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My Three Words for 2017

December 29, 2016

My 3 Words for 2017 | Fake Food Free


Overall, I can say that 2016 had all the makings of a great year.

Personally, after 3 years of rental living we purchased and moved into our 3rd home. My great-niece was born and I got to meet her. My favorite pug turned 14. We traveled to a few new places including the Channel Islands, Door County, WI, Yosemite, and Barbados. We visited a lot of new breweries and met new beer people. I got to hang out with quite a few goats, and you know how much I love goats. 

Professionally, I attended an outstanding food photography workshop, secured a cookbook contract, photographed my first cookbook for a publishing company, worked with four new food clients, and wrote articles for three new print publications. I now have an official studio and office in our home with quite an extensive collection of props. 

So why am I giving into this overwhelming social pressure that 2016 was such a crappy year?

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This September

September 22, 2015

Baby Turnips and Mushrooms | In studio at the Farm to Table Photography Workshop in Seattle | Fake Food Free

I’m usually not one to comment on how quickly or slowly the months go by. It varies for me from year to year. It all depends on what I have going on.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking a lot about this September. Mostly about how it came along quickly, after what felt like a long August, and now suddenly it’s almost gone. 

There are 3 very good reasons for this.

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Grain Free Pizza Crust from Everyday Grain-Free Baking

February 20, 2015

I found this grain free pizza crust in my review copy of Everyday Grain-Free Baking by Kelly Smith. I quickly became a huge fan. It’s a variation that everyone will love regardless of your personal eating style.  

Grain-free, Gluten-free Pizza Crust from the cookbook Everyday Grain-Free Baking | Fake Food Free 

Everyone has an opinion about grains these days. Some people limit them because they think it helps them lose weight, or because they follow a specific eating style. Others stay away from the gluten in grains out of necessity due to a diagnosed medical condition, or because it makes them feel better. Grains are in the spotlight right now for better or worse, no doubt. 

I don’t speak much about the topic because opinions are so strong on every side of the argument. What I am happy about is that all this grain talk has given those with medically diagnosed gluten allergies many, many more food options and I think this is a great thing. 

I can only speak to my own experiences. I am not gluten free or grain free. Neither make me feel bad as others claim they do, and yes, I have experimented with cutting them out. I completely respect that your story might be that your life changed after cutting them out, but that story isn’t mine.

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5 Things You Will Love About the Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet

May 7, 2014
Have you ever picked up a book and after reading the first couple of paragraphs you were suddenly in a better mood? A smile slowly starts to spread on your face, the wheels in your brain kick into gear and a voice somewhere inside starts chanting – you can do this!


That’s how I felt the moment I cracked open Jennipher Walters and Erin Whitehead’s new book The Fit Bottomed Girl Anti-Diet. 
I think most people assume that if you work in health promotion in any way, or if your persona is all about eating vegetables and staying active, that a healthy lifestyle comes super easy for you. That choosing kale over French fries requires no internal debate and that every evening you lace up your shoes ecstatic over the four miles you have get to run.




I have my ups and downs. Times when I gain weight and lose weight. Times when kale tastes good and when it tastes awful. Times when I bust through an eight mile long run and when I have to walk after just one mile.


I have to admit I was experiencing a down when I got this book. It launched me right out of it!
If you are a blogger, you remember those blogs you associated with at the very beginning when you first started out. Fit Bottomed Girls is one of those for me; one I connected with. I can still remember Jenn’s motivating comments on some of my original posts here at Fake Food Free. She and the Fit Bottomed Girls crew continue to motivate me. I’ve been thrilled to be featured a Fit Blogger We Love on the site and share a few guest posts on Fit Bottomed Eats over the past few months.


Their new book truly encompasses what is great about their site. These are five things I loved about it, and you will, too.


