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.

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WIAW: What I (Want to) Eat on Thanksgiving

Can you believe we’re just over a week away from T-day? Me neither! Does it surprise you that I really like Thanksgiving–even as a vegan? For me, it’s not really about the food (the desserts, though…) but the fact that I get a week-long break away from school, just when I need one. I am really stressin’ right now but luckily this year, I get an extra day off because my class on Friday was cancelled. Definitely thankful for that!

Even though I’m not a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, I still have some things I would like to make and eat on the big day. Some of the flavors that scream ‘Thanksgiving’ for me include maple, pumpkin, cranberry and pecan so hopefully I can include all of those in this year’s meal.

Maple roasted veggies. Photo from La Vida Vegga.

Roasted veggies are the best–why not make them even better with a hint of real maple syrup? I think these would be great as leftovers too!

Maple pecan pie bars. Photo courtesy of Natural Noshing.

Can you believe these are vegan, gluten-free and grain free? Me either, but I really want to give them a whirl to see if they turn out as delicious as they look. I actually really love trying out recipes that are vegan and grain free, which is kinda hard to find since most grain free recipes include eggs, but this one thankfully doesn’t!

Cranberry kale salad. Photo courtesy of Kraft (recipe from Whole Foods).

You all know how much I love kale (it’s my favorite veggie, other than sweet potatoes) so combining it in a salad with fresh cranberries and miso paste sounds perfect for Thanksgiving.

Vegan caramel apple. Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

Caramel apples seem so complicated and way too sugary…but not this one! The recipe seems so easy to follow, and the caramel sauce itself is made with coconut sugar (lower glycemic!) and coconut milk so it’s much healthier.

Spiced grilled sweet potatoes. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods.

Sweet potatoes are great, but even better when they’re grilled and made spicy!

Pumpkin s’mores pudding. Photo courtesy of Healthy Food for Living.

How amazeballs does this look? It’ll be the perfect way to use up some of the Ricemellow creme I just bought–huge container, thought it was a little too sweet but it would be great on top of this!

Pecan pie waffle. Photo courtesy of Three and a Half Vegans.

You know my obsession with waffles–these take that to a whole new level! I think I know what I’ll be having for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning…

Do you prefer pumpkin, apple, sweet potato or pecan pie? What’s your favorite fall flavor? 

Raw Foodism 101

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, particularly my recipe posts, you’ll know that I’ve recently discovered a love for raw ‘cooking’ and foods. I currently only have 8 raw recipes in my repertoire but I’m constantly thinking up new desserts I can ‘raw-ify’. I know a lot of people out there don’t know a lot about what raw foodism is, so I thought I’d give you a little rundown of what it means to me and how to start incorporating raw foods into your diet. Note: I am NOT a strict raw foodist, or an expert on this topic. These are just my opinions and what I’ve read from other blogs about raw foodism.

In a (raw) nutshell, raw foodism is eating foods that have not been cooked above a temperature around 115-118 degrees. The main type of raw foodism is raw veganism (as many vegan foods are safe for consumption without being cooked), but some raw foodists are vegetarians or omnivores. Raw foods are preferred over cooked because cooking can destroy the healthful enzymes found in the raw form.

Raw vegans eat fruits, vegetables, soaked nuts & seeds and sprouted grains & legumes. The strictest raw vegans follow a diet known as 80/10/10, which is 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat, and eat just raw fruits and veggies.

Raw ‘cooking’ is a bit more complicated than just eating straight-up raw or soaked foods. You need a lot of kitchen appliances, like a food processor, blender, juicer and dehydrator. Raw foodists can still eat crackers and cookies–by using these appliances, they can make healthier, more nutrient-dense versions of these popular items while still staying raw. Dehydrators technically heat foods, but only to 115-118 degrees.

Raw ‘cooking’ involves different ingredients than regular cooking. I haven’t done as much experimenting with savory raw dishes, but I can tell you some of the staples needed to make raw desserts.

  • raw, soaked nuts and seeds (especially cashews)
  • raw cacao powder
  • agave nectar, raw honey (not vegan)
  • dates, other dried fruit
  • fresh fruit
  • chia and flaxseed
  • maca/mesquite/lucuma powder
  • cacao nibs
  • soaked buckwheat

If you’ve ever wanted to try preparing raw meals for yourself, but are worried about how complicated it might be, never fear! There are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive raw recipes out there for you to try out. Here are some that I’ve made in the past or planning to make soon…oh, and don’t mind my lame attempt at raw humor 😉

Rawcos (raw tacos)

Photo courtesy of My New Roots.

