Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I am a breakfast person; I can’t start my day without a hearty meal.  I am not the type that can just have coffee and a piece of (GF) toast or a piece of fruit, just not my thing.  I don’t generally like sweet breakfasts; pancakes, waffles and French toast are good, but not first thing in the morning.  So, my morning meal is usually hearty and filling.  Breakfast is my biggest meal of the day, going to bed full is not something I like to do and since I have an awful commute and I like to cook fresh I end up eating only 2-3 hours before bed.  That means I can have a little bit of it but not a whole serving, I just reserve most of mine for lunch the next day. 

I just want to make sure you understand that I love breakfast!  Some people like me will eat lunch/dinner type food at breakfast, I just can’t do that.  I still need breakfast food items.  Eggs are a big one for me; I eat them in some form pretty much every day.  Before you start with the whole cholesterol speech let me first say my total cholesterol is 102, yes that’s the total, and my HDL and LDL are exactly where they should be.  I have been eating eggs nearly every day for a couple of years and my cholesterol has never changed.  No lectures please J

Today I thought I would share some breakfast ideas that I have tried and loved.  Yay, its breakfast!

Breakfast Ideas (aka, an egg-a-palooza)

Scrambled eggs with veggies (I use a lot of different combinations depending on my mood, my favorite combo is zucchini, tomato, onion and either spinach or kale) – sauté up the veggies to soften a bit then beat a couple of eggs with an egg white and put into the pan, cook until the eggs are done to your liking.
To get some variety you can change up the veggies or add in any kind of meat, bacon, sausage, ham, and chorizo.  For those that still eat dairy, play with the different cheeses; Swiss goes great with ham, zucchini and mushroom, cheddar is good with just about anything, I have even mixed a little parmesan into the eggs before cooking, this is a good combo with oven roasted tomatoes.

Breakfast Tacos – this is a variation on the scrambled eggs with veggies, you can prepare the eggs the same way, warm up some refried beans and corn tortillas, top it all off with a fresh salsa (pico de gallo) and you have one of my favorite breakfasts.

Egg Quinoa Cups – This is good to eat right out of the oven but I like it best for make-ahead and warm up later breakfast.  These freeze really well and are very easy to make. I have a lot of different flavor versions on this recipe, you can find it here.  Let me know what you do with yours, I’m always looking for different ways to change up the flavorings. 

Hashbrown Cups – you can lightly line a muffin tin with shredded hashbrowns, drop an egg into each one and top off with some veggies or cheese.  I like to cook them to be medium and serve with a piece of GF toast, yum!

Ham and Egg Cups – a variation on the hashbrown cups, this time lining the muffin tin with thin sliced ham or prosciutto, really good stuff!

Breakfast Strata – this is something I haven’t tried yet, but I saw a recipe using Udi’s GF bread that looks wonderful, you can find a good base recipe here (check out the site while you are there too!) I plan on trying it eventually, I will be cutting it in half because we would be eating it for a week if I made a big one!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Taco Pie

I love Mexican food, from the traditional to the Tex-Mex versions. I love the heat, the spices, everything about it.  I wouldn’t call it comfort food but it’s one of my go to flavor profiles when I’m cooking.  Unfortunately since I have been trying to get rid of dairy some of the flavors that I’m looking for in that type of food have changed a bit.  Though I have found with a lot of it that I’m not even missing the cheese, it’s quite a revelation.

An example of a Tex-Mex inspired recipe where I didn’t miss the cheese is what I made for dinner yesterday; a taco pie using GF cornbread as the top.  I happen to love cornbread, particularly with chili.  So I thought why not make a chili like filling and top it with cornbread…it sounded good to me!  It was really good; my husband even loved it without cheese.  Other than that I don’t have a lot to say today so I think I will just get to the recipe J

Taco Pie with Cornbread Crust
(Serves 8-10)

