It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and I want to apologize for the long absence! Things have been a little busy for me lately between doctor appointments and work but I’ll get to that in another post for another day.
It’s almost my favorite time of year and I wanted to share with you a delicious drink you can enjoy when the weather starts to get chilly.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte – the harbinger of fall. For many, this is the drink that makes an entire season. But even as an occasional fall treat, there’s a couple of issues with the traditional pumpkin spice latte that you can get at a coffee shop.
A typical pumpkin spice latte can contain up to 64 grams of sugar (in a 20 oz. cup)! That’s about 12 teaspoons. No wonder these things are so addictive. But sugar is not part of a healthy diet. While it’s ok to indulge sometimes, you can replace the sugar in your diet with alternatives that support healthy hormones and battle unwanted weight gain.
Did you know most of those drinks you can buy don’t even contain real pumpkin? Why is that a big deal? Because pumpkin is packed with nutrients that feed your brain and support your vision. The rich color translates to high beta-carotene content, a potent antioxidant and a precursor for the essential fat-soluble vitamin A. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is crucial for keeping your eyes young and your bones, skin, and other connective tissue strong. Pumpkin also contains decent levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that support eye and brain health.
So drink on up!
Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice Latte
Makes: 4-6 cups
- 3-4 cups plain brewed coffee (decaf works for this too)
- 1 ¼ cup full fat, unsweetened coconut milk (or any non dairy milk)
- 3 tbsp. organic pumpkin puree (canned is ok!)
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- Optional: 1-2 tsp. xylitol or stevia (to taste)
- Optional: 2 tbsp. raw whipped cream or whipped coconut cream on top
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer for approximately five minutes. Stir well to evenly blend it all together.
- In a high-speed blender, blend on high for 30 seconds until creamy and frothy.
- Optional: add xylitol, monk fruit, stevia, or other natural sweetener.
- Optional: add raw cream/whipped cream on top for a special treat, if you can find it!
It’s important to feel like you can have a treat now and then without spiraling into a blood sugar mayhem. Stick to this recipe for a quick energy boost along with some added nutrients from the pumpkin.
For those of us who may not want coffee, you can still drink it as it is, just leave out the coffee. It makes a great hot drink to sip on before bedtime.
And don’t forget to use a cute mug, cause it’s all about presentation, right?
I love chai tea- hot or cold, it’s hands down one of my favorite teas to drink. The spiciness of the cloves and cinnamon mix so well with the sweetness of almond milk and stevia. Unfortunately I can’t drink most of the premade, premixed drinks due to the added sugars and dairy that just don’t fit into my dietary needs.
There’s an easy and cheap way to make your own cold brew chai tea. Just steep some chai tea bags in water in the refrigerator. One bag for every 1/2 cup of water makes a double strength brew. Then add your choice of dairy free milk and stevia, and it’s done!
It’s a quick and yummy drink that is a great afternoon treat. No blending, measuring, or mixing complicated ingredients.
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan. It would also work well with green tea or any other strong flavor tea that is a favorite of yours.
Want it hot? Just heat up the mixture and blend in your blender for a foamy hot chai tea latte.
- 1 cup chai tea concentrate (see below)
- 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk of choice
- 10-12 drops liquid stevia
- Pour all ingredients into a large jar or cup filled with ice. Stir or shake to combine and enjoy immediately.
To make chai concentrate, place 8 chai tea bags in a jar and add 32 ounces of cold water (you can make more or less if you like – just use 4 ounces of water per tea bag). Cover and steep in refrigerator overnight. It will keep in the fridge for at least a week – I just leave the tea bags in the jar the whole time.
This simple lentil and rice salad is loaded with protein and fiber and is a great way to use up leftovers. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate so you always have a healthy meal on hand. It is dressed with a simple mix of sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and paprika which gives a wonderful light flavor to this salad.
In just a few minutes you can have a healthy and delicious meal!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed, or 1⅓ cups cooked lentils
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add rice, lentils, carrot and parsley; stir to combine.
We all know by now that junk food is bad for us and that we should avoid having sugar in our diets. But what about the foods that are advertised as “healthier” options?
Store bought cereal and granola are some of the most common foods that people think are healthy but when you look closer at ingredients, you will find that they are loaded with sugars and preservatives. What’s worse is they will make claims about being gluten free or whole grain so you are tricked into thinking you are making a wise purchase but you end up eating the same amount of sugar that’s in a doughnut!
So what do you do? Make your own cereal of course! I make this all the time. It’s easy, tastes great and you can make it in big batches so you always have a healthy breakfast or snack ready to go. Plus it’s easily adaptable to suit your tastes. Change up the dried fruit or nuts for a totally different taste! FYI- just make sure the dried fruit you purchase is free of added sugars and preservatives.
- 2 1/3 cup old fashioned gluten-free oats
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 1 cup unsweetened raisins
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, shaking once or twice to ensure even toasting. In the same skillet, toast the coconut for about 1 or 2 minutes, watching closely and stirring so that it doesn’t burn; remove from the skillet.
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, and the granola will keep for up to 1 month. Makes 10, 1/2-cup servings.
Serve room temperature with dairy free yogurt, or by combining 1/2 cup of granola with 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk or water, and simmer in a pan for a few minutes or until the oats are softened.
Who doesn’t love taco Tuesday? This version of a taco salad has fresh flavors and a healthy nutritional profile. It’s gluten free and high in fiber and is quick and easy to make. You can control the heat level by varying the type of salsa you use. Baked corn tortilla chips and a few squeezes of fresh lime juice will take it up a notch. Give this one a try!
- ½ cup prepared salsa
- ½ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces lean ground turkey
- 1 large plum tomato, diced
- ½ cup canned kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- ¼ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (optional)
- Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add turkey and cook, stirring often, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add tomato, beans, cumin, chili powder and salt; cook, stirring, until the tomato begins to break down, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the salsa.
- Add lettuce to the remaining salsa mixture and toss to coat. Divide the lettuce between 2 plates, top with the cooked meat and sprinkle with cheese.