Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kale chips alfredo

Misha and Nika explore in the minimalist snow
Watching a wildlife television program on polar huskies made me realize why my snow pups, Misha and Nika, need constant exercise. The polar huskies were being trained for an Arctic expedition in which they would need to run eight hours a day and consume 6,000 calories with a 60 percent fat content.

My pooches are wearing me out giving them two hours of exercise a day. Of course, they are still ready to go again while I'm ready for a break. At least, it keeps the holiday calories at bay.

Kale chips alfredo
Even with all that exercise, I still have to watch how much I eat. Yes, it is possible to overconsume, even during Phase 1 of the anti-candida diet. That's why I'll be nibbling on kale chips alfredo for my New Year's Eve snacking. They are suitable for ACD-Phase 1.

Here's what you need:

For the Hemp Alfredo Sauce: (makes extra to use as sauce for veggies)
1 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup hemp milk (unsweetened)
2 T. lemon juice
dash of stevia
1-2 tsp. miso paste
salt/pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

For the Kale Chips
Leaves from one bunch of kale
3-4 T. hemp alfredo sauce

Here's what to do:

Make a batch of the hemp alfredo sauce by blending the ingredients until smooth and creamy in a food processor. Next, remove the leaves from the kale stems. Place the leaves in a bowl and drizzle with alfredo sauce. Toss with your hands. Spread the kale on a large baking sheet. Place on the top shelf of your oven. Bake at 350 degrees but keep your eye on them. Remove when crispy, about 15-20 minutes.

It's not easy, but still possible, to tire a sled dog out.

Here are some other kale chip ideas to keep you snacking healthily during 2013.

For the chocolate lover (suitable for Phase 3; substitute carob for Phase 1-2)

For the everything veggie lover (suitable for Phase 1)

For the chocolate and raspberry lover (suitable for ACD-maintenance)

Enjoy other recipes from:

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dessert for your ACD Christmas

Merry Christmas from Bailey, the cat in the kitchen
You don't have to skip dessert at your Christmas celebration just because you are following an anti-candida diet (ACD). Try making a single-serve squash pie that's suitable for ACD-phase 1 and vegan. And don't forget the vanilla ice cream! You can have this for breakfast too!

Single-Serve Squash pie

Here's what you need for one large serving (or two smaller servings):

For the squash pie
1/2 cup squash puree (I used delicata but you also can use pumpkin)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (Or almond or hemp milk)
1 T. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 T. sunbutter or tahini (or other seed or nut butter)
1 T. ground flax seeds
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. SunWarrior protein powder (or other rice protein powder of choice)
1 T. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon
stevia to taste

For the vanilla soft-serve ice cream:
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 scoops SunWarrior vanilla protein powder
stevia to taste
Optional: 1 T. vegetable glycerine
1/8-1/4 cup additional coconut milk

Here's what to do:

Do the prep for the "ice cream." Blend the ingredients in your food processor. Pour the milk mixture into ice cube trays or silicon mini-cupcake pans. Place in the freezer to harden into milk cubes.

For the squash pie, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a five-inch ramekin with pan spray or two smaller ramekins. Mix all the ingredients in your food processor. Pour the dough into the ramekin(s). Place the ramekin(s) on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake 30-35 minutes until the pie gets golden on top and pulls away slightly from the sides of the ramekin(s). Allow to cool before serving. Pie may be removed from the ramekin(s) if you are careful.

Vanilla soft-serve ice cream (ACD-Phase 1 friendly)

Finish up the ice cream while the pie cools. Put all the milk cubes in your clean food processor. Add stevia to taste, optional glycerine and just enough coconut milk to blend your ice cream. Mixture will be like soft-serve ice cream. If you want it more scoopable, put the ice cream in the freezer to harden slightly before serving.

This soft-serve ice cream makes a great topping for your Christmas-day pancakes too!

Get the recipe for the pancakes here:

Get more ACD-phase 1 Christmas recipes here:

Here's wishing you a great holiday and hoping you will find something as special as Nika under your tree!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Coconut pumpkin biscuits for ACD Christmas dinner

Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas from Misha, the husky
How about an ACD-phase 1, vegan biscuit to complement your Christmas dinner or even enjoy for breakfast?

