Welcome Friends!

Welcome Friends! I am so grateful for all who have shared their stories of food-related hurts and healings. It is an ever-evolving journey for me, and I have relied upon others who have held similar experiences for comfort, empathy, knowledge and support. In this blog, I share some of my personal experiences as well as some of my favorite foods. I am currently on a grain-free diet, very similar to the Paleo diet. Having multiple food sensitivities as well as hypoglycemia, I have taken liberties with the diet, such as using agave nectar instead of honey. I'm aware of the great agave debate, but keeping my blood sugar low takes priority. I use such small quantities, that it is a non-issue for me. In addition, I still use cream in my coffee as well as a few other dairy products sparingly. I have given up so many beloved foods, that I am stubborn when it comes to dairy. Also, when I am really craving a starch, I will eat quinoa, buckwheat, lentils or beans. Again, it isn't very often, and these foods have some very healthful benefits as well. However, I find I feel my best when following most closely to the Paleo diet, eating large quantities of vegetables and animal protein. It isn't a philisophical choice for me, but rather a choice to feed my body what it seems to need for optimum performance-pain free, clear-headed, energetic and balanced. I hope you find something here that looks delicious even though your diet may look quite different than mine. Good food transends across the boundries of "diet." Enjoy!


Pork Broth

I realize pork broth isn't a standard broth. In fact, I'm not sure you can even find it at the store. But when you are on a rotation diet which doesn't allow the use of chicken broth multiple times a week, you have to get creative. I really like using this for bean and lentil soups. By design, pork is one of my protein choices on bean and lentil day, such a great pairing!

3.5-4 pounds pork bones
3-4 whole carrots, chunked or 20 baby carrots
2 small or 1 large onion, quartered
1 parsnip, chunked (optional)
3-4 celery stalks, chunked (leaves included)
15 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
sprig of fresh rosemary (thyme is also tasty)
1-2 tbsp salt (start with 1 and add to taste)
6 quarts of water
1-2 tbsp Ume Plum Vinegar (apple cider would be good as well)

  • Drizzle a small amount of vinegar over meat, onion, carrots, and parsnip
  • Sprinkle with about 1 tsp salt and roast for 1 hour at 400 degrees
  • About 15 minutes before roasting is finished, heat water, celery, herbs and 2 tsp salt in a large stock pot
  • Once roasted and browned, add meat and vegetables to stock pot and bring to a simmer
  • Simmer for 4 hours, skimming off foam every hour or so
  • I like to chill the stock overnight, skim off any fat and then strain into quart jars and freeze. If you are using it right away, then just strain and use.

One Juicy Turkey

Although my photography doesn't do justice, this turkey was so juicy and delicious! We brined it for 3 days before roasting. I need to work on my carving technique, but I think I have the recipe down.

Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, love, great food! I'm not sure what I love most-time with my family or all of the delightful dishes! I am lucky to have married into such a wonderful family who also are great cooks! Our get-togethers are always filled with yummy treats and lots of laughs. Now that Thanksgiving is over, we are enjoying such dishes as Turkey Green Chile, Turkey Enchiladas, and of course, Turkey Sandwiches. I will be sharing some of these dishes in the next week.
Honey-Brined Turkey
8 quarts water
1/2 cup salt (Real, Celtic Sea, or Kosher salt is preferred)
1/3 cup honey
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
2-3 ribs of celery (leaves included), sliced
2 carrots (10-12 baby carrots), sliced
6 bay leaves
several sprigs fresh rosemary
15-20 fresh sage leaves
a turkey (mine was about 14 pounds)
2 large oven bags
  • Mix all ingredients in one of the large oven bags that has been placed in your largest pot, bowl or deepest roasting pan
  • Be sure to mix until the salt and honey have dissolved into the water
  • Place your bird into the bag of brine, close the bag tightly enough to squeeze out the air and completely cover the turkey with brine
  • Marinate for 2-3 days
  • Drain the turkey (I did not rinse) and place in a fresh oven bag in a roasting pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the turkey reaches 180 degrees. Mine took 3 hours.


