Flourless Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

I love the Fall.  It’s my absolute favorite season and I’m all about those classic Fall flavors like apple, pear and of course, pumpkin!  Pumpkin is a food I use year round but definitely more often during this season-really because it’s just everywhere and I just can’t help but come up with new ways to use it!  These fluffy pumpkin pancakes were actually made as a little experiment to try creating an eggless batter and adding extra baking powder and apple cider vinegar for the fluffy factor and it worked like a charm! These healthy pumpkin pancakes are packed with fiber and protein from using oat flour (finely ground rolled oats) flourless, gluten-free, eggless and naturally sweetened with only one tablespoon of maple syrup for the entire batch!  Oh and did I mentioned they taste delicious!

They also freeze really well and make the perfect quick and easy breakfast.  Just be sure to cool completely and then wrap each individually (or lay them on a parchment lined plate or small baking sheet, covered and place in freezer for 1 hour or until hardened. This prevents them from sticking together while freezing).  Then you can put the pancakes in a freezer safe container.

What’s your favorite part about Fall?  What do you look forward to the most during this season?  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or other dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional but adds great flavor!)

*make your own oat flour by placing 1 1/2 cups (or extra) of gluten free rolled oats (or regular if no allegries/intolerances are present) in a blender and blending starting from low speed, gradually to high until a fine flour-like consistency is achieved (usually 1-2 minutes). Then measure out oat flour accordingly.

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice (and nutmeg if using).  Whisk to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, almond milk, vinegar, syrup and vanilla (if using).  Whisk to combine.   Add wet mixture to dry ingredients.
  3. Let the batter sit for at least 5 minutes
  4. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Once hot, use a 1/4 cup and pour pancake batter on the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until you can easily slide a spatula underneath. Flip. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the second side.
  5. Repeat for the rest of the batter.  To keep it totally sugarless, enjoy with vegan cream cheese, fresh fruit and/or a drizzle of almond butter!

Easy Mushroom Sauce over Chickpea Pasta

I used to love watching the Food Network show “Semi-Homemade” by Sandra Lee.  She totally inspired me with her delicious meals that took minimal time and effort by using partially pre-made ingredients!  Here is one of our favorite recipes that goes in rotation with other meatless meals that I try to make more often than not these days.  What makes this recipe semi-homemade is that I use store-bought marinara sauce.  My go-to is Rao’s homemade since it contains no added sugar (most sauces do, so be sure to check the label!) and contains ingredients I would use in making my own homemade sauce!  Since this mushroom sauce is not rich in protein, I paired it with a protein-rich chickpea pasta (I used Banza brand) for a nutritionally complete meal.  My older son loved this dish since he is a mushroom fan, but you can also pulse the raw mushrooms in a food processor for more of a bolognese style sauce if your kids aren’t into sliced mushrooms.

What’s your mealtime shortcut?  Do you buy pre-cut veggies or use store-bought sauce? Let me know in the comments below! I’m sure we can all benefit from knowing some meal prep and cook shortcuts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups store-bought tomato sauce (look for one that contains no added sugar)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced (you could also quarter the mushrooms and pulse in a food processor if you prefer more of a bolognese style)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried oregano
  • 1 box bean-based pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Set a pot of water to boil for the pasta
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and carrots, season with salt and cook until slightly golden and caramelised.
  3. Next, add the mushrooms.  Add the garlic and oregano, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is cooked.
  4. Add in the sauce and reduce heat to the lower setting.  Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. In the meantime, cook the pasta.
  5. Serve sauce over pasta and enjoy!

No-Bake Chocolate Chip-Date Balls

If you’re still looking for some new lunchbox ideas, I got you! Check out these Chocolate Chip Date Energy Balls!  These bite-sized treats are loved by everyone in my household (especially my 3-year old) and are my personal fav go-to snacks that gives me a much needed energy burst with a healthy dose of fat, protein and carbs!  They also make a great addition to lunch boxes-adding that sweet element kids love without a ton of refined sugar.  My typical energy ball recipe is consists mainly of honey, unsweetened coconut, oats and ground flaxseed but with this recipe, I swapped out the honey for medjool dates and I’m hooked! Medjool dates have a soft, sticky, chewy texture and caramel-like taste, making them the perfect binding agent and naturally sweet addition to homemade granola bars or balls.  Give these a try! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

You’ll need:

  • 8 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup finely ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (or use sunflower seed butter as an alternative)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 cup water in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute, until hot.
  2. Add dates to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes.  This softens the dates and makes them easier to puree.
  3. Remove dates from water and place in a small food processor.
  4. Add to the food processor about 1 Tablespoon of the water the dates soaked in.
  5. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add additional water to thin the consistency of the paste, if desired.  Set aside
  6. Combine oats, flax seed, coconut flakes and chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.
  7. Add date paste, vanilla extract and nut butter to the dry mixture.
  8. Stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  9. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes (not necessary but makes them easier to roll).
  10. Form dough into tablespoon-size balls.
  11. Refrigerate balls in an air tight container.

Lunchbox Packing: Less is More!

I’m still in disbelief that the school year is starting next week!  I totally don’t feel prepared.  In fact, I haven’t purchased anything from the school supply list yet but confident it will all come together by the first day of school.  I’m working on a blog post that includes a bunch of lunchbox tips and ways to help make sure your child eats the foods in their lunchbox with minimal waste!

