Slow Cooker Apple Spiced Pork Chops

Hey, hey Friends!

Who’s ready for the big Thanksgiving feast that’s right around the corner?


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Me too Jon Snow, me too.

If you haven’t started defrosting your turkey, this is your friendly reminder to check defrosting times based on the weight of your bird. Because you don’t want to be THAT guy/girl who messes up the turkey on Thanksgiving. Not that I know anything about that.


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You can check out this guide for safe thawing instructions from the USDA.

This year, Matt and I are driving down to Southern California to visit his family for the holiday, so no cooking for me! Sometimes it’s fun to be the guest and not the host, but I will miss the excitement of coordinating the kitchen just a TEENY bit. I’m sure a little wine will fix that.


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After the big day, we’re driving out to the desert with the family, friends, dirt bikes and quads for a little fun. I can’t wait!

But before we head out and everyone gets lost in the festivities, I wanted to share a brand new recipe to tide you over after all the Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone. And best of all, the only work involved is adding a few ingredients to your slow cooker and letting it do all the work for you, leaving you with more time to spend with your loved ones.

Simply combine two bone-in pork chops with diced apples, warm spices, a little maple syrup and broth, then set on low overnight or throughout the day. When you’re ready to eat, the meat just falls off the bone and melts right in your mouth. Mouthgasm.


Slow Cooker Apple-Spiced Pork Chops

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 8 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • salt, garlic powder, pepper – to taste
  • 4 apples, diced (I used Gala apples) *
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup

Other Tools Needed:

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large plate
  • Slow cooker (aka crockpot)
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon


Start by dicing the apples and onion, then set half of each inside the crockpot. Reserve the remaining apples and onions and set aside.

Take the pork chops and season them with the salt, garlic powder and a little pepper. Then place them on top of the pile in the crockpot, and top with the remaining apples and onions. Pour the chicken broth over the whole thing, and sprinkle the spices on top. Lastly, drizzle the maple syrup and give it a little stir. Leave the slow cooker on low for about 7 – 8 hours and then it should be ready to go!


**Notes: I left the skin on the apples and enjoyed it very much, but I can understand why some would want to peel the apples before dicing. Whatever your preference is will work just fine. This can be served with almost any side dish, but a starch would work wonders here. I served my slow cooker pork with roasted Japanese sweet potato, Satsumaimo (not pictured). The combination was phenomenal!


That’s all I have for now, folks! Whether you’re keeping it paleo this holiday or not, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving with the people that matter most to you.

Cave Girl out.






A Paleo Take on African Beef & Nut Stew (Mafé)

I first heard about Mafé from a coworker a few years ago. She described this rich African stew that her kids would go crazy for, made with a special ingredient that she knew I would be crazy for –  peanut butter. 

Peanut butter! I know what you’re thinking…please, go on.

Mafé originated from West Africa, specifically from the Bambara people of Mali, and is also referred to as domodah or tigadegena, which literally means ‘peanut butter sauce’. Traditionally speaking, the dish is prepared as a stew with beef, lamb, chicken or seafood, starchy vegetables, peanut butter and spices, then served with rice, cassava or plantains.

With my version of Mafé, I swapped out the peanut butter with almond butter, making it paleo friendly and safe for anyone with a peanut allergy. I’ve also used ground meat and reduced the liquid in this dish to make more of a chili rather than a stew, being that it doesn’t quite feel like stew weather here in sunny California. This can easily be changed back to a stew by using beef stew meat, chicken or another choice of protein, and adding more water or broth in the recipe, which I will address in the notes. I also felt like this dish is so hearty and rich on its own, it didn’t necessarily need to be paired with a starch. I simply served it over a bed of romaine lettuce instead, and it was stop-you-in-your-tracks type of good.


Matt and I had no problem eating it for lunches and dinners for a whole week!

So, without further ado, here is the #cavegirlapproved version of my new favorite dish, Mafé.

African Beef & Nut Stew (Mafé)

  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Time: Approx. 30 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef (ground turkey works beautifully here as well)
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste (I used about a tsp. of salt)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 can organic, diced tomatoes, 14.oz can (BPA free, if available)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup creamy, unsalted almond butter, *see notes
  • One head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Toppings: slivered or crushed almonds, optional

Other Tools Needed:

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large skillet
  • Measuring spoons & cups


Warm the oil in a large skillet over low heat and add the onion.


Season with a little salt and pepper and saute until the onions are translucent. Turn the stove up to medium heat, and add the ground meat to the skillet in small chunks.


Let the meat brown, while seasoning it with a little more salt and pepper. After the meat has browned, turn the heat down low and add the spices, the canned tomatoes, and the water and give it a few good stirs to mix the spices with the meat and sauce. Then, add the diced potato and stir in the tomato paste.


Cover this and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Once the potatoes are soft and the spices have developed a little, turn the heat off and stir in the almond butter.


Serve hot, over a bed of romaine lettuce.

