Have you heard the one about the rheumatologist, the ear-nose & throat specialist & the functional medicine doctor?

life is everywhereYesterday Matthew & I went to appointments with three different doctors in two different towns regarding treatment for his autoimmune conditions & unexplained nausea.

We figured if we had to spend a ridiculously hot day catching ferries, driving & waiting we might as well do some research.

Before we left we came up with three questions for Matthew to ask each doctor. I armed myself with a notebook & pen so I could transcribe their responses.

These were our questions:

  1. What is the origin of autoimmune conditions?
  2. What is your opinion about treatment based on dietary changes?
  3. Given that I have a history of negative side effects from medications, what would be the best course of treatment going forward?

At each visit, we waited until the end of the consultation before we broke out our questions.

The responses were illuminating:

What is the origin of autoimmune conditions?

Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist: “There’s something perverse going on in your immune system & it turns on itself. Why does it come? We don’t know. It could be a genetic predisposition or viral. The ear is immunologically active.”

Rheumatologist: “I don’t know. I’d win the Nobel prize if I did.”

Functional Medicine Doctor: “I wouldn’t say it’s well understood at all. The question is what sets the immune system up to act abnormally. What triggers it. Genomic analysis is important. As people go through life there’s triggering events, exposure to gluten when there is a genetic predisposition to intolerance, parasitic infection, exposure to metals or chemicals, significant emotional trauma. The process that keeps the abnormal immune response moving forward, I think, is largely related to diet, sleep and stress.”

What is your opinion about treatment based on dietary changes?

Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist: “I think it is hogwash. But it works for some people. It is something we advocate based on how we understand the pathenogenisis. It might work for some people.”

Rheumatologist: “There have been a lot of studies on dietary manipulation and autoimmune. They’ve done elimination diets between control and subject groups and there is no difference. It’s like in medieval times when people worshiped the sun and then the sun rose and they thought they’d caused it. In those days people believed that nightshades should be avoided. There’s no scientific evidence for that. A falsehood is being perpetuated on the [inter]net all the time. You have to go to the websites that are scientific and have reliable information.”

Functional Medicine Doctor: “That’s Hippocrates’ theory.” [He pulled out a handout depicting the Functional Medicine Matrix and described it to us] “These are the foundational principles: nutrition is right in the centre.”

Functional Medicine Matrix

Functional Medicine Matrix

Given that I have a history of negative side effects from medications, what would be the best course of treatment going forward?

Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist: “If we concentrate on an ear thing, I’ve told you what we can do in terms of ear things. It would be safe to infuse your ear with prednisone, but just to try it just because you can doesn’t make sense.”

Rheumatologist: “Every drug has its own bad side effects. At times the treatment may be worse than the disease. At times the disease may be worse than the treatment. It’s a trade-off.”

Functional Medicine Doctor: “What we’ve just talked about for the last 45 minutes. Try and look at the system. No matter what your background, if you try to do something beneficial at one part of the system, it will affect the whole system.”

Context

The  Ear Nose & Throat Specialist and the Rheumatologist (who we saw first) had no advice, tips, ideas, leads, tests, treatment suggestions, research reports or referrals for Matthew during each of those brief appointments, even though he has been on disability leave from work since January 1st due to debilitating nausea which is only getting worse and has been to a string of other specialists who have also turned up nothing and offered nothing. If we hadn’t learned about Functional  Medicine (on the internet from other Autoimmune Protocol bloggers), Matthew would have now exhausted all options available through the Western Medical System. His livelihood and life would be completely on hold, maybe forever, without a single medical ally willing to stick with him to find a solution.

Comparatively, Dr Cline, the Functional Medicine Doctor (who is also an MD) had two treatment recommendations based on the results of the stool test he ordered last visit: a powerful probiotic that Matthew could order online or purchase from the onsite store, and CBD (non-psychoactive cannabis) to disrupt nausea and pain, which he could order online. He gave Matthew a requisition for blood tests; gave me one research report and promised to e-mail more; and offered to loan us (at no charge) a kit to test the electricity in our house, with instructions for how to deal with any problems we might find. Then he asked Matthew to come back in a month when the results of his genomic analysis would be available.

Dr Terry Wahls’, also a Functional Medicine Doctor & an MD, wrote an article titled ‘what your neurologist & rheumatologist won’t tell you‘ which supports the findings of the mini-study we conducted yesterday. Dr Wahls’ recent paper on treatment for autoimmune multiple sclerosis using a paleo diet & complementary non-pharmaceutical therapies also, interestingly, reported no serious side effects.

Dispatch from the Paleo Front Line

Dr Terry Walhs: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

Dr Terry Wahls: Up from the Chair ~photo by KC McGinnis

Nine researchers authored the first report from Dr Terry Wahls’ study on treating autoimmune with a paleo diet.

