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.

Collard Burritos Save the Day and the Leftovers (with Video Tutorial)

Collard Burritos Image

Living in Los Angeles for some time with several Hispanic roommates created a love affair for me with tortillas. We ate tortillas with every meal—for breakfast we stuffed them with eggs or tofu and potatoes and for lunch it was usually beans, potatoes, salsa and avocado. Every meal we ate, from salad to stir-fry ended up wrapped in a tortilla. Oh and of course, peanut butter and jelly wrapped in a tortilla, maybe with a banana in it was also common. Everything went in a tortilla—making it the ultimate leftovers game-changer.  I was in grad school at the time, and the ease and portability of the tortilla was without competition.

This of course was before I ever tested myself for elevated antibodies to my own thyroid and this was before I discovered that gluten was the cause of my hypnagogic hallucinations. It was before I made any connection at all to how what I chose to eat affected my health.

There is something so primal, so basic to touching our food. It creates a connection with our food that I crave. A wrap is meant to be picked-up. A wrap is meant to be touched, to cradle our food as it cradles our love for our food. Tortillas connect us to our food in a way that eating food off a fork never can. Everything tastes better in a wrap—even or especially leftovers.

We have it easier these days as the gluten-free. Those hard, dense, breakable, inflexible brown rice tortillas I used to pretend I liked have been replaced by more flexible models, more similar in texture to the real thing.

The problem is that as gluten-free products have improved in texture, my relationship to my body and my willingness to just eat anything that “I can” has also changed drastically. I notice now how my energy, my skin, my digestion, my blood sugar and my overall vitality changes based on what I feed myself and gluten-free is no longer good enough.  To read the ingredients on the now flexible gluten-free tortilla takes some time, because the list is long and filled with many high glycemic starches, many difficult to digest gums, a number of preservatives that aren’t actually food or pronounceable and usually even corn syrup. No thanks. I’m good. Where is my fork?

But sometimes the answer is so obvious, so simple and so easy that we overlook it.

Of course, there are lettuce wraps, which work, but aren’t usually very portable or easy to work with—they don’t usually provide a full cradle for our food.

Enter the collard greens wrap. They are flexible and portable, and wrap-up just like a burrito, but add a bonus dose of health! They even give you the option of a small wrap, a medium wrap or a large wrap depending on the size of the collards with often all three sizes in one bunch!

Collard Burritos Image

Once again, my leftovers have a place to hide and no matter the ingredients, they can easily be cradled in their green bundle of hospitable joy. Once again, grab and go meals can be prepared with ease and all without sleepless nights, brain-fog, thyroid inflammation or insulin surges!

You are the artist of your own wrapping palate, so what you fill your collard green “burritos” with is irrelevant (sunflower seed butter and unsweetened jelly, anyone?), once you learn to soften the greens and wrap them like a pro. Hence the quick video tutorial:

 

Interested in joining me for a cooking class? Expand your vegetable cooking repertoire and more so that you can easily and deliciously introduce more health into your kitchen and family. Vegetable cooking should be fun, nutrient dense and introduce pizzazz and excitement to your meals. Enjoy vegetables as they are meant to be enjoyed. Never use a recipe again. Fall in love with food, eating and healthy cooking! Check out our cooking classes.

Why Collards?

Cruciferous  vegetables (sometimes referred to as the brassica family) are often considered the most essential vegetables for supporting our detoxification processes. You know these vegetables as kale, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips and collards. Kale tends to steal the limelight most of the time, but collard greens are just as beneficial if not more so than kale!

All of the cruciferous vegetables decrease cholesterol by binding to bile acids (which are made from cholesterol) so they can be removed from the body. When excreted, the body has to make more bile acid, lowering cholesterol by utilizing it. In studies, collard greens outperform all of the other cruciferous vegetables in doing this. And steamed collard greens are more effective in doing this than raw collards.

The cruciferous vegetables are considered protective against development of cancer because of their support of our detoxification system, being anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants. Collards are considered especially beneficial in protection against cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate and ovaries. Collard greens are especially anti-inflammatory because they contain the omega 3 essential fatty acid, ALA (although it does need to be converted to a more useable form which not everyone’s bodies succeed at doing).

Additionally, 1 cup of cooked collards provides 858% (WHAAAT!) of our daily recommended value of vitamin K which is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse! A 2014 study of over 7,000 people at high risk for cardiovascular disease found that people with the highest intake of vitamin K were 36% less likely to die from any cause at all, compared with those having the lowest intake. Additionally, numerous studies have found that vitamin k prevents cancer and increases cancer cell death.  In a study of 510 elderly subjects at high risk for cardiovascular disease, increasing vitamin K intake decreased inflammation markers by 30%! An analysis of 1,381 participants in the Framingham Offspring study found that dietary intake of vitamin K1 is associated with lower levels of 14 different inflammation biomarkers.

Too much of a good thing if hypothyroid?

