Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween-stuffed pumpkin with spider surprise

Trick or treat?
Halloween, as well as other holidays, are not a big deal at my house. Ritalin Boy (RB/hubby) is all about being practical and well, holidays definitely do not fall into the category of "practical." They are more about "pure fun" and enjoyment of family and friends. RB does appreciate the family/friends aspect of holidays and especially, the sugar aspect of Halloween.

Vegan lentil/quinoa spider on bed of pumpkin

On the other hand, I am a kid at heart who cannot give up on Halloween. There will be no trick or treaters at our doorstep because we live far off the beaten path. But I celebrate by conjuring up a ghoulish recipe of some sort. This year, I am tweaking my diet to make it as anti-inflammatory as possible as I am trying to rule out any cause of my chronic pain. It's not fibromyalgia; it's not arthritis; we're not sure what it is. I only know it's painful.

I can only eat healthy sweets so that rules out most Halloween goodies. I decided to focus on a Halloween-inspired entree with the result being Stuffed pumpkin with a spidery surprise. This is a multi-step recipe that can seem overwhelming. The trick is doing some of the prep in advance. For instance, you will need to bake pumpkin halves for 1-1/2 hours depending on their size. This can be done ahead of time. The vegan lentil/quinoa spiders also can be made a day or so in advance and stored in the freezer.

Stuffed pumpkin with a spidery surprise
Servings: 2    Time: 2 hours

Ingredients for pumpkin and stuffing:

  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 2-4 T. vegan pesto
Ingredients for vegan lentil/quinoa spiders
  • 1/2 cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 T. chia seed
  • 2 T. Bragg's amino acids
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
Halloween-inspired pumpkin with spider surprise

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard or save for later use.
  • Place the pumpkin halves in a large baking pan. Brush the insides of the pumpkin halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip the pumpkins over and pour 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish. Place the baking pan into the center of the preheated oven and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until pumpkin halves are soft.
  • Meanwhile, make the vegan lentil/quinoa spiders. Mix all the ingredients(except for roasted red pepper strips) in a large bowl. Mixture will be sticky but manageable.
  • Form spider-shapes out of the dough and place on a sprayed baking sheet. You will probably get 8-12 depending on the size of your spiders.
  • Bake along with the pumpkin for 25-30 minutes. Turn half way through.
  • These freeze well.
  • Closer to serving time, saute sliced onion and julienned zucchini and carrots until tender.
  • For the pesto, I tossed 1 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 bunch kale leaves, 1/4 cup each olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, 1 tsp. cumin in my food processor.  Pulse to make a pesto sauce. Or substitute a pesto of your choice.
  • To serve, fill each pumpkin half with the sauted veggie mixture and 2 T. + pesto. Top with a vegan lentil/quinoa spider. Arrange the roasted pepper strips around the spider body to form legs.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cold fighter soup and easy pumpkin frappuccino

Misha investigates a wheelbarrow of squash from the garden in search of the Great Pumpkin. Or is he searching for dog treats?

I'm up to my ears in squash and that's a good thing. Squash, such as pumpkin, is full of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A---and that helps create white blood cells to fight infection. So, eat more squash this cold season.

Another good thing to eat more of this winter is legumes which are loaded with immune-boosting iron and zinc, two nutrients that provide protection against infection by viruses and bacteria.
Legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, also are good sources of vitamin B6, which aids in creating infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes. You can double your absorption of iron from legumes by combining them with foods that contain vitamin C.

Cold fighter soup with pumpkin and legumes

Here’s a recipe that I call Cold Fighter Soup. It's loaded with pumpkin and legumes as well as other veggies and almond butter. It’s easy to prepare and makes 4 generous servings. Leftovers store easily in fridge or freezer for future meals.

(suitable for ACD-phase 2)

  1. 1 cup of lentils (rinsed)
  2. 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  3. 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  4. 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  5. 1 cup diced pumpkin or other squash, such as butternut
  6. 1 large zucchini, diced
  7. ½ red pepper, diced
  8. ¼ red onion, diced
  9. 1 quart of vegetable broth
  10. 2 T. unsweetened almond butter
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. Other seasonings: 1 tsp. cumin
  13. 1 T. olive oil



  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add diced onion, carrot and celery. Saute until tender.
  2. Add rinsed lentils and vegetable broth. Mix in seasonings.
  3. Heat to boiling. Reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Ten minutes before serving, add the other vegetables and cook until tender.
  5. Finally, stir in 2 T. of unsweetened almond butter.
Get plenty of rest too so you can stay healthy this winter!
I'm also using up some of my pumpkin from the garden by making healthy and easy iced pumpkin frappuccino. It's good for your tastebuds, and healthier and cheaper than getting a frappuccino at your local coffee shop.
Iced pumpkin frappuccino

1. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2. 6 T. pumpkin puree
3. 1 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
4. 1 tsp. vanilla
5. liquid vanilla stevia to taste
6. 1 tsp. Dandy Blend or instant espresso powder
7. additional almond milk as needed
8. Optional: 1/4 tsp. xanthum gum

1. Combine items No. 1-5 and freeze as ice cubes.
2. When ready to make frappuccino, blend pumpkin spice cubes with Dandy Blend or coffee powder. xanthum gum and additional almond milk as needed.
3. Blend until thick and smooth.
4. Serve with coconut cream if desired.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin protein spread, stuffed apples and pumpkin quinoa cookies

Is this the Great Pumpkin, Bailey and Nika?
Why have I become so squash obsessed? It may be that my garden is brimming with all kinds of winter squash (pumpkins, butternut, delicata, spaghetti). It may be the season. Or could it be my own allergy-inflammed body telling me I need a hearty dose of all the good things contained in these vegetables?

Pumpkins and other winter squash are incredibly rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins. These low- calorie vegetables contain vitamin A and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin and carotenes in abundance. Learn more about these super vegetables at

It is the Great Pumpkin!
I am counting on all the antioxidant-power of pumpkins and other winter squash to help me overcome the inflammation of fall allergies. I started by hauling in a few orange beauties from my garden to kitchen. Soon, I had pumpkin puree to make recipe magic. A versatile spread to have around for snacks and toppings is Pumpkin Protein Spread.

Fresh Fruit Compote, a pumpkinish-sort of baked apple, filled with Pumpkin Protein Spread
Pumpkin Protein Spread
(1 serving)
(suitable for ACD-phase 1)

3 T. pumpkin puree
1 scoop vegan protein powder
1 T. sunbutter or almond butter
dash of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

You can wrap the spread in a collard leaf or add it to my personal favorite, Fresh Fruit Compote, a baked apple, stuffed with fall harvest bounty.
Baked apple with pumpkin protein spread

Fresh Fruit Compote
(1 serving)
(suitable for ACD-maintenance)

1 cored large apple (I used gala)
1 T. pumpkin seeds (toasted or raw)
1-2 T. frozen cranberries or pomegranate seeds
1 T. pumpkin protein spread or almond or sunbutter
splash of coconut nectar (or agave nectar)
dash of cinnamon
sprinkle of granola
optional: vegan yogurt or coconut cream


Core the apple. Stuff with ingredients. Place in a microwave- safe container and microwave for about 4 minutes. Top with granola, yogurt or coconut cream.

"Are there more ways to use pumpkins, Mom? I kind of like chewing on the stem."
While I was going pumpkin-crazy, I had to make up some super easy Pumpkin Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are wholesome enough to eat for breakfast and ready in 6-10 minutes.

Pumpkin Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes 2 servings or one really hearty single serving)
(suitable for ACD-phase 3)

1/2 cup quinoa flakes
3 T. chia eggs (mix 2 T. chia seed with 4 T. water and store in fridge for use as chia eggs)
3 T. pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 T. sunbutter or almond butter
stevia to taste
1/4 cup cacao chips
1/2 tsp. baking powder
dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
Optional: frosting made by mixing Sunwarrior Chocolate Protein Powder with almond milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use a large spoon to drop dough onto baking sheet. Flatten slightly with spoon or hands. Bake for 6-10 minutes. Makes about 5-6 cookies. Frost with optional frosting made by mixing almond milk with Sunwarrior Protein Powder.

This recipe was adapted from the Pumpkin Oat Carob Chip Cookie recipe at

I love pumpkins!
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ice cream cupcakes (vegan)

Bagger Bailey helps unpack groceries.
There's nothing like having a little help in the kitchen, especially when it's your birthday. But Ritalin Boy (husband) seldom cooks and definitely doesn't do vegan birthday treats.  His idea of a birthday cake is a Dairy Queen ice cream cake (definitely not vegan).

My birthday dream: a plate of vegan ice cream cupcakes
In my fantasy world, Ritalin Boy would surprise me with a plate of ice cream cupcakes for portion control that were vegan and low glycemic. Well, that's not going to happen. It was time to get in the kitchen and make my own birthday treat.

Layered ice cream cupcakes with chocolate sauce

Layered Ice Cream Cupcakes (vegan and low glycemic)
(suitable for ACD-maintenance)

Chocolate Ice Cream Layer
  1. 1 diced frozen pear
  2. 1 cup sweet potato puree
  3. 1 1/2 cup regular coconut milk (not full fat)
  4. 2-3 T. coconut sugar
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. 2 T. raw cacao powder
  7. 30 drops of vanilla stevia liquid (or to taste)
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Move ice cream mixture to ice cream maker and follow instructions to freeze. Place the ice cream in a storage container and continue firming in the freezer.

Brownie layer
  1. 1 cup almonds
  2. pinch of sea salt
  3. 3 T. coconut nectar
  4. 2 T. coconut sugar
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. 25-30 drops vanilla stevia
  7. 2 T. raw cacao powder
Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until brownie dough is formed. Divide dough among three large muffin pan sections (use regular-sized silicon muffin pan if possible for easy removal). Press dough into thin layer in bottom of each muffin section. Save any extra dough for snacking.
Place the muffin pan in the freezer to firm up brownie layer. Once the brownie layer is firm, spoon
 1 1/2 T. of the vegan ice cream into each muffin section. Return muffin pan to freezer.

  1. 1 T. almond butter or sunbutter
  2. 1 T. raw cacao powder
  3. 1-2 T. almond milk
  4. 1 T. coconut nectar
Blend all ingredients in a small bowl. Place a tablespoon of fudge in each muffin section and return to freezer.

Cake Crumbs
  1. 2 T. coconut sugar
  2. 1/4 cup almonds or sunflower seeds
  3. 1 T. raw cacao powder
In a coffee grinder, grind the nuts or seeds with the coconut sugar and cacao. Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and divide the crumbs evenly among the three ice cream cupcakes. Spoon additional vegan ice cream on top of the crumbs to complete the ice cream cupcakes. Return to freezer to set.

Chocolate Sauce
  1. 2 T. coconut nectar
  2. 2 T. raw cacao powder
  3. 1 T. almond milk
Mix all ingredients in a small container. Reserve until ready to serve cupcakes.

To assemble, remove frozen ice cream cupcakes from muffin pan. Allow to soften slightly for 15-20 minutes. Top with chocolate sauce and enjoy.

Note: It doesn't have to be your birthday to enjoy these. You can eat one and save the rest in the freezer.
Doggie bunkbeds

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