Monday, April 29, 2013

Can You Have Food Sensitivities Without Them Controlling Your Life?

I've been sharing this picture on Facebook to promote my new program, The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge. At face value, this photo is aimed at women who are dieting to lose weight. In fact, in my post yesterday introducing the challenge, I talked about the women I used to work with at Jenny Craig. Of course their objective was to lose weight. And this program was designed with those women in mind. But it was also designed with the food sensitive and food allergic person in mind. Why? Because I am both of those women. I am the woman who worries too much about her weight and I am the woman who also has very real food sensitivities and cannot just forget about my diet.

Today on Facebook, someone left a comment that she had food allergies and so food did control her life and she wished it could be otherwise, but it couldn't. So today I want to address those of you, like me, who have to monitor everything you eat. I want to tell you why this program is just as much for you, if not more so, than it is for the woman who has no food sensitivities.

How can I advocate an ANTI-DIET challenge when I have to follow a strict diet myself?
Isn't that irresponsible? Yes. At least it would be if I were telling you to forget about your gluten free diet, to go ahead and eat dairy (or whatever it is you need to avoid), to eat whatever you wanted and just focus on your mental and emotional state. Let me tell you something. I've tried that and it DOES NOT WORK. I've thought a lot about orthorexia (the coin termed for people who are obsessed with following a specific diet, to a point where it becomes emotionally unhealthy) and the Intuitive Eating program. The Intuitive Eating program is about creating a healthy relationship with food and rejecting the diet mentality. I agree with both, and in theory I love the idea of Intuitive Eating. But one of the practices for it is to go ahead and eat things you tell yourself you shouldn't. The idea is to take away the power of "forbidden food" which only makes you want to eat it more. I agree with that too. But in reality, that doesn't work for people with food sensitivities, or I personally think, for people who are addicted to sugar. When I've tried taking that route and have let go of my restrictions, I've ended up in physical pain and just caused more inflammation in the long run.

I want to be very clear here. The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge is not about ignoring, letting go of, or otherwise denying your very real food sensitivities or allergies. But it IS about not letting them control your life.

How is that even possible? I can hear what you're saying because it's in my head too: I have to monitor everything I eat. I can't go out to eat without worrying; I can't even eat at family members' houses without anxiety. My food is more expensive and I can't just go pick up a cheap meal at a fast food joint. When I go on vacation, I have to consider whether the location can handle my diet. When I go to weddings, I have to bring snacks and worry about what I'll eat. I have to remind my boyfriend not to kiss me right after drinking a beer. And don't even get me started about friends and family who think it's in my head. So on top of everything else, I have to walk around defending myself and my food choices to everyone around me. Of course my diet controls my life!

All of that is true. It is absolutely true and I'm not trying to tell you otherwise. Who am I to deny your reality, especially when it's also my reality?

But does that mean you have to give your energy to that reality?

I designed The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge for myself. After one too many anxiety-ridden days spent scouring the internet for yet another article on how to heal my gut, after one too many failed attempts to follow a specific diet perfectly, after wallowing in guilt because I couldn't do everything right, after berating myself because I ate a damn banana and that wasn't on my OK list...after telling myself one too many times that my food sensitivities were my fault because I couldn't stick to the restricted diet I prescribed myself for healing... After all this, I decided to try something different.

I still follow a very restricted diet. I have to. It's absolutely necessary for my health, even though I wish it weren't. I never cheat on the gluten free diet. But sometimes I eat a banana. Sometimes I eat an orange. Seemingly healthy foods can increase inflammation in my obnoxiously leaky gut. The other day, I bought a gluten free cookie. And I enjoyed every single bite of it. Was my face puffy the next day? Yes. Did I wallow in guilt? A little. But then I stopped myself. Because it's not worth it. That's not why I'm here on this earth.

I want you to eat whatever way is healthiest for you. I also want to encourage you to join me for 30 days. Because for 30 days, I'm going to challenge myself to take tiny steps towards looking at my life differently and using my energy differently. Ultimately, this challenge is about looking at why I'm here on this earth and what my purpose is. I am tired of crying over food. I am tired of thinking about my weight and how if I could just calm the inflammation in my body, I would lose the bloating and puffiness. I am tired of telling myself that it's my fault if I have a headache. Yes, I have food sensitivities and I have to think about food more than other people do. But when I get myself so worked up over my diet, I cause more inflammation in my body simply due to stress. And if I'm doing that, then I'm cancelling out all the good work I'm doing with trying to eat right. 

Will you do something for me? A little challenge right now? Step away from the computer, find a quiet spot to lie down, and just breathe. Feel yourself settle into your body. You don't have to try to quiet your thoughts or do anything in particular, just breathe and imagine settling deeper into your body with every exhale. How often do you allow yourself to just be? Emotions might come up. Sadness, anger, anxiety. Maybe peace or happiness. Let them in. All of the emotions. Cry if you need to. Laugh if it comes naturally. Just continue breathing and continue to be.

Allow yourself to lie there and breathe for as long as feels right to you. Then I want you to get a piece of paper and answer these questions. Be honest with yourself and know that every question has an answer. If your answer is NONE, take another deep breath, and write down whatever comes to you when you exhale:

What could be the benefit of trying this challenge for 30 days?

What could be the downside of trying this challenge for 30 days?

If I do this challenge for 30 days, I might __________ (fill in the blank with all the beneficial outcomes you could receive).

If I do this challenge for 30 days, I might __________ (fill in the blank with all the negative outcomes you could receive).

Now let all of it go and just answer with your gut instinct.

