Well, Hello There!  Likely you won't get to this post until after Thanksgiving... I really wanted to get these recipes out to you all earlier this month however, I'm just now sitting down to write them up and hopefully, pumpkin isn't boring to you yet.  If you're anything like me, pumpkin and squash are almost never boring.  They're in my top ten of favorite foods, especially since I've been eating mostly grain-free.  Winter squash is so nourishing in this Fall/Winter season -sweet, earthy and satisfying, packed with antioxidants and very beneficial for the spleen and balancing for digestion. That being said, some of these recipes do contain heavier, sweeter foods like cashews, coconut milk, and dates, so do enjoy them in a balanced way along with warm herbal teas, fresh fruits and plenty of greens.

The Fall/Winter holidays really test our relationship to our selves, our bodies and what we put into them.  It's so easy to drink more alcohol, and eat more sugar and rich foods.  In sharing these recipes, my hope it to inspire you to elevate the sweets you are eating by first, taking out refined white sugar, and second, adding in nutrient-dense foods like chia and well...pumpkin of course! ;)   My experience is that by removing refined white sugar, the food is literally less addictive, and that by adding in nutrient-dense foods, we feel satisfied with balanced portions.  Try doing both of these maneuvers to any of your recipes and see how you feel. 1) remove the refined white sugar and replace it with a whole food sweetener, and use less of it. 2) add in nutrient-dense superfood ingredients.  Experimentation in the kitchen can be really fun and results don't have to be perfect, so take the pressure off, you body will thank you for less sugar and more nutrients. Enjoy the season! xoJennifer

 Pumpkin Chia Pudding


This recipe is an easy winner.  It takes almost zero prep, minimal effort and moderate patience. Chia puddings are great for quick breakfasts as well as light desserts, I alway recommend adding fresh seasonal fruits to bump up color, flavor and overall enjoyment.  Don't fool yourself, served in a wine glass with beautiful sliced fruits and toasted toppings like coconut and pecans, this chia pudding can be excellent as a dinner party parfait too. 

Ingredients and procedure

1 15oz can full fat coconut milk

3/4 cup pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato puree (canned or fresh)

3-4 pitted Medjool dates

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup chia seeds

2-3 tablespoons filtered water

Place coconut milk, pumpkin, dates, and spices, vanilla, and sea salt in high speed blender.  Blend on high until smooth.  Pour mixture into medium sized bowl and whisk in chia seeds.  Stir continuously until seeds are evenly swirling in the mixture.  Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes and then stir again.  Repeat.  If pudding is getting very thick and the chia seeds are still not fully softened and swelled add 2-3 tablespoons of water and whisk mixture to combine evenly.  Serve immediately or store safely in refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Enjoy

Pumpkin Paleo Breakfast Bake


This recipe is like a pumpkin pie except without the crust, less sweet and more spicy.  Serve this warm for breakfast or as dessert. 

Ingredients and procedure

1 can pureed pumpkin, sweet potato or butternut squash (or the real pureed deal)

1/4 cup almond meal flour

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of sea salt

twist of black pepper

3 large eggs

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (optional) -or you can pour that directly on top while eating...

toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted shredded coconut and drizzled warm coconut milk (optional toppings)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  In medium sized bowl, combine pureed squash or sweet potato, almond flour, and all spices with a fork or electric mixer.  In small bowl beat eggs lightly, add in coconut milk and maple syrup.  Pour liquid into squash mix and combine with fork or hand mixer.  Grease 4 small ramekins or 9" pie pan with coconut oil and pour in mixture, divide evenly between ramekins if using them. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the mixture has set.  Allow to cool before serving. Top with toasted shredded coconut and pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of warm coconut milk, if desired.  Stores easily in refrigerator up to 4 days for freshest flavor.  Enjoy


Pumpkin Chai Chocolate Tart


Ok, I saved the best for last here people.  Warning, it's also the most complicated, time consuming and intuitive.  That being said, it's WOW and a major crowd pleaser.  This is basically a plant-based dessert with a cheesecake-like consistency however it's made from cashews (sorry nut-allergy folks, I'm getting to you in upcoming blog posts) instead of dairy. The other beauty of this recipe is it can easily be made ahead and kept frozen until the day of serving.  I recommend making this in mini cheesecake molds or a large 9" springform pan.  Whatever you choose for your occasion lightly grease your pan with coconut oil first. 

Ingredients and procedure

for the crust:

1 cup toasted pecans (toast at 300F on parchment-lined baking sheet for approximately 6-8 minutes.  Allow to cool before using.)

1 cup toasted walnuts (same as above)

6-8 Medjool dates, pitted

1/2- 3/4 raw cacao powder 

2 pinches of sea salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch of cayenne (optional) 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until raw "dough" forms.  The mixture should hold together easily when pressed between your fingers.  Add more or less cacao powder to achieve your desired level of chocolaty-ness.  Better to start with less and add more.  Press dough into 12 individual mini cheesecake tins (about 1 tablespoon of dough/ mini cheese cake tin) or large springform pan, depending on your desired outcome.  Place crust in freezer until ready to add pumpkin chai filling. (It's likely you will wind up with more raw crust than you actually need for the dessert. You can freeze and save for later or eat like a raw truffle, cookie dough, etc.)

for the filling:

3 cups cashews, soaked for 6 hours, rinsed and drained

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

3/4 cup medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup maple syrup

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1+  teaspoon of each: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

12-15 seeds from a cardamon pod (use a nut and spice grinder to grind fresh seeds if you have one) (or 1 tsp powdered) 

1-2 teaspoons Chai Essence spray (if you can find this product)

2 tablespoons agar/water liquid (see instructions below)

Place cashews, pumpkin puree, dates, maple syrup, 1/2 of lemon juice, coconut oil, and spices into high speed blender.  Blend on high until smooth, this may take some stopping/starting to get all ingredients incorporated. Taste and add more lemon juice and spices if needed until you are happy with the flavor.  Set aside.

In small sauce pan combine approximately 1 teaspoon of agar flakes with 3 tablespoons of water and heat gently.  Stir constantly with small spatula to dissolve agar flakes.  Watch liquid carefully to make sure agar flakes are dissolving.  The water will continue to evaporate and small bubbles will form on bottom of the sauce pan.  Don't be scared, this is what you want to see happening.  If water evaporates too much before agar flakes are dissolved, add a small amount of water and continue stirring until flakes are dissolved and you're left with approximately 2 tablespoons of liquid.  Pour agar liquid into blended pumpkin/cashew base and blend on high for about 15-20 seconds, or until you think agar liquid has been evenly incorporated into the mixture. 

Note: This one little addition, though time consuming, will yield a startling difference in the texture and stability of your final product.  The tart will hold up beautifully even when defrosted and out of the refrigerator for several hours.  Also the final consistency will have a bit more solidity to it which makes for an overall more satisfying texture and mouth-feel.  

Pour the mixture into your mini cheesecake molds or your larger springform pan.  You will have enough volume to make a decadent 9" cake.  Freeze until ready to defrost for service, at least 1.5 hours to set.  To decorate, if you like the look and addition of fresh pomegranate seeds press these in before freezing the cake(s).  A nice chocolate melted chocolate drizzle, cookie cutouts made from left over crust/dough, and coconut whipped cream are also great options.  

Enjoy! If you try these recipes would love to hear how they turn out for you!!