Baked BBQ Chicken

Goodness.  I got sucked into a black hole for a bit there, didn’t I?  The last 2½ months have been a particularly enjoyable and energetic black hole while I road-tripped all over Mother Earth.  Zooming round and round Washington, down into Oregon, and up into the Great White North, except it wasn’t white yet because it was only the end of October.  I’ve mostly been chasing volcanoes, seeing how many mountain passes I could romp over before the snow flies, and shooting stuff with a studly camera that’s been hopelessly underused this year.  I also met up with and enjoyed a *SANE meal with some of you.  Frankly, I’ve had a rip-roaring time, and it was sorely needed.

Somehow it’s now Thanksgiving and I must admit I’m glad to be home this week, in a kitty-filled house, with a steaming mug of Candy Cane Green Tea (Oh, Trader Joe’s not a day too soon did you get it back in the stores!), the dishwasher whirring ever-so-quietly in the background, a bowl of Cheesecake Ice Cream custard lolling in the fridge waiting for its 20 minutes of fame in the churner.  I am soaking up the silence, wallowing in my fat, fluffy slippers, with a hair-do that is channeling Pebbles.  And, while there is no one here to cook for today, nor was there yesterday or the day before that, I am pretty darn excited that for the first Thanksgiving in 8 years (EIGHT YEARS!) I am going to be sharing my turkey.

As evidenced by my post earlier this week, I am cooking again. And it feels mighty fine I have to tell you.

It started when a couple of Fridays ago I revisited my fiendish plan to inveigle unsuspecting friends over on a Friday night to eat dinner with me, and in the process unwittingly become taste-testers for a slew of delicious new *SANE recipes.  Just like that the Friday Night Dinners are back on!  Whoop!

Two Fridays ago I served up Sage and Onion Pork with Tarragon Green Beans, and Leek and Celery Stir-fry.  Then last Friday I whipped up Baked BBQ Chicken using SANE BBQ Sauce, with Spinach and Apricot Salad.  Since I was deeply excited about the SANE BBQ Sauce and just couldn’t wait to post it, I’m giving you the last Friday Night Dinner recipes first.  Let’s call it recipe developer’s license.

Mmmmmm.  Juicy, crisp chicken thighs slathered in BBQ Sauce.  Wildman *really* loved those thighs, and because he likes a lot of sauce he had extra on the side.  It’s SANE, why not have an extra dollop on your plate?

I served those luscious thighs up with Spinach and Apricot Salad (up next!).

Fast, no mess, and simple as can be.  Sling the chicken in marinade the night or morning before, toss them in the oven to bake, smother them in SANE BBQ Sauce and finish them off under the broiler (grill).  Throw together a salad.  Dinner = done.


(NOTE: I also cooked two skinless chicken breasts using the exact same method to see how they fared.  Not to be recommended.  Significantly drier than the skin-on thighs.)


Baked BBQ Chicken
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 8 chicken thighs - skin on
  • ½ cup avocado or coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 8 fl. oz / 1 cup (at least) SANE BBQ Sauce
  1. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper together well to make marinade.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a single layer in a casserole or similar dish.
  3. Pour marinade over chicken making sure to coat each piece.
  4. Cover dish with plastic wrap and place in the 'fridge overnight, or for a minimum of several hours, shaking the dish periodically to redistribute the marinade.
  5. Heat the over to 375 F.
  6. Spray a baking sheet with coconut oil and lay the chicken thighs skin side down.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken thighs skin side up and bake for a further 10 minutes. Juices should run clear when chicken is pierced with a sharp knife.
  9. Remove from the oven and brush each chicken piece liberally with SANE BBQ Sauce.
  10. Place under the broiler (grill) until they are bubbling, watching carefully to make sure they do not burn.
  11. Remove from the heat and serve.



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Brandon R. - Looks glorious…I’ll try this out next week! Cheers…

Debra - Just glad to see you back for two posts in one week! Going to try this Sane BBQ sauce next week on some pasture raised pork ribs.


