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How to Read Nutrition Labels & How They’re Changing

How to Read Nutrition Labels & How They’re Changing

(This post originally written for Solcana Wellness)

This year, the FDA announced that all packaged foods will, within the next 3 years depending on the size of the food company, need to comply with new rules and updates for labeling nutrition facts. Here’s what to look for in the coming years:

  • Nutrition label updates:
    • the servings per container will be in a larger, bolder typeface and serving size will be updated to reflect more typical serving sizes based on how consumers eat (such as 3 servings per pint of ice cream versus 4.)
    • Calories will be in a larger typeface
    • Percentage daily values will be updated based on any new serving sizes declared
    • Under the total carbohydrate section, there will be a new row for added sugars
    • micro and milligrams of nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium will be listed, as well as their percent values.
    • New footnotes will explicitly describe percentage daily values based on a 2000 calorie daily diet.
    • Calories from fat will be removed from the header. Total fat, carbs and protein will still be listed in amounts.
    • Multi-serving packages will now have nutrition information per serving AND per container.
    • Total package calories will be written for packages that contain between one and two servings, instead of listing only per serving.
    • Dietary fiber will be added to foods that contain naturally occurring fiber or that are purported to be a healthful choice based on the fiber content.

Sooooooo what does this mean for you? Pretty good stuff, for the most part! The fact that total servings per container will be reassessed for multiple products depending on consumer dietary habits is a big deal. This means that that bag of fruit gummies in the checkout aisle will likely list one or two servings, instead of 4 (not uncommon currently). In addition, more items that have multiple servings will list the nutrition facts per servings as well as the nutrition facts for the total package. All this means is more clarity for the consumer. Nutrition labels are utilize fewer tricks under these guidelines. I’m particularly excited that the “total calories from fats” section will be taken away from the main label header. This really shows that there IS positive movement away from the fat phobia of the last 30 years. It demonizes fat quantity less and puts it on equal ground with carbohydrates and proteins now. Still, as a savvy consumer, it’s best to read the nutrition label along WITH the ingredient list. It’s in your best interest to be aware of quantity and quality of the packaged foods available to you.

Another hot ticket addition to nutrition labels (feel free to nerd out with me here) is the added sugars section that will be added under the total carbohydrates. Again, cool that the FDA is shifting focus away from fats and bit and towards sugars. One thing to remember is that a food can still be high sugar without any added sugars. However, now you can tell just how MUCH sugar is added to create the taste of the product in question. For those who have taken my Essential You group nutrition class, you understand not only the huge impact of added sugars in our health and economy, but also you understand what effect ALL sugars have in our bodies.

At the end of the day, informed choices are empowered choices. The new labels will have more information, therefore giving you more ability to make those choices and feel really, really solid about it. What’s not to love about that?

how to read nutrition labels

Smashed Potatoes with Smoked Paprika

Smashed Potatoes with Smoked Paprika

smashed potatoesMmm, good old potatoes. Always there when you need them. A bag of these spuds, regardless of color, size or shape, can seemingly rest for great stretches of time in a cool, dark pantry. And in the off-chance their dear eyes sprout? Pluck them off and you’re good to go. This recipe is based on one my mom has in her arsenal, and it’s a great trick of hers. I’m lucky to have her as the inspiration. So, if warm and cozy is still your game, as we tip-toe into February, then let these smashed potatoes fill your kitchen in the most comforting of ways.

Smashed Potatoes with Smoked Paprika

PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 10 minutes

  • Yukon gold potatoes, 2 pounds (or your favorite variety)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup or more of a fat to cook in, such as coconut oil, ghee/butter, lard, etc.

Bring the potatoes up to a boil, covered in water in a deep cooking pot. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until not completely soft but mostly cooking through (pierce them with a fork and notice how easy it dives into the potato flesh)–cooking time will also depend on the size of the potatoes you’re using. Once cooked, allow to cool completely (these are nice to cook ahead of time and have on hand throughout the week for all sorts of culinary projects). When ready to serve, heat the oil in a pan oven medium-heat heat. While the oil is heating, combine the spices in a small bowl and mix. Place the potatoes in the oil and gently press them down until they’ve flattered and the skins have broken; you can use the bottom of a glass cup, a measuring or other prop to accomplish this smash! Once smashed, sprinkle half the seasoning mix on top, and continue to allow them potatoes to cook until their bottoms are deeply golden, about 4-5 minutes. Then, flip the potatoes, and sprinkle the remaining half of the seasoning on the potatoes as the other sides reaches peak goldeness, another 4-5 minutes. Remove from oil and serve immediately.

Maple Roasted Carrots

Maple Roasted Carrots

maple roasted carrots

A sweet, comforting side dish, its glory being the subtle sweetness imparted not only by the maple syrup, but also those lovely carrots. I worked on a farm once for a summer (ah, now I’m far enough away in years that I think any memory would be pure nostalgia from that time!) and I loved working in the carrots fields. We had a big crew and it was hard work, and long days, but there were different jobs required by the literal field. There was the person pitch-forking the ground, loosening the soil surrounding the carrots. The people following along behind,  crouching as they pulled the carrots to the earth and creating bundles of them. Everyone taking a second to look up when someone thrust a certain carrot into the air, remarking on its hilarious shape and thinking of the customers who would inevitably buy them. Finally, there were those who would pile up the carrots, grabbing the bundles laying on the dirt and stacking, stacking stacking. When they weren’t, maybe they were distributing handfuls of rubber bands. Farm work is an underappreciated art, and so tough on the physical body, and it was a privilege having that experience for those quick 6 months, when it stayed easy on my body and the commodity of my peers made any (ok, most) weather tolerable. Join this wanna-be hippie in honoring those carrots with this simple side dish, hmm?

Maple Roasted Carrots

  • 4 large carrots, or 6 smaller, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (use honey if following SCD)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (use coconut oil if vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • grind of black pepper

Preheat the oven the 400. Slice your carrots a 1/2 inch wide, at an angle if you’d like to be fancy. Place your baking dish in the oven with the butter in it, just briefly, so the butter melts but the dish doesn’t heat too much. Take out, add the maple syrup and carrots, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the thyme, sea salt and black pepper over, then pop in the oven for 20 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Serves 4.



Migraines: Nutrients for Lasting Relief

Migraines: Nutrients for Lasting Relief

(This article originally written for Solcana Wellness)

I thought I’d talk a bit about the migraine today.


As a person who has had a history of getting migraines in the past, let me just say: Migraines are NO joke! Not only can they bring your day and the plans you had for it to an abrupt halt, but they can last for more than one full day, and the after effects can lessen your quality of life for a day or so afterwards as well as your body recuperates. Yeouch!

What is a Migraine?

  • A migraine includes both neurological and vascular changes during the migraine attack itself, and it includes a hypersensitivity to different stimuli that can then create pain, causing a cascade effect including activation of blood vessel inflammation, which in turn creates more pain signals.

Migraines often come in four stages, though many people do not experience all stages.

Migraine Stages:

  • Prodrome
    • a day or so before the migraine itself occurs, there may be warnings signs such as neck stiffness, bowel changes (trending towards constipation), increased thirst and yawning.
  • Aura
    • An aura is a visual disturbance experienced by some people who get migraines. They can appear as spiky, shifting, flashing or zig-zaging patterns in the visual field. They typically start as a small dot and grow and expand over the course of 30 to 60 minutes, often before the pain of the migraine itself begins.
  • Migraine Attack
    • This is when the pain begins, and lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some of the symptoms may include thrubbing pain in the head or neck, vomiting, nausea, major sensitivity to light, smells, touch or sounds, difficulty with vision, muscle pain and feeling lightheaded.
  • Post-drome
    • This is the follow-up phase to the painful attack, which can bring about tiredness, confusion, continued sensitivity visual or other stimuli and emotional exhaustion, too.

So when someone says they experience migraines, do them a kindness and don’t ask how they’re different from a headache!

What can typically bring on a migraine for many sufferers are things called triggers. These triggers can vary widely depending on the person, and often it may take one or two triggers coming together as a perfect storm for someone to then experience a migraine.

Common triggers:

  • Being under hydrated
  • Skipping sleep
  • Stress
  • Barometric pressure changes (abrupt weather changes)
  • Tight upper back, neck or jaw muscles
  • Hormonal changes around menstruation
  • Food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame
  • Preserved or aged foods, such as some cheeses, coffee, chocolate
  • Wine (nitrates, nitrites, tannins and yeasts may all be contributors), alcohol in general,
  • Chemical sensitivities (strong perfumes, laundry detergents, secondhand smoke)
  • Medications
  • And more…

What can I do BEFORE the migraine attack?

Luckily, because migraines triggers are so specific to the individual, there’s often plenty you can do to start to understand and even mitigate the likelihood of migraines before they occur:

  • Keep a journal
    • to be specific, a food, drink, and environment journal. Write down the foods you are eating, being specific about when you eat them. Also note any beverages, including amount of water you drink throughout the day. Add in anything you notice, such as feelings of lethargy, slight headaches, the weather. Bring awareness to what’s going on around you and you may be surprised what it reveals! Take out offending foods or drinks to help yourself as needed. Don’t drink enough water and think that may be a contributor? Try bringing a water around with you at work. Take an extra break (if you can) to fill up your water bottle. Add sliced lemons, limes, cucumber, strawberry tops or blueberries to your water to keep it interesting. Grab a pack of sparkling water so you’re excited to drink water.
  • Reduce stress loads
    • this means begin to balance your blood sugar levels (when they’re out of whack, that’s a stress), identify emotional stress, check out how often and when you work out, and what your sleep looks like these days. What are actionable steps you can take to manage these? Is it adding a 10 minute dog walk in the morning to geting your body moving? Is it getting breakfast ready the night before so you have more time to sleep? If tight muscles may be a culprit, get mobilizing, massage or use a lacrosse ball to smash out the tight muscles. Ask a coach or mobility instructor for specific movements to help. Many people experience “let-down” migraines, too. These are migraines that can occur on weekends or times when we naturally unwind, especially if we’re someone that powers though the week frequently. Another thing to note in the journal of yours!
  • Herbs such as raspberry leaf, vitex or feverfew
    • discuss these with a knowledgeable professional, but raspberry leaf and vitex are both useful herbs to help balance hormone levels for those who experience migraines with their cycle. Feverfew is an herb that can act as a preventative for migraines.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • our bodies need enough omega-3 fatty acids to help our inflammatory processes work efficiently, so bring on the fatty fish, chia seed, walnuts and flaxseeds.

What can I do DURING the migraine attack?

Once you’re in the migraine itself, it’s a whole other ball game. I personally was prescribed medication when I was a teenager that never really helped the pain, so taking it was not very motivating and made me seek out other options. Again, just like migraine triggers are personal, so too are relief options, playing around with them is key to find out what works for you. There is always a place for medication (and that’s a dialogue to have with your doctor), so it will not be a focus of this post, and instead more natural remedies are what I can speak to. Here are a few ideas:

  • Magnesium: Oral magnesium supplements are a great preventative, helping muscles relax appropriately and assisting in boatloads of body processes. In addition, topical magnesium such as taking an epsom salt bath or using magnesium oil spray is a great way to target specific muscles that are clenching up.
  • Ice cubes: sometimes keeping an ice cube or drinking very cold liquid through a straw to hit your soft palate (the top and back of your month) can feel soothing during the middle of an attack.
  • Drink caffeine: If you know me, you may be saying “wait, what?” right now. There’s totally a time and place for using caffeine, and a migraine attack can be one of them! The theory is that caffeine is vasoconstrictive and can aid in managing blood flow, helping with pain. Just be aware of the amount of caffeine being ingested, because feeling jittery or like you can’t fall asleep compounded with an attack is well, ouch.
  • Eat something: make sure you aren’t working on an empty stomach during this time, even if you are feeling nauseated and not like eating. Half an apple with a nut or seed butter, or carrots and hummus. Doesn’t need to be super flavorful, just needs to give you body some energy while it’s managing what’s happening.
  • Massage: especially if you migraine triggers include tight muscles, see if you or someone else can massage your neck, traps or upper back muscles to provide some relief.
  • Remove stimuli: go to a dark room and lay down. Powering through often won’t help, or can extend the post-drome stage after the attack.

