A Temporary Adieu

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your support over these last few years I’ve shared my BIG FAT grain free life with you.  There have been ups…and boy, have there been some downs.  My health has taken a downturn, and though I hope and pray the Lord will restore it to me, I need some time to devote to myself and my family.

I know many of you have been, or are right now, in that same boat and will understand the need for clearing the plate, simplifying life and turning inward.  I pray it will be only a season, and that I will be able to share what I’ve learned through this trial to encourage someone else, maybe even you.

I hope the recipes on this blog will still be a blessing to you.  I have more in my arsenal, but just not the strength to get them photographed and posted.  I hope to do so in the future.

I wish you all well and hope I will be able to return with new insight, new vigor, and be a blessing in some way.



Paleo Chicken and Waffles (gluten free and grain free) and link to my very FIRST webcast!


Waffles…something I never thought I would sink my teeth into again.  Thanks to The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, her Perfect Paleo Pancakes opened up a whole new world to my family and me.  After trying the pancakes, I wondered how the recipe would do in my  antique cast iron waffle iron in the hopes (but quite skeptical) that it would yield a waffle I could “tolerate” on AIP (I’ve been able to successfully introduce eggs that are not fed soy, wheat or corn).  I was more than pleasantly surprised (actually ECSTATIC) to find this recipe yielded a waffle BETTER than anything glutenous I’ve ever had.  Even friends (without food allergies) who taste-tested had the same exclamations of surprise and…well…utter food love.

This waffle is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I’m still absolutely amazed.  The trick is making sure your waffle iron is really HOT.  Make sure you preheat the iron, and if you have an option for a “high” or “low” mode, choose the high.  I used coconut oil to lube up the iron so the batter didn’t stick.  Make sure you reapply the oil before pouring on more batter.

Besides a waffle for breakfast, I decided to use this recipe for a spin on southern chicken and waffles.  This recipe is so good, I’d even serve it up to Gladys and one of her Pips! Before I share the recipe, I wanted to invite local peeps in the Jacksonville, Florida area to an event in which I’m so excited to participate!  It’s called the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event and it’s happening on Saturday, November 15th from 10:00 to 3:00.  I’m giving away FOUR tickets on two Facebook pages that I have.  One is called Blue Bottle Bootlegger (I teach local classes on water kefir) and the other is Jen Tilly Tea – a small cottage business I started selling artisan organic loose-leaf tea blends and also tea cakes that are gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, and refined sugar-free.  I’m currently operating under the Florida Cottage Food Law, so I am unable to sell over the internet at this time.  Jen Tilly Tea will have a booth at the event, however, so if you’re in our area, please come by and see me!

I’ll also be speaking on the benefits of water kefir, how easy it is to make yourself and have flavors available for tasting.  I sell kits to get people started and will have those available for purchase at the event. Please visit my Facebook pages and click on link with the gold ticket to enter the drawing.

LASTLY, but not leastly (huh?), I participated in my very first webcast featuring all of the speakers at the upcoming Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event.  Click on the link below (fast forward to minute 14) to hear our discussions on functional nutrition, poultry and food sensitivities, reactions to Jennifer Lawrence’s criticisms on gluten-free eating, and me opening up and sharing my heart on being a beauty queen with celiac…oh wait…that wasn’t me…it was Miss USA, Shannon Ford…we look so much alike I get confused…

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Enjoy the recipe!  Mangia!

Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays.

Paleo Chicken and Waffles (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free)
Serves: serves 4
  • Recipe for Perfect Paleo Pancakes
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 12 oz. package of uncured bacon (I use Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon)
  • coconut
  • maple syrup or honey
  1. Follow the recipe for Sarah Ballantyne's Perfect Paleo Pancakes. I personally leave out the vanilla for this savory dish. Set batter aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Prepare a pan with aluminum foil and set a stainless steel wire rack on top or inside of the pan.
  4. Fry bacon until crisp. (I use a cast iron skillet for this.) Set aside on paper towels to drain.
  5. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, mix together the coconut flour, onion and garlic powders and sea salt. Set aside.
  6. After frying the bacon, scoop some of the fat out of the pan, but leave about a tablespoon in the pan.
  7. Salt the chicken thighs on both sides. Then dredge into the flour mixture.
  8. Heat the frying pan on medium (make sure it's good and hot to sear the chicken). Add the tablespoon of coconut oil.
  9. Fry the dredged chicken in the bacon grease until golden brown. Flip and brown on other side.
  10. Remove chicken from pan and place on stainless steel rack. Finish frying all of the chicken.
  11. Place rack with chicken into the oven to finish cooking for about 15-20 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  12. While chicken is in the oven, start making waffles according to your waffle iron's directions. (Remember to use hotter heat setting if you have that option.)
  13. To Serve: Plate waffle, top with two chicken thighs and two pieces of bacon. If you want to cry with joy, drizzle the whole thing with pure maple syrup...sniffle...


