Pumpkin brownies, a new workout snack?

Brownie pic

It’s no secret that pumpkin (or Cucurbita moschata) is a super food, with a resume that boasts a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, and bioactive compounds that have been linked with anti-cancer, -obesity and -diabetic properties. Recently, a Japanese research group set out to test whether this spectacular squash also contributes to enhanced exercise performance. To test this hypothesis, mice were orally administered increasing doses of pumpkin extract (or control substance) over the course of 14 days, followed by a series of physical and biochemical tests to asses the level of exercise-induced fatigue. The authors report that the ingestion of pumpkin led to a dose-dependent increase in murine grip strength and in overall swim time prior to fatigue onset. Biochemically, these results were correlated with reduced levels of circulating muscle fatigue biomarkers such as lactate, ammonia and creatine kinase and increased glucose levels, an indicator of performance maintenance.

So what does that mean? In a nutshell, mice fed a pumpkin-supplemented diet appeared to work out harder, gained strength over time and showed biochemical signs of more optimal muscle performance. Why not try this recipe for pumpkin-spiced brownies before you head to the gym and get your sweat on? You will be rewarded with a sweet treat and a more productive workout! 

Pumpkin-Spiced Brownies:


  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 4 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp raw cacao (or normal baking cocoa)
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (I use extra dark 63% cocoa)


  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease square baking dish
  • Mix liquid ingredients together using a food processor or electric mixer
  • In a separate bow, combine all dry ingredients (except chocolate chips)
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and then stir in the chocolate chips
  • Pour batter into baking dish and cook for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean
  • Garnish with chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds for an extra delicious (and nutritious) crunch


  • Wang et al., Molecules. 2012 Oct 9; 17 (10): 11864-76.

Primal Cauliflower Crusted Hawaiian Pizza


This crust is unbeatable.

Have you ever played that game where you list the top 5 foods that you would bring to a deserted island? (And yes, you already have water and razors and toilet paper…) I like this game because it shows you how dynamic your tastebuds are and which foods remain a constant favorite. For me, one of these steadfast items has to be pizza. Pizza ranks quite high on my guilty pleasure list, right next to “Everything bagels”, “The Braxton Family Values” and pumpkin spiced lattes.

That being said, I wouldn’t say that I am a pizza connoisseur. In fact, before I turned the Paleo leaf, my go-to pizza was a frozen Digorno Supreme pizza.  It was pretty simple, I liked that the crust wasn’t too greasy, it was always hot and the toppings tasted fresh (ish).

Then paleo entered my life and it was all smiles and almond butter for the first couple of weeks, until one Friday around 6 pm. As I walked past the Crazy Dough Pizza shop to my commuter rail station, I found myself walking slower and slower just to get a full inhale of the delicious smells.  It was then that I decided there must be an alternative…and so the quest began.

Lets just fast forward through all of the faileo attempts at recreating this masterpiece of a dish.

“But, you have you try this almond flour crust” one blogger would say (fail),

and “The New improved coconut flour pizza crust” (fail),

and “Finally, coconut and almond flour crust that you can really eat with your hands” (fail).

It was after ingesting several of these clumpy, moist pizzas that SB and I gave up and started to make my Portobello pizzas on the regular. Now, if I’m being honest, those are good…but they aren’t pizza. The problem with mushrooms is that they don’t have that sort of crispy base that contrasts the toppings.

So, without further adieu, I present my Hawaiian version of a Cauliflower Pizza Crust. This recipe has been heavily influenced by the version over at  Detoxinista. I highly recommend her blog- she is so creative and has answered my prayers to the Pizza Gods with this invention.

Try this recipe, you will not be sorry.



  • 1 head of cauliflower (the larger the cauliflower, the larger the crust)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella, organic
  • 1 tbsp dried italian herbs (i’ve tried fresh herbs here (basil, parsley) and they tend to make the mix more wet and lead to a less crispy, but more flavorable end product…so use your preference)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on your spice level

Pizza toppings:

  • Lower carb pizza sauce (we use Rao’s but feel free to sub in homemade or just fresh tomatoes or sans nightshades if you prefer)
  • Shredded mozzarella, organic (enough to cover the top)
  • Canadian bacon (no nitrates), chopped
  • Fresh or frozen pineapple, chopped (if frozen, let thaw and the drain to reduce the excess water)
  • Other ideas: sausage, peppers, olives, zucchini, prosciutto, etc


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and set aside a pot of water to boil (large enough to accommodate ~4 cups of cauliflower).
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  • Rinse your cauliflower and chop it into large florets.
  • Pulse the cauliflower in your food processor until it’s about the size of rice (you can actually use this as a substitute for rice in stir fry and it is amazing), you may have to do this in several batches if your food processor is not large enough to accommodate.
2013-09-14 18.07.54

