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Giveaway Time: The Zenbelly Cookbook

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UPDATE: Jessica L and Erica R are the winners! Congrats. I've emailed you both for mailing addresses.

I used to be one of those people that would head into the kitchen once a year to make a feast, often times burning at least one dish and putting a nice gash across some kind of appendage. Seriously folks, you have to practice at these things else it will always be an annual disaster! But now that I cook for our small family nearly every day, holiday meals and entertaining are not nearly as frightening as they used to be.

Plus, with all these great cookbooks around, I now have fun meal planning in advance! One cookbook I am turning to for this year's Thanksgiving feast is The Zenbelly Cookbook: An Epicurean's Guide to Paleo Cuisine. I have had this book in my possession for a number of months. And I have to say, it's like getting a private tutorial from a seasoned chef! Simone owns a catering business in San Francisco, will occasionally do pop-ups at local restaurants and she writes a food blog. Not once have I ever made a recipe that went south. She makes me look like a rockstar in the kitchen; her recipes are kitchen klutz (me) proof!

So just in time for all the holiday meal planning, I have a special gift for you! Two of you, that's right, two, can win a copy of The Zenbelly Cookbook by Simone Miller. All you have to do is click the button below to go to my sweepstakes page and signup for my email newsletter. If you want a chance for even more entries, there are additional options too! Sweepstakes opens Tuesday 11 November at 0900 PT and ends at noon PT on Tuesday 17 November 2014.

UPDATE: The two copies I have will now be *signed copies* - how cool is that?

Bonus Recipe: Rustic Apple Tartlets

Simone has graciously allowed me to post one of the incredible recipes in her book. If you are looking for a nice dessert for a holiday meal, but are not into the same ol pumkkin thang, then look no further to the Rustic Apple Tartlets! While this recipe is not AIP, its still a great addition to your holiday menu for your guests who are not AIP.

It has always been my understanding that the more difficult a pie crust is to work with, the better the end result will be. Consider that fair warning. It's certainly workable, but try not to get frustrated if it needs some patching while you work with it. Besides, the word rustic allows for certain amount of character! – Simone Miller

prep time: 30 minutes | cook time: 30 minutes | makes: 4 individual tartlets


3/4 pound apples (about 2), cut into half moon slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon coconut sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup arrowroot powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups almond flour
pinch of finely ground sea salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the coconut sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the arrowroot, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the almond flour, remaining 1/2 cup of arrowroot, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut sugar, and the salt. Cut the butter into small pats and cut it into the dough with a pastry cutter or two knives.
  4. Mix one of the eggs and the vanilla extract into the almond flour mixture. Keep mixing until it forms a dough.
  5. Divide the dough into four even sections. On a floured piece of parchment paper, press each section into a disc. Dust the discs and a rolling pin with arrowroot and roll them out into circles about 5 inches across.
  6. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of the discs. Slide the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet.
  7. Arrange a row of apple slices in the center of each disc, leaving a space around the outside large enough to fold up.
  8. Carefully fold up the sides of the discs around the outer edges of the apples. Using a flat metal spatula is helpful: Slide it under the dough and lift up and over the apples, leaving the center uncovered. Using your fingers, crease the dough together every couple of inches to enclose the apples.
  9. Brush the exposed apples with a little of the juice remaining in the bowl. Brush the crusts with the egg wash.
  10. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and the apples have softened.



Nose-To-Tail Adventures - Part 2

Last week, I covered our foray into Nose-To-Tail eating in the purchase of our first whole hog. We left that story with my friend Julie Kelly from Nourish Balance Thrive lending me moral support whilst we tackled the bits of the hog that weren't so common: The head and a huge pile of fat! I have to be honest, I was really squeamish about dealing with the head and seeing parts I could recognize from the cute piglet (okay he was an adult). 

Julie writes up the Part 2 to the story over on her blog Nourish Balance Thrive - go check out the details on our cornucopia of head cheese, luscious broth, home-rendered lard and lardons!



Giveaway Time: Paleo Foodie Cookbook

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Time for my first giveaway - a copy of The Paleo Foodie by Arsy Vartanian! I know there is at least one of you out there who wants to win a copy of this great cookbook! All you have to do is enter using the entry form below. Im leaving the sweepstakes open until 9am (Pacific Time) on Thursday the 16th of October.

UPDATE: Congratulations Julie M! You are the winner!! I have emailed you to collect your mailing address.

Friends and family often ask me where I learned how to cook such great food. And when mentioning to clients how I never used to cook, they too ask me how I picked up the skill. I wish I could say that I was born with the Chef Genius genetics, or that I was a Kitchen Wizard. But, the truth of the matter is there are some fantastic cookbooks out there for learning how to cook with real foods that make it all very easy. In the meantime, I have now become one of those cookbook junkies.  But all of my kitchen skills have come from these cookbooks and just practicing each day. Over time, my cooking skills have really improved! Just ask my husband. He has countless stories of nearly burning down the kitchen and ER visits! While common occurrences before, those days are very rare for me now. Thank goodness!

