Tag: Gluten-Free

Warm Kale Squash Fall Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette Plus Benefits of Rosemary

Warm Kale Squash Fall Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette Plus Benefits of Rosemary

Rosemary for the win When it comes to fall and winter cooking, rosemary is one of my favorite go-to’s. Its warming flavors capture the cozy weather vibes so well. I feel like kale and butternut squash with a generous sprinkle of rosemary is an ideal […]

Paleo Stuffing Stuffed Baked Delicata Squash: A Vegan Thanksgiving Solution

Paleo Stuffing Stuffed Baked Delicata Squash: A Vegan Thanksgiving Solution

The Main Attraction: Vegan Feast Alternative Nothing truly replaces a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But these days there are plenty of options that deliver all the fall feels for vegans and people trying to adopt a more plant-based. But for a lot of us […]

Sweet Potato Mash: Nailing the Breakfast Game

Sweet Potato Mash: Nailing the Breakfast Game

Sweet Potatoes for Breakfast

For those skeptics our there, just hear me out for a second. Sweet potato may not jump to mind as a traditional breakfast food option. But really, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Sweet potatoes basically taste like dessert, but they are quite versatile and pair with both sweet and savory. 

When going paleo, low-carb, or gluten-free or giving up grains altogether, breakfast beyond smoothies can be tricky to navigate. Fortunately, sweet potato bread, muffins, pancakes, and even savory loaded sweet potatoes and patties are all a thing. 

sweet potato mash gluten-free grain-free paleo breakfast

Paleo ‘Oats’

But what about a nice warm bowl of oatmeal? Can anything really stand in for that breakfast stand-by? Maybe not entirely. But we can get pretty close: enter sweet potato mash.

While sweet potatoes clearly are not a direct substitute taste-wise, they do provide a similar consistency and the same warming comfort a hot bowl of oatmeal serves up on a cold winter morning. And if you throw them in the food processor for just a few seconds with the skins on, you’ll wind up with a smooth yet slightly chunky consistency similar to oats with the bits of skins mixed in. 

They’re sweet but not overly sweet, provide a solid dose of real food nutrition to start the day, and can take a variety of toppings and add-ins just as well as the best bowl of oatmeal. I like to top mine with blueberries, chopped pecans, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and a bit of unsweetened coconut. But really, as with oatmeal, the sky’s the limit.

Sweet potato mash also works perfectly as a side dish, with or without the toppings. And of course it can stand in for a healthy dessert alternative!

sweet potato mash gluten-free grain-free paleo breakfast

Sweet potato health benefits

But first, the benefits. Sweet potatoes are chock full of carotenoids, which are full of potent health benefits due to their rich phytochemical concentrations. My favorite: cancer risk reduction. Increased intake of carotenoids has been associated with reduced risk of multiple types of cancer. Interestingly, they might also help protect us from harmful UV sun rays. Research has found that supplementing sunblock with daily intake of carotenoids before (and during) sun exposure can help reduce the rate of sunburn and sun damage, likely because it slows the absorption of UV rays. 

Sweet potatoes have also got you covered on the Vitamin A front: one cup provides over 200% of the recommended daily intake, as well as 50% of your Vitamin C and Manganese, making them an excellent immunity-boosting staple. They also provide a substantial amount of the B vitamins and biotin, plus copper, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorous, and fiber.

Not only are they high in antioxidants, but they are contain anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies show a reduction in inflammation in nerve and brain tissue following sweet potato consumption. The phytonutrients prevent demyelination caused by excess fibrinogen, which has implications for diseases like multiple sclerosis. The research so far backs it up – I won’t argue with that!

In spite of their relatively high GI rating, sweet potatoes have been show to actually improve blood sugar regulation, even in people with Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, another class of nutrients found in sweet potatoes called glycosides have been shown to contain antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

sweet potato mash gluten-free grain-free paleo breakfast

The Upshot: Nailing the Breakfast Game

While research into all of these potential health benefits is ongoing, the upshot is clear: eat your sweet potatoes!

In order to maximize the bioavailability of the nutrients (aka how efficiently your body absorbs the nutrients), adding a little fat to your meal is a good idea. Sweet potato and avocado is one of my favorite combos.

