4 AIP-friendly meals made to satisfy

Following a strict diet/meal plan can be challenging.

Maybe you feel like you eat the same thing every. single. meal. Or, maybe you feel SO restricted you’re scared to try anything other than a chicken breast and broccoli.

Ever since my HS diagnosis, I’ve been hyper-focused on what I’m putting in my body. But don’t be fooled – I’m OBSESSED with food, y’all. Like, I come from a family who loves food. I plan vacations solely on the food we get to eat. You get the drill.

So, when I went no-gluten/no-dairy and low-carb, I wasn’t ready to give up the yummy flavorful foods I’ve loved. BUT guess what – I didn’t have to! As soon as you start educating yourself on the alternatives for ingredients you’re used to, a whole new world opens up.

Below are 4 fairly easy meals that are packed with flavor, minimal on prep and fall into AIP pretty well.

This is the perfect packable lunch! Meal prep can get boring, and some days you don’t want a hot meal and you’d rather have some snack-type foods. Go with the lunchable, never fails.
While this isn’t the prettiest dish, it’s certainly full of flavor and nutrients!
*note: I know cornstarch isn’t paleo, but I didn’t have arrowroot powder. If you’re strict paleo, swap the cornstarch for arrowroot.*
This is honestly so simple but so delish, it’s a staple in my house. I used pre-cooked sausage patties to save time, but you can also use your own and brown before putting in the casserole.

While you’ve probably seen a dozen versions of each of these dishes, this was my take on yummy classics while following MY version of AIP. Yes, I know tomatoes aren’t typical AIP (nightshade), but I haven’t found them to be one of my triggers.

A few things to keep in mind: I always try to buy organic/grass-fed meats when I can. Definitely get the cleanest ingredients possible when it comes to your meats. Also, Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning is life-changing. Like y’all, you gotta go get yourself some NOW. For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to have a local TJ’s, they sell it on Amazon.

Another staple in my fridge/pantry is Nutpods original flavor. I love to use their fun flavors for my morning coffee, but the original is so thick and creamy it’s the best alternative I can find for heavy whipping cream or half and half! Must try. You can order on Amazon at the link above, or they sell them at select health food stores AND NOW Target.

Hope you enjoy these dishes! Drop recipes ideas below. Let’s share the wealth of knowledge.

xoxo,

HB

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Cleaning Up Your Diet Will Clean Up Your Life

But really…

Vienna, 2014. “Only the strong survive.”

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a skin disease that occurs due to an autoimmune/auto-inflammatory condition. It’s called Hidradenitis Suppurativa, or HS for short.

Long story short: I get these awfully swollen/painful lesions in my armpits, bra line and sometimes my groin area. Real cute stuff. It starts when a sweat gland and/or hair follicle (the jury is still out on this one; with the disease being rare and semi-new in the medical world, there isn’t a definitive answer) becomes blocked. My body goes into overdrive and the lesions/nodules occur because of cell overgrowth.

Treatment options are slim in the medical world, so I’ve decided to take an as-holisitic-as-possible approach to healing.

Enter: the AIP diet. Like any other diet, it’s basically a list of what to eat and what not to eat in order to decrease inflammation in the body and pinpoint your personal triggers.

Remember, everyone is different and every method affects people differently.

What NOT to eat on AIP: gluten, grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods, caffeine, nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms), alcohol, among others.

What to eat MORE of on AIP: Veggies, organic meat, seafood, antioxidant-rich fruits, omega-3 rich foods, anti-inflammatory foods (think turmeric, bone broth, sauerkraut, cruciferous veggies), among others.

Personally, I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy entirely from my diet. While I used to drink a few glasses of wine a week, now I really don’t consume alcohol at all either, unless it’s a special occasion.

I haven’t eliminated caffeine (helllloooo, coffee addiction) or nightshades (I just really love mushrooms and tomatoes) yet, but honestly, I’ve seen a huge improvement with just eliminating gluten and dairy, so I’m going to stick with that for now.

I don’t own a scale, so I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost, BUT that isn’t the main point of this journey: I’m working on healing myself from the inside out. Getting all the toxins I’ve been putting into my body for years, OUT. Putting healthy, nutrient-rich foods back IN my everyday consumption.

Besides eliminating certain foods, I’ve incorporated some supplements into my daily routine as well. Since January, I’ve been having a protein shake for breakfast every morning. Due to AIP, I’ve now switched from a whey-based protein to a pea protein, which allows me to get the protein I need without the possible inflammation from dairy.

