Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dark Chocolate Cups – Vegan and Gluten Free

Salted Pumpkin Caramel Cups - Vegan and Gluten Free

There are plenty of everyday ways to enjoy my recent Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dip recipe, such as a dip for apples, a topping for oatmeal, or even a really tasty addition to a simple banana almond milk smoothie (yes!). With Halloween just around the corner, however, I wanted to share a more decadent way to utilize my pumpkin and spice laced date caramel: as a sweet and sticky filling in a rich chocolatey cup!


These cups are a simple way to get all your favorite sweet flavors in one deliciously messy bite. Dark chocolate, crunchy peanuts, pumpkin, caramel, and warm spices. No tricks in this kinder treat… they’re gluten free, vegan, and can even be made sugar free and nut free (see my suggestions below the recipe). Even more spooktacular is that you can whip these up in no time at all; blend up your caramel, melt some chocolate, and you’re good to go!

These cups have been in high demand this week at our house, hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Makes 6 – 12 cups depending on size

Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dark Chocolate Cups – Vegan & Gluten Free

  • 1 batch of my Salted Pumpkin Caramel Dip*
  • 3 vegan dark chocolate bars or a 10 oz bag of vegan dark chocolate chips **
  • 1 -2 tsp coconut oil, optional
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts or almonds
  • sea salt for sprinkling, optional
  • paper muffin cups or candy molds


Melt chocolate and optional coconut oil using the double boiler method (I place an oven safe bowl inside a larger pot filled with several inches of water and heat over low-medium). Spoon some chocolate into the paper cups and tilt/turn the cup so the chocolate goes up the sides. Place in a muffin pan and pop in the freezer for 5 minutes or until set. Spoon in a tablespoon of caramel dip and top with nuts. Cover with more chocolate. When all cups are filled, place in the fridge or freezer to set. Sprinkle with course sea salt if desired. Store in the fridge or freezer.

*For the stickiest, thickest caramel, use little to no almond milk. I found that a food processor was the easiest way to get the caramel smooth without much extra liquid. I also added a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil for a rich buttery taste, since this is a treat after all!

**To make these cups completely refined sugar free, you can use baker’s unsweetened chocolate and add a bit of maple syrup, or leave it out if you don’t mind an intense bitter chocolate. Alternatively you can mix equal parts of unrefined coconut oil and cacao powder and sweeten with maple syrup to use instead of the chocolate bar or chips (I would try 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup cacao powder and 2 tbsp of maple syrup to start with).

To make the cups nut free, try subbing sunflower seed butter, nut free peanut butter alternative, tahini, or coconut oil for the almond butter in the dip. Leave out the chopped nuts from the cups or substitute coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, or crushed up pretzels.


Salted Caramel Pumpkin Dip (Vegan, Oil-Free, Refined Sugar Free)

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

Today’s recipe comes from my desire to eat all the autumn foods, all at the same time. I think it became very obvious after sharing this photo on Instagram last week that I’ve once again emerged myself completely in the flavorful delights of fall. In other words, I’m completely obsessed, and need a daily fix of pumpkin, warm spices, caramel, or apples in some form or another. In the case of this Salted Caramel Pumpkin Dip, I can get them all in one swipe.

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

It’s been on my to-do list for some time to make a pumpkin version of my Best Healthy Caramel Dip Ever, and I’m finally getting around to making it happen. I’m only sorry I didn’t do it sooner. This dip is just as sweet and buttery as the original, but with a pumpkin-and-pie-spices punch. It’s like every happy autumn day was whirled and blended into the dreamiest, creamiest dip imaginable. The best part? It’s completely plant-based; made without any oil, refined sweeteners, or dairy. Just 4 core clean-eating ingredients blended with a few spices and vanilla extract and you’re on the highway to caramel pumpkin heaven.


We dunked, dipped, and swooped apple slices and homemade ginger graham crackers in our dip. While I primarily created this as an apple dip, I bet you could think of more yummy dippers. Pear slices come to mind. I plan to top my bowl of oatmeal with this caramel pumpkin dip tomorrow, and I have a few other ideas, one in particular I hope to share soon. Whichever way you decide to partake in this dip, you can’t go wrong. I may or may not have eaten a great deal of this with nothing but a spoon.


