Five Lessons Learned from My Mom’s Battle with Pancreatic Cancer


One year ago, in late September, just as I had finally gotten a pattern down of how the school year was going to look in 2020, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This past year has been the hardest year of my life.  The journey has taught me many lessons, but these are the five that stand out to me as important as I reflect on her disease progression and, consequently, her passing in early May.

Lesson One: Pancreatic Cancer is a Nightmare

I'll never forget it.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  I was heading home with my kiddos in the car, and the phone rang.  It was a strange day for mom to call, because we usually spoke on Sundays.  I answered it in a chipper tone, because it was a pleasant surprise for her to call.  Mom was on my vehicle's speaker phone, so the whole car could hear.  She told me that she was in the hospital.  She didn't want me to worry.  She asked me if I remembered her stomach pain.  I had.  She had told me that she had been dealing with a stomach bug (which, of course, we decided was COVID-19, as all ailments were dubbed in 2020) a while back, but she stopped complaining about it, so I thought it had passed.

Apparently, it hadn't passed and the pain had gotten so intense, mom had thought she had a hernia.  She couldn't take it anymore, so she went to the emergency room early that morning.  The staff at the hospital was quick to try to send her home labelling her as a grumpy senior, but she held her ground.  She told them that she was a retired nurse, and she needed some imaging done on her abdomen.  After waiting for hours, due to COVID testing, and a packed ER, they finally admitted her and took some pictures.  She had a mass.

A mass?  "What's was a mass, mom?"  What did that mean?

She responded that they did not know yet, but she immediately knew it was pancreatic cancer.  She told me so.  She said, "Gretch, you know it's a killer.  People don't live through pancreatic cancer."

I was dumbfounded.  First, my kids just heard all of this, and I wasn't sure whether I needed to take her off speakerphone or just leave it on.  Surely, there were long conversations ahead of me to help do some damage control there.  Since they already knew, I let them continue to listen.

I consoled her and said, "Just wait until you know for sure, mom."  Maybe it was a mistake.  Maybe the mass wasn't cancerous, but something else weird that neither of use knew about.  Maybe there were things that could be done to help her.  Honestly, I had no idea how bad pancreatic cancer was until I lived through this last year.  I told mom not to worry and to just let the doctors do their jobs.


The problem is: pancreatic cancer is so aggressive that the doctors don't have a lot of options for diagnosed people.  At the time, I had no idea about pancreatic cancer.  I didn't even know what color the ribbon was.  (FYI: it's purple; ironically, my favorite color. ...I am rethinking that now though...) Heck, I had no clue where it was located in the body.  Every time, I, personally, had a pain last year I'd say, "is this where my pancreas is?"  Thankfully, every time the answer was no, but still.  I'm kinda wishy washy as to where exactly this thing is located in my own body.  (If you are having abdominal pain, check out this article from John's Hopkins that may help you locate your own pancreas.)


The options given to my mother were:

  • She could have a Whipple procedure done.  According to The University of Chicago Medicine, this is a major 6-hour surgery that takes from two to six months to recover.  Furthermore, a study done by University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust identifies that about 75% of pancreatic cancer patients who have a Whipple procedure done will have a cancer reoccurrence, or
  • She could have aggressive chemotherapy and be even more sick for the rest of her life.

Mom was not going to be convinced to have the Whipple surgery done.  At 74, she was already stricken with a weakened immune system from COPD and something called NTM (Nontuberculous Mycobacterial) condition.  (I know, quite strange for a woman who didn't smoke.  Actually, in 2019, mom had confided in me that she thought her COPD diagnosis had to do with a chemical they used to use in the Operating Rooms many years ago to sterilize the air.)

Due to her health status, she felt fairly confident that her body would not have made it through the surgery.  Looking back at it, she was probably right.

After going back and forth for second opinions, getting every scope you can imagine, having a metal stent put into her pancreas, and hearing her options,  mom opted for chemotherapy.

As terrible and disgusting as you imagine it was, it was way worse.  She was not only viciously sick; she was heartbroken.  The diagnosis had devastated her, and the therapy only shone a spotlight on what the end of the road looked like.

Mom got so violently ill after just a couple of treatments and felt so wretched that she landed herself in the hospital in the beginning of December.  And, yes, COVID had it's part to play.  After not seeing mom, since the year before for Thanksgiving, I rushed down to Florida on an empty plane in the middle of the night.  When I arrived, I was not allowed to see her in the hospital, because no one was.  She was locked up mistakenly in a COVID unit.  (By the grace of God, she did not end up getting COVID in there.)

While I was in Florida, mom opted for hospice care.  And thankfully, she was quickly transferred to a Hospice House, where I WAS able to visit her in person.  She looked like a skeleton of herself.  She was so tiny and in an incredible amount of pain.  She kept telling me how weak she was, but I countered and told her how amazingly strong she had been through everything.

I don't think most people get the chance to choose how they die, right?  For most of us the decision comes so quickly that, it just kinda happens.  To this day, I am still in awe of how definitively she knew how she didn't want things to end.

Nevertheless, watching a loved one tortured by it was the worst nightmare I've ever experienced.  Pancreatic cancer is quick and relentless.  That was the first lesson I learned this past year.

Lesson Two: Speak Your Truth

If you've ever walked into a situation where a loved one is near the end of their life, you will know that time slows down around this person.  It is a strange sensation, but it has happened every time I've been close to losing a family member.  (I've never wanted or intended it to slow down, but it always does.  It feels like the answers are never quick enough, the car never drives fast enough; it's just all quite slow.)

Because of this slowness, it might feel like we have more time.  (It's what we crave, right?)  But the reality is too short to wait for the perfect opportunity to tell people you love them.

The irony is that the deaths of my stepfather in 1998, and my brother in 2002, prepared me for this time.  Like have training wheels on my bike, I was confident that I would find my way through this, although it was a little rocky at times.

During my first visit down to Florida in December, I told my mom how much I loved her.  We talked about what she needed from me at the end.  We made plans; we laughed; and we cried a lot.  We didn't leave much on the table; and I left confident that she knew how much I loved her and appreciated her.

(((Side note:  If you are going through a similar situation, I implore you to speak your truth out loud.  Don't assume the person knows; don't leave it for another day.  Say it.  If it's upsetting, so be it.  At least, you won't regret not having shown your hand when you no longer have the ability to do so.)))

Out of everything that happened, those moments were so important for our relationship and for what occurred in the coming months.  Having the courage to speak your truth, is a lesson that I will never forget.

Lesson Three: Transfer the Power

Not everything that has to do with end-of-life situations is about emotions.  Some of it is about managing your loved one's care in the best way possible.  That may include convincing your mom (or other loved one) that it is time to let go of some mundane things like paying bills and dealing with household management.

Thankfully, her story didn't end in December; she was given some renewed life by the wonderful people at Hospice.  She did so well recovering from her issues with chemotherapy that she was able to go home and live there until a week prior to her passing.

When I arrived in Florida in December 2020, I was surprised at how I found my mom's living situation.  Armed with the knowledge that she was going to be transferred home, I went to my mother's house to make sure it was set up in such a way that she would be able to manage things.  When I really looked around, it seemed like her house was falling down around her.

This was a shock to me, because my mom would never let a towel be out of place, nevermind let things get unsafe in her home.  At the time, there was not a good way in or out of her home.  Living on the coast in Florida, she had an elevator to get to the first living floor.  It was constantly giving her problems.  The deck stairs to the back door were shaky.  There was storm debris all over the perimeter of the yard.  The locks didn't work right.  There was a hole in the skylight in her upstairs bathroom.  The list went on.

Although my mother's boyfriend lived with her, apparently, neither of them saw these things.  Maybe they were so focused on her sickness that nothing else was getting done.  Plainly, it was shocking to me.  I had been so focused on her care that I didn't even think that the picture was so much bigger than I had originally thought.

This is where I got it wrong.  I did what I could.  I replaced the locks.  Thankfully, mom had elevator people come and replaced her whole unit, so it would be safe.  I cleaned up the debris outside.  When she got home, she got someone in to fix the whole in the skylight upstairs.  But it wasn't enough.

This was the moment I should've put my foot down and told my mom it was time to transfer those things over to me.  I asked her gently, but I should've been more bold.  If I had, I think I could've save her from some anguish in her final days.

And to be honest, I can't blame her for not wanting to transfer things over.  For not wanting to admit there would be a time, when she was no longer capable of doing it all.  I cannot blame her one bit.  I just wish that she could've trusted that I would have paid her bills and kept everything going fine, without her having to worry about money all the way through her last chapter.

It's a lesson that I learned the hard way.  Transfer the power, the bills, the whatever, before it is taken from you.  Trust in your loved ones.


Lesson Four: Every Day is a Gift

To say we're all on borrowed time is a harsh reality, but it is so true.  Those of us to feel the sting of a recent loved one's passing know all too well how very limited and precious our time is here on Earth.

Mom lived in her house for five months after my visit to see her in December.  At first, she was relieved to have opted for hospice.  Her doctor had prescribed a steroid that helped tremendously with her lethargy and, of course, pain killers.  Heck, I kept asking when medical marijuana card was arriving, so we could had a good belly laugh about everything, but it never arrived.  (I think mom was a little concerned about smoking something, which I can't blame her for. COPD might make you a little wary of smoke!)

