Fall for Pumpkin Protein Balls this Season (See What I Did There?)

I look forward to October every year for one simple reason: it’s Pumpkin Everything Season! And despite living in Southwest Florida where the temperature rarely drops below 60 degrees, once autumn shows up on the calendar, I morph into that girl.

pumpkin-everything-season

Yep, I’m basic apparently. So sue me. Fall is a glorious time. And pumpkins are a direct result of that gloriousness.

These seasonal superfoods are rich in Vitamin A to promote vision health, Fiber to increase digestive regularity, Antioxidants to support immune function, Potassium to stimulate post-workout energy and Carotenoids to reduce skin aging effects.

Plus, they get all the Instagram likes, so…

But I digress. If you wanna experience those nutritional benefits for yourself, not just during autumn but year-round too (Why isn’t the PSL Summer Edition a thing? Looking at you, Starbucks!), might I suggest these no-bake Pumpkin Quinoa Protein Balls.

They’re perfect for a healthy plant-based breakfast or afternoon snack. And, all basicness aside, they taste like fall is supposed to taste. *insert brown leaf emoji*

I rest my case.

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls

yields 2 dozen protein balls

Ingredients:

1 can Pumpkin Purée (organic)

1 tbsp. Sunflower Butter (organic)

1/3 c. Rolled Oats (whole grain)

1/4 c. Quinoa (organic)

1 Apple (peeled & diced)

1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Spice

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 tsp. Ginger

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-ingredients

 Preparation:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to its package instructions, then set aside.
  2. Combine the pumpkin pur√©e, rolled oatssunflower buttercinnamon, ginger and pumpkin spice in a mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the apple into small chunks, then stir into the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the pumpkin mixture, then stir these ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  5. Divide the batter into bite-sized balls and place in the freezer for 1 hour before serving.

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-batter

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-before-photo

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-after-photo

So. Much. Yes.

Cherry Quesadillas: a Summertime Twist on a Mexican Mainstay

Out of all the fresh, vibrant, enticing produce I look forward to around this time of year, cherries are the clear stand-out.

Call it nostalgia, but that juicy tartness¬†reminds me of childhood summers spent vacationing with my family in Northern Michigan, where cherries make their way into everything — from pies to paninis. I love cooking with this fruit because even just the aroma drifting¬†through my kitchen calls to mind a special time and place.

Since cherries are currently at¬†the height of peak season, I’m taking full advantage by sneaking them into all my favorite dishes. Like, quesadillas, for example. I’m such a Tex Mex sucker, and cherries definitely turn up the volume on this Southwest staple.

Trust me, it’s summer in your mouth!

******

 Ingredients:

2 Whole Wheat Tortillas

1/2 c. Halved Cherries

1/4 c. Shredded White Cheddar*

4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 tbsp. Raw Honey

2 tsp. Orange Zest

*Need a vegan cheese substitute? Check out my Cashew Cream recipe.

******

Preparation:

1. Coat the bottom of a skillet with Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium-high stovetop setting.

2. Place a Tortilla in the skillet and spread the White Cheddar (or vegan substitute) evenly over it, then top with the Cherries and Basil.

3. Drizzle the Honey and Orange Zest over the other ingredients, then place the other Tortilla on top.

4. Press down on the Quesadilla with a spatula until the bottom Tortilla starts sizzling (approx. 2 minutes), then flip to the other side.

5. Once both sides have cooked thoroughly, and the Quesadilla reaches a crispy texture, transfer it from the skillet to a plate.

6. Allow the Quesadilla to cook slightly before slicing into 8 equal wedges. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Do I even have to say what’s next? Enjoy!!!
cherry quesadillas

Serving Suggestion:

Make this summery meal even more refreshing by smothering it with a¬†Cherry-Mango Salsa that’s both colorful and bursting with seasonal flavors.¬†Simply toss together 1/2 tbsp. Honey, 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar, ¬† 1 tsp. Sesame Oil, 2 tsp. Chopped Mint, 1/4 c. Diced Mango and 1/4 c. Halved Cherries. The perfect side for a light, fruity entree!

mango cherry relish

Quinoa & Edamame Burgers (a.k.a. Your Dinner Table’s Next Meatless Marvel)

Trivia Question: how does a self-proclaimed foodie, who really really loves veggie burgers, cope on Friday night when her boyfriend ditches her (but all is forgiven, Broski!) for some old-school Nintendo 64?

By creating a kickass recipe to satisfy said veggie burger cravings! Obvi.

I’m not vegan, but I do have a healthy appreciation for vegan cooking. So, that’s exactly what we have here — veggies, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. ¬†Pure, nutritional deliciousness! And I can assure even the most committed carnivores out there that this burger hits the spot.

Nope. You won’t miss the meat.

Don’t believe me? Alrighty, then. Make it yourself. (I’ll just be over here, chanting: “told ya so!”)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1/4 cup Quinoa (cooked)
  2. 1 tbsp. Mushrooms (diced)
  3. 2 tbsp. Roasted Red Peppers (diced)
  4. 2 tbsp. Edamame
  5. 2 tbsp. Rolled Oats
  6. 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

veggie burger ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Preheat a small saucepan on a medium-high stovetop setting, then cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. Preheat a small skillet on a low stovetop setting, then saute the mushrooms and roasted red peppers for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Puree the edamame in a blender or food processor until coarsely mashed, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Puree the mushrooms and red peppers in a blender or food processor until they reach the same consistency as the edamame, then transfer to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the quinoa, rolled oats, and mustard into the mixing bowl, then stir until the ingredients combine to form a slightly “mushy” texture.
  6. Mold this mixture into patties (I made 1 large patty, but you could just as easily make 2-3 small patties), then transfer them to another skillet and turn the stovetop setting to medium.
  7. Cook the burgers for approximately 5 minutes on each side, then remove from heat and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

veggie burger before

  • Serving Suggestion:

Play off the Asian-inspired flavor of the edamame by wrapping your veggie burger in a Nori sheet (dried seaweed) instead of a traditional bun. Not only will the crisp saltiness please your palate, but it’s also a much healthier swap-out.

In fact, while we’re at it, why not continue this plant-based theme we’ve got going and substitute cheese for cashew cream? It’s a snap to whip up and makes a tasty topper for our veggie burger.

Simply soak 2 tbsp. raw cashews in 1/4 cup water for 1-2 hours (feel free to skip this step if you’re pressed for time), then drain and toss the cashews into a blender, along with 1 garlic clove, 3 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Puree these ingredients until smooth, then spread the cream on your patty.

veggie burger after

¬†Aaaaaaand….Dinner is served!