deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root

 

Some foods simply have seasonal appeal. Take the pumpkin spiced latte for instance.  Come September #psl is as ubiquitous as yellow school buses and leather boots.  If you deconstruct these cravings you may find a range of reasons that are as simple as it’s in season and as complex as every year on Christmas Eve we would go to my grandma’s…. (insert long story).

Whether the reason is ancestral, physiological or pure sentiment you can try denying this little craving monster.  But who’s to say that won’t backfire, giving him the ammunition to turn up louder and more aggressive the next time? Why not reinvent your kitchen’s greatest hits album instead? Sure it takes a little time and ingenuity, but luckily the blogosphere has streamlined much of the trial and error process.

As it relates to seasonal changes and cravings I do want to talk about Ayurvedic practices at some point.  It’s truly fascinating, but arguably in a different echelon from what I want to discuss today. Today I want to keep it light… and fluffy… and SPONGEY! 

Any guesses on what seasonal treat I’m talking about?  The popularity of this food(-like substance) can probably be blamed on the Girl Scouts (as if the cookies weren’t enough…). It’s a versatile treat, and was originally derived from a root with properties known to combat sore throats.  

The marshmallow.

Marshmallows are one of those foods that I’ve always felt ambivalent about.  On one hand I love a toasty campfire s’more.  On the other hand as a standalone treat I find the modern marshmallow gagworthy (completely unrelated to participation in a Chubby Bunny challenge).  But then again, what’s hot cocoa without marshmallows?  I was torn.  Let’s be honest, industrialized grocery store marshmallows are kinda gross. And who can justify buying the $7 organic bag?  Yet I always seem to find myself giving in…

My family has had slew of European house guests the last couple years and it’s somehow become tradition to introduce them to ooey gooey s’mores – high fructose corn syrup and all. We even had s’mores at my sister’s wedding reception in Slovenia!  Occasionally I would halfheartedly buy the organic bag, feeling like the end product would be slightly less “authentic.” Not sure it gets much more dualistic than that.  After all, I’d already substituted out for gluten free grahams and no soy chocolate, so why not swap out the marshmallow too?  Eventually I drew a hard line and said no HFCS in the house.  Period.  End of story.  

Then December rolled around.

Last year I traded in the traditional advent calendars for a homemade activity calendar.  One night we read the Christmas Story, another day we make a gingerbread house, the next evening we drive around and look at lights…  Well, when I unwrapped this DIY masterpiece last week I got pretty pumped.  With one caveat.  

Aaaack!  There was that darn marshmallow sauntering in once again!

But this time I got crafty.  After all, I was just coming off the Thanksgiving high of having a breakfast-approved alternative to traditional pumpkin pie, so why not give the marshmallow a shot. I did. And I’ve been bragging about it every day since! 

Please note I am NOT a food blogger (I’m a health coach), but this recipe was too good to keep to myself. And aside from running around looking for marshmallow root and a tea infuser, I swear the hardest part will be waiting the 4 hours for the marshmallows to set!  Of course you can always reserve a little marshmallow fluff in the meantime. There’s still honey in them, so I don’t know that I’d call them 100% guilt-free, but they are paleo and GAPS-approved (read:  gut-friendly).  Of course if you compensate by sprinkling a couple probiotic capsules into the batch that might be one step closer to putting marshmallows back in the “medicinal” category.

I scoured the Web for a few suitable suggestions and ultimately combined a few recipes into one super-duper recipe.  Thanks to Urban Poser, Super Glue Mom and Wellness Mama for the guidelines!

deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root

  • Time: approx. 5 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. marshmallow root
  • 1/2 c. warm filtered tap water
  • 2 T. Great Lakes beef gelatin
  • 1/2 c. local honey
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • Arrowroot or Tapioca flour
  • coconut oil

Kitchen equipment:

  • large stand up mixer (recommended) or hand mixer, with metal bowl
  • small saucepan
  • cooking or candy thermometer
  • tea infuser
  • square or rectangular pan (8×8 for chunky or 9×13 for bite size)
  • parchment paper
  • kitchen shears or pizza cutter

Instructions:

