I love pumpkin. In fact, I always say it doesn’t really feel like Fall until I get a taste of pumpkin. Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE pumpkin? Pumpkin is part of the winter squash family, which are rich in immune-boosting beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. And are also an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber – which most of us are not getting nearly enough of. Want to learn more about the myriad of health benefits of winter squash? – visit WH Foods.
So considering all that – a pumpkin spice latte should be good for us, right?
Not so fast…since there is usually no actual pumpkin in most pumpkin spice lattes, plus there is also over 50 grams of sugar (that is 12 teaspoons - double what an average woman should get all day long)! And that is not the whole story – the Food Babe recently revealed in this article – that in addition – the Starbucks version is made with a caramel coloring that could be harmful to our health, uses genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors, and preservatives and sulfites. Yikes!
Now that we got the bad news out of the way…ready for the good news? It is pretty easy to make your own pumpkin spice latte at home! You just need some coffee, pumpkin puree, natural sweetener, and your favorite non-dairy milk!
You can make a small batch of this for yourself, or the full batch to feed a crowd. And to make this even easier? Make it ahead and put it into a crock pot for a Thanksgiving treat your guests will love – a bonus – your house will smell terrific.
Not a fan of coffee? Not to worry – this is delicious as a chai tea pumpkin latte too (I love to make decaf chai lattes for dessert in the evening)! Just brew (decaf or regular) chai tea, and top with the pumpkin creamer (and optionally foamed non-dairy milk and cinnamon).
Serves 12-14 people
*To make cashew milk – soak raw cashews for about 1 hour to overnight, drain, and put the cashews into a blender with filtered water. For a richer more cream-like texture – start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust from there. For milk, it usually is a 1:2 ratio cashews to water, add more if you want it thinner. Add a pinch or two of salt, taste & adjust. Blend on high for a few minutes until very smooth. You can strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth if desired.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, whose book The Perfect Metabolism Plan (Red Wheel/Conari Press) will be hitting book shelves Spring of 2015. You can download her Cooking with Superfoods eBooklet now for free. A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, Sara used to be a sugar junkie too. She offers consultations, corporate nutrition, monthly cooking classes, and affordable online programs.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
My son loves soup. You name it, he loves it. Chicken noodle, clam chowder, beef stew, lobster bisque, miso, lemon artichoke chicken, and even cream of broccoli soup. Sometimes we stop at Whole Foods for a snack, and more often than not he has – you guessed it – soup! The other day we were stopping in for a cup of soup when I saw it – broccoli cashew soup! Wow – what a cool idea, a dairy free cream soup made with cashews. We had a little taster, and both loved it. The lightbulbs started going off – oh the things I could make with cashew cream – cream of broccoli, clam chowder, alfredo…. I couldn’t wait to put my chef hat on, and give it a go myself. In fact, we had had broccoli with dinner the night before, and as I always do – I made extra, so I had some steamed broccoli already in the fridge. I grabbed some cashews, chicken stock (I love this new chicken bone broth from Pacific foods), and we were off. This is the delicious result!
Creamy Broccoli Soup:
Store any extra soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I am a big fan of smoothies – so much so, that I have a smoothie for breakfast most days of the week. But sometimes, I just want to mix it up a little – and need a little something special. Let me tell you, this Pitaya Bowl does not disappoint!! And the best part – it is so easy to whip up!
Pitaya is another word for dragonfruit, which is the fruit of a cactus plant. A beautiful exotic fruit, dragonfruit can either be whiteish (pitaya blanca), or a deep dark fuchsia color (pitaya roja). The benefits come both from the seeds (rich in healthy fats), and the flesh of the fruit (of which the deep pink variety edges out the white as far as nutrition).
Photo credit: Fruits Benefit Health (visit to learn more about dragonfruit).
Pitaya Bowl Ingredients:
Note: this recipe is best with a Vitamix or another powerful blender that has a tamper tool that can be used to stir while blending. It should be thick – like the consistency of sorbet.
Some Suggested Toppings (the first 3 are in the pictured recipe):
Soak cashews in water for 10 mins (up to 6 hours), drain water. Put everything into Vitamix or blender (except ice). Blend to combine well, using tamper to stir. Add ice as desired to thicken, blend well, stirring. Spoon mixture into a bowl, add desired toppings and serve immediately.
One of the most interesting things about sweet potatoes, is that despite having “sweet” in their name, and tasting sweet, they are low glycemic. Low glycemic foods gradually raise your bloodsugar. Sweet potatoes spike your bloodsugar significantly less than a regular white potato!
They are a nearly perfect food with high fiber, rich in vitamins like beta carotene (which gives it’s flesh the rich orange color), and have been shown to aid in recovery for athletes. Read 15 Superfoods for Peak Performance to learn about how sweet potatoes and other foods are good for performance and recovery.
