Low Carb Gingerbread Balls

Low Carb Gingerbread Balls

I love Southwest.  I love that you don’t have to pay for checking a bag.  I love that the flight attendants are always funny and entertaining.  I love that flights are guaranteed to be pretty dang cheap.  Yep, you guessed it…I’m on a plane!  This post is coming to you from the friendly skies on my way to my first workshop weekend as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I’m so excited for the next 3 days of total mind-blowing, brain-filling lessons on how to be an NTP.  The people I know that have done this program say these weekends are just awesome, getting to spend time with people who think the same way you do about health, nutrition, and wellness.  I’ll let you all know how it goes!

Back to Southwest, I can’t decide if I love or hate the ‘no seat assignment’ concept.  Let’s say this…I love it when I’m an A.  But, when I’m a B or C, I’m not so happy.  Yesterday, I checked in 5 minutes after my 24 hour check-in time and got in the B group.  Dang it!  

I was elated when boarding to still be able to find one of the last window seats available.  Score!  And then, not even a minute after I got comfortable in my seat, there was kicking, screaming, and crying directly behind my chair.  Uh, oh, it was an unhappy baby on a plane situation.  Not my favorite thing in the world and I always feel really bad for the parents, but still, my dreams of a little airplane nap were O V E R.  I knew it was going to take a little bit more for me to be in my happy place on this plane ride. 

  • First, I needed something to make this plane ride somewhat enjoyable.  I needed something else to listen to besides baby cries.  I plugged in my earphones and blared some Janet Jackson Greatest Hits.  (Yes, it’s amazing…I love the Jackson’s and I love the 90’s…don’t make fun!)  
  • Second, I needed a distraction.  It was time to bust out the Us Weekly.  Celebrity gossip is a guilty pleasure of mine and I always buy a magazine when I’m at the airport as a special travel treat.  (Again, don’t make fun!)  
  • Third, I needed some yummy, fun snacks!  More specifically…a sweet treat!  Luckily, I had packed some of my Gingerbread Balls to bring on the trip.  It was the perfect time to have one…or all of them.

After my Pumpkin Pie Ball recipe was such a success for the Thanksgiving season, I knew I had to come up with something similar for the rest of the holidays that would allow even people following the Autoimmune Protocol to have a festive dessert!  

Introducing…Gingerbread Balls!

These Gingerbread Balls are a fun and easy holiday treat!  They have a ton of the gingerbread flavor we all love this time of year and are still grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free.  They are a great addition to this year’s cookie plate and something that everyone can enjoy regardless of food sensitivities/allergies/intolerances. 

Gingerbread Balls are also the perfect pre- or post-workout energy bites, with the right combo of fat and carbs to keep you fueled.  Take them with you on your next adventure!  They pack and travel really well.

Gingerbread Balls

A holiday sweet treat that everyone can enjoy! These treats are nut-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, egg-free, dairy free, and soy-free but FULL of flavor!
Prep Time10 mins
Author: Shawn Mynar

Ingredients

Balls

  • 1/4 cup coconut manna or butter
  • 1/4 cup dates roughly chopped (about 6-7 dates)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar optional

Coating options

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender.
  • Process until all ingredients are well combined.
  • Using your hands, GENTLY roll dough into 1" sized balls.
  • Put your choice of coating in a small bowl.
  • Roll balls into coating until completely covered.
  • Arrange balls onto plate.
  • Place in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  • If making ahead of time, store in refrigerator and take out 10-15 minutes before serving.

Low-Sugar Pumpkin Pie Balls

Low-Sugar Pumpkin Pie Balls

I love apple pie.  And I make a pretty darn good one.  But, I’m always so conflicted when it comes to dessert at Thanksgiving. I have to have apple pie, but then I really want pumpkin pie too. I end up filling my plate with both desserts, even though I just got done stuffing my face with a plate…or two…or four of Thanksgiving dinner. The result is barely eaten desserts and a super full tummy.

