Chocolate Donut Coffee Pops

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If you recall, I created quite the buzz in the 4th of July when I teamed up with Tito’s Vodka to create these Cocoberry Vodka Pops. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of popsicle recipe than can rival the great vodka pops, but no luck…

…and then it came to me. People like alcohol and popsicles, but what else do they like? Coffee and popsicles. With donuts. And Chocolate.  So, I created these: the Chocolate Donut Coffee Pops.


Truly, I couldn’t have done it without Flavor God’s Chocolate Donut Seasoning, which you definitely need to buy right now. No, really, it sells out really fast. It is integral to making these popsicles, but also integral to making everything else all kinds of wonderful. (Like Chocolate Donut Seasoning on waffles, and on cookies, and in coffee, and not to be redundant….but on chocolate donuts.) I am also amazed because all the ingredients in the Chocolate Donut Seasoning don’t even seem like they should taste like a chocolate donut. BUT THEY DO.

On a totally related note, you definitely need to make these popsicles right. Now. Why? Because the beginning of the school year is coming up and I know all you readers with kiddos heading back to school need something to fuel you through the insanely early mornings. (Why do most schools start at 7:30? Whhhyyy?)

Oh! And kids can’t eat these. Nope. Why? Because they are filled with COFFEE. And chocolate donuts. But they don’t need to know that last part.

I think I’m onto something with this adult-only popsicle trend.

Some cook’s notes:

  • If you cannot get your hands on the elusive Chocolate Donut seasoning, you can swap out the seasoning with 2 tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder and 2 tbsp. coconut sugar. These won’t be chocolate donut popsicles, but they will be chocolate coffee popsicles at the least.
  • The butter and MCT oil is essentially the recipe for bulletproof coffee (fatty coffee), but now obviously in popsicle form.

Chocolate Donut Coffee Popsicles

Makes 8 popsicles

  • 18 oz. freshly brewed coffee
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate donut seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. MCT oil
  • 3 tbsp. grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised butter
  1. In a blender, blend all ingredients.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, and let freeze for at least 6 hours. 





Paleo Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bread Brie Grilled Cheese with Chocolate Drizzle

Its February, that means that all of you who are did the Whole 30 in January are done, and its a good time to treat yourself. Also, Valentines Day is just in a couple days, so its a great time to treat yourself and your special Valentines Day friend.

Now that Ive pretty much convinced you to eat some chocolate, I have the best recipe for you. The best.

Yes. That's right. I took The Civilized Caveman's and PaleOMG's Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bread recipe and turned it into grilled cheese.

But not just any grilled cheese.

Grilled cheese with Brie and chocolate drizzle.

I know, Brie is not paleo. It just isn't. But I think I've been honest with you all in my journey with a paleo diet and my own personal flexibility in allowing some cheese and wine. And sometimes sprinkles. (Life's too short.)

So guys, you need to make this. Its deeeelicious, and I'm not just saying that because not only do I love George and Juli's blogs (I feel like I know them but I really don't. Creeeeper.), but I really just love banana bread and chocolate and cheese, which is like all of these things combined. George has let me share his banana bread recipe with you all, so make sure to go check out his page.

Once you try this, let me know how it goes! Perfect Valentines Day treat? Pretty much.



Paleo Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bread Brie Grilled Cheese with Chocolate Drizzle

Serves 4

  1. Slice banana bread into 8, 1-inch thick slices. Slice carefully so they do not crumble during the grilling process.
  2. Slice Brie into 8, 1-oz. sized pieces.
  3. In a skillet, heat butter. Place slices of bread into heated butter in skillet and let toast for  about 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Once all slices have been toasted, remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Assemble sandwiches by placing 2 pieces of brie in between 2 slices of bread.
  6. Place each sandwich on heated skillet and grill each side for about 3 minutes, watching closely so bread doesnt burn. Cheese should be completely melted.
  7. Place chocolate in a double boiler and melt. Drizzle over sandwiches and serve immediately.  





Merry Christmas and a Special Sweet Holiday Treat!

Merry Christmas!

Down here in New Mexico, I've pretty much given up on any hope of White Christmas this year. I guess thats what I get for picking up one day and suddenly moving to the southwest.

I actually don't know what to do with myself. I've never had a Christmas without snow or cold weather (my whole life has been in Chicago, Iowa, or D.C.) except for the one year my family was in Costa Rica for the holidays. With the exclusion of that year spent in Central America, even when we travel, the cold weather seems to follow us. In 2010, we spent Christmas in South Beach, where there were lows around the 60s that sent Miami residents running to buy parkas and sent my grandma and I to lounge on the beach in our swimsuits.

So here I am, basking in the southwest sunshine in a bit of a confused haze. The past couple weeks, I've been celebrating Christmas the only way I know how: by listening to Christmas music, decorating the tree, watching Love Actually, drinking paleo hot chocolate, and lighting lots of fires in the fireplace, subsequently making my house really really hot.

There's one other thing though.

I've been eating a lot of ice cream, since temperatures aren't in the teens like I'm used to. Ice cream in December? So much better than Ice cream in July. Out with the old Christmas sugar cookies, in with the new..... ice cream.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Paleo Chocolate "Ice Cream" with Peppermint Mocha Marshmallow Swirl

  • 1 recipe of your favorite chocolate ice cream recipe (I like this one…because its mine ;) )
  • ¾ cup peppermint-mocha marshmallow fluff *
  1. Follow directions to make ice cream according to your recipe.
  2. Once ice cream mixture is ready, place in your ice cream maker and churn to your manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Watch churning ice cream slowly, and as ice cream starts to harden, add your marshmallow fluff in ¼ cup increments as mixer is still turning.
  4. Once ice cream is finished churning, scoop out and place in an airtight container.
  5. Put ice cream in freezer and let harden for about 2-3 more hours, at least, before eat.

