Roasted Pepper and Acorn Squash Soup

What you’ll need:

3 red bell peppers, chopped

1 acorn squash, peeled, chopped

2 pounds organic ground beef(or bulk sausage if not doing GAPS)

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, peeled, chopped

1 parsnip, peeled, chopped

3 celery, washed, chopped

2 tblsp minced garlic

6 c Homemade chicken stock

2 c filtered water

1 tblsp smoked paprika

1 tsp Celtic sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Pinch crushed red pepper

Avocado oil, optional garnish

Directions

Set oven to 400*F. Line sheet pan with baking mat or parchment paper. Add chopped peppers and acorn squash. Toss with avocado oil and sea salt. Bake for 35 minutes. 

In dutch oven soup pot, add beef(or sausage), onions, carrot, parsnip, celery, and garlic. Cook till vegetables are tender. Add homemade stock, water, sea salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper(if using). Simmer for 15minutes and add roasted veggies and simmer for another 10 minutes. 

Serve with a drizzle with avocado oil for some extra healthy fat and enjoy! 

I made this for the family and it is such a major hit! The acorn squash sorta disintegrated into the soup, not that anyone minded really. It flavorful and satisfying! Now, you can make this without meat and use an immersion blender to make it a creamy soup. Serve with some toasted pecans and a little coconut milk on top. Or just eat it as is, it’s a yummy soup no matter how you fix it and definitely a keeper. 

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An Update and Recipe

Afternoon everyone!

Been a while since the last post, a lot has changed. Before I get into that, please keep Florida in your thoughts and prayers. I have family and friends who are hunkering down for various reasons and naturally we are worried about them. 

About a month ago I started doing the anti-candida diet. Started out great, lost 10Lbs of bloat that first week everything was awesome. A week later I had gained a pound and the week after that I was up another two pounds. Very discouraging. 😠 That’s when I started reading about the underlying cause for my candida issue…leaky gut. This wasn’t a new topic for me, I had read about, talked about, and even listened to numerous discussions about leaky gut syndrome with it’s laundry list of issues that come with it. Yay me! πŸ˜’

So, what’s the go to protocol to treat leaky gut syndrome? GAPS Diet. Gut and Psychological/Physiological Syndrome Diet, it’s designed to help those with leaky gut issues and those who are autistic, have ADD/ADHD, are schizophrenic, and have skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis. It is certainly good for a whole host of other issues as well, especially candida. My mother is currently living with fibromyalgia and suffering from side effects after taking Cipro(she’s been floxed), last night was her first time trying one of my GAPS soups and it was a hit(will share it in another post). 

Currently I have completed two weeks of the GAPS Intro stages 1 & 2. There are six stages in this intro diet and it is not for the faint of heart. I first started out almost immediately with cold like symptoms. I was miserable, cold, coughing, unabel to sleep lying down, beginning to doubt my decision to go stage by stage. Typically beginners are encouraged to do the full GAPS Diet which allows them to eat everything from all six stages and it eases them into it rather than eliminating everything all at once. I was unaware of THAT tid bit of information until I was already halfway through my first week. No matter, I pushed through the first week proud that I had stuck it out. 

You see, I have a lot of food issues. Dairy is usually a biggie for me, eggs, and gluten. This is why I tend to shun such foods and tend to miss out on a lot of low carb treats. For me, going stage by stage is helping me to identify where my real issues are. I’ll break it down…

Stage 1 was not fun, easy but not a walk in the park. Most of what I was allowed to have that first week was homemade stocks, overcooked vegetables, boiled meats, and could only season with salt(either Himalayan Pink or Celtic). Not that exciting. I was developing a sore throat from all the coughing so I drank a lot of warm lemon honey water. I won’t lie, I was miserable since I couldn’t take cough meds because of the alcohol, cough drops were out of the question due to the sugar. I sounded rough and could not wait to get into the second stage. 

Stage 1 meals:

Chicken & Vegetable Soup–basically boiled chicken, homemade stock, carrots, leeks, minced garlic, and Himalayan Pink Salt to taste.

Beef and Vegetable Soup–grass fed beef & stock, leeks, carrots, zucchini slices, minced garlic, and Celtic Sea salt.

Turkey Meatball Soup–homemade raw turkey meatballs, chicken stock, yellow squash, zucchini, leeks, minced garlic, and Himalayan Pink Salt.

Mexican Turkey Soup–chicken stock, half head of cauliflower(destemmed), small onion, oregano, minced garlic, 4oz jar green chiles(big mistake on my part) turkey meatballs, and Himalayan Pink salt.

Stage 2 came and the first thing I made, without even trying, was an egg drop soup. I had been reading about how onions and eggs help with sore throats so I got busy eating lots of eggy onion soups those first few days of that second week. It. Was. Divine! Sweet relief for my throat. By Wednesday I was finally feeling somewhat normal and began including bovine gelatin to my soups. 

