Wow, what a busy semester it has been for me!  For those of you who follow my Instagram and Twitter accounts, you've probably noticed that I've been a bit more MIA lately.  As I'm a double-major, I've taken 17 or more hours per semester the last year and a half to try and graduate on time.  This semester was the hardest yet, with a course load that was 19 hours strong.  On top of "hell week" (the week before finals), I was working backstage as a spotlight operator for UT's fall musical, The Wild Party.  It was tiring, but so fun.  It definitely reminded me why I'm working just as hard for my acting degree as I am for my kinesiology one. Finals finished for me last Thursday, the 10th, when I left my 7-10pm Spanish test.  I've spent the weekend getting back to "reality" and also visiting my grandmother, who fell and broke her pelvis a week ago yesterday.  Luckily, she healed weeks faster than they anticipated and is already back home from the hospital!  The doctors and I both credit her active lifestyle before the injury for her rapid recovery.  Just another reason to keep up the physical activity throughout your whole life!

With the end-of-semester craziness finishing up, I was even more excited to receive a pre-release copy of The Healing Kitchen by my friend Alaena Haber (of Grazed and Enthused) and Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (AKA The Paleo Mom).  Alaena recently moved to Austin and has joined the Paleo Girls' Night that Leslie Auman started up with a bunch of us paleo eaters and bloggers in the area.  She is so fun to be around and we are all very excited for her publishing debut with Dr. Ballantyne.

Each of these women knows what she's talking about when it comes to using food to heal. Both of them have fixed a number of issues in their lives, ranging from a slew of autoimmune diseases each to achieving major weight loss and maintenance thereafter.  And if their personal experiences with these things aren't enough to qualify them for the task of writing this book, their professional experience sure does.  Alaena has a huge compilation of beautiful paleo/AIP recipes on her website, built up from years of eating paleo and AIP-compliant to heal and improve her way of life.  Dr. Ballantyne has spent many years researching in different areas of science, spanning from physics to immunology. She has won dozens of awards for her scientific achievement over the years and now applies that knowledge to help others achieve the health success that she has.  These two women put together make dynamite!

A section unique to this book that I really like is the explanation of functional foods with the visual help of balance scales.  These pages show different types of food and "weigh" the good vs. bad aspects of each one.  If the good is heavier, it's worth eating to further your health.  If the bad is heavier, it's best avoided in a healing kitchen.  This is a great harmony of science plus application.  If you're the type to want to know what's in your food and why it does (or doesn't) help you, then the explanatory pages before the visual help will benefit you immensely.  If you are really just interested in eating according to a set of guidelines and aren't big into knowing why they help, simply go to the "yes" and "no" food pages at the end of the section.  The best of both worlds are right there for both types of people!

After the first half of the book comes the recipes.  And let me tell you, these babies are KILLER.  Classic favorites like biscuits and gravy, oven-fried chicken, and strawberry milkshakes are strewn throughout each section.  New creations like spicy African kale, monkey bars, and pesto chicken pizza are also just as prominent.  So whether you're looking to recreate a favorite meal in a healthier fashion or are an ambitious cook looking for a new taste, this book caters to both desires!  No pun intended.  Okay, maybe a little.

If you'd like to buy a copy of The Healing Kitchen for yourself or a loved one (or both!), it is available on Amazon.

One last thing - I've got a recipe from the book to share with you!  I will definitely be making this one throughout the holidays.  Hopefully it'll help you spice up your gatherings, too.  Thanks to Alaena and Dr. Ballantyne for allowing me to post it!

Red Sangria

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: None   Total time: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings



  1. Combine all the ingredients except the kombucha in a large glass jar or pitcher.  Place in the refrigerator to steep for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Just before serving, remove the cloves and cinnamon stick and stir in the kombucha.  Serve over ice, if desired.

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

1 pear, diced

3 strips fresh orange peel

1/2 lemon, sliced thinly

5 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 (16-ounce) bottle unflavored kombucha, chilled

Ice, for serving (optional)