The Paleo Diet: An “Autoimmune” Approach

[I wrote the following post before I had actually started the “Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), though now I have been strictly AIP for approximately 6 weeks. I will post again with updates soon!]

There have been many changes in my life since my last post (which feels like a thousand years ago), but there is one in particular I want to focus on today:

Paleo friends, Autoimmune disease-ridden friends, HS friends, are any of you familiar with the Autoimmune Protocol?

Two and a half years ago, I went strict Paleo for 60 days (while also avoiding eggs and nightshades). After the 60 days were up, I slowly reintegrated foods back into my diet to find the culprit food that triggered my HS breakouts. I found that nightshades were my main trigger, and have stayed away from them since. I was able to maintain my health for the most part while staying away from nightshades, and did not experience many painful HS breakouts for a while.

Now that I’m in graduate school, I am frequently more stressed than I had been in undergrad, and my health has faltered quite a bit throughout the past year. I know that stress is a trigger, but I am beginning to think that I may have other food triggers as well.

Because of this, I have made the decision to reembark upon the Paleo Diet, but this time with the additional restrictions included for the Autoimmune Protocol. It’s going to be difficult, but, as I’ve said many times before, no food is worth being sick.

I am loosely following the guidelines laid out in Mickey Trescott’s book, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, although when I start reintroducing foods I will skip over the nightshades. At first, I was reluctant to give up nuts and seeds because I highly doubted that they caused any problems for me. But then I thought back to 2 years ago when I had no idea “nightshades” were even a group of foods, much less that they could be harmful to me.

Why does any of this matter to you? Well, if you’re suffering like I have been, then hopefully you can find answers along my journey. And I will be posting recipes or meal ideas that I develop. I cannot afford or find many ingredients that are used in Paleo recipes–being a lowly graduate student certainly cramps the (time and money) budget–so I will post about what it’s like to be working and in grad school while maintaining this diet. It’s possible!

Yes, it’s going to be difficult, and yes, I will definitely struggle. But I must find what it is that is making me so sick because I cannot continue to become horribly ill every time I am stressed or upset. It’s a vicious cycle that I am determined to break. I know that spending lots of time in the kitchen can be overwhelming and exhausting, but I think I’ll prefer it to spending that time stuck in bed instead. :)

(New to my page? Learn more about my battle with health here).

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Chicken Fried Cauliflower “Rice”

Remember when I posted at the beginning of the semester, terrified about whether I would be able to finish off the semester and actually graduate? Well graduation is 5 weeks away. Can you believe that? FIVE WEEKS.

This semester has been an absolute whirlwind. Statistics has officially taken over my life. Between working as a supplemental statistics instructor, tutoring at my university’s tutoring center, and privately tutoring, it’s safe to say that I spend at least part of every day fully submerged in statistics.

I may be a bit of a nerd though, because I totally love every minute of it.

I actually put this on a handout at the beginning of the semester (original image taken from here).

I actually put this on a handout at the beginning of the semester (original image taken from here).

Because I was so afraid of taking on too much this semester, I allowed my blog to slip from my grasp. With class, work, research, applying to graduate school, and training for a half marathon (more on that later), I had to give up something. But it was only temporary!

And now I am back with a mouthwateringly guilt-free meal that will keep you coming back for more. Seriously. It’s amazing.

Meet Chicken Fried Rice’s fit and healthy first cousin.

ohhhhhhh yeaahhhh.

This cauliflower “rice” will have you thinking you’re eating real rice. In fact, you should put it to the test. Serve it to someone without telling them that it’s not actually rice. They will not be able to tell the difference. Guaranteed. I actually played that trick on my brother. When he found out it wasn’t real rice, he asked for seconds. ;-)

It even looks like rice…ish.

Disclaimer: The recipe looks like a lot with complicated steps, but it comes together quickly and easily. Pinky promise.

Chicken Fried Cauliflower “Rice”
Serves 3-4


The “rice”:
-1 head cauliflower
-2 tablespoons canola oil
-1 teaspoon minced ginger (or powdered ginger)
-2 teaspoons minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-2 tablespoons soy sauce

The stir fry:
-green beans
-green onions (you can use regular onions if you’d like)
-edamame (I used frozen)
-green peas (I used frozen)
-2 chicken breasts*
-1 teaspoon peanut butter or almond butter
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-2 tablespoons Asian salad dressing of choice, or stir fry sauce
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 teaspoon minced ginger (or powdered ginger)
-2 teaspoons minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 egg, cracked and beaten in a bowl and mixed with 1/2 tsp soy sauce

*You can prepare the chicken however you prefer. I marinated it overnight in 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter), 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger, then grilled it and cubed it before adding it to the cooked vegetables. You could just as easily sauté it before you add in the veggies, but I still recommend marinating it however you choose for maximum flavor! Ps. Even if you don’t marinate your chicken with this marinade and grill it for this recipe, you HAVE to do it sometime. It’s the best chicken EVER.

