Strawberry Almond Flour Cake

During birthday season (the beginning of the year in our house), we tend to make this cake at least one a month. It’s a great grain-free substitute for a traditional vanilla cake and you can adjust the sugar level to your liking depending on how you use it. I like to keep the sugar content pretty low so it doubles as a quick breakfast in the morning for my kids, topped with stewed berries.

INGREDIENTS

4 pastured eggs (separated)

1/3 cup maple syrup (you can use up to 1/2 cup)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

For topping: 1-2 cups quartered strawberries

MAKE

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease and 8 inch round pan with butter (dairy free if desired) or coconut oil. Alternatively you can line the bottom of your pan with unbleached parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth.

3. Using an electric mixer or immersion blender, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside.

4. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and add to the egg yolks. Stir together to form a thick dough.

5. Fold in the egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time incorporating them fully between each addition. The final addition should result in a smooth, fluffy batter.

6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for five minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

8. Allow the cake to cool fully before topping with stewed strawberries, or the fruit of your choice.

*Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Grain-free Banana Bread

Now that I’m almost 18 weeks pregnant with my third little one, I’ve been able to introduce some more variety into my diet (woot woot!). I LOVE a good banana bread and this version is super low in sugar and high in protein and good fats. The best part is you can make it in one bowl for easy clean up. My kids like it for breakfast and it makes a great take-on-the-road snack. I hope you love it too!

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup avocado oil (or melted coconut)

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)

1/4 cup milk of choice or water

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp natural colored salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 cups ground almond flour

Optional: 1/2 cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts (my favorite), chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices

MAKE

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan, or line it with unbleached parchment paper

2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk.

3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and cardamom, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, until just combined. Some lumps are OK! If you are adding additional Mix-ins, gently fold them in now.

4. Pour the batter into your greased or lined loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Typically if I hadn’t added any mix-ins my bread is done at 55 minutes. If I add nuts or fruit, it needs closer to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy! 😋

Note: I stewed some frozen organic blueberries in a sauce pan for 15 minutes with half a lemon’s juice then poured on top of bread (pictured) for the kids breakfast.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Light with a hint of maple but not overly sweet like their orange cousin – the yam, this side dish can easily steal the show. It’s super simple to prepare and pretty hard to mess up. I added ripe (plus a couple days) Turkish figs for a little twist on the traditional mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

INGREDIENTS

5 cups mashed Japanese sweet potatoes (about 10 lbs). They’re the kind that have purple skin but are white inside, also known as Murasaki potatoes.

1/2 cup Grade A maple syrup

1/2 tbsp fine grain sea salt

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

METHOD

1. Pierce cleaned potatoes with a fork or knife tip 4 or 5 times each.

2. Bake the sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven on the middle shelf directly on the rack 30 minutes to 1 hr depending on your oven and potato size. Lay a piece of foil on the bottom rack to catch any sugar drippings. You’ll know they’re done when they start to drop sugar from the fork holes. They’ll also be squishy if you prod them.

3. Once cooked, cut in half and scoop out cooked white inside.

4. Mix all ingredients in large bowl and serve warm or reheat later on! Serve with ripe figs or finish with crushed walnuts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grain-Free Apple Tart

Thanksgiving is around the corner and whether you are hosting or not, this tart is a must. It’s super easy to make (yes, even the crust) and very low in sugar. Oh, and it’s totally paleo and allergen-free! Gotta give the talented Pamela Saltzman all the cred for this easy “back-pocket” (as she likes to say) tart crust…

INGREDIENTS

2 cups blanched almond flour (you can sub 1 c coconut flour and 1 c tapioca flour if you’re off nuts)

1/4 cup avocado oil (or coconut oil)

1 egg white, beaten lightly (omit if you are egg- free or vegan, but the tart crisps better with it)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

3 medium sized apples – I like a mixture of Granny Smith, Fuji and Pink Lady

Zest and juice of one lemon

Zest and juice of one small orange

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

METHOD

1. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. I bought mine at Sur La Table for $9

2. In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, avocado oil, maple syrup, egg white, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until well combined.