  1. Diffuse the marshmallow root in warm tap water.
  2. Meanwhile, coat your pan with coconut oil and then line with parchment, keeping some extra length for lifting out the marshmallows later. The oil keeps the paper from slipping while you spread the tacky mixture. Dust the paper with (gluten-free) flour to reduce the overall sticky factor.
  3. After 5 minutes (or longer) of steeping pour 1/4 cup of the “marshmallow tea” into the metal bowl. Add gelatin and whisk until well-combined (i.e. not lumpy) and let sit.
  4. Pour remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallow tea into saucepan and add honey and vanilla. Slowly bring to a boil.
  5. Check your stovetop mixture’s temperature with a thermometer and allow it to get to 240 degrees (or slightly beyond 220 if you’re like me and had to use a meat thermometer). This should take approximately 8 minutes.
  6. Turn your gelatin mixer back on at low speed and slowly add the hot honey mixture to the gelatin mixture. It will be golden in color, but have faith. It will get white and fluffy.
  7. After everything is combined crank up your mixer to high speed and let it go for 10-12 minutes. You want the marshmallow to be stiff enough to withstand the upside-down test. If you are using a hand mixture, feel free to do some calf raises and pelvic tilts while you wait for the marshmallows to firm up!
  8. Pour the marshmallow into the pan, and pat down with a spatula or hands coated in coconut oil.
  9. Wait FOUR very long hours. Longer if you can stand it, until you press down and the marshmallow bounces back.
  10. Lift onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter. You may find that you need to oil the pizza cutter. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job too.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

So how do you envision reinventing your old favorites? Leave a comment below and let’s inspire one another!

Now to overhaul Aunt Rene’s signature jello salad (with marshmallows, of course)…

Healthy Superfood Shamrock Shake

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If your childhood was anything like mine St. Patrick’s Day meant a pilgrimage to McDonald’s for their annual offering of Shamrock Shakes. Now that we know McDonald’s is hazardous to our health does that mean no more minty green drinks? Heck no!

If the heartstrings of tradition are still pulling for you to drive toward the golden arches, check out my healthy superfood version of this cult classic.

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Healthy Superfood Shamrock Shake

  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. almond milk or favorite milk alternative

2 scoops chocolate mint superfood powder, like Raw Beauty from Hum Nutrition

2 T almond butter or sunflower seed butter

1 handful cashews, soaked overnight

Handful mint leaves

1/2 t peppermint extract

1/4 t spirulina

2 t matcha powder

1 T raw cacao nibs

1 t honey (optional)

handful of ice

Blend, baby, blend!

This superfood shake is loaded with antioxidants so you can feel good – wherever St. Patty’s Day takes you. Cheers!

Read This Before You Detox!

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SET YOURSELF UP FOR A SUCCESSFUL DETOX BY READING THIS FIRST:

Juice, cleanse, detox… the nutrition themes of January socialize under many names. Before you set off for greener pastures though, to gain a strong foundation I ask that you read on! 

Those of us who spend our living promoting a healthier lifestyle see it all. We see the health skeptics roll their eyes as if detoxing is trendy. We see the resolution-makers purge all the holiday treats as a right of passage. We see fasters, meal-replacers, elimination dieters, 3-day juice cleansers… you name it.

I’m often asked which is the best option and this is my response: The one at which you’re most likely to succeed! 

Call it the dirty little secret of the wellness world, but we don’t actually want to see you as clients month after month.*GASP* It’s not that we don’t adore you. It’s not that we don’t enjoy your smiling faces. But we love seeing you take off the training wheels and own it! We love seeing you succeed!

So let’s set you up for success. Pick a protocol – whichever one you feel most drawn to. Then promise me before you begin you will build in a week to plan and TAPER.

Yes, taper. Think of it like a stoplight. We don’t jump straight from green to red. We need that yellow in between to slow down. Just for a week!

For success in shifting your habits – nutrition or otherwise – the cold turkey approach doesn’t have the best longterm success rate. This is not the Polar Bear Club. When Day 4 of the juice cleanse rolls around we want you saying, “That was awesome! I’m doing this again!” If you hated it don’t blame the cleanse. Ask yourself if you prepared properly.

TAPER Before you Detox:

T is for TAME the Sugar Monster

Slay! Succeed in something amazing. Beating down your sweet tooth is a very admirable accomplishment. I’ll give you some solid pointers.

A is for AWAKEN Yourself in New Ways

Are your superpowers fueled by coffee? It may seem unattainable but there are better ways to wake up. Caffeine is not the only option, believe it or not.

