Gluten Free – Dairy Free Veggie Lasagna

July 10, 2014

I always knew the day would come.  That is, the day I would have to pay attention to my diet again.  Having owned restaurants for several years, I didn’t pay much attention to diets.  I was more interested in quality control and so sampled every day from the more than 100 items on our vast menus.  I pat myself on the back to say the quality was good because of this personal practice.  However, my waistline grew… seemingly on its own without my awareness.

You know, you wake up one morning and say…. how did I get like this?  Looking back on the road of tasty treats, I realize the detours I took.  So now….   the doctor says, it must be gluten free…. dairy free.    Seems as if the proteins in gluten and the casein from cow’s milk and dairy products slip through my intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream.  And then my strong immune system begins to attack my own body!!  It is happening to more and more people every day.  Sooooo…..

It has become a time to learn a new way of eating and cooking….  without gluten…. without dairy…..

New way of eating
New way of eating

Each week, I receive a basket filled with fresh organic veggies.  And am learning new ways to cook and eat.  Seems like we have been receiving a lot of those little yellow summer squashes lately, so I made a fantastic gluten free, dairy free vegetarian lasagna yesterday.  And for those of you who have been urging me to share my recipes, here goes.


First of all I want to tell you about amaranth.  Here in Mexico, you usually see amaranth, a traditional staple of the ancient Aztec diet, made into honey laden cookie bars.  But I also saw it in a huge bag near the oatmeal.  So I thought, let me try it.  It says gluten free.

First thing I did was to bread and brown the squash with the amaranth and free range duck eggs in a little olive oil.

Here is the rest of the recipe:

Saute the tomatoes that are going soft with and onion and some garlic.  When they all become very soft, add water and a little sea salt.   Let the mixture simmer for the  flavors to meld.  Also add some basil and oregano to bring out the flavors of the tomatoes.   Let sit and then blend all in a blender and put aside.

Build the lasagna like this…

1.  Tomato Sauce

2,  Breaded Squash.  You can use zucchini as well.

3.  Extra slices of fresh squash (Can you tell I had a lot of squash available?)

4.  Slices of red onions to cover the squash.

5.  Chunks of feta cheese.  (Seems as if goat cheese is okay.  Doesn’t have casein)

6.  Layer of amaranth

7.  Layer of squash

8.  Tomato sauce

9.  Get creative with the veggies you have available.  Mushrooms, tomato slices, spinach, lettuce, peppers, etc.

10.  Add some fresh basil and oregano

11.  I used some feta mixed with green onions and I think it added the exact right flavor touch.

12.  Another layer of amaranth.  If you want, you can also add another layer of tomato sauce.

13.  Dot the top with half slices of baby tomatoes

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 350 F or 180 C

Take off the cover and bake for another 30 minutes.

Served with some Kalamata Olives to put this flavor mix over the top.



New Danger: Flying Monkeys in Mexico

Monkey yoga?
Monkey yoga?

Monday morning… monkeys on the roof of my apartment building…  is this a dream?  I surprised the four of them… lounging, grooming each other, languishing in the sun… when I came up to the roof with my Nikon.

At first, they eyed me suspiciously and moved to the edge of the terracotta roof.   Two of them retired into the tree.  The other two, however, looked like they were doing monkey yoga.

Then, one began to move to the street side.  I hurried over the flat part of the roof to find two of them watching traffic go by.  At least that is what it looked like as I began to take more photos.  Just then, the automatic focus on my camera jammed causing me to go manual.

Walking across the roof
Walking across the roof

Actually, I discovered that the monkeys were planning their strategy for a successful leap into the fully fruited Alamo tree out front of Flamingos/Paparazzi Pizza on Highway 307, Puerto Aventuras, just south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico.

Watching the cars go by?
Watching the cars go by?

In a flash, however, one of the monkeys turned and started coming directly toward me.  He got to the edge of the roof, put his head down as if he wanted to head butt me.  I kept on taking photos, some blurry, some clear as I was busy adjusting the manual focus on the lens as fast as I could with a rapidly approaching target.

Does he want to head butt me?
Does he want to head butt me?

Just like brave paparazzi, I kept on clicking and the monkey retreated, joined tails with his brother and sat back down.  Then, the second monkey jumped up and turned my way.  I guess he was going to show his brother how to do things right!  With strong, determined movements that made him appear as if he was a huge spider, he came directly toward me, made menacing faces and loud noises, rose up on two feet in attack mode, showed his teeth and…

Now I know why they call them spider monkeys.  Look at this...
Now I know why they call them spider monkeys. Look at this…

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Then, stopped, turned around and went back down the roof to his brother.  It was actually rather funny but I did not laugh.

