Bacon Date Bites

So I’ve had to take a bit of a hiatus from recipe creating while in the process of ridding my gut of a parasite (can read more about that here) / healing my gut before and after. There’s only so much one can do with 4-5 different types of vegetables, coconut oil, & a handful of spices. Now I’m not saying I haven’t been able to create some very delicious meals using these limited ingredients, but I’ve been keeping my meals simple & somewhat controlled so that I can get a good handle on any symptoms that may arise from the different medications/supplements I’ve been including in my plan for getting rid of my parasite (B.hominis). 

With that being said, I’m officially done with my antibiotic, have successfully administered three self coffee enemas, and have begun taking the herbal Paragone supplement – and am ready to begin experimenting with adding new foods & creating new recipes again!

A little ironic that the first recipe I choose to post is one that I have yet to actually taste myself. While I happily tasted (and re-fell in love with) the bacon half of the recipe, I’m planning on sticking with a no sugar diet for the time being in order to rebalance my gut bacteria, so no date tasting or full bacon-date combo for me. Buuut I do have the approval of both those with paleo-accustomed taste buds & those not so accustomed to less-sweet goodies to vouch that this recipe is the BOMB. I’m excited for the day when sugar enters my diet once again, because these will be first on the list of recipes I make.

I made these bites as part of a dessert for a BBQ we had at our house last week, but I also think they would serve the purpose of a pre or post workout fuel as well & plan to bring them to my CrossFit gym next weekend as a post – Saturday morning WOD treat.

Bacon Date Bites

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Time: 40 minutes (cooking, cooling, rolling, etc.)

Makes: 15-16 bites (“2)

Ingredients:

  • Bacon – 4 slices
  • Dates – 3 cups, chopped 
  • Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt

Kitchen Tools:

  • Large skillet/pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Paper Towels
  • Tongs
  • Food processor
  • Two bowls
  • Wax paper
  • Plate/platter/cookie sheet (to arrange & cool bites on)

Directions:

  1. Cook Bacon on medium heat in skillet until well cooked & crispy (approx. 5-7 minutes each side)
  2. While Bacon is cooking, Chop & Measure out Dates*
  3. Turn stove heat to lowest setting, remove bacon with the tongs & place on top of paper towels to cool
  4. Add Dates to the skillet, Mix around to coat with bacon grease, Sprinkle with Cinnamon, & Heat for ~5 minutes (stirring Dates throughout)
  5. Turn off heat & allow Dates to cool for at least 5 minutes (cooler dates will be easier to work with later on)
  6. Add cooled Bacon to food processor, pulse until Bacon is chopped up into small bits, then empty Bacon into bowl for later
  7. Add Dates (along with Bacon grease from skillet) to food processor & process until well combined (into a dough-like mixture)
  8. Add Date mixture to the second mixing bowl & combine with 1/2 the bacon bits
  9. Now it’s time to form the “bites” – take small amount of the Date mixture (size is up to you, can use pictures for reference) roll into a ball, flatten out slightly into more of a donut shape, then sprinkle & press Bacon bits on top
  10. When all the bites are formed, sprinkle with sea salt & put in the fridge to set 
  11. Store in tupperware container in the fridge

* Tip for chopping dates – keep a cup full of water next to you & dip your knife in it every couple of dates to keep knife from getting too sticky

Additional Options:

  • Add some chopped nuts to the mix as well – Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, etc. would all add a little nice crunch
  • Sprinkle some finely grated Coconut on top (or add some shredded coconut directly into the mix)

Pictures

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My Plan for Getting Rid of Blastocystis Hominis Parasite

So after several weeks of research, a few nights of interrupted sleep, & a whole lot of contemplation I finally settled on a three-step approach or “plan” for getting rid of the parasite that’s been (I’m assuming) the main culprit in the GI symptoms I’d been experiencing for the past couple months. The specific parasite I’m dealing with is called Blastocystis Hominis, which you can read more about in my post, here

I have settled on a three-part master plan, which combines many different approaches – medical, natural/holistic, herbal, supplemental, and real-food/paleo-based. I believe that by attacking this parasite from so many different angles in one full swoop that I will ultimately be able to rid my body of B.hominis completely without having to revisit the little bugger in the near future. I want to make this post as clear-cut and straight-forward as possible to help those out who might be in a similar situation, so here goes, my three-part master plan is as follows:

Part One (aka: Prepping the Body for Eradication)