After the flood gates opened in December and I told my mom how much I appreciated her and loved her, our candid conversations never stopped.  She shared with me how scared she was about the end.  I told her that I was scared too.

Prior to mom's diagnosis, I spoke to my mother once a week.  I know a lot of folks out there chat it up with their moms multiple times a day, but my mom never wanted nor needed that.  In fact, if I called too often, she would get bored with me and hang up after a few minutes. I'm not even kidding. 😂

After mom's diagnosis, we spoke almost daily.  Basically, we shot the shit.  After years that my chatter-box ways bored her, I think toward the end, she found them therapeutic.  I was helpful.  I was needed.  AND I was more than happy to oblige!

After months of "doing well," mom's disease progressed and so did her boyfriend's nudging her to fight it.  He had successfully convinced her to stop hospice and to go back on chemotherapy.  Again, she got through just two weeks of treatment and declined quickly.

On Easter Sunday, we spoke with clarity.  She was sad.  Easter had always been particularly hard for my mom, because she lost her dad just two days after Easter many years ago.

After that, it's all a blur of curt calls with her.  "Gretch, I'm fine.  They're adjusting my meds; I'll talk to you tomorrow." Day after day, until I finally touched base with her nurse (who mom asked me not to bother).  "Your mom is experiencing some pretty intense anxiety.  We'll try to treat it at home;" to "Your mom needs to go to the Hospice House for med adjustments;" to "It's time for you to come."

When I arrived in Florida, I spoke with my aunt.  Perhaps, spoke isn't the right word, maybe:  I "cried" to her is a better statement.  She reframed it all for me so beautifully that I will never forget what she said.  She told me that being where I was had to be one of the most difficult things I would ever go through, but that it was a gift.

She was right.  Here I was; I had gotten all of this time with my mother that I constantly craved.  I really had her.  For seven months, I had been able to have frank conversations with my mother, to be there for her when she needed me, and to absolutely know what her plans were for the final moments of her life.

My aunt had taught me the lesson that every day is a gift.



Lesson Five: Let Go with Love

Of course, as I move on to this final point, my eyes are full of tears.  Make no mistake that letting go doesn't mean that the pain is any less potent than if we refuse to.  Here's what letting go with love meant in my mother's situation, and how I could comply.

In our previous conversations, when she was lucid, she told me that when the time came:  to make it quick.  Don't resuscitate her.  Don't give her extra meds.  Just keep her comfortable and pain free.

As a nurse, my mother knew all too well what death looked like.  (BTW It's not pretty.)  But, intimately, she had seen her husband die and her son die.  She was tortured by those memories.  Machines, tubes, endless IV drips, they were all instruments meant to heal but also signs that death loomed near.

She wanted none of it.  Her rationale?  Why would she want to be resuscitated only to go through the process of dying once again?  Yup, I totally understood.  In fact, I told her over and over again, that it was HER STORY and she needed to do whatever made her feel comfortable.  Of course, I wanted more time.  Of course, her grandchildren wanted her around for another Christmas.

...And of course, we'd all survive.  We would honor her and love her until the end of time; I just didn't want her to suffer any more.

When I got to the hospice house, she looked even smaller than she had before.  She looked weaker than when I last saw her.  How was it even possible, that she could've still been there in the flesh?  She had lost her short term memory, due to the saturation of drugs in her system.  Her body had begun to shut down.  Thankfully, she knew who I was.

I sat with her for her final days.  I cleaned her up.  I told her stories.  I read her emails to her.  We listened to meditations.  At every turn, when there was a decision to be made, I made the one that would hasten the speed of the process.  I carried out her wishes, and then vomited when it was all done.

Wouldn't we just do anything for more time?  Making all those decisions was hard, because it went against what I have been programmed to do: to want more.  However, making the decisions were easy, because mom had been clear all along with how I should handle things.  So I did.

In the end, in her final moments, they played out the way mom wanted them to.  No machines, no tubes, no endless IV drips, just a peaceful room and a shit ton of morphine!  (You know I had to add a laugh in there too; mom would have liked that!)

And when someone dies, and they are given the choice to dictate how that story will go, give that dignity to them.  Let go of them the way they want.  I promise you, it will hurt.  It will hurt so badly that you cry at random times.  You will wish with every part of your body that they will pick up the phone, if you call them.  But it will never hurt the way that it would if you regretted the way you didn't do something they needed at the very end.

The last lesson I learned from my mom's battle with pancreatic cancer is to let go with love.  It was the hardest lesson of all, but perhaps maybe one of the most important.

One Mom’s Perspective on 2020

May 2020 Rest in Peace

All the Hope of a New Year…

While the most anticipated holiday of the year approaches, I find myself full of grief rather than the expected joy.  In an effort to properly walk through the process, I have been running over the events of the past year in my head, and I am paralyzed by the amount of pain, disappointment, and uncertainty caused by 2020, more specifically by COVID-19.  This year was no joke.

I can so clearly remember my family and I ringing in 2020, full of optimism, for a tide change from the recent years we had experienced.  In the early days of 2020, just on the heels of my oldest having a wonderful first year of football, my youngest found his love for basketball.  Nothing makes a mother’s heart swell like the contentment of her children.  The world seemed to be alright.

Goodbye, Sports!

Little did I know that neither football, nor basketball would be in their futures’ in 2020 and, most likely, 2021.  I know, sports are just sports and really nothing to lament about when there is so much more happening in the world.  Nevertheless, I do feel badly that they were lost in 2020.

Shortly after my youngest’s triumph in basketball, I found myself standing in front of my (first-year traditional college) students’ and daily easing their concerns about rumors of a virus that was creating increasing concerns on the other side of the world.  

In February, prior to all the birthday parades, my husband and oldest shared a miserable birthday week stricken by the “flu.”  Having heard the flu was worse this year than in the past, we self quarantined and had our groceries delivered.  I recall my child telling me that he was scared to fall asleep.  Once I fell ill, I could fully comprehend what he meant.  Strangely, my youngest, while stuck inside with us for the week too, never came down with the virus…  (Months later, when I was finally able to get the antibody test, it showed I was negative for COVID-19 antibodies.  Meh.)

Going “Remote”

Nursing our coughs and moving back into normal life, we made our way into March, my own birthday month.  By this point, rumors were becoming realities in the States.  We were making plans to “go remote” at my school, and all signs pointed to the same being true for my kiddos schools too.  

My heart ached for my students, who were all in different places.  Some went home to an entirely bored, but uncertain existence with their parents.  While others went home to places without the Internet, with things shutting down all around them, while their loved ones were getting sick. 

While I should have been worrying about whether or not they were keeping up with their work, I was worried as to whether or not they were eating, whether they were warm enough, and whether they had someone watching out for them.  Many of them were not and did not.  Some I never heard from again, after we switched to remote learning.  I still think about them and hope they were able to put enough pieces back together so that they will revisit their higher education soon.

Mom Is Everything Now

In between my frets about my students, my own children began needing me in ways I had not imagined.  In an instant, I became super mom, teacher, therapist, friend, caretaker, constant cook, as well as all the roles I previously served.  Unknowing of what the future held, daily lessons in survival became a topic of discussion.  (I know how strange this sounds now, but it’s the truth.)  We spent time outside every day classifying plants, learning how to build fires and shelters, and troubleshooting what-if scenarios.  

It became apparent rather quickly that it was the children who were suffering the most from the pandemic.  Living in the country, we don’t have a neighborhood to rely on.  We were able to have a few playdates over the summer, but they were largely outside with a select few people.  The normal sounds of summer were muted by COVID-19. 

The only solace was that we could all be outside.  Luckily, we have some property and are free to use our in-laws outdoor space too.  We spent hours exploring the property, chasing the deer around, and searching for wild raspberries and blackberries.

Temporarily transformed into a pioneer woman, I was able to find ways to “find the good” in the situation.  The slower timeline allowed for daily mile runs with my bunch.  I was also able to concentrate on teaching my children how to be more independent.   Reluctantly, my oldest learned to help take care of his younger brother.  He’s assumed a role as his mentor and confidant.  Through this year, they have developed a bond that will surely be unbreakable.  For this, I am grateful.

Goodbye, Conversations!

However, there are consequences of the pandemic.  Tragic consequences that will also have long-lasting effects on our family (and yours, no doubt). With the mandate to stay home, it became easy to wholly concentrate on life within our home.  While I made attempts to stay connected with people, it is my opinion that the death of interpersonal communication has been one of the worst side effects of COVID-19.

Twenty-twenty has been the loneliest year of my life.  While I love my family, and they me, the greatest tragedy has been the loss of general human communication.  Aside from social media, which in the throws of COVID-19 nauseated me with it’s lack of true understanding and of human decency, people largely stopped talking in 2020.  

No more idle banter while in line at the grocery store, no more co-workers popping their heads in to see you to ask how your kiddos faired in their big game, no more moms gathering to pick up their kids from school and sharing news about the community, no more waiting room conversations, no more elevator banter, no more anything.  Silence had taken the place of the conversations that bind us all together.  Without it, we lived without a community.