Coconut Pumpkin Biscuits with Cilantro or Green Onions
(makes six or seven)
suitable for ACD-Phase 1

Here's what you need:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
1-2 T. chopped fresh cilantro or chopped green onions
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup hemp milk
3 T. tahini or other seed or nut butter
2 T. flax
2 T. chia seed
2 T. melted coconut oil
dash of salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
optional: 1/2 tsp. cumin
Coconut pumpkin biscuits with cilantro or green onions

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with pan spray.
Put all the ingredients into your food processor and pulse to blend into a sticky dough. Scoop out 1/3 cup of dough per biscuit. Flatten and shape the biscuits as you place them on the baking sheet about two-three inches apart. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned. Note: These can be made ahead and stored in the freezer.

Check out what else is planned for Christmas dinner (ACD-style) here:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Anti-candida Christmas dinner plan

Merry Christmas from Nika, the malamute

There are only six more days until Christmas. Yikes! I'd better get busy planning my anti-candida holiday recipes to keep me on the straight and narrow when Christmas rolls around.

Candida is my Ghost of Christmas past. It keeps revisiting me every time I stray from the anti-candida diet. My enduring candida infection may be tied to my chronic muscle pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms. You guessed it. With that history, I already have recipes ready to go.

Here's my menu plan (subject to change, of course, if the mood strikes me), and all are suitable for ACD Phase 1:

  • Cauliflower-pumpkin mash with cranberry-pumpkin seed pesto (Note: this can be a main entree or side dish if serving a meat protein)
  • Asparagus bundles wrapped with grilled red pepper strips
  • Pumpkin coconut biscuits
  • Squash pie with vanilla soft-serve ice cream
  • Grilled veggies, such as cauliflower, asparagus, red peppers, broccoli
  • Tossed salad with baby greens and veggies
Cauliflower-Pumpkin Mash with Cranberry-Pumpkin Pesto and Asparagus Bundles

Cauliflower-Pumpkin Mash with Cranberry-Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Asparagus Bundles (wrapped with grilled red pepper strips)

Here's what you need for one serving with some for leftovers:

For the mash:
Steamed cauliflower florets from one third of a medium head of cauliflower
1 cup of pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
1 T. tahini (or other nut or seed butter)
1/4 cup+ hemp milk (or other dairy-free beverage)
salt and pepper

For the cranberry-pumpkin seed pesto:
1 cup of frozen whole cranberries
1/2 cup water
stevia to taste
leaves from two stalks of kale
2 T. toasted pumpkin seeds
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper
Optional: extra pumpkin seeds for sprinkling on top

For the asparagus bundles:
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed
grilled red pepper strips

Here's what you do:

For the mash:
Steam the cauliflower florets for about 4-5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before putting them in your food processor. Add the other ingredients and pulse until thick and creamy. Remove the mash from the food processor and set it aside.

For the cranberry-pumpkin seed pesto:
Prepare the cranberries. Place them in a medium saucepan with the water and stevia. Heat to boiling and allow the cranberries to pop. Continue simmering until a cranberry sauce is formed. Set aside to cool.

Once the cranberries are cool, toss them in your food processor, along with the kale leaves and pumpkin seeds. Add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and pulse to form your pesto. Remove and set aside.

For the asparagus bundles:
Grill red pepper strips in a grill pan or oven. Wrap red pepper strips around bundles of two asparagus stalks. Make three or more bundles.  Return to grill to cook the asparagus until crisp and tender.

Plate up your delicious Christmas dinner entree as shown above.

Coconut pumpkin biscuits

Next post: coconut pumpkin biscuits.
Get more Christmas recipes here:
or here

Friday, December 14, 2012

ACD Breakfast: Coconut Pancakes and Green Smoothie

ACD Coconut Pancakes and Green Smoothie
The first three weeks of the anti-candida diet (ACD) are so low carb that it can be difficult at times to not have a grumbling tummy and cranky attitude. I find the best way to combat this problem is to have a "hearty" breakfast.

I guess I am a slow learner because this is my third time around on the ACD diet. One thing I have learned is how to cook an ACD-legal pancake that holds together. The trick is slow cooking, over medium heat, in a heavy skillet and not trying to flip the pancakes too soon (even though you're dying for a taste).

Here's what you need to make ACD Coconut Pancakes for one. These are so good even my hubby enjoyed them, and they are tasty enough to serve for Christmas breakfast.

1 T. sunflower seeds
1 T. pumpkin seeds
1 T. ground flax
1 T. chia seed
2 T. coconut flour
1 T. vegan rice protein (I used vanilla SunWarrior)
1 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
Optional: 1 T. unsweetened coconut flakes
1 T. tahini
1/4 cup light coconut milk (or other non-dairy beverage)
For topping: nut or seed butter, coconut flakes

Here's what you do:

Get your coffee grinder out. Put in everything but the tahini and coconut milk. Grind those ingredients until they form a flour. In a medium bowl, mix the tahini and coconut milk. Add in the "flour" from your coffee grinder and stir to mix. Your batter will be thick. Resist the temptation to thin it out with more coconut milk.

Heat up your skillet on low medium to medium setting. Spray with pan spray and add a bit of olive oil. Divide the batter into two medium pancakes. Flatten slightly with a spoon or spatula. Cook 5-6 minutes per side. Resist the temptation to flip too soon. Test by lifting each pancake to see if it holds together before turning.

Serve with nut or seed butter and sprinkle with shredded coconut. Yum!

Did you say breakfast was ready?

For some quick nutrition while the pancakes are cooking drink your Green Smoothie.

Here's what you need:

4-5 slices of cucumber
2 celery stalks
Handful of spinach
1/2 cup coconut water
1 scoop vanilla SunWarrior protein powder
1 T. chia seed
Stevia to taste
Dash of salt
Lots of ice

Blend in your food processor or blender. Serve cook and frothy!

Recipe contributed to:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Let's scream for ACD phase 1 ice cream

Hey, Nika, let's play!

The snow dogs finally got their wish. It snowed! It was just a skiff but it transformed everything. Twenty-three degrees, with a wind chill, is a little hard on we humans but oh, do Misha and Nika love to play in the cold, snowy weather.

Carob coconut ice cream with carob fudge bites

Okay, guys, you got the snow. Now, for some reason I'm craving ice cream. Yes, it is possible to make ACD-phase 1 ice cream that's delicious. Just ask the snow dogs. They beg for some every batch I make. I guess they know it's legal because there is no chocolate, only carob.

Carob Coconut Ice Cream
Here's what you need for a large serving or 2 smaller ones.

1 cup coconut milk (full-fat or regular)
1 T. toasted carob powder
2 T. sunbutter or other seed or nut butter
Vanilla liquid stevia (2-3  droppersful)
Additional stevia to taste
Optional: 1 scoop SunWarrior vegan vanilla protein powder

Here's what you do:

Blend all the ingredients in your food processor. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to instructions. Garnish with carob fudge bites for an extra level of deliciousness.

For the carob fudge bites recipe go to this link:

Note: I made the fudge bites petite by molding them in a silicon mini-cupcake pan.

Roasted beet ice cream with coconut seed bar

Beet Coconut Ice Cream
What you need for one large serving or 2 smaller ones.

1 oven-roasted small beet
1 cup coconut milk (either full fat or regular)
Vanilla liguid stevia (2-3 droppersful)
Addional stevia to taste
Optional: 1 scoop SunWarrior vegan vanilla protein powder

Here's what you do:

Roast a small beet, wrapped in aluminum foil, until fork tender. Do this ahead of time and allow the beet to chill in the fridge. When ready, put everything in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to your ice cream maker and follow the instructions to make your ice cream.

Serve with a coconut seed bar. Get the recipe here:
Note: for ACD-phase 1, sub 1/2 cup spaghetti squash puree for the unsweetened applesauce.

Misha knows how important good sleep is for you.

For the past few weeks, I have been following the strict ACD diet once again in hopes of clearing up recurring sinus, stomach and chronic muscle pain problems, all part of fibromyalgia. One of the best things I have done for myself is finally getting some deep sleep. For years, I have struggled getting stage 3 and 4 deep sleep for 7-8 hours. Disrupted sleep causes pain.

It's amazing what sleep (with the help of an herbal sleep remedy) can do for repairing muscles. I started this process with pain all over my body. Now, my pain is less intense and in fewer spots.

I am following the SHINE protocol, developed by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., and described in his book, From Fatigued to Fantastic. S is for sleep: H for hormones; I infection; N nutrition; and E exercise. In many cases, the infection is candida which I am addressing with the ACD diet and antifungals.

Carob coconut ice cream with carob fudge bites

Recipes contributed to:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cauliflower crust pizza with hemp alfredo sauce

Gimme, gimme more!
I feel like licking my dish too, just like Nika, when eating my Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Hemp Alfredo Sauce. Yes, it is possible to have a delicious meal, full of flavor, when following the strict anti-candida diet (phase 1).

