The GREAT Pumpkin Pie.

 I am about as stoked about this pie as Charlie Brown felt waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive on Halloween. 

             220px-GreatPumpkin               12196155_10208065278173620_5027968871685929052_n

If you’re like me, you know that good desserts are hard to come by.
It’s a satisfying discovery! I’ve merged two recipes to create a tasty pumpkin pie. People with and without diet restrictions have really enjoyed it. It’s creamy sweet and delicate. The coconut gives it a melt-in-your-mouth texture without overpowering the pumpkin flavor or the festive spice. 

Can’t believe it’s Gaps, Grain Free, Sugar-Free (no cane sugar), Dairy-Free, Paleo, Primal

~  Pumpkin Pie Filling  ~

Thanks to Deliciously Organic @!   I’ve modified this slightly.

Serving Size: Makes two 9-inch pies or 1 full 9 inch pie. I prefer one large 9 inch pie.

* It’s important to use a pie shield or foil over the crust to ensure the crust doesn’t burn. The filling can also be made two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar     (or honey)
  • 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice      (OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger.)  I love TJ’s pre-mixed spice because it also has cardamom, cloves, and lemon peel.
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin    (if using fresh pumpkin then strain the pumpkin for about 5 minutes in a fine mesh sieve to remove excess moisture)
  • 1 tablespoon of potato flour   (or arrowroot for a rigid Paleo diet…it is helpful to include an alternative thickener)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups canned coconut cream (Approximately 1 can). I would highly recommend Savoy Coconut Cream, which is 100% coconut without any additives. It has the best flavor I’ve tried..fresh, slightly sweet, and creamy….better than many other brands that are “organic’ or have additives.


Preheat oven to 450°F and adjust rack to middle position. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour filling evenly into unbaked pie shell(s). Place pie dishes on a large baking sheet. Cover crust with a pie shield or foil to ensure the crust doesn’t burn. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes until edges of pie are set. Cool to room temperature before serving. Serve alone or with whipped coconut cream.

~  Paleo Pie Crust  ~

Thank you, Elena! @

Paleo-Pie-Crust-08431Serves: 1 pie crust
2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large egg
Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse briefly
Add coconut oil and egg and pulse until mixture forms a ball
Press dough into a 9-inch pie dish
Bake at 350° for 8-12 minutes

* ~ * ~ *  And Enjoy! Happy Fall!!  

(Life outside of grad school and pies..besides eating pie to feel better about having homework 🙂 haha!)   12072606_10207976099304204_4475206639432544936_nIMG_20150924_191006   12068988_10207900742140322_655884765907960716_o 12119067_10207900823422354_3496920423911965873_n                    IMG_20151011_180705 IMG_20151030_170622


Easy Grain-free Peanut Butter Muffins

Simple and a great source of protein!


  • 1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey

Then bake at 325 F for 8-10 minutes

Summer Burgers

These burgers taste like summer…

If you live in the Seattle area, you’d agree that we have been blessed with amazing weather this spring! I wanted to share a meal I made tonight that began in our garden. It’s the iconic burger grilling time of year now, and I like to make my patties by hand.

The KEY to great patty flavor is fresh herbs. Tonight I chopped rosemary and basil.

IMG_0478          IMG_0479

My dad’s side is Italian, and he’s carried on the garden tradition since our nono and nona immigrated to the states. We actually just caught up with my favorite Italians a couple weeks ago! My great auntie on the left, Carmie, turns 100 tomorrow! She is one of the kindest people I know. If I ever live to be a centurion, I hope to be half as beautiful as she is.


So on to the burgers!