Dr Wahls has Multiple Sclerosis  and got herself out of a wheelchair using her Wahls Paleo protocol.

(I’ve also been doing an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)-compliant version of the Wahls Paleo Plus protocol for the past 3½ months. You can find the most recent update on what I’ve experienced here.)

Dr Wahls is now in the midst of clinical trials to determine the effect of her dietary protocols (combined with the complementary non-pharmaceutical therapies) on other people with advanced MS.

MS is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. It disrupt communication inside the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body.

Through this study, Dr Wahls is taking on the medical establishment using the only tools it respects: clinical trials and peer-reviewed research papers. She is funding this research through a foundation she established, as virtually all other medical research is funded by pharmaceutical companies, who are (let’s just say) disinterested in pharmaceutical-free treatment approaches.

The following is a brief summary of the first paper from Dr Wahls’ research, published in May 2014 and titled A Multimodal Intervention for Patients with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Feasibility and Effect on Fatigue. The full paper can be found here.

The Study

Subjects in the study ranged in age from 45 to 57 years of age, and all had secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, an increasingly disabling autoimmune condition. Participants received their diagnoses between 3 to 35 years before the study commenced.

The study used a ‘multimodal’ approach, combining a mildly rigorous version of the Wahls Paleo Protocol, with the addition of supplements, stretching, electrical stimulation, meditation and self-massage. 20 minutes of stress reduction techniques a day, including mediation and self-massage, was a core part of the treatment plan.

Participants were carefully screened. One of many eligibility requirements for participants was an adult assistant to help with electrical stimulation treatments and food preparation.

Dietary guidelines for the study included:Diet

This particular protocol was designed by Dr Wahls specifically for MS, as the combination of foods targets the reconstruction and maintenance of optimal brain physiology. Dr Wahls currently follows a stricter (ketogenic) dietary protocol herself, but she is aware that making dietary changes is challenging, especially for those living with a disabling condition, and so she tested a slightly more relaxed version of the Wahls Protocol through this study.

The Fatigue Severity Scale was used to assess fatigue at intake and throughout the study.FSS

If you decide to self-assess using the Fatigue Severity Scale, note that the scale is only assessing your experience of fatigue in the past week, not your beliefs about fatigue generally, which could give you an anomalously high score.

As a person without an autoimmune condition, after 3½ months on an AIP-compliant version of the Wahls Paleo Plus I am experiencing less fatigue than I ever have in my adult life. Perhaps none. I got a ‘1’ (mean score) this morning, which is the lowest you can get.

The Findings

This paper focused on outcomes relating to fatigue, as “fatigue is one of the most disabling symptoms of MS”. Outcomes relating to “quality of life, motor function, mood, cognitive function, and blood biomarkers” will follow in subsequent papers.

Fatigue Severity Scale scores for study participants decreased from 5.7 at the baseline to 3.32 (mean scores) at the end of the study 12 months later, despite less than 100% adherence to the protocol.Fatigue

That was the first finding.

The second was that “it is challenging to adhere to a multi-modal intervention, as only 77% (10/13) of carefully screened subjects could continue beyond the [2 week] run-in phase and only 60% (6/10) of these subjects continued adherence with such intervention for 12 months”.

Based on a graph depicting adherence to diet, it looks as though only one participant was 100% compliant with the diet component of the protocol throughout the study. Two others were close to 100%. Even so, most subjects (7/9) reported substantial improvements in fatigue, despite slightly haphazard fidelity to the protocol.Fod adherence

The report summarized these two findings as follows: “Adhering to this multimodal intervention is difficult, especially for severely disabled subjects… on the other hand, subjects who are capable of following this complex intervention are likely to experience reduced perceived fatigue, which is difficult to treat.”

A third finding, that no serious side effects or “adverse events” were reported relating to this treatment approach, was also significant, given the harsh and problematic side effects of most pharmaceutical treatments. As the authors of this report brilliantly stated (emphasis mine):

“There is increasing interest in development of combination therapies, using immune suppressant drugs with distinct mechanisms of action, but side effects limit the number of pharmacologic agents that can be safely used. Combinations of nonpharmaceutical treatments that are known to increase muscle strength and positively influence brain function by multiple mechanisms of action but with minimal side-effects may provide an alternative treatment.”

I laughed out loud when I read that.

Wahls Warriors

The first time I read the phrase ‘Wahsl Warriors’ as describing those who are adopting Dr Wahls’ dietary protocols, I squirmed a little bit.

It sounded so self-aggrandizing.

So American.

