9/18/17

Cacao vs. Cocoa + Healthy Benefits of Cacao

Healthy Benefits of Cacao
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

Mr. Schulz, I completely agree with you; a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt...or does it? Unfortunately, chocolate is NOT compliant with the SCD diet. However, we decided to try raw cacao powder about a year and a half into the diet since we were in full remission and exhibiting no active symptoms of Crohn's disease. While diving into my research on chocolate I learned some fascinating information about this dark indulgence that so many of us love. In order to understand how and why chocolate (cacao) is beneficial to our health, it's important to understand the measures of how it is made and processed.

COCOA vs. CACAO

All chocolate, including the various forms it comes in, starts at the same source: the Theobroma cacao tree. This tree, native to South America, produces seed pods which are then harvested and cracked open to remove the unprocessed, pure cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") beans. From here you end up with either cacao or cocoa powder. They both sound similar but are actually very different, especially when it comes to processing, cost and nutrition. Many of you chocolate lovers know, cocoa and cacao are available in several different forms including nibs, chips, butter, powder, and chocolate bars. All delicious, but are they all equally healthy?

The cacao beans are usually fermented and dried before processing any further. Raw cacao powder is typically made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. This process allows the enzymes to stay in the cacao and removes the fat, or the cacao butter. When manufacturers chop the cacao beans into small pieces you have cacao nibs, which are full of flavor, slightly bitter and crunchy. Because the processesing is minimal to none, you get all the nutrients and antioxidant power of cacao beans. Cacao butter is made from the fattiest part of the cacao bean. It is actually white in color and slightly resembles white chocolate. You can use it for baking (like I did in this recipe) and even as a moisturizer. Finally, when you take what is left of the cacao bean and grind it into a fine powder you have cacao powder, which can be used in baking, cooking, hot chocolate, smoothies and more.

Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is probably what you remember from your childhood. Cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted at high temperatures, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols. Flavanols are the beneficial phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) found naturally in cacao. Since cacao contains such a unique blend of flavanols it is often referred to as a superfood. A common practice in manufacturing cocoa is Dutch processing; the process where the cocoa is treated in an alkalizing chemical agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cacao." Since cacao is naturally acidic, the taste is sharp and very bold. Dutch processing reduces the bitterness, darkens the color and creates a mild flavor. However, it also eliminates the nutrients and antioxidants. "Natural cocoa powder" will taste more bitter and rich than Dutch-processed cocoa powder, but be cautious because most natural cocoa powder has added ingredients like sugar, preservatives, starches, emulsifiers and dairy. And the same goes for chocolate chips.

Are you confused yet?

In short, the high-heat processing of cacao beans to create cocoa powder and chocolate strips the original source of its nutrients. Therefore cacao, which is minimally processed, is actually higher in antioxidants and nutrients.

5 Healthy Benefits of Eating Raw Organic Cacao

1. A Magnesium Rich Food
Cacao beans are one of the best magnesium-rich foods around. Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, and cacao nibs contain 272 milligrams per 100 grams. Magnesium is the second most abundant element inside human cells. It is found in bones, teeth, red blood cells and serves as a building block for DNA and is an essential element required for proper functioning of the nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular systems. Magnesium also helps in the absorption of calcium.

"Theobroma Cacao" literally translates into "Food of the Gods." Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

2. Excellent Source of Antioxidants
If it is certified as "Organic Raw Cacao" then it is an excellent source of antioxidants, otherwise you are consuming cacao covered in toxins from the spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans. In addition to the toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, it may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.

Organic raw cacao contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries! In the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart raw cocoa powder is at the top of the antioxidant list. This scale was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.

3. Prevent Aging
Raw cacao has the same polyphenol antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in red wine) can protect your cells from premature destruction and make you feel younger and healthier! Cocoa is also rich in flavonols, potent plant chemicals that encourage blood vessels to relax, keeping them youthful, supple and pliable.

4. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Several studies show that raw cacao has been found to decrease blood pressure. These changes are attributed to the presence of the antioxidants in cocoa that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed. Which also helps in maintaining a healthy circulatory system.

5. Enhances the Mood
Studies have shown that cacao flavonols help to enhance mood, combat depression, and promote improved cognitive activities. Cacao contains the mood booster, anandamide, known as the "bliss molecule," which gives you a feeling of euphoria.

Now, before you dive into your organic raw cacao here are a couple reminders:

Having too much cacao at one time can overstimulate your central nervous system, your heart and even your brain. You can go from feeling hyper to drowsy and quickly crash after the rush.

Remember that cacao nibs are more potent than powder and a little bit can go a long way. It's all about moderation.

In the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine clearly states that "Dr. Haas advised not to use cocoa or chocolate and this still goes, it isn't just the sugar he was worried about." Cacao, cocoa and chocolate products are NOT compliant with the SCD diet. Over time, we have introduced cacao with success. If you decide to add something into your diet, monitor the symptoms, write in your food journal and consider getting labs taken.

Shopping list: Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Butter

9/12/17

Crunchy Vanilla Cookies

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"I think careful cooking is love, don't you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who's close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give."
Julia Child

The other day I shared these crunchy vanilla cookies I made over on my food Instagram account (@Kickncrohns) and was overwhelmed by the response of who wanted the recipe. I figured the easiest way to share it was here on this site, but please take note this is not my creation. I found this recipe over on the Digestive Wellness blog and it appears the original recipe is sourced from a yahoo group dedicated to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. So, thank you Joe P. for sharing this extremely tasty recipe with the group! I want to make sure you get proper credit.

These cookies are the perfect balance for a slightly sweet, vanilla cookie with a crunch. Pair them with a glass of cold, freshly made almond milk and you'll have an ideal afternoon snack that is most certainly kid approved!

Crunchy Vanilla Cookies
yield: 2 dozen
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons grated Cocoa Butter, 1/2 cup melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the grated cocoa butter.
2. Add honey to dry ingredients and stir together. Don't worry if it;t not mixed well, once the cocoa butter melts the mixture will combine.
3. Pop the bowl in the microwave for about 1 min around 70% power and this will melt the cocoa butter.
4. Finish mixing completely.
5. Form tablespoon size balls and slightly flatten onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Rotate pan and bake an additional 2-4 minutes until golden.
7. Cool to room temp then refrigerate. These are best cold from the fridge or freezer.
8. Enjoy

*Tip: when flattening the cookies, use the back up a spoon that is slightly wet to avoid sticking.

9/11/17

Little Dancer

Little Dancer
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“It's dancing! It's magical, actually. A kind of slowish magic. Like writing with your feet.
― Katherine Rundell, The Wolf Wilder


As a child, I never found a passion in dance, although I secretly wish I did. My tomboyish spirit became grounded in other activities; playing in the woods, swimming, kayaking, skipping stones, running and eventually softball. I grew up in a neighborhood next to a small lake; I could almost throw a pebble from our back porch and hit the calm, blue water. Our street was always filled with children; riding bikes, running down to the waters edge, fishing, playing neighborhood tag or kickball. My childhood was magical and I am thankful.

Most of the children were around the same age and I always admired the girl up the street who was a dancer. Her hair perfectly pulled up into a tight bun, her soft pink uniform consisting of a leotard, tights and a tulle wrap, and her worn shoes with blocks of wood that always fascinated me. I remember asking endless questions of curiosity. While I was not a dancer and couldn't tell you a single thing about ballet, I was mesmerized by the graceful and classic movements of this art. Even as a child, it drew me in and captivated my spirit.

I am still not a dancer, I don't play softball anymore and while I may have a bit of a tomboyish character, I am a grown woman now. My interest in dance and ballet is still buried deep inside me and when my daughter expressed interest in the art I quietly rejoiced to myself and happily signed her up. She has now danced for almost three years and I see passion in her eyes, I see the excitement when she enters the room and the smile on her face when her feet begin to float.

