Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Thank you guys again for all your amazing, thoughtful comments on my clean eating post! I feel like it’s a well-intentioned goal of a lot of bloggers out there, especially former ED sufferers, but it can get out of hand way too easily and a life of balance is a lot easier and healthier to manage!

It’s kind of ironic, then, that I’m posting a very ‘clean’ recipe today. I really do think that eating ‘clean’ or healthy will be something I’ll want to do most of the time, obviously not the point of obsession, but just enough to feel healthy, happy and balanced. And actually, this recipe is challenging one of my old ED fears–fats. I used to be terrified of them to the point that I’d meticulously measure out a teaspoon of almond butter, and that was the bulk of my fats for the day. Luckily, I’ve come around and started to embrace all the wonderful and healthy plant-based fats, most recently coconut. Now I love sauteing my veggies in coconut oil and sprinkling coconut shreds over everything and anything.

But raw desserts in general still challenge me, which is why I’m making it a goal of mine to incorporate more raw recipes into my life. That sounds like it’s restrictive, and it could be, but for me it won’t be because I need to see that nuts and seeds and coconut won’t make me blow up like a balloon. Raw desserts are much less processed than typical desserts, and preserve more of the nutrients in the ingredients than healthified desserts, but they don’t shy away from plant-based fats. However, I really adore raw desserts, whether homemade, store-bought or from a restaurant, so I really want to experiment with them more often. I do have a few raw desserts I’ve made before, as you can see from my recipes tab but I want to try all new flavor combos.

So pumpkin is generally thought of as a fall food, and seeing as it’s winter (and nearly spring, yay!) it may not be as fitting but it’s still just as delicious. And pumpkin puree is usually available in grocery stores year round, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find any of these ingredients. If you’d rather, you can use other squash purees but just make this mousse…you won’t regret it!

This tastes like real pumpkin pie...but it's all raw!

This tastes like real pumpkin pie…but it’s all raw!

Pumpkin Pie Mousse (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free)

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 12 hours (I soaked mine for 2 days)

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp raw honey (not technically vegan, but I use it because it’s raw and healthier than other sugar sources)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and vanilla extract, to taste

In a food processor/high powered blender, process soaked and rinsed cashews for at least a minute, or until they become creamy and smooth. You may need to add up to 1 tbsp of water to smooth out. Add in melted coconut oil, honey, pumpkin and spices and blend until combined. Serve chilled topped with shredded coconut, raisins, raw crushed pecans or coconut milk whipped cream. Makes 2 large servings. 

Do you enjoy raw desserts? Is pumpkin a fall food or a year-round food for you? 

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #42. 

Healthier Vegan Baking Tips

‘Tis the season for desserts, right? I don’t know about you but I’ve got a major sweet tooth. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (and I hate savory breakfasts), I can’t live without dark chocolate and I could eat fruit all day every day.

It might seem like vegan baking is always healthier than traditional baking that incorporates eggs, butter, etc. That’s partly true, but not always the case. Some vegan dessert recipes call for tons of white flour, dairy replacements and lots of sugar and oil. Not exactly the healthiest thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more indulgent desserts but I’d rather save those for special occasions when I happen to find an amazing vegan baked good at Whole Foods or a restaurant that might not match up to my normal nutritional standards but it looks/sounds so good that I’ve just gotta try it once. Even those are a little more healthified, but when I make desserts at home, I like to make sure I’ll feel good eating them. With that being said, I’ve got a few tips just in time for the holiday baking rush. This is all about vegan baking, because that’s what I have the most experience with, but I think even non-vegans can appreciate these!

1. Coconut oil > vegan “butter”

I used to be deathly afraid of coconut products. Why? Because they’re loaded with saturated fats! Of course, now I’ve learned a lot more about coconut nutrition, and they are really good for you. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils you can use for cooking and baking and if you buy the refined kind, it doesn’t add any coconut flavor. I prefer unrefined for a little extra taste but even unrefined isn’t too coconutty. Vegan “butter”, on the other hand, is filled with lots of unnatural oils and other unnecessary ingredients. It may be lower in fat than coconut oil, but a bit of natural fats are healthy!

