Zucchini & Carmelized Turmeric (AIP)~

Zucchini with Turmeric 3

There’s a zucchini theme emerging here.

And not just because it’s summer~.

Why We Eat So Much Yellow Zucchini

Matthew started Aglaée Jacob’s gut healing protocol (as described in her book Digestive Health with REAL Food) three months ago.

For the first two months, the only carbohydrates he ate were carrots & spinach.

Zucchini with Turmeric 2Aglaée recommends starting with four vegetables, but as one of them isn’t Autoimmune Protocol legal, and he had trouble with another, that left two: carrots & spinach.

As I’ve outlined in previous posts, Aglaée’s protocol helped reduce his mysterious nausea symptoms when nothing else would.

(And to be clear, Aglaée doesn’t recommend staying on an extremely restrictive elimination phase for more than 8 weeks. Matthew’s just kept at because he feels worse off it).

Then, with the help of Matthew’s Functional Medicine Doctor, we developed a new hypothesis about his debilitating nausea: perhaps it’s related to biofilm-protected yeast colonies in his gut.

It made sense because biofilm-protected yeast colonies would be:

  • Highly resistant to nutritional treatment;
  • Continuing the inflammatory cycle by puncturing the intestinal wall with their roots (called hypha); and
  • Thriving on the sugars in foods (which on a diet of spinach, carrots, meat and bone broth meant: carrots).

Zucchini with Turmeric 4Luckily, right at that time, yellow zucchini (& yellow patty pans) started showing up at our local farmer’s market.

Zucchini is another one of the four carbohydrates recommended by Aglaée on the elimination phase of her gut-healing protocol. But Matthew has trouble digesting green zucchini, so it wasn’t initially on the list.

But then the yellow ones showed up~.

He switched from carrots to yellow zucchini.

And that’s why there’s a (yellow) zucchini theme going on around here~!

The good news is, the treatment protocol associated with the new hypothesis is finally arriving from the United States this week.

It’s a three month protocol, so we should know if the new hypothesis holds up by Hallowe’en.

In the meantime, we’re all about the Zucchini.

Zucchini & Turmeric

Zucchini with Turmeric 5To keep things yellow, this recipe pairs Zucchini with Turmeric, the one spice we all should be eating every day.

I outlined a few reasons for keeping Turmeric consumption high in my last recipe: Ginger Ale for Adults.

This is our everyday zucchini recipe. So simple. So delicious. Every day. And I’m not even a little bit tired of it~.

Zucchini & Caramelized Turmeric (AIP)

 from petra8paleoZucchini with Turmeric

  • 3 small or 1 medium Zucchini
  • 2 fingers fresh Turmeric Rhizome
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil or Lard
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or similar)

Peel & dice the Turmeric.

Slice the Zucchini into nice thick (3/4 inch) rounds.

Melt the Fat in a frying pan on medium heat, and lay in the Zucchini slices. Depending on the size you may need to fry them in batches.

Sprinkle with salt and scatter the diced Turmeric on top.

Fry gently, turning the slices with a fork. The Turmeric will get underfoot & start browning as you turn the Zucchini slices. Once the browning process begins, push the diced Turmeric peices to the cooler edge of the pan where they can continue to caramelize as the zucchini finishes cooking.

When the Zucchini slices are soft and lightly browned on both sides and the Turmeric is sticky, the dish is complete.

To serve, scatter the caramelized Turmeric over the browned Zucchini slices.

To make it a meal:

  • Deglaze the pan with bone broth and wilt a mess of greens. Add short ribs (or a pot roast, cooked exactly the same way).
  • Or render your own lard for a one pan supper, excellent for multi-tasking in the kitchen while the various elements cook: start the process by frying sliced pork belly, then keep hot in the oven, while you fry up the Zucchini & wilt the greens.

Patty Pans & Turmeric


Biohacking Tip #6: What’s Actionable?

Biohacking Tip 6Last week I considered the Origin of Illness.

I made a system map, to portray the role of the microbiome in our health.

