Anyone who has been on the Paleo train for more than a minute has likely eaten their share of lettuce wrapped items. And while I too enjoy a good lettuce wrap from time to time, there are moments that just call for something a little more substantial.
The other day I picked up local grass fed beef and decided to kick off the end of summer with some grilled burgers. Because nothing helps me forget that this summer flew by in a nano second and that the leaves are already falling more than a thick juicy patty grilled on an open flame. It is the quintessential food of summer.
As I began assembling my burger toppings I felt a tinge of jealousy. While I should have been drooling over the smell of the grill I was actually feeling sorry for myself about the fact that I was about to eat yet another lettuce wrapped thing while my kids and husband enjoyed their burgers on a bun. So I made a quick u turn on the lettuce wrap and decided to try a different breed of burger, a plantain burger.
OMG yes! As soon as I bit into my burger all jealousy subsided. Not only was I more satisfied than I am after my usual lettuce wraps, I was in flavor heaven. I actually felt sorry for the rest of my family not eating their burger on a plantain. Seriously, I can’t believe I haven’t done this before!
The key to a plantain that will hold up as a burger bun is to use a very starchy plantain, aka a green one. Once your plantains have reached the point of yellow with black spots they’ll probably be too soft to hold all your toppings. Yellow plantains also take on more of a sweetness that lends itself better to sweet flavours, imo.
My favorite way to enjoy plantains is twice fried, also known as tostones. They become soft and fluffy on the inside with a great crunchy shell, the perfect vessel for all your burger needs. One full plantain is a good size for one burger so if you make these for a group make sure you get a bunch.
For one burger you will need:
One tbsp coconut oil
Heat your oil over medium low heat
Slice your plantain in half and slowly start to brown in the hot oil. Don’t cook it too fast as burned plantains take on a bitter flavour, allow it to caramelize slow and low.
When your plantain is golden brown on all sides remove from the heat and place on a paper towel to cool for a minute.
Using the back of a glass gently flatten the plantain to just over ¼” thick.
Return to the oil and continue frying slow and low until it super golden brown and crispy.
Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt while still hot.
Peanut butter is one of those foods right up there with chocolate. Creamy, delicious, fattening and all over the place when it comes to health claims. Is it healthy or not? It seems every week new article are published citing health benefits and health concerns pertaining to the stuff.
I’m of the camp that believes a diet rich in variety is the key to health. As long as any allergies or intolerances are avoided, food should be explored, enjoyed and consumed with gratitude. Bottom line… peanut butter is delicious and a girls gotta eat.
These cookies are a childhood favorite reinvented into a perfect little dessert. As with most of my recipes they are free of gluten and dairy but can’t make the claim of being paleo due to the legume-iness of peanuts. They are simple to make, contain just 5 ingredients and come together in a snap.
The jam filling is optional. These cookies really are amazing all on their own, but this rhubarb vanilla jam from Worthy seriously takes them to the next level. This is the best jam I have ever tried. hands. down. and you can order it directly through my friend Ashlee’s etsy shop here. I am not an affiliate for her… I just really like her jam!
1 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
Preheat your oven to 325
Cream the peanut butter and sugar together. If your peanut butter is unsalted or if you like a bit of extra salt with your sweet you can also add 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (recommended)
Stir in the egg, vanilla and baking soda. It should start to thicken up as it comes together.
Scoop out rough tablespoons of the dough, gently flatten them with a fork to about 1/4 ” thick.
Bake 10 minutes.
Allow to cool fully before spreading with jam and assembling your ‘sandwiches’. They are crumbly when warm but cool into the perfect hold-in-your-hand, soft, chewy cookies that you would expect from even the most glutenous and refined sugar rich recipe.
Some other delicious filling ideas are; Nutella, coconut whip cream or even more peanut butter. If you’re a pb fan, get into the kitchen and make these asap! And if you love them please pin and share.
This is one of those healthy recipes that is ALWAYS on rotation in my home. In fact, my non paleo, eats-all-the-things husband loves these so much that he makes sure to always pick up extra expensive almond flour when he’s at the store so I can whip these up on a whim.
This recipe takes simple, paleo crackers to the next level. It incorporates a trio of my favorite omega 3 rich seeds into a simple almond flour base which helps better balance the omega ratio of an all around delicious cracker. Even if I ate gluten, even if I ate dairy, I would still make these crackers. They are that good.
These crackers are:
Buttery and melt in your mouth-y while still having a nice crunch when you first bit down on them
Stiff and structured so they won’t disintegrate when you dip em’.
Gluten free, grain free and paleo.
So very easy my 9 year old can make them
1 ¼ cup almond flour
2 tbsp ground chia seed
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
2 tbsp nutritional yeast ½ tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 325
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Until it forms a loose crumbly mixture.
Using clean hands begin to knead the dough together. It may seem at first like there is not enough liquid but fight any temptation too add water, it will come together.
Place your dough between two sheets of parchment and gently roll out until about 1/8″ thick.
Cut into roughly even rectangular shapes and place on a parchment covered sheet pan. Leave a bit of space between each cracker to help them crisp up.
Bake in your preheated oven for 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating. They will crisp up a bit as they cool.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature, they will keep for about 5 days, however don’t be surprised if they get gobbled up right away.
Don’t be fooled by the grainy photo, this is a killer way to use up old bananas… Because who among us doesn’t have some bananas on their counter top slowly turning brown and gross?
I have fed my compost with far too many over ripe bananas in my day and to be honest, I find banana bread can get boring, yes, even chocolate banana bread.
This recipe was created in an effort to juj up a classic banana bread and simultaneously satisfy my constant craving for cinnamon buns. I love how moist and flavorful these turned out, even my gluten loving husband approved and has been bringing these in his lunches.
The key here is the mini muffin size, it provides the perfect ratio of cinnamon banana cake to crunchy pecan streusel topping. Drizzle it with some creamy coconut vanilla icing for an extra decadent treat.
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil or grass fed butter melted
2 organic eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cassava flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or grass fed butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325
Prepare the streusel topping, gently melt the fat in a saucepan, remove from heat allow to cool slightly, stir in nuts, sugar and cinnamon
Lightly mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined
Grease two mini muffin tins
Fill each tin with roughly two teaspoons of the cake batter and top with 1/2 tsp of the pecan streusel
This is a tough one to write but I’m giving you some realness today. Of all the PCOS and hashimotos symptoms I have dealt with, the hair thinning has been the hardest for me. It was also the canary in the coal mine, showing up in my early 20s as my very first indicator that something in my body was imbalanced.
I grew up hiding behind a thick wavy mane of shiny auburn locks. My hair became such an integral part of my identity that losing it felt like losing a dear friend. I grieved my hair. I denied it. I wore strange hairstyles and ugly bandanas. And no matter how good the rest of me felt, it was there in the background softly hissing in my ear that I was ugly, worthless and damaged.
I had naively thought that doctors would be able to quickly identify the cause and send me on my way with a simple solution. But my blind faith in doctors turned to despair after years of hopping from doc to doc that led to no conclusion and very little hair on my head.
It may sound so shallow to someone with good hair, but those with hair problems understand, hair loss can put you on a psychological roller coaster and make you rethink your entire life. Hair loss sparked my interest in nutrition, and it eventually led to both my PCOS and hashimotos diagnoses, albeit a decade later.
Perhaps the most frustrating part has been my unique situation as a working hairstylist. Seeing and touching beautiful, normal manes every day and knowing I’m still so far from that has sent me reeling into episodes of deep depression and crushing anxiety on multiple occasions. But being a hairstylist has also given me a unique advantage, as I’ve learned a handful of tips and tricks for rocking thinning hair that I use on myself and my clients daily. Most of my clients don’t believe me when I tell them I have experienced super excessive hair loss “your hair looks super full?” they always say with a puzzled look on their faces. And it’s true, I’ve found a combination of lifestyle adjustments and styling tricks to help me rock the hair I do have, stop shedding excessively and even wake up a few sleeping follicles.
So please, don’t lose hope. Thanks to a healthier lifestyle and a few hair tweaks I can actually say I am in a much better place hair wise and am ready to dish my tips in order to help anyone else who needs a boost in the follicular department.
