Celiac Research Update: Early Life Infections may be Connected to Celiac Disease Development

A Norwegian population-based study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology in October suggests early life infections may play a role in later development of celiac disease. Children with 10 or more infections by the time they turned 18 months old had a significantly greater risk for later development of celiac disease compared with children who had four or fewer infections.

At this time, this study raises more questions than it answers since it is indicating correlation and not causation. It could be that the population that is more susceptible to the development of autoimmune diseases is also more susceptible to infections. This research could also support Alessio Fasano’s research into intestinal permeability that indicates that all autoimmune conditions (including celiac disease) require leaky gut (as well as genetic markers and the environmental catalyst). Infections do result in an increase in intestinal permeability which could be the precipitating force in the development of leaky gut as the precursor to the development of autoimmune conditions (celiac disease, in this case). Or it could be that the high infection rate is the result of leaky gut and has nothing to do with the development of celiac disease in which both infection and autoimmune conditions are correlated with gut permeability.

There is some supporting research that dysbiosis and infection may be a precipitating force in the development of celiac disease through upregulating tissue transglutaminase. In fact, a study published in March indicates a candida overgrowth could contribute to the development of celiac disease. Candida expresses a protein (Hwp1) that binds tissue transglutaminase (like gliadin does), potentially leading to immune activation and cross-reactivity with gluten. The study population of those with celiac disease and those without that had a candida overgrowth both produced anti-gliadin antibodies as well as the anti-Hwp1 antibodies.

What does this mean for us?

Even a correlation between celiac disease and dysbiosis is a reason to support healthy gut bacteria levels in infants, children and adults. Extra care should be taken for infants born by c-section which prevents the transfer of healthy gut bacteria between mother and child during vaginal birth.

A research review published in September implicates gram-negative bacteria (the bad bacteria) in the GI tract as exacerbating celiac symptoms through inflammation and increased gut permeability. The same review finds that gram-positive bacteria (which is what is found in probiotics) supports the release of anti-inflammatory proteins by immune cells, prevents the inflammation induced by gram-negative bacteria, decreases permeability and supports immune function. This could indicate that probiotics and fermented foods may have a protective affect against the development of celiac disease.

FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Update

On November 17, the FDA issued a proposed rule establishing that fermented, hydrolyzed and distilled foods must meet certain requirements to carry a gluten-free label. The gluten free labeling rule that went into effect in August 2014 indicated difficulty in scientifically detecting gluten in fermented and hydrolyzed foods and that the FDA would release a proposed ruling on that issue in the future. The future is now.

Hydrolyzed, fermented and distilled foods with the gluten free label have to meet the main requirements of the original gluten-free labeling rule. The new proposal evaluates additional compliance measures for manufacturers:

  • Companies making fermented or hydrolyzed foods must keep records that “demonstrate adequate assurance that the food is ‘gluten-free’ in compliance with the [gluten-free rule] before fermentation or hydrolysis.”
  • For foods with one or more fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients that will be labeled gluten free, the manufacturer will have to keep records showing that the ingredients are gluten free.
  • Distilled foods manufacturers must be able to verify the absence of the protein using testing methods that can “reliably detect the presence of protein or protein fragments in the food.”
  • If there is a risk of cross-contamination, a plan must be in place to prevent it.

The biggest area of contention for this ruling is in regards to what is currently termed: “gluten-reduced beers”—beers such as Omission and a new beer line of New Planet’s in which the beer starts with gluten containing grains, but with the introduction of a brewing enzyme, the gluten protein chains are broken apart and removed. This ruling could affect whether breweries that remove gluten from beers can qualify their beers as gluten-free if testing and adequate measures are taken.

Have an opinion on this? This FDA ruling is only proposed, including the final wording of the proposed ruling, which means that public comments may be influential. The FDA is accepting public comments through February 16. To electronically submit comments to the docket, click here. If this option is not working, go to www.regulations.gov and type FDA-2014-N-1021 in the search box to comment. To submit comments to the docket by mail, use the following address and be sure to include docket number FDA-2014-N-1021 on each page of your written comments:

Division of Dockets Management
HFA-305
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

The #1 Key to Getting Halloween Sugar Cravings Under Control Video!

Need some quick and easy blood sugar balancing breakfast ideas? Join me in Denver for a FREE 1 hour cooking class bonanza on Mon Nov 2 or Jan 4 from 5:45-7pm.

