Best Cauliflower-Rice Pilaf EVER (bonus: weeknight stir-fry idea)

 

I regularly experiment with cauliflower rice.  I am always looking for new ways to turn this  vegetable magic into an even-better pilaf to go with a variety of new dishes. Kinda funny since I wasn’t a rice person- but I love anyway to get more servings of vegetables while making them taste new and more exciting.

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I was thinking Moroccan or Indian when I made this but confess that I know little about either cuisine.. so not sure what this qualifies as being.. but here is the Best Cauliflower Rice Pilaf EVER! It is so delicious and I wanted to share this with you because it seems that unless you add it to a Mexican dish or make it Lime-Cilantro there is not a whole bunch of variations available to us – until now.

This dish goes great with Asian or Indian stir-fries and has inspired me to try to venture into some new ethnic cuisines.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.. maybe.

ASIAN CAULIFLOWER RICE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 CUPS CAULIFLOWER, RICED.  Directions below.
  • 1 PINCH SEA SALT
  • 1 PINCH SAFFRON
  • 2 GARLIC CLOVES, MINCED (I have used up to 5 large so you really cannot go wrong with adding more if you are a garlic person)
  • 1 TEASPOON MINCED OR GRATED GINGER- about 1 inch piece
  • 4 TABLESPOONS COCONUT OIL
  • A PINCH OF CAYENNE PEPPER (for AIP use turmeric instead or just omit this. It is not crucial to the taste)
  • DIRECTIONS

  • place the raw chopped cauliflower into a food processor and turn on high until it resembles rice or couscous.  I hear that Trader Joe’s sells cauliflower already “riced” in the frozen foods but I have not used it before but am sure it would work just fine if you have access to that.
  • Mince the garlic. Take out a large pan and heat the oil over medium heat. If you prefer to start with less oil that is fine but remember that the cauliflower will absorb the oil so have some more on hand in case you need it to prevent sticking.
  • When the oil is heated, put the garlic into the pan and grate ginger into the pan. I would aim for a measurement of ginger that is equal to the size of the tip of your finger or thumb. I covered the span of the pan twice with my grated ginger.  To make grating ginger easy, keep the ginger frozen so that when you grate it there is no stringiness. You can take it out e to eat it all the time.. but I suggest you eat it as often as you can for the taste and health benefits.
  • Add in the cauliflower and fold or stir the mixture together, adding a generous pinch of saffron to the mix.  The “rice” should turn a slight yellow color although it won’t be bright.
  • Sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt and a light sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Stir occasionally over the next 4 minutes and either serve or turn to low with a lid on to keep warm while you wait for the rest of your meal to be ready.  As I mentioned, it is great with a stir fry or curry. Below is what I ate with mine if you need an idea

BONUS RECIPE

EASY WEEKNIGHT INDIAN CURRY

  • 12 OUNCES OF LEG OF LAMB, CUT INTO BITE SIZE CHUNKS
  • 1 CUP LEEKS, CHOPPED
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
  • 2 CUPS OF VEGETABELES, CHOPPED (I USED YELLOW SQUASH BUT CARROTS OR ZUCCHINI WOULD ALSO BE VERY TASTY)
  • 2 TABLESPOONS COCONUT OIL
  • 1/4 TO 1/2 TEASPOON OF STORE BOUGHT ORGANIC CURRY POWDER OR (FOR AIP) 1/4 TEASPOON TURMERIC AND 1 INCH OF GRATED FRESH GINGER

DIRECTIONS

  • Stir-fry vegetables and meat over medium heat and sprinkle with the curry powder with desired amount of spice blend.  I used enough to cover the food.

TIP: The entire meal is great garnished with fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro and a lime wedge if desired. Making my stir-fry first and letting it cook while I prepped the Cauliflower Rice made the entire meal take about 25 minutes including cleaning as I went. I used a large pan so that when they were both done I could mix them together before serving. I feel like this is a recipe for the whole family, provided your family likes ethnic foods. It really hit the spot as I crave excitement in my food and love to share my successes with you! As always, to your health.

 

Comforting Meatball Stew

Lately I’ve been dreaming of cooler weather.  I want boots, cool breezes and have even been thinking of soups. (Of course it’s still very warm here in Alabama)  blogstewpicSo I gave into the soup idea not just because I’m ready for fall but also because I’m super busy this week and need nutritious food for my family without a lot of time in the kitchen and not a lot of cleaning time spent after.  So soup it is! But because I’m not so big on soup most of the time, it had to be good and it had to be comfort food!  Stew it is!  I knew I wanted a gravy like consistency and ground beef is what I had on hand so I put these things together and it was even better the next day.  Best part: only had to do dishes once!  Ok, Meatball stew it is:) The recipe is as follows:

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

1 cup fresh parsley

1 cup chopped leeks or other type onion

2 cups white sweet potatoes

2 cups chopped vegetables (I used carrots, green beans and cabbage but any type vegetable that you have on hand will do.  Root vegetables are most traditional)

