Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin-SpiceIt’s that time of year again…pumpkin spice abounds! Supermarket shelves and coffee shops offer every concoction imaginable. the problem is – most of those spicy fall like treats are far from healthy. So, with that in mind, I came up with this recipe. Healthy and delicious. 🙂

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2 T ground flax
2 T hemp seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 T almond milk
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all the wet ingredients. Add spices and dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Spoon batter into lined muffin pan.
Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.
*These make great mini-muffins, just adjust the cooking time to 12-15 minutes.

*optional add-in ingredients: pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, pecans

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Delicious Plant Strong Holiday Meals

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There are many ways that you make you holiday meals delicious AND healthy! Let’s face it, with the craziness and stress of the holiday season, we need all the nutrients we can get to stay healthy through it all.

Your holiday spread may not look like the one you grew up with – but change can a be a good thing. Especially if it means improving your health and passing that on to future generations.

It’s time to start some new holiday traditions! Find new favorite meals and yes, even desserts! It’s easier than you might think.

Try rethinking some of you favorites. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Sweet potatoes – they’re packed with nutrients and taste sooo good. BUT, do they really need to covered in marshmallows or burried in brown sugar. Of course not! They are quite good all on their own, but if you want something a little more decadent, then whip you baked sweet potatoes with cashew cream, sprinkle them with chopped pecans or walnuts and voila! A yummy side that everyone will love.

Green bean casserole – ditch the canned cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. Seriously people! Who made the rule that the green beans had be a soggy mess, dripping in goo? Instead, saute your green beans in vegetable broth, add some shallots and either slivered almonds or pine nuts.

Salad – yep, it is rarely seen on most holiday tables. That needs to change! Make a delicious massaged kale salad (no oil please). Packed with phytonutrients, kale is a real power house. Lemon juice, avocado, fresh basil and other chopped vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, carrots, radishes, etc) – that could be a meal in itself!

Lets talk desserts…it’s everybodies favorite part, right? Portion size is the key here, even when the desserts are “healthy” – you cannot eat the entire pumpkin pie just because it’s vegan. sorry.

Here are a few healthier options for desserts:

Baked Apple or Pears sprinkled with cinnamon, raisins and chopped nuts. Yum!

And for those of you that MUST have pumpkin pie, here’s a recipe from our friends at Straight Up Foods:

Pumpkin Pie with Date Nut Crust

Pecan-Date Pie Crust

Ingredients 1¼ cups rolled oats ½ cup pecan halves (2 ounces) ½ teaspoon cinnamon 5 Medjool dates (2½ ounces) 1½ tablespoons non-dairy milk

Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle position. Place the oats, pecans and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until ground, about 30 to 40 seconds. This should be pretty finely ground but don’t worry if it’s not as fine as packaged flour. A little texture is okay (see photos below).

2. Add the chopped dates and blend for about 1 minute, until the mixture starts to clump slightly. Add the non-dairy milk, and blend until the mixture balls up like dough (this will happen quickly).

3. You could press the dough into the pie pan with your fingers, which may take a little longer, or you can roll it out with a rolling pin. I like to roll it out: place the dough on a flat surface (you do not need to chill it). I like to use a flexible cutting board for this because it makes it easier to transfer the rolled out crust to the pie pan. You can also use a big piece of parchment paper under the dough. You don’t really need to flour the surface before rolling out the dough, but you can if you like.

4. Place the ball of dough into the center of the cutting board and roll out from the center, turning the board each time to roll away from you. Roll out until the dough is about an eighth of an inch thick, pretty much as thin as you can get it without it breaking and making it difficult to handle. Roll out into a circle that is slightly bigger that the pie pan (to account for the sloped edges of the pan). You can also place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough while you’re rolling it out. If the circle is irregular, just borrow a piece from another area and press it in. This dough is pretty forgiving and you can easily add patches as needed.

5. After rolling out the dough. turn the rolled out crust over and gently place it over a standard size pie pan (not a deep dish), peeling off the parchment paper or flexible cutting board (that was under the dough); a tapered spatula can also be helpful in easing the dough off the cutting board. Ease the crust into the contours of the pie pan gently. Lightly press it into place. Trim any edges, and do a decorative edge if you like; just don’t wrap the crust over the edge since this will make it harder to cut after it’s cooked. You do not need to poke it with a knife or weight it down.

6. Place the pie pan on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan (this helps the bottom of the crust cook better), and then place a piece of aluminum foil over the entire crust, just slightly tucking down the corners. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients 8 Medjool dates (4 ounces), pitted and chopped ¾ cup non-dairy milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ cup rolled oats, ground into flour (or ¼ cup flour) 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground clove 1 can (15 ounces) cooked pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie mix”), or 1½ cups

Instructions 1. Lower heat of oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates, the non-dairy milk, and the vanilla extract into a blender. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, to allow the dates to soften.

