Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cinnamon Baked Donut with Sugar Glaze

I have no idea why I have decided to start making donuts again...but I have!  My kids are happy about this new found passion for all things donut!

I found a donut tin at Goodwill a couple years back (I need to keep looking for another one there!) Goodwill is a swell place to find lots of great deals on kitchen tools that need a new home. You can save a lot shopping there and chances are high that a lot of items didn't get much love in their old kitchen before landing themselves on a shelf at Goodwill.

As far as donuts go, I am going to call these a WHOLE FOOD treat.  It has WHOLE white wheat flour, it has coconut sugar instead of regular sugar, it has a whole pear in the recipe and is dairy free! And I should mention the obvious...it's baked not fried.

Now, remember I said TREAT, this is not something I recommend you eat daily, but compared to donuts elsewhere there is no comparison to nutrients in this donut! And, in my world, I don't think there is much you should have to live without! 

Cinnamon Baked Donut with Sugar Glaze

Adapted from: JoyTheBaker

Makes 6 donuts

For the Donuts:
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (see notes)
  • 2 Tbps Extra Virgin Cold Pressed UNrefined Coconut oil (I recommend Barlean's), melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pear or apple (grated, minced, or pulverized by the Vitamix)

For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (see notes)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-3 tsp of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1)  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a doughnut pan and set aside.

2)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and coconut sugar.  Set aside.

3) In a smaller bowl whisk together coconut oil, vanilla, milk, pear/apple and egg. Add to dry ingredients.

4) Stir together until no flour bits remain and all of the ingredients are well combined.  Try not to overmix the batter.  That might create rubbery doughnuts.

5) Use a small spoon to dollop batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth out and fill each doughnut in the pan three-quarters full with batter.

6) Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and try not to over-bake them.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze.

1) In a small bowl whisk together the powdered coconut sugar, salt, vanilla and milk.  Start out with 1 tsp of milk and add more if needed.

Once the doughnuts are completely cool, use a butter knife to spread each doughnut with glaze.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes in the fridge to harden the glaze.  These doughnuts are best serve the day they’re made.  


NOTES: When baking with coconut sugar I like to blend the coconut sugar into a super fine powder in the Vitamix. I am sure a Magic Bullet would work great too! Make sure when melting the Coconut Oil not to over heat because you don't want to be cooking that egg when you add them together. 

Coconut sugar is rich in nutrients. It is especially high in potassium, and containing almost 10,300 milligrams per liter of coconut sugar. With the same measurement of milligrams per liter, there are 2,020 milligrams of nitrogen, 790 milligrams of phosphorus, 60 of calcium, 290 of magnesium, 450 of sodium, 4,700 of chlorine, 260 of sulfur and also trace amounts of boron, zinc, manganese, iron and copper

Sunday, January 26, 2014

{clean} Mexican Rice

Pork Carnitas from Carmelita's Kitchen (Laguna Beach)

I love Mexican food. It wasn't until I went this past summer to California that I had amazing Mexican food. I can't wait to go back to this little place in Laguna Beach named Carmelita's Kitchen. It was the best food I have. Ever. And they had the most creative cocktail concoctions as well. Strawberry Jalapeno Margaritas. Yes, please.

Ok, I will get to the point. I buy organic brown rice in bulk at Costco. 12 lbs for less than $15 (I need to double check the price, but it's close). Considering organic rice at the grocery store is $5 or more for a small bag, this is a great cost savings. Plus, I don't have to remember to buy rice that often. Winning!

This recipe is simple and we all enjoyed it (except the picky 5 year old). It was made out of what I had on hand which made it super convenient. If you don't have a rice cooker I recommend getting one. It takes practice at first, but then you will not want to make rice without it. 

{clean} Mexican Rice

  • 2 cups organic brown rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tbps Nellie and Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice (I get at Kroger)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 4 ounces of tomato paste

 Add all ingredients to rice cooker. Stir. And turn on rice cooker. 

