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Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

As soon as the first crisp days of autumn arrive, I subconsciously, and rather rapidly, begin to shift my diet to match the shifting environment that surrounds me. Outside my window, I admire the many shades of orange spreading across the sky. Then soon after, near as many orange hues start appearing on my kitchen counters.

Squash of every variety, and sweet potatoes too, fill up my empty wooden baskets, my ceramic plates, and now my mason jars, too.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

When Williams Sonoma kicked off this week with the theme of “Not Your Average Smoothie”, naturally I knew I needed to throw some squash into my blender.

I’m all about going outside the traditional smoothie box, and I’m also all about squash, so it seemed like a perfect platform for experimentation.

I turned on my oven, said bottoms up, and began getting to work.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

I decided upon butternut, loving its creaminess in soups that I often create with apples. I figured, why wouldn’t that be delicious iced and turned into a smoothie, too?

After testing out this smoothie several times, I finally came up with a recipe that’s a little weird, a little wild, yet totally straw-worthy and insanely refreshing.

Through my testing, I learned to save the oven for the squash soup, and stick to steaming for the smoothie. Steaming enables the squash to stay juicer and not as dense so you end up with a shake that has a nice light, whipped consistency. Along with some spirited spice – curry powder and a kick of cayenne (ow ow!) – this smoothie embodies some of fall’s best warming qualities while remaining refreshing till the last sip.

Feel free to try swapping the butternut with sweet potato, or even pumpkin. Just be mindful of possibly needing to adjust the liquid. If you want to step further out of the box, add some spinach. I did this to one batch, and the results were great (even if it sounds a little weird). To get a little wilder, top your smoothie with toasted walnuts or pecans. Or an extra kick of that spicy cayenne, if you like it hot.

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Healthy Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

‘Tis the season for pumpkin-everything. I much prefer mine in its whole form as opposed to its pseudo form, and so I give an annual “no thank you” to the kind that’s making appearances in places it shouldn’t be. No thank you “pumpkin” cream cheese. No thank you high fat “pumpkin” lattes. Yes please, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin dessert, and everything else you’ll find down below.

Pumpkin does have its place, and I can certainly jump on the October pumpkin bandwagon, as long as it’s showing up on the right spoon. Are you with me?

If so, great. Let’s be friends. Let’s also dive into this pumpkin recipe roundup together containing some of my all-time favorite pumpkin creations. Here, you’ll find a little something for everyone (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan), all meals, and occasions. You’ll also find a few pumpkin-y desserts, which are for sure worth the annual indulgence. That vegan pumpkin custard might be one of my favorite recipes of my repertoire, and it takes just 20 minutes and one pan to make! So come on already, pass over the pumpkin, please.

Pumpkin Coconut Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Coconut Overnight Oats

Breakfast made easy-peasy, creamy and delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

 Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Breakfast, lunch, snack-time, dessert…you name it. These half-whole-wheat, part-pumpkin-filled muffins, will make you feel good about the pastry in your hands.

Sage Pumpkin Hummus

Sage Pumpkin Hummus

 I love flavor variations of hummus. This one speaks of a harvest fall. Throw some toasted pita by its side and you have a wonderful appetizer for any gathering of the season.

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Crispy Brown Rice Cakes with Avocado and Egg

Crispy Brown Rice Cakes with Avocado and Egg

April showers bring May flowers. And rainy rides to work.

Thank god for rain pants, otherwise I would’ve been one soaking mess at the office today. I hate driving, and I hate the majority of Philly’s public transit systems. So unless there’s some kind of lightning zombie apocalypse, you can generally catch me on my bike if I’ve got places to be.

If this sounds like you – invest in some rain pants. I’ve been borrowing a friend’s this week, and they are a savior. You could say they’re kind of like meals like this – good to keep around for when you need to be somewhere quick but still want to treat yourself well.

Okay, so maybe that rain pant / crispy brown rice cake comparison is a bit of a stretch. But both have served me well this past week. Hence, here I am, laying out a thank you to each on my blog today. So be it. I’ll blame the weather on this rambling blog post, if need be.

Let’s cut to the chase. There is certainly no debate around whether or not a ripe avocado is a savior in all lunchtime situations. It is, it is, it is. And if you’ve got brown rice cooked and stored in your fridge, you can use it to turn a breakfast-like combo into an interesting meal like this in no time.

Not dissimilar to avocado toast, this simply swaps the bread for crispy, wholesome rice used as a base and spiced as you desire. Feel free to play around with the toppings, or keep it simple like this. Following April showers, serve with an obligatory side of flowers.

