Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Clusters

Okay, it’s October and I’ve officially transitioned into pumpkin spice mode, but within reason. I figured I had to create some sort of sweet bite utilizing pumpkin spice since it’s kinda expected this time of year. And, really, I don’t mind being a taste-tester since I don’t make stuff like this very often. I especially love licking the spoon, but sometimes let my husband in on the experience too.

Meanwhile, these clusters are a lovely balance of nuttiness, crunch, spice, salt, and sweet. The pumpkin pie spice becomes more prominent overnight, making these even better the next day. These are super simple to make too, but I do warn you to be careful when melting the chocolate. Moisture, even one drop, will make your chocolate seize and though it is potentially fixable, it’s a pain in the butt and not fun. I speak from experience — this happened the first time I tested this recipe. I was able to fix the chocolate after a Google search, but it took a long time and a lot of fuss. I’ve had it happen another time a long time ago too, but had to totally pitch the chocolate. So sad. Don’t let it happen to you!

Cheers and enjoy!

P.S. Catch the replay of me making these on KATU Afternoon Live from October 18 HERE! This was also my one-year anniversary going on the show!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup large flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas
  • 6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (I used this brand)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar, or more if you want sweeter chocolate
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Maldon sea salt, to garnish (find HERE)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place raw pecans, pumpkin seeds, and coconut on a large baking sheet. Mix together and toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Give a stir and if needed, toast for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Be careful not to get any moisture in the chocolate or it will seize! Once melted, stir in the coconut sugar, pinch of sea salt, and pumpkin spice. Whisk until dissolved.
  3. Remove chocolate from heat and stir the nut mixture into the chocolate. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drop chocolate clusters in 1-2 Tbsp portions. Finally, garnish with Maldon sea salt.
  4. Leave on counter to set or place in the fridge to speed things up a bit.

Yields: 18-20 clusters, give or take (depending on size)

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Harvest Bowl with Creamy Maple Vinaigrette

harvest bowl 3Tomorrow is the official first day of fall and to commemorate, I threw together this lovely harvest bowl. It’s filled with cinnamon-roasted butternut squash, chicken breast, apple, pecans, and mixed greens, and is topped with a creamy, dairy-free maple vinaigrette. It is splendid and I can honestly say it’s my newfound love. I will definitely be making it over-and-over again for a while.

I wasn’t ready to go full-on pumpkin spice mode and all that jazz, but I had to honor where we’re at, so a little cinnamon, maple syrup, and some seasonal goodies did the trick. Pumpkin spice can wait until next month. I do enjoy fall, but I’d be lying if I said that I’m ready for summer to end. I really love summer…like a lot, but onward I go with the change of seasons, and I’m taking this harvest bowl with me!

In other news, I will be making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live next Tuesday, September 26. UPDATE: watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!close up harvest bowl

For the bowl:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups leftover boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
  • 2-3 small Gravenstein apples or other variety of choice, diced
  • 1/3 cup raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens

For the maple vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand, which is gum-free)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place butternut squash on large baking sheet and drizzle with the avocado oil. Season with cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper, and mix well. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool once done.
  2. Add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake to mix. Alternatively, you can whisk it together in a bowl. If possible, make the dressing ahead of time to allow the flavors to marinate.
  3. Assemble the salad by dividing the mixed greens among three bowls. Then, divide the chicken, pecans, apples, and squash among the bowls. Just before serving, drizzle desired amount of dressing on top. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Yields: 3 servings

 

Brussels Sprout Hash

Brussel sprout hash featuring apple, prosciutto, and pecans.

This meal is incredible and yields the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and savory. It’s a beautiful thing, folks. I threw it together (literally) the other day for lunch and oohed and aahed the whole time I ate it. It came together on a whim and without a plan, which is one of my favorite ways to create and test recipes. There has to be motivation and joy behind it though, otherwise, things are likely to not work out.

A special thanks to my dear friend, Laura, for the Scottish leek. She gave it to me straight from her garden last week. It was leftover from last year’s bounty. This type of leek is much smaller, and roughly the size of a large green onion. A little bit of regular leek will suffice in this recipe as well, so don’t fret if you can’t find the Scottish variety.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 small Scottish leek, chopped OR 1/4 cup regular leek, chopped
  • 1/2 Lady Alice apple, diced (pink lady would also be great)
  • 2 pieces prosciutto, chopped (I used Applegate brand)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Splash of chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 Tbsp pecans
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leek and brussel sprouts, and season to taste with pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are browned.
  2. Next, add the apple and prosciutto, and continue to cook for a few minutes more. Mix in the Dijon and chicken broth, and let cook for a minute or two longer. Stir in the pecans, remove from heat and serve.

