Saturday, June 30, 2012

Announcing a Month of Self-Care. Will you join me this July?

Yesterday I asked you a few questions about self-care.  I got some answers, but I'm greedy and I want more. So before you read any further, click on this link and leave a comment answering my questions about your own self-care. (Don't forget to come back and finish reading this post!)


Because I'm going to dedicate this whole month to self-care at The Daily Dietribe, and I want to focus on YOU specifically. Ever answer I get makes another little bell go off in my head. I want that bell ringing with ideas for you.

This month of self-care was inspired by a bevy of beautiful fellow bloggers, women I am honored to be working with. We hosted a self-care retreat last July, and we decided it's time to do it again. More and more, I am hearing from people how there's too much going on and they are feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and just plain frustrated by the chaos in their lives. 

I understand that feeling completely and I want to help you take a step back and simplify. As part of that, I am excited to announce the 2nd annual July Self-Care Retreat. In addition to my posts here, our other hosts will be posting throughout the month on what self-care means to them.

Our lineup begins today with the woman who always gets the ball rolling and reminds us all to take care of ourselves, Cheryl, of Gluten-Free Goodness. It continues all month, with each week dedicated to a different theme.

Our fantastic group of bloggers and themes:
June 30th  Food: Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness                
 July 7th Support and Connection: Valerie of City Life Eats                             
July 14th Movement : Shirley of Gluten Free Easily (GFE)         
July 21st Creativity: Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl                
July 28th Inward Reflection: Iris of The Daily Dietribe            

These posts are to inspire you all to make July a month of reflecting on self-care and the many ways to nourish ourselves. We would like everyone to participate in this event in a way that feels appropriate to them, whether that's through personal reflection, journal or other self-care.  If you would like to share your experience with self-care, we would love to include you in the experience, whether you join us for one week or every week.  You can write generally about self-care and how you include it in your life, or “try on” one of the practices we’re blogging about over the course of the next week (food, support and connection, movement, creativity and inward reflection). We ask that you link back to this post so that more people can learn about this retreat, and leave a comment for the weekly theme host, too! At the end of the month, we'll include a roundup of all the self-care posts you write to inspire others to work on their own self-care.

As a little added incentive, for each post on your goals and your progress you link back here or one of the other co-hosts, you’ll be entered to receive a $50 gift certificate to  (they are not sponsoring, Cheryl is donating this gift and wanted something with healthy gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, etc. options).

Valerie of City Life Eats designed a badge for us; feel free to use it in your posts.  If you would like to be included in our roundup and the drawing, please email a link to your post, along with your name and blog name, to us at selfcareretreat at gmail dot com by July 30, 2011. 

Non-bloggers who would like to contribute, please e-mail the full text to the same address and it will be included in the roundup. 

For a “flavor” of previous retreats, here’s a link to the July Self-Care Retreat and the December Sanity Retreat.

I'm going to leave you with a little thought that has come from a lot of my discussions with friends, clients, and family lately. It's simple, but it helps when I remind myself of this:

You are not a superhero, and you don't have to be. You are ENOUGH exactly as you are. Right now, before you go, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and as you exhale, repeat to yourself, "I am enough, I am enough, I am enough." Repeat it as many times as you need to in order to really feel it. And then let that be enough.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Women's Wellness Wizardry and Hogwarts School of Hypnotherapy

Did I get your attention with that title?

I like to throw out the word Hogwarts whenever I want to get someone's attention. 

A couple weeks ago I shared the exciting news with you that I was beginning my own Wellness Coaching business. I jokingly referred to myself as a Women's Wellness Wizard, but I think I'm going to keep the title. Cue the new business cards!

Today I want to share with you how everything has been progressing for me, and I have some questions for you about your own wellness.

I'm just finishing my second week of officially working with clients doing wellness coaching through hypnotherapy, and I couldn't have wished for a better birthday present for myself. My clients are some of the most amazing women I know, and to be a part of their personal journeys feels like such an honor. Knowing that they're trusting me with their deepest fears and secret dreams inspires me to keep pushing past my own fears. To keep reaching for my own dreams.

One of those dreams is to connect and work with the women that I can be of the most service to.  And I'm learning that a big part of taking care of my clients is taking care of myself as well. When I am centered, I am able to give all of myself in my sessions.

In order to make sure that I am focusing all of my energy on each individual client, I have had to set a personal limit on how many people I can work with each week. I am a bit astonished to say that I've already hit that limit. However, I really want to work with you if you're excited and ready to make some changes in your life. So I'm setting up a waiting list, and I wanted to let you know so that you can contact me if you want to be on it. If we already corresponded via e-mail, I'll be sending you a message in the next few days so that you can be first on the list. If not, e-mail me at iris(at)thedailydietribe(dot)com to let me know of your interest.

I'm feeling inspired, I want to help you feel inspired, and I know that when the energy is there, it means it's time for you to push forward. So if you're feeling a tug, that little quickening that says, "I think it's time," don't hesitate. E-mail me now before your fear gets the better of you. Let me deal with the fear and hesitation. Just come at me with your energy, your excitement, and your knowledge that you're ready for something new.

That's all it takes for change to happen.

Now, this question is for all of you: those of you who are ready to do some awesome work with me, and those that are just relaxing and enjoying the blog love. The month of July is going to be all about self-care here at The Daily Dietribe and I want to make sure my posts are helpful for you. Here's what I'd like to know:
  • What's your biggest obstacle to self-care? 
  • If I were to make you a self-hypnosis recording, what topics would you most want me to post on (e.g. gut healing, life purpose, anger, etc.)?
Leave your answers in the comments below.  And for bonus points (which don't actually matter since there are no winners), answer this third question:
  • If you had an extra 2 hours in your week, and you were only allowed to use it for your own self-care, how would you spend that time? 
Coming up: July is a month for journeying through the self. Are you coming with me?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Recipes: Challenge Roundup

Thank you all for another wonderful round of Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge recipes! 30 is sure to be an amazing year! We had eleven beautiful entries this year, and I am so excited to share them all with you. Make sure you bookmark this post, as well as last year's cake challenge roundup (which has 14 cake recipes). It's a great resource for the next time you need a gluten-free cake!