Look.  Yes.  I am fully aware that it is rushing towards the end of November and that for those of us in the northern hemisphere, BBQ season was over two months ago.  I am also aware that for our friends in the southern hemisphere, BBQ season has just started, and for everyone who lives closer to the middle, BBQ season is a year-long affair.  My point is, I am completely unrepentant about giving you a SANE BBQ Sauce recipe in mid-November.  Not only I am completely unrepentant, I am way more excited than I probably should be about this recipe.  Here’s the thing: I’m British.  I didn’t grow up with BBQ as part of my national heritage.  Brits typically don’t have barbecue grills the size of small cars, nor ones that have the ability to cook an entire gourmet meal on them.

As I recall, my family got our small, round, charcoal-powered barbecue when I was around 16, and we really had no clue what we were supposed to do with it.  We were hopeless at lighting it, and it took forever to get hot enough to cook anything.  All we ever cooked on it were frozen hamburger patties.  Oh, wait, I think we did progress to chicken kebabs at some point, but our repertoire was exceedingly limited.  Plus, the whole barbecuing thing was more of a pain than anything else.  Net net – when I landed stateside just about 14 years ago I was not a barbecue girl, and I wouldn’t know good BBQ Sauce if it hit me on the head.  Americans, I soon learned, will merrily barbecue anything that stands still long enough, and grilling – as they refer to the act of cooking outside on a barbecue – is as simple as turning a gas tap and pushing start.  Americans grill at the drop of a hat, in all kinds of weather, and with a ton of glee.  Americans love their BBQ.

Given that Americans also know their BBQ Sauce – I’m surprised it’s not their national dish – it was with a pretty major amount of trepidation that I finally finished procrastinating, heeded all the requests in my inbox, and bit the BBQ Sauce bullet.  How do you make a *SANE version of something you’ve never made before?  How do you make a SANE version when you don’t really know what it is you are recreating?  Not to be outsmarted by a bottle of deep reddish-brown, viscous liquid, I began thinking about how I was going to get the same result without using molasses (black treacle, lovely English readers) and / or dark brown sugar, both of which impart a depth of flavor, color, and body all their own.  While xylitol can replace the sweet part of the equation, color and flavor not so much.

I mused for several days, letting ideas marinade in my mind while I focused on other things.  Molasses-y thoughts occupied my mind in the shower, at the traffic lights, and at 1 am on Thursday when Mr. McHenry bounced on my chest and I couldn’t get back to sleep again.  I wandered around PCC and Trader Joe’s looking for inspiration.  And then it hit me. You’ll never guess in a million years, so I’ll give you a clue: root beer extract.

I also ventured into the world of Liquid Smoke to get some hickory going on.  I’d always imagined that Liquid Smoke must be some horribly processed bunch of laboratory chemicals, but turns out it’s real live smoke from smoldering wood, that’s been collected, cooled, and condensed into a liquid (at least the brand I bought was).  Who knew??  (Yes, friends from England, you can buy this at Amazon and other places online if you can’t find it in your local grocery store.)

I was terribly excited when I’d finished dabbling and had a jar of finished sauce sitting jauntily on the counter.  It tasted just like other *inSANE BBQ sauces that I had tried since being stateside.  Nevertheless I was eager for Wildman to show up for The Friday Night Dinner so he could give me his bona fide all-American, BBQ-expert opinion.  When he arrived in the kitchen – the air still heavily scented with BBQ – he headed straight for the jar with a spoon.

“Wow!  That’s *really* good!” he exclaimed.

Then I used the BBQ Sauce to rustle up Baked Barbecue Chicken (post up next!).  I think you’ll love that too.  Wildman did.

I spent the rest of the evening and most of Saturday randomly yelling, “I made SANE barbecue sauce! I made SANE barbecue sauce!”  Because to me, SANE BBQ Sauce is all kinds of exciting.  Not only that, but this is the first recipe I have created for you since March 7th.  To say that I am wildly enthusiastic to have my cooking mojo back is putting it mildly.  There were times when I wondered if I would ever cook again.

This BBQ Sauce is super simple to make and although it takes time to cook, the hands-on time is very short.  It’s really just assembly that gets simmered for 45 minutes.

