Grain-Free Chocolate Protein Bites (Vegan, Sugar-Free, Paleo & Candida-Friendly)

Gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, candida chocolate protein balls on

[Protein bites, two ways: ACD Stage 1 (no fruit) on the left; with fruit on the right.]

Like so many teenaged girls, my idol growing up was my older sister.  I wanted to be just like The Nurse. She was tall (I was fairly short), lean and slim (I was chubby), with naturally blonde hair (mine was boring brown) that fell past her waist and swished across the back of her peasant tops and jeans, especially when she rushed to the door to greet her hippie boyfriend. She painted little pink flowers on her cheekbone right below her eyelashes; she wore turquoise eyeliner and shimmery coral lipstick; and she cut the labels off her designer jeans just to prove she was anti-establishment. I never knew what she and her hip 60′s friends were up to when they gathered in her bedroom in the basement, giggles and guffaws wafting through the closed door as I sat and watched Little House on the Prairie–but whatever it was, I knew it was cool.

So, naturally, when I hit puberty and immediately decided I was too fat and needed to go on a diet, I consulted first with The Nurse.

“Start the day with a bowl of cornflakes and skim milk,” she advised. “Then, for lunch at school, have the soup of the day with an orange. For dinner, eat salad and a piece of chicken or some tuna. Oh, and NO SNACKS.”

Candida diet, sugar-free, gluten-free vegan chocolate protein bites on

That last one really got me. I was used to eating snacks at recess, after school, while watching TV. . .  I figured lunch would be easy, since I volunteered at the school cafeteria and was provided a free lunch as compensation. Looking back, I realize I could have chosen anything from the buffet (which, at that time, was more like Jamie Oliver’s vision of school lunch than what most schools actually offer today)–but no, I was determined to lose all the weight, so I focused on my sister’s directive: soup and an orange. When I got home from school around 3:30 PM, ravenous and in need of energy to complete my homework, I ignored my body’s signals and adhered strictly to the diet. My mantra became “NO SNACKS.” By dinnertime, I was ready to wrestle a wolverine for a portion of salad and chicken or tuna.**

But wow, the weight sure did fall off. I lost about 20 pounds in a month. I also started feeling lethargic and depressed. And then I had no energy to see my friends, or really do anything else except keep up with school work and maintain my diet. And then . . . I lost my period. But hey, I was finally able to fit into those red bell bottoms that I really loved.

Grainfree, sugarfree, candida diet Vegan Chocolate Protein Balls on

When I look back on those days (and pretty much all of my twenties and thirties), I’m kind of amazed at how much dieting ruled my life. Nowadays, of course, with my knowledge of holistic nutrition and having spent virtually years of my life on diets that didn’t work, I’ve come to believe that our bodies do generally let us know when things are going well (or not).  What I thought was “fat” all those years was actually really pretty normal, and I wasted a lot of energy worrying about how I looked when I could have been enjoying my life. (I also developed some pretty dysfunctional eating habits, many of which I’m still working to correct all these years later).

Fast forward to today, and I no longer restrict my food  as long as it’s safe for the ACD; I don’t count calories, points, carbs, or fat grams. Another thing I’ve learned is that healthy eating isn’t about restrictions or deprivation (in fact, I consider the ACD to be health-promoting, not “restrictive”). I try to remember that just because you enjoy your food doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. I’m definitely not perfect, but I’m committed to the process, and I celebrate the fact that I’m way ahead of where I was six years ago, when I first started the diet. In fact, these days, I’m probably the one dispensing nutrition advice to The Nurse instead of the other way around (though she doesn’t listen to my advice, either).

In other words, in my world, snacks are JUST FINE. If chosen judiciously, they may even be an essential component of a balanced diet for some people.

I made these protein balls with a sample I received of NuNaturals Nustevia Cocoa Syrup, a stevia-sweetened chocolate syrup that’s just as thick and chocolatey as the canned one I remember from my childhood. I loved the syrup over ice cream and in myriad other ways (like smoothies, fudge, cookies, or even over pancakes. . . ), too, but it worked particularly well in these bites. Like other NuNaturals products that I love, I have no doubt that this syrup will become a staple in my kitchen, too.

I may still wish I were slimmer than I am, but I’ll no longer eliminate healthy snacks or major food groups to get there.  And when I’m craving chocolate that won’t mess with my blood sugar, I reach for these chocolatey treats.