We have a bunch of winners today too, thanks to our amazing sponsors, Wholesome Sweeteners, JK Gourmet, and NuNaturals. But the cakes are so pretty and I don't want to clutter this post, so I'll put up the giveaway winners on my Facebook page on Friday and e-mail you directly if you've won. 

And without further ado, the cakes:

Sunset Carrot Cake here at The Daily Dietribe 
(Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Cherry Cola Cake from Pumpkin's Pantry 
(Gluten/Dairy/Nut/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Flower Cake at The Spunky Coconut 
(Grain/Dairy/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Sculpted Vanilla Almond Cake from Mountains of Molehills 
(Gluten/Dairy/Refined Sugar-Free. Easily made egg, nut, soy-free with the right ingredients)
(Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake at The Daily Dietribe
(Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Cinnamon Banana Coffee Cake at Cuter Than Gluten
(Grain/Dairy/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)

Strawberry Shortcakes at The Daily Dietribe
(Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Sugar-Free. Stevia sweetened)

Peanut Butter Pie Cupcakes at Primal Kitchen
(Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free. Cake is nut free, frosting has peanut butter)

Lucky Vanilla Cake from The World in a Pot

Coconut Blueberry Pound Cupcakes at Gluten Free Easily
(Grain/Dairy/Soy/Nut/Refined Sugar-Free)

Coming up: 
Tomorrow I'll be sharing an update on my new Women's Wellness Coaching business, and Saturday June 30th I'll tell you all about a whole month of posts dedicated to self-care here at The Daily Dietribe! See you tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

10 Signs + 10 Lessons + 10 Goals = 30 Years

Ten signs that I've become an adult
  1. Last night I was woken up at 1am by the neighbors having a loud party. I'm pretty sure the parents were out of town and this was a teenage boy party because I heard lots of yelling about beer pong. I turned on my light, stomped over to my window in my baggy pajamas and glared. I contemplated yelling, "Shut the f#*@ up" because that's what I was thinking. But I refrained. I'm not sure if it's the fact that I was so mad about my disturbed sleep or that I had the restraint to not shout out my window that makes me an adult. One of the two. 
  2. I went to bed at 8:30pm a few nights ago. I'm pretty sure I'll be in bed by 9pm tonight. 
  3. Two years ago, my house was the one on the street keeping the neighbors up with our all-night parties. Ah, the good old days. 
  4. My biggest goal for this year is to get my health under control so that I can go off birth control and be able to get pregnant. Did I just say that out loud? 
  5. I no longer keep a balanced checkbook. I used to have no problem with this because it was simple. Money in, money out. Now I have rent, bills, my own business (!), school,'s coming in and going out and flying all over the place and it makes my head spin. 
  6. My teddy bears spend most nights on the couch instead of in my bed. Some nights they still sleep with me though. I think that's perfectly normal. 
  7. I no longer post my every thought on Facebook the way I used to post my every thought as an away message on AIM. I still post about every third thought though. 
  8. When I happen to see exes making out with new girlfriends on Facebook, I unsubscribe and walk away. Okay, stomp away. But this is a big improvement over what I might have done a few years ago. 
  9. I make myself apologize to people when I know I've been a pain in the ass. Well, at least 50 percent of the time.
  10. When someone is driving me crazy, I look within to understand why it's bothering me rather than just assuming it's all their fault. 
Ten lessons I've learned in 30 years
  1. Your gut will always tell you the truth and the longer you ignore it, the harder you'll make things on yourself. 
  2. Happiness often comes at a price. As far as I know, it's a price very few people will ever regret paying.
  3. The harder you try to please everyone else, the further you'll get from your ideal self. 
  4. Facebook is not, nor will it ever be, a good replacement for actual human contact. 
  5. Nothing is black and white. 
  6. If you grow up reading romance novels, you'll have a really skewed idea of what love is like.
  7. Good sex is really important. (I only learned that one in the last 10 years.)
  8. Whether you ever plan to own a car or not, it's still important to learn how to drive.
  9. The best remedy for anger is a really long hug. You can hug your teddy bear if you're too mad to hug a person.
  10. The people that insist that -isms no longer exist (racism, sexism, etc.) are generally living in a bubble. I say we pop their bubbles. This definitely applies to anyone who claims there's no racism surrounding beliefs about President Obama.
Ten goals for the next ten years
  1. Ten years is too much. I'm working on living in the moment these days. So goal number one is to forget the ten year plan. 
  2. Have babies. One way or another, I'm gonna be a momma. 
  3. Smile and laugh more. 
  4. Open a retreat center for emotional and physical healing. 
  5. Learn to ride a horse. 
  6. Make someone really happy. 
  7. Sit less. 
  8. Play more. 
  9. Have some semblance of financial stability. 
  10. Learn how to live in the most eco-friendly, earth-loving way possible.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Strawberry Shortcakes and NuNaturals Stevia Giveaway

Well, my beautiful friends, I've gone and done it. I came up with a recipe for strawberry shortcakes that satisfied my every wish. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and sugar-free. I don't have any reaction when I eat it, even when I eat too many in a day, which may or may not have happened yesterday. It's simple, takes ten minutes to whip up the batter, and only uses one flour. There are no gums or other binders like flax or psyllium. And I actually feel comfortable serving it to guests who are neither gluten-free nor health nuts. I never thought I would see the day when a recipe that worked for ME would work for my friends too. But that day has come, and what luck that it happened on my last day of baking before taking an extended hiatus to truly focus on my health. Now I have a tried and true recipe that I can pull out whenever I feel the need for a little treat.

