I am addicted to all things holiday season. Joy and spirit fill the air and send me on a seasonal happy high. Lights strung throughout our home, the faint piney freshness of a Christmas tree, the jingling of bells, ginger spiced cookies, holiday sweaters, and the creamy, nutmeggy flavor of eggnog.
My childhood Christmas memories always included drinking eggnog. I thought everyone drank it! But I’ve since learned there are two kinds of people in life: those who love eggnog, and those who won’t touch it with a ten-foot straw (eh hem, my husband). It’s RICH! Cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and bourbon — basically the equivalent of drinking melted ice cream. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if that’s the case, I’d rather eat eggnog ice cream. Unfortunately, it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed a glass without feeling guilty, heavy and bloated.
No, but not this year! What I’ve discovered is a more gut-pleasing approach to enjoying this once-a-year holiday drink. VEGAN EGGNOG. This recipe blew my mind when I tasted it for the first time. It’s much healthier than traditional eggnog, AND it is still just as creamy with the rich flavor of fresh nutmeg. It also takes no time at all to make. Add that to your holiday to-do list!
How does it get so creamy? CASHEWS! Once soaked in water, cashews soften and can be made into cheeses, milk, spreads, ice cream, and dips. I soaked my cashews for 8 hours. If you are in a hurry you can also pour boiling water over them and soak for 30 minutes. Rinse them a few times, and then add them to a blender with two cups of water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes. You want the cashews to be completely broken up and for your mixture to be white and smooth.
Next add a can of full-fat coconut milk, 6-8 pitted dates, vanilla, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg to the blender. In my mind, there’s really no exception to fresh nutmeg, but if you only have ground it’s absolutely okay to use it. Now blend everything again on high speed for another 1-2 minutes. The dates should be completely broken apart.
Mixing everything at high-speed will add a little warmth to the eggnog. While I personally believe eggnog should be served ice cold, don’t feel bad if you immediately pour yourself a little taster of this vegan eggnog. Fresh out of the blender — so frothy, so creamy, so nutmeggy. SO GOOD! Of course, to make it the adult version, add in spiced rum, bourbon or cognac (or all three)!
WHO KNEW VEGAN EGGNOG COULD BE THIS CREAMY?
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and not hearing the words turkey and gravy couldn’t come soon enough. I’m still stuffed! I eat turkey pretty much once a year, so it doesn’t take much to hit my annual quota. Pumpkin pie is a whole other story. What quota? This year I’m thanksful for multiple turkey trots.
In between scarfing down the traditional holiday treats, we’re stuffing our faces with a slightly healthier version of indulgence — banana oatmeal blender muffins. Are you noticing a trend yet? I’m completely obsessed with making easy recipes that include the use of my assistants Mr. Vitamix and Mrs. Food Processor. Every once in a while we call in the Wizard living in the slow cooker. He’s pretty magical too!
If you recall how simple it was to prepare my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, these banana oatmeal blender muffins are even easier! Start with putting all ingredients, except the eggs and mix-ins, into the blender until combined. The blender might need a scrape down midway through. Next, add in 2 eggs and blend again until completely smooth. Finish by stirring in a half-cup of dark chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or whatever else you can dream up! Mix well with a spoon — don’t blend.
Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full and top off with a little extra mix-in if you’re feeling inspired. Here I got crazy with a little toasted coconut for a change. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375°. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
Autumn officially arrived yesterday, which means it’s time to release the first pumpkin recipe of the season:
healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
There’s nothing exciting about saying goodbye to summer. No one wants to give up long days in the sun and chilled glasses of rosé, but there is a comfort in knowing fall is back in town. Time to get all toasty under your favorite blanket, and get ready to flip the wardrobe over to boots and sweaters!
Do you have a certain smell or taste that reminds you of fall? For me, autumn leaves are the first things that come to mind. My memory immediately takes me back to living in Western Pennsylvania. Our long runs were often on backcountry roads next to dew-covered fields with vibrant trees on every horizon. It was as if the canvas was still wet where Bob Ross had painted a million happy little trees with leaves the color of fire. So gorgeous!
One thing ranks above everything when it comes to fall—PUMPKIN! It’s everywhere and in everything. Pumpkin pies, cookies, smoothies, soups, muffins, hummus, dips, bars. It’s insanely hard to resist the smell of cinnamon spice drifting from pumpkin treats baking in the oven. There is no cooling time, it’s just straight into the mouth time! The good news is pumpkin is actually quite healthy as long as the recipe isn’t loaded with sugar. Don’t worry, you can bet that anything I post on here is going to lean on the lighter side of the scale. Chow down!
To start off the season, I thought I would share this healthy flourless pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe that I borrowed and tweaked slightly from Making Thyme for Health. Check out her blog when you get a chance. It’s full of healthy vegetarian recipes, and she takes the most drool-worthy pictures. These muffins turned out super fluffy and scrumptious even without the flour. BONUS: Give the dishwasher a night off, this recipe is all made in a blender! My chocolate chips did start melting slightly because the mixture warmed in the blender, but it just turned into pretty little chocolate swirls.
Let the 2015 pumpkin season begin.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite fall memory? What about food? Let me know what healthy pumpkin recipe you’d like to see next!