2. Go for whole food subs

If you are a vegan, you’ve likely tried or at least seen some popular subs for meat-and-dairy filled products. Things like vegan cream cheese, soy yogurt and egg replacer powder aren’t hard to find anymore, but they aren’t as good for you as whole food-based options. If you want to make vegan cheesecake, try cashew cream instead of vegan cream cheese. If the fudge recipe you found calls for soy creamer, try using full-fat canned coconut milk instead. Again, whole food subs may have a bit more fat but at least you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

A raw vegan cheesecake made with whole foods: cashews, dates and almonds!

A raw vegan cheesecake made with whole foods: cashews, dates and almonds!

3. Try out gluten free flours

I’m not strictly gluten free, but I like to use gluten free flours instead of whole wheat because they can add an interesting taste and texture and I feel better when I limit wheat. My personal favorites are almond flour and buckwheat flour. Both are higher in protein and fiber than whole wheat and all purpose flour and they’re great to use in recipes that call for a bit more chew and a stronger flavor. I used almond flour in my Pumpkin Chip Muffins and I used buckwheat flour in my Festive Garland Bars Take Two. I would suggest searching for vegan gluten free recipes so you know they’ll work without eggs (GF flours sometimes work better with an egg but they can be made into vegan treats).

4. Stick with natural sweeteners

I typically use pure maple syrup in most of my dessert recipes because I love the subtle taste it adds and it’s also one of the most healthful sugar sources. Stevia is a good option if you want to cut down on sugar and calories, but I usually use it combined with maple syrup to make the texture of the baked good more like a typical dessert. Coconut nectar/sugar is another healthier option, as is raw honey (if you aren’t a strict vegan). Dates and bananas are a great way to sweeten desserts without any added (non-fruit) sugars but remember that they have a stronger taste than other sweeteners.

5. Experiment and have fun

I’ve veganized my fair share of dessert recipes and that can be a lot more fun than following a vegan recipe ingredient-for-ingredient. When I want to make a dessert, I usually search for a vegan (and gluten free) option first and sometimes combine multiple recipes into one to make my own. And don’t let these guidelines make you feel like you can’t enjoy dessert. If you want to enjoy a more indulgent vegan dessert, go ahead. But you may be surprised by how tasty a healthified vegan dessert can be too!

A less healthy (but still delicious) vegan ice cream pie.

A less healthy (but still delicious) vegan ice cream pie.

Do you like to healthify the desserts you make yourself? Have you ever enjoyed a healthy vegan dessert?

I’ll be back after the 25th to share some recipes and all the Christmas festivities I’ve been enjoying! If you celebrate, I hope you have a very merry Christmas 😀

Countdown to Christmas Recipes: Pecan Pie Pecans

First things first: thanks for all the great responses and advice on my last two posts! I really appreciate all you had to say and hopefully I can put it in to use and start working on getting rid of that annoying calorie counting habit.

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Who doesn’t like the flavors of the holiday season? Peppermint (my personal favorite), gingerbread, eggnog, spices, pumpkin (I know, it’s more of a fall thing but it’s still sticking around), cranberry…there’s a flavor for everyone to enjoy. The holidays are not just about the food, of course, but enjoying the special food of this time of year is a big part of the experience.

One of my other favorite Christmas-y flavors is pecan. I don’t know why it reminds me of Christmas but it does and I love its roasty flavor. Last year at this time I came up with a couple recipes using pecans–coffee maple pecan butter and raw mini pecan pies. I’m not even sure that I’ve ever had real pecan pie, but I do know that I love that flavor, all caramelized and gooey.