That map ended up being a crazy bunch of interacting elements, linked by a tangle of arrows and feedback loops, leading to a sort of doomsday scenario of increasingly crappier outcomes.

It was a spaghetti diagram~.

Just contemplating it is stress-provoking.

And stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which leads to gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability & inflammation.

And we want none of those things.

Which is why this post is going to deconstruct that spaghetti diagram and get us on a more positive footing with this whole situation.

But before we start the deconstruction, here it is:

Microbiome 4

(For a break-down & explanation see The Origin of Illness).


Before the deconstruction begins, let’s acknowledge that this map is incomplete.

It omits unknown system elements. We don’t know what they are, so we can’t map them.

It also ignores known system elements, like mitochondria and blood sugar.

Like any model, it’s a simplification.

One day I’ll create a more comprehensive one. More elements. More arrows.

But the working hypothesis here is that what’s good for the microbiome is good for the body.

And in any case, there’s plenty to take action on here.

Constructing & Deconstructing a System Map

Anytime we encounter a complex system, we can attempt to understand it through mapping.

Once it’s mapped, we can identify which elements are actionable. To help us change it.

Last week I created a system map. This week, I’ll identify the actionable elements. They’re yellow:

Actionable Microbiome 1

Clarification: ‘Actionable’ doesn’t mean you can control these elements. It just means that you can try.

Necessary Caesarean births happen.

Some of us need to take life-saving or pain-reducing drugs.

As adults, we can’t change the method of our birth or the type of food we ate as children.

So, the yellow elements are potentially actionable. Starting from the beginning of life.

But let’s simply things further and just focus on what adults can do to hack their own biology in the present.

Here are those present-tense action-items for adults, in green:

Actionable Microbiome 2

But this spaghetti diagram just got worse, right? More boxes, more arrows.

Here’s the fun part~.

Even though we’ve established that we’re adults, this is where we get to be preschoolers. After building this elaborate tower, we get to knock the whole thing down.

Even better, we get to keep the all good stuff (the green bits) & toss out the nasty parts (everything else).

After the creative deconstruction, here’s what remains:

Actionable Microbiome 3

There it is. The protocol. Yours & mine.

Next post, I’ll explore these elements, including a quick tour of the blogosphere to find out what our favorite Health & Optimization experts have to say about each of them~.

But first a quick overview. Of how to change.

Create Change

Some steps for creating intentional change in complex systems:

  1. Understand the system;
  2. Identify what is actionable;
  3. Assess leverage;
  4. Take action;
  5. Observe impacts & measure outcomes; and
  6. Repeat.

The Origin of Illness helped with the first step: understanding the system.

This post tackled the second: Determining what is actionable. We’ll begin to explore those actionable elements in The Microbiome: The Protocol.

And soon we’ll consider #3: Assessing leverage~.

I’ve already covered #5: Observing Impacts & Measuring Outcomes in previous Biohacking Posts, including in Biohacking Tip #1: Gather Data.

Ginger-Ale for Adults (AIP & low-FODMAP)

Anti-inflammatory Ginger Ale 2There’s two variations here.

Ginger Ale. For adults.

And Anti-inflammatory Ginger Ale. For everybody~.

Ginger is a natural digestive tonic and an effective treatment for nausea. My husband Matthew has been experiencing nausea for 21 months straight.

Nothing really helps. Except drinking Ginger Tea. He drinks it daily.

But in summer that can get hot.

So I made up this Ginger Ale. It’s sort of like a party~!

It took awhile for me to get the strength right. The Ginger infusion needs to be wicked strong, so the ginger taste still bites you, even when it hits the ice & gets diluted with mineral water.

GingerThe anti-inflammatory version includes Ginger & Turmeric.

Because turmeric is everything awesome for your healing protocol.

Here’s why:

  • Turmeric can alleviate intestinal inflammation, which we now know is the origin of illness;
  • It can counteract neurodegeneration, including conditions like Alzheimer’s (perhaps because it improves intestinal health and thereby reduces systemic inflammation);
  • Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can suppress cancer;
  • It has cardioprotective properties;
  • TurmericIt improves arthritis symptoms;
  • Some scientists think it might be able to alleviate hyperglycemia and other effects of diabetes (because it can in mice);
  • Animal studies also suggest that curcumin can ameliorate chronic fatigue syndrome.

