What To Do When The Healthier You Eat The Sicker You Get

About 6 months ago I decided to do the Autoimmune Protocol version of the Paleo diet because I felt like my immune system was constantly over-reacting, I had eczema on my legs and hands, and sore inflamed skin and severe acne on my face.  I was extremely tired most of the time, hungry all the time despite eating A LOT of whole foods and my blood sugar would regularly drop so low I felt so dizzy I could hardly stand.

When I stopped having dairy my skin improved dramatically.  My eczema cleared as did my acne and I felt great – for a few weeks, until it all started to come back again.  And it got worse, and worse.  By the end of March the skin on my face was pretty much constantly sore and inflamed with multiple acne lesions.  It looked ‘angry’ and was so sensitive I didn’t even want to touch it to wash my face.  I had also been quite ill with nausea and flu-like symptoms three times whereas before I had very rarely gotten sick, and was having on and off mild constipation whereas before I had ‘gone’ freely once or twice a day.  I had started having difficulty falling and staying asleep (even when my son didn’t wake me) and my formally very strong nails were starting to weaken and come away from the nailbed.  I needed to urinate quite frequently and my urine was smelling very strong.  My eyesight was also deteriorating and I often felt like I couldn’t see clearly either with or without my glasses.

At first I thought the flu symptoms and skin problems might be a detox type reaction.  Sometimes as your body heals you get worse before you get better as your body releases toxins.  Unfortunately though, I never got better.

In the glow of getting better from stopping eating dairy, I asked my husband to see if a gluten and dairy free diet would help our daughter’s skin and behaviour issues.  She too got itchy skin (mild eczema) on her legs and also on her arms.  Behaviourally she was sensitive and anxious.  She also had huge tantrums on a regular basis and was contrary about just about everything – even obvious things like for example once when we were driving in the country I pointed out some horses to our son but my daughter insisted they were cows – she is eight, she was not confused, it’s just like she throws up walls in defiance of whatever people say.  Some of it may just be personality or kids being kids but I have always felt that it was more than that.  I previously worked as a teacher and youth worker for over 10 years and to me our daughter’s behaviour is more extreme than normal.

My husband agreed to join us trialling a dairy and gluten-free Paleo diet for a month and then he liked the results and wanted to continue to eat that way.  I was so happy that he and I were finally on the same page in terms of dietary health.  It was so nice to be able to do it together.

However, like me, my daughter’s health did not improve, it got worse.  Her behaviour did also not improve dramatically although I did observe some improvement when I started giving her an iron supplement.  My daughter developed a rash on her inner elbow that has not responded to any treatment we have tried.  She had also been complaining more frequently of sore stomachs and nausea, and often had difficulty getting to sleep and was waking during the night.

My husband was doing really well.  He had lost weight and was feeling good.  He hardly snored any more and seemed more positive, but it felt like the healthier my daughter and I ate, the sicker we got.

So, at the end of March I accepted something was wrong.  I had identified a number of foods and environmental factors which seemed to trigger the inflammation and acne in my skin, but even if I avoided these my skin didn’t substantially clear.  The list also seemed quite random.  I couldn’t see a link between the triggers.  Then I read that salicylate sensitivity is often a cause of eczema and when I looked up what foods and items contain salicylates, amost all of the foods I had identified that I was sensitive to were high in salicylates.  Moreover, many of the foods that I had started eating a lot of on the Paleo diet like olive oil, coconut oil, almond meal, avocados, cucumber and zucchini were all high in salicylates.  Lights started to go on and as I read through the symptoms of salicylate intolerance it began to make more and more sense that this could be the problem not just for me but also for my daughter.

So, at the beginning of April I started on an elimination diet to identify if salicylates, and also another compound called amines, were an issue for me.  When I started on a low salicylate diet my skin began to clear almost immediately.  It got better, but I was still having problems.  One day it was particularly bad after I had a meal high in garlic, onions and leeks and someone suggested that sulphites might be a problem for me too.  Avoiding those did result in an improvement in my skin, but one of the biggest challenges is not only identifying what I am reacting to but also what those compounds are in as it is not always obvious.

