As it does every New Year, January 1st 2013 seemed like a great day to start exploring a new lifestyle.  This year, though, Rod and Kathy were really serious, and so they began their adventure into eating healthier.

“Honey, would you order a book for me?” My lovely wife Kathy asked, explains Rod. “It’s called the Smarter Science of Slim.”

“When the book arrived, Kathy wasted no time and quickly dove right in and absorbed all of the gems it had to offer. It was soon after that Kathy began espousing all sorts of strange and sometimes questionable ideas’, Rod said.  “I was convinced she had joined a cult and was looking to recruit me.  But with loving persistence Kathy began to get through to me and I was soon a convert.  I knew Kathy was right; we needed to make some serious lifestyle changes.  At 50 years old I was weighing in at 237 lbs (the highest I’ve ever been in my life) and wearing a size 42 pants….ok maybe 43! But I could squeeze into a 42 so that is the official measurement. I won’t even hazard a guess at Kathy’s starting point as I am happily married and would like to remain that way.”

“Still not completely sure what we were doing, we began by scrubbing the kitchen of all of the processed foods, ingredients, and grains that we could find. Our house became so clear of Chametz (food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which have been leavened) that it would make a Hassidic Jewish household pale in comparison. We cleaned out cupboards, drawers, pantry, and refrigerator.  With the deconstruction accomplished it was time to rebuild the kitchen supplies.”

“Kathy and I were so excited about becoming the next super-models—and like obedient cult followers—we quickly assembled our shopping list from the Smarter Science of Slim book and blindly headed out the door. We were on a mission! We looked like a couple of crazed mountain men running a trap line.  We went to Costco, QFC, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and the little produce stand at the local gas station. If we made one more stop I would have had to rent a U-Haul truck.  Later, back at the house, and peering into the empty 22 cubic foot refrigerator against the 60 cubic feet of groceries piled high on the counters, kitchen, and floor, I was wondering how we were going to fit everything in.”

“Are you SURE we need 18 bags of spinach Kathy?”  I asked.  “I’ve learned a lot about Kathy since we’ve been married, but I have to say I never knew she was a Tetris master. She deftly managed to get all the perishables into the refrigerator. Honestly, I’m still not sure if the light in the refrigerator is burned out, or if all of the food is just blocking any light emission from escaping. It took about 2 weeks before I knew the answer to that question.  Slowly the contents of the cupboards and refrigerator began to diminish to normal levels as Kathy and I mixed up strange brews using some new-to-us ingredients. We started off a bit discombobulated, but quickly found a rhythm that seemed to work for us.  SANE green healthy smoothies in the morning, fresh veggies throughout the day – with a protein chaser.  Plenty of water throughout, and lean proteins with steamed veggies, or one of Carrie’s SANE recipes for dinner.  It was good.”

“The first thing we noticed was that we seemed to have more energy, although you wouldn’t have guessed as we collapsed each evening facedown into the couch. How is that having more energy you ask?  We never had the energy to make it to the couch before”, Rod grins.

“We lived with the kitchen counters amassed high with all sorts of bags that had strange ingredients in them such as Chia Seeds, Guar Gum, Ground Flax, and Xylitol. Whenever we wanted to cook something we found ourselves searching for an ingredient among the piles. This simply wouldn’t do if we expected to be successful at eating SANEly.  We needed to get organized!  WWCD? (What Would Carrie Do?).  We consulted her website and saw how nicely organized her cupboards were…..we wanted to be like Carrie…like Carrie…like Carrie”.

“There is a very dangerous combination for me. The first is that I’ve always found it more beneficial to ask for forgiveness than permission, and the second is that I have a credit card and access to the internet. It didn’t take me long to find some really nice storage jars online.  Why yes of course I need three dozen jars of every size you make.  Kathy was very forgiving as I opened up the cupboards to reveal an AWESOME display of well labeled containers that hosted every imaginable ingredient one could possibly use in eating SANEly; and finally we had some control over our kitchen. As we progressed through the weeks we found our new normal – shopping and food prep became second nature and we were making great progress.  I knew that we were making progress when I had to keep cinching in my belt.  It was either that or wear my pants around my knees…and although I hear that is the latest fashion statement in some social circles, I really didn’t want to be confused with a gang member. YES! I actually had to go to my size 40 pants, and soon after that down to my size 38 pants. Well, HELLO toes, I haven’t seen you guys in a long time!.”

“I have had co-workers comment on my transformation over the past few months. Usually they ask what type of diet I am on. My standard reply is, “I’m not on any diet, I am just eating healthier”. Eating SANEly is not dieting, but just eating the way we were meant to eat. I am getting more than I need to eat, I feel better, and I don’t have any of the cravings that I thought I would. I don’t miss the pastries, pastas, or other such carbs.  Kathy and I still have our moments when we decide to just let loose and eat whatever we like. But those moments are the exceptions to the rule. We don’t stress about the days that we eat a little less SANEly.  We don’t throw in the towel and give up because of one weak moment. We allow ourselves a few cheats. Interestingly, our bodies seem to self correct by wanting the SANE foods afterwards. I find that I crave the SANE foods more than the inSANE foods.  And that makes it all so much easier.”

“Up until six weeks ago I was weighing myself once a week to see where I was at (the last time I weighed myself I was at 212) and it was driving me crazy! I would even blow dry my hair after taking a shower before stepping on the scale to make sure I was at my lowest weight possible. Ok, let’s see a show of hands of those of who can have done this. I would eat SANEly all week and find that I either had not lost any weight, or I had…GASP…gained weight! After reading in the omnipotent and wise SSoS book to toss out the scale I haven’t weighed myself since. I find this very liberating as I really don’t care what I weigh. I am now forced to listen to my body. It tells me how I am feeling and whether I am doing the right things.”

“I believe that Kathy and I are successful because we get support from each other, and from Carrie’s and Jonathan’s websites and Facebook pages. We aren’t dieting, we are eating healthy, and we are committed to a lifestyle of healthy choices.  I hear a Greek-yogurt with berries calling my name.”


HUGE CONGRATS to Rod and Kathy, and THANK YOU for sharing your story with us!




*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!
  • Belinda - Yay! Great work to healthy lifestylists Kathy and Rod and for sharing their progress! Thank you, Jonathan and Carrie, for the wealth of inspiration and education.
    My boyfriend, Jim,thanked me this morning for sharing the Slim is Simple video with him. Looks like he is open to Slim is Simple!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - Wonderful and inspiring story- for BOTH eating SANEly and kitchen organization! Thank you Carrie for sharing.
    Kudos Belinda & Jim!
    Rod and Kathy Please keep us tuned in on FB! It’s so great to see couples working together toward better health.
    One that note …. My husband called me yesterday to tell me purchased two steer (we live on 5 acres) and he told me that he planned to feed them only grass. You see we have raised our own beef in the past but he always finishes them with grain. His comment “that’s what the book said right? Grass fed is best?” Imagine my surprise and delight! He DOES listen to me once in a while. LOL.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Sharon – we LOVE this!!! And we LOVE your husband!!!! Fantastic :-))ReplyCancel

  • Ellen - How inspiring – Congratulations! I love that you’re supporting each other and that you have been so successful. Thanks so much for sharing your journey!ReplyCancel

This week I decided it would be nice to add a dab of Asian flavor to our *SANEity.  I love Asian food – particularly Chinese and Thai, and I sure do miss the chinkys back home.