Exacerbated by the dull updates on social media, the “me” mentality entirely took over in 2020, and the mandated silence put a nail in the coffin of interpersonal communication. 

Back To School

It seemed like there was some hope, at the close of summer, when my children returned to “school.”  They were sentenced to an every other day situation, where only half of their original population would be present.  It was said that they’d make do; all the kids had to make sacrifices.  It was a good opportunity for the children to make new friends.  However, “making” friends is quite challenging, even for the most outgoing, while donning a face mask all day AND having to stay 6 feet apart from each other all day long.  

There have been many occasions when I ask myself, if it would just be better for them to stay home, while the world figures itself out.  I see how lonely my kiddos are too.  It’s just not fair to them, to keep them all apart like this.  

You know, before 2020, I had started to notice a change in my college students.  They largely seemed less sure of themselves than my previous students.  They self-disclosed social anxiety to me at an alarming rate. 

Now, as a mother, I try to see into my children’s future.  How will their cohorts look someday?  How much anxiety will they need to overcome?  Will they be able to establish relationships and find full existences?

I’m not sure, but I do know that it matters.  Interpersonal communication matters.  Idle chitchat matters.  Being part of a larger community matters.  At the end of September, shortly after my kids returned to school, I found out how much it truly matters in the most trying of ways.

My Mom

My mother got sick.  She lives in Florida, and she had been complaining of an ailing stomach for a few weeks.  She went to the ER and found out she had a mass on her pancreas.  Back and forth she went over the coming months to be poked and prodded by doctors who were trying to determine her condition.  Some days it was cancer, and others it was benign.  Week after week, she spent days in the hospitals (yes, there were many hospitals and each doctor had something different to say).  Her pain increased; her anxiety went through the roof; she couldn’t eat (it was too painful); and she was not allowed to have visitors.  Finally, they agreed.  It was pancreatic cancer.  (Don’t look it up.  It’s terrible reading.)

Each day, I prepared as if I were going to jump on a plane and fly down to see her.  However, because of COVID, I was in a tough spot.  If I were to have gone down to see her, I would’ve needed to quarantine for two weeks in Florida, before I could personally see her.  What sense would that make?  I settled on staying put and relying on talking on the phone with her daily.  Eventually, she was prescribed to have one of the strongest courses of chemotherapy that exists.  

At the start of December, she was admitted to the hospital for her first and last round of chemotherapy.  She left the hospital on the Friday of that week, and was admitted to another hospital the following Monday, because the chemicals made her so sick.

This was the one and only time that I flew in 2020.  I wished it had been for pleasure, but it was not.  The airport was weird.  For just a few weeks before Christmas, it was empty.  Everyone wore face masks and stood 6 feet apart.  Once on the plane, each person had a set of seats for themselves.  It was quiet and strange. 

It was lonely.  Apart from my family, only one friend knew where I was.  I couldn’t bare to post something on social media about it and endure a mile-long comment list of prayer hands from people who don’t really care.  Also, let’s be real here.  They don’t pray either, most of them anyway.   (Now you know my true feelings of 🙏🏻 prayer hands, 🙏🏻 and why I do not post them in your comments.  If you’d like to pray for my mother, please do.  I love a real sentiment, but meaningless emojis, well, they are another story…) 

Thankfully, after a few days in Florida, I was able to see my mother, but it took some doing to make it happen.  There’s nothing quite like seeing someone in person.  It doesn’t solve all the world’s problems, but it reminds us that we are not alone on this planet and this journey.  Upon my departure, my mother was in a far better place than when I arrived.  She continues to improve every day.

Christmas Came and Went

Of course, soon after, I made my way home in time to spend Christmas with my husband and kids.  It was what it was, not extraordinary, but it was comfortable and nice to have something else to point our attention to.  

What it didn’t have was others.  There were no holiday gatherings to catch up on how people are.  There were no fancy nights out to celebrate another year around the sun.  Bland messages on cards and on social media were about all we could hope for.  This holiday season left 2020 in very much the same way as it came in: alone.

So, as I prepare to say goodbye to the year, the only thing I can do is to hope.  I hope that 2021 challenges me to do better and to be better than I am today.  I hope I never forget how lonely this year has been, so I will be a better friend and community member.  I hope our children will be stronger because of this year, and that they will learn they can survive adversity.

More selfishly, I hope sports come back in 2021.  I miss the laughter; I miss the people; and quite frankly, I miss a bit of FUN!


I hope the future holds something better than what you had to offer.     

Transitioning from School to Home: How to Make a Schedule that’s Right for YOU!

March 17, 2020

Hi friends, I’m Gretchen L., and I’ve been an online instructor for over ten years. Let me help guide you through this transition, so your students get the most out of their time over the coming weeks. My advice includes best practices I’ve learned over years of teaching and consulting. I want to help your child(ren) continue to make academic progress, as I help my own kids go through this transition.

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Who am I?

Hi friends, I’m Gretchen L., and I’ve been an online instructor for over ten years. Let me help guide you through this transition, so your students get the most out of their time over the coming weeks.

My advice includes best practices I’ve learned over years of teaching and consulting. I want to help your child(ren) continue to make academic progress, as I help my own kids go through this transition.

Here’s a quick look at my experience:

Today’s Tip! Make a Schedule!

OK, that seems simple enough, I’ll just cruise through Pinterest and grab one like the ones below, right?

Not so fast!

While the above schedules are great and all, please take a moment to create a schedule that will work in your own home. 

Making a schedule that works for your family is going to take a bit of time, but trust me, this is a FIRST STEP you’re NOT going to want to miss. The sooner you get your children used to a schedule, the better prepared to learn they will be.

  • Make sure you have the technology your kids will need to complete their meetings and online/offline tasks.
  • Make sure your kids are able to connect in real time with their teachers. You don’t want them to miss the opportunity to have some semblance of normalcy through this process.
  • Understand that you’re going to need to adjust your schedule; it’s not going to be perfect on the first round.
  • Don’t overload your kiddos; they are going through some major stuff too!
  • Let your kids have a say in the schedule. It will be easier to get some buy in, if they are the ones who came up with the idea!

So, there you have it. Now all you need to do is to write it down some where. You can get as fancy as you like for this part. I mean, if color coordination is your thing, go for it. Then post it in a space where the family can hold each other accountable. 🙂

Good luck with your transitions my friends. Please reach out in the comments below, if you have any questions! ~ Gretchen

A Mom’s Quick Guide to Prepping for Sickness

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my privacy policy for more information.  In addition, the medical information quoted in this post comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control. For more measured, reasonable, and up-to-date regarding best practices for the COVID-19 virus prevention, treatment, and containment, please visit the CDC website HERE. ~ Reminder, I am not a doctor.  Please contact 911 in the event of a medical emergency.

In a little over two months, an unknown virus became a daily conversation item in my home and my community.  With so much information coming at me from different directions, I found it necessary to sift through some of the sensationalism and come up with some common-sense steps for how my household would respond to the Coronavirus, now officially named, COVID-19.

Right after Valentine’s Day, my home was infected with Influenza A.  It. Was. Terrible.  My husband and I have both expressed that we’ve NEVER been so sick in our lives.  What’s more, there has never been a time when our entire house was sick at the same time.  It was a gross and an emotionally draining week.  As a mom, I want to give extra tender care to my kiddos (and my hubby) when they are feeling sick.  However, I was physical incapable of doing that while we were all sick.  I did the best I could, but I wished I had been more prepared for a week at home sick with the flu.

Due to this, my husband and I have already been chatting about the COVID-19 virus for a few extra weeks.  We could empathize with what the people in China and abroad were going through.  

In response to our conversations, we started to look to reputable sources for a plan of action should the virus make its way to our town.  Below is a quick guide to what we’ve learned.  

1. Get YOUR House Ready

First and foremost, according to the CDC’s current recommendations, here’s how household’s should be preparing for a local outbreak.

Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. (NOTE from post author: Gosh, I didn’t realize this has changed. I’ve been coughing into my sleeve up until I read this. However, with this method, we’re containing the germs AND then disposing of them. It should be noted that you are supposed to always wash your hands after you throw the tissue away.)

Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

The quote above was taken directly from the CDC’s web page devoted to Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):

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2. Must-Have Items for Prevention

I have created a couple of shopping lists based on my own experience with the flu a few weeks ago. If you see something you need, save it in your cart or screenshot this, so you don’t forget about it when you do your shopping…

  • An adequate supply of hand soap.
  • Hand sanitizer that you and your family members can have on hand at all times.
  • Boxes and mobile packs of tissues.
  • Disinfectant Spray, like Lysol
  • Laundry Disinfectant or Clorox Bleach (Did you know that your normal laundry detergent doesn’t actually disinfect your clothes? I didn’t. Thank Goodness that I figured this out!)

3. Keep These Items On-Hand in Case of a Local Outbreak

4. Other Thoughts That May Be Helpful

So, what happens when people around you start to get sick? As moms, we all know that every time we bring our little ones to the doctors, we potentially expose them to other disease. Think about that before you rush your coughing kiddos to the doctor right now. If you are capable of treating yourself and your family at home, then you minimize the risk of transmission to the rest of your community.

