Wednesday, June 25, 2014

GAPS-Friendly Mint Chocolate Bars

This is a bit of work, but oh, so worth it.  The first time I made this, I thought to myself never again!  But after one bite, I knew this recipe was a keeper!  It was a great success with our friends, and I'm sure you'll love it, too!

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted or softened
1/3-1/2 cup honey
1 Tb homemade vanilla
2 eggs or 4 egg whites

1 cup coconut oil
4 Tb honey
1/4 cup water or coconut milk
10 drops peppermint essential oil or 1/4 tsp peppermint extract

2/3 cup coconut milk
3-4 oz chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (see below for recipe)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 8" square pan.
Whisk dry base ingredients together in small bowl.
In medium bowl, cream almond butter & coconut oil together.  Gradually  mix in honey and then the vanilla and eggs.  Mix in the dry ingredients thoroughly.  Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes.  Let it cool completely.

While cooling, cream the coconut oil and honey together.  Slowly mix in the peppermint and the water or coconut milk.  Use electric hand mixer if necessary.  Spread over cooled base layer.

For the chocolate topping, heat the coconut milk until it simmers, then pour over chopped chocolate in heat-proof bowl.  Let it set for 2 minutes then whisk the two together.  Let it cool until it thickens.  If it doesn't thicken enough, mix in 2 Tbs coconut flour.  Spread over the mint layer.  Refrigerate bars.

adapted from the Paleo Chocolate Lovers' Cookbook by Kelly V. Brozyna

In double boiler (or heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt 6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (roughly chopped) and 2 Tb cocoa butter. Stir over low-med heat until melted.  Remove from heat and add 2 more oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, roughly chopped.  Stir until melted.  Once melted thoroughly, mix in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 cup raw organic honey.  Spread out on parchment paper and refrigerate until firm.   Break up into pieces and store in refrigerator.  Makes great candy or can be used in recipes, as above.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Get the 411, Not the 911

Essential oils had been calling to me, and I kept saying, "Wait a bit.  I'm not ready."  I had felt that I was overwhelmed with life --  with the tyranny of the urgent.   You see, years ago, a friend told me she was using essential oils, and she gave me a sample.  I enjoyed the oil, but as I usually do, I got online and began to research the company before getting involved.  I was appalled to see the overwhelming number of websites dedicated to the poor reputation of that company and its founder, so I waited.  I knew it was inevitable that I would come across a more excellent company later, and that gave me an excuse to keep waiting and not researching.

I am happy that I finally took the plunge last November and began using pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.  I began slowly, with an oil blend of Blue Tansy, Frankincense, Ho Wood, and Spruce, and within two weeks I was off of my DHEA (adrenal hormone).  This was a huge event for me, since I had been unsuccessfully attempting to wean off of the DHEA for eight years!

I am learning what a tremendous resource essential oils are, and how they are nature's "pharmacy" for us.  I'm hooked!  Most recently, I had a severe allergic reaction to a spider bite.  That brought about the worst itching I have ever experienced, and nothing (not even hydrocortisone cream) would dull the itching except Frankincense and lavender oils, diluted with fractionated coconut oil.

Looking forward to the rest of this journey!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

GAPS-Friendly Rich and Creamy Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup coconut oil
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3-1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
pinch sea salt

Place butter, coconut oil, and chocolate in heat-proof bowl such as Pyrex.  Place bowl on pot of simmering water.  Bowl should be large enough to not fall completely into the pot.  Melt ingredients while stirring over medium heat.

When all ingredients are thoroughly melted and blended well, remove bowl from pot.  Stir in honey (adjust to taste), salt, and coconut flour.  

In the pot, replace the simmering water with cold water and a couple of handfuls of ice cubes.  Place the Pyrex bowl in the pot of ice water.  Just the bottom of the Pyrex bowl should be in the ice water. Keep mixing the frosting with hand-held electric mixer until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy

Dr. Peter Gotzsche is an M.D., but first and foremost he is a researcher.  His method is to evaluate the scientific research that has been completed by others and subject it to tough scrutiny, analyzing the scientific approach and methods used in that research.  One often wonders why the "latest scientific studies" can both prove and disprove the same hypothesis.  If we are to believe Dr. Gotzsche, it is due to the fact that faulty scientific methods, personal bias, political interference, financial gain, and notoriety all have the potential to influence the outcomes of those studies.  Known as a statistics "Ninja", Dr. Gotzsche brings all the facts down to one criterion:  did the researchers use the proper scientific method?

Dr. Gotzsche analyzed the research that was done on the efficacy of mammography.  Does mammography indeed save lives?  If so, then to what extent?  He examined the top studies done worldwide and found that all the major studies which "prove" mammography is beneficial have failed miserably in their application of the scientific method.  Those studies which used the scientific method appropriately all showed that mammography is harmful to the majority of women.  That's an over-simplification of many chapters of explanation in his book, but unless you have a medical or scientific background (and statistics would help, too), you may struggle to keep awake for long sections of the book.

Mammography is harmful? How can that be so?  Why have we been led to believe that we women are all going to die if we don't get our annual screening?  The answer, which is complex, is also addressed in the pages of this lengthy tome.  Many doctors and practitioners truly believe they are being helpful -- after all, they are just prescribing what they have been taught.  Once the word went out that mammography would save lives, they began recommending it to their patients without question.  We, the patients, "took our medicine" and had our annual mammograms (also without question).