So why not take the flavor of a pecan pie and add it to…pecans? Over Thanksgiving break, I was planning on making some grain free maple pecan bars for the big day, but the crust didn’t turn out great and I almost scrapped the whole thing. But then I tasted the pecan topping and thought, “Wow, this tastes like pecan pie!” So I decided to roast the pecans and they turned out amazing.

Roasting nuts at home is super easy, and you can add whatever flavors you want. Obviously these are inspired by the classic pecan pie and they really do taste like pie. Trust me.

Ummm, yum!

Pecan Pie Pecans (vegan, gluten free)

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 tbsp Grade A maple syrup

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp almond butter (I used AB that’s just made from almonds)

sea salt, to taste

In a medium pot over high heat, bring maple syrup, coconut oil and almond butter to a boil, whisking frequently. Stir in pecans and sea salt; make sure pecans are mostly covered with the maple syrup mixture. Preheat oven to 375. On a baking sheet lined with foil, spread pecans out in 1 layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pecans start to caramelize. Makes about 1/2 cup. 

Do you like pecan pie? What’s your favorite holiday flavor?

This recipe was submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #19.

College Vegan on a Budget: Stocking Up

A look into my adventures of learning how to budget shop for healthy vegan groceries.

After my refrigerator fiasco of last week (BTW: I got a new fridge out of the deal, score!) I had to throw out a bunch of my food. Normally I don’t mind tossing things that I didn’t love or whatever, but now that I’m buying almost all of my own groceries, it kinda hurts to have to waste so much, especially not by choice. I just didn’t want to risk getting sick! However, I was excited to do a big restock of my fridge and freezer. Yeah, I get excited over grocery trips. Lame, maybe, but I don’t care! Anyways, I went on a couple shopping trips this weekend while I was at home and my dad was nice enough to buy a few things for me so I won’t be counting those things in my budget list, but I am pumped to try them. I got my first ever kabocha squash and after hearing so many amazing things about them I am roasting mine ASAP, and I also got a chocolate raspberry Raw Revolution bar that sounds so good.

Pantry staples.

Whole Foods

This is all the stuff I bought for myself to restock my fridge, freezer and pantry. I missed a few things, but I’ll be making a trip back next weekend for some extras. (*=organic)

What I Got: kale*, garnet yams*, black grapes*, black figs*, brussel sprouts, baby carrots*, Jazz apples, bulk nutritional yeast (nooooooch!), raisins*, unsweetened vanilla almond milk*, sprouted tofu*, bulk maple almonds (ob-sessed), garbanzo beans*, virgin unrefined coconut oil*, harissa hummus, pineapple upside down Larabar, frozen sweet potato puffs, kelp noodles, NadaMoo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, dry roasted edamame, pumpkin puree in a box*, Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, olive bar olives, black bean dip, fresh guacamole, hot sauce dressing (ummm, yes please), Truvia

Fridge and freezer stuff.

What It Cost Me: $81.84 (pretty good for having some higher priced items in there)

Verdict: So glad it came in under $100. I had to do a bunch of restocking since my fridge was basically empty, but I got a bunch of things that will last me a while like the nooch, coconut oil, hummus and sweet potato puffs. I only spent over $5 on 3 items, which is a great way to save money. Those more expensive items add up!

Produce (minus apples and yams).

Now I’m all restocked and ready to go for another week here at my apartment! I’ll be doing some meal prep throughout the week and will hopefully come back sometime with some recipes for you to try out. Tonight I’m making socca pizza for the first time…with a twist!

How much produce do you buy every week? What’s your favorite dip/dressing?

Vegan MoFo: Sweet & Salty Squash Seeds

You know something’s good when you can’t stop eating it straight out of the oven!

