Category: lifestyle

Pumpkin Cheesecake \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy-free dreams come true with this cheesecake. My husband Nick is a cheesecake guy. It is his favorite dessert, and if he is craving a really special treat, cheesecake is usually at the top of his list. When we changed our lifestyle to be grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, I needed to figure out an alternative to the classic dessert, and one that Nick would love just as much as the dairy and sugar full version. After lots of testing, I came up with this recipe. And as a little teaser, the Sweet Laurel Cookbook has a delicious version of this recipe, Creamy Cheesecake, which I’m excited to share with you when it comes out April 3. But for now, here’s my pumpkin spice and everything nice version!

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Yields 1 Cheesecake


To make the crust:


Ingredients:

2 cups pecans or almonds, or nut flour

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare a springform pan by lining the base with parchment paper and greasing the sides with coconut oil.

In a food processor, blend the nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt. Press into the base of a springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool while you prepare your filling.


To make the cheesecake filling:


Ingredients:

1 cup coconut yogurt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons date paste, or 3 pitted dates

3/4 cup pumpkin

2 eggs

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Directions:

In a blender, pulse the coconut yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin, and date paste together until mixture is congealed. Pour into a bowl, and beat coconut yogurt mixture with eggs using a hand whisk or stand mixer. Slowly add arrowroot powder, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and spices. Mix until batter is well incorporated.

Pour into cooled pie crust and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

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Pumpkin Nut Milk \\ Sweet Laurel

Did someone say dairy-free and delicious? Our Sweet Laurel pumpkin nut milk is the best way to usher in the holidays, and the closest thing to a healthy, vegan egg nog we’ve ever tasted. It’s no surprise that most menus this time of year are filled with less than healthy ingredients. Luckily, we’ve nailed down a recipe that will satisfy your seasonal beverage cravings with a little bit of that pumpkin spice we all know and love. Thick, creamy and delightful in a festive way, look forward to love at first sip when you dive into this homemade pumpkin nut milk. Keep scrolling to see just how simple this recipe is to recreate in your own kitchen…

Make sure to check out 12 other flavors we made with almond milk!

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Pumpkin Nut Milk

Dairy Free, Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo

Yields 6 cups of milk


Ingredients:

2 cups almonds, cashews or pecans*

6 cups filtered water, divided

4 dates, pitted

1/2 cup cooked and pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Pinch salt


Directions:

Place nuts in a large bowl and soak in 4 cups of filtered water. For almonds and pecans, soak for 6-7 hours. For cashews, soak for at least two hours. After soaking time is up, empty soaking liquid from the bowl.

Place nuts in a large bowl and soak in 4 cups of filtered water. For almonds and pecans, soak for 6-7 hours. For cashews, soak for at least two hours. After soaking time is up, empty soaking liquid from the bowl.

Place soaked nuts in a high powered blender with remaining 4 cups of water, dates, pumpkin, squash or sweet potato, vanilla extract, and spices. Blend on high speed for 2-3 three minutes, until mixture is thoroughly puréed.

Set a bowl on the counter, then using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, strain puréed mixture into a bowl. Using both hands, squeeze the excess liquid from the nut milk bag or cheese cloth into the bowl.

Cover milk or place in an air-tight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

* if you are allergic to nuts, sub hemp seeds. No soaking is required, just place 2 cups of hemp seeds in 6 cups of water, and continue on with the recipe.

Baby’s First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

I’ve been doing lots of research over the past few months in order to prepare for Nico’s transition into eating solid food. Nico is still about 98% breastmilk fed. He hasn’t been super into solids, but to me, that’s ok because I love nursing him! I’ve read a few books on the topic and consulted with my nutritionist, Margaret Floyd. I love her approach as it is filled with nutrient-dense, real food and also very practical. Margaret maneuvered through my autoimmune disease and has successfully helped me with the daunting task of introducing my Nico to solid foods

One of the first foods she recommends is bone broth. Bone broth, considered around the world as a health tonic, has been used for centuries as a healing food. As real food expert Nina Planck has stated, “it is digestible, nutritious and tasty. Broth is perfect for babies (Real Food for Mother and Babies, 2009).”

I adapted this recipe from my nutritionist Margaret’s original recipe. Margaret wrote her basic approach to introducing solid food here, and why bone broth is a great choice for babies!  Read up on it, and then cook up a pot of bone broth for you or baby!

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby’s First Bone Broth


 

Ingredients:

chicken bones, including the ligaments and joints (be sure to use bones from organic, pastured raised chickens)

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

filtered water


 

Directions:

Put the bones, vinegar, and salt into the stock pot. Cover with filtered water.

Bring to a boil and skim any foam off the top. The foam is just any impurities coming out of the bones. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Reduce the heat on your stove to the lowest possible and gently simmer your broth for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours. The rule of thumb is the bigger the bones, the longer you need to simmer your broth. Make sure not to cook the broth at too high a temperature! It will denature some of the proteins and create natural MSG. We put the stove at the lowest temperature and just leave it for a couple of days.Strain out the bones and veggies, and either use

Strain out the bones and veggies, then either use immediately or store in a big glass jar in your fridge. It can last for a week.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Fall in a dish! Here’s our take on a classic roasted butternut squash. As you know, we like to keep it simple at Sweet Laurel, and here we let the flavors of the butternut squash shine amongst delicious cashew creme, pomegranate seeds and a dash of fresh parsley.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate


 

Ingredients:

1-2 butternut squash

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1/2 cup pomegranate

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Chopped parsley for garnish


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Place cashews in a bowl with 2 cups of filtered water. Set in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to soak.

Prepare butternut squash by washing the outside, cutting them in half and de-seeding. Lightly salt the squashes with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Rub the flesh of the squash with coconut oil. Optional: you can add cinnamon & maple syrup here for added flavor. 

Place butternut squash cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 1 hour, then remove pan from oven and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile, finish the cashew creme. After the cashews have soaked for about an hour, remove the cashews from the refrigerator. Pour the cashews into a high-speed blender or food processor, but do not toss the liquid just yet. You may need this during the processing. Combine the coconut milk, lemon and remaining salt in the blender. Blend the cashew creme on full speed until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of the soaking liquid, blending until desired consistency is reached. Pour the cashew creme into a container and store in refrigerator until serving time.

To serve, place butternut squash cut side up on plate. Drizzle cashew creme over squash, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Enjoy!

The First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

The last seven months have been an absolute joy! Nico is a bright light in our lives and a constant reminder of the goodness and love new life brings. I wanted to share a bit about my recent transition from life as a wife and business owner into life as a new mom, wife, and business owner, and the balancing act therein.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Here’s a fun little background story: When my husband was a little boy, he told his mom she had an easy job. She was a stay at home mom with three boys, all close in age. Although she was slightly offended by Nick’s comment, she knew he would see for himself in the years to come. Boy, has he! We have now both witnessed the time and commitment babies bring.

If I’ve learned one thing during this journey, it is balance. Being a parent is a full-time job. I respect all of you who are participating in this noble duty. Add in the day job, and that’s another story. If I want to enjoy being a mother and a good partner to my husband while running a business, I’m learning that I need to seek balance every day in my life. My mentor once told me, ‘Balance does not come in a day, but over time.’ If Nick and I make daily choices to support a more balanced approach to life, we will eventually be in a beautifully balanced life.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Although days are filled with baby, meetings, house chores, emails and lots of baking for Sweet Laurel, I try to do at least one thing every day that’s for pure joy. For me, these activities include going for a walk, taking a yoga class or going in a sauna. I also get a lot of joy out of making dinner for my husband and I, which is a daily priority. I know this about myself and have learned to schedule my day accordingly. Obviously, there are days when this just can’t happen because of schedules, etc., but like I said, we strive for balance over time.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Nico has reminded me to stop and enjoy moments. When I am working at home and he is crawling around laughing at random things in the house, occasionally I will drop everything and just hang out with him for a bit. After all, he’s only going to be a precious baby for so long. I wanted to share these gorgeous family photos by my talented friend Elsie Dardon. She’s helping Nick and I document life with our Sweet Nico.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Enjoy these photos, and feel free to give me some advice about the motherhood balancing act or share your stories with me!

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Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Beautycounter is my go-to for all things safe beauty. I don’t wear a ton of make up, but when I do, everything I wear is from Beautycounter.  I am happy to say Beautycounter is a company we’ve worked with regularly at Sweet Laurel. They have partnered with us at events, hosted workshops with us and shared our recipes!

I trust their products, and can confidently wear them without worrying about toxic chemicals seeping through my pores. Recently, I’ve re-thought everything I put on my face and body because I’ve been pregnant and breastfeeding for the past year. Make up and beauty products tend to have ingredients that are highly toxic, and unfortunately the United States does not monitor what companies put into their products. For example, the European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals from use in beauty products. That means beauty and make up products are far safer in Europe then in America! Fortunately, Beautycounter has come to the scene here in the states. Their goal is to create beauty products that are safe to use, sans chemicals, with high quality, long lasting appeal. As you can see, I love Beautycounter and what they stand for.

