Low-Glycemic, Veggie Dense, Dairy-Free, Upleveled Shepherd’s Pie (vegan or omnivore)

Upleveled Low Carb, Dairy-Free Shepherd's Pie

In the 1700’s it is said that Irish peasants typically ate between eight and fourteen pounds of potatoes EVERY day, accounting for 80% of their caloric intake! Potatoes were easy to cultivate and required little space making it the ideal crop. And on today, St. Patrick’s Day, many Irish-Americans still practice the tradition of planting potatoes regardless of the weather (and in Colorado today it is snowing making potato planting suck!).

I have always loved Irish food for the simplicity, ease and cost-effectiveness. However, their heavy reliance on potatoes can be a challenge for those of us seeking to maintain blood sugar balance as well as for those practicing a low carbohydrate diet. Additionally, I prefer more color, variety and a heavier dose of non-potato vegetables in my diet.

That said, I’m part-Irish and don’t want to discount my history or culture and still want to make room for Irish cuisine in my life. White potatoes can easily be replaced with sweet potatoes for a similar texture, but much lower sugars (even though they taste sweeter) or with cauliflower for a similar taste, texture and look.

I don’t get fancy very often with my food, because I love food that tastes good and is easy, but occasionally I enjoy making my food real purdy and even shepherd’s pie, a traditionally entirely brown dish can be made stunning for a dinner party. What I love about shepherd’s pie is that you can use any vegetables you have on hand or even leftover meat and veggies, slap some whipped potatoes (cauliflower or sweet potatoes) on top of it and you have a one pot meal.

It is St. Patrick’s Day so integration of a lot of green is called for, but adding in green is as easy as adding in green vegetables instead of dyeing our food with strange food coloring to spike our nutrient density.

In this upleveled version of shepherd’s pie, I’ve used sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, used a lot of produce, created individualized servings in either mini cake springform pans or using ring molds. I share what I used for produce, but you can use anything you have on hand, just make sure to cook each vegetable separately so that they can be their own separate layer and cook each vegetable prior to baking to cook out some of the moisture.

Upleveled Shepherd's Pie

Upleveled Shepherd’s Pie

Makes 4 individual shepherd’s pies or 1 large springform pie

1-1.25# sweet potatoes (I used 3 small sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into large chunks

3/4# ground beef or bison uncooked or drained, cooked beans of choice for vegan

10 ounces of mushrooms, diced

1 large zucchini, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 bunch of kale, diced

1/3 cup coconut cream (the cream not the water in full fat can of coconut milk)

1 inch of ginger, grated

1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, leaves only, diced with a couple full leaves reserved for plating

1 yellow onion, diced

cooking oil, as needed for sauteing vegetables and greasing pans/molds (I used avocado oil)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon coconut aminos

sea salt, to taste

In a medium pot, bring 1 inch of water to boiling, add peeled sweet potato chunks, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are “forkable.”

Sweet Potatoes

While potatoes cook, begin preparing veggies. Saute onion in a pan for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add ground beef or bison (if using) and saute until no longer pink–about 10 minutes. Add parsley. If using beans instead, add cooked onions and parsley into drained, cooked beans. Set aside.

Saute each vegetable (except the sweet potatoes and ginger) separately in a small amount of cooking oil and salt each of them. Do not cover with a lid as we are trying to remove most of the moisture from each vegetable. Cook each vegetable minimally except for the vegetables. For the mushrooms cook at medium-high heat until mushrooms squeak. Instead of using salt, use the balsamic vinegar and coconut aminos with the mushrooms. Cook until liquid has all absorbed evaporated. Set aside each vegetable into a separate bowl.

bowls of veggies

For the mashed potato topping, add cooked sweet potatoes without the water to a blender or food processor with the coconut cream and ginger. Process until fully blended. If using a food processor, stop part-way through and using a spatula, push down the sweet potato. Add sea salt to taste.

Ring molds are preferable to springform pans as they can be removed cleaner. If using mini springform pans, do not use the bottom. If using mini springform pans without a bottom or ring molds (which don’t have a bottom) place on top of parchment paper that extends beyond the pan. Grease all pans or molds, especially the sides.

For layering, add a layer of the beans or ground meat mixture and press firmly down, making sure to fully cover the base. On top of that add green bell peppers, top with mushrooms, top that with zucchini, top that with yellow bell peppers, topping that with kale and with each layer before adding the next, press firmly down. Top the final layer with the sweet potato mixture, not going too far above the top of the ring/mold.

