We are pizza fanatics.
I’m just going to be up front with you and say that my pizza…is my favorite.
We try gluten free pizza often when we go out. In Seattle, in Idaho, in our hometown…but honestly, nothing compares so far to what we make at home.
For some reason, restaurants can’t think out of the Udi’s pizza crust box. Every single time we spend $20 or more each on a gluten free pizza meal at a restaurant, I cannot wrap my mind around how a chef or restaurant owner would be OK grabbing an Udi’s pizza crust out of the freezer and serving it to their customers. Blows. My. Mind.
It’s dull. It’s flavorless. It is as exciting as cardboard on your plate. And don’t even get me started on the tasteless pepperoni, and overcooked sausage. Or the fact that none of these restaurants (even high end) understand that there is a readily available (even locally made!) vast assortment of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses other than the same old stand by, feta.
Every time we eat pizza out, my husband and I spend a large part of our mealtime talking about how we would run a restaurant. From the quality and type of food we would serve, how we would treat our staff, and most importantly, how we would treat our customers. We are serious about customer service and all it entails.
One can dream.
Last weekend we had high hopes for a little local restaurant we found. Outdoor seating (my favorite), smells of fabulous wood fired pizza…turns out, the server and the person making the pizza, weren’t educated about the ingredients in their gluten free crust, or in the pepperoni or their sausage…or even their sauce! We opted out of the meal. I choked down a really bad glass of Riesling and we moved on.
This time however, instead of just opting out, I explained to the server why we decided to eat elsewhere. I told her that it’s my opinion that the servers and the people preparing the food should be well versed with what’s actually in their food. As a person with food allergies, I take a chance every time I eat out. I know that’s my responsibility, but a restaurant with knowledgeable servers and staff, makes me a repeat customer. She ended up being very kind about it, apologetic, and said she would speak to the owner about the entire restaurant becoming better educated. I was happy with her response. We tipped her and left and who knows, maybe in a few months we’ll give them another chance.
Pizza doesn’t have to be complicated for it to taste amazing. I’m all about easy food! Easy or not though, it has to taste fabulous, be a treat for the eyes, and have high quality ingredients. You can use crust mixes or come up with your own crust recipe, but either way, make it unique with all of things you love.
I like to use Chebe Foccacia Bread mix as my base. I add a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, it makes the perfect pizza crust. It’s soft like “regular” pizza crust with crispy crust edges, has great flavor, and gets rave reviews every single time I make it.
Chebe mixes are gluten free, soy free, corn free, rice free, potato free, yeast free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, lactose/casein free, iodine free, sugar free, non GMO, and kosher certified.
Grain Free Pizza
*Makes two 13″ pizzas
2 Boxes of Chebe Focaccia Mix
6 Tablespoons of Non Filtered Organic Olive Oil
4 Large Organic Eggs
1 Cup of Filtered Water
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Basil
1 Tablespoon of Organic Garlic Powder
1 Can of Organic Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup of Vegan Pesto
1/2 Cup of Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese, grated
3 Other Types of Cow Free Cheeses About 1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Each (We used two types of goat mozzarella – low moisture and Brazilian Breakfast and a Dutch Style goat cheese that is similar to sharp white cheddar), grated
About 3 Handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach
1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
About 1/3 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, sliced thinly
About 8-10 Large Organic Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. of Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pepperoni (We have Applegate sliced at the deli)
4 Gluten Free, Dairy Free Hot Italian Sausages (also purchased at our deli)
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano
Arrowroot or other GF flour for dusting hands, dough, and rolling pin.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees
My grain free, dairy free, Garlic & Kalamata Olive Bread was a big hit.
Also, surprisingly versatile.
We had it with the chicken dish I posted last week. We had it with salad, I had some for breakfast one day with some cold chicken, and then I used the last of it to make us these grilled chicken sandwiches.
They were SO good! All of the flavors together really made for a fabulous sandwich. Tony had sharp cheddar and Brazilian Breakfast sheep’s milk cheese on his. I had Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds on mine along with the Brazilian Breakfast. We dipped them in spicy mustard and I have to say, it was the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time.
The bread was sliced generously, so I ended up grilling on both sides twice to get the cheese to melt. Once with the lid on for both sides, and then again with the lid off on both sides to crisp the bread.