P is for PURGE it All

All those holiday remnants? They gotta go. Have a couple last hurrah bites and then say, “Buh-BYE!”

E is for EMPLOY a Solid Support System

Tell your friends. Tell your coworkers. Tell Facebook. You need accountability. Ask for it. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Nothing awesome ever happened in your comfort zone.

R is for REPLACE Your Beverages

We already talked about caffeine. What about the alcohol? What about dairy? And if you’re still drinking soda… Duuuuude!

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HOW TO TAPER:

Tame the Sugar Monster

My sweet spot is seven days. If I can make it to Day 8 then I’m good to go. Gift me with a cupcake on Day 6 though? Forget about it. Beware of your own pitfalls and have substitutions in place. Be hyper-vigilant about your social interactions until you’re in the clear.

My first line of defense is hot cinnamon tea. Cinnamon balances blood sugar, so it makes sense that replacing a sweet craving with cinnamon would tame the beast. Now how about your dental hygiene? Sometimes we crave foods because there are remnants from yesterday left on our tongue. I know, gross, right? Get yourself a tongue scraper and put that to bed real fast! Think you need to bring in the big guns? Maybe so. A chromium supplement can also balance blood sugar. The main reason we crave sugar is to maintain that high – don’t be an addict!

Awaken Yourself in New Ways.

Get outside. Try a 6am fitness class. Take a hard look at your sleep hygiene.

Remember I’m not asking you to go cold turkey with the coffee. If you’re drinking three cups per day, get yourself down to one. If you’re drinking one, go half-caff or switch to a caffeinated tea (which has about 50% less caffeine than coffee). Worried about the headaches? Spend that TAPER week drinking coconut water and eating blackberries. The antioxidants in the berries will soften the blow.

If you fall in the camp of being able to sleep for 5 hours or 9 hours and still feel the same (i.e. unrefreshed), then we need to look at adrenal supplementation. You can read more about that here. If you honestly can’t get out of bed in the morning, or you’re slow to start, adrenal insufficiency is a very common explanation in our stressful world. You can supplement with bovine adrenals, or if you want to take the edge off try the adaptogen family of herbs. Remember that tea I was recommending? Holy basil is an adaptogen so you’re doubling your impact going that route.

Purge it All

All that holiday bliss that’s still lingering? It’s gotta go. Trash those suckers. Send them down the garbage disposal. Invite your preschooler to squish them into a pile of goo. Light them on fire – Whatever frees you!

Put the treats in tiny Ziploc bags and stash them in the back of the freezer as a reward when you shovel the driveway this winter. Give that expensive cheese away to the neighbor you’re sure doesn’t have a dairy intolerance. Donate them? Okay, if the organization you have in mind is going to set out sugary treats anyway, I suppose. But ideally we don’t want other people growing while we’re shrinking, right?

Comment below with your most creative ideas and I’ll update my suggestions list!

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Employ a Solid Support System

I cannot say this enough: Tell everyone! If you want to give up smoking, then tell the coworkers who are going to call you out when you try and duck out for a 10-minute break. Don’t avoid telling your coworkers that you’re on a detox because they might shame you when you dip into the candy jar.

No, those are exactly the people you should tell – family, friends, roommates, your kids – the ones who will bring you back to the present when you’re not being totally mindful with your decisions. You need accountability to make sure you’re not on a whim or combatting stress when you should just be living in an uncomfortable feeling for a few minutes. I promise you won’t die living in, “This sucks!” for five minutes. Heck, I even invite you to have a tantrum about it, if that’s what creates change!

Don’t let the fear of embarrassment or failure keep you from breaking bad habits. Ask for help. Or better yet – Invite them to participate with you!

Replace Your Beverages

We talked about sugar. We talked about caffeine. But I want to make sure you really, really get it. That soda’s gotta go. Water is your BFF. Put some lemon in it. The lemon will alkalize the body, which most of us need to ward off illness.

Do yourself a favor and buy a bunch of fancy, interesting teas. There’s a whole wall of them at your favorite grocery store. Promise yourself you’ll try a tea before you walk to the vending machine.

