Dear Google, you saved me.

I want to write a letter to Google. “Dear Google, thank you for helping me when so many doctors couldn’t.”

I had a headache everyday since I was four-years-old. I also had car sickness, felt anxious and uncomfortable often, and was intolerant of florescent lighting (that made school difficult). Since I was young I had many holistic and western doctors offering ideas. Many ideas circled around my TMJ issues, allergy to mold, and elimination diets.

In recent years I kept feeling worse and worse. In June 2013 I got a concussion and just couldn’t seem to feel better. I was getting dizzy spells that lasted for days- always triggered by either a boat or car ride. I was “Googling” every day. Symptoms. Diets. Supplements. What else can I search? I went to specialists and holistic doctors. I went on the most strict elimination diet ever. Nothing was helping. In February 2014 I promised to go one month with no Googling. I thought maybe my obsessive thoughts about my health were making things worse. My doctor wanted me to take anti-anxiety meds but I insisted that we had to find out what was wrong- not medicate an unknown illness.

I was flat out on the couch in March with dizziness that would not let up. I quit driving. “One more Google search”, I told myself. I searched, “headache, dizzy, vision”. Vertical Heterophoria popped up. The list of symptoms was like a personal biography. I made arrangements immediately to see the closest specialist, 4 hours away.

Vertical Heterophoria is a neurological condition caused by the eyes being vertically misaligned. (You can read about it here). The treatment is eyeglasses- prisms. The prisms are added in stages, so the eyes can progressively relax.

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While my prescription was changing frequently I wore these clips on top of the glasses to avoid the expense of buying new lenses every three days. At one point I had two sets of clips at once. That was very heavy and painful.

I am still in the process of recovery. The dizziness is gone. My anxiety is gone (it turns out that is a symptom of the condition). My pain is improving. I can “see” the light at the end of this very long tunnel. I had to do 9 steps of prisms to reach this point. Each one made me very nauseous and my face and neck pain was terrible each time. So many years of adapting to this disorder to undo! My eyes and brain are learning to work a new way and I have periods of double vision (most likely temporary). Craniosacral work helps a lot. I will keep learning and discovering what helps and what doesn’t.

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As my dad says, “We were looking for a software problem when all along it was a hardware issue.” (For the computer nerds out there.)

When I take my glasses off I am reminded of the nightmare I had been living. A few seconds without them and I feel very glad to put them back on!

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My daughter has vertical heterophoria too. She starts treatment this week. The head tilt is a classic symptom of the condition. I am so grateful we can help her early in life.

Thank you for listening to my story. Back to food next time!

If you are out there, wishing you knew what was wrong with your health, longing to write a success story on someone’s webpage, please do not give up. You are not imagining this and somewhere out there is your answer.

 

 

Cherry Smoothie and Cookbook Review

I had plans. You know how that goes? I got a fabulous cookbook in the mail. Skimmed most of it. Made a few muffins. The kids loved them. And I planned a review. Time keeps ticking by and the review is just not getting done. So I give up. Here is a very short and sweet post about a great book.

First a photo of my “everyday” smoothie (recipe below).

smoothiecherry

Then the cover of the great cookbook I read. You can click on it for a link to Amazon.

Now a photo of the smoothie I was inspired to make after glancing through the smoothie recipes in the book. Peach and ginger. Follow the basic smoothie recipe that I wrote and substitute the cherries for the variation ingredients. Very yummy. (Thick and creamy too!)

smoothiepeach

A photo of some very tasty oatmeal muffins in the cookbook. They were my kid’s favorites.

muffinsAnd… Sweet potato frosting from the book. I will definately be making that again. And I will make it with purple yams so I can have purple frosting of course! Next time I will make it cute too. The muffins in the photo were the vegan muffins from the book. They were less popular with the kids but still delicious. Who can blame them for loving the fluffiness that comes from eggs?

frosting

 

Smoothie Recipe
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1 cup coconut water
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup coconut milk
~10 frozen cherries
heaping scoop goat’s whey protein powder (vanilla flavor)- sub your favorite powder

(I do not sweeten the cherry version but you might find it “not sweet enough”, in that case add honey or something sweet)

Variation Inspired by the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook:

Frozen Peach Slices (instead of cherries)
Small slice fresh ginger
Honey to taste

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Combine everything in a high speed blender, then enjoy!

