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Food & Mood Journal for Kids

So The Bacon Kid turns 8 in a couple of weeks, I can’t express how shocked I am these that these years have flown by but I also want to mark this passing of time with extreme gratitude for everything this child continues to inspire me to do, not only for myself but others.

As with any child growing up with either a parent or themselves dealing with food intolerances she’s more aware than the average kid about reading labels, reactions to foods and being careful about ordering food when eating out.

She’s spent countless hours in the kitchen with me, baking, cooking and concocting recipes, she watches Chopped Junior, Masterchef Junior, Kids Baking Championship and lately Duff til Dawn on Netflix all triggered by first watching The Great British Bake Off with her Nanna in England.  Some would question, why she enjoys watching food shows when she can’t eat the foods.  Well if you ask her she will tell you “it’s all about the science” and her report card is certainly indicating she has a love of all things science.

So recently we were at a restaurant and the server announced that they had a Gluten Free Cake for dessert, The Bacon Kid’s eyes glazed over and she said “Can I Mummy?”  my immediate reaction was “I bet there is dairy in that cake” but I’d also been talking with a client about their older child needing to understand their own reactions to the foods they eat and so I took a risk as a form of education, deep inside fearing… yes I admit I feared the reaction that may occur (note that The Bacon Kid has food intolerances, she does not have anaphylactic food allergies) but I had to let that go… there was a lesson to learn here one that I personally had trouble letting go of, but she’s growing older and needs to be accountable for her own food choices.

So… she ordered the cake.  It came on a plate decorated with drizzled chocolate sauce and caramel “Ugh There’s that dairy I said inside” and The Bacon Kid said “Look at the presentation, that looks magnificent”, then tasted the caramel with the chocolate cake and shared “Mummy this pairing is simply perfect” my little judge was in her foodie moment and I wasn’t about to take that away from her… had it been gluten yes sadly I would have had no choice but to date her Dairy intolerance has caused sinus and congestion and minor skin irritation, and occasionally a stomach upset… inconvenient yes, damaging if continued indefinitely but not life threatening.  Her eyes shone with pure delight.

In the car on the way home, she sneezed, by the time she was home (15 minute drive) she sounded stuffed up, and she was coughing with a tickle in her throat.  Overnight she was coughing, by morning she had post nasal drip and a very stuffed up nose.  I asked her what she thought it could be and she accurately reasoned.. “Well we went to the zoo today and there was lots of pollen so it could be seasonal allergies.. and then she paused, but I only get those when I eat dairy… do you think the chocolate cake had dairy in it?”  I’ve been criticized in the past for always ‘blaming’ foods for sudden onsets of health issues but my kid knew with reasoned thoughts what ‘could’ have triggered this response.  I sat there very aware that she’s very thoughtful in her processing of situations and I said “it’s very possible” so she asked me to look online at the restaurant and look at the ingredients, when we couldn’t find the nutritional information, she asked me to call them to clarify if the cake had dairy, sadly it was confirmed that it did.  So we used it as a learning experience, and we talked about how we need to think through the ingredients that are used to bake and how we could’ve made the same cake compliant to how we eat… deciding that Avocado / Coconut Oil would’ve been a good alternative but I also chose this opportunity to ask her if she wanted to start her own food journal, so that as she made more choices about the foods she ate, she could monitor how she felt emotionally, how much energy she has, her ability to focus at school, and how her body feels.  This something she’s really embracing, and already we’re seeing patterns when she eating too much sugar…

If you’d like to download a copy of the Food Journal for Kids that I created for The Bacon Kid select these links Word / PDF

surrender

To Herx or not to Herx THAT is the question

In my last blog post back in November 2015 entitled Lyme Disease : Every Cloud has a silver lining, I shared that I had been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and that I had started a 6-12 month protocol to combat it with antibiotics.  I haven’t blogged since then. My priorities have been myself, my daughter and my day job. I’m sure you appreciate and understand why!