Of course, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine.

As has Ginger.

So drink up~!

Ginger Ale for Adults (AIP & low-FODMAP)

 from petra8paleoGinger Ale 2

  • 6 thumbs of fresh Ginger Rhizome
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 750ml bottle of Mineral Water
  • Ice
  • 1 orange (optional)

Peel & chop the Ginger.

Add the chopped Ginger to the 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour.

Pour the Ginger infusion, including the Ginger pieces into a glass container (a mason jar works well) and refrigerate until cold. If you will be refrigerating the infusion for more than a few hours you might decide not to include the Ginger pieces, unless you like your ale with extra bite~.

To serve, fill a tall glass with ice and squeeze in 1/4 of a orange (if using). Fill glass a little over half full withe the Ginger infusion and top with sparkling mineral water.

Anti-inflammatory Ginger Ale (AIP & low-FODMAP)

 from petra8paleoAnti-inflammatory Ginger Ale

  • 5 thumbs of fresh Ginger Rhizome
  • 5 fingers fresh Turmeric Rhizome
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 750ml bottle of Mineral Water
  • Ice

Peel & chop the Ginger & Turmeric.

Add the chopped Ginger & Turmeric to the 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour.

Pour the Ginger~Turmeric infusion, including the Rhizome pieces into a glass container (a mason jar works well) and refrigerate until cold. If you will be refrigerating the infusion for more than a few hours you might decide not to include the Rhizome pieces, unless you like your ale strong~.

To serve, fill a tall glass with ice. Fill glass a little over half full with the Ginger~Turmeric infusion and top with sparkling mineral water.

Note: Black Pepper increases the bio-availability of Turmeric, but is not part of the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol. If it was on our list, I’d be tempted to put a pinch in the saucepan with the Rhizomes~.

Ginger Ale Picnic: Fill a Mason Jar with Ice, bring your Cold Ginger Infusion in a 2nd Mason Jar, a bottle of Mineral Water & if you’re adding an Orange, don’t forget a knife.

If you’re adroit, you can get half the ice & half the Ginger infusion in each jar.

Mason Jar Ginger Ale Picnic for 2~.

The Origin of Illness (the Microbiome~)

My understanding of the microbiome is evolving.

New research is surfacing almost every day. Some of it I don’t fully comprehend.

Most recently, I’ve been reading David Perlmutter’s Brain Maker, which simplifies things enormously.

Here’s a step-by-step (with diagrams~) of my current understanding of the origin of illness. As ever, I welcome your thoughts.

The Origin of Illness

Both health and illness begin in the microbiome.

Here’s the basic idea:

Microbiome 1

My initial understanding involved a 3-step process:

  1. Inflammatory food upsets the balance of the bacteria in the gut, resulting in intestinal permeability.
  2. This allows foreign particles to leak into the body, causing systemic inflammation.
  3. Inflammation causes disease.

The connection between diet and gut health is the foundation of the nutritional elements of the Autoimmune Protocol as outlined in The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, (as well as all other evidence-based healing protocols like the The Wahls Protocol and The Bulletproof Diet).

But not only autoimmune conditions are caused by an unhealthy imbalance in the microbiome: it seems that most illnesses are.

The notion that most chronic health conditions are at least partly caused by inflammation is, in itself, a radical departure from the previous, mechanistic understanding of health. But this story gets way more interesting:

Microbiome 2

Inflammation isn’t the only cause of health problems.

We also need to consider genes & environment. Which leads us to…


Epigenetics is the study of the interaction between genes & environment. It’s partly this interplay that determines whether or not a genetic predisposition to a particular disease gets activated in response to systemic inflammation.

And helps explain why one person might get Psoriasis while another one gets Multiple Sclerosis.