2013-09-09 10.05.48

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He did his best to scare me.  But I just kept clicking and fooling with the manual focus.  I thought to run, but knew he could outrun me. I did not resist but did not surrender either.  And I did not feel any fear.

The monkey must have thought…  “We really have a crazy one here.  I better get back to my brother and the fruit tree.”

He turned and I slowly slipped out back to the roof door.

The Alamo tree is full of fruit this time of year in front of Paparazzi Pizza on the lower floor of the apartment building on the Carreterra. The waiters tell me the monkeys come by every day to eat, sometimes more than once.  They jump from the roof into the tree, eat their fill of fruit and then walk back into Puerto Aventuras, an upscale-gated community in the heart of the Riviera Maya that is home to three hotels, numerous condominiums and houses, a golf course, marina, beach and four monkeys.


That’s a monkey for you!


Copyright 2013.  Donna Marie Carey.  All Rights Reserved.

No part of this post may be reproduced without express written permission from the author.

The Orange Dress

We had such a full night
The night before
That I decided to wait
To see you once again

Enjoying the art of waiting
Staying present in the moment yet anticipating
Listening to the sounds
The waves, the gulls, passing footsteps in the sand

I watched my breath
And floated in the pure lands
While a lone sandpiper ran quickly, then stopped
Ran quickly, then stopped

The distinct day forms
Began to blur into a dusky pinkness
The first stars twinkled
Even the sound of the sea softened

And my waiting softened too
No longer sharp anticipation
More like a smooth and natural glide into
The next phase of something big

Settling in and waiting
Would tonight be as big?
Would it be as passionate?
Would the kisses be as sweet?

And then as day was turning into night
A flash from your direction
A golden sentinel of light announcing your arrival
Your door slowly opened

And there you stood
Magnificent and Beautiful
In your new Orange party dress.
Perfect for the night after…
The Full Moon

Copyright July 2013. Donna Marie Carey. All rights reserved.

Golden Moon

Eight beautiful women walked down the beach
Dressed mostly in white,
The Caribbean breezes brushed the hair from our faces.

Some with burning incense were making figure eights in the air
Others chiming bells and cymbals
And me with a little metal Himalayan bowl making sweet sounds

We walked on the hard sand in the light surf
Silently chanting our personal mantras
Until we stopped, nestled into the sand and watched the sky

Shyly, she showed her light behind a cloud
And a little more boldly she began to emerge
In silence, we watched her show

Until finally, in her full splendor
The golden july moon shone upon us.
In silence, we absorbed her blessings.

And then she began to throw golden buttery kisses to me.
I thrilled in the ecstasy of this holy moment and thought of you
And I asked her to throw you a few golden buttery kisses too.

Did you get them?

A poem from Sonam Donnala

Copyright July 2013. Donna Marie Carey. All rights reserved.

An Open Letter to my Friends in Akumal

July 13, 2013

Dear Friends from Akumal,

I write today because I feel we share the Heart of the Riviera Maya…   Akumal the left ventricle and Puerto Aventuras the right…  if you take the point of view of looking from the ocean to the land.  I know recently there has been a lot of discussion about the ecology and economy on our coast as a result of increased tourism.   Not only do we share the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places on earth but we also share the responsibility of sustaining it, maintaining it and possibly improving it.

Economic growth has blessed us with many opportunities and various problems in the last 15 years I am aware of.  And now, we are standing at a crossroads.  Is it time to apply solutions to the problems based on time worn ideas that may have been successful in the past?  Or is it time to step back, take a breath and look to a regenerative solution?  A paradigm shift?

A regenerative solution starts with the individual – each one of us individually.  Forget the old patterns of trade-offs and ideas to minimize harm.  Instead I am encouraging what could be considered a radical idea; that is, it may be the time to establish a NEW VISION with both long term and short term goals based on today’s reality.  And that reality includes increased tourism and increased use of our natural resources.

Regeneration is inclusive.  It is about including people in the establishment of a new vision.  It is not about minimizing the opposition or justifying top down decision making.  And regeneration is not about defining outcomes beforehand.  It is more about setting a general agreed upon coherent vision.

A paradigm shift is about recognizing a NEW TRUTH.