Yields: 1 serving

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28th Birthday Recap & Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!

As you probably know, my birthday was this past Saturday, and boy, was it a good one! First of all, I had a wonderful night’s rest, which included sleeping with my bedroom window open, and woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside. It was a refreshing start to my day and made me smile. Then, I got ready for yoga and headed over to my studio. There’s nothing like a sweaty, challenging power vinyasa class to get the day going.

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Root Whole Body. (Taken on iPhone).

After yoga, I came home and made myself a wonderful breakfast. You may have seen it on Facebook, but if not, here’s what I ate:

Birthday breakfast.
Birthday breakfast: US Wellness Meats sugar-free grass-fed beef bacon, pasture-raised eggs cooked in garlic n’ herb pasture butter, avocado, and red chard and tomato cooked in the bacon grease. Not pictured, Numi Organics chocolate puerh tea.

Then, I got a surprise phone call from my 87-year old grandma and 90-year old grandpa back in Michigan. It was so touching and wonderful to hear their voices. Apparently, my dad was on the phone with them earlier in the day and asked if they wanted to call me on my cell and wish me a happy birthday. I’m so glad he offered up the idea! I love my grandparents dearly and they’ve always been a big part of my life.

Next on my agenda, a pedicure! I treated myself to a little TLC at a salon/spa down the road from us — literally just a 5-minute walk away. Lucky for me, I had a $20 off any service coupon that they sent me for Valentine’s Day, so my 50-minute pedicure only cost $20 (plus tip). Such a steal, and my toes look tons better. It was much needed.

A sneaky picture, in the midst of my pedicure.
In the midst of my pedicure. (Taken on iPhone).
After: pretty coral toes, and smooth, moist feet and lower legs. Don't mind the flip-flop marks on my feet. (Taken on iPhone).
After: pretty coral toes and smooth, moist feet and lower legs. Don’t mind the flip-flop marks on my feet. (Taken on iPhone).

The day continued with a drive up to Cultured Caveman for some chicken tenders. I LOVE their chicken tenders. They are crave-worthy. They’re dipped in a thin layer of coconut flour, egg white and spices, and then fried in grass-fed beef tallow. Garnished with course salt and dipped in homemade ketchup and/or aioli, they are divine. If you live in Portland and have not tried their chicken tenders and other delicious food, do it! And try some of my date/nut treats while you’re there…hehe.

Mmm...hot tenders!
Mmm…hot tenders! (Taken on iPhone).
A chicken tender smile. (Taken on iPhone).
A chicken tender smile. (Taken on iPhone).

Next, grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

Afterward, I hung out a home and did a itty bitty amount of homework. Then, I decided I wasn’t having any more of that on my birthday and put it away.

For my birthday dinner, we went to Cafe Nell, one of our favorite restaurants in Portland. We drank the loveliest chardonnay I have ever tasted and shared egg on horseback, minus the cheese. This is asparagus with a sunny side up egg and sage brown butter. For dinner, I had NY strip with roasted brussel sprouts. My phone pictures were really bad in here, especially the one I tried to take of my entree, so I don’t have a picture of that.

Dim lighting, a cozy fire and European-esque windows. The atmosphere here is one of my favorite things about this place.
Dim lighting, a cozy fire and lots of windows. The European feel of this place is one of my favorite things about it. (Taken on iPhone).

After dinner, we came home and ate some homemade butter pecan ice cream that I made earlier in the day, and watched the final episode of season 1 Downton Abbey. I had been wondering what all the hype was about this show and kept hearing people talk about it. Jesse and I finally checked it out on Netflix a couple weeks ago and loved it! I’m bummed that we have to wait for season 2 to come out on DVD before we can watch it, but oh well. That’s the nature of most everything we watch. You know what’s really funny? Up until watching this show for the first time, I thought it was called, “Downtown Abbey.” Am I the only one?