I’ll be sharing some of my tips in separate IG posts and the one I’m sharing today is all about focusing on variety and balance instead of volume.  When packing lunch for a child, it’s easy to overdo it on portions especially when the thought may be that the more you pack, the more they will eat-but it’s quite the opposite.  Kids have small stomachs and really do not need large portions.  While each child is unique with appetites that vary, one thing I’ve learned from personal experience is that the less I pack, the more my son eats.   Part of it may be that too much food may just be overwhelming or unappetizing.  But I’ve also found that if I give too much of a certain food that he really likes, that’s all he will eat.  So I provide smaller portions and focus on a colorful variety of foods instead of volume and it’s worked wonders for me.  Also, results in less food waste!  I also find that packing lunch in a bento box (versus separate containers) helps to keep portions small and neatly packed.

What do you usually pack for your child’s lunch?  I would love to hear it! Let me know in the comments below.

Strawberry-Banana Yogurt Muffins

Happy Friday! How is your day going?  Well it’s about to get a whole lot better with these little gems.  I’m a big fan of baking muffins, mainly because they are so easy to make and portable!  Perfect for little kid hands and adult hands alike.  Once you have a good basic recipe down, the mix-ins (like these strawberries) just elevate the flavor & nutrition!  BONUS: these muffins freeze really well and are a great addition to lunch boxes!  and with the school year in full swing, we could all use some good lunchbox ideas, am I right?!

In addition to bananas and berries, these muffins are packed with other wholesome ingredients like applesauce, greek yogurt and oats!  I made this recipe gluten-free (I recently started following a gluten-free diet for health reasons, I’ll explain in another post soon), but you can totally make them regular using all-purpose flour and basic oat flour.  If you can’t find gluten-free oat flour, simply make it by placing a few cups of gluten-free rolled oats in a high speed blender and blending until you achieve a fine, flour-like consistency and then measure out accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use the brand Cup4Cup)**
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (see note above for details on how to make it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large overripe bananas (the darker, the better!), cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

**this also works with whole wheat flour, but the consistency of the muffin will be a bit more dense.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the bananas and mash well (I use a potato masher or hand-held electric mixer).  Add in the applesauce, egg, maple syrup and yogurt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add in both types of flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Stir until evenly moistened.  Fold in strawberries.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from pan; cool completely

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Some things are perfect on their own, but even better together- like sweet potatoes & bananas.  If you ask me (and my 3 year old), sweet potato & banana are one of the best veggie-fruit combinations for muffins.  I love sweet potatoes for countless reasons including the fact that they are super versatile and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and health-promoting phytonutrients.  And since they are low glycemic and high in fiber, they help to keep a steady handle on blood glucose and prevent spikes in blood sugar.  So adding them to baked good or even smoothies gives a mega boost of nutrition and helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

These muffins are super moist and aside from bananas packed with other yummy ingredients like greek yogurt and applesauce.   They also freeze really well and make the perfect addition to a lunchbox! Oh and best part, it only requires 1 bowl making cleanup a breeze!

Fun fact: While Americans often use the names sweet potatoes and yams interchangeably, they are not related.  Yams are native to Africa and Asia and are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour**
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cubed, peeled and steamed
  • 2 medium ripe bananas (the darker, the better!), cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce

** for the flour, I combined 3/4 cup cup4cup gluten free all purpose flour + 3/4 cup spelt flour.  But you can use any unbleached all-purpose flour and 100% whole wheat flour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the sweet potato and banana, mash well (I use a potato mashed, but the back of a fork works too).  Add in the applesauce, eggs and yogurt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add in both types of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.  Stir until evenly moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from pan; cool completely

Baked Cinnamon Apples with Oats, Flax and Golden Raisins

Have you ever tried baked apples?  Well they are one of my favorite healthy treats for a number of reasons:

  • they are super easy to make
  • taste delicious-naturally
  • total #momwin as they are healthy, delicious and kids love them
  • packed with fiber (one medium apple w/skin has a little over 4 grams of dietary fiber) plus I love adding oats and flax which add a healthy dose of protein and fiber too!
  • kids can help in the kitchen with mixing the stuffing and filing them before baking
  • makes a great naturally sweetened food vehicle for healthy add-ins like oats, ground flaxseed, dried fruit, nuts, etc.
  • baking apples brings out their natural sweetens..no need for added sugar – not even the natural stuff like honey or maple syrup
  • super satisfying….
  • OK let me stop here, but you get my obsession with them now.
  • perfect as dessert, snack or breakfast!

BONUS: With apple-picking season approaching, this is a great way to use up that overflow of apples!  These BAKED CINNAMON APPLES w/ OATS, FLAX & GOLDEN RAISINS were our dessert last night and topped them off with some dairy-free coconut ice cream and a dash of cinnamon.  Since many apple varieties are naturally sweet, you don’t really need additional sweeteners like maple syrup or honey.  If you’d like to try these for breakfast, an alternative topping is unsweetened coconut yogurt with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.  I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet, firm apples like Honeycrisp or Jonagold
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if you have an intolerance or allergy to gluten)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegan buttery spread (or use unsalted butter if you prefer)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with coconut or canola oil cooking spray.
  2. Halve the apples from stem to end and use a spoon to scoop out the core, seeds, and stem. Arrange the apple halves in the baking dish with the flesh facing up.  Lightly coat the flesh with lemon juice to help prevent browning.
  3. Melt the buttery spread in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Then add in the oats stir to coat with the buttery spread.  Continue sautéing oats until slightly brown, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in the applesauce, cinnamon, raisins and ground flaxseed, mixing well to combine.
  5. Divide the topping between the apples, lightly pressing it down onto the apples.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover the apples then bake another 25-30 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping has browned.
  7. To keep it dairy-free, serve with a small scoop of coconut or other dairy-free ice cream, eat it plain or with a drizzle of honey.  **The apples will keep for up to one week.  When ready to eat, simply reheat in a warm oven or in the microwave.

 

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