With that said, do you have the supplies and the room you will need in order to keep yourself or a member of your family quarantined from the rest of your lot? If not, now is the time to think about where you can safely keep someone in your home.

Obviously, if multiple members of your family get sick, keeping them quarantined to one room will become increasingly difficult. You may need to resolve to allowing the sickness to overtake your home. However, in this case, you will need to be more cautious with outsiders. When my husband and I had the flu, I put a note on the door and asked visitors to drop packages off in a basket outside. If you think people will try to visit you too, you might want to come up with a similar plan.

One last thing to consider is this. While most of us will probably get the COVID-19 virus, and we’ll recover just fine. However, we must be careful to keep our aging populations and those (any age) who have compromised immune systems safe. Do everyone a favor and please stay home if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms. We must remember that while this virus is going to slow many of us down for our loved ones with lung and heart diseases, cancers, and auto-immune challenges it might be devastating😢. So, let’s work together to keep our family and friends safe.

While it is a difficult to not go to work or school, we do live in a time when SO MUCH can be done remotely. Stay safe and stay home.

Of course, our hope is that no one will have to use any of this information. However, in the case that you do, it’s better to be over prepared, than under prepared. (Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.)

5. Stay Informed

Trust me, I understand that you are being inundated with information right now. I am too. Your friends are talking, your social media feeds are blowing up, the talking heads on the news keep chatting, and now you’re receiving text messages (and even PHONE CALLS!) about the coronavirus. Heck, even I’m sending you messages!?! It’s extremely difficult when it seems the whole world is telling you to be concerned. I get it. BUT, you are a mom; you’ve dealt with chaos before and you are going to be able to help lead your family through this too.

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When things start to get a little overwhelming, take a deep breath and take stock of YOUR current situation. (((The reason I wrote this article is that it is so easy to get carried away with the panic mentality and I don’t want that for any of you.))) So, as I was saying, when things get overwhelming take a deep breath and take stock of your current situation. Grrl, keep YOUR household going. Utilize all of those skills you’ve been developing over the years to protect your little ones. Take temperatures, ease fears, make soups, and give hugs. If it looks like your family’s got a bad flu, stay home and treat them. If anyone has a super-high fever and/or has trouble breathing, call a doctor or an emergency health line immediately for assistance. (Remember, I am not a doctor; I’m just here to give friendly advice. Any time your MOM-dar goes off, it may be time to get some professional health support.)

I recently shared this article on my social media pages, and you might find it helpful to measure exaclty when to “call the doctor.” You might want to check it out here -> Dr. Claire McCarthy, Coronavirus: “What parents should know and do”

Make sure to thoroughly read alerts issued by local governments and your school systems, because they may contain information that might help you in your time of need.

Finally, please remember that news stations are in the business of trying to get people to watch their channels. While I’m sure the stories are as accurate as they can be, they might also be trying to grab your attention. So far, I’ve found the BEST place to look for measured, reasonable, and up-to-date information regarding best practices for virus prevention, treatment, and containment is the CDC website. You can access the information HERE.

Good luck, my friends. If I missed any essentials or procedures that you’ve found helpful in your own communities, please mentions those things in the comments below.

Can I Vent for a Moment, One Gluten Free Mom to Another?

Hey, y’all, can I vent for a moment? My kiddo got glutened last week at school. Lo and behold,  he’s truly sick this week. It’s either the flu or strep; I’ll find out when he wakes up this morning.

Anyway, I know this is futile, BUT…. the problem with my son and gluten is that he has an autoimmune response to it. Meaning, if he ingests any, he’ll get sick. Most people look at my son and tell him, aww, we won’t tell your mom, you can sneak it this one  time. 

First of all, AHH! Second, I don’t shelter him from something, because I philosophically don’t believe in it, I shelter him bc it hurts him. Anyway, at this point he is a self advocate,  because he understands this and will routinely refuse food that contains gluten. However, there are times that he just doesn’t know and he wants to be polite (and obviously,  doesn’t want to be excluded). So, there it is; he gets glutened. And what happens? Nothing, according to the people and, more specifically,  the adults around him. No puffy face, no trouble breathing, no vomiting, no nothing… EXCEPT there is a reaction, one they don’t see. The one when he comes home and uncontrollably sobs and has no idea why. The one where he BEGS me for tea and a heating pad to relieve some of the pain. Oh, and the one where he spends the entire evening in and out of the bathroom with  diarrhea.  The one with the itchy rash on his hands, the creases in his elbows/knees, and the bottoms of his feet.  The one where he turns into the incredible hulk and he rages out for no apparent reason. Oh yeah, not to mention the bloating that won’t relieve itself for a week or so.

Now, that’s what just happens in response to a bit of gluten.  While his body is clearly trying it’s hardest to fight the invasion, other germs are able to crash his party.  Then he gets really sick, like with the flu or strep or a cold, etc.

So then the next hurdle begins, because I can’t just open up some saltines and a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for him.  I have to make him fresh soup and run to the store to buy another box of GF crackers. (Here’s a referral link to our favorite plain cracker.) Ugh, it’s not like it’s hard at this point,  it’s just not as easy as it is for others.

I know people don’t have any clue and really don’t mean any harm. However, sometimes it would be nice, if people knew that gluten really can be harmful. 

Thanks for letting me vent. I’ll leave you with this closing thought, if you are like me and trying to fight an invisible war.  According to the Mayo Clinic article, titled “Celiac Disease: Symptoms & Conditions.”  Left untreated,  Celiac Disease can cause the following:

  • Malnutrition
  • Bone weakening
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Cancer
  • Nervous system problems

While the fight is invisible,  given the information above. it is still worth it! 

To the moms of gluten free kids out there, keep fighting the invisible war!

5 Easy Ways To Stop Worrying Right Now!

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

Let’s face it being a mom is tough work. Not only do you have to physically accomplish so much (like somehow being in two places at the same time, while making lunches for tomorrow), but it is also mentally draining. In addition to managing one’s professional obligations, to nurturing one’s romantic interests, and to maintaining friendships, we moms also need to do so much more.

In the midst of frantic worry, I sometimes stop to listen to the thoughts going on in my head. Like, “When are the library books due? Where are the library books? When will my kiddo make a new friend? How much money is this sport going to be? Why is my child struggling this way or that?… And the list goes on and on and on.

Luckily, I’ve learned that constant worry accomplishes nothing. It creates extra tension in the home, it increases the cortisol coursing through my body, and it wastes time. As a public speaking instructor, I know how important it is to be able to stop worry in its tracks, so a presenter is able to move passed anxiety and move toward delivering an effective speech.

Somewhere along the way, I adopted the stress-stopping techniques that I give to my students to my own everyday life, and I gotta tell you, I feel so much more productive. What’s more, it is a pretty powerful trait to be able to stop worrying whenever I want to. Consider this quote…

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who do you want to be all day long? Do you want to be the mom who cannot stop worrying or complaining that things aren’t working out correctly? Or do you want to be the mom who charges forward no matter the challenges that lay in front of her and her family?

Umm, I’ll take number two please! I’d venture to say that most of us would much rather be the woman who gets things done, right? So, why do we continue to worry? The truth is that there are a ton of valid things in the world to worry about, and that worry can get overwhelming quickly.

I’m here to tell you, mamma, you are right. Those worries that you have are real. You should give yourself some time each day to let your brain process your thoughts and emotions, because it is important.

However, it is also important to quiet your brain. Give yourself some time to enjoy this moment, right here, right now. Clear your brain of worry and just understand you are exactly where you should be. Worrying about where you aren’t or where your family isn’t won’t change anything about your current place in life. So why waste endless amounts of time on worry when you could be putting your brain to more positive ventures?

Now that you are onboard and know that you need to stop worrying, here’s how you can do it RIGHT NOW!

1. Turn Your Phone to Silent & PUT IT DOWN!

First of all, I bet you just giggled when you read this. Perhaps you thought something like, “Turn my phone to silent? Heck no, this chick must be crazy!” (Jury’s still out on that. lol) I never said that these techniques would be easy; I just said that they are effective. The truth is that you have to intentionally seek to quiet your brain.

If you were to consciously look around your life, where does most of your stress come from? For me, the answer was quite clear, it came from my phone. How quickly could I respond to a message, who needs something from me, who could I send a message to get something off of my plate, and so forth. My phone was making noises every couple of minutes.

One day, I just needed a break. I needed for people to not be able to get a hold of me. However, of course, I wanted to be available in case an emergency came up with my children. I couldn’t turn my phone off, but I could do the next best thing. I turned that sucker to silent! This was one of the most powerful things that I have done recently to manage my mental health. I don’t have to be at anyone’s beckon call, and no one needs an immediate answer.

As a Work From Home Mom (WFHM), I’m on call 24/7. I frequently have clients who text me last minute and ask if I can put up a quick post on their social channels. Within the last few months I’ve been contacted on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, Friday and Saturday nights at dinnertime, and on Sundays. I’m not sure about you, but those are usually pretty family-packed days and times for me. At first, when I could hear the message, I would withdraw myself from the festivities (and sometimes a large dinner that I was in charge of preparing) to go do business.

Now, I allow those messages to wait. I don’t look at my phone and interrupt those important family gatherings. I’ll put it this way, I’m never going to regret spending a few more minutes with my family, however, I might regret the converse…

Some of you might not WFH, but this technique could still apply to you. How much time are you spending on your phone searching for things and engaging in conversations on Social Media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat? Are you overwhelmed by all of the notifications popping up all the time? I can’t stand those little red/orange circles with the numbers in them! I think, “Ah, I HAVE to respond or someone will think I’m a bad person.” But you know what? How much value are we truly getting from those interactions? Seriously…

It might be fun to catch up on the local news and gossip. Whose baby is adorable? What type of smoothie should you be drinking? What party did you not get invited to? Ugh, all time wasters!

Here, I’ll save you some time. If you live close enough, you’ll see that baby in person. Spoiler: she’s kinda cute, but not as cute as your baby. No smoothie on Earth is going to save your life (lol, only YOU have the power to do that…). And yup, you didn’t get invited to the party. Who gives a flip? Do you really want to go hang out with a bunch of people who don’t want to hang out with you. Umm, I certainly don’t.

With that said, imagine what you could do with the newfound time acquired from looking away from your phone for a bit? If you wanted to, you could pick up and visit that friend and see her cute-ish baby in person. You could experiment with smoothies and find the flavor that YOU actually enjoy. You could even find a friend who has similar interests to you and work on a plan to hang out in the real world.

Sounds pretty great, huh? It’s not that hard, and you don’t have to give it all up. Just intentionally turn away from staring at your device and responding to things as they happen. As someone who has survived turning the sound off on her phone, I gotta tell you that it feels pretty powerful having all that time back!

Maybe giving up the sound on your phone is a bit too much of a ask at this point. Maybe you tried it and are amazed by the new energy that surrounds you, so you’re looking for even more ways to clear your head. Either way, you might benefit from this next technique.

2. Shift Gears & Have a Laugh

Many years ago, we lost my brother. As those of you who have experienced this kind of loss know, the events leading up to his death changed my life. After a short, but violent sickness, my brother ended up on life support in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where he was.

As some background information, I have an irrational fear of hospitals. I know people go in and come out fine all of time, but I get quite anxious in them. I hate the sight of blood and all the gadgets and whatnot stir something up inside of me.

So, when my brother was hospitalized, I naturally approached the hospital with all sorts of fears and anxieties even before I saw him. After a six hour drive, I arrived at the hospital in a tizzy.

Consequently, every time I tried to go into the room, I fainted. He was attached to so many machines, and all I wanted to do was hold his hand, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get passed the machines, the hospital, all of it. It was so hard.

I called my husband (then boyfriend) to update him on the goings on. I shared with him my anxieties, and I told him I couldn’t stop fainting. I really couldn’t. And then he said, “Just stop.” I laugh/cried to him, “Just stop?!? That’s what you’ve got for me?!?” He said, “Yeah, just stop fainting, Gretchen. You don’t have a choice. You need to get in there to see him. Just stop fainting, you can worry all you want once this is over. Get in that room and go see your brother.”

I got off the phone feeling like I hadn’t been heard. Didn’t he realize how hard that was? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to mentally manage. I took a walk. I took some deep breaths. I thought long and hard about his advice, and I decided that he was right. I needed to just do it. I had to walk into his room without fainting, so my brother would know I was there for him and that I loved him. And I did. I made the decision; I went in there; and I supported him, while I could.

Tragically, within a couple of days, he was gone. However, that moment lives on within me. I was challenged to the depths of my soul, and I experienced firsthand that I have control over what my brain is and isn’t capable of.

And so do you.

Now, I know that our daily worries don’t exactly carry the same weight as when someone is on their deathbed. However, there are some mom worries that can escalate to perceived crisis. In our home, because of the nature of our work, money tends to be a huge stressor for us. We get stuck thinking about, “How will we pay these bills, the health insurance, the mortgage, the car payments, the groceries, the bills, bills, bills?!?”

In these moments, knowing that you can intentionally shift your thinking is crucial to having strong mental health. Now, since I know that I can do this, I will identify when I’m engaging in worry, and I will just choose to shift gears. I like to turn my attention toward solutions, instead of dwelling on problems. In these moments, I will often actively search for new work or double-down on the projects that will bring more money into our home.

For some of you though, you may not yet realize that you have this power, so what are you supposed to do? Well, easy peasy! It’s time to call up your girlfriends!

What did she just say, call up your girlfriends?!? Yes, I did. And I want you to make a plan to go out with them.

What?!? You want me to spend money I don’t have and go out with my friends?!? Yes. That’s exactly what I want you do to. (((Within reason, of course. No one’s saying to plan a Vegas trip here…)))

Go grab a coffee or a couple of drinks, mamma. Hanging out with your friends is a sure-fire way to stop thinking so much about all the crap that’s bothering you and to turn your attention toward something more positive. If you can stack some laughs on top of it all, even better! Laughing naturally brighten your mood, and it’s dang hard to worry while you’re laughing.

As mothers it is very easy, especially when your children are young, to get lost in the mayhem of your family. Take a breath, it’s OK to be more than a wife, a mother, a colleague, a bill payer, you can be just YOU too. It’s OK. Trust me on this.

ASIDE: If you are in a place where you are unsure about who your “friends” are, because you are stuck between your old friends who don’t have kids yet and don’t really know any moms around you, it’s time to build some new relationships. No worries, though, trust me, there are plenty of other new moms out there who are just as eager to make new friends as you are. (Check out your local library for baby/toddler times, YMCAs usually have Mommy and Me classes, hangout at your local park and wait for someone to show up, or host something yourself. Once you look, you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other moms.

So once you have a group of friends who you want to hang out with, make plans to connect with those people without your kids. You’ll find that taking some time to shift gears and have a laugh with some friends is such a powerful way to stop worry in its tracks.

If you are still working on developing a fun group of friends who you can call upon, when you need to shift gears, you can do the next technique RIGHT NOW!

3. Get Your Heart Rate Up

You already know that exercise can help relieve stress, don’t you? Here’s some information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) to reinforce what you already know.

“When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.”

~ Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

There it is, mamma, get moving. Now, of course, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so I’m not going to prescribe how you should get moving, everyone is different. Walking may work well for you, or perhaps YOU are a runner and have a need for speed. Swimming, dancing, aerobics, spinning, hiking, yoga, cross fit, are just a few of the endless possibilities you can do to get moving.

Just plan to get going every day. (It’s OK to skip a day here and there.) A few years ago, my husband got me this watch. It’s really simple to use and very affordable. Obviously, an Apple Watch or other smart watch will also, track your activity, but I wasn’t looking for another gadget to play with. I find that this watch is perfect for me, because it keeps me moving. I have a goal of 15,000 steps a day, and I check the watch periodically for the my day’s count. I don’t need to message anyone from it or use it to answer my phone. It’s simple and that’s what I love about it.

Speaking of simple, have you tried using essential oils yet? My next technique is to utilize your sense of smell to “trick” your brain into relaxing.

4. Diffuse Some Oils

Do you have any scents that when you smell them, you are instantly reminded of something? For me, anytime I smell pipe tobacco, I remember my grandfather. He died when I was quite young, but to this day, that scent will transport me right back to his lap.

That’s pretty powerful, right? I think so too, and that’s why I started using oils. Now, don’t get me wrong there are so many great benefits of using oils beyond what I am sharing here today. However, I wouldn’t dare touch on them, but in that department I am no expert.

What I will share with you today, is to find some oils that you naturally relate to peace and calm and diffuse them when you notice your mind is starting to worry. Many people like to purchase blends from doTERRA ™ and Young Living ™ consultants. If this brings you peace, go for it. I’ll tell you right now, that you have consultants near you who would be happy to help you find the right blends that will work for you. Go to your Facebook page and type in your status:

ISO of someone who can help me find the right oils to diffuse for stress relief.

I am confident that your network of friends will connect you to a consultant ASAP! If you already know scents you like, you can find tons of essential oils on Amazon. (You might want to do your research here and read the reviews, because not all oils are created equally; however, Amazon does have some nice oils that I like to use.) For me Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon are my go-to oils, when I’m trying to shift gears and clear out my mind. Again, everyone is different, so please find something that will work for you!

Adding diffusing into your routine will give you the opportunity to consciously say to yourself, that you are giving your mind permission to relax. If you want to actively give your brain some quiet time each day, it might be time to add meditation to your daily routine.

5. Meditate

Are you wondering if I really tell my public speaking students to try meditation? Well, yes, I do. I want them to know they can train their brains to focus on the aspects of the presentation that matter to their success, rather than get wound up in the anxieties that come with presenting in front of a large crowd.

In terms of your own worries that vary from those of someone just before they walk out on stage, rest assured that you can practice meditation too! Meditation is a healing process that allows you to clear out the clutter in your brain and to bring attention to those things that you need to focus on in order for you to feel fulfilled. It is a personal journey and only you will know if it will work for you. However, I invite you to try it.

There are so many free resources out there in terms of meditation, and the practice varies on your level and on what you feel comfortable doing. For those just starting out, I recommend Jason Stephenson -> (He offers tons of FREE meditations on YouTube. Just click through, and you can select one that interest you.)

