Archive for Nutrition

Hey, I’m a FunGuy! A delicious vegan mushroom soup for your health

All mushrooms contain selenium, which is a powerful Immune system-supporting antioxidant! They also contain varying degrees of fiber, and B & D vitamins. Mushrooms also have a high concentration of lectins which bind to abnormal cells. If you’re really interested in everything mushrooms can do for us in all their fungal glory, check out this TED talk on the power of mushrooms by mycologist, Paul Stamets.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the health benefits of mushrooms during my 3 pm slump. This is when Alba is napping, the winter day is darkening, and I want to be napping too, but I should be WRITING (or folding laundry or working out). Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee mix plus my keto creamer is a way to enjoy coffee while SIMULTANEOUSLY enjoying some nutritional benefits. I definitely recommend giving this (or any organic brand) a try so that your coffee routine adds to your health instead of working against it!

This week I’m having mushroom soup for breakfast! This is sort of the same concept of a smoothie: something easy to travel with and a smooth texture to ease you back into meal time after your nightly fast. However, if you ascribe to digestive theories of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), then having fruit or anything cold for breakfast is not working in your best digestive interest. In order to balance my digestive xi (chee), I always have something WARM (above body temp) in the morning. Soup gives me the benefits of a warm breakfast, along with the healing qualities of the broth, and delicious nutrient rich veggies like mushrooms. I also love having my “creamy” cauliflowerpumpkin lemongrass or broccoli cheddar soups in the morning. This specific Mushroom soup recipe I’ve provided below is for my Follicular Phase, to balance estrogen and progesterone. You can read more about that at my Seed Cycling post.

Mushroom and Pumpkin Seed Soup

  • 16 oz (2 grocery store packs) of mushrooms- I used a Baby Bella, oyster, shiitake, and Cremini mix.
  • 3 cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • *(optional) Mushroom Umami spice powder from Trader Joes
  • optional 1/4 cup dry sherry

Instructions:

  1. In a soup pot on medium heat,  use olive oil or other fat to cook chopped onion until translucent
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and diced garlic, cooking until tender
  3. Add vegetable broth, spices, and thyme
  4. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, add pumpkin seeds and cream soup until smooth with an immersion blender (or in your food processor/ blender)
  6. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and pumpkin seed

 

*I love this salt-free spice mixture from Trader Joes! It is full of flavor without added sodium! I recommend using it on Avocado toast or chicken breast!

 

Seed Cycling for your Hormones in 2019

This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite supplements and tips for optimal health, energy, and digestion. Everything is natural and food based, tried and tested by yours truly.

The first tip I’m sharing is to use seed cycling in support of your natural moon (menstrual) cycle. When we decided to try to conceive, I learned that I had low progesterone levels, and some pretty high estrogen levels. Because other hormonal imbalances and syndromes occur in my immediate family, I took the numbers very seriously, and decided to research ways to balance my hormones. Seed cycling is a natural way to help balance your hormones while adding some nutrition to your daily meal routine. Seeds taste great on top of salads, oatmeal, mixed into yogurt, and ground into smoothies, soups, and sauces. If you ever experience PMS, anovulation, menstrual cramps, hot flashes, mittleshmerz (ovulatory pain and mood swings), or hormonal acne, your hormones may be out of whack, and you can confirm with a quick blood test! Read more below on how you can optimize “seed cycling” for hormonal harmony!

*Many people utilize birth control to balance hormones, and that’s great if it works for you, but there are also some natural ways that can help create small changes and ripple effects in your hormonal health if you are NOT using birth control.

How it Works

The Follicular Phase refers to Day 1 (first day of period)-14 of your cycle, as you produce follicles/eggs. This phase is estrogen dominant. I use ground flax in my breakfast oatmeal and smoothies, which binds up extra estrogen, and pumpkin seeds on my salads and soups, which promote progesterone production. Check out my SOUPER easy Mushroom Pumpkin Seed soup that I’m having this week and my vegan protein energy balls with ground flax!

The Luteal Phase is approximately day 15 (or the midpoint of your cycle) to the last day before your period starts. This phase is progesterone dominant, as it is the phase of the cycle during which you would hypothetically conceive post-ovulation. During this phase, I use ground sesame seeds in cookies, soups, and sauces, which binds up that extra estrogen, as well sunflower seeds in baked good and on salads. Check out my Sesame Sunflower Cookie recipe here.

Why it Works

Lignans are a group of phytochemicals shown to have weakly estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties. When seed hulls containing these phytochemicals are digested and absorbed in the intestinal tract, progesterone/estradiol ratios are positively effected and mid follicular phase testosterone is higher. The seed hulls naturally bind up extra hormones that cause imbalance and help us with mid-cycle and PMS symptoms like cramps, acne, anovulation, short luteal phases, irregular cycles, and more.

If you want to utilize the seed hulls, it is best that you grind your seeds up with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

Letting go of what doesn’t serve us: Inflammatory Foods

3 years ago this month, when I left the Department of Nutrition in UNC’s School of Public Health and School of Medicine, a brilliant new hire was bringing in millions of dollars for microbiome research.

7 years ago this month (December 2011), I began a transformative health journey to reverse candida overgrowth and strengthen my digestive and immune systems after years of battling food allergies, sickness, and IBS.

As the years have gone by, more friends and family members have come to me curious about healing their gut and replenishing the microbiome with the AIP and paleo diets for a variety of chronic issues, diseases, and syndromes. If you follow health and wellness writers and blogs, the same info is everywhere.  I think interest is increasing for a combination of reasons

1) My peer group is aging into more issues and syndromes like PCOS, Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos, fungal overgrowth, IBD/IBS, etc. and we have a higher standard for optimal health, both mental and physical

2) The  knowledge and understanding of the microbiome and the influence that our gut bacteria balance has over all of our body systems is starting to become more common knowledge and food therapy is also more common. Of course, you will still come across the occasional 70 year old OBGYN (like I did) who says verbatim, “There was one article written in the 1980’s about microbiome and asthma and it’s not substantiated.” (Really sir, when did you last use your downtime to read journals containing microbiome research- 35 years ago?) But overall, a quick look on PubMed will show you that attention to microbiome research and nutritional therapy is actually uncovering a lot of helpful solutions for all kinds of chronic and inflammatory diseases.