*Marshmallow fluff is derived from making the peppermint-mocha marshmallow recipe, and instead of letting the fluff set (to turn into marshmallows), use the fluff immediately to mix into this ice cream recipe.








Southwest Adventures and Peppermint Mocha Marshmallows

In the beginning of December, two of my coworkers, a fellow SLP and a PT doctoral student, dragged me to Carlsbad Caverns in the Southeast portion of New Mexico. Perhaps “dragged” isn’t necessarily the appropriate term, but they definitely needed to cajole me to wake up at 7am on a Sunday to drive 3 ½ hours each way the morning after our open bar work holiday party.

One of the factors in my decision to move to the NM was to be able to explore a quadrant of the country that I haven’t seen much of. After moving, I started off my explorations strong, but then quickly faded as work piled on more tasks and the holiday season set in. In the end, I was really glad they convinced me to go to the caverns.

Carlsbad was amazing: it is the western hemisphere’s largest cave, and its largest room is about 4,000 feet long by 625 feet wide. There are actually two known caverns within the cave: an upper cavern open to the public, and a lower cavern that has been preserved for research and is only available to scientists by permit. They are still discovering offshoots and rooms with the cavern, which was first estimated to discovered in 1898. (Although it is still not known if Native Americans knew about the cave sooner.) My favorite recent discovery story is that of the Halloween Cavern, which was discovered accidentially by a balloon on Halloween, therefore inspiring it’s name.

No worries, we actually did not touch any of the cave in this picture. (Its one of those optical illusion pictures.)

No worries, we actually did not touch any of the cave in this picture. (Its one of those optical illusion pictures.)

I’ve explored several caverns throughout my life before, but Carlsbad was by far the best. It is the most decorated cavern I’ve been to, meaning that there are stalagmites and stalagtites galore; there are dots of water pools, rock windows with views of smaller rooms, pockets illuminated like passageways, and even a whimsical area called Fairyland. Venturing into Carlsbad is like entering a different world. While touring the cavern my friends and I were trying to create descriptions to describe the sights: “the Middle East”, “The Moon”, “a fossiled coral reef”, were all thrown out but quickly abandoned simply because there just are no adequate words.

Since we went in winter, there weren’t any crowds, which turned out to be eerie. To enter the cave, you can either take the elevator down or walk the winding path that slowly descends into the natural mouth of the cave, switching back and winding through and around boulders and growths and moss-covered rocks. The day we went, we chose to walk down, and since we were one of the few groups of people there, our voices echoed as the three of us descended into the quickly engulfing darkness. If not for the lights along the path, it was evident that we would have been in complete and total darkness within 3 minutes of entering the cave.

The natural mouth of the caverns from above.

The natural mouth of the caverns from above.


The natural mouth of the cave, but this time, looking up from total darkness. 

The natural mouth of the cave, but this time, looking up from total darkness. 


The entrance of the cave is a natural mouth, meaning that the ground naturally opened up into an entrance, or in summer, a grand exit. It is estimated that Carslbad Caverns is home to an estimated hald a million bats, and at dusk in summer, they exit in flocks through the natural mouth, creating clouds of flying creatues swirling and dipping through the sky on their way to hunt. I’ve linked a video of this here from a user on YouTube so you can see this magnificnent show; unfortunately the bats had already migrated to warmer Mexican locales by the time of our winter visit, so I did not see the bat show first hand. I’ve already decided, however, that I will be back to see the nightly mass exodus when the bats return to their home in spring.

The caverns, amazingly, keep a stable 57 degrees year round. My fellow SLP, Alexa, told me that in summer, the caves are refreshingly cool: the cave’s placement within the Guadalupe mountain ranges on the border of southeast New Mexico and rural Texas, in the middle of a vast stretch between the middle of nothing, desert, and borderlands, creates soaring and dry temperatures in summer. Alexa explained that visiting the caves in summer is like a little cool oasis, and the constant humidity of 90% underground is refreshing. Even when we visited in winter, the humidity in the air felt cool and comforting: after living in the desert, suddenly stepping into a room of sorts with moisture in the air is novel and refreshing.

Our timing to visit the caves was incredibly appropriate. As much as I love working with kids, trying to gather their attention and cultivate growth during the time period after Thanksgiving and before winter break is incredibly grappling, difficult, and taxing. Those few weeks between each holiday are really exhausting, and I’m sure everyone can relate. In the past, I have plowed through the holidays with constant stream of coffee and a candy induced sugar high, but I’ve since realized that that is not sustainable for long. Instead of creating burnout that takes weeks of solitude and relaxation to recover from, I’ve decided to boycott that entirely. No more gathering willpower to muscle through our self-induced periods of stress and anxiety; its just not a way to live. This holiday season, and hopefully for every one after, I’ve decided to make time to take breaks, to explore to recharge, just like I did in Carlsbad Caverns, and to take time for the activities that I really, truly enjoy engaging in.

I challenge you all, this holiday season, to take the time to do whatever is you need to do for yourself: whether that is reading a book, taking a road trip, or spending all day in the kitchen decorating holiday cookies. Recharging is important, and necessary for a well-cultivated, enjoyable, and productive life.

So what will I be doing in the coming weeks to recharge? Dreaming of Carlsbad Caverns, mapping the rest of my Southwest adventures, and curling up with a good book and a mug of these holiday-inspired Peppermint Marshmallows. (I just can’t get enough!)

Happy Holidays.