Filling for each ring mold

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is firm and browning slightly.

Shepherd's Pie in individual molds

Using a knife or offset spatula, circle each pan or ring mold. For ring molds or mini springform pans without the base, lift the parchment and slide onto individual plates. Carefully open springform pans or slide off ring molds. The ring molds easily slide off as long as they were greased.

Top each shepherd’s pie with a few parsley leaves. Serve immediately while hot.

0317161903[1]The pie on the left was created using a ring mold and the one on the right by using a mini springform pan. The ones I used the ring molds for came out cleaner on the edges. Also, I learned to not use the bottom of the springform pan which is not removable, as you can see in the picture above.

What are your favorite Irish dishes? Please share below in the comments.

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 Coconut Peppermint Patties (I mean Peppermint Paddies)

Inside-Out Peppermint "Paddies"

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow so I think it only fitting to share one of my favorite desserts which I’ve never considered Irish before, but I’ve been informed by my non-Irish colleagues who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with green beer that it is!

My take on the peppermint patty is sugar and dairy-free, but still full of chocolate-mint goodness.

So why do us Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with peppermint patties?

Peppermint is green and we celebrate with all things green. After all, Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.

Mint is an herb relished in Ireland. Garden peas with fresh mint is commonly enjoyed as a Christmas dish in Ireland and mint is often enjoyed with potatoes, pudding, combined with sugar and sprinkled on pineapple (as though pineapple wasn’t sweet enough) and of course just drank as tea. So therefore adding mint to anything makes the dish automatically Irish (and the consumer Irish to, obviously).

In the US we like to shorten St. Patrick’s Day to be St. Patty’s Day and therefore peppermint patties are quite fitting. Unfortunately, the proper abbreviation is St. Paddy’s Day as Paddy is a version of Patrick and Patty is a version of Patricia as emphatically explained on http://paddynotpatty.com/. Therefore I present you with my Naturally Sweet Coconut Peppermint Paddies(?)!

Peppermint "Paddies"

 

For the chocolate layer/s:

1 cup melted coconut butter (purchased or home-made)*

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 cup cocoa powder or carob powder (for chocolate free). Use raw cacao to keep it a raw dish.

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

For the mint layer/s:

½ cup melted coconut butter*

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/16 teaspoon spirulina or chlorella, optional for green color

Inside-Out Peppermint "Paddies"

*Preparation for store-bought or coconut butter that was made previously and hardened:

Artisana’s coconut butter is probably the most expensive but is raw and organic in a glass jar or you can purchase Let’s Do Organic’s which is not raw and in plastic within a box, but is a more reasonable price and still organic.

Melt the coconut butter and coconut oil in a double-boiler. I don’t have an actual double-boiler, so instead I bring a small sauce pan filled half-way with water to a boil, turn down the pot to low and then I add ingredients into a small glass bowl that fits on top of the pot with the bottom of the glass bowl not touching the bottom of the pan but touching the water.

Add the chocolate or carob and the vanilla extract and sea salt. Whisk or use a hand blender until fully incorporated. Do not overheat the mixture as it will be more likely to separate in your chocolate molds.

*Preparation for home-made coconut butter

I go through coconut butter pretty quickly so I often will make another batch of coconut butter when making chocolates so that I don’t have to go through the process of melting it. Any leftover coconut butter, simply goes to snacking and melting on top of dishes. It will get used… It’s delicious and it lasts so you can always make more! I leave leftover coconut butter out in the cupboard.

To make coconut butter, simply blend in a Vitamix or a Blendtec on low a blender full of loosely filled full-fat shredded coconut (defatted coconut will not work and is a bizarre and wrong creation!) and gently using the tamper, push down regularly until it starts to emulsify and then turn-up the blender slowly eventually reaching full power. Blend on high until it is fully liquefied. 7 cups of shredded coconut will make about 2 cups of coconut butter. Do not use a different blender for this as it will burn it out! If you don’t have a high powered blender, it can be done in a food processor, but I hear it takes about 20 minutes to make because you have to keep shutting down the machine so it doesn’t burn-out. I’ve never tried making it in a food processor. I think it’s possible to add coconut oil into the shredded coconut to make blending/processing easier though the texture will be a little different and chocolates will melt quicker the more coconut oil you use. OR you can buy coconut butter and follow directions from above.