Little Dancer, designed for the free-spirited child, offers the perfect range of active wear for dance, ballet and beyond. Their combination of soft, breathable cottons and jerseys with traditional tulles will give your little performer the comfort and style to feel uniquely her own. These modernly classic pieces are designed with comfort using high quality fabrics and textiles sourced throughout the world and sewn right here in the U.S.A. and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the GRoW @ The Wallis children’s dance programs at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

From one tiny dancer to another, I can assure you that these quality pieces are the perfect addition to your child's wardrobe.

Little Dancer | View the collection here | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

*This post is in partnership with Little Dancer an all opinions expressed are of my own. They truly are magical.

9/3/17

THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP | IBD NEWS, CLEAN EATING, SIMPLE LIVING

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photo by Mallory + Justin Photography

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Thomas Edison


The Weekly Roundup is a well-curated selection of insightful articles related to health, clean-eating, the gut microbiome, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a Paleo lifestyle, simple living, positive parenting and delicious recipes.

It's been awhile since I've posted "The Weekly Roundup" and I've come across so many good articles that have been accumulating on my computer. The Weekly Roundup is a great way for me to organize these important articles, share them with you and have a platform to reference them later if needed. Speaking of organization, it was brought to my attention over on Instagram that some of my recipes are not listed under the "Recipe" button. After investigating, sure enough, my labels were incorrect and not all recipes were listed. That has since been changed. I am also brainstorming some ways to organize my recipes on this site, especially since the main focus of my blog is now geared towards clean eating and SCD recipes. At this point, I am not ready to create a new website but in the future I hope to upgrade to a site that is better fitted for recipes, printable recipes and cooking tips and techniques. But for now, I have added a "Recipe Index" tab on my side bar and will list all my recipes by category. A project I hope to finish sooner than later! I'm all ears if you have any suggestions.

Enjoy the long weekend, I know we're looking forward to laying back and relaxing.

1. For any of those parenting a teen, or almost teen in my case, knows this is the generation of smartphones and technology. It's inevitable, it is shaping our future and our children are exposed to it daily. My oldest, who turned 12 this summer, does have an iPhone and we certainly have our struggles with finding balance. As a parent, it's one more thing that I need to monitor and keep on top of. In fact, we have several rules when it comes to the cell phone. I agree 100% that the arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. This article goes into depth and questions if the era of smartphones has destroyed a generation. A must read for any teen parent!

2. Study Shows One Common Food Additive Causes Crohn’s Disease And Colitis.

3. A fascinating study coming out of Case Western Reserve University. High fat diet reduces gut bacteria, Crohn's disease symptoms. Results could lead to new anti-inflammatory probiotics.

4. Bill Gates and British journalist Ed Yong sit down and talk microbes. This interesting article outlines just how powerful our microbe are when it comes to our body and health. I've added Yongs book, I Contain Multitudes, to my reading list; sounds like a must read.

5. Gut Bacteria Can Fluctuate With the Seasons. The discovery, in a study of hunter-gatherers in Africa, eventually may help scientists learn how modern diets have affected health.

6. My heart goes out to everyone in Texas. The children and I are praying daily and keeping those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in our thoughts. We've talked about ways we can help and charities we can donate to. If you are interested in donating please remember that any donation amount will help and prayers are always needed. Here are links for the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, The Humane Society and Austin Pets Alive.

8/29/17

Simple Pineapple Slushee

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The days of summer may be drifting off, but I'm determined to hold onto them and make them last. My kitchen counters proudly display a bountiful harvest from local farms and markets and I can't wait to come up with something creative and filling for the whole family. Peach cobbler, apple crisp, carrot muffins, gazpacho, eggplant and zucchini stacks. The options are always endless when fresh produce is so abundant.

