The AIP Diet – A new adventure for my health and for my stomach

I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease, and most people probably know that, because I am pretty vocal about it.  I know the condition is fairly common and often easily treatable, mine never has been.  Even when the doctors tell me that my blood work is “within range,” I rarely feel like myself and constantly suffer from a broad range of related symptoms. More information about my autoimmune disease and my symptoms have been written about in previous posts (and I am sure I will post on that topic again).  However, I do want talk about food and its relation to Hashimoto’s and my health.

I have been on a gluten free diet for several years after discovering that this is often recommended for Hashimoto’s patients. There are lots of articles out there that talk about why gluten is bad, but basically eating gluten makes my body attach my thyroid more than it already is doing.  Here is a decent article on the topic: Gluten and Hashimoto’s Disease.  When eating a gluten free diet, I find that my symptoms are reduced somewhat and that my flares occur less often.

I was doing good as of last year was down to my pre-diagnosis weight!  I was so excited!  Then there was some major stress in my life and my thyroid levels over the last year have been going down and down.  I am up to 200 mcg of Synthroid a day!…my symptoms are all over the place, and my weight is back up to where it was at its highest (pre-pregnancy).

I have decided that something needs to change and I need to try something new.  I am looking for a new doctor and I am hoping to find a Functional Medicine Doctor that my insurance will cover, but in the meantime I have decided to take on the Auto Immune Protocol Diet.

I have been reading a lot about this Protocol and I am very optimistic that I will see positive results.  This protocol is often prescribed by doctors for patients with autoimmune issues and leaky gut.  I have been pulling my information from a number of sources, but my go-to has been Paleo Mom.  She gives a great overview of the protocol here.

What is the AIP diet?

The goal is to detox your system of foods and substances that often cause reactions.  The foods allows and disallowed are easily found online and Paleo Mom has some great reference charts.  This strict protocol is to be followed for a minimum of 30 days (although many people find that they are still symptomatic and need to follow it for longer) and then start reintroducing foods in a limited and specific way.  By reintroducing foods slowly, it should be easy to recognize which foods cause symptom flares.  Foods that cause a negative reaction should be removed and kept out of the eating plan for that individual.  The ultimate goal is to finish on the paleo diet with the addition of limiting food that that specific person also reacts too.

Wish me good luck and strength of will to stay on the AIP wagon!

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Breakfast for Dinner and Tales of a Helpful Toddler

Last night was the first night in a long time that I cooked dinner for my family.  I love to cook and I normally cook quite often, but Michael had been out of town for a bit and then my Mother-in-Law had a heart attack (more about that in another post) and as a result we have been back and forth to Little Rock (to visit the hospital) and Michael has been staying at the hospital a lot too.

Michael was home last night and I wanted to cook, but I had forgotten to set anything out to defrost.  I was left to ponder what I could fix for dinner fairly easily and with what I had on hand and ready to cook.

I decided on Breakfast for dinner –  a fairly regular meal at our house.  I thought about what I would include and decided on gluten-free biscuits, scrambled eggs, and sausage links.  Now generally Michael prefers bacon or at least sausage patties, but all I had was sausage links, so he was just going to have to make do with them.

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The kitchen quickly becomes a disaster area when I am cooking!

Genevieve saw me in the kitchen and wanted to help.  She climbed up in her learning tower (we found this at a Rhea Lana’s sale for so cheap!), and asked to help me.  She first pointed to the sausages and told me that she wanted to eat the “hot dog,” which was so cute!  I told her that they were sausages and she then told me that she wanted to eat the sausages, but I told her they had to cook first (much to her disappointment).  She then helped me cute the biscuits.  When I started breaking the eggs to scramble them, she asked if she could crack the eggs.  I wouldn’t let her crack the eggs because I didnt want to fish all the shells out.  She got so made at me that she ran out of the kitchen saying that she was going to go “tell daddy that you are doing it wrong!”

When dinner was finished cooking, we all sat down to the table to eat.  It was such a treat for us all to eat dinner together, since it had been so long.

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I ate my biscuits with honey…yum!

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Want to know how to make these amazing gluten-free biscuits?  I use this recipe from Maebell’s blog.  It is the best gluten-free biscuit recipe I have found.  I generally tweak it by adding 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum, cooking in a glass 9×13 casserole dish coated with melted butter, and I cook them a bit longer – 15 to 20 minutes (finishing with the broil setting to get a golden color on top).

My Favorite Gluten Free Snacks (purchased, not made)

I know that store bought snacks, especially gluten free ones, are not very healthy.  I know they contain lots of sugar and other things that aren’t so good for you.  That being said, I dont always have the time or the desire to make everything from scratch.  When I want a quick snack, these are my favorite gluten free products.

