When I started this blog a month shy of 4 years ago, little did I know what it would one day become; we can all thank Mr. Bailor for the switch from it being the #2 food blog in Seattle for restaurant reviews – known as The Big Breakfast Adventure – to recipes and tips for living a SANE lifestyle.  Much as I enjoyed creating my blog in it’s first iteration, it’s re-birth as a SANE recipe blog is my dream-come-true, my lifetime nirvana, my joy, and my passion.  I’m tremendously thankful every day that I get to share my life and recipes on here with you.

Hand on heart though, I have missed my weekend breakfasting adventures to discover new eateries – and since breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out I thought it would be fun to get back to my roots a little and do a SANE version of the Big Breakfast Adventure given that the original Big Breakfast Adventure was entirely inSANE.

Some of you have struggled with eating out and staying SANE, so let’s see how well I can do at eating out around town.  Join me as I scour Seattle for the SANEst breakfasts around.  If you live in or are visiting this fabulous city you can use this as a guide to great places to get awesome SANE breakfasts and brunches – and sometimes the places to avoid *cough, cough*.  If you don’t live here, I hope you will be inspired to start your own SANE Big Breakfast Adventure where you are, or you’ll get meal ideas to cook up at home, or at least feel inspired to keep on living a SANE life knowing that eating out needn’t be hard or have you falling off the wagon.

So let’s get this SANE Big Breakfast Adventure on the road!

It all started at 7:04 when I pulled up outside Alisen’s house and tooted my horn.  Clad in some fantastic purple checkered pants she stumbled from her house, hopped in beside me, and we were off down the freeway like Thelma and Louise, careering towards North Ballard in a quest to find out just how SANE a start we could get to our Sunday.  We elected to drive along the downtown waterfront instead of shooting up the freeway, got completely freaked out to discover that they have pedestrianized part of said waterfront, were relieved when the car-free-zone ended and we were able to get back on a road we knew, and headed over the 15th Avenue bridge gasping at the gorgeously sunshiny-but-misty views of Fisherman’s Wharf as we sped past.  Eager to be first in line for the 8 am opening of The Fat Hen, we weren’t stopping for anything – not even cheap gas at Safeway.  They couldn’t possibly raise the price in 2 hours; we figured we could fill up the car after we’d filled up ourselves.

We turned onto 70th and delighted in the vista of empty curbside parking before us.  I didn’t even have to parallel park to get us situated.  The benches outside The Fat Hen were gloriously empty, the lights were on, and it was just 8 minutes to the hour.  We perched on one of the stained wooden benches and buried our hands deep in our pockets against the morning chill.  A few minutes later the line started to form – usually a good sign of a great breakfast.  The door swung open and we toddled forward, chose the table by the window and settled in, thrilled to discover that the window seat not only gave us light but also the heater.  It’s the little things.  The Fat Hen  |  Carrie Brown

The peppermint tea was fast on it’s way to the table while we cooed over the simple whitewashed décor and cozy marble café tables.  A neighborhood gem in the ambiance department if ever there was one.

We eyed up the menu and quickly decided what was what.  Alisen went straight for one of the Egg Bakes while I plumped for the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict.  Oh, I know what you’re thinking, but just wait.  When the chirpy server waltzed over to our table I asked if I could have my Benedict without the muffin.  Without batting an eye she shot back, “How about some slices of avocado instead?”  “That would be perfect!”, I swooned.  “Oh, and salad instead of the potatoes, please.”

How SANE is this breakfast??!

The Fat Hen | Carrie Brown

And here is Alisen’s Egg Bake.  Another skillet of SANEity.

The Fat Hen  |  Carrie Brown

By the time we departed, the place was full and the line snaked out the door.  We left feeling like we’d stumbled upon one of Seattle’s best-kept breakfast secrets.

Replete and giddy from our Sunday brunch discovery, we meandered back to the car, headed south, stopped off for gas, and then drove to Golden Gardens where we sat in the car overlooking the Sound, with the heating on full-blast, and nattered like school girls on a sleep-over.

Golden Gardens  |  Carrie Brown

What an entirely fantastic start to a Sunday!

Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.



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Since the first winter chill hit the air you’ve been asking for sugar-free Hot Chocolate to warm you up, and lest you thought I had forgotten you, I can assure you I most certainly have not.  It’s just been a busy time in Bookland since the week before Thanksgiving, and the last couple of weeks I’ve been busily catching up on life and seemingly never-ending to-do lists.  I’ve been on a bit of a purge around Marmalade HQ.  I almost called Goodwill ahead of time to warn them to clear a space.  I do love a good purge.

So I finally stopped long enough to reach for a pot, along with some dark chocolate, and got busy making you hot cocoa while there’s still some winter left to warm up.  Mind you, once you taste this I think you might be drinking it all year long – or at least whenever you get a chocolate craving – because boy oh boy is this stuff rich and chocolaty.  Then, just as I was about to sit here and write about it, I loped outside with the recycling and didn’t come back in for an hour because I was sitting on the patio sunning myself.  In Seattle!  In January!!  JANUARY!!!  As I sat there in the lawn chair I shut my eyes and it felt exactly like summer, except I was wearing too many clothes, but to my face it was slap bang in the middle of July; without the lawn mowers of course, because while it might look like summer today, there sure ain’t any grass growing yet.  I am thrilled to report, however, that I have pansies, sage, chives, and irises all poking their little heads through the soil and that makes me so happy I can barely stand it.

It was quite the ordeal, dragging myself back inside to write on here, but now I’m settled in at my desk, peppermint tea at hand, I’m ready.  I’ve missed you.  I’ve missed writing in this space.  I’m excited to get back to my non-book-writing routine of 3 posts a week.  I’m excited to create stuff and share it with you.  And although it feels a little odd writing about Hot Chocolate when I have just come inside from an hour’s sunbathing, I think it’s a good place to start.  Something easy, something instant, something so totally decadently scrumptious that you’ll wonder why you waited so long to go sugar-free.