**Notes: As mentioned before, I prepared this dish more as a chili rather than a stew. You can add more water and reduce the tomato paste to give it the stew like consistency. If preparing as a stew, I would serve it alone (no romaine lettuce), or over cauliflower rice. Also, please be sure to taste test after mixing in the almond butter and adjust the liquid, spices or almond butter as needed. I found with the ground turkey version, I needed to use a little more almond butter to really elevate the taste.

A small portion of this dish goes a long way! Dig in, my fellow almond butter addicts.


Cave girl out.


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Dairy Free Peach & Coconut Creamsicles

Well hello there!

Sunday June 21st marked the very first day of summer. Hallelujah and praise the lord, we made it to my favorite season of the year! I’m talking about long, sunny days filled with BBQ’s, hangouts at the beach, camping with friends and family – the possibilities are endless. It also means it’s socially acceptable to wear flip flops pretty much everywhere, and ice cream counts as a meal any time the thermostat reaches at least 90 degrees!

Wait, what?

Okay, fine, that last part isn’t exactly true, but who doesn’t love a cold treat on a hot day? Everyone does. Everyone!


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Even Ron Swanson.

I was no exception. But instead of racing off to the local fro-yo shop and enduring hours of dairy induced pain and associated sugar high, I decided to make some dairy free homemade frozen treats. It was perfect timing because I had just been given a big bag of fresh peaches from a friend’s tree, but they were soft and bruised from transport. Not stable enough for baked goods (like my peach empanadas from last summer), but perfect for blending down and making some delicious popsicles.

Or as I like to call them…creamsicles.

Utilizing coconut milk and honey for a sweet cream base, and mixing in the blended peaches, these peachy, coconut creamsicles were born.



Each creamsicle is sweet and refreshing, with bright and bold peach flavors up front and hints of luxurious coconut cream in the finish. It makes you want to stop everything you’re doing, sit on the front porch and just enjoy the moment until the very last drop.

Dairy Free Peach & Coconut Creamsicles

  • Servings: 8 creamsicles
  • Time: 10 min prep time, set overnight
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 cups of yellow peaches, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 can coconut cream – I use Thai Kitchen
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Other Tools Needed:

  • Your favorite chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups
  • Medium size saucepan
  • Blender or food processor
  • Can opener
  • (2) 4 slot popsicle molds & 8 popsicle sticks (pictured below). Mine are from Target.


Peel and dice your peaches until you have about 4 cups, then blend in your blender or food processor until smooth. If you prefer to enjoy your creamsicles with bits whole peaches, use the pulse option instead. Set the blended peaches aside when you’ve reached the desired consistency.


Open the can of coconut milk* and scoop out about half of the thick coconut cream from the can.


Combine the coconut cream, honey and vanilla in the saucepan and heat on low for a few minutes. Do not let this boil, we just want to heat it up slightly.*

Mix the peaches and sweet cream together and then pour into the popsicle molds. You may have a little leftover – perfect for a smoothie!


Let the creamsicles set in the freezer overnight. You may need to run them under hot water for about 30 seconds before attempting to pull them out of the molds and enjoying them.


  • Be sure to let your can of coconut milk chill in the refrigerator the night before you make this recipe. This helps thicken the coconut cream at the top of the can, which is the part you want to use for this recipe.
  • If you want less of a coconut taste, heat the blended peaches, honey and vanilla together then mix in with the coconut milk. Heating the coconut milk intensifies the flavor, but I know some people are sensitive to a strong coconut flavor. Adjust the recipe to your liking!


Hope these help you stay cool in the heat!

Until next time,


Triple Threat Mixed Berry & Chicken Salad

Do you tend to have a love/hate relationship with big, green salads? Maybe veering towards the hate side?

Like when you’ve decided you’re going to start eating healthier, and you proudly choose the salad option instead of the big, greasy cheeseburger with those sweet potato fries that you love so much.

But you secretly really want the burger.

You’re still looking forward to eating something that will make you feel good and hope this will help drop a few pounds in time for summer. But when your salad comes to the table, you’re staring down at a bowl full of half wilted leaves, a few measly julienne carrots and a handful of tasteless cherry tomatoes. Feeling deflated and disappointed in your choice, you choke it down while adding too much salad dressing. Day after day, you continue to choke down similar lifeless salad bowls because that’s what it means to be healthy, right?


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It doesn’t take long before you’re reverting back to some of your previous bad eating habits. But wait! Before you throw in the towel on your healthy eating endeavors, consider this –

Food should be fun, delicious and sustaining – 100% of the time. You should be able to enjoy your meals, savoring each bite while knowing you’re giving yourself something that satisfies the body and the taste buds,

And guess what.

I do believe I’ve found that kind of satisfaction…in a salad. Who would have thought? There ARE salads out there that actually taste good!

This “triple threat” salad, as I like to call it, features chopped romaine lettuce, sliced organic strawberries, luscious blackberries, dried cranberries, roasted sunflower seeds and slivered almonds. It’s topped with strips of chicken breast baked with fresh thyme, then drizzled with a simple, tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet and salty, yet light and refreshing – perfect for a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.