Not the case anymore with these low-sugar, keto-friendly pumpkin pie balls! I am definitely taking these to Thanksgiving dinner this year. That way, I can have the few bites of pumpkin pie that I really want, but save room for the ENTIRE piece of apple pie. Yes! Crisis solved.

These balls are so good, so easy, so festive, and so….healthy! Each ball has a serving of energizing, satiating fat and less than 2 grams of natural sugar from raw honey. Not to mention the wonderful vitamins and minerals in pumpkin. While this will definitely pass as a dessert, it would also make a perfect midday snack or pre-workout energizer.

GET YOUR HEALTHY FATS IN

One of the questions I get most often as a nutritionist specializing in a high-fat, low-carb keto diet is how to increase healthy fats enough to get into ketosis without resorting to spoonfuls of butter or coconut oil. These pumpkin pie balls are always my answer. With a base of coconut, you’ll get the healthy fats you need for your keto diet, but in a dessert-like package.

YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE

The best part? The whole family will love these! Give them to the kids for dessert or a midday snack. And, be sure to bring them to your next office party, family gathering, or girls’ night. They make a perfect dish to pass, especially during pumpkin season.

Alright, let’s get cooking…or, rolling, I guess we should say!

IMG_0634

Pumpkin Pie Balls

A 2-bite pumpkin pie snack that is low in sugar too!
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Author: Shawn Mynar

Ingredients

Balls

  • 1/4 cup coconut manna or butter
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey OR 10-15 drops liquid organic stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg omit for AIP
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice omit for AIP

Coating

  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Place coating ingredients in small bowl, mix well and set aside.
  • Place all ingredients for balls into food processor.
  • If you do not have a food processor, mix by hand.
  • Mix until a smooth dough forms.
  • Roll into 1-inch sized balls.
  • Immediately roll balls through coating mixture until evenly coated.
  • Arrange balls on plate.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Can be made several day ahead and stored in and airtight container in the refrigerator.
Omit the coconut oil and use remaining ingredients as a Pumpkin Pie Spread!

Knocking Out Autoimmune Disease – Bovine Colostrum

Knocking Out Autoimmune Disease – Bovine Colostrum

UPDATE 7/2016:
It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote this post and it has consistently been the most popular post I have ever written. For this reason, I think it is important to give an update. The popularity of this post makes it very clear to me just how many people are out there struggling with autoimmune disease and willing to try everything to put their disease into remission.
This is exactly why, since writing this post, I have completely changed my career path to become a holistic health practitioner. Not only have I been working on my own gut health for these past 2 years, but I now have helped many others do the same. 
I’ve learned a lot since then. First of all, I still very much believe in the power of colostrum to aid in gut healing. It is great at providing immediate relief from some of the nagging symptoms that a leaky gut can cause. Surthrival is still my brand of choice and really makes a great product as you’ll read about below.
However, I need to make it very clear that just taking colostrum and hoping for a healed gut and remission for autoimmune disease is going to lead to disappointment. There’s SO much more to it. Starting on colostrum and writing this post was just the beginning of a long gut healing journey that involved much more than colostrum. Yes, it was a piece of the puzzle, but it was only ONE piece of my puzzle. Everyone’s puzzle will be different and the path to finding all of the pieces will be unique to everyone too.
I am happy to report that I just received word from my doctor that my ulcerative colitis antibodies are non-existent and I am completely off medication! My diligence in healing my gut has paid off.
And it can for you too. END UPDATE.

I am in an all-out fight with my autoimmune disease and I’m finally winning! For the past 15 months, my ulcerative colitis (UC) and I have been in an intense battle and for the majority of that time, I was losing. I began following the Paleo lifestyle right away and got in a few good punches, but after awhile, it fought right back.

I went stricter and eliminated even more foods to follow the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and really started to get some great strikes in to this persistent disease. But then, I got pinned. I had eliminated some of my favorite foods, taken away my ability to eat out at great restaurants, and given up my social life in order to keep my symptoms from flaring. But, I wasn’t getting any better. I was stumped and frustrated, not ready to give in to the battle.

