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Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, where we talk to wellness professionals from around the world to gain their insights into healthier living. I’m your host, Wes Malik. Our diet can play a very large role in battling many types of illnesses and diseases that we might face. One such person who did that is Erika Schlick. She's a health coach who found her way back to health while facing many tough health battles, including Lyme Disease, multiple autoimmune diseases, and a myriad of other conditions. Her unique story provides a valuable take on our current situation. And with our new change in lifestyle, it's easy to get out of our usual routines and difficult to maintain our fitness and health habits. Now with Erika's guidance, you can prevent becoming sedentary and stay motivated to maintain your health. She has her own healthy cookbook that includes 28 days of meals, and she offers great advice for how to live a healthy lifestyle. We have a lot of questions for her because she's a health coach, blogger and the author of the Wandering Palate. It's a travel-inspired cookbook with a lot of healthy Paleo meals that help keep her in remission from Lyme Disease and multiple autoimmune conditions. We’re very fortunate to have her on the show. Let's talk to Erika Schlick, Erika. Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. How are you doing today?
Erika: I’m great. Thank you so much for having me.
Host: You have a very interesting story to tell and I think we should start way back when you were little child. No? (laughing)
Erika: It’s a long story then. (laughing)
Host: You can make it a little shorter, Erika. But your life has changed because you experienced many things. When did you first start experiencing these changes?
Erika: Absolutely. It all started back in 2012. I went on my third camping trip ever in my life to Yosemite and I’ve never really been an outdoorsy person, but after this trip I developed this really weird flu and it would kind of come and go. It lasted about 6 to 8 weeks and I just couldn’t get better. And what was interesting is about 2 months later I woke up one day and was drying my hair and I had a bald spot on the top of my head that just showed up out of nowhere. And it turns out that that was alopecia, which is an autoimmune disease that had been triggered. And so that’s where it really started, just looking for more of a functional medicine doctor and going doctor to doctor to try to figure out what was causing, A, this bald spot and, B, this kind of ongoing flu that I had. And so I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I had a very big sensitivity or allergy or autoimmune reaction to gluten and so we did some testing and found that I was in fact Celiac. I cut out gluten but I never felt better. I just kept getting sicker, I started developing brain fog and a lot of really severe joint pain, fatigue that I just couldn’t get out of bed. Taking a shower would exhaust me for days and this went on for about two years. In those two years, I got other diagnoses such as Candida and Sibo and all these other digestive things. I developed about 60 food allergies. And I got to the point that I had to stop driving, I had to stop working and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. And so one day I just started crying at my doctor's office because I was like, I can't take this anymore like I don’t even know who I am anymore. And he suggested that the only two things we hadn’t tested before were Lyme Disease and chronic fatigue viruses like Epstein-Barr and things like that. So I said let’s test me for all of it. I doubt it’s Lyme, I’m a total city person but do it anyway. And I was actually considered lucky that I tested positive for Lyme. One testing can be very inaccurate, there’s a lot of false negatives, it actually looks for antibodies in your body so your body has to be strong enough to produce antibodies to test positive. So I was lucky. And at that point, I was like, “Oh, great! I have a diagnosis”. Like it’s just going to be easier from here. I can get treated and get better. And I had no idea how hard treating Lyme Disease was. It’s an incurable disease so there is no kind of one-size-fits-all treatment that can take care of it. So I did a variety of different treatments for about 3 years. I did everything except antibiotics. I did a more natural route, especially after I was kind of let down by Western medicine and that nothing was really working. I really wanted to kind of get to the root cause and heal my body from within and what I ended up being my magic ticket. I had done other treatments. I got about 60% better and then I did some self-therapy using my own stem cells and that is what brought me back to life. So it’s been about four years since I got my stem cells. It’ll be four years in September and I’m doing great.
Host: It sounds like there was a very arduous, very long journey, I guess, for the last four years.
