Grain Free ~ Garlic & Kalamata Olive Boule

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It isn’t surprising to me that there are 90 verses in the bible discussing bread in one way or another. Bread in the bible functions as a social bond. The giving of bread to another person is a major element of hospitality and serves as a sign of respect and concern.

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We’re told to go eat our bread with Joy. And we all know the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus is even referred to as the “bread of God who gives life to the world”. What’s my point?

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Well, not to make light of 90 verses in the bible of course, but bread is a big deal. It was important then and it’s important now for all kinds of reasons both biblical and otherwise. And it’s especially important to those of us who are gluten and grain free!

In fact, bread was one of the first things I set out to tackle when I started baking with gluten free ingredients. Gluten free was a challenge for sure, but baking grain free bread that resembles bread and tastes like “real” bread, consists of small miracles. It is not easy.

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I think I have finally created a couple of go-to grain free, dairy free bread recipes that are extremely pleasing to me. Now I can enjoy buns, crusty bread, french bread, garlic bread, french toast, toast, and cinnamon rolls just as much as the next guy. That’s important to me and from what I hear from other people, it’s important to them too.

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Bread is comfort. It’s filling, it smells fabulous, it feels amazing, it can be combined with absolutely mouth-watering delicious, ingredients.

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A few baguettes, goat cheeses, roasted garlic, and wine and you have the perfect cozy, social gathering. It’s the staple food of life. No one should ever have to go without bread.

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Many of us remember our mothers or grandmothers houses being filled with the smells of bread baking. Or walking down the street in a city on a cold day being led by our noses to a local bakery.

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Fresh rolls on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Fresh bread with a steaming bowl of soup… Bread smells like home. We need that in this hustle bustle world! Our families need to come home to a house full of comforting smells that they’ll remember for a lifetime. Smells that stir up deep, heartfelt memories long after we’re gone.

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Please don’t give up on being able to experience that. People panic when they’re told they can’t eat gluten and dairy. I hear that it’s too hard, too expensive, too irritating, it’s not fair, they don’t know how, they can’t bake…. don’t cheat yourself because you’re maybe a little bit overwhelmed or uneasy about starting something new.

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I have so many memories of people I love that are attached to food. There’s no way I’m willing to give up those traditions and the fabulous smells and reminders of my life with those people simply because of food allergies.

And you shouldn’t either.

You DO have it in you to bake, and cook, and build fabulous smelling memories. Start small and work your way up one loaf or roll or baguette at a time.

I believe in you!

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Grain Free Dairy Free ~ Garlic & Kalamata Olive Boule

2/3 Cup Arrowroot

1 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

3/4 Cup Coconut Flour

4 teaspoons Xanthan

4 teaspoons Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons Active Yeast

2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup Warm Water

6 Eggs, Separated

3 Tablespoons Grass Fed Gelatin

1/2 Cup Cool Water

3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Cup Kalamata Olives, sliced lengthwise in half

1 WHOLE Head of Garlic, cloves peeled and sliced

2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary, crushed

#1.  Place a piece of parchment (enough to go up the sides) into a large bowl and set aside. Slice olives and peel and slice garlic cloves.

#2.  Measure all dry ingredients except  the yeast, sugar, and gelatin into a medium bowl and whisk. Set aside.

#3.  Separate eggs, placing whites in the a mixer bowl. Beat to stiff peak.

#4.  Measure the 1/3 cup warm water and add the yeast and sugar and stir until combined. Set aside.

#5. Measure 1/2 cup cool water (in a glass measuring cup or ramekin) and add the gelatin, stirring quickly to combine. Microwave for 40 seconds. Set aside.

#6.  Measure the apple cider vinegar and olive oil into the egg whites. Add the yeast mixture to the egg whites. Turn mixer on low and very slowly drizzle the gelatin mixture into the egg white mixture.

#7. Keeping the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix on low until combined (or you’ll have a dust cloud). Then, mix on medium high for 2 minutes.

#8.  Add the sliced olives, sliced garlic, oregano and rosemary, mix on medium to combine thoroughly.

#9. Scoop dough into the bowl with the parchment and lightly shape the dough into a round ball with wet hands. Do not pat down!

#10.  Place the Dutch oven (lid on- remove knob if plastic) on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. While the oven is preheating, place the dough bowl on top of the oven and loosely cover with a kitchen towel.

#11.  When oven is preheated VERY CAREFULLY remove the lid and grab the bread dough by the corners of the paper and set it into the VERY hot Dutch oven. Replace the lid. Bake for 20 minutes.

#12.  After 20 minutes, remove the lid (set somewhere safe!), turn the oven down to 450 degrees and continue baking for 15 more minutes.