Tirawmisu

Photo courtesy of A Raw Story.

Cheezy Sundried Tomato Kale Chips (dehydrator recipe)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Key Lime Cheezcake 

My own photo & recipe.

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of Choosing Raw.

Rawco Salad (raw taco salad)

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Raw Mini Pecan Pie

My own photo & recipe.

So now you have no excuse not to try out raw foods for yourself!

What’s your favorite thing to eat raw? Have you ever made a raw meal or snack?

WIAW: A Day of Raw Challenge

Hey ladies, how is February treating you so far? I’m just glad we’re that much closer to March–I can’t wait to bust out the dresses and flip-flops again!

Peas and Crayons

 

As I promised in last week’s WIAW, I have a special edition of the weekly foodie party for you this week. As you might know, I’ve recently become interested in raw foodism. Let me just clarify that I am not considering eating 100% raw–I like the principles behind it and its health benefits, but I feel good right now with my current ‘almost vegan’ lifestyle and I feel like at this point in my ED recovery, I shouldn’t be excluding all cooked foods, because they are nutritious (not to mention delicious)! However, I do like making raw treats from time to time and I also love things like raw fruits and veggies (I actually prefer my veggies raw!) and nuts so I thought I’d try eating totally raw for one day and share my experience on here for a WIAW post. So here goes!

Breakfast: raw carrot cake bite topped with raw walnut butter, red grapes, dried mango slice.

Normally, I love my oat-filled breakfasts, usually with a side of veggie bacon or veggie sausage, or sometimes just a bowl of plain Greek yogurt and fruit, but this was a good way of switching things up. However, this meal didn’t have quite enough staying power (aka protein), so it’s not an ideal breakfast but still tasty.

Lunch: chocolate brownie Pure bar, baby carrots, freeze-dried mixed fruit.

However, I did get a little more protein at lunch with the delicious Pure bar! I love Pure bars, because they are basically bigger Larabars with a little bit fewer calories and more protein (7 grams in this flavor). I almost can’t believe they’re raw, they’re so good! The chocolate brownie is my favorite flavor, hands-down, plus I really needed my chocolate fix for the day since I couldn’t have my usual daily dose of  a handful of dark chocolate chips. I think I should invest in cacao nibs because they’re raw–I’ve heard they take some getting used to, though. The carrots and dried fruit were good for crunch and overall, this was a pretty balanced meal.

Post-lunch dessert: Medjool date stuffed with raw pecan halves.

I also had some unpictured frozen pineapple chunks during my weather and climate lab. The date and nut combo is amazing, it tastes exactly like a turtle sundae. Well, without the ice cream, of course, but it’s a good raw substitute.

Afternoon snack: Pink Lady apple, handful raw pecan pieces.

Having just fruit and nuts for a snack isn’t something I usually do, but it was actually really tasty. I drizzled the pecans with a little raw honey and they were even tastier. I think pecans are my new favorite nut–sorry, almonds.

Dinner: sprouted quinoa bowl with raisins, shredded carrots and raw walnut butter, blood orange.

Sorry about the awful photo quality–I eat dinner around 7 pm so it’s pretty dark, aka no natural lighting so I just wing it. Instagramming the photos usually helps somewhat though! Anyway, this was my first time trying sprouted quinoa and I gotta say, it was a little weird at first, since I’m used to fluffy cooked quinoa but the crunchiness was interesting. I mixed it up with some raw walnut butter, carrots and raisins, making a carrot cake sprouted quinoa bowl of sorts, and I had some water and a blood orange on the side. The quinoa was pretty bland, but I’d like to try using sprouted quinoa in some kind of salad with a good dressing.

Dessert: frozen banana slices drizzled with raw honey.

No day would be complete without a nighttime snack! Of course, I love the combo of frozen bananas and raw honey, so I definitely enjoyed this dessert. Sweet, simple and cold. It was worth shivering the rest of the night–yes, I eat frozen stuff in the middle of winter!

