What are those strange ingredients and where do I get them?


This is going to be a strange post.  There will be no recipe.  There will be no food pictures.  There won’t even be much information.  However, given the vast number of emails, posts and comments I get asking me for the answers that I am going to give here, I have a suspicion that a lot of you will find it totally useful.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

There’s a few ingredients in my recipes that you may not be familiar with.  They make going *SANE easier, and in the case of baked goods especially, they making going *SANE possible.  So we love them.  There aren’t many, and I try very hard to minimize the number of new things you need to stock your pantry with to enjoy a SANE lifestyle; but there’s a few things we need to bridge the gap.  So here’s the brands I use and where to get them.  These apply mainly to the US, so apologies to our overseas SSoS’ers – I hope this post will at least give you a start.  I am also hoping that our friends from around the globe will let me know where they get their supplies so that I can add that information here.

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. 


Almond Flour / Ground Almonds / Blanched Almond Meal (white)

Almond Flour is almonds that are ground after the skins have been removed, and they are creamy-white in color.  Almonds with the skins removed are also called Blanched Almonds.  I use almond flour (ground almonds, blanched almond flour) a lot in baked goods.  Almond flour is not regularly available in most grocery stores in the US, although it is sold in all supermarkets as ground almonds and / or blanched almond meal in the UK and Australia.  Because it is not easy to find in regular stores in the US, and because I get through huge quantities as I develop and test new recipes for you, I buy it online and in bulk because it’s a lot cheaper per pound that way.  I store it in the freezer.  The brand I use is Honeyville, because it is the best there is in the US.  I buy the 25lb box, but it is also available in smaller quantities.  You can also purchase almond flour in several stores that have the bulk-buy bins – PCC, Whole Foods, etc.  Some grocery stores who sell Bob’s Red Mill products stock Bob’s Red Mill almond flour/meal.

Almond Meal / Natural (or Raw) Almond Flour (speckled brown and white)

Almond Meal is almonds that are ground with the skins still on, and they are speckled white and brown in color.  You cannot swap these in recipes that call for almond flour as the skins have a material effect on the result, so make sure you use the kind that a recipe states.  Almond meal is readily available online.  In the US you can buy it at Trader Joe’s and many regular grocery stores, especially those with bulk bins.  You may also find it called Natural or Raw Almond Flour.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is a great oil for cooking because it is extremely stable when heated and can withstand very high temperatures.  It is full of omega-3 fatty acids and has a very light flavor, so whatever you use it with not be altered by the taste of the oil.  It is readily available online.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are readily available online, and increasingly available in regular grocery stores.  Trader Joe’s, PCC, Whole Foods, and most stores that have bulk bins have them.  I bought an insane (ha, ha!) amount a few years back – before I met Jonathan – and am still chomping my way through those.  I will update this with where I buy then now when I re-stock.  In the meantime, black or white, chia seeds are all-awesome.  Don’t worry about the tiny nutritional differences between the two.

Cocoa Powder / Cacao

Cocoa Powder is roasted cocoa beans, with much of the cocoa butter removed, ground into a powder – not to be confused with hot chocolate mix or sweetened cocoa powder.  Because I am a chocolate snob and a pastry chef I use Valrhona cocoa powder – it is the best in the world – and I buy it online in bulk because it is a lot cheaper that way.  Other brands of cocoa powder are readily available online.  You can also find cocoa powder in most regular grocery stores.  Just be careful to check the label and only buy unsweetened.

Cocoa Nibs

Cocoa nibs are smashed up roasted cocoa beans.  If you just finished reading about cocoa powder above, it will not surprise you in the least to know that I use Valrhona cocoa nibs and I buy them online and in bulk because it’s cheaper that way.  Other brands of cocoa nibs are readily available online.  In the US you can find cocoa nibs at Trader Joe’s, PCC, and Whole Foods, and increasingly in the “natural” or “health food” sections of regular grocery stores.  Make sure they contain nothing but cocoa beans.

Coconut Milk – THICK / Coconut Cream / Cream of Coconut

Thick Coconut Milk aka Coconut Cream or Cream of Coconut is coconut meat made into a thick, creamy paste.  It gets tricky because coconut milk and coconut cream seem to have a huge variety of meanings to different people.  When I include “thick coconut milk” in a recipe I am referring to the coconut milk that comes in a can and is extremely thick, and it is unsweetened.  If you open the can without shaking it, you have an almost solid white mass with some clear “water” on the top.  You can find other brands in regular grocery stores, and also in specialty stores such as Asian and Indian.  I use Thai Kitchen brand.

Coconut Milk – THIN

When I use “thin coconut milk” in a recipe I am referring to the coconut milk that comes in a carton and is exactly like cows milk in color and thickness.  Coconut Milk is the #1 cows milk alternative.  I use Trader Joe’s brand, but most supermarkets have other brands.  Always make sure it is unsweetened.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the #1 oil for cooking.  It is very stable when heated and does not taste of coconut, although you will doubt that until you’ve tried it because it smells heavily of coconut.  Coconut oil is packed with MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which are highly beneficial to our bodies.  It is readily available online.  I use Trader Joe’s brand – it is cheaper in-store if you have one close to you.  You can also buy coconut oil in Costco, and most grocery stores.  Check the cooking oil section, or the natural food section.

Coconut Oil Spray

Coconut Oil Spray is used to grease baking trays and dishes for baking.  It is readily available online.  I use Spectrum brand.  You can also buy this is regular grocery stores and you will find it along with the other baking oil sprays.

