the practice of gratitude

By Kathryn Yingst

Years back, a friend of mine shared that she was keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each evening, she would write down two or three things that she felt thankful for. At the time, what struck me most was that my friend had just lost her young husband, having become a widow and single mom to two small children. I wondered, what could she be writing? How could she possibly feel grateful during such a heartbreaking time in her life? 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought of my friend and her journal. We’ve seen news reports of the cruel atrocity in Israel and ensuing destruction in Gaza. Closer to home, our hearts have gone out to Lewiston, Maine as they became the latest U.S. city to be touched by the tragedy of gun violence. Perhaps in our own homes, we might be experiencing new or ongoing challenges. How–when life feels especially heavy–do we find gratitude?

I believe it is a practice.

My friend’s first few days of gratitude journaling were likely written with considerable effort. Maybe those first entries even felt a bit mechanical as she tried to think of what she felt thankful for. But she kept writing. Every day, she practiced–finding stillness within herself–and she observed what she found. 

With practice we, too, become mindful of the gifts within and around us. Gratitude journaling is one way to practice. Other practices might include meditation, nature walks, or creative arts. Or simply to try to be completely present as we go about our day, noticing: the aroma of dinner simmering, the smile of our partner or friend, the cozy warmth of a scarf on a blustery day…

Through practice we become aware of the sacred within ourselves, in our connections to one another, and in the world around us. It is to this well of gratitude we can return, again and again.

We are thankful for each of you–

From our QFH family to yours,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Quinn, Dr. Marley, Dr. Marcoullier

Nancy, Kathryn, Rachel, and Jackie



Reflections on Gratitude


From Rachel: 

In recent days, our world has seen so much tragedy–so much sadness and despair. This has led to a recent trend on social media where people are posting their “Glimmers.” A Glimmer has been defined as “a micro-moment where you are fully present – a moment of awe where you feel joy, gratitude and peace. These moments can help cue our nervous system to feel calm – and when you start looking for them, they will appear almost everywhere you look.” 

I have always looked for joy in “little things.” The way the sun shines on the ocean, creating millions of tiny diamonds on the surface. The smell of freshly cut firewood. Standing on a mountaintop in late Spring and realizing the roar I’m hearing isn’t traffic, or wind — but it is the rushing of all the water in the mountains. The moment just before the sun breaks over the horizon at sunrise, or dips below it at sunset, making the clouds look like they are ablaze. Walking in Portland and spotting a heart in the cracks of the sidewalk.

I am always thankful for the continued good health of my family, and the time I get to spend with them. I am also deeply thankful for the small things–these glimmers. Small moments of joy and awe, which remind me that the little things aren’t so little after all. 


From Dr. Quinn:

In the day to day activities that keep me flying through life, I find gratitude in the many connections I make. Connections with friends as we laugh hysterically while talking about the importance of maintaining our skeletal muscle mass while slouching in our comfortable chairs! The connections with my patients who take the time to share in deep and meaningful ways. I am so grateful for all I learn from my kids who remind me to take time for puzzles, to run outside to see a rainbow, to boogie board when the water is really cold, and to be present in the many precious moments as they are growing up.


From Dr. Marley:

With all the heartbreaking things going on in the world, I am grateful everyday that I can rock my healthy baby to sleep in a warm house, in a safe neighborhood. 


From Nancy:

I sat in my living room this morning and watched the sun rise. I began to count my blessings…too many to list, but here are some highlights:

I am thankful that our days are bookended by sunrises and sunsets.

I am thankful for my newly renovated kitchen that gives me the space to prepare meals for those who need special care. 

I am thankful for a job where I am valued, where I can minister to our patients, and where I can earn a paycheck that I can use to purchase the food I prepare.

And I am thankful to be healthy enough to get up every morning and go about my day.


From Kathryn:

I am grateful for the kindness and company of friends and family. For the scent of beach roses. For hot tea and wool socks in November. For my elderly dog who always waits for me to go to bed, my rambunctious dog who gives the best nose boops, and my fluffy cat who is the boss of me. I am grateful for the beauty in nature–all creatures and creation—and for the tiny everyday miracles we witness unfolding in this life.