As a mother or a caretaker, focusing on oneself is REALLY hard.  Putting yourself before your child’s needs isn’t maternal, and it defies logic when you have a child under the age of 10. My daughter and I have navigated and adjusted how we have lived our lives during the past 6 months, and if anything we are closer as a result.  There was an unspoken agreement that when I had the energy to be active with her I totally would, and she knew that spending our time together doing less active things for a few months may be the sacrifice we both had to make.  I didn’t go into great detail with her how I felt, but I certainly shared “Mummy’s aching today”.  So there were no trips at Spring Break this year, and Teacher Institute Days have been low key, with me working at home, while she’s had play dates or worked on science and craft projects. We have had none of the trips to the museums of past years, or bike rides… yet 😉

I’ve continued to work, though at times with reduced hours; and even at times when I really just wanted to curl up the fetal position and sob. With the support and understanding of executive management, I’ve been on conference calls with a bucket by my desk (thank heavens for the mute button!), and called into internal video conference calls wearing sunglasses to minimize the glare. I’ve had the support to stop business travel and I’ve worked 90% from home, only heading downtown for critical meetings.  I invested in Travel Sickness Wrist Bands to ease the motion sickness when I needed to – and said bucket joined me in the car!

I found the strength to suck all the pain up when my daughter got home from school, so that she didn’t get scared or sad or fearful.  Our evenings consisted of dinner, typically prepared in the crock-pot or pressure cooker for ease, homework, reading novels together, coloring, watching Animal Planet, doing jigsaws, and her favorite watching Winter & Hope two rescued dolphins via Live Webcams at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. When she goes to bed, I go to bed, and when I push that and try and stay up for some ME time, I quickly realize that SLEEP is THE best thing I can do for myself and that in itself is the ultimate ME time and that’s what’s pulled me through!

So let’s now talk about the medication… and my original commitment to a 6-12 month protocol using a combination of Antibiotics and Anti Parasitic drugs… It’s now 7 months since I committed to that protocol, so let me share with you that I did not and will not complete it… and to be transparent I deeply regret ever starting that particular RX combo as a pathway to better my health.  Pretty strong statement right?… so let me explain why.

  1. I did NOT take medication so that I could feel worse than Lyme Disease and/or any of my ‘diagnosed’ conditions had ever made me feel in my lifetime – lying on a bathroom floor every other weekend after taking Anti parasitic drugs in a puddle of sweat with the room spinning was no way for me to live my life.
  2. These drugs reduced, and in some instances removed, my ability to be a fully functioning parent and working mother –and,  let’s face it, human being. The protocol required me to time taking the Anti Parasitic Drugs ONLY when my daughter was with her Dad, which unfortunately was a timing that couldn’t be relied upon. I was a fully functioning active parent BEFORE I took these drugs, so WHY would I take something that impacted my work life balance so dramatically?
  3. Multiple Articles and research I carried out, including verbal confirmation from other Lyme disease sufferers, said and clarified that dialing in the diet was KEY to regaining health. I already follow the Autoimmune Protocol template, and even coach it. Before the drugs I was feeling 80-90% better than I did when I was taking them… so,  why did I need to take these drugs?
  4. My gut health was deteriorating rapidly. I have piled on weight. I was experiencing skin and digestive issues, not to mention my teeth were turning grey! My body was NOT liking or reacting well to these meds, and while I told to expect herxing and that it could be brutal, I do not believe that I needed to feel this way.  I knew there had to be a better solution.
  5. Knowing that the drugs I was taking, and that were covered by my insurance, contained fillers that brought gluten, corn and other delights back into my system, I had decided paying out of pocket for compounded drugs from a specialized pharmacist was worth the cost. Some $600 per month was not viable long term.
  6. My cravings for sugar and frozen foods like frozen yogurt/ice cream/sorbet were off the charts! And my ability to say ‘no’ was weakening by the day… (I’m going through a tough time, its ok to have some… right… yes/no/maybe was a constant conversation I had in my head)
  7. Last but not least, as a single mum with no close family or wide net village to support me (though with amazing friends), I simply could not stick out the extreme fallout of taking those drugs.

So. I was at my god son’s first birthday, sitting gingerly in a chair, having a major issue with the sound and the excessive movement in the room, when a friend of a friend shared with me that her neighbor had Lyme disease and was seeing this amazing doctor locally who treated her homeopathically.  Within 15 minutes we were texting and before you knew it, I had an appointment with this doctor, a holistic practitioner with supplements lining her shelves and a little machine that I placed my hand on for 40 minutes to receive a 10 page report highlighting in hues of Green, Yellow and Red the severity of the inflammation in my body.

