Posted on Leave a comment

How to Boost Fertility 35+

A bit of context for my fertility advice for late 30s:

A few years ago I decided all I wanted out the next portion of my life was to have a child (or more). I was no longer focused on a specific career or income goal, I was recently married and living in the location of my dreams. Luckily, my husband and I both wanted children, whether or not we were ready for them. Married at 33, by 34 I knew I was tick-tocking. Although we lived a pretty healthy lifestyle I had some poor habits. So after our honeymoon I decided to start taking this whole pre-conception thing a bit more seriously. The first thing I had to do was quit smoking weed. I am a medical marijuana patient, using the herb primarily for a reoccurring knee pain and menstrual cramps, but I really liked to smoke a little weed with a little tobacco. A poor habit for a mom. And I really liked to drink multiple coffees a day and multiple alcoholic beverages at night. So, I decided to do a preconception cleanse called Purium Lifestyle Transformation. You can read more about this preconception cleanse in this article I wrote. As a note while I do advise the transformation for pre-conception cleansing, I don’t think the “lifestyle” program was what I needed for conception itself.

This definitely helped me kick the most important bad habits. But I still had work to do. After a few personal hurdles I started drinking again. I worked late managing and serving at a bar & restaurant. My coworkers and I would stay after work socializing and having a few drinks. I ate dinner late, then drank beers late, and then went to sleep late. Etc. So I kinda took off time from trying to be a good girl. But regardless my husband finally agreed to start trying to conceive with me.

That was Feb 2020. Then covid hit us in here in Hawaii on March 2020. It took a little time for him to come around again and we tried again for months, during what we thought was our “fertile” window based on the “Glow” App, you know the magic day 14. But months went by and I kept getting my periods. Then I took some advice from my OBGYN and a friend and started tracking my ovulation and my cervical mucus in August. Which by the way was a really bad month for me. I was under a lot of emotional stress. My summer babysitting gig just ended, my bar was no where near reopening and a friend I went to graduate school with was brutally murdered by her boyfriend leaving me in shock and wondering what I was doing with my life. I wanted to run home to Connecticut. I wanted to hide in my room and drink wine all day. And the only thing I really motivated me at all was wanting to have a baby. I didn’t care about anything else. In fact, one of the reasons why I didn’t go home to CT was because I knew my chances of getting pregnant there was zero.

So I stuck around, planned an anniversary staycation with my husband and used those ovulation strips I had been meaning to try. I had already been pretty good about updating my Glow App when I got my period. But I was bad about tracking how long it really lasted, how heavy the flow was, when I was spotting etc. But I knew my cycle was usually around 26 days. Of course, those past months I was trying to get pregnant I was using the “rhythm” method of my app which said my fertile days are right around the 14th. But when I used my ovulation strips, that August, It showed I was ovulating more like day 17,18. Which at first I thought that was fine, “yay! I’m ovulating”. But then bam! I got my period “on time” of my 26 day cycle. After some thinking, and research I realized this meant my luteal phase that cycle was only 8 days!!! Way too short to have successful implantation. Now, this could have been exacerbated by my unusually stressful month leading up to ovulation or it could have been this way all along. I wish I had started tracking when I first tried to get pregnant.

For the rest of August and September I began to research the hell out of fertility and try everything I could. I specifically looked into lengthening my luteal phase and increasing progesterone. As well as increasing cervical mucus and uterine lining. I read books (sometimes 2-3 times), I looked up lay articles, peer-reviewed articles, I listened to podcasts. I took notes. Whenever I saw a lot of crossover in my research I decided it was something worth trying.

Then, in September, I ovulated a little earlier day 16 or 17 with a 10 day luteal phase. So by this time, I am still pretty worried but it felt like maybe somethings I was trying were helping. Although there are varying definitions, a general one that I kept seeing was that Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) is an infertility issued defined by more than one luteal phase 11 days or shorter in a given year, and insufficient progesterone. At this point, I really wanted an infertility check up. But, I was now on MedQuest insurance, trying to switch providers, and waiting for all my records to be transferred from 3 different offices before they would schedule an appointment. So i really had no choice, but to believe my self-diagnosis with luteal phases problems, possible progesterone problems, scared my uterine lining was insufficient as well. Furthermore, I read in a scientific article that LPD only occurs in 3% of women my age. Great.

So I continued my investigative mission. I read more. I changed several things in my daily routine, diet, psyche, After really ramping up my fertility routines with dogmatic behavior and lots of supplements, finally in October I tested positive for ovulation on day 14. Meaning in my 26 day cycled I’d have at least 12 days luteal phase. Enough to have successful implantation, if my uterine lining was thick enough and hormones balanced enough.

