ever before. In this review, triggers of autoimmunity are examined, principally environmental. The number of possible environmental triggers is vast and includes chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and molds.Autoimmune diseases have registered an alarming increase worldwide since the end of the Second World War. This pandemic includes more than 80 autoimmune disorders and increases in both the incidence and prevalence of autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type I diabetes [1, 2]. In the United States, it is far more commonly found in women and is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women of all age groups. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. In contrast, cancer affects 13 million Americans. Symptoms involve many medical specialties and can affect all body organs.”
This is alarming, and we should be concerned enough to take action with our diet. Re establishing good bacteria within our gut should be the first step to repairing any illness we may face. Eating fermented foods such as my dairy free yogurt, taking a high potency probiotic, cutting out all grains (especially gluten) and avoiding sugar,processed foods and unnecessary medications is a great place to start.
Wondering if you have systemic candida? Take the candida quiz here.
thecandidadiet.com; Candida Misdiagnosis
thecandidadiet.com; Candida Questionnaire
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Autoimmunity and the Gut
Vanilla Cashew Milk
This recipe is a bit thicker than your typical cashew milk as I like to use it in my yogurt and bread recipes. Should you prefer a thinner milk just keep adding filtered water to your liking. My girls love this cashew milk over paleo granola or straight out of the glass:).
2 1/2 Cups Raw Cashews
3 -3 1/2 Cups Filtered Water (If using for yogurt recipe, 3 cups of water is best)
3-4 Tbs Coconut Sugar or Honey
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Dash of Sea Salt
Cover cashews with about an inch of filtered water and let set for at least 4 hours. Drain soaked cashews and add to a high-powered blender with remaining ingredients. Blend on highest setting for about a minute and a half or until smooth and creamy. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
By Abby Butterfield
Paleo Cashew Coconut Milk Yogurt
I am a huge yogurt fan, but it has been nearly impossible to find a store-bought dairy free yogurt that isn’t loaded with sugar. This is a recipe I created to satisfy my yogurt cravings and heal my gut since it is chock full of good bacteria. I have noticed a huge improvement in my gut health since consuming this yogurt on a daily basis. It is great added to a smoothie or mixed in with some fresh berries. Most yogurt recipes require utensils to be sanitized with the use of a thermometer for the actual scalding of the milk, this recipe is more simplified and less overwhelming for you newbies:). Enjoy!
2 1/2 Cups Raw Cashews Soaked for 4 Hours
3 Cups Filtered Water
2 Cans Full Fat Coconut Milk (place one can in the fridge overnight)
1/4 -1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Capsules 50 Billion Probiotic
Before beginning, make sure all of your utensils, dishes, and hands are clean. Remove one can of coconut milk from fridge, and scrape out coconut cream from top into a high-powered blender, discarding the liquid. Add remaining can of coconut milk with liquid. Drain cashews, and add to blender with filtered water, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. Blend on high for approximately 1-2 minutes, or until smooth.
Pour cashew coconut milk blend into large sauce pan over medium heat. This is where people can get stressed with the yogurt making process (I know I did!). I do not use a thermometer to scald the milk but rather warm it to the same temperature as say breast milk. Stirring the milk frequently to prevent burning, keep checking the temperature by adding a little dab of milk to your wrist. It only needs to be gently warmed, if it gets too hot it will kill the bacteria and your batch will not ferment. If your milk does overheat, remove and let cool until again, just warmed to the touch.
If adding gelatin, place 2 teaspoons in a small dish, add a few tablespoons of boiling water stirring to dissolve. Once the milk has reached a just warmed temperature, remove from heat and mix in gelatin mixture. Now add about 1/2 cup to each mason jar and mix with probiotic (this is a slurry). Then add remaining milk to each mason jar evenly and place a lid loosely on top. If it is a warm day out you can wrap your jars in a towel and set on the pavement, I prefer to use the base of my yogurt maker instead since I like to ferment for a longer period than 12 hours.
Leave your wrapped mason jars to ferment for anywhere between 8-24 hours. If you don’t have a yogurt maker, just wrap your mason jars in a thick towel and find a nice warm spot in your house, like a fireplace or space heater. The longer you allow it to ferment, the more bacteria will grow! Keep in mind the yogurt will also become more sour with longer fermentation time. I like my yogurt to sit for about 20 hours. Once you have allowed your yogurt to sit for the desired time, gently shake your yogurt and place in the fridge for 24 hours or until thick and creamy. Serve with sliced berries or over your favorite paleo granola (recipe coming!).
By Abby Butterfield