Egg Whites – powdered

Absolutely the easiest and cheapest way to get egg whites is to use them in powdered form.  I use Honeyville brand, and they are readily available online.  Reconstituted they work exactly like regular egg whites  – they even make great meringue – except you don’t have to crack them and separate them, and you don’t get left with a whole pile of egg yolks with nothing to do with them!

Glucomannan Powder

Glucomannan Powder or Konjac Flour is a fiber made from Konjac Root and it is my go-to thickener instead of corn starch (cornflour) or wheat flour in sauces and gravies.  It is readily available online.  I use Now Foods brand which you can also get at stores in the US like Super Supplements.  You use much less glucomannan than you would use corn starch or flour, so a little goes a very long way.

Guar Gum

Guar Gum is an emulsifier and thickener.  It is readily available online.  I use Bob’s Red Mill brand.  In the US you can find it in most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill products – PCC, Whole Foods, Safeway, IGA, etc.  It is not cheap, but you use tiny amounts in recipes so it will last you a long, long time.  Store in an air-tight jar.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is cows milk alternative made from hemp seed.  It has a slightly thicker texture and a few caramel-y undertones.  I use this in dessert and other sweet recipes rather than savory dishes.  I use this mainly for various flavors of ice cream.  It is readily available online.  In the US it is increasingly available in grocery stores.  In Seattle I buy it at PCC.

Konjac Flour

See Glucomannan Powder (above).

Sugar-free Syrups

By sugar-free syrups I am referring to the clear syrups sold primarily to flavor coffee and other beverages.  These are readily available online.  I use Torani brand.  In the US you can buy them at Starbucks and many grocery stores such as Safeway, Fred Meyers, IGA,etc.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey Protein is one of the best sources of protein, and it is extremely useful in increasing our protein intake.  Beware – protein powders are a minefield.  Most of them are not SANE and not particularly healthy.  Luckily, Jonathan has done all the leg work for us here.  We use Optimum Nutrition brand 100% Whey Gold Standard.  It comes in a variety of flavors and sizes.  I only use vanilla in my recipes so you don’t feel like you need to buy every flavor they make!  You can purchase this at Super Supplement stores, but it is usually cheaper online.  I buy it in 10lb bags to further reduce the per pound cost.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan Gum is a thickener and stabilizer.  It is readily available online.  I use Bob’s Red Mill brand.  In the US you can find it in most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill products – PCC, Whole Foods, Safeway, IGA, etc.  It is not cheap, but you use tiny amounts in recipes so it will last you a long, long time.  Store in an air-tight jar.


Xylitol is a natural sweetener to replace sugar.  It is readily available online.  I use Xyla brand.  I buy it in bulk because I get through so much of it in recipe development that it is a lot cheaper per pound that way.  Make sure that you get xylitol that is made from birch bark and not corn.  In stores I have seen Xyla in PCC.  NOTE: Like chocolate, xylitol is harmful to dogs, so please be sure to keep any xylitol-containing goodies away from them!


Friends overseas – please weigh in with info on where to find these things in your country if you are able – it would be hugely helpful to your fellow countrymen who may be struggling.

And…since I’ve been SANE for a while now, everything in my kitchen feels normal.  What did I forget? 


*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!

gabi - Hey Carrie! I was just thinking about emailing you to ask about all this info you just shared :) Visionary !!!!! :) Would you mind adding COCOA to the list? Thanks a lot! and have a SANE week :)

carrie - Will do, Gabi!

Leslie - Carrie – love your posts and recipes, thanks so much for developing and sharing! Please remind your readers that xylitol is EXTREMELY poisonous to dogs. Even a very small amount can quickly cause liver damage and other issues. Not a good thing if you have a counter-surfer like me. Not that I want to share my SANE goodies!

Jennifer H - Awesome list, Carrie. So helpful. Thank you!

carrie - Just sorry it took so long, Jennifer!

carrie - Counter-surfer – love that! I will add a note. THANK YOU!

Janknitz - The term “coconut cream” can be so confusing! Let’s Do Organic (brand name) sells boxes of “coconut cream” which are solid blocks at room temperature. Other companies sell the same stuff (for a lot more money) in jars as “coconut butter”. But you can mix some of the coconut cream/coconut butter with warm water, and get a creamy consistency that the company recommends using in recipes like curry.

I make your hot chocolate with LDO’s coconut cream now. When I soften the block, I pour the coconut cream/butter into ice cube molds for easier use. The cubes (mine are fish-shaped!) stay solid at room temperature (at least this winter they are!) and I can just grab a fish and drop it in with my cocoa and sweetener for almost instant SANE hot chocolate.

I consider the canned stuff you call coconut cream as coconut milk–but the solid part of that can full is the coconut cream you refer to. The coconut milk sold in paper cartons and steri-packs usually has a lot of additives, so it’s to be used with caution.

carrie - Janknitz – yes! So confusing! Trader Joe’s cartonned milk is good, and cheap, so it is what I use. All other brands you need to read the labels first to be sure of what you’re getting. Wish coconut products weren’t so complicated by the manufacturers!

Lorriew - What a brilliant idea to post this, your a mind reader :-)
Thank you Carrie Brown

Meghann - Thank you Carrie.
One you didn’t mention was psyllium husks (sp?). If your goal is to make broccoli soup the same gloppy consistency of mayonnaise, then this soluble fibre is your ticket home. Ooops.

Nancy - Hey Carrie,

Totally down with the Valrhona chocolate!!!!! If one is going to indulge in your fabulous cookies they need to use great chocolate.

A Trader Joe’s is coming to my town soon and I’m so looking forward to it.

Because some of these ingredients are pricey I am happy Costco has extra virgin coconut oil in a 2 qt container, unsweetened coconut milk and flaxmeal. Love the idea of getting the bulk almond flour but do you think it needs to be frozen/refrigerated if one isn’t baking on the scale you do?