The only problem is that I am now obsessed with this recipe. Remember my pancake and waffle how-to guide? I made something like 24 batches of batter in order to test those out with various substitutions. I want to do the same with these shortcakes, which are really just "countrified" cupcakes. That's what my housemate called them, in her Paula Deen imitation accent.

Why do I want to mess with a good thing? Because I know exactly what substitution questions you're going to have for me, and the driven baker in me just can't stand that I don't have the answers. Here's what I know you're going to ask:
  1. I can't do rice flour. Can these be made without rice flour? Yes, but haven't figured out which flours are best yet.
  2. I don't do grains. Can these be made grain-free? If you allow seed grains like quinoa, I think I can make it happen. If you want to use only almond flour or coconut flour, it's unlikely, but I have an idea in mind...
  3. I can't have orange juice. Can I use apple juice or non-dairy milk instead? Yes, but I have to play around with the flavor and baking soda adjustments.
Those are the questions I know you're going to want to ask me. I'm sure there are more, and I invite you to leave your own substitution questions in the comments below. Because I'm going to figure the answers out, just the way I did for my waffles. It will involve a lot of batches, a big spreadsheet, and a flying saucer.

Just making sure you're paying attention.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I'm done with baking things that I can't eat. But I can eat these. So I can bake them all I want as long as I don't eat five a day. Or run out of stevia. Which won't happen because NuNaturals just sent me a package of their stevia for today's final entry into my 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge. And I am truly, truly excited because I didn't think I was going to be able to have cake on my birthday this year. And now I can.  

Today's giveaway:
  1. 4 winners will get: One bottle of each new NuNaturals stevia flavors, lemon and orange.
  2. 1 winner will get: One NuNaturals Wellness Gift Basket, valued at $100. Believe me, you want this!
 How to enter:

  1. Peruse the NuNaturals website, then leave a comment below telling me which of their posted recipes sounds best to you. 
  2. Follow NuNaturals on Facebook or Twitter.  Leave a comment telling me you did so.
  3. Follow The Daily Dietribe on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest if you don't already. Leave a separate comment for each. 
  4. If you already follow me, go ahead and link to this post on your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Leave a separate comment for each. 
  5. For 5 entries: Make a cake/cupcake/pie for the 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge that uses stevia. Use the Mr. Linky on my challenge post to link up, then come back and let me know your cake uses the featured ingredient. 
Giveaway will close on June 27th at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

Note: The Wholesome Sweeteners and JK Gourmet Almond Flour Giveaways are also still open until June 27th. 

Strawberry Shortcakes (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)

2 2/3 cups white rice flour (422 grams)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup coconut cream*
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon NuNaturals Liquid Stevia

Coconut cream**
Sliced strawberries

*For coconut cream, get a can of full-fat coconut milk. The cream rises to the top, so you can simply skim that off the top. There's just about 1/2 cup of coconut cream on top generally.

*To get enough coconut cream for all 12 shortcakes, you'll need a few cans. I'm not sure how many because it was too expensive for me to purchase that much. So I generally made a batch of cream from one can, made as many shortcakes as I could from that, and then ate the rest of the cupcakes plain or with Earth Balance Coconut Spread. To make the cream, I skimmed the cream off the top of the can, added a few drops of vanilla stevia to taste, and whipped it with a hand mixer until it resembled the texture of regular whipping cream.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12 muffin cupcake tin or use cupcake liners. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, beat the orange juice, coconut cream, applesauce, vanilla extract and stevia with a hand mixer on medium for about 30 seconds. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, continuing to beat until completely mixed. 
  4. Spoon batter into cups, filling each one completely. Bake for 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool a few minutes before removing cupcakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely, then slice in half, filling with coconut cream and strawberries.
Because I really want to make you happy, I'm going to share my little secret with you. This recipe calls for 1 whole teaspoon of stevia, which is a lot considering how expensive it is. So when I was testing the recipe, I made smaller batches of just 3 cupcakes. I'm going to share with you below the amounts for making 3 cupcakes. That way you can test this recipe without using too many ingredients...then if you like it, you can make a full batch. See? I did the math for you. That's love.

Amounts for a 3 cupcake batch: 
2/3 cup white rice flour (105 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
20 drops liquid stevia

Monday, June 25th at midnight PST is the deadline for your cake challenge entry. On Thursday, I'll post a roundup of all the recipes in this month's challenge. Hope to see you there with fork in hand and a smile on your face! 

Over and out, lovey doveys!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grain-Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake plus JK Gourmet Almond Flour Giveaway

Have you forgotten about my birthday cake challenge? No? Good. Neither have I. The deadline is this Monday, and as usual, I waited until the last minute to make my cakes. I'm a master procrastinator, a skill I wish I was not so adept at. I'm guessing some of you are good at this too, as I've only received 4 entries into the challenge so far (ahem...cough...hint hint).

I have an excuse though. My friend and cookbook co-author, Brittany Angell, was here last week and I learned that I can't multitask. Bake a cake and host a friend? No no, that is way too much for my brain to handle these days. One thing at a time, people, one thing at a time.

Last week it was Brittany and our cooking demo at the GIG Wellness Expo, this week it's cake.

After making three failed grain-free, vegan cupcake recipes today, I decided to go easy on myself and just do something simple. I'm not sure why I always try to do things the hardest possible way, but I've been working on changing that habit. This is why I'll no longer be baking food for the blog that I can't eat (after today). This is also why you're getting a recipe that only contains 5 ingredients. And my guess is, you're probably going to be happier with that anyway than you would with a cupcake recipe with 10 ingredients.

So today, I present to you a Grain-Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. 