 

Glutino Chocolate Chip Cookies

(These are crunchy cookies.  If you prefer a soft cookie, I would recommend Wow or Enjoy Life)

Midnight snack: Simple Truth Organic Fat Free milk and @Glutino Chocolate Chip Cookies #milkandcookies #glutenfree #glutino #blog | January 18, 2016 at 11:38PM

Mi-Del Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

(Glutino’s are probably my 2nd favorite brand of sandwich cookie, but I think the Mi-Del brand has a slightly less powdery texture)

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Schar Honeygrams

(These make the best s’mores! Kinnikinnick’s are good too, but are a little on the thick side)

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Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle Cookies

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Glutino Sesame Pretzel Rings

(These are great on their own and they are also good added to chex mix)

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Lance Gluten Free Peanut Butter Crackers

(These are my newly found favorite and they are amazing.  They are really hard for me to find where I live and I love them so much, I dont want to share with my husband!  These are so good, I think they need to sell the cracker component on its own too – they taste just like Ritz crackers!)

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King Arthur Brand Brownie Mix

(These brownies are just amazing.  Some people prefer the Betty Crocker gluten free mix, which is cheaper, but hands down the King Arthur brand wins in our house.  My husband isnt gluten free and he prefers the King Arthur brownies to any other brand, gluten free or regular.  Note: We like to add a cup of peanut butter to our mix prior to baking – yum!)

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Pillsbury Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

(This is found in the refrigerated biscuit section in a small tub.  These cookies cook up soft and yummy and make the house smell so good!)

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What are your favorite gluten free snacks?

 

Chicken Corn Chowder

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Ingredients:

16 Oz chicken broth
2 chicken breasts (cooked and chopped )
10 Oz frozen corn
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 an onion
1/2 a bell pepper
2 Tablespoons garlic
Rosemary, thyme, dalt, and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar – optional

Directions:

Sautee garlic, onion, and bell pepper in onion until cooked through.

Add corn and chicken broth and cook on Medium until corn is defrosted and cooked. Add chicken and continue to cook for 20 min. Add seasonings as desired.

Add cream, stir, and cover. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking. Add cornstarch if thickening is desired.

Serve topped with shredded cheese

Smoked Gouda Green Bean Casserole

I have blogged this recipe before, and even linked it to Pintrest, but the blog post seems to have dissapeared.

This recipe is gluten free and a family favorite.

Smoked Gouda Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
4 cans green beans
1 block of smoked Gouda (shredded)
Worcestershire sauce
2 cups heavy cream
2 pkgs sliced mushrooms
1/2 package cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 large yellow onion
1 cup shredded cheddar
Chicken stock
Corn starch
1/4 cup gluten free flour mix
2 tablespoons almond flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
3/4 stick of butter
Peanut oil (for frying onions or oiling cookie sheet)
Extra virgin olive oil ( for drizzling on top of onions if baking)
1/2 tablespoon Onion powder
1/4 tablespoon garlic powder
To taste: salt, pepper

Notes: I prefer to use low sodium french green beans. Fresh green beans can be used if you prefer. When preparing the onion topping, you can either deep fry or bake the onions. I will discuss baking them, but could also deep fry them in peanut oil instead. Sometimes my husband does this just prior to frying his turkey, if we are preparing one. This recipe primarily uses smoked Gouda cheese, but I do like to add a small topping of Cheddar at the end because it melts well and helps make the dish look finished. It also helps keep the onions on top. Basically, smoked Gouda is what makes this dish taste amazing, but cheddar had different melting properties, so it makes a better topping.

First shred the smoked gouda cheese. I use most of a block and I have never measured it. Maybe 3 or 4 cups. I know its more than two cups. In my opinion, you can never have enough cheese.

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Onion Crisp Directions:

Mix almond flour, gluten free flour mix, and cornmeal in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice onion 3/4 of large onion into 1/8 inch slices.  Set aside remaining onion for casserole. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Toss in flour mixture.

Remove coated onions to an oiled cookie sheet. Spread evenly and drizzle with oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes and then flip and bake until brown on both sides. Total cook time will be 20 to 30 minutes.

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Casserole Directions:

Open 4 cans of green beans and rinse them well. Once drain add the beans to a large bowl. Add 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce and toss beans to evenly distribute.

Dice remaining onion. In a large saucepan melt the butter and then add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Cover and periodically stir. Add chicken stock as needed to prevent burning, add flavor, and help facilitate the cooking process. I normally only add enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep adding stock until cooking is finished. Cook until mushrooms are tender and then keep cooking uncovered until the liquid has cooked away.

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Add cream and cream cheese and cook on low for 5 or 10 minutes. Then add pepper and a teaspoon or so of cornstarch. Cook a few morn minutes until thickened. Add a handfull of Gouda cheese and stir until melted.

