Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

P1170412 Thanksgiving has passed, the glory days of sweet potatoes are over until next November. That is, unless you try this amazing sweet potato soup. This soup is creamy, naturally sweet, and it has a little fiery kick from cayenne pepper. I had a non vegan version of this soup at a “Friendsgiving” party and thought that it was really amazing. With only two non vegan ingredients I figured it could easily be vegan-ized for all to enjoy! You may ask yourself, why do I care if its vegan? Aside from the usual reasons, like not wanting to eat animals, there have been a few recent articles about how the meat and dairy industry is a much bigger contributor to climate change than we realize. So if you don’t mind eating animals, try some vegan recipes to be more kind to our planet.P1170375

As a foodie first, and dietitian second, I definitely believe in eating food because it tastes good, not solely because of it’s health benefits. This is why you will not find me chugging green smoothies or downing tasteless protein bars. This soup gets me really excited because it is winning in both categories. Not only is it vegan, but its packed with calcium, healthy fats and vitamin A. Not to mention pepita seeds are the perfect vegetarian food! They are a great source or iron, magnesium, and protein! No need to go light on those soup toppings!vegan sweet potato soup

clearly, I'm a sucker for the pour shot

clearly, I’m a sucker for the pour shot

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

Sprinkle on those pepitas! Do you like my nails?

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stocks celery, diced
  • carrots, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 TBSP vegetable or coconut oil
  • 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth plus 1 C water
  • 1 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 C lite or regular coconut milk
  • Pepita seeds for topping (pumpkin seeds, optional)

Directions

Make mirepoix by dicing first three vegetables.

Add oil to large soup pot. Add veggies when the oil is hot. Simmer on low while peeling and chopping sweet potato.

Add chopped sweet potato and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne pepper). Add vegetable broth and water, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Check potatoes with a fork, if soft blend soup with an immersion blender or pour into regular blender. Add almond and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Serve hot topped with pepita seeds and coconut milk.

Let me know if you try this recipe at home! I promise, you will not be disappointed!

 

Healthy Holiday Desserts: Oatmeal Pecan Pie

Oatmeal Pecan PieOut of all the Thanksgiving desserts I have consumed in the past four days, this pie is by far my favorite! In fact, I didn’t even make this pie for Thanksgiving, but I wish I had. I made it a couple days before Thanksgiving and it was gobbled up in two days flat! There are only three of us, so I would say that was a pretty darn good pie!

My future employer (Cooking Light) really hit the nail on the head with this one! This pie is unbelievably rich and nutty, yet still manages to be about 200 calories less than traditional pecan pie. Mind blowing! Most of the calorie savings come from the reduced amount of pecans and the addition of oatmeal and egg whites. At 300 calories a slice it is definitely not diet food, but it is a little bite of heaven that is a tad healthier than the original. I believe in eating good food, and if you can eat good food that is also healthy, why not do it?

Separating the eggs

Separating the eggs

fresh whipped cream

If you have some extra time on your hands whip up some fresh cream!

fresh cream

If you are still in a post-Thanksgiving food coma and can’t muster up the appetite for pie right now, I completely understand. Pin this pie for later! You will want it for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza!

You can find the original recipe and a video about this pie at Cooking Light. I followed this recipe exactly, with the exception of adding 3/4 cup of pecans instead of 1/2 cup. It’s best if you can let this pie sit in the fridge a couple hours or overnight before serving, so it can firm up a bit. But if you are eager and want to eat your pie fresh out of the oven, do it. It tastes great either way! oatmeal pecan pie

Oatmeal Pecan Pie

The oatmeal adds an extra crunch which is delightful

oatmeal pecan pie

I love you pecan pie

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C light corn syrup
  • 2/3 C regular rolled oats
  • 3/4 C chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350.

Fit dough on to 9-inch pie plate. Fold edges under; flute.

Combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Topping

sweet potato cakeAround this time of the year everyone is talking about sweet potatoes, even Ellen DeGeneres. Last week she proclaimed on her show that the brown potato with the orange flesh is in fact a yam, and the white potato with golden brown skin is a sweet potato. Finally I had the facts, thank you Ellen! Until I read this Huffington Post article which says the exact opposite. According to HuffPo (who I am going to trust over Ellen on this one) both the white and orange oblong shaped potatoes are sweet potatoes, and a yam is some ancient breed with a hard shell and is rarely found in supermarkets.

Just 6 simple ingredients for the cake!

Just 6 simple ingredients for the cake!

On to the cake! This cake is moist, delicious, and super easy to make! The base of this cake is good ole’ boxed cake mix. Now, you might turn up your nose at the thought of a boxed cake, but let me tell you, I have made many a boxed cake and people proclaim it is the best cake they have ever had. My secret is adding a little something to the standard recipe. Whether its fresh vanilla bean, pureed fruit, or in this case, sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie spice definitely take this cake from standard to crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving favorite!

This is the part where you pray your cake doesn't stick!

This the part where you pray your cake doesn’t stick!

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

One little crack, but were going to cover that up anyway…

If you are new to baking, you can make this cake no problem. The “marshmallow” topping is a bit more advanced, which caused me a little baking heartache that I will tell you about later. FYI- the marshmallow topping contains no actual marshmallows. I got this recipe from Betty Crocker and would recommend it in every way. EXCEPT for the fact that the directions for how to make the topping are way more complex than necessary. I like simplicity. There is no need to do the step with boiling the water and whipping the egg whites over the boiling water. Just beat those egg whites and salt sugar until the cows come home and you are good to go. Soft white peaks should form within 5-7 minutes if you have a strong mixer. I used my Grandmas hand mixer from the 1960’s, works like a charm. I love that mixer. I never got to meet my Grandma, but I think its cool that I get to cook with the same mixer she used.

On to the heartache. I used salt instead of sugar in my topping. So upsetting. I don’t swear a lot, but cooking disasters call for a few four letter words. Of course I didn’t realize until I had completely covered my cake with the topping. I took a nice dollop of frosting to taste, expecting this glorious sweet and creamy flavor, instead I got a revolting mouth FULL of salt! What the heck was I thinking? Nobody switched the ingredients on me. I poured 6 tablespoons of salt straight from the salt shaker into my frosting!! I’m so upset, I can barely write this post. Its even giving me baking PTSD and leading me to rethink every step of the cake making process. Did I forget the pumpkin pie spice? How many eggs did I use? I attribute it all to those stupid complex directions that Betty Crocker gives you. Please just disregard step number 4 on the instructions.

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

Cover it with “marshmallow” toping

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

Sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar if you’d like

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

If you have a kitchen torch, give it a whirl!

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

It turns out salt does not brown as nicely as sugar.

If you would like an alternate topping, that’s a bit easier, I recommend a standard vanilla cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the complete recipe please visit the Betty Crocker website!

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

look, I even have a cake stand now! Does that mean I’m a legit food blogger?

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with marshmallow topping

Slow Cooker Applesauce

P1160600

Just four simple ingredients

I’ve been wanting to make this applesauce ever since we made it in my kindergarten class with Mrs. Brummet twenty years ago. In kindergarten we went on a foodie field trip and picked apples at a near by house and then walked back to class and made delicious applesauce. I remember it like it was yesterday. Now, applesauce might seem like one of those foods that is just take it or leave it, but if its home-made or school-made it is awesome!

This sauce is super easy to make, minimal ingredients go in, and maximal flavor comes out. I really love it because apples are super healthy and abundant in the fall. But sometimes, on a drizzly day like yesterday, you don’t want to eat a cold apple from the fridge. A big scoop of piping hot spiced applesauce, yes please!

I used super simple ingredients, and it can be even simpler. If you don’t have all spice, you can leave it out, but definitely do not leave out the cinnamon! I put one pat of butter, which might seem a little weird to you.  For the best flavor the butter is probably a good call. I do believe that most things are better with butter (just in small amounts). But if you’re vegan or you hate butter, just leave it out, no problem! I recommend using 1/4 cup brown sugar to give it that extra sweetness, but if you’re apples are super sweet (particularly if you are not using green apples) you can leave out the sugar. It will still taste great. You could also sub maple syrup, stevia, coconut sugar; whatever your heart desires.

apples

Step 1: Wash the apples

Step 2: Peel and chop!

Step 2: Peel and chop!

Step 3: Cover them in spices

Step 3: Cover them in spices

applesauce

Step 4: Cook in your Crock Pot and 4 hours later, voila! #Applesauce

Eat it plain or add it to oatmeal, pancakes, vanilla ice cream

Eat it plain or add it to oatmeal, pancakes, vanilla ice cream

apple pie oatmeal

Make apple pie oatmeal!

Apple Pie Oatmeal: Oats, a little milk, and applesauce topped with whipped cream, nuts, and cinnamon sugar!

oats, a little milk and applesauce topped with whipped cream, nuts, and cinnamon sugar!

Ingredients

  • 6-8 medium apples (I recommend using green and red)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all-spice
  • 1 tbsp butter (omit for vegan, fat free)
  • 1/4 brown sugar (omit for no added sugar)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (I used half water, half juice)

Directions

1. Wash, chop, and peel (optional) the apples

2. Place in slow cooker on high

3. Throw in spices, sugar, butter, and water or juice

4. Cook on high for 4 hours, test for doneness

5. When apples are soft mash with a potato masher or use an immersion blender to blend to desired consistency (I like it chunky)

6. Let cool slightly, serve warm. Will last refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition facts: Per 1/2 cup serving: 98 calories, 1.5 gr fat, 23 gr carbs, 0.5 gr protein, 10% DV vitamin C

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Avocado Frosting

vegan chocolate cake

In honor of world vegan day, I decided to make a vegan chocolate cake! Let me tell you, this cake does NOT disappoint. It is super fudgey, moist, and amazing! This cake is not just good for a vegan dessert, it is good period. My taste testers had no idea it was lacking eggs and butter. Bonus, this cake is made with fruits (banana and avocado) and vegetables (beets)! A dietitian’s dream come true! Therefore, I feel perfectly content eating this cake for breakfast and dessert.

The whole cake is fabulous, but if there is one thing that is really impressive, it is the frosting! I plan to make it my go-to chocolate frosting from now on. Have you ever tried making frosting with avocados? Well I haven’t either until I made this cake! This frosting is great tasting, full of healthy fats (hello avocado) and it is a perfect texture for spreading and making beautiful cake designs. Win-win.

The original cake recipe called for whole wheat flower and coconut sugar.  I have cake baking anxiety so I did not want to use whole wheat flour in fear that it might produce a dry cake. Cake anxiety is real. If you’ve ever made a wedding cake I bet you know what I’m talking about! I didn’t use coconut sugar mainly just because I didn’t have it on hand and didn’t want to buy an obscure ingredient I will only use once. I know coconut is all the rage right now, but I would like to remind you it is still calorie laden sugar. Similar to honey, any nutritional benefit is extremely minimal.  I really like this quick article on coconut sugar from fooducate.

My lovely friend Ann-Marie helped me with some of the photos of this cake. Sheesh, this girl is talented. I don’t know how she does it, but my photos did not look this good when I took them! Heck, I was proud of myself the other day when I cropped a shadow out of a photo!

This recipe is adapted from Food and Nutrition Magazine and developed by Michaela Ballman MS, RD. Make this cake. Serve it to your vegan friends. Serve it to your non-vegan friends. Heck, serve it to the queen if she happens to be coming over.

cake batter

The batter is bright red from the beets!

vegan chocolate cake

No cake stand, I am a sad sad food blogger.

chocolate cake

chocolate cake

It’s too delicious not to dive in!

 

Vegan Chocolate Banana Beet Cake

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 roasted beets, pureed (~1 cup)
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup coconut or white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 very ripe banana

Dry  Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups AP flour (or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Frosting

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
  • hazelnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F and roast beets for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool. Puree in a food processor. Reduce oven to 350 F. Grease two 8 inch cake pans. Add vinegar to milk and stir. Set aside to curdle. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl use a mixer to cream coconut oil and sugar. Add pureed beats, banana, milk, and extract. Mix until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. The cake might seem a bit thicker than regular cakes, but that is ok. Resist the urge to thin out the batter.

Pour evenly into baking pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I cooked mine for 22 minutes and it was perfect. Allow to cool before frosting.

Frosting: Add all ingredients to a food processor or mixer. Process for several minutes. If using the powder sugar star slow or else it will fly all over the place. Mix very well until there are no more little flaky green avocado specks, unless you like that type of thing… Garnish with hazel nuts and coconut (or regular) whipped cream.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Halloween

I love Halloween. Last night we had our annual Halloween party and it was a blast. The night was filled with costumes, catching up with old friends, and good food. You know what it was not filled with, candy. There was not one piece of candy present and I don’t think there was one guest that minded. Yes, you can have a fun Halloween party without candy! I’m not against candy. However, we all know that Halloween night will bring plenty of treats for the lil’ ones and there is no reason to pre-load the kids all week long before the main event. Here are some tips for how to enjoy a healthier Halloween!

1. Make vegetable art! Check out this awesome eggplant owl and bell pepper monster. Crudite is awesome, and it always gets gobbled up in our house. For a healthier dip try mixing half low-fat sour cream and half plain non-fat Greek yogurt with a ranch or onion seasoning packet. vegetable art2. Get Fruity. Sliced apples and caramel dip, always a hit around Halloween time! Or, try making these adorable ghost bananas! The kids will go bananas for them! (hehe).

banana ghost

Who doesn’t love chocolate and bananas? These ghosts do look like they have been through a bit of a war, but they look great from far away!

3. Pack in the Protein. Make spooky deviled eggs. Pop a sliced green olive in the middle and bam, you have eyes, or make spiders with black olives. Another delicious protein packed treat-pumpkin seeds! After all that hard work that goes into carving a pumpkin, you definitely don’t want to throw away those seeds. Season them with salt and pepper or go sweet with cinnamon and a pinch of sugar!

4. Get Moving! All I have to say about this is please do NOT be that mother driving her children from house to house on Halloween night to go trick or treating. So unnecessary, and so silly! Part of the fun of Halloween is roaming the streets at night with or without your parents, but NOT in the car. No no no!

5. Moderation is Key. Don’t restrict yourself or your children from candy. This can sometimes lead to an increased desire for the food that is off limits. If you know you have a hard time not overeating candy, try buying the candy last minute or purchase a type of candy that you don’t really like. Try playing the “switch witch” with your kids, after they have eaten their fair share of candy. If you are interested in more tips for a healthy Halloween check out this great article by fellow RD Sally.

Happy Halloween from the PSL and the Sushi Roll!

Pumpkin spice latte halloween costume