Paleo Nut-Free Bagels

If you live in New York City, bagels are kind of a hot commodity. Yeah, it meets the stereotype! But since living here, I actually have not had a New York bagel…say what?!

Being gluten-free kinda does that to ya haha! Lately, though, I’ve really been craving them, especially since it’s sandwich-in-the-park weather (it’s a thing, I swear!). So Sunday, I decided enough was enough. I’m going to have a damn bagel!

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But how do I make it not just gluten-free, but paleo as well? And I’m talking my kind of paleo: easy, simple, whole foods that I’ve already got in my kitchen. Not the paleo that uses some abstract superfood ground into a powder that you can only find in the middle of South America and costs a fortune. Yeah, I like my kind of paleo haha!

So if you know me by now, you know my love of all things sweet potato. They’re nutrient dense, satiating, and truth be told, a great substitute for anything with flour. I’m serious. I use sweet potato as the flour for most of my recipes because it gives you that dough texture without having to go out and buy a bunch of expensive organic flours!

Now, I don’t call them “sweet potato bagels” because honestly, I think I’m going to turn everyone away from sweet potatoes if I keep saying that, AND you don’t call traditional banana bread “flour banana bread,” right? So hear me out. Swap in your sweet p (Japanese, Hannah, jewel, stoke…you name it!) for flour and thank me later 😉

I don’t know about you but I’m getting the lox and cream cheese ready!

Paleo Nut-Free Bagels

Makes 6 halves, 3 whole bagels

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra large Japanese sweet potato, baked, cooled, and skin removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour (or any flour you have on hand)
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mash sweet potato.
  3. Add in eggs, flour, sea salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.
  4. Take a small handful and form into a small dough ball, sticking your thumb through the middle to create a hole.
  5. Place on the baking sheet and repeat for the remaining dough.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 min.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, then serve with your favorite spreads!

Paleo Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Decided to whip up a classic recipe over the weekend because who could ever turn down a classic? That’s why it’s CLASSIC, right? *hums “Baby You’re So Classic” to self*

I’m sharing these paleo, no-added-sugar, nut-free, flourless SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies with you today because they will knock your old cookie recipe off the plate! I swear, biting into these felt like I was transported back to childhood with a big glass of milk in front of me for dipping. Now that scene is a little bit different (I swapped in almond and coconut milk instead haha!), but it tastes just the same. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between a cookie made with flours versus a cookie made with plants!

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Peep the recipe below and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

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Paleo Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves 10-15

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white sweet potato, baked, cooled, and skin removed
  • 2 organic, pastured eggs
  • ½ inch vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract…but this tastes better!)
  • ¼ cup melted ghee
  • ¼ cup melted coconut butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup Imlak’esh 100% cacao wafers (or your favorite chocolate chip!)
  • 1 pinch sea salt (plus more for topping!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mash white sweet potato
  3. Add in eggs, cinnamon, vanilla been seeds, and sea salt, mixing until well combined
  4. Pour melted ghee and coconut butter into the bowl and mix until completely combined
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. With clean hands, form about a tbsp. per ball and place on the baking sheet, giving them enough room to expand
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven, cool, and enjoy!

Paleo Ramen Noodle Soup

Did you read that recipe title correctly?! PALEO. Ramen noodle soup? Are you sure?

Absolutely, my friends. And this one doesn’t even include coconut aminos, so no need to go buy fancy ingredients!

This soup comes together with simple, whole foods and packs in a boatload of protein (if you use bone broth!)…you won’t miss your local ramen shop!

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Instead of regular ramen noodles, Jared and I spiralized some yellow squash, threw in a few classic veggies (red cabbage, scallions, carrots, and onions!), soaked some ginger in the bone broth for flavor, and topped with some soft boiled eggs!

It was so easy and so delicious! Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think!

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Paleo Ramen Noodle Soup

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow squash, spiralized
  • 2 cups red cabbage, chopped
  • 2-3 medium whole carrots, sliced
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, diced
  • 1 knob of whole ginger, skinned and sliced into chunks
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 package of Bonafide Bone Broth or 3 cups chicken or beef stock
  • Sea salt/pepper
  • Ghee/coconut oil for cooking vegetables
  • Toppings: soft boiled eggs, scallions, micro greens

Directions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, sauté red cabbage, whole carrots, onion, and scallions with a little ghee/coconut oil, sea salt, and pepper.
  2. Once those veggies are cooked, set aside.
  3. Add the spiralized yellow squash noodles into the pan and lightly sauté so that they are still firm but cooked through. Set aside with the other veggies.
  4. In a large pot, pour bonafide bone broth into pot and add chunks of ginger and turmeric.
  5. Heat until boiling and then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Add in the veggies, stir and cover.
  7. Let sit on simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Serve and top with extra scallions, soft boiled eggs, etc.

