Category Archives: Gluten-Free

Dinner at Cucina Alessa

Four years ago, I first wrote about Cucina Alessa (please excuse the rough photography).  I loved all the food and yet somehow I never went back.  When my mom was brainstorming ideas for her birthday dinner, we agreed that it was high time we returned to Cucina Alessa and I’m so glad we did.  So consider this dinner at Cuinca Alessa part deux.

When I dined at Cucina Alessa the first time, I wasn’t following a gluten-free diet so my entrée choices revolved around pizza and pasta.  Since I am more on a gluten-free/paleo diet now my food choices have definitely changed and I’m happy to report that Cucina Alessa has plenty of gluten-free options if you want them.

For our appetizer course we decided to go with the calamari (the Englishman’s personal fave) and the fresh burrata.

Cucina Alessa Calamari

Burrata is one of my favorite cheeses in life, and this one did not disappoint.  It was all the creamy perfection you would expect and more.  The calamari was also a big hit among the table and it was devoured in minutes.

Cucina Alessa Burrata

For my main course, I ordered the grilled salmon with broccoli and a side of roasted rosemary potatoes.  Since I am currently obsessed with all the salmon, I was excited to try this dish.

Cucina Alessa SalmonThe salmon was grilled perfectly and came with a lemon garlic sauce that wasn’t too heavy or overpowering with the dish.  If you are looking for a non-pasta option at Cucina Alessa, definitely go for this (and get some potatoes on the side).

The Englishman went with the gnocchi which he greatly enjoyed and would recommend to any gnocchi lovers out there.

Cucina Alessa Gnocchi

My mom got a shrimp pasta in a lobster sauce – I only tasted the shrimp but the sauce on it was fantastic.

Cucina Alessa Lobster SauceMy dad went with the chicken Parmesan, which is one of the best classic dishes on the menu. Chicken, pasta, cheese; what’s not to love?

Cucina Alessa Chicken ParmAnd because we were celebrating a birthday, some gelato was required at the end of the evening.

cucina alessa birthday gelato

I’m thinking it won’t be four years before I return to Cucina Alessa again.

Spring Reset Week 2

Happy Monday!  We are officially in week two of the spring reset and this week was definitely a lot more challenging that week 1 to say the least.  While I’m all for clean eating and resetting, I definitely could not do a diet like this long-term.  And spoiler alert: this week definitely included some slip ups.  So let’s dive straight into the spring reset week 2 recap.

So after week 1, I still wasn’t feeling super awesome.  Digestion was off, and I was feeling low in energy so I made sure to have sweet potatoes at every dinner.  I went to yoga on Monday and while class was awesome, I just wasn’t feeling myself.

EKAM Yoga AsanaI started my Tuesday off with a run and then went to make my 21 D2D approved coconut flour pancakes to have for breakfast.  And honestly after breakfast?  I just felt awful.  Sick, dizzy, nauseated, the works.  I had a smoothie with banana for lunch and still didn’t feel great (also, bananas tend to not sit well with me).  It was about that time that I accepted the fact that this was not just detox symptoms but instead some icky stomach virus that appears to be making the rounds.

When I’m sick, the last thing on earth I want is meat or raw veggies.  When I had my terrible bout of food poisoning last year all I wanted was brown rice pasta and tapioca pudding.  So I caved and had some homemade gluten-free granola bars.  And buckwheat toast with some butter.  Anything to feel better.

I’ll admit I kind of beat myself up about this at first – but then I realized, hey I’m sick, I’m human, and it’s JUST FOOD.  I spent Wednesday still feeling awful and the only thing that sounded good was toast and butter.  So I rolled with it.  I know these “challenges” are put in place for a reason, but like Joelle wrote last week, you have to do what works for you.

And honestly?  It’s not like I went spiraling face first into a bowl of ice cream (although that does sound good).  Once I was no longer feeling like death, I made a few 21 DSD friendly recipes like some zoodles with tahini sauce and ground turkey.


I also made some plantain tortillas from the Zenbelly Cookbook and these were so flippin’ easy that I must share the recipe.  All it includes is 3 mashed plantains, 2 egg whites, and 3 tbsp of an oil or fat of your choice (I used olive oil).  Mix, spread spoonfuls of batter onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  So simple and so tasty.

plantain tortillas

So where does that leave me now?  I’m still sticking to my clean eating plan for April (and let’s be honest, life) but I’m not going to beat myself up if I have a few gluten-free grains here and there or some fruit.  The whole purpose of the spring reset was for me to clean up my eating and drinking, and I know that I can survive without added sugar no problem.

Has anyone else done the 21 Day Sugar Detox or something similar?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Banana Coconut Cookies

When I decided I wanted to do my spring reset, I downloaded the 21-Day Sugar Detox
book onto my ipad so I could have a library of quick recipes at my fingertips.  If you are also participating in a spring reset, or are looking to have a sugar-free treat at Easter, I recommend these Banana Coconut Cookies.

Coconut Banana Cookies 2These cookies have minimal ingredients, loaded with healthy fats from the eggs and are delicious!  Plus, they come together in about 5 minutes, so it doesn’t get much easier than that.  I will say if you are NOT a banana fan, I don’t recommend making these cookies as the banana taste is pretty prominent, but otherwise this is a great recipe to whip up when you want a little treat.

The recipe calls for shredded coconut, but I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened coconut flakes and they still came out just fine.  Plus, they look like little bird nests!

Pro Tip: these cookies are extra delicious when you pop them in the freezer and have them as a little frozen snack.

Banana Coconut Cookies (from the 21 Day Sugar Detox book)


1/4 cup banana, mashed

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 eggs

2 tsp melted butter or coconut

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of Salt


Preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a small bowl mash your banana.  Add your egg, butter and vanilla and blend well.

In a larger bowl add your coconut shreds, cinnamon and salt.  Gently fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and continue to mix until well blended.

Gently scoop your cookies onto your baking sheet (this should make about 8 cookies).  Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom.

Coconut Banana CookiesCool, eat and enjoy!  (or put in the freezer for later).  2015 cookbook challenge – check!

Anyone else have a delicious sugar-free recipe they want to share?

Grain Free Banana Macadamia Nut Bread

Last week Amazon had a flash sale on some of my favorite paleo/gluten-free cookbook authors’ ebooks, so I took advantage and downloaded a bunch of ebooks to my ipad, one of them being the The Zenbelly Cookbook by Simone Miller. With Easter rapidly approaching and Simone’s book loaded with delicious recipes, I decided to create a grain free banana macadamia nut bread to see how I liked it.  Safe to say the 2015 cookbook challenge has struck gold once again.

grain free banana macadamia nut bread

There’s a strong stigma surrounding grain-free baking, especially if you are dealing with someone who prefers your standard white flour, butter and sugar.  But truth be told, grain-free baking results in some pretty tasty treats.  I’ve had people tell me that sometimes they like the grain or gluten-free version better than the original (see: gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes).

I still haven’t decided if I will bring this bread to our family’s Easter brunch, but it’s definitely a hit in our house.  The macadamia, coconut and banana remind me of those delicious pancakes I had in Maui, and the chocolate chips just make this bread that much more awesome.

If you haven’t experimented with grain-free baking before or are curious to try it, then I highly recommend this recipe!  I tend to feel better when I don’t have gluten in my diet, and this grain free banana macadamia nut bread is the perfect thing when you are looking for a quick breakfast on the go or want a sweet (but not too sweet) treat.

Grain-Free Banana Macadamia Nut Bread (adapted from the Zenbelly Cookbook)


1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

3 eggs

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch (original recipe calls for arrowroot powder)

2 tablespoons coconut flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan.

Combine your bananas, eggs, butter, vanilla in a bowl and mix until well blended.  In a larger bowl, mix your almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking soda and salt.

Gently pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Add your macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour your batter into your loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.  Cool, eat and enjoy!