2 large cloves of garlic

2 quarts bone broth

Sea Salt- about a teaspoon, divided

1/4 teaspoon thyme

black pepper to taste (omit for AIP)

bacon drippings or other cooking fat

1/4 cup arrowroot powder or 1 cup cauliflower, steamed for a low carb option (make extra in case you want it thicker)

In a crockpot or medium to large stock pot, pour the bone broth and begin to heat this on medium low for a pot and high on a crockpot.  If choosing the low carb option, simply put the cauliflower into the broth and blend with a hand-stick blender until the desired consistency is achieved.  If you are using arrowroot, then it is important that you do not add anything else to the soup before you have this heated, as it will make your “gravy” lumpy and you will be unable to stir it to get it smooth.  When the broth is warm, you will add the arrowroot and use a whisk to blend thoroughly to prevent clumping.   Small clumps will dissipate as it cooks and are not a big deal.  If your broth did not gel, you may also add some grass-fed beef gelatin for extra nutrition and gut health benefits. I added 2-3 tablespoons to mine because my batch did not get like I wanted.

in a food processor, mix the parsley and leeks and process till the mixture is finely chopped.  Add approximately 1/2 cup of this to your ground beef meatballsblogpicinto a mixing bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of your sea salt and about 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, if using this.  Combine mixture thoroughly and then form into meatballs.  I use smaller meatballs but the size is your preference.

In a cast iron or  stainless steel pan, heat some oil over medium low heat.  Brown lightly the meatballs on at least 2 sides, but try not to cook them all the way through.  It is ok if you do, but even better if they finish cooking in the soup.  If you don’t brown them in the skillet first, they will not stay together in the soup and you will just have hamburger stew.  If you like that idea, skip the meatball step and just brown the meat in the skillet partially before adding it to the soup.

Add the meatballs or ground beef mixture to the broth and turn the broth to a low simmer for a slow cook.  Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the parsley/leek mixture.  Add the salt gradually or at the end to make sure the saltiness is at the level you prefer.  I like mine less so I added only an additional 1/2 teaspoon.  My husband prefers more salty so he put some additional on his bowl.  Taste to make sure its as you prefer.

I cooked mine until the potatoes were soft.  I cooked mine in a crockpot (my crockpot was on high to speed things up) for about4 hours.  I also served it the next day and everything was even better! We got 2 light meals with this recipe for 2 adults. Serve with cauli- rice, or over mashed cauliflower/ cauliflower grits for a real comfort food treat or by itself with some paleo bread or a salad.

Other suggested vegetables besides carrots and white sweet potatoes are cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage, even broccoli.  The broth of the soup is basically gravy, which makes everything delicious!  And with good ingredients, comforting and healthy also! As always, to your health! I hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

How Perfect Do I REALLY Need to Eat? The 90/10 Approach.

Sometimes we need a day off. A day where we get to FEEL “normal”, rebel, relax, and let our hair down.  We want to be “bad”, sit on the couch with the remote control, getting sucked into a “show hole” and to say “to the hell with the world” while we eat snacks and lay like broccoli while catching up with the latest season of Game Of Thrones for an entire Day.

But what about your goals? Won’t this derail your progress? Won’t this undo all your hard work? Well, that depends… you see there are a lot of ifs, ands, or buts in this.  Either way, there may be a version of what is referred to the 90/10 method that works for your body and your goals.  the 90/10 method is where you eat like an angel 90% of the time and 10% of the time you get to be a little “bad”.   But this isnt for everyone and you also don’t want to undo all your hard work that you put in the other 90% of the time.  So let’s look at for whom this way of “cheating” (as opposed to way of eating) may work with their goals and for whom it is NOT beneficial.  After we decide if you are a person who can afford to let loose for an evening or not, then we can talk about what these cheat meals should and should can include (and DON’T include) and about the ramifications of cheating and cheating gone too far.

So if you are a candidate for the 90/10 method then it is possible for you to have your cake and eat it too, although it may need to be a grain free, refined sugar free cake.  But first let me say this: there are people who can “cheat” and still reach their goals and those who can’t.  Please remember:  I am not a doctor and more importantly, I am not YOUR doctor.  I cannot determine what is a good choice or a bad choice for you and your body.  That is between you and your doctor. So if your doctor has you on a special diet, talk to him or her about the ideas the 90/10 way of eating before you implement anything that I recommend. Ever.

Now that we have that is out of the way, let’s look at who may be a candidate for the 90/10 method and who is NOT a candidate.

Let’s take a look at the facts.  First: If you have just begun a new way of eating this article is not for you.  Shut down the computer, read another article, walk away, go do some yoga and do not veer from your new commitment.  Instead, remember why you began this in the first place.  What were your goals?  (I thought I just told you to walk away?) What did you hope to gain from this change and . Second:  If you are on a temporary program such as a fast, a 21 or 30 day commitment, a candida cleanse or if any of my versions of “cheating” are going to interrupt a new way of eating, nutritional learning curve, break a commitment or harm your health, walk away.  Third: Let’s set some ground rules so that we don’t undo months of hard work in one night.

