How to Prepare for and Recover from a Colonoscopy (While on The Autoimmune Protocol)

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TSL Colonoscopy

So, if you’re of a delicate disposition, look away now.

Chicken!

No, seriously. Maybe you should read this one.

Because this one is about preparing for a colonoscopy, which is an important health procedure. While on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), no less. Although, this preparation could just as easily be for anyone having a colonoscopy who is concerned about what they eat. And, while it’s not for the squeamish, I promise I won’t get too down and dirty on you.

What is a colonoscopy, anyway?

Colonoscopy: A procedure allowing a Gastroenterologist to comprehensively examine your large intestine (colon). An endoscope equipped with a video camera is passed via the rectum through the full length of the colon. Biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken for pathology testing and polyps can also be removed during the procedure.

Many of us will experience the indignity of a colonoscopy at some point in our lives.

In Australia, bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer. It affects 1 in 12 Australians in their lifetime. And, New Zealand is no better. In fact, between them, New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. So chances are that you, or someone you know, will be affected in some way by the disease. In my family, it’s rampant. This is my third colonoscopy. And, I have yet to reach the standard screening age of 50.

And, if you have unidentified digestive complaints – common in many autoimmune diseases – a colonoscopy will often be scheduled to ‘check things out’.

See why a colonoscopy can be so important?

Frankly, the worst part of the colonoscopy isn’t the procedure. You’re sedated for that bit. No. The worst part is the 48 or so hours leading up to the procedure. The bit where you’re clearing out your colon so that it’s squeaky clean for the camera…

And this bit can be broken into 3 stages.

Stage 1: two days before your procedure. Otherwise known as the ‘You-know-it’s-coming-but-if-you’re-prepared-it-isn’t-so-bad-stage’

During this stage, you are limited to a low fibre diet. You know what has lots of fibre? Vegetables. So, this is almost the antithesis of what you normally eat on the Autoimmune Protocol. Forget about filling your plate with greens today.

In bright RED letters on your patient information form, you are instructed to avoid brown bread, high fibre cereals yellow cheese… all good so far. But then also – vegetables, fruit, any food containing seeds or nuts.

You are also instructed to drink at least 12 glasses of water or clear apple juice.

The following foods are some examples of recommended foods for stage I:

  • corn flakes
  • white bread or toast with margarine and Vegemite
  • tinned fruit without the skin
  • white bread sandwiches with chicken, beef, fish, eggs or white cheese
  • Ginger ale
  • White pasta
  • Plain biscuits or sponge cake

Stage II: the day before your procedure Also known as ‘The-stage-where-you-are-housebound’. Really.

You are instructed to eat no solid foods and no dairy products. You may consume clear fluids only. Things like Bonox or Gatorade are encouraged. As is yellow or orange diet jelly. Oh goody!

And then the real fun begins. PicoPrep fun.

TSL PicoPrep

PicoPrep Fun…
(Image by TSL)

PicoPrep, also known as sodium picosulfate, is a powder dissolved into liquid and taken orally that produces a watery bowel motion that empties and cleanses your bowel prior to examination. It causes you to frequently and urgently make a mad dash to your bathroom. In my family, we call it ‘squirt juice’. I probably don’t need to say any more about it except that when I went to purchase my PicoPrep for this procedure, the pharmacist asked me if I needed any super-soft loo paper and Sorbolene

This is the worst stage of the procedure. By far.

Stage III: the day of your procedure. ‘Sleepy-Time’.

Assuming your procedure is in the morning, and frankly – the earlier the better, after enjoying a hearty breakfast of… well, nothing. Not even any water. And, of course, having a slightly tender nether region from all those trips to the loo. Then, today is pretty painless, really.

Your nearest and dearest drives you to the surgery rooms where you check in. If you’re lucky, your health insurance will cover the procedure. You’re then directed to a cubicle where you strip off and pop yourself into a hospital gown and lie down on a gurney until it’s time for your procedure. You’ll be asked about your preparation process. The anaesthetist will come and have a wee chat. And then, you’ll be wheeled into the theatre. You’ll be asked to count backwards from 10…. and, before you realise it, you’ll be waking up in your cubicle again.

Simples!

Unfortunately, I can’t make the PicoPrep part of your procedure any easier. I wish I could. I REALLY wish I could.

What I can do, is help you a little with sticking as closely to the AIP while undergoing the process. Here’s what I do…

Low fibre food is the go in the lead up to your procedure. And, any seasoned AIPer knows that preparation is e v e r y t h i n g. So I plan ahead.

I poach a whole chook – I buy a pasture raised chook, cover it with water and throw in a few bay leaves, before bringing it to the boil. I reduce it to a simmer and walk away for 90 minutes. The cooked chook is removed from it’s broth and set aside to cool sufficiently to handle. Once cool, I’ll remove the meat from the bones, saving both separately.