BBQ Pizza with Chicken, Bacon and Cilantro…(AIP)

P1050130Let’s be honest, when you make a life-changing decision to do an autoimmune protocol diet (a/k/a AIP), the feeling of deprivation sets in at some point… Allow me to remind you…

3uzjkrMy feelings on this subject have not changed.

Dear Tomatoes. My love for you has never waned.  I hope to enjoy you in Heaven some day…along with butter, figs, brie and flaky pastry. (sniffle)

Just when my daughter and I were dreaming about the days when we ate pizza, (somehow those daydreaming moments always forget the horror film bathroom scenes) I see this recipe for a plantain pizza crust by Simple and Merry – who, I might add, is a culinary GENIUS.

Who knew that plantains could morph into such goodness as plantain wraps and pizza?  This recipe has become our Friday family night tradition and one I hope you will enjoy.

Here’s my take on AIP pizza.  Mangia!

(Shared on AIP Recipe Roundtable and Allergy Free Wednesdays)

BBQ Pizza with Chicken, Bacon and Cilantro...
  • 1 recipe plantain pizza crust
  • Glaze:
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple butter (I use Kime's brand)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cumin (omit for strict AIP - I've made both ways and each is delicious)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked salt
  • Toppings:
  • 12 oz. chopped bacon, cooked until crisp and drained
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • NOTE: If desired, saute the red onion in coconut oil. I prefer it raw.
  1. Make the plantain pizza recipe according to the directions. I prefer my pizza to be thin and crispy, so I've been making one recipe for four individual pizzas. The toppings above are enough for one larger pizza or two small individual pizzas. (My kids prefer pizza sauce, uncured pepperoni and Daiya cheese for their pizzas. All I can say is "Yuck".)
  2. While the crusts are on the first bake, mix together the ingredients for the glaze.
  3. Pull out the pizza crust(s) and spoon a heavy layer of glaze on top. Next, layer the cooked chicken, bacon and red onion.
  4. Return to oven for the second bake.
  5. Once pizza is hot and edges crispy, remove and top with fresh cilantro.


Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken


Hello All! I’m so excited to have written my first guest post!  Please join me at Living Without Magazine’s blog, My Life with Food Allergies, for my post featuring this yummy recipe for Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken.


Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Mousse and Salted Pecans (grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free)


I’ve been on a mission to make a deliciously moist, grain free chocolate cake for some time, specifically for my older daughter’s birthday.  I have this terrible tendency to just “wing it” sometimes, so I decided to throw together what I thought would be a delicious chocolate cake – on her actual birthday – like, T-H-E  D-A-Y  I-T-S-E-L-F.  You would think I’d be concerned about serving a cake I hadn’t tested to a bunch of people coming to a party.  You would think…

Long story short, it ended up looking (and tasting) like a big chocolate hockey puck – not exactly one of my trophy mom moments.

To redeem myself, I went to work on this cake to get it juuuuuust right.  And, thankfully, I think I’ve succeeded.  I was able to perfect it by the time our youngest daughter had her second birthday.  I’ve served it several times now – to SCD dieters, Paleo eaters as well as gluten-loving “normal” people and it’s gotten raves so far.

Not being much of a frosting fan, I actually love this cake plain with no topping.  I admit, I’m in the minority on that one, so I topped the cake with this delicious dairy free, refined sugar free “mousse” by Tasty Yummies.  It’s actually her Creamy Chocolate (Avocado) Fudgesicle recipe wherein she indicates it can be served as a pudding or frozen into fudgesicles.  (I’ve done both and have always gotten compliments from kids and adults alike.)


Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays, Whole Food Fridays, Healing with Food Friday, and Gluten Free Fridays.


Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Mousse and Salted Pecans (grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free)
  • one batch of chocolate mousse, made ahead and chilled
  • 1½ cups cooked navy beans (I use Eden Foods brand in the BPA free can)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, (or butter or ghee) melted
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (optional)
  • ¾ cup pecan halves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter or ghee), melted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. NOTE: navy beans need to be soaked 24 hours, drained, cooked until soft and then drained again. Eden Foods canned beans uses this method for their beans.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Grease a 9 inch baking pan with coconut oil or palm shortening and, if not using my favorite pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. In food processor, process the first six ingredients (beans through ⅓ cup melted coconut oil) until smooth.
  5. In medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cacao powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add dry ingredients to food processor and process again until smooth. Scrape down sides and process again.
  7. Add in chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan. Give the pan a tap on the counter to remove air bubbles.
  9. Bake 20-30 minutes, being careful not to over bake. Top should spring back when touched.
  10. Meanwhile, make pecans.
  11. In small bowl, toss pecans with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil and salt.
  12. Lay pecans on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 300F until fragrant. Test in 5 to 10 minute increments to prevent burning. Allow to cool.
  13. Process nuts in nut chopper or mini food processor. Set aside.
  15. Allow cake to cool completely then top with chocolate mousse, spreading to the edge of top layer (not on sides).
  16. Finally, sprinkle edges (or entire top) with ground salted pecans.



Creamy Potato and Chicken Soup (AIP, nightshade free, dairy free)

P1040698 Have you ever had one of those friends?  You know the kind.  The Wonder Woman kind.  (Yes, I had the Underoos as a kid.) Dripping with beauty, strong, talented, great fashion sense, hysterically funny, really great hair and able to do virtually anything she puts her mind to and do it well.  Yeah.  That kind of friend.  Well, I have a few of those.

The particular friend I’m thinking of right now is an amazing person.  Maybe you can relate.  She’s one of those friends you are so thankful for because you love her dearly and enjoy her company, but she’s so talented and gorgeous that you kind of want to ditch her…but you can’t…because you’ve known her since your single days…and, quite frankly, she knows too much…

This particular friend is an artist, singer, interior designer, but these things don’t define her, at least not fully.  She’s a devoted wife and mother.  She’s a faithful Christian.  She’s passionate as well as compassionate, caring, tender-hearted, encouraging, a servant, and makes me laugh out loud…a lot.  And if that’s not enough, she’s one of the most amazing cooks I know.  She texts me pictures of dinner and every time, I wish I was eating at her house.

One of the reasons this friend is so amazing (besides God just making her that way) is that she works her little tushie off cooking and caring for her son with Crohn’s disease.  In fact, this is how an old friendship got rekindled.  I ran into my friend whilst shopping (on Black Friday last year) and noticed she had a look of desperation about her.  A look I knew all too well.  Her son had been in the hospital and the diagnosis was Crohn’s.  Heavy-hitting drugs were all they could do for him – even going so far as to admit the drug they wanted to switch him to “has been known to cause cancer in boys”.

“I can’t sign my son up for that.  What’s the name of that nutritionist you recommend?” My friend knew we had been through the wringer with our daughter who has inflammatory bowel disease and that we had great results working with our certified nutritionist, Julia McRae.

Well, long story short, they started him on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), then switched him to Autoimmune Protocol (AIP a/k/a Autoimmune Paleo).  And my friend went to work.  She totally threw herself into his new dietary changes, which can be quite difficult I might add, especially when you’re new to it all.  My friend has utterly amazed me.  Her creativity has taken AIP to a whole new level.  In fact, I frequently tell her that she’s the one who deserves to have a blog.

So, all that to say, this recipe is really the result of my friend’s creativity and talent in the kitchen.  I gave it a little tweak, but she deserves the credit, as the brainchild is hers.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!


Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays, AIP Roundtable and Healing With Food Friday.