One of those great cookbooks I learned from is the Paleo Foodie Cookbook by my friend Arsy Vartanian of Rubies & Radishes fame. I have made many of the recipes out of Arsy's book (and her other one The Paleo Slow Cooker) and each one of them is delicious! I made her Osso Bucco this past week for guests and they raved about it all evening! Super yummy.

In the meantime, if you too want to look like a Kitchen Wizard or show off some of you Chef Genius genetics, Arsy is allowing me to reprint the Osso Buco recipe from Paleo Foodie. Sooo good!!

Image courtesy of Arsy Vartanian

Image courtesy of Arsy Vartanian

Osso Buco


There are many reasons to love osso buco, one being the delectable marrow in the center that adds a delicious richness to the sauce. What makes this dish for me, though, is the gremolata, a garnish typically made from chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. I love how the fresh flavors of the herbs brighten up a luscious meal.

Traditionally this dish is made with veal, but if you don’t have access to humanely raised veal, then beef shanks will work, too!

{Toréa's Note: To make this AIP friendly, leave out the pine nuts in the Gremolata and substitute the tomato paste with 2 T of fish sauce.}


1 cup/40 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp/20 g pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic or 1 large clove
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp/15 ml fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp/30 ml extra-virgin olive oil 
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp pepper

2 lbs/900 g veal shanks or beef shanks
sea salt and pepper
3 tbsp/43 g ghee
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tbsp/30 ml tomato paste (preferably from a jar)
1⁄2 cup/120 ml white wine
1 cup/235 ml Beef Broth 


To make the gremolata, combine all of the ingredients (parsley, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil) in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still chunky. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Generously season the veal with salt and pepper. Melt the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shanks and cook until browned on all sides. Set veal aside and add onion to the pan. Cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, carrots and celery and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, then add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the shanks back to the pan, along with the beef broth. Cover and simmer over low heat for 11⁄2 hours or until meat is tender, occasionally basting the shanks. To serve, arrange the shanks on dinner plates, spoon a generous amount of sauce from the pan over them, and sprinkle them with gremolata. 


Make this dish this week, and I promise you will want to enter my sweepstakes to win a copy for yourself. If you already have your own copy, enter anyway for a great holiday gift or send your friends over to enter to win a copy for themselves! If you enter, make sure to leave me a comment on why you would want Arsy's book



Healing Update: Fantasy vs. Reality

If there is one thing I have learned about my path of healing/managing my autoimmune disease, and in my functional nutrition studies, is that every. single. one. of us is unique in their healing path. You can watch all the health summits you want that talk about real food, nutrition, eating "squeaky clean", stress, hormones - you name it. But no matter how many of these summits you take in, things won't get real for you until you take action with your own body. This has certainly been true for me.

The other thing is, I seem to think in black and white sometimes. I have this fantasy that healing is going to be a straight line progression of improvement. You know, I went from 100% to 10% and then had a steady increase of health since my lowest point. Yet, in reality, my actual healing path has looked something more like this. I had a huge decline in health when I started getting really sick and then its been somewhat roller coaster-ish with a steady overall improvement over time. But there are plenty of peaks and valleys in there!

Graph courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Graph courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Let's rewind. 4 years ago, I was really sick and trying to hide it. And even though over the years, I had taken steps to work with naturopathic practitioners and MDs and do a lot of healing, I still never felt back to 100%. And yes, one of my MD's told me I will never again feel 100% and I refuse to believe that - (there is my bullheaded tenacity again!). But overall, I have been feeling great in comparison to how I felt 4 years ago! I still want that 100% though. Two steps forward...

...and a few steps back... Last fall, I did my first stool test to look for gut infections. Yeah, I know - there is NOTHING glamourous about stool tests, but I got over it. We found H. pylori (Heliobacter pylori for all you bio geeks out there). And while I didn't exhibit common symptoms associated with an H. pylori infection, we decided to treat anyway with a natural protocol. "Holy adverse reactions BatMan!" My body did not like this protocol one iota so I decided to stop and try again later. In the meantime, my front teeth had become very sensitive to temperature, and already carrying around some excessive weight, I quickly gained another 10 lbs (in ~ 2 weeks). Oh and my GI health was somewhat neurotic, alternating between chronic loose stool and constipation (not good on either account and the loose stool thing - yeah that was already going on for at least a year). I know, this is all very much TMI - but you know what? Its important to talk about these things because this can be the body's way of telling you, "Hey, everything is great, have a nice day!" or "Hey, buddy, listen up. Things are not all that great and we need to take different action here!".

Time to take action. So I signed up for Dr. Sara Gottfried's Detox - mainly because it was around New Year's Resolution time and I was so sick and tired of this excess weight. And while it worked for others in the program, it _did not_ work for me. BUT, I did learn some interesting things about my body. I learned that my morning blood sugar was erratic and needed some help. And I learned that my body does *not* do well on processed foods of any kind - no matter how "healthy", raw, grass-fed, fermented, etc it is - protein powders? Not my friend. 

