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First, quick note. I will be speaking at my office in Brookhaven this Thursday at 7:00pm on how to lower levels of inflammation. It’s a free class but please be sure to email Carol to sign up. Hope to see you there!

So this past Sunday Alice and I decided to have a lemon cake/muffin bake off! The challenge: who can make the tastiest treat and take the prettiest photographs. Alice has been watching a lot of Master Chef Jr., so she was ready to take me down. I on the other hand wanted to make paleo lemon muffins without nuts or coconut to see if it could be done and still taste good. I see a number of clients with intolerances to nuts/coconuts, and it is hard to bake paleo treats without those substitute flours. 

I also wanted to make a treat that was low in oxalates, so I used pumpkin seeds (which I made into flour), since almond flour has very high oxalate content. You may be wondering what is she talking about…Oxalates?  It sounds like a made up word that couldn’t possible effect you, right? I’d heard about oxalates for years but never personally paid much attention until, recently, I went to my doctor with lower back pain. After some testing testing, it turns out I have oxalate crystals in my urine. So what does that mean? The first thought was kidney stones. But then I learned that oxalate crystals can cause so many more issues. I was fascinated and excited and bummed all at the same time, since I had been pretty tired and a little achy the past couple of months and couldn’t figure out why. It turns out, I think my body just reached my maximum oxalate load. 

If you also tend to eat a lot of these foods, your levels can be elevated. 

  • spinach
  • cacao
  • chocolate
  • almonds
  • chia seeds
  • sweet potatoes

Pretty depressing list, right? Go to the yahoo low oxalate group to get the most up to date list.

High oxalate crystals in your system can cause many symptoms. Fortunately, I was just having symptoms of the first two listed below:

  • painful or inflamed joints, similar to fibromyalgia or arthritis 
  • fatigue 
  • burning urine flow
  • interstitial cystitis
  • vulvodynia 
  • depression
  • leaky gut or all sorts of other gut problems
  • kidney stones i.e. oxalates combine with calcium to form these
  • developmental disorders in children, including autism
  • hives 

If this sounds like you, get a oxalate crystals urine test or an OATS (organic acids test) test or begin to slowly follow a low oxalate diet to see if you notice any improvements. There are also some deficiencies that people with high oxalate levels so it is good to test if you can. 

OK, Back to the treats. Here were the outcomes. I honestly LOVED my muffins. And I think the pumpkin seed flour turned out really well. But with that said, Alice’s lemon cake won hands down.  They were amazing! I think the texture of mine was a little dense (be sure to grind your pumpkin seeds better than I did!), but I loved both!

This is what I used to make my pumpkin seed flour. Just add to your food processor and blend until it’s a fine ground flour. 

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 Do I get extra points for her mess??_DSC4457

I love her hand in this picture. We might need to start with two hands on the camera to help with focus. Gotta start somewhere though! She is definitely creative.

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Okay, including her feet (accidentally of course) in this picture totally makes me giggle….And she needs to do her nails! Those poor toes!!

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She may have had a little help with this picture of her cake…looks good, doesn’t it? She did an amazing job!

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And here are my muffins. Pretty but apparently not as tasty as the cake above but don’t let that stop you from making my muffins. I swear they were so good! I’m making them again this weekend! 

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I hope y’all like these. If you make both, you’ll have to let us know what you preferred!

Here are the two recipes…

Alice’s recipe

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix wet ingredients together in one bowl. Mix dry ingredients in another. Combine the wet with dry. Grease a 5×9 bread dish. Pour in batter and cook for 40-45 minutes or you stick a butter knife in the bread and it comes out clean.

My recipe

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix wet ingredients together in a bowl. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Combine the wet with dry. Grease muffin tins or use cup holders. Pour in batter to fill cups about 2/3 of the way full and cook for 20-22 minutes or until done. 

ICING optional for both (I preferred without but Alice LOVED the icing and preferred it)

1/3 cup coconut butter (we used Coconut Manna), melted

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and pour on the cake or muffins once they have cooled for at least 20 minutes. Enjoy!

 

I wasn’t sure I was going to get the chance to post this soup before Spring time, especially with the temperatures reaching 85 last week. But, with temperatures going down in the 30’s this week, it’s actually a great time for my final soup post of the Winter. And it’s a good one, I promise! In fact, we loved it so much, Alice, my 11 year old daughter, said it was her new favorite, and I have to agree with her. My husband and father-in-law loved it, too! Tate, my 8 year old son, said it “wasn’t his favorite” but I hope (for his sake!) he will learn to love it because it is a new staple of ours.
 
I first had this Zucchini Cilantro Soup a few weeks back at a luncheon (thanks for the recipe, Jennifer!) and it blew me away. I couldn’t wait to try to recreate a dairy-free version. I’ve never cooked with a poblano pepper before. It added such a nice (and surprisingly mild) flavor!! With the pepper, fresh garlic and lots of cilantro, this flavorful soup hooked me. Anyway, take advantage of the cool weather this week and try it while you can. It was super easy to make! I hope you guys love it!
 
