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Category: Food

AIP Diet for Alopecia.


I have Alopecia and currently, I’m bald. I have been for around two months now.

I’ve been eating gluten-free for years now from the advice of a doctor due to how gluten can affect our autoimmune system. All these years eating GF and I’m still bald.

I developed a nasty lactose intolerance around two years ago now and had to cut out my much loved dairy. Nearly two years of gluten and lactose free and I’m still bald.

Otherwise I’m pretty healthy. I get a little tired in the afternoons (but I’m a night owl so that can be expected). Sometimes my weight goes up and down, but only by a handful of kgs so it’s nothing I can really complain about.

A year or so ago I decided to quietly go full Paleo, and stuck to it for a good six months. I cut out all dairy (incl. lactose free options), gluten and grains. I felt amazing. My skin was clear, my weight stabilised and I had more energy all day – loosing my afternoon dip. The hair I had would still fall out, but remember noticing the everyday loss was less.

After a while the occasional GF treat snuck in. I went back to using Zymil in my coffee instead of a dairy free alternative. Then I needed an extra coffee in the day. Then my clothes got a bit tighter as I put on a few kilos.

I became complacent with what was really working for me. I would think that I had it all under control. I thought my body could handle the odd sweet. The odd treat that could be ‘good for me’ because it was ‘gluten free’.

I thought wrong.

I stopped being 100% Paleo and over the past six months I’ve become tired. My skin breaks out. My moods go up and down more, especially around ‘that time of the month’.

I was advised recently to start the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for my Alopecia. It’s like Paleo, but on steroids. Despite my additions to eating, I’m still gluten and grain Free. I’m still lactose intolerant. On top of that the AIP diet cuts out eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades.


I’ve had a hard time getting my head around it, and with some upcoming travel commitments I’ve started stressing myself out about what I might be able to eat while I’m away from home. How ridiculous is that? Stressing about something that may happen next week.

Did I mention that the main cause of Alopecia is stress? No? Well, it is.

I’ve also done a bit of research, and found that while the AIP diet works for a number of other autoimmune diseases, it hasn’t yet for Alopecia specifically. So after a lot of thought I’ve decided to put the AIP diet on hold for a while. I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life lately and I don’t think I can be completely committed to it. I haven’t made this decision lightly, I’ve given it a lot of thought and reflection and time.

But with the reflection, I have decided to go back to Paleo. Not 98% paleo, 100%. I know I feel great with that and my body works at it’s best and when I feel ready, I’ll try the AIP Diet.

I’ll be posting any new recipes over on my dedicated food blog Mix Taste Eat. Check it out and subscribe.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake


A while ago I wrote this post about an Olive Oil Cake that I made for a morning tea at a friends house. Actually, I just looked up that post and it was 6 years ago… Wow that’s nuts. My friend used to hold themed lunches, Indian, Italian, etc and I always offered to bring dessert. For the Italian Lunch I’d googled and googled till I stumbled upon this lovely Olive Oil Cake.

I’ve always remembered this cake and have made it a few times since. I’m a lover of good cake and this one is always hands down a winner. It’s light and lovely with a beautiful Olive Oil and Lemon flavour.

A side note to start with – the recipe calls for ‘Cake Flour’. For this I take a 1 Cup Measurement, put 1/4 of a cup of cornflour in the bottom then fill the rest of the cup measurement with plain flour = Cake Flour. Also, I always use Gluten Free flour and prefer it for baking as I find it makes cakes and desserts a little lighter in texture.

Also, I now make it in my Thermomix but here’s the traditional cooking method recipe:

Lemon Olive Oil Cake


  • 3/4 Cup Good Olive Oil
  • 1 Lge Lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Cup of Cake Flour (see above)
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar Plus an extra 1/2 Tbs of Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a round springform Cake Tin and set aside.
  2. Finely zest entire lemon and whisk the zest into the flour.
  3. Beat the yolks with an electric mixer with 1/2 Cup of the sugar on high until thick and pale. Reduce the speed and add 3/4 Cup of Oil and lemon Juice, beating till combined. (Mixture may appear separated – just keep going!)
  4. Hold in flour mixture till just combined.
  5. Whisk whites with the salt till foamy then slowly add the last 1/4 cup of sugar till soft peaks form. Gently fold into the yolk mixture.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and evenly sprinkle the extra 1/2 tablespoon of sugar over the top. Bake until golden, around 25 – 30 Minutes.