For the uninitiated, “chinky” is a term of endearment in England.  It’s the British nickname for a Chinese takeaway – those barren little store fronts with a few cheap chairs, a chipped, laminate countertop, a pile of newspapers and trashy magazines, a small TV hanging from one corner.  You’re greeted by whichever family member happens to be available at the moment.

After 5 minutes of being entertained by a wok-clanging, sizzling kerfuffle out back – punctuated by a lot of yelling in mandarin – you’re out the door with a plastic carrier bag packed full of identical foil containers with cardboard lids, stacked on top of one another, and each one crammed to the brim with delicious made-in-minutes authentic Chinese food.  I have yet to find Chinese food in Washington State that tasted anywhere near as good as the Chinese take-away of my homeland.  I miss it.  Some days I want to fly to England just to have a big old plate of Chinese – prawn crackers on the side.  That’s how much I miss it.

There’s nothing quite like a Saturday night at home with a Chinese take-away and a good movie, curled up on the couch with someone nice.  That trifecta of Saturday night awesomeness has not happened in, oh, over 13 years.  Let’s make Egg Foo Yung!  That and a good movie and I’ll be two-thirds there.  Throw in a cat – or five six – and it won’t be half bad.  Egg Foo Yung  |  Carrie Brown

I deliberately made this recipe lazy.  I mean, who has the time or inclination to make a separate sauce to drizzle over your Egg Foo Yung?  Not me.  So I just mixed the sauce right into the egg.  I admit, it’s not the same as the real thing, but you get the flavor, and that was my goal.  More laziness – bake them in the oven instead of dragging the wok onto the stove top, heating oil, and fiddling with layers of egg and veggies.  Easy.  Lazy.  Who cares?

These gorgeous little eggy omelets are bursting with vegetable goodness.  They are super-moist because you do not pre-cook the veggies.  They’re super-simple, speedy to sling together and make a super-SANE breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.  They puff up like little prima donna soufflés in the oven, and look fantastic when you take them out.  Sadly they collapse as they cool, but the crispy, crunchy veggies, and the sweet sassy flavor remain. Egg Foo Yung | Carrie Brown

I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce – which is made from wheat.  Of course, the small amount of soy sauce that is in here won’t kill you – or bring your *SANEity to a grinding halt – but if you are gluten-free, or if you’re like me and don’t keep soy sauce in the house, then Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are a great alternative.  Mirin is a low-alcohol rice wine and is used just for flavor.  You can leave the mirin out, the flavor just won’t be as good.  I found it in my local Fred Meyers, so I am hoping no one has difficulty finding it.  You could also leave both the Bragg’s and the mirin out and dip the Egg Foo Yung in your favorite Chinese dipping sauce instead – although these will likely contain wheat and sugar.  For those with a Trader Joe’s at hand, their Balsamic Glaze drizzled over the top would be a brilliant and easy sauce.

I’ve already eaten 12 of these veggie-packed protein dynamos, and they’ll be in my lunch box every day this week.  Well, depending on if I can resist eating them for dinner too.

享受 !

4.0 from 1 reviews
Egg Foo Yung
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 3 oz. / 85g shredded carrots
  • 8 oz. / 225g bean sprouts
  • 4 oz. / 110g red pepper, chopped
  • 2 oz. / 55g scallions (green / spring onions), chopped
  • 4 TBSP Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 4 TBSP mirin
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 10 eggs, beaten well
  1. Spray a muffin pan with coconut oil.
  2. Roughly chop the shredded carrots and the bean sprouts to shorten them to fit in a muffin pan.
  3. Place all the vegetables in a bowl and stir well.
  4. Add the Braggs, mirin, and white pepper and mix together.
  5. Add the beaten eggs and stir until vegetables are evenly distributed.
  6. Using a ½ cup, spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin pan.
  7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, until they are very puffy and just starting to brown.
  8. Remove them from the muffin pan and allow to cool on a wire rack to prevent them sweating.

Egg Foo Yung | Carrie Brown




*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!
  • KanukGurl - What a great idea. And, I’ve been looking for some ideas besides stir fry to accompany my favorite go-to: cauliflower fried rice. Looks like a perfect match!ReplyCancel

  • Sigi - Oh, they look so yum. I’m definitely trying this. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sigi - Oh, they look so yum! I’m definitely trying this. :)ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - I’ve been making Asian stir fry with shiritake noodles. YUM!

    Not to criticize, but I’m not sure the term “chinky” is Politically correct in the US, since it derives from the pejorative word “Chink”.

    “Chinese” or “Asian Food” is used here.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Ah, Janknitz – the joys of having a blog that’s read all over the world :-) That’s why I went to such pains to explain that the useage of the term in England is a term of endearment for something that we love, and not derogatory in any way. I have yet to get my hands on some shiritaki noodles to play with, but I will!ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - I know you didn’t mean it in any negative way. Our language is so full of booby traps (which is also probably not a PC term!).

    I lived in Hawaii for a few years where it’s common and acceptable for every ethnic group to “talk stink” about the others. And they do! There’s even a well-known comedian in the islands whose entire act plays up talking stink about others. But in the islands, six degrees of separation is more like three–almost everyone is related in some way, or knows someone who is related, so it’s more like talking about family than denigrating strangers. Mainland people are often shocked and appalled.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - So, I will have to purchase some Mirin. However, I also have fish sauce on hand should I incorporate? and if so any recommendations on amount?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - You know, Sharon – I have never eaten fish sauce, so realy not sure how to advise. Start with less and add more – you can’t take it out once it’s in there!ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - Fish sauce is great! It adds that Umame flavor that tastes so good in Asian dishes. But use sparingly, a little goes a long way.. I like to use it with coconut aminos because I find the coconut aminos too sweet for my tastes, fish sauce rounds out the flavor a little better.

    Be careful when you buy fish sauce. Many brands have sugar, so you have to read the ingredients carefully.ReplyCancel

  • Eat...Enjoy - […] for your weekday lunch, I whipped up a version of Egg Foo Yung in the weekend. A combination of this recipe from Carrie Brown’s blog (she’s got some GREAT recipes) and this from Well Fed. A nice mix of […]ReplyCancel

  • Marlys - I just made a little half batch of these last night. They really are easy and quick! And I’m so excited that mine turned out looking almost as great as yours Carrie. They are great for breakfast too. Thanks for bringing a new flavor into the SANE recipe mix!


