Vegan, Healthy Chocolate Mousse Pie

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Please excuse the ugly, blob-like excuse for a pie–I was lacking a pan. Thankfully it tasted better than it looked!

I am currently on a diet. It’s a sad time for me.

My brother is getting married in two weeks, and I’m going to be a bridesmaid–my goal is to undo most of my “freshman fifteen” by then. (I’m almost halfway done!) Because of this, any opportunity to eat food makes me unnecessarily excited; I keep finding myself spending much of the day dreaming up new recipes I can try and fit into my diet plan to make myself feel like I’m still eating all the gourmet food I want.

This time, I dreamt up a pie. A paleo, gluten free, mostly raw, vegan chocolate mousse pie, to be exact. So I woke up and I fiddled around in the kitchen until that pie-dream became a reality. And it ended up not only being one of the most nutritious breakfasts of all time, but one that tasted like a decadent, explosively calorific dessert.

But it wasn’t all that calorific at all, considering it was filling enough to be both my breakfast and lunch. And it may have earned the title of the best breakfast I’ve ever had. (Though that could just be the diet talking.) Not to mention it has 20 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein!

Sadly, my cute mini pans are all back at college, so I couldn’t make the crusts continue up the sides like a normal pie–so these photos weren’t very pretty. But, the experience did prompt me to go buy a mini pan today to keep at home!

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Makes one 6″ pie

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed (I used golden)
  • 1 tbsp protein powder (can replace with any of the above ingredients)
  • 1 tbsp chocolate hazelnut butter, or almond butter
  • 1 tbsp or more of coconut, almond, or soymilk
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • **You could also add dates if desired

For the filling:

  • 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 cold avocado
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut, almond, or soymilk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 pinches cinnamon
  • Sweetener and/or salt (optional)
  • Add-ins & topping options: espresso powder, sea salt, coconut shreds, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dates

Directions

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the flours, flax seed, protein powder, and salt if desired. Add the nut butter and mix until evenly combined. Add non-dairy milk of your choice until it turns into a dough like consistency; the amount will vary depending on your protein powder.

2. Press crust into a small pie or springform pan, and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until it begins to crisp up and turn golden at the edges.* You can either press the crust just into the bottom of the pan (like I had to for these photos), or have it continue up the sides like a normal pie. Remove from the oven to cool.

3. Make the filling: Place all the filling ingredients (except for toppings) into a food processor and blend until smooth.

4. Once the crust has cooled, spoon the filling into it. Eat it on the spot, or store it in your fridge or freezer. Serve chilled!

*If you want to make it raw, freeze the crust instead.

Calories per pie: ~450

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My makeshift crust, since I didn’t have a proper pan!

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Vegan Caramelized Banana Bread Quinoa Porridge [Low Cal]

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I’ve been in a bit of a breakfast rut lately. I’ve been making brunches for my family every weekend, but I’d never eat those kinds of things on my own: non-vegan french toast and parfaits, oh my! I have my usual avocado berry breakfast smoothie every morning–or occasionally my new tropical bowl, which I’ll have to post another time–but I haven’t come up with a new, vegan, gourmet breakfast recipe in over a week. (That’s a long time for me!) I decided that this had to change. It is summer, after all!

I ended up wanting to go back to my quinoa porridge concept from the last week of the semester. Instead of pumpkin, I turned to a differ flavor I was craving: banana bread. Last weekend, my boyfriend brought me half a loaf of his mom’s (absolutely scrumptious) banana bread, and I managed to eat the entire thing in the span of a few hours. After a huge bread-filled brunch. That’s just not right.

Anyways. I got my banana bread fix in a much, much healthier way that I could actually feel good about. And even though it lacked the refined flours and sugars that the true bread version had, I’d argue that it tastes just as good!

Give it a try–you won’t regret it! If you don’t like quinoa, feel free to sub in your favorite oats.

