Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

Uh-oh, there goes another white t-shirt.  1 month into 2013 and 2 white t-shirts have bitten the dust.  This one got hit with an attack of the cocoa powder; plus some red food coloring, just to make it more interesting.  And no, I do not use red food coloring – I was in the process of throwing it away.  Just thought I’d clear that up right out the gate.  One of these days I hope I can remember not to wear a white t-shirt when I am cleaning out cupboards in the kitchen, or eating anything drippy.  At this rate my white t-shirt budget will be higher than my almond flour budget, and baby, that’s big.

Talking of t-shirts – earlier this week our fearless leader and I were in the studio podcasting, and he showed up wearing one of his new t-shirts.  I knew you’d love to see a picture of him wearing it, so I snapped one for you.  He would not let me include his head because he had a serious case of designer stubble going on.  I was fine with that because I didn’t spend much time that day looking at his head anyway.

Do you love the t-shirt?  What do you mean, “Huh?” ?!  Focus, people, focus!  You’re supposed to be looking at the t-shirt.  Love the t-shirt?  You can get your very own right here.

Jonathan Bailor Eccentric T-shirt

In other news, if the sight of Bailor in a t-shirt doesn’t inspire you to do your 10 minutes of eccentric exercise, you might want to have a friend check your pulse.  I’ll be right back.  I have a date with a dumbbell.

Carrie Brown - Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

Have we all stopped quivering yet?  Because I have something else for you to get all googly-eyed over.  I’ll give you a clue.  It’s a muffin.

I thought it only fitting to add a muffin recipe to this post, because there certainly ain’t no muffin tops anywhere else on this page.  Plus, I promised you muffins last weekend, and muffins you shall have.  These are probably my most thrilling experiment with baked goods yet.  I still can’t quite believe it when I eat one.  If you didn’t know this was a *SANE muffin, you’d never guess this was a *SANE muffin.

Carrie Brown - Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

It looks just like a regular muffin.  And by golly, it tastes just like a terribly tasty regular muffin.  When I took these into the office earlier in the week they were met with an enormous amount of muffin love.  Everyone is still really confused about how they can possibly be wheat, gluten, grain, sugar, dairy and added fat free, but that didn’t stop them swooning once they’d eaten one.  And demanding the recipe.  Repeatedly.  Oh, and did I mention fast and easy to make?  They are really fast and easy to make.

Carrie Brown - Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

Here, have some Cinnamon Raisin Muffins and rejoice the day you discovered what *SANE meant.  And that you can eat more and exercise less and yet be healthier and slimmer than ever.

I bet you are SO ready for that!

4.5 from 10 reviews
Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
  • Coconut oil spray
  • ½ oz / 15g chia seeds
  • ½ oz / 15g sunflower seeds
  • 1 oz / 28g unsweetened coconut
  • 4 oz / 110g almond flour
  • ½ oz / 15g ground flax seeds
  • 1 oz / 28g almond meal
  • ½ oz / 15g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz / 55g xylitol
  • 4 oz / 110g raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup / 6 fl oz. COLD water
  1. Spray 12 silicone muffins cups with coconut oil and place them in a muffin pan.
  2. In a coffee grinder, grind the chia, sunflower seeds and coconut well.
  3. Tip the ground seed mixture into a mixing bowl (preferably one with a pouring lip) and add the almond flour, ground flax seeds, almond meal, whey powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, xylitol, and raisins and mix all together well.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and cold water together.
  5. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well until completely mixed.
  6. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups, stopping a little short of full.
  7. Bake the muffins in the center of the oven at 325F for 30 minutes, until golden brown on the top.
  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 - Cinnamon Raisin 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!

Claire Lucas - Hi Carrie, can’t wait to make these!! Can you tell me what almond meal is called in the UK?

Mikki - Carrie these look Delish! If I left out the xylitol and whey powder (maybe added vanilla essence) do you think that would dramatically change these? Thank you! Mikki.

carrie - Mikki – you will likely want some kind of sweetener in there, but if you want to replace with an equivalent to xylitol that would work. If you take the whey out it will lower the SANEity, and I would add in the same amount of almond meal to keep the ratio of dry v. wet ingredients the same. I wouldn’t worry about the vamilla extract. I am also not guaranteeing these will work or be as yummmy! Hope that helps.

carrie - Claire – I am not sure if it goes under a different name, but it looks like your best bet is a health food store or place where you can get bulk foods like nuts and beans. Please let us know where you find it! Alternatively, you may have to get whole (skin on) almonds and grind your own.

Urzay - Hi Carrie these look sensational and I’ll be trying them today or tomorrow.
I actually bought coconut flour and ground chia seeds last week – could I use those instead of the chia seed and unsweetend coconut? And if so, would I use the same amount of weight? The thing is I’m a great cook but not that good in making weets and desserts i.e. in the baking department, so you might think this is a silly question.

carrie - Urzay – there are no silly questions! Especially when it comes to baking :-) Yes on the ground chia seeds, NO on the coconut flour – it will throw the recipe off. Coconut flour is not just ground coconut.

Urzay - Cool thanks Carrie. I just checked the ingredients list on my coconut flour:- Dried coconut meat only. The brand is “Banaban”

carrie - Urzay – right, coconut flour is coconut meat but most of the oil is removed which makes it behave very differently to whole coconut meat that has been dessicated or shredded. Coconut flour absorbs liquid like a sponge. Trust me – using coconut flour will not be a good substitution.