Paleo Peppermint-Mocha Marshmallows

  • 3.5 oz. high quality, dark chocolate
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 3 tbsp. powdered beef gelatin
  • 3 tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • ¾ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • Tapioca Starch, for dusting
  • In a large bowl, mix all powdered beef gelatin with ½ cup water. Let set for at least 10 minutes to soften.
  1. In an 8x8 baking pan, line with parchment paper. Dust bottoms and sides with a small amount of tapioca starch. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine remaining water, vanilla, peppermint extract, coffee granules, and coconut sugar. Stir and then bring to a medium simmer, then immediately reduce heat so mixture has only occasional bubbles. Let heat for approximately 10 minutes longer, until mixture is thoroughly heated and all coconut sugar has dissolved. Mixture will be a dark amber color.
  3. Add ¼ saucepan mixture to bowl with softened gelatin. Turn on mixer and beat on medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add second ¼ of saucepan mixture and continue to beat on medium-high heat. Repeat process until all saucepan mixture is used.
  4. Once all of saucepan mixture has been added into the mixer bowl, increase mixer to high speed (setting #8 on a Kitchenaid stand mixer) and beat for about 3 minutes, then on highest speed (Setting #10 on a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) for about 4-5 minutes more. Marshmallows will be done when they have the viscosity of marshmallow fluff. Be careful not to over mix, as they will become too springy and difficult to handle.
  5. Using a spatula, pour the marshmallows into your prepared baking pan and gently shake until they are level. Dust the top once more with tapioca starch, and then place another strip of parchment paper over the top of the marshmallows for evenness and protection.
  6. Store pan of marshmallows in a cool, dry spot for approximately 4-6 hours, or even overnight, to let set.
  7. Once set, remove top strip of parchment paper, and lift marshmallows out of pan by pulling out the parchment paper. Cut marshmallows into evenly sized squares.
  8. In a small bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in between to avoid scalding or burning. (You could also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate, if that is your preference.) 










Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte with Chocolate-Dunked Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows <3

After I made this drink and shot the photos of this drink, I couldn't stop staring at them. It was love at first sight. And sight. And sight. And....

Before I was Paleo, especially in college, I was an avid fan of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I even worked at Starbucks for 3 years, and in that time, I learned to love every drink, but especially the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was working at Starbucks from 2006-2009, which is when the PSL really started picking up steam. Even back then, my coworkers and I all saw the signs that this was going drink was going to have a cult-like following. While working at Starbucks in college, I often would pick up the shifts that no one wanted: the 4am open, the 11pm close. I was in college, had endless energy, needed the money, and never really adjusted back to a "regular" sleep schedule.

During these frequent clopens, I would often just stay up, because it didn't make much sense to me to go home and sleep for maybe 2 hours before I would have to be wide awake and perky; after all, there was literally an endless supply of coffee at work.

Our first indication at Starbucks that the PSL was going to be scarily huge was when on the first day of the PSL season. At 4am, there was a line of cars wanting their first PSL of the season....and we didn't open until 4:30. Meaning that several people woke up sometime before 4am to make sure they were the first ones to get their PSL fix. No big deal, you crazies. No. Big. Deal.

I eventually tired of the iconic Starbucks PSL: the high sugar content and 20-ingredient list eventually started to wreak havoc on my stomach. However, I still do crave the pumpkiny drink from time to time. On another note, have you thought about the fact that pumpkin is a squash? Which means that the PSL is essentially Squash Coffee. Perfection in a glass. Mmmmmhmmmmm.

There are 100 Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte's out there, but I really wanted to make my own variation on this iconic drink, and I'm pretty sure I did just that. Instead of milk, I used a combination of both almond milk and coconut cream. This combination ensures that this PSL doesn't taste too "coconutty", as coconut milk drinks can often be, and the almond milk also has a thinner consistency which is important for ensuring that this drink is not pudding-like since it does use real pumpkin puree for flavoring.

The real kicker of this drink? Its topped with melted chocolate and Chocolate-Dunked Pumpkin Spiced Marshmallows. Yep. Its pretty great, so make sure to drink up these last days of fall. (Ha! Pun in.ten.ded.)


Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte with Chocolate-Dunked Pumpkin Spiced Marshmallows

Serves 2

  1. Combine coconut cream, unsweetened almond milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and pumpkin spice in a large saucepan and heat on medium heat until bubbly and all ingredients are well incorporated. Make sure to watch closely and stir to ensure that the mixture does not become scalded.
  2. In a small bowl, melt chocolate. (I use the microwave by watching closely and stopping every 10 seconds, but the correct way to do it is by using a double boiler.)
  3. Once chocolate it melted, dip two mugs, upside down, in the chocolate to rim the edges of the cups with the melted dark chocolate. Dust with pumpkin spice, then set the mugs aside.
  4. Brew coffee, and then pour coffee into a blender.
  5. Once thoroughly heated, carefully pour the saucepan contents into the same blender with the coffee. Blend on high for 2 minutes.
  6. Pour your pumpkin spice lattes into your prepared mugs, and top with pumpkin spiced marshmallows.




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Not ready for pumpkin spice to end...

Its cold.

Like, really cold. And yes, I realize I am saying this as a Chicago girl who is now living in a climate where the average temperature in winter is 50 degrees, but its been getting down to 25 degrees overnight and in the early morning here. Which is chilly, but then our heater broke….

…which means that it is probably 40 degrees in the house in the morning. As one of my coworkers would say, “When it pours, it rains”. Or in this case, maybe snow.

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Trying to wake up for early morning Crossfit workouts when it is 40 degrees inside the house is really hard. Really really hard. I’ve started walking around the house with a down comforter wrapped around me, kind of like a red-headed big foot lookalike, while guzzling coffee before the air temperatures make my brew cold. At that point, since I’m all wrapped up in a blanket, drinking coffee, I naturally start reading the news and browsing on Pinterest and going through articles on Flipboard; I’ve realized that those moments in the morning are sometimes the only time during the day where my mind isn’t running a million miles a minute trying to catch up with all the things I have to do. Its blissful, those calm morning moments, even if they are cold.