That poached chicken is the foundation of my stage I eating plan.

I make bone broth from the leftover chook bones – If I’m sufficiently organised, I’ll have extra chook carcasses in the freezer. They’ll go into the pressure cooker with the leftover bones from my poached chook. I follow Simone from Zenbelly’s instructions on making pressure cooker bone broth, but if you’d like to make it conventionally, here’s a post on how to make bone broth.

That chicken bone broth is the foundation of my stage II eating plan. (If you can call consuming liquids eating.)

I also hard boil some happy eggs – I’ve successfully reintroduced eggs. They are not part of the initial elimination plan. If you tolerate eggs, hard-boiled are just about the easiest, most portable way to get a high protein snack. Pop a few room temperature eggs into a saucepan. Cover them with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Easy!

I stew some peaches – you’re ‘allowed’ tinned peaches as part of your low fibre diet day. I can’t remember eating tinned peaches as an adult. I remember we used to have them on summer holidays as a kid. They are definitely a comfort food for me.

Of course, so much better if, rather than commercially produced peaches in syrup with extra sugar, you stew your own. It’s easy and much better for you.

TSL Stewed Peaches

I made a LOT of stewed peaches…!
(Image by TSL)

Small segue – ever since reading Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side, I always opt for white peaches over yellow if I can.

White-fleshed peaches and nectarines have twice as many bionutrients as yellow-fleshed varieties. (Jo Robinson, ‘Eating on the Wild Side’)

To make my stewed peaches (admittedly not the prettiest dish I have ever made), I must first remove the skins. No skins allowed on a low fibre diet. I simply score a cross in the bottom of each of my peaches with a knife. I drop each peach into a pot of simmering water for about a minute. I pull them out with tongs and set aside until cool enough to handle. The skins will peel away easily. The peaches are then chopped, stones removed, before being popped back into the empty pot with a little water and brought to a simmer until soft. They taste remarkably good!

I also splash out and buy some organic, clear apple juice – and I drink it with water. Half and half. It’s my wee splurge to get over the boredom of straight water and broth, and reward to myself for going through this awfulness that is the PicoPrep.

And, that’s about it for the cooking preparation.

For me, the focus is on maintaining my whole-food diet, to the limited extent that I can, and at the same time not compromising on the preparation for the procedure. I don’t want to have to do it all again!

The REAL work comes after the procedure…

The nature of a colonoscopy is such that your colon is cleaned out good and proper. And, it seems we are learning more every day about just how important all that bacteria in your gut actually is.

So, I aim to repopulate my gut as quickly and efficiently as I can. Here’s what I’m doing this time around:

  • continuing to up my bone broth consumption
  • eating more nutrient dense offal
  • ensuring fermented veggies  feature at every meal
  • getting outside in direct sunlight every day
  • walking barefoot in the grass
  • sleeping
  • taking a good broad-spectrum multi-strain probiotic

Have I left anything out? Are there any other steps you take to ensure your body bounces back from a colonoscopy? I’d love to hear…

CRACKING Cauliflower Tortillas

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TSL Cauliflower Tortilla

I wrote an edible cookbook. The pages are made out of tortillas. It’s also the Book of Love. (Batteries and hot sauce sold separately.) -Jarod Kintz, ‘Love quotes for the ages. Specifically ages 18-81′

I’m a wee bit addicted to the Linga Longa pork neck I pick up from the Eveleigh farmers markets. It’s a fantastic cut of meat, tastes out of this world and is so easy to prepare.

It’s actually a toss-up whether my slow cooked pork neck or four-hour lamb recipe is LM’s absolute favourite. Either way, we seem to rotate them week-about here at Casa TSL.

And, Greg (the Mr Linga Longa farmer, himself) knows just how much I love his pork. His is the first stall I head to every week at the markets. And, Bella loves him, too (possibly because he’s always generous with a bone or three for her).

This week, we picked up 2.6 kilos of lovely pork neck. And, the best thing is that when I make that much slow cooked pork over the weekend, I know I’ve got enough protein for several meals.

TSL Linga Longa Pork Neck

2.6 kilos of porky goodness ready to go into the oven!
(Image by TSL)

If I’m feeling lazy, we’ll just have the shredded pork over a big jumble of roasted vegetables with some apple sauce and fermented veggies. For a low effort meal, it’s pretty fine…!

But sometimes, a girl feels like experimenting. And, with LM out and about for much of this weekend past, I thought I’d try something new this week.

Enter the Cauliflower Tortilla!

Shredded pork lends itself to being rolled or sandwiched into your carbohydrate of choice. Think pulled pork sliders or Mexican tortillas…

Only, when you are on a restricted diet – grain-free, even – that just ain’t going to happen.