I can’t find the bulk size of Xyla on the website.

Do you know if there is much difference between the vanilla ice cream and french vanilla creme ON Whey powders? I wish they just had one called vanilla.

Finally, I would love to know more about using chia seeds. As if you didn’t have enough to do!

P.S. Yummy lunch featuring your lasagna, might have to have it for dinner too.

Tara - Thanks for this list Carrie! Very helpful!

I can’t remember where I read it, but I thought Jonathan was fairly adamant that we get non-dutch-processed cocoa (looks like Valrhona is dutched). Has he softened on this issue, or are the flavors of Valrhona just worth it?

NANCY… You can get Xyla in bulk here: http://www.naturalsweetenerstore.com/ (Carrie recommended this site in a blog post a while ago)

carrie - Tara – Jonathan has not softened – there’s a few things we differ slightly on and cocoa powder is one of them. I will write you a full answer on our differing views as soon as I can. I use Valrhona for flavor, consistency and usability :-)

carrie - Hi Nancy – you will LOVE Trader Joe’s! So much great, cheap goodness coming your way. I freeze my almond flour / almond mean even though I use it so much. Frozen is best for nuts. I would say there is an undiscernable difference between the two ON vanilla whey powders. I have no idea why they do two! I will add chia to the post – thanks for the reminder :-) I admit, I love my lasagna too.

carrie - Hi Meghann (I have not forgotten your email!) – I have not used psyllium husks in any recipes, so have not included here. If that changes, I will add for sure.

carrie - You’re funny, Lorrie Walter :-)

Ellen - Thank you Carrie – I especially like the info on syrups – after my chocolate syrup debacle! I feel a shopping spree coming on! You’re awesome. :)

carrie - Ellen – your syrup mishap inspired me to get this up ASAP. Hope it helps!

Claire Lucas - Hi Carrie,

Well I’m in the UK, and have to get my products from a variety of sources!! I use Holland and Barrett for xylitol (called Total Sweet), chai seeds and cocoa nibs. Cocoa I get from the supermarket, but as you say, you have to check the labels. The only one I have found so far has been Green and Blacks, which you can’t always buy. I also buy xanthum gum at the supermarket in the ‘free from’ aisle. Coconut cream is readily available in the supermarket, as is coconut cream and coconut oil.

As for sugar free syrups and guar gum – please help me UK readers/listeners as I can’t find where to get these from!!

Whey protein – I’ve used Maximuscle up to now, but with the advice above I can get the Optimum Nutrition on subscription from Amazon so will be doing that as soon as my stocks run out – which won’t be long as I eat green smoothies at least once per day!!

Thanks again Carrie, you’re amazing!!!

carrie - Claire – HUGE thanks for the info on the UK!! There is a brand of sugar-free syrups on Amazon UK called Sweetbird – check those out! Guar gum is also available on Amazon UK, just do a search for it and several brands pop up. Looks like you’re an Amazon shopper, so that would be the easiest route until someone helps us with a retail location. Hope that helps!

sarah - For those in Australia, I will add my 2 cents! I buy a lot of these things from iHerb.com. They ship to Australia for $4 to $6, provided the package is less than 4 lbs. And even with that shipping, things are about 1/2 the price that they are in Australia (which is the most expensive place I’ve ever lived!).

As for cacao nibs, you can buy those from lots of health food stores and from iHerb, or you can get them from an online retailer like 2brothersfoods.com (they call them cocoa nibs). 2brothers has thinks like almond meal, coconut flour, chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, etc. as well.

For whey, I highly recommend Professional Whey (professionalwhey.com.au), as there are now customs restrictions on bringing whey in the country. Professional whey is an Australian company that sells Australian, New Zealand, and US Whey. All are unsweetened and unflavoured 100% whey. You can buy flavouring packets which are completely pure. I love the vanilla powder which is just pure vanilla bean powder. I use it in baking as well. They also sell stevia there, though I haven’t tried that brand and stevia can vary widely by source. Oh, and they have chia seeds!

For Xylitol, there’s Naturally Sweet brand. You can find out where it’s sold near you here: http://www.naturallysweet.com.au/.

Xanthan and guar gums are a bit tricky. I usually have to buy them at the local health food shop, but I have found them in the health food aisle of Coles and Woolies every now and again. You can also buy chia seeds at Coles and Woolies, but the price is a complete rip off and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Nancy - Forgot to mention, my local World Market/Cost Plus has a big selection of the sugar-free Torani syrups. I paid as much for a big bottle there as a small one cost elsewhere.

carrie - Love that, Nancy!

carrie - Sarah – HUGE thanks for this info! Fantastic about iHerb – plus you can get guar and xanthan gums there too if anyone is having issues finding it in a retail store. You are right on Stevia – so many different brands and they are NOT all the same – manufacturers can be very tricky :-( Huge appreciation for you taking the time to share this info – THANK YOU!

Ladyp1234 - This is fantastic, will save hours of searching the Internet.
i had been going to ask you which flavoured whey you use because I can really taste the sweetener in the 100% gold standard optimum nutrition, particularly in your yogurt recipe and in Jonathan’s fudge brownie. :-((((! I thought I’d read somewhere that you didn’t like the taste of sweeteners other than xylitol so I’m surprised that’s the one you use.
Btw my order of xylitol arrived today so I can make more almond cookies, hooray!!
Is garbanzo flour the same as chickpea flour?
Thank you.