Paleo Brownie Sweet Potato Loaf

So I did this thing where I took my absolute FAVORITE recipe of mine and I made it again…in loaf form!

Cue the slow jams because this baby is so freaking good, you’re going to want to savor every bite!

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It’s also completely flourless (read: no fancy shmancy flours required), and you most likely have all of the ingredients on hand so this recipe is easy peasy 😉 There’s a reason why I make this every single week as a part of my meal prep: it’s just so dang GOOD!

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Check out the recipe below, and let me know what you think J

Happy Baking!

Brownie Sweet Potato Loaf

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white sweet potato, baked and skin removed
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup vanilla ghee, melted (I love Fourth & Heart! You can also sub in regular ghee or coconut oil and add vanilla powder or scraped vanilla beans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder (I love Imlak’esh!)
  • ½ cup raw or roasted coconut butter, melted (I love Artisana Organics, but you can also sub in a nut butter)
  • 1 bar of your favorite dark chocolate (I love Imlak’esh’s cacao wafers)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and grease a 9×4 loaf pan with ghee or coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mash sweet potato.
  3. Pour in eggs, ghee, and coconut butter, and mash to combine.
  4. Add in cinnamon and cacao, mash to combine.
  5. Once the batter is completely mixed, break up the chocolate wafers and fold in the chunks.
  6. Pour batter into the loaf pan and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  8. Remove and let cool before serving.

 

 

Journey to Freedom, Part II: Depression

I didn’t think I would ever share this here. I’ve shared this story a few times over, even wrote about it when I was a writer for The Mighty. I’ve shared my experience with anorexia (see this post), so I guess you could consider this Part II. I’m sharing this experience today because it is just over 3 years that I did something that forever altered my path of living.

What I’m about to tell you is my experience with a depression that tried to take my life. The “s-word” (look up any s-word that is related to depression, I’m sure it won’t be hard to find if you’re confused) is one that I treat like the f-word. Not a word I like to use. It doesn’t have a good vibration, and there are connotations that come with it. So again, I took the same care in crafting this so as not to trigger anyone who has struggled or is struggling with depression. I also do not want to scare people, though what I’m talking about is extraordinarily scary.

This one was trickier though. It’s easier to omit numbers and eating habits from describing a story, so please do not read this if you are triggered by these types of stories. I do not go into detail of the event because that’s irrelevant to the message that I want to convey, but still I struggled to write this because this kind of stuff hits deep. I say this a lot, but as a reminder: it’s always darkest before dawn, and there is always a dawn. If you need to skip to the dawn, I whole-heartedly understand- please skip the section between the three stars (***).

Even with these stars, it’s hard to talk about depression. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with it. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with attempting to take your own life too. Judgment. Name-calling. Stereotypes. The ironic part is that depression can happen to anyone. There is no stereotype. Depression does not discriminate. And it’s a lot more common than we think.

That’s one thing I would like to point out before I begin. You are not weak for struggling with depression. While I was in the throes of it, I was told I’m not resilient. I’m not tough. I’m too weak and that’s why I can’t beat this. I was none of those things. I was and am strong, defiant, relentless, and resilient. And so are you. I could and can do tough things. And so can you.

***

Obviously with an eating disorder, I had my fair share of very low moments. But my true “depression” started in junior year of college. In the few months post study abroad, I found myself stuck. I had two stress fractures in both shins, was off my medication for OCD after finally deciding the side effects outweighed what little benefit I got from it, and hobbled around on a pair of crutches after being told no running for at least 4-6 months. It was the middle of winter, I had missed a whole semester with my friends who stayed back from study abroad (surprisingly a lot of them), and I felt anxious to get back to “doing school.”

Well, shit. How was I supposed to cope with life?