Remove bread from Dutch Oven and cool on wire rack . ***Allow the Dutch Oven to cool inside the oven or somewhere safe like inside the sink.

(Notes: I checked my bread halfway into the 2nd  half of the baking and felt it was getting dark quickly so molded a piece of foil over the bread for the last half of baking time. You may have noticed my loaf has a split down the middle. That is because I sliced a cross in the dough prior to baking. I didn’t have you do that in the recipe instructions because I think it causes the loaf to fall a bit. Next time I won’t cross the top. I also did not do an egg wash because I was fearful that because the oven was so  hot, it would burn the top of the bread.)

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Apple Chicken Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Raisins


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Somehow, Monday is here again and our weekend flew right by us!  My husband was gone the latter part of the week, had to travel through Saturday, and didn’t return home until after dinner. We made the most of Sunday though. It was a gorgeous day so we headed over to Idaho to the beautiful town of Coeur d’alene. We watched the sad ending of the Seahawk’s football game and had a cocktail in the Whispers Lounge at the resort, then walked along main street and looked in some of the shops. Not many are open on Sunday which I guess may be a blessing on the pocketbook. Once we worked up an appetite and decided against the posted menus on many of the restaurants on main street, we headed back to the resort for lunch.

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 Sadly, their gluten free menu was predictable, so we both settled with the salad bar. We do love a good salad bar with a large variety and they say their salad bar is 18 feet long. I would say more like maybe 10 if they’re lucky, but what do I know. It had a decent amount of choices and a variety of gluten free dressings, but only two were non dairy. Someone had slopped blue cheese dressing into the huckleberry vinaigrette. You would think if they were mindful enough to label dressings gluten free, they would have placed all of them together rather than among the other dressings. Blue cheese dressing is not gluten free. But again, what do I know?

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I do dream of the day I can go into a restaurant that has both gluten free and dairy free choices on their menu. Exciting and innovative choices, not just meat, fish, vegetables and gluten free cake with dairy.  I was disappointed they didn’t offer a gluten free bread basket or gluten free crackers to accompany the salads. There are many gluten free options for crackers and breads now, so I couldn’t come up with a good excuse for our missing bread basket.

With more and more people being diagnosed with food related health issues, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before we’ll be seeing more variety on allergen free menus. Something as simple as this gluten and dairy free Apple & Chicken Salad would have even been a nice change of pace from the same old predictable gluten free menu fare.

About 1 out of every 100 people are diagnosed with celiac and that doesn’t count the unbelievable number of those who are gluten sensitive. Not long ago I read a USA Today article that said that 60% of adults cannot digest dairy. More than half of adults cannot digest dairy. If a chef were to even Google “gluten free and dairy free”, he’d have hundreds of simple recipes right at his fingertips along with thousands and thousands of innovative blogs who post allergen free recipes all the time. I don’t expect a large allergen free menu or to be pampered and spoiled as this resort claims to do for their guests, but I do expect that they put a little elbow grease and innovative thinking into their dishes.

Until then, there’s always home where we know we can order anything we want.

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Apple Chicken Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Raisins

Makes 2 Servings

3/4 Cup Chicken breast, cubed

1/2 of a Macoun Apple, diced

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Diced Red Onion

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Diced Celery

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Raisins

1 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil Mayonnaise (or dairy free plain yogurt)

2 Tablespoons of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Freshly Ground Pepper

Chopped Romaine Lettuce

Place all ingredients except the lettuce in a bowl and stir to combine. Serve on a bed of romaine.

Grain Free Spice Cakes



Did I ever tell you about the time years and years ago when our young neighbor down the street was having an affair? You’d be surprised what you’re privy to when you keep your eyes open.

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We didn’t know her at all, but when you’re an observant person…you see things other average Joes, just don’t see.  Hubby deployed or some such thing, and pretty soon a shiny new truck and a shiny new young man started coming around. Then he started staying.

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Well, my husband has a knack for coming up with nicknames for people. He crowned the shiny young man, “Porn Star”. Along with a tune of “bow chicka wow wow”, every time the shiny young man drove by. Well, Porn Star had his own business and he provided a service we needed. So my husband thought, “What the heck, I’ll throw this guy some business.” Now, I had never seen this guy close up so I had no idea it was actually Porn Star that came to our house to give us an estimate.

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While we were talking over plans he made a few comments about the young wife down the street and the neighborhood, but was so vague, I thought he was just a friend of the couple or an employee of Porn Star.

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Well, as you can probably guess, I was very curious about how the husband disappeared and the shiny new young man just showed up. It was a mystery we needed solved! So I said a couple of things in a round about way like, “Yeah, we noticed the husband deployed and now some other dude is hanging around. So how’s that panning out with the husband?”


