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Rainy days give me every reason to remain indoors, wrapped in a tattered sweatshirt, my hair in braids, and a light hearted book in hand. I can’t resist the urge to bake, as I crave food with warm spices and soft textures. I write this post as I bite into one of these AIP Paleo Breakfast muffins, similar to Morning Glory Muffins, sharing honest thoughts on what I’ve learned about myself over the past few months.
I’m coming off a relaxing weekend, one that felt different than others for reasons beyond it being a holiday.
On Friday we watched the Saints play in their beautiful new stadium, and I enjoyed a glass of wine as we cheered them to victory. On Saturday I picked up flowers, seeds and soil to get started on my vertical garden. The base that Brian’s dad had built for me stood empty last summer, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. Later that night I grilled burgers and we dined al fresco. Sunday morning I planted the garden, made paleo pumpkin scones, had a quick lunch at Chipotle to refuel, and took a leisurely walk staring at the gorgeous homes on Summit Avenue.
I spent time living life. These things, as simple as they may seem, made me feel normal again.
There was a big part of me that was lost over the last year while my health suffered. My spontaneity and zest for life that I once had seemed out of reach. Waking up nearly everyday with intense headaches and inflammation, or wondering if something I ate was going to make me flare again, the fatigue, the isolation ……. it was all exhausting.
I started the AIP (autoimmune protocol) under the recommendation of my doctor after the diagnosis of leaky gut and SIBO, with the mindset that I was going to use real food to take back my health. The intent of AIP is eating nutrient-dense foods to support immune system regulation, avoidance of immune-stimulating compounds in foods, avoidance of foods that are gut irritants or damage the gut barrier, avoidance of foods that feed gut dysbiosis, and addition of foods that support a healthy gut microbiome.
Since seasonal and fresh food are my jam, I didn’t think it would be that difficult. I needed to remove some of my favorites like eggs, whole-grains, legumes, nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, chiles and spices associated with them), nuts, seeds, dairy and anything processed, but I was willing to do whatever it took. I cleared my cabinets of all things processed – not that there was a lot, gluten-free crackers, tortilla chips, cereal, condiments, the little things you don’t think twice about when you need a snack or to fancy up a meal.
I started eating only the things I was “supposed” to eat, taking out all of the things I “wasn’t”, yet I was still having flares and feeling awful.
The perfectionist in me kept saying, this is your fault, you must be doing something wrong.
There was sadness and depression that came with the loss of not being able to eat the nourishing foods I loved. I was still making delicious and beautiful food, but it just wasn’t the same. The thing I was most passionate about had become quite complicated, and exhausting.
The racing thoughts, the questions – it felt as if they were consuming me.
“Was the meat I was buying from the co-op grassfed, but grain finished? But I can’t afford to buy all organic produce so is it the conventional cauliflower that is making me sick? Maybe I’m eating too many starchy vegetables that are causing me to flare? I’m so hungry but there’s nothing I can just grab and eat like a handful of cashews. I can’t just buy coconut milk from the grocery story because they have gums or stabilizers. Will I ever be able to just go to pick up a food without having to dissect every part of the label? “
And although I could be social, it was really hard. Sitting at some of the best restaurants with lovely people, yet not being able to enjoy anything they were eating, or having to make a zillion modifications for the kitchen made me feel like a burden. It felt better to stay at home and work rather than go through that process.
I started to see the connection between our mental health and our physical health, and realize that anxiety and depression can exacerbate the physical struggles we face – in my case, a tough bout with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
I wasn’t living life anymore, and I don’t know how of my sickness can be attributed to this, but I know it was connected. It was hard for me to recognize in the midst of it, but I’m thankful to have figured out that something had to give. I let myself be okay with using antibiotics to help kill the SIBO, I started to slowly reintroduce foods with an open mind, and started to get the nourishment my body was missing. I worked with (and still am) a therapist to dig into the part of me that latches onto anxiety, and introduce skills that can help me deal with that.
I completely believe in the power of food, making us healthy and happy, working as medicine. It has been an influential part in me getting better, but not the only part.