But you can easily add just a little olive oil to a dish, or to keep it sweet, I like to add coconut oil. For those who aren’t fans of the coconut flavor, unrefined coconut oil has no coconut flavor.

sweet potato mash gluten-free grain-free paleo breakfast
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Sweet Potato Mash

A paleo, grain-free, gluten-free alternative to breakfast oats.

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2-4 sweet potatoes depending on size
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil refined or unrefined
  • Toppings of choice. My favorites include: pecans, walnuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, cacao nibs, blueberries, dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, warming spices, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a touch of added sweetness if desired.

Instructions

  1. Pierce the sweet potatoes a few times with a nice and bake at 400F for 35-50 minutes (depending on size; they should be soft when fully cooked).

  2. Place the sweet potatoes in a food processor, add the coconut oil, and blend until thoroughly mashed. Option: scoop the insides from the skin and mash with a fork.

  3. Scoop into a bowl, add toppings as desired, and eat up!

Cauliflower Mash, 3 Ways: Vegan, Paleo, and Keto

Cauliflower Mash, 3 Ways: Vegan, Paleo, and Keto

Cauli Mash: The Best Thing to Happen to the Modern Thanksgiving Dinner Menu With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been compiling, planning and creating delicious, healthy, diet-specific alternatives to the classic dishes. These days there are so many people with specific dietary restrictions, it can […]

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie Bars: Vegan Gluten-Free Refined Sugar-Free Recipe

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie Bars: Vegan Gluten-Free Refined Sugar-Free Recipe

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Bar Style Fall is officially in full swing. Pumpkins. Pumpkin spice. Pumpkin everything. Apples. Chai spice. Cinnamon brooms…yep I got one from Trader Joe’s, and it smells amazing. It smells like fall, and it smells like baking. So […]

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Cleanse your system the fun way

The words cleanse and detox often cause strong, guarded reactions. The idea of deprivation or consuming bizarre foods you can’t even pronounce is simply not appealing to most. But before you turn and run… truth bomb: you don’t have to suffer on a cleanse! You can have your coffee and drink it too if you really can’t fathom going without.
And best of all: you don’t have to deprive yourself! Cleansing can be done in a completely satisfying, totally delicious way.

Why cleanse

The fact is, our bodies are designed to detox on a daily basis. Detoxification is a natural process. However, modern life is so full of toxins that it’s difficult for our bodies to keep up with the constant toxification loads placed on it through our food, the products we use, and the air we breath. By periodically and systematically eliminating foods that are more taxing on the digestive system and are known common irritants, we allow our bodies’ systems to rest and reset.
Symptoms often include relatively minor annoyances like poor sleep, weight gain, brain fog, mood swings, food cravings, or bloating to name a few. (But let’s be real, anyone who suffers from these knows how real the frustration is when nothing seems to work, no matter what you try!). But toxic overload can also be a factor in more serious conditions such as chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.

 

What is a Cleanse?

These days you hear the terms cleansing and detoxing everywhere. Detox your life. Do a juice cleanse. Do this detox diet and make these detox-friendly recipes. The two terms are often used seemingly interchangeably, so what’s the difference?
Detoxification is actually a natural process that happens every day in our bodies to clear out toxins and waste. A true detox diet typically refers to a highly restricted diet that may reduce down to only liquids (fruit and vegetable juices) and usually calls for specific supplements to support the detoxification process.
Cleansing ultimately has the same goal as a detox – to give your body the chance to reset – but takes a somewhat gentler, more sustainable approach. A cleanse essentially cleans up your diet: it eliminates processed junk food and strips the diet down to the essentials – nutrient-dense real, whole foods. Think: lots of fruits and vegetables.
By removing the junk from your diet and consuming foods that support the body’s natural detoxification processes, you allow your body to rid itself of the toxins and waste that have been building up over time – a natural detox. It’s basically like unclogging a drain. Cleansing allows our kidneys and liver to function more efficiently, which makes for a healthier, happier body.
Blueberry Green Power Smoothie – recipe in my free cleanse guide

Who should cleanse?

