Measuring Worth: Why Weight Doesn’t {Really} Matter

Weight GraphicSo, I have a confession to make.

I’m overweight.

Pretty mind-blowing, right?

I have another confession to make.

I’m overweight and health is my passion.

Okay. I’m sorry. I know I just blew you out of the stratosphere with that second confession. But since we are all gathered around this table, unpacking our stuff and laying it all out for each other to see, I’ll let you in on my journey. I’m passionate about helping people restore their health, vitality and well-being, and…

I’m not a perfect picture of health.

Several years ago, I lost a significant amount of weight. Like, I could have been on the cover of People Magazine’s “How They Lost XX LBS!” issue. Something powerful shifted for me when I turned 30. I decided to stop caring about my weight as a means to measure my success, beauty and worth as a woman. I gave myself permission to care for my body, and to care for the woman inside that body first. Those were the first steps to decoding the destructive message I had been telling myself for three decades, and more importantly, to accepting my worth without attaching my weight to it. I had viewed my body as The Enemy, and the scale just let me know how badly I was losing The War.

I was ready to stop waging The War and start nurturing myself.

The nurturing began with saying nice things. Out loud. To my own face. Things like:

  • “You have a warm heart.”
  • “You have a wicked sense of humor.”
  • “Your blood pressure is PERFECT.”
  • “Those upper arms are pretty tight.”
  • “Nice boobs.”

I focused on the things I liked about myself already. I even borrowed a couple of attributes my husband and best friend liked about me. And you know what happened? Nothing at first. They were just words. But then the words started to feel true and I gave myself permission to believe them.

Over the course of the next three years, I changed my eating habits dramatically, worked with a doctor to balance my hormones, (which has been my Achilles’ heel since I was first diagnosed with PCOS in my teens), and began learning the value of self-care. I did other things, like choosing to work somewhere for less pay but in an environment where I thrived and was treated with kindness and respect. We made a major move, even though that meant sleeping on a futon for four months in a couple of different guest rooms in order to save enough money to make it happen. I started taking classes to expand my knowledge of nutrition and health. One nurturing and kind act of self-care began a snowball effect in my life, and weight loss rolled up into it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I had to be intentional and work hard to reduce my weight, but it felt like a natural step in a series of steps.

I was in the best health of my life when I got pregnant nearly three years ago for the first time. I gained 10 lbs immediately. Sadly, I lost the pregnancy very early on, but the weight stayed. Two months later, I got pregnant with E, and gained a about 25 lbs throughout the 9.5 months of incubation. I lost most of what I gained in the following nine months post-partum. I wanted to lose a little bit more to be in my comfort zone, and felt hopeful. I knew how to do this safely and my postpartum body was agreeing with me.

Then I started taking Domperidone for my milk supply and shot my hormones straight to hell. The weight stopped coming off and starting coming back on. It was disheartening. I take Domperidone to provide milk for my son, E, who has FPIES. My milk was the only safe thing he could eat for over a year, and I shouldered the tremendous burden of feeding him exclusively. Since it was quite literally a matter of survival for my son, I resigned myself to doing whatever it took to feed him now, and doing damage control later.

I’ve never been thin. I’ve been fit and healthy, but I have to do unnatural things to get below a size 8. And by unnatural, I mean I can’t eat dark chocolate and I rely on a diet of black coffee and salad (no dressing) and must work out 10 times a week. Soooo not worth it for me.  In fact, it is unhealthy for me. I’m okay with never being a size 6. In fact, a size 10 is where I feel the best about myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. I feel strong, comfortable, and confident and I don’t have to do unnatural things to maintain it. I can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and eat the occasional bowl of (gluten-free) pasta. But I’m not a size 10 right now. I’m a size 16. As long as I’m on this medication, my hormones will continue to be profoundly affected and my waist will continue to expand. And guess what?

I’m still healthy.

Who gives exactly zero thought to what size pants I wear?
Who gives exactly zero thought to what size pants I wear? This guy.

I exercise. I eat whole foods. I limit sugar and processed junk. I get regular blood work done every six months, and check in more often than that with my doctor. I take gentle, kind, and loving care of myself.

I’m overweight and I can still be healthy and encourage other people to be healthy, too.

