PCOS update and Paleo Banana Bread from Against All Grain

It looks wrinkly on top, and not rounded like most loafs.
It looks wrinkly on top, and not rounded like most loafs.

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(sorry about the photo quality, they are all from my smartphone, and I will replace them once I find the SD card reader)

Written by Rae

I just wanted to share with you some good news. For those that didn’t know, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in 2013. I discovered this while trying to find the cause of the sudden onset of aggressive cystic acne (one of the symptoms of PCOS) that sent me into a deep depression (no joke, folks – try having hard, painful lumps all over your face, and thinking you’re ugly all the time after being acne free for most of your life).

However, last week I found out that it has gone into remission! Needless to say, I was so happy to hear this from the doctor. I was originally going to check out a pain in my ribs, but decided to also pay the gynecologist a visit, too.

In 2013, I had an uncountable amount of cysts covering each ovary, and when first diagnosed had a 10cm cyst on one ovary that the doctors wanted to surgically remove. I did intense reiki on it, and a few days later, the cyst was gone, but my ovaries were still infested with cysts and looked like honeycombs (you can see in the before pictures). I had to take birth control to mitigate the symptoms of PCOS, even though I didn’t want to be on hormone therapy (already having about 10 years under my belt and quit the year before my diagnosis), it was the lesser of the evils.

However, last September (2014) about one year after my original diagnosis, I decided to quit birth control, again, and try and manage my condition through diet and exercise. Since then, I have been eating a largely grain and sugar-free diet. I went almost completely paleo, with the exception of some flour and sugar once a week (although during the holidays I did cheat quite a bit). On a recommendation from one of my spirit guides (I will explain this to anyone who asks), I have been drinking a green smoothie everyday with bananas, strawberries, spinach, and whatever else with bee pollen on top. I have also been running 3 – 5 times per week for 15 or 20 minutes each time. Running helps control blood sugar and insulin, and keeping a grain and sugar-free diet helps, too. I believe these things helped me get this condition under control, especially the exercise. I also quit smoking cigarettes and cut down my drinking to about once a month (anyone who has ever lived in Korea knows the struggle is real). I know some things aren’t always possible without drugs, but I guess I am just happy with that the effort I’ve put in to control my health has payed off sweetly. I am most happy about that.

Last week I learned that one of my ovaries is completely cyst-free, and the other has an insignificant cysts (which can be normal for every woman). Even though I know that being cyst-free is not indicative of PCOS, it seems like a step in the right direction.  I know that so far this is no cure for PCOS, and that if I quit eating and exercising well, the symptoms would most likely return.  Therefore, I will check my condition again in 6 months, but for now I am completely shocked and happy!

For me, this seems like a small victory.  It makes me proud of the steps I’ve taken to try and control my pcos and health – like chugging a glass of powdered turmeric every night, or exercising out in the freezing cold.  It also makes me believe that eating paleo isn’t completely in vain.  Sometimes it’s hard to want to continue to do certain things, when you can’t see any visible results.  Although paleo did make me feel good when I woke up in the morning instead of tired and useless, I wasn’t sure it would specifically help my condition, even though I knew it would be good for my general health.

It has also been difficult for me to explain to people why I choose to eat paleo, especially when I love to bake with flour and sugar, and love to eat in general.  For Koreans, Americans, and other people who come from Western countries, who take rice or bread with almost every meal, it’s hard to understand why I would choose to give those things up, or at least with rice, only choose to eat it once and a while.  Some people also assume that diets like paleo are just a trend.  However, I think it’s easy to judge (and hard to understand) people when you have never had a specific health condition which can not be cured, but only controlled and managed.

Anyway, here are the before and after pictures of my ovaries.  The before pictures are from 2013, and you can see that the ovaries look like honeycombs.  Those are the numerous cysts which covered my ovaries.  You can also see the 10cm cyst which was growing on one of the ovaries. In the after picture, you can see that it looks a lot better, and there are only a few cysts which the doctor said are insignificant and very common amongst young women.

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Before, the ovaries look like honeycombs because they are overcome by cysts.
Before, the ovaries look like honeycombs because they are overcome by cysts.
Minimal/insignificant cysts
Minimal/insignificant cysts

The recipe:  Danielle Walker’s Paleo Banana Bread from her book Against All Grain

In lieu of this good news, I tried a new recipe for banana bread from Danielle Walker’s book, Against All Grain, and boy, it didn’t disappoint (even though I really wanted to gobble down a bunch of snickerdoodles that I had made the day before for my French class)!  It is nearly the closest I’ve found to non-paleo banana bread, except for in appearance (it looks a bit wrinkly on top and not like a rounded loaf).  It is moist and banana-y and you can’t be tell the difference in taste from normal banana bread.  In fact, I made regular non-paleo banana bread for a friend this weekend, and actually preferred this version.  The non-paleo version called for 2/3 cup of white sugar and the batter tasted super sweet to me, so I like how paleo baked goods like this one are still sweet without using copious amounts of sugar and flour.  Moreover, you don’t have to feel guilty when you eat them, and they won’t make you feel stuffed, bloated or tired afterwards like gluten does.

This recipe is a little different from the recipe I normally use because it uses coconut flour as a base. It also uses coconut oil and coconut milk.  For those of you that have never used coconut flour before, it is a little strange when you first start baking with it.  You only need a tiny amount because it absorbs a lot of moisture and expands.  But this recipe is so good, you should give it a try!  The only thing I change is I add a bunch of cinnamon and sometimes other spices.  I also recommend letting the loaf completely cool before you eat it, otherwise you might find it too moist.

Here is the recipe from her book:

Ingredients:
2 T coconut oil, melted (plus some extra for greasing the pan)
4 large eggs
3 T honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/4 cup blanched almond flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 large very ripe bananas
Optional*:  cinnamon, quatre epice, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc.
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease the sides and bottom of a loaf pan with coconut oil.
Place 2T of coconut oil, eggs, honey, vanilla, and vinegar into a mixer and beat on high for 30 seconds.  (You can use a stick blender or hand mixers as well).
Combine the coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients, beating on high until combined.
Place the coconut milk and bananas in a separate bowl and mash until it resembles baby food.
Add the banana mixture to the batter and beat on medium until thoroughly combined.
Mix in optional add ins if desired.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool for about 15 minutes.
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