Four Fresh Juices to Keep You Healthy, Happy, and Glowing All Winter Long

Four Fresh Juices for Winter

Nothing makes me feel more shiny, clean, and energized than a glass of freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice. Especially after a long weekend of eating all the delicious vegan food. Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? Ours was a busy one, involving lots of driving, and of course, lots of feasting. This week, all I want to do is load up on fresh juices, healthy soups, and generally give my poor, overworked digestive system a little break.

Today I’m sharing my four favorite winter juices. Summer juicing is great, you can feed your juicer all kinds of fresh picked juicy cucumbers, greens, and fruits, and when winter rolls around it may seem like your options will be more limited. This may seem especially true if you’re trying to eat as seasonally and locally as possible. However I find that winter juicing is just as easy, and the variations are endless. This is actually my favorite time to pull out my juicer.

I’ve tried to use as many seasonal and locally available fruits and vegetables as possible in the following recipes. While some of these juices have a higher ratio of fruits to veggies, feel free to flip that ratio around, increasing the amount of vegetables and decreasing the amount of fruit. While I didn’t include any green juices this time around, I hope to do another post soon with my favorite green juices.

Happy juicing, friends!

Winter Glowing Skin Juice

Golden Glowing Morning Juice

This juice is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and detoxifying power to help keep your skin looking bright, fresh, and glowing. It may also boost your immune system and help your body fight off that case of sniffles going around.

Try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, seeded and halved
  • 2 oranges, peeled and halved
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 small golden beet or 1/2 raw sweet potato, scrubbed and roughly chopped
  • 2 inch piece of turmeric and ginger root, optional

Directions:

Run all fruits and veggies through your juicer. Dilute with water, if desired. Alternatively you can add the ingredients to a high speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water and blend, straining if desired. Makes 1 -2 servings.

cranberry-pomegranate-beet-juice

Pomegranate Cranberry Detoxifying Juice

Pomegranate supplies lots of skin and immune system boosters, cranberries may help jump start your body’s fat-burning potential while supporting urinary tract health, and red beet detoxifies and supports liver health. I love the flavor of this tangy, tart, sweet, deep-crimson hued juice!

Try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

  • 1 small red beet, scrubbed and halved
  • 2 cups of fresh cranberries, rinsed well
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate (cut in half, hold over a bowl, and whack the peel with a wooden spoon to extract the juicy seeds)
  • 1 large apple, any variety, seeded and halved or quartered

Run all fruits and veggies through your juicer. Dilute with water, if desired. Alternatively you can add the ingredients to a high speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water and blend, straining if desired. Makes 1 -2 servings.

Parsnip Apple Pear Juice

Parsnip Apple Pear Juice with Cinnamon

Parsnips make for an interesting addition to your fresh juice. They are slightly sweet, like carrots, and add a bit of texture to your juice. In addition, this winter root vegetable provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, manganese, and potassium. I loved combining the parsnip with pear and apple, and a pinch of cinnamon turns this juice into a delicious winter treat. The pear and parsnip lend an almost creamy texture to this juice, that makes it more of a thin smoothie than a translucent juice. For a tasty variation, add a chunk of fresh ginger root.

Try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small parsnip, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 1 large apple, any variety, washed, seeded, and halved
  • 1 large pear, washed seeded and halved
  • a couple pinches of ceylon cinnamon
  • optional variation: add a 1 inch chunk of ginger root

Instructions:

Run all fruits and veggies through your juicer. Dilute with water, if desired. Alternatively you can add the ingredients to a high speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water and blend, straining if desired. Pour the juice into a glass jar, add a couple pinches of cinnamon, secure the lid on, and shake. Top with another sprinkle of cinnamon. Makes 1 serving.