Oh yes I did.


He was silent. Or maybe he mumbled a couple of things, I’ve tried to forget. But I do remember the look my husband gave me. That slight look of horror mixed with a large dose of humorous smirk…because I had stuck my foot in my mouth and he probably couldn’t wait to see how I was going to get it out.  Once the realization hit me…. you know that hot wave you get from your toes all the way up to your head? I had one of those and immediately thought, “Oh CRAP. Well, I’m glad he already gave us our estimate.” And I didn’t say another word. In fact, I think I may have laughed. Because really, what else are you supposed to do at that point?


Our conversation ended very quickly after that and about an hour later the doorbell rang. I peeked out the kitchen window and sure enough, it was Porn Star.

Bow Chica Wow Wow!

And of course, my husband was nowhere to be found. So I opened up the door with a bright cheery smile and he handed me another estimate and said that after our conversation he realized there was “No Way” he would be able to provide the service for what he had originally offered.

He doubled it.


I laughed again, and silently (THIS time) thought, “Hmmm…well isn’t that interesting…” After a good laugh we ended up hiring another guy. “Harley Guy”, who did it for a fraction of Porn Star’s original bid. Deployed Hubby never returned. Not long after that, Porn Star and, “Variety is The Spice of Life” young lady, moved on to another more unsuspecting and less inquisitive neighborhood I guess.

Mystery solved!

Grain & Dairy Free Spice Cakes

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 Cup of Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Cup of Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Soy Free Butter

4 Eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons of Pure Almond Extract

1 Cup + 1/2 Cup (measured separately) Full Fat Coconut Milk

Measure the dry ingredients into a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Add the butter, eggs, almond extract, and 1 Cup of the coconut milk. Beat until fully incorporated, scraping down sides once or twice. Allow the batter to rest while you place cupcake liners into a tin (18). Add the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk and beat until fully incorporated. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes.

**I made a simple powdered sugar/butter frosting…that ended up being a dance of add more of this and add more of that and then I had to toss it and make another batch. So I will let you figure the measurements for your frosting, or you can go here and use these measurements. I used powdered sugar, dairy free butter, pumpkin pie spice, and a little coconut milk in mine. I also sprinkled them with Maple Sugar Nuggets.

Chocolate Chai Macaroons


Did you know I’m a klutz?

Some synonyms would be clumsy, stumblebum, butterfingers, awkward, accident prone…

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I don’t know why and it seems to come in waves, but really, I’ve been one all my life. In fact, I remember being called “Grace” on many occasions in my childhood and I don’t think it was because I was so angelic that I “graced” everyone with my presence.

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I’m not sure if I blogged about it, but right after we moved into our house in New Hampshire I fell all the way down the flight of stairs from our bedroom and tore my right shoulder. Shoulder tears are not fun and take months to heal if they heal at all. Luckily, mine eventually did.


Then, a few months ago I was reaching over the gate that leads to our basement to set something on the stairs… Why do we have a gate? Because the cat box and cat food are in the basement and we have very “inquisitive” dogs.  As you can probably already guess something went awry.

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I guess I leaned on it just a little to much and it slipped right out of the door jam. I went with it and got my foot caught in the cat door at the bottom of the gate and fell all the way down the stairs.

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Once my husband figured out I was OK and I only came away with just a few scrapes and bruises, he said, “You need to be more careful, you’re not getting any younger you know.” Then our son arrived for a visit a while later and Tony said, “Guess what mom did!” with such excitement I actually thought, what did I do? Then I heard, “She fell down the stairs!”

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Two weeks ago I was cooking dinner and I guess I must have left a cupboard open, because next thing I knew, I turned around and smacked right into it with my forehead. I didn’t even swear. I’m so used to being a klutz, it doesn’t even elicit naughty words anymore. Just a lot of, “WHY? WHY? WHY’s!” That one left a mark that had to be covered with makeup every day.

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A week and a half ago I was walking from the dining room down to our family room and I have no idea what happened but the stairs suddenly turned into a slide. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom and I fell so violently that the plastic padded glass water bottle I had in my hand broke. Four stairs. Not even a flight of stairs.

While I was falling, I reached out to grab something to stop myself like most people do I’m assuming, and tore the same shoulder again. This time my husband, lounging on the couch fully horizontal, didn’t even bother to get up. I just heard, “Are you OK?” Um….nooooooo. Later he did bring me ice packs for my shoulder and reminded me once again, “You know you’re not getting any younger, you don’t want to break a hip or something.”

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A few days ago, I bent down to put some things into a recycling bag that was set where it doesn’t normally live in the kitchen. I had placed it there because it was almost full and needed to go out to the big bin in the garage. Sure enough, when I bent down, I smacked my forehead on the corner of the bar.

