11/16/17

Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers | SCD + Paleo

Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers

One of the most difficult challenges we face on the SCD diet (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) is the absence of a good sourdough bread or a crisp cracker. I'm sure if you asked my son he could easily add to the list of foods we miss, but the occasional bread and crackers are high on my personal list. While we love our clean eating lifestyle, baking with almond flour just isn't the same, and my son knows it. While this space is dedicated to our journey with Crohn's disease, clean eating and healthy foods that heal I also need to be honest with you and with myself. I've tried several bread recipes and I always end up with the same conclusion; my son doesn't like bread made with almond flour. I've tried a couple cracker recipes and I got a shrug of the shoulder and a "They're okay," reaction. Fair enough. I know when to stop and put the flour away.

But here we are with the holidays right around the corner. Cucumbers make a great alternative to crackers for dips or charcuterie and cheese boards, but it would be nice to serve these artisan dishes with something of a bit more substance and texture. Almond flour makes a good base for SCD and paleo breads and crackers, but cutting it with another nut flour is always a great alternative. With these crackers I decided to try hazelnut flour which has a rich, buttery flavor and would compliment the almond flour and spices well. Hazelnuts are high in vitamins E and B. While vitamin E is important in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, the B vitamins are important in proper cell function and allow our bodies to stay energized all day. Hazelnuts are also a rich source of potassium, calcium and magnesium.

ROSEMARY CRACKERS
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegetarian
yield: 2 dozen crackers

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup hazelnut flour
1 cup almond flour
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
2. Gather the dough into a ball and place between two pieces of parchment paper.
3. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle shape that is 1/8 inch in thickness.
4. Remove the top parchment and carefully transfer the bottom parchment to a baking sheet.
5. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the edges of the dough to make straight edges and then score the dough into a grid so it is made up of several small squares.
6. Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure they are nice and brown but not burnt.
7. Remove and let cool. Break the crackers into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

11/15/17

Butternut Squash Casserole | SCD + Paleo

Butternut Squash Casserole
Butternut Squash Casserole
Butternut Squash Casserole

The holidays are right around the corner and I'm trying my best to come up with new ideas and recipes for the season. We are more than two years in to following the SCD diet and we continue to adhere to it. Our long term goal still remains the same; get off the meds and use diet alone to control my son's Crohn's disease. A goal that I firmly believe is attainable. Unfortunately, while the holidays bring joy and excitement, they also bring anxiety, temptation and serious discipline while following a strict anti-inflammatory diet. As a parent, I try and make this season as easy as possible for my family, even if it means working extra time.

I'm trying out some new recipes this week and attempting to get creative in the kitchen! Wish me luck. If you have any suggestions or requests I'm all ears. This is my butternut squash casserole recipe from last year. I thought about switching it up, but the kids gave it a thumbs up so it remains the same.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH CASSEROLE
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegetarian
yield: 8-10 servings

INGREDIENTS:
3 medium butternut squash, cut in half and de-seeded
3 tbs. olive oil
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup honey (you can use more if you prefer a sweeter dish)
1 tsp. Himalayan salt

TOPPING:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup organic butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place the butternut squash halves on cookie sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Cook at 385 degrees until soft when pierced with a fork.
2. Once the squash has cooled scoop out the insides and place in a mixing bowl or food processor.
3. Add the coconut milk, eggs, spices and honey and mix with an electric mixer. I like to use my food processor for this step.
4. Place the mixture in a 9 x 12 casserole dish.
5. To make the topping combine the ingredients and mix, crumble the topping over the casserole.
6. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on top.

11/10/17

THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP | IBD NEWS, CLEAN EATING, SIMPLE LIVING

Cheesecake_Recipe_Babiekins_Mag-20
photo by Mallory + Justin Photography

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
Thomas Edison

The Weekly Roundup is a well-curated selection of insightful articles related to health, clean-eating, the gut microbiome, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a Paleo lifestyle, simple living, positive parenting and delicious recipes.