Here’s a cute overview on Epigenetics:

The Origin of Gut Dysbiosis

Gut dysbiosis is an unhealthy imbalance in the microbiome and as mentioned, it is this imbalance that is a primary culprit in illness.

What causes an imbalance?

In addition to an unhealthy diet, chemicals (like chlorine); environmental factors (like excessive hygiene); side effects from drugs (including antibiotics); Caesarean birth and formula or bottle feeding all contribute to dysbiosis.

Before we are born, we have a minimal microbiome. We begin to acquire a robust one at birth. A vaginal birth followed by breastfeeding is the best possible way to get a healthy and protective microbiome started.

Interestingly, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests that a newborn receives microbiota from both the mother and the father (or the mother’s other sexual partners) during vaginal delivery. Which gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘dirty sex’~!


Stress is a really big deal.

Not only does ongoing stress contribute to gut dysbiosis through elevated cortisol levels, but gut dysbiosis causes stress.

And because chronically elevated cortisol levels contribute directly to intestinal permeability and inflammation, stress creates a nasty reinforcing loop of disease-provoking conditions in the body.

What causes stress?

Modern life.

We just weren’t designed for living this way.

Microbiome 3

 Toxins in the Brain

We used to think that the blood-brain barrier protected the brain from toxins. According to David Perlmutter in Brain Maker, that isn’t so.

Intestinal permeability allows toxins into the body and some of these travel up to the brain.

This is one explanation for the mental health epidemic we are now experiencing, including widespread depression and anxiety.

Remarkably, toxins can stress the brain into perceiving threat, which automatically triggers a neurological takeover by the limbic system.

The limbic system does a great job of protecting us from old-school hazards like predators, but is incapable of higher reasoning or anything approaching enlightenment, and simply can’t navigate the complexity of modern life.

So these toxins not only provoke depression and anxiety, but can render us incapable of making good decisions.

The Collateral Damage of Chronic Health Conditions

Compounding the problem, people who end up with chronic health conditions end up dealing with a host of other factors that contribute to stress, including pain, financial impacts and negative effects on relationships, which add add to the stress fest that help create their illness in the first place.

Microbiome 4

Mental Health

Obviously, the presence of toxins in the brain isn’t the only cause of mental health issues. The whole point of creating a convoluted spaghetti diagram like this one is that the origin of illness is complex.

In addition to epigenetics (genes & environment), trauma & brain architecture are significant factors to consider when thinking about our mental health.

I haven’t seen any reference to the connection between microbiome research and neurological development research in the literature, but it’s highly relevant.

(Still with me? We’re almost done~!)

Toxic Stress & Brain Architecture

Neurological research over the past 20 years has demonstrated that toxic stress in childhood changes the architecture of the brain.

The Harvard Centre on the Developing Child is a wonderful repository for this research.

The basic idea is that all children experience stress, but prolonged stress without the support of a caring adult is toxic to early brain development and permanently impairs executive functioning.

The ability to handle stress, fascinatingly, is wired into the same part of the brain as executive function skills, so that reduced executive function capacity also results in reduced ability to handle stress throughout the lifespan.

Executive function skills are also exactly what become impaired in an adult who experiences brain fog as a symptom of systemic inflammation.

Trauma & Nervous System Dysregulation

Finally, trauma, whether it occurs during childhood or adulthood, can result in nervous system dysregulation, which also impairs the body’s ability to manage stress.

So there it is.

My current (& no doubt flawed & incomplete) understanding of the origin of illness.

Next up: what we can do about it~!

Pacific Salmon Grilled Panini (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Patty PansI made a wonderful discovery.

It turns out an excellent quality sockeye salmon and avocado, combined, is reminiscent of a subtle and beautiful quality cheese.

Like something handcrafted in an idyllic french village where they don’t yet have wifi and nobody minds.

And everyone loves to be 102 and eats big family dinners all afternoon.

Outside under the apple trees.

That kind of cheese.

It’s been years since I’ve had cheese. So maybe I’ve forgotten. Maybe this tastes even better.

You’ll have to try it and see.

