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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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. 

Someone has gotten great at posing for photos. 


Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?

Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?