Time to Give it Up

Coffee that is.  I think it is keeping me from healing my body.


Coffee photo by my talented daughter Anna Clair


For the past month or so I’ve cut down to one glorious cup a day. The morning cup has become a ritual I will sorely miss. Over the past year my daughter, who works in a local upscale coffee shop, has been collecting coffee paraphernalia.  We have a burr coffee grinder, a chemex coffee carafe to brew the coffee, and a kitchen scale to weigh the water and the coffee. I’ve learned to make the perfect cup. And, since I know it will be my only cup of the day, I’ve savored each silky sip. I’ll read or just sit watching the sun rise out the bay window and with each sip pay attention to the slightly bitter slightly fruity taste, and then the feel of it slipping down my throat. By the time I’m done with my cup of coffee I’ll feel awake, alert and ready to start my day.

The problem comes when I start to want more. I’ll think oh maybe just an early afternoon cup too. Occasionally I’ll cave for that second cup of the day. Then there are times, even with just one cup, when I may feel a little jittery or queasy, or have a little intestinal discomfort. While I’ve been able to live with out eggs, and night shades, dairy, nuts, legumes and grains on the Auto Immune Protocol Paleo Diet, coffee has be my final hold out.

To reap the full benefits of this elimination phase it’s just gotta go.

Now I’ve quit coffee before and once I’m off it I usually experience less stomach upset, better sleep and less cravings for an afternoon jolt. The physical cravings leave rather quickly, it’s that lovely ritual of the morning, or the afternoon that eventually sings like the sirens to come back. So this time I’ll stock up on a variety of tea and may even try an herbal coffee so I can enjoy the ritual without the caffeine and other detrimental effects.

Why not just drink decaffeinated coffee?  The decaffeination process is just that a process which strips coffee of any of it’s beneficial properties, which include antioxidants and poly-phenols, and may potentially leave behind harmful chemicals.

In brief there are a number of detrimental effects of caffeine in coffee:

1. It raises cortisol levels which in turn cause more inflammation in the body. (that’s what we are trying to reduce on the AIP)

2. It can cross react with gliadin, the protein in gluten. This means your body thinks your consuming gluten and launches it’s attack.

3. Lastly, as mentioned above, it can cause gastro-intestinal irritation. This happens because it stimulates digestive hormones. Eating with your coffee would probably help this.

For a full explanation of the possible problems with drinking coffee on the Paleo or AIP diet please see the Paleo Mom’s thorough article on The Pros and Cons of Coffee.

I hope to be able to again enjoy a morning cup of joe in the future but for now I want to do everything to finally reverse my arthritis and this seems like it could be a key to reaping the full benefits of the process.

Do you have one hold out that is keeping you from reaping the full benefits of the elimination phase?






AIP Menu Planning in a Non-Paleo Home

Following the Auto-Immune Paleo Protocol can seem very limiting, and almost impossible when you’re the only one in a house of five following it.  Being in charge of the meals gives some control but still pleasing all those mouths can seem like a daunting task.

It doesn’t have to be. AIP is a bare-bones way of eating, it gets down to the very basic foods: meat, vegetables and fruit. Everyone should be eating those anyway, right?  For the non-paleo  just add sides or include cheese to sprinkle or hot-sauce to season.  If you look at AIP as the framework on which to build meals pleasing everyone becomes less daunting.

When I talk about meal planning I’m usually just talking about the final meal of the day, which is usually our largest meal and where we all sit together as a family to eat. For breakfasts I keep on hand 3-4 things to choose from on a daily basis. Lunch usually consists of leftovers or canned fish or lunch meat.

The general advice when it comes to meal plans is plan ahead, meaning you know what you are going to cook for at least dinner every night for an allotted time, a week or two usually. Then make your shopping list from your meal plan. This keeps you from going over budget, or from buying ingredients that will go bad before you use them.

I’ve used a ton of different templates to meal plan the ones that work the best are usually ones I design myself and can fill in with extra instructions about when to do what.  No matter how you plan to get food on the table each day, whether you type it all neat in a meal plan template or scratch it on a scrap of paper, thinking ahead is the key to making shopping and meal times go well. Being on a special diet makes thinking ahead even more important.