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Add cream sauce to beans and stir well. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Spray non-stick spray into a 9×13 casserole dish and then add half the bean mixture. Top with a layer if Gouda cheese. Repeat with remaining bean mixture.

Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove and top with cheddar cheese and onion crisps. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

[Insert picture of finished casserole … Oops we ate it before I rembered to take a picture]

Pancakes are normally not in my job description

This morning I decided to try something new for Genevieve’s breakfast. She normally has scrambled eggs or peanut butter toast (side note: she said “peanut butter”, yesterday!).

I wanted something that wasn’t messy and was easy, healthy, and would allow me to incorporate a vegetable or fruit. I was also hoping to find something that would either make a small quantity or make a moderate quantity and be something I could freeze for later.

It was also important, for this meal anyway, that I have all the ingredients already in my kitchen.

I decided to try this recipe for coconut flour banana pancakes by Dr. Frank Lipman. I found the recipe on Pintrest and it can be found here.

I cut off the recipe in half using the conversions (found here) shown in the Taste of Home article, “How to Cut Fown Recipes,” that I also found on Pintrest.

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I bought my coconut flour from Home goods. I like to shop there for new specialty foods because it gives me a chance to try new things without spending as much or wasting the time hunting them down online since there isn’t much available here.

Ingredients (halved recipe):
1 banana – mashed
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the real stuff – its just better)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Coconut oil (for cooking)

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Directions:
Beat eggs until frothy. Whip in mashed banana. Add in other ingredients until incoperated. Cook in non stick skillet or on griddle with coconut oil until done. Yields approx. 6 small pancakes.

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I’m terrible at making breakfast. I love to cook, but for some reason my breakfast foods never turn out as well as I would like. I almost always over cook or under cook pancakes. In this instance, I don’t know how much was me and how much was the ingredients. It seamed like they went from raw to really dark with no in between.

Genevieve didn’t notice that they were ugly though, she really seemed to like them. She ate one here at the house and Michael took a couple with them for the car and daycare. I refrigerated the last two for breakfast tomorrow.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop

Tonight I tried something new.  I created a gluten free Parmesan crusted pork chop (boneless).  It was super delicious, although I think the pork was a little tough for Genevieve (she normally loves meat, but wasnt a big fan tonight)!

I served this with Annie’s Gluten Free Mac and Cheese (the frozen kind) and sauteed zucchini.

I think the only thing I would change about this dish is that next time I will use a thinner pork chop.  The pork chops I bought were really thick and they were hard to cook on the stove without burning the breading.

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Recipe for Gluten Free Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop (boneless):

Ingredients:

Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs

4 Pork Chops

2 eggs – beaten

1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning

Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Pepper, and Salt to taste

Peanut Oil

 

Directions:

Put the breadcrumbs, cheese, and egg into separate bowls.  Add seasoning as desired to both sides of the meat and into the breadcrumbs. I added salt and pepper directly to the meat and added the garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning to the breadcrumbs. Dredge and press the meat into the cheese, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.  Make sure that during each step the meat is well covered.  Heat oil in a skillet and then fry the meat until brown and then flip.  Cook it until it reaches 160 degrees in the thickest portion of the meat.   Let cool and then serve.

Cheerios goes Gluten Free!

Cheerios (the plain variety) are one of my all time favorite foods and since going to a gluten free diet, I have sorely missed them.  I was thrilled when I found out earlier this year that Cheerios were becoming gluten free starting in July and I have been stalking the cereal aisle waiting for the new gluten free version to arrive.

On Sunday September 13th, I was trilled to find a box of gluten free Cheerios on the shelf at Target!  I celebrated my new discovery with 2 bowls of Cheerios for dinner.

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Note: at this time not all boxes of Cheerios are gluten free.  The boxes that are gluten free are clearly labeled.  I mention this because on the same shelf as my new box of gluten free Cheerios, there were several boxes of the original kind still in stock.

Fried Cabbage with Sausage

We love fried cabbage so much that it is part of our regular menu.  I hope you love it too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Head Purple Cabbage
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 pkg Smoked Sausage (we prefer Simple Truth)
  • Chicken stock
  • A few  Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Core and chop the cabbage.  Separate the sections.
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Saute the onion, garlic, and the bacon for a few minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage and toss with the onion, garlic, and bacon.
  5. Cook until cabbage starts to soften.
  6. Slice sausage and add to the skillet, tossing it with the cabbage mixture.  Cook for a 10 or 15 minutes.
  7. Add chicken stock (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and cover.  
  8. Stir occasionally and cook until desired softness.  (we like ours very soft). Add more chicken stock as needed.