What is the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?

When I first went paleo it was out of a desire to determine if my health could be improved by changing the way I was eating. Undertaking a strict elimination diet was the key to improving my health and ultimately led me to a diagnosis of celiac disease. So I am big believer that anyone experiencing autoimmune disease symptoms owes it to themselves to find out if their health could be improved by a change in diet. For individuals whose symptoms are not fully eliminated after following the standard paleo diet you may wish to consider the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP).

Why Follow the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?

The autoimmune paleo protocol was derived from research indicating autoimmune disease stems from inflammation in the body. Inflammation is often caused by an underlying problem with intestinal permeability (or “leaky gut”). When a person has leaky gut, irritation in the gut lining causes the tight junctions in the intestinal barrier to allow unwanted molecules (food, toxins, bacteria) into the bloodstream. The autoimmune paleo protocol eliminates those foods that have been shown to irritate the gut or cause increased permeability.

What is the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol?

The autoimmune paleo protocol is a version of the Paleo diet (no grains, legumes or dairy) that also includes the avoidance of the following:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Spices derived from seeds (Anise, Annatto, Caraway, Celery seed, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Mustard, Nutmeg, Poppy, Sesame)
  • Nighshades (Vegetables from the Solanaceae family of plants: Eggplant, White Potatoes, Peppers, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Pimentos, Paprika, Curry, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Cayenne Pepper, Tabasco sauce, et al.)
  • Alcohol
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • NSAIDs (aspirin and ibuprofen)

Other Things To Consider for the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol Continue reading

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Easy Paleo Recipe: Sausage and Kale Sauté

Paleo Sausage and Kale Saute

Today’s recipe for Sausage and Kale Sauté comes after a bit of a hiatus. Regular posting is a little tough lately because my job is very busy and my commute is just as long as ever. But G’s commute just got a LOT shorter. Yay! He is no longer schlepping into New York City everyday on the train. Now that he works much closer to home our lives are already easier. Whew! This new recipe is a great one for when he makes dinner: fast and easy and perfect for a weeknight dinner. It’s also great to make ahead and take to the office for lunch.

The Dr. Oz Show

Before we get to the recipe I want to share an interesting happening. Have you heard of Dr. Oz? I’m sure many of you have. He’s a successful cardiologist and popular author and TV host. Well, one of his producers has been recruiting people for an upcoming episode featuring the Paleo Diet. They reached out to me with a few questions on my Paleo success story. The only problem is the questions focus a lot on total weight loss. The request was for “before” and “after” photos, total weight loss, size before and size after, etc… They also asked about medical condition symptom reversal but the focus of the show seems to be mainly about weight loss. My paleo success is primarily a health story. I don’t really have a remarkable “before” picture. So I submitted my “after” photo and told my Paleo story and we shall see if they are still interested.

On the Paleo Spirit Facebook page I posed the following question,

“Aren’t the health benefits of Paleo just as important as dramatic weight loss?”

Here are a few of the answers I received:

“More so, imo, because not everyone who is overweight has medical issues.” – Danica

“And not everyone with medical issues is overweight…” – Michelle

“I went Paleo to help an autoimmune disease. The weight loss was a wonderful side effect.”Kelly

Absolutely!!!! I believe they can be (and in my case are) interrelated. Having Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowel, and being overweight, I am living proof of the multiple benefits of choosing to live a Paleo lifestyle. I was super sick and terribly weak and those were my motivators, for sure. Now, fourteen months and 45 pounds later, my MS symptoms are almost non existent and I have not had one digestive flare up. So as far as I’m concerned, the health benefits are the driving force, with weight loss being the (grain free, refined sugar free) icing on the cake!!! – Michele

It will be a few days before I find out if they will have me on the Dr. Oz Show. Even if I am not one of the selected guests, my hope is they will focus primarily on the health benefits of Paleo with the weight loss aspects featured as just another great side effect. No matter what happens, only good can come from the word about Paleo getting out to the masses.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Sausage and Kale Sauté Continue reading

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G’s New Year’s Paleo Resolution plus a Giveaway

(G’s New Year’s Paleo Resolution Giveaway is now closed. The three winners are listed at the end of this post.)

