Step One

A month ago, Dave and I embarked on a 21 Day Sugar Detox. Yeah, yeah, buzzword buzzword blegh. It was the best decision I have made for myself in a long time. Based on the paleo diet, the 21DSD aims to change your relationship with food, heal your gut, and regulating your blood sugar levels.

What did I experience?

  • Decrease in fatigue/Increase in energy (YES. YES. YES.)
  • Decrease in both sugar and carb cravings
  • Less anxiety around meals and food intake
  • Increased mood

What did Dave experience?

  • An excitement for pizza rolls and beer come Day 22

All joking aside, this temporary life change sparked something inside of me that I had been grasping at for months: hope.

If my symptoms can decrease in as little as 3 weeks with this diet change, what would happen in a month? Two months? Let’s see!!

Step One is a dietary and nutrition overhaul. Over the next three weeks I plan to post my week meal plans, links to recipes, inspirations, and progress/pitfalls with round 2 of my 21DSD. SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW.

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The Meal Plan

The screen shot above is from the recipe planner RealPlans. I’ve been using this site for about a month and I. AM. IN. LOVE. You can add recipes, schedule prep days, order your grocery list BY STORE… I could go on. Go take a look. It’s worth it if you’re a planner like me. My prep day will be sunday, where I’ll be boiling eggs, prepping sausages, roasting veggies, and then heading out to our pool to enjoy the tail end of this heat wave.

Breakfasts (I’m carbing up here while also making sure to get a healthy fat and some protein):

1. 2 oz homemade breakfast sausage crumbles, 1 cup baked acorn squash, 1 tbs coconut butter, cinnamon

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2. 21DSD Green Apple Breakfast Sausage with Green Lemonade from Elena’s Pantry

3. 2 oz curry & cinnamon ground turkey crumbles with 1 cup butternut squash cooked in coconut oil

Lunches (quick, easy, tasty):

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  1. 2 hard boiled eggs, roasted veggies, and olives over spinach greens drizzled with olive oil
  2. 3 oz smoked salmon, 1/2 cucumber, and 1 tablespoon homemade dill mayo all wrapped up in nori sheets (I’ll be making this mayo by Jay’s Baking Me Crazy and adding my own fresh dill to taste)

Dinners (must be 21DSD-compliant, must satisfy Dave who is craving Italian this week, must be easy to prepare/cook in case I don’t have the energy and the cooking then falls to the boyfriend):

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  1. Easy Paleo Chicken Piccata with garlicky broccolini and asparagus
  2. Super Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs from I Wash You Dry
  3. 21DSD Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Capers & Bacon (YES YOU DID READ THAT CORRECTLY)

Extras:

  1. Kombucha – 8 oz /day
  2. 21DSD Green Apple & Coconut 2-Bite Treats from paleOMG

You’re Invited

I’ve cried and stomped my feet. I’ve been angry. I’ve been throwing a pity party for myself for over a year.

That’s not to say I didn’t deserve to throw a temper tantrum. I mean what would you do if you suddenly couldn’t walk up the stairs or go on a run or walk your dog or even go grocery shopping?

But that’s besides the point, isn’t it?

We all go through our own muck, as Jessica Flanigan would say (if you don’t immediately smile at the sound of her name, hold tight), and now I’m ready to start trudging my way out.

Here’s to a new year. May this year be full of learning: biology, emotion, anatomy, self-love, patience. May this year be full of growth. May this year be full of gigantic smiles and good food and puppy hugs and family and grace and appreciation for the beauty that my struggle has brought to my life. May this year be full of living.

From here on out this will not be a blog dedicated to food; it will be a blog dedicated to healing the body and mind, nourishing my health and soul, tasting love and life, and sharing the knowledge I can provide about natural healing.

I may be working through the hardest thing life has yet to throw at me but hang out and join me while I live my fullest year yet.

