Happy Autumn! While I waited until it was truly fall in late September to start enjoying fall foods, I am completely embracing and enjoying fall tastes with apples, winter squash, and of course pumpkin. I do have to say though, that while at Trader Joe’s last week, the amount of processed pumpkin foods on every end cap and stand in the store was scarier than anything I will encounter on Halloween.
Anyway, I am so excited to share this recipe! While I love my gluten free almond meal pumpkin muffins, the texture of these new ones really hit the spot with Sunday brunch this past week. I actually adapted it from a pumpkin cookie recipe and originally intended to put chocolate chips and nuts inside the batter but was distracted with other food prep. I am happy I forgot because the drizzled chocolate and crushed maple chia nuts on top add a little crunch to the light, fluffy and tender texture of this delicious pumpkin spice muffin.
Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. But most products and recipes are loaded with tons of sugar, meaning you feel you can’t have this pair any old day. Not with this recipe! Nutritious, delicious and super filling, this oatmeal has no added sugar with all the flavor 🙂 And let me tell you, it was perfect this morning to warm me up on a snow day! As most people know, I am not a big supplement fan but the Garden of Life brand Raw protein is an excellent option every so often when you need a little boost in a carbohydrate dense meal for balance or after a workout. Another great protein is Manitoba Harvest Brand’s new Hemp Pro protein powders. Enjoy this healthy breakfast that seems like a treat 🙂 – there is even a slow cooker option if you think you don’t have the time! Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal (V, GF, DF)
Ingredients for 1 serving:
Just double, triple, quadruple as needed!
1/2 cup oats (40 g)
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 scoop Garden of Life Raw protein (original)
1.5 tsp cacao powder
Optional: 1/2 tsp maca root powder
Optional: 1.5 tsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 banana, sliced
-In a small saucepan, boil 6-7 ounces water (or non dairy milk)
-Add the oats and chia seeds at once and reduce heat to simmer
-Stir frequently to prevent sticking – quick oats should thicken within 2 minutes and rolled oats within 5
-Add the protein, cacao, maca, vanilla and stir well
-Pour into serving bowl and top with peanut butter, sliced banana, and coconut
Slow Cooker Version:
-Quadruple above recipe
-Use steel cut oats instead of rolled or quick oats
-Add all ingredients except banana and coconut to glass bowl that will fit into slow cooker basin
-Place bowl in slow cooker, fill slow cooker with water up to 1 inch below top of bowl
-Set on low for 6-8 hours, wake up and enjoy!
Nutrition information per serving:
Total Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 49 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sugar: 9 g
Protein: 24 g
Tim and I absolutely love Sprig and Vine in New Hope, PA. We have been dining there regularly this fall and winter, but if it was right here in Newtown, it would be difficult to keep from eating there less than once a week! The all vegan restaurant will blow any carnivore out of the water with each dish’s amazing creativity, flavor and presentation. Not only is everything vegan, but most of their ingredients are local, even in the winter! You can always see the list of farm’s that ingredients have been sourced from that week when you walk in.
To prove this place isn’t just for those on plant based diets, I have my husband. While Tim enjoys eating the vegetarian meals I cook all week, he may order a grass fed burger or filet on a rare occasion while out. Still, he will always be just as excited as me (if not more) about a meal any night at Sprig and Vine, Vedge or Charlie was a Sinner, all completely vegan restaurants. On Valentine’s Day this year, we had two reservations, one at a restaurant in Princeton that serves local humane meats (along with veg options), and one at Sprig and Vine. He made the final decision to go to Sprig and Vine!
At sprig we love to share some small plates, but usually get an entree each too, and I bring half home for the next day. Here is a sampling of one of our most recent visits to Sprig and Vine where we even splurged on dessert. (This happens to often because just like you, we convince ourselves its “healthy” in the moment since its vegan).
Their soups are to die for and change every time we are in. Tonight there were two options but with how much Tim loves any food with a Mexican flare, once he heard “black bean” the decision was made. Here is the black bean & butternut soup with jalapeno cashew cream and cilantro. Flavors really popped by themselves but also worked together extremely well. We could have ordered seconds of this for our dinner and been happy!
On the side we decided to order the baked garlic cashew kale chips. Brad’s Raw, sorry but you have nothing on these! I loved that they were 3 different local kale varieties/colors and Tim liked dipping them in the soup!
Yes, we got another appetizer to share. Couldn’t help it. Black eyed pea sweet potato griddle cakes with smoked paprika aioli. How can I describe its taste any further when the title is that complex? Well like all of the dishes here, the flavor is always balance perfectly, here with sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the spicy paprika aioli, there is the tart from the apple & winter radish salsa. So pretty too!!
Tim’s dinner, not pictured, was the Cauliflower and Fingerling Potato Curry: black quinoa with butternut and chickpea, coconut-curry sauce, fennel-root vegetable slaw, cashew and cilantro. It was delicious, especially the cauliflower, but more importantly my meal!
For years, I swore off tofu. It had a weird texture to me but I have realized that really, I never prepared it well or went to a restaurant that did. Just 6 or so months ago, Charlie was a Sinner in Philly changed my mind about tofu when we accidentally ordered it, and now I have been more open minded trying it at all our fave vegan restaurants! So, on this occasion at Sprig I was extra open minded ordering this dish since I typically don’t love fennel either. Fennel Seed-Seared Tofu: butternut squash caponata, saffron cauliflower puree, sauteed swiss chard, chickpea and fennel, pine nut. The crusted tofu had a perfect texture, and the creamy cauliflower puree balanced out the texture. Swiss chard is hiding under the tofu in the picture but it was a perfect dose of greens! Best part, having half saved for lunch the next day 🙂
For dessert we picked the Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake: Ginger Snap Crust, Cranberry Red Wine Caramel, Cinnamon-Apple Cider Ice Cream, Miso Candied Walnut. Tim apparently never even liked regular cheesecake and loved this one. I used to ask for cheesecake for my birthday instead of regular cake as a kid, so now being dairy free, having a good “cheese”cake is awesome – this was beyond good and honestly better than I remember dairy filled cheesecake to be. Any and all of the ice “cream” they make to garnish desserts is ridiculously good. Whether a simple vanilla, this cinnamon apple cider one, or the black pepper strawberry sorbet, you’ll never be disappointed with what is on your plate. And who would ever think to elevate this type of dessert with miso candied walnuts?! Thankfully the chef at sprig and vine did!!
So if you’re ever headed to Philly and have the time, venture about 45 minutes north to New Hope, PA. If you’re in NYC and want to get out for a day, the historic town of New Hope on the DE river has a lot to offer on top of this amazing restaurant, and its just a little over an hour away from the city!
If you have any vegan restaurant suggestions for me, local or in other cities, let me know! Meals are the first thing we tend to plan when we travel 🙂
Hummus has been super popular for years and I don’t see it going away anytime soon! While it is a healthful snack or spread, you are spending way too much money on it! This recipe can give you 4 times what you’ll get in a store bought container for a lower cost and with a better, fresher taste. Even if you think you can’t cook, it is so easy that I promise you can do this! Since red pepper is one of the most popular flavors, I figured it was a perfect one to post.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (GF, V, DF)
2/3 C Roasted red peppers (I buy organic jarred or roast my own!)
1.5 cans or 3 cups soaked garbanzo beans
1.5 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup warm water
*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free.
-Add all ingredients except the water to your food processor.
-Pulse for 30-60 seconds. If the mixture is very thick and difficult to blend, add 1/8 cup of water. If you use canned beans, you are less likely to need to add the water. Pulse for another 30-60 seconds and then gauge if you think you need the remainder of the water.
-Pulse an additional minute or until mixture is very creamy.
-Add to a serving dish or pour into a storage container and enjoy within a week!
Since my home only consists of myself and my husband, I sometimes will freeze half for next week if we won’t be having anyone over. Just throw it in the fridge a day before you want to eat it 🙂
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Garbanzo Beans, aka “chickpeas”, contain protein, fiber, manganese, folate and even some iron.
