Happy Tuesday! Today I’m getting a bit more personal and sharing with you a glimpse into my sister Alina’s health story. It’s been a long, drawn-out journey for her and the family, and it’s something that’s really close to my heart.
I remember it all started 12 years ago when she started feeling an intense pressure and burning pain in her upper abdomen. It came on strong and was so intense she couldn’t stop sweating and found it hard to speak. Slowly the pain came back more and more often — first after certain meals, and then literally after everything she ate. She tried everything in her power to notice trends in what she was eating. Allergies? Something worse? Nothing seemed to make sense and no trends were noticed. We were stumped. She saw doctor after doctor and none could figure out what was causing her pain. Fast forward 9 (miserable) years for her and she was eating boiled chicken and oatmeal and the pain came every night. Finally a great doctor in NY discovered she had a gallbladder full of gallstones… and one the size of a golf ball. How a doctor didn’t figure out her everyday pain out beforehand is beyond me, but after her gallbladder removal surgery, she felt so much better. I still feel really frustrated that she had to endure 9 years of unnecessary pain. If someone you know is experiencing inexplicable upper abdomen pain (especially when they lay down or eat heavier foods), do me a favor and tell them to check out their gallbladder! Seriously — a few years ago my dad had to have his taken out and he fought the doctor to check his gallbladder because his pain felt exactly as Alina described hers. The doctor apologized, and my dad’s pain (which could have also lasted years) subsided immediately after the surgery.
As it turns out, that was just the beginning for Alina. Very, very long story short, gallbladder stones are very strongly linked to hypothyroidism and other gut issues. Her official diagnosis is an auto-immune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis where essentially her body doesn’t recognize her thyroid. It can cause daily disruptions such as panic attacks, unknown depression, feeling like her heart is beating out of her chest, inability to lose weight, and so, so much more. In addition, she recently (as in a month ago) discovered her intolerance to yeast. You can read her entire story here on her blog because she tells it so well, but in the meantime I’d love to share with you a recipe we created together that is yeast and gluten-free — and happens to taste exactly like Samoas! The richness of the chocolate, sweetness of coconut, and yummy crunchy consistency of the oats make this such a decadent, guilt-free dessert. Seriously, make these — they are fantastic and you’ll never have to feel guilty about eating a Samoa again. I’m already making my second batch today and it’s been less than a week. Super excited!
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup nuts (we used cashews)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup cacao nibs
Add nuts to food processor (we actually used a NutriBullet which grinded the nuts in 3 small pulses — crazy strong!).
Heat coconut oil in microwave until melted. Add coconut oil and rest of ingredients and mix together thoroughly until they begin to clump together. Using a tablespoon, roll together in quarter-sized balls and set on tray. FYI — they won’t fully come together until they’re in the fridge for an hour or so, so don’t worry too much about the consistency.
Refrigerate until the honey and coconut oil thicken/harden and enjoy! Make sure they stay in the refrigerator the whole time for best consistency!
P.S. In addition to her health issues and healthy recipes she posts surrounding them, Alina also has a grand passion for travel and a lot of fun travel stories she likes to share on her blog.