Cauliflower crust pizza with hemp alfredo sauce
I have been visited again by some unwelcome guests, called candida. Actually, the little beasties never leave you but it's your job to keep them under control by eating a low-glycemic diet and taking probiotics to put healthy bacteria back in your gut.

I strayed too far (for me) from the low-glycemic rule. It had been two years since my last bout with candida. No wonder, I thought I was cleared for eating more carbohydrates. In fact, after two years, I had to review the ACD-phase 1 rules for eating as I started this new round with candida.

The strictest version of the diet (Phase 1) would eliminate:

• Anything containing sugar;

• Simple carbohydrates, such as flour, cakes, cookies, breads, etc.;

• Foods that contain mold or fungus, such as yeast, mushrooms, peanuts, cashews, cheese;

• The most common food allergens, such as dairy, eggs, wheat, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts;

• Foods that are fermented (alcohol, all condiments including ketchup, mustard, soy sauce);

• Anything artificial, processed, containing chemicals or additives, imitation or artificial seasonings flavorings and colorings;

• Soda pop, fruit juice, pre-sweetened drinks, coffee, tea (except herbal teas).

What's left to eat, you are probably wondering?

• All vegetables except starchy ones (winter squash, and heaven forbid, no corn. It's not really a vegetable anyhow);

• Some nuts and most seeds;

• Water;

• Natural, cold-pressed oils, such as olive oil;

• Lemon and lime juice;

• Stevia (a natural herbal sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels as long as it's alcohol-free);

• Unsweetened alternative dairy beverages, such as soy milk

There are some exceptions to these rules depending on what program you are following. Some allow a bit of chocolate or carob; one serving of low-glycemic fruit: small amounts of sweet potatoes, carrots, beets; organic apple cider vinegar; legumes and whole grains (amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, flaxseed) in restricted portions.

I discovered the return of the candida beasties at the same time my chronic pain was flaring. Candida is a common thread among people with fibromyalgia, as I discovered I had had all through my many bouts with yeast overgrowth. In my initial week taking antifungal meds, I have found my pain actually increasing. It's a common occurrence to have your symptoms increase as the candida beasties die off.

I also am working on improving the quality of my sleep which is a critical component of healing from fibromyalgia or anything for that matter. Without deep sleep, your body cannot repair itself. I am taking magnesium and a herbal sleeping potion to help me stay asleep rather than waking because of pain. So far, I am noting an improvement in my sleep.

It's time to get on to the good stuff: Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Hemp Alfredo Sauce.

You will need to serve 1:

1/3 head of cauliflower, riced
2-3 chia eggs (mix 2-3 T. of chia with 3-4 T. of warm water and allow to gel)
1/4 cup raw or toasted sunflower seeds ground into flour using a coffee grinder
1/4 tsp. salt

Hemp Alfredo Sauce: (makes extra to use to make kale chips)
1 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup hemp milk (unsweetened)
2 T. lemon juice
dash of stevia
salt/pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

6 steamed asparugus stalks, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
6 artichoke hearts, halved
alfredo sauce kale chips

Hemp Alfredo Sauce Kale Chips
Leaves from one bunch of kale
3-4 T. hemp alfredo sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the raw cauliflower florets into a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice. Add the chia eggs, salt and sunflower seed flour and pulse until blended.
Put the dough onto a pan-sprayed baking sheet. Cover the dough with a large piece of wax paper and smoosh it with your hands until it's about 9-12 inches in diameter. Place the dough in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until dry but pliable.

You'll need to make the hemp alfredo sauce before you can make the kale chips. It's almost too easy. Simply put everything in your food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Next, make the hemp alfredo sauce kale chips. Remove the leaves from the stems. Place in a bowl and drizzle with alfredo sauce. Toss with your hands. Spread the kale on a large baking sheet. Place on the top shelf of your oven. Normally, kale chips are baked at 350 degrees but if you keep your eye on them, you can bake them along with the cauliflower crust. Remove when crispy, about 15-20 minutes.

Prepare your toppings. Once everything is ready, spread alfredo sauce on the prepared crust. Add your veggies and kale chips. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat through. Remove your pizza from the oven and get ready to enjoy a taste sensation, almost too good to be ACD-phase 1.

 I am wanting more, more, more of this pizza!

"I'll have some more food, please."

Contributed to:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chocolate (Carob ) cake batter green smoothie

Chocolate cake batter green smoothie
I just finished reading the book, From Fatigued to Fantastic by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. It has been a real eye opener for me as someone who has battled chronic pain for years. The book covers everything you need to know before seeing your health-care provider about chronic fatigue syndrome  (CFS) or fibromyalgia (FMS).

