Blueberry Bread

Winter is a wonderful time to prepare dishes that feature the summer's bounty and remind us of the warmer days that will soon come.

We froze a lot of blueberries this past summer and have been enjoying them in baked goods all winter long.

May this bread nourish and inspire you. It's a great one to make an advance and have ready for breakfast or a snack when you're short on time.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda

  • A pinch of salt

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350.

Oil a loaf pan and set aside.

Mixed together the flours, spices, soda, powder, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and put the vinegar, syrup, eggs and oil into that well.

Whisk them together with each other then incorporate with the dry ingredients. The batter should be fairly thick and lumpy.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Run a knife along the edges of the bread and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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Coconut Almond Cake With Blueberry Lemon Glaze

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Summer is here! Berries are one of my favorite aspects of summer cooking and eating. They are so high in healing plant compounds, low on the glycemic index, and naturally sweet. I take every opportunity to savor them during their short season. This recipe features blueberries, which are high in phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. They lower triglycerides and protect cells and blood vessels in the heart. Blueberries improve memory, support the nervous system, and balance blood sugar. Try to eat 1 cup of blueberries daily to reap their health benefits.

Coconut Almond Cake

This cake is gluten-free, grain-free, and high in protein. 

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup milk of any kind

  • 4 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil in a 9x9 cake pan in the oven.

Mix all the ingredients together in the order listed. Pour the melted coconut oil into the bowl and mix well. Pour batter into cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Blueberry Lemon Glaze

This is truly the icing on the cake!

You will need:

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch of salt

  • zest of 1 lemon

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool slightly before pouring it over the cake. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. It's even more delicious the next day after the glaze soaks into the cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Summer is transitioning into its late stages and we move from enjoying the bitter flavor of quinoa olives and salad greens to embracing the sweet flavor of millet and round vegetables.

Why not mix the bitter and the sweet in this delicious chocolate cake recipe? Try it and let me know what you think. It makes a great birthday cake.

You will need:

  • 1 bar dark chocolate 80%

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat.

Place in food processor with all other ingredients.

Blend well.

Pour in greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Dust with cocoa powder or cover with

coconut frosting

if you like.

Whole Food Carrot Cake

The first carrot fronds are popping out of our rich garden soil. The long summer days are hot and we give the beets and carrots some extra water to encourage their growth.

As the first tiny carrots come into the summer harvest, I give thanks with this delicious, wholesome and protein-rich carrot cake.

Try it for yourself! It happens to be vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, and sweetened only with dates.

Grain-Free Carrot Cake

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts

  • 1/2 cup almonds

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated

  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a cake pan with olive or sunflower oil.

Place all ingredients EXCEPT carrots in a food processor. Blend well. Fold in carrots.

Smooth into cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make coconut frosting to go on top.

Coconut Butter Frosting

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a small pot. Heat gently, whisking and stirring to blend.

Spread a light layer of frosting onto baked carrot cake.

With gratitude to My Whole Food Romance for this inspiration.

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Healthy Summer Treats

During these long summer days, we can support ourselves and maintain balanced energy with healthy treats. Instead of grabbing something quick and chock full of preservatives when you are starved, pack some of these treats in your snack bag.

As always, be well and enjoy whatever you eat.

Maple Pecan Fudge

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup almond butter

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a blender and combine.

Fold in 1/2 cup pecans.

Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment/waxed paper. Allow the mixture to cool in the freezer or fridge into solid. Slice into small 1 inch by 1 inch squares or slices. Because of the coconut oil, these will melt if not kept in the fridge or freezer.

Protein Power Squares

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

  • 1 banana, mashed

  • 1/3 cup nut butter

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

  • 1/4 C chopped walnuts

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything together. Shape into squares. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars

You will need:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (no sugar, organic) - substitute any nut butter you prefer

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

  • 1 cup chopped almonds, cashews, or pecans

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt peanut butter and maple over low heat.

Once all of the mixture is all melted, add the rice and chopped nuts.

Mix all of it together and press it into a 9×13 pan.

While the rice part is cooling, melt the chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla over low heat. I just use the same pan for this part to save on dish washing.

