Caramel Maple Fig Cake

Okay, so just going to warn you, this is the LONGEST blog post ever! And it’s also the best because, I’m GETTING MARRIED!!! I know! Can you believe it?! There will be a whole other blog post about that so don’t you worry your pretty little heads off. This is also the best blog post because I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in 7 months and I’m going to dish ALL the dirty deets about it. For some people this wouldn’t be such a massive feat, but for me, it’s a pretty big deal.

I’m totally one of those people who LOVES to drink. Like, loves to drink. Mimosa at breakfast? Yes please! Cocktail at lunch? Yes please! Glass of wine at dinner? Yes please! Another round? Yes please! Most of the time I would try and refrain from drinking during the workweek and then I’d end up having 16-20 drinks over any given weekend between brunch, dinner, and lounging on the couch at home. That may sound like a lot, but think about it like this, 2-3 mimosas at breakfast, 2 cocktails at lunch, then 2-3 glasses of wine at dinner multiplied by 2 days. It adds up quick! Other times I’d have a glass or two of wine at night during the workweek to unwind. So now we’re talking 25-30 drinks per week. PER WEEK. I constantly craved it. Looking back I can’t believe that was my life. I was shackled to alcohol and I was so sick and tired of it.

I also couldn’t get through a social event without alcohol. Going to the beach? Not without a bottle of chardonnay in my purse. Going to the movies? Let’s go to one of those fancy ones where we can drink cocktails while we watch. Going to a concert? Not before pre-gaming somewhere. Going to a friends house? BYO-Booze. Sound familiar? I’m definitely not an introvert by any means, in fact I’d say all signs point to extrovert. I’m very outgoing, and I love to talk, but sometimes when I find myself in certain social situations that I’m not particularly comfortable with (large groups/crowds, certain family events, work events, etc.) I would have to have a drink just to get through it. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty fun to be buzzed and talk to people. Right? Until I’ve had too many and my filter is gone, and then it’s a bit dicey to say the least!

It was a never ending cycle though. I knew I wanted to cut back on drinking because it was just starting to spiral and I really wanted to lose some weight for my Caribbean trip in August. I’m going with Juli from PaleOMG and have you SEEN her abs (Chandler from Friends voice)?! Having to be in a bathing suit at all times for a week straight will do that to you. Last December at dinner I drank 5 glasses of wine and was barely buzzed. Not cool. And let’s do the math, 5 glasses of wine multiplied by 120 calories a glass = 600 calories. 600 calories! For what?! Do you know how much food you can eat for 600 calories, that’s almost half of what I should be eating in an entire day, and that was just a normal dinner out. SMH. That’s also wine. 120 calories is pretty low for a glass of booze. Beer and cocktails have way more calories, so on a typical night out you can easily add 1000 calories to you day just in alcohol alone. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather house some gluten-free pizza or a bomb-ass flourless brownie sundae with all those calories than drink them. AMIRIGHT?!

Caramel Maple Fig Cake

Another thing that happened was I read this REALLY good book that a friend recommended called, This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, & Change Your Life by Annie Grace. It has completely transformed how I think about alcohol. Like completely. I highly recommend it! But I will also give a strong warning with it, once you read this book, you can’t go back. Every time you drink you will think about what you read in this book and you’ll see alcohol in a completely different light. It’s actually really scary at first. Something that was once so comfortable, familiar, and such a close friend, like a warm fuzzy blanket, then becomes a stranger. And to just walk away from it, when you really don’t want to but know you need to, like a bad boyfriend, it leaves you feeling unsure and entirely exposed.

Alcohol is a very interesting part of our society. It’s so glamorized. It’s like the smoking of the 70’s and 80’s. Like remember when smoking was “cool”. Then we found out it causes cancer and prematurely ages you, etc. etc. What do you think alcohol is doing to your body? “But what about all those fun Facebook articles my friends share about how a glass of wine is good for your heart health and high in antioxidants?!” Who do you think pays for those studies? Can I get ‘Alcohol Companies’ for $500 Alex. There is absolutely no nutritional value in alcohol that your body benefits from ever, PERIOD. In fact alcohol is a toxin and your body doesn’t like it at all. As much as we wish wine was a fruit serving because it’s made from grapes, it’s not.

So what did I do? I learned… A LOT! I gave up alcohol for 7 months and this is what happened…

The Pros of Not Drinking

1. No hangover

You don’t realize how awesome hangovers aren’t until you stop having them. Prime example, I just went snowboarding with all my shred friends over the weekend. I listened to them plan for a good solid 20 minutes on how they were going to navigate the night of drinking so that they weren’t too hungover in the morning to be miserable snowboarding all day (been there). I’m talking serious details and planning going down! I was expecting them to pull out an Excel spreadsheet or blueprints or something. I realized with glee that I didn’t even have to spend 1/10 of a second thinking about it. I’d be up and at em’ and ready to send it!

2. You Lose weight without doing anything

I gave up drinking on December 31st. So the “Holiday 10” I gain every year like clockwork was gone within the first month. From not really changing anything except not drinking (and probably from not shoving Holiday cookies down my throat, let’s be real). Again refer to the 600 calorie minimum as stated above.

3. You Don’t lose all your stuff

Yes Pavel, I’m talking about you. After drinking all day while we were snowboarding the other weekend, my friend Pavel couldn’t remember where he left all his snowboarding gear. Did he accidentally leave his helmet, googles, gloves, and season pass back at Main Lodge where they were drinking before they left? Or was his stuff in the car somewhere? Or the room? He couldn’t find anything or even remember where he’d last seen his stuff. How many nights out drinking have you lost your phone, your credit card, your ID, your decency? Too many to count.

4. You save money

Like, SO MUCH MONEY. When I go out to eat with my friends, my portion of the bill will always be around $10-$17 and theirs will be at least $45, sometimes up to $65. When I go snowboarding with all of my friends we like to share an Airbnb so we can cook and hang out together. We all get together to go grocery shopping for meals and booze. When it comes time for everyone to Venmo, I owe $6.28 for the whole weekend and they owe $29.33. That’s a pretty big difference. My hot chocolate break on the mountain is $4 with tip. Their drinks are about $14 a pop and they end up usually having about 2-3 drinks in one sitting, so with tip, about $45. I spend $4, they spend $45. EVERY TIME we stop at the lodge. Alcohol is EXPENSIVE.

5. Better sleep quality

This one trips me out! I have the craziest most vivid dreams that I completely remember, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! Most people think drinking makes you sleep better, but the exact opposite is true. It doesn’t allow your body and brain to get to the deeper levels of your sleep cycles. This would lead me to feel exhausted ALL OF THE TIME. I would walk around like a zombie and couldn’t figure out why I felt so drained all the time. I was eating right, exercising, going to bed at a decent hour and I even thought I had a thyroid problem or something at one point because it was so bad. I feel awesome now and it’s super far and few between that I have a day where I don’t feel rested. Another pro is when my alarm clock goes off, I’m up immediately. I don’t curse my existence and I can’t remember the last time I hit the snooze button.

6. Mental clarity

You remember stuff. I used to ALWAYS forget stuff. In fact I would have to set alarms on my phone and leave post-its everywhere to remind me to do stuff and I’d still manage to forget it. Now things just come to me. If I’m in the grocery store and forget my list, I manage to remember everything I need. At work, I can remember little things I need to and get my job done more efficiently. I can also multi-task a lot better which my life and work requires me to do constantly.

7. My skin looks so much better

Like SO much better. A nice dewy glow has replaced the dry leathery suitcase skin I used to live with all the time. I look way younger too since my wrinkles aren’t so imprinted into my dry-ass face. My color is so much more rosy and it just looks super healthy! I get compliments on my skin all the time now. It could also be my Primally Pure Skincare of course. Maybe a combo of both? (Read my blog post about skincare here.)

8. You make better choices

This comes to all areas of your life, food, people, exercising (because you’re not too hungover to skip it), not peeing or vomiting in public, not waking up in strange places, and don’t even get me started on drunk shopping! Better choices means less regrets too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up the next morning after a long night of boozing so embarrassed by something I said or did. Luckily my friends love me and know that drunk Vanessa has NO filter.

9. Alcohol is addictive

Not in the 12 steps, give me power to control that which I cannot control way, although YES that is absolutely a HUGE reality and completely stems from the fact that alcohol is addictive. But what I’m talking about here is in the way that sugar is addictive. You eat sugar, your brain pleasure centers light up with a dopamine response, your insulin levels rise, then your blood sugar falls and your body craves the sugar and the pleasure, then the cravings are too hard to control, so you give in and eat it, and the cycle continues and continues. Alcohol is the exact same way. You become addicted to it. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this, could you go to dinner, brunch, a sporting event, a wedding, a BBQ, or to the club this weekend with friends, and not drink? The thought of doing that sucks right? Trust me, I get it. Does that mean you’re an alcoholic? Not in the terms that we’re used to, but alcohol is so addictive that you can’t imagine going without it and won’t even consider giving it up. It’s even used as a treat for getting through a challenging task like putting the kids to sleep or making it through a rough day at work.

Caramel Maple Fig Cake


What I Learned

1. You don’t need to drink to have fun

You really don’t. If you honestly enjoy the company you’re in, you’ll have fun regardless. I have a close knit group of friends, and each one of them I love to spend time with regardless of whether or not alcohol is involved. We still laugh just as hard and have just as much fun, if not more, because we can hang longer and not having to worry about passing out or how we’re going to stay sober enough to get back home. I can say with complete conviction that I have not missed out on a single experience because I wasn’t drinking. In fact I probably ended up enjoying my experiences MORE.

2. Alcohol is everywhere

The next time you watch TV, a movie, or go out in public, just take the time to notice how prevalent alcohol is in our society. The bar is strategically placed to be the first thing you see when you walk into a restaurant, so alcohol is in your subconscious before you even sit down at your table. The alcohol bottles are made to look gorgeous with their fancy under lighting and pretty reflections to get you to order one (or 5) and in turn spend more money. Alcohol is everywhere and everyone associates it as a positive experience even though puking in the toilet has never once felt positive to me.

3. People will pressure you to drink

Not because they don’t love you or support you, it’s just that they want to drink and they don’t want to drink by themselves. My friends know I’m obsessed with Moscow Mules, so they will buy my favorite Moscow Mule fixings (Ketel One, Bundaberg Ginger Beer, lime, mint and even copper cups!) to try and get me to drink with them. Honestly, I’m more impressed by this than anything. I admire their perseverance and the fact that they just get me on that level.

You will also notice that sometimes people will get uncomfortable when you say you aren’t drinking, especially at a dinner table when they are about to order a drink. It’s nothing against you, it’s just them questioning themselves and why they need to have a drink in order to enjoy the meal and why you don’t. Then they’ll wonder quickly if they should continue with their drink order despite this new information. It really has nothing to do with you so don’t worry about it.

4. You will feel incredible

I cannot stress this enough! My sleep is better, my workouts are better, my food choices are better, my quality of life is just BETTER. Not being hungover, or constantly exhausted, or always feeling like I’m on the cusp of depression is great. I feel awesome!

Caramel Maple Fig Cake

So you’re probably wondering how you are supposed to navigate life with no alcohol, well here are some of the tips and tricks I learned along the way that helped me the most.

Tips + Tricks

1. Never Go Empty Handed

When you’re at an event where alcohol is served, carry a drink in your hand at all times. Whether it’s a soda water and lime or a huge HydroFlask full of plain water (what I carry to get all my daily water in), just carry it. No one pays attention to what you’re drinking like you think they do and just the simple act of being able to mingle and still drink something puts you at ease.

2. Don’t Tempt Yourself

The first 2 weeks will be the hardest. I recommend not to put yourself in any tempting situations. This means don’t keep any in the house and don’t go to your favorite steakhouse that serves your favorite wine or craft cocktail on Happy Hour. In fact I recommend not going out to eat at all in those first 2 weeks unless it’s a quick spot that doesn’t serve alcohol. I don’t know about you, but I have all my favorite cocktails at all my favorite spots memorized. Why put yourself in the path of temptation? After the first 2 weeks the cravings will subside and it will be easier to pass on drinks.

3. Exercise

Exercise is your body’s answer to pretty much everything. Depressed? Exercise. Tired? Exercise. Need more energy? Exercise. Want to sleep better? Exercise. Stressed? Exercise. Want to quit drinking? Exercise. Seriously. Take all the money you’ll save from not drinking booze and try out a cool new workout class in your area or grab some friends to go hike on Thursday/Friday evenings and make that your Happy Hour.

Caramel Maple Fig Cake

Just for Fun Facts

Events I survived this year without alcohol:

  • New Years Eve
  • New Years Day
  • Too many après snowboarding to count
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Countless brunches and dinners out at great restaurants
  • One Graduation Party
  • Two weddings, one at a winery
  • Three birthday parties, one at a winery
  • Four BBQ’s
  • Five work Happy Hours
  • Brad’s birthday
  • Mine and Brad’s 7-year anniversary
  • Our engagement

The point being – IT CAN BE DONE regardless of what events life throws at you.

So that begs the question, why do we drink so much? Is it because everyone else is drinking? Or because it’s just expected in certain situations? Or because we’ll feel left out if we don’t? Or will we miss out on the experience? What is it? Let’s get to the real question you’re probably wondering. Will I ever drink again? Absolutely. (See 9. above.) I will drink on my Caribbean vacation in August and I will probably drink during my birthday week in September, and you know what, I’m okay with that. I’m being realistic with myself. But I also realize that I’ve learned so much during this little experiment that there is a real possibility I might not actually even like alcohol anymore and I may not want to continue drinking. It might not be as fun and familiar as I remember it. It might actually be horrible. I might decide that I don’t want to continue drinking because I know exactly what it’s doing to my body. I really just don’t know at this point.

I also realize the second that I re-introduce alcohol to my body again, I will have to fight off the terrible cravings that come with the territory. I will also most likely have to endure hangovers. Neither of which I’m particularly looking forward to. Could I enjoy my vacation without alcohol? Of course I could. Could I go the rest of the year with out drinking? Absolutely. Could I go two years without drinking? I definitely think so. So why give in now? Why not just stay strong and pass on the booze? Because honestly I’m just not ready to commit to never drinking again at this point. The reality is at the end of the day drinking a great glass of wine, having a good craft beer on nitro or a well made Moscow Mule, brings me simple joy and life is just too short.

What I do know is how great I feel right now living an alcohol-free life and that might actually outweigh everything at some point. By my vacation I will have been sober for 8 months, that’s the better part of a year. I may get back from vacation and not drink for the rest of the year. Or maybe I will fall into a spiral again and have to re-read This Naked Mind, or go over the “Pro List” I’ve written above and quit all over again. I just don’t know. I’m okay with figuring it out though in my own time and in my own way. I’m definitely a little scared because I don’t want to go back to the place where I was, but I also want to be able to enjoy alcohol from time to time as I see fit. Ideally, I’d like to be one of those drinkers that only has alcohol on super special occasions or when it’s really worth it. I will definitely have an update to this post after vacation and stuff to let you know what happened!

So what’s the point of this blog post? To judge and condemn you for drinking? To try and convince you that alcohol is the devil and you should quit immediately? Nah boo, do you. I just wanted to share my experience as someone who felt shackled to alcohol and was able to free themselves from the chains. Also as someone who tries to do the best they can for their body. My experience was very eye opening and a lot different than I expected it to be. It was very challenging, but ultimately worth it in the end and I feel like I’ve grown so much because of it. I wanted to share that.

Are you trying to quit drinking? Have you already quit drinking? Share your story with me in the comments below! Oh, and here’s your recipe as a prize for making it through this incredibly lengthy, and perhaps preachy, blog post! Here’s the recipe for my favorite cake that I’ve ever made, because I’m getting married and weddings call for cake! I would love to remake this for our special day. Not only is it perfection, it’s absolutely mouth watering! This cake recipe was first featured in my cookbook, Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, along with dozens of other cake recipes. So if you like cake, you may wanna grab yourself a copy! Just saying. I hope you enjoy!

Caramel Maple Fig Cake


Caramel Maple Fig Cake
Serves 10
One 2-layer, 6-inch (15-cm) cake or one 1-layer, 8-inch (20-cm) cake (to make the 4-layer cake shown in photos, see Variations below)
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. 2 cups (184 g) sifted fine-ground blanched almond flour
  2. ¼ cup (34 g) tapioca flour
  3. 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  4. ½ cup (65 g) maple sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  6. ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  7. ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  9. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  10. ½ cup (115 g) palm shortening, plus more for greasing
  11. ½ cup (120 ml) canned full-fat coconut milk
  12. ¼ cup (60 ml) light-colored raw honey, melted
  13. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  14. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce
  1. ½ cup (64 g) maple sugar
  2. ¼ cup (35 g) coconut sugar
  3. ½ cup (120 ml) canned full-fat coconut milk, room temperature
  4. 4 tablespoons (2 ounces/56 g) salted butter or ¼ cup (55 g) ghee
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  1. 16 tablespoons (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 cup (130 g) sifted maple sugar
  3. ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  4. 1 tablespoon milk (regular or dairy-free type)
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For garnish
  1. 2 figs, quartered
  2. Handful of fresh blackberries and blueberries (optional)
  3. Fresh flowers (optional)
For the Cake*
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom of two 6-inch (15-cm) or one 8-inch (20-cm) springform cake pan(s) with parchment paper, then grease the paper and sides of the pan liberally with palm shortening; set aside. (If making cupcakes or the cake shown in the photo, see the Variations below.)
  2. Prepare the Salted Caramel Sauce and place in the refrigerator to let cool while preparing the cake layer(s). The caramel sauce will be easier to spread when cold.
  3. In the bowl of an 11-cup (2.6-L) food processor, combine the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, maple sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse 30 times or until combined.
  4. In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat using a hand mixer set to high until eggs are very foamy and soft peaks are about to form; set aside.
  5. Next add the palm shortening, coconut milk, honey, almond extract, and vanilla to the bowl of the food processor, followed by the beaten egg whites. Process until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed and process again for another 30 seconds until a smooth and creamy cake batter is formed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared springform cake pan(s), and use a rubber spatula to help scrape all the cake batter in to the pan(s). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife along the edge between the cake and the pan to loosen from the sides. Remove and let cool completely.
  7. Once the cake(s) is completely cooled, prepare the frosting.
  8. To assemble: If making a single-layer 8-inch (20-cm) cake, place the cake on a cake plate or cake plate and spread a layer of caramel across the top. Then spread a layer of frosting on the top, completely covering the caramel, and the sides. If making a multilayer cake, use a serrated knife to cut away any uneven places on the top of the cake. Place the first cake layer on a cake plate and, using an offset spatula, spread a layer of caramel across the top of the cake. Then spread a layer of frosting over the caramel layer. Place the second cake layer on top, upside down, and cover the top and edges of the cake with the remaining frosting. Use plastic or wooden dowels to secure the cake and keep the layers from sliding (these are helpful because the caramel tends to spread as it comes back up to room temperature). Garnish the top with quartered figs and berries or fresh flowers, or both, if desired. If using one of the cheese-based frostings, store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If using buttercream, store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic for up to 2 days.
For the Caramel Sauce
  1. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugars, coconut milk, and butter. Over low heat, whisk gently in one direction, so the butter doesn’t separate, until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is combined. Then turn the heat up to medium and bring to a soft boil, then add the vanilla extract and salt and whisk until combined.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk gently until the mixture becomes a smooth liquid again. Place back over heat and boil for an additional 2 minutes to thicken further. Remove from the heat, whisk until mixture becomes a smooth liquid again. Repeat this process for a total of four times. The caramel should be the consistency of thick soup.
  3. Remove from heat. The caramel will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate to cool and thicken completely or freeze for extra-thick caramel. As the caramel comes back up to room temperature it will begin to thin slightly and return to a pourable state. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, maple sugar, and salt. Beat, using the whisk attachment, on medium speed until combined. Then add the milk and vanilla and continue to beat on high until the butter has lightened and the mixture has become fluffy and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk as needed. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with desired tip or use with an offset spatula. Store any remaining frosting in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 2 days. Do not place in the refrigerator; the cold temperature will cause the butter to harden. If you don’t have a stand mixer this recipe can be made with a hand mixer; follow the same process using a large mixing bowl.
  1. To make the batter using an electric mixer: In a large mixing bowl, put the almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, maple sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir together using a fork until combined. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a separate medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat using an electric mixer set to high until eggs are very foamy and soft peaks are about to form; set aside. In separate bowl, put the palm shortening, coconut milk, honey, almond extract, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until combined. Transfer the palm shortening mixture to the dry ingredients, add the beaten egg whites, then beat together on medium-low speed until mixed and combined. Transfer to greased and parchment-lined cake pan(s) and bake as directed.
  1. Caramel Maple Fig Cupcakes: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners. Use a spoon to transfer the batter into the lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to let cool completely. Pipe the frosting on top, then drizzle the caramel sauce on top of the frosting. Garnish with fig slices, berries, or flowers.
  2. *Caramel Maple Fig Cake (as pictured, 4 layers): To make the four-layer cake shown in the photo, line the bottom of four 6-inch (15-cm) springform cake pans with parchment paper, then grease the paper and sides of the pan liberally with palm shortening; set aside. (If you only have two 6-inch (15-cm) springform cake pans, you can still make the cake; you will simply need to wait to make the second batch of batter until you’ve removed the first two cakes from the oven.)
  3. Prepare a double batch of the Salted Caramel Sauce and place in the refrigerator to let cool while preparing the cake layer(s).
  4. To make the layers in this cake, prepare one batch of the batter at a time following Steps 3 through 5 above. Bake the cake layers, following Step 6 above. If you have four 6-inch (15-cm) springform cake pans, you can begin the second batch of cake batter while the first two cakes are baking and pop the second set of cakes in the oven as soon as the first two are removed. If you have only two pans, begin the second batch of batter after you’ve removed the first two cakes from oven. While the second set of cake layers are cooling, make the frosting. To assemble the cake, follow the instructions assembling a multilayer cake in Step 8 above, repeating the process for the four cake layers. Serves 8 to10.
Make Ahead
  1. Cake Layer(s) – 1 day
Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

