Today, as I celebrate my 31st birthday, I want to take a moment to reflect upon this last year. My sister tagged my 30th year as a year of adventure. And there was much adventure. I got to celebrate my birthday last year with family in New Orleans. I went sky diving in the summer – something I never thought I’d do since I used to close my eyes on roller coasters (lol). I challenged my body and mental toughness, tried new foods, and transitioned to an entirely new diet.
It’s fun to remember these adventures and the people I got to enjoy them with. But, I cannot reflect upon the year without realizing that it has also been the most physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging year I have yet faced. Receiving a diagnosis I did not want, feeling miserable, months of die off symptoms, bone broth fasts, losing strength, giving up things I love (running, favorite foods), feeling isolated, and the depilating feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. And I can’t forget the long night of sickness from the bone broth fast. This year has been hard.
BUT God is faithful. God is good. He has given me the strength each day, provided resources, healthcare, and access to healing foods. He has given me community and encouragement. He has created my body so intricately and wonderfully with the ability to regenerate cells and heal. He has created food and herbs with healing power sovereignly knowing exactly what our bodies need. And I’m still persevering and slowly healing.
Even more than the physical and emotional provision God has provided through this journey, He has drawn me nearer to Him. He has gently and lovingly called me deeper and closer to Him in my faith. He is teaching me to address issues of control and anxiety and to learn to trust and rely on Him. He is teaching me to love better and live wholly committed to Him. So, there is much to be thankful for in the challenging year I have faced.
As my year of adventure comes to a close, I am going to be moving into a year of Eucharisteo – grace, thanksgiving, joy. I just finished reading the book “one thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp and am challenged to spend this new year focusing on thanksgiving and journaling the wonderful gifts God provides to me each day. I am confident that this will lead me to a greater level of intimacy with my Creator and Savior!
“The highest form of prayer is to the goodness of God…God only desires that our soul cling to him with all of its strength, in particular, that it clings to his goodness. For of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our soul.” – Julian of Norwich
Before I go, I wanted to give a few food highlights recently – Raspberry “Cheesecake”, Zucchini Bread, Sheppard’s Pie, and Turmeric Broccoli Chicken Roll-ups.
Coconut and Raspberry Cheesecake Ingredients:
For the Crust:
- 3 cups dates, pitted and soaked for 5 minutes in warm water
- 1 cup coconut oil, melted For the Filling:
- 11⁄2 cups raw honey
- 11⁄2 cups coconut butter
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 5 cups frozen raspberries
- 6 tablespoons tapioca starch
For the Filling:
• 1⁄3 cup coconut flour
• 1⁄3 cup shredded coconut • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
• 11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
• fresh raspberries for garnish
• thick coconut flakes for garnish
1. Place the jars of coconut oil, coconut butter and raw honey in a pan with very hot water in order to let them soften.
2. To prepare the crust, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Strain the dates and place in a food processor or high-powered blender with the melted coconut oil. Blend for 30 seconds or so until a chunky paste forms. Be warned you may have to stop and scrape the sides if you are using a blender, and the oil will not completely mix with the dates, but the crust will still turn out fine. Combine the coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt in a bowl. Add the date paste and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture into the bottom of an 8′′ spring-form pan, pressing the mixture down evenly. Use a small spatula to clean up the top edge around the sides of the pan, where the filling will meet the crust. Bake for 30- 35 minutes, until the crust browns and hardens a little bit. The texture will still be soft until it finishes cooling. Set aside while you make the filling.
3. To make the filling, combine the raw honey, coconut butter, coconut oil, and frozen raspberries in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the raspberries are no longer frozen and the mixture is warm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and add the tapioca starch, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on high for about a minute, until completely mixed. Pour carefully into the spring-form pan on top of the crust.
4. Set in the refrigerator undisturbed for at least 12 hours to allow the cake to cool and completely harden. When it is solid, carefully remove the spring-form pan. Decorate the top of the cake with thick flake coconut chips and fresh raspberries.
Zucchini Bread Ingredients:
- 3 medium zucchini, grated (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup palm shortening or coconut oil (I find the palm shortening sets up better)
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 3 tbsp gelatin powder (for three gelatin eggs)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- 3 tbsp room temperature water
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Dump the shredded zucchini in a large mixing bowl and toss with salt. This will draw the moisture of the zucchini and make this easier to bake and assemble. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain the salt water off! This is key!
- Bloom the gelatin in the apple cider vinegar and 3 tbsp of room temperature water. Let sit for a few minutes before vigorously stirring in the 1/4 cup of hot liquid until there are no lumps.
- Add gelatin “eggs,” maple syrup and shortening to the zucchini and thoroughly mix. This will look kind of gross, but stick with it!
- In a separate bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda and cinnamon, mixing thoroughly.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until a thick batter forms.
- Squish the batter into the loaf pan, flatten on top and bake for an hour. To test for doneness, stick a knife in the middle – if it comes out pretty clean, the loaf is done – if not, give it five more minutes at a time until it is done.
- Let your bread cool – this is the hard part, but the loaf won’t set up if it’s hot. It’ll have to cool for at least an hour before you can eat it!
Note: An important caveat here is that draining the zucchini is essential, as is properly blooming the gelatin eggs! If your bread didn’t come out as you expected, perhaps one of the following can help: proper gelatin blooming – the gelatin needs to completely absorb the room temperature liquid before hot water is added, otherwise it will not set up properly, and your bread will be mush! Cooling time – gelatin eggs need to set, as does coconut oil!
Did you remember to drain the liquid off the zuccini? This is a super important step! If you don’t squeeze out the excess moisture, this bread will be soup!