We did it! We officially made it through our insanely busy fall season. In a matter of five weeks we traveled to Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Dallas and Chicago for Jonas' Internationals Academy soccer team. And if that's not crazy enough, our other son traveled for his soccer team and we still managed to keep up the good grades, play piano, squeeze in a session of gymnastics and ballet for Jessica. Sometimes I think we're absolutely insane, but then I see the look on Jonas'face when he takes the field and the determination in his eyes and I know we made the right decision. This transition to a new premier team has challenged and pushed him in ways he needed. And most importantly, he's healthy and capable of balancing the strict requirements of soccer and the demands of school.

Enjoy the weekend! No traveling for us, just a couple local soccer games and ballet rehearsal for the Nutcracker performance.

1. This video is a great preview to Internationals Soccer Club Boys U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Jonas tried out for the U13 Academy team over the summer and when he made it we made the decision to go for it. The travel is challenging and the practices are not exactly convenient because they are far away, but it's been a good transition.

2. Now this is scary! Glyphosate Found in All 5 Major Orange Juice Brands. For those who don't know what glyphosate is, it is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops. It's also known as Roundup. It's a hot debate on whether glyphosate poses a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through food. I encourage you to do your own research, but personally my family STEERS CLEAR of this herbicide. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to pass on my glass of OJ that's blended with chemicals.

3. What drug is the most addictive, least regulated, and most widely endorsed by our culture? Not heroin or cocaine. Not tobacco. Not even alcohol. Can you guess? Read this article and learn more about America's drug of choice.

4. Harvard study shows how intermittent fasting and manipulating mitochondrial networks may increase lifespan.

5. Modified is a first-person documentary-memoir that questions why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled on food products in Canada and the United States, despite being labeled in 64 countries around the world. I'm looking forward to watching this film as it continues to spread the word on GMOs and the food industry. You can follow along on Facebook for updates and info on releases.

5. Nine Year Study Finally Explains The Relationship Between Sugar And Cancer.

11/8/17

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup | SCD, Paleo

SCD Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
SCD Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
SCD Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
SCD Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
Julia Child

There is a crispness in the air that lingers throughout our days and the nights are getting darker well before dinnertime. Winter is approaching and the season for comfort food and hearty meals has arrived. With the change of the season comes the change of our schedule; outdoor soccer turns to indoor and futsal, ballet focuses on the Nutcracker performance, basketball starts and we slowly prepare for ski season. While the bitterness of winter wears on me, there are some moments of this snowy season that I absolutely enjoy. The magical excitement of the Nutcracker, early mornings huddled under fleece blankets and hot coffee in hand to watch the first soccer game of the day, a quick afternoon getaway for a solo cross-country ski adventure in the park, the warm glow of the fire, the scent of vanilla and holiday spices.

But with these seasonal treasures we juggle a chaotic schedule with activities every single day. Our hearty meals and comfort foods need to be easily prepped, made ahead of time and sometimes taken on the go. My go-to meals for winter are filling soups and anything made in the crockpot. This Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is so rich and creamy you'll find it very filling and full of flavor. To make it vegan, simply omit the ghee and honey and swap out vegetable broth in place of bone broth.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan (optional)
yield: 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped in large pieces
2 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 apple, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs ghee or butter
2 cups bone broth
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
yogurt blended with 1 tsp honey
coconut milk
toasted pepitas

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. On a roasting sheet, layout carrots tossed with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. On a second baking sheet, place the squash face down with 1/8 cup of water.
3. Bake the carrots and squash until soft when pierced with a fork and slightly golden. Scoop the squash out of the skin and set aside.
4. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
5. Once hot, add oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Add the apple and cook until soft.
7. Add butternut squash and carrot mix and season with salt and pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the butter, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add bone broth, coconut milk and honey. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Allow the soup to cool and transfer to a blender, I like to use my Vitamix, and purée until creamy and smooth. Return soup back to pot and heat up if needed.
9. Taste to adjust seasonings. You can also adjust the thickness by adding more bone broth.
10. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk or a dollop of yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds.

10/31/17

SCD Pecan Turtles

SCD Pecan Turtles Candy
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
L.M. Montgomery

While October is certainly one of my favorite months, I am torn about how I feel when it comes to Halloween. This once favorite holiday of mine has become a challenge for our family since we decided to turn away from sugar, starches and processed foods. Even though my oldest can't have anything passed out on Halloween, I let the kids go trick-or-treating, but the past two years Jonas has decided to pass on it and I respect his decision. I've offered to buy the candy from him and then donate it, but he would rather stick around the house and I understand. I am amazed at his strength but I never want to forget how challenging this can be for him. He doesn't have a choice; there is no cheating or sneaking a piece of candy just once. It's all or nothing. I'm just thankful he is on board and willing to adapt to this lifestyle because we know it works!

Since our Halloween is more about the tricks than the treats, I decided to surprise the kids with some after-school goodies. I packed canvas bags with little trinkets, iTunes gift cards, fruit strips, packed nuts and some homemade treats. These SCD Pecan Turtles are super easy to make and can be stored in the freezer for up to a couple weeks. Jonas likes them in the frig because the cacao remains hard but the caramel is gooey. The caramel would be a great topping for homemade vanilla ice-cream (I posted THIS recipe awhile back but the ice-cream is SCD friendly.)

SCD Pecan Turtles
yield: 16 clusters
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free + Vegan Optional

INGREDIENTS:
Cacao Topping:
8 ounces raw cacao butter, cut into small pieces or shaved
3 Tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

Caramel Topping:
1/2 C dates, pitted
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1 Tbs almond or cashew butter
1 Tbs ghee, melted (use coconut milk if making vegan, just scoop the thicker cream off the top and use that)
1 tsp vanilla

1 C pecans

DIRECTIONS:
1. Line a baking tray with parchment and make small cluster of pecans, using 3 pecans for each serving.
2. Next make the caramel. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until thick. Set aside.
3. Melt the cacao butter over a double broiler. Once the cacao has begun to melt add the remaining ingredients. Stir to mix and immediately remove from heat so you don't burn the cacao.
4. Using a spoon, add a quarter size amount of caramel on top of each pecan cluster.
5. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of cacao topping over each cluster. Place in the freezer. Repeat this step once more after the cacao has set.
6. Store in an airtight container in the frig for up to 4 days or store in the freezer for 2 weeks.

10/12/17

Dirty Rice With Cauliflower | SCD + Paleo

DSC_4853
DSC_4849
DSC_4855
Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from white rice, chicken liver, green bell pepper, celery, onion and a blend of aromatic spices. I decided to turn this classic southern Louisiana dish into a quick, healthy meal that consists mostly of staples found in the home. This recipe is so simple and can be altered to add in different veggies, chicken, sausage and even chicken liver if you prefer. Omit the bone broth to make a simple vegan dish packed with nutrients. The options are endless but full of flavor!

While we recently added organic rice into our diet, in moderation of course, this dish calls for riced cauliflower, which will always be a staple in our house. This super food totes a long list of healthy benefits and is rich in phytochemicals. Eating cauliflower provides your body with remarkable amounts of nutrients; vitamin C, vitamin k, beta-carotene and the list goes on. These nutrients help support healthy digestion, fight inflammation and promote detoxification.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower:
- Reduces Cancer Risk.
- Fights Inflammation.
- Provides High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals (especially important Vitamin C and Vitamin K)
- Improves Digestion and Detoxification.
- Aids in Weight Loss.
- Helps Balance Hormones.
- Preserves Eye Health.