Erika: Absolutely. Six years. Six years for all that, yes.
Host: Six years of Celiac Disease, Lyme Disease and now you're okay. Stem cells. How did that work?
Erika: So they used my own stem cells, so they harvest your fat. It’s kind of like a mini-liposuction procedure. It was a little more intense than they like to let on but it was over fairly quickly and then they process your stem cells and they give them back to you via IV. And it definitely wasn’t an overnight fix, it definitely was another long healing process but that took about 6 to 8 months for a lot of my issues to start resolving. And I’d say at the year mark is when I felt less kind of like myself again even though I started having improvements in that time. And now I have no food allergies, I have maybe like three foods that I’m sensitive to other than gluten, but just like I had 60 food allergies that I can eat those foods again which is life-changing. My brain works great as long as I don’t get gluten. (laughing) There’s a common pattern here. The gluten really takes me down but as long as I stay away from that I do really well. So all my neurological issues resolved, my brain fog, my memory came back so I finally feel like myself again.
Host: Well that's really great to hear and that's fantastic, but during that 6-year period, when did you start changing your diet and discovering a new diet that you wrote about?
Erika: Absolutely. So my diet was actually one of the first things I changed, especially since that Celiac diagnosis came in so early. So, first I went gluten-free and like I said I was just, I never felt better. I was like, “Oh, everyone says you go gluten-free” and it’s like, “A miracle!” You can think again and all these things and nothing really changed. And I noticed that a lot of gluten-free foods are really full of sugar, they had a lot of additives, a lot of gums, a lot of different other flours that I wasn’t really even used to eating either. So it wasn’t until I did a Paleo diet that I really started to experience a big difference in my food and started realizing how much food can be healing, how much it can affect your brain, your skin, every part of your body. And so I actually started with autoimmune Paleo diet which is a very, very strict version of Paleo, and it kind of works as an elimination diet so you eliminate a lot of foods that could be causing inflammation and reactions in your body. And after about 30 to 60 days you add them in one at a time. And that’s how I was able to figure out all those allergies that I had and I wasn’t really limited in what I could eat but as I healed I was able to add a lot of those foods back in. I worked on healing my gut and, you know, healing my body overall, making it stronger so that I could start to eat some of those foods again.
Host: When you started, what did a typical day of nutrition look like when you first started?
Erika: Sure. So with the autoimmune Paleo diet it’s pretty strict. You take out eggs, which I had been eating for breakfast once I went gluten-free. So I would do a meat patty with some sautéed greens for breakfast. Lunch would usually be a piece of either wild fish or roasted meat with either salad or vegetable and dinner would pretty much be the same. So really, really keeping it simple eating, you know, high-quality protein and organic vegetables for the most part.
Host: So, not that…I was thinking that maybe a Paleo diet would just involve only meat, not vegetables, or anything else.
Erika: No, you eat a lot of vegetables. So Paleo diet can also include carbs as well so you’re not necessarily eating grains but you’re doing like sweet potatoes, taro root and some flours, things like that. So, you know, carbs and starches that are easier to digest. Today I eat very low carb. I find that best works the best for me and I actually feel the best on very high protein. Sometimes I joke that I’m borderline carnivore these days which is like a whole other diet that I’m like been curious about that I really like tomatoes I haven’t been able to fully go carnivore just yet. (laughing)
Erika: And I feel like I got a lot of healing that I don’t need to do such a restrictive diet again either. Like I know what foods nourishes me, I know what foods work with me so why restrict myself more than I’ve already have to do while I was healing. So…
Host: While you’re being treated for Celiac Disease and Lyme Disease, did your diet help with those things or did your diet just tell what your food allergies?
Erika: It actually helped with those things. Like eating a low inflammatory diet, I could tell when I eat certain things. So if I have like a cheat day and eat some corn or grains, I could tell if there’s a tremendous inflammation. My joints would hurt more, my joints would get puffy so it’s really, really important to keep a very strict diet. A lot of foods would also cause brain fog symptoms and I already had horrible brain fog that I never wanted something to add to that.
