Halloween Fun

pumpkins and ghostsIt’s almost Halloween time! I’m totally enchanted with my strawberry friends–dipped in melted white chocolate/cocoa butter (or vegan chips). They’re best served the day they’re dipped.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to share my post on a healthy, happy Halloween from my HarrisWholeHealth.com website. Enjoy!


Think outside the candy dish…c n pumpkin

About 10 years ago, I made the choice to stop giving out Halloween candy. Candy isn’t the only fun kind of treat, and I really didn’t need or want to be staring at a bowl of candy the month prior and the month after Halloween. My husband was definitely not happy with my decision, and I was a little nervous, until my first trick-or-treater ran back to his dad and said, “Cool! A slinky!” One year, a group of girls even told my husband that she looked forward to the “rubber ducky house” every year.  Somehow, I resisted the opportunity to say I told you so.

There are plenty of good options for stickers, toys, rubber duckies, mini games or even temporary tattoos for children you know well. Amazon has a ton of fun toy assortments (glow in the dark fangs, anyone?) Oriental Trading Company has a wide selection. G-free peeps, do remember that Play Doh has gluten. Some are more expensive than candy, but it depends on how you halloween treatslook at it. When you average in the bag of candy you bought on sale in September (and ate), the one in mid-October (trust me, that one will disappear as well) and the one you have to run out at the last minute and buy, it evens out in the end.

One of my clients, Stephanie, got really creative and put together goodie bags of her own (above). She found the DIY approach was cheaper than ones she could buy. I predict they’ll be a hit!

Extra bonus–if you decide to go the non-food-treat option, there’s a new registry so that children with food restrictions can find safe houses to visit. FARE also just announced the “Teal Pumpkin Project”, a new initiative for people with non-food treats to paint a pumpkin teal and put it on the doorstep, so children and parents know that safe options are available.

This isn’t a rant against candy. Like everyone, I have great memories eating excessive quantities of candy on Halloween as a little kid, and I trust there will still be more than enough to go around without my help. There’s nothing wrong with that on occasion. I’m a fan of eating treats when I really, really want them and will enjoy them, not eating treats because they’re sitting right in front of me and then *poof* where’d they go? You can also opt for healthier treOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAats, like mini Larabars and mini Kind Bars, all fruit leathers, mini-packs of pistachio nuts, etc.

Tips for Enjoying Halloween with Food Restrictions

  • Talk to teachers and friends about focusing parties around activities (like pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, costume contest) rather than just trick or treating.
  • Pre-stock your Halloween bag with foods that are ‘legal’ for your child (and/or you) so that you can safely snack along the way. Some treats that are normally gluten-free or allergen free have different ingredients in the special holiday versions, so always double check.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here’s the 2014 list from CDF.
  • Stash safe bags of candy/treats at friend’s houses for your child.
  • Have a trade in. Your child can trade the “problem” candies and treats for “safe” treats, or games, prizes, special outings, etc. You can either stash the “problem” candy somewhere out of reach, or donate it to the foodbank.
  • Kids with Food Allergies has a great resource for safe Halloween activities, games, tips, etc.  Although it’s not directed at people avoiding gluten, a lot of the strategies are the same.

Fall recipes:

One of the things I love most about autumn is the beauty of the leaves. The food is a close second! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Butternut Squash Bisque: The tastiest way to get vitamin A! A wonderful soup for the fall or winter. Allergen friendly with a dairy free option.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Hot Mulled Apple Drink: a favorite at our annual pumpkin carving party. It’s the perfect drink for a crisp autumn day.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: several variations on this classic snack.
  • Roasted Green Beans: So easy to get green beans this time of year. Yum yum yum!

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Thankful for Support: Thankful Thursday

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words, so I’ll use more elegant words than mine:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
~Albert Schweitzer

I’m thankful for the ones who know me and love me anyway. 😉


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You are pretty awesome

you are pretty awesomeThere are so many people that I admire, appreciate and respect…and think they’re pretty awesome. I often don’t say it, and most of us aren’t regularly reminded of our awesomeness past elementary school, and life would be more wonderful if it happened more often.