  • Every day for one week..
  • Took two probiotics with a large glass of water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning
  • Following this, mixed 4 grams of L-Glutamine + one tablespoon Diatomaceous Earth in water & drank that
  • Took a Digestive Enzyme complex (NOW Super Enzymes) before each meal
  • Drank a cup of Bone Broth 2.0 before breakfast each morning
  • Ate a diet consisting of well-cooked, sometimes pureed, vegetables – mainly carrots, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, boy choy, & green beans, high quality (preferably grass-fed or pasture-raised) animal protein & seafood, and a good amount of healthy fats such as animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, & avocado oil. 
  • Incorporated fermented foods into my meals such as Kombucha (usually alone or before meals), Coconut Water Kefir (mixed into a drink or a tablespoon alone), and Sauerkraut (sticking to the juice alone or small amounts of the cabbage). 

Part Two (aka Medical Eradication)*

  • Every day for one week..
  • Take Saccharomyces Boulardii (Jarrow Formulas) probiotic twice a day with a large glass of water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning & before bed each night
  • Continue to mix 4 grams of L-Glutamine + one tablespoon Diatomaceous Earth in water & drink each morning
  • Continue with a Digestive Enzyme complex (NOW Super Enzymes) before each meal
  • Drink a cup of Bone Broth 2.0 before breakfast each morning
  • Same diet
  • Take the antibiotic, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (aka Bactrim) twice a day (~ 12 hours apart) following meals (I usually take it around 8:00 am after breakfast and again around 8:00 pm following dinner 
  • Take probiotic, Prescript-Assist, in the middle of the day (as far apart from taking the antibiotic as possible) 
  • Incorporated more fermented foods, with most every meal. I made my own fermented carrots, and have been eating the carrots or sauerkraut along with meals. Have continued drinking coconut water kefir & Kombucha, along with Raw fruit Kvass (a probiotic cultured fruit & veggie drink), throughout the day. 
  • Drink Milk Thistle tea to help protect my liver from becoming damaged as it breaks down the antibiotic medication

*This is the part that I’m currently in the midst of (Day 3, baby!)

Part Three (aka The Herbal Eradication, my Insurance Policy)

  • First, I am going to end my antibiotic course my preforming an at home coffee enema procedure, ordered from sawilsons.com
  • Then I will begin the herbal parasite cleanse, Paragone. This cleanse consists of a variety of herbs, such as the potent parasite-killing herbs, black walnut hull, clove, & wormwood, and lasts 15 days.
  • I will also preform two more at home coffee enemas during this part of the plan – once about mid-way through the 15 days, and one at the end of the 15 days.
  • I will continue to take two probiotics on an empty stomach with water each morning (and probably again before bed each night)
    • The first will be a full-spectrum probiotic – either the Prescript-Assist probiotic I’ve been taking, or Dr. Ron’s Friendly Formula, a probiotic blend of beneficial microorganisms which I just ordered online
    • The second will still be the yeast, Saccharomyces Boulardii (Jarrow Formulas)
  • I will also continue with to mix 4 grams of L-Glutamine + one tablespoon Diatomaceous Earth in water & drink each morning, continue drinking my mug of Bone Broth 2.0 each morning (because I looooove it), and continue to take a digestive enzyme before each meal
  • I will keep my diet the same but may start experimenting with adding a larger variety of vegetables as I see fit (depending on digestive symptoms, how I’m feeling, etc.)
  • And of course, I will continue to consume probiotic-rich foods on a daily basis. I currently have two batches of sauerkraut in the works!
  • I have also ordered a supplement to aid in healing my gut further, called Smooth Operator. This supplement contains a blend of nutrients which promote the healing of the gut cells & restore the lining of the gut, or intestinal permeability. The “leakiness” of my gut has drastically improved since I first started my gut-healing protocol, but B. hominis can do a lot of damage & I want to ensure that my gut is given the proper nutrients to come back strong after this whirlwind. 
  • Lastly, I ordered a Milk Thistle supplement to begin taking daily (since my tea stash is rapidly depleting) to continue to help my Liver detox from the potential damage caused by the antibiotic

Reasoning behind some of my choices/ Resources I’ve found helpful:

