Simple Cabbage Salad & Roasted Chicken Lunch

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Once you really focus on cleaning up your diet, it’s very interesting to listen to your body’s cravings. When you remove all the “noise”, like snacking mindlessly and eating to satisfy sugar cravings or your mood, you can hear your body telling you what it really needs. May sound like hocus pocus, but I swear it’s true. Lately for me, it’s cruciferous vegetables, coconut milk kefir, bone broth, and the activated nuts and seeds I made last week.

 I took all grains, legumes, potatoes, eggs, refined sugar, goat and sheep cheese, nuts, and seeds out of my diet a few weeks ago and have recently been adding things in one at a time over several days to see how my body reacts.

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I’m not following any one diet necessarily, other than strictly abstaining from dairy and gluten of course, because I already know I’m allergic to those. I’ve been focusing on getting a minimum of 6 cups of organic colorful vegetables per day, increasing my protein, and increasing the healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. Basically, just trying to eat an extremely nutrient dense diet whenever I can.

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A bit restrictive yes, but when I really feel like eating something on that list (within reason), I do. The downside, or the upside I guess depending on how you look at it, is that now when I do that, I know exactly what foods my body doesn’t like. Before the “extreme clean” of my diet, I was eating those foods a few times a week. When you eat foods that your body is sensitive to on a regular basis and cannot process correctly, there’s no down time for you to understand the signals you’re being sent. Now those signals are blatant. Think of it like this: a clear bowl of fresh water (your clean diet) that you’ve just squeezed a drop of red dye (a re-introduced food) into. If the bowl was full of murky water, the dye would still have an impact, but how would you be able to determine what size of an impact when your body is already struggling to get the “water” clean?

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White potatoes make me swell within an hour, goat cheese gave me a horrible migraine, refined sugar makes my heart pound uncomfortably, makes my ears ring worse and dramatically increases joint pain. I can no longer tolerate nuts and seeds that haven’t been activated. Eggs seem to be OK I think (thank goodness!!). The jury is still out on gluten free grains and seed flours. Buckwheat and quinoa seem to be the friendliest. Digestive enzymes help. Even Paleo breads if I eat them too often cause an increase in joint pain and make me feel sluggish. My body prefers arrowroot over tapioca. I miss rice, but am waiting one more week to give it a try. I would have never been able to root through these symptoms had I not eliminated them for a while and then re-introduced them.

It may seem like a hassle, or a lot of work to do an “extreme clean” of your diet. And I’m not going to lie, you have to be pretty diligent. Truthfully, if I wasn’t having health issues with the Lyme Disease, I would have less motivation to really look at my diet. For me, my diet has a massive impact on how I feel on a daily basis. Trying to avoid the things my body struggles with, allows for easier handling of the LD symptoms and a more enjoyable life for me and everyone around me.

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I can promise you that working hard toward a healthy body and lifestyle whether you have a chronic illness or not is well worth the hassle. The hassle fades quickly and being diligent about your diet becomes a lifestyle choice. You won’t regret it. Understanding the link between how you feel and what you eat is huge. It can determine how you feel physically and emotionally and by understanding that and being mindful of it, you can greatly improve the quality of your life.

Simple Cabbage Salad & Roasted Chicken Lunch

*3-4 Servings

Cabbage Salad:

3 1/2 Cups of Cabbage, sliced thinly (your choice, you could even do greens)

1/4 Cup of Red Onion, sliced very thinly

Juice of 2 Fresh Limes

6 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar (or Pure Maple Syrup)

A Pinch of Ground Ginger (Or 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated)

In a medium bowl whisk the lime juice, EVOO, coconut sugar and ginger until combined and coconut sugar is dissolved, set aside. Slice the cabbage and red onion into a medium bowl and toss with dressing. Refrigerate while chicken is roasting. Toss again before serving.

For the Chicken:

Preheat oven to 350

2 Chicken Breasts

Seasoning of Choice (I used EVOO, sea salt, garlic powder and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle)

Roast for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with the cabbage salad.

Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies & Other Stuff

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Yesterday I had a very productive day. I love those days! The days where you wake up at least somewhat refreshed, have a to-do list that’s pretty ambitious, and actually cross off everything on the list by the time you fall into bed.  I used to have many more productive days than I do now, I was full of energy. Now, not so much, but I can still look on the bright side. There are lessons to be learned from life’s hiccups. Good, joyful, lessons! Not just the painful ones.

Having a chronic illness really makes you view your life differently. Very little is taken for granted. So many tasks and things that never even crossed my mind for most of my life, now can sometimes take a lot of effort and can be very exhausting. The little things that I never paid attention to, are very vivid and have a much greater significance. My time, peace, and happiness is more precious now, as is everyone’s, but we typically don’t pay too much attention to that until some or most of it is being used up by something unpleasant.  That’s all in the lesson, I suppose. Learning to deal with each day that is given to you in the way that it needs to be dealt with, and being OK with that.

Well, after “dealing with each day that was given to me” in the form of a migraine all weekend, I was quite happy to wake up Tuesday morning feeling like I could cope with life without copious amounts of essential oils, ibuprofen, epsom salt baths, and ice bags. Yay!

So off I went with the dogs for a hike. There’s a 552 acre conservation area 2 minutes from our front door. It was foggy and gray so you can’t see much, but I promise I’ll take better pictures on a clear day. You can see beautiful farm land for miles and miles! This is the entrance. My goal is always to head all the way up into the hills and hike up to a water tower that’s up to the left. I’d say it’s about 3 miles round trip depending on which trail you take. Not too difficult, but a nice hike and good exercise.

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This is about half way up, looking down toward the entrance. Takes about an hour and 20 round trip. But I am a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of hiker and had to stop twice to catch my breath on a major incline.

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A few weeks ago after reading through Brittany Angell’s new cook book, Every Last Crumb (we’ll talk about that more in a minute), I purchased some Chestnut Flour. It’s been sitting in my pantry ever since, of course. Last week my husband requested his favorite chocolate chip cookies, but I put him off until this week because I wanted to try to figure out a grain and sugar alternative. So after my hike with the dogs I simply Googled, “Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

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What I found was a recipe SO GOOD I’m pretty sure my world shifted on its axis a little. Perfect taste, perfect texture, perfect moisture. It’s as if chestnut flour was created for chocolate chip cookies. They are that good. I don’t know where James Trenda has been all my gluten-free and Paleo-ish life, but I’m so thankful Google found him for me!

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I used coconut sugar in place of maple sugar, and arrowroot in place of the tapioca because I’m abstaining from tapioca for a while and didn’t have maple sugar on hand. I also weighed all of my ingredients exactly like he advised. The dough will be thick, thicker than you think it should be, but simply press them out a little and all will be well. They are delicious warm or room temperature and are equally good today as they were yesterday.

You can find the recipe for James Trenda’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Paleo Cookies” HERE.

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I am still doing my grain free trial and trying to eat an extremely nutrient dense diet. That means, LOTS of organic vegetables, a good amount of organic grass-fed meats, and a wide variety of colorful organic fruits.

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 I fried up some organic free range chicken liver yesterday, as it’s important to also have organ meats now and then in a nutrient dense diet. I dredged it in a mixture of coconut flour, arrowroot powder, sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and then fried them in avocado oil.

Luckily for me, I love liver. For those of you that think it tastes like an old shoe…the key is not to cook it to death.

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After munching on those fabulous cookies and snacking on fried liver, I focused my attention on baking Brittany Angell’s  Baguettes.

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I keep this cook book on my counter because every day I think, today is the day I’m going to spend all day baking Brittany’s goodies. Which of course is wishful thinking, but one recipe every now and then is cool too. If you don’t have her new cook book, you need it. It is the grain free baking bible and I promise, her recipes will blow your mind.

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You can find it online and at select book stores for around $25 and it’s only $9.99 for your Kindle. It is worth every single penny and then some.

