Anxiety

Walking

In the hope that it would help others, I have pulled together an overview of my experience in dealing with anxiety. I wanted to be informative and helpful, so I compiled a list of my symptoms, what I think contributed to the anxiety and also what ended up helping me manage it. I am luckily now over the insomnia and nightly panic attacks, but I know I will forever be someone who has a tendency to have anxiety. Here and there, it will crop up, but hopefully I have tools in place to address it before it takes over. 

 

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Symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts, constant worrying
  • Pounding heart, body in “fight or flight” at all times
  • Panic attacks – chest seizing and shortness of breath, worse at night when trying to sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Wired but tired feeling

What contributed to the anxiety:

  • Daily high stress with work 
  • Long, physical, exhausting days in the kitchen, running around getting business off the ground
  • Skipping meals (usually breakfast and lunch) only eating once per day
  • Not sleeping well or enough – part of a vicious cycle of less sleep, more anxiety, more anxiety, less sleep
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • Lack of days off, time to relax or decompress
  • No time for outside hobbies or fun 
  • Lack of self care or prioritizing own health

Suffice it to say, I was running on fumes. I did maintain a super clean diet during this time, although I was definitely not eating enough. I think this is one thing that helped me not completely go off the deep end. I’m not quite sure when I actually realized all this was a huge problem, but it became clear I needed to address it. 

 Combatting the anxiety – I worked on these 1 at a time and it took a while to add them all into my life:

  • Started with acupuncture to help me sleep, as this was one one of the worst symptoms
  • Was given a blend of Chinese herbs to also help me relax and sleep (given by my acupuncturist) – adaptogens such as reishi, maca, ashwaghanda, ginseng, rhodiola, and holy basil can help combat stress and anxiety
  • Started taking magnesium by Natural Calm to handle stress and help with sleep
  • Worked on a nightly routine that was conducive to sleep: less technology, taking a bath, quiet, dark bedroom
  • Began reducing caffeine (this was a long process but even going down to 1 cup daily made a huge difference)
  • Weekly yoga class or some form of self care such as a sauna
  • Started meditating
  • Remembering to slow down and eat. Also started to address gut issues
  • Stepped away from stressful and anxiety inducing relationships in my life
  • Made some changes with work to reduce stress
  • Adopted a rescue kitty! (animals are magical)
  • Started riding horses after a 10 year hiatus. Getting back to a hobby I love was a lifesaver
  • Making time for socializing and fun (imagine that)

horse

There are probably more details I am forgetting, but these feel the most important.

All this work was then followed by more work on my health that I had to face. Some of the lasting ‘damage’ that I am still working on:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Exacerbation of gut issues
  • Compromised immune function
  • Weight gain
  • Still easily startled and rattled
  • Periodic sleep issues and nightly worrying

I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone, but I know many people deal with similar issues. As I gain more perspective on what I went through, my hope is that somehow it can be used to benefit others. The worst feeling when I was awake at 3 a.m was that of being alone in my problems and that no one else was ‘crazy’ like I was. Recognizing that many of us have this shared experience can help with the recovery process and hopefully, hearing a bit of what I experienced can in some way be of service. 

 

Pork Apple & Sage Breakfast Patties

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One of my challenges during the week when I leave the house very early is having breakfast. It’s early, I’m not hungry, I don’t have time (or the desire) to cook something right then and there…. so working on the habit of prepping breakfast ahead of time has been a welcome challenge for 2018. Cue this recipe which can be made in advance and just kept on hand ready to go. I made a large batch, froze some of the raw patties and cooked some for the days ahead. This way, when I need more I’ll pull the rest out of the freezer. Additionally, I kept this recipe simple so you can make them quickly, and of course I stuck extra veggies in there! I hope you enjoy. 

