Imagine writing notes to your children in preparation for your impending death.
What would you say?
How would you handle the knowledge that your time on earth was about to end?
And what would you do with those notes…
…if you were still around to experience your children’s lives five, ten, fifteen years later?
My hair stood on end reading Megan Stevens’ health story (click “my cookbook” in the menu), and I hope you’ll take a minute today to skim it over.
Spoiler alert: it’s not a cancer story.
I know that you’ll love and appreciate the discovery that a dietary change – and diet alone! – healed Megan’s entire family and pulled her back from the brink of death, literally.
Megan and her husband now run a grain-free, sugar-free café in Oregon, and I was introduced to her through a mutual friend and colleague, Wardee Harmon of GNOWFGLINS.
I’m smitten with her sweet personality already, and I’m even more head over heels about her new cookbook, Eat Beautiful: Grain-free, Sugar-free and Loving It.
I love experimenting in the kitchen, but I’m really a stir fry and soup kind of girl – I am not bold enough to mess with baking recipes beyond creating different flavors, because messing up and wasting food makes me want to give up.
Megan’s no quitter – she’s put thousands of hours into experimenting with grain-free baking techniques and has perfected a very unique style.
Most of her recipes use no flour at all (although coconut flour plays an occasional supporting role to her technique and a few recipes include almond flour), like these chocolate cupcakes that I made for my kids’ birthday party last month:
They were a hit even with people without any food allergies or sensitivities, and I’d venture to say the texture is pretty darn close to “regular” cupcakes.
That was a good thing, too, because I didn’t get to make the gluten-free box mix I’d planned for the vanilla cupcakes, spending 6 hours in the ER with my mom after a fall instead. I was still able to make Megan’s chocolate ganache (recipe shared on the eBook page!) in the morning before church, and that’s saying something for a brand new recipe under pressure!
It’s really easy, took maybe 5-10 minutes to whip up, and it’s delicious. My maple syrup started crystalizing, I think, so the texture wasn’t awesome after the first day, but the taste is decadent. AND it works as a “magic shell” sort of chocolate sauce on ice cream, a happy discovery at the party in the heat of the day. I’ve tried other supposed magic shell recipes, and I’ve had a terrible time getting the ingredients to mix together, but this one was a cinch.
About Eat Beautiful
I was going to write a little bit today about why someone might want to embark on a grain-free, sugar-free diet, but honestly? If you’re going to love Eat Beautiful, the book, you already know you need to cut grains and sugar.
Maybe you’ve felt like this:
If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to view it on YouTube.
The secret grain-free baking style purposely avoids nut flours because when you buy them pre-processed, they can quickly go rancid before you get the bag into the freezer.
Instead, Megan has figured out how to make just about any baked good imaginable grain-free with a combination of soaked, raw nuts and often seeds or seed meal. You don’t have to sprout or dehydrate the nuts, just soak, drain, and blend into the batter. (Honestly, it’s probably a quicker method than baking with flour, and most certainly more efficient than grinding your own flour.)
In her own words via email to me:
The method is used one time by Dr. Natasha in her GAPS cookbook and it spurred years of recipe development for me, using the method with every kind of baked good.
I have never seen anyone else bake using this method of soaked and wet. Although the vegan raw community uses soaked and wet a lot; they don’t use it, though, to make batters that get baked.
I have seen a few bloggers use whole nuts. But I don’t see this emphasis on first sprouting, then using the nut wet, instead of dehydrating. Any nut or seed can be used and the cookbook has recipes that include them all. That’s it in a nutshell! 😉
I’m so impressed with the care Megan has taken with her recipes, and I know that she’s not only had dozens of recipe testers helping her refine every step, but also thousands of customers in her real life, brick-and-mortar café to be taste testers for her process. Beyond her special nutty baking method, Megan also avoids any refined sugars by using either stevia, xylitol, or maple syrup or honey – and she does some fancy things with balancing multiple sweeteners to nail a perfect flavor and texture profile.
Again, this is the kind of baking balance and mastery that I couldn’t even dream of achieving, and I love that someone else has done it for me!
She’s sharing the best of the best of her recipes from the grain-free, refined-sugar-free café in Eat Beautiful, and I think you’ll find it an intriguing read. The Kindle version was released a week ago and it was quickly considered a #1 New Release by Amazon, quite an honor and a testament to how much longing people have for recipes that make their restrictive diets feel delicious again.
(You can buy the softcover edition HERE on Amazon with my affiliate link, but you’ll want to check out the bonuses Megan is offering with the e-version first!)
A Little Help Holding Your Hand
Megan has put together a great launch special:
- the 288-page eCookbook in PDF, Nook, and Kindle formats (you get all 3 versions!)
- the new grain-free baking technique that gives moist, delicious, digestible baked goods
- 5 free bonus videos
- 4 bonus recipes (included in bonus videos)
And the best part is that the eBook package has a 30-day, no questions asked money-back guarantee, so you’re out nothing if you get the book, peruse it, and decide it’s just not for you.
A Few Improvements I’d Make
As with anything I review, I always have a bit of constructive criticism – if everything was perfect, you’d stop believing me!
- I wish there were even more pictures. The photos included are great, but every recipe doesn’t have a picture. I’m getting trained to expect that by Pinterest, I guess! Photos always make me really want to make a recipe.
- There are a lot of nuts. Not every recipe uses nuts, and Megan’s special technique can sometimes use seeds or
- 28 recipes are AIP approved (auto-immune protocol diet). That means no nuts or dairy.
- The recipes will be expensive to make. Grain-free baking typically isn’t cheap if you use eggs + coconut flour or almond flour anyway, so if you need to eat grain-free, you’re used to it. But if your food budget isn’t very big, these treats will largely need to be occasional indulgences rather than everyday occurrences. Flax, chia,
- They sound intimidating at first. Recipes with wildly different ingredients or techniques you’re not used to can, at first glance, seem like they’ll take a long time to make or be complicated. I think most of Megan’s recipes are actually likely very easy – many are made in a blender without a lot of fanfare or millions of steps – so maybe you shouldn’t worry.
Just focus on chocolate cake and you’ll feel much better:
Here’s what Megan has to say in the introduction about making these grain-free, sugar-free recipes accessible:
A word we love is “alternatives.” When you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with diabetes, autism, an autoimmune disease, celiac disease, leaky gut, asthma, ADD or ADHD, IBS, SIBO, candida overgrowth or food allergies, you need new foods – more nutritious and just as delicious – to replace the old favorites.
I have filled these pages with years of recipe research and customer-tested favorites. I have taught cooking classes for years and have shared students favorites. And each recipe is packed with possibilities and variations, because many readers may have food allergies that can be limiting. An ice cream made with homemade cashew milk can be substituted with sprouted pine nut milk or the economical and easy-to-make (or buy) coconut milk. I give you not just one recipe for chocolate frosting, but three. And there are four different chocolate chip cookie recipes!
Many recipes reflect the comfort foods we long for, but in healthier versions, like Pumpkin Pie or Blueberry Muffins. Others put a twist on traditional flavors by marrying them with revolutionary changes that surprise and delight the palate, such as Chocolate Cake made with grated beets or zucchini and spread with Avocado-Hemp Chocolate Fudge Ganache, or Pizza Dough topped with veggies, sausage, and Dairy-free Nut Cheese. Some ingredients may be difficult to access outside of urban areas, but I have put the greatest emphasis on making recipes that are accessible to everyone, wherever you may live, by providing substitutions and resources for ordering hard-to-find items.
The book includes over 120 recipes in all these categories:
- Waffles, Pancakes and Crepes
- Scones and Scuffins
- Loaves and Muffins (including a Sloppy Joe Muffin I have to try! Grain-free bread that actually holds up around meat sauce? Unheard of!)
- Bars and Cookies
- Cakes and Frostings
- Easy Eggs, Clafouti and Porridges
- Savory Breads, Pizza, Rolls and Casseroles (Oh yes, there’s a sandwich bread in there, and it uses her masterful – and quick! – method)
- Toppings, Sauces, Custards, Puddings and Compotes
- Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream
- Feeding Kids
So the book isn’t just about grain-free replacements for baked goods, but it includes pretty much everything but the meat and vegetables that you could want to eat. Meat and veggies are easy on a grain-free diet; breads and treats are not.
Photo credits: Megan Stevens (except for the cupcakes, which are mine)
Disclosure: Of course I’m helping Megan promote her new book because it’s amazing, but I will earn commission as well – that doesn’t change your price at all, so this is definitely a win-win-win situation.