Tag Archives: halloween

  1. Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

    With Halloween approaching and the rest of the holidays not far behind, sweets and treats are going to be just about everywhere, tempting us at every turn. While I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional indulgence, I still also maintain my concerns about the quality of ingredients in most treats. From loads of refined sugar to, often times if store-bought, a lengthy list of fillers, thickeners, “natural flavors”, soy products and who knows what else. There’s just no reason for it, especially when you can make your own.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  2. Real Food Halloween Treats

    Real Food Halloween Treats

    The last remnants of summer have all but disappeared, the sun is setting early, leaves are changing colors and the smell of fall is definitely in the air. Or maybe it’s the cloud of the pumpkin-spiced-everything obsession always wafting just above us. Either way, this is one of my favorite times of year. Jack O’Lantern carving, houses all throughout the neighborhood are decked out in their spooky accoutrements, and the very visceral excitement from all the kids for this year’s costume can be felt no matter where you go. Though it’s been quite sometime since I’ve thrown on a mask and taken to the streets for some good old fashioned trick or treating, I do still find myself wanting to indulge in the treats. I am only human, after all.

    I am not so extreme or excessive in my approach to eating and food to that I think that Halloween should be celebrated with raw veggies and dollar store toys, rather I try to encourage the idea of homemade, real food options wherever possible. So, I thought a list of some of my favorite Real Food Halloween Treats would be a great idea and it might inspire you to try a few homemade options this year, rather than the creepy, scary packaged stuff, loaded with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and artificial colors and flavors! Also, I am really showing my cards here and you’ll clearly spot my obsession with chocolate.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  3. Savory Herbed Cashew Pumpkin Dip

    Savory Herbed Cashew Pumpkin Dip

    I am all about the simple lately. Quick fixes, simple snack, meals without fuss. I want to enjoy the flavors of nourishing whole foods, with the seasonal ingredients I have on hand and minimal prep. It’s been a hectic month or so.

    I haven’t had a moment to tell you guys, but I am back in school! As of this month, I am enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program with the Nutritional Therapy Association to become a Certified Nutritional Therapist. I have long dreamt of finding the proper program where I could continue educating myself in a manner that would certify me to work even deeper with people, seeking to heal their bodies through a real food diet and a more foundational perspective.

    I myself have been on a long and continued path towards healing my body. 10 years of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, diagnoses and at times, challenged guidance. While my own healing journey is far from over, with new discoveries on what works best for me still being made weekly, I have so much I want to share and yet, so much still I want to learn, both for myself and for the countless others whom I meet and want to help.

    Savory Herbed Cashew Pumpkin Dip

    I could talk for hours about what I have learned already just a few weeks into the program and just what enrolling in this program means for me, moving forward, but I digress, I have a stack of homework and this post is supposed to be about dip. That said, please know that I will be sharing my experiences with this program and the curiculum here o the website. I will be sharing a monthly journal of sort, of the progress of my time in the program, for those that are curious in possibly joining yourself and for those that may just be curious in how what I am learning may be of help to you. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I have this super simple, seasonally-inspired snack for you. Read the rest of this entry »

  4. Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups

    Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups

    Happy Fall Equinox!! It’s here, my most favorite time of the year. So much change is in the air right now as we are moving from the busy, summer months of being outside and going non-stop, into the cooler, slower months of comfort and cozy. Staying in, watching movies, cuddling up with a hot mug of homemade soup and of course, pumpkin spice everything!

    Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups Read the rest of this entry »

  5. Green Monster Smoothie

    Green Monster Smoothie

    Kitschy halloween-inspired recipes aren’t exactly my thing. No judgement on those who dig it, I just personally don’t like food to look “gross”, even if it’s fake. So, while I think bloody witch finger cookies or a pumpkin puking up guacamole are kinda funny and probably great for a spooky, halloween-themed party, it doesn’t exactly make me want to eat. A lot of that stuff just turns my stomach a little. That’s just me. Maybe if I had kids I would feel different or maybe it’s just that I am the Halloween equivalent to Scrooge or the Grinch. I mean, I honestly can’t even tell you the last time I dressed up for Halloween. Bah humbug!

    Green Monster Smoothie

    Either way, my good friends at Vega asked me to make a Halloween-themed smoothie using their amazing plant-based protein powders and I couldn’t say no. So, I took my simple, modern, toned down (see also, lame-o) approach to this challenge. This Green Monster Smoothie is about as “creepy” as I get, since I don’t do blood or guts as a meal, almonds as finger nails, brains on a plate, or rats and spiders crawling on my flatware.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  6. Vegan Pumpkin Pie Martini – Gluten-free and Refined Sugar-free

    Vegan Pumpkin Pie Martini

    I will keep this one short, yesterday’s post was enough words to read for the next week. Phew! What can I say, sometimes I just have stuff I wanna chat about. Thanks so much for being here to read it and all the rest of my ramblings!

    I originally was only going to be sharing this recipe with my email list. An exclusive content kinda thing. But, I just can’t keep this from you guys and I am a little bit of a sucker. Many of you asked if you could still get the recipe even if you aren’t on my mailing list so I decided rules are meant to be broken, even if they are your own.

    Too many people hate emails lists and I kinda don’t blame you. My inbox is a hot mess most days. If you are a busy person and you have a lot of stuff coming and going from your email everyday, adding one more could just be the tipping point. I don’t ever want to annoy you, my friends. So, for those of you that don’t want to mess with emails, I didn’t want you guys to feel left out. I don’t like holding out on you guys and this one is way too yummy to not be shared with the masses. So here ya go – enjoy this, share it and make it part of your holidays this year.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  7. Photo Fun Day Friday

    It’s been a busy few weeks, so I have neglected my Photo Fun Day Friday posts. This is a full one, but it’s been a fun few weeks, so I had to share. I cannot believe we are into November already. The holidays are nipping at our heels, somehow. It’s crazy.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    Jazz hands on the Tower of Terror. Such a fun trip to Disney with my cousin Andrea and her boyfriend Mike who were visiting from NY.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    Of course we had to make time for a beach day

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    It’s nice to have friends that are always happy to see you.

     Photo Fun Day Friday

    Beautiful Tibetan singing bowl for meditation that my sister Vicky send to me for my birthday.

     Photo Fun Day Friday

    A care package sent from Buffalo for my hubby. I have never seen him more happy. He has been desperate for good pizza and wings since we moved out here.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    My amazing family sent me some colorful wax paper pressed leaves. Missing the autumn colors.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    Best handmade birthday card, ever. From our friends Dan and Debbie.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    Hanging with the lovely April of Gluten is my Bitch at the Gluten Free Oktoberfest in San Diego.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

    Hosted a little lunch with some of my favorite blogger friends. From L to R: Gina of So Let’s Hangout, Meg of Beard and Bonnet, Me in the middle, Cara of Fork and Beans and Meg’s friend Amber visiting from Georgia.

    Photo Fun Day Friday

     

    Me, Gina and Meg. I just adore these girls.

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  8. Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls (Gluten-free & Dairy-Free)

    Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls - Gluten-free and Dairy-free

    I love the challenge of creating healthier versions of classic recipes. Earlier this week I asked my Facebook readers: what Halloween treat would they like a re-imagined healthier version of? Popcorn balls popped up (pun intended) quite often! Traditional popcorn balls are usually loaded with butter, sugar, corn syrup or marshmallows, etc. I figured the easiest way to hold these together without all the junk was honey! It worked perfectly and it gave the popcorn a nice caramel-like color and flavor, too. The dark chocolate drizzle on top is optional, but I do have to say it really makes these extra special and it shouldn’t be skipped if you can help it. Dark chocolate and salty-sweet is an amazing combo.

    Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn Balls - Gluten-free and Dairy-free Read the rest of this entry »

  9. Vegan Pumpkin “Cheesecake” Pops {Grain-free, Gluten-free + Refined Sugar-Free}

    Vegan Pumpkin "Cheesecake" Pops {Grain-free, Gluten-free + Refined Sugar-Free}

    I love when a recipe I create ends up inspiring countless others. The reach one simple idea can have is so fun and I love seeing and playing with all the different possibilities. In the summer, I created a No-Bake Vegan “Cheesecake” recipe for a 4th of July celebration. That recipe inspired Meg of Beard and Bonnet to create a delicious chocolate chip crust version and from there she created a Key Lime “Cheesecake” Truffle, that in turn gave me the idea of creating these delicious Autumn-inspired pumpkin spiced “cheesecake” pops! Phew! I love it. I can only imagine all that is to come from here with this idea.

    Vegan Pumpkin "Cheesecake" Pops {Grain-free, Gluten-free + Refined Sugar-Free}

    Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever stop being so amazed at all of the delicious things you can make with cashews. I love making various cream sauces for tacos or pasta and the fun you can have with desserts, like these cake pops, are endless. Whoever first came up with the idea to soak cashews and turn them into cream, they should be in some foodie hall-of-fame somewhere. (Does that exist? Because if it doesn’t, it should!)

    These Pumpkin “Cheesecake” Pops are not nearly as complicated to make as what the different groups of instructions below leads you to believe. They are quite easy. There is no baking required and it takes more time to wait for the pops to set, then to do anything else. I have served these to several non-vegan, non-gluten free people now. Actually come to think of it, besides myself, those are the only people that have eaten these. “Regular eaters”. Every last one loved them and they just couldn’t believe they were totally vegan and grain-free!

    Read the rest of this entry »

  10. No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    My final recipe in my healthy Halloween series with Free People this month is for a simple, quick no-bake cookie ball, that is full of delicious fall flavors. Instead of the cut-out cookies and donuts and wayyy too much Halloween candy, why not snack on these? Gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free these no-bake treats will still wow your socks off.

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    The spicy pumpkin flavor is perfect for this time of year and the whole recipe can be put together from start to finish in about 15 minutes. Plus, you can have fun with these and add in your own favorite extras like coconut, raisins, additional nuts, chocolate chips, powdered sugar or maybe even a drizzle of caramel sauce.

    No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    This recipe was originally shared on the Free People Blog, BLDG 25 

    [print_this]No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Cookie Balls (Gluten-free, Vegan + Sugar-free)

    Makes approximately 18 balls

    • 8 Medjool Dates, pitted
    • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter
    • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée (canned or fresh, if you use fresh be sure to drain as much water out as you can)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • Dash of ground cloves
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut plus more for rolling

    Optional Add-ins:

    • raisins (I used raisins in half of the recipe, about 1/4 cup)
    • additional coconut for rolling
    • additional chopped walnuts for rolling
    • mini chocolate chips

    Add just the pitted dates to the food processor and process for a minute or two until a thick paste forms – if they are quite dry, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water to get it moving. If they are pureed and form a large ball in the food processor, don’t worry too much, the other ingredients will thin it out. Next, add the almond butter, pumpkin puree, the spices, salt and the vanilla extract. Process for a minute or two again until thick and creamy. Add in the nuts and coconut and pulse a few times until the nuts are chopped and it all comes together into a thick dough. Try to roll a little in your hand, if it is holding together it is ready, if it is too crumbly try adding more almond butter and/or pumpkin. If it is too creamy and sticky, add more nuts and coconut. If you are adding raisins, just fold them in by hand with a spoon or spatula.

    Take the blade out of the processor and roll the dough into balls, about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Roll into shredded coconut, if you wish. You should end up with approximately 18 cookie balls. You can eat them right away, or place them in the fridge for a bit to firm up (which is what I prefer).

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  11. Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt – Gluten-free + Vegan

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    I know I mention not being one of those people that is overly obsessed with sweets, and while that is true, one thing I can never walk away from is really good dark chocolate. That bitter bite with the subtle sweetness is the perfect combination, add some spice, crunch and salt and then you’ve really got me hooked.

    I started making bark a year or two ago, as the perfect treat to make for a dinner party, or you can wrap it up in some really nice handmade packaging and even give it as a gift. I always buy the highest percentage of cocoa containing dark chocolate I can find since that darker and more bitter, the better. Lately I have been loving Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate, and the bonus is that instead of refined white sugar, the sweetness in their bars comes from unbleached beet sugar. How cool is that?

