AIP · Food Allergy Family · main dishes

A Post-AIP Update, and Shrimp Fried Cauli-Rice (AIP, Whole30, Paleo, Allergy Friendly, and So On…)

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  — Mark 6:31 (NIV)

Dear Joey,

One of my blogging pet peeves is this: a post that starts with a line that goes something like this: “YOU GUYS–I’m SO sorry I haven’t written for, like, ever, but things have been crazy around here–I mean, like, CRAZY. I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to breathe, let alone update anything here. But whatevs–I’m baa-aack!” What’s with the apology? Do bloggers really think readers need that? We’re all busy: readers and writers alike, because we’re living in a culture that is frenetic. So often busy is a badge we pin on to prove our worth–to ourselves more than to anybody else, I think. But Jesus himself shows us that right there, in the middle of those busy seasons, we need to pull back, take a break, rest. Let’s all give ourselves a little grace, shall we?

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In this season, living my actual life has mattered more than writing about it all, and so the words haven’t been presenting themselves to me. Emery started potty training; Addie had a hard time adjusting to new people and surroundings; Mia cried and whined and clung to me after school every day; and I visited the doctor more times in the past few months than probably my whole adulthood combined. Project after home-improvement project began in full force around here we’re praying for direction to determine where our family’s future will be. House hunting started again, and then there was homework and more homework and sisters learning the hard way how to coexist peaceably, and a little boy who is very good at being two years old. And through it all, everyone wanted to eat something other than mixed greens with salmon.

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Going through the motions leaves me wrung out though, and while others may paint or sing or play the guitar, I write to recharge. And so, without further ado, here’s my attempt to give myself a break and write a short update on what’s been going on around the Love, Scratch kitchen:

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). One word: yikes. Another three: difficult, but doable. Whole30 claims it is not hard to do, and after you completed your own Whole30, you confirmed that it wasn’t hard at all. But guess what? The AIP is hard to do. No, it’s not fighting cancer difficult, it’s not dealing with the death of a loved one difficult, but it is a different sort of difficult. The AIP is far more restrictive than Whole30, so the logistics of doing the shopping and preparing the food made the whole thing time consuming and exhausting. I imagine if I were a single, unattached female with plenty of cash to spare and no one else to think about or care for, the AIP might be easier. I’m not any of those things though, so the AIP made me tired and took away the fun of cooking and eating. But it was doable. The food was yummy, monotonous as it was. Sweet potatoes with coconut oil and sea salt, or mixed greens topped with lean protein and a drizzle of red wine vinegar and olive oil became my go-to meals. What helped was knowing it wasn’t forever–well, that and your resounding cry of “Solidarity, Rach.”

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Even so, sometimes it was easier not to eat at all. Toward the end, you munched on your salt and pepper pistachios as I sat silently sipping my sparkling water, turning my nose up at an evening snack of coconut chips because coconut as a food group could disappear, for as much as I cared by the time the first 30 days were over. (I really think I may have killed my taste for coconut and avocado, too–and I’m waiting with bated breath to see if I will ever enjoy them the way I used to.) By the end of those first 30 days, my appreciation for you and your support reached new heights, and you have no idea how much hearing it over and over lifted my spirits and kept me from sneaking bits of dark chocolate into my mouth when your back was turned.

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After 30 days, I added restricted foods back in quicker than recommended. It was a desperate time because the stress of other aspects of life swirled and threatened to take me down and I swear if I had to drizzle honey and coconut milk into weak black tea one more time I was going to lose it. I learned I enjoy coffee for its actual flavor and not just the hit of cream and sugar that typically comes along with it, and I use chocolate as a coping mechanism. I also learned I’m 100% ok with that. Neither bothers my system, as it turns out, and they were among the first foods that found their way back into daily life. Since then, I have added eggs and spices and nightshades and nuts and even small amounts of dairy–everything except copious amounts of gluten free grains and legumes, really–and I’m doing great.

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I was still in the process of slowly adding things back into my diet when we went to ATT Park to watch Matt Cain pitch his final game in the major leagues, though, so instead of snacking on popcorn or nachos or even a hot dog on a gluten free bun, I opted for peanut M&M’s because somehow those seemed like a better choice. The rare treat tasted fantastic for about a half a second, until the box was empty and I felt yucky. Faint dizziness was my companion for well over week after that. I’m still not sure whether it was the surge of sugar or the peanuts or just sheer coincidence (dizziness can be a symptom of food sensitivity during the reintroduction phase), and really, I may never know. Either way, the experience certainly did not make me eager to snack on the usually off-limits snack any time soon. (Mia-bug, you are not missing out on anything.)

