Food and Drink

Review: The Vegan Slow Cooker: Revised and Expanded Edition by Kathy Hester

This posts contains my Amazon affiliate link which means if you buy the book using the link, I might get a small percentage.  You don't have to use the link to buy the book.  You could get it from Amazon directly, but I would appreciate it.

Welcome back to my blog, everyone!  It's certainly been a while.  I've been quite busy and haven't been writing as much as I'd like in this space.  I'll give you a quick summary of what's been up the last year or so:  kids in basketball, kids in soccer, parents in CrossFit, working at a local restaurant, kids in track, more work, becoming a CrossFit L1 trainer, coaching CrossFit classes, cooking, laundry, binge watching Ray Donovan, and that about sums it all up.

So now that we are caught up, let's talk about the reason for this post.  Kathy Hester's newest cookbook the Vegan Slow Cooker: Revised and Expanded Edition. 


If you have followed my blog, you probably already know that I am a cookbook junkie. I love learning new recipes and looking at beautiful pictures of different dishes.  I mostly love learning about new ways to cook old favorites.  For example, I'm not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I do like to make meatless meals frequently.  For one, they tend to be healthier.  Secondly, they tend to be less expensive than meals that have meat.  In the case of the Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook, not only are these dishes healthy and inexpensive, they are also easy to make right in your slow cooker.  That's a triple threat of awesome in my book.

As with all of Kathy's cookbooks, the instructions are easy to read and understand.  Her pictures are amazing and really make me want to dig in to every recipe.  For example, just look at this Shiitake Congee :

Shiitake congee_image

Doesn't that just look so comforting?  Wouldn't it be delicious to tuck into on a cold winter day?  Aren't you just dying for the recipe?  You're in luck!  I'm able to share that recipe with you as a little teaser of what's available in the Vegan Slow Cooker.

Shiitake Congee (Rice Porridge)
The base for the congee gets most of its flavor from the mushrooms, but it’s actually a plain congee that’s dressed up by the toppings that you choose.
This is a great get-well-fast soup and is gentle on your stomach. I like mine with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cilantro*.
    • 8 cups (1880 ml) water or broth
    • 4 cups (280 g) thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
    • 4 cups (280 g) thinly sliced button, baby bella, shiitake mushrooms or combination
    • 1 cup (185 g) brown rice (I used long grain)
    • 3 tablespoons (24 g) grated ginger
    • Soy sauce
    • Scallions
    • Cilantro
    • Chopped hot peppers
    • Extra grated ginger
    • Leftover
    • cooked veggies
    • Tofu cubes
The night before:
    Prepare the mushrooms and ginger, and store in the fridge.
In the morning:
    Add the water, mushrooms, rice, and ginger to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.
    To serve, place your chosen toppings on the table and let everyone make it their favorite way.
Yield : 4–6 servings, Equipment: 4-quart slow cooker, Cooking Time: 7 to 9 hours on low

Recipe Reprinted from The Vegan Slow Cooker, Revised and Expanded By Kathy Hester, published by Fair Winds Press


*that cilantro part is DEFINITELY Kathy's preference and not mine.  You know my feelings about the vile weed.  

For more delicious vegan recipes for your slow cooker, check out Kathy Hester's The Vegan Slow Cooker on Amazon. 


Fancy Last Minute Gift Idea: Chocolate Almond Toffee with Finlandia Imported Butter

This post was made possible by sponsorship from Finlandia.

Here's the scenario:

It's a week before Christmas and time is going faster than you might like.  There are still more people on your Christmas list than there are days.  You've got 3 parties to go to and you have no idea what to bring.  

Cue the Finlandia Imported Butter and this SUPER easy chocolate almond toffee recipe that's so beautiful and delicious, you're going to make it even when you actually DO have free time, not just when you're trying to beat the Christmas rush.


All you need is:

  • 8 ozs Finlandia Imported Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 16 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like using mini chips)
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Add the Finlandia Imported Butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  While you are waiting, lightly grease a jelly roll pan.  I like to use the wrapper from the butter so there is no waste.  Also, toast the almonds slightly by placing them under a broiler for about 4 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they will toast very quickly!