Ground Rules: The rules for a completely healthy individual are different for someone who is dealing with chronic illness or is trying to prevent a disease or heal from one.  If you are completely healthy then setting ground rules gets extra points for taking an interest in your health. So how healthy are you really? If you have any suspicion that you may or may not have leaky gut then consequences of some food choices have bigger ramifications than others.  For example, if you have digestive orders, autoimmune, diabetes, a genetic risk of alzheimer’s or cancer, chronic infections, malabsorption of nutrients, vitamin deficiencies, food sensitivities or allergies, chronic illness of ANY kind or a suppressed immune system, then more often than not, you may have leaky gut. Even if you have healed your gut with a complete gut healing protocol then some things should be forever off limits.  This means these are NEVER foods.  The short list of these would be gluten, corn, soy and any gmo or pesticide heavy foods.  Pesticide heavy food includes fatty conventionally raised meats and meat products because the pesticides store in the fat and bones and can destroy your gut microbiome.  So rule number one for you guys and gals: NO gluten, corn, soy, gmo’s or heavy sources of pesticides.  For more information on foods that have more or less pesticides than others click here for the EWG’s list of The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen.  Rule number two:  No allergens or trigger foods.  No eliminated foods either. If you are off nightshades then stay off nightshades.  This is supposed to be a fun thing not a 6 months of paying for it thing.  Rule number 3:  Don’t move there.  One meal may be something you can get away with.  You may be able to get away with more but if you go too far, you are NOT going to feel good.  Your body NEEDS nutrition and eating too much junk and not enough vegetables is not going to give your body what you need to thrive.  So beware: This is a vacation to the land of loosey goosey not a move to Junkfoodville.  Rule number four: It’s called 90/10 not 50/50.  So let’s do the math. One meal messes up the entire day as far as getting enough veggies.  I allege this because you are going to use the room in your stomach for your “fun” meal instead of a large plate of vegetables.  You will not have room for the rest of the day’s vegetables.  I’m not going to advise to eat brownies for an entire day or ham sandwiches only even if they are made grain free, sugar free.  So out of a month of 30 days, ten percent would be 3 days.  Don’t mess up your nutritional intake for more than 3 days a month. Interrupting your nutrition for more than 3 days is no longer 90/10 and the more time you take away from moving towards your goals the longer it is going to take to get to your goals.  Do you really want to put it off any longer?

So now that we have some ground rules set, let’s talk about what we CAN eat. Depending on your individual goals and consequences you have a choice of sweet or savory treats.  My cheats usually mean too much of an allowed food and not enough servings of vegetables for that day. If I am too lazy to cook then I will eat too many fruits (this is not for everyone and comes with the consequences of blood sugar spikes.  This may cause inflammation, mood swings and if done often it will increase your risk of disease by having elevated blood sugar for extended periods of time). On the best days of cheating, it means too many of my favorite vegetables and not enough sulphurous veggies (this refers to The Wahl’s Protocol’s division of vegetables into 3 categories of Colored, Sulphurous, and Leafy Greens.  For more information click here).  Some of my favorite “cheat meals” include Wings for Dinner, Low Carb High Protein Brownies (Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free), Plantain Chip Nachos, Paleo Fish and Chips (using arrowroot for the breading and parsnips for the fries) or an H’orderve plate made with veggie or plantain chips, fruit, nuts (AIP reintro), homemade beef jerky or leftover meat (you could also add artichoke hearts, eggs if you tolerate them well- an AIP reintro- or other aip approved “snacks” that you think go well together) and a mocktail in a pretty glass (i love a wine glass since I can’t have wine but even a mocktail may spike your blood sugar so don’t go overboard).  If you do choose to have alcohol (this would be a reintroduction on AIP and not recommeded) then limit the amount and frequency as any alcohol, including gluten free and yeast free alcohol, is not good for gut health and may damage the gut, undoing your hard work.  It is my suggestion to avoid if you have any suspicion or history toward leaky gut.

I hope this helps.  If you are like me then every now and then you get a bit burnt out on veggies, loose your desire to eat and if you aren’t allowed to rebel then you would prefer to just not eat at all (A little dramatic, I admit.. c’est la vie…).  For those of us who are “foodies” it’s an opportunity to get creative and try to make a healthier version of our favorite foods from our past life so we can enjoy eating similar to how we used to enjoy it.  But no matter how you spend that 10% of the time.. do it wisely. You have worked too hard to get here and don’t want to undo it in one Friday night as you binge watch and cuddle on the couch.  As always, To Your Health!