Instead of spending my time clocking miles, I buried myself in books. My OCD came back full force and I became obsessive with my studies, spending hours and hours taking and retaking notes, rereading passages, writing and rewriting papers…it was insanity. I saw no one and did nothing for a solid 2.5 months. I didn’t even realize the impact I was having on my friends either. I caused so much anxiety for my roommates who at one point were my best friends that I lost those friendships.

The pain that depression causes is deep. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the pain of depression was worse than any physical pain I had experienced (that’s saying a lot from the girl who snapped her arm in half doing gymnastics). I was alone most of the time with no one to talk to, so I had no choice but to deal with the demons in my head. I felt like it was a losing battle. I needed more than just studies to cope, and I still couldn’t run. The thoughts of just ending it all became too enticing that I convinced myself it was my best and only option.

I will never talk about the night of March 27, 2015, my attempt, in detail on here because, like I said, it’s unnecessary for the message of this story. All I will say is that I was saved, by the Universe, by God, by some other unknown power, I don’t know, but something made me pick up the phone for when my therapist and friend both called. I still cry just thinking about how grateful I am for those two, both of whom I still talk to today.

That weekend I went home and was checked into a hospital. In the months to follow, I was in and out of the hospital, seeking intensive outpatient therapy, then inpatient, then outpatient again. It was a long journey, with many moments that I had wished someone would just let me give up. But I never did, and that was the best gift anyone has ever given me. The opportunity to keep going. The second chance.

I learned a lot about life, people, and how little we really know of each. The psych ward was the first lesson in that. It showed me the full range of what humans are capable of. I was treated with both love and repugnance, empathy and apathy, true concern and utter hatred all in one night. One nurse pulled me aside to tell me that I was worth more than this, that I deserved love and happiness and that I was strong as hell. Another doctor pulled me aside to tell me that I was disgusting, worth nothing, sick, and that I had revoked all of my human rights the second I walked through the emergency room doors.

Despite that horrid first night, and the disgusting manner in which doctors (not just one, I unfortunately encountered three more doctors who looked at me as if I was a curse to the world) treat mentally ill patients, I met some beautiful souls while I was there. You realize when you’re in the position I was, you really aren’t so different from the next patient. No matter how you grew up, what privileges you somehow were lucky enough to be born with, what experiences you’ve had, you’re the same. You’re both hurting, you both want love, and you’re both scared to move on because for some reason, life just wasn’t so kind to you in the previous years.

I met a boy my age that grew up in just the town over. He had tried to take his own life as well, but you would have never known by the smile on his face. He was the kindest person I met there, brought me to the lunch table and tried to get me to laugh. He had been there for 23 days already. When a nurse came over to us to tell him that his mom was on the phone for him, I listened to him speak to her.

“Hi mommy! I miss you! I’ve been okay, it’s getting better. When do I get to see you?”

That’s when I broke. It made me want to hug him, give him back to his mother, and tell him he would never have to feel this pain again. Ever. He was just like me. They all were.

The next stop was outpatient at two different facilities and in two different states. In the first facility, I drove every day to spend 6 to 8 hours in group and individual therapy. It was actually the first time I enjoyed therapy, and I know that sounds weird, but these people became my family. It was bittersweet whenever someone “graduated” from the group because you wanted them to succeed and have this wonderful life, but you were going to miss them greatly and knew you’d probably never see each other again (we weren’t allowed to keep in contact, but that’s actually how I met one of my best friends- sometimes, rules are meant to be broken!).

Then something I didn’t ever fathom would happen did. One of my best friends from the first university I attended (before transferring to another one) called me. An old friend from our year did take his own life.

In that moment, I once again learned the full range of human emotions: shock, guilt, grief, sadness, anger, jealousy (I know, I’m not proud of that one either)…it was ugly. I ran for two hours straight that day (I was just getting back into running after healing from the stress fractures), listening to “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182 and crying the entire time. I didn’t know how to process all that I was feeling and I felt so raw. He was gone and wasn’t coming back. Why did he get to go and I didn’t? Why did he have to go? He was such a beautiful person. Why did he have to feel that pain?

My recovery slowed down a lot that day, which impacted the weeks to come, ultimately leading to another facility. In a weird way though, it needed to happen. I yet again met more beautiful souls in my stay. There was a “football all-star,” everyone’s favorite player. There was a high school senior struggling to find his footing in this world. There was a retired therapist who was shocked to find herself in her patients’ shoes. There was a mother of five. There was a compulsive gambler. There was the straight A student who did everything she was ever asked (well, there were a few of those). We were all here with different experiences, but the ultimate reason was the same: we had lost sight of our love for life. I guess you could call us the modern day Breakfast Club!