When E no longer needs my milk, (which I hope will be one day very soon for many reasons that aren’t weight related), I know what steps to take to help my body recover. It’s also likely that when I drop a few pants sizes, I’ll have some loose belly skin and stretch marks in weird places. I’ll feel more comfortable in some ways, and less in others. I don’t love the semi-deflated way my body looks at a size 10, or the saggy skin. But I love the way I move. I love the extra energy, and I love knowing that my body doesn’t have to work harder to be healthy. I love that I determine what feels good, most of all.  And it has nothing to do with what anyone else deems I should feel or look like.

In the meantime, until my body no longer belongs primarily to my child and for many moons after that, I will extend kindness and acceptance to myself. I will continue to say nice things like:

  • “Damn, your hair is luscious!”
  • “Your legs are powerful enough to crush beer cans.”
  • “Excellent job sustaining two human lives for 30 months in a row!”
  • “You chose not to judge yourself, even though you were afraid other people were.”
  • “You had a regular period this month.  Keep it up, Uterus!”
  • “You have everything you need in this moment.”

Because those words are true. Even if I wear a size 16 forever, or grow even rounder, those words are always true.

I have to consciously release myself from perceived judgement. That effing scale and the size of my jeans do not determine my happiness, enjoyment of life, well-being, or level of professional competence. It does not determine my ability to be a connected, loving, and active mom or human. It does not disqualify me from sharing my hard-earned knowledge of nutrition and health.

My weight does not determine my worth. And it doesn’t determine yours either.

I am fortunate. I wake up thankful to be a woman in this world who has a voice and a mission in the wellness field. I wake up thankful to be my husband’s wife. I wake up thankful to be E’s mom. I wake up thankful for the extra weight because I know, for now, it means my son is thriving. I won’t waste a single moment feeling regretful for what my body looks like, or worry about changing it in the near future. It is enough. I am enough.

And so are you.

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Granola

GranolaI have a serious weakness for cereal.

When I was growing up, I coveted boxes of Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, and Honey Bunches of Oats. What kid DOESN’T want a sugar-loaded cereal to start their day?  But typically, boxed cereals were too expensive, and even if I found a coupon, my mom wouldn’t let me have all that sugar anyway.  She was a smart mom, and knew then what we are starting to learn now: junk food changes the way our brains develop and function. She did her level best to give us something healthy.  Whole milk, low-sugar/high fiber cereals. Fresh eggs. Homemade wheat toast with natural peanut butter.  All three of us kids protested her healthy efforts to no avail.  She was a woman determined to give her children a good start to the day, damnit!  She would actually chase us down if we forgot a jacket or our homework or our lunch, and yes, sometimes even our toast. We never stood a chance.

My mom would make us granola at home. (She made a LOT of things.  She also split our firewood, but that’s another post.)  We, her ever-resistant offspring, scoffed because the granola wasn’t from a box and she usually added wheat germ and raisins and about 1/3 of the sugar.

Jeeze.  We were really ungrateful.  Sorry, Mom!

My mom with her houligans in SE Alaska, circa 1981.
My mom with her houligans in SE Alaska, circa 1981.

Because of my FPIES toddler and my breast-feeding elimination diet, I have to be careful about what grains I consume. Wheat, oats, and a few other grains are off limits for my little dude entirely.  I find it’s easier just to almost avoid them altogether these days, and I don’t miss them much.  I’ve found ways around my cravings that help me feel satisfied and keep me out of the deprivation danger zone, which I fall into when I eliminate too many foods without having some great treats on standby.

This granola is FANTASTIC.  I’m giving you the adult version, which includes maca powder.  Maca is pretty amazing.  It boosts hormone function, energy, and sometimes even libido.  It can also enhance angry feelings, so I wouldn’t recommend giving it to your kids or eating it if you tend have a short temper.  But the high protein and fiber content will be a great start to your day!


  • 2 cups raw coconut flakes (sometimes called chips)
  • 2.5 cups raw nuts and/or seeds of your choice (sunflower seeds, cashews & chopped brazil nuts are my favs)
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 Tbsp organic coconut oil or grass-fed butter
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, heaping
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom or allspice (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp maca powder (optional, and not for kiddos)
  • 3 Tbsp mini-chocolate chips (optional, but tasty)


  1. Combine nuts and spices in a large mixing bowl.
  2. On low heat, melt butter.  Add honey and vanilla extract when butter is just melted.  Stir until just barely incorporated.
  3. Pour butter/honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Once thoroughly combined, spread evenly on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 275 degrees for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.
  7. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before breaking it up, eating, or storing in an airtight container.