½ T coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped medium
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef (I like 95/5 for this recipe)
Sea salt (I use a grinder and do about 3 grinds, you don’t need a lot
2 T chili powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chipotle chili powder (I use more, but I like spicy!)
½ tsp ground coriander
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
½ T beef base (look for a GF version)
½ C water
1 pkg. Bob’s Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix (made with coconut milk and oil)

1.      Sauté onion and zucchini over medium heat for a couple of minutes then add in the garlic, sauté for another minute
2.      Add in ground beef, salt and all of the spices, brown meat breaking it up into small pieces
3.      Add can of tomatoes, beef base and water, mix well, bring to a boil then cover and simmer 10 minutes
4.      Remove lid and let simmer another 10 minutes or until thickened
5.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6.      While the meat mixture is simmering prepare the cornbread according to package directions
7.      Grease a 13x9 baking dish then pour in the taco meat, spreading until even
8.      Dot the top with the cornbread mix, covering most of the surface, use a spatula to spread it out as evenly as possible
9.      Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbly and cornbread is cooked through

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Salmon with Olive and Anchovy (no, really, it's good!)

So, I thought I would mention again that the energy is getting a little better with every day.  I did need a nap yesterday afternoon though, I suppose that when I start feeling a little better I push myself a little too much.  I need to learn patience with myself.

I finally have an appointment with another specialist, I have my fingers crossed that this is one that will actually listen.  He may just be the one to do it, my doctor mentioned in passing that he had written a book about hypothyroidism.  So, being the cyber sleuth that I am I started searching for information about him with Google.  I found information on him and located his book, I have already downloaded to my Nook!  I am excited because his bio mentions that he’s not just an endocrinologist that specializes in thyroid, he also has hypothyroidism.  He understands what it’s like to feel horrible when the lab tests that some doctors rely on say you should be fine.  It appears that he’s open to taking more than just the traditional approach.  I’m looking forward to my appointment with him, September can’t come fast enough.

I know what you are saying….where are the recipes?  That’s what I come here for, let’s get back to those.  So, here I am, getting back to the recipes.  The great thing about my energy returning is that I actually feel like cooking.  It’s hard when I’m not feeling good, I can barely get myself to work.

On to the recipe for today, I found a recipe online when I was searching around looking for tasty sounding recipes that fit my new gluten, dairy and soy free criteria.  The internet is a wonderful thing for searching for recipes!  You can find the original recipe at Elana’s Pantry (I only edited it a tiny bit!).  I love her site; it’s a great source for a lot of recipes, healthy living tips and has beautiful images, I visit often.  If you want to see the original recipe and cruise the site click here (

Salmon with Olive Anchovy and Citrus Tapenade
(adapted from Elana’s Pantry)

4 fillets Wild Salmon (approx. 4 oz. each)
Juice and zest from one lemon
Juice and zest from ½ small orange
1 T anchovies (I buy the paste in a tube, much easier)
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped finely
1 C kalamata olives, pitted and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use a grater and just grate it, it saves on chopping time)
2 T olive oil
Sea Salt
  • Rinse the salmon and put in a baking dish big enough that the pieces aren’t touching
  • Sprinkle less than ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste over the fillets (remember, the olives are salty, don’t overdo it)
  • In a bowl mix together the zest from the lemon and orange, anchovies, rosemary, olives, garlic and olive oil
  • Spread the paste over the top of each fillet, covering the top completely
  • Cover the baking dish with plastic and marinate for 2-6 hours
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Remove plastic and bake 15-20 minutes or until salmon is done to your liking

The flavors in this dish are amazing.  Do yourself a big favor and only use wild salmon, farmed salmon doesn’t have the same taste.  I served this with grilled artichoke and roasted red potatoes.  It got two thumbs up from my husband.  I hope you like it as much as we did!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thyroid Issues and Education

During the past week I have had a lot of trouble getting in to post in my blog. I’m so glad to be back in, I have things to tell you about!