“Riced” cauliflower

  • Place the cauli-rice into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Pour cooked cauli-rice into a fine strainer, rinse with cool water and allow to sit for a couple minutes.
  • Take a large spoon or spatula and press on the cauli-rice to try and expel more water.
2013-09-14 18.16.25

Strain excess water

  • Now, here comes the genius part. Scoop the strained cauli-rice into the middle of a clean cheese cloth (or if you are grubby like me any ole’ tea towel will do- maybe that nice Halloween one your mom sent you with ghosts on it?) gather up the ends of the tea towel and then twist the towel around the cauli mix to squeeze out all remaining liquid.
  • Bonus, this really works your biceps.
  • Remember, the more liquid you get out, the crispier the crust. This step is also why I also recommend rinsing your cooked cauli with cool water, if not your hands get scalded while twisting.
  • Keep twisting until your cauli looks like the pic below, should almost resemble a paste.
Drain in cloth to get ride of even more excess water

Drain in cloth to get ride of even more excess water

  • Now you are ready to assemble all of the ingredients into a separate bowl.
Cauli crust ingredients

Cauli crust ingredients

  • Mix ingredients altogether with hands, making sure everything is fully incorporated.
  • Press the mixture into a crust-like shape onto your parchment-lined pan.
  • TIP- the thinner the crust, the crispier. Try to make it the crust as smooth as possible so it cooks evenly.
  • I would hypothesize this crust is somewhere between a 1/3-1/2 inch wide
Form into a nice even and thin rectangle

Form into a nice even and thin rectangle

  • Bake crust at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes, you know it’s done when it starts to brown like this.
Crust is done when you see it start to brown

Crust is done when you see it start to brown

  • Remove crust from oven and place sauce, cheese and any other toppings.
  • Place back in oven for 10-ish minutes to let the cheese melt.
  • Can also flip the broiler on HIGH for a few minutes to get make the cheese nice and bubbly.

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself OMG, this is so much work…mult bowls, mult cooking, 1+hour cook time?!!?

Key to cooking: Find a friend who enjoys doing dishes

Key to cooking: Find a friend who enjoys doing dishes

  • So, to save time, make two batches of the cooked cauli-rice. Drain each and use one immediately and place one in a freezer bag for future enjoyment.
This will come in handy on a spur of the moment date night!

This will come in handy on a spur of the moment date night!

  • Last, but not least, enjoy!!!



Lead in lipstick, a continued controversy…should we worry?


I’m sure that by now you are all familiar with the dangers surrounding lead-based paint, especially for families with small children. But did you know that some very unexpected household items, like your favorite lipstick, are also likely to have measurable amounts of lead, as well as other harmful metal contaminants?

Deborah Blum of New York Time’s health section recently outlined several scary findings regarding recent research surrounding the lead lipstick controversy:

  1. Traces of lead have been found in over 400 different lipstick varieties. (Check here to see how your fav stick ranks.)
  2. The F.D.A. ensures that most lipsticks, on average, contain only 1 parts per million (ppm) of lead, which “poses no real or unusual health risks”.
  3. However, to prevent childhood lead exposure, the F.D.A. sets a 0.1 ppm safety standard level for lead in candy. That’s 10-fold lower than for lipsticks.
  4. Some metals, like lead, are not readily flushed from your body, and therefore, can accumulate over time. (Think of this in the same way that we are advised against eating sushi everyday for fear of mercury poisoning.)
  5. Besides lead, traces of cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel were also found in a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.
  6. In this same study, girls reported to apply these specific lipsticks up to 24 times a day.

Does color affect the metal load?

In a recent study done by the F.D.A. in 2011, it was reported that the highest levels of lead are found in deeper pinks and browns, while more neutral lip balms have somewhat lower lead concentrations (ranging from 8.9 ppm in dark colors to 0.37 ppm in lighter colors). In addition, more glittery lip glosses often contain mica, a naturally occurring mineral that is likely to contain lead, manganese and other metals.


Should we be worried?

Scientists are quoted as saying:

“We’re not saying that anyone needs to panic. We’re saying let’s not be complacent, that these are metals known to affect health.” Katharine Hammond, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, University of California Berkeley

However, it’s important to remember that some metals can be absorbed into the skin and that a certain amount of lipstick is likely to be swallowed throughout the day and kissed away on a loved one’s cheek.

You do the math…what are you comfortable wearing?


