Orange Olive Oil Almond Cake

A few months ago I received a beautiful cookbook from a long-time, beloved BbGer. Every single recipe I’ve made from the Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook has been delicious and I love that they use only healthy ingredients! This Orange Olive Oil Almond Cake is no exception. Of course there’s a generous amount of sweetener and I don’t have all the special types of honey the authors recommend but as far as desserts go, this gluten-free treat is amazing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


The Syrup

1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey (I used regular)
2 cups water
1 navel orange cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices


The Cake

2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (I used 2% plain dairy)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated organic zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange slices, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the syrup is reduced by half, about 45 minutes.

Transfer the orange slices to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Continue simmering the syrup until it is reduced by half again, about 30 minutes (you should have about 3/4 cup left). Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a 10-inch spring-form pan with a nonstick cooking spray.

To make the batter, place the flour, baking powder, cardamon, salt, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to mix well. Add the olive oil, eggs, yogurt, orange zest and vanilla. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Poke lots of small holes in the cake with a toothpick. Pour 1/4 cup of the syrup over the cake then transfer the cake in the pan to a wire rack to cool.

After the cake has cooled, run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and open the spring-form pan. Place all the candied orange slices on top of the cake. Slice and serve with the remaining syrup.

Asian Salmon Bowl

Most of our BbG-ers agree that one of the best things about our group fitness classes, aside from the obvious benefit of staying strong, is the camaraderie with our fellow exercisers. We share stories, books, movies and recipes on a regular basis. Last week I overheard Peggy F. raving about a salmon recipe she’d enjoyed the night before. I asked for the link, stopped at the market on the way home and made this healthy and delicious salmon recipe that everyone at our table enjoyed.

Since it scored such high marks I’m sharing it with our readers. The recipe is from Skinnytaste. I’m sure you’ll love it too, especially because it’s pretty easy to make!


For the Salmon Bowl:

  • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced or julienned
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup sprouts such as broccoli
  • 1 strip nori, shredded (optional but a nice touch)
  • 16 ounces wild salmon, cut into 4 pieces
  • olive oil spray or brush pan lightly
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the Soy-Wasabi Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp low sodium Tamari
  • 2 tsp wasabi (I used a natural powder and added water)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat rice and keep warm.
  2. Season salmon with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Heat a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spray or brush the pan lightly with oil.
  3. When hot, sear salmon, about 2 – 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  4. Split rice into four bowls equally, 1/2 cup each.
  5. Top each bowl with 1/4 of the avocado, green onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds and sprouts.
  6. Place salmon on top of each bowl, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with shredded nori, if using.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Easy Dinner Of Sausage and Peppers For Busy Folks

Even though I’ve been an empty nester for quite some time, I still remember the hectic weekday nights of driving to kids’ activities and trying my best to serve a healthy meal to my brood. These days I enjoy experimenting with new recipes but I know many of us just don’t have the time for such luxuries!

The other night I was short on time so looked in the fridge to see what I had: lots of leftover bell peppers from some veggie rolls I’d made, a package of organic kale-balsamic chicken sausages, a sweet potato and an onion. I always have salad ingredients on hand; we eat a LOT of greens in this house.

The dinner was so easy to make and really tasty so I thought I’d share with you crazy-busy people!


2 bell peppers cut into thin strips—I used red and yellow

1 large onion, red or white, sliced thin

1 package organic chicken sausage without cheese

1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ disks, then sliced again into 1/4″ spears

Olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat the oven to 400º. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Add 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix to coat. Spread out in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes then move the potatoes around with a spatula. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove from oven when cooked through and slightly golden on edges.

Lower oven temperature to 350. Place sausages in a glass pie dish or other container big enough to hold them all. Cook for about 20 minutes, checking halfway through to rotate. Remove from oven.

While the sausages are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook, stirring often until soft, about 10 minutes.

Place sausages in the center of a large platter. Serve them whole or cut into smaller 1″ pieces. Make a circle around the sausages with the onions and peppers then add the sweet potatoes to complete the plate. A nice presentation adds a little fun to the meal!

Don’t forget to make a big salad to accompany your main dish. Add lots of greens, halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 avocado cut into chunks, thinly sliced red onion and even a few red grapes for a bit of sweetness – enjoy!


Delicious Butternut Pasta

Who doesn’t love the sweet, nutty taste of butternut squash? Oven roasted, pureed, or spiralized you can’t beat the taste of this sweet treat. An added bonus is the strong nutritional profile. One cup of cubed squash supplies us with tons of vitamins A and C, and a healthy dose of Magnesium, Vitamin B-6 and calcium too.

This little twist on the traditional pasta dish is delicious and nutritious!


  • 1-2 Butternut squash. Look for long, even squash. The big bulbous part can’t be used here. (see photo below)
  • 1/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti

Red Sauce

  •  1 twenty-eight-ounce can crushed tomatoes (Cento)
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


 Make The Sauce

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute until golden but not burnt.
  2. Turn heat down and carefully add tomatoes to pot. Stir to combine the salt, pepper, basil, oregano and sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for at least 30 minutes.

 Make the Vegan Cheese

Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until a fine meal is achieved. Store in fridge to keep fresh for several weeks.

Prepare and Cook the Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash. Cut the bottom round section off and save for another recipe (soup or roasted squash). Then cut the remaining large piece in half to make spiralizing easier. Here’s a great video with tips to help make the process easier.
  2. Spread the squash noodles in a single layer on 1 or 2 large baking sheets. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place squash in the oven for about 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven.

Cook The Whole Wheat Pasta

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes but check for doneness at 8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Add the squash noodles to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine.

Divide pasta mixture evenly among plates. Top with desired amount of sauce and sprinkle with “cheese.” Enjoy!


Pad Thai A New Way

Almost everyone loves Pad Thai but most of the time we have to go out to eat or order take-out to enjoy it. Why not try making it at home? This delicious recipe from Minimalist Baker replaces traditional rice noodles with carrot “noodles,” collard greens, thinly sliced bell pepper and cabbage. Talk about eating more plants! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating noodles for most of us but all these vegetables are loaded with tons of nutrients for your improved health! This recipe is fast and easy too.


  • 1/2 cup extra-firm tofu, excess liquid pressed out, crumbled with a fork
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce or 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, ends removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari, divided
  • 4-5 large carrots, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 6 collard greens, large stems removed, stacked and thinly sliced into ribbons (about 2 cups packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
FOR SERVING optional
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Red pepper flakes


1. If serving with tofu: Add tofu to a small mixing bowl and season with tamari, chili garlic sauce (or pepper flake), and turmeric. Stir and set aside.

2.  Add all sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onions, cabbage, bell pepper, and 1 Tablespoon tamari. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring and tossing frequently.

4. Add tofu to a corner of the pan and sauté until slightly browned, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes.

5. Add carrots and collard greens and remaining 1 Tablespoon tamari and stir. Sauté for 2 minutes.

6. Then add Pad Thai sauce and ginger.

7. Sauté over medium heat until warmed through and collards are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes,  stirring frequently.

8. Divide between serving plates and enjoy. Serve as is or with peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges. Serves 2 as an entrée or 4 as a side.