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Grain-Free Crepes

crepe peach

Of all the posts on this blog, I think this recipe is the one I make most day to day. I love these crepes. I have made many variations and many fillings. I like them best sweet, but that is only because I like dessert better than dinner! I won’t go into detail on how to cook the crepes, because you might already know how to do it or you can learn elsewhere online (or in my cookbook).

crepe savory

For fillings I have used: a thin layer of cashew butter and fresh fruit, yogurt and fruit, whipped coconut cream and fruit, sauteed vegetables and cilantro sauce, peach flavored whipped coconut cream and fresh peaches…

Crepes choc

And I make it cute by cutting it like a maki roll:

crepe bento

Grain-Free Crepes Recipe
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3 eggs
3 tablespoons egg white protein powder
6 tablespoons pear juice (other liquids are OK- this is my favorite for sweet crepes)
2 teaspoons melted butter (buttery spread or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon tapioca starch (coconut flour works too but I don’t like it as well)
pinch salt

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Mix together all of the ingredients. I usually give up on the whisk and use the blender. Be sure to use a well seasoned caste iron pan or non-stick pan. Keep the crepes very thin as you swirl the batter into the preheated and oiled pan. (Like I said you can look up more detailed crepe instructions.)

Fill them up and enjoy!

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Grain-Free (Nut-Free) Waffles

grainfreewaffle

I love these. My younger daughter loves them too. But I want to be honest with you; the texture is not the same as a flour based waffle. These are more dense and soft. We like them topped with maple syrup or fruit compote. We made a cherry/cranberry/blueberry compote that paired really well with these. You can also skip the vanilla and cinnamon and use them in a savory way. What you can’t skip is the egg white protein powder. If you try to replace that, the waffles get very “floppy”. If you insist on trying despite my words of caution, then I would increase the coconut flour by about 1-2 teaspoons.

A little bit cute as a burger bun…

grainfreewafflecute

Serves 2-4 depending on what else you are eating.

Grain-Free Waffles Recipe
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3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (or pumpkin)- I prefer Hannah Yams
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon (to activate baking soda)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or other oil)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
cinnamon (to preference, I use about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup egg white protein powder

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Mix all of the ingredients together, one at a time, in the order they are listed. Cook in your waffle maker.

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Dessert “Spaghetti and Meatballs” (Vegan)

spag 2

I have been looking at recipes with spiralized vegetable noodles for years, but never took the initiative to buy a spiralizer. Then I started following a relatively new (but very prolific) blog “Inspiralized“. First of all, the name is so cute, and the photos are beautiful. I finally went out and bought one. The first recipe I came up with was this dessert; spaghetti and meatballs.

spag meat

You can make individual servings or a family style serving. If you spiralize the apples in advance I suggest soaking them in lemon water so they don’t brown.

On another note: I spiralized a butternut squash and one piece was about 20 feet long. My kids ate the way toward each other- this is a photo of the last 10 feet when they got full and quit.

spag 4

Dessert “Spaghetti and Meatballs” Recipe
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MEATBALLS
(Make more or less depending on how many servings you need. I do 3-4 per person.)

1 cup sunbutter (unsweetened)
2-4 tablespoons creamed honey (liquid honey will be too runny), sweeten to taste
1 cup (estimated amount) macadamia nuts

1 pound frozen strawberries (other red fruits can be substituted)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup water

1-3 apples (1/2 an apple per person)

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Prepare a tray with parchment paper (and make room in the refrigerator for the tray.)
Combine sunbutter and creamed honey then form a small ball with the mixture. Stuff a macadamia nut inside and roll in your hands until smooth. Repeat and set out on the tray, not touching each other, and chill until serving.

Combine the strawberries, honey, and water in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the strawberries are broken down. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness and add honey if needed. If the sauce is the thickness of marinara sauce then it is done. If it is too loose, return it to the pan and reduce it. Chill the sauce until serving.

Spiralize the apples. (I do thin noodles).

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Assembling the dessert is fairly obvious, and eating it is fairly delicious.