See you soon🙂

Winter Squash & Wilted Greens Enchilada Casserole

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Ingredients (Enchilada Sauce):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chipotle chile powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 – 14oz can tomato sauce, no salt added
1/2 cup water
salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Enchilada Sauce: In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and saute until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chile powders, cumin, and sugar, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen butternut squash, or 1 whole butternut squash, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 bags frozen chopped spinach (no sauce or flavorings added!!)
1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
9 corn tortillas, halved
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Heat oven to 425F. If using fresh butternut squash (if frozen skip this step): In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and salt, to taste. Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tender. In a large bowl, toss together the butternut squash, greens, and black beans. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

In a casserole dish, layer:

Thin layer of enchilada sauce
6 tortilla halves
Half of the veggie filling
1/3 of the cheese
1/2 of the remaining enchilada sauce
6 tortilla halves
The remaining veggie filling
1/2 of the remaining cheese
6 tortilla halves
The remaining enchilada sauce
The remaining cheese

Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tag me on instagram @she_bytes and let me know how your casserole was!

Yields: 6-8 servings
For 6 servings: 361 cals, 19g protein, 10g fat, 52g carbs, 10g sugar, 9g fiber
For 8 servings: 270 cals, 14g protein, 7g fat, 39g carbs, 7g sugar, 7g fiber

Vegan Fudge Pops

Materials:
food processor or blender
popsicle molds (I got these at Marshalls for about the same price!!)

Ingredients:
1 cup of your favorite brand unsweetened chocolate, vanilla, or plain milk (dairy or non-dairy)
5 tablespoons carob powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
5 pitted dates
1 avocado
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
Blend the milk and dates well in your food processor/blender, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into your molds and freeze overnight!

Tag me on instagram @she_bytes and let me know how your Vegan Fudge Pops were!

Yield: 6 Vegan Fudge Pops
Serving Size: 1 Fudge Pop
58 calories, 7g sugar, 1g fiber, 0g protein, 1g fat, 10g carbs

I Have Fibromyalgia

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…was something I said for the first time last Friday. I finally got a diagnosis from my neurologist, though we still need a rheumatologist to confirm it. I meet with my neurologist this Friday, in two short days, to discuss treatment and recovery.

I’m finding it hard to be happy. And I’m finding it hard to be sad. I have a diagnosis, but I have a diagnosis. I know what’s wrong and I get to start getting better, but I now have a life-long commitment to treating symptoms.

This is heavy. I’m not even 25 and I have a disease. A syndrome. A diagnosis. I’m sick, even though I don’t look it, and I always will be.

I can’t tell if I’d rather be visibly sick. If I were in a wheelchair then my disability would be obvious. I wouldn’t have to convince a friend that I can’t go upstairs and see the view of Philadelphia from their beautiful wooden deck lined with christmas lights- not because I don’t care, not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t.

If I were visibly sick then I wouldn’t feel guilty asking to work from home, or to be dropped off outside the restaurant to avoid the walk from the car, or telling friends and family that I have to stay in and rest.

But if I were visibly sick, I’d get the stares and the uncomfortable pity from coworkers and the sideways glances and the special treatment. I like the freedom of meeting new people and acting normal and not talking about the exhaustion that hits me hard every morning when I open my eyes.

But I have hope. I have hope that the treatment – whatever it will be – will get me to a normal place. There are people with FMS that run and hike and jump and drive and climb stairs and cook for their families and forget what tired is most of the time. I have hope that, in time, I’ll be one of those lucky ones.

Part II

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Its really not all sadness and depression. Actually, most days aren’t.

Every day I wake up tired, but most days I wake up smiling. I find things to be excited about. I scour pinterest for uplifting quotes. I spend time with people who don’t focus the conversation on my health. I meal plan and write down recipes for Dave to cook, outlining just how the onions should be chopped – because we both know only I can correctly cut an onion, don’t we honey? I store my weekly plan in a file called ‘Meal Plan for Gimpy’ on my google drive. I watch and re-watch Parks and Recreation episodes on netflix because my memory is so bad that every episode is hilarious every time, all over again.

