Paleo Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

We live in an interesting growing area. At high elevation, we can get frost and freezes that destroy our gardens if we are not careful. In fact, that actually happened to our tomato plants at the start of the season.

We’ve also gotten a lot of rain this year, like torrential rain. While the streets and flood zones from the fires did not necessarily appreciate that, my garden sure did.

As such, we have 1 zucchini plant that is producing prolifically. In fact, it seems each time we go out and look, we have another huge zucchini ready to be picked!

That means zucchini-everything around here.

I wanted to make zucchini bread although I don’t like to make breads as much as I like to make muffins.

Muffins are easier to cook (less time baking) and I feel like they are more moist as a result of the reduced baking time. And, these are perfect portion sizes where with breads, I am more likely to keep nibbling and not pay attention to exactly how much I am eating.

So if your garden runneth over with zucchini, this can be a great way to get it into even your most veggie-resistant child. Note, these are not necessarily low sugar. You can play with alternatives like maple syrup or swapping out some of the sugar for stevia. You could also use Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips which are also allergen friendly as a way to cut down the sugar.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and as such, the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

You will need:

2 eggs (preferably at room temperature)

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups almond flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit .

Line your muffin pans with parchment liners.

Grate 2 cups of zucchini then pour onto a clean kitchen towel, roll up and squeeze the excess moisture out. Unroll the towel and allow the zucchini to dry out further on the counter while you begin making the batter.

In your stand mixer, mix on low eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla

In a another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: almond flour, tapioca flour or arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on low until combined. The zucchini adds a lot of moisture so don’t worry that your batter looks thick at this point.

Add your shredded zucchini and chocolate chips, mix until well blended.

For ease and precision, I use an ice cream scoop, to fill muffin tins. But you can use a spoon or spatula to fill them 3/4 of the way. I got 16 muffins out of this recipe.

Bake in your preheated oven for 22-25 minutes or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

We celebrated something really big last weekend.

I wrote previously about how my son achieved his Eagle Scout award last year, amidst a pandemic. This year, we came together to celebrate that achievement.

I’ve been largely MIA from social media, blogging, and any email communication because of the planning, prep, time, and effort needed to get everything done.

We had family and friends begin arriving a few days prior to the big day.

Having a house full of people is always so fun and fulfilling as I really enjoy spending time with those we don’t see very often. It was nice to completely disconnect from social media and just be present, to soak in the moments.

As I sat down to write my parent reflections for the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think this really was a culmination of sorts, a true celebration of how far my son has come and what a huge achievement this was.

In fact, it gave me time to reflect on his scouting years and how they coincided with our journey of autism treatment and recovery.

I remember those early years where he was overwhelmed by his surroundings and how many activities were harder for him than his peers.

I remember worrying when they went off for camp that first year, I was sure I would be called to go get him, despite his dad being there at camp with him. Not because I didn’t have faith in the abilities of either of them. But, things were much harder for my son back then. These experiences were stretching him, pushing him, often past his comfort zone.

But, the young man who came home to me that summer was taller, wiser, and more competent than the one who left. As I said those words when it was my time to speak, I saw him break down into tears for the first time during the ceremony.

But it was true and I don’t think many people truly understand how things that come so easy to others can be exponentially more challenging for individuals with autism.

Activities and skills often took Matthew more time or effort but he persevered. He kept going, even when it was hard. And having a stellar support system helped him do that.

Between the scout leaders, other scouts, his family, teachers, therapists, physicians, and professionals, we all were working towards the common goal of seeing him reach his potential.

I felt this celebration should honor all of that and everyone who participated in his journey, scouting or otherwise.

The attendees reflected that diverse collection and it was pure joy to celebrate my son amongst those that worked right along side me to support him through these years.

One special attendee was Julie Matthews. She is the leading nutritionist in the autism community and we met 12+ years ago when Matthew’s biomedical physician recommended we do a consultation with her to determine the right nutritional intervention given his specific needs and biochemistry.

Over the years Julie and I have become very good friends as well as colleagues and I have the joy of working with her professionally now.

I thought back and remembered Matthew as that little boy who was such a picky eater, had so many food allergies, craved nothing but wheat and dairy, and had sensory issues that made many textures impossible to eat. Here he was, now taller than us both, so strong, healthy, in part because of her help so many years ago.

Seeing my son now is a true testament to the power of hope and I am so proud of the young man he is.

Seeing him honored and celebrated and to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve been on the last decade was both exhilarating and incredibly emotional. Hearing his speeches as he gave out mentor pins filled me with pride.

I could not be prouder to be this young man’s mom.

Stay tuned, I will be blogging on the technical aspects of organizing a court of honor, including crafting, decorating, and the food involved.

But for now, I will bask a little longer in the joy of the week and take in the strange silence of the house with our visitors gone.