The Happy Cookbook Challenge – Week 18

I’m a little behind in posting about my The Happy Cookbook Challenge, but here’s a quick catch up on what I’ve been making….
Week 18 - a Week 18 - b Week 18 - c Week 18 - d If you don’t know what I’m on about, you can read about it here, but basically I challenged myself to cook all the recipes from a cookbook within a certain time frame.

At this point I’m 75 Recipes down, so out of 144 I have 69 left with 8 weeks before I reach the end date I originally set. Which would mean I’d have to make 8.6 recipes a week to be able to complete the challenge on time…. While I’d like to move the end date by a couple of weeks as I know we have a holiday coming up and reasons I won’t be at home, I’m going to keep it and see how much I can plough through by the time the original six months are up.

I will say though, loads of good recipes! I’m loving this book and am itching to get my hands on her new one but will wait till I’ve completed this challenge first. 🙂

I love love loved the Paleo Burger, Choc and Macadamia nut Brownies, Hot Cross Buns (Yay for Easter and an excuse to make them again!) and the Baked Pear Porridge (unfortunately I don’t think the porridge much liked me though… I’m going to try the porridge again with soaked Quinoa Flakes.) A few of the smoothies I’ve been a little ‘meh’ about but I keep going back to the first one I made – A Golden Goddess one with ginger and turmeric – soooooo good!

This week I’m going to make a few of the tea cakes for a morning tea tomorrow and am menu planning this afternoon to get organised to smash through as many more as I can. I love that a few of the ‘recipes’ I need to make are just simple smoothies and dressings which makes the 8.6 a week easier to complete.

If you’d like to follow my progress I post them as I make them over on my Instagram – @thestrandsofme

Happy Cooking!

Thermomix Valentines Day Menu

The older I get the more I realise that I should have gone into food straight from school, rather than complete a music degree that I’m not really using. Food has always been a love of mine and more and more that love seems to grow. Whether its cooking for others, helping people to learn more about food and how to cook healthy meals, sharing good food with friends or having a laugh over a good meal, food can make your day.

On Tuesday I ran a small cooking group at home, based around cooking a three course meal for a special occasion – Valentines Day is this Sunday so what better excuse? I’ve been doing these groups every month lately and am absouletly loving them. I aim to inspire people to cook more, to show them how easy it is to create healthy and flavourful meals quickly and easily at home. We use our Thermomix’s in my groups but more and more I’ve had attendees who are non-Thermomix owners who come just to cook something new as well.

I created a simple Thermomix Valentines Day menu and run sheet and we dived in.


The recipes are Thermomix ones but easily adapted if you don’t yet have a Thermomix.

Entree is from our ‘In the Mix’ Cookbook by Dani Valent, Main is a variation of a recipe from the Thermomix Cookbook ‘Cooking for Me and You‘ and the Dessert is one of my Recipes from the Recipe Community. You can find the Chocolate Fondants Recipe Here.

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We all took turns making different aspects of the recipes then sat down and shared the together with a good laugh. All we were missing was the wine!

So go ahead – step out of your comfort zone and plan to cook something new. If you need to, do a practice run on a few friends before you cook it for Hubby. You never know how many Chocolate Fondants you can eat in one week!!

If you’re in Moranbah make sure you join our Facebook page – Mixing it in Moranbah – for more information about the next group!

School Snacks Cooking Group

As a way to further support my Thermomix customers (and any other Thermomix lovers where I live!) I’ve been running small Cooking Groups twice a month. I’ll pick a theme and create a menu and invite people over to have a great morning of cooking and then coffee! When we’re done we split the fruits of our labour and are able to take home a bit of each dish.

It’s kinda like the Mumma Bake idea, but on a smaller scale.

I love food, and started the groups as a way to inspire Thermomix owners to use their machines more, but the groups are growing and more non-owners are coming just to participate in cooking good food. I’m very excited about it all and am loving how inspired people are when they leave.

We started in November last year with a Basic Group (you know – tomato sauce, bread, peanut butter, a simple cake – a lot of things people intend on making when they first receive their Thermomix but sometimes don’t get around to) and last month with the impending start of a new school year I focused on School Snacks.

So I thought I’d share out to the wider community, and not just the small one where I live. Here’s a copy of the dishes we made and where you can source them. If you don’t have those specific cookbooks I’m sure there are plenty of variations on the Recipe Community or somewhere else on the net.

School Lunchbox Cooking Group Links

I love the Recipe Community for ideas but if you do a simple Google there are heaps of options out there for School Snacks. I know a few other websites and blogs ran some online cooking groups as well.

Be inspired and cook more good, healthy food!

