How to Have a Healthy Vacation

Quick trip to Portland

No, the other Portland…

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference in Portland. No, not that Portland… think east coast – Portland, Maine.

Some of you may immediately think of Portland’s well known L’s: lobster, lighthouses, and L. L. Bean. Let me tell you about one more – local. I found my kind of place at b.good – a franchise restaurant that tailors its menu to local ingredients. 

White bean and rosemary salad at b.good in Portland, ME.

I had a great salad there with a local, gluten-removed* beer to boot. The salad was their white bean & rosemary, which included organic quinoa, marinated kale, sauteed veggies, shiitakes, beets, and cannellini beans – all topped with parmesan cheese and a red pepper vinaigrette. It was fantastic!

Patty in Portland!

And – here’s the obligatory lobster bib photo most people expect from a trip to this part of the coast. So I guess there’s another Portland L – lobster bib!


* You saw the asterisk… so what is gluten-removed beer?

GF beerAccording to the brewing company that puts out this sudsy stuff, IXNAY is “fermented from grains containing gluten and crafted to remove gluten.” The gluten is removed through the use of a naturally occurring enzyme. So, basically, it can’t be called “gluten-free” and probably isn’t appropriate for anyone with an extreme gluten sensitivity or celiac.  But for those of us who are somewhat gluten sensitive, it was a great find!  Ixnay on the gluten-ay!

And now for the serious stuff…  read what Patty learned about methylation and gene expression from Dr. Amy Yasko during her time in Portland.

How We Recharge, Patty's Retreat

When I Grow up I Wanna be a Butterfly

Monarch “larvae” ready for a closeup!
Beauty on beauty…

A few summers ago I found this beautiful monarch “larvae” in the vegetable garden on a milkweed I had purposefully weeded around.   Obviously a caterpillar can’t take a selfie, so what’s a girl to do?


The obvious answer? Pose it for some awesome photos with a friend, Sheri Bergman, behind the camera.



This year, I brought in a monarch caterpillar and it metamorphosed overnight into this gorgeous jeweled chrysalis (I missed the whole thing).

Check out the chrysalis

I also missed the  totally cool nearly-butterfly phase,  but after relocating the chrysalis outside, here’s what I found just a few days ago.  I had clearly JUST missed the hatching as well as it pumping up its new wings.

Transformation complete!

Observing this process, I can’t help but think of the many different metamorphoses we all pass through in a lifetime.  It seems unlikely that the caterpillar knows it will someday have wings, but it’s clearly trusting the process and moving through it.  Life lesson in there…

OK, OK… I can’t resist one more lesson!

Did you know only 1-3% of monarch caterpillars ever become a butterfly? Birds, bugs and other predators are to blame, and when you factor in pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change and other challenges, the result is a 90% loss of monarchs in the past year.  All of this is a strong argument for weeding around the milkweed plants, and even for bringing in monarch caterpillars for the few weeks it takes for them to grow big enough to form a chrysalis.  Plus it’s a fascinating experience!  For more details, and for some cool videos of a monarch caterpillar hatching from its egg AND a monarch emerging from its chrysalis, check out The Monarch Project.

“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she had always been. But she had wings.”  Dean Jackson

Want more? Keep reading about Patty’s Retreat.

How We Recharge, Patty's Retreat

Seed Savers

Martha & the Great Tomato Heist

Quick and easy seed smear

Did you ever hear the story about the restaurateur who declined to provide his hard-to-find heirloom tomato seeds for Martha Stewart’s garden? Not ready to give up, Martha dined at one of his restaurants and ordered the heirloom tomato salad… and, as you might guess, did a quick save of the seeds she’d been wanting. Pretty ingenious, huh?

You may not be Martha, but you can still try your hand at saving seeds. And, what do you know! It’s already that time of year again – time to select the best-tasting and healthiest tomatoes and save a few seeds so you’re sure to have some of your faves next year.

Simple Seed Saving

Though there are many ways to save tomato seeds, I’ve found this simple technique works best.