But I’m asserting that it definitely creates a convincing panini effect when paired with hot grilled Patty Pan Squash as a pseudo-ciabatta.

Patty Pans are flying saucer shaped summer squash.

And this is Grilled Cheese. AIP-style~.


Sockeye Salmon Grilled Panini (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoPanini 2

  • 4 Patty Pan Squash
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 portions (8-12 oz) wild Pacific Salmon
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or similar)

Slice each Patty Pan in 3 to create 12 disks.

Heat the Coconut Oil in a pan and lay the Patty Pan slices in. Brown on each side.

Meanwhile, mash the Avocado slightly in a bowl with the tines of a fork.

Using scissors, cut the spinach leaves into narrow ribbons into the bowl.

Add the Salmon and Salt and mix all the ingredients together until chunky but combined.

When the Patty Pans are hot and browned, remove six to a serving dish and divide the Salmon mixture between them. Top with the remaining six slices.

Serve immediately~ .

Patty Pans 2

This really is recipe really is worthy of my Ultimate AIP Zucchini Recipe Round-Up, so I’m going to slip it in there now~.

Biohacking Tip #5: Create Your Theory of Change

This post outlines 4 steps for develop a personal theory of change using the wellness wheel.

petra8paleo_3They are:

  1. Choose a wellness wheel;
  2. Define peak wellness;
  3. Create interim goals; &
  4. Design your intervention.

Theory of Change

A theory of change is a theory.

About change~!

It enables you to envision wellness and develop a plan to help you get there.

It’s the hypothesis part of the scientific method. It says: if I do this, I think that will happen.

Step 1: Create Your Wheel

Wellness wheel from a Child & Youth Collective Impact initiave I coordinateChoose a wellness wheel that works for you. I explore this in part 1 of this post: Create Your Own Wellness Wheel.

You can choose one with with four dimensions, like the Medicine Wheel (see below), or eight, like this rainbow version, or even an extreme 16, like the example I share in part 1 of this post.

Ancient Wisdom Teachings

In part 1 of this post I acknowledged that wellness is the foundation of many of our Ancient Wisdom Teachings. In an earlier post, I traced the theoretical history of biohacking, and included Ancient Wisdom Teachings as a core element in that evolution

One such teaching is the Medicine Wheel.

The Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel includes four dimensions with complex meanings. On one level, the four quadrants represent the emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual domains.

Shannon Thunderbird explains that “the Medicine Wheel assists in helping to seek: strong, healthy bodies (East) strong inner spirits (South), inner peace (West),  healthy minds (North). The term “Medicine” as it is used by First Nations people does not refer to drugs or herbal remedies. It is used within the context of inner spiritual energy and healing or an enlightened experience. The central essence of the medicine wheel is that each of you must make your own choices.

Your Wellness Wheel & Theory of Change~

In the spirit of making your own choices:

Step 2: Define Peak Wellness

Once you have your own wellness wheel, you are ready to set your desired outcomes.

To do that, use your wheel to define what ‘peak wellness’ means to you in each dimension.

You can borrow definitions (check out these) or create your own understanding of wellness for each area.

As an example, here’s a definition of Emotional Wellness:

Emotional wellness includes awareness and acceptance of one’s own feelings and the feelings of others.  This dimension involves the experience of positive mental health, including feeling loved, feeling optimistic about life, being comfortable with self-expression and having the capacity to deal with stress.  Emotional wellness includes the development of resilient inner resources to facilitate personal growth in the context of healthy interdependent relationships and community.

You can start by defining peak wellness in all domains or in one.

In this stage just envision peak wellness. Don’t worry about how to get there~!

Once you have defined peak wellness for one or more domains, you have your desired outcome(s).

Step 3: Create Interim Goals

We all want peak wellness, but our goals, at first, might be modest.

Interim goals are stepping-stones that help us get closer to what we ultimately want. They can be as easy to acheive as we please.

To set interim goals you simply need to decide where to place the stepping stones to get you from your current state to your desired one.

Current State~Desired State

Perhaps you use the following definition of emotional wellness: Peak emotional wellness means positive mental health, including feeling loved, feeling optimistic about life, being comfortable with self-expression and having the capacity to deal with stress.

