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Simple Paleo Double Chocolate Chai Muffins – Dairy-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Recipe

Simple Paleo Double Chocolate Chai Muffins – Dairy-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Recipe

Chocolate and Halloween go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly Happy Halloween ya’ll! Here’s a riddle for ya: what’s scarier than Halloween…? A Halloween without chocolate! Can’t even imagine. Add a craving for baked goods with some fall spices and bam you’ve got double chocolate […]

Gut Healing Green Smoothie with Ginger, Banana, and Avocado

Gut Healing Green Smoothie with Ginger, Banana, and Avocado

Earlier this week I had a 24 hour stomach bug thing – NOT fun! And just before my birthday :/ (Fortunately I felt much better on my bday 🙂 So all week I’ve been going easy on my stomach. One thing I’ve been making every […]

Paleo (ish) Banana Bread: Vegan, Gluten/ Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Recipe

Paleo (ish) Banana Bread: Vegan, Gluten/ Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Recipe

What do you do with a bunch of brown bananas? Make (paleo) banana bread of course!

My friend was about to toss a whole bunch of bananas that were well beyond ripe. I hate watching food to waste. I simply said those would be perfect for banana bread.

My friend paused and held them up – “Well do you want these for banana bread then?”

Take those Brown Bananas and Bake that Paleo (ish) Banana Bread

It hadn’t initially been a serious comment on my part, being dead summer in Miami and not exactly prime baking weather.

But I obviously took the bananas, quite happily thinking of the prospect of warm banana bread despite the heat.

Banana bread brings me back to childhood. Banana bread was the one thing my mom would bake on random occasions not associated with a holiday or birthday. Probably just because the bananas were going bad!

I remember salivating at the smell and devouring her banana bread, but of course it was a typical recipe with sugar, refined flour, and butter. As were all baked goods back in the day.

Ingredient Swaps and Variations: How to Make Banana Bread Both Healthy and Delicious

As delicious as it was, I steer clear of those things these days. But making a paleo-ish, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free version of banana bread didn’t seem like it would be too tricky.

Sure enough, it’s a win in my book! And according to my friends 🙂 It’s obviously never going to be a perfect swap taste-wise, but that’s not really the point. It’s still full-on banana-bready indulgence that your body will actually thank you for – as well as your taste buds of course!

We were having people over so I decided to make three different variations – plain paleo banana bread, walnut banana bread, and chocolate chip banana bread. They were all fab. Since I was making muffins out of the batter, it was also pretty easy to separate the batter! Just filled in a few with the plain batter, then took a small amount and blended with walnuts, then added the chocolate chips to the rest. Voila 3 in 1.

Why it is Paleoish and not Paleo Banana Bread, and why I don’t care so much about Labels

And if any of you are thinking this basically sounds like paleo banana bread why doesn’t she just call it that? (Or maybe that’s just me! 😉 Well I had a gluten-free flour mix in the freezer that I’ve been wanting to use up. And because it contains garbanzo bean flour, I’m pretty sure it’s not quite paleo. But a mix of fine-ground almond flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot flour would do the trick.

While I eat on the average pretty much paleo, I’m not super strict and I don’t really label my diet. I eat very plant-heavy, but I do eat some organic, responsibly raised and sourced animal protein. I eat what my body wants. And labeling my diet can be too restricting, slash too confusing, slash plain old annoying! I stick to some general healthy parameters – aka whole, real food, unprocessed, unrefined, organic as much as possible but I just do what I can, and obviously a little room for chocolate (even though I’m not really supposed to have it these days!).

And sometimes what my body wants is a warm chocolate chip banana bread muffin slathered in peanut butter and chocolate ghee!! Seriously can’t stop won’t stop with this combo.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe – you can make regular bread or muffins, whatever you prefer or have in your pantry. I’ll adjust the time for both.

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Paleoish Banana Bread – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Recipe

A cleaned up version of a classic favorite – banana bread! 

Course Breakfast, Dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 small, 3 medium) the riper and the browner the skins the better!
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar optional
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups gluten free flour I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp monk fruit sweetener all natural ground stevia leaf or lucuma could work

Instructions

  1. Make the flax eggs by combining the water and flax in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. 

  2. While the 'eggs' are setting, preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9x5 pan or muffin tin with coconut oil.

  3. Combine all the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. 

  4. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. 

  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until there are no dry clumps – do not overmix. 

  6. Mix in your optional add-ins (walnuts, dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, pecans, or any combination you like!). 

