Drinking Vinegar: Your New Favorite Gut Healing Ingredient

Drinking Vinegar: Your New Favorite Gut Healing Ingredient

Drinking vinegar may not sound like something you’d use to create a tasty beverage, but it is destined to become one of your new favorites.

You have probably seen many articles about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, as it has been marketed as a cure-all for quite some time now. Just go to Pinterest or Google it- you will be bombarded with articles touting its many magical powers.

While it is great that it can help control dandruff, dry skin, cholesterol, asthma, and more, what really matters to me is its impact on gut health.  Drinking vinegar is fermented, and therefore contains probiotics.

Probiotics are the good bacteria that benefit our gastrointestinal tract, and our gut health determines our overall well-being.

Supplementing with probiotics (from fermented foods like drinking vinegar) has been shown to boost immune system function, and can even prevent infection.

For those with autoimmunity, boosting immune function, and preventing infection are crucial, especially for those of us taking medications that lower our immune function and make us more susceptible to infection while inhibiting our ability to fight them.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read about what that means.

I first heard of drinking vinegar when I read about it in a magazine article.

What really got my attention was that drinking vinegar has the same healing benefits of Kombucha, which is fermented tea, but without the kombucha taste. Maybe I just haven’t had good kombucha, but I just cannot get on the Kombucha train. I have considered making it, but am a little intimidated (okay, darn right scared) of the “mother” part of it, which is the blob of bacteria and yeast that grow on top while it ferments.

I buy Bragg apple cider vinegar which proudly advertises that it has “the mother” (the floating bits of yeast that make it cloudy), so I am good with that for now.

drinking vinegar health benefitsAfter reading the recipe I realized I had all of the ingredients I needed on hand, which was awesome!

I chose blueberries as my flavor but if you want to try this version you will need a one-quart canning jar, preferably with a plastic lid, because metal does not play well with acid.

I learned this the hard way. I used the mason jars I had on hand, and now I have rusty lids.


The process involves combining fruit and vinegar in the jar for 7 days at room temperature, straining the fruit out and returning the vinegar to the jar and adding honey, then refrigerating for another 7 days.

drinking vinegar gut health paleowhen I opened the finished product after 14 days, I was worried, because it just smelled like apple cider vinegar, even though it looked nice and dark with a deep blueberry color.

But when I poured my new drinking vinegar into my cup and topped it with my favorite raspberry lime seltzer, I was delighted. It is super refreshing and tangy- not at all earthy, like the kombucha I’ve tried.

I was so excited but . . .

two weeks was a long time to wait. I knew there had to be a faster way and there is.


Are you dying to try a drinking vinegar mocktail now?

Thankfully you won’t have to wait two weeks to try gut-healing drinking vinegar!

There are quick versions of drinking vinegar, which are also referred to as Shrubs.

You have a couple of choices:

  1. Buy a drinking vinegar either at your local natural foods store or here (The flavor varieties are truly inspiring. Peach Habanero, anyone?) remember, these are considered mixers, so you only use one ounce at a time.


2- You can make your own healthy gut drinking vinegar



drinking vinegar health benefits

Ready?  I bet you have everything you need in your pantry right now.

Plus, when making your own drinking vinegar, the levels of sugar and other ingredients can be specified to your personal tastes.

To make a drinking vinegar mocktail or shrub, First, you need one large glass of (12-16 ounces) sparkling water (I use flavored, unsweetened seltzer) next you add two tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar. Finally,  the fun part.

The flavor combinations are up to you. To sweeten the drinking vinegar you can add juices, honey, stevia, maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, or turmeric, which has natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. To keep it paleo, stay away from refined sugar, which is used in traditional recipes.

Mix well and enjoy your mocktail!

Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase a product through one of my links, I receive a small commission, and the price is still the same for you! To learn more about this, click here.

Thank you for helping me keep this blog going. I appreciate your support.


I believe one should never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee or the perfect glass of wine and that beauty is ageless.

 Read More


gluten free blog network directory

Chronic Illness Bloggers

Post Autoimmune Diagnosis: Adjusting to your “New Normal”

Post Autoimmune Diagnosis: Adjusting to your “New Normal”

autoimmunr diagnosisYour “new normal” post autoimmune diagnosis is my why behind writing this post.

Helping others adjust to a new way of living brought about by necessity is the focus.

Making sense of your diagnosis can be a complicated, frustrating journey.

Everyone I have met with an autoimmune condition has struggled with their new normal post diagnosis and has grappled with the same questions:

  • What should I eat?
  • How should I exercise?
  • What are the best ways to manage my symptoms?

It will take some time to figure out what personally works best for you, but you will, and It’s going to be okay.

Realizing your life will never be quite the same as before diagnosis is terrifying. I know. I’ve been there.

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013 I was completely overwhelmed. My symptoms came on suddenly and aggressively. My daughter was five years old at the time and I was distraught thinking what this might mean for her, much less for me.

It will take time, patience, and persistence to learn what food sensitivities you may have, what causes your flares, and what your body needs most to start healing.

As a teacher, I am a researcher by nature, so after my autoimmune diagnosis, I scoured the internet for answers to my questions: What do these test results mean? What are healthy alternatives to pain medications? What are the side effects of (insert medication of the week here) and most importantly, what is the best diet for rheumatoid arthritis?  I read many books and articles on this particular topic and wound up more confused than when I started. I found stories of people bringing their disease into remission with vegan diets, Paleo diets, and keto diets, diets full of nightshades and others nightshade free. I love reading success stories, but they can be frustrating when you just want a quick answer.

Unfortunately, there is no quick, one size fits all answer.

I have read countless books and articles with contradictory information and have come to this conclusion: autoimmunity is complex and what works for one person may not be the answer for another- even with the same diagnosis.

After my autoimmune diagnosis, I had to figure out what would work for me. You will, too, and you need to give it time.

I floundered for a while, trying various natural approaches while simultaneously cycling through three different biologic drugs in an attempt to find one I could tolerate. There were a few highs, but many, many lows. My doctor didn’t believe in the diet/ disease connection, so I searched on my own for answers. I gave up gluten and dairy to start (a suggestion I would recommend to anyone as a starting point).



There will be ups and downs on your journey and you will need to make many changes.

Thankfully, these changes will improve your quality of life.


psot autoimmune diagnosis

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplas

If what you are doing isn’t working, you need to try a new approach.

I changed my diet completely based on what I had gleaned from past experience (you can read about my diet here) and started exercising differently as well. I modify almost every program I try.  Gentle yoga and sometimes Barre is what I found works best for me. I have also worked hard to get rid of as many chemicals in my daily routines as possible since 60% of what we put on our bodies is absorbed within 26 seconds. I have enough problems without adding additional hormone disruptors and carcinogens into my bloodstream.

You might find your lifestyle in need of an overhaul, too.

This can take time as well. We all have food sensitivities of some kind and one exercise that is perfect for one person may be too challenging or not challenging enough for some. There are some athletes out there rocking it with RA- and they are truly inspiring.

You might need to change your mindset as well. Don’t let negative thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead of viewing autoimmunity as an end to life as you knew it- think of it as a new beginning.

Your mindset and a positive support system can make all the difference.

I tried online support groups, left those that focused on long-term disability and hopelessness and started a public Facebook page (click to like my page)  as a place to share my journey and inspire others to make positive changes as well.

During this process, I realized that a positive community of like-minded individuals is incredibly powerful. I am so inspired and empowered by the men and women who have joined me.

Everyone needs a tribe.

Your new normal might surprise you (in a good way).

Once you slow down and really make your health a priority and follow a diet and exercise program that supports your needs, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with some of the positive changes you see in yourself. Maybe you are on your way to becoming one of those athletes I mentioned earlier!

This is a journey.

Working on improving your post autoimmune diagnosis “new normal”  will be a lifelong journey. We change, and our needs change. Aim for progress, not perfection. Your happiness and wellness will depend on your ability to adapt, grow, and forgive yourself.

I still struggle sometimes but I have lowered my medications significantly and improved my blood work. I still work full time and am able to engage in gentle exercise. I have improved my quality of life and I genuinely feel better. I am certainly not perfect (Hello, tortilla chip addiction! Margaritas, anyone?), but I do pretty well and can honestly say I am living well with autoimmunity. My new normal is one I am proud of and I would love to help you with yours.

Please reach out to me anytime and please be sure to subscribe to my email list by clicking here, as I will be sending out helpful information, new anti-inflammatory recipes, and freebies designed just for you.







I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit


Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase a product through one of my links, I receive a small commission, and the price is still the same for you! To learn more about this, click here.

Thank you for helping me keep this blog going. I appreciate your support.


I believe one should never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee or the perfect glass of wine and that beauty is ageless.

 Read More


gluten free blog network directory

Chronic Illness Bloggers

Paleo, AIP, Whole30, or Primal? How to Choose the Best Option for You.

Paleo, AIP, Whole30, or Primal? How to Choose the Best Option for You.