Make sure to pour out and set-aside some of the homemade melted coconut butter for making the peppermint layer—I know it’s tempting to add chocolate to all of the remaining coconut butter!

You can add in the coconut oil while blending the coconut butter to make the coconut butter creation go faster or after making the coconut butter, add in the coconut oil into the blender, it will melt on its own.  Add the cocoa powder or chocolate, vanilla and sea salt directly into the blender. Blend completely and pour into a bowl while nice and liquidy as opposed to leaving it in the blender where it will cool and become more challenging to remove.

Continuing on, the same for both:

Taste your chocolate!!!! Or rather, slather yourself in it, swim in it and pretend you will leave some to make your paddies! The coconut butter very well tempers the bitterness of chocolate and in my opinion needs no sweetener added, but if you disagree, by all means, add in a couple tablespoons of honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar, to taste.

Pour half the chocolate into chocolate molds, greased silicone muffin pan liners, greased ice cube trays or a greased sheet pan and place in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. If you plan on making on chocolate being entirely on the outside of the molds or muffin liners, only use 1/3 of the chocolate.

While your chocolate is setting in the freezer, prepare your peppermint layer in the same way that you prepared your chocolate layer. If using firm coconut butter (store-bought or previously made), melt in a double-boiler with the other peppermint layer ingredients. If using still liquid coconut butter reserved from freshly making it, pour it into a bowl and whisk or use a hand immersion blender to incorporate the other ingredients. If it needs to be melted more, put it over a bowl of hot water.

Once the chocolate in the freezer has set, add your layer of peppermint-coconut on top, if you want to chocolate to be on the outside layers, only add the coconut to the middle of the mold. Return to the freezer for 20 minutes.

Re-liquify chocolate if necessary using double boiler. Add remaining chocolate to the top of the coconut layer, making sure to completely cover it and return to the freezer for another 20 minutes to set. If using a sheet pan, after it is set, bring it to room temperature before cutting it into pieces.

The amounts provided are for “regular” peppermint patties/paddies, but you can also make Reverse Peppermint Paddies by preparing more of the peppermint “batter” and using the peppermint layer on the outside instead of the inside. I had to do both of course! I did not use spirulina to color my peppermint layers green, but it is a great, natural option for creating a more traditionally green layer for your chocolates.

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, Low Glycemic Colcannon and a Bit of Irish History for St. Patrick’s Day (or Halloween)

Colcannon Pic

Maybe because I am Irish (and Scottish, German and a whole mess of other things) I love me some potatoes. In fact, in grad school, I pretty much lived on them. I would buy huge bags of potatoes and “borrow” pads of butter from one of the school cafeterias and call it breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was prior to my health crisis that changed drastically how I ate and lived! So I never really needed an excuse like St. Patrick’s Day to load-up on potato dishes.

I still love potatoes, but only rarely eat them with reckless abandon these days, because if I’m going to choose something to eat that I know will spike my blood sugar crazy high, it will probably be chocolate cake not potatoes (and even then, my home-made chocolate cake is pretty darn low glycemic)! An ounce of the carbohydrates in potatoes contain twice the glucose as an ounce of white, processed crack sugar! The starch in potatoes is made of long chains of glucose which are very rapidly digested. Now of course that said, potatoes are healthier than white sugar because there are some nutrients in potatoes that aren’t processed out like they are in white sugar. And if you are very physically active, potatoes can be a great post-intense workout food (though I still prefer chocolate cake for that too).

Enter St. Patrick’s Day 2016. And what does my mind go to? Potatoes. Well, actually to colcannon, a dish that is traditionally white potatoes, cream, butter and cabbage OR kale. Colcannon is traditionally eaten in Ireland at Halloween not on St. Patrick’s Day, but as Americans we don’t really know much about St. Patrick’s Day or seem to care so I’m making colcannon darn-it! St. Patrick’s Day in America is simply used as an excuse to drink a lot of alcohol, be loud and obnoxious, wear green and get in people’s personal space if they aren’t wearing green!

Colcannon now days often has bacon or ham added to it, but traditionally Halloween in Ireland was a day when meat was not consumed, which made colcannon a great option. Colcannon comes from “cal ceann fhionn” which translates to white-headed cabbage though is also made with kale and Irish folks are quite haughty as to which is the correct and therefore only way to make it—with cabbage or with kale. There are even two versions of the well-known colcannon song—one focused on kale and the other on cabbage (referred to as greens):

VERSION 1: 

  Did you ever eat colcannon

  when ’twas made with yellow cream

  And the kale and praties blended

  Like the picture in a dream?