SANE Hot Chocolate  |  Carrie Brown

I should likely warn you that this is some seriously rich, thick, creamy chocolate goodness.  If you’ve ever been to Paris and had Chocolat Chaud – think that – and you’ll know what to expect.  If you’re used to the watery, faintly-chocolate-tasting liquid that comes out of mixing a powdered mix with hot water, then you’re in for a real surprise, or shock, depending on how you look at it.  This sugar-free Hot Chocolate is not for the faint of heart.  It is also not for those of you who like a huge ol’ mug full of warm beverage.  This recipe makes enough for 4, because a small cup of this at one sitting is enough chocolate for the most die-hard chocolate fanatic.  There should be a law surrounding the chocolate-y-ness of hot chocolate, and I’ll leave you to guess which ones I would ban as unsuitable for human consumption.

It’s true that there’s nothing inventive about Hot Chocolate, but sometimes just making the classics healthy is enough; no wheel-reinvention required.  If you want you can make this whole recipe and then heat up just enough for 1 cup at a time, keeping the rest in the ‘fridge.  I like doing that {much} better than fiddling with saucepans and fractions of cans of coconut milk every day.  You could even just have a cup of this instead of dessert.  If you think hard enough you can taste a slight coconutty twang in this Hot Chocolate, so if you’re a anti-coconut-flavor type person, then add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon to your cup and stir until it is dissolved.

Now then, off you go to chocolate nirvana.  You can find the same chocolate that I used here.


Hot Chocolate
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups / 1 pint water
  • 1 oz. / 30g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 can / 13 fl oz. thick coconut milk
  • 2 oz. / 55g 100% cocoa unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz. / 55g xylitol (or to taste)
  1. Place the water and cocoa powder in a pan over medium heat until it starts to steam.
  2. Whisk well until the cocoa is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the thick coconut milk and stir well.
  4. Heat until it starts to steam.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until completely melted and mixed through.
  6. Stir in the xylitol.
  7. Serve.





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  • NickM - Great to have you blogging again which is itself like a welcome mug of cocoa. Two questions:
    1) It seems almost impossible to get unsweetened cooking chocolate in the UK. Is this really more available in the US?
    2) Any reason not to use double-cream mixed with hot water rather than coconut milk, if you don’t want the coconut aroma?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Nick – thanks for the warm welcome back! Time flies when you’re writing books – I can’t believe how long I’ve been gone! 100% chocolate is readily available in every grocery store in the US. As for cream – that would be an awful lot of double cream! While we like double cream as a healthy fat, we LOVE coconut milk a lot more – it has a lot of MCTs in it which double cream doesn’t, for a start. I would suggest switching out say half the coconut for heavy cream and see if you can still taste any coconut. For me the chocolate is so dark that it masks the coconut taste almost entirely so half double cream should do the trick. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Amy G - I make something very similar, but I use unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk rather than the coconut milk. It has a thinner, more liquidy consistency and a more neutral taste. I think I’ve just talked myself into some!! Thanks for taking up your blog again– I have missed it!ReplyCancel

  • Alvin - We were just saying that there was no hot chocolate recipe on here. Just in time! We’ll report back after the taste test.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hey Alvin – excited to hear what you think! Glad I squeaked this in just in time :-)ReplyCancel

  • Patty - May I ask why you use xylitol in your recipes? We have dogs that are always trying to lick dishes and I am worried about them getting into the xylitol. Can I substitute erythritol evenly?

  • NickM - Hi Patty. The nice thing about xylitol is that, spoon for spoon, it’s about as sweet as sugar. But I have found that yes, you can use erythritol instead. It is especially successful in hot drinks, because you don’t get its characteristic “cooling” effect with them! However, erythritol is only 60% to 70% as sweet as sugar, so you will need to use more of it. The good news is that it is even less able to be used by your body than xylitol is, and you basically just urinate most of it out! The bad news is it’s much more expensive than xylitol.

    Because most of erythritol thus never even reaches your guts, it doesn’t lead to some of the digestive issues that larger amounts of xylitol can cause some people. And, of course, it’s not poisonous to dogs.

    By the way, I thought you might find interesting to understand why xylitol is poisonous to dogs. A dog’s digestive system, unlike ours, is confused by it, and assumes it is sugar. So their pancreas pumps out lots of insulin to get rid of what it thinks is load of sugar. Unfortunately, it isn’t sugar, so any last drop of glucose that does happen to be in the blood is swept away by the over-secretion of insulin, and the dog goes into a low-blood-sugar coma. The fact that this doesn’t happen to us humans proves, paradoxically, that xylitol is healthy for us: it isn’t a sugar, and doesn’t need insulin, and our body isn’t fooled into treating it as such. Indeed, our body manufactures its own xylitol every day!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - THANKS, Nick!!!! You took the words right out of my typing :-) I use xylitol because I prefer the taste to erythritol.ReplyCancel

  • Alvin - It was a hit at the house!! The wife says it’s the best she’s ever had. The bottom of my cup had some coagulated chocolate which I didn’t care for, but the wife sopped it up with strawberries. Thanks again Carrie for all the hard work. We tried a couple times to make this ourselves and never quite got it right.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Hamer - can you please tell me what size is the can of coconut milk and does it need to be full fat?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Patricia – it’s the large approx. 14 fl oz. can. It is also called Coconut Cream by some brands. You can use a lite version if you like. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Marygrace - Best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Made it yesterday when I saw the recipe. OMG!! Yum……thank you for this taste of the Gods..ReplyCancel

