Tag Archive for Sugar-free

Easy and Divine Asian Slaw

I leave in the morning for a working vacation in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, and as is usual for me, I’m still rushing around getting ready to go. I like to just pack it all in leading up to a departure so when I get on the plane, I sleep right the hell through it all. I’ve got my client folders ready, my business book downloaded, and my friend Lucy Corin‘s new collection ready to revel in. Have you had a chance to read any of her incredibly beautiful, funny, whipsmart, complicated, and devastating work? Well, she’s one of my favorites. So I am wholly thrilled to have her new book along with me. Plus… I made this to eat on my journey. I though you might like it,  too.

I am a lover of salad, but I tend to follow a few tried and true versions all the time. For this venture, I got out of my regular zone and plucked a bunch of greens from the shelf I don’t normally go to at first and I gotta say, I’m loving this concoction.

 

For the Salad
1 cucumber
1 fennel bulb
1/2 head napa cabbage, cored
1/2 bunch bok choy
1 carrot
1 mango
2 plums or pluots to your liking
1T black sesame seeds
1T  white sesame seeds

For the Dressing
1T toasted sesame oil
1T olive oil
1T ume plum vinegar
1T rice vinegar
1t tamari or coconut aminos
1T fresh grated ginger

Dice your greens in long thin strips. Grate your carrot. Chop your cucumber, plums, and mango into small cubes. In a separate bowl, whisk all your dressing ingredients together. Pour the dressing into the salad and toss thoroughly. Add in your sesame seeds and toss again. Chill the salad for 20 minutes to let the flavor set.

Get your grub on.

Quit Sugar with Me! Super fun.

I’ll be like Julie McCoy, your Cruise Director

It took me so many tries to quit. And there’s no magic to it. But there are tools that make the possibility of success a little bit closer and a lot more fun that just a white knuckle sandwich.

I can’t know the story that brought you here. Maybe it’s all the news you hear about how terrible refined sugar is for your body. Maybe it’s the way Type II Diabetes keeps cropping up all over your family tree, and beside you with friends and co-workers. Or maybe it’s the annoyance of being such a slave to sugar, unable to say no even when you truly want to. Whatever the reason you come to this series, you’ll find the information you need to make changes, you’ll get support, use your inherent creativity, have fun, and build community.

This four-week course will happen on your own time with a group that meets online all day, every day, for the duration of our studies. You can literally come to the group at any time to write what you need or share a discovery with the group. This frees all of us up to have our own schedules and make these meanigful changes in our lives as they happen. You’ll also have a coaching call with me every other week, one on one, to support you through this work. In this way, support can also be customized to your needs.

Each week we’ll tackle a different topic or angle about the Great White Beast. You’ll get handouts and documents to keep for continued support long after the class is over. Together we will do exercises, make recipes, deconstruct cravings, keep journals, and get our bodies moving as we look at our attachment to sugar.

If giving up sugar has been a longtime goal of yours, this course is just the thing to help you.

Join me by signing up right here.

My Article on Quitting Sugar from MindBodyGreen

Quitting Sugar is a tough fight, but it’s worth it.

Sugar is taking a public beating this week, as the internet is crammed with articles on why to avoid it, including Michael Moss’s fascinating NYT Magazine piece on processed foods as well as yesterday’s NYT column column by beloved chef Mark Bittman.

Bittman’s article explores findings from a study that links sugar consumption, not obesity, to diabetes. According to the piece, “researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity. In other words, according to this study, obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.”

Going beyond the link, Mr. Bittman finally says from the center of chefdom what health coaches and researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig have been saying for years:

Sugar is toxic.

Which is the best reason to quit sugar.

One of the forty million times I quit eating refined sugar (and hopefully the last), I had the magnificent idea to start a journal and track not just my food, but my THOUGHTS about food. How much of my intellectual life was being held hostage by food obsession? And how much of that chokehold was related to sugar? And finally, what might be available to me mentally if all that room was suddenly liberated for me to use in a less exhausting manner than the vicious mistress of obsessive thinking?