Sugar-free, candida diet chocolate protein bites recipe on

** Okay, not really. I’m scared of wild animals. But I definitely threw one of my sisters to the ground once in a while.

“Mum, we’re so glad you approve of snacks throughout the day. So, isn’t it about time for another treat? We promise not to wrestle you for it.”

Elsie and Chaser on

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Grain-Free Vegan: An Oxymoron?

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[Grain-based and grain-free coexisting in harmony. Clockwise from top: pumpkin seeds, whole millet grain, millet flour, oat flour, almond flour, whole almonds, walnuts, and rolled oats in the center. Sprinkled with goji berries and pumpkin seeds on the burlap.]

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you’ve likely heard of the Paleo diet. (See what I did there? Heh heh.).  In its “pure” form, Paleo is the very antithesis of a vegan diet, eschewing many vegan staples such as grains, legumes, and soy products (really just another legume). Similarly, other popular diets that limit or remove grains (and often legumes as well) include GAPS, AIP, SCD and others.

These diets are decidedly not vegan by nature. Remove grains, and you ostensibly remove a huge component of any common vegan diet. Ginny Messina, RD and JL Fields, in their wonderful book Vegan For Her, recommend 4+ servings of grains per day, for instance.

I’m here neither to defend nor diss any of these approaches. Instead, I’d like to address both the pros and cons of eating grains, whether grain-free is a viable option for vegans, and whether grain-free can fit comfortably into a vegan anti-candida diet.

The first time I was diagnosed with candida back in 1999, the diet hadn’t yet evolved to the point that it forbade all grains. In fact, many people still ate whole wheat bread, thinking it was  a healthier option to refined white bread. By the time I’d begun my second round of the diet in 2009, my naturopath prescribed a period without most grains for the first two to four months.  As a baker and dessert lover, I knew immediately that it would be a difficult transition for me (to say the least!).

Continue reading Grain-Free Vegan: An Oxymoron?. . .


Raw Key Lime Pie from the Choosing Raw Cookbook


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Grain-Free Hazelnut Biscotti with Cinnamon Glaze

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[Hazelnut Biscotti with Cinnamon Glaze are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free,  yeast-free, and low glycemic. Suitable for Stage 2 and beyond on an anti-candida diet.] Okay, a mini-survey. Please answer the following: Q. When was the last time you were able to sit and relax with nothing to do except daydream and […]

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Watermelon Gazpacho & The Blender Girl Cookbook Review!

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[Watermelon Gazpacho from The Blender Girl cookbook is vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut-free, yeast-free and suitable for Stage 3 and beyond on an anti-candida diet.] There’s a new cookbook out that’s been causing all kinds of buzz. If you listen closely, you might hear it. . . it sounds like a […]

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Anti-Inflammatory Latte

recipe for vegan, candida diet, gluten-free, sugar-free anti-candida latte

[Anti-inflammatory latte is a rich-tasting, comforting hot or cold beverage that's vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free,  yeast-free, low glycemic and suitable for all stages on an anti-candida diet.] Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that the HH and I live with two dogs, Elsie and Chaser […]

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9 Common Herbs & Spices that Reduce Inflammation

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[You can fight inflammation with common ingredients from your own kitchen. Here's a list of the top nine anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, plus some of my favorite recipes using them.] You may think that “inflammation” only occurs after a bee sting, when you scald your hand on a hot pot, or when you unwittingly walk […]

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100 Healthy Vegan, Gluten-Free, Whole Foods Summer Salads!

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Herbed Chickpea Oven “Fries” with Avocado-Garlic Aioli

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[Chickpea Oven Fries are vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free and perfect for any stage of the anti-candida diet.] Have you ever heard of “spoonbread“? When I was a kid, it was one of my dad’s favorite weekend breakfasts, and my mother made it often. Basically (in our house, at least), spoonbread […]

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Spotlight on Spuds: Should You Eat Potatoes?

Are potatoes okay on an anti-candida diet?

[Should white potatoes be included in an anti-candida--or any healthy--diet? Here are the pros and cons of eating potatoes, their effect on blood sugar balance, and other considerations before you take a bite.] [The humble potato: dietary friend or foe?] It’s finally summer (hallelujah!) and people’s minds are turning to BBQs, picnics and other outdoor […]

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