Eating “Paleo” has its controversies and people will argue back and forth about what a real Paleo diet looks like. My opinion is that your diet should “look like” what makes you feel healthy and heals your body. Who cares what it’s called or whether you eat legumes or quinoa, brown rice, or potatoes, or no grains at all and live on kale?  The important thing is that you figure out what’s wreaking havoc on your gut and get that out of your diet. Then, add in nutrient dense foods that will heal your gut biome and change the way you feel for the better. If you need to abstain from grains for a while or even forever, along with other inflammatory foods, it’s a Godsend to be able to have a piece of bread or baked item every now and then that won’t make you feel like hell.

That’s where Brittany Angell’s, “Every Last Crumb” comes to the rescue.

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Thanksgiving Afterglow

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Ahhh…nothing quite like the holiday afterglow.

The past week has been an absolute whirlwind. All of the photos in this post are courtesy of my phone…so bear with me, I think it’s been dropped 100 too many times.

The dogs are basking in the afterglow as well.

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I threw caution to to the wind this year and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Perk #10,452 of being an adult. I also got a head start on wrapping gifts. I am on the ball!

This is our Woodland themed tree in the family room. This year we’ll have two trees…but more about that in a bit.

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Romeo had surgery last week to remove a tumor from his cheek. We were so thankful to find out that it was benign.

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I would have to say that Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday meal.

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Lots of dairy free better, sea salt, and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle

An organic turkey from Organic Prairie, pricey but worth every penny. Lots of dairy free butter, sea salt, and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

There are few things better than stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Are you pro giblet or anti giblet?

Neck and "parts" simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

Neck and “parts” simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

I admit though, the Thanksgiving meal is my least favorite to prepare. I honestly have no idea how my grandma cooked for so many people for most of my life. Definitely a labor of love. I cooked for 4 people. Only four. By the end of dinner the kitchen looked like I cooked for an army.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi's bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi’s bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. To. Die. For. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth...and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth…and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

It took two days of preparation and cooking, about 45 minutes of eating, and two hours of clean up. Clean up is the point where I think every person who hosts Thanksgiving wishes they had hired kitchen help. Imagine if you had someone there for those two days of prep who did nothing but clean and do dishes. Heavenly!

Organic sweet potatoes or yams...depending on where you're from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then back with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

Organic sweet potatoes or yams…depending on where you’re from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then bake with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

This is Brittany Angel's Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You'll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it's worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

This is Brittany Angel’s Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You’ll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it’s worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

Rolled out like "real" pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

Rolled out like “real” pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It's a basic pumpkin recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It’s a basic pumpkin pie recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk. I would also add coconut sugar to the crust.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

All in all, Thanksgiving turned out very well.

And of course, the absolute best part was being back in our home town and being able to celebrate and visit with family. And for that, we will be forever thankful.

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On Friday we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, hit Starbuck’s and take the dogs for a walk.

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Still so thankful for the wide open spaces here at home.

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New Hampshire has a dense forested beauty all its own, but boy did we miss the mountains and pine trees of Washington.

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Nothing quite like your fur babies peering over the edge of a cliff to wake you from your turkey fog.

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 Yesterday we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to head to Camden Ranch and cut tree number two.

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Perk #10,453 of being an adult…you can have as many Christmas trees as you want. Cutting our tree at Camden Ranch was our tradition for many years until we moved to New Hampshire for the past two years. It’s hard to believe that last year we were 3,000 miles from here cutting our Christmas tree in Maine!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Their property is huge and there are thousands upon thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

Their property is huge and there are thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road...sometimes not an easy feat! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road…sometimes not an easy feat when you’re carrying an 11 foot tree! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don't want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don’t want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing. They were very sweet and helpful with advice on which wreath would look the best with the color of our front door.

Right here in their gorgeous "barn" where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

Right here in their gorgeous “barn” where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

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I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point...ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point…ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

 I may regret having two trees when it comes time to put everything away, but for now, they’re gorgeous and add so much Christmas spirit to the house.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

After getting the tree arranged and the lights on last night we decided we’d made it to the end of our energy and would finish decorating it today.

I made a quick meal to tide us over until morning and we spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the fire watching movies.

Chebe Foccacia Mix (Paleo), vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

Chebe Foccacia Mix, vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, Diaya cheddar, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

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And finally, some rest and relaxation. Romeo has made it clear he doesn’t want me getting up and going anywhere.