So. Migraines. There’s a whole lot to them, and they’re painful to experience, which makes them doubly intense to try to figure out. However, you’re not alone, and it can be extremely useful to understand what your triggers may be. I went from living in fear of seeing the aura and not knowing my triggers when I was a young teenager to now going over 2 years without experiencing a true migraine! Once you can get a hold of your triggers, it lessens the likelihood of that “perfect storm” to occur. Add in those preventative measures and dang, suddenly the mysterious migraines isn’t such a big question mark as it once was.

migraines nutrients

How to Naturally Smash Sugar Cravings

How to Naturally Smash Sugar Cravings

(this post originally created for Solcana Wellness)

Anyone that’s holding off on refined sugars, you may be noticing something by now… cravings. Specifically, sugar cravings. If you’re in this boat, guess what! You are the captain, and you have the chance to steer this experience in any direction. Aw, yeah! Here are my top tips for leaving sugar cravings in the dust!


Keep Blood Sugar Levels Even

You’re already starting to work on this just by leaving out the refined sugars–good job! Keep it up by emphasizing wholesome fats (nuts, avocados, coconut oil, butter) in your meals and by getting enough protein (eggs, pulled pork, lentils) at each meal. And speaking of meals–keep them consistent! Aim to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, and allow yourself time during the day for lunch and dinner. It’s so easy in our fast-paced lives to skip meals! When blood sugar is regulated, it’s easier to go longer stretches without meals (which makes intermittent fasting an option for many people!), but until then, keep meals and even some snacks handy while your blood sugar is working on evening out.


Drink Water, Try Salt

Sometimes, people are seriously thirsty and they don’t even know it! Try drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, and notice if that affects cravings. After that, try drinking a glass of water when you’re having a craving and notice what happens. After THAT, try adding a pinch of sea salt to your first glass of water in the morning. You may be surprised how this informs your taste for foods the rest of the day.


Eat a Spoonful of Fat

Coconut oil, coconut butter/manna, coconut milk, unsweetened nut butters, half an avocado, all of these are fatty foods that can help the body understand it’s cravings nutrients–not sugars. Give a spoonful a go and notice how it makes you feel. If you still crave something sweet, try adding an apple or banana next time and get in those happy carbohydrates!


Eat Good Bacteria

All of our guts have special friends, those good bacteria, that help us get the job done day in and day out. Give your digestion a boost it may be craving by having a serving of a naturally fermented food like sauerkraut, kimchi, unsweetened kefir or yogurt. For this, I’d hold off on kombucha, since it’s a sugar ferment and sometimes that will just increase the sugar craving.


So those are my four top tips to help smash out those sugar cravings! Eat regular, satisfying meals, drink water, get in those good fats and bring on the probiotics! But I want to hear from you–what works for you when you’re craving the sugar?

how to smash sugar cravings

(note: I do earn a small commission if you choose to purchase these products through the above Amazon Affiliates links through my Amazon Affiliates store.)

Beef Bone Broth

Beef Bone Broth

beef stock

If there’s one thing to switch from store-bought to homemade that will yield both endless flavor and provide deep nutrition–it’s bone broths and stocks. Learning how to make these (which in essence typically means just learning to save up the bones from meals you have throughout the month!) is a simple process, with high return on investment. Bone broth provides our bodies with an easily digestible source of gelatin, collagen, minerals and more–nutrients our bodies need and often do not encounter as regularly as we all might hope! From a nutritional standpoint, this is why we add the apple cider vinegar into the cooking liquid; it helps the initial breakdown of the bones and joints, so we can have as efficient of a cooking time as we can while the pot bubbles away.

Beef Bone Broth

PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOKING TIME: Crockpot: 12-24 hours | Instant Pot: 90-120 minutes
SERVINGS: 3 quarts

  • 2-3 pounds of beef bones, trying to get a variety such as beef marrow, knuckle, rib or neck bones
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • up to 1 onion, either whole or saved up scraps from other meals
  • up to 2 carrots, same as the onion
  • up to 2 stalks of celery, same as the onion

Combine all ingredients in either a crockpot or an Instant Pot. If in the crockpot, fill to cover with water (can add more or less to accomplish this), turn to low and allow to cook for 12-24 hours. If in the Instant Pot, make sure you haven’t filled past your max fill line (noted along the inside wall of the cooking vessel), set the pot to manual and allow to cook for 90-120 minutes. Once done cooking, you can quick release (might spew some liquid along with the steam) or simply let the Instant Pot naturally release. Transfer to glass mason jars to store both in the fridge or freezer. You can also pour into ice cube trays and freeze, so you’ll always have 1 ounce frozen cubes of the broth to quickly add and melt into any dish (my personal favorite!) Use in soups, braises and stews, or heat up and drink by the mugful with a pinch of sea salt.




Roasted Chickpeas with Curry Powder

Roasted Chickpeas with Curry Powder

insta roasted chickpeas

Ah, the roasty toasty chickpea. A certain darling of the blogging and whole foods circuit right now, and I couldn’t be more pleased! I’ve been making these for a few years, ever since my sister brought over a batch and I wasn’t able to stop grabbing and crunching on this crispy little things! They’re a wonderful base for almost any seasoning, savory or sweet. I’m a fan of curry powder for these, but try any combination of herbs and spices you prefer… cumin and cinnamon? Sure. Just salt and black pepper? Why not! Rosemary and red pepper flakes? Oh, behave! Also, let’s remember that any variation on these works wonderfully as grain-free croutons for salads. Yep.

Roasted Chickpeas with Curry Powder
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed with water
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fragrant curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

There are many ways to prepare these chickpeas, from just tossing them on the pan to taking the time to take the papery skin off of each chickpea. Either and all methods work! My method here yields a fairly crispy chickpeas, with a bit of give still in the heart of the chickpea–they won’t be totally crispy all the way through. If you are looking for a crispier chickpea, I urge you to peel the chickpeas! Otherwise, if you like the mix of textures, just follow along below. Plus, if you don’t peel the chickpea, the little skins that do happen to fall off and cook alongside the whole beans become super crunchy while the whole tray cooks. The choice is yours!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. After you’ve rinsed and drained the chickpeas, pour them onto a clean dish towel and gently roll them around until the towel has dried them off. Spread out your chickpeas on a baking tray and toss the chickpeas with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake the chickpeas for 40 minutes, gently shaking the tray every 10 minutes so they brown and crisp evenly during their baking. At this point, if you prefer a crispier chickpea and you won’t be eating them right away, you can turn the oven off and leave the oven door open a crack. Allow the chickpeas to dry in the cooling oven for an hour before tossing with the spices of your choice. Otherwise, take the tray and toss the chickpeas with your curry powder. Snack wildly.


Raspberry Mustard

Raspberry Mustard

insta raspberry mustard

Lactofermented, at that!

What does lactofermented mean, really? That this mustard has been cultured with beneficial bacteria, and it’s good for your stomach! That just a bit of this condiment on the daily or weekly can actually boost your stomach function–not too shabby, and way cheaper than a daily probiotic capsule, right? Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Lactofermented Raspberry Mustard

1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup kombucha vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon raw honey (can also use maple syrup or other natural sweetener)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons whey* (optional)

In a clean, pint size glass mason jar, add both types of mustard seeds (you can play around with the quantities for these. Yellow mustard seeds are more mild in flavor, which brown are sharper and spicier). Combine all remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour liquid mixture into the mason jar with the mustard seeds and stir to combine. Tightly fasten the lid on the jar and allow to sit for 1 day. After 1 day (or so, you can be flexible), pour the contents of the jar into a blender or food processor and blend to your desired mustard consistency–more for a smoother mustard, or less blending for a more whole grain batch. Transfer the blended mustard back into a clean mason jar, screw the lid back on, and allow to sit for another 2 to 3 days. Transfer mustard to the fridge for storage. Mustard will keep for 6+ months in the fridge. Makes about 2 cups.

