Paleo Egg Roll Filling… Minus the Roll.

I made the not-so-bright decision to pull two pounds of ground pork out of the freezer.

Not one, but two.

Apparently I was over-zealous with how much I thought I could eat this week.

Or maybe how much I like homemade Italian sausage. Which is a lot.

But, seriously. I have my limits.

Perusing my fridge, I realized that I had a head of cabbage that had been hanging out in the back for…. longer than I care to admit. Cabbage doesn’t ever really go bad so I peeled off the leaves that had started rusting and voila! Inspiration was born. (I also had to steal two carrots from my roommate - but she got dinner out of the deal… and I still owe her two carrots.)

Below is the result of my said inspiration. It’s hearty, filling and 21 Day Sugar Detox-friendly.

You know that filling from egg rolls? Yea. It tastes like that. Minus the greasy fried egg roll bit. (Who likes soggy fried food anyway? mmm.. French fries in duck fat… okay. I do.) But let’s bring it back to egg rolls. I hated the roll and only ate them so I could have the filling and maybe the dipping sauce. But this recipe is so tasty that it doesn’t need the dipping sauce. So this is the best thing ever. 

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  • 1 lb organic, pasture-raised ground pork
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 organic carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup organic daikon radish, julienne cut
  • 1/4 cup organic green onion, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh organic minced ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 1/2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) dried red chili flakes
  1. Over medium heat, cook the pork until no longer pink along with the ginger, spices, salt and coconut aminos.
  2. Add the cabbage and carrots and cook for three minutes more, stirring often to make sure the cabbage cooks.
  3. Add the daikon radish and continue to cook until radish is slightly cooked and cabbage is cooked but still tender. (It shouldn’t be bright green - if it is, keep cooking.)
  4. Serve on a bed of lettuce or put it in a bowl and eat it. Or if you feel like being all fancy, fill Belgian endive cups with it. This would also taste good on cauliflower rice. Or just grab a fork and throw manners to the wind and eat out of your skillet.

What. Don’t judge me. 

Alternative Therapies Are Not Anti-Science

My mom recently sent me this article by Simcha Fisher, a well-known and articulate Catholic woman who blogs over at National Catholic Register. While I don’t usually go all “Catholic” on here, it is a nutrition blog after all, I thought this would be a good avenue to address her article and some of the fallacies that were in it. So, here goes.

First and foremost, it sounds by the voice of the article that you (Simcha) have never had an adverse diagnosis for a child (in the case of my parents) or a sibling (in my case) where the doctors tell you that they have no idea what is going on and how to treat them. There is nothing more terrifying than watching a family member waste away, unsure of what to do and being told by the Western medical community that they’ve exhausted their options and having three doctors who are in disagreement with each other over treatment options but all of them damaging to your loved one. This was my reality. I found myself questioning my degree, a Bachelors of Science in Arts and Letters with a concentration in human anatomy and physiology. I found myself questioning the very essence of our nature. Our bodies were created perfect… so why are we so diseased? Surely, this can’t all be the result of Original Sin. And, most importantly, I questioned the western medical and scientific community.

Thankfully, my mother is a woman who has her wits about her and is a stubborn Irish/German/Native American Catholic woman. She didn’t waste any time looking into every single alternative form of healing - within the guidelines of the Catholic Church. Long story short, countless hours of research spent reading medical studies published in various medical journals resulted in our turning to a naturopath who was able to help my sister and my mom delved into the research world of the nature of nutrient absorption and we were able to start getting food in her body that she didn’t instantly reject - no thanks to the conventional doctors, who had put her on two same-class antibiotics and a steroid. The adverse side effects of that combination are still haunting her to this day and it is only through diligent attention that she is able to hold the effects at bay. She suffered from extensive mitochondrial damage in addition to cartilage damage. And we followed the doctors because they are the professional and went to school for this. Never mind that multiple studies, including the drugs’ own websites, state clearly that this is never to be done (we found this out later when we were researching what was now wrong with her). Western medicine failed us. They left us stranded and in the dark.

I was told that my biomarkers were such that I was headed down the same health road at a high-speed rate. At the time, I was planning my wedding. The last thing I wanted to hear was that something was wrong with me and that I had a risk of dying as well. No. Thank. You. I had a new life that I wanted to live and I wanted to be around for as long as possible to live it. So I started looking at alternative therapies as well. Both she and I found our respite with diet and proper nutrition. 

Fast forward a few years and this past spring that same sister gave us all a run for our money… again.