Host: What kind of food?
Erika: Nightshades. Tomatoes were my favorite food in the world. I couldn’t eat them for about 8 years, 6 years. And I would eat them and I would feel so spacey and just really out of it and so I had to stop eating those. Corn, I definitely notice if I eat it, even today, I get like really puffy. So that’s something that I still avoid now. So things like that. You just really start to get to know your body and like how you feel. Some foods like bananas would make my skin breakout. I had psoriasis as well so I would notice a flare with things like that. So it’s just really interesting to see, you know, you get these symptoms and people just like for magic cream or pills that make it go away but it might just be something you’re eating every day that you don’t even know is causing your issues.
Host: Is the first thing you notice, the psoriasis and alopecia, 6 years ago when you went on your camping trip when you got the flu, that’s the first effect or the first body change that happened. I want to talk about, I want to ask how common are these things? Is a very low percentage of the population affected? Like you are or is, do you hear about, you know, a lot of people going through this or is a percentage a little higher than you'd think?
Erika: So Lyme is unfortunately very common. They say that by this year there might be 2 million cases in the US alone.
Erika: Yes, it’s crazy. And there are at least 220,000 new cases per year. What the CDC says most people with Lyme believe that it’s actually much higher. Unfortunately, what happens, like I said the testing is really inaccurate, so a lot of doctors aren’t trained to look for it. You’ll do a traditional LabCorp test which only tests specific bands of antibodies that are very rarely come up. So, you know, they get a negative test like, “Oh, you’re negative”. A lot of times people get bitten, ticks can be a size of a poppy seed, and no one, I mean, I didn’t even see the one that bit me. Up to this day, I haven’t even seen a live tick but I know they’re everywhere. So people don’t see that they got bitten by them and, you know, the bulls-eye rash is kind of like the traditional way to say, “Oh, you got Lyme”, but only about 30% of people can get the bulls-eye rash. And it can sometimes not look like a bulls-eye rash, it can just look like a weird bug bite. So it’s very, very hard to diagnose. It’s very, very missed. A lot of common, you know, misdiagnosis for Lyme being the root cause are often fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, MS, and all sorts of neurological diseases like CRPS or neuropathy, so many things. So many autoimmune conditions also might be triggered by Lyme. So it’s a huge, huge problem and epidemic that we’re facing and, you know, there’s not a lot of awareness around it. So, yes, I mean Lyme is unfortunately huge. And, you know, one of the things I tried to do if I blogged in my story is raising awareness for it that it can’t happen to anyone. You know, even in the city you can get bitten by a tick. I heard terrible stories, especially on the east coast, people just, you know, new in the city and get bitten. So, unfortunately, it’s a pretty big deal. And then Celiac Disease is a little bit rarer. I think they say, it’s 3 to 5% of the population has a genetic predisposition for Celiac Disease but there’s a lot of people that have non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. So that means it’s not necessarily an autoimmune attack but they say about 30% of the population does have a sensitivity to gluten that can cause either digestive distress or neurological issues. So I always recommend that you suspect it that you take things out of your diet for about 30 days and then add them back in, you know, one at a time and see how you react and see if your body is okay with it or if you do have any reaction. That’s kind of an easy way to test for it on your own.
Host: Okay, so let’s talk about food now (laughing) And we touched on this subject just very briefly on how you started. You know, while you are going through the symptoms and the diagnosis. And this 4-year process is your process. Why don't you start by telling us what exactly a Paleo diet is and how, you know, experimented with it and then you came up with a whole cookbook around this and, you know, called the Wandering Palate? Why don’t you tell us the story?