Autism and The Eagle Scout Award

2020….what can I say?

In some ways the last year has dragged on and in others it has flown by.

While our lifestyle didn’t change too drastically – I jokingly say “who knew our normal life was called quarantine?” it was a year largely focused on being home. And for service related organizations who seek to help outwardly, that can be challenging.

But, last spring, my son did a thing.

A big thing.

When I think back to when his scouting career began, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge where he was in his development back then.

He was largely non-verbal in expressive language. He was overwhelmed by his sensory environment a majority of the time.

Many meetings ended in meltdowns as he reached the end of his limits.

But, his dad was there every step of the way.

We learned early on that with our support, he could navigate challenging situations in scouting successfully. Even if they were hard or stretched him, he did it and the growth we saw and he felt was amazing to watch.

In the last 10 years, he has also not only navigated his scouting career but he navigated the biomedical course that would end in him losing his autism diagnosis at the school level.

As he made more improvements in his physical health and wellness, we saw leaps in his neurological development as well.

Conversely, the more engaged he became in scouting, the more growth we saw.

After summer camps, he came home taller and more independent.

That first year of summer camp I was sure I would get a call from my husband asking me to come pick him up.

I was wrong.

Yes honey, I just said I was wrong. And I was happy about that.

For us, seeing him blossom, expand his knowledge and interests, gain friendships, become a leader that others look up to, it is the ultimate blessing!

So when he reached the point in his scouting career when it came time to pick a project, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He loved reading and has been an avid reader forever. He wanted to help support other children with that through a Tiny Library. You can read more about this topic, including get plans to build your own or register your on the national registry here.

And then, his troop was contacted by our local elementary school about a teacher retiring and they wanted to find a scout to build a tiny library in her honor!

Hello! How perfect?

So he started looking at plans, creating his design, documenting his project, writing up the proposal, getting it approved. Those were challenging, requiring attention to detail, careful thought, paperwork.

There were parts of the process he balked at, where he wanted to give up.

Then he would think about the kids that would be helped, the love of reading he enjoyed and how some kids didn’t have access to books, especially during a pandemic with no in-person schools, library closures, etc.

So he kept working. He drew up the plans, solicited our local Home Depot store for assistance with a donation of supplies. They so thoughtfully and graciously donated all of the materials, we are so grateful.

Then he got to work. A big part of the Eagle Scout award involves leading others in the achievement of the project. So, he asked just a couple of other scouts (his sister being one) to help him so that we could maintain proper social distancing and keep it a safe environment for everyone.

He asked one other family to come over and help build this, outside of course.

They worked hard and navigated safe distancing and all of the other proper Covid-19 precautions.

And then, it was delivered to the school, with a plaque commemorating the teacher who is retiring. Books were placed.

And maybe tears were shed. OK definitely tears were shed.

When we were given a diagnosis of autism, it came with a grim view of his future. One that didn’t include living independently or achieving such goals as earning Eagle Scout.

While we never believed that our son’s potential could be determined by those words or the limitations that world often places on individuals with disabilities, to see him crush this high award was a joy and a gift.

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

This achievement was a team effort and the support from some of the scout leaders made a profound difference.

Do you have a child with autism or other disabilities who wants to get involved in scouting?

Here are some tips we found helpful along the way.

  • Get involved. As leaders, we had more control over his sensory experiences or knew the plan ahead of time and could prepare him. Over the years, it used to be that changes in the expected were really (really) challenging for him. Knowing what the plan was and prepping him was a huge help. And that doesn’t have to mean this becomes a second job for you or that you lead the troop! While my husband leads our Scouts BSA troop and I lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, I LOVE having parents involved in varying aspects over the year. You don’t have to run meetings or devote a ton of time to get involved in some way.
  • Talk to the other leaders about how your child can participate. More people than you think want to help, sometimes they just don’t know how. Other leaders can also be on the lookout for a sensory meltdown, help provide additional activities or accommodations so that your child can participate in a way that works for them.
  • Communicate with council for events/camp experiences. This was big related to food. My son eats a gluten, dairy, and soy free diet. Council events (including summer camp) have always made accommodations to his dietary needs. And listen, sticking to diet is just better for us all, trust me on that! While we always bring options for him, it has been nice not to have to!
  • Get to know the other parents. I have been so touched by other parents who, knowing our son’s challenges, triumphs, and needs, look out for him in little ways. That parent who brings desserts to the potlucks and always makes a version he can have, it seems so little but to our family, it means the world to have my son included and not feeling left out.
  • Each troop can vary depending on the leaders who are involved so if something doesn’t seem like a good fit, keep looking, try other troops. But I will say discriminatory behavior is not a scouting value! Over the years we even contemplated starting our own troop but in the end we found an existing one that became like family. It should feel like a good fit and should honor and support your child. The experiences of learning outdoor skills, concepts of leave no trace, helping to make the community and world at large a better place, skills like outdoor cooking, wilderness survival, camping, those should be available to every child who wants to engage.