This cake challenge entry comes to you courtesy of JK Gourmet. I contacted them because they make a superior quality blanched almond flour. They're also a small company and have been delightful to work with. As a blogger, I find that I get 3 possible responses when contacting companies: a) no response, b) lukewarm response, c) genuinely pleasant response. With JK Gourmet, I got more than that because the owners of the company, Jodi and Steven, are the ones who got back to me. No PR or marketing person (not that I don't love talking to them too), just the lovely husband and wife team who get their products because they use them. So I have to extend a big thanks to both Jodi and Steven for sending me their flour to work with and also for offering up a generous 5 pound bag of blanched almond flour to one of you.

Today's Giveaway: A 5 pound bag of JK Gourmet blanched almond flour sent to your door.

How to enter: 

  1. Peruse the JK Gourmet website, then leave a comment below telling me which of their posted recipes sounds best to you. 
  2. Follow JK Gourmet on Facebook.  Leave a comment telling me you did so.
  3. Follow The Daily Dietribe on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest if you don't already. Leave a separate comment for each. 
  4. If you already follow me, go ahead and link to this post on your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Leave a separate comment for each. 
  5. For 5 entries: Make a cake/cupcake/pie for the 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge that uses almond flour. Use the Mr. Linky on my challenge post to link up, then come back and let me know your cake uses the featured ingredient. 
Giveaway will close on June 27th at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

Note: The Wholesome Sweeteners Giveaway is also still open until June 27th. 

Grain-Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

2 1/2 cups JK Gourmet Blanched Almond Flour (266 grams)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips*

*I used Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips, but here's a recipe for making your own if you want to have more control over the ingredients.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.
  2. Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor or mixer until the dough comes together. Add in the chocolate chips (I just mixed mine in by hand). 
  3. Press evenly onto the pan. Bake for 18 minutes. My cake came out the way I like my cookies. a little crispier on the outside and super soft on the inside. If you want your cake to be more evenly baked, you can try covering the outside with tinfoil after 15 minutes and baking for a full 20. Or baking at 325 degrees F for 18 minutes. 
Almond Flour: As far as I know, hazelnut meal is the only sub my readers have successfully used for almond flour.
Coconut oil: Ghee, butter, Earth Balance, olive oil, etc.
Honey: Maple syrup, coconut nectar, agave nectar, brown rice syrup (any liquid sweetener)
Chocolate Chips: Coconut flakes, chopped nuts, dried fruit, etc. Have fun! 

Don't forget, Monday is the deadline to get your cake challenge recipe in! Shirley over at GFE threw out the idea of me getting 30 entries for my 30th birthday, and I'm throwing out that challenge to you as well! 

And since Monday's the last day, that means you'll be seeing my sugar-free, stevia-sweetened recipe by then! It's almost done...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do you want to work with me?

I like to tease you. Have you noticed? I tell you about future blog posts, recipes I have in the works, even post photos of recipes I'm still working on.

Oh no, wait, I only do that on my Facebook page. (Which you can follow if you want those teasers!)

Here on the blog I tell you about exciting new dreams that I have in the works. And then I wink and shut my mouth. I tell you about giveaways and new sugar-free and grain-free recipes I'm planning, and then you hear nothing more about them for weeks. And yes, for those of you waiting, I promise you will get the DL on my yeast infection cure, including the embarrassing and hilarious story that goes along with it. I'm just waiting until a proper amount of time has passed. You know, so as not to mortify anyone else who may have been involved. But it's coming. I'm receiving your e-mails. I know you want it.

While you patiently wait, I want to give you something else you may have been curious about: my dream. Or at least the first part of it. Sorry, but I'm keeping mum about the rest, at least for a few more months.

Here it is. Consider this my official announcement. My press release, so to speak, because you're my people and it's not real to me until I've told you here on the blog. So now I've gone and done it, and there's no turning back.

I didn't tell you anything, did I?

Okay for real now. I am officially starting up a private practice. I got my business license, put up my metaphorical shingles and am learning how to keep my books. But that's just nuts and bolts. At the heart of it, I've figured out my purpose and I'm throwing myself headlong into it so that I can start helping you today. I have another year in grad school, so I'll only be taking on a small number of clients to start. But I just couldn't wait another year to begin!

What will I be doing? I haven't decided on a proper term since, as far as I can tell, there's no one else doing exactly what I'll be doing with my clients. If you want a name, you can call me a Women's Wellness Wizard. I'll happily respond to that title! But in reality, I won't be pointing my wand and healing you. Like any good wizard, I'll just be providing a safe space for you to do your own magic.

I know I'm being vague here, and there's a reason for that. It's because I don't believe in one-size-fits-all programs. Remember, I worked for Jenny Craig. I know there is no one answer for everyone. Our work together will be loose and flowy, like a comfortable dress that you can wear even when you have period bloat. But it will also force you to confront reality, like those skinny jeans we all avoid on certain days. It will require that you get honest and dig deep into your closet. Only then can you emerge with a different perspective and perhaps some shiny new clothes.

What you can expect if you work with me is this: intensive one-on-one sessions where we get to the emotional root of your health issues. Yesterday, I wrote about the connection between stress and inflammation, inflammation and disease. Well, this is where we work on that. We all have emotional blocks that just root themselves in our bodies. They grow there, and in so doing, block healthy growth. They create stress in our bodies, which creates inflammation, which creates disease.

If you're working with me, you can expect that we'll talk about nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle choices. That all matters. But mostly we'll be letting that go and working on the subconscious level. We'll be bypassing all the prickly thorns and analytical undergrowth, and going straight to the roots. When you clear out those emotional blocks, you eliminate stress from your body and your health naturally improves. I cannot cure you, but I know that YOU can heal you. I want to help you get there.

So here's the deal. I'll only be working with 9 clients to start, and some of those slots are already taken. If you know you're interested in working with me, here's what I'm offering. For one of you, I'm giving away a free introductory 1.5 hour session. I can work with anyone in the U.S. by phone.  This is my birthday present to both of us. Because I'm only taking on a small number of clients, I want to make sure I'm working with the people who are READY for change and PUMPED to clear those blocks. I'm going to give you everything I have if we're working together, and I want to know you're making yourself as much of a priority as I am.

