Summer Sweet

23 Jun

No, that doesn’t say sweat.
It’s summer! Warm weather, sunshine, reduced responsibilities…this calls for a  treat!
It was difficult to choose which dessert I’d make from my long list (pinterest board) of desserts I’ve been wanting to try. Somehow I settled on popsicles; likely because my popsicle molds were brightly mocking me from my pantry, having sat unused for at least six months.
Out of the hundred or so popsicle recipes I’ve saved, I picked out the Berry Cheesecake from this compilation by weedumandreap because it seemed the most kid friendly out of all the deliciousness going on there.
This is a true indulgence, considering I bought real cultured cream cheese (Nancy’s) instead of going the non-dairy route. Frozen, organic blueberries from Costco saved me at least an arm, if not a leg, from the cost of 2.5 cups of berries. I went with just blueberries, because that’s what I like when it comes to cheesecake. I subbed raw honey for the maple syrup, only because I forgot to take my empty syrup bottle on my last trip to Marlene’s.


When I got to this point in the process, it was more difficult than anticipated to resist the urge to grab a spoon and have at it. I resolved to licking the (other) spatula for the time being.


Half of the recipe fit my popsicle molds, with perhaps 3 or so tablespoons leftover. Which led to…


Yep, shameless.

Enough to satisfy my sweet tooth long enough for them to actually freeze.
Now I’m debating whether or not to tell the kids about them…
What are you waiting for? Go get a sunburn tan and make some popsicles…because I probably won’t share.


5 May

I’ve learned a lot over the last few months, and I don’t mean the plethora of information stuffed into my college-mode brain. I’ve learned to listen to my body, closely.

Change is hard, on so many levels. It’s hard to change the way I eat, hard to adjust to stress loads, and hard to slow down when my body is screaming at me to do so. I’ll start with the more prosaic lesson learned- and that’s my attempt at incorporating more grains into my diet…mostly due to added stress and seeking comfort in delicious food. It didn’t work. With my continued workout habits and more toast, sandwiches, and oatmeal, I gained inches in places I’d rather not. So the “here and there” bread has gone back to the “rare occasion.”

Then there’s this running thing I’ve been doing. To compensate for my ungainly gains, I decided that I needed a short term goal to keep my motivation up. About a month ago I signed up for my first half marathon. I purchased new shoes that would enable me to train and run on pavement. I ran more in that month than I had the previous three months combined. I saw improvements in my endurance as I ran farther and farther. I researched about fueling for long distance running, carb loading, paleo compatibility for distance runners, the works. I was prepared mentally and physically to finish the race. It wasn’t about getting an awesome time. Running the race was about finishing. If I didn’t absolutely hate it, then that time would be my base to improve upon for the next race. Six days before the race, I came down with strep throat. The first day, I was still optimistic that it was just one of those 24 hour bugs that I’d get over with and recover just fine. I stuffed myself full of OTC drugs and dragged my sick self to physics. I wasn’t going to miss a lab for some silly illness! The second day, that lovely streptococcal pharyngitis knocked me on my arse, to put it lightly. I do not recall ever feeling so miserable. I missed class the rest of the week, which was previously unthinkable. I’ve always been under the impression that there was no illness that could prevent me from attending class. Earning the best grade possible is a high priority and missing a class can severely harm any grade. I had to come to terms with being unable to attend; it was tough. Thankfully my husband took over care of the kids and myself- he was unwavering in his support.

When I saw a doctor and received my diagnosis, my husband mentioned that I would definitely not be running that Sunday. My doctor was sympathetic and said that it was possible that I could bounce back in time to run, but to listen to my body. I knew my outlook wasn’t good because my hydration had taken a dive once it became difficult to swallow anything. Three days later I felt much improved and I went to the marathon expo to pick up my packet. In my car, I stared at the blue and yellow tech shirt, emblazoned with the Tacoma City Marathon and it’s sponsors. I held my bib with my name on it. It stirred within me my illness-suppressed determination.

I wanted to run. My goal was one day away and I was mentally ready to take on the challenge. Unfortunately, mental toughness alone doesn’t run races. My severely dehydrated and undernourished body could not run thirteen miles. I had to listen to my body; I didn’t want to risk injury. I talked myself down from getting my hopes up and researched when the next closest half marathon will be.

Now my bib sits on my mantel- not mocking me for what I couldn’t do, but motivating me to recover and get back up to speed.


Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen

8 Nov


I hope you read the title a la Princess Vespa trapped in a cell. If not, go here.

What qualifies a round ball of something as a truffle? The sweet kind, not the fungus kind.