It’s probably one of the best salad bowls I’ve ever laid my hands on.


This salad is just what you need sweeten your plate, making you look forward to lunch time, every time. Care to have a change of heart yet?

Triple Threat Mixed Berry & Chicken Salad

  • Servings: 2 entrees or 4 sides
  • Time: 35 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Baked Thyme Chicken Breast Ingredients:

  • (2) chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • (2) tsp. thyme
  • olive oil for drizzling

Triple Threat Mixed Berry Salad Ingredients:

  • (1) head romaine lettuce
  • (2) cups sliced strawberries
  • (1) cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened
  • (2) tbsp. roasted sesame seeds, salted or unsalted
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin, organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • (2) tsp. honey (can be omitted if on a sugar detox or Whole30 program)
  • (1) clove garlic diced OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • dash of black pepper

Other Tools Needed:

  • Ceramic baking dish with lid, OR shallow glass baking dish
  • Cutting board
  • Your favorite chef’s knife
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Large salad bowl
  • Empty mason jar with lid


Preheat the oven to 375°(F) / 190°(C) and season each side of the chicken breasts with the salt, pepper and thyme. Drizzle each breast with a little olive oil and place inside of the ceramic dish. Bake for 15 min uncovered, and 15 min covered.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Wash the lettuce and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the romaine lettuce horizontally on the cutting board and slice the lettuce into strips, approximately every half inch apart. Place leaves into a large salad bowl and set aside.

Hull the strawberries (remove the stems), and slice lengthwise to make thin slices. Toss those into the bowl with the romaine lettuce and set aside again. Then, take the blackberries and cut them in half, and toss those into the salad bowl as well. Add the dried cranberries, roasted sunflower seeds and almonds to the bowl and use your hands to mix the salad together again.


Next, you’ll want to prepare your balsamic vinaigrette. Use an empty mason jar, or any jar/container with a lid and add all the vinaigrette ingredients in the order listed above. The key to this dressing is to make it to taste. If you think the honey will make it too sweet for your tastes, you can omit it, or use a smaller amount. At the same token, you can always add more. The same idea goes with the other ingredients. You can also add some fresh herbs if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. Once you have it adjusted to your taste, put the lid on the jar and give it a nice shake. Voila! Instead homemade vinaigrette.

When the chicken is done baking, let the breasts rest for a few minutes before slicing them into strips. Then, place the strips over the salad and serve with your homemade balsamic vinaigrette.


I bet this would be great with some feta sprinkled on top as well!

I hope this changes your mind about salads. The trick is to find food combinations that make YOU happy and your body healthy.

That just about wraps it up, folks. I hope you have an awesome weekend with sunshine and good food!

Happy Eating,


Grain Free Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Monday! Sorry, too soon?

I know it’s THAT DAY of the week, and we’re all coming off our weekend high, but I’ve been dying to share this recipe for chocolate chip cookies with you guys! You see, I’m a strong believer that everyone should have a few go-to, classic recipes under their belt, that they can whip up quickly when the occasion calls for it. Chocolate chip cookies definitely fall in that category, and I was incredibly disappointed in myself when I discovered last weekend that I did not have my own chocolate chip cookie recipe. What the heck, Stephanie?

So I got to work, using almond butter as a base (because, duh. Almond Butter = Love). My first version came out too dry and crispy – I wanted more of a soft, chewy and gooey type of cookie. A few more tweaks later, we were back in business! However, I had to laugh when I looked at the final ingredients list. I basically made my brownies into cookie form, minus the cocoa powder. Ha! Oh well, now you have a brownie and a cookie recipe that you can use fairly interchangeably. Less ingredients to remember, right?

Two birds, one stone. I swear, I’m only thinking of you guys.

I sent off a batch with Matt when he drove down south to surprise his mom for Mother’s Day, and they were mother approved. Success.


What else is happening in the cave?

In the Crossfit world, I’m super excited about the new Crossfit Invictus programming at my local box, CrossFit 580. We’re really focusing on form and technique right now, and I’m already seeing a ton of improvements on my Oly lifts. I love that moment when something just clicks in your head, and you’re finally able to execute something that you’ve really been struggling with.

CrossFit Regional events started last weekend! Have you started watching them yet? You can catch up here. I may have skipped my actual crossfit workout, and watched these instead, but that’s neither here nor there. Matt and I went for a 4 mile run through Livermore in place of hitting the box, and it felt wonderful to get out there and hit the pavement for a change.

In other news, I found a few things on the ‘net that I wanted to share.

First, StandUpKids is on a mission to provide standing workstations to all public schools in 10 years. Now that’s a mission I can support. Read more about their mission here, and how you can help here. Hey Corporate America, when are you going to catch on??

I made a slightly modifiied version of this honey mustard chicken and potato dish from Kim and Amanda at PaleoSchmaleo. Instead of cooking the potatoes and chicken together, I baked the chicken in my own homemade honey mustard (honey + dijon mustard + olive oil, to taste), and made mashed sweet potatoes on the side. It was SO GOOD. This will be rotated in the weekly menu planning on a regular basis from now on.