The cruciferous vegetables are goitrogenic (in addition to soy, sweet potatoes, millet, wheat and some other foods) which does not mean they cause goiters, but does mean that they can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. The cruciferous vegetables are incredibly healthy, as indicated above, so to reduce the goitrogens to a safe level, simply make sure to cook these instead of eating them raw and to limit consumption to no more than a few servings a day if you have hypothyroidism. Whereas, if you have hyperthyroidism, increasing your consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables can be beneficial. If you have no thyroid issues, feel free to continue to eat the cruciferous veggies plentifully, raw or cooked.

Other considerations… Sticky and stinky!

The sulphur in the cruciferous vegetables is a sticky substance that attaches to toxins and drags them out of our body kicking and screaming during Phase 2 of detoxification. This is great! However, not only is sulphur sticky, but it’s also stinky. If you cook these veggies too long, a lot of the Sulphur is released and you get that not so lovely sulphur smell. For collards, I would suggest limiting the cooking to at least 1 minute to decrease goitrogens but not longer than 5 minutes if you are worried about the sulphur smell!

Buy Organic!

The Environmental Working Group has found that conventional collards and other big leafy greens when tested for pesticide levels were high in organophosphate insecticides which are toxic to our nervous system! That means, this is one of those veggies you should buy organic.

Kidney Issues?

Collard greens are high in oxalates, which is normally not an issue, but if you have kidney disease or are prone to kidney stones, you may want to limit those foods that contains high amounts of oxalates.

Please Share!

Now it’s your turn… Please share below in the comments how you like to take your leftovers from boring to renewed. Do you like collard greens? How do you prepare them?

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.

Making it Gluten Free for the Holidays: Simple Changes to Traditional Recipes

Go ahead... it's gluten free

Go ahead... it's gluten free

Okay, you’ve got the whole holiday cooking gluten cross-contamination thing figured out and you are ready to figure out what to bring to a party to stay safely gluten-free and still have fun. Below is a quick list of how to easily make the traditional holiday foods be gluten free, along with suggestions for making these items healthier and even grain-free. Now, of course, not everything is listed here for holiday foods, so if you need a suggestion for how to make something, just ask in the comments and I’ll respond if I have suggestions. I know this list isn’t complete, because I’m not really a traditional holiday-foods kinda girl. Heck, I made homemade grain-free, dairy free pizza for Thanksgiving, so I’m just sharing what is top of mind for traditional…

Turkey

Yay! It’s naturally gluten free and grain-free, unless the bird is stuffed with a traditional stuffing (makes all the meat cross-contaminated). That said, be wary of commercial turkeys, read to make sure the turkeys haven’t been injected with “flavorings” or fillers which almost always contain gluten (and it’s just plain gross!). Sauces used to baste a turkey can contain gluten so find out what was used for basting. Be wary of seasoning packets, marinades and gravy packets that sometimes accompany turkeys, they usually contain gluten, so don’t use them and make your own!

The healthiest turkeys are turkeys that were free-range and fed their natural diet instead of grains.

Stuffing

soggy bread
Mmm… Soggy bread…

To make stuffing that tastes like your traditional stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread, corn muffins, or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread. Easy! And best of all…stale, dense bread makes stuffing better and gluten free bread tends to be denser than gluten containing breads.

Or make a stuffing without bread, by replacing the bread with wild rice. Or for grain-free stuffing, use sausage in place of the bread. So many options! Personally, I’ve always thought stuffing was disgusting…soggy bread, ugh! But I realize I’m alone, most folks like soggy bread. Personally, I’ll choose bread-free, grain-free stuffing every time!

Mashed Potatoes

When homemade, it’s usually gluten free unless a broth is used in place of dairy. Instant mashed potatoes aren’t always gluten free. Potato Buds and Barbara’s Instant mashed potatoes are GF at last check. But come on! Mashed potatoes, pretty easy to make…there’s no reason to substitute boxed, dried, instant mashed potatoes… Really!

For lower glycemic, use sweet potatoes (yep, tastes sweeter, but is actually lower in sugars) instead of white potatoes or substitute steamed cauliflower for mashed potatoes (much more nutritious and lower glycemic). The great thing about using cauliflower is you can whip it up in a food processor with olive oil, butter, coconut oil or gluten-free broth without any concern of it becoming “gluey”…process away! And it takes and looks similar to mashed potatoes, but your blood sugar will thank you for it. I prefer to add a little sautéed garlic and thyme to my mashed cauliflower.

Gravy

For thickening gravy, whisk in a tablespoon or two of sweet rice flour or an arrowroot starch slurry. Potato flour is another choice- but be careful you don’t add too much and end up with gooey gravy you have to almost slice to serve or thicken it!

Another option for thickening gravy is to use an immersion blender to blend up some of the onions (and other veggies if you have them in the gravy). The veggies will naturally thicken your gravy with no need for adding a starch.

Rolls

You can make ‘em or pick up a quick pre-made batch, most natural food stores have a gluten free roll alternative. You may need to use GF hamburger buns or GF English muffins if your store doesn’t have GF rolls for sale.

Of course, even better is to load up on more veggies for your holiday carbs instead of the rolls. Why get filled-up eating rolls, when there are so many yummy holiday foods to eat?  

Cranberry Sauce

The canned, jiggly, weird alien food version with ridges is almost always GF, though making it yourself is much tastier, healthier and surprisingly really easy!