Spread the chocolate chip mixture over the rice base, put in the fridge to let cool and soften.

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My Favorite Spring Treats

Spring is a time to lighten up, eat fewer refined foods, and move towards the whole, local ingredients that support the health of local farms, the bioregion, and your body.

May this practice of eating simple, seasonal, flavorful food help you connect with nature and welcome each day as an opportunity for rejuvenation and new discovery.

May day is honored in Northern traditional cultures as Beltaine, a celebration of passion, creativity, fertility and the resplendent sun, which shines warmer each day and lingers longer each evening. Spark your passion and creative impulse by getting in the kitchen and making these wholesome treats! They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

Sweet Potato Bars

For the crust:

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  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:

  • 1 pound orange fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

Chop and boil the sweet potatoes. Keep the skin on for maximum nutritional benefit. Drain them and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan with olive oil. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse until mixture reaches a coarse meal that's evenly moist.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place all the topping ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. There's no need to wash the processor between the crust and the topping.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Bake about 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bites

You will need:

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  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic unsalted almond butter*
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs

*You can substitute cashew or peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 

Using a soup spoon, evenly space scoops of the mixture on the baking sheet. Press down with a spatula or back of the spoon to slightly flatten. 

Bake for about 15 minutes.

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring and eating!

Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; high in flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels; rich in vitamin E to promote cognitive abilities and protect the brain.

Thanks to Rebecca Katz for this inspiration!

Candida Muffins

As a breastfeeding mother of an infant of almost 2 months, I have been through many of the trials of what can occur during the early stages. After having a bacterial infection, mastitis, my breasts also developed a secondary fungal infection: candida. I have been working to clear it from my system for over three weeks.

For many years, I have been helping clients with chronic overgrowth of candida albicans yeast. Now, I'm truly starting to understand how difficult it can be to restore balance once the system is out of alignment.

Candida albicans is a yeast that lives naturally in small quantities in our digestive tract. However, like any beneficial microorganism, when it grows out of proportion and over-colonizes the digestive tract, it can create problems in the body. Systemic candida can include nail and toe nail fungus, digestive distress, cramping, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and a host of additional issues, including eczema and other skin rashes.

The best way to help the body return to balance is to eat pre-biotic foods, like onions and whole, gluten-free grains. These nourish beneficial probiotic bacteria as well as being part of a diet that does not allow the yeast to flourish. Yeast thrives on sugar dairy products and refined carbohydrates. These are the ingredients to avoid.

To reduce candida overgrowth, focus on eating vegetables, non-glutinous whole grains, animal protein, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats that are also antifungal - like coconut oil and olive oil. In addition, taking a probiotic like Mega Foods' Megaflora can be extremely helpful.

Because I love to bake creative treats, I decided to take all of the most healthful ingredients that also tastes the sweetest and combine them to make a cookie that still fits the parameters of the candida cleanse. I hope you will enjoy this recipe! My husband drizzles cookies with maple syrup for a sweeter treat.

Cinnamon is extremely powerful at stopping the overgrowth of candida yeast. Coconut helps with this process as well and is also pre-biotic due to its high fiber content. Berries are the only allowable fruit on this diet, so I decided to include those, too!

Blueberry Coconut Muffins - Unsweetened!

You will need:

  • 11/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, forked out into small chunks

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  • A pinch of salt

  • 2 cups almond milk

*For a sweeter treat, add 1/4 cup honey and 1 extra tablespoon of coconut flour to compensate for the extra liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal and shredded coconut together. Add cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Mix again.

Add the coconut oil and mix well so that small, pearl-sized pieces are evenly coated with the flour throughout the batter. Add the berries and mix again. Finally, mix, add the almond milk and mix one more time.

Oil muffin tins with sunflower oil. Fill each tin three quarters of the way.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Let me know what you think!

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Birthday Cake Recipe from Morocco

My birthday is December 20th, which is very close to Winter Solstice. I honor this time of rest, darkness, short days and long nights. It feels like a privilege to be born at this time of year when so many cultures celebrate the little spark of light inside that keeps the soul alive and thriving throughout difficult times.

