Saturday, February 4, 2017

Food as medicine: The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver

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Food as medicine: That's what my life has been about for the past year and a half, since my diabetes diagnosis. Changing the way I eat has helped me kick diabetes to the curb and start my second half-century in the best health of my adult life. Food, indeed, has been my medicine.

When I heard about Stephanie Weaver's new book The Migraine Relief Plan, I was excited to read it. Because migraines have been part of my life for nearly three decades.

I started getting migraines after I finished college, when I was living in New York City and working in magazine publishing. I'm not talking about little, annoying headaches. I'm talking about crippling, blinding pain that came on suddenly and lasted for hours, sometimes days. The headaches were always in the same place, above my right eye, near my hairline. Pounding. Pulsing. I had several migraines a week for years.

I was young and otherwise healthy, so I pushed through them. Biofeedback therapy helped; I practiced guided relaxation and learned how to raise the temperature of my fingertips five degrees in five minutes using just my brain. (That was pretty cool and, as a side benefit, helped a lot during labor and childbirth.) I experimented with folk remedies and over-the-counter painkillers and finally came up with a method that worked for me, involving ibuprofen, caffeine (which I don't normally have at all), and strategically placed ice packs. Eventually, because of age, hormonal changes, and who knows what else, the headaches came more rarely. Now I get a few a year, if that.

But I suffered for years. And other than avoiding red wine, which I didn't drink much anyway and didn't seem to trigger my headaches, no one ever suggested to me that I might be able to control or lessen the frequency of my migraines by changing what I ate.

Creamy Not-ella Carob Butter from The Migraine Relief Plan

I am truly sorry that Stephanie had to suffer with her migraines as much as she did (her full story is at the beginning of the book). But I'm grateful for the result, and I think other migraine sufferers will be as well. The Migraine Relief Plan offers a sensible eight-week transition plan to help migraine sufferers ease into a diet that is sugar-free, gluten-free and low in sodium. As it happens, I've already made most of these changes myself to tackle my diabetes. They may sound drastic, but when your health is at stake, it's worth it.

And even with these restrictions, it's possible to eat delicious food every single day. The book includes more than 75 recipes that look delicious and follow the guidelines above to help migraine sufferers avoid attacks. In addition to being a certified health and wellness coach, Stephanie is a food blogger and professional recipe developer (that's how we met). I can't wait to try Stephanie's Creamy Not-ella Carob Butter, Seedy Carrot Crackers, Firehouse Turkey Chili, Maple Sesame Glazed Chicken, Peachy Pulled Pork, and Pear Upside-Down Cake.

If you're plagued with migraines, I am so sorry. But there's hope. I strongly suggest taking a look at The Migraine Relief Plan to see if Stephanie's dietary and lifestyle suggestions can help you.

BONUS: Stephanie is hosting a pre-order giveaway if you order The Migraine Relief Plan by February 13, 2017. Click here to enter the giveaway.

*Recipe photography copyright 2016 by Laura Bashar

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents if you click them and buy Stephanie's book. We both thank you in advance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Conquering diabetes: A gift to my family

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These three men: That's why I need to deal with my diabetes

Someone asked me recently why I have been so motivated to get my diabetes under control when so many people fail to take it seriously.

See the three guys in the photo above? They are the reason.

And it's not some kind of fluffy "I need to be here for my family." I mean, YES, of course I want to continue to live, and I want to live a healthy life, and I want to see my grandchildren someday and all that.

But there's a much more concrete reason I need to take responsibility for my health, keep my blood sugar under control and try to avoid the long-term damage diabetes can cause in my body.

I do not want to be a burden on my family.

No one does. No one wants their spouse or children to have to take care of them.

And sometimes it happens, and we get sick, and it's beyond our control. If we're lucky it doesn't happen until we're very old and we've lived a long, meaningful life.

But diabetes, if uncontrolled, can quickly lead to all kinds of awful and debilitating problems. Heart disease. Kidney disease. Infections that require toes to be amputated. Blindness.

And diabetes is something I can control, at least for now.

So if I choose not to control it...

...if I ignore it, eat candy (and other stuff), fail to exercise, and let my blood sugar run wild...

...isn't that me telling my husband and kids that I don't care about them?

Isn't that me putting a pretty big burden on them that I can choose to avoid?

Taking control of my health is my responsibility as a parent and a wife.

Celebrating our 20th anniversary

Over the past few months I watched one of my friends take care of her husband. Complications of his diabetes led to kidney disease, heart problems, and I think a stroke. He died recently.

I was and am extremely sad for my friend and her kids. Their loss is huge.

But watching the toll it took on my friend - who went from working mother and wife to working mother and wife and full-time caregiver in an instant, who saw her entire life turned upside-down - made me even more determined that I was not going to do that to my husband.

When I get on the elliptical every morning, I'm doing it for me. But I'm also doing it for Michael. If I keep my diabetes under control, maybe he'll never have to spend his afternoons driving me to dialysis.

When I avoid sugar, bread and pasta, I'm doing it for my kids. If I keep my blood sugar under control, maybe they'll never have to push me around in a wheelchair because I had to have my toes amputated.

To be clear, I know that some health problems are beyond all control. If I were to get cancer or some other serious, unavoidable illness (God forbid), I know my family would take care of me.

But diabetes is not beyond my control. There are things I can do, and am doing, to keep it at bay.

It's the least I can do for my family.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bacon cheddar cookies (low carb, gluten free)

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What kind of cookies do you make for people who don't eat sugar, prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, follow a low carb diet, and generally aren't too fond of dessert? (Like, um, ME.)

I make Bacon Cheddar Cookies. Or "cookies," if you prefer. They're bite-sized, crumbly, full of umami, and completely addictive. With only five ingredients, these little nuggets are the perfect cookie-like treat for those who prefer savory to sweet.

Serve these Bacon Cheddar Cookies with a glass of wine, champagne or Prosecco. You can use fancy cheese (my favorites are made by Cabot and Kerrygold) or buy pre-shredded cheddar cheese at the grocery store. Either way, these Bacon Cheddar Cookies will be a huge hit.

Note: For the cookies in the photos above, I used pre-shredded mild cheddar cheese, and the anti-caking agent in the pre-shredded cheese keeps the cookies from spreading. If you use a higher fat cheese that you shred yourself, your cookies will spread more and get brown, crisp and crumbly around the edges. Don't worry: They will still be delicious, even if they don't hold together quite as well.

Bacon Cheddar Cookies

Makes about 36 2-inch cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups almond flour (fine is better than coarse)
  • 6 pieces bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Blend on medium speed until everything is blended well and a stiff dough forms, about 1 minute. (If you prefer to mix by hand or with a hand-held mixer, that's fine; just make sure you mix it aggressively enough to get a cohesive dough.)
  3. Using a generous teaspoon of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into small balls. Place the balls on the prepared sheet pans, pressing them down slightly.
  4. Bake the cookies about 15 minutes, until the edges are starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet or on a rack.

Gluten free | Diabetic friendly | Low carb | Grain free | Sugar free

Friday, November 4, 2016

My health transformation story in DR. OZ THE GOOD LIFE

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The editors added the phrase "kick diabetes to the curb" and I've adopted it. Because that's exactly what I'm doing: giving diabetes a huge boot in the rear end and keeping it Out. Of. My. Life.

Enjoy the article. I think they did a great job. I've told the writer, Lambeth Hochwald, that she managed to capture my story exactly the way I would have written it myself. Which is the biggest compliment one writer can give another.

Read it online: 'I Ate My Way to Healthy:' Erika's Weight-Loss Success Story

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Big changes at Not Ketchup, my condiment business

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Erika Kerekes of Not Ketchup

Click here to support my crowdfunding campaign on PieShell - keep reading for details...

Many of you know that I am not great at asking for help. But today, I'm asking.

Not Ketchup, my line of all-natural sauces, is about to undergo a huge change.

By the end of the year, all five flavors of Not Ketchup will be made with zero added sugar.

And every new product I create going forward will be made the same way: sweetened with fruit and nothing else. No added sugar, no artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners. Sweetened by nature.

Why am I taking my business in this direction? It's simple: My health changed, so my life changed. And now my business is changing.

Which is why I need your help.

Diabetes: My wake-up call

In August 2015, shortly after the family photo above was taken, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I had been ignoring the warning signs for years, so when the actual call came from my doctor, I wasn't surprised.

But I was angry with myself. And determined to do something about it.

After only a few months of eliminating added sugar, careful low-carb eating and regular exercise, my blood sugar numbers were normal again. My diabetes is controlled, but it's never going to be gone. I'm going to have to eat mindfully for the rest of my life.

So long, sugar

I realized quickly that I am not the only person trying to cut down on or eliminate added sugar. While many people (including me) love my original Not Ketchup sauces, they do contain added sugar. And it's time for that to change.

Two of my Not Ketchup sauces are already made without added sugar (Tangerine Hatch Chile and Cherry Chipotle), and they are by far my most popular products on Amazon. Over the next few months I'll be adjusting the recipes for the rest of my Not Ketchup sauces, making test batches, redesigning and reprinting labels, and producing my first cases of the new *no added sugar* Smoky Date, Blueberry White Pepper and Spiced Fig Not Ketchup sauces. Everyone who's tasted the new recipes says they're even better than the originals, and I agree. I'm also working on additional flavors made without added sugar that I know you're going to love.

Please support my campaign

I'm running a crowdfunding campaign on PieShell to help me take Not Ketchup in this new, healthier direction, and I'm asking for your support. Any contribution helps, even if it's only $1. Rewards start at $30 and will be shipped in time for holiday gifting - wouldn't it be great to give your health-conscious friends and family delicious, unique, Paleo-friendly Not Ketchup sauces made without any added sugar?

And to those of you who have already contributed, thank you. Your support means the world to me.

Click here to help me bring my new, healthier Not Ketchup sauces to kitchens around America.