Many of you know that I have traveled to Bhutan many times, usually about once a year.  For those of you who want to know more about Bhutan, I invite you to check out my blog at  However, for purposes of this letter, I would like to share a little about Bhutan.

Bhutan is a small Himalayan country about the size of Switzerland and has established itself as one of the most progressive thinking countries in Asia.  The fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, established Gross National Happiness as the measurement of success for his little country back in 1974.  Since that time, the idea has been embodied by a generation of Bhutanese and is even measured by the government annually as an aid in determining the the direction and focus of its programs.

Gross National Happiness is based upon four pillars – sustainable and equitable socio-economic development,  conservation of the environment, preservation and promotion of culture and good governance.    Perhaps this is an idea whose time has come for Akumal, Puerto Aventuras and other communities in the heart of the Mayan Riviera.

Perhaps, the good people of Akumal can gather together – the oldtimers and the newbies – to determine what the new vision for the town based upon a balance of good economy, care for the environment, preservation of the culture while being led by an enlightened leadership that not only values short term gains but also long term goals.  After all, leaders are a reflection of the people they lead.

Perhaps, Akumal, well known worldwide for its commitment to conservation can lead the heart of the Mayan Riviera or for that matter, the whole coast in establishing a NEW VISION, a NEW META  based on the realities of 2013.

Victor Hugo once said, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  Perhaps the time is now for Akumal to stand up and lead us all with a new balanced idea of how to live well is this old new Mayan world.

How do we thrive while living on the Mayan Riviera balancing economic growth with preserving the environment?  This is the nut we must all crack sooner or later.  What do you think, dear friends from Akumal?  Are you up to  tackling this seemingly difficult task?  The moment is hot.  The moment is now.

Sincerely and with a lot of love,


Puerto Aventuras, A City of Light

This was originally published in December 2010.


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Puerto Aventuras,  a City of Light.


Our little town, now 22 years old, has developed into quite the community.   As Victor Hugo once remarked, “There is nothing more powerful than an Idea whose time has come.”   And now, the time has come to express how fortunate we are to be in Puerto Aventuras.


From the initial vision and architectural drawings, a vibrant community has emerged, peopled with diverse and interesting characters from around the globe.  In the early days, I am told, that Puerto was mainly comprised of architects and engineers.  Now, a microcosm of the western world, many people from different nations call Puerto their home…  or their second home.


Why is this?  Is it the beautiful location on the side of the Caribbean Sea?  Is it the safety and security of a gated private town?  Is it the tranquility in the midst of a bustling Riviera Maya coast?  Maybe all of these reasons and some more private ones have attracted us here.


Some of you will remember years ago that I opened a small Reiki Center where we practiced Tibetan Yoga, Reiki, Meditation, Massage, Acupuncture and other Alternative Healing Modalities.  During this time, many interesting people passed through Puerto on their way to other destinations and I had the privilege to visit with many of them.


One day, about twelve years ago, a couple of Mayan healers came to visit me and asked me to close the door to the Reiki Center so that we could speak in private.  They showed me some ancient relics and symbols and then asked if I would accompany them to the end of the beach where the canal separated the beach from the Caleta.  There, Maria shared her vision with me as we looked down the beach to the fledgling town.  She said that “Puerto Aventuras is a City of Light.”


As Maria began to speak about her vision of Puerto Aventuras, I could feel a great sense of love.  Her husband, Carlos, was eager to move here from Puerto Morelos but Maria was firm.  She said no.   It wasn’t for them to live here.  So they asked me to pass on this information to interested people at the right time.  And now, I believe “this is an idea whose time has come.”


So what is a City of Light?  Most people feel something different here in Puerto and can’t quite say what it is.  It feels uplifting, relaxing and good.  After my first visit, I kept recalling that great feeling.  I had to come back to experience it again and again until I finally chose to live in this energy full time.  Do you know what I mean by that feeling?  …that Puerto feeling?


Whatever, our reason for being here and whatever  our theories about the energy of Puerto and this coast, I know I am grateful for the original visionaries – the architects, engineers and the holy people who all saw the City of Light in its embryo form.  Now it is up to us to determine how we live in it!


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Donna Carey is a Reiki Master, Sound Healer and Wedding Officiant who has made her home in Puerto Aventuras since 1998.    You can reach her at  or                                                                                                                       stop by Paparazzi Pizza or the  Marisqueria Flamingos, Puerto Aventuras.                                                                          Copyright Donna Marie Carey  2010.