One thing that nourishes me during this time is preparing simple sweets that are both delicious and wholesome. This year, I made my own birthday cake, which was a delight.

I adapted this traditional North African recipe to include some Vermont ingredients. Try to make it at home! It would make a lovely addition to a holiday brunch or a New Year's party.

Lemon Rosewater Coconut Cake

For the cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 can (7 ounces) organic, unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups rice or millet flour
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
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For the glaze:

  • 1/2 can (7 ounces) organic, unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a cake pan with olive oil.

Place all cake ingredients in a blender or food processor in the order listed. Omit the zest and shredded coconut. Blend well.

Add in the zest and shredded coconut. Mix gently by hand. Pour into cake pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife tests clean when inserted.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Place all ingredients in a small pot and heat to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to half the volume. This will take about five minutes. Set aside and spread over cake once it comes out of the oven.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes before slicing. Divine!

Healthy Fats for Well-Being

Did you know that fat doesn't make you fat?

Weight gain occurs when we eat hydrogenated fats or consume carbohydrates without fat. Fats are crucial nutrients that provide up to 10 kilocalories per gram of energy, compared with four kilocalories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins. Fats are not taken up directly by any tissue, but must be hydrolyzed outside the cell first.

When metabolizing fats, the body must use energy, primarily from carbohydrates, to produce energy. One of our essential digestive enzymes, lipase, breaks down fat and helps us use it as energy. Lipases are produced in the pancreas and help digest and transport fats throughout the systems of most living organisms. Fats come from food, adipocytes (fat cells), and some amino acids. Lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs in the mitochondria. Next, lipogenesis, or fat synthesis, takes place the liver, adipose tissue, and intestinal mucosa. The fatty acids derived from this process are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and using them as energy.

When we support our pacreatic enzyme production by eating whole grains instead of processed ones (bread, chips, baked goods) and consuming high quality fats, we also help our bodies use fat for energy and neuro-endocrine balance. Fat maintains cell regulatory signals (essential to combating auto-immune conditions), supple skin, balanced hormonal function, and healthy nervous system response. Without the presence of fat in the system, the body stores carbohydrates as fat because it does not know when it will next gain this essential nutrient.

Healthy fats are essential to our mental, immune, and digestive health. They are also anti-inflammatory and aid in soft tissue recovery. Here are some of the health benefits of high quality, cold-pressed organic fats.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temperature, first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Try these recipes using olive oil.

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Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Try these recipes using sunflower oil.

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Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

Try these recipes using coconut oil.

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Most of all, take time out to prepare healing food. Rest easy in the knowledge that you are preparing your body, mind and spirit for winter with food as medicine.

Foods For Mental Health

At some point in our lives, most of us experience anxiety and / or depression. Here are some foods that can help soothe those responses and bring balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

Herbs and Spices

Chamomile Tea

Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea helps decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks. Drink a cup after dinner. Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if you like.

Dark Chocolate

It’s true! The Journal of Psychopharmacology has published a study revealing that people who eat about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (75% or more) per day, feel more calm than those who do not. Just be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine. Be sure to eat it before 3 p.m. to avoid it affecting your sleep.

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Turmeric

Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuro-protective quality and help enhance your mood. These antioxidants are an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders. Cook with turmeric powder when you can and take a supplement to support your dietary intake.



Whole Grains

Oats

Oats are high in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. They ease digestive stress and support healthy transit time; enhance immune response to infection and stabilize blood sugar; calm and soothe the nervous system to alleviate mild depression.

Brown Rice

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.



High Quality Meat and Fermented Dairy

Full-Fat Kefir & Yogurt

The gut is considered the "second brain" because it's home to 95% of your "feel good" hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, a healthy gut helps manage stress and reduce depression and anxiety. Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry. Kefir, an fermented dairy drink much like liquid yogurt, is a powerful pro-biotic, which contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K for brain health. If you prefer yogurt, choose the full-fat, unsweetened kind (I like Butter Works Farm or Brown Cow Brand). Add maple syrup and home-made granola for a delicious breakfast.

Turkey

This delicious meat is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat has been proven to reduce anxiety. Choose antibiotic-free turkey whenever possible.

