I love Southwest. I love that you don’t have to pay for checking a bag. I love that the flight attendants are always funny and entertaining. I love that flights are guaranteed to be pretty dang cheap. Yep, you guessed it…I’m on a plane! This post is coming to you from the friendly skies on my way to my first workshop weekend as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I’m so excited for the next 3 days of total mind-blowing, brain-filling lessons on how to be an NTP. The people I know that have done this program say these weekends are just awesome, getting to spend time with people who think the same way you do about health, nutrition, and wellness. I’ll let you all know how it goes!
Back to Southwest, I can’t decide if I love or hate the ‘no seat assignment’ concept. Let’s say this…I love it when I’m an A. But, when I’m a B or C, I’m not so happy. Yesterday, I checked in 5 minutes after my 24 hour check-in time and got in the B group. Dang it!
I was elated when boarding to still be able to find one of the last window seats available. Score! And then, not even a minute after I got comfortable in my seat, there was kicking, screaming, and crying directly behind my chair. Uh, oh, it was an unhappy baby on a plane situation. Not my favorite thing in the world and I always feel really bad for the parents, but still, my dreams of a little airplane nap were O V E R. I knew it was going to take a little bit more for me to be in my happy place on this plane ride.
- First, I needed something to make this plane ride somewhat enjoyable. I needed something else to listen to besides baby cries. I plugged in my earphones and blared some Janet Jackson Greatest Hits. (Yes, it’s amazing…I love the Jackson’s and I love the 90’s…don’t make fun!)
- Second, I needed a distraction. It was time to bust out the Us Weekly. Celebrity gossip is a guilty pleasure of mine and I always buy a magazine when I’m at the airport as a special travel treat. (Again, don’t make fun!)
- Third, I needed some yummy, fun snacks! More specifically…a sweet treat! Luckily, I had packed some of my Gingerbread Balls to bring on the trip. It was the perfect time to have one…or all of them.
After my Pumpkin Pie Ball recipe was such a success for the Thanksgiving season, I knew I had to come up with something similar for the rest of the holidays that would allow even people following the Autoimmune Protocol to have a festive dessert!
These Gingerbread Balls are a fun and easy holiday treat! They have a ton of the gingerbread flavor we all love this time of year and are still grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free. They are a great addition to this year’s cookie plate and something that everyone can enjoy regardless of food sensitivities/allergies/intolerances.
Gingerbread Balls are also the perfect pre- or post-workout energy bites, with the right combo of fat and carbs to keep you fueled. Take them with you on your next adventure! They pack and travel really well.
A holiday sweet treat that everyone can enjoy! These treats are nut-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, egg-free, dairy free, and soy-free but FULL of flavor!
- 1/4 cup coconut manna or butter
- 1/4 cup dates roughly chopped (about 6-7 dates)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar optional
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender.
Process until all ingredients are well combined.
Using your hands, GENTLY roll dough into 1" sized balls.
Put your choice of coating in a small bowl.
Roll balls into coating until completely covered.
Arrange balls onto plate.
Place in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before serving.
If making ahead of time, store in refrigerator and take out 10-15 minutes before serving.
I’m dreaming of laying poolside with a blazing sun right now for two reasons.
Reason #1: It has been way below zero here in Boulder, CO for 5 days straight now. I really don’t terribly mind cold weather. It’s a chance to find your thickest scarves, heaviest blankets and get cozy! The only times I will complain is when I have to drive somewhere far and the roads are horrible or when I shovel the driveway and 20 minutes later you would never know it.
Reason #2: Hummus and pita chips used to be a staple in my summer pool-side snack bag. It’s been several summers since I’ve had traditional hummus and I was starting to think I would never have hummus again. I finally decided to try a cauliflower-based hummus recipe because I just couldn’t go another day without something to dip my veggies in. I attempted several different versions but couldn’t see to get it right.
And then, it worked! The perfect combo of flavors that brought me right back to pool-side snacks with friends…here in the below zero temps! I took it to a get-together that night and the bowl was gone within minutes. Definitely a sign that the recipe works. Try it and let me know what you think!
A creamy nut-free, soy-free hummus that tastes just like the real thing! Have it as a midday snack or take as an appetizer to your next gathering!
- 1 large head cauliflower cut into florets
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper more or less to taste depending on spice tolerance
Steam cauliflower florets by placing them in a steamer over boiling water for about 10 minutes.
Once cauliflower is tender, combine all ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender.
Blend or process until smooth.
Serve with veggies for dipping or as a topping to burgers and chicken!
I love apple pie. And I make a pretty darn good one. But, I’m always so conflicted when it comes to dessert at Thanksgiving. I have to have apple pie, but then I really want pumpkin pie too. I end up filling my plate with both desserts, even though I just got done stuffing my face with a plate…or two…or four of Thanksgiving dinner. The result is barely eaten desserts and a super full tummy.
Not the case anymore with these low-sugar, keto-friendly pumpkin pie balls! I am definitely taking these to Thanksgiving dinner this year. That way, I can have the few bites of pumpkin pie that I really want, but save room for the ENTIRE piece of apple pie. Yes! Crisis solved.
These balls are so good, so easy, so festive, and so….healthy! Each ball has a serving of energizing, satiating fat and less than 2 grams of natural sugar from raw honey. Not to mention the wonderful vitamins and minerals in pumpkin. While this will definitely pass as a dessert, it would also make a perfect midday snack or pre-workout energizer.
GET YOUR HEALTHY FATS IN
One of the questions I get most often as a nutritionist specializing in a high-fat, low-carb keto diet is how to increase healthy fats enough to get into ketosis without resorting to spoonfuls of butter or coconut oil. These pumpkin pie balls are always my answer. With a base of coconut, you’ll get the healthy fats you need for your keto diet, but in a dessert-like package.
YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE
The best part? The whole family will love these! Give them to the kids for dessert or a midday snack. And, be sure to bring them to your next office party, family gathering, or girls’ night. They make a perfect dish to pass, especially during pumpkin season.
Alright, let’s get cooking…or, rolling, I guess we should say!
Pumpkin Pie Balls
A 2-bite pumpkin pie snack that is low in sugar too!
- 1/4 cup coconut manna or butter
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
- 1 tablespoon raw honey OR 10-15 drops liquid organic stevia
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg omit for AIP
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice omit for AIP
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut unsweetened
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place coating ingredients in small bowl, mix well and set aside.
Place all ingredients for balls into food processor.
If you do not have a food processor, mix by hand.
Mix until a smooth dough forms.
Roll into 1-inch sized balls.
Immediately roll balls through coating mixture until evenly coated.
Arrange balls on plate.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Can be made several day ahead and stored in and airtight container in the refrigerator.
Omit the coconut oil and use remaining ingredients as a Pumpkin Pie Spread!
I’m a podcast junkie. It’s so bad that I often notice myself thinking the people on the opposite end delivering the podcast are my friends. We’re on a first name basis and I get their inside jokes. It’s a great friendship. In all seriousness, I love listening and learning about the Paleo diet while in my car (which is all the time.) My fave podcasts include Balanced Bites, The Paleo Solution, Underground Wellness, and Chris Kresser. I’m learning so much while on my quest to heal my ulcerative colitis and reach optimal health through food, but a lot of it can get very scientific and a little over my head. So, I’ve decided to combine all the best information out there and ‘dumb it down’ for us all!
The first issue I’d like to tackle is the increasingly popular subject of grains and gluten.
Let’s talk gluten-free foods. First, a little background on why gluten-free foods are beginning to take over our grocery store shelves. Gluten intolerance is the inability to properly digest gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten intolerance, which is becoming increasingly prevalent, can come in the form of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Celiac disease currently afflicts about 1% of the population, but it is estimated that 80% of people with celiac disease are unaware of it. But, you don’t need to have full blown celiac disease to have adverse reactions to gluten.
There is another disorder called gluten sensitivity which is much more common. While the research on gluten sensitivity is still new and there is not yet an accepted test for it, researchers in the field estimate at least 10% but probably more like 30% of the US population are sensitive to gluten. Many of the symptoms are similar to those in celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, skin rashes and break outs, moodiness, headaches and joint pain.