 

Loaded “Caulitato” Soup

This is the part where I am supposed to tell you some long story about how I came to make this… but that is not my style. I saw some loaded potato soup online and thought “I can make a healthy version of that… ” and so I did. This is how it was made and the picture is how it turned out.  The toppings definitely make or break this comfort food, so play around until you find the combination that reminds you of the yumminess you remember.. but without the guilt.  This is a low carb version of this classic comfort food but for more carbs, you could trade out the cauliflower for yuca root or white sweet potatoes for a starchier, slightly sweeter flavor.  The low carb version is as follows:

4 cups bone broth, with 20160726_181207half reserved.

1/2 head cauliflower broken or cut into florets

2 to 4 cloves garlic, depending on taste preference

One half cup diced onion or leeks

2 tablespoons of a suitable oil for cooking (I used palm shortening ). Ghee or bacon drippings would be great!

Fresh toppings: Choose your favorites or add some of your own!

one bunch of green onions

fresh herbs of your preference for garnish

12 ounces uncured, gluten and corn free bacon

Diced tomatoes (omit for AIP)

Diced peppers (omit for AIP)

Cheese (for my primal readers) or Cheese substitute such as zucchini cheese (recipe here)

Sour cream (dairy is primal but not paleo or AIP) or sour cream substitute.

Any sauteed veggies of your choice!

The recipe is super fast and easy! Saute onions and garlic in cooking oil until translucent. Add broth and cauliflower florets. Cook until tender. In separate pan, while cauliflower is cooking, cook bacon to desired crispiness. My husband likes it crispy but I prefer it less because it’s more meaty. Set aside.  Chop veggies and optional garnishes.  When cauliflower is tender, blend into the broth with a hand stick blender until smooth. Add water or reserved broth until desired thickness is achieved. Add salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP) to taste. Top with generous amounts of your preferred toppings! Your soup is ready; enjoy!

 

 

 

POTS: How I Beat It Without Beta Blockers

A while back I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with a a few things, including POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Untitled18 It took me a while but I finally am able to live symptom free and manage this syndrome in order to get my life back.  The following is an outline of how I got from daily seizure like episodes, rapid weight loss (not the good kind) and the inability to care for myself (including cooking, grooming and cleaning; I could barely get to the bathroom on my own and struggled when I was able to shower, which was not as often as I would like to admit) to being able to work full time again in addition to take care of myself (better than before) and my family.

POTS is a type of dysautonomia (meaning the autonomic system is malfunctioning).  Since that time, I am noticing more and more people are being diagnosed with this as it seems to be the next new mystery illness.  Because of this autonomic system malfunction it can effect the tears, salivary glands, digestion, temperature control, blood pressure and heart rate and anything that requires homeostasis in the body. All the things that are supposed to run without effort can malfunction and the symptoms don’t stop there.   It also comes with a lot of anxiety, depression and a sense of fear much of the time.  There are also side effects, complications and linked conditions such as  fibromyalgia, mast cell disorder, hypermobility, and connective tissue disorders such as EDS (Ehlor Danos Syndrome), Raynaud’s disease, viruses and autoimmune disorders.  A brief description would be a resting heart rate over 100 (tachycardia) that increases upon standing at the same time that the blood pressure drops dramatically upon standing  ( postural orthostatic intolerance).  It is often accompanied by fainting (syncope) or near fainting (pre-syncope).  Sometimes it can involve bradycardia (When your heart rate gets dangerously low)  or increased/high blood pressure.    For me it was tachycardia (excessive heart rate) and low blood pressure and I often had trouble breathing which left me feeling like I was suffocating.  It is accompanied by severe fatigue and is often compared to Congestive Heart Failure in explaining what it feels like to have active POTS on a daily basis. For some it is triggered by stress and others it is triggered by food sensitivities or a viral infection or even surgery (all of these are stressors to the body).  Sometimes it can lead to seizure-like episodes that can look like a panic attack or seizure but are not caused by panic or fear or anxiety although anxiety is a side effect of the syndrome, as I mentioned above. These episodes are not caused by seizure activity in the brain, either.  It is technically neither of the above.  For the sake of the article, my description will have to be the “short version” but if you would like to know more  click here.  If you or someone you love either has POTS or you think you/they may… read on.  I’m about to tell you how I beat POTS and how I live symptom free without beta blockers or pharmaceuticals.  Mind you: this is not a cure for the syndrome but lifestyle and nutritional therapies that treat possible underlying causes and therefore get rid of the symptoms associated.