No, fibromyalgia is not just in your head and is much more than sensitive trigger points in your body. It affects more than six million Americans and causes more disability than rheumatoid arthritis. It can often be triggered by a long-term infection as with candida. FMS patients often have to be treated for candida along with multiple other disorders.

Nutrition is important for FMS sufferers. The anti-candida diet seems to have been written with us in mind. Unfortunately, I fell off the strict ACD diet wagon because I had been less troubled by most of my symptoms for so long. I opted for more and more carbohydrates that weren't low glycemic or at least not enough for me.

As such, my chronic pain increased; my sinusitis returned; and my stomach troubles began again. It's a little late but I seem to remember saying I needed to stay on a low-glycemic diet for life.

The Best Green Smoothie Ever
These days I'm using only stevia for my sweetener. Even coconut sugar and coconut nectar are too glycemic fo rme. I did make the Chocolate (or Carob) Cake Batter Green Smoothie, pictured above, but it has no sweetener other than stevia. It does contain chocolate which can be eaten occasionally for its antioxidant value. Note: Use carob for this recipe if you are ACD-phase 1. I have  eliminated chocolate from my diet and replaced it with carob until I am finished with the first month of ACD-phase 1.

Chocolate (Carob) Cake Batter Green Smoothie

2 T. raw cacao
1/2-1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened) or other non-dairy beverage
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 small avocado
1 handful spinach
stevia to taste
1 scoop SunWarrior vanilla protein powder
1 T. chia or flax
Optional: 2 T. quinoa flakes or oatmeal (Note: Avoid if doing ACD-phase 1)

Blend everything in food processor until thick and creamy. Add a dollop of coconut cream to make this extra special.

The Best Green Smoothie Ever

1/2 cucumber or zucchini
1 handful spinach
2 stalks celery
1/2 granny smith apple
1/2 cup coconut water
juice of one lemon
stevia to taste
6+ ice cubes
1 scoop SunWarrior vanilla protein powder
1 T. chia or flax

Blend everything in food processor until thick and creamy.

"Maybe Mom will share some of her smoothies. They're yummy!"

Recipes contributed to:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies and Smoothies too!

Vegan coconut chocolate chip cookies

Each year my husband and I are invited to give a wellness presentation to a self-care class for graduate students in social work. A friend of our's is the professor.

Like many people, the students in the class are overwhelmed by grad school, work and family responsibilities. We try to show them "bite-sized" ways to incorporate better eating, exercise, meditation. My favorite suggestion and one I employ frequently is doing a little focused breathing while standing in line. Nobody is really paying attention anyway so why not?

We like to introduce them to a few healthy-eating recipes. Sometimes that works; sometimes not. This year I thought why not make something I can eat. If they don't eat it, I will. I was blown away. The vegan, low-glycemic cookies containing avocado and banana were a hit. They gobbled them up; asked if they were paleo; and wanted the recipe. I didn't have to worry about finishing any of them up. They also wanted the recipe for the Artichoke Hummus we served with veggies.

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
(recipe adapted from
Makes about 18 cookies.

1 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
2 ripe bananas
1/4 ripe avocado
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
2 T. agave syrup or honey
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 chia eggs (mix 2 T. chia seed with 3 T. water and allow to set for 10 minutes to gel) Note: the original recipe contained two eggs.
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life dairy-free kind) or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, combine bananas, avocado, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, chia eggs or regular eggs and pulse to blend. Next add coconut flour, baking soda and powder, salt and continue blending. Finally, add chocolate chips and coconut and only pulse enough to blend in.

Spoon out about 2 T. of dough per cookie onto a baking sheet, sprayed with pan spray. Flatten slightly to form cookie shapes.

Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Artichoke Hummus recipe
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can artichoke pieces packed in water, drained
2 T. tahini
Juice of one lemon
Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.

Apple pumpkin pudding smoothie
In my continued struggles with fibromyalgia, I am finding that eating certain foods causes my muscle pains to worsen. For now, I am sticking with the anti-candida diet for the most part. The result is I am feeling better as I whip up plenty of green smoothies like Apple Pumpkin Pudding Smoothie and Persimmon Green Smoothie.