What about dairy? I’m sorry to report that most detox protocols don’t leave room for dairy. The reasons are varied. For one, cow’s milk can be very congesting to the lymph. In fact back when families had their own dairy cow, that cow – not plural, would stop making milk periodically. This allowed the (human) family’s immune systems to reset. That’s what we’re doing here. Pair this with jumping on a trampoline every day and you could see some notable sinus relief! With almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk… (Do I sound like Bubba Gump yet?), this TAPER step should be easy, no?

And sadly we’re not going to continue red wine for antioxidants during the detox. Sorry! There are variousother ways to get your antioxidants. Just like caffeine, you can try them to lessen the blow when you pull the plug on the alcohol.

Aside from the physical effects, do you have serious concerns about how this will impact your social life? I get it. Have you ever tried kombucha? It’s roughly the color of beer. And you can put it in a pint glass, or even a tumbler with an umbrella. Or seltzer with lime? I’m just sayin’ – don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Try some creative solutions to your specialty drinks.

Keep Calm and Juice On

Now you’re ready! Crank that Vitamix on high. Boast about eating gluten-free. Book that celebratory massage. Celebrate success!

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5 Signs You May Have Adrenal Fatigue

Tired Woman At Office Desk
FIVE SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE ADRENAL FATIGUE:

The dreaded 3pm slump. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone seeking a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar at this bewitching hour, promising myself I’ll abide by a 10pm bedtime. But what’s the point when you’re tossing and turning for over an hour? Getting out of bed the next morning feels impossible, and when you do, the brain fog is so dense you can’t help but wonder, “Am I depressed? I don’t think I’m depressed, but…”

Vicious cycle, right?

It happens to those with the best of intentions – the go-getters, the supermoms, the dedicated employees. The good news? There’s one little walnut-sized commonality to that cycle: your adrenals.

Think of your adrenal glands like little sponges that sit on top of your kidneys. With assistance from cortisol they modulate your body’s response to stress. The problem is that our current high-paced lifestyles are ringing out these little sponges and leaving them chronically depleted. This can lead to fatigue, hypoglycemia, sleep disruptions and mild depression, to name a few.

But won’t stressing about my adrenal health lead to compromised adrenal health? I know, I know. Seems counterproductive. The good news is there are plenty of ways to replenish those adrenals. First we need to assess the situation and then we can quickly move on to whether your precious energy should be diverted toward nurturing them.

coffee break
THE FIVE SIGNS:

1) You could sleep for 5 hours or 9 hours – and feel the same
If you’re slow to start in the morning, tired for most of the day or cannot function without coffee, we’re talking to you. Chronic fatigue and compromised cognitive function are signs your adrenals need fortified.

2) Your fight or flight mechanism is constantly being activated
Maybe it’s career or family stress. Maybe you’re planning a wedding. Whatever the source, until you develop a solid practice for cushioning your body against stress (deep yoga breathing, anyone?) you are vulnerable to adrenal fatigue.

3) You’re a night owl
Having difficulty falling asleep can indicate a need for adrenal support. Output of cortisol should decline during the day, meaning your energy starts out strong and gradually winds down. For those with adrenal fatigue output is often switched, meaning you’re keyed up when you should be chilling out.

4) Blood sugar regulation is a problem for you
Adrenal health and blood sugar are so intimately connected that it’s hard to talk about one without the other. Be honest – if it wasn’t for that 3pm pick-me-up, would you be able to coast from lunch into dinner? Are your afternoons marked with an embarrassing onslaught of yawning?

5) So bright you gotta wear shades
We log our steps, we log our food… can time logged behind a pair of sunglasses be our next assessment tool? Believe it or not, an intolerance to bright light can be yet another indicator of adrenal insufficiency. Before jumping to conclusions challenge yourself to see how long you can go without your shades. After all, maybe it’s just habit. Notice if your pupil constricts in bright light or if it ultimately dilates. If it’s the latter then it’s time to work on those adrenals!

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HOW TO COPE:
Hard to believe two little glands can cause so many big problems, huh? Do your adrenals need some TLC? Here are some strategies you can implement to bolster your energy naturally and break this cycle.

Adaptogens
Supplementation can serve as a great bridge to span from your current challenges onto ideal health. Adaptogens are a family of herbs that do just what their names suggests. They help you adapt – to stress! If your Type A tendencies have you feeling like a windup toy, adaptogens will gently ground you. Likewise if you’re slow to start, this same family of botanicals will boost you, but not in the intense way caffeine and sugar do. Now you know why ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola and holy basil all live on the pharmacy shelf together!

