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 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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Back-to-School G-Free Snacking Guide–Nutritionist Approved!

I’m a huge fan of naturally gluten-free food. It’s usually healthier, usually cheaper, and IMHO, usually tastier, too. That’s especially this time of year when there are a lot of yummy options almost in season!

And yet…there are so many reasons packaged foods do absolutely come OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAin handy from time to time, whether it’s because of school, sports,  after-school activities and travel, job demands, outdoor activities that prevent easy access or you just need to have something shelf-stable and portable in the car in case of emergency.

I’ve put together a 2014 updated list of some of my favorite healthier options among packaged products, with an eye out towards ones that are lower in sugar, higher in fiber and protein, and less processed. Obviously, you don’t want to forget naturally gluten-free options, too!


What do I consider a gluten-free healthy bar? In a nutshell, mostly ingredients your grandmother would recognize, some protein and fiber for fullness and of course, gluten-free.


Quick meal options


Shelf-stable options:

  • CookSimple® has a variety of boxed meals (some gluten-free, some not)
  • GoPicnic® has pre-packed meals that are shelf-stable. (some vegan options)
  • St. Dafour® has tinned meals (some gluten-free, some not)

Cereals: (other great breakfast options here)


Ah, the task of finding a g-free bread with enough fiber. Try these:wonderbread

Companies that offer sample boxes

 All products are gluten-free per the manufacturer’s claim. Always double check labels, because products do change. Some do contain other allergens.
Did I leave out one of your favorites? Leave me a note in the comments.
This post does contain some affiliate links. I receive a small % if you purchase through those links, but there is no additional cost to you.
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Thankful for my garden-Thankful Thursday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a lot to be grateful for last week, since I had a great time at the GFE retreat! (pictures to follow) But this week is devoted to the lovelies in my garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy potatoes…quite a few had residents. I’m not a huge potato eater, but the deer don’t eat them so I’m tempted to grow them again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe deer nommed most of my peppers, but I snagged this one for Mr. Dude.

mah broccoliBroccoli–this is from when it was cooler, but I’m planting more on Friday.

It’s pretty awesome to eat these treasures…and see them grow.

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Thankful for regular visits–Thursday Thankful

regular visitsThere’s a great quote by Rumi “Do you pay regular visits to yourself?” It’s always struck me because if I’m not conscious about my choices, hours and days fly by and I haven’t checked in with myself. It’s entirely too easy to do. I generally do a formal meditation most days, but it’s kinda nice to “hang out” in the present, too.

So I’ve been very grateful that I’ve really made a point of “making regular visits to myself” by spending time in the evening, lying in the grass and looking up at the trees. It’s soothing…the sound of the wind, the birds, the crickets…and a nice way to wind down after a long day. I don’t do it every day, of course, because it’s not nearly as charming to sit in the rain, but it’s become quite a regular habit. I’m thankful I’ve made the time and space, and the weather this year has been so deliciously perfect that it’s been a huge pleasure.

How do you pay regular visits to yourself?

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Veggie Wraps-Vegan, Grain-Free & Delish!

collard wrapI have a confession to make: collards aren’t my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE kale, adore broccoli rabe, and like turnip greens from time to time. But collards? They’re not usually my favorite. When I went july collardshunting for greens starts, that’s all I could find, so that’s what I planted.

When the leaves were little and cute, I’d throw them in salads. As they got bigger, I thought they’d make good wraps. I was right.

Unlike some of the other recipes that wrap multiple layers, I’ve gone for a single wrap vs the doubled-up layer. They’re a wee bit “bite-y” for me with too much collard per bite. I also found that rubbing the inside of the collard with olive oil also seems to mellow out the flavor.

2 big ‘ole collard leaves

1/2 cup hummus of your choosing

Veggies: 1/2 cup shaved carrots, lettuce, tomato, cukes, sprouts, cilantro, etc… Your collard is your canvass, baby. Go wild.collard wrap 2

Rub inside of collard leaf with a little olive oil and cut out part of the stem. Put 1/4 cup hummus and 1/2 cup veggies de jour in the collard leaf, wrap the bottom like a burrito and skewer with a toothpick to hold in place.