Grass-Fed Organ Meats

If you eat meat, grass-fed, organic organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients (like zinc and Vitamin D) needed to reduce anxiety. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for balancing the hormones that regulate mood. Cook chicken or beef liver with onions and purée it in the blender to make a delicious spread.



Vegetables

Asparagus

This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to neurotransmitter impairment and cause anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

Avocados

These fruits are wonderful for maintaining balanced brain health, thus reducing the stress that leads to anxiety and depression. They contain potassium, which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados are also rich in beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are essential for the health of the nervous system. 

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Leafy Greens

Those who feel stress and anxiety can increase intake of dark leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and collard greens. These plant foods are rich in magnesium, which helps us relax. It also regulates the connection between the brain and endocrine system so that we go out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into relaxation mode.


Fats

Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia and flax seeds, and winter squash can also help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Olive oil

Monounsaturated and liquid at room temp., first cold press olive oil is high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It improves calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Sunflower oil

This polyunsaturated oil is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates the liver rejuvenation and aids in nutrient absorption; its high magnesium content soothes nerves and muscles, acts as a diuretic to counter-act water retention, and lubricates the digestive system to aid elimination.

Coconut oil

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.


Coconut Avocado Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch salt

  • ½ can unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 avocado

Blend well and enjoy!


Vegetable Walnut Cobbler

For the cobbler:

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 1 packed cups of fresh spinach

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

  • For the topping:

  • 2 cups quick oats

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, and paprika

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 5 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 1 cup milk of your choosing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil a baking dish and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes Add spinach, turn off heat, stir well, and spread into baking dish.

Bake the vegetables for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

For the topping, mix all ingredients together except butter / oil.

Cut butter / oil into chunks in the mixture and gently fold together.

Add milk, mix briefly to incorporate, and set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven, top with clumps of topping mixture, and bake for 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

GET CREATIVE: Use collards and sweet potatoes instead of spinach and zucchini.

Cooling Desserts for Lingering Evenings

June is here. Firefly season in Vermont. Lupines blooming blue next to ox-eye daisies.

The angelica, black cohosh and feverfew plants tower over the garden, delighted to be its protectors.

Last fall's potatoes are sprouting: it's time to plant them.

The soil is warm enough for winter squash seeds to sprout and peas are almost a foot tall.

At our homestead on Sparrow Farm Road, this is the time we await with delight. 

Whatever summer looks like for you, soak in it.

Sit with the evening and let yourself become absorbed in the pink light as it slowly gives way stars.

Find local raspberries ans strawberries to make an amazing topping for this vegan cheesecake.

Hawai'i Inspiration: Vegan Cheesecake

Recipe by Ani Phyo - courtesy of Alessandra Jann-Jordan

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts (or almonds)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates

  • 1/4 shredded coconut

Chop nuts and dates into small pieces.

Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Mix well.

'Flour' bottom of 9 inch spring form pan with shredded coconut. 

Press crust evenly on bottom.

For the filling:

  • 3 cups cashews

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup honey (or pitted dates)

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • Water as needed

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth cream.

Add water as needed to make a smooth, thick batter - like pancake batter.

Smooth into pan and place into freezer until firm - about 12 hours. 

Before serving, defrost on a plate 1/2 hour.

Top with fresh, chopped raspberries and strawberries.

Enjoy!

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Make your own flour blends

The corporate food industry has taken wheat, which is highly nutritious and rich in protein, B vitamins, and complex carbohydrates, and de-natured it into a high yield grain. It is largely indigestible, not only because it comes from grain that has been genetically engineered, but also because the resultant flour is stripped of its bran and germ.

The bran and germ are home to vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Our bodies need these compounds to metabolize the grain effectively.

Due to an over-consumption of this hybridized wheat, which the body doesn't actually recognize as food, many of us have become gluten-sensitive.

Here are some tips to create your own gluten-free flour blends without the strange additives.

Gluten-Free Flour Mixes

Just use this rule of thumb: 70% whole grain or nut flour blend to 30% starches – no xantham gum needed!