While weight loss is a common goal of such diets, cleanses are a good idea for anyone struggling with low energy, stress, poor health, or, frankly, nearly any form of disease in the body. Cleansing can not only repair the body, but it can remedy your relationship to food and help you rethink the way you fuel yourself.
Basically, if you fall into any of the following categories: you should consider a cleanse:
  • If you wake up feeling less than vibrant or energetic. If you feel like crap all the time. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below.
  • If you struggle with keeping the weight off. As it turns out, not all calories are created equal. Sugar and refined flour have a unique effect on the body’s metabolism, and often trigger hunger and cause people to overeat. Not to mention, sugar triggers inflammation.
  • If you’re addicted to sugar, carbs, or salty food-like junk. The fact is, it’s not your fault. It’s the sugar and the flour and the chemicals and the concerted efforts of the food industry over the years to hijack our brains so we become addicted, repeat customers.
  • If you’ve never done a cleanse or detox. These days, all of us could use a little reset. And most of us could do with a little more self-care. Cleansing allows you to focus on self-nourishment. You and your body are your top priority for over a week. How great is that?

But wait, cleansing sounds hard!

I get it. For most of us accustomed to the SAD (Standard American Diet), cleansing sounds like an onerous chore. And frankly, it can sound really intimidating to many. No pizza? No burgers? No fries? No cookies!? And on top of all that… no coffee??? Are you nuts!? (Well, maybe a little, but that’s neither here nor there ?)
As I mentioned above, while perhaps not the absolute ideal, you can have your coffee on a cleanse. Just stick to one cup of organic coffee in the morning, then maybe reduce to decaf, and then possibly consider dandelion tea. If you can start to wean yourself down a few days before, even better!
I LOVE my coffee too, but I do encourage clients to give the no-coffee thing a shot at least once as we easily get hooked on the caffeine. It’s possible that after a few days, you may even choose to go without.
Here’s the thing about cleansing: if often opens up a whole new world of eating. Healthy, nourishing food can be absolutely delicious, and your whole approach to eating can shift. Cleansing can get you better attuned to what your body truly needs, and many often find they begin to crave these healthy options full of nutrients your body requires rather than empty calories that mess with our chemistry. Delicious food that nourishes body, mind and soul – who wouldn’t want that?

When not to cleanse

Detoxing is one thing – many people should avoid strict detoxes. When it comes to whole foods cleansing, there are far fewer risks.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should always avoid strict detoxes, however my gradual, whole foods cleanse approach is safe to follow during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
There are of course situations when caution is advisable. Anyone suffering from a serious condition should always clear any major dietary changes with their doctor. Diabetics in particular must excercise caution, as with any dietary change.
Because this approach is gentle and calls for real, whole foods, there is nothing to be lost except for what you want to lose: the toxic crap that makes us feel less than great!

The cleansing process

What happens when you eliminate all the ‘dead’ foods? Foods that contain gluten, flour, wheat, dairy, sugar and trans fats are technically dead, and dead foods have lower energy. Because they’re dead. No wonder consuming them makes us feel like crap.
So, first, you replace them with lots of live foods: delicious fruits and veggies and clean plant-based edibles. Once you eliminate the processed, refined, and difficult-to-digest dead foods, your body will feel cleaner, leaner, and lighter. You’ll be able to think more clearly, have more energy, and be more productive. Imagine feeling light and free and full of energy – imagine feeling like the best version of yourself, every day.
I won’t sugar-coat it: things often get a little worse before they get better. Cleansing can release toxins stored in tissues into the bloodstream and cause a little fatigue, brain fog, or skin flare-ups, but this usually only lasts a couple days, and proper preparation and cleanse-enhancing activities can ease these symptoms.
A cleanse isn’t necessarily an easy quick-fix solution. It’s not a magic pill (they don’t exist). It does take a little planning, effort, and willpower to stay the course when everyone around you is indulging in pizza, cake, and beer. But consider getting your friends or family on-board: social support and friend-power is a winning combo!

Bottom Line: It’s worth a shot!

Once you get through to the other side, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this ages go. And you may find something somewhat astonishing: that food in its natural state not only tastes good, but that it’s better than all the other stuff you used to indulge in. You may find that you start to prefer, fresh, real food.
Bottom line: Cleansing effectively switches your metabolism into full gear, activates your body’s natural healing abilities, and helps you function better than you even thought possible.

Cleanse-friendly food

Signs you need a Cleanse

Still not sure if a cleanse is really worth it for you? Here are some common signs your body could benefit:
  • have trouble sleeping
  • get headaches
  • gain weight easily, especially in the belly
  • feel exhausted and depleted
  • feel a lack of focus and energy
  • have trouble losing weight
  • experience bloating or gas
  • have digestive complaints
  • have excessive sinus problems
  • suffer from joint pain
  • have acne, eczema or other skin problems
  • feel stuck, unmotivated, or irritable
  • feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • experience mood swings
  • crave sugar or starchy food

Symptoms of Toxic Overload

What underlies these signs are typically the symptoms of toxic overload. The complaints listed above are often how the body signals that it’s experiencing toxic overload and wants a little TLC.
The symptoms of toxic overload are much more extensive than the relatively minor frustrations listed above. The symptoms are also extremely varied and can impact the entire bodily system. Seemingly unrelated conditions may all result from this underlying issue. As mentioned above, chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more serious conditions can all by influenced by toxic overload.

Below is a list of the many symptoms of toxic overload:

  • headaches
  • weight gain or loss
  • constipation
  • belly bloat
  • painful gas
  • frequent belching
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • joint and muscle aches
  • muscle tension
  • soreness
  • acne
  • warts
  • itching
  • eczema
  • skin eruptions
  • inability to focus or concentrate
  • foggy brain
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • lethargy
  • flu-like symptoms
  • allergic reactions
  • hives
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • coughing
If you experience any of the above, this is a sign your body needs a good internal cleaning. Overall health and optimal wellbeing begin with gut health and nutrition, and cleansing your body is the best way to shift your body into healing and optimal functioning.

What now?

Ready to cleanse? Got any questions? Get in touch with me now and we’ll come up with the best plan for you! My cleanse guides are packed with even more information and are full of delicious, cleanse-friendly recipes to get you started.
In the meantime, check out a few of my cleanse-friendly recipes:
Why You Should Eat More Watermelon + Vegan Watermelon Feta Salad Recipe

Why You Should Eat More Watermelon + Vegan Watermelon Feta Salad Recipe

Watermelon is good, and good for you Seriously, what’s more refreshing than watermelon on a hot summer day? In life, I rarely think, I want some watermelon. But then summer rolls around and I take my first bite and I’m like oh yeah, this stuff is […]

Raw Vegan Creamy Celery Herb Soup Recipe

Raw Vegan Creamy Celery Herb Soup Recipe

Cool for the Summer: Raw Vegan Creamy Celery Herb Soup Ohhhh yes, this raw vegan creamy celery herb soup recipe is a win! More raw soup. Souper delicious. Souper healthy. Creamy. Refreshing. Bursting with layers of flavor. So I went to the local farmer’s market […]

Paleo Dark Chocolate Sugar-Free Recipe

Paleo Dark Chocolate Sugar-Free Recipe

Organic Vegan 0g Sugar Paleo Dark Chocolate Recipe – No Sugar Alcohols Necessary

Life without chocolate simply wouldn’t be worth living, so when it comes to healthy chocolate, I’ve become somewhat of an expert. Ok ok, expert is a bit of a stretch. But I’ve been doing all the necessary (and delicious!) research. Because I need sugar-free paleo dark chocolate in my life. Fortunately, this recipe passes my super-strict test.

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

I’ve tasted the healthiest chocolate bars. I’ve researched and tested the best cocoa and cacao. I’ve searched for clean sugar-free chocolate recipes. And I’ve experimented with making my own paleo dark chocolate. Because sometimes, you just gotta create your own solution.

Recipes for homemade chocolate abound on the internet. But whenever I searched for ‘sugar-free’ paleo dark chocolate, the recipes generally replaced sugar with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup. Although all-natural and each great options in their own right, they still contain sugar. And really what I was looking for was a sugar-free, paleo dark chocolate without sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are a great solution for many, but I (along with many others) don’t always respond well to them.

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

Because of my gut-healing journey and my need to steer clear of sugar, I embarked on a mission to make delicious treats with literally zero grams of sugar – not just refined sugar but any sugar. I did all sorts of experimenting in the kitchen with stevia and other sweeteners containing sugar alcohols. These can work great for loads of people and each has their own place, but I’ve finally found my favorite sweetener: monk fruit.

Monk fruit: The superior sweetener

Monk fruit’s all natural, does not contain sugar alcohols, and has no funky aftertaste (like many find with stevia). So imho, it’s the best option. When I first researched this sweetener, I experienced a little sticker shock. But it turns out a teeny tiny bit goes quite a long way, so the upfront cost is absolutely worth it. In fact, when I use monk fruit, I find that an eighth of a teaspoon is sometimes sufficient for an entire recipe. And if I want to sweeten my coffee, for example, just the tiniest dash will do.

Beyond personal taste preferences, using any of these sugar alternatives requires a bit of experimentation and a fair bit of caution. Despite what many of the packages indicate, the vast majority are not a one-to-one substitute for sugar. As far as sweetness is concerned, I find that less is more in all cases.

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

Anyway, back to the chocolate.

As much as I love chocolate and chocolate-containing goodies, I knew absolutely nothing about making chocolate when I first embarked on my paleo dark chocolate making endeavors. So I did my best searching for simple versions to work off of.

I first experimented with several homemade chocolate recipes using stevia. It worked, but the stevia aftertaste was detectable. I also added different flavors like coffee, cinnamon, sea salt, peppermint, and hazelnut. I varied ingredient quantities, and tried adding a touch of coconut oil, and, finally, coconut milk. 

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

Finally, I’ve landed on a version worth sharing.

This paleo dark chocolate requires just five ingredients – cocoa butter, cocoa powder, monk fruit, vanilla extract and coconut milk – and takes just five minutes to make (minus setting time). Without the coconut milk, the blend tastes a bit dry. These days, I do appreciate the taste of very dark chocolate (I often purchase 85%). However the powder quality comes through a bit too much without the milk.

I tried adding coconut oil as a couple recipes do. The chocolate was definitely a lot smoother, but I didn’t love the addition of extra oil. So finally I tried coconut milk and found a winner. It lacks the oil and the chocolate is still so much smoother on the palette.

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

And it’s super easy to customize: I sprinkled it with a little sea salt, because dark sea salt chocolate is one of my fav versions, ever. You can make any flavor you choose using this as the base and blending in essential oils or organic extracts.

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

 

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

 

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

All you do is melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler setup on the stove, then mix in the remaining ingredients, scoop it into a mold, and set it in the fridge or freezer. I actually did purchase a chocolate bar mold from Amazon which I love.

But you can simply coat the bottom of a dish, plate, small loaf pan – whatever works. It may be more difficult to remove intact. But it doesn’t really matter if the chocolate breaks into pieces if you’re just making it for your own consumption purposes!

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate

Best of all – you can chop it up to make vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, sugar alcohol-free paleo dark chocolate chunks for your baking needs 😉

Sugar-Free Paleo Dark Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated cocoa butter, or cocoa butter discs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp monk fruit sweetener (start small and adjust to taste!)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk

How to Make:

  1. For quicker, even melting, grate the cocoa butter, (or purchase the discs to skip the grating). Place the cocoa butter in a double boiler, or in a medium-sized glass bowl.
  2. If you do not have a double boiler, fill a medium-sized saucepan with 1 inch of water. Very carefully nest the glass bowl on the rim of saucepan (make sure it nests securely).
  3. Heat on medium to high heat bringing to a gentle boil at most, allowing the the cocoa butter to melt completely. Remove the glass bowl from heat as soon as the last bits melt. Immediately mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla, sweetener, and coconut milk. With the last three ingredients, start small, and adjust to taste. You should achieve a smooth ganache-like mixture. As you mix the ingredients, do not let the chocolate cool too much otherwise it may become rough.
  4. Using a spatula, fill your mold. Then allow to set. You may place it in the refrigerator to set, or the freezer to speed up the process. (If you’re in a warm climate, you’ll definitely need to set it in the fridge or freezer).
  5. Keep refrigerated. Makes a bit more than 3 ounces. Enjoy!

*These quantities filled my break apart 3oz mold, with a couple spoonfuls left over (which obviously went straight into my mouth… perfect 😉

Want more vegan, paleo, sugar-free chocolate recipes?

Check these out:

Cheers! xx

Vegan whipped cream: sugar-free (0g), dairy-free recipe

Vegan whipped cream: sugar-free (0g), dairy-free recipe

My first attempt failure I’ve seen vegan whipped cream all over Pinterest and the healthy food blogosphere for ages now – it’s not particularly ground-breaking. But all of the recipes I found have sugar or sugar-containing ingredients. No thank you, said me. As per standard […]