Friday Confessions – I May or May Not Have

It’s FRIDAY!

*Said in an extremely annoying voice*

If you can’t imagine that voice, just look at this picture and imagine it conveyed in voice form…

friday-pinterest

I haven’t done a Friday Confessions for some time now, but I figured that this would be the best opportunity to share what I may (or may not have) been doing recently.

1. I may or may not have… acquired a tiny sliver of the road rage that I’ve been chiding my mom about for years. People in cities are rude. People driving in cars in cities are CRAZY!

friday-road-rage

2. I may or may not have… laid back down one day this week after my alarm clock went off. 30 minutes later I woke up extremely worried that I slept in too long and would be late to work. Needless to say that won’t be happening again anytime soon (I hope).

friday-alarm-clock

3. I may or may not have… spent all of my break time today internet health diagnosing on the web. I basically typed in every symptom I had and scoured every single webpage that came up trying to figure what could possibly be going on with me.

friday-diagnosing

4. I may or may not be… extremely excited for Pretty Little Liars to return next week. I both love it and hate it at the same time— is that even possible?

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5. I may or may not have… an extreme book-buying obsession. Why oh why do I feel the need to buy more books when I already have so many unread ones at home?

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6. I may or may not have… not focused quite enough at the Memorial Day Parade on Monday. It was cold. So very very cold. And raining. How could I possibly focus when all I could think about was my frozen toes?!

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We look actually kind of happy here… That’s before the rain started!

7. I may or may not have… taken a grocery shopping break during my drive home last week. It took almost five hours, a full two hours longer than it’s supposed to. So about three hours in I stopped at Meijer to pick up some ripe bananas for snacking, a water bottle for drinking, and the Pitch Perfect CD for listening (since my radio has decided to play only two channels, none of which I listen to!).

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8. I may or may not have… enjoyed grading tests for my mom over the weekend. I love tests.

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9. I may or may not have… too many blogs in my bloglovin’. So many that I can’t possibly read them all in a day and comment on every single one of them.

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10. I may or may not be… way behind on commenting/replying on my own blog as well. Thanks again for being patient!

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I’m also planning on linking up to Meghan at Clean Eats Fast Feets with her Week in Review on Monday since this is basically my weekly confessions!

Week-In-Review-Button-Final

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Questions for you: What is your Friday confession? Do you have road rage? I still wouldn’t classify myself as having it, but when people cut me off it’s hard not to get mad. If I didn’t hover my foot over the brake at all times I’m not sure I would make it out alive each day. Seriously. Did you have bad traffic last weekend because of Memorial Day? Are there any shows that you are looking forward to this summer? Does anybody else have a book-buying problem like me? Do you want to form a support group? 

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A Bit of Randomness (Stomach Update + An Award!)

Thanks so much for everyone’s comments on my last WIAW: What You Need to Know About Your Produce. There was some great discussion and questions going on. Lots of learning all around!

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So today was supposed to be a good day (Thursday). Both of my classes were cancelled for tomorrow due to final exams next week, and I had the highly ambitious plan to pack up after my last class today and drive home for a three day weekend.

Then I had lunch.

Hold up. Let’s rewind a bit. So, I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping you all updated with how GAPS is going for me and what the status is on my stomach healing protocol. The main reason is that not much has changed. I am still only eating meat and a very minimal selection of vegetables. Soup is still on the menu for every meal of the day.

wiaw-chicken-veggie-soup-edited

Like I said last time though, I am better. My stomach is not always as bloated as it once was.

But that is about as far as the results have gone.

The biggest problem is that I just can’t tolerate probiotics. Not the pill form nor the naturally occurring probiotics that you find in food like sauerkraut. For awhile I thought that I might be able to, but then when I kept on getting worse I had to cut them out again. Recently I’ve been taking small amounts of beet kvass along with ox bile for fat digestion because that’s not going so well either.

A lot of words and not much to report. In past posts though I’ve held back a little bit with what my symptoms are. The main reason is because I don’t want to complain. I still don’t want to complain and I’m trying to keep this post as sarcastic-free as possible. However, I did say awhile back that I was going to be more honest and right now with my stomach feeling terrible (from the aformentioned quote of “And then I ate lunch.”), I guess there isn’t any better time than now.