As for the vegetables, you can use whatever you have on hand! I didn’t give any exact measurements because how much you add is really up to you. Just make sure you chop ’em up before you throw it all together!

But I DO recommend cutting all of your vegetables and having them ready because it makes the cooking process quick and easy.

The Cauliflower Rice:

First, break apart the raw cauliflower (removing most of the large stem), then put it into a food processor. I had to do it in two sessions because I couldn’t fit all of the cauliflower in at once. Pulse it only 3-4 times until you see that it has broken down tiny pieces, then set aside.

Warm up the canola oil in a large skillet or wok, then add the cauliflower. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. When smoke starts coming up, add a little more oil, then add the soy sauce. When the cauliflower starts to turn yellow (in the process of browning), add ginger, garlic, and black pepper. After it starts to brown, set aside.

The Stir Fry:

Warm up olive oil in the same skillet (after the cauliflower has been set aside in a bowl or plate), then add all the veggies except for the green onions (if you’re using a regular onion, add it in with the rest of the veggies, but green onions take less time to cook so they would be added near the end). If you are using raw chicken, then you should add it before you add any veggies and then add them in when the chicken is almost cooked.

Sauté veggies for about 3 minutes, then add garlic, ginger, and green onions. After 2 more minutes, add peanut butter/almond butter, soy sauce, and salad dressing/stir fry sauce and stir it all together (if you decide to grill your chicken like I did, this is when you would add it in).

After this is mixed and vegetables are soft, add cauliflower “rice” and mix it all together. If the mixture seems dry, you can add more soy sauce if you want. Push all veggies to the side, forming a circle in the middle of the pan, and pour egg into the center. Quickly scramble the egg, then mix everything together.

So yummy!

So yummy!

Packed with vegetables and extra punches of protein, not to mention incredible flavors, this meal will leave you feeling satisfied and happy…with room for dessert.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we have!

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Creativity with Food

Hello friends! Long time, no see!

What’s been going on here lately? Well, classes started and they are going swimmingly. The fear I initially felt at the beginning of the semester has dissolved and I feel fresh and ready to tackle whatever comes my way. I think diving headfirst into the semester helped alleviate that anxiety because now I don’t have time to think about it!

Well, since the last time I blogged, I’ve been to:


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From top left, going clockwise: La Jolla, sunset during a hike along the Pacific, sailboat at Newport Beach, Newport Beach

The Gentlemen of the Road Tour in Guthrie, OK

Starting at the top left, going clockwise: Waiting on Bear's Den (AMAZING band), the Alabama Shakes (!!!!!!!), view behind us during the sunset, MUMFORD & SONS.

From top left, going clockwise: Waiting on Bear’s Den (AMAZING band), the Alabama Shakes (!!!!!!!), view behind us during the sunset, MUMFORD & SONS.

I’ll blog more about these incredible experiences later, but today’s post serves a different purpose: getting creative with food.

My family has recently taken on a healthy eating initiative. A pledge of sorts, if you will. We have created meal plans (and stuck to them) for our weeks to be more efficient with our time and ingredients (and to cut back on grocery shopping).

You see, we have recently begun to understand something that so many people caught on to before: eating healthy takes creativity. You can’t eat the same things every day and expect to keep up with a healthy diet. You just can’t. So I’ve been working hard to keep our meals creative and exciting, while amping up the flavor, nutrition, and simplicity.

I’ve tried my best to document our meals, or at least take pictures–sometimes I get too hungry and dive in without thinking about it (ehh what do you do). But I want to share our recipes with you!

I had reached a lull in blogging and wasn’t really sure what to blog about, but I know I want to share what we’ve been doing in the kitchen with you all and hopefully give you some new ideas to experiment with food!

One of the best feelings to me comes from experimenting with a new recipe (or making up a recipe, which happens more than actually following them) and finding it to be a fingerlickin’ success. That has happened on many occasions and I cannot wait to share them with you.

I know this post has been full of rambling, but I truly am SO excited to welcome you into our kitchen. Bon Appétit!

Yep. This is from 3 1/2 years ago. But it displays my excitement about food with perfect accuracy.

Yep. This is from 3 1/2 years ago. But it displays my excitement about food with perfect accuracy.

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Living in Fear

Here’s a not-so-secret: Classes start today.

Here’s a secret: I’m terrified.

I’m not terrified of school, of course. I love learning, being actively engaged in class (I’m the annoying student who always sits near the front row and asks a ton of questions), and being productive. I love everything that has to do with Psychology and the prospect of expanding my knowledge of psych always excites me.

So what is it?

Well…this could be my last semester of undergrad. It technically is my last semester of undergrad…I hope.

I know my health has been stable (for the most part) for a year now, but given its instability in the past, I just cannot allow myself to be excited about potentially graduating in December. It doesn’t feel real yet.

I’ve been disappointed and hurt repeatedly, and I’ve had to withdraw from college so many times that I have grown increasingly afraid of this semester. I’m an emotional wreck behind closed doors because I’m scared of the possibility of getting too sick to complete the semester again. The disease I have is way too unpredictable and I know that it’s never smart to get too comfortable with what my immediate plans may be.

On one hand, it’s horrible because the stress of the fear itself may be enough to push me over the edge and back into serious illness.

But on the other hand, it’s a great thing because it forces me to take myself and my body seriously. Instead of taking on too much or not being as careful with what I eat, I’ll be doing the exact opposite. I will take extreme care of myself this semester to ensure (to the best of my ability) that nothing goes wrong. And I will be paying close attention to my body along the way.

I had initially planned on running a marathon or two in the fall, but after much thought and prayer, I have decided against it. My main goal this semester is to graduate; nothing else. I don’t need to put obstacles in my own way right now. It’s my turn to move on with my life and finally be done with my undergraduate career.

But I can’t help but think…is this what it will always be like? Will I forever walk into timely commitments with fear of my health plummeting? Although it can be extremely humbling as well as important to understand that my plans are not the ones that prevail, living in fear is exhausting.

I want to be excited about graduation. I want to shout from the rooftops that this is my last semester as an undergraduate.

But I am terrified.

Posted in Anecdotes, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Marathon Mondays, Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Across the Country

So…where have I been lately? It’s actually kind of crazy…

Years ago, 4 friends met while studying in Spain and became very close…they continued to grow closer as the years passed, even though they could not see each other often. More than 3 years after all 4 were separated, they reunited for an epic road trip across the United States. The 4 best friends felt complete together, horrible senses of humor and all. Two from the U.S., one from Germany, and one from Denmark.

We’re still together now, but here’s an overview of what I have experienced throughout the past 3 weeks (more detailed posts to come):


Leaving my house in Edmond, OK. Goodbye, house!


Chicago, IL.


Detroit, MI.


Niagara Falls (from Canada).


Home of the original buffalo wings in Buffalo, NY.


Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.


USS Constitution along the Freedom Trail in Boston, MA.


Empire State Building in New York City, NY.


Washington Monument in D.C.


White House in D.C.


Jack Daniels distillery tour in Lynchburg, TN.


Graceland (Elvis’s home) right by Memphis, TN.


Driving by Pops on Route 66 in OK.


Sun coming out to play at the Lake of the Ozarks in MO.


Visiting the old Monroe Elementary at the Brown vs. Board National Historic Site in Topeka, KS.


Visiting the old Monroe Elementary at the Brown vs. Board National Historic Site in Topeka, KS.


Red Rocks in Golden near Denver, CO.


Photo break at Maxwell Falls near Denver, CO.

So, in a nutshell, we have traveled a lot throughout the past few weeks. We are especially grateful to the friends and family members who have opened their doors to us and made us feel at home. Since Chase and I leave on Sunday morning for OK, the 4 of us have to make the best of every moment we have together.

Fortunately, we’ve been doing that from the start.

Hope you all have been doing well!!

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10 Questions to Never Ask a Marathon Runner

Happy Marathon Monday!!

My friend Monica and I sat down to dinner last fall and had a good laugh over the various questions we’ve received as marathon runners, either while training or post-race. We compiled some of our favorites and I’ve been dying to share them with you!

  1. “So do you actually run, or is it more of a jog?”
    Usually, this question is asked in a more condescending manner. Like “how can you call yourself a runner if you’re just jogging?” Here’s the thing: no, I’m not in an all-out sprint the entire time. Most of us are not professional runners. Honestly, the only time I’m sprinting is when the finish line is in sight. I want to cross that thing!!

  2. “Did you run the whole time?”
    Um, who cares? I just traveled 26.2 miles by foot!

  3. “How long was this marathon?”
    26.2 miles. Always. Unless it has the prefix “Ultra” tacked on…then it’s even more than that.

  4. “Do you eat a ton of carbs?”
    I eat more carbs than normal, but only slightly. We don’t stuff our faces with pasta and bread, as many people may imagine. We may carb load a little the night before a long run, but even that means eating one serving of pasta with vegetables and plenty of protein, not just a huge bowl of neverending pasta. Also, we get lots of  good carbs from vegetables, so piling on the pasta/bread is not necessary, nor is it beneficial.

  5. “Is it hard?”
    Absolutely. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every time. It never gets easier. A coach Dean Karnazes had in junior high, Jack McTavish, once told him, “If it felt good, you didn’t push hard enough. It’s supposed to hurt like hell.” We push ourselves until we hurt.

  6. “I want to sign up for an upcoming marathon but I haven’t trained. Do you think I’ll be okay?”
    Unless you are a professional long distance runner, this is the worst idea ever. Ever ever ever. Training for a marathon isn’t just about getting your body ready–it’s about mental preparation as well. I spoke to a friend recently who had considered running a marathon last year without training, but ended up running one this year instead, fully trained. She said that she would not have been nearly prepared if she had run it last year. It’s about the focus, the research, the understanding, the preparation. When we cross that finish line, we don’t just cheers to the 26.2 miles we just ran; we cheers to the months of training, tears, blood, time, sweat, and dedication we poured into accomplishing our goal. Training is everything.

  7. “Do you think you’ll run any more marathons?”
      Nine times out of ten, the answer is yes. Once you’ve caught the marathon bug, there’s no going back. In fact, most of us start planning for the next marathon while we’re still sore from our previous!

  8. “How much time did it take you/Did you PR?”
    If I’m not bragging about my time, chances are it wasn’t great. And even if it was great, I want to focus on the fact that I finished the race. And setting a PR (personal record) is much more difficult than it seems. Even shaving a minute off of your time means running a completely different race. It’s not just about running the last mile faster–it’s about running the whole thing faster. So, if we want to talk about our time, we’ll do it regardless of whether or not we’re asked.

  9. “Did you know that running is a high impact sport?”
    Yes. We know a lot about running. We also take precautionary measures and make sure we have the right shoes and socks, as well as additional equipment such as compression sleeves, etc. We know to ice and to listen to our bodies (though we tend to ignore them sometimes…like at mile 24). Marathon running requires extreme commitment, and most of us do as much research as possible to ensure that we are nursing our bodies the proper way.

    And, my ultimate favorite question:

  10. “Did you win the marathon?”
    No. I…no. The person who wins the marathon can usually run it in under 2 1/2 hours…that’s an average pace below a 6 minute mile! Those are the people who sprint the entire distance. So no, I will never win a marathon. In fact, in the last race I ran, I was one of the last people to finish–and I was okay with that. Because my goal will always be to cross the finish line.

Questions for you:
What odd (to you) questions have you been asked while doing something you love? Are there any that I missed?

Posted in Fitness, Marathon Mondays, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Skewers

Hope you had a splendid Fourth of July!

Mine was fantastic. My brother is in town for the long weekend and we are all ecstatic to spend some quality family time together for the first time since the winter holidays!

Last night, it was just my mom, my brother, and me for dinner, so I wanted to keep it simple (but delicious, always delicious) while still creating a festive summer meal.

What screams simple summer meal more than chicken and vegetable skewers??


It’s realllllllllly easy. I marinated the chicken and chopped up the vegetables in the afternoon, so at dinnertime all I had to do was slide them all onto the bamboo skewers (which you can get at the grocery store–a pack of 100 for less than a dollar!) and grill away. Easy peasy!

I’m already thinking about how to mix things up for next time…maybe I’ll add pineapple…mmmmmmm.


I used yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, and mushrooms, but you can use whatever you want, or mix and match! My brother isn’t a fan of squash and zucchini, so I just layered his skewers with chicken and mushrooms. For my vegetarian friends out there, I made some with just veggies too and they were divine. The onions get all caramelized and the squash and zucchini have a perfectly charred crunch while still retaining the moisture on the inside…yummm.


Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 12.05.26 PM


serves 4

5 raw/frozen chicken breasts
2 tablespoon seasoning of your choice (I used 1 tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning and 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
1 teaspoon salt (if needed, the seasoning I used contained salt already)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 red onion
4-5 large mushrooms
*or vegetables of your choice!
Sea salt

1. At least 2 hours in advance, cut raw chicken into large cubes, then create marinade with 2 tablespoons seasoning (I like my chicken well-seasoned!) and 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus the salt if needed). If using frozen chicken breasts, make sure they are thawed before you begin this step. Mix it all together to make sure the chicken is well coated, then cover and set in the refrigerator.

2. Chop up the vegetables and place in separate bowls. You can do this in advance to make dinner quick and easy, or just do it right before you eat.

3. Layer chicken and vegetables onto the skewers as you like. Lightly drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sea salt before grilling.

4. Preheat grill on high. Cook skewers for about 3 minutes per side, checking to see if the chicken is done and the vegetables are charred to your liking!

5. Enjoy with loved ones.

6. Follow with light, summery dessert (recipe coming soon!):


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