This week we’re visited by Jessica of Delicious Obsessions, who develops killer recipes that focus on real, wholesome ingredients. Today Jessica shares a bit about her health journey, and a recipe for Vanilla Bean Truffles, that happen to support one’s health since they are squeaky clean!
Do you ever stop and look back over the last year and really take notice of the changes in your life? That reflection is important. In order to know where we are going, we must know where we have been, and over the course of the last year, I have been on a journey to reclaim my health. While I am by no means at my optimal health, I am in a much better place now, compared to where I was one year ago. I can’t take credit for doing this all on my own. I did have help — the help of friends and family, as well as the help a variety of professionals who helped me get to the nitty-gritty of things. When it comes to dealing with health issues of any kind, I think having a team of people supporting and advising you is important. Dealing with health problems can get overwhelming and frustrating, especially when there is constantly conflicting information being thrown at you.
My Journey to Health
On August 1st, it will be one year since I took a stand for my health and embarked on my healing journey. Last summer, after an autoimmune thyroid disease diagnosis (Hashimoto’s), I decided it was time to cut the crap and get serious. Not that I was eating lots of crap, but I realized that I needed to make my health a priority. For too many years, everything else had taken a front seat and my health was always shoved on the back burner. Sure, I ate real food and I exercised when I could. But, there was a lot more that I could be doing, and despite my real food diet, I had packed on an unwanted 70 pounds over the course of the last 5 years. I’ve been sharing my adventures in my series calls, Let’s Get Personal, where I write about the whole process of healing and making decisions about my health.
The first order of business was to cut out all potential allergens in order to help heal my leaky gut and get my immune system under control. So, on August 1st, 2012, I essentially “went paleo” and eliminated grains, gluten, dairy, legumes, and sugar in one fell swoop. It honestly wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I quickly felt like I was making progress. I was focusing more on low-carb, high-fat for blood sugar control. The hardest thing for me was giving up dairy and sweet treats. Dairy was especially hard, because I love cheese and butter. There is no good replacement for cheese, and ghee, while delicious, just isn’t the same as butter.
Over the last year, I have lost 43 pounds and have started feeling better than I have in a long time. The diet change alone made a huge difference, because eliminating those specific food groups allowed my body to start healing. I was not doing any vigorous exercise, because I was suffering from quite a bit of fatigue. As hard as it was, I just let my body guide me, listened to my fatigue and accepted it. My exercise routine consisted of walks 4-5 times per week and yoga a couple times per week. I had to give up strength training for almost a year, since I would experience such horrible muscle fatigue that I could barely walk up the stairs after doing only one set of squats or lunges. Despite this, I was still feeling better and more optimistic about things. Sure, there were some bumps in the road and times where I felt frustrated, but I kept moving forward.
I am very proud of how far I’ve come over the last year. In addition to my weight loss, I am happy to report that my muscle fatigue has dramatically improved, so much so that I am now able to incorporate strength training into my routine 2-3 times per week. I have also started doing tabata training almost every morning before breakfast, which is having an incredible effect on my energy and my sleep. One other item that I am exceptionally proud of is the fact that I was able to wean myself off of my blood pressure medication and have maintained healthy blood pressure readings for months now. I owe so much of my success to making the switch to paleo and sticking with it. I can’t wait until I am to a point where I can start participating in Crossfit here in Denver. That is my ultimate goal!
Vanilla Bean Coconut Truffles
Giving up sweets was tough, but necessary. These vanilla bean truffles are one of the treats that got me through that initial “I have to give up everything I love” phase. They are super simple to make, but taste rich and decadent (all those healthy fats!). Sometimes I will make these without any added sweeteners and I find that the coconut butter is sweet enough. But, the maple syrup is delicious as well and adds some depth of flavor.
- 1 cup coconut butter
- 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (soft, but not melted)
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- super fine shredded coconut for rolling
- Combine the coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut milk and mix until creamy. I use my hand mixer, but a stand mixer or food processor works great as well. If you're using any sweetener, add it at this time.
- Add the vanilla bean powder and salt and mix until smooth.
- The batter will be too soft to work with, so stick the bowl in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. You want the batter to be firm, but not so hard that you can't scoop it out easily.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out a truffle and then roll it in your hands until it's a smooth ball. Roll in finely chopped coconut and then place on a parchment or wax paper lined tray. Repeat until you have used up all your batter.
- Stick in the fridge or freezer and chill until firm (makes it easier to transfer to an airtight container). Store these in the fridge or freezer. They taste best if you let them warm up to room temperature, where they are soft, smooth, and decadent! Enjoy!
About Delicious Obsessions: Jessica Espinoza is a real food nut, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. Jessica began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she’s been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. She loves to show people how making even small changes in their diet and food selections can make a huge difference in their lives, especially as she chronicles her own personal health journey and how following a paleo diet is helping her heal her body. Visit her site at www.deliciousobsessions.com, or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.