Erika: Yes, absolutely. So a Paleo Diet is kind of thought of as a caveman diet or ancestral diet. So it’s really trying to eat foods that were around before agriculture happened. So humans have only been eating grains for about 10,000 years. That’s when agriculture started taking place in our history. Before that we’re hunter-gatherers so the Paleo Diet tries to get back to those roots, trying to eat, you know, wild fish, focus on grass than meats because they have a better nutrient profile. You can do eggs, a lot of vegetables, you can do carbs that aren’t grain-based so like a sweet potato or cassava, taro root, there’s a lot of root vegetables. So it’s really eating food that can be hunted and found. And the idea is eating those foods reduces a lot of inflammation, you know, you’re not eating things in packages, you’re not eating things that have been processed. You’re really focusing on shopping on that outside perimeter of the grocery store. And so, you know, by cutting out that inflammation, you know, like a lot of these random symptoms that people have can start to go away. And, you know, it’s just a really whole foods-based diet and eating really clean. And so my cookbook kind of came to be. Before I get sick and before I had to change all my diet and do all these crazy things that I have to do now. I used to do a ton of traveling. I filled up my passport, I think in 3 years I have sent in for new pages.
Erika: And I just used to eat whatever I wanted. You know, when I travel like I try these new foods and didn’t have to worry what’s in them or asking a million questions. And once I went gluten-free that completely changed. I have to be so careful about what I eat. And so my book was a way to recreate a lot of those dishes that I had when I was traveling that I really liked that I knew that I was never going to eat again if I went back to those countries. So I created a really clean and healthy version of those recipes in my cookbook, Wandering Palate. And now that my blog has kind of evolved I actually added a whole travel component to it and I do gluten-free city guides. So each city I go to I features a bunch of different gluten-free restaurants in the area. Most of them are dedicated gluten-free, meaning they don’t serve any gluten at all. Some of them are just really good at accommodating gluten so I feature all these restaurants so that, you know, people in my shoes that think, “I’m never going to travel again or eat out again”, they have these curated lists of restaurants that I’ve gone to, eaten at, that kind of a way to let them know that, you know, you can travel again, you can eat out again and there’s this Go-To guide for multiple cities.
Host: Is there any benefit even if gluten or wheat or, you know, bread and stuff is not doing anything to me or I don’t feel it doing anything to me? Will I have a benefit if I, you know, cut it out of my diet?
Erika: Absolutely. You know, a lot of doctors say that even if you don’t think you have it an issue with gluten, gluten is kind of just inflammatory for everyone. I don’t know if you’re familiar like a leaky gut but it’s really known for causing a leaky gut which can set you up for, you know, other autoimmune issues and other food allergies and things like that. It doesn’t have a great nutritional profile in general. So, you know, I always recommend people who are like, “Oh, I don’t have an issue”, but you might be surprised that you do. A lot of times, there’s been so many people that I worked with in my health coaching that think they are fine and they take it out for 30 days and added it back and then they’re like, “Wow! You know, I noticed like this headache I get like is completely gone” or “I don’t have this flaky patch of skin on my arm anymore”, things like that. Just can be subtle that you have just become accustomed to dealing with and thinker, normal, I’m getting older and like, “It’s just part of life”. You know, you might be surprised that cleaning up your diet a little bit can really alleviate some of those issues even kind of just coping with.
Host: What are all the things that contain gluten?
Erika: Oh, man. Everything. (laughing) I feel like everything. I feel like I’m actually gluten all the time. It’s so crazy. But, you know, I mean the obvious ones are bread and pizza, things like that. The issue with gluten, especially for someone like myself with Celiac Disease, is cross-contamination. And so what happens is like that can happen in the fields so like oats are notoriously not gluten-free even though they don’t contain gluten. It’s the way they’ve grown in the fields that either cycle with wheat and things like that. You know then when you eat something in a package you’re at the mercy of like how is that processed? Is it in the same facility or the same lines as something that previously processed gluten? So, you know, like a lot of things that you think, “Oh, this should be gluten-free” isn’t because of the way our food system processes things. So that’s a huge issue that I deal with on a daily basis. I honestly stand by 30% of my life accidentally glutened and it really, really is awful. (laughing) Even by gluten-free label foods so that’s a challenge. But some other hidden ones that, you know, you wouldn’t think have gluten is soy sauce. Soy sauce has wheat and you know that can be in a lot of different foods.