And you want to know the best part?  This *SANE BBQ Sauce is a vegetable side.  Yep, you read that right.  Go get your barbecue on, people!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 pints / 1 quart
  • 2 TBSP avocado or coconut oil
  • 6 oz. / 170 g onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 28 oz. / 785 g can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1½ TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 3 oz. / 85 g xylitol
  • 1½ TBSP lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1½ tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. root beer extract
  • ⅛ tsp. guar gum
  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent - about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire Sauce, apple cider vinegar, xylitol, lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, liquid smoke, and root beer extract, and stir well.
  4. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully transfer the sauce into a blender.
  6. Blend on high until sauce is completely smooth.
  7. Tap the guar gum through the hole in the top of the blender lid and blend for 5 seconds.
  8. Pour the sauce into a jar and leave uncovered until cool.
  9. Cover and refrigerate.


PS. If you are not in the US, I wouldn’t drive yourself mad looking for root beer extract. Yes, I believe it’s a better flavor and color (definitely color!) with it in it, but the world won’t end if you leave it out.  If you can get it – great, if not, enjoy it without.  This is the brand that I use.  I also used this brand for my Riveting Root Beer Ice Cream.



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Gary J Moss - No need to apologize for giving us a recipe for SANE BBQ sauce in colder seasons. Some of us like to bake our baby back ribs in the oven and a good sauce that’s also SANE is what I have been looking for.

Dr Mike Keen - Yesssss…….mojo………SANE BBQ sauce……blogging… heart is singing…..welcome back me old China……we missed you!!

Charlotte - Wow; so excitinge! No, it’s not late, I think of it as an early Christmas gift!

I just used up my last bottle of inSANE sauce that my sister brought me this summer (I”m in China). I hated using it but it’s so yummy. Now need to place an order with Amamzon so said sister can mail the items in the Christmas package.

Cheryl Mathieu - So happy you’re back in the kitchen! Not that you’ve ever left mine! I make one of your recipes at least once a week. This week , Lasagna Soup.
I’m on the hunt for root beer extract in the UK. What brand do you use? I might have to wait until my mother comes to visit in April and have her bring me some from Washington. Even Amazon just seems to have home brew kits and brands I’ve never heard of.

Drew - Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, had pork shoulder in the Sous Vide last night and used insane sauce. Sourcing ingredients now. I wonder if SodaStream root beer flavouring would work, well I will try it and let you know.

Bonnie - Never too late to bbq! Can hardly wait to make this but wondering where to find root beer extract? Great to hear you have your cooking mojo back!

Get Yourself A Pedicure

Yesterday was the most glorious day up here in Seattle.  Blue, sunny, and warm enough to wear a t-shirt if you were out doing something energetic like leaf-blowing, hiking to a pretty lake, or lugging 30lb tubs of cat litter from your car to the garage.  I wasn’t doing any of those things, but if I had been I’d have been in a t-shirt for sure.  The weather was all the more remarkable because it was November 8th.  NOVEMBER 8th!!!  Last weekend the sun was setting at 6 pm, this week it’s dipping its lights at 4:40.  Suddenly it’s all go to work in the dark and come home from work in the dark.  And it all happened so quickly.  Looking back, the whole year happened quickly, although it sure didn’t feel like it for much of the time.

November a year ago I was just getting ready to embark upon my third cookbook.  On a side note, I made this dish from that book on Friday night when a friend came over for dinner, and boy! did we both have happy mouths afterwards.

This November I have just come off 2 heady months of fantastical road-tripping and shooting.  How’s that for a shifting of gears and focus.

So much has happened in the last 12 months, and it’s a whole new world over at the Brown house and Marmalade HQ – all of it unexpected, and all of it good – but I am definitely having to recalibrate my thinking in order to navigate these new territories I find myself charting.  One of those territories is self-care.  Self-care has taken on a completely new meaning this last year, and it has become a hugely important aspect of my being in the world.

I learned that self-care – which looks different for everyone – is vital to surviving and thriving in this crazy world.  I learned that self-care – a happy, healthy, balanced Carrie – is the best thing that I can offer to the people who are important to me.  When I mention ‘people that are important to me’, I want you to know that includes you.  Yes, YOU.  Even though I know almost none of you personally, I care about your health and well-being.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this blog or creating new *SANE recipes for you.  During the course of what has been an entirely crazy year, it has occurred to me more than a few hundred times that for me to give you what you deserve from my work, I need to be the best Carrie I can be – and that requires self-care.  You don’t deserve a tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and out-of-balance Carrie.  You deserve the best – my whole creative self, my energy, my passion, and yes, my love.  Sorry for the sap but it’s true.  Just keepin’ it real.