Pineapple Cough Tonic

Pineapple Cough and Cold Cure

This juice has been my go-to tonic this past week, as I’ve been fighting off my first cold in almost 3 years! To help soothe my scratchy sore throat and annoying persistent cough, I whipped up this anecdotal natural remedy, which is based on this homemade cough syrup from Reboot with Joe. I added to it my favorite cold and virus fighter, turmeric, along with carrot, which is rumored to be excellent at quelling coughs and removing phlegm. This is a must-have recipe to keep handy for when a sore throat and cough strikes this winter. You can drink it as a juice or make it extra strong and take it as a cough tonic in a small shot glass.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed clean
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger
  • 1 inch chunk of turmeric root
  • pinch of black pepper and cayenne (optional)
  • teaspoon of maple syrup or coconut nectar or more to taste (optional)

Run all fruits and veggies through your juicer. Dilute with water, if desired. Alternatively you can add the ingredients to a high speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water and blend, straining if desired. Pour the juice into a glass jar, add optional pinches of black pepper and cayenne and sweetener, secure the lid on, and shake. You can increase the ginger, turmeric, and lemon, and sweetener, and use as a cough syrup/wellness shot if desired. I was eventually adding 2 or 3 inch pieces of ginger and turmeric and one extra lemon along with a tablespoon of maple syrup. You can store extras in the fridge for a couple of days.

Four Winter Juices to Keep You Healthy, Happy, and Glowing

Get your health and beauty back on track by including one of these tasty juices each day. Your skin will be glowing, eyes clear and bright, and you’ll be fighting off those nasty bugs like a champ!

What is your favorite winter juice blend?

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas: A Dozen Vegan and Gluten Free Desserts and Sweet Sides

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta - Vegan and Gluten Free

If you’re on the look-out for some healthy, plant-based and gluten free sweet sides, appetizers, or desserts that aren’t pumpkin pie, look no further! Look, pumpkin pie is a must, but if you are searching for something a little bit different in addition to the Thanksgiving mainstay for the dessert table, here they are! I’ve rounded up my favorite non-cookie, non-candy bar desserts and a few sweet appetizers and sides too. Enjoy!

Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dip - Vegan, Low-Fat, Oil-Free, Refined Sugar Free

Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dip – The perfect sweet appetizer. Amazing with apple or pear slices!

Raw Apple Pie a la Mode Bars with Caramel Sauce (vegan, gluten free, paleo)

Raw Apple Pie Ala Mode Bars with Easy 4 Ingredient Caramel Sauce – It’s like apple pie and vanilla ice cream all in one, and there’s not a lick of baking involved!

Vanilla Matcha Cheesecake with Raw Chocolate Cookie Crust (gluten-free, no-bake)

Vanilla Matcha Cheesecake – Want something unique to offer your guests? This no-bake, fluffy as a cloud matcha cheesecake should do it!

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - vegan and gluten free

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups – Put a fun twist on the classic Thanksgiving casserole with this sweet side dish. Vegan marshmallow topper optional required.

Baked Lemon Cheesecake - Vegan and Gluten Free

Baked Lemon Cheesecake – This cheesecake is perfect as is; and it’s made with wholesome ingredients and completely soy-free, dairy-free, and vegan. For a holiday twist, try substituting the lemon juice and zest with orange juice and orange zest and topping with a sweet cranberry sauce. Yum!

Pumpkin Empanadas with apple cinnamon filling

Pumpkin Spice Hand-Pies with Apple Cranberry Filling – I can’t decide what I like more, the pumpkin-infused crust, or the cinnamon spiced apple cranberry filling. Plus they are just too cute!

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Pumpkin Cream Filling - Vegan and Gluten Free

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Pumpkin Creme Filling – Is it a cookie sandwich? A creme filled cake? A pie, inexplicably, as the name suggests?? I decided they belonged on the list, even if they are awfully close to being cookies. Whatever they are, they’re delicious and your guests will love them!

