We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Linda's Creamy,Yummy and Paleo-Friendly Coconut Oil Hot Chocolate for Weight Loss (Vitamix Method) and Her Thoughts on Gluten-Free vs Paleo Diets

by Linda

'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again. ~ William Edward Hickson

My new and very much improved (properly emulsified) Coconut Oil Hot Chocolate.
Delicious by anyone's standards.
As anyone knows who has spent a good deal of time cooking, much of the process is about experimentation. The same is true for me with my diet.
   When I try a recipe for the first time—often the subsequent times that I make it, I will choose alterations to improve the results. Such is the case with my previous Sugar-Free Coconut Hot Chocolate recipe that we published a couple of years ago, and such is the case with my ever changing thoughts on nutrition and diet to help me fight the battle of the bulge and stay healthy.
   In January of 2012, armed with new knowledge and the moral support of my friend and co-worker at the time, Misty, of Healthy Transisitons, I embarked on a gluten-free Paleo template diet. In four months I had lost 50 pounds, and I wasn't even going to the gym.
That's the good news. Not only did I lose weight, but the life-long asthma that all of us sisters have struggled with since we were babies improved dramatically for me. In the fall of that year just a few months later, the Sistercation of 2012 occurred. This was when Juliette, Michelle and I met up here in Sonoma County for our annual sisters' get together. During the days we spent enjoying ourselves, we talked at length about diet and my going gluten-free while we weren't at the beach or having dance party and cocktail time in my backyard.

Dance party in my backyard during Sistercation of 2012.
   Juliette is an expert at making wild yeast and long fermentation sourdough. She owns the regionally-recognized bakery—Guadalupe Baking Company in Bisbee, Arizona. During our visit, Juliette argued that I should be able to include wild yeast sourdough in my diet because there is accumulating evidence that the long cold fermentation process literally eats up the gluten. I read a blog post on Cheeseslave that Juliette sent me that made me consider reintroducing this artisan product back into my diet. According to what I read, when tested, the gluten parts per million in wild yeast long ferment sourdough are below what the FDA requirement is to label a product gluten-free (however FDA regulations do not allow for anything containing wheat to be labeled "gluten-free"). Although I am not the master researcher that Michelle is, when I am on the track of new knowledge, I start digging into things. This is good and this is bad, because you can end up making yourself really confused, which I managed to do in this case.
   Since I was still really missing bread on my new diet, I was persuaded to give baking my own artisan sourdough a try if it meant I could have delicious bread back in my life. Juliette had brought her sourdough starter dehydrated powder with her from Arizona, and she got the starter rehydrated and going for me here in California in the week she was at my house on vacation. When the girls were gone—with my new starter bubbling away—I set out to learn to make real sourdough. Not one to cautiously approach a new project, I enthusiastically threw myself into my new creative endeavor. I invested in brotforms, cambros, clay baking cloches, cast iron bread bakers, baguette pans, a lame, a good digital scale and a whole slew of other bread baking equipment that is needed to transform water, flour and salt into beautiful loaves of artisan sourdough.
   Michelle got into the act, too, and it wasn't long before the two of us were turning out gorgeous and really delicious boules, baguettes, rolls, bagels and pizza dough under the tutelage of the expert, Juliette. There were many telephone calls and emails between the three of us that were devoted to the subject. Michelle even won a blue ribbon at her local state fair that spring for her heavenly Guava-Coconut-Orange-Walnut Stuffed Baguette. The following photos are examples of the bread and pizza that Michelle and I began making:


   But after about six months, not all was well for me in Sourdough Breadland.  The weight began to creep back on, and my asthma worsened, but I continued on baking bread in spite of these warning signs because not only do I really love eating bread, but now I really enjoyed the whole process of making and baking it as well. Bread is convenient (too busy to cook—you can always make a sandwich, right?), it is delicious, it is comforting, it is filling and it makes great gifts. I don't think anything smells quite as good as freshly baked bread just out of the oven. However, there is growing evidence to support that wheat isn't just addictive as in becoming habituated, but that it is actually an opiate that acts in our bodies to make us hungry.  William Davis, M.D., who is the author of Wheat Belly argues that:

"Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors. Wheat is addictive in the sense that, if you don’t have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another “hit” of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if it’s the few stale 3-month old crackers at the bottom of the box. Wheat is addictive in the sense that there is a distinct withdrawal syndrome characterized by overwhelming fatigue, mental “fog,” inability to exercise, even depression that lasts several days, occasionally several weeks. Wheat is addictive in the sense that the withdrawal process can be provoked by administering an opiate-blocking drug such as naloxone or naltrexone. But the “high” of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesn’t make us high. It makes us hungry."