So this year I’ve been working on self-care, although admittedly it took a crisis for me to recognize that it was vital to my existence as well as making me more useful to the world.  In addition I learned that being healthy includes so many more things than eating good food and exercising.  Like pedicures.  Pedicures are definitely included in my own personal version of self-care.

It used to be that I equated pedicures with getting color on my toenails, something that I was more than capable of achieving myself and without having to get dressed, pull the car out the garage, drive, be trapped in a chair for an hour with someone who spoke a different language, wait, pay $30, and then drive again.  Yes.  I could definitely paint my own toenails – so much faster, cheaper, and more effectively than having someone else do it.  Nowadays I see pedicures in a whole new light, which is why today I had a pedicure that did not include getting color on my toenails.  Wait.  What??

Pedicures mean a blissful hour out of the house and away from the bajillion things within it clamoring for my attention.  For an hour I sit still and listen to beautiful, soothing music.  My back and neck get a relaxing deep tissue massage while I loll in an oh-so-comfortable leather chair. For 60 magical minutes I experience the healing powers of human touch as my feet and lower legs are massaged, exfoliated, and richly moisturized.  One glorious hour of freedom from all forms of technology.  Heavens to Betsy!  That’s time to think – or not – as the mood takes me.  The rough, gnarly bits that build up on my heels are gently smoothed away.  There’s toenail and cuticle trimming, and swathes of skin-softening moisturizer.  Which all adds up to an hour of peace, quiet, rest, and relaxation – something that is impossible to build into a 2½-minute lick of color to my toenails while sitting crouched on my bathroom floor listening to the *ping, ping, ping* of my cell phone and laptop merrily demanding attention.  Toenail polish aside, when you’re in the house how hard is it to just sit and be for an hour?  How often do you allow yourself to lie on the couch listening to beautiful music after having switched off all forms of electronic gadgetry?  Yep.  One year later and I’m all about the health benefits of getting my tootsies done at a salon.

So I just wanted to stop by and share my new-found take on the magical powers of the humble pedicure.  Pedicures, I have concluded, are sane.  Maybe not all in capitals, given that they are not something one ingests, but definitely sane.  Over the last year I have come to recognize that not only do we need *SANE, we also need sane.  Things like the things in this list.  And pedicures.  Go on, go get yourself one.

Whatever makes you feel good, do more of that.



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tina Kuhnline - Thank you, Carrie. You’re right, we all need some time to do something else. Maybe something girly. I’m happy that you have taken the time to relax and do something other than work (for us).Good for you!

Wren - Great reminder. When it gets cooler I normally skip pedicures with the thought that no one will be seeing my toes until spring when I bring the flip flops and sandals back out. But it is so much more than just color on my toes. My friend and I were discussing today how long it had been since we’d both had a facial. Your blog is a second push in that direction so I’m putting that on my to do list for the coming week. Btw, I had cheesy cauliflower for dinner tonite, with a protein bar and minty chocolate pudding for dessert. Yum! The rest of the family had grilled cheese sandwiches (boo).

Ellen - What a great way to reward and pamper yourself. Glad to know you’re taking care of yourself, dear friend! And your pedi sounds like a much fancier version of the ones I get here in GA. I’m envious!
Have an awesome week!!

Gary - I have known about the importance of self-care for a long time now, but my knowledge of it hasn’t kept me from falling out of good habits from time to time.

Most recently, I decided that I must become a better cook for myself (and I wasn’t bad to start with). To me, becoming a better cook means adding to my understanding of what brings flavor and nutrition in meals that I make for myself daily.

It is true that keeping a full pantry is part of being able to make good meals when I get home from work, for dinner and the next day. And as a small, but significant part of being able to do this, I realized I must be better organized and vigilant about keeping a good pantry.

So, having bought three 5-lb organic chickens on sale for $5.00 each, I placed two of them in the freezer. With the other, I made enough stock to load the freezer with 10 one-cup portions, ready to pull out whenever I have a recipe that calls for stock. I also made a meal from some of the stock to which I added some of the chicken and vegetables. How satisfying! And then I made mayonnaise with pure olive oil (avoiding all seed oil) with which I made chicken salad for three meals from the meat used to make the stock.

None of this was difficult. It was a matter of staying organized and reserving a bit of time for cooking outside of that done for meals. Keeping a good pantry and making good meals for myself every day makes me feel good because eating well is an important part of taking care of myself. Being able to make SANE meals the way I like them is key to staying SANE and feeling emotionally and physically good.

Deb sanders - You never fail to bring a tear to my eye. I was just thinking that we hadn’t heard from you lately, and I was worried about you. So, glad to hear you are doing better than ever. Keep on pampering yourself. You are worth it.

Dr Mike Keen - Ditto……nem con……..loadsa love xx

Suzanne - I love this post, Carrie! You have an amazing way of reaching out to people. You are just common sense and no nonsense! I sure love ya and miss ya – we need to get together soon! :)

carrie - Some would say that my blunt-to-charm ratio is a little out of balance, Suzanne ;-)

I Took Another Drive, Or Two

I do like a good drive. Driving is so much more to me than merely getting from A to B. It is my nirvana; the only thing that quiets my brain other than yoga. I can drive for hours and hours on end and experience deep peace and happiness. It’s pretty darn beautiful. I’ll road trip at any given opportunity, and, as the weather around here has been remarkably congenial for September, opportunities have abounded.  I wasn’t going to waste them since I finally managed to lever my body off the couch, and I’ve made it my business to haul my a** over every mountain pass in Washington – or at least the ones within a days drive of my humble abode.

The majority of the passes close when the snow flies, so the race is on to get them all traversed before winter. Heaven forbid that I could let there be a break in the proceedings and do some of them in the Spring. Nope. All before winter. Oh! the joys of being an all-or-nothing kind of gal – I can just picture my therapist shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Update: he did.

A few Sundays back it was the turn of Chinook Pass to surprise and delight me, which required first hopping over Snoqualmie Pass to Ellensburg – I highly recommend taking the 10 instead of the I-90 – veering right over Manastash Ridge to Yakima, and then turning right again to head West over Chinook Pass before ending up at the eastside base of Mount Rainier on Cayuse Pass, followed by Crystal to Greenwater Pass.

The weather was ridiculous.  Join me for a pictorial re-run.

A week later I continued my quest to traverse every Pass in driving distance by heading up Cascade Pass – the route to which involved an awful lot of washboard-y, pothole-y, gravel-y awesomeness. It’s one of those side roads that gets skinnier and skinnier the higher you go, leaving you wondering if you are going to run out of something to drive on before you get to the top, or at least a worthwhile view of something. The end of the “road” did not disappoint. Mid-day sunshine is arguably the worst time to photograph anything, but even so, you get the idea of how stunning the Cascade Mountains are.

Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.




*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Suzanne - Thank you for sharing your adventure. You’ve inspired me to grab my camera and venture out into the Autumn air back here in the Northeast. Gorgeous day here for it too. Thank you for waking up in me two things I do love. Nature and photography. To say nothing of my feline children – usually the subjects of my photos.

And thank you for reinforcing something we should all think about today and every day: Whatever makes you feel good, do more of that.

helen - Oh, Washington, I miss you so!!

wren - You have so many talents Carrie! Photography is definitely one of them. My favorite shot was of the river and the water rushing over the stones. Really one of those photos that makes you want to be there. Actually a lot of them were like that.

Funny… “do more of what makes you happy” is also a favorite saying of mine. For me, I get my happiness from dancing (Zumba), teaching fitness classes, gardening, my horses, my family, vacations, scuba diving, etc. and lately from cooking your recipes! This morning I made Cucumber soup. The weather has chilled down considerably here in Texas and I was in the mood for soup.

Ellen - Lovely photos, as always. Makes me realize that I only scratched the surface of how awesome Washington (and Oregon) can be. Enjoy living amidst the beauty – and thanks for sharing with us!

KELLY - Wow! Beautiful photos. Glad I checked your blog today. Has been a day of crappy Oregon rain. This just perks me right up.

Dawn - Love your pictures, looks like a beautiful drive :)

Since I couldn’t find a place to comment on your recipes I thought I’d just comment here :)

Been enjoying going through your recipes. I just love the tomato soup one and tend to just put whatever veggies I want into it and it always seems to turn out tasting very similar :) It’s a terrific way to get in my veggies.

carrie - Thanks makes me super happy, Kelly!

carrie - We love living here, Helen!