  • Erika - Thanks Carrie, this will really hit the spot on these cold NW nights! I’m not much of a chocoholic, but now I’m thinking about chocolate pudding. I’m going to check out your archives and see if you’ve created a SANE version yet or maybe I just add cocoa and sweetener to Greek yogurt? We shall see….ReplyCancel

  • Karen G - Wow, this is really chocolatey. It is a little too much for me so next cup I will add either a little more water or some coconut milk. My husband absolutely loves it.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Yes! Depending on what you’re used to this Hot Chocolate is a serious kick in the pants! Thrilled hubby loves it and your plans to dilute to taste.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda - Oh this will be so yummy after playing in the snow tomorrow… if it’s still around the Portland PNW area!!!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Hi Carrie, would you use coconut cream from TJ’s or the light coconut milk in a can for this? (and can I use the light coconut milk if your answer is cream for a lighter/thinner version?)

    • carrie - I used the thick stuff, but yes you can use the light version if you want thinner and less rich.ReplyCancel

  • Amazing Music and Leisure to Increase Wellness | Inner Savvy Wellness Blog - […] Can you take 30 minutes to have a cup of hot cocoa and sit in the dark with candles or the Christmas tree lights on if you have it up already.  If you want your cocoa to be healthier try Carrie Brown’s SANE Hot Chocolate. […]ReplyCancel

Hello!  Happy New Year!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I realize that this is my first post of 2014 and it’s already January 4th.  Let me just mention that my New Year got off to a very unexpected start involving a bizarre allergic reaction and a trip to the ER.  I’ll leave the rest of that little story to my next post.

For now though, I have news.  BIG NEWS!!  I wrote you a cookbook.  I WROTE YOU A SANE COOKBOOK!  A third SANE cookbook, and it’s all about vegetables, because when I asked you lovely, lovely people out there is Blogland and Podcastland what you wanted recipes for next you said, “Make vegetables delicious!” and, “Help us to eat more veggies!” and various other guises of those same sentiments.  So I did.  To keep life easy I titled it, “Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides”.  Because it’s what you’ll do when you cook from it – you’ll eat smarter, and you’ll eat smoothies and sides, because all the recipes are either one or the other.  There’s 10 smoothies and 45 scrumptious veggie sides awaiting for you within the pages.  FIFTY-FIVE ways to make veggies delicious!  Forget Happy New Year!  HAPPY NEW BOOK!!

Now last time I published a book I wrote you a whole post about why you should eat soup, but this time? Well I think you all know why you need to eat veggies, and smoothies and sides are two of the best and easiest ways to get them.  So I am just going to show you a few pictures, instead.  I hope that’s OK.

Smoky Creamed Mushrooms | Carrie Brown
Ham, Cheese, and Tomato Stuffed Eggplant | Carrie Brown
Brussels Sprouts, Pear, and Bacon Hash | Carrie Brown
Braised Celery | Carrie BrownCan I tell you how much fun I had creating all this vegetable deliciousness?  SO. MUCH. FUN!
Onion Bacon Mash | Carrie Brown
Roasted Winter Vegetables | Carrie Brown
Swiss Baked Broccoli | Carrie Brown
Creamy Baked Zucchini and Mushrooms | Carrie BrownThere were some vegetables I didn’t even like when I embarked on this little project.  Ha.  I sure like them now!
Bacon Hot Slaw | Carrie Brown
Minty Tomato and Zucchini Hash | Carrie Brown
I Can
Leek, Mushroom and Cauliflower Casserole | Carrie BrownSee some veggies here that you think you don’t like?  Or some veggies you didn’t even know existed?  Just try them once.  For me.
Orange Pecan Brussels Sprouts | Carrie Brown
Cauliflower Cheese | Carrie Brown
Almond Parmesan Squash | Carrie Brown
Brussels Sprouts with Almonds and Cranberries | Carrie Brown
Roasted Beets and Onions | Carrie Brown
I think you’ll love them. I think you’ll discover that you like veggies you thought you hated. I think you’ll find you like veggies you’ve never even tried before. I just think you’ll have a lot of “YUMS!” running around your table.

Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides  |  Carrie BrownSo let me just say that not only would I hugely appreciate your support in helping me keep this little blog running and more cookbooks being created, but I would LOVE it if you bought this cookbook so that you can enjoy all this vegetable scrumptiousness too.  It will make me so very happy to know that you are eating more vegetables because of some ideas in this book.

Here’s what Mr. Bailor had to say,”Much like her previous two books, “Eat Smarter! Ice Creams” and “Eat Smarter! Soups”, Chef Carrie has taken whole, succulent, healing, and natural foods, mixed them with the most rigorous modern metabolic science available, and given us simple, slimming, and spectacular dishes that make healthy delicious, and therefore, slim becomes simple. Don’t let bland starchy fillers sabotage your life. Invite Carrie Brown’s “Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides” into your kitchen, and enjoy the metabolic magic and taste bud tantalization that will ensue.”

Truly, I can’t think of anything that could make me happier right now than your taste buds being tantalized by these recipes.

And while I am talking about happy – THANK YOU for standing by while I cranked this cookbook out over two holidays and far too may cups of coffee.  THANK YOU for all the virtual hugs and notes of support that came winging my way.  You know I really couldn’t do this nearly so well without you there, cheering me along the way.  THANK YOU.