What do I need from you? E-mail me at iris(at)thedailydietribe(dot)com with the subject line: Looking for a Wellness Wizard. Answer these three questions:
  1. What's the biggest challenge for your health right now? 
  2. What do you think is the biggest thing keeping you stuck? 
  3. Why do you think now is the time to deal with this? 
      The next part will be hard for me because I will only be able to choose one of you to work with in a free session. But for everyone who e-mails me these answers, I'll be offering you a very big discount if we decide to work together. So you win either way.

      Okay, that's it. If you want to take the leap and jump into this work, e-mail me now. I'll be accepting e-mails until Thursday at midnight (PST) and will pick a winner on Friday. Whoever you are, I can't wait to work with you!

      Monday, June 11, 2012

      Inflammation: What's Stress Got To Do With It?

      Last year I spoke at the Dallas Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo. My talk was on inflammation and I decided to focus on what I felt were the most important causes. At the top? Stress.

      Are you surpised?

      I didn't think so.

      But let's talk about it a little.

      First, what exactly is inflammation? We hear about it all the time, especially those of us with autoimmune disorders and food sensitivities. We know that we're all supposed to be on an anti-inflammatory diet. But on a very basic level, what is happening in our bodies?

      When I talk about inflammation, I'm referring to chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation is the response that happens when we're injured. It's a short-term response designed to attack and clean up infectious or dangerous substances in your body. In a perfect world, this response would occur when needed by releasing pro-inflammatory compounds in your body, and once the problem has been taken care of, anti-inflammatory compounds would be released to turn the inflammatory response off.

      We don't live in a perfect world.

      Chronic inflammation occurs when this acute response goes haywire. The pro-inflammatory compounds don't turn off, and they create this constant fire in the body. What happens when pro-inflammatory compounds are running around in your body when they're unnecessary? They can damage healthy cells. This is why researchers are now hypothesizing that chronic inflammation is at the root of so many health issues. In heart disease, blood vessel linings can be damaged. In diabetes, your pancreatic tissue can be damaged. And in food sensitivities, your gut mucosa has been damaged.

      So this is inflammation. But how do we combat it? Or perhaps a better way to look at it is, how do we put out the fire?

      During my talk in Dallas, I discussed four areas that I felt were the most important for everyone to work on. I'm only going to address the first three briefly today, but feel free to leave a comment below if you would like a full post on each of these topics. I'm assuming that you know this already and I don't want to bore you with the details. What I'm going to focus on today is stress because the more I learn about it, the quicker  that factor has moved from the bottom of my short list to the #1 slot.

      There's this whole chemical cascade going on in your body when you eat sugar, but here's what's most important to know. When your blood sugar rises, your insulin rises. When your insulin rises, your body creates more pro-inflammatory compounds. Those compounds keep the inflammation fire going. Decrease sugar and you decrease inflammation. 

      Omega-3 fatty acids
      Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the body's building blocks for both pro and anti-inflammatory compounds. You need foods that provide both so that your immune system works properly.  Humans evolved eating a diet that was close to a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Today, the SAD diet provides closer to a 1:25 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This causes the body to create way more pro-inflammatory compounds than it needs to. Once again, we're fanning the fire.

      Vegetables and fruits
      Vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. These are your fire fighters. Every time you eat a cucumber, apple, or carrot, you're quenching that fire. Now of course there are a lot of variations and exceptions here, reasons why certain vegetables may be better or worse for particular people. But that's a whole other discussion for another day. For now, just stick with the wisdom: eat more fruits and vegetables. It's been said over and over, and there's a good reason for that.

      Now, for the fun part! Here's why I love exploring the relationship between stress and inflammation. If you can reduce your stress level, you will often find that you can also inadvertently take care of numerous other issues involved in inflammation.

      Let's take a closer look.

      At the superficial level, being stressed affects your eating. What happens when you're anxious? You want sugar. You're more likely to overeat, undereat, or just generally eat like crap. You forget about packing your salads for lunch, grab a croissant on the way to work, and guzzle a sugar laden coffee while you're at it. And you can forget about making the time to cook a healthy dinner with lots of vegetables. You're grabbing take-out on the way home. Or if you're like me and your food sensitivities keep you from ordering in like other people, you go home and eat the easiest possible thing. Which usually isn't the healthiest.

      Bottom line? When you're stressed, you probably aren't eating as healthy. When you're not eating healthy, your inflammation increases.

      Now, let's look a little deeper.

      When you're stressed out, your digestion slows down. Suboptimal digestion causes further stress upon the body which in turn increases inflammation. Now think about your environment when you're eating. Are you sitting down at a table focusing on a nice meal? Or are you in your car, steering with one hand and eating your sandwich with the other? Watching TV, playing on Facebook, staring at your to-do list? Do you ever take the time to simply give yourself a few minutes to relax and breathe before beginning to eat? If you can just reduce the amount of stress in your body when you eat, you'll make a huge difference right there. This is especially important for those of us with food sensitivities.

      Now, let's go one level deeper. Let's talk at the chemical level.

      Did you know that just being stressed out can increase pro-inflammatory compounds, irrespective of whatever else is going on? This isn't a matter of stress messing up your healthy eating habits which then causes inflammation. No, research shows that stress itself can directly increase inflammation. In one laboratory study, inflammatory markers increased by 341 percent in subjects only 10 minutes after a stressful situation had been induced. In another study, chronically stressed men and women  showed up to four times the amount of a particular inflammatory marker as their counterparts who were not chronically stressed. Let's face it. Stress kills. Literally.