The other day I had some freshly frozen pineapple that I wanted to use up because I am attempting to clean out the freezer before stocking it for fall. I decided to surprise the kids with an after school treat; pineapple slushees. Before we changed our lifestyle and cut out processed foods, sugars, preservatives and starches, my son used to love slurping slushees by the pool. Of course I knew these were full of sugar and dyes and I strongly encouraged my kids to make better choices, but every once in awhile I turned an eye and allowed them as a treat. Fast forward almost three years later and that treat is no longer an option. But to be honest, my other children have no desire for such a treat either. Our tastebuds have changed and it is most definitely for the better.

So what do we treat ourselves to these days? Pineapple slushees of course! Did you know this sweet tropical fruit is a great source of fiber and bromelain, an enzyme that can aid in digestion and even reduce bloating and indigestion. Pineapples are also a wonderful source of vitamin C and can help reduce inflammation in the body. And guess what moms? Pineapple is rich in manganese, a mineral required for building collagen, which is a structural component of skin that prevents loss of elasticity and wrinkles. It looks like these pineapple treats benefit both parents and kids!

Pineapple Slushie
yield:6 servings
SCD, Gluten-free, Sugar-free

INGREDIENTS:
16 ounces frozen pineapple
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup homemade yogurt (or plain yogurt)
2 Tbs. water

INSTRUCTIONS:
Place all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix and combine until thick and creamy. Pour into individual glasses, serve and enjoy.

8/10/17

Hearty Vegetarian Rainbow Bowl + Phytonutrients

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"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." -Ann Wigmore

This bountiful, hearty bowl is packed with vibrant colors and rich flavors that are bound to be filling, even for the carnivore at heart! My family may not be vegetarians, but you can always find a wide range of plant based foods served at every meal. In fact, veggies usually make up the majority of our plates and servings.

One thing I have learned through my son’s journey with Crohn’s Disease is the importance of eating the rainbow. When you incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet you reap the benefits of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that act as powerful defenders of health, both for the plant and the person consuming the plant. Studies have shown that people who eat more plant-based foods have reduced risks of chronic disease, heart disease and cancer. And, these phytonutrients can even help rid the body of toxins, fight inflammation, boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and help fight disease.

So who’s ready to eat the rainbow and pack their plates with veggies?

This hearty vegetarian bowl is loaded with raw veggies and the sautéed shitake mushrooms add the perfect texture for a rich flavorful finish. You’ll find this combination of cooked and raw vegetables extremely filling, and once you drizzle the dressing on top you’ll find it is irresistible.

*Please note: in order to make this meal SCD friendly omit the corn, garbanzo beans and purple potatoes. You can easily sub black beans or navy beans (soaked for 10-12 hours), butternut squash or diced tomatoes. Because garbanzo beans and potatoes are long-chain carbohydrates they are not compatible with the SCD diet. In order to avoid feeding the bad bacteria in the gut steer clear of long-chain carbohydrates.

Hearty Vegetarian Rainbow Bowl
Yield: 4 servings
Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free, SCD*, Paleo*

INGREDIENTS:
6 ounces shitake mushrooms
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound boiled baby purple potatoes
1 cup cooked corn
2 avocados, thinly sliced
15 ounces chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 ounces broccoli cole slaw (one bag)
10 ounces shredded carrots (one bag)
2 ounces micro greens (one container)

Creamy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup coconut milk
4 Tbs. white wine vinegar
2 Tbs dijon mustard
3 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Set aside.
2. On a large platter (or in individual bowls) organize the pepper slices, cooked potatoes, corn, avocado, chickpeas, broccoli slaw and carrots.
3. Top the veggies with the micro greens and sautéed shitake mushrooms.
4. In a large glass jar combine all the dressing ingredients and blend well with an immersion blender.
5. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetable tray or individual bowls.
6. Serve and enjoy.

7/31/17

GRILLED SALMON WITH YELLOW BEET, FENNEL & CITRUS SALAD

Grilled Salmon with Beets and Fennel
Grilled Salmon with Beets and Fennel
This recipe was originally featured in the June issue of About Magazine.