I get upset over political debates and the fact that I can’t adopt every dog that I pass through on my facebook feed. I listen to Lana del Rey on repeat. I stress over taking vitamins and whether I floss enough and when I should buy my first car.

I take lavender epsom salt baths and get pedicures and manicures and call them ‘medicine’. I joke with coworkers about buying a super cool wheelchair with flames and tricked out wheels. I go to dinner with friends and order greasy garlicky amazing noodles. I read the cute happy notes that Dave leaves around the house for me. I color in my coloring book (I am not embarrassed, nor am I kidding). I cross stitch obscene quotes surrounded by hearts and flowers. I am genuinely happy.

There are days when I push myself too hard or too far and those days suck. I cry and feel bad for myself and write depressing blog posts. Those days are legitimate. Those days are terrible. But those days are few and far between and will those days will stay that way.

I miss me, but as a wise woman told me lately, I still am me.

Hiatus

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It’s been almost 5 months since I noticed symptoms, and I can promise you that I was symptomatic before I consciously noticed the changes in my body. I had trouble motivating myself to work out but blamed it on a terrible work ethic. Then, after it took me 4 days to recover from a 5k run this last April, I realized that something was off. The doctor visits started.

In the beginning, it was just annoying. My legs were heavy and stairs were harder than they should have been. Sometimes my legs shook when I stood for too long. I had stopped working out, but other than that life was pretty normal.

By July I was having weekly meltdowns in frustration over my exhausted legs. I wanted to cook. I wanted to clean. I wanted to work out. I hadn’t yet accepted that the couch was my best friend so I was pushing my body, daily, past the point of exhaustion. I went on vacation to Chicago and kept up the trend of down-playing the severity of my sickness. By day three I was walking with a severe limp on both legs, waddling like a duck and tripping on my feet. My back ached from taking on the task of lifting my legs – my thighs had atrophied to an unusable point.

My mother and sister recommended that I walk or try yoga or meditation, but it would take days to recover from a 10 minute stroll outside. I had an ultrasound on my legs, three MRIs, multiple blood panels, and nothing has come back abnormal enough for a diagnosis or treatment plan. My last appointment with my neurologist was in the beginning of August and he suggested I see a rheumatologist. That appointment is in November. November.

It is now halfway through September. I have aches and pains over my entire body: my neck, shoulders, arms, back, hips, knees, and ankles. I can commit to one social event per week. To get through a work day I have to prepare by staying on the couch the day before. I have accepted that I can’t cook the way I used to, let alone clean or work out. My boyfriend has taken up the task of chauffeuring me to and from work every day. We moved our bedroom downstairs to avoid the 13 steps that had turned into an intimidating mountain. I took a shower yesterday and my legs gave out 10 minutes in.

I miss my long runs and I cry for them. I miss walking my dog. I miss being able to take a shower and not need to rest afterwards. I miss running up the stairs and driving myself to work and cooking a meal for the people I love.

I miss having the energy to create fun and new recipes.

I miss me.

Perfect Probiotics

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Probiotics are awesome microscopic organisms that team up with the healthy bacteria in your body to prevent infection, fight off bad bacteria, treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and build and maintain a healthy immune system. Most of these cool little guys fit into one of two probiotic groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Within these two groups there are different species and strains that provide different benefits for different parts of your body, so by adding a variety of probiotics to your diet, you can start to build your own healthy internal army to fight off the bad guys!!

 

Where can you get your hands on some probiotic grub? Yogurt, miso, kombucha, kefir, sourdough, naturally fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles made without vinegar), and tempeh all contain the healthy bacteria we’re looking for. You can buy all of these at a farmer’s market or grocery store, but what could be more fun (or tasty!!) than making your own? I have 5 sweet recipes for you to get started with: kombucha soda, kombucha coffee (WHATTT!!), green machine sauerkraut, kickin’ kimchi, and homemade greek yogurt.