I will say, however, that this cold weather is really making the holiday season seem more imminent. I realize that the holidays have been imminent for awhile, but now it finally seems appropriate to see Thanksgiving displays and Christmas lights at the stores and on my neighbor’s houses. Its also made me realize that its time to start saying goodbye to fall, even though I realize that these plummeting temperatures around most of the U.S. has made fall seem like forever ago, and that winter started early this year.

To celebrate fall, I vote we try to enjoy pumpkin spice at least a few more times before Thanksgiving comes and goes. After all, I think everyone knows that Black Friday indicates the start of the winter holiday season, and after that, its goodbye pumpkin spice and hello peppermint. (Not that I’m complaining!)  Now, I give you one more pumpkin spice recipe that definitely deserves a little sliver in your pumpkin loving heart, and would make a great addition to the dessert table at Thanksgiving or alongside a nice steaming cup of tea or coffee during these chilly mornings.


Paleo Chocolate Swirled Pumpkin Banana Bread

Makes 8 servings

For the pumpkin bread:

  • 15 oz  pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp. primal friendly pumpkin spice
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. grass-fed butter, melted
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/s tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Nonstick coconut oil or olive oil spray

For the Chocolate swirl:

  • 2 tbsp. grassfed butter
  • ½ cup high quality, dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, coconut sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add pumpkin spice and continue to mix.
  2. Add in almond butter slowly, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  3. Add coconut flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Grease a bread pan with nonstick spray, and add batter to the pan.
  5. Make chocolate swirl by combining honey, chocolate, and butter in a small bowl and microwaving in 10 second intervals until chocolate has melted. Stir to ensure that everything is mixed together.
  6. Pour chocolate swirl on top of pumpkin bread batter in bread pan.
  7. With a knife, swirl batter with chocolate swirl.
  8. Place bread in oven on middle rack and bake for about 75 minutes.
  9. Bread is done when fragrant a a toothpick comes clean.


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A family tradition, revisited

When my mom was a kid, she coveted these homemade chocolate chip cookies her friend’s mom made regularly. My mom, being a young cookie connoisseur at 7 years, asked for the recipe. Her friend’s mom happily gave it to her, no doubt expecting the young child to lose it within the hour. You can probably see where this is going….

…my mom, in fact, didn’t lose the recipe. Some would probably say that this was just luck, a roll of the dice, that my mom holding onto the recipe just happened by chance. However, I would argue that at a young age, my mom knew that there was something special about these cookies. My mom held onto the special cookie until adulthood, and made the recipe over and over. That cookie recipe became a recipe that we often went through together when I was a young child. She started me young, I suppose, making sure that we made that recipe so much that I had it memorized by the time I started high school. In college, I would bake these cookies eagerly (milkshakes are not what brings all the boys to the yard) for my friends, who were impressed that I was making homemade cookies instead of the break and bake variety so popular among my fellow millennials.  Even now, that cookie recipe is still my favorite, and it has turned into a family classic. Once, my uncle and I stayed up all night together baking a triple batch of these chocolate chip cookies so he could take them home to California with him on his 5am flight. We finished baking them all moments before he had to catch a fast cab to the airport. The cookies were shoved into a bag, still hot, and he when he finally opened the bag on the plane, heads turned and people stared trying to figure out who had captured the delicious aroma of baking cookies on a 5 hour, 5am flight. I’ll take that as a win.

Now, you’re right in assuming that those cookies are not paleo, and are definitely not filled with ingredients that are even remotely healthy. They are filled with all the bad things that we are programmed to love, but are definitely terrible for health, longevity, and our waistlines. This isn’t to say that I don’t make these cookies for myself still as an occasional treat, but I don’t  enjoy them now as much as I used to knowing that these cookies might as well be called grain-bombs for the havoc the wreak on my stomach.

So this is why, I have finally developed a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is not only paleo and primal friendly, but rivals the recipe that my mom and I both lovingly obsessed over as children. (And adults!) It took me over a year to figure out, but guess what? This time, there are no grains, refined sugars, or Crisco allowed. 


Best Ever Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 1 dozen large cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup coconut oil, measured at room temperature (solid)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups white rice flour *
  • 1 cup finely ground cashew flour OR 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup rounded dark chocolate chips (Enjoy life are dairy free)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream eggs, butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a mixer.
  3. Melt solid coconut oil, being careful not to burn or scald. Add to wet ingredient mixture and blend until well incorporated.
  4. Add ¼ cup of the white rice flour and mix well. Add ¼ a cup of nut flour while continuing to mix. Alternate between rice flour and nut flour until full amounts have been added to the mixture. Add in baking soda and baking powder and stir well.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Grease baking sheet and place balls of cookie dough, about 4 inches across, evenly on sheets.
  7. Place cookies on the top rack and bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until golden.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool before eating.

*White rice is technically a grain, but is the only grain that is sometimes accepted in the paleo community. Although it does have a higher carbohydrate content and does not contain much nutritional value, white rice is accepted within the community as a “sometimes food” because it doesn’t contain the negative compounds that other grains do. (#teamwhiterice) Including white rice in a diet is completely up to the individual, but here are some good articles that explain this concept much better than I do:

White rice explained by Primal Toad 

White rice explained by Mark's Daily Apple





Zoe Takes Tastee-Freez

Growing up, I lived approximately 1.5 blocks away from the prized landmark of my small Chicago suburb: Tastee-Freez.

