Get A Little Perspective

Hi, Gang!

I’m back.  In Seattle.  At least for a couple of weeks.

If you follow my ridiculousness on Facebook, you’ll be all too aware that I just got back from a road trip to California; and while I was on the road I bombarded you with a flood of status updates that included – but were not limited to – my run-ins with the boys in blue, multiple images of my feet, SANE eating adventures, random thoughts, my favorite shots of the day, and the oh-so-popular Housesitters Reports.  I am sure that your news feed is thrilled that it has been able to breathe again since I returned.  I should mention that Florence got the most fan mail despite the fact that she reportedly spent most of the time I was gone staring at the dishwasher or wondering what was happening.  Maybe she needs her own Facebook page.

You may not know this about me; thinking about it, you almost certainly don’t know this about me, and would never guess it from the podcasts or Facebook or my little blogette right here.  I’m an introvert.  Truth.  My road trips are critical to my very survival – they literally stop me from going crazy.  Driving solo for {very} long distances turns my world the right way up; and even though I am working on shooting assignments, my road trips are when I do all my major thinking, and I find my brain exploding with insights and ideas and realizations that it doesn’t usually get a chance to explore.

I’m guessing that an awful lot of people see the Smarter Science of Slim / SANE lifestyle as restrictive.  They see what they can’t have and feel like it must be a miserable life of denial, struggle, and suffering.  They think that in order for variety to be the spice of life – and for food not to get boring – they need to be able to eat every foodstuff there is available.  They wonder what on earth they are going to eat if they can’t eat flour and sugar.  There’s nothing left, right?  At least there’s nothing left that’s tasty or worth eating.  I’ve been mulling over this concept for a year now, and considering how to help people gain a new perspective on the whole your-life-is-not-over-because-you-don’t-eat-wheat-or-sugar thing.

One day, after shooting mainly landscapes in the wilds of central California for 3 days, I decided on a whim that I was going to limit myself to only shooting with my macro lens.  I declared it Macro Day – getting {really} up close and personal with my surroundings.

For a while I was stumped, wondering, ‘What am I going to shoot?”  Then almost immediately it struck me.  I was going to have to look at the world in an entirely new way.  I was no longer looking for compelling compositions that stretched across miles of land.  I had to look for things that I normally pass right on by without a second glance, and work out how to make them into a compelling image.  I would have to look at ordinary objects in a whole new way.  I would need to look for details that I never knew existed before.  And it was awesome. 

The exercise gave me whole new perspectives on life, the universe, and everything; and how often does do we let that happen??

Turns out I didn’t have to drive for hundreds of miles every day to get compelling images.  On Macro Day I didn’t get more than 3 miles from the condo; and yet I shot 3 times as many images as I had in the previous 3 days combined - those 3 days having involved driving over 1100 miles.

Then came the flowers.  Before I knew it I was lying upside down in the street – completely oblivious to the world rushing by me, and completely engrossed in my work.  And it was awesome.

Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















Carrie Brown | Flowers



















I learned that limitations make you more creative, not less creative.  And that is a really, really, really great thing.  I saw things in a way that I had never looked at them before.  I saw detail and beauty that I had previously missed.

I thought about how this is exactly like converting to a SANE lifestyle.  How developing SANE recipes has made me far more creative, simply because I have less to work with; and yet I’ve had countless people tell me that my recipes taste better than the food they ate when they were eating “regular” food.  Eating SANE forces me to get creative in the kitchen.  And what initially seemed like a huge struggle, has turned out to be a mesmerizing journey in creativity.  It makes me constantly think, “How can I make something totally tasty with only these ingredients at my disposal?”  And when recipes – especially baked goods – don’t turn out the way I had hoped, the limitations compel me to figure out how to make them work, instead of giving up or turning to inSANE alternatives.

When we limit ourselves we see and find more possibilities, not less.

I’ve eaten more almonds in the last 6 months than in the rest of my life put together.  Who knew those rather boring-looking nuts could get whipped into so many fabulous concoctions?

And when you’re faced with upping the amount of veggies you consume drastically, you discover veggies you never knew existed.  You find ways of preparing veggies that you never imagined before.  You find ways to get veggies into every thing you eat, even though you may not even have liked veggies very much before.

And it is awesome.

If a doctor had told me 18 months ago that I had to switch to a gluten-free diet because of an allergy or other health issue, I would have thought my life was over.  I could not have imagined life without bread, or pasta or cupcakes.  And then remove sugar too??  NO WAY.  I would have been in complete despair.  Then I met Jonathan and read The Smarter Science of Slim and started focusing on eating  the healthiest and most nutritionally dense foods, and I found myself several months later eating a completely grain-free, sugar-free diet without even realizing it.  I hadn’t focused on what I couldn’t eat, I focused on discovering the unknown joys of all the things I could eat.  My life was changed as a result of the things I ate; and I hadn’t felt deprived, not once.

Similarly with my macro exercise.  I focused (ha ha!) on what I could shoot up close, not on what I couldn’t shoot.  My life was changed as a result of the things I saw; and I didn’t feel deprived, not once.  In fact, my day exploded with creativity and thinking; and most of my favorite images of the trip I shot on the day I imposed limitations and saw things from a different perspective.  And it was awesome.