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Kombucha is a fermented drink made with tea (and, for us rule breakers/caffeine addicts, coffee), yeast, and bacteria and is unbelievably easy to brew on your own! You’ll need a SCOBY to begin: you can buy one here or take a look at an awesome tutorial by Steph at StupidEasyPaleo. Once you’ve got your SCOBY, you can use it again and again. Just store it with 1 cup of your last batch of kombucha.

Materials:
1 glass gallon jar
1 small tightly woven cloth or cheesecloth (you can also use a clean t-shirt square) or a coffee filter
1 rubber band (must fit tightly around the mouth of the jar)

Ingredients:
1 SCOBY
16 cups filtered water
1 cup white sugar
8 tea bags of your choice (any type of tea besides herbal tea will work!)

Directions:
Boil 8 cups of filtered water in a stock pot, add tea bags, and steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar. Let cool to room temperature, then pour into the glass jar. Add the SCOBY, cover the mouth of the jar with cloth, and wrap the rubber bad around tightly. Place in a dark space and leave it undisturbed for 8-16 days.

Add 8-10 fresh or frozen berries and sit for 2-3 more days before refrigerating to make your own kombucha soda!

**Please Note: It is extremely important when interacting with the SCOBY or starter or fermenting kombucha to keep your hands and all materials clean! Wash hands and bottle with vinegar or run materials through the dishwasher without soap. Killing good bacteria isn’t cool and inviting bad bacteria in is dangerous, so keep it clean!!

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Materials:
1 glass ½ gallon or gallon jar
1 small tightly woven cloth or cheesecloth (you can use a clean t-shirt square) or a coffee filter
1 rubber band (must fit tightly around the mouth of the jar)

Ingredients:
8 cups of freshly brewed, unflavored coffee
½ cup sugar
1 SCOBY

Directions:
If necessary, remove any grounds from the coffee. In a glass jar, dissolve the sugar into the hot coffee and allow to cool to room temperature. Add the SCOBY without the starter tea – your coffee is already acidic enough- and cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter or a layer or two of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Hide from direct sunlight for 8-16 days. Don’t nudge or pick up or bother your jar while the SCOBY is working or else your brew will not brew. Refrigerate and serve cold. If you heat your kombucha coffee, you’ll kill all those little probiotics that you helped grow. Also, don’t reuse your SCOBY for tea after using it for coffee!!

**Please Note: It is extremely important when interacting with the SCOBY or starter or fermenting kombucha to keep your hands and all materials clean! Wash hands and bottle with vinegar or run materials through the dishwasher without soap. Killing good bacteria isn’t cool and inviting bad bacteria in is dangerous, so keep it clean!!

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Materials:
1 quart-size mason jar

Ingredients:
1 green cabbage
1 bunch kale- stems removed- or 1 bag (6-8 cups) spinach, sliced thinly
2 green apples, grated
2-3 tablespoons coarse sea salt 

Directions:
Wash the cabbage well and remove any greying outer leaves. Peel off a healthy outer leaf and set aside. Halve the cabbage, remove the gnarly core, and slice thinly. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, kale or spinach, and apple. Add 2-3 tablespoons of salt and massage (I hope you’re ready for a workout!) until liquid begins pulling from the cabbage. You’ll be done when squeezing a handful of cabbage releases some liquid (brine) or when the volume of cabbage reduces by about half and the salt is completely dissolved in the brine/cabbage mixture.

Add two handfuls of the cabbage to the jar and pour in enough brine to just cover the mixture. With a wooden spoon, press down forcefully on the cabbage. Repeat until the bowl has been completely transferred to the jar. If the cabbage is not completely submerged in the brine, add filtered water to top it off. Keeping the cabbage submerged is very important and will keep bad bacteria from growing in your sauerkraut. Fold the reserved cabbage so that it just fits into the jar and push beneath the brine. Cap the jar and leave at room temperature for 4-6 days, burping the jar each day. If you need to, use a wooden spoon to press the cabbage down and release gas bubbles that are forming.

