This recipe will change your life. Period.


It looks like pudding. It tastes better than pudding. It’s like a thick, creamy custard of amazingness.


My sister and brother-in-law made this recipe up while working through the 21-day sugar detox with me. My sister made up the original recipe, which was more of a smoothie quality. Her husband Joe decided he wanted something a bit more like a pudding consistency, so he messed around with the ingredients a bit and came up with what’s posted below. When I visited last weekend, Joe whipped it up for us. Twice. In 2 days. We ate all of it. Twice. Over 2 days.

As Joe warned me: Once you make this, you will have an extremely difficult time not making it multiple times a week. This is not (much of) a problem if you adhere to a strict paleo diet and/or are living on a diet like mine, which excludes refined sugars and a whole bunch of other things. It’s full of good fats (coconut milk and nut butter) and if you’re like me, it’s an excellent way to 1.) get in some good calories before a workout 2.) eat a dessert when you’re craving something sweet and 3.) makes an awesome breakfast or snack. It’s so good that I plan on making it this weekend to bring as a dessert for a super bowl party.


The recipe is super simple. Just combine everything from the ingredients list below and blend blend blend. Joe and my sister have a (dreamy) Vitamix, but I don’t, so I plan on trying to make it work in my food processor. It might not get as creamy as it would in a Vitamix, but I think I can come close.  The goal is to blend it enough that it’s thick when you take it out of the blender, almost like a super thick smoothie. Then, you have to put it in the fridge for a few hours until it settles into a perfect cool custardy treat. Joe served it up in regular glasses (pictured) but I’m going to try to make it in small ramekins. It’s a bit rich (at least, it seems rich to me, but my sweet tooth isn’t so strong anymore). I couldn’t eat an entire glass-full in one sitting: it’s one of those treats you can keep in the fridge and keep taking bites of all day.

You can mess around with the ingredients depending on whether or not you like more cinnamon flavoring or maybe want to try almond or peanut butter. I think the cashew butter gives it a really great consistency without overwhelming all the other flavors: there’s a hint of cashew, but not too much.



Change Your Life Paleo Custard

1 can coconut milk
1 cup nut butter (cashew)
2-3 bananas
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 full tbsp cocoa

1. Blend all ingredients until thickened and smooth. 2. Pour into glasses or ramekins and leave in refrigerator for a few hours until thickened. 3. Devour.

winter eating & a recipe

Happy New Year!

It’s been over 4 months since i wrote here last. Time flies! I got lost in my dissertation proposal and didn’t come up for air until it went to committee Saturday, December 21st. I’m about to dive back into months of solid non-stop dissertation writing so I can graduate in 2014 (woohoo!), so I’m starting the new year with a “restore” diet for a few weeks to jump start the semester and rid myself of the massive amounts of sugar and booze I consumed over the holidays. I’m calling it a “restore” way of eating or diet rather than a detox because 1. detox diets are often very short and I intend to eat this way more generally for longer than 21 days 2. this diet is less about “detoxing” and more about feeding my body gentle, nurturing foods that restore energy and balance. Last year, I wrote a lot about sugar-free eating. Over the last 6 months, my functional wellness doctor and acupuncturist (my go-to women for both eastern and western health perspectives on my health) are strongly urging me to get rid of the sugar in order to help deal with my most persistent issues: stomach aches (post too much sugar), consistent skin issues (mainly acne like i’m 13 when i’m 34) and headaches, both caused by hormones, which sugar loves to mess with. I’ve resisted this complete elimination for 6 months because given how limited my diet already is, giving up sugar, even natural sugars, is not appealing.

I’m excited about dropping most sugar because the goal is not to loose weight or try to determine what might be a cause of chronic digestive pain (like in the past). The goal this time is to lessen my sweet tooth and sweet cravings by limiting all sugars: refined, natural, carbs, etc. and to see if it helps with headaches and my chronic skin issues.

Lucky me, I’ve enlisted my sister, brother-in-law, and some lovely friends to join me on the 21-day adventure. We are using Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox book because it has a lot of science-based info on sugar’s impact on the body, lots of recipes, and 3 different levels you can work from so you can figure out how hardcore you want to be based on your current diet. (I’m a level 3 because I’m already so restricted in my diet.)

Today we are literally getting dumped on by snow, which I spent some time shoveling. It was like shoveling endless mounds of confectioner sugar. All I could think about was sugar and how I was getting in a solid workout pushing so much of it off our super long driveway. (And regretting that we didn’t hire someone to plow this year.) Lucky us, I had roasted a chicken, so we came inside to yummy smells. I loved this dinner because it combined some of my favorite things: fennel, avocado, lime, mustard and horseradish. Looking forward to the left-overs after more shoveling tomorrow.

