Everything Pumpkin !

 

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed the rather 'unseasonable' weather we've been having here in the Canadian Rockies. It isn't unusual for it to snow in early September, but,  it typically disappears pretty quickly....not this time. We got a HEAP of snow (30cm to be precise) and it stayed below zero every day last week. These frigid temps sent me lunging for my slow cooker and craving all of my favourite PUMPKIN recipes.

Circa Thanksgiving 2013...pie...best enjoyed with Scrabble

Circa Thanksgiving 2013...pie...best enjoyed with Scrabble

What is it about pumpkin? I swear, it's the veggie equivalent of bacon! One mention of it sends people into a tizzy. Perhaps it's the slightly sweet, carby nature of this starchy veggie, or maybe it's the spices we often pair with it that conjure up good memories of family and warm cozy days spent fireside. Regardless , I wanted to share a few amazing pumpkin recipes with you and talk about the benefits of pumpkin as a part of your healthy fertility or pregnancy Paleo diet.

 

 

Pumpkin's Paleo Pregnancy Friendly Nutritional Benefits at a Glance

  • Pumpkin is one of the lower carb starchy winter squashes. A 100g serving typically contains 8g of carbs (3g of which are fibre). It's also rich in soluble fibre which can help feed your happy belly bacteria and optimize your gut microbiome. This can be a good choice even when you're following a reduced carbohydrate diet or if you have gestational diabetes.
  • Rich in vitamins such as folate, niacin, vitamin B-6 , thiamin and pantothenic acid, vit-c, vit-a (more on this next week! and vit-e.
  • A good source of potassium. This can help re-fuel you after a workout and can also help to keep your electrolytes in balance. If you suffer from pregnancy related leg cramps this can really help. 
  • Excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, beta- carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the retina of the eyes. 
  • It tastes great is is often well tolerated in the first trimester when food aversion and nausea can dominate your life. In fact, the vitamin b-6 in pumpkin may actually HELP your morning sickness, especially if paired with ginger...think pumpkin pie! 

Slightly sloppy but seen here sporting a good dollop of coconut manna. 

Meg, The Modern Paleo Midwife's Pregnancy Pumpkin Gelatin Treat

This delightful single serving recipe utilizes the flavours of classic pumpkin pie while benefiting from healthy fats from coconut milk and the healing qualities of gelatin. There is also a sugar free option if you use stevia. 

Serves: 1

2/3 cup Coconut Milk (From a carton, light or full fat depending on how rich you'd like it)

1/3 cup Bpa free canned pumpkin or puree from homemade roast pumpkin

3/4 tbs Grassfed Gelatin

2 tsp Cinnamon 

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 tsp Nutmeg and Sea Salt (brings out the sweet and spice)

Stevia to taste (for sugar free) or 1-2 tbs coconut palm sugar, honey or maple syrup

Combine 1/3 cup of the coconut milk and the pumpkin and heat in microwave (for 1 min) or pot on the stove until just starting to bubble but not boil. In the mean time, bloom gelatin in remaining 1/3 cup of coconut milk, stirring well to combine.  Add spices (adjusting to taste), salt, vanilla and sweetener to gelatin mix. Once pumpkin/milk is hot, add the gelatin/spice mix and stir until gelatin mix is totally dissolved. 

Let set in fridge for 1-2 hrs until firm. Top with more cinnamon, melted coconut butter, whipped cream or my personal fav, vanilla coconut milk ice cream! 

Other Great Paleo Pumpkin Recipes (all Modern Midwife Approved!) 

Pale OMG's Round Up of her fab pumpkin recipes. 

Spunky Coconut's Pumpkin Chili 

Eat Drink Paleo's Pumpkin Garlic Cauliflower Mash and Meatballs

Classic Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes from Diane Sanfilippo's Practical Paleo

Elana's Pantry's Classic Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Paleo Mama's Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

 

 

 

Blueberry Gummies and why Gelatin is Great!

New CaveGirl Plus One NEWSLETTER! 

Extra Extra have you heard the news? CaveGirl Plus One now has a newsletter! Eacy bi-weekly newsletter will include a special recipe and some insider tips to help you maximize fertlity and grow a happy healthy little cavebaby. Here's a little smattering of what you'll find in these bi-weekly emails. To sign up, simply add your name to the list on the right hand side of the screen. 

The Magical Powers of Gelatin

True story....I use gelatin a lot! Here are a few quick reasons why you should incorporate gelatin into your diet. 

  • Helps with gut healing and digestion
  • Helps to combat constipation
  • Supports healthy hair and nail growth
  • Helps skin become more 'elastic' (good for fending off pregnancy stretch marks)
  • Source of protein and healthy amino acids that are only found in joints of animals. This includes Glycine, which is a potenent anti-inflammatory. 
  •  Helps balance hormones. This can be helpful for women who sufferfrom PCOS or estrogen dominance. 

Blueberry Ginger Gummies

These healthy low sugar gummies are a source of electrolytes thanks to the sea salt. They are a great quick snack, pick-me-up during a trainning session or or as an easy to digest labour fuel. The ginger can also make them great for nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy. 

  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

  • 1/2 cup boiling water

  • 2 tbs balsamic vinager (or more water)

  • 2 tbs grassfed gelatin (find it here

  • 2 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp powdered ginger

  • Stevia as desired to taste 

Place the blueberries, stevia and balsamic in a small saucepan and cook for 5-10 mins or until cooked and have released there sweet juices. Transfer to blender or use an immersion blender (careful if your mixture is hot!) and puree until well blended. Return to pot.

Mix gelatin into water and allow to "bloom" for 5 mins. 
 

Re-heat blueberry mix adding in sea salt, ginger and gelatin mix. Don't let boil but get hot enough to mix in gelatin. Stir well until combined. Allow to sit for 30-ish mins and then transfer into a silicon mini muffin pan or molds of some sort. Chill for 3-4hrs and enjoy! 

Why Ice Cream is your friend when you are Paleo or Primal and Pregnant

My version of Paleo 'Mint Chip' Ice Cream

I have a confession to make...I am a totally obsessed ice cream lunitic. I just can't get enough of the stuff. There is something magical about ice creams sweet melty goodness, especially on a hot summer evening, that I just can't get enough of. I routinely chat about the importance of reducing sugars in the second and third trimester with my midwifery clients. You may be shocked to learn that a part of that discussion always includes an endorsement of ice cream as a perfect pregnancy treat. Why? Read on :) 

 

Why ice cream is an ideal Paleo friendly pregnancy treat

  • Grassfed dairy or goat milk ice cream (Primal) is loaded with calcium, beneficial saturated fats (needed to absorb the calcium) and Conjugated Linoic Acid (CLA). These combined with a nice ratio of protein and carbohydrates, helps to negate the insulin spikes caused by added sugars. Dairy based ice cream could be included on a Primal diet or on a selective dairy based version of a Paleo diet. 
  • Coconut based dairy free ice cream (Paleo) also has many benefits including being rich in saturated fats and lauric acid. Lauric acid plays a fundamental role in building your body’s immune system. Once in your system, lauric acid transforms into an antibacterial and antiviral substance called "monolaurin" which destroys viruses and diseases. Lauric acid also occurs naturally in human breast milk and plays a vital role in nourishing and protecting babies from infections. Cocount is also rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) which promote weight maintenance without raising cholesterol levels. Coconut based ice cream is also much lower in sugar than many other treats.
  • Ice cream satisfies your sweet tooth. A healthy diet is all about not feeling restricted. Endulge in sensible moderation and enjoy food...it's magic. 

Making Paleo ice cream at home

I bought a simple and inexpensive cuisinart ice cream maker a few years ago. Let me tell you,  in the summer time it gets used frequently! Making your own ice cream is a bit delicate but once you get everything right, it gets much easier. Tips for perfect ice cream:

My Paleo version of Cherry Garcia in the works. Thank you Ice Cream Maker! Want your own...see the link at the bottom of this post! 

My Paleo version of Cherry Garcia in the works. Thank you Ice Cream Maker! Want your own...see the link at the bottom of this post! 

  • Use a thickener: I use grassfed gelatin but agar-agar or tapioca starch can work too.
  • Make sure all your ingredients are COLD. I keep my ice cream maker base in the freezer for 24hrs + before using it. I also pre-freeze my ice cream storage dish and refrigerate my ice cream batter before churning it in the mixer. 4-24hrs is ideal.
  • Store your precious creamy treat in a shallow glass dish. This will help it defrost evenly and ensure you get pretty scoops.
  • Don't eliminate fat by using "lite" coconut milk or "low fat" milk. The fat is essential for the texture and taste. Plus, it's where most of the benefits are found.
  • Don't eliminate all the sugar (unless on 21day Sugar Detox), some sugar is required for good texture. You can sub half the sweeter with stevia if you like. 
  • Watch your portions. Standard portions are 1/2 cup - 2/3 cups. 