I was overjoyed last year when I discovered Beautycounter launched a baby line! I got my hands on a couple of their products, and have already used them on Nico! Nico has sensitive skin, so I’m super careful with what I use for soap, lotion, etc. Fortunately, the products have worked great for Nico, and we both love using them!

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

I highly recommend the diaper rash cream and gentle all over wash. They also have this roomy diaper bag! I don’t know about you, but for me, I always need more room in my diaper bag. This one sure does the trick!

Something else I love about Beautycounter is how spot on their packaging is. Always simple, chic and beautiful. They nailed it! I hope you are able to get your hands on Beautycounter soon! I know you (and your baby) will be glad you did. xo, Laurel

Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding \\ Sweet Laurel

 

 

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School is back in session, and it is time for a quick and easy breakfast classic. Our favorite chia seed pudding is simple and nutritious. We start with delicious and organic coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solid coconut fat that firm up at the top of canned coconut milk. You can find canned Coconut Cream at grocery stores now with higher percentages of fat, and lower percentages of coconut milk, yielding more creamy deliciousness. If you cannot find coconut cream, feel free to use good canned coconut milk, with no additives. Simply scoop the solids from the top of the can for your use in this recipe.

And back to the chia seed pudding… I said it was simple, and I mean it’s simple! We mix the coconut cream with chia, slightly mashed berries, raw honey and lemon juice to create a satisfying and delightful breakfast or even a special after dinner treat!

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Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream* (Lets Do Organic and Trader Joe’s both have delicious organic canned Coconut Creams)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries, lightly smashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients until well mixed. Pour into two 4 ounce glass jars and cover with lid. Store in fridge overnight. Serve with extra berries. Enjoy within 3 days.

* I always keep my coconut cream in the refrigerator. This is because I make a lot of coconut whipped cream and coconut yogurt. These recipes work better when the coconut is solid and not liquid. Refrigerating coconut milk causes the fat to rise to the top of the can and solidify.

What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

Acai Bowls \\ Sweet Laurel

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Acai Bowls for Two

Everyone loves a good acai bowl. Unfortunately, I’m usually quite disappointed when I order acai at restaurants because they’re usually WAY TOO SWEET for me, and loaded with  added sugar. I love making my own, because I get to control the sweet factor. These beautiful bowls are sweetened with frozen banana, and optional raw honey. Top your bowls with favorite fruits. Get creative, they are fun to make!

Serves 2

100 gram packet unsweetened acai

1 frozen banana (make sure your banana is unpeeled before you freeze it)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw honey

Garnish:

Berries

Mango slices

Peach Slices

Shredded coconut or fresh cut coconut

Almonds

Blend acai, frozen banana, vanilla extract and optional honey together on high in a blender. Top with fruit of choice. For garnish, I like to cut my mango slices into fun shapes. You can also freeze or fresh berries for a few moments to add a nice frozen glow to your bowl!

Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

One of our favorite ice cream shops is Kippy’s in Venice. Every flavor is created on the foundation of two simple ingredients: organic, raw coconut cream and organic, raw honey. If ice cream could be good for you, this is humanity’s best chance.  The flavors are delicious, and the raw coconut cream and honey are filled with fantastic enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, basically anyone can enjoy it, it’s gluten free, vegan, and raw. The flavor of the coconut cream and honey is so simple and pure, and the perfect canvas for a classic ice cream sundae. Here’s our version, but if you find yourself in Los Angeles or Tokyo this summer, be sure to check them out!

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Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

Vegan Banana Split

Vegan Banana Split


 

Ingredients:

1 pint coconut cream (Lets do Organic or Nature Value brand is what I like best), at room temperature

2 to 4 tablespoons raw honey, at room temperature (depending on desired taste)

Directions:

The night before you plan to make your ice cream, place your ice cream maker in the freezer. The next day, combine the coconut cream and honey by whisking together. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill completely in the fridge.  Then run the mixture through your ice cream machine. Freeze until firm.

Note: if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can try a variety of methods to make ice cream without one. My favorite is to pour the chilled mixture into a shallow dish, place it in the freezer, and every 30 minutes to stir it with electric beaters or a whisk. It will take about 2 hours for it to get the right consistency. 


 

To build the sundae


 

Ingredients:

1 banana, split

Vegan Caramel

Chopped nuts, to taste

Coconut whipped cream

Fresh Cherries

Directions:

Place the banana on a plate, add ice cream, and top with a drizzle of caramel, nuts, and a scoop of whipped cream. Finish with a cherry on top, of course.