Stage 2 Meals:

Egg Drop Soup–chicken stock, a small onion chopped, an egg yolk, minced garlic, ghee, and Celtic Sea salt

Warm Chicken Stock-just warmed up chicken stock with Celtic Sea salt for flavor(very soothing)

Turkey Vegetable Stew–ground turkey meat, ghee, zucchini and yellow squash slices, leeks, Celtic Sea salt and bovine gelatin

Italian Meatball Soup–beef meatballs, carrots, onions, celery(not stage 2 legal, I know), minced garlic, beef stock, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, Celtic Sea salt, ghee, coconut oil, and avocado oil(family loved this!)

Now As I approach the third stage I am prepping for a little bit more food options such as: boiled and scrambled eggs, fermented foods like sauerkraut(in small doses), fully cooked vegetables that aren’t boiled in stock, and add some new organic vegetables to my menu. The one thing I’ve started doing is taking a drop of organic kraut juice in the morning. Wicked stuff, I say that because I’m not a fan of fermented things anyway, especially sauerkraut. πŸ˜‘ BUT it’s a must since it’s good for digestion. 

And I decided to try pancakes this morning. These are most likely NOT GAPS stage 2 legal since I chose to use coconut flour instead of butternut squash and a nut butter as the base of my pancakes. (Original recipe for these coconut flour pancakes is here.)


What you’ll need:

1/2 c coconut flour

3 tblsp favorite granulated sweetener–I used about 4 packets of Naturevia)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp finely ground Celtic Sea salt

6 organic eggs

1/4 c coconut oil, melted

3/4 c sparkling mineral water

Coconut oil for cooking

Directions:

Heat griddle over medium heat, just until you’re ready to cook. 

In a medius bowl combine coconut flour, granulated sweetener, baking powder, and sea salt. Add eggs, coconut oil, and mineral water, whisking vigorously until well combined. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to thicken up. Use 1/4 cup of batter per pancake, should yield 12 pancakes. Add a little coconut oil to the hot griddle and add batter. Reduce heat if needed so nothing burns, little bubble will form on top and the edges will dry a bit. That’s when you’ll know they’re ready to flip. 

I ate mine with a thin spread of ghee and a drizzle of raw unfiltered honey(since it’s GAPS approved). So far I’m feeling ok, still full but no discomfort. Will see how I am by tomorrow, please don’t follow my example if you are not sure exactly how coconut flour is going to affect your system. We’re all different, but if you are further along in your GAPS journey then I hope you will enjoy these pancakes! 

This whole experience has been a reeducation of not looking at certain foods as “I can’t have that because of the carbs”, but rather, “I’ll have a little because I do need some carbs but not the entire serving.” Since starting all of this I’ve dropped 19 pounds and obviously everything is working out smoothly. My die off is at a manageable state, my guts have quieted down more, there’s less churning and gurgling without the cramping discomfort. 

I will not be making these pancakes too often, as much as I loved their fluffy goodness! Definitely a keeper πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ Even G liked them! 

If you do give these a try let me know what you think, feel free to share this recipe with others, and reblog if you like! I have shared certain GAPS recipes on on my IG account(nok_amandagayle), but I will be moving those recipes over here so everyone can have access to them. 

Have a blessed weekend! 

Maple Turkey Sausage Patties(LC/DF/GF/SF)

Afternoon all, trust everyone has recouped from the after effects of watching the solar eclipse yesterday. I know a lot of folks were complaining of having headaches, eyes were burning, and feeling tired. If you’re still not feeling well I pray for speedy recovery soon, I know how draining those types of headaches can be. 

Yesterday I spent some time, post solar eclipse, making some breakfast meat for myself. I love maple flavored sausage, especially with extra maple syrup drizzled on top…mmmmm, the best! But carb wise it’s like the plague attacking my body, which is why I haven’t had that in quite awhile. I do miss regular sausage though…and bacon, deli ham, spam, kielbasa…πŸ˜‘I’ll stop. (Le sigh)


Most of what’s available in stores I can’t even trust. There are hidden sugars, preservatives, and msg in almost everything. I’m not being as strict with my anti-candida lifestyle as some folks have suggested. I still eat meat whereas others tend to become vegetarian. Nothing wrong with that at all, I personally cannot go without meat, which is why I think such things ought to be tailored for each person. There is no clear cut and dry protocol that will work for everyone. I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks about the various candida protocols and have taken from each one customizing what I think will work best for me. So far, everything that I’ve been doing is helping and most of the die off on my chest has cleared up. PTL!! Since I have to resort to making my own breakfast meats, desserts, and meals, it does take a little extra time and effort, but the end results are worth it! 

I do want to mention that the maple flavoring is optional, I only added it because I personally LOVE it. πŸ˜πŸ˜‰ However, you can use maple syrup if the carbs are not an issue for you. Ground chicken can also be used in lieu of ground turkey. Or you can mix ground turkey with ground hamburger, which I’ve done in the past when making meatballs. It’s just as good and the ground beef lends some fat to the mixture since ground turkey tends to be lean. 