Paleo, The Autoimmune Protocol, Whole30, and Primal. You’ve probably heard of all these when reading about the best autoimmune diet, but do you know the difference between them?

There are many similarities, but it’s subtle differences you should pay attention to when choosing the best autoimmune diet for you. This is especially true for those with food sensitivities.

The autoimmune diet you choose will directly impact your wellness and your symptoms.

Thankfully, no matter which option you choose or have already chosen, it will be healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).

I have read the foundational books for each of these approaches, so the information provided in this post comes directly from the leading authorities on the topics.

By the time you finish reading, you’ll understand the purpose of each of these diets and the information necessary to make a decision as to which approach might be best for you, because the best autoimmune diet is the one that works for you.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my disclosures.


Since the AIP and Whole30 programs are variations of the Paleo approach, let’s start with Paleo.

I’ll tackle Primal a little later.

Paleo is a long-term diet. This is a way of eating for life.

Paleo is a very popular autoimmune diet for many. The top two offenders: dairy and grains (and as a result, gluten) are not allowed, therefore, many find relief when following a Paleo diet.

Robb Wolf, one of the world’s leading paleolithic nutrition experts, and whose book, The Paleo Solution, brought me a greater understanding and respect for the approach, explains:

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.


  •  Lean proteins
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Healthy Fats from Nuts, Seeds, Avocados, Fish Oil, Olive Oil, and Grass-Fed Meats


  • Legumes (beans, peas, peanuts)
  • Cereals and Grains
  • Refined Sugars and Sweeteners
  • Refined Seed Oils
  • Dairy (Ghee, clarified butter is allowed if tolerated)

One of the common misconceptions is that the Paleo diet involves eating bacon and red meat all day every day. This is not true, as the focus is to improve health by increasing nutrients, which requires eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as well.

The Autoimmune Protocol is a specialized version of the Paleo diet, an elimination diet designed to help identify food sensitivities, which can impede our ability to heal.

For many, a Paleo approach will bring about relief and improvement, at least initially, but for others, an elimination diet is necessary to rule out foods that, while allowed on Paleo, may still be problematic. This is where AIP comes in.

This diet is intended to be followed for a few months, then foods approved for the Paleo diet, but excluded from the protocol can slowly be re-introduced.

Sarah Ballantyne, the author of the book, The Paleo Approach, further explains:

The goal of the Autoimmune Protocol is to flood the body with nutrients while simultaneously avoiding any food that might be contributing to disease (or at the very least interfering with our efforts to heal). It is an elimination diet strategy, cutting out the foods that are most likely to be holding back our health. After a period of time, many of the excluded foods, especially those that have nutritional merit despite also containing some (but not too much) potentially detrimental compounds, can be reintroduced.


  • Vegetables- Eat a Variety- all Colors and Type
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Organ Meats
  • Quality Meats
  • Quality Fats
  • Fruit
  • Probiotic/ Fermented Foods
  • Bone Broth


  • Nightshades (white potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos)
  • Spices derived from Nightshades
  • Eggs
  • Sweeteners with no nutritional value (stevia included)
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Coffee and other seeds
  • Food additives and emulsifiers
  • Alcohol
  • NSAIDS (ie-Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin)
  • Foods your body may react to if you are Gluten sensitive

This autoimmune diet is challenging but very beneficial for those looking to uncover food sensitivities so common and problematic, especially for those with autoimmunity.

Whole30 is also a specialized, short-term approach that involves removing problematic foods for thirty days. It’s considered a reset.

It is strict, but many foods not allowed on AIP (nightshades, coffee, for example) are okay here as long as they are whole foods.

A driving philosophy is- The fewer ingredients, the better.

Whole 30 is often referred to as, “Paleo with potatoes,” but that is too simplistic.

Melissa Hartwig, the creator of Whole30 and author of, It Starts with Food, explains:

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button.


Moderation is key

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables (white potatoes are allowed)
  • some Fruit
  • Healthy Fats



  • Dairy- (ghee is okay)
  • Legumes (beans of any kind)- includes soy
  • Sweeteners (artificial or natural)
  • Grains
  • Alcohol- even for cooking
  • additives like msg and sulfites
  • Baked and treats goods made from “approved” ingredients

The idea here is to reset your body. This is a great starting point before transitioning to a traditional Paleo diet if you are already aware of food sensitivities.



Primal is a lifestyle where diet is just one piece of the puzzle.

The lifestyle involves eating whole foods, engaging in restorative exercise, sleeping enough, getting outside, and avoiding spending too much time in the digital realm. Sounds good, right?

There are many similarities between the Primal and Paleo dietary principals, but Primal is much less rigid.

In addition to Paleo-approved foods, the diet allows for full-fat dairy, legumes, coffee, nightshades, and whey protein if one is able to tolerate such foods.


Mark Sission, the author of The New Primal BluePrint, explains it this way:

When you get past the contrary position on coffee, the legume agnosticism, and the stances on potatoes and nightshades and dairy, there aren’t a lot of differences between paleo eating and Primal eating itself. The biggest difference is in the name: the paleo diet is a diet, while the Primal Blueprint is a lifestyle. You’ll often hear “make it a lifestyle shift, not a diet,” and it’s great advice. Diets don’t work. They come with built-in endpoints, “goal weights” that, once reached, people use to justify quitting.

This is an approach that still leads to much healthier eating and a better quality of life but is problematic for many with autoimmunity if not altered or customized.

To summarize these potential autoimmune diets:

Paleo: a long-term approach- a way of eating for life that works without ancestral DNA

AIP and the Whole30 are short-term Paleo adaptations with restrictions designed for specific purposes. These diets are followed short term to identify problematic foods. One returns to the Paleo diet for the long term.

Primal is a lifestyle incorporating a less rigid version of the Paleo diet philosophy.



Get Immediate Access to My Free Resource Library Now


Subscribe (Free!) for the password!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
I keep adding to the Free Resource Library regularly, so be sure to visit! https://grayisgorgeous.com/library/ The password is: lotus Thank you for being a subscriber! I appreciate you.

After reading all of these books (and others), trying several anti-inflammatory diets including AIP and Whole30, eliminating and re-introducing foods, and much trial and error, I have finally found an autoimmune diet that works best for me.

It is basically a hybrid: a nightshade-free combo of  Whole30 and Paleo with a little Primal thrown in for good measure. Confused? Hopefully not for long.

Here’s a quick explanation:

I start each weekday with a shake made from a powder containing whey protein isolate, which although contains only the slightest trace amounts of lactase, is not Paleo, but okay for Primal.

Coffee is controversial with some Paleo followers but is a big part of the Primal lifestyle. I drink at least one cup every morning.  I add stevia to my coffee, which is not Whole30 approved but is Paleo compliant.

Additionally, I avoid “paleofied” products like the bread and muffins made with approved ingredients (even though I bake them for my daughter) and unrefined sugars like maple syrup, which is more of a Whole30 philosophy, since unrefined sugars are allowed on the Paleo diet.

I avoid nightshades included in the  Whole30, Paleo, and Primal approaches.

As a rule, I focus on consuming quality proteins, lots of vegetables, some fruits, and healthy fats 

I consider mine to be a Paleo diet, but more of the 90/10 approach due to my Primal breakfast choices.

click here to read more about how I manage my rheumatoid arthritis with this diet

Finding the right autoimmune diet for you will take time, so be patient.

What is most important is finding what works for you. Many foods, even those included in all natural approaches, can still cause inflammation in those with sensitivities.

Please feel free to contact me with further questions about autoimmune diet and food sensitivity and be sure to subscribe to my email list to have anti-inflammatory recipes delivered right to your inbox.


I believe one should never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee or the perfect glass of wine and that beauty is ageless.

 Read More


gluten free blog network directory

Chronic Illness Bloggers

My Autoimmune Diet: How I Manage My RA Symptoms with Food

My Autoimmune Diet: How I Manage My RA Symptoms with Food

Are you curious about diet and autoimmunity? You’ve probably read or heard that there are no proven connections between diet and autoimmune symptoms, but countless testimonials and personal experience tell me otherwise. I’ll share my autoimmune diet below.

I have tried many dietary approaches over the past four years. I started by eliminating gluten and dairy. When that wasn’t enough to improve my autoimmune symptoms I looked into the Paleo diet, AIP, Whole30, and Primal diets because they kept coming up during my research. Read my post on how to tell the difference and how to choose which one might be best for you.  I explain my autoimmune diet further in that post as well.

I avoid gluten, grains, dairy, beans, nightshade vegetables, refined sugars, and processed foods. So essentially, I follow a modified Paleo diet.

Changing my autoimmune diet has made all the difference in my autoimmune symptoms. My disease activity is minimal, I have very little inflammation, and my energy levels are back close to where they were pre-diagnosis: I can actually work out again.

Because of this, I thought it might be helpful to show you what a typical day on my autoimmune diet looks like. You’ll see how easy it is to follow a grain, gluten, refined sugar, and low dairy diet without losing your mind in the process.