Some whole grain flours are more dry and light. Others are more moist and dense. Make sure that you use a balance of these two in your 70% mixture.

Think about the outcome: if you want a rich, dense baked good, use more of the heavy flours. For a light, fluffy crust, use the lighter, drier flours. Consider that some flours taste better in savory or sweet batters, too.

For example, a cauliflower pizza crust will do well with cornmeal. A brownie batter will thrive on brown rice or oat flour.

Whole grain flours include:

  • Buckwheat (dry & dense; savory)

  • Sorghum (moist and dense; either sweet or savory)

  • Oat (moist and dense; sweet)

  • Brown Rice (moist and dense; sweet)

  • Millet (medium; either sweet or savory)

  • Quinoa (dry and light; savory)

  • Teff (dry and light; savory)

  • Corn (dry and light; mildly sweet)

  • Almond (dry and dense; mildly sweet)

Starches include:

  • White sweet rice flour

  • Tapioca flour

  • Coconut flour

  • Arrowroot powder

Maple Cinnamon Scones

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix well:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pinch salt

  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal

  • ½ cup sorghum flour

  • 1 cup millet flour

  • ¼ cup applesauce

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons nut or seed butter

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil and drop dough in spoonfuls. Flatten each cookie with the back of the spoon. Slide cookie sheet into oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Get creative! For variety, add one of the following: 2 spoonfuls raspberry jam; 1 inch fresh chopped ginger root & ½ teaspoon clove powder; ¼ cup raisins (first soak for 5 minutes in hot water and drain).

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Gratitude and Delight

Friends,

I appreciate all who have recently told me that you read this blog. Thank you!

When I write, I often wonder if anyone will read these words and try the recipes and suggestions I offer. 

Always feel free to send me a note or leave a comment at the end of this post. It's nourishing for me to know that we are connecting. Likewise, please let me know how I can best support you and answer your food and health questions.

Recently, a friend and follower let me know how much she liked the smoothie recipes I had posted. She encouraged me to offer more - here goes.

This one's for you!

Love, Lisa

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (either fresh or frozen and thawed for 10 minutes)

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 2 spoonfuls tahini

  • 1/2 cup spoonful whole milk cow yogurt or coconut yogurt (choose a brand with no added sugar)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Blend well and enjoy for breakfast with quinoa almond pancakes

.

Avocado Date Almond Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix:

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • pinch salt

  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful chopped, pitted dates

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 handful almonds

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Blend well and enjoy!


Maca Cacao Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender or Vitamix in the order listed:

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon maca powder

  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder

  • 1/4 cup hot water

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful pitted dates, chopped

  • 1 handful almonds, chopped

  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Blend well and savor slowly. This smoothie is like a dessert pudding that lends endurance, too.

The sustained energy comes from maca, a root indigenous to the Andes that's often prepared as a food within its local context. It is rich in calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It contains essential fatty acids and amino acids (the building blocks of protein), too.


Green Fruity Delight Smoothie

In a blender, place:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1 green apple, cored and sliced

  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 cups spinach

  • One inch of ginger root (no need to peel if it's organic)

  • 2 teaspoons

  • spirulina powder

  • 1/2 cup water

Blend well. This is an excellent smoothie for cooling summer heat.


Pineapple Mango Happy Belly Smoothie

In a blender or Vitamix, place:

  • 2 cups frozen, diced mango

  • 2 cups frozen, diced pineapple

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2 handfuls cashews

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Blend well and enjoy! You will boost your metabolism and digest better thanks to these incredible, golden fruits - high in digestive enzymes.


Very Berry Yogurt Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries

  • 1 medium banana

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, whole fat yogurt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg

  • 1 cup water

Blend well and enjoy! 

The yogurt will provide probiotic support to your gut microbiome and its protein content will keep you going until your next meal.


Chia Raspberry Coconut Smoothie

Place these ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 handful raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed for 10 minutes)

  • 1 spoonful chia seeds

  • 2 spoonfuls shredded, unsweetened coconut

  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full-fat and organic)

Blend well and enjoy for breakfast with quinoa date porridge.

