Stuff it, stuff it real good: Pumpkin stuffed with kale, asparagus, almonds, coconut milk and smokey cashew nut cream

During the holidays, as a vegetarian, I refuse to settle for side dishes or a store bought mock turkey as my meal.  I need a tasty impressive main meal – so my centerpiece is a stuffed pumpkin – typically stuffed with cheese and cream. As tasty as the dish is, I knew this could be made without any dairy and remain tasty. A hint of cayenne and hickory smoke, cream from cashews and coconut milk, almonds for a crunch and veggies for nutrition – this dairy-free gluten-free stuffed pumpkin has been a hit over the holidays.

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Break Bad and Bake Bread: Spiced Zucchini Pumpkin Chia Bread with Pecans and Cranberries

Up until two weeks ago, I was really on top of eating clean, but after the election, I found myself struggling to eat well. Thanksgiving this year really inspired me to make a change – get out of my rut. But that did not turn off my cravings. The cold weather combined with the holiday feeling left me with the craving for warm bread…so I made one that would keep me healthy and happy.  What better than a slice of a healthy flavorful bread and a cup of tea. This whole wheat, oat, zucchini, pumpkin, cranberry, pecan, chia bread made with psyllium husk, sweetened with dates and spiced with green cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove will keep you satisfied. It was moist, filling and full of flavor.

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Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat: Flourless sugarless pumpkin almond cookies sweetened with dates

September through November  marks the craziest months for us – yes in terms of work, but really in terms of birthday parties. Every weekend for about 8-10 weekends we are booked – sometimes doubly and triply booked – for birthday parties. Now my daughter is obsessed with cake and cookies and ice cream and wants them all the time everytime. I can’t control what other people serve, but I can teach her that that healthier more nutritious versions can be enjoyable as well. So continuing on with the pumpkin fest, I made flourless pumpkin almond butter cookies make with pumpkin and pumpkin spice and sweetened with dates.  
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Great balls of pumpkin: Flourless fresh pumpkin, flax, macademia nut, coconut, and date, spiced energy bites

I need little snacks to munch on when I leave the house or finish working out – something quick, just a few bites and that will sustain me. I often grab a few nuts and a piece of fruit, but sometime I just want something else. So I decided to stock my counter top, fridge and freezer with some small bites that will carry me through the day – so anticipate several posts based on some form of a quick bite. This recipe uses fresh pumpkin, ground flax, macadamia nuts, spices and an optional protein powder covered in pistachios, sunflower seeds  or coconut to make little cold energy bites. The perfect on the go food.

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Everyone hail to the pumpkin song: Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits

So it is October. But in this 90-100 degree weather and unusual humidity you would never guess it is fall. For me fall in the northeast means leaves turning from green to bright yellow, red and orange. Fall means crisp air, fall fashion, hot apple cider, decorating pumpkins and eating squash. I may be in shorts and a tank, but squash is abundant. And despite the weather, I felt like a fall meal – soup and biscuits…my way. Gluten free, dairy free, spiced and satisfying. Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits. I would eat this any day of the year.

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It’s the great pumpkin cheezcake: Spiced lemon pumpkin cashew nut “cheesecake” with nut date crust

So one of the best parts about being married to an expat is that you get to go visit their family in their home country every so often. Every other year, around Christmas time, we go to France. While the food in France elicits nothing short of a mouthgasm, around the holidays with the multiple family parties and birthdays, it is rich, decadent and overwhelming.  I try to make a meal or a dish here and there to lighten the fare. I don’t speak French so I find sharing experiences and communicating through food a beautiful way to express love. I will make them food they will be pleased with because of simple tastes and aesthetic beauty – like apple roses that I upscale to make them unique. But I am Indian and I like spice and complex flavors full of good healthy ingredients – even for sweets (no flour, no refined sugar, no soy…whole food ingredients). So I came up with a spiced  lemon pumpkin cashew nut “cheesecake” with nut date crust.
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