What you’ll need: 

1 pound ground turkey

2 tsp poultry seasoning

2 tsp maple extract(optional)

1 tblsp granulated stevia(optional)

1/8 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cassia cinnamon(purchased from The Spice House)

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp Himalyan pink salt

Coconut oil, for cooking

Heat oven to 375*F, line sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium size bowl mix all the ingredients by hand thoroughly. There are a few methods with which you can make sausage patties. METHOD 1: on a clean work surface place a piece of wax paper down and add half of the meat mixture on it. Cover with another sheet of wax paper, then use a rolling pin to flatten out to desired thickness. Cut into 8 rectangular pieces and repeat with second half of mixture. METHOD 2: skip the wax paper all together and free form patties by hand. METHOD 3: on clean work surface lay down wax paper, place half of the meat mixture down and flatten out with hands to desired thickness. Use a biscuit cutter cut to shape the patties. Repeat with second half of the meat mixture. Cook in coconut oil over medium heat until browned on both sides. 

You can freeze these raw or cooked, I went ahead and cooked all of mine up to help cut down on my time in the kitchen each morning. I used wax paper to keep the patties separated and put them into a quart size freezer bag. 

Depending on the size and how thick or thin you make the patties will determine how many it yields. I was able to get 16 rectangular patties. The carb count for these is basically non existent. Using maple syrup would change that, so keep that in mind. If you decide to make these with maple syrup just remember to omit the granulated stevia. 

I had three this morning with a couple of egg muffins that I made, such a nice carb free meal! 

(Pictured above: Half of the egg muffins are dairy and meat free for me. The other half have ham, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese which are G-Man’s fave!) A simple and easy low carb breakfast that you can customize with any flavor and add ins. These were really fluffy, the almod milk added a nice light texture to these. I used cajun seasoning, turmeric powder, kosher salt, dried oregano, and dried parsley. Gave a good whisking and portioned it out to all the silicone muffin cups. Baked @375*F for 20 minutes, plan to make more to freeze. I love breakfasts that I can grab and warm up. Makes for a hassel free morning. 

Hope you give these sausage patties a try, play around with the seasonings and let me know what you think. I love getting feedback from you all! If you have any questions please email me at nightowlkitchen@yahoo.com. You can also follow me on Instagram: @nok_amandagayle, for more recipe ideas/inspirations. 

Have a blessed week! 

My Life with Candida Albicans(Here I Go Again)

Afternoon everyone, hope your Wednesday has been a blessed one so far. Today I want to share an update on my candida detox, plus an article I just found that explains what foods to eliminate when you suspect you have a candida overgrowth, and a recipe that I made a couple of nights ago that was absolutely delicious and dairy free! So this will be a jam packed post, but bear with me! ☺️ Below is a picture that is NOT the most flattering, but it shows just how bad this mess has gotten. 

Picture from Sunday night. It spans from shoulder to shoulder, the worst of it in the center. It’s still creeping slowly up my neck, but for now it’s not as bad as it was last Wednesday. As of today, it only itches around the edges of the rash site. There is a soap I found that I plan to try, it’s designed for these areas so I’ll share more after I give it a go. 

For a while now I have been dealing with this candida overgrowth and die off. Ever since my first die off from a few years ago I have done just enough to get over the worst of the symptoms and once the die off would clear up I would slowly begin to add certain foods back into my low carb diet. I can already hear the clucking of tongues from certain folks πŸ˜‰, trust me I have been kicking myself since last week for not having realized sooner how detrimental that decision was to my health. Just like low carb/keto is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle, so is eat to keep your candida in check. And yes, EVERYONE has candida in their bodies. It’s a nasty bacteria in your digestive system and when we aren’t eating right, when we are pumping our bodies full of antibiotics(including the animal meats we eat) we are feeding the candida. That’s when things get out of balance and we start having issues with our sinuses, allergies, skin related problems(ie rashes, eczema), flatulence, brain fog, IBS, fibromyalgia, yeast infections, and so on. It just seems to snowball and we can’t figure out why all of the sudden we are having all these issues. 
That’s been my life now since 2011 and quite possibly longer if I think about it. This could explain my most recent issue with the top of my left foot. It was hurting to the point where I could barely walk. Which that has actually started to improve over the last few days! I’m not hobbling around as much and I can stand for short periods of time with minimal issues. This is great news since this means I will be able to get back to my workouts! 

So what is it EXACTLY am I doing to improve my health? What protocol am I following to eliminate the candida overgrowth? It’s not any one thing or method. I spent last weekend reading anything and everything online, refreshing my memory of what needs to be done. The first thing I did was change my diet. Since I am already living a lower carb life, I knew I was going to have to give up more even MORE foods that may have been contributing to the overgrowth. And Saturday night proved to be a near breaking point for me. I was emotionally drained and frustrated by the realization that I would have to give up a lot of my favorite low carb foods for a while(possibly forever) and it all hit me that night. I was hungry and wanting stuffed green olives. My go to snack food when I have the munchies. High in fat, zero carbs, and I can easily eat half a jar! No judging. πŸ˜’My 13 yr old comes in and asks me what I’m doing. Trying to keep the shreds of emotions in check I tell him I’m hungry and can’t have the things that I would normally go to. At this point I could feels the tears welling up and I absolutely hate crying in front of people. When I cry it’s messy and ugly, so I took a few breaths to calm myself and without skipping a beat G-Man told me “so fix yourself some eggs.” 

