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 ForwardLeapSoftware.com. 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.

Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

I got home *really* late the other day.  Ha!  Did you notice how I said that like it was a rare occurrence?  Anyway, I needed dinner and I needed it now.  I had sleep to get to.  And a desperately fluffy cat that was giving me the stink eye for being gone for 16 hours and 17 minutes.  There’s no sneaking in the back door past Miss Daisy, you know.

I threw open the doors of the ‘fridge and peered inside.  Sometimes when I do that I feel like I’ve just stepped onto the set of “Chopped”, except my 5 things are in the ‘fridge, not a wicker picnic basket.  And no one is going to be judging me.  Except Daisy.  I can always count on Daisy to let me know what’s what.

I had roast smoked turkey slices (the thin deli-style meat), Greek yogurt, leeks and crimini mushrooms.  Of course I had leeks.  When does my ‘fridge ever not have leeks in it?  I figured I had about 15 minutes before my head would start to nod and my eyelids require match sticks.  My choices appeared to be:

  1. Eat the turkey and call it good.
  2. Down the yogurt and pretend it was cottage cheese or something less like dessert.  Or just eat it and revel in the fact that it was dessert.
  3. Ignore that I was hungry and go to bed.
  4. Cook something.

Here were the downsides to each of those options:

  1. Boring.  And cold.
  2. Boring.  And cold.  And for some inexplicable reason, yogurt makes me hungry, so that wouldn’t work.
  3. Never a good idea.  Going to bed hungry is not the path to a great sleep.
  4. Time and energy.

So I opted to do #4 using as little time and energy as possible.  This was the result.  Tarragon Turkey with Leeks.

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Tarragon does something magical to turkey, you know.  If I had to name my herb of the year, it would be tarragon.  It totally transforms this 10-minute-dinner from deli-meat dish to terrific turkey taste-fest.

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

Another 10 minutes later it was lights out.  Daisy approved. 

Carrie Brown | Daisy the Cat

As much as I love to cook, there’s a lot to be said for 10-minute-dinners that are this simple, fast and tasty.

And, if you’re single like me, there’s even better news. You have lunch or dinner for tomorrow already done. Score!


4.7 from 3 reviews
Tarragon Turkey with Leeks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
  • 7 oz / 200g roast smoked turkey slices, cut into thin strips
  • 4 oz / 110g crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup / 4 fl oz. 2% or full-fat Greek Yogurt (DO NOT USE fat-free!)
  • 1 TBSP fresh tarragon, chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 oz / 28g pine nuts
  1. Heat the coconut oil in, add the sliced leeks and saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5 minutes until leeks are softened.
  2. Stir in the thin strips of turkey and the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms and turkey are warmed through - about 3 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in the chopped tarragon and yogurt.
  4. Turn the turkey mixture into a casserole dish.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts evenly over the top of the turkey.
  6. Place under a hot broiler (grill) until the pine nuts turn golden brown. Don't walk away - you'll end up with burnt nuts!

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks




*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 - Am eating this now – for breakfast! – and it is very tasty. Used cooked chicken, dried tarragon and pumpkin seeds cos didn’t have turkey, fresh tarragon or pine nuts. Have put other half to be side to grill for lunch. This is my first SANE meal after a few days of inSANEity brought on by a weekend away. Driven back to SANEity to stop the cravings, sleep and feel better again. I might keep falling off the wagon but I keep coming back!!! Thanks for the recipe…..

carrie - Congrats on keeping on coming back, Lady P! It’s true – you do feel so much better eating SANE!!

Lisa - Great tasting, quick and easy! Both husband & I liked it a lot. Would reheat well for lunches too.

carrie - Lisa – I love how well turkey and tarragon go together! I also love that this is so fast and tasty :-) I’ve even eaten it for breakfast :-)

Diane - Made a dish inspired by your recipe but I ran out of leeks (the horror) so I used onions, no tarragon so I just made a medley of sage, rosemary and thyme. No full fat Greek yogurt so I used sour cream. Guess what? It turned out pretty tasty even with my substitutions. It is waiting to be eaten for tomorrow’s lunch.

carrie - You RAN. OUT. OF. LEEKS??? Oh, the shame!! ;-) I hope you try it with leeks and tarragon when you can!! How was lunch?