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Pork Apple & Sage Breakfast Patties
 
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A clean, healthy and Whole30 compliant egg-free breakfast recipe.
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 lb ground pork (or sub chicken or turkey)
  • 3 apples, grated
  • 3 ribs celery, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 handfuls spinach, finely chopped
  • Optional: ⅓ cup chopped cooked bacon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Form patties about 1.5 - 2 oz in size and place on a baking sheet pan (I find using an ice cream scoop works really well for this).
  4. Bake until reaches an internal temp of 165 - about 25 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your patties. If you cut open a meatball, it should no longer be pink in the center.
  5. *My oven cooks fast because it is convection, so mine were done in 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Bangers N Mash

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Bangers1

This recipe is simple yet oh so satisfying. You can’t beat mashed potatoes and gravy, can you? I am really excited to share this gravy recipe since it is not only gluten and dairy free, but it is made without using any type of paleo flour at all. My digestive system doesn’t agree with almond flour and I try to avoid using almonds in general. Why’s that? Their sustainability is not so great and they are being so overused these days (if you haven’t looked into more information on the California almond industry, I recommend it if you like to learn). I also tend to not feel great from coconut flour either, but I know some people are fine with it. For the sake of this recipe, I wanted a gravy that was strictly based on veggies and broth. Voila! I recommend making extra gravy and keeping it around to  add to meals during the week or freeze it for future use. 

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Bangers N Mash
 
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A simple healthy recipe that is gluten free, paleo and Whole30 compliant
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
  • Gravy:
  • ¼ tsp coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cup yellow onion
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 3 each garlic
  • 2 cups potatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 ½ Tbl fresh sage
  • ½ tsp dry sage
  • ¾ tsp dry thyme
  • 18 oz broth
  • 1 Tbl coconut aminos
  • 2 Tbl coconut milk
  • Mash:
  • 2 lb white sweet potatoes or white potatoes
  • 1 cup broth, warmed
  • 2 -3 Tbl ghee
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup coconut milk, optional
  • Bangers:
  • 8 sausages of choice (make sure compliant if doing a Whle30)
  • 1 tsp ghee
Instructions
  1. Gravy:
  2. In a medium pot, heat coconut oil pver medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and sweat until softened, then add the celery and garlic, sauté 5 minutes.
  4. Add the potato, salt, pepper, herbs and stir together, then add the broth.
  5. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft.
  6. Remove from heat, add the aminos and coconut milk.
  7. Use an immersion blender to puree, or transfer carefully to a blender and puree.
  8. Mash:
  9. Chop potatoes into 2 inch chunks, put in a pot and cover with water (peeled or unpeeled, your choice).
  10. Bring to a boil and simmer until soft. Strain, then place in mixing bowl. Whisk in broth slowly, then add ghee and salt. Add coconut milk if using for extra creaminess. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  11. Bangers:
  12. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the ghee.
  13. When pan is hot, add the sausages. Sear until nice and brown on one side, then flip and sear second side. Reduce heat, cover pan with a lid and finish cooking sausages to an internal temp of 165.

 

 

 

 

Hot Wings

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Party wings, hot wings, chicken wings, Super Bowl essentials…….Whatever you want to call them, these make the perfect party appetizer without any of the sugar and crap ingredients that come with store bought wings. I worked on this recipe for a party some clients of mine hosted, and I will definitely be making them next weekend for my husband’s birthday / Super Bowl extravaganza. 

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Hot Wings
 
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A healthy, Whole30 and paleo friendly recipe for chicken wings that makes a great appetizer.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 3-4 Appetizer Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb chicken wings
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • ½ tsp dry thyme
  • 1 Tbl coconut aminos
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbl avocado oil
  • 1 Tbl hot sauce (Cholula or Frank's are good options)
  • QUICK RANCH:
  • ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp coconut aminos
  • 1-2 tsp fresh minced chives (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix all together in a bowl.
  2. Marinate 15 minutes.
  3. Roast at 425 15-20 minutes until browned and reaches internal temperature of 165.
  4. Broil 2-3 minutes.
  5. *Note: all ovens cook at varying temperatures and intensities. My oven is convection and it cooks hotter and faster than many other ovens. You may want to increase the cooking time if your oven tends to take longer to cook food or to brown the skin of chicken.
  6. RANCH:
  7. Mix all ingredients and chill

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Italian Meatball “Sub”

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I’m not sure where the idea for this recipe came from, but here it is. Maybe because I’m bored with my dinners lately and felt like making something fun? It is definitely fun to make and fun to eat it too, so there’s that, and it reminds me a bit of a chicken parm meatball sandwich I used to eat as a teenager. Mmmmmmmm. Except this one is free of all the glutenous, dairy-ous ingredients and is Whole30 compliant. Hope you enjoy! 