In fact, This article on Autoimmune and cardiovascular disease as they relate to microbiome was published just last week! Point being, if you are facing a syndrome, disease, or just general “unwellness” and your doctor doesn’t know anything about the microbiome research surrounding gut bacteria and its effects on inflammations and triggers on the immune system, you can either politely site what you’ve read on PubMed and ask that she read it too, or you can spend time to find someone who will help you dive into alternatives and support a journey that is more  fruitful to you than just treating your symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

A huge aspect of strengthening the microbiome is in probiotics and prebiotics. It’s common knowledge that a lifetime of frequent antibiotic use can do serious damage to the good bacteria we carry around in our guts from birth. This is why the SCD diet, which I began on, emphasizes homemade yogurt. Because I’m not a huge yogurt fan, I have include kombucha and pickled vegetables in my daily routine in order to keep probiotic consumption up. It is amazing how much better I feel with pre and probiotics, in addition to my doctor recommended VSL3 probiotic.

Some great prebiotics to feed your gut bacteria? cacao, apples, oats, chicory root, garlic, and dandelion greens.

Frankly said, the pre/probiotic routine is just not enough to combat putting certain foods into your body. I think everyone knows that fried foods and fake foods (highly processed/packaged foods with long lists of ingredients that aren’t based in real food) are corrosive to our gut health (and microbiome). For the most part, they make us feel not great, and so we don’t eat them often, and that feels like a “good enough” approach to nutrition. However, the most common nutritional healing and therapy advice you will come across when dealing with alternative healing, holistic doctors, functional medicine, and Chinese medicine is to GIVE UP SUGAR AND DAIRY, and often WHEAT. So in the rest of this post I’m going to be addressing:

  1. Why these 3 things are inflammatory to our systems and how that works
  2. What changes you can expect from elimination if you need to try it for health reasons
  3. Clarifying some incorrect notions of what eliminating these foods mean.
    – ie a gluten free diet is NOT necessarily an anti-inflammatory diet
    – most people can give up lactose and NOT dairy entirely, which means eating almost nil lactose containing foods like yogurt, butter, and aged cheese. This of course does not apply to the population of real dairy allergies.

1.

I mentioned on social media last week that my husband suffers from chronic kidney stones. He also has chronic eczema that he has been able to control  after giving up lactose. After visiting a biological medicine practitioner and acupuncturist, Matt was encouraged to give up the other two ghosts: wheat and sugar (in addition to receiving some herbs and treatment). So why is this specific nutritional therapy almost always the suggestion from professionals for everyone who is suffering from systemic syndromes and sickness?

The basic answer is simple: because all disease is linked to inflammation, from obesity and hormone disruption to cardiovascular and autoimmune disease. And food-based healing of inflammation leans heavily on giving up the hard-to-digest, short chain sugars (fructans, lactose) that appear in dairy, some grains and processed foods, and obviously in refined sugar, which is a favorite food of bacteria to feed on. Food-based healing is increasing in popularity since we have studied and determined the correlation between the Standard American Diet, inflammation, and increasing disease for 30 or more years now. Even if you don’t have an “allergy” or “intolerance” to any of these inflammatory foods, the truth is that ANY body must work harder in order to digest the short chain sugars, and if your body is fighting a syndrome, disease, imbalance, or inflammation (including obesity), then your body should not be feeding gut inflammation and working extra hard just to process these sugars.

2.

First of all, elimination and “letting go of what does not serve us”  is freeing and empowering. It does NOT have to feel like deprivation in any way. Other people will try to make you feel that way, but controlling your own health is invigorating and delicious! You’re not missing out on anything, you’re gaining better health, which is why I continue to create fun recipes without the above listed ingredients. I eat MORE and better now than I ever did before giving up lactose, sugar, legumes, and wheat. I struggled to maintain my weight on very low food intake as a teen and college student, and now I NEVER measure calories or quantities.

If you’re thinking about food-therapy, don’t be scared of depravation! You will not feel deprived or miss these ingredients after 2 weeks. After 3 weeks, you will begin to feel better and notice differences in your health. After 4-6 weeks, you will not look back! A part of my success is replacing eliminated foods with alternatives that aren’t inflammatory, like almond and coconut flour in breads and cakes, and maple syrup and honey to sweeten appropriate foods. Anecdotally, I’ve seen and talked to people who have noticed less joint pain, fewer skin problems, more comfortable digestion, increased energy, and better hormone function after 3-4 weeks. Personally, I had markers for IBD and PCOS that I reversed in my follow up integrative medicine appointments after a couple of years on a paleo/ AIP/ SCD diet.

3.

I am not “gluten-free” and “gluten-free” diets are not necessarily anti-inflammatory. I mark my recipes as #glutenfree because by definition, they are, and people with Celiac’s can enjoy anything I make because I never, ever eat wheat, and I want to reach a wide audience, including some of Matt’s family who face Celiac’s. HOWEVER, many gluten-free foods and breads contain starches, gums, refined sugars, and other unnecessary, inflammatory ingredients. Eating a homemade, whole food, bread loaf containing gluten (if you do not have Celiac’s Disease or gluten sensitivity) would be much healthier than eating something packaged, processed, and labeled as “gluten-free.” You can think of it like a Venn Diagram. Paleo, AIP, keto, and SCD are always gluten-free and anti-inflammatory, but gluten-free is not always paleo or anti-inflammatory.

At the beginning of my journey, I eliminated all dairy. I recommend this to anyone who is facing inflammation manifested in digestive or skin issues. However, as indicated in elimination diets, I slowly added back in certain forms of dairy and found that my digestion only suffered when I ate dairy containing significant lactose. I found this to be consistent with many of the people within the the AIP community and paleo community. SCD, created by a doctor for IBD and AID, includes many cheeses.  Aged cheese like brie, cheddar, and gouda, organic butter, and yogurt, all have trace amounts of lactose (like 0.0001 %) and giving up lactose rather than entirely giving up dairy is much easier! High lactose foods are milk, cream, and fresh cheeses like mozzarella.

Finally, and possibly most importantly,  I just want to add that nothing is black and white, all or nothing, 0 or 100. Matt is anxious about giving up these foods, but I tell him, it’s not like he can never taste them again! I ate processed gluten-free stuff when I was pregnant, and yes, I have gluten-free pizza and cupcakes on rare (often celebratory) occasions. There is no guilt or issue in this. It doesn’t make me a hypocrite or nullify the work I do daily and the healing food i put into my body daily. You can also be thankful for the medical help you get from hospitals IN ADDITION TO the added benefits of functional and holistic medicine. It is all good. And all there to help you. And I regret that my friends in the medical field may feel that seeking alternative help for your health is a rejection of western medicine. It’s not.