Basically, I’m sharing this personal story to set the stage for why I sought the answers and went after the possible solutions I did. So for you reading that don’t know me, as I write this I am 13 weeks pregnant. I successfully conceived that last cycle in mid-October which still seems like a miracle to me given how messed up I thought my cycles were. Below my goal is to share with you everything I learned and believed to make a significnat impact. A lot of these things seems too basic to be true but I believe them to be soooooo important.

Now to the FERTILITY MUSTS! I call these MUSTS because I believe there are NECESSARY to put your mind and body into gear. After, I’ll talk about additional supplements I highly recommend and then other supplements and activities that I encourage.

While really all these things should be considered pre-conception. Before you start trying, these first 2 steps I recommend immediately if you’re even close to thinking about having a baby.

Stop hormonal birth control

As soon as you start to think you MAY want to conceive you should stop hormonal birth control. Duh. It is anti-fertility . During my quest for knowledge I listened to several podcasts on the show Fertility Friday by Lisa Briden, Author of “The Fifth Vital Sign“. There was a plethora of information on fertility and she is especially passionate about coming off of birth control. I hadn’t been on birth control since I was 20 so I skipped this research but there is a lot of information you should learn about. Hormonal birth control of course mixes up your hormones but it also nutritionally depletes you. Do your homework!

Track your menstrual cycle in detail

A second immensely important pre-conception step – Understand your body, your menstrual cycles, your hormones. Empower yourself and learn about how your amazing system works. “Taking Charge of your Fertility“is the best book I came across for this. I read it 4 times. You should start tracking your cycle before you think you want to conceive. There are a few important points here that are worth mentioning. The easiest way to track is with an smart phone app. But there are definite downside to that. I used an app and falsely believed for 6 months that I was within my “fertile window”. The app doesn’t account for how all women’s bodies are different and relies on the “rhythm” method that cycles are predictable and stable. You can also download paper charts, I always intended to try that but it just wasn’t practical for me.

  • The first day of your period is the first day of significant bleeding. If you are spotting before your period (or any time) note this in your chart or app. But do not count it as the first day of your period. If you are spotting for more than 1-2 days before your significant bleeding, this could be a sign that progesterone is low. You body wants to shed the uterine lining too soon. This was what I was experiencing in the few cycles I tracked in detail. I’d spot for at least 2 days and on top of that my luteal phase was short. So I started to assume I was having a progesterone problem. More on that later.
  • Mark how long your period lasts. If you period is too heavy and too long or too light and too short this could also clue you into potential difficulties. I noticed that my period was only lasting 2-3 days. So again, I thought crap! Maybe I don’t have enough uterine lining. Maybe it is thin, maybe (in the eye of Chinese medicine) I was blood deficient, meaning I didn’t have enough BLOOD and needed to build my blood. Of course, more on that later.
  • Take note of your cervical mucus starting around day 10 of your cycle. Pay attention to your underwear, when you use the toilet, when you wipe, the vaginal sensation (dry/sticky/clear/egg white/wet/lubricative). Sperm need cervical mucus. Your PEAK ovulation day is the last day you experience fertile quality mucus (slippery, clear, stretchy, egg white) OR have wet lubricative vaginal sensation. Again the Fertility Friday podcast and of course Lisa’s book are easy ways to learn more about how to track your cycles. But the holy grail of books on this subject with a LOT of instruction on how to track your cycles, determine when you are fertile and troubleshoot is “Taking Charge of Your Fertility“.
  • At least for a few months track your ovulation using ovulation tests. There are a lot of tests out there. Big range in prices. I opted for a test kit of 20 strip from CVS, generic brand for about $20. This allowed me to track starting on day 8 up to the beginning of my period if I needed. Or 2x a day if I really wanted. Sometimes the kits with just 5 or 7 may not be enough if your cycle is very irregular. The generic “cheap” one’s I chose shows 2 dark pink lines when you are ovulating similar to pregnancy test. For some people this may be too ambiguous. The line gets darker and darker as your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels rise.
  • I’ll admit I was confused several times because I would test positive 3 days in a row. And there was little literature out there about this. Basically, I chalked it up to catching the LH rise, peak and descent. The Glow app actually lets you take a picture of the strips and analyzes them for you. While this is kinda of amusing it can also falsely predict when you are ovulating. I noticed if it was a slightly lighter shade it would automatically mess up my predictions for ovulation and future periods. So I had to figure out how to turn off the predictions on my app. Basically with me, my ovulation days changed over the 3 months I tracked, but my period always came “on time”. Meaning my luteal phases wasn’t stable. (It is supposed to be in most fertile women). It is the follicular phase that more commonly varies. Again, if you have no idea what I’m talking about check out the book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” from the library. Or just buy it. I ended up borrowing it 3 times over 1 year and lending it out to friends.

