Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge + Complete Clean Eating Cookbook Giveaway

Hi friends! Not only do I have a ridiculously delicious recipe for you today, but I also have a fun giveaway!

My friend Laura Ligos (@thesassydietitian), sports dietitian, food blogger and nutrition expert, recently published her first book, The Complete Clean Eating Cookbook… and guys, it’s a good one!

Laura makes eating clean super easy! Inside her book, you’ll find 200 recipes that make clean eating healthy, easy, and delicious (see fudge recipe below). This go-to clean eating cookbook not only gives you advice on what to eat, but also provides important information to make your transition to clean eating smooth. Get nutritional suggestions, know what foods to moderate, and embrace new food group recommendations.

The Complete Clean Eating Cookbook includes:

  • Blueprint for beginners―Kickstart clean eating with three, easy 2-week meal plans that will bring you up to speed.
  • Take five―Master the 5 Core Clean Eating Principles: choose whole foods, limit sugar, mind your portions, drink plenty of water, and move your body.
  • Plenty of food―These 200 recipes in this clean eating cookbook include options for one-pot dishes, 5 ingredients or less, dairy-free, and many more.

If you’re looking for healthy and delicious recipes that will transform your life for the better, then this clean eating cookbook is for you!

More About Laura

Laura Ligos, MBA, RDN, CSSD, is a sports dietitian and online real food blogger, educator, and nutrition expert. She received her bachelor of science degree in Nutrition Sciences from Cornell University. She went on to complete her dietetic internship and master of business administration at Dominican University. As a lifelong athlete, she knew her passion was in sports nutrition as well as teaching people how to cook and build a real food lifestyle. She educates people in her hometown as well as through her blog at thesassydietitian.com and on her Instagram account (@thesassydietitian). Laura is also a CrossFit Level 2 trainer at her local CrossFit gym where she loves coaching her athletes and helping them live an active life through movement and nutrition. She currently resides in Albany, NY, with her husband and her wheaten terrier pup, Bode, who you can see running through sprinklers daily on her Instagram account.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge Recipe

To enter the cookbook giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post about why you’d like to win. I’ll randomly pick a winner next Monday. Good luck!

The post Chocolate-Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge + Complete Clean Eating Cookbook Giveaway appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.

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The Definitive Guide to Tea

Tea can mean a lot of different plants. There’s maté, the bitter South American shrub steeped in boiling water to extract the caffeine-like compounds contained within. There’s rooibos, the “red tea” made from a polyphenol-rich bush native to South Africa. There’s coca, the South American plant also used to make cocaine. There are the unnamed wild bitter root and herb teas used by the Maasai, the evergreen tip teas used by American natives to obtain vitamin C, the nettleleaf teas used across Europe.

For today’s post, I’m focusing on the actual tea plant—Camellia sinensis. All of the classic teas come from the same basic plant; the differences lie in how they’re processed after harvest. Most tea undergoes controlled oxidation to develop flavor and different bioactive compounds. The more oxidized, the darker the tea. The less oxidized, the lighter.

I’m also going to focus on the health benefits of tea, rather than get into the nitty gritty of tea grading, the endless bespoke varieties, the optimum temperature—tea expert stuff. I enjoy tea, but I’m not a connoisseur. I can tell you about the health effects, and I imagine that’s what most of you are here for anyway.

Types Of Tea

Even within “true tea,” there are multiple varieties.

White Tea

White tea is made from tea leaves that are very lightly processed without any oxidation. Studies show that it’s “lower” in antioxidants than green or oolong tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s “worse.”

White tea possesses compounds that inhibit the absorption and digestion of glucose, thereby lowering blood glucose levels.

White tea also shows a unique ability to fight amyloid plaque linked to Alzheimer’s disease (albeit in test tubes, not live people so far).

Green Tea

In Japan, green tea is lightly steamed. In China, it’s quickly toasted under dry heat. The result with each is light oxidation. It has a “grassy” flavor and, in general, the most antioxidant content—the catechins. In one study looking at the antioxidant content and effect of 30 different teas, the top 2 and 6 of the top 10 were green teas.

Most studies find that green tea is associated with the most health benefits among all the teas, but I take that with a grain of salt. For instance in this study, green tea was associated with better health outcomes than black tea among adults in the Mediterranean, but they failed to control for physical activity. Green tea drinkers had more physical activity, which the authors suggest is a benefit of green tea but I suggest is a feature of the “healthy user effect.” Green tea drinkers did more healthy stuff like exercise, while black tea drinkers were less likely.

There are consistent links between green tea and lower cognitive decline. We don’t see this as much in other teas (or coffee, for that matter).