I had not told this doctor I had Lyme, or my health history to date. I had not told this doctor about a very stressful experience I was also going through in my personal life at the time. But this machine… it… it had picked it all up!  There were all my issues listed in various hues of severity, spewing out of a printer.  I was immediately skeptical, yet at the same time intrigued that this doctor had a machine that was psychic… seriously, there were things this machine knew about my emotions that I had shared with NOBODY!  It also picked up Lyme and Co-infections and presented a homeopathic pathway.  All my training told me to run and run fast.  However I stayed and I listened to the doctor’s explanation of the results. She explained to me that my body wasn’t able to detoxify the fallout from the anti-parasitic drugs that that the machine picked up I was taking (I hadn’t told it or her). That my MTHR gene (also picked by said machine) and other co-infections was limiting my body’s ability to eliminate the fallout of the anti-parasitic drugs, and as a result my body was sitting there like a coffee filter… that hadn’t been changed in months, and before I went into toxic overload we needed to kick start and support my detoxification pathways. Otherwise I was just going to get sicker and sicker and sicker…  THAT MADE SO MUCH SENSE TO ME, and I’ve still no idea if the machine is a gimmick or not, and I often look at the report and think “crap” that’s creepy – but it’s true what it reported  my body was struggling to detox.

So since January I’ve been taking methylation support ONLY, no anti biotics, no anti parasitic drugs and plenty of probiotics. Just recently I’ve added magnesium back into my diet, after recognizing that when I take it, those sugar cravings are reduced to merely a whisper instead of demand. Of course, I continue to follow the Autoimmune Protocol as I honestly believe at the core of this, FOOD is really what matters.

I’m sharing this update with you because I want to highlight three things.

  1. Any doctor needs to look at you holistically and get a full panel of tests including Methylation, Liver, Kidney & Spleen health BEFORE putting you on a heavy hitting protocol, its important to know what detoxification your body can cope with while herxing is part & parcel of an antibiotic protocol with effective detoxification management it should not cripple you mentally or emotionally in the process!
  2. Do not take an overly aggressive pathway. Your body can only cope with so much. As eager as you are to get better, give your body time to adjust and give it breaks from aggressive protocols.
  3. Change your diet – I believe and know in my heart I would not who I am today without AIP, while I know the medication was necessary, if you aren’t already following an Anti-Inflammatory diet then I recommend doing so before you start any doctor prescribed protocol .

I will continue to update you, and blog if I continue to feel able. I’m certainly not back to the health I had back in November, but if I can put fingers to keyboard I’ll be here, sharing my journey in the hope that you may gain support and know that you aren’t ever alone.

 

 

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How I AIP: A Guest Post from Petra Chambers-Sinclair of petra8paleo

This week the worldwide community of AIP bloggers has banded together to highlight how we each live our healing protocol lifestyle–in real life. We are each committed to taking personal responsibility for our own health, and supporting other people around the world who are interested in doing the same thing.

This week, as part of #AIP4me week, I’ve joined forces with four other paleo healing protocol bloggers. We’re each exploring two elements of the ‘AIP Evolved’ Manifesto created by Angie Alt and Mickey Trescott  and we’re publishing the results on each other’s blogs.

Here’s where you’ll find us:

These posts are rolling out all week and we’ll be linking them together as we go.

Join us – simply check out the Manifesto chose those items that resonate for you and tag your Facebook Post, Instagram, Twitter or Blog post with the hashtags #HowIAIP and/or  #AIP4me.


Here’s Petra:Matthew & Petra#2 Embrace the template:The Autoimmune Protocol is not one-size-fits-all; it’s a template that promotes individuality and self-discovery.

We all have unique health histories, genes, challenges and aspirations. As a result, we will each need a customized approach to healing.

Finding our ideal pattern of diet and lifestyle is a time-consuming (probably life-long!) process, especially as our ideal configuration is likely to evolve as we do.

That’s why I’m committed to n=1 experimentation: so that I can find out what works best for me, to optimize my health and the health of the people I care about.

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is my template.

As one of the more restrictive paleo healing protocols, the AIP removes all foods known to contribute to systemic inflammation and autoimmune disease, and promotes lifestyle practices that encourage healing.

The AIP enables us to begin the process of healing, while simultaneously cleaning up our own personal laboratory (you are the laboratory). In this way, the AIP is an excellent starting place to stabilize health and begin to learn about you, as a unique organism.

The AIP Template

My husband Matthew and I embraced the AIP in 2013 when he was almost disabled by psoriatic arthritis.