I follow a dairy free Paleo diet and have been messing around with various ice cream recipes for years. Recently, I picked up a copy of Kelly Brozyna new book Dairy Free Ice Cream and it's changed my life! Her suggestions for thickeners using gelatin really helped the texture of the ice cream. It's something I'd experimented with before but couldn't quite get the ratios right. So far I've tried her recpies for chocolate, brownie batter, vanilla and used her ideas as a starting point for some of my own versions of classic treats including a mint chocolate chip and paleo cherry garcia (recipe below). Honestly, you have to buy a copy of this amazing book! 

Want Ice Cream but don't want to make it? 

Ok, so perhaps the process of ice cream making isn't your 'cup of tea'. Here are a few Paleo/Primal friendly tips to keep in mind when purchasing commercial based ice cream.

  • Watch out for stablizers, additives and thickeners. Carrageenan is a common thickener that can cause digestive distress in some folks and is a bit controversial. See Chris Kressers post, here for more info.
  • Check and see what the ice cream is sweetened with. Stay away from Agave nectar when possible. It is a sub-optimal sweetner for a number of reasons and I don't endorse it's use on a paleo or primal diet. In my opinion, agave is pure evil. 
  • If buying dairy ice cream, try to find grassfed dairy or goat milk dairy. Many local producers will make their own ice creams. In Canada Woolwich dairy goat ice creams are widely avaliable but grassfed dairy is harder to come by than it is in the United States. Mapletons Organic is pretty decent stuff although not grassfed.
  • If buying non-dairy ice cream, stay away from Soy and read labels. The cleanest commercially available coconut based products I've found include: Screamin Brothers which is locally made here in Alberta and is honey as its sweetner. The widely avaliable So Delicious is transitioning all of its products from agave based sweeteners to organic cane sugar (yahoo) and it's coconut ice creams are pretty great. 

Meg's Verion of Paleo "Cherry Garcia"

I love my ice cream on a gluten free cone. These cones have pretty paleo friently ingredients and can be a nice little paleo cheat #notperfectpaleo.

When I was a kid, cherry ice cream used to be my favourite. I would call it "beetle" ice cream because the cherries looked like beetles to my little 5 year old mind. I decided to try to recreate my childhood favourite after being inspired by Spunky Coconut's Kelly Brozyna. 

Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups Sweet Fresh Cherries (frozen would work too) pitted

1 container Full Fat Coconut milk (BPA free and organic if possible)

1 cup unsweetened almond, hemp or coconut milk (carton)

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar or 1/2 cup soft dates made into puree

1 tbs pure vanilla exract

1 tbs natural almond extract 

1 tbs grassfed gelatin disolved into 1/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (or dark chocolate bar chopped) 

Puree 1 cup of cherries in blender and add coconut milk, date paste/coconut sugar, vanilla exract, almond extract and blend until well combined. Add hemp, almond or carton based coconut milk and blend another 1-2 mins. Add in disolved gelatin/water mixture and blend for an additional 2 mins. Transfer into a glass dish and set into fridge to cool 4-6hrs. 

After your mixture has cooled it will resemble a pudding. Stir to break up any clumps and transfer into your ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturers directions (mine takes about 20 mins to set into a nice soft serve). Add remaining 1 cup of fresh cherries (cut into halves or quarters) and chocolate chunks. Process until these add-in's are well combined. Transfer into a pre-chilled shallow glass dish and let set in freezer for 1-2hrs or until desired consistency. To re-use your ice cream just set on counter top for 30 mins until soft. ENJOY! 

Want more great recipes? Sign up for my Newsletter on the side bar to recieve bi-weekly recipes, tips and info right to your inbox! 

I made donuts out of Plantains...true story

I've been shying away from recipe posts as of late. I'm just not very good at being patient enough to measure and time everything I do and man, I'm no expert in the kitchen. This one however was a full stroke of luck. It's delicious. Filled with Paleo friendly healthy carbs and starches and is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth. These donuts are also a healthy option if you're dealing with carb cravings and food aversion in the first trimester. Feel to switch up the recipe and harness your creative spirit! Add some cacao powder, top the donut with coconut butter, almond butter or chia jam instead of ganache, the sky's the limit here. 

You can see here that Plantains come in a variety of "ripenesses". Green are a great form of resistant starch. As they get more "ripe" and black, they develop there sweetness and develop a much softer texture.

You can see here that Plantains come in a variety of "ripenesses". Green are a great form of resistant starch. As they get more "ripe" and black, they develop there sweetness and develop a much softer texture.

What are Plantains?

Plantains are a starchier, less sweet version of a banana found in tropical regions. They are high in carbohydrates and are a source of antioxidants, B-6 and fiber. All good stuff for a health pregnancy. Green plantains are a source of resistant starch which are beneficial for gut flora proliferation. 