A Curry For One

Photo by my 13 year old daughter

A busy day at our house today: weekly grocery shopping, Christmas card pictures (no small feat with a rambunctious toddler and moody 13 year old), rock climbing for the oldest girl, and busy boy-cousin birthday at local pizza parlor. Of course, nothing on the menu is on my "can enjoy" list, so I am now home-tired and hungry. What to eat...no easy leftovers that fit into my rotation day...I definitely want something tasty after smelling yummy pizza all evening...hmmm. Luckily, I have all the ingredients for a quick "can enjoy" sort-of curry soup. Yay!

Keep in mind, with no garlic, soy, coriander, or lime allowed-this does not measure up to my favorite Thai Curry Soup. I will have to post that original recipe for you, because it is a definite top ten fave! Until that one is back in my repertoire, this one will do.

Mix the following seasonings together:
pinch of ground fennel
1/2 tsp finely chopped dried lemongrass (a spice mill or coffee grinder works well for this job)
1/4 tsp paprika dash cayenne 1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ghee or favorite oil
1 tsp ginger, minced or grated
3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts)
1 cup broth (vegetable, chicken or fish)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 small zucchini, sliced in rounds and quartered
1/2 cup shrimp
1/2 cup scallops
1-2 tsp lemon juice, to taste (a light vinegar will do if citrus is not tolerated)

  • Heat ghee in a medium sauce pan and add white parts of scallions
  • Stir in seasoning mixture and ginger
  • Add coconut milk and broth
  • Once heated, add seafood and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes (until shrimp are opaque)
  • Remove from heat, add lemon juice to taste, sprinkle with green scallions and enjoy! 
Variation: Use chicken in place of or in combination with seafood. Replace meat with extra vegetables (yellow and green squash, slivered snow peas, slivered bok choy). If you can eat it, sprinkle soup with cilantro and a squeeze of lime. San J Wheat-Free Tamari sauce is also a tasty addition if not allergic.


Macadamia and Coconut Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole

Only served at Thanksgiving in my childhood home, sweet potatoes were never a fave of mine-not even smothered with brown sugar and marshmallows. But since pumpkin is currently on my “can’t enjoy” list, I have a new-found delight in the beautifully orange tuber. I love them in pies, as French fries, in muffins, cheesecakes, and in this delicious casserole I made yesterday. This is a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving turkey, plump smoked ham baked with pineapple, or a juicy pork roast stuffed with cranberries and figs. Or you can eat it all by itself, as I did yesterday for lunch!

2 large, cooked sweet potatoes or yams (2 ½-3 cups roughly mashed-leave some nice chunks)
1 cup coconut milk (light or regular)
2 tbls date sugar (or 3-4 chopped fresh dates or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried ginger or ½ tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
  • I peeled and thickly sliced the potatoes into rounds, placed in a shallow baking dish and baked at 350 until fork tender
  • Roughly mash potato slices, leaving chunks
  • In a smaller bowl, mix coconut milk with remaining filling ingredients
  • Stir into mashed potato mix
  • Spread into the bottom of a smaller casserole dish (mine was an 11x7) 
1/3 cup raw Macadamia nuts, chopped somewhat finely (pecans would be tasty too)
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup date sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup coconut flour (or other flour tolerated)
3 tbls Spectrum Organic Shortening, melted (or butter)
  • I find it easiest to process the hazelnuts in my mini food processor
  • Add all the other ingredients in and pulse until blended
  • Sprinkle the topping mix evenly on top of sweet potato mixture
  • Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 15 minutes
These are the gound hazelnuts

Variation: Try replacing coconut milk with pineapple juice for a more tropical flavor, omit lemon juice


Sausage, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Red Pepper Mini-Quiches