      Wow. I bet you're really happy with me right now. So not only are you stressed out, but now you're stressed out about being stressed out. I swear, that wasn't my goal. My goal is to point out that stress is often the factor that goes unnoticed. This is not to say that we don't all recognize its importance. But when we're trying to become healthier, we often try to work on all of the other factors (eating less sugar, more vegetables, etc.), while ignoring what may be the most important point of all.

      The stress factor.

      What's stress got to do with inflammation? Everything.

      What can you do about it? The possibilities are endless.

      In my next post, I'm going to talk about how I've begun working with clients surrounding this very issue, some things you can do on your own at home, and how you can get your own session with me to get started on this work for free (read: birthday giveaway time)!

      Until then, my little ladybugs...

      Sunday, June 10, 2012

      My Favorite Simple Fish Recipe and Past Life Regressions

      I started writing this post while sitting in my Past Life Regression course. Yep, I just said Past Life Regression. So not something I ever thought I would be taking a class in! Yet here I am.

      Last night I was babysitting and doing my homework for the course when the parents came home (don't worry, the kids were asleep). They asked what I was working on, and I laughed. "Oh, just past life regressions." They looked at me askance and then laughed back. I saw a glimmer of interest in the mother's eyes, disbelief in the father's. They wanted to know if I had experienced any of my past lives, and I hemmed and hawed. I felt a bit protective of my experiences, knowing how deeply they had impacted me through my recent sessions. In the end, I just said I had, and left it at that.

      I came to Seattle to study science, and instead I've found myself immersed in a world of faith, spirituality, and intuition. My studies at Bastyr have given me exactly what I wanted, which was a scientific background to stand on. My circumstances here have given me something else altogether. Upon first moving into my new house, I found myself surrounded by women who were more open to spirituality than I was used to on the East Coast. Growing up in a very secular world, I was surprised to suddenly find myself with three Christian roommates whose sense of life seemed so different from what I had always assumed Christianity to be. Talking with them allowed me to let go of some of my preconceptions about religion, which in turn gave me permission to explore my own spiritual side. Now, this is not a declaration of my conversion. I have never considered myself a Christian, despite celebrating Christmas and Easter. I don't see that changing. But my relationship with God, with life, even with the possibilities of other lifetimes? It's all evolving. It's hard for me to put that out there. Clearly, if you've been reading for a while, you know I'm a bit outside the box already. But this takes me into a whole other realm.

      Well, I'm going to ask you to go there with me. I'm not asking you to believe what I believe. I don't think anything useful ever comes of that. I'm just asking you to keep reading another few minutes before you skip down to the recipe.

      I can't remember why I decided to take a hypnotherapy course four months ago. I've wracked my brain, and for the life of me, I can't remember what my thought process was. I've never been particularly interested in hypnotherapy, but something must have spoken to me. But once I took that first course, I was hooked, and I'm now finishing up a class to become a Past Life Regression Specialist. I have been confused for years about exactly how I was supposed to be working with people. I knew, somehow, that I was supposed to work with women and health. I got my master's degree in psychology, and I knew that was part of the puzzle. It wasn't quite right though. There were too many holes. Now I'm working on my master's degree in nutrition, and I know that's part of the puzzle too. But the overall picture has still been fractured. Today, I finally get it. Psychology plus nutrition plus hypnotherapy and even past life regressions. Add into that tapping and other techniques I've been learning, and it all suddenly makes sense. I know how I'm supposed to be helping people, and I am so jazzed to do it.

      This is a prelude for you. I want to tell you so much more about what I'm going to be doing and why it may help you if you're suffering from an inflammation based health problem (which is really all health problems, right?). And I want to tell you about some exciting things coming up in the next few months. But I'm tired after a long day of Past Life Regression class, and I have to get plenty of sleep before we start again tomorrow. So enjoy this recipe for my favorite fish dish. I've been eating it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner lately. It's delicious and makes me feel fancy despite being extremely simple and affordable.

      Then I want you to think about what I've told you so far, and whether you might be one of my people, someone I'm supposed to be helping. Because I'm going to ask you soon for your advice on how exactly I can best help you. I have a plan, I want you to be a part of it, and so I'm going to enlist your help to make sure you and I are on the same wavelength. But first...I am getting very sleepy. I am going to fall asleep in 3...2...1.

      Simple Fish with Kalamata Olives and Basil
      You can use any white fish for this recipe. I often buy cod or rockfish fillet because they're the most affordable!

      2 teaspoons olive oil
      2 handfuls fresh basil, minced
      1/4 cup kalamata olives, minced
      freshly ground black pepper
      1/2 pound white fish
      2 cups chopped vegetables of choice (cabbage, kale, spinach, etc.)

      1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
      2. While it's heating, mix together the minced basil, olives, and freshly ground black pepper. Rinse the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. 
      3. Once the olive oil is hot, rub the fish with the basil and olive mix. It won't stick too well, but just get as much rubbed in as you can. Place the fish in the pan and put any remaining olives and basil on top. Let cook for 3 minutes on one side. 
      4. Turn fish over and cook for another minute, then put the top on the pan and cook until the fish is done. Depending on the type and size of fish you buy, the time will vary but it generally doesn't take me more than a few minutes. 
      5. Remove fish onto a plate, then add vegetables to the pan and cook until done. If using greens such as spinach or kale, just let them wilt for a minute or two. Other vegetables like cabbage or onions will take longer to cook through. 
      Serves 2. 

      Tuesday, June 5, 2012

      Gluten-Free Sunset Carrot Cake (Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free) and Wholesome Sweeteners Giveaway!

      Yesterday was my friend Hannah's birthday. What better opportunity to bake a cake for the 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge? I knew I wanted to make a carrot cake, and as it turned out, that is one of her favorite types of cake! Me too... Absolutely love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! But for this cake, I went a different route with the frosting, hence the name: Sunset Carrot Cake. This is a double layer caramel cream filled carrot cake topped with coconut. Doesn't the idea of that just make you salivate?