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When my husband left for work this morning I deemed today, “Pajama and Chocolate Day”. I had breakfast and then I made myself a cup of hot chocolate.

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100% Coconut milk, 2 squares of dark chocolate, about 1 teaspoon of raw honey, a couple pinches of cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric. I also added a little dollop of coconut whipped cream made with pure vanilla and coconut sugar.

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So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m sore. Very sore. I think I feel like what really old people feel like. My shoulder still hurts, it’s making my neck tight and giving me a headache, and I’m almost positive I’m going to have a permanent bruise on my forehead. That calls for lounging around in one’s PJ’s and indulging in chocolaty things.

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The cookie recipe makes 15 cookies, and as you can probably tell, there are not 15 cookies on this plate. There are 11 because I ate four, in one sitting.

Which is as it should be on a Pajama & Chocolate Day.

Yours Truly,


Chocolate Chai Macaroons 

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2 Cups of Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2/3 Cups of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

2/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Flour

1 Tablespoon of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Tablespoon of Chai Mix (see below)

2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Eggs

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Mix all ingredients well in one bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out 15 heaping Tablespoons of the cookie dough. Bake for 16 minutes.

Chai Spice Mix

This spice mix can be used for all kinds of delicious things, you’ll have extra.

1 Small Jar

3 teaspoons of Ground Turmeric

4 teaspoons of Ground Cardamom

4 teaspoons of Ground Cloves

4 teaspoons of Ground Allspice

8 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

6 teaspoons of Ground Ginger

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Spoon into a storage jar.

Sunday Morning Quiche



We were finally able to enjoy a great couple of days last weekend.

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Tony and I had been sick for almost two weeks and then something went wonky with his hip joint. That led to a lot of pain, a lot of couch time, and several painful trips to the chiropractor.

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It was a nice change of pace on Friday to realize we both at least felt decent enough to get out and have some fun.

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We went to the county fair. I always look forward to it even though every year they’re pretty much the same. This year I was happy to see there were a couple of changes.

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They had a large, free petting zoo which was fun to walk through. Along with a good excuse to eat an embarrassing amount of kettle caramel corn…the animals are my favorite part of the fair. I mean, who doesn’t just melt over a baby goat? Or the eye lashes on the Lamas? Or the cows that have shiny coats the color of corn silk?

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There’s also a booth with Asian massage therapists who do the most incredible chair massages! I mean seriously. They have perfected the chair massage. We partake in one every year and it is heavenly.

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The only picture I took at the fair was of this adorable baby zebra. We had just walked out of one of the animal barns and he was being led back to his stall. The owner wouldn’t let us get near him, but we were close enough to get a good picture. He was just stunning!

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Saturday we packed up the truck and headed about an hour from here so we could meet up with my husband’s hang gliding group.


It was a gorgeous day so we took snacks and brought the dogs along.

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I was able to get a lot of really good photos of the pilots and it was fun to watch all the different levels of experience.

My husband is the yellow and light blue glider.



Some of the pilots have been flying for more than 30 years! They started in the 70’s when it was pretty loosey goosey and quite dangerous.



Now pilots have to study and be trained and tested, and there are different levels of training that can be achieved. When a hang gliding pilot reaches the highest level of training, it’s the equivalent of a private pilot’s license.


The majority of people aren’t aware of what it takes to become a certified hang glider. It’s serious business. I’ve heard many people just assume that someone goes out and buys a glider, straps it on, and off the mountain they go! Only crazy people do that. And in fact, now it’s almost impossible to even purchase a glider without an OK from a certified instructor to the manufacturer.

This guy hangglides and paraglides.


This is him again. He flew at 7200 feet for well over an hour.


Even pilots who’ve been flying for 30 + years can occasionally misjudge and end up in trouble. It’s happened twice this summer with Tony’s group but thankfully, both the pilots came out of it relatively without injury.


Last flight of the day.


Regardless of risk, for those that have the flying bug, I’m sure there’s just nothing like soaring like a bird with your own set of wings. They all have radios on their gliders and it’s fun to hear them explain what they’re experiencing when they’re soaring at 7200 feet.


After a few hours at the fair on Friday, and several hours on top of a mountain on Saturday, by Sunday morning we were feeling pretty worn out. Especially after having that much activity after not feeling so hot the last few weeks. Even the dogs were beat.

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So we lounged and had a slow morning. I made us vegetable quiche for breakfast and as we sat at the table and discussed our weekend. We both agreed that it was worthy of two thumbs up!


