Tips And Tricks for Staying SANE On The Road

Since my little road trip adventure to California last month I’ve had a lot of requests for my tips and tricks to staying *SANE on the road.  The key to success for a *SANE road trip is to prepare.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Oh, and attention to detail.  I realize that #1 and #2 (below) may seem like a lot, and could feel overwhelming at first – especially if you are used to jumping in the car, taking off, and just getting what you need as you go.  Bear in mind that a little time getting prepared will hugely benefit you in terms of money, time and particularly health in the long run.  Once you’ve done your first road trip in this new way, it will not seem overwhelming the next time.  You’ll be ready.

1. Before you go.

Stock the car with enough SANE food and SANE beverages to keep everyone going until 2 hours after you reach your destination.  As I always road-trip alone, and need to be able to eat without assistance, my preferred snacks are beef jerky, hardboiled eggs, whole-leaf lettuces (I pull whole leaves off and munch), and cucumbers (I eat them like apples).  The beef jerky and hardboiled eggs keep my energy super-high and stave off drowsiness.  The lettuces and cucumbers give me all the non-starchy veggies I need, keep me full, and help to keep me hydrated; they also give me jaw ache from all the chewing, which is great because then I don’t want to eat for a while.  I am a driving machine on this  fuel!  I keep the perishable food in a small cooler that I pack and refrigerate over night.  Before I leave I add a couple of ice packs.  This keeps everything cool enough for a 12 – 15 hour drive, bearing in mind that most of it will be eaten by the time I arrive.

Snacks to consider:

  • Jerky – beef, turkey, salmon – whatever your favorites are.  Buy jerky with the highest protein and lowest sugar content you can find.  Be especially careful of “flavored” jerky such as teriyaki or barbecue, as they are often very high in added sugars.  Read the label and compare until you find the best brand in your area.  Once you’ve found the best brands, stick to them.
  • Sardines / canned tuna – these are so easy to eat on the road.  Peel back the lid and dig in with a fork!  No refrigeration required.
  • Hardboiled eggs – shell before you leave and pack in Ziploc bags.
  • Raw veggies cut into bite sized pieces – carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, snap peas, lettuce leaves, small cauliflower and broccoli florets, etc.  Bring small containers of *SANE dips to keep your taste buds excited.
  • Nuts and seeds – mix your favorites into small Ziploc baggies.  Add a few dried fruits – cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries, etc to keep it interesting and add a touch of sweetness.
  • Hot “cereal” – if you have flasks of hot water with you, take small, lidded containers with this hot cereal mix in it and mix up with hot water at a rest stop.  It’s really nice to have something warm to eat on the road, especially if you’re traveling in winter.
  • Protein bars – make them, or stock up on these and these brands before you head out, if you don’t already keep a stash on hand at home.
  • *SANE muffins, biscuits, and cookies.  These are much more filling than their inSANE counterparts, so will really help to stave off “the munchies” on the road.  They will not make the driver drowsy like inSANE sugar-and-starch-filled snacks.
  • Yogurt – mix up some of this, or buy small pots of Greek non-fat yogurt.
  • Fresh berries (de-stalk and cut any strawberries), and citrus fruit segments packed in small Ziploc baggies.

** Remember if you are driving in the US and crossing state lines (such as California) you may not be allowed to transport certain foods.  Check before you leave.  You don’t want to have half your food confiscated at the border!

For drinks I take fresh water and several flasks of hot herbal or green tea.  A good flask stays hot for 24 hours.  I refill my drinking cup from the flask when I stop to use the bathroom.

Beverage tips:

  • If you like sparkling and/or flavored water, buy large / 2 litre bottles from the grocery store and refill drinking cups as you go.  This will save you a fortune on cans or individual bottles.  If you do choose to buy cans or individual bottles, make sure to buy enough for the trip from the grocery store before you go so you don’t need to buy them from gas stations where they are staggeringly expensive.
  • Take several large (and by large I mean gallon / 5 litre) containers of non-sparkling water, even if you don’t intend to drink it.  If you get stranded, the road you are traveling on is closed due to weather or an accident and you are stuck for hours, you run out of washer fluid, someone becomes ill, you mis-judged how many beverages were needed for the trip, or any number of other unexpected events, having a lot of water on hand will be a godsend.
  • Remember to drink regularly, even though you are essentially inactive during the drive.  It will also help curb any hunger that is really boredom.