There’s a lot there~!

Four elements, actually:

  1. Feeling loved;
  2. Feeling optimistic about life;
  3. Being comfortable with self-expression; and
  4. Having the capacity to deal with stress.

Start with one.

What would be one thing that would help you feel more comfortable with self-expression?

Doing art? Starting a blog? Joining toast masters? Sharing your poetry? Practicing saying no?

Sometimes the interim goals aren’t obvious. If they were, you might have achieved them already.

You might need to do some research.

Which doesn’t mean you have to delay starting. Research can be an interim goal: I will research what will help me feel more optimistic about life as a stepping stone to reaching emotional wellness.

Research can take 2 forms:

  1. Inquiry into what other people have found effective;
  2. Inquiry into yourself (n=1).

Ask: How have other people become more optimistic about life (especially in circumstances that are similar to mine)?

Observe: Under what circumstances do I feel more optimistic about life?

Once you think you discern a pattern (such as it seems that under these circumstances I feel more optimistic about life), then you have your interim goal: to arrange for those circumstances more consistently.

4. Design your intervention

Scientific Method~HypothesizeYour intervention is simply your strategy to ensure you arrange the pattern of your life in ways that will enable you to reach your interim goals.

Your intervention is the experiment part of the scientific method.

It can be fun. And broken into bite-sized stages.

Your Theory of Change~

If you put the whole thing, steps 1-4, in a sentence, you have a theory of change.

You have a hypothesis:

If I do this, I think that will happen. And these are the interim goals I’ve set to help me test my theory of change and keep me on track in my quest for peak wellness.

You don’t have to transform yourself overnight.

With a theory of change, you don’t have to~.

Biohacking Tips

Supporting your n=1 experiments for healing & optimization~

Force Field Analysis~

Force field analysis 2A  force field analysis will enable you to bring all your Jedi powers to bear on your process of change.

I’ve written about it before, but it deserves a post of its own.

Let the Force be with you~

Designed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1940’s, a force field analysis helps you to identify where the force is with you, where it is against you, and which Jedi moves to use in any given situation.

There are 7 steps:

  • First, brainstorm every single thing you can think of that is standing in the way of your successful change.
  • Make a diagram like the one below, giving every barrier you’re facing a customized arrow on the ‘restraining forces’ side. A huge barrier gets a huge arrow, a tiny hurdle gets a mini-arrow.
  • Next, write down everything you can think of that is working in your favor (dig deep to make this list).
  • Give each of these an appropriately sized arrow on the ‘driving forces’ side.

Pause to acknowledge that the combination of these forces are keeping you stuck where you are right now~.

  • It’s time to get unstuck. Think of all the ways that you can reduce or redirect the restraining arrows. You don’t need to eradicate them, just diminish their power or point them somewhere else. Write those ideas down.
  • Then generate a list of ways you can strengthen the driving forces, even a little bit.
  • Now you have a list of things you can do to help you change. Do these things.

Force field analysis

Restraining Forces

My favorite quote from David Allen is from his book, Ready for Anything: “In a totally frictionless world, everything would just appear as soon as it was imagined.”

Your restraining arrows are the friction: sticky elements that are preventing your ideal reality from manifesting the very moment you think of it~.

A house in Hawai’i with a waterfall lagoon and no debt and no mosquitoes…Bam!

Without restraining forces, it would appear.

The green line is your current reality. That’s where you are now, stuck in the status quo.

Your desired state is the orange line, way over there on the opposite bank, across the river of restraining arrows.

Those restraining arrows are like crocodiles, and your goal is to tame them (or distract them), so you can cross the raging restraining river to claim your heart’s desire (which really should be good health, not the Hawai’i lagoon thing).

We are usually pretty familiar with the obstacles in our lives, but if you spend some time delving in on this exercise, you might uncover some impediments that you weren’t aware of (or didn’t want to face).

Get them all out so you can figure out what to do about them.