      And check out that sunset! Beautiful, right? While everyone ate cake, I snapped pics over the water. 

      Now let's talk giveaways! Today's cake comes to you courtesy of Wholesome Sweeteners. I contacted them to be a part of this challenge because I love their products. They have organic, non-GMO, and fair trade certified sweeteners, and I feel confident in purchasing their brand. They sent me some of their new coconut palm sugar to try out and that's what I used for this cake. I love the caramel undertones that coconut palm sugar has, and it gave this cake and the caramel cream glaze a beautiful dark color. I was also happy that the Wholesome Sweeteners palm sugar didn't clump at all, and was not as coarse as some brands I've tried.

      Today's Giveaway: A Wholesome Sweeteners Gift Bag sent straight to your door!

      How to enter: 
      1. Peruse the Wholesome Sweeteners website, then leave a comment below telling me which of their products you would most like and what kind of dessert you would make with it. 
      2. Follow Wholesome Sweeteners on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Leave a separate comment for each. 
      3. Follow The Daily Dietribe on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest if you don't already. Leave a separate comment for each. 
      4. If you already follow me, go ahead and link to this post on your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Leave a separate comment for each. 
      5. For 5 entries: Make a cake/cupcake/pie for the 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge that uses coconut palm sugar. Use the Mr. Linky on my challenge post to link up, then come back and let me know your cake uses the featured ingredient. 
      Giveaway will close on June 27th at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

      Sunset Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Vegan)

      2 cups brown rice flour (260 grams)
      2/3 cup tapioca starch (80 grams)
      1 cup Wholesome Sweeteners coconut palm sugar (154 grams)
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon sea salt

      1 cup non-dairy milk
      1/2 cup canola oil
      2 tablespoons whole psyllium husks 
      2 cups grated carrot, lightly packed
      1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil or grease two 9-inch round cake pans (I used springform pans for easy release). 
      2. In a large bowl, stir together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, palm sugar, baking soda, and sea salt. 
      3. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the milk, oil, psyllium husks, carrot, and apple cider vinegar. 
      4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix completely. Pour half into each pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Top with shredded coconut if desired.
      Notes: This recipe makes two thin layers (about 1 inch high). You can make one bigger cake and adjust the baking time accordingly. For substitution ideas, see this recipe and scroll to the bottom of the post.

      Caramel Cream Frosting: I have two suggestions here, and they taste pretty similar.  With either option, I suggest adding 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon for a little extra spice.
      1. Caramel dipping sauce (contains cashews)
      2. Use this recipe for strawberry cream cheese, but replace the pureed strawberries with pureed apples. Use coconut palm sugar for the sugar called for. That's what I did in the cake pictured above.
      More Coconut Palm Sugar Recipes:
      Pineapple Muffins
      Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies
      Irish Coffee Brownies
      Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

      Remember, the giveaway ends on June 27th, so you have all month to come up with a birthday dessert featuring coconut palm sugar! Check back throughout the month for 3 more giveaways, and at least two more cake recipes!

      Sunday, June 3, 2012

      2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge

      Are you ready?

      I know I am.

      For what, you ask?

      It's cake time. Blow out the candles and say goodbye to my twenties time. It's time to rock this journey we call life.

      So let's rock it together: with cake.

      Today marks the beginning of the 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge. I got so many amazing entries last year, and the month end round up of cake recipes gets more page views than almost any other post. So I'm doing it again. But this time even bigger.

      It is going to be my 30th birthday after all. Okay, I know I've mentioned that already a few times in the last week, but a girl's gotta celebrate the big milestones, right?


      Now let's talk cake.

      Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge:

      The What: Gluten-Free cake, cupcakes, and I'm reserving the right to allow pie because I love it. Get creative. All manner of cake-like submissions will be accepted, as long as they're gluten-free.  Consider it a really fun birthday potluck.

      The Who: You, silly! I'll be creating at least three cakes this month, thanks to my awesome Birthday Cake Challenge Sponsors (more on that below), but I can't do it alone. I need your cake recipes to join mine in the round up!

      The When: Create a fabulous cake by June 25th. On June 28th, I'll post a round up of all the entries, with links to your posts (if you have a blog).

      The How: Post your recipe, link up to this post, then come back here and add your post to the linky at the bottom. That way, everyone coming here this month can see all the entries below. Make sure you link up to your actual post with the recipe, not your blog's home page. In addition to the links here, on June 28th, I'll post a round up of all the recipes with photos and links. If you add your post in the linky, you don't need to e-mail me too. I'll simply grab the photo from your post.

      Don't have a blog? You can still join in! Email your recipe to iris(at)thedailydietribe(dot)com along with a photo if you have one. Tell your friends on Facebook to check out your recipe on June 28th!

      The Gifts: What's a birthday without presents? Since I can't force you all to send me gifts - although I'm secretly trying to put that idea in your brain - I'm going to send you something instead. I've partnered up with three of my favorite companies to send gift packages to some of you. And I'm also giving away something of my own as well, but I'll get to that a little later. First, the sponsors of the Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge:
      • Wholesome Sweeteners
        • Wholesome Sweeteners focuses on quality sweeteners with an emphasis on sustainability. Many of their products are fair trade, and they just came out with their own line of coconut palm sugar, which I know you will all love! They'll be sending one of you a gift basket filled with their goodies!
      • JK Gourmet 
        • JK Gourmet's blanched almond flour is perfect for your baking needs. Their almond flour is finely ground and produces light, airy results! In fact, I made some of my Italian Style Flatbread from my cookbook for a demo today, and a woman came up afterward and told me it was the best bread she's ever had. And she isn't even gluten-free! I know JK Gourmet's flour is part of that magic because I tested the recipe out with not as finely ground almond meal, and the results were decent. With JK Gourmet's flour, it became divine. JK Gourmet will be sending one of you a 5 pound bag of flour to play with!
      • NuNaturals 
        • You all know by now that I love my stevia. Well, NuNaturals has two new flavors, and they're sending 4 of you their bottles of new flavors to try. PLUS, one lucky winner will get a gift basket of NuNaturals products. And as one who has received their gift baskets, I can tell you they're generous!
      And the final gift to you all? I will be a registered and certified hypnotherapist soon enough, but until then, I am offering a free introductory hypnotherapy session to one of you. Why? Because it's really fun, and I love doing it. So really it's a gift to me. But I also think that amazing breakthroughs can happen in just one session, so it's for you too. Later this month, I'll tell you all about hypnotherapy, how I use it, what it can be used for, and why you might want to try it.