I won’t lie, I scoffed at that idea. For one eggs don’t like me. Honestly, they make me sulfur gassy(and there goes any hope for finding a future husband). Before I could stop him, G-Man was already grabbing the container of eggs and asking me what meats and veggies I can have. He was shocked when I told him I can’t have sausage patties, deli ham or turkey, and no more bacon. Pitiful, I know. πŸ˜” So he grabbed tomatoes(which aren’t EXACTLY a safe thing but it added color to my dish), frozen green beans, and a green onion. He stood there watching me fry a couple of eggs in coconut oil with a handful of green beans, added in a few tomatoes for color, seasoned it all with Himalayan seas salt, black pepper, and turmeric. Garnishing the top with thin slices of green onion. And that was dinner! It was so satisfying, delicious, and simple! 

I know not too many folks like to give God credit these days, but I have to take a moment to. If my son hadn’t come into the kitchen when he did I wouldn’t have eaten such an amazing meal. I would have eaten half a jar of stuffed green olives, maybe some cheese slices, and hated myself later. God intervened by using my son to ground me (meaning forcing me to focus) and get me thinking what I should do instead and kept me from eating the very things that have led to this overgrowth and further the issue more. 

Sunday was even better! I had to make the decision to stay home from church since I was experiencing some IBS issues(again I’m just killing my prospects here lol) and didn’t want to chance anything. I rarely eat breakfast y’all, I take after my Memaw, leave me alone for an hour after I get up and let me enjoy my morning coffee(only for her it was hot tea). Coffee fills me up but I made half a cup instead and fried up two eggs just so I could get something into my system. Lunch came and I was starving! That’s when I made this…


All right, it’s not the prettiest bowl of food, but it was tasy! Stir fry veggies and garlic ginger chicken, it made four servings so I had enough for dinner and some to freeze! Sunday afternoon my detox pills arrived and I was actually excited! Me, I hate swallowing pills, but I was actually excited about having THOSE! I know, crazy. 😏 With my biggest meal I take my pills every day and haven’t had too many issues with them(mild burping…I’m batting a thousand already who cares anymore?!). And this is what is helping me to combat the candida overgrowth. I still pine for the foods that I used to eat, but I know in the end it’s better that I go without and finally get well after years of neglect. 

So…

Goodbye to : dairy(heavy cream, butter, cheeses, cream cheese), processed meats(kielbasa, spam, hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, deli meats), mushrooms, peanut oil, mini sweet peppers, fathead pizza dough and bagels, creamy/cheesy casseroles, homemade ranch dressing, ketchup, mayonnaise, low carb brownies(because of the chocolate and butter), pork rinds, low carb protein smoothies(because the protein powder I love has whey in it), mashed cauliflower(I tend to make it with cream cheese, parm cheese, and heavy cream), pickled foods(sliced jalapenos, dill pickles, stuffed green olives), naturally sweet veggies and fruit, and the list goes on. 

Say hello to: dark green veggies(kale, broccoli, chard, romaine), cruciferous veggies(cauliflower, cabbage), organic meats(beef, chicken, and pork…not a fish fan), peppers, fermented foods(soy sauce, sauerkrauts, kimchi), squash, zucchini, green beans, onions, garlic, coconut oil, evoo, safflower oil, avocado oil(and avocados), hemp seeds, chia seeds, almonds, eggplant, blueberries, unsweetened cranberries, stevia, xylitol, vitamins and supplements, and candida detox pills(two pills once a day). 

Here’s a link to a site I found today that gives a basic outline of what foods to avoid and what foods are safe when killing off the candida. CLICK HERE

A friend recently asked me how my ice cube diet is going. 😏 I love her cheekiness! If it were anyone else I wouldn’t have laughed. For the most part I am able to maintain my low carb lifestyle while incorporating more of the anti-candida regimen. I don’t feel as bloated, the gas is slowly going away, mental clarity is emerging, I’m not as tired during the afternoon, but I am still battling with cold extremities, that might take a bit longer to get over since I’ve dealt with it for years. Plus I actually dropped a pound over the weekend which I haven’t been able to do for a while! 

Now, what yummy recipe do I have for you?! 


It’s baked chicken legs(you can use breasts, thighs, wings, or the whole chicken, go nuts!!) with oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower, served over a very basic romain salad topped with spicy brown mustard. 

What you’ll need:

12 chicken legs, skin on

No salt added seasoning of your choice(the one I used is pictured below)

Evoo

2 pounds frozen broccoli

1 pound frozen cauliflower

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two sheet pans with non stick foil. Coat the chicken legs evenly with salt free seasoning and place on sheet pan. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered. Crank the heat up to 425 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. 

In a large mixing add frozen broccoli and cauliflower. Drizzle on evoo and season with pink Himalayan sea salt. Spread out on remaining sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes or until it reaches a desired doneness. 

Serve with chopped organic romaine lettuce and use your favorite dressing. It’s simple, it’s easy, and leftovers are great the next day for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs. Leftovers can be frozen or used for those Bento boxes. Just make sure to debone the chicken first before storing. Makes it easier to enjoy later on! 

Below is the no salt added seasoning recipe I used. 


I store mine in a regular mouth glass jar and washed off a screw on lid from a Kraft Parmesan cheese container. This way I can shake on the seasoning on one side or measure it out from the other. I can’t remember if I doubled or tripled the recipe at the time I made this, but it is worth it! I use it on my eggs, veggies, beef, pork, and of course chicken. 