  • Did you know prior to this post that traces of lead are found in your lipstick?
  • Do you think that the F.D.A. should place stricter restrictions regarding lead and other metal contaminants in cosmetic products?
  • Would your willingness to buy a specific shade of lipstick change if the amount of lead was placed on the label?
  • How much lead is in your signature shade? And are you willing to try a safer alternative? My fav is Alima Pure in Rhubarb
  • Are you less likely to let your child play dress-up with lipstick after reading this article?

Great websites for more info:

Image credits:

Paleo snack time: Antioxidant-rich “Super Spheres”

Super Spheres

Super Spheres

Snack time can be the best or the worst time of day depending on your level of preparation. One thing I’ve come to realize after starting to eat healthy, is that dedicating some time per week for prep food is essential for continued success. Otherwise, you get hungry, you stare at your fridge and then you eat half a jar of almond butter…fail.

Today, I’m sharing a recipe for “Super Spheres”. I’ve given them the title “Super” because they contain several ingredients that are superior sources of super fighting antioxidant power (say it 5-times fast!). Both the blueberries and goji berries found in this recipe are considered “super foods” because they contain high levels of phytonutrients that posess antioxidant power.


Berries are rich in antioxidants, low GI and high in fiber

But lets step back a minute…what exactly IS an anti-oxidant, what does it DO and why is that GOOD for our bodies?

The IS…

An antioxidant is defined as “a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules.”

Hmm…so what is oxidation exactly?

::Puts on lab coat and snaps goggles into place::

Chemistry 101!

Chemistry 101!

Oxidation is a chemical process that involves the moving of electrons on molecules. The figure above shows how interactions with either reducing or oxidizing agents stimulates the movement of electrons from the starting molecule onto the final product. The process of oxidation happens constantly in our body and in the environment. Physical examples of oxidation can be seen when an apple turns brown or when rust forms on your car.

I hate when this happens

I hate when this happens

Oxidation reactions produce free radicals, a molecule that possesses a charge due to either an excess or deficient number of electrons. Because of this, free radicals are extremely unstable and chemically active, scavenging around to find other molecules that it can pair with to transfer electrons.  An easier (albeit potentially offensive) way to think of a free radical is by picturing that sleazy guy at the bar who hits on every woman that passes by. Free radicals that contain oxygen are known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and have been linked with many disease states in the body, as well as aging. Inside our bodies, ROS whiz around interacting (and potentially damaging) cells, proteins and our DNA…not good.

I couldn't resist some science-related humor. (we use dark rooms)

I couldn’t resist some science-related humor. (we use dark rooms)

So, what do antioxidants DO? Antioxidants serve as a sort of protector against oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. Two ways in which antioxidants work are, 1) When a free radical releases or steals an electron this produces a chain reaction, which leaves another molecule with an unevenly paired electron (ie, another free radical, and so on). Antioxidants stabilize this free radical by either donating or receiving an electron, thus breaking the free radical chain. The chemical structure of the antioxidant is so that it remains stable despite being able to give and take electrons freely.


Using chemistry to keep us YOUNG and HEALTHY!

Why is this GOOD for our bodies? As indicated earlier, free radicals can wreak havoc in our bodies by starting harmful chain reactions. Free radical-related damage has been linked to inflammation, aging, cancer, Alzheimer’s…you name it and free radicals have their dirty hands in the pot. Now that you know how antioxidants work, it’s a no brainer to understand that in order to ward off such damage you need to continuously replenish your stock of antioxidants. Some antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, flavonoids, phenolic acids/esters and Vitamins A, C and E. These super substances can be found in a wide array of foods, with some of this highest levels recorded in certain fruits and veggies.

Super power: scavenging free radicals

Super power: scavenging free radicals

This recipe utilizes a couple of foods that are super sources of antioxidants, including blueberries, goji berries and almonds. It makes the perfect portable snack that provides a boost of energy and also helps to reconstitute your antioxidant reserves.

Happy snacking!


  • 2 cups almonds, I used blanched slivered, but any kind will do
  • 1/2 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 cup dried wild blueberries, try to find unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, dried coconut, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder
  • pinch of salt
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons


  • Place almonds and goji berries into food processor, pulse until crumbly
  • Add pinch of salt, coconut, chia seeds and lemon zest, pulse to combine
Invest in a microplane- your prana will thank you.

Invest in a microplane- your prana will thank you.