Driving Forces

Sometimes it can be challenging to generate a comprehensive list of driving forces.

Humans have a tendency to focus on obstacles rather than assets.

If you’re having trouble, ask a friend to help you brainstorm a list of your internal & external resources and allocate appropriate sized arrows to each.

Driving forces can include behavior, attitudes & people. Helpful behaviors could be:

  • Spending time with people you love;
  • Being alone;
  • Going for walks;
  • Having anti-inflammatory food ready in the fridge or freezer;
  • Getting enough sleep;
  • Saying no (setting boundaries);
  • Getting out into nature;
  • Drinking water;
  • Practicing yoga;
  • Mindfulness or meditation.

Advanced Jedi Training: Suffering & Enlightenment~

BuddhaWhile you are working on reducing the power of the restraining arrows and increasing the strength of the driving arrows, your Jedi training continues.

According to the Buddhist teachings of the four noble truths, when you don’t get what you desire, you suffer. And the only way to acheive enlightenment is through suffering.

So you can think of the time you spend wrangling the restraining crocodiles in the river between you and your dreams as your own personalized enlightenment school~.

Chronic Illness (& the ‘Stockdale Paradox’)

Faith & Disciplined Awareness

Matthew’s ex-doctor once sat us down & told us:

“I don’t think you realize that Matthew has a debilitating, life-long, chronic illness that he will never recover from. There is every reason to expect he will become increasingly disabled. There is nothing you can do to change that. There is no cure.”

He thought we were in denial.

He thought we were in denial...He was totally right.

We were very, very deep in denial.

But we thought of it as being optimistic~.

We still thought we could find a pill that would fix him.

And that when he had a good day, it meant he was getting better.

But the doctor was also totally wrong.

Because there were things we could do.

The Stockdale Paradox

Jim Collins describes the Stockdale Paradox in his book Good to Great.

It was the strategy used by Jim Stockdale when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam from 1965-1973.

Stockdale survived, psychologically & literally, because of two things:

  1. He never lost faith that he would make it; and
  2. He was simultaneously fully aware of the precarious nature of his situation.
Jim Stockdale's homecoming

Jim Stockdale’s homecoming after 8 years as a POW

As Stockdale said years later, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–which you can never afford to lose–with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

According to Stockdale, it was the optimists that didn’t make it home.

It turns out that the two principles of the Stockdale Paradox (as Collins dubbed it): faith & disciplined awareness of the facts, are exactly what have been required to overcome a serious chronic illness, too.

1. Confront the Facts

Matthew’s doctor was right: we were in denial.

In Stockdale’s words, we needed to “confront the most brutal facts of our current reality”.

We were not going to find a pill that would make Matthew’s illness go away. We needed to accept that he would suffer enormously. We all would.

And the future we had envisioned for our family was never going to happen.

We confronted and accepted those facts as Matthew’s health declined. Until finally he was in bed 18-20 hours a day & hardly able to function at all.

2. Have Faith

The doctor was also wrong: there were things we could do.

Despite accepting the facts, we made a commitment from the beginning that we would never stop trying to reverse his illness.

And we never did.

Most of the things we tried didn’t work.

Some things made him worse.

Occasionally, we found something that helped. So we kept doing that.

While continuing to try other things. Most of which didn’t work. Or made him worse.

Repeat. For years.

Having unwavering faith for years, when there is little to reinforce it, is challenging. But sometimes faith is all you have, and that is so much better than nothing.

3. Keep Confronting the Facts

9 monthsWe had accepted the fact that Matthew had a serious chronic illness that he would be managing for the rest of his life.  Once a body is in autoimmune response, it will always have that tendency.

But, because we had faith that we could reverse his illness, we needed to begin to find and confront other facts (no matter how outlandish they seemed or how inconvenient they were) that were going to help him to manage his autoimmune condition.

