Crunchy clustery grain free granola

 

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grain free dairy free granola

Anyone who has ever read my blog posts has probably reached the conclusion that I’m a bit of a granola cruncher and true to that premise I make a mean grain free granola.  It is honestly better than any oat based granola I have ever had, perfect for topping coconut yogurt, smoothie bowls or just eating it by the handful.

Be warned.  You will not be able to stop munching once you make this, so if you are trying to lose some lbs and have very little self control, (me), you might want to save this for a special occasion.  It also makes a lovely gift packed in mason jars.

Everyone I know who has tried this has loved it, and I’m sure you will too.  It is very forgiving so feel free to make substitutions as you like, just keep the ratios of wet to dry relatively the same and make sure you wait to add those cranberries at the end (that was a lesson I learned the hard way).

 

Crunchy clustery grain free granola

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flakes (the bigger ones work better here but shredded coconut is ok too)

3/4 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

generous pinch of salt

1 tbsp. melted coconut oil

3-4 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup dried cranberries

 

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees

Crumble or chop the nuts, seeds and coconut into oat size pieces and toss with the salt and spices.

Melt the coconut oil over low heat and stir in maple syrup, and vanilla.

Pour the wet over the dry and spread out on a parchment covered sheet pan, bake at 300 for 25 minutes flipping halfway through cooking.

Remove from the oven and stir in the cranberries.

The granola will crisp up as it cools so let it cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Why I removed my IUD and what I now use for birth control instead

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

My second child was a miracle. I say that now, after a PCOS diagnosis and a kid who makes life amazing, but at the time it was a major wtf how could this happen moment.

I had just given birth to my first child three months earlier when the two lines appeared on a home pregnancy test. I had no idea when I could have conceived as the one possible instance of post partum intimacy had led me to take the morning after pill, just as a precaution.

My first baby had been 9 pounds 4 ounces, and was delivered naturally at home, so the pain of labour was still very fresh in my mind. I was also not yet sleeping well, was living in a tiny apartment, had no money and was quite honestly scared sh**less. But, I knew in my heart this was a blessing, and given the circumstances was so obviously meant to be.

My second little baby was much kinder to body, weighing only 7 pounds, his birth was easier than the first, but that’s where the easiness ended. He had colic, he seemed to hate sleeping, and was only ever happy in my arms. This time around I swore I wouldn’t tempt fate and wouldn’t even let my husband so much as glance my way until I was safely using birth control.

I went into the hospital at three months post partum and had my IUD inserted while my tiny baby slept on my chest. The insertion hurt, but I felt so relieved, there would be no more surprises any time soon.

Due to all of my hormonal issues I opted for the copper IUD (paraguard). It was touted as  the most natural form of birth control, after all copper is an element essential to health, and I was told it would not affect my hormones at all.

In the beginning I was still nervous about pregnancy. How could this tiny piece of metal really stop a baby? In time I began to feel more at ease with the IUD and eventually came to trust it completely. For me it worked like a charm as far as preventing pregnancy but in other ways my body didn’t seem stoked on the little thing at all.

My periods were so extreme and heavy I would be running to the bathroom every hour to empty my diva cup, and with the heavy blood loss every month (or so) my ferratin levels just would not rise. I eventually became chronically iron deficient. In addition to the menorrhagia my cramps were like early labour pains and I would be fully incapacitated for the first two days of every cycle.

I have a girlfriend who developed breast implant illness, and in reading up a bit about the subject, I came to understand that many people’s immune systems will actually fight against any foreign object in our bodies. I had developed, or at least been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease while using the IUD, and couldn’t help but wonder if it had played some part in my hashimotos disease.

I also learned about copper toxicity, how it can build up in the soft tissues of the liver and impair the livers ability to detoxify. In addition, copper competes with zinc and manganese for absorption in the gut leading to mineral deficiencies.

Anyone with chronic illness will tell you, healing is like a crusade towards the light. My friend finally opted to remove her breast implants and I decided if she could go to that extreme in a quest for health, removing my little IUD would be a cake walk.