If your child is interested in scouting and has a disability, you can read about their policies here.

While we may look back on 2020 with mixed emotions and certainly sadness over the loss we as a world have faced, I will always see this as one of our bright spots in the year.

Autism Recovery and Daring Greatly

This blog will be heavy with Brene Brown-isms so if that is not your jam, you may want to move on now.

On one of my work trips, back when traveling was a thing, I had the chance to watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special. Prior, I had not heard of her or her work.

My nose has been in other books for the last decade and exploring my own issues with shame was not on my to do list.

But, her Netflix special hit me, right in the core.

She quotes Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That spoke to me. On many levels.

Putting our journey out there is scary and does open me up to criticism. And it is a journey filled with triumphs and failures. This was not linear. But, I have always moved forward, daring greatly, with the desire to optimize my family’s health and wellness.

So a few weeks ago our family’s journey was shared by my dear, dear friend and colleague Julie Matthews. She has a series called Getting Your Hopes Up. Our family shared the profound improvements on many levels that came from shifting our dietary choices years ago. I recently updated it.

I now work for Julie along with my work with New Beginnings.

When that email went out, she got all kinds of feedback. Most of it positive, families wanting to make nutritional changes, who see the influence of chemicals and additives on their children, who understand the power of nutrition to heal.

And we got one negative……

And I will be honest, it took me a while to shake it off. This reader was highly offended at the prospect of autism recovery (although they called it cure, I did not) and it was clear that the email was triggering enough that they did not actually read the blog.

The person called this type of discussion ableist.

I have been increasing disheartened by this term being thrown about – including at me for sharing a story about the current pandemic and highest rates of severe reactions coming in those who are metabolically unwell.

Yeah, because I guess none of us have the ability to make any change that moves us towards the other end of the bell curve?!?

Listen, listen……I will always be a person who looks at what I can do. Even the tiniest step forward is still forward. And for a person who literally has had my hand ready and willing to help other parents without judgement for the last decade, yeah I can’t rock with that.

I feel in both cases it was really meant to incite shame and guilt and shut down any discussion that moves out of our comfort zone. This article even talks about the weaponizing of it related to autism and parents advocating on behalf of their children.

So back to the critic.

Being the people pleaser…..these types of things make me want to hole up, become even more of a recluse, never share about the amazing journey our family has been on.

It didn’t matter that some of the participants in Julie’s Nourishing Hope for Healing Kids program had posted in our private group how inspiring the blog was and how much they learned about my family that they didn’t know.

I help Julie moderate the group program and have been open about our journey to a point but my son is 17 so there was a lot of history that I did not go into. It didn’t matter that Julie got other emails talking about how much inspiration and hope our story provided.

It was that one negative response that I focused on.

This is not an isolated instance. Why, why focus on the one negative?

Without getting into a therapy session, I realized it was time to shift some shit.

And then this quote popped into my head, I pulled up the Netflix show and watched with my husband who needed to hear this message for his own reasons. That’s when I resolved to stand in our experience and truth for those who want this message. And so I shared….

This was my favorite Brene Brown quote. And it is what I need to continue to remember.

Unfortunately the critics will always be there. But, why do I care what they think?

I am no longer interested.

My energy is precious.

If I would not go to these people with something special to share or with a problem, why am I giving them space in my head? Someone will always have a judgement about my life and what I am doing. Social media has amplified that.

But at the end of the day, there is reflecting on how you are being perceived and making adjustments based on your own growth and there is allowing people to project their shame or other emotions onto you because your message invokes something in them.

I have written before about the chasm between the autism treatment and recovery community and the neuro-diversity community. I am not delving into that in this blog.

I am so thankful for autism treatment and my son’s recovery so that I can hear his beautiful voice, learn his unique perspective on the world, have a conversation, watch him develop relationships and have interactions he was unable to have prior.

This is not about changing who he is, it is about removing the barriers metabolically that were preventing the full expression.

So at the end of the day, I have to thank that critic. A line in the sand had to be drawn I guess.

While I may go off and lick my wounds from time to time, I will always get my ass right back into that arena. Not just for my child, but for yours too.

What Autism Recovery Means to Us

When I say the words “autism recovery” or that my son is considered recovered from autism, what comes up for you?





Maybe a few things come up for you.

When I sat across from a developmental psychologist and heard the words “Your child has autism” over 12 years ago, there were few resources that could provide information on ways to support my child in developing those things that he had just been assessed on:

  • Language
  • Sleep
  • Steroetypical behaviors
  • Eye contact
  • Pointing at objects
  • Seeking us out for things in his environment
  • Responding to his name
  • His frequent meltdowns and hours long screaming bouts
  • Distended belly
  • Constipation
  • Red rings under his eyes

Typically with a diagnosis of most things there is a laundry list of things that come with, things to improve quality of life, at least address symptoms. Not one pediatrician or specialist could tell me why my child stopped sleeping 6 – 7 hours per night and was now only sleeping about 4 hours max per night, 2 hours at a stretch.