Apple Pumpkin Pudding Smoothie
(makes 1 serving)

1 sweet apple (gala or honeycrisp)
1 cup non-dairy beverage (hemp, coconut, almond)
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
1 cup of kale
stevia to taste
1 T. chia
1 T. seed or nut butter
Optional: 1 T. vegan rice protein powder
Pumpkin and/or hemp seeds for topping

Blend everything in a food processor or blender. Top with seeds if desired. Drink a great glass of nutrition.

Persimmon Green Smoothie
Persimmons continue to be in season. They are so delicious they can turn a green smoothie into a dessert (well, almost).

Persimmon Green Smoothie
(makes 1 serving)

1 persimmon with stem removed
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of kale
1 cup of non-dairy milk
1 cup ice
stevia to taste
1 T. chia seed
1 T. nut or seed butter of choice
hemp seeds or 1 T. of vegan rice protein

Blend everything in your food processor or blender and enjoy!

Update: I tried this smoothie again this a.m. and added 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries. Even yummier!

Wake us when the food is ready.

Recipes contributed to:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spaghetti squash pumpkin pie brownie cupcakes

Frosted Spaghetti squash pumpkin pie brownie cupcakes
Eat more magnesium-rich foods. That's my new mantra. Magnesium helps combat the muscle soreness of fibromyalgia syndrome. Researchers say that most people with FMS are deficient in magnesium. Recently, my health problems took a new turn with the realization that my on-going muscle pain and other symptoms are fibromyalgia-like.

What exactly is fibromyalgia?
I most often hear fibromyalgia described as chronic widespread pain but it is much more. The
symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
  • Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness
  • Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
  • Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
  • Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks ("fibro fog")
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Tension or migraine headaches
  • Jaw and facial tenderness
  • Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
  • Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
  • A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
What are some good magnesium sources?
  • Pumpkin seeds: 180 cals per serving; 47.7 percent of daily value
  • Spinach: 41 calories; 39.1 percent
  • Swiss Chard: 35 calories; 37.6 percent
  • Soybeans: 298 calories; 36.9 percent
  • Sesame seeds: 206 calories; 31.5 percent
  • Halibut: 159 calories; 30.3 percent
  • Black beans: 227 calories; 30.1 percent
  • Sunflower seeds: 204 calories: 28.4 percent
  • Cashews: 189 calories; 25 percent
  • Almonds: 206 calories; 24.6 percent

What else do I need to be doing?

Magnesium is just the beginning. I am trying it to see how it benefits me. There is much more I have to learn but the idea behind using supplements is to boost levels of certain substances in your body that may reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
"Eat more magnesium-rich foods, Mom. Or have breakfast in bed like me."
I am eating more foods rich in magnesium but for some reason I also am craving squash. It must be my huge pile of spaghetti squash, etc., staring me in the face. Spaghetti squash actually makes a great puree to add to recipes much like pumpkin. I tried it in some cupcakes that normally use pumpkin. The result was a delicious gooey cupcake that gets better even after you leave it in the fridge for a few days.

Spaghetti Squash Pumpkin Pie Brownie Cupcakes
(suitable for ACD-maintenance)

For the brownie layer

3/4 cup cacao powder
3 T. coconut oil
1 1/2 cups pureed spaghetti squash (or pumpkin)
1/4 cup coconut sugar + stevia to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup hemp, almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup amaranth flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 chia egg

For the pumpkin pie layer

1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup amaranth flour
2 T. flax
2 T. chia seed
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. coconut nectar
3/4-1 cup spaghetti squash (or pumpkin) puree
1/4 cup coconut oil
2/4 T. coconut milk

Frosted and unfrosted versions

For the pumpkin spice frosting

2 T. sunbutter
1/2 cup pumpkin or spaghetti squash puree
1/2 cup white kidney beans
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. coconut nectar
2 T. coconut oil (melted)
1 T. coconut sugar + stevia to taste

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or line cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers. First make the brownie layer. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Then add wet ingredients. Batter will be slightly thick. Fill cupcake sections 1/2 full with brownie layer or make some full brownie.

Second make the "pumpkin pie" layer. Repeat as with brownie layer by mixing dry ingredients and then adding wet ingredients. Top cupcake section with squash layer or make some full spaghetti squash sections.

This recipe makes enough for 18 medium cupcakes. Place the cupcake pans in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. A toothpick should come out fairly clean. Note: These cupcakes will be moist and somewhat gooey. (Yum)

Optional frosting: While the cupcakes are cooking, make the frosting. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Persimmon blueberry parfait

"Big Herbie"
Meet "Big Herbie," our family's hippie van, all restored and looking like a new man. Yes, Big Herbie recently got a makeover. He was looking pretty dismal but it was nothing that a few months of body work and a shiny new paint job couldn't fix.