Will you take the challenge with me?  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Take The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge

I used to work for Jenny Craig. This is what my clients wanted:

Weight loss. A perfect body. Flat stomach. Six pack abs. Toned arms and legs (but of course not too toned).

I got it. I was pretty obsessed too. I spent a lot of my time and energy worrying about my weight. 

Then I became a gluten free blogger. I traded my weight obsession with my health obsession. In my defense, I had a good reason. I had become chronically ill and was in pain most of the time. So I stopped focusing on the ideal weight loss diet as prescribed by Jenny Craig, and started focusing on the ideal healthy diet as determined by the gluten free community.

I've followed a lot of diets over the last four years. Vegan. Raw. Low-Amine. Paleo. Autoimmune paleo. I could go on...

Last week, I had a health setback and was struggling with a headache that hadn't gone away in weeks. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what I could possibly be eating that could be the culprit. Finally, I made an appointment with a fellow hypnotherapist (thank you, Sylvia!), and for 90 minutes, we worked on all the emotional gunk that was stuck in my body. By the end of the session, my headache had lessened noticeably. We hadn't done what I was hoping for, which was to find out which foods my body was reacting to and what diet my body wanted me to eat. Instead we worked on old traumas that had nothing to do with food (and some didn't even have to do with this lifetime). After my session, my headache slowly disappeared, and by the end of the day, it was gone. Over a week later, it hasn't returned.

My diet has remained the same throughout.

I'm a hypnotherapist. I know this stuff works. I know that so much of our health lies in our emotional state. I also know that diet is important. Being gluten free is imperative to my health. Believe me, I would never say otherwise.

But here's something else I know: Being stress free is just as important to my health as being gluten free. Maybe more.

And I can do stress like nobody's business. My guess is that you can too. If there's one thing I've learned about my readers over the years, it's that we know how to push our own buttons. We know our triggers, we know what we worry over, and we know how to funnel all that stress into our eating.

For some of us, that means overeating. For others, undereating. For many of us, it becomes focusing on eating the "perfect" diet. Whether it's for weight loss or health, somehow we all know how to go there when other things are worrying us. It might be a job interview, an ended relationship, or even something exciting yet scary like starting our own business. Or maybe it's something older, something that we haven't let go of. Whatever it is, we do what we do best. Turn to food.

And I'll tell you something I've learned the hard way over the years. We do not have unlimited amounts of energy. And when you use all your energy stressing over the perfect diet, you lose your energy somewhere else. When I am scared about something, I immediately revert to obsessing over food and trying to convince myself that if I could just follow a specific diet TO THE LETTER EVERY SINGLE DAY, my life would be fine. Never mind the thing I'm actually scared about.

When that happens, I have to stop myself and remember: it's not always about the food.

And so I have learned to let go of dietary perfection. I have learned that in order to be healthy, I have to slow down, tune into my body, and start listening. What is REALLY causing that headache? Sometimes it's food. Sometimes it's not. When I begin to step away from the magazines, blogs, and books that tell me how to eat, I can start listening to myself again.

That's when I remember the most important lesson of all: to trust myself.

On May 12th, I will be starting the Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge. I began to write this challenge for myself, and then realized through some conversations that many of you were also feeling the need for this.

The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge is for those of you who are feeling frustrated, burdened, and otherwise overwhelmed by all the dietary dogma that ISN'T HELPING YOU. This challenge is for those of you who want to COMMIT to stepping away from the scale and the diet books, and who want to step into TRUSTING YOURSELF. Over the course of 30 days, I'll be sending you an e-mail every morning with a challenge that can be done in 20 minutes or less. These challenges will take you through a meditative and creative practice, day by day, beginning by tuning into our bodies, continuing on through listening to our inner wisdom, and ending by helping you to regain the energy you've lost over the years to diets.

I now put my energy towards my life purpose, and this challenge will help you to begin doing that in your own life as well.

In addition to these daily challenges, I'll also be leading a weekly mini-workshop (via internet so you can access from anywhere) in which we can go deeper into meditation and start sharing our experiences with each other. This challenge is not just about me. It's not just about you. It's about the energy that we can create when we come together and believe in each other.

I used to have trouble making it through the day. I was so exhausted I couldn't think. Now, I have energy left over, and I know that it's because I'm listening to myself in a way I never did before, and I'm tuning into my purpose. And that creates more energy even as I'm using it.

Where do you want to spend your precious energy? On following a perfect diet? Or would you rather step into the life for which you were created? The life you know deep down you are ready for?

I have a purpose, and I know you do too. And I want you to have the energy to fulfill that purpose. I want you to have no regrets.

Register here for The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge and you'll also get a sneak peak of my new website. I wasn't quite ready to share it with you all yet, but The Anti-Diet 30 Day Spring Challenge just pushed its way into my consciousness and wouldn't be ignored. Gotta follow my instincts these days...

And don't forget, I'll be doing this challenge right along with you. It's you and me, baby! Partners in crime.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Romantical Fridays: The Final Chapter

Read the last installment here. (I know that some of you were not able to read the installment from two weeks ago. I've tried re-posting it and it still comes out wrong, so I promise to let you know if and when I update it so that it's readable to all.)

You know, when you ask a man to marry you, it's quite different from asking a woman. Had Blue Eyes asked me to marry him, I would have been calling everyone, immediately talking wedding plans, and otherwise being all girly about it. I've been to enough weddings that I know planning them is a pain, but it still looks fun. I mean, I am a girl, and I do have my dream wedding planned.

It's going to be a fairy themed costume party.

