Paleo Pumpkin Sweet Potato Custard was the finishing touch to our Thanksgiving holiday meal, and it’s incredibly easy to make.
This was my husband’s first Thanksgiving in the US—he’s from Scotland—so I wanted to make a simple but delicious feast for us, including something a bit sweet for dessert. I don’t bake, though, so whatever I made had to be crustless and be mindful of his histamine intolerance; that meant avoiding eggs.
So, while this isn’t a true custard which contains milk or a dairy-free milk substitute plus eggs, it’s the closest thing I could replicate. The texture is creamy and soft like a custard, plus it’s got a boost of gut-healing gelatin.
Gather five small jelly jars or ramekins, about 1/4 cup in capacity. You can make these as large or small as you’d like, so use what you have on hand.
In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin, sweet potato, honey (optional if you’re limiting sugar, though this recipe isn’t very sweet), cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger until they’re well combined. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the coconut milk on medium-high heat until it’s warmed through but not boiling. Turn off the heat. Slowly add the gelatin while whisking constantly. Make sure it’s dissolved and there are no lumps.
Now, slowly whisk the coconut milk / gelatin into the pumpkin and sweet potato mixture until well combined. Pour the mixture into the jelly jars or ramekins.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Store covered. Top with coconut whipped cream if you’re feeling sassy!
Change It Up
Use all pumpkin or all sweet potato instead of a mixture.
Time for an update on The Performance Paleo Cookbook!
It’s been a crazy past few months working on the cookbook, but we’re at an exciting stage. I’ve turned in the manuscript and completed the photographs (still need to finish editing those) which means the lion’s share of the creative content is done. I’m still catching my breath a bit!
Originally, I wasn’t planning to take the photographs myself, but the opportunity arose and I knew we’d get the best possible outcome if I stepped up to the plate (no pun intended). What followed was a hectic month.
We—the hubs and I—built wood backdrops and shopped for props. (I definitely have too many bowls now.) I cooked every recipe again from scratch and according to spec to check the flavors one more time. I styled and photographed 90 of the 100 recipes in the cookbook here in the dining room of our tiny, 100-year-old cottage. I made a literal mountain of dishes and went through a figurative ton of food.
It was all worth it because I know the cookbook is going to be on point for y’all! So, what happens next?
Now, the book will be formatted, arranged and edited over the next few months, then it will go off to the printer so it’s ready for its debut on January 6th. (Remember, this is an actual print book!) I know it seems like a long time to wait, but the time will fly by, I’m convinced. The good news is that you can pre-order now and lock in the early bird price of 25% off! Click here for Amazon or here for Barnes and Noble. It’ll also be formatted into a digital version if e-readers are your cup of tea.
What’s going to be in The Performance Paleo Cookbook?
100 recipes with 90 full-color photographs,
50 recipe combo ideas to make full meals,
7 different fueling protocols to help plan for whatever time of the day you train,
Pre- and post-workout snack ideas,
Tons of protein-rich and carb-dense recipes,
So for now, I’ll be turning a lot more attention back to the site (we have a site refresh coming up to make it more user-friendly) and working on some awesome new resources. Thanks for all your continued support!
Vanilla Berry Chia Pudding is the perfect red, white and blue treat for this weekend. Seeing as it’s Memorial Day, I put together a quick, easy, festive treat for your holiday picnic or BBQ. You can make them parfait-style like I did here or just plop the chia pudding on the bottom and the fruit on top.
The sky is the limit with how you can adding your own toppings or customize them! You can make these in advance and keep them refrigerated until serving.
In a medium bowl, combine the coconut milk, chia seeds, maca, vanilla protein and vanilla extract. Whisk constantly until the chia seeds are evenly distributed and not lumpy. Refrigerate and stir occasionally until the pudding has thickened, about 1 hour. If it’s too thin, add another tablespoon of chia seeds.
In small mugs or serving cups, layer a few spoonfuls of chia pudding in the bottom, then a layer of fresh raspberries, followed by another layer of chia pudding and then a layer of fresh blueberries. There’s really no wrong way to do it so be creative. Eat immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving.
Change It Up
Use strawberries instead of blueberries.
Try almond milk instead of coconut milk.
Add a dash of almond extract to the pudding and top with sliced almonds.
Omit the vanilla protein and sweeten with honey or maple syrup.
*Use the code SEPaleo for 10% off your order with Stronger Faster Healthier!
Y’all know I don’t do many treat recipes, but every once in a while inspiration strikes and I roll with it. Last night I was working on recipe development for the cookbook, looked over at a jar of Love Bean and a great idea popped into my head.
What’s Love Bean? It’s a fudgy spread that’s dairy-free, grain / gluten-free, vegan and totally delicious. I wouldn’t make these everyday—they are still a sweet treat even though they’re Paleo-friendly—but for a single, lush bite to take care of a sweet craving, they’re perfect.
No Love Bean? The product is a blend of coconut oil, cocoa and coconut sugar and while I have no idea what the proportions are, if you’re savvy in the kitchen you can probably figure out how to make a suitable substitute.
In a medium bowl, add the coconut, Love Bean fudge, coffee, sea salt and protein powder (optional). Mix well to combine. If the mixture seems very soft, put it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up. You want it soft enough to roll but not so soft that it falls apart.
Place the chopped macadamia nuts in a shallow bowl or on a plate.
Get a teaspoon of the mixture and shape it into a ball. Drop the truffle into the macadamia nuts and gently roll it around until all sides are coated. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Store covered in the refrigerator or freezer.
Change It Up
If you’re limiting caffeine, you can use decaf coffee or omit it all together. They’re still delicious.
Can’t eat nuts? Roll the truffles in cocoa powder or shredded coconut. Or just leave them naked!
There’s nothing better than the smell of passion fruit: tropical, sweet-tart and fragrant! (Okay, maybe the smell of bacon could compete.) I saw some delectable passion fruits at the farmer’s market last weekend and immediately wanted to make something with them. Invariably, my mind jumped to a Paleo-friendly panna cotta.
If you can’t find fresh passion fruit, you can usually find it sold as puree in the frozen foods section of the market. (If you still can’t find it, consider making my Cinnamon French Toast Panna Cotta recipe instead.) Depending on how sweet your passion fruit is, feel free to adjust how much honey you use. I only used a small amount because I wanted a sweet-tart flavor not unlike a lemon curd.
If using prepared passion fruit puree, skip to step 2. If using fresh passion fruit, halve the fruit and scoop the seeds into a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Using the back of a spoon to squish the juice out from the seeds. (You can also use your hands. Definitely a slightly messy job but fun nonetheless.) I was able to get about 1/2 cup of juice from 8 passion fruit.
Pour the passion fruit juice / puree into a medium saucepan. Add the coconut milk and heat the mixture on medium-low but do not allow to boil. Once the mixture is heated, whisk in the gelatin, stirring constantly until it’s dissolved.
Taste the mixture and add 1 Tablespoon of honey (or less or more depending on how tart the fruit is).
Pour the mixture into four small ramekins—or if you’re feeling clever, you can reuse the shells as serving cups and pour the mixture evenly into those. I used an empty egg carton to prop them up. Refrigerate the panna cotta for at least 3 hours or until completely set.
Making homemade gummies with fruit and high-quality gelatin is one alternative to making lots of bone broth / soup stock for its gelatin content.
These Strawberry Lemonade Gummies are a recipe I develop for BreakingMuscle.com. The combo of the berries and lemon give it a sweet-tart flavor that’s really refreshing. (This is the high-quality gelatin I use.)
Cinnamon French Toast Panna Cotta is a riff on a traditional Italian panna cotta, but mine is dairy-free. Usually panna cotta is made from a combination of milk, cream, sugar and gelatin—creamy with a slightly firm texture.
Of course, there’s no actual bread in my version, but I incorporated all my favorite French toast flavors: the butteriness from the ghee, richness from the egg yolks, warmth from cinnamon and of course a bit of sweet from maple syrup. A bit of crumbled crispy bacon on top gives a savory counterpoint to the sweetness. And of course, I used coconut milk to keep it dairy-free. Seriously delicious.
Keep in mind that this panna cotta doesn’t set up like super-firm gelatin desserts. I serve it in small Mason jars for a few small, rich bites.
Pour 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into a very small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the panna cotta.
In a medium pot, whisk the remainder of the coconut milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, ghee and cinnamon until they’re combined. Warm the mixture over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, but don’t let it boil. You want to warm the mixture enough to dissolve the gelatin but not too much so that the egg yolk starts to scramble.