When food becomes so limited or restricted, it takes away the joy and beauty of it. Please don’t take that as me discounting the validity of health plans like AIP, GAPS, SCD, etc. For many people they work, and there are countless success stories. But for someone who tends to have black and white thinking like myself, it might not be the best choice. I’m not saying you should eat things that make you sick – there are definitely foods that each of us don’t tolerate, or we need to avoid for health reasons. For me that’s gluten, and I’m still working on reintroducing some grains, nightshades, dairy, and legumes.
I believe it’s all about treating your individual needs, figuring out what makes you feel the best, and results in living the life you want.
Look at all the factors surrounding you – the things you’re internalizing may be affecting your physical state more than you think. Listen to your body, listen to that inner voice, and give yourself love.
Take snippets of suggestions here and there, but most of all, find the you in your health. We’re all different, and each of our beautiful prescriptions is different.
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Thank you so much for this recipe! I was a little hesitant as I was making the dough, it just seemed alot dried than it should be, but they turned out soft and moist and delicious 😋. I subbed in well mashed ripe banana for the apple sauce as I don’t tolerate apple, and I used about 1/3 cup instead of 1/4 cup,and they tasted great.
Thanks for sharing your story, it really mirrors mine as i battle with SIBO and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s so frustrating to try to do everything possible to heal and it just seem to doesn’t work. I am trying to give myself grace as I attempt to follow a mostly AIP diet. I’m not perfect with it, but my mental and emotional health was suffering getting obsessive about food. I felt no joy, my spontaneity was gone and it felt like food and my illness was taking over my life. I’ve decided to just do my best and if that’s not enough then maybe medical treatments might be the next step (been very reluctant to take any medications). I needed to hear what you had to say today. Thanks so much 💕
So glad you liked the muffins! And sending kind thoughts as you are gentle with yourself in these next steps of getting better.
I made these for me, but my family kept snagging them. I have to make a double batch next time! Very tasty!
love to hear it!
Thank you for this article. I’ve been AIP for about a year now and I have not felt better. My brain fog has cleared and my weight and thyroid has stabilized. Now to get back on track being that I fell off the AIP wagon.
I needed to read this! Your words hit home. I am having a night where I feel isolated from others and depressed because I don’t get to eat “fun” things. I really appreciate your take on the weight of our thoughts and our food.
Hang in there Megan, sending love!
I didn’t make the muffins. They sound great, but cassava flour tends to make the inside of my face itchy lol. Plus, I’m terrible at making gelatin eggs 😜 I wanted to comment because your story was very touching and I can relate. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and starting AIP was VERY hard. My flare ups did seem to increase at first but I heard that can happen, so I stuck with it. I’m better then I have been, I would say, and my flare ups are down to about one every other week. I do agree that stress and anxiety can cause flare ups. However, I also feel that if you consume something that causes your body and immune system to react AND you get into a huge fight with a family member or get overloaded at work then the combination of stress and the food reaction will create a flare up. Autoimmune disease can definitely feel like our life is all up hill. I try to think of it as the need to be hyper aware of how to thrive every day. If my focus is on thriving then I’ll be ok. I deal with depression too, especially when I get a flare up (I wonder, how could I have let myself down?!). I just try to remember the teachings of yoga. When you’re in a difficult pose, don’t judge your body for having a hard time. The aim of yoga is simply to accept yourself where you are, as you are, right now.
These are delicious 😋! We put some dairy free chocolate chips, and blueberries and it was also delicious! They are a bit chewy, but other than that they are great!
What should be the texture of the batter going into the muffin tins? I often have to add several tablespoons extra water when I’m using these flours and I haven’t figured out why. Without any water, my batter is similar to sugar cookie dough, dry enough I could probably mold a six inch tall snow man out of it and it would stay several hours. Thank you for any advice! Even with lots of added water, my two little boys and I think this recipe is a keeper.
Hi Kristen! The batter is SUPER thick because of the gelatin eggs. Glad you like the recipe!