You can make a non-spicy version by leaving out the cayenne pepper. I think the next batch I make I’ll add turmeric and ginger powder since both of those are amazing anti-candida seasonings. 


If you have any questions please feel free to ask me below or email me at nightowlkitchen@yahoo.com, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram(@nok_amandagayle). I tend to post a little more frequently on IG these days since it’s quicker. But I hope this post has helped to shed some light on this growing issue. If you suspect you are suffering from a candida overgrowth, here is a link with a list of symptoms. CLICK HERE. This is definitely something you DO NOT want to leave untreated. I will be honest with you, there is a lot of controversial information out there, please be careful with your research and take a majority of it with a massive grain of salt. What works for one person won’t always work for another, there is no one size fits all protocol. There’s a basic outline that we all have to follow, but how I am approaching treatment is not necessarily going to work for the next person. 

In the meantime, take care, happy healthy eating, and hope you all have a blessed week! 

Low Carb Double Chocolate Brownie Smoothie

If you have yet to try the Holy Cow, LC/GF Brownies recipe from this blog then you are missing out, because today’s recipe is centered around those brownies. 


Yesterday on Instagram I shared this image shortly after making the smoothie. I feel compelled to apologize that the cup isn’t filled up all the way. It’s mostly because I’m not a major chocolate fan. But I hope you can over look a half full glass and be tempted to try this amazing recipe!

I know chocolate smoothies tend to be a hit with most folks, personally I think you need a high quality cocoa in order to achieve that decadent, rich, chocolatey goodness that tricks your brain into thinking that you’re being bad only you’re not. Now, my recipe uses vanilla but chocolate can easily be used instead. I prefer to use True Whey Protein Powder, it’s sweetened with Stevia, has 1g net carb per scoop, is soy free(which is important for us PCOS Cysters), and the vanilla flavor works with every flavor of smoothie I have made thus far! 

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 c heavy cream

1 c ice cubes

Almond milk, optional to thin out

2 tblsp unsweetened Ghirardelli Cocoa Powder

2 tblsp Stevia in the Raw

2 scoops True Whey Protein Powder

2  Holy Cow, LC/GF brownies

Other add ins:

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Low carb chocolate sauce, drizzled

Whipped cream, on top

Dark chocolate nibs, garnish

Directions

In a blender, add all the ingredients minus the brownies, and use the ice crush setting. If it gets too thick, add a splash of almon milk to thin out. Add brownies and other optional add ins; pulse a few times to incorporate completely. Portion out into your favorite glass(es) and enjoy! 

My nephew wanted a mint flavor, so in his glass I added a few drops of peppermint extract into his cup. My mom tried a spoonful and was blown away by how much it tasted just like the brownies(she’s my blueberry smoothie fan). Even G-Man was impressed and I can barely get him to have anything but a strawberry smoothie. 

So what are the carbs for this glass of sinful goodness? Are you sitting down?! 

3g net carbs

Now, I use MyFitnessPal to calculate and this could change depending on the brand of ingredients you use. 

So far I have made several different flavors, in future I may get a wild hair and blog about them. 

Strawberry Pomegranate 

Strawberry Banana 

Blueberry

Snickerdoodle

Mint Chocolate Chip

Double Mint Chocolate Chip

Mocha

Tropical Fruit with Pomegranate

Also check out my Pinterest board of low carb smoothie recipes, I have found oodles of delicious recipes on there. I like to look through even the high carb smoothie recipes for inspiration and figure out how to make them low carb. 

Y’all have a blessed weekend and take care! 

Carrot Cake (LC/GF/DF) & Update

Happy Tuesday to you all! I trust you all had a great Easter weekend with your family and friends!

I realize I didn’t give an update last week, there has been a positive turn with my health. Last week I checked my right breast for any signs of lingering blood and all is clear! Five weeks of eating clean, taking supplements, laying off dairy, gluten, and carbs as much as possible have really helped! This is why I’m thinking that my issue was a hormone imbalanace, which goes hand in hand in my PCOS. It’s amazing what a change in lifestyle can do!

Going low carb has not been easy for me, especially when the majority of recipes call for butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, and heavy cream. All of those I used to use in great abundance, especially the cheese and butter!! Learning to go without has been difficult but worth it! Last week I lost another four pounds for a grand total of 21.9 pounds, I’m extremely pleased and shocked that in just five weeks I could lose that much. This has all been due to a change in what I’m eating, I plan to start exercising once I lose some more weight. My track record with exercising isn’t too good, I usually wind up injuring myself, which leads to months of recovery, depression, and undoing all my progress by eating all the wrong foods again. It’s what I’ve done for four years now, so this time HAS to be different. Easing into exercise, even at a snail pace, is the only way I can ensure I don’t overdo anything. And out of the rabbit hole now, lol sorry! Back on topic…

Low carb food options are even harder to come by when you HAVE to exclude gluten and dairy. One of the ways I’ve been able to manage without dairy is to use raw organic cold pressed coconut oil. It lacks the coconut smell and taste which allows me to use it for everything from cooking my morning eggs to baked goods. It measures the same as butter(eg. 1/2 c melted butter can be replaced with 1/2 c melted coconut oil) and I have used it in my baked goods with great success! And one such recipe was the carrot cake I make for Easter!