3. Transfer mixture to prepared tart pan and press firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides. Make sure the dough is a uniform thickness throughout. Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork… About 12 times is good. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before baking.

4. While dough is setting in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350 then peel and core the apples. Cut apple wedges into quarter inch slices.

5. In a large bowl, toss to coat the apple slices with lemon zest, orange zest, and the juices of both fruits. (I find it’s easier to zest the fruit first, then squeeze juices out).

6. Bake the apple mixture in a glass Pyrex dish covered with foil for 30-40 minutes or until your apples are very soft.

7. Remove apples from oven and let cool. Increase oven temp to 400.

8. Bake your crust for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and let cool.

9. Once the crust has cooled completely, gently place apple slices with a fork or fish knife in a spiralized pattern inside the crust. The apples will fall apart when handled so use a large enough fork or knife to scoop the entire slice.

10. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. The crust will soften over time and absorb the apple juices, but some prefer that!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone xo

5 ways to be happier NOW

The changing of the seasons is a great time to focus on self-love and care. Here’s a list of things you can do this fall equinox to increase the happiness in your life (and subsequently those around you) pretty quickly:

  1. Go pick or buy yourself fresh flowers… A Rutgers University study found that having flowers in your home increases happiness, reduces depression and anxiety, and can actually increase emotional contact with loved ones. A separate study by Harvard University found the same results – increased compassion, feeling less negative, and more energy at work. Any finally, Texas A & M University found that flowers and plants in the workplace improve problem solving skills and increase creativity. I can’t wait to share this info with a certain someone! Source
  2. Do something nice for a friend (or stranger)… A University of Chapel Hill study concluded that practicing loving-kindness towards others and creating social connections at the same time had a positive effect on the participants’ vagus nerve, which regulates glucose metabolism and our immune response to stressors. A toned (and happy) vagus nerve is critical to maintaining status quo in the body and ultimately warding off chronic disease.
  3. Smile… It seems our facial expressions create a feedback loop and send messages to the brain in the reverse direction. Smiling for no reason will actually elicit a response in the frontal cortex of the brain that triggers happy feelings. You really do have an excuse to smile at strangers 🙂 Source
  4. Go outside and walk barefoot… I’m a huge believer in grounding. Going out and getting some natural Vitamin D from the sun is one way to feel better fast, but studies also show that walking barefoot neutralizes and balances the electromagnetic systems of the body, reducing inflammation and making us more calm.
  5. Get some exercise… This one is pretty obvious, but sometimes we need a little reminder to take the time to consciously move while thanking our body for the tremendous amount of work it does for us on a daily basis. Science also says that exercise increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of happiness.

What are some of your favorite happiness tricks?

Easy Lunchbox Ideas

We’re officially back to school! Making healthy lunches that can withstand being lugged to school and still taste good by afternoon can be tricky. Here are a few easy options that you can whip up in the AM for your little guys. All are vegetarian and gluten-free, but still have enough protein to keep your kids full and happy until they get home.

1. Non-Dairy Gluten Free Pizza Toast

  • Pick a gluten-free loaf from a natural food store or if you’re ambitious, you can make your own! I like this sourdough kit or this almond flour version
  • Toast until just slightly brown.
  • Smear about 1 tbsp organic no-salt added tomato paste onto two slices.
  • Top the bread with 1tbsp Treeline French Style Cheese – don’t spread the cheese while it’s still cool. (You can find Treeline at Whole Foods).
  • Pop back in toaster for 30 seconds to soften cheese. Remove from toaster and gently spread cheese with a butter knife.
  • Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano.

2. Simple Vegan quesadilla

  • Heat one tsp Avocado or Coconut in a small skillet. Add one brown rice or almond flour quesadilla to the pan. I LOVE the Siete Almond Flour Tortillas, also at Whole Foods.
  • Heat the tortilla until just soft, about 5 seconds on each side (if using Siete).
  • Add your favorite vegan or nut cheese to the inside, fold, press with hands and cut into triangles.