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

Adapted from my Best Healthy Caramel Dip Ever

Makes over 1 cup or about 6 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups dates* (soaked in hot water 10 minutes and drained)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1-2 tbsp plant-based milk, if needed, try to use as little as possible
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice** + 1/4 tsp extra cinnamon


Add all ingredients to your high speed blender (I use a Vitamix) or food processor. Use the tamper with a Vitamix and tap tap tap the ingredients as you blend from low to high. With a food processor, you’ll want to stop and scrape the sides down periodically. Blend until smooth, and store in the fridge. Will last a week, if you don’t eat it before then!

*Any variety of dates will work, though Natural Delights Medjool Dates are my favorite and make the dip extra caramel-y.

**Make your own pumpkin pie spice with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, All Spice, and Cloves. Here’s a recipe –>> Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice.

In my original caramel dip, I have the option of adding a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil, which adds a buttery taste and makes the texture a little firmer. If you’re not trying to keep it oil free, it makes a nice addition to this dip too.

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

Spiced Super Berry Smoothie

Spiced Berry Smoothie

Today I’m sharing my current favorite fruit smoothie. This blend is perfect for fall; it features fresh apple juice (or cider), tart cranberries, juicy raspberries,blueberries, and spicy cinnamon for a flavor combination that is sure to wake up the senses. It’s tart, and sweet, and utterly juicy with a warm hint of spice. Regularly sipping on this berry drink will provide your body with loads of antioxidants to support your health and make you glow from the inside out.

Spiced Berry Smoothie

The Ingredients

Fresh Raw Apple Juice or Apple Cider (1 cup)

You can make your own apple juice by juicing fresh apples, or take advantage of your local orchard’s fresh apple cider. I sometimes use half water and half juice, or you can use all water if you’d like, but the fresh apple juice does add a nice sweetness. Apples are high in powerful antioxidants, especially quercitin. A diet rich in apples has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, specifically lung cancer. Apples also support our cardiovascular health, and may prevent or reduce asthma symptoms. Including plenty of apples in your diet may even help people lose weight and reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.

Fresh or Frozen Blueberries (1/2 cup)

Blueberries are an amazing superfood. They consistently rank at the top of antioxidant containing foods, providing your body with powerful support against damaging free radicals. Blueberries contain a plethora of phytonutrients, which have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. These properties benefit your entire body: brain, heart, eyes, skin… and provide protection from many different diseases related to aging, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Berries, and blueberries especially, are low on the glycemic index, and have been shown to improve blood sugar regulation in those that already have type 2 diabetes. Analysis of organic blueberries show that they have higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown berries, so use organic if you can. Freezing blueberries does not damage or reduce their antioxidant content, so feel free to use frozen berries in this smoothie.

Fresh or Frozen Raspberries (1/2 cup)

Like blueberries, raspberries are antioxidant powerhouses, and eating them often may help prevent a variety of chronic diseases. In addition to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, raspberries have recently grabbed the attention of researchers as an obesity fighting food. Thanks to a unique compound called rheosmin, rasbperries may boost metabolism in fat cells. Keeping plenty of frozen berries, like raspberries, in your freezer, is a great way to ensure you eat more of them. Dr Gregor, of, recommends eating berries everyday, and this smoothie is a delicious way to do it.

Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (1/2 cup)

Cranberries have many amazing, little known health benefits. In addition to supporting urinary tract  health (which most of us are familiar with), cranberries have powerful properties that improve gum and mouth health, cardiovascular health, immunity, and even digestive tract health. Cranberries have a unique anti-adhesive ability, which blocks bad bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract. Cranberries may also help keep our gut health in check by balancing bacteria in our digestive tract. Like the other berries in our smoothie, cranberries are chock-full of antioxidants which are especially beneficial in preventing cancer of the lungs, colon, breast, and prostate. Cranberries’ ability to positively affect our gut bacteria may also help us shed some extra weight, according to a recent study. Just 1/2 to 1 cup of berries a day could be effective, say researchers.