What does 'sane' mean? Click here...Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • Sue - I cooked Brussels Sprouts last night. The first time EVER in my 62 years and I ate them all, every single one. Wow, not the same vegetable my mother used to serve up on a Sunday and expect me to eat. Thanks Carrie for this book; eggplant and leeks are next.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea M. - Congratulations, Carrie, and many thanks for all your hard work! Can’t wait to try the scrumptious new recipes … though I don’t think there’s a single vegetable out there I haven’t already tried and love. :)ReplyCancel

  • Alison E - The pictures look delicious, I have your other two books looks like a third needs to be ordered. Just a query one of your recipes used gabanzo flour. I have made socca from this and is fab but would you class it as a sane recipe ?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Alison – using a few tsp. of garbanzo to thicken is very different to using it as a main ingredient. Soppa would not be SANE. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - My Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides book is purchased and scheduled to arrive today… I can’t wait!!!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - Thanks so much for creating this for us! Can’t wait to get ours tomorrow or Wednesday :) (They said Wednesday, but I’m hoping for quicker!)ReplyCancel

  • Rose - Yay, Carrie is back! Sorry to hear about your ER visit :-( but glad to hear you’re much better :)

    Well two good things today to prove the wonderful influence you (and JB) provide:

    1. I’m ordering your book thus I will be eating more veg *and*

    2. I finally signed up for Costco. I was happily surprised by how many organic items were available — frozen berries, frozen veg and even coconut oil. And it’s the only place in this metropolitan area I find find butter lettuce. Yay for SANE lettuce wraps, people!

    Look forward to adding this cookbook to my growing Carrie Brown recipe collection. Thank you so much, Carrie.ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - Oh , ive been waiting for something like this!ReplyCancel

  • Keri - Hi Carrie- a question about the sides. Can they all generally be frozen? I am one person, so something that makes 6-8 servings means I’ll be eating it for dinner for a week, which I’m not too keen on. Variety = good!

    A question about the smoothies that call for powdered egg whites – can I substitute vanilla whey protein instead? I presume the point of the powdered egg whites is to add protein.

    Thanks! I’m very excited to try some veg recipes. =)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Keri – on the smoothies, you will want to lower the amount of sweetener if you use whey protein instead otherwise they will be super-sweet. Egg whites are a fantastic source of protein, especially for folks who cannot tolerate dairy / whey. On the sides – I have not tried to freeze any of them so cannot give you a definitive answer. They do keep for several days in the ‘fridge. Your best bet would be to cut the recipes in half and then keep in the fridge if you have leftovers. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Jill Jensen - I’m waiting for the print copy of the book, but I did get it in Kindle edition. I’m sooo excited to find out the name of the coconut oil that has no taste. I went to Trader Joe’s and saw they had Virgin Coconut Oil. Is that the coconut oil with no taste Carrie? We’re going to try some recipes tomorrow. Baby steps. But I got to say, we bought 2 1/2 pounds of Spinach for less than the price of a pound at other stores! What a bargain. I can tell I’m slowly changing how I think — I have 5 pounds of spinach in my refrig!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - I have to admit, I was very apprehensive as I waited for the cauliflower with onions and bacon to finish cooking. I didn’t have to rice the cauliflower because I used a streamer and my hand mixer worked just fine. I did alot of “inner talking” because frankly I’m not one to try new things. But I’ve made a committment to this program so it was important to me to give something new a try. IT WAS FANTASTIC! One of my favorite foods in the world – mash potatoes – was no match for this cauliflower. WOW!! Thanks Carrie, you’ve done it again!!ReplyCancel

Well ain’t that just a most delicious oxymoron!  It’s a Sugar Cookie without any sugar in it.  But what else could I call a “Sugar” Cookie so you’d know what it is?  I think when you taste them you’ll get over the name.

I had to enlist a bit of help with this one because I’ve never – to my knowledge – eaten a Sugar Cookie in my life, and it can be hard to make a *SANE version of something if you’ve never had the “something”.  So my adorable Roomie volunteered – well, really it was by default since she was living at Marmalade HQ at the time – to taste test the first batch so she could keep me on the Sugar Cookie straight and narrow.  She loved them.  Repeatedly. SANE "Sugar" Cookies | www.carriebrown.com

Then two months whipped by.  An exceedingly busy and very exciting two months filled – amongst other things – with publishing a second cookbook, ripping out the existing kitchen and putting a new one in, roasting turkey, preparing for and recording a two-day CreativeLive course with the amazing Mr. Jonathan Bailor,  excitedly taking delivery of a new range (oven) and hood, embarking on a third cookbook, making 2 kinds of sugar-free Cranberry Sauce for your holiday feasts, laundry, building a kitchen island, triumphantly recycling an awful lot of cardboard, nurturing the rambunctious pre-teen that is Mr. McHenry, oh, and working at my day job.  That last bit took the most time, but I am not complaining because it enables me to earn the dosh to fund everything else.

Talking of funding – because I know some of you are curious, as I would be – no, the new Marmalade HQ kitchen was not funded by book sales, but by savings and sweat.  Book sales have barely scratched the surface of what it has cost to run this blog with the associated recipe development required for the last 18 months.  It will be lovely to break even one day.  In the meantime I am *HUGELY* and most humbly grateful for all of your support, especially in the book purchasing department.  Not only does it help enormously to keep this little bloglette up and running, but it makes my heart truly happy that you get value from what I do.  THANK YOU!  I appreciate it more than you can know.

Any who.  Where was I?  Ah, yes.  The Great “Sugar” Cookie Delay.  I finally had a moment this week to resurrect the recipe and work on getting it to you.

As I didn’t shoot the first batch that my Roomie loved so much, I made another batch yesterday.  It was also a great excuse to test out the new Marmalade HQ double oven.  I am not only elated but also relived to report that both ovens did very well in the cookie-baking stakes.  So well, in fact, that Minta must have smelt them from down the street because she showed up today and promptly ate 3.  She loved them.  So I think they’re ready to release far and wide to every lovely reader who misses Sugar Cookies at the holidays.  Or any other time of year come to think of it.

