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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious


We Have Arrived. Masked and Ready to Heal.

A Note from Sue

June 1, 2016

Just a quick update on Beth. Thanks to all your kindness and support Beth made it to a fantastic treatment center in Albany, NY called Stram Center of Integrated Medicine.

Tuesday she had her first of many sessions with Dr. Stram. The initial consultation consisted mostly of questions, fact gathering and blood tests. Yesterday Beth received a cranial sacral massage which seemed to bring some life back to her body and spirit. Soon Dr. Stram will start her on a treatment plan that is custom to her needs and infections.

Here is a shot of Beth and I during our road trip to New York. The mask you ask? Beth is very sensitive to the artificial scents and chemicals in lotions and hair products. This is one of the things that can happen to Lyme patients when the immune system gets so repressed. I forgot and put on a lotion that I thought was OK. Thirteen hours in the car gave me a lesson on how difficult it is to get the chemicals in the lotion off of your skin, as well as just what happens to her lungs with only a tiny amount! I tried rubbing alcohol, water and Beth's soap, and even tried to look for a shower. Then we realized it was on my clothes. So Beth put on a double mask, a body pillow in between us and her head out of the window, and through some teamwork got her safe and sound to the hotel with only a slight cough as a consequence. We made it to the hotel, and while one room had a previous guest who used a lot of perfume, the place was large, and the other room was scent/chemical free. We pulled all of the linens into the laundry and Beth put on her own sheets, took a double shot of Benedryl and went to sleep for a few hours.

While she was up and down with Lyme symptoms, I slept like a baby, and in the morning got to work on finding grocery stores and running errands to help get her set up in her temporary home.

Thank you again for supporting her through this!

Sue Chaitin


Where in the World is Elisabeth, the Tender Foodie?



A Note from a Tender Friend

Hi There!

My name is Sue Chaitin, a friend of the Tender Foodie, Elisabeth Veltman. Some of you know her as "Beth." You may have noticed that there haven't been many posts on this blog for awhile, and there is a reason for that. The video above is a clip from Elisabeth's past life as an opera singer. It was her last concert. The story below is about what has happened to her since then, and why we all need to become more educated about it. 

The Tender Foodie, was the start of a larger, unique business plan to help people navigate the increasingly complex road of food and disease - starting with celiac disease and multiple food allergies, and then expanding into other un-researched, but growing health issues which seem to inter-relate. Behind the blog was a business plan for "The Tender Palate" to help us more quickly get the information we need about health, exercise and the immune system, and food (like this recipe for Old Beau Steaks), and to speed up the healing journey so we all can thrive. She had to stop these plans for health reasons of her own, and before this vision was realized. She also hadn't made her personal story public, because she wanted this blog to be about the rare and wonderful experts in each area, not her specific issues alone.  She also wanted to do it without advertising, so the focus could be as objective as possible.

But now she needs our help. Here is Elisabeth's story, as written on a Go Fund Me page that I set up for her. It also has a video of her singing in her last concert. This was the first time I heard her sing, and I was absolutely floored.

I hope you will find the story helpful, and if you are able and moved by it, or have appreciated the information in this blog over the past few years, help her with some overwhelming medical expenses -- and bring her back to life.

She has told me that she will start blogging about her experience and what she is learning soon, to help thank those who are being so generous to help her. Since she can't possibly pay it back, she is determined to pay it forward as best she can.




Read the original story & updates directly on Go Fund Me


Elisabeth's Story, told by Sue "Chef" Chaitin

This is my friend Beth. I met her 4 years ago through work.  At the time I didn’t know much about her.  All I really knew was that she had an amazing career as an opera singer in New York City and is now a successful writer.  She struck me right away as an honest, smart and fun person with whom I knew I would get along. She is superbly intelligent and witty. I love being with her because she never judges, she is warm, gregarious, curious, loving, and the best friend anyone could ask for.

 As time went on, I noticed some peculiar absences in our communication and I wondered why. We would call or text regularly, and then she would just drop of the face of the earth for weeks. As time went on and as she and I became closer, I learned that Beth was keeping a secret. Many of you reading this, who know Beth, may not realize the secret, because she is very good at disguising it.

My friend Beth has suffered from complications from Lyme disease for over 20 years. In fact it was so severe she could no longer perform and had to abandon the years of hard work, study and practice; and end her accomplished singing career.

Beth has been reluctant to tell her story for fear of being judged or labeled! You see, not much is understood about Lyme disease, and her story started out with many misdiagnoses: from M.S. to tumours, to the flu, to "its all in your head, sweetheart." It took enormous will and courage for Beth to fight back against the medical apathy she encountered and to continue to hunt for the reasons why her body was failing her. She went from doctor to doctor, getting sicker and sicker, until a friend encouraged her to go directly to an immunologist / infectious disease specialist.  She was so ill, she could hardly walk and almost didn't make it to the cab, let alone her appointment.  The immunologist was the first to understand the severity of her condition, and knew what to test for. The physician asked her to sit down because there would be bad news. Beth found out that she had an infection in the central nervous system which could kill her within a couple of weeks. She might survive if she took some immediate steps.  She took those steps, fought to stay on this planet, and had to radically change her life to do so. We now know that this infection is often related to Lyme Disease - the two diseases can work in tandem by suppressing the immune system, and the CNS infection most likely opened the door for the Lyme. She had loved to hike, and at some point must have been bitten by a tick, but didn't know it. This frustrating medical journey has led to long debilitating periods where she could hardly lift her head, and which still rob Beth of the ability to function on a daily basis in a way that we all take for granted.