In summer, I would walk with my mom with some change in my pocket to the small, wooden ice cream house, and wait in a line that sometimes stretched three blocks down the street. Families would come to Tastee-Freez after dinner, after a soccer game, before bed, at sunset, after a long day of work, with their grandkids, because it was a Monday, because it didn’t rain that day, because it did rain that day, or because it just seemed like a pretty great idea at the time. (Isn’t any time a good time for ice cream?)  

Grayslake's very own Tastee-Freez

Grayslake's very own Tastee-Freez

My mom and I would wait in line, where I would agonize over what I would order. A vanilla shake? An M&M freeze? A half and half? Sprinkles? Extra sprinkles? (As you can probably guess, my orders almost always consisted of extra sprinkles.) My mom and I would always see someone we knew in line: my classmate, a fellow Girl-Scout, a coworker. One night, my golden retriever Zoe, a free spirit, ran away from our yard and took herself to Tastee-Freez. It wasn’t until the owner of the ice cream shop called our house that we noticed Zoe was missing. We soon learned that our dog had sprinted to the shop, stood on her hind legs, placed her paws on the counter, and stuck her nose in the window as if she was there to order her own hot fudge sundae. They gave her a pup-cup (Vanilla soft-serve in a cup with a dog treat garnish) and lots of love until we came and brought her home.

Doesn't Zoe look innocent?

Doesn't Zoe look innocent?


Revenge is sweet

Revenge is sweet


Zoe in her younger days, about 1 year old.

Zoe in her younger days, about 1 year old.

Tastee-Freez was always a fun journey, and on the last night of summer before the new school year started, my mom would take me to Tastee-Freez where I could have ice cream for dinner; a tradition I continued for myself even through graduate school. Now, ice cream for dinner to me always marks the end of summer. It so gracefully wraps up gobs of free time, the sprinkles of adventure, and the sweetness to be savored until the next summer break rolls around.

In the ice cream for dinner tradition, I present to you my own version of Paleo Death by Chocolate Ice Cream. Its very rich, doesn’t contain dairy, and doesn’t have a speck of refined sugar. I hope you savor this one!


4-Ingredient, Paleo Death by Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes 1 pint of ice cream

Can be stored for up to 30 days in the freezer, but tastes best if consumed within 1 week.

  • 2 cans, or 24 oz. coconut cream
  • 2/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 7 oz. dark chocolate, divided
  1. Combine coconut cream, honey, vanilla, and 4 oz. dark chocolate in a saucepan. Heat on low, whisking constantly, until all ingredients have melted and are combined. Be careful not to scald or burn. It is best to watch your pan very closely.
  2. Remove from heat, and place mixture in a covered bowl. Chill in back of refrigerator for at least 12 hours, until very cold.
  3. Melt remaining chocolate and set aside.
  4. Remove the chocolate ice cream mixture from the fridge and pour into your ice cream maker. Following the manufacturer instructions for your ice cream maker, and churn until mixture has turned into ice cream.
  5. Slowly pour melted chocolate into ice cream while still churning. This will create specks or small chips of hardened chocolate into your ice cream. (Like stracciatella.)
  6. Remove ice cream from maker and enjoy immediately if you enjoy a soft consistency.  Store in an airtight container in freezer if you would like a harder consistency.

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Someone has gotten great at posing for photos.&nbsp;

Someone has gotten great at posing for photos. 


Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?

Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?



Florida is for (Food) Lovers

Readers, I am so sorry. I think it has been the longest I’ve ever gone without writing a post. In the past two weeks, I somehow managed to get stuck working overtime, get stuck in traffic constantly both ways, and successfully evaded my lovely, comfy apartment for 15-hour spans at a time. Ugh. In the middle all of that, I traveled to Florida. Because really, what’s a girl to do when she’s exhausted? Sleep first, of course. Then go to Florida.

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Whoever started the whole "Virginia is for Lovers" trend has never been to Florida. Or maybe they have, and they're bitter that they live in Virginia and not Florida. (Who wouldn't be? I would be.... Although I realize that DC is essentially Virginia without the southern accent and a whole lot of government. Or DC could be Maryland, if that's your choice and you're in love with the Chesapeake and crabs...but whatever, I'm rambling. ) 


One of the best family vacations I've been on was in Miami, where my family descended upon the beach at Christmastime and stayed at the magical modern wonderland that is the Delano. (Hotel of my dreams.) On that Christmas, I sat on the beach and drank a whole bottle of rose champagne in my bikini. Ever since then, my grandmother is convinced that I am on my sweet, sweet bubbly way to alcohol addiction. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Flying next to this lightning storm almost made me pee my pants in-flight, but I did get some incredible iPhone shots.&nbsp;

Flying next to this lightning storm almost made me pee my pants in-flight, but I did get some incredible iPhone shots. 

In my last post, I shared a little of my traveling-while-staying-Paleo tips, so this time, I’m going to expand a little by sharing with you a simple on-the-go Paleo recipe.

It can be a challenge to stay true to Paleo when the people around you don’t follow the same diet, but this particular recipe is so good that your non-Paleo travel companions will try some with you. I promise. In this particular recipe, the protein powder and ground flax seed both pack and travel well in reusable containers, and almond milk and bananas can be purchased nearly anywhere. MCT oil and aloe are a bit trickier to travel with, but they can be disguised as cosmetics in your toiletries bag. (You are so welcome for that tidbit of advice. J )

In addition to traveling, I routinely use this recipe after or before a tough workout, and occasionally on my way to work. It really fills me up, and tastes so decadent even though it has a ton of health boosters in it. I like hemp based proteins the best because I’ve found that it comes from sustainable, natural sources, and it doesn’t give me a stomachache. (Anyone else get stomachaches with conventional protein powder products?) The health benefits of hemp are also pretty impressive.