Creamy Potato and Chicken Soup (AIP, nightshade free, dairy free)
Serves: 6-8
  • 12 oz. package nitrate free bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek (see note on preparation below)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups white sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups parsnips, peeled and cubed (or rutabaga or combination of both)
  • 8 cups chicken bone broth
  • 5-7 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • juice of one large lemon (maybe more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced green onions, optional
  1. NOTE: to prepare leek, slice in half lengthwise then thinly slice. Take sliced leeks and wash in a large bowl of cold water. Using both hands, lift leeks out of water and drain. If very dirty, repeat with fresh water.
  2. Heat large dutch oven to medium. Add diced bacon and stir until cooked through and crispy. Scoop out bacon and drain on paper towels, set aside.
  3. Add onion, carrot, celery and leek to bacon grease in pot. Stir and cook until softened. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Next, add white sweet potatoes, parsnips and/or rutabagas, bone broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook until root vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove bay leaves. Using great care, ladle about one-third to one-half of soup into Vitamix or high powered blender, making sure to get both root veggies and broth. Puree until smooth. Alternatively, you may use an immersion blender right in the pot.
  6. Add pureed soup back to pot and stir. It should thicken the soup and become creamy.
  7. Next, add salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice. Stir well and taste. This soup really needs the tang of the lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the root veggies. Add more to taste if needed.
  8. Lastly, add the shredded chicken and give a stir. Just allow it to heat the chicken through.
  9. Serve topped with bacon and green onions.

Mini Lemon “Cheesecake” with Gingered Date Crust (AIP, nut free, dairy free, refined sugar free)

P1040742Every once in awhile, things just come together in my universe.  By this, I mean a craving for some long lost food I’ve become allergic to actually gets satisfied by a recipe developed with substitutions and much modification.  Honestly, there’s no formula for this and, quite frankly, it doesn’t always work.  For instance, in my book, there’s no such thing as an AIP (Autoimmune Paleo a/k/a Autoimmune Protocol) chicken pot pie.  How can you pull off a flaky crust with no gluten, grain, nuts, butter or eggs?  I’ve given up on ever sinking my pearly whites into an AIP croissant filled with sliced apples and brie “cheese”. Nope. Not gonna happen.  I’ll do without and eat another piece of bacon, thank you.

But really, it’s ok.  I get to whining about it here and there, but TODAY I REJOICE – because this recipe fills my current need for a yummy holiday treat (and a taste for cheesecake – lemon and ginger, no less – two of my favorite things)…”When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m fee-ling saaaaaad…”  I feel a musical moment coming on.

Here’s a little background on this recipe:  This week we had some friends over to make Paleo Mom‘s Paleo Gingerbread Cut-Outs (a fantastic recipe, BTW, but not considered AIP as it contains egg whites and almond flour).  I got to thinking that a lemon icing would be phenomenal on these gingerbread peeps so I threw something together and it just happened.


My friend (a tremendous allergy-conscious self-trained home chef who should be the one with the food blog) and I put our heads together on how to make an AIP lemon ginger “cheesecake”.  In other words, dairy free, nut free, egg free, refined sugar free, etc., etc.

So, without further ado – Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope this recipe satisfies your “hankerins” and brings you joy this holiday season.


Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays and AIP Round Table

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mini Lemon "Cheesecake" with Gingered Date Crust (AIP, nut free, dairy free, refined sugar free)
Serves: Makes 18-20 mini cheesecakes
  • CRUST:
  • 10 Medjool dates, soaked in warm water if hard
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • ¾ cup raw coconut butter (I use Artisana)
  • ½ cup palm shortening (I use Spectrum Vegetable Shortening. The only ingredient is palm oil.)
  • 2½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon flavoring (I use Simply Organic)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • lemon zest for garnish(optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 250F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Line a mini muffin pan with mini paper liners.
  3. Drain dates if soaked, then pit and roughly chop.
  4. Spread shredded coconut onto lined cookie sheet and toast in oven until golden brown. Watch carefully as it will burn easily. Allow to cool.
  5. In a mini food processor, pulse all of the crust ingredients until it comes together into a ball. Chill, if desired, while working on the filling.
  6. For filling, measure out coconut butter and place filled measuring cup into a larger cup or bowl filled with hot tap water. This will soften the coconut butter, making it easier to work with. Be sure that no water gets into the coconut butter.
  7. Once coconut butter softens, beat all filling ingredients with either a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until smooth and shiny. (It's ok if there are some small bumps.)
  8. To assemble, make little balls out of the crust and press into the bottoms of the mini muffin cups.
  9. Pour filling into a zip-top bag, seal top and cut a corner off the end of the bag.
  10. Pipe filling onto the crust.
  11. Chill in fridge or freezer until set.
  12. Store in the fridge. Best served cold.
  13. Garnish with grated lemon zest.
  14. Enjoy!

Baked Pears with Cinnamon and Bacon (refined sugar free, AIP)

P1040223This recipe is going to sound, well, weird.  But let me tell you…it’s goooooood.  My son kept saying, “Mom, pears and bacon?  Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

I have one.  Simple.  Answer.

“Get away kid – ya bothuh me.”

He ate his words, don’t worry – along with lots and lots of baked pears with bacon.

Mommy bliss.


Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays

Baked Pears with Cinnamon and Bacon (refined sugar free, AIP)
  • 4 pieces of nitrate free, uncured bacon
  • 8 ripe pears, peeled (if desired) cored and chopped or sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Chop bacon and set aside.
  3. Place pears in either a casserole dish or individual ramekins.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Top with chopped bacon.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Eat the pears with the bacon. Then throw aside all decorum and drink the juice/pan drippings. :)


Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pears

P1040433These chicken burgers with grilled pears were such a deliciously simple meal that my family raved about.  In fact, I made them twice in the same week (once for company).

Keeping my game face on for AIP (autoimmune protocol) has been a difficult task.  The game face comes off and the cry-baby face goes on.  Once cry-baby has had her say, then game face gets dusted off and put back in it’s rightful place.  Food restriction and Italian heritage don’t exactly get along, CAPISCE?

3uzjkrI should’ve added roasted red peppers to the above meme…brain cells are dyin’ ova hea!

I’ve not cheated on AIP – not because I’m such a disciplined person, but because the benefits of sticking with it are too important.  And I don’t want to go back to the place that brought me to AIP.  So, that said, here’s a recipe that this AIP-er and her non-AIP fam really enjoyed.  And it’s nice to enjoy food again…


Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays...

Chicken Burgers with Grilled Pears
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free coarse mustard
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic power
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 4-6 ripe pears
  • few tablespoons coconut oil
  • cinnamon
  1. For burgers: In a large bowl, mix ground chicken or turkey, ground pork, mustard, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and coconut aminos with a large fork until well combined.
  2. Prepare pears: Cut pears in half. Carefully remove stem with a sharp knife and scoop out seeds with a melon baller or spoon.
  3. Brush pears on both sides with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  4. Grill burgers until cooked through (I grill about 6-8 minutes per side on low heat but it depends on thickness of burgers).
  5. I like to put pears on grill when I flip burgers to finish cooking. Pears should be grilled and warmed, but not overcooked and soft.
  6. NOTE: Some AIP-ers stay away from mustard because it is a seed-based spice. I've not personally had problems with this on AIP, but proceed with caution. Leaving it out is an option, but it really flavors up the chicken nicely.




Coleslaw (refined sugar free, AIP)

P1040260Hello again.  My name is “Jen” and I’m a blogger that hasn’t been blogging much.  Why?  Because I’m very busy and because they’ve taken all of my favorite foods away.  So…I’m sulking.

Not really.  Well, sometimes.

A couple of posts ago, I shared a delicious recipe for Carolina Style BBQ Pork, which has become a family favorite.  In said post, I believe I made promises to share the recipe for the AIP coleslaw that accompanied the dish – which, by the way, has become another favorite around these here parts.

Today, I make good on my promises and share with you this Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) friendly side dish. I PROMISE you will NOT miss the mayo in this coleslaw.  It’s sweet and tangy but light and crunchy too.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as we have.

Coleslaw (refined sugar free, AIP)
  • ½ small head of green cabbage
  • ½ small head of red cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Finely shred red and green cabbage. Grate or shred carrot. (I use the large shredding disk on my food processor to do the cabbage and carrot.)
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrots and scallions.
  3. In a medium bowl, add apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder and salt. Whisk.
  4. While continuing to whisk, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream.
  5. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to combine well.
  6. Cover and keep in fridge for at least an hour before serving.