NOTE: All rice cookers are different so you will have to practice knowing the ratio of water:rice. This is a great rice recipe for burritos, tacos, soups, etc. I love Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice and use it often. 

And the dessert at Carmelita's Kitchen was amazing too! Man, I need to go back to California just for this restaurant alone. We went twice in one week!!!

The Best Dairy-Free Banana Split Sundae Ever

This is so simple for me to make because I have all these items at home all the time (except the ice cream). But, we may have to change that! ha!

For this recipe I used frozen pineapples and strawberries that I defrosted for a bit prior to making. The frozen pineapple from Costco is amazingly sweet. Highly recommend trying it. Typically in the summer I always have fresh strawberries, but that's not the case in the winter months in Indiana.

The Best Dairy-Free Banana Split Sundae Ever


  • Banana, ripe
  • Coconut Bliss Dairy Free Ice Cream-Vanilla
  • Strawberries, chopped
  • Pineapple, chopped
  • Enjoy Life Dairy Free mini chips
  • Magic Shell Topping (recipe)
  • Raw pecans, chopped

1) In a bowl, slice or chunk a ripe banana. Lay it out nicely. You want your sundae to be pretty.
2) Scoop one large scoop of Coconut Bliss on your bananas.
3) Arrange strawberries, and pineapples on ice cream as you wish.
4) Pour magic shell topping over ice cream.
5) Sprinkle Pecans and Chocolate Chips.
6) Enjoy!

NOTES: I get the Enjoy Life at Kroger or Earth Fare.  The ice cream is at Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Make sure there are no oils in your nuts. You could try making dairy free whipped cream from full fat coconut milk but I only had light on hand and that won't work!

Dairy-Free Magic Shell Chocolate Topping

This is beyond simple to make and will impress your kids (if you don't have kids, impress yourself)! 

Dairy-Free Magic Shell Chocolate Topping
recipe adapted from The Coconut Mama


  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (I recommend Barlean's)
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder (I recommend Ghirardelli)
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey or Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Sea Salt


Gently heat the coconut oil, cocoa powder and honey together in a small saucepan over low. Stir until ingredients are melted. Add vanilla and salt and mix.  Pour warm magic shell sauce over ice cream or dessert of choice. 

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Reheat over low to reuse.

This recipe makes approximately 1 1/4 cup of magic shell sauce.

NOTES: I added 1/4 cup Barlean's Silk Chocolate Greens powder (which I buy from Amazon) and 1/4 cup cocoa and it turned out great. I don't plan to store this in the fridge, but plan to keep at room temp and use within a few days.

Friday, January 24, 2014

{dairy free} Chocolate Banana Milkshake

This is my son's favorite drink! If I trusted him to run the Vitamix he could make it himself (he's only 5). That day will come before I know it !

I typically do not buy things with "natural flavors" , but in this case I make an exception. 

{dairy free} Chocolate Banana Milkshake


  • 1 scoop Barlean's Chocolate Silk Greens
  • 1 tbps Chia Seeds
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup (approx) unsweetened coconut milk (vanilla or regular)

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender (such as a Vitamix) and blend until desired consistency.   

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cholesterol Numbers {finally where they need to be}

I remember back in August of 2010 when I got my first news my cholesterol numbers weren't great.  This all started when I had talked to my family doctor (at the time) and requested I get a physical. I had just lost a friend to Breast Cancer at the age of 34 and I wanted to get on top of my health.  I felt like I had let myself down health-wise when I got the news. I mean, I already knew I had weight to lose, but this was a real hit to my self esteem. I had already been off Diet Coke for almost 30 days at that point. I was trying to make a difference.

But, let's be real, I knew I hadn't taken care of myself like I should have. I was told that day I needed to start on a statin drug to get my numbers where they needed to be. The doctor said I could try to make a change in 3 months on my own before deciding and see if the numbers lowered.  I happily agreed to try to lower it on my own. I had heard so many bad things about Statin drugs and their potential side effects.

I remember getting the call of the results of the second or third set of tests (not sure which) and pulling over in a parking lot to write them down. Again the nurse said my doctor wants me to start medications right away. I was in tears at this point. Yes, my triglycerides had dropped by half but the other numbers didn't budge. I felt defeated. Was I making the dumb and irresponsible choice to not go on medications and in turn setting myself up for a heart attack down the road?  I had a family! I had two kids! I wanted to make the right decision.

I had already consulted with two doctor friends that lived out of state and they both suggested I don't start the medications since my numbers weren't that high. I agreed and decided to embrace the heart healthy lifestyle with hopes I could lower my numbers naturally. What really got me annoyed about my past doctor is the fact the nurse told me to start medications on the phone and I pushed back and said I got two other opinions that suggest not to go on medications right now given my numbers aren't "that" high and my age.  Within a couple of minutes of the nurse consulting my doctor (I cried while waiting on her return call) the nurse said "I talked to the doctor and she said she's fine if you don't start medications.". WHAT? Wow. Ok, I am going to move on. I have a doctor now I love.

I was getting cholesterol numbers checked every 3 months so I had many results that were total bummers. I had many chances to just give up. Walk away from this {clean} life I had created. I had a gap of time between some tests as I was on a wait list for my new doctor. I must say I enjoyed the break of worry. My first results with my new doctor were in June of 2013. They weren't horrible, but still not great. It's probably my fault because out of spite I had fattening pizza the night before my test!  I don't recommend that. 

On January 13th, 2014 (3 years+ since I started this journey) I had another test. FINALLY, I got the results I had prayed for...

My overall cholesterol was 188 (needs to be <200)
HDL was 42 (needs to be >40)
LDL was 122 (near optimal is  100-129)
Trigs was 118 (needs to be < 150)

My ratio needs to be 5.00 or less.
It is now 4.48!

Also, my doctor ran a HsCRP test, also know as C-Reactive Protein.

C-reactive protein -- or CRP -- appears to be correlated to heart disease risk. Inflammation (swelling) of the arteries has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.

Low Risk: < 1.0
Average Risk: 1.0-3.0
High: >3.0-10.0
Indeterminant: > 10.0

Mine was .67

This was great news! I am so grateful for this journey to better overall health. I no longer have to worry about weight loss. I maintain my weight easily. I remain good energy levels and feel younger. I feel good about my decision and I am beyond happy to finally get a result I am proud to call mine. 

Make sure you know your numbers.

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

I don't know what has come over me because I am now eating shrimp. I used to hate shrimp. I do buy it frozen, precooked and ready to heat from Costco. Super simple.

 This is an adaptation of a recipe from my Clean Eating Magazine.

This is a wonderful pasta dish that leave you feeling very satisfied you didn't give up all the creamy, heavy pasta meals you once loved. Best part of all, you don't feel bloated and tired afterwards. 

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

  • 8 ounce box of pasta (I used Corn/Quinoa Ancient Harvest)
  • 1-2 tsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 2/3 cups of Classic Rice Milk (Or plain Coconut Milk would work great too)
  • 1 Tbps Cornstarch (* see notes below)
  • 3 Tbps high quality Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano(+ a little more for garnish)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (BPA-free is best)
  • 10 sun-dried or oven dried tomatoes, drained, and sliced (The Costco brand is great)
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 3 Tbps fresh chopped basil


1) Cook pasta according to package. 
2) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan on low-medium saute the EVOO with the garlic, thyme, oregano, and pepper flakes (if using)until garlic begins to soften (about 30 seconds).
3) Add the milk to the pan and stir.
4) Add a cornstarch "slurry" to the mixture and stir over medium constantly until the mixture has began to thicken. 
5) Add in the cheese and stir. Add in salt and pepper. 
6) Add in frozen (or even thawed) shrimp, beans, tomatoes and spinach. Stir until well mixed.
7) Add in cooked pasta, stir.
8) Mix in chopped fresh basil. 
9) Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

NOTES: Create a cornstarch "slurry" by mixing the Tbps of cornstarch with about 1 Tbps water and mix until it dissolves before adding to your mixture. This will insure there are no lumps in the recipe. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

{dairy free} Creamy Potato Soup

Creamy potato soup...with ZERO dairy...yep! I have accomplished it. This isn't completely meatless as I used chicken stock.  I think it adds nice flavor (without adding butter).  I wanted to try to get it completely dairy free, but still seem like a comfort food. 

{dairy free} Creamy Potato Soup


  • 6-8 gold potatoes (scrubbed and diced with skin left on)
  • one small onion (chopped)
  • 1 Tbps Organic EVOO (I recommend Kirkland brand at Costco)
  • one small leek (whites/light greens only, chopped, rinsed)
  • 4 garlic cloves(minced)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups plain rice milk
  • 2 cups organic low sodium chicken stock


1) Saute leeks and onions in EVOO and garlic in a large pot. 
2) Add thyme, potatoes, rice milk, and chicken stock to the pot. 
3) Cook until potatoes are tender. 
4) Ladle out about 3 cups into Vitamix and blend until creamy. Pour the mixture back in to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with green onions (and cheese if you if aren't wanting to keep this dairy free). In my opinion it's just as food without the cheese in this recipe. 

Serve with bread (or clean crackers) and large salad.  ENJOY. 

NOTE: Make sure to soak the leeks after they are chopped to get all the dirt off of them. Then rinse. Make sure you use gold potatoes as they have a more creamier taste. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Heart Health

Many of you that have been following me for years know my battle to get my cholesterol numbers lower. If you don't you can read my beginning blog entry here with some numbers: Cholesterol {the good, the bad, and the ugly}

In this journey to get them lower I have realized that those numbers are NOT the only deciding factor of good heart health. Other factors that make you at higher risk of developing heart are:

  •  Smoking
  • Obesity (20% over your ideal weight) For ex: a women 5'-6" that weighs 190 lbs is considered obese
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High C-Reactive Protein 
  • Uncontrolled stress and anger
  • Physically inactivity
I am happy to say that I have none of these above risk factors (except borderline cholesterol).  I had my C-reactive protein tested this past summer (June 2013) and my number was .67.  I had no idea you could do such a test.

 (see chart below for reference)

Low Risk <1.0
Average Risk 1.0-3.0
High >3.0-10.0
Indeterminant 10.0 +

What is C-reactive protein or CRP ? It appears to be correlated to heart disease risk. Inflammation (swelling) of the arteries has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.

The body produces CRP during the general process of inflammation. Therefore, CRP is a "marker" for inflammation, meaning its presence indicates an increased state of inflammation in the body.  In studies involving large numbers of patients, CRP levels seem to be correlated with levels of heart disease risk. In fact, CRP seems to predict cardiovascular risk at least as well as cholesterol levels do.

This makes me so happy to hear these results. My mother has Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation in your joints, and I am hoping with diet and exercise I can avoid getting this disease or at least prolong it from happening.

I will get a new set of results in the next few days or so and I will report those results.  If you have ANY of these risk factors, I highly suggest you get your C-Reactive Protein checked (blood work). Also, if you don't know your cholesterol numbers it's time you got them.  It could save your life.

I still to this day do not regret opting to NOT take statin drugs. My new doctor is proud of me. He is proud that I decided to lose the weight, eat a heart healthy diet, and stay active for the past 3 years instead of opting for drugs (and all the side effects that come with). I truly love my doctor. He is willing to treat ME and not my symptoms. There is a HUGE difference in this doctor's approach compared to my last. Choose your family doctor very wisely and don't settle.  Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. You are worth the fight.