Please excuse my ametuer photography-it's a work in progresss

A tasty quiche is a top contender for my favorite breakfast food. Of course, a buttery crust is just about my favorite part. Since removing gluten and rice from my pantry of cooking ingredients, I have temporarily omitted the crust in my quiche. Another challenge of making a great quiche is the lack of dairy. By dairy, I am referring to the bovine sort. I can, however, eat goat dairy-YAY! Did you know that goat dairy is easier to digest than cow dairy? There are several reasons for this: First, it has a different casein protein than cow’s milk, much more similar to the protein found in human milk. Second, the fatty acid chains are shorter, thus easier to break down during digestion. Third, the minerals (including calcium) are more bioavailable than those in cow’s milk. And fourth, there is less lactose, which causes problems for many people. Personally, I have yet to develop a taste for goat’s milk, but I so love goat’s cheese!

Thanks to the lovely moms in our playgroup for taste-testing these little quiches!

5 eggs
3/4 cup of cashew cream (regular cream is delish if you can tolerate)
1 tbls mayo
2 oz. Goat Cheese (more if you love it)
Salt and Pepper
Roasted Red Peppers (2 small or 1 large), chopped
½ lb sausage, cooked and crumbled (Mulay's is a definite fave)
2 tbls scallions/minced onion
1 tbls chopped parsley if not using scallions for color

  • Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners 
  • Blend the eggs, salt, pepper, and cream in a blender 
  • Stir in onion 
  • Place the sausage in the bottom of the liner (in the pan), top with roasted red pepper, and lots of crumbled goat cheese 
  • Pour egg mixture on top of sausage and bake at 350 ̊ for about 23-25 minutes. Keep an eye on the time because I am at high altitude and used a stoneware muffin pan, which sometimes lengthens the baking time.  

Cashew Cream
  • Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water overnight or 8 hours 
  • Drain and Rinse  
  • Place cashews and 1 cup of fresh water in blender (a Vita-Mix is the very best tool for this job) and blend a few minutes. If there are still small pieces of unblended cashews, blend more and strain if necessary  
  • The cream thickens upon chilling. For the recipe above, I used it right away without chilling
Savory Cream: add a few dashes of salt when blending
Sweet Cream: add vanilla extract or the insides of a vanilla bean, a single dash of salt, and a spoonful of your favorite sweetener (mine is honey or maple syrup)


Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

My girls loved this spinach salad the other night. It is rather pretty with the pink dressing against the bright green spinach leaves.

For the Salad:
1 container of organic baby spinach
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in the oven or in a skillet
2 ounces of Chevre style goat cheese, crumbled

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, washed
1/3 cup of oil (I prefer walnut or hazelnut, but olive oil is a great choice too)
2 tbls raspberry vinegar
1 tsp minced onion or shallot
1-2 tsp honey, depending on the sweetness of the raspberries
salt and pepper to taste
  • Blend dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth (there will still be seeds)
  • Place spinach in a serving bowl, top with dressing and sprinkle with goat cheese and pine nuts

Rotation Diet

What is a rotation diet? Perhaps a better source than I can be found at http://www.food-allergy.org/rotation.html. Nocolette M. Dumke, author of The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide, does a wonderful job of explaining the intricacies of a rotation diet, listing common and uncommon food families, and giving recipes using the varied suggested ingredients. After my multiple food sensitivities were discovered, I was placed on a rotation diet with only foods that were tested and found “safe” for my system. The purpose of such a diet is to prevent future sensitivities in those suffering from food allergies or “leaky gut syndrome,” allow reintroduction of foods that once caused reactions and to give your immune system the “break” it needs from the cumulative effect of eating allergic foods.

So far, following my rotation diet has proven very difficult. The rotation diet does not allow for many of my favorite flavor profiles or building blocks for tasty food. However, I am now dedicated to making the best of it. Here is what my diet looks like. Keep in mind this diet is tailored specifically for me and my sensitivities. You should consult with your physician or nutritionist to create a rotation diet specific to your needs. Dumke gives an example of a general rotation diet in her previously mentioned book.