    • carrie - Marlys – of course they looked as good as mine!! :-) Aren’t they easy and delicious? So glad you love them. I ate them for breakfast too ;-)ReplyCancel

  • KanukGurl - I have a question about the SANEity of Mirin….the one I found at my local store (Kikkoman) had 13g of sugar for a 2 TBSP serving. Are there SANEr versions out there. Do you have brand recommendations?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - KanukGurl – I used SunLuck brand which has 3g of sugar. I do remember reading several bottles before I chose the SANEst. If you use SunLuck you effectively get 1g sugar per piece. With Kikkoman you would get just over 2g sugar per piece. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Sahara - Do you know about tamari? Soy sauce without the wheat and it has a superior flavor in my opinion. Because of tamari I’ve been able to avoid soy at home for decades! :-)
    Just and fyi –ReplyCancel

  • Marlys - Carrie, I’ve made these 3 times now and fondly call them Egg Foo Yum. ;)ReplyCancel

Hang on to your hats, folks!  Something big is about to happen: it’s a recipe post.

I realize they’ve been a bit thin on the ground lately.  There’s been a lot going down over at Marmalade HQ, and, as it happens, a lot coming up.

My white blood cell count was up to 3 times what it should be, and – without putting too fine a point on it – there was an awful lot of stuff coming up out of my mouth that should have exited my body from another orifice.  Yes.  I was taken out by the “Thing”.  Even my therapist’s office did not escape the ravages of the “Thing”.  Thanks goodness for garbage cans lined with plastic bags, located close at hand.  Oh, and tissues.  Thank goodness for tissues.  Boxes of tissues.  So that was 3 days and 2 nights of my life last weekend; and brought the number of ER visits in the last 6 weeks to 2.  I like to think I am done for the year now, thank you very much.

Curiously, after a rather disoriented ramble around Trader Joe’s on my way home from hospital, I had a sudden burst of energy and decided that I needed to make meatloaf.  Bear in mind that I have never made a meatloaf in my life.  I am trying to remember if I have ever even eaten meatloaf in my life.  I think maybe once.  Possibly twice, but I really don’t think so.  We Brits, we’re just not big on meatloaf like Americans.  Americans love meatloaf.  Why I had the urge to make meatloaf at all is a little perplexing to me.  Why I got that urge after being supine in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV merrily shunting sugar-water around my veins for 3 days is a deeper mystery altogether; and not one I think we should pursue at this point.

Turkey & Cranberry Meatloaf  |  Carrie Brown

So I called Bea and said, “Bea, I’m going to create a *SANE Meatloaf.  Have you eaten?  Would you like to come and be my guinea pig?”

Bea did indeed wish to be the first person to chow down on my inaugural meatloaf.  She’s a brave soul.  I didn’t even know if it would work, let alone taste good.  When Bea rolled up and plonked herself at the kitchen table, I was in the last throes of meatloaf creation.  “Oh!”, she exclaimed.  “That’s a very fancy mixer-upper thingy!”, pointing to my food processor.  Indeed.  It made very short work of chopping the veggies in about 12 seconds flat.

This is super-fast and simple to throw together.  Then it’s an hour in the oven and marvellous meatloaf *SANEity will be yours.  There’s A POUND AND A HALF of veggies in this sucker, and you wouldn’t even guess.  Trick your children!  Trick your errant anti-diet husband!  They’ll never know.

I was really worried about my first meatloaf falling apart when I tried to get it out of the tin, or even worse – watching it crumble when I sliced it.  It was time mis-spent worrying.  This meatloaf holds together beautifully, and slices like a dream – especially when it’s cold.  I would recommend using a serrated knife to cut it, and using a sawing action.   It will slice better that way.  Don’t use a straight-edge knife that you push through the loaf.

This is fantastic comfort food served hot.  It’s fantastic lunch food served cold.  I even ate it for breakfast one day; but that’s because I just couldn’t wait for it to be lunchtime – it was cooing at me from the ‘fridge and I was powerless to resist its charms.  You can freeze this whole, you can freeze this in slices.  You can freeze each slice individually and then just grab a slice (or two) as you head out the door in the morning.  Eat it alongside salad.  Eat it with steamed veggies.  Eat it with a huge dollop of mashed cauliflower.  Eat a slice as a snack when you get the munchies – it’s pretty much a balanced meal all on its own.  It would even make fantastic party food sliced into small cubes or fingers and speared with a toothpick.  And look at that puppy – fancy dinner party offereing if I ever I saw one.

It’s true.  I have succumbed.  I’ve been converted to the throngs of meatloaf lovers across America.  Hurrah!

PS. Bea loved it.  She also said it needed more salt, so I adjusted the recipe.  It’s why we love taste-testers around here.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Turkey & Cranberry Meatloaf
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 4 large stalks celery
  • 1 lb / 450g leeks
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 3 oz. / 85g dried cranberries
  • 2 TBSP fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 8 oz. / 225g almond meal (with skins on)
  • 3 TBSP egg white
  • 2 lb / 900g lean, ground (minced) turkey (or chicken)
  • OPTIONAL: ½ cup whole berry SANE cranberry sauce (use search to locate recipe)
  1. Finely chop the celery and leeks, or pulse in a food processor.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and sauté the vegetables - stirring regularly - over medium heat until the water has all been cooked out. About 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, put the cranberries, sage, salt, pepper, xanthan gum, and almond meal, and mix well until completely combined.
  4. Once the vegetables are ready, turn into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the egg white and stir well.
  6. Add the ground turkey and mix well. Hands are the best tool here, although the mixture is a little sticky.
  7. Turn the meat mixture into a loaf pan that you had sprayed with coconut oil, and press into all corners and sides.
  8. Bake the meatloaf in the center of the oven at 350 F for an hour.
  9. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Slide a knife around the edges of the meatloaf to make sure the sides are free.
  11. Take a cooling rack and place on top of the meatloaf in the pan.
  12. Carefully turn the cooling rack and pan over and the meatloaf will slide out. It may need a little shake.
  13. OPTIONAL: spread whole berry cranberry sauce on the top surface of the loaf before serving.

Turkey & Cranberry Meatloaf  |  Carrie Brown





*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!
  • Sharon - My mouth is watering. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. BTW I found cooking my meatloafs in a muffin pan rather than a loaf pan makes it “portable” more quickly. No slicing involved! And it cuts down on cooking time. Thanks again Carrie!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Ha ha, Sharon! I have another meatloaf recipe already lined up which I made in individual pans!! Great minds…ReplyCancel

  • Sylvia - OOOH, Carrie, this sounds so good! Looking forward to trying this one. Have you tried it with minced beef?
    Hope you are feeling better!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Sylvia! I am working on a minced beef meatloaf :-) Should be up next week. Feeling so much better – THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Joe - Well….I happen to love meatloaf….would you be willing to FEDEX me a slice…Im across the pond in Kitsap! And, if you ever need a lab rat; Im your guy! Thank you for all your great recipes!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - HA, Joe!! I am not sure FEDEX could be trusted to deliver your meatloaf to you safe and sound. You’d be a seriously well-fed “lab rat”!! :-) I am jealous that you live in Kitsap – I LOVE taking the ferry over to Bainbridge and the peninsula!! I might just take a ride over there this next week.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - It’s on the menu for tonight! I am soooo looking forward to happy leftovers of meatloaf!!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - Holy-moly! Now my meatloaf wasn’t near as gorgeous as yours, Carrie, but OOHHMMMGOSH… Sooooo DELISH!!ReplyCancel