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Grain-Free Mini Buns

bunturkeysandwich

OK, these buns are not for everyone. They taste great- no one has said they aren’t delicious- but… they turn green inside. I mean super bright green. If you think that is fun; well then you are in luck! If you can’t stand the thought of eating green bread, you can replace the Sunbutter with cashew butter or another nut butter. The thing is, they really taste the best with the Sunbutter. If you make them and eat them all within an hour, then you will most likely avoid the green issue altogether.

bunoscar

I embraced the green and made an Oscar the Grouch sandwich by turning the bun “inside-out”. This is the true color of the buns after a few hours. His face is made with radishes and nori paper. The other side is a trash “salad” including; broken homemade gummy legos, a homemade gummy fish bone, already bitten cheese, and so forth.

Buns

(Before turning green.)

Also you can bake this in a mini loaf if you want some tiny bread. (Just add a bit of baking time.)

Grain-Free Mini Buns Recipe
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1 cup mashed Hannah Yam (other sweet potatoes may work but I like the Hannah Yams best, also potatoes will most likely be good for this)
2 tablespoons Sunbutter (unsweetened)
1 egg
1/4 cup egg white protein powder (I do not recommend substituting with other protein powders)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Seeds (optional; I like poppy seeds the best)

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all of the ingredients together (adding one at a time). Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet into 8-10 even “piles” that will form the buns.

Sprinkle the tops with poppy seed, sesame seeds, salt, or whatever else you like on top of your buns.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until they are golden on the bottom and feel springy to the touch. If you feel uncertain about the doneness, ere on the side of overcooked. (Avoid opening the oven for the first 20 minutes while the buns are rising.)

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Purple Dinner

I don’t shop. Not even for groceries. I find it overwhelming. My husband enjoys shopping or at least doesn’t mind it, so he does the majority of our grocery runs. I plan the weekly menu, write the list, then we go through the staples to see what else we need and off he goes. Perfect for me.

Every now and then I pop into a grocery store to see “what’s new”. A few days ago we went into a store together and I started eying all of the “purple” fruits and veggies. “Oh wouldn’t it be fun to have an all purple dinner!”, I exclaimed as I filled bags with purple foods.

Now I realize some people my find purple soup and salad a bit off putting. I don’t think I would serve the purple soup at a dinner party, but I found it to be a very amusing theme. We may have other color themed dinners in the future!

So what did we have?

Purple Cauliflower Soup:

purplesoup

My husband thought it was a bit bland, the kids did not like it, and I loved it. I thought it was creamy and perfect. Basically you cook everything as you would any soup (saute onion, add other stuff until cooked, then puree it). This is an unofficial write-up for now.

Soup: 1 white sweet potato (wish I had a purple one!), 1 small head purple cauliflower, 2 cups stock, 1/2 onion, herbamare to taste

Purple Salad:

purple

Red cabbage (I think it looks more purple then red), young lettuce leaves, violets from the yard, carrots cut with cookie cutter, chives, and a few purple cauliflowers. Not photographed is the peanut butter dressing that I made to drizzle on the salad. If only I had purple carrots… they do exist you know… but the orange made a fun splash of color!

Also a buffalo burger topped with a red onion and purple plum pickle. (I combined vinegar,  honey, water, and ginger on the stove and brought it to a boil. Then I poured it over red onions and purple plums. It was delicious but a bit tart- not enough honey.)

Chocolate Cherry Thumprint Cookies

choccherrycookies

I took my inspiration for these cookies from the combination of two traditional cookies- thumbprint cookies and peanut blossoms. My favorite chocolates when I was a child were chocolate covered cherries. I remember trying to decide whether or not to eat them in one bite to avoid the mess or eat them in several small bites but end up a bit sticky!

Chocolate Cherry Thumbprint Cookie Recipe
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1 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons buttery spread or butter
1/3 cup raw agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
20-24 sweet black cherries, pitted and frozen
1/2 cup semi-sweet melted chocolate

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In a medium mixing bowl combine the almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Then mix in the buttery spread and agave. Set in the refrigerator to chill.