I also decided to do a little research about my sweet tooth and see why I felt so helpless in the glitter of its outstretched fingernails. I found this lecture that Dr. Lustig gave a lecture called Sugar: The Bitter Truth in which he shows us that sugar actually stimulates the exact same region of the brain that cocaine goes to work on. I like to call it the Euphoria Lounge. Who doesn’t want to be transported from feelings of suffering, boredom, fear, or betrayal simply by adding a substance to our systems? It is so much easier than talking it out, going for a run, being present in pain or accepting responsibility for things that are causing us harm. NO WONDER I LOVE SUGAR!!

But my journal revealed that the effects of sugar didn’t end simply with the stimulation. Without indulging in the initial impulse, I was able to keep my brain off the endless hamster wheel of desire and denial. “I want this but that’s bad so I can’t.” and then on an even worse day, “I want this so I WILL and now I AM BAD.” Then the sugar appears and the blood sugar Olympics begin their relentless training: the high, the crash, the craving, and mental gymnastics to deny the desire and so forth. And the whole time the mind is engaged in this cycle actively, countless hours are robbed from our waking lives.

So how do we get off the ride? Here are some basic tools for support in quitting sugar, serving the health of your body, and freeing your mind from obsession so you can go about the fantastic business of living.

1. SOUR: Just like on a color wheel where hues opposite from each other cancel each other out, so too is the landscape of our tongues. Having a sugar craving? Grab a pickle. The sour taste will physiologically kill the impulse long enough for you to make a different choice for yourself and mindfully return to the life you are in the middle of living.

2. SUPPORT: Grab a friend or a posse and do it together. The first few days and even two weeks can be so intense when we try and let go of a crutch that no longer serves our health. It’s ok to ask for help and having a friend engaged in a common goal serves to strengthen the entire team. I see this over and over in my group cleanses, how the power of community creates a momentum for everyone.

3. CHANGE OF SCENERY: When the impulse feels at full banshee-monster-head-banging massive, make a physical move. Walk around the block. Take yourself up and down the stairs at the office. Go swimming. Take the dog out. Move from one room of the house to another. Call up your sugar-free pal and talk it out. Remember the craving will pass. Everything does.

4. ADD MORE PLEASURE: Congratulate yourself each day by furnishing yourself with a pleasure. Giving up sugar is not about living in denial, it is about a new perspective of pleasure. Run yourself a gorgeous bath with essential oils and bath salts for added detoxification, aromatherapy, and muscular relaxation. Bring yourself flowers. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi or give one to yourself. Masturbate. Let’s face it, no one is ever mad about an orgasm.

When I was finally able to let go of sugar, I realized through my journal how much of my mental space had been taken up not just by the sugar craving and acrobatics around that, but by just food obsession in general. My mind is now so much freer to be creative, to be curious and alive. My focus is more clear and my relationships with people are deeper, more authentic and loving. I don’t sit with my friend over tea and wonder how long until I get to eat. I sit with my friend over tea and I think about how nice it is to have time to catch up with such a hilarious woman, and how lucky I am to know her.

Moving Out of the Sugar Shack: An Online Group Coaching Series

Time to Move Out

Maybe it’s all the news you hear about how terrbile refined sugar is for your body. Maybe it’s the way Type II Diabetes keeps cropping up all over your family tree, and beside you with friends and co-workers. Or maybe it’s the annoyance of being such a slave to sugar, unable to say no even when you truly want to. Whatever the reason you come to this series, you’ll find the information you need to make changes, you’ll get support, use your inherent creativity, have fun, and build community.

This course will happen on your own time with a group that meets online all day, every day, for the duration of our studies. You can literally come to the group at any time to write what you need or share a discovery with the group. This frees all of us up to have our own schedules and make these meanigful changes in our lives as they happen. You’ll also have a coaching call with me every other week, one on one, to support you through this work. In this way, support can also be customized to your needs.

Each week we’ll tackle a different topic or angle about the Great White Beast. You’ll get handouts, recipes, and documents to keep for continued support long after the class is over. Together we will do exercises, make recipes, deconstruct cravings, keep journals, and get our bodies moving as we look at our attachment to sugar.

If giving up sugar has been a longtime goal of yours, this course is just the thing to help you.

You can register here and join me on this delightful cruise into the next chapter of your life.

