Friday, April 29, 2016

Grain Free Banana Bread Granola (AIP friendly)

One component of healing from my concussion has been reducing inflammation through dietary changes. I found the autoimmune paleo diet/protocol has been a wealth of information and recipes for still eating well but keeping any inflammation to a minimum. Since I don't actually have an autoimmune disease I have more flexibility in my food choices (chocolate, i love you) but overall it has been transformative for our family. Andy has been struggling with gut and allergy issues for a while and we decided to do it together. So far, I've been able to tolerate adding a few grains back here and there, but he's seen so much success with how he feels that he'll be mostly off grains for the foreseeable future.

This granola is quick to put together and freakin' delicious!

Grain-Free Banana Bread Granola

Adapted from AutoImmune Paleo

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes or shards
2/3 cup dried fruit of choice (raisins or cranberries)
1/2 cup nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, etc.)
2 medium ripe bananas
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1  tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)

Optional Step the day before: Soak and dehydrate the nuts prior to making granola. Good if your digestion is iffy.

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Grease a pan with coconut oil (or use parchment paper)
2. Stir together coconut flakes, dried fruit, and soaked nuts in a mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, mash the banana until soft. Add the coconut oil, salt, and spices.
4. Pour the banana mixture into the dry mixture and stir until well coated and combined.
5. Spread the mixture evenly onto your pan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. The coconut should get delightfully crispy.
7. Let cool, break up into granola-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

some new beginnings and learning to love my brain...

The journey of recovery from my head injury has been challenging and humbling. But also surprising in the way it has changed the course of my life and encouraged me to explore new paths that I otherwise would have walked by without a second glance.

The most surprising change of events was when I enrolled in a yoga teacher training here in Portland in March. This all came about quickly (as things in my life usually do) and it stemmed from a random meeting in the lobby of my neurologist. 

We were waiting for our appointment and a young couple was sitting opposite us. A conversation started, as usually does in these situations, "What are you here for? What happened? What's your challenge?" and it turns out that he was Kevin Pearce, a former professional snowboarder who had sustained a traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 Olympics. He gave us the code to watch the documentary made about his recovery and I explored the web site of the foundation he started called LoveYourBrain. 

What stood out to me was the tab labeled Yoga & Meditation. I clicked through and discovered that they were launching a pilot program of TBI-friendly yoga classes in partnerships with studios around the country. Ok, now this was intriguing! I didn't see any listed for Oregon and searching further was forgotten. 

The next week, or a few weeks later (I can't remember), a yoga teacher shadowed one of my treatment sessions at the neurologists. I figured she was interested in trying to incorporate more brain-friendly practices within her own class. When I questioned my coordinator, it turns out she was just there for a job interview! "Are there many yoga classes around that are brain friendly, like the Love Your Brain Foundation's?" The coordinator shook her head. "There is nothing that I know of." 

Whenever I hear something like that, the wheels inside start churning. I was in no physical or mental position to seriously consider pursuing the training, so I tucked it away but thought about it often. 
Like most women my age, I've done yoga on and off for my adult life. I gravitated in and out of classes but never committed myself to a serious practice. So why was I contemplating pursuing this, to become a yoga teacher? It really did not seem like something I would do, it didn't make sense. All the more reason I was seriously considering it! 

After a few more weeks of treatment and my very intense five day, five times a day intensive, I was feeling so much better and more grounded, and the opportunity came into my mind once again. There was going to be a LoveYourBrain training in Boston in a few months time...maybe the timing would be right? Maybe I could travel cross-country for this workshop? If I had a goal like training with LoveYourBrain, then pursuing my yoga certification might actually make sense. 

When I told Andy my plan, I think he was shocked but ultimately was excited and encouraging. "I could really see you doing this," was what I needed to hear, and it's exactly what he said. 

So, true to form, I looked up yoga schools online and signed up for one that started two weeks from that day. In a few days' time I filled out the application, was accepted, and paid the deposit. Then, I freaked out. Could I handle it? Why do I do crazy things? Something comes over me and I jump in feet first. Sometimes it's a disaster, and sometimes it's awesome. After having to quit everything I had been doing last year it seemed scary to say yes to something again. 

The answer has so far been Yes. So, here I am. Enrolled in a yoga teacher training! It's really strange but been so empowering, challenging, and transformative. The best part has been one of my dearest friends enrolled with me, which has made it so much less intimidating. And fun. 

The very first night of our class we had to take pictures of ourselves in certain poses for a future "embodiment project," where we would compare ourselves at the beginning and end of the course. I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks and then made this meme:

Yep, I'm in yoga teacher training school. Buckle up! 

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