Tag Archives: fall

Guilt-Free Caramel Dip

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What I love most about switching to a whole foods, real foods lifestyle is that I don’t have to deprive myself of things that I love.  Yeah, they might end up looking a little different, but I don’t live a life of “without.”

In fact, that’s the thing that drives me crazy about people on diets. And it’s why I hate diets.  If I want to eat a cookie, I’m going to eat a cookie. BUT, I take pride in choosing the best cookie I can for my body–by making them with the best ingredients I can and for only eating until satisfied without binging.

That’s why I love this Guilt-Free Caramel Dip.  It’s one of those things that you’ll eat and wonder how it tastes like Caramel.  But it DOES!


Sure, it won’t taste like sugar and oil and corn syrup.  It has a fresh, light, fruity caramel flavor.  The amazing thing is that you can enjoy things that “diets” might consider forbidden.

Ingredients of the popular Marzetti Caramel dip:

Ingredients in this recipe: dates, water/almond milk, vanilla, coconut oil.

Now, I wouldn’t sit down and eat this whole bowl in one sitting.  In fact, it kind of rich, so I don’t need to.  Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful treat that you can feel good about serving your kids or any dinner party.  Plus, it’s naturally dairy free for those that are concerned about that.

I hope you enjoy this like I do!


-Serve with fruit, or on oatmeal, or your favorite ice cream.  If you want it more like a drizzle, you’ll need to add more liquid.

-If you are nut-free, choose the water option for the liquid in the recipe.

-If this isn’t sweet enough for you, try adding a little pure maple syrup.

-You can buy Medjool dates at a health food store.  I buy mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods!

-This dip tastes amazing the second day, so feel free to make this the night before you need an appetizer or dinner party dessert. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Guilt-Free Caramel Dip
  • 1 [packed] cup Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk or water (if you use water, save the water you soak the dates in and use that)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ t sea salt
  1. Soak the dates for about two hours to get them very soft.
  2. Drain and reserve liquid if you are using water.
  3. Add all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more liquid if necessary.
  4. You will need to stop and press the sides down with a spatula often.
  5. Adjust taste to your liking.
  6. Chill and serve!


Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Can we have a real moment here?  I’m posting my favorite cranberry sauce recipe (sans the refined white sugar) but I’ve got nothing to compare it to!  I’ve never tasted cranberry sauce out of a can, or made another recipe.

And it’s not because I’ve always been a foodie.  If you know my journey, you know I’m a recovering “picky eater,” and something that jiggles when the table moves is most definitely classified under “gross” in my book.

But what I’ve learned is there’s always a way to make something taste better, and even look more appealing to the eye. You just gotta try it out!

Here’s the thing about cranberries.  They are beautiful. They are strong.  They are bold.  And sometimes, they can be overbearing.  (It’s a personal thing, here).

I love the addition of the orange and a dash of cinnamon!  It’s like memories are tucked away in the jelly-like substance.  Something about nostalgia this time of year?  Love it 🙂

This recipe really doesn’t take long or much effort to make, but y’all know me–I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I told you WHY it’s better to make your own rather than buy from a can.

But I’m also practical–I won’t reinvent the wheel if someone else has already explained it.  So head on over here and read Food Babe’s article and read about some bad stuff in the traditional cranberry sauce.  (Plus you can check out her recipe–which adds a few things–I’ve tasted it, and it’s delicious too!)

Even many homemade recipes call for a cup of white sugar! Ouch!  While maple syrup is still sugar, it’s a much better option than a whole cup of white sugar!

Try serving this orange-cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving table this year, and see what you think 😉  My opinion is something made with love & fresh ingredients is always better!


I prefer less cranberries in my cranberry sauce so I used 8 oz, but a regular 12 oz bag would work in this recipe too, and would have more chunks of cranberries.  It’s up to you 🙂


Orange-Cranberry Sauce
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 8 oz (or 12 oz depending on how much cranberry you want) bag of fresh cranberries
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • orange zest (optional)
  1. Add all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 12-15 minutes until desired consistency.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving.


Green Bean Casserole


I originally heard about this all-vegetable based green bean casserole from the amazing Detoxinista.  It’s such a clever idea–almost pure genius.

But I have to admit, when it’s holiday season, my nostalgia kicks in, and I really do just need a little more butter, Paula Deen style.

While I LOVE Detoxinista’s recipe (and really, all of hers!), I felt as if her version lacked a punch of flavor….

And when I’m feeding non-clean eating friends (or anyone really!), I don’t want them to miss out on all the flavor they can have!

So, I ventured back to the Paula Deen recipe I made years ago, and merged these two loves together to make a clean, yet flavorful side dish that will satisfy your casserole craving without the junk.

You can most certainly serve this to any type of guest, and it’s sure to please!


A note about some ingredients:

-You don’t have to peel the parsnips. Yay!