As I write this, I am sitting at a pool with my hair down. Not slicked back into a teeny weeny ponytail that has come to be my default for years. Nope. My hair is down, and no one is giving me the side eye or staring awkwardly at my scalp during conversation. And while I’m not going to be cast in a Pantene commercial anytime soon, I can honestly say this is one of the few times in over a decade that my hair looks normal. I also have lots of fine frizzy regrowth, that most people would find irritating but is a very welcome addition to my particular head.
This is a two part blog post, but today I’ll be talking more about the diet/lifestyle side of things, because there is no sense trying to cover hair loss while still thinning excessively. It’s like shovelling your walks in a snowstorm and ain’t nobody got time for that.
As a student of holistic nutrition one of my favorite quotes is ‘what we eat can either be the safest most powerful medicine, or the slowest poison.’ This speaks volumes about the state of modern health and how important a healthy diet is to staving off disease and even reversing existing health issues.
Heathy eating should be a combination of adding the right things into our diets while simultaneously removing the wrong things. Finding a diet that works for you and your own health objectives can be a long process and I highly recommend working with a health professional such a holistic nutritionist, health coach, or naturopath on your journey. Foods that are harming your particular body may be perfectly healthy for other individuals so don’t just go crazy eliminating everything in the world, but also don’t assume that you can continue eating the way you always have because you don’t have any major symptoms. Spoiler alert, hair loss is a symptom, especially when it manifests at a young age in a person with no genetic predisposition.
I have spent years of trial and error trying to fix my own hair probs and know how confusing all the conflicting information out there can be so I’ve complied my very best advice to start restoring your hair and your health today.
Take it slow, celebrate even the small victories and remember, we are all so much more than our hair.
1. Limit your intake of foods that cause inflammation
If you are dealing with unexplained hair loss, gluten dairy and grains should be the first things you think about removing from your diet. Sometimes even healthy foods can cause inflammation in people with intolerances so it is wise to be tested for allergies. You can do your own testing for free by completing an elimination diet, and carefully observing your reaction to foods during the reintroduction phase. I completed a whole 30 diet to identify some of my intolerances, I also ditched ALL GLUTEN and almost all DAIRY and GRAINS with the exception of grass fed butter and some occasional rice. I know giving up these three ingredients may seem super limiting, but trust me, it’s not. That’s why I’m here writing this blog. Cooking without these things has opened a whole new realm of food possibilities and my food horizons are expanding everyday.
2. Heal your gut
So much modern disease starts in the gut and healing your gut lining is a super important step when it comes to healing chronic inflammation. A healthy gut is better able to absorb nutrients form your food. You can eat all the kale and broccoli in the world but if your gut is compromised you are probably only absorbing a fraction of the nutrients. Heal and seal that gut lining! Make BONE BROTH, PROBIOTICS, and FERMENTED FOODS a part of your DAILY diet. I almost always have a slow cooker simmering away with some grass fed bones and fragrant veggies. I will literally ladle it into my mug and sip it throughout the day like tea. I also make my own kraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Take a good quality probiotic, no, it won’t be cheap but you should feel a difference within a few weeks.
3. Improve your bodies acid alkaline balance
Your blood maintains it’s own PH of between 7.35 and 7.45 but this doesn’t mean eating all the acid forming foods will have no effect on your body. An overly acidic body can leach vitamins and minerals from organs and bones as well as lead to all kinds of issues including unhealthy hair. One of the easiest ways to obtain PH balance is to squeeze lemon into hot water and drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. It sounds strange because lemons are acidic, but they actually help increase your bodies PH. You also want to aim for about 50% of your diet to be alkaline (mineral rich fresh veggies and fruit) Invest in a water filter that puts important minerals back into your water and aim to drink at least 8 glasses daily but push yourself to get a full 3 litres.
4. Get all of your aminos acids
Aminos are the building blocks of protein and thus the building blocks of our hair, our hair is literally made of protein after all. To better assimilate protein, avoid eating foods that require different digestive juices at the same time. Focus on eating simply. This way your body can optimally digest each ingredient you are taking in. This may seem strange and go completely against the way you grew up eating but try to avoid eating protein and excess carbs at the same meal, try to eat only one animal protein at a time and don’t consume protein with excess fat. One easy way to get readily usable aminos into your body is by drinking COLLAGEN PEPTIDES daily. I rotate between marine collagen and organic grass fed bovine collagen. I mix it into my coffee or tea every morning and stir it into my bone broth throughout the day. It tastes a bit weird, but not terrible, and I definitely notice a difference in not just my hair but also nails and skin when I am consistent with it. It is super important to eat only organic, pastured proteins when consuming animal products including collagen peptides.
5. Take the proper supplements
In a perfect world we would obtain the majority of our nutrition from the foods we eat but people experiencing unexplained hair loss likely need a bit of help. Modern agriculture has depleted the nutrients in our foods while genetic modification, pesticides and herbicide use has wreaked havoc on our guts. Being overweight and simultaneously malnourished is becoming more and more common in developed nations and this can lead to a wide range of ailments, including hair loss. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for women experiencing hair loss are Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B vitamins (in particular biotin) Iodine, Selenium and Zinc. It is wise to get tested for deficiencies prior to supplementation, but when in doubt adding a high quality, organic multivitamin is a great place to start.
In my particular case, I have been chronically deficient in Iron for years. Apparently this is fairly common in young women with diffuse hairloss! With over a year of consistent daily supplement my shedding has slowed tremendously but my functional doctor recommends I aim for a ferratin of at least 70 for optimal regrowth ( I still have a ways to go). I also found it helpful to remove my copper IUD to lessen my monthly menstrual flow as Iron is lost with blood. Addressing deficiencies can take time so the sooner you identify them the better. Supplements are not regulated and you could be doing yourself no favors or even harm by choosing the lowest priced option. Make sure your supplements are of a high quality, choose organic whenever possible and pay attention any fillers and additives.
6. Give your digestive system a little boost
Bottom line, you can do all of the above but if your body is not able to properly break down and utilize the nutrition you give it, you will feel like you’re getting nowhere. Taking digestive enzymes, probiotics, sipping on water with apple cider vinegar, and drinking ginger tea are all useful ways to increase your stomach acid and better utilize your foods nutrition. This kind of ties back in to healing your gut lining but I feel it also deserves to be highlighted. Something I never used to do and now am very conscious of, is slowing down to eat. I used to be a gross eater, inhaling the next bite before even swallowing the last. Now I chew my food well, and always try to say a quick prayer of gratitude and blessing before each meal. Gobbling down food at lightning speed stresses our digestive system and slows down its ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Don’t go too long between meals, practice gratitude and mindful eating.
7. Work up a sweat
Not all exercise will be beneficial for all people. (It’s kind of like diet) But that is not a free pass to forgo consistent exercise. Try a few different things and listen to your bodies cues. If you feel like absolute rubbish after a HIIT class maybe give yoga a go. A good exercise routine should make you feel energised rather than depleted. It should also be something that you truly enjoy so that you keep up with it. I love soccer, Pilates and solo gym workouts so that’s what I stick with. And don’t forget to sweat. The process of sweating itself can be profoundly therapeutic and help your body shed toxins as it sheds fat. I love infrared saunas and also go in the steam room at my gym at least twice a week. Preface your sweat sessions with dry brushing and you are way ahead of the game.
8. Get your mind right
Spend some time every day in meditation and visualise the hair you want. When you see a beautiful head of hair, don’t feel jealousy or resentment (been there) instead give them a mental, or verbal compliment and be grateful for the hair you do have. The things we focus on are the things we attract to us, as Mother Theresa said, people should be pro peace rather than anti- war. I know it’s hard but try to stop fixating on how thin your hair is. Learn to rock the hair you do have, have fun with it, try out extensions, wigs, and color. Allow yourself to learn from the hair loss and embrace the chance you’ve been given to transform yourself both internally and externally.
It has been over a year since I have implemented all of the above in my own life and I have seen obvious improvements. That being said, my hair is still not what it used to be in my teens (my hair started falling out at 20!) Hair grows in cycles and it can take a long time to see tangible changes so I am treating it as a journey rather than a destination and am enjoying all the many health benefits along the way. I’ll be back soon with some killer styling tips and more hair healthy grain free recipes.