People will ALWAYS take issue with your choices, whether we’re still talking about food and medicine or anything else!  People who have not done the research will not always be supportive if you choose to go on an alternative food-based health journey. I have found that food and diet is really personal to people, but your health is the most personal thing on earth to you, and you alone are responsible for cultivating it. No one understands your journey, and no one can possibly understand what you’ve been through or how much information you have synthesized to achieve optimal health nutritionally.

I have also found that it is sometimes the people who are closest to us, who have known us the longest, and who have witnessed our incredible health and body improvements first hand, who are the most negative and least supportive. That has to be their issue and not yours. If people see you thrive and choose not to celebrate it, they’re not your people. And maybe later in their life when they are facing a health issue that can’t 100% be solved by their doctor, they will come to you for help!

I hope to start work on my NTP (Nutritional Therapy Practitioner) certification next year, and let me tell you, I will be here for ANYONE with open arms! The greatest thing I have learned on this journey is that it is All. About. Community. I have learned so much from cooking with my friend Lesley who started cooking SCD around a decade ago! And every single week I look forward to the Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe, and updates from Danielle Walker’s kitchen.

Finally, we know there is a genetic component to this stuff: Celiac’s, IBD, Hashimoto’s, cardiovascular disease, etc. and because I write this blog and save all my recipes, if any of my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren, etc. face any of the issues that Matt and I have faced, then they will have a spiritual and physical guide for nutritional healing. And that is the absolute best thing I could give to them. Part of who I am is that I love the pursuit of knowledge, and I can’t get enough of it. I hope to continue to seek degrees and certifications in the areas I love. But an even bigger part of who I am is sharing that knowledge. And If I help one person then it’s really all worth it!

 

Super Fast and Healthy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Happy Friendsgiving!

If you want to be everybody’s best friend this year, you have to make this dish! I used chickpea spiral and shell (conchiglie) pasta to make this super quick gluten-free, egg-free mac and cheese. This recipe is so much healthier than making a traditional roux, so I suggest you apply it to any mac and cheese, even if you prefer using regular noodles, because you will still benefit from the added nutritious squash and reduced cook time.

Some butternut squash mac and cheese dishes leave out dairy completely, but I still went for a mix of shredded gruyere and swiss to make this dish indulgent for the holidays. The key is the butternut squash, which adds an earthy lightness to this kid-friendly side that elevates it for adults as well. By using Trader Joe’s canned butternut squash, you create a major short cut for making a butter/egg/milk/flour based roux, and you reduce calories and increase nutrition in this dish. I can’t recommend this enough for your Thanksgiving table and loved ones!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

You will need 45 minutes and…

  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice. I use Banza chickpea spirals and shells with one ingredient
  • 1 can of pureed butternut squash (pumpkin will work if you do not have access!)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup veggie stock
  • 2.5 cups of shredded cheese ( I use a mixture of gruyere and swiss)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook pasta so that it is quite al-dente
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Drain pasta
  4. In a bowl, combine butternut squash puree, spices, salt and pepper to taste, stock, and half of the cooked pasta into butternut mixture and then pour into a baking dish
  5. Cover with remaining cheese and then cover dish with foil
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes until edges are golden brown

 

Try something NEW: 10 Alternative Thanksgiving sides and accompaniments EVERYONE will love

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away! Does anyone else’s family eat totally differently, with an array of allergies and preferences? One Vegetarian (or vegan), me, the token paleo, someone is always part-time gluten-free or Keto, various people have serious or subtle allergies to nuts (me and my cousins), or new restrictions like broccoli (also ME. I AM the problem). There is a lot to keep track of, and it’s hard to please everyone all the time. I hope that I’m bringing a solution to you in the following whole food, easy-to-make options for Thanksgiving. Whether you’re hosting, contributing to a potluck, or pulling together a “Friendsgiving” celebration, these dishes can help you to both please a crowd and branch out at the same time. It’s easy to dazzle tastebuds with loads of sugar coating or generous amounts of butter and cream, but you can also dazzle in a healthy way this holiday season. All my recipes are inspired by comfort foods and big flavors, so you can give the gift of a healthy side-dish that doesn’t “taste healthy” as my husband puts it!turmeric cocktail

For a spectacular and dazzling appetizer pair, try my Fall Turmeric Cocktail with Bacon-Wrapped Dates or shooters of Lori’s Butternut, Fennel & Leek Soup with a fennel garnish on top! For a different, but classically delicious Italian spin on traditional squash, try Acorn Squash Agrodocle, an uniquely delicious side that I recently posted.

Butternut Sage Quinoa

For a protein-packed vegetarian side (Vegan if you replace the butter with oil), try my very popular dish that everyone at Friendsgiving wanted the recipe for, Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa with Macadamia nuts

For your sometimes gluten-free, one-time vegetarian, newly keto cousin, who you never know what the hell they might eat, try my spin on my Granny’s classic Tart Cranberry Relish.

Tart Cranberry Relish

Thanksgiving can also be stressful. Whether you’re hosting, spending time with the in-laws, or navigating your own colorful family, this holiday can be tricky. It can also get monotonous with everyone clinging to their favorite tradition. This is going to make me sound like a grinch, but it’s hard for me to endorse even the most sentimental traditions when they’re often made up of non-foods: canned cranberry sauce, marshmallow/sugary toppings, evaporated/condensed milk, instant puddings, the list goes on… Tradition is important, sure. It’s also important to have a balance, which is why I like to introduce new WHOLE food recipes that are totally homemade, but easy and with no artificial ingredients. THESE are the traditions that I want the children in my family to remember and adopt so that they can have sentimental favorites that also benefit their health.

In my mind, the most important Thanksgiving tradition is the Pumpkin Pie, and thus, I think it is my most important recipe for you to try. I encourage you to whip up some full-fat coconut milk, sweetened with a bit of vanilla extract and honey or maple syrup to top it! This recipe is dairy free, vegetarian, gluten free, and paleo.

If Pumpkin pie is not your thing, I encourage you to try my newest recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding (coming 11/11) or my crowd-pleasing and nut-free Sunflower Sesame Seed Cookies

And finally, you will need some nourishment in the morning as you prepare the day’s Thanksgiving meal and watch the Parade! My Pumpkin Coffee Cake is my best recipe to date! It is melt-in-your-mouth perfection and would be an EXCELLENT way to say “Thank you” to your Thanksgiving host or “Good Morning!” to your house guests!

