Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Punkinormous sandwich cookies

I love butternut squash. Wake me when the cookies are ready!
What's not to love about winter squash? My personal favorite is butternut. One serving contains almost 500 percent daily value of Vitamin A, 52 percent of Vitamin C and 15 percent of magnesium. Of course, it also tastes delicious and makes a great puree to use in desserts, like these Punkinormous Sandwich Cookies. Yes, you can use any kind of winter squash in these, including pumpkin, and they are friendly to the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP).

Punkinormous Sandwich Cookies
Here's what you need:

For the cookies:
1 1/2 cups squash puree, such as pumpkin or butternut
1 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
other spices, as desired
stevia, to taste

For the filling:

1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk (such as Natural Value because it comes in a BPA-free can with no added ingredients
1 T. each, coconut butter and coconut oil (softened)
stevia, to taste
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (alcohol-free)

Here's what you do:

Mix all the cookie ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended. Shape 6-8 large cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the fridge until firmed up.

In the meantime, make the filling. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended and thickened.

Assemble the cookies by putting a tablespoon of filling between two halves. Return to the fridge to firm up. Cookies can be stored in the freezer but will need to thaw out slightly before eating.

I can sleep like a baby after eating butternut squash.
Recipe contributed to:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Arriba! Squash Mexican-style

Misha (on right) wears Nika's tail.
Are you planning to dress up your dog for Halloween? Pets are an important part of the American family. So, it's no surprise that 7.9 percent of people will dress up their pet with a pumpkin costume as the top pick.

Maybe Misha, the husky, can wear Nika's tail, as pictured above. I think that's about as close to costume as I'm going to get with my two snowhounds. During the winter, they manage to get their feet out of their booties in a matter of seconds. I think I'll save the money (the average person will spend $75).
Squash Mexican-style

My fur-kids hate dressing up but they love winter squash of all kinds. I do too! I used some of my garden-grown delicata squash for my Arriba! Squash Mexican-style.

 Here's what you need for two servings:

1 small delicata squash or other squash such as butternut
1 zucchini
6 yellow baby carrots or orange baby carrots
1/4 red onion
6 asparagus stalks
salt and pepper
olive oil for drizzling
guacamole topping: 1 avocado, 1 cup fresh cilantro, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup red onion, salt and pepper, water if needed

 Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut delicata squash in half. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until golden and tender, about 30 minutes.

Cut zucchini into matchstick pieces. Slice onion. Cut baby carrots in half, lengthwise. Trim asparagus stalks, if needed. Place all these veggies on another baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle or spritz with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden and tender.

In the meantime, mix up your guacamole. Put all the topping ingredients in your food processor and blend until slightly chunky. Add water, if needed.

To serve, place a bed of greens on a plate. Next, put on one squash half. Top with half the veggies and guacamole.

Blueberry coconut cups, paleo and raw

Blueberry coconut cups
It's Day 19 of the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP), an elimination diet to help individuals with autoimmune diseases detect hidden food sensitivities that may be contributing to symptoms. I'm almost two-thirds through the 30 days.

This diet restricts many foods, including grains, seeds/nuts or butters,dairy and eggs, that are frequently used in desserts. What do I turn to for an occasional treat? Berries (especially blueberries), coconut in all forms (flakes, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut flour), avocadoes, pears and stevia. I know it's not a long list but you can come up with some tasty treats. It doesn't hurt to get an inspiration from someone else as I did with my Blueberry Coconut Cups at

The original recipe contained nuts, which are off limits. I subbed lots of coconut.

Here's what you need for 6 cups:

For the crust: 1/2 cup coconut flakes, stevia to taste, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 T. each coconut butter and coconut oil, 1 T. coconut flour

For the filling: 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (Natural Value in BPA-free can and nothing added or homemade), vanilla extract 1/2 tsp., stevia to taste, 2 T. each coconut butter and coconut oil, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 T. coconut flour

Here's what you do:
In a medium bowl, mix the crust ingredients. The coconut butter and coconut oil will need to be softened. Press the crust into the bottoms of a six cupcake cells. Stick the pan in the fridge or freezer to harden the crust.