Host: Really? I did not know that. Okay.
Erika: You can use Tamari which is a wheat-free version or coconut aminos are a Paleo kind of version of soy sauce. So that’s a kind of a hidden one. Anytime you see things in an ingredient that has like maltodextrin or like starch you have to kind of wonder. So you really have to start to become an ingredient-reading detective and know what foods might have gluten and might not. So it’s challenging. That’s another reason I really like to stick to more of a Paleo diet. You know, I know my piece of meat and my vegetables are not going to have gluten and I’m going to feel okay after I eat it. So that’s another reason I really tried to just stick to whole foods and really limit what I eat in a package.
Host: So where did you travel to? I know you travel a lot. You mentioned that you’ve been to Yosemite and you’ve traveled worldwide because you need a passport, so it’s not in the US at all. (laughing) But you have traveled a lot of the US. So is it possible to tell us all the places you've been to? Or is it too many?
Erika: Oh my gosh. It’s probably a lot but I can try. (laughing) I’ll list off some of my favorite ones.
Erika: Brazil was one of my favorite countries. I did a lot in South America so like Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay I’ve been to, Mexico several times. Pretty much all over Europe, especially Western Europe. Last summer I went to Croatia, which is really amazing and beautiful although very challenging to eat gluten-free there. Even though the majority of the food is like fish and vegetables they are not aware of cross-contamination and I got glutened so much when I was there. It was really awful. It was really frustrating but Southeast Asia was amazing. A lot of that inspires some of my foods in my cookbook because, you know, Southeast Asian cuisine has a lot of soy sauce and things like that and just gluten in general. So those are really fun ones to kind of recreate. Turkey was an amazing country that I’ve been to. I really, really enjoyed that. Yes, I don’t know, those are some of my favorite ones.
Host: And did you pick up food and recipes from all these places?
Erika: For the most part. I mean, I definitely like love eating out and, you know, trying new foods. And a lot of those I did before I got sick. Since I got sick and…I mean last year I did a lot of traveling and this year obviously there’s not going to be any travel happening. So…(laughing) I’m got to be getting back out there. I have a few countries on my Top 5 to go to next. So we’ll see how hard or easy it is to eat once I make it out there.
Host: Give us a sample of some unique gluten-free dishes you had in South America, in Europe, in Asia that stood out to you.
Erika: So in South America, I went to Argentina and, I mean, the steak is absolutely ridiculously delicious. I’m sure you’ve always heard that it’s so good. But they have a really interesting dish called Patagonian lamb, which is like, like it’s kind of like a lamb on a stick almost but they kind of like just grill it all day and it’s so good. Like I’ve never tasted anything that is so good. Brazil I really discovered Tapioca. They do a lot of like Tapioca creeps and like to use Tapioca in a lot of things and that has been like really awesome. That’s basically paleo using Tapioca and cassava. So that was really, really awesome to eat there. And then Southeast Asian…When I was in Thailand I lived off pineapple fried rice and they cook it in a pineapple or they serve it in a pineapple.
Host: Pineapple fried rice. Interesting. I’ve never heard of it.
Erika: So good. So good. So I have a version in my book but I’m using cauliflower rice to make it a green-free version.
Erika: So it’s like a chicken pineapple fried rice that I do like in pineapple as well. So that was really delicious. Those are probably some of my favorite ones. Europe I love paella. So in my book, I have cauliflower rice paella as well. Just trying to do a green-free version. I have another idea for a book coming up, too. And I’m going to kind of keep it focused on like the travel.
Host: What different ideas?
