‘Tis the season…to be stressed?

Are you feeling it? The frantic dash to get everything done and not enough time to do it?

If that’s you, I want to share a new guide I created called Mastering Mindfulness for Autism Parents. It is for an upcoming summit I am speaking on (more on that later.) But, you don’t have to be an autism family to get something from it.

I share my 3 favorite mindfulness practices, all are free or very low cost and are not complicated.

I find myself reaching for these techniques more during the holidays. Whether it is the increase in activities to attend, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, prepping for guests, you know the drill. The pace of the holidays seems to speed up.

And then there are the family dynamics. Whether it is toxic relationships that seem to drain you, the expectation that often comes with family obligations, or the guilt for not buying into the old patterns, it can be a lot.

This has come up in conversations with friends lately. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to let go of those expectations that end in us not feeling good. Maybe it is being last on other people’s lists but feeling the need to still put them at the top of yours. Or maybe it is feeling like you have to attend functions with people who don’t honor or respect you, again, out of obligation.

What has been made even more clear over the last few years is how short life can be. It has taken me a long time to set clear boundaries but lately they have become even more clear. I no longer prioritize people who do not prioritize me and my family. And not that you need me to tell you this, but let the expectations, guilt, and drama go.

Let yourself off the hook. Hang with the people who fill you with joy, who show up for you, who cheer for you, and who you know will be there when the going gets tough. And man, the going has been tough hasn’t it? Has it brought more clarity on who really has your back? It sure has for me. I am crystal clear on who love me and mine unconditionally and I’ve been letting the rest go with love.

And if you are a special needs family, that all can be magnified. My son used to sense my mood and energy. Even if my mouth said “I’m fine” he saw right through that. And his behaviors would be magnified as a result. It took me a long time to understand the more I controlled my mindset, the better it was for my whole family.

That’s where my new guide comes in. These are practical tips I use every week if not every day. Some help with the physical aspects of stress, others with the emotional, and one with both!

So if the stress of the holidays is upon you, I invite you to check out my guide (even if you are not an autism parent) and see if the tips can help you reduce your stress and increase your enjoyment of the holidays.

Wishing you the healthiest and merriest of holidays.


Paleo Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

We live in an interesting growing area. At high elevation, we can get frost and freezes that destroy our gardens if we are not careful. In fact, that actually happened to our tomato plants at the start of the season.

We’ve also gotten a lot of rain this year, like torrential rain. While the streets and flood zones from the fires did not necessarily appreciate that, my garden sure did.

As such, we have 1 zucchini plant that is producing prolifically. In fact, it seems each time we go out and look, we have another huge zucchini ready to be picked!

That means zucchini-everything around here.

I wanted to make zucchini bread although I don’t like to make breads as much as I like to make muffins.

Muffins are easier to cook (less time baking) and I feel like they are more moist as a result of the reduced baking time. And, these are perfect portion sizes where with breads, I am more likely to keep nibbling and not pay attention to exactly how much I am eating.

So if your garden runneth over with zucchini, this can be a great way to get it into even your most veggie-resistant child. Note, these are not necessarily low sugar. You can play with alternatives like maple syrup or swapping out some of the sugar for stevia. You could also use Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips which are also allergen friendly as a way to cut down the sugar.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and as such, the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

You will need:

2 eggs (preferably at room temperature)

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups almond flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit .

Line your muffin pans with parchment liners.

Grate 2 cups of zucchini then pour onto a clean kitchen towel, roll up and squeeze the excess moisture out. Unroll the towel and allow the zucchini to dry out further on the counter while you begin making the batter.

In your stand mixer, mix on low eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla

In a another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: almond flour, tapioca flour or arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on low until combined. The zucchini adds a lot of moisture so don’t worry that your batter looks thick at this point.

Add your shredded zucchini and chocolate chips, mix until well blended.

For ease and precision, I use an ice cream scoop, to fill muffin tins. But you can use a spoon or spatula to fill them 3/4 of the way. I got 16 muffins out of this recipe.

Bake in your preheated oven for 22-25 minutes or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Autism Recovery and Daring Greatly

This blog will be heavy with Brene Brown-isms so if that is not your jam, you may want to move on now.

On one of my work trips, back when traveling was a thing, I had the chance to watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special. Prior, I had not heard of her or her work.

My nose has been in other books for the last decade and exploring my own issues with shame was not on my to do list.

But, her Netflix special hit me, right in the core.

She quotes Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That spoke to me. On many levels.

Putting our journey out there is scary and does open me up to criticism. And it is a journey filled with triumphs and failures. This was not linear. But, I have always moved forward, daring greatly, with the desire to optimize my family’s health and wellness.

So a few weeks ago our family’s journey was shared by my dear, dear friend and colleague Julie Matthews. She has a series called Getting Your Hopes Up. Our family shared the profound improvements on many levels that came from shifting our dietary choices years ago. I recently updated it.