   (Voila!!! This is a crazy easy recipe and thankfully it doesn’t take everything in the kitchen to make it. I do have some slight adjustments I plan to make the next time I make this, such as reducing the amount of carrots and nuts. The original recipe is found at Ditch the Carbs site, and below I have copied here.)

INGREDIENTS

Low Carb Carrot Cake

3 cups grated carrot

5 eggs

200g / 7 oz butter melted

3 tbsp granulated stevia or sweetener of choice to taste

1 Β½ cups ground almonds/ almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

Β½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

2 tsp vanilla essence

Β½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting

200g cream cheese

1-2 tbs granulated stevia, or sweetener of choice, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Low Carb Carrot Cake

Beat eggs, melted butter, stevia, and vanilla together.

Add grated carrot, walnuts, and coconut then mix ground almonds, spices and baking powder.

Pour into a greased and lined tin. Bake at 180C/350F for 30 minutes or until a fork pushed in, comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Warm the cream cheese in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften it.

Stir in 1-2 tbs stevia or sweetener of choice.

You could also add some lemon zest to give it more flavour. This would add a small number of carbs.

Cover with cream cheese frosting.

NOTES

I used an 8 inch/ 20 cm cake tin.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Serving size: 1 slice iced Calories: 321 Fat: 31.6g Carbohydrates: 5.8g Sugar: 2.9g Fibre: 2g Protein: 5.7g

Yes, this is a dense cake with a tremendous amount of flavor! It was so nice to be able to enjoy one of my favorite cakes without all the guilt. With that said, I did make a couple of changes to the recipe in order to make it dairy free and to make up for the lack of mixed spice(which I’m sure pumpkin pie spice could work also). 

I swapped out the butter and used melted coconut oil instead, very easy adjustment, and in place of the mixed spice I added 1/8 tsp each of ground nutmeg and ground cloves. Both enhanced the cinnamon flavor beautifully! I did make the cream cheese frosting, but chose to not add it on top of the cake. I left that as an option for my family to add to their own pieces. 

For myself, I made a whipped coconut cream, very easy and can’t remember where I saw this idea. If I run across it I’ll be sure to update this post. All you do, is the night before you make this, place a can of unsweetened full fat coconut milk in the refrigerator. Do not shake it up before doing so. What you are wanting to do is chill the separated fat from the coconut water that is on the bottom. The next day, open the can and scoop out just the chilled coconut fat into a small bowl(the leftover water can be used in low carb smoothies, in soups, and sauces, or you can just drink it straight), sweeten with a couple packets of stevia, a dash of cinnamon, and about one teaspoon of vanilla extract(or any extract flavor you like). Use a handmixer and whip the contents for 30-40 seconds, or until all the lumps are gone. And then enjoy! 

I wish I had known about the whipped coconut cream sooner, it’s also delicious in coffee! It doesn’t have the staying power of whipped cream, but hey the yummy cinnamon flavor is still there and it fills my coffee with healthy fat goodness!  What more could a low carb gal ask for?! Pizza smothered in cheese…but I won’t go there. πŸ˜’

Hope you all enjoy this recipe, please leave your reviews over at Ditch the Carbs for the cake recipe and I look forward to sharing more of my health journey with you all later and hope everyone has a very blessed day!

YAY!!!

Health Update and Recipe

Since the new year began, I’ve had some highs and lows. Who doesn’t, right?! The lows have been outweighing the highs lately and so much so it had started to take its toll on me. What I am about to share may gross some folks out, so if you’d rather skip to the recipe below that’s quite all right. 

A year ago I discovered a massive bruise on the side of my right breast. It was the strangest thing, I remember going to bed without it and the next morning it was there! It never hurt though from it’s black-purple color you’d think otherwise. After a few weeks it finally went away and I never gave it another thought as 2015 pressed on. Fast forward to February 2016…I’m used to funky things happening to me thanks to my PCOS. Honestly, most things never surprise me or gross me out anymore. I’ve learned to deal and move on, except when I woke up one morning with dried blood around my right nipple. You bet I thought what the heck! After a mild freak out I hit Bing search engine up for a possible explanation. 

Now, I know what many of you are thinking, why haven’t you gotten your fanny to a doctor?! Well, a little thing called insurance…yeah, I don’t have it and not enough money to pay out of pocket at the moment. So, after spending an hour perusing the possibilities as to what it could be I decided to wait it out and see if could be the first option: hormone imbalance. For some women it can occur during their monthly cycles, I personally have never had that particular symptom happen before. I decided to give it four days to see if would go away on it’s own as per many online GYN’s  had said it should…but it didn’t. I won’t lie, I did panic at first and my mind began to reel with the possibility of ‘what if’. What if it’s not just a clogged milk duct? What if this isn’t just a serious bout of hormone imbalance? What if I have breast cancer? That last thought scared me the most. 