I wasn’t expecting any dramatic changes right away, but my first period after removal was like a dream. It came on quietly, no cramps, no bloating, just some slightly tender boobies, and it left just as quietly three days later. My blood loss was what I presume normal periods are supposed to be, and about ¼ the volume of previous cycles with the IUD.

In hopes that it wasn’t just a fluke I waited a full four more cycles before writing this and can now firmly attest that removing my IUD was the right choice.  Every consecutive period has been as benign as the last.

Having PCOS, I am already less fertile than the average woman, but as my pcos symptoms have been steadily improving and my periods have been becoming more regular (thank you diet changes!) I am definitely not in the clear as far as baby making goes, thus I am now using natural family planning to track my cycles.

In order to use natural family planning you will first have to determine your typical cycle length, you can do this using a calendar (start counting the first day of your period) or use a handy app to track it (there are lots of them out there).

Typically, women ovulate 14 days before their period and we are the most fertile 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation. So for about 8 days we should abstain, use condoms, or get busy, depending on the desired result.

We also produce a thin watery mucus when ovulating (kind of like natural lube) that is thicker or even non existent when not ovulating and we are about 1 degree warmer during our most fertile days.

By paying attention to our bodies natural secretions, temperature, and getting in tune with our natural cycles we can family plan naturally, safely and for free.

While only abstinence is 100% guaranteed, lets get real, people are going to be getting busy and we don’t need to rely so heavily on invasive forms of birth control to avoid pregnancy.

I know lots of women who have had great results with natural family planning and if you are struggling with autoimmunity and trying to find that smoking gun, exploring the removal of foreign objects from your body could be a necessary step in your journey. For me removing my IUD has been a game changer.

What are nightshades and why they could be effecting your gut health?

 

If you have never heard the term nightshade, you would not be alone, and even if you have, you might not fully understand the health effects they could be having on your body.

In fact, many night shades are widely considered to be health foods but could be having an unhealthy effect on your gut and autoimmunity.

If you are still sitting here wondering what nightshades are, they are from a family of foods called Solanaceae with over 2500 varieties, many of which are inedible, though some are used for medicinal purposes.

Some of the common night shades that you have probably eaten are; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers and gogi berries. The reason these foods can cause problems for some people comes down to their glycoalkaloids, in particular solanine.

Now if you are really wondering what the heck I’m taking, glycoalkaloids can easily be explained as a plants natural defense mechanism, it is most concentrated in the skin and is used to ward off insects and disease. This is why we are technically not supposed to eat green sprout-y potatoes and why people can get super sick from doing so. (Though c’mon, who among us hasn’t sliced off those little nobs and carried on with their potato cooking?)

In addition to Solanine, nightshades contain super high levels of Lectins (plant proteins) that can actually permeate cell walls, causing leaky gut and weird allergic reactions.
An ideal healthy gut can likely handle itself some glycoalkaloids. However, if your gut is already compromised (many of us with autoimmune disease have some level of leaky gut) or if your body displays an allergic reaction to nightshades, a wise choice would be to minimise your intake of them or cut them out entirely.

When I did my elimination diet, I was sure to also eliminate nightshades and discovered I get a severe reaction to eggplants. As a result, I have also cut back on eating peppers, potatoes and tomatoes just in case. My nutritionist informed me that cooked peeled Roma tomatoes are among the least gut offensive nightshades, provided I purchase them in a glass container (no BPA!) so thankfully tomato sauce is still on my menu and I still do enjoy me some peppers and potatoes in moderation.

Finally, it should be said that what is healthy for one person’s body can be incredibly toxic to another person and would never claim that everyone in the world should cut out nightshades entirely. I do highly recommend omitting them during an elimination diet and be very observant of how they affect you when you reintroduce them back into your diet.

For more information on how an elimination diet is an integral part of an overall health overhaul, I wrote a post about it here.

Cream of sweet potato and cauliflower soup

Cream of sweet potato and cauliflower soup

 

 

This soup is easy peasy.  The only special thing you need is an immersion blender (something I could not live without!)

I suppose you could do it the old fashioned way in a blender but after a blender explosion that involved 3rd degree burns and ceiling stains, I generally stay away from putting hot things in my beloved Vitamix.