A quick update first.  I had another problem with my thyroid, I was absolutely miserable.  The bad thing about it is that it doesn’t hit fast, it comes gradually so you don’t really notice it until it’s completely taken over.  I was cold all the time (my poor husband had to deal with me always wanting to push the temperature on the a/c up because I was freezing – I finally just resorted to wearing sweats and wool socks in the house).  I was completely exhausted no matter how much sleep I got and so achy I didn’t want to move (which we all know makes it worse).  I finally recognized what was happening and immediately scheduled a doctor appointment.  I also started doing research, I’m so tired of just throwing another pill at what’s going on, I need information.  I need to know what's causing the problem, I need to have some things I can do proactively to keep it from happening again.  With that said, the doctor did give me another pill, but I think this may be a good one.  It’s a synthetic T3, which may have been my problem this time around.  I say that because since Sunday my energy level seems to be coming back and my achiness has decreased (I started taking it last Thursday).

Things I have learned….while I have eliminated gluten it may be that I will need to eliminate other foods.  Soy and dairy are my first targets, and they have been quite difficult to remove.  Dairy has been a little easier, I have replaced the creamer in my morning coffee with a creamer that is made from coconut milk, the cheese in certain things has gone away.  I have to admit, there is a little dairy in the premade baking mix I use, but that will be replaced soon by my own homemade baking mix.  Soy has been a little more difficult because it seems to be in a lot of the premade gluten free items at the store.  Insert big sigh here, that means I have to make everything I eat, I like to cook but really?

An attitude adjustment is in process right now.  I’m focusing on what I can eat versus what I can’t.  I’m looking into Paleo eating, though I’m not entirely convinced about it but I’m continuing researching it.  I do believe that food plays a large part in what is happening to my body so I’m paying even more attention to what I put in my mouth.

Oh, I also wanted to share a couple of Facebook groups that have helped me with information; Hashimoto’s 411 and Thyroid Sexy (when you are logged in to FB just look them up, there is a ton of good information in both groups).  The Thyroid Sexy group has a lot of resources in the “Notes” section, make sure you look there for a lot of good information.

What does that mean for my blog?  It won’t be changing much other than you will see more recipes without dairy and soy in them.  I will start posting those recipes again later this week, I'm still getting my bearings :)

Continuing on the journey to health…I'm so glad you are along for the ride!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grilled Artichokes

Over the holiday weekend we made our dinner on the grill every night.  We had some good food!   Obviously you can grill proteins, we had chicken, fish and steak but you can also cook pretty much everything else on there as well.  My favorite from the weekend, a grilled artichoke!  If you like artichokes and grilled foods you are going to love this one.  I got the idea from something I had at a restaurant; it was on the appetizer menu.  I ate so much of it I didn’t want the entrée that I had ordered.  That was when I decided that I needed to do it at home, and if it worked out well, do it often.  I’m happy to report it worked out very well.

We also grilled dessert one night, pears that we sliced in half then cooked on the grill for a bit making them soft.  For the topping I cooked down some balsamic vinegar until it was a syrup consistency, I topped the pears with a little bit of ricotta and a drizzle of that balsamic syrup…heavenly!  That one is a keeper too.  I love summer; grilling out opens up a whole different world of flavors that you can’t get when cooking on your stove or in the oven.  You know what else is great about it?  Most of what you can make on the grill is naturally gluten free, that’s a good thing!

Grilled Artichoke with Garlicky Dipping Sauce
(Plan on ½ of an artichoke per person, this recipe is for 2 people)

1 large artichoke (make sure it looks healthy and the leaves are somewhat tight)
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 C mayonnaise
4-5 cloves garlic, grated
Black pepper

1.      Fill a large pot with water, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water, drop half of the lemon in as well, bring to a boil
2.      Prep the artichoke by rinsing thoroughly, cut off the stem and pull a few of the leaves near the stem off (they are usually tough)
3.      Cut off the top 1 inch and trimming the tips of remaining leaves (they can poke you)
4.      Put the artichoke into the boiling water, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes (the leaves near the center should pull out easily)
5.      While the artichoke is cooking combine the mayo, garlic and pepper in a small bowl, mix well and refrigerate
6.      Pull the artichoke out of the water and drain upside down, letting it cool a bit
7.      Cut the artichoke in half and remove the choke from the center
8.      Drizzle oil over the artichoke and sprinkle with salt and pepper then grill for a few minutes on each side
9.      Serve immediately with the dipping sauce

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reflection and Panzanella Salad

I was going back through old posts on my blog to see where I started.  I actually started it before what you see as the first posting on here.  I started when my original goal was weight loss, documenting my thoughts and daily habits.  It was interesting but didn’t have anything to do with where I am today. 