About two years ago, my wife Lea started “eating Paleo” in an effort to alleviate some health-related issues which she believed were possibly caused by certain kinds of food, like gluten. Partly to be supportive, and partly because she does most of the shopping and all of the cooking, I went along. I mean, really…what choice did I have?

To my surprise (admittedly, I was skeptical), the new way of eating proved wildly successful for her and for myself. When combined with a regular regimen of Yoga, walking, and occasional sprinting, I shed the pounds quickly! Without much real effort and a lot of tasty meals, I was able to see a “1” followed by a “6” on my bathroom scale for the first time since I was in high school over two decades earlier.

I was very proud of myself; I looked good, and I felt great. I celebrated my discipline at being able to cut out sweets and bread, and to eat well at work as well as at home. My wife applauded my resolve. Things were going great! Until…

The fall off the “paleo wagon”

…Something happened. I don’t know when, but it happened just the same. Slowly but surely, the carbs returned – a little bread here, a slice of pizza there. And of course, there was the beer. As you may have noticed from some of my beer reviews, I love the stuff. So…bread, pizza, beer…and two years later, it’s all back, and then some.

G contemplates his fall off the paleo wagon. (At "Grounds for Sculpture" in New Jersey)

G contemplates his fall off the paleo wagon. (At “Grounds for Sculpture” in New Jersey)


Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not fat. I don’t think I’m even chubby…but I am overweight, and I don’t like it. So, in an attempt to regain my previously trim physique, I am willfully joining my wife on the Strictly Paleo Plan for the month of January 2013. I’m hoping to not only lose weight and get back in shape, but to re-establish those good food and exercise habits that worked so well when we first “went Paleo” back in 2010.

Wish me luck! I’ll need it…


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A “Paleo Spirit”: My Personal Health Journey

Just recently I had the privilege of guest posting for the terrific Paleo Parents blog! In that post I delved into my personal journey and how I came to find Paleo. Aside from a little information on my About page, this is the first time I have written more extensively about my health experiences and healing. After a few requests from readers to know more, I decided to go ahead and tell my story.

Below is the original post as it appeared on the Paleo Parents website:

What is Paleo Spirit?

My name is Lea and I am a wife to my husband, Gavin, and the mother of two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel. When I was growing up, my father emphasized the importance of being “well-rounded”. Maybe that is one reason I take a particular interest in health for the whole person. My blog Paleo Spirit is dedicated to exploring fitness for mind, body, soul and spirit. Even though most of the posts at Paleo Spirit are about food, I enjoy delving into physical fitness, spiritual matters and even the political realm from time to time. I am not Paleo Spirit but I believe I HAVE a Paleo Spirit and so does anyone else who embraces the ideal of pursuing health and fulfillment through simple, time-tested strategies. It’s really about the beauty of a “Back to Basics” approach to life. My experiences and challenges have led me to where I am now and I enjoy writing about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

How I Found The Paleo Diet

In spite of generally good health, for almost as long as I can remember I have been prone to illness. It was nothing terribly serious but I had a tendency to fall prey to respiratory infections at least twice a year and usually more. My mother wondered why I seemed to require more rest than everyone else in the family. When trying to donate blood over the years I was repeatedly turned away because of a low-level anemia. It was never bad enough that doctors took it very seriously but I often wondered how this could be true in spite of a rather healthful diet full of iron-rich foods.

Fast forward to 2003 when I was busy working in my career and taking care of my husband and two-year old son. During a stressful time, and following a particularly nasty respiratory infection, I experienced a drastic change in my health. Out of the blue I noticed my heart racing with the least exertion, I had absolutely no energy and got dizzy when standing up too fast. It seemed as though my thinking was clouded and I had trouble concentrating. Among other symptoms, I began noticing strange burning and tingling sensations in my hands and feet. My body ached. My doctor performed several blood tests and sent me to a few specialists to rule out various diseases and conditions. The echocardiogram was perfect, my blood work was stellar (except for the anemia) and it was not Lupus or Lyme disease. In spite of my doctor’s suspicion it might be Multiple Sclerosis, an exam by a neurologist showed no problems and the MRI ruled out MS.

You see, I was in perfect health!

But….I was definitely NOT okay. Continue reading

Paleo Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

Have you ever seen the movie Amadeus? It’s my favorite movie of all time. The following is a scene where the composer Antonio Salieri, looking at the impeccable first drafts of Mozart’s compositions, marvels at the perfection of the work. He recognizes the hand of God.

