The Real Foodie

Grain Free Gingerbread Cookies


To get in the Christmas spirit this year, I made gingerbread cookies with my daughter, using  mini holiday cookie cutters. Here is a healthier and more digestible version of gingerbread cookies using homemade nut flour instead of refined wheat flour. I adapted this recipe from The Healthy Home Economist blog which was adapted from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. It is important to find truly raw Italian organic almonds because most U.S. almonds, even those labeled as raw are either steam treated or sprayed with carcinogenic propylene oxide. It is also important to make your own almond flour, as store bought almond flour has already lost most of its nutrients from being on the shelf for so long and it hasn’t been soaked or sprouted to eliminate the phytic acid, which causes digestive problems and blocks mineral absorption. I always had a hard time digesting store bought almond flour and didn’t like the taste, until I started making my own flour from soaked and dehydrated almonds. The taste of homemade almond flour doesn’t compare.


1 1/2 cups raw organic Italian almonds

1/2 cup pastured organic butter, melted

1 cup arrowroot powder

1 pastured organic egg

1/2 cup Sucanat or Organic Whole Cane Sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground organic ginger

1 tsp ground organic cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground organic nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground organic cloves

1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt


Soak the almonds in a bowl of salted, filtered water for 18 hours, then spread them out on a baking tray and put them in the oven set at warm for several hours (this varies depending on the oven) until they are crispy, or dry them in a dehydrator.

Set the oven to 300F degrees. Grind prepared almonds in a food processor or blender until they are ground into almond flour.  It is not necessary for the almond flour to be extremely finely ground as a more coarse texture turns out fine when mixed with the arrowroot powder. Mix in remaining ingredients. Roll the dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. Press the balls till they are 1/4″ thick and cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Bake at 300F for 15 minutes.

Milk Gone Nuts, Miami Beach


I found this hidden gem while washing my car at the Texaco gas station in Miami Beach. I was surprised to the see that the old pseudo-healthy sandwich and juice bar that I was used to seeing, had been replaced with a truly natural, fresh, made from scratch on the spot, nut milkshake bar. In an ice bucket on the counter there was a selection of different types of nut milk: cashew, almond and coconut, in old-fashioned glass milk bottles. Being so jaded from all of the false health food marketing, I was expecting to find an artificial ingredient to ruin it all but was amazed that the milk is made of all natural ingredients and am impressed that they use glass bottles so the milk doesn’t get contaminated with toxic plastic. This is the first time I have seen glass bottles used in a juice bar in Miami. Jugo Fresh, Glaser FarmsAthens Juice Bar and CPR all use plastic bottles for their juices and milks; even Organic Avenue in New York City replaced their glass bottles with biodegradable plastic ones. There is a five dollar bottle deposit to encourage reuse (and of course refill). I ordered a bottle of coconut milk and watched as the mature coconut (from Miami’s hip new coconut company, Coconut Cartel which also supplies their branded coconuts to Soho Beach House and The Standard Spa), was cracked open, separated from its shell and added to a Vitamix blender along with hot filtered water used to extract the coconut milk, Medjool dates, pure maple syrup, vanilla and Himalayan pink salt. The result was a heavenly tasting, fresh, nutritious milk full of healthy fat from the mature coconut.

Opened less than two months ago, owners Mario Suarez, Sara Tacher-Suarez and Brittany Fierman started Milk Gone Nuts with a vision to create an old-fashioned milkshake bar with a twist—dairy-free. Sara started making her own nut milks for herself and later her family and friends. When she decided to open her nut milk bar after being encouraged by friends, her daughter Brittany quit her corporate job to help run the business. The three types of nut milk can be ordered by the glass or bottle and made into a variety of milkshake flavours such as green apple and fig or homemade peanut butter and cacao, with different toppings including superfoods like maca, goji berries and chia seeds. Their sister company, Organic Juice Bar, at the same location, makes salads, wraps, pita sandwiches and juices using certified organic fruits and vegetables. Their salad dressings and extras are not natural (and may contain GMOs, e.g. soy, chicken) but along with expanding to more locations, their goal is to become fully organic.

