Pumpkin Smoothie

What. is. up?

I was just about to tell you all about the person I’m mad at, the situations I’m frustrated with, and things I’m worried over.  Thats lame though, and really, I don’t think you wanna hear about it.

Instead, I’ll tell you this…

Love well today.  Be grateful for the sunshine.  Delight in the clouds.  Rest in the truth that you are loved.  Share your heart with the people around you.  Be vulnerable enough to real talk a couple of conversations.  Walk into your fear.  Confront what challenges you.  Tell five people you appreciate them.  Find meaning in the silence.
Go for a walk.  Crunch fallen leaves under your feet.  Drink water.  Don’t beat yourself up.  And make a smoothie.

A pumpkin smoothie, of course.  Super simple and full of good for you ingredients.

Literally, it takes less than five minutes to make this smoothie.  All the ingredients blend perfectly into a cold, fall beverage without the guilt (or cost) of a pumpkin frappe.  Winning.

Happy Friday!

Don’t forget to give the next person you see a high five/fist bump… whichever you prefer.

Pumpkin Smoothie

Adapted from Lululemon Blog

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (you can also use vanilla)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • Toasted pecans, optional

Directions

  1. Place pumpkin, banana, protein powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and almond milk in a blender with a few ice cubes.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour smoothie into a glass.  Top with cinnamon and toast pecans.
  3. Now drink it like nobody’s business.

Cinnamon Oat Cashew Milk

The holidays are tough sometimes.  Mostly they get really tough on the waistline.

You know what I’m talking about.  Leftover halloween candy holds you over until Thanksgiving comes, and then you can stuff your face with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and (of course) pie!

Then, as if thats not enough, Christmas parties galore begin.  Cocktail parties, ugly sweater parties, parties to watch Christmas movies.  Its like every type of party you can imagine but Christmas-style.

And at each of these parties people start to whip out their best recipes and entice everyones taste buds with words like chocolate, candy, cheese, and bread.

Really?  All of this in a two month span?  No wonder everyone feels 10 lbs. heavier come January 1st.

Last year I did this crazy, fat shedding diet during the beginning of December.  For two weeks I ate tons of meat and cruciferous vegetables… thats about it.  No starchy carbs, no fats, no sugar.

Whaaat was I thinking?  I asked myself this question a million times during those two weeks.

It was ridiculously hard.  Especially during a time of never-ending feasting.  But, it was kind of nice not to have to think about whether or not I would indulge.  I had already decided that I wouldn’t.  I had a goal and I was sticking to it.

Was it worth?

Physically… not so much.  My goal was to lose fat, and I lost a little, but definitely not what I was anticipating.  It was however, very emotionally and spiritually beneficial because it challenged me to move beyond the immediate satisfaction of food and look to more fulfilling sources.

But, this year I don’t want to do any crazy diets during this season.  I want to enjoy the parties, enjoy the food, enjoy the community.

Its all about balance in the end.  Thats one thing I am learning and continuing to pursue.

But seriously, I don’t wanna gain 10 lbs. between October and January.  So here are a few tips I keep in mind during the holiday seasons that help me indulge and enjoy without going overboard and feeling guilty.

1.  If I’m going to a party I’ll eat dinner before I go.  One, that helps avoid getting too buzzed on alcoholic beverages (which inevitably leads me to justify more sweets), and two it helps me avoid over snacking on those tasty treats that everyone brings.

2. I do my workouts, which kick my butt and leave me with more of a desire to eat clean than if I didn’t do them.  Once I’ve worked out I don’t want to spoil it with terrible eating.

3. When I want to indulge, I let myself do it guilt free.  And I plan it ahead of time.  That way I can anticipate the indulgence and fully enjoy it when it comes.  Planning it out helps avoid guilt when suddenly someone springs a bag of chocolate on me.  I already know when my “splurge times” are so I can kindly decline.

I also like to make my everyday meals delicious and healthy.  Many times people think that “healthy” mean “no taste.”  I completely disagree.

This cashew milk is a great example.