I adapted ideas from the book to create this dinner. I created a mustard glaze (p. 114) to use on the whole chicken (although this glaze could be used on any poultry pieces) but added in horseradish and used olive oil instead of coconut oil. The citrus salad ideas came from the grapefruit salad (p. 166) although the only similarities are the grapefruit, avocado pieces and lime juice. This recipe makes plenty for two people plus left-overs.


Roasted Chicken with Avocado Citrus Salad
 1. In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients together. (See ingredients list below.) Brush all of the glaze over the chicken breasts, wings, and legs. This glaze can be used one a whole chicken or breast or thigh pieces. If you have any spare veggies laying around, through them in the bottom of the roasting pan around the chicken. I used a few carrots that came out with a yummy mustardy flavor. Roast chicken until skin darkens and meat is cooked through. 

2. While chicken is roasting, prep salad. Chop parsley and scallions and place in a small bowl. Add chopped fennel, avocado wedges, and small pieces of grapefruit. Toss everything with lime juice, olive or avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place everything on top of fresh salad greens.

3. When chicken is done, carve and be sure to pour juices at the bottom of the pan on top of chicken pieces. Mix with salad and devour.

2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls spoons mustard (i used horseradish mustard)
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste

small handful of parsley
3 scallions (more or less if you like salads onion-y)
1 fennel bulb
1/2 avocado
1/2 grapefruit
juice from 1/2 lime (or full lime if you like a lot of citrus)
1 tbls of olive or avocado oil
salt and pepper to taste
mixed salad greens




i’ll grill anything

*i’m sure a million people have done this before, but i had never heard of grilling kale.
*so, this week i decided that if i could grill it, it was going to be grilled.


*i’m kinda addicted to grilling veggies with olive or avocado oil right now.
*the last 2 weeks top choices: kale. mushrooms with fennel and lemon.
*i need to do more research: the idea of grilling on aluminum foil fills me with i’m-letting-more-aluminum-into-my-body dread.
*i’m very open to suggestions on this. grill baskets: thumbs down. you loose the oil. everything dries out.


*kale grilled: amazing. tastes like kale chips, only instead of the oven, you get to grill all of it.


*yet another way to get addicted to veggies.



day #14: smoked salmon salad

*been getting really bored with this elimination diet and it’s only day #14. i’ve been trying to find some new recipes to spruce up my otherwise boring days of roasted veggies, chicken, crispy rice with coconut milk, and fruit.


*i was trying to find a smoked salmon i could eat, but i haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain sugar. finally landed on one at Trader Joe’s that didn’t have any. score!

*today’s lunch recipe is rockin’–ingredients list below.


Smoked Salmon Salad
*smoked salmon pieces, torn/cut
*half a fennel bulb, chopped
*half a cucumber, chopped
*half a granny apple, chopped
*1 tbls fresh dill, chopped
*half an avocado or use 2 tbls of avocado oil
*1/3 lemon, squeezed on top
*salt and pepper

combine all of the above ingredients and toss with a couple of handfuls of salad greens and spinach



gluten-ated: how to survive contamination

a lot of people have asked me what it feels like when i get gluten-ated (contaminated with gluten). here it is in a nut shell: 2-3 days of extremely painful stomach aches, followed by a minimum of 1-2 days with extremely sharp stabbing intestinal pain. so, when people ask me if i ever “cheat” and eat gluten, i always look at them like they are 1. slightly crazy or 2. misinformed. given how trendy it is to be “gluten-free,” i’ve been confronted multiple times in the last few months with skeptical comments about why i am gluten-free from people who haven’t known me more than a year or two. C’s response when this happens is to look at them and say “you have no idea what it was like before the diagnosis. no idea.” (thank you C for sticking with me all these years.)

today is tuesday and i’m trying to determine what i ate in the last 5 days that trigged 4 days of brutal stomach aches and 1 very long day of intense intestinal pain. after 5 years of this, i know it’s gluten because everything else that i struggle with (diary, soy, beans, etc) usually just ends with a stomach ache and throwing up (to put it bluntly), not days and days laying in bed with a heating pad pressed into my torso, waiting for it to end.