 So it was with much sadness, lamentation and wailing on my part, I gave up wheat once more—fatter and wheezier—but much wiser. I have finally had to accept that I react to wheat, even if it is fermented, technically gluten-free and shaped with rice flour. In the following months I went back on a fairly strict gluten-free diet with only occasional indulgences, but I was still eating starch and sugar. I liked that gluten-free bun with my hamburger and my satisfying Duck Fat Oven Fries. There are some mighty tasty gluten-free cookies out there now in the marketplace. And guess what? The weight did not come off as it had before. Not even slowly. I found out that a gluten-free diet all by itself was not going to make the weight come off. Albeit that they are all gluten-free—sugar and gluten-free starch still make me fat.

Truly delicious—but my gluten-free Summer Pasta can't be part of my regular menu repertoire. I will be making it now now with Michelle's tasty and Paleo-friendly zucchini noodles.
   A month ago, I made the decision to return to the Paleo-template diet that Misty recommended to me in early 2012 when my excess weight dropped off rapidly. I am back to Misty's Coconut Milk, Whey Protein and Blueberry Smoothie for breakfast or my Coconut Oil Hot Chocolate, which I am now emulsifying properly in my Vitamix as a reader kindly pointed out that I should do in their comments about my previous post.
  Here is my slow to embrace realization—going gluten-free just doesn't cut it for weight loss for me. Going gluten-free is easy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's super easy. If one doesn't actually have Celiac Disease, there are an array of tasty gluten-free products in the present day marketplace to make the transition to a gluten-free diet a rather painless undertaking. Restaurants have caught on as well and are providing many gluten-free options. However, almost all of the "gluten-free" products replacing bread, pizza, cookies and desserts are loaded with starch and sugar which cause our blood sugar to elevate and we turn the excess calories into fat.
   I feel better in general on a gluten-free diet and my asthma is far less. I am able to take half the medication that I did previously, but I still remain overweight—so it's back to Paleo for me. Conversely, cutting out refined carbs—namely refined sugar and starches— at least for me, is very difficult. It requires real discipline and meal planning in my hectic life. I shouldn't complain being that I don't even have kids at home complaining about what I am putting in their lunch box or what I am preparing for dinner. I am back to making my Paleo breakfast, packing a Paleo lunch, and I have Nom Nom Paleo sitting out in my cookbook holder for inspiration for dinners. I had the great pleasure of meeting the authors of that book, Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, a few months back. They were on a summer book tour, and stopped in the Whole Foods Market® where I work to sign books and say hello. They were kind enough to share my blog post for my Honey Simple Syrup recipe on their Facebook page.

Henry Fong and Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo at Whole Foods Market San Rafael.
   I am happy to report that although I am still craving starch and sugar, I have lost ten pounds in a month. I have noticed that the cravings are subsiding as the days pass, and my energy is increasing. I also notice that I am once again less hungry, but I do need to eat my meals on time because in general, I do not snack.
   We sisters are going to be having another Sistercation in the first week of December, and my goal is too have lost 25 pounds by then. I will most likely join in our holiday celebration by eating the delicious food that Michelle is already planning, and I will also most likely be eating some amazing sourdough bread—but only for a week. When I come home it will be back to strictly Paleo for me. And this time I have added insurance to get back on track quickly—this year I am already back at the gym lifting weights and doing some yoga, too.

Linda's Creamy, Yummy and Paleo-Friendly Coconut Oil Hot Chocolate for Weight Loss (Vitamix Method)

With most of my ingredients in place and Nom Nom Paleo for inspiration,
I am ready to make my Coconut Oil Hot Chocolate.
   I discovered that having coconut oil in the morning is critical for me to lose weight. My coconut hot chocolate is a delicious way to get your dose in the morning. To learn more about the special properties of coconut click here.
 Some months ago an anonymous reader of my previous post made this observation:
"This Hot Chocolate looks absolutely delicious! Have you tried blending the oils and the water together in a heated blender? Getting those ingredients to properly emulsify would improve the legitimacy of this lovely, healthy version of what once was a junk food."
   When I tried the blender suggestion, I found that the oil did not separate out of the liquid and that instead of the coconut oil floating on top, there was a lovely creamy foam that was produced in the process. It's like having a hot chocolate lattĂ©.