My rock bottom came not long ago. I was hungry for a midday snack and grabbed a beautifully ripe, locally grown peach. I don’t eat much fruit and hadn’t enjoyed peach season yet, so I was excited for the treat. Instead, I got sick. Minutes after eating the peach, I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. Intense pain and bloating from one tiny little piece of fruit led me to the most frustrated mental state I had been in since starting my healing a year before.

Something had to change and now. I went to my trusty friend, Google, for advice. Just a bit of research and I had my ‘Aha!’ moment. It was something I knew all along but hadn’t taken the time or effort to actually do.

I needed to heal my leaky gut, not just try to get rid of my UC symptoms. Autoimmune diseases WILL NOT go into remission if gut health is not restored. All this time I had been focusing on healing the wrong thing. I had been taking out any foods and factors that caused my UC to flare, instead of spending my time working on HEALING. It may not sound different, but it is. I think this is where so many of those suffering from autoimmune diseases go wrong. 

Research shows that leaky gut is one of three factors that makes someone susceptible to autoimmunity, along with genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Even though I already knew all of this (thanks to The Paleo Mom) which is why I was on AIP in the first place, once I was deep in the diet trenches, I began focusing on the wrong issue and not getting anywhere. 

Back to my story…

I am a huge believer in fate, so when I ran across a post on Instagram from Alexandra at High On Fat entitled How I Healed My Leaky Gut” the exact same day as my ‘peach incident,’ I knew I needed to take her advice. I was desperate for help and wanted those words to be in my vocabulary too! The post was all about a new supplement she had been taking that had healed her gut and changed her life — bovine colostrum.

What is it?

You may already be familiar with colostrum: the ‘pre-milk’ fluid produced by mammary glands during the first few days after giving birth. This is the first food given to a baby to provide them with essential growth factors to build the gut wall, antibodies to build immunity, and vital nutrients to give them strength in their first days of life.

Bovine colostrum does the same thing, just in cows. Human consumption is not new. It has been prominent in Ayurvedic healing for thousands of years and was once the treatment for infections before pharmaceutical companies took hold and antibiotics became popular. 

What does it do?

The more research I did, the more benefits I found. The list is seemingly endless. But don’t take my word for it. Here are excerpts taken from reputable sources surrounding the human consumption of bovine colostrum:

Crohns.net

“Colostrum has the greatest components of ingredients directed toward the digestive tract. Its growth factors help cells of the digestive tract redevelop themselves and it also has immune factors that reestablish the immunity of the gastrointestinal tract and kill off bad bacteria that is overgrown. Colostrum decreases intestinal permeability and enhances the assimilation of nutrients.”

“Colostrum contains powerful immune factors (immunoglobulin, lactoferrin, cytokines, etc.) that work to restore optimal immune functioning. Colostrum also contains PRP, shown in clinical studies to both enhance an under active immune system and balance an overactive tendency.”

Web MD

“Bovine colostrum is also used for boosting the immune system, healing injuries, repairing nervous system damage, improving mood and sense of well being, slowing and reversing aging, and as an agent for killing bacteria and fungus.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

“Bovine colostrum has been used as a dietary supplement to treat diarrhea, infections, colitis, and to improve athletic performance. In vitro studies suggest that bovine colostrum has anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive properties.”

“There is also some evidence that bovine colostrum prevents NSAID-associated gastrointestinal damage and is effective in treating distal colitis.” 

So, I gave it a shot! I was skeptical but I also didn’t think I could make things any worse just by trying it. 

The Results?

Within a week, I felt like a whole new person! So much so, that I didn’t actually believe it could be true. I kept doubting that it was working. But everyday, I kept getting better and better. Not only did my UC symptoms vanish, but ALL of my digestive issues were gone, my energy was through the roof all day, and I was just happy… because I finally felt free. Even though autoimmune diseases stick around for life, mine is no longer reminding me everyday.