If you are interested in learning more about meditative techniques, I also recommend The Daily Meditation Podcast by Mary Meckley. (While she does have items and subscriptions that you may purchased, the daily podcast is always FREE.) I like these free meditations, because they are short, and I never feel confined to sitting in a dark space alone while I meditate. I often listen to these meditations while going for a walk or while doing dishes. This works for me!

Hopefully, you have found something today that will work for your too. The only thing left to do is to try something on this list. You are just one step away from relieving your worrying brain. Which technique will you try?

Let Me Know What Works for YOU

So, go on and get out there and give these techniques a try. When you intentionally start to direct your thoughts, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

What worked for you? What didn’t? Do you have any other techniques that you can share with me? I’d love to hear them. Let me know what they are in the comments below.

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10 Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free Easter Candies

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

Every time we turn around there’s another holiday or celebration just around the corner, and buying season-specific treats can become pricey quickly. Add on to this the restriction of buying gluten free and usually the expense adds up even faster, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

In our home, we are always on the lookout for gluten-free products that look good, taste good, and are inexpensive. While we try to make good choices about extra chemicals in our treats via coloring, additives, and preservatives, we also make exceptions on holidays. If we were to get all-natural, organic food for everything our kids ingest, we’d go broke. So, we try to make the best choices we can given our set of circumstances.

Believe it or not, there are a ton of easy, gluten-free choices in terms of candy. However, those with Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and other allergies should always be cautious, especially around the holidays.

Stay AWAY from molded chocolates!

As a rule, I find that molded chocolates are a NO GO. Yes, I’m afraid that means no more Cadbury Eggs, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, and basically any other Chocolate egg you can find. Bunnies, my friends, are OUT too!

These types of specialty chocolates are difficult for manufacturer’s to maintain as gluten free. Some of the additives needed to ensure the chocolate fits the molds and stays together by the time it gets to the consumer contain gluten. Also, the many of the production facilities that the candy is produced are not gluten free, so the risk of cross-contamination goes up.

Since no one wants a sick kiddo for a holiday, it is best to just stay away from these products in grocery stores. Some local stores may provide GF chocolate bunnies, but you are really going to have to search to find them. Also, you can always check out Etsy, as independent chocolatiers have shops on there and sometimes offer gluten-free novelties. Be aware of this Price Warning though: these items are not going to be cheap. If they are a must-have in your Easter baskets, then they might be worth it for you. At a $20+ price tag, they are not a necessity in our baskets.

Thankfully, my kiddos never noticed that the “Big” Chocolate Bunny was replaced with a plush version instead, so all is well in my home!

Plenty of Other “Candy” Choices

Now, that you know what to generally stay away from, let’s talk about what you can include in your Easter baskets. It sounds like I say this ALL THE TIME, but it always bears repeating.

Please Double Check!

Please double check all of the products you pick up and make sure that the allergens that you are personally trying to avoid or to take out of your child’s diet are not on the ingredient list. For a quick check, I always scan for the “Gluten Free” stamps on the labels.

Always be sure to double check for the Gluten Free notation on the product’s label. If it’s not there, it’s probably NOT safe.

1. Jelly Beans

Hooray! What would Easter be without jelly beans? Most of the manufacturers of these candies list gluten free on there packages. Jelly Belly are the favorite in our household, because of their unique flavors.

(ASIDE: If you haven’t tried Bean Boozled with your family yet, you have to give it a try. You’re kids will love it! It’s a fun, quick game where you have to try to pick the good tasting jellybean over the identically-looking gross one. So, it definitely bring out the laugh in our house. We LOVE this game for car rides or long lines.)

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2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

That’s right, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are on the “No List,” but the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that are regular sized and miniature sized are on the “SAFE” list. YAY! 🙂

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They even have some wrapped in spring colored foils, so your Easter treasure hunter will still get to enjoy some chocolate and peanut butter goodness. Prior to going gluten free, Peanut Butter Eggs were my kiddos favorite treat, so these cups are a good substitute for him.

3. Peeps (Bunnies & Chicks)

Missing that BIG chocolate bunny in the Easter basket? Well, you might be leaving the chocolate behind, but don’t forget the bunny! Peeps are an excellent way to include the bunny in your basket without the risk of gluten.

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4. Pez

Easter Pez Dispensers

Do you have a Pez dispenser collector in your home? If so, this is a great treat to pack in that kiddo’s Easter Basket. Of course, Pez has Easter themed dispensers, like the ones pictured above. I always pick up a refill pack or two of the candy, so the novelty of the dispenser lasts a bit longer.

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5. Double Bubble Egg-Shaped Gum

Are you missing the idea of little candy eggs in your child’s basket? Well, Double-Bubble Egg-Shaped Gum is a great choice for you then. These egg-shaped gum balls are a wonderful addition to Easter Egg Hunts as well. My kids devour these. Plus, they are both gluten- and peanut-free, which is a nice bonus!

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6. Tootsie Roll Eggs

Not interested in gum in your house? That’s OK, because Tootsie Roll, has an Easter Candy alternative that may work for you! These “eggs” are Tootsie Rolls with pastel-colored candy shells. They are perfect for baskets or for stuffing in eggs for a hunt!

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7. Charms Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails Cotton Candy

OK, I’m not sure how the cotton candy keeps its form in these bags, and I’m guessing I don’t want to know. However, these bags are adorable additions for any Easter Basket. With the lack of a giant chocolate bunny, these bags take up plenty of room and the cottontails are always a hit with my kiddos. So, instead of biting of the the ears first, my kids get to chomp on the tails! 🙂

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8. Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks

For an Easter Basket addition that can also (conveniently) serve as a packed lunch addition, grab some of these Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks. They are sized just right for stuffing into Easter Eggs for a hunt prize!

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9. Tootsie Roll Easter Basket Mix

Tootsie Roll also makes a mix pack of gluten-free and peanut-free treats that you can put into any Easter basket. The mix includes Tootsie Roll, Juniors, Snack Bars, Mini Dots, Tootsie Pops, and Tootsie Fruit Chews. All of the candy is wrapped in pastel colors and make cute additions to any Easter Basket.

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10. Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses In Easter-Colored Packaging

Thank goodness that there is some chocolate that is safe! Plain milk chocolate kisses wrapped in Easter-Colored foils are a GO! These bite-sized yummy treats are perfect for both Baskets and for hunts, so make sure to grab some. BE CAREFUL though, some of the “other” flavor may not be gluten free, so please double-check the packaging on these.

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OR… How’s this for an easy option?

At the end of the day, time is tight, and maybe you are looking for the easiest solution with some easy gluten-free chocolate options. If that is the case, you might like this pre-made Easter Basket solution for your gluten-free kiddo!

Happy Easter!

With our next gluten-free adventure just around the corner, look for more gluten-free content coming soon. Want to stay up-to-date on when new content is published? Please LIKE and FOLLOW me at

Getting a Diagnosis for Our Gluten Free Kid (GFK)

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

February 2019

Do you have any idea how hard it is to knowingly give something to your child, when you know that it is hurting him? This is how I feel about gluten. It goes against every fiber in my body to feed it to my oldest child. While he’s not been officially diagnosed with Celiac, my husband and I are both certain that his body hates gluten.

This week, we are finally going in for my Gluten Free Kid’s (GFK) endoscopy to find out one way or another if he has Celiac Disease. I say finally, because it has taken us two years to get to this point. He’s been in and out of doctors’ offices; he’s had tons of blood tests, swab tests, xRays, etc., and now we’re gearing up for a 2-hour trip to get his endoscopy done this week.

You may be wondering why it takes so long to get a diagnosis. Why is there the need for so many tests? Well, believe it or not, it is extremely difficult diagnose Celiac Disease. There are many factors that need to add up in order for a gastroenterologist (GI) to diagnosis someone with the disease. If you are interested in learning more about the facts of Celiac Disease, check out this Celiac Disease Facts and Figures document from the Celiac Disease Center from the University of Chicago Medical Center.

My kiddo has been through so many tests, and in many ways, it is a relief to know that he (we) will finally have something concrete to pin all of his symptoms on. In other ways, getting the procedure done is a bit unsettling. Any time your child is put under anesthesia, there is the potential for something to go awry. Everyone has told us that it is an easy procedure, but I’m a mom people. It’s my job to worry.

Whatever happens on Wednesday, he will once again be gluten free on Thursday. We all know (including him, us and his GI doctor) that he is much healthier when he doesn’t eat gluten, so back to a GF household we go.

Yes, I say back to a GF household. A little over two years ago, we started our gluten-free adventure. However, my son has been reacting to gluten since he was an infant, we just didn’t know it then. Here’s what his gluten reactions looked like as a infant and toddler…

My Sick Baby

So my GFK was a generally happy baby, BUT he was sick. All. The. Time. Thank God he didn’t have colic too, because I’m not sure how I would’ve lived through that. We were in and out of the doctor’s office several times a year getting prescription after prescription of antibiotics, steroids, creams, ointments, and sprays. You name it, he was on it to combat his symptoms.