Sugar Detox: The Wonderful, The Ecstatic, and the SUPER UGLY, plus bonus popsicles.

photo (46)

I’ve quit doing a lot of things in my life. Smoking took a few times. Like 6. Each time I picked up, I chose a new brand, the last one being hand-rolled numbers that smelled sweet and earthy twirling into a column between my thumb and two fingers. I’m hoping this last effort from a few years back will do it for good. I quit smoking weed, I dunno when that happend, it just went away. I quit coffee a few times, have it only on the rare road trip because something about crappy road coffee with radioactive French Vanilla creamer still appeals to me. Also

Love/Hate

Dunkin’ Donuts coffee whenever in Boston is a must, also French Vanilla. (I don’t want you to get the idea I don’t know anything about coffee, although it’s ok if your impression is that, like summer vacation, I have no class. But I do take my decaf cravings to irritatingly divine local micro roasteries.) I gave up crystal meth and dreamed about it for weeks, making nights long and not so restful. Also falling by the wayside came pretty much the rest of the DEA Schedule II drugs, watching America’s Next Top Model, apathy, dating assholes, and you guess it, refined sugars. And guess which one was the worst?

This stuff makes me INSANE

Correct.

The gosh dang SUGAR.  More difficult than giving up the dashing butch rogues even. Why bother? It made me so crazy. I would watch myself polish off a whole pound of gummi bears, eating even after my tongue started to fritz out. I’d plow through chocolate forgetting entirely to enjoy it, and pastries would find their way to oblivion in my hands, only at the last few bites, me realizing I hadn’t any recollection of the beginning, sometimes leading me to try again with another. I’d miss conversations with people trying to discern if I was looking casual while angling to get enough pie, then worry that everyone noticed how weirdly I ate the entire shared dessert. Plus the kicker was I had no FREEDOM in the matter.

Everybody loves Tim Riggins.

Now, I am a lady who believes wholly in choice. I am a feminist who believes we women can have health at any size and when we have peace, our bodies will respond by asking for what they need and reside in healthy places if we give them that. But in the throws of sugar, I had no choice. I was simply a disembodied hand reaching for themed sheet cakes from Safeway. It started to really piss me off that not only did I feel unhappy in the feminist body I was dragging my great life around in, but also that I had to reckon with the fact that after I had dumped all these chemicals, I still had this one completely controlling me. I was kind of sugar’s little plaything. And so little by little, I tried to get out from under it. The short of it is, it took a few tries.

5 days worth of this.

It felt like shit. Sugar detox is no joke: scorching headaches, bouts of total rage, entire acres of real estate in the mind occupied by what feels like a prison of No Fun for the rest of time. Aches, creaks, lethargy came round calling, the likes of which I had not experienced since the crystal meth left my system, plus just good old fashioned self-pity.

And then there’s the after: about five days later, my brain began to clear. Then it actually kept clearing. My focus got sharper and sharper. My energy went nuts, like I was high but with no tweaker feelings at all. I just woke into the world, clear and energized, ready to do my thing. My insane cravings for sugar waned and oddly, so did my cravings for other things: chips and pizza and cheeseburgers. It isn’t that I never got them, it’s that they registered as clues rather than commands. Cheeseburger daydreams, which I’ve been having constantly during the first 5 days of this cleanse, translate to protein. When I get enough, the craving vanishes. I get to have choices about the protein I take. Chips usually mean I want crunchy things. This also, for me, indicates I’m stressed out, irritated, or annoyed. So it also indicates a trip to the gym or a run is in order. In the mean time I can crunch on carrots or bell peppers or the best crackers ever, Sami’s (gluten free) millet and flax chips. Pizza means I have good taste. WHO THE HELL DOESN’T WANT PIZZA!?!? And for the most part, I rarely eat the iconic things that come up if they are going to impact my well being. And if I do choose to have them, it’s not because I am caving in. I get really good stuff, eat it slowly, savor it, ENJOY MY LIFE, and the gifts that taste and texture have to offer. The 15 pounds I dropped when I quit sugar helped as well. It was nice for my wallet because I didn’t have to shop for new clothes. I felt more comfortable moving in the world, and I finally got some idea of the weight my body felt the best at. It had been years since I had any clue, if ever.

