Pumpkin Pie Pudding Cups

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Due to the success of my Instant Pumpkin Cookie, I wanted to see what else I could make in the microwave. Pumpkin Pie came to mind, but unfortunately, you can’t make pumpkin pie in the microwave. I tried. The filling just spread out and got weird.

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But then I thought, why do you need to cook pumpkin pie anyway? So I created a no-bake pumpkin pie filling.

Though because I did not want to add starches or gelatin substitutes the filling is more like pudding. Delicious pumpkin-y pudding, but still pudding. So pudding cups instead of pumpkin pie.

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They’re also really easy to make, especially when compared to actual pumpkin pie, which would make Thanksgiving preparations so much easier. Plus, everyone would get their own little pie! What’s not to love?

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Pumpkin Pie Pudding Cups

adapted from this recipe

makes about five cups

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup pecans

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp maple syrup

4 Tbs gluten-free rolled oats

Filling:

6 Tbs pumpkin puree

3 Tbs coconut cream

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 + 1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

pinch sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp maple syrup

Directions:

1. Blend all the crust ingredients until sticky.

2. Line the cups of a standard muffin tin with two paper liners, for sturdiness. Pack the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the liners.

3. Remove the mini pie crusts from the tin and microwave in a microwave-safe container for 30 seconds. Replace into the muffin tin, repacking into the correct shape as needed, to cool. The crusts will harden as they cool.

4. Whisk all the filling ingredients together.

5. Once the crusts are cool enough to hold their shape, remove from the muffin tin and fill with the filling. Place in the fridge for the filling to firm up.

6. Enjoy!

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I am sharing this post with Wellness Weekend, Healthy Vegan Friday and Whole Food Fridays.

Cranberry Orange Holiday Energy Bars

October 4, 2013 § 8 Comments

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Don’t you just love Larabars? I think they’re magical. Five ingredients. Blend. Voila!

But not all the flavors are that magical. Does the chocolate chip cookie dough make anyone else nauseous? And where are the seasonal flavors? (Note: I just discovered they make a pumpkin pie version. Go Larabar!)

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This recipe is a holiday-centered take on the Larabar technique. Though forgive me, it has more of a winter flavor profile than a fall one. Yes, I know it just turned October, but you take inspiration when you can get it. Mine came in the form of a yummy bread recipe from the amazing Happy. Healthy. Life. called Sugar Plum Fairy Bread. It looks magical, too, except that it’s bread. So I decided to try a gluten-free version of those flavors.

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Winter fruits like cranberries and oranges combine with holiday spices for an easy, yummy holiday-stress pick-me-up. You can even cut them into any shape you want (holiday cookie cutters anyone?)! I stuck with squares because being kitchen-less forces you to embrace the simple things. But simple things can still be loved, right?

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Cranberry Orange Holiday Energy Bars

inspired by this recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dates

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup cashews

2 Tbs walnuts

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or to taste)

1/2 tsp orange zest

1 Tbs orange juice

Directions:

1. Blend until mixture becomes sticky and easy to form into shapes.

2. Cut into preferred shapes and enjoy!

(Note: These are pretty sticky! Storing them in the fridge helps, but for more ideas on how to de-stick these, please see the comments below!)

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I’m sharing this post with Raw Foods ThursdaysWellness Weekend, Healthy Vegan Friday and Whole Food Fridays.

Instant Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookie

September 27, 2013 § 14 Comments

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You guys, baking is hard. 

My foray into the world of cooking only began when I became gluten-free so I never learned the proper proportions for baking, i.e. flour to fat to leavening agent. Plus, gluten-free baking throws a whole other wrench into the proportion science: how different flours will react with what ingredients.

I first tried this recipe with coconut flour and it was baaad. It had a weird crumbly pudding texture and a really gross flavor. But I toughed through the failure. You’re welcome.

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Meet your new favorite fall treat: A fluffy, cake-like cookie that’s ready in five minutes max, with a touch of pumpkin and ooey gooey chocolate. All you need is a microwave-safe container and a microwave.

Any other oven-less cookie lovers out there? I got you.

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Instant Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookie

adapted from this recipe

makes one serving

Ingredients:

1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (I ground my own in my blender. I didn’t grind it very finely.)

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 Tbs allergy-free chocolate chips

pinch sea salt

1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 Tbs cashew butter

3/4 tsp vanilla

3/4-1 tsp maple syrup

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a microwave-safe container.

2. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Pack mixture down until flat and cookie-shaped.