I had originally planned for cookbook #3 to be all things cookie, but after I did a little poll of Facebook it became clear that y’all wanted to know how to make veggies delicious, and how to eat a lot more of them.  So veggies it is.  Cookies may well be cookbook #4.  In the meantime, I felt it only right that those of you who were chomping at the bit for cookies should get one for the holidays.

Here you go.  And there’s some more SANE cookies for you here.

Happiest Healthiest Holidays, lovely people!


“Sugar” Cookies
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 30
  • 5 oz. / 140g butter, softened
  • 6 oz. / 170g xylitol
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. / 225g almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 1 oz. / 28g coconut flour
  • 1 TBSP konjac flour (glucomannan powder)
  1. Place the softened butter, xylitol, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt in a mixing bowl and cream together with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla, almond milk, and egg, and mix well until completely combined.
  3. In a separate bowl place the almond flour (ground almonds), coconut flour, and konjac flour and mix well.
  4. Add half of the flours into the butter mixture with the mixer, then add the rest of the flour with a spatula until it is completely incorporated into a dough.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place in a ziplock bag and put in the ‘fridge for at least two hours to become firm.
  6. Take the dough out of the ‘fridge and carefully roll out to 1/8′ – 1/4’ thick using a little almond flour to stop it sticking to the work surface or the rolling pin.
  7. Use the cutter of your choice to cut out the dough. I used a 2″ round plain cutter.
  8. Place the cookies on a baking sheet 1″ apart.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven at 350F for 10 – 12 minutes – until they are barely starting to brown a little.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray until the cookies have firmed up enough to move without breaking or getting mis-shapen.
  11. Using a flat spatula, move the cookies carefully onto a cooling rack to cool completely

Questions on ingredients? Check out this info.
SANE "Sugar" Cookies  |  www.carriebrown.com




What does 'sane' mean? Click here...Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • Pam - These sure look deliciois! Would guar gum work in place of the xanthan gum? If it would, then I have all the ingredients I need already in my kitchen for some Sunday baking!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Pam – guar and xanthan are not interchangeable in this recipe. You can leave the xanthan gum out but your cookies will be more fragile and the texture will be slightly different. I’d make them without this time and then get some xanthan gum in for next time! http://carriebrown.com/archives/23109ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - What are they sprinkled with on top? I know it can’t be real sugar. ;) Also, I never heard of konjac flour. Where can this be found? Thank you, I have made your Espresso Cookies and Almond cookies and loved them both.ReplyCancel

  • Candace - When you say ground almonds, do you mean grind the almonds yourself in food processor? Or, already prepared almond flour from someplace like Honeyville? I know you like xylitol, and I use nearly exclusively, but….have you used Swerve?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Candace – I say “ground almonds” because that’s what other parts of the world – such as England and Australia – call almond flour; we don’t want our international friends to be confused. If you see two names for an ingredient, I am being bi-lingual :-) I used pre-prepared almond flour from Honeyville. Hope that helps! Swerve – I am hearing more and more about it and will study up to see what it’s all about. Stay tuned!ReplyCancel

  • Rose - Wow!!! I cannot wait for my next batch of almond flour to arrive. I finished it off with your Sour Cream and Chive biscuit recipe. After I make another batch of Sour Cream and Chive biscuits this is next on the list. I really does so much to relieve my diabetically-denied carb cravings… Carrie, I just heart you. :-D

    Will post an update when I run through the recipe…ReplyCancel

  • Rose - Every day you make our hearts — literally and figuratively — happy. *hug*ReplyCancel

  • Anne - Thank you for developing these right in time for my hosting the family for Christmas! You are the best. BTW I love the soups cookbook. Made a half batch of the fennel leek soup and couldn’t stop eating it! Yummy yum yum. You ROCK Carrie.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Oh Anne, I love that fennel leek soup! SO glad you are loving the book :-DReplyCancel

  • Anne - I made these cookies for a cookie exchange and they were a big hit. I did cut-outs of snowflakes and trees and iced them with icing made from Just Like Sugar confectioners and did sprinkle on some sprinkles made from real sugar (!). I found they needed more time in the oven – 3 minutes more – and then I left them outside overnight to “stale up/stiffen”. Then I decorated them. I think the icing and sprinkles added some flavor. I shared the picture and recipe on Facebook and several friends are now checking out carriebrown.com!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Anne – they are definitely better if left for a while before eating. Thanks for sharing me with your friends – hugely appreciated!!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara - Carrie,

    While your recipes look tempting, your insistence on measurements in ounces/metrics
    turn your readers off. Many of us don’t have a scale. We use teaspoons, tablespoons, wet and dry measures for cups. Yes, the density of the item may change the amount used, but then you would list that measure in a way that is useful to Americans.

    I am rather disappointed at your rationale for making your recipes cumbersome. Why should I bother buying your cookbooks if I have to actually weigh, and then convert the measure for so many ingredients? There are easier to use books available.ReplyCancel

  • Nina - Carrie, I totally disagree with Barbara. I’m American and find your recipes much easier when you list measurements by weight. I only need one scale instead of multiple measuring utensils that give varying amounts depending on how one fills them. By using weight, the recipe is perfectly reproducible every time. I suppose you could put both weight and volume measurements, but I love the weights. I have a scale that does both ounces and grams, so there isn’t much converting that needs to be done. Keep up the great work!ReplyCancel

  • Donna - I also disagree with Barbara and agree with Nina. I like that your recipes have the weight – makes sense because of the packing factor. The scales are relatively inexpensive. If you were to put both weight and volume measures on the recipes, it could be easier for those who do not own a scale. I’m American also and find your recipes are useful for me – scales are not unique to England. Thank you for your hard work and I will soon have your 3rd cookbook to add to my collection of 2! Love the recipes – they help my husband and I be and stay SANE.
    Sorry, I can’t rate this recipe yet, because I haven’t made this one.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy E. - This is the most deliciously nutty sugar cookie I have ever eaten. Thank you.. I keep a batch of these on hand for whenever I try and explain the SANE lifestyle. People look at me as of I asked them to give up their first born until I have them taste these cookies. I just sit back and wait for their eyes to light up and THEN they proceed to ask me about the program. So far I have able to convince every one of my friends and all but 1 family member to give it a go!! Thank you Carrie for the ammo I need.ReplyCancel

  • Jerry - Your next book, the very next or next after, should be cookies. Why? We all Need dessert!!!! What is life for without it?ReplyCancel

  • doug - Carrie, This recipe seems to be a good base recipe from which to make other varieties like macaroons or chocolate cookies.

