Zen Proverb: The Obstacle Is The Path
How much do you dislike your disease VS. how much it has the potential to bring joy to you
How much you dislike your life VS. the ability to transcend adversity by using it to your advantage
How we frame up our circumstances matters because you have the potential to draw more of what your thoughts contain into your life. Sometimes, it seems as though life must dismantle itself to be put back together in a new way so that more joy can be more present. Like getting fired and then finding your dream job, or your marriage dissolving and then finding a great partner, or suffering from a horrible illness that opens up your heart. And when we are dismantled for our benefit (like learning how to stand in our power, taking responsibility for our life, practicing forgiveness) it can feel very uncomfortable and even terrifying. We associate the feeling that comes along with our lives falling apart as some of the worst doom and gloom humans face. And allowing such processes requires trusting your life. I say this however, because I do this as my life's work and I am constantly mustering up the courage to continually choose it as I am suggesting you to do as well. But, what if I proposed that autoimmune disease (as well as all disease and suffering in life) is a divinely constructed path that drives us so tightly into a corner, that the only thing left to do is look up. And when we look up, we see the possibility of life, wonder and joy. Then it is easier to take the perspective that there may be some benefit to disease and what we perceive as adversity in our lives. Like the teacher you had in 3rd grade that was tough as nails, but taught with such care that you still recall her class lessons, I am proposing that we can use our disasters, heartbreak, adversity and suffering to lift ourselves to new heights and not only that, but I am proposing that is their sole purpose. And all that is required to lift ourselves is to love where you are right this minute. To go inside and switch the feeling of lack to love by feeling grateful about something. Start by loving something about yourself. Your generosity? Your compassion? Your courage? What in yourself can you start appreciating? That is the place to start. Right there. That can turn life around in a moment. I believe that is the first step in making illness work for you rather than against you.
I practice this belief daily. Recently, while in meditation, I reaffirmed trusting my life. Why would I want to do this? Well, I try quite hard to control how my life looks. Where I live, whom I am with, how my career unfolds. This is a lot of work however. It is exhausting. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and energy to manage our life, especially when we see it going in a direction we don't agree with. And yet I know from experience, that there is a deeper wisdom at play in my life that I can lean into that will do a better job than my mind possibly can to create a love filled life. The mind can't possibly know the joy of seeing a child born. Or our first kiss. Or when someone says they love you. Our hearts register that. And the same can be true for the entirety of our lives. I can use my mind to deal with the practical side like details, but for everything else I look to my heart. I already do this quite a bit, but now that I am moving (AGAIN! this time to Petaluma) and experiencing so many transitions in my life and heart, I decided to face the pain I was feeling head-on and give the car keys to the divine. That meant that I had to completely surrender what my life may look like as it unfolds, and trust the universe has the best laid plans that are 100% for my upliftment. That is a loving action, and because healing comes out of loving rather than our will for things to be a certain way I take this path to ease my suffering. My heart has been aching lately due to stepping into a bigger place in my life, and easing my suffering is a great motivator.
The only way I can describe what it feels like to surrender and trust my life, is akin to being on the fastest roller coaster in the world and unbuckling my seat belt and holding my arms up as I go down. Exhilarating, thrilling, scary, fun, joyous, terrifying. Giving the car keys to the divine means you don't know what is behind door #1. But, whatever is behind that door is the very best thing for your life when you align yourself with the philosophy of trusting what is present. And I wonder if you and your effort to manage your disease may benefit from this too. It may mean loving the cells inside of you that are attacking your tissue and organs. It may mean loving the antibodies. It may mean loving the SIBO. It may mean loving the inflammation. I know this could seem counter-intuitive. Would loving the very thing driving disease possibly make it bigger or more severe? I don't think so. In fact I am so sure loving is the most effective medicine we have, that my entire nutrition practice is rooted in this. I think the way out of illness is through appreciating and loving it. It is radical, I know. But loving is radical, and simple and available to you in infinite amounts right here and now. Free medicine. And boy do I love that concept.
Here 7 very useful tips to use your Illness For You:
1. Consider the approach: "Appreciate the Struggle." When you switch your mind-set to gratitude, life meets you with gratitude
2. Consider the path of loving your illness. Loving changes health
3. Use all challenges for lifting your life
4. Re-frame your illness to be an ally not an enemy
5. Illness can be a powerful teacher. Change your intentions to finding out what the teaching is rather than fighting your illness
6. Choose to not identify yourself by your illness. Instead define yourself by your loving toward it. Then life instantly becomes for you rather than against you
7. Loving, Appreciation and Gratitude can be powerful teachers disguised as illness. We can choose them in any moment, and they are the root of Self-Compassion and the fastest route to healing available
Now, on to Zucchini Cheese!!
I first discovered this recipe on Instagram. Haley Stobbs (you can follow her too on Instagram: ieatrealfood.recipes) came up with this wonderful creation and it has gotten some massive traction in the AIP world. For anyone missing the texture and flavor of cheese, this recipe is for you. In my version I used splash of truffle oil and a big pinch of truffle salt, but she has come up with SO many variations and started a super fun movement on Instagram. She is kindly allowing me to share this recipe with you. Be sure to bookmark her website that is launching soon www.ieatrealfood.recipes as well. Her style is amazing.
