Practice self-care: a gift to those you love, not selfishness

Gillihan Family

(Photograph by Dave Carney)

It’s time to practice some self-care and let those you love be your motivation to do so. It is easy to put off taking care of yourself when there are so many things already needing your time and attention. I know! But one of the best gifts you can give your friends and family is a whole, healthy you. A you who isn’t just barely making it day-to-day.

But isn’t self-care selfish?

I used to think that this was selfish. I used to think that the way I loved my family was to pour out every little drop of me. But all that was left was a useless me. A stressed, down, frazzled, exhausted, anxious me. Smiles were forced, nerves were on edge, and life felt miserable. I couldn’t see and embrace the gifts that were right in front of me, even though I so desperately wanted to.

Self-care helps you BETTER love and care for others.

I am not saying that love doesn’t require sacrifice. I am not saying that you should neglect those you love. No, quite the contrary. I am saying that Continue reading

Brance’s Asparagus, Lemon, and Romano Stuffed Chicken with Quinoa


I was feeling a little worn out tonight, so Brance was incredibly thoughtful to fix dinner for this hungry brood and it was SO good. I’ve mentioned before that we view eating well as a large piece of the puzzle to enjoying life (although, I do not claim that we do this perfectly all the time!). Not only can wholesome food taste AMAZING and be very filling, it also helps maintain a healthy body and mind that are so critical to feeling good. And we all know that it is easier to be happy when we actually feel good.

Here is the delicious AND healthy recipe that Brance came up with for us.  So sweet!



Stuffed Chicken:

  • 3 chicken breasts, filleted in half
  • Asparagus, fresh or frozen
  • Lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • Romano cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 cups of prepared quinoa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper


Fillet the chicken breasts so that each breast becomes two thin fillets.

Grate the zest of one lemon evenly across the six pieces of chicken. Continue reading

I love coconut oil AND four uses!

Coconut Oil

Brance and I were first introduced to the benefits of coconut oil over two years ago. The first container that we bought was refined and very unlike the organic, unrefined coconut oil that we now use and have come to love. Although, the texture was the same, the aromatic coconut smell and flavor was absent in that first jar.

Here are four ways we are loving using coconut oil these days.

1. In cooking

One of the first ways we began using the coconut oil was in our cooking. Although it is a saturated fat, it has many healthful properties, including a safe higher cooking temperature, antimicrobial benefits, and, well, saturated fats aren’t terrible for us, after all. If you use the unrefined oil, which I highly recommend, you may have to grow accustomed to the coconut flavor. It works nicely in desserts and I hardly notice it anymore in other dishes we us it in. But not at first. It may take a couple of times of cooking with coconut oil before you are used to the subtle coconut flavor.

Coconut oil can replace other oils in recipes. I especially recommend using it in place of the less healthy canola and vegetable oils. But you can even substitute it for olive oil, especially when you plan to cook at higher temperatures. Because it solidifies at temperatures 76 degrees and above, this oil will not work well all the time, like if you are making a vinaigrette dressing. But for most other things, including making mayonnaise, this oil is great option. We use it for stir-frying vegetables, pan-searing chicken and fish in our iron skillet, oven-roasting vegetables and meats, in pancakes and waffles, etc. The possibilities are endless. Although, for certain recipes, you may have to heat it, similar to melting butter, to work it into your recipe.

IMG_44832. As a facial moisturizer

This use may make you a little nervous. The thought of slathering my blemish-prone face with oil made me uncomfortable at first, too. But I have found that it works REALLY well to help keep my face soft, especially in the very dry New England winters. And  it doesn’t leave your face excessively greasy if done in a certain way. I know some people use coconut oil in the place of face soap and that is great if it works for them, it just doesn’t work well for me that way. I don’t do this every day, but here is how I use coconut oil in my face-care routine, when I do. It’s so simple! Continue reading

Lip-smacking good dairy-free smoothie

Dairy-free shake

I try to avoid dairy most of the time because of an autoimmune disease I have, Ulcerative Colitis. One of the things I really miss (there are many… Dairy was my favorite food group!) is a good old chocolate milkshake. You know, that cold creamy chocolate goodness in a frosty mug. Yum.