Cashews are awesome.  They have the lowest fat content of all the nuts but the fat they do contain is unsaturated (read: good for you!).  They carry substantial amounts of copper and magnesium which are important for energy, bone health, and nerve functioning.  Plus, they’ve been proven to help with weight management!

The oats and cinnamon add great flavor to this milk, and the honey adds a touch of sweetness.  Oats are great for the heart and cinnamon is suggested to increase metabolism.  Who wouldn’t want to drink this stuff?

It’s also a great addition to coffee, smoothies, or hot chocolate.  But, of course, you can just drink straight out of the glass too.

Cinnamon Oat Cashew Milk

Very slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes just shy of 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 cups water for soaking
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, ground to a powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. Place raw cashews in a clean bowl and put 3 cups water over them.  Let soak for 8-12 hours or overnight.  Transfer cashews to a fine mesh strainer, running cool water over them until water runs clean.
  2. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until they are a fine powder.
  3. Combine cashews, oat powder, cinnamon, honey and filtered water in a blender. Blend on low speed, then increase to high speed, until smooth.
  4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a larger bowl.
  5. Pour half cashew mixture over fine mesh strainer and press with a spatula to work liquid through the strainer.  Continue to strain milk until it has all been processed through the strainer.  *Note: the hard you press the mixture the more bits of oat and cinnamon will end up in the milk.  They’re pretty tasty, but it’s your call if you want them in there or not!*
  6. Place cashew and oat meat mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  7. If you want your milk smoother feel free to run in through the sieve again.
  8. Transfer cashew milk to airtight container and keep in refrigerator.
  9. Don’t forget to shake it up before using!  Milk will last for about 4 days.

Apple Pear Butter

I absolutely love fall in the Pacific Northwest.  Growing up in New Mexico, I never really got to experience the joys of fall.

Crisp, cool air.  Muted sunlight.  Trees colored with brilliant shades of orange, red, and yellow.

Of all the seasons, it’s definitely my fav.  It is so lovely yet there is something so melancholy about the autumn season that resonates with me.  A beauty that is unparalleled, yet fading so quickly.  Too quickly.

That seems to be true of so many things in life.  Intimate moments of connection with people.  Your absolute favorite dessert.  A sunset.  A delicious glass of wine.  A kiss.

All these beautiful moments, so lovely when they arrive but leaving us wanting more when they depart.  I can’t help but feel the desire for more radiant trees, more sunlight, more hot tea on a cool day once the rainy season set in.  And it is a long season.

I think God knew that we would need one last burst of color before the dreary, grey clouds made their way into the skyline.  Its his gift to us.

On another note, I’m totally into this apple pear butter right now.  It’s good.  So good that my boyfriend took 2 jars home with him.  He doesn’t even really like sweet stuff.

And it’s super simple to make!  It’s made in a crockpot so you basically put the ingredients in and let it sit for hours and hours until the apples, pears, cinnamon, and brown sugar turn into “butter.”  It’s kind of like apple sauce, but thicker and with a richer flavor.

Also, I didn’t can mine.  I didn’t have the time or desire to go through that process, but if you want to then go for it!  I’ll totally support that and give you a high five when you finish.

How should you eat this?

Out of the jar is a good start.  You could also…

Spread it on toast.  Stir it into your oatmeal.  Try it in a savory dish with pork or roasted chicken.  Swirl it into your ice cream and then top it with some roasted apples and granola.  Use it as an accompaniment on a cheese plate.  The possibilities are many.

Most importantly, enjoy its goodness.  And savor the tastes of fall.

Apple Pear Butter

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds of anjou pear (about 5)
  • 2 1/2 pounds of gala apples (about 5)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Peel, then grate apples and pears.  (You can core them if you want first.  I didn’t and it helped because the core was like a little “handle” when I was grating them.)
  2. Transfer to a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
  3. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon stick.
  4. Cook in high for about 4 hours.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick, but save it!  We’ll be using that again.
  6. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.
  7. Return mixture and cinnamon stick to the slow cooker and continue cooking for another 4 hours, until mixture is thick and browned.
  8. Remove cinnamon stick and let mixture cool.
  9. Transfer to airtight containers, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.