First I want to say that currently I am not medication free.  However, I only take medication if I have a deficiency in that medication.  For example, if I have a Calcium deficiency or an Estrogen deficiency or a Serotonin deficiency then I will address that deficiency by taking that supplement, hormone or nutritional therapy that will get my body what it needs, hopefully allowing it eventually to make its own when possible.  I will always choose a natural way to address that deficiency as my first choice.   Sometimes it requires a prescription, such as an estrogen deficiency.  I do not, however, have a “speed” deficiency or “adderall” deficiency so I do not take stimulants to treat my fatigue.  I do not have a “beta blocker deficiency” so I do not take beta blockers.  I have read some undesirable side effects and have some concerns about these types of drugs but I encourage you to make your own, educated decision with the help of your own Functional Medicine Doctor or Specialist.  If you feel that you must take them, please do! I took a Beta Blocker for a short period while I figured out alternatives and until they no longer made me feel any better than I felt without them. (At one point they made me feel worse because they lowered my blood pressure too much).   But If you choose to go natural, then I am hear to help you with some things to investigate in your own bio-hacking and to take to your doctor if you choose an alternate route to health.  I am not a doctor and I am not YOUR doctor.  This article is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone.  It is merely for informational purposes only to share with you what worked for me.  I hope it helps you in your journey.  I also want to say that while I live symptom free, my progress must be maintained by continuing the good choices I learned from putting together the “pieces of the puzzle” that contributed to my POTS.  Each category or part below was only a piece of the puzzle.  If you try one of these things with your own journey, I encourage you to TRACK THE DATA before you decide something does or does not work.  For example, yoga may only lower your heart rate 10 points.  Meditation may only lower it 10 points.  Neither by itself is a lot but together it could make life easier.  Or it may equal 25 or 30 beats per minute when combined.  When you add together all the pieces that make little differences together they can be very powerful and may help you cope until you find the three things that lowers it to normal without as much time and effort.

Because of the multiple diagnoses, it took me a while to grasp that I had POTS and it was not just a side effect of one of my other diagnoses.  It was related.  It got worse when I was exposed to some of the same food triggers that triggered my autoimmune.  But it was still its own separate problem. The overlap between my autoimmune and the POTS did not mean that I could ignore it and not deal with it head on.  And When I got as far as I could with my autoimmune and did not feel better, it hit me:  I have to deal with the POTS as its own entity.  The same may or may not apply to your situation as yours may be triggered by a virus or a surgery or some other combination of stressors

The First thing I did was to Address Allergies.  For me it was food allergies that were triggering my flares and seizure like episodes. But a POTS flare or symptoms can be triggered by any type of allergy.  According to Dr. Devi Nambudiprad, allergies cause a sympathetic (fight or flight, biochemically speaking) or a stress response that includes rapid heart rate and blood pressure change.  Fight or flight also involves a shutting down of digestion and shallow breathing.  A rise in adrenaline response from the central nervous system in an otherwise healthy individual is a normal response and usually not noticeable.  In a patient with POTS, this can reek havoc as their body is already producing too much adrenaline.  So the first thing I suggest doing is identifying and addressing any type of allergy.  For affordable ideas on how to go about doing this click here.  Although the article is about identifying food allergies, the same methods can be used to identify any type of allergy.  Of course for a more complete list of ways to identify allergies I suggest Dr. Nambrudipad’s Book Say Goodbye To Illness.  In the book she describes and lists a complete list of ways to test for allergies, their pros and their cons.

While we are on the subject of the Autonomic System, lets talk about Adrenal Fatigue.  Adrenal Fatigue is what happens when you have been under a lot of stress for an extended period of time without time for recovery.  It can happen from trauma, illness, or a high stress lifestyle that puts your body in this fight or flight mode for extended periods of time.  It is my belief that adrenal fatigue is one of the major causes of POTS (I believe POTS to have a collection of causes that come together like a perfect storm) as the autonomic system and the adrenal glands are such key players in each other’s functioning.  Also, the “poor man’s” way of diagnosing adrenal fatigue is to see if your blood pressure drops upon standing. Sound familiar?  If you remember, it’s a defining symptom of POTS.  Basically, after your body is producing high levels of cortisol for an extended period of time to deal with ongoing stress, the adrenal gland begins to get tired and has trouble keeping up with your life’s demand.  It then begins to underproduce cortisol.  This low cortisol can eventually cause adrenaline to overproduce in its place as a way of trying to compensate under the stress that your body is under as part of the continuing “threat” of this constant state of fight or flight.  While this doesn’t always lead to POTS, I hypothesize that the majority if not all of POTS patients have some form of adrenal fatigue or a suppressed immune system (which is a side effect of adrenal fatigue).   Treating adrenals is tricky and some people are more prone to adrenal fatigue then others.  While I highly suggest taking supplements and making nutritional changes to support your adrenals, I recommend seeing a functional medicine doctor or a chiropractor who also runs lab tests to assess and treat your Adrenal Fatigue.  It is a lot easier to address with a professional helping you do this.  It is commonly diagnosed with a saliva test that tracks your cortisol production throughout a day to see the rise and fall to compare to a healthy rise and fall. For a self-assessment quiz and further information on Adrenal Fatigue, I suggest clicking here to learn more.  I can say that treating my adrenals was probably one of the 3 most impactful things I did to beat POTS.  I saw results quickly from taking supplements and it made a huge impact on my energy and ability to get up and go and get my life back.  Again it was only a piece of the puzzle.  but in about 2 weeks after starting medication I felt measurably better.

