Nut-Free

Good-for-You Green Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

With the start of a new year, and after the extra treats of the holiday season, I like to focus on filling my plate with more vegetable-packed meals. However, even while eating healthier, I do like indulgent-tasting treats. Fortunately, this creamy dairy-free smoothie is not only a wonderful start for your day or after workout pick-me-up, it also tastes fantastic. It may look green, but it tastes similar to a creamy, dreamy pumpkin pie.

Many dairy-free smoothies use frozen banana to give body and creaminess, however my low-carb eating husband challenged me to come up with an alternative ingredient. Instead of banana, Green Pumpkin Pie Smoothie gets it’s smooth texture from avocado, decreasing the sugar and carb content from what is found in the typical smoothie.  A  typical avocado has about 14 grams of fiber, much more than other fruits. The fiber, along with its healthy monounsaturated fat, and higher protein content than most fruits, make avocados a great energy source that keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

Rounding out the ingredient list for this simple to blend smoothie are pumpkin and spinach. Rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps maintain blood pressure and kidney function, pumpkin is also high in fiber and contains a fair share of vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for healthy skin and gums. The dark leafy green of spinach is a nutritional powerhouse all on its own. There are few food sources that offer more vitamin K than spinach, essential for blood clotting and bone health. Recent research also shows that vitamin K may help decrease inflammation in the body. Other important nutrients found in spinach are beta-caroteen, lutein, folate, and magnesium.
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A New Year’s Power Juice

Have you started the year off with some healthy goals or resolutions? I have too. And one of those goals is to drink more fresh juice. You can read about my New Year’s Juicing Challenge at Gluten-Free Cat. Juicing is such a wonderful way to infuse your body with nutrients. You can drink far more nutrients than you can chew in meal. And you can also incorporate vegetables that you might not otherwise eat.

There are definitely wonderful properties in green juices, but have you considered juicing beets? You can juice both the beetroot and the greens. Here are few reasons why you might want to start incorporating beets into your diet:

1. Beets are good for the liver. Beets contain betaine, which protects the liver and aids in detoxification. Drinking beet juice can result in detox symptoms, so it is wise to start with a small amount of beets and increase slowly.

2. Beets help to prevent cancer. They detox the body of harmful toxins and prevent cancer from growing.

3. Beets are good for your skin. They prevent and treat acne and promotes healthy skin and hair growth.

4. Beets make you feel good! Betaine has been used to treat depression. They also contain tryptophan which causes that happy, relaxed feeling after a meal.


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Resolution-Friendly Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Sunbutter Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding. source: Kim Lutz

It’s not easy transitioning from the indulgence-heavy holiday season to the austerity of new year’s resolutions.

I’m all in favor of healthy eating and getting back on track.

I just think its easier to do if those resolution-friendly foods are creamy and sweet! This Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Chia Pudding is a welcome addition to your new year’s table. It’s loaded with protein from the sunflower seed butter and chia to fuel your new workout routine.  The sweetness comes from coconut-milk yogurt, without the need for any other sweetener. A little cocoa adds chocolatey goodness.

With treats this yummy, healthy eating is definitely on the menu all year long!
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Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad with Pepitas

This recipe came together several years ago when pulling together leftover bits from holiday meals. It turned out so delicious that Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad is now a staple dish in my house. I originally used toasted pecans in the salad, but now use pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to emphasize the seasonal flavors of the dish and keep it nut free for family friends.

Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad with Pepitas is a wonderful side dish fancy enough for the holiday table, yet easy enough to have on hand to put in the lunch box, or serve with cooked sliced chicken or grilled portabella mushrooms on top for a simple dinner with the  family. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.

Wild rice is actually not a rice at all, but a semi-aquatic grass historically grown in lake, bays and tidal rivers.  The only grain native to North America, wild rice originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes. I live in Minnesota, so wild rice has always been a treat item used for the holidays and in autumn dishes during its harvest season. I love its nutty taste, the snappy texture and the way the grain opens when cooked. If you are looking for a warm way to serve wild rice, try Dairy Free Wild Rice Soup for a comforting and creamy soup featuring this unique grain.

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