3. Microwave on high for one minute.

4. Let cool, then enjoy!

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I am sharing this post with Wellness Weekend, Healthy Vegan Friday and Whole Food Fridays.

Spiced Pear Freezer Pies with Cashew Maple Crust

September 20, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Hi, I’m Jessica and I’m a masochist.

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The weather finally cooled down…and then it passed by cool and went straight to cold. The university hasn’t caught up yet, so the heat hasn’t been turned on. This is my life now: in bed under the blankets with my knitting and a hot cup of tea.

But then, this happened:

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Creamy, frozen, fall-flavored deliciousness. So I had a choice to make: freeze or eat freezer pies.

Needless to say, the pies won out.

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Individual Spiced Pear Freezer Pies

makes about 4 pies

Ingredients:

Spiced Pear Filling:

1 pear (I used Bartlett)

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3/4 tsp vanilla

7 Tbs full fat coconut milk

1 tsp maple syrup

Cashew Crust:

1 cup cashews

4 medjool dates

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 tsp maple syrup

Vanilla Spiced Maple Glaze:

1 Tbs maple syrup

pinch or two of pumpkin pie spice

splash or two of vanilla

Directions:

1. Halve the pear and core it, then microwave it, covered lightly, for about four minutes. Let cool, then chill for a few minutes in the freezer.

2. Combine the pear plus its juices with the rest of the filling ingredients and blend until combined. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze, stirring every half an hour until completely frozen (if you have a less time-consuming method for making ice cream feel free to use it).

2. Meanwhile, put all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and process until the mixture is sticky enough to hold together. Pack the mixture into the bottom and sides of the cups of a non-stick muffin pan. You want to make a fairly thick crust or else it will be too delicate to hold together. Store in freezer until ready for use.

3. Once the ice cream is frozen, but still creamy (if it is no longer creamy just thaw for an hour or so in the fridge), spoon it into the crusts and pack it down. Return to freezer.

4. When ready to serve, thaw for a few minutes, glaze with the spiced maple glaze and garnish with pear slices.

5. Enjoy!

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I am sharing this post with Wellness Weekend, Healthy Vegan Friday and Whole Food Fridays.

 

Maple Caramel Apple Crisp. Overnight Oats Style.

September 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Fall is coming!

But if the weather where you live still hasn’t cooled down (like mine: 90 degrees today), here’s a fall recipe that works for warm or cool temperatures. Because you never know what you’ll get with September.

Personally, I’d rather it lean toward the cooler temps. Even though I’m always cold (as in even in 90 degree weather I’ll somehow find myself wishing I were wearing pants. Probably because of this absurd air conditioning addiction we have, which is just jumping from a too hot bath into an icy one…but I digress), I LOVE fall. I love being able to go to bed with actual blankets. I love fall foods and fall flavors.

Hence, apple crisp oats in 90 degree weather. Because fall is worth it.

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Warm apple and cold, creamy oats combine into a delicious, breakfast-approved version of hot apple crisp with cold, melty ice cream. Mmmmmm dessert for breakfast!

Are we starting to see a pattern?

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Maple Caramel Apple Crisp

adapted from this recipe with this recipe and this recipe

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Overnight Oats:

1/3 cup plus 3 Tbs almond milk

2 Tbs full-fat coconut milk (for a hint of dessert-worthy decadence. You can sub with a lighter milk for a lighter version)

1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats

1/2-3/4 tsp vanilla

1/2-3/4 tsp cinnamon

Baked Apple:

1 medium apple (I tried this recipe with both a red Pink Lady and a green Ginger Gold and I think green apples work best)

Cinnamon, to taste

Maple Caramel:

I only used about half this amount, so feel free to adjust accordingly. If you love maple, then go for the whole recipe!

3 Tbs maple syrup

2 tsp chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients for the oats in a bowl and refrigerate covered overnight.

2. Whisk together the chia seeds and the maple syrup, stirring every minute or so for five minutes. Refrigerate overnight.

3. In the morning, core the apple and sprinkle the inside with cinnamon. Place in a microwave-safe dish and cover lightly (I used a BPA-free tupperware and just placed the lid on top). Microwave for three to four minutes until tender. Let cool, then cut into small pieces.

4. To assemble, place the apple pieces in a bowl and pour the juices that came out while microwaving over them. Top with the oats and drizzle with the caramel.

5. Enjoy!

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I am sharing this post with Wellness WeekendHealthy Vegan Friday and Whole Food Fridays.