And we Canadians are very sensitive to any encroachment of self-aggrandizing Americansism.

But I’ve come around.WW

If anyone should get a dispensation for some self-aggrandizement, it’s Terry Wahls.

I’m not a joiner. At all. But even so, I’m considering a T-shirt with ‘Wahls Warrior’ splashed across the front.

And I definitely think someone should reverently provide Dr Wahls with a satin superhero cape with ‘WW’ on the back.

Sichuan Ginger Cucumber (AIP & Wahlspaleo+)

Cucumber partyThis is an adaptation of a recipe from Homemade in Hong Kong. Though not an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)  blog, I follow it because every so often Jun & Priscilla post fabulous regional recipes like Sichuan Seaweed Salad (which I intend to adapt for the AIP one day) or Mung Bean Seaweed Dessert soup (which I don’t have any intention of adapting, but I am nevertheless fascinated by).

It’s garlic harvest time in my land and cucumbers are superabundant, so this recipe makes perfect sense.smash

Though the original version called for peppercorns & chilies, the green onion, garlic & ginger combo in this AIP-friendly variation will still give you a bite!

Plus it’s totally cathartic to smash a cucumber into roadkill…Roadkill cucumber

Sichuan Ginger Cucumber (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoCucumber

Dressing

  • 1 finger of fresh Ginger, peeled & minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled & minced
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Coconut Aminos
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt (or similar)

Salad

  • 1 large English Cucumber
  • 2 green onions, sliced

garlic & gingerHeat the Coconut Oil, minced Ginger & minced Garlic in a small saucepan until the oil is liquid & the spices are sizzling. Turn off the heat.

Add the Balsamic Vinegar, Coconut Aminos and Salt.

Let the dressing marinate while you smash the cucumber.

First things first: put on an apron.

Then, using the flat side of a large cleaver (or, alternately, Jun and Priscilla at Homemade in Hong Kong suggest the bottom of a pan) smash the cucumber. To achieve an authentically Sichuan salad, Jun and Priscilla recommend that you “really flatten it like roadkill”.

Chop the smashed cucumber into small pieces & put it in a serving bowl with the sliced green onion.

Add the dressing & stir vigorously to coat.

Eat immediately or chill for later.

Variation: Use olive oil. It won’t have the same coconut coating, but it’ll still taste great.

w Olive oil

With Olive Oil

 

My Top-5 AIP Recipes (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Greens in Bone Broth

Cabbage & curly parsley cooked in bone broth with leftover steak

Though there are all kinds of fancy ways to make the AIP fun, like Ice Cream Sandwiches, Hawai’ian Pizza & Daikon Cilantro Salmon Cakes, in my regular life I rely heavily on a few foods.

The following 5 foods to be exact:

  1. Victorious Offal Muffins;
  2. Cabbage Bacon;
  3. Berry Fudge;
  4. Greens cooked in Bone Broth; and
  5. Whipped Cauliflower or Broccoli.

There are other things I make a lot like salad, green smoothies, & slow cooker stew made with bison heart & venison, but my Top-5 are what I eat multiple times a week, week in & week out.

Coincidentally (I really didn’t plan it that way) if you put all five on a plate, they make a perfect Wahls Paleo Plus meal: Sulfur rich, Coloured & Dark green leafy vegetables represented; organ meat: check; bone broth, & even a dose of sea vegetable in the cauli-mash.

Victorious Offal muffins

Offal muffinsSince I came up with these as a way to deal with my organ meat issues, they’ve become a staple in my kitchen.

They freeze well, so I just defrost 3 or so at a time & reheat one wrapped in tin foil in the oven as 1/2 of my daily protein & 1/6 of my weekly offal ration.

Most recently I made them with calf liver, wild boar bacon & ground yak with pureed fresh basil instead of caramelized onion.

I make ‘em, freeze ‘em, eat ‘em & make more as soon as the last one is gone.

Cabbage Bacon

I adore Cabbage Bacon & I eat it several times a week. I consider it to be my 2nd best invention (after berry fudge).

It’s quick, delicious & sufficiently gourmet.

Cabbage BaconIt’s also versatile: if you don’t have red cabbage, use green. If you don’t tolerate coconut oil, use red palm oil. No parchment? Use tin foil (or nothing).

I always keep cabbage on hand (it’s happy just hanging out in the fridge).

Whenever I’m not sure what I’m going to eat, I start by slicing cabbage, melting coconut oil & putting a batch of cabbage bacon in the oven. Than I have 20 minutes to assemble the rest of my meal.

Berry Fudge

A piece of berry fudge with a meal is the perfect dose of coconut oil to enable me to effortlessly maintain ketosis on the Wahls Paleo Plus.