I finally caved (hehe) and bought a veggie spiralizer from Bed Bath & Beyond. Shh, I know I’m like, 3 years too late on this, but I can’t wait to zoodle the crap out of some zucchini tonight. It’s about to go down.

I’ve been on a reading kick, and Matt suggested this book he’s listening to on Audible, about the power of habits in our lives. I can’t wait to dig into this.

Okay Stephanie, get to the cookies already. 


Grain Free Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: Approx. 20 cookies
  • Time: 20-25 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Paleo friendly, grain/gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.

**Contains eggs & nuts.**


  • (1) cup. crunchy almond butter (creamy also works)
  • (2) eggs
  • (1) cup. coconut sugar
  • (1) tsp. baking soda, aluminum free (TraderJoe’s has one!
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • (1) cup dark chocolate chips (I love TJ’s semi-sweet morsels, or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Other Tools Needed:

  • Any type of electric, hand or stand mixer / or a good ‘ol fashion mixing bowl & spoon.
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups
  • Large spoon
  • Cookie baking sheet
  • Parchment paper


Preheat your oven to 350°(F) / 177°(C). Start by putting the almond butter in the mixing bowl, and give it a few whirls. Add the eggs and coconut sugar and mix on medium speed until you’ve reached a batter like consistency. Add the baking soda and the sea salt and continue to mix for another 15 seconds. Scrape the bowl and mix on low for another 20 seconds. Once you’re satisfied with the cookie batter, fold in the chocolate chips and set in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to set the batter, making it easier to handle. If you don’t have time for that, no biggie, your batter will just a little more runny and harder to form.

When the batter is ready, use the large spoon to scoop out about 1 tablespoon of batter. You can eyeball it. Use your hands to roll out little balls of batter and place them on the parchment covered baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake at 350°(F) / 177°(C) for about 10-12 minutes, and then let cool for about 15 minutes.


The cookies will rise a lot in the oven, but will fall into place as they’re cooling. I pressed in some extra chocolate chips on top of the cookies when they were fresh out of the oven, and really liked the appearance of the addition.


3 batches were made, some were given away as gifts, and the rest were up to the mercy of myself, Matt, and the roommates. Needless to say, these did NOT last long in the house.


Sorry, I just ruined your “crap, it’s almost summer and I need to look good in a bikini” diet.

…and…you’re welcome.

** evil grin **

Happy Eating,


Roasted Cabbage Wedges

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with nonstop activities! In April, we celebrated my little sister’s 25th birthday, Matt was a groomsman in a wedding, we went to a three day country music festival in southern California called Stagecoach, and best of all…I picked up and moved myself back to wine country in good ‘ol Livermore, CA.

It’s been crazy ya’ll.

Stagecoach was seriously one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long time.


We went with a group of about 20 people and 3 RV’s, and “glamped” onsite Thursday-Monday of the festival week. Such a fun group to hang with all weekend!


The RV campsite was a blast as well, and we made a ton of new friends. There were hundreds of people hanging out and playing cornhole, ladder ball, football, and various camping games during the day, and then trekking off to the music area for the shows from midday to night.


We saw Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and ZZ Top (my favorite), amongst a ton of other great artists. We even got up close and personal with a few of the big artists.


Ha! Okay, maybe we didn’t get any official meet and greet time with the celebrities, but it was still a great time. Even if you aren’t a huge country fan, there’s no way you can have a bad time there. We’ll definitely be back next year, so if you make arrangements to go, make sure you look for me!

In the midst of all the fun activities in April, I came across a great opportunity to move myself back to my old stomping grounds in Livermore. I love this up-and-coming city, situated in beautiful wine country, and I’m really excited to be back here. Not to mention, all the gas money I’m saving since I no longer have to commute back and forth between here and my old hometown of San Ramon. My roommates are some friends from my Crossfit box, and it’s been so much fun with them so far. I have a great feeling about this new chapter I’ve started. Good things are happening, people!

As of this morning, I finally unpacked the last box at the house and feel totally settled. It’s such a relief not having a bunch of boxes everywhere, scrambling to look for items, and trying to figure out where all my things are.

 *Cue sigh of relief *

I’ve been saving this this recipe for you, if you can even call it such a thing. It’s the easiest thing in the world, requires about 5 minutes of effort and only has 4 ingredients. Now that’s my kind of recipe.

The star ingredient in this dish is the often overlooked cruciferous vegetable, brassica oleracea, also known as cabbage.


Cabbage isn’t terribly exciting and usually requires a little effort to make into a pleasant dish, due to it’s tough leaves. It’s most often made into coleslaw, found on the tables of summertime barbecues and parties.

Speaking of, have you tried my tomato citrus coleslaw yet?


No? You’re in luck, because you can find the recipe here.