I’ve also started drinking exogenous ketones, thanks to my dear friend Natalie for introducing me to these! After drinking one serving, your body goes into nutritional ketosis within the hour. During that state, your body is using fat for fuel. As I’m eating whole foods to heal my gut, I’m also drinking ketones to put myself into ketosis for the added health benefits.

Being in a state of ketosis not only burns fat for fuel, but also gives you mental clarity and energy for days. Definitely more info to come about how these have played a role in my recovery and helped me stay on top of my shit.

Flax seed has also become a staple in all my smoothies and baking. It’s naturally rich in Omega 3’s and can help fight inflammation and boost your immune system. Turmeric is also a spice you can find in just about all of my dishes, because it’s flavorful, colorful and an anti-inflammatory food!

Additionally, I’ve started drinking electrolytes daily to ensure I’m hydrated and my body is functioning at its highest level. As I stated earlier, HS is an autoimmune/auto-inflammatory condition, so the more support for my immune system, the better! Think of how you drink gatorade when you’ve got the flu: I could use more electrolytes to help my immune system and keep my body hydrated when I’m functioning normally, not just when I’m sick.

People love to focus on what they CAN’T have when they’re “on a diet”. That’s where your mindset comes in. Don’t think of what you can’t have, think of what you need more of to help you function as your highest self.

I don’t want to eat processed foods because they’re bad for me and will affect my health. I do want to eat antioxidant-rich, healthy whole foods to fuel my body properly.

Have any of you gone through an experience like this? I’m a newbie in this world, honestly, so any tips or anecdotes to share are highly appreciated.

xoxo,

HB

I’ve Found My Light Again

How wonderful it is, to be loved.

No, I’m not talking romantically here, although that is an amazing feeling as well. I’m talking about self love. To truly love yourself, no matter where you are in life, is absolutely freeing and empowering all at once.

To say my health journey is unique would be an understatement. By the age of 23, I’d had two surgeries due to athletic injuries: left knee and lower back (two herniated discs).

My back surgery in December of 2015 was a pivotal point for me. After years of physical agony, starting to get a little relief pulled back the curtain on how hard I was struggling mentally. 

In January of 2016, I started going to therapy. Growing up with a psychologist dad and a sister as a licensed counselor, I was no stranger to the mental health world. I’d just been ignoring my own symptoms for years.

There’s been a lotttt of growth the last three years. So much self discovery has taken place, and I’m finally starting to feel a little more balanced on the inside. Understanding my thoughts and actions and how it all relates – therapy is tremendously helpful and I recommend it to any and everyone. Even if all you want is someone to talk to who cant spill your secrets!

Anywho…fast forward to this summer. I’ve been dealing with these awfully inflamed bumps on my armpits the last year or so, and kept assuming they were just some pissed off ingrown hairs. After getting one the size of a golf ball, in so much pain I couldn’t put my arm down, I decided enough was enough.

I’d gone to different general practice physicians, but kept getting wrong answers or no answer at all. Within 10 min of my dermatology appointment, she diagnosed me with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, or HS for short.

Quick hits about HS

Facts:
– HS is autoimmune/auto-inflammatory  condition
– HS is a chronic skin disease
– Lesions/abscesses  occur where hair follicles and/or sweat glands get blocked
– Your body basically goes into overdrive to heal the blockage, creating this massively swollen area around the initial pore because of cell overgrowth
– Also known as acne inversa

Myths:
– HS is contagious
– HS can be cured
– HS only occurs in obese people
– HS occurs because of bad hygiene habits
– HS is a form of STI/STD

Since my diagnosis in July 2019, I’ve been doing a lot of research on my own as far as holistic methods of healing. Because my skin disease is rare, there isn’t a whole lot of research out there right now, and in fact, there’s only one FDA-approved drug for it: Humira.

yikes, no thanks, if I can help it.

It turns out, your diet pretty much RULES your overall health. I’ve been loosely following the AIP, or autoimmune protocol, diet to help me find food triggers. People all over the internet claim to have major success, some even sent into remission from HS, all because of diet changes.

I’ve completely cut out gluten and dairy, and have decreased my sugar/carb intake tremendously.

While I don’t own a scale and don’t know the exact amount of weight I’ve lost, I know it’s a fair amount. I’m down two sizes in clothing – whoohoo! BUT – while weight loss is great, my initial reason for starting AIP was because of my skin disease. I was sick of being in constant pain, wearing long sleeves in the Texas summer heat, that SOMETHING had to give.

Not only am I losing weight, but my flares seem to be disappearing faster and getting less inflamed and painful. WIN WIN!