I’m quite adapted to coconut oil, but even so, if I eat too much fudge within a couple of hours of bedtime, I end up with uncomfortable nocturnal digestive weirdness. Therefore I stick with one piece with supper.

Salal Berries

Salal Berries

Really, I don’t need more than one piece of fudge with each of my two meals to maintain ketosis, but sometimes I indulge in two at breakfast. The extra fat is particularly sustaining through a busy workday, and plus it’s just yummy.

I’m really into fudge, so I’ve posted a few variations, including Blue Raspberry, Strawberry Shortcake, Avocado~Lime Blackberry, & PB&J Ice Cream Cupcake Fudge, but really they are all just variations on the Basic Berry Fudge recipe you’ll find below.

Most recently, I made Basic Berry Fudge with a combination of Salal Berries & Strawberries.

Greens cooked in Bone Broth

My #1 finding after 7 months of biohacking the AIP?

Bone broth is the answer. To most questions.

Greens in Bone Broth 2Most often (most days) I use about ½ a cup of bone broth, & a good amount of the rendered tallow that forms on top, to quickly cook a bounteous bunch or two of chopped greens like kale, collards, cabbage or chard.

Adding a chopped bunch of cilantro, parsley or basil at the end is marvellous.

I don’t usually season my bone broth before I use it in a recipe, so I also add Himalayan salt & a good shake of sea vegetable flakes.

Whipped Cauliflower or Broccoli

Whipped cauliflower is a paleo staple, highly reminiscent of mashed potatoes. It fills a mashed potato like function: filling, comforting & a companionable side.

Whipping broccoli is just my friendly green deviation.

I usually alternate between broccoli & cauliflower. I make a batch & divide it into 1 cup portions in small baking dishes with lids & then refrigerate them.

At meal time, it’s effortless to pop one in the oven (with a Victorious Offal Muffin & some cabbage bacon). If I also chop some greens & sauté them in bone broth & then add a piece of frozen berry fudge at the last minute, that’d be my ultimate breakfast.

Basic Berry Fudge (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoBerry Fudge 2

  • 1¼ cups coconut butter
  • 1¼ cups coconut oil
  • 3 cups fresh or defrosted berries

Preheat oven to 300

Warm the coconut butter & berries in the oven in an oven-proof bowl.

Line a 12-muffin tin with parchment muffin cups & measure the coconut oil into a food processor.

After 10 minutes, remove the coconut butter & berries from the oven & add to the food processor. They need to be warm to properly emulsify.

Whirl thoroughly & fill each muffin cup to the brim.

Refrigerate or freeze the fudge in the muffin tin & then transfer to a glass container or freezer bag once set. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Variation: Substitute 1 ripe avocado (& maybe 1/4 cup lime juice) for a portion of the berries.

Berry fudge is particularly heavenly after it has been in the freezer for just an hour or two ~frozen on the outside but still soft inside. Definitely have a piece then.

Whipped Broccolli or Cauliflower (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoCauli mash

  • 1 large cauliflower or several large bunches of broccoli
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan salt (or similar)
  • 1 tablespoon sea vegetables flakes (optional)

Cut cauliflower or broccoli into florets. Trim & chop the stem(s), too.

Put these pieces, plus any leaves that look viable, in a steamer basket over boiling water.

Steam until soft. Begin checking broccoli with a fork after 5 minutes; Cauliflower after 8.

When soft but not mushy, drain & put in a food processor.

Add remaining ingredients & while until completely smooth & pureed.

For easy individual portions, measure 1 cup & store in small covered baking dishes in the fridge.

Another way to construe ‘top 5’

The top 5 recipes on my blog based on # of views by readers…

  1. DIY Coconut Milk + Currant Tea Cake + Crackers + Coconut Latte
  2. Hawaiian Pizza (AIP & low-FODMAP)
  3. Strawberry-Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches (AIP-friendly, low-FODMAP)
  4. Paleo Nachos with Ground Elk & Green Apple Guacamole (AIP)
  5. Strawberry Shortcake Fudge (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 

Bone Broth (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Bone Broth 4My #1 finding after 7 months of biohacking the Autoimmune Protocol?

Bone broth is the answer. To most questions.

The days I don’t have bone broth in some form are comparatively lackluster. I’m less swift, less astute.

I never would have thought something as seemingly simple was so crucial, but I now believe that it is bone broth that most readily tips me over into peak experience.

I was a bit inconsistent about bone broth in the early months of the AIP, but after experimenting & observing the results, I’ve become fervent. I aim to have some every day.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. Half a cup of bone broth to help sauté some mushrooms or a mess of greens. To deglaze a pan of all the gorgeous brown meat bits after cooking. With some short ribs or a a pot roast in the slow cooker. Bone broth has become the basis for most of my cooking. I even use it in salad dressing (I’ll post that recipe sometime soon!) As long as I have some in the fridge, I feel like I’m well on my way to a perfect dinner.