Blue Eyes hasn't fully agreed to that one yet...

No, when you ask a guy to marry you, things go quite differently. You wait a while before bringing it up again, and then he innocently says, "Well yeah we'll get married...someday, right?"

Sometimes I just have to shake my head. Yes dear, someday. Okay, I'll leave it alone for a while.

I'm joking because I know the marriage itself isn't the most important thing. It's the person you choose to spend your life with. And I had chosen.

My choice has led me to where I am today, sitting in a comfy blue chair in a clean apartment with dingy carpets. I'm in Lathrop, Missouri and it's the epitome of small town. Blue Eyes spent his junior and senior year of high school here living with his dad, and at the time, he wanted nothing more than to get out and travel the world. Now, about 10 years later, he's decided to come back and see if he can make a difference for this town, for his dad, and for himself.

About eight or so months ago, Blue Eyes went to Missouri to visit his dad. He called me often telling me he was eating crap, not getting any exercise and generally didn't feel good. This was what I knew of Missouri. And yet when he asked me to skype him one day, I had this feeling. Something was telling me he was going to want to move there. And I knew I would go with him.

We skyped, and he told me hesitantly, as if afraid I would explode. To be honest, I think he still didn't trust me after I broke up with him before, and he probably expected I would send him to Missouri and leave him in the dust. So when I just said, "Cool, let's go," he didn't know how to respond. For months, he kept telling me that I could stay in Seattle, that he didn't want me to be unhappy or do something just because it was good for him. But I wasn't following his dream at that point. I was following mine.

I continued to meditate and do hypnotherapy, and I found that answers came to me so clearly when I allowed my mind to quiet down. I may have had plenty of questions about how we would make things work, but my subconscious mind was perfectly content with where I was going. In fact, my subconscious mind was pushing me to go even further.

I had another two semesters to go in my master's nutrition program at Bastyr. I was doing well in all my classes, had a part-time job babysitting a little girl I was so in love with, and had a great place to live. And the plan to go to Missouri didn't need to get in the way of any of that. In terms of timing, we were planning to wait until this spring anyway, and that would allow me to finish school.

But my heart wasn't in it.

I went to a friend who was a hypnotherapist and we did a few sessions. It was immediately clear what my inner wisdom was telling me. Quit school. Move out of Seattle. Give yourself over completely to this new way of living. Meditate, follow your inner wisdom, and help other people learn to do the same thing. This is your purpose, and staying in school is just wasting your time and money.

Of course, many people told me I was an idiot. Close friends told me that if I quit, I would have wasted the last two years of my life. People told me I shouldn't go to Missouri and that I would be lonely and hate it. Even a psychic told me not to go to Missouri!

I'm really good at being a good girl and doing what I'm told. So making this choice that was the opposite of what everyone told me... It wasn't easy. And yet it was. The decision had been made, in my heart, in my gut, in every fiber of my being. It was made.

I quit school with two semesters to go. Blue Eyes and I spent months traveling around and living with family (thank you all!), and when spring arrived, we drove to Missouri. 

And so I sit here now in an apartment that's slowly coming together. It hasn't been easy. I've been here less than a month and I've cried a lot. Blue Eyes and I have gotten into some big fights. I've questioned my choices and I've allowed myself to stray from meditating too many days in a row. But I'm finding my way back. The flowers are starting to bloom, and I've been back to meditating daily. I worked with a client a few nights ago, and she was looking for answers for herself. She got a lot of lessons in our session, but the most important one was to trust herself.

And I was reminded that I am the only one who knows what's right for me. Not my family, not my friends, and not Blue Eyes. Just me. And so every night, I go into my meditation room, close the door, and lie down on the couch for a few minutes. Nothing more, nothing less. I just lie down, breathe, and sit with myself. I don't look for answers or try to figure anything out. I just accept where and who and how I am.

And here's what I know:

My heart led me to Blue Eyes, my gut led me to Missouri, my soul leads me to my purpose in life, and my passion leads me to speak that purpose.

Wherever I end up, whatever I end up doing, my choice is always to live without regrets. And right now, I have none.

And that is the end. And of course the beginning. Romantical Fridays is ending, but that doesn't mean the story is. We'll keep on keeping on, and while our plans for a permaculture homestead/retreat center are long term, the wheels are slowly beginning to turn. Rest assured that you will be the first to know once anything concrete is afoot. 

p.s. I told Blue Eyes (a.ka. Nix Calder) that I was nervous about my next post and he taught me the surefire way to get rid of fear. See below for instructions. 

That powww? That was the actual noise that I made. Blue Eyes told me it was a good start...

Monday, April 22, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Healthy Garlic Mac and Cheese (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Today is the last day I'll be hosting 5-Ingredient Mondays. 

I know, I only just started in January! But there is a time for everything, and my time for 5-Ingredient Mondays has come to an end. Luckily for all of us, Erin's has just begun. Erin, of Sift, Stir and Savour, has been faithfully contributing to this blog carnival every Monday. And so when I realized I needed to let it go in order to make room for some new events coming on the blog, I asked Erin if she would like to be the host.

I was so glad she said yes.

I love the concept of 5-Ingredient Mondays. It is such a great resource for me when I want EASY gluten-free recipes. All I have to do is look in my archives (or on my 5-ingredient pinterest board) and I have scores of gluten-free recipes that require very little work. It's also forced me to get creative with my ingredients, and was the nudge I needed to create recipes like:

Easy French Bread (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Yeast-Free)
Quinoa Granola Bars (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Oat/Refined Sugar-Free)
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)
Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)

To celebrate a fabulous new host, Erin is sharing a 5-ingredient recipe here today. Garlic Mac and Cheese. Gluten-Free and vegan with only 5 ingredients (garlic and salt don't count in my rules). Looks and sounds delish!