Through this post and others, I’ll show you how I make following my autoimmune diet for symptom relief doable. This is real life, after all.

I am busy, a little lazy, frequently exhausted at the end of a long workday, and very human, so I eat many of the same foods repeatedly. I do this to simplify my life and because I have many food sensitivities; on my autoimmune diet I eat what I know will not increase inflammation and other autoimmune symptoms.

Also, I am not a food blogger and my food is shown “as is” on this blog, meaning there is no fancy plating going on around here. Well, sometimes I attempt it- but you will see what I mean. HA!

This Post contains affiliate links.


autoimmune diet






This is my weekday breakfast on my autoimmune diet

Almost every weekday for the past two years I’ve started my morning with a shake.

I start with coconut milk and/ or sugar-free almond butter and a frozen banana or berries, but I ALWAYS add chocolate Shakeology and collagen powder.


anti-inflammatory smoothie maker nutribullet

Some might tire of a breakfast routine like this, but on my autoimmune diet, I have come to rely on simplified menus and routines as a way to better manage my disease activity.

I love starting my day with something so healthy and simple. I never have to think about breakfast, it takes about 30 seconds to whip up in the NutriBullet, and I drink it in the car on my way to work each day. The fact that it’s crazy delicious makes me pretty darn happy, too.

I also always have a cup of organic coffee with coconut or almond creamer or Nutpods when I have it and sometimes a drop of liquid stevia (chocolate is my favorite!). I am an addict, for sure.   

the coffee i drink on my autoimmune diet

On the weekends I eat later and have brunch instead.

Eggs with bacon or quiche made with an almond flour crust are favorites.

I make sure to drink lots of lemon water throughout the day because I never drink enough during the week. This is something I am working on, for sure!

Some people’s autoimmune symptoms are aggravated by eggs. I eliminated them while on AIP and am happy I am able to tolerate them and have them as part of my autoimmune diet.







Lunch is almost always leftovers, a salad, or leftovers and a salad.

It rarely changes because I am not one to prepare a new meal at lunchtime, and during the school year I pack my lunch every day (actually my husband packs it for me because he’s awesome like that) so it needs to be something quick.

I actually work leftovers into my weekly meal planning for this purpose.

One of my favorite salads is simply two handfuls of baby spinach, a few chopped strawberries, a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds, and a  simple balsamic vinaigrette. On the day I took this photo I was out of pumpkin seeds, so I just went with the berries and spinach.

Sweet Potatoes and steak are two of the foods we eat often. I usually roast the sweet potatoes and anything we can grill is also a go-to especially for the summer months.

Sometimes I just skip sweet potatoes and toss the steak right on my salad!

Voila! A perfect lunch crafted from leftovers. 

How I Meal Plan

customized meal plans


Because who doesn’t need a few snacks from time to time?


I love snacks and I have a sweet tooth.

This is tough when trying to avoid refined and artificial sugars.

I love hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, a handful of almonds and almond butter with celery or an apple will sometimes work their way into the mix when I am especially hungry.

I also keep RX BARS on hand for emergencies. They are delicious. RXBAR makes whole food protein bars with simple, all-natural ingredients.



Dinner usually consists of a high-quality protein and plenty of vegetables.

The grill and Instant Pot are my best friends.

Cauliflower is a frequent flyer because I could eat mashed cauliflower every day!

I also try to eat as many green vegetables as possible. green beans, zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts (roasted only) are the usual picks.

We use leftover veggies in a frittata. A big slice of frittata with a salad is one of my favorite lunches.

I like to prep more than I need each time to make dinner time easier during the week.

A typical dinner for us: grilled steak, sauteed zucchini and mushrooms,  and mashed cauliflower.



I cannot think of a better dessert than fresh berries topped with coconut whipped cream (I use this). It’s simple and satisfying.  I try to stick to organic for the Dirty Dozen whenever possible, but I don’t obsess about it. I just wash everything really, really well. We do our best, but we aren’t perfect by any means.

So, as you can see, if you keep it simple, following a Paleo-friendly diet can be quite doable, not to mention beneficial.

I hope you will give it try if you’ve been thinking about it.

Need help with meal planning? Click here

Be well,

Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase a product through one of my links, I receive a small commission, and the price is still the same for you! To learn more about this, click here.

Thank you for helping me keep this blog going. I appreciate your support.


I believe one should never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee or the perfect glass of wine and that beauty is ageless.

 Read More


gluten free blog network directory

Chronic Illness Bloggers