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta - Vegan and Gluten Free

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta – Another delightful no-bake dessert!

baked apple.jpg

Baked Apple Cheesecakes – I know you can’t see it in this photo, but believe me when I say there is a delicious cream-cheesy filling inside this baked apple! These are oh so yummy and secretly a breeze to make! (click on the link if you want to see that luscious cheesecake filling!)

tahini maple fruit dip

Maple Tahini DipOnly have 10 minutes to come up with a tasty appetizer? Fresh fruit and creamy dip is always a winner! Especially with this super easy, uniquely delicious maple tahini dip.

healthy baked plums

Easy Baked Plums with Coconut Cream and Ginger Cardamom Syrup – Elegant and simple, these baked plums are an easy and healthy dessert option.

sweet-potatoes-hasselback

Holiday Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Bacon – This one is kind of a stretch for this list, but this savory sweet potato side dish is one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes on the blog, and I just had to include it!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups – Vegan, Gluten Free, and Refined Sugar Free

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - Vegan and Gluten Free

This is not your mama’s sweet potato casserole. These individual casseroles house all the flavor of the classic Thanksgiving dish, in one plant-based, bite-size cup. The crumbly, nutty topping becomes the crust, while a single vegan marshmallow tops the gooey sweet potato filling, so you get the best of both worlds.

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - Vegan and Gluten Free

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - Vegan and Gluten Free

Sweet potato casserole is, hands down, my favorite Thanksgiving dish. I don’t even need to think about it. While I feel that the casserole itself has been done many times, the idea of cute little individual cups kept popping into my mind. I pondered creating healthy sweet potato mini pies as well, but to be completely honest, I’ve never even had sweet potato pie. I know, where have I been living, under a rock or something? Ok, not quite under a rock; I’ve been living in the northern part of the U.S. my whole life, but sometimes that feels pretty close.

sweet-potato-bite

In my opinion the crumbly topping of the casserole is nearly the best part, so I transformed it into an extra thick, oat and pecan studded crust/cup, using dates to keep everything sticking together. The crust is borrowed from my one and only baked cheesecake recipe, and with the addition of pecans and a pinch of cinnamon, it makes the perfect vehicle for the sweet, gooey filling. The filling is a super simple mixture of mashed sweet potatoes, spices, natural sweeteners, and a little bit of coconut oil (which is optional) for a buttery sweet taste. I added marshmallows to the top of each cup and cranked the oven to broil, for a melty, roasted marshmallow topping that is so good you’ll definitely be going back for seconds.

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - vegan and gluten free

My daughter and I are eating leftovers of these sweet potato cups for breakfast as I quickly type out this post, and I can tell you, they are just as delicious on day two. Flip your casserole game upside down this Thanksgiving and try these tasty (and cute!) sweet potato cups.

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups – Vegan and Gluten Free

Makes 6

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup oat flour (use certified gluten free if needed)
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 3 large medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or 1 more tbsp of almond butter)
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 1 + 1/2 large sweet potatoes or 2 small – roasted in skin until fork tender, or peeled and steamed or boiled (I recommend roasting them)
  • 1 tbsp ground golden flaxseed + 3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or more coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Vegan marshmallows for topping, I used Dandies 

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350. Lightly oil a muffin tin.

  • To make crust: Add almonds and pecans and pulse until a course meal is formed. Add the almond butter, dates, and optional coconut oil and process until sticky, then add in the oat flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and pinch of salt and pulse until combined. The dough should be moist and stick together easily. If it seems too dry add a little splash of water, a teaspoon at a time, until it sticks together easily.
  • Using wet fingers, line each oiled well in a 6 cup muffin tin with the crust mixture, pressing onto the sides. Set aside.
  • For the filling: Combine the water and flax seed, and let sit for a minute or two. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with the flax seed “egg” and the remaining ingredients, until very smooth and completely combined. Taste and adjust sweetener/spices as needed.
  • Fill each cup with sweet potato mixture until level. Smooth tops with a spatula and bake in pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the crust are just starting to look golden brown.
  • Turn the oven to broil and take the pan out and top each cup with a vegan marshmallow and return to oven for about 5 minutes until the marshmallow has melted and browned. Let the cups cool in the pan for a few minutes before running a butter knife around the edge of each one and carefully lifting out with a fork.

Notes:

These are perfect for smaller Thanksgiving get-togethers. They’d make a fun appetizer, and possibly even dessert! Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

Sweet Potato Casserole Cups - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This creamy soup is cozier than a cable knit sweater. As the days get chillier, this is the perfect comforting soup to snuggle up to.

