How to Read Food Labels for Celiac Disease

Hello Friends!

I thought this would be an important post to make because I have been unintentionally glutened twice in the past month, which is not good at all! Thankfully it must not have been much because I am still eating and not feeling too terrible.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I was lucky that I had my dad to teach me about reading food labels. He also has celiac disease, so he had already been avoiding gluten for a while by the time I needed to.

For those of you who don’t have any family knowledge or just want a refresher, I came up with this list. 🙂

The easiest way to guarantee that the food you are eating is gluten free is to eat fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and organic meats or fish. If you don’t want to follow those guidelines forever, you must make sure that anything in a can, box, bag, or package is 100% gluten-free.

Before you buy a processed product, you should check these things:

Is there a gluten-free label on the package?

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  1. If there is, check the nutrition facts for warning labels about cross contamination. Sometimes companies are within the gluten-free ranges, but they still process gluten containing foods on the same machines. For celiac patients, these foods aren’t safe.
  2. If there are no warning labels, you’re good to go. 🙂

If the package is not labelled gluten-free:

  1. Check the nutrition facts for warning labels about cross contamination.
  2. Check the ingredients for any gluten derivatives.

If you find a non-labelled gluten-free product, it is a good idea to email the company for more information before assuming that it is safe. I recently started purchasing a generic brand of organic foods because there were no warning labels and had safe ingredients. Just to be safe, I emailed the company, and I found that none of their products are guaranteed to be safe for celiac patients. For me, it’s not worth the risk.

I did, however, find a coconut milk brand that is safe, despite the lack of gluten free labelling.

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The company doesn’t use any gluten containing ingredients in any of their products, so their canned milk is perfectly fine to use! Companies are usually very responsive with things like this, so it is definitely worth the wait.

It is truly better to err on the side of caution and pass on any food that you are unsure of. The less gluten you are exposed to, the more your intestines can heal, and the better you will feel.

You will make mistakes every once in a while, but remember that it will always pass. Things will get better, and you will learn more in the process!

I hope this helped some celiac newbies, and I hope it will help keep you feeling well.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions! 🙂

 

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Lemongrass Ginger Bok Choy (GF, DF, Vegan, AIP)

Hello everyone!

I got a lot of comments from friends to post the recipe for the bok choy that I made a few weeks ago, so here it is!

It’s very simple and highly nutritious. And I got to paint a fun picture for it at art guild yesterday!

You will need…

1 Head of Bok Choy
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger (Peeled)
2 Short Pieces of Lemongrass

  1. Rinse and chop the bok choy into bite size pieces.

img_05062. Mince the ginger and lemongrass.

3. Melt the coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and add the ginger and lemongrass.

4. Cook for a few minutes, and then add in the bok choy.

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5. Sauté bok choy, stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes or until the leaves are wilted. If you like your stems a little less crunchy, you can cook the leaves and stems separately! I like my stems crisp, so I cook them at the same time. The leaves cook much faster than the stems!

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6. Add salt and pepper if desired, and enjoy!

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Ratings:

Difficulty: Easy
Taste: 9/10
Cost: 10/10 (very cheap recipe!)

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and let me know if you try it out at home!

May Reads

Hello friends!

First of all, I wanted to give you all a little update. I have continued to feel better and better each week, and I have successfully gained 24 pounds. I am heavier than I have been in about 3 years, and I am SO glad! I had a really great time this past week. I’ve gotten to see many friends, and I have loved being able to forget for the most part about my stomach! I got to go to the Friday Fest kick-off downtown, which was tons of fun, and I got to hang out with the lovely art guild peeps for the second time. I have an interview at a potential new job this week, and I am getting closer to finding a place to live in the fall. I am very excited and nervous about the new changes, but I am hoping that it will work out. I’m also trying to learn how to use my drawing tablet a little more, so I used it to make the title photo. It is WAY harder than I thought, but it’s a ton of fun too.

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Art guild painting!

Anyway…

One of my favorite things to do is read, and it is perfect for days when I don’t feel the best, although that is happening less and less!

