healthy halloween!

Who doesn’t love pumpkin flavored treats this time of year? Try skipping your pumpkin latte or donut and get your fix with these health supportive pumpkin-inspired recipes instead. Have them for a nutritious breakfast or energizing and healthy treat through out the day. The soup is great to make in advance and have ready for a warm and comforting weeknight dinner.

Pumpkin- Maple Granola Bars
Yields 15 bars
Created by: me

These no-bake granola bars are seriously addicting.. and lucky for us they just happened to be loaded with lots of nutritional goodness.

Wet ingredients
3 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp organic almond extract
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
2/3 cup pumpkin puree

Dry ingredients
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbs. ground flaxseed
2 Tbs. whole wheat or tapioca flour
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chopped figs

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine and stir all wet ingredients for 2 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.  Slowly pour in wet ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into 9×9 square baking dish lined with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches overlay on each side. Wrap one hand in a piece of plastic wrap and firmly press mixture into the bottom of the dish.
Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm.
When they are firm and ready to cut, lift each side by lifting parchment paper and turning upside down on cutting board. Cut into 15 square bars.

Tips: Make sure completely firm before cutting. Wrap individually for a fast and nutritious on-the-go breakfast or snack. Keep refrigerated.

Note: These bars are vegan, raw, and can be gluten-free by using tapioca flour instead of the whole-wheat flour.  Enjoy!

Pumped-Up Smoothie
Servings : 2
Created by: me

Don’t be turned off by the pumpkin in this smoothie- I promise it’s delicious. The banana, yogurt and pumpkin give it a rich and creamy texture, while the ground flax seed adds a natural nuttiness. It also has just the right amount of  natural sweetness.  This fall smoothie packs in almost 800 mg of potassium per serving, a large dose of essential omega 3’s, as well as fiber and protein to keep you satisfied and energized.

3/4 cup pumpkin, pureed and chilled
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 banana, frozen
1/2 cup ice cubes
2 Tbs. ground flaxseed
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1-2 Tbs. honey, maple syrup brown rice syrup
1 medium orange, juiced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, optional

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. May add more ice or juice from orange to get desired consistency. Garnish with some ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin- Sweet Potato Soup
Serves: 4-6

2 tbs olive oil, coconut oil or ghee
1 onion, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp turmeric
½-1 teaspoon favorite curry powder (I use madras organic curry blend)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 14.5-oz. can pumpkin (or 2 heaping cups fresh, peeled and cubed)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed
6 cups vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine, if desired
1/2 can coconut milk, to taste
Lime zest and plain greek yogurt for garnish

In a heavy soup pot, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat, and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery, and stir in the spices. Lower heat and gently cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions.
Add in the pumpkin, sweet potato and vegetable broth, and sherry; stir together. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.
Remove from heat, and puree the soup with an immersion hand blender right in the pot; or puree it batches in a blender or food processor (carefully ladle the soup into a blender not more than half full, cover tightly and puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy; return the puree to soup pot).
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Return the pot to low-medium heat. Stir in the coconut milk and blend till smooth. Warm through gently for ten minutes- don’t boil it.
Serve with a sprinkle of lime zest and dollop of yogurt.

Feel free to add cooked brown rice or lentils towards the end of the warming step to make a heartier soup.

Health Benefits

Pumpkin is rich in carotenoid antioxidants- the compounds that gives the gourd its bright color. Including beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. The caretenoids are also known to aid in cancer prevention, as well as prevent wrinkles, keeping your skin looking radiant and youthful. Pumpkins are also rich in fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

So eat up!  Just be sure to receive all of the health benefits of pumpkin through natural and wholesome recipes, avoiding those that are loaded with refined sugars, flours and hydrogenated oils.

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