Using a candy thermometer, remove the toffee from the heat once temp reaches 300-310° (Hard crack).  Pour in the vanilla and swirl it around until it's incorporated into the toffee.  Carefully pour the toffee into a the prepared jelly roll pan and let cool for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top and let sit for about a minute or until they all become shiny.  This means they are melted enough to spread.  Spread the melty chips evenly over the toffee.  Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top and lightly press down to secure them onto the chocolate.  Let the toffee cool on the counter until it is cool enough to put in the refrigerator safely. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour and then break bite size pieces off.  Store in a container or bag portions for gifts! 

Finlandia’s premium dairy products are made with pure milk from small family-owned farms in Finland. With over 110 years of passion and dedication to making the very best butter and cheese, Finlandia’s farmers have a maximum of 28 cows, with each called by name and treated like family. Each roams free, eats the greenest grass and breathes the pure Finnish air – known as one of the cleanest countries on Earth – resulting in the purest milk with nothing artificial and no added hormones. Finlandia’s craftsmen are relentless in the pursuit of taste perfection with no room for shortcuts or compromise. From the initial selection of the freshest milk to the final cutting of each cheese from the heart of the block, each step celebrates the time-honored tradition of European craftsmanship for which Finlandia is famous.


Porkroll or Taylor Ham? I'LL be the judge of that! Tuckerton Seaport's TRUCKerton Food Truck & Brew Fest is BACK!

This Saturday May 6 at the Tuckerton Seaport is this year's fantastically themed Porkroll vs Taylor Ham TRUCKerton Food Truck and Brew Fest!  

If you're from New Jersey, you either call it porkroll or you call it Taylor Ham.  There is no in between.  I have always called it Taylor Ham because I grew up in north Jersey.  You get a "Taylor Ham on a hard roll" for breakfast.  Now that I live in south Jersey, I hear "porkroll and cheese" constantly and I STILL can't get used to it even 16 years later.  

Regardless of what you call the meaty treat, it sure is good.  This year's food truck lineup promises several Taylor Ham/porkroll dishes to satisfy everyone's palate whether you're from north Jersey, south Jersey, Timbuktu or wherever.  There will also be great beers, live music, a pork roll eating contest and more!

Check out the list of vendors and what's going on throughout the day: 

Food Truck Map April 2017 v4 Page 2

Food Truck Map April 2017 v4 Page 1
I am very honored to have been asked back as a judge this year to determine which among the 11 food trucks has the best dish of the day.  This is going to be hard, because having already sampled most of these trucks' delights over the years I know the competition will be stiff.  But trust me, I'm up to the task.  In preparation, I'll be attending a Cinco de Mayo party the night before because what tastes better than some Taylor Ham after a night of margaritas? 

Hope to see you there!


What: TRUCKerton Food Truck and Brew Fest- Porkroll vs Taylor Ham

When: Saturday May 6, 2017, 11:00AM-6:00PM

Where: Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum, Rte 9, Tuckerton, NJ 08087 609-296-8868

Cost: $10 adults, Children under 5 FREE, Seaport members FREE - Save $1 on admission by bringing a food item for the Tuckerton Food Pantry


Spicy Sausage and Arugula "Pasta" Revamp! Whole 30 approved

I originally posted this recipe as past of a Progressively Perfect Virtual Dinner Party blog hop a few years ago and thought I'd give it a little Whole 30 re-vamp.    
My family LOVES this dish- Spicy Sausage & Arugula Pasta.  It is my 'go-to' dinner on many nights.  It also works great as a party food because it can be eaten warm or cold and the ingredients can be easily adjusted depending on how many people you will be having.  In a lot of cases, I just add additional pasta.  Don't worry if you make too much - it tastes GREAT in an omelet the next day for breakfast, too.  Enjoy!

IMG_2084Spicy Sausage & Arugula Pasta
For the pasta:
  • 1 box of fusilli pasta
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water from cooked pasta
For the sausage & arugula topping:
  • 1 pound bulk hot sausage 
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch fresh baby arugula

Cook fusilli according to box directions.  While it is boiling, crumble sausage and brown it in a separate deep pan (I use a wok) on medium heat.  Add the minced garlic to the browned sausage and let cook for one minute.  Stir in tomatoes and let them cook down a bit (about 2 minutes).  Fold in arugula, cover and turn off heat.  The arugula will steam nicely with the heat that remains.