**want to use whey, but don’t know where to get it? Yeah, you can’t buy it, but you can make it! Take 2 cups of whole milk yogurt, and place in a colander or strainer lined with a clean dishtowel. Put the colander over a bowl big enough to catch the liquid that drips from the straining yogurt. Put the whole thing in the fridge, and allow to strain for at least 2 to 4 hours, or overnight. Save the liquid that drains away from the yogurt, because this is the whey! You can put it in a mason jar with a lid and it should keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. The strained yogurt is now what you would consider Greek yogurt–extra thick and creamy! Eat it as you would any normal yogurt.


Crunchy Fermented Green Beans

Crunchy Fermented Green Beans


Oh, lactofermentation. How simple you are, how amazing your benefits! Really, any vegetable can be fermented. This natural fermentation process provides a batch of green beans that snap and crunch with every bite–a perfectly refreshing and snarf-worthy way to get in all the good bacteria and live enzymes fermenting promotes.

Lactofermented Green Beans
roughly 1 cup of green beans, ends trimmed and longer beans cut in half
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon whey (optional)*
1 pint size glass mason jar

Sterilize the mason jar and its lid by running through a hot cycle in the dishwasher, boiling in water (if your lid is plastic, do not put in boiling water), or cleaning with dish soap and hot water. Use clean utensils during this process and clean hands, too!

In a separate container, mix the water, sea salt and optional whey together until all are dissolved. Put aside. In a small bowl, add the garlic, coriander, red pepper flakes and mustard seeds. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently crush the seeds and smash the garlic a bit. Then add the spices and garlic to the bottom of the sterilized jar. Begin to stand the green beans upright and pack them into the jar until you have just enough so that they’re all standing up against one another. You want them to be no higher than 1 inch below the top of the glass jar. This is so you may leave 1 inch of airspace at the top of the jar during the fermenting process, and also because you want the beans to be fully submerged under the fermenting liquid (brine). Once all your beans are packed, begin to pour in the brine until it just covers the beans. Push any down that try to float up when you add the liquid. Pour the liquid in until 1 inch of airspace is left at the top. If you need more liquid to do this, add some extra filtered water. Screw the lid on, place in a cupboard, and allow to ferment for 3 to 5 days. After this, store the beans in the fridge. They last for at least 6 months refrigerated.

*want to use whey, but don’t know where to get it? Yeah, you can’t buy it, but you can make it! Take 2 cups of whole milk yogurt, and place in a colander or strainer lined with a clean dishtowel. Put the colander over a bowl big enough to catch the liquid that drips from the straining yogurt. Put the whole thing in the fridge, and allow to strain for at least 2 to 4 hours, or overnight. Save the liquid that drains away from the yogurt, because this is the whey! You can put it in a mason jar with a lid and it should keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. The strained yogurt is now what you would consider Greek yogurt–extra thick and creamy! Eat it as you would any normal yogurt.


Chocolate Spiced Walnut Butter

Chocolate Spiced Walnut Butter


Ah, fall. Finding its way down the block, leaves fluttering by with big gusts of strangely warm wind. Hey, I’ll take it. Now that we’re in November, even as it isn’t icy cold yet (thank you, Minnesota), I’m still drawn more and more to warming, cozy foods. Quarts of chicken stock? Check. A large sheet tray of roasted sweet potatoes? Oh, behave. Naturally, a freshly ground walnut butter is next in line, right? Sure.

Today’s flavors are inspired by “Mexican” hot chocolate, or at least, the general idea as found in the United States today. Chocolate, chiles, cinnamon and a healthy pinch of sea salt for good measure, all throw in the food processor with toasted and still warm walnuts. It really isn’t too bad, if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Spiced Walnut Butter
1.5 cups walnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil (if you have a high powered blender, you may omit or use less coconut oil)
up to 1/4 cup sweetener of your choice (raw honey, maple syrup or even a few dates thrown in would do the trick)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less depending on how spicy you’d like this to be!)

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, gently toast the walnuts, stirring frequently so they don’t burn, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. In a food processor or blender (or, high powered blender, you lucky creature), combine all ingredients (omitting or using less coconut oil if you have that high powered blender). Allow to process until your desired consistency, scraping the edges of the processor or blender as needed–roughly 3 minutes or so. Take a spoonful now and revel in your creation. Makes about 1 cup of walnut butter.