The next time you're in the grocery store make sure to stock up on cauliflower! This cruciferous vegetable can be eaten raw, made into rice, roasted, steamed and used as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

Dirty Rice with Cauliflower
yield: 6 servings
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Optional

INGREDIENTS:

1 head of cauliflower, pulsed in a food processor
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup diced yellow pepper
1/4 cup chopped shitake mushroom
1/4 cup chopped kale
1 cup bone broth
2 or 3 Tbs. coconut oil
2 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs Creole Spice
OR
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor with S blade attached and pulse until florets are finely ground and resemble cous cous.
2. In a large saute pan, add 1 Tbs. coconut oil and cook the cauliflower rice over medium-high heat until very lightly browned. Set aside in a large bowl for later.
3. Using the same pan, saute the onion, carrots and celery until translucent and fragrant. Add more coconut oil as needed.
4. Add the broccoli, pepper, mushroom and creole seasonings (if making your own creole seasoning, prep this ahead of time) and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring so the spices don't burn.
5. Pour in about 1/2 cup bone broth. I start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed.
6. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add cauliflower rice and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley and serve.

Tips & Suggestions:
- Prepare your creole seasoning ahead of time.
- Swap the bone broth for vegetable broth to make this dish vegan.
- Add chicken or sausage for an extra boost of protein.

*Feedback is greatly appreciated! Sometimes I get caught up cooking and I forget to write down the recipe, I try my best to remember every step but sometimes I just forget! For this dish I had half of the recipe written down and then...nothing. I'll make adjustments as needed.

10/6/17

The Benefits of Tea Tree + Maple Holistics

Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
Tea Tree Maple Holistics
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
Jim Rohn

The idea of a healthy lifestyle goes far beyond what we eat and drink. Our health is impacted by the world around us; the air we breath, the dirt we touch, the clothes we wear and the products we use on our bodies. Our skin is the largest organ of our entire body, so it's imperative we treat it with care and use quality products that are free from harsh chemicals, dyes and preservatives. Did you know that nearly 20% of personal-care products contain at least one chemical linked to cancer? Yet beauty products are loosely regulated by the FDA. Think about it, you use lotions, creams, soaps and oils daily. When you put these products on you skin they are absorbed into your system and make their way to the bloodstream and inside your body. When you think about it this way you realize just how delicate our skin is and, since it is the largest organ, we should treat it with care.

For years our family has been using tea tree oil for its powerful antiseptic properties and its ability to treat wounds. But did you know that tea tree totes several other beneficial properties? Maple Holistics Natural Tea Tree Oil Shampoo can moisturize hair and scalp, can promote healthy hair growth and can soothe irritated scalp and skin. Their tea tree oil shampoo can even help prevent and fight lice, which makes it ideal for kids. And, it is cruelty-free, parabens-free, GMO-free, and gluten free; making it an ideal product to use. My daughter and I both had the chance to sample this shampoo and our hair was left feeling soft and shiny. I've been on the search for a natural shampoo for her long blonde locks and finally found one that cleanses well yet leaves her hair silky. This is the ideal shampoo for me since I'm always looking for something to promote hair growth and keep my long bob strong and thick.

Benefits of Tea Tree
- It contains natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- Soothes dry skin and scalp.
- Promotes hair growth.
- Helps to unclog hair follicles and nourish your roots.
- Tea tree oil works great on any hair type.

To read more about Maple Holistics and check out all the products they have to offer head on over to their site!
Maple Holistics | Website | Facebook | Instagram

AND you can receive your own free samples with their free samples program. Click HERE for more info and to get your samples! This program gives you the opportunity to try out Maple Holistics products at no cost, all while learning about an all-natural, cruelty-free company based in the U.S.

This post is in partnership with Maple Holistics.

10/4/17

Cuyahoga Valley National Park + Hiking Tips For Kids

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Frank Lloyd Wright

Secluded trails tucked away between rocky gorges, massive boulders perfectly placed in the middle of the vast woods, tree-covered hills, the overgrowth of brush and fresh water quickly flowing over rock and pebbles. Who would have thought this rustic landscape is situated right in the heart of Ohio. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located between Cleveland and Akron and just a short drive away from Canton, serves the Metropolitan area well. In just a short distance, you can escape from the bustling urban life of downtown and find a natural retreat hidden away just off the highway. These grounds welcome hikers, families, runners, bikers, bird-watchers, photographers and nature lovers.

When To Go
Hiking in Ohio is a year round adventure! Now is the perfect time of year to hike in Ohio. In a couple more weeks the leaves will be in their prime and you will be surrounded by bold hues of gold, orange, red, yellow and rust. Cuyahoga Valley is just as fascinating in the winter. The waterfalls and rivers transform into a winter wonderland and become a captivating sight created by ice. Don't forget that cross-country skiing (an activity we picked up a couple years ago), snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking in the winter months are extremely enjoyable. And of course spring offers a fresh perspective on nature as we begin to see new growth. Spring is the time for foraging and seeking out the treasures provided by the season; morel mushrooms, ramps, fiddlehead ferns.

Tips For Hiking With Children
- Dress in layers and don't forget it's Ohio- check the weather because it's always unpredictable!
- Bring plenty of water and a snack. We always pack Larabars and meat sticks.
- Bring sunscreen and insect repellent. We use essential oils or this natural bug spray.
- Wear long pants or high hiking socks with shorts to keep ticks away from your skin.
- It seems obvious, but make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- Consider a shorter trail that is kid friendly.
- Bring a notebook and pen to encourage your child to take notes and draw pictures.
- When you get home research what you saw.

9/27/17

Paleo Cacao Powder Zucchini Brownies

Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cocoa Brownies
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto


I can't just tease you with the previous post about the health benefits of raw organic cacao and then not share a recipe, now can I? Zucchini always seems to be plentiful in the month of September and it usually makes its way into every meal these days. Our freezer is loaded with zucchini bread, zucchini waffles and even just frozen zucchini that will eventually make its way into a dish. But there is something about pairing zucchini and chocolate together that appeals to most palettes. This green courgette is a summer squash that is very subtle in taste, hence why it works so well in desserts or sweet treats. But don't be fooled by the mild flavor, zucchini is packed with vitamins and minerals. It contains manganese, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. It also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and protein. Not to mention that the vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and calcium in zucchini assure optimal health. So don't hold back on your summer squash!

Cacao Powder Zucchini Brownies
yield: 12-16 brownies, depending on how they are cut
Paleo, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-free

INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
4 Tbs ghee or butter, melted
1/3 c honey
½ cup cacao powder
1 ½ cups almond flour
2 Tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp Himalayan salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a square 9 x 9 inch pan OR a brownie pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment. If using a brownie pan just grease and skip the parchment.
2. Using a mixer, mix the eggs until well combined. Add the honey, melted butter, cacoa powder, flours, baking soda and salt. Mix together and then add the vanilla, making sure not to over stir the batter.
3. Fold in the zucchini.
4. Transfer the batter to your baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
6. Enjoy with a glass of almond milk!

*We recently discovered Malk products and are thrilled to have an almond milk that doesn't contain starches, gums and preservatives. This is a great substitute to homemade almond milk. These opinions are my own. This post was not sponsored or in partnership with Malk.

9/18/17

Cacao vs. Cocoa + Healthy Benefits of Cacao

Healthy Benefits of Cacao
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

Mr. Schulz, I completely agree with you; a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt...or does it? Unfortunately, chocolate is NOT compliant with the SCD diet. However, we decided to try raw cacao powder about a year and a half into the diet since we were in full remission and exhibiting no active symptoms of Crohn's disease. While diving into my research on chocolate I learned some fascinating information about this dark indulgence that so many of us love. In order to understand how and why chocolate (cacao) is beneficial to our health, it's important to understand the measures of how it is made and processed.

COCOA vs. CACAO

All chocolate, including the various forms it comes in, starts at the same source: the Theobroma cacao tree. This tree, native to South America, produces seed pods which are then harvested and cracked open to remove the unprocessed, pure cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") beans. From here you end up with either cacao or cocoa powder. They both sound similar but are actually very different, especially when it comes to processing, cost and nutrition. Many of you chocolate lovers know, cocoa and cacao are available in several different forms including nibs, chips, butter, powder, and chocolate bars. All delicious, but are they all equally healthy?

The cacao beans are usually fermented and dried before processing any further. Raw cacao powder is typically made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. This process allows the enzymes to stay in the cacao and removes the fat, or the cacao butter. When manufacturers chop the cacao beans into small pieces you have cacao nibs, which are full of flavor, slightly bitter and crunchy. Because the processesing is minimal to none, you get all the nutrients and antioxidant power of cacao beans. Cacao butter is made from the fattiest part of the cacao bean. It is actually white in color and slightly resembles white chocolate. You can use it for baking (like I did in this recipe) and even as a moisturizer. Finally, when you take what is left of the cacao bean and grind it into a fine powder you have cacao powder, which can be used in baking, cooking, hot chocolate, smoothies and more.

Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is probably what you remember from your childhood. Cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted at high temperatures, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols. Flavanols are the beneficial phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) found naturally in cacao. Since cacao contains such a unique blend of flavanols it is often referred to as a superfood. A common practice in manufacturing cocoa is Dutch processing; the process where the cocoa is treated in an alkalizing chemical agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cacao." Since cacao is naturally acidic, the taste is sharp and very bold. Dutch processing reduces the bitterness, darkens the color and creates a mild flavor. However, it also eliminates the nutrients and antioxidants. "Natural cocoa powder" will taste more bitter and rich than Dutch-processed cocoa powder, but be cautious because most natural cocoa powder has added ingredients like sugar, preservatives, starches, emulsifiers and dairy. And the same goes for chocolate chips.

Are you confused yet?

In short, the high-heat processing of cacao beans to create cocoa powder and chocolate strips the original source of its nutrients. Therefore cacao, which is minimally processed, is actually higher in antioxidants and nutrients.

5 Healthy Benefits of Eating Raw Organic Cacao

1. A Magnesium Rich Food
Cacao beans are one of the best magnesium-rich foods around. Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, and cacao nibs contain 272 milligrams per 100 grams. Magnesium is the second most abundant element inside human cells. It is found in bones, teeth, red blood cells and serves as a building block for DNA and is an essential element required for proper functioning of the nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular systems. Magnesium also helps in the absorption of calcium.

"Theobroma Cacao" literally translates into "Food of the Gods." Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

2. Excellent Source of Antioxidants
If it is certified as "Organic Raw Cacao" then it is an excellent source of antioxidants, otherwise you are consuming cacao covered in toxins from the spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans. In addition to the toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, it may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.

Organic raw cacao contains 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries! In the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart raw cocoa powder is at the top of the antioxidant list. This scale was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.

3. Prevent Aging
Raw cacao has the same polyphenol antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in red wine) can protect your cells from premature destruction and make you feel younger and healthier! Cocoa is also rich in flavonols, potent plant chemicals that encourage blood vessels to relax, keeping them youthful, supple and pliable.

4. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Several studies show that raw cacao has been found to decrease blood pressure. These changes are attributed to the presence of the antioxidants in cocoa that stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed. Which also helps in maintaining a healthy circulatory system.

5. Enhances the Mood
Studies have shown that cacao flavonols help to enhance mood, combat depression, and promote improved cognitive activities. Cacao contains the mood booster, anandamide, known as the "bliss molecule," which gives you a feeling of euphoria.

Now, before you dive into your organic raw cacao here are a couple reminders:

Having too much cacao at one time can overstimulate your central nervous system, your heart and even your brain. You can go from feeling hyper to drowsy and quickly crash after the rush.

Remember that cacao nibs are more potent than powder and a little bit can go a long way. It's all about moderation.