I found myself in an ER room with her, her vitals unstable, slipping in and out of mental clarity, the doctor telling us by no means to let her fall asleep and then a last minute transfer to a Neuro-ICU. It was quickly followed by an emergency brain surgery that couldn’t be postponed 10 minutes until my parents arrived. Once again, I was terrified. I begged our neurosurgeon to let my parents be caught up to speed so they could approve the surgery. I was told that she didn’t have the 10 minutes needed to do that, that the pressure on her brain was too great. I found myself bargaining with God. I was terrified and desperate. She’s my best friend and wasn’t allowed to leave me – I can’t imagine my journey on this Earth without her. I approved the surgery (the easiest and hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life) and our very talented neurosurgeon and team of Western medicine-saved professionals saved my sister’s life. I will be eternally grateful to that gifted surgeon and his team – they were our guardian angels.

Most people who are like me have similar stories – it doesn’t matter what your religion, or lack there-of, is. It takes a lot for one to leave what one has grown up with and go against the beaten path. It’s not something that’s done casually or without calculating the risks. Usually we are forced to look elsewhere because somehow western science has failed us on a very basic level. My story is no different.

There are many things that western medicine excels at. Our capability for surgery is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. The fact that you can perform surgery on a little part of the brain no wider than a straw from McDonald’s, leave a hole in the head… wait. There was no hole. It was a tiny crack in the skull, and a teeny tiny scar, is just phenomenal. Science is so cool that way. But, like all human-made things, it has its limits. And that is where other healing traditions come into view. The world is such a beautiful and vast place and the contributions of different cultures are many. To throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and only look at one tradition is myopic and not very Catholic.

So, Simcha, your overarching generalization that those of us in the alternative health community are all crazies is unfounded. We eat food that our ancestors ate precisely for that reason. They ate it and their overall health was better. I’m not talking about disease from lack of sanitation. I’m talking about degenerative diseases. Looking around at our modern society, it is more than abundantly clear that many of us suffer from some sort of degenerative disease that was virtually unheard of 100 years ago. Diabetes, heart disease, infertility, thyroid disease, asthma, allergies - all of these diseases have had an uptick in society over the past century. And all we get from western medicine is a band-aid. A “Go home and take this drug. Here are the side effects but never mind those. Oh, and you’ll have this disease for the rest of your life so you’ll just have to learn to live with it.”

From a Catholic world view, I know that we were meant to live for so much more, but we’ve lost ourselves. We’re not meant to live a sick and unproductive life. We’re not meant to be miserable in this world. It’s not in the Divine plan. The question that an astute person should ask themselves, not out of fear, but out of an innate drive to heal themselves is “What are we doing wrong?” Obviously something because health care needs are on the rise and, according to various government offices, there appears to be no end in sight.

My own personal healing journey, combined with my background in science, has led me to nutritional therapy. A wonderful program that looks at each human as a bio-individual with individual nutritional needs and an approach that we’re not “one size fits all”. I love it. It’s in keeping with Catholic teaching that we’re all created in His image and we’re all unique - there is no one else quite like us.

Nutrition is approached with a foundational platform, what you put in your mouth affects your overall health. So, if you put those chemicals that you can’t pronounce into your mouth, rather than the nutrient-dense and properly prepared whole foods that our ancestors ate for a millennium, what do you become? Our bodies are not engineered to eat man-made chemicals. We are engineered to eat simple foods that give us sustaining energy to get through our day. When we sway from that path, we become less-effective machines, wasting energy, gathering toxins and running inefficiently. This isn’t “woo-woo” quack science. This is basic science. If you give an organism what it needs, the body is going to do its part in maintaining a well-run system. Sure, every once in a while you need a tune-up (think a detox). But we know this from a spiritual sense as well. Lent is our spiritual tune-up. A nutritional detox is a physical tune-up. It makes logical sense when we see ourselves in light of being embodied spirits – both aspects of self must be well cared for.

Those of us in the alternative healing community are following the scientific method. St. Albertus Magnus, the founder of the scientific method, believed that the Bible contained the fullness of Revelation but that man could discover HOW things worked through observation, question and record. What modern science is doing now is ignoring the observation and question part. And society is just going with what is being told us – this includes the doctors, who are trained practitioners and are not scientists or researchers.  So, when a healthy teenage girl with NO history health complications suddenly dies after receiving a Gardasil vaccine what are we to do? Believe that there is no causal effect?  Or observe, question and record?

Those of us in the nutrition and alternative medical community are looking at the cause and effect aspect of medicine. If something can “treat” an ailment but there are worse “effects” than the original in question, how can we hope to help that individual find complete healing? The short answer is: We can’t. And we continue to become a society that is more and more addicted to pharmaceuticals to fix ailments that weren’t there to begin with. From a Catholic social teaching and ethical standpoint, it’s not just and it’s not sustainable.

So, yes. I am going to pursue treatment via nutritional means. This has become something I’m so passionate about, I even want to help others with their needs and finding healing through food.  As such, I am pursuing a degree in holistic nutrition, adding to the base of knowledge that I originally received at a 4 year university. We live in a world where things don’t need to be cured or managed by a pill. And with the exorbitant costs of health care, this isn’t practical for many. Food is practical. We all need to eat.  And what we eat becomes the foundation for our general health and longevity.

"Breaded" Fried Zucchini

I’ve been jonesing for this stuff for the past few months and somehow managed to fight the urge to buy zucchini out of season. Not sure how I managed it, but I did. Now that my garden is going crazy, here’s a nice little zucchini recipe for y’all.

I served mine up with some clean BBQ sauce that’s made locally here in Portland. They’re delicious just by themselves but this sauce. It’s an addiction. 

One little note before I give you the recipe: use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal. Usually, if you’re baking, I’m an advocate for not-Bob’s but this time around, you need the larger “grain” to mimic Panko breadcrumbs. Just trust me on this one. :)

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Breaded Fried Zucchini

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-3/8” medallions
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
  • 2 large, organic and pasture-raised eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Test out a bit of egg to see if the skillet is done - you want it to start spattering immediately. 
  2. You’ll need a bowl and a plate - one for the egg and one for the almond meal. Beat the egg in the bowl until it’s well blended.
  3. On the plate, combine the almond meal, salt and pepper and sift with a fork until incorporated.
  4. Dip the zucchini in egg, then in the almond meal and once again in the egg and place in the frying pan. Repeat until the pan is full with a single layer of zucchini.
  5. Cook until the egg is done and golden brown. Remove from pan and put aside. Repeat until all zucchini has been cooked.

Fruit Vinegar

Some of you may recall grandparents talking about sipping vinegar “back in their day” and how it was good for their constitution, gout, the sugar or insert-any-other-old-timey-ailment-word-here. And really, they weren’t all that off. Although their Windex-styled fix-it-all solution is hilarious, they really were on to something.

Natural raw vinegars, ya know, the ones with the mother in them, are quite good for you and are a great source of good bacteria that aid in the health of your gut and overall body. (If your gut is horrid, the rest of you is going to feel horrid because you’re not getting the necessary nutrients to pass through the blood-gut barrier or you’re getting mal-digested nutrients passing through. Bottom line - it’s horrid.)

Anyway, fruit vinegar is easy to make and isn’t super vinegary. In fact it makes a great mocktail. In the heat of the summer, I’ll grab a tumbler, throw a few ice cubes in it, some gassy mineral water (San Pellegrino is my fave) and a bit of the vinegar. The result? A light and refreshing drink that’s outta this world.

You’re going to look at it and wonder how you ever bought your own vinegars. Trust me. I do it to myself. In the mirror. True story. I frequent vinegar shops all the time and have been known to drop $100 on a few bottles of fruit vinegars. Yea. I did that. A lot. Whoops.

A few key things:

  • Your fruit shouldn’t be moldy or rotten.
  • They should be fresh, not frozen (I made that mistake once).
  • Scraps work, too! And they’re economical. Which I like. Bruised fruit is also okay. Use peels, rinds, cores, etc.
  • Use organic. If you can’t afford organic, ask your organic grocer if they have “seconds” in the back. Sometimes they’ll sell you those for a discounted price.
  • Also, if you can’t use organic, stay away from using peels.
  • It’s a lot of sugar, but you need to feed the bacteria something. By the time it’s all processed and fermented, the sugar count will be much less, making it usable if you have a special diet. 
  • Keep fruit submerged with a glass plate, rock, plastic lid (like a yogurt lid, BPA-free).
  • A bowl or wide-mouth jar works best because it encourages oxygen.
  • Save the mother!!! If it develops a mother, save it for a starter for the next batch (and omit the apple cider vinegar).
  • The ratio is 1 part fruit to 2 parts water.

Fruit Vinegar

  • 4 cups fruit scraps or fresh fruit
  • 1 qt filtered water
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  1. Put scraps in the jar or bowl.
  2. In a separate container, dissolve water in the sugar and pour over fruit. (There should be about 1 part scraps to 2 parts water, just eyeball it and add more fruit if necessary.)
  3. Use a rock, plate or a plastic lid to keep fruit submerged. If it won’t stay under, stir daily to prevent mold growth. 
  4. Cover the jar or bowl with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. (Make sure fruit flies can’t get in, they LOVE this stuff!) 
  5. Let it sit on the counter for a week and then strain out all the fruit using a fine mesh colander and a coffee filter. 
  6. Return the liquid to the container and cover it again with the cloth or filter and let it sit another 3-4 weeks. 
  7. If white yeast develops, called Kahm yeast, try to scrape it off - it’s not bad for you. So don’t worry. Otherwise, you can strain it out in the end. If mold develops, also known as the fuzzy stuff, pitch it.
  8. Bottle in narrow-neck bottles, cover and store indefinitely (as in it doesn’t go bad) at room temperature.