Fried Plantain Chips

Holy bananas!

Lately, I’ve been looking for starchy foods that I can give the kids to snack on. Fruit has a lot of sugar, but there are only so many veggies that I can give them before they get bored. They’re tired of raw peppers, and carrots, and they don’t like sweet potatoes. (How does a child not enjoy something sweet, you ask? I have no idea.)

Enter: Plantain Bananas.

As I was wandering through the internet, foraging for recipes, I came upon fried plantains. (To be honest, I think I found it over at  Balanced Bites, but it had never occurred to me to try it.)

I checked out a few recipes and decided I needed to try it. I went to the store and bought 3 nasty-looking, yellow and black plantains. I also picked up a bunch of avocados.

Using my mandolin, a kitchen item that I’ve detested since the day I bought, I sliced the banans pretty thin. I’ve decided that if I only ever use the mandolin for plantain bananas, it will be (finally!) worth the investment. After carefully peeling 3 large plantains and slicing them with the mandolin, I was ready to fry them in some coconut oil.

I let the oil get really hot and cooked up the plantains in batches. I also used a non-stick skillet so they wouldn’t stick to the pan while they were cooking. Once they were golden brown, I turned them over so the other side got golden brown too. This is not something you can leave to cook though. You should stay with them because they cook up fast. (I only mention this because I sat down for a few minutes to look at a website and one batch got overcooked.)

Using a slotted spoon, I scooped them out of the pan and onto a plate with paper towel. I seasoned them with sea salt and they turned out perfectly. Crunchy on the outside, and tender on the inside. It’s the perfect snack to enjoy in place of store-bought chips, and at 31g of carbohydrates per 100g serving, the kids will get a good batch of needed carbs!

These can be enjoyed as is, or with avocado, guacamole, or if you can tolerate tomatoes, salsa.

Bon Apétit!

 

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The Diagnonsense

I was 7-years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was in the room when the doctor and his entourage came in and told my parents. I had no idea what diabetes was, or what it meant. My mom cried, my dad nodded, and all of a sudden my life was completely different.

My mom kneeled down in front of me and tried to explain to me that an organ inside my body, called a pancreas, wasn’t working anymore, and that I would have to start giving myself needles. I was so mad. I remember thinking, ‘but this is my body! I can make it work again if I have to!”

I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, learning how to live with diabetes. I remember the day they brought in a cabbage patch doll that they used to help kids learn how to inject insulin. It was heavy. I remember wondering if insulin did that to the doll, what would it do to my body?

The nights in the hospital were lonely, the days filled with nasty hospital food, friendly staff, and lots of learning. When I was finally discharged from the hospital I was told that I would have to monitor my blood glucose for the rest of my life. I had to test my urine every time I went to the bathroom. I was angry and I felt betrayed by own body. It was scary and lonely.

My mom bought a scale to weigh my food and I had to portion out all my meals. My parents were very supportive, and asked that everyone in the family (at the time I lived with both my grandparents, my uncle, and my brother and sister) to do a blood test. I appreciated the effort, but part of me thought, “yeah, but they don’t have to do it at every meal.”

I don’t know how long I tested my urine for, it could have only been a week, but to me, it felt like months. Anyway, I remember being so angry and humiliated that I couldn’t even take a pee without this stupid disease interfering. I remember thinking, at 7-years old, that I would rather die than suffer the humiliation of having to take another pee test.

I barely finished grade 2, and when I started grade 3, the teacher asked us to write about our summer in cursive writing. I remember staring at the page, not having a clue what to do while all the other kids began writing about their summer’s. I cried.

That was a hard year for me because I had to get used to living with diabetes, and I had to relearn most of 2nd grade while simultaneously learning grade 3. My math skills were never recovered.

The first time I had low blood sugars at school, I didn’t remember what it was called. I tried to tell my teacher that I didn’t feel well. “I’m having one of those things…” She looked me over, pronounced me fine, and sent me outside for afternoon recess. I was scared because I had been warned about this at the hospital, and that if I ever felt this way I needed sugar to get my blood glucose up as soon as possible. My best friend ended up scouring the school yard, asking every single kid for anything that I could use to get my blood sugars up. I told my mom about it when I got home and she called the school. The next day the teacher pulled me aside and told me that I had to let her know next time I ever felt like that. “But I tried!”

