Lemon Coconut Creme Paleo (and Candida-diet friendly) Cake!

As I mentioned before, a close friend of mine has been struggling under the confines of a very restrictive diet (Phase I of the Candida-diet) and the lack of variety has been very draining on her.

Her birthday was last week and I knew she was very upset that not only could she not indulge on her birthday with a drink, a birthday cake was totally out of the picture.

Or was it?

I decided I was NOT going to let her celebrate her 28th birthday without a sweet treat to make it special. Working with no grains, no sugars, and limited approved ingredients would make for a challenge, but I was ready to test my culinary prowess.

This is what I made my best friend:

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What you are looking at is:

Grain Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, and 100% Paleo-Approved.

And, most importantly, DELICIOUS.

How did I do it?

Well, if you recall, a few weeks ago I decided to experiment with a Candida-approved Italian bread recipe that turned out REALLY well.

Running with that variation, I decided to see if I could turn a savory bread into a sweet cake with some mild variations. After FOUR experiments (using different measures of coconut milk, eggs, and flour ratios), I came up with the following PERFECT cake mix:

PERFECT PALEO (SUGAR FREE!) LEMON CAKE:

3/4 cup unsweetened, pure coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut fiber
1/2 cup granulated Stevia
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tbsp alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon, with pulp

The cake would be prepared like any other cake: dry ingredients are first in the bowl, and then you’ll fold in the wet ingredients.

Place dough (it’ll be thick, but pliable) in a 9″ round cake pan that you’ve greased ahead of time. I used organic coconut oil spray, but you can go with whatever oil you prefer.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350.

But what is a CAKE without icing?

Now, I knew I’d never recreate a perfect, fluffy icing …and if I did, I realized it would be very temperature-weak, since it would have to be comprised of coconut oil which melts at pretty much any temperature over 72 degrees. So, I decided to forgo a traditional icing and aim for a lemony, zesty glaze to drizzle on top. After dabbling, I landed on the perfect recipe cited below.

ZESTY PALEO (SUGAR FREE!) LEMON ICING GLAZE:

1/3 cup unsweetened, pure coconut cream
4 tbsp coconut oil
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 egg white
1/3 cup stevia
1 tbsp alcohol-free pure vanilla extract

The icing is best prepared in a sauce pan on the stove, stirring NONSTOP until it thickens. Pour over cake while still warm. You’ll have a ton with this recipe, so think of this like a Lemon Tres Leches cake!

And there you have it! My best friend got to enjoy a slice of REAL CAKE on her birthday, and I had a real win in the kitchen!

For those of you worried about calories, the entire cake was roughly 2,100 total (with the icing included), and that worked out to about 10-12 slices, depending on how heavy-handed you are with your servings. If anyone wants a full nutritional breakdown (I have it!), let me know!

So, what are you waiting for? Time to start baking!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Low Carb Diet Underway

OK, OK. Let me start this post off by saying this: I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

I’ve been very good about not stressing my weight for several weeks, and just eating well (for the most part) and exercising, trying not to pay attention to the scale but focusing on how my body feels instead.

Well, after a weekend of binging on junk food and drinking copious amounts of Tequila, the scale was NOT my friend this morning.

And, coincidentally, I’m just 12 days away from my 31st birthday/.

Yeah, so, about that “peace with my body thing” …it’s crunch time.

My husband and I agreed to hold one another accountable to a low carb, moderate-to-high fat diet between now and Friday, July 10th to see if we can undo some of the damage (aka, spare tire chub) caused as a result of our weekend-drinking for the past few months.

We grilled a bunch of lean meats (chicken breasts, turkey burgers, etc) to get us through the work week, and stocked up on spinach, kale, and broccoli to make our meals as healthy as possible.

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STACK ‘O MEAT!

Between now and July 10th, we’re aiming to eat under 25g carbs per day (easier said than done, by the way — EVERYTHING has carbs!) and stick to 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.

My lunch pal at work has 4 cups of broccoli, 3 chicken breasts, spicy deli mustard, and 2 cups of spinach.

For breakfast, I actually made my go-to egg muffins, which are just egg whites, whole eggs, turkey bacon, and broccoli mixed together and baked in a muffin pan:

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Just five minutes of prep and then 15 minutes in the oven to get a dozen of these little beauties, which are roughly 70 calories each and taste amazing!

My hope is to go from today’s weight (133.2 – yipes) back down to 127-128 in time for my birthday on July 11th.

Now, before you go saying, “Heyyyyy, you can’t safely lose that much weight in 10 days,” please know that I’m expecting to lose 2-3 lbs in the next two days purely from water weight.

My husband and I had a lot of salty and decadent foods this weekend, and it’s pretty normal for me to drop 1-3 lbs between Monday and Wednesday just from the shedding of the salts from my system. So, realistically, I’m aiming to lose about 2-3 lbs in the next 10 days, which is doable with moderate exercise and a clean diet.

I’m not going to go to any extremes; my goal is just to tighten up a bit between now and then to ensure I can enjoy my weekend on the beach, which has become a birthday tradition.

Wish me luck!

~ Tori

Product Review: Eastwind Cashew Butter

For anyone that knows me, it’s pretty obvious that I have a sweet tooth. I can eat, and eat, and eat sugars all day long.

I normally try to satiate the craving with a spoonful of almond butter (except I have to avoid Maranatha’s Caramel Almond butter, because it’s so good, I can’t control myself), but it normally doesn’t cut the craving for candy.

And then I discovered Eastwind Cashew Butter.

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Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of cashews – they’re normally the last nuts I pick out of the deluxe mix, once the pecans and walnuts are gone – but I’ve always thought they were just so-so. Until today.

This cashew butter is amazing.

Buttery, creamy, slightly sweet …but there’s no sugar or salt added. It’s like a miracle in a jar.

I can’t stop eating it. I reached in for a spoon, and had to have my husband pry the jar out of my hands after I’d polished off my fourth serving. And for 210 calories per serving, I *needed* that jar taken away.

I’m already salivating at the thought of what I can do with this cashew butter. Mixing it into sauces, baking with it, smearing it all over a paleo waffle or toast. YUMMMMM.

I strongly suggest picking up a jar if you want to experience a low carb taste of heaven – but make sure you have someone who will rip it out of your hands when you realize you’re spooning it out from the jar with your fingers like a wild animal!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

The Downside of Morning Workouts

I both love and hate Thursdays.

I love them, because I work late: 12pm to 9pm. I love them because I get to work out in the morning, and feel like I’m starting my day out productive.

I hate them, though, because that morning workout I enjoy so much turns me into a RAVENOUS, CANDY-INHALING BEAST all day long.

I’ve heard that morning workouts do wonders to boost the metabolism, but all it seems to do for me is set my appetite on overdrive.

I eat, and eat, and eat… and even though I feel full (fit to bursting!), I want more.

So far today, I’ve had:

  • 4 tbsp of Cashew Butter (I could easily eat the whole jar – so good)
  • 56 oz (yes, 56 oz) of Minute Maid light lemonade (not Paleo, but it’s so delicious)
  • Quest Bar (Double Chocolate Chunk- not Paleo, but one of the healthier cheats!)
  • 1 cup of frozen mango
  • 5 Milky Way minis (definitely not Paleo!)
  • 5 Caramel Creams (definitely not Paleo!)
  • 4 slices of Julian’s Bakery coconut bread
  • 4 tbsp of mustard
  • 8 oz of Boar’s Head deli chicken
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 cups of Snapea Crisps (not Paleo)
  • 2 Caveman cookies

That’s right. It’s not even 7pm and I’ve already consumed almost 1,900 calories. Yikes.

Granted, my workout was intense (90 minutes on the stairmaster – burned about 1700 calories), but YEESH.

I’m stuffed to the point of pain, and yet I still want more food. I’m making myself drink water and -gasp- even Diet Pepsi (I normally avoid soda like the plague) just to control myself from eating more.

I’ve had so much today, I’m honestly thinking about squeezing in another hour at the gym after work, just to cancel out some of the ridiculous consumption from the day.

And this, my friends, is why I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays.

Does anyone else have this problem?!

~ Tori

Infrared Body Wraps?

As anyone that follow this blog knows, I’m normally very skeptical about fad diets, miracle weight loss plans, or anything promising quick results. I scoff at juice cleanses (really, why remove the FIBER from a fruit/veggie? that’s what keeps you full!) and I can’t STAND when I find out friends have signed up to be distributors of shakes, pills, or It Works! body wraps. I still continue to love these people, of course, but I *might* find myself hiding their incessant posts on social media, to be honest.

I’ve learned through over 14 years of struggling with my body image that there is NO SUCH THING AS A MIRACLE CURE.

You have to work out consistently.
You have to eat right.
You have to exercise moderation and self-control.
You have to make a lifestyle change.

A pill will not go to the gym for you. A body wrap will not cancel out loaded chili cheese fries. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

I have been focusing on a holistic approach to my health lately, aiming not to weigh myself/take measurements and just focus on eating clean, working out, and recognizing how I feel each day, versus how I look, and it’s been working for me. Clothing has gotten looser, and I’m starting to regain my normal energy and tenacity. I go to the gym because I love how it makes me feel, not because I’m punishing myself for gaining a pound the day before.

Despite my skeptic nature, I have heard a lot of buzz about infrared body wraps, which use infrared (heat) technology to penetrate the skin and actually burn through the layers of visceral fat, and I’ve found myself curious to try them out. From what I read, you literally burn calories — anywhere from 900 to 1400 — during a session (which lasts approximately 60 minutes) and the wrap allows you to target specific problem areas on the body.

As someone who has lost more than 80 lbs, I’ve got some problem areas I’d like to spot-reduce, so I was intrigued. But, as someone who has lost 80+ pounds, I also know burning 1000+ calories is NEVER as easy as just laying on a sterile table and baking under a lamp… right?

I did more online research and finally decided the science had merit, and that an infrared wrap sounded like it could be a legitimate booster to (and not a replacement for) my current exercise and nutrition plan. As a worst case scenario, it sounded like it would be a relaxing experience (who wouldn’t like to be swaddled in warm blankets and take a nap for an hour in a spa-setting), so I decided to give it a shot.

I called around and finally decided on a clinic called HLC Wellness in Lake Mary, FL, which is a medical spa that specializes in helping those who’ve lost weight and struggle with excess skin and/or those individuals looking to enhance their regime.

I had the opportunity to speak to the owner, Mark, both before and after having an infrared wrap, and I definitely felt more confident about my experiment. He assured me that one wrap won’t be a miracle cure for my fat, no more than one workout at the gym won’t incinerate all the weight on my body. He was straightforward and honest, stating that the infrared light increases core metabolism (which, technically, metabolism is the heat at which your body is running, so this makes sense), and that the result is a higher burn of calories. He pointed out that the people that see the best results from the infrared wraps, along with all the other services the clinic provides, are those that are participating in their health — working out and exercising — versus those that come in for a wrap and celebrate their “hard work” with a pizza when they leave. He wasn’t preaching miracles: he was acknowledging the real effort that goes into fitness and health, and I appreciated his honesty.

So, I went for it.

Unlike other gimmicky wraps, I didn’t have to strip to my undies and get slathered in something sticky, stinky, or otherwise uncomfortable. i was encouraged to wear sweats and a t-shirt, and no mystery lotions were coerced upon me to “enhance” the effects.

A really nice technician wrapped me up in the laser bands, which, for lack of a better explanation, looked like rubber hoses flattened by a tank (Wiley Coyote style!), and she explained that it will be warm, so to let her know if I felt uncomfortable at any time. She put John Mayer on the radio for me (yay, no drowsy spa music!) and turned the lights low so I could either nap or relax.

Here’s what I looked like:

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Sort of like a plastic mummy in a rave? Ha!

They took measurements before and after, measuring my chest, ribcage, waist, hips, and buttocks.

I forgot to ask what my before measurements were, but after 50 minutes in the infrared wrap – which never got uncomfortably hot and was actually quite relaxing – my rib cage went down 1/2 an inch, my waist went down 2 inches (whoa!), my hips went down 1.5 inches, and my buttocks went down 2 inches.

I never felt dehydrated, and despite what I was expecting, I wasn’t super sweaty when the wrap ended. I was able to cool off with a moist towelette and dress without any discomfort.

But here’s where it gets interesting …

As anyone that works out consistently knows, you feel your workout for hours later. The fatigue in your muscles, the slight soreness, and the overall boost of oxytocin and serotonin (happy drugs) that have you feeling great all day.

I had the wrap on Thursday morning at 9am and did not work out after; I went straight to work. Yet, despite not working out at the gym, I gradually felt the warmth in my muscles and tiny soreness that comes from a good sweat session on the elliptical.

Could this really be from the wrap?

I felt energized all day, and actually skipped my normal coffee break around 3pm. I really felt like I was riding the high (a runner’s high, if you will) throughout the day!

When I got home from work at 9:30pm, I felt so good I decided to do a mini workout before bed, and squeezed in about 35 minutes on the elliptical (and 10 minutes of speed-walking, but that’s minor) at the community gym.

This morning I woke up just as energized and enthused, and while I didn’t expect to see the scale drop 5 lbs overnight, I was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) to see that I went from 132.6 to 131.8 overnight.

While I’m not contributing the loss to the wrap as a whole, I can definitely say the infrared wrap had a positive effect. At the minimum, the heat and spa-setting did wonders for my mental state. At the maximum and best case scenario, it worked just as it said it would, burning between 900 to 1,400 calories and it directly contributed to my overnight drop of 0.8 lbs.

Either way, I will definitely do another one.

On that note… it’s time for a snack! Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Paleo Sangria!

OK, this is a quick and easy recipe for a refreshing, summer beverage for those of you on the Paleo diet but still craving a little alcoholic sustenance!

Paleo Sangria!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups organic red wine (personally, I love Malbec, as it’s not sweet, but not overly dry)
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 orange, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, frozen
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, frozen
  • 1.5 oz 100% agave tequila
  • 2 sprigs of mint (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In two large (16 oz) mason jars, divide your wine evenly. Add your lime juice, orange juice (hold zest until the end), and berries. Stir well, and then split the tequila between both (it gives it an extra punch)! Add the sparkling water (don’t stir – it’ll go flat!) and then top with the mint sprigs and orange zest. Enjoy!

I ate the mint sprig before the picture. I can't help it: mint is my FAVORITE!

I ate the mint sprig before the picture. I can’t help it: mint is my FAVORITE!

It’s not too sweet, but perfectly refreshing with the fruit and fresh juice! I make this year round, but it’s perfect for the summer, since the added sparkling water prevents it from overly dehydrating you in the heat. You can substitute white wine if you’re not a red fan, but you’ll get more benefits from the antioxidants in red. Plus, it’s prettier! 🙂

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Paleo Stuffed Peppers!

OK… everyone has been raging about stuffed peppers in my office this week. For three days in a row, it’s all anyone can talk about.

“Ohhhh, my wife made these ground andouille sausage and quinoa stuffed peppers last night and they were amazing!”

“I saw a recipe on Pinterest for these brown rice and ground pork cheesy stuffed peppers I can’t wait to try!”

“Have I said stuffed peppers yet today? Stuffed peppers! Stuffed peppers! STUFFFFFFED PEPPPPPERS!!”

OK. I get it, Paleo gods, I get it. I need to make some Paleo-friendly stuffed peppers.

However, I work full-time and hate the thought of coming home at 6pm to clean, prep, and bake stuffed peppers for an hour …because, damn it, I’m starving when I get home from work. I want to CHOW DOWN!

So… it’s crockpot time. Time for the magic.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 bunches of pearl onions
  • 8 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup raw button mushrooms
  • 2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic marinara
  • 1 cup red wine (of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp ground garlic
  • 6 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 4 tbsp dried onion flakes (if you haven’t noticed, I add these to everything I cook)
  • Non-stick Coconut Oil spray (I prefer Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

In your crockpot, spray a thin layer of coconut oil to prevent searing/sticking. Clean your bell peppers, chopping the tops off and removing the seeds/insides. Place the bell peppers into the crockpot.

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Now, in a large pan (I used a wok), spray your coconut spray (to prevent sticking) and put it on medium-high heat. Gentle saute your mushrooms (I chopped mine small), pearl onions, pepper caps (why waste them? dice ’em and add it in!) until they were nice and soft. Once tender, I added the raw ground turkey and seasoning.

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After the turkey was cooked through, I added 1 cup of the marinara, mixing well.

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While that cooked down, I mixed the remaining cup of marinara and the wine and poured it IN BETWEEN the peppers in the crockpot. The hope is that the fluid would help to poach the bell peppers, making them soft and sweet.

Once the meat mixture cooked down, I used a big spoon and (quite clumsily) stuffed the peppers in the crockpot.

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Don’t those look AMAZING? Who needs grains? Not this girl!

Since the meat is cooked and I won’t be home until after 8pm tonight, I set the crockpot to LOW and to cook for three hours, then reset to “warm” so it would still be steamy warm when I get home.

Now, since my husband isn’t devout Paleo, I sprinkled a little low fat mozzarella and Parmesan on four of these to make them extra tasty for him, and I plan to enjoy mine with some freshly mashed avocado.

Needless to say, I can’t wait for my work day to end so I can go inhale these!

Bon appetit, my friends, and I’ll let you know how they turned out tomorrow!

~ Tori