They couldn’t tell me why he would obsess over specific items like pushing in the TV buttons to the point they were shoved inside the housing and no longer accessible. Why certain sounds made him scream bloody murder and why he would run around the house pushing all the buttons on the toys that made noise to counteract the offending sounds. His hearing was checked and found to be fine. So why would he not respond when I was just inches away calling him.

Why didn’t he run a fever when he had chicken pox at 6 months and then again at 3 years? And why on the few occasions he DID run a fever did he make eye contact, respond to his name, stop screaming?

Why did he suffer from chronic constipation at such a young age? Why did he prefer to drink milk rather than eat a meal and when he did eat, why did he gag on certain textures, requiring us to puree his foods? Why did he seem to crave wheat and dairy? Why when he got hurt did he not seem to feel the pain?

Why? Why with a diagnosis of autism were all those things just chalked up to “autism”? It was not autism for my son. I want to be clear, this is my son’s story and our journey.

While I did complete an educational doctorate program in traditional naturopathy, I am not a licensed naturopathic physician, medical doctor, or nutritionist. This is my family’s blog and journey and should not be taken as medical advice in any way. I provide my story as hope and things to consider in your own journey. If you need information on physicians and practitioners that I found helpful along the way, I am happy to share those but always work with a qualified medical professional before making any changes for your child or family.

Needless to say, when I was told there was nothing I could do to help my son and that I should consider long-term care as he would likely not be able to live independently, I didn’t listen.

There were things I could do, and did, and when we did, our son began to change, develop, catch up, and excel in ways we were told he never would.

What we did was work with a specialist who understood the various biomedical issues that are often co-morbid with autism (see my resources page). What are some of those?

  • Gut dysbiosis (overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, parasites, yeast, etc.)
  • Food allergies – intolerances
  • Immune system dysregulation
  • Genetic mutations making it harder to detox
  • Widespread inflammation
  • Infections (viral, bacterial, parasitic)

We did laboratory testing, kept logs of behavior, sleep, toileting, foods, therapies, supplements, and medications. Click here to download my daily sensory and diet log. I created this and found it helpful in logging and communicating important data for updates with our physician, practitioners, teachers, and therapists.

As we made dietary changes and addressed underlying issues (as you would in any diagnosis or medical condition) we saw changes. Better sleep, less constipation, more eye contact, more language were just some of the things that began to shift. All of our providers began to take note and ask what we were doing because of the progress he was making.

It wasn’t always linear, there were regressions and not everything was a home run but we continued to focus on one step at a time and keep moving in the direction of improvements and before we knew it he was hitting goals in therapy and needing less interventions at school!

When it came time to do retesting prior to going into kindergarten, his CARS evaluation showed him not in the “autistic range” whereas when he started in our local school district in their autism-specific preschool environment, he had scored in the “severely autistic” range. So when I speak of autism recovery, I speak of making medically directed, evidence-based interventions as needed for my son uniquely which resulted in the loss of the behavioral diagnosis of autism. Since autism is diagnosed based on behaviors and not underlying lab values, we use those same behavioral characteristics to determine progress in the school and therapeutic setting.

When looked at in this way, addressing the biomedical issues with a skilled physician allowed my son to gain language, sleep better, have and sustain eye contact, have regular bowel movements, reduce meltdowns, eat a wide variety of foods, including challenging textures that he previously could not eat, interact with his family and peers in a socially appropriate way, attend to school tasks, meet developmental milestones, meet and exceed therapeutic goals. There were very real biomedical “road blocks” to us hearing his voice, understanding his perspective. Once removed, the floodgates opened to a new perspective on who our son really is.

For our family, autism recovery is not wanting to change who my son is. It was about finding ways to support his overall health and wellness – that was going overlooked and being lumped into autism by other professionals. By addressing things through functional and integrative medicine, we saw the behavioral indicators associated with autism shift as a result as well.

Now, rather than changing my son, I get to see who he is, hear his sense of humor, talk to him about his unique perspective and view of the world. Before, I was unable to have a back and forth conversation, he was in physical pain that he was unable to express, he had a very hard time handling the stimuli of the world. His sensory needs reduced, his auditory processing delays and sensitivities improved, he can navigate the world with greater ease.

The picture above is of us last year, walking down the busy streets of San Francisco. He flew on an airplane to get there, slept in an unfamiliar hotel, ate out frequently, dealt with crowded airports, BART stations, streets, and shops. This would have been impossible years ago.

Family experiences, travel, calm, love, connection, joy. That is what autism recovery means to us.