Urzay - Carrie I trust you indeed I do like I said not real good in the baking dept hahahaha. anyways since I’ve now bought this flour, any suggestions in how to use it in baking bread like products. I will also go to youtube and see if there are any recipes.
Thanks for your time and help
Cheers Urzay

carrie - Urzay I am working on some coconut flour recipes. Stay tuned!

Mikki - Thanks Carrie, I’ll play around with it and see how it tastes :)

Susan - I am going to make these for sure because a lot of the ingredients remind me of your hot cereal which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!

thank you for continuing to create great SANE recipes!

carrie - Susan – I think you will love them!! They have solved my Cinnamon Raisin Bread addiction! :-))

Juanita - Hi Carrie, I would like to know if it’s okay to use Stevia or Splenda instead of Xylitol. It makes my stomach hurt! Thanks!!

carrie - Juanita – in this recipe, yes. In most other baked goods recipes, no.

Deborah - Carrie, these look great. I’ll try them for sure.

Deborah - I made these today. To make them more SANE, I omitted the cinnamon and raisins and used a bar of ‘no sugar added’ chocolate (chopped into small pieces) and the zest of an orange. They are really good. My 20-year-old son ate 4 of them after dinner, so that’s a pretty great endorsement :)

Claire Lucas - I’ve just got to say, I loooove these!! First batch was gone in two days, making more today and I know they’ll go just as quick. I’m going to freeze test one too, so will let you know how that goes. Haven’t found almond meal yet, so just used a bit more ground almonds, which didn’t seem to do any harm. Thank you Carrie :)) yum, yum, yum!

carrie - So glad you love them, Claire! Let us know how the freezing goes. You’re a stronger woman than I!

Diane - I just made a batch. I baked them in heart shaped tins and watched closely for time differences but none. I also tweaked to my liking, no sweetener, no raisins, no cinnamon, no water, replaced with dried cranberries and an orange (vitamixed to oblivion) with the zest. I ate one muffin and had to post. Now off for another. Not only are they delicious, they taste normal.

carrie - Hurrah, Diane, hurrah!!!

Deborah - Diane, I LOVE the idea of the whole orange in the Vitamix. I’m going to try this for sure since my first batch is pretty much gone (eating the last of them today). Did you use unsweetened dried cranberries? The only ones I’ve used in baking are sweetened and I wondered if unsweetened would be a little too tart.

Diane - Yes, my cranberries were sweetened. I have not run across unsweetened dried fruit and I am trying to rid my diet of sugar. Let me clarify the orange was zested first, then I peeled it, throwing my peels in the compost pile. I sectioned my orange then blended it for a while. This recipe was a big success. Next time I try it with raisins. Carrie, I have been trying so many of your recipes with tasty results. And yes, I have tried leeks. A lot of leeks. Not in this recipe though.

carrie - Love it, Diane! Even without leeks ;-)

Deborah - Diane, thank you for letting me know that about the oranges. I was wondering whether or not to throw the whole thing into the Vitamix. I did think that perhaps that wasn’t the case because you said ‘with the zest’. YUM, I’m very excited to try it with the orange. Will do that in the next couple of days for sure!
Carrie, I’m in love with leeks too, so I love all the recipes you post which include them :)
Thanks so much for this and all the great recipes!

Ladyp1234 - These were delicious. I loved the hint of seeds and the slight crunch. Yum. Unfortunately my daughter tasted the seeds and refused to eat but I’ll try it without perhaps and also try with orange. I just left out the raisins.

carrie - Leeks ROCK! :-) Absolutely my pleasure on the recipes, Deborah!

carrie - Thanks, Lady P! Does your daughter know how insanely (ha ha) good those seeds are for her??!

carrie - Diane – the only dried fruit I buy that is sweetened is cranberries – everything else you can (and should) get with no added sugar. Thanks for the recipe love!

carrie - Great idea, Deborah! Do you mean 100% cocoa chocolate?

Deborah - Hi Carrie,
It was 70% cocoa chocolate, but the no-sugar-added kind which is sweetened with maltitol. I buy it at a local grocery store for $2 for a 100g bar which I think is a pretty decent price. I was also thinking of adding some raw cacao nibs next time.

carrie - Check this out on malitol: The whole sweetener thing is a minefield :-( I am working on a post on sweeteners which I hope will help everyone. I will also do a post on chocolate, because that too can be very confusing. Sigh. Nothign is ever straight forward is it?? Love your ideas, Deborah! THANK YOU for being part of the move towards SANEity.

Deborah - Hi Carrie,
Yes, I’ve read all the info. on all the sweeteners and had actually avoided pretty much all of them for many years. I always stay far away from asparatame and avoid sucralose much of the time although I recently started using it occasionally as it’s in one of the protein powders I have. When it comes to maltitol, I figure if I get a tiny bit in my chocolate in a muffin, that’s not a big deal. I don’t eat much of it and since I eat no grains (haven’t for almost a year) and rarely any kind of starch except for a treat once in a blue moon, I’m doing ok :)
Loving all your recipes. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

carrie - That’s awesome Deborah! As long as we are aware before we make choices, it’s all goodness. Huge congrats on your no-grain way of life and great job on your perspective. Love it!