Rotation Diet Rules:
1. Do not eat foods more than once in a 4 day period-especially those with known intolerances. I fudge on spices because I have to have some flavor or I won't stick to it.
2. Keep food families together in a specified day. I fudge on onion since it is such a basic element of so many dishes. I split onion (white, yellow, or purple), green onion, and leek on different days to slightly vary my body's response. I also fudged with spices and safflower oil. I am just not disciplined enough to limit my options so. I do try not to overdo any one item.
3. After 3 months of eating ONLY the foods allowed, New foods may be tried. It is important that only one food is tried at a time, waiting 4 days after eating for possible delayed side effects. If no reaction occurs, you now have a new food to add into the appropriate day of the rotation diet.
4. Foods that are mildly intolerated and were eaten often (4 or more times per week) can be reintroduced (one food at a time) after 3 months. Foods that are on the moderately intolerated list can be reintroduced after 6 months. Foods on the highly intolerated list need to be off your diet for 1 year before attempting to reintroduce.

Day 1
Starch: Sweet Potato*, Sweet Potato Flour
Vegetables: Acorn Squash, Asparagus, Cucumber, Green Pea, Green Onion, Palm, Summer Squash, Zucchini
Fruit: Cantaloupe, Coconut*, Date, Honeydew, Lemon, Mango, Watermelon
Protein: Codfish, Clam*, Crab, Lamb, Lobster, Mussel, Oyster*, Salmon, Scallop, Shrimp, Snapper, Trout*, Veal
Misc:  Cadamom, Cashew, Date Sugar, Ginger, Honey or Maple Syrup, Palm Sugar, Pistachio, Turmeric

Day 2
Starch: Buckwheat, Millet*, Tapioca*, 
Vegetable: Artichoke*, Bok Choy*,  Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Endive, Kale, Radish, Romaine*, Rhubarb*, Turnip*, Watercress
Fruit: Apple*, Pear
Protein: Catfish, Chicken, Egg, Mackeral, Pheasant*, Tilapia, Tuna
Misc: Apple Cider Vinegar*, Baker's and Brewer's Yeast, Chamomile, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds/Oil

Day 3
Starch: Chickpea Flour, Gluten-Free Oats or Oat Flour, Fava Flour, Gar-Fava Flour
Vegetable: Carrot, Celery, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnip, Onion, Lima
Fruit: Apricot, Cherry*, Grape, Nectarine, Plum*, Peach
Protein: Black-Eyed Pea, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpea), Duck*, Halibut, Kidney Bean*, Lentil, Navy Bean, Pinto Bean, Pork, Sole
Misc: Grape Seed Oil, Honey or Maple Syrup (depending what I used Day 1), Macadamia, Mint, Pecan*, Plum Vinegar, Walnut, Whine (organic w/no added sulfites), Wine Vinegar

Day 4
Starch: White Potato, Quinoa
Vegetables: Beet, Eggplant, Peppers, Jalapeño, Swiss Chard, Spinach*, Leek*
Protein: Herring*, Elk, Beef*, Haddock, Swordfish, Turkey*, Venison
Misc: Beet Sugar, Coffee, Goat Cheese*, Hazelnut, Safflower Oil*

Extras: Can be used on any day but not more than once in 4 days
Banana, Basil*, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper, Caraway, Carob, Cayenne, Chile Pepper, Cranberry*, Cumin, Dill*, Fig*, Ghee, Hops, Kelp*, Kiwi, Nutmeg*, Oregano, Okra, Paprika, Papya, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Rosemary*, Saffron, Sage, Sesame, Tarragon, Thyme, Vanilla

*indicates a mild intolerance-since I don't eat these items regularly (4 or more times per week), I am able to include them in my diet


Quinoa Apple-Cranberry Muffins

This is the first quick bread I successfully made after implementing my rotation diet. Although it doesn't exactly fit into a specific day on my rotation diet, it works if I borrow a bit. They have a lovely texture and sweet-tart flavor. The honey adds a wonderful lingering taste. Quinoa is a great source of fiber and plant-based protein. I attempted making a loaf rather than muffins but never could get the structure and it crumbled. These muffins fill your home with an enticing aroma!

2 ½ cups + 3 tbsp quinoa flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
1 ½ cups applesauce
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or other tolerated oil)
1/2 cup honey (3/4 cup if a sweeter muffin is desired)
3 eggs (or use egg replacer if necessary)
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup apple sweetened cranberries (Craisins if you can tolerate)
½ cup toasted walnuts
  • Heat oven to 350̊ and prepare muffin tins with paper liners or grapeseed oil
  • Mix quinoa flour with baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cardamom
  • In a separate bowl mix oil and honey together
  • Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  • This helps add more air into the batter, creating a lighter texture
  • Stir in grated apple, vanilla and applesauce until well incorporated
  • Stir in cranberries and nuts
  • Fill prepared muffin tin 2/3 full. Mine made 24 muffins. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 14-15 minutes.

My Path To Sensitivity

It is true, I am sensitive by nature, but this blog addresses sensitivities of the body rather than those of the spirit. I have been aware of an extreme gluten sensitivity for three years and had adjusted quite well to a gluten-free lifestyle, blissfully eating brown rice pastas smothered with velvety parmesan cream sauce, infused with roasted garlic, smoky pancetta and earthy wild mushrooms. Golden, crispy brown rice tortilla quesadillas with smoked chicken, pepper jack cheese, bacon, jalapeño peppers and fresh tomatillo salsa were a regular addition to my new gluten-free diet. My husband and children didn’t even know the gluten was gone while they were eating GF pancakes smothered with creamy, banana-caramel syrup or spicy, chorizo and roasted green chile quiches for breakfast. I could take nearly any favorite gluten-containing recipe and convert it to a new GF fave!

I was in heaven; cooking with a new challenge, devouring new cookbooks, and scouring the internet for more information regarding my new culinary endeavor. . . Then the crash came. Returning like a stalker in the shadows were the familiar symptoms of the past: debilitating joint pain, brain-numbing headaches, exasperating brain fog (which had nothing to do with my hair color!), annoying tummy cramps, constant fatigue, neck pain that does not subside with massage, and roller-coaster like mood swings (although that might be the result of being a nearly 40 year old mother of three).

Back to the doctor I went. The diagnosis was multiple food sensitivities, as often occurs in those with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. I was crushed! I had been so diligent, had created such a repertoire of delightful recipes. Eliminating foods such as garlic, olives (oil included), tomato, avocado, rice, soy, almonds, cinnamon, orange and so many more was a blow to the spirit. Many of these items are the cornerstone of a GF diet. What is left? All pre-made time savers are out the door. No longer can I open a box of Tinkyada brown-rice pasta, boil and smother with savory Puttanesca. Creamy polenta is history. Arborio and Jasmine rice have received notice of termination. Olive oil has been banished. By far, the most debilitating is the loss of garlic. Please tell me, what novice foodie or renowned chef can survive in the kitchen without garlic? And if the food loss wasn’t enough, even my job didn’t make the cut. Because of the severity of my sensitivities, I had to say good-bye to the gluten-filled Italian restaurant with which I had been so fondly affiliated for nearly 20 years. Sadness.

It has been nearly three months since the multiple food sensitivity diagnosis and I still struggle daily with my limited diet, which has to be divided by food families and rotated on a 4 day basis. Yet I am trekking my way through the denial and mourning, finally ready to embrace the current challenge, realizing it is the only way back to optimum health and culinary satisfaction. Renewed is my resolve to scour cookbooks and the internet for inspiration, finding people with whom to share experiences, ideas, and perhaps some delish recipes. I am back at my drawing board, attempting to create airy breads, meals my entire family can love, desserts that thrill the sweet tooth, and soups to warm the heart. I am ready to create foods that speak to my body and soul: I am One Sensitive Foodie.