Vegetable Quiche

1 Pie Crust Portion

1/2 Red Onion, diced

1/2 Large Bell Pepper, diced

About 1/2 Cup Broccoli Florets

2 Cups Packed, Fresh Baby Spinach

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Fresh Thyme

Bacon Fat

8 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Hemp Milk

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

A Few Grinds of Pepper

A Couple Sprinkles of Garlic Powder

Couple Pinches of Dried Oregano

1/4 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Parmesan

1/2 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Mozzarella

Freshly Chopped Tomatoes & Parsley For Garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the crust and line pie plate. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

 In a large skillet, saute the bacon fat, onion, pepper, broccoli, garlic, and thyme until onions and broccoli are aldente. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Grate cheeses.

Whisk the eggs, milk, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano in a bowl. Place the pre-baked crust on the middle rack of your oven and pour the egg mixture carefully into the crust. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Super Easy Kabobs & 10 Life Lessons Lyme Has Taught Me That You Can Learn Too



I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2013 while we were living in New Hampshire. I say “finally” because I had actually gotten sick in 2006 and then extremely sick in 2008, when I was so sick I chose to quit my job. It took 7 years for someone to figure out what was wrong with me. That may seem surprising to you, but it’s actually a very common Lyme story. Once I got a handle on what was going on I realized that taking care of my health was going to be serious business. The past two years have definitely been a struggle, but I have also used it as an opportunity to carefully examine things and work on making adjustments that help my life run more smoothly.

10 Life Lessons Lyme Has Taught Me That You Can Learn Too:

 1.  Ditch ToxicToxic people, toxic stuff, toxic behaviors, toxic emotions. Life is just simply too short to hang out with toxic people. People who display behaviors that go against the needs of a healthy relationship. Life’s too short to surround yourself in a toxic environment full of toxic “stuff”, too short to fill your body with toxic food. Too short to hang on to your own toxic behaviors whatever they may be, too short to have toxic emotions that beat you up all day every day because of feelings of inadequacy, marital issues, family issues, appearance, jealousy, past mistakes, not standing up for what you believe in, whatever it may be that you beat yourself up about on a regular basis. Make a list of non-negotiables, stick to them like glue even when it’s hard, and treat yourself and others with love and kindness. Value the life you’ve been given.


2.  Don’t Take Ignorant Comments Personally. I have found that we all feel we’re a little bit of an expert on a little bit of everything. It’s human nature for people to give opinions. I am full of them! But, in certain situations when you really are an expert on dealing with something unpleasant, the negative nellie’s of the world can really get under your skin. The number one complaint of people who have a chronic illness (besides the illness itself) is other people who aren’t supportive and/or say stupid, hurtful things. “You don’t look sick. You just need to get more exercise. Drink more water! But you seemed fine yesterday. You’re up and moving around, I thought you were sick? It’s all in your head. You’re always sick. Why can’t you get better? Quit making excuses. There’s no such thing as……” Eye rolling, gossip, being laughed at, being told you’re weak…. People can be really mean and not just strangers.  Unless you are speaking to someone who is suffering from something similar, it’s highly unlikely they will ever fully understand what you’re going through and most won’t even give it a good try. In any situation you’re going through in life where people are making ignorant comments, you need to decide whether it’s worth the energy to try to explain it properly, and if it’s not, just nod and smile and move on. Stop looking for support and acceptance in all the wrong places.

3.  Form Your Circle. All of us need a safe, close, circle of people who we can trust and rely on no matter what. I’ve heard many times and agree that this circle for people with chronic illness and people diagnosed with major illness is often small. Partly because of the ignorance I discussed above, and partly because when you end up sick, or have a crisis, or need someone to have your back, the relationships that were never really close and genuine, fall away. It’s painful, but a fact of life. Save your energy for the people who stay.  You absolutely need a circle who you deeply value and who deeply value you. This may be only a few people or 10 people, but it’s imperative.


4.  Join A Support Group. Meeting people who have the same interests and similar struggles can be life changing. It can make all the difference in how you view what you’re going through. I belong to private online Lyme groups filled with hundreds of amazing people of all walks of life. By private, I mean no one outside the group can see the posts or comments. These groups have been a tremendous help to me. Not only with information and ideas, but with loving support. No discussion is too bizarre, or too whiny, or too scary, or too real. You can be open and completely honest, which is sometimes difficult to do with close friends and family who are not going through the same thing you are. In the support groups we’re there to learn, understand, listen to each other, and lend support. There’s a lot to learn from other people who are going through the same things you are. Another really important part of being in a support group is the recognition that someone always has it worse than you. Much, much, worse. That’s a real eye opener when you’re feeling really blue. Listening to what others are going through forms friendship bonds and helps with feelings of isolation in illness or anything unpleasant that you’re going through. Even on your worst day, you can be a voice of love and compassion to someone else.


