I don’t know why I didn’t think about a pumpkin spice almond butter recipe sooner. I’ve been getting REALLY into pumpkin spice this season, and still going strong in December. I’ve basically been trying to add pumpkin spice to everything and seeing if it works, and it certainly works in almond butter too!
First you will roast the almonds. Roasting them first adds more depth and flavor to the almond butter end product. Next, you’ll toss the almonds into the food processor and turn it on…for a while. I had to take multiple breaks throughout the processing so my food processor didn’t overheat. It took about 30 minutes. Once the almonds are all nice and creamy, then go ahead and add the spices, vanilla and agave or maple syrup. Once you add these extras, blend a bit more until your desired creaminess! Scrape down the food processor sides as needed.
I love the extra special pumpkin spice flavor in this recipe. I use regular almond butter so often, this has been a welcome treat in my smoothies, smoothie bowls, and toppers on toast!
Other sweets you may like:
Nothing truly beats a homemade pesto. So here’s my easy pesto recipe that anyone can do at home. All you need is a food processor to blend it all up. Making your own pesto is the easiest way to fancy up some regular old pasta and add some extra veggies.
You will literally just toss it all in the food processor or professional blender! Add more olive oil as needed to get the processor going to cream it all up, and scrape down the sides as needed.
It’s WAY easier to do than it initially seems, and basically any ratios still yield a delicious pesto product. For example, if you don’t have a ton of basil, toss in a bit more arugula. Or missing pine nuts? No problem, you can easily substitute for plain walnuts or cashews. Maybe you have some leftover zucchini? Great, toss some of that in as well! It makes your pasta seem super fancy, especially if you serve it with something else green like steamed broccoli or fresh peas. Plus, homemade pesto on top of a standard pasta adds really nice healthy fats and great vitamins and aminos.
makes 4 servings
What’s better this season than vegan pumpkin cookies? One with chocolate chips! This pumpkin cookie remains perfectly soft throughout the week, which I personally love!
First, you’ll begin by softening the butter. I leave this on the counter for about 30 minutes until I can easily press with my index finger. After that, mix together the butter and sugar. Once those are thoroughly mixed, add in the pumpkin puree, continuing to mix, and then the flax egg. Keep mixing well.
Next, you’ll drop in the chopped dates, walnuts, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, cinnamon and salt. Then add the flour and keep on mixing! Wipe off the paddle as you need to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Finally, add the chocolate chips.
Once the dough is mixed, I like to let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. The pumpkin is quite tacky, so chilling makes it a little bit easier to work with.
Meanwhile, when your dough chills, you can preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare your baking sheet. I use a silpat mat, but you could also use parchment paper, or a greased sheet. After the dough has chilled, I scoop out using a soup spoon and roll into a ball. Place the ball on the cookie sheet, and gently press down to be more in a cookie shape (ie. flattened and less ball shape!) Cook these for 13-15 minutes, and let them cool on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack!
Since these are a soft cookie, I’ve got a few tips for ya!
yields 16 cookies
Looking for a different sweet treat, check out these:
These vegan chocolate crinkle cookies are adapted from my grandmother’s recipe and are a Christmas staple in our household. It’s been so fun to make her recipe vegan and still maintain the full integrity of the fudgey centers!
If you haven’t tried these cookies before, I promise they are SO easy and are definitely going to be a hit. Seriously, my husband and I can’t stop eating them over here.
Looking for other vegan treats, check these out:
I love the push to be a conscious consumer, so please know none of this is meant to encourage unnecessary spending. Being realistic, I know we’ll be buying gifts this season, so here are my picks for more sustainable holiday gifts for everyone!
This KITCHEN BUNDLE or this FARMER’S MARKET BAG are great options for someone just beginning their sustainability journey. Who doesn’t love some cozy ORGANIC COTTON TOWELS for their bathroom? A home isn’t complete without some natural earthware CERAMIC MUGS.
I love this STYLISH BLUETOOTH SPEAKER that also supports reforestation and ocean preservation with every purchase. Or what about an upgrade on those WORKOUT LEGGINGS that are made from recycled bottles AND donate to charity with every purchase. Use my code “EXPANSIVE” for 15% off! If she needs more equipment, what about NATURAL LATEX BOOTY BANDS that won’t wear out. And if my husband is reading this, I’ll take this MONTHLY WORKOUT SUBSCRIPTION.