Hello again! So I just made your carob cake bread with date frosting – only I ran out of time for the frosting so used some palm shortening/powdered coconut sugar frosting I already had in the fridge. Anyway, four of my five kids thought that was fabulous! Hooray! Anyway, I noticed on that recipe that you have 1 C of cassava at 140 g, which is quite different than this recipe. Maybe you didn’t spoon it for that one? (I’m just trying to figure out whether to do 110 g or to do more to get this recipe right)
I have five kids and we are doing AIP for a short while. I have a question for you about your cassava measurement. I was using a cassava flour from Azure Standard, so I went by weight and 110 g of cassava for me was about half the volume it was for you. I decided to order Otto’s so I could follow your recipe more closely. The Otto’s says it’s 32g per 1/4 cup, which would mean a titch over 3/4 cup to give you 110g of flour. Are you sifting yours? How is your flour so light?
I typically spoon the flour into the measuring cup rather than scoop!
Thanks for sharing! Do they keep long?
Yes, they’ll last 3 days in the refrigerator, and they freeze well!
This looks so good! What a great breakfast meal prep for the week!
I am SO grateful to you for sharing this recipe! I seriously love these so much that I would make them even if I wasn’t on AIP. The only modification I made was to add 1/2 grated apple and a little more cinnamon. I used to make what I called “BranApple Carrot Muffins” with oat bran, and this is as close to that as I’ve found yet. I’m making a master mix of the dry ingredients to keep in a jar in my pantry, and bagging and freezing portions of the wet ingredients so on those sleepy mornings when I’m craving a muffin with my matcha latte, it will be that much quicker and easier. Thank you again!
aw, thank you for leaving this note! i’m so glad you enjoy the recipe and such a great idea to make a master mix of the dry ingredients!
I made these for my 2-year old and he loves them! Used 2 regular eggs and raisins instead of the gelatin egg and cranberries. I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out since the batter was really thick but they’re delicious! Thank you!
Great! So glad you and your son are enjoying the muffins. And good to know that eggs work too!
I deal with anxiety and most likely SIBO. Although it hasn’t been diagnosed. I get bloated and gassy with certain foods and trying to figure out what’s going on with my body! SO, I’m following AIP right now and seeing where that takes me. I have learned that the best days are when I have leftovers!!! :) So I make sure to add extra food to the dinner prep.
Thank you so much for the recipe and sharing your story!
Sending love and healing! xo
Looks delicious…I’ve reintroduced eggs…can I use whole or the whites only?
Hi! I haven’t ever made these with real eggs, but the proper replacement would be the whole egg.
I have a sensitivity to maple – have you tried honey with success?
Yes, it works great with honey in place of maple as well! Just watch the baking time, it may need to go a littler longer.
Thanks so much!! Excited to try this :)
Do you know if this recipe would work without the coconut flour. Or if there is something I can use to substitute for the coconut flour?
hi joni! the coconut flour is key because it helps to absorb the liquid and bind. i’m not sure if you could substitute it with anything else, as i haven’t tried that.
I just had to come back and tell you what a yummy recipe this is!! I used raisins instead of cranberries as its had to find dried cranberries that isn’t sweetened with cane sugar. I love cutting them in half and toasting them for my breakfast or afternoon treat. I follow AIP with some reintros but this is great as I was looking for a recipe with cassava flour. I will def make theses again. thank you
toasted and warm is my favorite way of making as well! glad you liked them. xo
Followed this recipe to a T. Even after 40 minutes, they were still gooey on the inside and never set up. Any ideas what may have gone wrong?
Hi Trisha! I’ve had many people make these with success so I’m not sure what the problem was. The only thing I can think of is that maybe your baking soda was old, so they in effect didn’t have a chance to rise and bake through. Also, did you use a scale to measure your dry ingredients? Another thing you might want to do is check the temperature inside your oven to check for accuracy.
Do you think these would turn out okay without adding the sweetener? Or maybe using only half of it? Or would they be too dry without that added liquid?
Hi Tara! The muffins will not turn out if you don’t add the sweetener because of the chemical leavening properties and moisture.
HI, I would like to try these as I try to help myself and family with various health challenges. Thanks for posting. I’m wondering if the arrowroot or tapioca flour can be omitted.
Thanks and good luck!
Hi Katherine! The arrowroot or tapioca is a large part of this recipe so should not be omitted.
Hi, thanks for your recipe. I can only have cassava flour. Tapioca starch, blueberries, Apple sauce and olive oil. And vanilla. Would it work to make this recipe with those ingredients? How would you recommend I do it?
Hi Kristen! Since you only have 50% of the ingredients, I am afraid the recipe won’t work. If you did get your hands on the rest, I think you’d love the recipe!
Thanks for your reply… I only meant that I have food sensitivities to all the other ingredients. Have you ever made a more simple recipe using cassava flour? I bought some recently but can’t seem to find any online recipes since I’m sensitive to most foods.
How important is the coconut flour to the integrity of the recipe? Coconut sensitivity here.
Hi Beth! The coconut flour is essential for its absorbing properties. If I were to guess what you could replace it with that would have similar results, I would go with 4 tablespoons of tapioca starch or arrowroot starch. No guarantees, as I’ve never tried it this way.
I am in love with this recipe! I just started the Paleo AIP diet and need some creative ways to ratify my cravings. Well done! At the moment, I am omitting all sweeteners so in place of the maple syrup, I use extra gelatin to bind the ingredients together. Tastes good still. Also, this is a beautiful and honest post that I am grateful to have read. Thank you!
I made this recipe last night, and had a couple of the muffins warmed in the toaster oven for breakfast. I really enjoyed them! Thank you for posting this recipe! I have not found too many AIP recipes that compare to old favorites before quitting grains. It’s very difficult to get both taste and texture with AIP limitations, but this is one of the closest I have ever made, and I make a lot of recipes! When they first came out of the oven, I tasted one after about 5-10 minutes, and while tasty, it still had some of that gooey texture that tapioca and arrowroot tend to create, which is fine by me, but after sitting in the fridge overnight, and being reheated in the toaster oven this morning, the texture was much closer to a glutenous muffin on the inside, and the outside has a nice sturdiness and slight crustiness (which I love because I like hearty stuff). Before quitting grains, ages ago, I worked in a bakery, and one of my favorite things was this loaf of cranberry bread that I could toast and eat in the cool mornings in the winter. So, this kind of filled a good old memory there. And while it didn’t have nuts like that loaf, it had carrots which made me think of my other old favorite carrot cake, and I didn’t miss spreading butter on it because the flavor itself was good. Thanks again, and I hope you keep creating more great recipes :o)
Hi Amanda, I just came across your blog by following a Pinterest recipe. Like the people above and yourself, I have been struggling with AIP for months now. I generally do not mind what I can and cannot eat and do slip every now and again. My questions is, how did you know you had SIBO? I am nearly sure that I have it (8 weeks of diarrhea, burping, etc.) but read that there is a high incidence of false negatives with tests. Did your regular doctor diagnose you? I’m in week 2 of GAPS and doing OK with it but my symptoms, while better, have not gone away. The up side is AIP seems REALLY good now, compared to what I’m not eating on GAPS. Thanks…I love your blog.
hello! the hard thing about SIBO as you mentioned is that there are a lot of false negatives, and my doctor was very keen on using both a test and symptoms to diagnose. i took the tests through Genova diagnostics, which he ordered for me, and the results showed 3x the normal methane level. i hope that helps, and send you hope. xo
Hi Amanda, I just stumbled on this post looking for cassava flour muffins. I really appreciate what you’ve wrote and can identify with it, too. I’ve been doing a modified (progressively stricter) AIP diet the past six months for Crohn’s disease and really struggling. I get down on myself for ‘slipping up’ and having a hand in my illness. And that feeds into the negative emotional state that triggers it all! For me, moderation, self-compassion, and managing the stress in my life do seem to be the biggest determinants of my health; diet is important, but those things are essential.
I’m so glad this resonated with you Lily. It sure isn’t easy, and hard to keep that thought of perfection out. But it does help, and great that you’re turning to self-compassion. xo
I searched for cassava flour & cranberry and BAM, there was this recipe. I will be trying this out soon and posting on my blog! Thank you for the recipe. You will definitely get credit. :)
so glad you found the recipe – enjoy! they’re our favorite. i usually make a double batch and freeze some too. :)
I made a goof. Forgot the gelatin egg. Didn’t pull them back out of the oven and just *tried it* anyways. They held together just fine. Woo-hoo! AND I used these baking cups (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FAIR96/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=Z7LG9YNQ72QL&coliid=I3SCVZIE8IGDQF). The notes say they will stick, but not with these. I went ahead & used oil on 11 holes in the muffin tin (didn’t read until AFTER that it only makes 10 – I saw the note about 12 holes early in the recipe so assumed it made 12) and one hole I did a liner. Didn’t stick to these liners.
Glad for another recipe that works!
I loved your post!! I read this to my husband and he said “that sounds like you!”. You touched on all the things I’ve been feeling and or going through while doing AIP. It is definitely tough and I’m starting to re-introduce foods. I felt like I got worse after I started AIP—maybe because I felt so restricted, became depressed, wanted to isolate myself from friends and or family if I couldn’t eat what they were eating. A few weeks prior to starting AIP, I had gone on a trip to Dallas, visiting friends, and I stayed gluten and dairy free, but still had nightshades and GF grains. But I was sooooo happy and having so much fun! I barely noticed symptoms. It felt good just to be with friends and live and not worry about every little thing! And now, with re-introductions, I want to get back to that place of happiness and a little more spontaneity, even if maybe I don’t eat the exact right food. Thanks again for your honesty and heartfelt post!! : – )
Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I could’ve written the exact words. The same story line. The same experience with the restricted diets. It’s been 8 months off of so many foods and still I have strong reactions. The depression and loss of hope is hugely detrimental to improved health. I agree that finding the true you and learning how to live without anxiety and stress is a major part of healing. I look forward to reading more from you!
Maria, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It is SO hard, and frustrating, and defeating at times. But don’t give up, and try to hold on to the little victories. I found that having an open mind and positivity towards food, and trying not to fear that I would get sick every time I put something on my plate was helpful. It seemed that loving the food more, and the nutrition that it brought, made it love me more. xo
Oh I can relate to your struggles! My story isn’t nearly as complicated or heart-wrenching but I do understand the challenges you face and the mental struggle as much as the physical. Hugs to you! xoxo
On a side note, I have been getting sick of my morning routine – can’t wait to mix it up and try these yummy-looking muffins!
Chrissa, thanks for stopping by and your kind words…. love to you, and hope you enjoy the muffins!
This post is so wonderfully honest and well-put. I’ve had similar difficulties, as I’ve been struggling with leaky gut symptoms for the past two years, and decided to go on an almost-AIP diet to help me rule out specific sensitivities. I still haven’t cut everything out (eggs, bell peppers), and sometimes I blame myself when I get symptoms because I ate the “wrong thing.” It comes down to doing what you know you need. Your body will tell you a lot, and you will feel more fulfilled listening to yourself than you will following the rules. I admire your strength so much, and I will keep sending positive thoughts for healing your way.
I’m so glad the post was helpful for you too. The self-blame is such a difficult one, but as you said it’s listening to your own body. They are incredible in so many ways, helping us live and breathe each day. Something I once took for granted, but no more. Sending healing and positive thoughts, xo
Amanda, this is such a gorgeous, heartfelt read. You have inspired me this day with your strength. I hope you continue to get well, and that the foods you love will be tolerable for you one day. But if not, you will find other foods to love. I have had to cut out quite a bit from my diet, but it has made me more creative.
These muffins look so delicious!
oh, Amanda. you are such an inspiration.
1. I never would have even almost begun to think of you as a burden at dinner when you made modifications to your meal – i found it to be inspiring AND enjoyable to know that I was not being judged or judging, (I guess that’s what I’m trying to say) I’ve loved dining with you!
