Pumpkin Spice Cake: gluten free and delicious.

I mean honestly, you can't even tell it's gluten, grain & refined sugar free. It's that good. I wanted to make a pumpkin spice cake for turkey day that I could actually eat and love (I'm eating gluten-free, sugar-free and *sigh* low-carb because of this adrenal burnout issue).

I practiced with cupcakes early in the week, which is something that I never do. Usually I launch into a new recipe on holidays or for parties without care for the fact that it may totally flop. But this time I smartened up. I knew that I'd have to combine and adjust a couple of recipes to get it right. I based it on Elana's pumpkin spice muffins and Comfy Belly's pumpkin bread (almost cake). 
(my recipe is below the photos)

We ate it with a toasted nutmeg ice cream (modified-- I subbed xylitol and stevia for sugar and coconut milk for some--not all-- of the dairy). Yum. That ice cream is sooo good.

Here's what I did: note: I'm not a recipe writer-- so bear with me

Pumpkin Spice Cake
(makes enough for a double layer cake--but you could make this as cupcakes, muffins or even a loaf, just adjust the cook time and maybe cut the recipe in half)

2 cups of pumpkin puree (homemade or canned-- I used canned this time)
1 cup of coconut nectar (you could also use honey, agave or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp Stevia clear liquid*
1/2 tsp Vanilla creme liquid stevia
6 eggs

1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt

spices--(not exact-- sorry!):
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
almost 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1/2-3/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp of cloves

4 cups of almond flour**
4+ tsp coconut flour (yes, teaspoons-- a little goes a long way with coconut flour)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine wet ingredients and blend well (I used an immersion blender, but a mixer is fine.
Add in rest of ingredients (if you want, you can mix the dry separately and then add in gradually ;)
Bake in two well-greased round cake pans-- I buttered, lined the bottom with parchment and then buttered and floured.
Bake until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I think it took about 35 minutes?? Whoops. See. I told you that I'm not a recipe writer. Next time I'll get it right. Set the timer for 30 and you should be fine.

*if you don't want to use stevia (or want it to be officially paleo) sub another cup of your choice of liquid sweetener and a bit of vanilla--- but in this case you may need to leave out an egg or two to get a similar texture... You could also use just plain liquid stevia.

**I love Honeyville blanched almond flour, but this time I used Bob's Red Mill I whirled it in the food processor to make a bit finer.

I almost forgot!-- I made a frosting of cream cheese, butter, tiny bit of cream and powdered 'sugar' that I made from xylitol... i think i added stevia to that too...



Silver linings.

It cracks me up that Finn dressed in the same colors-- I think it was by chance! B and that tongue...
I know that it was just a couple of weeks ago when I was writing about being nostalgic for autumn in New England. But you know what? California ain't too shabby this time of year either. I witnessed some amazing skies last week-- especially while driving down to the San Joaquin Valley (over an hour drive-- but the closest Trader Joe's!).  On Saturday night the first frost arrived and we woke up to a blanket of golden leaves in the backyard that turned brown by the evening. It was pretty cool.

By the way: It's Nablopomo day 14 and I'm barely surviving... happy Wednesday!


My favorite veteran

My Grandad has a booming voice and a sparkle to his eyes. He is the only grandparent I have left at age 89, and he lives across the country from me, in Rhode Island, where he's  lived for most of his life.

When my brother and I were little, Grandad would tell us his war stories. I could never remember the details, so 8 years ago I recorded him telling a story at my aunt's dining room table.*

Here's the story of when he was captured....
George Chaplin was a waist gunner during World War II on a B24H  that was shot down on June 23, 1944. The crew was on its 16th mission (although they would later be given double credit for many of those missions, so I'm not sure of the final count). They set out from Venosa, Italy to bomb an oil rig in Romania. They were flying at 25,000 ft and had just dropped their bombs at 9:20 when they were hit with an 88 mm shell (Grandad was taking photos of drop so he knew the time). By 9:30 they were on the ground.