*I made this recipe over the weekend. I shared it with a friend who texted me the next day saying she could not stop eating it.  My husband took it to work for a snack and it didn’t come home again.  This stuff is crazy addictive. :)

Nutella Torte

nutellatorteIn my 20’s, long before I became a mom, wife, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, or official Pacific Northwesterner, I was a serious wanderlust-er.  I traveled. I visited over 25 countries and tasted all of the foods I could.  But my first love of travel + food was in the back of a 16 passenger van on the way to Virginia when I was 18. (I know.  It’s not what you would expect from soon-to-be college kid in the back of a van, right?)

My  travel + food love affair began in the spring of 1997 with Nutella.  (If you’ve never had it, don’t eat it.  You won’t be able to put the spoon down.  Maybe ever.) I remember my first taste of the gooey chocolate hazelnut mixture; I was on a road trip with some friends to check out a college on the east coast during my senior year in high school.  My friend, Amy, pulled out a jar and a bag of pretzel sticks.  She passed it around the 16 passenger van.  My first taste was something akin to what I understand heroin addicts experience the first time they use.  It was a magical revelation.  It was transcendent.  It was a brand new food reality opening up before me.  I had no idea anything could taste that good.  I was hooked.

The spring of 1997 sparked a long love affair with Nutella  It spanned the course of three decades, four continents, and many life events in between.

  • Spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar during college to soothe a broken heart and pad the waistline with a few post break-up pounds.
  • Nutella crepes in Paris across from the Eiffel Tower on a spectacular summer evening.
  • Fresh Nutella croissants in Germany, Austria, Prague, and Venice to fuel my perpetual mid-20’s wanderlust.
  • A dusty, expensive jar hidden on the back of a shelf in a little shop in Victoria Falls, Zambia, (probably left over from British occupation), spread over hot, fresh chapati straight from the cooking fire.
  • And yes…comforting Nutella sandwiches on not-quite-stale bread eaten at the end of an exhausting remote clinic day in the highlands of Guatemala.

I guess you could say I have strong associations with food.

Well, today I’m trying to stay true to my low sugar in 2015 intention.  My husband is, too, so I wanted to make something familiar and delicious and decadent.  I wanted to  connect with where my life’s journey has taken and honor those travel + food experiences, even while I am in a definite season of staying close to home. But I wanted to do it all without sugar. Or flour. Or (very many) carbs. Or the inevitable self-loathing.

Behold, the Nutella Torte.









Now, I’m going to warn you…this is not low-cal.  In fact, it’s high-cal.  You’re going to have to watch your portion control here, but that’s okay because you’ll want to savor every bite.  Remember good times.  Share a memory with your family.  Feel all the warm fuzzies that fill your heart as you fill your belly. Then put the damn thing away because it’s going to be tempting to eat it all in one day.


  • 2 cups of finely ground hazelnut meal  (you can grind your own with a food processor, or buy it for a pretty penny from WF)*
  • 1 cup erythritol or 2/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp melted butter or hazelnut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 20 drops of liquid stevia (only if using erythritol)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of light cream or half & half
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • a prayer of gratitude that you can eat something tastes like Nutella again


1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Lightly grease a 8″ springform or round cake pan
3) Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously for about a few seconds
4) Combine dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
5) Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, and stir until fully incorporated
6) Pour into pan
7) Put pan into the oven for about 35 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude.

Let the torte cool quite a bit, for about one hour.  I know, it’s torture.  One whole hour.  And it’s just staring at you.  Waiting for you to top it with some fresh, home-made whipped cream sweetened only with a bit of vanilla extract and a few fresh raspberries and devour it’s warm hazelnutty-chocolatey goodness.

(*Please note that if you want to forgo hazelnut meal, you can easily substitute almond meal.  One of my very favorite variations is to add a little bit of almond extract and unsweetened dried tart cherries.  I also like to use unsweetened baking chocolate instead of the cocoa powder, melt it with the butter on my faux double-boiler, and add it to the wet ingredients.)

Do you have any favorite Nutella memories?  Please share.  You’re among friends.