So besides a nice ‘slaw, what are other ways you can enjoy your cabbage without spending hours over the stove, boiling down those tough leaves?

Let me tell you about roasted cabbage. First off, it’s amazing. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Roasting it makes it slightly crispy on the outside, with a nice caramelized, almost nutty flavor. Once you bite into a wedge of roasted cabbage, the inside is soft and tender, as if it had been boiled for hours.

But you didn’t spend hours…you spent approximately 25 minutes. Boom.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges


  • (1) head of green cabbage
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sea salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste

Other Tools Needed:

  • Your favorite chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Roasting pan


Preheat the oven to 400°(F) / 200° (C). Cut the head of cabbage into 8 small wedges, and place them on the roasting pan.


Season the wedges generously with the sea salt, pepper and garlic and then drizzle with olive oil. Roast these in the oven for about 20 minutes, when the outside layers start to brown a little.


You can slice right into these with a fork and knife, or you can do it the fun way and grab it with your hands and take a bite right out. Your choice.


‘Til next time!


Jaxson’s Story + Chocolate Banana Brownies with Almond Butter Swirl

Hi Friends,

There are SO many things to catch up on, I wasn’t quite sure how to begin this post. I must have rewritten this a dozen times, until I finally decided to just start with the truth.

And then give you chocolate, so stick around.

But the truth is, I couldn’t even think about writing this post until this very day, Sunday March 15th. Until now, I couldn’t force myself to sit down and put the whole story down, from beginning to end, without disappearing in a pool of tears.

I’m talking about Jaxson, my handsome 10 month old Pitbull mix, and the last few months that I had with him. I had originally introduced Jaxson and his story last year, posted here. Shortly after that post was written, Jaxson’s health declined severely overnight, and he was rushed to the E.R. He was then diagnosed with gastroesophageal intussusception, in addition to the megaesophagus. Jaxson went through surgery immediately to remove his spleen and stomach from inside of his esophagus, pinning the organs back in place. He recovered SO well, and even the symptoms from his megaesophagus seemed to be less of an issue than before.

3 days in the ER without Mom = lots of kisses!
3 days in the ER, without Mom = lots of kisses!

Jaxson Post Surgery

Until January. This is the rest of his story.

2015 started off pretty rocky for Jaxson. Being the mischievous little guy that he was, he found ways to get into and eat things that he wasn’t supposed to be eating. For a normal dog, this probably wouldn’t be a huge deal. It might cause an upset tummy for a day or so, and then all would be well. For Jaxson, this set off periods of a very inflamed esophagus and digestive track, with him constantly regurgitating his food and water. It was an ongoing struggle to keep weight on him, keep him hydrated, and maintain his overall health. I had to get creative with his feeding schedule, switching from 3 small meals to 4 smaller meals. I played around with the consistency of his food as well, from soup like meals to blending his food and making dog food meatballs, and so on.

Jaxson’s Jello helped keep water down
Elevated feedings, aka puppy in a can!

Jaxson eventually grew out of the “puppy in can” method, so Matt and I took a weekend and made him a bailey chair (like the chairs you see here). The Bailey chair keeps him upright during and after a feeding, using gravity to help pull the food down to the stomach.


Despite all of the regurgitation, experimentation, and a countless sleepless nights, Jaxson acted like a normal, happy puppy. Sure, there were a days that I knew he was uncomfortable. But 90% of the time he was active and playful, wagging his tail and being his adorable, lovable self. That was my boy, he was such a trooper!



I thought we would eventually get through this weird period of constant sickness. We made some progress here and there, but it seemed that for every step we took forward, something would happen and we took another two steps backwards. But during the first week of February, things got even worse. The regurgitation became so constant, that more food was coming out than staying in. In two weeks and a few vet stays later, Jaxson had lost over 10 lbs. and almost nothing was working to keep food and water down.

On Friday, February 13th at about 2:30am, Jaxson started throwing up blood and was rushed to the vet. The next 10 hours were the most painful, miserable, devastating hours for both Jaxson and I. He was in so much pain, the medications weren’t working, and our options were very limited because of how fragile he was. I was prepared to do anything, spend anything, commit to any type of routine, just to make him better again. I waited at home while they ran tests to figure out what was happening in that little body of his. I finally received a call from our veterinarian, Dr. Sandy Block, from Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital. They did everything they could, but simply put, Jaxson’s organs were failing and he was dying. I had to make the hardest decision of my life.

At approximately 12:30pm on that Friday afternoon, Jaxson passed away in my arms.

There are no words to describe the devastation I felt from losing Jaxson, and the guilt that comes with making that kind of decision. I’m sure anyone who has put down a pet can relate to those feelings.

I received the autopsy results later that evening, and was reassured that the right decision had been made. Jaxson didn’t deserve to suffer any longer.

Jaxson Email

We were so lucky to have Sandy Block, as well as the rest of the staff at Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, throughout this whole process. They were so caring and attentive to Jaxson, making him as comfortable as he could have been during each visit, and also at the end.

