Primal Pumpkin Cheesecake

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  I definitely did, and mine was complete with homemade pumpkin cheesecake.  I will warn you, this recipe contains CREAM CHEESE.  Therefore, it is NOT paleo….technically it’s primal.  However, I always say that there’s no paleo substitute (at least that I have found yet) that mimics pizza or cheesecake.  Once a year, this is a huge treat for me, and I can thank my mom for going to all the trouble.  Cheesecake can be kind of complicated to make, so I would never take the time myself.

She adapted her original vanilla cheesecake recipe that I posted years ago to a pumpkin version to fulfill all my pumpkin desires.😉 This cheesecake is not overly sweet, which is how I like it.  However, if you wanted a little more sweetness, making some homemade coconut whip to go over the top would be a wonderful addition.  I am all about tasting the delicious pumpkin pie spices and having that unmistakable creamy texture.  If you wanted it to be super cheesecake-like with a hint of pumpkin, you could decrease the amount of pumpkin or maybe do a cheesecake layer followed by a pumpkin layer on top.  Experiment to your hearts desire….and get it just the way you like it before Christmas!

In addition to my mom’s amazing pumpkin cheesecake, we had bacon Brussels sprouts, organic mashed potatoes, a baked ham that I paired with a mango chutney, and a couple nostalgic requests from my brother.  I told my mom she should try and doctor them to make them a little healthier and see how they turn out, but it’s hard to mess with something when people wait all year to have it exactly how they remember. ;)  I didn’t have any, but I certainly had enough of the other good stuff!




Pumpkin Cheesecake

1/2 cup almond meal

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1/2 stick grassfed butter

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or plain ole cinnamon would work, too)


3 packages of organic cream cheese (1 1/2 lbs)

1 15oz can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp tapioca flour

2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

4 eggs


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place all your crust ingredients into a food processor and blend until they begin to meld.  Press the crust onto the bottom of a springform pan and bake for 8 minutes.  (If you like a lot of crust, you could easily double it!)

Beat the cream cheese until smooth and then add the rest of the ingredients one by one in the order listed (eggs have to be last to ensure the cheesecake doesn’t crack, although it’s still edible if it does!). Pour over crust and place the pan in a water bath.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Then turn the oven off and leave it in for another hour.  Cool slowly.

Sugared Figs and Feta

Figs aren’t around all the time around here!  This could be a perfect appetitzer or dessert for any foodie.  Sweet and salty is my jam, and this fits the bill!
Figs and Feta
fresh figs, halved lengthwise
feta crumbles
coconut sugar
Place the figs, inside up in a pan, and sprinkle with a little coconut sugar.  Broil in the oven for 4 minutes and remove.  Sprinkle with feta and enjoy!

Pineapple Whip (3 ingredients)…Plus Protein

I’ve posted about ice cream made out of frozen bananas before, but I had never seen it made out of frozen pineapple until recently!  Apparently this is something they serve at Disney Land?  I wouldn’t know.  Anyway, I wanted to stay pure to the simplicity but add a little protein to it.  I used full fat coconut milk as the liquid to make sure there was a decent fat ratio, as well.  Feel free to do whatever you’d like to this recipe!  Top with toasted coconut, add protein powder as a post workout recovery, or add spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and chili powder!
Pineapple Whip
1 pineapple, cup into chunks and frozen
1 cup of full fat coconut milk
2 Tbsp collagen (Great Lakes green label)
Add it all to a high speed blender and go until it turns smooth and mimics soft serve ice cream!

Peach Donuts w/Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

While in Austin, I went to a donut food truck and ordered a donut called “Son of a Peach.” It was basically a donut with cinnamon, sugar, and peach filling.  However, I couldn’t even come close to finishing it because it was a sugar bomb!  When I say sugar bomb, I mean, tastes so good for the first 3 bites and then you start making pained faces because you don’t think you can finish it without a stomach ache!  It was the largest donut I’ve ever seen, slathered in the most cream cheese I’ve ever seen.  There were some ladies around that looked at me and said “Is that a donut?!  You enjoy every bit of that.”  After a little more conversation, they also said “We won’t tell your patients; its ok.” How did I answer?
Oh no, that’s ok.  I WILL TELL THEM!
I always eat a few things I normally wouldn’t when I am in new cities to gain flavor inspiration for the blog.  I’m sad to say that this donut didn’t live up to my expectations.  I was hoping for some peach!  I couldn’t taste the peach at all.  So, when I decided to redo this donut, I knew I wanted to add some brightness with lemon, and some freshness with FRESH peaches.
Peaches are on the dirty dozen, so make sure you buy organic to avoid pesticide exposure.  They are in season now, although sometimes they can be difficult to find.  I found some on sale at Whole Foods.
If you don’t have a donut pan, you can make these into muffins.
Peach Donuts
2 organic peaches, chop 1 1/2 of them but thinly slice the remaining 1/2 peach to top the donuts
1 3/4 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup local honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350F. In the food processor, puree 1/2 cup of chopped peaches and then add the other ingredients and mix well.  Once mixed, pulse in the remaining chopped peaches until evenly distributed.  Pour the batter into a donut pan or a muffin pan that has been greased. Bake for 20 minutes or until the donut springs back when touched or 30 minutes for muffins.
Top with cream cheese frosting which I just threw together with 1 block of room temp cream cheese, a healthy dollop of honey, a few Tbsp of coconut sugar, a splash of coconut milk, zest of one lemon, and the juice of half that lemon.  Whip until slightly fluffy and well mixed.  Put on cool donuts and top with sliced peaches.

PB and Macadamia Nut Cookies (gluten free, dairy free)

I recently had a friend that had to have surgery for an athletic injury, and I felt so bad for him that I said “I feel like I should make you dessert or something.  What do you like?  He said “Cookies, peanut butter macadamia nut are my favorite.”
Well, I don’t normally eat peanut butter because it is a legume.  It also tends to have mold considerations.  However, when someone says peanut butter, they expect peanut butter. There are substitutes that come close, but nothing tastes EXACTLY like peanut butter.  So, if you don’t eat peanut butter, you could easily substitute sunbutter or any nut butter instead.
This recipe is one I used to make all the time when I was getting my doctorate, and what I loved about it was it was simple, the texture is moist, and it’s quick. Since I used a natural peanut butter (and if you sub nuttbutter), I refrigerated the dough for an hour before baking just to make sure they wouldn’t spread too much, but if you’re impatient, go ahead and live on the edge.
PB and Macadamia Nut Cookies
1 cup natural peanut butter, oil stirred in
1 egg
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all the ingredients together until a dough forms.  If it seems really wet and sticky, place in the fridge for an hour before baking.  Once cold, scoop little balls onto the baking sheet (golf balls or so).  Bake for 6 minutes, then press the dough down with a fork and bake for another 2-4 minutes.  I like mine moist and doughy, so I say bake less.  If you want it more dry and crumby, bake more.

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding (bourbon optional)

Growing up, I definitely got down with some pudding snacks!  I never really liked vanilla, but I know I liked chocolate, chocolate/vanilla swirl, and ……butterscotch!  I haven’t had pudding in years because I don’t eat processed foods and pudding often has dairy in it.  If you are a person who avoids dairy, you are going to love me right now.  I wanted to kick it up a notch and make it a little more “adult indulgent,” but feel free to leave the bourbon out to let the kiddos enjoy some homemade pudding!  If you have a crowd coming or a big family, consider doubling this recipe!  It is great as a quick dessert on its own, but it would be great as the filling in a tart, or a layer in a trifle.
Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding
1 can full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp of arrowroot or tapioca starch
splash of bourbon (optional)
In a nonstick, medium sized, pan, whisk together the sugar, salt, and arrowroot.  In a separate dish, whisk together coconut milk, yolks, and bourbon.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients on the stove and turn burner to medium heat to cook. Stir while heating until it starts to bubble slightly and thickens to a pudding consistency.  Take off the heat and stir in the butter.  Put in the fridge to cool.  Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate

I love a good cup of hot chocolate, but ever since I quit consuming dairy, there really hasn’t been a good substitute for the milk.  Until now….
I have seen cashew milk in the stores, but since I don’t eat cereal, drink glasses of milk, and use coconut milk for everything, I’ve never seen the need to buy it.  I decided to try it out one day and made some amazing things including hot chocolate!  It is creamy and sort of nutty.  Kind of like hazelnut creamer if I had to describe it?
Hot Chocolate
8 oz cashew milk, heated up
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
Sitr until combined and enjoy!