Ceylon Cinnamon (1/4 – 1/2 tsp)

For everyday cooking and baking, I generally use Cassia cinnamon, which is the common cinnamon that most of us are familiar with. For teas and smoothies, where I’ll be consuming 1/4 tsp or more in a single serving, I like to use Ceylon cinnamon. While all types of cinnamon have health benefits, Ceylon cinnamon, referred to as “true cinnamon,” differs in its amount of coumarin. Coumarin is a natural substance that has blood thinning properties. Ingesting large amounts of it over a long period of time can be damaging to the body, especially the liver and kidneys. While Ceylon cinnamon has only a negligible amount, Cassia cinnamon has a startling 1200 times the coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon has many health benefits; its antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and can regulate blood sugar. As little as 1/2 teaspoon a day can improve digestion, immunity, and blood sugar levels. Regular use may help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neuro-degenerative disorders.

Banana (1 medium)

To add creaminess and counteract the tartness of the berries, I added a banana to the mix. Since I used frozen berries, I like to use an un-frozen banana in this smoothie, which is not my usual smoothie practice. Bananas not only lend the perfect texture to this smoothie, they supply numerous health benefits of their own. Although they are most noted for their potassium content, bananas are also an excellent source of B6, which is important for carbohydrate metabolism, red blood cell production, and brain and nervous system function. Bananas are rich in a fiber called pectin, and help with digestion and blood sugar regulation.


You’re going to love this berry-filled, cinnamon spiced smoothie! Give your body, including your soon-to-be-glowing skin, a generous dose of health boosting antioxidants with this refreshing fall smoothie.

Recipe recap:

Spiced Super Berry Smoothie

  • 1 cup of fresh apple juice, apple cider (the juice from the apple orchard, not vinegar) or  water (or 1/2 juice 1/2 water) + a little extra as needed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (frozen)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries (frozen)
  • a few frozen strawberries (optional)
  • 1 peeled banana, unfrozen
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • pinch of ground or fresh ginger (optional)

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender until super smooth. Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.



Chili Mocha Maca Smoothie – Vegan

Chili Mocha Smoothie - Vegan

Happy Wednesday, friends! I’m hopping on here real quick today to share a smoothie that I think you will really love. It’s a rich mix of chocolate and coffee with a hint of ancho chili and cinnamon.  It’s a fun spin on the new Starbuck’s mocha flavor, with a lot less calories and sugar. In fact, this creamy vegan mocha smoothie doesn’t have any added sweeteners, and relies on frozen banana for the perfect amount of sweetness. I added maca root for a little superfood power. Maca has been reported to help balance hormones, increase energy, improve mood, support healthy skin, among many other benefits. I love using it in chocolate or nut butter based smoothies.

Chili Mocha Maca Smoothie

  • 1 cup of dairy-free milk (almond, coconut, cashew, etc)
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tsp Dandy Blend Herbal Coffee Substitute or instant coffee
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • handful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!

To make this a plant-based protein shake, use one scoop of your favorite chocolate flavored plant protein powder (I like Garden of Life Raw Protein) plus 1 tablespoon of cacao powder.



Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Cool Ranch Celery Slaw (Vegan, Oil Free & Gluten Free)

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Cool Ranch Slaw - Vegan, Oil Free, Gluten Free

Like most people I know, my family and I are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to what we eat each week for dinner. I could play with ideas for smoothies, sweet treats, and snacks all day, but by the time 5:00 p.m. rolls around, I go into auto-dinner mode, mentally choosing from one of our six or seven favorites. My list of go-to dinners includes meals like pizza, stir-fry, chili, veggie burgers, and tacos. We always have tacos!

Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Cool Ranch Celery Slaw (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Another dish we’ve been loving lately is roasted cauliflower. I’ve tried all kinds of flavors, everything from curry to barbecue sauce, but we keep coming back to the spicy hot “buffalo” cauliflower. I should say my husband and I keep coming back to it, because these florets are much too hot for my spice fearing 3 year old (she gets her own portion of mildly seasoned roasted cauliflower). One evening last week, I decided to combine our love for tacos with our emerging new roasted “buffalo” cauliflower habit.

Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Cool Ranch Celery Slaw - Vegan and Gluten Free

The fresh, crunchy, celery studded slaw and creamy cool ranch compliment the hot,peppery cauliflower perfectly, and will keep your mouth from becoming too fiery. The cool ranch dressing is a simple blend of coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and spices. It’s probably the best homemade ranch I’ve ever made come to think of it! I recommend doubling the recipe, that way you can have some for salads another day or for extra drizzling on your tacos.

This meal has a very high probability of becoming one of our weekly favorites, for the following reasons:

  • Easy prep! Chop and toss… Perfect for my tired 5 pm brain.
  • Relatively few ingredients. Not counting common spices and seasonings, both the slaw and buffalo cauliflower require only 4 ingredients.
  • It’s a twist on one of our established weekly favorites, tacos.
  • Prep time is only about 20 minutes, and the whole thing is done and on the table in under 45 minutes.
  • It’s full of veggies without being a salad. Also, gluten free when made with corn (or other gluten free) tortillas.


Add a little pizzazz to your taco night and make these Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos part of your weekly line-up!

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos with Cool Ranch Celery Slaw

Serves 4

Buffalo Cauliflower Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp natural, runny almond butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp each garlic and onion powder

Ranch Celery Slaw Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cabbage, shredded or finely sliced (I used a combination of red and green)
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk, gently shake can*
  • 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • dash paprika
  • dash of black pepper

To serve: 8 – 10 corn tortillas, warmed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the hot sauce, almond butter, maple syrup and spices until fully combined. Toss with the cauliflower in a large bowl (I used my hands).

Spread cauliflower over a large baking pan lined with silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the slaw.

In medium bowl, whisk together the shaken coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, spices, and salt until well blended. For best flavor, make ahead of time and allow flavors to develop. Toss the ranch with the cabbage and celery.

To assemble, simply layer spicy cauliflower and cool ranch slaw in warmed tortillas. We had extra slaw on the side and celery sticks.

Notes and Tips:

*In this instance, you’ll want the cream dispersed in the coconut milk, not separated, which is why I suggest gently shaking the can before opening.

To save even more time, you can use pre-shredded cabbage and prepared vegan ranch dressing (use about a half cup).

Ranch dressing inspired by Blissful Basil’s Coconut Milk Ranch Dressing

DIY Pumpkin Oat Face Mask (All-Natural and Vegan)

Pumpkin Oat Face Mask - Vegan

Is it too soon for another pumpkin recipe? How about a pumpkin recipe for your FACE? Because if you love pumpkin as much as I do, you don’t want to just eat pumpkin, you want to bathe in it. I’m just kidding. Filling your tub would be much too costly, I’ve already looked into it. Smearing a nice thick layer on your face though, now that’s a must-try.


Pumpkin has benefits that extend far beyond it’s nutrition for our body. It’s also a wonderful ingredient for our face! I combined it with one of my other favorite foods I like to eat and put on my skin, regular old-fashioned oats, and a pinch of spices, for a simple and effective mask that you’re probably going to want to lick off your face. And actually, you could! Just take a look at all these magical things that pumpkin + oats can do for your skin:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids and naturally occurring enzymes help speed up cell turnover for a brighter, more even, and younger looking complexion
  • Antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin C might help boost collagen and soften the skin
  • Pumpkin has anti-inflammatory properties that may help heal acne and reveal clearer skin and tighter pores
  • Oats are awesome for dry and sensitive skin, and can help reduce redness and add moisture
  • Like pumpkin, oats are anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants, great for soothing bumps and plumping up the skin
  • Oats offer gentle cleansing and exfoliating properties

I’ve been using this twice a week for the last few weeks. It’s perfect for an autumn pampering session, and it’s a great way to use up that leftover pumpkin puree. The first time I used it, I immediately noticed my skin looked smoother and dewy. After a few times, I felt like my skin was more balanced, softer, and my pores were noticeably tighter. I like to add a bit of extra cinnamon, which boosts circulation and adds a warming effect – it will give your skin a rosy glow (plus it smells amazing!). Be careful with cinnamon, though, if you have sensitive skin.