  1. It’s about ditching the diet mentality and getting back in touch with eating because you’re hungry, because it tastes good and because it nourishes you.
  2. It’s loaded with tips for quick exercise sessions that encourage movement, not punishment. It even gave me a few new ideas.
  3. It focuses on the positive and being grateful. Too few healthy lifestyle books emphasize gratefulness. Being grateful for what you have, for the simple fact that you can walk or run, changes your attitude.
  4. It emphasizes balance. I know there are people who feel that balance is not an achievable reality, but I completely disagree. It’s one of those journey, not a destination type of things and this book highlights that.
  5. When you read scenarios in the book like the dreaded weigh-in you will laugh out loud while saying – holy crap, that is exactly me.
Intrigued? Good news, the book was released yesterday! Get yourself a copy and as they say – drop the diet drama.


If you are already a fan of the FBG website, then I’m sure you are also familiar with the Big-Ass Salad. It always makes me giggle a bit when I read the term, but I love it when Jenn shares her ideas for healthy lunches.


There are some quick and healthy recipes in the book that you’ll love, but I decided to share one of my salads with you in celebration of a healthy eating attitude.
Roasted Cherry and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Walnut Dressing | Fake Food Free
It felt like such a long wait, but cherries, nectarines and peaches are beginning to show themselves at the farmers market here. Since they come at a time when we go back and forth between cool and warm temps (well, that’s pretty much always the case in the Bay Area), I struggle to decide between a cold salad or a hot lunch. This recipe combines the two. Perfect solution.
Congrats to Jenn and Erin on the book!

Roasted Cherry and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Walnut Dressing

Servings: 2 to 3


4 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt


3 yellow nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 cup cherries, pitted
4 cups mixed greens
3 oz. crumbled cheese (Blue cheese or feta works well. I used goat milk feta.)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil or coconut oil.


In a small food processor, add 2 tablespoons of the walnut oil, walnuts and honey. Puree until the walnuts are finely chopped and a paste forms. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of walnut oil and puree for about 30 seconds. You will be left with a thick walnut paste and a sweet milky liquid. Transfer to a bowl.


Whisk in the vinegar and salt. This will take a little time, but trust me, it will turn into a thick dressing. Keep whisking. Set aside.
Place the nectarine slices and cherries in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until softened and the juices begin to bubble.


Place the greens in a bowl, add the warm fruit and cheese. Pour in the dressing and toss well to coat. (You can also serve the dressing on the side as pictured, but because the dressing is thick, it really works better to toss the salad in it.) Serve right away.
Roasted Cherry and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Walnut Dressing | Fake Food Free
Disclosure: The book in this post was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so. 

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.

Apple Peanut Butter Protein Shake Recipe

January 14, 2014

This peanut butter protein shake is filling and full of flavor! It uses both peanut butter and peanut flour. 

Apple Peanut Butter Protein Shake | Fake Food Free

I know, I know. Who needs another smoothie recipe? January hit and food blogs erupted with smoothies and juices. But bear with me. This one wasn’t planned. I threw it together the other day and it was so good that I felt required to share.

Three things about me and smoothies.

First, I should admit that I can’t stand the word smoothie. I do not know why. It has something to do with the way it rolls off the tongue. So you will find me calling them shakes. And for most that I make, protein shakes. This is because I’m always throwing things in that help naturally boost the protein content, like nut butters and nut flours.

Second, I go through phases with shakes. I either crave them or I can’t stand the thought of them. Each phase usually lasts about a month. Yet another thing that I have no explanation for.

Third, I’ve found that a pinch of salt makes all the difference. I’ve put together shake combos that turned out to be so disappointing, but a dash of salt, even in a sweet shake, is all it needed to bring out the flavors.

The past week or so I can feel myself entering the crave phase. (It might have something to do with the smoothie eruption I mentioned earlier.) So I’ve been trying to come up with some combinations that are outside the yogurt and banana box.  I’ve also been trying to find more ways to incorporate peanut flour because I love the stuff.

The result? This protein shake. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon with me and give it a try.