Oolong Tea

Oolong is “halfway between” green tea and black tea: more heavily oxidized than green, less oxidized than black. Oolong also ranks highly for antioxidant content; in that same 30-tea antioxidant study, oolongs took 4 of the top 10 spots.

Black Tea

Black tea is fully-oxidized tea. It’s the highest in caffeine and rich in a class of antioxidants known as theaflavins.

Theaflavins in the 50-100 mg range (4-8 cups of black tea) reduced body fat and increased muscle mass in Japanese women, while green tea catechins had no effect.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea undergoes an additional level of microbial fermentation. It develops intense flavors and unique bioactive compounds.

For example, pu-erh contains alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors that reduce the absorption of dietary glucose and lower blood glucose levels, particularly after eating.

Animal studies show protective effects against metabolic syndrome, hyperglycemia, obesity, and fatty liver. It seems to reduce liver fat, but by a strange mechanism: by increasing de novo lipogenesis (fat creation) in the visceral adipose tissue. Rodents in the study lost weight but gained visceral fat.

Matcha Tea

Matcha green tea is made from powdered, shade-grown tea leaves. Well, “shade-finished” might be a more accurate descriptor; a few weeks before the harvest, matcha-designated tea plants are covered with shade. This slows the growth, sweetens and deepens the flavor, and increases the amino acid content of the leaves (specifically L-theanine). Pulverizing the tea leaves into a powder increases the surface area and makes for a stronger, more potent brew. Plus, when you drink matcha, you’re consuming the leaves and all their polyphenols and amino acids themselves. The powder doesn’t get strained out like normal green tea leaves.

This seems to increase the antioxidant activity. First, there’s more L-theanine available. I’ve discussed the stress-reducing benefits of L-theanine before, but it’s also good against anxiety and pairs well with caffeine (more on that later). Plus, a 2003 study found that the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was 137 times more bioavailable in matcha than a traditional leaf-based green tea, and more than three times as bioavailable as the “largest literature value of other green teas.” My guess is that the increased bioavailability is explained by the fact that you’re consuming the powdered tea itself rather than steeping and discarding the leaves. Another advantage of matcha is that because it’s so potent, you need much less of it, rendering any of the potential downsides of tea, like fluoride content, less troublesome.

(Can you tell that matcha is my favorite?)

The Health Benefits Of Tea

In general, tea is a rich source of bioactive polyphenols with suspected health benefits. Some of the potential anti-cancer effects reported by the study:

Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD): In Korea, drinking more than two cups a day of green tea was linked to lower rates of COPD.

Colon cancer: Among Korean patients who’d had colorectal adenomas (benign tumors) removed, taking green tea extract reduced the recurrence of them at one-year post surgery.

Prostate cancer: In Hong Kong, green tea consumption was linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. However, follow-up controlled trials in men with prostate cancer had mostly null results.

Skin cancer: Among whites, both caffeinated coffee and tea consumption were linked to protection against basal cell carcinoma (although coffee had the stronger relationship).

Most of the cancer studies in humans are merely observational. More interesting are some of the other effects.

Most tea varieties have mild anti-hyperglycemic effects, most likely caused by the ubiquity of substances that inhibit the effect of glucose digesting and absorbing enzymes. In other words, drinking some tea with your meal will generally reduce the amount of carbs you absorb.

Tea polyphenols are among the best at inducing a beneficial hormetic response—the one where your body responds to the presence of “toxins” by upregulating its own defense capabilities and triggering a net beneficial cascade of health effects. It’s up there with coffee, chocolate, and red wine. Green tea, for example, triggers the Nrf2 pathway, causing an increase in glutathione and other antioxidant pathways our bodies use to reduce oxidative stress and nullify reactive oxygen species.

The (Few) Negatives To Look Out For…


I’ve covered fluoride before, and I’m still not sure of it. It seems to have some benefits for topical application to teeth, but systemic ingestion poses problems. For instance, women who consumed the most fluoridated water (and tea) during pregnancy give birth to kids with depressed IQs. Tea is very high in fluoride. The plant itself is quite good at yanking fluoride from the soil, and soil fluoride in tea-producing countries is on the rise due to industrial pollution.

High quality tea made from younger leaves is more likely to be lower in fluoride, since the plant won’t have had as much time to deposit soil fluoride into the leaves. The lowest quality, cheapest brick tea is made from the oldest leaves and will be higher in fluoride.

White tea is generally low in fluoride, since the leaves are picked when still very young. Green, oolong, and black tea leaves all stay on the plant long enough to pick up measurable levels of fluoride.