Well, according to dear Mr. Wiki, “Their name derives from the usual shape they take as the word ‘truffle’ derives from the Latin word tuber, meaning “swelling” or “lump”, which later became tufer.”

So there you go, a lump. Sounds scrumptious, right? There are evidently different versions of what is considered a truffle, depending on where it comes from. French, American, Belgian, and Swiss are a few. Apparently, these ones we have here might qualify as a “vegan truffle.” The “Vegan truffle” can have any shape or flavor, but is adapted to modern-day diet by replacing dairy with nut milks and butters. (Source)

Confession- I am extremely picky about chocolate. I can not stand to bite into chocolate. Just the thought of it stuck to my teeth makes me curl my lip, even as I type. I like half melted chocolate, like in a warm cookie. Chocolate truffles are a chocolate covered teeth disaster waiting to happen. You can imagine my elation when I saw these sweet potato pie truffles. Little round balls of “dessert” that won’t cause me any dental discomfort? Oh me oh my.

I completely intended to make them exactly as written. I did. I love sweet potatoes! Then I remembered there was leftover roasted butternut squash in the fridge that I couldn’t let go to waste. I thought maybe I didn’t need quite so much maple syrup, and maybe I can substitute my homemade pumpkin pie spice instead; and maybe I didn’t need so much coconut flour- that stuff sucks up moisture better than a dry sponge. Wow that was a weak analogy. Sorry.

My daughter’s honest reaction to these truffles:

After first bite: “This isn’t dessert.”

After second bit: “Mmm!”

After first bite of second truffle: “These are so delicious Mom!”

These morsels of happiness came together rather quickly; even when I realized it was a bit too much dough to fit into my little Ninja and switched to manual stirring in a bowl. The cool thing about them? You can use any squash puree you want- pumpkin, butternut, whatever. And of course, sweet potato would also work.




  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 5 TB coconut flour
  • 1/8 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar


  1. Add pecans to a food processor and process until it’s a meal.
  2. Add the squash and mix.
  3. Add vanilla and spices, mix.
  4. Add the coconut flour a tablespoon at a time, until you get the consistency you’d like. I used 5 TB, you might want more or less.
  5. Roll into balls, it shouldn’t be sticky.
  6. Roll the balls in either toasted coconut, coconut sugar, or both. 
  7. Set on some parchment paper and refrigerate for a half an hour.
  8. Store in the fridge.

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Cookies

4 Nov

I made it to the other side of midterms week alive and mostly unscathed. I had a good 60% reduction in homework over the weekend, so I took full advantage of it! In the past weeks, my only “me” time has been working out at JTS. So what do I do with a whole day without studying? More exercise, naturally. I went falling  hiking, even though I don’t have the correct shoes for it, especially in the snow. I had a blast. It was much needed.

Yes, I'm laughing so hard my eyes are hardly open.

Yes, I’m laughing so hard my eyes are barely open.

If you follow me on facebook, you might have seen my purchase of a certain coconut product that came in the mail- Nikki’s pumpkin spiced donut coconut butter. It’s amazing on any fruit or baked good. Or…on a spoon. With some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yep, I went there. I would recreate this wonderful coconut butter myself, but my food processor just isn’t sharp enough nor powerful enough to make coconut butter. I’ve made plain coconut butter three times, and those will be the last until I can upgrade my processor. It should not take 60 minutes and a ton of melted coconut oil added to make it the right consistency.

Maybe the world has gotten a little too obsessed with pumpkin-flavoring-everything. I spotted these in Fred Meyer the other day. While I’m a don’t-knock-it-till-you-try it kind of person, I am  just going to say no to pumpkin and potatoes. Plus I don’t eat chips anyhow.


No thanks.

My fridge had run out of sweet snacks for my husband to put into his lunch. I hadn’t noticed; so he kindly asked me to make my chocolate coconut no-bake cookies and I eventually got around to obliging a few days later in between the hectic whirring around the city and formidable study-homework-test-report-study-homework tornado. Staring at the recipe on my fridge, spatula in hand, I thought about the almond butter and what I could substitute in for it. I have gotten in the habit of smothering bananas/apples in it right before I take off for biology class, and therefore wanted to preserve what I could for that bad, delicious addiction.

It was like one of those cartoonish lightbulb- epiphany moments. Pumpkin spiced cookies! It’d be so easy. And it was. These are even better than the originals.


  • 2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup raw, local honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Nikki’s pumpkin spice donut coconut butter, softened**
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  1. Measure out your softened coconut butter and have it ready.
  2. Put honey, pumpkin spice, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning..
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the coconut butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in shredded coconut until everything is coated evenly.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. Serve cold.

**Softened coconut butter and an extra 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice may be substituted.


Have you seen any weird or wondrous pumpkin spiced anything lately?

Apple No-oatmeal

27 Oct

Just a quick recipe I had to share with you all during some rare free time. And by free time, I mean sitting in the passenger seat on the way to the pumpkin patch.
I threw this together with the help of little hands- little hands that eagerly grab the milk out of the fridge, the chia seeds out of the cupboard, and the proper measuring cups all while I stand in one place, chopping little apples from my grandmother’s tree and pouring ingredients into my Ninja.
After two bites, she thanked me for making such a delicious breakfast. My husband liked it so much he suggested I make a huge batch and try freezing it.


Apple No-oatmeal
Inspired by wallflower girl

2 apples, or 4 small
1 cup coconut milk (or almond)
3 TB chia seeds
3 TB almond butter
6 dates, pitted
1 TB vanilla
1 ts cinnamon
1 ts coconut sugar (optional, I think it’s perfectly sweet without it)

Peel and core the apples.
Throw everything except for a half an apple (or one small) into a food processor.
Once combined, pour into a saucepan and heat slowly.
Process the remaining apple until it’s shredded, but not pureed. Add to pan. This gives the “oatmeal” more texture.
If it becomes too thick as it’s heating, add a few splashes of whichever milk you’re using.

Real Food Lunches

23 Oct

Hey guys. I’m “back.” I’m recovering from my second illness in a month and trying my darndest to remember how the citric acid cycle in cellular respiration works, along with molecular shape and VSEPR theory. So much fun, I tell ya.


You may recall my nervousness at the beginning of the school year. I was worried about keeping up with packing a nourishing, satisfying lunch for my daughter to take to kindergarten. Thirty-some-odd packed lunches later, I’m over my initial apprehensiveness. These past seven weeks have been a trial-and-error/ learn as I go period. Now I fret less and even take less time preparing everyday.

What I’ve learned thus far: (in bullet format, because I’m all about bullet format lately (hooray lab reports!))

  • Ask what they want. After the first few weeks of choosing for her, I started to let my daughter decide what to eat. Surprisingly, she asked for the same things she had already been eating. I would simply add one or two things to make it a more complete lunch.
  • This or that. For tough food categories, I give her the choice between what we have. She’s old enough to understand that this is what available; so she has to pick out of what there is. Example: Jerky, tuna, or turkey?
  • Some kids like a lot of variety. My daughter is not one of those. She is ok with having only a few things in rotation, as you’ll see in the pictures below. She does get plenty of variety in her breakfast, snack, and dinner though.
  • Finger foods are fun. We don’t consume many finger foods at dinner anymore (ex. pizza;) so having things like cherry tomatoes, olives, and raw veggies to pick up with her hands are so cool. At least to my five (and a half) year old.
  • It’s ok to introduce new foods during the school year. I’ve had a pep talk or two about how new foods might not taste very good the first or second time. It might take a lot of small tries to learn to like something new. (FYI- it’s worked.)
  • Buy a thermos. I didn’t get one until my daughter didn’t eat something “because it was cold” a few times. Twelve bucks at Target later, she was happily wolfing down hot meatballs and spaghetti squash at school.
  • Before we bought the thermos, she was only carrying her cute LunchBots bento box and a water bottle. After the thermos purchase, we got little bag on clearance to stash everything in. Thank goodness it’s machine washable.
  • Usually she gets water to drink. On the occasion that I do pack her juice or milk, I throw in an ice pack, which wouldn’t have worked without the aforementioned lunch bag.
  • Store bought “lunch” type meat is either priced high or high in preservatives and flavors. Added flavors really irk me, whether “natural” or artificial. To me, that says “whatever meat we’re feeding you is so crappy that we had to add other crap to make you think it tastes good.” While I have bought some Applegate sliced meats here or there, we have made a lot of the others and saved a ridiculous amount of money, not to mention peace of mind knowing exactly what I’m feeding my child.

On to the pictures! These are the real lunches I’ve packed, and my daughter has eaten.

1045 978 961 960 950 921 910 908 899 845 832 829 796 784 783 772 717 458 457 456 455 20131022_082245 20131021_074020 20131018_080119 20131017_081645 1059 1050 1038





If you’re more into lists than pictures, here’s a breakdown of these real food lunches:


  • Homemade jerky
  • Tuna sushi
  • Scotch eggs (sausage wrapped boiled egg)
  • Homemade chicken nuggets (breading is mainly shredded coconut)
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Homemade sliced smoked turkey
  • Turkey/ham/roast beef wrapped peppers
  • Paleo zuppa toscana soup
  • Bacon
  • Cucumber tuna sandwiches
  • Meatballs, sauce, spaghetti squash


  • Sliced peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Homemade sweet potato chips
  • Olives
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Celery (ants on a log- with almond butter and raisins)
  • Kale (usually wrapped in meat)


  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Plum
  • Raisins
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Dried pineapple
  • Creamsicle gummies
  • Strawberry gummies


  • Trail mix
  • Cinnamon Almonds
  • Raw nuts and seeds- almonds, pecans, pepitas, sesame seeds
  • Justin’s maple almond butter
  • Honey yogurt (our yogurt is from a local farm. It contains whole, un-homogenized milk, cultures, and honey)
  • Pumpkin yogurt (honey yogurt + pumpkin + spice)
  • Pumpkin chia pudding
  • Paleo apple cider muffins
  • Pumpkin spice coconut cookie
  • Kerrygold cheese
  • Raw pumpkin pie bar
  • SB&J bar
  • Paleo pumpkin muffin

There you have it. Real food lunches- easy. But wait! What about that one thing in the picture? How did I make it? What’s the recipe? Don’t be shy- ask in the comments below and you shall receive.

But wait! There’s more! I will be updating this post at least once a week with MORE lunches and ideas! That’s right, this very post right here will continue to grow. So if you run out of ideas or are just looking for something a little different, hop on over and you’ll be glad you did.


Winging It

14 Oct

Whew. What a whirlwind October has been. Between adjusting to a heavier workload at school, keeping up with kindergarten toing and froing, achieving my Tough Mudder goal (and recovering,) and maintaining a functioning household, I feel like I’m just sitting down to really rest today. I have, of course, been cooking, baking, eating, and snapping photos of food this whole time; so don’t think I forgot about you folks.


I love trying new foods. It’s like an adventure and a challenge. I also encourage my daughter to love good food as much as I do. Strolling through the produce section in the grocery store, I asked my daughter to pick any vegetable- any at all. She scans the stands, her sharp eyes gleaming with the opportunity to choose. For that moment, she was in charge; and she took full advantage of her independence by ensuring she chose the right vegetable from the entire selection. Sure, I could’ve inhibited her by asking her to hurry; but I didn’t. I knew that every minute in the store was a minute later that dinner would be ready. But, I suppressed my own urge to make haste and waited. I answered her questions about what certain things are called, “that’s parsley, and that’s cilantro.” I nodded and smiled as I confirmed each label she put to the many familiar vegetables.

Then we reached the squashes. “Yes, that’s right. Butternut, spaghetti, zucchini, and yellow squash. Very good.” Suddenly she drove her hands into the pile of squashes and attempted to pull one out as she excitedly asked, “What’s this one?” After helping uncover the mystery, she lifted up the unknown squash and announced that this was what she wanted. She was mesmerized.

The sticker said the squash was a gold nugget squash. Instead of hesitating and going for the “safe, known” squashes, I happily put it in the cart. I’d never heard of it, but I have my dear friend Mr. Google. A few days later, I found myself in between meal plans- a rare occurrence. I had this weird squash sitting on my counter and had forgotten to take any meat out of the freezer. Sadly, this is one of those times that Google failed me. And by fail, I mean the first six results for “gold nugget squash paleo” were not sufficient to my needs. I know, a shame. So I decided to just wing it. I know squash. I know how it works. Most of the denser ones roast the same. What could I do with roasted unknown-tasting squash and no meat thawed? Frittata. I always have eggs on hand- when we reach a dozen, that’s considered running low. Frittata is so versatile that anything savory thrown in is bound to be good.

Even though I felt a bit like this:

I had a determination to captivate my daughter with her chosen vegetable. And so onward I foraged.

After slicing it open, I felt more at ease. It’s just like a butternut, pumpkin, or acorn squash. I got this. I was a little pressed for time and thought that peeling and cubing this cute little squash would expedite dinner. Ha. Nope. The peel/skin was much thicker and tougher than it appeared to be. Coconut oil face down, so be it.

Just in case the squash ended up being not very flavorful (which I hoped not, because then the name would be so misleading. You’d think something called gold nugget would be awesome, right?) I fried up some bacon to add to the frittata.

I hurriedly scooped the soft flesh out and added brussels sprouts and tomatoes to some of my ramekins. I left one without tomatoes for my tomato hating husband.

And you know what? They turned great.


It’s ok to wing it sometimes. You may surprise yourself with your genius. Have you ever tried something new without researching about it first? Ever have it turn out terrible? Tell us about it in the comments below.