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the incorporation of flax seed into my diet has cleared up a lot of my residual acne, and has made my skin appear more radiant than any other remedy I've tried. Finally, MCT oil, or medium triglyceride chains, will give your body a great, all natural energy boost that fuels your brain for less brain fog and increased cognition. I'm not an expert on MCT oil, but I have noticed an increase in energy levels such I started supplementing with it. If you do not supplement with MCT oil, you need to start.right.now. And finally: aloe. Aloe is such a great all natural cure for anything from sunburns to acne to reduced inflammation to boosted immunity. It tastes disgusting, but since I've started supplementing with it, I haven't gotten sick. Seriously, there was a week where my work was quarantined with a GI bug. Almost all of the rehab team came down with the bug despite full universal precautions, but I was just fine. (And guess what? It's a succulent. <3333)

This recipe doesn't need all the extra supplements, but isn't supplementing with a chocolate summer-inducing smoothie better than just taking a bunch of pills? Yep, I think so too ;)

Chocolate Health Elixir Smoothie

Makes 1 smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or nut milk of preference. You can use chocolate almond milk for extra chocolatelyness, just make sure it is unsweetened to avoid added sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. alcohol free vanilla extract
  • 1 medium overripe (brown and spotty) banana
  • 1/4 cup chocolate hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 3 tbsp. MCT oil
  • 1 tbsp. aloe plant extract
  • 1/3 cup ice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until ice has broken into small pieces.
  2. Blend until incorporated. (Wasnt that easy?)









Winner winner, cake for dinner (Plus, an exciting announcement!!)

It’s a very exciting in the South of Vanilla kitchen. On a scale of 1-10 I’m elated. So… 15? 20? Maybe even 25. 


Why, you ask? Because….


…we’re getting published!


The book should be out in July sometime, and yours truly will be in it.


Paleo Bakehouse, a Paleo baking company, is raising money for their Kickstarter. They’ve been running their (fantastically delicious) business out of their home, and are looking for a commercial kitchen to get their Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cookies, brownies, and mixes into a store near you. They just can’t keep up with demand as their orders increase and their business grows. As a thank you to their supporters, they’re collecting and publishing recipes in an ebook for distribution. An ebook in which I will be published. A book that is also featuring Civilized Caveman, Living Paleo, Fed & Fit, and a few others. Pinch me. These are all big names in the Paleo community. So…just pinch me.

If you’re interested in supporting Paleo Bakehouse AND getting the ebook, click here. (And if you ever want some fantastic Paleo treats, try some of their cookies. They’re pretty fantastic.)


I started this blog two months ago as a way to document my life, do some writing for stress relief, and to have a place to keep my Paleo recipes organized. I never really expected that I would have followers, fans, or subscribers. I never expected to have people reaching out to me for advice, people posting pictures of the South of Vanilla creations on Instagram. I truly can’t believe it, and I am so thankful to all of you. Really. Thank you.

I am so thankful, in fact, that I decided to make a celebration cake. If any of my fans are nearby, comment/email/Instagram/facebook me to get in contact and I’ll give you a piece. (I’m not joking, I really will.) I will be eating this cake all week until Friday, which is when I’m having a girls night on my rooftop, and the cake will surely be gone after that. (You were warned.)

But really, this cake is awesome. I know I’m biased, but I think I’ve tried out every Paleo cake recipe searching for a cake alternative. I had pretty much given up on sufficient Paleo cake, until I created this lovely masterpiece.

I’m not even going to tell you how many attempts it took me to get this chocolate cake recipe to work. I tried experimenting so many times that I almost gave up. And then, magically, this gorgeous chocolate cake emerged from my oven smelling glorious and decadent. (Cue sound effects here.) I knew immediately just from the smell that it was a winner. I believe they say “winner winner chicken dinner”. I would like to formally change that to “Winner, winner cake for dinner”. Much better.  And realistic.

 

For the cake pictured, I actually doubled the recipe to make a two-layer cake. Doubling this recipe makes a ton of cake, so I don’t recommend it unless you have a big family, a lot of friends, friendly neighbors, or are throwing a party. Even though this cake easily fits into a compact 7-inch pan when baking, do not underestimate its smallish size. It is one dense, very filling, very chocolately cake. (Hope you have a glass of almond milk ready.)


Celebration Chocolate Cake  (HOORAY!)

For Cake:

  • ½ cup light tasting olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. organic grass-fed butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. pink himalyian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbsp. raw honey, melted
  • 1 cup cashew flour
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • Olive oil or coconut oil spray for baking

For Glaze Frosting:

  • ¼ cup raw honey, melted
  • 2 tbsp. powdered egg whites
  • 1 ½ (18 oz.) cans coconut cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional: sprinkles, food dye**

For cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream olive oil, butter, eggs, coconut sugar, salt, honey, and vanilla together.
  3. Add in cashew flour and tapioca flour, beat well.
  4. Add in coconut flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Spray 7-inch round baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Bake for approximately 45 minutes until toothpick comes clean.
  7. While cooling, make frosting.
  8. Frost when cake has completely cooled. The frosting will not hold together if the cake is warm.
  9. When storing, make sure to keep covered in the fridge. The cake can be made a few days before serving, but the frosting should be made the day of or day before serving.

For frosting:

  1. Whip coconut cream, vanilla, and honey together on high speed for 5 minutes. (I used the second highest speed on my KitchenAid.)
  2. When light and fluffy, place bowl in freezer for 10 minutes. Once chilled, whip again on high speed for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in powdered egg whites.
  4. Place in freezer again for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and whip again on high speed.
  6. If desired, add food dye*

This is my mixer. He’s tough, just like a WWII airplane is his limited edition Candy Apple Red finish. He’s also like this plane below. My favorite <3

Missiles are also at the war museum. Hmmmmm….