Keeping your stress in check makes your body feel safe enough to conceive.

I honestly don’t have too much to say about this other than it is really important! If you are in fight and flight mode, your body is not going to allow you to take on the extra added stress of building a baby inside of you. You body will naturally try to reserve everything it has for your body. Not procreation. Learn how to manage your stress. We’ve all heard it before but exercise, sleep, fun, eating well, relaxing activities, getting toxins and toxic relationships, situations etc. out of your life is a must. For me, I actually started seeing a therapist on facetime. He helped me focus on my goal (having a baby), worked with me to relieve my stresses in a practical manner (fix my house to make it baby ready, examine my finances and my relationships with others and myself). We focused on real-time things I could do to feel better and not worry without diving into my childhood trauma or poor adult decisions.

The next portion are my MUSTS when your trying to conceive (TTC).

Getting 8 hours + of sleep in a completely dark room

Your body needs sleep to produce hormones at the correct levels. Without sleep, your hormones are imbalanced, without balanced hormones, you cannot sustain life in the uterus. Not just any sleep, here are some important sleep guidelines:

a) you need deep restful sleep with an average of at least 8 hours. Ideally your in bed by 9 or 10 at night, rising with the sun in the morning.

b) Practice good sleep hygiene. Stop using electronics at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed to keep your eyes away from the bluelight which disrupt your circadian rhythm.

c) Keep your iphone, ipad etc. out of the bedroom or at least on airplane mode while you get ready for bed and sleep. Years ago I thought this was silly, then, I starting thinking its probably not a bad thing. But when I got serious about getting pregnant, I got serious about EMFs. No phone after 9 or before 6. Especially not in bed. I even put our wifi router on a timed outlet to turn off at 10pm and on at 6am to at least have part of the day free from some EMFs. You can read more about EMFs in this article on EMFs and TTC.

d) For me I think it made a huge difference to sleep in complete darkness! Black out curtains all the way. It took a lot of convincing my husband that it was essential because he doesn’t care for curtains and like the fresh breeze of an open window. But of all the things I changed to increase fertility I really feel like this one had a huge impact. This is because the hormone melatonin has an impact on your fertility, egg quality, and fetal development. In fact there is darkness/light therapy that systematically exposes women to darkness or light at certain phases of their cycles to improve cycle irregularities. I specifically became dogmatic about my sleeping in the dark routine because I read about how successful it is at increasing the luteal phase length. Here is a good podcast episode on Fertility Friday interviewing Joy De Felice about the important of light on the menstrual cycle.

Get regular exercise, but not too strenuous.

Now, again this has to do with stress. Exercise helps relieve stress but, if your body is under a lot of stress it will use its reserves for you, not for conception. If you are used to strenuous training, long distance running, etc., then continuing with the same exercise should be fine. But if you are just starting to try to conceive, starting a diet and a strict intense work-out routine may not be the best bet. Continuing with your current level of activity, and adding gentle strength training and walks, yoga, etc. Another fact I re-learned, is that you need enough body fat to produce hormones at correct levels. In my research I found some conflicting numbers for ideal body fat levels for conception, but 17%-19% body fat being at the low end of what experts considered ideal. Of course they always admitted that everyone’s body’s are different), which explain why gorgeous thin women have the cutest baby bumps.

To have more “fertility points” I realized I had to be ok with keeping on the extra pounds. This one was hard for me. I’ve always had body image issues, wanting to weigh and look a certain way, but not always attaining that in balance. But this past fall, I was definitely packing some extra pounds from my Covid world of decreased activity. I really wanted to lose 5-10 pounds, but because of my research on the subject I just left myself stay a little fluffy and kept those extra pounds. So I would consider your diet and workout goals if what I am saying resonates with you. I’m in the “normal weight/BMI” category and can only speak for myself. But, I realized starting a intense workout regime is not the condition my body would perceive as safe to grow a baby. Even though I felt chubby, my impedance body weight scale told me that at 132 pounds, 5″5″, my body fat was 17%. So I decided it was not the time to diet and try to loose weight. Instead I focused on getting my 15,000 steps a day, learning yoga and eating healthy.

Nutrition is really important.