This was one of those use what you have soups that turned out so good I had to blog it. Pureed soups can be a bit of a hit or miss with me  I find they can go from gourmet to baby food mush pretty easily so I always garnish them up really nicely to add interest to my palate and eye.

This time I indulged with bacon, pine nuts, parsley and cashew feta.  I ate two bowls to myself and by the time my family got done, there were no leftovers to forget about in my fridge.  Success!

If you want a hot, creamy, nourishing bowl of soup on your table tonight, give this one a try!

 

Cream of sweet potato and cauliflower soup

Ingredients:

1 large or two small leeks (white parts washed well)

1 clove garlic

3 cups chopped cauliflower

1 sweet potato (about 1.5 cups cubed)

1 tsp thyme

2 tbsp. grass fed butter or coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut milk (creamy part)

3 cups bone broth or veggie stock

3 tbsp. cashew cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Heat butter and sauté leeks until translucent

Toss in garlic and remaining veggies

Season with salt, pepper and thyme

Cover with stock and simmer 30 minutes

Turn off heat and stir in coconut milk and cashew cheese

Using an immersion blender, blend until a creamy pureed consistency

Garnish with some herbs, meat, nuts, grain free crackers, and or any cheese of choice.  Just have fun with it, the soup is a perfect base for a wide range of flavours!

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious Herb Falafels

Delicious Herb Falafels

Falafels are one of those amazing foods that meat eaters enjoy as much as vegetarians.

In my vegan days falafels got me through some dark times, but now I am eating to heal my autoimmune diseases and have eliminated most grains and re-introduced pastured meats.

I have seriously never felt better, but that doesn’t mean I’m only into eating meat centric meals.  In fact I still have a well rounded arsenal of delicious grain free vegan recipes I love and would still consider my diet to be largely plant based.

While legumes can be tricky for some guts, I did an elimination diet that revealed garbanzos to be fairly benign for my sensitive belly.

And so, my love for falafel lives on.

The biggest problem with falafels is the price tag on the pre-made ones.  It’s crazy to me considering I know how to make these delicious little bad boys right at home, and I also know how ridiculously cheap it is to do so.  Two dozen falafels only cost a couple bucks to throw together.

They store in the fridge or freeze very well so you can make them ahead and always have them on hand. They are perfect to round out a salad, toss into a flatbread or just serve them up with some dips like coconut tzatziki, hummus, or my favorite cashew cheese!

The key to authentic tasting falafel that are crispy outside and fluffy inside is using dried garbanzo beans soaked for 24 hours.  Yes, I’m not joking, dried garbanzos!

Whenever I come across a food blog with falafel recipes that call for canned chick peas I am so outta there!  Not only are these recipes non authentic tasting, but they often call for a breading to get that crisp outer layer.

Real falafels are easy to make, take just a few ingredients and should always be 100% grain free and plant based.  These ones taste like they come from your local shawarma spot.  Try them out today and let me know what you think!

 

 

Delicious Herb Falafels

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 cups dried garbanzos soaked for 24 hours (should look like roughly 3 cups after soaking)

1 shallot

3 large garlic cloves

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup parsley

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp pepper

1.5 tsp salt

1 tbsp. garbanzo bean flour

0.5 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup refined coconut oil

 

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend into breadcrumb texture

Gently form small balls about the size of ping pong balls

Heat oil and fry until golden brown in two batches

Drain on a paper towel and serve with your favorite dips such as, cashew cheese, coconut tzatziki, or hummus.

 

 

 

 

Dole Whip inspired smoothie bowls

Dole Whip inspired smoothie bowls

 

 

I’ve only been to Hawaii once but I have to admit my experience did not live up to all of the hype I had been promised… horrible right?

Don’t get me wrong, I feel very blessed and grateful that I even had the opportunity to go to Hawaii, but Waikiki in the middle of summer is just not my cup of tea.  It was steaming hot, balls deep crowded and beyond expensive.  Pay money to hike to a waterfall?  No thank you.

Also, more than one person asked me if I had ever seen the ocean before, assuming of course that being from Canada I live in a frozen dry wasteland.  (Quick fact, Canada has the longest natural coastline of any country in world.)