Andrea M. - This was absolutely first rate! I made it with chicken because I didn’t have smoked turkey, and it was still delicious. Can’t wait to use the recipe for some of my turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving!

We Need To Talk

Being Valentine’s Day I thought it only fitting that we dive under the covers together, because I think it’s high time we got a little more intimate.  We’ve been hanging out for a while now – and we need to talk.

We need to talk about emotions.  And chicken.  Kentucky Fried Chicken to be precise.

It’s true.  I do *love* KFCLOVE it.  I suspect that I am not alone in this unrequited love.   I am also not too proud to declare that love far & wide.  I suspect that I am rather more alone in that endeavour – especially since I have this healthy-eating blog thing goin’ on, and a podcast listened to all over the world by hundreds of thousands of people where I extol the virtues of eating smarter.  I am not supposed to even mention the name KFC, let alone write about it – or heaven forbid – EAT IT.

But the truth is – even the sight of the bucket makes my heart beat just a little bit faster.  So before I receive an inbox full of flame mail about how I could possibly call myself the Queen of *SANEity and then write an entire post proclaiming the utter yumminess of Kentucky Fried Chicken, hear me out.

Just like you, I am human.  And just like you, I have emotions.  And sometimes, just like yours, those emotions are more powerful than anything else that’s going on.  I know this about you because Jonathan and I receive tons of pleas to talk about emotional eating.  It seems that emotional eating is sometimes all that is standing between us and *SANEity.  I want you to know – I get it.  Truly, deeply get it.  I also want you to know that emotions are like waves – we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf.  And every once in a while I choose to surf the KFC wave – because sometimes we need to let our emotions have their moment in the spotlight in order to stop them incessantly demanding attention in increasingly unhealthy ways.

So what is it about Kentucky Fried Chicken that makes me drool?  Nothing.  Why does KFC have the ability to make me do inSANE things?  It doesn’t.  It’s absolutely nothing to do with the chicken.  It’s all about the emotions, Baby.

Carrie Brown  |  KFC

It all began several years ago – ok, a long time ago – before I was even a teenager.  Every other Saturday my family would make the hour-and-a-quarter long drive up to London to my grandparents house to spend the afternoon and have tea with them.  In those days the term “tea” in this context meant a meal consisting  of sandwiches or bread and butter with jam, maybe some cheese and cold meat, and then a piece of cake, all served with a pot of tea.  This was either the last meal of the day or a light meal served between lunch and dinner.  For our family it was the last meal of the day.

We usually left our grandparents around 8 pm to head home, and one {entirely} memorable night my father did something quite extraordinary & totally out of character.  Driving down the road he suddenly pulled over and stopped outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken store.  He turned to our mother and said “Let’s have chicken and chips.”  My brother and I sat in stunned silence in the back seat wondering what on earth our mother’s response would be, and if, in fact, the world would ever be the same again.  To our utter astonishment she simply agreed.  They left us in the car while they went into the store to get 4 boxes of chicken and chips.  {Bro – chime in anytime you want.}

To appreciate this tale, you have to understand the utter enormity of what was taking place.  We had a whole slug of unwritten codes of conduct in our family, some of which included:

1. You NEVER eat in public unless you are at a restaurant, sat at a table, using a knife and fork.

2. You NEVER have extra meals outside of the 3 structured, regular-as-clockwork meals that your mother prepares.

3. You NEVER eat fast food, junk food or pretty much anything that isn’t made from scratch by your mother.

4. You NEVER do anything random or unplanned, reckless or spontaneous.

5. You NEVER spend money on anything that is not a necessity (unless it is Christmas).

6. You NEVER do anything just because it is fun or enjoyable.

This was a family who only ate sweets (candy) for one week a year – from Christmas to New Year.  A family who only drank fizzy drinks (soda, pop) that same week; who only had crisps (chips), chocolate biscuits (cookies), and chocolate that same one week of the year.  The same family who ate ice cream maybe twice a year, never went to a fast food place, and had never eaten burgers or a hot-dog.  A family that had only two family vacations that I can remember in the 21 years I lived at home.  A family that almost exclusively only saw any other members of the family (outside of our paternal grandparents) at 21st birthday parties, weddings, and funerals.

Trust me.  This spontaneous pit stop at KFC was a huge deal.  HUGE.  It has remained imprinted on my mind, my heart, my soul…forever.  It was a defining moment.  We ate chicken and chips in the car.

Carrie Brown | KFC

Understand that when I confess to a run-in with a bucket of chicken, I am choosing to let my body live with a dash of inSANEity in order to take care of my emotions.  AND THAT’S OK.  Because sometimes that is the right thing to do to keep yourself in balance.  If you’ve been living SANE for a while, your body is likely very good at dealing with the odd moment of inSANEity, and it will not have any detrimental effect at all.  The {far} greater harm would be in beating yourself up mercilessly over 3 pieces of chicken with a small amount of wheat glued to it.

So don’t tell anyone, but last Thursday night (which is my Friday) I went to KFC on the way home and bought a bucket of chicken!!!!  And I ate it all!!!!  And it was AWESOME!!!!  And I didn’t die!!!!  And I didn’t put on 4 lbs overnight!!!!  In fact – nothing bad happened.  At all.  Fresh, hot, juicy chicken wrapped in that secret blend of 11 herbs & spices clinging to the semi-crispy, delicious tasty skin.  I am salivating just thinking about it.  And sometimes, as was the case at about 8 pm on that particular Thursday night, there was no apparent reason for it…I just had this random, spontaneous desire to eat KFC.  AND THAT’S OK.

And then, the next day I woke up and went on my merry SANE way.  And I won’t eat KFC again until the next KFC wave comes rolling in – which likely won’t be for 6 months, or maybe even a year.  Because I took care of my emotions and the cravings went on their way.  I think it may have been a {very} different story if I’d gone into battle with my emotions instead of just letting them have their moment.

Sometimes you have to lose the battle in order to win the war.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!



*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!

N - I stumbled upon this via Urban Spoon and just love it! So much of what I love about food and write about is the emotional and social connection it creates between and within people. You write it so much better. :)

Natasha Reed - I love it when somebody just opens up the closet and airs their dirty, oh so dirty foody favorites.

I seriously have to ask….have you tried Ezell’s? Because really, Ezell’s is stinking awesome. Cheers to you on the chicken love. ;-)

cb - :-) It is what it is.

Ezell’s, no. But I will now! Stinking awesome sounds, well, stinking awesome right now.

Love your portrait work BTW.

cb - Why, thank you, N. I am not sure that it’s true that I write it so much better, but thank you anyway :-)

Lt. Sanders - I am an unabashed lover of KFC’s bucket of bird! Spread the original recipe love!

Patee - Nice job. It’s about time somebody like you told the truth. Way to go.

Yolando Carota - Hi, good day. Wonderful post. You have gained a new subscriber. Pleasee continue this great work and I look forward to more of your great blog posts.

Alisa - Great post! It’s one of my favorites too, although I dont get to eat it that much these days. You are right, there are a lot of happy memories with a bucket of KFC :)

Mario - Hey man, I own a website too and I almost never see spam comments on your posts. How do you manage to stop it all? Do you just manually moderate all of it?

cb - No, I have a really cool tool that automatically deletes all the spammers. Leaving yours up here so that maybe you & your fellow spammers will give up and go do something useful with your lives instead.

Angielski - Lol. Very nice article. You have to write more on the topic

Birdie Carew - Great article. Waiting for more.

Sunbreaks « Thursday Night Bites - [...] “Really?!?! Fine, eat your chicken, but why write about it?” Still, I clicked on the post and read it. I was totally blown away. The author, CB of Foodie Footnotes, completely captured what [...]

Cyndy Sponsler - Splendid, as a gentleman would say. Brilliant work on this writing. I sincerely adore it ;).

Nathan Miles - I am so glad I came accross this today. Absolutely awesome and so true and i love it. thanks

Jane - Spotted a link to this post over at Delicious. Thanks for posting it.

Chicken Love » Foodie Footnotes - [...] twin made me do it.  She said, “Have you tried Ezell’s?  Because really, Ezell’s is stinking [...]

Warts And All » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - [...] nature or human emotion.  Science doesn’t get that you can have an emotional attachment to Kentucky Fried Chicken so strong it can make you drive 30 miles just to get a bucket.  The science is simple – that [...]

Summer Pear Slaw » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - [...] and The Hubs were due to come over with a big bucket of bird in the early evening.  My contribution?  To bring some *SANEity to the proceedings.  Which, by [...]

