Tag: blog

Festive Cacao + Coconut Butter Bark \\ Sweet Laurel

I just love coconut butter (sometimes called coconut manna) and use it as a frosting most of the time. Today, we’re using coconut butter to make this delicious Festive Cacao + Coconut Butter Bark! The fun thing about this recipe you can add peppermint essential oil to make it taste festive, or add dehydrated raspberries to make it look festive! If you aren’t a coconut butter person,  sub in white chocolate. Enjoy!

Raspberry Coconut Butter Bark \\ Sweet Laurel

Raspberry Coconut Butter Bark \\ Sweet Laurel

Raspberry Coconut Butter Bark \\ Sweet Laurel

Raspberry Coconut Butter

Yields one 8 x 8 sheet of chocolate


Ingredients:

1 cup coconut butter

1/2 cup coconut or almond milk

4 oz 100 % cacao baking chocolate

1/4 cup maple syrup (divided)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional:

1 cup freeze dried raspberries, finely chopped

1 small drop peppermint essential oil

 


 

Directions: 

In a saucepan, place coconut butter over very low heat, or over a double boiler. As the coconut butter melts into a liquid, slowly stir almond or coconut milk. If the coconut butter turns brown, it has overheated, so try and keep your stove at its lowest setting.  Off heat, add the 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. If you don’t want your bark too sweet, feel free to leave the maple syrup out. (I prefer it sans maple syrup). Once the mixture reaches a pourable consistency, spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly over the parchment.

Working quickly, melt the 100% cacao baking chocolate over low heat. Slowly add 3-4 tablespoon maple syrup. This is where you can optionally add the peppermint oil to make a peppermint flavored bark. Take care not to add too much peppermint however.

Dollop one tablespoon of chocolate over coconut butter mixture. I like to do three rows of four round dollops. Using the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate into the coconut butter mixture, making a fun, swirly design. Top the bark with finely chopped freeze dried raspberries. Place in fridge until completely firm, then cut into squares. Keep in fridge or freezer until serving.

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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Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

I tricked Nick with these fries. He used to think sweet potatoes were one the nastiest things ever (can you imagine?). Now these fries are his side of choice. A few years into our marriage and I had enough with the anti-sweet potato antics. I decided to make a batch of fries using white sweet potatoes, which look almost identical to regular potatoes and see if he’d notice a difference. Is that mean? Well, see if you can tell the difference. Bake these up and you’ll see (and taste) why!

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Yields 4 servings


 

Ingredients:

4 pounds sweet potatoes (I use the white ‘Hannah’ or ‘Japanese’ sweet potatoes)

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 -2 tablespoons Bragg Organic Sprinkle Seasoning or Italian Seasoning (blend of oregano, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and marjoram)

1 -2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


 

Directions:

Preheat oven 420 convection.

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper. This makes for an easy clean up!

Wash sweet potatoes and cut in half, then cut into strips.

Place fries in bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Put cut potatoes on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 convection for 40 minutes. Halfway through baking, scrap from pan with spatula and continue to bake.

After 40 minutes, remove from oven and enjoy!

***You can prep a day or two before, place the marinated fries in a sealed container, and bake 40 minutes before you plan to serve.

Mini Caramel Apples \\ Sweet Laurel

Caramel apples are a nostalgic classic and bring instant memories of childhood and fall’s bounty.  Here’s an easy way to clean up the old-time treat with wholesome ingredients, just in time for Halloween.

Mini Caramel Apples \\ Sweet Laurel

Mini Caramel Apples \\ Sweet Laurel

Mini Caramel Apples \\ Sweet Laurel

Mini Caramel Apples


 

Ingredients:

3­-4 large apples

1/4 cup ghee *

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Toothpicks

* can be subbed for grass fed butter


Directions:

Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining with parchment paper.

Prepare apples by cutting in half, then using a melon baller, make spheres. Alternatively, you can use the whole apples. Set aside.

To make the caramel sauce:

Melt ghee over low heat. Slowly add maple syrup and salt.

Bring to a low boil while stirring constantly for 4 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to draw a line with the back of a spoon in the base of the pan.

Let caramel cool off heat and slightly thicken. Coat each apple with caramel and place on parchment. Repeat for a second round for thicker caramel coating. Place the coated apples in the refrigerator until serving. Enjoy!

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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Our Classic Vanilla Cake \\ Sweet Laurel

I love sharing cake recipes with you because cake is my thing! At Sweet Laurel, we like to keep it simple, and not to mention, deliciously gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy free!

I shared this recipe with our friends at The Chalkboard Mag last month and had to share with you as well. I opened up to the gals over there about my healing journey, and what brought me to start Sweet Laurel. Enjoy the read and our delicious yet simple Classic Vanilla Cake! xo, Laurel

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Two years after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s), I decided to do something about it. When I was diagnosed in 2012, my doctor immediately put me on synthetic thyroid hormones to stand in for the hormones my body was not creating. Every morning I popped my pill and went on with my day-to-day activities, all while ignoring my body’s screams for help.

Two years later, I was suffering from extreme IBS, a myriad of digestive issues and secondary amenorrhea. I came face to face with the reality that I could not put my health off another year; I needed to take action. I met up with a family friend who practices functional medicine and she introduced me to the concept of healing through food.

She suggested I remove inflammatory foods from my body/diet: grains, dairy, refined sugar, soy, and legumes. Hashimoto’s disease has a long-standing negative relationship with gluten, which mimics the thyroid hormone in some cases. Removing gluten as well as other inflammatory foods was the first step in taming my thyroid, as well as healing my gut.

I removed foods causing inflammation, as well as processed foods and educated myself in a whole-food approach to eating. I started by eating whole vegetables, fruit, and organic and pasture-raised protein. I quickly learned if I wanted certain foods, like crackers or cookies, I had to make them myself. This was when Sweet Laurel became more than just a thought. I started to work with foods I could eat, like almond flour and coconut oil, as opposed to flour and butter. I fell in love with Himalayan pink salt for balance of flavor in my cooking and baking, and instead of table sugar, I sweetened my baked goods with maple syrup. In most recipes, I used organic and pastured eggs or found they weren’t needed at all! I kept it simple. I discovered the beautiful reality that a whole-food approach to eating doesn’t have to be complicated. In 2015, using these five core ingredients, I launched Sweet Laurel with the goal of sharing this approach to eating with as many people as possible. Here is a simple yet beautiful recipe I love to share with friends on late summer nights. The elegant topping of whipped cream and berries is a classic.

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Recipe Note: Make sure to let the coconut milk set in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, before making the coconut whipped cream topping. I always keep multiple cans of coconut milk in the back of my fridge so I can whip up this quick and delicious dessert!

VANILLA CAKE WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM AND BERRIES

Yields one 8-inch round cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the vanilla cake:
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs *
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
organic seasonal berries, for topping

* Vegan option – egg replacement:
1 Tbsp freshly ground chia seeds
1 Tbsp freshly ground flax seeds
4 Tbsp water

For the coconut whipped cream:
1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I like Let’s Do Organic brand)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

For the vanilla cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare your 8-inch pan by cutting a circular round of parchment paper to fit the base of your pan. Place the circular parchment round inside the cake pan, then grease the sides of the pan with melted coconut oil.

Place eggs*, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until well incorporated. Add almond flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix until batter is formed, then pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 25 minutes (or 35 minutes, if using egg replacement), until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool, then flip cake out of pan onto a cake plate.

For the egg replacement:

Place the freshly ground chia and flax seeds in a bowl, then add water. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then add to the batter. This cake will need to bake for 10 additional minutes.

For the coconut whipped cream:

Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator the night before you make your cake.

Before you plan to serve your cake, open the can of refrigerated coconut milk. The fat will have risen to the top of the can, with the liquid at the bottom; scoop out only the solids to your mixing bowl, then add the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk together, then refrigerate whipped cream to keep it firm until you are ready to top your cake.

To frost your cake, place cooled cake on serving plate and top with prepared coconut whipped cream, followed by organic seasonal berries.

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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.