Venturing into the world of healing your digestion and food sensitivity can make it really hard to bake. During the past year, I’ve played with taking all grains, sugar, eggs, and nuts in and out of my diet. That eliminates about 99% of the cookie recipes out there!
I was determined to create some sweet treats that we could enjoy. These little beauties were inspired by my mentor, Andrea Nakayama from Replenish PDX. She calls them camper cookies and when I saw her recipes this summer, I knew I had a starting point! I made a few tweaks and voila, a cookie we both love that loves us back.
The best part is they are simple to make and healthy enough to eat for breakfast.
Coconut Flax Cookies
Why I love it: Simple to make and perfect for satisfying the after-meal sweet craving. Coconut sugar is low glycemic so this sweet treat won’t spike your blood sugar. Plus these cookies have protein-rich flax. These tasty treats are inspired by my mentor, Andrea Nakayama from Replenish PDX. The original recipe is from her EstroZen program.
Serving Size: Makes about 12 cookies
1 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup ground pumpkin seeds OR plantain flour (almond flour works also if it works for you)
½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
pinch of sea salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut nectar (preferred) or maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix the ground flax meal, almond flour, shredded coconut, sea salt and cinnamon until combined. Add the vanilla, coconut nectar, and melted coconut oil. Stir until well combined. Let the dough sit for 5 – 10 minutes so it holds together better.
Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough and roll into a ball. Place each cookie onto your prepared cookie sheet and flatten into a cookie shape. Bake for 11 – 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely to room temperature before eating. They might crumble if you eat them too soon so let them cool!
Tips from the Kitchen: If cocoa or carob powder works for you, you can add 1 to 2 TBSP of cocoa or carob powder for a chocolate-kissed treat.
Looking for more allergy-friendly idea? I’ve also a big fan of these little Sweet Potato Muffins from Tessa the Domestic Diva. I’ve subbed pumpkin puree for the sweet potato with equally good results. They come out like doughnut holes with a touch of sweet. Perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.
You might know that I’ve been experimenting with eliminating all grains from my diet since this summer. Not just gluten but all grains including oats, quinoa and buckwheat. It’s part of my quest to heal my digestive tract and it does seem to be making a difference. So I’m very clear here, I’m not saying that everyone needs to give up grains, it’s just what I’m trying right now!
I’m telling you all of this because I found eliminating all grains to be very tricky at first. I had my head wrapped around gluten-free without too many problems but no grains….ugh! Oats and quinoa especially since I enjoyed them in the morning and used them to make homemade snack bars. We eat homemade energy bars a lot since we’re often on the go or need a quick energy bite before or after a run or bike ride. I wanted a way to make them without grains.
What’s a girl to do? Start experimenting in the kitchen, of course.
Luckily, I got some great inspiration from my mentor, Andrea Nakayama at Replenish PDX. In her EstroZen Detox this past fall, she shared a recipe for Flaxie Maxie Bars and I fell in love!
I talk about flax seeds a lot because they are rich in omega 3’s which help reduce inflammation. They also help prevent cancer, regulate blood pressure, and help remove excess estrogen from your body. Flax also has soluble fiber which can help keep you regular no matter what your digestive issues are. Yeah Flax!
If you’re new to flax, there are a few things you should know. Your body can’t digest the whole seed. It won’t hurt you to eat it whole but it will just go right through undigested. It’s best to grind it first to make sure it’s bioavailable. You can buy the whole flax seed (golden or brown) and grind them yourself in a little coffee grinder (sans coffee) or a Magic or NutriBullet. I typically grind a cup or two at a time. Flax can go rancid so it’s best to keep it in the freezer or fridge.
The easy way to add flax to your diet is too add 1 tablespoon to your breakfast. I use it to make a grain-free porridge or add it to my smoothies. A fun way to get more flax is with these Flax Snack Bars which were inspired by Andrea’s Flaxie Maxie Recipe.
