My Thankfulness Note and a Recipe for Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

OK so this is going to be a long post. If you would just like the recipe, scroll to the bottom!

Thanksgiving is one festival which I really look forward to! I think I like it even better than Christmas. Of course the food is one big attraction. However, more important than that is the fact that it forces you to look back, reflect and urges you to be thankful. As they say ‘There is always something to be thankful for’ and what a true statement that is!

For me personally this past year has given me many things to be thankful about. Last November, my RA was at its worst since my diagnosis in 2015.  I had tried medications first only to give them up a few months later because of terrible side effects. Then I tried naturopathy, ayurveda and homeopathy.  But nothing helped and last November I found myself in front of a new rheumatologist. Reviewing my blood test reports and by examining my joints, he suggested that I go on Rituxan infusions. Rituxan is a very potent chemo drug that is also used to treat RA but can cause serious, even potentially fatal, side effects. Being a pharmacist, I knew about this and so asked the doctor if he could prescribe something else instead and suggested a combination of meds instead. He reluctantly agreed but did not paint an encouraging picture for me.

I did not want to accept the doctor’s prognosis of my disease and decided to think positive. I kept searching the internet for stories of individuals who had turned their RA and other autoimmune diseases around by diet and lifestyle change.  I found myself a new naturopath who introduced me to the AIP diet. I started on both- the meds as well as the diet in December of last year. And I prayed. A lot.  I wrote down a list of all the things/tasks that I was not able to do then. And then on top of the list I wrote : I will get back to doing these things again…I know I will. The top 3 items on the list were :

  1. Snuggle playfully with my kids in bed
  2. Climb up and down the stairs freely without pain or fatigue
  3. Wear a jacket easily without my shoulders hurting

I prayed with a faith that I never had before. Reading the Bible regularly with a friend helped me to get into that frame of mind. I did not allow for negative and depressive thoughts to linger on my mind. I kept telling myself that I refuse to accept this pain and disability and will do whatever it takes to get better.  Doing the AIP diet was one of the ‘whatever it takes’!  It was tough to be on AIP.  I was already gluten free , dairy free and legume free by then. But on AIP I had to give up my beloved rice too! And that was tough. The first month was very, very hard. But I persisted. The desire to get better was so overpowering that I was willing to do anything. Yes, whatever it takes.

My naturopath also asked me to exercise which was again tough to begin with. My knees and shoulders were so painful and sore that even just climbing onto the elliptical was tough. But I did it in baby steps. The first few days I went to the gym and just sat on the stationary bike and eyed the elliptical building up my mental stamina. And finally one day I had the courage to try it. Slowly with each passing day I got better and I did more and more.

If you have been reading my posts this past year, you would have seen how these changes along with my decision to quit my job early on this year helped me to get better.  Last month my blood reports were all in the normal range. Of course I am still on meds but my rheumatologist is also surprised at my recovery. So there is something to be said about holistic healing. I am able to do more than half of the things on my wish list now. And I am hopeful that very soon I will be able to do all of them.

So you see, I have so much to be thankful for.  I thank the Lord for making me change my perspective – to go from being depressed and full of self-pity to feeling overwhelmingly positive. I am thankful for having the support of my wonderful family – my loving husband, children, sisters and dad. Also my close friends who made me retain my sanity in those difficult times. Most importantly, I am so thankful that I no longer have to balk away when my daughter comes running up to me to give me a tight hug! God, I am so, so thankful.

OK so now for these pumpkin donut holes that are completely grain free and dairy free. So I make these regular pumpkin munchkins for my munchkins and thought why don’t I try making these with coconut flour? Was fairly easy to make the dough. But then as soon as I put them in hot oil to deep fry, guess what? Oh no!.. they totally disintegrated! Yes completely! I almost gave up on having any pumpkin munchkins for myself but decided to bake these using my mini muffin / cake pop pans.

Boy, was I glad I did that! These babies amazingly resisted breaking apart when inside those tiny moulds and came out perfect. They are still quite soft to handle but hey, they are absolutely delicious!

So this recipe is another thing to be thankful for this year! And what better than to share with all of you guys!

Psalm 107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Sharing this post at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable hosted by Phoenix Helix.

Pumpkin Donut holes (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Delicious and soft grain free and dairy free pumpkin donut holes baked in mini muffin pans
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup thick pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (use ¼ tsp cinnamon powder for AIP)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • coconut sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Add the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar and the pumpkin puree into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking soda, salt and the pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon powder). Mix well.
  3. Then slowly add the coconut flour little by little till you can form a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into small balls - about 11-12.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C). Place the balls onto the mini muffin or cake pop pans.
  6. Bake for 10 mins. Then flip the donut holes gently and bake for another 4-5 mins.
  7. Take pans out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Roll the donut holes gently over coconut sugar.
Notes
These donut holes have to be baked in a mini muffin or a cake pop pan. Deep frying these will not work as they will disintegrate completely.

 

This is my fight!

