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Caramelized Carrot & Licorice Root Soup

When Kelly of The Spunky Coconut sent out an invite to contribute a recipe to her Our Spunky Holiday blog event my thoughts immediately turned to a chocolate dipped sweet confection of sorts.

Well, that was last week.

This week our doctor advised that my little guy go back on the Candida/Yeast-Free to bring the yeast overgrowth in his gut under control. For those unfamiliar with this diet, it means the avoidance of all forms of glucose and fructose and a lot whole more—basically anything that yeast feeds on (sugars, refined carbohydrates, mold, yeast, vinegar ... and the list goes on). Not easy, but worth it. I am working on a post that goes into more detail, so stay tuned.

So, hmph, no sugar this Easter. I had to toss the idea of a sweet treat out the window and decided to contribute a recipe for a Caramelized Carrot & Licorice Root Soup (he is allowed one serving of a starchy vegetable a day, phew!). Something Mr. Easter Bunny might enjoy.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from a soup I sampled at last year's International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. The authors of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking were serving up Caramelized Carrot Soup with Young Ginger, Licorice Root and Carotene Butter.

Caramelized Carrot Soup with Young Ginger, Licorice Root and Carotene ButterThe flavors were pleasantly complex—carrot, ginger, licorice. It was so memorable that I set out to make something similar. To the version I came up with, I added a hint of cinnamon and topped it with a tart Lemon Coconut Cream. The cream really finished it! It's a bright and refreshing starter—the perfect soup to usher in Spring!

Oh, and if you are skeptical as to whether your little person would enjoy it? Well here's my little guy licking it right off the lid of the blender : )

Caramelized Carrot & Licorice Root Soup

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | ACD

Serves: 2-4 (makes 4 cups)
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook & Chill Time: About 2 hours


2 teaspoons LICORICE ROOT
2 tablespoons virgin COCONUT OIL
8 medium CARROTS, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1/2 teaspoon SALT
2 teaspoons GINGER ROOT, very finely minced
2 cups WATER
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh LEMON JUICE


Add licorice root and cinnamon stick to the one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep 15-20 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid.

In a large fry pan, saute carrots and salt in oil over low heat. Saute, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender and have a hint of golden brown.

Once "caramelized", allow carrots to cool 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a high-powered blender along with licorice/cinnamon liquid, ginger, two cups water and lemon juice. Blend on medium-high until super smooth. Add water as needed to adjust to desired consistency.

Ladle into bowls and drizzle with Lemon Coconut Cream (recipe below).

Lemon Coconut Cream

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  2 minutes


1/2 cup COCONUT MILK, full-fat Thai Kitchen® brand is recommended
2 teaspoons LEMON JUICE
4 drops NuNaturals® Vanilla LIQUID STEVIA or 2 teaspoons runny honey


Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.

More About Licorice Root

Visit Elana's Pantry for more on The Healing Properties of Licorice Root
Some should avoid licorice. Read about it here.
Licorice Root Tea
recipe for colds, flu and adrenal health over at Nourishing Days


Indiana Jones Lego Cake

My little man has it good. He has a mamma who is a Martha Stewart wanna be. This means she'll plan out, shop for and spend hours baking and decorating the "perfect" birthday cake. And, you know what, regardless whether it turns out "perfect" or not, he loves his cakes and thinks his mom rocks (yes, that's my ulterior motive)! With each birthday and each cake he has taught me the much-needed lesson of "let it go, mom, it's good enough"

This week W.C. is celebrating his 5th birthday. And this year, I finally "let go" and let him help make the cake and toppers—and you know what, the memory of it all is already more meaningful.

Here is the finished product. I'll admit this cake doesn't fit into our everyday diet, but once a year, I let go and loosen up a bit. It is, however, gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free.

Here is what I used:

Bottom Cake
Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (using 3 flax eggs and EarthBalance buttery spread) ... definitely NOT sugar-free : )

Top Cake
Half a batch of Elana's Pantry's Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes batter (baked in a 5"-round springform pan). The recipe is in her soon-to-release Gluten-Free Cupcakes cookbook.

A buttercream concoction of coconut oil, Earthbalance buttery spread, palm oil, vanilla and honey. I don't know the measurements, I just threw it all together and lightly tinted with India Tree natural vegetable colorants.

Indiana Jones-Themed Toppers
Store-bought white fondant (warning: sugar and I believe corn-syrup laden!) colored with some fake and some India Tree natural vegetable colorants. We do not eat the fondant. I tell the kids it's just for decoration : )

Now I'd better go wrap those presents (you guessed it, Legos) and wish my "bright and shiny" a happy birthday.

Oh and cool trick. I'm pretty frugal and didn't want to hunt down and spend money on a Lego mold. So my friend Hannah and I made the blocks and pressed Legos into them. The effect was good enough!


Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce | Vegan, Dairy-Free

People have been making cashew "cheese" for some time. A Google search will turn up over two million results! Needless to say, the recipe I am sharing has many variations.

What I've found surprising in our transition from pre-packaged and processed to homemade and healthier foods are the tasty replacements available. For example, I would gobble down half a pan of Betty Crocker® brownies (my mom the other half). Today, I make brownies from scratch using ingredients like dates, almond butter and coconut flour. They taste much better and are more satisfying. So it is with this Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce. Use it as a dip, a spread, over nachos, in lasagna—add it to any food or dish that needs a little cheesy love!

Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free |Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-Free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw

Serves:  Makes approximately 1-1/4 cups
Active Time:  5 minutes
Soak Time: 2-4 hours


1 cup raw CASHEW NUTS
1/4-1/2 cup chopped RED BELL PEPPER
2 tablespoons cold-pressed OLIVE OIL
2 tablespoons WATER
1-1/2 tablespoons LEMON JUICE
1/2 teaspoon SEA SALT (then adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon ONION POWDER
1/4 teaspoon TURMERIC


Soak cashews in water 2-4 hours, rinse and drain.

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend on high until super smooth, scraping sides as needed. You may add additional water, one tablespoonful at a time, to adjust consistency to your liking.


Start with 1/4 cup bell pepper and add more as needed to achieve desired color. Less = yellow cheese, More = slightly more orange-colored cheese.

A high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vita-Mix will yield optimal results.


Have You Met Carol?

Carol Kicinski's Gluten Free Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes

Thank you Sea, of Book of Yum, for hosting the tasty Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger monthly blog event! This month I have adopted Carol of Simply Gluten-Free.

If you eat gluten-free or spend time perusing gluten-free food blogs, I'm quite certain you've been introduced to Carol Kicinski. Carol is the talented baker and chef behind the inspiring blog Simply Gluten-Free. Her mouth-watering food photography draws me in—like a deer caught in the headlights. And that's what happened when I saw these Gluten Free Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes. I had to have 'em!

Carol's cupcakes call for "granulated sugar." Since Sucanat® (essentially unrefined dried sugar cane juice) was the closest thing I had on hand, I added the extra step of whizzing the Sucanat in my blender to achieve a lighter, powdery sugar. [See my post on making Unrefined Powdered Sugar.] I think that this step helped ensure the structure of the cupcake and suggest it if the sugar you are using is of the large crystal variety. The other thing about Sucanat is that it's darker in color. When mixed with chocolate, the color is no different. On the other hand, in a light-colored icing, you can see a difference. Hence the reason for my icing being caramel in color compared to Carol's being dreamy and white.

Carol's book due out this month!I rarely use the word "scarf" because the visual of me "scarfing" is not one I like to evoke in peoples' minds ... but folks, I scarfed these down—like a little piggy. Holy sweetness, were they good! After dinner I fed one (the one left) to my husband. For a moment he was speechless, then exclaimed "I haven't had something like this in years!" I'd say this family of four gives Carol's cupcakes 8 thumbs up!

If you want to indulge in more of Carol's gluten-free treats, how about pre-ordering her new cookbook Simply...Gluten-Free Desserts. It's due for release later this month. Congratulations Carol!!



Egg-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Decadence

Chocolate Decadence | A rich chocolate treat that's gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free!

In honor of two anniversaries—a 10th wedding anniversary and the one-year anniversary of this blog—I share with you a special recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and grain-free Chocolate Decadence.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Torte, Chocolate Decadence—the three are closely related. Traditionally these dense, fudgy “cakes” call for hefty measures of cocoa, eggs, refined sugar, butter and/or cream. It’s no wonder this sweet also goes by the name [evil laugh] “Death by Chocolate.”

It was one of those “I gotta have chocolate!” days that inspired this lighter version of Chocolate Decadence. Throwing all caution to the wind (or into the blender), I began mixing chocolate chips, black beans, cashews and a bit of coconut flour. The result was delightful. The little “cake” rose to perfection and then fell (as these desserts do) as it cooled. It's a treat with a slightly crisp top and sides and a super dense, rich and fudge-like interior. Mmmm. This one's a keeper, and it's so EASY!

Chocolate Decadence on the lighter side garnished with Chili Pepper Chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Decadence

Serves:  4-6 (makes one 5" round cake)
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  35-40 minutes
Equipment:  A high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vita-Mix is highly recommended


2 tablespoons virgin COCONUT OIL
1/2 cup Enjoy Life® CHOCOLATE CHIPS
1/2 cup plain, unsalted cooked BLACK BEANS, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup raw CASHEWS, soaked 4-6 hours, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup WATER
3 tablespoons runny HONEY or AGAVE
3 tablespoons dark COCOA POWDER
2 tablespoons COCONUT FLOUR
3/4 teaspoon BAKING POWDER


Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Oil bottom and sides of one 5-6" round springform cake pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder.

Combine and gently heat coconut oil and chocolate chips just to soften.

Transfer chocolate chip mixture (it should not be hot) to a high-powered blender. Add remaining ingredients, except for baking powder, to blender. Blend on medium-high until super smooth. Add baking powder and blend on low 5-10 seconds or until just incorporated.

Immediately pour mixture into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Remove cake from oven and transfer to refrigerator to chill 4-6 hours. Run knife around edge of cake before removing from pan. Serve cold. Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired.


1. Enjoy Life® Chocolate Chips are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free.

2. This cake is best kept refrigerated and served chilled.

3. No time to soak the cashews? Soften in very hot water for 10 minutes.

4. Expect the "cake" to rise during baking and fall during cooling. This is to be expected.

5. If your blender is not "high-powered" and you are determined to make this cake. Try pureeing the beans, cashews and the liquid first, then proceeding with the other ingredients.