Cynthia Spivey is the author of How to Eat Paleo (When You Don’t Live in a Cave.)


Not familiar with the Paleo diet? Cynthia gives you the Paleo basics here.


You can have your Paleo cake and eat it too.


During the holiday season, treats and sweets are ever-present and frankly, ever-expected if you are entertaining. There is no need to stray from your Paleo lifestyle to enjoy the spirit of the holidays! Treat your guests to desserts that will satisfy their sweet desires while keeping you feeling your best.


How do you make Paleo Holiday Treats if you can’t eat sugar?


Honey and maple syrup are two Paleo-approved ingredients that are natural sugars containing a host of beneficial nutrients. To name just a few examples, honey contains vitamin C, B6, niacin, folate and fluoride; while maple syrup offers calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Refined white sugar contains no nutrients.


So Paleo treats are good for me?


Let’s not get carried away. Sugar is still sugar and even though it may contain some nutrients, it is still not nutrient-dense. Even Paleo treats should be eaten in moderation as special occasion foods.

Jenni’s Almond Cake


This recipe from my book came from designer Jenni Kayne. It is the perfect not-too-sweet cake for any occasion. It looks beautiful dressed up on a cake stand or in simple slices for afternoon tea.

1 ½ cups almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder*

8 egg whites

½ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 2 oranges (2 Tablespoons)

½ cup melted coconut oil plus extra for greasing pan

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar

1 cup sliced almonds


*Baking powder can contain non-Paleo ingredients. If desired, make your own with 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 2 teaspoons cream of tarter.


Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine almond meal and baking powder in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy and start to hold their shape. Slowly add the maple syrup, whisking until the mixture is thick and shiny. Add the vanilla extract and the orange zest.


Alternately whisk in the coconut oil, with almond meal and baking powder in thirds until they are smoothly incorporated into the egg whites. Pour the mixture into an 9” spring-form pan that has been greased with coconut oil.


Mix together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle 1/2 the mixture on top of the batter then sprinkle on all the almonds. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and sugar on top.


Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top has risen and set, the almonds become golden, and a cake tester comes out clean.


Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Once cool, remove from pan.



Maili’s Pots de Creme


Who doesn’t love chocolate pudding? This 5-ingredient dessert is fancy enough for grownups and basic enough for kids. Maili, a recipe contributor to my book, is the chef/owner of Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, California. Read her expanded recipe here.


Makes 15  2-ounce ramekins


3 cups coconut milk
7 ounces (2 bars) Valrhona extra dark bitter chocolate 85% Cacao, or 100% Cacao Powder
1/2 cup honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks


Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.


On the stove, in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water, combine the chocolate and coconut milk.  Whisk until melted and combined.


Whisk in honey and salt.


Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks until fully combined.


Fill each ramekin with the chocolate mixture and place in a large baking dish.


Move your ramekins to the preheated oven and rest the baking dish on the lower oven rack while carefully filling the baking dish with boiling water.  Fill the water to at least half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Gently push the dish into the lower rack and bake for 30 minutes or until the chocolate is set.


Cool to room temperature before refrigerating in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap.  They can be made up to a week in advance.



How about you? Do you have any fave Paleo dessert recipes to share?