Claire Lucas - Hi Carrie, well I ate the frozen one this morning (I defrosted it first of course) – it was absolutely fine :) So this weekend I will be making three batches and freezing one of them. Yay :)

Ladyp1234 - A post on sweeteners would be great. You’ve encouraged me to continue trying to get my daughter to eat these with seeds. However, at 13, listening to me is not top of her agenda!!!

carrie - Maybe chia seeds making her more gorgeous would make her see them in a different light?!

carrie - Hurrah for batch baking and freezers!!! Great job, Claire.

Kerry - I made these muffins yesterday and they are fantastic. I had two yesteday while they (were still warm) and I have had two for breakfast today (I know, I have been really restrained). I think they were even better the next day. Thank you so much for coming up with yet another cracking recipe. By-the-way, I didn’t have vanilla whey so I used chocolate, I didn’t have almond meal so I used some more ground almonds.

For the English people – I have found Xylitol in Sainsbury’s and it is called Totally Sweet.

MVP - I have now made 3 batches of this muffins and am still head over heels for them! My 1 year LOVES them and eats them as afternoon snacks. These are a great treat to have handy so you don’t sneak inSANE treats! <3

carrie - Love it, MVP!!

carrie - Now I want to eat some, Kerry! Thanks so much for all the love. HUGE THANKS for the Xylitol info!!

Julia - When measuring the dry ingredients in ounces is it best to weigh or just measure with the measuring cup? I’ve tried both and the amount of almond flour almost doubles when you weigh it. My entire family loves them!

carrie - Julia – weigh, weigh, weigh when making baked goods! You can’t do it by volume and expect to be successful. Read this post for context:

Paula - Hi Carrie. Just made these muffins and there were fantastic! Because of you, I bought a digital scale. My daughter has made several batches of your strawberry jam and it is delicious on paleo bread, mixed in yogurt, and just plain out of the jar!

So far, we have only used the powdered form of xylitol, but several of us are looking to share a bulk purchase, and were wondering whether we should get powdered or granular. I tried to do some research, and one website said the powdered can be substituted one for one for regular sugar, while the granular you only need half the amount. Is this the case? Which form do you use? Do you use both, for different applications? And can you make powdered yourself out of the granular by putting through food processor or coffee grinder?

Thanks for any help you can give us with this. And thank you, too, for all the hard work you do coming up with these recipes!

carrie - Hi Paula!

I LOVE that you bought a food scale!!!! I use the brand of xylitol called XYLA. It is granular. If I need it powdered I powder it myself in the Vitamix. PLease send me the links to the place where it says for granular xylitol you have to use half. That powdered cna be used 1:1 but not granular suggest they are using another filler and that could be really bad. If you would send me links to both places that would really help me solve this. In the meantime, I recommend XYLA granular xylitol – it’s what I use in all my recipes.

Paula - Carrie, here is the website where I got that information. It was just an article on how to use xylitol. It didn’t actually sell anything.

We did purchase the Xyla brand from The Natural Sweetener Store.

Do you think it will powder up in a food processor? We don’t have a Vitamix.

Thanks for your help! Can’t wait to try more of your yummy recipes!

carrie - I would ignore that article :-) For my recipes I use granular XYLA xylitol, so if you are baking my recipes then you need make no adjustments. If you are switching out XYLA granular Xyliotl for sugar in other recipes, switch out 1:1.

I am sure it will grind just as well in a coffee grinder or food processor as a Vitamix. It does take longer than regular sugar, it seems to be a lot harder than sugar, but it will powder eventually. Hope that helps!

Deborah - Paula, I’ve ground mine in my coffee/spice grinder and it powders beautifully. I did this when I made meringues and the texture was just right. Hope that helps :)

Paula - Thanks, Deborah! And thanks, Carrie!
I just ordered a 55 lb bag for several of us to share, and just in case anyone wants to order from the Natural Sweetener Store, there is a coupon code for 15% off. It’s 15OFF. That saved me $30!

carrie - Thanks Deborah! GO, Paula!!

Lisa - I wonder if you’ve done any experimenting with coconut flour in place or in addition to using nut flours? And if so, is there a rule of thumb for substitutions that you’ve come up with? I know coconut flour takes in a lot of liquid and you need to account for that, but not sure where to go after that, except for trial and error.

carrie - HI Lisa – I am trialing cocnut flour at the moment, so there will be some recipes coming soon. I can tell you that coconut flour is a pain in the a**!!!

Jyoti - Is there a Sane alternative to Coconut oil spray? I don’t like the taste or the smell of coconut oil.

carrie - Hi Jyoti – you cannot smell or taste the coconut oil after it is cooked. The alternative would be to use melted butter. Hope that helps!

Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] used it as a starting point for my Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, which is also a Top 15 most popular recipe, and I have another couple of recipes I am working […]

Kelly - Hi Carrie,

I was comparing your recipe to a “classic insane” recipe for muffins, and i was wondering what you thought of rice flour, or other types of flour much more similar to wheat flour, and a lot more accessible for me than all those different seeds. I’m having a really hard time finding all the right ingredients, converting all the measures and everything, and it’s making this sane lifestyle a bit harder.