I am also so very grateful for my incredible boyfriend, Matt.


Matt and I started dating shortly after I first brought Jaxson home, and has been there for us through every step of this journey. He was my rock when I was feeling stressed, overwhelmed and hopeless over Jaxson’s condition. Most importantly, he was there for all the special, happy moments in Jaxson’s life. He loved Jaxson just as much as I did, and Jaxson loved him equally back.

JaxsonHike Matt&Jaxson

I miss my sweet little boy every single day. I miss the way he would come prancing around the corner when I came home from work, ears up, looking like the happiest little puppy alive. I miss his snuggles, his puppy kisses, and the way he would bop his nose against mine, as if he was reassuring me that he was okay.





It’s been the hardest month without him. But it does get easier every day.

So what now?

Jaxson’s health conditions required a lot of research on how to care for a dog with special needs. I learned that megaesophagus in dogs is not rare, and there are so many resources out there for families who are dealing with the same issue. Jaxson’s case was severe, and his other health problems contributed to the overall decline in health. But there are so many dogs with MegaE that live a normal, happy life because their owners learn how to manage it. It can be tough at times, but these dogs deserve a shot at life, just like any other dog. If you have the time and ability, I ask you to put aside a few minutes and look into the following individuals and organizations who are dedicated to helping the animals and families affected by MegaE.

  • Bailey Chairs for Dogs – Susan and her husband build and sell bailey chairs for dogs with megaE. Through the help of donations, they also donate chairs to families who are unable to buy one on their own.
  • Canine Megesophagus Org. – A great resource for people looking for information and support.
  • Canine Megesophagus Info – Another great “one stop shop” for information, resources and support.
  • Wag Tail Farms – They make customized, soft Elizabethan collars, or neck pillows, for animals. This can be very helpful for keeping an animal with MegaE in a comfortable, supported position while sleeping.

Matt and I are planning on donating Jaxson’s bailey chair to a family in need, and customizing it to fit the special pooch. Due to the size of the chair and costs involved in shipping or personally transporting it, we would prefer the family be in California. If you, or anyone you know, are in need of a Bailey chair, please contact me at with the dog’s measurements.

Thanks for reading Jaxson’s story and following along on our journey. I promised chocolate at the end of the story, and I definitely don’t want to disappoint. Plus, everyone knows that brownies heal the heart. I’m pretty sure that’s science right there.


Chocolate Banana Brownies with Almond Butter Swirl

  • Servings: Approx. 20 brownies
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • (1) 16. oz jar creamy, unsalted, roasted almond butter, with 3 tbsp. divided from the rest (for the swirl).
  • (1) cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder, divided
  • (1) tsp. instant espresso
  • (2) eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • (1) cup dark chocolate chips
  • 4-5 medium size bananas
  • Coconut oil (for greasing the baking dish)

Other Tools Needed:

  • Kitchen mixer (preferred) or medium sized mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups / spoons
  • 9 x 13 glass dish for baking
  • Cutting board
  • Knife


Scoop out the almond butter (remember to reserve 3 tbsp. for the swirl) and maple syrup into the mixer/mixing bowl and stir on low for about 30 seconds. Add the cocoa powder by 1/4 cup increments and combine with the almond butter and maple syrup on a low speed, otherwise the cocoa powder will go everywhere. Mix in the remaining ingredients – with the exception of the bananas – and mix on a low to medium speed until all ingredients are mixed in well.

The batter will be dark, gooey and hard to resist. You’ve been warned. Set aside (like far way from your mouth) while you work on slicing the bananas. The banana slices shouldn’t be too thin because you don’t want to lose them in the brownies. Once you’re done slicing the bananas, take out the glass baking dish and grease it down with the coconut oil. Then take the brownie batter, and spread about half of the batter into the dish, smoothing it down for an even layer. Lay out each banana slice over the layer of brownie batter, to cover that bottom layer completely. Then, spread the remaining brownie batter over the banana slices. In a perfect world, the bananas would stay in place as you spread the top layer over, but the brownie batter is pretty sticky and gooey. Expect them to move around as you spread out the batter, working to smooth it out across the pan.

The last step before putting it in the oven is to make the almond butter swirl. Take a butter knife and dip into the reserved 3 tablespoons of almond butter and swirl it through the brownie pan. Continue to dip and swirl until all the almond butter is gone. Once you’re satisfied with the swirl in your dish, pop the pan into a preheated oven at 350 degrees (F), for about 18 minutes. As always, stick a toothpick or butter knife in the center of the pan to check if it’s done. If it comes out clean, you’re all set!


This combination of chocolate, bananas and almond butter work together just beautifully.

Elvis would be proud.

Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.


 For more of Jaxon’s adventures, search the hashtag #jaxsonstrikesagain on Instagram.

While you’re there, be sure to follow me @cavegirlculture to keep up with the latest adventures and recipes.