I actually prefer yams over sweet potatoes, because they are darker in color, which means richer in vitamins and nutrients (sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably and confused). So this recipe should really be called yam pie – but that does not sound as good.
Last night we had roasted sweet potatoes and I sprinkled on some cinnamon and swirled in some applesauce into them. It was so good – it tasted like a cross between apple and pumpkin pie. So today I decided to recreate that yumminess with a Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie smoothie!
Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie:
Whip this up before heading to the gym, because it is chock full of superfoods for peak performance!!
* Cinnamon is a wonderful spice for supporting healthy blood sugar levels. The more common form of cinnamon sold in the United States is cassia cinnamon. Cassia has coumarin, a compound that is toxic to the liver in high doses. Although less common in the U.S., Ceylon type of cinnamon is considered “true” cinnamon, and it does not contain coumarin. It might be a little more expensive, but I find Ceylon to be milder, a little sweeter, and more complex – definitely the best cinnamon choice!
Artichokes do not get the credit that they deserve as a superfood. But their antioxidant capacity puts them in the top four vegetables and seventh overall according to a study conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The Artichoke, also known as cynara, is a member of the thistle family, a group of flowering plants that have sharp leaves (and also Winne the Pooh’s friend Eeyore’s favorite food!). The edible part of the plant is the flower base which if allowed to blossom, can create a beautiful huge purple flower.
A wonderful spring vegetable that are packed with phytonutrients, artichokes were prized in Ancient Roman times as an aphrodisiac. A wonderful natural remedy for elevated cholesterol, the artichoke doesn’t just lower cholesterol, it optimizes it – lowering LDL levels, and raising HDL levels. A double-blind placebo controlled German study found 1,800 mg of artichoke extract to lower LDL by 22.9% in just 6 weeks (compared to 6% in the placebo group), read more! Artichoke is also supportive of liver detoxification, which is important for healthy cholesterol levels, hormone regulation, and much more.
Although most people’s favorite part of the artichoke is the heart, the leaves contain the vast majority of the cynarin, which offers the powerful health benefits. You can buy the extract, or artichoke supplements, but one of the best ways to extract the nutrition is to make organic artichoke tea.
The green liquid left in the pot that most people throw away after you cook an artichoke is basically artichoke tea!
Note: if your tea is a drab brownish green color, you might have overcooked it. Sometimes, the tea will start out a lightish green and will brighten in the refrigerator over a few hours.
Artichoke tea supports the liver to cleanse by enhancing the excretion of unwanted toxins in bile. When the liver is better supported, it can help to improve hormone regulation, and improve the quality of the skin:
The above recipe is from Sara’s Perfect Metabolism book, which is coming out in 2015. She also offers 2 Perfect Metabolism eCourses, which are self-paced online classes.
Note: Persons taking prescription medications or with an existing health condition should consult a doctor before taking the above foods, herbs, vitamins or supplements to be sure there are no interactions. Do not stop taking your prescription medications without consulting your doctor.
Serve these delicious Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes for Valentines Day!
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
Melt the coconut oil gently over low heat on the stovetop, or in a Pyrex dish in a hot water bath. Then mix together all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (except the raspberries). Add the 1/4 cup raspberries and process until combined*. If using frozen, it will instantly thicken the frosting. Spoon out into a bowl and place in refrigerator to chill. Rinse and set aside the fresh raspberries for topping the cupcakes.
*Note: If you do not want the frosting to be raspberry flavored, just omit the raspberries. It will have a slight coconut taste – if you do not like that – replace the coconut oil with organic butter (this is a non-vegan option).
It is no wonder we celebrate Valentines Day with chocolate – cacao, one of chocolate’s key ingredients, contains high levels of Phenylethylamine, referred to as the love chemical, because our bodies produce it when we fall in love!
A heart healthy food, dark chocolate is perfect for February, because it is National Heart Health month. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers disease.
This recipe for CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolates takes chocolate to a whole other level, combining some of my favorite superfoods to make a super healthy chocolate!
Scroll down below the recipe for more information about the superfoods in this recipe.
CocoNuttZo Dark Chocolate
More about the Superfood ingredients in this recipe:
CACAO: Historically, cacao has been used both as medicine and as currency. Cacao is the #1 food source of magnesium, which is probably one of the big reasons it is so good for our heart – magnesium has been shown in studies to lower the risk of heart disease mortality by 50%! Cacao also contains potassium, iron, polyphenols, flavanols, theobromine, and proanthocyanidins. Cacao’s long list of health benefits include reducing heart attack and stroke, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood and brain function, protection against Alzheimers disease, lowering stress, relaxing muscles, boosting our skin’s internal SPF, and much more. I choose Sunfood raw cacao, because raw cacao has a higher antioxidant content than cocoa, and it even has a higher antioxidant rating than blueberries, acai, and even goji berries.