The pain of living began to ease in those weeks. Going back to school to finish out my senior year was another challenge. I got a lot of questions: where were you last semester? What happened to you? Why don’t you want to come out with us tonight? To be honest, senior fall was the biggest test. I had to quite literally learn to accept being all alone and still okay with myself. I had very few friends, and the ones I did have, I was scared to lose them so I tried not to put myself onto them: I didn’t ask to hang out and I rarely checked in. I did make it through though. My second semester, I met a lot of people that I’m still grateful to have in my life because I realized I am worthy of these friendships.

That being said, I still had a lot of learning to do. I didn’t know who I was. Who I had been hadn’t been the truest Britt. I had to relearn how to feel joy and happiness and not fear sadness and anger. I had to relearn who Britt is. It’s a process, but looking back, I’m thankful for every single person that told me never give up, that life was worth it, and that this was only a chapter. I can proudly and confidently say that it was all so worth it; I’m overjoyed to be here today and to have come so far. It’s scary, but we all have the courage to make it through.

***

While the psych ward was a learning experience in how corrupt and disgusting our current medical system is (I know, I’m still bitter. I’m working on letting it go), the other experiences as an outpatient, an inpatient, and a fellow struggler in this crazy world showed me a much different perspective.

I don’t tell this story so that you can feel sorry for me. I hope that you wouldn’t judge me, but then again, I know that with fear comes judgment (because we often judge that which we do not fully understand), and that is human nature.

This journey has made me the person that I am today, and I’m finally proud to be here. You learn a lot about empathy, trust, emotions, the human struggle, resilience, and love.

I can honestly say that with everyone I met, there was not one story nor one soul I did not fall in love with. We’re all human, and while our physical experiences are unique, we share the same feelings for pain, loss, happiness, anger, disappointment, joy, surprise, and love. My heart ached seeing how much pain these people experienced, and somehow it made me realize that if I think they don’t deserve this pain, then what makes me so special that I would deserve this pain?

That’s right! Nothing!

If I could do it all again (though I think one go ‘round was enough for this lifetime!), I would tell the doctors to look at us like we were their sons and daughters instead of dirt beneath their shoes. I would give that nurse in the ER who told me I could do this and that I was stronger than these demons the biggest hug. I would thank every passerby, every therapist, and every friend and family member (still do- I love you guys) for telling me not to give up. I would go back and tell every person I met that they are loved and that they matter.

That’s what I want to get at really with all of this. Please, if you take only one thing away from all of this mumbo jumbo, let it be that you matter and you are loved.

Let me be clearer. 

You matter and you are loved.

No matter what you’re going through, it is a season, and it will pass. Some are longer than others, but it will pass. There will be days going through it that you will feel lonely as hell and wonder if this is it, but I promise you, like I said earlier, your darkest days are just before the dawn.

So keep fighting for that light. Reach out for help, whether that’s a coworker, a family member, a friend, a professor, even just someone you meet in passing. They may not be the person to help, but they can direct you to someone who can.

Next, surround yourself in light. I know how tough this could be, as there were days I didn’t get out of bed and wanted nothing to do with the sunshine. Go play with puppies, turn on music and dance, watch a ridiculous episode of The Office, be in nature, anything that used to bring you joy, immerse yourself in that light. When I first did this, it was extraordinarily painful. I tried to paint and I would just stare at my brushes and cry. I felt pathetic. But I wasn’t pathetic, I was just in pain. Every time I came back to those brushes, I chipped away at the sadness, until I could finally lift up the brush again and let it flow.

If you can find it in you, start to imagine the person you’re becoming- you’re truest self as you heal. I swear, the reason I’m so dang positive today is because of all that I went through. I wasn’t born happy, go-lucky, smiling Britt. I faced a lot of demons in my 23 years of living. But it’s made me appreciate the good days even more, and it forced me to find the beauty in EVERYTHING, because it’s there, trust me, you just need to open your eyes.

Be patient with yourself. It takes a lot to learn how to love yourself again. And it takes a lot to finally see yourself not as the victim, but as the badass warrior that you are. You will probably lose some relationships over all of this, I’m not going to hide that fact because that part was devastating to me. I lost a lot of friends and don’t keep people too close for these reasons. This is something I still need to work on, and I acknowledge that. But the ones you keep will grow stronger, and you might be surprised how the lost relationships could circle back.