When they were hit, the plane caught fire and my grandfather was burned on his neck, eyebrows and eyes. Before jumping, he noticed the ball gunner was stuck in his position. He attempted to get him out but he couldn't release the clutches on the ball gun and he had to go. (The ball gunner managed to do it on his own.)

Grandad jumped over the 50 caliber machine gun in his waist window and into the air. He had a "panicky" few seconds when he realized that his parachute was on upside down but was able to find and successfully pull the cord.

As he parachuted to the ground, he saw one of his crew members burning in his own parachute. They landed within 50 feet of each other on the south side of the Danube River in the Bulgarian town of Ruse. Grandad didn't recognize the other man as the radio operator at first because his face was badly burned. He'd later find out that the radio operator had actually fallen out of the plane when they were hit, but was fortunate (or smart) enough to have his chute on.

This is a B24...(but not his).
A truck drove up while he was trying to figure out how to get himself and his burned friend out of there. Out stepped a "half-uniformed man and another in black civilians with a fedora". Grandad thought that he was waving a gun but it turned out it was a black notebook. He was told not to run so he stopped because he didn't want to get shot.

Two other men from his crew were already in the truck-- both had been struck by flak. One had a broken wrist.** Grandad communicated to the driver that he wanted to give the radio operator morphine from his first aid box. They had no common language, but eventually it worked out. One of his other crew members was a veterinarian and instructed my grandfather on how to inject the morphine into the radio operator's arm. 

They were taken to a garrison prison where they stayed for 3 months. There were soldiers there from the Bulgarian army and navy and one Jew.  Seventeen of them shared a cell and they lay on wooden shelves to sleep and left the cell only to go to the latrine.  He was interrogated quite a few times by an officer who spoke Oxford type English fluently, they asked him 'every question under the sun' including personal questions about his family. He made up lies to all of them.

During one of the several bomb raids while they were there, my grandad was in solitary confinement and they wouldn't let him out. Guards were left there with him and they were as scared as he was with only a wooden shack protecting them. 

When Stalin's armies caused the capitulation of Bulgaria 3 months later, my grandfather was 'repatriated' through Greece, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and then back to Venosa in Italy. It was there in Italy where he told his corporal that he was 'just burned' not wounded. It was because the corporal wrote 'no wounds' that he wasn't eligible for the purple heart. (Even though he should have been). In his words, "It was one of those medals that I believe that I earned, however I don't have. Makes no difference, I'm alive and well."

My grandfather was almost home and in Rhode Island on October 23, 1944 "the very day that my oldest daughter was born". My Grandmother, Dorothy "Dottie" Harlow Chaplin, knew nothing about his whereabouts or if he were alive until that day. 

Incredible isn't it? The stories our grandparents have... I know that there are countless stories of other veterans, stories that I can't imagine living through and not being completely insane because of PTSD.  And of course, there is so much more to my grandfather that I haven't told in this post, but I just wanted to share a bit to honor him for Veteran's Day.

*I was hoping to submit the recording to the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, but it has a lot of extra 'noise'. I may have to re-record. I feel like it is so important to record the stories of our elders. I loved hearing his voice as I listened to the recording today and was wishing that I had recorded my mom's stories. I can still hear her voice, but I get scared that someday I won't be able to.

**4 of the crew members were in the Bulgarian prison, 4 in Romanian prison and 2 disappeared. Two of the guys who ended up in Romania first landed on an island in the Danube. They killed and buried a guard there and were later captured. One of them (a real 'backwoods boy') tried to escape three times. He was beaten and put in solitary confinement. On the third escape he found horses and was about to steal one when the owner of the horse stuck a gun up to his head and took him back to camp. When he got there he found out they had capitulated and he was free.


Teen Yoga

Tonight was the last class of my 6 week 'yoga for teens' session.

 It's been almost two years since I stopped teaching high school to be home with my boys and I was really missing the energy and presence of teenagers. I used to teach an elective yoga class in addition to environmental science-- but this new class was especially good because the students actually chose to be there. They signed up, paid for it and came to the classes outside of the school day and on top of their heavy loads of extra-curricular and sport activities.