I’m in the middle of organise a Valentine Day Dinner Group for February and will share how that goes after their run next week!

The Happy Cookbook Challenge – Weeks 4, 5, 6 & 7

Okay, so shoot. I’m a little behind in posting. But have been cooking like a madwoman, so that makes up for it, right? And if you follow me on Instagram you can see how much I have been making for my The Happy Cookbook Challenge, and know it’s just that I’m a slack poster.

Weeks 4 5 6 7

So here’s a list of what I’ve made:

  • Oven Baked Salmon Patties
  • Super Green Smoothie
  • Lemon Butter
  • Salted Almond Butter
  • Raw Caramel Butter
  • Sweet Potato and Quinoa Patties with Tahini Dressing
  • Vanilla and Blueberry Oaty Piklets
  • Zucchini Chicken Pasta with Basil Pesto
  • Pineapple Crumble with vegan Mint and Lime Ice-Cream
  • Apple and Mint Pancakes
  • Banana and Berry Bread
  • Fried Banana with Toasted Coconut and Nut Butter

I haven’t had Salmon patties in years. I used to work in a beautiful cafe that would serve them once a week, and people would line up at the door so they didn’t miss out! I know that recipe was different to the one in The Happy Cookbook so I’m planning on experimenting and making a Thermomix version of it to post for you.

The Butters are amazing, and nearly all the Raw Caramel has been eaten. With a spoon. Straight from the jar…..

I loved the Pineapple Crumble (and there’s some left in my fridge, guess what’s for lunch!) as well as the vegan Ice-Cream. What a great idea! Tastes much like a Raw Cheesecake, so good.

This week I’m going to menu plan the next few weeks to help me stay on top of my challenge, especially with Christmas just around the corner and a trip home to family coming up. Challenges are all in the planning!

28 Recipes Down, 117 to go.

*not sponsored, I just enjoy the challenge of making lots of good food!

The Happy Cookbook Challenge – Week 2

Week 2 of my The Happy Cookbook Challenge already! And another seven dishes down, only 133 to go.

I’ve found that I’m trying to make as many dishes as I can while I’m able to as I know that over the Christmas/New Year/School Holiday period I won’t be able to whip out as many. Holidays and celebrations and birthdays are a welcome distraction from the hustle and bustle of life, but cooking is always my escape. If I can get as many dishes done as I can, I definitely will.

This week I was able to seven though, so I’m happy!

Week 2 I made:

  • Chilli Beef Lettuce Cups (without much chilli as it doesn’t tend to agree with me)
  • Quirky Carrot Salad
  • Green Tea and Lime Raw Cake
  • Passionfruit and Lime Snowballs
  • Avocado, Mint and Lime Ice-Pops
  • Crunchy Paleo Granola (which I have been sneaking by the spoonful whenever I can!)
  • Golden Goddess Smoothie (topped with Cruncy Paleo Granola)

My favourite dishes this week were defiantly the smoothie and ice-creams, with how hot and humid it is here they’re a beautiful way to cool down. I love beef in lettuce cups so that was right down my alley and leftovers the next few days were the bomb.

If you’d like any recipes head out and grab your own copy of The Happy Cookbook*!

Here’s to another week of cooking! I already have a dish done and in the fridge (waiting patiently to be photographed!) and more to come.

Happy Cooking!

*not sponsored. 

The Happy Cookbook Challenge – Week 1

So, by now you might have read about my new cookbook challenge with Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook. I’m one week down already! How fast did that go!?

Last week I worked out that if I make 6 recipes a week I can have the challenge done by April 25th, six months away. So with that deadline in mind, I got to cooking.

This week I’ve made:

  • Avocado Bowls
  • Chicken and Quinoa Super Bowl with Chimmichurri Dressing (Yum!!)
  • Coconut Toasted Almonds
  • Epic Pumpkin Pie Pancakes for Halloween
  • Chai-Spiced Carob Balls
  • Nutella Balls. (dangerous!)
  • Poached Chicken with Maple Roasted Pumpkin, Feta and Pepitas.

The Poached Chicken dinner is hands down my favourite so far, and Hubby’s too! He actually went so far as to say it’s the best thing I’ve ever made! I don’t know about best, but I’ll take the compliment where it’s given! The Avo Bowls were so quick and easy and such a lovely light side dish for summer, they’ll be made a lot.

And Nutella Balls. Seriously. They didn’t even last a day….

Week 1

I made some of these recipes using my Thermomix for ease, the balls for example is just a matter of throwing all the ingredients in and Turbo-ing a few times, or letting them blitz till they’re the right consistency. Poaching the chicken and quinoa in the machines and I made the mix for the pancakes in about 30 seconds, so nice and easy cooking.