*For the cake pictured, I doubled this recipe to make two layers.

**Food dye is definitely not Paleo. Dyes are processed, manufactured, and do contain chemicals. For this frosting glaze, I did experiment with natural food dyes, but the viscosity cannot tolerate food dyes such as fruit or vegetable juices for color. These juices make the frosting much too liquidy to stay on the cake.

*** Life’s too short without sprinkles

At this point, I thought my creative frosting idea was just a complete mess

At this point, I thought my creative frosting idea was just a complete mess


For this whimsical frosting job, I divided the frosting into halves. In one half I dyed the frosting blue with exactly 3 drops of food dye, and then frosted the cake. Once that had set, I plopped the white frosting on top and let it very slowly drip down the sides to make the melting effect. Dr. Seuss would be proud.


****My fabulous HOORAY cake topper is from Oh Joy’s Target collection. She has an amazing style, and all of her items for Target are so incredibly priced. Check the line out! And her blog too!




Life's too short (without sprinkles)

I love donuts.

Let’s be honest here….That’s an understatement if there ever was one. 

Donuts combine 3 of my favorite things in a dessert: sweet batter, frosting, and sprinkles. Imagine my dismay when I realized that Paleo cavemen and cavewomen didn’t eat donuts. I’m still waiting for the press release revealing that archaeologists have discovered a primitive deep fryer. Guys, its coming. I know it, only a matter of time.  Then we can rest assured that we re doing our bodies good by piling our plates high with leafy grains, bacon, and donuts. (No wonder the Paleo community gets a bad rep sometimes.)

Donuts are tricky on Paleo. Most Paleo baking uses almond flour, cashew flour, or coconut flour. These are all fantastic grain substitutes, but coconut flour has a coconutty-taste to it, and nut flours can be very dense. They generally don’t lend themselves well to pastries, especially donuts by any means.

My mom shares the same love of donuts with me. As a kid, it was always a special day when she would bring home a dozen donuts from the grocery store. Our favorites were the vanilla cake donuts with chocolate glaze. I would promptly dunk those babies into a cold glass of milk, or if I was feeling really saucy, a chocolate glass of milk. Chocoholic from day one, I swear.

I semi-regularly indulge on donuts, both Paleo and non-Paleo. Naturally, the week I decided to take the Paleo plunge, a Dunkin Donuts opened up 2 blocks from my apartment…. On one of my favorite running routes. Naturally. I also work a quarter of a mile next to a Maryland based grocery store that has quite possibly the best donuts I have ever had. Another irony? The nurses at my work are just as obsessed with donuts as I am. They bring in a dozen at least a week, and they are always offering me one. Life, you are a funny, ironic beast.

A subtle message from my lovely German grandmother

A subtle message from my lovely German grandmother

What I really want to share with you is this Paleo chocolate donut recipe that is more donut-y than other Paleo recipes I’ve tried out. The outside edges are a little crispy, and the inside is still soft.  They’re a little labor intensive, especially since this recipe only makes half a dozen, but I think the donut lover inside of all of us realizes that art takes time. I’m still working on perfecting the Paleo donut frosting, but I decided to post anyway because I was just too excited. Hope you enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Paleo Donuts

For the donuts:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter
  • ¼ cup coconut milk kefir (or just regular coconut milk)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Dash of sea salt

For the glaze:

  • ½ bar dark chocolate
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. powdered egg whites
  • Chocolate sprinkles, if desired*

For frying:

  • About ½ cup coconut oil

To Make the Donuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the eggs and sugar, beat with a mixer.
  3. Add butter, coconut kefir, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla, mix again.
  4. Add in the tapioca starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and mix again with a mixer until everything is mixed well.
  5. Add cocoa powder, mix again.
  6. Add the  coconut flour, and mix until just incorporated. You batter should still be liquidy.
  7. Pour batter into donut pan, you should have 6 very full donut molds.
  8. Bake in middle rack at 350 degrees for 17 minutes. Donuts should be set in their donuty shape, but when a toothpick is inserted, it should not come out completely clean.
  9. Once donuts have cooled enough to safely remove from the baking pan, heat coconut oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is melted, place 2-3 donuts at a time in frying pan. Fry each side of each donut foe 2-3 minutes, until each side is crispy. Repeat until all donuts are fried. Watch your donuts closely here, they can burn very fast.
  10. Let dry on paper towels. While drying/cooling, prepare you frosting.

To Make the Glaze:

  1. To create the chocolate glaze, melt chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl. You can do this using a double boiler, but I went the easy way and just did it in a microwave.
  2. Once almost cooled, stir in the powdered egg whites.
  3. Using a fork, dip one side of each donut into the bowl with the glaze. Place onto baking racks to dry. Add sprinkles, if desired.

*The sprinkles aren’t Paleo. Life’s too short.

** Because the glaze is made with coconut oil, it will melt at warm temperatures. Be mindful of this when storing your treats. 