  7. Scoop the batter into your pan. If you're making muffins, fill them to about 3/4 full. It'll make around 18 muffins. 

  8. Bake the bread for about 50-60 minutes (I'd check at about 45), and the muffins for 18-20 minutes. 

  9. Store in the fridge for up to a week. 

Recipe Notes

**can sub regular eggs if not vegan

Hope you love and let me know what you think!

And if you’re looking for some other yummy treats, check these out:

 

What it’s Like to Have Adrenal Fatigue – A Day in the Life

What it’s Like to Have Adrenal Fatigue – A Day in the Life

Always tired. Always wired. Can’t sleep. Can’t think. Irritable. Moody. Always reaching for the caffeine just to get through the day. Overwhelmed and not even sure you’ll actually make it through the day. Sound at all familiar? Probably does to at least a lot of […]

Gazpacho – Cold Raw Soup with a Kick

Gazpacho – Cold Raw Soup with a Kick

Cold soup sounds a little odd at first. Raw soup sounds like one of those new-aged health fads. But in reality, there’s nothing new or odd about gazpacho, a classic dish in Spanish cuisine. While on vacation the other day, my mom served her homemade […]

Adrenal Fatigue: What is it and what are the symptoms?

Adrenal Fatigue: What is it and what are the symptoms?

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Tired after you wake up in the morning. Brain fog. Inability to focus. Reliance on caffeine to get you through the day.

Stress. Burnout. Fatigue. Inexplicable symptoms yet clearly suboptimal health.

Sound familiar? I’m guessing it probably does, to a lot of you at least. Chances are you’re experiencing (or have at some point) adrenal fatigue, also known as hypoadrenia.

Chronic stress and lifestyle are the primary contributors to adrenal fatigue, which results from an overstimulation of the adrenals. Over time, it leads to inconsistent levels of cortisol – and out of whack hormones.

Which means you probably feel like crap and can’t figure out why.

The biological underpinnings of adrenal fatigue

Over time, chronic stress taxes the adrenal glands and the HPA axis, which disrupts cortisol production and the functioning of other hormones. Initially the body produces excess cortisol to cope with stress.

This eventually depletes the body’s resources, and cortisol levels drop without enough building blocks to keep up with demand. Depending on the stage and severity, cortisol levels can also become dysregulated, with irregular peaks in the evening.

My Own Road to an Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosis

Well my own journey and telltale signs could be the subject of a lengthy post – so I’ll stick to the basics and save that one for the near future. In a nutshell: I hit full-on burnout nearly three years ago. I was suffering from horrible insomnia, felt perpetually stressed out and anxious, and I could barely focus or concentrate on work. Frankly, it got to the point where I could barely get through the day.

One day I woke up and my body felt completely heavy and drained while my head felt completely spacey. My gut told me that if I got in the car to drive to work, I wouldn’t make it. I stayed in bed all day, because that’s all I could do.

I hit burnout a full three years ago – my adrenals were fried even then. So why did it take so long for me to get this diagnosis? Well, I took a little detour through cancerland first. So that kinda threw all the systems in my body for a loop – who knew what was what.

And the cold hard truth is… pretty much everyone in in New York is stressed, so complaining of stress or insomnia isn’t exactly something the doctors pay much attention to. In fact, it’s a badge of honor for some.

My gut told me I needed to slow down, so I fought tooth and nail to cut my work schedule back and carve out some more legitimate boundaries. I tried to rest and relax and do more yoga. But I guess it was too little too late. It took a ‘real’ diagnosis of lymphoma to give me a major kick in the butt and make real changes to my life.

Adrenal Fatigue: The long road to healing

Fast forward to today – I’ve made tremendous strides on my healing journey. I’ve learned loads. I’ve healed respectably (perhaps impressively, to some) well from 600 hours of chemo. Gut healing took precedence. I figured the insomnia would eventually fall in line.

But the fact is I’ve been under-resourced, so picking all the pieces back up and putting the pieces back together has been quite a slow-going process. And navigating this convoluted road more or less on my own hasn’t been easy.

Fortunately, since I moved down to Miami, I’ve been thrown into a whole new world of health and healing. It wasn’t just the never-ending northeast winter keeping me down. It went deeper.

I’m still learning, still figuring things out, trial and error, every day. But the pieces are beginning to fit, and my symptoms fit ‘adrenal fatigue’ to a T. And apparently, healing adrenal fatigue takes time and patience.