I don’t know a good way to go about this so I am just going to ramble on a bit more. Here it goes, my symptoms for the breakdown: bloating caused by anything from no identifiable causes to perhaps eating too many vegetables or “too large” of meals (think of a full soup bowl as “too large”… 😦 ), stomach pain if my meals are “too large” or again from hidden causes, alternating extreme bowel issues (severe pain from either side of the spectrum that may last a few days on end and wake me up in the middle of the night), acid reflux/burning feeling, the feeling of a heavy stomach, nausea, trouble staying asleep occasionally, irregular periods now persisting for about 15 months (I think I’ve had maybe four since then with one induced by artificial hormones from an OBGYN…. never again!), brain fog and trouble concentrating (<< these have both decreased significantly though since eliminating my allergies), mood swings, stomach cramps….

I’m probably forgetting a few but these are the only ones that I can remember right now. On a good day I only experience a few of these things. However on an extremely bad day all of these symptoms may plague me.

That does not mean that I am giving up GAPS. I still believe that it is the only thing that is helping me right now stay away from everyday being an “extremely bad day.”

It was 15 months ago that all of my problems started. I’ve seen 2 GI doctors, an allergist, a pediatrician,  a chiropractor (my GAPS practitioner right now), a holistic nurse, and an OBGYN. I was prescribed multiple medicines by the first GI doctor, none of which worked. I had several blood tests run along with other common procedures like two ultrasounds and a colonoscopy/endoscopy (with mild gastritis diagnosis). I’ve taken dozens of supplements. I’ve eliminated about 90% of the food I used to eat including all of my allergens (wheat, rye, peanut, egg, dairy, tomato, celery).

I feel like I’ve done everything under the sun with still no answers. I feel like no one understands.

But that isn’t true, is it? There are many out there that have it worse off than me. They truly have no one around that understands or cares.

And that’s why I know that I’m not giving up. Not even close.

Actually, I have another possible test coming up soon and I’m going to schedule another GI appointment if nothing shows up with that.

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With that done I don’t really have anything left to say as far as my stomach goes. If you read through all of that above, I’m sorry because I think I failed at my attempt to not complain. I’m also sorry because more than once I probably provided you with too much information (And despite what some people may say, there is totally a thing such as TMI!).

I digress though, and not so subtly I will move onto another topic entirely.

Because that’s what I do. I randomize the heck out of my blog posts.

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I think the first half of my Friday post was a teensy bit depressing. Okay, maybe a lot. So to balance it all out, I’m going to share something super fun!

A survey! 

This actually came at the perfect time in my opinion because nothing can brighten a dreary day like a good old-fashioned survey. This survey comes from Holly at Eat Great Be Great who nominated me for the Liebster Award. I’ve already been nominated for this before; however, that’s not going to stop me from doing it again 😉 You can read more about the origins of this highly prestigious award on one of my previous posts.

In case you don’t click over though, these are the rules:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers (as best as you can tell based on the info provided!). They should be bloggers that you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer.
  6. Let all of the bloggers know that they’ve been nominated.  You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

#1 Completed above, but in case you haven’t already, go check out Holly’s blog! I dug around on her blog a bit today and discovered two awesome posts explaining the health benefits of avocado and ginger. Very informative.

#2 I would say that I shared way more than 11 random facts about me above so I will save myself from overstaying my welcome and just count those 🙂

#3- My favorite part- The Questions!

1. Are you a city girl or a country girl? I think I may have mentioned this on the blog before, but I am a total country girl. I live down a long gravel driveway surrounded by acres of cornfields, my backyard is comprised of a nice thick woods complete with creek, and in high school I was involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America). Also, my high school had drive your tractor to school day which is quite the sight to see and as a member of FFA we got to vote on the best ones!

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2. What’s your favorite movie? I really dislike this question as it is SO hard to pick a favorite. So instead I am going to just go with the last movie I watched- Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman. Loved it!

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3. What’s your favorite color? Pink.

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4. If you’re stranded on a desert island, what are your 3 MUST have items?

  • A flint striker to start a fire.
  • A knife to crack open all of those coconuts and dig into the gourmet fish that I would cook over the fire every night…
  • And a water filter. You may laugh, but try drinking sea water for days straight and see how you feel then!

