Relax! Good Habits Don’t Have to Be Hard

By Carrie Speck, Herbalist and Sultana of Spice

Quite often in my experience as an herbalist, I notice that when people are attempting change the element of a good diet is missing. This might be from lack of time, energy, or knowledge, etc. There’s no judgement, but giving your body the right fuel is vital. If you seek wellness from supplements or herbs, they may help, but progress is hindered if you eat junk food every day. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional fast food, or that I’m perfect and cook everything. It’s about finding balance day to day, and week to week.


Our culture leads us to believe that “good habits” will lead to rapid weight loss, and improve health and appearance. Many of these diets fail, mainly because they are conceived with no regards for the sustainability of the plan. In order for a “diet” to be a sustainable long term solution, it would need to address the individual needs for nutrition, practicality, availability, and above all, pleasure. Many “diet” plans also don’t address stress, which is a major coFullSizeRender (13)ntributor in lowering metabolism and aggravating weight gain, and in fact actually compound existing stress levels with restriction mentality, overtraining, and poor nutrition.


Don’t be discouraged! True health and effortless weight management doesn’t come from counting calories, or cutting certain foods, or even working out like a maniac in the gym. It’s about creating a lifestyle for yourself that is sustainable in the long run for you. That lifestyle might include eating one less meal at a restaurantor cooking your meals for the week all at once.


After working at a gourmet food and spice shop, I learned a great deal about all the spices that are available, and I felt inspired to approach food from a different angle. Instead of following food trends and memorizing all the different styles of cooking, I wanted to approach food and spices from the perspective of educating and inspiring people to cook at home with new enthusiasm and creaM&Ktivity, and allowing them to try new things. From a different type of chili, to a new spice rub, or an herbally enhanced healing soup, or a stress reducing and delicious daily tea blend. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to taste good to you, not a tiresome, daily chore. However, I see so many people discouraged by cooking at home. That’s why we’re working together with M&K Food Shop. We needed help finding our balance too! For those who just don’t have time to cook every meal, or want to try something new, you can pick up wholesome, delicious, nourishing food, without all the preservatives and fillers often served in chain restaurants.


Cooking can be a fun outlet for creativity and health enhancement, with the right tools and knowledge, so come see us for ideas and new spices, but for those days or nights that you just can’t bear to fire up that oven, take the night off, come see Karen at M&K and let her please your palate while she feeds your soul.QueenpinLogo YinYang

Continuing the Self-Love Revolution – Perception

I ran across a great blog post last week about before and after photos. ‘Tis the season for starting fresh, and making plans about being more: more healthy, more conscious, more, more, more. Social media is full of posts about people eating better, and exercising more. When I speak with my patients though, it seems that most of us don’t have room for more.

We are all overflowing with things we “should” be doing. Things that will make our lives better in some shape or form. Yet, this is a season when we should be resting, restoring, hibernating so we can burst out in the spring. This is not the season for more. This is the season for less doing. It is the season for restoration.

Back to the blog post. The post was written about a fitness blogger and Instagramer Jessica Pack @plankingforpizza who posted Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 3.42.29 PMbefore and after pictures of herself on Instagram. They look very different, yet were taken 30 seconds apart.  

Pack did this to remind us that what we are seeing on social media is not always the whole story. It is a clip, a shot, a brief moment of perfection, but then life happens, things change, we relax our stomach muscles and our six pack sinks into a two pack. That’s life, ever changing, and 3 dimensional.


Author Geneen Roth wrote that the only thing that changes when you weigh yourself is how you feel about yourself. Lost a pound? Woo hoo! You are amazing! Gained a pound? You’ve fallen lower than pond scum, though a few minutes earlier you could have been rejoicing in your body’s ability to complete a challenging workout.

I’m a goal setter by nature and I love imagining what is next. This journey we are all on needs a map sometimes, and goals can help lead us on our way, but not at the expense of the now, and not if they are set based on someone else’s social media persona. My goals are very different from others’ goals because I know what I need for me, and only me.