Change your perspective and you change your whole world.


{Love the images and want to see more? Click on each image to go to the gallery}


*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Ladyp1234 - Your photos are stunning Carrie. And I shall be mulling over your thoughts today, as I move towards having less flour and sugar in our family diet….

Molly R - Carrie,
First off, I want to thank you for sharing your beautiful photography! It is inspiring and uplifting to see so many gorgeous pictures during the work week, when all I can think about is how to get myself (and my students) to spring break successfully! Lol
Secondly, are far more importantly from a health aspect, I loved your thoughts on approaching SANE eating. I have read Jonathan’s book. I have been listening to the podcast, but I have been hesitating on making the dietary changes that I need to make, because I don’t want to give up my sugar!! I lost 40 pounds from March to August last year and then stopped because I had not learned in that time how to get creative with my cooking. Thus I have regained about 20 or so of those pounds back!! I plan on spending my Spring break getting myself off sugar and I hope eventually off of wheat so that I can at least test out the difference for myself! Thanks for your insight!

Romy - Wonderful pictures! Thank you for sharing.
Greetings from Switzerland

allisol - Wow those pictures are amazing. I was just thinking of you last night. I thought “With all that driving, shouldn’t she be sharing some epiphany with us at some point?” haha! We rely on you for epiphanies! But this is soooo true. The “restrictions” as they are, have forced me to be so much more adventurous with food and try things I have never had (leeks??? Who knew!?) and cook things I’ve never cooked. It’s freeing that the options are really limitless.

Oh, and we extroverts knew right away you were an introvert. No extrovert would be caught dead driving for 10 days by him/her self. We get bored driving to the grocery store alone.


Meghan - Hi Carrie,
These photos ARE GOREGEOUS…. I wanted to “repin” them… when I clicked on pinterest button at the bottom, only the orange flower at the bottom came up…. do you have a board with all of them on there?

Wendy - And you coming to this point is awesome.

carrie - Thanks, everyone, for all the photo love!! Molly R – awesome job on the 40 – now let’s get back to it :-) Allisol – you crack me up :-) Wendy – miss you! GO, LadyP!!

carrie - Molly R – hopefully you can use my recipes on this blog to help you with the creative cooking bit and keep on track. Is there something inSANE that you really miss that you would particularly like me to make a SANE version of?

Margaret H - Beautiful! The flowers are gorgeous but I do love that post with the barbed wire. Thanks for sharing these and your words of wisdom. They will definitely come to mind when I think I’m being deprived!

Ellen - Beautiful! Jonathan has a worthy competitor in the analogy contest!

Julie - Love love love this whole post! I enjoyed your writing, the story about your trip, and the photos are phenomenal. Inspiring on multiple levels.

Sylvia - Carrie, your photos are absolutely amazing! Isn’t nature wonderful?!! Thanks for all your inspiring posts. The motivation you give is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much on so many levels.

carrie - THANK YOU for your kind words, Sylvia!

carrie - THANK YOU, so much, Julie :-)

carrie - HA, Ellen! I don’t think I will ever reach analogy god status like Bailor, but happy that I made my point!

carrie - Margaret – I loved that post, too!!

Natalie - I really connected with this post–so amazing! I too am introverted and love love LOVE road trips, and I think I was living vicariously through you by reading this–traveling with multiple kids isn’t exactly relaxing so I don’t do much of it anymore!
I also admire how you linked two seemingly different pursuits because you had to change your perspective due to limited resources (macro lens v. “restricted” ingredients)–brilliant! Your photography is lovely! Keep up the good work on your podcast with Jonathan, I love your humor and relatability.

carrie - Thanks so much for your kind words, Natalie; and for all the podcast and photography love!!

Slim Is Simple

You can always rely on Jonathan Bailor to do something totally radical and cool.  Really this isn’t radical at all, although it’s definitely cool.  It’s simple.  And it’s the truth.  And we already know it, deep down inside.  We just forgot.  Or rather we allowed ourselves to be persuaded otherwise.  Luckily for all of us, we have Jonathan to remind us.  And to make it simple.

The first time Jonathan used the phrase “slim is simple” was while we were in the studio recording a podcast, and frankly, I wanted to slap him. If you’re like me and have spent any amount of time trying everything you’ve ever heard in the realms of getting slim, and yet been unable to lose weight, you would probably have wanted to slap him too. It immediately had me feeling like I must be the problem; like I was a failure.

If slim is simple, why wasn’t I slim? If slim is simple, why are there an ever-growing number of people across the globe who are at some level of overweight?  I’d cycled, I’d starved, I’d eaten less and exercised more. People all over the world have been doing the same.  For years.  And it had made no difference. So don’t you go telling me that slim is simple Mr. I’ve-Never-Been-On-The-Dark-Side Bailor!

But, at the same time, I knew exactly what he meant. Slim is SIMPLE, it’s just not necessarily EASY, especially with the constant barrage of false and misleading information that has been zooming around for the last 40 years.  So when we say “slim is simple”, we’re talking about the truth, the reality.  The truth that has become completely lost in the cacophony of programs, and diets, and manufactured foods, and equipment, and quick fixes that have bombarded us in the name of health and fitness while really devised to create big bucks for Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Fitness, and Big Medical.