2. Other things that will make eating SANE on the road easier and more fun.

  • Disposable cutlery, or reusable plastic cutlery if you are able to wash it en route / when you arrive.
  • Disposable plates, or reusable plastic plates if you are able to wash them en route / when you arrive.
  • A roll of paper towel or plenty of paper napkins.
  • Wet wipes.  Never leave home without lots of wet wipes.  Wet wipes are truly a road tripper’s very best friend – for more reasons than I can even think of.
  • Plenty of several sizes of Ziploc bags.  Use them for trash, storing dirty plastic cutlery, food scraps or leftovers, or any number of other messy things that would otherwise make travel icky.
  • Scissors.  So useful for so many things.
  • A small, sharp knife.  These are brilliant for road trips as they come with their own cover to protect them (and you) when not being used.
  • Flossers.  Especially if you are eating jerky, and especially if you are the driver – these flossers will save you hours of misery.
  • Travel-size bottles of mouthwash.  Is there anything worse than having a mouth like a sewer when you’re trapped in a car for hours on end with a bunch of other people?  Especially if one of them just downed a can of sardines or tuna.
  • Small coolers and ice packs will keep perishable food cold enough to remain fresh and appealing.
  • ALWAYS take a Ziploc bag of xylitol – or whatever sweetener you use – with you.  I never leave home without xylitol in my bag.  Ever.

3. Avoid being derailed en route.

Your biggest enemy to *SANEity on a road trip is…The Gas Station.  If you enter the building, the chances of you being derailed are enormous.  For many people road trips = fun times filled with a dizzying array of sugary and starchy snacks, candies, chips, and pop / soda that you might not normally consume.  This means that road trips are often tied to intense {good} emotions based on family vacations experienced during childhood, and can be very hard to break.  It does not help that 98% of food and beverages available at gas stations fall into the sugary and starchy snacks, candies, chips, and pop / soda categories.  If you are faced with them in the middle of a road trip, you may find yourself powerless to resist.

Here’s how to survive with your SANEity intact:

  1. Be very clear on the difference between a gas station and a rest stop, and do not get confused about what to do at each.
  2. Stop at rest stops to use the bathroom, refill drink cups, stretch your legs, eat SANE snacks that you prepared before you left home, refill washer fluid, paint your toenails (you wouldn’t believe the number of rest stops I have painted my toenails at), check your cell phone for messages / emails, swap drivers, take photos, and otherwise re-group for the next leg of your journey.
  3. ONLY stop at gas stations to get gas.  They have no other SANE purpose.  Use a credit or debit card to pay for gas at the pump.  Do not enter the building!
  4. If you were not paying attention to #2 above, and did not use the bathroom at the last rest stop, and you really, really need to use if at the gas station, leave your wallet locked in your car.
  5. If you were not paying attention to #4 above, and took your wallet into the gas station when you went to use the bathroom, do not stop walking until you get to the bathroom.  Once you leave the bathroom do not stop walking until you get back to your car.
  6. If you were not paying attention to #5 above, and stopped walking between your car and the gas station bathroom, pick up only non-food items or *SANE foods and beverages.
  7. If you were not paying attention to #6 above, and purchased *inSANE items at the gas station, dump them in the garbage on your way back to your car.

 4. Once you arrive.

Depending on the itinerary at your destination, these will help you keep on a SANE track:

  • Clean and re-pack your plastic plates and cutlery, or restock disposables ready for the next day’s adventures.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, refuse the key for the mini bar and bring your own bottled water and snacks into your room.  Not only will you save your SANEity, you’ll save a fortune.  The first thing I do when I arrive at a hotel is ask where the nearest grocery store is and go get large bottles of water and SANE snacks.  Hotel stays can completely wreak your health and your wallet if you let them!
  • If you did not or were not able to bring enough SANE foods for your entire trip, stop at a grocery store every morning to stock up on SANE supplies before you do anything else – 2 litre bottles of water, nuts, seeds, protein bars, cut veggies, berries and citrus fruits, hardboiled eggs, jerky, canned fish, individual Greek yogurt, deli meats, etc.
  • When you are in the grocery store, stay on the perimeter – always remember that the middle is where the inSANITY is.
  • If you have children with you, do not take them in the store with you unless there is no other adult to stay with them in the car.
  • Only stop at gas stations for gas.  Never go in the building.  See #3 above.
  • If you eat out, choose SANEly.  Swap out starches for salad or an extra serving of non-starchy veggies.  I have never had a restaurant refuse to do this, and at no extra charge.  Just ask.
  • Be too full for dessert.
  • If you are planing on mainly eating out, still keep sufficient SANE snacks in the car so that you avoid getting hungry between meals.  If something unexpected happens and you can’t get to your next meal on time, your SANE snacks will tide you over.  Breakdowns or otherwise getting stranded should not be the reason for going inSANE.
  • If you are going to amusement parks or similar attractions, pack protein bars, bags of nuts and seeds, jerky, and SANE muffins, biscuits, and cookies in a small backpack.  This will save you a small fortune, and keep everyone energized and healthy from dawn to dusk.  Take SANE beverages in drinking containers with straps that can be slung across your body so that you are not weighed down with stuff you have to carry. 