Thank you, Erin!

(Next week, go to Sift, Stir and Savour for your 5-Ingredient Gluten-Free Recipes. I know I'll be linking up! And since I know many of you find these posts through Facebook each week, I recommend you go ahead and like Sift, Stir and Savour on Facebook now so you can see her updates each week.)

It's your last chance to link up to 5-Ingredient Mondays (at least here)! Can I get a little recipe love?  

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays:

  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.

I’m very excited to be sharing this recipe on The Daily Dietribe today and even more excited to begin hosting 5 Ingredient Mondays. You see, Iris’ blog was one of the first blogs I came across when I realized it was gluten that was causing me problems. Her recipes gave me hope that I could learn how to cook and bake without gluten. And it’s that hope, paired with a lot of trial and error, that has brought me to where I am now: sharing my gluten-free and vegan recipe for Garlic Mac & Cheese. 

This recipe is my go-to recipe when I’m craving a classic comfort food dinner and don’t have much energy or time. I love letting my high-power blender do all the work for me. If you don’t have a high-power blender, you can still enjoy this recipe- you’ve just got to plan ahead and soak the cashews for 3-4 hours. You can also stir in your favourite mac & cheese add-ins to jazz up your dinner. My favourite additions are diced tomatoes and steamed broccoli. 


·         2 cups gluten-free uncooked macaroni pasta
·         2 cups cubed butternut squash
·         ¼ cup cashews
·         ¼ cup nutritional yeast
·         ½ cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
·         1 clove garlic
·         Pinch sea salt
·         Optional- grated vegan cheese for topping

1.)    Bring large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
2.)    Meanwhile, steam butternut squash until tender.
3.)    Add steamed butternut squash, cashews, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, garlic and sea salt in a high power blender and blend until smooth.
4.)    Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni and, if so desired, top with grated vegan cheese.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Romantical Fridays: How Hypnotherapy Changed My Life

Read the last installment here.

I believe everything happens for a reason. I always have. Yet when I found myself in a class on stress reduction, it never occurred to me that it could change my life. But it was the first step in a stairway leading me to where I am now. And just as in hypnotherapy, where I sometimes count down a stairway from 10 to 1, so can I count the steps that led to today.

As part of my final project for the class, I was assigned to present on hypnotherapy. I have always had a bias against this form of therapy and was not excited. Turns out it was not what I thought. In my final presentation, I led the class in a brief hypnotherapy group session, and for the first time that I can ever remember, I felt calm while speaking publicly. As I stood at the front of the class and spoke the soft words of relaxation, I felt an excitement that was completely new to me. In those short minutes, I fell in love with hypnotherapy.

Bastyr, where I was working on my graduate nutrition degree, also held weekend courses for the public. One of those was a hypnotherapy certification program, and as it turned out, the course was just about to begin. I jumped right in. Studying hypnotherapy first and then past life regressions (I'm also a past life regression specialist now), I began to listen to my body and my subconscious in a way I had never known how to do. And I realized how powerful it was to help others do the same.

As I was working on my hypnotherapy certification, Blue Eyes came back from Hawaii. I knew he was back because friends and Facebook told me so, but I wasn't so sure how I felt about it. I was still unsuccessfully dating Tom at this point, and while that wasn't going anywhere, I felt certain I was still looking for someone other than Blue Eyes.

We saw each other for the first time at a bar near my house. I went with my housemates and he came with his friends. Despite not wanting to be with him, I did my damndest to look good, wearing a sexy little dress and actually putting makeup on (that's a rare thing for me). But when I saw him, I felt very little. My walls were up so high I could hardly see over them.

We barely spoke. It was clear to me that he was uncomfortable and didn't know what to say to me. Eventually I couldn't stand the awkwardness and asked him to talk with me outside. I don't remember what he said or what I said. But I remember very clearly thinking I didn't want to be with him anymore. And then I remember kissing him. And just as before, the lust wooshed back in, the desire that you just can't force or fake. Even so, it was just sexual desire, I told myself. Nothing more. I left him there and walked quickly back home.

The dance of attraction began. I didn't want to be with him, but my body certainly did. (This makes me blush to write because my mom reads these posts. But oh well. I've always been open about this kind of stuff with her anyway.) I couldn't seem to keep myself away from Blue Eyes, and one day he asked if he could stop by to pick up his stuff. Sure. We both knew what that meant. When he came over, I asked him if I could practice my new hypnotherapy skills on him. Right. We both knew what that meant.

As a hypnotherapist, I guide people into a relaxed state so that they can let go of all the running around in their heads and just let their subconscious speak to them. Because I was still learning, I was practicing on mostly friends and family. This can be difficult because it can feel very vulnerable for the client. In this situation, Blue Eyes was trusting me with a lot since I had broken his heart and was now asking him to open it up again.

All that being the case, we had a really intense session and both learned more about his inner journey. Afterwards, I think we were both feeling more emotionally open than we had been with each other in a long time. You know where this is going, right?

Let's just say, he didn't remember to take his stuff home. And it was a few more hours before he actually left. 'Nuff said.

I had no idea what I was doing. Blue Eyes and I were sleeping together but we weren't a couple. I told him I was dating someone else and planned to continue doing so (in actuality, I didn't end up seeing Tom again). I told him I meant what I said when we first met and I didn't want a serious relationship. I told him I couldn't commit to anything.

He told me okay.

Blue Eyes has always been like that. He just accepts how and where things are in his life and doesn't ask for anything else. Maybe that's why it was always so easy for me to give him more.

In the meantime, I continued with my hypnotherapy practice, which included weekly practice sessions with a classmate. First I would practice on her, then she on me. Although we were both still students at this point, those sessions were miraculous for me. Because I've had so many students use me as a practice client at this point, I can tell quickly when someone has a natural gift for hypnotherapy. My friend has that gift. I would come out of our sessions feeling transformed, and I was able to connect so deeply with my inner world that I could go home and be able to continue the work on my own through self-hypnosis.

My world made very little sense to me at that point. I didn't know what I was doing with Blue Eyes. I wasn't feeling happy in my graduate program. My health was still all over the place. I was on the cusp of turning 30 and I felt like a fraud of an adult.

But something was becoming clear in my hypnotherapy sessions. Actually, a lot was becoming clear.

Hypnotherapy has the ability to help you drop the bullshit (you know I don't swear often, but sometimes it's the right word). Our minds run around all day like dogs on a chocolate high, and we can't come down long enough to know what's real and what's illusion. Hypnotherapy turns off the illusion.

I began going into my sessions asking what to do about Blue Eyes and my inner voice told me loud and clear. Over and over, I kept getting the same message in my sessions: Be with him. Commit 100 hundred percent. You have the potential to live out your dreams with him, and you won't get this opportunity again. You left him once and if you do it again, you won't get any more chances.

In the past, the choices I'd made in relationships had always been made with my heart, even when my inner voice told me I was making the wrong decision. In fact, many times I had followed my heart only to feel deep inside that I was betraying myself. Now I was experiencing something completely different. My heart felt confused and unsure, yet my gut had no doubts.

I made a decision. It felt strange to me because it didn't feel like an emotional decision, but rather just doing what my inner voice was telling me. I made a commitment to myself to follow my inner voice no matter where it led me. Whenever I was mired in confusion, I would stop, go into self-hypnosis, and just listen. The answers always came, even though it felt like more and more they were telling me to go down a path I had never imagined.

There was a peace that came with this. I stopped having to overanalyze everything and just started doing. It was during this time that I took on a business coach to force me to get over my fears, took on my first clients, and stopped trying to please everyone

And I asked Blue Eyes to marry me. Understandably, he was reticent and really confused about my change of heart. How did I get from breaking up with him to wanting to spend the rest of my life with him?

I told him about my visions, about my inner voice, about the life I had seen was possible. I told him how scared I was to build a life with someone who didn't have a job and had such radical beliefs about our social system. And I told him that I wanted to take a risk; that I was tired of playing it safe. I told him we could fail spectacularly together or build our dreams together, and in either case, I would know that I had lived without regrets.

He said yes. Except because he's Blue Eyes, it was more like, "Eh do we have to have a big ceremony and all that nonsense? That's such a waste. Why don't we just have a party with all our friends and skip the actual wedding?"

As with all things in life, we'll have to negotiate. I'm not marrying him until I get a proposal from him anyway. I'm a forward thinking gal, but I'm also very traditional and I want my man asking me for my hand in marriage. He doesn't need to have a traditional ring (do you think Blue Eyes believes in diamond rings?), but the proposal will happen. That, I'm sure. And I don't need hypnotherapy to tell me that. That's basic science. Woman gets what woman wants. Happy woman = happy man. 

You know it's true.

Read the final installment here. 

p.s. It's my 4 year blogiversary. Happy birthday, little blog! (Read my first ever post and see how far I've come).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gluten-Free Baking 101: How to Customize Your Own Recipe for Gluten-Free Cookies

Quick. What's your favorite cookie?

Chocolate chip?

Double chocolate?

Straight up sugar cookies?

I don't discriminate. I like them all.

Which is why I want to teach you today how to make your OWN recipe for gluten-free cookies. What I'm giving you here is a basic recipe to follow, an outline if you will. I did the same for gluten-free, vegan waffles and pancakes, and that recipe has probably been used more times than all my other recipes combined. It's not just because it's good. It's because it's simple and gives you, the reader, control over the ingredients you want to use.

Let's start. Here's the recipe. Below the recipe, you'll find notes on each ingredient and what you can use: 

My mom's latest batch, following my guidelines

Make Your Own Gluten-Free Cookies
This recipe is designed to be foolproof. You can take this general recipe and customize it as you like. Read the whole post as it contains information on what ingredients can be used. 

1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour
1/3 - 2/3 cup granulated sugar (2/3 cup is pretty sweet, so err on the side of less)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons puree
6 tablespoons liquid fat
(Optional) 1/2 teaspoon extract
(Optional) 2/3 cup add-ins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set out 2 cookie sheets. You can grease them, but I find it's generally not necessary with these cookies. (Depending on what ingredients you use, the number of cookies you end up with will change, but expect to make around 12-16 cookies.)
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the puree, fat, and extract. Stir until completely mixed. 
  3. Stir in the add-ins if using. 
  4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and flatten slightly. Depending on what ingredients you use, your dough may be stickier and you will not be able to roll it into balls. In that case, just drop the dough onto the cookie sheets as you would any other drop cookies. Those will spread slightly. 
  5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 
What can you use for the above ingredients?

1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (without xanthan gum) OR
  • 1 cup flour (brown rice, garbanzo bean, sorghum, teff, buckwheat, millet, or quinoa)  + 1/3 cup starch (potato, arrowroot, tapioca, or cornstarch) - in this case, you can use 1 cup of just one flour (i.e. 1 cup brown rice flour + 1/3 cup tapioca starch) or you can mix a bunch of flours together, equaling 1 cup. Sometimes I just take out all my bags of flour and add a few tablespoons of each until I reach 1 cup, then I add my 1/3 cup of starch OR
  • To make these grain-free, you'll have to make a few changes to the basic outline, so instead I'll give you the link to the almond flour/coconut flour version I made
I deliberately left a few flours off this list. Almond flour and coconut flour require too many changes, so see the link above. I don't like the flavor amaranth flour gives to cookies, so I left it out. I haven't baked with oat flour before, so I also left that out. White rice flour tends to make them too chewy, a bit like mochi, and rather bland. 

2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Cane sugar, Sucanat, brown sugar
  • Coconut palm sugar, xylitol, erythritol
  • Any other granulated sugar
6 tablespoons puree
  • Pureed fruit (i.e. applesauce, pureed pear, pureed banana)
  • Pureed sweet potato, pumpkin or other winter squash (these should be cooked before pureeing)
6 tablespoons liquid fat
  • Oil (grapeseed, canola, olive)
  • Melted butter
  • Melted coconut oil
  • Melted Earth Balance
1/2 teaspoon extract
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Any other extract for a different flavor (almond, orange, etc.)
2/3 cup (optional) add-ins 
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts 
  • Chopped dried fruit or raisins
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Have fun!
How to add protein to your cookies:
For vegans, you can add chopped nuts or seeds to your batter. For non-vegans, eggs are a great way to increase the protein in your cookies:
  • Add 1 large egg with your wet ingredients. Cut the puree down from 6 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons. Cut the baking powder down from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon. 
Cookie recipes that I've used this basic recipe for:
Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Lemon Mint Cookies
Sesame Breakfast Cookies (recipe in my cookbook) 

Make sense? Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

Come up with a version of this that you enjoy? Feel free to leave a comment with your recipe or a link to your recipe if you post it. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Gluten-Free Rice Pie (Also Everything Else Free)

Happy Monday! I don't know about you all, but I have had a tough weekend. You see, despite the fact that my mom's always called me a "city girl", I always thought I could handle country living. Well, country living maybe, but Missouri country is something else altogether. It's been a bit of an adjustment for me knowing that I have to drive 30 miles to a grocery store that has a small organic section, and if I want a natural foods store, it's at least an hour away. Having spent the last two years in Seattle amidst a sea of fruits and vegetables, coming to this food desert - as Blue Eyes calls it - has woken me up to the realities that many people face. I have no choice but to eat a very specific diet - I get sick quickly if I don't - but I'm finding it more difficult than expected to find quality ingredients at an affordable price. We've signed up for both a meat CSA and a vegetable CSA, and once those start we'll be in a much better position. But for now, I thought I'd reach out to you, my readers, and ask for your advice on following a healthy (paleo for me) diet while on a budget and living an hour away from the nearest health food store.

Now for today's recipe, I'm sharing something that is decidedly not paleo. I try to follow an autoimmune paleo protocol, and I feel best when I do. However, if you've ever done this, you know how hard it is to stick with and I often find myself testing out other foods to see how I handle them. Unfortunately for me, this recipe did not sit well with me. Fortunately for you, I still get to share the recipe!

Step one in this Rice Pie is soaking the rice overnight. I followed this post on how to soak rice, but rather than cooking it afterwards, I drained the rice, threw it in the food processor and blended it, adding 1 1/2 cups of water once it was fully pureed. Then I added in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and baked it in an oiled 9-inch pie pan for 35 minutes at 375 degrees F. For good measure, I put it under the broiler for a minute before removing, then served it hot.

It tasted like a mix between couscous and polenta, held up incredibly well, and had a great texture. It was pretty much a blank canvas that could be used to make a savory or sweet dish. If I had tolerated it better, I would definitely be making this often. I hope you'll come back and share your variations with me if you make it!

But first, want to share one of your recipes with us? 

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays:
  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.

Gluten-Free Rice Pie

2 cups long grain brown rice
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (apple cider vinegar is okay too)
4 cups warm water

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste

  1. Begin by soaking the rice in lemon juice and 4 cups of water, following these directions
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F once the rice is done soaking. Lightly oil a 9 inch pie pan. 
  3. After soaking for at least 7 hours, drain the rice, then place in a food processor and blend. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and process until thick and creamy, like rice milk. Stir in 2 tablespoons of oil and sea salt, then pour into pie pan and bake for 35 minutes. 
  4. Turn oven to broil and put under broiler for a minute before removing. Serve hot. 
Notes: Because rice gets hard when cold, this pie is best served warm from the oven.

The above recipe is a base, but you'll be happiest if you give your pie a little extra sweet or savory flavor. Below are just a few of the many ways you can go with this recipe.

  • Add in a few tablespoons of your favorite sweetener, like honey or maple syrup. 
  • Stir in raisins and chopped nuts with a dash of cinnamon. 
  • Stir in berries or chopped fruit. Top with ice cream or whipped topping for dessert. 
  • Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Think chocolate rice pie.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth in step 3 instead of water. 
  • Add chopped tomatoes and olives for a Spanish rice flavored dish. 
  • Stir in fresh herbs and top with grated cheese. 
  • Add pesto, cooked broccoli, and shredded cooked chicken for a chicken and rice pie.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Sugar-Free)

I wasn't planning on posting a recipe today, but I heard from a few readers who were having trouble with my last post. Apparently some of you are seeing the blog fine and others are getting an unreadable mess.

Since I don't know what to do about the post, I'm just going to do the same thing I do in my own life when things get confusing. Keep moving forward.  So I'm sharing a recipe today from my files. I was never fully satisfied with it but always got positive feedback, so I decided to share and let you decide for yourself.

As for my last post, if you weren't able to read it and want to, leave a comment below and I'll keep trying to figure it out. Likewise, if you're having any trouble with this one, please send me an e-mail and let me know. My fingers are crossed it was just a temporary glitch!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Sugar-Free)

1 1/3 cups teff flour (206 grams)
2/3 cup certified gluten-free oats (58 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon liquid stevia
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup raisins

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the teff, oats, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the applesauce, oil, milk, stevia, and vanilla. Stir completely into the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins. 
  4. Scoop by the spoonful onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for 5-Ingredient Mondays! I have a new recipe that's rather unusual and I have a feeling you might enjoy it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Romantical Fridays: Perfect on Paper

Read the last installment here.  

Blue Eyes and I broke up. And eventually we got back together. You already know that because it’s the whole premise of this story, right? The tale of how two people decided to make a life together and ended up moving to Missouri with fanciful ideas of starting a sustainable community together. Perhaps it’s the modern day version of the dime novels that took place in the Old West. Perhaps sustainable homesteading is the new frontier.

But this is not a romance novel. It’s my life. I can romanticize it all I want, but those dime novels didn’t tell the realities of living on the frontier, did they?

Here was my reality when I made the decision to break up with Blue Eyes:

We shared a desire to live off the land, to make healthy food a priority in our lives, to live with passion, and to raise our children in a beautiful world.

And we loved each other. There was always that.   

But he was in Hawaii, had no income, enjoyed living out of his backpack, and had lots of growing up to do. 

I was in grad school, was busy writing a cookbook, had dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman and wanted to be with someone who I felt matched where I was in life.

We both had more educational debt than we could fathom ever paying off. Neither of us had health insurance. And I was beginning to understand that my chronic health issues stemmed from Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease. With everything going on, there was a heavy weight of fear and circumstance holding me down, and I didn’t have the tools at that time to handle it.

When Blue Eyes left, and even before then if I’m being honest, I began to wonder if the vision of what we could share was enough to outweigh the reality of where we actually were.

What had begun to happen was something I had experienced in relationships in the past. Slowly but surely, I began to close myself off, disconnecting from what I had in order to dream about what I could have.

I walled myself off so completely from Blue Eyes that breaking up with him wasn’t the painful experience I felt it should be. And that of course made me feel guilty. Perhaps it was just that on some level I knew we would get back together. Or maybe it was that I had a stronger sense of myself than I had in past relationships and so losing him didn’t also mean letting go of who I was. You see, every time I was in a serious relationship, I learned from the broken pieces when it ended. And by this time, I had learned that I was a complete person, separate from my boyfriend or future husband. I had learned that my happiness, my hopes and dreams, were not contingent on someone else. And I had never let go of that while Blue Eyes and I were together.

And so when it ended, my life just went on. There was someone missing, but I was still there and I kept pushing forward.

Here’s what happened during that time. There are a few different stories that need to be told here and I’m laying them out so that I know where I’m going. Today, I’m going to tell you a story called Perfect on Paper.

Next week, I want to tell you How Hypnotherapy Transformed My Life.

And then finally, The End. Which, as you know, is only the beginning. 

Perfect on Paper
The grass is always greener on the other side. When I was younger and single, all I wanted was a boyfriend. Once I had one, I began to envy my single girlfriends who did online dating, speed dating, and the ever-popular meeting a guy at a bar. I told myself that when I was single again, I would go on OkCupid,, and just for fun, try speed dating. I promised myself I wouldn’t settle down and I would just have fun dating for a while. Of course, you all know how that went. I broke up with my ex, moved to Seattle, and immediately met Blue Eyes. So this time around, I was determined to date up a storm.

I started with OkCupid. I think I was on there about a week, maybe two, before I decided online dating wasn’t for me. Frankly, it was way too much work and I was already online all the time with this blog. The last thing I needed was another reason to be sitting on the computer.

So that meant I had to go out and meet men in person.

I really didn’t know how to do that though...

One day I was sitting at home feeling rather sorry for myself, lamenting that my friends were all busy and I was lonely. I began to thumb through my phone, trying to decide who to call. Do you ever do that? When you feel depressed and want someone to talk to, but then you can’t seem to make yourself call anyone?

I realized that there were a lot of numbers I needed to erase. There were names I literally didn’t know. Kind of like Facebook where you see a friend update and have no clue who the person is. My phone was the same. And there was one name in there that I had assumed I had erased long ago. Well, I would have assumed it if I had even put that much thought into it. Mostly, I just forgot.

His name was Tom and in parentheses I had written (dog rescuer). Back when Blue Eyes and I had first started dating, I was driving one day and saw a dog running in the street. It was a busy road, so I stopped with the intention of catching the dog before a car hit it. Tom did the same thing. Between the two of us, we managed to catch the dog. Tom was on his lunch break and had to get back to work, so we exchanged numbers, he told me to call him if I couldn’t find the owner and we parted ways.

I thankfully found the owner and dropped the dog off.

But later I got a text message from Tom asking me out. He was impressed, he said, that I had stopped to help the dog and he wanted to get to know me better.

I had also been impressed that he had stopped. But I was dating someone and my heart and mind were completely filled with thoughts of Blue Eyes. I thanked him and gave him my regrets.

Never to think of it again until…fast forward to lonely single me in my kitchen…and suddenly I find his number in my phone. It could be fate, I thought. And what a great story to tell our grandchildren if it was.