First off, detoxing from conventional foods is important. I recommend a wholefoods diet, organic as much as possible, that is low in refined grains and sugars and high in vegetables, protein, and fat. One really big change that I made however, was from switching from a Western Diet culture view of raw fruits and vegetables, salads, low fat, low carb; to a Eastern Diet cultural view point. This was specifically focused on building my blood, in case my uterine lining was too thin, and balancing my hormones. In Eastern medicine, warm meals unlock the nutrients, as opposed to big cold salads, smoothies and raw vegetables. Also, animal fats are highly valued in moderation for providing the building blocks for hormone production. So I went off the Purium lifestyle diet style of shakes and salads, and endless cucumbers and celery and starting incorporating more cooked meals, warms soups, animals fats instead of shying away from them in choice of “healthier” alternatives. A few types of foods I included to specifically build my blood:

  • dark green leafy veggies
  • dark red and black foods like beets, molasses, prunes, berries, cherries, purple kale, purple bok choy, anything dark!
  • Probiotics in pill form as well as sauerkraut and kefir
  • Fats: butter,eggs, avocado, coconut
  • Proteins: red meat, fish, beans, eggs, lentils, organ meats (think Pate)
  • Other boosters: Bone broth, Bone Broth Powder, apricots, raisins, almonds, black sesame, dates, maca, chia, Bee Pollen

Also, it is important to decrease caffeine intake (yes, I’m 35 and I switched to decaf) and alcohol intake. This was hard because I really like beer and wine but really important to balancing hormones and replacing those “empty” calories with nutrition.

My top fertility supplements

I do really believe you need to have the previously listed things in check before you even think that supplements will “fix” your cycles. But hell, I went for all of it all at the same time. Tick Tock Tick Tock.

The NUMBER 1 supplement I believed helped me get pregnant and lengthen my cycles is VITEX.

Chaste Tree berry. Every book, and every major article I read about fertility and short cycles, short luteal phases, fertility issues recommended vitex. Check out this article on the benefits of vitex on fertility. There is a lots of research on vitex – keep googling and be inspired. Vitex is known for regulating cycles, lengthening luteal phases, increasing progesterone production, and many more things.

The only thing I will say is that after 1.5 months on vitex I got pregnant. Yay! And I’m assuming it helped with my progesterone BUT because of this I was unsure if I should continue or stop it. Like everything else in pregnancy, it was not proven to be safe for pregnancy itself. The morning I took my pregnancy test, at 5 am alone in the dark, then popped my vitex, and then got a positive. And then I freaked out, looked it it up online for safety during pregnancy and tried to make myself vomit the pill up. Then I relaxed, convinced myself it wasn’t going to harm me or baby. But it was still really hard to get answers. The first OBGYN I saw had no idea what it was. The next midwife neither. And there were horror stories online forums of women who stopped vitex abruptly and miscarried. So I opted to slowly wean my self off it. Taking 1/2 pill a day. Then finally I spoke to the midwife who will probably deliver my baby and with confidence she told me to wean myself off as I had planned. 1/2 pill a day for a few weeks, then 1/2 pill every other day another few weeks , then 1/2 pill every 3 days etc. up until 12 weeks when the placenta takes over hormone production.

A few notes about Vitex. There’s different ways to take it. Some say during just the luteal phase. Others say from the end of your period to the first day of your next period (taking a break during your bleeding so that your body doesn’t get too used to it). Yet others take it all month long. They also say to start taking it before you try to conceive. And that you should know in 6 months if it is working. If you still want to keep taking it, they say to take a month off. It is a powerful herb. Obviously it is best to take under the guidance of a doctor/naturopath who knows what they’re doing. I choose to take it during my whole cycle except for 4-5 days during my period.

Ok – more to come. I have lots of other really beneficial supplements to try and a lot of editing to do.

Posted on 1 Comment

Double chocolate chip bean cookies with macadamia nuts and banana

Yum! My husband is always lovingly calling me cookie, talking about cookies but when it comes down to me making cookies, he won’t really stand for the traditional cookie recipe. Mostly, the large amounts of butter and sugar that make him feel “dirty” when he eats more than 2 at a time. This double chocolate chip bean cookie recipe is so delicious and is packed with nutritious ingredients that is almost more dangerous because you almost feel like you can eat them for dinner.

Dessert for dinner?

Desserts almost so healthy you can have them for dinner.

In fact, lately we have been having dessert for dinner. Over the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years 2020) this was our schedule: Later than normal healthy standard egg breakfast, mid-day green smoothie, “early” large holiday dinner at around 2pm or so. And then generous helping of our alternative, or “healthy” desserts. On Thanksgiving I made an apple pie with coconut oil crust and and maple syrup apple filling. Christmas Eve, this double chocolate chip bean cookie recipe, Christmas Day we made a blackberry and apple bar/crumble with a oat/yogurt crust and a oat cinnamon crumble on top. And for New Years, another bean experiment, a twist on my beet brownies meets this double chocolate chip recipe — double chocolate beet bean brownies. YUM! Can we repeat the holidays please!

