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…

Frozen Pumpkin Bites

A few weeks ago when we had our big heat wave, I was in the mood for something with pumpkin but didn’t feel like turning the oven on.  Since all I wanted to do was eat ice cream to help beat the heat, I decided that making some healthy frozen pumpkin bites would be a nice way to get a cool treat without a lot of sugar.

Frozen Pumpkin Bites

These frozen pumpkin bites are made with canned pumpkin, chia seeds, a variety of nuts and cinnamon.  That’s it.  They definitely aren’t sweet at all, but I think adding a tbsp of maple syrup or honey would give them some nice flavor.

The great thing about these bites is that they are so versatile!  You can swap in nuts and seeds of your choice, and even add some chocolate chips if you are feeling extra fancy (which I plan on doing for my next batch).

Frozen Pumpkin Bites bowlWhether you are in a heat wave or not, you’ll definitely want to add these frozen pumpkin bites to your snack rotation.

Frozen Pumpkin Bites (makes 8 balls)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

1/4 cup silvered almonds

1/4 cup pepitas

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ginger

1/2 cup water

pinch of salt

Directions:

Place all of your ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts and seeds are chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor you can chop the ingredients by hand as well.

Roll your mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment.  Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until the balls are nice and firm.  You can also place the balls in the fridge, just let them chill longer.

Frozen Pumpkin Bites close up

Eat and enjoy!  The perfect frozen pumpkin snack.