Rebel this season by loving yourself enough to change your perception and allowing yourself to be perfect as you are RIGHT NOW. It’s okay to make changes, but do it with your eyes wide open to the fact that in this moment you are as lovely as you have ever been or ever will be. Look beyond the perfect moments on social media and remember that those awesome accomplishments people are making are great for them, but may not be what is right for you. Settle into this season of cold and comfort and S-L-O-W down. Take time to reflect on what guideposts you want to set on your journey.  The Whole 30 will be here in the spring, CrossFit gyms will still be accepting new members, the YMCA’s pool will still be heated. Take a minute, rejoice in all you have and all that you are, right now.

My New Year’s Resolution this year? To be a rebel, relax a little, and love my before, after, and right this moment pictures.


Spice Up Your Winter, Baby it’s Cold Outside!

These recipes are great for those who want a little spice with not a ton of heat, and you want to try something new! All spices are ground fresh from our vendor with no additives, and we have an “open and sniff” policy, so come check it out!

Harissa Spice Mix Marinade

The classic Moroccan seasoning Harissa is a spicy red blend of chilis, cumin, and garlic that complements a wide variety of foods. Harissa can be used in rice, couscous, soups, salads, vegetables, stews, kabobs and even on sandwiches instead of mustard. You can make a traditional Harissa paste by mixing the blend with chopped garlic and olive oil, as below.


Harissa Spice Mix

Recipe provided by M&K Food Shop. They currently have a delicious Turkish beef and veggie Harissa shish kabobs over Turkish rice, and it’s amazing! It’s available today and the week of December 13-17!

1 cup greek yogurt (vegan substitute- vegan sour cream)

1 tbs Harissa Spice Mix

¾ tsp garlic granules

1 tsp lemon juice

Olive oil- enough to thin the paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend together to form a paste, or a thin marinade. If using as a paste, toss your choice of protein (steak, chicken, tofu, etc) in paste to coat, and cook accordingly. If using as a marinade, marinate for 6-8 hours, then cook.  


Chocolate Chili Flourless Cake

Urfa chilies are a fairly mild chili named after Urfa, located in Turkey where they are grown. Urfa has a rich earthy flavor, an aroma of tobacco and smoke, raisins, and chocolate.  Urfa is typically used when preparing meat for cooking, but can be used by sprinkling on pastas, pizzas, and salads, and pairs especially well with chocolate!


Urfa Chili

Flourless Chocolate Cake


4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper, and butter paper.

In a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler, or bowl, from heat.  Wipe outside of bowl dry. Whisk in sugar, and add eggs while whisking. Sift ½ cup cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Top with ganache, dust additional cocoa powder on top if desired.

Chili Chocolate Ganache Topping:


7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

¾ cup whipping cream

Splash of Dark Rum (optional)

2 tsp-2 tbs Urfa Biber Chili


Heat the cream in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over a barely simmering pan of water.  Heat until it starts to steam and is warm to the touch, DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat, wipe outside of bowl dry, add chocolate and stir until smooth.  Add splash of rum (optional), stir into the chocolate sauce. Stir in Urfa Chili to taste, or alternatively, sprinkle the Urfa Chili over the top of the ganache once it is spread onto the cake, or offer in a bowl to guests as a condiment. Pour the ganache over your Flourless Chocolate Cake and spread smoothly and evenly. This can also be used over cupcakes, strawberries, or another favorite dessert!


Urfa Chili Chocolate Cake

Spice, Spice Baby and Smoked Paprika Potato Soup


By The Sultana of Spice Carrie

Queenpin Herb Shop has OPENED and not only do we carry a large selection of herbs, we also have spices! Freshly ground from our vendor, these spices will knock your socks off!

We have 3 different types of paprika, lots of different chili powders, and several blends. We also have an “open and sniff” policy, so come experience the aromas!

We will be sharing recipes on a regular basis. For your weekend, a simple delicious soup featuring Smoked Paprika (we have Hot and Sweet Smoked Paprika):

Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (roughly 4 cups)
1 pear, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (roughly 1 cup)
3 1/2 to 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Blue cheese, garnish
coarsely chopped pecans, garnish

Heat a pot over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then shallots; saute until shallots are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in sweet potatoes, pears, 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth, the smoked paprika, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, 15 to 18 minutes.
Use an immersion blender (or transfer soup to a standard blender) and puree until smooth. Add more vegetable broth, if you prefer a thinner soup. Stir in heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Divide soup into two bowls. Top with crumbled blue cheese, pecans and freshly ground black pepper.queenpin-herb-shop-logo

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