Sunbutter Brownies

Photo of Sunbutter BrowniesOne of my nieces, C, has a wicked peanut allergy.  It’s the epi-pen-everywhere-she-goes kind of peanut allergy.  She’s dealt with it all of her 11 years, long before it was the popular allergy to have. C was my first exposure to the reality of how profoundly devastating food allergies can be. I vividly remember my sister-in-law cleaning out their pantry and offering me a box full of nuts and nut products. The gentle reminders via email or phone call from my brother about their new nut-free home before weekend visits and family vacations in an effort keep C safe.

At the time, I didn’t grasp how drastically every social interaction changed for my brother’s family the moment C’s allergy necessitated an epi pen. It was a very serious condition for such a tiny human to deal with, and although I was fully committed to keeping her safe, I still forgot to leave the cashews in the car sometimes or check the label on her treats to make sure they weren’t made in a facility that processed peanuts. Luckily, my brother, sis-in-law, and oldest niece were vigilant and wouldn’t let anything that even hinted at peanuts to cross the threshold. (As it turns out, it was crazy hard to find toddler treats processed in a peanut-free facility 10 years ago. Now, it’s a bit easier because food allergies are so prevalent. ) I wish I could go back to 20-something year-old Carrie and give her a good shake about the reality of food allergies, and the sonic effect families with food allergies experience.

In spite of her challenges, C has always had a resilient and sunny attitude, even when it meant missing out on a special treat or experience with her friends or big sister.  C bounces along, continually looking for the silver lining, sharing her bright energy and outlook with the world. I wanted to create something especially for C, since nuts of all kinds are off limits now, and her family is trying to cut back on sugar. She’s a total chocoholic (it runs in the family!). Of course you can always sub a different seed or nut butter, but these are so yummy, there’s no need!


  • 1 16 oz jar of smooth sunbutter
  • 2 eggs
1 avocado (yep, you read that right) or 1/4 cup coconut oil…but it won’t be as good as the avocado.
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
20 drops liquid stevia
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 bar of 90% dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt


  1. Mash the avocado until totally smooth. You can put it in the food processor if you’d like.
  2. Add sunbutter, vanilla extract, stevia, eggs, and blend VERY WELL.
  3. Combine baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and erythritol in a separate bowl, then add to sunbutter mixture, mixing well.
  4. Press mixture into 9×13 glass baking dish, and spread evenly. (A smaller dish is fine, too.)
  5. Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Picture of Chocolate Chia Seed PuddingChia seeds…love them or hate them, they are packed full of micro-nutrients. While chia seeds are a relatively new food to the United States, they sustained ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures for generations. In fact, in the ancient Mayan language, the word “chia” literally translates to “strength”. How great is that? Food should make us strong. And stable. And restore our vitality. And be genetic building blocks to produce other, stable, strong, healthy, whole, and vital offspring. According to the USDA, this is how a single ounce of chia seeds help keep folks healthy today:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • Decent additional amounts of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

So, why are we not eating chia seeds by the handful?

First off, they’re seeds. They are tiny and get stuck in your teeth and taste like seeds. Not like pumpkin seeds, which are pretty flavorful when roasted. These taste…earthy. Earthy isn’t bad, it’s just not always palatable as a stand-alone flavor. Chia seeds also absorb liquid, which makes them challenging to chew. The good news is, they are very easy to add to salads, side dishes, main dishes, drinks and desserts. They quickly take on the flavor of other foods they are prepared with, and trade in their earthy flavor without any resentment.

My favorite vehicle for this nutrient-dense food is a no-cook, dairy-free pudding. It’s so simple, ridiculously satisfying, easy to prepare, and appeals to many palates. My dad loves tapioca pudding, and I originally created this for him. My young nieces also like it, so I consider this a multi-generational food win. It is also easy to mak


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut crystals or other low-glycemic sweetener
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
10-15 drops vanilla stevia (optional)


  1. Mix everything together until well-combined.
  2. Chill for 2-3 hours, or up to 4 days.

Alternate Preparations:

*You can omit the chia seeds. Of course, then this will just be Pudding, not Chia Seed Pudding.  If you do omit the seeds, also omit the almond milk.  Chia absorbs moisture and thickens things up, so your pudding won’t hold up otherwise. It will look more like cold, chocolate coconut soup.

**You can also put the pudding in popsicle molds, which is delicious and will last much longer.