Until now…

TSL Cauliflower Tortilla

Cauliflower Tortillas TSL-Sty;e…
(Image by LM for TSL)

Inspired by the likes of Joshua Weissman of Slim Palate fame, and Lauren Geertsen over at the very informative Empowered Sustenance, I had my first attempt at making cauliflower tortillas. And, let me tell you, it definitely won’t be the last time I make them. O for Oarsome!

People ask me all the time, ‘What keeps you up at night?’ And I say, ‘Spicy Mexican food, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attacks. – Dutch Ruppersberger

I filled our tortillas with my slow-cooked pork neck, some red onion and some smashed avocado with just a squeeze of fresh lime juice. But, I reckon I could have done a slightly more anglo-style tortilla with slow cooked lamb and a little sheeps-milk yoghurt (and perhaps some fresh mint instead of the coriander), too…

Cracking Cauliflower Tortillas

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: ? hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TSL Cauliflower Tortilla

Ingredients:

1 x cauliflower
3 eggs
A handful of fresh, chopped coriander (cilantro)
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat your oven to 190°C/ 375°F.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Wash, core and chop up your cauliflower into small florets. Throw it into your food processor and pulse until super-fine. Think smaller than rice kernels. It will take a little stopping and starting…

3. Bring a cup of water to boil in a medium-sized pot. Add your super-fine cauliflower, pop on the lid and simmer for 6 minutes (until cooked)

4. Drain your cooked cauliflower in a sieve. Allow to cool for ten minutes. Once cool enough to handle, pop it into a clean tea towel. Squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can.

5. Whisk your eggs in a clean bowl. Add your drained cauliflower, chopped coriander and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

6. Take your mixture and spread as evenly as possible into 8 circles onto your baking trays – four on each.

7. Pop into the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully flip your tortillas, rotate the trays and  pop them back into the oven for a further 8 – 10 minutes.

8. Cool on a wire rack.

9. When you’re ready to load your tortillas, heat a frying sized pan over medium heat. One or two at a time, pop the tortillas into the pan. Brown each side and serve.

E N J O Y !

 

Make Cooking Your (Next) Hobby

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TSL Make Cooking Your Hobby

If you want to get healthy, make cooking your(next) hobby!

I’m going to get mildly provocative for a moment and just put it out there that I believe you need to cook if you want to get really healthy. And, the corollary of that is, of course, that this will involve spending time in your kitchen. Unless you have as much money as Oprah, and have your own personal chef.

I have discussed this belief of mine on more than one occasion with The Paleo PI, most recently at our last Autoimmune Protocol Picnic. I quite like talking with PI. He’s male, and I’m not. He lives in a different city to me. And, there’s almost 20 years between us. He almost always gives me a different perspective. And he happens to be a great guy…

PI reckons he’s not much of a cook. I think he’s a little on the modest side. He’s successfully cooked for me, after all.

And – like anything – cooking takes practise. The more you do it, the better you get. And, given I happen to have a few years on PI, I’ve had a little more time to practise!

I didn’t start really cooking until I turned 30. Until then, I just ate!

I’ve mentioned before that my Mum is a great cook. We ate very well as a family growing up. My Mum’s chicken liver pâté remains a firm favourite for all of us. My annual birthday meal request was always filet of beef with Mum’s béarnaise sauce, usually served with duck-fat roast potatoes and green beans. And, I am still mourning the fact that I will never experience one of her 100% homemade Christmas mince tarts again (made with the shortest of gluten-filled pastry). They are so, so, SO good!*

But me, I didn’t really start to cook until I turned about 30. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to eat. Still do! But, cooking wasn’t really my thing during my traveling 20’s. I was too busy to do much more than reheat.

And, reheating is not cooking.

Now, I can’t help but wonder if I had cooked more and eaten out less; if I had taken more notice of what I was choosing to put into my mouth; if I had been more mindful about my food choices, would I still have had the same autoimmune issues…?

I suspect the answer is: probably. It’s never that simple. But, it has definitely contributed.

TSL Ginger Tea

(Image from here)

I happen to quite like the actual craft of cooking. I definitely love eating good food. But, for me the real enjoyment is about the whole process – selecting the freshest seasonal and local produce at the markets, talking with the farmers (and sometimes the butchers) to understand where my meat comes from, learning about the nutrient density of the food I am ingesting, and the knowledge that the food I am preparing for those I love is doing them good.

And, occasionally, I like satisfying LM’s sweet tooth with a healthier version of traditional deserts and ice creams. And, in his case, this always means dairy free.

But, you don’t have to love cooking to make it your hobby.

You just need to want to make healthy choices. And, you can’t make healthy choices if you are always dining out or eating out of packets.

