Sunbutter Brownies

Photo of Sunbutter BrowniesOne of my nieces, C, has a wicked peanut allergy.  It’s the epi-pen-everywhere-she-goes kind of peanut allergy.  She’s dealt with it all of her 11 years, long before it was the popular allergy to have. C was my first exposure to the reality of how profoundly devastating food allergies can be. I vividly remember my sister-in-law cleaning out their pantry and offering me a box full of nuts and nut products. The gentle reminders via email or phone call from my brother about their new nut-free home before weekend visits and family vacations in an effort keep C safe.

At the time, I didn’t grasp how drastically every social interaction changed for my brother’s family the moment C’s allergy necessitated an epi pen. It was a very serious condition for such a tiny human to deal with, and although I was fully committed to keeping her safe, I still forgot to leave the cashews in the car sometimes or check the label on her treats to make sure they weren’t made in a facility that processed peanuts. Luckily, my brother, sis-in-law, and oldest niece were vigilant and wouldn’t let anything that even hinted at peanuts to cross the threshold. (As it turns out, it was crazy hard to find toddler treats processed in a peanut-free facility 10 years ago. Now, it’s a bit easier because food allergies are so prevalent. ) I wish I could go back to 20-something year-old Carrie and give her a good shake about the reality of food allergies, and the sonic effect families with food allergies experience.

In spite of her challenges, C has always had a resilient and sunny attitude, even when it meant missing out on a special treat or experience with her friends or big sister.  C bounces along, continually looking for the silver lining, sharing her bright energy and outlook with the world. I wanted to create something especially for C, since nuts of all kinds are off limits now, and her family is trying to cut back on sugar. She’s a total chocoholic (it runs in the family!). Of course you can always sub a different seed or nut butter, but these are so yummy, there’s no need!


  • 1 16 oz jar of smooth sunbutter
  • 2 eggs
1 avocado (yep, you read that right) or 1/4 cup coconut oil…but it won’t be as good as the avocado.
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
20 drops liquid stevia
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 bar of 90% dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt


  1. Mash the avocado until totally smooth. You can put it in the food processor if you’d like.
  2. Add sunbutter, vanilla extract, stevia, eggs, and blend VERY WELL.
  3. Combine baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and erythritol in a separate bowl, then add to sunbutter mixture, mixing well.
  4. Press mixture into 9×13 glass baking dish, and spread evenly. (A smaller dish is fine, too.)
  5. Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

Photo of Zucchini Goat Cheese LasagnaHave you ever prepared a dinner that made everyone happy?

Yeah, no. Me either. I share my recipes with the internet, which has something for everyone, but not everyone likes the same thing.

This one comes close to pleasing ALL people of the internet, though. Maybe even the closest. Except for the ones who don’t like goat cheese, tomatoes, or zucchini. So, roughly 1% of the internet population. Okay, maybe more. But that’s the great thing about the internet. It’s full of amazing people with vast ideas and preferences.

You’ll notice in the picture how the lighting is less than ideal. The food isn’t beautifully plated or photographed. That’s because EVERY TIME I serve this to my friends or family, it is consumed too quickly to take the time to make it pretty. I love eating and serving food that looks good. But I love eating and serving food that tastes good even more. Plus, I would much rather eat my food while it’s hot than waste precious minutes getting the “perfect” shot.

This grain-free lasagna, utilizes creamy goat cheese, has a strong vegetable base and substantial protein punch. This is ideal for a cold winter evening, a hearty weekend lunch, and like a charm in the toaster oven if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers.


  • 1 quart tomato sauce (Homemade is best but if not, be sure to buy organic and with NO SUGAR added.)
1/2 lb organic grass-fed ground beef or turkey, browned
12 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds (the mandolin is a wonderful and inexpensive invention which yields perfect results)
6 oz goat cheese, crumbled
4 oz parmesan, shredded
1-2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
fresh herbs, chopped (optional)


  1. In a baking dish, coat sides and bottom with olive oil.
  2. Layer zucchini, meat, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, sauce, and cheeses.
  3. Repeat step 2 twice, then finish with parmesan on top.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbling and brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork with Carrot Fennel Slaw

Photo of Pulled PorkNow, I have to tell you: I ate strictly paleo for a few years. I loved it, and felt great while eating lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and properly raised animal protein. I’ve added some select grains back into my diet. I know. WHY?  HOW?  It all started when I got pregnant. I was fairly sick for the first two trimesters, and very particular about what I ate for the third.  I had a hard time digesting veggies unless they were cooked to mush, and couldn’t tolerate many animal proteins.  As much as I wanted to eat mostly paleo, even tried to force myself to, my body and my baby did not agree. And since I believe it is super important to listen to my body, I complied.  I tried cutting out grains again after Echo was born and it had a negative impact on my milk supply.  So, as long as I’m the head milk-maker, I will continue with a small serving of sprouted grains or brown rice a day.

Now, I have to tell you something else: I am committed to eating properly-raised protein. Because of Echo’s food allergies, the typical diet of conventionally raised animals is problematic because it is full of grains. So, the animals eat the grains, I eat the animals, Echo drinks my milk, and then he has a reaction to the grains the animal ate. Crazy, right? This means I scour the weekly grocery ads for deals, and buy in bulk when I find a good price on meat at our local co-op or Whole Foods. I make deals with friends who raise their own chickens, and sometimes go a week or two without eating animal protein at all if it is too cost prohibitive. Because BUDGET.

During the days following my son’s birth, many people gifted us with food.  One of our favorites was pulled pork made by our friend, Gwyn.  She inspired me to make this simple crockpot-style meal. I lucked out and found pork shoulder for $2.49 a pound and made a huge batch. This meal is especially nice if it’s too hot to cook and you don’t have time to anyway because you’re too busy cuddling your new baby. It’s also wonderful on a cold day, or to share with friends over dinner and wine.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder:

3-5 lbs Pork Shoulder, trimmed of some fat
  • 1/4 cup of a dry spice rub (I made my own with whatever I had in my pantry: S&P, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, celery salt, cinnamon, parsley, tumeric, onion powder.)
  • 2 Tbsp Braggs Amino Acids (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Black Strap Molasses or raw honey (optional)
  • 1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method for Pork Shoulder:

  1. Rub pork shoulder with amino acids, black strap molasses, and then spice mixture.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Wake up early and put the pork shoulder in the crockpot with apple cider vinegar and onion.
  4. Cook covered on low setting for 8 hours-10 hours.  Or longer.  This is really hard to mess up.
  5. Serve with slaw and impress everyone with your cooking skills.

Ingredients for Fennel Carrot Slaw:

  • 2 bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced (I recommend using a mandolin.)
2-3 carrots, shaved (I use a veggie peeler.)
  • chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
  • Sea Salt and Pepper

Method for Slaw:

  1. Combine fennel, carrots and as much cilantro as you’d like in a bowl. I like LOTS of cilantro.
  2. Add vinegar, honey, S&P and mix thoroughly.
  3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving to set.

My husband used Ezekiel tortillas as a conduit, but you can use lettuce or a sweet potato instead.  The sweet potato is especially delicious, and that’s what I used.  I also topped it with some goat cheese crumbles and it was heavenly.  You could use queso fresco or feta if you don’t like goat cheese, or avocado if you’re trying to avoid dairy altogether. This heats up great in a frying pan for leftovers, and a great filling for a quesadilla.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Photo of Peanut Butter Cookies10 years ago, a fellow culinary-minded friend shared a recipe for easy peanut butter cookies with me.  It went something like this:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

It seemed so easy, so simple.  Too good to be true, even.  Turns out, it’s not just verbal urban culinary legend.  The origins are rooted in Tupperware.  Some truly genius cook created this recipe and shared it with the most well-known vintage food storage company of all time.  Then Tupperware shared it with the WORLD. Thanks, T-Diddy.

This was a no-brainer for low-carb conversion.  I’m pretty sure the peanut butter had a spiritual experience when it met the erythritol.  I know I did.

I would just like to express how EASY these are to make.  It took a few tries and tweaks to get it just right, but I feel as though I’ve found the winning combination.  I’ve also tried almond butter with a bit of almond extract to produce a decadent marzipan flavor.  Sunbutter is a great option for those who suffer from nut allergies.  I’ve added freeze-dried raspberries to mimic a peanut butter and jelly kind of cookie (I know…how much genius can this recipe produce?).  My favorite rendition, however, is dark chocolate chunks with chunky peanut butter and a latte.

For breakfast.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and my dear family friend, Julia Robertson, made and photographed these cookies.


  • 16 oz all-natural peanut butter (no sugar or oil added!)
  • 1 cup erythritol or coconut sugar crystals (or another granulated sweetener)
1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw organic honey (optional but worth it)
  • 2 oz chopped 85% cacao dark chocolate (0ptional)
sprinkle of salt (optional)


  1. Combine egg, vanilla extract, honey, and erythritol.
  2. Stir in peanut butter until thoroughly combined.
  3. Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet, about two inches apart.
  4. Score with a fork, sprinkle sparingly with sea salt if you’d like, and bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before eating, and for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  (Erythritol has a slight cooling effect and will make your cookies very crumbly and weird if you eat them too soon.)

And because I think my friends are brilliant and talented, check out Julia’s photography website.  She’s fancy in an understated, award-winning, Wall-Street-Journal-loves-her kind of way.

All-Natural Gummy Snacks

Photo of Gummy SnacksGrowing up, Halloween was always a loaded holiday.  In our circle of family friends, my parents were considered renegades.  We didn’t do Harvest Festivals.  We didn’t stay home and have family night.  We put on our best costumes and went door-to-door asking for treats (and occasionally getting tricked by neighborhood kids).  My parents were unapologetic about our trick-or-treating because it wasn’t about glorifying death and destruction, it was about dressing up, having fun and getting the best sugar high of the whole year.  And nobody I know ever got a razor blade in their candy bar or a poison candied apple.  Or possessed by demons.

I’m positive I was a fairy princess at least 5 times. Original, right?  Our move to Texas was pretty spectacular because I could actually wear my costume without my usual Alaskan uniform of  heavy raincoats and rubber boots.  People actually got to see more than my glitter star wand, tiara, and  make-up!  I proudly wore my mom’s fancy old pink and white bathrobe, glittery jelly shoes that made my feet hurt, fairy wings and plastic jewelry on those bone-dry Texas Halloween nights.  The only bummer came when mom and dad shelved the candy almost immediately afterwards, well out of my reach and doled out ONE PIECE per day.  ONE PIECE!  I’m positive they pillaged my stash, though, and so did my brothers.  It never seemed to last 100+ days, despite my careful calculations.

In my middle age, I realize I’m turning into Raisin Lady.  You know, the lady who hands out miniature boxes of raisins and calls them “nature’s candy”?  That’s me.  Except raisins contain way too much sugar for me to tolerate more than just a few.  Plus, I think they’re gross. Do me a favor and don’t tell the children of America I feel this way, okay? Because these little “treats” are moderately healthy and even though I would rather eat nothing at all than eat a raisin, SOME PEOPLE like them.

But I think I take Raisin Lady to the next level. In fact, I think next year for Halloween, I will dress up as 
”Homemade Gummy Snack Lady”.  It totally sounds legit, right?  Because if it wasn’t considered dangerous, ill-conceived, or sketchy, I would actually hand these tasty treats out to kiddos on Halloween.  Tart, sweet, with a little protein punch and a very low calorie content, these are amazing. And because these chewy treats have very few ingredients, they are ideal for our kiddos with food allergies.


  • 4 Tbsp high-quality beef gelatin (I like this brand)
1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 20-30 drops liquid stevia (or to taste)

Optional Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp blueberry or pomegranite juice (not from concentrate)
Lemon, orange, or other fruit extracts for extra flavor
All-natural, non-toxic food coloring (like this from India Tree)
  • Fresh berries


  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, juice and stevia.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
  2. Slowly add gelatin to liquids while continuously whisking until fully incorporated.
  3. Add food coloring until desired color is present.
  4. Pour into candy molds, soft latex ice cube trays or into a pan.
  5. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerate for an hour until set.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Yep, these bad boys are stable at room temperature!

*If these are too chewy for you, increase the water content by 1-2 Tbsp. Just be careful, otherwise you’ll end up with jello instead of gummies.