Vegetarian

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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Gluten Free Swedish Cardamon Almond Rusks

My grandmother baked a lot around the holidays, filling the house with the smells of ginger, vanilla, rosettes, and cookies.  While baking gluten free versions of her recipes with my family now, I am drawn back to memories of her kitchen. The scents that are the strongest pull in my mind are almond and cardamon. My grandmother was from a Swedish family, so almond-flavored goodies kissed with cardamon were definitely a high point on the cookie tray. Grandma made the most wonderful cookie we called “Cardamon Toast.” It was a variation of Mandelskorpor, a Swedish almond rusk similar to biscotti. She always added cardamon to the traditional recipe, so I do, too.

Now that my family is gluten and dairy free, I make a different version with my kids. This grain free version is lovely with tea, eggnog, or a strong cup of Swedish coffee just like Grams would have liked. Crisp, and slightly sweet, the almond flavor really shines. I usually keep them plain, but for gifts or for Christmas, I might dress them up with a simple drizzle of vegan white chocolate or a tiny bit of powdered sugar glaze with a touch of almond flavoring.

Gluten Free Swedish Cardamon Almond Rusks are a wonderful snack to keep around during the holidays. They keep well, so they can be made ahead of time. With a stash on hand, you are ready with a treat for last-minute visits from friends and family. These lovely little crisps also travel well, making them perfect for gift giving. Continue reading

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