I dragged LM off to see That Sugar Film earlier in the week (I recommend the film!). Did you know that there is sugar added to approximately 80% of all products sold in an Australian supermarket? And that’s before we even start talking added preservatives, GMO foods, trans fats and other nasties.

TSL That Sugar Film

‘That Sugar Film’ Q & A at the Orpheum cinema
(Image by TSL)

Do yourself a favour and spend some (more) time in your kitchen this week.

Commit to it. If you’re not a cook, start slow. Start easy. Make some bone broth. Make a frittata. Make a Jamie Oliver Inspired Four Hour Lamb (If you leave off making the gravy, it only has 3 ingredients!)

Do you cook? Have you made cooking your hobby? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic!

*Maybe I’ll start working on a gluten-free version…?

The EASIEST Stew in the WORLD! (AIP Friendly)

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Easy Stew | This Sydney Life

It’s officially autumn – or fall – in this corner of the world. And that means we can start thinking about warming food. Food like stews and casseroles! Slow cooked numbers that fill the house with comforting aromas as they work their magic over an afternoon in the oven. My favourite kinds of food…

This number is 100% AIP compliant.

Not even a drop of wine in this baby. Traditionally, a good hearty stew will have a healthy dose of red wine. And, technically that is allowed on the protocol – the alcohol will be cooked off.

But this recipe doesn’t even have that. Mainly, because LM isn’t all that fond of alcohol. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, alcohol isn’t so fond of LM.

So, this is a tee-totalling stew, too!

Tea Totalling Stew | This Sydney Life

TSL’s Tee-totalling Stew…!
(Image by LM for TSL)

Stew’s so comforting on a rainy day.
(Dodie Smith, ‘I Capture the Castle’)

The best thing about a good stew is that it really is a doddle to make. Simply brown your meat, sauté some veggies, throw in some good quality bone broth or stock and some aromatics, pop it into your oven and walk away. Its that simple.

So simple that even a non-cook can make a great stew!

And, I know I’m always banging on about doubling a recipe or cooking once to eat twice or thrice, but I’m going to say it again. Especially here, when making a stew. Because as with a good Ragu Bolognese, it’s just as easy to cook a large portion of stew and freeze leftovers for those days you just don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen. So, to make your life SUPER easy, this recipe is enough to comfortably feed 6 already…

Easy Stew | This Sydney Life

Easy Stew with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Homemade Sauerkraut
(Image by LM for TSL)

This really is the easiest stew recipe. And, because it is so easy, it’s also a great one to experiment with. Feel like adding mushrooms? Or perhaps some parsnip? Maybe you don’t have rosemary handy and want to use a different herb? Or, you have some lamb in your meat locker instead of beef (in which case, can I suggest some mint?)… The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Go forth and make stew!

The Easiest Stew in the World

  • Servings: 6 generously
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy Stew | This Sydney Life

Ingredients:

1.5 kilos diced chuck steak/braising beef
1 1/2 x Tablespoons tapioca flour
fat of choice
3 x red onions. peeled and roughly chopped
4 x carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 x celery sticks, roughly chopped
5 x cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 x Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Zest of one orange
4 x sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt
800mls bone broth

Method:

1. Heat your oven to 180° C/ 350°F.

2. Coat your diced beef in tapioca flour. I find the best way to do this is to take a large plastic bag. Pop your meat and flour into the bag. Seal and roll it all around until the meat is covered.

3. Pop a heavy bottomed casserole dish over a medium-high heat (I use my le Creuset) and add a little fat. Brown your meat in batches, setting aside in a bowl as each batch is nicely caramelised.

4. When your meat is all browned and set aside, add a little more fat to the pan. Gently sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and orange zest until softened. Add the apple cider vinegar to the pan and give everything a good stir.

5. Add the bone broth and a good pinch of salt.

6. Bring to a gentle boil, pop on a lid and place into the oven for three hours.

7. The meat should now be meltingly tender! Check for seasoning before discarding the rosemary stalks.

8. Serve!

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable

Preoccupied With Parsley Oil…

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TSL Parsley Oil

(Image by LM for TSL)

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’. It was released in 1993. Yep – that’s 22 years ago! Which makes me officially old. At least, according to the teenager, it does.

Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental. (Annie in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’)

Well, that particular movie has little to do with this recipe. Other than the fact that I was reminded of it when I was considering ‘Preoccupied with Parsley Oil’ as a title for this post!

This whole preoccupation with parsley oil came about thanks to one of the AIPers at our recent picnic. She made a comment about some of my recipes being ‘dinner party-worthy’. Which I was so chuffed about! I have always thought of myself as more a wholesome every-day kind of cook…

TSL Making Parsley Oil

The GREAT Parsley Oil Experiment
(Image by TSL)

To be honest, somehow the synapses just started firing in weird ways (does that happen to you?) and I started wondering about how I could make one of my world-famous-in-New-Zealand Root Vegetable Soup recipes into a slightly more dinner-party worthy meal without too much effort… We are fast approaching rugby season after all.