Lastly, one of the many things I’m thankful for is you! I am thankful you enjoy the blog and are always so kind and supportive!

Hope you have a restful, wonderful, week ahead that is full of blessings and endless reasons to give thanks.

Smoky Honey Habanero Chicken & Apple Cabbage Salad

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The evenings are getting shorter and I’m running out of photography light. I’m going to have to start getting creative. In the past I’ve researched lighting equipment and the “how-to’s” for making my own light boxes. But because I do this blog purely for fun and relaxation, I hate to get too serious about such things.

As we head into winter, you may have to endure some drab photography until I find my lighting sweet spot in this house.

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I bought three types of Spiceologist rubs from our local farmer’s market this summer. Smoky Honey Habanero, Raspberry Chipotle, and Greek Freak.

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I’ve used all but the Raspberry Chipotle, and although I think they are lacking in flavor just on their own, they’re quite good with a few simple additions.

Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season well with sea salt and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle. Coat both sides of the chicken generously with the Smoky Honey Habanero rub. Wait for the olive oil to absorb it and repeat. Finish with another generous seasoning of sea salt.

Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season both sides well with sea salt and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle. Coat both sides of the chicken generously with the Smoky Honey Habanero rub. Wait for the olive oil to absorb it and repeat. Finish with another generous sprinkle of sea salt.

The sweet and tangy salad balanced out the hot and spicy flavors of the chicken very well.

Sliced red cabbage, chopped apple, diced onion, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

Sliced red cabbage, chopped apple, diced red onion, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

1/2 Cup of olive oil mayo, juice of 1 fresh lemon, 2 generous pinches of coconut sugar, several grinds of pepper.

1/2 Cup of olive oil mayo, juice of 1 fresh lemon, 2 generous pinches of coconut sugar, several grinds of pepper. Whisk until combined.

Thinly slice a half a head of red cabbage. Core and chop one small apple, and dice about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of red onion.

Thinly slice a half a head of red cabbage. Core and chop one small apple, and dice about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of red onion. Add it all to a large mixing bowl along with 2 Tablespoons of sunflower seeds, 2 Tablespoons of raisins, and toss well to coat with dressing. Spoon into a serving bowl and chill in refrigerator while chicken grills.

Heat grill to 300 degrees and grill chicken bone side down for 20 minutes.

Heat grill to 300 degrees and grill chicken bone side down for 20 minutes with lid closed.

Move chicken pieces to the middle of the grill skin side down, or wherever your grill is protected from the flame. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Grill for another 10-12 minutes or until skin is crisp.

Move chicken pieces to the middle of the grill skin side down, or wherever your grill is protected from the flame. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Grill for another 10-12 minutes or until skin is crisp. If you get too much flame up, grill with lid open and increase cooking time.

A very simple dinner with amazing flavors. We loved the balance of the hot and spicy chicken with the sweet and tangy salad.

Stuffed & Grilled Pork Tenderloin

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We had a bit of a catastrophe last night…

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We went grocery shopping, then out to dinner.

What’s so horrible about that you might ask?

Well, when we got home our son was here. He and I had purchased a special gift for Tony as a “back to work surprise”.

Still not seeing what is such a catastrophe, right?

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Brandon greeted us at the door and we all went in the house.

I was distracted, and Tony was distracted…and Brandon had no idea we had groceries in the back of the car, so even though he has a young, vibrant brain, he didn’t know to remind us.

We all visited and looked at Tony’s gift and enjoyed our time together.

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Brandon left, I headed to the bathtub with a book, and Tony went to bed to watch a bit of sports.

Not even an inkling that something was amiss.

Nothing.

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At 6:00 AM this morning, it suddenly occurred to me.

Oh no. No, no, no! We didn’t! 

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Yes we did.

I was mortified.

What was even more mortifying was that evidently my short-term memory is shot because I couldn’t even remember what perishables we had purchased as I bolted into the garage. I was thinking, “just vegetables, right??”

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But trust me, it all came screaming back to me as I un-bagged the groceries.