While I waited for my adrenal labs to come back, I tried to lower my adrenaline.  Since an excess of adrenaline was responsible for all my symptoms, I started looking for ways to remedy this (see below where I list lesser things I tried in my journey). I also looked for ways to repair the autonomic center of my brain and reduce inflammation that may or may not be present in that area of my brain.  I came across a Nutritional Protocol that I combined with eliminating my food allergies called the Wahl’s Protocol and was amazed not just at Dr. Terry Wahl’s personal story but at the hope that any damage in my brain could be reversed if my body could just get everything it needed.  Dr. Wahl’s created her protocol to feed every cell in the body and to maximize brain function and healing.  It was designed for the brain and the gut, which I learned are very connected.  In fact, that is why digestion is often a problem in this neurological syndrome.  In addition, I came across this article on Fibromyalgia that recommended a ketogenic diet to reduce adrenaline.  While I personally didnt have Fibromyalgia, I DID have excess adrenaline.  This was exactly what I was trying to do!  It so happens that Wahl’s Protocol Level 3 is an MCT ketogenic diet and since it would both reduce adrenaline output and repair any damage to my brain… i decided to give it a shot.  It definitely helped.  In fact, when I was ready to go back to a paleo diet it took a while for my body to get used to burning carbs for fuel again. But I was ready for a wider variety of foods to increase nutritional intake.  Now that my brain has healed, I will eat with the seasons and only be ketogenic at the time of year my ancestors would have naturally been ketogenic historically.   For more information on The Wahl’s Protocol I suggest reading the book here.  For the record, I did best on level 3 but I had to add supplemental nutrition to get all I needed to manage my POTS.

Which leads me to Optimizing Your Electrolytes.  Most doctors recommend a large intake of salt and water to increase blood volume and blood pressure.  They will also often prescribe steroids to increase blood volume.  But I was concerned as a high sodium diet has some p0ssible long term side effects, including stroke which I am already susceptible to, genetically speaking.  Also, The body needs more than just one electrolyte to manage blood pressure and heart rate.  Too much or too little of any electrolyte can cause arrhythmia and blood pressure irregularities.  We mostly hear about deficiencies in electrolytes causing high blood pressure but they can also cause low blood pressure and they also cause irregular heart beat.  Low blood pressure can in turn cause the heart to work harder and faster to get the blood to circulate especially if there is less blood in volume.  There are more electrolytes than just salt. Other electrolytes include Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, and Bicarbonate.  The latter is made by the body but the first four need to be ingested through diet.  Due to depleted soils and poor diets, all of us are way below our optimal intake of potassium and magnesium while being over our intake of sodium.  We also lack trace minerals because the sodium we ingest is processed and void of these trace minerals like our soil and therefore our food is void of minerals.  I do suggest getting the recommended dose of sodium every day.  It should be equal to your calorie intake and should be from a mineral rich source like sea salt or Himalayan salt.  In Addition to a balanced sodium intake I recommend optimizing your Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium intake.  Sodium has a relationship with potassium and must be balanced.  In turn, Potassium must be balanced with Magnesium and Magnesium must be balanced with Calcium.  They all work together to help your heart rate and blood pressure normalize and work at its best possible homeostasis.  I hypothesize that POTS patients need more than healthy individuals because Magnesium is often used up by our body during stress and illness.  The prolonged stress on our body and in our life has created a greater need for this mineral and therefore its partners in health.  In order to do this safely, as too much can cause just as much problems as too little, I suggest getting a doctor or nutritionist to help you track your nutrition intake over a period of time to help determine a safe daily supplemental intake to add to a healthy diet.  I would aim for the Optimal Daily Allowance instead of the Recommended Daily Allowance since you are treating a syndrome and not merely trying to avoid illness.  You are looking to thrive, not merely survive.  It gets tricky since there is no established Daily Allowance for Magnesium so I chose the most absorbable form with the least amount of effect on stool quality.  I gradually increased my dose while paying attention to symptoms and stool quality.  When my symptoms got better and my stool reached a healthy consistency I knew that was the ideal daily intake (I included food sources in my calculations) and I kept my dose there.  This was MY optimal dose for my body.  Yours may be different depending on your body’s needs. Please consult with a Functional Nutritionist for help figuring out your needs.

I then followed the Optimal Dose recommendations for the other electrolytes hypothesizing that if they were all at the ODR then they would be balanced with each other.  This helped tremendously.  Avoiding allergens, meeting nutritional needs and treating adrenals were the 3 biggest things I did in order to stop the daily misery that was keeping me from my life.  The fourth and fifth biggest things (addressing hormonal deficiencies/imbalances and addressing viruses) were done by my Functional Medicine Doctors.