In Ireland, the only European country with legally mandated water fluoridation, the average fluoride content of brewed tea was 3.3 mg/L, with the highest levels hitting 6 mg/L. Based on Irish tea consumption, the authors suggest that “the majority of the population in Ireland are at risk of chronic fluoride intoxication.”

Organic Japanese-grown matcha green tea is a good option for fluoride minimization, as Japanese soil tends to be quite low in fluoride.


If you use plastic tea bags, your tea will be full of microplastics. Stick to loose leaf or paper tea bags.

 How to Brew It

Okay, so how should you brew your tea?

Duration: If you’re trying to maximize antioxidant extraction, longer is better.

In one study of bagged and loose leaf black tea, longer brew times extracted more antioxidants.

For bagged tea, 5 minutes produced the most antioxidants.

For loose leaf tea, 60 minutes produced maximum extraction. However, the first 10-15 minutes were where the vast majority of antioxidants were obtained. Longer brew times extracted more, but the rate of extraction dropped off a cliff. The difference between 15 minutes of brewing and 60 minutes of brewing probably isn’t enough to justify waiting an hour for your tea.

Water choice: A recent study compared green and black tea brewed with three different waters: tap, bottled, and deionized. Tap water with higher levels of minerals produced the best tasting tea with the lowest amount of antioxidants. Bottled and deionized water with lower levels of minerals extracted the most bitter compounds, leading to a higher antioxidant level but harsher taste.

Water temperature: I’ve read and heard a lot of different “rules” for brewing tea. Some say to “never boil the water.” Others say the opposite. All I know is that I’ve never noticed a big difference—but I’m no expert. What I do know is that both low and higher water temperatures seem to extract and preserve a good amount of antioxidant content:

In the black tea study above, they used water at 80 degrees C or 176 degrees F. That’s well below boiling.

In the study comparing 30 varieties of green, black, oolong, white, and pu-erh teas, they used water at 98 degrees C or 208 degrees F. That’s almost boiling.

A Few Ways To Enjoy It

Collagen Matcha Latte: Read this post for directions.

Coffee Matcha: Sometimes I’ll make a batch of French press coffee and throw a spoonful of matcha powder in with the grounds. I’ll add some hot heavy cream to the brew. This is a great way to get caffeine and L-theanine at once, a synergistic combo shown to improve cognitive performance. Many find that theanine takes the jitter away from the caffeine buzz.

Creamy Turmeric Tea: Read this post, and add some black tea.

And…I’ve got a couple new ways that takes the work out of the above. For those looking to get out the door quickly in the morning, tea in hand, check out the new Primal Kitchen® Matcha Keto Collagen Latte and Chai Keto Collagen Latte. I’m excited about them. Let me know what you think.

Summing It Up

Like everything else, tea is no super-substance that will save you from cancer, diabetes, and obesity. But it’s a drink that’s consistently (and sometimes causally) associated with better overall health, has a long tradition of usage, and can complement an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle. All teas appear to have some benefits, so drink what you like most.

What kind of tea do you drink? How do you make it? How do you take it?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!


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Mashed Cauliflower vs Mashed Potatoes

aka Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes that you actually want to eat!

Cauliflower is so popular these days – I’ve seen it in everything from crackers to pizza crust. One of my favorite cauliflower recipes has been the Whole Foods version where it’s roasted with curry and peas. That is until I tried Della’s cauliflower mash!! It is DELLA-icious. Her trick is to use half cauliflower and half potatoes, plus herbs, real butter and half and half for a rich flavor. I promise: this is a cauliflower-potato mash that you will actually want to eat.

Mashed Cauliflower vs Mashed Potatoes

Why use cauliflower at all? Nutritionally speaking, the more diversity you have in your diet the better. So having both cauliflower and potatoes together is better than just potatoes. In fact, the World’s Healthiest Foods recommends eating 3/4 – 1 cup or more of cruciferous vegetables per day. (I can’t say that I meet that goal daily!) Cauliflower, as a cruciferous vegetable, has phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which support multiple of our body’s systems, and antioxidants. Don’t be fooled by its white color – cauliflower is just as rich in phytonutrients as its green cousins. (source).

Cauliflower v Potato Nutrition Facts

Nutritionally, cauliflower is lighter in calories and carbs than potatoes and is more nutrient dense. That’s why it’s popular among the low carb and weight loss communities. Here’s a side by side comparison of cooked cauliflower versus potatoes:


  • 1 cup, cooked
  • 29 calories
  • 5 grams carbs
  • 2.25 grams protein
  • 2.5 grams fiber
  • Glycemic index: very low
  • Excellent source of vitamin C, K, folate, B6 and pantothenic acid


  • 1 cup, cooked
  • 161 calories
  • 36 grams carbs
  • 4 grams protein
  • 3.8 grams fiber
  • Glycemic index: high
  • Excellent source of nothing, but very good source of vitamin B6!

Next to one another, cauliflower has a more impressive nutritional resume and is a bit more gentle on the blood sugar, but potatoes are still considered one of the world’s healthiest foods! And they are delicious – who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?! They contain the phytonutrients carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, and the vitamins and minerals they contain all contribute to overall good health. (Source)

Consider this recipe a combination of the rich flavor of mashed potatoes enhanced with the nutritional powerhouse of cauliflower.

How To Make Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

This cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe makes a great side dish whenever you’d normally serve mashed taters, and you can jazz it up even more with sour cream or gravy if you fancy. If your goal is a healthy family I bet they won’t even know there is cauliflower involved. Note you could probably use an instant pot, but I haven’t tested it that way!

Ingredients you will need
  • 4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 12 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
1. Boil potatoes in bite-size pieces until fork tender and drain.
2. In same pot, steam cauliflower rice in a metal colander to preserve nutrients

3. When cauliflower is tender, dump water from pot and add cauliflower, potatoes, broth, cream. Add butter, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer.

4. Using an immersion blender, blend and simmer until desired texture is reached. You could also use a food processor.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

This blend of cauliflower and mashed potatoes makes a great side dish whenever you’d normally serve mashed taters.

  • 4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 12 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Boil potatoes in bite-size pieces until fork tender and drain.
  2. In same pot, steam cauliflower rice in a metal colander to preserve nutrients
  3. When cauliflower is tender, dump water from pot and add cauliflower, potatoes, broth, cream. Add butter, herbs, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend and simmer until desired texture is reached.

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Vegan Pizza Dough with Chickpea Flour

This vegan pizza dough recipe uses chickpea flour, for a delicious and healthier pizza crust. In addition to being vegan, it’s a gluten free pizza crust recipe that’s quick and easy to make!

Have you ever tried socca? It’s a chickpea dough that can be baked into a flatbread, gluten free pizza crust, or even taco shells, depending on how thick you make it. It’s fabulous stuff that will handle a variety of seasonings.

This vegan pizza dough recipe makes a delicious, healthier pizza crust with chickpea flour. A gluten free pizza crust that everyone loves!

The last time I made socca I used it simply as a flatbread. But when pizza night came up for me and my little guy, I knew I could just play around with the spices a bit to create a delicious gluten free pizza crust recipe instead. So that’s exactly what I did. As a result, I now have a new favorite healthier pizza crust!

An overhead view of this Vegan Pizza Dough with all it's toppings. You can see arugula, red peppers, purple onions and the creamy yellow of the vegan cheese.


The structure of chickpea flour pizza crust isn’t any different than any other gluten free pizza crust. It’s sturdy enough to hold all of the toppings you want to add to it. Here are my favorites:

  • vegan cheese
  • mushrooms
  • red bell peppers
  • red onions
  • fresh arugula

All of the toppings except for the arugula are added to the pizza before baking. After baking, top the pizza with some fresh arugula. Totally yum!!! This is definitely going to be my go-to vegan pizza dough recipe from this point forward.

This vegan pizza dough recipe makes a delicious, healthier pizza crust with chickpea flour. A gluten free pizza crust that everyone loves!


The pizza crust in this video is made with chickpea flatbread, but there are different spices in it. You may recognize the video from my chickpea flatbread recipe. I’m including the video here so you can see the basic technique of how to make a healthier pizza crust using chickpea flour. Do NOT follow the ingredient list in the video! This video is to show technique only.




Copyright information for Last Minute Vegan


Vegan Pizza Dough with Chickpea Flour

This vegan pizza dough recipe uses chickpea flour, for a healthier pizza crust that everyone loves.

  • 1 1/4 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning ((see link above to make your own))
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. oil ((divided))
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together everything except 1 tbsp. of oil until you have a nice, smooth batter.

  2. Warm that last tablespoon of oil in a large, cast iron pan (about 10 inches).

  3. Pour in the batter and cook this like you would a pancake. The crust will be thick, but it needs to be to hold all those toppings and sauce. This is definitely not a thin-crust pizza!

  4. Cook on both sides until they are well browned and then remove the pan from the heat.

  5. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  6. Ladle the sauce over the crust and add whatever toppings you'd like to use.

  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the toppings are fully cooked to your liking.

  8. Slice and enjoy!

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. Data does not include any toppings.

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