It has been an intense month of research and trial and error.  It has felt like a lot of error and little success.  I have had to go back to eating grains because pretty much all vegies seem to cause problems for me.  This has taken a bit to get my head around mentally as well as the practicality of diet changes because all the foods that I have come to regard as the most nutrient dense and digestible ie best to eat for optimum health such as sprouted foods, fermented foods, organ meats, fruits and vegetablesseem to contain compounds that make me sick.

On Tuesday I am going to see a  dietitian who specialises in food intolerances of this sort to see if I do intend have an intolerance to these compounds and to try and come up with a way to manage them because there seem to be very few foods I can eat without problems.

This is proving to be quite a stressful time and I am not sure where to go in terms of this website because my daughter and I will struggle to eat a Paleo diet if our food intolerances are confirmed.

At the moment I’m just breathing, trying to take one day at a time and be gentle with myself.  I am working on making some lifestyle changes to incorporate more ‘me’ time into each week too because I know that reducing my stress levels and upping my personal happiness is critical to my regaining better health.  It will also make for a happier family too I think.

So, that’s where I’m at currently and not sure where to from here, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do  : )

Warmly, Janine

 

 

 

What Gift Is Coming Your Way?

Pebble in HandsI think the universe/God/the Force/life (however you see the guiding energy of this world) loves me.  Loves us all.

I am always amazed at how life seems to bring me the things that I need.  Those things may not always come in a pleasant package or in the timing I would prefer, but somehow or other they come.

A gift has come my way lately.  I always used to wonder about people who reacted to essential oils and natural products.  I always thought, ‘how can anything natural cause problems?’.  I was definitely in the natural is best camp and to be honest I was a little sceptical about people who said they couldn’t tolerate things like natural fragrances.  Now I realise I am one of them, and suspect I have unknowingly been for a long time.  I am currently doing an elimination diet for suspected sensitivities to compounds called amines and salicylates.  These compounds are abundant in plants, especially in fruits and seeds. I have realised that I am reacting to my natural skincare products – most likely to the essential oils and seed oils in them.  As a result I stopped using them and tried using plain cocoa butter as my body moisturiser this morning instead.  Over the course of the morning the smell of it began to irritate me and give me a headache and then the skin on my face (I didn’t put it on my face) began to tingle and developed a mild burning itch which only began to settle down towards evening.  I reacted to the cocoa butter – to plain organic cocoa butter!  After a google search I  discovered it is likely high in amines and other people with amine intolerances also react strongly to it.  I reacted to just the smell (fumes) of it!

So what’s my gift from the universe?  Along with possibly the key to what is causing my skin and health issues, my gift has been compassion and understanding for others experiencing the same thing.  My gift is a new level of understanding.

I gained a similar knowledge and compassion when my first marriage ended.  I had always thought that you could make any relationship work if you tried hard enough, and to be honest was a little judgemental towards people who were or had been divorced.  I learned by experience that I was wrong, and I hope that I now have more understanding and acceptance towards others.

Some people see this phenomenon as the ‘Universe teaching you the lessons you need to learn’, but I prefer to see it more as the universe/God/life helping you to grow if you are open to it.  I think that it is more of a ‘law of attraction’ type thing.  If you are in acceptance of all that life brings, and open to learning from all your experiences then I think it draws circumstances to you that will enrich you in some way.  The gift you receive may be a tangible object, or an answer you seek or simply increased humility and wisdom.

So don’t be afraid to pass through the fires of life.  Such experiences may be hard or painful at the time, but if we approach them with an open heart they can give us invaluable treasures in terms of the people we become and the relationships we build.

Trust that what you need will come somehow, sometime as a surprising gift.  In my experience it always does, because I expect that it always will.

facebook-iconWarmly, Janine

Cashew Nut Cream Cheese

cashewcheese(Gluten-free, dairy-free, low salicylate, Paleo)

This recipe is based on one in the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook by Michelle Tam.  The recipe in the book uses macadamia nuts, but I use cashew nuts because they are low in salicylates.  Blanched almonds would probably also be ok.