The other thing that happened is I got more creative with food. I began cooking more, reading labels and understanding the way my body felt in reaction to things. Agave came around as the world’s next answer to living without the all powerful sweetness of life, but that also made me feel cracked out. Turns out it’s processed much like corn syrup so that makes sense. But brown rice syrup tasted great and I felt fine eating it. Small treats of maple syrup and honey also work for me. Whole fruit is my favorite. And like I said earlier, lately I’ve been obsessed with popsicles. All the ones I make are sugar-free and pretty delightful. These ones have quite a kick:

Put about 3/4 c of pineapple hunks, an 8oz. container of raw coconut water, a knuckle of ginger and 1/2 a cucumber in the blender. Whirl it around and then freeze your pops. Makes 5. And each has 25 calories. If you care about that kind of thing.

Roasted Nectarine and Tarragon Yogurt Pops

There was some flying all over

Good gravy!!! Where the hell have I been? Well, lots of places, actually. I’ve been in Vermont, Massachusetts, Alabama and beautiful New Orleans Louisiana, y’all. Also I’ve been right here, researching, coaching, reading and cooking. But first, here’s some pictures of some places and stuff just for fun.

Burr Pond with my mom in Vermont

Triple Garlic Yukons with garlic scapes

A beautiful living room in MA

Plus a beautiful hike in the woods

 

Gulf Shores working vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch Break between Clients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Easy Co-Op

French Quarter Horns for Sale

Pink Tree on Magazine Str

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing. But now I’m home and I’m in the kitchen and back at the gym and basically ready to rumble. By home, I mean back in San Francisco, where it rarely gets hot as hell, and usually not until October. Nonetheless, it’s been hot where I’ve been and it kept me dreaming of popsicles. I mean I could not keep the ideas of the icy little things away. Ideas in the shower. Ideas strolling down the street. Ideas upon rising. Ideas waiting in lines. And then finally home to collect popsicle molds and get to it!

The first batch was incredible. Off the hook. Not to brag. Raw coconut water, fresh pluots, and five big fat leaves of basil. Blend. Freeze. For real that’s all it takes and they are NUTSO good. My other ideas have been a touch more labor intensive, but not much. You can totally make these. I had to make em quick to get the yogurt out of the house, as Friday I am beginning my Sweet Summer Cleanse, and dairy and I will be taking a hiatus from each other. Until then, you’ll find me enjoying these.

2 ripe nectarines
2 healthy sprigs of fresh tarragon
1c plain yogurt
1T dark honey
cinnamon for dusting
1t olive oil
1/2t sunflower oil

Preheat your oven to 375. Next, halve your nectarines and get the pit out. Be careful s sometimes the pit wants to stay. Rub all four halves with olive oil. You will probably not need the whole teaspoon but feel free to get generous. Dust liberally with cinnamon. I use Vietnamese cinnamon because it has a particular flavor that makes me feel pretty relentlessly happy. But any cinnamon is a friend of mine, really. Now roast the fruit for 20-30 minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, on your burner, heat up your sunflower oil. Use all the leaves of tarragon from your sprig and saute until translucent and fragrant. The photo above shows the amount of leaves and the way they should look. Maybe 2 minutes. Put the cinnamon nectarines, tarragon and honey all into your blender and whirl around until it’s all smooth. Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze. Yields 5 pops. 5 INCREDIBLY delicious pops. Each one has 3.1 grams of protein, 49 calories, and a good hunk of B-12. Fantastic dessert!

Sunrise Gluten-Free Granola

photo 3

All of this delicious homemade almond milk has left a ton of almond meal opportunities around my kitchen these days. There have been banana breads, Black Caraway Bread, Pear Cake, and a magically full mason jar of homemade granola. Ginger loves it, so I end up making this version or a variation a coupla times a week along with the milk. It’s really easy. You can vary the ingredients to your liking, of course. In fact, more often than not, recipes are a guide to help you find the dish you want to make and a place to start that’s kind of close.

It’s funny. Like almond milk, granola is a thing I saw in the store all the time, so expensive, and often with evaporated cane juice (AKA sugar) as the first or second ingredient. I would spend hours pouring over the various flavors and when I’d finally find one that looked great, it’d be like 10 bucks for a little bag. In the end, I’d just forego the whole thing, resigning myself to spend my extra ducats someplace else, like fish oil supplements or really nice olive oil. Yet with all of this time spent, somehow I never saw myself as a person who could just MAKE it, be totally in control of the quality of the ingredients, and accomplish this for like 70% less money. It was like the granola only came from Fairy Land, crafted by a skilled tribe of gnomes gifted by the hippie Goddess while their unicorn neighbors in the next village made that tahini dressing that’s so good.