Sleep from 10-2
That’s 10 at night, folks! Your adrenals replenish between the hours of 10PM and 2AM. So if you only sleep 6 hours per night, you’re better served to sleep from 10PM – 4AM than midnight – 6AM. I’ll say it again. Lights out by 10PM! Give your adrenal glands the best chance at recovery by enacting a curfew (and set your tech curfew for one hour prior). And by all means, prioritize getting 8 hours or more. The path to abundant energy is paved with restful sleep.

Just Say “No!”
We already know caffeine is a drug (sorry, no arguing there – it’s a stimulant). The same can be said of sugar. These substances can have a pretty tight hold on us. It’s not a good feeling when we aren’t in control. So stop! Leave yourself a sticky note with some tough love. Stock your desk drawer with an assortment of flavored teas. Go brush your teeth. Whatever motivates you, this is the time to recite your “why” 10 times. Stop letting 3pm be frappuccino o’clock.

Switch up your exercise routine
Think pilates, yoga, barre, stretching… Intense workouts have their merit, but if you’re recovering from adrenal fatigue you want to be careful about stimulating cortisol production. Just can’t wrap your head around a slower pace? Then limit your HIIT sessions to early AM, and choose a restorative activity to balance out every extreme activity. This is not the time to worry about weight gain. In fact your thyroid, which aligns in the endocrine system above the adrenals, has probably been feeling like it’s engaged in a precarious game of Jenga. Imagine how happy your thyroid will be once it has a solid adrenal foundation again.

Make these habit shifts and experience a natural energy surge once again. I know it’s a challenge, so feel free to hit me up on social media if you need a little extra push. Let’s exhale those stress-buffering sighs of relief together!  Need some coaching or an accountability partner? I can do that too!

And for even more expert tips on tackling adrenal fatigue, check out these great resources from Fawne Hansen.

Summer Radiance

If there’s one time of day that sabotages a solid effort toward clean eating (and smooth skin) for me, it’s that window between lunch and dinner. Whether it’s coffee drinks or cupcakes, indulging these cravings can leave you with a cascade of ill effects from head to toe. Our faces can read like road maps of poor food choices. As if you didn’t already feel shame in the moment. Who needs that reminder two and three days later?

But what if, instead of mindlessly popping little sugar bombs (or salty ones – to each his own), we pause for a moment and try decoding those cravings? What are our bodies really telling us? I’ll give you a clue – you can stop beating yourself up for lack of willpower. Our bodies just want nutrients. We can’t help that our brains mistakenly think those nutrients lie in a cracker or a pint of beer.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, can I give you some advice? Make this the summer you become a Nutritarian. Really focus on fueling your body – and your beauty – with a rainbow of real food.

Are you in? Then check out these 6 must-have solutions for brightening your skin and dialing up that radiance through Labor Day and beyond!
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1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega 3’s have been shown to squelch out inflammation. If you are struggling with acne, eczema, or rosacea think pastured eggsgrass-fed beef and walnuts.  But don’t buy just any eggs; the results from this Mother Earth News egg testing project have shown just how inferior conventional grocery store eggs are compared to those from pasture-raised, happy hens. It’s time to recognize your local farm as one of your skin’s biggest allies.

2. Vitamin D – Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin. Many of us are logging record time indoors. When we are outside we slather on sunscreen to prevent skin damage. Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to stop that. But you do need Vitamin D for immunity, bone strength, heart health – and cellular health. Vitamin D can boost elasticity and collagen production, reducing the appear of fine lines, dark spots and acne. You are what you eat, so seek out100% grass-fed meats and know that even if you aren’t spending enough time outdoors, at least your dinner was!

3. B Vitamins – Although unconfirmed, experts debate that B Vitamin deficiency is linked to insect bite susceptibility. I say if you’re a mosquito magnet, why not try it? Who wants unsightly mosquito bites marking up those long, lean legs or those toned arms you’ve been working on since before Spring Break? Yet another reason to stock up on those butcher shop items – red meat is one of your best sources for B Vitamins.

4. Chromium  – Sometimes it’s about what we’re not putting in our bodies. Chromium helps with blood sugar regulation. Researchers believe a rush of insulin leads to overabundance of oil production, resulting in clogged pores. You can avoid this hormonal response by keeping your blood sugar in check. Chromium-containing foods include broccoli, green beans, egg yolks and nuts.