Need more ideas for getting your sugar cravings under control? This FREE video shares all of the causes of your sugar cravings–beyond simply blood sugar balance!

Want group support for controlling your sugar cravings? Join the Sugar Addicts Unite Denver Program: Break Your Chains of Sugar Addiction for Good! Scroll down on this page, after the video, to learn more.

Breakfast recipes and ideas.

Minimizing Sugar Abundance for Your Family and Kids During Halloween

  • When treats come back – Throw them in the freezer (the treats, not the kids) and dole them out one a night after dinner
  • Only allow treat consumption in the presence of healthy protein and fiber to balance blood sugar
  • Purchase healthier Halloween candy and trade out yours for theirs (and don’t eat what you trade out)
  • Trade their candy for money or toys or fun activities the kids choose (and don’t eat their candy!)
  • Store candy out of sight such as in the freezer or a high cupboard
  • Send them out to trick or treat with a full tummy and plenty of protein to keep their blood sugar balanced and decrease how much candy they eat on the road
  • Make a plan with the kids before Halloween and the collection of candy booty so they aren’t upset when they don’t get to eat it all at once
  • Have them help prepare healthy cookies or treats they can come home to – healthier but more enjoyable than cracky candy
  • Allow some splurging or your kids will horde candy and sneak it
  • Coordinate a healthier Halloween with your neighbors
  • Adults & teens should be role models for eating Halloween candy in moderation and choosing healthier options
  • Keep active – perhaps only splurge on leftover candy after doing a fun outdoor physical activity together

Healthier Halloween Ideas for Adults

  • All the family tips, are true for the adults too! Moderation, putting candy out of sight, being physically active,etc.
  • Still allow yourself indulgences, but control them, so that you don’t go out of control later
  • Procrastinate: To avoid temptation, buy your candy for trick or treaters at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers via shelters or through your office
  • Choose healthier snacks and treats or non-food items to hand-out so that you aren’t tempted by leftovers
  • Eat before going to Halloween parties so your blood sugar doesn’t drop and you lose control and go crazy at the sugar buffet table
  • Keep healthy snacks and healthyish foods that you really love at work and school so that you have better options to splurge on then everyone’s leftover candy from Halloween. My healthy loves are: dark chocolate, olives, artichoke hearts, avocadoes, fruit, nuts, seeds, toasted shredded coconut, plantain chips, etc.
  • Bring a protein dish and a healthy dessert to share to any Halloween party so your needs are covered
  • Draw focus to costumes, a celebration of magic, fear of the dead, etc. instead of candy on Halloween

Is it necessary to screen for celiac disease in adult idiopathic osteoporosis? A response longer than intended.

Effects of Osteoporosis
Effects of Osteoporosis
Image courtesy of Eric Parker

Low bone mineral density, reduced bone mass, increased fractures and osteoporosis are well-known, common symptoms of celiac disease, affecting up to 70% of celiac patients.[1] [2] [3] [4] In fact, a Brazilian study was just published in September that found a whopping 69% of patients with celiac disease (N=101) have low bone mineral density.[5] Malabsorption resulting in nutritional deficiencies that compromise bone mineral density are especially common during the initial year of treatment for celiac disease. [6]

If so many of us with celiac disease also have low bone mineral density, is the reverse true and do a large percentage of those diagnosed with osteoporosis have celiac disease and therefore is testing of ALL osteoporotic patients for celiac disease warranted? A Tehran University of Medical Sciences study, also recently published in 2015, sought to answer this question and concluded that “the prevalence of celiac disease in osteoporotic patients is not high enough to justify recommendation for serologic screening of celiac disease in all patients with idiopathic osteoporosis”.[7] In their study of 460 osteoporosis patients, only 5 were found to also have celiac disease.

Continue reading “Is it necessary to screen for celiac disease in adult idiopathic osteoporosis? A response longer than intended.”

How to Break Your Chains of Sugar Addiction Video

In this video I discuss the physical and the emotional/mental/habitual causes of sugar addiction. If you have tried to sugar detox in the past, but failed, it’s not because you aren’t strong enough or lack willpower, it’s probably because you have an addiction to sugar. Until you deal with the root causes of your sugar addiction, your sugar cravings won’t end, which risks fatigue, mineral deficiencies, diabetes, weight dis-regulation and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. With Halloween coming up, now is the time to get your sugar cravings under control!