Make the filling by putting all your ingredients, except blueberries, in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
 Now, stir in the blueberries. Divide the filling evenly among the cupcake section. Allow the cupcake cups to firm up for several hours in the fridge. If frozen, the coconut cups will need to be taken out early to thaw out a bit. Garnish with additional blueberries and softened coconut butter for an amazing dessert!
Give me one of those coconut cups, now!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Raw cinnabon bites

Hiking the Boulder-Louie Lake Loop in the Payette National Forest.
Backpacking is one of my favorite late spring, summer and early fall activities. But in late fall, I prefer day hiking. You get to enjoy all the scenery, even snow on the ground, but avoid sleeping in a tent in frigid temperatures.

On a recent hiking/kayaking trip, I packed along raw cinnabon bites, free of grains, nuts/seeds, and in compliance with the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). I have reached day 16 of this 30-day elimination diet for individuals with autoimmune disease.
Cinnabon bites

Here's what you need:

2 T. coconut butter (organic and raw Artisana)
2 T. coconut oil
1/4 cup raw coconut flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/8-1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, non-alcohol
vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
dash of sea salt
glaze: 1 T. coconut butter + 1 T. coconut oil

Here's what you do:

Soften 2 T. each coconut butter and oil. Place in a food processor, along with coconut flour, cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract, stevia and coconut milk. Pulse to mix into a sturdy dough. Shape into 6 balls. Place in the fridge to firm up.

Once the cinnabons are firm, dip them in a glaze, made from 1 T. each softened coconut oil and coconut butter. Return the cinnabon bites to the fridge until glaze firms up.
Eat the cinnabon bites as they are or use to garnish a pumpkin spice smoothie, as pictured below.
Get the recipe for the paleo pumpkin smoothie at
Kayaking in McCall, Idaho

Submitted to:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Carrot cake kale chips with coconut butter frosting

Out kayaking on a windy afternoon
I went kayaking! My son gave me a quick lesson and off I went with an inflatable kayak into choppy water. The water sloshed into my little "Firefly" but I kept on paddling. It was great fun except for our encounter with the government shutdown.

What did our kayaking adventure have to do with the government shutdown? We have a lake about 8 miles from our home but it's part of a national wildlife refuge and was closed because of the government shutdown. We didn't know that when we headed out to this nearby lake. Talk about a downer when we discovered it was closed. We were thirsting for kayaking so we drove 100 miles round trip to reach another body of water. What do you think? Should the government compensate us for our extra gas?

Carrot cake kale chips with coconut butter frosting
I had a choppy start to my first kayaking trip but after paddling around for a few hours everything seemed right with the world. Things got even better when I made some Carrot Cake Kale Chips with Coconut Butter Frosting.

 Here's what you need:

2 medium carrots, peeled and steamed
1 bunch kale
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 T. softened coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. coconut flakes
vanilla stevia, to taste
coconut frosting: 2 T. coconut butter and 2 T. coconut oil

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Note: As an option, you also could use a dehydrator and raw carrots. Steam and cool carrots. Wash and tear kale into bite-sized pieces. Place the kale in a large bowl.

Puree the carrots with coconut milk, cinnamon, coconut oil, stevia and 1 T. coconut flakes in a food processor. Massage the carrot mixture into the kale with your hands. Try to make sure all the kale pieces are covered.

Place on several large baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle with additional coconut flakes and cinnamon, if desired. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until kale is crispy.

To serve, place some of the chips on a plate and drizzle with softened coconut butter.

Yes, it was that good!!!!!

Recipe contributed to:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Veggie-full cauliflower rice

Veggie-full cauliflower rice
It's Day 6 of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, an elimination diet to help individuals with impaired gut function and autoimmune disease. At this point, I cannot tell any difference.

So how long does it take?  According to "there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  It depends on how leaky your gut is, how inflamed your body is, exactly what types of antibodies your body is producing and what cells in your body they are attacking.  Just like your genetics will predispose you to developing autoimmunity if you have a leaky gut, they also dictate how easy it is for your body to stop producing those antibodies and heal your gut.  Interestingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those people with more severe autoimmune diseases will take longer to see improvement.  It’s actually quite hard to predict who will see dramatic, rapid improvement and who will have a long drawn-out recovery.

Your gut needs to heal and this takes time.  If you are lucky enough not to have SmallIntestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), this may only take about 6 months.  Many people with autoimmune disease do have SIBO however, and healing for these people can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  Many people with autoimmune disease and SIBO also have gut-brain connection issues (this is especially true for those with skin conditions)."
 Read more at:

Now that I have started, I am sticking with it. After all, I am nothing but a true blue personality, one who is methodical and determined to stick with goals. One way to stick with a restrictive diet is to plan lots of interesting and tasty meals. Last night, I made Veggie-full Cauliflower Rice.

Here's what you need for one veggie-packed serving:

1/3 head cauliflower, riced
2 zucchini, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
4 green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 red onion, sliced
salt and pepper

For the dressing:

1/2 avocado
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper
water to thin, if necessary
Optional: drop of stevia

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread rice cauliflower on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread zucchini, carrots and red onion on other baking sheets. Toss with salt and pepper, and olive oil. Place in the oven. Cauliflower rice will take about 15 minutes to begin turning golden brown. Zucchini and carrots may take up to 30 minutes. Onion will take about 20 minutes. Monitor to avoid overbrowning.

In the meantime, mix up the dressing by placing everything in a food processor and blending.

When everything is ready, put the veggies in a large bowl and toss with dressing. Serve on a bed of greens. Garnish with green onions and additional cilantro.

"We're resting until dinner is ready."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin spice kale

Pumpkin (or butternut) spice kale
 I love kale chips! I've grown a huge crop of kale in my garden to feed my habit. Kale chips make a great snack while following any diet, but especially the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). I have been following this diet for about five days in hopes of finding hidden food sensitivities that might be contributing to my fibromyalgia and digestive issues.

 I also have a bumper crop of butternut squash which I combined with the kale to make Pumpkin-spice kale. Feel free to use pumpkin or other types of winter squash for this reciipe.
Here's what you need:

1 bunch of kale
1 cup butternut or pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 T. coconut oil, melted
1-2 tsp. cinnamon, depending on your preference
When do I get some pumpkin-spice kale chips?
Here's what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Optionally, this kale may be dried in a food dryer.

Wash your kale and tear into bite-sized pieces. Some say you should dry the kale after washing but I usually skip this step. Place the kale pieces in a large bowl.

Puree your squash in a food processor. Blend in cinnamon, coconut milk and melted coconut oil.

Pour the squash mixture on top of the kale. Massage it in with your hands. Try to make sure all the kale pieces are covered.

Spread the kale on the baking sheets. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes, monitoring to avoid overcooking.

Store cooled kale in a container.

Recipe submitted to:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kale with lemon beet cream

Misha says hi to Chancy, the mare
I'm beginning to feel like the character Smeagol in Lord of the Rings. He calls the ring, "my precious." I call sunbutter, "my precious." I've grown so attached to it that it's been hard giving it up for the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP).

"How am I going to survive without sunbutter?" That was one of the first questions I asked when I started this elimination diet four days ago in hopes of getting remission or at least, reduced symptoms from fibromyalgia and gut issues.

I know you're thinking there must be lots of other things to eat. Yes, there are but it was one of my few guilty pleasure foods left. But in its place, I am subbing one of these: full-fat coconut milk, coconut oil or coconut butter.

The recipe for sauteed kale with lemon beet cream previously would have included sunbutter but it came out just as delicious with full-fat coconut milk.

Sauteed kale with lemon beet cream
 Here's what you need:

1 steamed or roasted beet
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk (sub seed or nut butter, if desired)
1/4 sliced onion
1/2 bunch of kale
olive oil
salt and pepper
Here's what you do:

Peel and slice one red beet. Steam until tender or roast in the oven, if desired. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place the beet, coconut milk, juice of lemon, salt and pepper in your food processor. Process until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Next, saute your greens with onion. Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Saute the onions until tender. Continue by adding the greens.

That's it! Super easy. Plate up your greens and top with a dollop of lemon beet cream. Serve as a side to some type of protein.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Carrot-top broccoli

Misha gets in some "down-dog" zzzz's.
I am off and running on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)---Day 3 or the 30-day elimination diet. This more-restricted version of the paleo diet has worked well for many with autoimmune diseases who often have leaky gut issues and have plateaued on the full paleo diet.

On the protocol, I will be eating paleo (eerie similarity to anti-candida diet) but with some additional restrictions: no nightshade veggies, no dairy, no eggs and no seeds or nuts. Going on this diet was especially difficult because of the need to eliminate seeds and nuts. They make cooking meals, adding protein and healthy fats easy.

Why do I need to eliminate them? People with autoimmune diseases often have sensitivity to nuts and find eating them aggravates their symptoms. This would be true for me so I don't eat nuts.

 But what about seeds? Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are one of the least reactive foods. The problem is  people with autoimmune disease may have impaired gut function which makes the seeds difficult to digest. Foods that sit around in your gut contribute to leaky gut problems and create the perfect environment for the growth of harmful bacteria.
Carrot-top broccoli steaks
So, how do you cook without seeds or nuts, which often add creaminess to soups, sauces, etc.? I am subbing full-fat coconut milk. I purchase organic Natural Value Coconut milk which comes in BPA-free cans and has no starches added for thickening.
Here's what you need for my carrot-top broccoli:

1 broccoli head, sliced into 3 broccoli steaks
salt and pepper
2 medium carrots, peeled
1/4 cup full-fat coconut(for regular Paleo, feel free to sub 1-2 T. of nut or seed butter)
steamed beets and cilantro for garnish

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the broccoli head lengthwise into three slabs. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with an aluminum foil tent and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until tender and slightly crisply.

While the broccoli cooks, peel and dice your carrots, and steam them until soft. Set aside to cool off.
When the carrots are cooled, puree them with the coconut milk in a food processor.

To assemble, place broccoli steaks on a bed of greens and spoon on some of the carrot cream. Serve this dish with some form of protein on the side.

Recipe contributed to:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chip platter and paleo autoimmune protocol

The snow hounds demonstrate their form of "play."
My journey to find solutions to my health problems has taken me down back alleys, wrong-way streets and dead-end avenues. Never have I found a smooth-sailing highway to lasting health.

No one can call me anything but determined. I don't give up and continue to persevere. Throughout the summer and early fall, I have shifted to eating a more paleo diet but alas, I seem to have hit another plateau in getting relief from my fibromyalgia and gut problems.

It's not that I haven't gotten some healing from following the paleo diet which shares a lot in common with the anti-candida diet. When I started, I could hardly walk to the corner and back with my pooches. Now, I go on regular backpacking trips. Of course, there is pain associated with these adventures but not of the intolerable kind.

But there seems to be something that is still holding me back in achieving full remission. That is why I am adopting the paleo autoimmune protocol diet (AIP) which many have found to provide an avenue to better health.

Here is where I started on the beginning of my journey:

severe, daily stomach upset, often sending me to bed with pain
unable to tolerate many foods
chronic sinus pain and headaches
widespread pain in muscles, especially hips, legs and shoulders
couldn't exercise without intense pain
pain interrupted sleep
couldn't travel because of pain
intense morning stiffness and pain

Here is where I am today:

some daily stomach upset, sometimes interrupts daily activities
many foods are not tolerated but not as many as before
no chronic sinus pain or headaches
daily pain is generally mild but sometimes more intense
able to exercise and return to many physical activities, although with some increased pain
pain seldom interrupts sleep
able to travel but with increased stiffness and pain
good energy
less morning stiffness and pain

As you can see, I am so much better but have hit a plateau. That is why I am embarking on the paleo autoimmune protocol which means I will be eliminating some foods for the next 30 days. The recipes I will be posting in the next 30 days will reflect the absence of these foods.

Foods to be eliminated include:

eggs (I hadn't eaten these for a decade when I reintroduced them on a limited basis to up my protein.)
dairy (Another food I hadn't eaten for many years but I started making and eating homemade goat yogurt on occasion to up my protein and increase intake of beneficial bacteria.)
nightshades (I eliminated these early on because of a sensitivity.)
nuts and seeds (I don't eat nuts because of sensitivity but I do rely heavily on sunflower and pumpkin seeds and my beloved sunbutter. Goodbye for one month, old friends.)

Chip platter

 I made a veggie chip platter with broccoli guacamole cream for one of my first dinners on the AIP diet. It was delicious and I didn't feel deprived at all. Serve this dish as a main entree for vegans or as a side dish with chicken or fish.

Here is what you need:
(makes 1 huge serving and 2 medium ones)

1 medium beet, peeled
1 medium rutabaga, peeled
2 medium zucchini
1 bunch of broccoli
1/2 avocado
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 sliced onion
salt and pepper

Here is what you do:

Eliminate Permanently Eliminate for 30 Days and Reintroduce Processed Food Eggs Refined Oils & Sugars Nightshades (both vegetables and spices) Grains Nuts Legumes Seeds Soy Dairy - See more at:

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or spritz with olive oil.

Use a mandolin cutter to thinly slice the beet, rutabaga and zucchini. Spread the beet slices on one sheet, the rutabaga on another and zucchini on the last. Drizzle with olive oil and massage in with your hands. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the warmed oven for 30+ minutes. You will need to watch the chips and remove some that get done earlier than others. Zuccchini chips will take the longest.

In the meantime, make your broccoli-guacamole cream. Steam the broccoli until tender. Submerge the broccoli in cold water after cooking. Saute the onion slices. Put the cooled  broccoli, onion, cilantro, lime juice, avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper and dash of water into a food processor. Pulse until mixed and creamed. Add more water if needed to reach desired consistency.

Recipe contributed to:

n a Nutshell
Eliminate Permanently Eliminate for 30 Days and Reintroduce
Processed Food Eggs
Refined Oils & Sugars Nightshades (both vegetables and spices)
Grains Nuts
Legumes Seeds
Soy Dairy
- See more at:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ooey, gooey sunbutter, pear wrap

Bailey boots out Misha and takes over the soft sleeping bag pile.

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are so ooey, gooey and delicious. But who is to say banana is the only fruit that pairs well with peanut butter or in my case, sunbutter. I stuffed a wrap with a filling made with sunbutter and shredded pear and boy, did it hit the spot.

Sunbutter and pear wrap
Here's what you need:

1 T. unsweetened sunbutter
1/2 pear, shredded (no need to peel)
1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 celery stalk, sliced thin
1 flatbread wrap of your choice (I used a cauliflower, sunflower seed flatbread; recipe here:
1 T. sunbutter mixed with 1 tsp. softened coconut butter (or use 1 T. cacao powder mixed with 1 T. coconut oil)
1-2 tsp. raw sunflower seeds or other tolerated seeds or nuts
Optional add-ins: dried fruit such as cranberries

Here's what you do:

Mix sunbutter, pear, carrot, celery and 1 tsp. sunflower seeds in a medium bowl.  Spread mixture on flatbread. Wrap snugly. Cut wrap in half, if desired.

Spread sunbutter/coconut oil mixture on cut halves of wrap. Or as an option, used a chocolate spread, such as cacao powder mixed with sunbutter and coconut oil or other spread of your choice. Sprinkle on additional sunflower seeds or other seeds/nuts of your choice.

Recipe submitted to: