Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pie

chocolate lemon pixabaySeveral years ago, I learned that I was borderline diabetic and I also started having episodes of severe hypoglycemia. Really miserable stuff when that hits. So I had to learn to eat differently and tame my love for sugar and refined carbs. The first step I took was simply cutting back the sugar in recipes, sometimes significantly, but usually by about 1/3-1/2. Usually, the recipes were sweet enough, even with this adjustment.

Over time, I also learned to make things using more natural alternatives, such as honey, stevia, and xylitol. Honey still has to be used in limited quantities, as it is a sugar. However, it does have some health benefits and I find it tastes better than sugar. Honestly, I also limit how much xylitol I use, simply because it still feels very refined to me. Stevia is much more natural, made from a ground herb. I prefer the taste of NOW Better Stevia Glycerite drops.

I also learned to use organic sugar, for the times when I need real sugar in a recipe. It is less refined and has fewer chemical agents in it from processing. While it’s still sugar, I feel it is healthier because of this. It also has a fuller flavor, so I can use less of it.

This is a wonderfully rich and delicious recipe that also happens to be really healthy!

Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pie

Ingredients:2 avocados, pitted

2 avocados, pitted

1/3 to 1/2 half cup milk of choice (I love the way coconut milk tastes in this)

1/2 cup cacao powder (cocoa powder is fine and carob would probably work, though I haven’t tried it)

2-3 Tablespoons organic sugar or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Optional: low-fat graham cracker pie shell

Instructions:

Put everything in a food processor or a blender and blend on high speed for a minute of so, until well blended. Scrape the side  and reprocess, if needed, to mix everything well. Chill for about 10 minutes. Pour into pie shell, or for a grain free, lower carb, no crust pie, pour directly into a glass pie pan and chill for 30 minutes to set.

You can drizzle a chocolate sauce topping on this for garnish/decoration if you like.

Chocolate sauce:

1/4 cup coconut oil (do not substitute with another oil!)

1/4 cup honey

2-3 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder

Heat in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often until oil is melted and ingredients are well mixed. Stir in drizzles of milk of choice until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

 

 

 

 

Homemade Pizza with Seasoned Crust (gluten free, vegan option)

I LOVE pizza! And I used to be really intimidated by the thought of making my own pizza atpizza home. Even if I thought of doing it at home, I would by a pre-made crust or a crust mix and I always bought a pre-made sauce. I enjoyed the results when I made a pizza at home, even doing it with pre-packaged mixes and sauces, but I still had that feeling of disconnection and intimidation. I usually just ordered a pizza or bought frozen. All that had to change when I had to go gluten free several years ago for health reasons. It was either go without pizza (NOT!) or learn how to do it at home inexpensively (which means without the gluten free pre-packaged mixes!) I am glad I learned how to get past my fears, because, like most things I have discovered in the kitchen, once I looked beneath the mystery, it was not hard to do at all! I only had to trust myself! Here is a pizza sauce and crust I have developed since then. I love how easy they are and how there is room for flexibility.

Start with the pizza sauce. I get this going an let it simmer while I start the pizza dough. Works out perfectly. The sauce can also be made up in big batches and then frozen in individual containers for later use, if you want to double or triple the recipe.

Pizza Sauce

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion or 1/2 medium onion, chopped (use the other half for pizza toppings!)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small stalk celery, diced

15 oz. can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar, honey or pure maple syrup (grade B works best)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

 

Melt butter or margarine with olive oil in pan. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent (about 3 minutes). Add all other ingredients, stir. Simmer on low heat for  at least  a half hour, up to one whole hour.  Remove bay leaf and it’s ready to use! 

While this is simmering, start the pizza dough. You can have it finished and on the pan ready to bake by the time the sauce is ready.

Seasoned Pizza Crust

3 c. flour (1 c. brown rice, 1 cup millet, 1 cup sorghum)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour or a gluten free blend containing xantan gum)

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoons sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons more

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon yeast

3/4 cup warm water, plus 3/4 cup more (@ 110 degrees, or what feels comfortable to the inside of your wrist)

1 egg (can substitute flax egg mixture–see below–or leave egg out for a thinner, drier crust)*

*Flax egg mixture to substitute for egg–1 Tablespoon flax meal mixed with 2 Tablespoons warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then use as you would an egg. Works in many recipes.

Pour 3/4 cup water in a small bowl and stir in 1 Tablespoon yeast. Let sit for a couple minutes, then add 1 Tablespoon sugar.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum (if using gluten free flour), basil, oregano and garlic powder. Mix well.

In a measuring cup, measure 3/4 cup warm water and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 egg. Beat with a fork until well blended. Add yeast, sugar and water mixture and stir. Then add to the flour mixture and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the bowl of dough on top of the stove where it will get some of the warmth of the oven (not where it will cover the oven’s heat exhaust!) and let it rise for about 10 minutes. This is a good time to get some toppings ready, shred cheese, prepare your pan, etc.

Grease two pizza pans or one large cookie sheet. When your dough is done rising, then sauce should be about done simmering, so turn that off. Dump the dough onto the cookie sheet and dust it and your hands with a little flour, then mash it evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake it without toppings for about 15-20 minutes until it begins to turn golden brown. Finish chopping toppings while it bakes. Sliced tomato, mushrooms, chopped onion, some fresh or frozen spinach, even broccoli is really good! Use your imagination!