Here are a few tips to help you think ahead enough so that getting dinner on the table each night is hassle free.

1. Make a list of your favorite meals.

Get everyone involved. If you are new to AIP scour the web or purchase some of the great AIP cook books out there.  List meals you think would appeal to everyone. Don’t forget side dishes, sometimes that’s all one of my kids will eat.

2. Put those meals into your meal plan template. (this is optional, sometimes just having a list of meals to choose from is enough to get through the week as long as I choose the night before what’s gonna be for dinner the next day)

Consider your schedule. If you have to rush out the door right after dinner for basketball you don’t want a million pots to come home to. A one pot meal might be best that night.

3. Make notes on your meal plan.

Like when to take things out of the freezer the night before or how much time you need to try that new recipe you are not familiar with.

4. Make your shopping list.

Be sure to include snacks for the AIP eaters and the non-paleo eaters. I buy gluten-free oatmeal, cheese, chips, salsa, chocolate chips, yogurt, butter and a few other things for my family that I don’t eat myself.  For myself I’ll batch cook some tea cookies or make sure there is plenty of veggies and fruits to snack on.

IMG_46225. Go shopping by yourself.

That’s about the only way I can get my shopping done quickly and efficiently.

6. On the way home order take out.

Just kidding, kind of. If you just spent all afternoon shopping though you probably want something easy to prepare that night.





Food for Today

I am using the food I have on hand until I can shop on Wednesday. So tomorrow I’ll develop a menu plan and make my list.

Today I started with a glass of water which, I read recently, is the best way to start the day, a cup of coffee which actually is not AIP but I’m just not ready to give that up. As long as I keep it to a small cup in the morning I don’t think it affects my symptoms much. I will, and have in the past given it up, but for now it’s my last hold out.

I read my bible then did a half hour of yoga. Gentle Yoga is great way to stretch, release stress, and strengthen muscle. I always feel better when I start my day with it.

After getting my boy up and out the door for school and saying good bye to the husband, I made my breakfast before waking up the girl, who is my daughter, that I home school.  I had sweet potato hash with sausage over a bed of spinach. I need my carbs, the sweet potatoes, I drop too much weight and don’t have enough energy if I don’t. Everyone is different though some do better with less, some need to lose weight.


I started tracking food,mood and exercise on my tracking app. It’s called tracknshare  I really like this app it even has a gratitude journal feature. I hope I’ll keep up with it it compiles all sorts of graphs and stuff which could be fun to look back at and may even help uncover reasons and causes for symptoms.

IMG_4577I’ll post my menu plan and shopping list tomorrow.

Health and Wellness in 2015

When I started dabbling in blogging I thought I would focus more on food and nutrition.  I accidentally, if that’s possible, started two blogs on WordPress and ended up writing more at Renewed Sensibility where I ponder faith and life and stuff like that.  Here though I do want to chronicle my health journey which encompasses diet, chiropractic care, essential oils, supplements and more.

A year ago I started experiencing joint inflammation. First in one finger then in a toe and foot, then a thumb and at one point my jaw, my right shoulder and other areas of pain and inflammation come and go.  In September I blogged about it here. It explains the steps I’ve taken so far to help my Psoriatic Arthritis.

Tomorrow I am going to jump back on the Auto-Immune Paleo Protocol wagon. I will start a 30 day elimination diet with no grains, dairy, eggs, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), or nuts.  It’s not easy. I haven’t been able to make it a whole month yet. I have, so far,guessed at which foods I’m most sensitive to without be very sure because I haven’t reintroduced foods back properly.  Over the holidays I indulged in too much sugar and the only thing I totally avoided was gluten.

I’m fortunate my symptoms aren’t too debilitating.  There was  a point around the time I was diagnosed that I could hardly walk or move without becoming extremely fatigued. I was experiencing a lot of pain too. The past few months I’ve been able to take walks do some gentle yoga and most all of my everyday activities.  I’m not 100% but it’s manageable.