Michelle Tam makes hers in a food processor, but my food processor doesn’t get it smooth enough so I use a stick blender, but I have to chop the nuts up in the food processor or by hand first.

Ideally, soak the nuts in warm, salted water (1 tablespoon salt per litre of water) for 6-12 hours before using.  This helps to remove substances such as enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid which make nuts hard to digest.  Even so, nuts, like grains and legumes, are not a good food because they contain a lot of elements which are damaging to our digestive system and relatively low levels of bio-available nutrients.   Nuts are also expensive to buy.  I consider them an eat occasionally treat food.

I make this nut cream cheese as a dip for the kids or as a ‘sauce’ to spread on the base of pizza instead of tomato based sauces or dairy cheese.

Cashew Nut Cream Cheese

2 cups soaked/rinsed cashew nuts (can be still wet or dried)
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from a just ripe, just picked lemon
about 1/2 cup water

Put all the ingredients into a food processor, stick blender canister or power blender and grind the mix until it forms a smooth paste.  Add more water if needed.

Let the mix sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using to let the flavours blend.  Use within 4-5 days.

Variation
Add one clove crushed garlic

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Is this the cause of our skin problems?

 My brave, barefaced selfie


My brave, barefaced selfie

I have been on the autoimmune protocol (AIP) version of the Paleo diet for about 5 months now.  Over the last few days I have been getting frustrated because my acne and facial skin sensitivity has been worse since I have been following this diet.  I thought that it might flare-up and then clear, but it has never settled, it just seems to keep getting worse.  After a particularly bad week I went back to the books, in particular, The Healthy Skin Diet book by Karen Fischer, to search for some possible answers as to what was going wrong.

I found something interesting.  In the section on eczema Karen Fischer noted that eczema is often caused by a salicylate intolerance or sensitivity.  After a fair bit of internet searching I also found that acne is often caused by salicylate intolerance, along with fatigue, hyperactivity, behavioural problems and irritable bowel syndrome.  That pretty much sums up the main symptoms of myself, my daughter and my son.

When I looked up the list of foods high in salicylates – it was pretty much a list of all the foods I had noticed I was sensitive too.  I had always thought it was a pretty random, disparate list, but now there was something that linked them all together.

Moreover, since I have been on the AIP I have been eating more high salicylate foods like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, zucchini and almonds.  So has my daughter, and she has also been eating a lot of fruit and berries in smoothies and home-made ice-blocks.  Since she has been on the Paleo diet she has developed a rash of small bumps on her inner left elbow that won’t seem to go away.

I do not think that the Paleo diet is a problem.  I still think it is one of the healthiest ways to eat and live.  It is just that for us, a lot of common Paleo foods are also high in salicyilates and it appears that we may be sensitive to them.

The only way to test for salicylate sensitivity with any real accuracy is with an elimination and challenge diet.  Great, another one!  So, off we go again.  Back to the food list and food diary drawing board, but if the outcome is clear, calm skin for me it will be worth it.

I’ll keep you posted on the outcomes.

facebook-iconWarmly, Janine

Which are the best grain-free, Paleo friendly noodles?

There are three main grain-free, paleo-friendly noodles that I am aware of: Kelp, Konjac and Squash.  I have now tried all three and thought I would do a comparison to help others decide on the best option(s) for them.

kelpnoodlesKelp Noodles

I bought a 340g packet of Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles for $8.09  from Piko Wholefoods in Christchurch.

One packet theoretically contains 3 servings and per 113g serve the noodles have 1g carbohydrates, 1g fibre and 35mg sodium.  Kelp is a source of iodine and a number of other trace minerals for example kelp noodles typically provide 15 percent of your daily calcium needs and four percent of your daily iron needs per serving.  However, be aware that kelp noodles are not really a raw food – they are processed.  Kelp noodles are made from the processed extract of seaweed called sodium alginate.  Sodium alginate has almost no nutritional value. It is a non-digestible complex sugar that is used in the food industry as a thickener in other foods.

The packet says that you can just rinse the noodles and eat them raw.  They are slightly crunchy raw – I prefer them lightly cooked which makes them nice and ‘al dente’.  I found their taste and texture similar to mung bean noodles/vermicelli.

Pros:
Slightly nutritious
Pleasant flavour and texture
Quick and easy to prepare and can be eaten raw
Low in carbohydrate
Helpful for weight-loss in that they help you feel full but are very low in calories

Cons
Quite expensive
Quite high in sodium – rinse them well and be wary of adding too much extra salt
Low in fibre
Bland flavour – need to add sauces/flavourings
High in salicylates so not suitable for those with a salicylate sensitivity

slendierKonjac Noodles

Konjac noodles have been around for a while sold under various names, mainly in Asian food stores.  They have just become widely available here in New Zealand in the form of Slendier noodles which are the ones I bought.

Konjac (Amorphophallus konjac) is an Asian root vegetable similar to a potato in texture but without the starchy carbs or protein or kilojoules.  It can be ground into flour and then made into noodles.

Konjac consists of about 40 per cent of a type of soluble fibre called glucomannan.  Like other soluble fibres such as guar or psyllium, glucomannan has the ability to slow down the passage of food though the digestive tract, lower cholesterol and help you feel fuller.  There also appears to be evidence that this fibre helps absorb toxins from your digestive system, reduces LDL cholesterol, acts as a prebiotic feeding good (probiotic) bacteria and helps balance blood sugar levels.

One packet of organic fettuccine style Slendier noodles cost me $5.29 at Countdown.  The organic ones are slightly more expensive than the non-organic.

One packet theoretically contains about 3 servings and per 125g serve the noodles have 1g carbohydrates, 6.3g fibre and <5mg sodium.

I found the noodles similar in taste and texture to Asian rice noodles.  They were a little more rubbery than the kelp noodles.  They are quick and easy to prepare, just drain the noodles then cook them in boiling water for about a minute (longer cooking doesn’t seem to change the texture).

Pros
Quick and easy to prepare
Low in carbohydrate
Cheaper than kelp noodles
Helpful for weight-loss in that they help you feel full but are very low in calories
Noodles hold their shape with long cooking

Cons
Texture and bland flavour may be off-putting to some people
Bland flavour – need to add sauces/flavourings
Very little nutritional value
High fibre content may cause gas in some people, although there are claims that this type of fibre doesn’t

meatballonzugettiSquash Noodles

Squash noodles are something you can easily make at home simply by grating zucchini, marrow or other firm squash into thin strips using a mandoline or spiralizer and then lightly cooking them in salted water.

Zucchini and marrow have about the same amount of carbohydrates as the kelp and konjac noodles (slightly more) and a small amount of fibre.  They do contain a reasonable amount of vitamin C and some B vitamins, and small amounts of a number of minerals including iron, potassium and manganese.

Pros
Relatively cheap to make (definitely the cheapest of the three noodles reviewed here)
Low in carbohydrates
Some nutritional content

Cons
Preparation time is slightly more and you need special equipment (though mandolines are easy and cheap to buy)
It is a bit tricky to get the cooking right so that the texture is soft but firm.  It is easy to overcook them and they go mushy
Bland flavour – need to add sauces/flavourings

Summary

All three types of noodles: kelp, konjac and squash have a relatively bland taste and little nutritional value.  They are good as ‘fillers’ to add some interest to your meals, but are not suitable as a staple food because of their poor nutrient value.

Personally, I would only buy the kelp and konjac noodles as an occasional ‘treat’ for something a bit different because I would rather spend my grocery money on food that is more nutrient-dense.

I do make squash noodles from time to time because they are cheap and relatively easy to make.  After reviewing the options I will just stick with those as my day to day choice.

What do you think?

Have you tried kelp or konjac noodles?

facebook-iconWarmly, Janine

 

 

 

 

Elixir of Youth that also helps prevent colds and flu

bonebrothChicken, beef and fish stock made traditionally by boiling the bones,skin and ligaments of animals together with water is rich in a number of components that are extremely beneficial for our health and our looks.  Many of these components are sold as health supplements, e.g. collagen and glucosamine, but you can save a lot of money by getting them from home-made broth.