I had such a lovely birthday and feel so blessed. I’m just sad that it went by so fast. Now, it’s just a memory, but a good memory indeed.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

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Birthday butter pecan ice cream, equipped with a candle.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand)
  • 2 pasture-raised egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut cream (I used this brand)
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan pieces

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and let toast, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. The pecans will continue to absorb some of the butter while cooling.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, coconut milk, honey and sea salt together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream, vanilla and pecans. Place in the fridge to cool for a couple hours.
  3. Once chilled, add to ice cream maker and let churn for 17-20 minutes. Serve right away or empty into a container and store in the freezer.

Raw Pecan Fudge Brownies

After over one year on the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), I decided to officially try something on the illegal foods list. It’s something that I’ve been dying to try and have yet to understand why it’s an SCD-illegal food … unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s not starchy, a grain, sugar or soy, etc. So why? Why unsweetened cocoa powder? I know of others who adhere to the SCD, but have tried cocoa powder and felt fine, and since it’s been over one year for me, I thought I’d try too. If you’re lost on what I’m talking about because you haven’t read my ‘About Me’ or health story (links to my health story are listed in ‘About Me’), I suggest you go check it out, so that you’re up to par. If not, then just roll with the punches.

I got the idea for these brownies from my boss at Recreate Fitness. Last week, she brought in a batch of raw brownies that she made and shared them with others at the gym. She apologized that I couldn’t try one (not even a little bite!) because she said she added oats to them to cut back on the amount of nuts. She told me the oats were the only ingredient that I wouldn’t be able to have, and that they can be made without. I took it upon myself to check out her recipe and make it my own (note: she’s also a food blogger and creates some beautiful dishes; beautiful photography too). The result? Fudgy, bittersweet, nutty and moist.

So far, so good on the cocoa test too, but I’m not pushing it. I don’t eat more than two tiny pieces a day and understand that symptoms can take up to four days to set in, so I’m definitely paying attention to how I feel (though I generally do anyway). Again though, I’m not too worried about cocoa powder. It seems pretty harmless, which is why I decided to try it. I don’t plan on trying any other SCD-illegal foods anytime soon and to be honest, I’m scared of trying things like yams/sweet potatoes, turnips, plantains, etc. All that starch kinda terrifies me and the potential hazards it could cause in my GI tract. I’m happy to continue staying away from such foods for a while still.

Ingredients:

  • 8 plump medjool dates, pitted
  • 1-1/4 cups pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place 1 cup pecans in the food processor and blend until mixture is finely ground.
  2. Next, add the dates and pulse until dates are broken up and somewhat combined with the pecan flour.
  3. Add the avocado, vanilla, sea salt and cocoa powder. Blend well until all ingredients are mixed together. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
  4. Scrape mixture into a large bowl and mix in the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.
  5. Pat mixture into a small pan (I used a 5×7 Pyrex dish, an 8×8 pan works too). Sprinkle and pat down additional pecan pieces on top, if desired.
  6. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to set. This will make it easier to slice the brownies.
  7. Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder, if desired.

Cinnamon Roll Squash Muffins

Do you recall the heavenly aroma of Cinnabon that lingers throughout the shopping mall? I rarely go to the mall because it’s kinda dreadful and claustrophobic for me, but the smell of Cinnabon is not forgotten. Honestly, it smelled like Cinnabon in my house yesterday  when I made these muffins. Luckily, I made and consumed something a million times better than one of those puppies sold in the mall. Yes, it is still a treat (a fall-inspired one in this case), but it’s better than the alternative and homemade too! To be honest, I’ve never actually had anything from Cinnabon in my life — well, maybe a cookie (a very long time ago), but never any cinnamon rolls.

The cinnamon roll topping brings these muffins to life. I’m sure they’d taste wonderful on their own, but cinnamon topping and pecans? Yes, please! Not to toot my own horn here, but these muffins are straight-up wonderful (okay, maybe I’m tooting my own horn a little). The addition of the butternut squash puree makes them incredibly moist. The raw batter tastes good too! I love to clean off the spatula, just like I did when I was a kid.

Cinnamon roll topping:

  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, ghee or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Set aside.

Muffin ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (fresh or canned – I used this brand)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (find here)
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup melted grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract (I like this brand)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup raw pecans for topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients together — except pecans–in the food processor and process until a smooth, fluffy batter forms. Alternatively, you can mix all the dry ingredients together, whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, and then whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
  2. Grease muffin cups or line with parchment paper liners. Fill each with approximately 1/4 cup of batter.
  3. Spoon cinnamon mixture over each muffin and top with pecans, if using.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Yields: 9 muffins 

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