Well, call me a gnome. My version is not too sweet, gluten free, and sugar-free. Total Gnome Throw Down.

1c almond meal
1/2c rolled oats
1T apple butter
1T maple syrup
1T cocoa nibs
1T goji berries
1T green raisins
1T crushed walnuts
1T apple juice sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat your over to 225. Not so hot.

Take the almond meal from your almond milk, or from the store, and plop it in a bowl. Add your maple syrup, apple butter, and rolled oats. Stir it all up until the oats begin to absorb the liquid. If you want more clumps, you can add in honey, molasses, or more maple syrup. Once everything is all together, add in the dry ingredients and stir.

Spread out the mixture onto a baking sheet covered in foil, and set it inside your heated oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Pull out your concoction and stir it around, then flatten. It will still feel damp. Do this three more times so your granola cooks for a total of one hours. It should come out golden, warm, and dry with small clumps ready to go.

You can sprinkle it into yogurt, put a tin of it in your bag for a healthy snack during the day, get adventurous with probiotic-rich goat milk kefir, or just set it swimming in your almond milk.

Gluten-Free Black Caraway Bread

photo 1

In an effort to combat the evil that is perfectionism, I am dedicating today’s post to the effort of a thing rather than its ultimate perfect state. This bread is my first attempt of an altered recipe. Usually I will wait and try and tweak and fuss until I can show you an outcome that sings arias and scales mountaintops. Not today. Gluten-free baking is a whole new venue for me since I discovered by accident that I tend to feel better without the stuff. I’ll tell you about that first and then we’ll get to the kitchen.

So many of my clients come to me with questions about gluten and its side effects. They want to know if it might help them feel better to cleave it from their lives, and how they would know whether it affected them or not. I knew about its inflammatory effects on the system, about the difference between Celiac Disease vs. a gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or a wheat allergy, all of which are actually different, but these were all things I knew from books. Even though books are one of the great loves of my life, I decided to do my own firsthand experiment so I could pass on at least some personal experience. Of course, we are all different and everyone must try their own path. But anyhow, this is how it went for me:

Even though I was fairly sure I did not have any sensitivity, I set out on my experiment. As I learned to do from some doctor’s suggestions in school, I eliminated gluten entirely for one week, and then on the eighth day, I brought it back into my diet. For many years I have had a pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, little belly pooch. After about 3 days of no gluten, my cute pooch began to evaporate and by the seventh day it was gone. While I found the thing to be downright fetching, the idea that it was a result of a food sensitivity made me feel less affectionate toward it.

In addition, have you ever been in a room and found yourself growing increasingly annoyed for no apparent reason and then all of a sudden an air filter clicks off and you realize there has been a constant noise in the room that never registered until it vanished? That’s what happened with my sense of feeling bloated. I had no idea I felt that way until I stopped feeling that way. My assumption was also that I would feel deprived and pissed off about not having gluten for the week it was gone, but it turned out to be no big deal. In fact, the challenge made my choices so streamlined, it was kind of a relief. Even so, I did look forward to the eighth day, on which I had a hunk of my very favorite Acme whole wheat and cranberry bread.

While my mouth rejoiced, my innards stewed and churned and revolted. And there was my answer. My system isn’t that psyched about gluten. I can still choose to eat it, which I do on occasion, sparingly, and knowing full well the consequences. But sometimes, it just seems like I must have pizza. Period.

In the mean time, I like to keep my own kitchen gluten-free now, and as such have been dipping my toe in the pool of attempting baking. It’s hard. Turns out people like to measure by weight rather than volume. In addition, some of the flours are not grain based and therefor act totally differently than grain based flours. Anything can happen. The breads tend to be dense and heavy, which people LOVE to make jokes about. I’ve come to sort of appreciate the richness of their flavors and earthy bottom of the weight. This bread in particular turned out to weigh a full metric ton and not be NEARLY as gorgeous as Heidi Swanson’s version that I based it on. I will say, after all the changes I made, it tastes delicious. It has a kind of sour (teff flour) and bitter (ground espresso) and sweet (carrots and molasses) combination I like. It’s weird at first but each slice tastes better than the last. I am going to keep working on it over time and get it right for you, but here’s to getting it close. A nice pitstop on the way to getting it better.