No problems at all with all your amazing vegetables dishes! I love them! :)


carrie - Hi Kelly – I will get all the recipes on the blog updated with measuring conversions as soon as I can. As for the ingredients – rice and other flours made from grains similar to wheat flour as just as inSANE as regular flour, so you would not be doing yourself any favors except in the easier shopping department. Once you have stocked your cupboards with SANE ingredients it all becomes a lot more natural and easier. Amazon is a great resource for finding stuff without all the running around. Hope that helps!

Brenda - Hi Carrie – My husband despises raisins… would subbing in chopped apples work? or would they be too wet?

Equipment That Makes SANE Recipes Easier and Quicker

Many of you lovely readers who are making the move to a *SANE lifestyle are finding that you need to get busy in the kitchen a lot more than you used to, especially when it comes to baking.  If you want SANE baked goods you pretty much have to make them yourself from scratch.

For those of you who haven’t spent much time in the kitchen prior to embracing SANEity, you may be overwhelmed by all the gadgets available, and are not sure what you need to make your time in the kitchen most effective and get you the results you want.  Many of the items I list here are not essential by any means – they just make cooking and baking easier, quicker, and help you to get great results time after time.  Many of you have asked me what I use when I am in my kitchen, so here’s a rundown of the things I use most often.

Note: using these links to make your purchases *may* result in me receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you), which will help enormously in being able to maintain this site and create new recipes for you.  The costs of running this site and developing recipes come entirely out of my own pocket.  The purpose of this site has never been – and never will be – to make money, however, I would hugely appreciate your support by using these links, if you feel so inclined.


High Powered Blender

A Vitamix or Blendtec will be your very best friend once you start using it to make your smoothies and soups.  These machines smash everything that goes in them into liquid.  Forget juicers – with one of these beasties you put whole fruit and veggies in and get juice out, with all the fiber still in it – you just can’t feel it.  Given that a SANE lifestyle requires fiber, one of these will help you enormously to make sure you’re getting all the fiber you can.  Jonathan and I both have a Vitamix.  I’ve heard that Blendtec are just as good.

Second jug for Vitamix / Blendtec – I find having a second blending container incredibly handy.  Or maybe I just don’t like washing up when I am on a roll in the kitchen.


I have a KitchenAid blender in addition to my Vitamix, for those times when I don’t want to pulverize everything into oblivion.  Some recipes just need texture, or don’t require the extra power.  I use this Kitchen Aid blender when I don’t want or need to use the Vitamix.  Grinding nuts is a great example – try this in a Vitamix and you’ll have awesome nut butter, but you won’t have any ground nuts.

Food processor

Not essential, but it does make things easier and quicker.  I use mine mainly for mixing doughs, but it is also super handy for slicing and all manner of other uses.  I love this Cuisinart Food Processor because it comes with three bowls that sit inside one another so you can do three different things before you have to wash up.  Love that.  It also has a large capacity, which I find very useful when making large batches.

Hand mixer

I use a hand mixer for quick things like whipping egg whites and mixing batters when I don’t need the power of a food processor, or don’t want to get too much stuff dirty.  I use this Cuisinart Hand Mixer because it has 9 speeds and a timer, so it is useful for lots of different recipes.


When I moved to the US I was completely dumbfounded that no one had an electric kettle.  Brits use kettles multiple times a day, and I cannot imagine living without one.  Boiling water is a breeze.  I have this Cuisinart Kettle and I love it because it has pre-set temperatures and other features that make it even more useful than a regular kettle.  For any Brits reading this, I can hear you all shrieking, “What??  No kettles??!!!”


My steamer is in constant use for steaming veggies instead of boiling them in a pan of water, as it keeps the nutrient content much higher.  We love that.

Hand-held blender

I have a multi-purpose hand-held blender that doubles up as a grinder / chopper as well as a blending stick for blending directly in a pan or bowl.  I have the Cuisinart Smart Stick that comes with a whisk and chopper attachments.  Super useful.


If you read some of my baking posts you’ll know I insist on weighing things, rather than using cups.  Cups are not consistent.  The only way you can hope to have baking success time after time is to be accurate when measuring ingredients.  A scale is your best friend.  I use this Oxo Digital Scale because it can weigh an awful lot of stuff, plus it has a pull out screen so you can put really large bowls on it and still read the display.  I reverse weigh a lot and this scale makes it so simple.  It also weighs in both ounces and grams, so you can switch between the two and not have to do any conversions in your head – keeping everyone happy all the time.  Hurrah!


A mandoline is a slicer that makes very short work of cutting, slicing, dicing and otherwise making all manner of veggies into uniform sizes and shapes.  When you’re eating a ton of veggies it’s more important that those veggies look super-appetizing and you have a lot of variety to keep it interesting.  There are many mandolines available – choose one that fits your budget, although usually, the higher the cost, the better the machine is.

Julienne Peeler

This handy little gadget makes short work of turning vegetables into “spaghetti”.  Especially good on zucchini (courgettes), cucumber, and carrots.  I use it with zucchini instead of baking a spaghetti squash.  Super simple, super fast, and won’t break the bank.

Measuring spoons

I have 4 sets of these measuring spoons, because when I am making stuff up for you I use them constantly, and rinsing them every 5 seconds is just annoying.  These are double-ended, which effectively doubles the number of spoons you have.  They are also magnetic so they stick together tidily and don’t get lost, and they have flat bottoms so they will sit on the counter without tipping over.  Who knew someone could get so excited about measuring spoons?