His list of symptoms included constant congestion, runny nose, puffiness, rashes, and itchiness. He had his tonsils and adenoids removed, when he was four to try to alleviate some of the symptoms. He had allergies. Clearly, he had seasonal allergies, but he was also reacting to something in the environment.

So, naturally, I started cleaning everything. He slept hiked up on pillows, so he could breathe at night, and I always had a humidifier running. He was on allergy meds year round (he takes Children’s Zyrtec). Then in the spring and summer when his seasonal allergies really kicked in, he was also taking Benedryl several times a week to combat clear allergic reactions. During those times, he was also taking a daily dose of a nasal spray (prescription) and eye drops as needed. Ugh, my perfect little kiddo was struggling with something, and I couldn’t figure it out

Symptoms in School

As he started to play sports and go to school, I noticed that these symptoms were slowing him down. When he was in kindergarten, I found him scratching the palms of his hands like crazy. Again, we went to the doctors for a steroid to kick the symptoms out of him. I finally asked them, when do we start looking into what is causing his symptoms rather than just treating them. (Pandora’s box officially opened right then.)

That moment started our journey from the pediatrician’s office, to the allergist’s office, then onto the two different pediatric gastroenterologists’s offices. At first, I was certain that he was allergic to something, I just didn’t know what it was. I was relatively certain it was something in the environment, like a perfume or other chemical. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that it might be something he was ingesting.

Bye, Bye Chemicals

We tried eliminating as many chemicals from our house as we could. Goodbye candles, harsh detergents, air fresheners, and the like. I stopped using chemicals to clean and instead moved to using white vinegar and Norex products. For his personal cleansing products we exclusively used the California Baby Super Sensitive Products.

So did it work, getting rid of the chemicals? Umm, it helped, but it didn’t work. I was able to calm his symptoms faster using more natural and safer products, but he still had all of his symptoms. So, we managed them. (Six years ago, I wrote this post about his Eczema. (We have since moved away from Tide -> Check out My Green Fills, you can get 50 Loads FREE Here. It smells great; the company is eco- and socially- responsible; and it works for all of the laundry in our home.)

What is Celiac Disease?

In the midst of trying to see what my child was reacting to, some surprising information came our way. My husband’s brother was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. So, naturally, our family was chatting quite a bit about what Celiac Disease is and how his diagnosis was going to affect future family meals, holidays, etc. Truthfully, he was quite startled by the diagnosis too, because he didn’t have any symptoms. (Well, not any intestinal discomfort or things you would naturally assume Celiac Disease would cause.) He had been going back and forth to the doctor because his blood work kept coming back strange. His thyroid numbers, cholesterol, and liver enzymes were all wonky.

Shortly after these discussions started, my kiddo went in for his annual checkup. For this appointment, the doctor ran a blood panel, which was the first one that he had received. When we went in for his appointment, all looked OK, but my son’s cholesterol was elevated. What? I know I haven’t mentioned this before, but we’re talking about a kid who LOVES steamed rice, chicken, and broccoli. He is not and was not on a steady diet of deep-fried food. Both my husband and I were stunned by this information; it just didn’t seem right.

In the spring of 2016, I saw this post. It was so simple, but it was something I hadn’t considered before. According to the article, “Can Allergies Be Causing Your Baby’s Sniffles?” from the Burdett Birth Center,

“Even though pollen counts are high, and the breezy spring days have you sneezing, it’s unlikely your infant is suffering from seasonal allergies. According to physicians, allergies develop only after cumulative exposure to allergens. Your infant would need to have significant exposure to something like tree pollen, grass or ragweed to trigger a seasonal allergy, and most infants simply don’t spend that much time outdoors in their first year of life to make that happen.

While you can probably rule out seasonal allergies as the culprit for your little one’s symptoms, you can’t rule out allergies altogether. In fact, the CDC reports that allergic reactions to food and indoor elements are on the rise in children.”

Wait, what?!? It was unlikely that my baby had had seasonal allergies? Then what the heck were we treating with all of those antihistamines for all of those years? Is there something more here? Was I inadvertently giving him something to eat that he was allergic to?

So, Gluten Showed Up Too!

In the summer of 2016, I ran across an offer for an allergy and intolerance test that I could perform at home and then send away for the results. I just sent a lock of his hair to the group. Then, two lists came back from that test. The first was a list of deficiencies that he had, and the second was a list of intolerances that he could potentially have. So, we were not surprised to see ragweed on the list, as well tree allergies. However, lo and behold, gluten showed up too!

At this point, I had so many questions. Could gluten really be at the bottom of all of his symptoms? So, grrl, you know what I did. That’s right, I Google’d my heart out; I started asking questions; and I began watching my boy like a hawk. Yes, of course, my family and friends thought that I was crazy. That’s not news though, I’ve always been a bit on the wacky side.

It was a huge leap for the people close to us to see a connection from my son’s symptoms to any type of gluten issue. Plus something new started to emerge, my GFK started to react emotionally to the foods he was ingesting. Have you heard of people reacting to food colorings and additives? Well, for a few years, there were several families locally speaking publicly about this. The way that these parents were explaining how their kids were reacting to the dyes in food were very similar to the way that my son was reacting to food in general.

Symptoms After Eating

For several months, I just watched him and cataloged the way he responded to food. It quickly became apparent to me that he was, in fact, reacting to gluten. After meals, he would get bloated, he was on the toilet constantly, his rashes continued (the worst rash appeared behind his knees and in his elbow crevices), and shortly after he ate he turned into the incredible hulk. He would become frantic, sad, and angry. It was like my 8 year old had teenage angst.

Frankly, my husband thought I was nuts. He said, “he’s just emotional, he’s being bad, he’s too sensitive, etc.” And then it happened. We were in the perfect situation, where I could predict his reaction right before my husband’s eyes.

We had taken a family day trip to Niagara Falls, and everyone’s spirits were elevated. We were all smiles and giggles, and we stopped to have a bite to eat. My son had not had anything that contained gluten all day, and then he asked for pizza for lunch. My husband says, “sure,” and I’m delighted, because I know exactly what’s about to happen. The light-hearted chatter continued, and I leaned over to my husband, while my boys were busy playing a game together and I said, “Just watch. He’s fine now, right? Watch what happens after the pizza.” My husband agreed to play along and watch my son as he ate.

Sure enough, within minutes of eating the pizza, he was crying at the table. What’s worse was that he couldn’t articulate why he was crying. When we asked him, he said, “I don’t know, I just don’t know!” While there was nothing amusing about the situation, because it was awful to see him helpless, it was wonderful that my husband finally saw it with his own eyes. My husband saw that maybe there was something more to this gluten thing than he originally thought.

With my husband as part of the watch team, he was able to see my son continue to display clear emotional symptoms within minutes of eating gluten. He also noticed the bloating, the rashes getting worse, and his loss of healthy coloring in his face. My GFK had dark circles under his eyes and an ashiness that didn’t not look right.

Doctors, Doctors, and More Doctors

By this time, the allergist couldn’t confirm or deny a gluten issue, because if it was Celiac, it wouldn’t be an allergy. Then they didn’t want to do a panel on him, because they thought he was too young to proceed with that type of testing, since no reactions so far seemed life threatening. I know, you can imagine how deflating that is to hear as a mom.

Next, we moved on to the first pediatric gastroenterologist. AND we had taken my son off of gluten. At that point, it was clear as day to us that he was reacting to gluten, and I couldn’t bear to keep him on something I knew his body was rejecting. We saw the first GI doctor several times. He did have the Celiac gene, and I laid out all of his symptoms. I was dismissed and asked if I had considered counseling for my son. (Umm, counseling? Listen, I’m not opposed to counseling, I have seen a counselor a couple of times when I was working through some bereavement issues. But, what would my son need a counselor for here? That really struck a “hey, crazy mom, you have no idea what your son has or needs” nerve.”) It wasn’t until I mentioned the family history of my brother-in-law’s Celiac diagnosis and my mother-in-law’s Colitis diagnosis that he started to really listen to me. The next step there was to schedule an endoscopy, but I left that appointment both disappointment and upset with the whole process.

Granted, healthcare professionals should absolutely rely on real data to diagnose conditions, but to so flippantly disregard the information I was bringing to the table made me realize that wasn’t the doctor my son needed.

We’re Done With Doctors

So, we walked away from doctors for close to two years. Obviously, we still saw his pediatrician, who understood our situation. He continued to emphasized the importance of a GF diet to our kiddo, even though we never received the formal diagnosis. However, we were done with specialists.

Ahhh! He Feels Better!

Over the course of time, he stopped taking every one of his medications and has moved to an only as needed status. So for two weeks in the spring, when the trees are in bloom, he will take his allergy medication. That’s it. It’s absolutely amazing and such a relief. Even my eleven year old can see the change within himself. He has no interest in eating gluten, because he understands how much better he feel off of it.

For such a long stretch, this was our normal, and it was just fine for us. Of course, this article started with the anxieties of a mother bringing her child in for an endoscopy, so how do you do that without a doctor’s orders? Well, you don’t.

Do We Need a Diagnosis?