Foodwise, Matthew adapted the AIP by also going low-FODMAP in 2014. Though a low-FODMAP diet wasn’t a long-term solution, it did enable him to reduce his symptoms so that he could work with his Functional Medicine Doctor to treat an underlying health issue that was not autoimmune.

All of his autoimmune symptoms have been reversing on the AIP. Some symptoms didn’t respond to the AIP, and that in itself helped us to determine that they were not autoimmune in origin and therefore needed a different kind of treatment.

Like Matthew, I’ve been on the AIP for 2½ years, but unlike him, I don’t have an autoimmune disease. I’ve reintroduced a few foods into my AIP template, like eggs, cocoa and nuts, but I’m not looking to change my diet much more than that in the future.

I’m also not looking to revert to my pre-AIP life in any other ways. Embracing the lifestyle elements of the AIP, including prioritizing sleep and focusing on stress management, helps me thrive, and now that I know what thriving feels like, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I’ve truly made the AIP template mine and now it’s the only way I want to live.

#4 Start simple:Begin with the foundations of diet, sleep, stress-management, movement, and relationships before delving deeper.

Here’s the paradox. We’re all individuals. Our bioindividuality determines what pattern of eating and living is ideal for each of us. And yet, we’re remarkably similar.

That’s why the AIP template works.

We are all descended from humans who lived in small interdependent groups, ate minimally processed foods, and spent their entire lives moving around in the natural world. Stress hormones were reserved for times when they faced actual danger, and though there was plenty of that, in between, when they weren’t organizing food and shelter or preparing for ceremonies, they spent a lot of time chilling. With each other.

Despite our unique histories and genes, all of our ancestors lived this way since the beginning of humankind.

This isn’t just paleo hyperbole. It’s supported by many of the newest, most cutting-edge findings in scientific and medical research. Whether researchers are aware of the ancestral health movement or not, their findings support the evolutionary premise.

Start Simple

The evolutionary premise: to find optimal health, we need to keep it simple and focus on:

  • A pre-industrial diet;
  • Quality sleep;
  • Stress-management;
  • Lots of appropriate movement; and
  • Relational connection.

As someone without a chronic health issue who has spent the past 2½ years focusing on the foundations of diet, sleep, stress-management, movement and relationships, I started simple.

I’m lucky, because without an autoimmune disease or any concurrent infections that I’m aware of, it’s been possible for me to start simple and stay simple.

So far I haven’t needed any interventions other than the basic AIP template to find optimal health.

That’s #HowIAIP.

Matthew has had to try additional experiments and treatments. But he started simple and continues to stick with the basics as he explores other options for healing.

That’s how he AIPs.

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Pork Ribs with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce {AIP/Paleo}

I don’t know about you but I love myself a slab of ribs, there is something really primal about pulling meat off of a bone, not to mention when you use the slow cooker setting on the instant pot to cook your Ribs, the gelatinous bone broth that is made – makes this a sure winner!

Are you like me?  Do you see an ingredient recommended as a replacement for xyz and immediately purchase it, but then said items sits on your shelf or in the fridge because you take a taste and you just don’t like it??  Well that was the problem with Pumpkin Butter for me… I just couldn’t get on with the taste… until now.  It’s rich fruity texture is the perfect base for my BBQ Sauce!

I used Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter, which does not have citric acid (which is a good thing as commercially citric acid is either grown on mold or grain!!) but it does have nutmeg.

I also list below an alternative which is Totally AIP

Pork Ribs with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce {AIP/Paleo}
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These sticky tangy Pork Ribs prepared in the Instant Pot are going to become a family favorite.
Servings Prep Time
3 People 20 Minutes
Passive Time
4 Hours
Servings Prep Time
3 People 20 Minutes
Passive Time
4 Hours
Pork Ribs with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce {AIP/Paleo}
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These sticky tangy Pork Ribs prepared in the Instant Pot are going to become a family favorite.
Servings Prep Time
3 People 20 Minutes
Passive Time
4 Hours
Servings Prep Time
3 People 20 Minutes
Passive Time
4 Hours
Ingredients
Ribs & Seasoning
Pumpkin BBQ Sauce (AIP)
Pumpkin Butter - Quick BBQ Sauce (Stage 1 Reintro)
Servings: People
Units:
Instructions
Pumpkin BBQ Sauce (AIP)
  1. Place All ingredients into a food processor or blender & blitz
  2. Place into a small saucepan and heat gently until sauce coats the back of a metal spoon and is sticky ;)
Pumpkin Butter - Quick BBQ Sauce (Stage 1 Reintro)
  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together with a metal spoon
Ribs
  1. Cut Rack into 3 Portions of Ribs approximately 4 Ribs per person Mix Garlic Powder, Ground Ginger & Ground Mace together then rub over ribs
  2. Take 1/2 of either Pumpkin Butter - Quick BBQ Sauce (Stage 1 Reintro) or Pumpkin BBQ Sauce (AIP) and pour over ribs
  3. Choose Slow Cooker Setting on Instant Pot - 4 hours, wait for 30 seconds and Instant Pot will start cooking those ribs!
  4. Once done, remove ribs from Instant Pot, and brush remaining sauce onto ribs. Place on Grill, or Under Broiler or in Toaster Oven for approximately 10 minutes until sauce is bubbling
  5. Serve!
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Cherry Balsamic Beef Brisket (Instant Pot) {AIP/Paleo}