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients." -Julia Child

Summer tends to always bring a side of fresh, local vegetables to every meal in our house. When the hot summer sun trickles inside we tend to avoid heavy, hearty meals and instead focus on light dishes that are loaded with fruits and vegetables. We've also been attempting to cut back on our meat intake so we can make sure we are incorporating as many phytonutrients into each meal as possible. For our proteins, we're focusing on wild caught fish, legumes and farm raised chicken.

Because it is such a versatile fish, wild caught salmon is one of our go-to seafood dishes. Did you know that the nutritional content of wild caught salmon makes it one of the world’s healthiest foods? It is extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can improve brain function and, combined with the amino acids, help to prevent macular degeneration and loss of vision. It also contains minerals like selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron. Salmon (wild caught) is a good source for vitamin D, vitamin A and some members of the B vitamin family. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the small intestine, and people who have irritable bowl diseases may not be able to absorb enough B12. If you struggle with IBD you may want to consider consulting your doctor and checking your vitamin B12 and D levels.

While salmon is very beneficial to our health, it's important to know about the product you are consuming and where it is sourced from. Farm-raised salmon is a hot topic for discussion these days and while there are ethical and sustainable farms, there are far too many that are unethical in their production which leads to pollution, the spreading of disease and sea lice and extra usage of natural resources. Some farmed salmon has been found to contain toxic chemicals. Questionable practices also come into play. For various reasons, the content of the feed is often supplemented with chemicals. Seafood Watch, a website run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is a useful resource for monitoring the fish you consume. Their recommendations help you choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment; I highly recommend checking out this site and downloading their app!

Grilled Salmon with Yellow Beet, Fennel & Citrus Salad
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free
yield: 4-6 servings

GRILLED SALMON
INGREDIENTS:

4 (6 ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
Coconut or olive oil
Kosher or Himalayan salt
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat grill.
2. Brush the salmon fillets with oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Grill the salmon fillets skinned side down over moderate heat for about 3 minutes. Turn and grill about 3 minutes longer, or until the salmon is nearly cooked through. Make sure each side is generously coated in oil. Transfer to a platter.

CITRUS SALD:
2 medium yellow beets
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 blood orange, thinly sliced and peeled
1 large grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments

VINAIGRETTE:
4 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs grapefruit juice
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp Himalayan salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Coat the beets with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 375 degrees until they can be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes, set aside and let cool.
2. Make the vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a bowl and mixing with an immersion blender until thick and creamy.
3. Peel the beets and thinly slice.
4. Toss the fennel, orange and grapefruit together. Add the beets and toss together with the dressing.
5. Plate individual plates or a platter with a heap of salad and place a salmon fillet on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Add parsley for a garnish.

*Note: fennel is legal on the SCD diet but it is very fibrous. It should only be used when you are symptom free of your irritable bowel disease and have reached remission.

7/26/17

A Trip To The Toledo Zoo

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The days of simple zoo trips seem so long ago. Now we're faced with actually finding time to visit the zoo, planning our meals so we don't have to eat at their facilities or searching for a restaurant that can accommodate our dietary needs. I honestly wish life wasn't so busy, that our days weren't so hectic, but as the kids get older our schedules get busier. We're actually over due for another trip to the zoo, but back in May we found ourselves in Toledo for the Ohio State Cup soccer tournament. We decided to take full advantage and spend the day at the zoo, and it was definitely worth the trip! And spending twenty bucks on lettuce to feed the giraffes? Totally worth it!

If you're planning a trip to the zoo or an amusement park you may enjoy this post on How To Eat Healthy at an Amusement Park. Feel free to add any of your tips or suggestions in the comments below!

*Jessica's dress and Joshua's shirt are c/o Tea Collection. As a Tea Collection Ambassador, I love sharing more about this amazing company with you. This spring, Tea Collection partnered with National Geographic Explorer and Shark Conservationist, Jess Cramp to inspire little citizens to care about (and for) our planet and together they launched the Save the Sharks campaign.