  • Saccharomyces Boulardii - I began taking this probiotic a week prior to starting the antibiotic (and during/after the duration of the antibiotic) to 1. To ensure that my body had a supply of beneficial gut flora during my antibiotic course (S. Bouldardii is a non-pathogenic beneficial yeast & is therefore not killed off by antibiotics, unlike other healthy gut flora) & to prevent against antibiotic-associated diarrhea and 2. To compete with the B.hominis for colonization of the GI tract. S. Bouldardii has been used & successful in studies as a more natural method to eradicating B. hominis due to its ability to interfere with the ability of pathogens to colonize and infect the gut mucosa 
  • L-Glutamine – I began taking this weeks ago as part of my gut-healing protocol. L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the lining of the gut & aids in repairing the gut lining & supporting the body’s metabolic processes in fighting off infection – very important both when trying to heal your gut & when taking an antibiotic that can easily kill off your beneficial gut flora (your body’s normal defense system) 
  • Diatomaceous Earth – the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton which is a natural pest/bug killer that can be used in the garden but can also be taken orally to rid your body of any bad bugs. DE is a completely natural & nontoxic substance that aids in internal parasite removal by physically destroying and scraping away at parasites or toxins clinging to the lining of the GI tract. DE passes easily through the digestive system & is expelled through the bowel carrying any bad bacteria, pathogens, etc. with it. 
    • There are also a multitude of other benefits of taking DE dissolved in water (which has a subtle chalky/earthy flavor but isn’t hard to drink down) & you can read more about them here: “Health Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth”
  • Coffee Enemas – I’ve chosen to preform coffee enemas after the antibiotic course, and herbal cleanse to ensure complete eradication of B.hominis because 1. B.hominis has the ability to move down to the lower GI tract (anus, etc) when it feels as though it’s “under attack” & hide out there & recolonize following treatment and 2. The eggs of B.hominis can cling to the intestinal membranes, anal walls, etc. & can also allow for recolonization following treatment AND to help with the symptoms of die-off, potential toxin build up, or other detoxing effects of the antibiotic and herbal cleanse.
  • Laaaastly, some other resources that have been especially helpful to me in formulating this three-part plan are:

 

If you have any further questions regarding my plan/approach please comment below or message me privately! I’ve posted this as an example to others out there who may be dealing with parasites, gut bacteria imbalances, or any other similar GI problems. I know first-hand how frustrating this stuff can be & want to help in any way possible. 

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Bone Broth 2.0

I’m a huge fan of bone broth. Few days go by when I don’t consume bone broth in some shape or form. Whether it be plain, heated in a mug in the morning, blended into a vegetable puree or soup, or added to some crock pot creation (such as stews or pulled pork/beef) – I’ve been enjoying bone broth almost daily for the greater part of this year. And I truly do notice the effects when I consume it regularly – it makes me feel good on the inside & look good on the outside. A couple of the most obvious benefits I’ve experienced are better overall recovery from workouts, stronger/healthier hair & nails, and smoother/clearer skin, among many others.

While I know that while boiling down the bones of animals can seem a little strange or even disturbing to some people in today’s modern society, when almost everything can be found bottled or canned (for utmost convenience) once you get over the initial weirdness of it you’ll realize how very beneficial & wise making a weekly (or monthly) batch of bone broth really is. First, it’s cost effective – purchase a whole chicken, some chicken wings/legs, or a nice big bone-in cut of beef & get the most bang for your buck by devouring the meat & then throwing the leftover bones in the crock pot along with some water, a splash of apple cider vinegar (to help with mineral release), & some spices or vegetables. Within a day or two you’ll have your own homemade meat stock that can be used in future recipes or consumed on it’s own that week or be frozen to be used later on! Second, it’s sooo good for you. The bones of animals contain a plethora of vitamins & minerals & boiling them down allows you to access these untapped reservoirs. The vitamins/minerals found in bone broth are beneficial & healing to the gut, the joints/ligaments of the body, and the connective tissue/skin of the body. You can read more about the benefits of consuming bone broth here & here.

Anyway, this summer I began adding powdered ginger & sea salt to my warm mug of bone broth in the morning & was really enjoying the enhancement in flavor. It wasn’t until this week however when I devised this (what I believe to be) ingenious idea, now known as “Bone Broth 2.0“. While a little powdered ginger & sea salt were pleasant little additions, substitute that powdered ginger with fresh ginger root, add in a clove of garlic, & a touch of coconut oil, and BAM, there’s a recipe worth sharing. When you blend this all together in a high speed blender you get a concoction so creamy & delicious – similar to Bulletproof coffee – Bone Broth style. I contemplated actually calling this recipe “Bulletproof Bone Broth” buuut I know that the term “Bulletproof” is trademarked & I didn’t want to run into any problems. So, Bone Broth 2.0 it is. 

This recipe is especially great if you’re currently trying to cut back on caffeine or looking for something to replace your morning coffee fix. But in any case, try it. You won’t be sorry. So long as you brush your teeth afterwards (that raw garlic isn’t always so forgiving ;) ). 

 

Bone Broth 2.0

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Time: 5-20 minutes

Makes: One serving

Ingredients:

  • A clove of raw Garlic
  • A section of Ginger Root (about 1″ x 1″ or equal proportion to Garlic clove)
  • 1 cup Bone Broth 
  • 1 cup Boiling (or Hot) Water
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt 

Kitchen Tools:

  • Coffee mug
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • High powdered Blender

Directions:

  1. Chop up Garlic & Ginger into small pieces 
  2. Place chopped pieces into a coffee mug & fill with a cup of boiling water
  3. Allow the ginger & garlic to steep in hot water for about 5-15 minutes (optional but recommended) 
  4. Add Bone Broth, Sea Salt, Hot water with the Ginger/Garlic pieces, & Coconut Oil to blender
  5. Blend for about two minutes on medium-high power
  6. Pour into mug & drink up!

Other Options:

  • Try adding other fresh herbs (such as Rosemary or Sage) to the mix just before blending
  • Try adding some fresh Turmeric root (steep with the Garlic & Ginger) for an extra anti-inflammatory boost
  • Replace the Coconut Oil with Grass-fed Butter (if you tolerate it)
  • Add another tablespoon of Coconut Oil for extra creaminess or additional calories if needed!

Pictures:

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Blastocystis Hominis, You’ve Been Caught

So remember those digestive issues I’ve been experiencing for the last several weeks that mysteriously popped up & that I’ve been in the process of fixing using a very specific combined SCD/paleo approach? Weeell when the doctors said that I did not have any parasitic bacteria present in my gut, they were wrong. Yup, that’s right. Turns out I have been infected with a parasite known as Blactocystis Hominis (B. Hominis, for short). But it took a couple stool tests for it to show up. Sneaky little parasite. 

In my most recent stool test the results came back that I have few Blastocystis Hominis present in my gut. Few. Some numbers or perhaps a percentage would be nice. But I guess I’ll settle with few, since that’s all they’ll give me.

When my doctor first called back to tell me the news she informed me that my treatment option was to take a dose of antibiotics – they had two variations available & I could choose which one I preferred. Or, since my symptoms had cleared up & I was no longer experiencing diarrhea I could choose to do nothing. My initial thoughts were hell no am I taking an antibiotic. But rather than express this viewpoint to my doctor I politely told her that I would need a few days to think about it, hung up, and began my new research project.

For the past week I’ve done hours of internet research on Blastocystis Hominis, the traditional medical approach to treatment & different antibiotics’ effectiveness on the parasite, the natural/holistic approach to treatment & different herbs’ effectiveness on the parasite, other methods/tactics used to kill parasites, etc. etc.

I’ve learned a lot about this specific parasite & have come to realize that while I tend to have a rather anti-antibiotic mindset that in certain cases they may be necessary & this may in fact be one of those cases. This parasite is one of the hardest to get rid of for a couple reasons. First, while antibiotics & natural herbs traditionally used to kill of other parasites have been proven effective against B. hominis, it can build up resistance to both forms of treatment rather quickly. It also has a complex life cycle consisting of four different life stages, which do not all respond to the same treatment and therefore while one antibiotic or herb can effectively kill off one form of the bug, say the adult form, the eggs (or cysts) will remain unharmed & thus allow the protozoa to reproduce following treatment. Lastly, B. hominis can inhabit multiple segments of the digestive system, can hide in intestinal mucus, can stick & hold on very tightly to the intestinal membranes, and can retreat to areas such as the large intestine & colon in times of “danger”. 

An additional tricky thing about B. hominis is that it has been found present in the GI tract (in smaller quantities) in completely asymptomatic or seemingly healthy people but also in the gut of those (usually in larger quantities) experiencing severe digestive problems such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, IBS-like symptoms, and more. In recent years it has been discovered that different subtypes of the parasite exist and it is speculated that certain subtypes may cause negative symptoms while other subtypes do not. Subtype I is believed to be the pathogenic type, more likely to cause symptomatic infections or pose risk when combined with other types of infection or when in the presence of other pathogenic or “bad” types of bacteria. Subtype 3 is believed to be the asymptomatic type, predominantly found in the guts of individuals experiencing no current negative digestive symptoms. However, there are also intra subtypes found amongst subtype 3, and differences in the morphology of these intra subtypes correlates with the organisms pathogenic potential. In other words, if B. hominis (subtype 3) exists in one morphology in an individual they will experience no symptoms, however if that same organism transitions to a more mature morphology then the individual will progress from an asymptomatic to a symptomatic state. In other words, Blastocystis hominis seriously sucks. 

Blastocystis hominis, in it’s parasitic state (or when it grows/gets out of control) can do a lot of damage to the intestinal wall, leading to a leaky gut, inflammation, & decreased immunity. This alone explains why there is a strong association between B. hominis & IBS and why B. hominis is so often detected in patients with IBS. This also explains why the symptoms I was experiencing back in May/June were so similar to those that occur when someone has a leaky gut or IBS/IBD. I will never know for sure but my speculation is that I somehow contracted this parasite & either 1. my immune system/gut was already compromised (due to a past recent viral infection or just overall stress in general) allowing the parasite to reproduce & cause some serious damage or 2. there were some other bad bacteria already present in my gut & they joined forces with the new addition (B.hominis) to wreck havoc together. Joy.    

The strength of the disease (termed, Blastocystosis) greatly depends upon the condition of your body. Since I was able to heal my leaky gut & correct any other bacterial imbalances with a gut healing protocol (that you can read about here) I currently have few B.hominis present in my gut & have what would be referred to as an asymptomatic case of B. hominis. So while I could easily choose to do nothing, put the parasite in the back of my mind, & hope that it presents no future difficulties, this is not something I feel comfortable doing. B. hominis attacks the body violently & creates trouble when it’s under stress or weakened. While I aim to keep my daily life as stress-free as possible, one of my favorite activities is CrossFit, an exercise/fitness program where stress is inevitable. I am also entering my senior year of college & want to be able to go out with friends & enjoy myself without having to worry about my leaky gut or digestive issues returning. Because of this I want to completely eradicate my gut of all Blastocystis hominis. I want those suckers outta here. 

In order to do this I have made the decision to use a combined medical/natural approach. I am going to continue with my current diet that now consists of low-starch veggies such as cooked zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, spinach, and carrots, lots of healthy fat primarily animal fats, coconut oil, and olive oil, and a good amount of protein ideally from grass-fed/pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish/seafood. I have also been drinking bone broth (made weekly from the bones of local, grass-fed cows) every morning and consuming gelatin (in the form of tea gummies) regularly. This is the diet that has helped to heal my leaky gut/digestive issues most likely caused by this parasite in the first place and therefore will be the one I stick with as I begin my plan in killing the parasite for good. I may make a few adjustments here & there, adding a few more types of vegetables or foods as I see fit but most simply each of my meals will consist of a some high-quality animal protein, a good amount of healthy fat (either added or naturally occuring in the cut of meat), and some low-carb/sugar veggies. I have yet to make any firm decisions regarding the antibiotic but I think that taking it is inevitable & as soon as I have a solid plan laid out I will be writing a follow up post on the exact steps I am going to take, so stay tuned!

While people generally have large amounts of trouble eradicating this parasite, which I initially found discouraging, this now serves as fuel for the fire. I am highly determined to get this parasite out of my system so that I can continue to heal my gut & become the healthiest version of myself. See ya later, B. hominis. 

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SCD Reflections – Weeks 2 & 3

So this is going to be a pretty short post. I didn’t really change much during weeks 2 & 3 of my Specific Carbohydrate Gut Healing Protocol because I already had a lot of change/activity going on & I didn’t think that messing with my diet would be a good idea.

During Week Two, I had two visitors – the first being my mother and the second being my precious little monthly gift. My mom came to Denver for a mother-daughter visit & to fly me back to Maryland for the rest of the Summer. We had a lot planned over her five day/four night visit & were constantly bouncing from one activity to the next so I thought it would be best to keep my diet consistent & stick with the meats, fats, & carrots/zucchini purees during her stay. I did however up my kombucha intake quite a bit to about a bottle a day (thanks mom!) & did make a butternut squash soup for us one night. Both of these didn’t seem to cause any problems : )  Also since my monthly gift also came for a visit during this week which contributed to its own set of GI distress/symptoms I figured I’d also let that run its path before introducing any new foods or making any other changes.