Of course, adding meatballs of any description to vegetable soup is a good way to make it more ‘hearty’. So that was a bit of a no-brainer.

But! – what if I garnished it with parsley oil? – wouldn’t that be kind of cool? And – how do you make parsley oil, anyway?

TSL Meatballs in Root Vegetable SOup

TSL ‘Anything Goes’ Meatballs in Root Vegetable Soup with Parsley Oil
(Image by LM for TSL)

That started me down a rabbit hole of experimenting with making parsley oil. And, you know what I discovered?

Making parsley oil is easy!

Et voilà! A dinner-party dish (at least for in front of the rugby!) was born.

Step 1: Take one recipe for awesome root vegetable soup – you could use this one or this one!

Step 2: Take one recipe for ‘Anything Goes’ Meatballs

Step 3: When ready to serve, garnish with parsley oil (recipe below!)

Parsley Oil

  • Time: you will need to start this the day before
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TSL Parsley oil

Ingredients:

2 x large bunches of fresh, organic flat leaf parsley
3/4 x cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method:

1. Bring a big pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Prepare an ice bath by emptying a tray of ice blocks into a large bowl of cold water.

2. Chop the stalks off your parsley. Don’t worry about being too precise. Throw the parsley into the boiling water for 15 seconds.

3. Drain into a colander and immediately plunge the parsley into the iced water bath (to stop the cooking process). When it is nice and cold, gently squeeze the parsley between a few sheets of paper towel to release as much of the moisture as possible.

4. Chop the parsley into approximate quarters. Pop two of the quarters into your high-speed blender. Add half the EVOO. Blend for two minutes. It will be the most amazing colour!

5. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the blender and then add another quarter of the parsley and half the remaining oil. Blend for two minutes. Repeat with the last of the parsley and oil.

6. Pour the parsley oil into a glass jar, screw on the lid and pop into the fridge.

7. The next day, secure a piece of cheesecloth firmly over a bowl. Pour the parsley oil onto the cheesecloth and allow it to work its magic for an hour.

8. Discard the cheesecloth. (Don’t be tempted to squeeze out the cloth – it will cloud your oil).

9. The oil will keep refrigerated for a few days. It freezes well.

E N J O Y !

TSL Bella the Poodle

Bella likes meatballs, too…
Ever hopeful
(Image by LM for TSL)

TSL’s ‘Anything Goes’ Meatballs (AIP Friendly)

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TSL Meatballs

(Image by LM for TSL)

One of the topics of conversation at the AIP picnic on Sunday was this: –

 What do you eat on the AIP when you can’t face cooking?

And, it’s a good question. It was mooted that perhaps there might be a ‘secret squirrel’  restaurant here in Sydney that could cater to one in the elimination phase of the AIP. Sadly, if there is, I have yet to find it.

My not-so-sexy answer for those nights you can’t face cooking is this: –

Have a secret stash in your freezer!

Anyone who is well versed in cooking for a special diet – autoimmune or otherwise – knows that the first step is preparation. In fact, preparation is likely the second and third step, as well. Preparation is e v e r y t h i n g !

Here at Casa TSL, I’m a massive (not just big, baby. MASSIVE!) believer in cooking once to eat twice, thrice or even more if I can get away with it. If you’re going to the trouble of preparing good, wholesome REAL food from scratch, do yourself a favour – double the recipe and freeze the extras.

And, one of the easiest, most economical staples to have in your secret freezer stash is meatballs.

Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear. (Lemony Snicket, ‘The Carnivorous Carnival’)

Meatballs are a bit of a wonder food. They’re portable. Kids love them. They’re versatile. And, this particular recipe can be amended to suit whatever you happen to have in your larder…

If you have lamb mince instead of beef or pork, then go with that. Fancy mint or coriander (cilantro) over parsley? – no problem! Prefer grated carrot or zucchini to silver-beet. Done! Only have spring onions (scallions)? That’s fine, too.

Here’s my stand-by freezer stash number for you:

TSL's 'Anything Goes' Meatballs (AIP Friendly)

  • Servings: approx. 38 balls
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TSL Anything Goes Meatballs

Ingredients:

450g x grass-fed beef mince (ground beef)
450g x happy pork mince (ground pork)
1 x small onion, peeled and chopped
1 x garlic clove
1 x generous handful flat leaf parsley
1/2 x cup chopped silver-beet/chard
1/2 x teaspoon salt
1 x Tablespoon fat

Method:

1. Throw all the ingredients except the meat into your food processor and give a good whizz until thoroughly minced and mixed.

