A Walk In The Park & Chocolate Pots De Creme

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. 

4 Comments on “A Walk In The Park & Chocolate Pots De Creme

  1. Thank you for your post. I have RA. Your post is a good reminder to not let symptoms keep you from doing things every day. Getting out and enjoying what is around you helps to take the focus off of the illness.

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    • Hi JoLee!

      It makes such a difference to get out and get some fresh air when possible. It’s far too easy to to just want to sink into yourself sometimes when you’re in pain and not feeling well. It’s better to give chronic illness a poke in the eye every now and then to remind yourself who’s the boss! Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day. 🙂

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  2. Sorry you are feeling the effects of the Lyme disease, April. I do understand. I’ve had Fibromyalgia for 14 years and some of the symptoms are similar. I’ve had to modify my life and learn to set boundaries and to voice them. And you are so right, there are still many things one can enjoy within the limitations of chronic illness. I tried your Buckwheat Bake this week and we enjoyed it. The Chocolate pots look equally tempting! Thank you, and take care.

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    • I’m sorry to hear about the Fibromyalgia! As a side note…there are many LLMD’s (Lyme doctors) who believe that Fibromyalgia is Lyme Disease undiagnosed. It will be nice when they can put more funding toward studying both of these illnesses and come up with a cure. I’m so happy you liked the buckwheat bake! I’m eating a pots de creme as I type this. A little afternoon indulgence. Have a great day! 🙂

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