  1. Choose tomatoes that are fully ripe and from plants that have produced well and thrived in your garden.
  2. Label a paper towel with a spot for each variety of seeds you want to save. Believe me, you’ll be glad you labelled before the next step.
  3. Now smear the seeds onto a paper towel under their respective labels and allow to completely air dry for several days.
  4. Next, put them in plastic bags for storage.  (I don’t typically seal the bag since the seeds are secure, and this avoids any chance of mold later.)
Dairy-Free, Detox, Elimination Diet, Gluten Free, Grain-Free

Roasted Chickpeas

photo (3)
Photo and recipe courtesy of Leaves of Life


  • 3 cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (they’re the same thing!)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Open cans and drain liquid
  2. Rinse with water and pat dry
  3. Pour in large bowl and coat with oil, salt and pepper
  4. Spread out on cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400 degree oven
  5. Stir and move beans around after about 20 minutes and check them every 10 minutes until golden brown
  6. Leave them in the oven and turn it off so that they can dehydrate overnight
  7. Take them out and put in an air-tight container


You can add any spices to these—try garlic and paprika or even cinnamon for a sweeter treat!


Dairy-Free, Elimination Diet, Garden Gluttony, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Recipes

Chicken Sausage Gumbo


Photo and recipe courtesy of Leaves of Life
Blend of heirloom okra from Seed Savers Exchange


  • 1.5 pounds chicken, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 package savory breakfast sausages, sliced
  • 1/4 cup oil (grapeseed or olive)
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 2-14.5 ounce cans stewed tomatoes)
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 2 cups fresh okra
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1-2 hot peppers
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 6 stalks celery
  • 2 cans beans (white, pinto or blended work well)
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs
  • 1 tbsp paprika (smoked paprika is nice here)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (cayenne if you want spicy)


  1. Chop all the veggies into bite-sized pieces
  2. In a large skillet, add oil, green beans, chopped peppers and celery.  Cook for 5 minutes then add onions, okra and minced garlic and cook until vegetables are still slightly crunchy
  3. Meantime, cook chicken in broth and set aside until cool enough to chop
  4. Add sausage, tomatoes, beans, Italian herbs and paprika to sauce pan the broth is in and set to low/medium heat
  5. Reintroduce chicken after it cools enough to chop
  6. Add veggies and cook 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

My garden has been trickling okra and it took me nearly a week to collect enough for this recipe, but it was worth the wait!   -Patty

Dairy-Free, Detox, Elimination Diet, Fat Free Vegan Low Sugar, Garden Gluttony, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Recipes

Fresh Salsa

Photo and recipe courtesy of Leaves of Life

I’m not precise w/salsa, but here’s what I throw in:


  • Tomatoes
  • Assorted peppers (1-2 hot ones to jack it up a little)
  • Onion (purple is beautiful)
  • Basil and assorted other herbs (parsley, cilantro, marjoram, whatever is on hand)
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons or limes
  •  A li’l salt 
  • Garlic–several cloves, peeled 


  1. Dice one large tomato, onion and largest peppers and set aside
  2. Blend all remaining ingredients in a blender
  3. Combine chopped and blended ingredients and season to taste
  4. Bam!  Salsa!


Great for topping omelets, added to bean soup during cooking or after, and even as a salad dressing.  Great as a snack with chips–try adding some guac or hummus to balance it.

This is a great way to use abundant cherry tomatoes!

Dairy-Free, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Healthy Desserts, Paleo, Recipes

Apple Crisp Paleo Style

apple crisp
Photo and recipe courtesy of Leaves of Life



  • 6 medium or 8 small apples, peeled and cored and sliced
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/2-1 tsp stevia powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  1. Put nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and almond flour in a medium mixing bowl
  2. In separate small bowl, mix oil, honey, vanilla and stevia until blended
  3. Combine contents of both bowls
  4. Put apples in 2 quart baking dish and crumble topping evenly over them
  5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until golden brown


I’m a huge “freegan” and I’ve recruited Francie to the cause…we found these apples falling unused to the ground in an apartment complex we were passing over the weekend.  We stopped and scrounged up a bag and loaded up.  It was encouraging to see all the bug damage, because it let us know that they were safe for us to eat too (not to mention the extra protein they provide 🙂 ).  This recipe tasted great, but was even better with a little full fat coconut milk dribbled on.  -Patty

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