You can try smoothie recipes  with kombucha or with turmeric here

.To learn about the healing properties of these foods, please join email newsletter updates.

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Rhubarb

Spring is here. In many gardens, rhubarb patches are flourishing. This amazing food is perfect for this season. 

It features the sour flavor, which, according to Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, renews our digestive systems after eating the heavier foods of winter.

Indigenous to Siberia, its leaves are so high in oxalic acid that they are somewhat toxic. Only eat the fresh stems before they become woody and stringy.

Try it!

Rhubarb is high in fiber and thus soothes stomach ailments and relieves constipation when eaten. Used topically, it makes an effective poultice to reduce swelling.

One serving provides about half of the daily value in vitamin K, which supports healthy bones and strong memory. Rhubarb contains vitamin C for healthy skin and resistance to infection. It is also high in iron, potassium, and calcium.

Rhubarb Coconut Milk Custard

For the tart:

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 cup spelt (wheat-free) OR millet flour (gluten-free)

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, spooned out in small chunks

For the custard:

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 3 teaspoons arrow root powder

  • ½ pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch thick pieces

  • juice of 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together all the tart ingredients in a large bowl. Add the coconut oil last and toss it with the flour mixture so that each chunk is coated with flour. Mix gently with your hands until a thick dough forms. Flatten dough into baking dish and set aside.

Then, using the same bowl, mix all the custard ingredients together. Whisk well to incorporate. Add the rhubarb and pour mixture into crust.

Bake for 40 minutes or until custard doesn’t jiggle when you give it a shake. Cool, slice and enjoy topped with fresh strawberries if you like!


Raspberry Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

You will need:

  • 1 cup pearl tapioca (not instant)

  • 2 cups milk (cow or almond)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup honey

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, tapioca, vanilla, and rhubarb. Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat or until the tapioca looks translucent.

Add raspberries, lemon juice and honey. Stir well and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Serve in wine glasses or decorative bowls. Top with slivered almonds if you like.


Rhubarb Compote

You will need:

  • Juice of 1 orange

  • Zest of 1/2 orange

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into half-inch pieces

  • 1/4 pound strawberries, topped and chopped

To prepare:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb forms a thick paste, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Store in jars in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.


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Rhubarb Ginger Muffins

You will need:

  • ½ cup rhubarb compote (use recipe above)

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 ½ cups spelt (wheat-free) or brown rice (gluten-free) flour

  • 1/2 cup milk (cow or almond)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with oil or line with baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together coconut oil and maple syrup. Add the egg and whisk well. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.

Fill muffin cups two thirds full of batter. Using a spoon, make a slight depression in the center of the batter. Place a tablespoon of the rhubarb jam into the center (the jam will fill the cupcakes as they bake).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Spring Smoothies Make Terrific Breakfasts

Life is full. As the days grow longer and we start to be more active, it's as important as ever to start our days with a protein-packed breakfast. Try these smoothies to ease digestion, strengthen the body, mind, and spirit for the day ahead, and embrace spring.

These smoothies are also an ideal way to refuel after a workout, hike, or bike ride. For those of use who need extra protein to support healthy pregnancy or maintain long-term energy during physical activity, add organic hemp seed powder.

Each of these smoothies provides beneficial pro-biotic bacteria with ingredients such as kombucha. They also contain pre-biotic ingredients, such as papaya and flaxseed meal, to nourish that good gut bacteria.

Food is medicine. Learn to use it wisely. Breathe into the present moment and appreciate life for a moment before you sip your healing beverage. 

Digest-Ease Smoothie

Blueberries are high in antioxidants, spinach is rich in fiber and minerals, almond butter provides protein and is pre-biotic, kombucha is pro-biotic, and spirulina micro-algae help to cleanse the lymphatic system. Here's to your health!

You will need:

  • 2 cups blueberries - fresh or frozen

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder

  • 1 cup kombucha

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender.

Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

Turmeric stops the body's inflammatory response, ginger warms the digestive system, papaya provides potent digestive enzymes, walnuts are rich in ellagic acid to nourish the brain, and flax seed is pre-biotic.

You will need:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

  • ¼ cup dried, unsweetened papaya, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes

  • ¼ cups walnuts

  • ½ inch fresh ginger root

  • ½ inch fresh turmeric root

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ cup flaxseed meal

Boil a bit of water and soak the papaya in a bowl.

Chop ginger and turmeric.

Drain papaya water.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.

Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!

Do you have a smoothie recipe to share? #showusyoursmoothie

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Fresh, Fruity, & Fabulous

Smoothies are not just for breakfast! Enjoy them as snacks when the afternoon blues hit or serve them in a little cup as dessert when visitors come to dinner.

With the coming new moon and spring equinox on March 20th, these recipes will uplift you and inspire you to sow seeds of intention for the season to come.

Each one of these recipes features coconut, which helps to tone and nourish your hormonal and digestive systems and bring the balance that's synonymous with this time of year.

Coconut

Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, coconut is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility. Its anti-bacterial action makes it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites. This food is considered sacred by people from the Indonesian Archipelago to the Indian Sub-Continent because of its potent healing properties. 

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Coconut Cream Pie

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 banana

  • ½ orange

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend until smooth.


Decadent Chocolate Cherry

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • ¾ cup of frozen cherries

  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Blend until smooth.


Soothing Delight

You will need:

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and de-seeded

  • 2 dates, fresh or dried, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Blend until smooth.

Gut issues? Try an Elimination Diet + Custom Healthy Eating Program

Do you have a rumbly, uncomfortable belly?

Does your skin itch or give you blemishes?

Do you experience gas, bloating, irregular stool frequency (more or less than once / twice daily)?

Do you have constipation or diarrhea occasionally?

Try an elimination diet.

"Elimination" comes from the Latin word meaning "beyond the threshold".

Move beyond the threshold of your semi-wellness.

Walk through the door of discovery, find the foods and eating habits that cause distress, and let them go, once and for all!

Try this guide to get started. If you would like,

I can tailor your Elimination Diet to your needs and goals.

Clean out your kitchen.

Remove processed, packaged items and those containing sugar in all forms. Let go of coffee and alcohol, too. Use this guide to alternative sweeteners to help you with cravings.

Go shopping.

Buy foods according to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Guide from the Environmental Working Group. Make sure to get plenty of gluten-free bulk grains, hormone / antibiotic free chicken, fish and eggs, and lots of vegetables. 

Start your elimination diet when you have a day or two off to be at home. Set aside time to cook and follow these meal plans and watch these videos to help you with prep.

I can help tailor shopping lists and meal plans to your needs.

Keep a journal.

Write your intention for your Elimination Diet. What do you plan to get out of this two-week period of cleansing? What you will do when cravings hit.?

Eliminate potential allergens.

Start by eliminating gluten, dairy, coffee, and sugar. When you move beyond the threshold of these foods, you will see how many more delicious new ingredients there are to try!

Substitute.

Instead of:

  • gluten, try buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, and oats;

  • sugar, try applesauce, dates, figs, and little bits of raw honey;

  • coffee, try green tea or a coffee substitute like Dandy Blend;

  • dairy, try almond or rice milk.

If you would like to do a more in-depth elimination diet, I can help you by customizing recipes, prep + meal plans to eliminate these common allergens as well: corn, peanuts, soy, eggs, chocolate, vinegar, yeast, low-quality fats + oils, fatty meat, beans.

Re-Introduction

Hello allergen! Nice to meet you again! Does my body like you? Let's see.

After the elimination phase, start re-introducing the foods that you excluded for 2 weeks. You will notice immediately that, when you challenge your body with offensive foods, it will react! 

Itchy eyes, digestive distress of any kind, shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue, and nausea are all signs of a food sensitivity.

Record it in your journal and try to avoid it from now on.

The elimination diet takes a little bit of planning and coordination, but it is simple to do and can make a huge difference in your health!

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Hazelnut Escarole Salad

For many indigenous cultures of this hemisphere, today's full moon is known as the wolf moon. The wolf honors its pack, its community, its loved ones. It also takes time alone to howl at the moon, hear its own voice, and reflect the importance of taking space to care for the self.

The wolf moon reminds me to find inner balance so that I can relate to others in a harmonious way.

Try these recipes to balance body, mind, and spirit. Prepare them mindfully. Spend time with the ingredients. Taste as you go. Mix and match them to create different meals.

Most of all, be well and take time to reflect on the splendor of your own inner harmony.

Hazelnut Escarole Salad

For the dressing, blend these ingredients in a food processor:

¼ cup roasted hazelnuts

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon raw honey

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)

Then, mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl to assemble the salad:

1 head escarole, washed and steamed

1 green tart apple, thinly sliced

½ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

¼ cup sourdough bread croutons (optional)

Pour dressing over salad, toss well to coat, and serve with your favorite soup.

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4 ingredient cookies

I developed these cookies at the last moment before a party we hosted this past weekend. They were such a huge hit that I decided to share the recipe with you.

If you like to make party favors or treats for friends and neighbors, this wholesome, simple option will keep everyone healthy and smiling through the intensity of the holidays.

Remember to keep mindfulness and exercise alive during the this time. This practice could be as simple as taking a deep breath in and out before each meal and going for a walk once a day.

The more you can maintain routines in the midst of chaotic times, the healthier and happier you will be on the other side.

Be well and stay in touch!

Lisa


WHOLESOME 4 INGREDIENT COOKIES

You will need equal parts of:

  • Any nut or seed (I like roasted almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds)

  • Dates, pitted

  • Shredded coconut

  • Unsweetened applesauce

GET CREATIVE: add cinnamon; use dried apricots instead of dates.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cookie sheet with sunflower or coconut oil.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender.

Blend until a thick dough results.

Coat the palms of your hands with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.

Roll small balls of dough between your palms and place them on the cookie sheet.

Once all the dough is rolled, wash your hands.

Using the back of a fork, flatten each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes.

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Spices for healthy holiday cooking

The early winter holidays are traditionally a gathering time. Come together with friends and family, slow down and enjoy the peaceful darkness of long evenings. As you circle around the meal table, remember that the light will return at winter solstice, December 21st.

Honor the peace that comes before the light slowly starts returning. Nourish yourself and your loved ones while staying healthy by incorporating these spices into your holiday cooking. You probably already do.

CINNAMON

During the colder months, cinnamon increases warmth and circulation and supports efficient digestion of fats and heavy foods. It counteracts the congestion that is often accompanied by dairy-rich foods.

Cinnamon also brings relief from the common cold and flu by dissolving mucus and resolving coughs and bronchial congestion. 

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is a highly prized digestive aid, commonly added to cheese sauces and creamy desserts. Enjoy it! It mediates the effects of rich food, sweets, overeating and late-night eating. Watch this short video on how to make a vegan cream sauce that mimics the flavor of dairy.

CLOVES

This potent spice comes from a beautiful beautiful tropical bush, the clove bush. It can develop into a large woody shrub. I have seen it growing in the shade of coffee trees in Indonesia. It is antimicrobial and antiseptic, particularly for the gums and teeth. Heavy holiday desserts are known to clog the sinuses and produce mucus. Cloves clear the sinuses, encourage mental clarity and clear mucus. Hence, they are a perfect addition to sweet treats as well as savory dishes.

Try these recipes to incorporate a taste of health into your meals.

COCONUT CARROT RICE PUDDING

You will need:

  • 1 can organic, full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey to finish

In a pot, bring coconut milk, rice and water to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate carrots.

Reduce heat to low; add carrots, vanilla, spices and raisins.

Stir well, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. The mixture will still be liquid, like a thick stew. Cook it down more if you like or try it as is.

Remove from heat, stir in honey, and serve in small bowls, perhaps with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

GET CREATIVE! Two ideas: substitute parsnips for carrots. Instead of raisins, add chopped almonds and dates.

BAKED APPLES STUFFED WITH ALMONDS AND FIGS

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

  • ¼ cup red wine

  • 6 tart apples

  • pinch salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine chopped figs, almonds and wine in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop apples in half, remove core, and place right-side up in a greased baking dish that has a lid. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Fill apples with fig almond mixture.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, pour over apples, seal tightly, and bake for 1 hour. 

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you like!

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