I just tried to see if any of these recipes are available on her website but couldn’t see them (or a search function) so if you want them you’ll have to head out and buy the book!*

I haven’t done my menu planning this week yet but will be getting stuck into a few more. I have managed to pick up the ingredients for some over the weekend so they’ll be getting whipped up soon! If you’d like to follow my progress I’m posting the recipes on my Instagram account – @TheStrandsOfMe

So that’s The Happy Cookbook Challenge – Week 1 down! 138 Recipes to go!

*not sponsored. I just like good food!

The Happy Cookbook Challenge

I’m a goal driven person. Set me a challenge and I’m all in, guns blazing, and ready to go! I love the drive that comes with crossing off steps to reach the new goal, then the thrill that you feel when it’s all done. The pride and absolute sense of achievement is something I thrive on.

I’ve been reflecting on cookbooks and the previous cookbook challenge I set myself – to make all the recipes from Donna Hay’s Seasons Cookbook – and while that challenge is long ended and for various reasons still unfinished, I’m ready for a new goal to reach.

So, I decided on Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook for my next cookbook challenge.

A few reasons – I wasn’t able to complete the last one due to a few factors. I’ve become extremely lactose intolerant and am now unable to taste a lot of the leftover recipes. I live very remotely in Central Queensland and am unable to source a lot of the ingredients, like fresh seafood. However, I was able to complete 150 of the 200 recipes in the book, so I’m pretty happy with that effort.

I chose The Happy Cookbook because the recipes are Dairy and Gluten free, which is how I cook now. I’ve already made quite a few of the recipes in the book (but will be remaking them as a part of the challenge) and I know they’re full of flavour and not too difficult for me. I will be using my Thermomix with the challenge and will blog about it along the way. And I’ll be able to source the ingredients locally or online.

No, I won’t be sharing the recipes from the book. There are copy-write laws against that. I can write about my method and how I found the challenge but if you’d like the recipes to make yourself, The Happy Cookbook can be found at all good bookstores. 

I’m hoping to be inspired to try new techniques, food that I don’t usually eat and to make more creations of my own in the kitchen.

So this evening I added up all the recipes and there’s 145 in total. If I give myself 6 months to make them all that’s 6 recipes a week. Some are smoothies, some are salad dressings.

Many are desserts, that’s okay with me.

The Happy Cookbook Challenge = 145 Recipes in 6 months. Before Monday April 25th.


Follow me on Instagram at Thestrandsofme and my Facebook Page to see how I’m going!

Cookbook Lover


I read a quote recently that said we only ever really cook around 6 recipes from a cookbook.

At first I balked at it and the whole ‘don’t believe everything you read on the internet’ came to mind. I am a cookbook lover through and through but when I sat and actually thought about it, it’s probably true.

You get your favourites, one that’s a little different, a couple of go-to’s and then the rest of the desirable recipes get shelved for another time.

After reading this I made a decision to make as much out of every new book I bought that I could. Lola Berry’s ‘The Happy Cookbook’ was my next purchase and I’m pretty sure I’ve made about a quarter of it already. And you know what, I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried.

Some I might not have made otherwise. They would have been shelved. But I’m a menu planner and making myself go out of my comfort zone really pushed me and I’ve learned new techniques and tastes.

And seriously, the Raw Caramel Butter is to die for!! 

Before Phoenix was born I challenged myself to cook every recipe from Donna Hay’s Season’s Cookbook and was blogging about it here. Out of the 200 odd recipes it holds, I made about 150 of them, so not bad going, but after reading the cookbook quote I realised I never actually completed that challenge. Going over the cookbook I can see that some things weren’t made as the produce wasn’t in season at the time I had spare, things are hard to source where I live (especially the fresh seafood), or I just don’t like to eat sardines. The majority of it was made though and I feel good about that.

I’d like to redo that challenge with a new book. Since the last one I’ve developed a pretty severe lactose intolerance and due to my Alopecia I don’t eat gluten, so something that doesn’t disagree with me would be idea, and Lola’s The Happy Cookbook comes to mind. I think over the next few days I’ll have a further flick though it and a few others I have to see what I come up with.

And now I’m more aware. A lot of work goes into a cookbook and I want to appreciate that work in my kitchen. With my tastebuds. All new cookbooks I have (and that’s always a lot!) get poured over, menu planned with and enjoyed throughly.

What’s the last cookbook you bought, and how many recipes did you make?