Here’s what Catherine Shanahan MD has to say about the benefits of bone broth: “glucosamine can actually stimulate the growth of new, healthy collagen and help repair damaged joints.  And collagen isn’t just in your joints; it’s in bone, and skin, and arteries, and hair, and just about everywhere in between.  This means that glucosamine-rich broth is a kind of youth serum, capable of rejuvenating your body, no matter what your age.”  pg 135 Deep Nutrition – Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food.

Traditional bone broth (stock) is easy to make and is high in:

  • sulphur, collagen and hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) for clear, firm, soft skin
  • glycosaminoglycans (including glucosamine) for strong, healthy joints
  • glycine – an amino acid needed for your body to make anti-aging glutathione
and if you make it from chicken bones:
  • cysteine which reduces mucus in the body making it great for easing colds
A good bone broth lubricates your joints, aids digestion, improves your skin and tastes great! The best broth has a jelly-like consistency to it from the gelatin in the bones.
How to Use Stock/Broth
When it is cold the obvious use for bone broth is as the base for soups, stews and casseroles.  You can also use it to make gravy by thickening it with tapioca/arrowroot flour (about 1 tablespoon flour to one cup of stock).  In the warmer months I add chicken stock to my salad dressings and my son and I like to eat cold chicken ‘jelly’ ie set bone broth from the fridge cut into cubes.  A cup of plain hot broth is as soothing as a cup of tea, and makes a nourishing snack.  Lastly, broth/stock is a good substitute for butter/cream/milk to use when mashing vegetables.

How To Make Bone Broth/Stock

(a note: I make bone broth a couple of times a week and have a cup of it for breakfast every morning.  However, I usually don’t have the time/energy to add all the vegetable ingredients so I just make it with plain beef bones or chicken carcasses.  Also, my son and I currently can’t tolerate much acidic food so I also leave out the vinegar/lemon juice, but I wouldn’t advise doing this as the acid releases more nutrients from the bones.  I eat lots of veges and salad so I am ok with missing them out in the broth making process.  The broth doesn’t taste quite as flavoursome, but I still get the main beneficial components.)

Ingredients
1-2 chicken carcasses (including feet and necks) or equivalent fish, beef or lamb bones
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 – 4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 strip of kombu seaweed (optional but it adds minerals)
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 medium – large onion (red is best) roughly chopped
4 sticks of celery roughly chopped
1 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 whole carrot scrubbed but unpeeled roughly chopped
Combine the bones, vinegar and seaweed in a large saucepan or slow-cooker, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-48 hours for chicken bones and 12-72 hours for beef.  Add the herbs and vegetables for the last hour or two of cooking.  The broth is ready when the bones are softened or crumbly.
During the cooking time you may need to occasionally remove any scum that rises to the surface and add water to keep the ingredients covered.
Strain out all the pieces and the remaining strained liquid is your stock. If you are going to use the broth later, let it cool and then remove the fat that hardens on the top (you can make beef fat into tallow). Keep the broth in the fridge for up to 5 days (2 days for fish stock) or freeze it.
Any soft bones that you strain out can be fed to your pets.
Variation
You can increase the level of calcium and other minerals in the broth by adding some eggshells with the bones or if you make bone broth regularly keep the beef bones from the previous batch of broth and add them to the next one as well.
Steak and liver trimmings to put into my stock

Steak and liver trimmings to put into my stock

I also often add raw meat trimmings to my stock such as the sinewy bits off steak or liver.  They add extra flavour and nutrients, and I avoid wasting food whenever I can.
Warmly, Janine
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Reduce Stress With This One Quick Tip

clockGet Up Earlier.

That’s probably not something you want to hear – a) because it’s hard and b) because getting up earlier usually also means needing to go to bed earlier.

However, lately I have been getting up earlier because my son has just gone into a full size bed and now has a clock with an ‘alarm’ that goes off at 6am.  He is usually awake before then but has to stay in bed until ‘elephant wakes up and opens his eyes (see picture for my son’s elephant clock).