Overall–I had plenty of energy to get through the day, and it made me feel refreshed and ‘clean’. However, there were definitely some foods I missed (namely peanut flour, sweet potatoes and oats), so obviously this raw food thing is not going to become a daily occurrence. I think cooked foods have a place in a healthy diet, and I don’t want to deprive myself of foods I love just to be completely raw. I do like that the challenge helped me get out of food ruts and try out some new combos, and it also challenged me to overcome my fear of fats (most raw foodism is based on using nuts, which have lots of healthy fats). I didn’t like that I wasn’t able to get as much protein as I usually can, and I don’t even normally eat a ton of protein, usually between 35-50 grams per day, and on my raw day, I only got 18 grams. Yeah, not so good but it was just one day so I’m not sweating it. So basically, there are some aspects I liked about the challenge and others weren’t my favorites but I feel good about mixing it up and trying something new. I would consider doing another ‘day of raw’ challenge in the future if I had more options, since being in a dorm I was mostly limited to fruits and nuts. In the future, I’m going to stick with my usual mix of raw and cooked foods, and also try out new raw food recipes occasionally.

Would you eat raw for a whole day? What’s your favorite nut?

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Apparently I’m on a roll with these cheesy Christmas song titles 😉 What can I say, I’m in love with Christmas music and I’m so sad that most radio stations (besides Sirius XM) have stopped playing the stuff.

Anyways, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a wonderful weekend. It was really nice just getting a couple of days to relax, have fun and not feeling the need to be ‘plugged in’. I love getting a break from technology every once in awhile, and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But now I think it’s about time for a recap of the past few days, so here we go!

Friday

My mom and I headed out for last-minute gift shopping. Because we got a lot of snow on Thursday, we weren’t able to get out and get presents earlier, so unfortunately we had to face the crowds. But I was able to get some of my favorite things at Whole Foods, a game for my dad at Barnes and Noble and a cute necklace for my sister at American Eagle. I also bought myself my first-ever pair of jeggings at AE and surprisingly, I love them. I have a lot of issues with my body image, my legs and arms in particular, so I usually stick with looser fitting, boy fit type jeans. But I really needed some jeans that can fit in my new boots without looking baggy, so the jeggings fit the bill perfectly. They’re actually a lot more comfortable than I thought they would be, and not too tight at all. I think I might start actually buying jeggings and skinny jeans on a more regular basis, which is a total body image win!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Saturday

Christmas Eve! I love this day so much, maybe even more so than Christmas Day, because of the anticipation. The morning and early afternoon were pretty chill, and then we all got ready to go to church. I got to debut my new booties which was awesome! I also really loved the Christmas Eve church service. The end part is definitely the best, because the lights are turned off and everyone lights their candles and sings Silent Night. It’s just so beautiful and reminds me what the real reason for the season is. Afterwards, we drove around and checked out a few light displays and then went home to start on dinner. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable around this time because dinner was going to be at least an hour later than I feel comfortable with. I hate eating so late because I’m afraid of weight gain, which is so stupid. Our bodies don’t know what time we’re eating, but it’s just a fear I cling to. But once I dug into the dinner I made, I didn’t feel so guilty. I made some vegan butternut squash ravioli, with peanut flour sauce and roasted asparagus spears on the side. It was an amazing Christmas Eve dinner, and I loved enjoying it with my family surrounded by candlelight. After dinner, we watched some of A Christmas Story on TV (best Christmas movie EVER!) and then went to bed…but not before my dad read me a few Christmas stories. It’s one of our traditions, and I always love hearing these classic stories year after year.

Check out my fierce booties!

The best Christmas Eve dinner I could ask for!

Sunday

The big day, of course! I woke up bright and early around 8 ‘o clock and made myself a delicious breakfast of peanutty raspberry chocolate oats and then my sister and I opened our stockings. We always open those in our pajamas, and then get ready for the day and then open presents together as a family. We always go around and open one at a time, so everybody can see what everyone else got and so the present-opening doesn’t go by way too quickly. I got a lot of amazing gifts, which I’m incredibly thankful for. A few highlights include metallic faux-snakeskin Bearpaw boots, a vegan dessert cookbook, a faux leather jacket, some gift cards to my favorite stores and dark chocolate covered espresso beans–a definite fear food of mine, but so so good that I’m not gonna let them go to waste, I’m just going to have a couple a day and enjoy them without any guilt 😀

Presents!