Microplanes are the bomb.  I have several different shapes and sizes and use them for all sorts of things.  So much better than a grater – faster, cleaner, way sharper.  Grating is no longer a chore with these puppies.  Yay!


I am a perfectionist, so I use sieves a lot.  A lot.  Strawberry pips in the sauce?  Sieve.  Hazelnut skins?  Sieve.  Cocoa powder?  Sieve.  Nut dust in the nuts you just chopped?  Sieve.  Ice cream custards?  Sieve.  Green tea got a few stray leaves?  Sieve.  I sieve everything in the name of texture perfection.  You don’t have to go as far as me, but I do recommend having at least one really good fine mesh sieve.  Plus a set of regular general purpose sieves.

Huge mixing bowl

For making large quantities of recipes like Strawberry Seed Porridge I use this huge, awesome bowl.

Melamine pouring bowls

I use these melamine pouring batter bowls more than just about anything else in my kitchen.  The handle design makes them stackable – saving tons of space, and the melamine means they do not transfer flavors and colors like plastic, but they are way lighter than glass.  I use them for mixing up just about everything, and find the handles super useful.  If you hadn’t realized – I LOVE these bowls.


For all those scrumptious SANE cookies and scones, you’ll need cutters, because cutters make food fun.  And pretty.  Anything that makes your SANE food more appealing is a good thing.  Cutters will help.  Get metal ones in whatever shapes and sizes make you happy.  Plastic cutters will stop your scones from rising so well.  Metal is best.

Pyrex storage

I am not a fan of plastic for storage.  At all.  I use these glass Pyrex lidded dishes for storing everything – in the ‘fridge, in the freezer, in the cupboard, and to transport breakfast and lunch to the office.  If plastic is capable of absorbing colors and flavors, then that means the plastic is not impermeable.  The thought that the chemicals in plastic are therefore capable of transferring back into my food is highly unpleasant to me.  In the Brown house, it’s gotta be glass.


For me, using kitchen equipment is like an extension of my body, so I may have forgotten things that are new to you.  I’ll add to this as I think of things that I think you may find helpful.  If there is something missing, please shout!

Happy, happy cooking!



*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!

Bob - One of The things I love about cooking is the variety of ways you can go about it.
The only utensil I have that vaguely resembles anything on this list is a beat up kenwood mixer!
I also swear by all things made from clay, but that’s not really surprising, ( and I have the arms to lift them all up !)
Despite all of this, I KNOW we both have just as much fun.
And I hope my food is as delicious as Carrie’s (i confess I STILL leave the strawberry pips in !!!!!! :-)

ellen - Carrie, GREAT list! Thanks! I would like to mention a tool that I LOVE – my julienne peeler. I can make “spaghetti” out of yellow squash and zucchini which is quicker than spaghetti squash. I can send you a link if you’re interested.

carrie - Oh, oh, oh Ellen! I totally forgot to include that one, and I use it all the time! Silly me. I will add – THANK YOU for the reminder!

Traci - Which models of vitamix do you and Jonathan each own? I want to get one and there are so many choices!

carrie - Traci – I own a 5200 and I use it A LOT!!! Works like a dream. Hope that helps!

Sandy Shepard - totally agree re electric kettle. I use mine a billion times a day – and as you surmised, didn’t know they existed until I lived in Britain. Oh, foolish us ;-) I would add one more thing to your list, a “spiral slicer.” It’s a BLAST to use, a stupidly easy “gadget,” and makes making “zucchini spaghetti” etc. a breeze. Also, I recently got an avocado “peeler” (??) at Goodwill for 5 cents and I am using it like a crazy person – it goes down an avo half with small “wires” that slice out perfect avo pieces? (Do you know what I’m talking about?) Finally, again, another “unitasker” but OMG life saver is a mango slicer. With one of these you’ll never look at mangos again and say “delish, but if they weren’t so dang hard to ~pit~”…Happy Holidaze!

LeeAnn O'Connell - I have to share my good news with you all here because I know that you will understand why I did my happy dance last night. I received as a gift yesterday my very own Vitamix Creations Turbo machine. It is so new that I have not used it yet. It is sitting on the counter in my kitchen. I could not afford one. I have been making my smoothies with an old blender (which was working fine but had it’s limits). I am so excited! My sweet mother bought it for me as a “thank you” gift for handling some personal matters for her. I never even asked for one. Just kept telling her about the smoothies I was making. I can not wait to dive into Carrie’s soup recipes this weekend!! I promised mom some soups. The perfect time of year to get started. Yeah!!!

carrie - LeeAnn – this is indeed awesome news! Congrats! What goes around come around. Have a blast with your new toy :-)

Tomato Salad Soup

Soup.  It’s part of “Getting Your Veggies In 101″.  Like smoothies, you can cram a ridiculous amount of vegetables into soups, and I thoroughly recommend it as a strategy for eating those 10 servings a day that our beloved Mr. Bailor reminds us about at any given opportunity.  Especially in the winter months.  I find salads easy-peasy to eat in the spring and summer, but as soon as the leaves turn – yeah, not so much.  Another brilliant thing about soups is their portability; oh and let’s not forget how easy it is to make an enormous batch all at once and eat it over several days, or freeze it in ready to serve portions.  Soups rock.