For more information about the program mentioned in the video: “Sugar Addicts Unite: Break Your Chains of Sugar Addiction for Good”.

Biohacking & Mother’s Day Quick and Easy Allergen-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

Recipe is paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, seed-free, peanut-free, soy-free, coconut-free, refined sugar free, but chocolate-full!

I like working out at night, as the last thing that I am doing during the day, as a separation between work and rest, somehow encompassing both and working to relax me and ease me into sleep (maybe). The research supporting working out in the morning versus the evening is mixed. Proponents of working out in the morning say it boosts metabolism, increases energy throughout the day, improves sleep and reduces blood pressure. On the flip-side, proponents of working out in the evening, indicate that glucose doesn’t drop as much and our metabolism adapts better in evening workouts. Well than…

Just as in everything to do with our health, we are individuals and as individuals we need to determine what works best for our own body and our own health. This sentiment always leads me back to “biohacking” and constantly changing my life, diet and exercise to create the absolute best life and health for ME. I use research to guide me to try new experiments, on myself. I am a scientist.

And so… This morning… I woke-up at 5:15am (alarm was actually set for 5:30am—Woo me!) instead of 6:30am and headed-out to do some cardio, weight lifting and a bit of yoga. And although I had an energy droop earlier, four hours post-workout I am happily typing away at this, focused and eager to continue my day. We shall see, how I sleep tonight and if I have the energy to get up early again tomorrow morning for a more restorative yoga practice, but so far so good! It’s too early to say which schedule is best for my body, but it’s an intriguing proposition nonetheless and a great experiment too.

5.15.15 039I find myself eager to biohack my life as I garner such incredible inspiration from my mom who is 73 years old and last year and the year before that, walked across Spain, 500 miles, in a month each time, all while carrying a 20-30# backpack and getting awful sleep in crowded hostels. All of this after recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome after beating herself into the ground through stress.

Say whaaat? Yes, she is a badass.

She is constantly working to improve herself and her relationship to life. I know that I want to have her vigor for life when I’m in my 70s and beyond which means starting now (not then) to create my most healthy, happy self.

And so biohacking I shall do…

On Mother’s Day, I made my badass mom this nut-free, coconut-free chocolate cake while she was on a short 5.15.15 137phone conversation with my siblings. Yes… You read that right…. SHORT. This cake is twenty minutes, start to finish! This is by far the quickest, easiest cake you can make and it makes for an awesome post-workout treat, regardless of when you do your workout. My mom has a food sensitivity to coconut and is trying to decrease her nut intake (they are pretty darn high in omega 6 essential fatty acids which can result in inflammation if we don’t have enough omega 3 EFAs). This is a variation of the low FODMAPs, low histamine, nut-free, sugar-free cake I’ve been working on perfecting this last month and is super close to being ready to post—only two more trial runs to go, I think. So if you can consume sugars (although it’s comparatively low to most and uses healthier sweeteners) and chocolate—this cake is the way to go!

Enjoy and I cheers you with my chocolate-encrusted fork to your mom and to mine—role models all. Whether good or bad, we can learn from everyone in our life, especially ourselves, and make little changes constantly to improve ourselves whether it is changing our diet to be less inflammatory or changing the time or type of our workouts.

Now go forth, enjoy your chocolate, enjoy your life, move your body and biohack on!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, nut-free, seed-free, peanut-free, soy-free, coconut-free, refined sugar free, chocolate-full)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 green plantain

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup arrowroot powder

½ cup honey or maple syrup

½ cup cacao (or unsweetened cocoa) powder

2/3 cup avocado oil (or other fat of your choice)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Layer parchment paper on the bottom of a cake pan and grease the sides of the pan.

Add to the blender your eggs and blend on low, with the small lid off your blender to whip air into your eggs. Once frothy (a minute or so blending on low depending on your blender), add all of the remaining ingredients except for the baking soda and blend until smooth. Once your oven is to heat, add the baking soda and blend one last time until smooth.

The batter will be thick. Quickly scoop into your parchment-lined cake pan and smooth the top. Put in the center of your oven and bake for 15 minutes.

During this short baking time, prepare your frosting. And if your eggs were local and pastured, go ahead and make the frosting in the same blender without washing it first!