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Organic eggs and several types of organic meat. Along with a not so cheap dairy free cheese.

All thrown into the garbage.

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Normally, I would have probably just put it all in the freezer and not worried about it, minus the eggs of course. But we are having unseasonably hot weather and even our garage stays steamy.

I just couldn’t do it. It was all very warm. 

The last thing we need is food poisoning.

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So off to the store I went… again… to purchase the same perishable items. Scolding myself for being so ridiculously and easily distracted the entire time I was shopping.

I even tattled on myself to the cashier. Who was like 12 of course, and really didn’t see the absolute horror in throwing away very expensive, organic items. 

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Such a waste in so many ways.

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Sigh.

Lesson learned. 

Stuffed & Grilled Pork Tenderloin

1 Pork Tenderloin, organic if you can find it (which more often than not, splits in two loins upon opening)

About 1 Cup of Chopped Organic Spinach

About 1/4 Cup Chopped Organic Red Onion

About 4-5 Organic Crimini Mushrooms, Chopped

2 Large Organic Cloves of Garlic, Diced

About 1/2 Cup of Goat or Sheep’s Milk Cheese Grated or Crumbled, use your favorite

Organic Olive Oil

Himalayan Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

Skewers (lots)

Butterfly the tenderloin pieces. Mine ended up being kind of a disaster, they were not cooperative. Chop and dice the vegetables and garlic. Layer on top of the tenderloin. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper generously. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. If you’re able to roll your tenderloin, roll it closed and secure with the skewers. I wasn’t able to so I just closed mine up like a taco, worked fine. Drizzle with more olive oil, season again generously with salt and pepper and the Bragg seasoning.

Heat grill to 375 degrees and grill until done.  About 10 minutes on each side. I like mine pink (or medium rare), you can grill it longer of course, but not too long!

Remove from grill. Let it rest about 10 minutes and slice. Serve with roasted, seasoned, potatoes.

 

A Walk In The Park & Chocolate Pots De Creme

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How was your weekend? Hopefully it was filled with fun and relaxation. We originally had plans for company but had to cancel because I’ve been feeling under the weather. I couldn’t muster the energy to entertain a house full of people. Typically unlike me because I love that kind of thing, but Lyme Disease changes the rules now and then. I’ve had to learn how to reconsider plans and be honest when I don’t think my energy level is up to certain activities. Doing that without feeling weird and guilty is harder than you would think!

Nishinomiya Japanese Garden ~ Manito Park

Nishinomiya Japanese Garden ~ Manito Park

When I’m having an illness flare up, energy is hard to come by and being bombarded with flu-like symptoms and joint pain make it difficult to visit or do anything but mill around the house and rest. But thankfully, by Sunday I was feeling a little better and wanting  to get out of the house for some fresh air regardless of some lingering symptoms.

The Japanese Gardens symbolize a friendship between our home town and Nishinomiya Japan.

The Japanese Gardens symbolize a friendship between our home town and Nishinomiya Japan.

Lyme flare ups can last anywhere from a couple of days to weeks, to months, and for some people, even years. It’s unsettling, because it’s not like the flu or a cold which you’re pretty much assured will be completely resolved in a week. So when I have a flare up I have to try really hard not to listen to that panicked voice that tries to tell me I could feel like that forever.

There's a huge Koi pond in the middle of the Japanese Gardens.

There’s a huge Koi pond in the middle of the Japanese Gardens.

Luckily, I also have that other voice that has the need to fight it and only give it enough acknowledgement for a very hot shower, some essential oils for nausea, and a potent anti-inflammatory. Maybe some vertigo stretches and possibly a neck massage from my husband. Then I give it the middle finger, and I plan something to do. Even if it’s just that I muster enough energy for a small walk with the dogs to get some fresh air and remind myself there’s a world going on outside of my head.

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People with chronic illnesses often have some level of feeling sick and gross every day. I am in that boat, but I’ve gotten used to it and unless I’m having a major flare up, I can usually get past it and typically no one is the wiser. Once I got up and moving on Sunday and drank one of my favorite healthy smoothies, I had talked myself and my husband into a relaxing and beautiful walk at Manito Park with the dogs.