I never expected to find a real food spot in such an unlikely place and I have no doubt, with a unique idea and the only nut milkshake bar that exists, Milk Gone Nuts will become a huge success. Getting my car washed is something I rarely have time for, but now that I can feed my toddler a healthy treat on our way home (saving me the time of making lunch) I will be stopping here more often.

True Loaf Bakery, Miami Beach


Walking back from Jugo Fresh, I came across this bakery which had been opened just three days. I was drawn inside after seeing a stack of bags of organic King Arthur Flour in the window. The owner, Tomas, was giving away samples of his cherry pecan bread with made to order peanut butter by Big Spoon Roasters. It was delicious and I could really taste the difference compared to the bleached, bromated flour of conventional bread, of which after being on a real food diet I can taste the bleach. Tomas told me his breads are all naturally leavened sourdough breads and that he uses organic flour, making True Loaf Bakery the only organic bakery in Miami (Zak the Baker who also uses organic flour and natural leaven, will soon be opening a shop in Wynwood). His breads include walnut, whole wheat, country loaf, multi grain, whole wheat with flax, sunflower and cherry pecan. Sourdough leavening is the traditional practice of preparing grains which removes the phytates and enzyme inhibitors, making them more nutritious and digestible.

True Loaf Bakery also makes croissants, chocolate croissants, ham and cheese croissants, madeleines and brioche with pastry cream and creme fraiche, however, a conventional butter is used for these, Plugra, which is made from cows that are treated with rBST hormones and fed GMO soy and corn, so I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re on a real food diet. Although True Loaf Bakery isn’t one hundred percent organic it is hopeful to see traditional food shops like this one opening in Miami and perhaps this will be the start of many more.

True Loaf Bakery is so new there isn’t yet a listing for it or a website. It is located at 1894 Bay Road in Miami Beach.

False Health Food Marketing

I have yet again been the victim of false health food marketing. With genetically modified foods permeating the U.S. food supply, it is nearly impossible to avoid it. Countless times I have eaten what I thought was real food only to have been fooled, along with the majority of Americans today. The saddest part is that, although GMO labelling campaigns are educating millions, most Americans still don’t even know what GMO food is. I always feel sorry for the people who go to Wholefoods for dinner thinking they are being healthy, because Wholefoods supposedly sells only ‘whole’ food, when in reality nearly every single item at the hot bar contains at least one GMO ingredient, usually in the form of canola oil. I’ll never forget the time I fed my then one year old daughter half a papaya and watched her proudly as she made her way through it all, only to see after the fact, that the sticker on it read ‘Hawaii’. Papayas from Hawaii are genetically modified. I called the company to confirm and sure enough, it was. Or there was the time I ate GMO grits at Yardbird, thinking that because it was stone-ground from a specialty company, Adluh, it must be organic. Then there was the summer I drove for miles every other day to buy raw milk from a dairy farm in Bridgehampton, Long Island, who raise Jersey cows on pasture. After an entire summer of feeding the milk to my baby and making yoghurt and kefir from it, I found out after seeing soybeans on the ground of their barn, that the cows are fed GMO soybeans while being milked, twice a day.

As there are so many genetically engineered foods to remember to avoid, and with more increasing, still unlabelled, it gets confusing and sometimes even a person like myself who I consider to be well educated on the subject, forgets. Or I naively trust the waiter of a restaurant or the owner of a store who claims the food I am eating is organic. Now I am more cynical after being fooled one too many times and realise that you literally have to go to the farm yourself to believe it. My latest incident involved eating meat (and feeding it to my daughter) from a specialty store in Miami who market it as being grass-fed, not only on their menu but also when I called and asked. They claim their pork is from a small family farm whose free-range pigs are fed a diet of apples, carrots and acorns; and their beef comes from cows fed grass and supplemented with sugar cane and orange peel. This sounds idyllic but it is not the case. I discover after calling the pork farm, which is not one farm but a network of farms, that the animals are fed a GMO grain-based diet. The same goes for the beef farm. The  moral of the story is, if you want to avoid eating genetically modified foods or feeding it to your family, buy certified organic or non-gmo certified products, learn about which foods to avoid and never believe what the waiter of a restaurant/owner of a food store, tells you. Find out what farm the food comes from, call the farm yourself and ask what diet the animals are fed or call the company of a food product and ask whether they use genetically modified ingredients.