The past three years, I was solely focusing on healing my mind. Coming to terms with my mental illnesses and learning how to thrive. Now, it’s time to connect my mind healing and my body healing.

I’m still learning a lot and trying to be patient throughout my journey, but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My physical ailments pretty much go hand-in-hand with my mental illnesses, so if I can get one in control, maybe the other will follow suit.

Regardless of my setbacks and times of self-hatred, I am ME. I am BEAUTIFUL. I am a WARRIOR.

And boy oh boy, does it feel good to be loved again.

xoxo,

HB

 

Are you the one holding yourself back?

Seriously.

Sit and think for a minute – why have you been struggling, why are you behind in school, why are you feeling defeated, why is acting defensive your instinctual reaction to everyone?

Because YOU are in the way of YOURSELF. You heard me!

You are the one who is causing the internal struggles you face. You are the one telling yourself to listen to the haters, to compare yourself to others. You are the one holding yourself back from greatness.

I’ve been struggling mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for a few years now. Honesty and openness about my health issues has helped me grow and heal tremendously. Being self aware is hard work and I’m compelled to share that enlightenment with y’all.

No matter your situation, there is room for a mindset change. Environment plays a huge part in your overall wellbeing, and yes, sometimes there are circumstances that are unavoidable. BUT – you are in charge of your mindset. Nobody can take that away from you.

Try to dive deep into your mind and think about how you got to your breakdown. Why you freaked out at that coworker. Where you can learn, improve and grow.

If you truly believe you’re in control, you ARE. It’s as simple as that. Love and light to you all, wherever you may be on your journey.

xoxo,

HB

Buy the ticket, take the trip, enjoy your LIFE!

Being a young professional, balancing social and work life can be hard. Especially at first! My entire life growing up all the way until I graduated college, I was a workaholic, always striving to be the best and work the hardest. Putting in the extra hours at the newspaper, working out an extra hour at the gym, you get the picture.

Now that I have a handful of years of professional experience under my belt, I’ve learned life is all about balance. Balancing your health, your career, your relationships.

One day, I’ll be traveling the world 24/7 and get to share alllll the stories with y’all. Speaking it into existence here, people! But, until then, I’m constantly working on balancing work and pleasure. Planning my next move, saving my money and making big steps forward!

Last month, one of my best friends came to visit from Kansas and we went to see Sam Feldt with my babe and our friends down here in Dallas! Was it *really* in my budget? Maybe not…BUT am I so glad we went? Heck yeah!

Long story short: Take the trip, risk a little, have fun. I promise you life is more fulfilling that way.

xoxo,

HB

Give your digital presence a facelift

When I was still living in Little Rock, I worked at an agency called Team SI. The SI stands for social innovation – sounds like a pretty sweet gig, right? Right! I wrote this blog urging brands to give their online presence a makeover, and thought it relevant for all you summer planners.

Summer is the most popular time of year for planning, at least in higher education it is. So as you’re working on your media plans for the year ahead, take into consideration these down-and-dirty tips on where to start. Want the short version? These four adjustments are key:

  1. Revamp your content
  2. Upgrade your visuals
  3. Get personal
  4. Spread the good news!

Storytelling is a process: Define your audience, nail down the message you want to get across, then work on telling that story in the best way possible to reach your consumers.

Personalize your messaging and share visually-appealing content. As cliche as it sounds, people like hearing good news and seeing pretty pictures. So give the people what they want, damnit!

But who am I to tell you? Read my blog instead.

A Letter to my Teenage Self

I let you down.

I’m sorry I was so mean to you. I’m sorry I called you so many names. I’m sorry I didn’t treat you the way you deserved.

Comparing you to everyone else was my favorite thing to do; pointing out each flaw like it was a checkmark on a list of things to fix.

Remember the times when I wouldn’t let you leave the house without perfectly straightened hair? I hated your curls; they were weird and frizzy, and so unlike all the other girls’ hair in your class.

That was unkind of me, because each unique part of you is what makes you so special.

It wasn’t fair of me to starve you so your curves weren’t so…out there. It wasn’t right of me to say you weren’t good enough for anyone and that no guy would ever love you, because you deserve the world.

I wish I would have stood up for you when everyone called you names, instead of cowering and pretending like it didn’t bother you. Telling you any attention was good attention. I wish I could have helped stop the rumors that burned through the school like wildfire.

I should have lifted you up, praising each attribute and letting you know that it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s cool to be confidently you.

So what I want to tell you today is: thank you. Thank you for persevering. Thank you for using the struggles to be stronger and smarter. Thank you for not giving into the dark voices. Thank you, for being YOU.

I love you and am so proud of you for flourishing.

Hannah