 Sub1

Italian Meatball "Sub"
 
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An easy, paleo, Whole30 healthy version of an Italian meatball sub.
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 2 tsp italian herb seasoning
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black peppr
  • 6 Tbl tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (make sure no sugar)
  • 3 each delicata squash
  • 1 Tbl avocado or olive oil
  • 2 Tbl coconut butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Slice delicata in half lengthwise, remove seeds, brush with the oil and roast face down until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Combine in a medium mixing bowl: ground meat, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste. Mix well and form meatballs - 3 meatballs per serving.
  4. Roast meatballs on a sheet pan until reach an internal temperature of 165, about 30-40 minutes.
  5. To assemble: put a small amount of sauce in the middle of each squash, then toss the meatballs with the rest of the sauce (use more if you want it really saucy!) - then place 3 meatballs in each squash.
  6. Sprinkle the coconut butter over top, then place the "subs" in the oven for about 5 minutes to slightly melt the coconut butter.
  7. You can eat the skin of delicata squash, just fyi, if you're down for the extra fiber!

 

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Broccoli

Cream of broccoli soup was one of my favorites for years. I used to work at Panera Bread when I was a young teenager and man did I love their version of this soup. When I gave up dairy, cream of broccoli soup faded into nothing but a distant memory…. until recently when I made a healthy version for my meal delivery business.  I decided to share it with you all since it’s a great time of year for soup. I’m finding that having soup on hand (either in the fridge or frozen) is an easy quick way to have a meal when I’m short on time, feeling lazy, or not super hungry. I have a bad habit of skipping lunch and I’m finding that soup has been a good solution, especially served in a big ol’ mug. I hope you enjoy! 

Broccoli 

Cream of Broccoli Soup
 
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A healthy version of a classic soup made Whole30 compliant and paleo friendly.
Author:
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 oz leek
  • 5 oz white sweet potato
  • 1 lb 2 oz Broccoli (including stems)
  • 1.5 each cloves garlic
  • .25 tsp salt
  • 1 cup bone broth (or veggie broth)
  • 8 oz water
  • 3 oz coconut milk
  • Optional: 2 handfuls baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Dice leek into about 1 inch pieces (it doesn't have to be perfect, it's getting pureed).
  2. Chop potato into 2 inch pieces.
  3. In a large pot, saute leek in the oil to soften over medium heat.
  4. Add potatoes and garlic – reduce heat to low and sauté a couple minutes.
  5. While the veggies saute, chop broccoli into 2 inch pieces.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients except coconut milk, cover and simmer over low until completely soft.
  7. Add coconut milk (and spinach if using) remove from heat, blend and taste for seasoning.

 

Caffeine Free Teeccino Latte

Teeccino

I know my body needs a total break from caffeine –  I’ve been working on improving my depleted hormone levels and I specifically need to address stress and cortisol in order to do so. I’ve made many changes to support this – diet, improving sleep, meditation, yoga, reconnecting with activities that bring me joy (horseback riding) – but for the past 5 years, coffe is the one thing I didn’t want to give up. But I know caffeine feeds into my stress issues. If you are curious to learn more more about hormones, I suggest checking out Dr. Jolene Brighton and Dr. Sara Gottfried. I learned about Dr. Brighten from this podcast about female hormones on the Balanced Bites podcast. So informative! 

I have also had to address gut health as well, which is so interesting to learn how strongly all these components of health are connected. You can read more about gut health from Chris Kresser here. I would have said my gut health was pretty good after making a bunch of dietary changes, but I have had some lingering issues from years ago that needed to get resolved, in addition to having SIBO, low digestive enzymes, low stomach acid, and low populations of beneficial gut microflora. Phew! It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion and you have to take it one step at a time. 

Teeccino

Suffice it to say, it’s time for a caffeine vacation. Here is a recipe for a coffee substitute that I found to be equally satisfying, along with some of the hacks I have tried to ease the transition off of caffeine. It’s a process and I’d say it takes conviction but I am feeling better already.

