Pumpkin Spice Milk over Cereal

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I was in Trader Joe's the other day surrounded by oodles of tantalizing pumpkin breakfast items: pumpkin waffles, pumpkin chai latte mix, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scone mix, pumpkin granola...

Suddenly I found myself craving a healthy, vegan, pumpkin-filled breakfast.

I could make my own pumpkin waffles...but I don't have a waffle iron.

I could make my own pumpkin scones...but I don't know how to make scones (I should probably tackle that at some point). 

I could make a pumpkin pie and just eat that for breakfast...but I did that last year (and will probably do it again this year).

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Rather than making my own cereal and putting the pumpkin in the cereal, I'm putting the cereal in the pumpkin...milk that is.

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But it's from a box? Boxed cereal is not all bad, you just have to know which brands to buy. Nature's Path makes lots of fantastic organic, vegan cereals with short ingredient lists. Most of their varieties are vegan (a few contain honey), and those that are vegan indicate it underneath the ingredient list. This happens to be their Multigrain Oatbran Cereal.

Dousing your favorite flakes or o's in pumpkin milk is a really easy way to make your breakfast sweet and seasonal. Of course, extra fall-flavored toppings are always welcomed.

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Pumpkin Spice Milk over Cereal

2 cups non-dairy milk

1/2 cup + 2 tbsps of pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 tbsps coconut sugar (or 1-2 dates)

1 bowl of your favorite cereal

Toppings like raisins, dried or fresh apples, dried mulberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon...

  1. Blend everything together.
  2. Taste, and adjust the sweetness if needed. You don't want it too sweet, it's not a milkshake after all.
  3. Pour onto cereal.
  4. The extra will last in the fridge, but be sure to shake it before using. Or just drink the rest like I did.

By the way, this is one bowl you'll want to slurp every last drop from.

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pumpkin-spice-milk.jpg

Here's a little insight into how I take pour shots by myself with no tripod. You gotta be resourceful, right? (Hi Dad, thanks for the camera, I'm taking good care of it!)

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Chewy Cherry Vanilla Bars

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I'm sure by now you're aware of the amazing 2 ingredient banana oat cookies: 

  1. Mash banana

  2. Stir in oats

  3. Bake

  4. Insta-cookies!

Just another testament to the how perfect the banana is. I took this miraculous sugar-free, fat-free banana cookie concept in the bar direction...

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Cherry and vanilla are such a beautiful combination, I don't know why I don't pair them up more often. The crispy brown rice cereal in these bars makes for a fun, unique texture, and the banana binds it all together. The banana is doing double duty in this recipe as the only sweetener too. These bars aren't crispy like a classic rice crispy treat, but they do snap, crackle, and pop at you as you make them like any good rice crispy recipe should.

To hear them snapping, crackling, and popping, either make them yourself, or watch the video (and then still make them yourself).

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Chewy Cherry Vanilla Bars

Makes 4 (but feel free to double it)

2 cups crispy rice cereal (I used Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal)

2 ripe bananas

1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)

1/4 cup dried cherries

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Puree the bananas.
  3. Mix together the cereal, vanilla, and banana puree in a bowl.
  4. Stir in the dried cherries.
  5. Spread into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
  7. Let them cool before cutting.

Snack on them warm from the oven, or try them chilled from the fridge.

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Lemon Corn Pasta

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Sunshine and happiness and and the "Yellow Submarine" song, those are the things this dish evokes in my mind. So many vibrant yellow ingredients: corn, bell pepper, turmeric, and lemon. The happiness is optional, but I suggest adding it in too. 

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I just walked through the produce section and haphazardly grabbed everything that was yellow. That's not true. Actually I was inspired by this recipe, but I turned it on it's cheesy head and made it vegan.

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Be a conscious corn consumer. Get the good stuff, the organic stuff, the non-GMO stuff, or even the fresh stuff. I used frozen corn in this recipe to keep things easy and quick, but you could definitely substitute fresh corn cut right from the cob.

Even though fresh corn on the cob may seem like a summer affair, it is still in season in September and October. Which explains why candy corn, corn cob wreaths, and odd corn costumes are all associated with Halloween.