Taste-test each day, beginning with day 4, and refrigerate when the sauerkraut is acidic enough for you. Once cold, serve and enjoy!!

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Materials:
1 quart-size mason jar

Ingredients:
1 green or red cabbage
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced thin
1 bag of matchstick carrots, or 3 carrots, peeled and grated or julienned
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch knob of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
1 tsp fish sauce

Directions:
Wash the cabbage well and remove any greying outer leaves. Peel off a healthy outer leaf and set aside. Halve the cabbage, remove the gnarly core, and slice thinly. In a large bowl, combine cabbage and carrots. Add 2-3 tablespoons of salt and massage until liquid begins pulling from the cabbage. You’ll be done when squeezing a handful of cabbage releases some liquid (brine) or when the volume of cabbage reduces by about half and the salt is completely dissolved in the brine/cabbage mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well to combine. Add two handfuls of the mixture to the jar and pour in enough brine to just cover it. With a wooden spoon, press down forcefully on the cabbage. Repeat until the bowl has been completely transferred to the jar. If the cabbage is not completely submerged in the brine, add filtered water to top it off. Keeping the cabbage submerged is very important and will keep bad bacteria from growing in your kimchi. Fold the reserved cabbage so that it just fits into the jar and push beneath the brine. Cap the jar and leave at room temperature for 3-21 days, burping the jar every few days. If you need to, use a wooden spoon to press the kimchi down and release gas bubbles that are forming.

Taste-test each day, beginning with day 4, and refrigerate when the kimchi is acidic enough for you. Once cold, serve and enjoy!!

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Materials:
3 quart crock pot
2 bath towels

Ingredients:
8 cups whole milk
½ cup plain greek yogurt

Directions:
Add the milk to a crock pot and heat on low for 2 hours 45 minutes. Without removing the lid, turn the crock pot off and let cool for 3 hours. Remove about 1 cup of milk from the crock pot and whisk in the yogurt. This is your starter culture that will turn your milk to yogurt. Pour the starter back into the crock pot and whisk to combine. Re-lid, cover the crock pot with the bath towels, and let sit an additional 8-12 hours undisturbed.

You now have yogurt! Stir and refrigerate, or continue following the directions if you want greek yogurt.

Line a colander with cheese cloth and place the colander in a large bowl. Pour the contents of the crock pot into the colander and drain out most of the remaining liquid, also called whey. Stir until smooth, refrigerate and then serve! The whey will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator but your yogurt will only last a week, so dig in!

If you want to know more about probiotics, their effects, and how to include them in your diet, check out the following sites for more information:

American Gastroenterological Association

The Mayo Clinic

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Perfect Purple Pancakes

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I’m in love with these perfect purple pancakes! They take less than 15 minutes to whip up and cook, they taste amazing, and they’re clean, paleo, and best of all, healthy!!

Materials:
food processor or blender

Ingredients:
1 small purple sweet potato, cooked and quartered
2 eggs
1 tablespoon full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
optional topping: 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, microwaved

If your sweet potato is raw, no problem! Pierce with a fork and microwave for 6-8 minutes, turning once. If your sweet potato is not purple, no problem! Your pancakes will taste just as wonderful without a purple tint🙂

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Method
:
Preheat a pan to medium heat. Blend all ingredients well in the food processor/blender. Spray the pan with nonstick spray or melt a tablespoon of coconut oil (if you use this method, you’ll need to add the coconut oil to the nutritional information). Cook 3-5 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with warm berries for a filling breakfast!

Tag me on instagram @she_bytes and let me know how your Perfect Purple Pancakes were!

Yield: 3-5 pancakes
Serving Size: 1 batch
279 calories, 0g sugar, 2g fiber, 12g protein, 10g fat, 4g carbs
Serving Size: 1 batch with 1/2 cup berries
314 calories, 5g sugar, 4g fiber, 13g protein, 10g fat, 12g carbs