Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip and Pumpkin Week on Facebook

pumpkin almond butter dip

Calling all pumpkin lovers…. drop that pumpkin spice latte (for real, do you know what’s in that cup?!) and listen up. Do you want a real pumpkin fix? You see, there’s a big difference between “pumpkin-flavored” and the real deal. So this week I’m sharing my all time favorite pumpkin recipes and treats made with real pumpkin. And of course everything is full of other nutritious ingredients to do your body good this fall. All you have to do is go “like” the meggsalad page on Facebook to get a recipe a day in your feed. Click here to go there now.

First up is total crowd pleaser – serve this pumpkin almond butter dip as an appetizer or dessert, or make a bunch and store it in the fridge for the perfect after school snack. It sure beats that caramel dip that’s loaded with sugar and God knows what else. With this you get nutrition in your treat. – protein and calcium from the almond butter and almond milk, and a healthy dose of magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C from beta-carotene rich pumpkin. Pumpkins are also full of fiber and are anti-inflammatory. See what I mean… real deal.

So don’t forget, get on over to the meggsalad page and click “like” or “follow” (whichever one it is…) so you can get four more real pumpkin recipes like this one this week. What are you waiting for? Go get that pumpkin now.


pumpkin butter dip 2

Pumpkin Almond Butter Dip


  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until everything is well combined. Allow the mixture to come to a light boil and then reduce heat and simmer about five minutes.

Can be served immediately as a warm spread, or chilled in the fridge and served cool.


4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

parfait top

I couldn’t let one of my favorite holidays go by without making something festive to contribute to the red, white and blue section of the blogosphere. This little treat is almost too simple to warrant a recipe or a post but really isn’t simple just what you need on a holiday that’s all about being outside with great friends and family? Then again, making something a little more challenging is always fun too.

These berry and coconut yogurt parfaits are just sweet enough for a light dessert and look festive without even trying. I’m really wishing all of our kitchen stuff wasn’t in storage right now because I have the most perfect cocktail glasses that these parfaits would look beautiful in. They’d also be cute in little 2 oz shot glasses if you happen to have a collection of those. Otherwise a small glass or clear plastic cup will do – I say glass or clear so that you can see the pretty layers.

Leftovers make a delicious and healthy breakfast too (love it when that happens), especially with some added ground flax and walnuts – one of my favorite yogurt breakfast combos that adds a hearty dose of omega-3s and fiber. Not that this treat isn’t healthy on it’s own. Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants to protect your DNA, and your skin and hair too. They’re good inflammation fighters as well.



Side note… On our California Highway 1 road trip last week we pulled over for some fresh-picked organic strawberries at a farm stand after driving past miles and miles of strawberry fields being hand picked by workers. Gotta say, I have a whole new appreciation for how we get these little gems. And my god were they the sweetest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had. Ever. I mean it; they were candy. Here I am in front of the “you-can-pick” olallieberries. We didn’t have time for that so we just took the pre-picked berries and hit the road in our Mustang convertible (hence the head scarf).


coconut yogurt

These parfaits use coconut yogurt which is a fantastic alternative to traditional yogurts for those that can’t tolerate dairy or are trying to avoid cow’s milk products. It’s  sweeter and a lot less tart than dairy yogurts too which makes it good for desserts. I buy the So Delicious brand and opt for plain. Then you can flavor it however you want with fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries or peaches. It’s much fresher tasting that way and you can skip the added sugar and natural flavorings.

So there you have it – what just might be the simplest dessert for the 4th. I hope your Independence Day is as sweet, juicy and full of life as these little treats. Happy 4th!


4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

(Serves 4)


1 pint coconut yogurt
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, chopped


In a small glass or plastic cup, place a layer of berries (you can do either just strawberries or blueberries, or mix them together) then top with a layer of coconut yogurt. Then add another layer of berries and top with yogurt. Continue alternating layers until you reach the top and make the last layer of berries.



Almond Butter Cups

almond butter cups

There’s something about rainy days that makes me want to hide in my house and play in the kitchen. Anyone else? A few weeks ago we got a real soaker on a Sunday and inspiration struck I saw these on Pinterest. I’d been wanting to make homemade Reese’s (with a few tweaks) for awhile and here was my opportunity. They’re Ross’ absolute favorite and I have to admit… I’ve sort of missed them ever since I changed my diet.