We’ve been bamboozled into a state of low-grade sickness for so long that we think it’s normal.  We think it’s hard to be healthy.  We think it’s hard to lose weight.  We think it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off.  We think being healthy and losing weight permanently takes a huge amount of work and effort; and we think it means a life of denial and struggle and suffering.  And who wants THAT??

We want to believe it’s easy and we fall for every next big thing declaring startling results and an easy way to be slim and healthy.  Even though we know, deep down, that we will be disappointed, yet again.

So I am here to share with you that actually, slim IS simple, because Jonathan has uncovered the reality, brushed off all the hype, and told us the truth.  And now he has put together this awesome video to kick start the health, food and fitness revolution that needs to happen.  Slim Is Simple is a not-for-profit group of researchers, doctors, professors, and donors whose mission is to make being healthy and fit simple again by transforming people’s understanding of how nutrition and food intake works through entertaining, practical, and proven scientific evidence.



Slim IS simple!

It does take a change in thinking.  It does take a little bit of work.  It does require some planning.  It does take time.  But it’s not hard.  And the results are permanent.

YOU can do this!


*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tomato Basil Scones

Patience is a virtue.  Especially if you’re a recipe trying to get posted around here.

These poor scones have been waiting in the wings to get their 15 minutes of fame for so long I have wholly forgotten what I had on my mind when the idea of tomato scones suddenly gripped me.  I have a suspicion that it gripped me as I was reading labels in the tomato purée aisle at the grocery store.  I do love to read a good label.  If those pesky food manufacturers weren’t so sneaky so much of the time I would never get my label-reading fix; but only because I wouldn’t have to.  The good news is that once we’ve figured out what’s the good stuff from the pile of manufactured I-don’t-know-what, we’re in the home straight.  Next time we know exactly which brand to buy.  The downside to not having to check the contents of every can and jar is that had I not been loitering in the tomato purée aisle for all that time reading labels I may well have not been gripped by tomato scone fever; and that would have been an awful shame.  Having to loiter over labels does provide opportunities.

Tomato Basil Biscuits

I have ideas pop into my head in the strangest of places and at the oddest moments – which accounts for the 134 draft blog posts I have awaiting my attention.  It also explains why – once I have perfected a new recipe for you - I rarely make it again.  I’m on an unyielding quest to create new *SANE scrumptiousness to bewitch and captivate your taste buds - like an over-excited kitchen elf in a cocoa-stained white apron buzzing around with a whisk and a blender and more measuring spoons than should be allowed without a licence.  Jonathan may be the traditional studious, serious and sensible scientist, while I’m the mad, happy one – hopping from one exhilarating experiment to the next, ever curious to see how tasty I can make something that doesn’t have anything in it.

Carrie Brown | Tomato Basil Scones

These scones definitely have something in them.  Tomatoes.  Bunches of ‘em.  If you like tomatoes, these biscuits will knock your socks right off.  If tomatoes are not really your thing, I suggest you move right along to the next recipe.  These orangey-hued beauties pack an intense punch with their chunks of sun-dried tomatoes punctuated with little bursts of basil.  They are not for the faint-hearted.  These are not delicate, pretty little scones.  They’re chunky, rustic, manly scones, with almost more tomato than scone.

I remember being on somewhat of a tomato kick when I made them, gobbling them up alongside my Times Two Tomato Soup (coming soon!).  That was one crazy tomato-fest right there.  If you’re craving some juicy summer tomato goodness in the middle of winter, give these a try.  You’ll be deep in tomato heaven.


4.5 from 2 reviews

Tomato Basil Biscuits
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 9 oz / 250g almond flour / ground almonds (NOT almond meal)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • 2 oz / 55g butter
  • 2 oz / 55g sun-dried tomatoes, pre-soaked in hot water to soften, and then chopped
  • ⅓ cup / 3 fl oz. unsweetened thin coconut milk
  • Beaten egg to glaze
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put the almond flour, other dry ingredients, basil and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can also do this by hand if that’s your thing.
  3. Turn into a bowl and mix in the sun-dried tomatoes until evenly distributed.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk.
  5. Mix by hand to form a dough.
  6. Knead the dough lightly until smooth.
  7. Divide dough into 8 x 2 oz pieces of dough.
  8. Roll each piece in your hands to make a ball, please on baking sheet and flatten gently to resemble a cookie.
  9. Brush tops with beaten egg.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Carefully use a serrated knife to cut open, especially if they are still warm, as they are quite fragile.

Carrie Brown | Tomato Basil Scones



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Meredith - Anything “tomato basil” can’t be bad! Look delish. It’s official: I need to get xantham gum.

carrie - Yes, Meredith! Yes you do :-)

Rebecca - Yum!
Made a few little changes…
Didn’t have almond flour… so used whole almonds in the Thermomix for 10 seconds to grind them up.
Didn’t have butter… so quickly whipped up some cream in the Thermomix.
Didn’t have sundried tomatoes so made them with olives in lieu.
Thanks Carrie, you are an absolute star!

carrie - Awesome, Rebecca!!! Love this (hate olives though!) :-)

Lindsay - This sounds delicious, however I despise coconut in all its forms. What could be substituted for the coconut milk?