I’ve benefited from some wonderful resources and support groups. Foremost are other Auto Immune sufferers who have blogged and written books on how to use diet to help symptoms of their conditions. These three I especially appreciate: Paleo Mom, Alt-ternative/PaleoAutoimmune Paleo. There was an autoimmune summit in November put on by Dr. Amy Meyers where I learned of a lot of other resources too, Like Donna Nakazawa who wrote The Last Best Cure, which I’m in the middle of reading now and will be sharing what I’m learning from her on both my blogs.

I have also benefited from a Facebook group of others with autoimmune conditions who are also working the AIP Paleo Protocol for their own symptoms. They’ve been a great source of encouragement and knowledge

Tomorrow I’ll share my menu plan and will check in once a week with updates and progress and maybe a few recipes.  I’d love to have some company on this journey so please comment or click the little follow button to receive updates in your inbox.


Twice a Month Shopping

My parents separated when I was about 13 and my mom supported us with very little help from my father.  Striking out on her own to reenter the job market wasn’t easy but she managed.  Her job paid once a month and she would do most of her shopping for the month on pay day.  This meant Shoppers Food Warehouse generic brand processed convenience foods.  Not a lot of sweets though, no ring dings or Twinkies for us.  No, but we did have boxes of mac n cheese, Ramen, spaghetti O’s, Cheerios, you get the picture, all generic in black and white boxes(do they even make those anymore?), and the staples, eggs, milk, flour, sugar, coffee.  Meat was ground beef and chicken.  Apples, oranges, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers were about the extent of our fruits and vegetables. Oh and plums, my mum loved plums. She hated raisins though.  She must have made a few trips between paydays but it was only for milk and maybe juice or eggs.

I think of that almost every time I shop because there is no way I could do once a month shopping, I try to do bi-monthly shopping, our paydays are twice a month, but eating real perishable food, means we have to use it up. The idea of going to the market to buy fresh food every few days is one I romanticize about but find it’s not very practical.



I am finding some tricks to extend the time between shopping trips. Here are four of them.

1.  I buy fresh vegetables and fruits for week one and stock up on quality organic frozen or longer lasting vegetables for week two.  I have to be very intentional though to use the freshest first and save longer lasting vegetables for the second week. Root vegetables and squashes will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I keep a variety of frozen vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, peas, green beans and strawberries or other berries.

2. I purchase the bulk of my meat once a month and freeze  most of it.

3.  Proper planning.  Making meal plans and shopping lists from the meal plans ensures I have all the ingredients I need on hand.

4. Be flexible.  No matter how well I plan I always manage to forget something or have to change something up at the last minute.  I’ve become a master at altering recipes so I don’t have to run to the store for that one little ingredient.

Do you like to stock up or shop more often?

Day Three: Pigs Feet and Kidneys

No Joke. A year or so ago we purchased a pig from a farm and said “sure we’ll take the pigs feet”. It, there is only one, has been in the freezer since.  This week I decided to use all food in the house before going shopping, and so, decided pigs feet would be on the menu this week.  It is easy to prepare but doesn’t yield a lot of meat.


This guy waxes eloquently about not only pigs feet but butchering pigs, and himself in the process.  I’m not using his recipe but it’s an enjoyable read if you don’t mind talk of blood and popping joints.

This is what I’m doing, simply boiling with veggies and vinegar:


It was served with rice and peas, cause well that’s all that’s left. And I tried to whip up an impromptu bbq sauce but it was only mediocre, so I won’t bother with the recipe for that.
Now for the kidney, a beef kidney I think, which has also been in the freezer for ages. I followed this recipe but didn’t make a dumpling batter.  I probably should have cause kidney needs something else.


Organ meats are all the rage in the paleo world but after those kidneys I don’t think it will be a regular menu item in this household.  Eh, it wasn’t that bad just had that organy taste. I’ll stick to the liver pâté for now.