Ok, so the warm crystals waters and white sand beaches weren’t exactly terrible…. There’s no way I will write off the Islands entirely until I at least give Maui a shake, but I’m in no rush to head back to Honolulu anytime soon.

My highlight of the entre trip was driving to the (slightly less crowded) North shore to snorkel.  We stopped on the way at the Dole plantation to look at adorable little pineapple plants and to taste the world famous Dole whip.

We didn’t end up doing the full tour, because that, like everything else in Oahu, cost way too much money, but the Dole whip? That shiz fully lived up to all the hype and exceeded my wildest expectations.

I still can’t get over the fact that it is dairy free.  It’s sweet, creamy, and bursting with  pineapple flavour.   A perfect way to cool down mid July in the tropics.

My recent Vitamix purchase has made banana ice cream a regular thing in my house, but in memory of those frosty whips I thought I’d spice up our usual blended bananas and try my hand at recreating something similar right here in freezing cold Canada.

My home made version turned out amazing, a very respectable nod to the real Dole deal, but less sweet and more natural tasting.  I highly recommend it, especially on a hot day.

I topped mine with home made grain free granola, kiwis and pomegranate seeds but you can just go ham with anything you have around.  #usewhatyouhave

That is the beauty about fruits and veggies, endless flavour combinations that all just seem to work.

 

Dole whip smoothie bowls

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen bananas

2 cups frozen pineapple

1/4 cup coconut milk (creamy part)

1/2 lime juice

Directions

In a high speed blender mix all the ingredients together

Use the tamper to push it down and scrape the sides as needed

Add a bit of liquid from the canned coconut if desired to help blend

Separate into bowls and top as you like

 

 

Mashed sweet potatoes two ways – gnocchi and roti – gluten free, grain free, plant based, paleo

Mashed sweet potatoes two ways – gnocchi and roti  – gluten free, grain free, plant based, paleo

This is such an easy recipe and calls for the EXACT same dough to create two entirely different edibles.  They best part? It only takes four ingredients (and salt is one of those).

This recipe is gluten free, grain free, vegan, and paleo.  You can make the gnocchi a day or two ahead and store in the fridge for later.  The roti keeps in the fridge for a week (just heat in the oven to soften) and it freezes well too.

 

I like gnocchi a lot but a typical gnocchi recipe calls for flour and white mashed potatoes.  These are two big no no’s on an insulin regulated diet.

I have made this roti before, inspired from another recipe that calls for white flour, but the inspiration to attempt gnocchi struck completely randomly, and it paid off!

I pan fried the gnocchi with some shaved zucchini, mushrooms, artichokes, garlic and cashew cheese, topped it with fresh parsley and walnuts and nearly blew my socks off. It was so good.  Truly, this was one of those special recipes that makes you completely forget you are eating a restricted diet.

The Roti is the perfect vessel for falafel, veggie burgers, normal burger, curry or whatever else you fancy in a flat bread.

Initially, I was just going to post the roti recipe, but because the gnocchi was also such a great success we’ve now got an official two for one!

 

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Sweet potato gnocchi and/or roti 

 

Ingredients:

1 large or 2-3 small sweet potatoes (a cup mashed)

1 cup cassava flour

2 tbsp. olive oil

a good pinch of salt

 

Directions :

Preheat oven to 350

Roast sweet potato(s) with skin on until fork tender

Allow to cool until touchable and peel skins from the potatoes

Mash with a fork or process in a food processor to a fairly smooth mash (some larger pieces can remain)

Transfer the mash into a bowl

Stir in salt, oil and cassava flour

Form a soft dough

Use extra cassava flour as needed

 

For the gnocchi:

Gently form the dough into long cylinders about the width of a hot dog

Cut into 0.5″ pieces and very gently press with a fork

Pan fry immediately or store in the fridge between parchment for later use

Use within two days

 

For the roti:

Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat (if its a sticky one, lightly brush with oil)

Divide the dough into ping pong sized balls

Gently flatten with your palm and then roll between two pieces of parchment to just under a quarter inch thick

Transfer to the skillet and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute per side

You should see it puff up a bit as air bubbles form, this is how you know its time to flip

 

 

If you make this, tag me on Instagram @tha_wild_sage and let me know how you like to eat your Roti / Gnocchi.