This brings me to my biggest concern:  informed consent.  We have, at least in the United States, gotten to the point in which patients are made to fear the dreaded consequences of refusing any treatment, but they are not also informed of the risks of the treatment and the possibility that they may not even need that treatment.  Let me use my example.  I began getting mammograms when I was about 35 years old.  Due to my lumpiness, I got a mammogram almost every year since then, and many times I had to get two complete sets.  By the time I was fifty, I had had about 20 mammograms.  NO practitioner ever suggested that mammography radiation may be harmful.  Then one year I had calcifications show up on mammography.  That led to a second set of films (again). That led to ultrasound, which led to a needle punch biopsy, which led to surgery, which led to me being told I had cancer and needed radiation and drug therapy.  Okay, let's back up a bit.  At first glance, one would think that I am a poster child for how mammography saves lives.  After all, I'm going to show up on the statistics as a patient who was saved thanks to the screening process.  This is because the studies on the efficacy of the screening process look at the ten-year survival rate.  Will I still be alive in ten years?  Yes.  That sounds wonderful, but the studies which are used to promote the efficacy of mammography are neither looking at the overall mortality rate for breast cancer patients, nor the number of women who die from the treatment of breast cancer.

What Dr. Gotzsche concludes is that I was over-diagnosed and over-treated.  My diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) is a "cancer" that rarely becomes malignant and rarely causes death.  So I would have been alive in ten years whether or not this "cancer" had been found.   Yet in this time of "crisis", I was led through one procedure after another, with the urgency of compliance drilled into me.  When I received this diagnosis, I began my research and was prepared for my appointments with the specialists.  I asked the breast cancer specialist if it was true that this "cancer" is rarely invasive.  She agreed that it was true.  So why, I wonder, did all of the "specialists" keep that bit of information quiet during my procedures?  Why hadn’t I been informed?  Then, when I saw the radiation oncologist, I dared to ask if it's possible that the twenty mammograms I had already had could have caused my cancer, and he agreed that it was highly probable.  Again, why hadn’t I been informed of that risk?  Another tightly kept secret is that there has been no overall decrease in the number of advanced breast cancers since the widespread use of mammography.  If mammography catches cancers in the early stages, then there should be a significant drop in late stage cancer diagnosis, but there isn’t. There is much that we are not being told.   I am finding that the medical profession is very tight-lipped when it comes to informed consent.  It is possible that the fear of litigation for under-treatment has caused a shift toward over-treatment.

This is a highly emotional topic for thousands.  Every one of us knows a woman who has had malignant breast cancer.  It is a tragic diagnosis.  We need to keep our wits about us, though, and look at pure, unbiased science as to whether or not mammography is as widely beneficial for all women as we have been taught.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

GAPS-Friendly Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Wet Ingredients:
1 ½ cups packed shredded zucchini
5 large eggs, room temp
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 – ½ cup honey, warmed

Dry ingredients:
½ cup coconut flour (sifted)
¼ cup almond flour
½ cup cocoa powder (sifted)
1 tsp baking soda
 ¼ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°.   
Prepare one loaf pan by lining bottom with parchment paper and oiling sides with coconut oil.

Combine dry ingredients well & set aside.
In large bowl, combine wet ingredients & mix well.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients slowly while mixing with electric mixer.  Scrape sides of bowl & mix well.
Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for about 50 minutes.
Let bread cool for five minutes then loosen bread from sides of pan with knife.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

High altitude:  Preheat oven to 355°.  Bake bread for 10 minutes then decrease oven temp to 350° for remaining 40 minutes.

adapted from The Paleo Chocolate Lover's Cookbook by Kelly Brozyna

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GAPS-Friendly Paprika Chicken

12 chicken thighs, skinned
2 tsp paprika
¾ tsp Celtic sea salt
¾ tsp ground black pepper
¾ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard powder
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
Plain, unsweetened yogurt (about 1 ½ cups)

The key is to marinate the chicken ahead, so you’ll want to have this marinating for at least 12 hours but preferably for 2 days.

Mix all spices together.  Add yogurt and mix well.  Pour over skinned chicken thighs, coat well and cover.  Refrigerate.

When ready to cook, drain excess yogurt marinade from chicken.
Grill chicken until done.

Oven option:   roll marinated chicken in grated Parmesan cheese and place in oven-proof pan with several tsp of ghee dotted throughout the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until done – usually 60-75 minutes depending on the oven.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

GAPS-Friendly Refried Beans

2 cups Northern Beans – pick through & remove rocks and rotten beans
Soak overnight in clean water.
Next day:  drain and rinse beans.
Put in pressure cooker* with 5 ½ cups clean water, 1 Tb coarse sea salt, and 2 cloves crushed garlic.
Put on high fire until cooker starts hissing/spitting consistently.
Remove to back burner, midway between low &  medium, so that it hisses about 3-4 times a minute.
Cook 60-75 minutes.  Turn fire off and let cool.  The pressure cooker should cool down enough that its locking mechanism releases on its own.

Sauté  2 slices onion, chopped, in ghee until very soft.  Add beans (mostly drained) and:
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp ground cumin
1 3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp chili powder

Mash beans and mix well.  May add cheese if desired.  

HIGH ALTITUDE:  cook beans 75-90 minutes in pressure cooker.

*If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook beans, water, salt, and garlic on low for 2 or more hours until tender.