Next year, my GFK starts middle school, and it will be difficult to get him out of class for long stretches of time. And that is only going to get worse as he gets older, so we had to consider that it’s now or never. By some stroke of luck, I overheard a friend talking about her experience with a pediatric gastroenterologist who she respected. He wasn’t a doctor I had heard of before and he was two hours away.

Well, we took a shot on him, and he turned out to be fantastic. He listened to me, asked questions, AND explored the family history. Plus, he spoke with my son extensively. He eased his concerns, and he made him laugh. So here we are, after numerous blood tests, an upper GI with a follow through, prepping for an endoscopy.

In order to prep for all of the tests he took this year, we had to put gluten back into his diet. So, every day, our son had a small serving of food with gluten in it. Guess what? His symptoms returned. His rashes, his congestion, his mood swings, his tummy issues and bloating. All of the symptoms returned, so we knew without a doubt that our child has some significant gluten issues.

Now, to find out if he has Celiac Disease…


March 2019

So, he did it. He made it through his endoscopy. He was a champ and the procedure took about a half hour. We’re home before school let out for the day. We had to wait a couple of weeks for the results. Here’s what we found out…

The test results were inconclusive enough for the GI doctor to hold off on the Celiac diagnosis, rather he’s treating him for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Some of his blood tests indicated Celiac, while others were normal. The his intestines looked good, but a couple of the biopsies came back indicating inflammation.

With the family history, and the fact that my son was off of gluten for so long before he had the endoscopy, the doctor admitted that the diagnosis could’ve swung to early stage Celiac. The doctor explained that in the future there will be different types of Celiac to help zero in on some of the symptoms and causes. So some people will have something like Celiac Type A, while others have Celiac Type B.

If he were to diagnosis my kiddo with Celiac, he would be obliged to follow up with him at regular intervals, to give him tests and to follow the progression of the disease. With the Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity diagnosis, my son still needs to follow a gluten free diet, but we can follow up with the doctor if/when we notice any symptom changes. As a rule, we would rather try to combat something through diet and exercise, if it is possible, so this seems like the perfect outcome for us. No one wants to have their kid spending too much time in a doctor’s office, especially if we can manage his symptoms at home.

So here we are, years after we started this journey, and it looks like by some amazing stroke of fate (and a bit of luck), we were able to determine that my son reacts to gluten. We hope that he never develops Celiac Disease and that now he’s in a better place to ward off the other autoimmune conditions and concerns that come with it.

However, in the meantime, my husband has now started his Celiac inquiry, because his recent blood work came back wonky. It looks like his doctors are faster to diagnose him than our son.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather my son not have Celiac Disease, so I’d say his endoscopy was a success. Who knows, perhaps those couple of years off of gluten gave his system enough time to heal, so he didn’t actually develop it. There is so much research that still needs to be done in order to get a clear understanding of these murky conditions. While it is nice to be able to definitively say this is the problem, I’m much happier in limbo knowing my son is feeling better and growing well.

Now, onto the next kiddo. His struggle went from a slow bowel as a toddler to a constantly loose bowel as an elementary school student. Anyone else thinking, what I’m thinking? Here we go again…

How’s your kiddo doing? Does he or she have any similar experiences to my GFK? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Ultimate Gluten Free Carrot Cake

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

Two and a half years ago, my husband and I started piecing together that our then 8-year old son reacted negatively to gluten. After weighing the options of having him run through a slew of non-exact testing or eliminate gluten from his diet, we decided on the latter.

For over two years, my oldest was on a gluten-free diet. At the start of this year, my husband and I decided that it was time for our son to go through testing for Celiac’s Disease. Next year, he’ll start middle school, and he’s now old enough to understand the purpose of the tests. In the fall, we started taking a monthly drive to see a pediatric gastroenterologist whose practice is about two hours away. Due to the progression of the tests, and, finally his endoscopy, we made the trip three times this month alone! It’s been a lot to say the least.

Well, long story short little did we know that all this investigating for our son would lead to my husband’s gluten issues surfacing. My husband has had to eliminate gluten from his diet too, because it looks like he probably has Celiac’s Disease.

Well, this wife’s heart aches, because he takes such good care of himself. He watches what he eats, he works out, and he even takes supplements. It was a total shock to find out that he could be sick too. Armed with this newfound knowledge, he didn’t waste any time “going” gluten free. As I mentioned before, our home has been predominately gluten free for over two years now, so making the switch was as easy as deciding to do it.

However, the timing couldn’t be worse, as he found out this information two weeks before his birthday. This man, who takes uber care of himself only eats cake once a year–on his birthday, of course. This wouldn’t be such a hard adjustment, if he would eat normal cake, but no, he loves carrot cake.

All of my baker friends out there know that this is a particularly challenging cake to replicate, since there are so many elements that build its flavor.

Honestly, I felt defeated before I even got started, because I was sure this was going to end badly (as so many of my first time GF recipes do). I took a look at my go-to recipe for Carrot Cake from the 2004 Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl. Could I just substitute Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour in place of the recipes flour? I took a couple of days to ponder this, because honestly: I HATE WASTING FOOD and MONEY. When I fail at a recipe, I really beat myself up. (My chickens are usually happy, but, quite honestly, I’d rather the humans in the house enjoy the treats over them.)

As I thought about the recipe, I wondered what could go wrong with the cake if I just substituted the flour. As my GF Tribe knows, it could be too grainy, it could fall apart, it could taste kind weird, and the list goes on… With carrot cake, there are so many flavors to pull from, that I wasn’t too concerned about the cake tasting blah. I was concerned that it would be dry and grainy though. Recently, I have figured out how to make moist cupcakes that are impossible to keep in my house, because they get devoured so quickly. The trick is super simple… I use a banana and cut down on the other sugar in the recipe. So far, no one has noticed the banana. They are too busy inhaling the goodies. So, I figured it was worth a shot in this recipe too. I also used another moistening trick that my father-in-law figured out by accident, use sesame oil. Now, because of the depth of the flavor and the price, I only use a fraction of this oil and supplement with vegetable oil (from Wegmans) to make up the difference.

Well, I took a chance on these substitutions and something amazing happened! I was able to convert my traditional carrot cake recipe, with a few modifications, to this new Ultimate Gluten Free version. 😊😍😊😍 I’m tooting my horn here, friends, it tastes amazing!

Last week we had a dinner party for my husband, and everyone loved the cake, even the non-gluten freers wanted seconds. My heart is full that I was able to replicate one of my hubby’s favorites and still give him a ton of birthday love. #glutenfree #gffamily #gfrecipes 🎂💕🎂

So, here’s what I did. Please remember to check all of your labels to ensure the ingredients are gluten free. Most of these items are naturally gluten free, but it is worth a double check . If you are cooking this for someone who has Celiac Disease, they might need you to use separate cookware, utensils, and prep areas to ensure that there is no cross contamination. Good luck and please let me know in the comments below how it turns out for you.

Ultimate Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Moist and delicious cake choke full of extras makes this gluten free treat a stand out among others. With cream cheese frosting and pecan crumbles,  this cake is a must try. 
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


For Cake

  • 2 cups Bob’s GF 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 banana ripe
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (~3/4 pound)
  • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple drained
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

For Frosting & Finishing

  • 2 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese softened
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 3/4 cup pecans


  • 2 9X2 inch round cake pans


To Make the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Put a rack in the center of the oven.  Grease and flour two 9-inch pans. 
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together to make sure everything is incorporated. Set aside.
  • On low level, using a stand mixer or hand mixer cream together the ripe banana (yes, use a brown one) and the sugar until it is a smooth, gooey liquid.
  • Keeping the mixer level on low, add the eggs, sesame oil, vegetable oil, vanilla, carrots, pecans, coconut, and pineapple and mix well.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while the mixer continues to mix. Push down the sides as the batter creeps up the edges to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed together.
  • Take the bowl containing the batter off of the mixer and fold it a few times. Then divide the batter evenly and pour it into the 9-inch pans.
  • Bake on the center rack for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pans. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and invert on a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting and Finishing the Cake:

  • Using a stand mixer or hand mixer set on medium-high, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until it’s a fluffy consistency similar to whipped cream.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar.
  • Place cake layer bottom-side up on the cake plate. Spread some frosting on top of this layer. Make sure to cover the whole layer. Then place the remaining layer right-side up on top and spread the rest of the frosting all over the cake.
  • Taking small handfuls of the pecans set aside for frosting, press them into the frosting around the sides of the cake.


NOTE on Pan Greasing: I use shortening, complete cover the pan with it using a paper towel and then sprinkle Bob’s GF 1-to-1 to flour in the pan. Once I make sure that the pan is completely covered in flour I discard the excess in my sink. This step make it easier for the cake to pop out of the pan when it has cooled.)
NOTE on Creaming Bananas and Sugar:  I usually run the mixer while I sift the dry ingredients. You can’t over mix it at this point.
NOTE on Adding Confectioner’s Sugar to Frosting:  Make sure to add the Confectioner’s sugar to the mixture slowly.  Otherwise, your kitchen will look like a sugar bomb was set off in it!  🙂
NOTE on Prepping Ahead:  This cake keeps well on the counter and fridge, if covered, so feel free to make it a day or so ahead of your event.
Keyword cake, carrot cake, dessert, gluten free