The Elephant Left The Building

The other week I owned up to the elephant in the room. Announcing to the world there was a colossal beast crammed into my living room made it magically seem smaller and much more manageable, even though pushing the publish button made me want to crawl under my desk, assume the fetal position, and not poke my head out until Spring. La la la la la.

I needn’t have worried. Once it was out there the flood of virtual support I got from strangers all over the world made me wish I had outed that pesky pachyderm earlier. I hesitated for quite a while before I typed ‘strangers’ in that last sentence because I don’t think of you as strangers at all – I think of you as friends. It’s just that we don’t know each other in person, so stranger seems the most accurate word, although really not the most appropriate. My point is that a whole tanker-load of lovely people the globe over – most of who I have never met – sent emails and comments galore, full of love and support and all good things. You made this thing so much easier. The relief that washed over me for the next several days after I unloaded the burden was immense. THANK YOU.

So many of you have written since, wanting to hear that I am OK, that I am alive, safe, and on my way back. Thank you for asking. I am! As evidenced by my recent writings, weekend road trips gallivanting around the extraordinary Pacific Northwest, the dusting off of my big girl camera, pictures of my feet, and Big Breakfast Adventures galore, the elephant has all but skulked out of the room.

The cure? In my case, an anti-epileptic. A tiny amount of 6-(2,3-dichloro phenyl)-1,2,4 triazine-3, 5 diamine pressed into a little white tablet and swallowed whole every morning. I don’t even need water to get it down. Who knew?

It was like one of those new-fangled light bulbs – you flip the switch and for a few seconds it slowly gets brighter, then shazam! full-on glorious light. Yep, just like that. Almost overnight I was back to being the real Carrie Brown – the passion, the get-up-and-go, the loving of life, the humor, and the energy. I wanted to race out and do all the things that had brought me so much joy in the past – I had the desire to shoot, to write, to cook, to travel, to help and inspire those around me.

For 8 scary, tortuous months I wondered if I would ever feel joy again – because for those 8 months I felt nothing. I was numb and empty and every single day I wanted my life to end. I longed for the sweet relief that death would bring to my tormented conscience. Every day I went into battle to fend off the waves of suicidal thoughts that crashed upon the shores of my mind. Like a hurricane bearing down – unwelcomed and unrelenting – battering me slowly to death, no shelter in sight and nowhere to run to to get out of the storm. Oh how thankful I am for the miracles of modern medicine! After a couple of weeks taking small white pills the suicidal thoughts stopped just as quickly as they had started raining down on me back in January. There were other things, too, that helped while I was in the slowly-getting-brighter phase, but in the end my brain just needed a little dose of chemical to get everything hooked back up again.

I am sure there are those who will criticize and condemn my choice to medicate. I don’t give a damn – because I am not risking my life to keep a handful of anti-pill-poppers quiet. There may be people out there who think that my brain hiccup was caused by my hardcore *SANE diet. Let me assure you that I embarked on my hardcore SANE diet in response to both my adrenal glands and my brain going offline, not the other way around. I can only imagine the additional chaos that would have ensued had I been pumping my body full of edible product instead of real, fresh, whole foods. *SANEity may well have saved my life by not putting additional stress on my system. On the other hand there may be people out there who think all suicidal depression is simply a matter of eating the right foods. If someone would please let me know what food contains 6-(2,3-dichloro phenyl)-1,2,4 triazine-3, 5 diamine – or has the same effect on brain chemistry – I will happily munch on it until the cows come home, because heaven knows my diet was as perfect as it could be during the 8 long months that my brain wanted to kill me. Until such a food shows up I’ll merrily keep taking my little white pill – for the rest of my life if need be – because I DO NOT WANT TO SPEND EVEN ONE. MORE. HOUR. FEELING THE WAY I DID FOR THE FIRST 8 MONTHS OF THIS YEAR. It was just in the nick of time when they suggested an anti-epileptic. I was right at the end of my rope.  Yes I am taking a pill every day, but guess what?  I’M ALIVE.

