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.

20140510 (67)crop

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.

20140428 (65)crop

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!

20140428 (104)crop

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).


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!)


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?



Smoothie Recipe

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


Combine everything in a high speed blender, then enjoy!


I am sharing this recipe on

Creative Mom


My kids typically don’t eat sugar, but on special occasions they do eat a little. What they absolutely don’t eat is food coloring. This 4th of July we are going to the parade in our neighborhood and the kids in the floats always throw out candy. So… I made these little treats to trade for the artificial stuff. Marshmallows*, cut in half, dipped in chocolate and colored with beets, turmeric, and red cabbage. (And I poured the leftover chocolate into a Hello Kitty mold.) We never did food coloring, but now we are being strict on a whole new level because we are starting the Feingold Program.

*Not just any marshmallows, these are vetted by the Feingold program and contain only pure ingredients.

On another topic… My daughter was recently diagnosed with Amblyopia (lazy eye). The eye moves with the other eye, so you can’t specifically tell that it is “lazy”, but the vision is extremely poor in that eye. So, now she has eye glasses and she needs to wear a patch to force her “bad” eye to work. At her age there is still time to get her brain to recognize the eye, but if it goes untreated her brain could stop recognizing images from the left eye. The ophthalmologist was insistent that we  needed to use the stick on patches but Sierra had a reaction to the glue and her skin was very sore. So I looked online and found eye-glass cozies. I can sew… so Sierra and I designed one for her and made it right then and there! So much more comfortable but we need to keep an eye on her so she doesn’t “cheat and peek”.


Happy Anniversary- Cuter Than Gluten


Hey, it’s been a year of gluten-free blogging! Let me know you’re reading and what you would like to see on this blog going forward.

Here’s a little sneak peek at three recipes coming up… a lemon cake, a sundae, and chicken and waffles. I actually have about 13 recipes waiting to be posted, with more in mind to try out!

orangecake   bananasundae   chickenandwaffles

I have enjoyed this year of blogging and I am really looking forward to another year. When I started blogging it was with the purpose of promoting my cookbook. I wasn’t sure whether or not I would enjoy blogging, but it turns out I really do!

I had a ton of fun making food cute.  Sometimes I made bento lunches with the food and sometimes I created an art piece like the “Mango Lassie” below. Making art out of food is so fun for me, I often get really carried away when it comes time for a photo shoot.

Missed some good posts? Click on the photos below to take you to the post.

Rescue Bento   Pumpernickel Bagels   Cherry Ice Cream Pie

Mango Lassie   chili Taco Cone

So where do I go from here?

1) I will let inspiration and the excitement of any given project lead the way.

2) After the posts already waiting in the wings, my blog will most likely be grain-free (there are already many grain-free recipes here, but the transition will take some time, so by fall new posts should be grain-free). I have been eating grain-free since January and will continue with that. What I eat changes as my body and health change. I can’t say for sure what I will eat in the future, but whatever I am eating will be what is on the blog (because why blog about food I don’t eat?)

3) I will continue to blog about fun projects with my kids. Coming up: Strawberry Fest. We will blog about our cultural studies occasionally too.

4) I am considering sharing more personal stories of diet, fitness, parenting, and life. It would just be a sentence here and there, but I haven’t done much of that this past year. Interested?

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!

Love, Dawn

Grain-Free Bread and Crackers: Elana’s Pantry

I have chosen to feature one of my favorite blogs, Elana’s Pantry, for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger this month.

Elana’s Pantry is one of the first three blogs I started following. I love her recipes- they are always succinct in both the ingredient list and the instructions. I have never made one of her recipes and had to throw it in the trash. Odd compliment I know, but I hate having ruined food.

In addition to her blog, Elana wrote two cookbooks (I have her third per-ordered).  I enjoy both of her books. Check out these coconut lime cupcakes I made from her gluten-free cupcake book.


And her Paleo Bread is outstanding- I keep some in my freezer in case I “need” bread.


My kids like this bread too, so I made it cute, along with gluten-free pretzels, oranges, pistachios, cheese (my kids are occasionally eating dairy cheese these days), and carrots.


I also tried out Elana’s Multi “Grain” crackers. They were great with tuna salad. I only had black sesame seeds so mine are more blue than hers. I also needed less water than the recipe called for.


And I made her Cinnamon Breakfast Bread. I omitted the honey completely and served them with dinner. I used less cinnamon because I have very strong cinnamon. They were delicious. My kids even fought over the last piece, despite it having no sweetener!


Elana is an inspiration for health and cooking. All of her recipes are grain-free, and many are dairy-free. Check her recipes out for yourself sometime, and come back here for more recipes soon!

Fitting In

Sugar is everywhere and I don’t want my daughters eating it. I have my reasons for believing sugar is making people unhealthy (science has reasons for it too).


The teachers at school hand it out. The bank has a bowl of it. The physical therapist has a bowl too… Seriously I can’t think of many events- even small ones- without sugar. A few days ago we went for our weekly swim at the YMCA and they had a table full of cupcakes and cookies for sale. It’s everywhere.

We eat some sweets- as you might have noticed on my blog. But we keep the sugar content low and use less processed sweeteners (like honey). And the kids don’t have treats everyday. Currently I am nearly sweetener free altogether and feeling great (more on that another day).

So, at first I packed my daughter alternative treats, always had some handy, to be sure she wouldn’t be “left out”. That seemed like a good idea at the time and I still plan to do it for special occasions like birthday parties.


But here is the thing… The question I asked myself: Do I want to teach my daughters that fitting in is important? Do I want to teach them that they must have a treat every time someone else does? Or every time a treat is offered? For me the answer is NO to all of those! I would love for them to be confident enough to NOT do what everyone else is doing. To look after their own health above social acceptance. And I hope that gentle lessons now will translate in other peer pressure situations as teenagers.

People have said to me, “She is going to get older and eat whatever she wants soon enough.” (Their point: Why bother restricting now?) Well, do you just hand your 13-year-old a pack of cigarettes because soon enough they will sneak off and smoke with their friends? I hope not! Of course my daughters will eat how they please later in life. Now is my chance to influence their tastes, share my beliefs, and feed their growing bodies the best that I can.

Will I deliberately make my kids social outcasts? Of course not! But in small ways I hope to show them that it is OK to be amongst other people and not be the “same” as those people.

I know I am not perfect, and I certainly don’t mean to imply that other people are parenting “wrong” if they do things differently. Really I want to point out that it is our (parents) opportunity to teach our small children the beliefs we hold dear. Sometimes we get off track by peer pressure too. I am reminding myself that it is OK to NOT “fit in”.