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I was on the fence over essential oils for a while until I tried them for my Lyme induced joint pain.  I tried EVERTHING natural for joint pain, and even unnatural things, and it seemed like nothing would help!  That was when a fellow wellness advocate really pushed me to try essential oils again.  She is a doTERRA rep so naturally this is the brand I tried, and I’ve used others since that have been pretty successful, too.  For joint pain and other pain caused by inflammation like muscle aches, I layer Peppermint, Marjoram, and Frankincense which is unfortunately not pictured here because I use it so much that I ran out.  That combination really seems to numb the deep aching and helps me to better relax and even sleep!  I also use Peppermint on my temples when I have a headache that won’t quit and it really helps! doTERRA has a great roll-on called PasTense which I also am out of, but it does wonders for headaches as well.

My favorite oils for relaxation are Serenity and Balance.  Serenity really calms me.  I like to put it on my wrists and chest with a carrier oil such as extra avocado oil or coconut oil at night time and take several deep breaths.  Instantly calming!  I also put Serenity in my diffuser at night while I’m reading in bed and falling asleep.  The Balance oil smells amazing!  I use it as perfume and everyone always tells me I smell good, haha!  I thought I might smell like a hippy, but, apparently it doesn’t come across that way to other people’s noses which is great!  My husband loves it.

I like to use OnGuard particularly when I travel!  Airports and public bathrooms make me super nervous because when you have a weak immune system, you can pick up anything and have it ruin your vacation!  I take 2-3 drops under the tongue and wash it down with water for an immune boost!  If you’re in a jam for hand soap, you can also mix it with a carrier oil and you’re good to go!  It can even be used for cleaning!  What are your favorite essential oils to use?  Drop a comment below and share! πŸ™‚

Total Body Turmeric Pain Reliever Drink

Hey, guys! Hope you’re having a great “Wellness Wednesday” so far πŸ™‚ I’ve been having a flare-up of a lot of symptoms lately, including pain and fatigue. It’s so hard with chronic illness because you’ll have a good week or two and feel like you’re finally getting somewhere! You get so full of hope and then a new week comes and smacks you upside the head and you feel like you went into a downward spiral back to where you started. You just have to keep digging yourself back out of the hole, hoping that at some point, the hole will get more shallow and you’ll gain some ground. I do think I have gained ground in the last year. It’s hard to see at times, but it takes less time for me to recover from bad flares than it used to. And by recover, I mean, back to being able to function at a better level. I still don’t live the way I want to live. Mornings and evenings are difficult for me and I’m generally exhausted. But, I keep trying new things, researching, talking to other people in similar situations, and just trying to learn as much as I can while still trying to find joy in the small things. Sometimes I feel like I am always in my head, in another world, and never totally present because I’m always thinking about the pain I’m in or how much I want to get better. I think people think I’m a bit spacey or disconnected sometimes. We do the best we can, right? I try to keep this in mind before I jump to conclusions about other people. Getting lost in a flare is easy to do. I’ve had some where it seems never-ending and I start to feel defeated. The truth is, things always eventually get better, but sometimes you have to fight even harder than you feel like you can. I wanted to share this recipe with you in hopes of helping you through a painful flare if you’re going through one, too.

I have a hard time finding things that help with the pain. I find something and it helps for a while and then it seems like it loses its potency and doesn’t work for me anymore. That’s not to say that a lot of the things I have done and tried aren’t helpful at all, they are. It’s just that they’re not long term solutions. But, something that I always go back to is this creamy turmeric drink that a fellow Lyme Warrior shared with me a couple years ago when I was in the thick of chronic Lyme Disease. I’ve been having really bad back and hip pain lately, so I pulled this recipe out and tried it again. Sure enough, it is the number one thing that is helping my pain right now!! I’ve done A LOT, so it’s kind of a miracle that this simple, inexpensive drink is what’s hitting the spot right now, but I’ll take it! Glady. πŸ™‚

We all probably know by now that Turmeric is great for decreasing inflammation! Turmeric contains curcumin. Curcumin is a biotactive substance that fights inflammation. It can be just as powerful as over the counter anti-inflammatories, but it doesn’t have the negative side effects that they do! NSAIDS, which are your standard drug store anti-inflammatories, like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, can cause damage to your stomach lining, liver, and serious problems like ulcers and bleeding if used too often. But, if you use turmeric in high doses, you can avoid all of that! You want to aim for around 1 gram of turmeric to get the full benefit.

This drink combines everything that helps turmeric do it’s antioxidant work for your body. It has healthy fats in the coconut oil which help your body to absorb the curcumin which is fat-soluble. It also contains black pepper, which has piperine in it. Piperine is a naturally occuring substance that helps your body to absorb the curcumin better as well!

I like to double this recipe when my pain is really bad. By the end of the drink, I feel a total body relaxation. It feels like my whole body gets warm and I can feel the pain slowly dissipate. You don’t need to worry about overdosing on turmeric. It’s a natural food. You do want to get yourself a good organic brand though, because spices like turmeric are known to carry lead. You can get quality sourced turmeric by doing your research. I like this brand.

This recipe is a little complicated because you have to make a paste first. But, it’s totally worth the time, and you’ll have paste leftover in your fridge for your next drinks once you make it! I usually combine this with almond milk, but coconut milk is really delicious with it, too!

This recipe was recommended to me by my fellow Lyme advocate, Aimee Miller. You can find her website here. These turmeric drink recipes are originally from Darin Olien’s plant based meal plan “The Superlife 10-Day Nutrition Program”. Thank you, Aimee for recommending this drink to me! It’s been so helpful <3

Total Body Turmeric Pain Reliever Drink

Turmeric Paste:
Makes about 1 cup (16 – 1 tablespoon servings)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp raw honey

Steps:

  • Mix pepper, ginger, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a small sauce pan on low heat mix together turmeric and coconut milk. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.
  • Bring to gentle simmer and continue to stir.
  • Add mixed spices and continue to simmer for 3 minutes or until a thick and smooth paste.
  • Add coconut oil and raw honey, turning off the heat. Continue to stir until completely smooth.
  • Allow mixture to cool a few minutes and transfer to a clean Mason jar. Mixture thickens as it cools so don’t wait to long to transfer.
  • Place lid on jar once it’s cooled completely. Store in refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks (mine last less than a week since using daily).

Now that you have made your paste, you can put it into some milk with the following ingredients and start de-flaming, LOL! πŸ™‚

Creamy Turmeric Drink

Prep time: 5-6 minutes
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp turmeric paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (find a good brand without added ingredients. Just pure vanilla extract!)
  • 8-10 drops of stevia (or 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup coconut milk or other plant based milk

Steps:

  • Add all ingredients in a sauce pan and warm.
  • Use a blender or whisk until foamy
  • Pour into a mug and relax πŸ™‚

Please let me know if you try this and how it works for you! I hope that it gives you some relief. I’ve been thinking of things that have helped my Lyme symptoms for those of you who are struggling with Lyme (and other chronic pain diseases). If you haven’t yet, check out my post on the essential oils that help my joint pain! As always, this is not medical advice, just my own experience in things that have brought me some relief. Sending you lots of love and healing vibrations!! πŸ™‚

5 Easy Clean Beauty and Self Skin Care Swaps

So, I am a bit behind and I didn’t get this published yesterday for Wellness Wednesday! Sorry guys! But, it’s really a just a day, so I’m sure none of you are livid about it, haha! πŸ™‚

I wanted to share a couple of clean beauty/self care easy swaps you can start with to lessen the toxic load in your life! It can be a bit overwhelming to look at ALL of the products you use on the daily and think about having to replace everything at once. Instead, just start to switch over to better beauty as you run out of things! Here are 5 of my favorites that I use everyday and love a lot!

Schmidt’s Deodorant – I get a lot of questions about what my favorite natural deodorant is and this is hands down the best I have tried! And I’ve tried A LOT! It smells the best in my opinion, and it helps keep me drier than any other I have tried. I wouldn’t say that it keeps you completely dry in really hot temperatures, but our bodies are meant to sweat -that is how we detox things that don’t belong in our body. Most deodorants are full of nasty chemicals that add more toxins into our systems, and don’t allow us to sweat any toxins out. Most have aluminum in them to achieve this, and we all know by now that heavy metals in our bodies are a really bad thing and we have to eliminate these products we use that contain them. They can really do a number on your endocrine system which includes your thyroid, and trust me, you don’t want to mess with your thyroid. It is involved in so many of your bodily functions, including your metabolism and energy levels. Metals also feed pathogens in your body that make and keep you sick, so we gotta toss that conventional deodorant OUT, friends! (check your facial powders, too!)

Everyone For Every Body Lotion – I love this lotion! It smells delicious and is so moisturizing! It is scented with essential oils and uses natural moisturizers like coconut, sesame, and aloe oils. A lot of our lotions have fragrance in them, and fragrance is made with toxic chemicals that are harmful to our bodies, too! Sticking to lotions and scents made with essential oils is MUCH healthier!

Himalaya Botanique Tooth Paste – Natural tooth paste can be a tough one to get used to! I really like this brand, though. It tastes good and I still get the fresh clean feeling that I am used to with conventional brands. It doesn’t have the nasty chemicals that popular brands do. It is SLS, Gluten, Carrageenan, and Fluoride Free! You might think that fluoride is a good thing for you teeth, and that was long believed to be true. But, studies have found that continuous use of small amounts of fluoride over time can be hazardous to our bone, brain, thyroid health, and more. SLS is also known to cause a lot of skin irritations. If you are experiencing skin problems, I would highly recommend checking all of your products for SLS and replacing them with things that do not contain it. Carrageenan has also shown to be cancerous in studies, so that’s another one that you should be on the lookout for.

Jason Bodywash – I’ve been using this bodywash for years and I love all of the different scents it comes in! It is free from parabens, harsh sulfates, petrolatum, and phthalates! All things you do not need nor want in your soap! They are toxic and can cause skin irritation, too. I love that this comes in a big pump and lasts forever! It’s a great deal!

Alba Botanitcals 3-in-1 Cleansing Towlettes – These are a staple in my routine! I use them to wipe off all of my makeup before using my cleanser. They don’t have any texture to them, so they’re good for removing makeup on the eyes, too. They don’t have any synthetic fragrance, parabens, or pthalates. They are made with natural ingredients that cut through the makeup and really clean your skin off. They are great for sensitive skin!

I hope this helps you get started in cleaning up your self care routine! Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite better beauty brands and products are in the comments below! Have a great day! πŸ™‚

New Year's at Nemacolin

The last several New Years, Ryan and I have found it fun to make it special and go somewhere to celebrate in style! This year, we decided to go to one of our favorite spots year-round, which is Nemacolin Woodlands Resort! Nemacolin is a beautiful resort and spa nestled in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania. It’s a short drive from Pittsburgh, being under 2 hours. The reason I say it’s a favorite spot year round is because there is SO much to do! From hiking, skiing, golf, children’s activities, a zoo, mini golf, hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, shooting clays, swimming, art classes, yoga, a holistic wellness center, the spa, fine dining, shopping, a casino, special events for holidays, and more! It’s definitely a destination spot for couples for romantic getaways and family fun, too! Your pets are also invited! Nemacolin really has it all and they do a wonderful job of seeing to all of your needs.

Ryan and I arrived the day before New Year’s Eve. We had booked shortly in advance and let them know about my dietary restrictions of being gluten and dairy free. They were extremely accommodating! Upon entering, the main chateau was decorated beautifully on the outside with a huge lit up tree, lights all over the outside of the building, flashing different colors, all while Christmas carols played adding to the excitement in the air! It was a sight to be seen!

There are several places you can stay at Nemacolin and varying price points for each. The main chateau is where most of the action is! The rooms are very grand and luxurious. The entire place is stunningly beautiful! There are several restaurants connected to the Chateau as well as shops, a cigar room, and beautiful artwork. You can walk from your room there without having to go outdoors. It’s a massive building and there’s always something to look at on your journey to each destination. There is a bar in the main lobby and a beautiful sitting areas surrounding it. There is also a stunning patio that looks out onto the grounds. Lots of weddings happen here for good reason! It couldn’t be prettier. Inside of the Chateau is the resort’s famous restaurant, Lautrec! If you love fine dining, you will love this place! It is a 5-star, award-winning restaurant with awards for it’s wine selections to boot. More on this later!

Lautrec
resort's newest accommodations at Falling Rock

Ryan and I have stayed at the Chateau several times, so this time we decided to try out the resort’s newest accommodations at Falling Rock. Falling Rock is located just down the road from the Chateau. It is a smaller hotel with only 42 rooms. However, don’t think that means less luxury! The rooms at Falling Rock come with butler service! That’s right. You have your very own butler to assist you with any of your needs during your stay. You can press a button and someone will come and draw a bath for you. Or call and request it to be drawn when you arrive home from dinner. Pretty nice! We felt guilty utilizing all of the butler services at first. But, that’s what you pay for when you go there and that’s what they want you to indulge in to make your experience that much more relaxing and enjoyable. And that it was! They bring you freshly baked cookies (they even made mine gluten and dairy free, and they were the most delicious gf, df, cookies I’d ever had!! Oh my gosh! I’m drooling just thinking about them now!) every evening. There is always room service available and breakfast items delivered to your room that are included in your stay. When we first arrived, I had a button pop off of one of my dresses and the butler service came and fixed it in minutes! We also enjoyed a beautiful fruit tray and champagne upon our arrival. The service here was beyond excellent!

most delicious gf, df, cookies

In our experience the rooms at Falling Rock are a bit larger yet equally beautiful to the ones at the Chateau. There is a difference in the decor style. But, it’s just as lovely. It is definitely a bit quieter at Falling Rock being that it is a smaller hotel and there are less activities in the building. There is a fabulous restaurant called Aqueous located there. They have excellent steaks and seafood. You enjoy a view of the golf course from the dining room as well. Attached to the restaurant is a bar and lounge where you can also order the same food available to you at the restaurant. For the golfers in the family, there is a pro shop on the main floor equipped with all of your golfing needs!

One thing you might want to note is that you should make reservations at the restaurants prior to your trip, especially on busy holidays. Be sure to make reservations for their amazing brunch as well! You do not want to miss that and there is a limit on seating for it.


On the first night of our stay, we got dressed up and headed over to the Chateau to check out the decorations and have dinner at Lautrec. The lobby of the Chateau was decorated so elaborately, I was in heaven! They do such an amazing job with their decorating for holidays! We have been to their Easter celebration as well and both New Year’s and Easter were so beautifully done! This time there was a big, white, ice sculpture-like building set up in the lobby with gorgeous floral arrangements and blue lighting surrounding it, made specifically for photo opportunities! (This place is very Instagrammable! :D) The kids can also play inside of the sculpture! They really do think of everything. There were Christmas trees lit up exquisitely inside in each room with lots of gold and garland. It was impeccably done!

The beautiful entrance to Lautrec.

After getting some pictures, we were seated at Lautrec in a cozy, quiet, dimly lit spot. Perfect for the quiet romantic getaway we had invisioned! This is where things got so fun! The menu for the night was called “Leap of Faith” which was the chef’s seven course dinner. They gave us an envelope with a sheet of paper enclosed with several different ingredients to choose from. We were to take the quill and ink pen from the table and circle ten ingredients that you like the most and then the chef would prepare the seven courses for you and your guests with those ingredients! It was such a fun, interactive, and unique concept! We loved it! Kudos to Chef Kristin Butterworth! She has been at Lautrec for 8 years. She has received the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards every year since 2011, and it’s easy to see why! She was also recently chosen as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40, how cool is that? Also deserving of mention is one of the main servers there, Terry. I don’t know exactly how long he has been there, but we have been going for 6 years now and he’s been present every time. He is the most amazing server you will ever have in your life! He’s so kind and so knowledgeable. There is no air of stuffiness about him, or any of the servers at Lautrec. But, he always makes the experience that much more special and we appreciate him so much! <3

At Lautrec, you always have the option of doing a wine pairing. We have done this once and it was amazing! However, I cannot drink very much alcohol, so we did forgo that option this time. But, the food was absolutely amazing! My favorite courses were the halibut (which I apologize I got really excited for and forgot to take a picture until I was halfway finished with it), and the beef! But, the best of all had to be the gluten and dairy free dark chocolate pine cone dessert to top the meal off! It so decadent! The chocolate was soft on the outside and thick and fudgy on the inside. It was surrounded by toasted marshmallows, little bites of sugary cocoa, and warm cherries. It was the best dessert I have had perhaps EVER! (Sidenote* I know that I talk a lot about eating Paleo which means NO SUGAR, but I do indulge in a little during the holidays – but that’s seriously IT! If you are new to Paleo or AIP and aren’t in remission, I wouldn’t suggest doing this!)

After dinner, we took the bus back to Falling Rock. They have nice buses with comfy seats and pleasant drivers that are constantly running around the property. There is rarely ever a wait. The entire resort was lit up for the holidays which made riding around on the bus a treat in itself! There was a stretch of lights that we drove through that feels like you’re in a tunnel of Christmas lights! So cool!

The next morning Ryan had a nice breakfast at Aqueous, while I slept in and ordered some food up to the room. They have great selections for those of us with food allergies! I had oatmeal, fruit, and tea. But there was plenty of other choices I could have had that fit my dietary restrictions, too!

nice breakfast at Aqueous

Then, we headed over to the Woodlands Spa. It is such a gorgeous spa! When you enter you feel like you’re in a different world. There are waterfalls, natural light, and lots of natural finishes that make you feel connected to the Earth and so tranquil! The service here was top notch, too. We were greeted and given glasses of champagne and strawberries. They help you to the locker rooms and guide you down to where your designated waiting area is. There are men’s and women’s relaxation rooms to wait in before your treatment. If you are there as a couple, which we were, they take you down to the indoor pool, where you can sit together. From there, our massage therapists came to get us and walked us down into the couple’s massage room. Walking through the halls of the spa is an experience in itself! It’s such a beautiful place with so many peaceful waterfalls, decorations, and artwork to look at.

We both had the 80 minute Woodlands Massage, which you can tailor to your liking. We did deep tissue, swedish, and hot stone massages. They were heavenly! I’ve never had a massage at Nemacolin where I felt like I didn’t get what I needed out of it. The pressure was great, and it was also relaxing at the same time! Just how I like it πŸ™‚ They use essential oils like lavendar to de-stress the body and relieve fatigue. They also used eucalyptus to open up our sinuses when you are turned on your stomach which I thought was so nice! I always get stuffed up when I turn over and my face is in the head rest. Something about being in that position always causes congestion. But, the eucalyptus really helped! The massage was wonderful. We both felt so relaxed and peaceful.

We went upstairs to another one of their relaxation rooms. There were several fire places with big comfy recliners and couches covered in fur blankets. So cozy! I could’ve stayed here all day! But, we had to get back and showered to get ready for our New Year’s Eve Ball.

There were several parties going on at Nemacolin for New Year’s. There was a family dinner party in one area, a band playing at the casino, a party just for kids, live music in the main lobby where there is also a bar, and of course, the Masquerade Ball at Lautrec which we attended πŸ™‚

The Masquerade Ball was really nice! Everyone got dressed to the nines and were seated with their parties. We were all asked to choose masks and then we were served drinks and hors d’oeuvres. There was a live singer doing classic hits and taking requests. She was awesome! I loved her. She was rockin’ out to No Diggity, No Doubt! LOL! She pulled it off, too! So fun. Then, we were seated and the four course dinner started. They were very accommodating to my diet for this meal as well. I got to eat everything that was served at dinner, which is great!

The first course was a take on the Ferrero Rocher candies. They made a “Foie-Rero Rocher” of farm foie gras with apple butter, salted roasted hazlenuts, and maple, topped off with a 10k gold wrapper! I appreciated the creativity, and it was quite tasty, too. The second and third courses were Chilean Sea Bass and a Japanese strip loin and a four hour braised short rib. Very delicious! To top off the meal, there was an entire room dedicated to JUST desserts! Pretty decadent!

I can’t talk about dessert at Nemacolin without telling you about Lautrec’s dessert cart! After you are finished with your meal and dessert, they bring around a vintage dessert cart with assorted novelty candies like swedish fish, candy cigars, and gum drops, as well as macaroons, chocolate truffles of all sorts, and several other cookies and chocolate covered items! You will never leave there hungry even if you try.

After dinner, they opened up the dance floor and the bar was flowing all night. Everyone danced to the likes of John Legend, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Chris De Burgh (Lady in Red!). There were families there with their older children and lots of couples, too. It was a nice quiet party. Nothing too loud or boisterous. We rang in the New Year with champagne provided by Lautrec. It was a really lovely night!

Love Couple

We left Lautrec and headed down to the main lobby where there was more live music and lots of people hanging out by the bar and beautiful seating areas around it. We met some really nice people! It was a super fun way to spend New Year’s Eve and we would gladly do it again!

The next morning we attended one of Nemacolin’s famous brunches! The brunches here are out of this world! They are also hosted at Lautrec in the Chateau. The spread is unreal. They serve up mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, everything you can imagine! Salads, chilled seafood, pastries, breads, roast beef, fish, shellfish, chicken, steak, pastas, omletes, waffles, other breakfast items, and an entire table of incredible desserts! They specially made entrees for me and brought out gluten and dairy free breads and muffins. It was the perfect way to end our stay! Needless to say, we will be returning again soon. It is a perfect place to celebrate anything or just get away for some much needed rest and relaxation! Thank you to everyone at Nemacolin for a wonderful New Year’s celebration and for making our stay so memorable!

Nemacolin memorable dish

You can visit their site and check out all of the amazing accommodations and things to do here. I am also linking my dress and accessories below! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year and wish you much happiness and health in 2019! πŸ™‚

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! I hope that you’re having a great week so far! Today, I wanted to share with you exactly why I choose to use holistic medicine to treat and manage my chronic illnesses. I’m not going to go into a hugely detailed, scientific explanation. But, I will tell you about my experience, which is really the most relevant thing because if a certain kind of treatment works best, why wouldn’t I choose it anyway? We should all be doing what works best for us. So, I’m sharing with you today in case you haven’t considered alternative routes but haven’t had success in following conventional medicine either.

My Autoimmune Story…

Ten years ago now I was at work and my boss noticed that I was jaundiced. This was quite a shock to me at the time, but looking back, it probably shouldn’t have been. I had been sick already for many years with horrible IBS. I was chronically fatigued, and I suffered a lot with depression and anxiety. I thought at the time that it was all my fault. I figured the anxiety was causing the chronic diarrhea. I thought that the depression was what was making me tired and that I was just a lazy person because I couldn’t get myself to do everything everyone else my age was doing. I kind of accepted the fact that I just wasn’t a go-getter and that I was internally flawed. Turns out, I had been sicker than I could ever have imagined the entire time. You don’t just get an autoimmune disease out of the blue. It takes years and years to get to the point where your body is screaming at you and you’re severely inflamed. But, the diagnosis happens pretty quickly. So, sometimes people don’t understand or realize that they were actually sick for many years prior. We tend to just keep pushing forward and trying to ignore signs and symptoms. We brush them off in hopes they go away soon. But, all of those little signs are actually big red flags that our bodies are not functioning properly. We go to the doctor, get a pill, and then maybe our symptoms get better for a little bit, or maybe they don’t and we just learn to deal with it. That was me. I was just dealing with it. I had been to my primary care doctor a million times for my chronic IBS. She’d given me things to try, but nothing ever worked. So, I just lived with it. But, I have no doubt that was a sign that my body was under duress.

I went to the doctor the next day and he ran some tests for my liver functionality. I received a pretty frantic phone call from him as soon as he got the results. He wanted me admitted to the hospital immediately! He said that my liver enzyme levels were around 1,000 and the normal range was 21-30. I was so panicked. I had just been in the hospital a couple of months prior with a severe kidney infection (another red flag!). The last place I wanted to go was back to the hospital. But, I went anyway. I was in there for days as they ran test after test on me. They’d come stick me for blood every few hours, all hours of the day and night, until I had no spots left to draw from on my arms. I finally got to go home, but still didn’t have any answers. Eventually my doctor scheduled a liver biopsy for me. This was an awful experience, too! I hate to sound like a negative Nancy, but honestly this whole experience was a horrifying nightmare. The liver biopsy is performed while you are awake. They numb the skin where they make the incision, but everything from there you feel 100%! They go in through your rib cage with the longest, largest needle you will ever see, and snip a piece of your liver. Not only can you feel it but you can even hear it! It’s so awful. They say it won’t hurt at all, but mine definitely did. They also said that it would heal quickly and I would not feel any pain in the liver because the liver can’t possibly feel pain. Well, that’s not true either. I felt the whooole thing. Beginning to end, and I was in pain for six months afterward.

My doctor sent all of my results to a local specialist who then called and requested that I come in for an appointment. I went in to the appointment by myself and listened as he told me that I had Autoimmune Hepatitis. He said that it’s not a viral form of hepatitis. It’s an inflammatory response in the liver to my own immune system attacking it. Essentially, he was saying, my body was attacking itself. He went on to try to reassure me that this wasn’t the end of the world. I may have a shorter life than others, but I could live a totally normal life and manage this relatively easily. He said I would be on steroids for a few weeks probably and then the inflammation would calm down. I would just have to take another drug called an immunosuppressant (I took Azathioprine for anyone who knows this road) for the rest of my life. That immunosuppressant would lower my immune system so that it wouldn’t attack my liver. So, that sounded pretty manageable to me at the time. I left with a smile on my face and confidence that this would just be a minor bump in the road.

So, I started on the Prednisone and Azathioprine protocol. Weeks and weeks went by with little to no improvement. They told me that I could continue eating and drinking as I usually do. I ate what I thought at the time was a healthy diet and exercised frequently. Sadly, I was still eating healthier than most typical Americans do, but it wasn’t clean enough. I still ate frozen dinners and canned foods. I had processed lunch meats like Subway and sauces with hidden ingredients I didn’t know about. I also still continued to drink alcohol. So dumb. They told me I could! I was in my early twenties and I liked to have fun. So, I still drank alcohol. They said it had nothing to do with why I was sick. I know that it wasn’t the reason why I was sick at all, but I know now that it wasn’t helping the inflammation. I was extremely fatigued. It hurt to get out of bed and I felt like it took everything I had in my body to just get ready to go work, let alone actually drive there and put in a day’s worth.

I had no idea what to expect. Everyone else (with the exception of my husband and I think sometimes even my boss) expected that I should still be able to function just the same. You couldn’t see my illness other than the bloating, acne, and weight gain. I could still walk and talk. I wasn’t screaming in pain, so I should be able to carry-on, right? WRONG. I also know now that when you’re so sick that your liver is making you jaundice, you absolutely will feel like complete garbage. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t depression or laziness causing me to feel this way. I was severely ill! It’s so frustrating to look back now and realize how I let other people make me feel like I was lazy and unmotivated. I felt so horribly about myself. I had no self-esteem, and I felt like I had inflicted all of this upon myself. I even had people questioning if it was partying that caused my illness. Everywhere around me I felt like there were fingers pointed in my direction and I was extremely overwhelmed, frightened for my life, sad, anxious, and exhausted. That only made me feel worse and just go deeper into my depression.

I continued to have the IBS, but now with the Prednisone added in, I was having terrible insomnia, extreme mood swings, increased anxiety, insatiable hunger, acne, moon face (when your face bloats up particularly round), painful abdominal bloating, and weight gain. I was newly engaged at the time. Only a couple of weeks in. Not exactly how I wanted to be feeling at that time or EVER!

I went to get my liver enzymes checked every two weeks. I was so hopeful and sure every time that it would be better, but it never was. I eventually sought out a new specialist. I spent years with her, did so many kinds of testing, and still saw no improvement. In fact, things were getting progressively worse. I did try some supplements around this time. My pharmacist suggested I try things for my gut and inflammation. When I read about it online, it seemed like this was a great idea! So, I bought a whole big bag worth of supplements which totally broke my bank at the time, but I was hopeful I’d see some improvement. When I told my specialist about them, she immediately told me to stop taking all of them right away! She said they were toxic and that pharmacists don’t know enough about this to be giving me supplements. In hindsight, I wish I taken them anyway!

I eventually made a trip to Cleveland Clinic with Ryan and my mom. I went in super hopeful that they would have something different to say than the others I had already seen. But, that doctor took one look at me and said, “You need to be on Prednisone and an immunosuppressant. And, I don’t think your face is bloated from steroids, I think it’s just fat.” I’m not kidding you. He seriously said that! Crushed is an understatement. I left there and was so upset and extremely hopeless.

I finally went to see THE GUY at my insurance-approved hospital in my city. He was the top gastroenterologist and came highly recommended. He said that I had one other option. I could try a different type of steroid called Budesonide. It apparently works slightly differently and does not have as severe of side effects as Prednisone, particularly the weight gain part. Since I was always concerned about the weight gain (55 pounds worth on my 5’3 frame) I desperately wanted to try this drug. It was supposed to also not make it so difficult to sleep and I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in four years at that point. So, we tried to get this drug but quickly realized that it was not covered by my insurance. It was going to cost $1,000 a month and we did not have the funds at that time to afford that. Far from it. So, we had to give up hope on that option. I was crushed. It’s such a shame that better medications aren’t covered by insurance companies. It really upsets me. I know so many people who just can’t afford the better options and have to settle for cheaper, more damaging treatments because they can’t afford it. So much of our current medical system is tied up in insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Money is the driving factor for everything. People aren’t getting the care they need because people are being so greedy about the money.

This was me at my cousin’s wedding. It’s the only picture that I have of me at this time in my life because I would not agree to be in any photos otherwise. I’m glad I didn’t sneak out of this one so that I can share this transformation with you. It’s so hard to share, but I think it’s important. I love how Ryan is still placing his hand on my back. He loved me anyway.

So, I continued on the same protocol. They would just keep increasing and increasing my dosages of the steroids and immunosuppressants. I was taking 60 mg of Prednisone a day and 120 mg of Azathioprine. That’s an absurd amount! Regular doses of Prednisone are 5-10 mg. I was a horrible, miserable, mess! For years I wouldn’t go out of my apartment much at all. I hated being seen in public because I looked unrecognizable. I couldn’t sleep at night, but I slept all day. I barely got out of bed. I ballooned up to 175 pounds. I am naturally very petite. My face looked totally distorted. My upper body was so much bigger than my lower body, too. I gained it all in my chest and belly. It was all anyone would talk about. I felt so ashamed. Most of the time I just wanted to die. I couldn’t see a way out of this and it was just so hard to keep going day after day. I felt so badly for my husband because I was not the person I was when we first met. But, he stayed by my side and kept supporting me.

One day, I was researching online about treatments for autoimmune disease, I came across the autoimmune paleo diet also known as the autoimmune protocol, or AIP. It was an elimination diet that took out any inflammatory foods such as processed foods and oils, gluten, dairy, grains, soy, nightshades, eggs, and sugar. The success stories sounded really great! So, I printed out the information and took it with me to my next appointment with my specialist. He looked it over, handed it back to me, and said, “this is a bunch of horse****! If you want to go buy the most expensive cuts of meat, go knock yourself out, but this is not going to solve your problem.” I accepted that and was let down that he didn’t think it was a viable option, but I didn’t consider giving it a try regardless. There’s that hindsight again!

Eventually my specialist told me that this protocol was clearly not working (you think?). We were five years in. Five years on this same exact protocol and they were now just telling me that it wasn’t going to work? He suggested I try second-tier drugs, one of which was Methotrexate, before he would put me on the liver transplant list. Yikes. My jaw dropped when he said “liver transplant list”. He started to explain about this option to try Methotrexate. Methotrexate is a drug that is used for transplant and cancer patients. It has horrible side effects including hair loss, extreme nausea, vomitting, diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, chills, and not to mention lymphoma! He wanted to make sure that I understood all of these side effects before I started. I also had to stop drinking all alcohol or else I would likely die from the combination! I was so disappointed that a drug this terrible was my only option other than a transplant. But, I figured I had no other choice. So, I committed to no alcohol and started the drug. I was on it for a couple of weeks. It made me violently ill! I would throw up constantly. All afternoon and evening. I was so dizzy, my stomach ached like never before, and the nausea was terrible. At the two week mark, we tested my liver enzymes. With no alcohol and the addition of the Methotrexate, my liver enzymes had gone UP 800 points! That’s a HUGE amount in two weeks time.

When they called to tell me this news, it was a very somber phone call. I was alone in my apartment, and it was the doctor calling me, not the nurse. He said that he was out of options. I had tried all of the drugs that would have any impact. He told me that I would need to go on the liver transplant list. As he explained to me what this would be like and what the rest of my life would look like, my heart sunk. I felt like this was the beginning of the end. He told me that I would live a short life. Generally, 75% of people who have a liver transplant live for at least five years. Meaning, for every 100 people who undergo a liver transplant, approximately 70 will live for five years and 30 will die within five years. My specialist said given my case and the fact that my disease was chronic and would come back, I could expect about ten years. I was 30 years old. As I’m writing this, I tear up because I could possibly be dead right now if I had gone along with this as I had the rest of the conventional medicine protocols. I hung up the phone and broke down in tears. I wondered how I would tell my husband about this when he got home. How do you break this news to your family? I barely remember telling Ryan about it. I don’t really recall even what I did in the few days following that phone call. I know that I chose not to tell my family about it. I just couldn’t even talk about it. (Anyone else just go silent when they’re going through something incredibly difficult?) The doctor told me to go back on the high dose of Prednisone and Azathioprine. He thought it was better than nothing. So, I did.

I couldn’t fathom going through with a liver transplant. I didn’t want to die in less than ten years. I had barely gotten to live yet! I had been sick my entire teen and adult life. I started to revisit that autoimmune paleo diet online. I delved in deep. I researched the heck out of it and I decided that I would give it everything that I had. I set a start date for when I would first go completely gluten free. Then a week after that I would go dairy free, and a week after that I would go full-on autoimmune paleo. I had a plan and I was determined to execute it!

I was still having horrible insomnia. At night I would scroll through a Facebook support group for Autoimmune Hepatitis. One night, I noticed an unusual post. It was a photo of a woman smiling and the caption said that she reversed her autoimmune disease with an all-natural protocol using Alpha Lipoic Acid. No one posts pics of themselves smiling in that group, and certainly no one has ever said that reversing their autoimmune disease is even possible! She said she had found out about this protocol from a book called “Curing Courtney”. It was the story of how a mother reversed her child’s autoimmune hepatitis this way after years of struggling with the same conventional medicine protocol that I had been on. I immediately ordered the book and when it came I read it in one night. It was like reading my own story but through a mother’s perspective. I was so touched by it. The name of the woman who wrote the book is Denise Gabay Otten. She would soon become my hero. She too had been from specialist to specialist desperately seeking answers to save her daughter’s life. Finally, she came upon Dr. Bert Berkson who was a medical doctor of the liver himself. He had seen how liver patients were treated by the medical system and he knew that there were better options. He was working with Alpha Lipoic Acid and found that it was regenerating people’s livers who had been sick for years! People who were on their death beds were making full comebacks. However, the medical system did not approve of using this natural substance because it did not profit them at all. They told him, “we are in the business of transplants”. The business of transplants. It was all coming together. I don’t think that my doctors necessarily were just in it for my money. I don’t think that they wanted me to live a short life. But, I do believe that our medical system is severely flawed and is driven by money. They teach doctors in school to practice in ways that profit. They don’t teach them to truly heal people. So, doctors like mine, when presented with alternative options see no “scientific evidence” that anything other than their treatments would help. Why? Because no studies show that they help. Well, the problem is, no scientific studies are done on alternative treatments. Why? Because pharmaceutical companies are funding the studies. Why would they study the effectiveness of natural treatments? There’s no money in that.

I really resonated with Denise’s story. Her daughter was also able to come completely off of the steroids and immunosuppressants. She was able to live a normal, healthy life! The woman that posted in the group was also off of her medications and her autoimmune hepatitis remained in remission. I finally had a piece of hope!

I found Denise on Facebook and I sent her a private message. She texted me the next day and we set up an appointment to talk. She wanted to video chat! I was mortified because I looked so terrible and I didn’t want anyone to see me like this, not even a total stranger who completely understand why my face would be so blown up. But, I did it and we talked for a while about the protocol and what to expect. We agreed that she would coach me through it. I told her I was doing the autoimmune paleo diet and she agreed that it was a great thing to do! So, I borrowed some money from my parents to pay for her coaching fee and supplements, and I started the protocol!

Within weeks I already had more energy from the diet and supplements. I was even starting to do some exercise! I had my first blood test done at the two week mark, and sure enough, my liver enzymes had dropped! It was the first time they had dropped that much! I was ecstatic and it gave me so much hope to keep going with the protocol. I did not tell my liver specialist about it at all. I knew he would not support it. I simply told him that I would continue on the Prednisone and think about the liver transplant. So, for the meantime, I would take those drugs in conjunction with the supplements. More weeks went by and the numbers just kept dropping. Eventually, I started to decrease my Prednisone amount. Every two weeks we tested my enzymes. Sometimes they would remain the same or slightly go up a few points. This would completely freak me out! I would start to get slightly discouraged. But, Denise assured me this was normal and to keep going.

Meanwhile, my specialist who was ordering the tests was thrilled that the numbers were going down at all. They had no idea why the numbers were truly dropping, though. They thought it was because I was taking the Prednisone by itself, not because of the diet and Alpha Lipoic Acid protocol. Hilarious.

I continued to wean off of the Prednisone and was doing great on the diet. I lost 60 pounds in 5 months! My levels were so close to being in remission but for a couple of months it seemed like I couldn’t get them to budge. I had an appointment coming up with my specialist and I had to get them checked before I went. I was so excited to go see him because I was 60 pounds lighter and down to 5 mg of Prednisone. He had no idea that I wasn’t still on the large dose.

Ok, so I know this is super blurry, but this was me on the right just 6 months after I started the AIP diet. I slowly added exercise into my routine and in a few months I not only had lost the weight, weaned off the prednisone, but also was more fit than I’d ever been in my life! I was a Beachbody coach and I did the 21-Day Fix eating plan while still being AIP compliant, the 21-Day Fix Workouts both regular and Xtreme, T25, and Insanity Max30 (which honestly broke me down, I probably should not have done that one!). My face still looks a little puffy, but so much better! Hence, why my doctor didn’t recognize me!

When we got there, the nurse took us back. She didn’t recognize me at first. When I told her what I had done, she just looked at me and said “Good for you!” in a very non-excited way. Haha. This was the same nurse who prayed over me for my vanity because I was concerned about the weight gain. Yeah. How rude is that?! Pretty sure a 55 pound weight gain is not just a vanity concern. It’s also a serious health concern! They’re also the same ones who always informed me that my BMI was too high. (Huge eye roll…)

When the doctor first opened the door, he looked up from his chart, saw me, looked back down at the chart and started to back away. Then, he looked back up at me with a very puzzled look and said, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t even recognize you! What’s happened?!” I filled him in. Every last detail. I wanted him to know that there are other options out there besides damaging steroids and immunosuppressants. There are things that we can do naturally to support our bodies and begin to heal on a deeper level. He was shocked. He admitted that he couldn’t take credit for it! He even asked me if he could borrow my copy of the book “Curing Courtney”! I was like, dude, you’re a top level gastroenterologist at the best hospital in Pittsburgh. Pretty sure you can buy your own copy! Haha!

He was so impressed with what I had done. But, before I left, I wanted to know if he had my last blood test results. He went back to check. When he came back in, he had a shocked look on his face. He told me that I was in remission! I was finally in remission! My liver enzymes had come down into the normal range! Six years of battling this awful disease and I had finally made it. I’d avoided a liver transplant that would have taken my life at such a young age, and I had done it with my own will power, drive, determination, and the help of an incredible woman, not to mention the patience and support of my husband and help from my parents. I wasn’t a lazy loser afterall! Haha. I felt like I could take on the world! It was the most amazing moment of my life.

Sadly, just eight months after, my body crashed from the usage of the high doses of steroids and immunosuppressants for so many years. In a way, this was a blessing because it lead me to find the true cause behind the autoimmune disease, but it has been another extremely long and painful process. I was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease in a very chronic, late stage. I also found that I have heavy loads of mold, metals, viruses, and other pathogens. I’m still on my healing journey, but I know that I will get there eventually. Healing from years and years of being sick doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process in itself just to find the treatments that work without completely wiping my body out. Killing pathogens is an entirely different kind of healing than reducing inflammation. It’s so much harder on the body. But, I continue to stay on the holistic path, and have no doubts that I can heal. It’s just a matter of the right plan and timing.

My Conclusions…

So, this is why I choose holistic medicine. This is why it makes so much more sense to me to find the root cause of the problem and go after that instead of band-aiding the symptoms with drugs that only harm our bodies more. The Prednisone steroid and immunosuppressants only made my infections worse. They weakened my immune system and allowed the infections to take an even deeper hold. They destroyed my adrenal glands. I now struggle with horrible adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t watch a suspenseful or stressful TV show because I couldn’t recover from the rush of adrenaline for so long. If something startled me I felt like I was stuck at the top of a roller-coaster and couldn’t come down. Having a difficult conversation was unbelievably physically painful because I had no adrenal support to help me handle the stress. Try telling that to someone as an excuse for why you don’t want to talk to them! Haha. Nobody understood because it didn’t show on the outside. But, what those drugs did to me was brutal on the inside. The steroids also caused the mold and candida to grow rampantly in my body which taxes the liver and other organs even more. My kidneys have not been the same since. I have a horrific bladder condition, my other organs have been affected… things just aren’t the same as they used to be before I spent years on those medications. Yet, I’m not angry with the people who prescribed them to me. I’m angry with the medical system for allowing and encouraging it. No one should ever be on that high of a dose of steroids or immunosuppressants for that matter, for that long! It’s absolutely insane. Those are meant for short term use. The fact that we have no better options when there clearly are natural, safe options is absolutely ridiculous! We have been conditioned to believe that our medical system is going to take care of us. We believe that they are doing the best that they can and have the most amount of knowledge of anyone out there. We practically worship doctors because they go to school longer than any of us. But, the fact is, this system is broken and it is not helping us. It’s hurting us. It is not health care. Health care is preventing and healing conditions, not making them worse or ending one’s life too soon for no reason. And can we talk about the domino effect of medications?! Once you start taking a pill you get a bunch of side effects. So, what do they do? They prescribe you another pill to deal with the side effects of that one. And then another for the side effects of the other one, and so on. I was on so many medications I couldn’t even keep them straight! How’s that for healing an inflamed liver?

Now, some of you might be saying, well what would you do if you got into a car accident? Well, of course I would use conventional medicine. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing treatments, surgeries, and doctors out there! (I truly don’t think that the majority of doctors mean us any harm.) I think modern medicine is fantastic for trauma, injury, and other necessary things. But, for chronic illness, I do not find it remotely helpful. And, I’ve had A LOT of chronic illnesses over the years and I often give western medicine a shot, because when we are in pain or some kind of discomfort, we will do just about anything to get out of it. But, conventional (western) medicine for me has never had long-term solutions for chronic issues.

Also, I’d love to tell you my opinion about autoimmune disease. I do not believe that an autoimmune disease is the result of the body attacking itself. Our bodies are extremely intelligent. They know how to heal themselves. They also know how to create tiny humans, give birth to them, know that they need food from us, and they supply it. They do not just randomly go about attacking themselves. I know this now because I eventually found the root causes of my autoimmune disease: Lyme, mold, viruses, heavy metals, parasites, and other toxins. The problem is, for some reason, the medical community does not look for the root causes of chronic illnesses anymore. I don’t know if there ever was a time that they did. I haven’t been alive to see it. They just slap a name on your condition (for which there could be many individual causes, no one chronic condition is caused by the same exact thing, so I don’t know why they treat it as such) and send you home with a drug to band-aid your symptoms. You never get medication to address the root cause of chronic illness. There is a never a cure, because they don’t know why it truly happens. (I can’t tell you how many times I requested to be tested for Lyme Disease and was denied!) You can’t cure something without finding out why it’s happening at all. Did anyone ever ask their doctor why their immune system is attacking itself? What makes it do that? I would guess they would blame it on our faulty genes. It’s always those dang genes. Well, sure, maybe genes have something to do with it because when you’re in the womb you do get toxins and pathogens passed on to you. Plus, if you inherit your parents eating habits and lifestyle, that affects your health, too. But, in my opinion and experience, there is always a pathogen and toxic load involved in chronic, mystery illnesses. It’s not always just passed on from your parents. That is not to say that there aren’t illnesses that are genetic, such as Down’s Syndrome and Friedreich ataxia. But, those are in a totally different category.

Our bodies aren’t made to handle the chemicals in modern day drugs. They bring so much toxicity. That’s why there are side effects. Toxins are one of the major reasons we get sick in the first place, not to mention the fact that they feed the pathogens that also make us sick. So, pumping our bodies full of more toxins doesn’t make any sense to me or others with my same beliefs. I’m not alone here. We have to look at the facts and the truth about how what we put in our bodies effects our health. That includes drugs to treat illness. It also includes our daily diets. No pill is going to counteract a terrible diet forever. Your body will start to break down in other ways. Clearly, coming off of those drugs and removing the inflammatory foods I was eating changed my body so much! I went from dying to having a new chance at life. So, my point here is, please don’t fall victim to believing everything that medical doctors tell you to be true. It’s very dangerous. You have to be your own health advocate and inform yourself! You have the power to change your health right in your own hands. It starts with you and your choices. It is not your fault that you have pathogens and toxins. It’s not your fault that you are sick. You didn’t do it to yourself. No one in their right mind would do that to themselves. But, you can change it yourself.

My Advice To You…

If you’re wondering where to start on your holistic journey, I would highly recommend seeking out an experienced naturopath or functional medicine doctor. You can often find certified ones that are also chiropractors. There is a lot of talk about chiropractors being total quacks. I think that is unfortunate because the majority of them aren’t. Most chiropractors generally want to help you on your wellness journey. I will admit, there are some out there that don’t always know what they’re doing and follow the trends in hopes of growing their businesses. But, if you do your research, ask for referrals, and find someone who has been practicing successfully for years, you can find great ones who can really help and support you. You will find that they are more attentive to your concerns, will do more in depth testing to find out why you are sick, and they will treat your body as a whole – not as separate compartments like conventional medicine does. The human body is all interconnected. Why we treat it like separate computer parts is very puzzling. But, holistic medicine will look at the entire picture. I can’t promise you success overnight or immediate relief. But, I can guarantee that it will help you become healthier! You have to be patient and believe in it. Your attitude towards it is just as important as what you are putting inside of your body. It’s so true that health is all about the mind, body, spirit connection. So, don’t forget those aspects either.

Obviously, I’m not totally healed yet. But, I know that when I put all of these things into place, I see improvement. It’s slow sometimes and so frustrating to get through, but eventually it gets better. I know I can heal and I’m determined to do so.

I do not always have support from friends and family regarding my choices of treatment. In fact, I’d say most people don’t agree with it. It’s disappointing to me. I would hope that they would listen to my concerns, value my opinions, see what I’ve been through, and understand why I would make the choices that I do. But, a lot of them just think I’m crazy and avoiding the help that the western medicine world could offer me. Funny though, most of those people don’t have any chronic health conditions of their own to actually understand firsthand that the medical system does not offer true help for chronic illness. They don’t understand the toxicity of drugs or how they can make conditions worse. They don’t feel the pain of the side-effects. So, I have to stand firm in my beliefs and often keep them to myself. It protects my energy and my sanity! I know what I’ve experienced and I’ve put in the countless hours of research. My body is the one who has been through all of this, and it knows what’s best for me. I listen to my gut and I have absolutely zero doubts that the path I have chosen is the best one. Don’t let other people persuade you. You have to make your own decisions. If you don’t have support around you, find it elsewhere. It’s there! I promise you. There are countless support groups online and in person. You can choose your path and find others who are on it, too.

I am not a medical professional. Please do not take this as advice on how to heal your condition. Rather, let it be inspiration to help you find answers on your own health journey. The AIP Diet helped me a lot. It may or may not be what’s best for you, though. If you want to learn more about my experience doing it and the itself, see my previous post here. I’ve done a lot of trial and error with diets over the years for different kinds of conditions. Each one is unique. So, if one thing doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to get back out there, do some more research, and try another! You will find what works best for you. Follow your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, like getting a serious, life-altering surgery, postpone it and take the time you need to figure out the best path – if you have the time. It’s your body. No one is in control of it but you. You can say no to doctors. They aren’t God. They’re human and they make mistakes just like you and me. Remember that. And if I can ever be of any help to you, please don’t ever hesitate to reach out. I’m here for you! Thank you to anyone who actually read this post all the way to the end! It was kind of therapeutic to write this story and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. I hope that it helps you in some way.

Be well, friends!

XOXO,

Kelly

This is me now, healthier, happier, and still in remission from autoimmune disease! πŸ™‚

Happy Wellness Wednesday, ya’ll! Hope you are having a great day. Today I’m so excited to share one of my favorite clean eating brands with you: Primal Kitchen! I’ve been using Primal Kitchen products for years ever since I started the Paleo diet. Their items are always super clean and healthy and compliant with the Paleo Diet and often Plant Based, Keto, and Vegan Diets, too! I love that they never use gluten, dairy, grains, soy, refined sugars, oils, or nasty additives and chemicals that cause inflammation, gut irritation, and chronic disease. They recently sent me a big box of new and classic products of theirs to try! Here are a few of my favorites…

Unsweetened Organic Ketchup: Well, this just made my entire life! LOL! I come from the land of Ketchup lovers… Pittsburgh, PA is known for being the home of Heinz Ketchup. I grew up covering french fries and chicken nuggets in this delicious sauce. But, as I got older and learned more about nutrition and how to read ingredient labels, I quickly learned that it is full of nasty ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and sugar which lead to heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and weight gain to name a few! On the Paleo diet, I can only eat sugar in natural forms – i.e. fruit and honey. So, high fructose corn syrup and refined white sugar in conventional ketchup are out. Meanwhile, in comes Primal Kitchen with the cleanest ketchup on the planet to save my homemade sweet potato fries from being sauce-less! It has six simple, organic ingredients: Tomato Concentrate, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Organic Spices. It’s delicious and I don’t miss the Heinz anymore! Many thanks to Primal Kitchen for understanding how desperately the world needed a clean ketchup πŸ™‚ Highly recommend this!

Organic Spicy Brown Mustard: I love a good spicy mustard! When you are eating really cleanly, incorporating flavor with spices and sauces is essential to you sticking with the lifestyle change. If you don’t love the way your food tastes, you are less likely to stick with it, right? I love using spicy brown mustard mixed with honey for dipping sauce, or just on it’s own on a burger with a lettuce wrap! Primal Kitchen’s Organic Spicy Brown Mustard is sooo good and it only has five ingredients: Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seeds, Salt and Turmeric! Simply delicious.

Protein & Collagen Bars: If you have watched my Instagram stories lately, you have probably seen me talk about how bad the protein bar options are at health food stores. Most all of them have hidden sugars or inflammatory oils among other additives and unhealthy ingredients. They look healthy and they say they’re healthy, but when you look at the ingredient list and the sugar content, the writing is on the wall. They’re not. My choice for protein bars has always been Primal Kitchen’s Dark Chocolate Almond Collagen Bars! They are so delicious. They remind me of tootsie rolls! Primal Kitchen also just recently introduced new protein bars in a variety of flavors. They sent me the Almond Spice to try and it’s very tasty! They’re less chewy than the collagen bars. They have a much softer texture. They’re also nice, small squares, so you can easily fit them in your pocket, bag, or car. My favorite is still the Dark Chocolate Almond Collagen, though. Those are a staple in my handbag on the go! Both are sweetened with a tiny bit of honey, no refined or cane sugar, and are gluten, grain, sugar, dariy, and soy free! Plus, they are keto friendly!

Collagen Fuel: I’ve been using Primal Kitchen’s Collagen Fuel forever it seems! I love that the Vanilla Coconut Flavor is AIP friendly! It’s hard to find protein powders that fit the Autoimmune Paleo Diet, but this one does. I love to mix it with fruit or avocados, coconut or almond milk, and some spinach or other greens in a smoothie. They also sent me the Chocolate flavor which is equally delicious in a smoothie, water, or coffee if you can tolerate it. You can drink it hot or cold. Collagen is great for the skin, hair, nails, and joints! I’ve noticed my nails have been really long and strong lately. Thank you, Primal Kitchen πŸ™‚

Salad Dressings: Another gripe I have with health food stores is their lack of clean salad dressing options. It’s crazy how many poor ingredients are in them! Almost all of them use canola oil and sugar. Canola oil is usually made from GMOs and is very inflammatory. That’s why I love Primal Kitchen’s dressings because they use only the best and cleanest ingredients like avocado oil in their dressings. I really love the Lemon Turmeric which is vegan, and the BBQ Ranch which is Paleo. They can be used as marinades, too! I’m going to share a recipe with you below using the BBQ Ranch. They have a lot of other awesome dressings you should definitely check out as well.

Avocado Oil: If you haven’t started using avocado oil yet, you need to get on board! It’s one of the best oils you can use for cooking because it has a high smoke point of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it won’t break down and release toxic fumes and free radicals that can damage healthy cells in your body like other oils such as coconut and olive oil. Coconut and olive oil are great oils, but they should not be used at high temperatures for this reason. That’s why I love and use Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil so much!

Mayo:Β Β  I also must mention Primal Kitchen’s Mayonnaise!Β  Conventional mayonnaise has all kinds of gross ingredients you do not want to be eating including canola oil, which is a trans fat that leads to heart disease. Primal Kitchen’s mayo uses Avocado oil which is an oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.Β  Much healthier! So, if you’re going to eat mayo, make it a clean one like Primal Kitchen’s!Β Β 

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BBQ RANCH CHICKEN STUFFED SWEET POTATOES:

I love a good, simple crockpot recipe and this is as easy and tasty as it gets!Β 

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs (2 large) Organic Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Bottle of Primal Kitchen BBQ Ranch Dressing & Marinade
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • Red Onion
  • Parsley Bundle

Directions:

  1. Put your chicken breasts into your crockpot. Cover with 1/2 cup of BBQ Ranch Sauce.
  2. Set your crockpot to cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
  3. Bake your sweet potatoes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
  4. Wash and chop your red onion and parsley
  5. When the chicken is done, simply shred it, leaving it in the sauce.
  6. When your sweet potatoes are done, take them out and cut slits in them.
  7. Take your shredded chicken and put half in each sweet potato.
  8. Top with the chopped onion and parsley and drizzle the remaining BBQ Ranch sauce over top.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this super simple, clean, Paleo recipe! Thank you to Primal Kitchen for sponsoring this post today! Be sure to check out their website here and all of the delicious products they offer. I have been a big fan for a long time and only recommend things I use and love with you all. Primal Kitchen is a standout company and I definitely see myself using their products for a long time to come πŸ™‚

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