1 Bowl GF + V Pumpkin Cookies

pumpkin cookies

When I was younger, my mom used to bake up cookies every few weeks to feed the sweet tooth that my sister and I had.  As a kid, nothing was better than a glass of milk and a belly full of cookies.  YES.  I had no self-restraint and never stopped at just one.  Homemade cookies are best when fresh so I would eat 4-5 that first day…and the second day…and maybe just two or three after that…if there were still any cookies left.

pumpkin cookies

Sadly, traditional cookies have several cups of sugar, white flour, butter, plus additional sugary add-ins.  Yupp, I don’t know how young Melanie did it!  If I tried to recreate my old 4-5 cookies indulgence these days I would definitely end up with a stomach ache.  Nowadays, I don’t crave cookies in the same way.  Though, sometimes your girl gets a craving for healthified versions of old favorites.  Thus, I whipped up some cookies that I consider to be more nutritionally balanced.

pumpkin cookies

Ingredients breakdown:

We’ve got banana and pumpkin to soften up the cookies and a mere ½ cup of sugar to sweeten them up.  I am extremely cautious about my sugar intake and, ever since reading Woman Code, I try to avoid adding excess sugar unless absolutely necessary (sidenote: possible post on this in the upcoming future).  The fact is: cookies just don’t taste like cookies without some kind of sweetener.  These are just lightly sweetened with a mixture of brown and coconut sugar.  Of course, you could add an extra ¼ cup of sugar for sweeter cookies.  Feel free taste-test the batter 😉  Though, I think you’ll find there is something nice about the subtle level of sweetness in these.

Also, let’s not forget about fats.  I know there are some cookie recipes out there that might bake up with simply banana but I like incorporating healthy fats into my food.  Why, you ask?  Well, fat helps slow the absorption of sugar and keeps me satiated.  Not to mention, it helps make the cookies crisp up on the outside and stay fluffy on the inside.

In addition, you can include up to a cup worth of dried fruit, nuts, ALOHA brand chopped chocolate, or whatever you like.  I went with a small amount of chocolate and walnuts to add a bit more healthy fats and protein.  Speaking of protein, definitely try adding a scoop of your favorite protein powder, if you’d like.  Sometimes my family can taste the protein powder in baked goods so I went with an unflavored plant-based protein powder from The Natural Citizen.  That is totally optional, though.  The cookies will be just fine without!

pumpkin cookies

 

pumpkin cookies

Without further ado, here is the recipe for the pumpkin cookies:

 

GF + V Pumpkin Cookies
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Recipe type: Snacks, Dessert
Cuisine: Cookies
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup mashed banana (about ½ a banana)
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted warm coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of almonds, ground into meal/flour
  • 2 cups oat flour (blend from 2¼ cups whole rolled oats)
  • ½ cup whole rolled oats
  • 1 scoop plant-based protein powder, optional
  • ⅓ cup chopped chocolate
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, save some for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the banana and pumpkin puree. Then, stir in the sugars, baking soda, spices, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Use a food processor or blender to process the almonds to make a fine flour. Repeat for the oat flour.
  4. To the wet ingredients, add the processed almond and oat flour, along with the whole rolled oats.
  5. Next, fold in the chocolate chips and half of the walnuts. Use a large cookie scoop to drop dollops of the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. Place a few walnut crumbs on top of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes or until the tops have browned (don't under-bake). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute before moving to a wire rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes more. Bake the remaining cookie dough until all is finished.
  7. I know cookies are irresistible out of the oven but if you wait for them to cool, they will be much better. They won’t be as fall-apart delicate and their flavor will be more visible.
  8. When cookies are completely cool, they can be stored in an airtight container or frozen.
Notes
Evidently, if any of the ingredients are cold, that will make the coconut oil clump up. Small specks are okay but large clumps need to be dissolved. You can lightly warm the batter in a microwave safe bowl and proceed with the recipe.
I ground my almonds because I enjoy the fresher taste and don’t normally store almond flour at my house. You could probably use store-bought but I haven’t tested that myself.

Cookie recipe adapted from Love and Lemon’s Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip recipe.

As always, please let me know what you think if you give this recipe a try!  Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram.

 

Yogurt Pro Bowl & Unique Topping Suggestions!

yogurt pro bowl

Do you remember a year or two back when yogurt bowls were super trendy?  It seemed like yogurt was all the rage for breakfast and healthy snacking—especially once Greek yogurt hit the scene.  How, you might be thinking, can a food be trendy?  Well, sorry, folks, that is a question for someone else.  I don’t start the food trends I just utilize them.