Erika: It’s going to be kind of a whole dinner party with different themes from different countries, like an Argentina cookout, doing things like that. So focusing on different countries, creating the main dish, creating a playlist for it. Kind of creating the whole experience for having dinner parties around us, you know, a certain kind of cuisine or country or theme.
Host: Along with being a traveler, do you consider yourself a good cook?
Erika: Yes, I do now. You know, it’s so funny I actually hated cooking. I never cooked. My boyfriend was always the one that cooked or I would order take out before I got sick. Once I got sick and realized I had to do this to survive, I had to cook. I really started learning how to cook and, you know, once you start noticing that your food can be like medicine for you, you really start to have a different relationship with it. And it’s so funny because we joke that I went from hating cooking to being a cookbook author in 8 years, 7 years. (laughing) So even if you hate cooking, there’s always hope for you. I’m like some people, if I can cook and I can do this now, you can definitely do it because I was so resistant to it. So now I love doing it. Now I’m the one that cooks the majority of the food. And each week I’m constantly making new recipes to put up on my blog and shooting them, so it’s like been 180 and it has totally become one of my passion projects. So…
Host: I’ve been on, you know, many different programs and diets, you know, courtesy of my better half. (laughing) And, you know, one thing that always scares, me especially the Paleo diet, I’m terrified of just that word. (laughing) It seems like you have to be eating everything raw and, you know, I don’t want to eat raw food and I love, you know, delicious foods. I really love eating very, you know, flavorful food. Is this possible?
Erika: Oh, yes and definitely you don’t need to eat everything raw. Unless you want to go and dive into a nice steak tartare or carpaccio which I highly recommend. (laughing) No, I mean, I don’t feel deprived at all. You know, especially once I kind of went from my book and recreated all of these recipes. It was kind of a way for me not to feel deprived like I’m missing out all of those things. You know, sometimes when you’re traveling or you’re out, you see your friends eating a piece of pizza or something you’re just like, “Oh, I wish I could just eat it”, but then you really don’t, you know? (laughing) You know that you wouldn’t feel better if you ate that. You know you’ll feel better if you eat these other things but, I mean, I don’t feel like I feel deprived at all. There’s plenty of things that you can do with a Paleo diet. It’s definitely not all raw and salads and, you know… It’s not as boring and strict as you might imagine it is. You can really be creative and get a lot of really amazing flavors. And I find when you keep things simple and you use really fresh ingredients. Like, I love to cook with fresh herbs and fresh seasonings and some things like that. You realize how a lot of places would just use sauces and, you know, things that they put on it to kind of mask the flavor of low-quality food and things like that. But when you get a really good steak or, you know, a really great piece of fish and you keep it really fresh and simple, the flavor of the food really comes through and you realize how delicious just a simple food really can be.
Host: Your book, the Wandering Palate is available online. If we want to go to your website, what is your website address?
Erika: Absolutely. It’s thetrailtohealth.com and you can find my book there. And it’s also available on Amazon as well.
Host: Now, the pictures in your book, are these foods that you actually made?
Erika: Yes. I did all of the photography, all of the design of the book as well.
Host: Well, it is incredible.
Erika: I made all of the food and shot it all also.
Host: It’s amazing. We were talking on the podcast about, you know, Paleo diet, gluten-free but this food looks so delicious, incredible.
Erika: See? You won’t be deprived. (laughing)
Host: And your blog, thetrailtohealth.com, you’ve got a lot of recipes there, too.
Erika: I do.
Host: Just the first page has flourless chocolate chip cookies that look delicious.
Erika: It was just in a Life yesterday.
Host: Is that picture again something that you cooked?
Erika: Yes. I made those yesterday. (laughing)
Host: Incredible. And it says it takes 5 minutes to cook. Is that true?
Erika: A little more than 5 minutes. They take about 5 minutes to make because you just put all the ingredients in your stand mixer and then form them into cookies and then they take about 10 to 12 minutes to bake, but they’re super simple. There are only 7 ingredients, including the chocolate chips. So they’re very, very simple and they’re flourless so I use a nut-butter base, so you can use almond butter, you can use cashew butter, whatever kind of nut butter you want to use. And they come together super quick and delicious.
Host: It doesn’t stop there. You’ve got your book recipes there, your blog recipes, you’ve even got quarantine recipe.
Erika: Yes. (laughing)
Host: What’s in the quarantine recipe?
Erika: So I started that at the beginning of this whole COVID madness and, you know, a lot of times people were having a hard time buying ingredients in the grocery store. I don’t know what it was up there, but our store shelves were just cleaned out except really random things that were left like… It was kind of interesting when I went to the store, I was kind of looking at what was left and thinking about how could I make recipes around those random things… like tahini butter is great but no one was buying it because no one knows what to do with it. So I kind of created some very, very simple recipes with ingredients that you could still get at the beginning of quarantine and just simple recipes, in general, to keep your immune system and your body happy and healthy and cook really simple. So I created a whole category to make it simple for people to go find easy recipes and make when this all started.
Host: What’s yours…This is a terrible question. (laughing) I’m sure you have a lot of favorites, but what is your favorite out of all the recipes you have in your cookbook, in your blog, what’s your favorite?
Erika: Oh man. All of them – that’s why they made it in the book. (laughing) I would say the ones I probably eat the most is, I love shredded meat. So I have an instant pot shredded beef recipe that’s in my book that I honestly probably eat at least once a week. I just made a new version of it, an instant pot shredded Mexican chicken, that I probably have been really into lately. So those are really good for shredded meat. I really love pho. I have the Paleo pho soup in my book. I really, really love that recipe when you want more of like a nourishing hot meal. Oh man. They’re all good. I really like the pineapple fried rice. (laughing) That one’s so good.
Erika: I lived off of that in Thailand. It kind of always takes me back.
Erika: Yes. I mean otherwise…
Host: I really have to try that. (laughing) There’s a couple of recipes you have with pineapple. You have a Baked Halibut with Pineapple Salsa, Pineapple Salsa by itself which looks very, very interesting, very delicious. It looks delicious. Are these recipes all Paleo or gluten-free, right?
Erika: They’re all 100% gluten-free for sure. And on occasion, I post something that’s not Paleo that might have rice or something, but I’d say 99.9% are Paleo for sure.
Host: So, the homemade fresh tomato and basil pasta looks just really, really great but is that pasta gluten-free?
Erika: It is. It’s actually grain-free. It’s almond flour pasta that I use as my base, so it’s a Paleo pasta.
Host: Is it easy to get?
Erika: Yes. You can usually get it. I think Whole Foods sells it. It’s an almond flour one. They sell it in the frozen section.
Host: Does it taste as good as pasta or does it taste different?
Erika: It tastes a little different, but honestly I haven’t had pasta in so long that I’m so thankful to have it, so then I actually like it now. And sometimes I use brown rice pasta, but then again I notice, I don’t do the best of grains so like I notice that I might look a little inflamed and puffy from as if I stick with the almond flour one, you know, that one’s not going to cause any issues for me and I would get to enjoy my pasta and feel good the next day.
Host: These are all foods which help keep you healthy because of the autoimmune disease, Lyme Disease, and Celiac Disease that you’re now recovered from. Do you consider yourself completely recovered now from those?
