Disclaimer: I really have to tell you- I sorted out a lot writing this post. This is the crap I've been thinking about constantly for days and days and getting it down has been incredibly therapeutic. That said... unless you are going through auto-immune issues, you may cry from boredom. So, if AIP isn't your thing, just scroll down and take note of the incredible crackers I made.
I'm so type A. I'm so black or white, this or that. I've been like this my whole life, and even though it's been many years since I realized this about myself and am able to (mostly) pinpoint when I might be in a negative zone of this personality trait, it still happens. Like constantly.
My moving toward an Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) diet has been no different. I was cool being 80/20 there for a bit, but once the new year hit, I thought I was ready for the next big step. And when I wasn't, it really... I guess it hurt my feelings? I felt like I was failing myself.
So, then the stress and anxiety over failing set in. Of course it did.
When it comes to auto-immune symptoms, mine are few compared to many. I battle with anxiety and depression, but have a generally good handle on it. (Thank you to my gym addiction and to Rhodiola.) I have the joint pain thing, but keeping nightshades- tomatoes mainly- out of my diet and Turmeric supplements in my diet seems to be key. There's my vitiligo... which thankfully has grown slowly over the past 11 years... and it's not super noticeable with my pale skin.
Nothing is out of control, and this is why I wanted so badly to commit to AIP because I don't want it to get out of control. Through reading, I am learning that many auto-immune women (where are the men?! I know they exist, but they don't write about it.) were like me- until they had children. And after giving birth, all hell broke loose. Interesting because it was only after having me that my mom's vitiligo spread like wild fire, although she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 16. Giving birth doesn't seem to be in my future, but it doesn't mean I couldn't experience more serious symptoms as I age because aging seems to be bringing additional mild symptoms.
When I realized I just wasn't ready, I spent a lot of time thinking. I know I'm willful. I know I can do things I decide to do, so it was perplexing. I don't have some great reason as to why I felt like I couldn't do it other than I really love some of the foods that aren't included in AIP. I love cooking and I love to eat. I love going to great restaurants and having new food experiences. I love the social aspect of food. Whatever reason, thinking of giving foods up was stressful and anxiety causing and that's really SO not the goal. If eating an AIP diet was going to cause me so much issue, wasn't it sort of counter-productive? I also found the more I read, the more caught up I got, and it just all ended up increasing my anxiety. I need to pull back a bit.
Maybe I can take baby steps, though? Or not. I don't know, but... here is a run down of the AIP no-no's that I am finding issue with and my thoughts for improvement.
1. Corn. I heart popcorn and tortilla chips and corn tortillas... When you eat gluten free, you get really close with corn. You kinda know it's wrong, but, you just can't help yourself. Corn is the bad boy you hate to love...
Fix- Cut out popcorn as a snack on a regular and put in "treat" category. Cut down on tortilla chips. I need to go from having a handful a few times a week to having a handful maybe once a week- and more importantly- be sure to only buy non-GMO. So long Frito Lay Cantina... you will be greatly missed. Green Mountain Gringo are really good, though. (ok, I'm sort of lying.)
2. Coffee. Holy Hell. I was all on board using coconut creamer and still keeping the coffee for a bit, but cutting down. Cutting down is going ok... but, eff coconut creamer (see #3). I can't lie to myself anymore, it's not half and half. Coffee as a morning ritual is also something that's important to me. Although I love tea and drink it daily, I really love having coffee in the morning.
Fix- Having one small cup of organic coffee per day with organic grass-fed half and half. One day a week I get a Starbucks treat- which is just an Americano, light water, with cream... but still. I know too much coffee whacks out my system.
3. Dairy. Half and half, ranch, and sour cream really, really get me. And cheese to an extent, but I leave it alone more easily than the other three. Sometimes.
Fix- Organic and grass fed as much as possible. My goal is to make my own Mayo and then my own ranch with coconut milk. That's on the list. One day. For now, I buy the cleanest ranch I can find and continue to cut it with homemade balsamic vinaigrette on my salads.
4. Nuts. Larabars, almond milk, almonds on my salads, almond meal and flour in gluten free baking, almond butter... need I go on? And then there are peanuts and cashews on curries...
Fix- I got nothin' on this right now. Moving on.