Below are some resources for learning about GMO foods: (There is a free screening of the movie this week only—highly recommended)

Pumpkin Smoothie


I improvised this recipe, originally with some leftover barbecued sweet potatoes. This time I tried it with pumpkin and it turned out deliciously, like pumpkin pie, perfect for the season. It is very nutritious and a great snack. It can also be done with winter squash.


1 cup raw pastured milk

½ cup of raw pastured light cream

1 raw pastured egg yolk

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

sweetener of choice: raw honey, vegetable glycerine, maple syrup or stevia


Mix together in a blender and drink!

This post is linked to: Fight Back Friday November 1st, Real Food Wednesday 10/30/2013

Could We Be Winning the War Against GMOs?


Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps is the largest contributor to the Yes on 522 campaign to label genetically modified foods.

Mexico has just been added to the list of countries and regions across the world to ban GMOs (genetically modified organisms), banning GMO corn, citing ‘risk of imminent harm to the environment’. Also last week, Hawaii gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban the growing of GMOs (unfortunately excluding their GMO papayas) and prohibit biotech companies from operating there; along with the island of Kauai, which passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops, requiring a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes, among other locations.¹

On 5th November, the final ballots will be cast for Initiative 522 in Washington state, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified foods. If the bill is passed, many more states will follow, with 25 states already discussing GMO-related legislation.² Monsanto and the junk food industry have poured over 17 million dollars to try to defeat the bill, which they were successful in doing in California last year with Proposition 37 after spending 46 million dollars on a misleading advertising campaign. However, 93 percent of Americans are in favour of knowing what’s in their food and 64 countries already require the labelling of GMOs³ so it won’t be long before there is an end to the deception. The companies’ desperate efforts to try to defeat the labelling of genetically engineered foods, sends a clear message that they don’t want people to know that they are harmful to our health.

For twenty years biotech companies have marketed their genetically modified seeds with promises of higher yields and less pesticide use but GMO crops have turned out to be a devastation for farmers, requiring massive doses of herbicides and pesticides with their creation of superweeds and insect resistance, as well as higher costs. Hopefully these failures along with the growing demand for the right to know what consumers are eating, we are reaching the end of the war against GMOs.

Update: On 5th November 2013, Initiative 522 to label genetically engineered food in Washington state was defeated by just two percent after Monsanto and major food corporations spent an extra five million dollars at the last minute on deceiving advertisements, making it a total of over 22 million dollars and breaking the record for the most money raised opposing a ballot initiative in Washington. In the words of David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the initiative’s biggest donor, however, ‘Win or lose, this is a long war. Labeling is inevitable.’


1. Robbins O, Huge GMO News. Available from: [19 October 2013].

2. Organic Consumers Association 2013, Legislative Update: 25 States Working on GMO Labeling Laws. Available from: [3 April 2013].

3. Robbins O, Huge GMO News. Available from: [19 October 2013].

Tropical Miami


On our way back from the airport after arriving in Miami we stopped at the Glaser Organic Farmers’ Market in Coconut Grove, where we go every Saturday to have our raw organic lunch and buy farm food for the week. It felt good to be back to my routine again! As much as I love Jamaican food I was really missing my raw dairy. I didn’t eat any dairy the entire time I was there because I couldn’t get any raw pastured dairy and I certainly wasn’t going to have the UHT milk that everyone drinks there (although it is supposedly from pastured cows but the UHT process denatures the protein and makes it an unhealthy drink). When we go to Glaser I always get the same thing: Nori roll, raw goat’s milk kefir and fresh local young coconut water straight from the coconut. I feel amazing after! The raw kefir takes away any sweet temptations because it is fermented, which balances out your body’s pH,¹ although if I am going to have something sweet, Glaser is the place to have it. They make delicious fruit pies that are sweetened with nothing else but fruit. Their ice cream on the other hand, is sweetened with agave and so are some of their snacks so you have to be careful and read the ingredients. The Nori wrap is made of mixed greens, grated carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, their own cashew herb paste, sprouts, parsley, cilantro and scallions, all wrapped in a sheet of Nori and dipped into a herb vinaigrette. The raw goat’s milk kefir comes from Simon’s goat farm in Homestead. He also makes the best raw goat’s milk halloumi cheese and raw goat’s milk feta I have ever tasted and I usually stock up on it for the week.