Here are some ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease:

Quit smoking . Smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers. Smoking is also the most preventable risk factor. If you smoke, quit. Better yet, never start smoking at all. Nonsmokers who are exposed to constant smoke (such as living with a spouse who smokes) also have an increased risk. So taking measures to eliminate this exposure to smoke is important.
Improve cholesterol levels. The risk for heart disease increases as your total amount of cholesterol increases. In general, your total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg/dl; HDL, the good cholesterol, higher than 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women (and the higher the better); and LDL should be less than 130 mg/dl in healthy adults. For those with diabetes or multiple risk factors for heart disease, LDL goal should be less than 100 mg/dl (some experts recommend less than 70 mg/dl if you are very high risk). Interpretation and treatment of cholesterol values must be individualized, taking into account all of your risk factors for heart disease. A diet low in cholesterol and saturated and trans fat will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease. Regular exercise will also help lower "bad" cholesterol and raise "good" cholesterol. Medications are often needed to reach cholesterol goals.
Control high blood pressure. About 60 million people in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Nearly one in three adults has systolic blood pressure (the upper number) over 140, and/or diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) over 90, which is the definition of hypertension. Like cholesterol, blood pressure interpretation and treatment should be individualized, taking into account your entire risk profile. Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management, and if needed, medications.
Control diabetes. If not properly controlled, diabetes can contribute to significant heart damage, including heart attacks and death. Control diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Get active. Many of us lead sedentary lives, exercising infrequently or not at all. People who don't exercise have higher rates of death and heart disease compared to people who perform even mild to moderate amounts of physical activity. Even leisure-time activities like gardening or walking can lower your risk of heart disease. Most people should exercise 30 minutes a day, at moderate intensity, on most days. More vigorous activities are associated with more benefits. Exercise should be aerobic, involving the large muscle groups. Aerobic activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, and jogging. If walking is your exercise of choice, use the pedometer goal of 10,000 steps a day. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Eat right . Eat a heart-healthy diet low in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and refined sugars. Try to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins and other nutrients, especially antioxidants, which have been proven to lower your risk for heart disease. Also eat plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts significant strain on your heart and worsens several other heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Research is showing that obesity itself increases heart disease risk. By eating right and exercising, you can lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Manage stress. Poorly controlled stress and anger can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Use stress and anger management techniques to lower your risk. Learn to manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques, learning how to manage your time, setting realistic goals, and trying some new techniques such as guided imagery, massage, Tai Chi, or yoga.

taken from webMD

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rockstone Pizzeria & Pub {Fishers}

A gourmet pizza joint opened last year in Fishers. If you haven't checked it out, you should! Local restaurateur Ed Sahm, along with business partners Ryan Bucksot and Bill Greenman, opened the restaurant with a menu of customizable pizzas featuring locally sourced meats and vegetables, baked pasta dishes, salads, house-made foccacia for sandwiches, wood-fired crackers and desserts. Gluten-free options also will be available.

Ed Sahm is a great guy, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Megan S Ott Foundation (an organization founded by my late friend, Megan, right before she lost her battle to Breast Cancer). I love supporting his restaurants, and haven't been to one that isn't great!

Photo by Nuvo.net

I can't say that everything in this restaurant is clean, but I can say it tastes fresh and they source local fresh ingredients. Their City Ham, Capacolla and Chorizo are from Goose the Market. Their chicken is Indiana Amish chicken which is free of any hormones or antibiotics and free range. They order how many whole chickens they will use for the week and they are delivered without ever hitting a freezer. Their pork shoulder is also from the same producers of their chicken. All meats are sourced from Indiana.

Wood Fired Buff Chick Pizza

Another added bonus is that all of their sauces, dough, dressings and desserts are made in house daily.

Rockstone Pub serves a seasonally changing wine and beer menu with 24 local, regional and imported beer options on tap and 30 bottled beer varieties. Twenty-five wines wines are offered as well, along with sake and sangria cocktails.

The 4,800-square-foot restaurant seats 80 in the bar area and 40 in the family dining area. So if you are concerned with dining with a bunch of kids I can assure the areas are very separated. 

Check out their website: www.rockstonepizzapub.com