Grab a bag of frozen or fresh cranberries, pour them into a pot, turn the heat on medium and once they have popped, releasing their juices, it’s done. Now of course, if you just ate it like that, it would be crazy sour and rather boring. So throw in some flavors. I like to add the juice and zest of a couple oranges, some dates and/or raisins and apples and let it cook in with the cranberry sauce. Add some warming sweet spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and you have deliciousness on hand. All of the spices and fruit can be cooked in or add the apples raw for some crunch. Speaking of crunch, nuts are a nice addition. Or if you want it even easier, make it raw, by pulsing it in the food processor with these ingredients, and don’t cook it down at all! You can also add in some honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar and/or stevia to sweeten it up a little more, but remember that sour will help us digest some of the holiday foods so don’t sugar crazy!

Pie

Wood rolling pins will cause pie gluten cross-contamination so make sure to put parchment paper between the pie crust and the rolling pin if it’s wood and has ever touched a gluten-containing flour. For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Midel’s Gluten-Free Gingersnaps or Pamela’s cookies (Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling) processed into crumbs. Then simply replace the cookie/cracker crumbs in the recipe with gluten-free cookie crumbs. Need a GF pie crust? Try this Epicurean recipe

That said, that’s waaay too much work for me and I like a high-protein crust that will make-up for the sugars in a filling, dropping the glycemic level some. I always make nut crusts, which couldn’t be easier. Just food process nuts and/or seeds down to the size you like, from completely powdered (flour) to still big pieces of nuts. Add some dates to hold it together. Add a little water until it starts sticking and wa-lah! Press it into an oiled, pie pan to the depth you want and done, no rolling out messy crusts that break and fall apart. Sometimes I add coconut oil instead of dates to help hold it together. Sometimes I add shredded coconut. All delicious and all grain-free, gluten-free and egg-free. If it needs to be nut free, just use shredded coconut and seeds. So easy.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Streusel and marshmallows are the real danger in traditional casserole. To make GF, use GF marshmallows or use GF flour in the streusel, or replace both with chopped nuts for a healthier, blood sugar balancing casserole. Or heck, leave off the topping all together. Sweet potatoes are yummy, why add all the other stuff?

 

Other great sources for Gluten Free Holiday Recipes:

What foods are you feasting on this holiday season? Need more ideas? 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.

Raw Foods Fusion Demystified and a Warming Raw Ginger-Squash Soup Recipe for Winter

I’m a big proponent of Raw Foods Fusion. What? You may ask is that??? Raw foods fusion is like my philosophy of life and food or rather what my philosophy has or is becoming in life and in food… Everything in moderation and never get too extreme.

This is actually a fairly funny philosophy for me to have, because my life has largely been one of extremes–extremes in love, politics, food and fun. Continue reading “Raw Foods Fusion Demystified and a Warming Raw Ginger-Squash Soup Recipe for Winter”

Healthy, Allergen Free Raw Mock Peanut Butter Cups

Mock Peanut Butter Cups

Okay, I have to admit it. I used to love, love, love Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. I couldn’t get enough. But then I got all healthy and somewhere along the way read the ingredients and they were quickly and efficiently but not deliciously eliminated from my diet: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Nonfat Milk, Milk Fat, Lactose, and Soya Lecithin and PGPR), Peanuts, Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, and TBHQ and Citric Acid.

Reeses indicates a risk of gluten cross-contamination and besides that with the milk, peanuts, soy, corn (from dextrose) and preservatives, this is an allergenic, autistic and ADHD kid’s (or adult’s) worse nightmare! Add to that the excessive sugar (sugar, sugar and dextrose) use in it and my blood sugar starts rising just thinking about it? And hmmm…. what exactly is PGPR and TBHQ?

Hersheys is pretty smart, propaganda wise, PGPR and TBHQ sound almost cute, but their full names tip us off that these are additives of the worse sort. PGPR or Polyglycerol Polyrcinoleate  is a food additive experiment. Read about its chemical composition here. It’s a chemical used to decrease the amount of cocoa butter needed in a chocolate product while still allowing for the chocolate flavor and texture. Mmmm… Just what I want, less chocolate and more chemicals!

TBHQ or Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is really, really scary. It’s a metabolite of BHA or butane, and according to Schilderman (1993) it “appeared to be a strong inducer of oxidative DNA damage.” And according to Naturalnews.com “Consuming high doses (between 1 and 4 grams) of TBHQ can cause nausea, delirium, collapse, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vomiting. There are also suggestions that it may lead to hyperactivity in children as well as asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis. It may also further aggravate ADHD symptoms and cause restlessness. Long term, high doses of TBHQ in laboratory animals have shown a tendency for them to develop cancerous precursors in their stomachs, as well as cause DNA damage to them. It is also suggested that it may be responsible for affecting estrogen levels in women.”

Okay, so what’s a healthy, chocolate loving, allergen and chemical avoiding girl to do??? Well make her own healthy, allergen free, and raw (if desired) version of course!

Continue reading “Healthy, Allergen Free Raw Mock Peanut Butter Cups”