Other deficiencies  in your body can also effect blood pressure and heart rate as well as autonomic function.  One example of this is Hormones.  For example, Estrogen is a neurotransmitter necessary for autonomic function.  Cortisol is necessary for blood pressure and pituitary function  (it’s in the deep limbic system).  Thyroid function can be effected by both of these things and make you feel tired. Get your hormones checked. All of them.  Again, I recommend a Functional Medicine Doctor for a complete lab panel.

Viruses can also cause problem.  Think of how you feel when you have the flu.  It feels like walking to the kitchen is running a marathon.  You’re weak, tired, your heart has to work harder for you to function… sound familiar?  Get tested for viruses even if you don’t think you have one.  My Epstein Barr had reactivated and was a huge factor in the way I felt and responded to heat and stress and my fatigue.  My doctor chose to give me a Vitamin C IV drip once a week for 6 weeks to give my immune system a boost to knock EBV back to being dormant.  This took me from functioning to living.

Could There Be More?  Yes.  There could be more. Every Body has its own unique medical history and genetic predispositions.  I’m still finding out how my mthfr, gut health, connective tissue disorder and such are all related to this and autoimmune.  You may have something unique contributing to yours.  I challenge you to seek health and to “biohack”  yourself.  Find out how your body works.  Find out how your brain works.  Find out what parts of your body aren’t working, specifically. And then figure out how to make it work by giving it what it needs and removing things that are keeping it from working at its best.  If that means no computers and phones after dark so you can get enough sleep to heal, then remove all computers and phones after dark. Do it. Get well. No matter what it takes.  If that means giving up junk food so that you have enough room in your stomach for nutritious foods, do it. Whatever it takes.

  • How did I figure this all out?  By looking for the causes to my symptoms, finding clues and following any trail that seemed to “ring a familiar bell” from my medical history. Some things I had to get help from my doctor (like lab tests and advice on how to go about things safely) but I was able to look up everything I could find on blood pressure, heart rate and and the autonomic system.  I read books on the brain (Dr. Daniel Amen’s Change your Brain, Change Your Life), where I found that the autonomic system lies in What Dr. Amen calls the Deep Limbic System.  Thanks to this book and its information on this part of the brain, I then was able to tie some of my other symptoms with the same area of the brain and see how they were related to my dysautonomia (like depression and anxiety) and make hypotheses on what was contributing to the malfunction and get ideas on how to address the possible underlying cause.  It was here that I learned that hormones and serotonin are major contributors to reaching optimal function in this area of the brain, as well as things like touch.  I was also able to learn ways to “re-wire” this part of the brain both as coping mechanisms for the side effects but also to give this are of the brain its best chance at recovery.  Dr. Daniel Amen also recommended that it was possible to treat this area with supplements.  I hypothesized, based on my medical history, what was going on in my brain and decided to run an experiment on myself.  I then took this idea to my functional medicine doctor who knew my medical history also.  She helped me make an informed, safe decision on what to experiment with and what to leave on the health food store shelf.  When I had completed that experiment I researched some more.  I learned how the brain and the gut were related and how the gut and the brain was effected by fight or flight and what other things can cause the same effects.  I researched the nervous system and nutrition and yoga poses and more.  I tried some more things such as yoga (i started my exercise program here and built up to brisk walking), vagus nerve stimulation, hcl pills for digestion, meditation, earthing, camping in the woods for multiple days with no wifi or phone, chiropractic (more on this below in How To Manage A Flair).  I tried one at a time and tracked the data (taking my heart rate and seeing how the stimulus effected my heart rate compared to my usual heart rate pattern from the same times of day).  My heart rate was different during “good” times of day versus “bad” times of day).  I sometimes experimented to see if combining two things would work better than one alone. I tried EVERYTHING. It didn’t matter if it would work. I had to try.  Some things enabled me to eat, others made me feel better for a day and others for a month.  I did this until I found the things I could do to maintain my health consistently and that fit my lifestyle.

One thing I learned from a blog from another who cured their POTS was a wonderful quote.  The writer says “Those who become chronically ill say it’s the worst thing that ever happened to them.  Those that beat chronic illness say it’s the best thing that ever happened to them.”  Whether or not you beat this is up to you.  Ask yourself: “why did i NEED to get this?”  What is God or the universe trying to tell you?  For me, It was that I was on the wrong path.  And this was the only way to get me off that path.

I will always have orthostatic intolerance to some degree because I always have had it.  I will always have a flare if I get glutened because I am very allergic.  Ok. Fine. But I have not always had POTS and neither have you. Its a collection of symptoms.  Symptoms have causes. You just have to find them.

But I have the tools to come out of that flare and get over it.  Another person said a doctor told her that the worst thing you could do for POTS… was to give up.  Sad that this is exactly what many doctors convey when they tell you there is no cure.  There is no magic pill you can take to not have it anymore.  To be symptom free and medication free is going to take time, work, a positive attitude (difficult if you are depressed and anxious, I know), and trial and error.  Be kind to yourself.