I really miss scones – my mum’s cheese scones from an old family recipe are TDF but I can’t eat wheat these days.

carrie - Lindsay – your wheat-free Cheese Scones are right here: !! :-)

You cannot taste the coconut milk AT ALL. However, you can use whatever milk you fancy instead. We do not reccomend soy milk, and cows milk is not especially SANE with it’s sugar content. Hope that helps!

Lindsay - Thanks so much Carrie! I might give unsweetened almond milk a try.

Ahhh cheese scones (yes I’m from Britain) double thank you! our old Scottish family recipe includes a pinch of Colman’s mustard powder for added piquancy.

carrie - Thunbs up on the mustard!! Add away, Lindsay.

Britton... - Excellent, thank you!

Where do you acquire your xanthan gum? What is this stuff?


Hannah - Hi Carrie! These look so incredibly delicious (as do all your recipes!!). One question, Jonathan Bailor lists them as SANEr on the forum rather than SANE. Is that because of the sun dried tomatoes? Could you sub in fresh tomatoes or would like be a mess?

carrie - Hi Hannah! They ARE delicious! ;-) JB calls them SANEr because while they don’t have anything inSANE in them, they are not particularly hign in protein or fiber. Fresh tomatoes would not make them any SANEr, and you would have a big mess! They also would not have the knock-your-socks-off flavor, etiher. Hope that helps! The good news is, they are so filling you likely can’t eat many at one sitting :-)

Vivian - Hi Carrie, I’m planning on making these scones as a side dish for a dinner party tomorrow night. Think i can add some ground flax seed to the recipe or leave it as is?
Looking forward to it :-)

carrie - Hi Vivian! I wouldn’t try the switch before a dinner party since I can’t promise you it will work. You could *probably* switch out a couple of ounces of the almond flour with ground flax seed, but you will likely have to alter the liquid accordingly. I’d make them as is for tomorrow and fiddle with the recipe when you don’t have guests :-)

Vivian - Hi Carrie, these were a bit hit at my dinner party! I made them again tonight as i had a bit of an upset tummy all day and was really craving some BRAT type foods and these scones were perfect! This kids loved them too! And they usually dislike tomatoes!

Thanks heaps!

carrie - So happy you got the kids eating tomatoes, Vivian!! Great job :-)

Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

You asked for protein bars.  Repeatedly.  And of all the things that I have on my interminable recipe request list – these were the easiest to keep pushing to the back of the queue.  Repeatedly.  I freely admit that I have procrastinated on protein bars because they scared me.  I mean, where do you even start with making a protein bar?

Typically, it turns out the fear was far greater than the reality.  The lovely Lori sent me a note with an idea of where I might start – and after a short dabble in the kitchen – Protein Bars 1.0 were born.

I dumped the dough in a storage container and took it to the office.  All day long people were wandering into my office to cut chunks off of ”The Blob”.  The flavor was a *HUGE* hit.  The problem was the consistency.  Like peanut butter, almond butter gets oily and separates when left to its own devices.  My bars suffered the same fate.  If “The Blob” was kept in the ‘fridge it was fine, but 30 minutes after removing it from the big chill, oiliness ensued.  Blast.

Back in the Marmalade HQ kitchen I tweaked the recipe here and there, tweaked the method here and there, and voila!  Protein Bars 2.0 were exactly what I’d had in mind.  Thanks for pushing me over the edge, Lori!

Carrie Brown  |  Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

I’ll warn you now – they are a bit of a process.  10 minutes to make, but 12 hours to get them from dough to transportable bar.  I’ll keep working on more bars, but I freely admit I am pretty darn pleased with how these turned out.

Here.  Have some Cranberry Almond Protein Bars.


4.5 from 4 reviews

Cranberry Almond Protein Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
  • ½ cup / 4 fl oz. almond butter, creamy unsalted
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ⅓ cup / 3 fl oz. COLD water
  • 11 oz. / 310g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 1½ oz. / 40g flaked almonds
  • 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries, finely chopped
  1. In a bowl, using a hand mixer or blender, mix the almond butter, almond extract and cold water together until completely mixed. This takes several minutes.
  2. In another bowl, add the whey powder, salt, guar gum, and chia seeds and mix well.
  3. Crush the flaked almonds in your hands and add them to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the finely chopped dried cranberries and rub them through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate them.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the almond butter mixture and stir until it has formed a dry dough.
  6. Turn the dough on to a surface and knead the last of the dry ingredients in until you have a smooth, shiny dough. It will be slightly sticky.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic and leave to rest for an hour.
  8. Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick and cut into bars.
  9. You will need to use a sharp knife to slide under each bar to get them off the surface you rolled them out on.
  10. Carefully move each bar to a flat plate or board.
  11. Leave the bars to dry for 12 hours. Every 30 minutes or so, using a sharp knife to pick them up, turn each bar over. This helps the bars to dry evenly.
  12. After 12 hours the bars will have firmed up considerably and formed a ‘crust’, making them easy to pick up with your fingers.
  13. Wrap each bar in parchment paper or store in an air-tight container with parchment paper between the layers.

Carrie Brown | Cranberry Almond Protein Bars



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sarah - Maybe to help the process of drying along you could dehydrate them slowly in a warm oven? Like the lowest heat setting possible for a couple hours? So then they arent really baked per se, more dried & dehydrated. I do this to make my own chicken jerky treats for the dogs with boiled chicken cut into strips. LOL :-)

Sarah - Oh & they sound divine! I need some guar gum I guess to make them…or do you think xantham gum would work as well? I think I have some of that from some bread I’ve made before.

carrie - Sarah – good thought, but I think this could end up a big mess with the almond butter :-( You could almost certainly use xanthan gum instead, although it is usually used for hot applications it should still work here.

Sarah - True, I didn’t even think of the almond butter melting, it’d have to be more of a ground almond mixture probably to prevent that. Hmmmm….I must try this recipe & think on it some more.

Becky - Ok, I’m working on these right now! Can’t wait to see how they turn out! :) I was hoping that since Jonathan likes Quest bars (and because of him, my husband and I are now in love with them) that your bars would be like theirs. It looks like they may be similar. Yay! We’re spending a small fortune on Quest bars :) We’ve probably eaten 4 dozen since October last year when we saw Jonathan recommended them.

Nancy - Are these chewy or crunchy? Looks like chewy from the ingredients but just asking. I tried Jonathan’s chocolate peanut butter protein fudge. It didn’t get very solid in the fridge so have to tweak.

carrie - Chewy, Nancy! Yes, our beloved Jonathan is no chef ;-)

Nancy - I sort of suspicioned that Carrie :) Boy can that man wax poetic about egg whites and raw vegetables!

BUT, some yummy fudge that was actually good for you would be great and I have yet to try a recipe from you that let me down. So add that to your LONG list of recipes to create.

Janknitz - Hi Carrie,

I made these last night. I put them in my dehydrator at a low temperature setting and they were just right, texturewise, this morning. And instead of parchment paper, which never stays wrapped, I wrapped them in non-stick foil and then put them in a canning jar which I vacuum sealed. That should keep them nice and fresh.

I do have a few questions about the recipe. 1 tsp salt seems like a lot, but I may just be sensitive to salt lately.

It needs “something”–not sure what yet. I was thinking of adding some cinnamon and ginger to my next batch, or maybe some cocoa powder.

Anyway, thanks for the recipe.

Nancy - Okay, back again. I made the bars this morning, came home from work and they are delicious. Exactly that sort of chewy satisfying mouth feel one often longs for in a snack. Mine look exactly like the ones you have in the photo.

For grins I did a quick calculation and determined each bar has about 13gm of protein.

carrie - So glad you loved them Nancy! The protein content will depend on which protein powder is used and how many bars are made, so your figure won’t be true for all.

carrie - Good call on the dehydrator, Janknitz! On the salt – this counteracts the bitterness of the whey powder, but if you use a different whey protein to me then you may need more or less or none. Alter to taste for next time!

carrie - I’ll add fudge to the list, Nancy!

carrie - Hi Becky – yes they were fashinoned after Quest bars as that’s what I eat :-)

carrie - The almond butter is the glue, Sarah. Someone else dried them in a dehydrator to good effect. Do you have one?

Carole - These look great thanks very much! One quick query…could you swap the almond butter for peanut butter? Or would this not work aswel?

Sarah - I don’t have a dehydrator but have been seriously considering getting 1 for a year or so now….
I made them last night though & they were amazing! I loved the amount of salt & how they aren’t too sweet at all! I put them on a metal rack I have & left them to dry overnight & they were perfect! No dehydrator or turning necessary. :-)
I had to put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat too many! They were pretty easy to make too, other than mixing, which was a really sticky affair. Lol
Had a bar for breakfast along with my green smoothie & it really made my morning, thanks so much for this awesome recipe! I will definitely be making again!

Liz - Hi Carrie
I notice a lot of your recipes contain whey powder.
I am trying to avoid dairy.
With what can I replace this? can I use vanilla extract- liquid- or do you need a powder constituent in the recipe? Could I use ground almond?
What role does it play? Binding? or is it the powder state that is essential?
(I am in the UK)
Thanks for all your experimenting and delicious recipes!

carrie - Hi Liz – if you remove the whey protein powder they won’t be protein bars. We use whey powder a lot because it is the best form of protein, however, you can sub out for another protein powder if you can’t have whey – pea protein, rice protein – we don’t receommed soy protein though. I cannot vouch for the taste or the quantity, but it’s worth giving it a go if a protein bar is waht you were after. Hope that helps!

carrie - Sarah – great call on the matel rack! They are a bit sticky getting them together, but hope you felt they were worth it :-)

carrie - Hi Carole – you could use peanut butter instead, just not sure how good it would taste with cranberries and vanilla.

Marie-Helene - Mmmm. These look good. I would suggest trying to replace almond butter with almond flour (powder) and adding some coconut oil. And possibly baking them. I have done similar ones in past and I’m sure they would be divine… :)

Liz - Thanks Carrie
Oh dear how daft am I! asking if I can remove the protein from protein bars!(ha ha) It was more the whey aspect I focussed upon therefore missing the protein aspect and thinking the nuts would be the protein! Oh well maybe there is hope for me as I try to ‘keep up with the program at the back!’ (favourite phrase my husband frequently says to me!!!

Pip - Hi Carrie. The only dried cranberries I can find here (Australia) have sugar added. Have you any suggestions for alternatives?

carrie - Pip – unsweetened cranberries are very hard to find. I used sweetened.

carrie - Liz, you made me smile :-)

Stacey Laitinen - Carrie, I just wanted to do why you don’t use almond meal instead of flakes… would it absorb some of the oil? Just curious…Thanks! Love your recipes!

carrie - Hi Stacey – good thinking, but almond meal does not absorb like say flour would. The almond pieces were there to add crunch to the proceedings. Also, adding almond meal would make the dough impossibly dry. Hope that helps. Thanks for the recipe love!!

Meghan - Hey Carrie,
I KNOW calories do not matter but do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe or any of your recipes?

carrie - Meghan – No :-) We don’t focus on the minutiae. We just focus on eating as many SANE foods as possible. Everything else takes care of itself. Also, for this particular recipe, the data would vary depending on what protein powder you use. Most recipes have so many variables that the nutrition data would not be accurate and I do not want to mis-lead.

Susan - This are drying right now on my cooling rack. I had a nibble already though because I am known for eat cookies right out of the oven…no willpower to wait!

They are very tasty and I have to believe the cost per bar is significantly less than any protein bar out there…even with the 1 1/3 cups whey powder!

Keep up with great work! Looking forward to variations of this…would love chocolate/peanut butter combo.


carrie - Hi Susan – so glad you loved the protein bars! I will have more varities as soon as I can get to it. Choc / PB is a great idea!

Emily - Have to say, I made these with other fruit and they were really, really good. I know you don’t count the nutrients, but mine ended up with more carbs than protein, even if you take out the dried fruit. They were also not cheap to make, at over $5.00NZ ($4.50US)each for 8 bars. But they were good, and not too high in carbs to make it really naughty! It may well be that protein powder in the US has higher ratio of protein than here – so many things are different, it’s surprising.
Many thanks for all the great recipes – please keep them coming!

carrie - Emily – the differenbces in some of what you think are the “same” ingredients can be staggering! a differebt brand of protein powder would make a huge difference to the composition. YOu are right we don’t count nutirents – we just don’t eat starches and sugars. Carbs are not bad, starches are. Thanks for the recipe love!

Susannah - These are delicious! I just made my second batch and am having a hard time limiting myself to just one bar at a time! I made some substitutions based on what I had in the kitchen, peanut butter in place of almond butter and ON chocolate whey protein instead of vanilla. I didn’t add the almond extract, cranberries or flaked almonds beacuase i didnt have any and decreased the salt because my pb was salted. Such a winner, thanks for all that you do!

carrie - Thwy sound awesome, Susannah!

Matt Barnes - Hi Carrie! I tried a version of your recipe and used vanilla Plant Fusion vegan protein and Plum Amazings for the cranberries because I didn’t have access to unsweetened cranberries. It was super dry and I had to add like 5 or 6 tablespoons of water to it. Is there a formula to use vegan protein instead? Thanks for your help!

danielle - another great recipe Carrie!! Thank you again! I used peanut butter because that is what I had and didn’t add the salt, but did everything else and it was fantastic!! 3 year old approved!

carrie - Danielle, I love your three-year-old!! :-)

Matilda - As you would be aware from Twitter I made these today.
Ok so I didn’t have 1/2 cup of almond butter (only about 1/6th of a cup), but I made up the rest with sunbutter (worked fine btw).
I also didn’t have flaked almonds, so I used pepitas and did the trick.
I also used my dehydrator to dry them out (2 hours, 1 hour each side).
They are now in a container ready to go when I need a snack.

Louisa - Carrie, I did a back of the envelope calculation on the protein and came to about 13.5 g/bar. I’ve noticed that a lot of protein servings come up short of 30g. Is there any reason for that? Even my whey powder would need 1-1/2 servings to get over 30g. Given the science, I’m surprised that isn’t the target for a serving. So I’m left to wonder why.

carrie - Hi Louisa – the protein content will vary depending on what protein powder you use. If you are eating just a protein bar and want to hit 30g in one sitting then cut the bars accordingly. However, we would never recommend just having a protein bar as a meal. You would typically eat it as a snack or as a dessert after a meal. If having it as part of a meal you would need to add the protein in the bar to whatever you ate as a protein in your meal. Hope that helps! Plus, remember that hitting the 30g MAXIMISES muscle synthesis, but nothing bad happens if you don’t reach that at every meal. Quest bars don’t have 30g protein in either.

Lori - Wow. These are sticky! But – they taste good. I didn’t include the cranberries. I don’t have any in the house and since it is snowing again – didn’t want to run to the store. I don’t know if it was because of that or the way I rolled the dough, but I only got seven bars. They are sitting and drying out now – can’t wait until they are done.

They aren’t tough to make, once you figure out how to work with the stickiness.

Sally Capehorn - I have made these twice, very nice both times. The 1st time I made as instructed with the turning over of the bars continually. On the 2nd occasion I didn’t have time to roll out and left the mixture in a large mixing bowl in the fridge until the following evening. When I removed it was a large hard lump, I had used double quantity, whoops I thought I’m in trouble! Anyway after several attempts to roll I gave in and had the bright idea to slice with a sharp knife. It worked a treat without the many hours of turning over. Worked for me so thought I would share.

Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Much of the time, the ideas for my *SANE concoctions are really rather random.  I might be rambling through the produce section and spy some staggeringly sexy looking vegetable, or I’ll affectionately remember something I used to love eating when I was young and use that as a starting point for a SANE version.  Every once in a while I have a plan.

There was absolutely nothing random about these muffins.  They were inspired by a donut.  A very particular donut.  A very special donut.  I made them in honor of the world’s best donut – the Apricot Cardamom Donut – which can be found in abundance, languishing in a deep fat fryer over at Dynamo Donuts, in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Apricot Cardamom Donut

My first rendezvous with this glorious donut-of-all-donuts came after a chance encounter with a stranger at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, long before Mr. Bailor came charging into my life with all this talk of eating more and exercising less, smarter.  I was still living in it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-do-I-can’t-lose-weight land.  Donuts were my friend.

Since that first taste of the exquisiteness that is Dynamo’s Apricot Cardamom Donut, I have been entirely unable to go anywhere near San Francisco without swinging by to eat one.  Or, let’s face it – several.  On New Years Day 2012 - on my drive back to Seattle from a 2-week photo shoot to Southern California – I detoured 83 miles off the I-5 and paid road tolls in order to drive through San Francisco expressly to stop and eat Apricot Cardamom Donuts at Dynamo.  And last April, those brilliant folks at Dynamo made a batch of them just for me when they found out I was leaving for the long haul back to Seattle the next day.  Yeah.  I am *really* fond of these donuts.

With a San Francisco drive-by pending, memories of donut awesomeness were careering around my brain as I was starting to pack.  Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was create a SANE version.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  So in honor of the finest donut ever to pass my lips, I give you Apricot Cardamom Muffins. 

Carrie Brown  |  Apricot Cardamom Muffins

The smell wafting around the Marmalade HQ kitchen while these were baking was fragrantly delicious beyond description.  I almost could not wait to pull them out of the oven.  And when they were out, I was in Apricot Cardamom heaven.  Not to mention that everyone at the office let out a chorus of “Mmmmmmmmm’s!!” when they tried them.  These might just be my favorite thing I’ve made yet.

I took some into the studio for Jonathan to munch on while we were podcasting.  His reaction was epic.  Arms waving wildly, he exclaimed, “These muffins are the **bleep** BOMB!!”  I think he liked them.  I have never seen Bailor get so excited about food.  Honestly, I didn’t think Bailor could get that excited about food.  He said, “I feel like I could be sitting in a Parisian café sipping coffee and eating fantastic cake”.  He is so cute when he gets excited.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

If you tried the Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, these are quite different.  They are more like cake than the rugged, nuttiness of the Cinnamon Raisin ones.  And given that I am perpetually confused over American names for food, I wondered if I should call these Apricot Cardamom Cupcakes instead.  Which got me thinking about whether I even understood what the difference was between the two.  I didn’t.  A short search on the internet set me straight though, and made me feel better; because it turns out no one knows.  I found a hundred different – often heated – debates on the difference between the two.  Blimey, the things people get upset about.  In the end I decided to go with my favorite cupcake v. muffin difference quote:

“Nothing,” the pastry chef said, explaining that when it comes to breakfast, Americans have a Puritanical inhibition. “Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast”. 

Carrie Brown  |  Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Call them a muffin or call them a cupcake – eat these babies for breakfast and have yourself a seriously *SANE and delicious start to your day.


4.7 from 3 reviews

Apricot Cardamom Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 oz / 55g sunflower seeds
  • ½ oz / 15g chia seeds
  • 4½ oz / 125g almond flour / ground almonds (NOT meal)
  • 1 oz / 28g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 3 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz / 55g xylitol
  • 4 oz / 110g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup / 6 fl oz. cold water
  1. Spray 12 silicone muffin cups with coconut oil spray and place in muffin pan.
  2. Grind the sunflower and chia seeds in a coffee grinder until very fine. (If you use a Vitamix be very careful you do not end up with sunflower butter!)
  3. Tip ground seeds into a mixing bowl and add the almond flour, whey powder, cardamom, baking powder, salt, and xylitol and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the chopped apricots and rub through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate the pieces.
  5. Whisk the eggs and cold water in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly until completely combined.
  6. Carefully pour or spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups – they should be slightly under-filled.
  7. Place in center of oven at 300F for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes until you can handle the silicone cups.
  9. Turn each cup top down in one hand, and using the other hand gently squeeze the sides of the cup all the way round until the sides release and the muffin pops out. Be gentle.
  10. Place each muffin on a cooling rack to cool.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins



*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Chantel - These look fab but just wondered how many we are allowed to eat in one sitting and still not be naughty? I don’t think that one would be enough!! He he

Nancy - Hi Carrie, LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, your recipes, and your great podcasts with Jonathan. I have been eating SANELY since 1-1-13 and couldn’t be happier. You’ve even convinced me to walk past my scale in the morning. Anyway I can get you to put me on your list of food tasters? I’ll pay the postage if you want to send me some of these amazing-looking muffins!

Thanks for all you do.

Nancy in Atlanta

Megan - Carrie,

Are the sunflower seeds with or without shells?

Susan - Carrie,
You have created a monster! Just kidding. I needed something to take up to the mountains on a XC ski trip…these are perfect. Just made them and they came out perfect and yes I ate one right away!

This recipe easily translates to other fruits/spices…can’t wait to experiment.

Keep up the SANE work!

Lori Borenstein - I heard a great descritpion of the difference between almond meal and almond flour I want to share. Almond meal includes the skin of the almond. Almond flour is skinless (I guess that’s what makes it smoother). Also, I think they also blanch the almonds with the almond flour. Hope that helps some readers with the difference. King Arthur Flour makes an Almond Flour and Trader Joe’s sells Almond Meal.

Deborah - I am really looking forward to making these! You list the sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almond flour and xylitol by weight. I do not have a food scale. Do you have any idea how much of these you used by cup or tsp? I can probably figure out the apricots from the package. Sorry, for being a pain. The last few baked items like this I made did not turn out well. So, I don’t want to guess.

thanks :)

Deborah in Sammamish

Janknitz - Deborah, it’s highly worth considering getting an inexpensive baking scale. It makes measuring so much more accurate and easy (no measuring cups to wash!).

But in the absence of a scale, look for an app called Kitchen Pro from I’m not sure if there’s a pc version or not, but I have the iPhone app and it comes in handy. It will convert measurements, including weight, volume, temperature and length. What’s really great is you can take a weight measurement like 4 1/2 oz of ground almonds and convert it to a volume measurement for that particular ingredient (remember, different ingredients have different weights, even with the same volume).

I don’t recall if it was a free or paid app, but it’s a great app and very much worth whatever I paid for it.

carrie - Chantel – this is a very long and complex answer and there’s a whole post coming soon! THANK YOU for swinging by :-)

carrie - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Nancy!! Nest step – toss the scale :-)

carrie - Megan – without shells.

carrie - Susan – it’s a happy, friendly, healthy monster :-) Hope you had a fabulous ski trip!!

carrie - Deborah – please, please, please grab yourself a scale :-) The reason I weigh is because you get consistent (great) results – which you never will if you go by volume. Right now I can’t help further as I am away from my kitchen :-(

carrie - THANKS, Janknitz!!

Lori Borenstein - OH no… I don’t have xylitol! Can I use Trader Joe’s Stevia powder instead? If so, what quantity?

carrie - Lori – in this case the xylitol is just to sweeten so you can sub out for stevia. Use whatever amount of stevia is equivalent to 2 oz regular sugar – I have no clue what that is, as I am not a stevia user. Hope that helps even a little!

Lori Borenstein - I haven’t used cardamom before and I love the light citrus-floral aroma/taste it brings. The only thing that would make it a “5 star” would be some sort of simple thin glaze like in the donut picture.

carrie - Except without sugar “glaze” is not simple ;-) However, I just rustled up a prototype glaze which was way more successfully than I thought it would be. Now I just have to refine it. You could keep me busy with requests, all on your own :-)

Cowgirl Rae - OOOH, I purchased some cardamom, now I’m afraid, it’s very different than anything I usually use. We REALLY like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Cardamom is nothing like that. If I follow the recipe what is the level of cardamom flavor. Low, med or high?

I’m worried Hubs will not like it. What other recipes are suitable for cardamom? Sweet, savory?

carrie - Low, Cowgirl. It is very fragrant, almost perfumey spice. I love it. I have only used it for sweet dishes so far. I use it in ice cream ;-)

AmyCr - This sounds soo good. I would love a coffee cake recipe with Almond Flour!!

carrie - I’ll add it to the list, Amy!

Niamh Kane - Yummy! I’m looking forward to bringing these to a potluck dinner this weekend at least I know there will be something there I can eat:) Thanks Carrie!

carrie - Good call, Niamh!

Jill - Hey Carrie! New to SSoS (3 weeks)! I’m wondering if I can substitute powdered egg whites for whey protein powder in the recipe. Thanks for your insights and being real! You and Jonathan make my day!

carrie - Hi Jill – I cannot in good faith give you an answer because I haven’t trialed it. It is on my list of things to do. My guess is that the recipe will have to be altered to allow for extra sweetner. I am also not sure what all that extra protein will do to the structure. I really need to try them before giving you an answer….sorry! Thanks for the love – I sure appreciate you.

Janelle - I am new (as of last Friday) to SANE eating, and have been exploring recipes on your blog. I’m trying to introduce the rest of the family to this lifestyle, so I made these as a breakfast addition/treat. My 13-year-old daughter said to me, “Mom, if all your ‘diet’ food tastes like this, I’m IN!!” :-) I did make minor modifications, as apricots are not a favorite here. I made cardamom-cashew-coconut muffins (only about 1/4 cup of each, at most). They are FABULOUS, even if my youngest refuses to eat them because of the chia seeds (she says she won’t eat grass seeds…lol!). Thanks so much – this recipe introduced me to several new ingredients, and although it will be an occasional treat, this will be a regular staple here.