Also know that you will have good and bad days still in recovery. Those not so great days are not steps back, but just side steps and hops and skips! You’re going forward, I promise you, and trust yourself that you can make it through. Trust the Universe or God or whatever you call that higher power that you are meant to be here and that you wouldn’t be going through this if you weren’t strong enough to beat it!

And know that you are loved. I’ve said it a thousands times, but it all really comes back to this: love. At the end of the day, that’s all we really are. Never lose sight of that.

 

Easy-Peasy Weekend Frittata

Are you guys ready for an easy-peasy frittata recipe that makes weekends (or meal prep) that much easier?!

Well, I hope you are because it’s coming at you anyways! I decided to make this baby on Saturday, just on a whim, because I was hardcore craving eggs, but not my typical go-to’s (sorry scrambled, poached, fried, and soft boiled! Nothing personal!).

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The best part about this recipe- well actually there are a few “best” parts – but one of them is that it’s so customizable. I literally just took what I had on hand (not much since it was a Saturday and that’s our farmer’s market day!) and it worked! You will definitely need a few of your favorite spices, but I always keep those stocked up just because I know I’m super bummed if I ever run out!

The second best part about this is that there is no “perfect technique” required to get this right- all you do is whip the eggs with a spoon, pour into a skillet, and bake. That’s it. I bet even my college-kid brother could do this!

All you need on hand are:

Eggs

Your favorite spices (I used cumin, turmeric, and rosemary- highly recommend that combo!)

Your favorite veggies/any on hand (I used mesclun + zucchini)

Sea Salt/Pepper

Ghee/Coconut oil for greasing the skillet

Yep, it’s that easy! Oh, and I also talked about meal prep- this baby can last you all week. Of course, I don’t think it will because it tastes that good- Jared and I devoured it within a day haha! But if you have the willpower, it will be good in the fridge for 4-5 day! Enjoy!

Easy-Peasy Brunch Frittata

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 8 organic, pastured eggs
  • Your favorite spices (I used 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp rosemary)
  • Your favorite veggies (I used 1 cup steamed mesclun, ½ cup sliced then steamed zucchini)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Ghee/Coconut oil for greasing

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a medium cast-iron skillet.
  2. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk together like scrambled eggs.
  3. Fold in spices.
  4. If you haven’t pre-cooked your veggies, I would suggest lightly steaming them. Otherwise, fold in your veggies to the mixture here.
  5. Pour mixture into the skillet and place in oven.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.
  7. *If it starts to bubble, place a piece of tin foil over it to allow it to continue cooking!
  8. Remove from the oven, let cool, and serve!

Paleo Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Nothing beats the smell of banana bread right? I’ll be honest though, sometimes I have absolutely no desire for the mess and process of baking, and I really just want the yummy taste paired with the sweet aroma…I can be lazy too, ya know!

That’s how I was feeling last weekend! I had the completely browned bananas, all of the ingredients, and the tools, but I wasn’t about to go dirty more pots and pans (Sundays are my recipe testing days, and I had already been through a load of recipes haha!).

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That’s when I realized I had the Birch Bender’s Paleo Banana Pancake & Waffle mix on hand! Let me tell you, this mix has more uses than just for a flapjacks morning! And because I’m a choco-holic, I decided to spin the mix to make it feel more homemade!

So I present to you Paleo Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins!

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Ooey, gooey, and so freaking easy, it’s almost unfair! All you need is:

Birch Bende’s Paleo Banana Pancake Mix

Cacao Powder

Cacao Nibs

Water

Ripe Banana

That’s it! How easy is that? Plus it’s all one in under 30 minutes too! Not bad, huh?

Check out the recipe below, and happy baking!

Paleo Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Makes 6 bakery-style muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Birch Bender’s Paleo Banana Mix
  • 1 ripe banana (use half for the mix and half to top)
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • ½ cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a large 6-muffin tin with muffin cups
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together banana mix and cacao powder
  3. Next, add in mashed banana and water. Stir until well combined
  4. Fold in cacao nibs
  5. Pour about ¼ cup of the mix into each tin
  6. Top each muffin with a banana coin
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven, cool, and drizzle with almond butter, more cacao nibs, or coconut flakes!
  9. Enjoy!