5. Magnesium – Sometimes when our bodies crave chocolate they are really asking for magnesium. And while cacao is a superfood and source of antioxidants (substances that shield our bodies from cell damage), the ratio of chocolate and sugar is important. We’ve already determined sugar is one of your skin’s biggest frenemies (“Oh, but it tastes so good”, you say!). You owe it to yourself not to skimp on quality when it comes to chocolate. And rest assured, there are plenty of other options for getting magnesium into your diet. Chard and spinach are also top sources.

6. Love your liver – Beets, kombucha and paté, oh my! What do all these things have in common? They are powerful liver detoxifiers. Your liver is arguably your strongest detoxifying organ, but when it’s congested with alcohol, sugar, antibiotics, pesticides… who do you think it calls on for help? You got it – your skin. Do yourself a favor and keep that liver humming with detoxifying, probiotic-rich fermented foods like raw sauerkraut.

Added bonus? Attitude is everything, and when you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet, that shift in disposition can happen almost overnight. Talk about amping up your glow potential!

Declare your Nutritarianism this summer. Remember good food equals good results, and start glowing!

 

This article first appeared in the From the Farmer online magazine.

Easy Allergen-Friendly Rice Cake Snack

Allergen-friendly Kids' Snack

In one of my not-so-illustrious moments as a mom, I swung a parenting deal with my preschooler that I’ll probably still be honoring when he’s 17. The just-be-quiet-and-cooperate-and-stop-grabbing-everything-and-I’ll-let-you-pick-out-one-thing at the grocery store deal.

Foolishly, it didn’t occur to me at the time that I was setting the bar. It was a moment of pure desperation to get dinner made and lunches packed. Plus I assured myself this was the incentive I needed to get the meal-planning done on Sundays and whip through the store solo on Monday morning. The only problem is summer came…and Christmas vacation…and two weeks of snow cancellations… Before I knew it my grocery store co-pilot had earned his stripes. And lots of snacks.

Not that he was in the habit of picking out anything absurd. Yet.

Then it happened. We needed something from Whole Foods. When you’re a gluten-free, dairy-free family Whole Foods is par for the course. You seek out the 365 tags and otherwise keep your head down. To this day I’m still not sure why we went down the snack aisle. I think we were looking for Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips. But that’s where he spotted them – a  6-pack of chocolate covered rice cakes – for $4.99. Six rice cakes. For five dollars. Folks, that’s 26 bananas at Trader Joe’s!  

But a deal’s a deal, right? And Allergy Moms… those tiny heart strings that pull when your child asks, “Are these gluten-free?” What are you going to do, lie? No, you tell the truth and say, “Yes, and dairy-free and nut-free, so you can even take them to school.”

Maybe by now you’ve noticed that despite my status as “not a food blogger,” I like to post recipes. And therefore this story has a happy ending. Because finding an allergen-friendly snack for a preschooler who’s just trying to be normal, despite his inability to eat Goldfish crackers and string cheese, is like finding the golden egg. But usually comes at the cost of the golden egg. Not today, I’m happy to report! Here’s my recipe for homemade chocolate-covered rice cakes for a fraction of the pre-made cost:

Allergen-friendly Kids' Snack
To sweeten the mission it was BOGO day on the Thin Snackers. And while I’m sure rice cakes of “regular” width would work just fine, as a health coach I ask you to be mindful of glycemic load and generally not go too crazy on convenience foods like rice cakes.
Allergen-friendly Kids' Snack
If you want to avoid sneaky soy (’cause really, who needs the hormone disruption?) look for a soy-free brand like Equal Exchange or Enjoy Life. When choosing between maple syrups, did you know Grade B is more nutrient-dense than Grade A?
Allergen-friendly Kids' Snack
I recommend using a double-boiler to make these, but if you don’t have one it’s certainly not a deal breaker.
Allergen-friendly Kids' Snack
If you’re a life-long spatula licker like me, let me save you the guilt and say these babies are better once they’ve chilled.

