Sweet Potato Brownies (gluten and grain free, no sugar added, and delicious!)

I take Ben and Ella to a homeschool group in Miami Beach on Tuesdays, and each parent has to volunteer an hour of his or her time every week. Since Ella is a bit…high maintenance at this age, the volunteer coordinator came up with the wonderful idea of letting me make healthy baked goods for the weekly group. I have made something different each week, usually either cookies or muffins, and for our year end party I made a really yummy (if I may say so myself) superfruit cobber. Today was our last meeting for the school year, and I’ll be honest with you, I think I saved the best for last. I’ve been looking at this brownie recipe every week since I started my baking project, and I always lament that I don’t have any cooked sweet potatoes, nor do I want to take the time to make them. Well my friends, I had a lovely baked sweet potato just waiting to be turned into this dessert and I am so glad I went for it. I may or may not be eating one with Haagen-Dazs right at this very moment!


Sweet Potato Brownies (recipe adapted from Cooking Against the Grain: Sweet Revenge by Orleatha Smith)

12 large dates, soaked in warm water until soft, then pitted

1 cup cooked sweet potato

3 eggs

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp tapioca starch

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

In a blender or food processor blend dates with eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla until relatively smooth. Add sweet potato and blend. Scoop into a bowl and stir in dry ingredients.

Bake in mini or regular muffin tins or a 9×13 baking dish. I used mini muffin tins and got about 40 adorable little bite size brownies. If you are not using muffin papers make sure to oil the tins, I’m sure lining a baking pan with parchment paper or oiling it well would be helpful too. The recipe says 30-35 min for the 9×13 baking dish, my mini guys took about 20 min but I recommend checking them after 15.



Cauliflower “Mac ‘n’ Cheese”

photo (33)

When I started this blog I thought it would be at least partly a food blog, but I have mostly been slacking in that department! I do a lot of cooking for my family but since I stopped cooking for clients I haven’t been keeping track of recipes or taking many photos. I do feel inspired to take a photo of the finished product when I make something that I consider special, like this cauliflower “mac n cheese.” I shared the photo on Instagram and Facebook and a few people requested the recipe which is why I am taking to the blog to share!


1 head cauliflower, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

{Mix, then roast on a baking sheet.}

Cream sauce:

All the random dairy products in your fridge that you want to use up, total 1 1/2 cups

3 tbsp butter

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp cream cheese or sour cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup shredded cheddar (or whatever you like/have on hand)

salt and pepper to taste


Almond flour or breadcrumbs

Shredded parmesan (or any kind of cheese)

While cauliflower is roasting melt butter in a saucepan over medium low heat, then add cream and/or half & half and/or milk to make 1 1/2 cups. Once it is hot, stir in dijon mustard and cream cheese or sour cream (the point really is to use up the random dairy in my fridge, and it all tastes great mixed up together!). Once that is fully combined, turn off heat and stir in yogurt and shredded cheese until just melted. Taste and add salt and pepper (or hot sauce if you don’t have little ones who mind!).

Transfer roasted cauliflower to a casserole dish, pour on the glorious cheese sauce and stir to combine. Top with a few handfuls of almond flour or breadcrumbs and a generous handful of shredded cheese. Bake at 350 until bubbling around the edges and toasty on top.

Serve with a green salad and a fresh, tart dressing like lemon and olive oil to balance the richness of the creamy casserole.

Enjoy the decadent grain-free dinner, and the accolades from anyone you share it with!



Grain-Free Maple Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles!

Since Thanksgivingukah (the best joint holiday of all time) is quickly approaching I have been thinking about food non stop and dreaming of new desserts. The first one I have tested and enjoyed is for our homeschooling group’s end of semester party tomorrow, and I like to call them snickerdoodles because it sounds funny and the cookies are dipped in cinnamon sugar, but you can just call them deeeelicious! They will be enjoyed by gluten/grain free folks as well as everyone else, who won’t miss the grains at all. Plus, it’s a one bowl recipe! WIN.

I double this recipe every time because they get eaten up so fast, but I will post the regular size batch in case not everyone wants to make four dozen cookies at once. The math is easy to double, thank goodness, because fractions are not my friends.

Cookies: (makes 24)

1 cup peanut butter (if salted omit salt from the recipe)

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut sugar ((or other unrefined sugar)

1 egg

2 cups almond flour (aka almond meal)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt



1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. First put the peanut butter in a bowl, then mix in the maple syrup, then mix in the coconut oil, then mix in the egg. On top of the wet ingredients, pile on the almond flour, coconut sugar, baking soda and salt and mix well. Scoop spoonfuls of whatever size you like and dip one side (or the whole thing if you like it sweet) of the cookies into the cinnamon sugar, and place sugar side up on the baking sheet. These cookies will spread slightly, so I recommend putting them about 1 inch apart.

Have a beautiful holiday everyone! I am thankful that I started this blogging journey just over one year ago, and I can’t wait to see what the next year holds! Feel free to share what you are thankful for in the comments 🙂



Grain Free, Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies (they taste good!)

Cutie cookie ready for the oven

My son Ben has been on a grain free, sugar free diet for the past month or so (honestly I have no idea how long, it feels like forever!). It has been challenging to come up with ideas for what to cook, especially things he can take to camp for lunch and snack. I started a page on Facebook (in addition to The Joy of Caitlin page, go “like” it to stay up to date on posts and other things from around the internet that I think you might find interesting!) to reach out to others who are working on similar diets with their families. The page is called Grain Free, Sugar Free Kids and I’m using it to share the recipes I create and find on other blogs. I figure that not everyone who reads The Joy of Caitlin is interested in lots and lots of grain free recipes, but if you are, check out the new page!

That being said, I am sharing one of my best loved new grain free, sugar free recipes here because it has quickly become a favorite in our house. I was inspired by this recipe which is vegan, but since we’re not, I like to add a few eggs for texture. I think anyone would like these cookies as a healthy snack. If you get to eat “real” desserts this may not taste like a treat to you, but to Ben, they are decadent and delicious!

Peanut Butter cookies
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
1 mashed banana
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp stevia
1/4 cup coconut flour

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Process everything in food processor. If it is too much to fit in your food processor you can process just the chickpeas with the coconut oil and eggs, then stir in the rest by hand. My food processor is really old so it wasn’t so excited about this “dough” idea. I think a newer model would handle it fine.

Roll the dough into balls then press them flat onto the cookie sheet with the palm of your hand. With a fork, make a little “hashtag” on each cookie (they look like real peanut butter cookies!) Bake for about 10-15 min, every oven is different so check on them after 10. They should be firm but not overly browned. Mine got golden brown on the bottom and around the edges but stayed moist inside. Mmm…

Fresh batch!

A few of these pretty babies with a glass of homemade almond milk and I am super satisfied.

They aren’t just a snack, they are real food! 🙂

Ben turns 5!!!

As most parents say, I can’t believe Ben is five already! Actually, I can believe it. In a certain way the time has flown by, yet I have watched him grow each day. I don’t think a single day has gone by that I haven’t marveled at him. He is a kind, courageous, interesting, interested boy and I feel so lucky that I get to be his mom. Ben is still young enough that he wants to sit on my lap and snuggle, yet old enough that he can do most things for himself. This is a sweet age that bridges the end of the little kid era. Soon he will lose his baby teeth and learn to read and maybe not want to hold my hands in public or give me a kiss goodnight on the lips. Needless to say, I’m really savoring his little smile and his need for mama love. I try to balance my attention by offering him support and help without babying or spoiling him. It can be hard when I notice so clearly how big he is getting! As always I find my best parenting strategy is to be present in the moment and aware. When I am truly present I can enjoy the paradoxically quickly/slowly changing stages of my children’s lives. I can watch Ella sound out her first words in English and Hebrew. I can play Legos with Ben and enjoy listening to him develop an imaginative story. In that state I can also choose how to react when one of the kids is pushing my buttons. I don’t always succeed at this, but when I do it feels like a triumph.

Here are some photos from the three days of Ben’s birthday celebrations

All dressed up for his party at school “Hey Ben cool outfit!”
It was so sweet to see him celebrate with his friends. It really felt like a beautiful closure to a somewhat difficult school year.
Birthday boy woke up to find a slinky under his pillow (old school!)
Birthday boy woke up to find a slinky under his pillow (old school!)
We had Ben’s party at the water park inside our favorite place, TY Park. It was FUN!
She likes it!
She likes it!
Ben and Uncle Yoni enjoying the water slide
Ben and Uncle Yoni enjoying the water slide
Party people!
Party people!
Ella making a HILARIOUS face as she scopes out one of Ben's presents
Ella making the most hilarious face EVER as she scopes out one of Ben’s presents “Ben won’t notice if I take a peek inside this box…” She’s even on her tippy toes!
Preparing the ever important cupcakes under the watchful eyes of the five-and-under crowd
Adding a few finishing touches to the ever important cupcakes under the watchful eyes of the five-and-under crowd.
mmm they were as good as they looked (if I may say so myself)!
mmm they were as good as they looked (if I may say so myself)!
Ben was a little overwhelmed with everyone singing happy birthday.
Ben was a little overwhelmed with everyone singing happy birthday.
We love you Ben!
We love you Ben!
Proud mama
Proud mama
Final extravagant birthday treat on Ben's real birthday: ice cream at Frieze. He did okay afterward, I however felt awful and regretted it. It was really really delicious though!
Final extravagant birthday treat on Ben’s real birthday: ice cream at Frieze. He was a little off but mostly did okay afterward. I however felt awful and regretted it. It was really really delicious though!


Leading up to Ben’s party I spent about a week deliberating about what to make for the birthday cake. Part of me wanted to just say forget the special dietary changes and make him a big chocolate cake. Part of me wanted to buy him a Carvel ice cream cake because we have done that almost every year for his birthday. Part of me wanted to make some kind of elaborate raw creation out of nuts and dates. My internal conversation went on and on. I didn’t want to bother making a raw treat because he hasn’t reacted well to anything made with dates, and if he was going to freak out, I figured it might as well be for something really special and decadent. I didn’t want to go the straight sugar route because his reactions to the occasional sweets we have tried since we changed his diet have been really unpredictable. I didn’t want to risk him having a super meltdown at his own party. His reactions to grains have been sometimes even stronger than any sugars. So, I opted to make grain free, fresh fruit sweetened cupcakes, topped with homemade whipped cream made from organic grass fed cream, and some straight up real sugar bright blue sprinkles to make them look really special and fun in a “this isn’t hippie food” kind of way. I tried to make strawberry cupcakes first, which tasted good but the texture was off. Then I adapted my muffin recipe to make banana blueberry cupcakes and they were just what I was looking for. Moist, delicious texture, sweet but not too sweet, topped with the rich whipped cream…I was really happy with them.

Here’s the recipe:

ready for the oven
ready for the oven
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed banana
  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • stevia equivalent of 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix dry ingredients in a smaller bowl.

Mix blueberries into dry ingredients, then combine with wet ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly. It will be thick, but if the batter seems too dry add a little more almond milk.

Spoon a small amount of batter into lined muffin tin. They are very moist so you only want to fill about 1/3 way in a normal muffin tin or all the way in a mini muffin tin. I had enough batter to make a very thin cake in a round dish as well.

Bake until browned around the edges and somewhat firm (check them after about 15 min, then every few minutes after that).

Let cool for about 30 min in the muffin tins, then take them out and let them cool the rest of the way.

For the whipped cream I literally just whipped a container of heavy cream with a tiny bit of maple syrup. If you have extras, don’t tell anyone and save them in an unmarked jar to put in your coffee. I of course didn’t have any extras. wink wink.

If you make them let me know what you think!!