As I have educated myself about Lyme Disease, I cannot imagine how Beth continues to soldier on as she does. While many can recover from Lyme with immediate intervention, some people end up with a chronic, devastating illness, with sometimes invisible, but far reaching complications.

If you want to get a good feel for what it’s like to live with chronic Lyme disease I suggest you watch the following video journal of another person who suffered in a similar way:

The fact is, Lyme disease is as serious as cancer or heart disease, but it is not taken seriously by much of the medical community nor by insurance companies.

Beth’s complications continue to worsen. She is reacting to most foods, and can't be in the room with even a trace of certain perfumes, air fresheners or detergents because she has developed serious allergies to chemicals in them. Right now, she is getting necessary IV and supplemental treatment that is helping her function until she can get more comprehensive testing and accurately targeted treatment. Without any treatment, or if she has to skip them because of lack of funds,  she has episodes where she cannot get out of bed for weeks with terrifying symptoms. She has been temporarily and partially blind and paralyzed; has had weakness in the muscles that difficult or impossible to walk, and can get muscle spasms so terrible it stops her breathing; her heart and lungs get distressed, she has tremors, palpitations, nausea, fever, fatigue, body aches and pains that make even rolling over or normal movement feel impossible. It has cost Beth between $20,000 and $40,000, depending upon the severity, just for out-of-pocket medical expenses every year. This has been financially and emotionally, as well as physically devastating. Beth is not a victim. This has been a convergence of very difficult circumstances that are simply overwhelming.

You can read more about some of the complications of misdiagnosis here:

There is good news, however. There has been advancement in treatment for Lyme Disease and its companion infections, thanks to a rare group of physicians who have the right mix of skills and passion to help this overlooked community of patients. With the right medical testing and treatment, she can go into remission, help her immune system heal, and become strong and fully herself again. With the help of an expert physician in this complex disease, Beth still has a chance to have a very full life, and with proper management, never have to suffer like this again. However, she cannot let this disease progress any further and needs this help as soon as possible.

Insurance will not cover any of Beth’s medical bills because they consider Lyme to be difficult to catch, but easy to treat. As a result, they will only cover 30 days of Lyme Disease treatment (antibiotics), which will not work for someone who has been misdiagnosed for as long as she has been. There are multiple co-infections and complications from a missed Lyme diagnosis that can be life threatening, especially as the immune system breaks down. And her immune system is breaking down. I would hate for Beth to die because of lack of money and the humiliation she feels from this disease.  Therefore I have encouraged her to allow me to tell her story and to ask for your help.

I'm afraid if Beth continues in this way and does not get the medical attention that she needs, she will die.

 Although she has had help from a couple of wonderful physicians in the past, there are very few physicians with the training and knowlege for difficult Lyme cases. They are quite rare. Physicians need to be experts in infectious disease, as well as Lyme, and understand how antibiotics/drugs work with each type of infection - and how they don't work, and what to do about it. They need to understand how the delicate immune system is altered and how to bring it back into balance. They need to know exactly what to test for and how to read the symptoms for each co-infection, and there are a lot of those to choose from. The physician needs experience to know that the infections, some of which are similar to malaria, can get into every system in the body, including muscles, nerves,  joints, organs, heart, brain and gut - if left unchecked. Beth hasn't been able to find one of these experts local to her in Michigan. But, after much research and evaluation, she has found a physician/M.D. who can help. The medical facility is in Albany, New York, and is called the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine. It specializes in Lyme Disease and has proven to be a success with patients with long-term, complex issues who have suffered like Beth. Treatment is expected to be $32,000 over a two-four month period. Adding in her travel and temporary housing expenses, Beth will need $50,000 to make it feasible. Anything over that amount will be put toward future maintenance treatments that are  out-of-pocket for her. She had enough funding to make her first appointment on May 31, and is very positive about the help she will be receiving there.

Note: She originally had an appointment with another great doctor in Florida, but since the campaign began, heard many success stories about the protocol that this center was using so when an appointment with Dr Stram, M.D. opened up, she grabbed it. For updates on her progress, visit her GofundMe page.

Beth tends to focus on the needs of others, rather than her own. She also has a lot of pride, and does not want to ask for your money.  So I will! Please give whatever you can . . . if you can, to help Beth. Please help save a kind, loving, and talented woman who has so much to give.




Just a note to thank you all for following this blog! You may have noticed a gap in the posts, and a few of you have asked me where I've been. I had to take an unexpected and sudden leave in 2014 to deal with a few personal things, but plan to be back on board as soon as possible. Hopefully in a couple of months. So, stay tuned, send good vibes to the community, and use the search to look through the tons of information on the site that could be helpful to you. Feel free to drop comments and questions, I check regularly. (To search look right)==>.


Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

The smell of roasting sweet potatoes with coconut oil has a lovely hint of toasted marshmallow. Maybe that's why I love them so much!

There are a lot of wonderful sweet potato ways. Today, they are big "fries," but tomorrow, it's chips with cinnamon, sea salt and nutmeg, served with a dollop of cashew butter (my favorite).

Give this one a try and share how it goes! So simple, so quick, so delish.




5 organic sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters, and if a big tater, eigths (I like to use jewel or garnet, but any orange fleshed sweet potato will be yummy.) Make 'em fry size.

2 TBS of coconut oil

2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment (I use If You Care's unbleached, compostable parchment)

2. Place the fries on the sheet, and rub each slice with the coconut oil so it is well coated.

3. Sprinkle with sea salt, turning to cover all sides

4. Bake at 425* F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

How do you like your sweet potatoes!  Share your wicked skills in the comments!


1. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, ventilated space and they will last up to two weeks. Try not to store in the refrigerator as it could make the core hard. Since I don't have a root cellar, nor air conditioning, I will store mine in the fridge in a basket, but use them in a matter of days.

2. Japanese sweet potatoes work well as fries, too, but they have a very different taste and are much more starchy. So, for those on gut healing diets that need to avoid starch, the orange fleshed potato is a better choice.

 3. Bacon Fat. Instead of coconut oil, bacon fat is simply fabulous with sweet potatoes. If you make bacon this way, the fat is easy to save and is a cleaner draw.

4. If you just want one. You can just make one.



Can We Help Stop the Destruction of Monarch Butterflies?

Me, at the Frederick Meijer Gardens butterfly exhibit several years ago. The butterly stayed in that exact position for an entire hour. Don't remember the type of butterly this is, does anyone happen to know?

"Industrial agricultural giant Dow Chemical unveiled its newest toxic herbicide, Enlist Duo, which would destroy milkweed plants that monarch butterflies need to survive. And monarch populations are crashing from nearly 1 billion butterflies 20 years ago to just 57 million last winter. Tell Dow's CEO to shelve the company's plan for selling this potent chemical cocktail — before it wreaks more destruction on monarchs."

~Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)


I never thought, not in a million years, that I would be saying, "help save the butterflies" or be writing about the destruction of our great pollinators, the honey bees. But I have been, and the quote above prompted me to sign this petition created by the NRDC, an organization that does incredible work to help protect our ecosystem, of which we are a part. I think sometimes we humans forget this. I sign many petitions that I believe in to do my part to protect our health, but today, I thought I'd share what I wrote to the Andrew Livaris, President, CEO, and Chairman of Dow Chemical. If you would like to join me in signing this petition, here is the link. If you would like, help more people understand your thoughts by copying what you wrote in your letter to Mr. Livaris, below in the comments. Thanks for reading and considering a signature.

Click here to sign the NRDC petition.


Dear Mr. Livaris,

I imagine that you have noticed the decline in butterflies in the recent years, and if you haven't, perhaps it would be good if you spent a little more time outside? Butterflies used to flock to fields where I've lived for the last 10 years, where no pesticides were used. Today, seeing a butterfly gives you the feeling that you are sighting the rare white tiger... elation, then sadness. Unlike tigers, butterflies and bees should be commonplace in our (national) ecosystem.

 Also, have you noticed the rise in autoimmune disease and food allergies? If you haven't, perhaps it would be good if you spoke to more actual people. Learned a little more about the gut damage that people are experiencing. Maybe look at some health data and step back to ask, "Could Dow, actually be a part of ruining peoples lives, killing species, and hurting our national and global health?" Even if your experts claim that there is no evidence to support this, you need to ask yourself this question like many of us do every day, when we recycle, when we choose not to litter, when we choose not to eat antibiotic fed chicken. If you haven't asked yourself this question, "Could Dow.. could I.. be a part of hurting entire species and contributing to the serious ill health of people?" Then perhaps you should. You are a powerful man. It is your responsibility to ask this question. If you haven't, then ask yourself this, "Why am I not ashamed?"

[the following is text from the NRDC]

Please shelve your plans for selling Enlist Duo, a new generation of toxic weed killer, in light of the disastrous threat it poses to monarch butterflies. The skyrocketing use of glyphosate, one of the key components in Enlist Duo, has already led to a massive decline of milkweed, a key factor in the collapse of monarch populations. The fact that your company is rushing headlong to introduce a chemical cocktail that will wreak further destruction on milkweed and poses potentially serious risks to human health is simply unconscionable. I urge you to help avert this ecological disaster by keeping Enlist Duo off the market. Thank you.

Elisabeth Veltman


More on the NRDC's action on the part of Monarchs

EPA Denies NRDC's Petition to Save Monarch Butterflies

NRDCs Lawsuit against the EPA


Some News on Bees

Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms (New York Times)

Environmental Groups want Pesticide Makers to Release Bee Death Studies (CTV News, London, Ontario)