Some of those facts were not easy to integrate:

  • That he needed to give up virtually all of the foods he loved (and relied on for comfort).
  • That he had to take stress management very seriously.
  • That his medications were causing significant harm and had to be reduced & eliminated.
  • Coffee. Had to go.
  • That he had an electromagnetic sensitivity. Even though most doctors don’t believe such a thing exists. And that to improve, he had to move out of the city. Necessitating two residences (because I had a job & teenagers in town), a lot of time apart, and a lot of debt.
  • Caffeine. Gone altogether.

Faith & Discipline

So, through attending to facts (big & small) and making the necessary adjustments based on n=1 data, ‘faith & disciplined awareness’ gradually became ‘faith & discipline’.

And healing.

Faith and discipline.

Sounds like the tenets of a spiritual path.

Unexpectedly, it has been~.

Faith & Discipline


The Ultimate AIP Zucchini Recipe Round~Up

Spaghetti Bolognese by Healing Family Eats

Spaghetti Bolognese by Healing Family Eats

It’s zucchini time in the Northern hemisphere~.

Zucchini is a thoroughly versatile vegetable. And one of the easiest to digest, making it an excellent choice for a gut-healing protocol.

So I asked AIP bloggers to send me their best AIP-friendly Zucchini (& summer squash) recipes.

Hot & Cold: From 12 different ways to eat ‘Zoodles’ to Zucchini Cheese with Zucchini Crackers, it’s the ultimate summer squash round~up!

Zucchini Noodles

Mason Jar Instant Ramen Zoodles by Strictly Delicious

Mason Jar Instant Ramen Zoodles by Strictly Delicious

Zucchini Stovetop

Breakfast Hash Casserole by A Squirrel in the Kitchen

Breakfast Hash Casserole by A Squirrel in the Kitchen

Zucchini Oven

Spanakopita Pie by petra8paleo

Spanakopita Pie by petra8paleo

Zucchini Grill

Zucchini Cheese by I Eat Real Food

Zucchini Cheese by I Eat Real Food

Zucchini Cheese & Crackers

A category unto itself~!

Zucchini Ferment

Include Zucchini in your next ferment~

Summer Squash

Summer Squash at dusk~


Gremolata~Pesto (AIP & low-FODMAP)

Gremolata Pesto 5One good sauce.

Is all you need.

To uplift your healing protocol.

Or the haiku version:

One good sauce is all

you need, to rock (& heal)

on the AIP~


This could be your one sauce.

Like a one-love sauce, it’s universal. You can put it on everything and, in turn, it makes everything sing.

Keeping it Green~

Keeping it Green~

A gemolata is traditionally made from parsley, lemon zest & garlic. A pesto with basil, parmesan, pine nuts & olive oil.

This low-FODMAP fusion variation takes advantage of the low melting point of coconut oil to create a bright green sauce that is firm and crumbly when chilled & exultingly melty when it hits the hot components of your meal.

It omits the garlic, dairy and nuts. And uses a combination of fresh basil and spinach, making it slightly more of a food than a condiment.

Yet another way to get your greens on~.

Like both its Italian grandmothers, this combination gremolata~pesto is zesty & green.

And it makes more than you probably need for one meal, so you’ll have some leftover.

To brighten a mug of hot bone broth. Or add to salad dressing. Or crumble on top of tomorrow’s breakfast.

Quick Supper

Gremolata~Pesto is also the secret to a quick supper.

Bake or pan fry some fish. Saute some zucchini spears in turmeric. Top with your new special sauce.

Quick. Fancy. Green.

Gremolata~Pesto (AIP & low-FODMAP)

 from petra8paleoGremolata Pesto 4

  • 2 cups (packed) fresh Basil
  • 2 cups (packed) Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or similar)
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced Lemon Zest (from an organic Lemon)

Put the Basil Spinach, Lemon Juice and Salt in a food processor.

Heat the coconut oil slightly, until just warm and liquified & pour it over the other ingredients.

Whirl, until a crumbly puree forms, scraping down the sides with a spatula once or twice, as required.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl or glass container, add the minced Lemon Zest and stir to combine.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for good times to come~.

Gremolata Pesto 6

Elevate your Nori Wrap

 Note: the gremolata~pesto is low-FODMAP, but not all of the foods in these photos (like avocados) are.