5.15.15 1225.15.15 1255.15.15 130

Chocolate Frosting

3 medium sized, ripe avocados

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup honey or maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter (optional for depth of flavor)

1 squirt of lemon

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender and lick the bowl! Frost your cake… If you are going to double the recipe and make a double layer cake and frost the middle as well as the top, make sure to flip the bottom layer so that the cake is flat instead of curved, like in the picture above. Get yourself some.

If you are interested in learning to cook without recipes and honing your creativity in the kitchen, please join me in Denver for one or more of my cooking classes.

Allergen-Free No Bake Chocolate-Sunbutter Bars (Paleo, grain-free, vegan, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, chocolate-free option, raw option)

little debbie barsAs a teenager and into my twenties, my favorite cracky snack/dessert ever was Little Debbie Nutty Bars. Ugh! Yep, I couldn’t get enough. I would buy a box and eat the whole box in one sitting… Yeah, I’ve never been challenged with sugar addiction! Right…

So those crunchy, delicious Little Debbie Nutty Bars contain gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and peanuts! They are not unlike allergy bombs—just waiting to explode in your gut! And even folks without an allergy to them do best to avoid peanuts, gluten (probably all grains) and soy. Additionally, they contain other ingredients that are best avoided by all: partially hydrogenated oils, a multitude of sugars—20 grams per bar, artificial flavors (hmm… I wonder what these be) and mono and dyglycerides! Mmm… Yummy! Ahh Little Debbie… You know just how I like my desserts! Completely unrecognizable as food and sure to wreak havoc on my gut health—thanks Deb! I love you too!

But still… Even knowing the dastardly danger these bars be, does not change our cravings, does it? We know we shouldn’t eat them—yet, the cravings remain. These cravings are often spurred by a number of variables, such as habit; emotional eating; nutrient deficiencies; low serotonin or dopamine; and gluten dairy and soy can all attach to our opiate receptors like heroin. Ahh, well it doesn’t help that sugar is crazy addictive either, does it? But they also, for me, conjure joyful teenage memories—those of sneaking whole boxes of bars into dark corners and hogging them down as though a meteor is about to hit any moment. Ahh… Debbie gut bombs.

Luckily, we have options! Now sure those grain-free or even gluten-free wafers are not replicable (or at least not by me), but combining chocolate, peanut-butter-like tasting sunflower seed butter and a healthier form of sugar without all those other allergens and weird ingredients into bars can be done! Lemme show you how!

This recipe is so easy to make and the joyful thing is that it is no-bake, so I can enjoy them during the blisteringly hot dessert summers of Colorado, without heating-up my kitchen one bit! And if you wanna do the raw thing, I have options for that too. And if you can’t do chocolate, you can replace the chocolate with carob… See! I’ve got you covered!

Just call me Little Katie… Now if I could only find that hat…

4.20.15 phone upload bars 028

 

Allergen-Free No Bake Chocolate-Sunbutter Bars Recipe

Grain-free, nut-free, vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, paleo, chocolate-free option, raw option

Makes: 12 bars

Prep Time: 1hr 15 min to 2 hr 15 min

Bar Base

1 cup unsweetened sunflower seed butter, room temperature*

1 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup dehydrated coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping

1/2 cup cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder) or carob for chocolate-free
1 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons (divided) of honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar if using cacao or 2 tablespoons (divided) if using carob which has some natural sweetness to it already

* I prefer the texture of Sunbutter brand sunflower seed butter and their organic variety has no sugars added. That said, I don’t like that it is in plastic. Maranatha is no sugar added and is in glass. If you use a sugar added variety, make sure to reduce the coconut sugar appropriately.

In a food processor, combine room temperature sunflower seed butter with coconut sugar, cinnamon and sea salt. While food processor is running, slowly drizzle in vanilla extract and then melted coconut oil. Combine completely. Add in coconut flour and process until combined. If necessary, finish combining by hand. Press firmly into a parchment lined 9×9 inch square pan. Put in freezer while preparing topping.