 

  Did you ever take a forkful          

  And dip it in the lake               

  Of heather-flavored butter           

  That your mother used to make?       

 

  Oh, you did, yes you did!            

  So did he and so did I,              

  And the more I think about it        

  Sure, the more I want to cry.        

 

  God be with the happy times

  When trouble we had not,

  And our mothers made colcannon

  In the little three-legged pot.

 

VERSION 2:

Did you ever eat colcannon

when ’twas made with thickened cream

And the greens and scallions blended

Like the picture in a dream?

 

Did you ever scoop a hole on top

To hold the melting cake

Of clover-flavored butter

Which your mother used to make?

 

Did you ever eat and eat, afraid

You’d let the ring go past,

And some old married sprissman

Would get it at the last?

 

God be with the happy times

When trouble we had not,

And our mothers made colcannon

In the little three-legged pot.

 

Colcannon is a famous fortune-telling device as traditionally hidden in it would be a gold ring, a sixpence, a thimble and/or a button (hence the second song version). Finding the ring foretold marriage within a year for the finder, finding the sixpence ensured coming into wealth, the thimble indicated spinsterhood and the button foretold bachelorhood. All in all, a fun game, well, unless you are the unlucky soul who ends-up finding the ring. Also, perhaps we can credit colcannon with mindful eating practices in which a person is careful to take small bites, chew very slowly and to not swallow without fully chewing! I wonder how many people broke their teeth on colcannon!

If I’m going to break with tradition and eat colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day, I might as well also change-up the recipe a bit! Instead of using mashed potatoes, I use mashed cauliflower, instead of cream I use coconut milk and instead of kale or cabbage, I use kale and mustard greens in my recipe, but any of the greens from the brassica family work fantastic. Have questions about the cruciferous or brassica family greens, visit my collards green recipes for info on the thyroid and nutritional info. Now of course, if you want to replace the mashed cauliflower with potatoes, go for it; if you want to add some bacon to it, please do; if you want to use other greens, be my guest; and if you can tolerate dairy feel free to use cream and butter instead of coconut milk! I’ve also used cashew cream and I’ve used pine nut cream instead of coconut milk, both exceptionally delicious. Coconut milk is just super easy and nut-free for my nut allergic friends, but if you don’t like the taste of coconut make it with dairy cream or a nut cream instead.

Colcannon Pic

Allergen-Free, Low Glycemic Colcannon

1 bunch of washed kale, de-stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons

1 bunch of washed mustard greens, de-stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower

1 yellow onion, diced

1 can of full fat coconut milk (you will only use the cream)

¼ cup diced fresh parsley

3 green onions, diced

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking oil, as needed (coconut oil, avocado oil or bacon grease)

Sauté onion in cooking oil until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add kale, mustard greens and a sprinkling of sea salt. Sauté until mixed into the oil and onions, add a lid and let steam in own liquids for about 10 minutes or until well-wilted. While greens are softening, prepare the mashed cauliflower.

Cut off outer leaves and cut out core of cauliflower. Add cauliflower florets to a steaming basket with water and steam until soft, about 10 minutes. Food process the softened cauliflower florets with the cream from coconut milk, sea salt and pepper (reserve remaining coconut water for another use).

Add mashed cauliflower to the greens mixture in a bowl. Add parsley and green onions to the bowl and mix together. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or have any favorite Irish foods? Please share below in the comments.

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.

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

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.

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”

Is it Time to Finally Let Go and Release?

Fall is the time for release

Fall is the time for release“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” 

― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Continue reading “Is it Time to Finally Let Go and Release?”

Make Habits Not Resolutions

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”  
–Ralph Waldo Emerson  
 

Drum roll please…  According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology this Make habits not resolutionsmonth, the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

How about you? Did you make resolutions this year? Well if you did, according to the same research, you are not alone, as about 45% of North Americans make New Year’s resolutions! Unfortunately, only about 8% keep or achieve them!!!! Yikes, that’s kind-of depressing, huh?

For you 45%ers, read on for tips on how you can actually succeed, regardless of what your New Year’s Resolutions are this year, because repeating the same resolution year-in and year-out begins to feel like Groundhog’s Day after a while, but without the charming enclave of Punxsutawney.

Continue reading “Make Habits Not Resolutions”