While sometimes it is a struggle to get out of bed at this time, especially if I haven’t slept well, I have found that once I am up I generally feel better than when I used to stay in bed and doze on and off until a later time.

I have also found that I can get all the ‘family stuff’ done in the morning with less rush and so consequently I feel less stressed in the mornings (and we are usually closer to being on time to things like pre-school).

Having an extra hour or so in the morning to get things done seems to make a big difference in reducing ‘rush’ stress all day.  It’s like the doctor’s – when they get behind in one or two morning appointments it puts the whole day out.

What are your thoughts?

facebook-iconWarmly, Janine

 

 

Is this why you can’t lose weight?

deepnutritionI read this today in the book Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan MD and Luke Shananhan, and thought that I would share it.  The bold bits are my added emphasis.

“On a pro-inflammatory diet, our physiology starts making fat cells so fast you’d think it were some kind of nervous habit. . .

In patients with age-related dementia, grey matter gets replaced by cells containing excessive amounts of fat.  Osteoporotic bones have had bone-forming cells replaced by fat cells.  And fatty liver, a common cause of indigestion and GERD symptoms (like heartburn), is caused by fat cell formation at the expense of normal, functioning liver cells.  To put all this in terms of the larger regulatory picture, when muscle, bone, gland and nerve cells are denied a full complement of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and so on, they seem to take that denial as a signal to dedifferentiate and start storing fat.  With so many cells abandoning their posts in healthy tissues to join the growing ranks of  fat cells, you can imagine how poorly these tissues function.  This whole degenerative process can be expedited in the presence of cortisol from stress and lack of sleep, or from the many inflammatory factors that build up from lack of exercise.  An imbalanced diet, which releases still more inflammatory signals, makes things even worse.

Fat-making may seem like the body’s default reaction, but really it’s just the default reaction in periods of stress and nutrient deprivation.  When the body gets all the real food, exercise, and rest that it needs, the default reaction is to convert unwanted fat cells into something better. . . 

Some nutrient deficiencies and stress levels are so severe, however, that it becomes increasingly difficult to ship nutrients throughout the body effectively.  If sugar and fatty acids can’t make the journey from wherever they were (usually your digestive system) into a proper fat-storage cell, then they end up lining your arteries, seeping into your tendons, and polluting your body.  Now, instead of building fat, you just get sick.  White blood cells will have to enter these polluted segments of artery, joint, or any other compromised tissue and try to clean up the mess.  But white blood cells cause inflammation, which damages tissues (including arterial walls), makes your joints hurt, and clots your blood.  This is why a diet that makes you fat also makes you feel bad, raises your blood pressure, and causes diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, and so many other diseases. . .

Cancer is a consequence of unhealthy cell communication: The cell mutates because it receives abnormal chemical instructions. . . Many cancer cells produce hormones to maintain a state of constant growth, unrestrained by the body’s instructions.  Like cancer, fat produces inflammatory factors that stimulate its own growth.  More fat sends a louder signal to the body to create still more fat. And fat cells invade other tissues, just as cancer does.  Even thin people can, through poor diet, encourage fat to infiltrate healthy tissues.  When fat invades, we develop cellulite, weakened bones, and brain and muscle atrophy. . . Obesity behaves like a self-sustaining tumor, and anyone who is overweight can feel trapped in its vicious cycle.  I see people whose losing battle against their weight has them as frightened as someone with cancer, willing to pay anything for a cure.

Fortunately, fat cells can be retrained.

A key point of my message is that our cells react to the signals we send them through diet and activity, and they do their best to comply.  Once you’ve cleared your body of inflammation, then exercise helps your body know what to do with the food it gets.  It’s like sending a wish list to your cells . . . ” (pp 250 -253)

Calorie restriction without exercise tells your body to convert stem cells into fat cells as soon as you start eating again.  And the body doesn’t just wait patiently.  It cranks up your appetite to prod you into increasing your food-seeking efforts while readying fat cells you already have to receive any forthcoming bounty.  When you do finally eat a full meal, your body rushes energy into storage – hence the typical yoyo cycle of weight loss and rapid gain with small portion diets.

For as long as you manage to deal with your hunger, your body is forced to start using up fat cells – just as you’d hoped – but will also mine other tissues for vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.  These tissues can include brain, connective tissue, and muscle.  Of course, since muscle burns calories all by itself, once you start losing muscle it becomes harder to lose weight.  The lesson here is that hunger is not the way to reshape your body.  Here in Hawaii, the surfers have a saying: Never fight the ocean.  If you want an athletic, svelte, attractive figure, then don’t fight your body.  Call a truce by eating foods from the Four Pillars, exercising, cutting stress, and getting a full night’s sleep.” (pp 249-250)

I think the answer to obtaining and maintaining a slim, healthy, athletic body is a relatively simple A, B, C:

A) Avoid key inflammatory factors such as chronic stress, insufficient quality sleep, consumption of refined vegetable oils and excess sugars, and over-exposure to chemical and environmental pollutants.

B) Eat a high nutrient whole-foods diet ie eat food as close to its natural state as possible and include nutrient dense foods like bone broth, offal and fermented and sprouted foods.

C) Be active in your daily life – walk when you can, play with your kids, hang washing on the line rather than putting it in the dryer, make your own food etc. You don’t necessarily need to be a gym bunny – just move far more than you sit each day.

But while this is simple in theory, many people struggle to practice it either because they don’t know how eg they don’t know how to cook or because it is too hard to go against the mainsteam flow, or because they simply do not want to give up the taste of processed foods or the ease of sitting front of the tv.

I can’t help those people who are not ready to change their lifestyle and diet habits.  But for those people who do want to change, one of the things I aim to do through this website is share my learnings to try and make it as easy and economical as possible to eat an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich diet and live a relaxed, happy life.

REYGcovertinyThat is also why I wrote my book Relax and Eat Yourself Gorgeous.  I wrote it after running a series of workshops and seeing that people needed a step by step guide to help them establish healthy habits in their lives in order to obtain and maintain weight-loss and health.  Relax and Eat Yourself Gorgeous is available as a Kindle book for only US$4.52 so its very cheap if you want to check it out.

I would love to know your thoughts about the information in this post so feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook.

facebook-iconWarmly, Janine

 

 

Easy Way To Make A Healthy Cooking Fat

tallowTallow and Lard are traditional cooking fats that are cheap and easy to make at home.  Tallow is made from beef fat and lard is made from pig fat.  But, you say, are you insane! – those fats are highly saturated and will give me a heart attack if I simply have them in the fridge!
Yes, I know mainstream media still persists in telling us that saturated fat is bad and causes disease but independent (not funded by food companies who like cheap processed vegetable oils so they can make big profits from highly shelf stable processed foods) research finds no link between eating NATURALLY MADE, UNPROCESSED saturated fats and heart disease or any other disease.  In fact, independent research finds that natural, unprocessed saturated fats are beneficial for our health and that polyunsaturated fats like those found in vegetable oils cause high levels of inflammation and disease.
It does take a bit to get your head around this because the ‘polyunsaturated fats are healthiest’ message has been drummed into us for about 40 years.  But once you do, and you rediscover the wonderful taste of foods cooked in animal fats like tallow, lard, butter and bacon fat, you will be reaching for your fry-pan with little dances of joy.
Here are some of the benefits of using tallow or lard for cooking:
  • Tallow and lard add wonderful flavour to food reducing the need for other added flavours (eg chemical flavouring powders, sugar and salt)
  • For us in New Zealand tallow and lard are a local food source and using them moves towards a more ethical prctice of using all parts of animals killed for food
  • Tallow and lard are cheap – I buy organic beef bones for making bone broth for about $5.  This usually gives me about 2 litres of stock and about 1/2-1 cup of tallow.
Nutritionally:
  • Tallow and lard actually contain a good balance of saturated and monounsaturated fats. Pork fat (lard) is about 40% saturated, 49% monounsaturated, and beef  and mutton fat (tallow) is about 50-55% saturated and 40% monounsaturated
  • Saturated fat is the best fat for cooking with.  This is because it almost completely stable and will not oxidise when exposed to heat (monounsaturated fat is moderately stable, but polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable when exposed to heat and light and should never be used for cooking)
  • Lard and tallow are rich in fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K
  • Lard and tallow both contain antimicrobial palmitoleic acid
  • The main component of beef fat is stearic acid which helps balance cholesterol
  • Saturated fat is needed to properly incorporate calcium into our bones
  • Saturated fats enhance our immune and digestive systems
  • Cholesterol is needed for our body to produce hormones, vitamin D and bile salts for digestion

