Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

This is probably one of the simplest recipes I’m ever going to post on the blog.  In fact, I hesitate calling in a “recipe” since it’s literally just blending ingredients together.  But since fall is in full swing and I can’t get enough pumpkin in my life, I felt it was only appropriate to share this pumpkin protein smoothie.

pumpkin protein smoothie pinI really love using pumpkin in smoothies because not only does it give the smoothie a nice creamy texture, it’s loaded with good stuff like potassium and Vitamin C, which makes the perfect recovery drink after a hard run.  I’ll get back from my run, throw the ingredients in the blender and then put the smoothie in the fridge to chill while I shower and get ready for the day, since I like my smoothies COLD.

Speaking of cold smoothies, am I the only one who wants them as chilled as possible?  I always load my smoothie up with ice and almond milk, and then leave it in the fridge to chill down even more.  My husband on the other hand, likes his smoothies more at a room temperature and always requests that I leave the ice out, which I can’t even fathom.  I’m the same way with water too – the colder the better.

Whether you like this pumpkin protein smoothie ice-cold or room temperature, you need this smoothie in your life.  It’s almost like pumpkin pie in a glass, but a whole lot healthier.

Pumpkin Protein Smoothie (makes 1)

Ingredients:

1 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp almond butter (pb works great too!)

1 packet or scoop protein powder.  I use brown rice protein

LOTS of ice

Directions:

Place all of your ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Pour in a glass or container of your choice and enjoy (I love using the Starbucks tumbler cups).

pumpkin protein smoothie cup

I’ve found the following items also go great in this pumpkin protein smoothie if you want to amp it up a bit:

– Frozen Banana

– Cacao Powder

– Extra almond butter or PB

– Unsweetened coconut

– Drizzle of honey or maple syrup

So smoothie lovers tell me, do you drink your smoothies super cold?  Or are you more of the room temp variety?

Grain Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are over halfway through October which means that pumpkin season is in full swing.  When the lovely Natalie from In Nat’s Shoes suggested we do another coast to coast cookie swap, I immediately knew I needed to make some grain free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to share.

grain free pumpkin cookies cards

I originally found a recipe for Sweet Potato cookies in Paleo Magazine, and decided to swap the sweet potato for pumpkin, and add some chocolate chips, because why not?  A lot of people are often skeptical of paleo baked goods, but I wanted to prove everyone wrong by creating these pumpkin gems.

grain free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

The cookies have minimal ingredients and are sweetened with honey, but you can definitely jazz them up with cranberries, coconut, chopped nuts…the sky’s the limit!

I was pretty pleased with how the cookies turned out and hopefully my cookie recipients were as well!  I was lucky enough to get some chocolate caramel cookies from Domestic Wannabe, chocolate chip coconut almond cookies from Foodologie, and cinnamon sugar cookies with apple topping from Urban Chick’s Foodie Ventures.  Needless to say, the cookies did not last long in our house.

Grain Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from a recipe in Paleo Magazine)

grain free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies pin

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched almond flour

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 egg

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400F.  In a small mixing bowl whisk together all of your dry ingredients.

In a larger bowl, mix your pumpkin, maple syrup, almond milk and egg until well combined.  Fold your dry ingredients into your wet mixture and continue mixing until blended.

Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper and gently place small spoonfuls of cookie dough onto the baking sheet.

grain free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies tray

Bake for 20-25 minutes, then enjoy!

Thanks ladies for participating in the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap again!  To see their recipes, be sure to check out their blogs as well:

Natalie: In Nat’s Shoes

Karla: Foodologie

Coco: Urban Chick’s Foodie Adventures

Jazzy: Jazzy Jonez

Amber: Domestic Wannabe

The Best Salad at Mendocino Farms

One place I’ve had on my radar for a long time is Mendocino Farms.  I had my first Mendocino Farms experience in LA in June, and then a new location opened up in Costa Mesa and I literally went 3 times in one week.  While there are tons of delicious menu options available, I’m here to tell you about the best salad at Mendocino Farms.

Eat Happy Mendocino FarmsUsually I’m the person that wants to try all the things on the menu, but since I discovered the Sophisticated Chicken and Prosciutto Salad at Mendocino Farms, I can’t bring myself to order anything else.

the best salad at mendocino farms saldSure, I’ve tried bites of the Italian Love Sandwich (delicious), sampled their red beet and quinoa salad and always find myself intrigued by the seasonal menu items, but I can’t bring myself to order anything besides the best salad at Mendocino Farms (in my opinion).

The Sophisticated Chicken and Prosciutto salad has it all: mixed greens topped with fresh mozzarella, slices of chicken and prosciutto, grape tomatoes, honey roasted almonds, seasonal roasted vegetables, peppers and onions and comes with a basil pesto-balsamic vinaigrette.  I mean, what’s not to love?

the best salad at mendocino farms 2

Now that I’ve waxed poetic about a salad, obviously I think you should try it if you ever happen to visit a Mendocino Farms.  I also think it’s high time I recreate this at home.

Do you have a regular order when you go out to eat?  Tell me I’m not the only one who orders the same thing over and over again.

Gluten-Free Carrot Coconut Cupcakes

For awhile now Karla from Foodologie and I have been following the LA Cake Club on Instagram and have found ourselves drooling over the delicious cakes that are enjoyed at each gathering. Karla had the genius idea of founding a cake club in Orange County, and so the OC Cake Club was born.  For our first inaugural meeting, I decided to make some gluten free carrot coconut cupcakes with mascarpone frosting.

gluten free carrot coconut cupcakes table

This cupcake inspiration actually came from the birthday cake that the Englishman made for me this year.  Since I’m not the most well versed in cake baking, I decided to keep it simple and make cupcakes instead.

The recipe comes from Elana’s Pantry and I followed it almost to a T, with just a couple of modifications here and there.  For the frosting, I simply mixed mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar which was the perfect complement to the cupcakes.

If you are new to grain-free or gluten-free baking I highly recommend checking out Elana’s recipes.  She doesn’t use any fillers like xanthan gum and she uses minimal ingredients.  Plus, everything I’ve made from her blog comes out delicious.

Gluten Free Carrot Coconut Cupcakes (makes 10 cupcakes)

gluten free carrot coconut cupcakes pin

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

3 eggs

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tbsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 small container mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl whisk your eggs, olive oil and honey together until well blended.

Add your almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, carrots and coconut into the mixing bowl and continue to mix.

Gently spoon your batter into the muffin tin and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes.

gluten free carrot coconut cupcakes tin

While your cupcakes are baking, mix your mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar together either using a hand or stand mixer.

Remove your cupcakes from the oven and let them cool for 15-20 minutes.  Gently spread your frosting on top of each cupcake.

gluten free  carrot coconut cupcakes frosting

I’ll admit I am NOT the best when it comes to frosting cupcakes, but I promise these taste delicious.

I brought my cupcakes to the OC Cake Club and they were shared amongst the group along with Karla’s beautiful gingerbread cake with rum-soaked pears and Robyn’s 7-up cake and a bottle of almond champagne from Tanaya. One day I will be able to make something as lovely as these ladies.

gluten free carrot coconut cupcakes OC cake club

The cake club was a lot of fun and we are already planning our next one for early November.  I’m thinking I might need to do a holiday themed cake…