Something I think about often is how different I am now from where I was last year.  Last year I was at the tail end of a big hyperthyroid swing, one that I didn’t even know I was on until the racing heart symptom appeared.  I still remember how it felt to be in the early part of that period though, it was awesome.  I felt powerful, strong and energetic.  Little did I know that it was rather a false “high” because of the hyperthyroid swing. 

I did learn something during that period though; I learned what it must feel like for other people to feel healthy and full of energy.  I’m not in a pity party today, at all, just reflecting back and seeing how much of a difference a year can make.  Now, while weight loss would be nice, my ultimate goal is to be as healthy as possible.  I have made a lot of dietary changes; I eat veggies at every meal, and quite a few of them, gluten is a thing of the past so my carbs have lessened (though I think they could go a little lower) and I have really knocked back sugar, though that’s as compared to a lot before, so that could likely go lower too.  I just feel great that I have transferred myself to raw agave syrup and almond milk in my morning coffee J

I don’t really have a recipe to share today, just a couple of ideas for different things to do with veggies since this is the best time of the year because they are all so fresh.  I love asparagus; it’s one of my all-time favorite veggies. During grilling season I like to throw them on the grill with a tiny bit of oil, salt and pepper then wrap them with a small amount of prosciutto, it’s so good!  Another favorite is a panzanella salad because I LOVE fresh tomatoes.  I have seen a lot of different versions out there, but mine is my favorite.  Of course, I can’t have it with great crusty bread any more but I have learned that if I cut up GF bread into big chunks, toast it in the oven before using and toss it with the remainder of the salad right before serving it works out pretty well.  If you love tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar this may become a staple for you during the summer.  It also works great as a topping for grilled meats!  Finally, roasted red peppers, fresh off the grill, on a skewer with some artichoke hearts and bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella)….so good!

I’m making myself hungry; I guess it’s time to eat lunch.

Panzanella Salad


1 lb tomatoes, chopped (I have used roma, vine ripened, cherry and grape, it doesn’t matter as long as it they are ripe and juicy)
¼ red onion, chopped finely
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped (you can use any color, green tends to be too strong though)
Salt and pepper to taste (you need at least a little salt to get the juices in the veggies going)
Fresh basil to taste
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
2-4 T balsamic vinegar (make sure you buy the really good stuff, it’s worth it)
5-6 slices of GF bread (I use Udi’s) cut into large chunks then toasted in the oven


  1. Seed tomatoes (if you are using larger ones) then chop into a little smaller than bite size pieces and place in glass or plastic bowl, add a little bit of salt
  2. Chop the red onion, garlic and bell pepper and put into the bowl, add a little more salt and some pepper, mix well
  3. At this point cover the mixture and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to let the juices in the veggies start to mingle
  4. Add in the olive oil and vinegar, hold back on the vinegar a bit, add 2 T, taste, then add more if you need to (I love the vinegar so I usually add more than some would)
  5. If you aren’t going to eat this now this is the point to stop, cover and put into the refrigerator (just keep in mind, the fridge makes tomatoes mushy, I don’t do this but you could)
  6. When you are ready to eat the salad cut up and toast the bread, allowing to cool for a few minutes before adding to the salad
  7. Stack and roll the basil leaves then snip fine pieces into the salad using your kitchen scissors
  8. Add in the bread, mix everything well and serve right away
  9. (If you are going to use as a salsa on top of grilled meat then omit the bread steps)

I hope you enjoy the salad; it’s one of my favorites and one of the reasons I look forward to summer.  I make it at least a couple times a week when tomatoes are in season.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shepherd's Pie - Southwest Version and Ham & Egg Cups

It’s beautiful here in Middle TN this week, the warm weather they were having out west finally got here.  I had dinner on the back patio last night, LOVE it when it’s warm and not humid; this is definitely my favorite time of the year here.