I love the idea of unique gifts for your meditation loving friends like this RELAXING DRUM. Or you can give the gift that keeps giving by enhancing their air with a low maintenance POTHOS PLANT. What about a JOURNAL made from 100% recycled stone, and from a completely carbon neutral company that plants a tree with every book purchase? Lastly, NATURAL BATH SALTS will always be a hit for the friend who needs some help relaxing.
What about encouraging them to ditch the plastic and give the gift of salon quality SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER BARS. Or check out my favorite RETINOL SERUM that will leave your recipients skin so soft and smooth. Any skincare junkie would also love a GUA SHA to help their products absorb more deeply, and reduce inflammation. And finally, a totally CLEAN FRAGRANCE PERFUME that is from sustainable sources and natural.
Look no further than this all VEGAN LEATHER JACKET from one of my favorite brands. Or go for a VEGAN LEATHER CROSSBODY that is sure to get some use for years to come. Another great gift if you’re looking for jewelry are these LAYERING NECKLACES that are sustainably sourced and from a brand that gives back. Lastly, if your recipient is a summer lover, why not give them something to look forward to with this ECO CHIC SWIMSUIT made from recycled plastic bottles.
Choose Love is a wonderful organization that allows you to gift a variety of items to refugees. They will send the products to where they are most in need. Another one of my favorite non-profits is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which I had the privilege of visiting in Kenya. They have so many projects in support of their mission of wildlife conservation and habitat protection, most famous for their hand-raising of elephants orphaned from poaching. Another great place to donate this season is Feeding America. The numbers of households that experience food insecurity in this country are staggering. Finally, The Trevor Project is another fantastic non-profit to give to that provides crisis intervention to LGBTQ+ youth, who are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. They work on important advocacy campaigns like ending conversion therapy, and have expanded into 100 other nations.
Do you have other sustainable holiday gifts you love? Add them in the comments below!
Traditional and stuffy is just not my jam. So today I’m going to walk you through how to Design A Modern Thanksgiving Table of your own!
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you’ll likely have a table of some sort for everyone to gather around. Normally, food tends to be the first thing we think of when it comes to Thanksgiving, but your tabletop design should not be forgotten! Your table setting has the power to give a huge amount of atmosphere and vibes to your thanksgiving. So be prepared to give it the time and attention it deserves!
The main textures I used to execute my modern thanksgiving table design are these ceramic plates, gold flatware and other golden details, these velvet napkins, linen, and vintage crystal cut glass. The menus from Bourne Paper Co and have a vellum wrap with golden stripes to help add a little more *umph* to each place setting. The florals by Amanda Vidmar Design help keep us in the color palette and add both texture and height variation. I also include these pillar candles which add height variation, and help set a beautiful ambiance. The “cafe au lait” color is my favorite and very universal. Finally, I finish the design with some pears that were both on color theme, add a beautiful texture, and help fill the table so it isn’t too sparse. Most importantly, editing is typically the key to pulling off a cohesive table!
1. Firstly, find your color inspiration. This can be anything really. I would suggest starting with something fall related, or you can pick out a certain piece (like a beautiful serving bowl or platter) and base the colors off of that! For my table, I found inspiration in California’s beautiful golden fall tones and opted to use that as my color theme.
2. Secondly, decide how you’ll execute the palette. Will you keep the settings all white and just bring the color through the florals? Are you going to bring out the palette in the plates and the serveware? Or will you keep everything within a few shades of each other? As you can see, I opted to keep the color fairly monochromatic. I primarily used shades from caramel to golden, with a lighter linen base.
3. Thirdly, Create a Pinterest board of your ideas. Or get out your serving pieces and flatware and start playing around! Seeing everything all together can be a really great way to test it out beforehand and maybe you see there’s an opportunity to add a really unique piece you’ve had your eye on. I always take this opportunity to browse some of my go-to stores online for any unique inventory that I might want to include.
4. Finally, Select the little details. Maybe you already own all of the serving pieces, and place setting pieces – that’s awesome! You can still spice up your everyday pieces by investing in some new candle holders, or candles themselves. Candles are a fun way to bring in your color or play with shades of a color. What about cute salt and pepper shakers, or the centerpiece vessel? You can also spice up your table by adding some stationery – maybe a unique placecard (or names painted on pears if you’re feeling artsy!?), or a menu for everyone.
There are really so many possibilities to design a modern Thanksgiving table, but I hope you got something out of this to bring to your own!
If you’re looking for an easy but delicious dessert to serve at Thanksgiving, check out my favorite vegan apple crisp!
Apple crisp is a staple dessert I had growing up, so I set out to do my own vegan apple crisp recipe on this classic.. and definitely made sure there was enough of the delicious topping to go around!