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5. What’s your favorite food? Heh. I feel like because I haven’t had real food in so long I can cheat on this and list a few things: peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (bet you didn’t see that one coming…), bananas, baked sweet potatoes, and shrimp.

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(Source)

6. What’s your favorite destination vacation? Just in the United States I would love to go to California again. Globally though I think it would be so much fun to visit China- the fresh food, the culture, just everything about China fascinates me.

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7. Do you have any siblings? Yes. A younger brother.

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8. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, especially if we are talking cake and ice cream.

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(Source)

9. Who is the most important person in your life? Of course I would say my parents and brother. But I would also have to include my best friend who I just got off the phone with. A nice long phone call is just what I needed.

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10. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Morning person as in a perfect world I would be able to go to sleep at 9:00 every night.

liebster-early

11. What’s your favorite day of the week and why? Fridays. There is just so much promise for the weekend. I was always one of those people who preferred the long car rides before and after vacations more than the vacation itself. Weird. I know.

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#4: 11 Blogs That I Love (Yes I have already tagged most of you. However, this doesn’t make me feel guilty in the slighetst because I think you totally deserved this award AGAIN)-

  1. Meghan @ Clean Eats Fast Feets
  2. Meghan @ After the Ivy League
  3. Caitlin @ Chasing Chels
  4. Jessie @ Jessie Bear What Will You Wear
  5. Sarah @ Picky Runner
  6. Alex @ The Run Within
  7. Hannah @ Clean Eating Veggie Girl
  8. Olivia @ Liv Lives Life
  9. Claire @ Flake and Cake
  10. Anna @ Anna the Apple
  11. Rebecca @ Half-Baked Bec
  12. Edited to add Taylor…How could I forget this awesome new blogger @ Moves and Movies?
  13. If I didn’t nominate you, please do this anyways because you all deserve it!

#5: Now my list of questions… Muahaha!

  1. What time zone do you live in? Eastern Standard Time.
  2. Who is your favorite superhero? Batman.
  3. Is is hot or cold where you live now? Getting warmer!
  4. What is your favorite kind of chip? Sour Cream and Onion or Sour Cream and Cheddar.
  5. If you could invent a new kind of jelly bean flavor, what would it be? Peanut butter and jelly.
  6. Do you prefer swimming in the ocean or swimming in lakes? Ocean!
  7. What book have you reread the most times? The last Harry Potter installation.
  8. What is your dream car? A VW Bug.
  9. If you were given 1 million dollars right now, what kind of business would you start? An allergy-free bakery.
  10. If you could have a miniature version of any animal for a pet, what would you pick? I would want a mini elephant!
  11. What is your least favorite color? Red.

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Comment on anything you like! Answer one of the multiple questions above, or share a little bit of randomness!

And Before I Knew It the Clock Said 10:00 PM

Kind of a strange title, am I right?

Lately though, time has been something that I have been really paying attention to, especially the time that I go to bed. During my first semester of college in the Fall it was very common for me to wake up at 6:30 every morning and go to bed around 12:00 every night. At first I was ecstatic because I have never been one to stay up late and I felt like I was really getting into the “college experience” (even though I was staying up reading blogs and watching Hulu, NOT doing the normal college thing of drinking or partying).

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I didn’t even seem to feel the effects of it during the day either. Sure, I was a little tired, but who wouldn’t be in an unfamiliar place with a whole new set of things to learn?

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago how unhealthy this pattern was for me. I thought I was performing at my best, but boy was I wrong. Did you know that those who think they thrive on small amounts of sleep are actually just extremely sleep deprived? Yep, that’s right. When one goes a few nights without restful sleeps they become adjusted and may even feel the same. But their performance still suffers.

And do you want to know what the scariest part is? They don’t even realize it. To a sleep-deprived person, they feel just the same as before and think that they are performing at the exact same level as before.

Ever since listening to a podcast from Chris Kresser a little while ago I have been making an effort to get in more sleep, and my body can seriously tell the difference. Now I go to bed at 9:30 to 11:00 and wake up from 6:30 to 7:00. On a good night I get in about 9 hours of sleep, and on a bad night I get 7 1/2 hours. That difference from before is phenomenal. Overall I just feel better.