Aren't they awesome? We did some partner yoga tonight (as you can see in the photos), which is so much fun to do with this age group because they really want to be social (at least this class did-- it might not work with every group).

I love seeing the contrast between my adult yoga classes and the teens.  I find it fascinating, the different ways that people move, and how their bodies respond to various verbal prompts or poses in general.

But what I truly love is sharing a practice that has helped me to become more aware of my own body and mind in ways that have had a profound impact on my daily life.

I'm feeling grateful.... and sleepy.


Thanksgiving sides & such: gluten free

illustration: Rebekka Seale
I'm already getting excited for Thanksgiving... I'm not hosting this year, so it will be easy-- no spatchcocking or setting up a minute by minute plan for the cooking (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but as you probably know, the logistics take some coordination--even with the fun, small group we had last year).

This year, we get to go to my cousin's house. His amazing Aussie wife specializes in over-achievement far beyond my pre-adrenal burnout days. She is also an organizer extraordinaire. I love the fact that even though I live 3000 miles from home I still have some family here. My mom's sister --a transplant from Rhode Island--- lives next door to my in-laws and raised her kids here in this small town.
The hosts:  cousin, Aussie wife, 2 kiddos
The guests: My aunt and uncle, another lovely cousin & her 2 boys, friends of said lovely cousin (I think they are a couple and a toddler), the amazing Aussie's mum (all the way from Oz), and the amazing Aussie's aunt and daughters (who also live here in town), and finally--the four of us.

What I'm bringing:
  1. Sweet potato & sage butter casserole: this was a hit at last year's feast. I Highly recommend it.
found on The Bitten Word. Photo: Martha Stewart Living
2. A Festive cocktail: I'm thinking.....either the ginger bourbon fizz (illustrated above) or a version of this classic whiskey smash (maybe made with ginger syrup instead of simple syrup and possibly subbing another liquor):

from Bon Appetit

A gluten free stuffing/dressing-- I think I'll go the cornbread route (I came up with a tasty GF cornbread recipe based on others but of course didn't document it. I'll post it when I figure it out again).  Here are two cornbread dressings that look yummy: 1) Cornbread dressing with smoked bacon & pecans (from Southern Living) :

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck
 2) Cornbread, sausage & pecan dressing (from Bon Appetit):

Photograph by Christopher Testani

Toasted nutmeg ice cream from Saveur (also a winner from last year-- I changed it a bit but will figure that out later):
Credit: Todd Coleman
Some sort of gluten free dessert: I think I'll turn this butternut squash cake gluten free:

somehow crossing it with this pumpkin spice cake:

That's all for now... What are you cooking?


Found: Small town P.O.

I live in a REALLY small town. The post office isn't open on Saturday except to access your post office box and peruse the bulletin board.

J usually goes to the box to retrieve our measly mail, but today I was the one to make the trip.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the bulletin board posts.

For example, who knew that Bonsai Dan the Man was in our midst?! I want to set up an appointment to learn a thing or two from him....

 I'm guessing this next one is for real? Although it makes for good comedy. I'm not sure where he got the note paper, but I sure do hope he finds some under the table work to get himself a photo ID. He IS resourceful.

And lastly: Would you call on this? Are you a trusting person? I generally am, but there's a cynic inside me that wonders... I hope there's not a horribly sad story behind it.

That's all. FYI: my headache turned into a stupid cold. I didn't think I'd make any post at all for Nablopomo day 10. Is this better than nothing? I'm not sure.


For your viewing pleasure: at play.

My head hurts tonight and after a long evening of rowdy boys I don't think I can muster up much writing.... so here are a couple of videos that I loved from last year. They are both beautiful and not too long-- please enjoy!

The first one is the JP Auclair street segment from All.I.Can by Sherpa Cinemas. The clip is 5 minutes. I love everything about it, especially the 'pay-off' (as Jason told me it's called) at about 2:45. So cool-- check it out:

The second is a short film by Juan Rayos of the most bad-ass girls on long boards in the mountains outside of Madrid. 4 minutes.

happy friday! I hope you get to play outside this weekend...