2. Add your minced meat and mix again.

3. Using a Tablespoon as a measure, roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls and pop onto a plate.

4. Heat a large fry pan over a medium heat with your fat. Fry the meatballs in batches – about 5 minutes before turning and repeating.

5. Serve!

E N J O Y !

TSL Meatballs in Root Vegetable SOup

We served our TSL ‘Anything Goes’ Meatballs in Root Vegetable Soup with Parsley Oil
Parsley Oil Recipe coming in the next post!
(Image by LM for TSL)

How do you like your meatballs?

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable.

The Great Sydney AIP Picnic!

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The Three AIP Amigos

The Three Amigos
Rory from The Paleo PI
Jo (me!) from This Sydney Life
Kirstie from The Nutritionista
(Image by TSL)

What do you get when you mix ten followers of the Autoimmune Protocol with five kids and three puppies in the Sydney Botanical Gardens on a Sunday afternoon in March? – The inaugural Sydney ‘AIP Supper Club’ Picnic!

After the success of our first ever Australian AIP Supper Club shindig last November; Rory (from The Paleo PI), Kirstie (from The Nutritionista) and I thought it would be a great idea to extend our group to fellow AIPers in the general Sydney vicinity.

We had no idea what to expect, but we put the call out over social media to join the three of us for our first extended AIP Picnic (and crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t rain)…

AIP Picnic Invitation

The invitation…

What can I tell you?

We had a blast!

Such a great time! I’m not sure about you, but I reckon’ its a pretty big call to turn up for a picnic with a bunch of people you’ve never met, and may have only ‘seen’ on the internet.

So – to those of you who took the plunge and came along to the picnic, we say…

Thank you!

It was so wonderful to meet fellow AIP peeps and swap war stories with others who get it, over food you know you can actually eat without the worry of experiencing a flare.

TSL AIP Picnic

Picnicking AIP Style…
(Image by TSL)

Everybody brought a plate. And, we dined very well!

Kirstie’s AIP Celebration Chicken Salad rocked! Rory’s always popular Bacon Wrapped Dates made the trip up from Canberra with him. We had a lovely selection of meat balls, sweet potato and spinach patties and fruit.

Super special mention and a HUGE shout out must go to the lovely Alaena from Grazed and Enthused.  We had two recipes from Alaena’s fabulous blog featured at our picnic – Avocado Carob Fudge and Cranberry Relish Meatballs. Did you realise you’re so famous in Sydney, Alaena?

Wanna see what I took along…?

Cranberry Relish Meatballs

Cranberry Relish Meatballs
Recipe from Grazed and Enthused
Recommended by TSL!
(Image by LM for TSL)

AIP Gingerbread People

AIP Gingerbread People
Recipe by Tyler over at Primitive Homemaker
Also recommended by TSL
(Image by LM for TSL)

Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success. (Oscar Wilde)

It was heart warming to hear of the successes people are experiencing through implementing healthy and positive changes to their diets and lifestyles. And, for me, it reinforced that the choices I am making are definitely the right ones for my health.

TSL AIP Picnic

Some of the Sydney AIP Picnic Gang
(Image by TSL)

We’ll be holding another picnic and will keep you posted. Do feel free to leave a message if you’d like to be included in the next invitation mail out.

We’d love to see you there!

 

You Won’t Believe it’s TOMATO-FREE Ragu Bolognese (AIP-Friendly)

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TSL Tomato Free Ragu Bolognese

TSL Tomato-Free Ragu Bolognese
(Image by LM for TSL)

If kids can learn how to make a simple Bolognese sauce, they will never go hungry. It’s pretty easy to cook pasta, but a good sauce is way more useful. (Emeril Lagasse)

Until just over a year ago, when I started on this Autoimmune Protocol caper, I’d been trying to teach the teenager how to make a good Bolognese sauce for quite some time. I reckon’ everybody should have a good Bolognese recipe in their repertoire…

The thing is, a good Bolognese takes time to cook properly. Hours. And, the teenager likes food that is more immediate…

And then, I started the protocol. And my lovely BEST EVER Ragu Bolognese became naught but a memory. Because, a good Bolognese is traditionally made with tomatoes.

Until now

This week is all about Ragu Bolognese here at Casa TSL. And, my personal mission to create an AIP-friendly version of this winter staple. In other words, without tomatoes.

And, I’ve cracked it! In fact, LM says this even trumps the original tomato-based version. Bold words!

In addition to my beetroot and pumpkin-laden Tomato Passata Replacement, this number also has the added benefit of both bone broth and chicken livers. Not only does it taste great, but you can be sure you’re getting some good gut repairing bone broth and a big hit of vitamin A from the liver. It’s a great way to sneak some more liver into your diet if you’re a little funny about offal…

The thing about Bolognese is that, while it does take a long time to come to its full flavour potential, because you’re making a large amount, you have enough for a big crowd. In fact, once you portion it up and pop it in your freezer, there’s easily enough for eight to ten in this recipe.