  • Susie - This looks lovely! As a Brit, I do occasionally make meatloaf as it is so handy for lunchboxes. I slice it, then put odd pieces of greaseproof/baking paper between the slices before freezing then I can easily take a few pieces from the freezer when needed without individually wrapping everything!ReplyCancel

  • Wakeupeager - Hey made this tonight – FANTASTIC – because I did not have 2 lbs of ground turkey- I did 1 lb of ground turkey and 1 lb of grass fed ground meat. Tasted great. For thebtopping – Have you been able to find whole cranberry sauce in a can that’s not full of sugar? It was not available in the regular grocery ( had a lot of sugar) but was thinnking maybe trader joes or whole foods carried a more natural version… Has any one found a place and brand they love? Thank you carrie!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi WakeUpEager! I used TJ’s…BUT…I will be making SANE Cranberry Sauce as soon as I can get to it. I am so excited that you loved this!ReplyCancel

  • Matilda - Turkey mince was discounted at the supermarket (as it was close to it’s use by date), so that gave me an excuse to make this recipe.
    I halved the recipe as well it’s just feeding me and 2 kids, and they only eat half an adult portion anyway.
    Lets just say, that my son, who is a sloth when it comes to eating gobbled this up. He totally loved it, so much so that he ate all his veggies and didn’t complain once about dinner.
    My daughter didn’t really care for the cranberries, but I made her eat it.
    I loved it and will be making it again. Thanks Carrie.


    • carrie - Hey Matilda – I admit, I loved this meatloaf too. Sadly I don’t get to make things twice very often. If I did I would make this one a lot!!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - Hello there!
    I’ve made this twice, and next time I want to make it with the cranberry sauce. I obviously need to dig deep because regular grocery stores don’t seem to carry the cranberry sauce without high fructose corn syrup. The whole family likes this recipe – even my insane family members! ;) What grocer should I try for the organic, no added sugar cranberry sauce? Or, have any of you tried making your own?ReplyCancel

  • Sunshine Turkey Scramble » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] my recent run-in with a decidedly delicious Turkey and Cranberry Meatloaf, I had some ground (minced) turkey left over.  Since it was 7:16 am  – while rummaging in the […]ReplyCancel

Hello, chums!!  Let’s talk about depression!!

“Wait.  What??  Excuse me, Carrie Brown, but I come here for recipes and tips on living *SANE, and to be motivated by your oh-so-positive outlook on life, and your bright, sparkly personality, and your energy and enthusiasm for every last little thing, and to see your pictures of pretty things, and your pictures of weird things that you make look pretty, and because you make me laugh.  I don’t want to talk about depression.  It’s so depressing.”

You’re right.  But let’s talk about depression anyway.  Because depression is important.  Especially if you suffer from it.  Then it’s *really* important.  For those of you who have never experienced depression, I can imagine you’re already about ready to scream at your computer screen, “What does this have to do with food?  Or being SANE?  Or wild travel adventures, or beautiful images, or anything that I normally come here to read about???”

As it happens – a lot.  Going and staying SANE can be hard enough.  Going and staying SANE when your brain is trying to kill you, and when Every. Last. Little. Thing. takes more energy than most people expend in an entire day, is like climbing Mount Everest – alone – and with no food or tent or equipment.  I am certain that just like there are a significant number of readers here who have diabetes, there are also a significant number of readers here who have depression.  Or have had depression, or are going to have depression at some point.  If you are lucky enough to have never had depression show up on your doorstep unannounced, there will be a sunny, excitable, joyous recipe post coming along in a matter of days.  However, if you have any idea what I am talking about, you might find something of use here.  So please stay.

New Orleans  |  Carrie Brown

Now when I say depression, I am not talking about the I-am-sad-because-someone-I-loved-died, or the I-am-sad-because-I-lost-my-job-and-I-don’t-know-how-I-am-going-to-pay-the-rent, or the I-am-sad-because-I-made-a-bad-decision-and-now-my-life-will-suck-for-a-while kind of depression.  Or the I-am-overworked-and-underpaid, or my-partner-just-dumped-me, or I-fought-with-my-mother, or I-can’t-get-grip-on-my-diet, or I-lost-my-pet kinds of sad; although I am in no way trivializing these things.  These will absolutely – and understandably so – make anyone sad; and sometimes any number of these sad things can turn into a depression, although often they can be talked out with a friend or a therapist who give you some comfort and a new perspective, and with some time, some self-care – and maybe some chocolate – your world is right way up again.  However sad and painful these things can be when they happen, that’s not the kind of depression I am talking about.

No.  I am talking about the all-singing, all-dancing, my-brain-is-trying-to-kill-me-for-absolutely-no-reason, all-encompassing, my-life-is-glorious-but-I-still-want-to-go-to-sleep-and-not-wake-up kind of depression.  The kind of depression that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The kind that has you feeling more completely out of control than you ever thought possible; and that you feel powerless to stop.  Your brain has staged a mutiny, and there’s just a tiny corner of your conscience left, desperately trying to scream, “HELP!!!”

The kind of depression that makes you ask, “Is it time for bed, yet?” every 7 minutes.  The kind of depression that compels you to want to eat every tube of Pringles, every plate of pasta, every cupcake, and every other edible thing made of grains, potatoes and / or sugar within a one hundred mile radius, and preferably in the next hour.  The kind of depression that makes you need a nap when you’ve only been up for 3 hours, having been asleep for the previous 12.  The kind of depression that causes a highly organized and extremely effective person to take 6 days to wash the dishes,  two weeks to walk across the street to post a letter, and six weeks to prune the wisteria.  The kind of depression that makes you feel like an Olympic Gold Medalist for mustering up enough energy to go into the garage and get a new bottle of dishwashing liquid.  The kind of depression that is able to convince you that you are worthless, and alone, and unlovable, while people around you in real life are telling you the exact opposite.  The kind of depression that causes emotional anguish, endless pain, and relentlessly tortures your soul.  The kind of depression that turns every single thought that comes into your brain into mush, and then pushes it around your head as garbage.  The kind of depression that rolls on in despite you having a full, and brilliant, and splendidly happy life.  And it does this day after day after day; week after week.