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I realized when we moved to NH that I took pictures of all kinds of local, interesting, places, but had very rarely done that in our home town! Nothing like moving away for a couple of years to help you to appreciate the beauty in your own backyard.

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I’ve found that a chronic illness also helps you to appreciate all kinds of things that are so easily taken for granted. Even the tiniest of things, like a walk in the park and this beautiful scenery.

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So anyhoo, we’re still having absolutely fantastic weather for September. 89 degrees! I can’t remember a time when we had consistent summer weather throughout September. It’s been a wonderful, long, season. And thoroughly enjoyed I might add, without the horrific bug population we had in New Hampshire.

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At the park we strolled, and looked at flowers, and smelled the roses in the rose garden.

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Without even bending down to smell the roses the entire garden was filled with all types of heady scents.

My iPhone does not do it justice.

My iPhone does not do it justice.

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We strolled, and smelled, and soaked in the late summer sun…and  tried to keep the dogs from chasing squirrels. Romeo at one point didn’t even care that he was on leash. Good thing he has a strong neck and Tony has a strong shoulder. After that episode the extendo leash became a short leash.

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A small outdoor cafe to grab a snack or a bite to eat for lunch.

A small outdoor cafe to grab a snack or a bite to eat for lunch.

The other half of the park which includes an enormous duck pond, picnic areas, and play areas for children was being worked on. The pond was being drained and reinforced. We’ll have to show you pictures of that area next spring.

Here’s a picture of the pond I found online.

Photo courtesy of Sondahl.com

Photo courtesy of Sondahl.com

Even the storage cottages are beautiful.

Even the storage cottages are beautiful.

There’s a large greenhouse which does not allow pets so I couldn’t take you in there on this visit. It’s really something to see and experience. They have all types of flowers and plants and there are even plants that have been there since I was a child. They decorate for the holidays and do seasonal flowers as well. And the smell…just heavenly. I’ll have to make sure to post pictures during the holidays.

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Here’s a peek into the greenhouse I found online.

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A very large perennial and butterfly garden.

A very large perennial and butterfly garden behind the greenhouse.

After the beautiful stroll through the park we went to a local grocery store/deli/cafe in that same are of town for a few groceries and some soothing hot soup and antipasto salad for lunch. We ate in the car because we certainly could not leave the dogs in the car in the heat and we were so hungry I forgot to take pictures of the food! Once home the husband went straight to the television to watch the Seahawk’s and Broncos play and I tried to figure out something easy we could have later for dinner and dessert. Dinner was flat bread pizza made with Chebe Focaccia Mix. So good and easy. I order it by the case on Amazon. They sell GF DF (and they are Paleo), mixes.  If you go to the recipe area on their website you can find all kinds of delicious ideas and ways to tweak their recipes to fit your needs.

Make the mix according to the directions (minus the cheese), add a Tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, and a couple teaspoons of dried garlic. Roll out flat onto a pizza pan. Pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes, add your favorite toppings, and bake for 20 minutes.

Make the mix according to the directions (minus the cheese), add a Tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, and a couple teaspoons of dried garlic. Roll out flat onto a pizza pan. Pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes, add your favorite sauce toppings, and bake for 20 minutes. Our toppings were tomato paste with herbs, vegan pesto, Diaya cheddar “cheese”, spinach, crumbled sheep feta, GF DF spicy sausage, red onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, goat mozzarella, and GF DF pepperoni.

Dessert was the most simple chocolate pots de creme ever. I mean seriously, maybe 7 minutes prep and then two hours to set in the fridge.

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I adapted the Food Network’s recipe for Chocolate Pots De Creme to fit my allergen needs. I love how versatile coconut milk can be. This pudding turned out incredibly creamy and rich.

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I was amazed by the whipped coconut cream. This is the first time I’ve used this brand, and it whipped up exactly like regular heavy cow’s cream. In the past when I’ve tried to make coconut whipped cream it’s been a struggle to get it to hold together.

This is a picture of the whipped cream on the 2nd day. It settled only a tiny bit and was still fluffy and creamy. So impressed with it!