If this was helpful to you AT ALL, please drop a comment and let me know. It would make my holiday to know that one of the recipes I’ve created has made it to another family’s precious dinner table!

paleo pumpkin coffee cake

Acorn Squash “Agrodolce”

Agrodolce is Italian for sweet and sour. This dish is just that, with a bit of spice at the end to round out the gorgeous flavor. It’s also super easy and completely paleo, accomplishing all those flavor bombs without sugar or starchy thickeners. This is on my list for Halloween and potlucks this fall. Its something that has familiar ingredients, so it won’t scare people away, but the taste is absolutely new and different. My friends and family get so excited about this simple dish! What do you think of the way I spooked it up with the black rice underneath? Happy Halloween Week!

Acorn Squash Agrodolce

Serves 2-4 Takes 30 minutes and…

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Microwave your acorn squash for 3-4 minutes to make slicing easier!
  3. Cut Squash in half, remove all seeds and pulp and slice halves into 1/2 inch half moon slices
  4. Place squash slices on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake for 25-30 minutes until fork tender
  5. While squash bakes, make your Agrodolce: combine maple syrup, red wine vinegar, butter/oil, red pepper, nutmeg, and sage in a saucepan, on med-high and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and continue to reduce Agrodolce until syrupy and think
  7. Add currants
  8. Remove acorn squash from the oven, plate it, and then pour agrodolce syrup over it!

Additionally, you could add chopped nuts as a topper. I plated my squash over black rice for a very Halloweeny look! What do you think? Spooky, spicy, sweet?

The REAL Deal Cookies & Breast Cancer Awareness

halloween real deal chocolate chip cookiesI’m so excited that I’ll be attending Danielle Walker’s tour for the Eat What You Love cookbook, the 4th of her Paleo cookbook series. It’s her first time in Raleigh, NC! If you’re going, send me a message or comment below. I would love to meet up at the event or beforehand!

Though I take a simpler approach to my recipes, and I have enjoyed following MANY other paleo and primal influencers over these years, Danielle’s Against All Grain cookbook was my earliest inspiration and my ultimate savior for gut and autoimmune health. I am forever grateful to her for taking this journey and inspiring so many others along the way — she truly has the reigning aesthetic in primal lifestyle! I Love Danielle, her precious family, and I can’t wait to meet her! She is, without a doubt, the real deal.

To celebrate my ticket purchase (but really to keep myself away from the tempting Halloween candy we have), I made Danielle’s Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies— the nut/grain/gluten/sugar/dairy free version! I added the sugar-free chocolate Halloween sprinkles…Matt and I both love sprinkles 🙂

Find the recipe here.  Buy tickets to join me in January here.

With the month coming to a close, and All Souls’ Day approaching next week, I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this disease is still robbing us of women and mothers in their prime. One of my college roommates fought cancer and introduced me to earlier.org which encourages early screenings, and is a great place to get (re)involved with this worthy cause. Personally, breast cancer has stolen two of the women I admired most in my life in the last year. Both of these women were incredibly supportive of my journey to better health through nutrition and natural healing, and I have them to thank for getting me started on this road 4 years ago.

Maria taught me so much about being a Doula. She shared literature, stories, and experiences that, in just 3 meetings for tea/coffee, transformed me forever as a Doula and human being. We had so many common interests, and talked for hours. She was the most spiritually connected person I have ever met. And when she found out I was pregnant, she messaged me about all the things she could pass on to me as I entered motherhood, both physical gifts and spiritual ones. She left behind a son and small daughter 2 weeks after Alba was born.

My Mom’s best friend Janice encouraged me, attended my essential oils seminars, and even held one at her house in support of me. She was brilliant and vibrant, the type of person who lit the room. She gave me the cheese dome in this picture and I keep it out always (and try to keep it filled!) so that I get to remember her every day. Specifically, I want to embody her joie de vivre, and her unwillingness to deny any of the delicious and beautiful things that life has to share with us. We have to be willing to take it in like she was. We only get one chance. Take the trip, buy the art, eat the fucking cookies.

I hope to pass on a piece of each of these women to our daughter.

mary oliver quote

 

 

 

Fall Spiced Paleo Caramel Apple Butter

I had so much fun making these sweet favors for my baby shower last weekend! All of our guests were gifted my Paleo Caramel Apple Butter and my Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte mix in the adorable mini mason jars below! My family also made some incredible appetizers that I could enjoy too, which was so nice! We had a pumpkin and apple quinoa salad, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and bleu cheese stuffed dates before a beautiful cake from Edible Art. I promised I would post the Caramel Apple Butter Recipe, and it’s taken a full week, but here it is!

This apple butter is not overly sweet like some store bought brands. It contains ZERO sugar or thickeners, so it’s all natural and flavored with pumpkin pie spices. I love this as a new fall staple in our house because it’s basically just a mixture of all my favorite fall flavors, and it’s easy to make! Store this in a mason jar in the fridge for the season and enjoy it on GF toast, biscuits, ice cream, pancakes, or on a cheese plate (I love it with cheddar on a rice cracker). I have also been stirring it into my oatmeal and yogurt lately! Let me know how you like to eat your apple butter in the comments!

Paleo Caramel Apple Butter

Makes several jars full! Keep one (or two) for yourself and give the remaining as gifts!

  • 6-8 cored, chopped fuji apples
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water or apple juice
  • 4 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cardamom

For the Caramel

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. In a large pot on the stove, combine chopped apples and all remaining ingredients (except for the caramel ingredients!)
  2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  3. Stir mixture until apples are covered in liquid and allow the mixture to come to a simmer on the stovetop.
  4. Move your apple mixture to an oven safe baking dish and into the oven for 2-3 hours, until apples are browned and easily mashed. Mine took about 2 and a half hours.
  5. While your apples bake, you can make your caramel! Simply combine your coconut milk and coconut sugar in a pot on the stove. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Once your caramel is boiling, turn the stove down to “medium-low” so that your caramel is at a low simmer, and add in your vanilla and pinch of salt.
  7. Continue to stir until well-incorporated, this whole process should take less than 15 minutes.
  8. Remove your apple mixture from the oven and use an emersion blender to puree it (if you do not have an emersion blender, you can move the contents to a blender or food processor to puree)
  9. Stir in your caramel, and voila! Your Paleo Caramel Apple Butter is ready to jar and enjoy!
  • Fun fact: If you’d like to enjoy some stewed apples, simply omit caramel, take your apples out of the oven a little bit earlier (after only 30-45 minutes),  and do not puree them. This is a delicious fall side dish to serve with pork, chicken, or your breakfast oatmeal! Yum! I often do not get to make much apple butter around here because we stop the process early to eat the delicious/nutritious stewed apples!

paleo caramel apple butter

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

I can’t believe I haven’t written up this Paleo Pumpkin Pie recipe yet! Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts, and this one mixes up in 5 minutes, then bakes for about 50. It is super easy, especially if you have a pre-made paleo or gluten-free pie crust readily available!