The combination of cheeses with the slices of garlic and olives in the bread, along with the chicken was so flavorful.
I also made a simple cucumber salad to go alongside our sandwiches. A crisp and clean salad works very well alongside a heavy sandwich.
A little chopped spinach, sliced cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, red onion, white balsamic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, and a couple grinds of pepper. Easy!
It’s a real treat to have a grilled sandwich loaded with melting cheese when you’re gluten free or grain free, and dairy free.
I’ve found that I can indulge in sheep or goat’s milk cheese a couple of times a month with no issues at all. The Daiya cheese is a nice treat as well. It melts like “real” cheese, although takes a bit longer, and has a pleasant flavor. However, it’s rather unpleasant in its raw form. Combined with the sheep’s cheese, it was excellent!
If you’d like to make the Garlic & Kalamata Olive Bread, you can go here for my recipe.
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.
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?
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.
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.
We were finally able to enjoy a great couple of days last weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
How’s your summer going?
Overall, ours has been great. Hot and sunny, and mostly relaxing, just the way I like it.
In late spring I went on another pulsing dose of antibiotics. I’d been in a flare since November and it had finally gotten to the point where I was at a peak in symptoms. Very unpleasant. Prime pulsing time. So far, pulsing antibiotics rather than long-term antibiotic use works very well at keeping my symptoms at a manageable level.
So after a three week course, I was feeling pretty darn good. Summer was turning out to be gorgeous, my symptoms were manageable, and I was settling in for absorbing every ounce of heat and sun I could, and focusing on feeling good.
A few weeks into summer, I started having little blips on the radar. Like a never ending period. Or numerous ones that kept coming too early. OK, I’m no spring chicken, I know what’s happening. Not a huge deal. I’m old and my uterus is a wrinkled up almond. I get it. Now stop.
Then I started getting hit with multiple day migraines. Serious ones that left me mostly out of commission for consecutive days in a row. Then some serious neck pain.
WHAT is happeninggggggg…..I thought. I’m enjoying my summer, go away!
Then it got so bad, my “I hate to take drugs” self had a conversation with my logical writhing in pain self. Turns out several ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant will help with the neck pain and the headaches. But those muscle relaxants throw me for a loop. Thankfully, I only use those for my big guns and so far I’ve only had to use them a few times.
Then, because of the hormonal issues, the doctor suggested an ultrasound of my uterus. Externally, and internally. Fun stuff.
Turns out I have a cyst on my right ovary and fibroids in my uterus. This could mean all kinds of things. None of which is in the danger zone yet, as far as I know. But it does probably spell out ablation, or hysterectomy.
OK, deep breaths. At this point I’m still thinking…but Lyme-wise, I’m feeling decent, why ALL of this other stuff NOW? I need a break from feeling like crap and worrying about feeling like crap.
And then I broke a molar. Yep.
Oh Murphy’s Law, you are a relentless bastard.
So I had it fixed and the next day, had my teeth cleaned. The dentist even managed to numb half my face and half my tongue, but NOT my tooth. That was fun. Two unpleasant visits to the dentist killed with one stone in a matter of two days. Or so I thought.
Because now, for the last two weeks, all of my teeth have been unbelievably, painfully, sensitive. I’d also bought a new Sonicare toothbrush and started using it right at the same time. Evidently this one is a higher quality than the last one I had and my teeth are now right up there with the horror people talk about after they have their teeth whitened. Like, it hurts to breathe through my mouth.
So I’ve been living on ibuprofen which is terrible for lyme disease because it ruins your gut, and using the strongest de- sensitizing toothpaste I could find. I’m down to one tooth still hurting…the one he worked on. I foresee a dentist appointment in my near future.
Oh, except I called two days ago and the whole office is on vacation for 10 days.
Yesterday I went to have my blood taken for a hormone panel. I brought my mom so she could stay in the air conditioned car with the dogs because it’s hot here and then we would walk them after my “quick” blood draw. I arrived prior to opening, hoping to beat the crowd, but so did seven other people. There was a line outside the door. I signed in and sat out in the hallway where the air conditioning wasn’t set at 20 below zero, as I was dressed in shorts and a tank. Dog walking attire. No make up. Not even showered.
