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!

Simple Coffee Protein Smoothie

I’d like to say that my love for smoothies knows no season but I found myself slipping away from them during the wintertime.  I felt cravings for fresh fruit and creamy flavors but opted for breakfasts of oatmeal most days, instead.  If the weather seemed mild, I’d make a cup of hot tea and drink my smoothie underneath a blanket on my couch.  The hot and cold drinks allowed me to sip on my beloved smoothie without turning my insides into ice cubes.

Now that the worst of the cold days are behind us, I am sharing one of my favorite smoothies that I was sipping in the winter and into spring.  It is also the perfect pick-me-up any time of year.  Coffee is special like that 🙂

Simple Coffee Protein Smoothie

I usually opt to drink decaf most of the time because the caffeine from coffee is almost impossible for me to tolerate.  Call me a wimp but I just feel jittery and unstable after a mere half cup.  You can totally use regular coffee but make sure it is cooled first because, otherwise, it might melt the ice cubes and reduce the frostiness of the smoothie.  Oh, and do not pass up on the ice cubes! They really make all the difference in this frosty smoothie.

Notice the keyword: frosty.  I can’t stand thin, watery smoothies.  Super thick and creamy is how I like ‘em usually.  The exception is this smoothie.  It isn’t quite as thick or richly creamy, but it is frosty! It is a very refreshing choice and way healthier than a frappuccino, just saying.

As always, leave me a comment if you try it out.  I’d like to know what smoothies you’re drinking on these spring days.

Simple Coffee Protein Smoothie

Simple Coffee Protein Smoothie
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Recipe type: Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian, Vegan
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 smoothie
Adapted from a Tone it Up recipe, this Coffee Smoothie is easy to make and full of frosty deliciousness!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of decaf/coffee ice cubes, about 5 cubes*
  • ½ large banana, frozen
  • ½ cup of decaf or regular coffee, cooled
  • ½ cup of cashew milk**
  • 2 scoops of Chocolate Protein Powder***
Instructions
  1. If you have a strong blender, then toss all of the ingredients in and blend away!
  2. If not, I’d recommend blitzing the ice cubes with the coffee and banana first. Then, add in the cashew milk and protein powder. Once it looks like it is all combined and starting to get a little frothy, you are done. Drink up!
Notes
Prep time does not include freezing the ice cubes or brewing coffee
*Simply, pour brewed coffee into an ice cube try and let freeze overnight.
**Can sub other milk but I like the creaminess of cashew milk
***I used Nuzest USA’s plant-based Chocolate Protein Powder. Not all protein powders get frothy when blended. For example, I don’t recommend ALOHA in this smoothie. You can sub other plant-based powders like Perfect Fit but there may be slight variations in thickness.

Zucchini Smoothie Bowl

Zucchini Smoothie Bowl

When I was younger, I was not a fan of vegetables.  Like, at all.  Occasionally I would eat salad out of necessity to add color to my plate.  Though, I was definitely disappointed to learn that my favorite tomatoes and potatoes were not really even actual vegetables!

I’ve come a long way since then.

Heck, I’m all about the plant-based lifestyle these days.

Zucchini Smoothie Bowl

I am a big fan of fruit and always have been.  Though, I know I can go a little overboard on it sometimes so I’m making efforts to incorporate more vegetables into my meals.  Lunch and dinner are easier but breakfast is not usually the place this sweets-lover thinks of eating a vegetable.

A handful of greens can usually sneak by in a smoothie but there’s no disguising the taste.  Zucchini, on the other hand, is basically water.  When frozen, the zucchini adds some frosty thickness to any smoothie or, my fave, a smoothie bowl.

It’s the perfect bowl for getting in some vegetables and keeping sugar intake low.

Many times smoothie bowls can pack a sugar punch but not this one.  You may want to opt for some sweet toppings or peanut butter 😜 because the bowl itself isn’t very sweet.  Let me know what you think if you try it out!

Zucchini Smoothie Bowl

Zucchini Smoothie Bowl
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 smoothie bowl
A great smoothie bowl for getting in some veggies, greens, berries, and fruit all in one. Yet, it is lower in sugar than traditional fruit-only smoothies. Many times smoothie bowls can pack a sugar punch but not this one. Opt for a few sweet toppings on top, instead.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup water, beet juice, or milk of choice
  • 1 small handful of baby kale (1/2 cup)
  • 1 serving of protein powder (I used Nativas Naturals Vanilla)
  • ½ medium frozen zucchini (chopped into 3-4 pieces to make it easier on your blender)
  • 1 medium frozen banana, ripe is best
  • ¼-1/3 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • Topping ideas: kiwi, granola, ground flax, or peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Add the liquid (I used beet juice) and kale to the blender first. Blitz until the leaves are broken down.
  2. Then, add in the protein powder, slices of zucchini, banana, and blackberries. Blend thoroughly. (My blender isn't the strongest but it was able to process the ingredients without added liquid. Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of water if your blender needs some help.)
  3. Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top with some of your favorite goods and eat!
Notes
Prep time does not include freezing time for the banana or zucchini

Quinoa Taco “Meat” Recipe

Salad with Quinoa Meat

When I was in high school, the cafeteria used to serve junk like pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, or hot dogs.  I like a slice of pizza once in a while but what I love is food that makes me feel good.  There was a limited supply of salads because the school must’ve thought no one would want to eat salads.  On the contrary, everyone would make a beeline for them right at the start of lunch (teachers included).  Every day there was a different lunchtime salad option.  Wednesdays used to be Taco Salad day.

My very favorite!

Salad with Quinoa Meat

You know the one.

It has a bed of lettuce, ground beef crumbles, tomatoes, black or pinto beans, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla chips, and salsa.  If you order something similar at restaurants, it will probably come with some guacamole, too.  It has all of the yummy taco flavors but is totally healthy because there’s some lettuce in there, am I right?  Well, today’s quinoa taco meat recipe is inspired by my old favorite salad but completely plant-based.

I use a taco seasoning recipe from My Blessed Life which I then add to cooked quinoa, warmed up in a pan.  It provides the Mexican taco flavors but also adds a bit of protein and texture to a salad.  My favorite salad is shown in the pictures.  I like using the quinoa meat with a romaine lettuce base, cilantro, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and a red salsa for topping.

It is so simple and find myself making this all too often!  Let me know if you give it a try.

Salad with Quinoa Meat  
Quinoa Taco "Meat" Recipe
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Cuisine: Vegetarina, Vegan
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 serving
An easy-to-make "meat" alternative to add some Mexican flair to any dish. It is the perfect base for beans, vegetables, or any other proteins you would like to add.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning (see notes)
Instructions
  1. There is not really a science to making the taco meat. I throw some quinoa into a pan and warm it up with the spices. Half a cup of quinoa to 1 tsp of homemade taco seasoning or store-bought should work, though adjust based on your taste for spice.
Notes
Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning via my Blessed Life
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
Simply, mix all seasoning ingredients together.

Seasoning recipe can be found at My Blessed Life.