After a few weeks, I began reintroducing foods I had given up months ago for AIP. First up were eggs. After my first breakfast with eggs, I wanted to get up and dance on the table. Not only did I not have the reaction I had in the past when trying to reintroduce, but I felt nourished and energized! I’ve kept the eggs and have also been able to add almond butter and coffee so far!

Now, let me be clear. I’m not going out eating donuts, pizza and nachos. I’m still following the Autoimmune Protocol with the addition of eggs and almond butter, and plan to slowly continue to add REAL FOOD in a controlled manner.

Which one should I take?

Here’s what to look for:

  • Sourced from pasture-raised, organic cows
  • No antibiotics, GMO’s, hormones
  • Provided only after the newborn calf has been given its share
  • Harvested within 8 hours after birth
  • Low pasteurization temperatures (flash pasteurization below 115 degrees)
  • Pure Colostrum (not colostrum-whey)

I took the advice of Alexandra and began taking the same brand of colostrum that she recommended, Surthrival. After visiting their website, I feel very comfortable in the integrity of the company and what they stand for. I highly recommend this product.

A Few Warnings 

This product may contain a trace amount of lactose and casein and could have a slight effect on those with severe lactose intolerance. If you have severe intolerance, Surthrival recommends taking a lactose digestive aid along with your colostrum dose for several days while initiating it into your system. I have a dairy sensitivity and had no problem without the need for an aid. Alexandra was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and was fine with it also.
Your first few days may be a little rocky! Some people may experience a “die-off effect” as the body releases toxins in the form of digestive problems, skin eruptions, rashes or flu-like symptoms. This is a sign that it’s working. These symptoms usually disappear in a couple of days. Start with a small dose and work up into the full dose to avoid these symptoms. I started with 1/4 tablespoon twice a day and worked my way up. The first two days I experienced flu-like symptoms and just didn’t feel well. By the third day, I was beginning to feel amazing and it’s only gotten better since!

If you’re a ‘Google-er’ like me and would like to do more research, here are a few more great links that I referenced for this post:

www.naturalnews.com 
http://www.icnr.org/articles/lgs.html
http://www.surthrival.com/customer_support
photo credit: LaVladina via photopin cc
keto for women supplement guide

Two Bite Lemon ‘Cheese’cakes

No matter how little sugar I have in my diet, I still have a pretty solid sweet tooth. I love desserts, especially baked goods. Luckily, there are millions of great Paleo recipes for cookies, cakes, and muffins out there. But so many of them use eggs and almond flour…2 things that I can’t have while on the Autoimmune Protocol.

My craving was so intense on Saturday that as soon as breakfast was over, I set out on a mission to make SOMETHING that tasted dessert-like. PJ’s, crazy hair, and dessert!

If you don’t count the spices and vanilla, this will be a 5-ingredient recipe! We all have the stuff in our pantry anyways.

Two Bite Lemon 'Cheese'cakes

Two Bite Lemon ‘Cheese’cakes

Two-Bite Lemon Cheescakes (Paleo, AIP-friendly)

makes 6-8 bites

Bottom:

5 dates, roughly chopped (if hard, soak in water for 5 minutes before chopping)

1/2 C. toasted coconut (get recipe here)

1 Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)

1 tsp. cinnamon

Top:

1/4 C. coconut butter (get recipe here)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (more if you like lemon-y flavor!)

Dash salt

Combine all ingredients for bottom in food processor and pulse until it becomes soft and dough-like. Melt coconut butter by placing jar in a bowl of hot water. Once melted, combine all ingredients for top in a small bowl and whisk together. Use hands to roll date ‘dough’ into 1″ sized balls then use thumbs to flatten into a disc shape. Top with a slightly smaller disc of ‘cheese’cake and use hands to mold both together. Once all bites are formed, cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Tope with lemon zest for garnish. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to a week.