Tahini which is a paste made from sesame seeds, is an ingredient in the hummus you buy at the grocery store that you maybe never knew was in there. It provides great flavor but also gives you some protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and plant sterols. Vitamins and minerals in tahini include thiamin (a B vitamin), vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
Red Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus!), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include lycopene (associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer & heart disease) and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.
Garlic provides the phytochemical allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health and act as antibacterial agents.
I adapted this recipe right from my cashew cookie hemp energy bars because I wanted to make a nut free alternative for those with nut allergies! My brother is sadly allergic to tree nuts, but not peanuts, and in trying to find convenience energy bars for him, I had hardly any luck. These can give you a less sweet Reese’s like taste and are great for anyone who loves a PB + chocolate combo food (who doesn’t?). Like my cashew hemp and date/almond bars, these are a good, clean, snack to have in between meals or before a workout. I really like to make a batch of bars every week so we can easily add one to our lunch bag that we take to work.
For those of you who are still getting on your food prep game and might have a nut allergy, I was able to find several Clif Brand bars that per their website, are tree nut free (but not peanut free). Please note that while they do use more natural sources of sugar than most bars, these types of bars are best for physically active individuals due to their sugar content.
CLIF kid zbar protein: chocolate chip, chocolate mint
If you are concerned with any other allergies such as dairy, eggs, soy or wheat, use Clif’s allergen table to see what convenience snacks are safe for you. Now for the recipe!
Peanut Cocoa Energy Bars (Veg, DF, GF) Makes 12 bars
Ingredients (use organic whenever possible):
1 1/2 Cups raw or dry roasted unsalted peanuts (I use whole foods 365 organic)
1 Cup raw pitted dates*
1/4 Cup hemp protein powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (omit if using salted peanuts)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw cacao (or even cocoa powder if that’s all you have)
Optional: 1 tablespoon maca root powder
Optional: 1 tablespoon raw hemp hearts
*Both Medjool and Deglet Noor work. When using Deglet you may need to add a tsp of water for more moisture
-Add all ingredients to your food processor, dry first and liquid last.
-Pulse until all ingredients are pretty finely ground like in this picture, approximately 1-2 minutes.
If the mixture does not seem sticky enough add another 1/2 tablespoon of honey or even water.
-Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten our with your hands or a rolling pin. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to desired thickness, flatten out the edges with hands.
-Cut the pieces evenly into 12 bars. You can obviously cut to larger or smaller if you want, but nutrition info below is for 12.
-Separate the bars and cut the large sheet of wax paper to wrap the bars. Throw one in your lunch bag or purse & store the rest in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Dates, in my opinion, are natures candy! They are a source of natural sugar which can be helpful to athletes before and during exercise when they need a quick absorbing energy source. They provide fiber and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and even some calcium. Instead of packaged products, I use dates as fuel during long outdoor workouts and even races.
Peanuts are a good source of most B vitamins, especially niacin. They also provide vitamin E, minerals like copper and selenium, and the phytochemical resveretrol (you may have heard of this because it is in red wine) They are known for their heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats.
Hemp protein is an excellent alternative to dairy proteins like whey and casein. Manitoba Harvest is my favorite brand for both protein powder and hemp hearts; they highlight amino acid content here. Other than its protein content, hemp also provides both soluble (great for your heart) and insoluble (excellent for your gut) fiber, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium and lots of iron. In addition, hemp protein is a terrific vegan source of omega 3’s.
Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!
Cacao powder is different from cocoa powder in that it is not processed with alkali which can remove some antioxidants and nutrients. When using cacoa, you are getting minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium which help regulate metabolism and keep your blood system and bones healthy. You also get some fiber, and phytochemicals theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine which have been found to support brain health and promote well-being.
Maca root has small amounts of calcium, Vitamin C and iron as well as fiber, phytochemical antioxidants and plant sterols which are known to aid in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It is most sought due to claims to boost energy and endocrine function (particularly in females). Maca has been consumed in Peru for thousands of years for these reasons, but there is not a large body of conclusive scientific evidence for those claims. I tried Navitas Naturals brand mostly to see what the hype was about. I enjoy the taste and do feel it provides a small energy boost when I add it to my oatmeal and skip the morning coffee – but that is just my feedback, not a research study! Lot’s of studies related to endocrine function are linked to from a summaryhere and you can evaluate more research at examine.com.