Holiday Recipes


Rachel’s Favorite Pumpkin Cake


  • 3C sugar
  • 1C oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg 
  • 3.5C flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 can 100% pumpkin
  • ⅔ C water

In a large bowl, mix ingredients in the order given. Beat until smooth. Grease bottom (only) of a 10” cake ring pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until done.



Happy Holidays from Quinn Family Health!

Many of us look forward to the holidays to celebrate cherished traditions. Sometimes, we may take  the opportunity to begin new ones. What is universal among us is our desire to seek out friends and family to share these moments with. 

What do you look forward to during this season? Do you eagerly await Mom’s shortbread cookies? Seeing old friends from school? Perhaps attending a holiday concert?

Our staff has shared a few recipes that make us happy, served with a side of good vibes.

We wish you and yours joy and good health on all the festive days, and on every day in between. 

-Dr. Jenn, Dr. Alyssa, Nancy, Rachel, Jackie, and Kathryn


My Grandmother’s Table

-Kathryn Yingst, QFH Front Desk

The occasions
were silky and ribboned
like gifts—
platters and people
draping the dining room
in holiday flourish—
the silver
of my nostalgia.
But the texture
of my childhood
emerged from the grain
of four simple chairs
around Mama’s kitchen table.
It was there I was nourished;
it was there I was fed.
When you grow up Italian,
love is measured in meatballs.
Love was the baked eggplant
stretched to share,
even after guests stopped by,
sitting on the piano bench
folding their legs like sheet music
in order to fit.
We always left full.
At Mama’s table,
love was the fragrant pot of jambot
but it was also the play grimaces
my grandfather made to me
while eating his least favorite dish.
Nourishment came from being together
at one table
fed by ladles of belonging.
I wish I could tell my grandparents
what sitting at their table meant to me.
That I never take for granted
what it means to feel welcome.
How they showed me
there is always room, and there is always enough.
That I am grateful, every day
for the meatballs.



(Don’t let the raisins scare you. They, and the pignoli nuts, make this recipe delicious! All amounts are approximate. My ancestors never measured!)

Ingredients for the meatballs

  • 1 – 1 ½ pounds lean ground meat (a mixture of beef and pork works well)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (chop up your favorite GF bread in the food processor)
  • ½ cup seasoned GF breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese (or dairy free parmesan)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pignoli nuts
  • Large handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • Large handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil 
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 large cans of quality tomatoes, crushed (or tomato sauce style)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions for the meatballs

      1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. If the mixture seems too dry, add a small amount of water.
      2. Form meatballs, and place them in a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
      3. Bake at 375 degrees, turning often, until golden brown.

Instructions for the tomato sauce

      1. While the meatballs are baking, add olive oil to a large saucepan and heat on medium.
      2. Add onion and garlic. Stir to avoid burning.
      3. Add chopped parsley and canned tomatoes.
      4. Add salt and pepper, basil, and oregano. Adjust seasonings to taste.
      5. Once the meatballs have browned, add them to the sauce and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour. Do not cover the pan.
      6. Serve over your favorite GF pasta or veggie “noodles” with additional parmesan, if desired.



GLUTEN FREE FUDGE CAKE (We love when Nancy makes this!)

Prep time: 15 min Cook time: 35 min Total time: 50 min

Serves 8


      • 2 cups sugar 
      • 1 ¾ cups Cup4Cup (235 grams) or other light gluten free flour blend
      • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend has it)
      • ¾ cup good quality cocoa powder (unsweetened)
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon sea salt
      • 3 eggs, lightly beaten (room temperature)
      • 1 cup whole milk (or milk substitute of your choice)
      • ½ cup vegetable oil
      • 2 teaspoons gluten free pure vanilla extract
      • 1 cup hot coffee


      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 inch cake pans with gluten free cooking spray. Set aside.
      2. Combine the sugar, flour, xanthan gum (if using), cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Carefully whisk in the hot coffee. The batter will be runny.
      3. Evenly distribute the cake batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
      4. Make the ganache. (See recipe below)
      5. Pour the ganache over cooled cakes.