    Is there some general ratio or guideline on how much moisture should be in a recipe, in order for the cookie to not be too dry? For example, if I added cocoa powder to the recipe, would I need to add more butter or something else that’s wet? thanks.

    And have you seen a non-sugar version of powdered sugar?ReplyCancel

  • Maureen - I made these this weekend– without the coconut flour (I added a little extra almond flour) and with almond extract instead of vanilla (oops!). They were delicious. Tasted like real cookies. I see why you use xylitol now. No after taste! Previous ones I made with stevia were nasty compared to these. I used my whale cookie cutter. So, they were cute too. ;) Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Shizza - These cookies look delicious! I had a question about almond flour. I see a lot of recipes online to make your own almond flour from slivered almonds instead of buying it (which is pretty expensive). What do you think about using homemade ground almonds instead of the almond flour sold in stores?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Shizza – as long as you grind them very finely (and be careful you don’t end up with almond butter!!!) I see no reason why you can’t grind your own almond flour.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy E. - Helpful hint to making almond flour. I haven’t needed to yet, but I read online to freeze the nuts before grinding to help with them not turning into butter. I plan on trying to leave on the outer skin for more fiber.ReplyCancel

  • Shizza - Thanks for the reply, Carrie, and also for dedicating so much of your time in making these lovely recipes for us. I definitely appreciate all your effort. And thank you for the tip, Cindy. Do let me know how the freezing goes.ReplyCancel

  • Alvin - Thanks again Carrie. These were very tasty (much better cold, even better from the freezer!)

    Though I must admit I rather liked just eating the batter :)ReplyCancel

  • Christi - Hi Carrie.

    These look delicious! My son is allergic to nuts. Can you tell me what I can substitute for the almond flour?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Christi – if he is allergic to all nuts then my best suggestion would be a variety of ground seeds, although without having tried it I cannot guarantee that it would work as well. When I get back to baking (soon!) I will be trialing nut alternatives. Nut allergies suck!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Rider - Invest in a scale! All the difference in the world!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Julie – beat that drum for me!!! Scales are The Bomb! Keep fabulous results every time!ReplyCancel

  • Alisha - I have a huge bag of sucralose in my kitchen. Can I use that in place of the xylitol?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Alisha – no, sucralose is not interchangeable with Xylitol. I highly recommend that you read this post: http://carriebrown.com/archives/29686 I would not recommend that anyone use sucralose at all. Sucralose is also credited with causing weight gain, not loss. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • 50 Best Low-carb Cookies to Keep You Baking All Year - […] Detailed recipe and credit – carriebrown.com […]ReplyCancel

  • Minta Hale - Why have I not made these? I may need a shopping partner to pick up ingredients :-)ReplyCancel

  • Barb Ballantine - Question: when you say ounces (e.g. 6 ounces xylitol) in your recipes, is that “liquid” ounces or the weight of the ingredient? Thanks.


    • carrie - Barb – ounces is the dry weight of the ingredients. Where it is a liquid it will state FL.OZ. for fluid ounces. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

Remember when I shared my fatal attraction for Kentucky Fried Chicken?  Well, you’re going to have to forgive me, because I am at it again.

Sometimes I just have to do it. Every now and then I am simply overcome by a force more powerful than life itself.  Or at least more powerful than my ability to resist the urge.  Yes; once in a while I go to McDonald’s.  It’s true.  And I eat a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.  Without any pickles of course.  Hey, if you’d spent every Saturday, and every day during every school break for 4 years up to your elbows in a large, green, freezing cold pickle bucket, you might not be so excited about eating pickles either.

Yes, I worked at McDonald’s for 4 years – which given what I do now makes it rather ironic.  And amusing.  Every Saturday during the school terms & full-time during the school vacations.  It was quite the experience.  I ended up earning all 5 of those stars on the yellow name tags that everyone used to wear, and then at some point I made the big time by getting the “Training Squad” patch sewn onto the left arm of my stylish navy-blue-&-white stripey uniform.  I think I got a pay raise at that point too.  That was nice.

McDonald’s was hard work.  I think it is a lot more automated now, but back in the day I would have defied anyone to single-handedly do a 12-turn on the Quarter Grill for any appreciable amount of time without breaking a {serious} sweat.  A one second slip was all it took to get out of sync on that grill & if you weren’t going flat out it could oh so easily be all over in a matter of minutes.  Same goes for the fry-bagging station.  And the Mac grill.  I only know a couple of people at our store who could keep up on the Mac grill during the Saturday rush.  I wasn’t one of them.