When pasta is done, drain it reserving a 1/3 cup of the water.  Mix salt, pepper, parmesan and oil in a small bowl.  Stir in water.  Toss onto hot pasta coating it evenly.

For small parties, you can serve the pasta with the sausage mixture on top.  For larger parties, I like to toss it altogether in a big bowl so people can serve themselves.  

To make it Whole 30 approved, all you need to do is serve the sausage mixture atop some roasted spaghetti squash or raw zucchini noodles (zoodles) omitting the parmesan cheese.  I like using raw zoodles because they keep their shape and will warm up under the mixture anyway.


A photo posted by Cindy Dudas (@wthbonbon) on

Hope you like it!

The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson: Review and Recipe - Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

Cookbooks are my absolute favorite type of book.  I love learning how to mix different ingredients together to make a completely different taste.  Finding and using a good recipe reminds me of that animated movie with the little foodie rat that puts a mushroom with a piece of cheese and smokes it over a chimney fire.  After getting struck by lightning, he experiences a fiery taste explosion he likes to call "lightningy".    

Speaking of fiery taste explosions... 

 ...and getting back to my original thought, I was so pleased when given the opportunity to review Judith Finlayson's newest cookbook the Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between. (I received this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.)


Photo courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Chile peppers have a BIG part in so many different recipes and are found in about 3/4 of everything I cook.  But to be completely honest, I had no idea how many different types there are.  Until reading the Chile Pepper Bible, I thought a chile was a chile was a chile.  Turns out there are 5 major chile species with many different types in each ranging from sweet to hot to set-your-mouth-on-fire and beyond.  

The beautiful cookbook contains so much interesting information about chiles and the culture surrounding them.  Did you know that it is believed that capsicum (the genus of  chile peppers) may have been the first spice ever used by humans? Or that the Indian pepper, the bhut jolokia was dethroned as the Hottest Pepper in the World per Guinness World Records leaving the title to be reclaimed by the Carolina Reaper?  

Of course, the Chile Pepper Bible's crown jewels are its recipes.  With 250 recipes to choose from, you can plan a whole chile pepper party if you want!  

Little story for you:

Last week when picking up my CSA share from the farm, I noticed a small basket of red finger-like peppers on the counter.  I asked what they were and my friend farmer Jen told me they were some sort of Thai pepper that one of her farm sharers was growing.  She offered me a couple, so I took them.  Coincidentally, on the same day my Chile Pepper Bible showed up in the mail.  I couldn't believe it!  I was able to look up the pepper and correctly identify it as a Thai bird's-eye chile! 


So then I flipped to page 108 and found a recipe for Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup for which I could use my new little bird's-eye friend!  Here's the recipe and an excerpt from the book in case you'd like to try it yourself.

Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup


Photo and Recipe courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

 In Chinese medicine, which is fundamentally based on the balancing principles of yin and yang, heating foods are those that warm the body, feeding it with energy. Balance, which includes establishing equilibrium among the five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), helps the body’s vital spirit, called qi, to flow freely and support excellent health. Need I say more? Hot, sour, salty, sweet and loaded with umami from the soy sauce and mushrooms, which are also known to strengthen the immune system, this soup has all the makings of a restorative tonic. And it tastes good, too!

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced gingerroot
  • 8 oz  trimmed fresh shiitake mushrooms,sliced
  • 1  red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1⁄2 to 1 red finger chile, cut into paper-thin rings
  • 4 cups   mushroom or beef stock
  • 1⁄4 cup  soy sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup  Chinese black rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)

 In a heatproof bowl, soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes, weighing down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain and discard liquid. Slice mushrooms thinly and set aside.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add soaked dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, bell pepper, and finger chile to taste. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Mushrooms shouldn’t be fully cooked at this point.)

Add stock, soy sauce and vinegar and stir well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for until flavors are infused, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.

Ladle into warm serving bowls. Garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.

 Makes 4 servings. Vegan Friendly. Gluten-Free Friendly

 Tip: Be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or wheat-free tamari if you are making this soup for someone who is sensitive to gluten. To make it Whole30 compliant, substitute the soy with coconut aminos.

 Chile Savvy: Bitterness is an important flavor in this soup. The sweet red bell pepper balances that component, adding lovely complexity.

