the world’s best (allergy safe) banana chocolate chip muffins

Banana muffins are a staple year-round in our house! The gentle flavors of cinnamon and sweet notes of banana go perfectly with everyone’s favorite food group: chocolate!

For those of us with allergy issues baked goods can be a potentially risky, as allergens can be especially prevalent and hidden in unsuspecting ingredients. This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, low-calorie, and delicious as a quick breakfast or an afternoon treat.

Ingredients: 

1/2 C “EnjoyLife” chocolate chips

3 very ripe bananas (unfrozen or fully thawed preferred)

1/3 heaping C melted coconut oil

1 egg

1.5 T vanilla

1 t baking soda

0.5 t salt

2/3 C sugar

1 1/2 C GF All-Purpose 1-to-1 flour

Pinch of cinnamon to taste

Procedure

-Preheat oven to 350*. Grease your muffin tins with cooking spray (yields average of 12)

-Peel bananas. Place in bowl with melted coconut oil & mash until well-incorporated.

-Add in salt, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir.

-Add in egg and beat until well-mixed.

-Add flour gradually and chocolate chips. Stir. *Do not overstir.*

-Fill tins and bake for 25 minutes or until the toothpick test comes back clean.

Being healthy or dealing with allergens does not have to inhibit your ability to enjoy baked items! With simple substitutions and ratio differences, you can enjoy the same taste and consistancy with treats that are safe to eat.

Comment below how it turns out! I’m enjoying one as I write this post.

Best,

Christina

resolutions when you’re in the trenches

New Year, New Me! The declarations of millions wanting to change their lives, throw everything out Marie Kondo-style, and lose a trillion pounds rang out on 1/1/2019. Almost in unison, precisely at midnight. You may have had a few, too. Maybe they’re goals for you. Maybe drastic changes. Resolutions to change for the better are good, provided they are in an attainable and healthy context. If you are one of the thousands struggling with chronic disease or a mental health crisis such as anxiety or depression, it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed with guilt when we: A.) Don’t make any resolutions, blow it off, and continue to exist in our perpetually repetitive ways, or B.) Make a million handwritten resolutions (in our very favorite gel pen on beautiful stationary like those Instagram bloggers do) and fail. Each one of them. Be it fail completely or fail to meet the time requirement, we fail. Why does it have to be so black and white? Why do we feel like we have so much to make up for? Is it just the script that we have been made to feel that since we are sick, or sad, or scared, we somehow owe more just to be a functioning equal in society? This type of thinking is destructive and tears our already taxed mental health apart. Whether you’re currently struggling physically, you’re postpartum, or you’re a perfectly healthy individual just trying to make it in the world – you are under no obligations to anyone or anything to hold tight and succeed under these ‘resolutions’ that have no bearing on any time clock. We are ever changing, ever growing, ever receding. It helped my internal dialogue to picture my ‘view of self’ as a river in the seasons. In the summer and hardship, I may dry, pulling back in fear or uncertainty, trying to make decisions to direct my life one way. Or, in the winter/autumn months: months of growth and change – rising, rising, rising and ebbing to a flow that isn’t my own. But even in the middle of all this change and recession, I still ask you to look at the One who controls your seasons and time. Your ebb, flow, and tempo. Are the goals aligned with His own? Is your mission to drop ‘that nasty baby weight’ healthy for you holistically, mentally, physically? Is it worth ripping ourselves to shreds when we inevitably fail in the name of being human? Resolve to do a Bible Study every other day. Resolve to do a good deed not daily, but weekly. Resolve to make your coffee as you pray in the morning – God doesn’t forget us, we shouldn’t forget him either. Resolve to survive. Resolve to live.  We get up. We regain our balance. We put one foot in front of the other. And we try again. Happy New Year! May this year bring you peace and a renewed vigor to pursue your life’s passions. Life is too short.

it’s not that bad

Hello!

Over these past few months I have been taking a break from blogging and posting for several different reasons – not the least of which is being insanely busy and trying to juggle the new normal of school, working, and a baby.

Besides the obvious, I’ve been purposeful about stepping down from the writing because I haven’t felt worthy of trying to help right now. I’ve been absolutely drowning in severe anxiety and bouts of postpartum among the reality of living with a post Lyme body that’s very mad and confused.

I think that the imposter syndrome hit me hard around September for whichever reason. How could I be reaching out, trying to help people, if I was drowning in the ocean right next to them? I didn’t even know how to make it to the next day without completely losing it, let alone doing so with songs of praise on my lips.

I became emotionally constipated with bouts of emotional diarrhea. I’m sorry for the language, but I don’t know how else to say it. One week I would be completely numb, unable to feel any emotion besides the usual annoyance or panic – then, the next week I would be a sobbing mess, raging at the smallest of inconveniences and crying at every opportunity I got because my soul was/is sad and hurting. But I cannot for the life of me pin down why.

This continued, along with the roulette of physical manifestations of actual symptoms mixed with anxiety from being sick for so long, in a breakneck cycle. I was driving myself and my family insane. But, it did give me the opportunity to be a bit introspective as to why this could be causing it, beyond the obvious postpartum hormone shifts.

I believe that as chronically ill individuals, we cope as best we can. That can mean cancelling all plans on the weekends, or that can mean dragging ourselves through our regularly scheduled social calendar and chanting that “it’s just not that bad, others have it worse, at least I’m not in a wheelchair this week,” or any other mantra that fits for that particular day.

I think this helps, in the day to day.

I think this is harmful, long term.

Because when we are always saying what we hear other people or doctors say and own that for ourselves – that it truly isn’t that bad, we just need to get over it, etc etc….

We stuff it in. We choke it down. We consume and consume all of the pent up frustration and confusion until it’s all quiet.