Most of my recipes are paleo remixes on traditional recipes. Converting pumpkin pie to paleo is a pretty basic swap, so I strongly recommend trying it during this fall season. It’s just overall much healthier for everyone! The first major health swap out is coconut milk for evaporated/condensed milk. And the most impressive swap is that I used LESS THAN 1/4 cup of maple syrup to sweeten my entire pie, which means that there is less than half a tablespoon of maple syrup in each piece of pie and that is the only sweetener. That’s likely less of a glucose spike than you get from morning coffee or a piece of gum! The key to getting that great fall taste is in using quality organic pumpkin puree, which is naturally sweet, and a generous mixture of warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom. You can make this crustless, and eat it like soufflé or you can sweeten it up by serving it with a dollop of maple syrup sweetened cream.

Pregnancy has me craving ALL the sweet things, BUT my glucose tolerance test is coming up so I’ve been trying to limit carbs. Of course,  I already know I have a low glucose tolerance! Insulin resistance was a part of my lab work up that led my doctors to check me for PCOS (which I fortunately did not end up having). A big part of the reason paleo recipes work so well for me is because they eliminate the sugar and carb content of the standard american diet. I actually read in my Natural Mamas Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth that women on a whole foods or paleo regime can often trigger the gestational diabetes tests because our blood sugar, kept stable by whole foods, is so sensitive to the high sugar content in the Glucola beverage. For THAT reason, I’m cutting back on the sweets and carbs, but not removing them totally because that would make me even more sensitive to the drink! Pregnancy is confusing, y’all. Enter my perfectly sweet Paleo Pumpkin Pie!

This pie is better after it cools completely or sets up in the fridge, even though I had a hot slice right out of the oven because I couldn’t resist 🙂 Try it out this year and see if anyone notices that you didn’t use processed milk and sugar!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

You will need an hour and….

  • 1 15 oz. can or box of organic pumpkin puree. I use this one from Thrive
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (not can!) of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp each of: ground clove, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger
  • 1 pie crust- I use this recipe from Elana’s pantry, but there are also some great frozen options at health food stores! Before I was SCD/Paleo, I made pie crusts from scratch A LOT with just cold butter, water and flour, which I learned from an actual pastry chef!  It was such a beautiful, meditative process that I miss sometimes! If your body can process organic wheat flour, then I absolutely recommend making your own pie crust! You can follow Martha Stewart’s directions here, but no need to add the teaspoon of sugar she adds!
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine eggs and pumpkin puree
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and mix by hand until well incorporated
  4. Pour mixture into pie dish
  5. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes until solid (it will still jiggle some, this is not quite as solid as a regular pumpkin pie)
  6. Let it completely cool before eating and store in fridge for best consistency/ quality

paleo pumpkin pie

Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake

This is my new favorite recipe! This paleo cake is so moist and melt-in-your-mouth perfect! It is impossible to resist cutting a hot piece when you take it out of the oven (you can see the steam rising off my piece in the below photo). This coffee cake can be made in a 9 in. pie dish (like mine) or a 9 X 9 pan. The only caveat is to be patient while it cooks. It is a super moist cake, like I said, so it goes from barely looking “set” to perfect fluffy consistency very quickly. I checked at 45 minutes and it was not done, but was perfect by 53. And always use parchment paper!

You will want to hoard this cake all for yourself,  BUT it would really impress folks at a potluck party or as a gift. In fact, make 2! One for yourself, and one for some else. Spread the pumpkin love 🙂

In honor of Fall being just 2 weeks away, I’m delighted to bring you this recipe, Enjoy!

Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake

You will need 1 hour and…

  • 1 cup of organic canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: Nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cardamom  (optional)

For the Optional Crumble on Top

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line your dish in parchment paper
  2. Mix all ingredients for the crumb topping in a bowl and set aside
  3. Combine all wet ingredients of your coffee cake: pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut oil, and eggs, mixing by hand until incorporated.
  4. Add Dry ingredients the wet mixture: almond flour, baking soda, salt, spices and thoroughly mix
  5. Pour Coffee Cake Mixture into your baking dish
  6. Crumble topping slowly & evenly over the top of your cake mixture
  7. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with minimal batter on it

 

paleo pumpkin coffee cake

Fall Salad with Port-Mulled Cherries and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Traditionally, I would eat a Fall Salad on a bed of spinach, but spinach has not been my best friend through pregnancy!

Instead, I built on a bed of spring greens, and used pork loin as my protein. I cook with a lot of fish, veggies and chicken in summer, supplemented by the occasional burger (red meat), so Fall is when I bring in some more gamey proteins like bison, elk, turkey, and some beautiful free range pork. Free-ranging pigs do incredible things for the soil, and their happiness with human interaction could only be compared dogs!

I’m obsessed with the honey mustard/pork combo, so my dressing is a honey mustard vinaigrette, which is honestly just a great salad dressing to have around all the time. {recipe below}.
Caramelized red onions round out the salad in this photo. HOWEVER, I made a very important last minute addition to this salad– which is kind of the highlight of this meal — port-mulled cherries!

I recommend serving this salad with the components warm (not hot) which increases the feeling of heartiness and seasonality in the dish! These nuances help us to keep salads a year-round meal at our house. I’d love to see the different, creative ways YOU build a fall salad! Feel free to tag me on instagram if you make on yourself!

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

In a mason jar (or used and rinsed store-bought salad dressing jar, which is what I do!!!) COMBINE:

-1/4 cup olive oil

– 1/4 cup dijon

–  1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

– 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

– 2 raw garlic cloves (do not eat, just for mixing)

– pinch salt and pepper

Port-Mulled Cherries

(Perfect as a low glycemic way to sweeten your morning Oatmeal!)

In a large mason jar or air tight container, COMBINE:

-1/4 cup purified water

– 1/4 cup port wine

– 1/4 cup maple syrup

– 1 cinnamon stick

-1 star anise

– several cloves

– 1/2 inch orange peel

– 2 cups of pitted, organic, dark sweet cherries

port-mulled cherries

End of Summer Succotash

Controversial Post: Corn isn’t technically Paleo, but I allow myself a few ears of sweet corn at the end of the summer for succotash. I definitely don’t eat corn in excess and ALL my recipes are lactose and gluten free.

The flavor of my grandmother’s sweet creamed corn loaded with black pepper is something I haven’t had in 20 years, yet I can still taste it! The sweetness of the corn, shrimp, and onion play well on each other in this dish and it works as a main or a side. I think it would be a fabulous addition to any Labor Day potluck! Try the optional crab meat to amp up the flavor and sweetness even more! Or sprinkle with parmesan to make it more decadent!

End of Summer Succotash (serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side)

You will need 30 minutes and…

– 3 ears of sweet corn

– 1/2 pound of large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

– 1 small sweet onion

– 1 small zucchini

– 1 heaping Tbsp. Mayonnaise

– cilantro for garnish

– salt and black pepper

– cajun spice mix or make your own with: cayenne, paprika, garlic, oregano & thyme

– 1 jalapeño or fresno chili (optional)

– 1/2 cup of cooked crab claw meat (optional)

  1. Grilling unshucked corn is the best way to retain that sweet flavor! Just a few minutes, rotating the corn, should do it!
  2. While your corn grills, dice your onion and sauté in a pan of butter or coconut oil for 5 minutes or until translucent
  3. Add peppers, zucchini, or any other summer vegetable you need to get rid of! That is the beauty of succotash!
  4. Remove Sweet Corn from the cob and add to your pan, mix everything together and season to taste
  5. I cook the shrimp separately, boiling it for 3-4 minutes until the shrimp is PINK and curled in on itself slightly.
  6. Take your pan off the heat and mix in your cooked shrimp, (crab) & mayonnaise until succotash is creamy and totally combined
  7. Garnish with cilantro and more seasoning!

I hope you all enjoy this dish and enjoy the LAST weekend of SUMMER! I can’t wait to start posting all my fall dishes soon!

We’re Back! Happy National Ice Cream Day! (Vegan, Dairy free)

I have been absent from my blog for the last 5 months, desperately missing my Paleo community! However, it’s not without good reason, because I’ve been cooking up my biggest success yet: pregnancy announcement with dogs

 

The last 4 months of pregnancy have been brutal at times, and I have really struggled with my diet. I’ve lacked the energy to cook for myself, developed new aversions, allergies, and digestive problems, and I’ve only recently gotten over incapacitating nausea and vomiting. I’m hoping to begin working with an RD (registered dietitian) who can help me maintain a modified paleo diet throughout the rest of my journey with pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I believe that everyone, pregnant or not, should eat what makes them feel their best in mind, body, and soul. That looks different for different people. I’ve found, for me, that disconnecting with my paleo diet during my pregnancy has disconnected me from a huge part of myself and has thus: A) been detrimental to my energy and digestive health and B) not served me emotionally or spiritually.

Becoming a Mom means so many things to me. Right now, it means taking care of myself in a new, more profound way. First, so that I can nourish our little to be strong and healthy. Later, it will mean nourishing myself for optimal breastfeeding, and cultivating the energy I need to participate in my family fully. If you have recently been pregnant, raised an infant, battled food allergies, or autoimmune disease, you know how huge that energy play is for me!

I’ve learned a lot already, and I’ve still got a little over half my pregnancy to go. I’m excited to learn even more from my changing body, my baby, and my dietitian. Another great lesson in all of this: it’s so important to ask for help when you need it! I hope you will follow me on this journey! I promise to post candidly and (as) frequently (as a new Mom can). My goal is still to use this blog as a collecting space for the recipes that will comprise my future Cookbook. As a Doula, I’m excited to add new pregnancy and breastfeeding specific recipes to the repertoire!

Because eating for your best mind, body, and soul sometimes means indulging, I haven’t forgotten National Ice Cream Day! This is a special Paleo/ Vegan Ice Cream Recipe for all those celebrating on a special diet! Yes, I tried regular ice cream in early pregnancy (not with pickles) and it burned all the way down, so coconut cream it is from here on out!

Paleo/ Vegan/ Dairy Free Ice Cream

vegan paleo ice cream

  • 1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk – chilled for 30 minutes in freezer or 3 hours in fridge
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey if you are not Vegan and prefer a sweeter finish)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 cup of your fruit of your choice
  • 4 t Tapioca flour if you are not using an ice cream machine.

With an ice cream maker: 

  • Simply combine your first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend well
  • Then process through your ice cream maker

Without an ice cream maker (like me): 

  • Blend all 6 ingredients thoroughly
  • Pour coconut cream mixture into a freezer safe container and cover
  • Let freeze for 2-3 hours, and then blend again (repeat this step 1-2 more times until your ice cream reaches desired consistency)

A great way to dress up your Paleo Ice Cream is to melt some dark chocolate and/or almond butter to drizzle on top!

 

The Only Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie

paleo choc chip cookies

I have never baked a better cookie. Even when I consumed white sugar and bleached flour and god knows what else- never tasted anything better from my kitchen. These will be in my repertoire FOR-EV-ER, so I had to get the recipe down as soon as quickly as possible. These cookies are crispy and delightfully chewy, like every cookie should be!

Tis the season for decadence, right?  And these are surely that (for me). I don’t EVER eat baked goods, paleo or not. I bake cookies twice a year, which I suppose is why it took over 4 years of eating paleo to perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe! My point is, you should make these for your annual cookie swap or christmas party, for those who may be paleo or gluten-free OR you could just make them for your family and not say a word. You see, almond meal has infinitely more nutrition than white flour AND it’s way more filling, which is why after 3 cookies, I’m writing this absolutely stuffed. These are perfect for staying on a diet/regime, but they’re also fulfilling for those of us who want to walk on the wild side and indulge during the holidays.

I’ve annotated my recipe for those of you who may be like me, and not natural bakers. Thus, I’ve justified each ingredient and why you can’t sub it out– hope this helps!

PERFECT Paleo Chocolate chip cookies (makes about 18)

  • 1/2 cup of browned ghee (ghee is paleo butter because it lacks dairy and casein. Brown your ghee in a sauce pan on low heat or use butter if you are not lactose intolerant. To “brown” butter, you really just want it a shade darker than yellow/golden to achieve a caramel/nutty taste. Dark BROWN butter is actually burnt.
  • 1/4 a cup of coconut sugar ( I use trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla ( I use Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla)
  • 1/4 a cup of maple syrup ( I buy in bulk because I use it in everything)
  • 2.5 cups of almond flour ( I use Trader Joe’s. It’s 6.99 and great quality)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • himalayan sea salt
  •  1 egg and 1 egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and use parchment paper to line your baking pan. Parchment paper never fails.
  2. Combine browned butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup
  3. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white to mixture
  4. Now combine almond flour and baking soda and stir until smooth. I hand stir because electric tends to over stimulate
  5. Add chocolate chips and pinch of salt
  6. Spoon Cookie Batter onto parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are brown
  7. I make 18 cookies in two batches
  8. I salt my cookies again right after they come out, so they draw in that salt while they are cooking, and have a very sea salt/ caramel taste from the browned butter.