Chiles have so many great health benefits and are great in so many different diets.  I am a big fan of the Whole30 way of eating and this Chile Pepper Bible has a lot of compliant (or easily adjustable) recipes I plan on adding to my rotation.  Chiles help bring flavor and color to otherwise boring meals.  

For your own copy, you can use my affiliate link here and purchase from Amazon or you can purchase it at your favorite book store.  With the holidays right around the corner, why not grab a copy for your chile loving friends, too?  

 Follow author Judith Finlyason on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @judith.finlayson to find out more about the Chile Pepper Bible and her other awesome cookbooks! 

The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb- review and recipe

ADA-Perfect Meal Cookbook final_sm

Every once in a while, I'm asked to review a cookbook.  I love doing it because collecting cookbooks is something I've always done.  I love flipping through the pages to find new recipe gems just waiting to be made.  I especially love it when the cookbook is written with a certain audience in mind, but contains recipes that are delicious for everyone.  

In the case of Robyn Webb's newest book the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection, the recipes not only look great and are easy to make, they fit perfectly into the diabetic diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. For example, check out this awesome recipe for Thai Beef Salad I pulled from the book.  Doesn't it sound just perfect?   


Serves: 6 | Serving size: 3/4 cup

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 12 minutes + 10 minutes for standing

This recipe is courtesy of the chefs at the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. Sitting at the terrace

restaurant of a grand hotel, I ordered the beef salad. After one bite, I asked our waiter to

summon the chef so I could know what all these fabulous exotic tastes were. When I explained

what I did for a living, the chef was more than happy to introduce me to the world of chiles, fish

sauce, and more.- Robyn Webb


4 ounces udon noodles

1 pound flank steak, trimmed of excess fat, brought to room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon chili puree with garlic


1 cup sliced red onion

1 cup thinly sliced red pepper

1 cup thinly sliced cucumber

1/3 cup chopped scallions

4 cups romaine torn lettuce leaves

1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Sprinkle both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. Coat an outdoor grill rack with cooking

spray and set the rack 6 inches above the heat source. Set the grill to medium high.

Alternatively, coat an indoor grill pan with cooking spray and set it on medium-high heat. Place

the beef on the rack and grill for about 6–7 minutes per side. Remove the beef to plate, cover

loosely, and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the beef diagonally across the grain into thin slices.

3. Combine all the dressing ingredients. Add the beef, red onion, red pepper, cucumbers,

scallions, and udon noodles. Add the dressing and toss well. Serve on lettuce and top with


CALORIES 300, CALORIES FROM FAT 140, TOTAL FAT 15.0 g, SATURATED FAT 3.3 g, TRANS FAT 0.0 g, CHOLESTEROL 40 mg, SODIUM 450 mg, POTASSIUM 480 mg, TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 21 g, DIETARY FIBER 3 g, SUGARS 7 g, PROTEIN 20 g, PHOSPHORUS 220 mg, EXCHANGES/CHOICES: 1 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 Protein, lean; 2 Fat 

*Reprinted from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb, MS, published by American Diabetes Association/October 2016

To me, this recipe seems like a real treat, not something that fits into a "diet".  That's true for all the recipes in the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection.  Robyn Webb's take on all the comfort foods we know and love is adventurous without going overboard.  Her recipes incorporate familiar tastes with new exciting ones all while keeping carbs and sugars down and staying within the ADA's guidelines.  Some other recipes include: 

  • Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney
  • Fresh Tuna Burgers
  • Apple Cider Chicken
  • No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna
  •  Shrimp and Fruit Tacos
  • Crispy Tofu Stir Fry
  • A Better Turkey Meatloaf
  • Lentil and Brown Rice Loaf
  • Swordfish Salad with Salsa Dressing
  • Lemon Asparagus Soup

One of the chief complaints of anyone placed on a restrictive diet is that foods don't always taste great.  With recipes like these, those complaints will be few and far between!  

Whether you or someone you love has diabetes or you simply want a new exciting cookbook to add to your collection, I hope you will consider the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb.  I am very happy to have had to opportunity to add it to my collection in exchange for this review.  My affiliate link is below, if you'd like to purchase the book but it is also available at your favorite book distributors.

