RECIPE: Strawberry Shakeology Energy Bites

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As I am on year 2 of Fast Metabolism Diet maintenance, I thought I would also keep my health in check by incorporating Shakeology shakes into my routine. My sister is a BeachBody coach and I am not going to lie, she looks A. Maze. Ing. She gave me some samples of this popular shake mix to try and I really liked them. They are full of really amazing nutrients, and supposedly will help you lose weight. I was more into the nutrients and changing things up for my "protein days".

I got the vegan ones, and my only complaint is that they don't offer vanilla vegan. They seem to make it for a smaller refresh kit or something, but they don't offer it in the month long vegan combo pack, just chocolate and strawberry.

What's up with that!? Vegan-ish people like vanilla, too!

Truth be told, I think strawberry is OK, but it's not a fave. So I began playing with the mix to see if I could make some tasty treats for snacks out of all these packets. This is my first attempt to make some energy bites. 1-2 of these are a great 3:30 snack-where usually naughty choices are made. They keep in the fridge for a week or so, and you can also freeze them.

So my week 1 on Shakeology has been great, but it has affected my system a little. It has slowed down my digestion, blocking things up...know what I mean? (Don't want to get gross on y'all). I guess everyone's body reacts differently. So I am working through that. My sister suggested cutting back to half the amount of "Shakeo" and upping my fruit and fiber. Also after reading some boards where some people complained of the same problem, almond milk might also be to blame. So I may try water in the shakes and more than the recipe calls for, making them less thick, until my body gets used to it.

Interested in Shakeology? Here is a link, and I know a GREAT coach if you want to really join the BeachBody workout craze. :) She's my sister so be nice to her or I'll come find you.

Strawberry Shakeology Energy Bites


1/2 cup almond butter
3 Tbsp. Monk Fruit Sweetener (or honey)
1/2 cup ground almond meal
1 packet strawberry flavored Shakeology
3-5 Tbsp. water (enough to cause the mixture to come together and shape)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup raw shredded coconut (optional)
1 tsp. almond extract


In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients in the bowl except the water. Use a fork and mash it all together. It will be dry and crumbly. Next, sprinkle water over the mixture-I started with 3 tablespoons and mixed and mashed, and kept adding water until I could shape the mixture into 1 1/2" balls. If you are using coconut you can roll then in some extra coconut for a pretty coating before storing.

Put in an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment paper, for a week or so. You can also freeze them for about 3 months.

And evidently, cats may be into them. This is Moon checking out the goods!

RECIPE: FMD P3 Gluten Free Almond Meal and Lemon Cake

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Well, my month long strict Fast Metabolism Diet is at an end. I did not lose as much as I did last time I did it, but I did not have as much weight to lose this time-and I basically was on maintenance the rest of last year. So the shock to my system was not so extreme.

At any rate, I feel great and it was a nice reboot after the holidays.

To end my month on the Fast Metabolism Diet, I am celebrating with a P3 compliant dessert. I cut it up into pieces and froze it so I can stay on maintenance for the rest of the year (like I did last year). This can be adapted to whatever diet restrictions you have, or you can make it traditional with sugar and canola oil-or sub in some butter for the oil. It's very adaptable and simple. And I have a healthy treat to heat up and enjoy over the next few months.

FMD P3 Gluten Free Almond Meal and Lemon Cake


4 eggs 
1 cup of Monk Fruit sweetener or xylitol (if you are OK with sugar, use sugar)
3 cups of almond meal flour 
1 teaspoon of baking powder 
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 
1/4  teaspoon of salt 
1/2 cup of safflower oil or coconut oil 
zest of one lemon 
1/4 cup of lemon juice 
almond milk (or regular milk) on hand if batter is to stiff


Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a nonstick springform pan, 9 to 10" wide, with coconut oil or brush with olive oil or safflower oil.

Whisk eggs and sweetener until lightly colored and foamy. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in the almond meal with the baking powder. 


Mix until smooth. If batter is too thick, splash in some almond milk and mix so it's creamy and smooth. Pour into a springform pan. Bake in the middle oven for 50 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes until the cake is set. Run a butter knife around the edge to make sure that the edges have completely released from the pan. Unclip the sides and let the cake cool completely. Served with fresh fruit.

RECIPE: Gluten Free Apple Crumble Pie

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When you are entertaining a big group, inevitably you are going to run into gluten free guests. When it comes to traditional desserts, a gluten free restriction is pretty difficult to work with. But I was determined to figure out a gluten free apple pie for my sister. After playing with a couple recipes -and some help from Pamela's GF products and Whole Foods, this turned out wonderfully.

I used a frozen GF crust from Whole Foods, and I transferred the crust over to one of my traditional pie pans (I hate those disposable, flimsy tin pans), and reshaped it (and pieced some of it together because it didn't like getting transferred) as I pressed it into my larger, sturdier pie pan.

You can use your own favorite GF flour replacement. We tend to like Namaste and Pamela's-Bob's Red Mill is also really good. This pie was also low in refined sugar. I used honey and maple syrup which will not only add flavor but sweeten things up naturally.

My dad had some and he had no idea it was gluten free, and said it was delicious.
So, there you go!

Gluten Free Apple Crumble Pie


1 gluten-free pie crust, defrosted, pricked with a fork
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
tablespoons butter
3 pounds of assorted apples such as Gala, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious 
1/2 cup of honey 
1/4  cup of granulated sugar 
finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon 
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg 
dash of ground cloves 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the topping 
1/4 cup of rolled oats 
1/2 cup of gluten-free flour 
1/2  cup of lightly packed brown sugar 
1/2  teaspoon of salt 
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
6 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into small pieces


Preheat the oven to 350˚

Pre-bake the crust until just golden about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile make the filling. Peel, core and slice the apples and mix them in a bowl with honey, sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla, salt and spices. Let macerate for one hour. Drain the apples, reserving the juice. Pour the juice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced to one third. While the juice is simmering, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the drained apples and cook until just softened, abut 10 minutes. Take off the heat, toss with maple syrup, the reduced juice and the 2 tablespoonfuls of cornstarch. Let cool slightly.

Kick up the oven to 375˚ and place a baking sheet at the bottom of the oven with a rack at the bottom most level of your oven. Heat the sheet up for about 20 minutes before placing the pie in the oven.

Pour the apples into the prepared pie crust. In a small bowl make the crumble topping. Mix the oats with the gluten-free flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Using fingers and a fork, work in the butter until small clumps form. Crumble on top of the apples evenly.

Bake until topping is browned and the filling is bubbling, About 1-1 1/2 hours. Tent with foil loosely, allowing steam to escape, if topping is browning too quickly.

Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Serve.

RECIPE: FMD Phase 1, Healthy Spiced Apple Spread

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So I'm halfway through my Fast Metabolism Diet month, and I have to say the weight loss is going so much slower than last year. I think it's because I pretty much changed my every day eating after my FMD to be GF, SF, and DF.

A lot of F! (that would mean FREE.)

So I think the "shock" to my system was not as extreme as when I first went on it. My body is just more in balance, so not a lot to heal. But I feel great and it's just a nice best practice to clean eat for a period of time-give your body a break from toxic stuff.

One thing I've missed is jam for my GF toast, so I've been playing with some fruit spreads that don't have sugar added. This concoction is a nicely spiced apple spread to use on your compliant steel cut oatmeal or compliant bagels or toast. I use pure monk fruit sweetener because xylitol is too tough on my digestion, but you can use Xyla if your system is cool with it. If you have really sweet apples, you may not even need sweetener. Also, apples have plenty of natural pectin so this will thicken up on it's own. I packaged mine up in small containers and froze it, pulling it out for phase 1 or phase 3, depending.

1 1/2 more weeks to go, then we're back on maintenance! I'm feeling awesome!

FMD Phase 1, Healthy Spiced Apple Spread

4 golden delicious apples, peeled cored and roughly chopped
juice of half a lemon 
1/2 cup of true Monk Fruit sweetener or xylitol 
1 cup of water 
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

In a large pan pour the chopped apples, lemon juice, water, vanilla extract and sweetener. Cook over medium high heat until a boil, then lower and simmer for about seven minutes, until apples are beginning to soften.

Add ground cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. After about 10 minutes and it's cooked down even more, use a potato masher to mash up some of the fruit. 

Because apples have natural pectin you won't need any arrowroot to thicken this up. Take off the heat, and once things are gelled up and sticky, cool down. Once cooled, divide into smaller containers, label and freeze. Defrost to use on top of Ezekiel bread or steel cut oatmeal. I like to use this topping in P1 or in P3, depending.

RECIPE: FMD P3 Red Pepper Sauce with Garden Meatballs and Quinoa Pasta

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I am halfway through The Fast Metabolism Diet this month, and weigh in is on Monday morning. So we'll see if I am shedding some of that holiday weight. Out of all the phases on FMD, Phase 3 is my favorite. Healthy fats open up the cooking repertoire, that's for sure.

This recipe uses olive oil and Haylie's garden meatballs from phase 2. The dinner carb for Phase 3 needs to be very low sugar, so I use a quinoa pasta. Its a healthy-yet hearty-meal.

The red peppers are a nice change from a tomato sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a blender or food processor to make the sauce.

Next time I make this, I may blend in some almond cream cheese or plain almond milk to cream up the sauce a little in a healthy (and compliant) way.

FMD P3 Red Pepper Sauce with Garden Meatballs and Quinoa Pasta 


2 Tbsp. olive oil 
1/2 med. onion 
1 cup of chicken broth {I like "better than bouillon" chicken flavor) 
1/4 cup of white vinegar 
1 Tbsp. of Monk fruit sweetener (or xylitol)
1 Tbsp. of red paprika 
1/2 Tbsp. of garlic powder 
4 large red peppers, cut into big chunks seeds cleaned out 
salt and pepper to taste 

quinoa pasta

3 garden meatballs per person


In a large stock pot heat up the olive oil and cook the onions until they're caramelized, about 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pepper to the caramelized onion and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan from all the yummy brown bits at the bottom.

Add garlic powder, paprika, sweetener, salt and pepper to the red peppers and cook until softened, about 10-15 minutes. 

Add the white vinegar and chicken broth and cover. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. When ingredients are nicely softened and married well, it's time to process.

With an immersion blender, purée the mixture carefully until smooth. I like to keep my lid on top of the pot with my other hand while I do this as I move the immersion blender around, otherwise I have red pepper sauce all over my kitchen walls! 

Once things are smooth, give it a good stir and heat with the garden meatballs in the sauce for about 10 more minutes. The garden meatballs are heated through and add a little bit of meat flavor gets infused into the red pepper sauce.

Serve hot over quinoa pasta. My family likes to add Parmesan cheese to the top, though I need to stay FMD compliant so I avoid the cheese! Delicious either way!

RECIPE: Cranberry Apple Jam

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Yes, it's cold outside in the Midwest, but that doesn't mean you can't do some canning! In fact, what else are you going to do with yourself on a cold, blustery Sunday?

This is a great winter/holiday jam using winter cranberries and apples, to be specific. I packed these up as gifts this holiday to very special people. Because cranberries and apples have a lot of natural pectin, this jam will gel up on it's own, making it super easy to make. I threw in some cinnamon sticks as I cooked down the jam, giving it a nice, warm winter flavor profile.

It's kind of like a little bit of holiday happy on your toast.

Cranberry Apple Jam

8 cups of peeled, cored and small diced apples (about 4 pounds) 
4 cups fresh cranberries 
6 cups of granulated sugar 
3 cinnamon sticks 
juice of one lemon 
zest of two lemons 
dash of salt 


Sterilize your jars.

Prepare a boiling water bath for 10 1/2 pint jars and any other smaller jars if you have a small amount of left overs (or want smaller gift sizes). Sterilize them by putting jars, lids and rings in a hot water bath for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then pull out using canning tongs and let dry on a clean, cotton towel.
(for some how-to videos on canning basics go to my youtube channel canning playlist or the video section of my blog).

In a large pan combine the apples, cranberries, sugar and one cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the cinnamon sticks, mix well. 

Skim off the foam that develops on top of the fruit and discard as it cooks.

Boil for 15 to 20 minutes until the cranberries pop in the apples soften. At that point, add lemon zest and juice and reduce the heat and simmer until liquid in the pot has thickened. This can take up to 10 minutes or more.

Both apples and cranberries have a lot of pectin naturally so you don't need extra pectin to help the jam set, as long as you cook it until it's thick, shiny and syrupy. 

Once it is thick and syrupy, remove the pot from the heat and pull out the cinnamon sticks. Ladle the jams into the prepared jars using a canning funnel to make sure that the rims are clean. With a slightly damp paper towel wipe the rims down to make sure there's no organic material along the rims. Apply the lids and the rings and process in boiling water for 10 minutes. 

Pull out after 10 minutes and you'll hear the lids popping like pop corn. That means that they're sealing. Check your seals when they are cool enough to handle and make sure things are sealed well. Tighten rims if you'd like and let them cool to room temperature slowly for 24 hours. Then label and put up. Jams last in this manner for about one year. 

I like to label my jams with the date, especially if I'm giving them as gifts. My mother had a jam she had no idea how old it was and she gave it to us to use in some cookies. When we opened it it was moldy. You don't want to do that to people that you care about! So be sure to label your jams with the date and let gift recipients know that the jams will last a year.

Happy Canning!

RECIPE: FMD P1, Cherry Fruit Spread

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It's New Year's Resolution time again, how are you doing on yours? I decided to do the Fast Metabolism diet again for a "28 day cleanse", if you will. I pretty much stayed on it the first 6 months of 2015 and lost 20+ lbs. The last half of the year I was on maintenance and though I put on 4 lbs by the end of last year, I pretty much kept most of the weight off. This diet really does work in rebalancing your system.

That being said, I thought I could use a tune up, especially after the holidays, so here I am!  I am an older and wiser FMDer, and I have some tricks up my sleeve. This is one of two posts where I will share a nice Phase 1 fruit spread to go on top of oatmeal and P1 compliant toast. I got the idea from Haylie's peach toast recipe in her book. I thought, "well if you can do that with peaches, why not make some "jams" in the same way to use in the same manner?" This batch I made on Sunday, and divided it up and froze it. Cherries are so sweet you don't need extra sweetness, but if you find you do, like I did, I added my monk fruit sweetener. You can use stevia or birch xylitol. Also I use P1 compliant arrowroot to have the fruit gel up nicely, giving you a jam-like consistency. 

I have to say, I do miss jam on this diet, and in maintenance phase where I avoid sugar, regardless. SO this will be a nice thing to have in the fridge and freezer when I have a hankering for some fruit on toast.

Ooo, just wait until summer, where I can use some fresh berries! YUM!

FMD P1, Cherry Fruit Spread


12 ounces of frozen, pitted red cherries, defrosted 

1/2 cup true Monk Fruit sweetener (or Birch xylitol)
1 cup of water 
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 
1/4  teaspoon of salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder

Boil all ingredients for 20 minutes over medium high heat stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Use a potato masher and mash the mixture until the fruit has been smashed and cut up a little, cook for 10 more minutes. Add the arrowroot and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Take off heat let cool until mixture begins to gel and becomes thicker. Once cooled divided into small storage containers, label and freeze. Defrost them as you need them throughout the week during phase P1 or P3. I like to use it on Ezekiel bread toast for P1 or steel cut oatmeal.

RECIPE: Cherry Vanilla Bean Lemon Jam

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Finally getting caught up on some holiday posts that did not make it into the "editorial calendar". (My, that sounds profesh. Really it's a tattered blogging notebook with coffee stains that my cat likes to lay on.)

I will be posting two jam recipes this week that I gave as gifts this year to close friends and teachers. I fit in these crazy projects in the middle of all the holiday madness, and I vowed in the future I will make jam in the lazy days of summer with fresh fruit, and I will be all set for gifts in December! (Let's see if that happens?).

At any rate, I made this lovely cherry jam with hints of lemon and the smoothness of vanilla bean. You are probably saying, "Hold up lady, where did you get cherries in December?"

I give you, the magic of the freezer section.

As I was more about getting this project done as easy as possible in between gift wrapping and cookie baking, this was a great solution. The cherries are already pitted and you just throw them in the pan and get going. I did find on errant pit, so be careful and keep your eyes open in case one or two escaped the processing, but otherwise it was way easier than pitting fresh cherries (which yes, if it were summer and I had fresh cherries, I would do.)

Because cherries don't have a lot of natural pectin you will need pectin to help with the gelling process. I decided to try a liquid pectin which worked out well. I let the vanilla bean halves cook with the cherries, and pulled them out right before jarring and processing. I kept a little left over jam for us in the fridge to taste it and make sure it was A-Ok before giving out to people. This is a good practice I recommend, so you know you are giving people safe and yummy things in jars.

Happy to report that this was just lovely. The citrus kept the cherries nice and bright, and the vanilla made things creamy and yummy. On a nice piece of toast in the cold of winter, this is a gift to treasure for sure.

Cherry Vanilla Bean Lemon Jam


10 cups of defrosted frozen, pitted red cherries (I get the bag from Dole, they're 12 ounces each)
5 cups of granulated sugar, divided 
dash of salt
2 small vanilla beans, split and scraped 
zest of 2 lemons 
juice of 1 lemon
2  3 oz. packets of liquid pectin


In a nonreactive bowl combine the defrosted cherries with one cup of sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and pods. Let the mixture sit at room temperature until the sugar begins to pull the liquid out of the cherries, about a half hour.

Meanwhile sterilize your jars. I had about 8  half-pint jelly jars and some smaller jars in case I had extra. Have a giant pot of boiling water and immerse your jars and lids in the hot boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes then pull out and air dry until ready to fill.

(for some how-to videos on canning basics go to my youtube channel canning playlist or the video section of my blog).

Remove the macerated cherries and pour into a large pot. Add the remaining 4 cups of sugar, the lemon zest and lemon juice. Bring to boil over high heat. This jam will be foamy, fyi. Cook on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly until it takes on a thick consistency. Skim off the foam with a large spoon off the top and discard as the jam cooks. After ten minutes, take a potato masher and mash some of the fruit with it. At this point add the pectin to the fruit mixture and bring to a rolling boil. Insert your candy thermometer into the jam by attaching it to the side of the pot and let the jam boil vigorously until it reaches around 220°F. Once it reaches this temperature and remains at this temperature for about two minutes, remove it from the heat.

Pull out the vanilla bean pods, then ladle the jam into the prepared jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Wipe the rims clean and apply the lids and rings and process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Take them out and let cool at room temperature. You will hear the lids pop as they cool, which means that they are sealed nicely. Check your seals, tighten your lids and let them stay at room temperature without touching them for another 24 hours. Then label each and put them up, making sure to put a date on the labels because jams only last in this manner for about a year.

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