In a bowl or your food processor, whisk together melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, sea salt and half the sweetener. Add cacao or carob powder and whisk or process until completely combined. If using a food processor, make sure to spatula down the yummy deliciousness that creeps up the side of the processor. And now dip your finger in there (or a spoon) and lick away.  Not sweet enough for you? Well then, by all means, add the other half of the sweetener, blend and dip on in again for a taste. Add more sweetener still if desired…  Once completely combined, remove pan from freezer and pour topping onto bars. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until bars are set. If you choose to freeze them instead, be aware that cutting can be a challenge if they are frozen and they may break (unevenly) instead of slice.  4.20.15 phone upload bars 0144.20.15 phone upload bars 015

If you want it raw instead of simply no-bake:

If you want to make this dessert raw, you will likely need to make your own sunflower seed butter by simply blending (if you have a Vitamix or Blendtec) or food processing raw sunflower seeds for a really long time! The food processor is actually easier for this one, I think. Oh okay, I lack patience and I prefer the flavor of roasted sunflower seed butter to raw, but if you wanna make it yourself… Throw your seeds in a food processor and process for about 20 minutes or until delicious buttery sunflower seed goodness is amassed. Stop every once in a while and push down the seeds on the side and give your motor a rest. To speed up the process a bit and to make it easier on your processor, you could always add in the coconut oil that will go in the base of the bars anyway.

And a note about soaking your seeds: To reduce phytates and enzyme inhibitors nuts and seeds should be soaked. Seeds don’t take as long as nuts, so 2 hours will do fine. That said, you need your seeds to be dry to make nut/seed butter. So you need to drain and rinse your soaked seeds and dehydrate them until dry, about 8 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, using an oven on its lowest temperature with the door cracked can work, just watch it carefully and don’t leave it on while you are gone. But all of this heating sorta defeats the purpose of having something you can make easily and quickly at home in the summer without heating your kitchen! If you consume a lot of nuts and seeds, definitely soak those bad boys. If nuts and seeds are simply an occasional treat, you can get away with not soaking em. And if you are using store bought sunbutter, unfortunately, you can be assured that the seeds weren’t soaked (unless you are buying from a brand that indicates “sprouted” sunflower seeds were used).

And regular coconut flour you purchase isn’t raw. I’ve found a couple online sources for raw coconut flour via Living Tree Community Foods, also Alpha makes it and so does Coconut Secret.  Or you might make it yourself from raw shredded coconut, which you can access from the same sources or rumor has it that Let’s Do Organic’s shredded coconut is raw which is often easy to find at natural food stores. One thing to be aware of if making your own coconut flour is that coconut flour is usually defatted so if you are just whipping up straight shredded coconut, that will potentially throw off the ratios some. But play with it and let us know in the comments if you do!

Wait… What’s that you say? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are your childhood binge food–the food that YOU crave? Been there! Done that! I have you covered for that one too. Check out my allergen-free, paleo, grain-free, peanut-free, refined sugar fee or no sugar, soy-free not-peanut-butter cups. Oh and you can make these ones raw too!

8/18/15 Update: Want some more no-bake cookie and bar recipes? This recipe along with 48 others are included in the Traditional Cooking School article – “49 Nourishing No Bake Cookies and Bars”! Check it out! Holy yummness batman!

If you are interested in learning to cook without recipes and honing your creativity in the kitchen, please join me in Denver for one or more of my cooking classes.

Sugar Free Meyer Lemon Bars

I love the combination of sweet and sour. So when organic Meyer lemons showed-up at the natural food store on sale—my mind began racing with all of the wonderful things those Meyer lemons and I could do together. Meyer lemons to me indicate the coming arrival of spring. To simply smell the flowery citrus aroma of Meyer lemons fills me with joy, hope and ecstatic primal lust for life! No, seriously… Lust…Life…Primal… Ecstatic joy…  How does it get better than that?

I’ll tell you how… When you combine Meyer lemons with coconut and almond and do it in a healthy, satiating recipe that hijacks your body and mind from winter and catapults you into spring then it gets better—so much better.

Meyer Lemony Goodness
Meyer Lemony Goodness

I don’t post a lot of recipes here for you as there are so many places to get friggin incredible recipes (and I suck at taking pictures of food) that I don’t want to be a food blogger that isn’t adding to the conversation. But over and over, you’ve asked me how to make x dish without x, y and z x 3 ingredients and so finally I’m giving-in or at least on a trial run I am! I will not be transitioning my website to a recipe-only site, but I promise I will TRY to post more allergen-free, low-glycemic recipes (but do excuse my picture-taking fails).