My Story

September 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Changing your diet is a big step. Some of us do it out of necessity, some of us do it by choice, but all of us have a story. I was one of the out-of-necessity changers. I have chosen to share my story in case any of you are battling with health issues that you just can’t seem to cure and are thinking about trying a diet change. This isn’t meant to suggest that a diet change will cure everything or even anything, it is just my own personal experience. Everyone is different. That being said, I hope this will be helpful to some of you.

I’ve divided my story into parts because there were several different phases in this process.

I. Illness. In elementary school I used to stay home a lot because I got sick often and when I got sick I stayed sick. Mostly head colds, I think my sinuses were the most susceptible. In fifth grade I caught a cold that turned into a persistent cough that stayed with me for several years. I went to many doctors and was prescribed various medications for allergies, asthma, and acid reflux. A woman even came up to my mother on the street and told her I had whooping cough. Which I did not, btw. Obviously the doctors were not much help. Eventually my cough subsided in ninth grade, I don’t know why, maybe I grew out of it or my body grew tired of it, but I still got sick and stayed sick pretty regularly. Finally, my mom decided in my senior year of high school that, since my favorite food was bread, I wasn’t getting enough nutrients and that I should stop eating it for awhile. So I did. I improved a lot and I now rarely get sick. It might have been a combination of getting more nutrients and removing gluten, but I am sure that gluten was seriously suppressing my immune system.

But I do not think just shifting my diets to processed gluten free breads and packaged meals would have helped as much. These foods have very little nutritional benefits. If you are contemplating a gluten free lifestyle, aim for naturally gluten free foods. This will not only make you healthier, but will probably cost less as well.

II. Anxiety. Back to elementary school. In between sick phases, I would also beg to stay home because of bad stomachaches. Some might have been due to my gluten allergy, but I think many were due to the anxiety disorder I was diagnosed with in high school. During middle school I began having panic attacks that I dealt with throughout high school. But since my senior year, I haven’t had a panic attack. Not for want of stressful situations. Travel used to be my big impetus for panic attacks and after my senior year I was facing a move to the east coast for college, a month spent living in Norway with a host family, and a semester studying abroad in England. There was stress, yes, but no panic attacks.

III. Stomachaches. In college I started seeing a chiropractor because my upper back and neck often bothered me. He tested me for allergies (I don’t think most chiropractors do this. He has a few interesting methods…) and discovered I reacted to dairy. I was a little skeptical, but I tried it and the stomachaches I still occasionally had cleared up.

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IV. Back Problems. After my chiropractor appointments my back would feel better, but it’s still an issue for me, I think because I am very sensitive to stress and my neck and shoulders are usually where tension lives. But during my freshman year I began to notice a new back pain, under my right shoulder blade, that made it difficult to turn. It felt like some things were sticking together and when I turned, my shoulder blade ran into them. It’s a little hard to explain. I’m not really sure what it feels like myself. When I told my chiropractor, he did some tests and, using his interesting methods, he decided that the pain was somehow tied to my right kidney, which, he explained, houses the emotions about male subjects (see what I mean? Interesting…). He also thought it might be caused by leaky gut and he prescribed a leaky gut supplement, which did make it easier. It didn’t really get much better, until at the end of my junior year it disappeared for a few weeks.

Being in a long distance relationship, I do have a lot of emotions regarding a male subject, so this theory might have some merit since the kidney spot (what I call the weird pain) began my freshman year when our long distance portion began and disappeared the week I got to go back home and see my boyfriend for our first long, uninterrupted summer. But I was leaving again in just two months for an even farther long distance semester in England, so maybe that’s why it didn’t stay gone. This theory’s still under observation. I’ll let you know if I feel different when I graduate.

V. Protein. Earlier in my junior year, the kidney spot had started to get worse and I began to experience some small abnormalities in my breathing. Sometimes it would just feel off, but I couldn’t really pinpoint why. So I Googled, because that’s what you do, even though you know a lot of the hits you’ll get will terrify you half to death. But I found out that too much protein can overtax the kidneys, which can affect your breathing. Now, if you’ve cut out certain food areas you’ve probably realized that you rely more heavily on the other options. Makes sense, right? If you go blind your other senses get stronger. But cutting out gluten meant that I was severely limiting my carb source. Most of the gluten free grains are high protein seeds, and the easiest gluten free snacks to buy are trail mixes or granola bars that are high protein. And it’s a lot easier to make a high protein gluten free meal than a high carb one. So, I realized that I’d been relying too heavily on proteins. I threw out the protein powder I used after my runs, I stopped ordering meat on my burrito bowl and I went for more carb heavy snacks. My breathing returned to normal and my spot got much easier.