The Adrenal Fatigue Controversy – Is it really a thing?

But before I dive in further, let’s address the fact that adrenal fatigue is not considered a ‘real’ diagnosis. Western medicine either views adrenal function as normal or in a state of complete failure – Addison’s disease.

Either-or. Black or white. Unfortunately we don’t live in a black-or-white kinda world. Especially when it comes to health, we live in a thousand-shades-of-gray kinda world. And we all know that something can function without functioning perfectly. Sure, I’m ‘functioning,’ but not optimally. Not even close.

The title of one study actually states: ‘Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review.’ This review of studies on adrenal fatigue available at the time found conflicting results, providing no definitive proof, diagnostic criteria, or accepted treatment protocol. Therefore it must not exist at all.

Well that’s what Western medicine would have us believe. No evidence of proof means it can’t exist. But actually that’s not how science works. We simply don’t have enough evidence to make them happy.

Adrenal fatigue: An untidy set of symptoms, an ambiguous diagnosis

This leads to one of the major difficulties with naming and diagnosing adrenal fatigue: symptoms can vary dramatically. And if there isn’t a clearly defined pathology, the medical community steers very clear of acknowledging a condition at all.

However if you think about what the adrenals are – glands that produce and regulate hormones – this ambiguity makes sense. Hormones impact almost every bodily function, so when you take a holistic view of seemingly disparate symptoms, impaired adrenal function actually begins to make a lot of sense.

Western medicine likes to tie things up in neat little boxes. This doctor deals with this box, that doctor deals with that one. One clearly defined set of symptoms – one diagnosis – one treatment protocol – ideally involving some kind of expensive surgery or pills.

The final nail in the coffin for adrenal fatigue – in the minds of Western medical practitioners – is that adrenal fatigue isn’t treated with medication. Treatment for adrenal fatigue consists mainly of diet and lifestyle shifts. There is most certainly a time and place for surgery or pills, however adrenal fatigue is not one of them.

Addison’s lies on the extreme end of the spectrum – where the adrenals are more or less injured or broken. But again, the absence of an extreme diagnosable condition does not imply perfect health. Adrenal fatigue lies on the ambiguous downward spiral between optimal health and crisis mode.

The Most Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue impacts both hormones and neurotransmitters. Because the endocrine (gland) system deposits hormones into the circulatory system, these changes can affect literally every single part of your body.

Even though we’ve acknowledged that symptoms can vary pretty widely when it comes to adrenal fatigue (again, because of the wide ranging effects of hormones), there are some common symptoms that most people experience.

The most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Persistant fatigue each day
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Over-reliance on caffeine and other stimulants
  • Cravings for salty foods
  • Higher energy levels in the evenings
  • Weakened immune system

Other common symptoms and precursors of adrenal fatigue may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Exposure to environmental toxins and pollution
  • Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
  • Food sensitivities
  • Frequent urination
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Lines in your fingertips
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low sex drive
  • Lower back pain
  • Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
  • Poor diet (including crash diets and inconsistent nutrition)
  • Prolonged stress due to financial hardship, bad relationships or work or home environment; any conditions that cause feelings of helplessness
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Stressful experiences like death of loved one, divorce or surgery
  • Surgery
  • Weight gain

So as you can see, symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be incredibly wide-ranging. Everyone has their unique circumstances and susceptibilities which explains why certain systems and bodily functions may be impacted in one person with adrenal fatigue, and totally different symptoms may show up in the next.

Stay tuned… in the next post I’ll detail all the telltale signs and symptoms I experienced over the years, and what I’ve been doing so far on this ongoing journey to heal adrenal fatigue!

Candida Cleanse Anti-Candida Vegetable Broth: Delicious Cleansing and Gut-Healing Soup Recipe

Candida Cleanse Anti-Candida Vegetable Broth: Delicious Cleansing and Gut-Healing Soup Recipe

Seriously, I never thought I’d get excited about a vegetable broth. But this anti-candida vegetable broth is legit delicious! It’s also super easy to make, cleansing, and honestly would just make a great first course! But the point is to help clear out candida. Ok […]

Vegan Smoky Walnut Taco Meat

Vegan Smoky Walnut Taco Meat

The other week I met my friend for yoga and dinner at a vegan café in Coconut Grove. It’s an adorable spot, with smoothies, salads, and even vegan pizza. They have so many customizable options, so I decided to create my own salad. Walnut meat […]

Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie

Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie

Mango smoothie anyone? Mango trees are abundant down here, and it is full-on mango season in Miami. Mangoes are rather high in sugar as far as fruit goes, so as much as I love it I don’t tend to eat loads.

However I’ve been gifted mangoes straight from the trees lately. These fresh-off-the-tree mangoes are especially sweet and delicious.

So when I got a special delivery of ripe mangoes fresh off my my friend’s tree yesterday, I knew it was time to make a mango smoothie!

kale gingner mango smoothie recipe

Under the Mango Tree Sippin on a Mango Smoothie

Ok so I’ll admit I haven’t actually sat underneath any mango trees. But we have a huge tree and tropical rainforest-like garden surrounding our front porch, so I can pretend the mangoes in my smoothie came from the tree above.

Plus, there actually is a smoothie place within walking distance called Under the Mango Tree – and it is in fact delicious.

Honestly, I’m also fighting off a summer cold. As I lay awake in bed last night with congestion and a raw throat, I began thinking about my mango smoothie. Immediately what came to mind was mango, ginger, and kale, and voila here we go – a major smoothie win in my book.

As I’m fighting a cold I went generous on the ginger and it added a perfect little kick to balance the sweetness of the mango. No lies, this is probably one of the most delicious smoothies I’ve ever had.

kale ginger mango smoothie recipe

Mango Nutrition Benefits – Immune-Boosting, Cancer-Protective, Brain-Power Fruit

Mangoes don’t just taste delicious – they are actually super nutritious. Mangos are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Aside from being high in vitamins C, A, and folate, they also provide a solid dose of vitamins E and K as well as copper and potassium.

Even better – they are a great food for brain health. They provide a healthy dose of vitamin B6, which is essential for brain functioning. They also help with mood and healthy sleep patterns – yup I could use some more mango in my life!

The antioxidants in mangos – like beta-carotene – contribute a host of health benefits, including an immunity boost (precisely why I was craving the mango so much – the body knows what it needs!) and protection against cancer.

And while mangoes are high in sugar, research suggests that they can help lower blood sugar levels. They are also good for managing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, alleviating anemia, and boosting bone health. Phew!

kale ginger mango smoothie recipe

Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie to Continue the Smoothie Kick

A quick peek at my latest posts makes it abundantly clear I’ve been on a smoothie kick lately. I go through phases with breakfast, but my traditional go-to breakfast has always been a smoothie. I just tended to make the same exact smoothie every day 🙂

So lately I’ve been changing things up a bit. And today we go mango with our smoothie!

Mangoes are obvi the key player in this mango smoothie, but there’s a few other nutritional powerhouses in play here. Kale packs in loads of vitamins and nutrients, while the ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

I also added a scoop of my vegan vanilla protein powder, homemade nut milk, and a ground flax seed blend to round out this breakfast smoothie. A plain protein powder will do, but I highly recommend vanilla for this smoothie – it rounds out the flavor profile so well!

Whenever possible, use organic ingredients and produce. But mangos are covered in a thick skin, so conventional is usually ok. 

ginger kale mango smoothie recipe
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Mango Ginger Kale Smoothie

A deliciously nutritious way to consume one of my favorite fruits – mangoes! Ginger adds a kick and dose of anti-inflammatory power, while kale turns the dial way up on the nutrition factor. 

Course Breakfast
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe mango (fresh or frozen works)
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger adjust to your taste preference!
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder preferably plant-based
  • 1 cup nut milk of choice

Optional Add-Ins

  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed or chia
  • 1 tsp vanilla if not using vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ice if using fresh mango and you want a cold smoothie... I actually like mine room temp!

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, blend up, and enjoy! 

Dark Chocolate Avocado Smoothie – Vegan Sugar-Free Recipe

Dark Chocolate Avocado Smoothie – Vegan Sugar-Free Recipe

Well it’s official – I’m on an avocado smoothie kick! After last week’s green superfood avocado smoothie, I decided to get inspiration from my own recipe and made a dark chocolate avocado smoothie. Like the avocado chocolate mousse, this smoothie is super smooth and creamy, […]


Life in Progress

My One Year Cancerversary

My One Year Cancerversary

The Preliminary C Diagnosis: Looking Back

A year ago today I received a call when I was at work. It was the director of the Lymphoma center at Columbia. I went into the bathroom to take the call. Gently but without mincing any words, he informed me that the preliminary results of my needle biopsy were in: I had lymphoma.  (more…)