-Nutritional yeast can be found at any health food store (I buy from the bulk bins), but you can also get it at Kroger in the organic section near the flours and baking stuff.  It is a yellow flaky yeast that helps give non-dairy dishes a cheesy flavor. It sounds weird and might look weird, but it sure doesn’t taste weird!

-I use frozen green beans to make it easier–but you pick whether you buy whole or cut green beans–to your liking here!

Green Bean Casserole
Onion Topping:
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 coconut oil
  • salt, to taste
Green Beans:
  • 1 lb frozen green beans
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 cups parsnips, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 T vegan butter, melted
  • 1¼ t sea salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • ¼ t black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and stir. Since you are caramelizing the onions, they will cook for about 40 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking over medium or medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the onions spread out on the pan, as to cook evenly. Add a small amount of water to prevent sticking if necessary. Do not let the onions brown too much--reduce heat if so.
  5. After the 20-25 minutes, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the onions, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15-20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully so they don't get burned. They are supposed to be caramelized, not burned.
  6. Meanwhile, put the vegetable broth and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add green beans, and boil for 8-10 minutes, until desired consistency. They don't get much softer in the oven, so make sure they are the way you want them for the casserole.
  8. Once the beans are finished cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer the green beans to an 8 x 8 baking dish, leaving the leftover liquid in the pot. Set dish aside.
  9. Next, put the chopped parsnips in the leftover liquid, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, in a small pan, saute mushrooms over medium heat until juices have been released, about 6 minutes.
  11. Drain parsnips. Combine parsnips, ½ of the sauteed mushrooms, and all other filling ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  12. Add the remaining mushrooms to the green beans and stir to combine.
  13. Pour the filling mixture over cooked green beans and stir.
  14. Put the caramelized onions on top of the mixture evenly.
  15. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.


Vegetable Pot Pie

This time of year, comfort food is like a hot towel straight out of the dryer after coming in from the cold. It exemplifies its title; it’s truly comfort.

For me, pot pie is the ultimate, and for a long time, I figured we just had to do without.  Our youngest son Beckham is dairy free, soy free, gluten free, egg free, and peanut free (I promise it’s as overwhelming as it sounds), so pot pies seemed like something we had to avoid.

But when I’m determined to do something, I always figure it out. I knew that if vegans could make “cheese” from cashews, then I could figure out how to make my baby a pot pie.

And from that determination, this creation was born.  It’s stellar. It’s shareable. It’s loveable. It’s perfect for this fall weather.

Side view

I hope you enjoy this fall favorite (without all the junk!)

Vegetable Pot Pie
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour blend (or regular whole wheat flour if not gluten free)
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • spoonful of vegan butter
  • ½ onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, beans)
  • 1 russet potato, washed and diced
  • ½ Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small pan, heat spoonful of butter on medium heat.
  3. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender, about five minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the roux. In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat.
  5. Once melted, add the flour and whisk until butter is absorbed and mixture is crumbly.
  6. Slowly add in half of the almond milk and whisk until most of the clumps are gone.
  7. Add in the rest of the milk, bringing the mixture to a slow boil. The mixture should thicken.
  8. Reduce heat back to medium and add in the vegetable stock, stirring to combine.
  9. Add in the onion-garlic mixture, potato, frozen veggies, and spices.
  10. Stir to combine.
  11. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Meanwhile, make the biscuit recipe, but you don't have to roll out the dough to make biscuits. Set bowl aside.
  13. Once filling mixture is cooked well, pour into an 8 x 8 pan.
  14. Using a spoon, plop dough mixture on top of filling.
  15. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  16. Brush melted [vegan] butter on top of biscuits.
  17. Serve with a salad.


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad


I know Brussels sprouts get a bad rap.  They’re kind of like spinach.  People just think “yuck” when they hear the words without giving them much chance.  But I’m here to set them free.

Surprisingly, I never tasted them until a few months ago (I’ve told y’all my journey has been SLOW!) when my awesome husband made me some roasted Brussels sprouts with a Honey-Sriracha sauce.  Totally blog worthy.  And it’s coming.

But until then, you can enjoy this beautiful fall-tasting salad and all its glory.  I hope it changes your mind on this little boogers, because they really are incredible!

This salad will keep well in the refrigerator well without getting soggy, although mine never lasted that long 🙂

Salad plate

I served this salad for dinner one night as a part of a “cold salad plate” with raw fruits & veggies.  On the plate were two of my all-time favorite salads, Vegan Tuna Salad & Cranberry-Quinoa Salad! You’ll also see this Buffalo Hummus on the plate too!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed & cut in half
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 6 T olive or grape seed oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T maple syrup
  • 1 t coarse ground mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a food processor, shred the carrot and Brussels sprouts.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add all other salad ingredients and stir.
  4. Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  5. Pour over salad and stir.
  6. Chill for best results.
  7. Enjoy!