Paleo cinnamon bun muffins and patience with baking

final muffin shotI’m not much of a baker. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth and if ya make cake, cookies and brownies, you’re gonna wind up eating cake, cookies and brownies. Good enough a reason for me to never do it. So I’ve always cooked. I love that making dinner isn’t an exact science. I can whip up different salads, sides and entrees based on what I have in the fridge and what I’m in the mood for.

But something strange has happened since I gave up grains and sugar 8 weeks ago; I’ve been craving baked goods, for the first time maybe ever. Is it because I haven’t had any bread in two months and I need something that has a dough-like consistency? Maybe. Are some of the new herbs, supplements and probiotics I’m taking messing with the chemistry of my body? Perhaps. Is it the challenge of showing myself (and others) that a grain-free existence can still be an enjoyable one? That sounds more likely. Whatever the case may be, I’ve got my mixing bowls and muffin tins out and I’m ready to start baking.

I went into it as I do most things, overly confident and optimistic. Like when I started seeing Dr. Lipman about my ankle pain… I was all, I’m gonna eat everything he tells me, take every herb he suggests, stop every exercise he thinks is bad — and poof — my pain will go away and I’ll be off my arthritis medications in no time.

Not so fast there, grasshopper.

This, like baking, will take time, care, and patience. You can’t just mix the wet and dry ingredients together haphazardly. As my intern Jessica taught me, you have to slowly add one to the other, letting them blend together to eventually become one batter. And you can’t just add more honey or egg because you think it will taste better or be better. Oh no you cannot, because then it won’t cook properly. You have to follow the instructions, give it the proper TLC, and then put your masterpiece in the oven and allow it to rise to perfection.

It doesn’t happen fast. Nothing happens fast.

It only seems that way once it’s done and you’re looking back from the other side, golden moist grain-free muffin in hand.

12 muffin shot

muffin closeup

Paleo cinnamon bun muffins

MAKES 9 MUFFINS

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP honey (topping)
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon (topping)
  • 1 TBSP grapeseed oil (topping)
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 TBSP coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with liners.
  2. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate large bowl combine oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Blend dry ingredients into wet and scoop 1/4 cup at a time into lined muffin cups.
  5. Spoon topping onto muffins. Here is where I used a toothpick to swirl some of the topping into the muffins themselves. Some I left as is, with topping on top.
  6. Bake muffins for 16 minutes, checking them after 10 with a toothpick for doneness.
  7. Let cool, then enjoy!.

Notes

I actually preferred the muffins without the topping on top — I thought they turned out more moist and a little less sweet — but that’s just me. Make half and half like I did so you can try both.


A Recipe From Jamie Stelter | www.thetvdinner.com

so not a grill: July 4th chia pudding

red white and blue chia puddingSeven weeks into eating Paleo and I must say it’s gotten infinitely easier, in part because my ankle’s starting to feel much better. I think I finally crossed the threshold of not wanting any grains or sugar anymore… and I was even faced with a platter of avocado toast on english muffins this past weekend. I was so proud of myself; I scraped the citrus-y, salty pile of avocado right into my mouth and didn’t pout for a second over the long lost carbs. (It’s amazing what loses its appeal when you know it could be hurting you.) But even though the few forkfuls were delicious, it wasn’t enough.

(more…)

grain-free dark chocolate granola bars and a note on hope

granola-bar-and-coffee2

You know that feeling when you finally get home after a long day and you’re shaking with hunger? You’re light-headed, don’t think you can make it another second, and want to scarf down everything in the fridge but know there’s nothing you actually want in there? Confession: that was happening to me a lot six weeks ago when I first changed what I was eating and gave up all grains and sugar.

Long story, quasi-short: I finally had enough with the nagging pain I’d been feeling in my ankle for at least the last year from my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — so fed up with limping and terrified of it permanently affecting how I walk — that I went to see a new doctor. I had been reading about Dr. Lipman for the last six months, in various publications, and was intrigued by how he connected the entire body and treated it as one big machine, as opposed to honing in on just what hurt. (He’s famous in certain circles for helping Chef Seamus Mullen get off all of his arthritis medications — a big dream/goal of mine.) His theory was that a parasite gave me leaky gut syndrome which either caused my arthritis or made it a whole lot worse. He referred me to an infectious disease doctor who, sure enough, found a parasite and treated it (killed it?) with two rounds of antibiotics. (No, we don’t know where the parasite came from and no, we don’t know yet whether it’s completely out of me.)

In the meantime, Dr. L switched me to a strict Paleo diet (no grains, sugar, dairy, beans or alcohol) and gave me a slew of probiotics and herbal supplements to treat my leaky gut. He says that a healthy gut is a healthy body and mind. I know there is some controversy surrounding leaky gut. (Google it and you’ll see.) As I’ve always said here, I am not a doctor and can only speak to what I feel and what has worked for me; good to keep in mind that part of the pain of RA lies within its infinite mysteries, so I will continue to educate myself on new treatments and experiment until I feel healthy and strong. I’ll tell ya this much: after just 6 weeks of eating Paleo my belly feels great. I never would have even considered my stomach to be an issue, but Dr. L is on his way to solving at least part of the problem.

So how’s my ankle? Better for sure, but still nowhere near where I want it to be. I thought I had a breakthrough last Tuesday afternoon when I was walking without pain or limping for the first time in over a year. I was ecstatic. It felt like a dream. I was hopping on my right foot like a kid discovering that ability for the first time. Of course I ran myself into the ground with work the following three days — “one step forward, two steps back” as both Brian (and Paula Abdul) say — and I was right back in Pain Country. But here’s how I see it: if my ankle was able to feel that way for that afternoon, then it has that ability to feel that way again. And again and again and again. It’s just sleep-deprived, needing more love and clean food… or something. Remember I said I’m not a doctor; I’m just a girl with hope.

And let’s not forget that this is all a giant experiment! There is no cure for RA; no one knows exactly what causes it or where it comes from. But since I had a lot of luck about six years ago when going vegan got rid of all my pain, I decided this was well worth a shot. I’ll be honest that even for me, someone who eats very healthy 99% of the time, cutting out grains was pretty hard in the beginning. I love me some rice, quinoa, and my goodness, tortilla chips. But knowing that all of that could be hurting me is well worth forgoing it. And after the first week or so, I adjusted pretty quickly.

That’s also around the time I discovered Against All Grain. Danielle’s blog is beautiful, both inside and out. Her story is inspiring and her recipes are out of this world. You won’t even realize there are no grains or sugar in what you’re eating. It gave me hope and made me excited about the possibility of feeling better, once and for all. These grain-free granola bars have been a bit of a savior — I keep them in the freezer, so they’re nice and cold and don’t go bad, either. (They crumble a bit and get a little melty once you take them out.) But the best part is they’re sweet and satisfying — exactly what every snack food should be and exactly what you’re looking for when you come home starving and need instant gratification.

I hope for a lot of things, but most of all right now, that you enjoy these bars as much as I do.

nuts and almond butter mixture pre-mix

bars in le creuset pre-freeze

Union Square Greenmarket Salad

unsqgreenmarket saladNothing makes me happier than wandering around a farmers market on a weekend morning. The smell of fresh flowers and vegetables, talking to the farmers who grew and brought their goodness to us in the city, discovering new kinds of greens, dreaming up a menu for dinner that night… it’s heaven. And it’s exactly what B and I did this past Saturday at the Union Square Greenmarket. It feels good to support the local farmers and it feels even better to put all that fresh food in your belly.

The salad we created (pictured above): boston lettuce, radish sprouts (which had quite a spicy bite to ‘em!), heirloom tomatoes and shaved asparagus on top. I tossed it all with two colors of sesame seeds, some chili flakes, lemon and olive oil. Simple perfection.

unsq flowers

Reboot with Joe: How I Improved My Rheumatoid Arthritis

joe the juicer screengrabThe healing power of food is something very close to my heart  so I’m honored to share this post that I wrote for Joe the Juicer and his amazing Reboot community. They asked me to explain how eating healthy (specifically more fruits and vegetables) has helped improve my rheumatoid arthritis. It’s done a lot more than that, too, and I know Joe and all the people he’s inspired feel the same. You can read the full story here.

a tie-dyed father’s day: spiralized cucumber salad with mango watermelon chili and lime

spiralized cucumber salad with mango watermelon chili and limeJust two more days til Father’s Day and if you’re scrambling, trying to figure out what to make, you should give this spiralized salad a whirl. It’s healthy, it’s sweet with a kick of spice, and it’s super easy to make because it’s not an exact recipe. Want more watermelon? Toss it in. Want more sesame seeds? Knock yourself out.

I’ve become obsessed with my spiralizer because vegetables morph into these fun-to-eat noodles in seconds and the best part: you look so fancy for it. Spiralizing is the best way to get some oohs and aahs from the crowd, when you really you did nothing to deserve ‘em (except read this blog).

Mom will love it cause it’s healthy and she of course wants dad to eat more fruit and vegetables. Dad will love it cause you made it. *cue the awwwwwws*

Spiralized Cucumber Salad with Mango, Watermelon, Chili, and Lime

SERVES TWO-FOUR

Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers, spiralized
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1/4lb watermelon, chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • small handful of mint leaves, chopped thin
  • dash of sesame seeds
  • chili powder, to taste
  • juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the chili powder and lime in a bowl.
  2. Dust with sesame seeds and chili powder, to taste.
  3. Toss with lime juice and serve.

A Recipe From Jamie Stelter | www.thetvdinner.com

a tie-dyed father’s day: BBQ shrimp and pineapple skewers

pineapple for skewersIt’s supposed to be in the 80′s and sunny on Sunday for Father’s Day (at least here in New York): perfect BBQ weather. And since it’s gonna be pretty steamy, you want something light, right? And since everyone wants their dad to eat healthy, how about these shrimp and pineapple skewers. They’re spicy and sweet, and so much better than the same ‘ol hot dogs and hamburgers.

(more…)

Orange Is The New Paleo

Orange Is The New Paleo MAIN PICWe’re having a party! One of my most favorite shows, Orange Is The New Black, is back on Netflix tomorrow and in honor of reuniting with Piper, Taystee, Crazy Eyes and the rest of the Litchfield inmates I put together an orange Paleo feast for your binging pleasure. You may feel guilty about watching 13 straight hours of TV on the interwebs, but you won’t feel any regret from these snacks.

Why Paleo? It’s how I’ve been eating these last few weeks as part of a new experiment with my rheumatoid arthritis… more on that coming soon. Now to the recipes!

First, preheat the oven for some baked sweet potato fries.

When you flip them halfway through (after about 20 minutes), toss the carrots in to roast and get your yogurt dip ready.

Last but not least cut up some more carrots, some mango and juice some lemons for a delicious mango carrot lemonade.

Once you’re done eating, break out the nail polish for an on-theme mani. No party is complete without one. Here are 5 OITNB-tastic picks:

  • Chanel: LA Sunset
  • Chanel: Orange Fizz
  • Givenchy: Mandarine Bolero
  • Essie: Roarrrrange
  • Nars: Ethno Run Left

Happy binging! (And please, no spoilers.)

nail polishes