I created this recipe back in February and was flooded with requests for the recipe via Facebook; so finally I succumb and post it to satiate your inquisitive appetites for healthy spring dessert recipes. The following Meyer Lemon Bar Recipe is my baseline recipe, the recipe I go to and adjust accordingly to continue removing and replacing ingredients to meet the needs of those of us with limited diets. It’s a recipe for safe success in lemony, desserty, goodness!

Notes on Meyer Lemons, Stevia, Sugars and the Glycemic Level of this Dessert:

Stevia Sweetened Meyer Lemon Bars
Stevia Sweetened Meyer Lemon Bars

The sweetness and bitterness of Meyer lemons can vary DRASTICALLY. Plus, our sweet needs vary DRASTICALLY! You must taste your batter and determine whether to add more or less sweetener in this recipe. The small Meyer lemons seem to be sweeter than the large, but maybe I’m making that up! I also don’t eat many sweets, so I don’t need as much sweetener as you may desire. If you use stevia powder or extract that is not the flavored form (e.g. not Nu Naturals or not Sweet Leaf), the dessert will have a bitter aftertaste. If you use the white pithy part of the lemon and not just the zest and juice, it will have a bitter aftertaste. This recipe assumes you are using MEYER lemons, which are sweeter than regular lemons. Meyer lemons are a cross between an orange and a lemon. If you are using regular lemons, add more sweetener or consider doing half lemon and half orange with no orange zest as the orange zest will make it taste like orange bars which would probably be awesome, just not lemony primal ecstatic joy! So, the take away… Taste… Adjust… Taste… Adjust… If you need to follow a recipe exactly—maybe don’t do this recipe! Taste… Adjust… Taste… Adjust…

The glycemic level of this dessert, regardless of the version you choose is fairly low. The healthy fat from almond and coconut with protein from the eggs and the almond supports keeping your sugars stable. That said, Meyer lemons are a combination of oranges and lemons and oranges have a higher glycemic level (higher sugar level) than regular lemons so there is still a glycemic effect to this dessert. Also, realize that stevia has no glycemic effect on our blood sugar, but still tastes sweet which means that it may keep your taste buds expecting “sweetness,” which can make weaning off of sugars more challenging.

I’ve included two versions of this recipe for you varying in sweetness and sugars. One version is sweetened with a combination of honey and stevia and the other just with stevia (lowest glycemic option). If you are new to using stevia, I suggest trying the version that combines honey and stevia first, so your taste buds can become more accustomed to stevia. That said, this is the IDEAL recipe for someone new to stevia to try! Stevia plays best with sour desserts because the sour offsets the bitter aftertaste of stevia. Stevia does not play so well with desserts that have a bitter component, such as those containing chocolate or coffee. For those desserts, a non-seasoned stevia consumer should combine stevia with a regular sugar (honey, cane sugar, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, maple syrup, etc.) to make it more palatable and less bitter. If you want to try an unsweetened chocolate dessert using stevia, I suggest doing my coconut milk chocolate ice “cream” as the stevia aftertaste is still buffered in that recipe. If you are a seasoned stevia user, don’t do sugars and are a bit of a chocoholic, you may be ready to move on to my chocolate-sunbutter cups.

Honey + Stevia Sweetened Meyer Lemon Bars
Honey + Stevia Sweetened Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars (refined sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, paleo, no sugar added stevia option)

Makes 9-12 bars (depending on bar size)

The Cookie Base

2 cups blanched almond flour

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Scant ¼ cup coconut oil, melted*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 dropper (between 1/8-1/4tsp) toffee stevia or vanilla stevia (I like Sweet Leaf Brand), optional

Cookie Base Pre-Pressed
Press Yo’ Cookie Base

Pulse together almond flour and sea salt. Drizzle in the remaining ingredients into the food processor and pulse until the dough forms a ball. Start with the smaller amount of stevia, taste and add more if necessary. Especially, taste and adjust if you are not using the Sweet Leaf or Nu Naturals Brand and if not using a flavored stevia. That said, the cookie base doesn’t have to be sweetened at all, as the lemon topping will be sweetened.

The baked cookie base
Cookie base is done baked…

Press dough into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. While it bakes, make your lemon topping.

* In summer my coconut oil is already melty, but winter, spring and fall in Colorado means rock-hard coconut oil. My preferred method of melting it, entails bringing a small pot of water to a boil and taking the pot off the heat source. Then I scoop some of my coconut oil from its ginormous container into a small glass jar and place the jar in the hot water. The hot water should not cover the jar for risk of water leaking-in. Let it sit until it melts. Okay, so this may be the Zen way as it is time consuming and could be meditative in its own way and sure there are faster ways of doing it, but this is my method—you do what you want!