“He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation.”

I have to agree with Salieri that God was clearly involved in Mozart’s musical genius and used him to grant us amazing beauty in the form of his compositions. I could write a thesis on how God has provided mankind with many blessings of beauty and how those things point us back to Him. But this is a recipe post and right about now you are probably wondering what in the world this has to do with Paleo shortbread cookies! Well…..you see, I can relate to poor old Salieri. At one point in the movie he laments how, in his view, God has not granted him genius but has, instead, cursed him with the ability to recognize genius when he encounters it. This frustrates Salieri and causes him to hatch a plot against Mozart.

While I am not hatching any plots against others who happen to be more artistically talented, I do find myself at times feeling a bit envious of their abilities. When I see works of great artists, or hear amazing music or read brilliant poetry I long for a similar talent. This is also true when it comes to crafts. I can appreciate the crafts of others but have never been blessed with the crafting gene. HOWEVER, today I feel as though I have finally overcome my deficit in a small way with the following paleo shortbread tea bag cookies!

This recipe falls into the category of dessert/treat AND craft. (Look out, Martha Stewart!) It would work really well at a tea or a wedding or baby shower. The paleo tea bag cookies could even be used as party favors. They are grain free, gluten free, nut free and sweetened only with maple syrup and a small amount of sugar in the dark chocolate coating.

Gluten Free Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

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Women of Color Going Back to Basics for Health

The recent Ladies’ Day Event, where I gave a presentation Happy, Healthy and Free, was attended by a majority of African-American women and other women of color. The information presented really seemed to resonate with many of the attendees for several reasons. After the presentation I had the opportunity to have lunch with some of these interesting ladies and find out a bit more about them. In the course of our conversations, a few things stood out as very significant and relevant to my topic of health.

One of the women at my table was Wendy. Wendy, who is 68 years old, explained how she is not currently on any medications. That’s pretty impressive given our medicated society. So I asked Wendy a few more questions to find out if there are any clues to her seeming good health. It turns out she is from Barbados. Could this make a difference? Hmmm…..

Before I tell you more about Wendy and her background, let’s first take a look at the broader problem as it relates specifically to women of color. Alice Randall, writer in residence at Vanderbilt University, and an African-American woman herself, wrote an interesting opinion piece for The New York Times this past weekend. In her article, Black Women and Fat, Ms. Randall points out four out of five black women are seriously overweight and one in four middle-aged black women has diabetes. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks have 51 percent higher obesity rates than whites. In addition to pointing out some facts and figures on disease states and obesity rates, Alice Randall delves into some of the cultural reasons that may be contributing to this situation. She points out that it is part of the cultural heritage to be bigger and that husbands sometimes revolt when faced with the prospect of their wives losing weight. But Ms. Randall advises that in spite of any cultural push against it, things need to change:

The billions that we are spending to treat diabetes is money that we don’t have for education reform or retirement benefits, and what’s worse, it’s estimated that the total cost of America’s obesity epidemic could reach almost $1 trillion by 2030 if we keep on doing what we have been doing.

During a public lecture at Harvard University recently, biologist Daniel Lieberman suggested that exercise for everyone should be mandated by law. Alice Randall was appalled and noted the applause came from a bunch of “thin affluent people” applauding the idea of “forcing fatties, many of whom are dark, poor and exhausted, to exercise.” She goes on to express her view that government mandated exercise is a “vicious concept” but acknowledges the “cost of too many people getting too fat is too high.” Continue reading

Happy, Healthy and Free

“What we think, we become.”

It was my honor and privilege to be one of the speakers at a Ladies Day event yesterday hosted by the Bridgewater Church of Christ (at Garretson Rd) . The theme of the event was “Do You Know Who I Am?” and my topic was “Happy, Healthy and Free”. This is a subject very near and dear to my heart because I am very passionate about health and fitness for the WHOLE person Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit.

The starting point for my talk was the Bible verse Luke 2:52

Jesus grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and Man.