5.  Keep Moving Forward. Stress can be debilitating. Many people don’t understand that stress is not just a bad job, a snotty teenager, a bad marriage, money issues, a neighbor’s barking dog, crappy customer service, or a hateful relative. Illness itself is also a major form of stress and places your adrenal glands under constant pressure. They pump out cortisol more than they should which sets your body into “fight or flight” mode and imbalances your hormones. Too much cortisol lowers the immune system, causes anxiety among other things, and interferes with your body’s ability to rest and repair properly. Trying to keep all the stress in your life from inside and outside sources can be very difficult. There’s not a lot I can do to cure the stress that Lyme Disease causes inside my body, but once I could visibly see how stress from outside sources dramatically aggravates my health, I had to make big changes in my life. I had to ditch the toxic like in #1 above. I have to focus on taking care of myself properly inside and out. I focus more on doing things I love that bring me peace and being around people who strive to be peaceful and are also looking to lead a healthy life inside and out. Sometimes that can be really difficult and obviously, we can never fully remove stress or stressful people from our lives.  Most of us have a lot of clutter and static that we simply do not need but hang on to because we’re used to it in a kind of dysfunctional, comforting way. It’s more harmful than good. Do whatever it takes to get rid of as much stress as possible, and every day do things that help you move forward toward more peace and more joy in your life.

6.  Learn How To Say No. I come from a long line of people pleasers. Saying “No” to people is difficult for me without feeling piles of guilt. I’m still in the learning and practicing stages but over the past three years, even though it’s uncomfortable, I’ve made progress. Feeling guilty for not wanting to do things, guilty for disappointing people, guilty because you feel like crap a lot and it affects other people, guilty because somehow it feels kind of shameful to say “no” and not to worry about what other people think about it. Some people have zero problem with “no” or feeling guilty about saying no. But most people are just like you and me and struggle with it a lot. If we want to be healthy in our lives, we have to recognize that we simply cannot be a yes woman/man all the time. We need to work toward getting rid of the guilt of not always being the person everyone wants us to be and doing the things that everyone wants us to do.


7.  Every Day Is Different, Embrace It. This is one of the most misunderstood symptoms of chronic illness, especially Lyme Disease. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that literally, every single day is different for me. One day I can feel relatively fine and the next day I can wake up feeling absolutely terrible from head to toe. I can go back and forth like that for weeks, even months. This can make it difficult to make future plans. I do plan things, but typically only very short term and when I have to plan something for the future, I dread it. I guess that goes back to the guilt and anxiety of saying no, or about feeling terrible about letting people down or looking like a flake because I can’t follow through or have to cancel. I have a very small circle of people that I feel comfortable doing things with. This is only because I can relax and feel crappy when we’re together and be fine with it and so can they. I do life sick, that’s the reality, and I need a comfort zone. We all need a comfort zone. I have come to realize that I have to exert a lot more energy to do life sick with people outside of my circle. Sometimes I have that extra energy and sometimes I don’t. I’m learning how to be OK with that and to not worry that people may not understand. That works for every rough patch we deal with in life. Be OK with what is best for your health and well being.

8.  Examine Your Past, But Not Too Much! Many of the reasons behind who we are and how we handle things have to do with how we were raised. Now this is not a license to pick on your parents! A little past examination comes in handy though when doing some soul searching and dealing with life’s ups and downs. Whenever I’ve been ill with anything throughout my life, it always made me feel really anxious and uncomfortable. Fearful of what, I didn’t know, not death because that doesn’t scare me, but just plain anxious and fearful. Dread. Guilt. Doctor avoidance. So I did some thinking and it occurred to me that both of the main women in my life hid their symptoms and their illnesses throughout much of my childhood. By “hid” I mean they didn’t tell anyone until someone found them out. I remember walking into the bathroom and my mom was leaning up against the counter gasping for air. Her lung had collapsed and she didn’t want me to tell anyone! And that wasn’t the only time things like that happened. I can only guess that she learned those behaviors from my grandmother because she was the same way. She hid chest pains and all kinds of things from us. “Don’t tell anyone, don’t want to worry anyone, I can handle it myself, I’m fine…” That sends a message that there’s something wrong with being ill or being vulnerable and in need of help. On my father’s side, I remember my grandma telling a story about my great grandmother that was extremely unsettling. She collapsed on the floor and when the paramedics arrived and ripped open her shirt, she had been treating herself for breast cancer. She had an open wound on her breast that she had told absolutely no one about. What is it about us women in particular that makes us want to hide and feel guilty about being ill? Millions of people in the world face illness every day, unfortunately it’s quite common place. It does not need to be hidden and the reality of it should not be feared. This is a hard reflex to change, but I try diligently to work on it. We need to be a tower of strength for each other, not hide from each other. We need people in our circle who support us when we’re feeling vulnerable. Life whether good or bad, should not be faced alone.