Set a baking dish or tray with parchment paper in the freezer until cold. Dip the frozen cherries in the melted chocolate and set them out on the chilled baking dish. Place them back into the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. Roll about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball, set on the tray and flatten slightly. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Bake the cookies for 6-10 minutes until they start to get a bit of color on the edge near the pan. (Don’t overcook these- they will continue to cook after they are out of the oven.)

Set the hot cookies (still on the baking tray) on a cooling rack. Quickly press a chocolate covered frozen cherry into each cookie while they are still hot.

Wait until the cherries have thawed and enjoy!

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Stuffed Squash

Stuffed Squash

I think this is naturally cute so I didn’t make an extra-cute version. I do think it could be nice in a bento lunch so I might try that someday. I came up with this recipe for Thanksgiving. A nice substitute for stuffing. Also a unique use of broccoli (I think!).

Stuffed Squash Recipe
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2-6 Sweet Dumpling Squash or Delicata Squash (how many squash is really up to you- how many do you plan to eat?)
olive oil
salt

1 cup Lundberg Rice Mix (the rice mix really makes this dish- I don’t recommend a substitute)
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 tablespoon buttery spread or butter
Broccoli stems, pealed and diced (about 3/4 of a cup or however much you have)
3/4 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Herbamare (or herbs and salt)

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Preheat the oven to 350-425 degrees (any temp is fine). Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Salt them lightly. Pour a bit of oil onto a baking sheet and place the squash face down in the oil (I swish them around a bit). Bake until soft and easily pierced with a fork. (Time depends on squash size and oven temp but about 30-50 minutes.)

Cook the rice in the vegetable stock.

Heat buttery spread in a saute pan on medium-low heat. Saute the broccoli stems, corn, and cranberries until the broccoli is al dente. Remove from the heat, stir in the rice, and add Herbamare to taste.

Fill the squashes with rice and serve hot.

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Lemon Cake (Grain-Free)

Well, it’s my Birthday today! For my Birthday this year I am giving you all 40% off of my cookbook, Culinary Creativity: Let your restrictions set you free. Head over to Amazon and purchase the book for $14.95 (off from $24.95). November 18-20, 2013. This is a super great deal and I know you are going to love the hard cover and photos of every item in the book.

Plus what’s a Birthday without cake, so here is a yummy lemon cake for you.

But first, one more thing, if you are inclined to give me something for my Birthday, here is my wish: more reviews of my book on Amazon. Now read on and enjoy some cute cakes.lemoncake

Usually I am opposed to any recipe requiring too much effort. I consider separating eggs to be too much effort usually. However, it is difficult to make coconut flour cakes feel light and fluffy, and separating the eggs really makes a difference in this situation.

This cake is barely sweet. It only has a 1/4 cup of honey in the whole cake. I am enjoying minimally sweetened desserts lately, but if you are used to full sugar this might seem a bit “light”. Each time I make it, I have also made a sauce to go with it. I highly recommend that you do the same.

The first cake I made was lemon with blackberry sauce (from my cookbook) and whipped coconut cream (also from my cookbook).

lemoncaketable

Next I made it cute. It is really cute isn’t it?

Then I made the cake with orange zest. And I made an orange caramel sauce to go with it. I didn’t measure the ingredients for that caramel so I don’t have a recipe to give you. Here is the gist of what I did: cooked down about 1 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of honey, orange zest, and 1/4 cup of coconut milk until it thickened into a caramel. (Sauce pan, medium-low heat). NOT sure on the specific quantities… but I make sauces like this by eye frequently and they always turn out fine.
orangecake

Lemon Cake Recipe
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WET
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple sauce
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of honey
1/3 cup coconut water (apple juice would most likely work too)
zest of 1 lemon

DRY
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

WHITES
6 egg whites
1 tablespoon honey

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare a 6-8 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and oil the sides.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir.

Beat the egg whites and honey together until it forms a stiff peak (I suggest using a stand mixer for this). Add half of the egg whites to the other ingredients and stir together. Add the second half of the egg whites and gently fold them in.

Spread the batter evenly into the cake pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes until it is cooked through and slightly spongy. It will be darker gold on the edges and just turning color in the center.

Set out on a cooling rack and cool completely before removing from the pan and frosting.

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