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I Don’t Eat Tweety Birds Anymore

by Carilyn on July 24, 2018

Paleo Chocolate Caramel Cake

Paleo Chocolate Caramel Cake

 

As a kid, I always coveted the store-bought birthday cakes with neon cartoon characters on them that all my friends had at their parties. My mom was more of a make-it-from-scratch kind of lady. Which I hated. Sort of. I mean, I loved homemade deserts AT HOME, where they belonged, away from the judgey eyeballs of my fellow preadolescent girlfriends. But out in public, I wanted to eat Fake Food like everyone else!

Birthday parties seemed to be the nadir of Fake Food: sheet cakes smeared with tasteless frosting made out of shortening and decorated with food coloring that would stain your lips and tongue for three days (I believe it is illegal now); neon orange cheese puffs (refer back to stained face parts and repeat); hot dogs and pizza. My mom was having none of that nonsense.

For my seventh birthday, she organized a “doll party” for me where everyone got to bring their favorite doll. Not only did my mom make homemade treats for all of my guests, she made matching homemade MINIATURE treats for all of their dolls! The thrill of that party has stayed with me all these years – even though there was no Fake Food. My mom was a birthday party rock star and no one complained about the lack of Jolly Ranchers or Ding Dongs.

But as I got older, I became less interested in creative themes, and just wanted a bright yellow Tweety Bird cake from Skaggs. I still loved all the goodies my mom made for us at home (apple cake, pineapple upside down cake, peach pie), but I was mature. I wore a bra, even if I didn’t need it. I wanted something hip and cool.

My mom, not being at her first rodeo (I was her fourth child) relented and ordered me the coveted Tweety Bird cake. I was crazy excited! Finally, I was going to have a “normal” birthday party with tons of store-bought stuff. I could hardly sleep, waiting for the day, MY day, filled with artificial coloring, flavors made from words that were something like “hexmeliodexmortiphitan”, and shapes that resembled toys rather than food. This birthday was going to be EPIC!

And it was. For about five seconds. After the initial mad grab for all the grub, I noticed that most of my friends just left the food on their plates – even my cherished Tweety Bird cake. Unlike at the other parties where my mom had served homemade fried chicken, tacos, or even mini tuna sandwiches with the crust cut off, and everyone cleaned their plates, at the Fake Food party, there was not a clean plate to be seen. And, everyone was CRAZY.

All that sugar and other junk just seemed to make my normally well-behaved friends insane. Everyone was running around like lunatics, some were even fighting, and I felt sick to my stomach. Yes, that party was memorable, but for the wrong reasons.

To her credit, my mom never said, “See. This is why I don’t serve that junk.” She just cleaned up the mess, throwing away about 75% of the food and cake, and gave me a glass of milk. I never asked for a Fake Food party again.

Today, since I have cut out grains, I’m having to be even MORE particular than my mother was back in my childhood. But it isn’t as hard as I thought. When you are lucky enough to be fed real food your whole life, it makes it much easier to listen to your body about what makes you feel good, and what makes you feel rotten. And with so many great grain-free cookbooks out there nowadays, it is easy to whip up something at home that not only tastes great, but makes you feel great.

Because homemade is always better than Fake Food, even if there is no Tweety Bird on top.

This recipe comes from the wonderful Sweet Laurel cookbook. Wow! I love this book and have been working my way through it like it’s my job. With so many desserts, I have been forced to share with people who don’t follow paleo/keto, but they have universally loved the desserts from this book. The ladies at Sweet Laurel give several variations in their cookbook, but I have included what I used, and some non-Paleo substitutions.

 

Paleo Chocolate Caramel Cake

from the Sweet Laurel Cookbook

 

This recipe calls for two 6-inch layers or one 8-inch layer. I only had one 6-inch pan, so I opted for the 8-inch and sliced the cake in half to make two layers (you need some frosting in the middle, right?). In the future, I will do it with 6-inch layers, but still cut each cake in half to have a four layer cake. Frosting, frosting, frosting.

Coconut oil, for greasing the pans (or ghee/butter if you are not Paleo)

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups very fine almond flower

1/4 cup 100% unsweetened cacao powder (or cocoa powder if not Paleo)

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (or sea/kosher salt if not Paleo)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

 

For the frosting:

4 ounces 100% cacao unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup coconut oil, solid

1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup (more to taste, if desired)

1/2 almond butter

1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

Melt the chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add maple syrup. Allow to cool.

Transfer the chocolate mixture to a stand mixer (or larger bowl if you are using a hand mixer), and add the almond butter until you have a thick frosting.

Add the coconut milk and mix until smooth. Taste for sweetness and thickness. Add more maple or coconut milk, if needed.

 

For the caramel:

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 or 2 pitted dates

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of Himalayan pink salt (or sea/kosher salt)

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Chill it if you are not going to use it immediately. It will keep for about a month if refrigerated.

 

 

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The Meander Compulsion

by Carilyn on July 19, 2018

Saturday, I ran the city – Westside to Eastside, mountains to plains. I needed 25 miles, and I needed to try out the new pack I bought to wear on my run along the Thames next month. For the first 10 miles, some of my favorite running friends joined me. We started midway up the Franklin Mountains and ran towards downtown, stopping at Starbucks.

After a quick coffee, my friends went on about their lives, and I headed back out to finish the last 15 miles. I didn’t have an exact route picked out, so I just decided to head east, trying to avoid the busiest streets. I love to meander (which probably explains why I get lost so often) because you get to see unexpected things (how would you ever know that someone has a giant cowboy hat statue in their front yard if you don’t like to meander?), and you usually end up with “bonus miles”. Win. Win. Win.

But not everyone enjoys meandering. My family accuses me of forcing them on “death marches” when we visit foreign cities because we just keep walking and walking until we find something interesting. I consider them “wonderful opportunities to explore”. They vehemently disagree.

Just like my run on Saturday, when I’m out and about on vacation, I usually have a vague idea of where I want to go, but end up changing my mind about it several (okay, many) times before I end up anywhere (and usually not the same place I had originally declared as the goal). My family finds this maddening.

Tim: Where are we going?

Me: To see the castle (lake, museum, statue, rock – whatever. The important thing is not where we are going, you see, just that we are going).

Tim: How far is it?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe 2 miles?

Tim: So, like 5 miles.

Me: Whatever. It’s over there, somewhere. We’ll find it.

Tim: We both know there is a 50% chance we won’t find it, and instead, will end up seeing something completely different.

Me: And what is wrong with that?

Somehow, my crew doesn’t seem to take as much pleasure in these unexpected discoveries that come from meandering (such as ending up at Harrod’s instead of The Museum of Natural History in London; winding up at the Firth in Edinburgh instead of the Botanical Gardens; or happening upon a “secret” former Nazi hideaway in Mexico rather than the posh hotel I promised them – we survived, so I’m not sure what the complaint was) as I do. No imagination, I believe.

Even as a kid, I liked to wander off.  One night, when I was three years old, I walked out the front door and made my way to a neighbor’s house a mile away. The shocked neighbors found me on their doorstep, happy as a clam, and called my mother (this is before the days of calling the cops). I don’t really remember much about it, but I definitely don’t remember being scared. I just wanted to walk somewhere.

I’m guessing all of us runners have some sort of “meander compulsion” – the belief that there is something interesting just over the horizon/around the corner/over the next hill. We need to see what is out there, even if it means not knowing exactly where we are going. Especially if it means not knowing exactly where we are going.

So, while some people call it “getting lost” or “death marching or “walking to nowhere”, I believe that when we are meandering, we know exactly where we are going. Just maybe not where we are going to end up.

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Run Wild

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With Keto listed as the WORST diet of 2017, my post the other day was timed just right, don’t you think? As ultrarunners, we seem to be always swimming upstream. Apparently, we take great pleasure in doing things that the rest of the world deems moronic, dangerous, and unsustainable. Yup, we are spitters-into-the-wind. I don’t […]

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  Living without sugar (and wine) has been the toughest part of keto for me. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I LOVE sugar. If I were smarter, I would figure out how to search my site to see just how many high carb/sugar-filled/dessert recipes are on here. […]

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Of Course, We’re Going to Start With Bread (Keto Everything Bagels. Because Bagels are EVERYTHING.)

January 8, 2018

Keto Egg and Bacon Bagel Sandwich When most people first contemplate going keto, they usually wail some version of, “But I can’t live without bread!” While my lament was more something along the lines of, “But I can’t live without doughnuts! And pie! And cookies in the shape of hearts and decorated with sprinkles!,” I […]

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Keto in French: KeTOW, Mes Amis (See? Isn’t that more appealing, already?)

January 5, 2018

Editorial note: I’ve started experimenting with keto desserts, so next post we will resume recipes. I just thought I needed to give a little more background so y’all weren’t like, What the hell is going on here?! Have all the adults left the premises?! When Tim and I first started keto, part of what made following […]

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