Going to bed earlier is certainly harder though. Here are a few things that I have found to help me.

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1. Keep electronics out of arms reach of your bed. Whenever I allow myself to take my cellphone or laptop to bed I waste a lot of time just mindlessly texting or browsing the internet. Our minds need time to rest before they can fall asleep so put the electronics away!

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2. Turn off all of the lights. As someone who has slept with a lamp or nightlight on since she was a baby, this was incredibly difficult to do. I tend to fall asleep better with a light on, but there have been numerous studies that connect sleeping with lights on to not getting as restful a night and maybe even causing cancer! Again, it took me a while to adjust but now I fall asleep just as quickly with my lights OFF.

friday-light

3. Keep a notepad by your bed to right down thoughts. Have you ever had those moments where you want to go to sleep but you just can’t because there are a million thoughts swirling around inside your head? That happens to me literally every night. A tip that I discovered years ago that really works is to write down everything that you are thinking about and everything that you need to do for tomorrow. That way when you wake up you can pick up where you left off, and you can fall asleep rest assured that you won’t forget anything important.

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4. Don’t eat before you go to bed. I still struggle with this one because if I don’t eat before I go to bed then I wake up in the morning with severe hunger pains. On the other hand, when I do eat before I go to bed I get incredibly strange and stressful dreams which cause me to wake up multiple times a night. I’m getting better, but I have yet to find a balance with this. Usually my goal is to eat at the latest 7:00 or 8:00.

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5. Try to fall asleep on your back. This is the healthiest position as determined by most doctors and chiropractors for digestion. Especially as someone like me who has problems with bloating and stomach pain, it can be much more comfortable to sleep on my stomach or side. However, when I wake up in the morning after laying on my back, my stomach is always less bloated than the night before and it doesn’t hurt quite so much. Sleeping on my stomach or side usually aggravates my symptoms.

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There are many interesting infographs on Pinterest about sleep that are very informative, so check them out!

Here is one that I found about the best sleep positions (spot on with #5 above!):

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Now. If you’ll excuse me, it’s my bedtime 🙂

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Questions to think about:

Do you ever struggle with getting a good night’s sleep? How many hours do you strive for?

Would you consider yourself a “night owl?”

What are some of your tips for getting a better night’s sleep?

Progress Update + Winter Squash Love (WIAW)

Alright, so I feel that an update is in order for you all. It has been awhile since I’ve talked about how the GAPS healing protocol is going for me. If you’ve directly asked in the comments, then I’ve answered honestly, but the whole thing just seemed too big to try and tackle during a post. But I’ve decided to just give you the highlights for now until any major improvements occur.

First of all I want to say that I feel much better. That is the most important thing to remember for me. However, there have been a few instances (about twice a week) where I seriously ask myself why I am doing this. This is when I have to step back and remember that those few instances used to be a daily occurrence for me. Now, I can happily say that there are days where I feel completely normal. Like, no problems whatsoever. And that is huge!

Now comes the second part. While I am feeling a lot better, I realize that is in part just because of the limited diet that I am eating. Even though it took awhile for me to feel good on this diet, arguably most people would be symptom-free while eating just meat, vegetables, broth and oils. Whenever I try to introduce a new food though, my symptoms come back. I can manage coconut oil in small amounts if I remember to take my ox bile (which helps me digest fats), and I removed olive oil two weeks back when I realized that bloating after eating should not be my “consequence” for getting in healthy fats.

Technically speaking I am still on Stage 1 of GAPS. I tried to go onto Stage 2, and that basically failed. Stage 2 involves slowly introducing egg yolks, soft boiled eggs, and casseroles. Remember my shepherd’s pie? Ya, stomach pain (not terrible, but not acceptable either). Now for the eggs… As you know, I’m “allergic” to eggs by scientific proof of an RAST blood allergy test. My GAPS doctor believes that this allergy has been caused by leaky gut, and may go away eventually when my stomach has healed. So, I tried introducing egg yolks and I think that went alright. No noticeable problems. This made me very excited and I went onto the next step of adding soft boiled eggs.

Big mistake.

About 10 minutes after I ate the egg I could tell by my stomach that something was wrong. It just felt off. By the time that I went to bed I was in severe pain. This lasted several hours and I barely slept a wink that night.