2. In a medium-large mixing bowl, add the oat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and mix with a fork. Add the pumpkin.

3. Blend the dates, non-dairy milk and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Add this to the bowl of pumpkin and spices. Using an electric beater, blend until smooth. Scrape into the pre-baked pie crust and smooth out evenly.

4. Using the foil from baking the pie crust, create a few 2-inch strips and gently wrap them around the top edge of the pie (so that the crust does not get overcooked or burnt, see photo below). Place back on the baking sheet that you used to cook the crust. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

5. Remove and cool. The texture of pumpkin pie benefits from a long sitting period, so I recommend making it the night before you’re serving it. By morning it should be set up nicely. If you need to serve it the same day, make it first thing in the morning or let it sit for a few hours first (otherwise it may be like pudding). You could also put it in the refrigerator. If you want to serve it warm, thoroughly cool it first, then put it back into the oven on a low setting (200 degrees) to warm it.

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Plant Powered 4th of July Feast

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The 4th of July usually involves backyard BBQ’s and potluck dinners, but those fun festivities don’t have to center around a slab of meat on the grill. Did you know that grilled meat (any meat – chicken, fish, beef and pork) contains carcinogens?

You can still fire up the grill – just toss veggies on instead! Grilled corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and peppers are delicious and don’t forget about the fruit – pineapple, nectarines and peaches are simply amazing. Just load up some skewers with your favorites and toss them on the grill for a few minutes.

These plant strong recipes are definite crowd pleasers:

Spicy Watermelon Salad

This recipe is delicious and refreshing – a perfect summer side dish. The sweet watermelon is enhanced with the flavors of lime and mint and the kick from the chili’s rounds it out perfectly.

*adjust ingredients to taste

  • 5-6 cups Watermelon diced
  • 1-2 *chili peppers finely minced
  • 3-4 mint leaves minced
  • lime juice (1-2 limes)

*You can substitute red pepper flakes or sambal for the chili’s if you prefer.

Cut up watermelon into large chunks. Reserve any juice and mix it with the lime juice, mint and chili peppers. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate.

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White Bean & Wild Rice Veggie Burger

  • 1/2 c uncooked wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 c red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 c celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash Original no-salt seasoning
  • 1/2 c almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 c cooked white beans or
  • 1 (15 ounce can) no-salt-added or low sodium white beans, drained 100% whole grain bread crumbs or old fashioned oats if needed to adjust consistency

Instructions:

Combine rice and 2 cups water (or no-salt-added or low sodium vegetable broth for additional flavor) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain any excess water.

While rice is cooking, water saute onions, celery and garlic over low flame for 10 minutes or until tender. Stir frequently to prevent burning; cover sporadically to soften vegetables, but uncover to let water steam off. Stir in basil, parsley, and Mrs. Dash.

Finely chop almonds in food processor. Add beans and process until beans are pureed and mixture is well combined. Place in a bowl and stir in wild rice and onion mixture.

Form into burgers. If mixture is too wet, a small amount of whole grain bread crumbs or oats may be added. Place burgers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

  • 1 1/2 c Israeli couscous
  • 1 c cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c minced fresh flat leaf parsley 10 to 12 basil leaves, thinly sliced (to taste)
  • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted and diced
  • 1 c halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 to 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Mixed baby greens, as needed
  • 1/4 c toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds green onions, chopped

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the Israeli couscous and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water until the couscous is at room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients except the last two. Toss well to combine.

Line a large serving platter with some greens. Mound the salad over them. Sprinkle the top with the toasted nuts and green onions. Serve at once or cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

 

 

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen is fine)
  • 15 dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients and only 1 cup cherries into the blender and mix well. Add remaining cherries and pulse a bit to break them up. If you don’t like chunks in your ice cream, blend until smooth.
If you have an ice cream maker, chill the mix so it’s cold and process in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in a large, airtight glass container. No ice cream maker? Just pour into a large, airtight glass container and freeze.
Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

 

 

No Bake Berry Cheesecake (vegan)

* even though this is made with healthy ingredients, it is still calorie dense, so watch your portion size!

The recipe is definitely a labor of love – but it’s perfect for a special occasion.