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Makes a little over a cup, or ~300 mL

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy, coconut, or almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 3 pinches cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Half-pinch of salt (optional)
  • Cashew cream or non-dairy yogurt (optional)
  • 1 tbsp walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
  • Optional add-ins: chia seeds, flax, protein powder

Directions

1. Rinse your quinoa, and pour it along with 3/4 cup water in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let it cook about 15 minutes, or until you can see the germ ring and it’s soft with an oatmeal-like consistency.

2. Prepare the caramelized banana: cut 5 slices for garnish and set aside, if desired. Mash the rest of the banana. Transfer the slices to a saute pan over medium heat and cook until browned on both sides. Set aside. Put the mash in the pan and saute it until slightly browned and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.

3. Prepare the cream topping (optional): Mix cashew cream or yogurt with 1/2 tsp maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon.

4. Once the quinoa is soft, add the mashed banana and your milk of choice until it’s at your desired consistency. If you add too much, you can just cook it down again. Add the nutmeg, 1/2 tsp maple syrup, and 2 pinches of cinnamon, or to taste.

5. Pour into a bowl and top with the maple cream, walnuts, and caramelized banana slices.

Calories: 325 without walnuts and yogurt; ~400 with

Enjoy your fancy (but easy to make) breakfast!

Michelle

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Porridge [Low Cal]

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I have trouble letting go of winter and autumn foods by the time spring rolls around. Something about pumpkin spice, warm apple pies, winter squashes and brussels sprouts, and steaming soups and porridges just makes me want to eat them regardless of how hot it is outside.

When I cook for other people, though, I have to at least try to be season-appropriate–and when I’m home for the summer, I’m a bit addicted to cooking for my friends and family. So, I decided to give myself a last winter hurrah before I moved back home, and treated myself to this pumpkin pie porridge before one of my last finals.

I may continue to have this dish on those slightly-less-hot summer days simply because of how how delicious it is… and I’ll have to come up with an apple pie version, too!

Serves 1 (about 1.5 cups)

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (add more to taste)
  • Dash of cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, or of premade pumpkin spice
  • Maple syrup or sweetener to taste
  • Toppings: cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, cranberries, walnuts, etc.

Directions

1. In a pan over medium heat, combine soymilk, pumpkin puree, and quinoa. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa are split and soft and the mixture has thickened to an oatmeal-like texture.

2. Remove pan from heat, and add in the spices and sweetener. You may want to add another splash of milk if you like a less thick consistency.

3. Add toppings if desired, and serve hot!

Calories: 300 (using a 0 calorie sweetener and unsweetened soymilk)

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One-hour Cinnamon Rolls

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As someone who eats almost entirely vegan but indulges in dairy on rare occasion, my strategy for coming up with particularly tricky veganized versions of classic dishes often involves attempting to make the original versions first. In order to try to make a vegan version as similar as possible, I’ll taste some of the original to get an idea of what I’m aiming for, and give the rest away to friends. I try to avoid making non-vegan food whenever possible, but with cinnamon rolls, I knew I needed a reference point; I’d never made them before, and had no idea what homemade ones should taste like!

And this slightly modified version of a recipe from Averiecooks turned out amazingly. In fact, I was shocked at their resemblance to Cinnabon, especially considering that these only took an hour. The insides were tender and buttery, and the sweetness was perfectly offset by the tartness of the cream cheese frosting; my friends devoured them within minutes. I even added a splash of Bailey’s to the frosting for some St. Patrick’s weekend spirit!

As for the vegan version coming up: hopefully, curdling some soymilk will have a similar effect to the buttermilk called for, Earth balance should easily replace the butter, and I’ll be substituting Daiya cream cheese in for the frosting. If you try these (or other) substitutions, let me know how it goes!

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Makes about eight 3″ cinnamon rolls

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk, warmed
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Inside filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very soft
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, very soft
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (Or more if you like it sweeter)
  • ~1 tbs half and half, milk, or Bailey’s, to your desired consistency
  • Dash of vanilla

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Directions

(See photos of the whole process below!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ round or square pan.

2. Combine flour, buttermilk, yeast, oil, salt, and sugar in a bowl, and mix until it begins to form a ball. Turn onto a large cutting board or other clean surface, and knead for about 5 minutes either by hand or with a stand mixer. The ball should be smooth, no longer sticky, and getting difficult to knead.

3. Using a rolling pin or similar shaped object (since my rolling pin is back home, I had to use a jar!), roll out the dough until it is about 9″13 inches–you can use your 9″ pan for reference.

4. Spread the butter across the dough leaving a small margin at the edges. In a bowl, combine the sugars and cinnamon; sprinkle the mixture across the top of the butter in an even layer.

5. Starting with the longer side, roll the dough relatively tightly into a log. Depending on how large you want your cinnamon rolls, cut the log at 1-2″ intervals using a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss.

6. Arrange your rolls in the pan leaving at least 1/2″ between them, and reshape them a bit if they got squished during the cutting process. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the exposed parts of the dough aren’t squishy when tapped. (Warning: if you don’t leave a bit of space between the rolls when you first put them in the pan, the dough between them could end up raw, and they will be hard to separate! They’ll spread out into each other as they bake, so leave them a little room to do that.)

7. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla, and add liquid(s) of your choice until it reaches your desired consistency.

8. Remove the rolls from the oven, top with glaze, and serve immediately! Some of the cinnamon-sugar-butter sauce will be at the bottom of the pan; we found scooping it back on top of the rolls was a fun sort of second glaze!

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Recipe: Avocado Berry Smoothie [Vegan]

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People are always telling me how much they love avocados. I suppose it’s because I’m a foodie, but self proclaimed avocado fanatics tend to bring it up in conversation more than I’d expect.

But in my book, you aren’t a true avocado fanatic until you’ve embraced the avocado smoothie. Or the mousse. Or any other delectable sweet avocado concoction that, when mentioned, elicits a look of disgust from the aforementioned “avocado fanatics.” It’s as if non-savory avocado dishes are some kind of taboo; but come on people, they’re fruits!

My family, who are pretty neutral on the avocado-loving spectrum, thought I was crazy when I mentioned that avocado smoothies should be a thing. After two minutes searching for recipes, I found that it was indeed a thing, and decided to make my own: basically just avocado and milk (with some flavorings of course). And my family actually ended up liking it.

This recipe is a slightly more complex version of my original avocado smoothie (which I might also be sharing if people want it), and is pretty much a healthy-skin cocktail: it’s chock full of healthy fats and antioxidants. I’d imagine it’d also be a great pre-workout snack because of the combination of available carbs and fats!

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Makes one smoothie.

Ingredients

The amounts are estimates, so play around with the ratios until you get your favorite combos!

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries + 3 ice cubes)
  • 1/2 banana, pre-sliced and frozen
  • 1-3 tbs protein powder (optional)
  • 1 tbs acai powder (optional, but delicious)
  • 1/4 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (or more to your desired consistency)
  • Dash vanilla
  • ~1 tsp lemon (or lime juice). If you have a bitter avocado, add more to taste
  • Agave nectar if desired
  • Handful of kale, oats, or other add-ins

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Directions

Combine all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth, without chunks of frozen fruit or ice. Play with the amounts to find  your favorite ratios!

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Recipe: Baked Vegan Vanilla Doughnuts

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People always look at me like I’m a wizard whenever they hear I make doughnuts. They tend to respond as if they’re some rare species of baked good that only Krispy Kreme holds the sacred knowledge to. But those of us who’ve made them know how simple they really are.