I now work for Julie along with my work with New Beginnings.

When that email went out, she got all kinds of feedback. Most of it positive, families wanting to make nutritional changes, who see the influence of chemicals and additives on their children, who understand the power of nutrition to heal.

And we got one negative……

And I will be honest, it took me a while to shake it off. This reader was highly offended at the prospect of autism recovery (although they called it cure, I did not) and it was clear that the email was triggering enough that they did not actually read the blog.

The person called this type of discussion ableist.

I have been increasing disheartened by this term being thrown about – including at me for sharing a story about the current pandemic and highest rates of severe reactions coming in those who are metabolically unwell.

Yeah, because I guess none of us have the ability to make any change that moves us towards the other end of the bell curve?!?

Listen, listen……I will always be a person who looks at what I can do. Even the tiniest step forward is still forward. And for a person who literally has had my hand ready and willing to help other parents without judgement for the last decade, yeah I can’t rock with that.

I feel in both cases it was really meant to incite shame and guilt and shut down any discussion that moves out of our comfort zone. This article even talks about the weaponizing of it related to autism and parents advocating on behalf of their children.

So back to the critic.

Being the people pleaser…..these types of things make me want to hole up, become even more of a recluse, never share about the amazing journey our family has been on.

It didn’t matter that some of the participants in Julie’s Nourishing Hope for Healing Kids program had posted in our private group how inspiring the blog was and how much they learned about my family that they didn’t know.

I help Julie moderate the group program and have been open about our journey to a point but my son is 17 so there was a lot of history that I did not go into. It didn’t matter that Julie got other emails talking about how much inspiration and hope our story provided.

It was that one negative response that I focused on.

This is not an isolated instance. Why, why focus on the one negative?

Without getting into a therapy session, I realized it was time to shift some shit.

And then this quote popped into my head, I pulled up the Netflix show and watched with my husband who needed to hear this message for his own reasons. That’s when I resolved to stand in our experience and truth for those who want this message. And so I shared….

This was my favorite Brene Brown quote. And it is what I need to continue to remember.

Unfortunately the critics will always be there. But, why do I care what they think?

I am no longer interested.

My energy is precious.

If I would not go to these people with something special to share or with a problem, why am I giving them space in my head? Someone will always have a judgement about my life and what I am doing. Social media has amplified that.

But at the end of the day, there is reflecting on how you are being perceived and making adjustments based on your own growth and there is allowing people to project their shame or other emotions onto you because your message invokes something in them.

I have written before about the chasm between the autism treatment and recovery community and the neuro-diversity community. I am not delving into that in this blog.

I am so thankful for autism treatment and my son’s recovery so that I can hear his beautiful voice, learn his unique perspective on the world, have a conversation, watch him develop relationships and have interactions he was unable to have prior.

This is not about changing who he is, it is about removing the barriers metabolically that were preventing the full expression.

So at the end of the day, I have to thank that critic. A line in the sand had to be drawn I guess.

While I may go off and lick my wounds from time to time, I will always get my ass right back into that arena. Not just for my child, but for yours too.

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

Muffins. How do I love thee? Where to begin…..

When my son was younger, getting him to eat was a challenge. There were texture issues, sensory issues, food avoidance, food cravings (mostly wheat and dairy products), did I mention food avoidance?

Meal times were more like a war zone honestly.

Until……I mastered the muffin!

When he was little, that meant mini-muffins. I packed as much dense nutrition into the muffin as I could. I made muffins of many flavors, textures, and yes even colors (all natural of course, one funny one came from the chemical reaction between sunflower seeds and baking soda!) I made muffins out of meat, muffins out of veggies, fruits, you name it!

As my kids got older, muffins remained a great way to get good nutrition into them in a form they loved that was easy.

Then I went to batch cooking and I would make double or triple batches of them – for the same amount of time spent – and it would feed them for days. They store nicely in the freezer and can be reheated easily. I use parchment liners which make baking and storing (even double layers on top of each other) a breeze.

Chocolate Peppermint Muffins are a favorite in our house.

These freeze well. As a matter of fact, I almost always have some in the freezer.

They have almost 1/2 egg per muffin and I cut the sugar and replaced with some stevia so there is no loss on sweet but it is not overloading them with sugar at the same time. They are gluten, dairy, soy and grain free.

Note, this recipe does call for either peppermint essential oil (1 drop) or peppermint extract. Before ever cooking with or consuming essential oils, always check with your physician on whether this is appropriate for you and your children. In lieu of that, switch to peppermint extract or simple leave out and just enjoy the chocolate flavor!

Want a downloadable version? Click here to get for one that is easy to print or save.

Comment below when you make these and tell me how you and your family like them!

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