So I texted him (no, I was not brave enough to call) to ask if he was still single, if he remembered me, and if he wanted to go out on a date. He was, he did, and he did.

So we did.

We only went out on a few dates but the impact it had still reverberates through my life. Tom was one of the nicest men I think I have ever met. He was handsome, intelligent, funny, and seemed to be in the same place I was in life. He was just about to start grad school, shared my social and political beliefs and truly wanted to make a difference in this world. Once again, I was impressed by him and I knew that he had many of the qualities I had been looking for.

Blue Eyes used to tell me that he didn’t look good on paper. Tom was perfect on paper.

And yet not once did I ever feel the spark of passion between us that I felt with Blue Eyes. I felt friendship, a desire to connect, and shared beliefs. When I looked in his eyes, I saw someone that would be the perfect husband… to someone else. I desperately wished that person was me because here was someone who fit me the way Blue Eyes didn’t. Here was someone whose goals matched mine and who “made sense.” 

But try as I might, I couldn't make myself feel something that wasn't there. 

I realized then that I had no control over who I loved. I could control who I chose to be with, but not who I fell for. I had always tried to control that just like I wanted to be in charge of everything else in my life. And of course it had never worked.

Blue Eyes may not have been perfect on paper, but he was the one my heart wanted. For better or worse.

Now, I didn’t realize all this right away. I knew only that I was trying to force a relationship with someone that wasn’t right. But it wasn’t until Blue Eyes came back from Hawaii that everything began to fall back into place.

To be continued... 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fried Bananas (Dairy/Sugar-Free) and My Favorite Gluten-Free Banana Recipes

I was looking through my recipe index the other day and noticed that I have a lot of banana recipes. This is somewhat ironic since I've been avoiding them for the past couple of years. Luckily, I can now eat them again without the heartburn I used to experience. I discovered this in the past few weeks of driving from Los Angeles to Lathrop, Missouri where Blue Eyes and I are now living. Being on the road, we had to make do with foods I could eat that also traveled well. That meant lots of apples, bananas, canned sardines, carrots, and avocados.

Now that we're in Missouri, I find myself still eating a lot of bananas, if only because they're affordable, and let's face it- food isn't cheap these days. So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite gluten-free banana recipes from the last four years of blogging.

To start, we have the ever popular Banana Ice Cream Recipes. To make the basic recipe, you freeze a banana, then puree it in a food processor, but here are some of my favorite variations:

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut-Free)
Avocado lends a creamier texture while mint and chocolate chips remind of the old-school favorite ice cream flavor. 

Immune Booster Easy Banana Ice Cream (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)
I sometimes like to add liquid vitamins to my banana ice cream, like in this version that includes Wellesse Vitamin D3 1000iu.

Coconut Banana Sundae (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Sugar-Free)
Basic banana plus blueberries, coconut flakes and walnuts. So simple. So good. 

Banana Ice Cream with Blueberry Sauce (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free) 
I topped this banana with a warm homemade blueberry syrup for extra oomph.

Banana Bread (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut-Free) 
In this post, I talk about how to adapt a regular banana bread recipe to be gluten-free and vegan. And just for fun, I throw in a bunch of substitution options, including how to make it without bananas. 

Banana Muffins (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Refined Sugar-Free)
These are my favorite muffins. Moist and chewy inside with a nice crumb on the outside. 

Hint O' Chocolate Banana Muffins (Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)
One of my first muffin recipes, I loved the light texture of these, although I have since simplified how I bake. If you want to try these but are looking to use fewer flours, shoot me an e-mail and I can give you some ideas. Same goes for the following muffins, which are also early recipes.  

Quinoa Banana Muffins (Gluten/Dairy/Nut/Refined Sugar-Free)
I love adding cooked quinoa to muffins. It adds an extra crunch and flavor boost. 

Sunshine Banana Muffins (Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)
I made these in my first year of blogging and they're one of my simpler muffin recipes from those days. I added sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and bananas for a super moist creation. 

Banana Chocolate Bread (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Sugar-Free)
Sorry, no photo here. My computer is broken, along with all my photos. And if you click on this link, you'll see the post is completely screwed up and the photos don't show up. (I've tried fixing it to no avail). But, I'm including it because the recipe still works and is one I really liked. 

Banana Bacon Pancakes (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Refined Sugar-Free)
I played around with the typical pancakes and bacon breakfast, and simply added chopped bacon to my pancake batter. Loved it!

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut/Refined Sugar-Free)
This is the ultimate cookie recipe.  It includes tons of substitutions and has spawned a number of other cookie recipes on my blog.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
(From Shirley Braden at Gluten-Free Easily)
I reviewed these cookies from Gluten-Free Easily and they are by far one of my favorite cookie recipes. Ever. 

Pineapple Smoothie
The banana smoothie. So overdone but there's a reason for that, right? 

Blueberry Smoothie

And finally...
Green Power Smoothie

And for reals finally...

Dairy-Free Fried Bananas
Like banana ice cream and banana smoothies, this recipe isn't innovative and new. You can find lots of versions on the web. I'm just sharing my recipe here in case you've never tried it before and need a little encouragement. If you like bananas, you'll love these. 

1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon Coconut oil
Sea salt
Ground cinnamon or Chinese 5 Spice

  1. Slice the banana in half, then slice again lengthwise. Sprinkle lightly with salt and spice. 
  2. Heat a skillet on medium. Add about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, then add the bananas. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes, then turn and cook on the other side until browned. Serve while hot.


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