Okay, I really couldn’t resist reposting this! I’m going to have to try the pumpkin rice pudding….YUM!


Here is a round-up of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes…my daughter began her day with the oatmeal.  Have a happy and safe Halloween!!!









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Recipe: Granola Bars

Today, I decided to catch up on some baking. The kids were happily eating lunch, so it was my quick 5 minute “window of opportunity.” (If your a mom of young kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

I had checked out from the library “Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon. I found several recipes in the book that were easy to whip up and were quite tasty. However, sadly, the book had to be returned after 3 weeks.

A few months later, Amazon came up with a suggestion for me to buy (isn’t that convenient for them?) “Everyday Happy Herbivore: On the table in 30 minutes or less!” by Lindsay Nixon. Well, Amazon won that day, and I purchased the book.

I’ve tried several things from her book so far. Tonight I’m making the Veggie Lo Mein. But by far, my most favorite thing from her book has been the granola bars. I cannot say enough of how EASY these were to put together, stay together, healthy, tasty, yummy, fast…..should I go on? I would really have to challenge these bars against Chewy brand on taste. (They are similar in texture and taste to the brand.)

Today, I made three different flavors in about 15 minutes (plus, baking time). I’m not about spending all day on recipes unless it’s in a crock pot. 😉

The recipe calls for “instant oats.” If you don’t have instant oats or want to use rolled-oats, the chefs notes on the page say “you can send rolled oats through your food processor [or blender] to grind them down into instant-oat consistency.”

Another item I used in my granola bars was the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are soy, nut and dairy free. (If you go to their website you can download a coupon for $0.55 off one of their products.) I like using the chocolate chips for a number of reasons, but one is that they don’t melt as much when baking as regular chocolate chips. The taste pretty much the same, but I think because they are lacking dairy, they don’t melt like regular ones. Anyways, they hold up really well in the granola bars so they don’t make a gooey mess.

Anyways, long intro, but here is the recipe! Enjoy. 🙂

Granola Bars (taken from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon p. 23)

  • 1 c. instant oats
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp raw sugar (optional: I didn’t use it…it was plenty sweet enough)

1. Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. They will appear too dry at first, by they’re not—keep stroking

2. Once combined, let the batter rest while the oven preheats to 325F

3. Grease a bread pan [or use parchment paper] and pack mixture down firmly and tightly

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden, firm, and light brown around the edges

5. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting


1. Peanut Butter Granola Bars: substitute 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for 1 tablespoon of applesauce. Combine peanut butter with applesauce and heat in microwave for 10 seconds so peanut butter softens. Whisk together and use as directed.

2. Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips. Today I used dried cranberries.

Makes 5

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween everyone!!! This year we have TWO Thomas the Train (for the sake of arguments!!), a Princess Leia, and Princess Ariel.

Even our puppy, Bentley, got all clean and cute for the occasion. His costume is a pumpkin bandana.

The boys had a fall festival at their preschool and made costumes. They are silly boys. Jacob is the Red M&M and Logan is a Caterpillar.

Be safe tonight and have fun!


Recipe: Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

Last week, a good friend of mine challenged me to find or come up with a recipe using cranberries. I have to admit, in the past, cranberries have never been my favorite. I have always passed over the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving feast. Even laced with huge amounts of sugar, they still tasted too tart for me.

Well, all that has changed, and I have actually learned to love cranberries! Last Thanksgiving, I did without the sugary cranberry sauce and made a pretty awesome Roasted Maple Syrup Cranberry sauce. Anyway, that’s for another time…. 😉

So, my challenge: recipe using cranberries!

A friend of my friend (follow me here….) sent a recipe to me for Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins. It really looked great and very tasty. But alas, it called for “2 cups of sugar, white flour, oil, and eggs.” The title of the recipe really drew me in….cranberries and pumpkin….ahh! it just sums up this whole fall season! I knew I had to make it so my family could eat it.

I decided to use spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient wheat and is closely related to wheat. It also is equally measured in recipes to wheat. Our family has mostly avoided spelt because of it’s close ties to wheat and it does contain gluten. But, I decided to use this recipe as an experiment of tolerance. (I plan on remaking this recipe, in the future, using a true gluten-free wheat-free flour alternative.)

Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

  • 3 cups spelt flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup stevia/cane sugar mix
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 4 T. chia seed gel
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1. Chop up the fresh cranberries and soak them in the 1/2 cup orange juice for 20-30 minutes. This will help lessen that tartness of the cranberries.

2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together canned pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and chia seed gel.

4. Blend together wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer or mixer, blend for 2 minutes on medium.

5. Gently stir into muffin batter, cranberries and orange juice mixture. Stir until blended.

6. Pour mixture into muffin cups, makes about 30 muffins


Pour mixture into 2- 8×4 inch loaf pans to make bread.

7. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for bread. Insert a toothpick to check to see if it’s done.

This recipe does make a lot. With a family of six, left overs is never a problem! But, if you do have left overs and can’t eat this much, freeze them! 🙂 Bake and then store them in a freezer ziplock bags. Defrost them when your ready to eat them.


soaking the cranberries in orange juice


Waiting for the muffins to be finished




Holy Basil, Batman!

Another small….er, rather LARGE….crop from my container garden. (YIPPY!)

Because of the recent rain that we’ve been getting, our little garden has completely taken off. The basil plant is about triple the size it was month ago when I planted it. It has now paid for itself. I have had several harvests similar to the one pictured above. I thought about making some pesto sauce, but I needed some dried basil anyways, so I dried it and have used it in soup. I also have had plenty to share with friends and my parents.

On the left side of this picture is lettuce. Whoo-hoo, we have enough for two bites! 😉 It has been a little slower in growth, but the tender growth makes for a nice mild salad. I’ll take it! This is our first year with a garden and so it’s all a learning process.


Chick-fila Sides: Uncovered

Chick-fila. Gotta love them! 😉 Healthy eating? Or is it…?

My investigation into their sides came from a comment my Dad made to me about choosing to eat the Cole Slaw over the fries because it’s a healthier option. I really wasn’t too sure about that. Salads can be full of hidden unhealthy stuff, all wrapped up into a cut little package called “salad.” Salad does not equal healthy!

But I had to check out the sides at Chick-fila to find out if Cole Slaw was really a healthier option to fries.

Here’s the breakdown:

File:ChickFilA-Fries.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaMedium Waffle Fries

Ingredient list: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, palm oil), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (to promote color retention), dextrose, canola oil (canola oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent added)

  • 390 calories
  • 20 g fat
  • 3 g saturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 3 g fiber
  • 0 g sugar
  • 4 g protein
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 150 mg sodium

Medium Cole Slaw

Ingredient List: Cabbage, coleslaw dressing (soybean oil, sugar, water, distilled vinegar, egg yolk, salt, cider vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, spices [including mustard seed], dehydrated garlic, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, natural flavor), carrots.

  • 360 calories
  • 31 g fat
  • 5 g saturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 3 g fiber
  • 16 g sugar
  • 20 mg cholesterol
  • 280 g sodium

(Information taken from Chick-fila)

I am NOT promoting eating Chick-fila, but I feel like my find was worth a blog post. Fries are bad for you (duh!), but actually the Cole Slaw just might be worse for you than fries! The reason why the Cole Slaw is a “diet killer” is found in the dressing. Sliced cabbage would be a great addition to a chicken sandwich but unfortunately the cabbage is swimming in dressing and takes something healthy and makes it unhealthy.

So, what to eat for a side at Chick-fila? (…if you have to eat there….)

A side salad or fruit salad.

The carrot raisin salad would be a third option, but I have a really hard time promoting something that has mayo and high fructose corn syrup in it!

Happy Eating!



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

I love smoothies….my kids love smoothies…..Shawn loves smoothies. All I have to say is: “It’s smoothie time!” And all four kids come running.

I’ve posted another recipe using blueberries and almond milk. Then hiding some spinach in the mixture. Sounds gross (it’s not!), but I feel better, because my kids get some greens, and it’s completely undetectable in flavor. (SCORE!)

Here is another smoothie recipe that is “super good.” (quote from Hannah Grace, 8) She gave the smoothie it’s name after trying it. This is a very hardy smoothie that is really perfect anytime of the day. I could see eating this for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

You will need:

  • 2 cups frozen banana (about 2 whole bananas)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 T. mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Put all the ingredients in the mixer (I have an$80 Ninja that has a broken lid….so I don’t want to hear any complaints!). Blend well, and then pour into a cup. Enjoy!


How to Prepare a Gluten-free Thanksgiving

Yes, it’s early….


YES, it’s possible!

This will be the second year of holidays with eating gluten-free and other “weird” free stuff. Our biggest challenge last year was gravy. Making homemade gravy with no corn starch or flour just about sent my Mom and I to the crazy-house. 😉 It was a challenge by my family was on board with supporting….and they were eating at my house, so I’m sure they were just happy not to have to cook for 10 people.

This press-release just came across my email and it got me thinking about the upcoming holidays:

Thanksgiving is one particular holiday where there is always plenty of food on the table. However, hosts may find themselves stumped when preparing a “gluten-free” Thanksgiving dinner. What should be avoided? How can families create a meal that everyone will be able to enjoy? Dr. Kristen Bobik, founder of Balance Chiropractic and Wellness Practitioners, has the following tips on identifying small changes that can be made to ensure Thanksgiving staples remain delicious and most importantly, safe. Recipes are also included at the end of the article.

·         THE TURKEY– Turkeys don’t have any bread or pasta in them but not all turkeys are created equal. Some turkeys are injected with flavorings/preservatives containing gluten so make sure to read the label or contact the company in advance.

·         THE GRAVY– Make the gravy from turkey drippings using corn starch or gluten-free flour as the thickener.

·         THE STUFFING– The core ingredient in stuffing is dried bread, so this will need some gluten free modifications. Purchase a gluten-free mix from a local gluten free bakery such as Apple Gluten Free Kitchen.  Check for gluten in the stuffing’s sausage and get gluten-free turkey stock: Kitchen Basic Gluten Free Turkey Stock is available at Jewel stores.

·         THE CRANBERRY SAUCE– Instead of using a sugar-filled, preservative-full fruit sauce that comes from a can, make homemade raw cranberry sauce to ensure no contaminants!

·         THE SIDES– The more fresh, colorful veggies the better! A green bean casserole contains soup (not gluten-free) and onion toppings. To make gluten-free, substitute crumbled “funions” for the onion topping, and purchase a gluten-free soup from a local food store. In the Chicagoland area, Fruitful Yield stores will have a complete green bean casserole mix! If serving bread/rolls, gluten-free options are available at practically any store.

·         THE PUMPKIN PIE– Pie crust is not gluten-free, so modifications are necessary. Use crumbled gluten-free graham crackers (or gluten-free gingerbread cookies) as a substitute in a pie crust recipe. Or, pre-made gluten-free pie crusts are available at Whole Foods.


Homemade Raw Cranberry Sauce-In a food processor, add 1 orange (remove peel and seeds), 1 lemon (remove peel and seeds), 4 dates (pitted and chopped). Slowly add 2 cups fresh cranberries and process until coarsely chopped.  To make less tart, add more dates! 

Butternut Squash- Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. raw honey. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place one half face down in a small glass baking dish with 1 inch of water. Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, to slightly soften the squash. Remove and cool. Remove outer skin of squash, and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add coconut oil to a pan, heat on medium. Add squash, cinnamon, honey. Cook until mostly soft and serve. 

Thanksgiving Green Beans- Steam 1 lb. fresh green beans for about 8 minutes (about half-done). Meanwhile, prepare ingredients for your skillet: 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 cup hazelnuts (finely chopped), zest of one lemon, 2 tbsp. chopped rosemary. Add those ingredients to the skillet, on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add green beans, coat, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy! 

Gluten Free Kale and CranberriesIngredients: 2 large bunches of kale, 1/4 c. pine nuts, 1/4 c. dried cranberries, 3 tbsp. olive oil. Steam kale until bright green. Meanwhile, toast pine nuts until golden brown. Allow both to cool, then mix together in a large serving bowl. Add cranberries and olive oil, serve. 

Pumpkin Pie- Filling Ingredients: 1 can pumpkin puree (or 1  3/4  c. fresh home made pumpkin puree), 2 eggs, 1/2 c. raw honey, 1/2 c. coconut milk, 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger. Crust Ingredients: 1 c. pecans, 1/2 c. hazelnuts, 4 tbsp. coconut oil, pinch of sea salt. Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Process nuts in food processor until flour like consistency. In a bowl, mix nuts, salt, and coconut oil – then spread the crust mixture into a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes. Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl. Fill evenly into the baked crust and bake additional 45 minutes.


Wellness Party

Yesterday, I hosted a Healthy Eating Open House at my house. It was a small party, and it was a time to just meet some new friends, talk about food (who doesn’t love food?!?!), and try some good food.

I had gotten this idea of a Open House from Holly at My Plant Based Family, who started a Healthy Cravings Group with some ladies from her church. It was so inspiring to read how she made good food for people, that was of course good for the body too, and used that as a tool to help others regain their health.

Grandma and Hannah making some goodies

Our Open House was simple and thankfully I had the help from parents, who were in town.

The menu for the evening was:

Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing(the cilantro was FRESH from my garden!)

White Bean Chili with Jalapeno and Lime (from the “Forks over Knives” cookbook)

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread 

Sweet Potato Hummus with cut vegetable and Lentil Chips

Chocolate Earth Balls

Chocolate Chip Cookies from “Babycakes”

My friend, Angela, came and helped host the party. She is very passionate about health and wellness. This is the second party that we’ve done together. The first one was this past summer. She is HUGE into eating all our fruits and veggies everyday. A big part of her eating healthy passion led her to Juice Plus. She is a distributor for their vitamins and vegetable based protein powder, but honestly just loves talking about living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

One conversation that kept coming up was how we all enjoyed eating good food. Unfortunately, good food is often associated with high calories, fat, and sugar. It doesn’t have to be that way. I, like millions of people, LOVE to eat. I love to eat GOOD food too! I am very passionate, as well, as spreading the word that good tasting food can be good for you food too.

Angela had made and brought over some of her “Juice Plus Protein Powder Bars” which could pretty much pass for fudge….NOT KIDDING, they are really that awesome! It’s hard to believe that in each homemade bar you are getting a serving of protein, vegetables, some good carbs (oats), as well as a little healthy fat (natural peanut butter).

The best quote of the evening came from my Dad, after he had tried one of the bars: “WOW! It tastes like something I probably shouldn’t be eating!” (Love it, Dad, thanks for giving me some good lines for my blog 😉 )

My girls were such super helpers too. It’s cute to see them apply the things that Shawn and I have taught them about food. They made some signs for all my goodies and for promotion of my party.


Break the Fast

“Breakfast is the most imp0rtant meal of the day!”

Yeah, we’ve all heard that. But truly, IT IS the most important meal of the day. It is the meal where you literally break your fast from the night. It kick starts your metabolism.

I’ve never had a problem eating breakfast. I usually starving within an hour of waking up. But I know for quite a few people, it is a problem. Many people actually make lunch their first meal of the day. This is not good for many reasons; you are not giving your body energy (calories) to start your day off right. Your body was designed to eat.

I’ll never forget what my trainer said to me: “Eat breakfast! Something, ANYTHING, just eat something!”

Our mornings, probably much like yours, are a little crazy. We are trying to get the day started and well, it’s nuts. Here are some quick breakfast ideas for you that will give you a healthy start to your day:

1. Oatmeal: Yup, good old fashioned oatmeal. We eat this most mornings. It cooks up fast and I’ve heard from my AWESOME readers that there are a huge variety of stuff you can use to flavor it up. Cranberries, almonds, maple syrup, peanut butter, dates, or fruit. I loved all the feed back on Facebook on this fun topic! My personal favorite is 1/2 cup oats, (water), blueberries, and walnuts. YUM!

2. Powered up cereal: I’m not a big fan of cold cereal as it’s usually loaded with junk and sugar. I found some brown rice cereal at Sprouts that is only just that: puffed brown rice. Nothing more is added! Anyways, we do this sometimes for a quick breakfast. I always add in some “extra power,” by loading up the cereal with tons of fresh or dried fruit. Today was bananas and cranberries. (Yeah, yeah, I need to go to the store….) Usually I add in strawberries and peaches too. It’s a huge breakfast for these little guys, but a good start to the day. And for the “sprinkles” (thank you, Holly at My Plant Based Family, for the idea!) I added chia seeds over the top.

3. Smoothies: We love smoothies. (You can check out this link to see what kind of smoothies we make.) We don’t just eat them for breakfast either. Sometimes it’s a snack….or dinner, depending on the day. 😉 We add in different things too. But I always try to include some greens. Spinach is the most “blendable” as far as the flavor goes. You can sneak it into your drink and you’ll never know it’s there. We have a cheap Ninja blender. It was $80 at the store. It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job. We also always use almond or coconut milk (never water). The “milk” helps make it thicker and in my opinion, taste a little creamier. Then add in your favorite fruits or whatever your heart desires 🙂

Anyways, there is a million ideas for breakfast!

What’s your favorite meal to break your fast??