Romy - Dear Carrie
Thanks for sharing this story.
Looking forward to more of your posts.

Nancy - I had pancakes for breakfast with my dad and I didn’t feel guilty for one second! :) :) :)

carrie - GO, Nancy!!

cowgirl rae - You rock Carrie! Thank your for sharing. Thank you for showing the world the humanness in the blog-o-sphere.

I’m astounded at the bitterness and judgmental attitudes others show, too bad some folks feel driven to only show what they think others want to see, AND, go so far as to hold those expectations over others.

Don’t they know it’s not a contest? there are no winners or losers?

Carry on!

tammy - love it… had a similar situation with cinnamon rolls yesterday.. smiling!

carrie - Love it, Tammy!!

carrie - Thanks, Cowgirl. I just have to be real – it’s who I am. Some people will criticize – I am OK with that!!!

Ann - Carrie, I LOVE this post! It shows that you are human, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate hearing about people who have emotional eating days because it makes me feel better about my own indulgences from time to time. I’m willing to bet that most of us have days like that, and I really like that you shared your KFC craving with us. It makes me not beat myself up as much when I emotional eat… which I did the night before last with Domino’s pizza and Valentine chocolates. Yesterday I hopped back on the sane wagon, but boy was eating pizza and chocolate fun!

carrie - Thanks, Ann! I have to be honest – it’s just who I am. Glad it helps!!

Asha - Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes we hold a perception that healthy food bloggers eat chia seeds and kale all day every day. When in fact, they don’t. We can use our misguided perceptions to berate ourselves (which, as you point out does far greater harm than the food we are eating). Okay I confess I ate 10 peanut butter reeses yesterday, and guilt tripped myself the entire evening. Sigh.

The whole notion of eating one’s emotions is something I am fascinated by and am exploring further. Would love to hear more posts like this. Nice one Carrie.

carrie - Hi Asha – thanks for chiming in! I do, for the most part, eat SANE – 95% of the time – but I don’t berate myself when I don’t because it’s just not helpful! I eat SANE because I feel so much better when I do, and I physically suffer when I don’t. There are different types of emotional eating and I will deifinitely be writing a lot more of this! It’s important.

Potty Dimley - CB: you are a wise woman. In the UK in the 1970s and 80s, KFC was exotic and memorable for all the reasons that you listed. To this day, it’s a rare and delicious treat.

When I got married the first time at an absurdly young age, we finished our make shift wedding with a night out with friends. On the way home, my new husband of less than 12 hours refused to let me eat KFC on the way home. There were tears, and thirty years later, I still swear that’s where it started to go horribly wrong….

carrie - Potty – love the story. KFC has a lot to answer for!! From one KFC lover to another…

Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

Can you even believe it’s February already?  Let alone careering into the middle of if.  I just don’t know where the time goes, but this year is scooting right along.  It seems like just yesterday that we were kicking this glorious New Year off with a bang and a blog post.

Later this week I am heading south on a shooting trip to California, and, if I’m honest, I hope to snag a little downtime.  Since I started creating *SANE recipes last April, and since the Bailornator and I launched the SSoS podcasts last July, life has got a little lot crazier around here.  I blame Bailor.  And my mortgage; but that’s another story.  It’s a life I love, despite it being a tad ridiculously hectic.

While I adore living in the Pacific Northwest, I admit I am pretty darn excited to feel the sand between my toes, the sun on my face, and the ocean breeze messing up the mop of blonde on my head.  I am almost giddy at the thought of hurtling down the I-5, sunroof thrown open with abandon, singing – although I am not sure how accurate that term is – at the top of my lungs, and smiling at all the truckers; I often think I should’ve been a trucker, you know, since driving for 12 hours straight is one of my very favorite things to do.

I’ve got a new set of beastie tires, fresh oil in the engine, emergency kits stowed, and copious quantities of beef jerky ready to set up camp on the passenger seat.  Ten days of driving and shooting awesomeness.  Yes! Please!