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This soup is like a warm hug in a bowl. I think many of us could use some comforting right now. I generally steer way clear of politics on this blog, but no matter your opinions on this election, I think we can all agree it has been a time of turmoil, negativity, and divide (and that’s putting it lightly). I see and feel many of my friends, family, and community hurting. It is part of the reason I took last week off from posting. In all of this whirlwind of emotions, I just couldn’t focus on recipe creation. By the time the weekend arrived, I felt ready to play with some ideas I’ve had, including this creamy autumn soup. Consider this recipe my way to send you all a big, warm, comforting hug to all of you.

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This soup recipe has been a long time coming. I’ve always loved blended and creamy squash soups, and it’s been on my to-do list to create a healthy vegan version for about hmm.. 2 years now! So many ideas, so little time, that’s the story of my life. When I sort of lost my creative mojo last week, I asked my mom if she had any recipe ideas. She reminded me that she’d really like me to come up with a good squash soup recipe. Something simple, creamy, and a  little bit sweet. This version ticks off all the boxes! It has a hint of nutmeg, a hint of sweetness from the apples, and a velvety texture from the addition of cashew cream.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup - Vegan

In addition to being absolutely delicious, this clean-eating, plant-based, and wholesome soup is loaded with health benefits, thanks to nutrient rich squash. Here are some of my favorite healthy highlights of squash:

  • It is an excellent source of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A. A one cup serving will provide you with 70% of your recommended intake, and helps support healthy eyes, skin, hair, and immune system.
  • It also provides a good source of vitamin C (with about 1/3 of the daily value in one cup), plant-based iron, B vitamins, and fiber.
  • It’ll give you all that nutrition, with only a small amount of calories (that’s what experts call nutrient dense).  Butternut squash has about 60 calories per cup and 16 carbs.
  • All squash varieties have been found to be excellent sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, really good for your skin, but also great for preventing chronic disease and slowing our body’s aging.
  • While squash is a low fat food, it does contain omega 3 fats, like walnuts. Although the content is about a third of that in the omega 3 superstar, the walnut, it is still an impressive amount for a food that is only 15% calories from fat (compared to 90% calories from fat in walnuts). These healthy fats are important for shiny hair and smooth skin, heart health, joint health, and even reducing depression.
  • Squash has the potential for blood sugar regulation, which might come as a surprise since it is a starchy food. Preliminary research shows an improvement in blood sugar and insulin regulation following the consumption of foods from the gourd-squash-melon family. Researchers believe it is due in part to their unique cell wall polysaccharides, as well as it’s impressive B vitamin content (B1, B3, B6, folate, and pantothenic acid). Those B vitamins are also essential for healthy hair and skin my beautiful friends!

Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I believe in the power of comforting and nutritious food. And although I don’t always practice it, I do believe in the power of positive thinking. Let’s do our best to be kind, positive, understanding, and empathetic. Let’s just try to do our best everyday. Sending you warm hugs and love.

Larice

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Adapted from a recipe from this book

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp water or broth, or 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium apples, cored and diced (I used Gala)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1 inch cubes (about 6-7 cups)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked + blended with 3/4 cup filtered water*
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt, optional
  • a pinch of black pepper, or to taste

Directions:

Heat the water/broth or oil over medium high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, apples, and nutmeg and cook for few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the squash, broth, and optional salt and turn heat up until boiling. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered for about 15 – 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

Blend the soup in two batches in a blender until smooth and velvety (be careful blending the hot soup!). Return blended soup to the pot and add in the cashew cream and heat the soup through. Taste and add more spices or salt if needed. If your vegetable broth doesn’t have added seasonings, you can also add in a few pinches of garlic powder, onion powder, and any other spices you like.

I reserved a spoonful of cashew cream to swirl on the top. Toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds, fruit chutneys, fresh herbs, or a sprinkle of grated nutmeg or cinnamon are great toppings.

Notes:

*Instead of making cashew cream, you could try using full fat coconut milk instead.

For even quicker prep time, try using pre- peeled, chopped butternut squash. I know Trader Joe’s carries it, and probably many other grocery stores.

I used an organic vegetable broth, but I also sometimes use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, which is vegan.

 

Chili Mocha Brownie Bites – Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free

Chili Mocha Brownie Bites - Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free

What do you do with surplus, or “undesirable” Halloween candy? As soon as we wrapped up our trick or treating festivities Monday night, I did a quick and discreet sorting out of my daughter’s candy. All the “baddies” were given away, either to neighbors or sent with my husband to his work. I let my daughter keep a few of the non-milk chocolate, and non-gelatin candies (PETA has a list of popular and incidentally vegan-friendly candy). Some parents adopt the “Switch Witch” method, where you put out the undesirable treats and the Switch Witch comes by and switches it out with better, or even non-candy goodies. This year my daughter was happy with what she ended up with, but next year we may be bringing the “Switch Witch” into play.

Chili Mocha Brownie Power Bites - Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain FreeAll the talk of sweets and treats the past few days got me and my husband reminiscing the other night about what our favorite candies were as kids. Basically, I liked every candy ever made. If it tasted like it was 90% sugar or above, I gave it the nod of approval. My husband and I were in agreement about Pixie Sticks, Fun Dip, Big League Gum, Twizzlers, Starburst, Sweet Tarts, and all those other insanely sweet, faux fruity treats. I raised an eyebrow (and got plenty of teasing for my bad taste) when I admitted to some of my other not-so-popular favorites, like Chuckles, Charleston Chews, Slo Pokes, and Bit O Honey. What can I say, my fellow sugar loving dad and the old fashioned corner store were major influences in my choices back then! My childhood sweet tooth was not very discerning. I didn’t even like chocolate until I was around 10, and then only if it was cloyingly sweet milk chocolate and only if it was encapsulating caramel, nougat, or something crispy.

Chili Mocha Raw Brownie Bites - Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain FreeIt’s funny how taste buds can change. Now those candies don’t tempt me at all. When I decided to really clean up my diet (and also cut out animal foods) around 3 years ago, one of the big things I committed to cutting out was refined sugar. Now you have to remember, I hadn’t changed much from that sugar loving child I described earlier. I stilled loved and craved candy, although Twix, Reese’s, and Snickers were my top picks (for the record I haven’t eaten a Charleston Chew in decades! haha). It was hard at first, but I learned to whip up my own chocolatey treats using just a few whole food ingredients. It took some time, but eventually my cravings for candy bars (and sugary pastries, cakes, and snacks) vanished.
Chili Mocha Brownie Bites - Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free

Date sweetened, secretly nutrient-dense snacks like today’s Chili Mocha Brownie Bites, are the kinds of sweet snacks I find myself craving now instead of candy bars. These are so easy to make, simply throw everything in your food processor. Once again, I’ve included Ancho chili powder in today’s recipe, and that’s because ever since I shared my Chili Mocha Maca Smoothie, I’ve been looking for other ways to use this newfound spice. Along with cinnamon, the chili powder adds an awesome kick of flavor to these rich chocolate bites.

To give the bites some power, I added another new favorite protein powder from Sprout Living, the Chocolate Maca Epic Protein Powder. Like the Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein Powder, it’s packed full of plant-based, easily assimilated protein from foods such as sprouted brown rice, yellow pea, sacha inchi, and cranberry seed, as well as superfoods like Peruvian Lucuma powder and Baobab Fruit. The Chocolate Maca variety is practically made for these spicy bites, as they already feature rich cacao powder, maca root, and ceylon cinnamon.

I also added Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Coffee Alternative, to give these bites a convincing mocha flavor. I love using Dandy Blend as a hot or cold drink, but it’s also great for adding to recipes when you want a delicious coffee flavor without adding any extra caffeine. Feel free to leave it out, or you may substitute instant coffee. I think the hint of mocha flavor makes these bites extra special.

If you need a bite of something sweet this weekend, make up a batch of these bites (then give away all of that leftover Halloween candy!). I promise they’re more delicious than anything in a wrapper.

Chili Mocha Brownie Power Bites – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free

Makes about a dozen bites

Instructions:

Begin by adding the almonds to the food processor and processing until a course meal is formed. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the “dough” can stick together. Spoon out using a tablespoon and roll into balls and store in the fridge or freezer. You can also roll them in cacao powder, chopped nuts, sesame seeds, or coconut shreds.