The healing properties of bone broth are well documented by other AIP bloggers like This Sidney LifePhoenix Helix, and The Paleo Mom, so I won’t duplicate their efforts.

Bones

Today’s stock pot: beef marrow bones, venison bones, leftover bones from prime rib steak

Important: all bones should be pastured or wild.

I mix up my bones: a combination of beef or bison marrow bones, bison tail, and venison bones is my favourite. If we eat lamb shanks or short ribs or chicken, I save those bones in the freezer for bone broth day and add them to the pot.

Some people avoid pork bones, but I find them to be quite amenable: I boil them for 5 minutes and discard the water. Then proceed as for other bones.

Though some people cook their broth for as little as 8 hours, I go for 48. If it’s inconvenient to decant my bone broth after 48 hours, it sometimes simmers for yet another night or workday.

It does have a distinctive smell. I live in an apartment in a heritage house that contains 5 other suites. All my neighbours are friendly neighbourly-like folks, but they have let me know that the smell of marrow permeates the entire house.

Some people suggest brewing bone broth in the garage to mitigate the distinctive aroma, which sounds like a great idea… if you have a garage. It does smell peasanty & old country, for sure. Especially if I’m simultaneously sautéing up a cabbage.

But that’s life. Literally.

Bone Broth (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoBone broth 2

  • 3 lbs bones (or thereabouts)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A quantity of water
  • Optional: Himalayan Salt

Preheat oven to 350

Roast your bones, turning once or twice, for 30 minutes for better flavour. Put the roasted bones & any browned bits into a slow cooker or stock pot.

You can optionally break any thin bones with your hands or a hammer.

Add the apple cider vinegar & bay leaves. Fill your chosen vessel with water.

Cook on low, so that the liquid is just simmering, for 48 hours.

After a few hours, fish out the marrow bones & remove the marrow. Return the bones & marrow to the pot.

Top up the water as it evaporates. You can also scoop out the broth & use it in cooking as it simmers it’s way to perfection.

After 48 hours, strain the broth through a colander. If you used meaty bones, you can eat the well-cooked meat & marrow. Discard the bones.

Well cooked bison & venison!

Well cooked bison & venison!

You can re-strain the broth through a sieve or cheesecloth, if you like.

Optionally, season with Himalayan Salt (to taste).

Refrigerate. Any fat that forms on the top is fully rendered & can be used for cooking. Unbroken, it also forms a seal on the broth that helps preserve it in the fridge. Melting this fat back into the broth when you cook it is extra nourishing & sustaining.

Bone broth freezes beautifully.

Eat some each day for increased super powers.

Bones & cat

PB&J Ice Cream Cupcake Fudge (AIP & WalhsPaelo+)

windowsill fudge 2When I was a kid, my dad had a repertoire of 4 recipes:

  1. Unleavened pancakes made with with brewer’s yeast & raisins;
  2. Salad made with purple cabbage in a purple plastic bowl;
  3. Spaghetti (a tin of mushroom soup & a tin of tomato soup made the sauce. Sometimes he’d puree a cube of tofu in there, too); &
  4. Soup: made by combining  leftover salad & spaghetti with water.

We had to finish the soup before there was fresh round of spaghetti & salad, so spaghetti & salad day was always exciting.

The other foods we always had on hand were bread & peanut butter & jam. In those days, if there was a problem, PB&J toast was the solution.

Still life with PB&J fudge

Icon by Elaine Savoie

My dad is still has a toast habit.

Even when I’m making us a fabulous & plentiful AIP breakfast, it is incomplete for him without toast.

He rummages in the freezer to find the kid’s gluten free bread, makes toast, & then eats toast (with jam) while I cook. Then he says, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that toast, when I serve him up a gorgeous plateful of avocado, sauerkraut, muffins made with bison liver, greens & fudge.

But I know he’ll do the same next time. The toaster is like a Strange Attractor for him.

It isn’t for me. Anymore.

It wasn’t until I made this version of berry fudge, that I realized I still had friendly, comforting associations with PB&J toast. For me, this fudge recipe is completely reminiscent of my childhood standby.

Berry Fudge

Berry Fudge is my strategy for maintaining ketosis on the Wahls Paleo Plus. I eat a piece with almost every meal & explain why in my recipe for Blue~Raspberry Fudge. The idea to freeze the fudge came from Eileen at Phoenix Helix. It’s her husband’s innovation & I always freeze my fudge now. It’s more of a party that way.