During Week Three, I had a big change at the beginning of the week in the form of me traveling/moving from Denver to Maryland. I figured it would also be a good idea to give my body a couple days to adjust to the new environment/time difference & get settled in at home before changing up anything diet wise as well. During this first week back at home I’ve noticed a general improvement in my symptoms as I’ve continued to up my fat intake each day by adding more coconut oil into my pureed carrots or zucchini as well as drizzled on top of my lean meats (such as beef patties or chicken breast). I’ve found that increasing my fat helps a lot with hunger cravings & keeps me more satiated & able to go 4-5 hours in between meals. The couple of small changes I’ve made during this week have been trying out Avocado Oil (which I added to a zucchini puree), trying out Cilantro (which I added to some shredded Chicken), and experimenting with leaving some of the zucchini peel on & not removing all of the seeds prior to pureeing. All of these changes seemed to go ok. Lastly, I got multiple blood tests/stool tests taken at the beginning of the week so get confirmation that I do not have any sort of inflammatory infections or gut parasites/viruses. The tests all came back negative except for one blood test which showed a small amount of white blood cells in my gut. My doctor spoke with the GI specialists at the office who are not concerned with these results, although they do show a certain amount of inflammation in my GI tract so I’m going to keep this in mind and will do a little bit of research on it in the upcoming week. 

Lifestyle-wise I’ve been adding more CrossFit WOD’s back in which don’t seem to be doing any damage so far! Last week I went in for a total of 3 WOD’s – two which were more intense & one that was a little less intense & more strength-based. I plan on doing this again during Week 4 but will probably add in an additional less intense/strength-based WOD along with at least two days of yoga. I’ve also been practicing free-running sleep which is pretty much just going to bed when you begin to feel tired – ideally within an hour or two of the sun setting – and waking up naturally. The first couple of days I still got sleepy around the 3-4 pm point but the past couple days have felt pretty awake/energetic throughout the day. I’m hoping to get to the point where I have steady and abundant energy during all light hours & do not have those late afternoon slump/lack of energy periods. I’m going to be home through the end of August & hope to continue sticking with this free-running sleep cycle for the majority of my remaining summer vacation so I can enter the new school year well-rested, rejuvenated, and with healthy body, mind, and gut. 

During Week Four I plan on making a few small changes:

First, I’m going to start taking a new probiotic. I had to leave the Klaire Labs probiotic I was taking back in Denver because it requires refrigeration but I had also ordered another probiotic a few weeks back, Prescript-Assist, which does not require refrigeration and has been highly recommended by health professional, Chris Kresser, among others. (I was weary of trying this probiotic out at first because it also contains pre-biotics, which I read in Digestive Health with Real Food (by Aglaee Jacob) should be avoided if you are experiencing diarrhea because it can exacerbate the symptoms and also can feed the the bad bacteria in the gut in addition to the good bacteria.)

Second, I’m going to start making tweaks to my vegetables such not peeling or de-seeding the zucchini prior to cooking/pureeing, eating both carrots and zucchini cooked but not pureed, and adding in one or two new foods – either spinach, green beans, or yellow squash. 

Week Four has got some seriously exciting stuff in the works.. ; )

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Pork Chops, Simple & Delicious

So this isn’t exactly the most creative “recipe” in the world. But, it’s simple and it’s delicious (hence the name). And it’s this way of cooking pork chops that converted me from someone who formerly hated pork chops, seeing them as too dry & bland, to a proud bone gnarling enthusiast. 

And seeing as though I’m in the midst of a real food/paleo/SCD – style gut healing protocol I don’t have a lot to work with recipe wise. So I figured I would share this one. I’ve made pork chops this way four times now over the course of two weeks and they’ve been down right delicious every single time. I declare them restaurant-worthy. They’re also super quick to make, they can be on the table within 15 minutes – so long as the pork chops are de-thawed – so they’re great to make when you want something meaty & satisfying but don’t have a lot of time to cook. And great to have in the back of your mind for when you want to impress someone who you don’t mind sucking on a bone in front of. But maybe skip it for the squeamish, “polite” guests, because bone sucking is an absolute requirement with these bad boys.

Simple (& Delicious) Pork Chops

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Time: About 12-14 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Pork chops, preferably bone-in
  • Coconut oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Spice(s) of choice – Sage, Cinnamon, Ginger, Rosemary, etc.