Firstly, peel your Granny Smith apples. Once you have them all peeled, core the apples and then thinly slice them for even cooking. Then you will place them in a bowl. After they’re in the bowl, you’ll add the lemon juice, sugars and cinnamon. Finally, mix everything well.
The topping is always my most coveted piece of the crisp, so I made sure we have enough to fully cover the *entirety* of the apples. Beginning in a new bowl, add the old fashioned rolled oats, the sugar, almond flour, salt and cinnamon. Then, you’ll melt the coconut oil. I guess-timate when I’m scooping out the coconut oil and put it in a liquid measuring cup and then pop it in the microwave for 10 second increments to melt. Once you have the coconut oil melted, add it in and toss everything together.
I use this casserole dish, but you could opt for a cast iron skillet, or a brownie pan as well. First, spread the apple layer directly into the dish. I always like to give it a few more tosses once it’s in the baking dish to make sure the apples are all evenly coated. After that, add the topping evenly over the apples. Finally, pop it in the preheated 350 degree oven for about 55 minutes and let it cool 10-15 minutes before devouring!
I hope you enjoy this vegan apple crisp recipe as much as I do! I’d love to know, how do you make your apple crisp?
for the filling:
for the topping:
This is a hit year round, but it also makes a great Thanksgiving dessert! You may also want to see it in action here
Reusable grocery bags are one of the easiest and quickest ways for individuals and households to reduce their plastic consumption.
Most families grocery shop at least once a week, and most grocery stores only offer plastic bags for your produce and bulk items. This can add up…FAST.
My favorite reusable grocery bag for produce is from Filt. It comes in a variety of colors and two sizes and they expand like crazy! I can usually always fit all of my fresh produce into one small bag.
I typically use this bag for fruits like apples, avocados, mangos and veggie items that are more durable like onions and eggplant.
I have loved using these from The Earthling Co. They come in different sizes. Shopping for a family of 2 that is plant based, the vast majority of my shopping is in the veggie section. I usually use at least 5 of these bags every time. I love these for more delicate vegetables like mushrooms (and they’re breathable bags perfect in the fridge once I get home!). They’re also great for putting any loose leafy greens or loose green beans that you purchase.
There are SO many options to choose from. My advice would be to get at least 6 of these, and you could get different sizes as well.
It’s always better to buy from the bulk grocery section as it’s often more affordable than buying the same items pre-packaged, and it’s much more environmentally friendly! Again, most grocery stores offer plastic bags here. Instead, bring your own cotton, canvas or paper bags. I’m loving this option from Food 52 that gives you both produce and bulk bag options. These bags from Uashmama are another great option that you’ll feel good about using, and I love how many color options they offer.
Lastly, after you’ve put all of your individual grocery items into their reusable bags, you have to pack it all up in the larger bags to bring home! For a quick, mid-week trip, I love this option. But as a more regular use item, these organic cotton bags are my pick. If you want to have a few insulated options which I use, I love these Veno bags. They are super sturdy and will last years.
Becoming a vegan or eating plant-based can seem daunting at first if you’ve never done it before! What are vegan pantry staples? Why do you need them? Why is it different than my normal pantry?
Vegan pantry staples are a little different than a normal pantry. In my plant-based diet I am making a lot more of my sauces and toppings than in a vegetarian diet. For example, you may make your own nut milks, your own ‘parmesan‘ cheese, your own ‘yogurt’ based sauces, etc. Because of this, you go through some items a lot faster than you may normally. Also, some ingredients are relied upon more heavily for their nutrients and vitamins so they get used more often.
I always make sure to have quinoa, couscous, farro, freekeh, and bulgar. I also love wild rice, jasmine rice, and brown rice. Grains are often the base of many vegan bowls, and I love cooking with ancient grains because of their nutrient density. For example, 1 serving of freekeh has 20% of your daily iron intake and farro has a lot of great fiber. Vegan bowls are also one of the easiest meals to make. Simply pick a grain, add some veggies and tempeh, and top with a sauce of your choosing. Voila!
Cooking with a vegan pantry, you’ll be utilizing a lot of delicious spices to infuse flavor. The spices I use the most are cumin, coriander, curry powder, cayenne, paprika and cinnamon. I also love cardamom, garlic powder, onion powder, saffron and turmeric. Many of the cusine from India and much of Asia for that matter is vegan already, so I find I use a lot of flavor profiles that tend to lend themselves to those regions.
