Stray Thought Thursday – Stepping Out Of Survival Mode


Welcome to Stray Thought Thursday, a new addition to the blog! Every now and then I’ll be posting about health and lifestyle information, subjects we talk about behind the scenes in your messages (anonymously of course) that I think would be helpful to others, and just some stray thoughts I think you may find helpful or interesting. If there’s something specific you’d like me to focus on in one of my Stray Thought Thursday posts, shoot me a message and I’ll do my best! 

Stepping Out of Survival Mode

Ever feel like you get caught in that endless loop of survival? I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Some of us more than others. Or maybe you’re so caught up in the mode, you don’t realize that’s what you’re experiencing? Slowing down causes reflection and reflection makes you think. That kind of slow living and deep thinking comes with a lot of emotions and baggage attached. So you stay busy instead. Busy, busy, BUSY, until your body, finally out of sheer disgust with you says, “Enough is enough!”

Commence crash and burn.

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Survival mode usually starts because we’re burning the candle at both ends, juggling too much, or there’s an undercurrent of worry or fear running in the background about one thing or another that we dread dealing with. It’s all about control, isn’t it? Fear of lack of control or fear of too much control over things we don’t want control over. When we’re sick, overworked, injured, dealing with life issues –  we don’t want to give in to it so we push further when we should be resting. When we’re upset, that feeling is uncomfortable so we distract ourselves – social media, food, Netflix, friends, hobbies, or we disconnect from the world. When something needs to be addressed but communication is an issue with that person, we cram it down not wanting to rock the boat and add more stress to our lives – which of course, has the same result if not worse in the long run. On the flip side, when certain issues arise whether they’re ours to own or not, we jump into fix it mode because the reality of just living with the outcome of no solutions to a problem – are often hard to wrap our minds around.

Any of this sound familiar? You don’t have to have major issues going on in your life to get caught up in survival mode. Maybe there’s just a consistent stream of little things running like a current under the surface that wear you down?

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Survival mode inevitably starts to feel like running around with a back pack full of all the heavy stuff.  Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion, and dread. You lug that pack everywhere with you even though the straps are digging into your shoulders, your back is sweating, and the weight of it is pulling you backward. You shower with it, work with it, relationship with it, eat with it, and go to bed with it. When more things to deal with pile on, you simply unzip it and stuff them in to handle at “a later date” weighing you down further.

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That backpack also comes with your special hiking frenemy – nervous energy. Let’s call it Zippy. Zippy is fueled by stress, nightly tossing and turning, rash decisions, refined sugar, and too much caffeine or booze or both – all the things you know break your body down, but Zippy talks you into anyway. Initially Zippy makes you feel like a rock star, cheering you on with that buzz of energy. “You’ve GOT THIS! No problem. You can handle THIS!” Zippy runs alongside convincing you that you’re just fine with that pack… that will eventually bring you to your knees.

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You’re on Zippy’s high until suddenly you’re not, and that bottoming out is a harsh one. You crash and burn on that trail to nowhere. The straps finally split from the weight of everything you’ve been avoiding and you’re left with bloody shins, bruised knees, and scraped up palms.

That’s when you’re reminded Zippy is more enemy than friend. You try to stand up but you’re legs feel like wet noodles and you’re drenched in the sweaty stench of bad decisions. Wired and tired, exhausted but jumpy, you realize you’ve been duped. There you are, swirling around at the bottom of, “Why do I do this to myself?”

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Where do you go from there? First, Zippy and everything it promotes, gets the boot. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, Zippy!

Mindfulness is where we need to be focused every waking moment of every day in order to avoid the survival mode trap. Aware of our diets, how much movement we’re getting, how we are feeling about our mushy insides that we try so hard to protect, what messages are running through our heads behind the scenes, the state of our relationships and friendships, and most importantly, awareness about where we are in life. Are we experiencing joy? Peace? Fulfillment? Health? Are we voicing our gratefuls every day? There is no such thing as the perfect life in every area,  but if you can’t say yes to all of those questions above on at least a semi regular basis – you’re in survival mode and your one and only fantastic life, isn’t being lived.