In early 2016, I was on the biggest Greek yogurt kick and would start each day with a bowl.  I’d eat it with berries and granola, melon, or stone fruit—oh, yogurt could do no wrong!  Though, sometime during the summer, I had one too many bowls and got turned off.  Now, it has been months since I’ve consumed it but recently I found myself craving the creamy, refreshing, gut-healthy food.

First things first, I picked up individual serving containers of Silk’s blueberry soy yogurt and Kite Hill’s plain almond milk yogurt.  For the yogurt bowl shown above, I used the almond milk one but you can see me use blueberry coconut flavor in this Instagram post.  I think I like the coconut version the most out of the two but use whatever non-dairy or regular yogurt you like.

As I previously mentioned, yogurt with fruit is an easy pairing.  Nowadays, I want a little more out of my yogurt bowls so I like to add sweet potato, oatmeal, and nut butter to tackle all the food groups at once!  Side note: I like to give credit whree credit is due so, I first saw the idea from @olive.eeeats on Instagram.  It’s hearty, comforting, and a breakfast I can get behind.  It’s a total Yogurt Pro Bowl, if you will.  Also, if some of the items I included aren’t your thing, I’ve included suggestions at the end of this post on how to jazz up your yogurt bowl in an unconventional way.

For a well-rounded yogurt bowl, I like to include:

Whole grains

Vegetables

Berries or other fruit

Fats

Admittedly, my yogurt bowls turn out different each time so, while I’ve provided my recipe, this is just a guideline.  If you want more or less food, adjust as needed.  There’s no wrong way to measure or plate any of these foods so just eat according to what you’re craving and enjoy!

Yogurt Pro Bowl
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Vegan, Vegetarian
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 yogurt bowl
The yogurt pros (that's us!) prep their ingredients ahead of time. So, use your breakfast yogurt as a chance to toss in some roasted veggies, fruit of choice, and healthy fats. It will give your mind and body the fuel it needs to tackle the day!
Ingredients
  • Overnight oats: ⅓ cup oats, 2 tsp chia seeds, ½ cup water or milk, ½ tsp maca powder, ½ tsp cacao powder
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • Roasted sweet potato fries (from ½ small-med sized potato), sprinkled with cinnamon
  • ½ small-med sized banana
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter (I used Wild Friends Pumpkin Spice)
  • 2 tbsp granola, optional but recommended for texture (I used Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Probiotic)
  • A pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt, recommended to sprinkle on avocado (I used San Francisco Salt Company)
Instructions
  1. For the oats, combine all of the ingredients the night before. Alternatively, warm, stovetop oats could be substituted.
  2. For the yogurt bowl, first add the oatmeal to one half of the bowl and the yogurt to the other half.
  3. Then, I like to strategically lay out all of the toppings in different sections of the bowl but feel free to toss them all in together. Though, I should say, the sweet potato fries are best left on the sides of the bowl to utilize as yogurt dippers. 😉
  4. Lastly, sprinkle salt on avocado, drizzle nut butter, and add a few clumps of granola before taking a spoon and devouring!

 

yogurt pro bowl

In my opinion, what makes this elevated yogurt bowl different is that it doesn’t solely rely on fruit to make it awesome.  Plus, it doesn’t shy away from carbs or fat.  Normally yogurt is considered the low-calorie, dieter’s choice breakfast.  Which it can be but I’d like to prove yogurt can be fun so long as you know how to jazz it up! 🙂 Actually, as a matter of fact,…

There are many choices for yogurt bowl add-ins!

Whole grains: Stovetop oats or overnight oats, buckwheat, quinoa cooked in coconut milk, warm barley, or simply use a homemade whole grain muffin—YES!

Vegetables:  Roasted or sautéed carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts if you’re feeling adventurous!

Spice it up: Cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, rosemary, paprika, or sweeten with maple syrup or raw/coconut sugar.

Fruit: As you probably know, ANY fresh, frozen, or sautéed fruit you like will work!

Fats: 1-2 tbsp peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter; toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds, cinnamon-maple glazed pecans, ¼ of an avocado, or coconut flakes will do.

Bonus: Granola, hemp seeds, adaptogens, flax or chia seeds.

Here are some pairing ideas I cannot wait to try:

Roasted carrots with blackberries, quinoa, and sunflower seed butter; crispy roasted Brussels, with cinnamon maple-glazed pecans, blueberries, and barley; also, sautéed turmeric butternut squash with coconut oil sautéed apples, and toasted walnuts.

Of course, those are just a few ideas.  Mix and match according to your taste buds!  Also, please let me know how you enjoy yogurt or if you’ve got any wild yogurt pairings.  I’d love to try out something new!