Depression is extremely complex. Some people are able to control it with diet – I’ve had emails up the ying-yang from people whose depression has lifted since they started a SANE lifestyle. Oh how I wish that was the answer for everyone. An anti-epileptic won’t work for everyone either, although I am grateful beyond words that it is working for me. For 7 months we tried all sorts of other drugs in varying amounts and combinations to try and flip that switch. Regrettably, with depression, it typically comes down to trial and error and whether you can find the right thing in time – before you simply cannot survive the mental and emotional torment for one more minute.

After publishing The Elephant Post I shared the link on my public Facebook page.  It was a few days later and with considerable trepidation that I decided to share the link on my personal page as well. Why trepidation? For reasons that I don’t quite understand it was easy to share it with the world. Sharing it with people who I have a relationship with in real life was immeasurably harder.  I have work colleagues on my Facebook.  Heck, my boss is on my Facebook.  They might see the link in their feed.  They might read the post.  Would it be bad if they knew?  How would they react to it?  Would they treat me differently now?  Would they stay away from me or try to avoid working with me?  Would my company try to terminate me because they imagined I could no longer do my job?  And what about my friends?  Would I lose some?  How many would hit that unfriend button?  Would they stop connecting with me for fear that when they saw me I would be a depressing, gibbering, suicidal wreck that they had no idea how to – and didn’t want to – deal with?

No one had any idea from my public behavior that anything was wrong.  Whenever I spent time with people I was the outwardly happy, bubbling, driven, oh-so-positive Carrie that they’ve always known.  They just never knew the heroic effort that went into that behavior.  So why tell them?  Why change their perception?  Why rock the boat and risk relationships?  My boss hired me in the middle of this tumultuous episode and when I asked him why he hired me he said, “Your personality, your confidence in yourself, that you are a demonstrated leader in your arena, what a great fit you would be with the team, and how you presented yourself.”  My inner turmoil was completely inconspicuous.

So why would I share something that had the capacity to change every area of my life, and not necessarily for the better?  Should I post it to my personal page but hide it from my boss and other people at work?  Why was it important that I share something so difficult?  Because the weight of keeping it to myself was becoming impossible to carry any longer; and – more importantly – because I realized that despite what others may think or do as a result of reading the post, it is what it is.  It is my reality, my truth, and therefore not something that should be hidden away in the depths of the closet, never to be spoken of.  It’s been the major part of my life for the last 8 months and  I felt that to keep it from people was not being honest.  Heaven knows I have the inner strength to deal with whatever fallout that might come my way.  If I could get through the last 8 months, I could deal with a few negative reactions without crawling off into a corner under a pile of shame and anxiety.

So I shared it on my personal page.  The results were fascinating.

Stay tuned for the next installment!


*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Debbie Huewe - Thank you for the update Carrie. I am so happy that you found some relief from that little white pill.

Susan - It is such a relief to know you’ve found the answer to your illness/dilemma. If you have to take meds to help yourself so be it. Anyone who would criticize you for helping yourself has their own set of problems.
Best of everything to you.

Lori Pellnitz - So glad you are feeling better Carrie! Things wouldn’t be the same without you!

David - What great news Carrie. Love your attitude. Liz and I love cooking your sane recipes. Love the Ice-cream! You rock. So glad you decided to stay with us and got the help you needed.

Theresa - You will help so many with your revelations. So glad you found a solution to your pain. We love you even though we do not know you!

Andrea - Thanks Carrie for always keeping it real. The sane / paleo Eco-sphere is so filled with obsessive and all consuming thought and action; deviate and you’re a failure.

You are the 99% that includes most of the rest of us. You are real …Real is menopause… Real is mistakes… Real is depression or arthritis or unemployment. Real is REAL. And real is why I appreciate you so very much…

Andrea in Portland, OREGON

Linda - Carrie, So glad you’re feeling better! The brain is an organ that can be ill just as a kidney or liver can. Not sure why society doesn’t fully comprehend that yet. Thank you for sharing your story. In doing so , you may never know who you helped , but I’m sure more than one soul out here in cyberland was touched by your courage. Be well and happy,

Emily - Carrie, Yay for the little white pill. It gave you back to yourself and back to us, too. Thank you, LWP

Sheila - Carrie, I just learned about SANE from my doctor who recommended that I read The Calorie Myth. I am diabetic and at high risk for heart disease. We are hoping that a change in diet will allow my body to heal naturally and allow me to come off some of my medications.
I currently take a little white pill too (although a different one). It will be fine with me if I have to continue to take it as it helps me cope with anxiety and depression. There is no shame in admitting that we need medical help.
Keep up the good work; I can’t wait to try some of your yummy sounding recipes!
Sheila – a new fan!