Yes.  That kind of depression. New Orleans | Carrie Brown

If you’ve never had your brain stage an all-out mutiny, I do not recommend it.  It feels like you stepped on the top of a water slide and lost your footing, and there is nothing you can do to stop yourself from entering the downward, spiralling vortex of rushing water forcing you closer and closer to the pool of water at the bottom – where you will surely drown – and at breakneck speed.  One day you wake up and everything is blackness.  It almost takes an act of God to get you out of bed in the morning, when you usually leap out to greet the world at 4 am, grinning from ear to ear.  Now nothing brings a smile to your face – unless you force it.  Nothing interests you – even those things that you were driven and passionate about up until yesterday.  Everything is hard.  REALLY hard.  Trying to wade in quicksand hard.  Your body feels like it has weights tied all over it that you have to drag around with you.  Your concentration has gone to pot.  Your ability to think has left the building.  You feel numb.  You go through the motions, living on auto-pilot, desperately hoping that no one will notice.  It’s crippling, exhausting, mind-numbing.  When even the simplest of things take the most phenomenal amount of effort.  When you don’t even have enough energy left to prise your eyes open. Do you know what it’s like to have the best life ever and yet spend every waking moment with your brain trying to sabotage your very existence?  It’s simply awful.

When depression moves in, it’s there for the long haul.  And it can be fatal.  If you’ve never had depression, let me explain.  You can get to the point where you think you have literally lost your mind.  You feel totally out of control of your own life.  Your logic is telling you one thing while the rest of your brain is merrily running off in the other direction, causing chaos with your emotions and thinking processes.  And it is crazy-making.  The immense amount of stress that this disconnect causes is enough to make you actually go crazy.  And you can get to the point where you just want life to be done.  Permanently.  I know this.  Intimately.

New Orleans | Carrie Brown

It’s been 8 years since my brain staged a mutiny.  That year-long adventure involved 5 different anti-depressants (none of which worked and all of which produced horrible side effects), a week asleep in the hospital – courtesy of a large quantity of Xanax, two pairs of handcuffs, 30lb of weight-loss (in 2 weeks), 24*7 panic attacks for 6 weeks, insomnia so bad even double-dose Ambian had zero effect, several trips in police cars, a padded room, more than a couple of pieces of damaged furniture, an inordinate number of medical personnel, a bloody nose, more shrinks than one girl should ever have the pleasure of meeting, and hundreds of hours of endlessly talking about it all.  AND I STILL CAN’T TELL YOU WHY IT HAPPENED.

I remember once going to dinner with friends at their home on the lake.  It was the most beautiful summer evening you can imagine, and they decided it would be lovely to have the appetizers out in the middle of the lake on their boat.  They took me on a tour of the lake first.  It was stunning.  Life doesn’t get much better than that moment.  And yet, the entire time my brain was whispering, “Look!  The water is just there.  One quick hop and you’d be over the side and it would be done.  It would be so easy.  Go on!  Just do it! A quick flip and you’d be outta here.  It would be so blissful sliding down to the bottom of the lake and never feeling anything ever again.  Go on.  Go!”

I remember a time when every single second that my brain was not actively preoccupied with work, it was actively trying to kill me.  Every. Single. Second.  And that is entirely exhausting.  In a matter of days I became completely overwhelmed with the amount of energy required – every hour – just to keep myself alive.  But I still had to go to work and perform like a sea-lion at Sea World.  And I still had to pay the mortgage, and manage life – plus all that goes with that – and keep everything running, and keep everyone else around me happy; all while my brain was loudly plotting my demise.

I’d *much* rather be caught in a blizzard, alone, at 5 am on a black winter’s morning, in a remote part of Northern New Mexico, on top of a 11,500 ft high mountain road buried in 3 feet of snow, with nothing but sheer drops either side, than deal with depression.  I only had to face dying on that mountain for 6 hours before somehow – although don’t ask me how – I managed to drive myself off that thing, and without plummeting 11,000 feet off the side. I’d choose to do that drive every single day over depression. New Orleans | Carrie Brown

I like to call this kind of depression diabetes of the brain, because like diabetes, it’s not something you can talk your way out of, forget about, snap out of, or just decide not to have.  It can descend like a tsunami out of nowhere – only without the warning sirens that it is approaching – slamming onto the beach of your life and destroying everything in its path; and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.  Moreover, it makes no sense, and that is wildly frustrating – because it’s hard to fix something you can make no sense of.  It can seem utterly hopeless.  Why even try?  Why even fight it?  It feels like it’s never going to change, and you’re too exhausted to carry on.  But you summon every last ounce and on you plod, heroically dragging one foot in front of the other, just trying to stay alive until it blows over – or you die.

And the world does not help much.  Depression is simply not viewed like any other illness.  It’s not OK to be depressed; and somehow it’s seen as self-indulgent and selfish; something that you choose and then consciously continue.  Hello.

Most people don’t understand it, and they certainly don’t know how to deal with people who have it.  Don’t misunderstand me – this is not a criticism, it’s an observation.  If people were able to view depression like diabetes, it would be life-changing for the sufferer.  Instead, the police treat you as a threat to society, and without a shred of dignity; medical staff often treat you with contempt, and as an inconvenience; friends generally don’t know how on earth to treat you – with the best of intentions and in trying to help they say things that make you feel worse, or they avoid you, or they try to take control of your life for you.  Depression and suicide scare them.  And through it all, no one asks how you feel, or tries to understand what it is like for you.  There is usually very little, if any, compassion.  No one understands how painstaking difficult everything is.  No one pats you on the back just for getting out of bed, which can be the hardest thing in the world when you’re in the depths of depression.  And all of this just makes you feel even worse – if that is even possible.  It’s beyond miserable.  If you’ve been there or are there now – I salute you.  You are the very toughest and bravest of people.  Hang in there.  You are SO worth it, even though I know right now that you just don’t care, and you certainly don’t believe me.  What you believe doesn’t change the truth. New Orleans  |  Carrie Brown

Last time my brain was trying to kill me, in an effort to make sense of it all, I noticed some things that are directly related to 2 of our favorite topics: food and hormones.  And here’s where I hope this post will all start to make sense.

I started to understand, from reading “Potatoes not Prozac”  by Kathleen DesMaisons, that the same brain chemicals altered by antidepressant drugs are also affected by the foods we eat.  I learned that addictive behavior has a lot to do with food, and that sugar was the primary culprit.  Sugar raises your serotonin and beta-endorphin levels, which make you feel better and more energetic, especially if your levels were low to start with. Unfortunately, eating concentrated sugars or refined carbohydrates causes a rebound effect. Your sugar levels drop quickly, you feel worse than before, and you need more sugar to get stable again.  Soon you’re addicted.  You feel alternately fabulous and awful. The sugar swings stress your adrenal glands. You blame yourself for being out of control and unfocused, and for putting on weight, but actually it’s the sugar. It’s a physical problem.  Now I don’t know whether the sugars and starches cause the depression, or whether the depression causes us to crave the sugars and starches; but what I do know is that once the vicious cycle starts it becomes increasingly difficult to break.  Recognizing that faulty biochemistry has a huge role in depression changes everything.  It’s not your fault!