      How to enter the giveaways: Throughout the month, I will be baking three cakes, one for each of my sponsors. When I post my sponsor's cake, I'll also post details for entering that particular giveaway. You can enter ALL of the giveaways, some, or just one, but you have to leave comments on each individual post if you want to be entered into that giveaway.  If you want to enter to win the hypnotherapy session, I'll tell you how to do that when I write about it. I do sessions by phone and in person, so you can enter even if you don't live near me.

      Recap: Post a cake recipe by June 25th. Link it here. Come back throughout the month to enter the giveaways for Wholesome Sweeteners, JK Gourmet, NuNaturals and ME. Ahem. I mean, a hypnotherapy session with me. I will NOT be showing up on your door in a big box with a bow, so get that image out of your head. Or leave it there. Whatever makes you happy.

      Friday, June 1, 2012

      Dreaming Big

      I have an announcement to make. And it isn't actually that important for you, but it's a decision that's I've been wrestling with for a while.

      I have a food blog. I wrote two baking guides. I teach cooking classes. Oh yeah, and I'm getting a master's degree in nutrition. I often forget that one, which I suppose tells you all something.

      Everything in my life has been leading me in this direction, like the winds are calling me, "Food. Food. Your purpose in life is to heal people through food." That's what I thought my purpose was. That's why I moved from NYC to Seattle to attend Bastyr University. But try as I might, something in me just keeps rebelling. Pushing back against that wind and yelling, "No, no! That's not it! There's something else I'm supposed to be doing!"

      I've known for a while. What my purpose is and what I'm meant to do in this world. But it hasn't been completely clear, and of course there's always that fear that blocks us with such underhanded cunning. But in the last couple of weeks, it's been getting clearer and clearer. As I (maybe? I can't remember...) have mentioned, I'm getting certified to be a hypnotherapist, and as part of my practice, I get to work with an awesome classmate and receive my own hypnotherapy sessions weekly. And with each session, the message has become louder. Blocks are falling away as if they never existed - although I know they did because they've been messing with me for years.

      And I got it. There are still some big details to think about. And a lot of planning to make my vision a reality. But I'm finally here, finally in the right place, and ready to do the work.

      Which brings me to my announcement. Big build up, right? Like I said, it's really not that big of a deal for you. But It's big for me.

      I'm going back to eating completely sugar-free, and I'm taking a break from baking sweets on the blog. There may be some sugar-free baked goods here and there; I'm not sure exactly how this will all unfold. But for the most part, I have to leave the baking to my fabulous friends who I know will serve you well: Look on my sidebar for links to some of the blogs I love. The reason for this is simple. I have a vision. I know what I need to do in this world, and I know that I need to be healthy to do it. Healthy in body, mind, and spirit. And when I'm baking and testing and eating all those baked goods, I just don't feel good. My body rebels. My mind rebels. My spirit rebels.

      I have a very hard time thinking about giving up baking. First of all, I know you all love them (don't even try to deny it; I look at my stats). But all that aside, I have ideas running through my head constantly. Flavors that would work together, different combinations of flours, substitutions and more. And every time I have tried to take a break in the last year, I've only lasted about a week before feeling the desire to plant myself in the kitchen and stay there forever. But then I bake, I eat, I feel like blah, and I realize why it needs to stop.

      I may actually continue baking on my own. I have a huge pantry of flours after all, and lots of friends I love to feed. But the continual testing to perfect recipes means way too much taste testing for me. And try as I might, I just don't have it in me to take a bite and not eat the rest. Some people can do it, and I applaud them for it. I can't, and I'm tired of trying.

      But it's more than that. It's not just about wanting to actually eat the food that I share with you here. It's about saying no to the things that aren't in line with my vision, so that the universe can open itself up to inviting opportunities that are in line with that vision. So chilling out on the baking will help me to have more mental space to work on my new project, more actual time to devote to that and to doing the kind of posts here that I've been enjoying lately. And hopefully it will give me more energy to work on recipes that, while perhaps not as exciting as Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars, will actually be of greater use to you. I want to post more of the recipes that make my body feel good. Because even if those recipes don't get pinned over and over on pinterest, my hope is that you'll make them for yourself and your family, and you'll find that they help you to feel your best too. That way, you can also have the energy to follow your vision and make your dreams a reality. And in the end that's what this is all about, right? Coming together in this online space so that we can share our dreams and help each other to make this world what we want it to be?

      Are you with me? Yes? Yes!


      Now with all that said, I had already planned a pretty fun June for you all here, and it involves cake. Birthday cake, to be exact, because I'm turning 30 on June 28th, and I'm excited about it. So the sweets ban won't actually start until June 28th. Until then, you'll be seeing lots of sweets this month. But you'll have to come back tomorrow for all the details, and to find out just what else I'm planning for YOU for my birthday. 

      Oh, and my vision? This big dream that I'm hoping will change everything? I have to keep it to myself for now. I feel the need to protect it while it's in its infancy, to keep it safe so it can take root and grow strong. But I'm hoping that when all is said and done, that you'll want to be a part of it.

      Because ultimately, it's for you.


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