I also have a wonderful feeling about this bread because the kitchen was so quiet, the light was beautiful, and I got to cook all day yesterday. It’s such a nice feeling for me, and it’s been awhile, so maybe a lot of what I like about this bread is how great I felt while I made it.

1 3/4c warm filtered water
2 1/4t dry yeast
1t maple syrup
2T cocoa powder
2T finely ground espresso (I used decaf)
1/3c blackstrap molasses
3 1/2t caraway seeds
3T earth balance or coconut oil
2t fine sea salt
3 grated carrots
1c brown teff flour
1/4c garbanzo flour
1 1/2c almond meal (fresh from the almond milk you just made!)
3c brown rice flour (1/2c set aside for dusting later)
2T olive oil

Preheat your oven to 450.

First get yourself a nice small bowl and whisk together the yeast in the warm water with the maple syrup. Set this aside while you get busy but check on it to make sure it gets foamy like a little root beer float.

Meanwhile, put your espresso, 3t of your caraway seeds (the rest is for the top later), cocoa, molasses, earth balance (or coconut oil) and salt together in a saucepan and stir it until it’s just melted. It will be the richest color in the world. It makes you not care if the bread is perfect because it smells so good and is so beautiful.

Next pull it off the flame and set it aside while you combine the yeast mixture and the grated carrot in a large bowl. Then add in all your flours. Now add your rich molasses mixture and stir. It won’t come together like a traditional bread dough. It’s looser and seems more like a dense cake mix really. Mine was a little wet and I added some rice flour. I then put it in my mixer for about 3 minutes with the hook attachment. No worry if you don’t have a mixer. The dough doesn’t really need kneading at this point because it’s so loose, but turn it out onto  cutting board and form it into a ball. Take your dough ball and place it in an olive oiled bowl, nothing metal, and cover it with a cloth. I leave mine in the sun to rise for about 2 hours while I putter about. If there is no sun, I leave it on top of the oven and bake something else while it rises, using the heat to keep the bread rising.

Return to your dough and look how puffy it is!!! So cute! Bully it gently and push it down. Then turn it out onto a floured surface and make it into a round. Because the dough is heavy, it will settle wide and kind of flatten. Do not despair. Also do not expect that it will turn into a fluffy little debutante in the oven. This is a hearty country girl bread who can toss hay bales all day and picks her teeth with stray stalks. Now put your dough on an oiled cookie sheet and recover it with a tea towel. Let it rise again for another hour. Cover the ole’ lass with a dusting of brown rice flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of your caraway seeds. Then throw it in an oven at 450 for an hour. Turn the heat down to 350 for another half hour and check on her all as you go. As you know if you read this blog, my oven blows so check on your bread for you own times. Hopefully your oven is more well-endowed than mine is. The bread should be crisp on the top and bottom and dense all the way through. Dense, but done.

Ok. Good luck.
Enjoy the imperfections and let me know what you do with this recipe as you go. We can discover it gluten-free perfect version together.

 

Almond Milk

photo 3

Here’s the secret to really killing it with a smoothie: homemade almond milk. It’s got four ingredients and could have less if you want, takes maybe five to ten minutes to make, and all you need is a regular blender and cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. No fancy expensive equipment or hours of toil and cleanup. It is a beautiful thing in this life to find something so simple that adds such decadence to a healthy breakfast, or really any meal I guess. For the record, a nut milk bag is this thing:

Specialized nylon thing

Basically a nylon mesh bag with a drawstring on the top. While the almond milk that comes in aseptic containers, those lined cardboard boxes, had recently come to be a staple for me in my smoothies, when a friend brought me some homemade stuff while we were on a cleanse, I knew there was no going back. The milk was so delicious, I would just drink a glass of it for fun. At her suggestion, I simply watched a video on YouTube, made a few changes for my liking, and voila, it only takes like 5 minutes, saves a bunch of money, and tastes out this world.

1c raw almonds, soaked overnight (this activates enzymes in the nuts to help digestion)
1 Medjool  date
1 vanilla bean
3c filtered water

Take your almonds out the night before as you putter around the kitchen and soak them in filtered water. In the morning, drain the almonds and toss them in your blender. Cover the almonds with 3 cups filtered water, extract the pit from your date and toss it in, and add your vanilla bean. Alternately, you can use another date for sweeter milk, you can use vanilla extract if you like, or omit vanilla altogether if it’s not your jam.