If you’ve been checking out The Smarter Science of Slim for any length of time you’ll know that hormones are what regulate our bodies.  If your hormones are all working properly, your body functions and regulates itself the way it should, and life is good;  but if your hormones are out of whack, everything can go haywire – including your brain.  Fix the hormones and the body will take care of itself.  It’s not your fault! New Orleans  |  Carrie Brown

It makes sense to me that if we can get the food and the hormones sorted out we have a much better chance of a) surviving it, and b) restoring chemical balance.  What if your depression turned out to be all food and / or chemical related, and you could manage it by what you did or did not consume?  There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the links between depression and food and brain chemicals.  That there is a correlation is not in question.

Now, there may be other factors at play in causing depression – genes, environment, traumas, distressing events, illness, injury – but whatever the initial cause may be, the stress causes our bodies to react chemically in an attempt to protect it.  Stress hormones start pumping around your body, and if there are enough of them, or the body cannot deal with them effectively, they can cause an imbalance.  Then your brain no longer functions correctly, and it is now out of your control.  You cannot think or talk your way out of a chemical imbalance.  Just the same way as you cannot think or talk your way out of diabetes.  You need to get the chemicals back to working properly.

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat your depression.  I am simply sharing my story and the strategies I have successfully used to keep mine in check.  These tips are for you to consider trying to see if they have a similar positive result for you.  Many, many of you have asked me to write about emotional eating, and while this is at the very end of that spectrum, I hope that even one of you finds this helpful in some small way.  New Orleans  |  Carrie Brown


Here are my tips for staying SANE when your brain is trying to kill you:

  • Consider supplementing with a large dose of vitamin B3 in the form of sustained release niacin every day.  This has helped me more than anything else in my fight against depression, and I continue to take this supplement every day.  Most doctors do not have any working knowledge of this therapy and may dissuade you from doing this.  WATCH THIS VIDEO.  And then read the info on the same page.  Also read here, and here, and here, and then decide for yourself whether you should give it a try.  Since vitamin B3 is water-soluble, any excess is flushed from your body on a daily basis.  If you decide you want to try this, please follow the instructions on the page with the video, as dosage varies for each person.  They outline a method for finding the right dose for you.
  • STOP DRINKING ALL DIET SODA IMMEDIATELY, and do not consume anything that contains aspartame (also marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure).  If you want to know why, type “aspartame poisoning” into a browser and see what you get.  Or click here.  Aspartame messes with your brain in a big way.  If you are addicted to diet soda, giving it up may be extremely difficult, and in the midst of depression seem impossible.  Depression can make cravings completely unbearable.  Do whatever you can to get rid of all aspartame in your diet.  It is not helping you, and may well be exacerbating your depression.  It may even be the cause.
  • DO NOT EAT SUGAR of any kind.  Even if you have been eating a SANE diet for while, you may find it extremely difficult to not eat sugar when you’re in the grips of depression.  Depression makes my sugar and starch cravings go into a compulsive overdrive that I find almost impossible to ignore.  I am not sure if it’s my brain desperately trying to get itself in balance, or if it’s another tactic it’s using to try to kill me.  Whatever the reason, sugar does not help – and long-term it makes things worse.
  • Eat as few starchy foods as you can get by with and still keep your brain “happy”.  Of course, “happy” is a relative term here.  See last point about sugar.  If you are compelled to eat starch (pasta, bread, cakes, etc) eat potatoes instead.  At least they’re a vegetable, albeit a starchy one.  Potatoes are infinitely better than any sugars and processed grains and refined starches.
  • Do not drink alcohol.  It messes with your brain and you don’t need anything else messin’ with it right now.
  • Resist the cravings.  Give it your all.  The cravings may be so strong that you feel like you’re on the brink of losing your mind – so try to remember in the moment that caving to the cravings will likely prolong your agony.  Having said that, if the choice is between a bottle full of painkillers and a candy bar, eat the candy bar.  If you can find an alternative that tides you over without eating either, so much the better.  Bake a potato, or eat some strawberries.
  • Remember that eating to keep yourself alive (if your depression has reached suicidal proportions) is more important than eating for fat-loss right now.  Do not beat yourself up if you eat something *inSANE to comfort your brain.  Heaven knows your brain needs some comfort.  However, eating SANE is one of your biggest supporters to beating the depression, so do whatever you can to keep sugar and starch intake as low as possible.  Read this and this for some strategies to help make it easier.  I realize this involves a lot of “doing”, and that “doing” can be staggeringly hard when your brain is trying to kill you.  Do what you can.  Every little step helps.
  • Eat regularly.  This is super important, even though it may be super hard to do.  Depression can switch off hunger signals, and cause you to lose interest in foods the way you have lost interest in everything else.  Going without food will affect your brain functioning, and not in a good way.  Force yourself to eat at regular intervals – do whatever you can make work – be that 3 big meals a day or 16 tiny meals a day.  Just keep good food going into your body on a regular basis.
  • Make protein the focus of your food intake at every meal or snack.  Protein, protein, protein.  Don’t worry about balanced meals until your depression has passed.  If you can make a balanced (protein / healthy fat / non-starchy veggies) meal happen – great!  If not, eat protein.  This should help with the cravings for sugar and starches as well, and goodness knows depression is easier even if you can just get rid of the cravings.
  • Enlist some help.  Find a couple of people who you trust and who are not freaked out by depression or suicide.  People who will just support you without trying to control you.  People who will just come over and sit with you without pressuring you to have to do anything.  People who don’t need to know all the gory details to be there for you.  People who trust that you are asking for help for good reason and don’t need any more of an explanation.  People who will go to the store and buy you some instant protein (cooked meats, non-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, etc) to fill your ‘fridge with, when leaving the house is more than you can do right now.  Someone who will run the vacuum around and wash some dishes when you can’t, so that you don’t become {even more} overwhelmed by your environment becoming chaotic.
  • Cross everyone who says, “Snap out of it!” off your Holiday Card list.  Permanently.  If you could snap out of it and end the nightmare you would, and being told to do that when you are in crisis with something you cannot control, is insulting and obnoxious.  AND IT DOESN’T HELP.  At all.
  • Do not feel failed if you end up eating some *inSANE foods.  Survival first, then fat-loss.  Feeling failed and beating yourself up will not help you.  Progress, not perfection.
  • Do your eccentric exercises if you can possibly summon up the energy and enthusiasm.  Do one set if that’s all you can do, and give yourself a huge cheer afterwards.
  • Find a great therapist if you don’t already have one.  Find a psychiatrist if you need medication.  A diabetic needs medication to function properly – so might you.  It’s no different.
  • Take naps when you need one.  Get a good night’s sleep every night.  Lack of sleep can make you crazy.
  • Do not feel guilty for saying no to others while you take care of yourself.  You can get back to helping everyone else when you’re well.  Anyone who cannot accept this is not your friend.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself.  Do things that normally make you happy, as often as you can.  Take some time off work if you can.  Do not pressure yourself when you don’t have the capacity to do what you normally do.  Congratulate yourself for every little thing you are able to do.  Keep your brain occupied.  Get out of the house.  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Lie in the grass in the sunshine with a favorite person or pet.  Go for a walk.  Sit and listen to uplifting music.  Don’t beat yourself up when you’re doing your best for right now, even though that may be a long way from your best under normal circumstances.
  • Hang out with people who love you, people who are positive and uplifting, and people who don’t demand anything from you.  Keep away from people who are negative, accusatory, unsupportive, or demand you do things you simply don’t have the capacity for right now.
  • Remember depression is not your fault.  It’s an illness like diabetes.  Whatever caused it, there is now an imbalance that you cannot control.  Give yourself a {huge} break.  Cheer every morning that you woke up alive – again.
  • Hang in there.  You’re worth it.  You can do this!




*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 - I just had to go and get a box of tissues! I am going to copy some of your explanation and show it to my husband to help him understand how depression impacts me because you have articulated what I have been trying to find a way to explain for a long time.

    Had bad patch for last few weeks so SANEity out the window, but had to accept that. Trying now to have one sane meal a day, and build up to two next week, or when my mind will enable me to manage that. Better than none!!

    Agree that food and hormones play a large part in recovery – so frustrating that the very things that will make you better are the things that are most difficult to do.

    One step at a time….

    Thanks for the post, the tips and the understanding.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Thank you for sharing your story.

    I just wanted to point out that Splenda contains sucralose, not aspartame. It is still an artificial sweetener of course.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Lisa – you are right, my mistake. I have corrected. THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer H - Wow. Thank you for sharing, Carrie. You are an amazing lady, and even more so for reaching out to help others.ReplyCancel

  • Claire Lucas - Thank you, thank you, thank you Carrie for talking about a subject that seems so taboo. I have suffered for years and feel so frustrated with the lack of understanding and compassion. Day to day life is a struggle, and certainly exhausting, as is the mask you need to wear to get by.

    At least we know we can make some difference by eating good quality, SANE food.ReplyCancel

  • Lind - Thank you,Carrie. Your sharing this part of you life will help many,many suffering folks out here in the world. The book “Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic” talks about the link between diet and mental health and the fact that niacin supplementation has been helpful to many people. I have seen it work well for a loved one. Please know that you have a growing fan club out here in cyber space and we are so appreciative of what you do for us.ReplyCancel

  • Tam - I have experienced depression in the past – you are right – it is beyond horrible. Just today I started considering that I might be starting to experience some of the same symptoms again. I think it is no accident that this post should be in my email today. Thank you for the insight and encouragement. I feel even more compelled to eat sanely and will be purchasing a good vitamin B tomorrow! Keep all the great stuff coming :)ReplyCancel

  • Art - The people who say, “Snap out of it!” That’s the part of your story that hit me in the gut. I don’t see those people anymore. Which means, even on good days, there’s the guilt of that too. Ah well, what can you do? Some people just aren’t good for us. Families can be tricky. Of course, I only ran into a few cops… once. Mostly, I just sat in the dark researching peaceful ways out… on the internet… for some 3 or 4 years. But there are no peaceful ways out; and I’d probably screw it all up and make things worse anyhow. Instead, I’ve lowered the bar for life. Things don’t have to be nearly so perfect anymore; me included. Most of all, I remember how much I would hurt the one I love the most; by, you know, finding a way out. The darkness will make you think you’re all alone even when you live with someone. The darkness is good at that. So I tried hard to remember that I wasn’t. I guess your story made me feel not so all alone also. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • carrie - Thank you all so much for your lovely comments. It warms my heart to hear you finding my ramblings useful or comforting. I have wanted to write this for a while, and scary though it was, I am so glad I finally pushed “publish”!ReplyCancel

  • Gracy - I’ve been thinking a very long time about commenting on the recipes or pictures that I have enjoyed on this website…just sort of been watching from the sidelines, so to say. I’ve had my experience with depression. Since I’ve been four years old…It comes and goes and I can only say to anyone out there who’s thinking about jumping off a cliff, think twice.. Wait till tomorrow. if you still feel like life isn’t worth it, you can always end it all tomorrow..Whats the rush ? Bake some of Carries Muffins… Invite someone to try them. You’ll be surprised how good you feel when you help someone else !! And feeding someone Carries goodies is one of the best things you can do for anyone. And although , a year ago , I would have willingly kissed any tree the threw itself in my path, today, I’m glad that no tree did. Each and every time I resisted taking my own life, I have been rewarded , sooner or later, with an experience I would not have wanted to miss…
    SO !!! now I have a question or two…
    Born in the USA, (and having lived in Seattle) but now finding myself in Germany ( 26 years) and very much wishing to follow the SANE plan, I am very much in need of instruction. Most of the products needed, I can find in internet…VERY EXPENSIVE. All of these sugar substitutes.. Xantam gum…Xylitol etc. Would it be possible to explain their properties, in baking, so I can use a (possible) substitution ? That I have a hard time finding Chia Seeds, I use Linenseeds. Can I use them, ground, as a thickner as well. ( for example in your strawberry jam recipe )
    Thanks I’m sure you country, new ingredients :))ReplyCancel

  • AlpacaMama - Dear Carrie, I’m one of those perky Pollyannas who has never had to suffer depression–yet. This post was immensely helpful to me for the insight you shared and especially the “what not to dos.” Just as well meaning people can say stupid things when someone dies, so too can well meaning people say stupid things when they don’t know any better. I thank you for the kind words of instruction and warning: most of us stupid people want to be helpful, and you’ve made that easier for us. I love you and your recipes.ReplyCancel

  • Fi - Hi Carrie. Just found this post, it speaks to me. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!! I too have been in that dark place, and my depression led me to the brink of dying from organs failing due to severe anorexia. Fortunately, I was pulled through by great hospital and family, but still struggle with restricting then bingeing TI this day ;13 years on. However, I am trying to live more SANEly, and that’s going to be a challenge but I’ll keep trying! I’m depressed again right now, -had baby by IVF cos anorexia left me infertile, then 3 months after having my beautiful girl, my husband left me and her. Now I’ve moved to be nearer family, single working mum, and every day at work feels just too much to cope with. And cooking and cleaning I do because I need to for my daughter, but it takes everything I have. SANEity is something I hope will help me, at least to stop those sugar binges!! Keep up the great work Carrie! XReplyCancel

    • carrie - You’ve got this, Fi. Don’t give up – you’re worth way too much. HUGS.ReplyCancel

  • Shannon - Carrie, your words make me cry. Because i KNOW those feelings, and was on the brink of suicide when, 8 years ago this month, my hairdresser recognized the symptoms, started asking questions, picked up the phone and told me “You make the call or i am going to” She saved my life!

    Shortly after getting help and starting on meds, my best friend at the time -who was supposed to know me better than anyone and was aware that i was finally getting help- told me that i was a bitch, that i was a bitch all the time and that everyone thought of me like that…. This only made the depression spiral out of control, as we had the same group of friends and with her statement i knew that she had been talking about me behind my back with everyone else whom i had called a friend.