Big Herbie, a 1978 VW van, has been part of our family for 30+ years. We named him after Herbie, a 1963 VW bug that was featured in a number of Disney movies. Herbie, the movie star VW, had a mind of his own and was capable of driving himself. Our Big Herbie may not be a movie star but he has stories all his own.

Herbie look-a-likes
Big Herbie always has had a way of making friends. Fellow VW van owners and others flash us the peace sign wherever we go. Folks we've never met before want to talk to us about Big Herbie.

VW vans always have had an iconic image but apparently that was lost on my daughter when she was in junior high. She was already embarassed to be seen in Big Herbie because her friends' parents were driving luxury cars. We "forced" her to go on a camping trip that took us through Sun Valley where all the cool, rich folks hung out (major embarassment to be seen in Big Herbie). Imagine her surprise when those cool, rich folks wanted to have their pictures taken with Big Herbie. After that, Big Herbie was cool again.

These days we're writing new chapters in the Book of Big Herbie. My husband, a former high school counselor turned mobile bike repairman, uses Big Herbie as his business vehicle. Yes, people still want to have their pictures taken with Big Herbie, and he's still a conversation opener. But now, sometimes people even want to buy him. No way. He's part of our family for good.

Persimmon-blueberry parfait

Candida is something not so pleasant that seems to be part of my life for good. Just when I think I have it under control, it rears its ugly head again. For the past few years, I have been struggling with chronic pain that just won't go away. I thought it was caused by injuries from years of cycling and running.

Alas, it's fibromyalgia. What causes fibromyalgia is not totally understood. One of the theories is it could be the result of stress, illness, trauma or even an infection, like candida. Whatever the cause, I  am searching for ways to deal with this chronic problem.

Healthy eating continues to be No. 1 on my list. Recently, I rediscovered persimmons after many years without eating one. The persimmon is a fruit of Chinese origin. Originally cultivated in both Japan and China for centuries, this fruit is now grown in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, the Middle East and the USA.

According to the California Department of Public Health, one medium-sized Japanese persimmon provides 118 calories, 0 g of fat, 1 g of protein, 31 g of carbohydrates, 6 g of dietary fiber and 2 mg of sodium. This fruit is rich in vitamins A and C. One fruit provides 2,733 International Units, or 55 percent, of the recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin A and 12.8 mg, or 21 percent, of the DV for vitamin C. Japanese persimmons are also high in manganese, a trace mineral, meeting 30 percent of the DV in one whole fruit.

Persimmon Blueberry Parfait packs lots of nutrition
Along with all this nutrition, persimmons are unbelievably delicious. I tried them out for breakfast in a Persimmon Blueberry Parfait.

1 ripe persimmon
1/2 frozen ripe pear ( or banana if tolerated)
1 T. chia seed
1 T. vegan protein powder of choice
stevia to taste
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 T. quinoa flakes
1-2 T. dried coconut flakes (unsweetened)

Remove the stem from the persimmon and chop the fruit into chunks. Toss items 1-6 (everything but the blueberries, coconut flakes and quinoa flakes) into a food processor and blend until smooth. To assemble your parfait, layer persimmon pudding with blueberries, quinoa flakes and coconut flakes in a glass container. Finish with coconut flakes and more blueberries.

Can I have a persimmon parfait too?

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween-stuffed pumpkin with spider surprise

Trick or treat?
Halloween, as well as other holidays, are not a big deal at my house. Ritalin Boy (RB/hubby) is all about being practical and well, holidays definitely do not fall into the category of "practical." They are more about "pure fun" and enjoyment of family and friends. RB does appreciate the family/friends aspect of holidays and especially, the sugar aspect of Halloween.

Vegan lentil/quinoa spider on bed of pumpkin

On the other hand, I am a kid at heart who cannot give up on Halloween. There will be no trick or treaters at our doorstep because we live far off the beaten path. But I celebrate by conjuring up a ghoulish recipe of some sort. This year, I am tweaking my diet to make it as anti-inflammatory as possible as I am trying to rule out any cause of my chronic pain. It's not fibromyalgia; it's not arthritis; we're not sure what it is. I only know it's painful.

I can only eat healthy sweets so that rules out most Halloween goodies. I decided to focus on a Halloween-inspired entree with the result being Stuffed pumpkin with a spidery surprise. This is a multi-step recipe that can seem overwhelming. The trick is doing some of the prep in advance. For instance, you will need to bake pumpkin halves for 1-1/2 hours depending on their size. This can be done ahead of time. The vegan lentil/quinoa spiders also can be made a day or so in advance and stored in the freezer.

Stuffed pumpkin with a spidery surprise
Servings: 2    Time: 2 hours

Ingredients for pumpkin and stuffing:

  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 2-4 T. vegan pesto
Ingredients for vegan lentil/quinoa spiders
  • 1/2 cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 T. chia seed
  • 2 T. Bragg's amino acids
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
Halloween-inspired pumpkin with spider surprise

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard or save for later use.
  • Place the pumpkin halves in a large baking pan. Brush the insides of the pumpkin halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip the pumpkins over and pour 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish. Place the baking pan into the center of the preheated oven and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until pumpkin halves are soft.
  • Meanwhile, make the vegan lentil/quinoa spiders. Mix all the ingredients(except for roasted red pepper strips) in a large bowl. Mixture will be sticky but manageable.
  • Form spider-shapes out of the dough and place on a sprayed baking sheet. You will probably get 8-12 depending on the size of your spiders.
  • Bake along with the pumpkin for 25-30 minutes. Turn half way through.
  • These freeze well.
  • Closer to serving time, saute sliced onion and julienned zucchini and carrots until tender.
  • For the pesto, I tossed 1 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 bunch kale leaves, 1/4 cup each olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, 1 tsp. cumin in my food processor.  Pulse to make a pesto sauce. Or substitute a pesto of your choice.
  • To serve, fill each pumpkin half with the sauted veggie mixture and 2 T. + pesto. Top with a vegan lentil/quinoa spider. Arrange the roasted pepper strips around the spider body to form legs.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cold fighter soup and easy pumpkin frappuccino

Misha investigates a wheelbarrow of squash from the garden in search of the Great Pumpkin. Or is he searching for dog treats?

I'm up to my ears in squash and that's a good thing. Squash, such as pumpkin, is full of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A---and that helps create white blood cells to fight infection. So, eat more squash this cold season.

Another good thing to eat more of this winter is legumes which are loaded with immune-boosting iron and zinc, two nutrients that provide protection against infection by viruses and bacteria.
Legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, also are good sources of vitamin B6, which aids in creating infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes. You can double your absorption of iron from legumes by combining them with foods that contain vitamin C.

Cold fighter soup with pumpkin and legumes

Here’s a recipe that I call Cold Fighter Soup. It's loaded with pumpkin and legumes as well as other veggies and almond butter. It’s easy to prepare and makes 4 generous servings. Leftovers store easily in fridge or freezer for future meals.

(suitable for ACD-phase 2)

  1. 1 cup of lentils (rinsed)
  2. 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  3. 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  4. 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  5. 1 cup diced pumpkin or other squash, such as butternut
  6. 1 large zucchini, diced
  7. ½ red pepper, diced
  8. ¼ red onion, diced
  9. 1 quart of vegetable broth
  10. 2 T. unsweetened almond butter
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. Other seasonings: 1 tsp. cumin
  13. 1 T. olive oil



  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add diced onion, carrot and celery. Saute until tender.
  2. Add rinsed lentils and vegetable broth. Mix in seasonings.
  3. Heat to boiling. Reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Ten minutes before serving, add the other vegetables and cook until tender.
  5. Finally, stir in 2 T. of unsweetened almond butter.
Get plenty of rest too so you can stay healthy this winter!
I'm also using up some of my pumpkin from the garden by making healthy and easy iced pumpkin frappuccino. It's good for your tastebuds, and healthier and cheaper than getting a frappuccino at your local coffee shop.
Iced pumpkin frappuccino

1. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2. 6 T. pumpkin puree
3. 1 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
4. 1 tsp. vanilla
5. liquid vanilla stevia to taste
6. 1 tsp. Dandy Blend or instant espresso powder
7. additional almond milk as needed
8. Optional: 1/4 tsp. xanthum gum

1. Combine items No. 1-5 and freeze as ice cubes.
2. When ready to make frappuccino, blend pumpkin spice cubes with Dandy Blend or coffee powder. xanthum gum and additional almond milk as needed.
3. Blend until thick and smooth.
4. Serve with coconut cream if desired.

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