I topped my with gluten free sprinkles. Not quite 100% paleo but hey, I'm no perfectionist! 

Paleo Plantain Donuts (makes 5 mini donuts*) with a Sugar free (option)

1- 7oz (peeled) Plantain**, yellow with no black spots  

2 tbs melted coconut oil

1 egg (at room temp)

1 tsp baking powder

Few drops of stevia to taste or 1 tbs coconut sugar or other sweetener of choice

1 tsp vanilla powder (you can use extract too)

Ganache Topping:

1/3 cup enjoy life chips or 1/3 cup krisda chips (for sugar free)

1 tbs coconut oil

Preheat oven to 375. Chop plantain into a few pieces and place in your blender. Blend until smooth. Add melted coconut oil, egg, baking powder and vanilla powder. Blend until smooth. Spoon into a greased mini donut pan and bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven and cool slightly before removing donuts from pan. Let cool.

Prepare the ganache by melting chips and coconut oil together stirring well. Dip the cooled donuts into the hot ganache and top with coconut, gluten free sprinkles or whatever else tickles your fancy. 

* You could easily double the recipe and use a larger donut pan. I imagine these also would make great mini muffins or cupcakes. 

** Green banana will likely work for this recipe too if I you can't find plantains where you live

Paleo, Pregnant and can't give up cereal? Your not alone!

What is it about that morning, afternoon or bedtime bowl of cereal that is just so special? For western cultures, cereal is  as much of a staple as meat, eggs and dairy. So much so, that entire grocery store isles are dedicated to the sales and marketing of these non-paleo products. 

The problem with cereal: Lectins and Phytic Acid

If your new to the Paleo diet you may be wondering, what the heck is so wrong with my bowl of whole grain organic nutty "0"'s anyway? Well, aside from the obvious suspects (sugar, food colouring and additives), the problem is that cereals are made primarily from grains. Grains are smart...smarter than you may imagine. They contain compounds called lecthins and phytic acid that are designed to protect the plant from predators and aid in their reproductive success. 

Lecthin is a toxic compound that acts somewhat like a natural pesticide, protecting the plant from harmful predators like bugs. Phytic acid is a substance found in seeds that protects the nutrients the plant requires for reproduction. Pretty smart! When we eat foods containing high levels of these compounds (like our morning flakes of goodness), we expose our bodies to toxins, which act as irritants and also bind to minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium, that our bodies need to stay healthy and grow a sweet little baby. This is why these two compounds are often called 'anti-nutrients'. 

 "BUT ALL I CAN EAT IS CEREAL!"

 I hear you sister! If you've made the transition to a Paleo-friendly diet, you've likely cut out cereal products entirely, but what happens when you become pregnant? For many, the craving for cereal becomes overpowering in the first trimester. In fact, many women find breakfast cereal is all they can tolerate during the first few months of pregancy. So how do you navigate this when you're trying to maintain a paleo friendly grain free diet? Here's how...

Seek out soaked & sprouted grain cereals

Most traditional cultures sprout and soak their grains. Sprouting grains helps break down many of the anti-nutrients. When grains are soaked, they engage an enzyme called phytase. Phytase, helps break down phytic acid (in small amounts) and aid in nutrient absorption. Lethicin is also reduced a small amount during the soaking and sprouting process.

Gluten free cereals such as One Degree Organic's Rice Cereal or Arrowhead Mills Sprouted Corn Flakes are all good options for the pregnant mama who just can't tolerate much other than cereal and needs something fast she can buy from the store. 

You could also try a Paleo Cereal alternative, such as any of these 15 Cereal Recipes. The version of cinnamon toast crunch is my fav and isn't as fiddly to make as it seems. You could also pick up some of Steves Paleokrunch Cereal. They ship across the country and are good alternatives to grain based cereal when eaten in moderation.

Fermentation

The process of fermentation seems to have the greatest effect on reduction of the grains anti-nutrients across the board. The problem is that it's tricky to find pre-packaged cereal! Actually, it's impossible.

In traditional West African cultures, fermented cereals are a staple food. Sometimes called Ogi, it is typically made from maize, sorghum or millet sprouted for 3 days before straining to remove the husk (often then fed to livestock) and prepared as a porridge.  

This recipe from Brittany Angel is genius and may just help fend off your cereal cravings

The process of making traditional sourdough breads includes a substantial fermentation process. If a piece of toast would serve as a good substitute for your cereal craving, I suggest you seek out a traditional bakery in your area and ask if they can make a gluten free sourdough or make your own.