When the crust comes out of the oven, put your sauce and toppings on, then bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Slice and enjoy!

 

 

Finding the Body Temple

the_butterfly_by_perkunija-d4n0l0b

I love the idea of the body being a temple. The body is the soul’s mode of transportation, the vessel through which we operate, learn, grow and expand. Without a body through which to experience, our ability to understand ourselves, each other and the Universe would be greatly altered and limited. Physical form is a way for us to learn to express love and gratitude. We become humble and expansive through being here in these bodies.

Since our bodies are so important, it is vital to take very good care of them. Honor them with appreciation and love. Accept everything about your body as a gift to you. All of it helps you to perceive your soul more clearly. This includes pain. Pain is a signal. As such it helps us see that something needs attention and care. This is as essential to us as air or water. When we trust this, pain can flow through us as easily as air and water.

I am very familiar with pain and illness.

I have had to re-learn how to care for and protect my body, and to respect it. I spent most of my adult life very sick and in a great deal of pain. Many days I wasn’t able to get out of bed without help. I was chronically exhausted and had fibromyalgia and early onset arthritis. I had seizures, sometimes several times a day and excruciating headaches. This became so bad that for awhile I was unable to form new memories, so I couldn’t keep track of what I had done already, or often where I even was. I have had a total of 13 surgeries, eleven of them abdominal, one on a breast mass and one on a knee. I was 130 pounds overweight several years ago. I was depressed and felt I had no function in the world. I spent an entire summer bedridden with one health problem after the other. I had two surgeries in less than a year. I was told my spine was deteriorating and my knees would need replacements within a decade. I couldn’t walk even half a block. Part of me wanted to quit. Instead I started loving myself.

Then great things started to happen for me.

Exercise, healthy food, water and fresh air are all needed to keep our body temples functioning well. For me, meditation and regular sleep patterns have helped a great deal as well. Once I decided to love myself, exactly as I was, all the things I needed to be well started falling in line almost effortlessly. I had spent years fighting my body and my mind. I often said I hated them and couldn’t wait to be released from what I thought of as a physical prison. I fully knew that I am not my body, but I wanted OUT of my body.  Things shifted when I stopped expecting my body to be different.

I quit weighing myself, something that I did nearly every day since I was a teen. I started a journal to write down 3 things I was grateful for each night before I went to sleep. I discovered that I needed to eat gluten free. Hard as it was, I made the change. I began working out—yoga, Pilates, cardio, whatever felt good to me that day.  I wanted it to be fun, not work. I only asked myself for ten minutes each time, but I found it felt so good and was so enjoyable that I usually kept it going for 30 minutes or so. I began meditating every day for at least 5 minutes. I allowed one stress free hour before bed each night and I went to bed at the same time each night. I opened the curtains each morning and let the sun in. Soon the difference in the way I felt was amazing. I was able to discontinue several medications within 6 months. The seizures stopped and I haven’t had one since.

Then I began noticing that many of the gluten-free foods were also natural and organic. I wondered if this could be contributing to my improved health and feelings of well-being. I began including more and more organic foods in my diet. I also decided to stop eating processed foods. Initially, this was mostly because I wanted to shift my food budget more toward organic foods. There wasn’t enough money for these and gluten free processed foods.

A new culprit appeared as I continued weeding out.

I kept soda for awhile longer, though I switched to caffeine free. I noticed even more improvement in my mental and physical state. Around this time, I noticed that on the days that I drank soda with food dyes in the (orange, grape, etc.), I felt an extreme change mental change. I was anxious, irritable and wound up. I also noticed that I had urinary inflammation similar to a low grade urinary tract infection when I consumed these. These were exactly the symptoms I had hoped to rid myself of by stopping caffeine. I did several tests on my theory and realized I needed to stop food dyes also. My husband was not convinced, until he tested this out on himself and the colored sodas had the same effect on him. Things improved even more. I was down to two medications.

My weight stabilized at a healthy place. Overall I felt very well. My pain had almost completely disappeared. I still got sick frequently with infections. And I was still tired most of the time. I knew I was borderline diabetic, but I had never done much to take care of it. My blood sugar would plummet frequently, leaving me faint, shaky, nauseated and with an intense headache. I tried going sugar free, but I knew the artificial sweeteners caused me other problems. The only way I knew to do it was by going without anything sweet for awhile and then reintroduce sugar to test the difference. My energy level came way up and I noticed I stopped being so susceptible to infection. I missed sweets, but I decided it was worth it to find a way to cook without sugar.

These days, I do yoga for about 30 minutes day, most days. I eat mostly organic (lots of veggies and fruits) and gluten free. I am eating sweets more often, but I sweeten them with organic Stevia, honey, dates or occasionally maple syrup. I meditate for 20-30 minutes every morning. Most of all, I have continued to cultivate my love of life and of myself. I can’t imagine not taking good care of my mind, body and emotions as I do now.  These days, it’s hard to imagine I used to live in such a miserable state. I’m glad it’s behind me, but I am grateful for the experience. It taught me to love myself just as I am. It taught me that love is the key. Like a butterfly I have emerged renewed.

**Editor’s Note, 11/13/15: I have since chosen return to no sweets or high sugar fruits, as my body felt best eating this way, in the long run. Blog posts about this coming soon.