Turn your blender on for about 2 to 3 minutes. As you can see, I don’t have a fancy Vitamix or anything, just that cute deco number up there we found at an estate sale for 4 dollars. It’s the best. Pour the resulting milk into a mixing bowl. Then take your nut milk bag (you can also use cheesecloth) and turn it inside out which will take the seam out of the way when you clean it, and insert it back into the blender and fasten the drawstring around the top. pour everything from the bowl back into the blender and lift the bag slowly up out of the liquid. Then wring all the liquid out of the almond meal. Voila.

I save the almond meal in the freezer to use for my next gluten-free baking attempt, which by the way, is really some heavy trial and lots of error. It might be awhile before you see an original recipe here, but I am enjoying the learning. You can also sprinkle the meal in yogurt, over oatmeal, on pancakes or use it in your next muffin or bread mix.

The homemade milk is low in saturated fat, has NO cholesterol, very low in sodium and provides you with a great source of magnesium. Magnesium activates enzymes in our bodies, contributing to energy production. It also helps regulate calcium levels, as well zinc, potassium, and Vitamin D.  We also use it to build bones and regulate body temperature. Word.

Pear Cake for Kimberly

I worked as a barista when I was in college at a joint that no longer exists called Cafe Roma. I was an insecure youth whose unfortunate fears manifested in rejecting others. Santa Barbara had a massive Greek system and my days at the cafe were spent lounging with goths and punks, hurling silent scorn at the sorority ladies who came in to order Non-Fat, Decaf Lattes. We called them Why Bother Lattes. They’d walk away with the pints of coffee clutched in sapphire bedazzled fingers and greek letters in arcs over their butts, ponytails and ribbons bopping toward a study date with their boyfriends. I was a bitch.

Eventually, I dialed down from being a bitch to being snarky, where the mean might not be AT you, but more around you. The new Why Bother target of my days had become Vegan baked goods. Desserts with no butter and no eggs. Add to that No Sugar and you could have me in a serious mouth frothing tirade of Why Bother, providing, of course, I didn’t froth too much and get the filter of the cigarette all wet. Nothing less appealing than a soggy filter, even for smokers. Those were the years where I always wanted to be right.

Now I am not so invested in being Right. I really just want to be happy. Which also means being healthy, for me. While I am not vegan, I would say about 80% of my meals these days just turn out that way, and refined sugar is, with any grace at all, a thing only to be found in my rear view mirror. But I love dessert. This one is particularly delicious with No Sugar, No Dairy, Vegan, and No Gluten. And I’m picky about dessert. I altered this recipe from Terry Walters’ Clean Start, a wonderful book with incredibly clean and healthy food, packed with flavor and creativity. I brought it to the first Moving Out of the Sugar Shack workshop where the attendees seemed pretty sold on it. As with most recipes, I first read them a few times. Then I make some initial tweaks just in my mind. After I attempt the recipe, I make notes and keep tweaking it until it suits my own tastes. Hers is pretty dang good right off the bat. Her other book, Clean Food, is one of my favorite books to recommend to clients just beginning to get back into the kitchen and make clean healthy choices.

1c garbanzo flour
1c almond meal
1/2c potato starch
1T baking powder
1t baking soda
3/4t ground cinnamon
1/4t ground cardamom
1/4t fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 c crushed walnuts

3c grated pears (about 5), whatever ones look best
1/2c pear juice
1 banana, ripe
1/4c maple syrup
2t lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1T vanilla extract

1 pear for topping
Other topping options:
Dried cranberries (sweetened with apple juice)
Currants
Walnuts

Turn your oven on to 350 if you have a good oven. If you are me, and you have a crappy oven, use 375.

Put your dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. I put my wet into a food processor, but any mixer will do. If you don’t have one, just mash your banana by hand and then whisk them all together in a bowl.  Then dump your wet into dry and mix the whole shebang.

Pour the goods into a 9″ square or round pan, greased. I used coconut oil to grease the pan. Top the thing attractively and bake for 45 minutes or until you poke a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean. It should be slightly browned on top.

Now have friends over and play cards. Enjoy each other. That’s the best part.