In the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine clearly states that "Dr. Haas advised not to use cocoa or chocolate and this still goes, it isn't just the sugar he was worried about." Cacao, cocoa and chocolate products are NOT compliant with the SCD diet. Over time, we have introduced cacao with success. If you decide to add something into your diet, monitor the symptoms, write in your food journal and consider getting labs taken.

Shopping list: Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Butter

9/12/17

Crunchy Vanilla Cookies

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"I think careful cooking is love, don't you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who's close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give."
Julia Child

The other day I shared these crunchy vanilla cookies I made over on my food Instagram account (@Kickncrohns) and was overwhelmed by the response of who wanted the recipe. I figured the easiest way to share it was here on this site, but please take note this is not my creation. I found this recipe over on the Digestive Wellness blog and it appears the original recipe is sourced from a yahoo group dedicated to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. So, thank you Joe P. for sharing this extremely tasty recipe with the group! I want to make sure you get proper credit.

These cookies are the perfect balance for a slightly sweet, vanilla cookie with a crunch. Pair them with a glass of cold, freshly made almond milk and you'll have an ideal afternoon snack that is most certainly kid approved!

Crunchy Vanilla Cookies
yield: 2 dozen
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons grated Cocoa Butter, 1/2 cup melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the grated cocoa butter.
2. Add honey to dry ingredients and stir together. Don't worry if it;t not mixed well, once the cocoa butter melts the mixture will combine.
3. Pop the bowl in the microwave for about 1 min around 70% power and this will melt the cocoa butter.
4. Finish mixing completely.
5. Form tablespoon size balls and slightly flatten onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Rotate pan and bake an additional 2-4 minutes until golden.
7. Cool to room temp then refrigerate. These are best cold from the fridge or freezer.
8. Enjoy

*Tip: when flattening the cookies, use the back up a spoon that is slightly wet to avoid sticking.

9/11/17

Little Dancer

Little Dancer
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“It's dancing! It's magical, actually. A kind of slowish magic. Like writing with your feet.
― Katherine Rundell, The Wolf Wilder


As a child, I never found a passion in dance, although I secretly wish I did. My tomboyish spirit became grounded in other activities; playing in the woods, swimming, kayaking, skipping stones, running and eventually softball. I grew up in a neighborhood next to a small lake; I could almost throw a pebble from our back porch and hit the calm, blue water. Our street was always filled with children; riding bikes, running down to the waters edge, fishing, playing neighborhood tag or kickball. My childhood was magical and I am thankful.

Most of the children were around the same age and I always admired the girl up the street who was a dancer. Her hair perfectly pulled up into a tight bun, her soft pink uniform consisting of a leotard, tights and a tulle wrap, and her worn shoes with blocks of wood that always fascinated me. I remember asking endless questions of curiosity. While I was not a dancer and couldn't tell you a single thing about ballet, I was mesmerized by the graceful and classic movements of this art. Even as a child, it drew me in and captivated my spirit.

I am still not a dancer, I don't play softball anymore and while I may have a bit of a tomboyish character, I am a grown woman now. My interest in dance and ballet is still buried deep inside me and when my daughter expressed interest in the art I quietly rejoiced to myself and happily signed her up. She has now danced for almost three years and I see passion in her eyes, I see the excitement when she enters the room and the smile on her face when her feet begin to float.

Little Dancer, designed for the free-spirited child, offers the perfect range of active wear for dance, ballet and beyond. Their combination of soft, breathable cottons and jerseys with traditional tulles will give your little performer the comfort and style to feel uniquely her own. These modernly classic pieces are designed with comfort using high quality fabrics and textiles sourced throughout the world and sewn right here in the U.S.A. and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the GRoW @ The Wallis children’s dance programs at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

From one tiny dancer to another, I can assure you that these quality pieces are the perfect addition to your child's wardrobe.

Little Dancer | View the collection here | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

*This post is in partnership with Little Dancer an all opinions expressed are of my own. They truly are magical.