COCONUT OIL: In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “Kalpa Vriksha” which means: “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, which gets burned as fuel faster (so less likely to be converted to fat). It is also one of the most beneficial oils for our heart heath. Coconut oil is comprised of about 50% lauric acid, which is immune boosting, anti viral, anti bacterial, and helpful in lowering high cholesterol & high blood pressure. Coconut oil boosts HDL cholesterol, which helps to usher out the bad cholesterol. It also helps to regulate our hunger hormones and insulin levels. Coconut oil helps the body to absorb vitamins and minerals, and it also is more stable – meaning it will not oxidize – oxidized fats promote heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases. Coconut oil has also been touted for prevention/treatment for Alzheimers disease. When choosing a coconut oil, I like to look for quality unrefined, organic cold pressed oils – such as Barleans. Because of all the benefits, I recommend to all my cleanse participants to take coconut oil every day. But not everyone is a big fan of eating straight coconut oil – so that is why I came up with this recipe for dark chocolates made with Nuttzo nut butter.
NuttZo: The best nut butter on the planet, NuttZo is a wonderful blend of 7 different organic nuts and seeds. NuttZo contains chia and flax seeds, which provide a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, which are critical for prevention of heart disease and many other diseases. It also contains Brazil nuts, which are one of the best food sources of selenium, a powerful antioxidant which has been proven to protect the body against infection, and certain types of cancer. And it has pumpkin seeds which are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic.
Chia seeds are a superfood – they are high in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and many other nutrients. They are also high in a very unique fiber – that is hydrophillic – meaning it soaks up a lot of liquid, creating a gel. This gel helps to keep us hydrated, give us energy, and slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Great for athletes, and anyone looking to boost their energy, endurance, and overall health. Chia seeds make a delicious, nutritious and easy to make – pudding!
*If you would like to serve it warm, warm up milk in a saucepan, stir in chia seeds, take off heat and and allow to sit and soak up milk for 3-5 mins. Top with cinnamon and nuts or hemp seeds – serve.
Great for breakfast, a snack or dessert!
Make ahead idea:
Put all the ingredients in a glass container before bed, give it a stir, cover and put into refrigerator. Ready in the morning for breakfast or to take to work for a snack.
A rich history in Ayurvedic medicine, tumeric it is one of the most revered roots.
Tumeric is an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant herb. Tumeric has been shown to detoxify the liver, assist in the removal of mucus, lower cholesterol, help to manage weight, treat IBS, provide iron, and and is a wonderful herbal remedy for the treatment of stiff, sore, arthritic, or inflamed joints. Studies suggest it could be useful in preventing cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes. It is also a digestive tonic, antiseptic, antiparasitic, astringent, pain reliever, blood purifier, wound healer, kidney-stone dissolver, eczema treatment, and more.
Golden Milk Tea is made from tumeric, and is a nice sweet treat in the evening, or some may find this a preferred coffee substitute. Putting oil in tea may seem strange at first, but the result is delicious, and please remember – fats do not make you fat (unless you are still eating lots of wheat and simple carbs). Read this article to learn more about the importance of healthy fats. Substitute water for milk if you prefer a lighter variation, or add a little water at the end.
If you know anyone suffering from Alzheimers – the coconut oil version is a MUST, as research shows that coconut oil can have preventative effects for Alzheimers symptoms (and can even reverse some). Read article from Natural News. Coconut oil is also a natural antiviral and antibacterial, so it is helpful in detoxing and cleansing.
Note: Start with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and gradually work your way up to 1 Tbsp.
Golden Milk Tea
You may double or triple this recipe and store extra in the refrigerator. You may also make a bigger batch of tumeric paste and store in refrigerator for later use.
As with all herbs and supplements, please consult your doctor if you are on medication before taking this tea. Herbs can very powerful and may interfere with and interact with medications!
Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.
Homemade dark chocolate is one of the easiest things to make, this recipe has only 5 ingredients and is ready in no time.
Dark chocolate is shown to lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimers. Cacao gives dark chocolate it’s flavor and also is high in minerals and antioxidants, read I Heart Dark Chocolate to learn more about the many health benefits of cacao. In this recipe, I also use coconut oil, which offers many health benefits – including Alzheimer’s disease prevention, and potentially even reversal, according to this article. It is estimated that as many as 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is also linked to Alzheimers and other disorders like ADD, muscle aches and osteoporosis, read article from Natural News. This homemade dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy way to get a daily dose of heart health benefits and Alzheimers protection – so enjoy a square of this dark chocolate without any guilt!
Homemade Dark Chocolate
Melt the coconut oil (I like to use a double boiler on simmer), allow to cool just slightly, then put all ingredients into a bowl – whisk together to combine well. Pour into a mold (I like the Tovolo ice cube molds), and put in freezer. They should be ready in 15 mins!!
They taste a little like a Mounds candy bar. This recipe has to come with a warning – you will find it hard to buy dark chocolate at the store ever again after trying this! Best kept stored in freezer.
© copyright 2015 Sara Vance