I know, I hear you!  Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing you need to be more mindful. It’s such a trendy buzz word these days. We’re so used to seeing it on our path  we just jump right over it on our way to bad decisions. If ‘mindfulness’ bothers you, we can switch it out with Awareness, or Watchfulness, or my personal favorite found on – Gingerliness!

Let’s go through life Gingerly shall we?

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The definition of gingerly is ‘with great care or cautious manner; delicately‘. Let’s do life with great care. Great care by paying attention to what serves our health and spiritual well-being, even when we are in the midst of ongoing stress, a seemingly impossible situation, or a crisis. Let’s remember to stay on track no matter what life throws at us large or small. Let’s do life with a cautious manner by avoiding negative old patterns of escapism and survival mode. By ditching unhealthy relationships – unhealthy foods and eating patterns- unhealthy choices – and ALL situations that do not serve us or the ones we love, our goals, or our health.

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Let’s live life delicately. Taking deep breaths, being truly present, minimizing chaos, seeking things to be grateful for, responding to life rather than reacting, speaking from the heart, learning how to let go, ditching validation, and filling our cups with the exact opposite of just surviving.

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 Repeat after me, “I will live my one life with great care. With a cautious manner, paying attention to what feeds me and makes me whole, physically and spiritually. I will live – gingerly“.

You were not created to live life in survival mode.

Blessings of peace to you ~ Gluten Free Zen

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All photos taken by me in the beautiful Methow Valley. 

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

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These gluten free and dairy free rolls are my all time favorite! Everything about them from texture to taste is perfect thanks to My Gluten Free Kitchen. I’ve been using Michelle’s recipe for several years and it never disappoints! They are delicious with dairy free butter, jam, dipped in soup or stew or gravy, used as a sandwich bun, and I’ve even sliced them and popped them in the toaster for breakfast.

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Gluten-Free Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

(One batch recipe makes 9 rolls, if you want to double it you’ll need to also increase the flour by 1/4 – 1/2 cup)

2 3/4 Cups Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons of SAF Instant Yeast

1/4 Cup Sugar (I have also used coconut sugar but it darkens the color of the rolls)

1 1/2 teaspoon of Salt (I use sea salt & add 1/2 teaspoon to her original 1 teaspoon)

1 Cup of Warm Water

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter (I use Earth Balance Soy Free)

1 Egg

1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

In the mixing bowl of your electric mixer, mix together flour, xanthan gum, instant yeast, sugar, and salt. With mixer running on low speed, add in the water, melted butter (or substitute), egg, and cider vinegar. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. The batter will be very soft. 

Spray 8″ or 9″ round cake pan or pie plate with cooking spray. Using a 2″ scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop dough into 9 mounds in the pan. I place one mound in middle, then scoop 8 mounds of dough side by side all the way around the pan.

Dip your fingertips into warm water and use to smooth out the tops of the rolls, continuing to wet fingers as needed. Cover with a dry towel (I spray a sheet of plastic wrap and lay that lightly over the rolls with a towel on top) and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes to 1 hour.

During the last few minutes that the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 400°. Bake in 400° oven for 26-28 minutes. Tops should be golden brown and if you measure temperature of dough, it should measure 200°. Brush rolls with additional 1/2-1 Tablespoon of melted butter (I omit this step).

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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This casserole is very easy to make and you can use any combination of cheeses, herbs, and seasonings you like. I went with goats and sheep’s milk cheeses because cow dairy doesn’t agree with me. I also omitted the typical sour cream in a potato casserole for obvious reasons but after some thought, have decided the next time I make this that I’ll try a home made high fat dairy free plain yogurt and see how that works as a stand in for sour cream. I’ll let you know!