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Quick Spring Eats

Spring so far has been more about cleaning than cooking. It’s been all about salad days — Mac DeMarco included. Morning runs — some in shorts and a t-shirt!(!!)  And quick, unplanned dinners. It’s been about leisurely minutes spent outside, explorations with friends, and cleaning my psyche. (I hope you didn’t think by cleaning, I meant my apartment. Currently, my laundry’s flooding my room, and likely covering up the dust that’s swimming down beneath it. Hey – that could be considered laundering the floor though, right?)

Sometimes, when spring calls, you’ve just got to shift your priorities a bit and soak up all that sun that bright sky is shining down. However, that doesn’t mean turning your diet to crap. Short on time certainly doesn’t mean pizza night should be every night.

Let's eat

For Lunch/Dinner: When you can have a few quick and easy recipes up your back sleeve, your spring cleaning will feel so much more CLEAN. As I said, I’ve been doing a lot of salad. Raw greens are my go-to, largely because their heartiness can take on a lot, and because they’re easy to make a meal out of. Add grains. Add beans. Maybe add herbs or cheese. Add nuts. Add other veggies. Definitely add avocado. Create a salad that feels like much more than a salad, so you can feel both healthy and excited. The best part? When you start with a base of raw kale or collards, you can make a huge bowl on Sunday night, and have something already made you can munch on all week. Throw this Tahini Dressing on it, and you’ll be golden.

Chia Overnight Oats

For Breakfast: If you’re like me, and you’ve been using the spring weather to get up early and bike/run/read/whatever — or if you’re not, perhaps consider doing so; it feels great  — it’s ideal to have a breakfast that’s both energizing and quick. I HATE rushing around in the morning. It starts my day off on a stressed out note. But when going for a run in the morning, I can’t say I love waking up extra, extra early either. My solution? Have breakfast prepared the night before.

Here’s where overnight oats comes in. I’ve definitely featured a few of these recipes before on my blog. I’m still eating it on the regular, and am still loving how satisfying it is. Plus, it’s made in advance so you literally need just one minute in the morning to pull it out of the fridge, top it with nuts, and drizzle maple syrup on top — leaving all your other morning minutes to relax and fuel up. See below for the recipe to my latest chia seed rendition.

Curried Ketchup Cabbage and Potato Stir-Fry

For Lunch/Dinner: Another go-to is breakfast-for-dinner. Pack your breakfast with veggies, and this becomes an incredibly quick health-for-your-buck kind of meal. My breakfast of choice this past week? Eggs a la Curried Ketchup Potato Cabbage Stir-Fry.

There’s a beer garden in Philly that turns simple snacks into memorable menu items solely by the curried ketchup they offer on the condiments table. I’m pretty sure all they do is add a little curry powder to regular store-bought ketchup – which is what I do with my potato/cabbage breakfast-for-dinners.

There’s no set recipe here. Dice 1 large onion and 1 large potato, and saute in some olive oil until the onion is caramelized. Meanwhile, slice up about 1/2 head cabbage. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of ketchup to the pan, along with a palmful of curry powder. Stir, and then add the cabbage. Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar, and cook over medium heat. If cabbage begins to stick, add 1/3 cup of water, and cover pan with a lid. Finish cooking until cabbage is tender, 8-10 minutes in total, adding a few red chili pepper flakes if you want it spicier. Top with a pan-fried egg, and serve.

Don’t worry. I’ll be back to cooking up slightly more elaborate meals pretty soon once the novelty of spring wears off. And if that doesn’t happen, then the abundance of early season veggies on their way is bound to get me back in the kitchen. I’m getting antsy just thinking about it.

What’s your favorite spring meal? Or your favorite quick meal to make?

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Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger & Turmeric Apple Compote

Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger, & Turmeric Apple Compote

I’ve been on a turmeric kick lately, which is great because there are 101 health benefits associated with it. It’s a huge antioxidant-powered anti-inflammatory, meaning it can aid in everything from reducing arthritis pain to heart disease prevention.

It’s also frequently used in Chinese Medicine to treat depression, and it’s been shown to delay liver damage. With how brutal this winter’s been, it’s no wonder I’ve been consuming so much of the stuff. How else am I going to counteract all that alcohol I’ve been consuming as a result of my snow-induced depression? Kidding of course.

I will admit, however, a ginger-lemon-honey-turmeric tonic makes a great morning choice after a night out on the town. As does this breakfast.

Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger, & Turmeric Apple Compote

In drink form or not, my turmeric intake often goes hand in hand with my ginger intake. The two make great partners in the kitchen, both in terms of health and flavor rationale. (Ginger’s another one of those anti-inflammatory, detoxifying godsends.)

Thus, it seemed only natural to take them to my apples for a Saturday morning breakfast. Sweetened with a little raw honey, which gets counter-balanced with a little lime, this brings a wonderful way to wake up. Plus, did I mention there’s peanut butter in this? Is there any better way to wake up than with that? For this PB-junkie, the answer is no.

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