Cherry Balsamic Beef (Instant Pot) {AIP/Paleo}
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AIP Compliant - Succulent Strips of Beef Brisket served with a Cherry Balsamic Broth in 40 minutes or less using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot
Servings Prep Time
4 10 Minutes
Cook Time
35 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 10 Minutes
Cook Time
35 Minutes
Cherry Balsamic Beef (Instant Pot) {AIP/Paleo}
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AIP Compliant - Succulent Strips of Beef Brisket served with a Cherry Balsamic Broth in 40 minutes or less using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot
Servings Prep Time
4 10 Minutes
Cook Time
35 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 10 Minutes
Cook Time
35 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Begin by trimming the fat from the joint, and slice the beef into 1/2" thin strips
  2. Mix salt, ground ginger into a bowl, then use to season meat
  3. Switch Pressure Cooker to Browning Mode and add the Oil from the choice of oils above.
  4. Once the oil is heated and shimmery but not smoking, add the beef in batches and brown all sides. Take care not to crowd the beef, so that all sides get browned.
  5. Add Balsamic Vinegar, Whole Can of Cherries & Coconut Aminos to the Instant Pot
  6. Return the browned beef strips and any plate juices to the Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker. Quickly coat the Brisket Strips in the Sauce
  7. Secure the lid and set to High Pressure Setting for 35 Minutes. Use default Meat/Stew setting on the Instant Pot.
  8. Once complete allow the Instant Pot to self release steam
  9. I did not complete this step but if you would like to thicken the sauce, use 4 tbsp of tapioca starch or arrowroot with 4 tbsp of water, mix until smooth, then add it to the pressure cooker, and stir well. Then switch to saute cooking cooking uncovered for about 5 minutes.
  10. Serve :)
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Sizzlin Scallops with Citrus Vinaigrette Zoodles {AIP/Paleo}

I was first introduced to this recipe by my personal trainer and over the past couple of months I’ve adapted it slightly to bring that tang of deliciousness that comes to the table with some white balsamic vinegar!

Scallops are one of my favorite shellfish and bring back memories of my days in New Zealand when I would free dive for Scallops and eat them  fresh out of the shell on the beach still in my wet suit…

Shellfish can also be classed as Organ Meats when you eat all that’s in the shell, so while many people balk at Offal, you’ll often find me cooking up some clams, mussels or scallops to get my nutrient density !

Scallops are actually an excellent source of a very important nutrient for cardiovascular health, vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is needed by the body to convert homocysteine, a chemical that can directly damage blood vessel walls, into other benign chemicals. Since high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, it’s a good idea to be sure that your diet contains plenty of vitamin B12 to help keep homocysteine levels low (homocysteine is also associated with osteoporosis, and a recent study found that osteoporosis occurred more frequently among women whose vitamin B12 status was deficient or marginal compared with those who had normal B12 status.)

In addition to their B12, scallops are a good source of magnesium and potassium, two other nutrients that provide significant benefits for the cardiovascular system. Magnesium helps out by causing blood vessels to relax, thus helping to lower blood pressure while improving blood flow. Potassium helps to maintain normal blood pressure levels.

I source my Balsamic Vinegar from The Olive Tap, in Long Grove, IL and lucky for you they do provide a shipping service!

So let’s tuck in!

Source www.whfoods.org
Sizzlin Scallops with Citrus Vinaigrette Zoodles {AIP/Paleo}
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Delicious plump scallops served on a fresh veggie zoodle salad, served with a Citrus Balsamic Dressing
Servings Prep Time
2 People 20 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 20 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Sizzlin Scallops with Citrus Vinaigrette Zoodles {AIP/Paleo}
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Delicious plump scallops served on a fresh veggie zoodle salad, served with a Citrus Balsamic Dressing
Servings Prep Time
2 People 20 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 20 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Ingredients
Scallops
Zoodles
Servings: People
Units:
Instructions
Preparing the Zoodles
  1. Using a Spiralizer or Julienne Slicer use the Carrots & Zucchini to make vegetable noodles
  2. Mix Rock Salt, Freshly Chopped Cilantro, White Balsamic Vinegar, Lime, Lemon & Finely chopped garlic into a large bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over over spiralized vegetables and coat well. Leave them to rest for 30 minutes, allowing the dressing to soak into the vegetables.
Scallops
  1. Rinse Scallops with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.
  2. Add either the Ghee or the Olive Oil (depending your reintroduction status) to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan on high heat.
  3. Salt the scallops.
  4. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center.
  5. Place Zoodles on the plate then provide 6 scallops to each person.
  6. Divide the cooking juices between each plate, spooning over the scallops!
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Cranberry Relish {AIP/Paleo}

This recipe is a family favorite adapted to AIP as a replacement for ketchup for burgers!  I stock up on bags of fresh cranberries when in season so that I can make this recipe year round!  I simply throw the bag of cranberries I purchased in the freezer, no preparation and they turn out just fine :)

While this relish pairs really well with Turkey or Chicken, it also pairs well with Ham, Burgers & is a wonderful addition to carnitas!

Cranberry Relish {AIP/Paleo}
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Wonderful Condiment for Burgers, Cold Meats & of course Turkey!
Servings Prep Time
8 10
Cook Time
6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 10
Cook Time
6 Hours
Cranberry Relish {AIP/Paleo}
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Wonderful Condiment for Burgers, Cold Meats & of course Turkey!
Servings Prep Time
8 10
Cook Time
6 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 10
Cook Time
6 Hours
Ingredients
Pork Carnitas
Equipment
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Peel & Slice Apple into 1cm Chunks
  2. Wash the Orange, then scrape the orange along the grater from top to bottom. Maintain enough pressure to remove the top layer of the rind. Take off only the rind of the orange's skin, and not the white pith, which tastes bitter.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a small sauté pan. Heat up slowly to cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries are slightly broken but not mushy.
  4. Serve Chilled
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balance-110850_640

Finding Balance with Chronic Illness

Have you ever read a blog post that resonated so deeply with you that it brought you to tears? Well this happened to me today when I read Jacqueline Raposo’s powerful post in Cosmopolitan it prompted me to open up even more than I already have because I have a good readership and if my journey and story can help just one person feel supported then I continue to do what I love to do… Help others!

So I have spent the past 30 years managing Autoimmune Diseases so that I was a productive and energetic member of my community, a working parent, a single Mum and somebody my daughter was pleased and excited to come home to. I was active at school events, volunteered in my community, made care packages for friends & family when they were sick and supported those in their times of need. Despite my autoimmune diseases because diet and lifestyle changes I had implemented had enabled me to be present! So call me naïve but when I got the diagnosis of Lyme Disease, I was excited to take the medication, as I put a lot of faith in the thought that this MUST be the missing link in the symptoms I was still experiencing and if I’m honest I still do but what I didn’t expect was the crippling symptoms from taking the medication, and the die off and herxing that would result! THAT my friends I was NOT expecting!

The first weekend I took the medication I literally was forced to lie on my bathroom floor for two days straight unable to handle light, movement with such intense nausea that I thought I could possibly be having an allergic reaction to the drugs or be dying… it really was that bad! As I lay on that bathroom floor my mind was racing, as any single parents would. I was compelled to think through the custody and residency of my 7yr old daughter… could I continue to look after her while on this course of medication? What would that mean for her, a child who succeeds in life when she has boundaries & structure… Would her Dad step up and be supportive and drive her home to me rather than me drive to pick her up on his weekends/evenings? Could I be the parent she needed me to be? How could I keep the roof over our heads? I laid on that bathroom floor thinking through every single combination of how I could make the next 6 months work… I felt incredibly vulnerable – how the hell were WE going to survive?

Lost & alone I sent out a few texts to my closest friends sharing the diagnosis and the fallout from the medication. I honestly had thought that I would just take the medication and bam! I would be better… yeah ok.. now I will call myself naïve! I felt sooo vulnerable my closest friends knew I had Autoimmune Issues they supported my diet and my lifestyle choices so much so that it was as part of their life and our social scene as it was mine and they knew all I had done to get where I was today but what about those people around me who were new to my circle, or my work colleagues & clients – my Autoimmune Disease was pretty much under control, anybody who dined with me knew I ate a certain way to keep said diseasez under control but this, this reaction to these drugs, was opening Pandora’s Box. It rocked my Type A Personality, It questioned my control over my life and more importantly I felt exposed as a parent. My circle knew me to be strong and to have found a solution so this complete debilitation rocked me to my core, like the medication was taking off a mask I’d been wearing for years, uncovering who was at the core of who I was… and literally it is!

On Day 3 of taking the meds, my body started to adjust, I was able to stand without the room spinning, though with a slowness and instability that I wasn’t able to cover up. I told myself its Day 3 – there is improvement this can only get better, two days down & out is enough! Enough of the medical crisis and drama! My daughter needed to be picked up and I don’t have time to be ill. My house was under renovation, I don’t have time to be ill. My parents are arriving from England, I don’t have time to be ill. I have a huge new project assigned to me at work, I don’t have time to be ill… I’m working on a new health coaching initiative, I don’t have time to be ill. I was worrying about all the people I would let down… and I wasn’t worrying about me… I couldn’t be weak… I have way way way too much responsibility as a single mom to be this sick! WTF!

But my body with its stability of whole food & nutrient density rallied, to the point where I can function not on all cylinders as I was but I’m upright and I’m able to move around the neighborhood… a trip downtown now that’s another story. It’s now Week 5 of 24 of my medication, through true grit & determination I have found a balance, and shared with not only my friends & family but also my blog followers this new course that my life has taken, and while I was nervous about revealing the mask, I knew it had to be done, so that I could find balance. As a result I vowed to be honest in how I’m handling it and share the emotions as I move through this time because as the blog post highlighted above written by Jaqueline I’m not alone… there are thousands of us out there who have to be in this fight for the long haul and while I know my core friends will be by myside there are others who will fall by the wayside or stay by the wayside in the form of my ex because they either are burnt out from the process of not knowing how to support a chronically ill person or don’t believe that the illness is real (but that’s a whole new blog post) and it’s not about their rejection of me… or my illness it’s something way deeper inside of them that they need to reconcile than I have time for at this time. Blunt but true.

Here is what I’ve done to find balance.

  1. I notified HR & Executive Management that I am on this 6mo protocol that I was doing everything I could to be working 100% but somedays they may just get 50% out of me, and considering I’ve given them over 200% over the 6yrs I’ve been employed, I hope they would understand… They are being incredibly supportive working with within the timeline of 6mo and I hope and pray that within that 6mo I can get back to health I had just 3 months ago only time will tell {insert prayer}
  2. I’m cooking meals in volume x3 when I have the strength so that I can maintain a freezer full of food that is healthful to my families’ health, on the days when I can’t cook from scratch!
  3. I’ve accepted friends offer of help… this is REALLY hard for me, but I know it’s really important at this time to take these offers of help while they are there
  4. I’m not sweating the small stuff, my energy gets spent on getting my daughter to school, being well enough to pick her up and help her with her homework and be the person she wants to come home to!
  5. I am in bed 10 minutes after my daughter – there is nothing going on in this house that can’t wait 6 months, maybe other than cleaning/laundry
  6. I switched my cleaner from bi weekly to weekly… if I’m not sweating the small stuff.. the cleaning has to get done 😉
  7. I’m giving myself TIME to heal… yes, despite myself saying that I didn’t have time to be sick, my body is telling me differently, I NEED to give myself the time to be sick and I need to manage this all the best way I can – I’ll let you know how that goes!

Chronic illness is isolating, because while my doctor says this an initial 6 months of treatment it would be much longer. The die off and herxing I am experiencing IS real and it IS debilitating so I’ve taken a vow of honesty and I’m dropping the British Stiff Upper Lip ! I’m being open and honest with my daughter & colleagues on how I’m affected day by day because the symptoms change daily in the hope that with this honesty comes understanding that I’m a warrior going into battle, that I may stagger with the enormity of the challenge along the way but I will survive and I will become strong again, because that’s just what I do! You can too!