Ann - Hi Carrie,
I just wanted to tell you that I made your nutty cereal this morning, and it was delicious! I miss oatmeal, but your creation helped to fill that void for me. Also, I just made your sour cream and chive biscuits this afternoon and I am in love… Everything I have made from your website thus far is so tasty (“rice pudding”, ridiculously amazing chocolate cookies, chocolate pudding). I really, really appreciate all of your hard work. Sometimes I fall off the bandwagon and eat some ice cream, but your recipes help me to be more sane by giving me healthy options on the old insane favorites. 1000 thank you’s!

carrie - Ladyp – I use this brand because Jonathan said so ;-) Yes garbanzo is also known as chick pea. HURRAH for Almond Cookies!!!

carrie - Ann – I love that you love the Nutty Cereal! It totally fills the porridge void for me too :-) And I do love those biscuits too!!! THANK YOU for your kind words. DOn’t worry too much about the ice cream. Enjoy a dish and then go back to the SANE stuff – you’ll be fine!! I am working on SANE ice cream by the way.

Sharlene - This is exactly the info I needed! Thank you so much!!!

carrie - Thanks, Sharlene!!

Chad - Hi Carrie — I noticed that that particular brand of whey protein is sweetened with Acesulfame Potassium (ace-K): not a good artificial sweetener. My preferred brand is Jay Robb: it’s sweetened with stevia and uses non-soy lecithin.

Thanks for the list! We use everything except the gums — off to shop for those now….

Nancy - Was at Costco yesterday and discovered they are demo-ing (not sure how to spell that) chia seeds. I recently learned that all those product samples one sees at Costco are run by an independent company. Regional Costco’s evaluate sales of these demos to decide what to carry.

Anyway, I bought a bag. Looks like it’s a mixture of white and black seeds and I think it will last a long time :)

carrie - Go, Nancy! My chia seed porridge remains one of my favorite things to eat!

carrie - Hi Chad – thanks for swinging by! I trust that JB has great reasons to use the ON whey that he does – I just cannot remember what those reasons are :-( I’ll get a reminder next time we’re in the studio recording.

Ann - Thanks very much for the info. Tried buying “gum gar” in the grocery last week. Got a funny look from the manager. Now, I’ll buy ghar gum online. No funny looks — and what I need. Ha! :0)

carrie - Glad you found it, Ann! Have fun making yummy SANE stuff now :-)

What’s in my cupboards? » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - […] What are those strange ingredients and where do I get them? […]

Nancy - Hey Carrie,

Had to pop on and say I bought a 5 lb bag of Xyla. I still have a little bit left in the bag of Truvia so I was able to taste them side by side. WHAT a difference! Truvia – yuk, Xyla – YES. (Although bummer because I can get Truvia at Costco for a lot less.)

carrie - NANCY – HURRAH!!!! Truvia is NASTY!!! You’ll never look back.

Jessica - Hi,

I just found your site, it is amazing !
I live in Ireland and I was wondering where you buy your Shirataki noodles… I can;t find them anywhere here and I don;t feel like paying 10 euro for 2 small bags :(

Thanks for your help!

Britton... - Carrie,

Simply awesome info!

Thanks so much for your diligent work.


carrie - You are so welcome, Britton!

Toya Ann Brown - Hi Carrie, BTW your FUNNEEEEE!

Now on to my question.

How do you decide whether you are using Xantham Gum or Guar Gum. With Xantham being a corn derivative and guar gum being a Bean derivative?

Just wondering….It seems to me that the Guar gum would be a better choice because of the fiber.

Your thoughts

carrie - Hi Toya! Guar gum works best in cold applications and xanthan gum works best in hot. The amount you consume per serving is miniscule, so please don’t worry about it from the perspective of more fiber, or the corn / bean thing. Hope that helps! I am glad I make you laugh :-)

Gilly - Can you advise me , in UK the 100 % gold standard whey Vanilla contains sucralose is this a problem? the ingrediants can be found at the link below it doesn’t seem to be the same as the USA version. Other varieties if you research well are sweetened with fructose! it’s a mine field. are there any unsweetened ones you have heard of?


carrie - Gilly – I am so sorry I missed your question – apologies!! Sucralose is probably the best you are going to get in terms of artifical sweeteners, and I expect the amount is so small it’s not worth worrying about. This is what I would use if I were in the UK. Hope that helps!

Fiona - Hello from glorious Devon, uk!! Thanks for all your great work, Carrie. I need to ask, ON protein powder is your recommended choice, but has Acesulfame K. Is this not a bad sweetener? Would it be better to use another brand? Or is there a reason it’s ok? Is Acesulfame K actually an ok sweetener? Thanks for helping me in my confusion!! X

carrie - Hello, delicious Devon! Whey protein powders are so tricky, and you have to do the best you can. This is what JB and I use. It is not perfect. More important is the quality of the whey protein and the lack of sugars in it, and the reasonable price. The amount of AceK you would consume with one serving is tiny. I am not sure if that answered your question, but I hope it helps!

julie - Hi Carrie – I struck out on konjac powder today locally in bellevue/redmond. I tried super supplements and whole foods but no luck (and they thought I was crazy at both). Is there a substitute for it that I can use in the lasagna soup for tonight? Thanks!!

carrie - Oh those silly people at SS! That’s where I got my first bottle from :-) I will email you directly. For future reference, Konjac is most easily obtained from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005F9W9JQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005F9W9JQ&linkCode=as2&tag=foodifootn-20

Rod & Kathy: “We’re Not Dieting, We’re Eating Healthy!” » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] lived with the kitchen counters amassed high with all sorts of bags that had strange ingredients in them such as Chia Seeds, Guar Gum, Ground Flax, and Xylitol. Whenever we wanted to cook […]

SANE “Sugar” Cookies » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] Questions on ingredients? Check out this info. […]

Rose - Today I rec’d my very first 15 lbs bag of almond flour. Holy cow, didn’t realize all that flour came in one ginormous bag! How does everyone store this massive amount of flour…?