This month, I read a few books that I really enjoyed, so I thought I would share them with you all. I’m trying to read more to keep myself from spending all of my time on the internet. I hope blogging about my books helps me stay accountable, but I’m not going to stress about providing a detailed review. I want to keep it short and to the point for sanity. 🙂

The first book I read was titled The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health by Emeran Mayer. This book was very scientific, but I found it really easy to understand and follow. It helped me understand just how much good or bad digestion can change our health, and it was a great book for my recent diagnoses. This book explains that while the mind obviously affects our gut, our gut can also affect our minds, and it supports those ideas scientifically. I found it extremely informative, and I would recommend this one to anyone who struggles with GI issues, mental health, or both!

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I also read On the Divinity of Second Chances by Kaya McLaren. This book is about a dysfunctional family (like all of us), and how they overcame the rough patches. The parents’ marriage was falling apart, and their grown children’s lives were not what they expected them to be. “With the help of a group of tap-dancing old ladies, a sensual tango teacher, and a lot of luck, this family is about to learn that everyone gets a second chance which, as McLaren beautifully reminds us in this inspiring novel, is sometimes even better than the first.” This book was a nice break from the longer, more scientific things I had been reading. It was light-hearted, funny, and just unpredictable enough to hold my attention, but not so much that I got angry. 😛 This is a great book for anyone who likes to read, but doesn’t have enough time to sit down and finish a Tolstoy.

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For the past few months, I have been trying to read books based on the TV series Gilmore Girls. Another blogger has compiled a list of every single book Rory Gilmore read throughout the show, which was 339 books total! I have only read 8 so far, but I am determined to finish them all sometime in my lifetime! I usually just go down the list and pick a random letter or title that sounds good. This month, I read Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry. I really enjoyed the book, but I found the excerpt on the back to be a little misleading. Here’s what it said:

“Aurora is the kind of woman who makes the whole world orbit around her, including a string of devoted suitors. Widowed and overprotective of her daughter, Aurora adapts at her own pace until life sends two enormous challenges her way: Emma’s hasty marriage and subsequent battle with cancer. Terms of Endearment is the Oscar-winning story of a memorable mother and her feisty daughter and their struggle to find the courage and humor to live through life’s hazards — and to love each other as never before.”

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It seemed that the plot would follow both characters evenly, but most of the book was about the mother. I didn’t mind that too much, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Emma’s battle with cancer was about 40 pages at the end of the book, which I thought was way too abrupt. It left me disappointed because of how hasty it was, although I guess that’s how life works out most of the time.  I really want to see the movie of this book, though. I’d be interested to see how different they are, and if they included some of the funny scenes. This book was pretty lighthearted as well, and I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Have you all read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

The Beauty of the Mountains

There’s something about being in the mountains that makes all my problems seem small and insignificant. I think it’s because they are so big and beautiful; there’s no room for anything else. A couple weeks ago, I got to stay in the Rocky Mountains for a few days with my boyfriend, Steven. We had a lot of fun, and it will always be one of my favorite memories. But for me, it was a little more than just a relaxing vacation.

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I wasn’t planning to write about my experience, but a blogger that I’ve come to love wrote a post that changed my mind. I hope that by sharing this, I will encourage some of you who deal with the same things I do.

I got out to take some photos earlier this week, so you’ll get to see them too! 🙂

Before I write about the trip, I think that I need to explain a few things that have been going on in my life. Most of you know that I was very sick a few months ago, and I had gotten some medical diagnoses that weren’t good.

Here’s the part that you don’t know:

One day, I came across an article about eating disorders and their effects on the body. I curiously went through the list in the article, and I noticed that I had every physical symptom of being severely malnourished. I had a dangerously slow heart rate, thin hair growing everywhere, low body temp, and lots of other unpleasant things. I desperately needed to eat more.

But I was afraid. I was afraid of having pain and nausea and ending up back in the emergency room. I would go to bed hungry because it was easier than dealing with the anxiety around eating and the pain that usually followed.

Starvation causes the body to release endorphins that lower anxiety, so I didn’t know that I was hurting myself. I thought that I must be doing something right because my anxiety had dwindled down to zero. I actually felt better not eating.