Turn off the heat and whisk in the coconut milk / gelatin mixture from step 1 until the gelatin is dissolved. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Pour the panna cotta into small ramekins, bowls or Mason jars. I used four 4-ounce Mason jars, like these. Refrigerate for 1–2 hours or until the panna cotta firms up. Serve with a garnish of crumbled bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
*Please note that while ghee is technically derived from butter, it’s had the problematic proteins removed during processing and is only pure butterfat. Therefore, some people consider it a dairy product. I, however, don’t because most folks who react to dairy negatively do because of the protein or the carbohydrate fractions, not the fat.
Nobody makes maple bacon granola like my friend Claudette from Cavegirl Confections. Crunchy roasted nuts, a hint of sweetness from real maple syrup and of course, the savory awesomeness of crispy bacon pieces. I’m not Paleo perfect with my nutrition, and I do like the occasional small piece of dark chocolate or some nuts drizzled with raw honey. Sometimes, I want something a bit more special. The granolas, bars and nut butters from Cavegirl Confections are so delicious and just right for when I want a bit of a treat.
There are lots of Paleo snack companies out there, but Cavegirl stands out from amongst the crowd. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the prep kitchen and watch as Claudette prepares everything in small batches (so you know it’s fresh), artisanal-style, from the best ingredients. She’s a stickler for taste and quality, but don’t take my word for it: In her day job, Claudette’s a sous chef at one of San Diego’s best new restaurants, Sea180. Her flavor combos are spot on, and her eye for detail is evident.
She’s constantly developing new products, so check her site often to see what she’s cooking up! Rumor is that cashew butter and a new butter for making butter (aka “Bulletproof-style” coffee)! Cavegirl Confections ships product around the world, even APO for those serving in our Armed Forces.
This 3-Ingredient Banana Pudding is really simple. While I love convenience, the little cups of chia pudding goodness you can buy at the grocery store can be kind of pricey, especially if you’re watching your wallet.
The possibilities for ingredients are really endless, but this one has just three: banana, coconut milk and chia seeds.
In a food processor or blender, combine the banana and coconut milk. Process until smooth.
Add the chia seeds and pulse a few times to mix evenly.
Pour into a container and chill for an hour to let the chia seeds plump up a bit. (Or if you’re like me, eat it right away because you don’t want to wait. The seeds will be crunchy, though.)
The pudding may darken in color as it sits, but that will not affect the taste.
You may recognize this (or maybe not) as a recipe that’s had a facelift. Here’s the difference in the photos. If you want to know more about how I’ve improved my food photography, see my free blog series on Food Photography Tips. Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Pin this for later!
Have you ever tried chia pudding? What’s your favorite combo?
[Full disclosure: There are a few recipes for treats on this site, but I don’t make it a habit of posting tons of desserts because, well, they’re not a part of my plan for optimal health and wellness, and I don’t think it’s right to pass them off to you with illusions that eating them regularly is a good idea.]
Desserts and treats are a tricky—and touchy—subject.
I’m not saying that you can never have a treat ever again when you make the commitment to improve your health by changing your diet. Being a Paleo perfectionist every day for the rest of your life is not a way to live and isn’t sustainable. (On the other hand, being squeaky-clean for a 30-day nutrition reset such as Whole30®, where you’ll completely avoid added sugar and desserts, is valid because it’s 1) a learning tool and 2) temporary.) But, let’s be honest. You may be here because you have a history of health issues, obesity or disordered eating. I was a sugar addict. We all have things we’re working on.
As a Paleo blogger with a sizable readership, I have a responsibility to you: to provide thought-provoking information, educate about nutrition best-practices and provide you with tasty, healthy recipes. I do all this without the illusion that making Paleo treats and desserts on a regular basis is a good idea. Sadly, there are influential folks out there selling you the sexy side of Paleo. A million and one desserts, even sweets and treats as part of clean-eating programs. (Remember, the programs where you’re supposed to reset and learn something about yourself?) They do this without preface…”Oh hey, by the way, these aren’t really for daily consumption.” Many have mentioned not eating the treats they make and blog about. How is this truth in advertising?
Where did we get things so mixed up? When did things become so grey? I guess I feel a bit like a Discovery Channel documentary to their Entertainment Tonight: One is good for you and the other, fantasy fluff. My readers deserve better. You see, bloggers have a responsibility to be transparent and readers, to know their context. Looking for gut health? Trying to normalize your metabolism? Performing your best athletically? Losing fat? These will all influence your unique dietary needs. Again, perfection isn’t the name of the game, but making good choices and building a strong nutritional foundation is non-negotiable.
So, back to Paleo donuts and why they suck. Okay, it could be Paleo [insert any dessert here], really…
Reason #1 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: They Don’t Taste Better Than the Real Thing
How to replicate the whisper-light crisp of a donut as you bite down, followed by the pillowy soft interior with almond flour? It’s not possible. Part of the reason why people love donuts is how they taste, feel in your hands and smell—faintly yeasty with sweet overtones—as you eat them. Instead of making Paleo donuts on a regular basis, why not just save up for a really special occasion and eat the real thing? You know it’ll freaking taste better than any Paleo recreation! (Celiacs or other people who should legitimately not eat wheat, please take this as intended.) Go to your favorite shop and sit down with your favorite kind of donut. Put your phone down. Savor each bite. Enjoy the experience. Then go back to life—and nutrition—as scheduled.
Even Paleo ingredients aren’t perfect. Yeah, I know: Gluten-free flours may be “better” than wheat. The gut irritation caused by gluten is real, and it’s not good. But let’s not jade ourselves into thinking gluten-free flours or nut flours get “unrestricted consumption” status. They’ve got issues: phytates, the potential for gluten-cross reactions, and high caloric content just to name a few. Just because an flour is gluten-free doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to eat tons of it. Sweeteners hold the same burden. Some may be more “Paleo” than others, but it shouldn’t be eaten without limit.
Reason #3 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: They’re Not Helping You Make Better Choices
Like me, you may be here because you’ve got some serious issues to resolve with food. I was the queen of sugar, and I still have to watch myself. Does this mean I don’t indulge in a sweet from time to time? Not at all, but I have to be very careful about how frequently I make treats. In the four years I’ve been Paleo, I’ve had to pull the reins back more than a few times because “once in a while” became more like “every few days.” Sugar still messes with me if I eat too much of it, even from “Paleo” sources like honey or maple syrup. So, I avoid it in my day-to-day because I know I make better food choices when I do.
Reason #4 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: Daily Desserts Aren’t Part of a Healthy Nutrition Plan
Desserts should be special. And by special, I don’t mean eaten only on days that end in “y”. End of story.
Reason #5 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: Paleo Baking is Not Economical
Trying to do Paleo on a budget? Worried you can’t afford it? Paleo baking—and all the special ingredients that goes with it—is expensive. If you’re trying to decide between meat and eggs and good quality produce or baking, you’re going to get much more nutrition from the former than the latter.
Dark chocolate mint coconut butter cups are so tempting that I only make them once a year at the holidays as sweet little homemade gifts for family & friends. They’re pretty easy to make and you can put together a large batch relatively quickly. Trust me, they’re always a huge hit!
Not a fan of mint? You can leave out the peppermint extract and just use vanilla extract. They’re still good, but if you’re a fan of peppermint patties, you should give it a try. You can also buy pre-made coconut butter if you’re short on time.
Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Mint Coconut Butter Cups
Allow to process for several minutes (as much as 8 to 10 min in a food pro) – scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times – until the coconut starts to become smooth. You may need to add melted coconut oil (1+ Tablespoon) to adjust the texture and make it stickier. Note: If you want truly smooth coconut butter, you’ll have to use a high powered blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec. A food processor will almost always result in a slightly grainy texture. Your other option is to buy coconut butter (manna) from the store.
Remove to a separate container. You may have extra coconut butter left over. Trust me, you’ll find some way to eat it…it’s really good.
Break chocolate into chunks and put in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high, stirring frequently, until melted. The time completely depends on how dark the chocolate is, percent-wise and how powerful your microwave is. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. You could also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate on the stovetop (my preferred method).
Assembling the Dark Chocolate Mint Coconut Butter Cups
This rich Paleo Dark Chocolate Coconut Pudding is so easy to make for an every-once-in-a-while treat.
A couple months back, I posted a very similar recipe with gelatin and some folks wrote in requesting other options for thickeners.
I reworked the ingredients just slightly and the result was equally tasty and simple but gelatin-, egg- and dairy-free! Serve it in small dessert cups for just the perfect little bite. Tiny spoons are fun, too.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, chopped dark chocolate and cocoa powder.
Warm the milk until the chocolate is completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the chia seeds and vanilla extract. [Hint: Add the chia seeds while whisking continuously or else they will stick to the bottom of the pan in one big gelatinous lump. Not cool.]
Whisk thoroughly until the chia seeds begin to thicken the mixture a bit.
Pour into small serving cups and refrigerate for at least an hour until the mixture is very thick.
I eat with my eyes first, so parfaits – with their repeating layers of tasty goodness – are always appealing. This one’s made with fruit and coconut and some chopped nuts for crunch (and contains no extra added sugar), so it’s perfectly nutritious.
[As an aside, I get lots of questions about whether fruit is Paleo or how much fruit is okay to eat. Know your context…if you are active and have good body composition and blood sugar regulation, there’s nothing wrong with a couple servings of fruit each day. If you’re battling a sugar addiction or trying to improve body comp, for example, you may want to be more wary of your fruit intake…especially dried fruit.]
I used rhubarb to counterbalance the sweetness of the apples, but if it’s out of season or not available in your area, you could leave it out. Another option is to add in some blackberries (like in my Blackberry Cinnamon Applesauce) to add some tartness…plus, the color would be stunning!
Ingredients for 2-3 parfaits:
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced (optional…leave the skin on)
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the apples and rhubarb with 1/4 cup of water. Stir frequently and cook until the apples and rhubarb are very soft and have made a thick sauce, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries by cutting off the green tops and quartering them. Also, mix the vanilla extract with the coconut milk.
Time to make the parfait…there’s no real science here. You could make several small ones or a couple big ones, depending on your preference. I layered a tablespoon of the coconut milk at the bottom, follow by some fresh strawberries, then some of the apple-rhubarb sauce. I repeated these layers one more time, then topped it with some strawberries and a tablespoon of chopped Brazil nuts.
Get creative and let me know in the comments any variations you might use!
This dairy-free dark chocolate coconut pudding has four ingredients and is stupid-easy to make. Believe it!
I occasionally eat dark chocolate, and I try to stick to soy lecithin-free, very dark (85%+), high quality stuff when I can. I wanted to use dark chocolate in an ultra simple dessert and instead of opting for a mousse—which has eggs—I used gelatin to firm up this treat. Look for high quality gelatin. My favorites are this one and this one.
It’s not very sweet because I didn’t add anything extra besides what’s in the chocolate, and it’s very rich, so I served it in tiny espresso glasses for just a couple lush bites.
Are simple Paleo tortillas really possible?! If you’re looking for a really easy Paleo version of a flour tortilla (or a crepe), look no further.
These are foolproof and are much more flexible than other Paleo tortillas I’ve tried before that mostly use coconut flour as a base. I had a huge bag of arrowroot powder to use up (a gluten-free flour alternative) so this fit the bill.
These Paleo tortillas hold up to folding or rolling and can be used in sweet or savory applications, and it’s easy to make a double or triple batch in advance and save them for upcoming meals. They’re also perfect for making up some tasty lunches on the go, and word on the street is that the kiddos love them.
I tested these to see how well they’d freeze. I rolled the tortillas up, froze them, and they thawed flexible and easy to fold!
I’ve been on a rhubarb kick lately since it’s in season and easier to find now than at any other time. Rhubarb is a very tart vegetable but is commonly paired with fruit for a sweet counterpoint. I included some chopped dates to lessen the bite, but this sauce is not predominantly sweet.
I served this sweet-tart sauce on top of a brined pork tenderloin – which I cut into medallions and pan-seared – but it would also be great on chicken or served with some chopped nuts on top as a snack.
Put the dates in a heat-safe bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10-15 minutes until they soften, then drain the water and chop until it becomes almost a paste. Set aside.
In a large skillet, combine the rhubarb, strawberries and ginger. Cook over medium-low heat until the fruit gets very soft, about 10-15 minutes. You may have to reduce the heat to low to keep it from sticking or burning.
Turn off the heat and stir in the dates and vanilla.