5. Eggs. I'm skeptical if I really even need to eliminate eggs because eggs make me feel really good when I eat them. I buy organic, local eggs hatched from free roaming happy hens. They're fantastic and have almost orange yolks that are delicious. The downside is that hens, when given the freedom to hatch as they'd like and to do their thing, don't always produce eggs. This means that sometimes you can't buy them.
6. Nightshades. Not a huge issue. I've cut back substantially when I made the connection to my joint pain and it's not been that hard. I seem to be okay with nightshades if I just have a few bites here and there. Tomatoes seem to bother me the most... and really hot peppers.
Fix- I've stopped making tomato based food and I don't eat nearly the amount of peppers I used to...
7. Alcohol. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a drink beside my computer at the moment. To give myself some credit, it's only because I opened a lovely craft cider (Potter's Sorachi Ace) on Friday, and if I don't finish it, it will go to waste. It's too expensive (and delicious) to go to waste.
Fix- As a general rule, I am limiting drinks to twice/week and no more than two drinks each time. This is an improvement, even if that is hard to believe. I went 10 days without a drink and I will admit- that was really difficult. Soda water with some lime or pomegranate juice is helpful though. For some reason, that really does work if it's a Friday night and I don't want to drink but I feel deserving. (Why do I feel I DESERVE a drink? hmmmm.)
8. Chocolate. So, sad, right?
Fix-Green and Black's Organic 85% Dark Chocolate... it's always been my favorite, so now it should be my only. (And maybe dipped in organic freshly ground peanut butter occasionally... the horror.)
9. Beans and Legumes. Not too much of an issue outside of hummus- also hitting a seed here with the tahini made from sesame seeds. But, I am not missing beans much and haven't had them in some time- outside of hummus. But, then there is lentil soup... with bacon and spinach and carrots...
10. Rice. I love rice chex. But, I can go without eating cereal pretty easily. Just once in awhile... once in awhile, I HAVE to have cereal- and not always with milk. I just like to snack on it. (I could add in gluten free certified oats/granola to the cereal issue too.) I also use rice chex for breading and binding. Rice crackers are pretty freaking great too. And I just like rice.
Fix- I don't have any ideas when it comes to just eating rice once in awhile or with cereal, but... I can learn about alternate binders and make my own crackers occasionally... which leads to...
Finally- a recipe! Thanks for sticking with me.
thepaleomom is a great site. She's super smart and has great recipes and ideas. I need to stop reading her articles on auto-immunity right now, but I am glad to know she is there when I am ready. I may or may not have wanted to strangle her when she said my body could think coffee is gluten, but, she means well.
These crackers are her recipe and you can find it here. She also talks at length about plantains in youtube video at the end of the post. I knew jack about plaintains, so that was helpful for me.
I've wanted to make these for awhile now, but the plantains I bought initially weren't green enough. So, then I had to let them sit for a week or so, and then I made her plaintain pancakes once they were super ripe. Each weekend I would look for green plantains, but they were never green enough.
At Whole Foods yesterday, I finally found GREEN plantains!
2 large GREEN plantains, peeled (see her video if you are like me and clueless about how to go about this.) It should produce 2 cups once pureed. I thought mine looked like 2 cups, but I didn't measure it. She says give or take 1/4 cup and I really felt good about it.
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp salt (I thought, this is it? What about some garlic? Chives? Something? Nah. Doesn't need it. On. Point.)
Place the peeled plantains cut into chunks, along with the melted coconut oil and salt into a food processor. You will need to process it for a good 2 minutes, but stop it now and again to scrape the sides. When its enough, it should look like hummus. Ironically.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment and pour out the batter. Use a spatula to patiently spread it out to pretty much fill the sheet. Once you get it pretty good, you really have to have a light hand to spread it the rest of the way. It's sort of calming.
You bake it for 10 minutes on 300, then taken it out and score with pizza cutter. Back in. She says 50-55 minutes, but also that she's gone up to 70 minutes. I went a full 70 and then turned my broiler on high for about 3 minutes. They seemed really oily and I wasn't sure that was ok, but. They're fine. I pulled them out and got them onto a cooling rack pretty quickly.
The cooler they get, the crunchier they are. Crazy good. Really, you're going to love them and be super excited.
Although they are fabulous just on their own, I should probably let you know how well they pair with Cava Mezze Kalamata Hummus...
one step at a time, indeed.