Gettin' down with real food.

Maple Ginger Parsnip Cake with Labneh Walnut Topping

Why do you bake? I bake to relax. I bake to fill my kitchen with oven warmth and the smell of caramelized sugar. I bake when I want dessert, one made with ingredients I can pronounce. I bake to share my creations, to lift spirits with muffins.  

I've been plotting to bake this cake, adapted from a recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog, since Christmas, and today was the day I finally got my shit together. Yes, I define my current level of pulled-togetherness by whether or not I'm actively engaging in pastry arts...

Maple Ginger Parsnip Cake | Funky Beets

Meet carrot cake's spunky sister, parsnip cake. This recipe nestles a half pound of shredded root veg goodness amid a not-too-sweet but very moist and slightly spicy crumb topped with tangy thickened yogurt, crunchy toasted walnuts and tart dried cranberries.  Unlike zucchini bread, where the vegetable fades into the background, the parsnip flavor in this cake is unmistakable. Parsnips are slightly sweet and nutty, and so work well in desserts and play nice with the ginger, cinnamon and hint of orange in this recipe. The flours used are brown rice and oat, making this cake 100% whole grain and wheat-free.  If you're in the mood for something a little different after dinner, please give this funky cake a shot.

Maple Ginger Parsnip Cake | Funky Beets

Tip: to make the labneh for topping, simply drain plain, whole milk yogurt (or Greek yogurt) in a coffee filter or cheese cloth set over a bowl for 6 to 8 hours or until it is thickened but still spreadable.

Maple Ginger Parsnip Cake with Labneh Walnut Topping

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories 

Serves 8


  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 tbsp corn starch or potato starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb parsnips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp orange bitters (optional)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 cup thickened plain whole milk yogurt (labneh) - see above tip
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Generously grease a 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Set aside. 

  2. Whisk together the flours, starch, baking powder and spices.

  3. Peel and grate the parsnips. I used the fine shredding blade on my food processor which worked like a dream. 

  4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until slightly frothy. Add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the parsnips and then the flour mixture. 

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake on the middle rack for about 40 minutes, or until golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before before removing cake from the springform pan.

  6. Make the topping by simply stirring together your thickened yogurt with maple syrup and ground ginger. Spread the icing over the cake when it has cooled completely. Garnish with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries.

  7. The cake will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and its flavor is actually better the second day. 


PS: This cake is completely acceptable breakfast fare!




Raspberry & Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

When I was maybe seven or eight, my dad took my sister and I to the home of one of his tax clients to pick raspberries from her backyard garden.  The woman, who was wrinkled and kind-eyed and lived on her own, gave my sister and I each a basket to gather the fruit.  It was late afternoon, and the deep pink berries were still warm from the day's sun as we plucked and ate and plucked and ate. When the mosquitoes finally chased us inside, we sat down with powdered sugar dusted brownies and cold glasses of milk at her cozy kitchen table. We ate the brownies topped with just-picked raspberries in her cool, homey kitchen in the fading summer light.  

I was not a child who enjoyed mixing flavors, let alone allowing the foods on my plate to touch one another, but that day I fell head over heels for the marriage of raspberries and chocolate: the crunch of the raspberry seeds in the thick of the brownie's soft crumb, the sunny tang of the fruit cutting through dark bittersweet chocolate.  

I only met her once. I can't remember her voice or her name, but I still remember the graciousness with which she let us roam her raspberry bushes and the delight she seemed to take in watching us enjoy the fruits of her labor.  Food is love my friends, food is love. 

raspberry chocolate swirled banana bread

Raspberry Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

gluten-free, grain-free, low added sugar

Adapted from Deliciously Organic

Makes one 9-inch loaf


  • 4 medium bananas (about 1 pound, peeled)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup coconut flour (now widely available, including at Trader Joe's and online
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the swirl:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raspberries, at room temperature


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan.

2. Combine the bananas, eggs, butter, almond butter and vanilla in a blender or mixing bowl (immersion blender works well here) and blend until mixture is smooth and uniform.

3. Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, mix well to break up any clumps and then add to the banana mixture, stirring until totally combined and no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.

4. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until just smooth.  Add the room-temperature raspberries and mash with a fork into the chocolate.  If the chocolate becomes hard, warm again in the microwave briefly.  Spoon the raspberry-chocolate swirl in little plops on top of the batter and use a butter knife to swirl the mixture throughout the batter.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bread passes the toothpick test. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

raspberry chocolate swirled banana bread

Crumbly Carrot Rhubarb Muffins and Raspberry Chia Jam

I enjoy curating lists. I realize this is not a unique character trait; I know and love many fellow list-makers. Two lists I keep, inspired by the movie Amelie, are my likes and dislikes. The things we embrace and those we shun are windows into who we are, a way of showing rather than telling our life stories. What do you keep close? What do you recoil from?

A recent addition to my "likes" list is "cookbooks organized by season" (showing). Cooking seasonally is important to me (telling). I recently borrowed Sarah Britton's new cookbook My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season from the library and devoured its pages in less than a day. The photos are full of life and light, the recipes sprinkled with highlighted ingredient notes where Sarah shares her holistic nutrition wisdom in a completely accessible voice. I ordered three copies of My New Roots (two for gifts) and have been scheming to cook from it nearly every day. 

Two of my first successes from the Spring chapter were these delightfully chunky yet tender oat-flour-based Carrot Rhubarb Muffins and a riff on her Strawberry Chia Jam (I used raspberries). For the muffins, I swapped eggs and coconut oil in for the applesauce she suggests in her version as  I wanted my muffins a bit more dense and filling, with protein and fat to satiate my voracious morning appetite. My rhubarb supply hailed from my neighbor's backyard (with permission of course), but I suspect there should be plenty coming into markets soon for your baking pleasure. 

oat flour carrot rhubarb muffins |

The raspberry chia jam is a breeze to make; all the ingredients are combined in a blender or food processor and refrigerated overnight, no cooking or pectin required. This ruby red, pleasantly seedy jam is amazing on waffles, toast, ice cream or yogurt. I imagine it would be pretty good on carrot rhubarb muffins as well (though I can't say for sure as we gobbled those up before I could locate some berries and whip up the jam).

raspberry chia jam |

In other news, I've been published!  My food writing appeared in this Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Check out the link below to find the online version of my story on how to throw a laid-back picnic party complete with light and tasty recipes to impress your friends without turning on the oven!

Recipe note: If you are gluten intolerant, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour as many brands of oats contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross contamination. Also, these muffins are a bit on the crumbly side, I suggest using a plate and fork to catch any stray morsels of goodness.

Crumbly Carrot & Rhubarb Muffins

Adapted from My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season 

Makes 12 muffins


  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 free range eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 lb carrots, grated
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 thin stalks rhubarb, sliced into thin disks (about 1/4 lb)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin with liners or cooking spray.
  2. Add oat flour, oats, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to a large bowl. Whisk well. 
  3. In a food processor, pulse walnuts until roughly chopped (or chop manually). Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk honey, eggs and melted coconut oil until combined. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened and no dry spots remain.
  5. Fold grated carrots, chopped walnuts, and sliced rhubarb into batter.
  6. Distribute batter evening among 12 muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes, until muffins tops are golden and glistening and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Enjoy warm with jam, butter, or coconut oil. 

Raspberry Chia Jam

Adapted from: My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season 

Makes about 1 cup


raspberry chia jam |
  • 1/2 lb fresh raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp honey (I used wildflower)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds


  1. Wash raspberries and place in blender or food processor. Add honey, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add chia seeds to blender and blend again until just incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into a jar and refrigerate until thickened, about 20 minutes. 
  4. Keep in fridge for up to a week.

Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Hi friends, I'm feeling a bit like a wrung out sponge. Wrapping up my semester of internship experience, I've started reflecting on how much I've learned much beyond textbooks, how many unique souls I've met, and how many hours I've stayed up wondering what the future holds for me. Two weeks out from graduation, I'm more than ready for a breather, however brief, from this juggling act I've been putting on for the last four months. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air, but quite honestly a few are rolling around on the floor, namely housekeeping and sleep. My cup runneth over with joy though tumbleweeds of dust grace the floors. One thing I can always count on to energize my mind and enliven my soul is creative cooking with fresh and vibrant ingredients.

cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats |

Dirty house and sleep deprivation notwithstanding, I can still whip up a breakfast worth rising and shining for. This morning's version of overnight oats combined the comforting scent of cardamom, juicy ripe blackberries, and nutty sunflower seed butter along with chia seeds and a kiss of maple syrup. Power breakfast, no doubt, son. Soaking the oats overnight in a slightly acidic liquid (such as yogurt or milk of choice with a little lemon juice) helps break down some of the harder to digest proteins and totally eliminates the need for cooking.  So easy. So delicious.

In other news, I had an article and recipe about tamale-making published on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' blog Stone Soup check it out here!

cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats |

Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Makes 2 servings


  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sunbutter (any nut butter works!)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans


  1. Combine oats, milk, lemon juice, chia seeds, and cardamom in a glass jar or bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove oat mixture from fridge and stir in maple syrup and sunbutter.
  3. In two separate jars or bowls, evenly distribute oat mixture, layering with blackberries and pecans to your artistic whims.  Add more milk if desired.
  4. Enjoy anywhere!

Stress-Busting Breakfast

This isn't a recipe so much as a formula for invincibility.  Maybe not quite though.  I won't wax poetic about the power of healthy fats; I won't demonize quick carbohydrates.  I'll simply say that I have way more energy and pep in my step when I eat a morning meal of eggs and healthy fat than one of grains or sweet bready things.  When my breakfast consists mainly protein and fat, my brain just seems to work better and the hunger gremlin (or is it ghrelin?) doesn't start begging for lunch quite so early. 

Hear this: a recent study gave a group of overweight teenage boys one of three breakfast meals: eggs, steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal.  Unlike the egg and steel cut oat eating groups, the instant oatmeal group saw not only sharp rises in blood sugar, but also spikes in norepinephrine (a stress hormone!) following the glucose spike.

On the weekdays, we GO GO GO. We may even skip breakfast (gasp!). The pace of life can wear us down and this kind of intense, sustained stress leaves us craving sugar, refined carbs, and empty calorie snack foods. These foods give us “instant comfort,” but are the very ones that lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar, leaving us more susceptible to new stresses and usually feeling worse than before. It’s a vicious cycle.  So start the day with a breakfast modeled after the one below and perhaps when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you won't hit the vending machine...

stress-busting breakfast |

Stress-busting breakfast: Eggs + Greens + Healthy Fat

Eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, etc.) – satiating protein staves off hunger and keeps hormone levels more stable; eggs also provide many essential amino acids our bodies need to function at their best.  Eggs provide one of the highest biological value protein sources, meaning our bodies have an easy time turning it into muscle or using it for tissue repair.

Greens (kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, etc.) – Dark greens gives us a wonderful cornucopia of vitamins and minerals.  They're tasty, nutrient dense, and support top-notch brain function.

Healthy Fat (pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado, whole milk yogurt, grass-fed butter, etc.) – Like protein, fat is satiating; of the macronutrients, it takes the longest to digest so hunger won’t strike as quickly and blood sugar levels will stay at an even keel.  Our brains are nearly 60% fat and we know that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine our brain's integrity and ability to perform.

BONUS: Omega-3s (smoked salmon, tuna, walnuts, hemp or flax seeds) - These amazing fats fight inflammation, helping our bodies to more efficiently manage stressors and making the body’s stress response system more flexible and resilient.  Omega-3s help cells in the brain communicate better and protect neurons against the damage caused by high levels of stress hormones over a long period of time.