43 Comments on Caramel Maple Fig Cake

  1. Jasmine
    July 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm (6 years ago)

    Awe!! First, no one likes a tease!!! Second, I applaud you for not drinking. It’s so funny, at my wedding, we didn’t have alcohol and everyone flipped. My parents tried to pressure me, friends wanted to make booze runs, all of it. No one stayed as late as you usually would because there wasn’t any alcohol.. Not drinking makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I still have friends and family that “wished I still drank.” Was I an alcoholic? Absolutely not. Did I use alcohol in unhealthy ways, absolutely. I recently went to Spain and walked 100k with my mom. I told her I would have a sip of wine with her to toast her. She started to pour, a lovely Spainish red lol, and I had to stop her. I literally took a sip and that was it. I went to Paris! No alcohol. I truly believe that some people no longer speak to me because I don’t drink. At the end of the day, that’s OK. It takes some getting used to, for the loved ones in your life. The great news is that I’ll always remember what happened and my bank account is used for facials instead of booze. I’ve been sober for almost three years now. I still enjoy life! 💋💋
    P.S. There better be mas pictures in your next post!!! Love,

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm (6 years ago)

      Haha didn’t mean to tease you! So excited that you’re so excited! First of all your trip looked absolutely incredible, and honestly I bet you enjoyed it 1000 times more because you got to experience it without alcohol diluting it! I’m so proud of you! We’ve come a long way Tall! I’ll still always admire how badass of a drinker you were when I first met you, (did you just swallow that? Wow, I’m impressed. Ha!) Now I’m so glad to be friends in health, wellness, and happiness! I love hearing your experience first hand because it just reiterates everything I wrote and makes me want to stick to this new way of life! XOXO Short

  2. Emily
    July 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Congratulations on your engagement! And thank you, thank you, for your post. I feel like I am probably exactly where you were before you stopped drinking-I love a little adult beverage, to reward myself for finishing a difficult chore, to relax when the kids have been particularly stressful, to celebrate a special occasion (or brunch). I’m really hard on myself about it, because my dad drank himself to death almost exactly three years ago, and I do not want to do that to my kids. I’m also feeling rather “fluffy” lately and not wanting to be in a bathing suit, or even shorts, this summer. I’m definitely going to get the book you recommended-it is in my Amazon cart now. When you stopped drinking, did you get rid of things in your house, or just make a conscious decision not to drink them? We just had a party last weekend and I have so many delicious ciders left…and my husband signed me up for the scotch of the month club for my last birthday, and I have six months of that left. Just curious how you went about your first two difficult weeks! I’ve had four babies, and of course did not drink during pregnancy, so I know I can quit for long periods!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 19, 2017 at 4:22 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks so much Emily! I could not be happier! I’m glad to know you can relate and I’m not alone! Ha! I think that’s one of the biggest challenges is we have these thoughts about alcohol and think we’re alone, and we’re totally not! For the first two weeks to probably a month I didn’t keep any alcohol in the house that I would want to drink. For me that was wine, Henrdrick’s gin, cider, and vodka. Anything else like Coors light or whiskey that my boyfriend (I mean, fiancee!) had in the house wouldn’t bother me because it wasn’t a temptation. The hardest thing for me, still to this day, is eating out at cool restaurants with the hip craft cocktails or having a nice steak dinner without wine. If I were you, I would just give it all away! Use the scotch as gifts to people for occasions like birthdays and stuff. For the cider, can you bring it to work to give away? If you have to just throw it in the trash. Haha, I know that seems wasteful, but the point is to just take the first step and get it out of your life. I think it’s best to do some self reflection and figure out what is the biggest temptation for you and then eliminate that for the first 2 weeks for sure. Think about what triggers you have that make you want a drink, what environments tend to be most difficult for you? Then take it day by day, event by event. Try to look for the positive in each day and write down one thing a day that you enjoy about not drinking and read over it when you’re feeling weak. Hope that helps!!! 😀

  3. Lisa B
    July 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm (6 years ago)

    Amen sister! I quit drinking the same time as you bc I had the exact same feelings as you about what it was doing to my life and my health and let me tell you quitting was the best thing I’ve done. I’ve lost weight and have gotten my life on track and am following through with my career change goals to health coaching because of it. I HAVE had my first one again on a couple special occasions over the past month and I was not a fan. It wasn’t the old friend I remembered and honestly I don’t enjoy liquor at all anymore. I can’t drink beer bc my body hates it and the only wine I feel like I enjoy is low alcohol sparkling, whites and very light reds but even then it’s 1-2 and I’m done. No more drinking at brunch and definitely not late in the evening. I enjoy my sleep too much. I also follow it with vitamin C, B vitamins and lots of water to help my body out. Congrats on your sobriety and the wonderful things you’ve been doing for yourself and congrats on your engagement! It’s such a fun and exciting time in life. I also want to say, as a former pastry chef, your book is my go to every time when I have a special occasion. Your recipes are the best! Keep doing your thing girl! 😘

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm (6 years ago)

      Lisa! You’re seriously the best! I love when pastry chefs say they like my book because it makes me feel like I actually know what I’m doing! Ha! It’s so great to hear how many people can relate and how many people are giving up alcohol because they realize it doesn’t serve any purpose. And how good is sleep?! It’s seriously the best! I’m hoping that when I go on my Caribbean trip that I just want nothing to do with it. It’s so great to hear that you are pursuing what you love and that your life has become so much more fulfilling since you gave up drinking! Love it! So excited about the wedding, can’t wait to blog about it! haha! Thanks for commenting! It’s great hearing from everyone. 😀

  4. Heather
    July 20, 2017 at 7:57 am (6 years ago)

    I’ve reached at a point where I think I need to cut back… you’re absolutely right – alcohol is so prevalent wherever you are. It just seems normal to me to go home and have a glass of wine or two to relax and parties always seem to have booze involved – who’s bringing what, what are you drinking, what do you mean you aren’t drinking – you need a drink! I’m kind of thinking a little experiment for at least a month is in order and I’m checking out that book!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 24, 2017 at 1:56 pm (6 years ago)

      Right?! It’s every where! I just needed a good solid break from it. It’s weird though, I have dreams that I’m drinking it. Isn’t that funny. That book is seriously great. It debunks all the good things we think about alcohol and shows you what’s really happening behind the glamour and the glitz. It’s like an E! True Hollywood Story! hahaha.

  5. Julie Bresette
    July 20, 2017 at 8:19 am (6 years ago)

    Yes! A couple of years ago I came to terms with the fact that I feel physically awful even after a small amount of alcohol. It just didn’t work for me anymore. It is hard. I get what you are saying about the glamour of drinking. I feel pretty with a glass of champagne. However, I’ve found that feeling good on the inside is the best way to ultimately feel pretty. Thanks for posting and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you so much Julie! We could not be more excited! 🙂 I know, I LOVE champagne, and all I wanted was a glass to celebrate on our anniversary and engagement, but I didn’t have one. I probably will at our wedding, because, yolo, but other than that I don’t want to use it as a must have to celebrate. After all, it’s about the event right, not the drink! haha.

  6. Elvia
    July 20, 2017 at 10:27 am (6 years ago)

    Great job!!! Congrats to you! Congrats on your upcoming wedding!
    I’ve never been a huge fan of alcohol because my father is an alcoholic. It’s a demon waiting to snatch you up! Since reading what all it does to your body, like you said, even worse. I have so many problems with my gut and that in itself enough to make me not get buzzed or drunk! I’m not going to say I don’t have the occasional glass of normal glass of wine, I do, but not like I used too, to the brim!
    I’m super happy for you, God bless!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 24, 2017 at 2:03 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Elvia! I’m so excited! I totally hear you, my standard glass of wine always got bigger and bigger! I remember being at restaurants and they would poor a glass of wine and I’d think, that’s it?! We’ll see how it goes while I’m on vacation! God bless!

  7. Karra
    July 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm (6 years ago)

    Congratulations – on the engagement AND getting a hold on the booze!

    Question about the cake: where the fig comes into play? Is it just used as the garnish? I feel like I missed something, otherwise it would be caramel maple fig blackberry blueberry cake! Thanks!


    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 24, 2017 at 2:07 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks Karra! Correct, the figs are just used as a garnish, same with the blackberries. I use this cake as an example in my book to show people how you can decorate a cake using healthy things. If you wanted to put figs into the cake, I would maybe make a fig compote and then use that between the layers under the frosting, yum!

  8. Mom
    July 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm (6 years ago)

    You go girl. Congratulations! I should read more of your blogs as it gives me insight into your life. I did not know you quit drinking.

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 24, 2017 at 2:04 pm (6 years ago)

      Haha thanks. I don’t blog often, but when I do it’s a good update on what’s going on in a nutshell! 🙂

  9. Stacey
    July 24, 2017 at 9:42 pm (6 years ago)

    Congrats on your engagement and the 7 months sober! I gave up alcohol on July 2nd. Don’t really miss it at all so far. Since I gave up alcohol I decided to do a Whole 30 since the only thing holding me back from doing this before was the no alcohol thing.
    BTW, were you snowboarding in Mammoth (you mentioned Main Lodge)? That is where I live….

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 27, 2017 at 9:12 am (6 years ago)

      Thank you so much! I’m beyond excited! It’s like once you give up alcohol and get past the craving phase, you’re fine. At this point I don’t even think about alcohol unless I’m at a really cool restaurant. My vacation is a week from today so I’m curious to see how that’s going to go. Kind of nervous, I just love not drinking so much and I don’t want to get sucked back in. Yes! Mammoth is my jam! It’s my favorite place to snowboard. I live in San Diego so it’s a drive, but worth it. I think I made like 7 Mammoth trips this season. You’re so lucky to live there, can I move in with you? I’ll cook!

      • Stacey
        July 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm (6 years ago)

        I totally know what you mean about not wanting to get sucked back in! We’re going to Cabo at the end of August and I SO do not want that trip to lead to bad habits!
        The Mountain officially closes on August 6th. Can’t believe how long it stayed open this year!
        Let me know the next time you come up…I’ll take you to Food Cache. Have you been yet? So yummy!

      • Vanessa Barajas
        July 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm (6 years ago)

        I know! I hope next year is just as epic! I have my season pass already so I’m ready to rock. I LOVE Food Cache! It’s so good. I also love Black Velvet coffee, it’s my favorite. Man I love Mammoth, can’t wait to be back! I’ll let you know, maybe we can do a run together! 😀

  10. Melissa Novotny
    July 25, 2017 at 7:20 pm (6 years ago)

    I mean, WOW. This is stunning! Almost too pretty to eat… almost

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 27, 2017 at 9:09 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Melissa! I know! That’s always the dilemma with pretty cakes! But, who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to eat it! haha…

  11. Beth
    August 1, 2017 at 6:43 am (6 years ago)

    This was my first time stumbling upon your blog through Julie B., and it will not be my last! So happy to read your alcohol revelation, my husband (an almost 4 year sober alcoholic) and I (just a personal choice) don’t drink and we do sometimes stick out or feel like we don’t quite fit in with the “in crowd,” yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Having a toddler and working full time, there are definitely nights that a gin and tonic or sangria sounds pretty nice, but I sip my kombucha and carry on ;)Congrats on your engagement and bravo for sharing something so raw, personal, and against the norm!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      August 2, 2017 at 10:53 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks Beth! So happy you found me! YES I totally find that kombucha or carbonated water help me so much. It’s almost like you just need something to sip on and then you don’t think about it. Haha. Glad you guys are doing so great living an alcohol free life!