I always keep refined coconut oil on hand! This is such a versatile oil. Buying it refined (vs virgin) means that it won’t have a coconut flavor. Other great ones to always keep stocked are olive oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, liquid aminos (great nutrient value and is a fish sauce substitute), tahini, and rice vinegar. Also, canned coconut milk is a must — it’s great for tons of sauces. And finally, vegetable broth.
Always keep some tofu (usually firm), tempeh, miso, almond butter, peanut butter and vegan butter (I love Miyokos!) Also, asian chile garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce will become your best friend for all of the Asian inspired meals you make.
There are a ton of vegan pantry staples in this category. I use a lot of chickpeas, cannellini beans and black beans but pick your favorites! Lentils are another great item to keep stocked in your pantry, they’re so easy to cook and are very versatile. I personally cook a lot with red and green lentils, but pick your favorite! Ffor nuts, raw cashews are my top pick. I cannot emphasize enough how much cashews are a vegan pantry staple. I use them to make vegan mac’n’cheese, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, a mozzarella-ish cheese, etc. you get the picture. Any other favorite nuts like almonds, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts are also great. I use them all both in cooking (walnuts and pine nuts always go in my pesto), and as toppings (hello peanuts!) and for snacks with dried fruit.
There are a ton of Yosemite activities to take advantage of on your visit! We’ll show you what to do in Yosemite on your 5 day visit.
Yosemite National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in our nation. Having gotten married in the park, I’m a little biased, but there are few places in the world that can hold a candle to it!
I grew up going to Yosemite many summers, so I was excited to share this beautiful place with my husband. It’s become one of our favorite places to escape to. It’s hard to narrow down what to do in Yosemite, so we’ve put together the best 5 day Yosemite itinerary.
5 days is an optimum amount of time to experience the park if you can. It allows you to see many of the highlights, and still get to less-trafficked trails.
There is a general store in the park for any food or outdoor needs. But, if you are within driving distance to the park, we recommend packing your own cooler with all of the food items you need. As a result, you’ll save valuable time so you can get on the trails sooner! All of the campsites and tent cabins have bear lockers for any food you bring, very convenient.
We have still only seen a small portion of what the entire park has to offer, but here are our recommendations for what to do in Yosemite.
Arrive to Curry Village and check in to your tent cabin. Pack up your backpacks with a to-go dinner. We love bringing this brand, and pack our Jet Boil. Head to Tunnel View for some quintessential Yosemite photos. After that, continue up to park at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point parking area. We love Taft Point for it’s iconic rock, but we’re going to recommend taking the Sentinel Dome trail instead! Sentinel Dome is an easy hike and allows you to see both El Capitan and Half Dome (Taft Point you can only see El Capitan). Enjoy the sunset on top of the dome as it sets over these iconic rock formations. Sentinel Dome is also much less crowded than Glacier Point, and still gives you essentially the same view!
Wake up early and pack your lunch. We often bring pb+j and bread to make for our on the go meals. Eat a quick breakfast at Curry Village and head up to the lesser trafficked High Country! Drive along Tioga Pass to Tuolomne Meadows, stop and hike along the way. A must stop is the view from Olmsted Point. You’ll experience the opposite view from Tunnel View, looking down at the valley from the other side! Head back to the valley for dinner. If you plan on eating at The Ahwanhee, be sure to make your reservations WELL in advance of your trip for any dinners.
We love this day for a big hike! For instance, we recommend planning this day for Half Dome, if you got your lottery date. Otherwise, we love the long hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, or Vernal and Nevada Falls. If you are visiting July-October, be aware that the falls are not going to be as large and powerful as they are in the springtime, and by September are usually mostly dried up. The hikes are still lovely no matter the water content though, but the Mist Trail is definitely a different experience in the springtime 😉
Take it easy after your big hike and plan a day of bike riding and river rafting! The Merced River runs through the valley, and you can rent rafts at Curry Village when the river is high enough (before late summer). If you can’t rent rafts, you can rent bikes for either a half or a full day and explore the area. Bike down to Swinging Bridge and up to Mirror Lake (again, only a mirror of Half Dome in the Spring when it’s full of water). Stop along the way and eat lunch by the river and take off your shoes and wade through the ice-cold water! You can also pack your own intertube and float down the chilly river!
We love to take a leisurely morning and have breakfast at The Ahwanhee. Depending on what time you have to get on the road again, you could do your half-day of bike riding here. In the same vein, you could have time for a 2-3 hour hike, so you could finish up with Vernal Falls!
Have any other recommendations I missed? Have any questions about your trip in particular or the best times to visit? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you! Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even if you can’t stay for our 5 day Yosemite itinerary, I highly recommend taking the time you can!