What not to do.  Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.  You cannot go back to the unhealthy, stressful lifestyle with bad stress management skills and junk food for dinner that got you here.  If you do what got you here you will end up… here. So make a choice. If that means getting rid of stressful, toxic relationships, then do it.  You are worth being healthy. If it means you give up bread because you find out you are celiac, do it.  Your health is more important than bagels.  For me this meant a change of career (blessing in disguise), giving up family thanksgivings, and getting rid of toxic people in addition to implementing stress management and exercise regularly.  I also meant taking supplements by the handfuls.  So guess what? I do all of that. Because I am worth being healthy. So are you.

How To Manage A Flair.  Sometimes I get glutened and it causes a flair.  But now I have the tools to reverse in a week or two what used to take 6 months to a year to reverse without the tools I have learned.  First, go to a chiropractor who adjusts upper cervical.  This has been a godsend.  If you have fibromyalgia, then get that under control first (some chiropractors are very good at fibromyalgia, so get a consult before deciding if the person can help you or not).  This is something that has been life changing.  with a few adjustments (sometimes just a few or even daily if the food exposure is really bad and therefore the flair is really bad) for a week or two until I feel better. Second:  At this time I am very disciplined about my diet and supplement regimen.  Your body needs extra nutrition to heal. Give your body what it needs.  Third: Rest.  It’s ok.  It will all still be there when you are well.   Take Naps if you are able.  Your main job is to heal.  Do the minimum and LET yourself just relax and heal.  Four: When the worst of it is over start again with some light yoga/stretching and a walk until you are able to do more. If you have a bad day, then have a bad day.  Try again the next day. Take advantage of your “good time” of the day to do what is most important.  And Fifth: Be kind to yourself.  Go get your nails done. Get a massage. Take a long bath. Watch TV. And keep on keeping on.  Two steps forward and one step back is still progress… hell, its a cha cha:)

I hope this helps.If I think of anything else I’ll add it in.  And thanks again for joining me on My Crazy Journey.

Cook Once Eat Twice Part 1: Breakfast to Lunch

Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs (Paleo Option) or Bacon With Breakfast Salad with Greens, Canteloupe and Fresh Basil (use this option for AIP, pictured below).  This AIP salad is so good that no dressing is necessary! 2016-07-30 10.36.28 If I was going to make a dressing I’d make my Lemon Basil Vinagrette  and just sub the lemon juice for lime juice.  But if you are short on time, then feel free to skip the dressing or just squeeze some lime on top with a drizzle of your favorite salad oil.  Pictured below I have a yummy drink of “bulletproof-ed” Roasted Dandelion Tea with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of coconut oil for a warm, comforting cuppa to go with my
breakfast.  If you are looking for a caffeine free alternative to tea or coffee and haven’t tried Roasted Dandelion Tea, I highly suggest doing so and putting it in the blender with the above additions until it is creamy and the color has lightened to a “latte” type color.  It’s really tasty and comforting and has great health benefits!

When you cook your bacon, cook twice as much as you plan on eating and reserving half for your lunch.  Also reserve all your bacon grease for your lunchtime dressing.

Lunch: Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing. For Paleo eaters, this is great with crumbled bacon and either boiled or fried egg on top (eggs and bacon left over from breakfast, 2016-07-30 17.10.20pictured to the left).  For AIP eaters, we sub the eggs with shrimp (leftover from shrimp stir-fry the night before or quick cooked in bacon drippings while veggies are prepped. They cook fast so not a lot of time is spent on prep).

2 cups fresh spinach.

1/2 chopped tomato.

1/2 diced avocado

1/4 cup green onions

3 ounces crumbled bacon

1 fried egg or 1 cup cooked shrimp

 

1/3 cup red peppers, reintroduced(omit for AIP)

3 ounces crumbled bacon (reserved from breakfast)

Hot Bacon Dressing: you will need the following (per person):

2 tablespoons bacon grease (also left over from breakfast), reheated.

1.5-2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (if you like it extra tangy then use 2 tbs.) OR 1.5 to 2 tbs Pineapple Juice

1 teaspoon Maple Syrup.

Combine ingredients and stir well, preferably using a small whisk or small food processor. It is possible to blend well with a fork if you prefer. Taste test after blending well and adjust to taste if needed for sweet or sour or savory. Pour over salad and enjoy.

 

 

 

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

This simple yet satisfying salad dressing is great on so many levels.  The basil can be replaced with any herb and the lime can be replaced with any citrus juice.  Some other combinations I suggest are as follows:  Lime and cilantro, Lemon and Oregano, Garlic (use 1 raw clove in place of herb or in addition) and Lemon, Pineapple and Basil, the list is endless!

This is the basic recipe:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 -2 tablespoons of fresh basil

optional additions: 

1 tbs shallots, minced

1 clove garlic

a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey 

a sprinkle of sea salt

Mix in food processor until blended and emulsified.  Pour over salad