I’ve been surprised at how understanding my family has been with my experiment of using up what’s on hand. Simply letting them know what I was up too and keeping a positive attitude made all the difference. They were eager though to add to the shopping lists. Cereal, fruit and yogurt, edamame and more are on the lists.
First stop Field’s of Athenry for our pasture raised meat and eggs, then onto Costco for the staples, and last stop Wegmans for smaller items.  I will try to save some cash and hit the farmers market on Saturday for a change.

Day Two: To Shop or Not to Shop

I baked the last of the bacon and used the last of the all purpose flour for biscuits.  I have white beans to make an awesome soup for dinner but, we are out of fruit.  Can we live without fruit for a day?  Sigh…If I were a pioneer miles from civilization, I’d probably have berry bushes nearby for picking, or some kind of fruit tree. Or a bountiful garden.

I wasn’t prepared earlier this year with a garden but, I did plant some greens a few weeks ago that are growing nicely and will probably last into the fall. Yay!

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and had to fill a couple of prescriptions so I found my self in the grocery store and bought spinach, strawberries cantaloupe and garlic. Ten dollars.

When I reached my car after purchasing my groceries, I found that my car key was not on the jumbled key ring of various key chain trinkets.  I retraced my steps about 5 times, asked store workers to help me look then finally just left my name and phone number and was going to walk home. I live less than a mile from the store.  I went back to the car, packed up my vitamins, prescriptions, groceries and purse and was just about to lock the door when the key, THE KEY!!! appeared on the seat of my car.  Like it just dropped out of no where, I looked for a good TWENTY MINUTES!! back and forth, through the parking lot, through the store, to the customer service desk!!! , I emptied my purse 3 times shook it out, shook everything out, no key.  Then it just appears.  Very thankful yes, but thoroughly confused.

The white bean soup is delicious.

Day One: What’s in the Fridge?


My husband is a master at getting inspired by ingredients.  He can pull together a delicious meal with whatever is in the fridge.  Soups especially lend themselves to this kind of cooking. I think some of his talent for using whatever is on hand has rubbed off on me because today’s lunch was not only a great use of what was available but tasted delicious too.

The ingredients on hand were  1/2 a cabbage, one carrot, 1/2 an onion, and left over bbq chicken.

It was a what’s-in-the-fridge stir-fry over rice.

Martha's iphone pictures 1534


It was prepared in my  large cast iron skillet at high heat and a little olive oil, a dash of rice vinegar and finished with coconut aminos. Devoured by all, well, except Ruth who only wanted rice and peas.  I will remember this one for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

We Won’t Eat Daisies This Week

This is all the food I have on hand : ½ a cabbage, 1.5 sweet potatoes, 4 carrots, 2.5 onions, a bunch of celery, a bag of frozen peas, a few frozen blueberries, frozen broccoli 2# of ground beef, ½ a package of bacon, 2 quarts chicken stock, popcorn, rice, butter, lard, 2 cups of all purpose flour, coconut flour, a bag of white beans and maybe a few other odds and ends, like beef kidneys and pigs feet. The challenge is to make that last 4 days, Monday through Thursday without having to go to the grocery store. I will go though, for eggs and maybe some fruit.
Do you think I can do it? It’s not like we are totally broke, just cash poor at the moment. We are not using credit cards and haven’t mastered making the twice a month pay check make it to the end of the pay period. I have a coffee can of change and a few dollars in my purse. But I like the challenge, and I think I can do it. 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners, it shouldn’t be that hard. Breakfast tomorrow will probably be pancakes, I do have maple syrup. I will need more eggs. We won’t eat the daisies.

Lunch: stirfry rice with peas, egg, cabbage and carrots.

Dinner: Meat Loaf w/ mashed sweet potato and broccoli (soak the beans overnight)

Breakfast: eggs and bacon

Lunch: left over meat loaf

Dinner: white bean soup with biscuits. http://southernfood.about.com/od/beansandblackeyedpeas/r/bl30429i.htm

Breakfast: eggs or muffins

Lunch: Left over soup

Dinner: pigs feet? Kidney? http://nourishpaleofoods.com/2013/04/07/beef-kidney-biscuits/ this actually looks like it might work. I do have the spices for it.