However, I continued to slide. My adrenal fatigue days were back. Exhaustion was a constant theme, and recovery from mild exercise was hard to predict. Some days I needed 3 recovery days and others just one. Then I decided to sign up for a nutrition certification course, but one that included lab tests so that I could further investigate what was happening in my body.

Okay lets fast forward to this summer. During my FDN training, I learned a lot about gut health, what happens when people get leaky gut, and further, about gut infections that most people don't realize they even have. Suddenly it clicked. Back in the fall, I messed with my microbiome with the H. Pylori protocol. Then I messed with it again during Dr. Sara's Detox. Imagine the Theory Lightbulb flickering on above my head: "I bet you, that all this autoimmune stuff, the leaky gut and recent tweaking my microbiome has landed me with some infections that are not so obvious." This also corroborated with the fact that for the past few years, I cyclically felt like I was coming down with a cold or the flu every few weeks, but never would. So I elected to do more testing on my mucosal barrier and, yep, another stool test.

Giardia lamblia. CC Image courtesy of AJ Cann

Giardia lamblia. CC Image courtesy of AJ Cann

The results are in! Okay folks, brace yourselves. My mucosal barrier test confirmed leaky gut (wait, hadn't I already done a gut healing protocol? More on why that is in a future post.) and the two tests combined confirmed that not only do I have a bacterial dysbiosis (meaning I had nearly 2X as much aerobic bacteria than anaerobic when they should be closer to 1:1), I have a very healthy population of yeast or fungus (also not ideal), and Giardia lamblia, a well-known parasite! Phew - that was a lot of information from just two tests, but it certainly does point towards some of my more nagging symptoms and GI issues that I have not been able to solve. Plus, when your body is constantly fighting an infection, the last thing its going to worry about is weight normalization. So the clues were all fitting together, finally, into a whole picture puzzle. 

Progress continues: my new protocol is rocketing me several steps forward. Since June, I have begun the Autoimmune Paleo diet protocol (as outlined in The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballentyne PhD) to eliminate any foods that might be causing inflammation. I have also started a botanical protocol to go after my dear parasite, bacterial and fungus "friends". It's a long protocol (6 months) and I intend to eat AIP the entire way through to keep my immune system as strong as I can.

So here's the great news: Im seeing improvement  in the GI health area (slow, but its there), and I have dropped 8 lbs without trying. My fatigue has nearly gone away, at least its been in remission somewhat which is a huge improvement over this spring. And my recovery days are becoming more predictable or correlative with exercise/stress output. Overall, Im really starting to feel closer to that 100% from years ago.

And while this is still a work in progress, I think the key point here is to not give up. Continue investigating, continue doing your n=1 experiments on yourself to discover how you can maximize your health in every area possible. Just don't try tackling it all at once - thats a sheer case of overwhelm waiting to happen :)



Welcome to My "Book Club"

I love getting lost in a good bookstore! 'Course these days, its mostly on the iBook Store... but I digress.... While there are a ton of book clubs you can belong to, I find that I just go about my own way. Having never signed up for a Book Club, I still love to get ideas on what to read from others. So I thought I would share what I am currently reading. And, yep, Im one of those that reads a lot of books simultaneously!

Eat The Yolks by Liz Wolfe has got to be one of the best books available to learn about our food industry and health myths that have been so rampant for so long in our society. I just am loving the humor, but also the myth busting!

The Wahls Protocol by Dr Terry Wahls. I have written about Dr Whals before and posted links to her famous TEDx Talk. I think that her diet is top notch for anyone, not only those with MS or other Autoimmune diseases. I personally am following her Wahls Paleo Plus™ diet right now to see if I can make further enhancements to controlling my autoimmune disease. You can find out more about the Wahls Protocol and the research foundation here.

Sexy By Nature by Stefanie Ruper - this is a great book about body image, self confidence, healthy eating and the psychology of confidence. Im really enjoying this one. And if you want to get more of Stefani and her work, she has a great blog!

Naked Calories by Jayson and Mira Calton. Im learning a lot about micronutrients and why they are so important. Not to mention how easy it is in our modern world to have micronutrient deficiencies. It's likely a key contributor to why I accumulated heavy metal toxicity. Check out more of the Calton's work here.

Food for Humans by Henry Fong and Michelle Tam from the popular Nom Nom Paleo blog. I picked this book up in January and still cook from it on a weekly basis. I am loving it! Easy to make recipes and nothing has let me down yet!

Paleo Foodie Cookbook by Arsy Vartanian. Arsy is the author of the popular blog Rubies & Radishes and is a great chef to boot! Given my foodie tendencies, this book has been right up my alley!

American Gods and Anasazi Boys by Neil Gaiman. I am still a sci-fi girl at heart and I love a good set of fiction novels to offset my reading adventures. Neil never disappoints with is Novels and Im having a great time following this adventure that Shadow is on!

Well that is it for now. I will post another in the coming months to get you an idea of what I am reading and hopefully inspire some reading for you too!

If you have opinions about any of these titles and want to share, please do so in the comments below!