No eggs for me! (I may try introducing an egg yolk again to see how I react. Normally those with allergies are just allergic to the egg white).

Also, I think that I am having difficulties with the sauerkraut. Even at just 1/2 tsp a day, by the end of the week things are… Just not right.

Everything went well last week though, and the weekend was awesome. That is almost a full seven days of no stomach pain or problems, just a few hours on Sunday afternoon when I had some issues. If everything goes a-okay this week I’m going to take that as a sign to try and introduce something new. I’m thinking that will be small doses of a probiotic.

You see, even though I’m feeling great on this diet, that doesn’t mean I’m “healed” or on my way to healing entirely. It may just mean that I am now tolerating these foods. To really heal, I need to get to a maintenance dose of probiotic, which will help repopulate all of the gut flora that I lost on my four year stint with antibiotics for my acne.

Wish me luck.

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Now, as fun as that was to talk about, let’s move onto the real reason that you are probably reading this post today: What I Ate Wednesday.

As you remember from last week, this month’s theme for WIAW is Love Your Veggies Month.


This week, I want to focus on a vegetable that we all know and love: Winter Squash.

acorn-squash-whole

Here a few tidbits that I learned about this awesome vegetable (source):

  • We normally think of winter squash as being very starchy, and while about 50% of its carbohydrates are “starch-like” in composition, they are not the same as the starch carbohydrates normally associated with negative effects.
  • On the contrary, these carbohydrates have been found to be antioxidant in nature as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and insulin regulating.
  • The durable shells of these squash make them great for storing, anywhere from one week to six months.
  • It is suggested that you buy winter squash from an organic source whenever possible, because it is often used as an intercrop for contaminated soils.

In my normal fashion, I’m not going to share everything that I ate in an entire day because most of my meals repeat/consist of similar things. This week though, I want to change things up even more and share some of my favorite types of winter squash.

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I decided to make this in alphabetical order and table format, because ABCs and tables make life so much simpler (information source) (stock images from Google).

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Here are some of the ways that I like to use winter squash:

Butternut Squash and Beef Soup.

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Kabocha Squash and Chicken Soup.

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Spaghetti Squash and my Tomato-Free Meat Sauce.

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Butternut Squash on top of Shepherd’s Pie.

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And a new recipe to share!

Paleo Moussaka 

Adapted from Chocolate and Raspberries

Makes 6 servings

Nut-Free, Gluten/Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, High Protein, GAPS/Paleo Friendly

wiaw-trap-casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, cooked using my painless method
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • beef broth or water

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of beef broth or water to a boil and add the ground beef. Stir and break apart as it cooks.

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2. Meanwhile, after cooking and cooling the butternut squash, cut it in half and peel.

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3. Then take the seedless half that is not hollow and cut into round slices.

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4. Next peel (optional) and slice your zucchini.

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5. The beef should be done by now (break apart as it cooks). Remove the beef, and put the zucchini slices into the leftover broth/water. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

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6. Coat a 8×10 pan (8×8 or 9×9 would work too) with coconut oil.

7. If you had a large butternut squash, start with a layer of butternut rounds on the bottom. If not, evenly distribute half of the zucchini slices on the bottom of the pan.

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8. Next put down a layer of the entire pound of ground beef. Sprinkle with sea salt.

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9. Finish with a layer of zucchini slices, and the remaining butternut squash rounds.

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10. Sprinkle with additional sea salt and place in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

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Recipe note: You can make this vegan by using 2 cups of cooked lentils or meat substitute crumbles.

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Wowee that was a long post for this WIAW. I hope you all learned a lot about winter squash! I sure did. While I don’t have access to organic squash, I buy it whenever possible. No matter if I have organic or not though, I peel my squash to get rid of any pesticides or lingering hazards on the skin.

And, for a little sneak peak at a recipe that I’ll be sharing either tomorrow or Friday, here is a picture of my Pan Perfect Pancakes. Gluten/Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Nut-Free:

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Have you ever tried to reintroduce a food? What happened?

Did any of the facts about winter squash surprise you?

What is your favorite way to eat winter squash?

What is your favorite type of winter squash? Any recommendations? I’ve been wanting to try delicata squash forever, but none of my grocery stores around me carry it!