January only conceded a couple of shooting opportunities – New Years Day, and then a thin sliver of time somewhere in the middle when I ran away from the kitchen and the computer for half a day to catch my breath.  It may seem to you that I cannot get enough of whipping up scrumptious SANE concoctions.  You might imagine me spooning contentedly with my Vitamix every night, or waking up to find my kitchen scales slumbering quietly beside me.  You may well believe that I have a magical oven that bakes rainbows & unicorns into everything that I put in it.  You might think that mixing and slicing and kneading and chopping and peering excitedly through the glass door of the oven with baited breath never gets old to me.  And you would be right; on all counts except spooning with my Vitamix and waking up to my kitchen scales.  That’s taking things an incy-wincy bit too far, even for me.  However, as much as I love playing in the kitchen, there are just some times when I know that I need to step out of it for a while if I am going to give it my best when I am in it.

On the day I decided to run away, my lengthy to-do list yelled at me that I didn’t have time to, but I ran away anyway; because I knew I’d be way more effective afterwards if I did.  You know the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”?  Yeah.  Like that.  I highly recommend it as a strategy for getting things done.  And staying sane; the other kind of sane.

This, then, is where I live.  I don’t have to go very far to get inspired.  Love that.

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

Sometimes the simplest things are all we need to turn us right-way-up again.

Like a few hours doing something we love.

Like having a temporary media black-out.

Like sitting with a friend and chatting over a cuppa.

Like this dish of deliciousness.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

It’s so very simple, but these days I’d rather eat this than any number of complicated pastries or fancy desserts.

Creamy, crunchy, chewy; with a delicate hint of orange.  I ate it for breakfast.  Then I ate it for a snack.  Then I ate it for dessert.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

Life can be simple and awesome.  So can your food.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Orange Cranberry Almond Cream
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 1½ oz. / 40g slivered, toasted almonds
  • 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries
  • 1 oz. / 28g vanilla whey protein powder
  1. In a bowl mix the cottage cheese and Greek yogurt together.
  2. Sprinkle the guar gum evenly over the surface and quickly stir into the yogurt mixture.
  3. Stir in the orange extract, almonds, dried cranberries and whey protein.
  4. Mix well and refrigerate for 15 minutes to thicken.
  5. Spoon into dishes.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream




*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!

isangel - Love your photography!! Photography and travel are my hobbies and your photos are the same type (landscape/scenic)that are my favorite subjects. You live in a beautiful area.
Do also greatly enjoy all your posts and recipes. Have tried many of them and truly enjoyed them all.

carrie - Thank you so much, isangel!

Julie - Beautiful photos! We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I am jealous of your road trip though. This looks delicious – where did you find unsweetened dried cranberries?

carrie - I didn’t – that was an over-zealous typo. Sorry about that :-( Thanks for the photo love!!

Julie - haha. I was impressed as I have been looking for them at TJ’s. :)
Excited to see what you come back with from your trip.

Isangel - You can easily make your own dried cranberries without sugar if you have a food dehydrator.

Sylvia - Gorgeous pics, Carrie! I can feel the serenity just looking at them. Love your recipes and am looking forward to trying this one. Now, off to the shops to get the ingredients…YUM!

carrie - Thank you, Sylvia!

carrie - Great idea, Isangel!

Sally - I love this recipe!! After a year of trying to find a quick, high protein, not egg based breakfast… I believe it’s here! Iv made it twice already, love it. One question, how long do you think this will keep in the fridge for?x

carrie - YAY, Sally! This makes me so happy :-)) I’d be happy to keep it in the ‘fridge for 4 – 5 days…only thing is the almonds might go soft. If that matters to you, make it up minus the almonds and throw in the almonds the morning that you eat each batch.

Lorrie - Love the Cranberry Almond Cream…I didn’t have orange extract, so I eliminated it and I used chia seeds instead of the guar gum! Since I have no clue what yours tasted like, I think mine turned out fine! :-) I divided them into little serving cups and they’re ready to grab and eat. Mmmm!

Enjoy your little trip.

carrie - Nice job, Lorrie! Try it with the orange extract next time and see what you think.

Diane - I tried this and I also did not have any orange extract so I peeled an orange and vitamixed it to oblivion added it and it was transformed into a wonderful sweet treat! I could not believed how great those ingredients all came together to such a decadent protein packed food. I have to say I am not a fan of plain greek nonfat yogurt. But now I have to go out and buy more just for this reason. Yum!

carrie - Love it, Diane!!! You are the bomb with oranges in a Vitamix!!

