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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Catch-Up + News

Image from Still Blog

It's been such a long time. I haven't abandoned the blog, though. I'm still here. Summer is crawling by here in the South. We've had more rain than usual, so everything stayed greener for longer than it usually does. It's been nice to have slightly cooler spells after the rain to get lots of walking in. Now that the heat is back, it's hard for me to get a walk in unless I'm up super early or wait until sundown. I really do think there's something magical about walking that helps improve health on many levels.


I have to admit that I'm not a fan of heat and humidity, and my insomnia loves to kick into high gear every summer and I wake up with the sun, despite going to bed usually around midnight. I had great luck for awhile resolving it through addressing circadian issues. Making sure to get morning sun first thing, and making sure to wear my blue blockers from 9 pm on as well as turning off my computer and not watching TV past 10 made a huge difference. I now at least fall asleep much more quickly and I was able to stay asleep. For awhile... Now I'm waking up early again, but it's different this time. I seem to not be able to sleep through the night without waking up to pee. And lots of peeing all day (am I even absorbing any of the water I'm drinking?)! Super annoying.

You know I like to figure things out using Traditional Chinese Medicine, so judging by my symptom profile and the look of my tongue, I could use some Kidney Yang boosting. So, I ordered some Rehmannia Eight formula. This formula is also known to be good for hypothyroidism, the adrenals, and hormone balance. However, many Chinese herbal blends are specific to defined patterns of imbalance, so, unless you know what your pattern of energetic imbalance is, don't go taking a formula willy-nilly. The good folks at Eagle Herbs (in the link) do email consults and can help you to choose an appropriate formula.


Now on to some fun news~

I just finished testing a new interactive online brain health course! I'm really excited about it. I think it's going to be an amazing tool for people who want to take greater control of their brain health and correct issues they're having now, as well as prevent future neurodegeneration. It takes you through steps to determine your level of brain function/dysfunction, which areas you're having problems with, a self-neurological exam, and what steps to take to correct things. I can't emphasize how important this stuff is! Neurodegeneration starts decades before it's every diagnosed and early identification and treatment can make a world of difference down the road AND in the short term.


Another thing I'm excited about is that in the near future I'm going to be participating in a small, online group based around the mind-body/emotional aspects of healing autoimmunity and chronic illness. I really look forward to delving deeper into this area and sharing my journey.


I'm gearing up for my annual summer vacation to northern Michigan, which is very late this year due to being timed around a friend's wedding. I'm so looking forward to being at the beach, hiking through the woods, and taking advantage of all the lovely farm-to-table restaurants. It's such a rejuvenating and healing place for me.


I have more neat things to share in the near future and look forward to writing again.

-Erin




Friday, March 27, 2015

Quick Apple Cinnamon Porridge (AIP)



For breakfast I generally eat protein, fat, and veggies, with a little bit of fruit or maybe a bit of something starchy like fried plantain. Most mornings I like eating this sort of breakfast because it makes me feel good, but sometimes I miss hot cereal. I grew up eating a lot of hot cereal (Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, Ralston) and sometimes I miss the texture and comfort of it. In the olden days (pre-paleo, pre-AIP), I ate oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis.

I'm really pleased with this AIP porridge because it has the look and texture of porridge, it's tasty and comforting, and, best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make and involves ingredients you probably have on hand. You don't have to have any squash or sweet potato already cooked for this. This recipe makes only one serving, mainly because my husband isn't into hot cereal, so I'm always making a single serving, but it can easily be multiplied.




Apple-Cinnamon Porridge

One serving

3/4 C. water
1/4 C. coconut milk
1/2 grated apple (I prefer Granny Smith)
2 TB coconut flour
2 TB arrowroot
2 TB gelatin or collagen hydrolysate
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
generous pinch of salt

Whisk dry ingredients into the water, stir in apple and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes until mixture thickens and apple softens. Add sweetener of your choice.

Happy breakfast!

-Erin

Saturday, March 14, 2015

March Update + Handling Spring Allergies




Just thought I'd rattle off a little update while I'm being a lazybones on this gray Saturday. Last time I checked in, Nashville was in the midst of the (hopefully) last gasp of winter. It has warmed considerably since then and some trees are sprouting buds. I'm happy for the warmer weather and spring in Nashville is my absolutely favorite season- it's so beautiful once all the flowering trees burst into bloom. But, for me, there's a dark side to spring: allergies. Nashville is an allergy hotspot and they say that if you don't have allergies before you move here, you eventually will get them. I didn't believe it when I moved here in '97 but, true to the warning, I did develop them after a few years of living here. They've waxed and waned over the years depending on my state of health and whether I've done any acupuncture for them. I've even managed to give them the slip a few years.

When my spring tree pollen allergies hit, they usually hit me like a ton of bricks. I get somewhat atypical symptoms. Instead of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, or sinus infections, I end up with whole body fatigue which feels akin to being drugged, often a scratchy throat, headaches that extend way beyond my sinuses into my neck glands, and a vaguely wheezy in my lungs. Basically, I always think I must be coming down with something and then realize that it's just allergies.

Having had worked in supplement retail for 10+ years, I've had the opportunity to try many natural allergy remedies, but only one kind has worked well for me: Biollers homeopathic formulas. The formulas contain traces of the allergens that they're targeted toward and you can switch out formulas seasonally if you're unlucky enough to suffer from multiple types of allergies. The Tree Pollen formula is for spring, summer is Grass Pollen, late summer and autumn are weed pollen (Pollen/Hayfever formula is for this), and Mold can be any time. I've found that the best way to use it is once per hour until I feel relief when my symptoms first come on, and then first thing in the morning, before I have a chance to go outside and breathe any pollen. I usually only have to take one or maybe two more doses throughout the day if I dose first thing in the morning. A couple of helpful anti-inflammatory supplements to reduce sinus pressure are CurcuminRich and Serrapeptase.




Flare Update:

On to the update. In the post about my recent flare, I had detailed my blood work results. I had my D and CRP-hs retested recently and they were both back in good ranges, thank goodness. I've been quite fatigued lately, though- in fact, I mostly haven't been getting my usual second wind in the evening but feeling quite tired instead, so I suspected I might have some adrenal fatigue going on. I took the adrenal quiz in The Adrenal Reset Diet and scored "crashed." The book has some interesting recommendations for dealing with different stages of adrenal dysfunction, such as when to use light box exposure, how to reset sleep rhythms, herbs for each specific stage of adrenal dysfunction, etc. Because I'm still doing AIP, I'm not going to be eating according to the diet, but I have adopted the macronutrient timing outlined in it (basically, less carbs in the morning, a bit more at lunch, and the most with dinner). Incidentally, this is what I seem to do best with. Adrenal fatigue can definitely cause allergies to worsen, and I think that's the case with me right now, since I hardly had any last year (I think AIP helped a lot).

Why are my adrenals tanked right now? I suspect it has to do with sleep quality- i.e. excess dreaming and lack of slow wave deep sleep, and sometimes just waking up too early and not being able to fall back to sleep. I go through seasonal cycles of sleep issues; my spring sleep issues being liver energy related. I'm working on these with some herbs recommended to me by an L.Ac. who deals with Hashimoto's. I also have this weird thing where two of my bottom molars (same one on each side) have a sharp twinging pain when I chew, which comes and goes. I've had this symptom before from having some sort of pathogen hanging out in my parotid lymph nodes and causing inflammation in the tooth nerves. The twinges lessen or disappear when I do lymphatic drainage massage along my jaw and down my neck. So, maybe whatever it is is also putting a strain on my adrenals...

I had been taking melatonin for a few months because it was so helpful in aiding my night-owl self in falling asleep quickly, but I was recently informed that it can act as a TH1 immune stimulant, which is exactly what I don't need. So, it may have also been contributing to my flare.

In the midst of all of this, although I have my moments of resentment, I have to say that my mood has overall been really good. Usually low energy = low moods for me, but my neurotransmitters seem to be hanging in there (I credit TMG for that). Practicing mindfulness and gratitude also really help. I'm still in the midst of my 100-day qigong challenge and I find that if I'm feeling not so good, a qigong session usually helps me to feel at least a little better. Epsom salt baths with essential oils (geranium and vetiver are my favorite restorative EO's) also work wonders when I'm feeling really depleted.

So, that's how I'm doing right now. Hopefully I'll be able to report better news soon. In the meantime, I welcome Spring, even if it brings me allergies.

-Erin



Friday, March 6, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie (Autoimmune Paleo)




I don't know about where you live, but here in Nashville, it's still winter. STILL. WINTER. I don't remember ever having snow this late in the season. We have a few inches of snow at the moment, which is really quite pretty because we don't get much snow here (and often get no snow during the winter), but I'm feeling ready for more sun and warmer temps.

In the meantime, comfort food is just the thing to get me through the end of winter. When being on a restricted diet, I think the importance of "soul food"- foods that taste and feel comforting and satisfying as well as nourishing (to both body and soul)- is hugely helpful for maintaining an attitude of positivity toward food. I try to consciously cultivate good feelings toward my food, rather than focusing on what I don't tolerate or can't eat at the moment. How we frame things is not to be underestimated in the scheme of health, healing, and happiness.


I'm excited to share this recipe for chicken pot pie. It's not complicated and everyone I've served it to loved it and asked for the recipe, so I feel I can safely say it's a winner. The crust is yummy and flaky. I always joke that I'm a sucker for anything involving a pie crust and it's true. So, this recipe makes me very happy. The hubby and I often make it on Sunday evenings before we curl up and watch all our PBS shows and it's become a cozy weekly ritual. The crust is an adaptation of this fabulous AIP crust from The Paleo Partridge.


Chicken Pot Pie
(makes 6 servings)

Filling:
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced onions
1-1/2 cup diced mushrooms (I prefer cremini/baby bellas)
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. garlic granules
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cup coconut milk
2 TB arrowroot
2-1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
Cooking fat for sauteing (I prefer olive oil or organic palm shortening)

Add carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms to a large pan with the cooking fat of your choice and saute on low-medium heat until starting to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients, whisking the arrowroot into the coconut before adding to the pan and continue cooking over low until the sauce thickens up. Add to a 9 inch round or 11 inch oval casserole dish.

Crust:
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 TB arrowroot
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic granules
1/2 cup melted organic palm shortening (this gives a flakier crust than other oils)
3 TB water

Combine the dry ingredients well and whisk in the melted shortening. It will have a liquid consistency at this point. Add the water and mix well (it will magically thicken and form a soft, but crumbly dough). Press out small pieces of dough in your hands and piece them together on top of the filling. It will be messy and rustic looking which works nicely for pot pie.

Bake at 330ยบ for 28-30 min. or until the crust is golden brown.

Enjoy!
-Erin