So, I’m continuing the recipe posting from the weekend cooking-a-thon, I have a couple more.  This first one is my take on a Shepherd’s Pie, one of my husband’s all-time favorites.  I make it a little different every time, the southwest inspired one seems to be his favorite.  It looks like a lot of work because the ingredients list is long (continuing on my quest to fit a lot of veggies in one dish) but it really doesn’t take very long to get it all together.

Shepherd’s Pie – Jen’s Southwest Inspired Version
Serves at least 8, likely more

1 tsp olive oil (or whatever oil you like for cooking)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped small
2 celery stalks, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, chopped small
8 oz mushrooms, chopped small
1 lb. very lean ground beef (I used 95/5)
3 T tomato paste
½ T ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (do this to taste, I use more, we like things spicy)
½ T chili powder
1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C corn (I prefer frozen, less sodium), thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
3 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into chunks
¾ large head of cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
3 T butter
¼-1/2 C skim milk (or whatever milk you have in the fridge)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
¾ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. For the bottom portion of the pie:
  3. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet
  4. Drop in the onion through the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes, allowing veggies to soften slightly
  5. Add in the ground beef and break it up into the veggies as it is browning
  6. Once the meat is browned add in the tomato paste and spices, cook for another minute giving everything a chance to meld and the paste a chance to really wake up
  7. Add in the tomatoes, beans and corn, stirring everything together well
  8. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer another 15 minutes to reduce the amount of liquid
  9. Add the potatoes and cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender
  10. Drain potatoes and cauliflower then put back into the pot, add in the cream cheese, butter, milk, salt and pepper, and use an electric mixer to combine everything until smooth (you are looking for a thick but smooth consistency)
  11. At this point check the meat mixture for salt/pepper needs along with spices.  I find when using canned beans and veggies I often don’t need to add salt.  If you add salt let it cook for a couple of minutes before moving on to the next step
  12. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, add in the meat mixture and spread to an even layer, add the potato/cauliflower mixture on top
  13. If you are baking the dish now, add the cheese and place in the oven.  It should only take about 20-25 minutes because everything is already hot
  14. If you are going to put it in the refrigerator for later in the week, allow it to cool then cover and refrigerate, when you take it out to bake allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes then cover with foil before putting it in the oven, bake for 30 minutes covered, remove the cover, add the cheese then bake until the cheese is melted.
The second recipe was for breakfast this week, the husband is trying to work out in the morning and he’s usually the breakfast cook during the week.  We have done quinoa cups a lot so I decided to go a little different and do ham and egg cups.  I have seen different versions over and over across the web, this was just what I came up with after seeing a bunch and deciding how to do it my way (loading up with veggies).

Ham and Egg Cups
Serves 6-12 depending on hunger levels

12 slices of deli ham (make sure it’s GF and are the right size to line the cup on a regular size muffin tin with a little extra room)
½ red bell pepper
4 oz. mushrooms, quartered
½ medium zucchini, chopped
3 green onions, cut into quarters
6 large eggs
2 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray regular size 12-count muffin tin (or two 6-count tins) liberally with cooking spray
  3. Place one slice of ham in each cup, pushing it down so that you can fill it with your egg mixture
  4. Put all of the remaining ingredients in a blender in the order shown on the list (just a hint, I have learned through trial and error)
  5. Start the blender out on a low setting and move up as things start to get chopped up, you are looking for everything to be well-blended
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the ham cups, filling all about 2/3 of the way, if you have extra when you are done just top off some that look a little less full than others
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, check around 15 minutes to test doneness, egg should be set and not runny
  8. Serve right away or let cool and store in a container in the refrigerator, they warm up really easily and quickly!

Happy Wednesday everyone..!