Lemon Topping:

Lemon Juice
Juice Yo’ Lemon

~1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (~3-6 lemons depending on size—I used 2 large lemons and 1 1/2 small lemons to get this amount) and zest (if organic)

4 eggs

4 teaspoons arrowroot starch

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

SUGAR OPTIONS: 3 tablespoons honey and 1 dropper of vanilla stevia OR 2 droppers of orange stevia and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Bringing all ingredients to room temperature will prevent the coconut oil from re-solidifying before you are ready for it to do that! In a blender or food processor, blend completely all ingredients except for the arrowroot and coconut oil. Next slowly pour in the coconut oil as it is blending/processing and once completely blended, add the arrowroot starch.

Bars outta the oven
This was the non-parchment paper version of the unsweetened bars. Parchment makes it easier to remove the bars and cut ’em, fyi.

Once the crust comes out of the oven, lower the temperature of the oven to 300ºF. Pour the lemon topping over thehot or warm crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling is no longer jiggling and is barely set. Jiggle the pan to test, do not touch it or it will create an indentation in your beautiful flat bars!

Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely (I know it’s hard, but otherwise they will fall apart!). Refrigerate. Once entirely cool, carefully lift out the bars by grasping the parchment paper. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles—16 assumes smaller bars. Put remaining bars in air-tight container and refrigerate (or freeze).

Optionally, Add shredded coconut or sift powdered coconut sugar over the top before serving and after cool.

If you are interested in learning to cook without recipes and honing your creativity in the kitchen, please join me in Denver for one or more of my cooking classes.

I Ate Wheat on Saturday!

Oops!

OopsSome of you that I hang out with on Facebook have already heard…. I ate gluten on Saturday! No, I didn’t get cross-contaminated, I straight-up ate wheat!

By choice? No.

By my own flagrant stupidity. Yes.

I’m one of those annoying people to eat out with that asks the servers a gazillion questions and after they answer, I ask the same questions (possibly reworded). People who live the carefree life of eating whatever they want tend to not so enjoy eating out with me! Let me tell you… It makes for some awkward first dates!

There is a restaurant in Denver where I eat fairly often and have never been cross-contaminated, never had the server roll eyes at me, never been given the confused look for asking about types of ingredients or cooking processes and never received exasperated sighs of frustration as my order more resembles an algebra problem than a meal—“Can I have x without y, except for when z is present? Please?”

So as is usual, we ordered food, informing our waiter that we are severely gluten sensitive and confirmed that she wrote down our gluten status on the ticket. She however, forgot to type-in “gluten free” when she entered our ticket into the system for the chefs.

Continue reading “I Ate Wheat on Saturday!”

A Healthier Halloween: One “Trick or Treater” at a Time

Nov 1 is Eat Your Kids Candy Day“In our town, Halloween was terrifying and thrilling, and there was a whiff of homicide. We’d travel by foot in the dark for miles, collecting candy, watching out for adults who seemed too eager to give us treats.” — Rosecrans Baldwin

Halloween is no longer revered and feared as the time of year when the veil between the world of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest, but instead as a time to gorge ourselves on sugar while wearing sexy pirate clothes.

Not that I have anything against sexy pirates.

Healthy Treats to Hand Out

All of that said, I truly appreciate that Halloween is that one time of year when neighbors actually meet each other. I’m sad that we live in a world where so many parents no longer feel it is safe for their kids to “trick or treat,” though I entirely understand their concerns. So if you still live in a neighborhood that celebrates Halloween by sending it’s little people out in disguise to beg for sugar, here are some ideas for some healthier treats to hand-out that are individually wrapped but won’t get your house egged (aka no handing out toothbrushes, okay!), but please note these aren’t perfect. Some contain allergens like nuts and dairy and others contain sugars or sugar alcohol though all of my suggestions are gluten free (cuz that’s how I roll), lower sugars and more natural products. Not all of these companies are ideal, but by and large, these are better options to handout than candy corn. Please note, these are in no particular order and I have no ties to any of these companies:

Continue reading “A Healthier Halloween: One “Trick or Treater” at a Time”