Apple Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Makes: 1 serving

1 cup milk (Any variety. I used almond, and if you make it yourself that’s even better.)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp light roasted peanut flour
1 tbsp natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 to 1 ½ cups of ice

Combine all ingredients in the blender, except for the ice. Puree until smooth.

Add the ice a little at a time and blend well, until it reaches your desired thickness.

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish recipes and images without written permission. Feel free to Pin images and share links to my posts, but please do not copy and paste recipes or photos and share them on other sites. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution.

8 Best Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2013
After two weeks of travel to visit New York City, explore the Christmas markets in Vienna and Krakow, and spend time with family in Indiana and Kentucky, I’m back at my computer. 
2013 has been so amazing I can hardly put it into words. I’m sure I’ll miss some things, but here are a few highlights.
Aside from how wonderful it is to now be a California resident, I also live by the water with access to fresh seafood and salty air. Something I’ve always wanted to do.
I ran my first marathon. (And I ran it across this.)
My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage.
I landed my first magazine column. (You can find it at Hobby Farm Home.)
I’ve finally (successfully) transitioned into a full-time freelancer. Writing about food, developing recipes and taking food photos is now my job. 
I got to gaze in awe at Lake Tahoe for my 35thbirthday. 
I was able to show my family around the Bay Area on their first visit to California.
I saw New York City at Christmas time.
I explored the Christmas markets of Vienna and Krakow.
What a year! I have no idea how 2014 is going to top it, but I’m convinced that it will.
A great year deserves a special toast. So here are 8 of my favorite cocktails to help you close out 2013 and ring in the New Year. Some are here on Fake Food Free, and others are from the work I’ve done for the blog the Daily Squeeze. 
(Just click on the drink name to get to the recipe.)
Grapefruit Moon Beer Cocktail 
The Spicy Citrus
Cherry Margarita
Red Wine and Navel Orange Sangria 
Spiced Old Fashioned 
Coconut Lime Dessert Martini
Orange Bourbon Apple Cider 
Orange Cosmo on the Rocks  

What will you be toasting to on Tuesday night? Any favorite memories from 2013?
Happy New Year!!

13 Best Tomato Recipes

August 1, 2013

I did it again.

Every year when the end of May rolls around, I forget. Unlike other bloggers who spend weeks building up to the big day, planning giveaways and making special recipes, it passes me by, and few weeks later I think – oops, I forgot again.

I’m talking about my food blogging anniversary. Fake Food Free has been alive and well for over 5 years. It’s overwhelming to think where this blog has taken me since I began typing my first words in our apartment in Southern Brazil.

Things have evolved through my travel, adventures in food culture and gardening. My photos are a bit better than those dark point-and-shoot images I started with, and I’d like to think my recipe writing has improved as well. I’ve met amazing people, and now I’m at a place where health, food and recipe writing, and taking food photos are my work. As you’ll hear me say often – Life is good.

And it all started with this blog.

While things have changed a bit here, and I don’t get to post as much as I used to, this is certainly not a farewell post. It’s a big Cheers, Prost and Saúde to another 5 and beyond!

What better way to celebrate than with tomatoes! Well, okay, a cocktail might be better, but right now we’re in the heart of summer and all I can think about are beautiful heirlooms, sweet cherries and plump Romas.

After 5 years of blogging, I’ve created and adapted my fair share of recipes using my favorite part of this season.

Here are 13 that you must make before the 2013 tomato season passes us by! (Click on the name and it will take you to the post with the recipe.)

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Grilled Marinara Pasta

Honey Peach and Tomato Black Rice Salad

Hearty Tomato, Kale and Mushroom Sauce

Roasted Tomato, Black Bean and Arugula Salad

Smoky Tomato Jam

Beer Cheese Tomato Soup

Honey-Pecan Tomato Tarts with Blue Cheese

BLT Spinach Salad with Fresh Garlic Dill Dressing

Heirloom Tomatoes and Cantaloupe

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Tomato Chile Sauce

Poblano Cilantro Salsa

Sweet and Simple Tomato Pepper Salad

Come See Me at the Dinner Bell in Hobby Farm Home!