If you’ve ever roasted your own pumpkin seeds before, you know how addictingly delicious they are. They’re almost impossible to screw up (seriously, even burned ones taste good) and they’re incredibly customizable. And they’re a fall tradition in my family. Every year around Halloween, we’d carve giant pumpkins and set them outside with candles inside. But before we could carve them, we had to gut them first. Kinda gross, but the reward was the tons of seeds we’d find inside. We’d set them out on plates overnight to dry and then the next day my mom would roast them in a secret blend of spices that tasted amazing together.

It’s not quite Halloween yet, but I was still in the mood for some roasted seeds…without all the pumpkin guts. When I bought a carnival squash the other day to roast, I realized it came with a bunch of seeds. Um, light bulb moment–I could try roasting squash seeds! Squash seeds are generally smaller than pumpkin seeds, but that means that they take less time to roast and are easier to remove from the squash. But they taste just as good, if not better, than pumpkin seeds. I decided to go with a sweet and salty take for this batch, and of course they’re vegan as all my recipes are. But they’re also much healthier than typical roasted seed recipes that call for lots of oil or butter and sugar. A little goes a long way in this recipe, but the end product is worth eating straight off the pan.

Told you I ate some of them straight off the pan!

Sweet & Salty Squash Seeds (vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)

seeds from 1 squash (or multiple squashes, if you want to make more)

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp coconut oil

sprinkle sea salt, to taste

In a bowl, mix the seeds, maple  syrup and coconut oil until seeds are sticky and coated. Sprinkle sea salt on top and taste to make sure it has the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, making sure the sugar doesn’t burn too much (full disclosure: mine did, but they still taste great). Remove from oven and let cool (or just eat right away!) and store in a plastic bag. Makes about 1/4 to 1/3 cup seeds.

This is another small batch recipe, just because squashes don’t produce many seeds but you can always use seeds from more squashes and just up the amount of maple syrup and coconut oil you use. These seeds have just enough natural sugar and salt to taste amazing but aren’t loaded down with unhealthy ingredients. Plus squash seeds, like pumpkin seeds, are full of healthy plant-based fats, so eat up!

Do you like to roast pumpkin seeds? What is your favorite flavor combo (like sweet & salty, etc.)?

Thanks for all your amazing comments on my last post! I think it’s cool that you think it’s cool that I’m on TV 😀

Vegan MoFo: Pumpkin Macaroons

I first heard of Vegan MoFo last year, when I was new to veganism and still eating Greek yogurt on occasion. I thought it was a cool concept but I didn’t think much of it until this year. Now I would say I’m 99% vegan (that 1% accounts for occasional trips for gelato, or accidentally eating something at a restaurant that turns out to not be vegan) and eating a more well-rounded plant-based diet. A year ago I was eating a lot more vegan ‘convenience’ food like Morningstar veggie sausages every morning and I couldn’t live without my daily bowl of overnight oats. Now I skip all those faux meats (tempeh and tofu don’t count!) and I rarely have oats anymore. I’m eating cleaner than ever and experimenting all the time with my meals. Basically I’m having more fun with food and loving it!

One of the new foods I’ve been embracing is coconut. I used to be afraid of it, but now I know how healthy and tasty it is. I’ve mostly been using it in oil and flour form and both are amazing but I bought some coconut shreds a couple weeks ago and barely made a dent in the huge bag…until now.

I’ve been wanting to try Hail Merry’s raw macaroons ever since I first spotted them at Whole Foods. But at $7.99 a bag, they’re a definite splurge that have just not been in my budget lately. So why not try to make my own macaroons?

Mine are almost raw, and incorporate everyone’s favorite fall veggie, pumpkin. I mean, why not put it in everything and end up being orange by the end of fall? And I just had to include some chocolate in there because you can’t deny the amazingness of pumpkin + chocolate, but you can always skip that step.

Chocolate dipped.