This is a picture of the whipped cream on the 2nd day. It settled only a tiny bit and was still fluffy and creamy. So impressed with it!

There’s a lot of little things in life out there waiting to be appreciated that we often take for granted. Even when you’re feeling under the weather it’s possible to focus on the positive and enjoy whatever little adventures the days bring.  I’d say that even though our weekend hadn’t ended up as planned, it still turned out to be enjoyable and delicious.

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Chocolate Pots De Creme

1 -10 ounce Bag of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life)

3 Cups of Full Fat Coconut Milk (Native Forest Unsweetened Coconut Milk-Classic)

6 Large Organic Egg Yolks

5 Tablespoons of Coconut Crystals (or granulated sugar or powdered sugar but it won’t be low glycemic)

1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso granules (I use decaf)

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Place the chocolate in a blender. Whisk the milk, 3 cups of coconut milk, egg yolks, coconut sugar, coffee granules, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula and almost boiling, 5 to 6 minutes.

Immediately pour the milk mixture over the chocolate in the blender. Let it sit for about 3-4 minutes. Cover and hold the lid with a thick kitchen towel; blend until combined and smooth. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins or small cups and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

For the Coconut Milk Whipped Cream: 

Two cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I used the Native Forest) Refrigerated for at least 2 hours

2-3 teaspoons of Coconut Crystals 

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

Open the cans of coconut milk carefully and scoop out ONLY the solid coconut at the top of each can into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mine went about 1/3 of the way into the can. (Save the coconut water for smoothies!) Turn the mixer on medium high and whip until it starts getting thick. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the sugar is melted, maybe one minute or less. I put leftovers in the fridge and it remained set up and hadn’t separated at all the next day when we had a second helping. This is perfect for making ahead when having guests. 

Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Quinoa

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Yes, I know. Quinoa is considered a grain.

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The internet says this, “Quinoa, a species of goosefoot, is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.”  

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

After reading this, I have no bloody idea what quinoa is. (Read in English accent, it will make you laugh.)

Grain, seed, grass, pseudocereal?

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper. I do mine on foil because I don’t like to have a fishy grill.

Who knows.

All I know is that it made a very tasty bed to lay my salmon on, and I’m thankful for that.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been soaked up.

After being off of grains for a several weeks now, I’m not entirely convinced that grains were leading to more joint issues for me. I’ve eaten rice twice and had one adverse reaction. Both times were at two different restaurants. The first time was a small Asian restaurant near us that “swears” the dishes I order are gluten free. However, the last two times we’ve eaten there, even prior to going grain free it made me sick. Achey, major migraine headache, etc.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

The second time I had grains during my grain free trial was a few days ago at PF Chang’s. We ordered off of their gluten free menu and every- single-thing, was fabulous. I wish I would have taken pictures for you!

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

But long story short, I had zero reaction to that food and ate probably a half a cup of brown rice along with gluten free condiments, seasonings, etc. So I’m guessing the restuarant near us, is not as gluten free as they claim to be.

Toss until it's all wilted.

Toss until it’s all wilted.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

The possible silver lining to this food allergy cloud is that I may be able to enter grains (occasionally) back into my diet with no adverse effects.

We’ll see.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve been very truthful about how I feel about the whole grain free and Paleo “thing”. It’s annoying to say the least. And so far during this grain free trial, I notice the blanched almond flour bothers my joints more than anything. Yesterday we had paleo pasta made with almond flour (I’ll post a review soon) and paleo chocolate chip cookie dough made with almond flour. I felt terrible when I woke up this morning. Swollen, painful, hands and knees, headache, puffy. The typical allergy response to something your body doesn’t care for.

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At first when I went off of the grains I noticed a major difference in joint swelling and pain. However, the main flour I was using was Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour. There are other ingredients as well, so I just assumed it was the rice and the thought that I may possibly be bothered by almonds never even crossed my mind. I guess I’ll never know for sure until I’m tested. Another thing to go on the “to-do” list when we are properly insured.

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So I’ll start experimenting a little at a time. A healthy, happy, food balance is all I’m looking for.

Aren’t we all!