7/14/17

Lemon Vanilla Sponge Cake | SCD + Paleo

SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
SCD Paleo Sponge Cake
"When I got to France I realized I didn't know very much about food at all. I'd never had a real cake. I'd had those cakes from cake mixes or the ones that have a lot of baking powder in them. A really good French cake doesn't have anything like that in it - it's all egg power."
Julia Child

While the origins of the sponge cake date back to Italy, there is no denying that eggs play an essential role in this light, fluffy dessert. A traditional sponge cake is very easy to make, consisting of just three very basic ingredients: flour, sugar and eggs. When you take away two of those key ingredients, flour and sugar, you need to get a little creative in your recipe development. I've made this cake three times now and by the final round my family was asking for more.

No summer is complete without indulging in sponge cake that is drenched in fresh, local fruit and a whipped topping. You can easily add ice cream made with coconut milk, icing made with coconut cream, fruit preserves or the mernigue icing mentioned below. Just make sure not to overcook this delicate dessert!

Lemon Vanilla Sponge Cake
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free
yield: 8-10 pieces

INGREDIENTS: 
1 ½ cups raw cashews
4 eggs, separated
zest from one lemon
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
¼ c honey
1 tsp baking soda
3 Tbs coconut flour
½ tsp sea salt

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:
9 inch springform pan
parchment paper
food processor
Vitamix (or blender)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer until soft peaks form.
3. Place the raw cashews in a food processer and process until creamy, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Grease a 9 inch spring-form pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
5. Once the cashews are creamy and resemble the texture of cashew butter, add the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and honey. Pulse to blend. Add the baking soda, coconut flour, and sea salt and pulse until blended together.
6. Transfer the cashew mixture to a large bowl and fold in ½ cup of the egg whites until combined.
7. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Make sure not to overmix.
8. Transfer the batter to the spring form pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and firm to the touch. Do not overbake!
9. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
10. Top with berries and icing and enjoy!

Meringue Icing
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-free

INGREDIENTS:
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup honey
¼ tsp lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Bring the honey to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form.
3. With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly pour the honey into the egg white mixture.
4. Continue beating the meringue on high for approximately 5-8 minutes or until the meringue forms stiff peaks and has doubled in size.
5. Chill in the fridge for ½ hour before using.

**This post contains affiliate links.

7/11/17

How to Eat Healthy at an Amusement Park

Theme Park Tips
Theme Park Tips
Theme Park Tips
While amusement parks and theme parks deliver the thrills of excitement and adventure, they can be challenging for a family like ours who focuses on a lifestyle of clean eating. And unfortunately, for our family, splurging in moderation is not an option since we are using diet to treat our son's Crohn's disease. This summer we decided to stay local and embrace what Ohio has to offer, and any Ohioan knows that Cedar Point is a must. This particular trip was slightly out of our comfort zone, especially when it comes to the food department. If you've been following along for awhile, then you know that food plays a huge role in our travels and vacations. Just take a look at our trip to Friday Harbor last year and you'll see what I mean.

Unfortunately, most amusement parks have very little to offer when it comes to healthy food choices. Sugar-filled treats, preservatives, fried foods, high-calorie meals and processed drinks seem to be lurking around every corner. While it seems almost impossible to eat healthy at a theme park, it is not impossible. It may take a little work on your end, but it is well worth it to stay on track.

EAT BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
We try to enter to park as soon as it opens so we can make sure we're out of there well before dinner. Before arrival, I made sure we ate a large, healthy meal to fill our bellies and fuel us for the day. Be sure to include a protein, a healthy fat and plenty of fruits and veggies. Make sure you do a little research. Some parks will allow you to bring a cooler and leave it outside the park in a designated area with picnic benches. If this is a possibility, I highly recommend planning out your meals and taking advantage of this opportunity. You'll be able to stick with your healthy eating, save on money, and take a break from the park.

BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS
Bringing your own snacks is absolutely essential, especially if you follow a strict diet like the SCD diet. Since you'll be running around from ride to ride, you'll be burning off energy that will need to be replaced. Homemade snack bars, cubed cheese, fruit strips, meat sticks, packaged olives and and nuts all make good options. While some of the following snacks are not technically SCD complaint (because there is no letter from the company) we have found that our son can tolerate them in moderation. Packing Larabars, Epic bars, just fruit bars and apple or beet chips can cut down on the packing time and preparation time for homemade snacks. It's very important to remember, that even if you can tolerate these packaged foods you should only eat them in moderation.

DRINK WATER
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I can't say this enough. Did you know your brain is made up of about 75 percent water? Drinking water will actually help you think, focus and concentrate better and it will boost your energy levels. When fatigue hits, there is a chance that you are showing signs of dehydration. Water helps to flush the toxins out of your system and plays a key role in overall body function.

SEEK OUT FRUITS & VEGGIES
As mentioned above, you should have plenty of snacks with you, but if you need to purchase a snack seek out freshly cut fruit and vegetables. Often you will be able to find a container of fruit or a side of carrots and celery. In order to stick with your clean eating, omit any sauces provided for the vegetables because they will contain sugar, preservatives and most likely starches.

While smoothies always sound like a healthy choice, I highly recommend avoiding smoothies in theme parks, malls and restaurants. The terms natural, made with fresh fruit and preservative-free are EXTREMELY misleading. These smoothies are often times made from a pre-made frozen concentrate that contains sugar, natural flavors, cellulose gum, dyes, and maltodextrin. These drinks that are being sold as "healthy" are in fact the complete opposite and offer little to no health benefits and can wreck havoc on your gut micro-biome.

FIND THE HEALTHIEST OPTIONS
There is bound to be a time when you don't have a choice and must eat out while visiting a theme park. For obvious reasons, steer clear of the classic stands that carry cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pizza and French fries. Try and find a sit down restaurant and don't hesitate from starting an open dialogue with your server and manager about your dietary requirements. Choose simple, customized meals and avoid all sauces and dressings. A salad is a good choice but try and avoid cheese (unless you know it's an aged cheese and not processed) and ask for olive oil, vinegar and lemons to use as a dressing. If you order a steak, make sure it is only cooked in butter or olive oil and avoid spices with the exception of salt and pepper. We avoid chicken in restaurants, unless we know that it is a quality product. Chicken is often injected with water, salt and other additives and preservatives to help it stay juicier and more flavorful, therefore making it a questionable choice. This is the same reason why we avoid pork. Grilled fish with a side of steamed veggies is always a decent option as well.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS
Probably the most important step you can take is talking to your kids. Explain to them why you choose the lifestyle of clean eating and healthy living. It's very important that you focus on healthy eating and physical exercise rather than weight. Clean eating is not just another diet. Rather, it is a lifestyle that focuses on overall body and mind health. By promoting a healthy lifestyle, hopefully your children will learn to understand why certain foods like sugars, preservatives and so forth are bad for the body and how they negatively impact the gut flora. And don't forget, children learn by their parents example. If you lead a healthy and active life then chances are your decisions will trickle down to your children and they will follow in your footsteps.

6/23/17

The Weekly Roundup | IBD News, Clean Eating, Simple Living

Beach
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Thomas Edison


The Weekly Roundup is a well-curated selection of insightful articles related to health, clean-eating, the gut microbiome, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a Paleo lifestyle, simple living, positive parenting and delicious recipes.

It's been awhile since I've posted "The Weekly Roundup" and I've come across so many good articles that have been accumulating on my computer. The Weekly Roundup is a great way for me to organize these important articles, share them with you and have a platform to reference them later if needed. Speaking of organization, it was brought to my attention over on Instagram that some of my recipes are not listed under the Recipe button. After investigating, sure enough, my labels were incorrect and not all recipes were listed. That has since been changed. I am also brainstorming some ways to organize my recipes on this site, especially since the main focus of my blog is geared towards food and SCD recipes. At this point, I am not ready to create a new website but in the future I hope to upgrade to a site that is better fitted for recipes, printable recipes and cooking tips and techniques. But for now, I have added a "Recipe Index" tab on my side bar and will list all my recipes by category. A project I hope to finish sooner than later! I'm all ears if you have any suggestions.

1. Beware! High fructose corn syrup now goes by a new, deceitful name. It is SO important to always, always read labels.

2. Parkinson’s disease, which involves the malfunction and death of nerve cells in the brain, may originate in the gut, new research suggests, adding to a growing body of evidence supporting the idea.

3. There seems to be quit an uproar over the American Heart Association's recent release warning against coconut oil. This article gives fair insight into the debate. The bottom line? Everything in moderation.

4. BUT, this clip by Dr. Mark Hyman sums up why vegetable oil should NOT be included in your diet! Vegetable oils, which include corn, soybean, sunflower, canola, and safflower oils, are all omega 6-rich, inflammatory polyunsaturated fats. Omega 6 fats not only fuel inflammation in the body, but also reduce availability of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats in your tissues, resulting in more inflammation. These oils should be avoided at all costs and replaced with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed organic butter and ghee.

5. Inflammatory bowel disease is becoming more common in kids. Since Jonas' diagnosis almost three years ago I am amazed by how many families I have met who have a child with gastrointestinal problems. Just from my own experiences, I can tell that these diseases are, sadly, on the rise.

Happy reading and cheers to a healthy, active weekend!

6/21/17

The Road to Summer + Little Green Radicals

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Little Green Radicals
“Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.”

Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

It feels like the beginning of June was just yesterday, yet July inches closer and closer with each passing day. The road to summer swiftly arrived, and we happily welcomed it with open arms. But we're trying our hardest to stay on the path. We're trying to continue on the road to summer, the road to adventure and endless endeavors, the road to childhood and bliss, and most importantly, the road to memory making.

Since the arrival of summer we've barely had time to rest. We have yet to fully slow down and breath in the spirt of June; the balmy days calmed by long hours at the pool, homemade popsicles dripping down hot, sweaty cheeks, bare feet gently stained with the color of grass and scraped knees from long bike rides. We have yet to swim in the lake, touch our toes in the sand or pick fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms.

But the road to summer is here.

We are casually falling into our new routine and embracing the sense of laziness that seems to grace our mornings and evenings. I've noticed a change in my attitude; the slow leisurely pace that I carry throughout the day, my nonchalant approach to chores and responsibilities. I haven't exactly pushed everything aside, but I am channeling my inner childhood and adolescence. I want to read more this summer, I want to read stretched out on a canvas of grass in the middle of the park and I want to read with the children under the darkness of the blankets with a flashlight in hand. I want to dance across our yard with sparklers clenched tightly, leaving a trace of light as I swiftly run with the kids. I want to chase the fireflies, count them and collect them. I want to dive off the diving board, attempt a flip (even though its been ages since I've done one) swim under the moonlight, try my hand at tennis and did I mention read more this summer?

Most importantly, I want to make this summer count.
I want to make as many memories as possible so I can gift them to my children.
I want the road to summer to be memorable.
To be meaningly.
Extraordinary.

The months of June, July and August are like little treasures we collect. Those tiny shells we find on the beaches of Kelly's Island or the smooth pebbles from Friday Harbor. Small glass jars of these treasures decorate our home and they are a constant reminder of our travels. Over time I hope to fill our hearts and minds with similar treasures; the treasures gifted to us by the essence of summer.

Thank you Little Green Radicals for working with me on this post/review. For those of you who have never heard of this company I highly suggest checking them out. Not only is the clothing ethically made and organic, but the pieces are high quality and true classic designs. Their organic farmers, based in India, get a guaranteed price for their cotton and they don’t use nasty pesticides. The employees in the factories get fair wages, maternity leave and several other benefits that, unfortunately, most factory workers overseas do not get. Over the years this ethical, organic and Fairtrade company has blossomed into an award winning beautiful brand. Little Green Radicals combines fashion with comfort and delivers a quality line ranging from newborn to eight years of age. And make sure to check out their organic skincare line as well!

Click the links below to shop.

Little Green Radicals // Website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook