Monthly Archives: September 2012

Squash, my new potato.

photo courtesy of

Butternut Squash and Sausage Shepherd’s pie (photo courtesy of

Now, growing up my family wasn’t too keen on cooked vegetables. I remember eating a lot of salads and fresh cut veggies.  My sister and I loved potatoes and we learned to eat some vegetables in stir-fry and casserole dishes; but, I do not remember one night having ever seen a bowl of peas on the table. It just did not happen. My mom earned quite a few gold stars for that, too. Still to this day, I pick the peas out of everything.

Things changed a bit when I went off to college (GO GATORS!) and started cooking for myself. There were many calls home to ask, “now, what did you put in that again…?” Some of our free time was spent watching the food network and my interest in different foods was peaked. I came home a couple times and cooked new things for my parents. I believe it was during these years that my mom was reintroduced to broccoli…

Last week, I was thumbing through the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine on my lunch hour and came across a couple recipes using butternut squash. Lately, I’m so often disappointed by magazine recipes because they are full of SCD illegal flour, sugar and starches. This one is different. I kept scrolling down the list waiting for the one core ingredient that I could not leave out, replace or make from scratch. Its almost perfect! Please check out the following recipe, barely adapted from BHG.

This dish has such good flavor. I even ate some peas! I have not had much experience eating or cooking hard winter squash before last weekend. I think there is a very good chance, butternut squash might be my new potato!


  • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage or lean ground beef (85%) [I used HOT sausage]
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 8 ounce package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth [I did not have any homemade, so I left it out]
  • 1/2 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups) [the one rule I break on occasion is for no sugar added canned tomatoes. you could skin and cook down 2pounds fresh tomatoes if you have time. I don’t right now.]
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce [illegal, just leave it out]
  • 1 cup frozen carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Sliced green onion (optional)

    -Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease six 10 to 12-ounce individual casseroles or a 13×9″ pin with butter or coconut oil.

    -In a large vessel cook squash in lightly salted boiling water, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain; return to pan. Mash with butter, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

    -In a large skillet cook sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Transfer meat to a colander; drain well. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.

    -In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes more. Stir in broth, crushed tomatoes, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in meat, peas and carrots, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared dish(es). Spread top with butternut squash. Place on a large baking sheet.

    -Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned. If desired, top with shaved Parmesan and sliced green onion. (serves 6-ish)



Banana Nut Loaf, yum.

So. I had another conversation with the voo-doo doc a couple weeks ago. I expressed some concerns about weight loss and my HUGE cravings for baked goods. In my previously gluten-filled life, I was quite a baker. She suggested I use almond flour and try a couple quick bread recipes. Huh… almond flour? baking?? I’m on it. After 3 hours of internet searches, I thought I’d found a couple worthy of a try.

My first attempt was for banana nut muffins. Not bad, not great (did I mention I have trouble following a recipe?). I (mostly) followed the recipe at My biggest issue was actually poor choice of equipment. I didn’t notice that my food processor, while showing 4cup capacity, was actually only capable of holding only 2cups of liquid… needless-to-say, I had a good-sized puddle of egg mixture covering my counter. The result was similar to pop-overs and the bottom was a bit egg-y. My suggestion, make sure you blend/puree for the full 4-5 mins in an actual blender.

The second recipe I tried was for banana bread. I have an issue using the term “bread” for baked goods that do not include gluten, so you’ll see the term ‘loaf’ used often. This was a much more successful attempt. I have made this recipe twice. Each time I forgot to take a photo until the entire loaf was gone. I suppose that gives me another reason to make it again this weekend!! All of my bread recipes are baked in a stoneware pan.

BANANA NUT LOAF (adapted from

1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
3 mashed bananas, very ripe
3 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350degrees; butter pan very well. Mix first 3 ingredients in blender and pulse 30sec-1min. Add almond flour and next 4 ingredients and pulse until combined. Add walnut halves and pulse 3-5 times to coarse chop. Bake 50-60mins, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Notes: Don’t be scared, the baking soda will cause the outer crust to get darker brown. It does not affect the taste. Also, my oven tends to the shorter end of the time frame, but all ovens are not equal.

This bread is so good and satisfying. My husband and I have eaten an entire loaf in 24-36hours… try it, you’ll see!

The day I almost killed myself with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”     -George Santayana

So, about 2 1/2 weeks into my new diet (about 1.5weeks ago), I cheated. Up until now, I had been doing pretty well. I had had a couple of rocky days where every fast food place I drove by was flashing giant **MILKSHAKE** signs, but, I had been able to abstain. I now had an opportunity to make a friend/co-worker dessert for her birthday. She absolutely loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candies. I needed something simple, from a box, especially since I’ve nearly eliminated all flour and sugar from my pantry. Being a recovering sugar addict and confessed foodie, I knew I had seen a recipe for peanut butter cup brownies somewhere.

After an brief internet search, I had the one I wanted. Simple. 1 box Ghiradelli chocolate brownie mix and 1 package mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Grease pan, prepare box per instructions and pour into pan. Then, arrange mini cups as desired and bake! Sounded deliciously rich and just what my sugar free diet had me craving.

After making them, I spent some time deliberating and staring at the batter bowl on the counter. Then, I licked it clean… I just couldn’t bring myself to put that stupid bowl in the sink and turn on the water. I had lost all willpower. The chocolatey goodness was right there in front of me, waiting to be eaten. Then, to make matters worse, I just happened to drop a couple peanut butter cups on the counter. I ate them, too.

Holy BIG MISTAKE! Found myself on the couch 10mins later, one hand on my stomach and one hand on my head. 4 glasses of water, 2 tylenol and 2 hours later, I was still having a migraine. I thought I was going to die. I checked myself for stroke symptoms at least 3 times. Somehow I managed to finish the brownies and get them in the fridge without burning them. I still couldn’t see straight.

Needless-to-say, I did not have any desire to have a brownie the next day at lunch. Everyone said they were delicious. I just took their word for it. Its amazing how much my sugar tolerance decreased in just a few short weeks.

Lesson learned and remembered.

Voo Doo Doctor

So, its been a while since my last post. What? Things came up… back off.

I have some digestive… hmm, lets say challenges. These issues were what prompted me to try to start cooking through the Nourishing Traditions methods. Things were improving slightly and I had gotten myself out of a flare up. As the life stresses increased, my patience waned and my diet reverted back to easy foods (see also, processed and frozen boxes). When my diet reverted, so did the progress I made with my gut…

My mom has been telling me for months to go to talk to her voo doo doctor and I had been procrastinating. Well, I finally called her. She is awesome. Her name is Renee Detky and shes in Florida. She is not a real voo doo doctor. Renee actually has a Phd in blood chemistry and natural health. She gave me a specific panel of blood work to have drawn and then analyzed it under “functional ranges”. As she explained it, each lab has their own specific acceptable range that is applied to everyone. Renee looks at a tighter functional range and is able to extrapolate problems or potential problems based on what she sees.

I had been worried about what she would find, but I cannot express the relief I felt when she said I was “an easy case”. Never been called that before! I have been to a handful of MD’s that say everything is fine and all my test results are normal. My standard response is “then why don’t I feel normal?” I’ve changed my diet so many times I get dizzy thinking about it. There were a couple times I thought I was on to something, but I suspect I didn’t continue the abstinence of that item long enough. My low to no gluten week was the most successful, but I was negative for celiac and I love bread. Needless-to-say, it didn’t last long.

Renee had some interesting suggestions and put me on another new diet. She says that I’m hypoglycemic and slightly anemic. My sugar intake (see also, Twizzlers for breakfast) was both masking and compounding my issues. So, no more refined sugar. Besides the sugar naturally occurring in my food, I am only allowed to have honey and stevia. Whoa. Big change number 1… She advocates no gluten, for anyone. [Sigh] No bread. Finally, the kicker, no grains or starches. Period. That means no potatoes, rice, oatmeal or any of the other alternative grains that the gluten-free people get to use. I have been slowly memorizing the huge list of legal and illegal foods. The book Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall is sorta the bible for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I have been following Renee’s directives, but this book will be my next purchase.

I can say, that after almost 1 month of eating based on the SCD, I’ve seen some drastic improvements in my digestion and energy levels. However, I am starting to miss my baked goods. I predict that we will be trying some grain-free muffin recipes soon.