December 7, 2012

Happy Friday!

Fridays have been full of all kinds of good news lately. Last week, the announcement of our moving to Oakland, CA. This week, my first food column is in print!

I’m thrilled to say that the January/ February 2013 issue of Hobby Farm Home magazine is now on newsstands. You can find my article, recipes and photos in the column, Dinner Bell. I can’t express how humbled and excited I am to be a part of one of my favorite magazines.

My content aside, this magazine is excellent for anyone who loves cooking, gardening, hobby farming and homesteading. Add a subscription to your gift list. 

I’m co-hosting a cookie exchange this weekend. Have you ever hosted or participated in one? I decided to overlook my 20 favorite holiday cookie recipes, and I’m trying something new. I’ll be back with the recipe next week!

Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards

August 31, 2012
Every month I hope that my issue of Country Living arrives on a day that coincides with an eventless evening so I can sit down and dig in. First, I turn right to the Letters section to see the Reader Pet Profile. This month it was Sir William the sheep who’s favorite snack happens to be raw pumpkin. I like mine cooked, but Sir William and I have a lot in common. 
After a good laugh, I start the search for rustic, homey decorating ideas, and then on to the recipes. By the time I’m through, the corner of almost every page is neatly folded over. 
From there, it’s straight to my laptop where I start searching the Country Living site for all those favorites in the magazine so I can put them on Pinterest. It’s my way of sharing these favorite things with others, and bookmarking them for myself. 
I like this magazine…a lot. 
Considering how much I look forward to receiving Country Living each month, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that Fake Food Free has been selected as a finalist in the cooking category for the 2012 Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards
As a finalist, the blog is also in the running for the Reader’s Choice award, where you, the reader, get to pick your favorite blog. Voting opened August 31st and you can vote every day until September 17. 
Click on the link below to vote! There is no account registration, or log in necessary to vote. You can simply click, check your favorite blog (I hope it’s Fake Food Free!), and submit. I appreciate each and every vote you might send my way. 

Cast your vote here! 

Pure Beef: Tamarind Beef Satay

May 24, 2012

I first made this delicious beef satay recipe back in 2012. Every summer it continues to be a great go-to meal or snack when we fire up the grill for some outdoor cooking. 

Grilled Tamarind Beef Satay Recipe | Fake Food Free


The email subject read, “As far from fake beef as one can get.”

That was enough to spark my curiosity.

Before I opened it I wasn’t aware of the cookbook that awaited me, of the story that would later have me nodding my head, or the fact that it would be so educational that my husband would hijack it for a day and read the first 70 pages.

Pure Beef Cookbook

The title says a lot, but it does not say it all. I’ve found this cookbook to serve as a novel as I have read through Lynne Curry’s story. Lynne is a former vegetarian who now finds herself in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley enjoying what I can only imagine is one of the most beautiful places on earth with some of the best food.

I live in central Kentucky and it’s pretty beautiful here, too. As I write this I just happen to have a chorus of cows singing from the farm behind our house, but I’ve been to Oregon and I love it. This can be considered – how I related to this book #1.

Number 2, is the story of how a vegetarian came to enjoy the flavor of grassfed beef, culturally, nutritionally, and ethically. To paraphrase roughly, the moment was during her international travels in Guatemala when she was graciously offered grassfed beef as a gesture of hospitality.

Tamarind Beef Satay recipe from the Cookbook Pure Beef


While I have never been a vegetarian, I fully believe that culture and respect for the people of that culture should override what we will and will not eat. I’ve tried many things, and maybe one day I will be put in a position where I just can’t stomach it, but as of now this is my view. It was a view that I felt I shared with the author as I read, making this book even more meaningful.