Flourless Mandarin Cake - Run Mum - […] *Almond Flour and Almond Meal are NOT the same.  Please go here or here or here to learn more.  You can use almond meal in this recipe, but the texture may not be the same. ** […]

carrie - Hi Rose – I buy mine in 25lb boxes :-) I keep it in the freezer. Hope that helps!

Rose - So… I don’t need to worry about storage so much as purchasing another freezer. Got it! (*lol*)

Brian Milby - I’ve found unflavored whey on Amazon (ingredient list is just whey and soy lecithin <1%). Is there a quick conversion for recipes that use the vanilla flavored (or chocolate)? I know that those will have something for the vanilla flavor and some sweetener. I would imagine that it would not change the way the recipe goes together too much, but may impact the taste slightly. Thoughts?
PS Thanks for the ingredient guide!

carrie - Hi Brian – it depends on the recipe. I don’t have a quick conversion because I have not tested any other whey than the Optimum Nutrition one that I use and I don’t want to lead you astray telling you something that doesn’t actually work in real life. The taste WILL be impacted and you will have to tweak accordingly. Sorry I can’t be more specifically helpful until I try other whey powders.

Jyoti - Hi Carrie,

I am trying to go SANE but I keep getting confused.

I am a vegetarian and I hate the smell of Chocolate and coconut oil. So that eliminates a lot of your cookies(coconut oil), a lot of your main dishes(omnivore oriented) and a lot of the other drinks( containing chocolate). :(

We eat lots of non starchy vegetables and I prefer cooking from scratch, so that is not an issue.

I have a few question for you…

1. What’s good substitute for Coconut oil, coconut spray?
Coconut and coconut milk are fine as they do not smell of the oil. I don’t like the smell of oil.

2. I have read somewhere of the Xylitol making process, and how and why it is harmful to dogs and little kids. It sounded like the most insane( highly processed) substance to consume. Yet you use it extensively. Why? Is there an alternate way?

3. Why are lentils not sane? … Moong beans, Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, … why are these not sane?

4. Could you post a comprehensive list of all sane ingredients in one of your blog posts. That would make it easier as we can refer to it and prepare our own recipes.

5. Also, if I could have a list of protein sources, vegetarian ones, listing how much protein they provide per unit( a spoon or a cup full) it would be helpful.
In fact, even in your recipes, If you could let us know, that how many cups of any dish would give me the required 30gm of protein, it would be easier for me to balance it with any other dish. As they are, none of the dishes actually tell us how much nutrition they provide or how much to be consumed. Each of us has a different appetite… but I’d love to know how much gives how much nutrition.

6. What about oats? Are they sane? I did not see too many oat-ty recipes.

I’d understand if you were not able to answer all my questions and clear all my doubts, but would definitely appreciate it if you did. :)

Warms Regards,

Patmick - I clicked your link for hemp milk and it brought up Amazon at $77 a quart! Sometimes Amazon does that. Vitacost has it for around $4.00 :)

Sally - Carrie, thanks so much for the list. I’m just getting started on this program and the list really helps. Can you do one on flours? Which ones can be substituted for all purpose in recipes. I have seen quinoa flour in the store and wonder about it’s use. Almond flour is very expensive here, and I thought I may be able to grind some quinoa into flour to save $ and use 1/2 quinoa and 1/2 almond flours in recipes.

Ellen - Carrie – Thanks so much for this info! In recipes that call for coconut milk, it is not always clear if you mean the coconut beverage that comes in boxes or the canned kind that I would use to make Thai food. Also, my son is allergic to tree nuts, so wouldn’t use almond flour (even if he’s not eating it). Is there another option you recommend for your baked good recipes? And I’m seconding the request that someone made above for the recipes to list the number of protein grams as well as vegetable servings in the recipe. Thanks!

Ellen - Update – I reread the descriptions up top and that cleared up my coconut milk confusion. (at least for now!) But still looking for substitute for almond flour in baking.

Kendra - Carrie,
Hi!! I’m loving the smoothies and trying to stock my fridge and pantry to be all SANE. My issue is with Kale and Avacado. I cannot , and I have tried several times, stand the taste or smell of either of these ingredients!! Can I sub spinach for Kale and what can I use instead of Avacado?
Thanks! Kendra

carrie - Hi Kendra – sub out spinach for the kale and some thick coconut milk (comes in a can) for the avocado. Hope that helps!

Pam - HI Carrie – I’ve been, finally, devouring your website for recipe ideas etc etc etc – I’ve gotten most of the “unusual” ingredients listed on this post but some of your earlier recipes call for garbanzo bean flour – is there anything I can use as an alternative for that?? I sometimes get all excited to make a new recipe only to discover I am missing something then I never get back to it…

carrie - Pam – I now use konjac flour exclusively for thickening instead of garbanzo bean flour. I will be updating all the earlier recipes with konjac flour very soon. Hope that helps!

Siobhain - I am sooooo glad you posted that information about xylitol. my dog ate a VERY large amount and nearly died. i don’t think i could have it in my house again!

carrie - Siobhain – glad it was “nearly”.

Sharvo - Hi Carrie & all,
Made the Lasagna Soup from the book … ate it for 4 consecutive lunches … face broke out in a rash. I’m pretty sure it was the Guar Gum (have taken konjac in other forms before like PGX, etc, w/o problems … there were no other changes to face hygiene, etc.).