Easy Allergen-Friendly Rice Cake Snack

  • Time: less than 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. chocolate chips, such as Equal Exchange or Enjoy Life brands

1-1/2 T. organic virgin coconut oil

1/2 T. grade B maple syrup

12-15 thin rice cakes

1. With double boiler on medium heat, set upper pot over water and add chocolate, coconut oil and maple syrup.

2. Meanwhile, space out rice cakes on a flat surface that can easily be transferred to the refrigerator, such as a cutting board.

3. As chocolate begins to melt, stir until smooth and well combined.

4. Spoon approximately 1/2 T. of melted chocolate onto each rice cake and spread with a spatula to cover each rice cake completely.

  5. Transfer chocolate rice cakes to refrigerator to set.

6.  Store in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

Paleo Booster Bites

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On average there are maybe 2 hours in a whole week where my kitchen is totally spotless. And by spotless I mean there are dirty dishes hiding away in the dishwasher and approximately 60% of the counter space is visible. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

Being that I’m in that 2-hr sweet spot as we speak, the thought of going full bore on the Christmas baking makes my jaw clench. Can I please just get one more day before the endless cook-eat-wash-repeat cycle starts again?

At the same time the holiday events are starting to populate our social calendar and the opportunities to send white clouds of dust spewing from the Kitchen Aid are becoming few and far between.

So here’s my solution for easing into the Christmas baking – a no-bake cookie that utilizes a single appliance! It’s literally a drop and roll with a few pulses of the food processor in between.

So whether you’re looking for an easy “gateway cookie” to get you primed for the season, or you need a healthy reward for getting your New Years gym resolution started early, or you’re a breastfeeding mom with low energy and little time – I’ve got you covered!

Paleo Booster Bites

Ingredients:

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  • 1 c. old fashioned oats, gluten free
  • 2/3 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 c. soy-free chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life or Equal Exchange
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
  2. Use a melon baller, or two measuring spoons similar in size, to roll mixture into bite-sized balls.
  3. Store booster bites in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

This is also the perfect treat to throw in the car before you make that next road trip. When it’s cold and rainy, and you have sleeping kids and 2 dogs in the backseat, this will give you the boost you need to cruise through at 65mph.

And it’s nut-free so you can reserve a few for the kids’ lunches on Monday. Just trust me, you’ll want to leave those on lockdown in the freezer at home or they might not make it through the road trip!

DIY Canned Cranberry Sauce

Because you don’t need high fructose corn syrup to make a quintessential Thanksgiving statement!

 

Last week I was checking out at Paper Source when an adorable Thanksgiving card caught my eye. It had a water color of canned cranberry sauce, plated wholly with its glorious ridges.

I don’t know about you, but canned cranberry sauce sends a pulse of nostalgia through my veins. I actually like the fact that it’s shaped like a tin can. A bowl of goo just doesn’t honor my childhood memories the same way. But how do you feed the sentiment without feeding yourself high fructose corn syrup?

Don’t worry, I got you! And I promise it’s almost as easy as popping open a can of Ocean Spray. (Who, by the way, is gliding by on their first-ever parade float as I write this during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!)

Fun fact: Did you know Americans consume roughly 800 million pounds of cranberries per year? Holy moly! Not sure how many pounds get squeezed down into a 32 oz jar of juice, but here you go:

DIY Canned Paleo Cranberry Sauce

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  • (1) 32-oz jar 100% cranberry juice blend, such as Lakewood Organic brand
  • 8 T. unflavored beef gelatin, such as Great Lakes brand
  • Empty BPA-free cans – (2) 15-oz or (5) 5-oz
  1. Heat juice in saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk in gelatin. Bring to a low boil to fully dissolve the gelatin.
  2. Turn off heat and allow gelatin to cool for roughly 5 minutes. This will add a little shine to your cranberry sauce.
  3. Use a mesh colander as needed to filter out any gelatin clumps as you pour the hot juice mixture into your empty cans.
  4. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
  5. Run hot water over the outside of the can to loosen the gelatin onto a plate or cutting board.
  6. Slice cranberry sauce and serve.

Now, I have to admit, much like the Grandfather in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation who points out, “The little lights are not twinkling,” my cranberry sauce has no ridges. That was a surprise at 8pm last night when I was unloading my little 5 oz cans (which happened to be from coconut cream). But I assure you that you can use large ridged cans to make this quintessential dish – paleo style!

Gratitude and blessings to all of you this holiday season!

xo Rachel