Kalamata Turkey Meatballs & Closing Out 2014

It’s 11:11am on the last day of 2014 as I’m writing this post, and reflecting on such an eventful year. I remember this time last year, and all the resolutions and goals I had made for 2014. Some stuck, and some didn’t, and everything turned out a-okay. The year was filled with happiness, sadness, excitement, struggle, love, joy and accomplishment…but most of all, this was a year of learning and growth. 2014 is not a year that will just blend in with other years. The valuable lessons learned this past year will stay fresh in my mind as I tackle new projects in 2015, with bigger, brighter perspectives.

In other words, see ya later 2014!


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2015? Bring.It.On.

So what does any of this have to do with Cave Girl Culture? With YOU?

For starters, MORE FOOD. I have a TON of recipes I’ve been saving all year, ready to spam your inbox. But the good kind of spam, not the questionable stuff that pops up when you’re checking personal email at work, and your boss suddenly walks up right behind you. Eek.

Second, I’ll be sharing my recipes and experiments with primal dog treats. Because of Jaxson’s megaesophagus and incredibly sensitive digestive system, dog food, treats and feeding routines have been an experiment in itself. If you’re a dog lover, stay tuned for these posts! More information to come in the new year.

Let’s start there and see what happens! And thank you, dear reader, for continuing on with me in 2015. I hope you continue to find posts on CGC that inspire you in the kitchen and make you laugh. That’s what it’s all about, right?

On that note, let’s get to the food. THE LAST RECIPE OF 2014. Holy crap, that’s weird to say.

Kalamata Turkey Meatballs

  • Servings: Approx. 24 meatballs
  • Time: 10 min prep, 25 min. bake time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • (1) lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup. kalamata olives, diced
  • (2) tbsp. Italian herb blend
  • Salt and pepper, to taste – I used 1/2 tsp. salt
  • (1) egg
  • 1-2 tbsp. coconut flour (to soak up excess moisture)
  • (1) large white potato, cut in large chunks *See note – this only applies if you’re making as an entree.

Other Tools Needed:

  • Medium size mixing bowl
  • Foil
  • Baking Sheet


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the baking sheet with foil. While the oven is heating up, put all ingredients (except for the white potato, see note) in the mixing bowl and use your hands to evenly combine the mixture. Wait for about 5 minutes for the coconut flour to absorb the moisture, then form 1 inch meatballs and place on the foil lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they’re a light golden brown.

*Note: While the meatballs are cooking, you can whip up a nice homemade marinara sauce to go with the meatballs. You have two options here…these can be made as a entree, or an appetizer. The entree features the meatballs and white potatoes in the marinara sauce. If you do this, start boiling the potatoes in a pot of water until tender right before you start your sauce. The appetizer side is a little lighter with the sauce and omits the potatoes completely. Below are directions for both options.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Time: 5 min. prep, 30 min. simmer
  • Difficulty: easy


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • (1) 16. oz can tomato sauce OR 32. oz *See note
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste – I used 1/2 tsp. salt

*Note: If you’re making the appetizer, you’ll only need 16. oz of tomato sauce. The entree requires more sauce so you can use (2) 16 oz. cans or (1) 32 oz. jar/can. Look for BPA free cans!

Other Tools Needed:

  • Large skillet (Both app/entree)
  • Large knife (Both app/entree)
  • Cutting board (Both app/entree)
  • Food processor (App)
  • Toothpicks (App)
  • Medium Pot (Entree)


Heat the oil in the skillet over low heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the skillet and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato sauce and seasonings and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes. If you’re making the entree add the potatoes, if not, just add the meatballs and simmer for another 15 minutes.

For serving:

Appetizer: Use a large spoon to scoop out a little sauce and gently place a dollop on a serving plate. Place a meatball over the dollop of sauce and add a toothpick on top. Continue to place dollops of sauce with the meatball on top until your serving plate is filled, approximately 1 inch apart from the next.

Entree: This one is easy. Just spoon a generous portion of meatballs, potato, and sauce into a bowl and serve!

CGC_Turkey Kalamata Meatballs in Maranara

I’m making these as an appetizer again for an NYE party tonight, so I’ll have more pictures to post on this later. These will go okay with champagne right? I mean, what doesn’t go well with champagne?

I’m terrible at pairing my food and alcohol.

By the way, I’m declaring champagne / sparkling wine as “paleo” friendly tonight. That’s right I said it. And by paleo friendly, I mean I’m paleo and it’ll be my friend.


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Tomorrow? Not so much. But isn’t that what Bloody Mary’s are for?

I digress.

I hope everyone has a fun and SAFE New Year celebration! Cheers!




Cave Girl Culture

Paleo Books for $1! Say What?

I normally don’t (read: never) post affiliate links on my blog, but this Paleo ‘Book Bucks’ event really caught my eye, and I just had be a part of sharing the good news. On Tuesday 11/25, 15 of the hottest Paleo books will be on sale for less than $1 in the Amazon Kindle store!

Say what?! I love a good deal.