Prep time 10 min Cook time 10 min Total time 20 min


      • 9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)


      1. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum, if desired.
      2. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over the cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.  




      • Deep-dish 9-inch pie plate, greased
      • 5-6 apples, peeled and cut up (4 ½ to 5 cups)
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1 tablespoon sugar
      • ¾ cup butter, melted
      • 1 cup gluten free flour
      • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using a flour mix that already contains xanthan gum)
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 egg (jumbo)
    1. Put apples in a greased pie plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and one tablespoon of sugar.
    2. In a bowl, mix one cup of sugar, flour, xanthan gum, and butter. Blend in the unbeaten egg and a pinch of salt. Mix well and pour over the apples. (This mixture will be thick, so you’ll have to spread it with a spatula to cover all of  the apples.)
    3. Sprinkle more cinnamon over the top. 
    4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are often synonymous with overeating and overindulging, especially now during the pandemic where most of us are working from home with the refrigerator and pantry just an arm’s length away. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Here are ten tips for preventing holiday weight gain and ensuring optimal health as you enter the new year.


  1. Snack wisely – Opt for crudités with hummus or bean dip over traditional chips and dairy-based dips, and nuts & seeds over crackers & cheese. Always carry a snack with you when running errands to prevent temptations from fast food joints and convenience processed, packaged foods. Great snacks to keep on hand are: piece of fruit like banana or apple with nut butter, nuts and seeds, avocado, hard-boiled egg, raw chopped vegetables with hummus or bean dip, sliced deli meat (organic, nitrite-free whenever possible), protein bar. 
  2. Watch portions sizes & food quantity – Fill your plate primarily with non-starchy vegetables (~50-70% of plate – variety of colors, raw and cooked, at least one leafy green with every meal) and eat those first. Wait about 20 minutes before going for seconds to let your brain catch up with your stomach and recognize how full you really are. 
  3. Eat nutritionally balanced meals with a combination of complex carbohydrates/fiber, healthy fats, and protein. These provide a “time-released” source of sugar, allowing sugar to be absorbed slowly and steadily to prevent the peaks and valleys of poor blood sugar regulation.
  4. Mindful eating – Chew slowly, savor food flavors, indulge your senses, minimize distractions, and enjoy the company of others. 
  5. Limit & watch alcohol intake – Alcoholic drinks are big sources of calories from sugar with no nutritional value. The calories add up quickly and it’s easy to lose track of just how much sugar you’re consuming. Biggest offenders are holiday cocktails that are mixed with sodas or juices, but beer and wine can be problematic too. When trying to prevent weight gain, it’s best to watch liquid caloric intake. 
  6. Limit desserts and sweets – Opt for one of your favorites instead of trying one of everything. A lot of traditional dessert recipes can be made “healthier” by using whole grain, gluten-free, or nut flours; nut and seed butters; and honey and maple syrup as sweeteners, where a little goes a long way. In general, stay away from desserts made of simple carbohydrates, including sugars and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients.
  7. “Health-ify” your cooking techniques – Instead of frying, opt for cooking methods like baking, roasting, grilling, or steaming. Instead of butter and salt, use spices and herbs to create great flavors in your meals. Most spices and herbs have additional health promoting benefits, from decreasing inflammation to stimulating your metabolism, making them the easiest way to use food as medicine!
  8. Sharing – Bring an appetizer, dessert, or dish to share at dinner parties, one that you know is healthy and that you can eat without feelings of anxiety or guilt. This is especially important if you have food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances. This way you won’t find yourself tempted by other dishes or going hungry. 
  9. Incorporate physical activity with family and friends – Quality time around the holidays is not just lying around on the couch, watching TV. Take group walks/hikes or play football and other games in your backyard.
  10. Don’t neglect your other determinants of health like adequate sleep, regular exercise, and stress management. Stick to your normal, non-holiday routine and make holiday indulgences the exception, not the norm.


Written by Dr. Alyssa Christoforou