This is my fourth variation of fudge & really, it’s just a adaptation of my Strawberry Shortcake Fudge.

My Dad

My Dad. His Kitchen.

I’ve made PB&J fudge with all kinds of berries & it’s the combination of raspberries & strawberries that are perfectly reminiscent of the super-sweet, super-cheap jam in a tin can my dad used to buy back in the day. The toasted coconut butter kind of perfectly replicates the spirit of both the toast & the peanut butter.

I don’t usually emulate my dad’s food habits, but he’s a great, existentialist-turned-Buddhist dad. This one’s for him.

PB&J Ice Cream Cupcake Fudge (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoRock & PB&J fudge

  • 1¼ cups coconut butter
  • 1¼ cups coconut oil
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 300

Warm the coconut butter & berries in the oven in 2 separate oven-proof bowls.

Line a 12-muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

After 10 minutes, remove the coconut butter from the oven. Pour 1 tablespoon of warm coconut butter into each muffin cup.

Place muffin tin back in the oven for 8 minutes or until the coconut butter is a friendly brown colour. Remove.

Meanwhile, re-measure the remaining coconut butter. It tends to take up more space when cold, so you might need to top the remainder up to ensure you have 3/4 cup, especially on a cold day. Return the coconut butter to the oven and turn off the heat.

When the strawberries in the oven are warm (this will take longer ~obviously~ if you started with frozen berries) and the coconut butter is warm & soft, place both in a food processor with the coconut oil & whirl until fully combined.

Pour the raspberry-strawberry fudge mixture over top of the toasted coconut butter to fill each muffin cup to the brim.

Freeze the fudge in the muffin tin & then transfer to a glass container or freezer bag once set.

Let the fudge defrost for 4-5 minutes before eating.

This fudge is particularly heavenly after it has been in the freezer for just an hour or so ~frozen on the outside but still soft inside. Definitely have a piece then.

window fudge

 

Biohacking for Career Leverage

??????????????????????After 6½ months on the autoimmune protocol (3 months of that in ketosis on the Wahls Paleo Plus) I’m living in a state of peak experience most of the time.

I wrote a post about it, called Nutritional Biohacking for Peak Experience & since then I’ve been discovering what this state might do for my career.

Keep in mind, I’m a person without an autoimmune condition.

I’ve recently been working on an evaluation project for an AIDS organization. I attended an intravenous drug user’s conference & did 5 straight hours of intensive interviews with participants. I had 16 deep conversations, one after the other & afterwards I felt so energized, I went home & did 8 hours of transcription.

I was in a state of flow the whole time.

Relevant Detail: I’m a massive introvert (who can pass for socially normal) but being around people does not energize me.

However, being in a state of flow does.

Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi describes flow as a state in which “concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappears, and the sense of time becomes distorted.”

That’s what happened to me during those 5 hours of interviews. I was slightly, peripherally aware that workshops were ending & beginning, that lunch was being eaten, that workshops were convening again. If I hadn’t run out of interview forms, I wouldn’t have stopped.

It didn’t make sense that 5 hours had passed. I would have thought maybe 2, but more likely that time had somehow ceased to be relevant.

According to Csikszenmihalyi, flow provides “a creative feeling of transporting the person into a new reality… to previously un-dreamed of states of consciousness”. Like being in a state of peak experience, much of the time.

Now, I know that some people probably wouldn’t be able to get into a state of flow doing evaluation at an intravenous drug user’s conference, no matter how long they rocked the Wahls Protocol.

Some people just aren’t that into evaluation.

We’re all nerdy about something & evaluation makes my nerdy heart sing. Which is a precondition of flow.Flow 1

But even in daily life, when I’m not even close to doing what I love,  I’m perpetually in danger of flow & peaking.

Csikszenmihalyi’s model of flow looks like this:

But back in the SAD old days my psyche looked like this:

Flow 2In the dart-board of life, there was almost no way I was going to get into state of flow, except fleetingly, if conditions happened to be briefly & absolutely perfect.

And when are conditions absolutely perfect?

Here’s my flow pie now:

Flow 3Increased access to a state of flow is awesome, obviously, but there’s also this other thing.

Ready? It’s going to get wiggy.

I seem to have an increased capacity to channel prana.

So, I’m not just using my own expertise in my working day, but my ability to vector some life force energy into whatever I’m working on has increased exponentially.

An example?

After completing a total of 26 in-depth interviews with intravenous drug users, I met with the organization’s steering committee, which is comprised of peer-leaders who all also have first-hand experience as drug users, to do some analysis.

Together, in an hour, we generated everything we needed for a comprehensive logic model for the program.

Afterward I spent another hour & a half tweaking & formatting.

Several long day’s work. In less than 3 hours.