Just kidding, as I write this is it New Year’s day morning 2021!! FINALLY! Sipping my cup of decaf coffee I am trying to focus on forgetting about the holiday sugar rush where I used an entire jug of organic maple syrup within approx one month and those 3 desserts. But hey!!! Maple syrup has trace minerals and its delicious!

Really though, my holiday dessert recipes we all on the “less sweet side” and if I felt like the batter still wasn’t sweet enough, I added drops of stevia. Which I’m sure helped sweeten them up more.

Anyways! These bean cookies are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert as long as you remember that as healthy as they are they still have a fair amount of sugar. Moderation (my arch-nemesis) is the key to feeling great about eating these. I started modeling this recipe on several existing bean cookie recipes, none of which included all the ingredients I wanted but this recipe by clean cuisine was the closest…

Double Chocolate Chip Bean Banana Cookies

These cookies are almost guilt free. Modified from traditional cookie recipes to include garbanzo beans, oats, bananas, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 48 cookies

Ingredients
  

Wet ingredients

  • 1⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 medium or large eggs
  • 2 15.5 oz cans garbanzo beans rinsed well
  • 2 medium bananas
  • cups coconut oil refined or virgin
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Dry ingredients

  • 2 cups instant oats
  • cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder

Added ingredients

  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • In a high speed blender pulse wet ingredients until smooth
  • In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well
  • Add in optional nuts and chocolate chips
  • For ease in baking drop by the spoonful on parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 12 on each sheet
  • Bake in preheated oven set to 350°F for 15-20 minutes until bottoms are starting to harden
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on Leave a comment

Traditional and Easy Beef Chili

This beef and bean chili gets better the longer it simmers and it is even better the next day, but if you are in a pinch it could be ready in as little as 45 minutes of stewing. It goes great served with rice or fresh homemade cornbread. I also love an excuse to use my homegrown green peppers, hot peppers and green onion.

I just found out I am borderline anemic, which is no surprise because probably about 50% of pregnant women are low in iron stores. So inevitably I have to go on iron supplements. But I am really hoping that I can put a little more effort into consciously increasing iron in my diet so I can reduce the amount of iron supplements, and thus those pesky side effects. (Yeah that one, the one that increased fiber helps with).

So, I bought some beef, rounded up some beans and made a big pot of chili. The heme iron from the beef and the non-heme iron from the beans will both have enhanced absorption from the vitamin C in the tomatoes. Just make sure not to put too much cheese on there because calcium inhibits iron absorption.

In a perfect world I would throw lots more veggies in here, green beans and kale and carrots and and and! But my husband would not tolerate such an nontraditional chili so — that’s why this one is simply called Traditional and Easy Beef Chili. Made with many ingredients you are likely to have on hand. Enjoy!

Traditional and Easy Beef Chili

This is a easy, traditional beef chili recipe sure to please any beef and bean lover.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef grass-fed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • ~14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ~14 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth or chicken, or veggie, whatever you have
  • 3 tbsp chili powder mix
  • 1 medium green onion
  • 2 cans kidney beans rinsed!, or black or pinto beans, or mixture
  • 1 small hot pepper or a few dashes of cayenne, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, optional of course!
  • 1 large green pepper chopped
  • 2 tsp salt or more to taste, start with 1 1/2 and taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • Brown beef, onion, garlic and 1 tbsp chili powder until beef is cooked through
  • Drain fat if there is excess
  • Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil
  • Turn to low-med heat and simmer 1-1½ hours stiring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to bottom.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve hot over rice with sour cream, green onion, cheese and avocado!
Keyword Beans, Big Island Beef
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on Leave a comment

Breadfruit Pancakes (Ulu pancakes)

Ripe breadfruit

In Hawaii, ulu is one of those food you should learn to love. This breadfruit pancake recipe is perfect for ripe ulu. Once picked breadfruit have a relatively short shelf life in their “green” or unripe state. After just a few days the flesh becomes mushy and soft and fragrant and sweet. Most recipes feature the green breadfruit as a starch like potato, ulu chips, fries, breadfruit flour, like a potato in soup, cooked in an imu until soft. However, fewer people choose to utilize the ripe breadfruit. I had a roomate that used to make a species of ripe ulu bread. While it was ok fresh and warm I liked it enough but, I found when it got cold I didnt care for it. It’s funny, according to my husband, the opposite is true for my breadfruit pancakes. He doesn’t like my ulu pancakes when they are fresh out of the pan. Instead he prefers them (if at all) when they are cold. I like them both ways. It guess, my point here is that ripe ulu can be somewhat of an acquired taste. It has a somewhat strange aftertaste that is pleasant if you decide that is it pleasant. Haha.