And, with Bolognese in your freezer, you have a seriously good meal only minutes away.

Spaghetti is love. (Mario Batali)

TSL Tomato Free Ragu Bolognese and Zoodles

Tomato Free Ragu Bolognese on Zoodles
aka green spaghetti!
(Image by LM for TSL)

We served ours over oodles of zoodles (zucchini noodles) this week. But it could just as easily have been placed into lettuce cups with some avocado and coriander (cilantro). Or, served over lightly steamed veggies.

Tomato Free Ragu Bolognese

  • Servings: approx 8 - 10
  • Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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TSL Tomato Free Ragu Bolognese

Ingredients:

About 500g grass-fed Beef mince
About 500g happy pork or veal mince
Coconut oil (or fat of choice)
About 225g happy chicken livers
2 x medium onions (chopped)
4 x large cloves of garlic (minced)
About 150g speck (or pancetta), chopped
800mls of my tomato-free passata
500ml beef bone broth (preferably home-made!)
Fresh herbs of choice (basil, parsley or whatever you have to hand)
Salt & Pepper (omit pepper if in elimination stage of AIP)
Sea Vegetables (Optional, but so good for you! I use this one)

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 140°C/275°F
  2. Heat your largest frying pan over a medium heat. Add a generous dollop of coconut oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic until softened – about ten minutes. Give it a stir every now and then.
  3. Add the chopped speck to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large casserole (my beloved le Creuset holds just over 4 litres).
  4. Add some more coconut oil to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Add the minced beef in batches to brown. I use a wooden fork to break it up in the pan. Add the cooked mince to the casserole. Repeat until all your beef is browned.
  5. Do the same with the pork mince. While the pork mince is cooking, rinse the chicken livers and pat them dry  with a paper towel. Trim off any sinew and chop them into teeny-tiny pieces.
  6. Once the pork is browned and transferred to the casserole, heat a little more coconut oil and briefly brown the chicken livers. Add these to the casserole.
  7. Place the casserole over a direct medium heat and give everything a good stir. Add the tomato-free passata, bone broth and a generous seasoning of good salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the sea vegetables, if you are going to. Go on – dare you!. Stir again and allow to come to a simmer.
  8. Add the chopped leaves of about half a bunch of basil or parsley, stir and place the casserole in the oven (without a lid) for 3 1/2 hours. I give it a stir every hour or so. You should end up with a thick, unctuous meaty sauce with only a teeny bit of liquid.
  9. Check for seasoning and add the remaining half bunch of your herbs.
  10. When the sauce has cooled, divide it up. I use my scales and measure out 250g portions which serves two.

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable 

 

Tomato Passata Replacement (AIP-Friendly)

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TSL Tomato Free Passata

(Image by TSL)

I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it. (Mae West)

A while back, I wrote a wee piece on Autoimmunity and the Removal of Nightshades from Your Diet. I’m still ‘officially’ off nightshades. I use the inverted commas because I’ve discovered that white potatoes – in moderation, at least – seem to be ok for me; and, because I’m pretty sure I’ve inadvertently had the odd nightshade when I’ve been out for a meal.

Nightshades are pretty ubiquitous and most people have no idea what they actually are.

I’m not game to ‘officially’ reintroduce nightshades for two reasons. The first is that Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) sufferers (that’s me!) tend to be particularly sensitive to them; and second, a fellow HS comrade-in-arms recently suggested to me that, when it comes to nightshades, “the dose makes the poison”. So, I’m limiting my nightshade consumption to when I’m not so in control of the ingredients in recipes.

But I miss them. Tomatoes, in particular.

In my past life, I was a lover of ratatouille. In my opinion, the perfect veggie accompaniment. But full of eggplant, capsicum and tomatoes… ALL nightshades.

And, my go-to BEST EVER Ragu Bolognese, like most good Italian meat sauces, has a generous helping of tomatoes. I used to always have a stash of portion-sized ragu in my freezer. The perfect last-minute meal stand-by… But, since going nightshade-free that is no longer an option.

TSL Tomato Free Passata

(Image by TSL)

At home, I make a large batch of tomato sauce and freeze it in meal-size portions in freezer bags. (Joe Bastianich)

Well, I’ve decided that I won’t be held prisoner to my tomato-free existence any more. I want to have ragu back in my freezer again – for those nights I just can’t face cooking.

So today, I bring you my tomato passata replacement. This is the jar of goodness that you use when a recipe calls for tinned tomatoes. It’s 100% AIP-friendly. It tastes good and it’s good for you.