Well I had pretty much come to accept my shake-free lot in life when we came up with this delicious smoothie on a whim one evening. Although, there is no milk involved, you would be hard-pressed to miss it in this lip-smacking dairy-free smoothie. So whether Continue reading

Amazing Vegan Chili

Vegan Chili

Anything vegan or vegetarian is a hard sell for my carnivorous husband. Dinner just isn’t dinner for him without some sort of meat on the plate. When I was whipping up dinner for a friend recently, who happens to be eating vegan, and offered to make some for our family too, Brance wasn’t so sure. He was especially not excited because he loves chili, it’s one of his favorite foods, and he couldn’t imagine Continue reading

Super Simple “Asian” Dish Recipe


Meals have gotten complicated at our house. And I know the blame falls largely with me and my dietary restrictions because of Ulcerative Colitis. My gastroenterologist told me that diet plays no role, but I have found that what I eat makes a huge difference. Often I end up fixing a meal for the rest of the family and then something entirely different for myself. I just don’t feel good about restricting Brance and the girl’s diet as much as mine is… no dairy (except butter), no legumes, no tomatoes, no peppers, no potatoes, no oats, really no gluten at all, no nuts etc. (Although, occasionally, I will break from my diet for my favorite Indian dish).

When I  fix something for the rest of the family that I can’t have, I try to make what I fix for myself as simple as possible. Preparing one meal is tough enough, right? There are very few recipes out there that fit all of my dietary restrictions. Like, so few,  it feels like it requires more effort than it is worth to find one. So, because I’m sailing in new waters, I’m kind of making things up as I go. Most of the time my family prefers what is on their own plates, BUT on occasion I really hit it out of the ballpark and they actually prefer what I am eating. Here was one such instance this week… Continue reading

To nap, or not to nap

To nap, or not to nap - Shakespeare

That is the question

Brance was working from home yesterday because of the blizzard, so I got to do something I don’t usually do. I took a nap! I can’t even tell you how amazing it felt. I haven’t been getting enough sleep (for me) in the past week or so and I came off caffeine because of some health-related issues it has been causing me. I have been kind of dragging the last couple of days without my mid-afternoon cup of tea or dark, DARK chocolate (oh how I miss you both!!!).

After I woke up feeling like a new person from my afternoon nap, I was curious to know if it was HEALTHY to take naps. I vaguely remembered reading a news article that linked napping to Continue reading

Cleaning is Healthy and a Cleaning Challenge

Vintage HomeDid you know that cleaning is actually GOOD for you? Do you find that surprising? The article, Regular Cleaning is Good for Your Heart and Soul, points to research that SUPPORTS the physical and mental health benefits of both cleaning, and a clean home.

That makes sense to me. Being in a dirty, disorganized environment makes me feel uneasy and, yes, disorganized. I always thought maybe it was from being raised by a mother who is an awesome home keeper. In addition Continue reading

Gluten and Dairy-Free Dessert


Eating a special diet to help manage Ulcerative Colitis means, more often than not, that dessert is “off the table”. I really don’t mind turning dessert down most of the time. Although, occasionally, I get a hankering for something sweeter than a piece of fruit. Last night was one of those times.

Here is my twist on the classic berry “crisp” in gluten and dairy-free dessert form! I am always a little nervous when we experiment in the kitchen, but this one actually turned out yummy, if I do say so myself :). The only thing that may have improved it would have been a  scoop of the vanilla  dairy-free ice cream recipe I linked to last Friday! I need to invest in that ice cream maker!

Here are the 5 ingredients I used for this simple gluten and dairy-free dessert.

•Berries (I used a frozen mixture of blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry. But fresh, or your preferred mixture, would be fine as well.)

•Honey (We prefer raw, wildflower honey.)

•Coconut Oil (Our favorite is an unrefined coconut oil, which still has a bit of a coconut flavor and tastes great in desserts.)

•Salt (We used Himalayan pink salt, but any old salt will do.)

•Rice Flour (I make my own by running rice through our coffee grinder on the finest setting 2 or 3 times. Brance taught me that little trick! It’s expensive to buy, yet so inexpensive and easy to make. Especially when you buy rice in bulk like we do.)

This dessert is great because it’s size can be easily adjusted depending on the number of servings needed. Continue reading