Flax Snack Bars
These are grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free BUT big on taste… I promise! These tasty treats are inspired by my mentor, Andrea Nakayama from Replenish PDX
1 cup seeds of your choice (sunflower, raw pumpkin seeds)
1 cup nuts of your choice (walnuts, almond, pecans, cashews or mix or sub more seeds if allergic to nuts)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup fresh ground flax seeds
1/2 cup goji berries or other dried fruit
1/2 cup nut butter of choice (almond, sunflower, cashew, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a few pinches of sea salt
6 -10 drops liquid stevia (start with 6 drops and add more if you like it sweeter)
Directions: Line an 8×8 glass dish with parchment paper. Put the nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, ground flax and goji berries in the food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground. Don’t go to long or you’ll have nut butter!
Add the ½ cup nut butter and pulse a few more times. Add the coconut oil along with remaining ingredients. Process until well combined. Press mixture into the glass dish (on top of the parchment paper).
Chill in refrigerator for 1- 2 hours, until mixture hardens. Cut into bars and store in refrigerator. If you plan to pack them for lunch or a trip, store them in the freezer before you go since they will soften if they are not refrigerated.
It’s cold where I live. Really cold. I’m guessing you might be in the same boat. In my kitchen that translates into cooking foods that warm us up from the inside. I love using Indian spices like curry powder blends, cayenne and ginger to keep us warm and nourished even when it’s 1 degree and snowy outside.
My winter favorite is blended soups. On the weekend, I cook up big batches of them. My “recipe” isn’t much of a recipe. Throw a bunch of root veggies in a pot, boil until soft, add some spices, and blend.
I admit I rarely measure or even remember exactly what I did but they always turn out delicious. You really can’t go wrong!
But for the Nourish Detox, I knew I had to pay a little closer attention and actually write down some recipes. The above “recipe” certainly wouldn’t cut it for the Detox Recipe Book.
One of my creations and current fav’s is this Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup. It has all of my favorite spices (curry, coriander, cumin, and fresh ginger) plus coconut milk and cashews to make it creamy. Even if you don’t like cooked carrots, I have a feeling you will like this soup.
Ready for the best part?
It takes me about 10 minutes to prep it (chop the carrots, measure the spices, open the can of coconut milk), about 15 to 20 minutes to let the carrots cook (you can go do something else while the magic is happening on the stove) and blend it up.
Done. Dinner is ready plus you’ll have a delicious lunch or dinner for the next night.
And this recipe was a big hit with everyone in the Nourish Detox. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Carrot Ginger Soup
Why I love it: This soups tastes creamy and decadent but it’s 100% good for you. It’s easy enough to make that you can have dinner on the table in no time after work, especially if you chop the carrots ahead of time.
8-10 carrots, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 can (15 oz) full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup raw cashews
2 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
pinch of cayenne
fresh ground black pepper
Heat a medium stock-pot over medium-high heat. Add all of the ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the carrots are tender.
Transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and let it simmer for a little while longer or pour it right from the blender into your bowl or mug. Adjust the salt and other spices if needed.
P.S. If you don’t like carrots, try this recipe with sweet potatoes or other winter squash.
Earlier this year, I started tweaking and experimenting with what I was eating to get to the bottom of digestive issues and other mysterious symptoms (see this post for more details). One of my food experiments was to take out all grains. Yes, all grains.
Gluten-free was always pretty easy for me to wrap my head around but eliminating all grains was a bigger mental hurdle for me especially when it comes to quinoa, millet and oats. But I willing to try it so I started stalking paleo blogs and got busy in the kitchen.
Smoothies were a great breakfast option but once the cooler temps arrived in autumn, I wanted something warm in a bowl. I got inspiration from my mentor, Andrea Nakayama at Replenish PDX with a grain-free porridge.
When I first saw her recipe, I was not inspired! It sounded like a big bowl of goop since flax and chia absorb liquid and get well, goopy, like an egg. But I’m always up for a food adventure so I gave it a try.
Guess what? I loved it. I’ve been eating some variation of this just about every morning since September. I thought maybe it would only appeal to my tastebuds but it was a pretty big hit in my Fall Delicious Detox so I’m guessing you might like it, too.
The bonus… it’s really easy to make. You can even pre-mix the ground flax, chia seeds and shredded coconut at the start of the week in a big jar. Pour it in your bowl like cereal, addd hot water, plus any toppings you like and go!
It also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse. The flax and chia seeds are rich in omega 3’s which help reduce inflammation. Plus they have fiber and protein. Having this combination of fat, fiber and protein for breakfast will keep you going strong all morning!
If you’re looking for a little breakfast inspiration, give it a whirl and let me know what you think. And promise me that you’ll get creative with this…
Add any nuts or seeds that you like and use your favorite seasonal fresh fruit. Consider this recipe a starting point to create your own breakfast masterpiece!
Coconut Flax Porridge with Berries (Grain-Free)
*Inspired by Andrea Nakayama from Replenish PDX*
3 TBSP unsweetened shredded coconut
2 TBSP raw flax seeds, ground
1 1/2 TBSP chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup boiling water
1 TBSP coconut or nut milk
1/2 to 1 TBSP sunflower, pumpkin, or almond butter
3 TBSP fresh or frozen blueberries or 1 TBSP dried goji berries (or both)
2-3 drops liquid vanilla stevia or drizzle of coconut nectar or raw honey (optional), to taste
Mix the shredded coconut, ground flax, chia seeds, cinnamon in a bowl. Cover with the boiling water. Let it sit for a a minute or so to thicken. Stir in the coconut milk, sunflower butter, and berries. Sweeten with liquid stevia or a drizzle of coconut nectar if desired.
Tips from the Kitchen: You can pre-mix a big batch of the coconut, flax, chia and cinnamon at the start of the week and just add the hot water and other ingredients each morning.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time.
You might know that when my husband, Paul, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009 we made the switch to a plant-based diet. No meat, dairy, eggs, or fish.
So many aspects of my health shifted when I made the switch. I had more energy, clearer thinking, stronger nails, no congestion and I rarely got sick. We were both pretty devoted to our plant-based diet and it served us well for many years.
At the time, I attributed feeling so good to not eating animal protein since that was the most obvious change.
Looking back, I think it was part of it but I believe the bigger reason was because we started eating whole foods and cut out inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and gluten.
Fast forward to this past summer. Although Paul was cancer-free, he was still having some lingering digestive issues that we couldn’t figure out so we began exploring and experimenting. At about the same time, I began studying Functional Nutrition with Andrea Nakayama from Replenish PDX. With Andrea, I started learning more about the digestive tract, gut health, and autoimmunity.
To be blunt, I realized I had some pretty serious digestive issues myself. I looked healthy on the outside but my insides weren’t so great.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis a few month’s after Paul’s cancer diagnosis. At the time, I just accepted it since in the face of cancer, it seemed minor. Hashi’s is an autoimmune condition that presents as hypothryoid (under-active thyroid). It’s very common and easily “treated” by prescribing a synthetic hormone, typically Synthroid, which is what I did at the time.
As I learned more, I finally understood that my body was literally attacking my thyroid. My immune system was attacking me instead of protecting me. It’s a sign of much deeper issues and I knew I had to the get to the root of it to truly heal.
Autoimmune conditions are almost always triggered by stress (I had that in spades with Paul’s cancer) and digestive issues. I put the puzzle pieces together and realized that I had major gut issues.. eek! Honestly, I didn’t know I wasn’t normal until I started to understand what proper digestion could and should be like.
Full disclosure and maybe more than you want to know about me but here goes. For as long as I can remember I had what I jokingly called “fast moving digestion”. Yup, food went right through me and yup, I’m talking about poop so buckle your seat belt!
It wasn’t so bad that it was debilitating and it’s all I knew so I thought it was normal. It’s not like we usually sit around the dinner table talking about poop so how are we supposed to know what’s normal? I had asked a few doctors about it but I think since I was casual about it, so were they.
Turns out, I have what’s called leaky gut or gut permeability. The reality is, most of us probably do to some degree. In a nutshell, it means that food isn’t properly digested and it’s getting out into your blood stream. When that happens, your body thinks it’s an invader and your immune system attacks.
This daily fire alarm for your immune system can present as symptoms all over your body like digestive issues, fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, allergies, anxiety, depression, muscle aches, brain fog and more. It’s kind of like having the first day of a cold every day.
This is a major problem for 3 main reasons:
1. You feel kind of or very lousy every single day (see the list of symptoms above)
2. Your immune system is so busy fighting the “food invaders”, it’s too distracted to fight real invaders (viruses and bacteria) so you end up catching every cold and flu that passes your way.
3. Eventually your body starts to get confused and begins to attack self and that means autoimmune conditions like Hashi’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
My symptoms were poor digestion, my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, fatigue, a rash on my right foot and red, irritated eyes. Prior to studying Functional Nutrition, I never put it together that these symptoms were indeed a manifestation of my deeper gut and immune system issues. I treated or dealt with them all separately but never dug deep enough to see the connection.
Learning all of this was a huge awakening for me, especially since autoimmune conditions are rampant in my Mom’s family.
As you might guess, my healing journey started with food to see if specific foods were causing my GI issues. I experimented with taking foods out (like grains and beans) and adding foods back in (like fish and grass-fed beef). This was really hard for me. I was pretty committed to the idea that a plant-based diet, gluten-free grains, and beans were ideal for most people.
But I was more committed to healing myself, being open-minded, and exploring the options.
In addition to the food adventures, I also dove into gut healing big time. The list of what I did is long so I’ll save that for a future post but it has all been part of my healing journey.
This was not a fast process and at times it was very frustrating but around late August, the pieces started to come together. My digestion started to regulate (yup, talking poop again). My energy felt stable all day. The rash I had on my foot went away. My red eyes started to clear up.
It’s still a journey for me. Healing the gut is never over but I feel great about where I am with it now. As for food, it’s still shifting and evolving. I know for sure that gluten and dairy are out for me. No negotiations there.
I cut way back on sugar, even natural sweeteners like maple syrup and higher glycemic fruits like bananas. I’ve learned to use stevia and coconut nectar to keep my sweet tooth satisfied.
I’m still 99% grain free but have started experimenting a little bit with the seed grains like quinoa and buckwheat. Same goes for beans. Mostly out trying them here and there.
As for meat, well, I never loved it and I still don’t so I don’t eat it much. When I do, it’s locally raised and direct from a farmer. I have felt really good with some fish like wild-caught salmon, cod and sardines (yes, sardines!) back in so I’m sticking with that.
I also added in a lot more fermented foods like raw sauerkraut and kombucha for a daily dose of good bacteria. And of course, I still eat tons of veggies. That will never change.
It’s been quite a journey and one I needed to take to shift my own health and to give me the knowledge and clarity to best support my clients.
I don’t share this with you because I think you need to do exactly what I’ve done. Actually, the opposite is true. We are all unique and the food that works for you might not work for me and vice versa.
I share this with you because I hope you’ll start to tune in to what your body is telling you. Symptoms are simply signs in the road that something isn’t quite right.
It’s like when you first open up a jigsaw puzzle and spill all the pieces out on the table. It’s overwhelming and hard to know where to start but once you begin connecting one piece to the next, the full picture starts to emerge.
I think our health is always shifting and we need to be ready and willing to shift with it.
Start listening with the knowledge that your body has the innate ability to heal itself and it’s never too late to start.
I’m on a serious kitchen kick right now making homemade nut butters. It all started because I wanted pumpkin seed butter and I couldn’t buy it locally so I fired up my food processor and decided to make it myself.
Holy Wow! Homemade nut butters are so divine!
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking that making homemade nut butter sounds like crazy talk– stick with me. It’s actually super easy and fun. All it requires is a food processor, some nuts, a little bit of patience and time.
The basic “recipe” is put your nuts in your food processor and press start.
For real. That’s it.
But I do have a few tips for you…
The reason it takes time and patience is because it takes a while for the nuts to break down. First they’ll look like this and you want to let it keep going.
When I’m making pumpkin seed butter, I actually leave the kitchen and just let it keep running while I do other things.
Continue to scrape down the bowl every so often and let it keep processing until the butter is soft and creamy. Eventually it will turn into the most creamy and delicious nut butter you’ve ever had!