Then, the pity party began. “I can only handle so much Lord. How can you expect me to deal with Lyme, feel sick every day and deal with that, and then just keep adding stuff to my plate? I need a reprieve. I thought that’s what summer was? Clearly my hormones are a mess, do you know what it’s like to have a period 33 days in a row? Non stop. Please make this stop. And now I have to worry about what’s growing in my uterus and on my ovary and why, WHY, is my tooth still hurting? I have been in pain for two years straight with the whole infuriating Lyme thing. It’s exhausting. That dental appointment was $400! If something is really wrong and I need a crown it will be another $1,000 minimum and another visit to one of my top 5 places I hate to go. I hate to spend money on things I hate. What an incredible waste. And he can’t even figure out how to numb my ACTUAL TOOTH! How hard is it? All the xanax in the world can’t prevent fear of THAT. And now I have to see a new gynecologist this week and hope that she’s up on the latest research on bio-identical hormones and isn’t an idiot, and I can feel another Lyme flare looming in the distance. And why haven’t we heard back on the water damage in the trailer? Please, let that be good news and not thousands of dollars of damage. I need a vacation. And why won’t the infection in Romeo’s eyes go away? I’m so worried about him. I’m overwhelmed, this is too much. Lord, help me.”
Right at that moment, a woman about 10 years younger than me walked into the lab, signed in, walked out and straight into the bathroom next to where I was sitting. She closed the door and immediately began sobbing hysterically. I thought, I know first hand what it’s like not to like having a needle in your arm, but this doesn’t sound like that. This sounds serious. I got up and tried the handle. Locked. Must be a single stall. So I sat back down and waited. She was in there sobbing for several minutes.
She came out, walked around the corner where I couldn’t see her and sat at a table by the vending machines.
My internal dialogue was going haywire. “What is happening, why is she so upset? Should I see if she’s OK? What if she’s crazy and I have to deal with that? What if she’s angry and mean? I have enough crazy in my life. I already have enough on my plate. Stop taking on more stuff! Mind your own business. But she sounds so incredibly sad. I want to hug her. She NEEDS a hug, I can feel it. I feel terrible for her. I can’t stand to see people upset and know they’re hurting. What if something terrible has happened? I want her to know that I don’t have to know her to care about her. What if she’s suicidal and I see her in the news tomorrow and I did absolutely nothing? My GOD April, you need to get your hormones under control. She’s all by herself. What an awful feeling. I’m going to jump out of my skin, I have to DO something! All of this thinking is making me sweat. Calm down. God equips us for things like this. If she’s crazy or she gets mad at you, so be it. Don’t turn away.”
So God said, “GO!” And I did.
I asked her if she was going to be OK. And it turned out, she was as equally confused about what to say as I was. She was in the middle of a miscarriage and was there to have her hormone levels checked. She was devastated. I told her that I did worry she’d be mad for the intrusion, but I wanted to make sure that she was going to be OK. I shared that I too had struggled with miscarriages and that I knew exactly what she was feeling and how difficult it is. We agreed that people who haven’t had that sad experience don’t know what to say, and often say the wrong things which makes it all hurt even more. She said all the things we all say to try to get us through it.” It wasn’t planned, God knows what he’s doing, if there’s something wrong with the baby, maybe it’s a good thing, we don’t want it to suffer. Even though it wasn’t planned, we were so excited. We already have two kids (as if you can’t be upset about losing one). But I have so much stress in my life right now, maybe I caused it to happen.”
And secretly, in that inner most sanctum we all have… We’ve wondered if we’re not worthy, if we’re being punished for something. I knew that was what she was thinking, because I’ve lived it. I tried very hard not to cry. And I told her that I have a healthy, 23 year old after a lot of pregnancy issues. It can happen, have faith. And the most important thing to remember: It’s not your fault.
God does have a plan, and we don’t have to understand it for it to work.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
She thanked me. She said, “I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to care about me. That’s not easy for people to do when they see someone upset. I’m so thankful that you came over to talk to me. Thank you so much for your kindness.”
Then, we were both feeling blessed. Because I was reminded that even with all the “stuff” in my life that’s going on right now, I do still have strength. My head is still above water. I’ve been through a lot, yes. But not too much. God is in control…even those of us who believe we have a solid faith need to be reminded of that. And when He says, “GO!” you go.