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Lemon Corn Pasta

Serves 1-2

1 1/2 cups cooked pasta

1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, sliced

3/4 cup organic frozen corn, defrosted

Sauce

1 cup organic frozen corn, defrosted

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Pinch of black pepper

  1. Blend all of the ingredients for the sauce to desired consistency. I kept it a little chunky.
  2. Add the bell pepper to a large non-stick skillet. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes to soften. Make sure to move it around so it doesn't burn.
  3. Add the corn kernels and the sauce. Cook stirring constantly on medium heat until the peppers are tender.
  4. Serve on top of pasta.
  5. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of black pepper.
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Fruity Caramel Nachos

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This may be one of my favorite desserts I've ever made. I know I say that way too often, but I'm not good at making these sorts of tough decisions. It definitely has a few of my favorite ingredients: figs, cinnamon, banana ice cream. And really coconut sugar and date caramel are probably favorites as well.

I think I need to tweak the song a bit to "...these are a lot of my favorite things." I'm sure Julie Andrews won't mind.

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Nacho Conversion:

"Chips": coconut-sugar-sweetened tortillas chips made from my Brown Rice Tortillas

"Meat": banana ice cream with a subtle trace of caramel

"Cheese": thick, gooey caramel sauce, with a little bit of vanilla

"Toppings": Fruit! I used figs, but you could use anything

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Fruity Caramel Nachos

2 Brown Rice Tortillas (or any tortillas you like)

2 tbsps coconut sugar

2 frozen bananas

3/4 cup dates

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or extract

3-4 sliced figs

A sprinkle of cinnamon on top

  1. Start by making the caramel. Combine the dates, water, and vanilla in the blender until smooth. Refrigerate. Don't clean the blender.
  2. Make the ice cream by adding the frozen bananas to the caramel-tainted blender. Blend until smooth. Spread into a chilled container and freeze.
  3. To make the sweet nacho chips, cut the tortillas into 6 triangles. Lay them out on a lined pan, and liberally sprinkle with coconut sugar. You can dampen them a little bit to make it stick. Flip them over and repeat. Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes until crispy.
  4. Slice the figs.
  5. Throw it all together in a large bowl and dig in.
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Mushroom Rice Pilaf

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I rarely splurge and buy fancy mushrooms. By fancy I mean anything other than plain, white button mushrooms. But this recipe was completely worth it.

I used a wonderful hodgepodge of oyster, shiitake, and portobello mushrooms for this savory Mushroom Rice Pilaf. Coupled with nutty brown rice and a little bit of thyme it is delectable. And since brown rice takes a while to cook, you can enjoy the aroma, get something done in the meantime, and devour this delicious mushroom fest 40 minutes later.

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I was so excited to find this Pacific Natural Foods Unsalted Vegetable Stock in a total dorky-food-blogger way, which is really the only way someone can get super excited about vegetable stock. Most vegetable stocks or broths have sodium levels that are through the mushroom cap (assuming that I'm a small, mystical fairy standing under the mushroom cap like an umbrella).

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The only ingredients in this stock are veggies and water! If you read the label, the sodium level is still 65mg per cup. I'm wasn't sure why, so I emailed the company, and they promptly replied that it is due to the natural sodium found in the vegetables. Yay for zero additives!

If you can't find this brand, then go for an organic, low-sodium variety without MSG or other nasty additives. Another option is to use half water and half stock or broth to reduce the salt level.

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Mushroom Rice Pilaf

6 oz. assorted mushrooms (I used portobello, oyster, and shiitake)

2 cups lowest sodium vegetable stock (or broth or water)

1 cup long grain brown rice

Leaves from 3-4 sprigs of thyme (about 1-2 tbsps)

  1. Add the mushrooms to a non-stick saucepan, and cook them for 3-4 minutes by themselves.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and rice. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil. 
  4. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 35 minutes (or 5 minutes less than the instructions indicate for your rice).
  5. Stir in the thyme. Cook for the another 5 minutes until the rice is done.

And if you still don't know how to make it...