Sunday, October 26, 2014

Apples to Apples: A healthy Autumn dessert!

I'm obsessed with everything fall.  The weather, the holidays, the decorations, the food.  Suddenly its ok to eat things you wouldn't normally eat during the year- pumpkin, candy corn, turkey leftovers, cranberry sauce and stuffing.  Like seriously, find me somebody who regularly eats cranberry sauce.  Do these people exist?

I won't deny I tend to have a sweet tooth.  I don't go overboard with it, but there is no denying I need something sweet in my day.  Whether this is a piece of dark chocolate, fresh picked strawberries, or baked sweet potato fries topped with cinnamon- there has to be something sweet in my day!  Recently, I have been craving apples. I used to shudder at the thought of eating a granny smith; now they are one of my favorites!!

I needed to make a paleo friendly dessert for a party, and I decided apples were the best fit. I wanted to make a gluten free paleo apple crisp that wasn't too sweet but tasty too.  Fortunately, there are a lot of options available for those who are trying to stay gluten free.  Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, leaky gut, or have an autoimmune disease, gluten free is the way to go.

To touch lightly on the topic, gluten should be avoided by people with the above stated conditions because it causes gut irritation, stimulates the immune system (in a bad way), increases gut permeability, and thus causes inflammation.  Gluten causes direct gut cell wall injury that can take anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks to repair after it is consumed.  Fo those with celiac disease, it can take years of banning gluten before the intestines completely heal.  For healthy individuals without celiac disease or gut sensitivity, the damage to individual cells and junctions between them that can be caused by gluten is seemingly quick to heal; anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks.   So healthy individuals will usually be asymptomatic from exposure to gluten.

Just to be clear about gluten sensitivity, it is extremely undiagnosed. Gluten intolerance is expected to affect up to 20% of the American population, which should give us a clue that our grains are not the same our grandparents grew up with.   In addition, it is estimated 1 in every 100 Americans suffer from celiac disease but only 5% are diagnosed.  Why is this being unaddressed in the medical world?

Fortunately, more and more institutions and restaurants are offering gluten free options for patrons.  And more and more recipes are available to navigate your way through gluten-free.  My gluten-free apple crisp is a great start- and gets rave reviews!

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

4 cups apples-use a variety! (peeled, cored and sliced thin)
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tsp of lemon juice (I fresh squeeze a lemon)
2 tbsp pure honey
1 tbsp of coconut sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice

Crumble Topping

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cashew meal or flour
4 tbsp ground walnuts
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine apples, coconut milk, coconut sugar, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice.  In a separate small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the crumble topping.  Mix until crumbly.  If too dry you can add more coconut oil. 

Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and pour mixture into pan.  Evenly sprinkle the crumble topping over the apple mixture.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are tender.

Serve and enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Acorn Squash Delight!

What to do with an acorn squash? Good question. I have never cooked one before and it has been sitting in my refrigerator for the past week.  But I was determined to make a yummy and healthy creation- especially knowing how nutritious acorn squash is!!

Did you know acorn squash is more nutrient-dense than all other summer squash?! It's rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidant compounds.  The health benefits are numerous: the ability to boost your immune system, prevent certain types of cancer, improve vision, protect the skin,  strengthen the bones, reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, and maintain proper circulation. 

The chart below gives you the exact nutritional information for acorn squash and all the squashes- so you can see how they all add up!

Nutritional ValuesAcorn SquashButternut SquashHubbard SquashSpaghetti SquashPumpkinDried Pumpkin & Squash Seeds
Dietary Fiber2g3g0g0g1g1g
VitaminsA, B1, B6, C & FolateA, B6, C, E, Folate & NiacinA, B1, B6 & CC, B6, Niacin & Pantothenic AcidA, B1, B6, C, E, Folate, Niacin & RiboflavinK
MineralsPotassium, Manganese, MagnesiumPotassium, Manganese, Magnesium, CalciumPotassium, Manganese, MagnesiumManganesePotassium, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, PhosphorusManganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Copper, Zinc

So this is seriously the most delicious recipe ever.  My husband was in love.  And only required 5 ingredients.  I used a little inspiration from Paula Dean's brown sugar rub (who I still think is a good person) and a little chicken salad creation I made a couple days ago. Enjoy!!

Acorn Squash Delight

1 acorn squash 
Brown sugar rub: 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp maple syrup or 1 tbsp honey (I used honey)
Protein filling- I used chicken salad made with organic chicken, organic whole milk maple cream yogurt, organic dill, and pesto

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Set aside.  Make brown sugar rub. Coat the acorn squash (not the skin).  Put on baking sheet (with aluminum foil if preferred).  Bake for 60 minutes.

Fill the inside!!!  I mixed shredded chicken, yogurt, pesto and dill.  Now you have a delicious, healthy, low carb and calorie meal!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pregnancy Diet Bloopers!

They weren't kidding when they said there would be weird cravings and aversions when your pregnant.

No, I'm not craving salty pickles or mayonnaise or Fritos. Not the usual hot, spicy, creamy, smooth textures.  Rather, I have been craving really all the stuff I've always liked: salads, chicken, fruit, smoothies.  The abnormals? Cheese, cheese and more cheese!!!

Now guys I'm lactose intolerant. In no way does that mean I have kept ice cream, frozen yogurt, and cheese out of my resume.  This girl has a Menchies frozen yogurt member card, and she is not afraid to use it.  But rather than get the sweets, I have been indulging my calcium craving with raw milk goat, cow, sheep cheese from Whole Foods, Earth Origins, and farmers market alike.  It's been fun to experiment and try different cheeses that I have never tried before.  In addition, I have found that I don't have a problem with raw milk and unpasteurized cheeses. And fortunately, the raw/unpasteurized milk and cheese during pregnancy myth has been debunked by numerous sources, including the book I reviewed in a previous post Beautiful Babies.  In fact, you are more likely to get listeria and dangerous bacteria from pasteurized milk cheeses that have been improperly pasteurized. This gets discussed at, where they also discuss great cheeses to choose from if you are pregnant or just appreciate the health benefits of consuming raw and unpasteurized dairy products!  In addition, you can see the benefits of raw milk and all that it protects and promotes at  It explains the pasteurization and homogenization process and how it destroys vitamins and interferes with calcium absorption, as well as causes nutrient degradation.

Now having been on a strict paleo diet for health reasons this summer, I did feel really guilty when I felt like I was giving part of this diet up (many pale followers omit dairy).  When the nausea came roaring in, and I was at work about to keel over, I ran to grab saltines.  Devastated by the ingredients listed, I was determined to not eat them again.  Until I was nauseas again 10 minutes later.

Giving up the things I cannot control has been part of my pregnancy journey.  I have decided to follow a diet that I believe is most beneficial for my health and what I think is best for the baby, and I gauge how I feel to stay on track.  This includes staying gluten free and soy free, and keeping sweets at a minimum, which I will explain in later posts.  If I need to adjust this list, based on how I feel I will.  I am a firm believe that pregnancy is not an excuse to go crazy wild on an eating-whatever-you-want escapade.  This is the time it really counts. I'm not just responsible for me...

I'm responsible for the baby inside of me.

The times I've had my hands clutching the toilet, and when I have gotten random reflex and unrelenting's all ok.  God's there, he is seeing me through every part of the journey, all the ups and downs, all the things I haven't expected. All the times I am scared I could be doing something wrong or that I have made a mistake.  The times when I fear I could be hurting the baby.  He is with me.  For this, I am thankful.

Ultimately, He is in control.