the second question i get a lot is: how do i deal with it when it happens?
in order:
1. spend 2 days going over everything that’s gone into my body, trying to isolate the source
2. lay in bed with a heat pad on high
3. drink lots of detox tea
4. eat very little (eating some times makes it worse for me.)
5. up my probiotic intake and chinese herbals
6. get acupuncture
7. repeat 2-3 over and over and over and over


i’ve been meaning to write some posts on acupuncture and chinese herbals for a while now because i was never a believer until i started using both in my life every week. i’m astonished how much i depend on them now. my intestinal pain was so intense yesterday, i was having a hard time functioning. i had acupuncture at 8 last night and this morning: no more pain. the skeptics would just argue that it finally ran it’s course, but i’m not so sure…


one of the things that’s an absolute when i’m gluten-ated is eating right. i pretty much have to go into lock-down mode to keep things from getting worse, which is hard because i often feel both hungry and sick at the same time. sticking to warm, soft, easy to digest food is a must. avoiding coffee and alcohol for a few days after it’s over is also a must. nothing that causes inflammation.


this time around i stuck with a kale, fennel, quinoa dish and pumpkin muffins like these ones, made with honey, almond milk and almond flour (minus the walnuts). they are soft and taste like pumpkin pie but aren’t too sweet. (kale, fennel and honey are great aids for digestive tracks, as well as anti-inflammatory. pumpkin is easy to digest.) the trick is to eat warm, digestible foods without eating things that cause bloating (beans and too many veggies all at once) but also get enough protein to keep yourself going (hence, the quinoa).


i’m happy to say that i’m on day 6 and on the mend.
i’ll admit that every time this happens, i cease wanting to ever eat out again or even eat at people’s houses out of fear. that part is hard. but i know it could be much worse. many people with gluten allergies have to be hospitalized when they are gluten-ated. i’m one of the lucky ones who can push through it with a few bad days and a lot of detox tea.
also, it helps to talk to someone with the same issues. my younger sister has the same digestive drama i do, so when i’m suffering and annoyed and grumpy about it, i call her and she reminds me that it won’t last forever.

i’m curious what everyone else does when they are gluten-ated. feel free to share your own ideas!

throw it all in


*i’ve been making stews on sunday to eat during my busy week

*yesterday, i decided to just throw whatever i found into the pot and see what happened

*i think it turned out pretty tasty

*recipe below: feel free to adjust to whatever you have in your kitchen. i usually use quinoa but decided to use a black rice i bought that comes from canada–nutty and high and protein.


throw it all in stew

1 tbl olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
*heat olive oil and add onion and fennel. stir till onion softens

1 tbls curry powder
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 small can tomato paste
*add spices and paste to onion and fennel. mix and stir for 1 minute

1 pint stewed tomatoes (i use my mom’s canned tomatoes, but any will do)
14 ounces broth (chicken or veggie)
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
1 cup black or brown rice (i cook the rice before i make the stew, only because the black rice i use takes a while to cook.)
*combine rest, stir and simmer until potatoes soften. season with salt and pepper to taste.





paleo fried chicken


*one aspect of my amazing job is that i have the privilege of working with amazing middle and high school kids from the inner city. we are currently in the process of making a documentary film about meat: where it comes from, how it impacts our health, who gets to access grass-fed meat and who only has access to conventionally-raised factory-farmed meat, and what the health benefits are  to eating one over the other. we spent a lot of time talking about what we eat, why we eat it, where it comes from. i’ve learned so much about my girls–what they love to eat, their community connections to food, why they love the food they do, why the are frustrated with what they are given in their school cafeteria (and how it’s not real food).

*they get really excited when i tell them i’m going to bring in food for them to try that they’ve never had before. over the last 4 weeks, i’ve brought in: 7 different types of oranges (i was giddy so many of them loved my favorite blood oranges); alternative milks (they loved coconut, almond and rice milks–hated soy and hemp milk); nut butters (loved peanut and almond butter–hated sun butter–cashew butter was kinda iffy); 4 different kinds of pears (they loved asian pears–one of my favs).

*when we talk about foods they love to eat, they always talk about fried chicken. these ladies love fried chicken. if i could eat their moms’ cooking, i swear i would be in for a treat because each girl swears her mom makes the best fried chicken in the city.

*i’ve had fried chicken maybe 1-2 times in my life. i had KFC once when i was in middle school. i don’t recall a single time my mother made fried chicken. my dad likes to grill chicken, but it was never breaded. i feel like i really missed out on something here.

*when i found this recipe, i was really excited: here’s my chance to try fried chicken!  i can’t wait to tell my girls about this recipe this week. i’m actually hoping i find a way to make it for them. they all know about my digestive issues and ask me a lot of questions about what i can and can’t eat and why. when we watched Soul Food Junkies last week, they were super excited when i made them air popped popcorn with olive oil. they could not get over how much they liked it more than microwave buttery popcorn. given my food journey and my commitment to food justice (more on that some time), this was an awesome moment for me: talking with teenagers about butter verses olive oil and what’s healthier and why was a highlight of my week. (one of the main reasons i love my job!)


*what i loved about this recipe is that even though the chicken is fried in coconut oil, there was nothing coconutty about the flavor: with all the spices (i went heavy on those) and the almond flour, i didn’t even taste any coconut, which kinda gave me some perspective–because some times i think that cooking with so much coconut oil will mean only tasting coconut in everything i make, which isn’t really what i’m aiming for. (had a summer when i cooked everything, including eggs, with coconut oil. couldn’t take it anymore.)

*i think i might be sold on fried chicken. paleo style.



refined sugar free chocolate: take one!


in my quest to find ways to eat brownies without succumbing to the sugar trap, i’ve decided to try making my own chocolate. here’s why:

1. a LOT of brownie recipes call for chocolate bars. most good chocolate bars contain refined sugar. i think it’s possible to make really good chocolate without refined sugar.

2. it’s really really hard to chocolate bars that are gluten, dairy and soy free. soy lecithin is a sneaky little ingredient that acts as an emulsifier in chocolate–essentially holding everything together to make it a solid. (i’ve mentioned this in other posts.) since soy is cheap in the U.S., it’s an easy to access cheap ingredient for companies to use. although soy lecithin is a derivative of soy bean oil, people with soy allergies often have sensitivity to it. technically, i do not have a soy protein allergy, but i’ve found that i’m extremely sensitive to soy and eating too much soy lecithin makes my body very grumpy.

3. making my own chocolate means i get to eat more chocolate more often and this makes me happy.

i started with this recipe. very fast, super easy. tastes amazing: like a dark chocolate peanut butter cup. just blend everything in the food processor and it’s a perfect fudgey chocolate dough.


make small little cups in a muffin tin and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.


now the only issue will be trying not to eat all of them before i try to use them in brownies…


eating oranges

one of my favorite parts of january is that my all-time favorite fruit, blood oranges, are in season! i’m eating at least 2 a day. i love that every one is a little surprise–peeling it back and finding deep purples and maroons and reds. some times they are bright orange with flecks of bright purply-pink. last night i peeled one open and the entire orange was a deep burgundy, like the color of wine.


i love eating blood orange pieces in salads. the combination of greens, especially arugula, with herbs and olive oil and a wee bit of goat cheese makes me feel like it’s not january and not 30 degrees out.


here are a few blood orange recipes i’m going to try this week:
*smitten kitchen’s mixed citrus salad with feta and mint. (i got the smitten kitchen cookbook for christmas–more on that soon.)

*the jewels of new york’s blood orange salad (perfect combination of my favorite foods: fennel, arugula, nuts and mustard).

*martha’s take with kale, hazelnut and balsamic or her blood orange marinated pork chops.

also, my mom stuck this little orange peeler in my stocking and it’s so perfect for peeling oranges. no more picking random bits of rind out from under my fingernails for hours after. best stocking stuffer this year. my mom is a clever lady.


pumpkin smoothie and back-at-it

it occurred to me this weekend that i haven’t posted on this blog in over 2 months. i miss it here. i miss talking about food and how people live day-by-day having to think about everything related to what goes in their bodies.

last night, while talking with a friend, i realized that i never finished talking about my digestive journey and all the tests i went through to figure out what was making me so sick for so long. i think i’d like to do that writing, now that i feel peaceful about what i can eat, what i can’t, how difficult it is to travel with food intolerances, etc. (i promise to give fair warning for posts on my experiences with colonoscopies.)

in other news, i’m already thinking about the holidays and planning thanksgiving, which reminded me of this smoothie i made this summer. i have a history of eating things directly from cans, especially pumpkin. i used to do this when i was either busy or feeling beyond lazy, but the other day i opened a can of tomato paste simply because i was craving tomatoes and eating multiple spoon-fulls of tomato paste in the absence of any actual tomatoes and/or jars of sauce seemed like the right thing to do.

back in august, when i was constantly making paleo nuggets, i had random cans of pumpkin half-eaten in the fridge, beckoning me, so i did what every canned pumpkin-loving girl would do and dumped the pumpkin into a smoothie. and discovered that pumpkin smoothies taste like thanksgiving in august.

it’s not really warm enough to keep drinking smoothies, but i think i might need to try making this again while it’s pouring rain this week and all the trick-o-treaters are out.

recipe: combine in blender
*1 frozen banana
*2 spoonfuls of almond butter
*1 cup of canned pumpkin
*1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
*almond milk to the consistency you like (less for a thicker smoothie)

(would also taste yummy with coconut milk and maybe topped with cinnamon.)