I don’t know about you, but I am already thinking about summer.  And salads.  Even though it’s mid-winter where I am.  This soup got started when I had all the typical ingredients for salad lurking in the ‘fridge, but the temperature here had just turned to not-salad-eating degrees.  I wondered what I could do with all the lettuce and cucumbers and tomatoes if I wasn’t going to eat them raw as salad.  So I decided I would see what happened if I threw all of them together into soup.  The same soup.  And, in an instant, Tomato Salad Soup was born.

Tomato Salad Soup

In the first iteration I even squirted in some mayonnaise.  I do not recommend this.  AT ALL.   Please do not do this at home.  It was not good.  AT ALL.  The second iteration, on the other hand, was a huge hit.

So next time you have a craving for salad in mid-winter but really want something warm – soup it up.  No one will ever guess just how much green summery stuff is hidden in there.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Tomato Salad Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb 11oz. / 760g English cucumbers, roughly chopped
  • 1½ lb / 670g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. chicken or clear vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 oz / 170g unsweetened tomato paste
  • 1 small avocado
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • 3 TBSP white wine
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP 2% Greek yogurt (Do not use non-fat!)
  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce
  1. Put the cucumber, tomatoes, stock and salt into a large pan or stock pot and cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Working in batches, place the vegetables in a blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Add the tomato paste, avocado flesh, basil, white wine, lemon juice and Greek yoghurt, and blend to mix.
  4. Separate the leaves of the lettuce and blend into the soup on high speed until completely smooth.
  5. Re-heat gently if necessary.

Tomato Salad Soup



*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!

mazie - Thank’s for this recipe I will be trying it out..I just love your soups thankyou

carrie - THANK YOU, Mazie!! I am definitely a soup girl :-)

Veronica - Carrie: How long is the freezer life of soups like this?

carrie - Veronica – I would use within one month, although mine never make it that long!

Stephanie - Sounds fantastic! Can’t wait to try it!

Sierra - Yum yum yum. This soup is sooo good and easy to make. Plus it used up the tomatoes I’ve had in the freezer from last years garden. This one is going into the family recipe binder. Thanks again Carrie!

carrie - Hurrah for salad soup, Sierra! Who knew lettuce could taste so good?! :-)

Sierra - Wow Carrie, I can’t believe you respond to all these comments…on every recipe! You ROCK. I don’t know how you find the time. P.S. I love your (and Bailors) podcast :)

carrie - I do my best, but don’t always manage to get to everything or everyone. Thanks for the podcast love!

Barbara in Tx - Hi Carrie!

I LOVE your soups! I’m working through every soup recipe in your book! I’ve never ever done that with another cookbook. Wait……yes I have, your ice cream cookbook! 8-) Okay so I’d like to ask a question….do you peel your cucumbers and zuchinni? You see….some of my soups aren’t coming out the beautiful colors that your pictures show and I think it may be my added vegetable peel?

Thanks! What’s the next cookbook going to be? I just can’t wait!

Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread

Here.  Have a gratuitous recipe post.  Because you deserve a cookie (or two).  Because Valentine’s Day is coming.  Because I love you.

Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread


5.0 from 2 reviews
Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
  • 8 oz / 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz / 110g xylitol
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 15 oz / 420g almond flour / ground almonds
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 oz / 110g dried unsweetened cranberries, finely chopped
  1. Mix butter, xylitol, vanilla and salt together with a hand mixer until well creamed.
  2. Mix in almond flour, xanthan gum and chopped cranberries until a dough is formed.
  3. Turn dough onto surface, using dusting of almond flour to prevent sticking if necessary.
  4. Roll dough to ½ inch thick, and use a cutter to cut out shapes.
  5. Place on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 300F for around 20 minutes, just until they start to turn very pale brown.
  7. Remove from oven and leave on baking sheets until cool. Do not try to move them!
  8. Step away from the shortbread!
  9. Once cool, using a spatula, carefully transfer to a wire rack to get completely cold.
  10. I highly recommend leaving them overnight if you can possibly stand it. They firm up and have a better texture.
  11. Store in airtight container.
This shortbread dough can be made in advance, stored in the 'fridge and baked as required. Allow the dough to come to room temperature before rolling, cutting and baking.

Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread
Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread



*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!

Claire Lucas - Thanks Carrie, can’t wait to make these :-)

allisol - Houston, we had a problem. Something went wrong with my batch. They will probably taste OK, but I just took them out of the oven and they look NOTHING like yours, and they didn’t act like you said they would either.

For one, I had to measure the butter using my digital scale (FUN!). Not sure if that was accurate but I was 1.5 oz too short so I had to add the rest from salted butter. Hope that didn’t mess things up. Then the almond flour was in a package of 16 oz, so I took out one ounce and put in the rest of the package. That shouldn’t be a problem, theoretically.

Disclosure: I put in crushed cocoa nubs instead of cranberries. Don’t like cranberries. Have difficulty following recipes to a T. Love to modify. :)

So, the “roll out the dough” part was laughable. It was more like a blob. There was no dough at all. I looked at the recipe to see what liquid I might have added in excess but really there was nothing so I’m thinking it was the butter. I had to put BLOBS of dough on the cookie sheet with a spoon. I tried to spread them out to be 1/2″ thick. In the end it didn’t matter, they flattened like a pancake.

They smell amazing, but I will follow instructions and wait until tomorrow to eat them. I’m a little worried about the xylitol. My sensitive digestive system does not like a lot of -ol sugars. When I was measuring it out it seemed like a lot. I might have to make them less SANE and do half xylitol and half sugar. What would the measurements be for that? We’ll see. Perhaps moderation is key. I’ll find out tomorrow. So will the rest of my household.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about my dough that was blobby. Thanks!

PS: My kids are begging me to eat them so something must be right!

carrie - Hmmm. Given that there is no liquid in them except vanilla extract, and I doubt you put a significant amount of that in more than the recipe stated, the only thing that makes sense (assuming that you weighed everything correctly) is that you live in AZ and it was warm. Very warm. And the butter about melted. In which case you would need to pop the “dough” in the ‘fridge to firm up before kneading it and rolling it out. Or, once you have done the creaming part, put it in the ‘fridge for a bit to firm up before you add the almond flour.

Also, I would not worry about the xylitol. It is not the same as other sugar alcohols you may have run into like sorbitol or mannitol. Plus, unless you eat the entire batch in one sitting, the amount in each cookie is small. I would not advise swapping out any for sugar – you will defeat half the purpose of making them SANE. When I first ate xylitol I had a “tiny” reaction for the first few days and then it totally went away. Now I can eat an entire batch of shortbread or whatever crammed with xylitol with no effect whatsoever.

Hope that helps!

Allisol - Oh yes. I think that was it. The butter was very very soft. I’ll put the next batch in the fridge. There will be another batch soon. I know you said to wait but I’ve had three so far and hubby and daughter both had one. We all looove them. Daughter is begging for more. She has 11 year old taste buds so she is used to full on toll house cookies. For her to like these is huge!! I see lots of experimenting in my future! And no xylitol problems, just like you said. Hugs to you for a great treat.

carrie - YAY!!! And PHEW!!!

Scott - Hi Carrie – Do you have any advice on where to find dried un-sweetened cranberries? Thanks!

Sue - Please help me with the sweetener.
I have the small packets of xylitol and the big bag of stevia in the raw.
4 oz of either doesn’t seem right. (Almost half of the big bag)
I’ve made both your biscuits and they were fabulous, but I think I sould finally learn the correct way to measure the sweetener.
Thank you for your help.

carrie - Sue – I just emailed you in order to help you with this.

Sierra - Has ANYONE been able to wait until the next day to eat these? Delish! And my toddler and hubby don’t even know they are SANE!!! Hooray 4 Carrie!!!!

carrie - Ha ha, Sierra! No one who taste-tested these had any idea they had no flour or grains. In fact I had people ARGUE with me as they ate them because they couldn’t believe it!!

carrie - Scott – huge apologies – that was an over-zealous typo on the cranberries. Cranberries I have not found unsweetened. All other dried fruit, yes. I’ve corrected it!!

Ladyp1234 - Delicious. Swapped cranberries for 85% cocoa chocolate, and now my 11 yr old takes them to school for snack instead of crisps. And I eat them with coffee in evening when I need some comfort food!

carrie - Ah, yes…coffee and shortbread. Fantastic! Especially when it’s SANE :-)

Lemon Shortbread Cookies » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] as a tart crust for Lemon Mascarpone Tarts. Even though the base recipe I stole from the Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread that I gave you for Valentine’s Day, these taste like completely different cookies.  They […]

Jenny Farrell - Hi! I’ve introduced myself to this new healthier eating lifestyle this week. I am from Manchester UK and had stumbled upon a Podcast by accident. To cut a long story short, I have a sweet tooth, and being in a transition stage (only on day 3 so far) wanted something sweet to eat. I have made this recipe today and am really impressed with the taste and consistency. I will definitely be making more. I am still struggling to move my head out of the ‘how many calories?’ cloud and worry that these might make me fat! I have only eaten one though and I’m sure time will tell. Fingers crossed :)

carrie - GO, Jenny!! :-)

8 Tricks That Make Being SANE At Home Easy

It’s true!  Staying *SANE is the easiest thing I’ve ever tried when it comes to controlling what I eat – but even so – sometimes it’s still hard.  When I am caught unawares, when I race out the door without eating breakfast, or when my schedule unexpectedly blows up; when I’m in a hurry, when exhaustion strikes, or when the emotional blahs roll in, it can be harder to stay on track.  I’ve found that a little bit of planning can make all the difference in the world when your body is screaming for burgers and cupcakes.  Or a sandwich.  Or a huge bowl of spaghetti carbonara.  Or whatever your crush of the moment happens to be.  Mine is usually a loaf of Sunmaid Raisin Bread – goodness only knows why.  14 minutes after eating it my stomach feels like a lead balloon, and by the time 23 minutes has ticked by I am lying on the blue leather couch like a beached whale while I slide into a carbohydrate coma that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.  Awful.  Just awful.  I am getting *much* better at remembering the last “awful” before I cram that first slice in my mouth.

It’s also true I have discovered – during my last two run-ins with a loaf of raisin bread – that an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.  And here’s a third truth: prevention is only going to happen with a little bit of planning.