Watermelon Spinach Salad

watermelon spinach salad

Happy hump day, folks!  Who else is planning their summer menu?  I’ve got the perfect recipe for barbecues, family potlucks, and all of the upcoming summer festivities!  Picnic or potluck style food used to be my jam.  I loved eating potato salad, cold pasta salad, deviled eggs—basically anything with mayonnaise. 😋 Though, why have mayo when you can have fresh, colorful food?!  The Watermelon Spinach Salad I’ve whipped up will be the game-changing healthy side dish or main to jazz up summertime meal spreads!

watermelon spinach salad

Occasionally, salads make an appearance at the average summer get-together but a big pile of green leaves does not usually appeal to people.  Add in a little texture and color and bam!  Suddenly the dish takes on a whole new kind of appetizing.  Watermelon is abundant and affordable during summer months so make sure you use a fresh and firm one for this salad.  Grainy or barely-sweet watermelon is not something we want in this salad.

Refreshing watermelon, briny green olives, and the texture of the quinoa and sliced almonds make this salad so satisfying!

It works great as a side dish but it’s also easy to turn into a meal.  Just add protein of choice like chickpeas (or lemon pepper tuna, if you’re like my mom) and then it’s a complete meal!  To coat the salad, I used an adaptation of a lemon dressing from Cookie and Kate that I’ve been head over heels for.  It’s seriously the best for drizzling on ANYTHING!  It is a subtle complement to make this salad come alive.  I know I’ll be making this again and again throughout the summer!

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

Have a great rest of your week!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my new posts.  Subscribe via the right-hand side panel or at the bottom of this page. 😉

watermelon spinach salad

Watermelon Spinach Salad
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Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
I've created a fun salad to take to all of the upcoming summer festivities! It's perfect for barbecues to potlucks, or simply enjoy at home with a glass of lemonade. Recipe makes 2 main salads or 3 side servings but can easily be multiplied.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder (Kate uses 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 5 cups packed spinach
  • 1 heaping cup cooked white quinoa
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 4 large green olives from a jar (I used garlic-stuffed, marinated olives)
  • For serving: 3 cups cubed watermelon, 3 tbsp sliced almonds, and, optional, protein of choice—I went with ½ cup garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. First, combine ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. Everything from the olive oil through the black pepper.
  2. Then, add the spinach to the bowl and lightly massage or toss to thoroughly coat with the dressing.
  3. Incorporate the cooked quinoa, radishes, and green olives.
  4. To serve, add the watermelon and sliced almonds. Plus, optional protein, if eating the salad as a main dish.
Notes
Salad is best eaten right away but can last up to a day if made ahead of time. If saving for later, store the watermelon separately so it doesn't water down the salad and combine when ready to serve.

 

Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake—Mexican Hot Chocolate Inspired

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

Oftentimes I go to bed dreaming of what I’m going to eat the next morning for breakfast.  The flavors of peanut butter and cinnamon on toast, berry-filled smoothies, or zucchini oats occupy my mind.  It might be a problem how much I think about food but if it’s wrong then I don’t want to be right!  Especially when it comes to breakfast—the best meal of the day!

Sweet breakfasts are my usual but chocolate, surprisingly, does not make a daily appearance in my breakfast or snacks.  Simply because it is one of those flavors that you crave the more you eat it, or, conversely, crave less if you don’t eat it.  I remember the days of being a chocoholic and it wasn’t pretty.  Now, I can go weeks without tasting chocolate in any form, and I’m quite fine, but once I taste some chocolate muffins or homemade chocolate peanut butter cups I find I’m craving it daily!  Not that I’m complaining.  Thankfully, my chocolate interests are much tamer these days and I channel my sweet tooth in what I’d say is a nutritious manner.

Exhibit A: Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake.

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

Truly, this combination came about when I accidentally threw cinnamon into my chocolate smoothie.  I spice up my breakfasts with cinnamon—AKA the wonder spice!—almost every day.  It adds a warm, comforting feel but also enhances the sweetness in foods.  Though, cinnamon with cherries, frozen cauliflower, spinach, and chocolate protein powder isn’t a pairing I was prepared to make.  Fortunately for me, cinnamon can do no wrong.

The smoothie turned out to be reminiscent of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  If you wanted to tap into that flavor profile a bit more, then a dash (or approximately 1/8 tsp) of chili powder would add some heat.  Though, the cinnamon is enough—especially if you want to keep your smoothie strictly sweet 😉

Let me know if you give this a try!

chocolate cinnamon breakfast shake

UPDATE:

I’ve updated the recipe below to include an option for how to achieve the same Mexican Hot Chocolate flavor if using a protein powder other than ALOHATone it Up chocolate plant-based protein or Nuzest chocolate protein would both work.