Tallow has a rich, beefy taste and is good for frying and roasting veges.  Lard has a milder taste.  It, too, is good for frying and roasting but can also be used in baking.

How To Make Tallow or Lard
You can get chunks of fat directly from a butcher or use the fat trimmed off organic meat to make lard and tallow.  Using only quality free-range/organic fat is recommended because fat stores toxins.  I find the easiest and most cost effective way to make it is by using the fat that solidifies on top of bone broth.  This gives a smaller amount that is more usable for an average family.
The basic principle behind making tallow or lard is to heat the fat over a medium heat until it melts and gently boils.  This gets rid of any water and any sediment sinks to the bottom.  You then simply drain the melted fat off the top and leave it to harden.  I pour mine into warmed, sterilised jars (see below) because pouring the hot fat into cold glass may cause the glass to crack.
Store the cooled, hardened fat in the refrigerator.  It keeps for a very long time.
Making Tallow/Lard from Bone Broth Fat
tallowinpot
When making lard and tallow from the fat on top bone broth, simply allow the bone broth to cool and then skim the solid fat off the top.  Put the fat into a saucepan and heat the saucepan over a medium-low heat so that the fat just gently simmers for about 10-30 minutes.  It does smell a bit so ventilate your kitchen as much as possible while you do this.  When you can see all the sediment settled at the bottom of the saucepan, but before it starts to darken and burn, gently pour the melted fat off the top through a sieve into a warmed jar leaving any sediment in the bottom of the saucepan.tallowdrained
Sterilising Jars
To sterilise jars wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and then dry them in the oven at 100 degrees Celcius.
Go on, give it a go and enjoy it knowing you are nourishing your body as well as pleasing your taste-buds.
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Paleo Ginger-nuts

gingernutsHere in New Zealand we have a well-known packet biscuit called Gingernuts which are very hard, mildly sweet biscuits commonly dunked in tea.

I thought I would have a go at making a ginger flavoured Paleo-friendly biscuit.  I like to add spices to my cooking whenever I can because they are so beneficial and nutritious.  Ginger is anti-inflammatory and beneficial for your digestive system. Cinnamon is high in anti-oxidants, is anti-bacterial and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.  Both are good for helping to prevent and alleviate coughs and colds so extra good as we in New Zealand head into Autumn and Winter.

This biscuit is a mildly sweet nutty ginger biscuit – not really like a Griffins Gingernut but nice all the same.  It has a softer, slightly chewy texture so you might want to serve it with your tea rather than in it.

Paleo Ginger-nuts – The Recipe

  • 1/2 cup fat of choice – I usually use 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup cocoa butter or coconut oil (both of the latter fats impart a slight sweetness).  You could also try palm shortening or ghee or butter.
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger (or fresh ground ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt/Celtic sea salt/Himalayan salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

If the fat you are using is solid then melt it in a saucepan over a low heat.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius and grease (I use coconut oil to do this) two flat oven/cookie baking trays.

Put the fat, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and egg in a bowl together and beat until smooth.  I use a hand held electric mixer to do this.  Add the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla and mix gently until combined.

Put spoonfuls onto the greased baking trays.  Once all the mix is spooned out then with a damp fork (I dip it in a mug of water) press the cookies into a flattish round shape.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for about 10 minutes and then use a spatula to slide them off and put them on a rack to cool completely.

Either store the biscuits in an airtight container in the cupboard/pantry or freeze them.  I usually leave some out and freeze the rest because they keep better that way – although with multiple hungry mouths round here they don’t last long.  I might have to start making double batches!

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Warmly, Janine