I was never all that crazy about beef until I enjoyed the local grassfed beef of the Bluegrass. This opportunity occurred only about 2 years ago when we returned to the States. Now it is the only beef I will buy. There are many reasons for this, and I will let you read through these when you get your copy of Pure Beef. Considering my background, nutrition is one reason.

As I moved past the why of the book, I got to the how. How to cut beef, how to buy it, how to cook it. I still have a lot more to read, but this is as much a resource for my library as a cookbook.

Then you get to the recipes. There truly is a recipe for every cut, and an endless amount of tips on how to cook it all. Coffee Bean-Chile Rubbed Sirloin Roast, Boneless Oxtail and Buckwehat Crepe Purses, and Baked Argentinian Empanadas to name a few.

There are side dishes and condiments galore as well, with and without beef, such as Roasted Corn Salsa, Butternut Squash Bread Pudding, and Lemony Chard Bundles. There are also variations on recipes such as the gluten-free meat loaf.

There were too many great recipes to choose from, so I had to use a bit of a spin-the-bottle approach to select one. I landed on Tamarind Beef Satay.

Tamarind Beef Satay


We picked up a tri tip from our local grassfed beef source, Marksbury Farm Market. It worked beautifully and all the credit has to go to my husband. One tip he picked up from the book was to freeze the meat for about 20 minutes before slicing it thinly for the beef satay. He sliced, I mixed the marinade.

This recipe is simple and the beef satay cooked up on the grill quickly. The sweet and tart flavors of the tamarind, honey and fish sauce go so well together. Next time I’ll probably add just a little more chile sauce because we are spicy food fans. We served up the satay with grilled corn and a green salad. Easy and delicious!

Tamarind Beef Satay

Recipe reprinted with permission from Pure Beef © 2012 by Lynne Curry, Running
Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.

From the book:

Tamarind is an intoxicating sour and sweet fruit from Indonesia where satay is the go-to snack on a stick. It is incredible with beef, so I created a tamarind marinade that lacquers thin beef strips to grill or broil. Satay makes a wonderful appetizer; to fill it out for a main dish, I accompany it with another Indonesian favorite, a fruit salad called Rujak, which has as many renditions as pasta salad does in this country. My version is a beautiful chopped salad of cucumbers, jicama, pineapple, and mango that’s crunchy, juicy, sweet, and tart. Served along with Sticky Rice or steamed rice, it turns satay into a tantalizing meal, just the thing to wake up your taste buds in the middle of winter.

Makes 4 servings as a main dish; 8 as an appetizer

3 tablespoons tamarind paste*
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon chile sauce, such as sambal oelek
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 to 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak, sliced into 1/4-inch thick strips

Mix the tamarind paste, honey, fish sauce, chile sauce, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Pound the peanuts in a mortar and pestle or in a heavy-duty plastic bag with a rolling pin to the texture of fine breadcrumbs and stir into the tamarind sauce. Put the beef strips in the bowl, toss to coat, and marinate for about 15 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill for high heat (425°F to 475°F), scraping the grate clean and oiling it lightly, or preheat the broiler. Thread the slices onto wooden or metal skewers, stitching the beef on and then stretching it along the skewer so that it looks like a miniature banner. Thread any short strips onto the same skewer.

Grill or broil the skewers for 1 to 2 minutes per side and serve the satay warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Tamarind is available from Asian grocery markets in several different forms. Tamarind paste is the easiest form that can be used straight from the jar. If your tamarind is labeled concentrate, use only 1 tablespoon and mix it with 2 tablespoons water. If you have a block of tamarind, chop about 1/2 cup of it, use a fork to mash it with 6 tablespoons of boiling water, and let it soften for about 5 minutes. Use a fine-meshed strainer to extract 3 tablespoons of pulp, pressing on the mixture firmly with a spoon.



Disclosure: A copy of this cookbook was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.