Even though I was there, I wasn’t sure how it happened. I feel as though I can take almost no credit for it.

The whole thing felt as though it was just coming through me. Like the channels were sufficiently clear & all I had to do was hold space & let the situation manifest itself.

I was exhausted afterwards.  As if I had just put in several long days. But I wonder if that’s because my circuits aren’t accustomed to conducting such powerful current. Maybe I can increase my voltage. That what I’m going to experiment with next.

So, career-wise:

  1. Increased capacity for flow;
  2. Increased capacity to channel prana.

Results in more fun, more learning, better outcomes, better connections & more efficiency.??????????????????????

Also, increased energy in the morning results in better hair.

Or at least my own conception of better hair.

Or increased good humour about my hairstyle attempts.

“The flow experience, like everything else, is not ‘good’ in an absolute sense It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self.” ~Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi

 

 

Cranachan (AIP & WalhsPaleo+)

raspberryI discovered Cranachan in Scotland (of course) in a waterfront pub on the Isle of Skye. That evening I decided I wanted to eat nothing else for the rest of my life.

Of course, the Autoimmune Protocol doesn’t allow oats, heavy cream or whiskey, so you’d think my Cranachan days would be over. But as soon as the first raspberries showed up at the farmer’s market this summer, I started scheming about an AIP-friendly version.

It’s divine.

Green plantains aren’t officially on the Wahls Paleo Plus lists, but as the crumbled plantain chips & berries are offered up in a gorgeous matrix of coconut cream to mitigate the effect of the carbohydrates, I had no trouble maintaining ketosis after eating this with a big pile of greens & some steak for supper.

CranachanIf you’re fancier than me, you’ll put this in parfait glasses rather than chipped green ceramic bowls. But there’s something authentically old-country & croft-like about a chipped ceramic bowl, so on the whole, it’s the presentation I’d recommend.

Cranachan (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleo

  • Coconut cream & plantain chips2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup green plantain chips (see below)
  • 1 cup coconut cream (see below)

Crumble the plantain chips into the coconut cream & stir.

Put 1 cup of raspberries in each bowl. Divide the coconut cream mixture evenly over each bowl & serve.

Green Plantain Chips

  • I green plantain

Preheat oven to 350

To peel a green plantain, cut through the skin lengthwise with a sharp knife & remove the skin in strips.Green plantain

Slice the peeled plantain in thin rounds with a sharp knife, lay slices on a parchment paper or tin foil & bake for 20 minutes. Flip & bake for another 10 minutes until lightly browned & crispy.

Coconut Cream

  • 1 tin full-fat no-additive coconut milk (‘Natural Value’ brand)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder

Refrigerate a tin of coconut milk until chilled. The cream will separate from the coconut water.

Scoop out the hard coconut cream  into a bowl (Use the coconut water in place of water in a smoothie or your stock pot).

Add the vanilla powder.

Whip with an electric mixer until creamy.

Awaken the will;

The will to awaken.

To be AIP you will need to awaken your will;

And your will can lead you to awakening…

Raspberries

An AIP Apocalypse

Very soon after I started dating the sexiest man on the planet there was a freak snowstorm & I got trapped at his house for 3 days.

I wasn’t just pretending to be snowed-in. The roads were actually completely impassable.

Going to the storeNeither Matthew or I were in a very practical frame of mind, so it wasn’t until the afternoon of day 2 that we bundled up & trekked out to the local grocery store for supplies.

The shelves were already starting to look bare. And the barer the shelves, the more people started heaving armloads of random foodstuffs into their carts. People were mildly hysterical.

We managed to score some pancake mix. And the last dozen industrial-grade eggs (11 of them unbroken). And few battered inorganic apples.

We were all about the SAD foods in those days, so Matthew made me apple pancakes until we were able to dig my car out & I could drive across town to retrieve my children.

SAD foods with looooong shelf lives

The top foods recommended by bunker-freaks & other serious survivalists are some of the SAD-est foods available:

  1. Wheat;
  2. Dried Milk;
  3. Beans;
  4. Peanut Butter;
  5. Dried Pasta;
  6. Textured Vegetable Protein (made with wheat gluten & soy).

Given that diverging from AIP for a few days set Matthew back a full 2½ months in his healing process, we figure it makes sense to ensure that we aren’t at the whim of whatever might be left at the grocery store the next time we get snowed in. Or there’s an earthquake. Or whatnot.

But even if you live far from any seismic zones & there is no risk of flooding, tsunamis, tornadoes, zombies or civil unrest, we’re all going to be subject to extreme weather events due to climate change sooner or later.

If you’re still unconvinced about climate change, here’s a humorous video to disabuse you.

A Short-term Disruption

The standard advice is to plan to have a stash of food & water for you & your kin for at least 72 hours.

If you are on the AIP (or the WahlsPaleo+) the usual emergency food lists will not apply. It only makes sense to stash food that you actually eat, so you can rotate & consume it in your daily life.

I started by looking at our current pantry & then considered expanding our less-perishable repertoire a bit, in the interests of preparedness. For example, I wouldn’t normally buy tinned pumpkin puree, but pumpkin would be such a friendly carbohydrate to have on hand, that I decided to include it in the rotation.

It’s really about getting ahead of yourself & always replacing the foods in your stash before you break into your stash.

This requires an up-front investment & diligence, but as long as you discipline yourself to pay attention to expiry dates, rotate as you bring in new supplies & you always use food before it expires, all you’re doing is treating your home like a pantry, rather than relying on the grocery store.

Here’s my AIP-Apocalypse list:An AIP apocolypse

  • Coconut Oil
  • MCT oil
  • Coconut Butter
  • Tinned Full-fat Coconut Milk
  • Dehydrated Coconut
  • Nori
  • Sea Vegetable Flakes
  • Tinned Salmon (Pink & Sockeye)
  • Dried greens (Currently just Watercress, but I’d like expand)
  • Tinned pumpkin puree
  • Olives
  • Coconut Aminos
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Tea (black, green & herbal)

It’s not a perfect list, but we could muddle along on that for awhile.

When any of the items on my list are on sale, I try to buy them. I also purchase caselots at a discount.

I use them, buy them, rotate them. I try to stay on top of it.

I don’t eat honey currently, but it’s a powerful carbohydrate & lasts forever. Plus it’s antibacterial & anti-inflammatory. I’d like to invest in a big bucket of it for my Apocalyptic Pantry at some point.

This post is getting long so I’m going to break now &  do a Part 2, in which I consider ketosis as an apocalyptic strategy, as well as paleo preparation for a Long-term Cataclysmic Alteration of Life as We Know It.

Rose Petal~Basil Green Smoothie (AIP-friendly & WahlsPaleo+)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Spring I was all about rhubarb & dandelion greens because there they were, growing in my yard.

Now I’m loving rose petals. And basil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Basil

There’s no basil growing in my yard because I am profoundly not a gardener. But it’s abundant at the farmers market. As are fresh blueberries & vast heads of romaine.

But the roses I can gather myself.

Thanks to someone unknown, who once planted roses in my yard.

People move, but roses belong to the places where they are planted. They are familiars. Reminders of the relationship between humans & home; that we have ever sought alliance with plants in the places where we live.

Affiliation: 1. Pick roses; 2. Put them in a mason jar in your bedroom overnight. Breathe...; 3.) In the morning, make a rose petal smoothie & pour it in the mason jar. Be affiliated. Be affinity.

Affiliation: Pick roses. Put them in a mason jar in your bedroom overnight. In the morning, make a rose petal smoothie & pour it in the mason jar. Be affiliated. Be affinity.

Humans have been cultivating roses for 5,000 years & I can feel an ancient & abiding affinity between our species, like a friendly hum.

I sleep better when there are roses in my room.

And rose petals in my smoothie? Make me happy.

I feel as though I get imbued with a little of that ancient affiliation. A relatedness that seems to come from wilder, earlier times, long before domestication was the norm. When there was something truly magical (& a little defiant) about coaxing something beautiful to grow by one’s stoop.

I feel the echo of that domestic activism, the creation of human spaces, beyond shelter. Not just functional, but beautiful. Perpetually encroached upon by the untamed tangle that was seething everywhere else.

Though barely tamed, we invited roses to co-evolve as we became the people we are now. To co-habit as we created the spaces we now inhabit.

Of course, in the intervening years we’ve destroyed the primordial world. Now we carve space inside crumbling civilizations. Misguided & destructive  nutritional ideologies. Unsustainable patterns of living.

We need allies for that, starting with plants.

Rose Petal~Basil Green Smoothie (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In a blender, whirl until combined:

  • 12 large leaves romaine lettuce
  • Petals of 4 large (or 6 medium) unsprayed roses
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup coconut cream (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups water

Coconut Cream

  • 1 tin full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)

If you are on the Autoimmune Protocol or avoiding food additives, use an additive-free brand of coconut milk. The only one I know of is Natural Value. Other brands contain guar gum…

Refrigerate a tin of coconut milk until chilled. The cream will separate from the coconut water.

Scoop out the hard coconut cream  into a bowl. Use the coconut water in place of water in your smoothie.

Add the vanilla powder to the coconut cream, if using.

Whip with an electric mixer until creamy.

Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s smoothie!