After talking with my parents, I came up with a plan to see if I could in some way alter certain symptoms. I have always shared on social media how cancer needs sugar and an acidic environment to thrive. Now it was time to start putting my own words to good use, live a low carb lifestyle and incorporate alkaline aspects(water, certain veggies, etc.). I knew it wasn’t going to be easy going cold turkey off of sugar, gluten, and dairy but with the idea of breast cancer hanging over my head as a major possibility I knew that once I start there would be no going back. No giving up. No starting and two weeks later giving up. It’s serious this time, and even IF it’s not breast cancer I ought to live as though it were. 

So, for two weeks I have been living an extreme low carb lifestyle. No sugar. No gluten. No dairy. Increased my water to 2L a day, every morning I drink a small cup of warm lemon water sweetened with stevia. Cut my caffeine consumption back to half a cup a day. Increased my usage of turmeric, ginger, and cayenne pepper. I add it on EVERYTHING throughout the day. Yes I was a total grumpy mcbaggy pants last week, an absolute bear because all week I was craving doughnuts. I didn’t care what kind homemade, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin…If someone had brought in a dozen I would have eaten the entire box! But I didn’t cave in, I stayed the course and munched on pork rinds any time the craving hit. It helped! My chronic fatigue is improving, I still get tired during the day but I’m not crashing on the sofa every afternoon like I had been. Slowly things are beginning to improve which is good! 

Even this morning I weighed myself and found that I’m 9 pounds down and the inflammation is lessening. Here’s a little tidbit of info for women with PCOS, dairy causes inflammation seriously consider reducing or cutting it out completely and notice an improvement to your overall health. I am starting to get around with better ease, my joints ache less, my lower back doesn’t hurt as much, and walking in general isn’t as tiresome. Turmeric and cayenne pepper have helped tremendously! I strongly suggest you start adding that to your daily diet and lifestyle. 

I’ll just tell you this, only time will reveal if what I am doing is truly improving my health and putting a stop to these weird symptoms. All I ask from you amazing people is to please pray for me during this time. 

Now, if I haven’t grossed everyone out with my health update, let’s move on to a fabulous lunch idea that’s full of good for you fat, will tackle inflammation, and is perfect for a ladies get together or brunch! πŸ˜‰

  

You’ll need::

6 boiled eggs, peeled and mashed

2 leftover chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

1 c homemade mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp dried chives

1 avocado, peeled

Spanish Paprika

Cayenne powder

In a large bowl add peeled boiled eggs and use a pastry blender to chop it down as finely as you can. Set aside. Place leftover chicken breasts in a food processor and whiz it down until it resembles a fine texture, almost like a dry pate. Add to the chopped eggs. Mix with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and dried chives. Cut a ripe avocado in half and carefully remove the seed with a sharp knife. You can leav the skin on if you wish, I prefer removing it. Fill each half with the egg chicken salad mixture, don’t be stingy! Sprinkle the top with cayenne pepper and paprika and enjoy! 

This is truly a deviled dish! That kick of cayenne is amazing with the smoky flavor of paprika. You can serve this with a side salad, gluten free low carb bread and almond butter, add chopped bacon on top, and of course a tall glass of lemon lime water! 

The carb count is low which is great for induction. You can use any leftover chicken, I just happen to have two pieces leftover from a low carb chicken paprikash that I made earlier in the week. Don’t be afraid to try new things and hope you all have a blessed weekend! 

~Why some women don’t have enough breastmilk for baby: Important role of insulin in making breast milk identified~

Afternoon Cysters,

I saw an article on FB last week and wanted to share it in the hopes that it will help shed light on an issue that has even affected me. If PCOS has in some way affected your body to the point where you can’t even breastfeed, please speak out about it! I want your voices to be heard.
To read the original article, click Why some women don’t have enough breastmilk for baby..

Have a blessed day!

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~PCOS Awareness Month Starts Today~

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Hey everyone! Hope you all are enjoying this first day of September πŸ™‚ I’m buzzing with excitement because this is the month where we usher in the fall season, consume numerous pumpkin and cinnamon delights, and most importantly talk A LOT about PCOS Awareness!!

I know I’ve gained some new peeps here and you may be wondering what PCOS is…the letters stand for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s a misnomer for a much bigger issue that involves not just the ovaries, it affects the entire body. The actual name of this disorder is Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. It’s an endocrine disorder and there is cure for it. The internet is notorious for giving this false hope that there is a cure, science hasn’t come up with a way to replace or reboot the endocrine system. Until such a time comes, all we can do is treat the symptoms and there are many ways to do so. But first, here’s my story…

I was 18 when I was diagnosed with PCOS and at the time I didn’t really understand what it all meant. The explained what it was, but the shock of such a diagnosis kept me from computing what she was telling me. A couple of years later I decided to look deeper into the symptoms and boy is the list long!

  • Hirsutism
  • Hair Loss
  • Infertility
  • Infrequent or Absent Periods
  • Obesity
  • Acne
  • Insulin Resistance(a biggie)
  • Skin Tags
  • Sleep Apnea

…and the list goes on. Do I have any of the symptoms listed above? You betcha and then some, I didn’t ask for this, it’s not contagious, but it can be hereditary. I’m the only one in the family with this particular syndrome, although my Dad’s side of the family is riddled with reproductive issues so it could very well stem from that.Β 

The goal for this month is not to overload everyone on the science of PCOS, but rather to encourage everyone to come together and spread the word. If you or someone you know has insulin resistance, suffers from infertility issues, unwanted hair growth in places that most women don’t have it, don’t just pass it off as “well, I’m getting older and my body is just acting weird.” Please make an appointment with your GYN and/or an endocrinologist and get yourself checked out. 1 in 4 women have PCOS, so it’s more common than you’d think.