After more research, I realized that I was not anywhere near okay, and I started the AIP Protocol for my Celiac Disease as well as making myself eat three meals and three snacks per day. Each meal and snack was a fight with my brain, and many times, I didn’t think my stomach could handle the food. Within the first week, I had gained ten pounds.

After a few more weeks, I was starting to trust my stomach a little more, but my anxiety had returned full force. I was afraid that my stomach would just keep stretching and stretching, and my confidence plummeted. I have never thought much about my looks, but having a disproportionate belly and stick thin arms and legs did start to get to me. It was just in time for me to see Steven after eight months apart. Great.

While he was here, I had terrible thoughts about myself. Even though I knew that he didn’t think anything of my new weird proportions, I felt ugly. I was embarrassed to eat outside of the house because of how big my stomach grew afterwards, but I knew that I had to eat to get better. So I ignored those thoughts!

Later on in the visit, we decided to take a weekend trip to the mountains so that we could have some time to ourselves to talk and catch up. It was beautiful and relaxing. The second day into our trip, though, I had a panic attack-the first in months. I had a twinge in my chest, and my brain blew it out of proportion. I was scared, and I cried a lot. I hated that he had to see me like that, but it meant so much to me that he was there to help me through it. After I had calmed down, we went for a drive, and all I could think was that I was a terrible girlfriend. I didn’t want to be such a mess for the short time we had together.

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The last day arrived too soon, and we headed back home. We were both pretty down because we knew that it was almost time for goodbye again. I spent most of the ride home lost in my own thoughts, and they were still rotten. I was beating myself up about every little thing and thinking about my constantly bloated stomach way too much. I felt gross on the inside and the outside.

As I was looking out the window, my thoughts shifted to the creator of the mountains – a much better subject. I thought that if the mountains were this beautiful and amazing, He must be even more so.

And then something in my mind clicked, and I realized that the same creator that made those beautiful mountains made me too. 

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He looked down on all the beauty in the world and decided that it needed one of me. 

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Why would I say such hateful things about something created by the sculptor of the mountains?

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This really came at the perfect time, and it brought me to tears (happy ones). I grabbed Steven’s hand and held it tight. I was so thankful for him, and I was so thankful for God.

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I will always have bad days with my anxiety and thoughts, but knowing these things and reminding myself of them always pushes them farther away.

This post is a little scary for me, but I really wanted to share it after reading the post I linked above. I don’t think that I talk enough about my experiences and struggles, and I feel like my posts usually paint a much prettier picture of my life and thoughts than reality.

Anyway, thank you for reading and sticking with me through this strange time. Having everyone’s support means the world to me. 🙂

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIP Month One

Hey everyone! I’m back. I took a bit of a break to spend time with Steven, so I didn’t get around to making blog posts.

We hadn’t seen each other for eight months, so I was pretty excited.  We got to make a few trips to Denver, and we got to stay at the YMCA for a couple nights. It was beautiful, and we had tons of fun! I’m so thankful for the new health and the ability to travel a little bit again.

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We saw so many of these in the few days that we were in the mountains!

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Waiting for dinner time and watching Friends.

I didn’t really change anything food-wise while he was here, but I did try out a couple new snacks. I didn’t want to risk feeling gross while he was visiting, so I ate lots of safe foods. I have been able to start eating strawberries, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, coconut, and spaghetti squash, though!

So far, it has been one month on AIP. I have gained over 12 pounds, and I have experienced a huge reduction in symptoms! The nausea is gone, and I haven’t skipped a meal in weeks. I have a ton more energy, and I am able to do so much more! I am starting to get bored with my food, though, so I am considering reintroducing some things.

While on AIP, I have also had to follow a low fodmap diet for IBS, which eliminates some fruits and vegetables. I think I may try reintroducing those things first before reintroducing some of the non-AIP foods. I haven’t decided yet!

Anyway… I thought I would share the two snacks that I have come to love! They are both gluten-free, vegan, and AIP compliant.

The first is plantain chips! I was so happy to find these at Natural Grocers. I can eat an entire bag in one sitting, and I know it’s not the healthiest. But I let myself do it because I need the extra weight! Ha.

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The other snack is sweet potato chips. Most brands use a vegetable or seed oil to make the chips, but Jackson’s Honest uses coconut oil! The coconut oil makes these chips completely AIP compliant, which is amazing. I could eat these all day.

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Overall, it hasn’t been too difficult to stick to AIP, but I think that is mostly due to hardly eating anything to begin with. Transitioning to AIP actually added more foods to my diet than it took away, so it wasn’t too bad for me. I am feeling so much better that I’m pretty hesitant to add in any of the non-AIP foods. I’m going to give myself a month or so more before I add anything back!

I am also planning to test out some probiotics soon, and I hope to add in a few supplements (Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D) as well.

Here are a few unrelated updates:

  1. I got a job writing for a freelance blogging site, sold four articles so far, and got a raise! I really didn’t expect much going into it, but it is fun and gives me something to do. It doesn’t pay much, but it gives me a little spending money here and there.
  2. I have applied for a few jobs around town, and I really am hoping to be chosen for one. I’m not sure how I will feel working, but I really want to try!
  3. I finalized my schedule for the fall, and I will be taking courses in English, Psychology, Science, and Nutrition. I’m REALLY excited for the variety, and I can’t wait for the nutrition course. I’m trying to use this semester to solidify my plan for the rest of my schooling, so I hope to find something that I really enjoy. I have been considering English or Nutrition as a back up plan if I feel like returning to music is not the best idea for me health wise.

I will keep you all posted, and I hope to start making some more interesting foods here soon! I’ve been working on a few new recipes with the expanded diet, so stay tuned. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Week One AIP Report

Hey everyone! I thought it would be fun to document my days starting the autoimmune protocol because I have been searching for other stories and haven’t found many. I hope that by writing about my own experiences on this new diet and lifestyle, I can help others trying to heal as well! I will still be posting recipes as I can come up with them, but I will be posting weekly updates on the protocol as well.

Here are the foods that are eliminated from my diet:

Dairy
Grains
Eggs
Nuts and Seeds
Nightshade Vegetables (Potatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Etc.)
All Processed Foods
All Sugars/Sweeteners
Legumes
Fruit and Seed Based Spices

Last week, I made the final cuts from my diet-nuts and eggs. However, I also introduced a few new foods, which included honeydew, plantains, and acorn squash. I realized after a couple days that I introduced new things way too quickly because I was feeling so good. And it resulted in a terrible stomach ache. So I’m back to square one this week.

So that we are all on the same page, these are the foods that I am eating on a daily basis:

Bananas
Plantains
Carrots
Sweet Potatoes
Turnips
Parsnips
Acorn Squash
Tilapia
Tuna
Ground Turkey
Gelatin
Fresh Spices/Herbs

Right now, it really isn’t much. I am working to add new foods each week, and I hope the list keeps expanding. All the foods that I will be introducing will be on the autoimmune protocol, and I will not be reintroducing foods off of the protocol until I see a lot of changes.

So far, I have been working quite a bit on exercise, hydration, stress-management, and sleep. I walk everyday, am consistently drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day, meditate/breathe twice a day and do yoga once a day, and I have a consistent sleep schedule. I also have been seeing an acupuncturist for about a month. The new steps this week are to shut off my electronics by 9:30 each night, and I made my bedroom much darker for better sleep!

To adequately track my progress, I thought I would rate my symptoms and log my weight.

Weight: 84 Pounds
BMI: 15.9
Nausea: 8/10
Abdominal Pain: 7/10
Bloating: 8/10
Fatigue: 8/10

Day 1 (April 10th): First full day on the protocol!

I added chicken to my diet today, and it went just fine! I used this day to batch cook all of my protein sources, and I also made huge batches of veggies to freeze. I was able to eat three full meals, and I snacked a lot. The snacking wasn’t the best for my hunger signals, but I can’t help it when I am cooking! I always taste-test everything while I’m making it. I was able to get all of my cooking done for the week, and I also finished a painting I started yesterday. I was able to get all my laundry done, and I felt generally well all day! I do notice an increase in hunger, and a constant craving for sweet potatoes and other carbohydrates. I’m very encouraged by that, although it is very hard for me to distinguish between hungry and full.

These are all the batch cooking photos! 🙂 Sausage, tilapia, and chicken on top, and carrots, parsnips, and plantain crackers on bottom!
Breakfast: 2 Sausage Patties, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Coconut Oil
Lunch: Chicken, Leftover Winter Vegetable Soup, Acorn Squash, Coconut Oil

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Dinner: Tilapia, Roasted Mixed Vegetables, Plantain Crackers
Snacks: Tuna, Banana Pudding, Plantain Crackers, Random Veggies from Cooking

Day 2 (April 11th): I realized something today.

This experience will be very much like the refeeding seen in eating disorder recovery. While I did not restrict my eating due to the fear of gaining weight, I did restrict because I was afraid of the pain that would follow. I was consistently eating under my baseline metabolic need, and that must be the cause of some of my new symptoms. Now that I am slowly working my way up to my caloric need, my body will not let me stop thinking about food. Even when I’m full, I have a strong desire to eat more and more. Because I know that I need these calories, I keep eating.

By the end of the day, I look pregnant due to the bloating, and it hasn’t felt the greatest. However, I am not nauseous or in pain, so I am going to stick to eating on a schedule. To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll make a separate post for the weird changes my body is going through with the added calories. 🙂

I didn’t do much today because I am completely exhausted! All I want to do is eat and sleep and repeat.

Breakfast: 2 Sausages, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Coconut Oil
Lunch: Chicken, Carrots and Zucchini
Dinner: Tilapia, Roasted Mixed Veggies, Acorn Squash
Snacks: Tuna, Banana, Banana Pudding, Plantain Crackers

Day 3 (April 12th): I went to bed full and woke up hungry!

It’s so nice to be hungry in the mornings again. I honestly forgot what true hunger felt like since I ignored my natural hunger signals for so long. I still can’t trust my body’s hunger/fullness cues, so sticking to a schedule is key. As long as I am not in pain or nauseous, I eat no matter what my stomach is up to. I used to wait for my stomach to growl, but now it hardly ever makes a peep.

I made plantain chips today in the oven. They are not as good as the crackers, but they are just as addicting!

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I also got to meet with a new friend, which really brightened my day. I had so much fun, and it makes me feel so much more human to get out. 🙂

Breakfast: 2 Sausages, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Coconut Oil
Lunch: Chicken, Carrots, Zucchini
Dinner: Tilapia, Roasted Veggies, Acorn Squash
Snacks: Tuna, Plantain Chips, Banana

Because I have to stick to small portions of certain veggies for IBS, I have to have a large variety of veggies daily to feel satisfied. That’s why I eat the same 5 meals at the moment; I eat everything on my diet list every day in small amounts. I hope eventually I will build my variety and be able to eat different  meals! But until then, I enjoy every potato, squash, and carrot that I can.

Day 4 (April 13th):

I’m starting to get tired of the same foods day after day, but that doesn’t stop my hunger! I have eaten a ton today. I also ate way too many sweet potatoes at once, so I had a pretty bad stomach ache last night. That’s thanks to my IBS! It’s hard to manage IBS with AIP and trying to gain weight, so you win some you lose some I guess!

I had my brain MRI today as well. I fell asleep in the scanner because I was so tired! It came back completely normal, which is really great. I am so thankful for that news.

Breakfast: 2 Sausages, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash
Lunch: Chicken, Carrots, Zucchini
Dinner: Tilapia, Roast Veggies, Acorn Squash
Snacks: Tuna, Banana, Sweet Potatoes, Plantain Chips, Roast Veggies

Day 5 (April 14th): I tried to make pancakes today, and they were a total flop.

They stuck to the pan so badly that I couldn’t eat them. So I used the rest of the batter to bake a cake type thing, which came out okay! It didn’t look the best, though.

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Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Same old things!

Day 6 (April 15th): I added avocado today!

I had small amounts with lunch and dinner, and all is well. I’m very happy about that because I loved avocados before all of this happened! Haha.

I pretty much ate the same foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today too. I’m sorry that I’m boring! But it helps to have it all planned out ahead of time.

For dinner, though, I filled my entire plate with food! And guess what…

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I ATE IT ALL! I was so proud of myself. It was hard because I was really worried about how it would feel later, but I did it anyway. And I feel fine! Take that, brain!

Tomorrow is my unplugged/no internet day, so I will not be logging anything! This week was a really good week! I feel so much better, and I can tell that what I have eliminated has helped quite a bit. I have barely any nausea, but I do have a TON of bloating. However, I think this is due to the fact that I am eating way more, and my digestive system is not used to having adequate amounts of calories. I assume it will go away eventually, and it’s not painful. So I am going to keep pressing forward!

That’s all for this week! Next week I will rate my symptoms again and update everyone on the new additions/successes. If you have any questions about the diet or about anything really, ask away! I’d love to talk with you. 🙂

 

 

Plantain Crackers (GF, DF, Paleo, and AIP)

Hello everyone! I am back with a recipe! 😀

I have made big changes these past two weeks, and I am feeling SO much better. First of all, I saw a new neurologist who specializes in dysautonomia. He thoroughly evaluated me, and he was extremely knowledgeable in everything going on in my crazy body. He diagnosed me with migraines, which I wasn’t expecting, and said that as a baby I most likely had cyclic vomiting syndrome. This means that since I was little I have had signs of these sorts of neurologic issues. He confirmed that my knee reflexes are in fact absent, and he is sending me for a brain MRI and some nerve testing soon. He decided that my dysautonomia is most likely caused by something, and he believes that it very well could be autoimmune. Autoimmune conditions run in my family, and I already have one myself, celiac disease. Now the search is on to figure out which autoimmune condition is the problem, which includes more lab work and testing.

Anyway, because I have an autoimmune condition, and because my dysautonomia is most likely tied to a separate condition, I have decided to try the Autoimmune Protocol. The autoimmune protocol is a diet/lifestyle change that is very similar to the paleo diet, but it is much more restrictive. A few days ago, I eliminated all grains, nuts, eggs, seeds, legumes, dairy, nightshade vegetables, and several spices from my diet. I am eating a lot of fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit! Since the elimination, I have felt around 70% better. I am sleeping well, eating well, drinking much more water, and my nausea is almost completely gone. (For comparison, I was only able to eat about 900 calories per day and four cups of water before the changes, and now I am able to eat 1,400 and a full eight cups of water per day.) I don’t feel completely full after eating, and I have normal hunger signals. Each day gets better, and I keep wondering when it will end! I haven’t had this many good days in a row for months. People have even been telling me that my color is returning, and I am so happy! It is a highly restrictive way to eat, but if it helps me this much already, I can’t wait to see where I will be months from now.

Some other good news: I have enrolled in my classes for next fall! I am planning to come back to college, but I will only have four classes. I am just using this next semester to explore some other options that are available to me, and I will only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think a schedule like this one will allow me to keep taking care of myself and healing from whatever condition is behind all of this madness. 🙂

And now onto the main part of this post-the recipe! 🙂

I found this recipe here, and I didn’t change much! I just used my own measurements to work with my oven since it’s a bit touchy!

Ratings:

Taste: 10/10
Cost: 10/10
Difficulty: Easy

You will need…

1 Plantain
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
Sea Salt

First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave, and blend the plantain and the oil until smooth.

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Spread the mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper. Try to spread it as evenly as possible, otherwise the edges will burn.

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Bake for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and sprinkle with salt.

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Bake for another 35-45 minutes or until crunchy and dark brown.

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That’s it! These are delicious, and I have a hard time stopping myself from eating the entire pan in one sitting. These crackers are a great source of carbohydrates while on the AIP, and they are very customizable. Adding cinnamon would be a great sweet cracker, or you could add savory spices as well. Green plantains are generally more savory, and the yellow or black ones are more sweet. Pair with spices as you wish!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Thanks for reading! 🙂