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9.  Focus On The Positive. Many people have said to me, “You have such a positive outlook!” I appreciate those comments, because that is what I and certainly most people in life in any situation strive for. Am I always positive? Of course not. Having a chronic illness comes with a lot of mixed feelings about all kinds of things.  It’s confusing, and irritating, scary, and often painful and debilitating. However, I have learned that if I’m feeling blue or anxiety ridden, I only allow myself a little bit of a pity party. Swimming in despair is terrible for you, but so is cramming your worries and not working through them. I think through the main things that are upsetting me and then redirect with  prayer, or talking to a trusted friend, taking a walk, reading a good book, playing with the dogs, catching up with friends on Facebook, baking, shopping, praying for other people who are struggling, journaling, gardening, photography, focusing on blessings….whatever it takes to get myself back on track. You absolutely MUST have a list of things that bring you joy that you can turn to, even when you feel like total crap and you think your life is falling apart. Your outlook can make or break you.

10.  Trust That There’s A Plan For Your Life. I am a firm believer that my whole life is figured out and planned. Every single thing that happens, happens for a reason and is instrumental to my life for reasons I may or may not understand at this point or…ever. And though I firmly know that in my heart and soul, sometimes my brain wants to tell me otherwise and I get caught in the trap of trying to control everything myself. Trying to figure it all out and make it nice and tidy. Surmountable. Trying to map the future and the outcome. God gives us many, many, tools to deal with life, none of which give us details on how every minute of our individual lives are going to pan out. That’s where trust and faith enter the scene for me. You need a foundation of strength that is unwavering, an anchor that is outside of yourself and is not associated with another human being. When I get caught in the loop of endless hours of research and reading and unanswered questions and what if’s, and uneducated doctors, and ignorant people, and chores I don’t have the energy for, and family issues, and anxiety, and all the “stuff” life throws at every single one of us every day, I have to force myself to step back and remember, “God’s got this.” He’s never let me down. He’s always had it all figured out, it’s been proven to me over and over again that every single thing happens for a reason. Why do I forget that? The blessing of faith and trust, is that I don’t have to have it all figured out all the time. Imagine that. The pressure is off. We can deal with stuff as it comes to the best of our ability and that is all we can do. We need to learn to let go.


Super Easy Steak & Vegetable Kabobs

Bag #1

2 Grass Fed New York Strip Steaks (or meat of your choice)

2 Organic Cloves of Garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Thyme

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Rosemary

1 teaspoon of Organic Fresh Parsley

1/4 Cup of Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper

Cut any tendon or extra fat off of the steaks and cube. Place all ingredients in a zipper bag, mix, and marinate all day in the fridge.

Bag #2

Organic Cremini Mushrooms

Organic Bell Pepper

Organic Onion

1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Pineapple with 100% Pineapple Juice

1/8 Cup of Organic EVOO

1 teaspoon of Organic Oregano

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper

Place all ingredients in a zipper bag, mix, and marinate all day in the fridge.

Place meat and veggies on skewers. Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Grill 5 minutes or so on each side for medium rare.

Peach Hand Pies



When life gets rough, I bake. Or clean house, or work in the garden, or go for a walk.

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I need that kind of therapy. Lying down is maybe a one or two day thing tops, after that, I need to putter even if I feel really bad. If I can’t putter, life is dismal. I cannot curl up in a ball and be miserable.

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After a couple of weeks of feeling terrible, all I could think about was pie. So a few days ago, I made these fabulous Peach Hand Pies and an Apple Galette. I say if you’re going to do it, go BIG.

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Remember my broken tooth the dentist supposedly fixed? Well, I was in pain for several days after he fixed it, so I put a call in to find out that he was on vacation for 10 days. On the last day of his vacation, his receptionist forwarded me to their “favorite endodontist”. An endodontist specializes in root canals. Evidently my dentist doesn’t do root canals anymore because they make his hands hurt. A tip for you: Anything with the word Specialist = $$$$.

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After making the appointment the endontist’s receptionist told me that it would be a minimum of $250.00… just for them to tell me what’s wrong with the tooth. If I chose to venture out from there and get a root canal, that would be a minimum of $1,500.00 possibly up to $1,750.00. And of course, “your insurance only pays 30% so we ask you to pay $1250.00 up front”. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the crown that I will have to have made to go over that tooth after the root canal. I then need to go back to a regular dentist and pay another minimum $700.00 for the crown because according to the receptionsist, “we don’t do crowns here”. $2,200.00 minimum for one tooth. Considering the cost of dental care, it’s amazing to me that we aren’t a completely toothless nation.