It was a hard year, and I cried and felt sorry for myself, a lot. I was angry and resentful. I’d missed too much school the year before, and I has having a hell of a time learning grade 2 and 3 together.  I don’t remember a lot of this part, but my dad assures me I was becoming depressed. Both my parents felt so bad for me that they discussed sending me to camp Banting. (Fredrick Banting discovered insulin, and there’s a summer camp for diabetic children to go to where the food is portioned out and everyone who attends has diabetes.) We weren’t poor, but my parents didn’t have a lot of money for me to attend a camp like this. My grandparents pitched in and they sent me to camp. At first I was homesick and all I wanted was to come home. Then, I started to make friends and there were a lot of fun activities. We practiced archery, went swimming, went on nature walks, and did crafts. They sold “diabetic friendly” Crispy Crunch bars at the general store. (READ: aspartame laden.)

It was nice to know there were other kids out there who had the same disease as I did. They lived with it, they knew what it was like. We got to talk about it. It made me feel better about what I was living with. It also made me realize that there was nothing I could do about having this disease, and I had to change my perspective about how I dealt with it.

A couple of years later, I became a rebellious teenager and while my mom was busy weighing and measuring my food, I was at school trading my carefully assembled lunches and doing everything I could to get my hands on whatever junk food I could. If I couldn’t eat it at home, I sure as hell would try and eat it at school. By the time I hit high school, my favourite treat was a diet coke and chocolate bar.

A couple of years later, even though I was pretty active (I was still eating a SAD diet) I started gaining a lot of weight, really fast. I was tired all the time and waking up for school was increasingly difficult. I went to see my doctor, who diagnosed me Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was put on synthroid to deal with it and that was that.

It was around this time that I started looking in to being a vegetarian. My best friends were all vegetarians, and I thought they were crazy. I went to the library to find books about why being a vegetarian would be dangerous, but I found just the opposite. There was so much research on why it is a safe, responsible choice that I decided I would try it. I was vegetarian for almost 10 years, even vegan on and off. I thought I was saving my health.

At first it was wonderful, I felt great, had more energy than ever, and what I considered the best thing; I was part of an elite group of people that took pride in their health. During that time though, I was never able to get rid of my winter eczema, I still had a hard time with my blood glucose levels and near the end, I started gaining more weight.

Which brings me to now. I’ve found paleo, even better, autoimmune paleo, and it has changed my life. I am finally in tune with my body and the food that I eat. I’ve lost 25 lbs, and I’m trying to lose more. I eat clean, and healthy and I consistently have normal blood glucose levels. I’ve reduced my cholesterol (not enough for my doctor’s liking), triglycerides. I still have work to do with my A1C (average blood glucose over a couple month period) but I like to think I’m a work in progress.

I honestly wish I had known about paleo when I was first diagnosed with T1 diabetes. I think it could have helped me so much. I wish all children diagnosed with T1 diabetes were told about paleo. It seems ridiculous that we’re taught in the hospital to eat 50-60% of our calories from carbohydrates and to mitigate that with insulin when there is a much easier approach.

Funny, now that I think about it, whenever I went to see the nutritionist at the hospital, I always wanted to trade my starches for proteins! I always did love my meat!

 

Coconut Butter Bark (Guest Post for The Paleo Parents!)

When I look up recipes for school-friendly snacks, I’m always amazed at the recipes that include nuts. Where are these schools that allow kids to bring nuts? I wish I could offer my kids nuts as snacks, but with all the allergies happening in schools, I need to find other alternatives.

I should also premise this by saying that my kids aren’t entirely paleo, (yet!) so for a long time I would just buy granola bars, that had a giant NO PEANUTS sign on it, because it was safe and easy to throw in their lunches.

I’ve been trying to come up with something that I could put into their lunches that could easily replace granola bars, be healthy while still being delicious, and that I could make in a big batch so that it was readily available to put in their lunches.

Enter coconut butter. A few weeks ago I found a recipe on how to make my own coconut butter and I had a huge forehead-slapping moment. I make almond butter for the kids, and I had never thought about doing it with coconut. It couldn’t be easier. Take unsweetened, shredded coconut and toss it in the food processor and blend until it’s a creamy consistency.

At first it’s really creamy, and after a couple of hours it solidifies. It’s the perfect binding agent  for some kind lara-bar-esque snack.

Behold! Coconut Butter Bark!

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Ingredients:

4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut

1-2 TBLS coconut oil (optional)+ more for greasing parchment paper

9 cooking dates

1/2 cup chocolate chunks/chips

Directions:

Take a piece of parchment paper the size of a large baking pan and grease it with coconut oil.

Depending on the size of your food processor, add either all of the shredded coconut, or two cups at a time to make a double batch.

Blend the coconut until it’s a creamy consistency.

(At this point, you can add the 1-2 TBLS of coconut oil. This will make the bark a little softer. I’ve made it with and without the oil, and I prefer it without. I just think adding the oil is a good way to get more healthy fats into my kids’ diet.)

Add the dates to the coconut and blend some more, until the dates are incorporated.

Add the chocolate chunks/chips and pulse a couple of times. You still want them to be chunky, just blended a little bit.

Take the mixture and smooth it out as much as you can across the parchment. You can make it as thick or as thin as you like. The thicker you make it, the harder it is to break it into bark chunks.

Place the tray in the fridge for 30-40 minutes until it hardens. Alternatively, place in the freezer for 10-20 minutes. Take out the tray and start breaking the large piece into hand-sized pieces, or whatever size suits your fancy.

I like to keep mine in a ziplock bag in the freezer. This makes enough for my two daughter’s to enjoy all week at school, with 2-3 bark pieces per day. Plus my son and I snack on them a bit too. As long as I don’t eat too much, it doesn’t affect my blood glucose too much, which is a huge plus.

You could make an endless variety of ‘bark’ with this recipe. You could add nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or whatever you think might go well with the coconut butter. You could even omit the chocolate chips and just use the dates. Even better, you could make just coconut butter bark without any additions, (or maybe just some unrefined coconut oil) to make a delicious treat for the 21-Day Sugar Detox! 

 

This was written as a guest post for The Paleo Parents. Check them out for their amazing family-friendly recipes!

The 21-Day Sugar Detox is Done, Celebrating With a Raw Liver Smoothie!

Hoorah! It’s the end of the 21-Day Sugar Detox! What am I going to do now? GORGE MYSELF ON SWEETS?! No way! I’m trying my damnedest to get my A1C (average blood glucose reading over the last few months) down. Right now I’m at 7.7 and my doctor wants me below 5.

The detox went well. I didn’t post as many pictures as I could have, I suppose, but I’m glad I took on the challenge and stuck through to the end.

Here are some things I learned while on the detox:

  • I really enjoy eating food that nourishes my body
  • I didn’t eat enough sweet things to warrant doing the detox, but I’m glad I did it all the same
  • Exercise definitely helps me sleep better at night, especially when it’s coupled with a great diet
  • I miss eggs but they don’t miss me, I’m starting to react more severely every time I ingest them
  • I enjoy a good challenge
  • My portion sizes need improvement, I always serve too much food
  • I really want to focus on my health in 2013, and the detox helped me fine-tune my diet

I really need to stick to the autoimmune protocol from now on. I’m pretty sure my egg ‘intolerance’ is becoming an egg allergy, this makes me so sad. However, it also makes me want to start a whole new experimentation of egg free mayo’s! I’m going to work on that bacon mayo one until it’s perfected.

What’s that about a raw liver smoothie?

Well, I saw this video, from Peggy over at Primal Parent, and it both horrified and intrigued me. I gagged when I watched it.

One time when I was in high school, my mom served my brother, sister, and I steak. I have always loved steak and so I ate with gusto. After a few bites, I noticed something wrong with the steak. It tasted almost rotten.

“Mom, I think this steak is bad,” I told her. It was too gristly and had a very strong smell to it. I ate a few more pieces and it just tasted ‘off’. I kept telling my mother that there was something wrong with it until she relented and admitted it was liver. Ew.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, liver contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. It also provides:

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardiovascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.

Wow! Liver really does sound like a super food. Too bad it tastes like butt. I decided to try and source a grass-fed beef liver. When I went to the butcher today to pick up my weekly supply of meat, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they actually had a grass-fed beef liver. It was $15 for a whole liver, which is huge! I brought it home and put it in the freezer for almost an hour so that it would get frozen-gritty so I could cut it more easily. I chopped it up into 30 or so small plastic baggies and put most of them in the freezer. I saved myself one nice piece to make my own smoothie.

This is what I’ve learned about liver:

  • I don’t like the taste of liver
  • However, I much prefer the taste of raw liver to cooked liver
  • When making the smoothies, use a whole lemon
  • Keep your nose plugged while you drink it, it has a very pungent aroma and helps prevent gagging
  • By the end of the smoothie I wasn’t gagging, and I could actually get it down more easily
  • All that gagging was well worth the health benefits I know I’ll get from consuming the liver
  • I could potentially eat this once, maybe twice a week to garner the health benefits

 

Interested in the recipe? It’s very simple. Just raw, grass-fed beef liver, juice from a whole lemon, and a bit of water to smooth out the texture. I put mine in the food processor, but I think a blender would work better. Start with smaller pieces of liver, you don’t want to be drinking cups full of this stuff! This made enough for almost a full mug of smoothie. Also, the smell is terrible. When you’re done grinding it, you’re going to wonder why the hell you decided to do this in the first place. Always remember: THIS IS FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Bottoms up!