Ellen - I found some unsweetened dried cranberries at Whole Paycheck…..er, I mean Whole Foods, but they were a little “crunchy”. Everywhere else, including Trader Joe’s, has dried cranberries with sugar or dried cane extract added. Were these what you used? Thanks!

carrie - Ellen – I used Trader Joe’s. If you use ones with no sugar, soak them for an hour or two, drain and then use to get rid of the “crunchy”.

Leslie - Carrie – I know you posted this a while ago, but just wanted to let you know I’m totally addicted to this! The cottage cheese really helps to change the taste of the yogurt so it’s not like I’m eating the same thing all the time. I didn’t care for the lumpy texture from the cottage cheese, so stick blended until glossy and smooth. OMG, soooo good! Then I thought, wouldn’t this be great if it was chocolate? So I changed to choc. protein powder and added some cocoa and changed the extract to almond. Awesome. Not quite as awesome as the original, but then, I’m not you ;-) Thanks so much for all of the great and healthy recipes!

carrie - Leslie – love that you smashed the cottage cheese up! A lot of folks can’t get past cottage cheese texture. Love the choc idea too :-)

Danielle - I used this to top a couple of slices of low carb pumpkin bread this morning. Lovely seasonal parfait! Maybe I’ll take a picture next time. :-)

What’s in my cupboards?

I heard a rumor that some of you lovely readers want to know what a *SANE pantry, ‘fridge and freezer look like.  And, you want pictures.  I can see how this could be a frightening prospect to some cooks, but I have what I like to think of as a tidy – albeit rather complicated – mind.  I think my therapist may have another term for it, but let’s keep going with the tidy mind concept.  My kitchen cupboards reflect this.  Well, the tidy part at least.  They are definitely not complicated.  A little unorthodox, perhaps.  Complicated, no.

You’ll notice I do not like packets very much.  Or cans.  Or boxes.  I do like glass storage jars.  Matching ones.  It makes things remarkably easy to find; and let’s face it – we’d all rather I spend my time making up new *SANE recipes than scrabbling around trying to locate the flax seed or the dried cranberries.  I admit I also have a bit of a thing for my labeling machine.  I like to think that I’ll remember what all those different white powdery things are, but the reality is that labels make life much simpler, and I am all about a simpler life.

Writing this reminds me of the time my cousins from England showed up in Seattle, hungry from an Alaskan cruise.  Yes, I realize that “Alaskan cruise” and “hungry” is a bit of an oxymoron, but I promise it’s a true story. They all piled into my kitchen looking for something to eat, then threw open every cupboard before exclaiming, “Where’s the food???!!”  Which is a very interesting question when the contents of the cupboards look like this.

Carrie Brown Kitchen Cupboard

Because, as you can see – my cupboard is full of food.  You know real food.  Whole food.  Food that used to live on a tree or a bush.  I can only assume that they were looking for packets and boxes and cans filled with something else.  Something that merely resembled food.  Sad.

My cousins also photographed my cutlery drawer, because they wanted to immortalize the fact that there was someone on planet earth who kept their cutlery drawer so ridiculously tidy.  Another true story is that I once dated a man based on the tidiness of his cutlery drawer.  Many, many years of therapy later, I no longer use that as a dating criteria.  Oh.  Wait.  I no longer have a dating criteria – I haven’t dated in 6 years.  I am certain that cats are so much easier than husbands and children.  Hey, how we got from people wanting to know what a SANE pantry looks like, to my dating habits, I am not entirely sure, but let’s get back to the food.  It’s way more interesting.

Here’s a list of the things that I stock my kitchen with.  Keeping these staples on hand makes it super-easy to rustle up a SANE meal or snack at a moments notice.  The ones that are hyper-linked will take you to a page where they are explained more fully and tell you where you can get them if they are new to you.



  • Butter: salted / unsalted
  • Cottage cheese, non-fat
  • Cheese, Cheddar (sharp / strong)
  • Cheese (unsweetened): Parmesan / mozzarella / ricotta / goats / feta
  • Cream cheese
  • Greek yoghurt: non-fat / 2% / full-fat
  • Shirataki noodles
  • Sour cream: non-fat


  • Eggs
  • Fish, smoked
  • Flaxseed, ground
  • Hemp seed, ground
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Mayonnaise, unsweetened
  • Meat: roast chicken / turkey slices
  • Milks, unsweetened: Coconut / almond / hemp / sunflower (in cartons)
  • Nut butters: Almond / peanut
  • Stocks: chicken / vegetable (clear)

Fruits / veggies – a whole bunch!


