Second to swapping recipes, I love to discuss ‘how do you define paleo’ with others! I am always fascinated to learn about how others implement this lifestyle, how they identified their intolerances, what their gray area foods are, and how they handle special occasions and celebrations.
Lea Hendry Valle, Paleo Spirit blogger and author of the recently released Sweet Paleo, is one of those people who defines and practices paleo in a way that makes me say – YES, totally agree! One glance below at her write up on why she authored a book on sweets and you will see what I mean. I have always appreciated her practical outlook that she shares on her site, and with the release of her cookbook, am also insanely appreciative of her talent in the kitchen!
Please enjoy a guest post from Lea below where she shares more on not only her paleo philosophy, but a recipe from Sweet Paleo for Chocolate Beet Pudding Cake! And if you are in the New York/New Jersey area be sure to check out the release party for this awesome book on March 21 – all the details can be found here!
Paleo Spirit Philosophy
For some people, food is simply utilitarian. They are more than content to sit down to a good steak with a baked sweet potato and a salad, followed by fresh fruit for dessert. And, frankly, this is how I eat the vast majority of the time. But there are occasions when life demands something more, something special. My brand new cookbook, Sweet Paleo, is a celebration of foods that add some measure of variety and pleasure to our lives. We join together with friends and family to enjoy meals made in celebration of special occasions. Going through life focusing on food merely as fuel, while fine for some, is not for me. I choose to savor those precious moments of human interaction that sometimes include the sharing of special treats.
Paleo as Codeword
Most people, even those who ordinarily follow a healthful diet or even a strict Paleo way of eating, like to have standard treats and desserts from time to time. All things in moderation, right? But for some of us dealing with food sensitivities, intolerances and/or allergies, this simply is not an option. We want to be able to enjoy a piece of pie during the holidays without getting ill. And our children should be able to enjoy birthday cake at a party with their friends.
For me the word Paleo is more of a code word for “does not contain the ingredients to which I am allergic or find problematic for my health,” rather than mimicking something a caveman would have eaten. Who wants to have to search the Internet for “grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, legume-free” this or that, and hope the recipe also uses natural sweeteners? I look for the word Paleo because it sums it all up. I know if I find a recipe or cookbook designated as Paleo, it likely conforms to my way of eating. As a responsible adult, I decide how much of a particular food I should or should not eat or serve to my kids. In the case of sweets, it may be in small portions and rare. But when eating a dessert or other treat, I would rather have one that is made of nutrient-dense, highest-possible-quality ingredients than something with empty calories that will make me or my family feel terrible afterward or be detrimental to our health.
Can Sweet Ever Be Paleo?
You might think Sweet Paleo is an oxymoron. The practice of using Paleo-approved ingredients to craft foods that are essentially re-creations of modern processed, addictive foods is looked down upon by some people. It is true that our society relies too heavily on processed foods high in carbohydrates, bad fats, preservatives and other problematic ingredients. And it is valid, especially when dealing with a real food addiction, to avoid getting into the habit of making and eating too many recipes that are re-creations of problematic foods. After all, the overconsumption of sugar leads to weight gain, inflammation and blood sugar swings. And the lack of large amounts of processed sugar in a Paleo diet is partly what makes us feel better than we used to. However, in my experience it is far easier to stick to a restricted diet when you know you can have the occasional piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party or pancakes on the weekend. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the occasional Paleo baked good or treat, especially if it helps you maintain your eating plan without any major lapses that can damage your health overall.
- 1/2 cup (56 g) coconut flour
- 3/4 cup (90 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 10 large, moist Medjool dates, pitted
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted beet (about 1 large beet, roasted until very soft) (can substitute applesauce)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup liquefied coconut oil, or ghee or unsalted pastured butter, melted, plus more for pan
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (accents the chocolate flavor but you can substitute water)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with coconut oil and line with parchment paper.
- Weigh the coconut flour and cocoa powder and sift together with the baking soda and salt into a medium-size bowl; set aside.
- Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Slowly add the apple juice to moisten the mixture.
- Add the beets and continue to pulse until pureed and combined with the dates. Process until the beet puree is completely smooth.
- Transfer the beet puree to the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and coffee and mix on medium-low speed, using a whisk attachment, until well combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until you have a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with the back of a spatula.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (depending on pan size), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
To Make Mini Bundt Cakes (pictured):
Grease mini Bundt pans and bake for 20 to 28 minutes, depending on the size of the pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
For a really decadent treat you can top with Chocolate Ganache.
Click here for more information on Sweet Paleo: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Delights, including photos, link to a complete list of recipes, allergen guide and where to buy.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Lea-Valle-Paleo-Spirit-Author-of-Sweet-Paleo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Lea Valle is the author, recipe-developer and photographer behind the blog Paleo Spirit focusing on a back-to-basics approach to fitness for mind, body and soul. She is also a motivational speaker, wife and full-time working mother of two. Lea is the author the cookbook: Sweet Paleo: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Delights. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Tw