Never Woulda Guessed

I don't know about you, but I love a good biscotti in the morning with my coffee. (AKA a legit reason to eat dessert for breakfast. The Italians know where its at.) I find this especially luxurious on weekend mornings, and sometimes I'll wake up earlier than I have to during the week to ensure I can enjoy some morning coffee bliss before the start of my inevitably chaotic day. I've especially enjoyed my coffee these past couple weeks with visitors from out of town, cherry blossoms in full bloom, and sunshine streaming in through the windows:




I realized a little bit ago that the biscotti I have had over the last few months was me actually veering off of Paleo, and there really wasn't a reason as to why. After a few test batches (and some sticky, messy Paleo failures) I created this Paleo biscotti recipe, and in my taste-tester's words: "I never woulda guessed":  

Paleo Dark Chocolate Speckled Biscotti

Makes 4 medium sized loaves of biscotti

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cups Cashew flour
  • 4 tbsp Coconut flour
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate


  1. Cream butter, vanilla, and eggs together until just mixed. Add coconut sugar and beat again until blended.
  2. Add in almond flour and cashew flour, alternating flour types in 1/4 cup intervals while still mixing.
  3. Add coconut flour, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure that the coconut flour is well incorporated.
  4. Add rice flour and mix well.
  5. Add in chocolate and mix until incorporated.
  6. Divide batter into 4 equal sections.
  7. Spray a baking sheet with olive-oil or coconut-oil spray. Form each dough portion into a loaf on the pan and press down to ensure that all loaves are are 3 inches thick and about 7 inches long. You probably will need two pans.
  8. Bake loaves at 350 for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove biscotti from oven, lower oven temperature to 200 degrees, and let biscotti cool for about 10 minutes.
  10. Once slightly cooled, very carefully slice biscotti into 2 inch sections. Then slightly separate pieces by creating a few centimeters of breathing room between each piece.
  11. Place biscotti back in oven on middle rack and bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour.
  12. Remove and enjoy with coffee!



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*Note: This recipe makes an enormous amount of biscotti. If you're like me, an enormous quantity is perfect to have on hand. If not, set some of the batter aside and freeze it in an airtight container and thaw when you're ready to bake it. (Or I can imagine that you can just halve the recipe.)

** Baking for so long on a low heat dries the biscotti, making sure that it becomes very crisp. If you do not want dry biscotti, just shorten the second baking time a bit.

***Since this recipe uses white rice flour, the rice in this biscotti will count as a starch (not a grain!). Make sure to take note of this, especially if you are following a strict Paleo diet. 

Was St. Patrick Paleo?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Normally, I would say what a great spring holiday it is, but here in DC, its miserable. Overnight, it snowed up to 10 inches in some places, effectively shutting the city down for the 10th snow day since January. I even got stranded in Houston overnight on my way back from my weekend trip to New Mexico, although to be honest, I didn’t mind- it extended my time in the sunshine just a little bit more. I literally went from this beautiful southwestern weather:

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To this:

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Ugh. Take me back.



I'll be the first to admit it: I have a serious sweet tooth. Scratch that- I have a serious chocolate tooth. Forget sugar, just give me chocolate. (Unless, of course, you have some German-quality Gummy Bears, then you can give me those...in addition to the chocolate.) I also have serious mint cravings. Mint chocolate chip ice cream and I go way back. Shamrock Shake season at McDonald’s used to be my favorite. It was my favorite up until I realized that every time I ate one, I felt so incredibly sick. Somewhere along the line, I put two and two together and figured if I something was making me feel sick, I shouldn’t put it in my body. Also, I'm a little creeped out by just how green those things are. So there’s that.

When I switched over to Paleo, I was worried about not being able to enjoy the *ahem* sweeter things in life. Giving up grains? No problem? Processed foods? No problem. (Good riddance.) Most of dairy, starches, and limiting fruit? No problem. Desserts? Problem.  BIG problem.

A lot of my Paleo recipes and experiments focus on desserts, mostly because its what I really enjoy. When I first switched to Paleo, I tried to replace all the foods I had favored throughout my life with Paleo friendly versions of them: almond flour pizza crust, coconut flour cupcakes, cashew flour cookies, almond butter banana bread. These are great alternatives, don't get me wrong, but I quickly learned that even these replacements should be limited. Although lots of these recipes follow the Paleo formula, the focus really should be on consuming vegetables, healthy fats, and animal proteins. These are the things that combine together to create optimal health, immunity, and energy.  Paleo baking recipes are wonderful treats, but should you really be consuming the 100 almonds that have been crushed to make that almond meal pizza crust? The 30 cashews that have been crushed to make the batter in that single Paleo cupcake? Probably not- diets should be more balanced, even if it still is Paleo.

So after a few months of Paleo baking my little heart out, and finally realizing that I can't exist off of almond flour everything, and realized that I needed to start approaching pleasing my sweet tooth in a different way. Eventually, I came to this recipe. Actually, I didn't really come to it, a friend of mine asked me one day: "So have you tried Chia Seed Pudding?".

What? Chia Seed Pudding? What? I hadn't heard of it, but she immediately listed off a recipe, and ensured that it was "the best". This girl knows her stuff. and she really nailed it on this seed pudding thing. Chia Seed Pudding is so easy, has only a few ingredients, and can be flavored probably 100 different ways. It really is the best. (Thanks Kathy!)

Since it is St. Patrick's Day, I festively flavored this pudding version with mint. If you don't like mint, just leave it out, and you'll have chocolate. I've also listed some varieties below if you would like to try out a different pudding flavor.


Shamrock Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

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  • 16 oz. canned coconut cream (canned coconut milk will work too)
  • 2 tbsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 11/2 tsp. mint extract
  • 4 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 7 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. melted raw honey
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then serve.
  3. Really, that's it. 

 

Variations:

  • Mint Cream: omit the cocoa powder from the above recipe, increase the vanilla extract by an additional 1 tsp.
  • Chocolate: omit mint extract from above recipe
  • Vanilla: omit the cocoa powder and mint from the above recipe, increase the vanilla by an additional 1/2 tbsp.
  • Maple Pecan: reduce the honey by 2 tbsp, add 2 tbsp. maple syrup. Stir in pecans.
  • Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules, omit mint extract
  • Mint Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • Coconut chip: omit mint extract, add 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
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