But when it came to running the Backroom – I was the bomb!  Backroom involved keeping the entire store stocked up with whatever everyone needed, from milkshake mix to frozen fries, re-hydrated onions to hamburger patties, ketchup to buns, drinks cups to coffee grounds.  The Crew would shout out what they needed & I would go run to fetch it & take it out to them.  It was the hardest & craziest job ever on a Saturday.  I was one of the only people who had ever been able to keep up single-handedly.  I remember one Christmas, I think it was the Saturday before Christmas Eve, I was assigned to Backroom & my helper didn’t show up.  Instead of whining & professing it was impossible, I decided to just go for it.  It was completely mad.  Much to the entire store’s complete surprise, I aced it.  By 3 pm I was completely exhausted, but the kudos afterwards for having achieved what no one thought was possible, magically made it all better.  I even wanted to do it all again.

So I spent every Saturday for 4 years eating the exact same thing:  Quarter Pounder with Cheese (no pickle), large fries, apple pie & a Chocolate Milkshake.  All those calories I ate?  Burned off every last one of them.  Think flippin’ burgers is easy?  Try working at the second busiest McDonald’s in England on a Saturday when the queues (lines) are 9 tills wide & 10 people deep non-stop for 5 hours between the hours of 10 am & 3 pm.  I needed all those calories just to stop me from passing out; all 98 lbs of me that there was back then.  It was a riot!

A few things have changed.  The Quarter Pounder boxes used to be foam instead of today’s cardboard & I swear that the burgers are smaller.  The quarter bun, for sure, is smaller.  Hey, I ate at least 400 of the things during those 4 years that I worked there.  And I made hundreds more.  Trust me.  Those buns are smaller.

Nowadays there are fresh sliced onions.  Way back then they were de-hydrated & had to be soaked for 30 minutes before you could use them.  And the menu is a lot larger now than the simple old days.  No fancy coffee, no salads, no McFlurrys, no breakfasts even.  No cookies, no snack wraps, no chicken sandwiches, no smoothies.  I remember the introduction of Chicken Nuggets.  I remember the day McMuffins arrived.  I have lost count of the number of egg yolks I pierced over the years so that the yolk wouldn’t drip on a customer when they bit into their McMuffin.  Good times!

But McDonald’s isn’t close to my heart simply because I spent so many hours of my life there.  McDonald’s is where I fell in love.  Hook, line & fry basket.  Only I didn’t know quite how much at the time.

Despite the grills being fired up at 450 degrees & the shortening for the fries being close to the temperature of volcanic lava (& yes I have the scars to prove it!), this guy was still the hottest thing at McDonald’s.

He was on the same gig as I was:  weekends during school terms & full-time during the school vacations.  McDonald’s is not a bad way to get yourself through school.  The only difference was that he was a Floor Manager & I was Crew.  I don’t remember the first time we met.  I don’t remember when the sparks started to fly.  But oh my, did those sparks ever fly once they did start.

I wonder if he ever thinks back to those days; those Friday nights when he was the manager wrapping burgers behind the production bin & I was on the till serving customers in my fetching blue & white uniform, adorable little pigtails (braids) & jaunty McDonald’s cap.  Oh & one of those cool yellow name badges with all the gold stars on.

I’d put my hand into the chute to retrieve the customers burger & there would be his hand, for just a second touching mine where no one could see.  Those little sideways glances over the fountain drink dispenser.  That little brush of our arms when we just happened to be bagging fries at the same time.  And inevitably the odd {forbidden} stolen kiss in the store room or the freezer or the calibration room where the syrup tanks were hooked up to the soda dispensing machines.  We did that for a whole year.  No one had a clue.  Oh yeah, we were good.  And then we just couldn’t stand it any longer, so he moved himself to a different store & no one was any the wiser.  You should have seen the looks on the faces of all the crew & managers at my store when I turned up at our Christmas party with him on my arm 2 weeks later.  PRICELESS.  Only trumped by the stunned gasps when they realized we’d been dating for a year, right under their noses & not one of them had figured it out.  SO MUCH FUN!

It is completely impossible for me to eat at McDonald’s without my mind wandering back all those years to thoughts of surreptitious glances & secret winks.  Sigh.  Just even catching a glimpse of those golden arches & my heart still skips a beat.

If we were ever to see each other again I imagine it being rather like that scene in The Notebook.  Yeah, THAT scene.  Except without the torrential rain maybe.  Or maybe with.

I expect he is still listening to John Martyn, cooking great food & stoking log fires.  I expect that wherever he is, he is ridiculously happy.  And if he isn’t, I expect that he is making the absolute best of it.  He always was a glass-all-the-way-full type of guy.

As for me, I am still listening to Phil Collins, making great {SANE} desserts & taking photographs.  I still love Quarter Pounders with Cheese. I still love McDonald’s fries & Apple Pies.  And their Chocolate Milkshakes – although I can’t remember the last time that I had any one of those 3 things.  I do still remember the hottest thing that ever came out of any McDonald’s restaurant anywhere on earth though.  Sigh.


When people talk about emotional eating, it’s no joke.  It’s as real as the nose on my face – which, incidentally – I wish were smaller.  The foods that we eat can be inextricably linked to good or bad memories, emotions and feelings, and everyone knows that emotions can be strong enough to turn the tide; or at least make us do **really** crazy things.  Like eat disastrously inSANE food even though we know – for sure – that they are bad for our health.  If you don’t believe me, please explain why I only ever cross the thresholds of three fast food restaurants – McDonald’s, KFC, and Jack In The Box – the 3 places that I have intense emotional connections with.  I don’t eat fast food anywhere else.  Because it’s not the food that is the draw – it’s the good emotions that I associate with these places.

Understanding this has given me the willpower to keep driving right on by those golden arches when my brain is screaming for some comfort.  And understanding this has also allowed me to give myself permission to take care of my emotions every once in a while.  So don’t ignore the reality of emotional eating.  Embrace it.  Use it to your advantage.  Recognise it.  Understand it.  Manage it.  And then get right on back to your fabulous *SANE lifestyle, without beating yourself up over it.

McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it. Or rather, my emotions are.

PS. I’d have taken better pictures for you, but I haven’t been in a really long time.


What does 'sane' mean? Click here...Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • Michelle Fusman - OMG! Working at McDonald’s was my first real job! I worked at McDonald’s for over two years, learned how to work hard and have fun doing it. To have standards and to provide quick reliable customer service. I’m surprised looking back how much I liked that job. It is of course jaded by the fact that I started dating my first husband there. I too fell in love at McDonalds. He was the crew person with the fastest drive thru time and I was a Crew Trainer. My meal: Double cheese burger well done, cheese only with a small fry and honey mustard dipping sauce. I LMAO when I read your blog. What is the likelihood! We were destined to meet dear lady!ReplyCancel

  • Mark - Lovely memories of the McD’s workhouse. Some things have clearly changed but are those damn apple pies still so hot that you have to eat them the next day? Like a zillion degrees? Happy New Year from all of us. XXXReplyCancel

    • cb - Ah! Those heady summer days when both brother & sister were sustained almost exclusively by McDonalds grub! You know, I haven’t had an apple pie in forever, but I am pretty sure that they still taste exactly the same & are still as hot. Now you’ve made me want one! Let’s Skype soon. Need to see my munchkins! xxxxReplyCancel

  • Steve Green - Found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. I bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later.ReplyCancel

  • Royce Craigwell - Hi! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!ReplyCancel

  • demi lovato - While I don’t eat fast food anymore, McDonald’s will always hold a special place in my heart too. It brings back so many great childhood memories for me.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Thanks for stopping by, “Demi”! I don’t think I’ll ever stop lovin’ McDonalds, even though I almost never eat it anymore.ReplyCancel

  • Matilda - My first job was at a pie shop. Oh the pies. So yes I understand, and no pie has ever compared to the pies at that pie shop.
    Now if I could just replicate a SANE pie.ReplyCancel

  • Sigi - Great post, Carrie. :)ReplyCancel

  • Allisol - Oh what a great post! Your Saturday-before-Christmas situation reminded me of working the dress section of a department store the day before Easter. I busted my chops and earned some serious respect from management.

    I love these glimpses into your life. You’re like a good book that we only get to read every once in awhile but when we do it’s AWESOME and we can’t wait for more. I love all your layers. XX OOReplyCancel

  • Cowgirl Rae - I never worked at the typical fastfood. I worked at a pizza parlor in HS. Funny how to this day I get taken back to the era when I enter a pizza parlor, the smell of the sauce, the smell of the crispy cornmeal in the ovens…. yes it’s a funny thing.
    I don’t really like pizza. It’s OK, but not something I’m keen on.ReplyCancel

  • Tom L - Loved this post, Carrie. Loved it! I could hear Barry White playing on the MC’D Muzak in the background…

    Really liked the different levels of understanding with regard to emotional eating you brought into this post, and with such a delightful pace to your pros, as well, how delightful it was to read!

    I can completely relate. I also like that you caved, ate the goods, and moved on with your life. It is helpful, to know that we are all human, and none of us are perfect, including our role-models (that’s you!!!). So, thank you for the personal share, and giving all of us permission to be human beings, having our moments, and then, continuing on with our journey to follow our SANE goals and dreams.

    BTW, your post reminded me of a great movie from the 90s, called Home Fries…Here’s a link to the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Fries_(film)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Thanks, Tom! One minor correction – JONATHAN BAILOR IS NOT HUMAN!!!! :-D PS. I am going to have to rent that movie now.ReplyCancel

  • Matilda - chicken and leek pie, and plain meat (ground steak), they would be my top 2.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Ooh! Chiken and Leek! I’ll be working on these for you, Matilda.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - Well Carrie, I’ve been a horrid pig. Visited your fair city for the first time and indulged two days in a row on Beecher’s grilled cheese sandwiches. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Pretty sure it’s the same as a McD’s and fries which actually also sounds pretty good right now. But NO, I’m home and first thing in the morning it’s back to SANE!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Nancy – stop beating yourself! I am glad you enjoyed your foray into inSANEity!!! It’s awesome that we can do this once in a while, enjoy it, have no ill effects and then just get back on with being SANE without having to worry about gaining weight or all that blah. Did you love Seattle??!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - Yes, I LOVED Seattle. Quite a difference from my own fair city (Boulder, CO.) What I really wanted was a kitchen to go cook in after seeing all the amazing produce and seafood.

    I did notice that portable food often means bread. Another very eye opening thing was realizing how after you haven’t eaten bread in awhile it instantly screams at you take another bite, take another. Spinach smoothie for breakfast :)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - So happy that you loved my home town Nancy!! We do have good food here :-DReplyCancel

  • Maried - I enjoyed this post! I love a quarter pounder, though not a part of my normal life anymore. However, every year, on my birthday, I treat myself to lunch at McDonalds for a quarter pounder w/cheese, a large order of fries and a strawberry shake (never thought about the pie!). There’s just something about a quarter pounder and McDonalds fries – and I enjoy my annual treat so much!ReplyCancel

  • mara lynn - I am having really bad series of days and I want pretzel crackers in the worst way. At work we have have cabinets filled with processed snacks and the crackers are calling me. I know it is emotional comfort that is needed, but knowing it and liking it are soooooo different. I am eating baked sweet potato – it helps.ReplyCancel

  • mara lynn - pretzel cracker update: knowing it is emotional eating is half the battle after taking 1st step and commenting to you, I got up, took a walk, group texted friends, ate a huge SANE salad and I am now in much better sorts enjoying green tea and xylitiol. Pretzel crackers lost this battle. Thanks to you and Mr. Bailor and your SANE knowledge that you share.

    Happy Monday (now it is!)ReplyCancel