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The good that came out of the AIP experiment is this: I can do hard things, even when it comes to food. Also, I have a newfound appreciation for the convenience of a jar of marinara sauce. Mostly, though, I’m thankful to know my digestive troubles really are linked mostly to grain–glutenous ones, mainly (though I’m not completely certain because I have not reintroduced all grains, yet. Rice seems to be ok, but I’ve only really tried very small amounts in things like a sample bite of a new banana oat muffin recipe I’m working on for the Goobies. And about two gluten free Joe-Joe’s. But I digress.) I also realized, again, how fantastic my body feels when I stick to foods that don’t contain grains at all. We tended to cook and eat grain free in our pre-AIP/Whole30 days anyway, and the fact that we didn’t dive into big bowls piled high with gluten free pasta as soon as that month was over tells me we will continue to eat mostly grain free. (I suspect I will seek out the gluten free hot dogs at ATT park and skip the peanut M&M’s from now on, though.)

And so, I’ll keep coming up with grain free foods that feed us well. Gluten free goodies will be part of our lives too, because they can be, thank you Lord–and peanuts will continue to stay far, far away from our kitchen until the day Mia’s prayer for healing is answered the way we all hope it will be. I may write about the recipes, because it recharges me, but I might not get around to it as quickly as I’d like, because I’m allowing myself to rest. But I promise to keep the kitchen humming along in real life, feeding the frenzied brood we call Goobies as best I can. I bet I’ll even enjoy it again in the days and weeks to come.

Love,

Scratch

Shrimp Fried Cauli-Rice

IMG_3451This dish was borne out of a craving for Chinese food well into my AIP adventure. Chinese food is a hard one for my anyway (because soy sauce has gluten in it, which renders Chinese takeout a mere memory, for the most part), but with the additional restrictions of the AIP, Chinese food seemed like a lost cause. Coconut aminos are a good substitute for soy sauce, but its sweetness demands to be offset with an acid–like lime juice. Lime juice and shrimp are match made in heaven anyway, and so this version of shrimp fried cauliflower rice was born (but of course, use chicken instead of shrimp if you’re allergic to shellfish). It’s AIP (when prepared without scrambled eggs or red chili flakes), Paleo, Whole30, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, nut free, you know–all the things–but don’t let that convince you it’s anything but delicious. This one made it to the top ten list of Joey’s most requested dinners fast, and it was the AIP dish I made when I was just plain tired of sweet potatoes and salad.

Ingredients:
  • a couple dollops of refined coconut oil (refined = no coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 pounds frozen cauliflower rice (2 bags from Trader Joe’s freezer section)
  • 1 pound frozen pre-cooked bay shrimp, thawed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • optional: 2-4 eggs, scrambled (omit for AIP)
  • optional: red chili flakes (omit for AIP)
Method:

First, dice the carrots and par-cook them (I put the diced carrots in a microwave safe bowl and cover them with water, then microwave them for about three minutes to soften. This speeds up the whole affair, but feel free to saute them in the oil before tossing in the frozen cauliflower rice.) Drain them when they are tender (not mushy), and set aside.

Next, in whisk together the coconut aminos, lime juice, ginger and sea salt and it set aside as well.

Then, if you’re going to toss scrambled eggs into your finished dish, go ahead and scramble them now in a separate pan. When they’re done, set them aside too.

On to the main event: plunk a couple dollops of coconut oil into a saute pan and warm it up over medium high heat. Toss in the frozen cauliflower rice and toss to coat in oil, then crank up the heat to high. Add the par-cooked carrots, green onions and minced garlic and stir. Next, pour in the sauce and stir and cook and stir and cook–it won’t take long for the sauce to start to coat the veggies and evaporate. Add the shrimp next and stir and cook some more, and finally add the scrambled eggs (if desired) and toss to coat them in sauce too. Top the whole thing with a few more sliced green onions (and red chili flakes, if you like things spicy–and aren’t AIP.)

 

AIP · What I Ate · What I Love Lately

What I Love Lately: AIP for Me Edition

Dear Joey,

Clearly you are well acquainted with what you can eat on the Whole30, but do you ever wonder what I’m eating these days? (I bet sometimes you wonder if I eat at all.)

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) seems tricky, right? Like the Whole30, but more restrictive, more purposed. Lots of folks stare blankly at me when I mention I’m not eating tomatoes right now. Or coffee. Or seeds. The truth is, though–it’s not terribly complicated, and it helps to have these lists posted in the kitchen cabinets. Really, the AIP is the most stripped down diet I can imagine–meat, veggies, and fruit. The thing that makes it the most tricky, really, is that not all veggies are on the “yes” list–nightshades (things like tomatoes and peppers and white potatoes eggplants) and legumes with edible pods (like green beans) are on the “no” list, which admittedly makes my heart break a little bit every time I go out to the garden to pluck those ruby red gems off the vine. Otherwise, staying within the AIP parameters isn’t hard, exactly, because it’s similar to the way I ate before the AIP anyway. The biggest hurdles have been staying away from eggs and cutting out nightshades, nuts, or seeds (which includes coffee and chocolate.)

But I’m finding my footing and making it work, and in return, it’s working for me. I pretty much feel like I’m on autopilot these days: I click the “on” switch and my brain somehow just knows what to do. It wasn’t that way at first; it took a couple days to get the hang of it (I mistakenly sprinkled pepper on my salad on day 1. Whoops.)

In the morning, I meet the day armed with a smoothie made with canned full fat coconut milk. Trader Joe’s makes theirs without any emulsifiers or gums, so it’s perfect to whirl together with a frozen banana, a handful of frozen berries and a scoop of integral collagen. If I’m feeling particularly spunky, I drizzle in some honey, too, or maca powder to add a hint of nutty sweetness to the mix. This usually satisfies me until lunchtime, which isn’t super surprising since I make I use full fat coconut milk. Sometimes I don’t even drink the whole thing (because Emery swoops in and steals it without asking).

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When lunchtime rolls around, I do one of two things depending on my mood: heat up leftovers from dinner the night before or make a fresh salad, like this one with arugula, grilled chicken, sliced Persian cucumbers, strawberries, green onions, tossed together with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (and a sprinkle of sea salt to finish). Sometimes I toss in a can of wild salmon instead, or a handful of wild bay shrimp. Sometimes I even change it up and make tuna salad with avocado mayo from my new favorite cookbook, The Healing Kitchen, which is brimming with useful AIP guides and AIP recipes. If I’m still hungry, I don’t shy away from eating leftover pulled pork straight from the fridge. Or a scoop of roasted coconut butter straight from the jar. You know how classy I am, right?

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Afternoon snacks are often sliced apples with roasted coconut butter or a handful of Made in Nature Cinnamon Swirl Toasted Coconut Chips (sweetened with maple syrup, which is ok for me, but not for you. So sorry, Whole30 diehard). There’s always sweet little mandarins or dried apricots or slices of Plainville Farms organic sliced turkey rolled around a dill pickle wedge. Yesterday I finished off the bag of my new favorite Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips because a crunchy, salty snack = my happy place.

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Dinner is when the real challenge happens. It’s 5:00, the kids are tiredhungrygrumpyfamished, and negotiating my restrictions with everyone else’s restrictions (and their preferences) gets tricky. I am learning to make one common main dish to center the meal and hold it together while spin offs happen in every direction, like Braised Beef Roast with Kale and Dried Cherries, which the kids ate sans kale over brown rice noodles, and we ate over cauliflower rice. Everyone loved it (well, everyone loved the beef; the kids turned their noses up to the kale), and leftovers didn’t last long around here. (The next day I warmed up a bowl and topped it off with leftover honey roasted carrots. That was a good day.)

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But then there’s dessert. (Strictly speaking, Whole30ers like you shouldn’t be eating anything for dessert. So let’s call it an after dinner snack, shall we?) Sometimes we’re hungry after the Goobies are fast asleep (when dinner is served around 5:30, hungry happens, you know?), so we often grab a bag of Trader Joe’s Sweet Plantain Chips and use them to scoop up smooth, creamy Organic Wholly Guacamole minis (which don’t have any peppers, thus making them nightshade free!). Sometimes I miss surprising you with fancy cheese trays and a glass of wine, but I find that dates all rolled up inside a blanket of Whole30/AIP approved bacon and a sparkling water makes you equally happy.

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And of course, there’s often some sort of AIP test treat lurking around the kitchen, and even though most of the time they’re only ok-ish, repeat performances usually yield progressively better results–like when that AIP pie failed miserably the first time around, but has since been perfected. Pies and crumbles and pastries so delicious will soon abound, and I’m sure we’ll get these Goobies on board with us in no time.

Until then, thanks for the solidarity. Love does hard things together.

Love,

Scratch

 

 

 

 

AIP · Learning from Mistakes · Life with Littles · Paleo · Trying Something New

How Crying Turned to Laughing, and the Story of an AIP Fail

Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.”

Luke 6:21 (NIV)

Dear Joey,

So I made a pie on Sunday.

In classic Rachel style, the thought of getting back into the comforting rhythm of cooking helped ease me out of the thick blanket of despair I wrapped around myself last week when the ER doctor threw his hands up and said, “You are a medical mystery.”

That’s what we all want to hear when we are being discharged from a 6 hour stint in the ER, isn’t it? My other phantom pain flared up last Wednesday, sharp in front and cutting through to the back, making each breath feel like razors were rattling inside. I went to the ER, a visit that left me more bewildered than I was before I went in. I spent the next few days shedding a lot of silent tears at night, trying to feel better. By Sunday I was out from under the blanket, but weak and fumbling and without much of an appetite. By Sunday, pie sounded soothing.

Ah, but–the AIP. And the Whole30(ish) thing you’re doing. Clearly, pie, or any other sort of comfort food was not the way to soothe away this particular heartache. And yet, I am not doing this crazy restrictive diet to lose weight or retrain my brain to eat only when I am really hungry, or even to retrain my palate to learn to love flavors as they naturally occur. I am doing it because I don’t have much other choice, at the moment. I have been sick, and I needed to heal.

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And so after I fought with myself over whether to make a pie or not, I chided myself for toying with the idea of not making it, and I headed into the kitchen to make the most miserable pie I ever made. And I learned (again) three things:

  1. Listen to my gut.
  2. Laughter soothes my heart just as well as a good slice of pie can.
  3. God doesn’t always work the way I think He will, but I can trust Him anyway.

So this pie: I admit I had my doubts about it from the get go. Although it was completely AIP compliant and looked normalish, something about the ingredients just sort of nagged at me, telling me “I’m not going to work the way you think I will.” 

But I ignored it, saying to myself What do I know? I’m still learning how to use all these ingredients the right way, and who am I to say whether there’s something wrong with the recipe? I whisked together the coconut flour and arrowroot starch, tossed in some sea salt and cut in the coconut oil. I pressed the dough-like-substance into the bottom of a pie pan, crimped the edges with a fork and poked holes in the bottom. I baked it until golden, the smell of the toasty warm crust working its way into my heart and lifting my spirits as it went.

As it baked, I stirred together frozen mixed berries and lemon juice, brought it to a boil, and then reduced the heat to let it simmer away by half. Then I tossed in another few cups of berries into the thick, juicy syrup, gave it a stir and waited to pour it into its cradle. Out popped the crust, in went the filling, and back into the oven the whole thing went for another few minutes, just long enough to fill the house with the enticing aroma that comes only from a freshly baked pie.

 

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This thing looked perfect. Unbelievable, really. On the oven top it sat, and you jokingly said you’d buy me a house with a kitchen that had a windowsill for me to cool pies on, and buy me pretty spin dresses and high heels, and a string of pearls and new tubes of lipstick, too. We laughed, because it was late in the afternoon and I was still in my pajamas, and holy moly if I needed a shower.

But the pie sat there like a promise: almost too good to be true.

Emery heard the oohs and ahhs, and clamored for a piece of pie after polishing off his dinner plate. “I want pie,” he said as he nodded his head, letting us know this was not a request, but a requirement.

So I got out a knife and a pie server and a plate, set up my cutting station and huffed under my breath, “I don’t know about this…

IMG_2876The crust wasn’t cooked through at all. In fact, it was a goopy mess of what can only be called Paleo slime. No one believed me that it was ruined–the thing looked too beautiful to be ruined, except the whole thing was soft and mushy–an utter mess–on the inside.

I scooped some out anyway, believing you when you told me it probably tasted better than it looked. (You remember I told you it had absolutely no added sweetener to it, right? No sugar, no stevia, no honey or maple syrup? Nada!) I lovingly brought the plate to that expectant little boy of ours, who was beside himself happy for the only piece of pie he’s ever asked for. Pie isn’t something I make regularly.

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A look of glee and contentment spread across his face as he scooped up his first big bite, only to be replaced by revulsion in an instant.

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Laughter erupted around the table, of course, which egged you on to try to convince him to take another bite, which he did, the poor kid.

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He glared at you, unsure. Angry. Duped.

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Somehow, you convinced him to try again.

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To say he hated the pie it is an understatement.

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And yet, somehow, he managed to recognize our laughter in the middle of his own freak out. The boy clearly inherited your jocularity because once he noticed he was the center of attention, and he willingly took a few more yucky bites to get a few good laughs out of it.

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I was ready to toss the whole thing. You and my parents (and even Emery, to some small degree) convinced me not to, though, insisting that we had to at least try it because so what if it didn’t turn out perfect the first time? (Agreed. I don’t care about perfection: I care about palatability.)

I should have trusted myself. I had serious doubts about the merits of this recipe before I even attempted to make it. I wasn’t really surprised when the crust failed miserably. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong or where, but something did go wrong.

We still ate the pie (shockingly). It wasn’t sweet, but it wasn’t tart either. It just tasted like really good baked fruit (if that’s a thing?). And the oozy pie crust turned into something more akin to a topping than a crust, and the whole thing ended up giving us a satisfying (if unconventional) small bite of something sweet-ish after dinner that night. But I think the best thing about that pie was the laughter it elicited. Hearing belly laughs around the table was like medicine–it cleared my head and released my tension and helped me see beyond myself, and outward toward the people and things that bring me joy. And through it, God seemed to whisper to me, “I’m not going to work the way you think I will. But trust me anyway.”

Love,

Scratch