Erika: From Lyme, I would say I’m in remission. I don’t want to use the word cure because there is no cure for it and I do a lot of work to keep my body really healthy and make sure it stays in remission and doesn’t come out. With that said, I haven’t had any Lyme symptoms in almost 3 years. You know, the Celiac Disease is an ongoing management. If I don’t get glutened I feel good. If I get glutened I basically lose a week of my life and, you know, feel really sick. So, that’s just an ongoing struggle, you know, to do things like that. I recently got some labs. I have Hashimoto's (disease) as well, which is more or less controlled. But I recently did some labs and for the first time since I had Lyme Disease, my labs were nearly perfect, which is really, really awesome. I still had some lingering inflammation issues that we couldn’t figure out and that finally went away. Ironically, the only change I made is I started eating more meat and more protein than I already was. So I think the actual protein really is making the difference in my labs, so that was really exciting. So I’m like, “Okay. I’m getting there”. I’m almost back to where I was before all of this lies. I see I’m on top of diet and, you know, managed those things.
Host: Living healthy is something that everyone aspires to. That's what our podcast is all about. And it can be a little difficult because, you know, we eat out, there are fast food available to us. But your recipes, I just can't…I am just blown away. You've got to see…Listeners, you've got to go to thetrailtohealth.com. Erika has just amazing, amazing a Paleo Blueberry Muffin. I'm talking to you, you're talking to me and right now I’m on like, “Hmm, what do I want to make first?” You probably heard me clicking as well. I'm just going through older posts. I just can't get enough. It looks too good to be true. Honestly, it really is fantastic. So great job on that.
Erika: Thank you.
Host: And I think you're proving that being gluten-free, living healthy can be extremely delicious because it looks very tantalizingly gorgeous. Everything looks fantastic.
Erika: Thank you. Yes. I mean, it doesn’t have to be hard. You know, when you start eating clean healthy foods, your food can be beautiful, it can be fresh, you know, tastes delicious and you’re not really going to feel that deprivation of cutting out, you know, some of those non-optimal foods, you know?
Host: Yes. I always think and I would always think that I'd have to give up something if I eat healthily like, “Oh, I will have to give up a pizza” or “I will have to give up taco Tuesday nights” or whatever. But your blog covers all those things and you don't have to give up pretty much anything.
Host: It’s fantastic. Where can we find your book?
Erika: My book is available on my website, thetrailtohealth.com and it’s also available on Amazon as well.
Host: Are you on Facebook or Instagram? Do you post things online for people?
Erika: Absolutely. I’m definitely on Facebook, I’m definitely on Instagram. The Trail to Health is my handle and then I’m currently getting started with a YouTube channel as well.
Host: Oh, wonderful. Are you going to do like a…What are you going to do on your YouTube channel?
Erika: So, I’m going to do… Since quarantine started, this has been kind of fun little side project that I’ve been doing. I’ve done a lot of press for my book before. I’ve been doing live cooking demos on TV around the US. And since quarantine started all of the shows have been filming remotely, so I’ve actually been making a ton of cooking videos for them to air. So I’m going to be putting up, I have about 13 recipes that are already made. So I’m putting those up, I’m going to be putting some of my press and TV station segments up there. And then I’m also going to be doing smaller little videos, talking about health tips and healthy products that I use and just kind of help in general. This is going to have 3 parts to it for now as it grows and expands until whatever it’s going to become.
Host: The situation around the world is changing in terms of COVID-19. Some travel restrictions are opening up and some countries are now promoting inter-country travel. For example, in between Canada and Europe, Canadians can now visit Europe, and hopefully one day the US it will open up and everything will be normal one day again. When that time comes, what’s the first place you're going to visit?
Erika: Oh, that’s a tough one. We really, really want to do an Amazon trip. So there’s this really boutique boats that go down the Amazon that I have my eye on for a while since we have saved so much money now for not traveling this year. (laughing) We decided we’re going to splurge and do that. And then probably going to go back to Peru. I really love to go back to Peru and I really want to do Colombia as well. So maybe kind of hit North and South America would be really a fun trip. I really want to do Japan and Morocco, too. So let’s see what’s on my list as well.
Host: Wonderful. Wish you all the best with your travels and can't wait to see your next blog post on thetrailtohealth.com, just fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the Lifelong Wellness podcast.
Erika: Thank you so much.
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