5. Give yourself a break.

If your road trip is a vacation and you want to relax on the SANEity a little bit…do.  It won’t kill you.

Here’s a few thing to think about if you choose to have an inSANE eating moment:

  • Once you start ingesting inSANE foods – especially sugar – it becomes easier and easier to keep doing it, and increasingly harder to stop.  I swear the manufacturers laden them with addictive substances that we find irresistible once even the smallest amount gets in our blood.
  • If you have an inSANE treat – my vacation treat is ice cream – don’t see it as being naughty or as having failed.  Feeling guilty will not help you, it will just make you feel bad; and feeling bad will likely just make you want to eat more inSANE stuff.  instead, see it as a treat – and enjoy it – just be clear that it is not helping you towards your health goals.
  • Taking one whole day out to enjoy inSANE foods is better than eating a little inSANELY every day.  See first bullet point in this section.
  • Once you have enjoyed your inSANE treat, get straight back to SANE foods at your next meal.
  • Do not beat yourself up if you are not perfect.  This is not about perfection, it’s about being better than we were yesterday.


6. Have a fantastic road trip!





*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!

Janknitz - We got a sodastream. The flavors they sell are hideous, but carbonated water with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange is delightful. And yes, it can come along on a road trip.

Cowgirl Rae - Wonderful post!
My husband is a truck driver and living in a truck for a week or 2 is a challenge. He follows the guidelines you gave in addition he has a small chill cooler that plugs in the cigarette lighter and allowed him to have a cold place for yogurt and some cooked meats. There are ways to eat this way and be successful, it only takes a little planning and willingness to restrict yourself slightly to be successful.

carrie - Brilliant idea, Janknitz!!!

carrie - I shoulda been a trucker!!

Serena - I keep hearing that dried fruits are bad to eat because they have so much sugar. What do you say?

carrie - I say that dried fruits are high in sugar (because the water has all been removed), so they should be used occasionally and in small amounts – almost as a seasoning if you will. Hope that helps!

Green Smoothie – Raspberry Almond Cream

Like the arrival of Spring, raspberries get me all kinds of excited.  So, incidentally, does downing an entire romaine lettuce and a handful of spinach before 7 am has struck – and WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT.  Yes I yelled that last part.  It’s very exciting, people, when you can sup on a particularly yummy, creamy smoothie that tastes like raspberries and almonds even though it really has more green, leafy veggies in it than anything else.  It’s very, very exciting.

Granted the color is not quite as enthralling, but if you shut your eyes or pour it into a colored container, your taste buds will immediately transport you to Raspberry Almond Cream heaven without a single thought of how it got to be so green.  Meanwhile, your hormones will be rejoicing as all those green, leafy veggies go hurtling around your body.

Carrie Brown | Green Smoothie - Raspberry Almond Cream

If you’ve taken my other green smoothies for a spin you’ll know that none of them taste the slightest bit like vegetables.  *SANE green smoothies really are a fantastic way to get those 10 servings of non-starchy veggies crammed into your body.  Not to mention gobs of protein and some healthy fats for good measure.

Raspberries make me think of Summer.  It’s why this is a brilliant breakfast or lunch in the middle of Winter.  Or the middle of Summer.  Or any other time of the year.

Love raspberries?  Get your green on!


Green Smoothie - Raspberry Almond
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. unsweetened thin coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP sugar-free raspberry syrup
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ mango, de-stoned
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 oz. / 28g fresh spinach
  • 2 oz. / 55g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 5 oz. / 140g frozen raspberries
  • ½ cup / 4 fl oz. water
  1. Place the ingredients in the blender in the order listed.
  2. Blend until completely smooth.





*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!

Julie Rider - Carrie,
As I sit here enjoying mt raspberry almond green smoothie I have a couple of questions. First, I have been doing some food testing and I seem to be reactive to whey so it was suggested that I switch to an egg white protein (which is currently in this smoothie) but I am wondering how egg white protein could be substituted in some of your other recipes (baked goods). Can you explore using some of the egg white protein for those of us who cannot eat whey?

Secondly, 2/3 c. protein seems like a lot…I used less but I am wondering why 2/3 c.?

carrie - Hi Julie – 2/3 cup is simply to get as much protein in as possible. If you do not have a problem getting all your protein in during the day then feel free to reduce in your smoothie, but bear in mind that you will also alter the taste and consistency. I am sure I will get to eat white protein in due course, although my recipe list is ridiculously long. Cna you let me know what product you are using? Thanks!

