Cranberry Cherry Cheesecake

Here’s a lovely holiday dessert that you can serve in slices or individual ramekins.

This three-layer dessert has a date-nut crust, a ricotta cheesecake and a beautiful topping of red cranberries and cherries—all sweetened with low-glycemic date paste.

I think it would look even prettier with pomegranate arils sprinkled on top like sparkling rubies, but I didn’t think of that until after I took the photo.

Very delicious.

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Holiday Treats


Holiday Treats

Here are some of my favorite holiday recipes for cookies and candies made gluten-free with natural sweeteners. Enjoy them yourself, give as gifts to family and friends, share them with co-workers, take them to parties. My gift to you for the holidays.

GINGERBREAD STARS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE WITH HIMALAYAN SALT – This is my favorite holiday cookie, loved by everyone else I know too.

CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES + CHOCOLATE PFEFFERNUSSE – These are so delicious. Pfeffernusse is an old German cookie with black pepper.

COCONUT BUTTER CANDY – So easy to make and healthy too.

TOFFEE – This tastes just like toffee made with sugar, only better.

ENGLISH TOFFEE – My version of that famous “almond” candy so popular for the holidays.

SWEET & SALTY CARAMEL POPCORN – Great for parties, It’s like that famous popcorn treat that comes in a box.

CHEZ PANISSE GINGERSNAPS – Very buttery and decadent.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE IN WHICH YOU CAN DIP ANYTHING – During the winter, my favorite fruit to dip is fresh orange segments. Sooo good.


SUGARPLUMS – From The Night Before Christmas..these are the sugarplums that dance in their heads.

ALMOND SHORTBREAD FOR CUTOUT COOKIES AND OTHERS – This dough is more difficult to work with, but more flavorful.

COCONUT SNOWBALLS – Made with coconut and coconut and coconut…a lovely winter treat.


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies + Chocolate Pfeffernusse


The first time I ever saw these cookies—many years ago in my white flour, white sugar lifetime—I just had to make them. I think they are a perfect winter cookie because they look like snow has fallen all over this deep chocolate cookie.

This version is gluten-free and made from natural sweeteners. So if you are going to eat sweets, this is one of the better choices.

And after I made them, I suddenly thought of an old German Christmas cookie called Pfeffernusse, so I made another batch and added ground back pepper. When I was a child, a friend of mine from a German family always had them when I visited her house. It wasn’t until just now, looking up how to spell this cookie that I learned it’s a gingerbread cookie with pepper! So this Pfeffernusse is not traditional, but delicious just the same.

The proportions are slightly different to allow the Crinkle Cookies to melt and to allow the Pfefferneusse to hold in a ball.

Spiced Pickled Beets With Red Grapes and Pomegranate

Spiced Pickled Beets With Red Grapes and Pomegranate

The spiced pickled beets in this beautiful salad are made by fermentation, not vinegar. This way they are filled with natural probiotics that aid digestion.

It’s very easy. You just put all the ingredients in the jar and let it sit for three days and that’s it.

I’m going to give you a recipe for Spiced Pickled Beets. Then serve them in a bowl with sliced-in-half red grapes and pomegranate seeds on top. So good in so many ways.

I’m eating these almost every day for a mid-afternoon snack. I think a jar of these Spiced Pickled Beets would make a great holiday gift



My Ross Family Mashed Potato Salad



Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I thought I would share with you my favorite Thanksgiving recipe.

This is my #1 favorite childhood family recipe. It’s mashed potatoes with ingredients you would add to potato salad: hard-boiled eggs, raw onions, fresh parsley, and vinegar. So it eats like mashed potatoes, but tastes like potato salad. I just looked this up online for the first time and I see there are other recipes for mashed potato salad that use mayonnaise and mustard and pickles, but my recipe is simpler. And it’s authentic to my family.

We only ate mashed potato salad twice a year: at Thanksgiving and Christmas. So as I share this with you, it is with fond memories and with love from my holiday table to yours.

I have made this so many times. This actually is my personal version. The version that was handed down to me was made with white onions and white vinegar, served at my great-aunt Ollie’s house in Saratoga, California. She lived in a beautiful house in a forest that she and her husband had built. It was all glass around the exterior so you could see the trees and deer, and had a big round fireplace in the middle with a big copper hood. And these potatoes were always on the table.

After my great-aunt died, holiday dinners were at my father’s house, but we still had mashed potato salad. His new wife wanted to use green onions and she and I would argue about how much vinegar to use. I, of course, thought it should be MY way because the potatoes were from MY family.

And even though i only make mashed potato salad twice a year, it connects me to my roots.



Easy Plant-Based Fat-Free Mushroom Gravy


Most gravies are made using meat or poultry stock and rely on the classic flour-and-fat method to thicken.

But lately I’ve been adding more plants to my diet and wanted to have the option of a plant-based gravy that still had the full flavor of a meal-based gravy.

So I played around with mushrooms last night and came up with something wonderful.

The combination of mushrooms, tamari and coconut aminos is delicious and the arrowroot thickens this gravy nicely without any fat at all.

It’s one of my new favorites.



Basic Grass-Fed Beef Stew with 6 International Variations

Beef Stew

Beef Stew + Sour Cream = Stroganoff

Now that it’s autumn (and since the Autumn Equinox was yesterday, today is the first day when nights are longer than days), I thought it was time to have a warm and cozy recipe.

But this is more than a recipe. It’s a way to cook low and slow on the weekend, and then warm up the same stew every night during the week and have the same food taste different every night. Well, actually, I’m not eating it every night. I put some of it in the freezer in my favorite food storage containers. But whenever I do choose to eat it, I have my choice of different flavors.

Deep NutritionAccording to one of my favorite food books Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, cooking meat low and slow is the way to go. It takes time for nutrition to be released from meat, and for me, there’s nothing more delicious than a good cut of beef cooked until it flakes apart with lots of gravy.

And another important point about eating beef is it must be grass-fed beef. Nowadays most natural food stores sell grass-fed beef, but you can also order it online.

butcherboxRecently I found a great source of delicious grass-fed beef (and organic chicken and heritage-breed pork) online. This is truly the most delicious and best quality meat I’ve ever eaten (I love every bite!), and it costs only about $6 per serving. ButcherBox offers subscriptions for a box of meat to be delivered to your door every month (or two or three). Their meat comes from small family farms where cows graze on a unique blend of ButcherBox grasses. The flavor is phenomenal. ButcherBox grass-fed beef simply tastes better and costs less than grass fed beef sold at natural food stores. I’m going to continue to order from them. [Full disclosure: that’s not ButcherBox beed in the photo. I ate it all up and then realized I hadn’t taken the photo! So I made it again with grass-fed beef from the natural food store, which was delicious but not amazing.]

“Beef stew” exists in one form or another in every cuisine around the world. Here are some ways to vary the flavor of my basic recipe, but you may find more. If you do, please leave a comment so I can taste it too.

American Beef Stew – add cooked carrots, onions, potatoes, and peas.

Russian Stroganoff– add a dollop of grass-fed organic sour cream on top and a sprinkle of paprika and fresh chopped parsley. Mix it together in the bowl.

West African Peanut Stew – OK I have to say after I made this variation, I didn’t even want to try the others, I just wanted to eat this every night. To my 3-ounce portion I added 2 tablespoon of chunky organic peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. Traditionally this stew includes sweet potatoes and greens, so you could add those too if you want.

Indian Curry – The exotic flavors of Indian food is an art to master, but adding a few key spices can turn your beef stew into s fragrant delight. The most basic Indian spices are curry powder, garam masala, ginger,  cumin,  and turmeric, or look for an Indian spice blend.

Italian Ragu – A famous Italian sauce is “ragu,” which is beef and other meats cooked for hours in tomato sauce, until they all break apart. So to my beef stew, the quick version would be to add your favorite organic pasta sauce (in a glass jar), plus extra garlic, basil, or other favorite Italian seasonings. Top with parmesan, ricotta, or mozzarella cheese. Serve over gluten-free pasta or vegetables of your choice.

Hungarian Goulash – As I was working on this recipe this week, I received an email from Saveur magazine for “best beef stew,” which turned out to be goulash, so I had to include it on this list. Just add a lot of sweet paprika to my beef stew recipe and a dollop of sour cream on top.

If you want to thicken the stock that forms during cooking, here are three ways to make gluten-free gravy. The arrowroot option is quick and easy. The others are more delicious.

This recipe combines mushrooms with the beef to give more food without more meat, and to add the richness of the mushroom flavor to the broth.


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Magic Chicken “Fried Rice”

Magic Chicken “Fried Rice”
I call this “magic” chicken “fried rice” because it contains no rice, but tastes just like Chinese restaurant chicken fried rice! It’s so good I eat it fairly often. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare, so it a quick and simple dish to prepare for dinner from leftover roast chicken.

The magic of it is that shredded chicken stands in for the rice. So it becomes a protein dish instead of a carbohydrate dish. I can eat this to my heart’s content. Having lived in or around San Francisco most of my life—where there is a large, established Chinatown, I’m accustomed to eating good Chinese food and love it. Here in Florida, the Chinese food isn’t so great and is full of wheat and sugar. So I make my own.

chinese_dragonI’m giving you this recipe today because a week from Monday is Chinese New Year. We celebrate the new year when the light of the sun begins to make days longer, but the Chinese celebrate the new year when new life begins to return. New Year’s Day is the first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February. This year it’s Monday February 8th.

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Creamy White Bean Soup

Creamy White Bean Soup

Sometimes I just look at the picture of a recipe or read the ingredients and think, “I want to eat that!”

Such was the case with the recipe that inspired this soup, when it arrived in my email inbox from Saveur magazine. It’s been cold here in Florida—finally!—and when I saw that soup, I got up from my desk and put the beans on to soak.

I have been subscribing to Saveur magazine for years—since the very first issue, I think. I love this magazine because it’s about traditional cuisine, the dishes that people create from the food found in the places where they live, which have evolved into a cuisine of place. They travel the world to find these local cuisines, and they inspire me.

This soup is a traditional Italian white bean soup. The original recipe that came in my email included fennel seeds in the soup and sautéed broccoli raab with garlic and red pepper flakes on top.

But I was interested in the bean soup itself, which I immediately saw as a gluten-free, dairy-free creamy base to which could be added any proteins, vegetables, and seasonings.

But I’ll tell you, the soup itself is just delicious.

I made a few tweaks to suit my taste, so it’s no longer authentic, but it’s true to me. And you can make it true to you in whatever way you please.

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Chickpea Mush

Chickpea Mush with organic grassfed butter,
raw organic parmesan cheese, organic roasted tomatoes and red pepper flakes.


I’ve actually been waiting months for it to be autumn so I could give this to you in season. I love this so much and eat it so often and in so many variations that I know the recipe by heart.

It gives you a nice warm full tummy, like oatmeal, but it’s full of protein instead of carbs. You can make it savory or sweet and eat if for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks.

This is simply chickpea (garbanzo) flour, salt, and water, cooked into what my family called a “mush” and Goldilocks called “porridge.” It’s very much like the Italian polenta—which is made from corn—but this is made with chickpeas. It’s not as sweet as corn polenta, but it can be used in place of polenta in pretty much any polenta recipe.

51EDYO-4KLL._SL250_In the photo, I topped the chickpea mush with organic grassfed butter, raw organic parmesan cheese, organic roasted tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and ate that very bowl for lunch.

Today I just want to tell you this exists and how to make it, but then I will have more recipes that use this for you over the autumn and winter.

You should be able to find “garbanzo bean flour” at any natural food store or order from amazon for the best price.

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