Softer nuts like cashews and walnuts will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Harder nuts and seeds like almonds and pumpkin seeds might take as long as 15 to 20 minutes.
If you nut butter is really stuck and not getting creamy, you can add some melted coconut oil to help it along.
I like to use raw nuts but you can certainly toast them first.
Get fancy by adding spices and flavorings. I love cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla. Check out the gourmet nut butters like Justin’s for inspiration.
Add sea salt to taste and if you like it a little sweeter, add liquid stevia or coconut nectar until your sweet tooth is smiling.
My recent creation was Cashew Coconut Nut Butter. This is seriously dessert on a spoon! My sister-in-law called it cashew crack.
Your biggest challenge won’t be making the recipe, it will be not eating the whole jar on the first day.
Cashew Coconut Butter Recipe
Why I love it: Store bought cashew butter is crazy expensive. This version is easy to make and divine! Fire up your food processor and let me know what you think!
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Add the cashews and coconut to your food processor. Blend until it’s creamy and smooth. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. Don’t stop early, let it keep running! You may need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the sea salt, vanilla and cinnamon and pulse to combine. If you like it sweeter or saltier, adjust to your tastebuds! Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!
I know Halloween has past but I never get tired of pumpkin. I stock up on canned pumpkin when it goes on sale and use it as much as I can.
I typically open a can and keep some in a glass container in the fridge so I can add it to my morning cereal or smoothie. I even use it as a spread on flax crackers or chickpea bread… mix it with almond butter or sunflower butter and you won’t miss the sugary jam one bit!
Pumpkin’s orange color lets you know that it’s high in beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant that helps repair cells. Plus it’s high in fiber, iron and Vitamin A.
I knew I wanted to create a fall-inspired smoothie or two for the Fall Delicious Detox so I fired up my Vitamix and started experimenting. After a few tries, the Pumpkin Coconut Chai Smoothie was born. YUM!
It was a hit during the Detox, a few people even told me it was one of their favorite recipes, so I decided to share it with everyone.
I’ve been using coconut milk (from a can) in place of other dairy-free milks lately so you’ll see it in the smoothie recipe. Coconut milk is antimircrobrial and great for gut healing plus it’s packed with vitamins and minerals. If you don’t want to use coconut milk, you can certainly sub almond milk or your dairy-free milk of choice (check out the note at the end of the recipe).
I really love all the delicious chai tea spices, especially with pumpkin, so you’ll find them here. If you don’t like cardamom or nutmeg (or don’t have them), skip them or replace them with more cinnamon or a spice you do love.
If you’ve been to my cooking classes, you know that I consider recipes a guide but not a bible so use this as inspiration and get creative in the kitchen! And don’t let the long ingredient list scare you, it’s the spices and they take no time to add.
And one last note about this recipe. There’s nothing frozen in it so it will be room temperature which is how I like my smoothies. It’s actually best for your body and digestion to avoid cold drinks but if you prefer your smoothies cold, feel free to use a frozen banana or add ice.
Pumpkin Coconut Chai Smoothie
Serves: 1 good portion for breakfast or 2 for a snack
½ cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened) or cooked butternut squash or sweet potato
1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 – 1/2 banana (small piece, for sweetness)
½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder (or other protein powder)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
liquid stevia to taste (if you like it sweeter)
Directions: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t have Sunwarrior , you can leave it out and increase the vanilla and add a few drops stevia.
Is you are missing any of the spices, just leave them out or substitute with more cinnamon. I like this smoothie room temperature, especially when it’s cold outside but feel free to add 5-6 cubes of ice or use a frozen banana if you prefer it cold! Best enjoyed fresh but it will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
*Note: To sub almond milk or other non-dairy milk, use 1 1/2 to 2 cups almond milk in place of the coconut milk and 1 1/1 cups water.
I really love thick smoothies. In fact, I love to eat my smoothie from a bowl with a spoon. You can do this with any smoothie, just use less liquid or add more chia seeds to thicken it up. Here’s the version I had this morning (topped with goji berries, chopped figs and more coconut).