Gardening and getting outside in the 'hood.

B and I planted garlic today before the storm. We've also planted onions and one lonely plant of broccoli in our little boxes.  I'm hoping that something grows well. Even though I've worked on a couple of small farms, I don't seem to have the greenest thumb around.... But I'm hopeful. The chickens seem to like me anyway.
One of the best things about our new house is that our friends moved in next door. We get to have Sunday morning coffee/tea across our backyards and Finn loves having a friend to play with. In fact, I just returned from having a cocktail (and a half) and good conversation at their house.  
I'm fascinated by these 'pretend' deer (as Finn and I call them) that live down the street. Whoever lives here has an amazing creek-side park-like property. The deer seem comfortable, don't they?
B is into it. Watering those plants. He is a piece of work, this one. (another one of my mom' s phrases). 

More rain tomorrow! It's beginning to feel more like Autumn...


Loving Kindness Meditation: Peace out.

I think I've found it! A way to feel love and happiness daily without having to change anything externally!  Of course, it's nothing new. People have been practicing it for a few thousand years. Now I just need to commit to doing it myself every day...

Often at the end of a yoga class during our final relaxation (shavasana) I will lead the students through a guided loving kindness meditation. I do this because I have found this practice to have such a profound effect on my own life. Practicing loving kindness--even for a few minutes a day-- helps me to develop compassion for myself and to get out of a negative state of mind.

I'll give you a quick synopsis and then some links to read or listen to the meditation yourself:

First sit in a meditation seat or in any comfortable manner with a straight spine. Tune into your breath, feeling it go in and out. Notice what is happening in your body and mind, the sensations, the thoughts.

Then take your awareness to your heart center and feel the sensations there. Breathe some space into your chest. Picture yourself sitting (or lying) here. Picture what you're wearing and the position of your body and then say to yourself: May I be at peace. May I be happy. May I be free... (you can change these phrases to whatever feels right to you as long as you're cultivating loving kindness).

Notice any resistance, judgment or tension that arises and let it be. Allow yourself to open to the feelings of loving kindness. Let the feelings wash over you.

Then begin to extend the thoughts of loving kindness toward other beings-- allowing a mental picture of the person/people/beings to arise first. Repeat the phrases for each being or group of beings
...May they be happy. May they be at peace. May they be free.
Start with someone that you love dearly and move onto someone who challenges you. Next extend this loving kindness to people that you don't know, allowing the group to grow until it encompasses all sentient beings. 

Be sure to repeat the phrases at each step and give time to allow yourself to open, and allow the feelings to wash over you. 

After extending loving kindness to all beings, I like to bring it back in to your own heart. Again, picture yourself and end with repeating the phrases to yourself. May I be happy, May I be at peace, May I be free. 

If at any point you are doubting, resisting, scoffing, judging, etc., go back to the phrases. The loving kindness will come eventually, even if you're not feeling it.

After all, as zen teacher, Cheri Huber says, What You Practice is What You Have.

May we all be happy. May we be at peace. May we be free. 

peace out.

Loving Kindness script by teacher Stephen Levine
script from Wisdom Heart.org
Guided loving kindness meditation--mp3 (there are a lot on the interwebs, this is just one example)

illustration source


Laugh out loud

I'm taking suggestions, dear readers. I know that most blogs give out recommendations, but I'm reverse blogging and here to collect your wisdom.

Here's the deal: with adrenal burnout I can only watch, listen to or read funny things. Seriously!

Anything with suspense, sadness, violence, etc... shoots up my cortisol levels and my adrenals can't handle it. Intense dreams, insomnia, heart palpitations--I'm a basket case*. Ridiculous, I know, but it is what it is.

As long as I can remember I've been a sensitive type (with a special talent for turning red or crying in the most inopportune situations). Regardless, I've always loved dramas, painfully real (or fatastically unreal) films, even some violence (of the Kill Bill type), action,  you name it, if it is written well, I probably loved it.

But now is the time in my life for comedy.

Here are some parameters for your suggestion: I only have a computer-- no TV-- but I can watch shows on hulu or netflix (or rent dvds). I already watch a few shows such as The Office, New Girl, Parks & Recreation, The Daily Show and Colbert Report... SNL clips, Louis CK. I'll also listen to podcasts.

I need more! especially books-- the books don't have to be pure comedy (although I love David Sedaris). I did mostly ok with the Ya Ya Sisterhood recently (but had to put it down for a while when it got intense and had nightmares all night--crazy).

I'm a voracious reader,  so load me up, please!

*my mom's phrase-- often used to describe me as a child-- what does that even mean?


Know what you're eating: Yes on '37' not just for Californians

Fortunately I've been able to avoid the majority of ridiculous campaign ads this voting season. However, about a month ago the ads began to show up on Hulu.com and I was horrified as I watched the blatant lies told in the 'No on 37' ads for California.

Even if you're not a voter from Cali this proposition is landmark. A 'yes' on 37 means that food with genetically modified (GM) ingredients will be labeled. That's it.  It's not proposing any sort of ban on GM foods. Proposition 37 is landmark because it puts the power of information and choice in the hands of the consumer.

61 countries already require GM labels on their foods! The EU has been labeling since 1997 and the UK since 1999. Monsanto (major producer of GM seeds and herbicides) actually supported the labeling of GM foods and the consumer's 'right to know' in the UK during the 90s.

Yet when it comes to the labeling of GM foods in California, Monsanto has contributed $8.1 million to the 'no' campaign. DuPont has contributed $5.4 million. $1 million/day has been spent on 'no' ads in the last month.

Lies and misrepresentations abound in the ads-- everything from stating that research on cost increase due to labeling was conducted by a Stanford scientist to untruths about incentives for lawsuits with the passing of the proposition. (By the way there is no reason to believe that a slight label change would increase cost for consumers.)

Before having my second baby (almost 2 years ago now) I taught 12th grade environmental science. We spent a lot of time doing projects around food and the environmental impacts of our food system-- including GM foods. After researching the pros and cons of using GM crops, students often took a stance 'for' or 'against' them-- or they felt like more research was needed to make a decision.

However, one area on which  almost all students agreed was the negative social impacts of multinational corporations (especially Monsanto) patenting GM seeds and subsequently suing small farmers when Monsanto GM seeds blew into their fields and mixed with their crops. They felt compassion (most of them did anyway) for the small farmers in the U.S. and in developing countries   who became dependent and in debt because Monsanto controlled their seeds and therefore their food system.

But that's a discussion for another day-- that last part may not be too clear-- but I'm pressed for time because my son is up from nap and the vote is tomorrow!

Bottom line: a 'yes' on 37 is a vote for people's right to know what they are eating and feeding their families. It won't cost you a thing.

More sources (also see links in article):
Opinion article well researched
The Atlantic 

I'll add more to this later...or a new post with more sources


Crash and Burn-- the silver lining: tales of a burnt-out mama

Sunday in the backyard chatting with our friends across the fence. This is nice.
My brain has clicked into  screen saver mode
My eyes too heavy to open, yet too jittery to stay closed
My neck and shoulders are actually made of rock.

Despite my intent to use the least amount of effort possible this past week, here I am on Sunday in the midst of a full adrenal crash most likely due to eating something with actual sugar, a miniscule amount of gluten and drinking some wine. Seriously.

But I definitely don't want to whine, so this post is going to be about the good parts of adrenal burnout. Yes, the good parts.