 

I love the dark chocolate+coffee combo!

The cute little countdown to Christmas app I have--I couldn't wait til it said 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes and 0 seconds!

Mi madre opening one of her gifts.

Bahaha I love how excited my sister is!

 

My dad is obviously in love with his new space heater.

 

After the present-opening, we continued to watch the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon while munching on snacks. But the best part of the day was getting to go sledding in our yard! We got probably about half a foot of snow, so the sledding was great. We live on a 5 acre property with tons of pine trees and some hills in the back part of the property, so it’s always fun to get a chance to go sledding. It was our first white Christmas in awhile, and probably one of the only times we got to sled on Christmas Day. My sister, who usually hates sledding, actually went with my dad and I and we had the best time! It was a great workout climbing back up the hill in all that snow, of course, but I was just thinking about how fun it was. I absolutely hate feeling like I’m forcing exercise (which I still unfortunately tend to do) so working out in a fun way is definitely preferred. Sledding definitely did not feel like a workout, but it was nice to be active and get fresh air while still having fun and being with my family.

I ❤ sledding!

 

My dad loves sledding too!

Dinner was an awesome pasta dish that my mom made up. It’s so simple but just really tasty. It’s basically just bell peppers and pasta sauteed with this chili lime seasoning from Williams Sonoma and then she adds in some kind of protein. My version was with whole wheat pasta and shrimp and it was sooooo amazing! I hate traditional Christmas-type dinners (because I’m mostly vegetarian/vegan besides the occasional seafood and because it’s so boring) so this was a really nice change. After dinner, we played two new board games that we got (my family loves board games!) while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Best way to end Christmas, in my opinion. Oh, but I can’t forget about dessert, of course! I enjoyed one of the raw pecan tartlets that I made–they were soooooo good! I’m not gonna lie that I didn’t feel guilty about eating it, because they’re fairly small but “high” in calories (not really, maybe around 120 per tartlet) but because they have such simple ingredients (basically just dates and nuts!) I didn’t feel too bad and they turned out delicious.

Raw Mini Pecan Pies (vegan, raw)

15 Medjool dates

2/3 cup raw nuts (I used a mix of almonds and pecans)

1 T raw nut butter (I used walnut)

sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt

Soak 12 of the dates for at least four hours and cover. Drain dates and add to food processor with nut butter and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in soaking water if necessary to thin out. Set aside. Pulse nuts and remaining 3 dates until a fine crumb is form. Pack nut mixture into muffin liners (makes about 5) and freeze for an hour. Remove and pour in date mixture and freeze again for at least another hour. Top with chopped or whole pecans and serve straight from the freezer. 

Cute little desserts are the best!

Monday

I watched Holiday Inn with my dad in the morning (a really cool Christmas/holidayish movie from the 1940s with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire), enjoyed a delicious sweet potato topped with peanut flour for lunch and then ran a few errands with my dad and sister. It was kinda crazy out there to be honest, since apparently a lot of people like to return stuff and go shopping the day after Christmas, but we made it out alive 😉 Then for the best part, we went to Starbucks! I had to get my skinny soy peppermint mocha fix, of course! It was nice enough that we were able to sit outside, and I also bought myself a cute holiday cold cup for $5! Before Christmas, it was twice that much so maybe the post-Christmas bargains aren’t so bad after all!

My Christmas Eve 'dessert': peanut flour sauce, freeze-dried apples and vegan chocolate chips.

Well, today we’re planning on going up into the mountains for more sledding and I can’t wait! I’ll be back later in the week for more updates!

What was the most fun thing you did on Christmas? What is your favorite winter ‘sport’?

Oh We Need a Little Christmas [Inspiration]

OMG! Can you believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow and then it’s Christmas? And in a little over a week, we’ll all be embarking on a brand new year! How crazy is that? 

I have definitely been getting into the Christmas spirit lately, between watching classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and SNL’s “A Very Gilly Christmas” TV special (okay, not so much a classic but I adore SNL!) and stocking up on groceries for the big day. But there’s also a big part of me that almost can’t believe it’s so close to Christmas already. That’s where my little inspiration board comes in!

Okay, so a few of the things don’t seem so Christmas-y, but trust me, they are! I really want a pair of booties for Christmas (like in the lower right hand picture), and that cheetah scarf would make a nice stocking stuffer. Oh, and those bejeweled nails would just be great to have any time 😉

I don’t want to leave you with a post that’s completely food-less so I’ll share some of what I’m planning on eating in the next couple of days!

Vegan butternut squash ravioli? Ummmm yes!

I discovered vegan ravioli over the summer and it was goooooood! I decided to try this brand this time around and the butternut squash kind sounds like it’ll turn out delicious. This is going to be my Christmas Eve dinner, topped with some kind of curry sauce that I’m planning on making myself. Hopefully my peanut flour will arrive before then so I can use that!

Don't these just look adorable?

Continuing on my raw dessert kick, I’m planning on making these raw pecan pie tartlets for Christmas Eve or Day dessert. They’ve only got 5 ingredients, are completely raw and healthier for you than traditional pie. Plus who wouldn’t want a cute little “pie” of their own?

What’s putting you in the holiday spirit? Are you planning on making any desserts (share your recipes!)?

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Hi lovelies, how were all your weekends? I am beyond excited that it’s less than a week til Christmas, but I’ll save that excitement for later!

After having read a lot about NaNeFoMo (or National New Food Month) around the bloggy world, I decided to finally join in! Yes, I know it’s kinda late, but I have already made some progress and created a “bucket list” of things I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Photobucket

1. Peanut flour. I finally sucked it up and ordered some online a couple of weeks back. This has changed my life, for real! I’ve had it practically on a daily basis since it first arrived in the mail (which is why I just had to order more!) and I’m definitely not sick of it yet. It makes an amazing paste, peanut sauce for stir-frys and salads, as flavoring for Greek yogurt and as a source of protein in smoothies. I even used it in place of flour in my festive garland bars. Definitely a new staple in my pantry!

The perfect topper for banana softserve and Puffins!

2. Chocolate chips. These were (and still are) a fear food of mine, so I thought they’d be perfect to include in my list. I bought some vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods, used them in a few recipes and now I love them! Yes, they’re still scary, so I only eat maybe a teaspoon or so per day, but I don’t want to deprive myself of dark chocolate ever again!

Chocolate chips make an appearance in nutty cherry chocolate chunk cookies...recipe to come!

3. Making my own nut butter. Being home alone a week ago gave me the perfect opportunity to whip up a batch of homemade nut butter. But what kind to make? I had a bag of chopped pecans, so I mixed those up with some instant coffee powder, a little maple syrup and coffee maple pecan butter was born. You’re welcome 😉

Simple combination, but oh so tasty!

4. Vegan marshmallows. Erm, well, not quite yet! I haven’t been able to find any in stores near me, so I decided to settle for some pescetarian marshmallows. Ummmm, say what? Yeah, marshmallows have gelatin in them, which is made from animals, but I was able to find some kosher ones, which means the gelatin is made from fish. Since I am basically a pescetarian right now, these are fine by me til I can find some truly vegan marshmallows.

5. Kombucha. This one is very scary to me. Not a fear food, in the eating disorder sense, but scary because A) they’re expensive and B) what if they taste horrible? I’ve still yet to take the plunge on this, but I’m hoping maybe I’ll get to sample it at Whole Foods or something and see if it’s worth the price.

6. More raw/vegan desserts. Every one I’ve attempted so far has turned out amazingly well (even if I am the only one who ends up eating them…oh well, more for me!) and I’d love to do more experimenting in the kitchen over the next month. Raw desserts can be kinda “scary” since they include lots of calorically-dense foods such as dates and nuts, but they taste so good and are so healthy for you compared to regular desserts. A few things I have in the works include raw salted caramel sauce, vegan peppermint bark and another variation on my raw brownies with chocolate peppermint avocado “buttercream” frosting. This month sure is looking delicious 8)

One of my favorite desserts ever--raw brownie pie with frozen raspberries and nonfat coffee froyo.

So that’s my bucket list so far–three things down, three to go! I’m proud of myself for conquering one fear food so far and I’m looking forward to trying out new things, especially the recipes. While I like to make “tried and true” type things, it’s always rewarding making something brand new and having it turn out amazing. And if it doesn’t, it’s not a huge deal!

Are you participating in NaNeFoMo? Have you ever made a raw dessert?