Pumpkin Macaroons (vegan, gluten-free, grain free)

1/2 cup finely shredded coconut 

2 tbsp almond flour/meal

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

pinch sea salt

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tbsp dark chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend the first 5 ingredients until they stick together. Roll into small balls (makes about 15) and place on a sheet of foil or a plate. Stick in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a microwave safe bowl or over low heat on the stove, heat the coconut oil and chocolate chips until melted. Dip macaroons into melted chocolate and stick back in the freezer. 

Plain.

What I love about these is that it doesn’t make a huge batch (you can always scale up the ingredients to make more though) and each little macaroon is around 30 calories…yes, even with the chocolate! So you can always have a few for a snack or just pop one after dinner for a mini dessert. They’re grain free and are packed with healthy fats, natural sugar and even a veggie…but they taste like a dessert!

 

This recipe was submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday #15

Have you ever had a macaroon? Do you like the pumpkin + chocolate combo?

WIAW: On and Off

Sorry about the lack of posting lately! But it’s back-to-school time and this year means moving into my own apartment and getting all settled into a new routine. But now I’m back and ready for another WIAW!

This week, I’ve just got a random assortment of what I’ve been eating and doing, on and off campus. Even though I’m finally living off campus this year, I’m spending more time on campus with all my classes, working at the campus TV station 2 nights a week and a possible new job.

Almond peanut cashew butter mixed with maple syrup and chocolate chips, protein cereal bowl (Nature’s Path sunrise vanilla and PB Puffins mixed with Plant Fusion vanilla pro powder, u/s almond milk and raisins).

Protein powder is a must on my busy days for getting protein in. Now I love mixing it in the bottom of my cereal with some almond milk and enjoying the extra flavor and texture boost.

Pretty flower on campus!

My sister and I headed to campus a few days early to hunt down my class locations (some were in buildings I’d never been to before!) and we saw this awesome flower on our walk. I obviously love how pink it is!

Quinoa pasta and vegan ravioli mixed with basil merlot pasta sauce, mini bell peppers, olives and nooooooooch!

I can’t get enough of the nooch lately, seriously. It might be a problem, but it’s a good problem 😉

A pool? A short walk away? Yes please!

Yes, there is a pool at my apartment. Have I gone in yet? No, but I did spend some time tanning by it with my sis over the weekend. Let’s just say it’s a prime tanning and hang out spot.

Hummus and fresh veggie salad on a pita.

My mom and I tried a new-to-us place just down the street from my apartment. It was super fast, super fresh and really yum. I didn’t eat the pita part of this pita, but the hummus and veggies were outta this world!

3 minute carrot cake protein oats.

This was so good, for a super quickie snack! I mixed thick rolled oats with Truvia, almond milk, chopped carrots, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla protein powder and ground flax and topped it with Nature’s Path sunrise vanilla cereal (so good, and gluten free!) and almond peanut cashew butter.

Car selfie FTW!

Can I just say I love having a car? Not only does it make things more convenient, I can also take awesome selfies in it. Alejandro, you’re the best!

My reward after my first day of classes: grande passion iced tea (unsweetened).

I was in desperate need of some Starbies love after my first day of classes. I hit the nearest one up right after my 4 pm class for one of my fave summer drinks and enjoyed it in the sunshine.

Easy breakfast: chocolate mint protein muffin topped with homemade almond butter cup, grapes.

I’ve definitely been getting my kitchen experimenting on, now that I actually have a kitchen! So far, I’ve made no bake peppermint patty bars, mint chocolate almond butter cups and mini buckwheat corn muffins. The bars and cups are the best though–I’ve been on a mint chocolate kick lately.

First dinner in my new place: vegan nachos! Made with Late July multigrain chips, pinto beans, spicy guac, peach mango salsa, kale sauteed in coconut oil and nooch.

I finally got over my fear of the white stuff and bought some coconut oil. I’ve heard so many good things about the health benefits of it and was sick of avoiding recipes because they included it. I accidentally got the refined kind, but next time I’ll know to get the extra virgin kind for coconutty flavor!

Have you used coconut oil? How do you use protein powder?