This is the reason I do not believe in the paleo diet, even though it is gluten free. It may not as a whole promote protein over other nutrients, but if you look at most paleo recipes they are very high protein. Even paleo baked goods, which use high protein coconut and almond flour. Remember, the ratio of nutrients your body needs is around 54% carbs, 25% fat and only 21% protein. There are other reasons, including the fact that the paleo diet vilifies grains because they contain certain toxic nutrients even though those toxic nutrients are present in food sources allowed on the diet (which seems hypocritical and ridiculous to me), but that’s for another post.

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VI. Weight. When I was younger I was never happy with my weight. I wasn’t overweight, I just wasn’t where I wanted to be. And I could never lose the weight no matter how much I exercised. Eventually I began to obsessively count calories, which basically turned into me starving myself and then every few weeks or so binging on junk food because I was so hungry. Calorie counting emphasizes calories, but not all calories are the same. I think we would all do better if we focused more on the nutrient levels of food rather than the calories. When I eliminated my allergies I began to notice that I could actually tell when I was full and so I could eat smaller meals. And then I noticed that without much effort I achieved a healthy weight and I currently rarely fluctuate from it, without starving myself or over exercising. I still avoid the scale because I’m afraid it will start the calorie counting cycle back up again, but I do pay attention to how my body feels and how my clothes fit and I have stayed pretty regular. I have an exercise routine and I eat several nutrient-rich small meals a day, but the key is that when you are feeding your body what it wants, it will tell you when it doesn’t want anymore. All I had to do was pay attention.

VII. Elimination Diet. My other food allergies were discovered following this Elimination Diet. I didn’t notice a drastic improvement, probably because I was already so in tune to what foods bothered my body, but I did discover tomatoes and sesame, which explained why sometimes meals would bother me even when I was sure they didn’t have gluten or dairy in them. I would recommend it if you think you may have a food allergy and aren’t sure what food  is bothering you, but it is fairly difficult and does last a long time, so if you are new to diet changes I would suggest you ease into it.

I originally did this diet hoping my kidney spot was due to some unknown food allergies, but as it is still not completely gone, I’m hoping it’s emotions, like my chiropractor said, and that it will clear up next spring when I graduate.

On a side note: I did go to a doctor about my kidney spot. She found nothing wrong, other than that my right shoulder is slightly farther forward than my left, possibly from me fracturing the left in elementary school, and she suggested I see an orthopedic specialist. (If the spot isn’t cleared up in a year, I might). But she did get in a few laughs when I explained what my chiropractor thought, which, I mean, I get, but I didn’t appreciate. My chiropractor had more answers than any medical doctor in my past had.

If you don’t take anything else from this lengthy post, at least take the thought that medical doctors are not always right. I’m not saying, of course, they’re always wrong, because I definitely appreciate doctors and all they do for us, I’m just saying that if you think there is something wrong and your doctor says there isn’t, don’t take that as the final word. You know yourself and your body better than anyone else.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve said, please ask! But please also keep in mind, I am not a licensed professional anything. I have learned a lot about nutrition through my own experiences, but I am by no means advocating diet changes as a cure-all or that diet changes will be beneficial for everyone. Please consult a professional before taking any major steps.

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Wedding Cake Batter

September 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

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You know those days when you just want cake for breakfast? I’ve been having a few of those days. I just moved into my dorm (for the last time!) and consequently I no longer have a kitchen. Correction. I have a kitchen, minus basically everything that makes a kitchen a kitchen. Say hello:

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We have a microwave aaand…Image

a mini fridge!! For four people. The ton of cabinet space really doesn’t seem necessary considering how effectively useless the facilities are. (Oh btw the stove top in the top picture was brought by one of my suite mates, not supplied by the university. Though really how hard would that be.)

Thank goodness for no-cook meals! Like wedding cake batter!

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Okay, it’s not really wedding cake batter. It’s better! It’s a better (because gluten free and vegan) batter! It’s got chia seeds to fill you up and healthy fats for staying power. Plus, in combination these make a rich, creamy, decadently cake batter-like breakfast or snack.

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Wedding Cake Batter

adapted from this recipe

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

3 Tbs chia seeds

2 Tbs full fat coconut milk

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs almond milk

3/4 tsp liquid sweetener of choice

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

1. Grind the chia seeds in your blender or coffee grinder.

2. Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend until thick and creamy.

3. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or overnight. Enjoy!

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I am sharing this post with Wellness WeekendHealthy Vegan Friday, and Whole Food Fridays.