Kitchen Tools:

  • Flat-bottomed cooking pan
  • Tongs
  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Add enough Coconut Oil to your pan to cover the bottom (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  3. Heat up the Coconut Oil to medium-high heat for about a minute
  4. Add Pork Chops to pan & sear for two minutes on first side
  5. Flip each pork chop over & sear for another two minutes on second side
  6. Add Pork Chops to baking sheet (can be lined with aluminum foil to help with clean up), top with a little bit of Sea Salt & put in oven for 8-10 minutes. I’ve found 8 minutes to be perfect for 3-4 pork chops, but gage time depending on the amount you’re cooking. 
  7. Remove Pork Chops from oven, sprinkle some additional Sea Salt on top, add spices of Choice, and Serve!

Side Notes:

  • The spices listed above (under ingredients) are those that I’ve found pair nicely with Pork Chops. Cinnamon + Ginger + Sea Salt, or Sage + Sea Salt have been my favorites so far.

Pictures:

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Reflections After One Week of SCD

I have officially completed the Intro Phase of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and am a little over a week into my gut healing protocol. Aka, a little over one week closer to healing my gut.

The Intro Diet is meant to be followed for 2-5 days & while I was originally planning on following it for three days, I decided to follow my gut instinct (literally..) & go for another day. So Monday – Thursday of last week my diet consisted of carrot baby food, chicken soup/broth, and homemade gelatin gummies. Basically I got a sneak peak into the dietary joys of a nursing home.

But in all reality, it wasn’t really that bad. Sure I was a little hungry. Ok more like ravenous. But the week went by quickly. And turned out to be well worth the deprivation because it helped. That’s right, one week in & I am seeing progress. And man does it feel good. My symptoms have not completely gone away but they’ve gotten significantly better. 

First, I’d like to briefly outline what I did/ate for the Intro Diet (as well as the days following)..

Monday – Thursday all pretty much looked like different variations of this:

Wake up & first thing take my Probiotic with a big glass of cold water

Next, dissolve 3-4 grams of L-Glutamine in around 8 oz. of water & drink that while boiling some hot water

Once the hot water has boiled, fill a mug of half bone broth with half boiling water (& some salt & sometimes powdered ginger), Take a Digestive Enzyme & drink the hot bone broth during my morning meditation/stretching routine

Meditation/Stretching Routine: It’s pretty simple. Basically I begin seated or standing (whatever I feel my body needs that morning) with my hot mug of bone broth at my side & dab a little bit  of Peppermint Essential Oil into both palms. I rub my palms together & spread the Peppermint Oil all over my lower stomach/belly area. I then close my eyes & focus on breathing deep & sending positive, healing energies towards my gut. After a few minutes of this I cup my palms underneath my nose & do a few rounds of inhales & exhales, making sure to make my breaths as deep as possible & using the peppermint scent to clear out my head & awaken my body. Depending on my mood I will then engage in some light yoga or stretching movements (seated, standing, or a combination of both). I usually drink my bone broth throughout the session & once it’s done & I feel complete I will go & fix my breakfast. 

Breakfast: Chicken soup* with small amount pureed Carrots (either mixed in or on the side) – 

Lunch: Usually a grass-fed beef Burger with a small amount of pureed Carrots & homemade Gelatin Gummies**

Snacks (if needed): Gelatin Gummies, a can of Sardines with Lemon Juice, another Burger, or a a mug of hot tea or large glass of iced tea (usually Peppermint or Licorice Root)

Dinner: Chicken Soup (+ another burger or small amount of pureed carrots if needed)

 

*Chicken soup was made by cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot for 4-5 hours then shredding/storing the chicken meat & adding the chicken carcass back to the crockpot covered in water & to simmer down. After 12-24 hours, I strained & discarded the carcass & added the chicken meat back to the broth, letting it all cook together for about an hour before cooling & storing it in the fridge

**Gelatin gummies were made by steeping tea bags (usually a combination of Licorice Root, Peppermint, and/or Ginger) in 3-4 cups of boiling water & then re-heating the water to a simmer while whisking 5-8 tablespoons of Gelatin into the tea one tablespoon at a time until all incorporated. Then pouring the mixture into a pyrex baking dish, refrigerating it for 3-4 hours (or overnight), and then cutting the gummies up into individual squares. 