(1) Do you have a recommendation to substitute?
(2) Do you / Bailor have opinions on addition of gums/thickeners reducing the bioavailibility of nutrients?

PS congrats on your reduced appetite.

carrie - Sharvo – sorry to hear about your rash :-( You could just leave it out, or add another 1/2 tsp. konjac to keep it thick. Konjac doesn’t have the same emulsification properties, but I am sure you won’t mind that in favor of no rash! I have not read anything to suggest that gums reduce availability of nutrients. JB did mention once the specific health benefits of guar gum but I can’t for the life of me remember where to point you for that info :-(

Turkey Tarragon Baked Eggs

Thanksgiving came and went.  Christmas came and went.  Along with several million turkeys.  It’s always been a mystery to me whether to post turkey recipes around the holidays so that people have new ideas for using up all that leftover bird, or whether the sight of yet another turkey recipe makes people’s eyes glaze over.  I will happily eat turkey any time of the year.  I’d eat it every day and still be smiling.  I think turkey is awesome.  I especially love roast turkey, although I rarely leave Trader Joe’s without a pile of packets of deli turkey nestled into my brown paper sacks.

For the last many years I’ve been in England over Thanksgiving, and on some epic road-trip over Christmas, so being home for both holidays this year had me completely discombobulated.  I rather think I’d forgotten what to do.  So this year I didn’t roast a whole turkey for Thanksgiving or for Christmas; but I did buy some fresh turkey breast and roasted that.  It was delicious, although somehow it just isn’t quite the same as slicing thick, juicy meat off a 16lb bird that’s been wallowing in the oven while making the entire house smell divine.  No big bird also meant my supply of turkey meat was extremely small, so I was going to make sure I used those leftovers very wisely.

Ever since my recent foray back into the world of Baked Eggs – that my mother started all those years ago when I was a nipper – I’ve eaten a variation almost every weekend.  A tweak here, a substitution there, a dash of this, a sprinkling of that – just to keep my mind and mouth captivated.  Jonathan would want us to eat the Smoked Salmon version all the time, for the oodles of salmony goodness contained therein, but I like to mix it up.

Turkey Tarragon Baked Eggs

Tender turkey, a splash of cream and a couple of eggs seemed like it would make a pretty decent breakfast, and although turkey and eggs somehow don’t spring to mind as an obvious combination, the tarragon totally tied it all together.  I will, for sure, be making these every time I have some roast turkey breast languishing in my ‘fridge.

You could serve these up with any number of vegetably sides – think steamed asparagus, broiled (grilled) tomatoes, wilted spinach – but barely-sauteed mushrooms are always near the top of my list of things that make weekend mornings special.  And if you really want to blow your taste buds away, add a couple of these on the side.

You will never want to go back to eating inSANEly again.

Turkey Tarragon Baked Eggs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 4 TBSP heavy cream
  • 4 oz / 110g chopped cooked turkey (or deli turkey)
  • 2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • Black pepper
  • 8 oz. / 225g mushrooms, sliced
  1. Spray 2 ramekin dishes with coconut oil and place dishes in a baking pan with water half way up side of ramekins.
  2. Put 2 tbsp cream in bottom of each dish.
  3. Place turkey on bottom of dish.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 F.
  5. Carefully pull oven shelf out half way.
  6. Sprinkle tarragon over the turkey.
  7. Crack 2 eggs into each dish.
  8. Season with ground pepper.
  9. Carefully push oven shelf back.
  10. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 350 F until eggs are just cooked.
  11. During the last 4 minutes while the eggs are cooking, gently saute the sliced mushrooms until just starting to color.
  12. Serve mushrooms alongside the dishes of eggs.

Turkey Tarragon Baked Eggs

*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!

Broccoli and Red Pepper Quiche Cups

I realize that the holidays are over, and it would have been much better all round if I had posted this party-in-a-muffin-cup recipe a month ago, but you know what they say – better late than never.  And just think – now everyone around you is swilling down Slimfast and choking back fat-free 100-calorie snack packs while you get to eat party food.  Every. Single. Day.  HURRAH!

Broccoli and Red Pepper Quiche Cups

The original *SANE Quiche Cups were a huge hit, so it seemed only right to expand the repertoire of this perfect lunch and snack food.  The inaugural version was required to include two of my favorite veggies – leeks and mushrooms – but once I’d got that out of my system I was free to branch out into the vegetable kingdom with abandon.  I also changed the base up to include more protein in the form of Greek yogurt.

Eat them on their own.  Eat them alongside a big, fat salad.  Eat them with a veggie stir-fry.  Eat them hot straight out of the oven, or cold the next day.  Make a big batch on Sunday and have them ready to go in the ‘fridge for the week.  Eat them as a snack when you get the munchies.  Eat them hot for breakfast with some bacon.

Just eat them.  You’ll love ‘em.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Broccoli and Red Pepper Quiche Cups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 3 oz / 85g red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 oz / 110g broccoli, finely chopped
  • 2 oz / 55g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 11 eggs
  • ¼ cup 2% greek yogurt (Non-fat yogurt will not work!!)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • sea salt and pepper
  1. Place 12 silicone cups in a muffin pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix red pepper, broccoli and cheese well.
  3. Divide vegetable and cheese mix evenly between the 12 silicone cups.
  4. Place eggs, parsley, pepper and Greek yogurt in a bowl and whisk well.
  5. Pour egg mixture into a jug and carefully fill each silicone cup almost full.
  6. Carefully place muffin pan into the center of the oven, pre-heated to 375 degrees F.
  7. Bake 30 minutes until risen, puffy and golden brown. They will rise well above the cups. They are ready when a skewer comes out cleanly.
  8. Remove from oven and carefully tip each quiche out of the cups.