So…here are 5 bloggers that I admire. If you’re so inclined, I’d invite you to tag others you think are awesome and do the same.

Debi of Hunter’s Lyoness

I admire Debi’s dedication to mental health. She’s got a bunch of amazing posts on the topics we don’t give much voice to: Living with autoimmune disease,  suicide, daily struggles, mental illness…ya know, the things we try to push under the rug. I appreciate her starting a conversation on these important topics that touch so many.

Shirley of Gluten-Free Easily

Shirley has a warm, nurturing presence, and it shines through over the interwebs. I admire her passion for people with gluten related disorders, and her advocacy supporting people in her community and online, and her devotion to making me drool at all hours of day and night with her dessert blog. She puts her heart where her mouth is, and I love that.

Julia of a Painted Pathjulia's love

Julia is proof that you can be awesome even without blogging about food. I love Julia’s poetry, her honesty, her sincerity, her vulnerability and her desire to share what’s real. She writes of love, she writes of whole-ness and beauty, and her words touch my heart. So does her art–I love this new drawing of hers. Thanks, Julia, for sharing your gifts.

Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl

I’ve appreciated the privilege of getting to know Carrie over the years. I love her cookies, of course, but I’m an even bigger fan of her compassion and willingness to share her truth and her struggles with weight, depression, anxiety, etc. I admire her courage in facing life as it is.

In Johnna’s Kitchen

I’m new-ish to In Johnna’s Kitchen. While I’ve bookmarked her Ultimate Alfredo Recipe and plan to make it soon, what I admire most about Johnna is her Soften Saturdays, with beautiful nuggets of wisdom of ditching diet judgments, living with challenges, and all those other fun things that come up so often.

Oh, BTW, I am a big fan of the “You are Awesome!” posters from Kal Barteski. How many people do you know that could use a reminder of their awesomeness?

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Thankful for my hair: Thursday Thankful

c new sidewalkI’ve loved having long hair as long as I can remember. I had short hair in 2nd grade or so and, well, it convinced me that short hair never needed a repeat.happg g and c

Genghis also loves it when I have long hair. It’s a nice fluffy blanket for his nice fluffy self.ch at panorama He’ll kneed my hair, get wrapped in it and take a nap.


I’ve pretty much been growing my hair out since third grade, and it’s always been comforting to me. It’s been a constant, and almost part of my identity. I lost a lot of hair with both tick bites and also when I was having thyroid issues, so to some extent it was a health barometer.

So..Mr. Dude grew out his hair for the past 2 years and shaved it off for wigs for people with cancer. He opted for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program because they have a higher rate of making/distributing wigs than Locks of love.

I pondered it for another month or so…and last weekend, I got 9-10 inches cut off to donate as well.

short hair c 1The strangest part? No one has noticed on their own. Not one single person. Weird. It feels very, very different to me, but just goes to show how our own view can differ greatly from the perception of others.

But you know? I’m thankful. Thankful to be able to help someone, even in a small way. I can’t give blood anymore, so it feels nice to be able to do something. It’s been such a long decade of medical stuff, too, that there was a part of me that wanted to let go of the past and move on.

Besides, it’ll grow back. 😉

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Autumn Recipes: Top 10 Favorites

Ah, the taste of Autumn. Here are some of my favorite recipes that are perfect this time of year:


apple crisp 2013

Apple crisp Vegan, grain-free—one of my very favorites

cheryl's pralines

Vegan Maple Pralines! So amazingly delicious—refined sugar-free and vegan

glazed walnuts

Cinnamon Roasted Walnuts

Sweet Potato Pie: Yes, please! Vegan & Paleo friendly


E’s Cake (Chocolate Hazelnut Torte): amazing and gluten-free, but that’s about it.


sniffle stew

Sniffle Stew

Veggie recipes:

bn puree

Roasting a Butternut Squash


Celery in chestnut Sauce


Green Beans, Roasted


Hot mulled apple cider

I’m sending these yummies over to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Gluten Free Wednesdays are co-hosted by Linda of Gluten-free Homemaker, Shirley of gluten free easily AKA GFE! and Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

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Thankful for a mini-vacation: Thursday Thankful

cacapon mountainThe last few weeks have been a whirlwind emotionally, so I was extremely grateful that we had a long weekend planned in WV. It was so great to get away and sit on “my” mountain, listening to the birds and the trees, and enjoy the sunshine.

I wish I could have stayed a week, but I’m grateful for the reminder that even a few days can do wonders.

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Thankful for Savta

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANote: I wrote this post on Tuesday morning as a tribute, and Savta died Tuesday night. I’m not ready to go through and switch all of the grammar to past tense quite yet. I trust that Savta is out of pain now, and hope she’s reunited with her beloved dog Kiki from when she was a child.

Savta means grandmother, and while Savta is alive right now, much of her is already gone, and her time here is short. I wanted to honor her in a way, because she is certainly one of a kind.

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I wrote “books”. They were fully illustrated, of course, complete with a title page and everything. I remember showing Savta my latest book, and she’d oooh and aaah over them. I think it went over my head that she couldn’t read English….and so perhaps they weren’t as impressive as I thought.

Thinking back to my childhood memories, oddly, I remember that she always had Mentos. Minty and fruity Mentos. Isn’t it funny the things that stick in our minds years later?

She was always an amazing baker, with these delicious circular shaped breads. I wish I knew how to make them, so I could figure out how to make them gluten-free! She was not one to share her recipes, even with her grandchildren.

She also made a chicken and rice dish called T’Beet. I’ve seen a few recipes, I haven’t tried any of them yet. Long story short, T’Beet is something delicious enough to write sonnets about. Enough said.

One of the things I appreciated most about Savta was that she remembered a time and a place that few living people can imagine. She would talk at length of the beauty of living in Iraq, where Jews, Muslims, and Kurds all gathered as neighbors and shared meals and celebrated together.

And I think to myself…what a wonderful world. Obviously that’s not the world we live in now, but even the memory of the peace of the past is a ray of hope for the future, and something I hope is never forgotten.


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Thankful for the little things–Thursday Thankful



First, something you may be thankful for–I’m giving away a bunch of Canyon Bakehouse breads on my nutrition site (breakfast ideas, too!)

There are so many little things I’m grateful for–so many that are large, but so many small gifts.

  • I’m thankful for the freedom I enjoy that I generally take for granted.
  • I’m so thankful for peaches, and probably had the last of the season today. I’ve even had a few amazing apples
  • I’m so  thankful for our furry loves
  • I’m thankful for my new kale starts. They’re beautiful, and I can’t wait until the grow up and I can eat them!
  • I’m thankful for a quieter week at work
  • I’m grateful for the freedom to say no when I feel like it. It’s such a privileged to turn down jobs that I simply don’t want to do because they don’t fit my interests or just don’t feel right.
  • Thankful for a lovely nap this afternoon
  • Thankful for ginger chicken (YUM!!!) and roasted broccoli for dinner.
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Chocolate Egg Cream-Vegan, Paleo Friendly

solo egg creamIt’s definitely time for a chocolate fix, yes?

Years ago, I was flipping through a magazine that had a recipe for chocolate egg creams. I’m surprised that I actually read it, as someone who can’t eat eggs or cream, but hey. Essentially, a chocolate egg cream is a chocolate soda. Fluffy, fizzy chocolate soda. Who’s going to argue with that? According to my old buddy Wikipedia, back in the day, they were made with egg and milk, egg creamsnow it’s usually made with sparkling water, milk and chocolate syrup, making it very easy to adapt to any diet.

They’re ridiculously easy and delicious, and with ingredients I always have on hand. I’ve been making them for years, especially on hot summer days, and I’ve never gotten a good picture until now. Many thanks to Mr. Dude for his photography.

¼ cup raw cacao powder, sifted*

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup of creamy non-dairy milk, like cashew milk (water does work in a pinch, btw)

2 dropperfuls of vanilla stevia concentrate

2 cups sparking water, like San Pelligrino

egg creamSift the cocoa powder, and stir in the maple syrup. Stir really well…this is key for a smooth and yummy egg cream! Add in the milk and stevia and stir thoroughly again until smooth and there are no lumps.

When you’re just about to enjoy, pour the chocolate mixture into 2 cups, and add 1 cup of sparkling water to each glass.

Enjoy the fizzy, chocolaty, bubbly goodness.

*I’ve always used Nativas Naturals cacao powder, but my buddy Shirley of GFE pointed out that there have been issues with cadmium, according to Consumer Reports. Per the Consumer Reports website: “More than triple the acceptable levels of cadmium were found in two products, each of which delivered a total amount of cadmium above the tolerable limit for certain people. Cadmium is a probable carcinogen, can cause kidney toxicity and softening of bones, and may affect fetal development.” Yeah…can you say, not happening???!!! so it’s nuts.com for me from here on.

Can’t have maple syrup? I’ve made it with agave in the past and any sweetener will most likely work.

I’m submitting this to Gluten-Free Wednesdays over at GFE. There’s always a great lineup of delicious foods! Gluten Free Wednesdays are co-hosted by Linda of Gluten-free Homemaker, Shirley of gluten free easily and Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

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Thankful for the GFE Retreat! Thursday Thankful

So…I had the great fun of going to the annual GFE retreat, as hosted by the most delicious Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily. Oh, the food! But the company was even more wonderful. Debi of Hunter’s Lyoness, Valerie of City|Life|Eats, Linda of Gluten-Free Homemaker and Heather of Gluten-Free Cat, with a guest appearance by Katie Oliver, author and laughing yoga with Jennifer Smith.

0823132011And, of course, there was Sonny, doggie extraordinaire.

It was fun, it was restorative and restful, and of course, it was delicious. It’s amazing, really. Some of us are avoiding grains, other are vegan, and there were a bunch of quirky intolerances to look out for, including mine. Of course, we are all gluten-free. And yet we were able to generally come up with delicious meals we all could share and enjoy together. Granted, we’re all old pros at the GF deal, but it was somewhat surprising how easy it is when everyone has the same intention.

I didn’t take many pictures of everything because I only had my phone, and the other bloggers are seriously gifted photograpers. But I did take a few snaps:0823141904b

Venison burgers that Linda whipped up, along with Valerie’s (now) famous cashew sauce



0825131239bMs. Shirley made her marvelous Brazillian Un-Cheese Rolls with a twist. We used garlic hummus instead of red pepper for my sake, and tapioca flour instead of coconut flour for Debi. If you’re vegan and grain-free, they are a must-make. Okay, even if you’re NOT vegan and grain-free, put them on your list.


0822142012aAn almond butter version of this PB Cup Cheesecake recipe. It didn’t taste like cheesecake to me, but it was absolutely delicious! Doubly delicious for breakfast. 😉





I brought along some potatoes from my garden, which we roasted with olive oil and a delicious herb seasoning. It had big chunks of herbs, which makes a big difference for me in terms of flavor.


cookiesAnd last but not least, I made my Divine Chocolate Chip Cookies– or rather, I made them at home and brought along a cookie dough roll. They travel well, and they were delish! Somehow, I didn’t even think of taking pictures in the moment, and then, poof! They were all gone, so this is a picture from my kitchen.



Linda made Roasted Ggingered green beansreen Beans and Peppers from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I absolutely LOVE ginger and it was SO good that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I had to make a variant on it this week so that I could get my fix.

So, I’m very thankful for a much needed vacation, full of yummy people, good food and abundant laughter.


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