Here’s what I do to make sure that even when my plans come unravelled, I’m always prepared on the food front – and way less likely to add eating inSANEity to my list of things that went sideways.  See if adopting some of these strategies helps you in your quest to stay SANE whatever else is going on.


1. Clear out your cupboards, pantry, ‘fridge and freezer of *inSANE foods.  When it comes to meal times at home, it’s much easier to eat *SANE food if that’s all you have in the house.  If clearing it all out at once is too daunting, clear out one cupboard, or one pantry shelf a week.  Take it to the Food Bank if you cannot bear to toss it out.  Eating food that makes you unhealthy “just because you paid for it” does not serve you well.  If you have a few favorite inSANE things that you cannot bear to part with (yet), keep them until last.  Don’t panic – this does not have to be all or nothing…BUT…just know it will be much easier for you to stay SANE if you make a clean break.  If you want to take a slower route to SANEity, take baby steps.  Each step, however small, is a step in the right direction.

2. Fill your cupboards, pantry, ‘fridge and freezer with SANE foods.  I will shortly be posting a list of what’s in my pantry that I hope will help you focus when you are next at the grocery store.  Keeping these items on hand will make it super simple for you to whip up something SANE at meal times, or when the munchies strike.

3. Talking about the grocery store…when you’re doing the grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store – that’s where almost all the SANE stuff is.  Avoid going down any of the aisles in the middle.  Depending on the store, the only things I dash into the middle for are herbal tea, nuts, herbs and spices, baking aids such as guar and xanthan gums, baking powder and baking soda, and frozen fruit.

4. Make batches of snack foods to have on hand for when the munchies unexpectedly strike.  Here’s 10 great recipes that you can make in advance (and in quantity) to have ready to chow on at a moments notice.  Most of them feel very naughty.  All of them taste fantastic, totally fill you up and help you towards your health and fat-loss goals.  Yep.

5. Make some meals in advance and freeze them – for those days you unexpectedly get home late, or get home so tired you just don’t have the energy to get busy in the kitchen.  Instead of going through the drive-thru on your way home, sling a pre-made dish of *SANEity in the oven or microwave when you get home.  Soups are particularly brilliant for this.

6. Keep some “instant” protein in the ‘fridge or pantry.  My favorites are cooked chicken and turkey slices, smoked salmon or other smoked fish, cooked prawns, canned tuna and salmon, non-fat cottage cheese, non-fat Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs.  If you get home *really* late and don’t even have the time or energy to scramble an egg, these fill you up faster than anything else, and mean you don’t go to bed hungry, which can be disastrous.

7. Keep these QuestBars bars handy.  They are the SANEst protein bars available, and – BONUS! – they taste awesome.  Keep a stash in your desk drawer at the office, some at home, a handful in the car, and a couple in your purse / handbag / back-pack / briefcase.  Take them with you when you travel – they are a lifesaver at airports and on planes.  Most protein bars are not SANE, so be careful.  The only other one we recommend is the Pure Protein brand.

8. When you feel hungry – and you suspect it might be emotional hunger rather than physical hunger – drink a glass of water, or drink a cup of green or herbal tea first.  If you are still hungry after that, grab a SANE snack from #4 above or a protein bar from #7 above.


And then, if you still find yourself in a situation where inSANEity is inevitable, don’t panic!  Just do your best in the moment and get back to SANEity as soon as you can.  Beating yourself up won’t make anything better.  You’re awesome, and you can do this!

One Step Can Make All The Difference


*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 - I was only just thinking how some more sharing of emergency snack ideas would be good, and in pops this. Fantastic! Thanks.

Liz - clearing out my larder and cupboards truly works!
the local soup kitchen LOVED all the Christmas chocs, biscuits and ‘processed’ tins.
The most used ingredient in my house now is avocados!

carrie - LOVE this, Liz!!! Great job :-)

carrie - Hurrah LadyP!

Carole - Oops. Never mind. I only clicked on the second link for Pure Protein Bars, now that I re-read it, I see that the first link is for QuestBars. Sorry.

carrie - No problem at all Carole!

DiWOS - Boiled eggs are great to have around, too. I also have sliced prosciutto — my mouth is watering right now thinking of wrapping that prosciutto around an egg for my snack… But first I am going to make a pear cashew smoothie. :-)

MVP - I have bought the Quest Cinnamon Roll, Coconut Cashew and Lemon bars and they taste soooo good! They are awesome when you’re on the go and need an extra boost. The whole family loves them!!

carrie - Oh I totally forgot the boiled eggs! I don’t know how, I eat masses of them :-) Enjoy that smoothie!!

reba - Do you eat all the time. I find myself hungery a lot durring the day. I can have a big salad and still be hungery. It strikes at about 9pm and will not go away. It seems like I eat everything in the book I can muster up that is sane but it just seems to not work..Any suggestions???

carrie - Reba – up your protein. I find protein totally stops my hunger, whereas veggies, not so much. Eat protein right before bed to stop the hunger and get you a good nights sleep. I regularly eat some protein right before i go to bed. Hope that helps!

Kari - When you post your list of what is in your cupboards and fridge pics would be good also because I am very visual! I would love if you taught a cooking class I could pay to come too! Maybe afterwards we could all exercise lol.

carrie - Great idea, Kari! Laughing about a cooking class followed by exercise!!