Broccoli and Red Pepper Quiche Cups



*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!

Tanya - Hey Carrie,

I just wanted to let you know that I tried this recipe for the first time just now (couldn’t before as I can’t get greek yoghurt where I live, so I made my own)…. it is DEVINE!!!!! Thank you so much for your efforts to provide us with such delicious recipes :-)

carrie - THANK YOU, Tanya!! So happy that you loved them.

Kelly - Hey!!
Those are amaaazing! Mine lacked of cheese a little cause i didn’t have enough at home but they were still great!

You’re really making this sane lifestyle so much easier :)
Thznk youuu :) can’t wait for more recipes !

Top 10 SANE Recipes of 2012

This time last year I was writing restaurant reviews.  My most popular posts were the “Best Of” posts where I’d do a round-up of my favorite eating adventures – or my favorite crêpe places – or my favorite scramble spots – or – you get the picture.  Then, at the end of the year I’d do a “20 Favorite Meals of 20XX” post.  People loved them, I guess because they could use them as an easy way to know where to start if they were looking for a great place to eat in Seattle.

Since then I’ve moved on to creating recipes, and instead of doing a round-up of my favorite recipes, I thought instead I’d do a round-up of yours.  Every day we have more and more people stopping by to join our little *SANE eating adventures (Welcome!!), so I figured this might be a great way to introduce new folks to this whole *SANE eating thing.

I would hazard a guess that the favorites were the favorites because on the surface they appear to be things you *shouldn’t* be allowed to eat on most diets.  And that’s the whole point – my goal is to make food that is truly healthier than anything else you’ve eaten prior, and tastes fantastic.  You CAN eat dessert, you CAN eat baked goods, you CAN eat all manner of delicious food and be healthier and slimmer as a result.  As long as they’re *SANE.  Who knew?

The way we eat shouldn’t feel weird, or difficult, or complicated, or punitive.  We shouldn’t feel hungry, guilty, limited, or desperate.  And food should taste fabulous.  This isn’t a diet, it’s how we eat.  And it’s awesome.


The 10 most popular recipe posts of 2012: take a look and see how much yummy stuff you get to eat!

Chocolate Berry Cream

1. Chocolate Berry Cream

Hot Nutty Cereal

2. Hot and Nutty Cereal

Cheesy Scones (Biscuits)

3. Cheesy Scones

4. Strawberry Seed Porridge

Mint Chocolate Pudding

5. Mint Chocolate Pudding

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

6. Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Leek and Mushroom Quiche Cups

7. Leek and Mushroom Quiche Cups

Almond Parmesan Squash

8. Almond Parmesan Squash 

Almond Pear Porridge

9. Almond Pear Porridge

Warm Turkey and Almond Slaw

10. Warm Turkey and Almond Slaw

And for the curious, here’s my personal top 3:

Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

1. Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits – these about made me cry with joy when I took my first bite.

Beet and Tarragon Soup

2. Beet and Tarragon Soup – this soup absolutely knocks my socks off.

Creamy Smoked Salmon with Pea Shoots

3. Smoked Salmon & Pea Shoot Saute – fastest, tastiest dinner ever.  Love.

 Have a *SANE and eccentric year, lovely readers!


*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!

Amy Adams - Carrie, your recipes are the very, very best!

carrie - THANK YOU, Amy!! Hugely appreciate the recipe love.

Top 10 SANE Recipes 2013 » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] Top 10 SANE Recipes of 2012 – proof if any were needed that “Top 10″ posts are well-read and useful! […]

Very Berry Rice Pudding

Well.  2012 was quite a year.  It went gallivanting off in all sorts of directions that I had no clue it would when it started out.

There have been crazy things, sad things, and downright awesome things.  I lost too many friends that left this earth before they were meant to, and I gained some fantastic new friends at times and in places I least expected.  I was trashed by people I considered close friends, and I’ve had volumes of fan mail from strangers all over the world – who ever expects those things to ever happen?

I’ve had interview requests from health writers, and casting calls from TV Producers.  Jonathan and I became hot on iTunes, and then we wrote a new book.  There have been times that have hurt my heart deeply, and times that have made my heart sing.  I unexpectedly fell in love with the Deep South, spinach, The Zac Brown Band, and coconut – while just as unexpectedly falling out of love with Dr. Pepper, digging in the garden, driving in the snow, and cupcakes.  That last one still amazes me.

My image was chosen to be the Windows 8 lockscreen (hello?!), and I discovered that the Surface makes creating recipes for you – while cooking in the kitchen – the easiest thing ever.  The kitchen was re-modelled, the yard was completely re-landscaped, and I am unbelievably grateful for being able to get those done.

I ate more, I exercised less, my waist got smaller, and my back-fat shrank.  My HDL went up, my LDL went down.  Everything in my life moved in the right direction, despite a few roadblocks thrown into my path along the way.  There were cherished friends at every turn to help me clamber over the hurdles and just keep on going.

I started the year reviewing restaurants, and ended it spending almost every waking moment creating recipes, cooking, photographing, and posting the results for the world to see.  Who knew?  More to the point, who knew that I would be creating recipes for rice pudding – without rice in – with the glee of a 4-year-old riding their first bike?

I believe in this case it was the freeze-dried raspberries I spied in Trader Joe’s while I was ambling up and down the aisles that got me all gleeful.  Those little puffs of raspberry pieces are jam-packed with an explosion of raspberry flavor.  Just one little piece is like eating a whole bunch of fresh ones.  And I do love raspberries. 

Very Berry Rice Pudding

I made this as a dessert one day when I fancied the whole rice pudding thing, but wasn’t in the mood for cinnamon.  I’ve since eaten it for breakfast and a snack as well.  It’s one of the {gazillion} things I just love about this whole *SANE thing – so many of the dishes are multi-purpose.  We can eat dessert for breakfast any time we choose and feel good about it.  LOVE that!

This is as simple as can be to throw together, although I would advise throwing it carefully as you don’t want cottage cheese mush on your hands.  Or in your bowl.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Very Berry Rice Pudding
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 oz. / 28g strawberry whey powder
  • ¼ tsp salt (measure it - you don't want too much!) SEE NOTE
  • 2 TBSP dried blueberries
  • ¼ cup freeze-dried raspberries
  • xylitol or equivalent sweetener to taste (I used 2 tsp)
  1. In a bowl, gently stir the cottage cheese, whey powder, and salt together until the whey powder is completely dissolved and mixed through.
  2. Stir in the blueberries and raspberries.
  3. Sweeten to taste if required.
Depending on the brand of whey powder you use, you may not need the salt. It neutralizes any bitterness that many whey powders have. I suggest that the first time you make this you taste it before you add the salt, and then add it if there is a bitter after-taste in your whey powder.



*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!

Nancy - This is interesting about the pinch of salt. Whey powder definitely has an odd taste that takes some getting used to.

Do you find the various sugar substitutes all have different tastes?

carrie - Hi Nancy – it depends which whey powder you use, but I find the strawberry whey JB and I use has a bitter aftertaste. The salt fixes that. I don’t want to get used to the aftertaste ;-) The sugar substitutes do all have different tastes. The reason I use xylitol (apart from it being natural and having a host of health benefits) is that it tastes the most like regular sugar, as well as looks and performs like regular sugar. I think Stevia / Truvia are nasty tasting and erythritol has an odd taste. No one has ever been able to tell that my recipes do not have regular sugar in them and that’s the result I aim for.

Nancy - Ah, this explains why the almond cookies I made on my SANE cooking rampage taste off. I used Truvia because that was all they had at the regular grocery store. Might have to bite the bullet and order a 55lb bag of the xylitol. Sure wish the sugar substitutes weren’t so expensive.

carrie - Nancy – it will save you in the long run if you have a place to keep it. I just won’t eat food that tastes nasty, so the cost is worth it to me. I don’t want to feel like I have to eat inferior tasting food because I want to be slim and healthy! The cost will start to come down as more and more people start buying things like xylitol.

Cowgirl Rae - One thing I learned about xylitol…. isn’t there always a twist to learn?

Traditional xylitol is made from birch trees…. lo and behold food techs have started making xylitol from corn cobs.

reputable sellers will disclose the source of the xylitol if you ask.

I saw this on the website of the xylosweet I purchased. http://www.xlear.com/xylosweet-faq.aspx

Yes the birch version is significantly more expensive.


carrie - I use Xyla because it is made from birch bark…however…xylitol made from corn does not use any of the corn grain, is gluten-free and is still a momnumentally massive (yes, THAT huge) of an improvement over regular sugar in terms of its effect on our bodies. Don’t fret! Use this up, then buy Xyla :-) http://www.naturalsweetenerstore.com/5lb-xylitol-bag-pure-north-american-birch/ 5lb Xyla is cheaper than Xylo-Sweet from looking at the website you sent me.

Cowgirl Rae - Thanks I’ll check it out!

Sometimes I simply get exhausted researching every possible tangent for every product!

Don’t get me started on getting duped by the stevia company…..BAH!

carrie - Oooh, Rae – tell me about the Stevia thing….email me?

Julie - Love this post! :)

carrie - Thanks, Julie!

Diane - I just made this. I did not add any sweetener and I used frozen fruit as I did not have any dried fruits. I made it for tomorrow’s breakfast but it might not make it that long. I did have to taste it for quality control purposes.

carrie - Ha, ha, Diane! I have that same problem! Good news is…because it’s SANE it’s OK to eat a lot ;-) Enjoy!!

Daniel Martins - Hey there Carrie, I`m so happy to hear about all you accomplishments this year! I myself have only ” met” Jonathan and you back on November, and even though it`s such a short time you`ve became my companions on Sao Paulo`s (Brazil) crazy traffic. I`ve listened to all the podcasts after reading the book, and I`m a SANEr, happier person. Thank you both for making our lives better. Jonathan laid the ground summing up the science, you laid the red carpet with your extremely talented recipes to make the path merrier and easier :)

Thank you both for all the hard work and enjoyable time on the car :)

Best regards from the Brazilian fun,


carrie - THANK YOU, Dani for your kind words and support all the way from sunny Sao Paulo!!! Congrats on your SANEr, happier you :-)

kerrie - Hi Carrie, I am a a beginner here from Australia. Have bought the Smarter Science of Slim and printing some of your recipes. Have bought a huge jar of Stevia but I don’t think I want to try it now. Just went to the website for Xyla and they won’t ship to Australia :-( is there anything else that is similar I can try? BTW your recipes look so yummy!

carrie - Kerrie – try here: For Xylitol, there’s Naturally Sweet brand. You can find out where it’s sold near you here: http://www.naturallysweet.com.au For other strange ingredients, check out this post: http://www.marmaladeandmileposts.com/archives/23109

kerrie - Thank you Carrie. I will check it out… :-)

Matilda - I was super excited to make this recipe, cause it sounds yummy as. So I made it this morning, and I got sad :( cause I did not like it. I’m not too sure what it is that I don’t like, texture maybe?
So it’s in the fridge. Might make it up into pancakes for the kids. Or maybe it will get better. But I hate wasting food, and I was so disappointed it didn’t turn out like I hoped :(