Gluten free Sourdough Recipe

If you feel like toast may be a good cereal substitute, you could try to avoid the grains entirely and enjoy a good slice of Paleo friendly grain free bread. Here are two recipes I've tried that are pretty great and rather easy to make.

Brittany Angel's Grain Free Bread 

Elana's Pantry Paleo Bread

    Stay away from Gluten: Period

    Even though gluten and lethicin levels may be reduced a small amount by soaking, fermenting and sprouting, the effect is minimal (when compared to other grains) and should still be avoided. Foods containing gluten irritate the lining of the gut and affect its permeability. Some believe this can lead to "leaky gut syndrome".  Many people also may experience a full blown inflammatory immune system response when exposed to gluten. During pregnancy, when your body is already in an immuno-compromised state,  best to avoid gluten entirely. For this reason sprouted cereals such as Ezekial 4.9  and wheat based sourdoughs should be avoided. 

    Be gentle on yourself

    Remember, there is no such thing as a 'good' and 'bad' food. You aren't a terrible person if you break the 'paleo' rules and give your body what it is asking for every now and again. "Paleo perfectionism" (thanks Diane for that awesome phrase),  can create unnecessary stress in your life and hold you back from reaching your goals of a happy, stress free pregnancy. Do your best, nourish your body with nutrient dense foods and if you need to live on sprouted brown rice cereal for a few months, so be it. Just try to make the best choices you can. 

    A little September link love....

    Oh, man! I've been a little under the weather lately but wanted to wet your whistle with a few links I've been following this week (while in the comfort of my sick bed!).  

    • Start squatting and stop doing kegels: Women often ask me about Kegles. How many should they do? How often? How did the kegel become the 'wholy grail' of pelvic floor health? This one exercise fails to recognize the complexity of our most wonderful pelvic floor. This post summarizes many of the recommendations I share with my clients. Katy Bowman also has her own site and iphone/ipad APP. Check it out on itunes! The best $9.99 you'll ever spend. 

    Stay tuned for a new post on Pregnancy Tea's in the near future...until then, I'm going to continue to be a tea granny myself and nurture my need for rest. 


      

    Lamb Liver Lovin'

    Like many of you, I try to incorporate a healthy dose of liver into my diet. Liver has enormous nutritional benefits and is one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and amino acids you can find in the grocery store. Sadly, eating organ meats has fallen out of favour in our modern society. This seems to have occurred as we become more and more disconnected from our food sources and continue to move further away from the farm. In our ancestral past, nutrient dense organ meats were reserved for chiefs, royalty and the most revered members of society (in many cultures, this included PREGNANT WOMEN). 

    Why I love liver: 

    • It's cheap: 1lbs of organic/grassfed liver costs me no more than around $3.00. I buy mine from Rowe Farms in Toronto. 
    • Nutrient dense
    • Can taste great if prepared the right way.
    • I feel NOURISHED after eating it. My body feels happy whenever I eat liver and craves more. 

     I recommend liver to all my clients or for anyone trying to optimize their fertility, health and wellbeing. Try to incorporate it into your diet at least once a week if you can. Here's a recipe inspired by the Purely Twins, Lori and Michelle, that's been helping me get my weekly dose. Lamb liver in particular is mild in flavour and is a great 'starter' liver for folks new to organ meats. 

    These taste great with zucchini noodles or my personal favourite, on a pillow of cauliflower/broccoli mash (made with coconut butter. Absolutely to die for). Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations, the possibilities are endless. They also freeze well, so you will always have a quick go-to meal that's both healthy and nourishing. 

    Lambs Liver Meatballs

    by Meghanne Reburn

    Prep Time: 10

    Cook Time: 15-20

    Ingredients (24 meatballs)

    • 454g Organic/local lambs liver
    • 454g Extra lean grass-fed ground beef
    • 1-2 cloves of garlic crushed
    • 2 tbs dried rosemary
    • 1 tsp dried sage
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 2 tsp dijion mustard
    • 1 tbs nutritional yeast
    • sea salt and pepper to preference

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350C

    Finely chop lamb liver until it's almost a mushy paste (sounds gross but it's okay..don't panic). You may use a food processor to do this if chopping isn't your thing.

    Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand. Form small balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Should make 24 balls. Place on cookie sheet and set in oven until cooked. Mine took about 20mins but it will vary depending on the size of your meatballs.

    Cool and serve with zucchini noodles, kelp noodles or on a pillow of cauliflower mash. These also taste great with a bit of coconut oil or butter on top!

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