Bone Broth Pressure Cooker Recipe

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This is easy-peasy and good to do once a week when you are home for a few hours. I promise, the health benefits are well worth it!

  • 1 KG – 2 kgs of bones (as much as can fit in your pressure cooker). You can use any bones, and you can mix it up if you want. Make sure you are getting the best quality you can (I opt for grass fed where possible) I also usually try to use Marrow bones but any are good.
  • 2 onions
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 3 carrots & 4 celery stalks (If necessary can make without, Or any other ‘hard’ / similar veggies you may have in your cupboard – I often use leeks or Spring Onions)
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt (Or Sea Salt)
  • Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Cut up veggies into large / rough pieces
  • Throw into pressure cooker.
  • Add bones
  • Add vinegar, slt & pepper
  • Stir a little so everything mixes up
  • Cover imgredients with (Filtered if possible) Water
  • Turn pressure cooker onto low setting for a minimum of 3 hours, but if you are at home and can do longer, do 4-6.
  • Once finished and cooling down if your Bone broth isn’t turning a gorgeous gelatinous texture, you can pop it back on simmer with the lid off to get rid of some of the water / to concentrate it a little.
  • Store in containers in the fridge (if you are going to consumer it within a week) and once cold, you can choose if you want to scrape the fat layer off (and store separately to use as cooking lard), or keep it on for a ‘fattier’ flavor. If you want to store for longer, once you have decided on whether you want to keep or remove the fat you can freeze. Just remember to freeze in the amount of batches you will want to take out at a time. I.e. Store in an ice cube tray for instant healthy stock when needed for cooking.

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I read a great tip here a while ago was that you can reuse bones if they don’t look like they have fully broken down. Just refrigerate / freeze until the next time you make it.

I’ve also been known to use the veggies / meat in stews etc or could be blended up to make super-baby food! (as you can see I try not to waste)

Happy Brothing!

Autoimmune Disease Becomes Me?

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While reading a really insightful and seemingly unrelated book (We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert A. Johnson) I came across the following poem that really resonated with me when it comes to my health.

From all ills mine differs;

It pleasures me; I rejoice in it;

My illness is what I want

And my pain is my health!

I don’t see, then, of what I complain,

For my illness comes to me of my own will;

It is my own wish that becomes my ill,

But I find so much pleasure in wishing thus

That I suffer agreeable,

And so much joy within my pain

That I am sick with delight

Chrétien de Troyes

To be clear, I’m not saying that I enjoy having, or wish to have my autoimmune disease. Well not exactly. But I am saying that I’ve realized I am in a complicated relationship with my health.

This is something I have been mulling over for while; living with a chronic illness can be really confusing. Identity-crisis confusing. I was diagnosed with Graves disease when I was 19, so I’ve been living with it for pretty much my whole adult life. The thing with these types of diseases is that they are just kind of there in the background in some ways– they sure aren’t as bad as they ‘could have been’ comparatively, and you find yourself on one hand counting your lucky stars but at the same time, you feel hyper frustrated and singled out. Why me? You still continue to live functionally, hold down a job, go to uni etc etc. However in other ways, you find it all consuming. You become so self-aware in a physical sense ‘feeling’ changes to your body. At times you become angered at your body for letting you down. I know I caught myself actively thinking about my body attacking itself on the inside and feeling scared and repulsed. With endless doctors appointments and blood tests and pill taking, needless to say you spend a lot of your focus and energy battling something with the aim of getting better.

I guess what really shocked me in my ‘war’ against disease, was that I didn’t realize how much being sick actually became a part of my identity.

It wasn’t until I actually went into remission 4 years after my diagnosis, (when I should have been relieved that I had finally kicked those antibodies out of my system), that I realized I was actually somewhat deflated and almost disappointed. On top of this, I also felt guilty for feeling disappointed. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. But perhaps therein lies the problem? You never actually prepare yourself for getting the good news. You’re always preparing for the bad.

 

photo-1475155000329-a5679839c452Image by Christian Gertenbach

Remission is (well, was) a weird thing. You feel like you’re on eggshells to be completely honest. I found myself looking for the tiniest signs that it was back. I was so used to filling out ‘graves disease’ on forms where they ask if you had any medical conditions and it felt like both literal AND figurative emptiness when I left the box blank.

But alas, remission didn’t last long for me. In actual time, that equaled about 1 year. And in some ways, it’s actually a relief to be out of remission. Sometimes in the deepest darkest parts of my soul, I wonder – do I really (really really?) want the disease to go away?

Part of the ongoing challenge / opportunity is that disease weirdly becomes your hobby. You research it, and you start to live and breathe the research and the lessons you learn. I’ve learnt so much about my body and my mind beyond the illness, but I have the illness to thank for all of it – for disrupting my status quo.