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    One of my favorite things about making my own chocolate bark is all of the fun combinations you can create with different ingredients. You can use dried fruits, different nuts and seeds, spices, herbs, etc. You can really make something special every time. Since I was creating another healthy Halloween treat for my ongoing series this month with Free People, I thought that adding toasted pumpkin seeds was the perfect seasonal twist on this, and the addition of the spices bring a nice unexpected heat, and the chipotle powder has a nice subtle smokey flavor.

    Feel free to play around with your own favorite add-ins, and make this your own. Here is another dark chocolate bark recipe that I made a while back, that I love.

    This recipe was originally shared on the Free People Blog BLDG 25.

    Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

     

    [print_this]Spicy Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt

    • 12 ounces of gluten-free, vegan dark chocolate (I used this)
    • 1/2 cup of hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
    • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked chipotle powder, plus a bit extra
    • 1/4 teaspoon of chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse grey sea salt (Fleur de sel)

    Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over a medium heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds for about 3-5 minutes, until they jump around a bit in the pan. Set aside to cool.

    Line the bottom of baking sheet with parchment paper leaving a small overhang. (I drizzle a small amount of oil on the pan first so the parchment paper will stay put and not wrinkle).

    Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water, or in a microwave on low in 30-second bursts. Stir often with a rubber spatula so it melts evenly. Stir in the spices and half of the pumpkin seeds.

    Pour the chocolate onto the baking sheet and smooth with a spatula into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining pumpkin seeds and a pinch or two of additional smoked chipotle powder and the sea salt. Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, about 20-30 minutes, or in the freezer for 5 minutes.

    Peel the bark off the parchment paper and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it is best in the first a couple of days but can be stored up to two weeks.

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  12. Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (Gluten-free)

    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    I am so very excited to share this recipe with you guys. I had so much fun creating it and even more fun eating it! In theory, caramel apples always sound amazing, but in reality they are always a sticky mess, hard to eat, and so sugary they actually hurt my teeth. I have learned to just pass on by and only dream of their caramel goodness. Until now. I finally decided to re-imagine a caramel recipe without heavy cream or butter, but I also wanted the sweetness to come from somewhere other than refined overly processed white sugar.

    I am really excited with how this came out.

    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    It has a beautiful dark hue from the coconut sugar and it is thick and luscious and perfectly creamy, and the right amount of sweetness without feeling yourself getting a cavity as you are eating it.

    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    This caramel is great as both a dipping sauce for fresh apples (or whatever else you would like) that can be served while it is still a little warm or totally chilled, or you can let it fully chill, get nice and thick and actually coat whole or sliced apples in it, then coat them in nuts, chocolate, sprinkles or whatever you’d like.
    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    Obviously, just because this caramel sauce is healthier than the original, it doesn’t mean you should sit down and eat a bowl of it in one sitting, though you easily could. Sugar is still sugar, but at least with this refined sugar-free, vegan version you can have a bit less guilt while you indulge.

    Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

     

    [print_this]Vegan Caramel Apple Dipping Sauce (gluten-free)

    makes about 2 cups

    • 1 cup organic coconut sugar
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    • salt
    • 1 cup full-fat organic coconut milk, the canned kind
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla
    • 1tablespoon arrowroot starch (corn starch or tapioca starch would also work)

    In a medium saucepan over a medium heat, mix together the coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil and water, stirring often and well until the sugar has dissolved and it is smooth and creamy. Bring it up to a slight simmer, add a dash or two or salt and the coconut milk, whisking and bring back up to a simmer.

    Once it has been simmering for about 5 minutes, add in the vanilla and the arrowroot starch. I find that slowly adding the arrowroot starch while whisking (by sprinkling it in), versus just a big dump, keeps the lumps to a minimum. Lower the heat and whisk until the arrowroot starch has dissolved and the sauce is nice and thick. Remove from the heat.

    It is great served warm or cool as a dipping sauce for apples (or whatever else you might like to dip in it). Serve with chopped nuts or chocolate on the side as well.

    Or you can let the sauce cool fully and it will get a little thicker and then you can roll whole apples or apple slices in it, cover with chopped nuts or chocolate pieces and place in the fridge to chill and harden up a bit.

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  13. Joyful Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites – Vegan + Gluten-free (Refined Sugar-free Option)

    Joyful Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites - Vegan + Gluten-free (Refined Sugar-free Option)

    This month for my ongoing series with the Free People Blog, BLDG 25, in celebration of Halloween I am sharing a series of healthy sweet treats. I always feel like the sugary stuff haunts me this month with Halloween looming on the calendar, it seems everywhere I turn there is some sweet treat lurking in the darkness.

    Joyful Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites - Vegan + Gluten-free (Refined Sugar-free Option)

    I really don’t find myself actually craving sweets very often, but boy, this month I do. There are halloween inspired sugary treats everywhere you turn and most all of them are terrible for you, loaded with refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup and other processed junk and fillers.

    Joyful Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites - Vegan + Gluten-free (Refined Sugar-free Option)

    So, why not have your cake and eat it, too? Or candy, or fudge, or whatever! First up in the series, I reimagined a classic candy bar that I have always loved. The combination of coconut, chocolate and almonds is a favorite of mind. It’s a joy to eat, if you catch my drift.

    These treats bear a spooky resemblance to the original, but without all the yuckiness that will haunt you later. See, all treats, no tricks! What more can you ask for to kick off Halloween month?

    Joyful Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites - Vegan + Gluten-free (Refined Sugar-free Option)

     

    [print_this]Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites – Vegan + Gluten-free
    makes 12 treats

    Coconut Filling:

    • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened organic coconut, finely shredded
    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (you could also use coconut nectar, agave or any other liquid sweetener or honey if you aren’t vegan)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

     

    Dark Chocolate Coating*:

    • 10 ounces of high quality semi-sweet or bittersweet vegan chocolate chips (if you are gluten-free also make sure they are gluten-free). You can also opt for a super dark chocolate, like 75-80% dark.

     

    Plus: approximately 1/3 cup toasted almond slices

     

    *NOTE: if you are looking to make these refined sugar-free which is what I prefer, in place of chocolate chips you can instead melt 10 ounces of a good quality 100% unsweetened organic dark chocolate (aka bakers chocolate in bar form) with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a double broiler and whisking in 1/3 cup maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener) after it is removed from the heat. You can then add more or less sweetener to your liking.

     

    Lightly grease a nonstick mini-muffin tin with a little coconut oil and set aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the coconut filling ingredients and mix together until very well combined. Evenly divide up the filling between the 12 mini-muffin cups, pressing it in very tightly, making sure it is somewhat even. Don’t worry they won’t stick. Place the muffin pan in the freezer make sure it is sitting flat, and freeze until the filling is solid, about 30-45 minutes.

     

    Take the muffin tin with the frozen coconut mixture out of the freezer, carefully remove each coconut treat out of the pan, running a thin knife around the edge to loosen and pop them out. Place them on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet, if you want to place the pan back in the fridge to keep them cool while you melt the chocolate, you can do that.

     

    Once you are ready to coat the treats with the chocolate you can carefully melt the chocolate using a double boiler setup on the stove top or you can carefully melt it in small increments in the microwave, stirring often. (Definitely use the double boiler if you are making the refined sugar-free version with the bakers chocolate). Turn off the heat on the stove and keep the bowl of chocolate over the pan, remove the coconut treats from the fridge. Place one coconut treat on a fork and slowly lower it into the chocolate, spoon additional chocolate over it to fully coat it. Lift the fork out and gently shake to release any of the excess chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few toasted almond slices on top into the chocolate. Repeat until all of the treats are coated in chocolate and have almonds on top.  If the chocolate gets too thick, you just turn on the flame and heat slightly to melt it again. Put the tray back in the fridge and let them harden for about 45 minutes.

     

    After these are set, you could store them in the freezer to keep them really cold and totally solid or of course, you can just store them in the fridge or even at room temperature if it isn’t too hot out. [/print_this]

    This recipe was originally shared on the Free People Blog.

     

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