1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.
Serving Size: 1 Bar
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 17 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 5.5 g
Sodium: 50 mg 5 %
Potassium: 220 mg 5%
Out of your weekend food prep rhythm because its summer? Add this soup to your list and get back on track! It doesn’t have to be freezing outside to enjoy soup! Even in the summer, soups are a great meal to prep ahead for the week so you have an easy lunch to bring to work, or dinner ready to go once you’re home after a long day. I used white beans and peas as a protein source and brown rice as a grain. The sweetness of the yellow bell pepper and tomatoes tone down the spice of habenero, and both flavors blend perfectly with some fresh rosemary! And since we eat with our eyes first it’s a good thing all of the ingredients look gorgeous together – all of these colors mean lots of different antioxidants too 🙂
Sweet & Spicy White Bean Summer Soup (GF, V, DF)
Ingredients(see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 habanero pepper, minced (amount depends on how much spice you like)
1 large red onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1- 1 1/2 cups)
3 C fresh beefsteak tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic diced tomatoes)*
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 C dry organic brown rice (Trader Joe’s has a quick cook done in 10 min!)
1 C dry white cannellini beans prepped (or 2-2.5 Cups canned)*
1-1.25 Cups fresh or frozen peas
4 Cups (1 container) organic low-sodium vegetable broth (if you like broth-y soup add 2 C water) -note: Trader Joe’s “organic low sodium hearty vegetable broth” is THE best pre-made broth you will find! 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
3/4 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free – recently, Muir Glen tomatoes also went BPA free.
-Wash the carrots and peppers and prep all of your ingredients as listed above.
-Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
-Add the garlic and habanero and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown)
-Add in your rosemary, oregano and pepper (I like to do this early so the flavor infuses better)
-Add the chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, wait on those)
-Stir well and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Add the broth and bring to a boil
-Add your rice, and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. If you did not buy the quick cook brown rice like me, you’ll have to wait about 30 minutes – clean the mess in your kitchen from the prep and do some squats while you’re waiting 🙂
-If using canned tomatoes, add them now and stir the mixture
-Add your white beans and peas
-Add 2 C water if desired. I personally like soup more thick so I leave the extra liquid out. Let simmer another 5 minutes or so and then you’re done!
While not pictured, I have found I love this most with some diced avocado. It gives it even more of a fresh summer taste and adds even more color. With a side salad this is a perfect lunch at home or work!
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Beans are a great source of potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. They also provide a little calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin – these benefit your eyes, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
Rice provides a good amount of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Riboflavin & Manganese. You can also get phytochemicals like quercetin (great for your immune system and lungs) & several carotenoids. Purchase organic rice as it is not as likely to be contaminated with inorganic arsenic.
Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus when fresh), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.
They’re finally becoming more known for it but peas are a good source of plant protein! Per 2/3 Cup serving you get 5 grams! As a reference, an egg contains 7 grams. Peas are also an excellent source of Vitamins K, C, A, B1, and folate. They contain the phytochemical coumestrol which has been found in research to reduce stomach cancer risk as well as other phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties.
Carrots and are most known for their role in eye health. This is because they have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. They are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Garlic and onions are all part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin, quercitin, and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Both onions & leeks provide Vitamin C. Onions are also a great source of vitamins B6 and folate while leeks contribute vitamins A & K in great amounts as well as the mineral manganese.
The heat level of habenero peppers directly relates to their high capsaicin content. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. In addition they have been found in research to be anti-bacterial, and even anti-allergy due to nutrient content including vitamins A and C, some B vitamins and potassium – and yes its normal for them to clear your sinuses 🙂
Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.
Rosemary contains carnosol which has been found in studies to be an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compound and carnosic acid that has neuro-protective (brain &nervous system protective) properties. Some studies show it can aid the GI tract too and as an oil, it has also been used for centuries to improve circulation! Per weight it has a high content of nutrients but since we consume small smounts of it, it provides a little folate, riboflavin, and vitamins A & C as well as the minerals iron, calcium and potassium.