For me, Chronic Disease and My Identity sometimes get a little grey. It’s been an ongoing challenge and I’m trying to find the right place for where my disease (or hopefully one day my budding non-disease health), belongs.

xx

Bec

11 Ways To Heal Your Gut

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I’m currently focused on a gut healing protocol again because, well, I’ve realized it is a much slower and more involved process than I initially thought. And if I’m being honest, the fact that my symptoms and blood work hasn’t massively improved over the past year and I still have a high level of antibodies – it’s pretty indicative in my mind that my digestion still needs work because as I’ve stated earlier, leaky gut is one of the main causes of Autoimmune disease.

A quick precursor – As always, I’m doing this under my doctor’s supervision and I recommend that anyone dealing with an autoimmune disease find a holistic nutritionist and / or a functional doctor to work with to help with your approach and dosages. Ok, supervision rant over.

No grains. Period. Gluten is one of the worst things for damaging your stomach lining. I’ve written about the havoc Gluten causes here. Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions holding your intestines together. Research is beginning to show that some other grains like maize could also have a similar effect. Either way, grains are harder for our bodies to digest, so when you are healing I think it’s best to avoid. Sugars and processed dairy can also contribute because of their high acidity and ability to raise bad gut bacteria.

Aloe Vera Juice. Aloe Vera Juice has many amazing trace minerals and vitamins in it that help to heal and repair the gut. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help an inflamed digestive tract and also helps soothe and relax the tract, helping with reflux. Aloe Vera has antibacterial and Anti-viral properties and is a prebiotic as well so it can help to remove bad bacterial overgrowth that might be contributing to the damaged GI tract.

Bone Broth: Bone Broth is literally a wonder drink for overall health, especially gut health. Dr Axe’s great article details the benefits, but to excerpt a few here: “It contains healing compounds like collagen, proline, gelatine, glycine and glutamine. Studies show that gelatin is beneficial for restoring strength of the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities (such as to wheat or dairy), helping with the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut, and supporting healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract.”

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Gelatin: I add Great Lakes Gelatin to my diet as much as I can. I’ve created the following delicious Paleo Panna Cotta breakfast / dessert recipe just to find another way to include Gelatin into my day. A few other yummy ways

Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral for maintaining intestinal wall integrity.  Supplementing with Zinc can tighten gut permeability. Zinc is essential for growth and healing for cells with a rapid turnover, like the cells of the small intestine.

Licorice Root: To quote Dr Axe again ‘Licorice Root is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum’. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress.

L-Glutamine:  L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. Unlike many of the other amino acids, it is unique, because it is the primary fuel used by the cells in your gut lining, so they eat it up and repair themselves!

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Enzymes: Digestive enzymes are essential because they help break down food particles so they do not physically irritate the gut lining or activate the immune system. By breaking the food down, enzymes are also helping to extract individual vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients so the body can use them as the raw materials it needs.

HCI tablets or Apple Cider Vinegar taken before meals: HCI or Apple Cider Vinegar helps to boost Hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach, which again is critical to digestion and breaking down food. This is a new fact to me: People with hypothyroidism like yours truly, often have low hydrochloric acid levels due to underactive hormones and that will absolutely affect digestion. This is a no brainer – help to ensure you are properly digesting your food whilst promoting healing.

Eat your Protein: The gut barrier needs good protein to heal. Protein’s amino acids are the building blocks of your body! 

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Lowering Stress: To paraphrase Dr Hedberg,‘The most important thing, probably just as important as the physical aspect of healing, is managing stress. A lot of people have leaky gut because their stress levels are causing havoc’. Cortisol is a stress hormone, which I have talked about previously, and it eats away at the intestinal barrier. It’s all about R&R people!

These steps can be done in any order, or built upon as you master one. It’s always good to introduce steps in the way that suits you and will ensure that you stick with it, so don’t overwhelm your body or your budget or your routine. Do what makes you comfortable. That said, I’m an ‘all-in’ kinda gal so you’ll find me taking a concoction of pills with my breakfast that looks like this:

I’d love to hear from anyone who has been focusing on Gut Healing and if they have been trying any of these steps, or any others! Email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com.

Love to your guts.

Xx Bec

Our Magical Wedding Day

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I’ve been a little quiet on the posting front over the past few months. And this is why. I got married to my best friend and soul mate on July 26th, 2016, in Koh Samui, Thailand surrounded by 35 of our dearest friends and family.

It took a bit of planning around my full time (plus some) job and hence, blogging fell by the wayside for a little. Sorry!

I’m going to let the photos do the talking today (for once) and in a future post I’m going to talk about my advice for a healthy and stress-free wedding. Stay tuned.

Finally, I wanted to do a HUGE shoutout to Tristan from The Bow Wedding Photography who took our truly amazing photos. He is a wedding photography superstar! I’ve included an abbreviated version below but you can find his full play by play right over here. 

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I hope you enjoyed. Also, I’d love to hear from you about your wedding day or your wedding plans! Please comment below email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com

To your happily ever afters.

xx Bec

 

My unexpected brush with a little known eating disorder – Orthrexia

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Image by Lukas

A few years ago as a response to trying to course correct my health, I went through a phase where I became overly obsessed and strict with healthy eating, unwittingly dipping into a form of eating disorder I now know is called Orthrexia.

In part, I think this started after I began eating a vegetarian diet (well, pescetarian actually, but whose counting) and saw some health improvements. I actually even went into remission for a short time and I think mistakenly I attributed this solely to the diet. To be honest I don’t even think it was true ‘remission’. I think it was just that my thyroid levels were killed enough from the suppression drugs I was on, that they didn’t have to treat me with them anymore. I still had antibodies but traditional medicine looks only at the symptom levels as a diagnosis. I digress – probably another article for another day…

After I was re-diagnosed (or my thyroid levels went lower than healthy and I was officially diagnosed with Hashimotos), I was disheartened and I latched onto what I thought fixed the problem before. I was already well on my way to eliminating gluten, and next I started quitting sugar. Eventually I was eating pretty close to paleo, minus the meat.

I’m not going to stand here and state that much of the above is theoretically wrong. In fact, I truly believe from my research that a paleo diet is the best thing you can do for an autoimmune disease (more on that here). The problem was that I slowly slipped into an obsessive state, where I fretted on everything that entered my mouth. I was hard to eat with and I had friends and family sort of tip-toe-ing around my diet. It was at the point where I would only eat a paleo cake for my birthday! Not only was I obsessing about the quality of what I ate, but due to the ongoing sensitivity I’ve had around my post-sickness weight, I was obsessing over the quantity as well. I was pretty restrictive at times, but I found it impossible not to give into my sweet tooth – I was finding any way I could to get my dessert paleo style.

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Orthorexia isn’t very well known and honestly I believe because of this, I didn’t realize I had a problem, despite my friends and family making comments about my obsessiveness – I felt they just didn’t understand I was doing this for my health!

What made me truly have the realization I needed was this article by Jordan Younger that I came across. She writes “During my recovery process, I learned that the “superhuman willpower” I’d exercised for so long is a typical eating-disorder warning sign. I was trying to control my life through food”.

These words were the clincher for me. Control. Superhuman Willpower. This was what was making me feel good about my diet and my health. I have experienced many moments since my Graves Disease diagnosis where I feel hopeless and out of control of my own body. Food was the one thing I felt I could control when it came to my health. It was definitely my perfectionism trait taking over again. But it wasn’t working. My skin was terrible, my periods were all over the place, and my antibodies and thyroid levels weren’t getting better. In fact, they were getting worse. I realize now that my Orthrexia was actually causing additional stress on my digestion and my body causing more harm than good.

I’ve had to go through a full mental undoing process with my diet where under the guidance of my amazing nutritionist, I actually reintroduced meat back into my diet, and had to eat more than I would have liked (6 meals a day) and purposefully allow myself to ‘splurge’ outside of my strict ways. For me, I consciously made sure that 20% of meals weren’t strictly ‘healthy’. I also focused on eating mindfully and saying affirmations while I eat. Affirmations like ‘This food nourishes me and makes my body healthy’, or ‘I allow myself to enjoy this blissful food’. I found that positive body affirmations and meeting my amazing fiancé  helped as it all comes back to self-esteem.

But I’m not going to lie – I continue to struggle with this from time to time, as for me it can be a very fine line between eating a clean, and not obsessing over it.

I’d love to hear if anyone else struggles with or has struggled with Orthrexia as part of their health journey and how they have overcome it. Feel free to email me at bec@anautoimmuneapproach.com or comment below.

Paleo Lasagna

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I’m always trying to find new (paleo-ish) ways to enjoy recipies I used to love before my AI diagnosis and learning all I now know about nutritition. Lasagna is fragrant & warming – perfect for colder nights or when you just feel like an Italian feast!

Ingredients

Bolognese:

  • 2 cloves Garlic diced or
  • 1 Brown Onion diced
  • 150 grams / ¼ Pound Mushrooms diced
  • 1 Pound / 500gms Ground beef
  • 1 can Puréed Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 5 cups Wine and/or Beef Bone Broth
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Herbs (I use a little nutmeg, Oregano & Basil)
  • A dash of Apple Cider Vinegar (Optional)
  • Chili to taste

‘Pasta’

  • 1.5 pounds thinly sliced Eggplant and / or Thinly sliced zucchini – cut the veggies length ways

White Sauce:

  • 2 cups Coconut Milk
  • 1/5 cup Arrowroot powder (This is the thickener. You could use Corn flour as well)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Yeast flakes

Method:

Preheat 180C / 350F oven. Heat pan and add 1 tbsp coconut oil or oil of choice. Add Onions & Garlic and sauté until transparent. Add mushrooms & meat, and sauté until the meat is brown. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste, and wine / broth, salt, pepper & herbs. Simmer for a while until it’s reduced (Min 20 mins, but can be done up until an hour for tastier sauce). Add vinegar & chili approx 10 mins before you finish simmering.

While the Bolognese is thickening, prepare the ‘pasta’ veggies. Wash and cut the Eggplant & Zucchini thinly – Try for thinner than 0.5 cm or 1/4 an inch. You could also use a mandolin for best results. Make sure you cut long ways. Place on a lined baking tray and bake in the 180 C oven for 10 mins.

While the ‘Pasta’ are baking and the Bolognese is still reducing, you can make the white sauce. Add arrowroot flower to a saucepan. Slowly add a tiny bit of the coconut milk to make a thick paste. Add to heat over gentle / low stove. Slowly add the remainder of the milk, whilst whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Add the salt and pepper and yeast. Stir occasionally whilst heating –but don’t let it get too hot to boil. Eventually this should be a thick consistency. Once this is thick enough, take off the head and let it cool slightly.

You can also cut the ‘pasta’ veggies thinly whilst – Try for thinner than 1 cm. You could also use a mandolin as well. Make sure you cut long ways. .

You’re now ready to assemble! Line or lightly oil the bottom of the lasagna tray. Place veggies at the bottom of your lasagna baking tray, I make sure they are overlaying each other like pasta sheets. Over this, add Bolognese sauce, then another layer of veggies. Follow that with the white sauce, another layer of Bolognese, then veggies then top with white sauce. Finally I top mine with some tomatoes and sprinkle with yeast and salt & pepper. Bake for 30 mins in 180 degrees until the top browns.

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Slice and Enjoy!

 

Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease + An Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Latte Recipe

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photo-1449149988769-3e30c0e9d61eImage by Francisco

I’ve talked about the effects of chronic systemic inflammation on autoimmune diseases briefly here and here, but I believe it’s one of the most important topics when it comes to autoimmune disease so I wanted to do a special post specifically covering inflammation.

To begin, I thought I would quickly detail why your body needs inflammation. If you hurt yourself, your body swells. This process of acute inflammation is your immune system’s way of rushing to the scene of the injury to make sure that pathogens don’t get & ensuring repair by literally ‘localising’ the damage. Inflammation is a vital for normal immune and repair processes to occur in the body.

But it’s when the inflammation is not controlled where problems begin.

Chronic Systemic Inflammation is your body’s immune response to stress and bad diet. When your body’s cortisol levels are raised or pathogens are getting in via a Leaky Gut, it produces inflammation to counterbalance this cortisol or pathogen. And once inflammation is active, it is highly self-perpetuating. Especially when the root cause isn’t going away.

Inflammation contributes to autoimmune disease as the self perpetuating elements (cytokines and chemokines) summon more and more destructive immune system fighters — cells like T cells — to the area, amplifying the inflammatory response and eventually causing an immune response.

Dr Hyman sums it up perfectly: “Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.”

Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that if you have an autoimmune disease, you have chronic inflammation. But how to you treat inflammation? The good news is you can test for chronic inflammation via a blood test to note where you are. A few tests to ask your doctor about are:

  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate

Then there’s diet. Reducing inflammatory foods like Gluten, sugar and trans fats is critical. Adding anti-inflammatory foods like ‘good’ Omega 3 fats, fruits and vegetables will also help. Antioxidants are known to reduce the cell damage caused by inflammation.

Turmeric is another great ingredient that helps to curb inflammation because it contains the chemical curcumin, which fights inflammation at the molecular level.

I try to sprinkle turmeric on pretty much every savoury meal I eat (but remember to add black pepper too to help activate!) but finding new (and sweet!) ways to have turmeric is exciting, so I thought I would share a Turmeric Latte Recipe below. You can enjoy as an afternoon Pick-Me-Up or alternate to coffee!

Turmeric Latte Recipe

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp sweetener (Rice Malt Syrup or Stevia etc). Add more or less depending on how sweet you want it.
  • Pinch black pepper (to activate the Turmeric)

Method:

  • Heat the milk over the stove. I froth my milk to make it feel like a true latte. If you have access to a milk frother / foam maker. I would recommend doing this whilst heating.
  • Place all other ingredients into the cup
  • Once the milk is heated enough, pour a little into the ingredient mix and stir so it becomes a thick paste. This will help to ensure it’s mixed well with no
  • Once the paste is well mixed, you can slowly pour the remainder of the milk in whilst stirring.

Enjoy!