You’ll need:

  • Fresh chopped herbs (small handful of each or to taste. If you don’t have a garden or access to a local market, you can still used dry spices! They just won’t be as strong. I’d recommend basil with rosemary or oregano.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package of ground beef (organic if possible). The nice thing is that the meat goes farther than 1 pkg of pre-sliced patties does.
  • 1/3 cup of almond flour
  • Topping options: lettuce, onion, tomato, avocado, aged cheddar cheese, etc
  • Other spices: salt, pepper to taste
  • Oil for pan

Makes about 5 burger patties  (pic below- my pan could only fit 4 at a time)


  1. Chop up toppings as needed: herbs, cheese slices, tomato, etc. I love to slice an onion thinly several times and precook the pieces in a pan with oil. Once they are soft and sweet, I set them aside for later. It also prepares the pan for a delicious patty coating! I leave the burner on very low while I prepare the patties.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine: 2 eggs, almond flour, herbs/spices. Whip with a fork.
  3. Time to get messy! Add your meat to the bowl and dig in with your hands. Mix the ingredients together like you’re churning dough until the meat is saturated in flavor.
  4. Mold the meat into 5 patties. First, I make a ball with both hands, and then I flatten it. It will form together well and shouldn’t crumble.
  5. Begin the cooking process! Keep the burner on low to prevent splatter. You could also grill this, I bet! I like a non-stick pan to keep clean-up simpler.
  6. There should be no pink inside. I flip the burger over halfway throughout and poke the middle gently when I need to check. Don’t worry about the extra fat the oozes out around the burgers. In the last couple minutes, you can stick a slice of cheese on there too!

If you’re on the Paleo, GAPS, or Simple Carbohydrate Diet, you need to be sure to accompany vegetables or other safe carbs or starches with your meat!

I’m able to eat beans occasionally, so I’ve chosen a great side of beans with a dash of cheese and avocado.

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GAPS Zucchini Muffins/Bread!

These have been my favorite snack to grab n’ go this month! And my coworkers at Amai Day Spa love eating them too! They’re moist and melt in your mouth. And might I mention guilt-free?

Thanks to Danielle Walker @ Against All Grain. Here is her original recipe:

IMG_0930WM IMG_0800WM

Below are my couple alterations. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with some alternative ingredients:


  • 1-1/2 cup blanched almond flour
    • (Although other flours may substitute, almond is essential for the moist yet light texture)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½-1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3 eggs, beaten (or 2 eggs, with 1/4 cup of warm coconut oil)
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 ripe banana or 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini
    • 1/2 cup zucchini & 1/2 cup carrots shredded is also delicious!


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. I mix everything in one big bowl to avoid extra clean up. First, whip eggs with a fork, then add in other WET ingredients. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Add the DRY ingredients over the wet, and stir only the top layer of dry ingredients gently. I find that doing this slowly mixes in the spices, salt, etc into the flour well enough.
  4. Mix all together thoroughly. I find a large spoon or spatula works great.
  5. Spray or grease: 2 mini loaf pans, 1 big loaf pan as needed. I like to use coconut oil. 12 muffin tins work great for on the go- my favorite!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until clean toothpick poke.


For the love of people and sandwiches

If you’re like most people I know, this list won’t change your life.

But if you dare, read on. Read slowly.

photo courtesy of

imagesYou’re on your lunch break, and you want to find something fresh and healthy.  So you hurry into Subway and order something like a 9-grain wheat bread, some chicken breast strips, American cheese, olives, and light mayo. Here’s what you’re actually eating.

Read slowly.


Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, whole wheat flour, sugar, contains 2% or less of the following: wheat gluten, oat fiber, soybean oil, wheat bran, salt, wheat, rye, yellow corn, oats, triticale, brown rice, barley, flaxseed, millet, sorghum, yeast nutrients (calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate), vitamin D2, dough conditioners (DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, potassium iodate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide), caramel color, refinery syrup, honey, yeast extract, natural flavor, enzymes.


Boneless, skinless chicken breast with rib meat; water, flavor (potassium chloride, maltodextrin, sugar, autolyzed yeast extract, gum arabic, molasses, flavors, salt, lactic acid, disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate, fructose, medium chain triglycerides, dextrose, succinic acid, vinegar solids, thiamine hydrochloride and artificial flavors), soy protein concentrate, modified potato starch, sodium phosphates, salt. Contains soy

AMERICAN CHEESE (processed):

Cultured milk and skim milk, water, cream, sodium citrate, salt, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid (preservative), citric acid, acetic acid, enzymes, lecithin. Contains soy and milk


Ripe olives, water, salt, ferrous gluconate


Water, soybean oil, food starch-modified*, distilled vinegar, egg yolks, contains less than 2% of eggs, salt, spice, potassium sorbate* (a preservative), phosphoric acid*, calcium

disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, DL-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), extractive of paprika, soy lecithin*, phylloquinone (Vitamin K1).

*Ingredient not normally found in mayonnaise.

Contains eggs.


            This is one sandwich. How many of the ingredients did you recognize? If I counted correctly, it took over 100 ingredients to create this sandwich.

I’m not trying to pick on Subway, but it is a great example of an often considered healthier fast food.

But is this real food?

It’s not just at Subway. Go to a grocery store and find cheese that doesn’t have coloring in it. Try buying food without sugar, soy, or corn in it. Do not be deceived by an organic or “all natural” label. Sauce, salad dressing, yogurt,  deli meat, bread…it’s everywhere.

We are constantly consuming hundreds of preservatives and ingredients we can’t even pronounce… and they are making us sick.

Andrew Olson was stunned by the ingredient list for subway sandwiches too. He began an unconventional  diet on The One Ingredient Chef where he stopped eating everything that isn’t in its “natural state.” Basically, you “stop eating any foods that contain more than one, whole ingredient that you can hold in your hand. Cut out the ingredients and you cut out the processing.” Find out why this works:

Many people who hear about my struggles with food don’t know what to make of it. We live in a Starbucks-On-The-Go culture, where our food comes wrapped plastic, not from the earth.

9cca52f5d166d55608eaf34535c05589Our culture has become so disconnected from the source and quality of our food, that most can rarely taste how fake it has become. Did you know that some honey companies will actually feed bees corn syrup and call it natural? We feed processed and genetically modified food to our children that is banned or severely restricted in over sixty other countries.

I share this because I believe much of the sickness I’ve struggled with has been tied to the food I grew up eating. My parents have always valued home cooking and crazy concoctions like vegetable scrambles and green smoothies. Still, we consumed food sprayed daily with pestides and pumped with preservatives. And the previous generations grew up eating hearty meals out of the can. Now, generations later, I do not doubt that its effects are written in our genes.

More and more young people are discovering illnesses like Crohn’s disease, severe allergies, or intolerances. We’re not in our forties or fifties anymore; we’re thirty, twenty, even teenagers. Although we can be genetically prone to certain conditions, the majority of our gut health is an accumulation of environmental factors. Did you know that some people who are gluten-intolerant in the United States have traveled to Italy and experienced no reactions to the pasta there?

In the United States and most Western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality. – Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet

For the love of people and sandwiches, we deserve better.

We should feel free to eat and enjoy food. I’m not saying to ditch the chocolate, but to be more conscious of journey your food makes to your table.

But, you may be thinking, I want food with soul, not that cardboard, gluten-free stuff.

Me too. There are fantastic alternative recipes out there; it just requires a little more searching. That’s what my blog has been all about trying to do: how to somehow keep the pleasure of food alive without sacrificing our health.

I’ve been far from this since my diet has taken a turn for worse, but that has only confirmed how desperately we need to start rethinking food.

Also, note that taste buds really change. When your diet has a steady income of sugar, everything is going to need sugar to keep up with that. When you go without it for a couple months, well, everything begins to taste different.

Anyway, I think we’ve got enough collective brain power in this country to challenge the food consumer culture. We should be asking some serious questions about sustainability and food justice. Who are the sickest people in our country, and what are they eating? Why do the poor have such limited access to fruits and vegetables? What environmental sacrifices are we making in order to mass produce our food? Considering our country’s wealth and resources, why does our middle and upper class just keep getting sicker and sicker? Why have so many other countries prohibited the processed food we eat?

Of course, accepting the reality of this can feel incredibly difficult and isolating. It requires personal sacrifices and time. I live this every day.

But I hope that in the least, this post may prompt you to think twice about how you read labels.