Top 10 reasons for going to the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport this weekend



This weekend's NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport has already stirred a great big buzz in our community with signs posted throughout town including a huge bacon shaped blow-up figure that made its appearance at the Fourth of July parade!  I am so excited because, well, BACON.  I know that should be enough of a reason to go, but here's a list of my top 10 reasons you should join me.  

Disclosure: I will be attending the NJ Bacon Fest with complimentary tickets in exchange for this post and social media sharing of the event.  I am very grateful for the generosity of sponsor Five Sisters Food Co for this opportunity as I truly think it's going to be a great time.  All opinions are my own, and I can tell you right now my opinion is that everyone should go to the NJ BaconFest! 


I'll do it in countdown form...

    10. It's going to be a beautiful day.  

Regardless of temperature, sun, rain, snow, sleet, whatever, it's going to be BEAUTIFUL because there will be bacon.  But honestly, the weather forecast is showing a gorgeous weekend.  Throw your chair and some sunscreen in the car and come on over! 

    9. Who doesn't love a festival?

There is something special about sitting down amongst a bunch of happy people enjoying each other's company.  The festival atmosphere always brings a smile to my face.  I just love all the hustle and bustle and the people watching and the relaxed feel of it all.  Being that this is a BACON festival being sponsored by my all time favorite Five Sisters Food Co., well, that just ups the festival game even more!

    8.  Shopping

Besides the beautiful Seaport gift shop, there will be several vendors selling bacon-y wares throughout the festival.  Try some spreadable bacon from The Bacon Jams or some Bacon Taco sauce from Hot Sauce for Good.  

    7. It's at the Tuckerton Seaport!

Even when there isn't a festival going on the Tuckerton Seaport is a great place to visit.  With numerous family friendly, educational, and fun exhibits including a craft station sponsored by Jersey Family Fun, stepping into the Tuckerton Seaport is like stepping into an interactive documentary of the area's heritage.  The sprawling dockside location is the perfect venue for the Bacon Fest.

    6. Food trucks

My absolute favorite food truck is run by the Miller family - Five Sisters Food Co.  I once had the Pig Fries from their truck and felt like it was the best thing I had ever eaten.  Then I sampled their Pork Belly Sandwich and had to take back my first statement and restate it.  They NEVER disappoint.  Five Sisters will be joined by several other trucks including:

 Philly Fry, WTF Foodtruck, Cheezen, Betty's Icebox, Waffle De Lys, The Chimney Cake Factory,House of Cupcakes, Kath's Catering, Pompier Catering & Cuisine, Mexi Flip, Surf and Turf, Bespoke Bacon, The Tot Cart, Bacon Broads, the guac spot, Oink and Moo BBQ, ahh! la cart, Dump n Roll, and Zinna's Bistro AND MORE!

For a full list of vendors, visit the Seaport's website. All will have some sort of bacon inspired treats for you to enjoy! 


I could just stop there and be done with this list because all these reasons are great ones to visit the NJ BaconFest.  But I will go on...

    5. Music, pig races, a circus, and a bacon eating contest...

Set up your chair near either the main bandstand or the Pirate Ship stage to enjoy your delicious bacon treats while allowing yourself to be entertained by the bands and the Justin Wood Circus. Take a walk across the grounds to watch the pig races.  And if you're there on Sunday at 2:00, be sure to see who will get reign supreme at the NJ Bacon Fest Bacon Eating Championship! Last year's winner ate 13.7 pounds in 2 minutes.  Now THAT's a lot of bacon.

    4. All your friends are going

For real.  They are.  Just look at Facebook.  You'll probably see at least one or two people talking about the festival there.  Jump off that fence and join them! 

    3. There's going to be a mechanical pig!  

OK, that's just awesome.  I've never ridden a mechanical bull let alone a mechanical pig.  Looks like the time is NOW.

    2. BEER and other libations

Any festival wouldn't be complete without some good drinks to go along with the good food.  Thankfully, Pinelands Brewery will be bringing some of their tasty brews that are going to make the perfect bacon meal complete.   There will also be wines from Laurita Winery, other craft beer selections, and a margarita bar to help quench your thirst for deliciousness.

    And the #1 reason to visit the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport this Saturday and Sunday July 9th (11-8) and 10th (11-6)...



The world may not revolve around bacon, but it sure would be a sad sad place without it.  Go get your bacon fix this weekend!  Tickets are $8 apiece.  Seaport members and children under 5 are FREE.  