This recipe makes a generous amount of passata replacement. One of the biggest challenges on the autoimmune protocol is the need to plan ahead – so, with this recipe, you’ll have extra left over that you can pop into your freezer for the next time a recipe calls for tomatoes, passata or otherwise.

And, it works beautifully with my revised AIP-Friendly, You Won’t Believe Its Tomato-Free Ragu Bolognese.

This baby is made with roasted beetroot and pumpkin. The roasting really brings out the flavour of the vegetables. And, then we add fresh herbs to make the whole thing sing…

Tomato Passata Alternative (AIP Friendly

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Time: 90 minutes minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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TSL Tomato Free Passata

Ingredients:

500g x beetroot (about 3 generous-sized beets)
500g x pumpkin (about 1/3 medium-sized pumpkin)
1 x onion
2 x Tablespoons fat + extra for drizzling (I used coconut oil)
1 x generous handful flat leaf parsley
1 x generous handful fresh basil
2 x cloves garlic
500mls x water
Salt

Method:

1. Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F.

2. Slice off any beetroot leaves and give the beets a good scrub under water with a brush. Wrap them individually in foil. Pop into a roasting dish.

3. Slice the pumpkin into two. Drizzle with a little fat. Add to the roasting dish.

4. Roast until cooked – about 60 minutes. I check every 20 minutes and test with a sharp knife.

5. Let the beetroot and pumpkin cool on the bench. Once cool enough to handle, peel the beets (I use plastic gloves to prevent my hands from staining) and remove the pumpkin skin.

6. Peel and finely dice your onion. In a large-ish pot, heat your fat over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and sauté gently until translucent.

7. While the onion is cooking, pop your beetroot, pumpkin, parsley, basil and garlic into the bowl of your food processor. Blend thoroughly until smooth.

8. Add your pureed vegetables to the sautéed onions. Stir.

9. Add water and stir until smooth. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

10. Check for seasoning and salt to your taste.

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable

 

What’s the Deal with Coffee…?

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TSL What is the deal with coffee?

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my coffee.

I really love it. I even wrote about how much I love it back in October of last year when I finally successfully reintroduced coffee back into my diet.

After nine e n t i r e months off the black gold, no less…

At the time I was drinking it with my BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer. Now, I have one cup a day with some good quality runny cream. I am a happy girl.

It is sublime!

But, here’s the thing. Coffee affects people in different ways.

Even the very knowledgable Chris Kresser says he considers “coffee to be a gray-area food, and by that I mean that the scientific research suggests that it’s beneficial when it’s well tolerated by the individual, but it’s not always well tolerated.”

And, people are often a little confused about this. So, today we’re looking at just what the deal is with coffee.

I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake. (Lewis Black)

The good:

* Coffee is a known stimulant. In the brain, it apparently blocks the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called adenosine. By blocking adenosine, caffeine actually increases activity in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This makes us feel more alert.

*Caffeine can boost metabolism

*Coffee contains a pretty reasonable amount of several vitamins and minerals. It is also the biggest source of antioxidants in the standard diet. To be fair, this possibly says more about the state of the standard diet than the health benefits of coffee.

*It smells good. It tastes good. It makes you feel good!

The bad:

*When you consume coffee, your cortisol levels rise, along with other stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine. This increase can last anything up to six hours. That’s a lot. These chemicals increase your body’s heart rate, blood pressure and tension levels – that ‘fight or flight’ response. Given the increasingly stressful lives we now lead, increasing ‘fight or flight’ reactions can be a big problem. Excessive cortisol production can lead to a variety of health issues, including an overactive immune system, disrupted sleep, impaired digestion, and depression.

*Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can cause problems in some people and disrupt sleep.

*Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, think first thing in the morning, stimulates hydrochloric acid production. This can be a problem because HCl should only be produced to digest meals. If your body has to make HCl more often in response to regular cups of coffee, it may have difficulty producing enough to deal with a large meal.

TSL Coffee Beans

Black Gold!
(Image from here)

Sarah Ballantyne, my go-to girl on all things autoimmune related, is in agreement with Chris Kresser with regard to individual differences in our ability to deal with coffee. She says, “Those people with autoimmune diseases should take special care with consumption of coffee as their systems are particularly sensitive to irritants and they have a much higher likelihood of an immune response to coffee (because they have a much higher likelihood of gluten intolerance and food sensitivities in general). Overall, coffee gets the “proceed with caution” label.”

So, after a nine-month hiatus from drinking coffee while attempting to heal my poor ailing gut and kick this HS problem to the side-line, I will continue to drink my morning coffee. Because I love it and I don’t seem to experience any particular negative effects from one cup. But, I will limit it to one. And, I’ll keep a weather eye out…

What do you think about coffee?