_DSC3789cr_DSC3796cI love to make my soups (like the bacon cauliflower or butternut squash) heartier by adding protein. It’s way more satisfying! 
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Stay warm and enjoy the beautiful weather!
Cilantro Zuchinni Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 4-5 tbsp butter or ghee (I love it with ghee)
  2. 1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  3. 1 large poblano—cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  4. 5 medium zucchini (2 1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch rounds
  5. 2 large garlic cloves
  6. 1 tbsp sea salt
  7. 1 tsp ground pepper
  8. 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  9. 1 cup fresh cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  10. 1/3 cup of the fat from the full fat coconut milk
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, add 4-5 tbsp of butter or ghee and saute the leeks, poblano and garlic.
  2. Allow it to cook until it softens (about 6-8 minutes).
  3. Then add the zucchini and cook until it starts to soften (about 5 minutes).
  4. Pour the chicken broth into the pot with everything above and bring it to a boil.
  5. Then turn the heat down to low medium cook until the zucchini is no longer bright green.
  6. Add the cilantro and the fat from the full fat coconut milk and blend with an immersion blender until you reach the consistency desired.
  7. Enjoy immediately!
Adapted from Food and Wine
Adapted from Food and Wine
Stir It Up! http://stiritup.me/

  • amanda fraraccio - This sounds yummy, where does the polenta come in? are you serving it over polenta?ReplyCancel

  • tricia - This is DELICIOUS. Perfect for a Whole30. Everyone loved it – husbands, kids, the baby, people not on Whole30, everyone! We’ve passed the recipe on to several people already.ReplyCancel

    • landriav - Thanks so much Tricia! Nice to hear. It is SO good, isn’t it? :)ReplyCancel

Every week for years now we have made a whole chicken in the crock pot, and we have loved it. But, I think it’s safe to say that this particular weekly staple has just ended. My friend Eileen told me about her “very favorite chicken” recipe over a year ago, and I just happened to find it.  I think it took me so long to make it because, well, while it’s pretty, it is also just chicken and it didn’t seem super exciting to be honest (sorry Eileen!). But the taste absolutely blew us away!! While the picture is pretty (except for my sad dish…please don’t judge!) it just cannot come close to reflecting the taste! What makes this so amazing is two things. First, the onions. Next time, I will use at least two onions if i can fit them in the dish. I had no idea roasted onions had so much flavor!! Second, and this is the most important (so why I didn’t start this with one? I don’t know) but the natural sauce is everything with this dish. You HAVE to use the sauce surrounding the chicken for dipping. It’s so good!

Thanks for the great recipe Eileen, and congrats to you and your team on your race this weekend!!

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It was totally his fault. He started nibbling, and then I did, and then Alice did….
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And then after the three of us attacked it (before dinner!), this is what was left. It was so good we just couldn’t wait. Poor Tate. You snooze you loose around here…

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Buttery Crispy Roasted Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken
  2. 4 tbsp ghee, melted
  3. 2 tbsp fresh or dried thyme
  4. 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  6. 1-2 large red onions, cut into slices (1 inch or so)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place chicken in roasted pan or dish.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel or cloth.
  4. Melt ghee and rub in between skin and chicken. Then rub the remaining ghee all over the skin.
  5. Sprinkle the thyme, salt and pepper.
  6. Place onions in pan on sides and try to make sure they aren't overlapping.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes and then turn pan 180 degrees and cook for another 25 minutes or until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
Notes
  1. Be sure the chicken breast internal temperature reached 160 degrees. Let it cool for about 15 or so minutes.
Adapted from Deliciously Organic
Stir It Up! http://stiritup.me/

Between serving warm melted dark chocolate on strawberries yesterday for my son’s birthday classroom treat and today serving magic shell (more melted dark chocolate!) on top of ice cream for Tate’s Valentine’s Day classroom party, it has been quite a challenge to abstain from dark chocolate and my muffins as part of the Whole 30 I started on Monday. I want my chocolate, and I want it now!!  So…what could make this even more of a challenge?? Cookie cake! My favorite dessert and BIGGEST weakness!! But it’s also my family’s favorite treat and since it’s Valentine’s Day (weekend), and it’s going to be really cold, I wanted my kids to have a feel good treat they could enjoy…ugh self sacrifice!! I hope the family really appreciates this one!

Why oh why am I torturing myself?! 

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Fortunately we had the help of some good friends to get through this thing the day I made it…

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I asked Alice what she was doing with the binoculars and she said she was “looking for more cookie cake!”.

_DSC3389It really is so addictive! 
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This is a recipe from my book Super Paleo Snacks and it’s called Birthday Cookie Cake, hence the prettier picture below. I used a round dish for the original recipe but think it fits better in a 9×13 glass dish. We cooked it for 40 minutes yesterday and it was perfect!! 

Happy Valentine’s!

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Happy Birthday Cookie Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cashew butter or almond butter (so one 16 oz jar plus 1/2 cup from another)
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup butter
  4. 1 cup maple syrup
  5. 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  6. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  9. 1 cup dark chocolate chips (to be mixed in with batter)
  10. 1 cup dark chocolate to melt and spread over the top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond or cashew butter (or sunbutter if nut allergy), eggs, maple syrup, butter, arrowroot, vanilla, melted butter, baking soda and salt with a hand mixer or fork.
  3. Then fold in 1 cup chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into greased pan and bake for 35-50 minutes. We love it at 40 minutes.
  5. If you want, melt a cup of chocolate chips and spread over the cookie cake once it is cooked.
Notes
  1. For the nut butter, you will need about 1 regular sized jar plus about 1/2 cup depending on what size jar you get.
Stir It Up! http://stiritup.me/

  • Jordan - I mean, you have GOT to be kidding me with this cookie cake! I served it to Campbell for her birthday Tuesday evening, but had to keep myself from eating the ENTIRE thing- it’s so moist and cookie-ish, and flavorful! Then served it to our small group and they all LOVED it. It truly is a make-again, and again, and again, and again… and that’s just THIS week! ( :
    Thanks for all your hard work!!!ReplyCancel

    • landriav - Ha, you are so cute Jordan!! Your comment really made me smile. So glad you liked the cake! It is addictive, isn’t it? Try it with cashew butter one time if you haven’t already. Let me know when you walk to walk, neighbor! :)ReplyCancel

I don’t know if you guys have tried Num Num BBQ sauce (I got mine from Whole Foods) but my friend Daphne introduced me to it when she brought it over for our dinner the other night, and I was blown away. Now granted, I haven’t had a lot of BBQ sauce over the past 7 or so years because it is hard to find one that doesn’t have a lot of sugar or other gross ingredients. I know, picky, picky, but even with those complaints I still wasn’t willing to make my own. Anyway after trying this Country Boy’s Mustard Num Num sauce with our dinner, and while Daphne was giving my husband a lacrosse lesson in the kitchen, I blurted out “I’ve got a new dish I’m going to make with this sauce!!” Clearly I wasn’t as focused as much on lacrosse as everyone else was…

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Sometimes I will wait to post a recipe just to make sure we love it as is and won’t need any tweaks. Well, it has only bee a few weeks and already we have made this recipe 4 times. It’s now a new staple in our household and there is little that gets me more excited than finding a new staple meal. We love it so much my daughter has been taking it to school to have as a part of her lunch for the past few weeks. Oh and she came up with the name, too, if you couldn’t tell.

You’ll see the recipes calls for avocado oil or butter as the cooking fat. We did try it with avocado once and with butter another time, and, honestly, it tasted pretty much the same so feel free to use whatever you have around! I hope you love this meal as much as we do!

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BBQ Chicken Slaw Delight
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 1 cabbage chopped or 1 pack pre-cut cabbage
  3. 3-4 tbsp avocado oil or pure butter
  4. 2 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  6. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  7. Add on after all cooked
  8. 1/2 cup Num Num Mustard BBQ Sauce
  9. 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  10. 4 scallions, centers chopped
  11. cook with avocado oil or butter until brown and mostly cooked.
  12. add salt garlic powder smoked paprika (optional), scallions.
  13. once done, add cabbage back to pan and stir in bbq sauce and cilantro.
Instructions
  1. In a large pan, add 2 tbsp avocado oil or butter and saute cabbage until it starts to soften and turn brown.
  2. Then set cabbage aside.
  3. In the same pan, turn to medium high heat and add another 2 tbsp of avocado oil or butter and cook chicken until it's brown all over.
  4. Once it's brown, turn the heat down to medium and allow the chicken to cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it's no longer pink in the middle.
  5. Stir in the salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika to the chicken while it's finishing cooking.
  6. Once the chicken is done, turn the stove off, add the cabbage back to the pan, along with your BBQ sauce and stir it all together.
  7. Then garnish with scallions and cilantro and enjoy!
Notes
  1. You could use a rotisserie chicken too if you're trying to save time. Then just skip the cooking part of the chicken and once the cabbage is sauteed, you would then just add the shredded chicken along with all of the rest of the ingredients.
  2. EDITED 2/16 - I actually like it best with a whole or rotisserie chicken. The juices from the cooked chicken breast can dilute the flavor some. For a quick easy and even tastier meal, try the rotisserie!!
Stir It Up! http://stiritup.me/

  • Melissa - I totally agree about this sauce! I discovered it, as well as the regular BBQ flavor, during a tasting that they were having at Whole Foods about a year or so ago. It is delicious and pretty healthy on the ingredient scale – looking forward to trying your recipe. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - Can’t wait to try it. My DIL is a vegetarian think this would also work with mushrooms?

    DO you know if Sprouts has this BBQ sauce?

    Thanks!!ReplyCancel

    • landriav - I do not know re Sprouts, sorry Robyn. I think it would be great with any variety of mild tasting veggies though like shredded brussel sprouts, broccoli slaw, etc. Hope you can find it!ReplyCancel