2.I’m so happy to hear about your amazing weekend! I am in the middle of writing a post about reading books and how very little time I take to do it anymore… sigh. I’m ready to steal some “me” time back (that’s not blog related hah)
3. you rock. i heart you.
you are the sweetest. i definitely know you understand when it comes to needing to make modifications and because of that, i felt comfortable going out with you. so thank you for always being so kind! your zest and spirit for life is inspiring, whether you know it or not. i am so glad we’ve become friends, xo.
BIG HUG coming your way, dear Amanda. You are right. Food is only a part of the puzzle, and oftentimes mindset and mood have more influence over how we feel/heal. I am so glad to hear you are on the path to recovery. Of this I am sure: Brighter days are ahead! Would love to get lunch again with you sometime. Take care!
This is such a honest, beautiful post. I know it’s been a tough road and I’m so happy to hear that you are taking time for yourself and finding the things that are working best for you. I know for myself that in addition to autoimmune struggles that internalizing things certainly has a physical impact on me, and being able to talk through those things with someone is hugely therapeutic. It’s been a process to know that I’m even doing it! Thanks for sharing, Amanda. xo!
Tessa, thank you for this note, and all your support along the way. I am so grateful for all the kind words you share with me, and I feel so connected knowing we have similar issues. You’re a gem. xo
Yes, yes, yes! I couldn’t agree more! I went through something very similar to this myself. I did a pretty strict 6 month elimination diet (based on blood-testing food sensitivity results) followed by about a year of paleo and then the last six months on AIP. Sometimes (especially in the beginning….but even now if I’m having a hard time of life) I would get so overwhelmed by what I couldn’t eat, that I just wouldn’t eat at all. Sometimes having to find a meal that was ‘safe’ for me to eat is/was so overwhelming to me that my decision would be to not make a decision….and before I knew it I would have gone to bed without eating dinner. Talk about unhealthy eating behaviors! I realized this was contributing to me being worse, not better and that slipping up and eating something ‘wrong’ was a better risk to take. Hard lesson to learn! I feel your pain, keep up the good work!!
Thank you for sharing your story Amanda. Although I am not actually the one that needs to eat gluten free in my family, it can be overwhelming as the one who cooks and grocery shops. We’re now experimenting with dairy free for my daughter and I have definitely noticed I’m sensitive to nightshades. I haven’t even done anything for myself yet about the nightshades because the thought of removing all gluten, dairy and nightshades from almost every meal is so daunting. But it sounds like the AIP diet would be something to accommodate them all? As someone who has been making gluten free food for a while and I’m used to having to experiment in the kitchen, it’s still a daunting task. I’m so glad you are finally feeling better and your approach to eating to heal your body is so inspiring.
I feel like the advice you give is the truest advice there ever was! For a long time, I struggled with posting certain things to social media or if people would judge me for eating a bit of things that weren’t 100% ‘vegan’. Really, at the end of the day it should be able what makes you feel like you and how you approach the whole mind and body connection. Lots of love to you! xo
thank you for your support abby! it means so much. i know there are food labels for a reason, but sometimes it makes it so hard, because people think it’s either that way or no way. some days my plate is paleo, some days it’s vegan, some days it’s a lot meat :) it’s the whole mind and body connection like you mention! xo
Thank you for sharing your heart, Amanda. I wish you weren’t going through the challenges, it’s so hard. Food issues can be so frustrating and I know, sometimes it would just be easier to give up. But we can’t because we want to feel good.. so despite all that we move forward, learn, retweak and keep going. No doubt finding what works best for you, it is such an individual thing. Sometimes I wonder if after removing all those ‘things’ from my diet if there’ll be anything left. How will I feel without grains (I’m struggling with this one)? It is sad… letting go of such cherished food, sharing with others. But it also opens new opportunities to feel better. I’m so happy you had a glorious weekend… so glad. Sending you a hug and gratitude for sharing. Thank you, Amanda.