Move over, Pumpkin Pie. There are new Fall Favorites on the menu!

Now that school is back in session and September well underway, it’s time to give into that quintessential pumpkin craving we (try to!) suppress all year. Fall has almost fallen…let’s usher in this glorious season with some good ol’ comfort food.

And, on that note: the following recipes are figure-friendlier twists on classic autumn indulgences. So, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without souring your waistline!

Warm Mulled Cider

mulled cider ingredients   

  • Ingredients:
  1. 3 cups 100% apple juice (I used Simply Apple brand)
  2. 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  3. 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  4. 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  5. 1 tsp. orange zest
  • Preparation:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring the stove-top heat to a boil.
  2. Stir this mixture constantly until it has reached a rolling boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-high, then simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Stir the mixture occasionally throughout these 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the cider to cool slightly.

mulled cider   

Pumpkin & Carrot Bars

  • Ingredients:

pumpkin bar ingredients   

  1. 3 egg whites
  2. 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  3. 1 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  6. 3/4 cup organic Stevia powder
  7. 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  8. 1/3 cup carrots (shredded)
  9. 1 1/2 tbsp. applesauce (unsweetened)
  • For the Frosting:
  1. 1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese (softened)
  2. 2 tbsp. organic Stevia powder
  3. 1/2 tbsp. skim milk*

*If your dietary needs or preferences exclude dairy, you can substitute 1/2 tbsp. soy milk whisked with 1 tsp. apple cider.

  • Preparation:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the baking soda and powder, flour and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. In another bowl, combine the applesauce and sweetener, until the texture is smooth.
  3. Add the egg whites, carrots and pumpkin pie filling, then continue mixing.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then mix again until everything is thoroughly blended.
  5. Spread the batter onto a greased jellyroll pan (a baking sheet will also suffice), then set aside temporarily.
  6. Combine the cream cheese, milk and remaining 2 tbsp. of sweetener.
  7. Spoon the frosting on top of the batter, then swirl them together with a butter knife.
  8. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the batter has cooked thoroughly.
  9. Allow the cake to cool completely, then slice it into even squares.

pumpkin bar before   pumpkin bar after 


Satisfy that Sweet Tooth the (Almost) Vegan Way

I say “almost” because this recipe uses 1 egg, which qualifies as an animal by-product, but true vegans need not despair. Simply substitute 1/4 cup pureed banana, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or 1/4 cup oil of your choice, and you’ve got a bona fide vegan party-in-the-mouth!

And, for all you other foodies out there, meet the answer to your ongoing dilemma: Do I eat dessert and regret it later, or skip dessert and regret it RIGHT NOW? These Avocado & Almond Butter Cookies deliver all the indulgence of your favorite guilty pleasure…only without that pesky guilt-part. Rejoice!

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/4 cup almond butter
  4. 3 tbsp. raw honey
  5. 2 packets Stevia
  6. 1/2 cup almond flour*
  7. 1/4 cup dates (chopped)
  8. 1/2 avocado (mashed)

*You can easily and inexpensively make your own almond flour by grinding 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a blender or food processor until finely powdered.*

avocado cookie ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Combine the mashed avocado, egg yolk, honey and almond butter together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder, Stevia packets and almond flour, then stir until the batter is smooth.
  3. Fold in the dates, then spoon the batter onto a greased baking sheet in the shape of cookies.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the cookies have cooked thoroughly.

avocado cookie batter

avocado cookies pre bakingavocado cookies post baking

  • Serving Suggestion:

In addition to a sweet mid-afternoon snack or lighter after-dinner dessert, enjoy these tasty treats in the morning for an omega-3 and protein-packed breakfast.

avocado cookie taste test

(And, of course, I was obligated to take these babies out for a test chew, now wasn’t I…?!)

8 Amazing Alternatives to 8 Recipe Ruiners

Living natural starts in the kitchen (naturally). But while a home-cooked meal kicks McDonalds’ ass any day of the week, you might not be aware of just how harmful some of the most basic and accessible cooking ingredients actually are. The result: even though you think your health is right on track, those sneaky little culprits are thwarting all your efforts. And you’re blissfully unaware as you shovel cheesy goodness down that gaping pie hole. (Well…what’s the problem?! The recipe said vegetarian!).

Fear not though: I’ve compiled a list of delicious AND nutritious substitutions for the ingredients you love but won’t love you back. And the best part? Once you try these alternatives (or even get creative and experiment with your own ideas!), you’ll never notice the difference.

Well, maybe you will…but it’ll be a good difference. Trust me.

1. Instead of Butter or Margarine: Try pureed avocado, no-sugar-added applesauce, hummus, mashed black beans, or nut butters (e.g. cashew, almond, all-natural peanut)

2. Instead of Dairy: Try nut milks (e.g. almond, soy, hazelnut), seed milks (e.g. hemp, flax, chia, coconut), or grain milks (e.g. rice, oat,)

3. Instead of White Flour: Try ground quinoa, rolled oats, whole grain flours (e.g. spelt, millet, barley, buckwheat), or seed meals (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, chia)

4. Instead of Sugar: Try agave nectar, chopped raisins or dates, cinnamon or nutmeg, brown rice syrup, or all-natural sweeteners (e.g. stevia, monk fruit)

5. Instead of Table Salt: Try herbs (e.g. basil, dill, rosemary, oregano), spices (e.g. cumin, tarragon, cracked red pepper), garlic, dried seaweed, or lemon zest

6. Instead of Sour Cream or Mayo: Try plain Greek yogurt, honey mustard, or Mediterranean spreads (e.g. tzatziki, baba ghanoush, olive tempenade, pesto)

7. Instead of Eggs: Try silken tofu, pureed fruits (e.g. bananas, pumpkins, apples), ground flaxseed paste, egg whites, or arrowroot powder

8. Instead of Vegetable Oil: Try heart-healthy oils (e.g. coconut, olive, avocado, palm), or 100% fruit juices (e.g. cranberry, pomegranate, carrot, beet, lemon, lime)

So, what are you waiting for?! Get in the kitchen and show those processed fake ingredients that they’ve finally met their match. (Spoiler alert: both your waistline and digestive system say “thanks!”).