    Maybe i was a bitch, but you take someone who has struggled with suicidal depression from the age of 10, couple that with a life-long weight problem with my peers calling me “Santa Claus” all through my schooling years, move her 1500 miles from home to the frozen tundra called North Dakota, and it was all i could do to hold on.

    Just recently i came across another podcast called “Holy Hormones Honey!” and with the help of TrueHope and Empower Plus, i am medication free, for the first time in 8 years! i have been on many different brands of anti-depressant with mostly unimpressive results, and those who know my story can’t believe that it’s November (worst month of the year for me) and that i am still smiling and getting out of the house occasionally. :)

    Depression is a huge issue for many of us out here, so thank you for sharing! And please, keep sharing! This is as much an issue for SANEity as food!

    i love you on the podcast, and you are the reason i kept listening after those first few episodes. i would laugh and tell my hubby about your hilarious antics and way cool British accent! You are bright and wonderfully endearing and The Bailinator is very lucky to have you share his airwaves!!!


  • Kimberly McDaniel - First time reading your post……will not be the last. More than once I have considered turning the steering wheel to hit an interstate bridge, but fear of “not dying, just being REALLY messed up” has stopped me. Think it is time to get back on the Zoloft and look into your eating plan, as i went on a chip and chocolate binge yesterday. Well, really it was all week.
    Thanks for this timely post, KimReplyCancel

  • It Can Be One Hell Of A Struggle » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] garage door to stop me locking him out and giving myself the opportunity to do something terrible, my brain had been doing this, relentlessly, for a considerable time.  My brain has stopped that now, but there’s been […]ReplyCancel

  • CP13 - I love your gut wrenching honesty. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • masha - Thank you so much for the tips and sharing your feelings. I could relate to every single paragraph, except the police part – I haven’t experienced that (yet). :)ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - I hate how much I relate to this post, and love you for posting it. If only the whole world could be so honest, both with themselves and each other. I love your eloquence. Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Lynne - Hello; I’m not sure how old this post is, but I’m grateful I stumbled upon it. You have described my experiences to a tee. I hadn’t thought of it as depression. The struggle you describe – getting out of bed etc, yes, I see that as depression. Then the sugar craving kicks in and it’s then like cohabiting with a stressed out, jangly, anxiety ridden me. But I never saw that as depression; just me being out of control, a failure – all the judgements you listed. It’s like the sugar kicks me out of depressed state which I know I’m in but I don’t always know I’m on a sugar fix. I am actively going to write a care plan for myself for the next time. And I love sugar. I love it. But now I understand how it affects my brain. Thank you for your article and the courage it took to write it. Sending gratitude and admiration for your commitment to yourself and to waking me up xxxReplyCancel

A couple weeks back when I was dabbling in the kitchen with cupcakes, one of you lovely readers asked me for *SANE Strawberry Jam.  I don’t know about you, but I love a spot of strawberry jam on a fresh, home-baked scone with a large dollop of clotted cream.  LOVE.  I grew up on those things.  We definitely know how to do scones in England.

Scones with strawberry jam and cream make me think of summer, and long grass, and pretty Royal Doulton china, and sunshine, and cute wooden chairs with fat cushions sprawled on the lawn.  They make me think of the city of Bath, and my friend Lou, and that time we had a cream tea and ended up with more clotted cream on our faces than there was left on the scones.  I wish I could find the picture for you – it epitomizes joy.  We laughed so hard that day, and I will never forget those wonderful jammy, creamy scones that we scoffed down.  It’s amazing how powerful food can be on our brains – that joyous moment was a quarter of a century ago (wait…what??!!!) and yet the taste of strawberry jam takes me right back there in a heartbeat.  I can feel the warm sunshine beaming down on us.  I can smell the grass as we lolled on big, fat colorful cushions anchored to old, wobbly wooden chairs.  I can hear Lou’s delicious giggle when the decadent treat smeared the tip of her nose as she bit into the soft, buttery scone covered with lashings of fresh strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Carrie Brown  |  SANE Strawberry Jam

I suppose I am doing this all backwards.  I should really do the scones first, and then make you some strawberry jam to go on them.  But here, have the strawberry jam first.  It’ll keep.

Just remember, although this is *SANE (aka has no starch or sugar in), we still shouldn’t go mad with it.  Although I used chia seeds as the thickener to give you an extra little dose of those beloved omega-3 fats, and xylitol to sweeten, there is not a lot of protein or fiber going on here.  Spread it on *SANE scones or bread (coming soon!) or stir it into non-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.  Make it in the summer when the strawberries are fresh, plentiful, and cheap; and then eat it whenever you want to transport yourself back to your favorite strawberry-jam-moment.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry Jam
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 lb / 450g fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup / 2 fl oz. water
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 oz / 170g xylitol
  • 1 oz / 28g chia seeds
  1. Place chopped strawberries, water and lemon juice in a pan over medium heat and cook for 20 minutes until the strawberries are completely soft.
  2. Grind the xylitol and chia seeds in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder until very fine.
  3. Add the ground xylitol and chia seeds in to the strawberries and stir well until completely mixed.
  4. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until the jam is thickened.
  5. Remove from the heat and transfer into a jar of glass dish to cool.
  6. Once cold, put the lid on and store in the 'fridge.

Carrie Brown | SANE Strawberry Jam





*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!
  • Matilda - It’s funny that you posted this cause I was just thinking of jam. I shall try this when I get back home from my weekend away,
    I did make stewed peaches (with only 2 tsp of xylitol), and they smell and taste devine.
    Now to get me some strawberries.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Oooooh, Matilda – stewed peaches sound fabulous! Enjoy the jam :-)ReplyCancel

  • Diane - Can this be frozen? Strawberry season is coming up, and I’d love to make a bunch and freeze in small portions. Thanks for sharing all of these great recipes!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Yes, Diane you can freeze this. I keep mine in the ‘frdige, and also good to note that xylitol is brilliant at inhibiting mould growth, so this will last longer than regular jam made with sugar anyway.ReplyCancel

  • Scott - Hi Carrie – This recipe is awesome, thanks! Do you think it would work with Raspberries and Blueberries as well? I’m just wondering if the amounts of Xlyitol,Chia seeds etc. would stay the same or if I would need to tinker with those based on the fruit used.


    • carrie - Hi Scott – I have a plan to tinker this for other fruits. I suspect it will not work exactly the same for the other berries. Thanks for the strawberry jam love :-DReplyCancel

  • Blueberry Cheesecake Scones » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] you eat your SANE Blueberry Cheesecake Scones?).  Eat them slathered with butter.  Pile on some SANE jam and whipped coconut cream.  Or eat them my favorite way – with SANE Lemon Curd.  However […]ReplyCancel

  • Mendi - I’m looking forward to trying this jam. In my ramblings in the woods, I have run across 2 wild peach trees and would like to tinker with using those to make a jam. Do you think it would work to use the same gelatin as you use in your Chocolate Orange Truffles recipe to make a SANE jam, possibly instead of the chia seeds, as I would assume the texture of even ground chia seeds may not work as well with a fruit other than berries?ReplyCancel