That verse encapsulates the entire 18 year period of Jesus’ growth from age 12 to the beginning of his ministry at the age of 30. It tells us that He grew mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. And I propose that we too need to focus on growing in these areas of our lives in order to be well-rounded individuals. I proposed how, instead of Happy, Healthy and Free, we are often Sick, Stressed and Depressed. This is something with which I am familiar because I have been all three of those things at certain points in my life. I shared some of what I have learned about the Mind-Body connection and how our bodies respond to stress. And lest anyone think that focusing on our own health is somehow self-indulgent, I argued that we NEED to work at our health in order to become more pleasing and useful to God.

What we think, we become. And just as the Lao Tzu quote expresses, our habits become our character which becomes our destiny. With that in mind, and through my own experiences, I have come up with Ten Healthy Habits for the Well-Rounded Person: Continue reading

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A Grass-Fed Elevation Burger

During Spring Break week the boys and I took a little side trip to a burger joint called Elevation Burger. We had heard good things about this restaurant and decided to make the drive to a nearby city to check it out.

Before going into Elevation Burger, the boys spied some interesting characters walking down the busy street. pants on the ground
It was a serious “pants on the ground” situation.

Once we regained our composure we ventured into Elevation Burger for lunch. It turns out we were somewhat color coordinated.

Elevation Burger supposedly gets its name from the aspiration to “elevate” the burger to a higher level. When it comes to ingredient quality that certainly is the case. After hearing that Elevation Burger serves organic beef from grass-fed cows I knew we had to visit. The importance of organic, free-range, grass-fed beef is one of the first things I learned when I adopted the paleo diet.

Elevation Burger Serves Better Beef

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Baked Eggs in Prosciutto Cups

baked egg in prosciutto cupsBaked Eggs in Prosciutto Cups is an easy recipe that qualifies, in my humble opinion, as “good enough for company”. Both my boys loves these – even my son who does not especially like to eat eggs. I have made a similar recipe using a muffin tin but find it easier and with better results when using ramekins. Muffin tins must to be greased in order to keep the prosciutto and eggs from sticking. And they never seemed to come out clean unless I spent a lot of time carefully lining the tin with the prosciutto so the egg could not seep through. With the ramekin it does not matter because you are eating the egg cups right out of the dish. That being said, you can still use a muffin tin for this recipe. Just be sure that you grease the tins well.

Besides being super easy and delicious, one of my favorite things about this recipe is the use of prosciutto. Unlike many other cured pork products, prosciutto does not (normally) contain nitrates/nitrites because it is cured with salt. In fact, salt is generally the only ingredient, besides pork, you will see listed on the label. This is great news for me, and others like me, who have a reaction to nitrates/nitrites and other preservatives. Continue reading

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Paleo and the City: Peking Duck House

This week is Spring Break for my two boys. While we may not be going on a big vacation, we are determined to find a few fun things to do in the nice weather. We kept our eyes on the forecast and picked the perfect day for a jaunt into New York City. I initially dragged Nathaniel (aka Sweet Pea) and Benjamin (aka Big Boy) to B&H Photo/Video Superstore where I did a little shopping. (That place is absolutely mind-blowing. But I’ll save that post for another day….) Our primary destination was Chinatown, which is my boys’ favorite part of the City for a few reasons. Our first stop was Peking Duck House at 28 Mott Street for lunch. The three of us were able to enjoy the full Peking Duck experience with a little twist in the appetizer department.

The boys ordered soup to start the meal but I was drawn to the cold appetizer menu which boasted such things as Spicy White Cabbage.
And…drum roll please….Boneless Duck Feet.
Boneless Duck Feet

Ordering duck feet was more for the culinary adventure than a strong desire to dine on feet. Let’s be honest, eating duck feet does not sound especially awesome. But I have to say they were not half bad. The waiter seemed a little surprised I ordered it and I suspect the dish is enjoyed more by locals than the tourist crowd. The duck feet were mildly flavored like broth and soft enough to be cut with a fork. As nutrition goes, duck feet are full of cartilage which is a really great food for joint health -assuming you can get past the texture.

Benjamin was unconcerned with his joint health. Even though he was initially willing to give it a try, once he realized the duck feet are served cold, he changed his mind. Imagine that! But Nathaniel decided he wanted to go for it and I am completely impressed by his courage and adventurous spirit. Here are a few shots of Nathaniel on his culinary adventure.

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