 

Overall what I noticed:

  • My symptoms seemed to get a bit worse before they got better. The first 2-3 days I definitely saw an increase in my predominant symptom
  • I was very tired. But despite how tired I was I was not experiencing very high quality sleep. I’m not sure if it was due to my nervousness/preoccupation with my digestive issues or my hunger resulting from the diet switch (or a little of both) but for some reason I experienced some trouble sleeping during my first week. I’m usually pretty good about sleeping throughout the night but I would wake up a couples times a night & would have trouble falling asleep & getting back to sleep after these interruptions. I also was not able to sleep in past 6:30-7:00 am despite still being tired.
  • Slight symptoms of what could’ve been die off – the body’s reaction to the shift in bacteria & killing off of bad bacteria. The symptoms of die off can range from an increase in your negative symptoms (such as diarrhea or constipation) to headaches, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, brain fog, intense cravings, etc.  For me, I think the die off came in a couple different forms – my symptoms increased (& both my stools/pee began smelling pretty awful), I experienced anxiety/restlessness, and on the 4th day I experienced some serious fatigue/brain fog/flu-like symptoms. 
  • While it was hard, I think it was definitely a smart decision to take time off from CrossFit during this first week. Rather than my normal exercise routine I chose walking, light yoga classes, and meditation classes over going into my CrossFit box. I simply was not eating enough calories to support this type of activity & I think this type of stress would’ve hindered my progress. 

Progress/Benefits seen thus far:

  • An improvement in my urgency/frequency to use the bathroom. That is all I will say.
  • My skin looks healthier. I have psoriasis, and luckily I’ve been able to put it into remission & get most of it all cleared up but there were a couple remaining faded spots on one of my legs and arms that I’ve noticed have gone away even more so over the past week! My skin also looks very hydrated & smooth and is overall glowing. Get at me, bone broth. 
  • The vibrating/rumbling sensation in my lower abdomen has disappeared! I began experiencing these odd vibrating sensations in lower left abdomen shortly after eating & also throughout the day/night that were beginning to concern me, but about two days into the Intro Diet these went away completely. I take that as a good sign.
  • My sleep has improved now. I think seeing some sort of progress has settled my anxiety about my gut issues & with that I’ve been able to settle into a deep sleep almost every night following the four initial days on the Intro Diet.
  • I finally went to a guided meditation class at this meditation center nearby my house that I’ve been wanting to check out for months. Meditation is intimidating & can easily be put on the back burner especially when there is so much else going on in life that you’d rather prioritize such as exercise, studying, hanging out with friends/family, sleeping, etc. But taking this time to slow down & heal opened up the opportunity to finally check out a lead meditation class. The class was an hour & a half long (with a quick potty break in the middle) and while it did seem pretty long, I loved it! And since then I’ve successfully started my own daily meditation/breathing/relaxation type practice. Every morning I begin my day with a few minutes of deep breathing, body/mind scanning, and positive thinking. I like to take this time to start my day off focusing on both myself & my own personal healing as well as on others in my life who I feel could benefit from some positive vibes & good thoughts sent their way. 

Soo with that being said, what’s next..?!

I’m going to continue with the SCD/Paleo approach to healing my gut. I’ve now added zucchini back into my diet successfully (in the cooked & pureed form) & have also increased my fats (mostly in the form of coconut oil & animal fat) which has helped with the hunger pangs. Oh & I’ve also added a Kombucha or two (exclusively in the form of GT’s Organic Raw Gingerade) – girls gotta have a treat! I’ve kept everything else the same & am still seeing progress! I plan on sticking with this for the next week & then reintroducing a safe vegetable or fat back in every 3 days or so to provide more variety & nutrients to my diet. I think next on my list will be either cooked/sauteed spinach or cooked/steamed green beans. Hopefully all goes well. I will be posting my week two progress next week!

Oh & a quick tip for anyone out there wanting to try out this type of gut-healing protocol – preparation is key! 

 

IMG_5271Made a quick trip to Whole Foods to get stocked up on some essentials – Ginger Kombucha, Whole Chicken (for soup), a portion of Salmon (on sale baby!), some Marrow Bones (for bone broth), & a can of Salmon (for quick protein in a pinch!)

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Prepped for the first half of the week. Left to right – a batch of Licorice Root/Ginger Gummies (before being cut up), Pureed Zucchini & Carrots, Shredded Chicken, Shrimp, Beef/Turkey Burgers, & plenty of Chicken Stock/Bone Broth. 

 

A few meals from the first week:

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