Chocolate Cinnamon Breakfast Shake
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Recipe type: Breakfast, Smoothie
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Cinnamon accompanies cherries, cauliflower, spinach, and chocolate protein powder to create a flavorful smoothie reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.
Ingredients
  • 1½ c cauliflower, frozen
  • ¾ cup frozen spinach
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • A serving of chocolate plant-based protein powder (I used ALOHA)
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp almond butter
  • ⅛ tsp chili powder (optional, but recommended for Mexican chocolate flavor)
  • 1½ tbsp cacao powder*
  • ½ tsp sugar in the raw or coconut sugar*
  • a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt*
  • ¾ cup coconut water + ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or plain water + almond milk)
Instructions
  1. Blend up the coconut water and spinach so no spinach bits remain. Then, add in the chocolate protein powder, cauliflower, and cherries. Blend, pushing down on the sides of the blender with a spoon to help the mixture along.
  2. When mostly combined, add in the cinnamon, chili powder, almond butter, and almond milk. If using a protein powder other than ALOHA, add cacao powder, raw sugar, and sea salt.
  3. It will be a very thick mixture, but that's how I like my breakfast shakes. Add in a bit more almond milk or water, if desired.
Notes
I like to blend up the ingredients in steps to make it easier on my blender. If you have a strong blender, feel free to toss all of the ingredients in at once.

*The original recipe was tested with ALOHA chocolate plant-based protein powder. It has a stronger chocolate flavor and slightly sweeter taste. You can use another chocolate protein powder, like Tone it Up plant-based powder, but, to compensate for flavor differences, add the starred ingredients: cacao powder, raw sugar, and sea salt. They're all necessary to bring out the hot chocolate flavors!

 

Zucchini Stovetop Oatmeal

ucchini Stovetop Oatmeal

Have I sunk to a new low?  Am I really writing a post about how to cook oatmeal?  In all fairness, a year or two back, I was still only making overnight oats because I had no idea how to cook hot oatmeal, and much less with zucchini.  When I was growing up, my mom used to cook oatmeal in a way that involved way too much water so the oatmeal would boil and be left swimming in murky liquid.  It was often super mushy, too.  Like, when people associate oatmeal with being old people’s food, that is because they have suffered through bland, mushy oatmeal.  I was one of those people but I’ve come out on the other side with a revived interest in stovetop oatmeal.

zucchini stovetop oatmeal

No offense to my mama’s wonderful cooking, she just never measured.  Dishes don’t necessarily come out well or consistent if you don’t measure.  That is why I looked to Rachael’s Good Eats when I wanted to cook up some real good oatmeal.  Not just any oatmeal though—oatmeal with vegetables!  You’ve seen me throw zucchini into smoothies here and here but oatmeal may be my favorite way to use zucchini.

zucchini stovetop oatmeal

I’ve been taste-testing bowls of oatmeal over the past few months and I have finally found a method I like.  Rachael’s recipe calls for a little bit less oats and a scoop of protein powder.  That works as long as the protein powder you’re using tastes good.  Though, personally, I’d rather not add protein powder because it can overpower the flavor of oatmeal.  I use flax and chia seeds to bulk up the oatmeal and give it creaminess without mushiness.  Then comes the zucchini: an undetectable but healthful addition.  You could totally leave it out and the oatmeal would still be awesome but I promise it’s so worthwhile to try it with zucchini!  It makes me look forward to eating oatmeal! 🙂

zucchini stovetop oatmeal with toppings

As always, let me know if you give this a try by dropping a comment down below or hit me up on Instagram!

Zucchini Stovetop Oatmeal
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Oatmeal
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
This quick-to-make oatmeal is anything but mushy. The rolled oats are flaky and the seeds add a creaminess. The contrasting textures perfectly compliment each other. Plus, there is a sneaky serving of veggies!
Ingredients
  • I/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseeds
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup shredded zucchini
  • ¼ cup almond milk, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a small pot, heat half a cup of water on the stove. Once boiling, add in the rolled oats and cook for 1 minute on high, then, reduce heat to med.
  2. After the oats have started to absorb some water, sprinkle in the chia, flax, and cinnamon and stir, stir, stir! It is important to incorporate the seeds well so that they don’t clump. They will begin to gel and make the oatmeal creamy without compromising the texture of the rolled oats.
  3. Once incorporated, stir in the zucchini and cook for about 2 more minutes on medium before taking the pot off the heat. It may look like a measly amount of oatmeal but here’s where the magic happens: put the oatmeal into a bowl and pour the almond milk over it, stirring to incorporate. The hot oatmeal soaks up the milk and fluffs up nicely.
  4. Add addition milk if desired and your choice of toppings.
Notes
I topped my oatmeal with ½ cup strawberries, 1 tbsp Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter, 2 tbsp granola, and ½ tbsp flaked coconut.