There are also other potato options you could try. You can use packaged frozen hashed browns if you don’t want to go through the process of baking the potatoes first and then scooping out the filling. I’ve also seen recipes where they cube and bake the potatoes. I like mine to seem more like a mashed potato casserole with some chunky potato texture, so I prefer to use baked potatoes and do a light mash.

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Even though I forgot to take pictures of everything coming out of the oven and the food on the table on Easter, I did manage a shot of the table and a shot of a little bit of all of the leftovers the next day. Next time I’ll have to write myself a note to remember to take food photos!

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I absolutley love 2nd day leftovers for breakfast, and clearly that morning my priority was the cherry fluff.

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Twice Baked Potato Casserole

10 Large Russet Potatoes Washed and Wrapped in Foil, baked

About 3/4 Cup Dairy Free Milk, heated (I used diluted full fat coconut milk)

3 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced or grated

3 Tablespoons of Mixed Herbs (I used oregano, rosemary, and a little thyme)

3 Heaping Cups of Cheese (I used goat cheddar, goat gouda, and Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese)

5 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper to taste

6 Slices of Crispy Bacon

1/2 Cup of Green Onions, sliced

Bake and cool the potatoes. Scoop potato meat out of skins into a large bowl. Add the heated coconut milk and 3 Tablespoons of butter and lightly mash the potatoes.

Spray a 13×9 inch casserole dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fold in the 3 heaping cups of cheese, the garlic and herbs, and season generously with sea salt and ground pepper. Dollop the top with the 5 Tablespoons of butter. Transfer to the casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes. While the casserole is baking, slice the onions and fry the crispy bacon (or you could prepare the bacon the day ahead like I did).

Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the onions and bacon. 

Cherry Fluff Salad

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I made this for Christmas with cranberries and with cherries for Easter and it got rave reviews both times. Everyone loves a traditional “fluff” salad that takes us back to holiday meals at Grandma’s house.

Cherry Fluff Salad

16 ounces of Pitted Dark Cherries, thawed & drained

8 ounce can of Crushed Pineapple, drained

1 Cup of Sugar

2 Cups of Mini Marshmallows

6 ounces of Soft Goat or Sheep’s Milk Cheese

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

2 Cups of Sweetened Vanilla Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (I make this the night before so it has time to really chill and set up. Some coconut water will separate, just pour it off before folding the whipped cream into the other fluff ingredients)

Chop the thawed, drained, cherries and toss them in a small bowl with the drained pineapple and 1 cup of sugar, chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Drain off excess juice.

While the fruit is chilling, bring the goat cheese to room temperature. Beat the cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1 TBS of sugar until smooth and fluffy. 

Remove the coconut milk whipped cream that’s been in the fridge chilling over night and drain off excess coconut water. Fold the cheese and whipped cream together carefully. Don’t overwork it. Fold in the fruit mixture and marshmallows and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Easter Breeze

2018-03-31 15.35.06Easter weekend has come and gone and still, our typically warm spring is nowhere to be found! At least the Robins have arrived so we there’s some guarantee that warmer weather is around the corner.

We were hoping to have our Easter meal, or at least cocktails out on the patio with a nice fire this year but the weather didn’t cooperate. But high winds and a nip in the air didn’t stop me from going ahead with a fun spring cocktail.

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Easter Breeze

2 Large Whole Pineapples (peeled & juiced or you can use store bought pineapple juice – about 20 ounces)

15 ounces of Organic Pure Cranberry Juice

2 Limes (one for rim slices and one sliced for the cocktail mix)

15 ounces of Ciroc Vodka (more or less depending on how strong you like your cocktails)

Sparkling Apple Cider

Sea Salt & Sugar For Glass Rims

Make this cocktail mix the night before serving so the flavors have time to come together. Juice the pineapple and add the cranberry juice, lime slices, and vodka. Refrigerate over night. Rim the cocktail glasses with the sugar and sea salt mixture and a slice of lime. Fill the glass 3/4 full and top with a little sparkling apple cider.

Had to have a little taste test before the mix went into the fridge for the night.