You know that urge you get to just be bad? Usually when it comes on I try to get my rebellious fix in other ways like deleting emails, Netflixing in bed and machine washing dry-clean only clothes (be careful with this one!) rather than sacrificing how great I feel when I stick to my anti-inflammatory lifestyle. But in this moment I just wanted chocolate. So, I’ve learned the trick to splurging a little without feeling like the train has completely left the tracks is being prepared and making homemaking little treats like these guys to stock away for those just-gotta-have-it kind of days.

These almond butter cups are rich, decadent and have plenty of sweetness. They’re a treat no doubt, but splurging with one of these bad boys is a much better option than what’s in that orange package. These are made with just four simple ingredients that are nutrient rich. Heck, cacao powder and coconut oil are even considered super foods meaning their among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.  And there’s none of that other questionable stuff and a lot less sugar too.

So, go ahead, make a bunch and store them in the freezer for when you just need a little somethin’ somethin’. You can thank me later. 😉







Almond Butter Cups


1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
4 tbsp maple syrup
almond butter


In a sauce pan heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat. Stir in maple syrup and cacao powder until you have a smooth chocolate sauce.

Line 12 mini muffin cups with paper liners. Drizzle chocolate sauce in the bottom of the cups just enough to coat the base. Place in freezer about 10 minutes to set. Spoon a small amount – about 1/2 tsp size – almond butter into each cup. Cover with the rest of the chocolate sauce filling cups to the top. Return tin to freezer and allow to set at least another hour or two. Store in freezer or fridge.


Lemon Drops


Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. I know I sure enjoyed myself. If you’re anything like me, here in the first few days of the new year, you’re struggling to get back into what was once your routine. And maybe wondering how you even got into that routine in the first place. The good news is, new years are new beginnings. After the holidays have turned our routines upside down and given us some distance from our own little hampster wheels (whatever that may be for you), coming back, we shouldn’t just jump back on and go right back to what we were doing before. With distance we gain perspective and are given the perfect opportunity to shake things up, do something different, try something new.

Maybe it’s the gym – you haven’t been in a while and you realize you really just have no desire to go. Don’t force it. Maybe you just really don’t like the gym. And it’s time to give the yoga studio down the street a shot. As you get back to your routine, go easy on yourself and listen to your inner voice to shape a new routine that’s going to make you happier and healthier in 2013.

After weeks of indulgence, going cold turkey on that sweetness we crave can be suicide. Start by weaning yourself off processed sugar. These little lemon cookies are perfect way to ease the transition. They’re made with honey so you’re not going to get that high and low you typically do with sugar and are full of good things for you like almond, coconut and lots of lemon. Lemon is high in vitamin C to help fight colds and flus and has an alkalizing effect on the body – just what we all need after eating lots of acidic foods like white flour and wine. Lemons also help to cleanse the liver and aid in digestion. Plus, that fresh tart taste can’t help but make you smile. Even better, add a lemon wedge to your water to get all these benefits throughout your day. It can be part of your new and improved 2013 routine.

I wish you all the happiness and health you handle in the New Year. Here’s to fresh starts…

lemon coconut cookies

lemon zest




Lemon Drop Cookies


1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 pinches of salt
6 tbsp honey
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla (I use vanilla powder)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted


Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible (ours settled at 170 degrees).

In a mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, dried coconut and salt. Whisk to mix well.

Depending on size, you’ll need about two or three lemons for the zest and juice. Zest lemons then set aside. Juice lemons into a separate small bowl. In another small bowl, add the honey, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer, add dry ingredients and begin to mix. While the mixer is running, slowly add wet ingredients.

To melt coconut oil, place in a small pan over medium heat until it becomes a liquid. Once the oil is in liquid form, slowly add to the batter while the mixer continues to run.

To make cookies, roll batter in balls (about 1 inch diameter) and place on a coconut-oil-greased baking sheet. For less mess, use plastic baggies over your hands to grab and roll dough.

Bake for one hour or until the outside is dry and firm.


Vanilla, Cinnamon & Nutmeg-Spiced Hot Milk

IMG_2814Hot milk… there’s got to be a better name for this. Blech. This is so not just hot milk. It’s wrap-yourself-up-in-a-blanket-on-the-couch-and-stare-at-the-christmas-tree [milk]. It’s not  cocoa; it’s not cider. But they got together and had a love child, this would be it. If anyone has a more succinct way of expressing that, I’m all ears. Leave it in the comments.  For now though, I’m keeping it short and sweet. I’ve got to go cozy up and enjoy my Christmas-in-a-mug [milk].

IMG_2791Vanilla, Cinnamon & Nutmeg Spiced Hot Milk


1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of ground ginger (optional)
dash of ground clove (optional)


In a small sauce pan, add 1 cup of almond milk. Then add the honey and spices and whisk. Continue to heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the milk begins bubble. Pour into mug, get comfortable and enjoy.


American Flag Fourth of July Tart – Raw, Gluten-free, Dairy-free Dessert

The fourth of July just isn’t complete without something edible fashioned into an American flag. This is one of the few things required for the holiday, I think — Flag dessert, fireworks, and little kids in ridiculous red white and blue outfits. God bless America. Growing up, we’d make this — well not exactly this… it was the more traditional version out of angel food and Cool Whip. Since for me these days Cool Whip and traditional cake are out, I have to get a little creative. But I think I’ve found something 10 times better.

I bring you the raw tart… It’s made of nuts, dates, fruit, honey, coconut oil and salt. That’s it. Good for you ingredients, in their 100% raw, uncooked state. No heat exposure means the nutrients stay in tact, as well as the enzymes, which make the food easier to digest. No heat also means no heat for you – raw foods are cooling for the body. Just what we all need when it’s 100+ out there! Health talk aside, this dessert really is truly delicious. If you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, with this you’re not missing a thing. In fact, it’s even better – with higher quality ingredients, the way they come together so uniquely, the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s nothing better than discovering something that’s gluten-free, dairy-free and tastes even better than the traditional version. I love that. I always think, if I never had to branch out, I might never have discovered the amazing things you can do with nuts. Even for folks who don’t need to avoid wheat or dairy, this is a real dessert.

So here’s what you do. ..I took a lot of pictures so I thought I’d use them to walk you through the process…

Start by soaking the cashews. Give them about four hours or so, then drain the water and rinse them. Soaking softens them so they’ll blend more easily into a creamy consistency. Soaking also makes the nuts easier to digest.

For the crust, you can use just about any combination of nuts. I used macadamia and walnuts. But you could go for almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, etc. depending on what flavors you want.

Put the nuts in the food processor and process until finely ground. Then add the dates (be sure to remove the pits first) through the processor’s feed tube while the machine is running. At this point, you can add the vanilla and salt as well. Process until you have an evenly blended gooey mess.

Now, transfer the gooey nut-date crust mixture into a greased (with coconut oil) tart pan and press the mixture down evenly to form the crust. I recommend getting in there with your hands to press the mixture into the corners and grooves and get it nice and even. You can use plastic wrap or baggies on your hands to keep clean… and sanitary.

Now you’re ready for the filling. Combine the cashews, honey, lemon and coconut oil in the food processor and process until smooth. Let the processor run (3-5 minutes or so) to get a creamy texture that’s not gritty. You may need to add a little water to thin it out and get the desired consistency.

Here’s how it should look when it’s done… Taste it to make sure it’s smooth — it should be light and creamy, not gritty. I love the lemon in this…

Pour the cashew cream filling into the tart pan and smooth evenly over the crust. A rubber spatula works well to spread the filling and get into the edges and corners.

Now comes the fruit. Yum, blueberries — so so good and so so good for you. A rule of thumb… the greater the potential to stain your clothes, the better it is for your body. So eat up!

Chop the strawberries into small pieces to form the stripes. I cut them in half long-ways and then sliced them in slivers, like this…

Start with the stars and make a square with blueberries in the upper left corner. Then fill in. For the stripes, layer the strawberry pieces to form straight lines across. The American flag starts with red at the top, so make a line with strawberries and alternate with white space.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least four hours to set. Before serving, remove from tart pan and allow to thaw at least 20 minutes.

So there you have it — The raw gluten-free, dairy-free Fourth of July American flag tart. Now all you need are some sparklers and that Old Navy t-shirt…

If you end up giving this a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Or if you change it up in any way, please share your variation with us in the comments.

To all, I wish you a very happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.
God Bless America.

American Flag Tart


For the crust:

  • ½ cup Macadamia nuts
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch sea salt

For the filling:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


Put nuts in food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates through feed tube while processor is running. Also add vanilla and salt. Process until evenly mixed and gooey.

Grease a rectangular (or square) tart pan with coconut oil.

Pour crust mixture into tart pan and press evenly to form crust.

Combine all filling ingredients in food process and blend until smooth. Note: allow processor to run for 3-5 minutes to get a smooth consistency that is not grainy. You may want to add a little water to get desired consistency.

Pour filling into tart pan and smooth evenly over crust.

Now you’re ready to make the flag. Wash the berries and chop strawberries into small pieces. Make a square by lining blueberries in the upper left corner. Next, start the stripes – red, then white – by lining strawberry pieces to form lines.

Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and place in freezer to set, at least four hours. When you’re ready to serve, remove tart from pan and allow to thaw 20-30 minutes before enjoying.


Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I call these my “grown-up” rice crispy treats. They’re the more mature and sophisticated version of the original marshmallow treat. That is, as mature and sophisticated as a treat you lick off your fingers can be…

With real ingredients, all natural sweeteners and protein-rich peanut butter, could it be that one of the funnest foods ever created could be healthy too? Don’t tell the kids!

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats


1 1/4 cups organic brown rice syrup
3/4 cup organic peanut butter*
2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil
6 cups brown rice cereal (gluten-free)
1/4 cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips (optional)

*I used fresh ground, organic peanut butter. Look for one with as few ingredients as possible – just peanuts and oil. No sugar or anything you can’t pronounce.


Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper covers the bottom and all four sides of the pan. In a small sauce pan, heat the brown rice syrup over medium heat. When the syrup begins to bubble, add the coconut oil and peanut butter and continue stirring until you have a good mixture.

Place the rice crispy cereal in a large glass bowl. If you like, stir in some cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips for some added chocolate flavor. Slowly stir in the warm syrup mixture using a silicone spatula to evenly coat the cereal. The syrup will bind the cereal together.

Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly to cover the bottom of the pan and extend to all sides and corners. Press the surface with a spatula, or use your hand with a sheet of parchment paper to flatten and smooth it out.

Chill in the fridge for about an hour, until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into squares with a knife.


Cranberry & Pear Tart – My New Roots Recipe Challenge Winner

Photos courtesy of My New Roots

My New Roots is one of the blogs I follow and Sarah B., the nutritionist and chef behind the blog, has given me plenty of inspiration in the kitchen. I was completely flattered to learn that this time I inspired her. It was with my cranberry & pear tart recipe that I submitted in her reader recipe challenge. And it won! I won! I won. I won! I feel like I’m back in fourth grade and just got first prize in the science fair. But this is so much better. And cooler.

Sarah tested out my recipe and had a photo shoot with the finished product, which is quite photogenic on it’s own and Sarah’s photographs makes it look even more gorgeous. I can’t stop looking at it.

This dessert is an anomaly. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and made with all natural sweeteners (no refined sugar), but you don’t have to tell anyone that. They wouldn’t believe you anyway. So just let them enjoy. It’s pure, guiltless, holiday indulgence.

So hop on over to My New Roots and check out my winning cranberry & pear tart (OK, done bragging now). And thank you Sarah B., I am sincerely flattered and honored to be featured on your blog.

I’ll be making the tart again for Christmas. So Family, you’re in for a treat. I can’t wait for you to try this.

To all, here’s wishing you a very merry holiday with lots of love, delicious treats and happy memories. Cheers!

Cranberry & Pear Tart


For the crust:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
75 g whole grain flour

For the filling:
2 pears, sliced thin
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tbsp. ground flax
6 Tbsp. water or pear juice
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
zest of 1 organic lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Grease a 9” tart pan with a little coconut oil and press crust evenly along the bottom of the pan. Place pear slices in a layer on top of the crust.
3. For the filling, combine the flax with the water or juice and set aside until a gel forms. Mix the cranberries with remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the gel and fold to mix. Pour filling on top of crust and pear layer and spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow tart cool completely before removing from tart pan (approx.1 hour, or place in the fridge).

Dessert Makeover: Pumpkin Pie Bars – Guest Post on Glass Heel

I’m back on Glass Heel today with a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Bars. Who says dessert can’t be indulgent and healthy too? Get the recipe here.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!


Smoothie Weather

I am loving this 70 degree weather in January! It’s days like these that I’m glad I live in Dallas. There are very few places on the planet where you get a day like today in the middle of winter. I’ve been out running errands and its so warm I broke a sweat! Skinny jeans were a bad idea. And my car’s AC picked the wrong day to go on the fritz. I needed a cold treat when i got home so I mixed this up with our new Bamix immersion blender — the most amazing kitchen tool ever — and it’s so delicious and cooling and satisfying as I’m sitting here in my damp skinny jeans that I just had to share. Yay for smoothie weather!

Mango Banana Orange Smoothie

1 frozen banana

Handful of frozen mango chunks

Orange juice

Blend together until smooth. Enjoy!

If you don’t have frozen fruit you can use fresh and just add ice to make it cold. I find frozen fruit gives the best consistency though. Freeze leftover banana pieces and keep them in the freezer to use in smoothies.