Francesca - so glad for you, welcome back :)

Heather - Carrie, I am very lucky in that I have no idea what torments you have been going through but I am just so glad that little white pill was the key to the exit door. And long may that door stay shut behind you. It’s good to know that you have a great support network, whether that be from the person next door or the person on the other side of the world hidden behind their keyboard. We all have our own elephants … but not eveyone has the courage to boot them out that door. And let’s face it, those elephants are damned great big critters and most people’s doors are sorta people sized … so that takes a lot of doing. Good eccentric workout though :D Good on ya girl. Sending love from blighty xx

Claire - Hi Carrie, love this post, and so happy you’re coming out the other side. I too suffer from depression and am going through (again) the trial and error stage. The current meds stopped working, so I do what I’ve always done – sought the help of a medical professional. Things are rocky, but I’m trying to be ‘gentle’ with myself. Like you, on the outside I’m sociable, confident and very capable – but my brain is trying to kill me!! But just for today, the next few hours and sometimes just the next few moments, it won’t succeed. xx

JULIA - Hi Carrie, I have learnt in the last year how healing it is to share my problems, not only for me but also for those listening/reading. We are constantly comparing our insides with other peoples outsides and feeling desperately inept as a result.
I am grateful for your honesty x

Lisa - You go girl!!!

Leanda Kayess - Wow! How amazingly strong you are to have worked your way to this result whilst battling such torment each day! And a new job to boot! Hats off to you, Carrie Brown. You are amazing!

Kara - I’m so happy to read you’ve found the right meds to help you! You are an inspiration and your honesty and willingness to share your full story is refreshing. Thank you for sharing!

Ellen Garrard - Yay Carrie! You are brave and sooooo strong. Thanks for sharing. Hugs to you, beautiful friend!!

Katy Alexander - I’m so happy for you Carrie. I never realised you were going through so much pain this last year. I’m so glad you’ve got such wonderful friends and advisors helping you, but I also think you are much stronger than you realise.
Keep on truckin’,

Deidre - Amen and Amen! Congrats Carrie! Praise God you found a medicine that balanced things out!

Wren Stewart Tidwell - Carrie,
I just found out about you and your fabulous recipes today. I got Jonathan’s book a few days ago and I am so hooked! I think he’s genius. As a fitness instructor, every day I am in front of people who are trying to get healthy and lose weight. I think I might have found the secret they are all looking for and I am going to share it with every one of them!

Regarding your medication, it is OKAY. My brother is a lifelong epileptic and thank goodness that his medication keeps his seizures in check. It’s made a world of difference in his life and now he’s a successful business man who owns his own business. I’ve been thru many seizures with him as we were growing up.

I can also relate to your thoughts on dying. I was on pain medication and tons of other junk such as anti-depressants, before and after my back surgery years ago and I hated myself. I hated my life. I hated that I was bed ridden and I felt like such a burden to my family. I remember very vividly wanting to die and get it all over with. I really didn’t think I’d live much longer at the time. Thankfully exercise and the right surgeon got me out of that deep dark pit (along with prayer and Beth Moore).

Bless you! I am thankful for you and your recipes. I may not ever eat anything else but them ever again. So you might need to add more so I don’t get bored. haha!

Sylvia - Welcome back! So happy you hung in there Carrie! If a little white pill helps to keep that elephant away, then so be it and tell anyone who criticises you for taking it to “blow it out their ear”!.

Belinda - Thank you for being an example of courage to live with the honesty to state your challenges publicly. Your bravery elevates our human experience into to light of day where we can transcend any sense of shame and judgment so often experienced by those who struggle with mood disorders. Shine on!

Mallory - Carrie, I just love how brave you are to share everything you have been through while being in the sane spotlight. You inspire me and I am so happy you are feeling better. I listen to you every week and continue to admire you the more you share.