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Pomegranate Crunch Salad

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Well, in true form I forgot (once again) to take photos of all of the Easter food when it hit the table. I did take some photos as I was going along on IG and did a few Stories, but as for “professionally” staged and delicious looking photos…I’m sorry to say there aren’t any. So bear with me on my next few blog posts as I present to you pictures of leftovers so that I can at least get the recipes we love to you and you have an idea of what they look like. The leftover photos don’t do them justice of course, but I can promise you that I never share anything with you that I don’t absolutely love.

Pomegranate Crunch Salad

1 Package of Brussels Sprouts, bottoms trimmed, peeled, and sliced (About 2 Cups)

1 1/2 Cups of Red Cabbage, thinly sliced then cut in half

1/2 Cup of Parsley, chopped

1/2 Cup of Green Onion, chopped

1 Large Honey Crisp or Gala Apple, cored and cubed

1/2 Cup of Pomegranate Seeds

(For The Dressing)

1 Avocado

Zest of 1 Large Lemon

Juice of 1 Large Lemon

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil Mayo

1/2 Cup of Fresh Parsley

1 Small Knob of Fresh Ginger

2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Raw Honey

A Few Grinds of Pepper

Pinch of Sea Salt

Toss all of the salad ingredients together and chill while making the dressing. In a blender or NutriBullet, add all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing and let chill for 1 hour before serving. 



Cranberry Pepita Bread

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This makes a really delicious, dense, loaf of semi-sweet bread. My husband doesn’t like nuts in his food so I had it all to myself. He really missed out!

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One day I had it with breakfast topped with dairy free butter and raw honey. The next day I toasted it and topped it with sliced avocado. The other afternoon I was craving something sweet so I toasted it and topped it with dairy free butter and a little bit of raspberry jam. Another day, I ate it plain with a salad. It’s very versatile. And of course, you can add any fruit and nut/seed combo you like. Or all fruits or all nuts, or chocolate, or dried ginger, you could add cacao to the recipe to make it really dark and chocolaty, or you could also lower the coconut sugar and make it savory with herbs and garlic.

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It’s egg free, grain free, refined sugar free, and dairy free. I’m going to work on more egg free, limited ingredient breads over the next couple of months. Most of us with food allergens have the basics on hand but I really love a simple, delicious recipe that we can whip up easily whenever we get the craving.

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Cranberry Pepita Bread

2/3 Cup of Arrowroot

1 Cup of Chestnut Flour

3/4 Cup of Coconut Flour

2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

3 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 teaspoons of Cinnamon

3 Tablespoons of Active Yeast

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

3 Tablespoons of Grass Fed Gelatin

1 Cup of Warm Water

1 Tablespoon of Vinegar

1 Cup of Organic Dried Cranberries

1/2 Cup of Raw Pepitas

(You’ll need parchment paper and a dutch oven for this recipe.)

Cut two pieces of parchment to line a medium bowl and set aside.

In an electric mixer whisk the arrowroot, chestnut flour, coconut flour, xanthan, baking powder, coconut sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, and yeast to combine. Work the butter through until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Measure the cup of water and add the gelatin into the water mixing quickly with a fork so it doesn’t clump. Microwave for 30 seconds. Add the gelatin mixture and the vinegar to the dry mixture. Beat on medium for 1 minute scraping down sides once or twice. Fold in the cranberries and pepitas.

Lightly form the dough into a ball and place in the parchment lined bowl. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees, cover the bowl with a light towel and set it on top of the stove to rise for 1 hour. At the 30 minute mark, place your dutch oven in the oven with the lid on. If the lid handle isn’t metal, remove the handle by unscrewing it.

At the 1 hour mark, carefully pull the rack out and remove the dutch oven lid. Set it somewhere safe because it will be HOT. Pick up the sides of the parchment and transfer the dough and the parchment to the dutch oven and replace the lid.

Bake for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove bread to cooling rack before slicing.

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