Spicy Black Bean Soup

blackbeansThis delicious black bean soup has just enough of a kick to warm you up on a cold night. Black beans contain lots of healthy fiber and protein as well as a wide array of vitamins and minerals like Folate, Vitamin B1, Magnesium, and Iron.

Serves 4-5

Note: If you have leftover soup try freezing it in a glass mason jar. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of airspace at the top to help prevent the glass jar from breaking during freezing.

 

  • 2 cups dry black turtle beans
  • 4 cups water + extra for soaking beans
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbs cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans in a large bowl with enough water to fully cover for 8-24 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. Place beans and 4 cups of cold water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until beans begin to soften. Add the broth, tomatoes, and spices (except for salt and pepper) and simmer for 30 more minutes. Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper for 5-7 minutes until vegetables start to soften and onion becomes translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes, then remove from heat. Add the veggies to the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice. Discard the bay leaves. Try serving with sliced avocado or small amount of organic sour cream.

 

Paleo Persimmon Cookies

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These cookies are a winter tradition for me and I have made them almost every year without fail for the past 17 years. The recipe is from my Great-Aunt, via my Grandmother, and is a family favorite. I adapted the recipe to be grain and dairy free and they are just as delicious as the ones I grew up loving.

Note: The recipe calls for Hachiya persimmons, which are the tear-dropped shaped variety that is used mostly for baking. Hachiya persimmons  are extremely astringent until they are VERY ripe and they will usually need to ripen on the counter for 1 to 2 weeks before they are ready to use. Don’t worry if they develop small black spots on the outer skin, this is common while they are ripening.

Makes 2.5 dozen cookies

  • 2 very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare the persimmons by removing the stems and peeling them. Place the inner persimmon flesh in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the persimmon pulp to a small bowl (you should have 1 cup of pulp) and mix in the baking soda; let stand. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, blend the coconut oil and sweetener using a hand mixer. Mix in the eggs and persimmon pulp mixture. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the pecans and raisins. Oil two cookie sheets and spoon the cookie dough onto the sheets. Bake the cookies for 35-40 minutes, or until done.

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Change Your Diet, Transform Your Life

healthy-cup-fruits-raspberries.jpgA recent article written by Danielle Walker, author of the popular Paleo cookbook, Against All Grain, tells an inspiring story of how she completely turned around her health and her life through dietary changes. Walker suffered from a debilitating digestive illness called Ulcerative Colitis and found herself in constant pain and unable to care for her family. After working with a naturopathic doctor and eliminating grains, dairy, refined sugars, and other foods that she was sensitive to, she was able to get off her medications and prevent surgeries and further hospitalizations.

paleo-healthy-dietThe Paleo diet has gotten a lot of attention in the popular press lately and it can be easy to dismiss as simply one more fad diet. The basic premise of Paleo is to eat unprocessed whole foods and to avoid grains, dairy, and other foods that tend to promote inflammation. Inflammation in the body can cause chronic pain and has been shown to trigger a myriad of chronic diseases. I have personally seen the benefits of the Paleo diet in people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). By replacing inflammatory foods with healthy, whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, lean protein, and good fats, you can build a strong foundation of health and wellness.

Dietary changes unfortunately aren’t usually a quick fix and it can take months of sticking to a new plan before the true results become obvious. However, with patience and motivation, the benefits of diet are often profound and long lasting.

I often recommend a basic whole-foods-based diet like the Whole30, which cuts out sugar, diary, alcohol, grains, legumes, and processed foods in favor of vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, nuts, and seeds. Although it is billed as a 30 day detox and diet plan, many people find that they feel so well eating this way that they incorporate these changes into their long-term eating choices.

Some people with autoimmune diseases find that they feel best when they also avoid tree nuts and vegetables in the nightshade family (i.e. peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes). Although these foods do not cause inflammation in everyone, some people find that they don’t tolerate them well, especially when their disease is in a flare. This diet is called the autoimmune paleo protocol, and although it can be challenging to stick to, many people experience a significant decrease in pain and other symptoms when they follow it.

There are many variations on healthy, whole-foods-based diets. If you are interested in finding an individualized diet plan to help you feel your best, consider working with a naturopathic doctor or a nutritionist who is trained in whole-foods nutrition. Practitioners who are trained in nutrition can help make sure that you are eating a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informational. It is not meant to represent a treatment, prevention, or cure for a specific disease or health condition and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Please never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

IMG_3281These grain-free pumpkin pancakes are delicious any time of the year, but are an especially satisfying treat on cool Autumn mornings. Try serving them with a small amount of Grade B pure maple syrup and chopped hazelnuts. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C and a wonderful way to eat seasonally.

Serves 4

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin puree or 2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • 3 Tbs butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbs honey (optional)
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • approx 1 Tbs coconut oil for cooking

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add pumpkin puree, honey, and 3 Tbs melted butter or oil and mix well. In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and blend well. Melt a small amount of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. When the skillet is hot but the oil is not smoking, pour 1/3 cup portions of pancake batter into the pan so that the pancakes fill the pan but don’t touch.

Cover the skillet with a lid and allow the pancakes to cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes before flipping to cook the second side. Test the pancakes before flipping by sliding a spatula under them. They are ready to flip when the bottom has browned and the spatula easily slides under. Cover and cook the second side for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until both sides are browned but not burnt, and the pancake is no longer wet in the middle. The pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven (150-200 degrees F) while you cook the rest of the batter. Add more coconut oil to the skillet as needed so the pancakes don’t stick.

Note: Grain-free pancakes are more delicate than typical pancakes. They burn more easily and should be cooked at a lower temperature. They cook more evenly when the batter is carefully spread out in the pan with the back of a spoon.

Improving Fertility Through Diet

pregnantCan nutrition effect fertility? A small study shows that women who eat diets higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates may have a higher chance of becoming pregnant. The study, released at an annual meeting of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at a group of women undergoing fertility treatments and saw that the women who ate more protein had higher rates of pregnancy than those who ate higher amounts of carbs.

According to study researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Russell, director of the Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine, “Protein is essential for good quality embryos and better egg quality, it turns out”. This might not sound like a surprise to some, but this diet recommendation is another possible tool for women who are trying to become pregnant.

Good-quality proteins include organic and free-range poultry, pork, beef, lamb, and eggs, along with beans, nuts, lentils, and organic dairy. A healthy diet should also include lots and lots of fresh vegetables!

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Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding

IMG_3075Did you know chocolate contains powerful heart healthy antioxidants; as well as selenium, calcium, and magnesium; and an array of B-vitamins? Studies show that eating small amounts of dark chocolate may reduce risk of stroke, heart disease, and high cholesterol due to cocoa’s high flavanoid content. And you probably don’t need a study to tell you about chocolate’s mood boosting properties, although it has been shown to improve anxiety and depression, helping you to feel more calm and content.

Here is a decadent recipe that is sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings. This dark chocolate pudding is paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, and free of refined sugars. It also contains chia seed, an amazing source of fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup Coconut Cream (coconut milk is also fine here)
  • 1 ripe Banana
  • 1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs raw Honey
  • 3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the chia seeds and blend on medium speed until smooth. Pour into a medium sized container and mix in the chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Grain Free Banana Blueberry Muffins

BlueberryMuffinsThese grain-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly muffins are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than their wheat-filled counterparts and just as delicious. One word…YUM!

Makes 18 muffins

  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, eggs, almond butter, oil, vanilla, and honey until smooth. Add in the flours, baking soda, and sea salt and mix again. Gently fold in the blueberries. Place paper liners in muffin tin and spoon in batter so that each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

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Grain Free Pancakes

IMG_1544Whether you are gluten-free, paleo, or just looking for a healthier alternative to your usual breakfast routine, these grain-free pancakes are a delicious way to start your morning! An added bonus: almond flour is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein than wheat flour, contains heart healthy fats, and has an amazing buttery taste.

  • 1/2 cup milk (cow, goat, almond, hemp, or coconut)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 to 3 tsp coconut oil (for cooking)

Mix all ingredients except the oil together in a large bowl. Warm 1 tsp of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter into skillet, spreading and shaping with the back of a spoon as needed for uniform thickness. Watch the pancakes carefully as they cook, grain free pancakes tend to cook quicker and burn faster than their wheat counterparts. Flip the cakes after bubbles rise to the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes. Cook on the second side for another 1 to 2 minutes then transfer to a warm (200 degrees Fahrenheit) oven while you cook the remaining batter. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Serve these pancakes warm with your favorite toppings. I added a drizzle of raw honey, fresh bartlett pears, and roasted hazelnuts to mine.

Walnut Stuffed Figs

These are a beautiful treat for late summer parties.

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Serves 5.

Stuffed Figs

  • 10 fresh ripe Figs (I used Mission variety, but any kind will do)
  • 1/2 cup Walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground Nutmeg

Vanilla Cashew Creme

  • 1 1/2 cups raw Cashews
  • 6 pitted Dates
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates and the cashews for the vanilla cashew cream in a bowl. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients and let soak for 30 minutes. Slice the figs and arrange in a glass baking dish. Chop walnuts into small pieces and mix with salt and spices in a bowl. Make a depression in the figs with your finger or a spoon and then spoon spiced nut mixture into the fig halves. Bake figs for approximately 20 minutes or until they have slightly softened.

While the figs are baking, remove and strain the cashews and dates, making sure to reserve the soaking water. Place all ingredients for the vanilla cream in the food processor and blend, adding 1 Tbsp of the soaking water at a time until the mixture is the consistency of smooth frosting. Set aside.

Serve the figs warm and drizzled with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Spiced Date Rolls

These delicious and healthy date rolls are perfect for sharing.

Makes about 1 dozen.

  • 1 cup Dates
  • 1 cup raw Almonds
  • zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened Coconut
  • 1/2 inch fresh Ginger root, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs water

Place all ingredients except for water and coconut into a food processor. Blend while adding the water a small amount at a time until ingredients form a smooth paste. Place shredded coconut onto a plate. Scoop out a small amount of date paste and roll in your palm to form a 1 inch ball. Roll the ball in the coconut and set aside. Repeat until all the date paste has been used.IMG_0518