Love truly is the greatest commandment, because when you love Him, amazing things happen. He gives you the capacity to love back. And when you think you’re stuffed full and He fills your plate with a little more, you’ll be blessed from it. There’s always room for giving love and receiving love. And by doing that, you gain strength to jump another hurdle and face another day.
Pity Party, Averted.
According to Dr. Terry Wahls who healed her Progressive MS with a nutrient dense diet that she specifically designed for her mitochondria and her brain, we should be eating 6-9 cups of leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day. Per DAY. The largest part of our diet should be vegetables. Many people don’t eat 6-9 servings of vegetables in a week.
In fact, here’s a visual of what most American’s yearly diets look like. And don’t let the vegetable category fool you. The most highly consumed vegetables among most Americans are corn and potatoes, which are actually considered a starch, not a vegetable.
Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with MS in 2000, by 2003 she was at stage 2 on heavy duty drugs including chemotherapy to fight the MS. The medications and therapy didn’t help and she continued to get worse. Slowly, each night after seeing patients all day, she began to research and read everything she could get her hands on that involved MS. She started researching vitamins and nutrients that were important to the brain and overall health and began integrating them into her diet. Then, in 2007 she discovered functional medicine and redesigned her diet. She used the knowledge she had from medical school, what she had learned in medical literature, through functional medicine, and through her research of nutrients to design a specific diet where she could get the majority of the nutrients necessary for healing through food. This diet is now called the Wahls Protocol. She was in a reclining wheelchair and headed for a life in bed when she started that diet in 2007. Within one year, she was able to walk through the hospital where she was a physician without a cane, and even complete an 18 mile bicycle tour.
Why do we need such a nutrient dense diet? Why can’t we just pop a few vitamins and continue on with unhealthy eating or eating like “normal”? Well, let’s talk about our mitochondria. According to Harvard Medical School, “In some way, just about every cellular process is linked to mitochondria. Malfunctioning mitochondria have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even resistance to radiation therapy. There’s also a set of rare, inborn metabolic diseases that stem from genetic changes that alter the function of mitochondrial proteins.”
Your mitochondria need a certain type and a certain amount of nutrients to function properly. If your mitochondria isn’t healthy and being fed what it needs to perform its job, then you aren’t healthy either. The mitochondria in your cells manage the energy supply for your cells. Dr. Wahls chooses to get the majority of her nutrients directly from the food she eats. She feels that although we know some things about the benefits of fruits and vegetables to our bodies, we don’t know about all of the benefits we’re getting from eating whole foods. Her theory was why take a supplement with one nutrient or a synthetic form, rather than eat the actual food and get all of the nutrients naturally?
If you haven’t read Dr. Wahls book, I would highly recommend it. Not only is her story quite amazing, it’s inspiring and you’ll learn valuable information about how to feed your body well and heal it naturally.
I have a few different ways I try to integrate as many vegetables as possible into my diet. My favorite routes are via smoothies, salads, and large batches of roasting. All are extremely simple and an excellent way to get multiple servings of vegetables in one meal. I also saute a lot of vegetables for our meals. If we’re eating something that can have a vegetable added, I add it. We eat vegetables with every lunch and every dinner and the majority of our breakfasts. If you’re new to eating large quantities of vegetables, I would start with 1-2 cups a day via salad. Then the next week add a cup and so on until you are able to consume 6-9 cups a day with no intestinal issues. Your body will adapt very quickly. Make big salads and trays of roasted vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy snacking. Keep fresh sliced carrots, celery, broccoli and other vegetables you like in small batches in baggies so they’re easy to grab on the go. 6-9 cups of vegetables may sound like a lot, but over time it will become habit and your body will crave them. In fact, you’ll find yourself on many days easily eating that amount without even a thought about it.
Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch
Organic Red Cabbage
Organic Carrots, unpeeled
Organic Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
Organic Ginger, peeled and sliced
Organic Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
The quantity will depend on how many people you’re serving. But know that if this is my entire lunch meal, I can eat at least 1/3 of a baking sheet of roasted veggies! So if you have people with a big appetite for veggies, it’s always better to make more than you think you’ll need. They refrigerate and re-heat nicely and are also good cold.
Slice vegetables so that they are all relatively the same size. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Load with the veggies, ginger, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt and toss.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes until aldente and fork tender, stirring once . Don’t cook them too much!