A sugar addict from Day One. – Ricki Heller
That’s the header to a section in Ricki Heller’s latest book, Living Candida-Free: Conquer the Hidden Epidemic that’s Making You Sick and I can so relate. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with all things sugary and sweet since I was a little kid – mindlessly ingesting Tootsie Rolls, polishing off rows of Oreos, and lusting after Hostess Ho-Hos or Suzie Qs. But Ricki’s experience with sugar (and other foods) was a bit different from mine. The food she was eating was causing both visible and invisible havoc on her body: rashes, sinus and yeast infections, depression, lack of energy. In her 30s, Ricki was diagnosed with candida and after many years of trial and error (discussed in detail in the book), she has developed a way of eating that has kept the symptoms of candida at bay.
In case you are unfamiliar with candida, here’s a short description of Candida Related Complex (CRC) from the FAQ page on Ricki’s site:
CRC is a condition that arises when someone has an overgrowth of yeast (usually candida albicans) in the body. Although candida usually coexists peacefully with other “good” bacteria in our digestive tracts and on our skin (it’s everywhere all the time) with no ill effects, when it has the opportunity to grow out of control, it can wreak havoc and cause a plethora of symptoms.
Some symptoms of CRC:
- fatigue, poor concentration
- “foggy” brain
- oral yeast infections
- vaginal yeast infections
- skin rashes
- poor sleep
An anti-candida diet (ACD) reduces the presence of yeast in the body by eliminating foods on which the candida yeast thrives – foods like sugar, fruit, and some nuts. It’s also recommended to go easy on beans and gluten-free grains. You can appreciate – especially if you are plant-based (which, after all, is also an elimination “diet”) – how complicated it can be to navigate an anti-candida diet! But thankfully for those who struggle with this issue, Ricki has done the heavy-lifting. With her latest book she presents us with delicious, healing food, both sweet and savory.
Living Candida-Free boasts 100 recipes plus Ricki’s 3-stage program, and it will quickly get you on track towards feeling good again. Here’s a quick look through the book:
Chapters 1-4 explain (in much greater detail than I have here) what candida is and ways to restore balance to your body – as well as give you strategies on how to succeed. Chapters 5 and 6 provide you with a pantry list for your ACD-friendly kitchen and give you ingredients substitutions. There are 15 “staple” recipes here – like nut/seed milks, sauces, veggie broth, catsup, and “butters” – that are the foundation of many of the recipes in Chapters 7-13. In these chapters, you’ll find smoothies, pancakes and waffles, scrambles, kale chips, soups, spreads, dips, salads, “roasts,” gnocchi, grains, fudge, cookies, puddings, parfaits, and truffles. I told you Ricki loves her sweets! Finally, Ricki shares her thoughts on a lifetime strategy for living candida-free.
But – Living Candida-Free isn’t just for those suffering from the symptoms of candida. Ricki’s recipes are 100% vegan, free of refined sweeteners, and are loaded with healthy whole foods, so it’s a wonderful cookbook for those looking to “clean up” their diet. My suggestion: start with Raw Cookie Dough Truffles cuz the recipe is below! (And be sure to visit Ricki’s site for loads of other recipes, including her beautiful Marbled Matcha-Lemon Raw Cheesecake which fits nicely into just about any “diet” you can name.)
A big thank you to Ricki and Da Capo Press Lifelong Books for providing me with a copy to review.
Connect with Ricki:
Other books by Ricki:
- Naturally Sweet and Gluten-free
- Sweet Freedom
- + 5 digital cookbooks
- 1 cup (240 ml) well-cooked and drained chickpeas or white beans
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut sugar (see note)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) smooth natural seed or nut butter (I use almond butter)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract, or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla powder
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) pure stevia powder, or 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) vanilla or chocolate-flavored pure liquid stevia, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) coconut flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (37.5 ml) unflavored or vanilla raw protein powder (pea or rice)
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) plain or vanilla unsweetened almond milk or other allowed nondairy milk or more, as needed
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) homemade carob or chocolate chips or cacao nibs
- (optional; makes enough for about 15 truffles)
- 1/4 cup (30 g) raw cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) coconut oil
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 to 1 ml) pure stevia powder, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1 to 2.5 ml) pure liquid stevia
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla powder, or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a food processor, process the chickpeas, coconut sugar, seed butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and stevia until very smooth. Add the coconut flour, protein powder, salt, and milk and process until the mixture comes together in a very soft dough. Stir in the chips by hand; don’t process again.
- As a snack, you can eat the dough right away.
- For truffles, scoop about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the dough at a time and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze until just firm, then roll into balls. For un-coated truffles, store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze. If coating in chocolate, return the truffles to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate coating.
- Place a medium-size metal or heatproof glass bowl over a small pot containing about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of simmering water (be sure that the bowl is big enough to cover the pot, and that it isn’t actually touch-ing the water). Place the coating ingredients in the bowl and stir frequently until everything is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pot and turn off the heat.
- Place a ball on a fork and dip into the chocolate, allow-ing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Tap the fork against the top of the bowl so that excess chocolate drips through the tines and back into the bowl. Slide the ball off the fork and back onto the cookie sheet, and repeat to coat the remaining balls. Return the cookie sheet to the freezer to chill just until firmed up. You may repeat the dipping process for a thicker chocolate coating. Store in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. May be frozen.
- Note: For Stage 1, omit the coconut sugar and use more stevia, to taste.
- From Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2015.
CARROT CAKE ENERGY BITES