Crust:

  • 1 c raw nuts (any combination works. I use walnuts, almonds and cashews)
  • 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soaked in water for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor, process the nuts and coconut to the consistency of course sand. Add the dates and vanilla and process until combined well.  Press the crust into the bottom of a nonstick spring-form pan or a pie plate. Place the crust in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 c macadamia nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 1 package (organic) firm silken tofu (drained)
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • ½ c lemon juice
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in water for 5-10 minutes (blended into a paste with the lemon juice, using a blender or food processor)

The day before you plan on serving, blend the soaked macadamia nuts in a Vitamix or other high powered blender with just enough water to blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth and let drain overnight.

To make the filling:

In a food processor or high powered blender, process the macadamia cheese and the rest of the filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the filling into your crust and place in the freezer for an hour.

Topping:

  • 1 package of defrosted raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or blackberries (or a combination of your favorites)
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 Medjool dates (blended into a paste with a small amount of lemon juice or water)

Mix all ingredients and leave in the fridge for several hours.

Right before serving, pour the berry mixture over the cake.

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Eat Healthy & Thrive

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Homemade Larabars

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I love Larabars..however, I will not not buy them because the company is owner by General Mills, who is a big supporter of Monsanto. That being said, I decided to try my hand at making my own. After looking at the ingredients, it didn’t seem like too daunting a task.

These bars are a great grab & go snack. They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free and organic. Regardless of the flavor you choose to make, here are the basic directions:

Start with placing the dates (and other fruits) in a food processor and pulse about 30-45 seconds. The mixture should stick together well, forming a paste. Place mixture in a seperate bowl. Next, add the nuts and any other ingredients to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add date mixture back to the processor and combine all ingredients well. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Pour the processed bar mix into the pan, fold the other half of the wrap over the mix and press firmly. Place the bars in the fridge for about an hour and then cut into 6 bars (or 12 squares, if you want them smaller). Either wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge.

*If the dried fruit that you’re using is really tough or a little too dry, it can be soaked in warm water for about 5 minutes, then drain and process according to the directions above.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and come up with own favorites! *optional add-ins: 1-2 TBSP of cocoa powder; flax seed; cacao nibs; vanilla; cinnamon

My Favorite Flavor Combinations:

 

Coconut Date Bars

  • 1 cup roughly chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

 

Cherry Pie

  •  1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup dried cherries

 

Key Lime Pie

  •  1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  •  Zest and juice of 1 lime

 

Lemon Bar

  •  1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

 

Blueberry Muffin

  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

 

Peanut Butter Cookie

  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 TBSP natural peanut butter (no sugar or oil added)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup peanuts

 

Chocolate Coconut Macaroon

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 3 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

 

Eat Healthy & Thrive

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Acai Bowl Recipe

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Acai berries are a miracle superfood that fights 80% of cancers and promotes longevity. Has a blue pigment in its skin that is highly beneficial to our immune system and cell production. High in omega 3s.

 

Ingredients:

  •  1 pack of frozen Acai Berry
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (substitute almond or coconut milk if you prefer)
  • 1/2 frozen ripe banana
  • 7-8 sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 sliced banana (fresh)
  • Blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Granola

*Optional: unsweetened coconut flakes, Goji berries, sliced fruit, chia seeds

Directions:

1. Remove packets of acai and frozen banana from freezer.

2. Add apple juice, Acia and frozen banana, and a few strawberries to your blender. If you have a VitaMix use the tamper to puree into a soft serve. If you have another type of blender you may have to stop and stir and keep pulsing to combine. Stop blending when smooth.

3. Once blended, pour into a bowl and top it with Granola, sliced fruit and your choice of toppings.

 

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Chia Pudding with Cardamom Cream

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Chia seeds are a power house of nutrients!  High in fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more – even protein!

Ingredients:    

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup fresh berries (pick your favorite – raspberries, blueberries or blackberries)

*This is delicious also with bananas or peaches!

Cardamom Cream:

  •  2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cardamom

 

*Feel free to subsitute 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk for the cashews & water.

Directions:

Blend together Cardamom Cream ingredients until smooth and add to chia seeds. Stir well and allow to sit in the refrigerator until the mixture thickens. (about 15 minutes)

Add your fresh fruit and enjoy.   Serve chilled or at room temperature. Can be stored in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to one week, but I doubt that it will be around that long  😉

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Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

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Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream  

Serves:2

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk

1-2 TBSP natural non-alkalized cocoa powder

4 dates, pitted

1 1/2 cups frozen dark sweet cherries

 

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients together in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. If using a regular blender, only add half the cherries, blend until smooth, then add remaining cherries and continue to blend. Add a few ice cubes while blending, if you need to make it colder.

*optional – stir in some chopped cherries before serving.

You can also use berries or banana instead of cherries.

 

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