Hey guys! I’m really excited to have my friend Hayley Ziegler guest posting today. If you haven’t already heard of it, she’s the creator of the famous “zucchini cheese” (yeah, you read that right) that’s been BLOWING UP the internet the past few months. Did I mention it’s paleo, vegan, and autoimmune protocol-friendly? Yeah. This girl has some seriously delicious and extremely inventive ways of making sure you can get your cheesy fix in, and many other things you may have thought were off limits for certain dietary restrictions. Over about the past year of dealing with many different stomach bugs, hormonal imbalances and the like, Hayley has been one of those people I’ve been able to reach out to for advice and support, of which I’m extremely grateful for. We’ve both run the gamut in terms of our symptoms, and I’m so glad we’re both finally able to eat delicious treats like the one she’s made for you today. I’ll shut up now. Go make these treats and listen to Hayley’s story!
From Hayley: One of my favorite foods of Autumn is pumpkin. Nostalgic memories ofThanksgiving, Halloween, and Fall colors have something to do with this, no doubt.Its playful demeanor is to delight in — one that crowns pumpkin-carving contestsand that crowds patches of maze-filled fields. Its bright orange exterior and sweetflesh reminds me that food is fun. Culinarily fun-filled in pies and puddings, stuffed or made into soup, is the norm, yet I don’t want anything to do with these when it comes to pumpkin.
I thoroughly enjoy small treats, especially when my friend squash is involved. With sweet cravings in mind I don’t make treats often, and this is because when I do I want to eat the whole batch. Alas in satiating gloom the recipe becomes something to no longer look forward to, which defeats the recipe’s goal in the first place. My favorite sweet creations include small cookies and bars – just enough to be satisfied with one and with a side of mindful eating. After savoring, half are to freeze and to take out as desired. The other half batch is to be given to friends and family, in pleasure of nourishing another.
This recipe that I share with you today celebrates holiday creativity, gratitude, and giving to others. It is one that I created previously to my dietary adaptations though one that I still wish to share because I have a handful of paleo friends (including Dana) that can enjoy them too! Currently I am following an autoimmune paleo protocol, and have been for about six months now, in goals of restoring gut health and for hormone balancing purposes. The transition has been slow-going yet effective. My dietary changes started when I was diagnosed with severe asthma and as I suffered with allergies at a young age. I was guided by a local herbalist to eliminate certain foods, including dairy, wheat, processed foods, and sugars, which helped tremendously to the point where I no longer became dependent on inhalers. Years later I suffered from non-existent menstrual cycles and was diagnosed with PCOS, MRSA, and hypothyroidism. Food sensitivities, anxiety, depression, and IBS also kept me from living as fully as I had wished to.
Somewhere along the way I shifted to a paleo diet in goals of balancing blood sugar. It was not until I tuned into being fully aware of how I felt after eating that I discovered that eggs, nuts, certain seeds, spices, and nightshades were particularly triggering. I answered this mindful message as I naturally shifted to an autoimmune paleo type protocol – one that resonated with me by which ‘all disease starts in the gut’. Primarily this protocol gives the gastrointestinal tract a break from GI irritants as ones mentioned above amongst others, allowing healing to take place. Check out www.aiplifestyle.com, autoimmune-paleo.com, and thepaleomom.com for more information.
I have continually been feeling better with patience and fun in the kitchen. Most recently I have discovered after an internal ultrasound that I no longer have PCOS, which is a great indicator that things have been shifting. Further, as a full-time Traditional Chinese Medicine student, eating real food helps to bring clarity and brain power to my days without feeling burnt-out by the end of the day. Being a creative person and a vegetable lover, I look forward to coming up with new recipes for myself and others who are following the autoimmune protocol to enjoy — come follow me over at ieatrealfood.recipes to see what I’m cooking on a daily basis.
Pumpkin adds substance with its grounding, warming and sweet flavor, while pumpkin seed and coconut butter binds and compliments the squash with their nutty tastes. Dark chocolate chips sweeten things up and lemon juice mocks a cheesecake appeal. All ingredients will leave you feeling completely satisfied as the pumpkin and fats contribute to slow-burning energy. I hope you delight in making this recipe as much as I did!
- ½ cup coconut butter
- ½ cup pumpkin seed butter*
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
- ½ - ¾ cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips (or other paleo chocolate)*
- 1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 – 2 tablespoons maple syrup, optional
- Line an 8X8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Melt the coconut butter
- and pumpkin seed butter in a double boiler or in a small saucepan over low heat,
- stirring frequently until melted.
- Add the pumpkin puree to the saucepan and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the dark chocolate chips, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, and pinch of
- sea salt into the mixture and gently stir. Taste test before setting. If it is not sweet
- enough for your taste buds, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.
- Pour the pumpkin batter into the pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface.
- Refrigerate overnight to set. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in
- your freezer. Take out as desired. Enjoy!
- If you desire the pumpkin swirl look as seen in my photo: Mix a small amount of
pumpkin puree with coconut milk. When the bars are partially set swirl in the
**For an AIP version, swap pumpkin seed butter for coconut butter, and chocolate for DIY carob chocolate chips.