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Of course after being in major pain and living on a diet of ibuprofen for two weeks, there was really no other choice but to get the dreaded root canal. Three hours later, with Novocaine that is laced with adrenaline “so it will work faster and longer”, it was finally done. I dare you to relax during a root canal when they’ve laced your numbing stuff with adrenaline. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. When the gal came in to check on me and asked how I was doing I said, “Well, fine I guess, but my heart is pounding out of my chest and my hands are shaking.” She said, “Oh yeah, that’s the adrenaline in the shots she gave you.”

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On the positive side, she was very good about making sure I felt nothing. She tested my tooth throughout the beginning of the process with a cold procedure to make sure I was sufficiently numb.

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After my appointment I had my son drive me up to a specialty store so I could buy soup that I wasn’t allergic to from their deli. Then I went home, ate, and went to bed relieved that I would no longer be in pain. The next morning…I woke up with a jaw infection. I had a lump on my jaw and my face was swollen and in pain all the way up to my ear. What luck, huh?

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They put me on a strong antibiotic for 7 days which took all of the seven days to take care of the infection and pain. On the heels of that, our son ended up with a terrible cold and flu and needed mom to take care of him. He came over and planted himself on my couch ready and waiting for me to cure him. If he does that, I know he’s very sick.  And let’s be honest, he’s 23 and hasn’t let me mother him in a long time, so while I felt bad for him, I gave myself a high 5 for still being the one he comes to when he’s miserable.


 On the heels of that… we helped him move into his new apartment even though he was still feeling pretty sick. And in the midst of that….I of course caught his cold and flu.


Two weeks ago I was bragging to my doctor that “I never get colds! I haven’t had a cold in at least 10 years!” 

Now, the cold is lingering and the tax on my immune system is causing a Lyme flare. To make matters worse, I woke up with a hideous cold sore on my lip.


My husband now has the sickness. On top of that, we both have some kind of weird muscle spasm and pinched nerve thing going on in our hip and back. Which translates into, “You’re OLD now.”

But we have pie.

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At this point, I’m just trying to focus on the positives:

We have pie. We aren’t dead. We have pie. My tooth no longer hurts. We have pie.

We’re going away for the weekend to get some much needed R & R if we can fix the back pain thing.

Oh, and we have pie.

See you next week!

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Peach Hand Pies

For the crust:

(This recipe makes 4 discs, you will need 2 discs for the hand pies)

5 – 5 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, plus more for rolling

4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tbsps. of Coconut Sugar (if I’m using this for a savory recipe, I only add 1 Tbsp. of sugar)

1 lb. of Spectrum Shortening, I weigh mine on a kitchen scale

1 Egg (beaten with fork in measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with water)

Place 5 cups of Mama’s Almond Flour in large bowl.  I use the spoon in cup method and level with a knife.   Add salt, sugar, xanthan gum, whisk to combine.  Next scoop 1 lb of the shortening onto flour mixture.  I know it sounds like a crazy amount, don’t freak out!  Remember, this recipe makes 4 large pie crusts.  Work the shortening into dough with your hands, sifting through your fingers until the shortening is somewhat combined and the flour resembles loose small pea size (about) pieces. (For pictures to reference on what the dough should look like, see the Apple Galette recipe.)

Next, whisk 1 egg in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with water. Add the egg and water in a well in the center of mixture. Work together with a fork just until mixed. Scoop out onto floured parchment paper. Work it a little, not too much!! (you may need a bit more flour) to form it into a log.

Then cut it into four even sections. After it’s cut I put each section into a ziplock bag and flatten into a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling.

For The Filling:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line one baking sheet with parchment paper

(2 discs of dough make roughly 6 large hand pies – depending on the size of your cutter)

3 Very Ripe Peaches, peeled and sliced, then cubed

Juice of Half a Lemon

About 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Sugar

About 1 Tablespoon of Flour

(For the glaze you will need powdered sugar, dairy free butter, almond extract, and a little water)

Toss ingredients and set aside. Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll dough out. I used a fluted cutter roughly the size of my palm. Place 6 “bottoms” on the parchment lined baking sheet and flatten out and enlarge a bit more slightly with your fingertips. Place about 1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons of peaches in the middle. Next, roll out more dough and cut the tops. Remove the extra dough from around them and enlarge them a little by flattening them out more with your fingertips. With a finger dipped in water, wet the edge of the bottom crust. Then, with a floured spatula, place each “top” over the peaches and press around. Press edges with a for and slit the tops with a sharp knife.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Once the Peach Hand Pies have cooled, put one dollop of glaze on top of each one allowing it to run down the sides (it should be medium thick). Wait 10 minutes and drizzle the tops with glaze in a back and forth motion.