Hayley is a Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner (RNCP), and is a registered member of the international Organization of Nutritional Consultants (IONC). She is currently a full-time student studying Traditional Chinese Medicine in Victoria at Pacific Rim College.
At the very bottom of the post is the Zucchini Cheese Recipe Card. Below are more detailed directions from Hayley!
Zucchini Cheese Recipe
If you are dairy-free, have a big ‘ol garden zucchini, or are working to include vegetable diversity into your meals, then this recipe is for you. Simple and nutritious, ingredients list to a total of five to eight whole foods. Creamy with a hint of ‘mozza cheese’, zucchini cheese may very well become your favorite new healthy staple as a snack, topper, or side.
Heath Benefits of zucchini:
- Cooling and refreshing
- Helpful for water retention
- Mineralizing: copper, manganese, magnesium
- Good source of vitamin C
- Improves energy circulation
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 – 8 minutes
Makes: Desired amount of squares or shapes, as set in a pan or molds as directed below
Zucchini Cheese -- Thin Squares –set in a 8X8 inch pan
1 cup zucchini or summer squash (green or yellow skin), approximately 1 medium, *peeled* and sliced or diced
¼ cup water, for steaming and to drain afterwards
1 tablespoon coconut oil, red palm oil, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), or cultured ghee
½ - 1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ - 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional (Note: Nutritional Yeast is NOT AIP)
1/3 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 ½ - 2 tablespoon Great Lakes gelatin
1 probiotic capsule, optional
Zucchini Cheese Cubes – Recipe above to be set in a bread pan
Zucchini Cheese – Large batch of thin squares – 8X11 inch cookie sheet
2 cups zucchini or summer squash, approximately 3 medium-large zucchini, *peeled* and sliced or diced
1/2 cup water, for steaming and to drain afterwards
2 tablespoons coconut oil, red palm oil, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), or cultured ghee
1 - 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional (Note: Nutritional Yeast is NOT AIP)
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2/3 - 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
3 ½ - 4 tablespoons Great Lakes gelatin
1 probiotic capsule, optional
Zucchini Cheese Block – fills approximately half of a bread pan
3/4 cup carrot, about 1 medium carrot, fine diced
*carrot is used for cheddar color
3 cup zucchini or summer squash, about 2 medium zucchini, *peeled* and sliced
¾ cup water, for steaming and to drain afterwards
4 tablespoons coconut oil, red palm oil, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), or cultured ghee
3 - 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional (Note: Nutritional Yeast is NOT AIP)
3 - 4 teaspoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 – 1 ½ sea salt, or to taste
7 - 8 tablespoons Great Lakes gelatin
1 probiotic capsule, optional
1. Line your required zucchini cheese pan with non-bleached parchment paper and bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add carrot and top with the peeled zucchini (or in the case of plain zucchini, just the zuc!). Cover and simmer on medium low heat for 5 – 8 minutes.
2. Drain off the water completely. You can save the water to sip or to cook with vegetables.
3. Add your veggies to a blender then add the oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, optional nutritional yeast, and sea salt. Blend on high speed. If you are using extra virgin olive oil, wait until your mixture has cooled slightly so that the heat does not oxidize or morph the structure of the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids.
4. With your blender set on low speed, sprinkle the gelatin into the mixture. Blend on high for one last whizz until smooth.
5. If you want to add probiotics to your ‘cheese’ wait for the mixture to cool so that it is no longer hot to touch in the blender. Add the probiotics and blend on low.
6. Pour onto your parchment paper lined pan and refrigerate over night or for at least three hours to set. Alternatively to speed things up you can freeze to set, for about an hour.
7. Cut into squares, cheese slice, dice, melt, or grate. Use on protein patty’s, with veggies, in salads, and use incorporated into snack plates.
8. Wrap and refrigerate, or store slices in an airtight container. For best flavor, consume within 10 days. Enjoy!
- Zucchini cheese as a snack: this recipe makes the perfect sweet-free and satiating snack for adults and kids. My friend @deannacarter (Instagram) regularly sets the ‘cheese’ in fun molds for her and her daughter to enjoy. Add to your child’s lunch box for nutritious variety throughout the week.
- Marble cheese block as inspired by @paleogirl (Instagram account): Resume to make a cheese block as directed by the recipe above with turnip, cauliflower, or peeled zucchini. Pour into a bread pan and partially set in your freezer, for approximately 20 minutes. Steam one cup of carrots with ½ cup water for 10 minutes, drain, then transfer to a blender with two tablespoons of oil, one and a half tablespoons gelatin powder, and sea salt. Blend carrots until smooth then use a spoon or fork to drizzle into the bread pan mixture. Resume to freeze for another ½ hour to 45 minutes to set or refrigerate until hardened.
Does it actually taste like cheese? If you are a cheese connoisseur or particularly love cheese and eat it daily, then you will most likely think that it does not taste like cheese however may eat it as a cleansing substitute or vegetable pate, and a good one at that. On the contrary, if you eat cheese rarely or not at all, and if you like to try new things, you will agree with me, and those who have tried the recipe that it tastes similar to mozza cheese.
Does it actually melt? Yes! Zucchini cheese will melt if you put it on a warm protein patty or if you grate the block ‘cheese’ onto vegetables or a meatza and bake it in the oven. Warning: Over-melting occurs if your food is too hot or if you leave it in the oven for too long, which results in cheese sauce.
How did this recipe come along? I had been using Grass Fed gelatin (Great Lakes brand, red container), for various treats and savoury eats to add texture and nutrients to my meals. I was wanting to make a meatza with something cheese-like and it only seemed natural enough that a vegetable set with gelatin would create the most similar texture to cheese.
Can you use other vegetables? My first trial was done with turnip because that is what I had in my fridge. My second batch was created with zucchini – both vegetables worked well and tasted great. My IG friends have used cauliflower and even squash in replacement of zucchini. One of my recipes includes a mixture of zucchini and carrot to create the appearance of an orange cheese. You will have to experiment with different vegetables to see what you prefer most.
Do you use the red or green container of Great Lakes gelatin? Where do I buy it? If I’m from Canada what is a good alternative option? You can buy the red container from amazon or for best price at iherb.com. If you’re from Canada and do not want to pay duty fees you could try the brand ‘GoBio’ organic gelatin which is derived from pork and can be found at most local health food stores – just be sure not to buy the gelatin sheets.
What is a good gelatin substitute? Agar can be used for a vegetarian and vegan substitute, and for those who prefer not to use gelatin. The texture is not the same and I personally prefer the cheese set with gelatin. With this being said I still enjoy the agar version as well as a way to add variety to my meals. You can find an agar zucchini cheese recipe of dairy-free cheese, here http://bepaleoandthrive.blogspot.ca/2014/07/this-has-nothing-yet-everything-to-do.html
Why lemon juice? What is a good alternative? Lemon juice adds to the flavor without a noticeable ‘lemon’ taste. If you are sensitive to citrus you can swap this with apple cider vinegar.
Do you have to use nutritional yeast? What is nutritional yeast? You do not have to use nutritional yeast to create the cheese taste, though it does enhance the flavor since it naturally has a cheese-like taste. Nutritional Yeast is produced by culturing a yeast in a nutrient medium for several days. The primary ingredient in the growth medium is glucose, usually sourced from sugarcane or beet molasses. I have learned that since nutritional yeast is deactivated, it is not a problem for those who are experiencing candida overgrowth. Furthermore, this food is very nutrient rich: it is often fortified with B12 and iron, and is a source of fiber, amino acids, B vitamins, selenium, and potassium. ***Jessica's Note: Nutritional Yeast is NOT AIP :-)***
Do I have to use coconut oil? As coconut oil cools it assists in producing the desired texture with the myriad of listed ingredients, as well lends to the creaminess of the ‘cheese’. Other fats that assist in producing best texture and taste include ghee, red palm oil, and extra virgin olive oil – all of which completely or partially harden when refrigerated.
What do I do with the zucchini peels? Use them as green ‘noodles’ or cut them into small pieces to be incorporated into vegetable meals or soups. It’s not uncommon to make the zucchini cheese with the peels to create a ‘green cheese’ – this adds extra fiber and nutrients to the recipe. If you are using summer squash or yellow zucchini keep the peel to create an aesthetically pleasing yellow cheese – add a carrot while cooking and the color will turn orange.
- 1 cup zucchini or summer squash (green or yellow skin), approximately 1 medium, *peeled* and sliced or diced
- ¼ cup water, for steaming and to drain afterwards
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, red palm oil, EVOO, or ghee
- ½ - 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ - 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional (NOT AIP)
- 1/3 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1 ½ - 2 tablespoon Great Lakes gelatin
- 1 probiotic capsule, optional
- 1. Line your required zucchini cheese pan with non-bleached parchment paper and bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add carrot and top with the peeled zucchini (or in the case of plain zucchini, just the zuc!). Cover and simmer on medium low heat for 5 – 8 minutes.
- 2. Drain off the water completely. You can save the water to sip or to cook with vegetables.
- 3. Add your veggies to a blender then add the oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, optional nutritional yeast, and sea salt. Blend on high speed. If you are using extra virgin olive oil, wait until your mixture has cooled slightly so that the heat does not oxidize or morph the structure of the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- 4. With your blender set on low speed, sprinkle the gelatin into the mixture. Blend on high for one last whizz until smooth.
- 5. If you want to add probiotics to your ‘cheese’ wait for the mixture to cool so that it is no longer hot to touch in the blender. Add the probiotics and blend on low.
- 6. Pour onto your parchment paper lined pan and refrigerate over night or for at least three hours to set. Alternatively to speed things up you can freeze to set, for about an hour.
- 7. Cut into squares, cheese slice, dice, melt, or grate. Use on protein patty’s, with veggies, in salads, and use incorporated into snack plates.
- 8. Wrap and refrigerate, or store slices in an airtight container. For best flavor, consume within 10 days. Enjoy!