Caffeine Free Teeccino Latte
 
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A coffee and caffeine free frothy latte drink
Author:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 12 oz brewed teeccino
  • 1 – 2 scoops peptides
  • 1 tsp cacao
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 Tbl coconut milk (or other non dairy milk)
  • ½ tsp ghee or coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp ashwaghanda, maca or cordyceps of choice (Four Sigmatic) - optional
Instructions
  1. Brew the Teeccino tea bag just as you would make tea.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour and enjoy!

 

Hacks: please note, these are things that helped me, but you know your body best, so use your discretion.

  • I eased the transition off coffee by first slowly increasing the ratio of decaf beans in my coffee – this helped my body get used to less caffeine
  • I also slowly decreased the amount of the coffee I was drinking – even when it was 75% decaf, I still focused on needing less to get going in the morning. I went down from a 16 oz, to a 12 oz…..
  • Experiment with coffee substitutes that have less caffeine or no caffeine: Choffy, Teeccino, matcha lattes – things that can be frothed and made into fun, satisfying drinks helped me give up my frothy bulletproof coffee lattes.
  • Even decaf coffee gives you caffeine – I realized this once I stopped having my 2nd cup of decaf because I still got caffeine withdrawal headaches. So this is the time to go for tea instead – Tulsi Red Chai Masala is one of my favorites for afternoon.
  • First thing in morning, have some water with fresh lemon, and
  • Add pomegranate to your water to help with headaches (I bought dried powdered pomegranate powder like this).
  • Exercise and sunlight – I always felt better after getting in some exercise and getting some natural vitamin D from the sun – take a walk outside in the sunlight even in the winter. Take a friend for bonus points!
  • Saunas – if you have access to a sauna somewhere, go.do.it. I can book time in an infrared sauna in my neighborhood which is amazing. Helps you detox and feel amazing. Or take an Epsom salt bath.
  • Drink more water!
  • Fresh squeezed OJ or grapefruit juice – ideally you want it fresh and you want it organic. I felt so much better with a nice dose of natural vitamin c during the day. There is a connection between vitamin c and balanced hormones, so maybe that was playing into me feeling a little more energized without caffeine in the afternoons. Or maybe it’s a placebo.
  • Bone Broth – a hot beverage in general can help any headachy feelings from caffeine withdrawal, and with bone broth it’s win win because it’s also great for your gut.
  • If you’re into the extra woo-woo like me: meditation and yoga also helped me feel better during this time. Meditation calms your nervous system, calms your mind, balances your cortisol, and it tends to make me feel all around better. Yoga too – plus the movement gets your blood flowing and can really help with headaches.
  • Heart rate monitor: I bought one for some specific exercise work I am doing, but I started tracking my heart rate for fun at other times during the day (I am a total loser, I know). When I take 2 deep breaths, my heart rate goes down. Ad then, I noticed when I started decreasing caffeine, my heart rate was a little lower in general I am not 100% sure it’s the caffeine but the possible connection has been enough positive feedback for me to feel like I see a difference. It’s really interesting to be able to physically see an effect on your body – that’s what helps motivate change.
  • And finally – embrace the process! I’m trying to just ride along with the experience and not stress about how perfect I am or how quickly I can get off caffeine. This is ultimately an experiment in self-care, and part of that means don’t stress about it. Don’t judge yourself. If you hate matcha lattes, don’t feel like you’re supposed to drink them (I had a hard time with that flavor for a while but I have gotten used to it).
  • Let me know if you are also working on your hormones or reducing caffeine! The more we share, the more we can help one another.

Fish Chowder

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Running a meal delivery business presents a welcome challenge for tasty, creative seafood dishes. This dairy free white fish chowder is flavorful yet mild and is really easy to whip up. If you’re hesitant when it comes to seafood dishes, this is a really nice meal to try – trust me, I tested it on my husband and he is super picky about seafood. Hope you enjoy!