Kettle (I love my Breville electric one)
Vitamix or other high-powered blender
Small funnel
Pyrex measuring cup (you will need glass that is tempered for boiling water)
Mug for hot drinks

Ingredients for one serving:
1-2 Tbsps extra virgin coconut oil
2 tsps. Valrhona cocoa powder (or other dark and premium brand cocoa)
3 tsps. Xylitol (please read my notes on Xylitol in the previous post!)
2 packets of Truvia
OR—you can use one ounce of my Honey Simple Syrup or maple syrup if you aren't trying to lose weight and are on a strict Paleo diet.
1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups of boiling filtered water
2 Tbsps of heavy cream (you can substitute coconut milk for a dairy-free version)
Ground cinnamon or cocoa powder to dust the top

1. Make sure that the blender is on the slow speed and that variable speed dial is on 0.
2. Heat 1.5 cups of filtered water until boiling. I make extra hot water to heat my mug.
3. Place coconut oil into the blender container along with the cocoa powder, xylitol and Truvia.
4. Start the blender and slowly increase the speed.
5. Slowly pour in the boiling water into the blender container that is on slow speed through a funnel inserted into the top of the blender lid. (Use caution with hot liquids in a blender!)

6. Pour in all of the water, and with the blender still going pour in the vanilla and heavy cream.
7. Increase the blender speed for a few seconds to make sure that all the ingredients are properly emulsified.
8. Turn off the blender, and immediately pour the hot chocolate mixture into the preheated mug. Garnish with cinnamon or cocoa powder if desired.

I like my hot chocolate with cinnamon sprinkled on top.


  1. Interesting post. I've struggled for years with the weight and tried a myriad of diets. But not Paleo yet. I'll need to look at more closely, based on your success.

    1. Hi Christy… it's the only way of eating that has worked for me without counting calories, limiting portions or counting points. Michelle, who likes the Weight Watchers program, said to me not too long ago, "You know, Linda, you eat huge portions." Nothing like a sister to give you the plain truth. If you are going to go Paleo have some tricks up your sleeve like Misty's Coconut and Blueberry Smoothie that's in our blog. The hot chocolate takes no longer to prepare than coffee and can be made with coffee instead of the water. Cutting out starch and sugar is hard but it works and you will feel better. Lower blood sugar makes you more healthy and at less risk for many diseases.Thanks for reading!

  2. I just came to visit your site today because I thought of the hot chocolate with coconut oil I knew I saw here a while back while browsing through your recipes...and there it was an updated version of it...how wonderful...perfect timing :-)
    I live in NJ so cold months are coming and I'll be making this drink quite often now.
    I use Navitas raw cacao powder, coconut nectar or raw honey as a sweetener, coconut oil, vanilla, coconut cream from Native Forest, water and cinnamon or any other warm spices I have around. I love it. It is absolutely delicious, healthy and super yummy.

    I was also wondering if there's a recipe anywhere on this site for the pizza shown above as well as the rolls (in black cast iron above)?

    Thank you for this site. I love it.

  3. Thank you so much for leaving a comment. We really appreciate receiving feedback on the blog. We also like to know how recipes are modified to suit individual tastes or health needs. I need to find coconut nectar and give it a try. Our "Freshly Made Made Thin Crust Pizza Dough" was in our top 10 blogs for the longest time and fell off recently, which is too bad, because it is delicious and deserves extra attention. We also have several pizza recipes on the blog and the thin crust pizza dough is the basis for each toppings variation. The photos in this post for the pizza and rolls were made with my sister Juliette's "secret" recipe for wild yeast sourdough. She is the owner and chief baker for Guadalupe Baking Company located in quaint Bisbee, Arizona that we like to refer to as "Tiny Town". We've played around with the idea of producing a wild yeast sourdough cookbook, because if you are going to eat bread, artisinal sourdough made in the traditional way (without commercial yeast) is the way to go for both taste and health. Plus, I find it a big stress reliever. Making the dough, shaping the loaves, and completing the bake is truly enjoyable and relaxing. If you like to bake, our recipe for French bread is truly amazing and I bet it would make pretty good rolls, too. Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts. Cheers, Michelle

  4. I will attempt to make the pizza dough soon. It looks delicious.
    Your site is truly amazing. I love the details you put into all of your recipes. I have several of them bookmarked to make in the future. Thank you so much.


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