You wont believe the chewiness you get in these paleo cookies! It’s incredible!

 

pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, in that order: a catalogue of my favorite decorative (and edible) gourd recipes

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Acorn Squash & Bison Chili

Hey-O! The Blog went a little haywire while I was away from home celebrating our recent marriage with friends  & family in Chapel Hill, home of our alma mater UNC- Go Tarheels!

I’m back at home, settling in for some serious fall cooking-which is my favorite cooking- and some even more serious liver detoxing with fun, fall recipes! Fall is the best time to detox, because like the earth around us, we are shedding what is “dead” or no longer of use to our bodies. The best way to support general health, detox, and immunity is eating seasonally, which is why I support massive gourd consumption in the fall. I really try to limit alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and bad fats leading up to holidays. This produces a more enjoyable holiday season, and a more creative New Year’s Resolution than “Lose 5 pounds” or “Get healthy.”  I know that sometimes these large, tough, strong tasting autumnal fruits can seem overwhelming and impossible to cook, so I’ve catalogued some of my favorite recipes below.

FYI: Trader Joes sells by the gourd, not by the pound, so they are the best price I can find. The great thing about buying gourds and squashes is that you get to decorate with them until you eat them! They live for weeks as your table’s centerpiece!

Pumpkin

Enjoy a Pumpkin Smoothie, pumpkin chia pudding or a healthy PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) every morning this week!

Pumpkin Smoothie: 2 servings
1) Blend together: 1 banana, 1 handful spinach, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 2 cups of almond/hemp milk, generous cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 scoop macha powder or collagen for an extra boost!

Acorn Squash

Check out my Thanksgiving HIT, Acorn Squash Souffle 

And my Autumn staple, as published on Mind. Body. Green: Bison Chili in Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash

A big hit at any Friendsgiving is my Butternut Squash Sage Quinoa

My newest obsession is Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (Serves 4-6)

  1. Slice one butternut squash, 2 apples, and one onion
  2. Drizzle with coconut oil on baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
  3. Remove from Oven and move into a pot with 4 cups/ 1 box Veggie broth and 2 inches of grated ginger
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes to incorporate flavors.
  5. Use immersion blender or food processor to blend soup until smooth!

5 steps to cooking your spaghetti squash in 10 minutes or less

  1. Stab with a fork 5 times and microwave for 5 minutes
  2. Remove Squash from microwave with oven mitts and cut it in half/remove seeds
  3. Place both halves in a dish with 1-2 inches of water in it and microwave for 3-5 more minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with baking soda to aid digestion and use a fork to scoop out spaghetti strands
  5. Season and serve with your favorite pasta sauce

 

 

 

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

spaghetti squash bison pumpkin meatballsIf you’re interested in a dinner that is completely different and delicious, I highly recommend this one. My spaghetti squash has been staring me in the face from its resting spot on our breakfast table for some time, so I had to bite the bullet this weekend and decided on good old Spaghetti & Meatballs. I had a pound of bison in the fridge, so I decided to use that for the meatballs. Bison has more protein and less fat than beef or pork, which is great for the waistline, but not great for keeping meatballs together. Breadcrumbs usually act as a meatball adhesive, but I had seen Joy Bauer, of morning show fame, use pumpkin puree as an alternative adhesive in turkey meatballs, so I decided to try it- and I’m s glad I did!

Everyone knows that you have to brown meatballs before cooking them in your pasta sauce, so I decided that if the pumpkin meatball was going to leach out its yummy contents, then the sauce might as well be deliberately pumpkin/tomato. This may sound like an unusual combination, but Trader Joe’s actually makes a pumpkin/butternut squash/tomato sauce called Autumnal Harvest. 

The result of mixing pumpkin and nutmeg with my traditional salty tomato sauce was incredible! It provides that salty/sweet umami flavor that I love. I buy pumpkin puree in bulk for all of its many purposes, since it has a high fiber content and delicious flavor, so it always excites me to find yet another use for it! We really loved this new sauce and definitely plan on making it again. You can eat it over Spaghetti Squash like we did, for a low carb option, or over regular pasta. If you do eat it over Spaghetti Squash, then I recommend a teaspoon of baking soda sprinkled on teach side of he squash to aid digestion! I really hope you try this recipe and enjoy something a little different and autumn flavored!

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

1 Spaghetti Squash
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of pumpkin puree1 lb. of bison
1 lb. of tomatoes (roasted)
6 carrots (roasted)
1/2 cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
basil
2 tsp. Nutmeg
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Roast Tomatoes with garlic, and carrots, drizzle olive oil
  2. While Veggies roast, use your hands to mix 1/2 cup of pumpkin with 1 pound of Bison.
  3. Divide Bison into 4 equal parts and divide the 4 parts in half. This will give you 8 equal sized 1/8 lb meatballs. Roll them into balls between your palms.
  4. Heat a large skillet with olive oil on medium. When oil is hot, brown each side or your pumpkin meatball in the oil.
  5. After 30 minutes of roasting, puree your vegetables in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil, basil, 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the mixture process until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the sauce mixture to your meatballs and turn heat to simmer.
  7. While your sauce and meatballs simmer together on the stove, puncture your spaghetti squash with a fork.
  8. Microwave your spaghetti squash is a glass bowl of water for 5 minutes so that it is soft enough to cut in half.
  9. Remove Spaghetti squash from the microwave, take out all seeds with a spoon and and your baking soda.
  10. Place each half of your spaghetti squash BACK in the microwave to cook for 5 more minutes until the squash is easily removed in strings with a fork*
  11. Serve with 2 large meatballs and heaping sauce on a bed of spaghetti squash! Enjoy!

*This is the fastest and best way to cook spaghetti squash. Letting in linger in the oven does nothing for the flavor or quality!

 

Superfood;Superwoman

Image result for pumpkin pie smoothie

Admittedly, the “superfood” craze is a little silly, but it still blows my mind that adding a little tablespoon of chia seeds to my morning smoothie can afford me enough protein and fiber to really keep me full through my strenuous workouts.