 

Sugar-Free Banana Bread

My son was bugging me for a snack and since it’s grocery day, the only thing I had was one overripe banana. Luckily I had some eggs and coconut flour so I decided to make him banana bread. This recipe contains nuts and eggs, so it’s definitely not autoimmune-friendly, but it is sugar-free, sweetened only by the fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 overripe (brown) banana
  • 1 TBLS cinnamon
  • 3 TBLS coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Put almonds in a food processor and grind for a couple of minutes until it becomes nut butter. Alternatively, use 1/4 cup almond butter. Add the eggs, banana, dates, vanilla, coconut oil, and cinnamon and mix for a few more minutes, until the dates are fully processed. Add the baking soda and powder, and coconut flour and process for another minute or so.

Using coconut oil, grease a 7 X 5 X 1.5 baking dish and put it in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

I served this to my kids with coconut oil and a drizzle of raw, unpasteurized honey. I admit, I took a little bite, to make sure it was palatable enough for my kids. (At least that’s how I justified it to myself.) It was very delicious.

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Uh Oh, Note to Self.

Oh no.

In regards to my last post, Gluten-Free Pizza, which I ate about 2 hours ago, my blood sugars are up at 24. When the normal is supposed to be between 4 and 8, 24 is seriously out of control. I just injected 7 units of insulin to bring that shit down.

I don’t know if it was the dairy, or the tapioca starch, but I won’t be able to eat this pizza again. I’m definitely going to have to tinker with the ingredients to make it dairy free, and maybe use arrowroot flour too. Right now I feel like I ate a football and it’s just sitting in my stomach. I feel disgusting.

Live and learn I suppose, and now my eczema is starting the flare up. Even though I was anticipating this, this is still going to suck.

 

Why did I do this to myself?

I don’t even know if, in retrospect, it was worth it. This is the worst.

Note to self: REMEMBER THIS FEELING THE NEXT TIME YOU CRAVE SOMETHING BAD. Ugh.

Gluten-Free Pizza!

Oh, the delicious agony of it all!

I’ve been craving something, but I didn’t  know what. I knew I wanted to eat something not terribly good for me, but not disgusting (Standard American/Canadian Diet).

Then I found this recipe and my heart melted. Yes, this is definitely what I wanted. Tomatoes, dairy, and an egg. All the things that make my eczema flare up. I knew if I made this I would suffer for it. But I’d rather cheat and have this then break down and go to McDonalds. Yuck.

I also modified this because I can’t seem to find a good source of pastured cream that doesn’t cost 9 million dollars, so I used the next best thing; sour cream that only has 3 ingredients: milk ingredients, bacterial culture, microbial enzymes. It’s actually by a company called Western and when my mom used to be a Natural Values manager at Loblaws, she went to visit the farm where this stuff is made. She vouched that the animals are very well cared for and it’s a really great product.

I copied and pasted  a lot of the instructions from The Domestic Man, (just so I can give credit where credit is due!)

Ingredients for the crust:

1 1/2 cups tapioca flour (it’s the same thing as tapioca starch)
1/4 cup of Western sour cream
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese), grated

1/2 cup of thick tomato paste
3/4 cup mozzarella or other soft cheese
toppings

In a saucepan, combine the sour cream, water, coconut oil, and salt and bring to a simmer on med/low heat. You want to get it to the point that it’s starting to bubble, but not boiling. In a large bowl, add the tapioca starch. When the cream/water mixture is heated, add it to the starch and stir it all together. It will start to clump together, which is fine. Let the mixture cool for five minutes. As it cools, set the broiler to 500F.

Add the beaten egg to the mixture, and knead together with your hands. Add the cheese, and oregano, and mix together until it’s dough-like. This is enough dough for two pizzas.

Split the dough in half, then stretch it out into the thinnest frisbee possible in the skillet, spreading to the edges of the skillet with your fingers. It will likely tear if you stretch it too far, so just pull it as far as you can. Try to get it as thin as possible – this is important so as to not make your crust too chewy. With a fork, poke some holes through the dough to let air pass through.

Broil in the middle of your oven for 5-6 minutes, until it’s golden brown on the top. Take it out and put it on your stove (keep the oven on!). The dough may bubble up a little while cooking, which is fine – it’ll go back down once you take it out of the oven.  This step is important because it gives the dough time to cook through without burning the toppings.

Add the tomato paste and toppings! Put back in the oven for 7-8 minutes, and maybe broil for another 2 minutes so the cheese on top browns up. For the picture below, I used hardwood smoked salami, spinach, olives, mushrooms and onions with mozzarella cheese. My eczema is already starting to flare up, but this was by far the best gluten-free pizza I’ve tried since going paleo and it was incredible. Next on the roster: a dairy/egg free version of this.

Bon apetit!

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