3. Baby guacamole with plantain chips

  • Mash one small avocado with half of a ripe banana and a squeeze of lemon. The banana tones down the distinctly avocado flavor while also adding a bit of sweetness.
  • Transfer to small glass bowl with lid and pack a baggie of plantain chips or your little’s favorite tortilla chips.

(Note: while Avocado isn’t the best source of protein, it does contain 3 grams per cup)

What are some of your lunchbox favorites?

Gluten-Free Blueberry Oat Muffins

We bake at least every other day in our house. It’s such a great way for the kids to be involved in the kitchen and feel like they’re a part of the daily rhythm of our day-to-day lives. These muffins are very low in sugar, gluten-free and can easily be a quick grab-and-go breakfast if made the night before. They taste amazing hot out of the oven with a little helping of grass-fed butter. 😋

Ingredients:<<
5 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats 1 cup Almond Flour 2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 tsp salt<<
2 cup grass-fed butter, softened<<
2 cup honey<<
arge free-range eggs<<
2 cup almond milk<<
5 cups blueberries

Method:<<
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Whisk together oats, almond flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. In your mixer (or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer) combine butter and honey and mix until just thick (don’t over-mix!). Add eggs one at a time and mix until just combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until thick.

5. Stop the mixer and add the milk – mix until a thick batter forms.

6. Gently fold in your blueberries with a wooden spoon or spatula.

7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans about 2/3 full.

8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean after placing through the center of the muffins.

ENJOY!<<
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Paleo Chicken Milanese (AIP Reintro)

There’s nothing quite as comforting as Italian-style fried chicken. Milanese was one of my favorite dishes before I got the news that I couldn’t eat gluten ever again. This version is made with eggs and almond flour (both AIP reintro) and is just as good as the original according to the taste-testers in my house. I guarantee your husband won’t know this is Paleo and the littles might even mistake these for chicken fingers 😉

INGREDIENTS

2.5 lbs of pasture-raised chicken tenders (these are easier to pound flat than chicken breasts and a good portion size for kids)

2 tbsp dried organic oregano

2 tbsp Himalayan sea salt

3 cups blanched almond flour

1 pasture raised egg

1tsp filtered water

9 tbsp avocado oil

Parchment paper & meat tenderizer or heavy rolling pin

METHOD

Whisk the egg and 1tsp water in a glass bowl wide enough to bathe and coat your chicken, set aside.

Pour all 3 cups of almond flour onto a large plate, add the oregano and mix with your hands. Spread the mixture out with your fingers so you can easily coat all surfaces of your chicken, set aside.

Set up an assembly line for your chicken. I like to put the egg bath next to the plate of almond flour, next to your fry pan. Now onto the chicken….

Gently rinse and dry all pieces of chicken. Place each chicken tender between two pieces of parchment paper and pound one or two times to flatten. Be careful not to hit the chicken too hard as it will split or become too thin to handle. Try to make each piece of chicken the same thickness so they cook evenly.

Heat 3 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large ceramic frying pan. I love my PFOA-free Scanpan. While the oil is heating, sprinkle the salt on both sides of the chicken and set up next to your egg bath.

 

Once the pan is hot, dip one piece of chicken into the egg bath, letting any excess drip off, and then move to the almond flour plate. Coat the entire surface of the chicken evenly and gently place it in the fry pan. Quickly repeat the process until your pan is full of chicken.

Cook for 5 minutes until each piece is golden brown and then gently flip all pieces and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. You may need to add more oil between flips. Repeat until all meat is done.

Serve with a green salad, roasted garlic cloves or sliced heirloom tomatoes (if you’re eating nightshades). These little guys keep well in the fridge for two days if you have leftovers.

Prep time: 20 minutes    Cook time: 20 minutes     Serves 4

My Morning Green Smoothie

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This isn’t your average green smoothie, people. Because I’m one of those lucky girls that doesn’t methylate perfectly thanks to my genetics, I need an extra boost of B vitamins, folate, amino acids and antioxidants every single day to stay healthy. Since we all know that eating your vitamins is the best way to absorb them, I make an effort to pack my morning smoothie with LOTS of detoxifying greens like cilantro and dandelion. You’ll need a high-powered blender to get a nice smooth consistency. Here’s the full recipe:

Green Detox Breakfast Smoothie

  • half an avocado
  • half of one ripe banana
  • 3 cups washed organic cilantro with the stems
  • 3 or 4 washed dandelion leaves
  • 1 cup washed spinach, tat soi, or another green of your choice (cooked broccoli also works well)
  • 1-3 pitted dates (depending on how sweet you like your smoothie). Or, go without if you’re doing a cleanse or avoiding sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed collagen powder. I’ve been buying this brand for almost 4 years. You’ll notice a distinct difference in the health your hair, nails and skin after about two weeks of using it! 🙂
  • 3 cups of filtered water (add more to thin the smoothie if you prefer)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy. This recipe yields two 12oz servings. Sometimes I’ll drink the whole portion or I’ll save half in the fridge for an afternoon pick me up.

My favorite healthy LA restaurants & ice cream spots

If you’re on the Autoimmune Protocol (like I am) then eating out can be tricky. Luckily LA is one of the best cities to get stuck if you want to indulge in restaurant food every once in a while. Here are some of my favorite healthy-for-all places that also happen to be kid (and husband) friendly.

  1. Kreation : These guys are famous for their drool-worthy rainbow assortment of cold-pressed organic juices, but they also have amazing food. My favorite AIP lunch off their menu is the tenderloin kebob with a side salad and then a CBD shot to go 🙂 They also have a great grab-and-go section with an array of salads, sides and desserts. The Meltdown salad with chicken is my fav.
  2. Bondi Harvest : This place is tucked into the most random business district of the Sawtelle neighborhood, so you may think you’re lost upon first glance. Keep driving through the parking lot until you see the crowd. This place has an awesome menu with things like Summer Squash Avocado Pancakes (pictures above) and Quinoa Breakfast Pudding. I love the Rainbow Bowl!
  3. Roast : Paleo eating at it’s best! This place serves only grass-fed and pastured meats and wild seafood. You can build your own plate with a meat and two sides which include every vegetable/starch known to man, perfectly roasted of course, or choose from one of their yummy dishes off the menu. Our favorites are the Lamb Burger with Mango-Mint Chutney (in a lettuce wrap), the cuban-style pork loin or the brussel sprout tacos.
  4. A Votre Sante : A Brentwood institution since 1987! This is the place to go if you’re taking your vegan friend, paleo friend and carbohydrate-loving friend to lunch. The mostly organic menu has pretty much everything you can think of to build your own perfectly yummy meal.
  5. Tocaya Organica : Mexican food was something I missed a lot until I found Tocaya. They’ve got great mexican-style stewed meats, vegan cheese made from cassava root and alternative options for tacos like plantain chips or butter lettuce cups. My mouth is watering as I write this…

Places for a grab & go….and “ice cream”!

  1. Soupure : Soupure has saved me a couple time while zooming through Brentwood starving from an extreme kiddie field trip to the Skirball or Hammer Museum. I am a BIG fan of broths for instant nourishment and they make a delicious veggie version.
  2. Pressed Juicery FREEZE : Chances are there is one in your neighborhood. Now Pressed makes a yummy soft serve out of everyone’s favorite green juice. My kids can’t get enough of this stuff…
  3. Kippy’s Vegan Ice Cream : Probably the healthiest (yet still delicious) ice cream on the planet. These guys use only three or four ingredients to make low-glycemic, coconut cream based gelato. It’s pricey, but definitely worth it.
  4. Frozen Fruit Co. : You can choose from around 5 seasonal soft serve flavors made with nothing but fruit. We love the pineapple-passionfruit!