Glaser Organic Farmers’ market is one of the reasons I began to love living in Miami. It is where I got my first taste of all the unusual tropical fruits that grow here such as mamey, white and black sapote, acerola cherries, dragon fruit, egg fruit, jack fruit, monstera deliciosa and hall avocadoes. There used to be a fruit vendor called Tim who introduced us to a new fruit each week, our favourite being white sapote which unfortunately is only available one month of the year in June. It is also where I get my weekly local young coconuts from our Trinidadian friends ‘Kokonut Kreationz‘ (who we hired to serve coconuts at Olivia’s birthday party and were a huge hit).

After Glaser we usually stop by Athens Juice Bar owned by the same Greek family since 1942, where we buy a half gallon bottle of fresh coconut milk (not water), made from pressed mature coconut, coconut water and chunks of coconut. It is heavenly and I have never seen fresh coconut milk sold anywhere else, so this is a real secret which more people should know about (the reason for this blog.). I have only ever seen coconut milk sold in cans and far from fresh, usually with preservatives and tainted with BPA from the lining of the can. The milk from Athens is lighter than regular coconut milk which is more like cream, because it is combined with the water. It is a good alternative to milk for those who are dairy free.

I still find it surreal that after living in big cities my whole life, most of it in rainy and cold London, I now am living my dream of being in a tropical climate where coconuts grow; and I don’t think I can ever live in a temperate climate city again!


1. Gates D, Schatz L (2006). The Body Ecology Diet, 9th edn. B.E.D. Publications: Georgia, p.114.

Roadside Fruit Stalls of Jamaica


Driving back from Goldeneye through the beautiful village of Oracabessa, I stopped at two fruit stalls to buy some local fruit. They each stood out above the rest with their charming handmade construction and colourful displays of fruit. These types of roadside fruit stalls are typical of Jamaica and you can find them all over the island. It is the best way to find real, fresh, local organic fruit, picked straight from the owners’ back garden. You won’t find this high quality produce at the hotels, which rely heavily on imported food, with the exception of a few cutting edge resorts that are leading the organic and sustainable movement in Jamaica such as Goldeneye, Pantrepant Farm and Jakes hotel.

The first stall belonged to a Rastafarian named Winston, a delightful character who welcomed us into his shack, cooked for us and posed for my photos. There is a general fear amongst tourists of Jamaicans due to the country’s reputation for being dangerous with its extreme poverty, violence and high crime rates. However, the Rastafarians are peaceful and spiritual people, who live a natural life and eat an Ital (derived from the word vital) diet consisting of pure, natural, living foods from the earth that have no additives, preservatives, chemicals, alcohol, salt or spices and is mostly vegan with the exception of small fish. Winston sold bananas, coconuts, ackee, breadfruit, custard apples, soursop and avocadoes. He had a breadfruit roasting on a wood fire which he opened and served my husband and me on green leaves while telling stories describing the Rastafarian way of life. I had never eaten breadfruit plain before; usually after it is roasted, it is fried in butter with salt (which is more nutritious because fat is necessary for the assimilation of vitamins and minerals), however, it was interesting to taste nothing but the soft, fluffy, starchy breadfruit with the smokey flavour of wood fire. He cut open a young coconut for each of us to drink the water and then scrape the jelly (coconut meat) and he de-seeded a bag of ackee fruit, the national fruit of Jamaica, ready for us to cook at home with saltfish.

Our second stop was Michael’s stall, beautifully set against green rolling hills and in-between two tall trees. He sliced open and gave us a star apple: a purple fruit with a white star shape in the middle, which I had never tried before, as well as a taste of his soursop. He also had jackfruit, ackee, ugli, pineapples, passion fruit, coconuts, bananas and a few crabs in a trap dangling from the roof. He sang a song for us and went into great detail about the Jamaican drink, roots tonic: a concoction of mountain herbs which gives strength and virility.

We had a healthy snack for our long drive back to Montego Bay and went back with enough fruit to last us the rest of our trip. I highly recommend to anyone who visits Jamaica to explore the island, get to know the people and buy from these typical roadside stalls where you will be supporting the local community as well as experiencing true Jamaican culture.

Pantrepant Farm and Jamaica’s Organic Movement


Chicken coop at Pantrepant in the hills of the Cockpit Country.

I often despair over man’s destruction of our planet and dream about living high up in the mountains, surrounded by nothing but the beauty of wild nature, far away from pollution and noise, being fully self-sufficient and living off the land like we did hundreds of years ago. Chris Blackwell has created exactly this in Pantrepant Farm in Jamaica. It is my idea of paradise and the most beautiful place I have ever seen. A year and a half after my first visit, I went back to see the changes that have taken place and was given a more in-depth tour of the farm.

We drove up the long, narrow, potholed dirt road, past old trees, grazing cattle, a citrus farm and two colonial estates: Wales and Good Hope, where there were horse stables and ruins of a water wheel, at the bridge crossing over the running Martha Brae river. Finally there was an opening that lead up to the old Pantrepant plantation house on a lush green hilltop. I met with Gustavo Diaz, the manager at Pantrepant who also showed me around during my last visit.

Pantrepant, a Welsh name meaning house in the hollow, began as a sugar cane plantation in the mid-1700s, then in the late 1800s it became a cattle farm until Chris Blackwell bought the property 25 years ago. Since he has owned Pantrepant, his goal has been to create a sustainable organic farm to supply his resorts, a CSA for private customers and provide a model for sustainable agriculture from which the people of Jamaica can learn, helping to reverse the country’s dependence on imported food. There are still 700 acres of pasture for raising Jamaican Red Poll and Brahman beef cattle, which are sold for breeding. 1,400 acres are forested land; 400 acres are mixed use of landscaped areas, roads, rivers and crops which include short-cycle crops, fruit tree stands and coconut trees; and the remaining 15 acres of land are for chickens, sheep and protein banks.

What makes Pantrepant Farm so unique is that Chris Blackwell has preserved the integrity of nature. Being a lover of all things old, I was stunned by its timeless beauty when I first saw it. Everything is in harmony with the natural surroundings. The house is rustic, horses roam freely to graze on pasture, grasses and trees are kept wild, barns and fencing are made of old wood and various types of fruit trees grow together with vegetable patches dotted around them. Down a bank through the trees, there is a natural swimming hole which joins the Martha Brae river, where guests can swim.

At the entrance to the property Gustavo showed me around the sugar mill ruins, which I had not seen before, dating back to when Pantrepant was a sugar cane plantation.  Amongst the ruins was a pool of eight feet of water which used to be a molasses storage tank. Connected to this was an aqueduct carrying water from the river into the pool. Farm-to-table events are held here: a new hospitality component to the farm in which guests staying at one of Chris Blackwell’s Island Outpost hotels can spend a day at Pantrepant. There are plans to install a small hydropower plant at the aqueduct to power some of the buildings in the farm. Since my last visit there have also been solar panels installed to pump water from the river to all of the houses and cultivation areas throughout the farm, minimising one of their largest electrical expenses. There is Wi-Fi and a weather station to measure precipitation, wind, humidity and temperature.

We walked through the gardens where there was an incredibly wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as ackee, breadfruit, avocado, orange, papaya, mango, guava, banana, pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg, jack fruit, otaheiti apple, sorrel, callaloo, sugar cane, june plum, noni, plantain, yam, read pea, cassava, lime, acerola, tamarind, star apple, sugar plum, coconut, cacao and an apiary for honey. There are between 50 and 75 different crops growing on the farm. They also have a small scale dairy operation where they milk their own cows and produce ice cream and butter for the farm. Gustavo explained how important it is to nourish the soil through adding compost, which they do organically using a combination of manure from their cows, horses and sheep, mixed with carbon. Other sustainability efforts include growing of leguminous shrubs & trees to harvest as fodder for sheep and their own wood workshop for building furniture and treating lumber. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they harvest their crops for delivery on Friday to their resorts—The Caves, Strawberry Hill and Goldeneye as well as a select group of customers en route.

The main new project at Pantrepant is the Black Soldier Fly Project in which black soldier flies are bred to feed chickens in order to expand to a commercial scale of 600 chickens a week by the end of the year and be able to supply all of their hotel restaurants, staff cafeterias and 40 workers at Pantrepant. Goldeneye produces 1000 pounds of food scraps a week which they use to feed the larvae and attract the flies. Their eggs are planted into corrugated cardboard placed around the food scraps and dry coconut husks; when they hatch, the larvae self harvest by feeding themselves out. They are then separated into two phases, one for breeding more flies, and the other for feeding to the chickens. The flies are a nutritious high protein food source for the chickens. They are dried using a solar dryer to stabilise, store and feed the chickens over time. The chickens will be separated into three groups and rotated every day to graze on fresh pasture, only to be taken indoors at night to avoid predators such as mongooses. They will also be fed corn produced from the farm and food scraps from the packing room. Grass and wood shavings from the farm are used for their bedding; therefore, nothing is bought from outside the farm. The project which will include a slaughter facility, will be fully functioning by the end of the year. By this time they will have pigs, which the flies will also be fed to.

When I asked Gustavo if their goal was to eventually be the sole provider for their hotels, he told me that Pantrepant will be the largest supplier, but they want to continue to support the community and keep purchasing from local vendors. Their aim is to stop buying from distributors and importers. They encourage local farmers who usually come from small farms to produce for them. These farmers don’t have money to buy fertiliser so their crops are mostly organic.

Interns come twice a year to Pantrepant from Earth University: a university specialising in sustainable agriculture for tropical climates (where Gustavo graduated), to spend 15 weeks at the farm. This year two students from the University of West Indies came for a 6 week internship. They also welcome farmers and school children to come and learn about how they farm and why their practices are so important. Chris Blackwell’s long-term plan once his farm is fully functioning sustainably, is to have a training centre offering courses and apprenticeships to young Jamaican farmers.

I was impressed to find that the organic movement in Jamaica has taken off since my last visit. The food at many of the resorts has improved with menus now including organic ingredients; some of the hotels including Round Hill and more recently The Tryall Club, have started their own organic gardens. Grill, the restaurant at Round Hill features a new farm-to-table menu and in May they launched weekly farm dinners. Jakes Hotel on the south coast hosts monthly farm-to-table dinners served on site at local farms. Adam Miller (previously the manager at Pantrepant) has followed in Chris Blackwell’s footsteps and started his own organic farm and CSA, Potosi Farms, which delivers to hotels, restaurants and homeowners across the island. There is a government backed effort to promote local farming and a return to Jamaica’s agricultural roots, since they reached a food security crisis due to the increasing cost and dependence on imported food. The government have handed out thousands of seed kits to encourage backyard farming and 400 schools have implemented gardening and cooking programmes, which the students benefit greatly from with improved attendance and achievement. Grocery stores now also label local produce with stickers and large displays.¹ Chris Blackwell having pioneered the movement, there is great promise for organic farming and sustainability in Jamaica.


1. Cave D (2013). As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth. The New York Times. 4 August 2013, A6

CSA in Jamaica


My first delivery arrived today from Pantrepant Farm. I am so happy finally to be getting some organic food in Jamaica! I ordered arugula, lettuce, Jamaican spinach, noni, guavas, coconuts, avocadoes, green plantains, two chickens and eggs picked especially for me as they aren’t yet for sale. Pantrepant farm are just starting to raise free range chickens which are fed on fruit and vegetable waste from their packing room, corn from the farm and black soldier fly maggots. They soon will have enough to grow on a commercial scale to provide for their hotels throughout Jamaica.