Breadfruit in Hawaii

Breadfruit not only grows easily here, can be found roadside, in gulches, and in tropic forests, but they are abundant. Each can produce 50-150 fruits a year that can range anywhere from 1-11 pounds. Some trees have even been noted as producing up to 700 fruits per year. So really, it is smart to have a small arsenal of ulu recipes for when your neighborhood tree starts going off. For a thorough history of breadfruit in Hawaii see this publication by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Nutrition at the University of Hawaii.

Tips for making breadfruit pancakes

I’ve been working on this breadfruit pancake recipe for a while. Originally, I made these without any added flour. But, they take a really long time to cook and a very very mushy still. So finally I’ve dialed in this recipe to include just a bit of cassava flour. Not tapioca starch, which is much more fine a gummy. Cassava flour is milled straight from shredded and dried cassava. That aside, you can use and flour you’d like. Just make sure you are familiar with how the flour reacts. For example, white rice flour is also very fine and a little gummy. This would have a total different effect that oat flour which is lighter and more airy. I also enjoy using eggs in this recipe for added protein and vitamins. But you could try using flax eggs to keep the recipe vegan.

Ulu Pancakes (Breadfruit Pancakes)

Delicious breadfruit pancakes recipe made with ripe breadfruit, eggs, spices. Can be make gluten-free and dairy free.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American, Hawaiian/Polynesian
Servings 12 pancakes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium-large Breadfruit (Ulu) Very soft & Ripe
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup milk, dairy free milk like almond works great
  • 1/2 cup cassava flour or any other flour of choice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • 1 splash vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder aluminum free!

Instructions
 

  • Scoop flesh out of ulu into blender (should be about 3 cups of gooey flesh). Look at your blender's measuring lines on the side. If its more or less you will want to adjust the milk and flour you add.
  • Add eggs, spices, milk, vanilla, baking powder to blender and blend until smooth
  • Remove batter from blender into medium bowl. Add Flour.
  • Heat large pan with coconut oil on medium or medium to low heat
  • Pour pancake batter into pan with heated oil. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.
  • Pancakes will be a little gooey but as long as they've cooked for about 6 minutes eggs should be cooked through.
Keyword Breadfruit, Breakfast, Dairy-free, Gluten-free flour, Pancakes, Ulu
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Posted on Leave a comment

Homemade fruit, nut & seeds snack crisps

Yum! These are so so easy to make especially in big batches. Just blend up a variety of fruit and nuts that you have at home in stock, add some oats and dehydrate. Below I give you my recipe specifically for the ones I first made but you can substitute until your heart is content.

Homemade fruit, nut and seed crisps

katiestropicalkitchen
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 18
Calories 142 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Soak the chia seeds in water, stirring occasionally
  • In a food processor, chop the apricots and almonds, add salt and the bone broth protein
  • In a blender add the chia seeds and then bananas and vanilla and stevia pulsing until bananas are well incorporated
  • In a large bowl, mix the wet with the dry.
  • Spread out on dehydrator sheets about 1/4-1/3 inch thick
  • Dehydrate on high 167°F for 12 hours

Nutrition

Calories: 142kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 6gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 25mgPotassium: 290mgFiber: 5gSugar: 11g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on Leave a comment

Baked Chicken Marinated Yogurt

This baked chicken marinated in yogurt garlic sauce is inspired by Greek cuisine and the fact that I have a lot of Greek yogurt in my fridge. Did you know strained Greek yogurt has 29 grams of protein in it? Compared to just around 10 grams for regular yogurt. I didn’t know until I was searching for recipe inspiration that yogurt is one of the only substances that actually tenderizes chicken breast.

I really like the idea of cooking with chicken breasts, but it is so hard to get it to actually be moist and tasty unless you a) cook it in a soup or a stew, b) bread it and bake it, c) smoother a sauce all over it after cooking. But simply marinating the breast in yogurt turns boring chicken breast 180 degrees around into a really pleasant dish on its own.

This baked chicken marinated in yogurt dish is perfect served with a side of pilaf, orzo salad, roasted vegetables drizzled in tahini lemon dressing.

chicken marinating in yogurt

Baked Chicken Marinated Yogurt Sauce

This is a Greek inspired recipe. I wouldn't exactly call it traditional Greek cuisine, but yogurt marinade with garlic and lemon is backbone of a lot of Greek grilled chicken recipes. I adapted this recipe for the oven and based on ingredients I have on hand.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4
Calories 239 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 – 1½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 small handful fresh parlsey chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh oregano chopped
  • 1/2 medium red pepper chopped

Instructions
 

Marinate the chicken

  • Slice 2 thick chicken breasts in half (butterfly style)
  • In a deep pan (like a bread pan works well, or bowl, add yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, chopped herbs, chopped pepper, salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss and refrigerate. You can marinate it as little as 20 minutes or as much as overnight.

Bake Chicken

  • Bake in oven (or even toaster oven/convection oven) at 375°F for about 30 minutes or until chicken has reached 165°F, or until when cut with a knife it no longer looks pink.

Notes

Serve with roasted vegetables drizzled with tahini lemon sauce and orzo pasta salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 1filleted breastCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 44gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 117mgPotassium: 457mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin C: 91mgIron: 8mg
Keyword Chicken, Yogurt
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on 1 Comment

Carrot & Pumpkin Breakfast Bars

Breakfast bars on a plate

My fall farm harvest inspired this recipe for healthy carrot & pumpkin breakfast bars. Shredded carrots and shredded coconut, along with homemade cassava flour, homegrown squash, and home grown raw macadamia nuts.

Jump to Recipe

Because it’s October and I made these tandem with healthy winter squash cheesecake, I went for the pumpkin spice theme. And, to be honest, I started out trying to make muffins. But after I made the batter, I noticed my muffin pan was rusted. All the better because my muffins are usually more like dense hearty bars anyways.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and/or gather inspiration for your own creations. OF course, you can use fresh ingredients, or canned squash, skip the cassava flour and use another favorite flour.

Breakfast Bars in Tuperware

Carrot and Pumpkin Breakfast Bars

katiestropicalkitchen
This recipe is inspired by my "fall" harvest on our Big Island farm. Tropical winter squash (curcubita moshata), garden carrots, fresh shredded coconuts, and freshly harvested raw macadamia nuts. I even used our homemade cassava flour.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Resting time 1 hr
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Tropical
Servings 15

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

Blend "wet ingredients"

  • Using a blender, standup mixer, hand mixer or immersion blender mix squash, coconut oil, maple syrup, eggs, salt, spices, baking powders and baking soda until uniformly blended.

Fold in remaining ingredients

  • Fold in oats and cassava flour
  • Fold in carrots and shredded coconut
  • Add optional nuts and raisen (chopped figs, dates, etc).

Bake in preheated oven

  • Bake in preheated oven at 375° F in large baking pan for 35-40 minutes
  • They are done when you smell them, the top starts to lightly brown. They will be a little soft inside. Cool on wire rack and refridgerate some, share some and vaccum seal some for later!
Keyword Cassava, coconut, macadamia nuts
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on Leave a comment

Healthy Winter Squash Cheesecake

Why is this winter squash cheesecake recipe healthy?

Ok – let’s cut right to the chase. This healthy winter squash cheesecake recipe, is labeled as such on my page because I use a combination of coconut oil and butter in the crust. (I know butter is good for you but it’s hard for me to use 6 tablespoons of it at once in a recipe, plus I have way more coconut oil than butter in my house).

I also use maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Maple syrup is much more rich in essential minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese) than sugar. And! coincidentally, I have much more maple syrup in my house than sugar (which is pretty much reserved for kombucha making at this point).

Lastly, this winter squash cheesecake recipe uses about 3/4 as much squash as cream cheese, compared to cheesecakes that are close to 100% cheese. Winter squash is an original super food, complete with carotenoids (like your favorite Beta-carotene), protein, Vitamin C & B6, fiber, magnesium and potassium. If I had had access to hippie graham crackers while making it I would have used those instead of Honey Maid – but hey! at least they boast no high fructose corn syrup. Maybe next time I’ll make my own cookies for a crust… (haha we will see).

ingredients for winter squash cheesecake

What if I don’t have a spring form pan?

Perfect! Then this recipe is for you. You can make cheesecake in any pan that has walls that you can safely put in the oven. I have A LOT of kitchen gadgets, but being sorta dairy and gluten sensitive, I still haven’t added in spring form pans (or even cake pans!) to my arsenal here in Hawai’i. But, Black Friday is just around the corner so maybe I’ll re-up my kitchen supplies.

Anyways, this recipe is pretty much cut in half from your traditional cheesecake recipe (you know, the thick slices with 2 inches above the crust that make you wonder why you ate dinner before dessert?) Well, in this recipe the slices are just as wide but they’re not as tall because I use a pie baking dish. I’ll admit I had a little extra filling (about 1/2 cup or so) so I made a little more crust and made an extra mini cheesecake so we could try it before I gave it to my friend for her birthday to share with her family. (Covid-era! and we cannot have her over for dinner, blow candles out!, etc.)

What is tropical winter squash?

Curcubita moschata grown on our farm.

The term tropical winter squash is not scientific. Really I mean Curcubita moschata, a species of winter squash that is more tolerant of heat and humidity, and pests than C. maxima or C. pepo Which of course explains why we can pretty much grow it here year round in Hawai’i as long as we give it the ideal circumstances for producing fruit.

The curcubita moschata varieties we like most have orange skin on the outside, are about small – medium and more oblong than round. This one pictured was the only one we’ve harvested from the farm this summer. I got the seeds to plant it from a winter squash we found at the farmers market that had my favorite characteristics mentions about. It is obvious but worth nothing – that this winter squash cheesecake shares a lot of similarities with its cousin pumpkin cheesecake.

Let’s jump to the cheese

Really I made this recipe because no other recipes combined everything I WANTED to use in a cheesecake recipe. So I mulled through many recipes, tried to get an idea of the ratios, portions, and just general vibe – until I sat down to write this one up. So if you enjoy a little bit of the healthy cooking but still want to keep things a bit “traditional” – I hope you find this recipes gives you a baseline for the possibilities out there.

This was actually the first cheesecake I’ve ever made by myself. Recently, I supervised an 11 year old who had a dream of making strawberry cheesecake. We used this recipe from Delish. It came out excellent to her standards – but I did learn a few things about how to be more specific in writing the recipe, how to crush the graham crackers (in a food processor not by hand!), and how much batter would fill the pan appropriately. For this winter squash cheesecale recipe I also based my proportions around the Delish recipe a bit.

If you have a lot of winter squash to use, you may also like my ginger & squash beef stew recipe, my winter squash bisque recipe, coconut, red pepper and squash soup, OR my farm fresh breakfast bars recipe (coming soon!).

Tropical Winter Squash Cheesecake

This "healthy" recipe is for a small cheesecake (that has about 3/4 of a inch of filling) – I made in a pie pan but cake pans would work too if you're not worries about presentation. I use more coconut oil than butter in the crust, maple syrup instead of sugar, and of course, part of the filling is homegrown tropical winter squash.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting time 4 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 395 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the crust

  • 9 whole graham crackers about 1 package of the Honey Crisp (or most standard packages).
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the filling

  • 12 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup winter squash puree
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup+ maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp flour (optional – I did this just incase the squash and maple syrup loosened the batter too much)

Instructions
 

For the crust

  • Melt butter and coconut oil
  • Break up the crackers roughly and add them to your food processor and pulse until mostly chopped
  • Add coconut oil, butter, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon and pulse until combined.
  • Press into the bottom of the dish your are using.

For the squash cheesecake filling

  • Beat the cream cheese, sour cream and maple syrup until combined
  • Add the squash and beat until thoroughly mixed
  • Add the eggs and spices and mix until mixture looks fluffy
  • Finally add tablespoon of flour and mix just a little more.
  • Pour over crust until just barely to the top of your pie pan (or use up all of it if you are using spring form or cake pan.
  • Baking in an oven preheated to 325°F for 30-40 minutes until all but the very center is cooked (the center should be a little jiggly).
  • Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Finish cooling in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or over night.
  • Top with pretty garnishes! (chopped nuts, caramelized chopped nuts, toasted coconut, cinnamon, whipped cream etc.)

Nutrition

Serving: 8slicesCalories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 6gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 317mgPotassium: 99mgFiber: 1gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 350IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 310mgIron: 1.62mg
Keyword Squash
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Posted on 1 Comment

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

This is gonna be a quickie post – because the hardest part about this Sweet and Sour Red cabbage recipe is growing the cabbage. It takes MONTHS! But when they finally are ready they are a glorious dark purple. So why do they call it red cabbage??!

But seriously, I fell in love with German red cabbage side dish while in germany in my early 20s. And have never forgotten how satisfying it is. This summer we were lucky enough to successfully grow many many red cabbages. They have an excellent shelf life. I always mean to steam or cook them some other way (as my husband prefers) but really they don’t ever make it to another culinary treat because I am obsessed with this dish. I can eat an entire bowl of it.

Enjoy this simple recipe. You can tweak by adding a different kind of sweetener, or by adding more. I keep it really light to encourage my husband to eat it because he dislikes sugary things.

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

This recipe is similar to German Cabbage, except it is stripped down to make it a bit healthier, less sweet, and with less spices. But it is elegantly delicious!
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Servings 8 cups
Calories 139 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • This recipe is very simple. Prepare all ingredients. Add to medium/large pot.
  • Bring to boil (this happens quickly because it has little liquid)
  • Then bring to simmer for about 2 hours stirring a few times during the cooking.
  • Enjoy warm or cool as a side dish or addition to other recipes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 80mgPotassium: 732mgFiber: 6gSugar: 13gVitamin C: 243mgCalcium: 160mgIron: 1.82mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!