Julie Rider - I am using Jay Robb egg white protein.

Barbra - Hi Carrie – I have a smoothie almost every morning and it’s quite similar to this one. I was surprised to see this was one serving! I usually only drink half, maybe I should start sipping on it all morning :) Anyway, my question is, how many servings of veggies would this smoothie account for in the day? Thanks!

carrie - Barbra – I would say 5.

Barbra - Thanks Carrie. I’m enjoying your cashew pear smoothie right now. So yummy!!

carrie - Oh Barbra – one of my faves!

Alicia - Is the unsweetened coconut milk from a can or a carton?

carrie - Alicia – I used coconut milk in a carton. The stuff that looks like cows milk.

Diana - Thanks Carrie for ALL of your smoothie recipies. You finally got me excited about drinking them, I can’t even fathom why I was so afraid of them anymore!
I have a couple of questions though . . .
1. Why the boiling water?? I really like the smoothie to be as cold as possible so I changed that part for myself, but am thinking maybe there is a good reason I should just follow the directions?
2. Jonathan talked about how we should have 30g of protein in at one sitting and not say a snack with just 15g because the metabolic effect would not be right with just 15g. But as someone else said this is a Huge amount for me to drink within just say 1/2an hour. I have to drink the full thing to get the 30g or protein though. Is this meant to be sipped on over time or glugged?

carrie - HI Dianna – the 30g protein thing is to MAXIMISE protein synthesis, but it will still happen if you don’t have 30g in one go. I cannot drink a whole smoothie in 30 minutes and typically drink half at breakfast and the other half at lunch. The boiling water softens the frozen fruit to aid blending, but you can use cold it you want and your blender can handle completely frozen. Hope that helps!

Karen G - Just tried this smoothie. Swapped out the raspberries and syrup for strawberries and strawberry syrup since i didn’t have those. Still very yummy. My husband said it is his favorite so far. Thanks.

Marcia Heffron - I am new to smoothies, but I am loving them! Y our recipes are terrific, and I am now improvising from them. I start with a cup of unsweetened almond/coconut milk and a scoop of Gold Standard whey protein, then add some combination of fresh berries, unsweetened cacao powder, unsweetened shredded coconut, Fage Greek yogurt, xylitol, unsweetened almond butter or coconut oil, and fill the rest of the blender with greens (Costco has big bags of a mix of kale, chard and spinach). They are all delicious!!! I bought colored cups and straws, so the green color doesn’t look so weird. Thanks for all your recipes and tips.

11 Tips For Reading Food Labels

It’s time to get serious for a moment or two, lovely SSoS’ers.

Let’s talk about labels.  Food labels, that is.  I love labels.  I’ve been an avid label reader since I can remember knowing what a label was, and that was way  before barcodes were even an inkling in some geeky dude’s cerebral cortex.

Labels make me happy.  They also make me sad; but definitely more happy than sad.  Happy because they tell me really important stuff.  Sad because I find out how much rubbish is in our foods these days.  Labels are brilliant for helping us navigate to a SANE and healthy life.  Labels are also sneaky, complicated, and misleading.

It is very easy to think that you are doing good and buying *SANE when in fact you aren’t – through no fault of your own.  Tomato paste doesn’t need sugar in it, right?  Right.  But most brands add it anyway.  This is why we need to read labels.  Don’t let sneaky manufacturers knock you off your path to *SANEity!

The Food You Eat


Here’s some things you can do to make sure you are as SANE as you want to be when buying food.  This is the process I use to determine which products to buy, and which brands of those products to buy.

1. Buy as many foods as possible that don’t come with labels.  If a label is not required it pretty much means it was once alive and growing and has remained as Mother Nature created it.

2. If it has a label – read it.  Especially ones that you don’t think you need to read, like meat.  You will be surprised, and often not in a good way.

3. Read the list of ingredients.  If there are any added sugars, starches and/or grains listed as an ingredient – don’t buy it.  See the list of names sugar masquerades as here.  We don’t want to buy anything with *added* sugars.  When you start reading labels you will be amazed at what manufacturers add sugar to.  You can usually find a couple of unsweetened or no-added-sugar versions if you look hard enough.  Once you have found the unsweetened or no-added-sugar versions, just stick to that brand.  You will only need to do this once for each product you are looking for.  For example – I now know which brand of tomato paste is SANE and I don’t need to read tomato paste labels ever again.

4. Having determined that there are no added sugars, starches and/or grains in the ingredients list, read the nutritional content.  Lots of foods have sugars in them naturally – this does not make them bad, but you do need to be careful.  Look at the grams per serving of sugar – if it’s in the double digits – don’t buy it.

5. The shorter the ingredients list, the better it usually is.

6. If it has a whole list of ingredients with ridiculously long names, ones you can’t pronounce and/or don’t know what they are, don’t buy it.

7. Compare different brands of similar products.  They are not all the same.  For example – the amount of protein per serving in non-fat Greek yogurt varies wildly between brands.  Once you have weeded out the products with added sugars, starches and/or grains, start comparing between the ones left.  Look for the brands with:

  • More grams per serving of protein
  • Fewer grams per serving of sugar
  • More grams per serving of fiber

8. If you want to know whether something is a good source of protein, take the grams per serving of protein listed and multiply it by 4.  If the result is greater than 50% of the calories per serving listed, it’s a good source of protein.  Again, not all non-fat Greek yogurt brands are the same!

9. Don’t get waylaid by the calories.  A calorie is not a calorie.  Calorie math is a myth.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, read The Calorie Myth.  Jonathan explains it so brilliantly.

10. Remember being SANE focuses on water, protein and fiber.

11. Do not get caught up in the minutiae of vitamin and mineral content.  Follow steps 1 – 9 above and just concentrate on eating as many SANE foods as possible.  Everything else will take care of itself.


Eat Less Crap





*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!

Ellen - Carrie, Thanks for the reminder!! Last week I made a smoothie with TJ’s plain coconut milk and noticed a difference – it just wasn’t as sweet – as the smoothie with Silk plain coconut milk. I read the labels and found that SILK contains 6g sugar. You’d think PLAIN means PLAIN :) I can’t believe I didn’t notice this until just now, and I’m irritated that we don’t have a Trader Joe’s here!!

Nancy - Dang about the Silk coconut milk. I’ve been buying it as a two-pack at Costco. Didn’t think to look at the label.

Speaking of label reading, I was very frustrated at Whole Foods yesterday when I was trying to find a protein bar for a quick snack before I consumed every single item in the bakery department. I couldn’t find a single bar that had less than 20g of carbs. Even the high protein bars were carb loaded. Heavy sigh.

carrie - Hi Ellen – labels are our friends! You really do have to be careful and not go by the packaging blurb…because you would think plain means plain!! Great job on making the switch now :-)

Sautéed Pea Soup

While I was on my jaunt down to the middle of California I grew a large quantity of freckles, ate an unconscionable quantity of beef jerky, hardboiled eggs and Romaine lettuce, drove 3494 miles in bare feet, became several shades blonder, spent hours lying upside-down on the streets of Solvang, washed my car!, shot 1053 images, discovered that imposing limitations makes you super creative, drove through an oil field, watched a poppy bud shed it’s casing, and only got stopped by the police once.  Same old, same old.

Now I’m back and I am just tickled pink to see that Spring has already moved in, even though March has just barely got off the starting blocks.  The days are getting longer, there’s teeny-weeny new shoots on my rose bush, tiny buds sprouting on my clematis, the daffys are pushing their way skyward, and yesterday I heard someone mowing.  Mowing, I tell you!!  In March!!  Spring has sprung around here for sure.  HURRAH!

This year is just clipping along at such a pace I can hardly keep up.  My road trip down south that seemed to take forever to get here is now receding rapidly into the fading memories of my mind.  The upcoming trip to New Orleans – for which I am completely unprepared – is hurtling towards me faster than a smoothie in a Vitamix.  And all I wanted to do was talk to you about peas.  I love peas.  I’ll often eat a pound of peas for dinner.  Just peas.  With a dollop of butter and a quick shake of lemon pepper.  Magical.  Not a very balanced meal I admit, but if you’re exhausted and have 2 seconds to eat, go with green veggies.

Pea soup, on the other hand, brings to my mind a couple of things:

1. Fog so thick you cannot see your hand in front of your face.  We call them “pea-soupers” in England, and they were a fairly regular occurence during my childhood.  Driving in pea-soupers was when I learnt that using your high beam lights is not always the best course of action.  When the fog is so thick that it just bounces any light right back at you, using your high beams cuts your visibility to even less.  I always marvelled at how my father drove through pea-soupers.  I swear I did most of my Drivers Ed in the back seat of the family car, watching him drive.

2. Thick, musty green, grainy sludge.

I want to reassure you that this Sautéed Pea Soup bears absolutely no resemblance to 2) above.  It would, however, be a great way to warm up after traversing through 1).  Having just been on a short rendezvous through Fog City – although there was not one single puff of fog the day I was there – it seemed only fitting to share this particular soup.  In fact, it was so clear in San Francisco last weekend I was able to get this shot of Alcatraz while standing on Fishermans Wharf.  I wonder if they served something akin to 2) above while it was being used as a prison?

Carrie Brown  |  Alcatraz

Enough of all this fog talk.  Let’s get back to the peas, people.

This SANE pea soup is something else entirely to the pea soup of my youth.  It is smooth, creamy, and bright.  Not to mention fast, easy and terribly tasty.

Carrie Brown  |  Sauteed Pea Soup

Peas are fabulously full of fiber.  Add to that the cucumbers and spinach and you have a whole bunch of green goodness going on in your bowl.

Make a big batch and freeze it in portions, ready to warm and serve in a hurry; but you don’t have to wait for fog to whip this up – it’s also delicious cold, and would make a delightful SANE supper on a hot summer evening.

GO, peas!


5.0 from 2 reviews
Sautéed Pea Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 lb / 450g frozen peas
  • 1½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 lb 11 oz. / 760g English cucumbers, cut roughly into chunks
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. unsweetened thin coconut milk
  • 10 oz / 280g onion, cut into large chunks
  • 1 oz / 28g butter
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1½ tsp dried basil
  • 1½ tsp dried mint
  • 2 oz. / 55g fresh spinach
  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat the coconut oil.
  2. Add the frozen peas and saute for 4 minutes on high heat.
  3. Add the salt, chopped cucumbers coconut milk and onion to the pan and simmer until cucumber and onions are tender, about 7 minutes.
  4. In batches, blend the vegetables in a blender. Transfer each batch to a large bowl or saucepan.
  5. To the last batch of vegetables in the blender, add the butter, heavy cream, basil, and mint.
  6. While blending remove the center of the blender lid and carefully shake in the xanthan gum and blend for 10 seconds.
  7. Turn the blender off and add the fresh spinach.
  8. Blend just until the spinach has completely disappeared.
  9. Stir into the rest of the soup and reheat if necessary before serving.

Sauteed Pea Soup




*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!

Cowgirl Rae - OH! I’ll try this. But I will be subbing zucchini for the cucumber. Hubs Will. Not. Eat. Cucumber.

Did you blend with vitamix or kitchen blender?

We love pea soup (with dried peas), the thicker the better and I add several grated carrots, let it cook in the crock pot all day. Run it thru the osterizer. YUM

I’ve been experimenting with making coconut milk, Have you tried?

carrie - Hey Cowgirl, I Vitamixed it. I have not made coconut milk, and I cannot imagine every getting to it. Call me lazy, but the cartons from TJ’s work for me ;-)

Cowgirl Rae - T.J. is over an hour from me, I’ve decided i don’t want the thickeners anymore in the carton stuff. Canned is just too expensive +thickeners + possible BPA from the cans. Sigh.
I sold my beloved juicer and will be getting a Vitamix soon. woot!

carrie - WOOOHOO on the Vitamix, Cowgirl!!! Your life will be changed :-)

Cowgirl Rae - I hope so…. although it’s a tall order.

I LOVED the juicer I had. I made almost exclusively green vegetable juices, very little fruit. And it had the ability to turn frozen fruit into the most FANTASITC pure fruit sorbet…. But it now lives 2 houses down and I can borrow it if I want to.

Planning to order the vitamix mext month.

Danna - Hi Carrie! I love pea soup too and I love that you’ve added extra veggies to make it even healthier than it’s higher carb counterpart. But my question is: why do you use frozen peas instead of the dried, split peas? And I figured peas would be on the non SANE list because they are similar to corn where they are more a carb than a veggie. Just curious….. :)

carrie - Hi Danna – I have never used a dried pea in my life, but I always have peas in the freezer, so that was what I used. And Bailor says peas are good, so peas it is :-) I hope you weren’t expecting some highly technical or complicated answer here!! Having said that, when I get a chance I am going to get a more techy answer for you :-)

carrie - Ha ha, Cowgirl! Sounds like a perfect arrangement with your juicer!!

Patmick - Absolutely scrumptious!!! I made it this A.M. and drank two cups even though I was full from breakfast. It was just so yummy! Five stars! I will never make dried pea soup again. And such a pretty green oolala

carrie - Ha ha Patmick! That made me smile :-)

Denise - Hi Carrie! I have just recently found this site and have been loving all your recipes! I have one question: when a recipe like this calls for coconut milk, is it OK to substitute almond milk? I tried coconut milk a short time ago and for some strange reason my body said “YUCK!” to it so now I use almond milk.

Kasey - Carrie, I have read many of your recipes and plan to try them all! I do have a question though… Can I make any of your soups and freeze for later use? Like a night I don’t feel like cooking perhaps?

Beth - This was delicious! I omitted the mint and heavy cream(didn’t have it on hand) and subbed 1 T. coconut cream. Loved it!

carrie - Beth – so glad you loved it! One of my faves…and so quick and easy.

Get A Little Perspective

Hi, Gang!

I’m back.  In Seattle.  At least for a couple of weeks.

If you follow my ridiculousness on Facebook, you’ll be all too aware that I just got back from a road trip to California; and while I was on the road I bombarded you with a flood of status updates that included – but were not limited to – my run-ins with the boys in blue, multiple images of my feet, SANE eating adventures, random thoughts, my favorite shots of the day, and the oh-so-popular Housesitters Reports.  I am sure that your news feed is thrilled that it has been able to breathe again since I returned.  I should mention that Florence got the most fan mail despite the fact that she reportedly spent most of the time I was gone staring at the dishwasher or wondering what was happening.  Maybe she needs her own Facebook page.

You may not know this about me; thinking about it, you almost certainly don’t know this about me, and would never guess it from the podcasts or Facebook or my little blogette right here.  I’m an introvert.  Truth.  My road trips are critical to my very survival – they literally stop me from going crazy.  Driving solo for {very} long distances turns my world the right way up; and even though I am working on shooting assignments, my road trips are when I do all my major thinking, and I find my brain exploding with insights and ideas and realizations that it doesn’t usually get a chance to explore.

I’m guessing that an awful lot of people see the Smarter Science of Slim / SANE lifestyle as restrictive.  They see what they can’t have and feel like it must be a miserable life of denial, struggle, and suffering.  They think that in order for variety to be the spice of life – and for food not to get boring – they need to be able to eat every foodstuff there is available.  They wonder what on earth they are going to eat if they can’t eat flour and sugar.  There’s nothing left, right?  At least there’s nothing left that’s tasty or worth eating.  I’ve been mulling over this concept for a year now, and considering how to help people gain a new perspective on the whole your-life-is-not-over-because-you-don’t-eat-wheat-or-sugar thing.

One day, after shooting mainly landscapes in the wilds of central California for 3 days, I decided on a whim that I was going to limit myself to only shooting with my macro lens.  I declared it Macro Day – getting {really} up close and personal with my surroundings.

For a while I was stumped, wondering, ‘What am I going to shoot?”  Then almost immediately it struck me.  I was going to have to look at the world in an entirely new way.  I was no longer looking for compelling compositions that stretched across miles of land.  I had to look for things that I normally pass right on by without a second glance, and work out how to make them into a compelling image.  I would have to look at ordinary objects in a whole new way.  I would need to look for details that I never knew existed before.  And it was awesome. 

The exercise gave me whole new perspectives on life, the universe, and everything; and how often does do we let that happen??

Turns out I didn’t have to drive for hundreds of miles every day to get compelling images.  On Macro Day I didn’t get more than 3 miles from the condo; and yet I shot 3 times as many images as I had in the previous 3 days combined – those 3 days having involved driving over 1100 miles.

Then came the flowers.  Before I knew it I was lying upside down in the street – completely oblivious to the world rushing by me, and completely engrossed in my work.  And it was awesome.

Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















I learned that limitations make you more creative, not less creative.  And that is a really, really, really great thing.  I saw things in a way that I had never looked at them before.  I saw detail and beauty that I had previously missed.

I thought about how this is exactly like converting to a SANE lifestyle.  How developing SANE recipes has made me far more creative, simply because I have less to work with; and yet I’ve had countless people tell me that my recipes taste better than the food they ate when they were eating “regular” food.  Eating SANE forces me to get creative in the kitchen.  And what initially seemed like a huge struggle, has turned out to be a mesmerizing journey in creativity.  It makes me constantly think, “How can I make something totally tasty with only these ingredients at my disposal?”  And when recipes – especially baked goods – don’t turn out the way I had hoped, the limitations compel me to figure out how to make them work, instead of giving up or turning to inSANE alternatives.

When we limit ourselves we see and find more possibilities, not less.

I’ve eaten more almonds in the last 6 months than in the rest of my life put together.  Who knew those rather boring-looking nuts could get whipped into so many fabulous concoctions?

And when you’re faced with upping the amount of veggies you consume drastically, you discover veggies you never knew existed.  You find ways of preparing veggies that you never imagined before.  You find ways to get veggies into every thing you eat, even though you may not even have liked veggies very much before.

And it is awesome.

If a doctor had told me 18 months ago that I had to switch to a gluten-free diet because of an allergy or other health issue, I would have thought my life was over.  I could not have imagined life without bread, or pasta or cupcakes.  And then remove sugar too??  NO WAY.  I would have been in complete despair.  Then I met Jonathan and read The Smarter Science of Slim and started focusing on eating  the healthiest and most nutritionally dense foods, and I found myself several months later eating a completely grain-free, sugar-free diet without even realizing it.  I hadn’t focused on what I couldn’t eat, I focused on discovering the unknown joys of all the things I could eat.  My life was changed as a result of the things I ate; and I hadn’t felt deprived, not once.

Similarly with my macro exercise.  I focused (ha ha!) on what I could shoot up close, not on what I couldn’t shoot.  My life was changed as a result of the things I saw; and I didn’t feel deprived, not once.  In fact, my day exploded with creativity and thinking; and most of my favorite images of the trip I shot on the day I imposed limitations and saw things from a different perspective.  And it was awesome.

Change your perspective and you change your whole world.


{Love the images and want to see more? Click on each image to go to the gallery}


*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!

Ladyp1234 - Your photos are stunning Carrie. And I shall be mulling over your thoughts today, as I move towards having less flour and sugar in our family diet….

Molly R - Carrie,
First off, I want to thank you for sharing your beautiful photography! It is inspiring and uplifting to see so many gorgeous pictures during the work week, when all I can think about is how to get myself (and my students) to spring break successfully! Lol
Secondly, are far more importantly from a health aspect, I loved your thoughts on approaching SANE eating. I have read Jonathan’s book. I have been listening to the podcast, but I have been hesitating on making the dietary changes that I need to make, because I don’t want to give up my sugar!! I lost 40 pounds from March to August last year and then stopped because I had not learned in that time how to get creative with my cooking. Thus I have regained about 20 or so of those pounds back!! I plan on spending my Spring break getting myself off sugar and I hope eventually off of wheat so that I can at least test out the difference for myself! Thanks for your insight!

Romy - Wonderful pictures! Thank you for sharing.
Greetings from Switzerland

allisol - Wow those pictures are amazing. I was just thinking of you last night. I thought “With all that driving, shouldn’t she be sharing some epiphany with us at some point?” haha! We rely on you for epiphanies! But this is soooo true. The “restrictions” as they are, have forced me to be so much more adventurous with food and try things I have never had (leeks??? Who knew!?) and cook things I’ve never cooked. It’s freeing that the options are really limitless.

Oh, and we extroverts knew right away you were an introvert. No extrovert would be caught dead driving for 10 days by him/her self. We get bored driving to the grocery store alone.


Meghan - Hi Carrie,
These photos ARE GOREGEOUS…. I wanted to “repin” them… when I clicked on pinterest button at the bottom, only the orange flower at the bottom came up…. do you have a board with all of them on there?

Wendy - And you coming to this point is awesome.

carrie - Thanks, everyone, for all the photo love!! Molly R – awesome job on the 40 – now let’s get back to it :-) Allisol – you crack me up :-) Wendy – miss you! GO, LadyP!!

carrie - Molly R – hopefully you can use my recipes on this blog to help you with the creative cooking bit and keep on track. Is there something inSANE that you really miss that you would particularly like me to make a SANE version of?

Margaret H - Beautiful! The flowers are gorgeous but I do love that post with the barbed wire. Thanks for sharing these and your words of wisdom. They will definitely come to mind when I think I’m being deprived!

Ellen - Beautiful! Jonathan has a worthy competitor in the analogy contest!

Julie - Love love love this whole post! I enjoyed your writing, the story about your trip, and the photos are phenomenal. Inspiring on multiple levels.

Sylvia - Carrie, your photos are absolutely amazing! Isn’t nature wonderful?!! Thanks for all your inspiring posts. The motivation you give is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much on so many levels.

carrie - THANK YOU for your kind words, Sylvia!

carrie - THANK YOU, so much, Julie :-)

carrie - HA, Ellen! I don’t think I will ever reach analogy god status like Bailor, but happy that I made my point!

carrie - Margaret – I loved that post, too!!

Natalie - I really connected with this post–so amazing! I too am introverted and love love LOVE road trips, and I think I was living vicariously through you by reading this–traveling with multiple kids isn’t exactly relaxing so I don’t do much of it anymore!
I also admire how you linked two seemingly different pursuits because you had to change your perspective due to limited resources (macro lens v. “restricted” ingredients)–brilliant! Your photography is lovely! Keep up the good work on your podcast with Jonathan, I love your humor and relatability.

carrie - Thanks so much for your kind words, Natalie; and for all the podcast and photography love!!