With the number of people who are realizing that their bodies react negatively to gluten on the rise, it creates a whole new market for the processed food industry to bank on…literally. Bold, colorful GLUTEN-FREE labels are popping everywhere on our grocery store shelves. But, if you take a closer look at these pretty little boxes, you’ll see the dark side of gluten-free. Processed gluten-free foods do their best to take on the taste and texture of the products they are replacing and tend to rely on highly-processed grain flours and starches such as rice flour, soy flour, potato starch and tapioca starch. These foods have high glycemic indexes, so when people eat them, their blood sugar spikes. The hormonal response because of this causes a subsequent ‘sugar crash,’ which will leave you feeling tired with a lack of energy and a desire to EAT MORE when you body doesn’t truly need food yet. They are also full of other crap that your body a) doesn’t need and b) has no idea what to do with! These includes dyes, artificial flavors, corn syrup, processed starches, and SOY!
Oh geez, soy. Soy is a very highly debated topic in the food world, but more and more research is coming out showing the havoc soy wreaks on our hormone, estrogen, in both men and women. With a debate growing over something as critical as hormones, it would be best for us all to stay away until more conclusive evidence is shown to dispel it. Not to mention, the intense process soy has to go through to become the actual flour and emulsifiers used in these foods.
So, it’s obvious gluten-free foods are not automatically healthy. But what about the grains that don’t contain gluten, like oats, rice, quinoa, corn, etc? Aren’t they ok?
Grains are a staple in the standard American diet, holding the spot at the base of the food pyramid for ‘optimal health’ according to the government. So why the newest trend to go grain-free? Although there are tons of reasons, I’ll give you two biggies.
Grains contain phytic acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. This phytic acid is found in all grains, even the ‘healthy whole grains’ that the processed food industry proudly labels on their packages. Not only are they not healthy, they are nutrient-blockers!
Lectins are other toxins present in all grains that cause their own set of problems. Lectins are not broken down in the digestive process and instead latch on to your small intestine and forge themselves into your bloodstream. Undigested food rummaging around freely in your blood stream…gross! The body views these lectins and the food they bring with them as dangerous invaders and initiates a fight response to get rid of them using your immune system. We now have our body fighting the food we just willingly put into it…and losing! This happens to EVERYBODY, regardless of whether you have symptoms of intolerance or not.
Be aware that the reason why our government pushed grains in the first place were economical and strategic. They are cheap to produce, have an incredibly long shelf-life and are easy to sell. Unfortunately, grains do not have the nutritional profile that the money-hungry food industry wants you to believe. It makes much more sense to get your nutrients from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, natural meats and healthy fats (both saturated and unsaturated…but I’ll discuss that in a later post), which offer much higher nutrient density without the unwanted negative impacts.
A no-grain diet can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, alleviate skin disorders like dermatitis, rosacea, or acne, end digestive disturbances, put autoimmune disorders into remission, increase fertility and dramatically improve energy levels. I’ve seen it with my own eyes…for myself and my clients. It’s not a gimmick, it’s just what our body was made to handle.
No matter how little sugar I have in my diet, I still have a pretty solid sweet tooth. I love desserts, especially baked goods. Luckily, there are millions of great Paleo recipes for cookies, cakes, and muffins out there. But so many of them use eggs and almond flour…2 things that I can’t have while on the Autoimmune Protocol.
My craving was so intense on Saturday that as soon as breakfast was over, I set out on a mission to make SOMETHING that tasted dessert-like. PJ’s, crazy hair, and dessert!
If you don’t count the spices and vanilla, this will be a 5-ingredient recipe! We all have the stuff in our pantry anyways.
Two Bite Lemon ‘Cheese’cakes
Two-Bite Lemon Cheescakes (Paleo, AIP-friendly)
makes 6-8 bites
5 dates, roughly chopped (if hard, soak in water for 5 minutes before chopping)
1/2 C. toasted coconut (get recipe here)
1 Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. coconut butter (get recipe here)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (more if you like lemon-y flavor!)
Combine all ingredients for bottom in food processor and pulse until it becomes soft and dough-like. Melt coconut butter by placing jar in a bowl of hot water. Once melted, combine all ingredients for top in a small bowl and whisk together. Use hands to roll date ‘dough’ into 1″ sized balls then use thumbs to flatten into a disc shape. Top with a slightly smaller disc of ‘cheese’cake and use hands to mold both together. Once all bites are formed, cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Tope with lemon zest for garnish. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to a week.