*Soaking the dates in hot water before processing helps soften the dates and adds the perfect amount of moisture so that everything sticks together. If your mixture isn’t holding together add a tiny bit of water, 1/2 tsp at a time until its rolls up easily.

 

Tell me, friends… What was your favorite candy as a kid? Have your tastes changed?

Chili Mocha Brownie Bites - Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Cashew Cream

Toasty quesadillas are filled with roasted pumpkin, spinach, grilled onions and mushrooms, drizzled with a spiced-up cashew cream. This savory pumpkin dish is so good you’ll almost forget about pie. Almost.Roasted Pumpkin Quesadilla with Ancho Cashew Cream

Hello friends! How are you all doing? Did everyone survive the Halloween treat fest?? I realized when looking through my recent posts, that it’s been quite some time since I posted anything outside of the “sweet treat” category. In fact it’s been three weeks since I posted a savory dish! It’s so hard to think savory when my mind is all wrapped up in sweet, pumpkin-y cookie dough, milkshakes, and caramel dip, however it’s time to restore some balance around here.

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadilla with Ancho Cashew Cream - Vegan

I can’t think of a more delicious way to restore the sweet-savory balance, than by sharing these lightly spiced, roasty toasty pumpkin quesadillas. In my pre- plant-based days, I thought quesadillas were flat, smushed together tortillas filled with gloopy cheese and maybe a sprinkle of onions. Friends, I’m here to tell you quesadillas can be so much more! These flavorful pockets of savory scrumptious-ness are filled to the brim with seasoned and roasted pumpkin, pan grilled onions and mushrooms, wilted spinach, and cashew cream pumped up with ancho chili powder. There’s not a shred of cheese, non-dairy or other-wise, and I swear you will never miss it!

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Chili Cashew Cream - Vegan

While we’re expanding our quesadilla horizons, it’s time we think outside the box can, when it comes to pumpkin. I encourage you to not only try your hand at roasting your own pumpkin, but also to use it in savory dishes! I know, easy for me to say, since I’ve been bombarding you for weeks with sweet pumpkin treats and desserts (and I probably have a few more to go :P). You just might find roasted pumpkin is the perfect addition to your next soup, stew, or even macaroni “cheese” sauce. And it’s a definite must-try in your next quesadilla.

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Chili CreamQuick health and beauty benefits of pumpkin:

  • Low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is a versatile nutrient-dense food.
  • It’s high fiber content will fill you up, and may help you lose weight.
  • The potassium, fiber, and and antioxidants in pumpkin are good for your heart.
  • Rich in beta carotene, pumpkin is not only great for glowing, smooth skin, but it also may help prevent cancer.
  • Antioxidants in pumpkin like vitamins C and E, along with beta carotene, are great for eye health and may prevent age-related macular degeneration.
  • It’s combination of vitamin C and beta carotene make it a fabulous immunity booster, very important as we approach cold and flu season.

 

This time of year, I’m all about finding ways to enjoy pumpkin every day, if not two or three times a day! Restore some balance to your life, and your pumpkin repetoire, with these satisfying savory pumpkin quesadillas!

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Chili Cashew Cream

Makes about 4 – 6 servings (halve the recipe if you’re serving 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 6 tortillas (whole wheat, sprouted whole grain, gluten free brown rice, or your choice)
  • 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped small (1/2 inch cubes)*  see notes!
  • 8 oz slices mushrooms, any variety (I used baby bella)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos + 1 tbsp water combined
  • 2 cups baby spinach, washed
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (or regular, or chipotle chili powder)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic and onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 – 3 tsp olive, avocado, or coconut oil for roasting (or use vegetable broth for oil-free)

Ancho Chili Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup soaked/rinsed raw cashews (soak about 2-4 hours)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt

Topping: Fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions:

If possible make the cashew cream ahead of time so the flavors can develop (it will also thicken). Blend everything together in a high speed blender, and taste, adding more spices, salt or lemon juice if desired. You can make it thinner by adding more water (and conversely, you can have a thicker cream by adding less water). Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the pumpkin cubes with the oil or broth, spices, and salt and roast in a casserole dish for about 35 minutes, or until tender and lightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, saute your onion slices and mushrooms. I start with a hot, dry large skillet pan, and add the onions (about medium high heat). I let them sear for a minute or so before I move them at all, this helps get them caramelized. After a couple minutes, add the mushrooms. Try not to add liquid at first, if possible, the mushrooms will release some. If needed, add a little splash of water. After about 5 minutes, add the tamari/water and stir the onions and mushrooms. Once they have browned, add the spinach and allow it to wilt. If you’d like, you can also add a pinch or two of ancho chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Remove from heat.

To assemble and cook the quesadillas, add a tablespoon of cashew cream to a tortilla and spread it on both sides. Add roasted pumpkin, grilled onions, mushrooms, and spinach, and fold. Heat a pan over medium heat, adding a little bit of oil if needed. Heat the quesadilla on both sides until lightly golden brown and hot. Continue with remaining ingredients. Serve with more cashew cream and fresh cilantro.

Notes:

*Save time, and possibly a finger, by purchasing pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash and use instead of pumpkin. The hardest part of this recipe was finding a knife sharp enough to cut the pie pumpkin I bought! To help out my poor, old, un-sharp knife,. I pre-roasted my pumpkin for about 10 – 15 minutes, so the peel was softened and I could slice through it easier. If your knives are not very sharp, and you find yourself with a particularly tough pumpkin, I highly recommend this method!

Roasted Pumpkin Quesadillas with Ancho Chili Cashew Cream - Vegan, Gluten Free Options

Vanilla Lucuma Shake with Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Espresso Syrup

Vanilla Lucuma Shake with Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Espresso Syrup - Vegan, Low Fat, Refined Sugar Free

After a few rainy and cold days, we’ve got some warm sunshine lighting up the orange and red (ok and brown) leaves quickly accumulating on the ground. Not needing to bundle up in a sweater and a jacket today means that creamy cold smoothies and milkshakes are sounding delicious again. Today’s shake is a special Halloween version, and although it looks decadent, it’s actually low-fat, refined sugar free, vegan, and loaded with plant-based protein.

Lucuma Vanilla Protein Milkshake with Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Espresso Syrup - Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, Low Fat

The protein boost is thanks to a new (to me) product from Sprout Living, Epic Protein in Vanilla Lucuma. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try a few of their products, including their Epic Protein. I love that it’s a “clean” protein powder, completely plant-based and vegan, sourced from easily assimilated sources , with no additives of any kind. It is not only a protein powder, but a superfood powder, and this one gets its delicate flavor from a mixture of lucuma, baobob, and vanilla bean. It was just begging to be whirled into a naturally sweet and swirly nice cream milkshake.

The idea for this swirly shake was inspired by this gorgeous photo, and I wanted to recreate those lovely flavors in a healthy, lowfat, refined sugar free, plant-based version. My Easy Pumpkin Spice Syrup and a 2 minute lowfat, oil free chocolate “espresso” sauce provide a lovely burst of flavor (and those festive swirls) throughout the creamy vanilla milkshake.

Treat yourself to a creamy cool pumpkin and chocolate laced dessert-like (but secretly healthy) snack and celebrate sunny fall days!

Vanilla Lucuma Protein Shakes with Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Espresso Syrup

Chocolate “Espresso” Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp plant milk of choice
  • 1 tsp Dandy Blend Instant Coffee Alternative or instant coffee powder*
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar

Instructions:

Make your Pumpkin Spice Syrup and allow to cool. Meanwhile, stir together the ingredients for the chocolate espresso sauce. For the shake, blend the plant milk and protein powder until smooth, then add the frozen bananas and blend again until thick and creamy. Pipe the pumpkin syrup and chocolate espresso sauce on the inside of two small glasses or jars to make swirls (or use a spoon). Add layers of milkshake and each sauce into the glasses until filled.

*You can also replace the plant milk with brewed espresso or strong coffee.

For an extra rich “ice cream” shake try replacing the plant milk with full fat canned coconut milk. The shake will no longer be low fat, but it will be delicious!