Remember to eat some pumpkin too! All those anti-inflammatory compounds, beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber are wonderful for your health and for feeding your beauty from the inside out.

Pumpkin Oat Face Mask - Vegan

Pumpkin Oat Face Mask


  • 3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp oats, ground into flour (I used my blender, it doesn’t need to be super fine)
  • 2 tsp of coconut sugar (optional, but adds extra exfoliation)
  • a tiny pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice – just for the smells
  • For dry skin: add a little of your favorite facial oil like almond oil, hemp seed oil, jojoba, or coconut
  • For acne prone skin: add a few pinches of turmeric and extra cinnamon* (skip the cinnamon if your skin is sensitive)


Mix it all up and smear it on clean skin. Sit and sip on a nice homemade pumpkin spice latte for about 10-15 minutes, then tissue off and then rinse with warm water. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer or facial oil.

*I love cinnamon and have a plethora of different varieties; for this mask I used Indonesian cinnamon, which is definitely potent stuff and has a warming effect when used on the skin. Regular (cassia, or common) cinnamon might not produce similar results. Ceylon cinnamon is another good one I like to use, and is supposed to be great for clearing acne.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough For Two – By the Spoon, Bites, Or Baked (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free)

Recently I fell in love with the amazing flavor combination that is pumpkin + chocolate. I mean, most of us know chocolate makes everything better, but can pumpkin treats really get any more delicious? Yes, the answer is yes they can. Stir everything together into a chunky chocolate chip cookie dough and you’ve got a brand new fall craving.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - 3 Ways (vegan, gluten free, oil free)

It can be enjoyed by the spoon… my personal favorite.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough - 3 Ways (vegan, gluten free, oil free)

Rolled into balls and stashed in the freezer for an anytime snack when those pumpkin cravings hit. Perfect for portion control.. or erm, at least that’s the theory.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies - vegan and gluten free

Or classically baked into a perfect thick, moist, cake-y cookie.

The choice is yours my dears! Trust me, once you taste the dough, it’ll be hard to keep your sneaky spoon out of the bowl. This autumnal-ly spiced-up, one bowl pumpkin cookie dough is gluten free, and if you want to get reeealll technical it’s actually grain free too since it’s made with buckwheat groats (buckwheat is actually a seed, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a pseudo-grain).

It’s sweetened with coconut sugar, though you could substitute date sugar if you wish. Feel free to substitute the peanut butter with any nut butter of choice, and the dark chocolate chunks can be replaced with vegan chocolate chips. Go crazy and add nuts too! This is your cookie dough, have fun with it! It’s the perfect serving size for two so share the fun with a friend – or in my case, a chocolate and cookie loving three-year-old.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free

Put a fall spin on your cookie dough cravings with this yummy treat!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough – 3 Ways (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free)

Inspired by this recipe

makes 2 servings, or approximately 6 cookies/balls

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 – 4 tbsp coconut sugar or date sugar
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter or almond, cashew, etc.
  • 1 tsp molasses (optional)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp buckwheat flour*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • If baking, add 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chopped vegan dark chocolate bar/chocolate chips, or more if desired


  • In a large bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. Add the flour and spices, and if baking, add the baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine wet and dry ingredients and fold in the chocolate chunks.
  • Eat immediately with a spoon!
  • Roll into balls and refrigerate/freeze, or
  • Bake! Scoop out by the tablespoon, flattening slightly, and bake on a parchment lined pan in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 8-9 minutes.


*I make my own buckwheat flour by adding raw buckwheat groats to my Vitamix and blending on high until a fine flour is formed.

When eating this as unbaked dough, I found 3 tbsp of coconut sugar was sufficient. They seem less sweet after baking, so I used the full 4 tbsp when baking the cookies.

Date sugar is less sweet than coconut sugar, in my opinion. So you may need to taste it and add more if it isn’t sweet enough for you.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough - 3 Ways (Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil Free)