*Update! Due to Amazon’s file delivery costs on huge files, five of the cookbooks, which are filled with tons of high-resolution images, will be priced at $1.99 and two others at $2.99. This is the lowest price Amazon would allow them to be priced. Still a fantastic deal, and you’ll likely never see them priced that low ever again!

The titles available for these smokin’ hot savings include –

  1. The Paleo Kitchen by Julie Bauer from PaleoOMG, and George Bryant from Civilized Caveman
  2. The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson from Marks Daily Apple
  3. The Ancestral Table by Russ Crandall from The Domestic Man
  4. Gather by Bill and Hayley Staley from Primal Palate
  5. The Paleo Sweet Tooth by Alison Russo from HealthNut Nation

And many more!

This event is good for one day only, so make sure you subscribe to receive your reminder email. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll completely forget and miss out on all the $1 deals. Not fun.

Sign up here –

There’s absolutely NO obligation to buy. Buy one, buy five, buy ’em all!

And as we approach the colder weather months, you’ll be set to curl up next to the fireplace with all your new reading material, and a hot, homemade beverage. So while your here, check out my new favorite recipes to fill your mug!

Bulletproof Chai from Angela at Seasonal and Savory
Paleo S’mores Hot Cocoa from Rachel at South Beach Primal
Paleo Egg Nog from Ashley at My Heart Beets
Dairy Free Mocha Hot Chocolate from Lexi at Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
Pumpkin Spice Latte from Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet

BAM. Saving money on books AND beverages! Cha-ching! See what I did there?



Have a great weekend!


Thai Green Curry Soup

My last post focused on a a few things we love about the fall season. It’s hard not to love such a beautiful time of year! The change of colors, the holidays, pumpkin spiced everything, and snuggling in front of a warm fire on a cold night. But there’s just one teensy, tinsy, aspect of this season that I do NOT particularly enjoy.

The beginning of the flu season.

In my pre-Paleo days, I had terrible immune health and would catch just about everything that came around. It was an absolutely miserable way to live. After adopting a whole food approach, I’ve been fortunate enough to be influenza free for the past few years, with no aid of the flu shots. And who says good food can’t heal?



As much as we may protect and nourish our bodies, the fact of the matter is that we’re still susceptible to lurking bacteria and viruses. Especially when we have outside factors, such as stress and lack of sleep, that interfere with our body’s natural ability to fight infection. I’ve been reminded that I’m no exception to the rule, because here I am, writing this post in bed, 48 hours into the worst flu I’ve had in the history of ever. We’re talking all the classic flu symptoms – body aches, high fever, chills, massive headache, and loss of appetite. My body is sending me a clear message.


Okay fine, I may not be dying, but my body is telling me to slow down and let myself heal. I took some time off work this past week, canceled my plans for Huckfest this weekend (boo!), and set myself up for some old fashioned TLC. I broke out the comfy pj’s, bought myself some Vitamin C tablets, and made a huge pot of my “go-to” Thai green curry soup. We all have our little remedies that we swear by when we’re sick, and this little pot of magic is my favorite one. The curry is easy on my sensitive stomach, and it’s full of nutritious elements to help heal the body. For starters, the green curry paste includes lemongrass and galangal (Thai ginger), both known for their healing properties. Both lemongrass and galangel treat stomach issues – nausea, inflammation, etc. Lemongrass, also known as “fevergrass”, reduces fevers and helps soothe body aches. Perfect for someone with flu-like symptoms! Seal the deal by adding chicken and homemade chicken stock, carrots, potatoes (both white potatoes and sweet potatoes work here), onions and kale. Nutritional powerhouse, baby.

Thai Green Curry_CGC

Thai Green Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 25 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • (1) tsp. coconut oil
  • (1) onion, quartered
  • (2) tbsp. Thai Kitchen green curry paste
  • (2) cups chicken broth (preferably homemade chicken stock)
  • (1) large white potato (or sweet potato)
  • (1) lb. chicken (I used thigh meat)
  • 1-2 large carrots
  • (1) can Thai Kitchen coconut milk, full fat
  • (1) cup shredded kale, packed

Other Tools Needed:

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Stockpot
  • Stirring Spoon


In a large stockpot over medium heat, add the coconut oil, onions and curry paste. Use your stirring spoon to mash the curry paste into the onions and bottom of the stockpot, releasing the flavors in the paste. Add the chicken broth and white potatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add the chicken, carrots and coconut milk. Let simmer for 15 minutes before adding the kale. Continue to simmer for another minute or so to soften those kale leaves. This can be served alone or over cauliflower rice – yum!


  • I use Thai Kitchen because of their clean ingredient list, but any green curry paste and full fat coconut milk will work. Check those labels!
  • Add/subtract from the veggies list as you see fit. I’ve put all kinds of vegetables and proteins in this soup but this version is my favorite.
  • This soup should keep for about 3 days in the fridge. It tastes the best on Day 2, seriously. 

Now back to bed for me. I’ve already done too much! On that note…



 I love this because it can apply in so many situations. No matter what is ailing you, just remember to keep your health at the top of your priority list.

Wishing you both health and happiness.