My newest smoothie addition is…

Maca, a root grown high in the Peruvian mountains, used by ancient Incas to increase both fertility and virility. Today, holistics prescribe Maca root powder for chronic fatigue syndrome, fertility issues, hormone imbalance, and low libido. It’s important to start off using Maca in very small doses since it IS a potent superfood. The really great thing about increasing energy and vitality via Maca is that it does not tax the adrenals the way that caffeine does. Your energy is much more slow burning and long lasting. This is great news for the large percentage of the population suffering with adrenal fatigue, which correlates with hormone imbalance in women and causes a lot of stress on our systems.

I’ve instagrammed my use of collagen and chlorophyll in fruit smoothies. To make my smoothies more “Seasonal” this fall, I use Maca in combination with 8 oz. of almond milk, 1 banana, 1/2 a cup of pumpkin puree, a slice of ginger root, a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp. of cinnamon to create a delicious pumpkin pie smoothie. I’m really looking forward to sharing more details with you about the direct effect of Maca on my quality of life!

Vegan Balls of Energy

protein balls

I don’t know about you, but I am anything but a “ball of energy” this time of year. Every year around this time, Matt gets really excited about the giant bags of candy in super stores and buys one (or two) for our “trick-or -treaters.” I suspect (pray) being in a family-friendly neighborhood for the first time this year will bring us more than our previous record 4 trick-or-treaters.

Anyway, every year I also decide that having a bite-sized Butterfinger or a teeny-weeny Twix nightly wont bother my stomach or my monstrous aversion to sugar. Thus begins the slippery slope of the holiday season.

That’s why I am SO excited about my recipe for this perfectly nutritious snack-size “ball of energy.” You can eat 1 or 2 as a snack or dessert or have 2 or 3 for breakfast with coffee! It’s perfect for on-the-go energy and nutrition. I use plant-based protein, as opposed to whey, but I assume whey protein powder would work the same way, since this is a no-bake snack. The taste reminds me of those No Bake Oatmeal Cookies from my childhood, but these pack a punch of protein with no sugar, additives, or packaging! I made these this Sunday, so now I have a healthy go-to snack and dessert for the week. They also give me a small energy-packed morsel to enjoy before for my morning workouts!

I’ve got to be honest, it’s one week after I finished Whole 30, and almost everything in my fridge is STILL homemade! I may have the luxury of a great work schedule and no kids just yet, but I have really worked hard this year on what nutrition is right for me and my family and I’m proud of myself. Sometimes that includes a few store-bought brands, but more often then not, it involves a lot of whole food ingredients + meal prep. And I’ve happily mastered that… for now! I hope you enjoy this new recipe!

Vegan Energy Balls (Makes 20 +)

4 scoops of your favorite protein powder ( I use plant-based chocolate)
2 cups of organic oats
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground flax
1 cup of maple syrup or agave
1 cup of almond butter or other nut butter

  1. Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.
  2. Form into balls by rubbing  both sides with your cup-shaped palm.
  3. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set
  5. Now they are ready to eat and be kept in glass tupperware in your fridge!

Irish Farmer’s Beef and Barley Stew

irish farmer's beef and barlefy stewI used to think I was going to marry an Irish Farmer. Even after my first few dates with my husband! And then I met an Irish Farmer, and it wasn’t all I dreamed of…but that’s another story for another time! When I was searching for Beef and Barley stew recipes, I started to find recipes that included things like celery, potatoes, and mushrooms. I was intrigued momentarily, since so often we think in terms of “the more ingredients, the better,” but for the sake of Irish authenticity, and a clean, hearty taste, I kept it simple.

Real Irish Beef and Barley stew only requires Beef, Beef stock, and Barley. Carrots are a delicious, natural, and nutritive addition. For extra flavor, I used one sprig of Sage and two Bay Leaves. The mingled smell of sage and beef stock might be my favorite cooking scent ever.

I’d love to give you a history of the barley crop in Ireland and Scotland (yawn), but suffice it to say: barley was the main crop until it was replaced by the potato, which has a lower blight probability since it grows underground. Barley IS a grain, and is therefore NOT Paleo or SCD. However, the organic barley I’m using is natural and nutritious. I really believe that I will do well with this grain in small amounts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

I think it’s confining to limit yourself to a prescribed diet for too long. Yes, AIP (autoimmune paleo) or SCD protocols are important when you are in recovery, but in the long term, I believe in branching out and testing your tolerance for all things to have optimum nutrition.

Irish Farmer’s Beef and Barley Stew (makes 4-6 servings)

  1. Heat 4-6 cups of Beef broth in a pot on medium heat
  2. While broth is heating, sear 1.5 pounds of  stew beef in olive oil or butter
  3. Add 1 cup barley, sage, and bay leaves to broth, let simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Turn heat on broth down to low. Add beef, carrots, and optional onions
  5. Cook on Low for 1-2 hours or as long as you want the smell of beef and sage to waft into your home
  6. Remove herbs and serve!

 

Paleo’s Greatest Hits

I feel a bit presumptuous coming out with my Greatest Hits so early. Sort of like Rihanna getting a lifetime achievement award at the MTV VMAs last night. I started compiling Paleo and SCD recipes to prep for my 30 day detox challenge starting next week, and I realized how helpful it is to have a stack of recipes to help you create shopping lists and plan meals when you’re majorly changing your diet. I hope this online compilation will be especially helpful to anyone joining me on this challenge. It’s also a great way for everyone to have a one-stop-shop for some of my favorite recipes. Gathering recipes also helps me to see what I’m missing in my Greatest Hits and what recipes I might want to experiment with in the coming months– so I have a great list for future posts!

You’ll notice that many of the recipes are also Vegan or at least meatless. You’ll also notice that there are several soups, and this is not by mistake! Using liquid as your source of nutrition and nourishment gives your digestive system a much-needed break. Broth and soups are also a vital part of restoring balance to your system in Chinese medicine.

Below are 14 posts and 16 recipes for you to experiment with! I hope this is a valuable source for everyone to pull from in the coming weeks! I’m excited to start with some of the more late summer recipes: the bouillabaisse, the salad, the almond butter pasta; then move into the squashes and soups into later September.

Guest Post: Butternut Fennel Leek Soup

sweet potato fries with curried ketchup

Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa

Crispy Cauliflower Pizza Crust the right way

Paleo on the Go: 3 simple and filling lunch ideas for the woman on the move!

Bison Chili with Avocado

Video How To: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Anti-Inflammatory Detox Smoothie

Salad Sundays: Week 3 White Nectarine, Basil, & Prosciutto

lemongrass pumpkin soup

Boullabaise and Crispy Salmon Skin

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Almond Butter Indulgences: Savory and Sweet

It’s Almost Soup Season: Creamy, Dairy-free Cauliflower Soup, 2 ways