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Fish Chowder
 
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A healthy, dairy free, paleo version of chowder that is mild and easy to make.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb white fish, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp ghee or olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz onion, divided
  • 1 lb white sweet potato, cubed and divided
  • 4 oz celery
  • 4 oz carrot
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • water as needed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 pinch parsley, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Saute half the onion with oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add half the potato, then add enough water just to cover the potatoes.
  3. Simmer until very soft, then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender then set aside.
  4. Saute remaining onion, celery, carrot, garlic in ghee/oil about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining amount of potato, then the salt, and small amount water – just barely cover potatoes. Cover and gently simmer to soften the potatoes but don't overcook.
  6. When potatoes soft, add the pureed mixture back into pot, heat until warm over low heat.
  7. Add coconut milk and fish (over VERY LOW HEAT) – allow to heat just until fish is cooked, do not boil – only needs about 3 -4 mins. Fish is done when opaque.
  8. Taste for seasoning, salt as needed. Garnish with parsley.

Chicken Stew

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This is one of those failsafe, go-to recipes that is perfect for using up a whole roasted chicken. You get soup and broth all at once! I do suggest roasting the chicken ahead of time, pulling the meat off the bones and getting your broth going so you have it use in the soup. I usually make this soup out of leftover chicken from the day before. I’m all about transforming leftovers and saving money (and being more sustainable) by not wasting food.

Also, you can edit this dish seasonally by changing out the veggies that go into it – such as root veggies in the winter and zucchini in the summer. Once you get the hang of the technique, the actual measurements aren’t so important.

 ChickenStewNew

Chicken Stew
 
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A simple, healthy chicken stew recipe that is easy to make and, as always, gluten free.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs)
  • 3 Tbl avocado or olive oil
  • 1.5 cup chopped leek or onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery (small dice)
  • 2 cups chopped celery root, parsnip or other root vegetable (about 1 inch pieces)
  • 4 carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp dry thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 2 Tbl parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 - 3 cups broth
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place chicken in an oven safe dish, rub with 1 Tbl oil and 2 pinches salt.
  3. Roast chicken until 165 internal temp, about 1 hour. Allow to cool. This can also be done ahead of time.
  4. While chicken cools, prep your veggies. You will have chopped leek/onion, chopped celery, chopped carrot, chopped celery root/root vegetables.
  5. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil.
  6. Saute leek or onion for about 3 minutes, then add celery and stir for 2 minutes. Add celery root/root vegetable and carrot, a pinch of salt, and saute for several minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low, add ½ cup water, cover pot and allow veggies to simmer.
  8. This is a good time to pull the chicken meat off the bones.
  9. Quickly throw the bones into another large pot, cover with water and get boiling for broth if you don't already have broth on hand.
  10. When veggies are soft, add broth, chicken and herbs to the pot and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat, add your lemon, and check for seasoning - you may need to add salt.
  12. Note, if you don't already have chicken broth on hand, I suggest roasting the chicken ahead of time, pulling the meat off the bones, making broth, and then making the soup. This is why this recipe works really well with leftover chicken, so you have an extra day to make the broth.

 

 

Morning Glory Sweet Potato Muffins

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This is one of my favorite muffin recipes – not too sweet and even sneaks in some veggies. If you’re feeding a crowd that is used to more sugar, you can add 2 -4 Tbl of coconut sugar, although I always am in favor of less sugar whenever possible. NOTE: if you don’t have Cassava flour, you an do this recipe with all coconut flour. I use Let’s Do Organic coconut flour and Otto’s cassava flour.

 Muffins3

Morning Glory Sweet Potato Muffins
 
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A healthy, gluten free, grain free and nut free muffin recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 22 Muffins
Ingredients
  • 6 Tbl ground flax
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • .5 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 T cinnamon
  • 16.5 oz sweet potato puree
  • 15 eggs
  • ¾ c water
  • .5 cup maple syrup
  • .5 c coconut oil, melted
  • 4 oz grated carrot
  • 6 oz raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine sweet potato, egg, water and maple syrup in a separate mixing bowl.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry, whisking as you pour to incorporate and avoid clumps.
  5. Once it's pretty thick, switch to a spatula to mix.
  6. Slowly add the coconut oil, then the carrots and raisins.
  7. Portion into paper muffin liners in a muffin pan, top with pumpkin seeds if desired.
  8. Bake until puffed and firm, about 25 - 30 minutes.