Primal Ooey Gooey Cake

I have a really good friend that moved to St. Louis years ago and has never moved back! I go visit her every year, and she always comes home for the holidays.  However, babies change everything!  She wasn’t able to come home over Thanksgiving like usual and I didn’t get down to see her because of my teaching schedule.  So, what do you do when you miss your friend?!  Make food that reminds you of the person, of course!  They have a brewery down in St. Louis called “Schlafly” and she would always bring me home a 6 pack of their coffee stout after returning from her travels abroad.  They carry that stout now at Chalet!  Just my luck!  She would also bring back a St. Louis gooey butter cake.  The cake that I remember has a thinner crust, but this cake is a marriage of that St. Louis gooey butter cake and my family recipe for ooey gooey cake.  This is indulgent to say the least.  Butter, Sugar, Cream Cheese, need I say more?  You can miss people, but having things that remind you of them makes it okay. ;)
Ooey Gooey Cake
1 cup of butter, at room temp
1 cup coconut sugar
3 eggs, at room temp
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
zest from 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 375F. Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at time until combined.  Add the coconut milk and vanilla.  Slowly add the almond flour, tapioca, baking powder, and salt until combined.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and pour the batter into the dish.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375F, then turn the oven down to 350F and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean.
Make the cream cheese topping by whipping the cream cheese until slightly fluffed.  Add the honey and whip until creamy.  Add the vanilla until combined.  Fold in the lemon zest.
Once baked, allow the cake to cool slightly before adding the topping.
Allow the cake to cool before serving!

Lemon Cheesecake

Can you believe that I created this recipe months ago and totally forgot to share it?!  I’ve been busy that past 5 months to say the least!  I didn’t embrace lemon desserts in my younger years, but I have learned to not only embrace them, I LOVE LEMON DESSERT!  To me, its the perfect balance between bright and rich.  Since you all know how I feel about cheesecakes that don’t use cream cheese, you don’t have to ask why this dessert is “primal.”  This is one of my favorite cheesecake recipes I’ve ever come up with, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Lemon Cheesecake
Crust ingredients:
3/4 stick butter
2 1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
Filling ingredients:
3 blocks of cream cheese (Room Temp!)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp tapioca
zest from 2 lemons
3/4 cup honey
4 eggs
Mix all the crust ingredients together in the food processor, and press into a springform pan.  Bake for 10 mintues at 325F.
Place a dish with water on the bottom rack.
While the crust is cooling, whip the cream cheese until its creamy and smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients one at a time until it’s all combined and pour over the crust. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let it continue to sit in the oven for another hour. Get out of the oven and let cool to room temp before placing in the fridge to set and cool. Serve!

Orange Pistachio Cupcakes (grain-free, dairy-free)

Where do I start with this recipe?  Well, a couple months ago, I visited some friends in Charleston, and to say they have a huge food scene there is an understatement.  Whenever I go there, I try so many new restaurants, visit some favorites, and take advantage of all the food inspiration.  One of the places they have there that my friend loves so much is a donut shop called “glazed.”  One morning after church, she went by Glazed and picked up pretty much a donut of every flavor they had that day.  This is a huge deal because they only make so many and when they are sold out, they close for the day!  Orange pistachio was one of the donut flavors du jour, and for some reason, I couldn’t get enough of this flavor profile!  I don’t think grain-free donuts are very appetizing, so I really wanted to use a different kind of recipe that would capture the essence of how orange and pistachio go together pretty perfectly.  I love a basic cupcake to play with flavors and it was a perfect vehicle to share this blissful Glazed flavor profile.
Orange Pistachio Cupcakes
2/3 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
8 eggs
1/4 cup fresh pressed orange juice
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
zest from 1 orange (organic)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
Preheat oven to 350F.  Put silicone cupcake liners into your muffin pan.  Use a mixer to mix together all the ingredients except the melted butter and pistachios.  As you are mixing, pour in the melted butter until incorporated. Then fold in the pistachios. Place the batter into 12 muffin tins.  Bake for 22 minutes and cool completely before icing.  For my frosting, I used a basic frosting and added more orange zest. Then I topped the cupcake with more chopped pistachios.