Surprisingly, these guys travel well and keep well overnight, too. I’ve made several different variations with whatever veggies I’ve had on hand. My favorite? Kalamata hummus, carrots, yellow pear tomatoes, red leaf lettuce and cilantro. YUM!

I will hopefully be remembering to submit these to Gluten-Free Wednesdays over at GFE. Gluten Free Wednesdays are a carnival of gluten-free goodies co-hosted by Linda of Gluten-free Homemaker, Shirley of gluten free easily and Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Hop on over for some more good stuff!

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The two most damaging myths on autoimmune disease

I’m speaking on MS in Vienna next Weds and started to think about what I wanted to say. And there are two myths on diet and disease that are pretty much ubiquitous. They’re both damaging, and they apply not only to MS, but to pretty much every autoimmune disease, and apply to most other chronic diseases.

  1. Conventional wisdom: diet has nothing to do with disease. If you want to get well, take your meds and go to your doctor. Don’t waste your time and money with diet changes. Move along; these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
  2. Some alternative views: Nutrition heals everything. (positive thinking does, too.) So if you go on the Swank diet, the Wahls protocol, raw foods, gluten-free, Paleo, etc. or think happy thoughts, your disease will go into remission or be cured. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong/not trying hard enough/not seeing the right practitioner.

Both are a complete and utter load of horsie poo, and are damaging to health in a global way.

It’s ridiculous to think that what we eat doesn’t affect our body’s function,gardensept09 and the new dietary trials and increased awareness is a huge plus. It’s equally problematic to suggest we have no control over our health and our doctors are the wizards of all. Almost everyone I see has some physiologic benefit from dietary change—I can’t think of any exceptions to that rule, but I’m qualifying with “almost” just in case.

But oh my GAWD what an awful burden we put on people when we create a culture of personal responsibility for curing disease. It’s a guilt and shame producing cesspool, and undermines the potential good in healthy changes. BTW, Dr. Wahls does not claim to have cured her MS. She is clear that she’s learned to manage it and eliminate many of the symptoms. That is a beautiful thing…as long as we don’t start using it as a weapon and clubbing people with it.

A decade or so in this field has also given me the humility to know that while I can guarantee that the Twinkie diet will not work, I don’t always know with certainty which of the whole-food, low sugar, balanced ways of eating will fit best for a given person. Nutrition can help you live as fully as possible. That’s just not as sexy as saying nutrition will cure all diseases.

[end of rant]

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Roasted Garlic Bonanza

I know I haven’t been posting anywhere near as many recipes lately. I’ve been taking on more projects, and that’s been a mixed blessing. I enjoy my work, but I’m also someone who has the tendency to take on too much. Ah, to find balance!

So I’m delighted to share one of the recipes I make almost every year. I regularly grow garlic, and seriously, what do you do with 20 bulbs at a time? Answer: roast a bunch. There are several ways to do it, and all taste and smell amazing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAroasted garlic fullroasted garlic in oilMethod 1: partially peel, cut off the tips of the garlic. Cover 1/2 way with EVOO, bake at 350 until soft, browned and tasty. I think it took 1.5 hours. Cool, cover the roasted garlic completely with oil, refrigerate or freeze.peeled gar

roasted garlicMethod 2: Peel cloves entirely. Put them in a “basket” lined with foil, then lined with parchment and fill it up with olive oil. Cover with foil, crimp, and bake at 350 until it smells amazing. Cool, refrigerate and enjoy.

Bonus: either way, you’ve got an abundance of garlic infused oil, too. Refrigerate the oil to eliminate the risk of food poisoning.

It’s amazing slathered on veggies, chicken or bread, pureed into a dip, etc.

Chez Harris is a dedicated vampire-free zone.

I’m sending this yum over to GFW (Gluten Free Wednesdays) a carnival of gluten-free goodies co-hosted by Linda of Gluten-free Homemaker, Shirley of gluten free easily and Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Hop on over for some more good stuff!

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