  12. Amy
    August 1, 2017 at 10:11 am (6 years ago)

    Wow, this was such a timely post for me. I came to this blog from paleomg to try to get details about your yacht trip (I’m looking for a March trip). I recently, like 3 weeks ago, quit drinking after a couple of summers of too much and blackouts, hangovers,questionable choices (food and others). I can’t agree with the exercise statement and the gains enough. I too am not ready to say I’ll never drink again, but I’m also scared to even think about drinking in the future. Thanks for the post, I needed to know I wasn’t alone and reinforcement! Please, also give details on your trip too!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      August 2, 2017 at 10:59 am (6 years ago)

      We’re both SO excited for the trip! I will definitely come back and give all the deets! Wow! Great job, keep up the good work! I’m telling you, you won’t believe your quality of life without alcohol. It’s incredible. I’m scared too. I’m scared to be on vacation and get back into the cycle of drinking again and have to go through all the hard parts again. It’s SO tough. It’s crazy how hard it is. I keep trying to ask myself, what is it that makes alcohol so irresistible? Is it that taste? Not really, I mean it’s gross by itself unless you mix it in something or if it’s like beer or wine. Is it the buzzed feeling? Which we actually learn in This Naked Mind is really just a strong sugar buzz and then the alcohol takes over, or is it the fear that you’ll miss out or have to *gasp* hang out with a whole bunch of drunk people while you’re sober?! (worst nightmare). I just can’t pinpoint it. Maybe it’s D. All of the above? I think this is something we will deal with our whole lives until we are ready to give it up for good which obviously both of us are not. Lol. Good luck on your journey and feel free to reach out if you need any support!

      • Amy
        August 2, 2017 at 5:04 pm (6 years ago)

        Thanks so much! Congrats and enjoy your vacation. I’m reading The Naked Mind as we speak. Very thought provoking.

  13. Brittney
    August 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm (6 years ago)

    I LOVE everything about this post! I was in your same boat between the age of 24-28, I turn 31 on Monday. I was single and thought if I had a date I had to have a drink prior to calm my nerves, if I was doing house work I thought “O I need a drink to sip on”. If we had a family party I thought “O I better make cocktails or get a big BOX of wine.” It wasn’t until recently that I talked to my boyfriend that maybe we should try to just drink on the weekends. We both realized that we were yes drinking less during the week but man o man were we pounding them down on the weekend! I am a nutrition coach and personal trainer and I felt hypocritical when I would add up the calories, RIDICULOUS. I have thought many times about writing a post similar to this, but felt like I could never find the right words. YOU SAID IT ALL! I am very impressed PLUS I am definitely reading that book. Thank you so much!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      August 2, 2017 at 11:03 am (6 years ago)

      It’s so crazy right?! So many calories, for WHAT?!?!?! I would much rather eat those calories because they taste way better and are obviously more fulfilling! Good for you though for recognizing the impact alcohol was having in your diet. I was totally the same way where I’d not drink all week and then it was weekends here, bottoms up! It’s like the people who eat chicken and broccoli all week and workout super hard and then eat garbage all weekend! Like how does that make any sense! Lol! Hindsight is always 20/20. Good luck on your journey, you can totally do it! I’m telling you, read that book! I have a love/hate relationship with it and I keep thinking ignorance is bliss. Haha, not really. I’m glad to know what I know so I can make better choices for my body.

  14. Liz
    August 18, 2017 at 7:51 am (6 years ago)

    I just read this post after hearing about it on the PaleOMG podcast. Thank you so much for posting this — it’s always really helpful to read other people’s experiences with cutting back on alcohol. I significantly cut back on alcohol almost a year ago (I gave it up entirely for a month and now will have a drink on special occasions, which amounts to about one drink every one or two months) after feeling uncomfortable with the amount I was drinking. I had a glass of wine last weekend at my boyfriend’s high school reunion. I was thinking about afterwards and realized that I really don’t miss drinking at all. I just bought the book you recommended and look forward to reading it. You’re right alcohol is everywhere. Now that I don’t drink very much I’ve noticed, for example, how there are a bunch of social media posts about coping with stressful situations with wine, or about using wine/alcohol as a reward for just about everything (like shirts that say I went running to go drink all the wine). I don’t think there is anything wrong with this at all, but it was something I had never noticed before. Anyway, thanks again for this post and for sharing your experience.

    • Vanessa Barajas
      August 29, 2017 at 11:11 am (6 years ago)

      So happy you found me through Juli and that you enjoyed this post! It’s literally EVERYWHERE! I see stuff on Facebook all the time with little gadgets to sneak wine places and ways to reward yourself with wine. I’m hoping to get to a place like you where I’m happy enjoying it on special occasions or once every few months and in moderation, not binge drinking. It’s SO hard! Especially in our society where it’s everywhere. I read this great article that was pretty thought provoking, it’s a great read if you get the time!

      • Liz
        September 28, 2017 at 8:22 am (6 years ago)

        I wanted to reply to your comment once I finished the Naked Mind, but it took me longer than I thought to finish it (I’m a slow reader)! I have to say that book completely changed the way I think about alcohol. I thought her points about moderation were interesting as well — that it is easier on the brain just to abstain altogether than stress out about moderation that has made me rethink drinking just on special occasions. It’s hard though — especially with friends who I drank a lot of wine with in the past. I’m about to go on vacation to Italy so I’m sure that will also be a challenge. I also thought the article you posted made some really good points as well — especially about how alcohol somehow has to be a part of every activity including yoga classes. Anyway, I hope things are still going well for you. I am really glad that I read all of this and it has given me a lot to think about.

      • Vanessa Barajas
        September 29, 2017 at 10:55 am (6 years ago)

        So happy you liked the book! It’s SO crazy eye opening right?! It makes me just want to re-read it all the time so I can drill everything into my subconscious. I’m working on a follow up blog post to this that I hope to post in a few weeks where I talk about where things are after re-introducing alcohol to my life while on vacation. Hoping that post kind of helps people too. It’s SO challenging. I feel like it’s one of those things that I just struggle with. Sometimes it’s daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes situational, but definitely a struggle. Kind of like my chocolate intake. Ha!

  15. Katie
    August 28, 2017 at 2:25 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for this post– very timely for me as well as I’m trying to get this alcohol out of my life. I did pick up that book– it’s fantastic. Really curious how the trip went in terms of the alcohol. Hope you feel comfortable honestly sharing what it was like if you did decide to drink and where you’re at now with everything now that you’re back home. Your input means a lot. Congrats on the wedding!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      August 29, 2017 at 11:18 am (6 years ago)

      So glad you enjoyed this post and are enjoying the book I recommended! It’s SUCH a good read, so eye opening. The trip was such a blast, I did drink, but I realized that I would have had just as much fun if I hadn’t. I had a lot of fun vacationy drinks like pina coladas and stuff, I had a dirty martini, and some champagne/wine. It was fine, I didn’t throw up or get crazy hungover or anything, I was definitely taking it easy, but adjusting back to normal life post vacation was REALLY hard! The cravings definitely came back hard, but not as hard I think as I think they would have, had I not stopped drinking for 8 months prior. It’s been about 2 weeks now since I’ve had anything to drink and I’m starting to feel normal again. Ideally I want to just be able to drink on special occasions, but it seems really hard to get back on track after drinking. I’m the same way with sweets though so I don’t know if it’s my personality in general? I’m an “Abstainer” by nature (Juli from PaleOMG and I did a great podcast on this topic) meaning I find it easier to abstain from things rather than have them in moderation, so that could have a lot to do with it. I’m working on a blog post to sum up my trip and wedding, but I need a recipe to go with it! 🙂

  16. Priscilla
    September 15, 2017 at 7:24 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Vanessa. I saw your book on Amazon, I’m interested in buying since I’ve been looking for baking recipes all over the Internet. My husband recently got diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, we’re eating low carb whole foods (LCHF) and sugar-free for a month with great results. We’re both losing weight and his glucose levels are improving. I’m a baker and because we’re on a low carb diet, I chose to use almond and coconut flours. I wanted to know if your book use a lot of them?

    I usually substitute refined sugars in other recipes such as with Swerve or monkfruit so sweeteners aren’t an issue. It’s finding excellent recipes that use almond or coconut flours because they’re a challenge to work with. It was much easier with wheat flour because of the gluten. I find it harder to bake lately to get the right texture. I’ve been experimenting with recipes, sometimes it’s successful and there are days it’s a complete failure! I made breads that are dense or gritty and it’s frustrating wasting organic ingredients. My hubby has a sweet tooth and I’d like to make treats for him that are healthier and hopefully won’t cause blood glucose spikes. Do you provide nutritional info in your book? I’m concern about carbs and sugar. I previewed your book on Amazon and didn’t see samples of recipes, I thought I’d ask. Thanks for your time.

    • Vanessa Barajas
      September 19, 2017 at 8:52 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Priscilla, I use a mix of almond, coconut, cashew, and tapioca flours in my book, if that helps. The sweeteners are honey, maple sugar, and coconut sugar. I don’t have the nutrition information listed. There are a few low-carb savory recipes in there as well. I think some of the sweet recipes could be converted to low-carb if you changed the sweetener. Hope that helps!

  17. Gina Johns
    January 8, 2018 at 3:44 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Vanessa,

    Congratulations on your big life changes and being brave enough to discuss drinking openly.

    Your cake is amazingly beautiful. Do you know of any substitute for tapioca? I’ve found I have a problem with all the variations of that plant (arrowroot, tapioca, cassava, etc.).

    Thank you,

    • Vanessa Barajas
      January 9, 2018 at 11:55 am (6 years ago)

      Thanks so much Gina, I appreciate that! Hmm that’s a great question, the tapioca helps bind the flours and give it more of a “squishy” texture if you will. I would try potato starch. You can find the Bob Red Mills version in pretty much every heath store like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and even Amazon!

      • Gina Johns
        January 10, 2018 at 11:19 am (6 years ago)

        That’s a great idea. I’ll give it a try. Thank you again. I love your site and recipes.

      • Vanessa Barajas
        January 10, 2018 at 1:22 pm (6 years ago)

        You’re welcome! Thanks for reading! Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. Happy baking! 🙂

  18. Stephanie
    January 17, 2018 at 6:28 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Vanessa!!! So ironic you posted this. I’m literally going through the same thing! Great article you posted btw! Really hit home:) I was simply drinking too much wine. I love wine. It became a nightly habit. After the holidays I decided enough was enough. Was referred a great book called “kick the drink easily” by Jason Vale and it had changed my life. Same exact concept as yours:) Again with the skin, remembering things, and RESTFUL SLEEP! My dreams are nuts! I’m loving this feeling. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us and opening up. It’s a tough subject to tackle but you did it beautifully!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      January 23, 2018 at 11:52 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Stephanie! Ugh, I feel you on the wine. I’m the same way. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience with me! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post so much! It’s such a tough subject and it’s been very challenging to find a balance since I started drinking again. I feel like I’m just an all or nothing type of person and moderation just doesn’t work for me. Which sucks, but it is what it is I guess! I’ll have to check out the book you recommended! Good luck in your journey! 🙂


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