I am also going to be sharing tasty recipes, do some giveaways, and since this is a brand new month for Jamberry there are a lot of new things to check out!!! If you are curious about what’s new, go visit my store Jonesin’ For Wraps. On the left hand side you will see things such as:

Stylebox(which a fun box you can sign up for monthly and get exclusive items that are not available on the website)

Buy All(if you are a “I gotta have it all” kind of gal, then this option is perfect! You will get all the new wrap designs including the Junior sizes)

TruShine Gel Enamel(this is Jamberry’s brand new product starting this month. You can buy individual gel enamel colors OR you can buy the kit. Jamberry gel enamels do not use UV light, instead they use an LED light which is safer for your nails and hardens the gel enamel in half the time)

and my absolute favorite…

Holiday wraps!!! There is so much to see, ooo and ahh over, start making those wishlists, get the word out to your girlfriends, and hey feel free to ask me any questions!

You can click on any of the links above, Jamberry offers a Buy 3 Get 1 Free for only wraps. This offer excludes the Collegiate, Sorority, Nail Art Studio Custom Made wraps and other Licensed nail wraps. But hey, that’s an awesome deal and great way to get some Christmas shopping done!

Hope you all have a blessed day!!

Holy Cow, LC/GF Brownies!

No joke, this is a great recipe and one that I was skeptical of! Y’all know I’m not a chocolate fan but there is that occasion when I do like a little something chocolaty, especially if it has peanut butter. These are perfect and turned out beautifully!

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Fudgy Brownies–LC, GF, SF

Yields: 24
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups almond flour/meal
6 Tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 eggs
2 cups Stevia in the Raw
1 tsp real vanilla extract(optional)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line 9×13 baking dish with release foil, set aside. In a large bowl melt butter and chocolate chips together in the microwave for 2 minutes. Whisk together to melt remaining chips, set aside.
In a medium bowl combine almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt(I just used a pinch since I used salted butter). Set aside.
In another medium bowl add eggs, stevia and vanilla extract. Use hand or stand mixer and combine till mixture is a creamy lemon color. Pour egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture. Use hand or stand mixture to mix completely. With a silicon spatula, fold in the dry ingredients. DO NOT STIR. You don’t want to kill the air you’ve incorporated already, be gentle and just fold the dry in slowly. Once everything is completely mixed together, pour into your foil lined pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides. You can insert a small sharp knife or cake tester into the center. If there’s a little batter on the knife that’s ok, these are supposed to be fudgy. Enjoy!!

These are to die for! The texture is lighter than the regular brownies I make(from the recipe on the Baker’s Unsweetened chocolate box), but that’s mostly because of the almond flour. Almond flour is so fine and light, even when there are tiny bits of almonds in the flour, the texture is still so light. Now, these are strictly a treat these are great with your morning coffee, for dessert, or even a snack! Pair it with your favorite low carb ice cream(if you are allowed to have any), enjoy with some strawberries on the side, or a tall glass of milk(unsweetened almond milk works too)!

Enough hype, what’s the nutritional info?! Get ready!

Calories: 148
Fat: 14g
Carbohydrates: 4g
Fiber: 2g
Net Carbs: 2g

HA! 2g net carbs per square! If you want to get technical it’s 2.2g but hey who ever counts the number after the decimal?! Yep, these are a keeper going into my tried and true folder πŸ˜€

Let me know if you make these and what you think about them! Hope you all have blessed day!!!


UPDATE::

Tonight I made these brownies again, only this time I used King Arthur Flour Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa. It is the best cocoa I have ever used! 1 net carb for 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Which is the same as Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Thankfully there was nothing to recalculate and the results were absolutely amazing!

  

These are not eggy at all, they are a bit dense, and definitely fudgy! The perfect guilt free treat ☺️ Hope you all enjoy!

UPDATE!!!

If you would like to make these into cheesecake brownie squares, make the brownie batter as is above and before you bake it add this cheesecake mixture on top:

2 pkgs full fat cream cheese, softened

6 tblsp granulated stevia(or prefered sweetener equivalent)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Cream together all the ingredients in a medium bowl and dollop the cheesecake mixture over the brownie batter. Take a butter knife and swirl the cheesecake mixture into the brownie mixture. Bake for 26-31 minutes or until cheesecake top is cracked and produces a slight jiggle. 

Cool completely before storing in the fridge covered. 

I made these for Father’s Day and they were a MASSIVE hit! The brownies alone are amazing but when you add the cheesecake topping to it, have mercy it just takes these brownies to another level of awesomeness! 

I did have to bake mine for 31 minutes, please note that every oven is different and test the center for doneness. I used a sharp knife and after 31 minutes the cheesecake layer was mostly set as was the brownie layer. Still a bit gooey which just adds tos the yumminess! 


Enjoy!