A few weeks ago, I brought a batch of chocolate peppermint ones (they tasted like thin mints!) to a vegan bakesale hosted at a local grocery store, which also happens to be one of my favorite stores in town. When they saw that I’d made doughnuts and I mentioned that I’m currently doing freelance catering, they offered me a job baking for the store. Now, three times a week, I deliver batches of vegan gingerbread doughnuts, chocolate doughnuts, pumpkin muffins, and brownies to them. Thanks to the aforementioned awe that doughnuts seem to elicit from people, I was able to get more routine baking work (compared to my more chaotic catering) that fits perfectly into my busy student’s schedule!

I hope these doughnuts will bring you as much luck as they’ve brought me. The recipe only took a few rounds of testing to come up with, and the best part is that it’s a simple vanilla base, that you can add just about anything to. I’ll be sharing my recipes for peppermint, chocolate, and gingerbread varieties in other posts, too!

They’re soft, pillowy, and almost impossible to resist!

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Makes a dozen 5-6″ diameter doughnuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups vegan white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (can sub in applesauce)
  • 3/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar (can sub white vinegar)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 + 1/2 cup water

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 6-hole doughnut pans.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

3. In another small bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet. Mix just until lumps are gone. Add more water if needed to get a batter consistency–it should pour easily.

5. Pour batter into doughnut cups until about 2/3-3/4 full.

6. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Recipe: Peach Banana Breakfast Smoothie [Vegan]

My favorite part about smoothie making is the ability to completely improvise, and still end up with an amazing smoothie. This time, I happened to have some peach slices on hand in addition to my usual bananas and berries, so I experimented with a new combo. I thought it turned out so well, I wanted to share it with you guys! (I usually keep most of my various smoothie concoctions to myself since they seem more obvious than this particular combination.)

If you’re interested in a more fall-inspired flavor, check out my pumpkin banana smoothie recipe!

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Makes one large glass.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2-1 peach
  • Handful of strawberries
  • 1/4-1/3 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/3 cup soy, almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • Pinch of ginger (fresh or powdered)
  • 1-3 ice cubes (optional)

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Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Add more liquid (milk or yogurt) or solids (oats or fruit) as necessary until the smoothie is at your desired consistency.

3. Pour into glass, and garnish it with fruit, oats, or nuts if you want to.

And enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by,

Michelle

Recipe: Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

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Last summer, before I was as committed to building up my vegan recipe arsenal as I am now, I shared a recipe for banana crumb muffins. Yesterday, we had some leftover bananas lying around, and I felt like making something as healthy and as portable as those muffins, but that would be vegan and just as tasty. Instead of thinking of something completely new, I just decided to veganize them! I didn’t put the crumb topping on this one, but that could easily be whipped up with some flour, cinnamon, and vegan margarine.

I actually ended up liking them more than the originals, and my vehemently non-vegan friends and family members couldn’t tell that they were egg and dairy-free. That’s my usual strategy for vegan recipe-testing: if unbiased (or biased in the opposite direction) tasters find them to be as good as my non-vegan items, they’ve passed the test!

These muffins passed with flying colors, and I’ll definitely be making them frequently. They’re easy to whip up in a pinch, and they’re low on fat!

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Makes a dozen.

Serving size: one muffin. Calories per serving: 220 (oil), 180 (applesauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (Use applesauce instead for lower fat)
  • 1 cup soy, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2c vegan chocolate chips (Can be replaced with blueberries)
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease or line a 12-cup  muffin pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flours, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. Mash the banana, and mix it with the oil or applesauce, milk, water, and vanilla. Stir this into the dry mixture until combined.

3. Add oats, chocolate, chips, and walnuts if desired. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

4. Allow to cool for 3 minutes in the pan before moving them to a wire rack.

And enjoy your (nearly) guilt-free treat!

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Recipe: Blueberry Pecan Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

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That title may be a mouthful, but I feel like each word is important. Not only is the recipe baked instead of fried, but it can be made the night before in casserole form (as opposed to each individual piece of french toast), and can be popped into the oven in the morning. Which means one very important thing: less fuss all around!

In the past, my mom would wake up at 5am on Christmas morning to make us julekake, which is a Norwegian Christmas bread dotted with dried fruits. This year, however, I felt like we needed to take it easy. So after late night mass on Christmas eve, I whipped up this casserole. Instead of waking up at 5, I was able to wake up at 9:30 and have it ready to serve it for our traditional pre-present-opening brunch by 10:30. It may not be Norwegian, but it was easy to make, and it got rave reviews! Not to mention, the blueberry syrup that’s paired with it is so versatile, I can see myself making it for tons of other dishes.

Sadly, I have yet to think of a vegan version for this recipe. If anyone has any tips for veganizing it somehow, let me know!

Tweaked from this recipe.

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Serves 6-7.

Ingredients

For casserole

  • a 12-inch loaf of french bread (thick kind) or a 24-inch baguette
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2.5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans (I had to sub in some walnuts and it was still great)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups blueberries

For syrup

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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Directions

Night before:

1. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cut 1-inch slices of bread and lay them in baking dish. In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and 1/4 cup brown sugar and pour evenly over bread.

2. Chill mixture, covered, until all liquid is absorbed by bread, at least 8 hours, and up to 1 day. Halfway through the chilling or an hour or 2 before baking (whichever is more feasible for you), flip the bread layers so that all the sides are able to absorb liquid equally.

Morning of: 

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat. After they’ve toasted slightly, add 1/2 stick butter to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir until butter is melted and pecans are coated.

4. Sprinkle casserole with the butter-pecan mixture and 2 cups blueberries. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until the blueberries are purple or burst and the top layer of bread is slightly browned. (Cooking times will vary based on the type of bread you use, and how thick your layers are.)

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Make syrup while French toast is baking:
5. In a small saucepan cook blueberries and maple syrup over moderate heat until berries have burst, about 3 minutes. Pour syrup through a sieve into a heatproof pitcher, pressing on solids, and stir in lemon juice. Syrup may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat syrup before serving.

6. Serve alone or with sides. (I served it with a pear-blackberry fruit salad.)

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And enjoy your fuss-free breakfast or brunch!

Happy holidays,

Michelle

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Recipe: Pumpkin Banana Breakfast Smoothie [Vegan]

I’m a bit of a pumpkin fiend. Around this time of year, I can’t help but crave it when I least expect to. All too often, I find myself opening a can of pumpkin puree, using half of it in a baking recipe, and leaving the rest in the fridge for a week until I get that next craving for baked things.

By that point, however, my poor puree has usually become inedible. So I had to get creative as to how to use it up quickly without completely destroying my diet plan. I’ve recently been on a breakfast smoothie kick, so I decided I had to incorporate it somehow!

I’d previously  been having my daily mashed sweet potatoes for breakfast, but realized I wasn’t getting quite as much fruit as I’d like to. I switched to breakfast smoothies, and ended up loving how they somehow squashed my cravings for the rest of the morning and afternoon! (I still have my sweet potatoes once or twice a week though as a treat, of course!) And now, this pumpkin banana combo is probably one of my favorite breakfasts. I’d never considered the combination of pumpkin and  banana until I decided to throw it in this smoothie, simply because frozen bananas add such a wonderful creaminess; I’ve discovered that the flavor combo is actually delicious!

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Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2-3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • About 1/3 cup oats**
  • 1-2 pinches cinnamon
  • Pinch ginger
  • Pinch cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegan yogurt
  • Splash of soy, coconut, or almond milk
  • Maple syrup to taste

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Directions

**I like to soak my oats first by adding equal parts water and oats in a jar and putting that into the fridge overnight. Using dry oats is fine too though, depending on what texture you prefer!

1. Combine all ingredients but maple syrup and milk in your blender and blend until smooth.

2. Add the milk until the smoothie is at your desired consistency (I didn’t put a specific amount since I like my smoothies thicker than most people!), and maple syrup to desired sweetness.

And most importantly, enjoy your quick, easy, and healthy breakfast!

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Happy holidays!

Michelle