Nuts (I keep a jar in the kitchen and store the rest in the freezer to keep them fresh longer)

Fruit / Vegetables

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Mixed berries
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Meat / Fish

  • Beef: ground
  • Chicken: breasts / tenders / thighs
  • Lamb: chops / ground
  • Pork: chops / bacon / bacon ends
  • Prawns
  • Salmon: fillets / burgers
  • Sausages: chicken / turkey / pork
  • Turkey: fillets / breast / ground / burgers






*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!

Mark Harris - This is a fab article thank you.
What I could do with big time is a book (ideally) that outlines what to have for breakfast (with recipes and pictures), lunch and dinner, all with pictures and recipes. To be honest when I think of eating the kinds of foods written about and in fact when I’ve had a go I feel very unsatisfied, I miss the sauces, rice and noodles…yet the evolutionary argument is very hard to argue against….again thanks for a fab article really liked it.

Heidi - I live in the NW and where do you find unsweented dried fruit that is on your list above? I looked at Trader Joes yesterday and my local grocery store and they all had added sugar.

And your thoughts on Sugar Free Syrups? Are they SANE? I am trying to cut out sugar or sugar replacements. I use the syrups in my coffee but I am trying to cut back becuase I thought they were not SANE? I use just one pump for my large coffee travel cup which is down from 2 pumps. So I am doing better. But again trying to cut them out because I thought they were garbage for you.

Where do you get Mayonnaise, unsweetened? What brand do you buy? And regular not low fat or all the new kinds with Olive Oil or Canola Oil or the Smart Balance brands?

Thank You for all that you do for all of us,

Jenny - I’m wondering about low fat and fat-free dairy… I know that they are described in this diet as the right choices, but it doesn’t make sense to me: When fat is reduced or removed from dairy, other things {unhealthy additives} are put in to give back some of the creaminess and flavor. Fillers are almost never a good thing. Also, the processing is heavy, and we want less processed food. So why not eat whole, grass-fed, natural dairy in moderation versus eating synthetic, highly manufactured “fat free” versions?

carrie - Jenny – very much depends on the brands you buy, for example, there are no other added ingredients in Trader Joe’s non-fat Greek yogurt over their full-fat version. We tend to use low or non-fat versions not because they are lower in fat but because they are higher in protein. Depending on the amount of other healthy fats in your diet, you may choose the full-fat versions over the non-fat. Then you would just need to make sure you get the extra protein elsewhwere. Hope that helps!

carrie - Heidi – will get back to you on email – lots to answer here!

Nancy - Curious about the Shirataki noodles and the Konjac flour?????

carrie - Ah ha, Nancy! You noticed. Darn. I haven’t done recipes with these yet. Coming soon!

carrie - Thanks, Mark!! So glad that you found it useful. Before the book comes out, you can find breakfasts here: http://www.marmaladeandmileposts.com/archives/category/food/sane/breakfasts dinners here: http://www.marmaladeandmileposts.com/archives/category/food/sane/dinner-meals smoothies here: http://www.marmaladeandmileposts.com/archives/category/food/sane/smoothies lunches here: http://www.marmaladeandmileposts.com/archives/category/food/sane/lunch and you can use the navigation on the left hand side to find further categories. Hope that helps!

Katie - I am having trouble finding the konjac flour. Was wondering where u get it or if there is a substitution for it?

Leanda Kayess - Thanks Carrie!

Michelle - Do I spy Crio Bru in your pantry? That’s a staple in mine! Not many people know about it.

carrie - Yes, Michelle! Well spotted :-)

Jeanne - Wine? Do you use it in cooking? Can I live SANE and still drink some in moderation?

carrie - Hi Jeanne, I use wine here and there in cooking. I don’t drink alcohol at all – but that was the case long before I went SANE. I would say it depends on where you are starting from and what your goals are as to how much wine you want to consume, since, being made from grapes it quite high in sugars. If you have a long way to go on your journey then I would stay away until your metabolism is healed and you are burning fat well. Hope that helps!