In the quiet lies the chaos and anxiety.

So we busy ourselves. We run all over the ends of the earth with this coffee meet-up and this work event and this playdate…

Until we can’t…

Until the fears that live in our brains take over and chain our wrists and spines to our beds, and our pain is so severe we cry ourselves to sleep every other night.

This is the vicious mental health cycle the health community fails to address, as it is barely capable of addressing our physical needs.

It is on us to stop the behaviour. It is on us to encourage eachother to rest, and to live in the moment – no matter how dreadful it is. We cannot allow our emotional spigot to become clogged in the monotonous chant of “pick up, and soldier on.”

We need to feel.

We need to fall.

And we need to overcome.

But, we cannot overcome what we constantly deny.

Fight your battles and lean on your support system. For those that feel they have no support system, you have this blog. A voice in the crowd that understands and feels for you and is happy to pray for you.

Please, own what hand you’ve been dealt. Let’s make the best of it together.

Xx

Christina

italian-style meatballs // gluten-free, dairy free, low-histamine

These meatballs have become a staple in our home – especially on gluten free pasta night! Even if you have no diet restrictions, these are delicious and so easy to throw together after work.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. ground turkey (yields 8-9 big balls or 12-14 smaller balls) (easily doubled)

6 basil leaves or 1.5T dried basil

1t 21 Herb Salute Spice from Trader Joes (see reviews here)

1/2 C Cornflake Crumbs

1 Egg

1T Salt

1/2 T Pepper

Pinch of Thyme to taste

1/2T onion salt

3T Olive or Coconut Oil (for frying)

PREPARATION

Combine wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls. Gradually stirring, incorporate dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Roll into balls of your size choice, small-to-medium recommended for thorough cooking and quicker cooking. Pan fry in a pan of oil as directed above for 10 minutes, allowing each side to brown and cook through. Midway through cooking, add a half a cup of water to the pan and place lid on the pan for thorough cooking.

Enjoy with your favorite pasta and sauce combination.

the tragic loss of self that comes from chronic illness – and how to be an overcomer

Struggling with any form of disease, especially for an extended period of time, can severely undermine your understanding of yourself and even your comprehension of your sanity. After countless white rooms and specialist opinions and side effect upon side effect from your long list of medications, there’s little care or attention given to your mental health and self-awareness after the fact.

So, how do we pull ourselves from the rut? How do we allow ourselves to find ourselves again? Our passions, new and old, that we may or may not have energy to care about anymore… or even just a motivation to get out of bed to use the restroom that day?

I struggled with this in the wake of nearly a decade of chronic illness, a traumatic pregnancy, and ppd/ppa. I literally forgot who I was as a person… it hurt.

I’m not going to lie. I am still finding that person.

But keeping all that hurt and confusion and rage inside hurt me. It made me sick. It confused me further. I felt like I fell down the rabbit-hole, not even sure of what day of the week it was.

In this post, I’ll be listing basic strategies I used to get out of the worst of it for any stage of life you may be in – bedridden, mobile, parent, single, coupled, etc.

We can always say “it is too hard,” or “we are too sick” to do something. But, that is simply not the way out. You reach rock bottom. The end of yourself. You are dark, perhaps. You are at your limits. So you give. You climb like hell until you see a speck of hope or light. This post is to help you find those specks.

Whether you’re bedridden, running around, busy with children, or simply by yourself, take sixty seconds in the morning to pray. Prayer can be meditation if you aren’t there with God yet. And that’s OKAY. TELL Him that. TELL Him of your trust issues. He is big enough. Get your brain in the proper headspace to take on your day. One of acceptance and peace with the fact that you can’t really manage to move for the day. One of forgiveness as you stumble through a busy day of appointments, work, school, kids… and exhaustion. It’s okay.

Try out hobbies like you would try new foods. Go into it knowing you may fall in love. Or you may be unable to do it/finish. Push yourself slightly and throw a party if you manage to get out the door and GO to the yoga/ceramics/painting/dance class or WHATEVER it is that sets your soul on fire. For me, that thing was yoga. I panicked the whole class because I actually let myself let go and relax – my brain wasn’t used to that. But it was easier as time went on.

Explore. See what your city or online services have to offer to keep your brain busy if your body isn’t in the space to do that much.

Remind yourself that your physical limits, temporary or otherwise, are a part of you. Make peace with that. Remind yourself that it is OKAY to feel sick. But it is even better to live as vibrantly and as active as you can! Self talk is MASSIVE in this.

Research what can HELP you. I don’t mean boards where people are chatting about how hopeless and miserable they are. I mean credible sources and topics to discuss with your practitioner.

Talk to a therapist, if you can afford it. Be sure to hire a therapist that has worked with chronic illness patients before.

Channel your pain into writing or art, if you can. This helped me immensely when I didn’t feel like talking.

Alternative modalities and therapies CAN help. I have lots of information on this that I am happy to share. A lot of them are proven and science-based methods of therapy such as aromatherapy or acupuncture.

Try to get some sunshine every day. If you can’t walk, open a window. Let the light in. If you can, take a small walk every day. Breathe. Take the time to deep breathe.

Listen to gentle acoustic or piano music – something wordless. This keeps your brain active as it studies the musical components as you just rest or do another activity. This can help brain agility and has potential to aid in calming you down if you struggle with anxiety.

Remember that this life is temporary. It is our duty to live to the fullest we can.

Remember thankfulness and happiness is a state of mind. I know it’s hard to swallow.

Remember that not all hope is lost, not ever. Just hold on and ground yourself in the NOW. Not the future.

These are just a few tips that helped me when I was in a similar place. I hope I was able to help you. x

Christina