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Twiced-Baked ”Pumpkin Pie”

Twice-baked “pumpkin pie” made with Sweet Dumpling squash from the farmer’s market in Healdsburg, California

Even though I’ve been taking a break from this blog to develop my new culinary viewpoint (coming soon), I wanted to share with you the “pumpkin pie” I created this year for Thanksgiving. I’ve been creating pumpkin recipes for about ten years now and each year they get simpler and more delicious. This one tops them all.

I’m calling this “pumpkin pie” in quote marks because it tastes like pumpkin pie in your mouth, but it’s sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy free (no eggs or cream, just a bit of butter you can leave out if you want). So it’s not really a standard pumpkin pie by definition, but your taste buds will be very happy.

It starts with a squash called “Sweet Dumpling.” If you can find this squash where you live, it’s the best squash. It’s very smooth and creamy and SWEET. So no added sweetener of any kind is needed. If you can’t find it, try Delicata or Carnival or even butternut squash, but if you can get Sweet Dumplings, this is the best one.

I’m just going to tell you how to make this instead of writing a recipe, because you have to make it by taste. I can’t give you amounts because I don’t know how much squash you’ll be making.

So here it is.

Cut your squash in half north-to-south, scrape out the seeds and place the squash halves cut side up in a baking pan. Put them in the oven and turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. Bake for about an hour, until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.

Let squash cool until you can handle it without burning your fingers. While the squash is still warm, remove the meat with a teaspoon, being careful to keep the skin intact so you can use it as the “crust” (it’s not edible but will serve to hold the “filling”). Set the shells aside to be filled later.

Put the cooked squash in a bowl and mix-and-mash with a fork until it is smooth.

Now here’s the tasting part. First add vanilla extract (or vanilla bean) until you get the amount of vanilla that tastes right to you. I like the amount where I can just taste the vanilla without it being overwhelming.

Then add pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves (or mixed pumpkin pie spice)—to suit your taste. I like using the individual spices because I really like to taste the cloves and allspice. But suit your taste.

And then add softened or melted butter and mix until it has the right mouth feel. Or omit the butter altogether or use another fat that you prefer.

When your filling is all yummy, cut the reserved shells in quarters (if Sweet Dumplings) and then pile the filling inside. Place them in a baking dish and bake them again until the filling is warm. This is just for temperature, not to make it brown.

Remove filled squash from the oven, place each one on a plate, and sprinkle with raisins. I used a raisin “medley” I found at the farmer’s market.

Serve immediately.

Oh, and I wanted to scatter chopped walnuts on top and around on the plate but I forgot to do that before I took the photo. So you can do that if you want, or use any other nuts, or a mix of different varieties of nuts or no nuts at all.

We’re actually having apple crisp for Thanksgiving made from whatever variety of heirloom apples I can gather up. We’re having this pumpkin pie in advance tonight, so I can give the instructions to you.


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A New Way to Eat: Progress Report

It’s been some months since I took a break from writing this blog to pursue writing an ebook about the way I am eating now.

I thought I could write this in a couple of months, but some things happened and now the ebook will be even better than I imagined before.

I’m writing this post today because a couple of days ago I reached a major milestone: I got my blood sugar down to 125. This is a significant number because 125 is the number above which you are considered diabetic. It’s been my goal to get my blood sugar down to 125 because at that point I would be “not diabetic.”

Now granted it was only 125 for one day and that’s with insulin, but since I’ve been struggling with my blood sugar (17 years now) it’s NEVER been 125 no matter what I did, not even for one day. Not even taking 50 units of insulin.

But on my new diet, a couple of days ago it was 125.

Even better than this, however, is that I now know exactly what makes my blood sugar go down and what makes it go up, so I can control it. I now know exactly what makes my weight go down and what makes it go up, so I can control that too.

To date, I have been on this diet for 11 months.

In the first two months I lost 21 pounds. Today I have kept that 21 pounds off for nine months. This is amazing to me because usually people (myself included) go on a diet, lose weight, then go back to the way they were eating before and gain all the weight back and more. But I now know how to lose weight and keep it off and lose weight any time I want to lose weight. If you are wondering why I didn’t lose more, it’s because I was experimenting and devising ways to stay on the diet while traveling, and finding out what made me fall off the diet and how to change my way of eating for life.

In the first month my blood sugar went down 100 points and has stayed in that range with occasional dips lower. But the important thing for me is that I’ve maintained this lower range while lowering my insulin. I’ve now lowered my insulin 9 units. I’m what they call a “brittle diabetic” so I can’t just stop the insulin cold turkey.

My goal is normal blood sugar with no insulin. I’m heading in that direction and I know I will get there. It just takes time for my body to adjust and heal.

The really amazing thing though is that after about three months on the diet, I went on a trip for a week. It was very hard to stay on the diet while traveling. But what I found was that my body had gained insulin resistance! Foods that made my blood sugar spike before no longer made my blood sugar spike. Of course eating those foods again reduced my insulin resistance and I had to gain it back again (see this is why my progress is slow).

Over the past year, it’s become clear to me that this IS the best diet for my body. I’m eating delicious food that I love to eat and is easy to prepare. I know the “rules” now of how to feed my body to lose and maintain weight and keep my blood sugar under control, and I can come back to these rules any time I stray. Maintining health while also eating and enjoying food is no longer a mystery to me.

I just wanted you to know that I will be bringing all this to you and it’s in progress. I’ve had a lot of interruptions but after I make a move across the country in September I’ll be able to work intensively on putting all this together for you in October.

It IS coming!

Debra 🙂

Taking a Break

I’m taking a break from this blog to work on writing a book about how I’m eating now.

I wrote about this at the beginning of the year in A New Way to Eat.

So many of you have asked for this, that I just need to take the time to make the transition now.

Let me write the book so I can give you the logic and instructions and then I’ll resume the recipes.

See you soon!

Debra 🙂

Valentine Strawberry Acai Bowl


I live in a resort town in Florida that has a top-rated beach. It’s not the trendiest place, but a few months ago a small place open that sells acai bowls. It’s on a main street, so I noticed it, but had no idea what an acai bowl was. I had never heard of it.

Finally a couple of weeks ago Larry and I went in to find out. And I fell in love.

Acai berries come from the Amazon. In fact, the origin story for indigenous tribe says the entire Amazon was born of a single seed of Acai. Often called the Kind of Superfoods, this purple berry is full of antioxidants (which repair the damage done to your body by toxic chemicals), healthy omegas and other vital nutrients—and the berry contains no sugar. Yes, zero grams of sugar.

When I first saw the sign, I looked up “acai bowl” online and found a recipe made from powdered acai. This place used frozen organic whole acai berry puree. That was more interesting to me.

In the shop, they blend the acai puree with frozen fruits of various types—like making a smoothie, but with less liquid so it’s more like soft-serve ice cream—then they pour it in a bowl and top with fresh fruits, granola, and other various toppings. So it’s like eating an ice cream sundae except it’s all made of fruit (and granola).

For me, the price was too high for every day ($8) and the granola too sweet, so I decided to make my own at home.

. I found the frozen acai puree at Whole Foods and Costco, and could make four acai bowls for less than the price of one at the shop. Sambazon have various blends, but I just buy the pure unsweetened.

You can really mix this with any frozen fruit and top it with anything you want. I just top with fresh fruit at home and a sprinkle of bee pollen and a drizzle of honey. I leave off the granola.

I created an acai bowl for Valentine’s Day as a sweet alternative to all the usual Valentine gifts. Serve it for breakfast or dessert. It’s delicious.

After taking the photo I put the bowl in the freezer while I downloaded the photo, just in case I needed to take another photo. And it got very nicely icy around the edges in about 10 minutes. I can see myself eating these cold bowls all summer.

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Probiotic Kisses

I’m a big fan of eating fermented foods for probiotics instead of taking pure probiotic capsules, so I was pleased to see this post for Valentine’s Day that kissing transfers probiotics from one body to another.

A team of Dutch researchers found that the bacteria on the tongue of each member of the kissing couples was very similar to their partner’s and nothing like the bacteria on a stranger’s tongue. The more they kissed, the more similar it became.

They also did another test where they gave each participants a probiotic yogurt drink with a marker bacteria, then asked the couple to kiss. They found that a single kiss that lasted 10 second can deposit 80 million of the special marker bacteria from one tongue to another.

Apparently even if one half of the couple eats fermented foods, the other half gets the benefits.

Nature must really want our bodies to have probiotics.

Journal of Microbiome

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The BEST Black Bean Brownies

My friend Linda gave me this recipe for black bean brownies about five years ago. I made them, loved them, and lost the recipe.

Last week I was going through old recipes, removing recipes for foods I no longer eat, and found this recipe.

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day I have to share it with you, and also because when I couldn’t find this recipe, I tried other black bean brownie recipes and none of them were as good as this one. THIS IS THE ONE TO MAKE if you want brownies!

A friend of mine came over tonight so I made them to just double-test the recipe and take the photo. I didn’t tell her what was in them. She loved them and asked what type of flour I used.
“No flour,” I said. She couldn’t believe it.

They really have a cake-like brownie texture.

If you don’t want to use butter, you could make them completely vegan with coconut oil. I haven’t tried it but let me know if you do.

You could add anything you want to these brownies. I think Larry would love them with walnuts and raisins 🙂

These freeze really well and thaw in about ten minutes, so you don’t need to eat them all at once.

Larry LOVES these and your Valentine will love them too!

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Garden Vegetable Garbanzo Crackers

Even though I told you in my last post everything is changing and I’m working on an ebook with a new way of eating, I wanted to give you this recipe this week. It’s totally perfect for what is coming.

I was walking through my local natural food store last and they had a free sample of a recipe, you know, a recipe that uses different ingredients you can buy at the store.

It was a “quiche” made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) instead of eggs. It was so delicious that I had to bring the recipe home and try it.

Instead of whole beans , this recipe uses Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour , which is an amazing ingredient. You can just cook it up like cornmeal mush and eat it like hot cereal for breakfast, but it has a lot more protein. Lots more uses that I will tell you about in future posts.

But, alas, the recipe didn’t turn out at home as it did in the store. The mixture just didn’t cook through.

In an attempt to save this delicious concoction, I mashed it flat on a sheet pan and tried to dry it out in the oven. That was better. but still not quite right. But even so, I left it sitting on top of the stove and Larry and I kept eating it throughout the day because it tasted so good.

What we wanted was to turn it into crackers. So I did just that and it was perfect!’

I’m always looking for crispy things to eat that don’t have a lot of fat or salt or refined ingredients.

These crackers are easy to make and delicious.

NOTE: This recipe contains no salt because I’m not adding salt to my food at the moment. So if you want these cracker to be salty, sprinkle salt on top to suit your taste. I love them even without salt. I’m also thinking that I will try other seasonings on these crackers, such as a yummy organic salt-free taco seasoning I get in the bulk spice section of my local natural food store.

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What I Observed About How Food Can Affect My Body


As you may already know, I’ve been eating in a new way for the last couple of months. Because of this change in diet, I’ve lost about 30 pounds, my blood sugar has come down about 100 points and I’ve been doing a good job at maintaining that loss, even over the holidays and while traveling.

I haven’t been as strict on the diet as I was for two months, and have been allowing myself to wander off of it, in part as an experiment to see what would happen.

Last weekend it so happened that I had the opportunity to have a free buffet lunch at a hotel. And then in the evening I went to a concert where there was a whole buffet of hot appetizers and desserts. And so I did an experiment and ate whatever I wanted. Yes, sugar, wheat, fried foods—all the things I usually don’t eat.

The result was I got a really bad headache, gained 5 pounds and my blood sugar went up 50 points! And three days later suddenly my gums started bleeding!

Fortunately, two days on my good diet brought everything back to where I was the day before I ate these foods.

But I learned something.

A lot of these foods were foods I used to eat, back when I “couldn’t control” my weight and blood sugar.  I now see that weight and blood sugar can be controlled if you know what to eat.

And also, just seeing the variety of symptoms that popped up after only one day of being off my good diet. Wow! How many people are eating these foods and having these symptoms and taking drugs instead of changing their diet?

I’ll be telling you about my new diet soon. I don’t want to give it to you until I can give you all the instructions so you can have success with it. I’m working on that.

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Try Something Different: Interesting New Foods

Baby San Marzano tomatoes over a mix of brown Jasmine and brown Volcano rice, with green onions


Maybe it’s just a shift in my own awareness, but I’ve noticed over the past couple of months that there are many new foods available that I’ve never seen before.

This started about a month ago when I went to a movie near our local Whole Foods. Larry and I don’t usually shop at Whole Foods because it’s not the closest natural food store and prices are higher, but when we’re in the neighborhood we’ll buy a few things we can’t get elsewhere. So we went in a after the movie and found organic parsley roots! This is actually the root of the parsley plant and comes with the parsley on top. You can fix them in many ways, but I just ate them raw and they were delicious!

That same week we found organic Okinawa purple sweet potatoes at our usual natural food store. They were delicious so the next time we went shopping we tried organic white Murasaki sweet potatoes, which were divine. Read about the nutrition content of these sweet potatoes vs the orange variety.

Then shopping over the weekend we found Volcano Rice (Lotus Foods) which is grown on volcanic soil and so has a lot of minerals not usually found in foods. This rice is nutty, all different shades of brown, and so nutrient dense that I can only eat about a tablespoon at a time. So I mix it with my standard organic brown Jasmine rice and it’s wonderful.

Also this weekend we found fresh baby San Marzano tomatoes at Trader Joe’s. San Marzano is the prized Italian tomato from which all canned Italian tomatoes and pasta sauces are made. The flavor is amazing. But I don’t buy canned food because of BPA linings so I was thrilled to find fresh San Marzano tomatoes.

And also a Trader Joe’s organic heirloom Navel oranges.

There is such a bounty of fresh wholesome organic foods available now in so many places, every meal can be a culinary delight.

I remember many years ago when I wanted to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and I gave up because the fresh produce tasted so terrible. Not any more! Take a look.

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Christmas Sweet Potato Salad


Last week I told you I changed my diet . I created this recipe specifically for that diet, but anyone can enjoy it.

I call this salad “Christmas” because it’s red and green, but also because I made it on Christmas morning. But you can eat it anytime.

A few days before Christmas, Larry and I decided to leave on Christmas morning to go on a roadtrip, adding a day to our previously planned trip to visit friends who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains..

There was food in the refrigerator that would not last a week, so I got up early and started preparing leftovers into yummy things we could eat on the road and stay on our diet that was working so well.

This salad was the first thing I made out of leftover sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables.

So good! Larry and I both loved eating it on the road.

This recipe calls for Jersey sweet potatoes, which are yellow, not orange. They are kind of a cross between a sweet potato and a yam. My local natural food store sells them most of the year. Maybe yours does too. The sweetness of the potato is part of the charm of this salad.

Canellini beans are white kidney beans, very popular in Italy. They are especially creamy. I buy them at my local natural food store and cook them myself. White navy bean would be a good substitute.

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