Here it goes-- top ten eleven in no specific order:
  1.  I'm completely off the hook when it comes to doing dishes. Jason does almost all of them.
  2.  In the summer I was crashing once a week, now it only happens every couple of weeks! (this is a good sign of healing)
  3.  I'm eating a super clean diet. I've done this for a while-- but now it's new & improved, ultra clean and that's got to be good for me beyond the adrenal thing.
  4. I can now blame all of my insanities on heavy metal toxicity. (you could too-- check this out)
  5. When I feel good, I feel REALLY good. In fact, I have a whole new appreciation for feeling good.
  6. I also have an incredible tolerance for feeling bad.
  7. Having a tiny bite of fruit practically gives my taste buds an orgasm.
  8. I give myself permission to say 'no' to anything I don't want to do and I don't feel guilty about it.
  9. Even though most people have no clue what is going on with me, my husband and a few of my friends understand and support me completely. 
  10. I know that I will heal and that I will finally be able to deal well with stress (something I've struggled with for at least 32 years) and avoid disease. 
  11. Did I mention that I have managed to almost let go of having a clean house? and that Jason does the dishes?
Ahhhh, that feels better. Thanks for listening.  xo


Saturday in Photos

Our Dia de los Muertos altar

Odin on the altar

Not S &M (although one of my yoga students calls this fabulous restorative pose "butterfly bondage").
Birthday dinner for my father-in-law at V Bistro & Bar. Awesome guy mixing it up on the sax & drums.


Searching for home: Autumn California days.

October has become a hard month for me since my mom died five years ago. Even the amazing weather of California with its blue skies and bright sunlight doesn't always take away the emotional edge (although--I'll admit--the sunshine definitely helps).

I miss the vibrant colors of New England Autumn-- where entire landscapes are dripping with the saturated hues of red, orange and gold. Out here, you just have to look a bit harder and appreciate the small pockets of color.

Oh, California. With your progress and your new ideas. I do love you.

I'm still a stranger here, although I've been a resident for nearly 12 years. I love it dearly, yet I still feel like I'm missing a part of me--living so far from where I grew up.

I wonder where my little family will settle.

 I love to move around and see new places, but I also yearn for a sense of belonging where I live. I've always loved any place I've lived (and I've lived a lot of places). I guess I'm naturally curious and adventurous--but how do I choose the place to settle down?

How about you? Do you feel settled where you call home? How do you know? Please do tell.... share your wisdom.


Savers. Saving as best we can, moment to moment.

Halloween happened. We moved out of last year's Halloween central house so the pressure was off! No need to create a crazy elaborate display for a thousand (or so) trick-or-treaters. No need to create complicated costumes using supplies and methods I'd never heard of. Oh yes, I'll admit it; I enjoyed every minute of the prep last year. It was a welcome distraction for a typically tough month for me.

But this year was different. I've surrendered to adrenal burnout and begun the healing process.

As I unpacked the Halloween and Dia de los Muertos decorations (yes, I'm now actually one of those people that has a box just for this particular holiday). I was impressed and surprised to find all of the handmade items I slaved over last year. No wonder I'm burnt out! It was such a clear representation of how the past 30 years or so have set me up for where I am today.*

I smiled. I laughed out loud.  If there were only one thing I could 'teach' (or model for) my boys, it would be the ability to laugh at myself.

"Lighten up!" my mom & dad told me this a lot.... but it took me a long time to learn how to do it. I'm not sure you can teach someone how to do this-- except by modeling it yourself.

I still managed some homemade costumes- but they were simple.  I still baked preschool treats twice because (as usual) I tried a new recipe and made my own substitutions which didn't work and found myself baking an emergency 2 dozen cookies the morning they were due at school.

Would a normal person run to the store for some gluten-free, nut-free cookies that would be acceptable? Perhaps. Was it that big of deal to bake up the cookies last minute? Not so much. As Jason said, "You could just bring nothing." Could I? After all, I did sign up to bring something. *sigh*

So here we are. Full circle. It's November again and time for Nablopomo (National blog posting month). That's right. The month that I post every day just for the hell of it. Just because I want to. I'm not sure that I'll pull it off and I'm not going to put pressure on myself (really, I'm not), but writing is fun for me. It's alone time, it's processing time. Sharing these thoughts with you and reading some of your thoughts (and blogs) adds extra love and richness to my day.

So thanks for being here. ;)

*secretly: I was also proud of myself for making all of that stuff last year.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...