  • Add protein powder, pulse to combine
  • To the mix, add the blueberries and process until mixture just begins to clump on sides
Starting to clump

Starting to clump

  • Slowly add the lemon juice while processing, mixture will start to get real sticky


  • Scoop the mixture by the teaspoon, using your hands roll into a ball and then roll in coconut
Super Sphere taking a coconut bath

Super Sphere taking a coconut bath

  • Store in freezer

Image Links:

Info Links:








Grain-free grapefruit olive oil pound cake


Grapefruit olive oil cake

Do you like your co-workers? If you are like me then you spend the majority of time with them (more than with your boyfriend, your cat, etc) and that can be wonderful or horrible, depending on the people chosen by fate (boss) to be included in your work family. Working in science can be even more challenging in this department because of the transient nature of our jobs. Typically, as a graduate student  you join a lab for 4-5 years and then move on. As a post-doc you join a new lab for 3-4 more years and then move on. And for many technicians, you join a lab prior to applying to med or grad school, work for 2 years and then move on. The main point here is that the group dynamic can change multiple times throughout the duration of your stay in any given lab. I’m not even factoring in here the immense competition that some labs may feel with multiple people working on very similar projects.

My lab however, is pretty special. We actually ALL get along really well and the inspiration for making this cake is because of friendships started at work. For the past few months, several people in the lab decided to pass around Deb Perelman’s, “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” and test out various recipes to make and share with everyone at lunch. Perelman hosts the amazing blog Smitten Kitchen, which publishes tasty recipes and the most beautiful food images.

This cookbook = perfect coffee table book for the foodie in your life.

This cookbook = the perfect coffee table book for the foodie in your life.

This past weekend was my turn to take a crack at the cookbook and I tried two recipes. The first, was her vinegar slaw with cabbage and dill, which turned out AMAZING. This salad was very easy to make and tasted very fresh and summery, making it a great side dish to serve with pulled pork or other fatty meat.  The second recipe is the inspiration for today’s post. Since most of what Deb cooks is definitely not grain- or sugar-free, I decided to use her grapefruit olive oil cake recipe as a starting point and try to recreate something that would be reminiscent of the cool flavor combo she invented.

As with any baking adventure, there will always be some tweaks that need to be made when altering a recipe. My cake fell in the middle a bit, which tends to happen when using only almond flour because it is a little heavier. Next time, I would like to try incorporating a bit of coconut flour, especially since the end product was super MOIST and could have maybe used just a touch more sturdiness.

The best part of baking is sharing with friends. Trying out this recipe gives back two-fold since I was able to share the end product with the lovely people at work and now I’m sharing my version with all of you.

Enjoy and thanks to Deb Perelman for sharing her wonderful gifts!



  • coconut oil or cooking spray for greasing pans
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I think coconut oil would be amazing here, but wanted to stick with original flavor profile initially)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt


  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 tbsp honey


  • coconut manna


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Zest grapefruit and into a mixing bowl mix the zest and coconut sugar, release the oils from the zest by rubbing it together with the sugar
Bruised grapefruit zest and sugar

“Bruised” grapefruit zest and sugar

  • To the bowl, add olive oil and eggs one at a time, blending until smooth
  • Into two small separate bowl add the dry ingredients to one and the yogurt, grapefruit juice and ripe bananas (mash well to incorporate everything) into the other
  • Alternatively add the wet and dry ingredient to the mixer and stir until well combined
  • Pour into greased pans
This recipe made 1 small loaf and 4 mini loafs

This recipe made 1 small loaf and 4 mini loafs

  • Cook for ~45 min- 1h, the small loaves took probably 30  min
  • Keep an eye out for when the loaves start to brown and make sure an inserted knife comes out clean to ensure done-ness
  • Allow cake to cook for 10 min
  • In the mean time, make syrup by heating grapefruit juice with honey (I actually just used the microwave)
  • After 10 minutes, poke holes into the top of the loaves and pour some of the syrup onto the cake (I probably only used like 1/2 of the syrup mixture and I think I probably could have used even less since the cake ended up almost too wet)
  • Cool cake completely
  • Melt coconut manna and drizzle on top for an extra touch
  • Enjoy with friends!

3 creative ways to use coconut oil outside of cooking

Hi all.

Here is where I start off by saying I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve last blogged, but I was super busy with life, exercising and eating clean, yada, yada, yada….but now i’m back! :)

Is it just me or has coconut oil become the most popular girl at school lately? It seems like everyone has at least heard of it being used as a non-traditional fat source in cooking and baking, and now, more then ever, people are recognizing it’s amazing properties outside of the kitchen.


Coconut oil is solid at room temperature

I found this great source for 101 ways to use coconut oil and thought I would share 3 of my favorite.