For more information about the NJ BaconFest at the Tuckerton Seaport, the Five Sisters Food Co., or any of the vendors who will be in attendance, please visit or join the event page on Facebook.

You can also follow the festival on Twitter @NJBaconFest and Instagram @NJ_Bacon_Fest


All photos are shared from NJ Bacon Fest's website and/or Facebook page. 

Paleo peach blueberry crumble

I just finished breakfast and had to jump on the ol' laptop before I forget all the ingredients I just used.  I definitely do NOT want to forget this one because it was so flipping good.  Peaches...blueberries...crumbly stuff on top... I already want more.  

Peach crumble
Paleo Peach Blueberry Crumble

  •   Filling:
  • 2 ripe peaches roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp -1 tsp honey (depending on ripeness of peaches and your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkling of nutmeg
  •   Crumble:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp clarified butter or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp honey

Melt a little clarified butter or ghee in the bottom of a 1 quart casserole dish and spread it around.  Stir filling ingredients in a bowl and pour into prepared casserole dish. Add pecans and shredded coconut to your food processor or blender and whirl for a few seconds to get a finer chop.  Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and pulse until just blended, not too fine.  Sprinkle crumble ingredients over the prepared filling and bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes or you will be biting into molten lava.  Scoop it into a bowl and enjoy! 

My Whole30 Experience

After going through 41 years of eating whatever I want whenever I want and never feeling as great as I thought I should, I decided to try something new.  Well, if you want to get into specifics, I can't really remember the first few of those 41 years, so who knows.  Maybe I felt good then.  

Anyways...  I decided to look into the Whole 30 plan for a few reasons:

  1.  It has an end point.
  2. The food looks good.
  3. I had already planned on giving up booze for Lent.
  4. It seemed to fit in with the way I eat anyway.

I never really enjoyed the idea of elimination diets.  Everything in moderation was always my favorite saying.  But (let me get a little philosophical here for a second) since I had never strayed from that mindset, I think I sort of went against that mindset.  I was very strict in my thinking that I could be free with my eating habits.  I refused to think outside the box.  So I read the whole book on Whole 30 and decided to take the plunge.


A photo posted by Cindy Dudas (@cynthialeemom) on

Why did I need a change?  Well, I already told you I wasn't feeling all that great.  I have psoriasis and rosacea that tend to get out of control at certain times and I have not been able to pinpoint the triggers.  I always wanted to see if food had anything to do with it.  There are some theories out there that identify certain trigger foods like gluten and dairy.  These two things are eliminated with the Whole 30 plan, so there's that.

Also, I always felt bloated for some reason.  Like, I had to suck in my gut every time I got dressed.  I was interested in losing a little weight, but my concern was more about feeling better overall.  I wasn't feeling healthy.  The Whole 30 book has a huge list of things that other people experience during/afterwards that made me think I should give it a try.

OK, enough about my reasons for trying it.  Here's what I got out of it.

    • Food tastes better- I don't know if it's because I'm so in tune with exactly what goes into the food I'm eating or what, but everything just tastes great. A lot of foods taste SO MUCH SWEETER than they ever have before.  I no longer feel the need to add any type of sugar to anything.  At all. 
    • I definitely lost inches- I do not know how many, because I never took any measurements.  But when I started, I was wearing size 10 pants and large shirts.  Now I'm in a size 8 pants and small/medium shirts.
    • My mind feels clearer- As most people in today's world, I'm busy a lot.  Most of the time I make my mind busier than it needs to be.  But lately, I feel like I don't get as blurry and clustered in my thoughts.  I can distinguish between important and not-so-important tasks much easier.  
    • I feel accomplished- Not to be a Debbie Downer, but as a 41 year-old working parent there isn't much that gives me a personal sense of accomplishment any more.  Yes, there are my kids who do wonderful things to be proud of- and I am.  But there is not much that I can say I'VE done lately to make myself feel great.  Completing Whole30 made me feel like a million bucks.
    • I feel energized, not tired- I swear, I feel like I could do anything at any time.
    • However, I get great sleep-  When it's time for bed, I can fall asleep within minutes.  I've never been able to do that before.
    • I'm not hungry- I don't find myself wandering around the kitchen just grabbing snacks all the time like I used to.  I like taking the time to eat what I want so I will not be hungry.
    • Easy to make homemade stuff- I have always cooked, so it was an easy transition to Whole30 cooking.  It's just a matter of leaving certain things out.  That's all.  I have been posting every single thing I eat on Instagram, and would love you to check it out.  Anything you want the recipe for, just let me know and I'll post it. 
    • I love the support- Before I started, I told my family I was doing it.  I told them they didn't have to agree with me, but I would appreciate it if they didn't poke fun or try to tempt me with non-compliant foods.  Throughout the whole thing, they have been awesome.  And to make it even better, they eat everything I make without complaints.  In fact, they actually like most of the stuff I've made since I started.  
    • Hubby calls it Magic30- because WOW do I enjoy him.  (Yes, I'm talking about sex.)  I mean, he's a hot sketch and I've always enjoyed his company.  But hot damn, if Whole30 didn't make it all a million times even better.

A photo posted by Cindy Dudas (@cynthialeemom) on

I never want to go back. For real.  I went through the 30 days and realized how much food affects my life.  I went through another 30 days and realized that the way I feel now and the way I was feeling before are not even comparable.  Then I went through ANOTHER 30 days just to be sure.  Now I know that this is the way I want to live.  Yes, I make exceptions and eat some non-compliant things here and there.  But those first 30 days of full commitment made me understand what certain foods do to me.  I know how eating a cookie is going to make me feel tomorrow.  I know what type of booze I need to avoid.  I still haven't had any dairy or legumes, but eventually I'll get to them to see how they affect me.  But for now, I'm going to live my life after Whole30 pretty much the same way I was living it during Whole30 - happy.  

Oh, one thing it did not do, which was a little disappointing, was have any effect on the skin issues I mentioned earlier.  I've been doing a little more research and talking with friends about it and apparently there are other foods to eliminate (eggs, nightshade vegetables)  in order to reduce the effects of autoimmune disorders like psoriasis.  Right now, my skin isn't bothering me too much so I am not going to delve into eliminating anything else.  But if I do, I'll also share that experience with you. 


A photo posted by Cindy Dudas (@cynthialeemom) on


Whole 30 Buffalo chicken meatballs and celery slaw

Yes, I'm doing Whole 30.  I will get to that in a separate post.  But right now, I NEED to share this recipe with you before I die from excitement.  

Recently we were at our friends Kate and Kevin's house and had some delicious Buffalo chicken meatball subs.  My whole family fell in love with them and have been asking me to try to make them ever since.  So last night, I tried my best to replicate our friends' recipe.  I think I did ok!  Here you go.  Since I'm doing Whole 30, this recipe is compliant, but trust me you will love it even if you're not following any restricted diet! 

This recipe feeds 4 people, but I suggest doubling it and freezing some.  You're going to want them again.  Soon.


Buffalo meatballs
Buffalo chicken meatballs

Buffalo sauce:

  • 1 clove garlic minced and divided into two bowls (half will be for the meatballs)
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce (I like Franks)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a small saucepan on low, heat the butter and coconut oil until they become liquid.  Turn off the heat.  In the bowl that has half a minced garlic clove, stir together the hot sauce, garlic, and vinegar.  Whisk in the melted butter and oil until the sauce is smooth.  Put aside.


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp Whole 30 approved mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp minced onion
  • Half of the saved minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsps Buffalo sauce
  • Salt and pepper 


Mix all meatball ingredients together (except olive oil) and form small 1 inch meatballs.  Heat olive oil in a pan and lightly brown meatballs for about 4 minutes turning frequently to keep their shape.  Place all the meatballs in a baking pan (they will not be completely cooked yet) and drizzle some more Buffalo sauce over them.  Bake at 400° for about 10 minutes.  Serve over a bed of arugula with Whole 30 ranch dressing, more Buffalo sauce and some celery sticks.  Or, try this super easy and colorful celery slaw!

Celery Slaw

  • 4 stalks of celery cut into thin half circle pieces
  • 1 or 2 radishes sliced thin
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1/4 cup Whole 30 mayo
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • salt and pepper

     Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve immediately or put in the fridge until dinnertime.


Of course, if you're not doing Whole 30 and want to put these meatballs on a roll, go right ahead!  Let me know what you think.