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and the Arthritis Foundation is kicking off their ‘Fight for 50’ campaign to raise awareness about the reality of living with arthritis—and to fight for the more than 50 million Americans suffering with this painful disease.  As part of this campaign, the foundation is encouraging their readers to post stories about themselves or their loved ones facing arthritis.  As you know (or might know) if you have been reading my posts regularly, I have been struggling with Rheumatoid arthritis for the past two years and boy, it has been a tough journey. When I paused to think about all that has happened in my life in the past two years since my diagnosis, I thought it was worth sharing my story with others. Hence I submitted my story too and it is up on the Arthritis.org site now on the following page :

http://www.arthritis.org/fightfor50/stories.php. I have copied and pasted my story here for my readers. But do check out the other stories on the Arthritis site. Hope my story and the other stories help you to increase your knowledge about the different types of arthritis and help you empathize better with individuals suffering from the same since it is not only a physically crippling disease but is an emotionally challenging one as well.

Here is my story as published on Arthritis.org:

THIS IS MY FIGHT

Since my mom had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I always had that in the back of my mind that I might get it too some day. But never had I imagined that it would hit me so early and so aggressively! RA struck me suddenly at 42, two years ago. Overnight my world changed. In a matter of a year, I went from ‘hyperactive supermom’ who would be up on her feet from 6 in the morning till 11 at night, to almost an ‘invalid’ needing help for the simplest of chores.

Pain was paramount. Severe shoulder pain episodes waking me up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and would just sit up or walk around in the dark. At first only the back of my knees would hurt and then gradually the knees started getting worse. I would stand at the top of the stairs and pause for a few seconds trying to muster up the courage to take the steps down! There was swelling in my hands making it difficult to do anything in the kitchen. I had so much stiffness in the mornings that I couldn’t even get up and make lunches for my kids – that part hurt the most. Shoulder pain, Ankle pain, foot pain, elbow pain  – Every day it would be a new joint. As if a monster was moving inside my body and going to the different joints and hitting them with a hammer.

My rheumatologist put me on a medication that is first line for RA called Methotrexate. It is actually a chemo drug but used in lower doses for RA. I was doing reasonably ok – meaning about 50% better on it but the severe pain episodes were still coming. And then after being on it for about 7 months, the doctor increased my dose to the highest allowed. That brought a severe reaction with me getting an episode of severe uterine cramps – I was on the floor writhing in pain and I passed out. My husband called 911 and l found myself in the ambulance and the ER! That incident shook us both and we asked the rheumy to change the medication. He put me on a different medication called as Lefluonomide, which was clearly not a good one for me. I lost 15 pounds on it in 4 weeks and I became so severely weak that I didn’t have the energy to take even a few steps in my house.! I developed shortness of breath and would start panting if I climbed the stairs in my home. All these side effects made me decide to stop meds altogether and try naturopathy. I went to India last summer taking a break from work and also tried Ayurvedic treatment which sadly did not help much.

Although my naturopath had me on a dairy free, gluten free and night shade free diet, it was not showing any results. My condition got worse and worse. Work was also getting stressful. I had neck pain too now. There were times when I felt completely depressed and frustrated. I would look at the mirror and ask myself – who is this woman? What happened to the girl who could do 30 Kathak chakkars (dance twirls) at a time! Is this the same person who would be standing in the kitchen for 5 hours at a time cooking for a crowd? I would weep alone in my bed at night not wanting my kids to see my pain and anguish.

Husband and kids helped out a lot. We hired help to cook and do things around the house. After trying so many different things, instead of getting better I was getting worse. I did not know what else to do. I had run out of options. I was totally inconsolable as I didn’t have a plan. Last November, I started seeing a new rheumatologist and he told me I had severe RA and he recommended Rituxan infusions, which is a highly potent injectable used to treat some forms of cancer. It comes with a serious potentially fatal side effect. I requested him if he could still keep me on the oral meds and asked if I could be on a combination of oral meds – Methotrexate and Plaquenil. He agreed although he was not very hopeful. I was hopeful that the lower dosage of each medicine in the combination would help keep the side effects on the lower side.

Around the same time, I started doing meditation by the encouragement of a co-worker who is a close friend too. We started reading the Bible together every week. Being able to connect with God had a profound impact on my perspective. I went from ‘feeling sad about myself’ to ‘feeling wonderfully positive’. Now once again I wanted to give diet a try since I had read so many case studies about individuals turning their autoimmune disease around by healing their guts with the right foods. I consulted with a new naturopath from California who put me on the ‘AIP or autoimmune protocol’ diet, which is a ‘grain free’, dairy free’ ‘nut free’ and sugar free’ diet that relies on nutrient dense foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, good quality fish and meat to heal the body.

I slowly started getting better. So what was working now you may wonder? Was it the medications? Or the diet? or my positive attitude? I really think it is a combination of all three. I am able to do a lot more things by myself now than before. And I am continuing to work to heal my body. I regularly exercise, do yoga and do meditation. I am grateful to God for helping me to make these positive changes in my life. I also quit my stressful corporate job in Jan of 2017 so that I could focus on healing and getting better. I now spend my time blogging about my ‘autoimmune paleo’ recipes and studying more about natural healing. I still have a long way to go but I hope my story motivates fellow RA sufferers to ‘not give up’ and to remain positive and hopeful. Always count your blessings and be thankful. Things will definitely start turning around!