1. Moisturizer with natural SPF. For awhile when I was training hard for the half-marathon, exercise-induced acne was becoming a real issue. My once clear complexion took a turn to Pizza Face town (my sisters actually called me Pizza Face as a kid) and I turned to using coconut oil as a moisturizer for my solution. I simply kept a small amount on my nightstand and would rub this in before bed to moisturize and disinfect over night. You will remember that coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is known for it’s anti-viral, -fungal and -bacterial properties, perfect for gently ridding your pores of the gunk that causes blemishes. Remember, a little goes a long way here. Also, be aware that excess oil can stain sheets and clothes (should come off in the wash), but you can blot excess off if you are worried, just give it a few minutes to soak in. Coconut oil can also be used on all skin in general. I’ve used it as the perfect post-shave lotion on my legs and to restore moisture to intensely chapped lips in the winter. The bonus- coconut oil has a natural amount (SPF4).

Coconut oil on your skin?!?! Try it and be amazed.

Coconut oil on your skin?!?! Try it and be amazed.

2. Promote overall hair health and growth. Recently, I switched over to a new shampoo that promised more body. While it did make my hair look more full, it also led to a very itchy scalp. I can’t be sure whether this was do to excess drying or a potential allergy, but the itch was driving me crazy (also made me feel self conscious to keep scratching). First, I discontinued using the shampoo and then, to soothe my scalp I made a concoction of coconut oil, tea tree and rosemary essential oils. Simply melt about 1/2 cup of coconut oil and mix in 2-3 drops of each essential oils (remember, some people can be sensitive to essential oils, so do a small test first). After a shower at night, I would take a small amount and massage this into my scalp, helping to distribute and increase the blood flow. I left this on overnight and showered normally in the morning. One treatment was literally all I needed to be completely moisturized. This mixture can also be used to treat mild forms of dandruff and a very small amount rubbed into your ends can cure frizzies and serve as an ultra-leave in conditioner. Again, a little goes a long way here so be careful, especially if you have fine hair or are prone to oily tresses. The bonus- tea tree and rosemary oils are known to promote hair growth and exhilarate your scalp with a gently tingle.

Be aware that if you live in high temp, this will become less solid

Be aware that in high temps, this mixture will melt. If this is an issue, try keeping it in the fridge- refreshing pits!

3. Homemade deodorant-without the harsh aluminum, parabens and perfumes. Here’s a bit of a confession- I’m a slight hypochondriac and chronic worrier of my health. I try to eat healthy and workout mainly because I want to feel the best I possibly can for my duration here on Earth. That being said, every morning, I would feel bad about rolling on that stick of deodorant when I know that the use of anti-persperants is questionable at best (lots of conflicting reports about its link to breast cancer, alzheimer’s, etc). So, I took charge of my pit health by making my own homemade deodorant. To create: combine 1/4 cup melted coconut oil,  1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder and ~10 drops of your favorite essential oil, I love lavender, but tea tree would also work here because of it’s cleansing properties. I put mine in a jar like this, but check out Cinnamon Eat’s recent innovative creation! Since our house lacks central AC, this mix can get pretty melted in summer and in winter can become so solid it’s hard to scoop. The next time I run out, I’m going to place in an old deodorant container and store in the fridge for easier application. Be aware- this may cause white marks on dark clothes, although it washes out OK. When turning to cleaner, healthier options, the key is to remember that you are making your health a priority and with that (at times) comes slight sacrifices in other areas (time, ease, efficiency, etc). The bonus- a clear conscious and it works!

A couple new ways that I am looking to use coconut oil in the future:

1) As an insect repellent and to ease the itching from the bites I already have

2) Spoonful a day for the countless reasons listed on the link above (clears infections, fights depression, but especially #65)

3) DIY toothpaste…interesting

Happy Friday! Can you see our friend within the basil?

Happy Friday! Can you see our friend within the basil?

Last minute Mother’s Day brunch ideas

 Blueberry coconut french toast

Blueberry coconut french toast

Are you frantically searching the internet for some healthy recipes to make for brunch tomorrow?

Lemon Chia Seed Poundcake

Lemon Chia Seed Poundcake

Take your hand off that mouse and look no further!

Apple Clafoutis

Apple Clafoutis

Check out some of these favorites previously featured on Scientifically Delicious, which are sure to please your Mom!

Paleo breakfast sandwich

Paleo breakfast sandwich

Breakfast/Brunch recipes:

Gluten-free Blueberry Coconut french toast casserole

Coconut flour Everything bagels

Banana POWER bread

Chocolate zucchini bread

Berry egg soufflé

Sugar/grain-free apple clafoutis

Egg, Parmesan and Oregano breakfast sandwich

Lemon Chia Seed Poundcake

Cranberry orange muffins

Raspberry mocha muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins