Beet Brownies

Beets are rich in minerals and aid in liver detoxification. As we prepare for spring, they are an excellent ingredient to include in roasted vegetable dishes, soups, and in baked goods, too. They lend an earthy sweetness to any dish.

These beautiful root vegetables come in red, pink, yellow and striated varieties. They are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. These plant nutrients provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, which support nervous system health.

Foods belonging to the chenopodium family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — are also high in carotenoids, which support eyesight.

Beets are high in betaine, an essential nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. Choline reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound.

Here is a beet-based recipe to inspire you. I love making these for both children and adults. The beets blend so well with the chocolate that a deep, rich taste comes through and it's nearly impossible to guess what the "secret ingredient" is.

Red Velvet Brownies

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour or millet flour

  • 2 eggs or 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 cup boiled, blended beets

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or rice milk

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop beets and place them in a pot. Cover them with water and boil for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.

Strain off water and place beets in a blender or food processor with almond/rice milk. Blend well.

Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a glass baking dish or pie plate with coconut or sunflower oil.

Pour batter into it and bake for 30 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

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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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Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

When eating treats, it's great to choose those that contain protein. 

Because it takes the body longer to digest protein, blood sugar remains stable when eating sweets with protein. The digestive process takes all carbohydrates and turns them into glucose, a kind of sugar that's and released into the blood stream for energy.

Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps cells to absorb glucose once it's in the blood stream so that they can use it to generate energy. However, if there is too much circulating glucose in the system, the body gets overloaded. 

By consuming excessive carbohydrates and sugar without the protein to slow down the release of glucose into the blood steam, sugar levels and hence insulin levels can become chronically elevated. This elevation can lead to inflammation, high blood sugar and pre-diabetes (also known as insulin resistance).

Combining sweets and protein helps our body make the best use of the energy we gain from treats and keeps blood sugar balanced. Protein sources include: nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, meat, eggs, and cheese.

Nut Butter Chocolate Chippers

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups sorghum or brown rice flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (try to find ones sweetened with rice syrup instead of cane sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Oil a cookie sheet with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, coconut oil, applesauce, coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla. Mix in flour, cinnamon and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Flatten in a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before enjoying.

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Gluten-Free Maple Gingerbread

The nights are getting cooler here in Vermont, and I am thinking about the kinds of warming, blood-building foods that will strengthen our immune systems in preparation for the colder months.

Molasses is an excellent source of iron, supports blood and heart health, and is packed with minerals. Try to find sorghum molasses, which is derived from a low-glycemic, gluten-free grain: sorghum. A relative of millet, sorghum is native to North Africa. It is a warming and tonic food that helps build fluids in the body and regulates digestion. When boiled, it creates a delicious and rich syrup that takes this recipe to another level.

If you cannot find sorghum, unsulphured cane sugar molasses will do just fine.

This recipe is rich in medicinal spices to balance blood sugar (cinnamon), support digestion and endocrine health (nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon), and ward off the cold and flu (ginger and cloves).

Maple Gingerbread

You will need:

  • 1 cup sorghum or millet flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cloves and nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal dissolved into 2 tablespoons hot water (vegan)

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/4 cup hot water

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a baking dish with coconut oil. I use either an 8x8 dish or a loaf pan.

Mix all ingredients together in the order listed. Spread evenly into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Check for done-ness by inserting a knife blade into the center of the bread. Bake for 5 more minutes if necessary.

Cool 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

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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.

Spring Cleanse

Green spring tonics are a time-honored tradition to encourage gentle liver and gall bladder renewal. 

Leafy greens, both wild and cultivated, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all, and we’ll discuss their nutrition as well as many other health benefits. 

This is a time when we transition from Winter hibernation to Summer growth. Because we are part of the earth and it cycles, it’s crucial to align with this seasonal change by strengthening digestion and immunity.

Certain foods and culinary herbs are specifically indicated for supporting this transition. They tend to be ones that promote digestive and eliminative function, or strengthen the immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring's flavor is sour. The sour flavor and the wood element influence the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods include vinegar, horseradish, sauerkraut (and other lacto-fermented vegetables), lemon, rye, turnips, greens, quinoa, millet, fennel, and caraway seeds. Sourness has an astringent and consolidating effect in the body. It can control diarrhea and excess perspiration or help focus a scattered mind. Sour foods will help us harmonize Spring.

In India’s time-honored tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine, spring is known as the Kapha season. Kapha, the earth element, is heavy, grounded, and can feel stuck when it is out of balance. While spring waters are flowing and mud is everywhere, uplift your body, mind, and spirit, with a daily walk, deep breathing, and sour food.

I was raised in the Mediterranean tradition, where we harvested dandelion greens each spring to make a bitter and delicious salad with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and grated carrots. I remember how much my grandmother loved vinegar. She dressed our salads generously with this sour liquid. Thank goodness for the carrots to temper the sour and bitter flavors for an overall harmonious effect.

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Food-Based Cleanse

Spring is wonderful time to cleanse the internal organs with delicious fruit and vegetable juices. If you do not have a juicer, just use a food processor and strain out the pulp before drinking the juice. You can keep juice in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Juice recipes and health benefits:

  • To strengthen digestion - 1 granny smith apple, 2 carrots, 1 beet

  • To support the liver - beet greens, 1 beet, 3 stalks celery, 2 inches fresh ginger root

  • To cleanse the blood - 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 granny smith apple, 2 handfuls fresh parsley

Enjoy! Drink a small glass of juice three times daily, from just after you wake up to times of low energy between meals.

Regardless of whether or not you are able to drink fresh juice, you can lighten your diet and include more lacto-fermented vegetables, bitter greens, lemon juice, and whole grains in your meals.

For a week, try to eliminate the following foods, which can tax the liver, gall bladder, and lymph over time:

  • alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages

  • meat: white fish is ok once during the week if it helps you meet your protein needs

  • cheese, cream, ice cream: choose avocados, coconut milk, roasted root vegetables, baked apples

  • popcorn, crackers, cookies

  • products containing sorbitol or xylitol (sugar-free gum and candies)

  • refined sugar: choose raw honey or maple syrup

  • gluten and processed grains like pasta/bread: choose spring grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet

Instead, enjoy the fresh nourishment of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Garnish food with high quality olive oil or flax oil and lemon juice.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Quinoa porridge with carrot spread and almonds

  • Baked sweet potatoes with hard-boiled eggs

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and quinoa

  • Roasted roots with hard-boiled eggs

  • Baked acorn squash with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter), coconut butter, and cinnamon

Lunch and Dinner:

Use recipes from the "spring" category of this blog.

Keep these on hand along with chopped carrot and celery sticks when you need a snack as you are cooking! Remember that flavor, which comes from spreads and spices, is crucial to enjoying your food.

Snacks:

  • Miso broth

  • Granola bar

  • Smoothie or juice (more juice and smoothie recipes on my blog)

  • Apple or orange

Liquids:

  • Dandelion root tea and a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning

  • At least 3 quarts water daily

  • Herbal tea in the evening: Traditional Medicinals’ Detox tea is a nice choice

Would you like more specific guidance, meal plans, and recipes for your cleanse? Try my two-week, food-based cleanse.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Looking for a healthy treat recipe that kids and adults alike will enjoy?

I have many on this blog, including:

Coconut milk brownies

Pineapple ginger upside down cake

Maple pecan fudge

These cookies are amazing because they taste good and are high in protein, which curbs the blood sugar spike and subsequent crash that happen when we eat sweets without protein.

My (Current) Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

You will need:

  • 1 /4 cup coconut flour

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 1 /4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 eggs, whisked

  • 1 /3 cup maple syrup

  • 3 tablespoons almond milk

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-size mixing bowl mix together flours, spices, and chocolate chips. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

Add the eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Whisk these together, then incorporate with the other ingredients.

Oil a cookie sheet with coconut oil. Place on cookie sheet in heaping spoonfuls. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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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!

Pears for Healthy Digestion

Dry weather and oily, rich winter foods can cause constipation, gas and bloating. If your digestion suffers in the winter because the air is so dry and the meals are heavier, pears are a perfect antidote.

Pears are loaded with flavonols, plant nutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant support. They are high in pectin, a sugar loaded with galacturonic acid, which coats and soothes the intestines to reduce symptoms of heartburn, ulcers, GERD, acid reflux, and colitis. Pear fibers bind with bile acid in the intestines, making them soothing and easily digestible. They are an important part of a low-allergy diet and. In my native Italy, they are one of the first foods given to infants.

These recipes also feature cardamom and olive oil, both of which support digestion in crucial ways.

Cardamom is a fragrant and floral spice native to Southeast Asia that reduces gas and bloating. Its warming and soothing quality makes it a perfect pairing to pears.

Olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat that hails from various parts of the world, including Greece, Syria, and Italy. 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. 

Pear, Almond, and Chocolate Muffins

These delicious muffins are more like dessert. They are gluten-free, (almost) dairy-free, and free of refined cane/beet sugar (adapted from the Five and Spice blog).

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand or you can make your own in a food processor)

  • ½ cup rolled oats (replace this with more almond flour if you want grain-free muffins)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate

  • 1 small pear, diced into little pieces

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin pan with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, oats, spices, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and add the maple, oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and egg. Whisk these together and then fold dry ingredients into wet until mostly smooth and fully combined.

Add the chopped chocolate and pear at the end. 

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake until brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing and serving.

These muffins are best eaten the day they are made.

Pear Almond Cake

This light, fluffy tart is a wonderful brunch addition or a simple treat to serve at the end of a holiday meal.

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup oat flour (buy flour or make it by grinding rolled oats in your blender or food processor)

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 egg

  • 1 pound Anjou pears

  • lemon juice and water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 inch pie plate or cast iron skillet with olive oil.

Slice pears in half, core them, and then slice each half into about 3 smaller slices. Place these slices them in a bowl of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flours and spices. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients, minus the pears. Whisk these together, then incorporate them with the dry ingredients. 

Pour batter into greased pan. Pat pears dry and arrange them in a circle over the batter. Bake for 25 minutes and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Would you like to learn more about which foods are ideal for you? 

Try a free initial consultation with Lisa.

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Healthy Eating Guide and Recipes

As the days grow shorter and we spend more time inside, it's important to focus on healthy eating as preventive care. This is also a great time to enjoy

foods that promote mental health

. Here are some healthy eating guidelines to keep in mind.

Healthy Eating Guidelines

Eat 90% of your food to nourish your body and 10% just for fun. Your eating doesn't have to be perfect, just look for progress!

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat between 9 and 12 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and important phytonutrients such as carotenoids and bioflavonoids that protect us from cancer, heart disease, and most other chronic degenerative illnesses. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with fiber.

Choose organic and/or local foods whenever possible. The average American eats a pound pesticides each year, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Organic and pesticide-free foods have higher levels of nutrients because organic farmers pay more attention to their animals' health and to their soils. Also, the mineral levels in local and organic food are twice as high, on average, as commercially grown foods.

Try to eat foods that are in season. They usually have the highest nutrient content and the greatest enzyme activity. Eat foods that will spoil. This insures that the food still has life in it. Packaged foods lack this nutrient-rich vitality.

Increase high-fiber foods if you can tolerate them. Try to consume 20-30 grams of fiber daily. Richest sources are whole grains (brown rice, bulghur, millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, quinoa), legumes, vegetables and fruits. Fiber protects our colon health, and reduces our risk or colon and breast cancer. Try these high fiber recipes.

Eat high quality fats. Fats found in avocados, fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), nuts and seeds, organic coconut oil and olive oil all provide essential fatty acids. These crucial nutrients reduce inflammation, calm the nervous system, and improve joint motility. 

Eat breakfast! This practice jump-starts your metabolism so you feel more energized, digest better, and use your calories for energy instead of storing them as fat. Find easy breakfast recipes here and here

Follow my healthy eating program. Treat yourself or a loved one to two weeks of clean eating with recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and nutritional recommendations tailored to your dietary needs and health goals. For $39, I will help you develop healthy cooking and eating habits to last a lifetime.

Learn more here.

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Coconut Milk Brownies

Last night, I attended a pot luck and, as usual, decided to create an experimental dessert without following a recipe. I love the mystery and delight that arise through this creative process.

I knew that some of the potluck attendees are gluten-free and dairy-free. Others prefer not to eat any refined beet / cane sugar. I wanted to keep the ingredients list simple, so I created this recipe.

The more you cook without recipes, the more you will understand which ingredients combine best. Keep experimenting! Try these brownies and let me know what you think. The beauty is that they only contain 5 ingredients, most of which you may already have in your pantry.

Coconut Milk Brownies

You will need:

  • 1 can organic coconut milk, full fat

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend all ingredients with an immersion or upright blender.

Oil a glass baking dish or pie plate with coconut or sunflower oil.

Pour batter into it and bake for 35 minutes.

Cool, slice, and enjoy!

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Zucchini!

By popular demand, here is a compendium of zucchini recipes to fulfill the summer abundance of this

amazing food.

When I have too much zucchini, I shred it, put it in freezer bags, and freeze it for winter soups and breads.

Zucchini is a member of the cucurbitaceae family (along with pumpkins, melons, and summer squash). It provides a very good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup); rich in pectin fibers to help regulate blood sugar; reduces inflammation in the cardio-vascular system and gastro-intestinal tract; rich in B vitamins.

Savory Zucchini Cakes

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon each: turmeric, coriander, salt

  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded

  • 3 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • ½ cup cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive or sunflower oil.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

With a soup spoon, scoop out cakes and place them cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip with spatula, bake for 15 more minutes, and savor the results. Try these with quinoa pilaf

.

Grain-Free Zucchini Blueberry Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini

  • 1/2 cup blueberries

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is great for breakfast topped with poached eggs or almond butter.

Classic Zucchini Walnut Bread

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a loaf pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Delicious. Freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a cake pan with sunflower oil.

Blend all ingredients in the order listed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

These make great cupcakes, too! Just place the batter in muffin tins instead of a cake pan. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes instead.

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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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